A Bargain with the Boss - Page 9

Tuck took a padded Adirondack chair next to a leafy potted ficus. “Dad was terrified at the thought of me actually working at Tucker Transportation.”

“Then, I guess things didn’t work out so well for him, did they?”

“Are you making a joke about his heart attack?”

“I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. From Charlotte, our best guess is Dixon went on to either Miami or New Orleans. Anything you know of for him in either of those cities?”

Tuck racked his brain.

“A woman?” asked Jackson.

“He’s barely divorced from Kassandra.”

Jackson shot Tuck a look of incredulity.

“She was the one who cheated, not him. I doubt his head was anywhere near to dating again.”

“Well, we’re checking both cities, but so far he’s not using his credit cards or hitting any bank machines. And there’s no activity on his cell phone.”

Tuck sat back. “Does this strike you as bafflingly elaborate?”

“Your brother does not want to be found. The question is, why?”

“He doesn’t know about my dad,” said Tuck. “He doesn’t know he’s abandoned Tucker Transportation to me alone. If he did, he’d be here in a heartbeat.”

“Anything else going on in his life? Any chance he’s got an enemy, committed a crime, embezzled from the company?”

Tuck laughed at that. “Embezzle from himself? He’s got access to all the money he could ever want and then some.”

“An enemy, then. Anybody who might want to harm him? Maybe the guy who slept with Kassandra?”

“Dixon’s not afraid of Irwin Borba.”

“What, then?” asked Jackson.

“He said he needed a vacation.”

Tuck wanted to believe that was the simple answer. Because if Dixon was at a beach bar somewhere drinking rum punch and watching women in bikinis, he’d be back home soon. It had already been two weeks. Maybe Tuck just had to hang on a few more days without sinking any ships—either figuratively or literally—and he’d be off the hook. He sure hoped so.

“There’s a major trade show coming up in New York,” he told Jackson. “And we’re launching two new container ships in Antwerp next week. Surely he’ll return for that.”

“He’s expecting your dad will be there.” Jackson restlessly tapped his blunt fingers against his denim-covered knee.

That was true. Dixon would assume Jamison would represent the company in Antwerp.

“Have you checked his computer?” asked Jackson. “Maybe he’s got a personal email account you don’t know about.”

“Maybe.” Tuck wasn’t crazy about the idea of snooping into Dixon’s business, but things were getting desperate.

“Check his office computer,” said Jackson. “And check his laptop, his tablet, anything he didn’t take with him. It looks to me as though he’s traveling light.”

Tuck had to agree with that. “What’s he up to, switching transportation in two different cities?”

“He’s up to not being found. And he’s doing a damn good job of it. Any chance he’s got a secret life?”

“A secret life?”

“Doing things that he can’t tell anyone about. He does travel a lot. And he runs in some pretty influential circles.”

“Are you asking if my brother is a spy?”

Jackson’s shrug said it was possible.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past week, it’s that Dixon couldn’t have had time for anything but Tucker Transportation. You wouldn’t believe the amount of work that crosses his desk.”

“Don’t forget you’re doing your dad’s job, as well,” Jackson pointed out.

“Even accounting for that. I’m starting to wonder...”

Tuck wasn’t crazy about saying it out loud. But he had to wonder why they hadn’t asked for his help before now. Was he truly that inept?

“You’re a smart guy, too.” Jackson seemed to have guessed the direction of Tuck’s thoughts.

“I don’t know about that.”

“Well, I do. Your dad and Dixon, they probably got into a rhythm together early on. And you never seemed that interested in working at the company.”

“I tried.” Tuck couldn’t keep the defensiveness from his voice. “In the beginning, I tried. But I always seemed to be in the way. Dad definitely didn’t want me around. Dixon was his golden boy. After a while you get tired of always barging your way in.”

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