On Sunday morning, Circe sent through photos and measurements of her nursery, and some of the furniture.
Calypso made some initial notes, used the time Herne was on call-out to research patterns and advice for nursery accessories and spent the train to London on detailed plans for blinds, bags, cushions and covers.
On Monday, the three companies bidding to outfit the event space each sent someone round to inspect the place and discuss costs and timings. She learnt after the first one to drop Dionysus’s name early.
Their first event, an introduction to the Yggdrasil programme, was scheduled for the following Tuesday evening and registrations started coming in seconds after Ganglöt put the form live on the site.
Hel was right, Calypso was going to be leaving more and more of the reception work to Aaliyah as the events began to ramp up.
She said as much to her assistant and added. “Let me know if we need to ask for another person.”
Aaliyah considered it, then asked. “Can we bring someone in part time? Not straight away, but once we know what the hours are going to be like.”
It was a good idea, and Calypso made a note to raise the idea with Hel.
That evening, she delighted Maria-Philippa by making a start on her projects for Circe – cutting patterns from butcher’s paper and mumbling to herself about fittings, seam allowances and washing instructions.
Herne called her on Tuesday. “A large, squishy bundle has just arrived for you from Z Corp. Am I sending that to your mystery hideout as well?”
“Yes please.” She paused, then asked. “Just out of interest, did Hermes deliver it?”
Herne replied. “No idea. It was waiting on the doorstep when I came home for lunch.”
When package arrived with Maria-Philippa, she called as well. “Is it the fabric? Should I get it washed, dried and ironed so you can start on it straight away?”
Calypso blessed the sun, moon, stars, and Amy for sending Maria-Philippa to her. “That would be wonderful. Thank you.”
With the nursery fabric already clean, pre-shrunk and wrinkle-free when she got to Dragon house that evening, she was able to dive straight in to pinning, measuring, cutting, and pinning again.
She took the train on Friday night, using the time to research the details of the business Pythia had set her up on her behalf.
That weekend, she and Herne debated the order of the furniture projects and eventually settled on a kitchen sideboard as the first. They wrestled into the middle of the work area and began sorting sandpaper, until he was called out on an emergency.
She waved him off, then set to on the lower doors, chatting with the dogs, who’d come in to explore, and stayed to watch. It was tedious, dirty work, and the sooner it was started, the sooner it was finished.
She was interrupted by a snort from the barn door, the dogs yawned. Not a stranger then.
Cernnunos strolled in, watching as she straightened from her crouch. She waited for him to say something.
He circled the work area, a smug, superior little smile on his face.
Fine, if that’s how it was going to be; Calypso returned to her sanding.
“You can get a machine for that, you know.”
Oh, so he could talk.
Calypso paused her work, pulling down her dust mask. “I could, or I could make a start now and focus on the corners and insets an orbital or belt sander can’t properly get into.”
He dug his hands into his pockets. “Herne said you were thinking of videoing the renovation process. Did you take any ‘before’ photos?”
Calypso growled at her lack of forethought. “No, I didn’t. Damn.”
She stood back and pulled out her phone. “Now’s better than none, I suppose.”
She put her phone away and asked. “Were you here for a reason? Or just dropping by to see Herne? Or are you going to have another go at warning me off?”
His hands went deeper into his pockets. “I was out of line, Herne made that very clear. I still don’t like the idea of him with some fancy city girl but…” his head went down “I’ve never seen a fancy city girl in a dust mask and goggles, covered in sawdust and not bothered about it.”
Calypso looked down at herself. “If it helps at all, my father would be appalled.”
He would too. Funny, it hadn’t even crossed her mind before.
Cernnunos shrugged. “Anyway, I thought I’d come and see what sort of filming set-up you had in mind.”
Calypso looked at him, wide-eyed. “I have no idea. What’s the cheapest, easiest and least intrusive?”
He looked around. “Probably a stand there, with one of those action cameras on it. They can record hours of footage, then your phone for close ups and details. Maybe one more for extra angles.”
He looked sidelong at her, a smirk teasing the corners of his mouth. “Just don’t let Herne put them up. The man sends a camera out of focus just by existing near it.”
That made her laugh. “And here I was thinking the photos he was sending me of his walks were deliberately bad to get me down here for lessons.”
Cernnunos rolled his eyes. “They were, but he doesn’t have to try. Appalling pictures come naturally to the idiot.”
Herne spoke from the doorway. “If I’m the idiot you’re so kindly discussing, does that mean you’re going to take care of this video set-up?”
Cernnunos tipped his head to one side. “I’ll think about it. You’ve missed the boat on this project, but it’s good to have a dry run to test angles and lighting on.”
With that, he left, Calypso staring curiously after him.
She looked at Herne. “What was that about?”
He shrugged. “At a guess, you’ve just experienced the closest thing you’ll ever get to an apology from Cernnunos.”
He ducked in for a kiss, then turned to find more sandpaper. “Okay, boss, what do I do?”
Herne called a halt to the work that afternoon, well before Calypso was ready to end it.
He said. “These aren’t on any deadline, there’s no need to push it, and I want some of your attention too.”
That sent a wave of guilt through her. She was meant to be coming down here to spend time with him, to see whether what they had was something to build on. Instead, she was filling up their days with crazy projects.
He slung an arm around her shoulders. “So what’s it going to be? A pub dinner, some hideous board game, or snogging on the sofa?”
She fought a smile. “All three? What board games do you have?”
He herded her towards the bathroom; they were both in serious need of a shower. “None, we’ll have to go straight from dinner to snogging.”
The Tuesday evening event was being held on the ground floor, and Calypso spent part of the afternoon rearranging a section of it to serve as the speaker’s area. There was only so much she could do, with most of the floor in active use by Nora’s café patrons and very early arrivals taking advantage of the working space and free Wi-Fi.
Aaliyah left at the usual time. She would be coming in to open the following day, allowing Calypso a couple of hours off in trade. Hours she planned to spend at Dragon House, working on Circe’s items and maybe some mood boards for her own ideas.
The space filled quickly. The event had reached its registration quota within a day, and Calypso had to be quite firm with a couple of would-be gate-crashers. Thankfully, the presence of Heimdall’s security guard, an icy mountain of a man, was enough to keep them from trying to barge in past her.
The speakers were graduates of Yggradsil’s Stockholm accelerator and gave the audience a clear and entertaining view of the submission process and the journey beyond it. One of them had submitted three times before being accepted and shared what she’d learned with each new application.
They ended by strongly urging the crowd to take advantage of all the coming events and workshops, then wished them luck in their ventures.
The networking section of the evening saw the Swedish contingent swamped by people asking an astounding array of questions and swapping contact details for further conversations. Calypso moved through the crowd, making sure the speakers were given time and space for refreshments and listening to the conversations humming around her.
She thought she saw the colourless man standing nervously on the edge of a group surrounding a speaker. It was a little hard to tell away from his puffed-up mother, but maybe he was looking to follow a new and bumpy road as well.
Rainbow unicorn sticker girl was there too. Her name turned out to be Mandy, and she spent most of the evening twirling her hair and taking selfies with various other attendees.
As she ushered the last of the chattering guests out while the caterers cleaned up, then closed down the area, she wished she’d been able to take notes. There had been a lot of advice shared and she was sure she’d missed a good portion of it.
She made a note to Ganglöt for the morning – Ask the speakers to do follow-up blog posts? – and left, head buzzing, to frantically scribble notes on the train home and nearly miss her stop.
She left the flat at her usual time the following morning and spent a productive couple of hours at Dragon House. She made a mental note to not have breakfast in future. Maria-Philippa had views on the value of a proper meal in the morning and she was impossible to resist, or rather her apple and cinnamon pancakes were.
She arrived at work to find Dionysus trying to charm Aaliyah and amusing her instead. It was clearly a new experience for him and Calypso thought he looked dangerously intrigued.
She rounded the desk and took her seat. “Were you here for an update on the build, or did you want to book one of the other event spaces?”
Dionysus turned his smoulder on her. “What if I just wanted to drop by and see your pretty face?”
Calypso looked at her chortling colleague, then back at his chiselled features. “What she said.”
His sigh and soulful eyes would have had Tish a-flutter. Calypso was a little too used to it, she propped her chin on her hand and stared back.
He shot her a half-serious glare from beneath dark brows. “Fine. I’m after an update on the new space. I want to use it next month. Do I need to get involved to get it ready in time?”
Calypso said. “Yes.”
She shrugged at his surprise. “I haven’t outfitted a commercial space before, I have our own events to manage on top of reception duties and other commitments on top of that. I’d be stupid to think I’d manage that deadline with my experience level and available time.”