Saturday morning brought a slowly waking smile until she remembered. She wasn’t with Herne. She hadn’t heard from him all week, not even her daily photos.
By the time the promised car arrived, she’d been ready and prowling the flat for over an hour. She had rehearsed her presentation for Monday twice and backed up the file to three different locations.
She typed out a message to Herne, changed it, then deleted without sending. What could she say? She wished he was there? That was true. She was also glad he wasn’t.
She was even more glad when she stepped from the car, cool receptionist smile in place, to find the foyer of the hotel teeming with Z Corp people dressed entirely in black and white. She’d walked into the nightmare version of a chess board.
Thalia appeared at her side, linking their arms together. “Isn’t it the coolest? All monochrome and stark before the grooms arrive, then all colour and glam for the big event.”
She tugged Calypso down a hallway. “Come on, brunch is this way. We’ve already checked you in, you’re sharing with me and Clio.”
Calypso baulked. “Three of us? One bathroom?”
Thalia rolled her eyes. “I know, right? But the bigwigs all had hissy fits about being asked to share, so Dionysus had to shuffle things around last minute.”
She grinned. “But the good thing is, this way, I get first pics of your dress. The first in the Arachne Originals range! Is that what it’s really going to be called? It needs something a bit snappier.”
Calypso caught herself before she apologised for the name, saying instead. “Maybe check with Athena. I’ll need to know before this evening though, in case someone asks.”
Thalia nodded as she steered them through an open colonnade and into a large restaurant with a black and white chequered floor and white tablecloths. She waved to Clio, and wove through the tables to join her.
As they sat, Thalia continued. “Someone is totally going to ask and you’re going to have to do a pose with your shoes showing, they’re just to die for.”
Calypso chuckled. “I think they’re going to be the death of me by the end of the night, but they are pretty.”
Thalia reached for her phone. “That reminds me, pull your hair back and hold still for a minute, I want to get pics of your butterfly earrings before you add the drops. I can do a great day/night side by side post on them, once you add the extra bling.”
Clio poured water for them both while Thalia took photos. She said. “She’s been like this all week in case you’re wondering. Apparently there’s this task list of photos for the next month’s worth of social posts.”
Tahlia sighed. “I wish I could spin them out for that long. People lose interest so quickly.”
Calypso leaned out of the way as a waiter deposited a bowl of Swiss muesli in front of her, then asked. “What about Eros? Isn’t he taking photos?”
Thalia looked shocked. “Of course, but he’s doing the full portraits of all the important people. I need to get the product details so people can shop the looks.”
Clio grinned. “So is Calypso important enough for a portrait, given you’re shopping her look.”
Her friend shrugged, tucking her phone away. “I haven’t seen the latest list, but there are a bunch of people we’re banking on the media photographers covering. My guess is she’s part of that group.”
She nudged Calypso. “And the least I can do is help things along a little.”
Calypso was saved from replying by Calliope dropping into one of the free chairs at their table and looking around at the room. “Does anyone else feel like they’ve accidentally wandered onto the set of a musical?”
Clio replied. “So long as no one asks me to sing, I’m fine with that.”
They all looked around as a microphone was switched on and Aphrodite appeared on a small stage, usually set aside for the dessert buffet if Calypso’s memory was correct.
Aphrodite didn’t sing, thankfully. Instead, she cast a stern eye around the room as she spoke. “I know we’re all here for a joyous occasion and are looking forward to celebrating Jason and Hercules’ new stage in life, but I want to remind you that this is a Z Corp event, and certain obligations come with the privilege of attending.”
Calypso fought an eye roll.
Aphrodite continued. “You are all on display, and all displaying our latest ranges. Make sure you look the part. No spills, no stains, no crooked side seams. Get aspirational pictures out onto social media, the hashtags are FashionWedding and ZCorpParty, and make everyone want to be where you are, and wear what you post.”
She switched off the microphone and left the room, posing for pictures with members of staff on the way.
Hermes peeled away from Aphrodite’s entourage long enough to slap a sheet of paper down in front of Calypso. “Narcissus forgot to include this in your charity pack.”
Calypso raised a brow. “I don’t do charity; this is a favour.”
She ignored his spluttering to study the page, an itinerary for her day. Apparently, she couldn’t be trusted to do her own hair and make-up, so appointments had been made.
Clio asked. “What’s your schedule? Does it tie in with any of ours?”
Calypso handed the sheet over. “I hope so or we’re going to have quite a time all trying to shower at once.”
Thalia looked over Clio’s shoulder. “Ooooh, someone’s being spoiled. You’ve got a massage and manicure booked in half an hour.”
Calypso tried to look excited, then applied herself to her breakfast. As she stood to leave, trying to remember the way to the hotel’s day spa, her phone pinged.
She looked at the screen, Circe. She felt guilty at the disappointment, she’d wanted it to be Herne. I know I’ve just given birth and should be all caught up in the joys of motherhood and the utter gorgeousness that is my son, but I refuse to drop off the planet entirely. Send pics!
Calypso smiled, then turned back to take a photo of the black and white room, sending it with the comment. I’ve been promised it will all get more colourful later.
Her friend responded. Yeah, that is a bit extreme. What hashtags should I be following?
Calypso sent through the ones Aphrodite had announced along with a request for a photo of Telegonus. Circe was quick to oblige, with the message. I think he has dimples. I just die for dimples. He’s going to walk all over me.
Given the number of hearts following, Calypso didn’t think Circe was too concerned at the prospect.
She made her way to the spa area. Athena was flicking through magazines in the waiting lounge and looked up when Calypso walked in.
She held up the magazine in her hand and said. “I’m expecting to see you in the next edition of this.”
Wonderful, no pressure.
Calypso smiled. “I’ll do my best. Do I still refer to the dress as an Arachne Original? Or is that too close to Artemis’s brand?”
Athena smirked. “Artemis rebranded a couple of months ago, it’s now ‘Couture from Artemis’, so I’m going to make the most of the confusion.”
Thank goodness she wasn’t going to be caught in the crossfire of that one. In fact, it would be rather fun to light the spark and then be free to watch the fireworks from a distance.
Athena grinned. “And my having a model who isn’t tied into Z Corp is going to make it that much more infuriating for my dear half-sister.”
Calypso said. “Only for this first one though, I’m not the long-term option.”
Athena’s “We’ll see.” Was every bit as infuriating as it was probably meant to be.
In all, by the time she lay down on the treatment bed, the massage had gone from nice to necessary.
She was hustled from there to the Day Spa’s showers, then to hair and make-up. She managed to find Clio after being released and got a key-card for their room. She was under strict orders to sit still and not mess anything until it was time to dress.
Good thing she’d filled up at breakfast.
She spent a few moments moving important odds and ends from her usual bag to the evening’s clutch purse. Which was too small for her phone; it was too small for nearly everything. She managed to wedge in her apartment keys, just in case, a bank card, just in case, and the lipstick she’d been given for touch-ups. She’d just have to carry the phone tucked against the purse.
Someone Calypso mentally blessed for evermore had left some books in the room. If she was going to be stuck here for several hours, at least she would have something to do.
They all seemed to involve men fighting over women who didn’t do anything. She sighed and started the one with the most dialogue.
It was over an hour of noble sacrifices and battle scenes before Clio appeared, equally primped and painted.
She sat on the end of one of the beds and said. “We have an hour before Thalia and I need to be downstairs, then I think you’ve got a bit longer before you need to get to the loading dock.”
Calypso looked at her, then grabbed her schedule. Sure enough, she had to go to the loading dock at the back of the hotel, to get into a limousine to take her to the front of the hotel, so she could walk back into the hotel by way of the red carpet.
She said. “This is ridiculous.”
Clio asked. “Haven’t you done a red carpet before?”
“Not like this. Red carpet entrances with my father meant we arrived from somewhere else.”
Clio screwed up her face. “You don’t want that, too much sitting time leaves your dress creased.”