Ruined by the SEAL

By: Zoe York

She scrubbed the baseboards and the windowsills, all the places where dust had accumulated, until the room shone.

It was a beautiful room. Villa Sucre was a beautiful estate. Worthy of the protection of the Historical Society. Set aside her own selfish reasons for wanting the project to continue as planned, she also couldn’t let a group of American men stomp in and destroy a building rich with history and tradition.

She’d protect it from the big, bad, scary man and his so-called friends.

“Brute,” she muttered under her breath.

“You talking about me?”

She screamed and jumped in the air.

Mick chuckled behind her.

She whirled around and stabbed her finger at him. “That was mean.”

He arched one eyebrow as if to say, yeah? So? And that eyebrow of course brought her attention to his wet hair, spiky all over except for right in front, where it was longer and curled onto his forehead. The droplets that ran down his corded neck and onto his—

No. She didn’t care about how broad his shoulders were or where that water was heading next. “You’re dripping on the floor.”

“The morning maid failed to leave any towels,” he said dryly.

“Did you seriously expect hospitality?” She took a deep breath, ready to launch into a tirade about the gall of him, but then her gaze finally met his again—because fine, it had gotten stuck on his stupid shoulders after all—and realized he was laughing.

At her.

She growled. “That’s not funny.”

“It kind of was.” He let his own gaze linger on her face for a moment, then he looked past her. And the laugh lines disappeared. “What is that?”

She grinned. “My tent.”

“What is it doing here?”

Her smile got wider and she didn’t answer. This felt good. Hello, upper hand. Nice to make your acquaintance.

“Are you…staging some sort of sit-in?”

“That’s not how I’d describe it.” She crossed her arms, belatedly remembering she had a dirty wash rag in her hand. She tried not to flinch as the wet, filthy cloth hit the back of her arm. Ew.

“You have so much work to do this weekend that you can’t go home to sleep?”

Okay, maybe it was a sit-in. “Honestly, Mr. Frasier, I’m not sure I can trust you to be alone on the property.”

“I told you, call me Mick. What do you think I might do?”

She gave him an incredulous look, because really? “You’ve already admitted to messing with plumbing. We have a set schedule for tradespeople to come in and do work. You interfered with it once already today. How do I know you won’t sabotage something else? You clearly have the skills, although I’m sure they’re…amateur.”

He returned her glare of indignation with a slow, hooded look that she pretended didn’t affect her at all. “You haven’t even seen my handiwork.”

Ignoring the double entendre, she turned on her heel and dropped her washcloth in the bucket. “I don’t need to see whatever hackney workaround you’ve figured out. I have no doubt you’ve done your worst to the plumbing in the servant’s quarters.”

“It’s perfectly fine!”

She jerked her head around, glaring at him over her shoulder. “It’s not. Not perfectly fine, not funny, not anything. You don’t belong here, Mr. Frasier. You are a nuisance, and you need to stop interfering. Don’t. Touch. Anything. Else.”

“My. Name. Is. Mick. And maybe I’m helping.”

“More like you’re helping stall until your friend can show up and take this con to the next level.”

“Con?” He propped his hands on his hips. “You think I’m conning you?”

“The Parrys are ruthless business people.”

Something flickered in his gaze. He wanted to spit something back at her, but he was holding himself in check.

She tested that again. “I’m sure your friend doesn’t fall far from the matriarchal tree in that regard.”

Yep. Definitely didn’t like his friend being questioned.

The nervous tremor in her gut annoyed her. So what if he was loyal?

She’d known him for less than twenty-four hours, and Mick Frasier was definitely, absolutely, one hundred percent a threat to everything she’d worked toward for the last four years.

And if he managed to somehow still come off as a good guy—call me Mick, look at me worry about my friend, blah blah blah—that just meant he was good at what he did.

She wouldn’t fall for it. “Look, I don’t really care what your game is. The point is, I see right through you. And besides, it doesn’t matter. We’re well under way with our work, and there’s no stopping the project now.”

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