The Shipping Forecast

Calypso gave them a rundown of the day; from Cyclone Bridgid, to the absent Ryan (Hercules snorted at the food poisoning excuse, it was totally a hangover), to Blodwen, and the shipment tracker.

She concluded with. “So tomorrow I’ll be on phone duty as well, but will hopefully have another person at the desk and will need to run through juggling the other interviews I have.”

After dinner, Jason asked for help on the seating plan for the wedding reception. “The planner’s doing most of it obviously, but she’s not going to know who to put together and who to keep apart.”

Calypso replied. “I’m not going to be all that much better, and you know how fast things change at Z Corp, this week’s best friends could be deadly enemies on Monday.”

Hercules snorted. “Even knowing that is useful, our planner is a little bundle of sweetness and light and cannot get her head around even a standard family feud, let alone something as convoluted as the products of Zeus’s love life.”

The next morning, Calypso arrived at the Lir Shipping office to find Bridgid already in.

She poked her head out of the inner office as Calypso came in through the open door and began discarding coat and bag. “Good to see you weren’t scared off yesterday. No word from Ryan, so he should be in. Work with him on those appointments you mentioned.”

With that, she disappeared and Calypso blinked, then got on with setting up for the day.

She’d just made it through her first call, mostly successfully, when a tall skinny boy ambled through the door. He stopped when he saw Calypso then slouched into what on Adonis or Narcissus would look like a casually sexy pose. On this boy, it looked like stomach cramps.

“Well hello there. If I’d known what was waiting for me, I would have made more of an effort to make it in yesterday.”

Calypso eyed him up and down, then dismissed him in favour of the email inbox.

He wasn’t discouraged. He lounged around the desk and drew the second chair up close to hers. “So, what’s your name?”

She turned her head and gave him her best cold smile. “Who’s asking?”

He stuck his hand out. “Ryan, I’m an executive trainee here.”

She put her hand in his, then withdrew it as he tried to lift it to his lips. “Calypso, interim Head of Reception.”

The phone rang, it was on the other side of Ryan. He ignored it.

She looked at the phone, then at him. “Could you answer that please?”

Ryan gave her a wink. It looked like he’d got something stuck in his eye. “What’s in it for me?”

Bridgid stuck her head out of the inner door. “You don’t get fired. Back off and don’t make me write you up for sexual harassment.”

Ryan spun to the phone and answered it. From what Calypso could see, when he wasn’t in attempted Casanova mode, he was actually quite good at his job.

There was a rush of calls and emails, keeping them both busy for the next hour.

He tried again though, during the mid-morning lull. “So, what are you doing Friday night?”

Calypso thought about it. “Either catching up with friends from my old work, or heading down to the country to see someone.”

“Sounds fun, I might have to tag along. Where did you used to work?”

She replied. “Z Corp.”

Ryan squeaked. “Really? So you know, like Eros? And Adonis? Are there lots of cute girls there?”

He’d transformed into a puppy, all big, hopeful eyes and bounce, Calypso laughed. “I know Adonis, I had very little to do with Eros, and while there are a lot of women there, the Head of HR doesn’t look kindly on workplace flirtations.”

He answered. “Well I’m not in Z Corp, so that would be fine, right?”

She looked at him, then said. “If we decide to get together on Friday, I might consider including you in the group, if you can convince me that you would treat my friends with respect and you wouldn’t try any of those lines or moves you had a go at this morning.”

“But I copied them off Adonis.”

Calypso shook her head. “Who you aren’t. Be Ryan. Trust me, it’ll go down way better.”

The phone rang at that moment and Ryan returned to his work.

Just before lunch, the lift disgorged someone into their foyer. The first person, other than Ryan and Bridgid, Calypso had seen all morning.

Unfortunately, it was Hermes.

He swaggered in, smirk firmly in place. “Well, hello there Princess, bit of a downgrade for you.”

Calypso looked around the small reception area and the gangly boy sitting next to her. “Not that I’ve noticed. What makes you say that?”

Hermes apparently decided on a different plan of attack.

“So are you off to see Mr Sexy this weekend?”

Calypso rolled her eyes. “Mr Sexy is the mystery man who rescued Circe. Why on earth would I be flying to Milan for the weekend to see someone I don’t even know?”

She leaned forward. “If you’re going to gabble, be useful. Have they found out who he is yet?”

Hermes blinked at the unexpected frontal attack and needed a few attempts before he re-found his voice. “Why would I be interested in the life of some dumb receptionist?”

“And yet, here you are, asking about my weekend.”

Ryan snorted, then ducked his head, becoming apparently absorbed in emails.

Hermes snorted. “I’m here on Z Corp business. Nothing to do with you.”

Calypso raised her brows. “And that business would be?”

“Like I said. Nothing to do with you.”

She rolled her eyes. “Hermes, you’re the Z Corp courier. You’re here to pick something up, or drop something off, or gossip as apparently that’s part of your job description. In all cases, that goes through Reception. Me. Here. Now.”

“I’m here to see Bridgid.”

Calypso smiled and stood. “Certainly. I’ll let her know you’re here.”

She rose and knocked on the inner office door, poking her head through at Bridgid’s answer. “Hermes is here to see you.”

She then opened the door fully and waved the courier through.

As soon as the door closed behind him, Ryan hissed. “THAT’s Hermes?”

“Yes, disappointing isn’t he.”

“And you talk to him like that?”

Calypso smiled. “He’s a snarky brat, if you don’t snark back he’ll steamroll right over you. It’s rather fun actually.”

Ryan gave her a wide-eyed stare and returned to his work.

About half an hour later, Hermes reappeared, sauntering past them, trying not to scowl.

As he walked through the door, he tossed over his shoulder. “By the way, Princess, Zeus wants to see you.”

Calypso didn’t look up from her screen. “That’s nice. The feeling’s not mutual.”

Hermes didn’t reply and the ding of the lift an instant later heralded his exit.

Bridgid walked out of the office and leaned against the side of the reception desk. “Scurried off back to boss-boy has he?”

She snorted and went on. “He wasn’t very happy when I called his bluff just now.”

Calypso’s stomach sank. “It wasn’t something to do with me was it?”

Bridgid nodded, eyes still on the lift. “Wanted me to toss you out or they’d cancel their contract. I told him unless he could get me an experienced senior receptionist who could use our tracking system within an hour, he could go right ahead and cancel.”

The air left Calypso’s lungs, Bridgid smirked at the empty foyer. “We have Apollo’s entire spring collection in transit from forty locations right now. They start playing games with our contract and I can get everything sent back in three phone calls.”

Calypso was worried. “But what about after that? They could still cancel it after delivery?”

“By which time we’ll be loading up the summer collection and the latest homewares range. Besides, even if they do downgrade to someone else, they’ll be back fast enough and we’ve plenty of other clients in the meantime.”

She eyed Calypso. “I’ve no idea what you’ve done to get their knickers in such a knot but you’re turning up and doing the job which is more than I can say for many. Besides, I don’t appreciate people trying to bully me. You’re fine to see out the two weeks.”

Calypso smiled. “Thank you. It’s actually a row between Zeus and my father.”

Bridgid’s face cleared. “Ah, you’re Atlas’s daughter. We used to run your shipments back in the day too. Good to see you breaking free of the fashion bubble and getting out in the real world.”

She turned and went back in to the office. “If anyone from Z Corp, other than Demeter, shows up, I’m not in.”

Calypso stared at the now closed door, then shook out her shoulders and got back to work, ignoring Ryan’s wide-eyed stare.

That afternoon, while confirming Ryan was able to cover for her interviews on Thursday and Friday, her phone pinged.

She finished the conversation, then checked it. Herne. Photo as promised. I think I need lighting and angle tips. Any chance of a lesson this weekend?

Calypso felt her cheeks heat as she tried to keep her grin contained in a professional smile.

Ryan nodded at her phone. “Message from that guy then?”

She tried playing dumb. “What guy?”

“The one Hermes tried to hassle you about but got the name wrong. And what was the story on that anyway? Your old office sounds way more exciting than this one.”

Calypso snorted. “Exciting is overrated. If you take that call so I can reply to ‘that guy’, I’ll tell you the story.”

Ryan hit the phone answer button and Calypso, smiling again at the picture of rolling fields under a chilly blue sky and two out-of-focus dogs, sent a quick reply. A very good chance if you’re able to provide chauffeur services to and from the station. Saturday morning?

The reply was immediate. Send me the time once you have the booking. I’ll be there.

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