Tuck and Dixon might not be the closest brothers in the world. But they weren’t estranged. They weren’t fighting. There was no particular animosity between them.
Tuck stepped forward. “Things have gotten worse since you...left.”
“You mean since I was fired.”
“Yeah, that.” He didn’t know why he’d tried to soften the words. They both knew what had happened. “We’re losing accounts. We’re losing staff. We’ve gone from high profitability to a projected loss for next month.”
There was no sympathy in her blue eyes. “You might want to do something about that.”
“I’m worried about the employees,” he said, ignoring her jab. “If this goes on much longer, people could lose their jobs.”
“What does that have to do with me? Considering I already lost mine.”
“I’m appealing to your basic sense of humanity.”
“While I’m still standing on my basic sense of ethics and values.”
He eased closer. “Where is he, Amber?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you know?”
She raised her chin. “That he didn’t want me to tell you anything.”
“That was weeks ago.”
“I haven’t heard anything to contradict it.”
“So you haven’t heard from him?”
She drew back in obvious surprise. “No.”
“Does he know how to contact you?”
“He’d probably try to call me at my desk.”
“He knows how to contact you, too, Tuck. If he wanted to talk to you, he’d call.” She turned to go.
“What about an emergency?” Tuck called out. He could taste failure, bitter in the back of his mouth. “Can you get a message to him? That’s all I’m asking. Get a message to him. You can name your price.”
She stopped. Then she pivoted, gaping at him in clear astonishment. “My price?”
“Anything you want.” He could feel his last chance slipping away. “What do you want?”
To Tuck’s immense relief, she actually looked intrigued.
“You’d pay me to get a message to Dixon.”
She seemed to think about it. “What would you want me to say?”
“You’ll do it?”
Had Lucas actually been right? Was money going to sway her?
“What would you want me to say?” she asked again.
“Tell him about my father’s heart attack and tell him I’m destroying the company.”
She looked a little surprised by the last statement. “You want to make certain he comes home.”
“I want to make certain he knows the cost of staying away.”
“I’m not going to lie for you.”
“It’s not a lie.”
“It is. You’re not destroying the company. You’ve hit a rough patch, sure, but—”
“You haven’t been there.”
It was every bit as bad as he was making it sound.
“You’re exaggerating,” she said.
They could have this debate all day long and get nowhere. He had a toehold on a yes here, and he didn’t want to give her a chance to back out.
“What’ll it cost me?” he asked.
“You’re talking about a flat-out cash bribe?”
“If that’s what works.”
She looked skeptical. “And I’d only have to tell him about your father.”
“And that I’m destroying the company.”
“I’m not using the word destroy.”
“Then, tell him I’ve projected a loss for next month.” Tuck knew that would come as a colossal shock to Dixon. He’d be on the first plane home.
He could see the debate going on behind her eyes.
“How much?” he asked.
What would she ask for? Five figures, six? He’d pay whatever she wanted.
“My job back,” she said.
He hadn’t been prepared for that. And he was shocked she’d be willing. “You want to work for me again?”
“I want to work for Dixon again.”
“Job’s yours,” he said. He’d be thrilled to have her back. In fact, he felt guilty that her request was so modest. He moved a little closer. “You have to know you’ve got me over a barrel?”
“Do you want me to ask for something more?”
He did. If nothing else, he was curious. “Yeah. Go wild.”