“What about Tuck?” asked Jade.
“What about him? He’s barely ever there. Once Dixon’s back, I’ll never even have to see him.”
Jade frowned. “But you kissed him.”
“He kissed me.”
“You kissed him back. I saw it. You kissed him back, which means you must be attracted to him.”
Amber gave a shrug. “Maybe a little bit. He’s a good-looking guy. And he’s smart and funny. You should see the string of women lining up to date him. But nothing more is going to happen between us. He’ll never really be interested in me.”
She’d thought a lot about Tuck’s kisses, concluding they were a power play, or a test like he’d said, or maybe it was just his habit to kiss any woman who happened to be around. If the tabloids were anything to go by, he did a lot of kissing with a lot of different women.
“You have to be careful of men,” said Jade.
Amber didn’t disagree, especially thinking about Earl and her mother’s other boyfriends. Not to mention the stories about some of Jade’s exes.
“Even when things start out well,” said Jade, “they usually end badly.”
Amber shifted from the bed back to the chair. “You and I agree on that.”
“But lust is a funny thing.”
“This isn’t lust.” Maybe it was curiosity, maybe sexual attraction, but what Amber felt for Tuck didn’t rise to the level of lust.
“I’ve dated guys I knew were bad for me.”
“Yes, I knew. But it didn’t keep me away. In fact it made them even more attractive.”
“I’m not you,” said Amber. She couldn’t imagine herself setting aside good sense and taking up with a man who was clearly trouble.
Jade looked unconvinced.
“I have some other news,” Amber said briskly, determined to move on. “I have to go away for a few days. It’s for work.”
Jade’s eyes narrowed critically.
“For Dixon,” Amber quickly added. She definitely didn’t want Jade worrying about her. “He has a thing in Arizona, and I need to go out there. Do you think you’ll be okay?”
“I’ll be fine. I’m only going to lay here and study.”
Amber congratulated herself on successfully switching the topic away from Tuck.
“Good.” She came to her feet. “Because I have to leave tonight.”
Jade’s smile faded, but she gave a brave nod. “Are you sure you don’t think I’m evil?”
Amber gave her sister a hug. “You’re tough and brave, and a little bit brilliant. Take care of yourself. Feel good. And don’t study too hard.”
“Enjoy Arizona. Is Tuck going with you?”
Amber didn’t have it in her to tell an outright lie. “Probably. For part of it anyway.”
“Don’t fall for him.”
“He’ll look sexy, and you’ll want to. And I saw the way he looked at you. He wants to sleep with you.”
An unwelcome wash of longing swept through Amber. “Too bad for him.”
“Just say no.”
“Well, I’m not going to say yes.”
Amber wouldn’t say yes. In fact, she doubted he’d ask again. He’d flat-out told her she wasn’t as attractive as his usual dates.
Deep down inside, she knew she wasn’t going to get another proposition from Tuck. He had far too many options in his life to even give her a second thought.
Tuck still wanted Amber. He wanted her very badly, and his desire was growing by the minute.
She was radiant in front of him, curled up in a padded rattan chair in the Scottsdale hotel courtyard. The gas fireplace flickering between them gave her face a gorgeous glow. Floodlights decorated the palm trees and rock garden behind her, while stars winked above them in the blackened sky.
“Do you have any ideas?” she asked.
There were any number of great ideas pinging around inside his head. But he doubted Amber was anywhere near his wavelength.
She was a picture of openness in a midnight blue knee-length dress and a cropped cardigan sweater with the sleeves pushed up. Her spiky sandals were dropped carelessly on the concrete patio in front of her. After her second glass of wine, she’d tugged her hair loose, and it flowed over her shoulders.
“I’m his brother,” said Tuck, knowing she’d understand he was talking about their earlier conversation at Highland Luminance. “There must be someone who can authorize a release of information to me.”