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I Don't Take You

I Don't Take You

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Anna doesn't need a man, now if she could just get the town to believe it too.

Follow Cameron and Anna as they try to escape the clutches of good intentions.

Main Tropes

  • Well- Meaning Town
  • Small Town
  • They Work Together
  • Fake Relationship
  • Holiday Romance
  • Runaway Bride
  • Fish Out of Water
  • Matchmaking Grandmas

Synopsis

Anna doesn't need a man, now if she could just get the town to believe it too.Butler hotels has always been known for its diversity! They promise investors 63% diversity across management and hiring. Keeping those numbers are Cameron Winstell job. Unfortunately, Butler Hotels is having a hiring freeze and the rumor mill says Maria Isabella Mariana Guadalupe Lopez a.k.a Anna, head of Advertising and Promotion, is taking vacation but she’s really thinking about resigning. If she does the diversity percentage will be 61%. Cameron needs time. He knows if he can talk to Anna they can come to terms.Anna is tired. She works all week, sleeps and then repeats. She loves her job but she’s wondering if it’s costing her too much. After attending a friends wedding she realizes what she really wants is a relationship. Her beloved grandmother tells her to come home to Florida. Her grandmother thinks Anna needs to think and she won’t find any good men in New York City anyway. When Anna arrives she find that her grandmother has let everyone in town know she’s looking for good man!When Cameron offers Anna a plan she counters with a fake relationship plan of her own. Cameron will be her love interest to fend off her grandmothers hopefuls and she will listen to him try to convince her to stay. It’s only a week Anna thinks, this will be easy. It would have been a great plan but the town decides to help Anna and Cameron to the altar, so Anna's sweet grandmother won't be disappointed.Follow Cameron and Anna as they try to escape the clutches of good intentions. Grab your copy today!

Intro into Chapter One

Chapter
One

“Of
course, she came alone to the wedding... who would she bring?”

Maria
Isabella Mariana Guadalupe Lopez took her seat in the front of the church. The
smell of flowers, expensive perfume and judgment surrounded her like an old
friend who didn’t know how to leave when asked politely. It was a shame she
didn’t look at the wedding invite list. The onlookers were 50% from her job. To
think she had accepted to come to Julie’s wedding hoping to get away from work
and the rumor mill.

It
was hard to find a small venue in New York City to have a wedding that didn’t
cost an arm and a leg. The church was on the upper east side, steps away from
Central Park. Inside the church it had the original wood doors, vaulted ceilings,
and stained-glass windows with depictions of angels and joy. Anna was in awe of
the church, at the same time she wondered if she’d ever find herself in church
as something else besides a guest at a wedding.

No
matter what, she would have come to the wedding. She and Julie had been friends
since college. Her loyalty to her friend made her overlook the fact that Julie
was the executive assistant to Cameron Winstell, VP of Human Resources and
Diversity and that they both worked in the same company, Butler Enterprises.
The only difference between Anna and Julie, according to the rumor mill, was
everyone was sure that Julie had worked for her position. Anna always gave 150%
of herself to whatever task she did, and her job was no different. She was a
hard worker. Anna enjoyed her work, but she wasn’t deaf to the gossip that was
spread by a few jealous people.

Did
you see Ms. Lopez in her office?  She’s
not fooling anyone being here late at night. For all the money they pay her, who
knows if she recruits the promoters or makes side deals with them for profit.

It’s
a shame they replaced the last guy with her so she could be a show horse when
the time came.

I
wonder how long before she stops with the whole charade of coming into the
office and starts to work remotely.

Anna
was about to take her first two-week vacation in three years. She was sure the
rumor mill would have their twisted way with that, as well.

What
did she expect? Anna tried to fit in so much at Butler Enterprises that she had
let them give her a nickname.  She
couldn’t even tell her living grandmother she had a nickname. It would spur a
whole conversation about what was wrong with her name.

Anna
was named after both of her grandmothers. They were smart, enterprising, and family
orientated women. Both of her grandmothers, Maria Isabella, may God rest her
soul, and Mariana Guadalupe would have stood their ground on any issue they
believed in. Her grandmothers would have told them that their names are from
strong, proud women and they could just learn how to say it. Instead of
upholding your heritage you opted to shorten your name so it would be easier
for everyone. Her nickname was easier for them, but they had taken something
away from her sense of self. Anna had to face it. No matter what she did, she
wasn’t likely to fit in.

The
rumor mill in Butler Enterprises was a living animal. She’d been on its menu
since she came aboard.

“It
looks like I’m supposed to be sitting next to you,” Ms. Engel said as she took
a seat next to Anna. Ms. Beatrice Engel was her executive assistant. She came
with the position, and every day, in every way that she could—Ms. Engel
reminded Anna that she would never be as good as the man who had held this
position before her.

Anna
looked around hoping there was some more seating that she could move to.

“I
didn’t know there were assigned seats, Ms. Engel, perhaps I should go check to
make sure I am in the right place.”

“I’ve
already checked because I knew you wouldn’t look into that kind of detail. Mr.
Parkers was always very detail orientated. He would check flights, appointments
and his calendar, as well.”

Anna
had to clasp her hands and hold her tongue not to say that was why he didn’t
still have a job. Mr. Parkers's OCD got in the way of his attaining the numbers
he needed to keep his position.

“I’m
sorry I’m late,” Larson Teller said as he moved into the row. Anna looked at
her ex move into the aisle as Ms. Engel moved aside one seat to let Larson sit
next to her.

Larson
grabbed her hand, gave it a squeeze and then gave her a small peck on her
cheek. Anna looked past Larson at Ms. Engel.

“It’s
not proper to show up to these events alone,” she said primly.

Larson
straightened up blocking her view and getting her full attention.

“It
would have been nice to be invited by you instead of your assistant.”

“Since
we are no longer together, it would have been just as awkward for me to invite
you, as it is for you to be here now.”

What
man shows up to a wedding to be with his ex? Larson Teller, master opportunist.
You would think he would have worn something besides his business suit if he
had to attend but why?  Being with her
was business and that was why they had broken up.

“We
can still be civil to one another. Besides, a lot of the upper brass will be at
this wedding.”

Ah,
and there it was, the real reason Larson was here. He was hoping to make
connections.

“Well,
have fun with that, I’m leaving after the nuptials.”

“What?
You have to stay and —”

Anna
placed two fingers over his lips and then pointed upward to the wedding march
music that had begun. Oh, looking at Larson she could see how she had fallen.
Anna loved beautiful men. They were a honey trap that she seemed to always fall
into. Most of the men she knew kept themselves up and were intelligent. The
dinners were engaging for a little while until she realized that most of them
had a dossier on her and the natural conversation was part of natural studying.

When
she had asked Larson what his plans were for them both, he had outlined how
they would buy two houses for tax purposes. One in the city and one in a sunny
location large enough to entertain. Of course, when he said city, he really
meant a coop in New York. For Larson, a sunny location would mean driving an
hour or two away from Manhattan and finding a place on Long Island or New
Jersey.  Then he went on to say how they
could evaluate their portfolios and see what would make the most sense for them
as a couple to invest in.

When
she stopped him and asked him about marriage and his feelings, he laughed. When
she didn’t laugh, he realized she was serious. He then sat her down to explain
that feelings came and went but investments showed true commitment.

When
Larson came around the rumor mill quieted a bit. Larson was even liked by Ms.
Engel. He was with her for all of the wrong reasons but at the time he had
seemed to fit into her life. It appeared he was the man she should have looked
to be with. He was dependable, didn’t do anything off schedule and one day he
assured her they would have something better than feelings; they’d have
contracts.

It
all fell apart when she told him they had to go see her grandmother. Her
grandmother had called and there was no way she wasn’t going to go visit her.
Her mother had passed away from a liver disease and her grandmothers had both
cared for her. One of the grandmothers had passed but Anna was very close to
the living one. When she told Larson she was going there on vacation, he gave
her a smile and a nod. As the days went by, he wouldn’t commit to a date, and
she confronted him.

“When
can you get off to go on the trip?” she asked one day standing in front of him
hoping to distract him from the papers in his hands.

“Are
you serious?” he replied not even bothering to look up from the paperwork he
was reviewing.

“Yes,
I told you that —”

Larson
held up his hand.

“I
heard you before, Anna, but think about your career and our future. You know
there are a lot of people who are jealous of you. A lot of people think it’s
because of your ethnicity that you’ve been allowed to climb the ladder to where
you are. To date you are the only female Vice President of Butler Enterprises. If
you go on some long vacation, they will say you are taking advantage of your
status by doing that and then what?  You’ll
say you are working remotely but think about the people who will doubt that statement.  You know out of sight means you are out of
mind. Someone else in the office will be the star in front of the higher ups
and the next thing you know you will be looking for another job. Think about
our future investments.”

Anna
heard his words, gathered her items, and left him that same day. He had yelled
after her that he would take her back after the temper tantrum. That had been
four months ago.

The
nuptials occurred in fairy tale fashion. While Anna was beyond happy for her
best friend, she couldn’t help but be a little jealous that it appeared that
she would never know the joy of being a bride because she was already married
to her job. The bride and groom had left, and everyone was moving to the
reception hall. In her haste to get away from Larson, Anna exited the opposite
direction from him and Ms. Engel. She looked over her shoulder once and saw
they hadn’t noticed when she turned. She ran right into a broad chest and caught
the delightful smell of cologne. When she looked up to steady herself, she
wished she were anywhere but here.

Cameron
Winstell was called the dark sorcerer by the rumor mill. The man had black
curly locks, and no matter how low he cut his hair, the curls were still
visible. He had a square jaw with a light scar on his chin and eyes with the
longest lashes she’d ever seen. Cameron had lashes to make a cow jealous. He
had broad shoulders and a silky voice that lulled even Ms. Engel. It was no
wonder he was the VP of Human Relations and Diversity. 

It
was rumored that when Cameron smiled, he could melt the coldest heart. He had a
knack for making everyone a friend—that is, everyone except Anna. Anna knew two
things about Cameron: he saw her as a statistic for his diversity numbers, and
he had read her entire HR file including the likes and security portion. Everything
he said was planned to endear him to her. If she didn’t know that she might
have been swept up like so many others who thought Cameron cared for them.

She
was just leaving her last mistake: Larson. The only good thing was Larson
wasn’t with Butler Enterprises, but he hadn’t been opposed to working there for
the sake of their relationship, of course.

Nope,
she wouldn’t be pulled in by Cameron for a moment. Then he smiled when he saw
it was her and Anna had to remember how to speak. There were smiles like Larson’s,
bland and perfunctory and then there were smiles like Cameron’s, a smile that
made you think you were witnessing something magical. She wanted to stop and
bask in the glory of the moment. The man’s teeth were made for this smile. Did
she see a dimple showing up on his face? Anna had to admit the overall affect
was an experience every woman should have.

“Maria
Isabella, seeing you makes a man forget all of his thoughts and want to lie
down at your feet.”

Who
says that sort of thing? Oh goodness, he had said her name correctly.

He
knew all of the buttons to push because he had studied her. A warm ball of
cheer unfurled in her, but she would tamp it down by reminding her traitorous
feelings that he meant none of it. He was doing what he thought he had to do:
to keep her and nothing more. His words of flattery weren’t for her alone but
for everyone. He was a chameleon walking down the halls.   

“I
haven’t given notice yet, so you don’t have to bring out the big guns of
flattery.”

As
people were exiting the room, he took off his jacket and then flexed his arm in
a body builder pose.

“Now
these are guns, Maria Isabella. What I said to you earlier was just the truth.”

Anna
had to place a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. Cameron was a force
to be reckoned with. He didn’t need any hint that he got to her in any way,
form, or fashion.

“Well,
put your guns away before a cop shows up and arrests you for carrying personal
pocket defenses.”

“Ouch,
woman, you wound me!”

Anna
reached into her pocket and pulled out a set of keys.

“By
the way, here are the keys to my office.”

“Your
office? And you brought a copy to the wedding?”

“I
actually meant to give them to my assistant, Ms. Engel, but since you’re here
I’m sure you are responsible.”

“Thank
you, but can you explain why you had the locks changed?”

Anna
gave that a thought. No way was she going to explain to Cameron that she had
given a set of her keys to Larson who refused to give them back. He insisted
they were going to get back together.

Anna
shrugged. “I lost my keys, and my office keys were on it. It’s probably one of
the few times I’m thrilled to see you. While I’m away if anyone needs to, they
can get into the office.”

“Thanks,
your diligence is noted.” Cameron looked toward the door where stragglers were
filing out. “So, you’re not going to the reception?”

Anna
followed his gaze and saw Larson looking at her and Cameron with a predatory
interest that only made her strengthen her resolve about their relationship.

“No,
I already spent last night with Julie. Thank you for being so understanding and
letting Julie off for a week for her honeymoon.”

“It’s
no problem. I couldn’t do half of what I do if it weren’t for Julie. You have
no idea how hard it is to find someone who wants to work and fits your work
style.”

Anna
wanted to say yes, she did, but she was stuck with Ms. Engel. Although their
workstyles didn’t mesh, she had to admit that Ms. Engel was beyond efficient.
Before she could comment on the situation, Cameron flashed that smile that made
others roll over and Anna felt like someone had gripped her heart.

“Maria
Isabella, I was wondering if you would do me a favor.”

Everything
in Anna wanted to say Yes! I’ll do it. It was only her brain and her sense of
self-preservation that stopped her from calling out.

“A
favor, Cameron? That is a big request coming from you, and I might agree to it
if I get a favor in return. You never know when I might be down on my luck and
need someone to buy me lunch.”

He
gave her a grin that would melt the most hardened of hearts.

“If
it’s food that gets me in with you, then you’re my kind of woman,” he said.

“Stop
and ask already. All this talk of me being your kind of woman will make me run
to the nearest church and take vows.”

Cameron
laughed and shook his head. “Well, I wouldn’t want to deprive some man of such
an amazing woman. I would ask you to be mine if I didn’t already have a nice
fellow lined up for you.”

Danger,
Danger, Danger. Maria Isabella, there is a good-looking snake talking to you.

“Hmm,
a better fellow, you say,” Anna said as she crossed her arms over her chest.
She needed to do that in order to hide the slight tremble of her hands.

“What
fellow and what favor?”

“Butler
Enterprises is supporting foster animals. Can you do a photo shoot with one of
the foster dogs? He’s been on the list for a while and he’s older, but a
perfect gentleman.”

Anna
stepped away from Cameron and gave him her best cocky grin.

“Well,
when you put it that way, the only answer is yes. I mean out of the two of you,
I’m sure the dog is the better gentleman.”

Cameron
wiggled his eyebrows.

“Now,
now, now Maria Isabella, don’t throw the gauntlet down unless you want me to
pick it up.”

Anna
held up her hands in self-defense.

“I
know better than to dare you. I heard the last dare you took on without a care
in the world. I wanted to congratulate you since we are talking about you
taking on new challenges. I saw we made the top ten companies actively
maintaining our staff and diversity all at the same time.”

If
that smile could have gotten any wider it did and the dimple that was barely
there before was now a deep crater of cuteness. Oh yes, she could see how some
woman could look into those eyes and say yes to everything he asked. With the
charm oozing out of him, he was just what the rumor said. He was the dark sorcerer.

Not
that she was affected by these things. Larson and men like him had conditioned
her to know that attractive men were Venus fly traps waiting for food. She
definitely wasn’t going to fall for the old “let’s help homeless dogs” trick.
It would be diabolical to use such a stunt. She wasn’t going to go that way at
all. With her hands crossed over her chest she braced her heart. Then Cameron
pulled out a picture.

“This
is King.”

Anna
looked at the picture and it was a sad Rottweiler sitting in a corner looking
over his shoulder. He wasn’t a young fellow and some of his coat was thinner
than what it should be.

“Oh,
my goodness, what happened to him? Is he in a safe place now?” When Anna didn’t
hear an answer, she looked up to see Cameron looking at her strangely.

“What
is it?”

He
shook his head and brought back his grin.

“I
didn’t realize you were such a soft woman... for dogs.”

She
chuckled.

“I
am for the four-legged kind, though. Good work helping this dog out, and of
course I’ll do the shoot.”

“Had
I known I would have suggested you participate in this program before. The
program has been running for about two years now.”

“Good
job Cameron, you’ve surprised me.”

He
pushed his hands into his pocket after replacing the picture.

“Wow,
was that as hard as it looked for you?”

She
grinned.

“Don’t
look at my reactions too closely. Just take the compliment for the dog and move
on.”

Cameron
backed up and took a bow.

“I
graciously accept your praise. They’ll call you and thank you,” he said
graciously.

Okay,
what had happened here? Anna thought she knew most of the pitches from Cameron,
but this cause had brought out a level of transparency and authenticity that
she hadn’t expected. It was in that moment that something changed. They went
from being joking colleagues to all of a sudden being a man and a woman. That
was when Anna discovered she and Cameron were the only ones in the room. It was
as if they had both discovered, at the same time, they were alone. It shouldn't
have mattered. They were both grown adults and didn't need supervision. Anna
looked toward the door hoping to find a lurking Larson standing there. Instead,
she found an empty hallway which just reinforced everyone had left the room.

“Oh,
there you are. I thought you had left,” Ms. Engel said as she walked into the
room. It was the steady tapping of her patent leather shoes that broke the
spell that had been cast over them both. Anna felt as if she were waking up
from a fog and was beyond grateful for Ms. Engel’s interruption.

“Ah,
the ever-efficient Ms. Engel. It is a pleasure to see you always,” Cameron
said. To Anna’s disgust she saw the light shade of pink bloom on Ms. Engel’s
cheeks. The man was incorrigible. Anna had to admit that he was extremely
talented if he could get Ms. Engel to blush. “Don’t disturb your good time this
day Ms. Engel. It is an honorable task, but I will make sure that Ms. Lopez
makes it to her final destination unscathed.”

Ms.
Engel smiled at Cameron and gave Anna a look of disdain. When she was gone,
Anna turned to Cameron.

“I
don’t need any help being in trouble with that woman.”

He
chuckled. “Ms. Engel is a dear. She’s committed and almost a company fixture.”

“Don’t
I know it,” murmured Anna. “I didn’t even know she could smile until I
accidentally saw her smile with other coworkers.”

“If
you want, I’ll ask her to smile more for you,” Cameron offered.

“No
thank you. I’ll somehow make it without it. Besides, I’m leaving this place to
relax,” she said with a satisfied grin.

“You
have to leave to relax?” Cameron’s brow furrowed. “I think someone is
exaggerating a bit.”

Anna
shook her head. “Nope, no exaggeration needed. You have to know there is a
rumor mill that is alive and active. It takes no holidays and for whatever the
reason they like to put me on the list to talk about first. So, I decided to
give them something to talk about: my leaving.”

“You
mean your vacation?”

“That’s
what I said,” Anna repeated.

“Cameron,
we need to talk to you.” Anna was never so happy to see someone in her whole
life. Travers and Colleen were waiting for him at the door. Anna saw them give
her a glance or two, but she didn’t say a thing. At this rate they had probably
just heard from the rumor mill she was going on vacation.

“I
won’t hold you up, see you.”

Anna exited the room.
The quicker she could get away from Cameron and his smile of doom, the better.
As she walked away, she reaffirmed to herself that she was done with men who
could charm the wings off an angel. She was going to take some time and find
herself just like her abuela wanted her to.

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