Wednesday brought a message from Jason. Hey Petal, for our wedding, would you rather share a room with Calliope or Thalia?
She was staring at her phone, confused, when Dionysus propped an elbow on the desk. “What’s got you all kerfuffled, Pretty?”
Calypso replied. “Why is Jason asking who I want to share my room with? How many people are going to be staying at the flat, and why? I’m pretty sure they both live closer in than we do.”
Dionysus sniggered. “There will be no people staying at your flat. Do you really think I’d put together a party as big as this one and leave you to trot off to the suburbs afterwards? I booked out the entire hotel.”
He clearly took it as a compliment. “You get ready there, no transport niggles disarranging your look, make a grand entrance, party till the wee hours, have a girly sleepover, then stagger downstairs at some point the next day for a bottomless champagne breakfast.”
He straightened, then winked. “You might want to take Monday off.” Then strutted off before she could answer.
Aaliyah asked. “Are you going to take the Monday off?”
Calypso looked at her. “The short-listed applicants are doing their pitches that day.”
The other woman smiled. “That would be a ‘no’ then.”
Calypso nodded, then turned back to her phone. Better to go with the room mate with a little more restraint. She messaged Jason. Probably Calliope, I don’t think I can keep up with Thalia.
That evening, she pulled her ideas into some sort of organised mess, then added the notes she and Amy had made. She sent the files to herself, and on a whim, to Amy.
I’m making progress and your advice is front and centre. Submission is end of next week. Would love your thoughts.
When she arrived home, Jason looked over from where he and Hercules were watching television, they were obsessed with the latest fashion design reality TV show. “What event was it tonight?”
She shook her head, reluctant to lie outright. “No event this evening, just a lot to do ahead of next week’s submission deadline.”
That was true enough.
Hercules added. “That explains it. We’ve been trying to get a spot at one of your events for ages but they fill up and disappear so fast, it’s impossible.”
She dropped into her usual seat. “Why didn’t you say so. I’m sure I could get you in if you’re keen.”
Her large, easy-going flatmate grinned. “No need. I staked out the website last week and got us onto tomorrow’s list. We’re probably depriving some would-be future mogul of their moment of inspiration but maybe Jase or I will be hit with it instead.”
That made her laugh. “I’d hate to think what world-changing idea you two would come up with.”
She paused. “Does this mean you’re not coming to Dionysus’s event next week?”
The two men looked at each other, Jason said. “Didn’t know about it. What’s the occasion?”
Calypso frowned. “He said it was the launch of Hephaestus’s latest jewellery range.”
Jason’s brow cleared. “Ahhhh. Heph doesn’t like the room cluttered up with people unlikely to be buying.”
Did that mean she shouldn’t go? Maybe a compromise where she just popped down quickly to check the new space was working, then headed off? She’d have to check with Dionysus.
She shook her head clear of questions and said. “Well, either way, I hope you’ll be able to make the opening of the rooftop bar. It’s the weekend after you get back from your honeymoon.”
Jason saluted. “In the diary with gold stars around it.”
The three of them grinned at each other, and Hercules pressed ‘play’ on the TV.
Eos looked over Calypso’s collection of information and thoughts the next day. “You’ve got the basics here. I recommend you start filling the form in now. It’s going to be the fastest way to find the gaps in your plans and ideas.”
Calypso gulped, this was getting far too real. All the same, she’d come this far, there was no point stopping now.
Eos gave her arm an encouraging pat. “You’ll be fine. At worst, you’re getting practice in business skills and an insight into the people you’re helping. At best, you’re on your way to a new life.”
“I’m not sure which scares me more.” Calypso gathered up her things and they left the meeting room together.
Eos said. “You should be able to get a bit done during this evening’s event, right? You’ve heard these speakers before, and Aaliyah’s helping out.”
Calypso sighed. “I would, except my flatmates have decided to come and be supportive.”
Eos replied. “Oh dear. And they’re the ones you’re worried might start telling other people, who in turn might get upset?”
“That’s them.” Calypso added. “They’re absolutely lovely, and will be supportive, but it feels like it would set off the kind of domino chain that ends in an explosion.”
Eos laughed. “Now there’s a visual.”
Aaliyah greeted her return with gritted teeth smile. “Ah, here she is now. Calypso, these people would like confirmation on the format of submissions.”
Calypso gave the three people at the desk her coolest smile. “Online only. Anything handed to us will be put straight in the bin.”
The tallest of them looked shocked. “You can’t do that.”
She sat as she replied. “It’s what we’ve been directed to do.”
She paused, then added. “The comment from our owner was ‘anyone who can’t get their point across online isn’t going to be capable of creating or running a business in this market and I don’t want to waste my time’.”
The would-be entrepreneurs choked and looked at her with wide eyes. When she gazed serenely back at them, they nodded nervously and scampered out of the main doors.
Aaliyah waited until the doors had closed behind them before bursting into laughter. “Did Hel really say that?”
Calypso allowed her smile to escape. “Not in quite those words, but very close.”
Hercules and Jason arrived together, well ahead of time. They’d clearly run away from work early, although Calypso was fairly sure Athena, at least, was interested enough in Hel and her business to sign the event off as a business activity.
She introduced them to Aaliyah and Eos. Jason muttered to her. “If we don’t get to meet Tish this evening, I’m going to sulk.”
That made her laugh. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to pout then, she left half an hour ago. You’ll just have to wait until the Seven launch.”
As usual, she spent the evening making notes where she could and making sure the speakers were fed and watered.
This was the final event before submission, and someone put their hand up during the question period. “What’s the best way to get a physical copy of my submission to the evaluation committee?”
Calypso and Aaliyah both groaned loudly enough for people to turn their heads. The speaker smirked. “And there’s your answer. If you want any hope of getting into this accelerator, you follow the brief. Online only.”
The questioner persisted. “But mine needs to be experienced in real life, surely they can make an exception.”
The speaker shook their head. “You haven’t been listening. When you’re this early in the journey, you’re not being evaluated on your product. The judges are making decisions based on you. On your ability to pay attention, to flex within the limits and instructions you’re given and to show you know what it takes to create and run a business. You don’t need a diorama.”
Calypso muttered to Aaliyah. “Or a life-sized cardboard cut-out of yourself.”
She may have been a bit loud, several people around her choked and burst out laughing.
Jason, who was standing next to her goggled. “They never!”
“Oh, they did, and their online submission was tracked down and moved to the ‘no’ pile without even being read.”
A woman standing near her said. “That’s a bit harsh.”
Calypso sighed, then realised the entire group was listening to her. “We’re expecting over 600 submissions, competing for 10 spots in this cohort. Don’t give the judges an easy way to strike you off the list.”
The speaker nodded, and resumed the question-and-answer session, leaving Calypso veering between horror at the brutality of the numbers she’d just so casually quoted and a numb relief that her submission would never get through those odds and she wouldn’t have to make difficult choices.
Jason nudged her. “Listen to you, mentoring all these future captains of industry. Please tell me you’re one of the judges.”
She grinned. “Hardly.”
She didn’t mention Tish’s spreadsheets, with their fields for manners and attitude, and the many, many names listed on them. Most were positive, people she’d be delighted to spend time with every day during the three months of the accelerator programme. There were others, though, who would probably find it difficult to ever find a place in an Yggradsil initiative.
She travelled home with her flatmates, listening, and laughing, as they concocted wilder and wilder schemes for their make-believe business.
As they walked into the flat, Hercules said. “Does this mean we’ll start seeing a bit more of you in the evenings? Now all those events are over?”
Calypso shook her head. “That’s just the Yggdrasil ones. We make extra income by hosting other groups and there are still heaps of those. You already know about Hephaestus’s one and it’s going to get busier as the other areas open up. I’m going to need more people, purely for the evenings, especially once Seven gets going, but recruiting’s not exactly been at the top of my to-do list.”
They seemed to accept that, and Calypso breathed a little easier. She had to get time at Dragon House to polish, collate, and scan her designs; and evenings were her only option.
She’d relaxed a little too soon, Jason opened volley on a different topic. “You know, when I texted you about your wedding night roommate, I was a little surprised when you didn’t say ‘Herne’.”