Chapter 02 – Forbidden Fruit

|| 02. PAIZE 1 ♥ ||

Walking inside Mohana’s office, Jojo guided a silver cart. With a display of snacks and beverages on the different levels, kept atop the shelves was a beautiful vase with an overelaborate bouquet of pink camellia flowers. Glancing around at Mohana wrapping her conference call, Jojo exchanged a wave with her. Clearing her desk, Jojo got busy with emptying the cart. She settled the overflowing flowers on the large desk, then started to place the treats strategically all around the large table.

Disconnecting the call, Mohana walked over to her desk where Jojo was busy laying the table.

Looking at her assistants unending ways to ensure a perfect presentation of the treats, she asked “Do you have time to drink tea with me? We can review the upcoming plan for the polo match coverage”

“No Miss Mohana, what’s most important is that you have the next hour and a half available and you have to take a break” Jojo confirmed, ensuring the heart shaped jam cookies were kept in alignment

“Break yes, but I only have thirty minutes. We’ll have tea together and we will get this sorted” Mohana confirmed

Picking a small round heart shaped brownie Jojo offered it to her “Try this”, “Looks yummy” Mohana smiled picking the treat

“Food made with love is always delicious” Jojo claimed dreamily

“Of course..” taking a bite Mohana complimented her “..I like the dark chocolate oomph to it”

“Am so glad you like it..” handing her the plate of brownies Jojo smiled widely “..this is a new recipe am trying!”

“Very neat” appreciatively nodding Mohana took another bite

“And you have an hour and a half now because I moved things around. And we can’t talk about work during this time! The cocoa in these brownies will invoke a sense of all the good emotions that focus on the important feelings, so my suggestion is for us to take a break from work. We need to review this list that I have gotten from Leya after much hard work”

“Sure we can do this quickly then we can finalize the polo match details” Mohana said glancing at the screen Jojo offered her

“It will take a lot of our energy..” motioning Mohana to sit Jojo served her a cup of tea “”

Reviewing through the paragraph gist that Jojo presented, Mohana gave her a thoughtful nod “This makes sense, bold women are those who have conviction of their direction and path”

Sitting besides Mohana with her own cup of tea Jojo offered “Exactly you are strong and persistent to accomplish whatever you take on, but see Leya has made a list and noted here for us that bold women know what they are passionate about too”

“Of course, you’re only persistent to accomplish what you’re passionate about” Mohana determinedly declared taking a sip of the beverage

Nudging the plate of cookies towards her boss, Jojo said “Yes Miss Mohana, but passion is the key word here! Her next point says, that a bold woman can’t get anything in the way of her want. At work yes, you are succeeding at a pace far beyond but the ambition is to also focus all of that on passion!”

“Passion to follow your goals and ambitions” Mohana said, picking a treat from ahead her to nibble onto. She already felt happy at the determination, that she was not shy and belonged in the same bin as that of bold women

“Of course but what does Leya’s husband want her goal and ambition to be?” Jojo quizzed Mohana

Puckering her lips in thought Mohana reviewed the question “What does Salm want? Uhm he wants Leya to own this world with her amazing photography skills?”

Jojo heaved a sigh “You’re so innocent Miss Mohana! When he wants Leya to be bold, he wants her to be bold!”

“Right yeah, so Leya should boldly amaze the world with her amazing photography skills?” Mohana suggested editing her previous answer to include: bold

Taking a patient sip from her tea, Jojo shook her head overruling Mohana’s attempt at the answer “He wants her to be courageous and stand up to what she believes!”

“Exactly I am in agreement with him and only then she can amaze the world with her amazing photography skills” Mohana emphasized her point in appreciation of Leya, their famous photographer head at Sophista

“Agreement is great, yes, but who’s side are you on? You have to take side of our bold woman Leya! And it’s not easy for her to be courageous and to stand up for what she believes in all important areas of her life!” Jojo stated emphatically

“Why?” Mohana frowned in doubt, unsure how the successful Leya could be anything but less courageous

“Because it’s not easy for her as a photographer to fight her own battle with Salm! He manages the designs on everything for Sophista and he tells her which lingerie is in trend! But as a bold woman she has to be courageous and stand up for what she believes, even if she doesn’t like what’s in trend. So she has to put her foot down and declare that she is an independent woman and she will choose her style” Jojo inhaled a confident breath having delivered the narrative

Picking another heart shaped cookie to bite on to, Mohana considered “That’s good yeah but I hardly think Salm would have a problem with someone choosing, something like that, it’s so personal, who cares about a trend”

“Oh! As the editor-in-chief of Sophista you’re saying that? Wait till you have to fight your own battle, do you think your husband will let you wear whatever lingerie you want? Men can be very possessive in certain issues like that” Jojo knowledgeably declared

Mohana frowned in disbelief “For lingerie?”

“Miss Mohana you approve Crawfies Advice column! Women talk about this all the time! Sometimes their husbands don’t even want them to wear any at all! Imagine!” Jojo stated siding with unknown readers of their journal

“Um ya but that’s an advice column for couples not just married folks and Crawfies manages it well, she knows, and people are people so um ya” Mohana turned the cookie within her fingers. She did not want to think about the face her heart urged to place in the husband slot.

“But it’s there! It’s happening all around us, they may not be married but you have to think! Especially when you have a husband that follows all these designers and trends out there he will select your lingerie..” Mohana almost swallowed the cookie, listening to Jojo a different image erupted in her mind altogether “..and you will have to put your foot down just like Leya has highlighted”

“Ya. Sure” Mohana gave her a nod of agreement, she ran a hand through her hair wanting to push away any and all designer or husband thoughts from her brain

“Have this also, they have cocoa nibs..” Jojo said moving a plate forward with chocolate balls which had heart patterned icing on them. Returning to her point Jojo stated “So as a bold woman you need to know what you want, not just these celebrities we want covered in Sophista, but do you want pineapples or cucumbers”

Mohana blinked “For dinner?”

Shaking her head Jojo expanded “Leya told me that a pineapple is strong and sweet and has ample vitamin c but it comes with a tough exterior, sometimes women won’t choose a pineapple and they’ll choose cucumbers but then they regret it, because cucumbers come and go, but only a pineapple will withstand”

Nodding her head but completely missing the point Mohana stated “Okay..but as a bold woman I should kind of make up my mind on that”

“Nope!..” Jojo determinedly refused “..That’s why we have a list here, pineapple the tough exterior man will be all mushy and sweet from inside that you want to go for. Not someone like that annoying Wendell Pitar”

“Uh ya no, no Chanceys that Wendell is crazy” Mohana made a face at the mention of that man, Wendell Pitar. Wendell, son of Paul Pitar, would be the next in line owner of their family run Chanceys publication house. Not only did Chanceys journal stand for printing crass material, both father and son were true representatives of their sleazy business model.

Walking around the table Jojo extended another plate to Mohana. The golden plate held small heart shaped muffins with rainbow colored heart-sprinkles dusted on them.

Jojo sighed “Yes, so is his dad. Every time that Paul Pitar sees you I have the urge to get you covered in a space suit! That’s one wretched man, and he wants to keep wanting you to join Chanceys but I can’t imagine both our lives working for him! But because as a bold woman you respect honesty, I am assured we won’t end up in that pesky place”

Munching on one of the chocolate muffins Mohana ascertained “Yes. Yeah no way at all. We are attorneys at heart, this will be injustice at an altogether different level. We can drop this whole journalism thing than to ever work for Chanceys”

“Exactly but see Leya says this honesty will be paired with vulnerability. And you are so vulnerably compassionate but I have never seen you embrace your real emotions which is what will be most needed to make a woman strong and brave” Jojo ascertained munching on a muffin herself

“No, I do, I am always real” Mohana claimed confidently, though her cheeks shone pink knowing completely well she would not be able to score this point with Jojo and Leya’s list.

Just like that Jojo offered her another heart shaped treat, determinedly stating “I highly doubt it and I have proof from our work lives itself! When that whole coffee thing happened at the focus interview with Omar Shaan, did you tell me you’re in pain? No! I had to guess it!”

Trying to push back memories surfacing from that incident with the coffee and a certain someone, Mohana picked another muffin “Uhm ya that, that was an accident and I..he was hurt..and I..I had to do that interview so it wasn’t anything worth it”

Shaking her head Jojo sighed “We can’t accept this point and more so the next one! We need a husband for you to be intimate with”

|| 02. PAIZE 2 ♥ ||

Mohana broke into a panicky cough. Rushing to her side, Jojo calmed her. She offered a glass of water enquiring with a quiver in her voice “You’re ok?”

Nodding her head frantically, Mohana stated “Ya! Yes! Next point!”

Moving another plate of small heart shaped donuts ahead of her Jojo said “Bold women aren’t afraid to be intimate..”

“Next one! This is done” Mohana urged before Jojo could completely relay the point

Frowning at the digital device then at Mohana, Jojo exclaimed “Not done at all! According to Chanceys you have slept your way to get this job, so have I, and I bet they have a list of all the people, though I only hope it’s like the good looking ones..” her frown deepened “..if they include anyone like that Wendell Pitar am going to puke!”

“He’s their son, so that will pretty much be invalid because no one will sleep with Chanceys to get a job at Sophista.. but yah.. no, whoever cares, Chanceys can say whatever” Mohana matter-of-factly stated the reputation of Chanceys

Though Jojo could not be deterred “Your future husband may be a fan of the journal, and if he thinks you are so experienced in the art of love we will get in a lot of trouble!”

Swallowing the donut altogether, Mohana inhaled a wavy breath “That is not happening. There is no future husband. We have to be bold at work, so we have to move to the next part. This point is disqualified anyways. It’s overrated and there are no feelings and people like Chanceys only print what they have to. There’s more in life than vulnerability and all of that love and whatever”

“Like what?” Jojo enquired

Mohana blinked “What?”

“Ya, what’s more important than love?” Jojo asked, holding her donut in the air, she almost paused waiting with bated breath for Mohana’s answer

Shifting in her chair, Mohana attempted to come up with some grand alternative but her heart seemed to skip a beat “Uh oh I don’t know, something has to be, like working hard?”

“But we work hard for love? Love makes us do everything happy and nice!” Jojo claimed getting up to prepare another tea for Mohana

“Um ya, ya hard work is love” Mohana nodded, she resonated with hard work more than any other emotion despite her heart wanting to cause a havoc within

Offering her the cup of tea, Jojo stated with conviction “But passionate love is also love, the one that couples have with intimacy of relationships”

“Uhm yes..” Mohana fidgeted with the screen display wanting to divert the discussion from love for the betterment of her heart “ this..Leya’s next point is integrity, which is also a score for us”

“Of course yes..” Jojo beamed “..that is the main reason why I feel our entire team has been able to achieve so much because we stand by our core values and beliefs no matter the obstacles of sales and gossip and evil competition”

“Which concludes that we’re kind of good on this list, so am not shy at all” Mohana emphasized with clarity

Jojo considerably nodded her head “Partially yes except the husband and love and vulnerability”

“But everyone! and Sir Gallaghair doesn’t care about that, it has nothing to do with my being shy” Mohana stated picking a cookie Jojo offered to her.

Deeply frowning, selecting another cookie herself Jojo stated “How can he not?! Sir Gallaghair cares for you beyond the walls of Sophista, haven’t you seen what a wonderful relationship he has with Madam Gallaghair”

“Yes they are lovely together” Mohana complimented, thinking about the wonderful romantic couple they made. A smile started to make it’s way on her lips but it disappeared when Jojo declared “He aims the same for you!”

“No I don’t think that. No one cares about all of that!” Mohana stuffed another heart shaped muffin in her mouth

Without a blink, Jojo declared “We do. We all do. You have to see all the handsome men wanting your attention. But you ignore all of them. As your assistant I also have dreams Miss Mohana, I want to plan for a date night, book the rooftop of our cafeteria so you can spend sometime all alone with..”

“No! You have enough on your plate, university is keeping you and I both busy, and we have Sophista. That’s more than enough..” Mohana confirmed, adding “..But mainly we should see if there’s a handsome guy for you and maybe for once I can enjoy planning something for your happiness”

Jojo dreamily sighed “A handsome man with those abs! But there are so many to choose how will I pick one?”

“Bold women are determined!” Mohana stated reflecting upon the entire documentation they had reviewed from Leya

Jojo rolled her eyes “Yes, determination is alright but it’s not easy. Have these” saying she offered Mohana another set of treats

Taking a sip of her beverage, Mohana bit onto the heart shaped scone Jojo had offered, she complimented “These are also very nice! Now let’s move on to the polo match discussion”

“How can we? We aren’t even done with one side, there are points on next sheet too” Jojo explained shifting the surfaces

Mohana frowned looking at an even longer list than the one previously on display “What! No-way it can’t be so much work to be a bold woman”

“Oh you have no idea! And I started learning about this before you, but am not even at stage one yet, although Leya has promised she will continue to coach me..”

“How many stages are there?” Mohana interrupted, completely astonished at the unfolding information

“Five!..” Jojo stated then puckering her lips she added “..but one has to get really proficient at the core habits to even consider higher levels. Do you think we’ll be able to reach there?”

“Yes sure” overwhelmed with the information herself, Mohana gulped a big sip of her beverage staring at the long list ahead of them. Though Mohana felt confident to nail this with hard work and diligence, the discussion seemed to make her heart overly aware of certain feelings she didn’t want to acknowledge

“Hmm, okay so the next point is that you have to know your worth, a man will only like you when you set firm boundaries but also when you are out of reach” Jojo read from the screen, nodding her head interpreting each word carefully in her mind

Mohana frowned “That doesn’t make sense at all”

|| 02. PAIZE 3 ♥ ||

“It does! See I’ll explain how Leya explained it to me, you tell a man you want a red colored baby doll dress, now when he gets it for you, you don’t wear it. You have to make him sweat” Jojo determinedly delivered her coached example

Biting on her bottom lip, Mohana made a face “How is that being bold at all?”

“Miss Mohana you are the smartest brain! You have to think beyond your timidness! When you don’t wear that baby doll dress, now you are like forbidden fruit! He wants you more and more and more!” offering another plate of treats, Jojo hopped off from the corner of the desk to prepare one more tea for her boss

Mohana thoughtfully processed the example “Alright, but what if then he forgets that I have that baby doll dress at all? He can get busy with work”

“Work is not on everyone’s mind Miss Mohana, but it seems to be the only thing on yours. Men don’t get busy after they buy you a baby doll dress! And all your dresses have to be short. If they are not then Leya said you have to pull it up high enough so that it can show your sexy legs..!” halting from pouring tea, Jojo pointed at her toned legs smiling widely “..And you anyways have such long unending sexy legs, so this will work for you brilliantly”

“Ya sure ya” Mohana nodded, getting entwined in the examples she looked at the next point on their list

“Now this is very very important, see she has highlighted this in pink! A bold woman must know her worth, she should be extremely confident and cannot let anyone else dictate anything to her! Oh..” halting at the point, Jojo thoughtfully added “..So am going to delay all your meetings by at least thirty minutes”

“Why?!” Mohana blurted in confusion

Jojo emphasized “Worth! It’s about your worth! Those people who want to talk to you should know that they are being kept waiting, because you are a bold woman full of confidence who is tackling a million other things. You can be late for them, and they must wait for you!”

Taking hold of the tea cup, Mohana negotiated considering her upcoming work “This will be quite drastic, we have important interviews coming and..”

“Yes! Omar Shaan! I have him scheduled for eight pm but I’ll move him to eight thirty pm”

“Wait, why are we doing this late in the evening?” her heart raced at the thought of having the handsome designer, Omar Shaan at eight o’clock in her office

“Because he has morning appointments, then your staff wants to meet him and then we have to take him out for dinner and even by those means if we rush, eight pm seemed like a barely good slot but now I’ll move it” Jojo stated reviewing her tiny digital device

Mohana shook her head “No! uhm no, maybe a few minutes of delay should suffice? I can’t be completely tardy, that would be awful”

“Ok eight fifteen?” Jojo considered flipping through their calendars

Mohana tried “Uhm eight o’two or something”

“Only two minutes after eight? I am late two minutes sometimes just by chance Miss Mohana, I’ll make it eight o’three at least”

“Ya uhm that’ll be fine” hoping to casually dismiss the whole idea of the upcoming interview, Mohana took a sip of her tea

Making a note Jojo stated “And you have to wear that velvet dress which will have to be short, I’ll coordinate with Salm”

“This short should be good” Mohana looked at her office suite dress that skimmed her knees but lost in thought, Jojo frowned “No, I’ll ask Leya and she’ll guide Salm. And we need a swimming suit for you for the beach too”

“No one is going swimming at the beach, we’re there for a photo shoot!” Mohana shuddered at the thought of casually hanging out with everybody with a certain someone’s presence

Jojo looked at her disbelievingly “The team wants to go swimming Miss Mohana, and it would seem really awkward if I don’t pack you a swim suit at least, what kind of assistant would I look then!”

“Pack it away, yes, but am not going swimming because we have to stay focussed on work” Mohana stated with determination. She for sure wasn’t planning to stay in there long enough for a swim let alone to even see a wave unfold. Her focus was sorted, she simply had to approve Leya’s shot and be done with it.

Jojo made a note in her digital device “Yes Miss Mohana, I will let the team know, they can plan the team bonding activities around your schedule. Now this point says that bold women believe in their capabilities to secure whatever their heart desires and they remain optimistic throughout the journey..”

“And it is in alignment to both of us! I have never seen someone as capable and optimistic as you Jojo and am really glad we are tackling this all together” Mohana genuinely beamed at her assistant

“Same here Miss Mohana, but I feel that you are my inspiration for staying optimistic and because of seeing you I have also kept on believing in my capabilities..” dutifully Jojo guided Mohana to the topic at hand “..But this point goes beyond just work, Leya says we have to show capability in securing our heart’s desire, so if you want your husband to kiss you everyday, you have to make sure that you boldly keep dropping hints”

“But husbands likely do all of that every day?” Mohana tried. She wanted to prevent her heart from getting carried away on a trajectory of it’s own impossible thoughts but Leya’s write up was wounding her up.

Yet again, Jojo knowledgeably stated “All of that yes, but kissing is most vital, a passionate kiss is what tells a woman how much her husband loves her”

“Uhm ok but we don’t need that” Mohana nodded, hoping to get around the issue altogether

Sighing Jojo, brought back Mohana’s focus on the broader issue at hand “Not now, but in time we will have to, all these men that want to go on dates with you, will have to kiss you and then you will have to decide which one is the best kiss and whoever fulfills your heart’s desire can then become your husband”

“I hardly think that will be feasible, and why in this world would I want even one strange man let alone so many of them to kiss me..” Mohana wrinkled her nose at the idea, she added confidently “’s different for Leya, she is married and Salm adores her”

“Not only that, Salm loves her Miss Mohana, but he wants that she be a bold woman who keeps wanting for him to kiss her always” Jojo stated blisfully

Mohana blurted “Always?”

“Always!..” ascertaining Jojo’s eyes lit brightly at the thought “..When you’re in love, you’re always found kissing! Haven’t you seen them both, they are like love birds”

“Yeah love birds” Mohana affirmed considering the romantic pair Leya and Salm made

“And it’s all because she is bold, and we can get there too with a little bit of patience, because all things that need to be carved with love need patience. Now this other point talks about how you have to be bold and make the first move..”

Nodding her head Mohana attentively listened to the vital information Jojo was sharing, her heart dreaming dreams she didn’t want to be dreamt at all

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