“So you’re in it now.”
“I am. And it’s scaring me half to death.”
Jackson grinned. “I’ve been in the thick of it with you before. I can’t picture you being afraid of anything.”
“This isn’t the same as a physical threat.”
“I’m not just talking about a barroom brawl. Remember, I’m running a company of my own.”
“That’s right.” Tuck perked up at the thought of getting some free advice. “You are. How big is it now?”
“Four offices, here in Chicago, New York, Boston and Philly.”
“How many employees?”
“About two hundred.”
“So you could give me a few tips?”
“Tucker Transportation is on a whole different scale than I am. You’re better off talking to your friend Shane Colborn.”
“I’m better off finding Dixon.”
“I’ll fly to Charlotte in the morning.”
“You need a jet?”
Jackson cracked a grin. “I’m not going to say no to that offer. Sure, hook me up with a jet. In the meantime, check out his computer.”
“I’ll get Amber to help.”
“Dixon’s trusty assistant.”
An image of Amber’s pretty face came up in his mind. He wasn’t normally a fan of tailored clothes and no-nonsense hairstyles. But she seemed to look good in anything.
And then there were those shoes. She wore a different pair every day, each one sexier than the last. Something was definitely going on beneath the surface there. And the more time he spent with her, the more he wanted to figure out what really made her tick.
* * *
When Tuck strode into the office Monday morning, Amber’s hormones jumped to attention. He was dressed in a pair of faded jeans, a green cotton shirt and a navy blazer. His dark brown hair had a rakish swoop across the top, and his face had a sexy, cavalier day’s growth of beard.
He definitely wasn’t Dixon. Dixon’s confidence was never cocky. And Dixon had never made her heart pump faster and heat rise up her neck.
“I need your help,” he stated without preamble.
Amber immediately came to her feet. “Is something wrong?”
“Come with me.” His walk was decisive and his voice definitive.
She experienced a new and completely inappropriate shiver of reaction.
This was a place of business, she told herself. He wasn’t thinking about her as a woman. He sure wasn’t thinking the same things she was thinking—that his commanding voice meant he might haul her into his office, pin her up against a wall and kiss her senseless.
What was wrong with her?
Tuck headed into Dixon’s office and she forcibly shook off her silly fantasy.
“Do you know his password?” Tuck asked, crossing the big room and rounding the mahogany desk.
“His password to what?” she asked.
“To log on to the system.” Tuck leaned down and moved the mouse to bring the screen to life.
She didn’t answer. Dixon had given her his password a couple of months back on a day when he was in Europe and needed her to send him some files. She still remembered it, but she knew he’d never intended for her to use it again. What she technically knew, and what she ought to use, were two different things.
Tuck glanced up sharply. “Tell me the password, Amber.”
“If you don’t, I’ll only have the systems group reset it.”
He made a valid point. As the acting head of Tucker Transportation, he could do whatever he wanted with the company computer system.
“Fine. It’s ClownSchool, capital C and S, dollar sign, one, eight, zero.”
Tuck typed. “You might want to think about whose side you’re on here.”
“I’m not taking sides.” Though she was committed to keeping her promise to Dixon. “I’m trying to be professional.”
“And I’m trying to save Tucker Transportation.”
“Save it from what?” Had something happened?
“From ruin without my father or Dixon here to run it.”
“What are you looking for?” she asked, realizing that he was exaggerating for effect and deciding to move past the hyperbole.
Tucker Transportation was a solid company with a team of long-term, capable executives running the departments. Even from the top, there was a limited amount of damage anyone could do in a month.
“Clues to where he went,” said Tuck.