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CHAPTER 1

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

The sweet sound of high-heeled boots clacking against pavement puts me in a near-meditative state. Swinging burlap bags with our logo imprinted on them, my business partner and I head up the walkway of my newly-renovated home with the cool rush of retail therapy coursing through our veins.

“Isn’t it nice when it’s your own brand?” she remarks as we kick off our boots.

“It is nice. It’s always better when you design it yourself.”

We stride barefoot down the hallway, through my bedroom, and into my walk-in closet. These days, the once small section dedicated to our brand samples now takes up the majority of the two-story room. After changing into our new bikinis, we decide to take them out by the poolside.

“Check this out.” I whip out a giant bag of aromatic goodies.

Alaia can hardly believe it when I tell her the backstory behind the bag of herb.

“So, let me get this straight. You just walked past your neighbor’s house, and she hooked you up with this giant ass bag?”

I nod.

“She usually gives me fruit or vegetables, but this time around, she was growing something… different.”

Alaia shakes her head.

“Alright, I’m gonna need this lady’s number so I, too, can enjoy the wonders of her garden variety blend.”

Sitting at the pool water’s edge dangling our feet in the abyss, we take turns passing a bong back and forth. I fill my lungs with sweet tasting smoke and exhale clouds bigger than our heads. The calm vibe of the warm sun and clouds of floating smoke lead us to my lounge chairs for a much-needed nap.

I awaken a few hours later under the hot sun. Alaia stirs at the same time.

“Yes, sis. I needed that,” she exclaims as she stretches toward the sky. “You’re not really friends until you’ve slept together,” she adds with a wink.

“Indeed. We are friends with benefits,” I joke back. “Sleeping benefits.”

After helping my friend and business partner gather up all of her new Mochawear gear, I send her back into the world with hugs, kisses, and an invitation to return for more naps whenever she’d like.

Waving goodbye from the foyer, the sudden urge for a smoothie strikes me. I stretch and yawn my way to the kitchen – stopping to marvel at its modern updates: New cabinets, countertops, backsplash, and floor tiles. All new appliances gleam back at me. As I load my blender up with fruit, my mind wanders and lands on my personal assistant. Her smiling face appears in my mind’s eye— reminding me that she’ll be making her way to the east coast today. My phone lights up beside the blender. Speak of the angel. Lila’s name and contact picture light up on my phone screen. New video chat request.

“Hey, cute stuff. How’s it hanging?”

“Oh, you know, living the dream. Our dream.”

We wiggle our fingers at each other through the screen.

“Are you on the plane right now?” I ask as my gaze falls on her surroundings.

“Why, yes I am. I’m flying on the new company jet – thanks to your lovely arrangements. We should be touching down in about two hours. You think you can come scoop your favorite assistant up from the airport?” Lila asks with puppy dog eyes. Dammit. She knows those make me weak.

“Of course I can. It would be my pleasure. Can’t wait to see you.”

We exchange air kisses before the screen goes black. My heart fills with anticipation. Once you have all of your key players, the game can begin.

ShowerGal

CHAPTER 2

FEELS GOOD TO BE HOME

With two hours to kill before my personal assistant touches down, I step inside the modern bathing oasis known as my mistress en suite. I light every candle around its perimeter before peeling off my clothes to indulge in a hot shower. The temperature-controlled chamber becomes a warm, tropical space as water descends from above like a rain forest— washing away all of the old energy and inviting the new.

After blowing out the last candle, I step out to dry off and admire my reflection. Consistency and hard work reflect back at me. Thanks to daily yoga and an active lifestyle, I’ve been rewarded with a glowing complexion and defined physique. I slide into some new designs from today’s shopping expedition – prancing around in the ballet mirror, examining every angle. There really is nothing like wearing your own brand.

As I take off into midday traffic, my mind wanders. I think about my business and all of the beautiful people I’ve met on its path to fruition. Mochafruit, the parent company of Mochawear, has its one year anniversary coming up. Feelings of proud nostalgia wash over me. I can’t wait to lay my newest idea on my unsuspecting team.

I pull up to the airport in record time. To my surprise and delight, a private jet donning a giant version of the official Mochafruit logo sits before me as I enter the personal charter bay.

“Whatcha think?!” my personal assistant Lila yells with her arms outstretched as she descends the air stairs.

“It’s beautiful, sis. Big and bold.”

Once she reaches me, we embrace each other in a long hug.

“Nice of you to rejoin us east coasters,” I comment as I throw her luggage in my hatchback.

“It feels goods to be home.”

Lila and I hop in my SUV and take off toward the airport exit.

“So, how’s little sis?” I ask as we roll past grassy hillsides and swaying palm trees.

“She’s doing great. Loving her new role as a personal assistant. She says Alaia is ‘very chill’ and takes her out to eat all the time. They’ve got a good bond and she’s learning a lot.”

I smile to myself.

“Damn, I guess that means I gotta step my game up and take you out to eat more.”

“Well, since you mentioned it, you could start right now by taking me out to lunch.”

As per Lila’s request, I stop at a hibachi grill to order sushi rolls and bubble tea.

“These tapioca pearls took a while to get used to,” Lila admits, stirring her drink, “but after you and Alaia convinced me to give them a try, they’ve grown on me.”

“Here’s to trying new things and finding out that you enjoy them,” I toast.

We tap our cups together.

FloatieGal2

CHAPTER 3

FLOATING FASHION

“Even the landscaping looks different,” Lila whispers as we make our way past the foliage and flowers along my walkway.

Once I open up the front door, she gets an even bigger surprise.

“Damn. You really redid everything.”

She slips off her sandals and rubs her bare feet over the refinished hardwoods. She runs her fingers along my quartz countertops.

“This island is everything,” she remarks as she leans against it to test its durability. “And it’s got waterfall edges. I love this. Show me more.”

After a grand tour of most of my abode, I leave the patio for last.

Lila follows as I lead her to the renovated poolside. We look out over the ocean as we dangle our feet in my infinity pool, making patterns with our toes in the water.

“It feels so good to be home,” she repeats sleepily, leaning back with her hands beneath her head.

I help my personal assistant move her bags into the guest room. She insists that she’ll make it back to her condo eventually, but wants to enjoy the “energy of newness” emanating from my place for now. While she lays down for a nap on the guest mattress, I take my sketchpad outside by the patio. The allure of creation tugs at my solar plexus.

As I drift aroundin the water on a pool float, ideas for new Mochawear designs flow to me like the rhythm of the waves crashing along the beach. I take a deep breath and begin drawing. Athleisure wear, knit tops, and high-waisted bottoms flow from my pencil. Exposed shoulders and fringe dance around the edges of simple yet unique designs. Single strapped crop tops join the party – their minimalist nature balanced out by tops with big, dramatic sleeves. Done and done. I can hardly wait to call up my seamstress.

“Oh, boy. It’s you again,” she answers playfully. “What can I do for you, Miss Jones?”

“I’m your worst nightmare but your best client,” I retort. “I’ve got a few pages full of sketches that I’d like you to bring to life for me.”

“Alright, sis. Send ’em my way and I’ll see what I can do for ya. Can’t wait to see what kind of funky designs you came up with this time.”

“Oh, don’t you worry, boo. They’re even funkier than my last collection.” After shooting her a few pictures of the sketches, I hear my doorbell chime in the distance.

“I’m back, bitches,” my friend Elise announces as soon as I open the door. She waltzes through my foyer like a sitcom character, taking a big bite out of the apple in her hand. “What’s on the agenda for today?”

COMING SOON

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