The house and letter opening elements of this are going to have to either go, or be seriously edited, this version gave a writing friend who happens to be a lawyer heart palpitations (not in a good way).
The next morning, Lir Shipping’s reception area was brightened by the delivery of an enormous bunch of flowers, accompanying a very awkward note of apology from Narcissus.
The rest of the week was quiet. No Hermes strutting into the place like he owned it. No inexplicable meeting invitations. No unexpected phone calls. By the end of it, Calypso’s nerves were worn to a frazzle.
Herne kept up with his daily photos, they hadn’t improved much, but they had a different meaning now. When they arrived, and if she was able, she’d phone and they’d talk about everything and nothing. She said nothing of her conversation with Cernunnos. She did tell him about the flowers though, which he grudgingly accepted as a suitable apology – but only because she did.
Circe’s clothes arrived and she was reprimanded for having a competitor label delivered to the office. She returned serve with a fire-and-brimstone discrimination complaint which led to Psyche being pulled out of Hestia’s area to project-lead a new maternity range. Jason sniggered.
When Friday rolled around, Calypso opted out of any pub plans and spent the evening on a video chat with Circe, then Herne
According to Jason, on his and Hercules’ return, the group had taken her absence as a sign she was still upset over the nightwear and both Thalia and Narcissus had been told off, again, several times over.
It wasn’t until her phone rang on Saturday morning that she realised how long it had been since she’d heard from Amy. She wandered out onto the balcony to take the call.
She barely got a ‘hello’ out before Amy started talking. “I’m so sorry I haven’t called but Joshua has started sleeping more, not through the night yet, but longer, so it’s not a good time to phone any more. Is it too crazy that I miss being woken up in the middle of the night rather than just early in the morning?”
Calypso smiled, it was good to hear her voice. “It’s fine, and good to hear he’s developing. Sleeping longer’s a good sign, isn’t it?”
“Oh yes, but you’re about to go into this new job and I have had the best brainwave. You should set up your own business, doing that homewares line, and use the courses and workshops at Yggdrasil to help you.”
Calypso gulped. “I can’t, that was a Z Corp project. And I don’t think I’ll have time.”
Amy was implacable. “Then you make time. And as far as Z Corp goes, I checked their rules, and your contract. Since they abandoned the project so early, they have no rights over the IP of any new concepts you create from here on in. You might not be able to use the exact items you presented to them, but I’m pretty sure you’ve already moved on and improved them anyway, even if it’s just in your head.”
She had, but she was still worried. “I think they’d still come after me.”
“And you’ll have Hel right beside you, plus me. Just think about it alright?”
Calypso agreed, dubiously. Amy was right about the improved pieces floating around in her head. It might be nice to get them out, even if she didn’t do anything with them. But even if she did, and she set up a little business of some sort, she really couldn’t take advantage of of Hel and Yggradsil. She was there to look after the people they were funding, not try and be one of them.
Amy chatted on. “So I’m finally starting to get out and about again. Meeting up with people for long enough to move past the baby-cooing bit and get into actual conversation, it’s such a relief. Do you have any plans for the weekend? Oh! Did you have fun last weekend?”
“Last weekend was lovely. This weekend…” Calypso grimaced. “Not so much. I’ve been invited to tea with The Fates on Sunday afternoon, so it’s sort of looming over the whole thing.”
“And you don’t even have wind-down time after them. Atlas told me about them when we were together. They sound super-strange and creepy.”
She replied. “They’re strange and creepy. I don’t know why everyone runs around them, I don’t know why I’m running around them. But I am, and I hope they don’t drop any more bombshells on me.”
There was a knock on the door of the apartment, Jason went to open it, and came back with Hermes, and Calliope. Calypso said to Amy. “I think I might have visitors. I’ll let you know how the Fates go, and hope to catch up during the week.”
They said their goodbyes, and Calypso walked into the sitting room, eyes flicking between Calliope’s poker face and Hermes’ shifting awkwardness.
Hermes spoke first. “I found where your father’s letters went.”
He held out a sheaf of handwritten pages. Calypso took them and looked through. The earliest one was dated from just after he’d gone to Singapore. She looked up again. “Who opened these?”
Calliope replied. “The person living in the house your father intended you to have.”
Calypso, Hercules and Jason chorused. “WHAT?”
She sighed. “Can we sit down? I think this might take a while. And tea. It’s definitely going to take tea.”
Hercules put the kettle on.
Calliope sat and pulled a second set of papers out of her bag. “After your friend in Singapore was so insistent about seeing your contract. I thought it might be a good idea to take a look.”
She put the pages on the coffee table. “The long and the short is, as Titan Clothing sank, your father bought a small row house in your name. There’s a specific article about it in his contract that it is yours and in no way connected to the company. He’s been sending letters to you at that address, as he no doubt believes you’re living there.”
Hercules put a cup of tea in front of Calypso. “Or should I get you something extremely alcoholic?”
Her sight was closing in, she took deep breaths. There was no way she was giving Hermes the satisfaction of seeing her faint a second time. When the roaring in her ears had faded, she picked up the cup. Tea did help.
“Since I’m not living there, who is? And why do they feel they’re entitled to read my private correspondence?”
Hermes replied. “Danae.”
Calypso looked at him. “Who is she?”
Jason answered. “Another of Zeus’s bits on the side.”
Her temples were starting to pound. “I don’t know what to do.”
Calliope’s expression hardened. “For now, you do nothing. This is a blatant contract violation and has been reported to both Areas and Hera.”
Hermes’ head whipped around. “You what?!”
Was it strange to want to giggle at how high his voice just went?
Calliope shut Hermes down with a look, then returned to the discussion. “I have had a long chat with Danae about the consequences of reading, and sharing, the content of private letters, as well as squatting illegally in someone else’s property. When I left, she was making a phone call. There was a lot of wailing. I’m hoping it was Zeus on the other end.”
Hermes shook his head. “Oh you are so getting fired.”
She smirked. “No I’m not, because Hera is going to be all over this. And I’ve already told them exactly who I’ll be talking to in the media, and government, if they try anything.”
Hercules blew out a breath. “Remind me to never upset you.”
Calliope took the compliment, then nodded at the pile of papers in Calypso’s hand. “Danae complained they didn’t contain anything useful, so I think your father was expecting snooping, but it’s something at least.”
Calypso bit her lip. “It’s a very big something. Thank you so much.”
Once the visitors had left, Calypso retreated to her room to catch up on two years of letters from her father. Danae was correct, they didn’t contain any news, but they did contain a father’s concern.
Going through them took a long time. One minute she was in tears because he cared, the next she was in tears because he had no idea who she was. He cared for a girl who no longer existed, who’d maybe never existed.
The promises he made in the letters, of finding a good man to look after her, to give her a house in the best part of London, to take her to all the best places and to introduce her to all the best people. She didn’t want that. She wanted one who treated her as an equal, enjoyed cozy, lazy Sunday mornings, and took really bad photos.
Herne’s daily picture had arrived at some point during the morning and she found a laugh she didn’t know she had to see the view obscured by a wagging tail. He had to be doing it on purpose.
She phoned him. It went to voicemail.
“Hi, it’s me. Just wanted to see how you were, and hadn’t been taken out by whoever’s tail that was. I found out someone has been stealing my father’s letters to me and reading them. If you have time later, I’d love to chat. Um, that’s all. Miss you…”
He didn’t call back. Maybe he was working.
She headed back out into the main area for more tea. She answered the question her flatmates were biting their tongues on.
“They don’t say much. Don’t mention Amy at all.” She sighed and shook her head. “They’re clearly written with love, but they’re so close to the letters he wrote me when I went to the cottage without him for the summer from when I was ten, he may as well have just copied them.”
“Ouch.” Hercules offered her a chocolate biscuit. “I know it doesn’t really help but, chocolate.”
She laughed at that. “Always chocolate.”
She stretched and stood. “I think I’ll go for a walk, is there anything you want me to bring back?”
She left the building with an order for lemon drizzle cake from a local bakery, and wandered along the riverbank.
Still nothing from Herne, not even a text. Maybe Cernunnos was right, maybe he was moving on. Moving on to someone else who he could see regularly and wasn’t constantly being chased by strange, stupid dramas.
And that suggestion of Amy’s about the business; was that what Calliope was warning her about? That if she took the product ideas spinning around in her head and did something with them, it would lead to trouble with Z Corp, and more pain for her father? And her?
She walked and fretted until her brain finally wore itself out. Maybe the appointment with the Fates would prove useful for a change. She snorted, and turned to head back the way she’d come.
There was a man striding towards her. It looked like Herne. She checked around him. No dogs. She looked again. It was him, jaw set, golden eyes sparking beneath stern brows. She’d never seen him look so serious.
He reached her. “What, exactly, did that idiot say to you?”
She blinked. “Which idiot?”
She got a hint of a reluctant smile. “Know a few, do you? Cernunnos.”
She studied the muddy path at their feet. “Nothing worth remembering or repeating.”
“And yet you’re upset.”
That made her look up. “Not over him. He was laughable. Did you not get my voicemail?”
He dug for his phone. “Crap, missed that, must have been while I was driving up here.”
Before she could stop him, he’d started listening to it. He hung up and reached out. She’d missed being in his arms so much.