Camila and Braulio had developed a casual relationship over the span of the project, and they now were seated at a cozy corner table in a small restaurant, enjoying their dinner and discussing the successful completion of the Diputación Provincial de Lugo renovation project. As they chatted, Camila casually mentioned that Ana had requested an evening meeting to discuss her future.
Braulio looked up, his expression becoming serious. "Be careful, Camila," he warned. "Don't let Ana force you into anything you don't want to do."
Camila's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean?" she asked.
Braulio hesitated for a moment, then leaned in close. "I've worked with Ana for a long time, and she's not always the most straightforward person," he said. "Just be careful and make sure you're making decisions that are right for you."
Camila nodded, understanding the gravity of Braulio's words. She knew that Ana had a reputation for being a powerful figure in politics, and the idea of crossing her was intimidating. But Camila was determined to stay true to herself and her own goals, even if it meant taking a risk.
"Thanks for the advice, Braulio," she said, smiling gratefully. "I'll keep it in mind."
As they finished their meal and said their goodbyes, Camila couldn't help but feel grateful for Braulio's friendship and guidance. She knew that as she navigated her future, she would need allies like him to help her stay true to herself and her values.
Two weeks had passed since Camila and Braulio's dinner when Ana asked Camila to join her for tapas at her apartment at 18:00hrs.
Camila arrived at Ana's apartment building at exactly 18:00hrs. She was greeted by the doorman who let her in and directed her to the elevator. As the elevator doors opened, Camila stepped out onto the top floor where Ana's apartment was located.
Camila knocked on the door and was greeted by Ana, who welcomed her with a warm hug. Ana led Camila to the living room where they sat on the couch and talked about the project and the progress that had been made. Camila could sense that there was something else that Ana wanted to discuss.
After some small talk, Ana finally got to the point. "Camila, I wanted to talk to you about your future," Ana said, looking at Camila intently.
Camila's heart rate increased as she waited for Ana to continue. "I've been thinking about you a lot, and I believe that you would be the perfect candidate for a new national project that I'm working on," Ana said with a smile.
Camila felt relieved. She had feared that Ana was going to pressure her into taking on more responsibilities at the Diputación Provincial de Lugo. "What kind of project is it?" Camila asked, trying to sound casual.
"It's a telecommunications project," Ana replied. "It involves setting up a new system for a government agency in Madrid. It's a challenging project, but I know that you're up for it."
Camila thanked Ana for the opportunity. “I am grateful for your support,” she said. Ana leaned into Camila and whispered, “You will need to become a permanent government official, which means that I will have to post the position publicly and hold a test. Do not worry, I will give you the answers to the test beforehand. And there are a couple of other things you will have to do; you will have to give back 10% of your salary to me and” ... Ana kissed Camila on the lips. Camila jumped up from the couch with a yap and objected to Ana's proposal.
Camila couldn't believe what she just heard. She took a few steps back and looked at Ana in disbelief. "I cannot do that, Ana. That's not right. I want to get this position on my own merit," she said firmly.
Ana shrugged her shoulders and replied, "Suit yourself. But you won't make it without my help. Think about it. This is a great opportunity for you. You wouldn't want to throw it away, would you?"
Camila was conflicted. On the one hand, she was grateful for Ana's support and didn't want to jeopardize her chances of getting the job. On the other hand, she couldn't accept the conditions that Ana had just laid out. She took a deep breath and tried to remain calm.
"Ana, I appreciate your help, but I cannot accept these conditions. I want to earn this job on my own merit, and I don't want to owe anyone anything for it," she said firmly.
Ana looked at Camila with a mixture of disappointment and frustration. "Fine. Suit yourself. But don't come crying to me when you can't make it on your own," she said coldly.
Ana walked over to her bookcase and pulled down her black book. “I would not be so sanctimonious young lady. Do you know what this is?” she asked. Camila said, “A black book.” Ana replied, “Yes, but is it much more than that. This book contains all the transgressions of all the powerful people in Lugo, including your parents and specifically your mother. Have you ever wondered how your mother affords her lavish lifestyle? Your mother, the past president of the provincial government, allowed smuggling on the Costa Galicia. And to my understanding from recent reports, she still is involved.”
Camila was shocked at Ana's words. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her mother, involved in smuggling? It was too much to take in. She sat back down on the couch, her mind racing with questions and emotions.
Ana sat next to her, still holding the black book in her hand. "I know this is a lot to take in," she said, "but you need to understand that in this town, power and corruption go hand in hand. Your mother may have been a beloved leader, but she had her secrets, just like everyone else."
Camila shook her head, trying to make sense of it all. "But what does this have to do with me?" she asked.
Ana leaned in closer. "It means that you need to be careful, my dear. If you cross me, or anyone else in this town, they may use this information against you. And trust me, they won't hesitate to do so."
Ana then threatened Camila and informed her that if she does not do as she is told she will withdraw her support and put her in the black book, with a note saying that Camila will not be allowed to be employed by any government office in Spain. "You have no idea what you're getting into, Camila. I have the power to make or break your career," Ana said, her voice laced with a cold warning.
Camila swallowed hard and looked down at her hands, her mind racing. She didn't know what to do or where to turn. She had worked so hard to get to where she was, and the thought of losing it all because of Ana's threats was unbearable.
Ana walked over to Camila and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I don't want to have to do this, Camila," she said, her tone softening. "But you have to understand that this is how the game is played. You need me, and I need you. We can help each other, but only if you play by my rules."
Camila shook her head, feeling a mix of anger and fear. "I can't do this, Ana. I won't compromise my integrity for anyone," she said firmly.
Ana's expression hardened, and she withdrew her hand from Camila's shoulder. "Very well then. You leave me no choice," she said coldly. "Consider yourself on your own. You'll see how far your honesty gets you in this world."
With those words, Ana got up from the couch and walked back over to her bookcase, placing the black book back in its spot. Camila sat there, lost in thought. She didn't know what her next move would be, but one thing was clear - things were about to get a lot more complicated.