“You want to add an exclamation point to that?”
“You’re mocking me.”
“I am. You have to admit, it was a quick turnaround.”
“It took me a minute to get my head on straight. That’s all. Good night, Tuck.”
“Good night, Amber.” The mocking tone was still in his voice.
She struggled to leave things on a professional note. “Jackson will be here in the morning?”
“You think Jackson will protect your virtue?”
“I’m thinking about finding Dixon. I’ve moved on.”
She had. No more kissing Tuck. No more touching Tuck. No more flirting with Tuck.
She would keep her distance and keep it professional.
* * *
After a sleepless night fantasizing about Amber, and repeatedly asking himself why on earth he’d behaved like a gentleman, Tuck wasn’t in the mood to care about corporate sales. But Lucas was on the phone asking, and Lucas was right. Robson Equipment was an important client and Tuck was only half an hour from Phoenix.
“Tell them yes,” he said to Lucas. “Jackson showed up with a couple of guys. I’m sure they can spare me for a few hours.”
Robson Equipment was hosting a black-tie business event and Lucas had arranged an invitation. It would be a chance to Tuck to touch base with the corporate brass and head off any moves Zachary Ingles might be making to poach the account.
“Take Amber,” said Lucas.
“Jackson needs her help.”
“Tell him he needs to share.”
After her stance last night, Tuck couldn’t imagine Amber agreeing to attend a dinner. “I don’t need a date.”
“She’s not your date. She’s your assistant. She knows the account inside out and I’m beginning to think she’s smarter than you.”
“That wasn’t a joke.”
“I doubt she’ll agree,” Tuck told him flat out.
“She’s there to work, isn’t she?”
Tuck didn’t want to explain the complexity of their relationship, not that he was even sure how. The chemistry between them was combustible. He’d lied to her last night. What he’d felt with her didn’t happen all the time. He’d never experienced anything like it in his life.
He could vow to keep his hands off her. But he was too smart to trust himself. He might have decided to behave more like Dixon, but it was definitely going to take some practice.
“Tuck?” Lucas prompted.
“She’ll be working all day already.”
“So pay her overtime.”
“I’m not sure—”
“What did you do?”
“What do you mean?”
“You did something to upset her.”
“I did not. Okay, I did. But it’s not what you think.”
“What do I think?”
“That I made a pass at her.”
“That’s exactly what I think. I bet she said no. And I hope you remember that for next time.”
“She didn’t say no. Far from it.” Tuck checked his ego, but not quite in time.
There was a pause. “What did you do?”
“Nothing. But it’s complicated.”
“Uncomplicate it,” said Lucas.
If only it was that easy. “You’re such an armchair quarterback.”
“Do I need to quote the Robson sales figures for last year?”
“No.” Tuck knew they were significant.
“Are you going to argue that she doesn’t know the portfolio?”
“I’m not.” Tuck knew he was being cornered, but there wasn’t a thing in the world he could do to stop it.
Lucas was right on all counts. Lucas was looking out for the best interests of Tucker Transportation, which is exactly what Tuck needed to be doing.
A knock sounded on the hotel room door.
“Get it done,” said Lucas.
“I’ll talk to you after.” Lucas ended the call.
Tuck finished buttoning his shirt as he crossed the living room of the suite. It was southwest in character, lots of rusts, browns and yellows, creating a warm atmosphere. The bed had been extraordinarily comfortable, the room temperature perfect with a fresh, fragrant breeze coming in from the desert side.
He’d returned here last night to find chilled champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Nice touch, but it was impossible to enjoy them by himself. He’d longed to invite Amber over to share, only to talk, just to listen to her voice, watch her expressions.