Side Projects Front and Centre

She smiled, shook her head, scribbled a note with Circe’s email in it, and got back to her study of the submissions form, requirements and process.

When Tish returned, Calypso handed her a list of answers to the main questions her callers and visitors had been asking. “Go through this and get familiar with the information. We’re starting to get questions. Some of them will frustrate you as they’re asking for information that’s right in front of them, play it as a game. If you lose your cool, they win. If the information isn’t on here, take their email address and send the question to Ganglöt, cc’ing them.”

Tish squinted at her. “Why? Where are you going to be?”

She replied. “Downstairs, measuring the event space.”

“There’s already the building map, that’s got all the lengths and stuff on it.”

“But not the subdivisions and other weird details I want. If you need me, call, I’ll have my phone with me.”

“But if I call, I lose, right?”

“No. Because I know you won’t be calling me with a stupid question. Oh. One other thing. When Heimdall leaves, please give him this.”

Calypso put the note, tucked inside an envelope with his name on, on the top of the counter.

Tish smirked. “Asking him out are you? He is kind of hot in an icy sort of way.”

Calypso shook her head. “It’s a thank you note from a friend he saved from falling a few weeks ago.”

“Oh, hero complex as well as hot. Pity he’s not my type.”

Calypso refrained from asking what her type was, and made for the lifts.

She spent an hour with the carpenter’s tape measure and chalk she’d sent Tish for, making notes and sketching possible layouts in the large pad she’d brought back as well.

She got a call from an unknown number. It turned out to be Tish. “I am about to lose the game.”

She closed the notepad. “Grit your teeth and smile, it terrifies people for some reason. I’ll be right up.”

Calypso arrived at the desk to find Tish snarl-smiling at an officious-looking woman, with an anaemic young man hovering in her shadow. The woman turned her head when she arrived and said. “Well I hope you can be a little more forthcoming.”

She gave her a cool nod, then sat and made a show of re-logging in to her computer. “Now, what was it you needed?”

The woman puffed upright. “What I need, is for this young person to ensure my son’s company is added to the list of pre-selected businesses for this acceleration thing of yours.”

Oh. One of those. Calypso sighed. “And I’m sure my colleague told you that there are no pre-selected businesses. All applicants must go through the submission process. It’s important training for their ability to pitch and win clients should their business be successful.”

“Well of course it’s going to be successful. Don’t you know who I am?”

Tish, to her credit, managed to look down before the woman caught her eye roll.

Hel’s voice echoed from behind them. Calypso would never get used to that.

“I don’t know who you are, I don’t care who you are, and if this is your son’s preferred method of conducting business, then he has no place in my programme.”

The woman gulped, but tried to look down her nose. “And you are?”

“The person who decides who gets in and who’s left out. Go away, complete the application, send it in. If the business idea is good, and in line with Yggdrasil values, then it will receive due consideration. If it’s not good, well then…”

Heimdall materialised at Hel’s shoulder. “As I was saying. A security guard.”

Hel sighed. “Fine. Set it up.”

With a final, scathing glance over the puffy woman and her colourless son, Hel stalked back to the lifts and Heimdall moved to the front of the desk.

He stood silently until the woman deflated and left, son scuttling along behind.

Calypso exhaled. “Thank you. And here’s that note.”

She checked the envelope, she didn’t entirely trust Tish, then handed it over.

He accepted it with his hint of a smile, gave the two of them a little bow. “Ladies.” And left.

Tish fanned herself. “Maybe he is my type.”

After lunch, Calypso applied herself to the job description for a reception assistant. The topic hadn’t been raised, but with Tish desperate to get away from the front desk, and out-of-hours events looming, it would have to be brought up soon and she wanted to be prepared.

She cycled between that, the event space replies from Hel and a guilty-feeling review of her homewares range ideas in between queries. The afternoon flew by.

Herne called that evening. “So, how’s it going?”

She gasped. “I am so sorry. I should have called you yesterday.”

He chuckled. “Me and half the rest of the world. This way I can monopolise your time without you worrying about who else you need to fill in.”

She smiled at that. “I’ve barely talked to anyone to be honest, there’s not really been much to tell. Give me a week and I’ll probably have a lot more to say.”

He replied. “I can call back if you want.”

She heard the grin in his voice but still raced to say. “Don’t you dare. Even if all I’ve been doing is dealing with a grumpy assistant who wants another job and measuring empty rooms, I want to know what you’ve been up to. Any more unnecessary call-outs from that Mr Grey’s granddaughter?”

“None. But only because I told Cernunnos to deal with her. It’s his penance for being an ass to you.”

She laughed. “His real penance will be having to put up with me being down there each weekend.”

“Speaking of, what time am I picking you up on Friday.”

“I haven’t booked it yet. I’ll do it this evening and send you the details.”

She pictured him sitting, stretched out and relaxed on the sofa as he replied. “I’ll look forward to getting it. Now tell me about your resident grump and why you’re measuring things or I’ll perish of curiosity and won’t be able to collect you from the station.”

By some miracle, the phone signal didn’t drop out on the journey home, and she revelled in the sound of his voice, and the way he listened to what she said in turn.

By the time they hung up and she walked into the flat, she’d resolved to do better with the other people in her life, and immediately switched on her computer. First things first, she booked train tickets.

Jason walked in a few minutes later to find her scowling at the screen. “Hello Petal, what’s brought on that expression?”

She leaned back and rubbed her forehead. “Trying to write an update email to Hecate. I’m not entirely sure why I’m bothering.”

Jason hunted out the wine, poured a glass for himself and topped up hers. “What’s to update? ‘Hey, got a new job, it’s cool, seeya round’.”

“I feel like I should mention the visit to the Fates.”

He grimaced. “Oh, yes, that would do it.”

She continued. “And then I need to send something to my father, to let him know about the letters. And I probably have to mention the Fates to him too. And then I want to drop Amy a note.”

Jason looked at her, his head on one side. “Interesting use of language. Updating your parents is ‘have to’ while messaging your father’s ex is a ‘want to’.”

She sighed, and sagged in her seat. “Ryan’s right, I’m a weird magnet.”

She sat upright. “Oh, but something big happened today. And I both have and want to tell you and Herc.”

Hercules strolled into the room. “Sounds like I’m right on cue.”

She grinned at them. “I found Mr Sexy.”

Jason looked blank, then his jaw dropped. “As in Circe’s knight in well-cut trousers? No! Tell all!”

She relayed the story, both men hanging on every word.

At the end, Hercules said. “She certainly picks them. If he’s Valhalla, then he’s in their security section. They’re the best in the business and even the ego-clashes at the top aren’t enough to make Hephastus, Hades, or Ares budge on switching that contract.”

Once dinner was done, Calypso returned to the challenge of updating both parents. Hecate’s email ended up being a to-the-point note.

I have a new job, reception at a start-up incubator called Yggradsil. Won’t need to move to Bangkok, thanks anyway. Also, the Fates say I’m in danger of leaving the Fashion world. Not sure why they’re worried.

She decided to write a physical letter to her father, pretending it was because it was how he’d chosen to contact her, rather than a reluctance to share details that could pull him back into her daily life.

She was trying to work out the best way to send it, when Hercules said. “If that’s the letter you said you were writing to your dear Papa, give it to Jason. It can go via the company systems.”

Calypso asked. “Won’t it get read?”

He shrugged. “Probably, do you care?”

She grinned ruefully. “No, there’s nothing in it worth reading.”

Jason held out a hand. “Pass it over, Petal. Let’s see how lost we can get it on the way.”

She surrendered the letter, a sparse, elegantly-penned page full of polite nothings, and turned back to consider her update to Amy.

Her gaze fell on the other set of papers Calliope had left behind. Her Z Corp contract.

She reached for it. If she was going to step outside her father’s world and stand tall in a new one, she needed to understand things like contracts, starting with the one that had controlled her life for two years and still hung over her.

An hour later, her head was spinning and she was only halfway through. She put it in her bag for work the next day. It may not feel right going through it there, but if she was to go through the motions for applying for the start-up programme, dissecting contracts was likely to be an important skill and Amy had said this one could be useful.

Amy. Of course. She pulled the computer back in front of her.

Interesting development at work, which you sort of predicted. I’m going through the process of applying for first start-up group at Yggdrasil. Hel says it’s good for me to understand the clients, and the best way is to go through the same things as them, even if I don’t end actually submitting, which I probably won’t.

I’m still worried about the Z Corp side of things though, and how they’re likely to react. What do you think?

She woke the next morning to a photo of Joshua in a knight’s outfit that was far too large for him and a note from his mother.

I love this outfit, everyone here is just dying of envy and Joshua tells me it’s his favourite too. Well, he blew bubbles but that’s totally what he meant.

I say go for it – and you knew I would. You do exactly what you’re already thinking about and get information and advice from the Yggdrasil people and take it as it comes.

In return for my sage advice, I want regular updates and first refusal on your manufacturing contract.

Calypso paused over the final sentence. It was just an exercise, not a real submission. Unless it turned into something real. Maybe this was a way for Amy to get back at Atlas, maybe she would take the idea and gazump Z Corp. Maybe she would pretend to help, then pull the rug out from beneath Calypso. She needed to practice reading contracts.

She tried reading it on the train, too hard.

Arriving at Yggdrasil, she focused on opening up and getting the day running. Tish arrived as she was logging in.

“So that report on the job departments, it’s due today, yeah?”

Calypso could have kicked herself. She’d completely forgotten to give Tish a new deadline to work to. “Yes, lunchtime. I should have said so yesterday, sorry.”

Tish shrugged and focused on her computer.

Calypso added. “First priority, though, is answering questions from applicants. If there’s a flood of them, we’ll extend to the end of the day.”

Tish scowled. “How am I supposed to concentrate if I’m being interrupted all the time?”

Calypso replied. “Determination, and knowing what you want the report to say. Remember, this is only your first set of ideas, and the faster you can tell us what they are – in a clear, coherent way – the faster you can move off reception.”

Tish’s jaw set. She certainly had all the determination she needed.

Calypso turned her attention to the job description for her would-be assistant. It wasn’t long before the expected interruptions began.

There were a few moments, when she was dealing with phone calls, that she had to prompt Tish to notice the people standing in front of her but in all, the day went surprisingly smoothly.

Tish’s report was poorly presented but it was well researched and blunt to the point of painful.

Her preferred departments were IT and Accounts, so she could do what she needed to do and not have to deal with idiots who couldn’t read a website.

Calypso nodded, then sent the report to Hel. She included her own summary, and attached the job description she’d been working on. Hopefully it would give a would-be applicant a slightly more realistic view of the job than that Tish had held.

Her reluctant assistant said. “What now?”

“Now? We wait.”

Tish growled.

“I didn’t say do nothing. You should start on one or two of those online skill development courses you found. Tomorrow.”

“In between dumb questions, yeah, yeah.” Tish shut down her computer and left with a bored nod. Her phone had been conspicuous by its absence all day.

Calypso sighed. She hadn’t been near the even space design. She’d barely even read Hel’s replies to her questions, let alone the contract burning a guilty hole in her bag.

She left for the day, feeling strangely alone and deflated.

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