Portrait Model

Thalia bounced in at that moment. “No creases allowed! Unless it’s in whatever Artemis is wearing. Who’s creasing?”

Calypso giggled. “No one, I’ll lie across the back seat until the camera lenses appear.”

There was a knock at the door, Thalia opened it to find Dionysus on the other side. “Pre-party fun, courtesy of the grooms, for their favourite flatmate.”

He wheeled a small, tablecloth-draped cart into the room with a bottle of champagne on ice, three glasses, and the types of nibbles that didn’t compromise lipstick.

Adonis poked his head through the half open door. “See? I told you this is where the party would be.”

Dionysus pulled the door open scanned the group outside – Adonis, Narcissus, and Calliope.

He pointed at Calliope. “You’re fine, come in.”

He turned to the two men. “No entry until you’re dressed and ready to go. I know what you’re like with formal-wear and time.”

Calliope slipped past him into the room, calling over her shoulder. “And bring more champagne.”

She looked at the three glasses, then at Dionysus, who grinned and pulled another glass from a hidden compartment in the catering cart, presenting it to her with a bow.

Her lips twitched but she raised a brow. “Full would be better.”

Dionysus winked at her, then set the glass by the others and opened the champagne. He filled the glasses, then studied the inch or so left in the bottom of the bottle. Shrugging, he swigged it. “Waste not, want not.”

He turned to leave. “Those two will take forever to dress, don’t wait for them. I’ll send up another bottle.”

As the door closed behind him, Calliope looked over the other three. “Not to echo our bossy events manager, but you might want to get ready first.”

She was already picture-perfect in a form-fitting burgundy dress, the bodice splitting and reforming to wrap her torso in gold-edged, bandage-like strips above a straight skirt, slit to mid-thigh on one side.

They started with Clio’s outfit, a drifting, sky-blue dream with a halter neck that had to go over her head without touching makeup or hair.

Then Thalia, who’s deep green dress, with its Grecian-style neckline, needed careful application of double-sided fashion tape in several areas to preclude accidents.

Calypso’s dress was disconcertingly simple by comparison. She stepped into it, slid her arms into the sleeves and raised one to allow Calliope to zip up the slide closure.

Thalia checked her phone. “You need to hurry if I’m to get the ‘added bling’ version of your earrings done before we have to go.”

They opened the second champagne, delivered mid-change, as Calypso added the drops to her earrings, fastened on the necklace and wiggled her feet into the sky-high shoes.

Clio spun, letting her skirts flare out, then float back down. “Group selfie, we’re gorgeous!”

Thalia snapped the picture of Calypso’s ear she wanted, then posed the group; phone held high. “Say ‘fabulous’!”

There was another knock at the door, Dionysus calling through. “Showtime ladies. Pretty, you stay where you are.”

Thalia shared the photo, then left with the others in a flurry of laughter and rich fabric. Calypso remained standing in the middle of the room, wondering if she dared pour another glass of champagne or rehearse her pitch presentation.

Before she could decide, yet another knock came. She crossed the room to answer. It had been an age since she’d had to parade in the heavy skirts and high heels of formal fashion, she had to remind herself to slow down.

Arachne stood at the door, draped in silver cobwebs that shimmered through rainbow shades as she moved. She looked Calypso over. “Good, you’ve followed instructions. Come with me.”

Calypso turned to collect her bag and phone. Arachne frowned. “Bag only.”

Calypso protested. “But photos, I promised Circe.”

Arachne stood firm. “Tonight, you are in the pictures, not taking them. Someone else can update your friend.”

Calypso grimaced, sent Circe a quick, explanatory text with the group picture, then left the phone on a bedside table.

She followed Arachne to the lifts, waving to Dionysus on the way. He’d found time to change as well, now sporting a black tuxedo with a wine-red bow tie and waistcoat with gold embroidery chasing grape vines across the fabric.

They made their way to an out-of-the-way conference room, converted to a photographic studio for the occasion.

Hermes was on door duty, also in tuxedo and waistcoat but his gold embroidery scattered feathers across a black background. He scowled when he saw her and muttered something into his phone as she approached.

She smiled sweetly at him, and swept past into the room.

Eros was photographing Athena, who wore what looked like liquid gold, as his wife, Psyche sorted through props and set dressings.

She looked at Calypso. “You need a tiara.”

Hermes sniggered behind her as Arachne glared. “She does not.”

Psyche waved a hand. “Not to wear. To dangle in one hand as if she’s going to throw it away.”

She scanned a table full of oddments and accessories, plucking a gold, pink-jewelled tiara from the array. “Here. Just keep it away from your hair, the curlicues catch on everything.”

Hermes was chortling now. Calypso pointedly ignored him.

Eros spoke without taking his eyes off his camera. “Hermes, stay or go, I don’t care either way, just shut up.”

Hermes’ “Or what?” retort was typical.

Eros turned his head, focusing on the courier, saying nothing.

Hermes shut up.

Eros returned to his camera. “Arachne, join Athena.”

Arachne stalked onto the set, holding a skein of fine undyed silk Psyche had handed to her. She proceeded, under Eros’s direction, to set up an oversized cat’s cradle game with Athena, gradually getting both women tangled in more and more complex weavings.

He held up a hand, they waited. “Aaaand, drop.”

They dropped the silk, letting it float to the floor around them.

He looked up and nodded. “Good. Let’s move to the next one. Arachne, stay for the start.”

They left the set, Psyche gathering the silk once they’d stepped clear of it.

Eros looked over at Calypso. “Come on then. We’re on a tight schedule here.”

Calypso gritted her teeth and glided onto the set. It had been years since she’d been under spotlights with a camera pointed at her, she hadn’t missed it.

She moved around the cleared space, getting a feel for the size as Eros adjusted the lighting.

As he returned to his camera, he said. “Right. Scenario is, you’re a princess being made ready to meet your prince.”

Calypso blanched. Hermes was silent.

Eros continued. “Arachne, you’re helping her get ready, so indulge your need to twitch and adjust every part of her outfit.”

Calypso held up the tiara, Eros replied. “Put it on the stand at the side, Arachne will fetch it in a minute and not quite place it on your head.”

The two women did as directed. Really, the dress was a dream to wear, and model. It flowed and fell perfectly however Calypso moved. When Arachne fetched the tiara, her face set disapprovingly, Calypso swept into a deep curtsey to bring her head down to an accessible level. She earned a nod of approval from Eros before he shooed Arachne from the set.

“Second act; you’re waiting, you’re bored, you want to be somewhere else, you’ve taken off the tiara.”

Calypso nodded and absently turned the prop over in her hands as she thought of Herne and being at Wildwood with him, rather than under cold spotlights.

Psyche murmured from behind her husband. “You’re good at this, I’m getting all teary just watching you.”

Eros kept clicking. “Good. Now put the tiara on the ground and swirl to leave.”

She had to repeat the turn several times before Eros let her step off the set. He said. “Hermes, go and stand next to the tiara.”

Hermes protested. “I’m not here to get shot. Leave me out of it.”

Eros rolled his eyes. “I’m not shooting you, I’m shooting a pair of men’s shoes next to the tiara. Get in there.”

Hermes sighed and moved into place.

Psyche smiled at Calypso. “You can go now. Turn right out of the door and head to the end of the corridor. The loading dock will be through the doors on your left.”

It would have been nice to see one or two of the photos, to see how the dress looked as she moved. As she walked down the corridor – glide, head and shoulders straight, lead with the hips – she wondered what had promoted Eros’s scenario for her, and what other stories he’d dreamed up for people that day.

She found the correct door and walked into a large, concrete room with drop-cloths covering much of the floor and people in fantastical outfits milling around.

A young woman she vaguely recognised as one of Hera’s minions rustled over to her, brandishing a clip board.

“You cut that rather fine. Although I hear certain people don’t want Artemis catching sight of your get-up before the red carpet reveal so I suppose you managed that. Bit of excitement, having one of the admin people arriving after half the senior staff. I do hope you know what you’re doing, Artemis isn’t the nicest person when she’s unhappy.”

Ahh, yes, this was Echo, Hera’s most reliable gossip.

She kept talking as she motioned for Calypso to follow her, stationing her at a spot in front of the parking bays, ahead of Arachne and Athena who in turn were ahead of Narcissus and Adonis.

Why was she the only one on her own? Adonis waved. “Come in our car, much more fun to arrive on the arms of two gorgeous men.”

Echo gasped. “You can’t do that. You have to stay in the order.”

Athena told Adonis. “Calypso’s dress needs to be the focus of her entrance, you’re too distracting.”

Adonis smirked. “One does one’s poor best.”

He settled to wait for the limousine with a happy smile and a smug set to his shoulders. Narcissus rolled his eyes. “So, do your outfits for the weekend pass muster?”

Calypso smiled at him. “I’ve not had a chance to look at tomorrow’s one, but today’s was lovely, thank you.”

A series of five limousines turned into the loading dock area, drawing up in front of each of the waiting guests. It was the strangest version of a taxi rank Calypso had ever seen. She wanted to tell Herne, or Circe, about it; make them laugh, but she didn’t have her phone, Circe would be busy and Herne wasn’t talking to her.

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