The following morning, Calypso dealt with the overnight emails and voice messages, then left Ryan in charge, promising coffee and cake on her return.
The interview with Midas Private Banking Corporation was a ten-minute walk from the Lir Shipping office, but a world away in presentation.
She blinked as she walked into the foyer of the artfully preserved building in a quietly genteel back street. Where Z Corp was acres of marble and smooth, elegant lines, and Lir was comfortably nautical, the Midas reception area was ornate, ostentatious, and gold.
The carpet was patterned with stylised gold chains and occasional gem-shaped accents in ruby and emerald. The Louis XV chairs in the waiting area, thankfully not gilded, boasted gold silk cushions; and the reception desk, a massive, carved and curlicued affair, must have had some special finish on it, as it shone like the metal itself.
Calypso approached the desk and identified herself.
The receptionist, a polished blonde in a black suit and not-quite-discreet-enough gold jewellery, looked a little dismayed but directed her to a chair and picked up the phone.
“The receptionist applicant is here.”
She glanced at Calypso, who pretended not to be listening, and lowered her voice.
“No, very neatly presented, nice voice, right accent. It’s just…”
Her voice lowered again, but not enough. “She’s not blonde, and you know what he’s like…”
Calypso bit her lip on a smile. It sounded like this interview was headed for the scrap heap already and, looking around her, she wasn’t sorry. The place was stuffier than her father’s boardroom, for all its shine. Still, an interview was an interview and a job was a job, she would do her best.
Another woman appeared in the reception area, every bit as blonde as the first, with even less-discreet jewellery. She gave Calypso a cool once over, then waved a hand towards the meeting rooms at the back of the area.
Calypso obediently stood and followed, wondering how long it would take before her hair colour was mentioned.
The woman managed to avoid the topic until the end of the interview. She picked up the papers she’d brought with her and tapped them on the desk. “You’re a strong candidate, however there are certain requirements the company has in terms of brand.”
Calypso raised her brows politely. “Brand?”
The woman inclined her head. “Our CEO, Midas, believes our strong association with gold reinforces our ability to generate wealth and be trusted with our clients’ funds. As such, we require all client-facing staff to incorporate gold into their appearance.”
Calypso smiled sweetly. “Oh I prefer gold jewellery to silver, that’s no problem.”
The woman’s lips pinched. “Your hair, I’m afraid, is a little too … earthy… for brand consistency. How soon can you have it dyed gold?”
Calypso looked shocked. “Oh, I couldn’t, blonde looks terrible with my skin tone.”
Her interviewer’s face soured further. “I’m afraid it’s not negotiable. Our brand is very important to us.”
Calypso stood. “I see. It seems I would be a poor fit then. Thank you for your time.”
She turned and walked out, feeling proud of herself for not giving in. It lasted to the end of the block, when the nerves kicked in. She’d walked out of a job interview. Over her hair colour. She fought to keep her breathing even. She had another interview tomorrow and that one sounded way better anyhow.
She needed to talk to someone. Not Herne, he wouldn’t understand however much he’d try. The Z Corp crew would all be busy. She messaged Amy.
I just walked out of an interview because they wanted me to dye my hair blonde. Please tell me I’m not an idiot.
Amy called her. “No offence, but you’d look awful blonde.”
Calypso fought a grin. “That’s what I told them. Apparently it’s important for brand consistency.”
Amy snorted. “Sounds like someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Who was the company?”
“Midas Private Bank.”
Amy made a rude noise. “Oh, you’re much better off away from them. Terrible reputation. All about short term gains and no regard for strategic investment. They probably treat their staff badly too, I bet their loos are awful.”
Calypso sputtered out a laugh. “Thank you, I needed that. I was so proud of myself for walking out but it felt so stupid when I thought about it. I’ve heard about people checking the loos as part of their interview process, is it real?”
“Absolutely, especially if you can get into the staff ones, it’s the first place they start cutting costs, that and the coffee supplies. So you’re talking to the startup place tomorrow?”
Calypso said. “I’m impressed you remembered.”
Amy’s grin sounded in her voice. “It’s the only non-baby thing anyone’s talked to me about. Give me something to research on it and I’ll fill you in this evening.”
Amy’s voice turned pleading. “Please? I am loving being a mama and Joshua is beyond adorable but I’m bored!”
Calypso replied. “If you’re sure. It’s Yggdrasil Ventures. The founder’s a woman by the name of Hel.”
“Ohh, female led, I like it already. I’ll do some stalkery things and fill you in on our usual call.”
Calypso smiled. “I’m looking forward to it.”
They ended the call and Calypso made her way back to the Lir offices, via a café for the promised coffee and cake.
Ryan looked up as she came in. “How did it go?”
She put her purchases on the desk between them. “They wanted me to dye my hair blonde.”
He looked at her suspiciously, she nodded. “I’m serious. I couldn’t believe it either.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Nope, can’t see it. I think you should go for the other job.”
She laughed. “I think so too. Fingers crossed the other job agrees.”
The daily photo from Herne wasn’t blurry for once, but showed heavy skies and a wet, grey world beneath. Calypso commented. Looks like you put a black-and-white filter on that. Is more rain expected for the weekend?
Herne replied. No filter, not even sure where to find them and yes we’re in for a wet weekend. The long term locals are predicting floods.
Calypso grimaced. That’s not good, I heard the last time it flooded, the whole of Little Melting was cut off for two days.
Just as well we’re going to be staying at Wildwood then. Mr Green’s off on a house-hunting expedition in the North and wangled us into cat companion duty, it wasn’t a hard sell.
She sent a smiley face back and returned to emails.
As she and Ryan packed up at the end of the day, she said casually. “By the way, I’m catching up with the Z Corp crew tomorrow evening. If you don’t have anything else on, you’re welcome to join us.”
Ryan’s eyes went wide and he nodded frantically.
She gave him a stern look. “None of that silly stuff from Tuesday remember. These people work with Adonis, and Eros.”
Ryan grinned and nodded again, then came as close as a trying-to-be-cool boy could to skipping out of the office.
Calypso bit her lip on a chuckle and wondered whether she should warn Ryan that Adonis would be there, or vice versa.
Amy called at her usual time. “You definitely want the Yggdrasil job. They’re super well connected and run a really good programme. Apparently Hel was originally involved with Valhalla Investments’ accelerator but left as she felt their selection criteria was too narrow, discriminated against female and minority founders, and created businesses with unhealthily aggressive cultures.”
Calypso blinked. “Wow, that’s pretty comprehensive.”
“I’m quoting from an interview she did with Small Business Magazine a year or so ago.”
They talked for a few more moments, then signed off.
Unlocking the door of the flat, Calypso frowned at the sound of voices.
Jason met her in the entryway. “We decided we’ve both been working far too hard recently and are reclaiming personal time.”
Calypso smiled and joined them in the living area as soon as she’d shed coat and bag.
Hercules handed her a glass of wine. “I’m still officially on-call of course, but we’re both going to be leaving work an hour earlier for the next few weeks – unless there’s something that specifically needs us.”
Calypso said. “I think it’s a great idea. Your wedding will be here before you know it and you need time to organise that; as well as time to just unwind.”
Jason clinked their glasses together. “And this evening is officially designated as unwind time. Heads up though, I’m going to spend Saturday getting a to-do list together and I’m going to hand you half of it when you get back from your dirty weekend.”
Calypso felt her cheeks heat. “It’s not like that.”
Jason smirked. “With that gorgeous man, I hope it’s exactly like that; otherwise I’ll be very disappointed.”
Hercules took pity on her and changed the subject, sort of. “Speaking of gorgeous men. I’ve managed to get a zoomed-in CCTV snap of Circe’s sexy beast. It’s not great quality but do you want to see?”
Calypso snorted. “On what planet would my answer be ‘no’? What’s he like?”
Hercules pulled the picture up on his phone and handed it to her. The image was grainy and black-and-white. It seemed to be a theme for her day.
The man was standing next to the reception desk, Calypso presumed he was talking to Circe from the direction of his gaze. He was tall, with broad, powerful shoulders, and pale hair pulled back into a smooth ponytail at the nape of his neck. It was hard to make out his eyes, but Calypso fancied they were probably pale as well. His features were strongly carved, set into serious lines. He didn’t look like he smiled often, unlike Herne.
All in all, while he certainly wasn’t her type, she could see why Circe was aflutter. She messaged her friend.
Hercules just showed me a CCTV still of your Mr Sexy. You definitely need to find him.
Circe replied. I need a private detective. It’s driving me nuts. Or maybe it’s the cravings, maybe it’s them driving me nuts. Either way, I’m losing my mind and my new wardrobe can’t arrive soon enough.