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“I’ve already told you, I have to do this. Not for me, but for my parents and for Aunt Trixi, too. Not to mention all the employees at The Treasured Chest. I don’t care if you offer me a million dollars, it won’t change my mind.”

“Think about it. If you’re doing this to help all those people, don’t you think taking my offer would be what helped them most of all?” I asked. It was a logical resolution to her problem.

Anne crossed her arms and said, “If it was only about money, then I want to know what you offered Uncle Carl. Because he didn’t sell to you.”

Oh, Anne definitely was going to make me work for this. “I trust you, it was a fair offer. He just wasn’t ready to sell.”

“Or didn’t want to sell to you,” Anne stated. “See, you don’t know my uncle like I do. He liked working and the club was important to him, but not as important as the people who worked there. He treated each with respect and knew that they were there to support themselves and their families. I have a feeling there’s only one thing you think about, and that is your bank account.”

“You’re right Anne, or Trixi, or whatever you want to be called. I didn’t know Carl like you did. But you also don’t know me. I want to bring a mall to Bermoose. This would create hundreds more jobs than The Treasured Chest does. So I would say I think about the entire town, and not just a select few. Will I make money from this deal? Of course. No different than you will from the sale. And if you aren’t interested in making money, then maybe you should give all your drinks away free and not take a paycheck.”

That was a bit rough, but it was accurate. I’m not a hammer, like many of my colleagues, out to crush anything and everyone. I’ve dealt with people like that and come out on top many times. It’s all about knowing when to stand your ground and when to walk away. Anne had no reason to hold onto the club. She didn’t want to be there. She’d practically told me so the night before. I needed to remind her of that, without pushing too hard. I’m an ass, but not an asshole. Anne really believed she was doing what was best for her family and employees.

“Okay. I think you two both made some great points,” Trixi said. “But I don’t think anyone should make a rash decision. Anne, I won’t tell you what to do, but I do believe you should take some time to ponder what Andrew has said. And Andrew, I think you should spend some more time in Bermoose to get better acquainted with the town. We are not like Boston. And honestly, we don’t want to be.”

“Aunt Trixi, I don’t need to think about it. I know my answer,” Anne said.

Normally I’d agree with Anne. But if Trixi was willing to give me a chance, then maybe with a bit of time, Anne would as well. I just needed to her be open-minded. I know you can be. You went to Boston University. That means you wanted more, too.

“Although the accommodations aren’t the best, I’m willing to stay a few more days.”

“Make it a week and you can stay here,” Trixi stated.

“What? You’re going to let him stay with us? Have you lost your mind?” Anne said, obviously agitated at the entire conversation.

“No. I figured it would give us a chance to get to know him better as well. I mean, maybe he’s telling the truth about thinking about the entire town. If that’s the case, then maybe Carl was wrong,” Trixi said.

Anne just shook her head in defeat. I turned to Trixi and said, “I’m sure we can accomplish the same thing without my staying here with you.”

Anne nodded. “He agrees.”

Trixi turned to Anne and said, “That’s because you aren’t being very hospitable. And besides, I have a few things that need repairing. We can put him to work at the same time.”

Anne snorted. “I bet he’s never even used a screw gun.”

“Thank you, Trixi. I’ll take you up on your offer. And for the record, I was an Eagle Scout and even know how to build a fire with just two sticks.”

Anne glared at me. I shouldn’t really enjoy this victory. A place to stay for a week wasn’t my goal. But I would use this time to win Anne over. She was upset now, but there had been a time when she didn’t consider me a threat, and I wanted to get back to that.

“Does this mean we can eat now? Because I’m starving,” Trixi said as her stomach growled.

“I think I’ll head back to my motel. There are a few things I need to take care of before checking out.” I got up and said, “I’ll see you ladies tomorrow.”

Anne rolled her eyes. “Oh, joy,” she said.

Trixi said, “Why don’t you come by for lunch? We eat a late one before we head to the club to open up. This way I can also show you your room and you can get settled in.”

“Sounds good. I’ll see you both later. Good night.”

I hadn’t even had a chance to close the door behind me when I heard Anne’s voice. “Aunt Trixi, I can’t believe you just did that to me. That man is…impossible.”

“Actually, he’s kind of cute. Or at least that’s how you described him to me,” Trixi replied.

Not sure she thinks I’m cute anymore.As I got into my car I looked at the log cabin one more time. A week. Damn it. I thought I’d be back in Boston before then.

I misread Anne. She might turn out to be even more difficult to negotiate with than her uncle. But she’s going to be a hell of a lot more fun to deal with.

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