“Get some rest. Take a shower.”
“I don’t need to rest.”
“Yes, you do.”
“I can drop you,” said Tuck.
“I have my car.” She stood to hand the baby to Jade. “Okay, but I’m coming back.”
“I would hope so.”
Tuck started for the corridor to find a nurse.
Amber’s voice followed him. “Goodbye, sweetheart.”
He knew she was talking to the baby, but he loved the word anyway.
He located a nurse and then met Amber in the hallway.
“You look exhausted.”
“I am so relieved.” She pulled off the gown, revealing last night’s dress. “Her heart actually stopped.”
Tuck automatically reached for Amber, pulling her to him. “How can I help?”
“I’m fine. I was terrified, but I’m fine now.”
“Let me take you home.”
“There’s no need.”
“It’ll make me feel better. I need to do something useful.”
“You’re very useful. You signed up four new accounts last night.”
“I mean useful to you.”
“You’re keeping the company afloat, keeping me in a job, helping me pay my bills.”
Tuck drew back, a bolt of comprehension lighting up his brain. “Twenty-eight thousand, two hundred and sixty-three dollars.”
“Jade was already in the hospital when you came back. That was the amount on her bill. You asked for a signing bonus. You agreed to help me. You did it all because of her.”
He could tell by Amber’s expression that he’d hit the nail on the head. Then he wondered what else she’d done because of her sister.
He backed off. “Is that why you’re helping me with the company?”
“In part, yes. I need a job right now, Tuck. More than I’ve ever needed a job in my life.”
He loosened his hold on her and drew back. “And the rest?”
Her expression narrowed. “The rest is the rest.” She didn’t elaborate and he didn’t jump in. “I hope you’re not asking if I slept with you to protect my job and support my sister.”
He was. No, he wasn’t. He wasn’t, but he couldn’t help but worry that her behavior with him was laced with complexities.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said.
“Don’t worry about what?”
“I’m going home to change.” She glanced down at her dress. “I look ridiculous. I’ll see you at the office tomorrow.”
She tossed the hospital gown in a nearby bin and turned for the elevators.
He wanted to call her back. He needed to understand where she was coming from, what she was feeling for him, what last night had meant to her. But he couldn’t let himself be selfish again. She’d had a rough night. Jade needed her. And Tuck was simply going to have to wait to find out where he stood among everything else in Amber’s life.
* * *
They might have spent the night together...well, half the night together. But everything Amber knew about Tuck remained true. No matter how tempting it was to let him drive her home and comfort her, she couldn’t let herself pretend they were in a relationship. He was her boss, not her boyfriend. At best, they were having a fling. At worst, she was a two-night stand.
She had Jade and she had her new niece, Crystal. They were her family, her personal life, her emotional support. It wasn’t Tuck.
In the office Monday morning, she steeled herself to see him. She dropped her purse into her desk drawer and plunked down on her chair. She told herself they’d worked the party together like a practiced team, picking up on each other’s cues, making clients laugh and agree and, most important, closing the deal.
That had to be enough. It was going to be enough. She scrunched her eyes shut and gritted her teeth. She wasn’t going to allow herself to want more.
“Good morning, Amber.” Dixon’s voice nearly startled her out of her chair.
“Dixon?” she squeaked, her eyes popping open.
He looked tanned and toned and totally relaxed.
“I’m back,” he said simply.
Dixon wasn’t the hugging type, so she didn’t jump up to embrace him.
His smile faded. “I heard about my dad. I flew straight to Boston yesterday and then I came here.”
“Welcome back.” She was happy to see him.