Friday Drinks

Thursday was a close copy of Wednesday, but with only one meeting request and no salary-chopping recruiters. Instead she managed to find one that organised monthly meet-ups for its candidates and put her name down for their next one, in a fortnight’s time.

On Friday, Calypso heard from Hecate, as well as Circe, and Herne.

She’d sent the photos to Herne on Sunday evening with a request to pass the ones of the cat and Caval on to Mr Green. Herne wrote:

Good to hear the menagerie went down well. I’ve included Mr Green’s comments below to make you laugh. You may need to send me a video, telling Owlbert that you won’t visit if he keeps being a brat. Ivy is moping and so am I. Holly is fed up with the lot of us.

Below that was the email to Herne from Mr Green.

Tell Calypso that if those fashion people want to decorate their offices with pictures of animals instead of unnatural-looking people, far be it from me to stand in their way. Gives me a right chuckle to think of it. She has a good eye and a kind lens, I’m inclined to hang a couple of these myself.

Circe’s message was more of a rant.

I am so bored! There’s no one good to talk to and I’m being hormonal and grumpy. Some genius in HR decided that the Cross Company Reception Team was a thing and that it needed its own chat group. It’s inane until lunchtime, when Scylla gets on and eviscerates everyone. She’s not even witty about it. The only people who seem to be having fun with it are the Asia Pacific lot, which I can’t get into, because I’m asleep when they’re awake. So I sit and sulk and stay out of Scylla’s firing line.

Hecate’s was typically short.

That sucks. Learn to code and I might have a spot for you here.

Calypso looked up coding courses and quailed, then looked up Bangkok and gulped, then thought about working for her mother and shuddered. Her reply was equally short.

Thank you for the offer, I’ll see what I can do – of course whatever she could do was unlikely to involve coding any time soon

She returned to Circe’s message. There wasn’t really a lot she could say.

That group sounds frustrating. I could ask Clio to add you to the London Reception group if you want. Although I’ve heard none of them work on reception any more, so it might not be a thing now. If it’s still there, they’re a lovely bunch and I’m sure they’d be happy to hear from you. I’m not exactly run off my feet with interviews at the moment, so give me a call if you need to chat.

She hit ‘send’. Now she could concentrate on replying to Herne. Several rewrites later, she sent:

I’ll try and send some in situ shots of the animals in all their glory. Purely for Mr Green’s chuckles you understand. Please tell Ivy I’m moping too and I’ll start looking up hints and tips on how best to scold an owl by video. I’m thankful you warned me about the early stages of the hunt. This week’s not been much fun but knowing it’s the warm-up I have to have makes it a bit better. Missing you all.

She knew she should keep an eye on her inbox, and the job boards but the thought of Herne, and the animals, and Wildwood Grange, made it impossible to stay indoors. She grabbed the camera and set off for a walk along the river.

The light wasn’t right for photos though, even the swans came through on her screen as drab, and she had just turned back when her phone rang. This time it didn’t drop out when she answered it.

“Hello, this is Calypso speaking.”

“Oh thank goodness, I’ve been trying to get hold of reception people all afternoon and it’s been a nightmare. Are you able to do an emergency fill-in for us for a couple of weeks, starting Monday?”

Calypso blinked at the rapid-fire voice at the other end of the call. “I have a couple of appointments I will need to attend but I’m sure things can be arranged. Could you give me some details?”

The woman paused, and barked out a laugh. “I’ve started in the middle haven’t I. Well you were calm enough in your response, so you just might work. I’m the office manager for Lir Shipping. Our florist delivery driver gave me your details when I was having a melt-down earlier and suggested you’d be able to help us out.”

“The helping out being the reception job for the next two weeks?”

“Yes, our Senior Receptionist has broken her ankle and there’s no way our Junior’s up to the task on his own. Lovely boy, but a lot to learn. Which agency are you with? I’ll give them a call to organise the paperwork.”

“Um, Delphi People Management? I’ve only dealt with Pythia though and I think contracts sit in a different area.”

“Oh yes, I’m well-across that lot. I’ll get it sorted and see you on Monday.”

Calypso rushed in before the woman could hang up. “The address?”

She got it, and gave her email address in return, then hung up. She said to the swans. “That was unexpected.”

The swans didn’t reply.

She checked the time and raced back to the apartment to change and get to the pub for Hercules’s Friday drinks.

She got there first and managed to snag the booth they’d sat in for her previous visit. Hercules arrived shortly after, followed by Jason, Adonis and Narcissus, then Clio, and Thalia, and the rest of her reception team.

Clio hugged her as Calliope grabbed a spare chair and wriggled it into the last tiny space at the end of the table. “We never got to give you a leaving party, so we’re having it now.”

The group cheered and Thalia handed her a small, beautifully wrapped box. “It’s something to remember us by.”

Calypso looked around at the smiling faces, swallowed hard and carefully undid the wrapping paper.

Jason groaned. “Argh! You’re just like Herc. Rip it already!”

Calypso didn’t recognise the logo stamped on the box, she frowned and carefully lifted the lid. Inside, ready to flit away at any moment, was a perfect pair of butterfly earrings.

Jason nudged her. “Arachne had input, but these are subtle enough for everyday wear as well.”

Calypso dabbed at her eyes. “And I am going to be wearing them every day.”

She took out the gold hoops she’d chosen for the evening and carefully replaced them with the gold and pink crystal gift.

“What do you think?”

Clio clapped her hands. “Gorgeous. They’re totally you.”

Calliope took a photo and handed Calypso the phone. “Do you like them?”

“I love them.”

Calliope took her phone back. “Arachne says you can add drops to them to bling them up for special events.”

She paused. “She didn’t actually say ‘bling’ but it’s what she meant.”

Narcissus leaned across. “I like them. Now on to other subjects. How’s the job search? Is it utterly awful?”

She gave them the short and funny version of her interview with Margery, and finished by saying. “And I might have made a little bit of progress this afternoon.”

She took a sip of her wine, it was a little disconcerting having every eye in the group fixed on her. “I had a call from Lir Shipping. They need an emergency replacement for their receptionist for a couple of weeks.”

Jason said. “That’s great news! They’re the group we use for all our international shipments, and even some of the local stuff when it’s big enough. They’re a good outfit from what I’ve heard.”

Hercules added. “They’d have to be; there’s no way Demeter would keep them on if they weren’t the best available.”

Calypso added. “The woman on the phone was a bit light on details, but I’m to start on Monday and she’s promised to have a contract sorted with Delphi by then.”

Adonis huffed. “That’s good news and all, but I really want to hear about Mr Gorgeous from the cottage.”

Jason hissed. “I told you not to mention that. You know how private she is.”

Too late; all of the women were clamouring for details.

Hercules tried to deflect. “He was a neighbour of the cottage Calypso was staying in and she took some great photos of his animals. They’re going up around the office in the next few weeks and you’ll love them. There’s even an owl.”

Jason on the other hand, had clearly decided the horse had bolted and closing the stable door was pointless. “He’s gorgeous and she’s under very stern orders to bring him along to our wedding. AND he kissed her, right in front of me and Herc, and it was honestly so romantic. I swear if she’s not on the train down for a visit in the next couple of weekends, we’re having words.”

Calypso closed her eyes and breathed a few times.

“But would Daddy approve? That is the question.”

Everyone’s eyes snapped to Hermes, casually leaning over one side of the booth’s chest-high dividers.

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