Ruined by the SEAL

By: Zoe York

“What the hell are you doing beyond fixing it up?” Now he though it was his turn to glare at her?

She huffed. “We’ve commissioned an architect to modify the parts of the building that can’t be restored in a historically appropriate way.”

His eyes narrowed. “We'll happily take over that commission and have him redraw the plans to our specifications."

Don’t ask, don’t ask, don’t ask… She couldn’t help herself. She braced herself and asked, “What kind of specifications?"

"A gun range. Weapons vaults. An obstacle course. The usual."

Oh, sweet mother of God. It was worse than she’d suspected. They were going to destroy the estate. “The usual?”

He leaned in close, probably to make sure she wouldn’t miss just how serious he was. “That’s just the start of it.”

Her nose twitched uncontrollably and she could feel her cheeks turning what was probably an embarrassing shade of red. “This is a historic building and you can’t just—”

“Oh, but I can.” He stepped back and squared his shoulders again. The man was disturbingly geometric. Human beings shouldn’t have that many angles. Or that much confidence. “It might be old, but it’s not protected, right?”

Well, no, it wasn’t…but that wasn’t how the island did things. And… She narrowed her eyes at him. “You don’t know that.”

His expression gave nothing away.

That was enough of a tell. She swallowed hard and lied. “We’ve begun the process to protect this as a historic site. You’re too late.”

A twitch. Just one, right above his right eyebrow. He doubted himself. Good.

“There’s nothing historic about this monstrosity.” He ground out the words from between tightly gritted teeth.

“Now you’re pretending that it’s a monstrosity?”

“I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours, here, sweetheart. I know just exactly how run-down it is.”

“It’s not—”

“Until thirty minutes ago, when you set up your ridiculous little tent, it had sat unoccupied for more than ten years. It’s full of more rats and birds than I can shake my fist at, and no exterminator could fix that. We’re going to need to rip everything back to the studs anyway, so we might as well keep going and knock out a few walls.”


MICK COULD TELL THAT EVERY WORD OF HIS LAST SENTENCE landed squarely. Cara’s eyes got wider and wider, and then snapped shut, like she didn’t want to hear anymore.

He ignored the visible tremor in her cheek and the wobble of her full lower lip. She was a distraction, nothing more, and he wouldn’t let her bother him another minute.

He took one last grim look at her ridiculous tent and offered a platitude he almost definitely didn’t mean. “If you need me, I’ll be in my quarters.”

“They’re not your quarters. And I’m not going to need you,” she hollered as he strolled out of the ballroom.

She would, though, if she hung around long enough. The only running water was in his bathroom. Now that she was staking her ridiculous claim in the middle of the ballroom, he’d have to play hardball.

Which was a shame, because when she wasn’t yelling at him, Cara was…interesting. Smart. Pretty, too. Definitely someone he’d be happy to share a shower with.

But no hot water for her.

She wanted a fight? He’d give her one.

The tiny little historian with the crazy curls and flashing eyes had no idea who she was messing with.



So he spent his second twenty-four hours on Miralinda watching a beautiful woman through the windows of her house. Sort of. It might be his house. Or his-adjacent. His by proxy.

She always changed inside the tent, so it was pretty PG-13 as far as perving went.

But it was still stalker-esque. And no good intel came from it. She actually spent her Saturday night and Sunday morning working, as she claimed. She moved through the rooms, cataloguing the dilapidated furniture and referencing a clipboard with only God knew what other information on it.

If he were in her shoes, it would be a list of everything that should get tossed on a bonfire. Starting with the few remaining pieces of furniture, which surely housed families of mice, and including all the interior walls, because they only looked lovely if one squinted.

Or if one were overly affected by nostalgia.

She had a computer set up in one of the upstairs rooms, and when she left for an hour on Sunday afternoon, he snuck in and checked it out.

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