Ruined by the SEAL

By: Zoe York

“We don’t mind,” Arielle said softly.

“Yes we do,” Daphne said, not softly at all. “And not because it hurts us, you dork, but because something’s clearly wrong and you aren’t sharing.”

She thought about telling them about the unexpected visitor to the estate. They’d heard all about her drama getting the board to agree to the renovation project.

So why didn’t she want to tell them about this new hiccup? They’d have her back if it turned into a fight, and God knows, with the board of directors, she could always use a couple of allies, even if it was just for moral support.

They were all in the same boat, after all. All young and just getting started in their careers. Kind of broke and two bad luck breaks away from needing to leave the island in search of a better opportunity elsewhere.

But Arielle’s father had recently disappeared, so she had that drama going on. It wasn’t the first time and it probably wouldn’t be the last, but that didn’t change how scary it was for her friend. And Daphne was job hunting in between pulling bartending shifts at the fanciest resort in Petite Ciotat and fending off pervy tourists. Compared to their problems, Cara having to put up with a sexy beast arriving on her doorstep hardly sounded like a real problem.

Sexy beast? What the ever-loving hell? No. He was…tall. Too tall. Bossy. Way too bossy. And incredibly off-putting.

If he was also incredibly good-looking, that just added to the annoyance, because why weren’t good-looking guys like that ever nice?

“You know what’s wrong?” she finally said, setting her jaw in determination. This would be a lie of omission, sort of, but it was really at the root of her frustration. Not a violation of the friendship trust that expected honesty. “I don’t think the board of directors takes me seriously.”

Daphne groaned. “Still?”

Would they ever? She sighed and stabbed her fish with her fork. “Right? It makes everything I do fraught with doubt, you know?”

Daphne shook her head, her blonde shaggy bob swinging wildly as she crossed her arms. “No! We talked about this. You rock at your job. And they need you. They just want you to think that you need them more than they need you. But that’s not true.”

“It is true. I need them to keep me employed so I can pay rent and keep going out for fun dinners with you guys.”

“This isn’t that fun,” Daphne said dryly. Unlike Arielle and Cara, Daphne didn’t have the lilting island accent. She’d been born and raised in the States and moved to Miralinda a few years earlier, right around the same time Cara came back after going off-island for university.

They’d met through Arielle—Cara’s childhood best friend, and Daphne’s new roommate. An instant three-way friendship was formed over coffee one morning as they shared hard-luck stories.

“You’re right,” Cara said, laughing for the first time in what felt like days. “I should move off island and get a real job. Find some real friends and—” She shrieked as Arielle launched herself around the corner of the table and squeezed her tight.

“Don’t you dare,” her best friend whispered.

She wouldn’t. Ever, because she loved Miralinda. But especially not now. Not while Arielle needed her. “You’re stuck with me,” she whispered into the smooth, straight fall of Arielle’s black hair.

They were so different looking, but as they held each other, Cara was reminded that Arielle and her were the same from the inside out. They both carried in their blood the mosaic DNA almost unique to the Caribbean—a little of this, a little of that, a lot of the heart and soul that came from the sea and mixed it all together.

Where Cara’s parents went back generations to ancestors in North African slaves, French colonists, American pirates, all colliding here on Miralinda before the turn of the last century, Arielle’s mixed heritage was…fresher. Her mother hadn’t been an island girl. She’d come to the Caribbean as a poor nanny from the Philippines, working for a British ex-pat family. When she’d fallen for a local bad boy, and “gotten into trouble,” the Brits had left her behind.

Arielle was six when her mother took her own life.

Cara’s parents hadn’t had a lot—her father had been a fisherman, her mother cleaned rooms at a resort. But what they did have, they shared readily with their widowed neighbour and his grieving daughter.

And when Cara’s father was killed in a car accident when she was sixteen, Arielle and her father repaid the kindness.

They were family.

She wasn’t going anywhere.

But that didn’t mean that her job was safe. With Mick Frasier’s arrival, her job was anything but safe.

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