It was some time before they started back down the path again.
She asked. “How did you find me? I only told Jason and Hercules I was going for a walk.”
“I saw you as I was trying to find a place to park. Took forever to find one, otherwise I would have caught up with you earlier.”
“And where are the dogs? It feels strange, them not being with you.”
Herne snorted. “Cernunnos is taking care of them. Least he can do after sticking his oar in like that.”
They returned to the flat with the promised cake, Jason turned as they walked in and whooped. “Look who our girl found. And just in time for tea.”
Hercules shook Herne’s hand in greeting, while replying to his fiancé. “No inquisition until at least the second slice of cake.”
Jason put the kettle on.
Herne was talked into staying the night. That stash of emergency clothes in his car proved useful yet again, although he did have to pop out for a toothbrush.
Hercules asked. “If you weren’t planning on staying, why come all this way?”
Herne replied. “To prove Cernunnos wrong, to make sure Calypso hadn’t listened to him, and to plead my case in person if she had.”
He looked at her, tucked under his arm on the sofa. “I knew you were too smart to take his idiot statements at face value but he can be annoyingly convincing when he wants to be.”
She said. “I still don’t understand why he’s so keen to chase me off.”
Jason chuckled. “I’m going with Circe’s theory. You’re putting up hurdles in a bromance, Petal.”
Conversation moved to the wedding, now just over two months away, and the new, improved plans, courtesy of Dionysius’s event-planning brilliance.
Hercules asked Herne. “You are coming aren’t you? I know we haven’t done the official invitations yet, they’re going to be hideously last-minute, but we would love you to be there with Calypso.”
Herne frowned. “I’d like to, but weekends are workdays for me more often than not, so I can’t make any promises.”
He squeezed her shoulders. “That’s if you want me there, of course. You could be planning some sort of mad girls’ night.”
She smiled at him. “If you can make it, I’d love you to be there. If you can’t, I’ll send photos.”
She looked across at Jason and Hercules. “And have a mad girls’ night with Clio, Adonis, and the others.”
Herne said. “Isn’t Adonis a guy?”
She smirked. “Details.”
It felt strange having Herne share the bed that wasn’t really hers. Not bad, just strange.
As she curled up next to him, she said. “That inquisition wasn’t as bad as I thought.”
Herne replied. “Only because you distracted them with their wedding then got Hercules onto work stories.”
She chuckled. “I liked the horse one.”
“Cleaning up a stately home after some asshole put an entire herd through it for a photo shoot? That’s hard core hero work.”
“The photos won quite a few awards.”
Herne snorted, then asked. “And what did you think of them?”
Calypso thought for a minute. “If you’re that desperate to get a horse in your photos, take it outside. I found them disturbing and stressful, could never say so of course. It was Eros and they won awards…”
“Such a strange world…”
She snuggled closer. “All worlds are strange, just in different ways.”
Herne headed back straight after breakfast. “Pretty sure Cernunnos has got the point, and animals like doing awkward things that need vets on weekends.”
Calypso walked with him to his car. When they got there, he said. “I know things are likely to be busy for you with the new job and their wedding and everything, but any time you want a country break, get on that train and either I, or Mr Grey, will pick you up from the station.”
She laughed at that. “I’d like to come down every weekend, but that’s a bit much.”
He turned her to face him. “It’s not. I want this. I want a chance at us. And if that means juggling time between here and there, I want to do it.”
A sun rose inside her chest, warming and lighting her heart. “I want this too.”
His grin was as bright as that new sun inside her, his glance flicked away for a moment, he seemed shy for a moment. “So, see you at the station on Saturday?”
She raised her chin. “Friday night.”
That earned her a laugh and a fast, hard kiss, before he turned to open the door. “If I don’t leave now, I won’t, and between Cernunnos and the dogs, I need to get going.”
She stepped back, her cheeks were starting to hurt from the smile but that was just fine. “Give my love to them and Owlbert. Not Cernunnos, unless you think it would make him squirm.”
He lowered the window as he started the car. “I like it when you’re evil. See you Friday.”
Enough of that smile remained when she returned to the apartment that Jason took one look at her and said. “Oh my gods, he proposed.”
Calypso blushed. “What? No! We barely know each other. But I’m going to try and get down there as many weekends as I can.”
Hercules smiled. “I hope it works out, I like the two of you together. It’s a pity he couldn’t stick around and go see the Fates with you this afternoon.”
That did it, smile gone. She groaned. “I’d forgotten about that.”
She left early, determined to finally find something to send Amy, for both herself and Joshua. She found the perfect thing for her baby half-brother in a large toy shop with a huge area devoted to dress-up clothes.
It was a soft, well-made onsie, printed to look like a knight’s armour, complete with helmet hood and a tabard, front and back, printed with a red dragon. Perfect. She bought a larger size, so there was room to grow, and then bought one for Circe’s baby as well. If it turned out her baby was a girl, well, girls should be knights if they wanted, and Circe would love it.
Finding something for Amy was harder. Eventually, she found a beautiful photo frame, perfect for pictures of a little boy as he grew.
She sent Amy a message. Finally found a little something for Joshua, I think you’ll like it. Can you send me your address so I can pop it in the post?
Amy’s response was unexpected, but on reflection, really shouldn’t have been. Oh, just drop it at the family house in London. Whoever’s over there can bring it back with them. Much easier and usually quicker too.
She followed up with an address in the same street as Demeter’s home and added. I’ll let the housekeeper know to expect you.
There wasn’t enough time to drop it off before her appointment with the Fates, and also gave her a reason to leave when it got too much.
At the appointed hour, she knocked on the door of the Fates’ house and was greeted by the child. This time, she was shown to the front sitting room, rather than the workroom at the back.
The three women were already seated, a tea tray, gently steaming pot at the centre, set on a low table in front of them.
Calypso was waved to an armchair, it reminded her of the squishy monstrosity she’d all but sunk into when visiting Sybil at Delphi, so she perched on the edge, placing her bag by her feet.
She dug into it and pulled out a box of chocolates, it had seemed a safe option, and placed it on the table. “A little thank you for your kind invitation.”
One of the women huffed. “Your father may have done many things wrong but he certainly raised you to be polite enough.”
Her reply was a noncommittal smile.
Another of them, maybe, leaned forward, and began pouring the tea. “You’re curious though. Why have we asked you to tea? Why the invitation instead of our usual summons?”
Calypso said. “Yes, I am. Although it also occurred to me that, by giving me reasonable notice, I was more likely to be able to attend, and less likely to have Hermes in tow.”
That earned her a trio of chuckles.
She was handed a cup of tea, prepared exactly as she liked it, and the attendant child offered a plate of biscuits. She took one. They were the ones their housekeeper used to buy, her father had one every afternoon with his tea.
She nibbled it, then set on her saucer as she sipped the tea, aware of three, no four, sets of eyes on her. Why was the child watching her so avidly?
She asked. “Do I have dirt on my face or something?”
It was the child who answered. “No, you’re just so different to the first time. And even the second one. You don’t care any more.”
The three women shifted at that and one spoke. “Indeed. We’re concerned, Titan girl. You’re in danger of leaving our scope of Sight and we felt it appropriate to warn you.”
Calypso swallowed her immediate, delighted response. Not having this trio watching her every move like a bunch of critical ravens sounded wonderful.
She concentrated on placing the cup back on the saucer, aligning biscuit and handle perfectly opposite each other, then said. “What does that mean, exactly? What is sending me out of your sight and, if that’s my current path, how is a warning likely to change it?”
A teacup clattered. “Why child, it means you’re leaving Fashion. If you wish to stay in the world you were born to, you need to accept Zeus’s offer.”
“He hasn’t made me an offer.”
This response was a snort. “Only because you’ve turned avoiding the man into an art form.”
Calypso placed her cup and saucer on the table. “He stole my house and installed one of his mistresses in it, then charged me rent on a company flat, while she read my father’s personal correspondence. His offer is going to have to be a great deal more than just trying to hand me my old job back.”
The Fates shifted in their seats and glanced at each other, uncharacteristically awkward and silent.
She sighed, and stood. “I think we have nothing further to discuss.”
With that, she picked up her bag, and walked out. She paused on the front steps, to get her bearings, then headed towards the Tube station and the line to the London residence of the Quin Luong family.