All too soon it was Friday, and Calypso was waiting for Arachne to walk through the front door.
She was on time, which was hardly surprising. Her companions were a surprise.
Athena strode through the door, then stopped and looked around. Then looked behind her. “I really need to stop believing anything you say, this is delightful.”
Hermes pouted, and dumped the large wooden box he was carrying on the nearest table. “I was talking about the people in the building, not the building itself.”
Athena rolled her eyes and smiled at Calypso. “It’s so good to see you again, and you’re looking well. It seems it’s all working out for the best.”
Arachne, standing behind her, rolled her eyes and visibly bit her tongue.
Aaliyah looked sideways at Calypso. “I’m assuming these are the people you have the meeting with this evening.”
“In the building zone downstairs.”
Calypso grinned. “I’ve booked Level Six instead.”
Aaliyah replied. “Sensible. Are you going to bring them up to Seven afterwards?”
Hermes asked. “What’s Seven?”
Aaliyah smiled at him. “It’s the rooftop bar. The new staff are having a practice run this evening and I promised to go up and put them through their paces on non-alcoholic drinks. No one does decent mocktails these days.”
All three of the Z Corp people brightened.
Calyso looked at them, then said to her. “I think that means we’ll see you up there.”
She closed the front door, then joined the group in the lift, exiting at the sixth floor with Arachne, Athena and Hermes; Aaliyah and Eos continued up, promising to keep seats free for them. Level One was now near full and a hive of activity – all its denizens were heading for the roof that evening as well, many with friends.
She led the group to the boardroom and said. “I can change elsewhere but this has the most space of any of the rooms on this floor.”
Hermes dumped the box a second time, the wood thudding as it hit the table, and said. “Since you don’t need me for this part, I might just join your friends on the roof.”
Calypso shuddered at the thought of an unsupervised Hermes around Yggdrasil people.
She breathed a little easier when Arachne replied. “No. I can’t pin on my own and for all you moan and grumble, you have a deft hand with a needle and thread. You’re in charge of tacking the hem.”
The affront on Hermes’ face had Calypso itching for her camera. She didn’t photograph people but this was one for the ages.
Athena chuckled from where she lounged in one of the board room chairs. She had taken a photo. Why was she here anyway?
Arachne handed her a white garment bag. “Here you are, be quick now.”
Calypso took it and headed for the loos. All the meeting rooms had way too much glass for her comfort, especially with Hermes in a mood.
She hooked the hanger over a door and unzipped the bag. The fabric was every bit as lovely as she remembered, soft and flowing, shimmering into deeper shades of pink as it moved.
She checked the lock on the door, then changed.
The bodice of the dress was a glorious medley of toning fabric pieces, drawing the eye over, and down, as the pieces merged and spliced and merged again until they united into the butterfly brocade and flowed to the floor.
If there were seams, they were invisible, the dress draped and moulded to her form as if it was magically formed to follow and flatter her curves.
She pulled her gaze from the bathroom mirror’s enchantment, gathered her clothes in one hand and the overlong skirt in the other and made her way back to the board room.
She met Heimdall in the doorway. He looked her over, then nodded. “Nice dress. See you upstairs.”
He disappeared in the direction of the lifts as Calypso entered the room and put her folded pile of work clothes on the nearest corner of the table.
Hermes frowned as she turned. “How does Mr Ice Guy know Circe?”
Calypso looked at him. “Seriously?”
He raised his brows. He actually and honestly didn’t know. This was a first. Calypso wondered if she could ask Athena to video it.
She smiled as she followed Arachne’s direction and stepped onto the box, now sitting in a patch of open space.
She said. “Do you remember Circe’s floor wax misadventure?”
Hermes rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, rescued by some handsome, mysterious stranger.”
Calypso tilted her head in the general direction Heimdall had taken.
She saw the instant the wires connected. Hermes’ jaw dropped. He looked towards the lifts, then back at her, eyes wide. She nodded.
He looked thoughtful, then started sniggering. “Oh man, that is beyond hilarious.”
He turned and took a step towards the door, but Arachne snapped him back. “Not until the hem is done.”
The sulky scowl returned. He snatched a tape measure, needle and thread from the table then stomped over to where Calypso stood.
“She’s wearing the wrong shoes.”
Calypso bent and pulled off her court shoes.
“How’s that supposed to help?”
“I’ll wear flats.”
Arachne’s ire turned on her. “You most certainly will not. I packed the shoes in the box. Where are they?”
Athena pulled a cloth bag from the pile on the table. “Here.”
Calypso stepped off the box to take them. There was no way she was going to try and wrestle heels and skirts while standing on a small platform.
She slipped the shoes on. Beautiful pink court shoes with a subtle butterfly accent on the heel. They were high. She was going to be crippled by the end of the night, but they were so pretty it might almost be worth it.
She’d done fittings like this so many times before, it was hard to understand why she was so impatient with the whole process this time. Her father always said an outfit could be beautifully made, from the best fabric, but if it didn’t fit, you may as well be wearing a sack.
Arachne tweaked and twitched at the bodice, and the set of the skirt. She then set to on the boning. Not only were her feet going to hate her, she’d have to maintain perfect posture all night, preferably without eating. Calypso sighed on the inside and stayed as still as she could.
Hermes had plonked himself on the floor, cross legged and was alternately scowling at a tape measure and a needle and thread. Rather than shift himself, he had her turn gradually in place and she had to admit, the result was impressive. The hem, even with the large red tacking stitches showing, seemed perfectly even in the reflection she was able to catch in the board room’s windows.
Athena still hadn’t said anything. Maybe it was the budget. Athena had originally commissioned this dress, and the cost was to be charged to her department. Was she going to change her mind? Or was she planning what she wanted to do with it after the wedding?
Arachne finally stepped back and Hermes rolled to his feet. The three Z Corp people examined her – or rather the dress – as she stood like a doll on her little wooden pedestal.
Athena nodded. “This will launch the new line very nicely. Artemis is going to be livid.”
Hermes sniggered and explained. “You, Princess, are wearing the first gown in the Arachne Original range. Make sure you get the name right when the bloggers and reporters ask.”
Calypso frowned. “But this is for Jason and Hercules’ wedding, not a media event.”
Athena leaned back in her chair. “A big, extravagant fashion world wedding, with the who’s who from film, television, design and society. The red carpet for this one’s going to be busier than the Met Ball.”
Hermes held out a hand. “Clamber down then, can’t have you breaking an ankle before the big day.”
Calypso took the offered support and wondered if she could keep hold of the shoes, she was out of practice in heels this high.
Arachne was tucking things away into various holders. “Is that man Jason was so excited about coming with you?”
Practicing a few steps across the meeting room carpet, Calypso replied. “I haven’t checked. He may be on call that weekend. Why?”
The other woman rolled her eyes. “Do you seriously think I’m going to go to all this effort with you and have you walk into the wedding on the arm of a man in an ill-fitting suit? He’s going to need to be properly dressed as well.”
Calypso grimaced. Herne would hate being buttoned and stitched into a tuxedo and she hated the idea of him being so uncomfortable. And when would he have time to trek up to London for fittings? She’d rather go alone.
She said. “I’ll check his schedule tomorrow and let you know.”
Arachne raised a brow, but merely shooed her off to change back into her usual clothes.
When she returned, Hel had joined the group and she and Athena were chatting like old friends. Hermes was wearing his swallowed-a-bee expression again and Arachne was smirking.
She heard the words ‘fabric’, ‘project’, and ‘contract’ as she manoeuvred dress, garment bag, and shoes through the door, but the conversation stopped as she entered.
Hel gave her a thoughtful look, then headed for the door, saying as she left. “Bring your friends up to Seven when you’re done, Heimdall’s team can keep an eye on their box.”
Calypso murmured some sort of affirmative, then handed everything over to Arachne and turned to check her phone, she’d heard it buzz a couple of times.
She looked; and smiled. Circe had received the package and was sending pictures of the pieces in place. She beckoned to Arachne. “Come and see how those fabric remnants turned out as baby things.”
Athena came over as well and frowned at Arachne. “This is what you were doing, selling off those excess lengths?”
Arachne stiffened. “My fabric, my decision. She’s using them purely for projects for Z Corp people, so I thought it quite appropriate.”
Athena turned a calculating gaze on Calypso. “What projects?”
Calypso tried to look casual. “Nursery and baby things for Circe, soft furnishings for Jason and Hercules – I’m not sure what yet – and maybe some odds and ends for some of the others.”
This time she met the other woman’s gaze with a level one of her own. “Z Corp fabric for Z Corp projects only. Anything I do for anyone else will use other materials.”
Athena laughed. “Oh, there’s no need for that. If there’s something that would work well for your boyfriend’s place in the country, or for your friend in Singapore, that’s fine. Do make sure you share pictures though. I’m impressed by what you’ve done with this first batch and would like to see more.”
She headed out of the door. “I won’t come upstairs, dinner engagement, but do have fun.”
Arachne muttered as the younger woman disappeared into a lift. “If you share pictures, don’t be surprised to see whatever’s in them copied and on sale from Z Corp two months later.”
Calypso nodded. “I’ll be sure to only share things I’d like to see in mass production.”
Hermes mock-gasped. “Princess, you’re turning positively cynical in your old age. What would Daddy say?”
Calypso replied. “By now I think he’d be asking why you’re so obsessed with him.”