Chapter 05 – Touch to Make it Yours

|| 05. PAIZE 1 ♥ ||

Dressed in a body hugging mini blue dress, Mohana sat ahead at the mirror wall but her eyes were lost elsewhere. The short velvet dress, embellished with small pink camellia look-alike flowers accentuated her curvaceous figure. Absentmindedly securing her lustrous blonde hair in a french knot Mohana ignored her own beautiful reflection. The only image that ran through her mind was that of the resort server Peggy.

Disregarding the slight shiver that escaped her body, Mohana reached for a hair pin. Scenes of Peggy around Omar Shaan, her poor whispering technique, her offer to do anything for him and her want to undo his jeans button made Mohana’s stifling heart twist.

Thrusting the pin through her french knot, Mohana inhaled shakily. All that was left in her day, was to accomplish the exposé interview with their December cover celebrity Omar Shaan. Grumbling to herself “That zero-whisper-etiquette woman can do all of her ‘anything’ in that room of his. I can’t care” Mohana emphatically pushed another pin in her updo

Straightening from the light pink cushioned pouf, more glimpses of Peggy in the short server dress rushed to her mind.

“Just like how everyone can do what they want, I’ll do what I want” zestfully claiming Mohana tugged at her dress. The hem that had reached mid-thigh enhancing the length of her shapely long legs, got notched higher.

Looping fingers through the straps of the tall silver stilettos Mohana closed the lid on the package Jojo had prepared for her. Bare foot measuring the expansive personal suite she walked out to the connected Sophista office loft.

Discarding the brand new exceptionally long heels on her desk, Mohana searched through a selection of documents. Absorbed in finding the write up she flipped one sheet after another dismissing the chill making her shudder. Unable to locate what she was looking for Mohana spoke aloud her frustration to the empty room “Jojo you’re so right, everything revolves around work here, where is that list!”

Carefully selecting another set of files Mohana flipped through them anxiously “He’s not the only one who likes bold women! Salm likes them even more! But does that mean Salm would allow anyone just like that to open his jeans button?! That’s so beyond unacceptable! I am going to become more of all of that bold and everything..” her words and fingers halted staring at the screen that read ‘The Bold List

Paying no heed to another shiver leave her body, Mohana ecstatically hugged the digital device to her chest. With a broad smile she claimed with gusto “I’ll prove it to him that I can’t even care about ‘anything’. He can do whatever he wants with that Peggy or for that matter anyone at all in that entire resort! I will be way more bold than he can even imagine!”

Reviewing the list of points, Mohana consideringly halted at a sentence that read ‘Must embrace her feminine essence and with a hint of carelessness conceal the welcome’. “Feminine okay alright I can do this..” mumbling she sat on edge of the couch “..and I have to be careless to conceal my welcome” glancing around her sophisticated office she mulled in thought.

Unfolding a throw on the chair, she divided a stack of documents on her desk in favor of the point. Reviewing her posh surroundings Mohana pouted. Dissatisfied with her attempt of carelessness she geared herself “I can do better than this, I need to ace this whole list. Who cares he’s a celebrity I can be more careless to not have cleared up this place before his interview!”. Her mischievous silver eyes eagerly looked at the cushions next wanting to accomplish the point on the list.

An abundance of cushions got scattered around the forty second floor of the Sophista studios. The artfully decorated large work desk besides the wall of windows now had some documents kept strategically disorganized. Alongside a selection of metallic silver stationary products and beautifully embossed frames, Mohana reset the large vase to stand in the center of the desk. Overflowing with long stems of pink blooming camellias it brightened the office on the stormy night.

The oversized windows of the loft staring into the dark thunderous clouds, captured the feisty buzz of lightening from the heavens above. Despite the roaring havoc of the skies, another thunder was being evoked inside the massive room. Anxiously waiting for the hands on the classic clock to strike eight in the evening Mohana was occupied in preparing on as many points on the list as she could. The ornate drinks trolley, with a display of a variety of top shelf liquors, fancy mix-ins and silver bar tools, stood besides her loveseat. Right underneath, her high silver heels were intentionally kept toppled one over the other.

Sitting curled on her pristine white leather loveseat, Mohana consciously moved on the couch. Lost in her digital pad, she rehearsed the extensive document from Leya: ‘The Bold List’. Her fingers skittishly turned one of the small solitaires of her white gold necklace resting along her slim neck. Reading the points as they emerged flipping one sheet after another, the diligent Mohana scribbled spider notes albeit of her naive interpretation.

She reviewed another point ‘Know her worth, she should be extremely confident and cannot let anyone else dictate anything to her’. Pursing her lips at the memory of Peggy with the word ‘anything’, Mohana ignored the shiver wanting to feel accomplished with herself. At the time of reviewing this with Jojo, Mohana had precisely guided her staff to bring their guest to the studio just a tad after the hour. Pleased with herself for having followed Leya and Jojo’s guidance Mohana checked off the point happily on her list.

Going back to her notes she revised her points ‘Dress to accentuate her impressive body language and let the long legs showcase her attractively-bold stance’. Apprehensively waiting for her guest, Mohana tugged the hem of her dress. She re-read the bullet point on ‘The Bold List’. Puckering her lips in thought she nudged the hem to make the dress sit a little more higher. Curving her legs a few different ways to lay against the gray sheep throw on the couch, disheartened she stared at her beautiful legs. Mohana wondered whether this was all going to fail on her. She seemingly had no way to ascertain if her legs would ever appear attractively-bold according to Leya’s ‘The Bold List’.

Not wanting to give up, she inhaled a deep breath. Her body felt a quiver of coolness but heaving a sigh Mohana looked back at the detailed list she had determined to be her set of guiding principles. She moved her long shapely legs again, hoping with all her might that somehow her stance would communicate what Leya had in mind all along when building this list.

Mohana stole another quick glance on the watch. No matter how much effort she had spent attempting to appear bold without accepting that she was indeed shy: her heart remained a wreck to see their guest. Again.

Equipped with her cheat sheet of ‘The Bold List’, she wished to ace this shot with the highly applauded fashion designer. For once she wanted to withstand the magnificence of his presence without faulting. The next bullet on her notes had highlighted: ‘She is attractive, funny and smart and knows how to confidently shower her attention but then pull back to act disinterested to keep it challenging’. Committed to her preparation Mohana convinced herself “I’ll challenge him alright! A few compliments and then I will ignore him only to ask interview questions. By the end of this exposé he should know that I can’t care less about any of this!”

The silver digits on the slim rectangle watch, read 8:03pm. The instant knock on the office door made her heart jump. She heard “Miss Mohana, this is Jojo”

Notching her dress further higher on her thighs, with a flutter of her eyelashes Mohana attempted to casually address the back of the wooden door “You can come in”

The thick door opened to her assistant, Jojo, standing accompanied by the handsome tall man who towered the young woman’s frame. Dressed in a pair of casual dark denims with a white tshirt, his hair tousled to perfection, Omar Shaan oozed a virility superior to all.

Mohana’s heart twisted registering his changed tshirt from their interaction at the resort breakfast table. The realization that Peggy would have had a role to play made Mohana involuntarily clench her fingers on the digital device.

Besides Omar, Jojo in a red velvet dress was all smiles for their guest. Her eyes held a glint of excitement as she greeted her boss adding “..and Miss Mohana, here’s your exposé guest”

|| 05. PAIZE 2 ♥ ||

Hoping Omar would have captured her seemingly confident and bold stance on the couch, Mohana straightened from the leather love seat. She courageously walked over to welcome the pillar of impressive looks and steel strength that stood at her door. Her guest. Omar Shaan.

To contradict the upheaval his presence created in her, Mohana stepped closer to their guest. Bare foot, her petite frame of less than five and a half feet barely reached his shoulder. Attempting to wing her bold-act, she relayed her memorized dialogue with a wide smile “Great! You’re finally here, looking dapper as ever!”

Taken by utter surprise Jojo stared in admiration at her beautiful boss. Her smile widened looking at Mohana pulling the bold act so miraculously.

“Got to live up to your expectations, Mohana” Omar offered. Hooking a thumb in his jeans pocket his black glittering eyes gazed into her silver depths

Mohana’s cheeks fused with more color hearing her name roll from his lips. Instinctively nervousness threatened to rush to the surface. Despite being a bundle of nerves, the only certainty Mohana held in her thoughts was to maintain her bold-act without backing off.

On a hasty gulp, she glanced at Jojo then supplementing her hesitation with another enchanting smile she addressed both of them “Yeah. We have seen so much at Sophista. But I must say nothing of your talent and that cover photo shoot is going to sell like hot cakes”

“Always a pleasure to work with your creativity” Omar stated with a hint of smile playing at his lips

Standing mere inches away his presence made her entire being utterly aware of him. The real her wanted to run away from the power of his magnificence. Like always. But tonight Mohana held her determination to stand ground. She hoped with all her might to keep the pretense that she had promised herself.

Investing her confidence in ‘The Bold List’ crash course, Mohana challenged herself to look into his eyes “It’s all my team. Sophista rules the most prominent journal slot because of their hard work”

“A hard working team that supports their boss, what more can you ask for” Omar offered with an almost mischievous smile looking with much interest at the beautiful woman standing barefoot ahead of him

“Yes, of course..” giving him a smile, Mohana gave her heart some respite by turning to address Jojo “..I got so rotten busy after the shoot that I completely lost track of time, I hope the team treated our guest well”

Picking on the hints of ‘The Bold List’ at play, Jojo jumped right in for supporting her boss. She enthusiastically responded “Of course Miss Mohana, we lived up to your expectations. Though we really wished you could have joined us for dinner, the team understands how important your time is. And we are really glad you were able to abort your earlier appointment to make time to meet us tonight, everyone’s really eager for the exposé with Omar”

Mohana’s heart swelled with genuine happiness for having Jojo as her partner, who had picked on her facade. A sincere warm smile broke on her lips “Sure yeah no worries. Time is vital with everyone being so busy these days. And while I was tackling all of this I really missed you Jojo!”

“You are the kindest Miss Mohana, the most bold and powerful woman to sit at such a position yet you always remain humble. No wonder all the journalists idealize you..” Jojo brightly smiled at her “..I will take things from here, there are also some urgent requests that I need to push through and will get those sorted. In the meanwhile give me a buzz if you need something, I’ll be in my office”

Mohana smiled at her personal assistant “Alright, will see you soon, stay warm”

“You too Miss Mohana” Jojo affectionately wished her, turning around she exchanged greetings with their guest before leaving for her office

Mohana regained her stance with Jojo’s disappearance down the hallway. Giving Omar another broad smile she sweetly said “It keeps getting crazy here, but come on in”

Gesturing to Omar, she welcomed him inside the loft office. Closing the chunky wooden door behind them, Mohana confidently relied on her well prepared points from the list for the next steps. Asking him about his day after the shoot, checking on his dinner then drive to the Sophista studios, Mohana enquired his drink.

Serving him whiskey on the rocks Mohana hesitated deciding her next move. Feeling nervous to hand him the glass, Mohana considered changing the subject altogether

“Dinner reminds me, how were the dining chairs? Comfortable?” she asked walking over to a beautiful white leather chair, stationed at the opposite corner of her office

Looking at the beautiful woman walking bare foot on the silver rug, his eyes ran the length of her long creamy legs left exposed by the shortened dress. Omar shrugged “I didn’t get a chance to review their furniture, but we can head back anytime to check if something’s up to your liking”

“No! We can’t..” she rushed nervously then clenching her fist rectified “..uh but this! I was thinking, what about this chair! Let me know your thoughts on this one, according to Chanceys this is the season’s hottest sale”

Mapping her foot steps across the room Omar walked over to the chair. He gave her a considering nod “Sure. I will need recommendations for my penthouse in a few. Would be great to know what other finds Paul Pitar tells you over your Christmas celebrations in Dubai”

At the mention of the sleazy Paul Pitar, her hand nervously jittered. Mohana quickly rested the amber drink on the glass accent table. Remaining cordial of the Sophista competitor Paul Pitar, owner of Chanceys media house, she offered “Yeah Paul. Of course. I’ll have my offices coordinate with yours if there are any worthy updates”

“I’ll be on the lookout” saying Omar stepped over to the large expanse of wall behind him. Almost as if knowingly, he pressed at a small golden indent in the wall. Glancing in Mohana’s direction, he checked “You’re feeling cold?”

The larger than life fireplace, stretching from floor to ceiling erupted to life. The flames through each level burst into a frenzy of golden and red waves climbing atop each other. Her shivering body unknowingly welcomed the heat though her heart remained unsure whether it was his proximity or the fireplace that soothed her “Noh. No. This is neat. I should have thought about that before. The storm has gotten out of hand tonight. Can I get you a throw?”

“Na..” raising his glass of whiskey Omar checked “ you want a throw or will you have this?”

“I’ll get another one..” her words halted, her cheeks deepening with color. Realizing he had not even offered to share his drink Mohana quickly rectified “I mean another kind of drink. altogether. uhm. new place? this penthouse?”

Increasing the distance between them Mohana rushed through the room to approach the beverage cart besides the love seat. She heard him say “Kind of. I am almost close to finalizing the deal”

Remembering Peggy’s reference of his room and opening his jeans button her tummy flipped. She inwardly growled at the idea of his new penthouse where Peggy would undo all his jeans buttons. With quivery hands, she threw in a dash of mix-in to prepare a somewhat bubbly concoction for herself. Despite the chaos rising within, Mohana gracefully offered “Congrats! New places are most fun to decorate and make them your own”

“Fun yeah, though I guess what matters most is with whom you decide to make them your own” his words hit her right through the heart

Her eyes haphazardly looked at the watch but in her nervousness, Mohana missed reading the time “Ya. Yes. Definitely. And we should not keep you here for long. Don’t want your.. uh anyone kept waiting..” she abruptly halted

Feeling her heart shrivel within, Mohana tried to get back to her planned script “Why don’t you take a seat. Now that Sophista has gotten you here, I guess we can get the exposé scoop from you. We have a lot to cover. Your fan base is whopping crazy and they want to know it all”

Omar lightly chuckled “That’s always good to know. After you” his muscular hand gestured her towards the leather couch from where Mohana had gotten up on his arrival

Thrown off the script by his gesture Mohana gave him a shy nod of acknowledgement. She took the same spot on the love seat from before which sat farthest from the chair she had appointed for him. Mohana hoped the few feet of distance between them would aid her to keep ‘The Bold List’ action plan on track.

|| 05. PAIZE 3 ♥ ||

Following her, Omar eased himself on the white leather egg chair. Glancing around the designed office loft he asked “While we are talking about decorating places with each other and making things our own, how about you do the honors and tell me about your space. Everything here is silver, including the rug under my feet. And the last time we were together in this room, I was thoroughly convinced you liked pink”

Mohana’s tummy erratically turned listening to his velvety rich voice. Memories of their being confined in this room made her face scarlet. She consciously set the neck of her dress. The quiver in her nearly dwindled the sham she was trying to portray when her eyes landed on his changed tshirt. Thoughts about the resort server Peggy firmed her determination. She didn’t want to get off track from her script for tonight. She didn’t want to remember their last time in this room. She didn’t even want to remember their breakfast from this morning. All she wanted to remember was how to implement ‘The Bold List’. Her goal was simple: ace the bold-act

Gathering much determination, Mohana laughed throwing her head back “And you remember last time! Here I have been thinking you’ve gotten so busy that you don’t even have time for my journal anymore”

“You can’t say that after the photoshoot we just did. No one in the industry besides the editor-in-chief of Sophista could have convinced me to unbutton my jeans on that beach” Omar claimed taking a sip from his drink

Her face flared further with deep color at his words. To distract her ardent eyes from gazing at the magnificent man, Mohana shifted her glance to the digital screen instead. Scribbling her own name to pretend being unaffected by his presence, his attractive voice, his words, she raked in a nervous breath

Wanting him to think their interaction at the resort had no impact on her, Mohana twirled the liquid in her martini glass checking “On that beach? That’s exclusivity right there for Sophista, but what about other scenic places?”

“No wonder you’re famous with your tête-à-tête exposé” Omar chuckled looking at the beautiful woman elegantly sitting across the room from him

“And you just ignored my question, but my readers definitely want to know who has been undoing those jeans button elsewhere” Mohana smiled trying to hide the havoc her heart was creating within. Her heart outrightly refused to know the answer but her head was adamant in unraveling the play of his words

Omar lightly shrugged “We’ll have to play fair. Am still waiting for you to tell me what led to the transition from pink to silver in this room”

Growling from inside, Mohana stole a glance at her cheat sheet. Fair play! Her heart frantically raced at the reminder of how Peggy had wanted to play fair opening those jeans at the beach just like at his room.

Following a point from ‘The Bold List’ to denote that she was considering her thoughts, Mohana ran nervous fingers over her toned leg. Glancing around at her luxuriously appointed loft, she disregarded the jitter running within. Attempting to rid the emotion behind the color change, she matter of factly offered “I received a compliment that silver is my color. The undertones in my blonde hair were the inspiration I guess and from there I did a little bit of my own designing”

“Definitely more than a little bit of designing, I like how you have your studio setup, it is completely yours” Omar glanced towards her, his eyes searching her angelic face for answers beyond

His voice caused a stirring shiver release her body. Bravely looking at him Mohana tried a smile. Raising her eyebrows expectantly she said “Glad you approve, now your turn”

“Am not much outdoorsy when it comes to letting people unbutton my jeans..” Omar offered. Halting on his words he nonchalantly took a sip of the amber liquor

Distractedly setting her own drink aside, Mohana checked “But?” her heart furiously flipping completely in refusal to partner with her inquisition

“I won’t mind it with the right person” he mischievously smiled, raising his glass a tad he took another casual sip

“You have walked yourself right into this interview. So where is this right person?” Mohana asked. One image after another of Peggy from the resort rushed to her head. Scribbling a star shape on her digital screen she restlessly filled it with random strokes awaiting a response, one that she was entirely sure she didn’t want to hear

Omar gave her wide smile “Depends. Where do you want her to be?”

“Don’t play games with my readers, I run Sophista for a reason” Mohana claimed twirling the digital pen in her nervousness. The back and forth with him made a troublesome disturbance swirl inside her. She wanted this exposé to wrap even before it had started revealing his answers

Curling anxious fingers in the velvet dress she promised herself more extensive training with ‘The Bold List’ before the weekend. For when their paths would cross again at another upcoming social event, she wished to own this bold-act completely. With his level of charm, she for a certainty needed to up her game to even survive the mere exchange of words

Omar chuckled “Sure you do, no wonder your journal is leading the charts”

“Flattery and drool worthy looks is a wonderful combination, do you get away with using that often?” Mohana cheekily asked hoping her delivery came as ‘The Bold List’ from Leya would have expected

“I try to. What use is hitting a gym and making all these fabulous designs if I can’t sway my way in” taking a sip from his whiskey, Omar looked straight at her, his eyes appearing darker than the night

Throwing her legs to the side, Mohana settled them on the sheep throw. Glancing at his strong hand which casually held the amber drink she remarked “I guess you aren’t used to hearing a no”

Seated far apart from the loveseat Omar stretched his long legs leaning back. “Let’s say. But neither are you. Or all those buttons, a certain vertical expanse could have been a lot different in the cover photo shoot” his voice playfully retorted

Twisting the hem of the blue dress, Mohana tried to discreetly set it higher on her thighs. Following ‘The Bold List’ on such an impromptu decision made her far more nervous. She hoped with all her might if words gave timidness away, the stance would at least assist in maintaining her bold image

Seething from inside Mohana gave him a sugary smile “I can’t help if you are so photogenic and your fan following is beyond anything we have seen in the fashion industry”

“But I usually tend towards making people wear clothes” Omar promptly added taking another sip of liquor

“That’s a question you’ll have your fans cover in the interview as well. One of most top rated question from Sophista readers has been if you ever rip your own creations from the uh..uhm women and basically a close parallel is if you like dressing them after all of that” Mohana dismissed the shiver staggering her

She inwardly cringed at the wording of the questions received from such a large number of his fans:
Does Omar Shaan ever rip his own creation from the women before making love
After a night of passion does Omar Shaan enjoy dressing his women

Overriding the insolence of the queries she grumbled. It failed her as to why would someone care to know the details for what he did with Peggys of the world before or afterwards.

Easily resting the ankle of his leg on the other knee he chuckled “Some exposé that you’ve signed me up for. First my jeans, now my personal life will be at display”

“It is what your fans want. You have charmed the women folk out of their wits and they are curious to know it all” Mohana threw in an appreciative smile aiming to balance her personal dislike of the questions

Omar looked at the attractive editor-in-chief settled delicately on the couch. The blue velvet dress enhancing her beautiful carved petite frame. Giving her a charismatic smile, Omar said “Depends on the designs, the mood and the company I am in”

“Very well. Secretive responses ignite more curiosity, I expect no less from you” Mohana complimented, making a note on her digital pad she tried to push aside the fidgeting in her heart at his flirtatious response

“Glad, I am impressing you already” Omar quipped, taking another swig of his drink

|| 05. PAIZE 4 ♥ ||

Shifting under his gaze Mohana leaned sideways, consciously scribbling another shape of a star on her digital pad. Despite the sinking feeling in her heart, she offered him a wide smile “Definitely impressed. Now because we are still trying to find the answer to your right person, maybe this will lead us to some clues, what would you say has been the inspiration for your Mandal Collection”

Swirling the drink glass in his large muscular hand, Omar explained “The handiwork of the tribes evolved the initial drafts of symbolic printing. Blending the bright colors and then balancing them with the end of spectrum hues made it for a win”

Her facade slipped hearing about his work, with genuineness Mohana brightly said “And they were a hit at the Couture Catwalk. You have triumphed in reviving ethnic mastery to create contemporary complexities”

“I’d say it’s a combined win. Theirs and ours. The cultural background for the tribes has been of utmost respect. Their colors speak of passion and desire in many unique ways and as a designer am a sucker for the foundational feelings” Omar voiced his thoughts around his award winning designs

Making notes on her digital pad Mohana mumbled “Yeah very rich valu..” but her words halted reading the next question. Her tummy coiled. Holding on to her determination she forced herself to speak “Ya the value system is very rich. Uhm so talking about these foundational feelings, let’s say in lieu of the right person that the readers are still pending to uncover, who would you say has been your biggest crush?”

Masking her real feelings, she attempted to throw a charming smile in his direction. If only she could scratch off all these questions, she would. Humphing to her own self in sheer frustration Mohana determined after the trifling few questions that she had never disliked an exposé as much ever before.

Running a hand at back of his neck, his dark sparkling eyes fixedly trained at Mohana, Omar offered “I wouldn’t say it’s a crush precisely, but if I had to pick someone, it would be my in-house model Zaniha..” Mohana’s heart came to a distressing halt. Her breathing paused hearing him say the woman’s name: Zaniha

Swirling the amber liquid in the fine whiskey glass, Omar expanded “’s amazing to tailor my outfits around her. She is immaculate. You’ll see her carry all kinds of ensembles with such extreme finesse that it’s simply unimaginable for someone so exquisite and dazzling to ever exist. To add to that her smile lightens up our entire studio, everyone’s a fan”

“What would it take for it to be a crush?” Mohana tentatively checked exerting a professional tinge to her voice that didn’t sound like her own. Her nervous fingers drew an idle box around Zaniha’s name on the digital screen

Taking a sip of his drink Omar lightly shrugged “For one, not being married to one of my closest friend would have helped and I guess if we needed another point to add to that, not being the most adorable mom to my new born nephew”

His lips lightly curved in a smile but her heart lurched listening to those words. Brushing off her own heart hammering at the base of her throat, Mohana felt the urge to provide him solace. Omar Shaan the man of her dreams had lost his real love, Zaniha. She glanced at the classic watch with no intention of reading it this time around. Rapidly blinking her eyes she tried to overcome the pain her heart felt for him.

Gulping air, Mohana attempted to share a kind smile nearly croaking “You had your fans almost at the verge of finding an answer”

“I’ll be happy to share answers with them as soon I have finalized a confirmation” Omar said. His eyes fractionally steered away from her to check the thunderous dark windows in the backdrop of the lightly lit studio loft

Drawing a heart around Zaniha’s name, Mohana deepened the lines “Life is about finding out answers, isn’t it. Who knows where destiny can lead you to”

“Fair for some, though not for me. I believe in writing my own destiny, don’t you?” Omar asked his eyes boring back into hers as he took another sip of his whiskey

Her professional facade slipping at his emotional unraveling, Mohana gave him a genuine rueful smile “Ya, but I keep that as a secret usually”

“You and I, we uphold the same promise. Our secrets are safe together” Omar smiled at the young woman

“Deal..” giving him a mere nod of acknowledgment Mohana brought back her focus to the list of questions “..Now that we are on the matters of crushes and feelings, here’s another popular question for you. Do you think being one of the most talked about superstars, you could ever risk dating a fan?”

She pursed her lips unfavorably at the series of questions while her heart thudded as the name Zaniha echoed through her.

Glancing at Mohana admirably while she looked busily on her screen, Omar casually spoke “Am here, one of them, so there’s no reason to say no”

Halting from taking notes, Mohana looked up at him “Most celebrities usually run in the opposite direction considering their fans will hound them. Guess that’s what makes these fans go crazy for you, you’re a celebrity yet so grounded. Makes you one of the most relatable from all I know”

“One of the most?” Omar lightly chuckled making Mohana smile “I have to say that, it should keep you thinking you have competition”

Omar laughed at her response. Straightening in his chair he enquired “And how do we put a stop to this competition? I can’t afford to have Sophista toppling each jeans button now on their cover shoots”

Her cheeks burning with color Mohana offered “Well, quite likely if your fan following is as wild who is to say that may not become a fad in itself. But you could always go without any of those buttons and what not on Chanceys, there’s no halting a whopping sale with you on the cover”

“If you are planning to jump ship with Paul Pitar you will have to let me know, I wouldn’t dare say no to that proposal, not on that beach, not anywhere” Omar responded making Mohana’s heart turn rapidly. Images of Peggy, his fan on that beach with offers of ‘anything’ made her clench the digital screen.

She tried to overlook their photo shoot from this morning bringing her focus to the said Paul Pitar, owner of the competing journal Chanceys. Dismissing the immoral Paul Pitar with poise Mohana mumbled her refusal “Paul no uh Chanceys is Chanceys. Your fans want to know what their idol does on a date alongside..” Mohana halted

She looked at the words staring back at her from the screen again ‘What does Omar Shaan do on a date alongside kissing his woman senseless’. With a tap of the digital pen on the screen Mohana puckered her lips wryly considering if Peggy would have wanted to take that one to answer.

Skipping the part altogether she spoke to him “Words are messy. But it is whatever. uh. so. you get to describe the best date you’ve ever planned”

“I’d say the best is yet to come. But I’ll take some credit on being a partner behind the first date Zaniha and Jasper went to. I designed her a dress from the most choicest fabric I could afford at the time. There was this whole planning with not letting her know what was going on so you had to be on your toes. But it was great fun. Of course, obviously Jasper wooed her right off her feet so the entire groundwork unfolded wonderfully. Mainly I never used that design in any of my shows, and I think she still has that dress tucked away somewhere” Omar relished in the memory with a fond smile spreading along his lips

“That’s so heart warming, Zaniha sure is one very blessed woman” Mohana claimed giving him a smile. Refusing to take notice of the storm raging in her heart and tummy she made another heart shape around Zaniha’s scribbled name on the digital screen.

Omar smiled “Meet Jasper and you would know for a certainty who the blessed one is”

“Definitely and sometimes blessings can come disguised..” she tenderheartedly offered then checked “..will you want to share pictures of that dress with your fans?” Mohana enquired with another turn of her digital pen, unsure if she’d ever be able to manage seeing that article of clothing herself

|| 05. PAIZE 5 ♥ ||

Omar gave her a smile “Sure yeah, Zaniha wouldn’t want her name in the journal but she would be very happy to share the dress, she’s the kindest soul”

“Ya. No. No. Sophista works around names. we won’t call her out. that would be.. uhm but the dress can be a nice feature add for your fans if uh don’t mind sharing it” saying Mohana highlighted Zaniha’s name on the screen

Omar confirmed “I’ll have Indigo reach out to Jojo with the pictures and your team can play around with what works best”

With her heart thudding rapidly Mohana looked towards him “Ya. Jojo. That’ll be the best..” her eyes halted at him, making her words disappear. His presence evoked an unsettling craving that she desperately wanted dismissed. Mohana reminded herself of the reality: only her dreams had the right to own the phenomenon that was Omar Shaan. Gathering the strength to look away from his mesmerizing depths, her lowered eyes found his emptying glass. She lightly shifted on the couch asking “Get you another one?”

“I’ll grab it” saying Omar straightened from his chair making his way over to the drinks cart parked right besides her love seat

Stealing a glance at his long legs approaching her side of the room, Mohana nervously looked at her lap. Smoothing the digital pen between her fingers she focused her attention on the screen asking him “This is from Sophista, what made you choose the blue tshirt this morning?”

Omar offered “Because I was coming to meet you..” Mohana’s huge silver eyes shot up to look at the source of that voice when he continued “..and your team, the day just seemed good for it”

Despite the intensity flaring in the room with his proximity, Mohana checked off another question on her digital screen. Overtly aware of his handsome presence around her she exhaled a relieved sigh at the next question which read normal “If you weren’t this famous celebrity owning the beloved brand of Shaan Designs, what would you be up to?”

Pouring the drink from a luxurious bejeweled bottle, Omar glanced at the delicate woman. Her big eyes remained averted from him studiously staring at the device ahead of her. His husky voice addressed her lowered lashes “If I wasn’t this today, I would be working hard to be this, and then some. I don’t believe in giving up and once my mind is made up, it’s made up”

Gazing at the surface of her screen, a low mumble of acknowledgement “Hm” escaped her. Mohana checked another box on the list of questions. Feeling the strength of his powerful presence she consciously worked to maintain her posture. Her voice a low murmur, she enquired “Being an attorney and this top notch designer superstar, winning one accolade after another would you be able to choose one if you had to?”

Carrying his drink, Omar walked past her to just as easily occupy the other end of the couch besides her feet. His move made her heart get disruptively caught in the throat. Her nervous fingers hastily shifted the device surface to review the cheat sheet of ‘The Bold List’.

Her need to identify a solution that could halt her own overwhelming response to him had desperately intensified. The frequent segues he kept interweaving to her otherwise planned script made her panicky. She worriedly yearned to ace on whatever part of the bold-act she deemed to have under her command.

Omar explained thoughtfully “My designs speak raw emotions, from igniting the sparks of excitement, through the throes of passion, Shaan Designs encompasses all feelings. The blend of law exposes the underlying arenas that get missed to the common eye and it helps bring a balance. Together they are the means to my contribution to the society, raising awareness, bringing important issues to surface, enabling open expression across all groups. For the journal, that’s who I am and I guess am nothing without the combination of both..”

Letting his gaze travel across the tempting length of her ivory leg he nearly whispered emphasizing their proximity on the love seat “For beyond the printed words of the journal, I’ll always be an attorney”

Inhaling a troubled breath Mohana’s eyes lowered looking down at her silver painted toe nails. She nervously shifted, resulting in her dress to roll higher on her thighs. Rather naive to realize the effect her move was causing she dismissed yet another shiver leave her body.

Abiding by the cheat sheet, she concentrated on her pretense to appear confident and in command. She hastily gazed at the questionnaire “Uhm. so. having created this blended dream that most can’t even dare to fathom, you have bagged the most awards than anyone in the industry. Including the back to back accolades from Couture Catwalk for their designer of the year. Does that feeling become any easier?”

Trekking the curve of her long legs resting on the sheep throw, Omar’s eyes found her angelic face in the dimly lit room “It only makes the journey more thrilling. Winning Couture Catwalk has been a means to getting closer to what I want”

“And what do you want?” Mohana blurted looking straight into his sparkling eyes. Her sincere curiosity galloped on the pretentious confidence at play. Risking a chance she uninhibitedly enquired what could the man of her dreams in turn desire

“Are you willing to help me get what I want?” with his free hand Omar ran a finger on her silver anklet

His touch induced a thundering pulse to crazily bounce inside her. Feeling his warmth run through, the entire bold-act went hopping out of her system. Rush of memories encircling the diamond studded ankle chain made her gulp on a parched throat. Conscious from his touch, her foot curled of it’s own accord. Mohana almost pulled back from his luring fingers when the title of ‘The Bold List’ shone on the digital surface.

Reminded of the promise to herself, Mohana clenched hard on the digital tablet. Adamant to prove that she could ace the bold-act, she attempted to pretend he did not have any affect on her. Shoving away the bashful recollections surrounding the ornamental anklet she moved her focus to their exposé interview.

Mohana tried to sincerely inform “I can’t think I can ever be of help to the superstar you are..” she gulped feeling his broad finger entwine with her anklet “..You could simply touch anything to make it yours..uhm.. but yes Sophista is yours to partner with. Echoing the voices that can help educate and inform the society to carve a better world is our core commitment”

Another whisper touch of his fingers on her creamy ankle, made Mohana’s tummy tumble with a multi directional marathon of butterflies. “I’ll take that as your willingness to an agreement between us. Once you graduate from law school, we can sign on it” Omar gave her a dashing smile

Her heartbeats raced looking at him. His smile, his touch, his every move stirred a furor inside her. Not wanting to deter from her bold-act Mohana maintained her poise. She let her foot remain in his custody while with much effort she scribbled a note on her digital pad offering “I can have Jojo look into the paperwork, Sir Gallaghair’s legal team..”

“You and I, us” Omar said running his fingers to lightly caress the length of her shapely foot

Her breathless chest managed a squeak of air faltering at his voice. Invoking all the determination she could fathom Mohana sat completely still. Helplessly she glanced at ‘The Bold List’ on the screen for any tips of rescue. A jumble of words stared back at her but the effect of his touch didn’t let her resolve their meaning.

In an attempt to deflect her attention staying enchanted by him, Mohana breathlessly read another question out loud “You..uh you have been in the business for a few years now. Do you..” she swallowed then rushed her words “ you think one ever gets used to the celebrity status?”

Halting his fingers at her toes, Omar thoughtfully offered “Hardly. The fame, the awards, the celebrity status while all of it is thrilling, that’s not at all what can define anyone. Hard work is a moving target and a large part of your success is your own evolution, mixed in with all that goes behind the scenes to make you anything on that runway”

Hearing him say ‘anything’ made her thoughts furiously rush back to the resort server Peggy. Mohana instantly felt victorious to have kept on with the bold-act. Challenging herself to live up to her commitment of ‘The Bold List’, with as much fearlessness she could gather, Mohana ran a hand on the attractive length of her leg curving it slightly. Unable to delineate the provocativeness of her actions she stuck to the bold-act giving it her all

Wanting hard to override the frenzied thumping in her chest she instinctively puckered her lips “What would you say then defines you”

“I am just me” Omar offered in his relaxed tone which urged her to ease on her anxiety

“Just you” huskily whispering she scribbled on her digital screen. In the smallest font his name ‘Omar’ got written right above her own ‘Mohana’ that she had shyly jotted earlier

“Hm?” Omar held his glass towards her making Mohana consciously look at her own drink that had long been forgotten

Ruffled at his warming gesture that challenged to shake her scripted stance again she breathlessly informed “Uh..I’ll get”

“This will warm you up faster” Omar offered keeping his hand extended towards her

|| 05. PAIZE 6 ♥ ||

Shyly looking at his amber drink, her eyes lowered to her screen. The current notes held her name spelt together with his. The surface behind, read the title ‘The Bold List’. The checklist that she had committed to acing tonight. The actuality that she could never be anyone for him, ever, echoed inside her. The reverberation of this truth torturously wrung her heart. Zaniha had his love while Peggy just like any other number of his women had the right to undo the button of his jeans.

Daring herself to not back off from all she had invested to their evening Mohana managed to confidently relay “I’ve never had whiskey”

“You’re having it with me” huskily claiming Omar wrapped her dainty fingers around his glass

The fire from his hand seemed to almost burn her. Pretending to be her carefree bold self, Mohana lifted the drink to her lips. Temporarily overruling her nervous thoughts, she braved herself to take a sip from his glass. The warmth from the liquor, however small, was welcomed by her shivering body. Puckering her lips unaware of the next step she timidly held his glass back with a whisper “Hm?”

“Take another sip, it’s getting cold” Omar stated caressing his fingers to outline her painted toes

Her breathing in discord she obediently followed his command. Sampling another warming sip, Mohana extended the drink back to him this time unable to even voice a whisper. Waves of shyness spread through her despite her strong determination to follow ‘The Bold List

Squashing her yearning, Mohana looked away from the handsome man to focus back at her digital screen. She felt his fingers brush against hers at the exchange of the glass. Swaying herself to follow her bold-act she spiritedly attempted to look at the list of exposé questions.

Pulling her facade insistently she read the next question “Being the superstar designer that you are, what are your personal favorite set of clothes?”

Taking a swig of whiskey from their shared glass, Omar easily offered “Jeans. Those that I have not designed”

“Why because Peggy likes opening them?!” her facade instantly crumpled and discarded, words jumped out of Mohana even before she could think. Images of Peggy on the seashore tagging around him, wanting to undo his jeans made her heart frantically writhe with rage

“I don’t know, does she?” he calmly checked, his warm fingers ardently pursuing their expedition along her ankle

His touch on her cool skin made her blushing cheeks deepen with further heat. Extremely conscious of his returning nonchalant move, the warming color spread across her face running through her neck. Superseding the thriving butterflies causing a disruption in her tummy, her head fought the irony of it all.

Confronting the playboy he was, distressed Mohana gave Omar a humorless smile “Of course not. She is not even your biggest fan. And she wasn’t the one offering to get you ‘anything’ on that breakfast table. Or that beach. Interrupting each photography session. But who even cares to remember. I can’t care. It is whatever you and your fans want”

Furiously leaning forward Mohana snatched the drink from his fingers to take a big burning gulp. The drink seemed to help ease her shivers but it evoked a wild sensation in exchange

“Yeah someone recently informed me that people in the business get busy and tend to forget each other..” his reiteration of her words from their line connect made Mohana humph “..And if I had a certain peculiar idiot like that resort manager busy talking to me, waving at me, I wouldn’t have the time to care either” giving her a smirk Omar took the drink back from her fingers for a sip

Appalled at his support for Peggy she looked at him disbelievingly. Desperate to contradict him she took blatant side of the manager she had earlier labeled as crazy “He can’t be an idiot. If anything Luke has to be the most nicest person ever..”

“And he told you his name?” encapsulating her creamy ankle in the strength of his large hand, Omar entwined his finger in the white gold anklet

Mohana frowned “Why only Peggy can announce her name? Like she can announce everything to this world! At least unlike some famous people, Luke is not the one wanting Peggys of this world to open their jeans buttons. Luke can’t care..”

“Don’t say that halfwit’s name another time” Omar growled intervening her ramble on the resort manager. Lightly tugging onto the white gold anklet chain he placed her foot to rest on his jeans clad thigh

Forming a dissatisfied pout she defied “I will! I will interview him! I will put him on my journal’s cover all I want! Luke! Luke! Lu..” her words came to an abrupt halt feeling the touch of his thumb on her lips

“Don’t” his dark sparkling eyes held a warning staring into her shiny silver depths

Her pink lips barely apart, welcomed his warm fiery touch but her chest heaved frantically aching to inhale a breath. Unable to hold his magnetic gaze Mohana’s shy eyes swooped lower finding the lip of the whiskey glass

Holding her chin in his muscular fingers, Omar traced his thumb lightly across her lower lip. Her chest battled to inhale a tiny breath. His feather touch found the corner of her mouth before his warmth disappeared altogether. Feeling rejected at being refused his warmth she stared at his receding hand in complaint. Disappointed at the loss she snatched the whiskey glass from his other hand.

Tugging on her foot Omar smoothly pulled Mohana closer to himself murmuring “Jeans is your answer”

Having completely lost the trajectory of their discussion, her confused eyes looked up from his hand to stare into his glittering black orbs.

“Personal favorite set of clothes. Jeans” Omar whispered almost as if having interpreted the dilemma of her mind. His fingers caressed her silver painted toes

Unhappy at being dismissed Mohana looked at him with a gaze holding deep gripe. Not able to comprehend her own reasons, undecidedly upset she sought another venue to counter him “Why! You have to answer that too becau..”

“Effortless to wear, the fabric is sturdy, they last a lifetime and they are sort of easy to manage at all the various times” slipping the glass of whiskey from her fragile fingers, Omar made her take a sip of the drink

Stubbornly taking a big gulp in defiance Mohana let the drink burn her. Her ivory legs settled across the jean clad legs were held possessively captured by his warm sprawling hand. His closeness made her acutely shy yet the fury that Peggy had raised within her seemed to rage with no bounds “What various times?!”

The mix of alcohol and his luring presence were causing an emphatic fuzziness inside her. It was becoming difficult to keep reminding herself that Omar Shaan could only exist in her dreams and his presence could not belong in the realm of her reality

“Times like this..” saying he held the glass to her lips again checking “..What’s your next question?”

Lightly shifting Mohana leaned her face on the couch complaining “I am not going to ask you another question because you are not answering anything” a shiver shook her

In a swift move enveloping an arm around her waist Omar pulled her across his lap “Is the drink not helping?”

“No! A whiskey is not going to give me answers! What does ‘times like this’ even mean!” agitatedly she shifted in his embrace. Her tantrum missed the obvious undertones of his concern.

|| 05. PAIZE 7 ♥ ||

“We can discuss the details, if you’re planning to play fair” the warmth of his fingers brushed her neck. Wrapping along her nape they got resolutely lost in her french knot

She wanted to get her complaint heard about ‘anything’ Peggy to find a resolution for her unsettled heart but none seemed feasible. Wishing to override the endless butterflies that were prancing insider her, she emphatically stated “I ask questions, I don’t answer them”

“Not even when you are definitely impressed by my dapper and the drool worthy looks?” Omar teased repeating her words she had thrown around in the pretense of following ‘The Bold List

Her eye lashes lowered at being caught, complimenting his undoing of her luxurious silver blonde hair. The mass of gold tumbled over his fingers covering her back

“That’s not.. you can’t.. ask questions..” Mohana tried to emphasize her stand. She remained unwilling to give up on her bold-act, or whatever she wanted to believe was left of it

Weaving fingers through her thick blonde silken hair he whispered “Because?”

“Because .. we can’t do this.. so we.. I am the host, and I get to ask the questions” she determinedly formed the entire string of her conviction

“Am only complying until we sign our deal, as attorneys we’ll have to set new rules..” Omar murmured, his hold easing on her “..what’s next on your list”

Shifting from his lap, Mohana hastily inched back to the corner of the love seat. Aiming to hold on to her bold-act and the confident stance she nervously threw her now open hair to one side. Diverting herself she looked at the screen where their almost interwoven scribbled names glared back.

She desperately glanced away to read the next question. The sinking feeling in her heart almost instantly resurfaced. It appeared to have been lurking right around the corner after all. She felt infuriated at the question but read the words aloud nonetheless “What can someone do to attract your attention”

“Nothing really, my attention is where it needs to be..” he offered her the whiskey, his voice gentle yet almost commanding “..take a sip”

Quickly taking a taste, Mohana petulantly explained “A woman. like Peggy. what can someone like that do. your fans want to know”

“Yeah I got that part..” Omar confirmed, tenderly repeating his stance “ attention is sorted”

His words from earlier ran a reminder, rattling her bruised heart further: ‘my in-house model Zaniha’. Making a note of his answer with shaky fingers, Mohana checked on another exposé question “What should someone do to avoid getting on your bad side”

“Never even dare to glance at what belongs to me” Omar answered holding the liquor for her again

“Hm” scribbling the answer she managed another docile sip

Diligently making notes despite the disruptions raging within her, Mohana ran through the entire list of questions. Her urge to jump off from the couch and hide in her room under the plush comforter got strong many times in between. The questions in the exposé made her beyond furious. Words and examples that reminded her of Peggy, his biggest-fan offering-to-do-anything, had her tummy roil with anger

Despite the enraging tumble, Mohana stayed committed to getting the exposé done. She kept reminding herself that Omar Shaan was a celebrity and they had nothing between them except Sophista. And her own dreams. Yet no matter how hard she tried, his voice, his brief touch, his glorious eyes, his whiskey all had her crazy heart jumping constantly. The intensity matched the disarray of her butterflies making her pull all the effort she could to determinedly stay put on a version of her bold-act.

At the wrap of the interview, Jojo joined them in Mohana’s office to guide the departure of their celebrity guest. Sticking along to her pretense Mohana off handedly encouraged them to connect at the common event on the weekend “Can’t wait to see you again, we should definitely get together at Avacho’s carnival”

“Definitely. Will see you soon” Omar murmured in his velvety rich voice. His arm slipped through her waist pulling Mohana into a strong warmth filled hug. She courageously stood on her toes to almost wrap an arm around his neck but his intoxicating presence made her overwhelmingly shy.

Her hair brushed against chiseled jaw, fingers merely making it to his strong chest when the longing creeped inside her heart. Faulting at her bold-act Mohana closed her eyes fervidly absorbing his warmth.

Pulling out of the partial hug she ignored her heart flip at the fib. Mohana gave Omar a broad smile, preemptively compensating her actual intent of hiding from him on the weekend event. Much to the exuberant Jojo witnessing her boss ace the bold-act, Mohana wished Omar well for the night.

Turning away from the closed door Mohana threw her reddened face in her hands. Staring at extensive document titled ‘The Bold List’ she hoped to have delivered some part of her bold-act. Reviewing the list she made a check on all the points she felt she had achieved but soon memories rushed. Mohana inwardly groaned at having been caught on the ‘dapper’ and ‘drool worthy look’ compliments.

She threw herself on the couch “I’ll prove myself! I’ll prove it to him! If nothing else I’ll take that peculiar idiot manager’s interview! If that weird resort can’t build another executive suite and manage their staff the least that idiot can do is pose in this whole bold-act!..” hopping off the couch Mohana emphatically declared to herself “And I will say his name all I want!”. Brushing off another chill escaping her, she made a note on her digital note pad. Exhaling a deep breath she puckered her lips “Act one done!”. Glancing around her room she got busy picking the cushions to pull her place back together.

Returning to Mohana’s now-sorted office loft Jojo brought a night cap with some refreshments along with a list of all urgent matters that needed her attention. By the time the clock struck past midnight, Jojo urged “Miss Mohana, we have a long trip ahead, you should rest, I’ll manage these responses”

“I want you to rest too, you’ve had no less of a hectic day managing all the crazies with the constant back and forth. I’ll wrap this and we can get it out of our way” Mohana confirmed

“No Miss Mohana, being bold is not easy! And following ‘The Bold List’ must have taken a toll on you. You are looking so pale. As your assistant I command you to go to bed” Jojo stated in her determined tone

“Yes, Miss Jojo..” Mohana chuckled with her partner “..I command you the same”

Exchanging wishes with Jojo, Mohana made way to her personal sanctuary. Walking to the wall of mirror she halted to look at her reflection for the first time that evening. The tumble of her silver-gold hair surrounded her beautiful angelic face. Falling across her shoulders the silken waves complimented the mini blue velvet dress. A deep blush spread on her cheeks when her skeptic heart indulged recalling a certain someone.

Mohana ran shy fingers along the column of her neck, hesitantly reminiscing the warm touch that she had felt. Sudden words echoed inside her head ‘ are colorless just like these hollow eyes your mother gave you, a cold and sad gold digger that nobody wants, including your own parents..

Gulping a swallow, Mohana curled her hand away rejecting the warmth she had dared to ponder upon. She looked away from the mirror blinking her tired silver eyes to rid them of any moisture. Throwing her head down she mechanically secured a top knot binding her thick blonde mane.

Changed into her night dress she made her way to the bedroom. The large loft windows shone thoroughly glistened by the patter of rain. Dark clouds continued to loom, their heavy pour consistent like the heart that beat agitatedly inside.

Mohana longingly looked at her bed, the fluffy comforter settled atop besides her huge stuffed bear. The jittery shivers inside her lured Mohana to get snuggled in the plush embrace. Petting the paw of her gigantic stuffy that nearly touched the roof of her loft Mohana adorably murmured “I have the exposé to wrap up Polo, so we’ll have to wait just a while longer before dreaming all our wonderful dreams tonight”

She gazed at the dark black buttoned eyes of her stuffy almost as if seeking permission. Achingly wishing for them to blink like those sparkling black orbs that belonged to a certain someone she inhaled a wavy breath. Urging herself to ignore the shudder leaving her body she stared into the dark sky. Standing by the mantra of hard work being her only belonging, Mohana diligently took the chair at her writing desk to prepare the exposé write up.

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