A Bargain with the Boss - Page 11

Then Tuck seemed to have an inspiration. He lifted the desk phone and dialed.

A moment later, a ring chimed inside Dixon’s top drawer.

Tuck drew it open and removed Dixon’s cell phone, holding it while it rang.

“How does it still have battery power?” he asked, more to himself than anything.

“I’ve been charging it,” said Amber.

His attention switched to her, his face crinkling in obvious annoyance. “You didn’t think to tell me his cell phone was in his desk drawer?”

Amber wasn’t sure how to answer that.

“And how did you know it was there anyway? Were you snooping through his drawers?”

“No.” She quickly shook her head. She was intensely respectful of Dixon’s privacy. “He told me he was leaving it behind.”

Tuck’s piercing gray eyes narrowed, his brows slanting together in a way that wrinkled his forehead. “So he told you he was leaving? Before he left, you knew he was going?”

Amber realized she’d spoken too fast. But now she had no choice but to give a reluctant nod.

Tuck straightened and came to the end of the desk, his voice gravelly and ominous. “Before you answer this, remember I’m the acting president of this company. This is a direct order, and I don’t look kindly on insubordination. Did he tell you where he was going?”

Dixon had given her an emergency number. And she’d recognized the area code. But he hadn’t flat-out told her where he was going.

“No,” she said, promising herself it wasn’t technically a lie. “He needs the time, Tuck. He’s been overworked for months, and Kassandra’s betrayal hit him hard.”

“That’s not for you to decide.”

She knew that was true. But it wasn’t for Tuck to decide, either.

“He doesn’t even know about our father,” said Tuck.

“If he knew, he’d come home.”

Tuck’s voice rose. “Of course he’d come home.”

“And then he’d be back to square one, worse off than he was before. I know it must be hard for you without him.”

“You know? You don’t know anything.”

“I’ve worked here for five years.” It was on the tip of her tongue to say that it was a whole lot longer than Tuck had worked here, but she checked herself in time.

“As an assistant.”

“Yes.”

“You don’t have the full picture. You don’t know the risks, the critical decisions.”

“I know Dixon.”

Tuck’s tone turned incredulous. “You’re saying I don’t?”

Amber’s voice rose. “I’m saying I’ve been here. I watched how hard he’s worked. I saw how much your father slowed down these past months. I watched what Kassandra’s infidelity did to him. He was losing it, Tuck. He took a break because he had no other choice.”

Tuck gripped the side of the desk, his jaw going tight.

Amber mentally braced herself for an onslaught.

But his voice stayed steady, his words measured. “My father was slowing down?”

“Yes. A lot. Margaret was funneling more and more work to Dixon. Dixon was scrambling. He was staying late, coming in early, traveling all over the world.”

“He likes traveling.”

“You can’t constantly travel and still run a company. And then Kassandra.”

“Her behavior was despicable.”

“It hurt him, Tuck. Yes, he was disgusted and angry. But he was also very badly hurt.”

Tuck rocked back on his heels, his expression going pensive. “He didn’t let on.”

Amber hesitated but decided to share some more information. If it would help Tuck understand the gravity of the situation, it would do more good than harm.

“There were times when I heard more than I should,” she said. “I know Dixon was ready to be a father. He thought they were trying to get pregnant. Instead, she was taking birth control pills and sleeping with another man.”

It was clear from Tuck’s expression that Dixon hadn’t shared that information with him. He sat down, and his gaze went to the computer screen. “He still needs to know about our father.”

She knew it wasn’t her place to stop Tuck. “Do what you need to do.”

He glanced up. “But you’re not going to help me?”

“There’s nothing more I can do to help you find Dixon. But I’ll help you run Tucker Transportation.”

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