A Bargain with the Boss - Page 24

Tuck wasn’t about to admit that was true. “I was expecting him to be faithful to my mother.”

“Did Dixon know?” asked Jackson, his thoughts obviously moving along the same lines as Tuck’s.

Dixon had just been a victim of infidelity. Finding out about their father might have angered him enough to leave. Tuck couldn’t help but wonder if he planned to stay gone.

“No,” said Amber.

“How can you be sure?” asked Tuck. It would at least have been some kind of explanation.

Amber had to think about it for a moment. “I’m as sure as I can be. I didn’t figure it out until the heart attack. And Dixon never acted as if he knew.”

“How did you figure it out?” asked Jackson.

“The way Margaret acted when Jamison collapsed,” said Amber. “She mentioned they’d had wine together the night before. Then when she realized what she’d said, she panicked.”

“You were with Jamison when it happened?” asked Jackson.

“I was in his office. He was upset, grilling me about Dixon. When I wouldn’t tell him anything, he got really angry.” She fell to silence, and her shoulders drooped. A cloud came over her eyes. “Maybe I should have told...”

Tuck looked to Jackson. Both men waited, but she didn’t elaborate.

“Should have told what?” Jackson prompted in a soft voice.

Amber refocused on him. “Nothing.”

“What was he asking?”

“Where Dixon went.”

“But you didn’t tell him.”

“No.”

“Tell us.”

She drew back. “I don’t know.”

“You just admitted that you did,” said Tuck.

She shook her head in vigorous denial.

“You said maybe you should have told him, but you didn’t tell him.”

“That’s not what I—”

“No,” said Tuck. He kept his tone carefully even, but inwardly he was furious. She’d been lying to him. She’d watched him struggle all these weeks. She’d pretended to help him, when all the while the solution had been at her fingertips.

“You can’t walk it back,” he said. “You know where Dixon went. Tell me. Tell me right this second.”

She compressed her lips, staring at him, her expression a combination of guilt and defiance.

“That’s an order,” he said. “Tell me, or you’re fired—”

“Tuck,” Jackson cut in.

“No,” said Tuck. “She’s sat back and let Tucker Transportation fall down around my ears. She doesn’t get to do that and keep her job.”

“I can’t,” she protested.

“Then, you’re fired.”

Five

Tuck’s final words echoed inside Amber’s ears.

She put her compact car into Park outside her town house, set the brake and gripped the steering wheel. She was home an hour early, and it felt surreal. The sun was too high in the sky and kids were still playing in the park across the street, whooping it up on the slide and the jungle gym.

Fired. She’d been fired from Tucker Transportation. She had no job. She had no paycheck. Her savings might take her through the next month, but she had mortgage payments, utility payments, phone bills and food bills.

She cursed the new shoes on her feet. She’d worn them for the first time today and she couldn’t take them back. Then again, they were gorgeous and they’d been on sale. And, really, how much would a refund help? It would barely fill up her gas tank.

She couldn’t waste time worrying about might-have-beens. She had to get it together. She had to start job hunting right away.

The front door opened and Jade stood there, looking out, her rounded belly pressing against an oversize plaid shirt. Amber was reminded that she also had Jade and the baby to worry about. Not that it changed her plans.

She’d update her résumé tonight and get out job hunting first thing tomorrow. It would have been nice to have Dixon as a reference. She sure couldn’t use Tuck.

She turned off the engine, trying unsuccessfully to banish his image from her mind. He’d been angry. That much was certainly clear. But he’d looked hurt, too, seeming disappointed that her loyalty was to Dixon. She wished she could have given Tuck what he wanted, but she couldn’t serve them both.

She stepped out of the car and waved to Jade as she walked up the stepping-stones. The sage and asters were barely hanging on. The other blooms had faded away, and only the leaves remained. October was not exactly a cheerful month.


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