Tuck had given that revelation a lot of thought these past few days. It didn’t change anything, but it did boost his confidence. He hadn’t earned his father’s disdain. It had been there all along.
“You said I knew,” he said to Dixon. “Why did you think I knew?”
“Because of that night when we overheard.”
“In the sitting room, listening at the air vent.”
“We did that all the time.”
Many nights, after their nanny had put them to bed, they’d sneak out of their room and listen to conversations going on downstairs. Usually they’d do it during parties, but they’d listened in on plenty of their parents’ conversations, as well.
“They had a huge shouting match,” said Dixon. “Dad accused her of fooling around. She denied it at first, but then admitted it. He said you had someone named Robert’s hair and eyes.”
Tuck sifted through his brain, but that particular fight didn’t stand out. “I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember learning you might have a different father?”
“I must not have understood. How old was I?”
“Young,” Dixon answered thoughtfully. “I said ‘wow,’ and you said ‘wow’ back. And I thought you got the meaning.”
“I can only guess it went right over my head.”
“Wow,” said Dixon.
“I’m not going back to the way things were,” said Tuck.
For some reason, the path forward crystalized inside his mind.
“Our father can like it or not,” he continued. “But it’s my company, too. I’m every bit as much his son as you are. I’m not going to be some token partner afraid of voicing my opinion. I’m going to fight you. I’m going to fight hard for what I know is right. Zachary is gone. He stays gone. Harvey, too. Amber...” He hadn’t thought his way through what to do about Amber.
“Amber’s great,” said Dixon.
Tuck looked up sharply. He didn’t like the tone of his brother’s voice, and he didn’t like the expression on Dixon’s face. “You stay away from Amber.”
“I will not. She’s my assistant.”
“And that’s all she is.”
“That’s far from all she is.”
Tuck found himself coming to his feet. “You better explain that statement.”
“Explain it how?”
Tuck’s voice rose. “What else is she? What is Amber to you? She won’t date her boss. She can’t date her boss. She would be supremely stupid to date her boss.”
“Because it’ll end badly for her. That sort of thing always does.”
“So you didn’t date her?”
“No, I didn’t date her.” Tuck would have dated her. But she’d said no. And she was right to say no.
“And you didn’t sleep with her.”
“What?” Tuck glared at his brother.
“You’re acting pretty jealous for a guy who never dated her.”
“I care about her, okay? Sure, I care about her. She’s a nice woman. She’s a fantastic woman. She’s been through a lot, and now she’s taking care of her sister. She does that. She takes care of people. She didn’t like me, but she helped me anyway. And the whole time you were gone, she had nothing but your best interests at heart.”
“She’s loyal,” said Dixon. “You’ve said that before.”
“She is, to her detriment at times.”
“Well, for a woman who’s supposedly incredibly loyal to me, she sure talks a lot about you.”
The statement took Tuck aback. “She does?”
“Almost as much as you talk about her.”
“Give it up, Tuck. You’re obsessed with her.”
“I like her. What’s not to like?”
“You think she’s pretty?”
Tuck could barely believe the stupidity of the question. “That’s obvious to anybody with a set of eyes.”
“You think she’s hot?”
“Have you seen her shoes?”
“The... You know.” Tuck pointed to his feet. “The straps and the heels and the rhinestones and things.”
“There’s something wrong with you, man.”
“Why didn’t you date her?” Dixon asked.