Tuck sat up and leaned forward. “Is it working?” He poured them each a glass, handing one to her.
“Be still, my beating heart.”
“You do know it’s not always like this.”
“Always like what?”
“This many staff members, hanging out in the living room, dressed in a tux.” He tugged off the tie and undid his top button. “Other parts of the house are a lot less formal.”
She found herself glancing around again. “I would hope so. I’d be jumpy if I had to live in this 24/7.”
He took a sip of his water. “Want to know a secret?”
“Has anyone ever said no to that question?”
He chuckled. “I guess not.”
“Then, yes, do tell me your secret.” She took a long drink, realizing she was very thirsty after a martini and two glasses of wine.
“The place makes me jumpy, too.”
“Yeah, right.” She continued drinking the water.
“I never liked this room. Or the library. You should see the library. Talk about pretentious and forbidding. My dad’s fortress. It’s positively gothic.” He lowered his tone. “Nothing good ever happens in the library.”
“Now you really have got me curious.”
“You sure you’re brave enough to see the library?”
“Oh, I’m brave enough. Besides, your father’s not here.”
“Check out the lion’s den while the lion’s away.” He set down his glass. “You’re very smart. That’s what I like about you.”
She gave a saucy grin at the compliment, but it also warmed her heart. It was nice to think that Tuck considered her intelligent. She’d certainly gained great respect for his reasoning and judgment. She’d also come to respect his hard work.
The past two weeks, she’d found herself wondering if he’d always been industrious, but simply focused on things other than Tucker Transportation. There was no doubt he’d raised the bar on being Chicago’s preeminent playboy bachelor.
He came to his feet. “Let’s go.”
She rose and grimaced as her shoes pinched down on her swollen feet.
“Something wrong?” he asked.
“Would it be terribly rude if I took off my shoes?”
His mouth broke into a mischievous smile. “Shoeless in the library. You’re a maverick, Amber, no doubt about it.”
“Good thing your father’s not around to see this.” She peeled off the shoes and dropped them to the carpet.
“I may send him a picture.”
“And get me fired?”
Tuck headed across the room and she fell into step beside him.
“Nobody’s going to fire you,” he said.
“I was mistaken. And I’ve learned my lesson.”
“Jamison was about to fire me. Dixon’s the only one who hasn’t wanted to send me packing.”
“What do you mean Jamison was about to fire you?”
“When he had his heart attack,” she admitted. “When I wouldn’t tell him anything about Dixon. I swear the next words out of his mouth would have been you’re fired.”
“But he had a heart attack instead.”
“I wasn’t glad,” she hastily told him, assailed by a wave of guilt. “I mean, even to save my job, I would never wish a heart attack on anyone. Maybe I should have told somebody. I guess that would have been you. Should I have told you? Or... Oh, no, do you think it was my fault?”
“Wow.” Tuck came to a stop in the hallway, canting his body to face her. “You just did a whole big thing there all by yourself.”
He seemed unusually tall, unusually imposing and unusually impressive.
“I really hadn’t given it enough thought before,” she said. “The man had a heart attack because I refused to help him. I’m not sure I deserve to keep my job.”
“My father had a heart attack because of one too many rib eyes, and a fondness for chocolate truffles and Cuban cigars. Don’t beat yourself up.” Tuck put his hand on the knob of a dark paneled door. “Are you ready?”
“I’m not sure I’m through feeling guilty.”
“Yes, you are. Of all the stressors in his life, you’d be ranked near the bottom. If you want to blame anyone, blame Dixon.”
“Dixon had to get away.”
“Yeah, yeah. We all know your opinion on that. Then, blame me. Or maybe blame Margaret. Keeping his affair a secret had to be stressful.”