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Jayna searched Emmaline’s face for signs of sarcasm but couldn’t find any. “Thanks,” she said, still wary.

“I understand you’re competing in the Manutai Jubilee Merathlon. Was it your plan to put the prize money towards buying the park?”

Jayna was planning to put the Merathlon winnings towards her service foundation. She had no idea where money to buy the park would come from. She had only made the suggestion to see how Sid would react. She never actually expected him to agree.

Besides, a quarter-million dollars would barely make a dent. Still, if the employees were able to buy Realms of Neptune, they could resume holding service events in the park and Jayna’s foundation would be irrelevant.

“Yes,” she said. After issuing such a public challenge to Obsidian Hayes, she didn’t feel she had a choice.

Emmaline gave her an approving nod. “Sid has some business to conduct in Manutai during the Jubilee. If you’re interested, we’d love to have you fly out with us. That way you can save on airfare and put more money towards the purchase.”

“Wait, you want me to get the money?” Emmaline’s offer was totally unexpected, and Jayna grew wary. She narrowed her eyes and asked, “Is Sid trying to dump the park already?”

Emmaline laughed. “No, he isn’t trying to dump the park. And yes, we want you to get the money. But the truth is, Obsidian doesn’t know anything about running an amusement park. His reasons for buying Realms of Neptune are…complicated. But it’s different from anything he’s done before, and if the employees are able to buy the company and fix it themselves, that would free him up to do something he’s better at.”

The logic made sense to Jayna, though she still had her reservations. She had difficulty trusting anyone as wealthy as Sid.

Emmaline took a step closer and whispered conspiratorially, “Besides, I think he’d much rather sell the park to you than anyone else. You’ve really made an impression on him.”

Emmaline emphasized that last bit with a knowing grin that made Jayna’s heart skip a beat. She knew better than to make that kind of impression on a man, especially a rich handsome one like Sid. Fortunately, her ride to Manutai was already free, so there was no reason to accept Emmaline’s offer.

“That’s kind of you to invite me to fly with you to Manutai, but my boyfriend works for Van Dijk Zeewering, so I’ll be flying as his plus-one on the company shuttle.”

Emmaline’s eyes widened in surprise. “Wow, that is fortunate.” Then she shrugged. “Either way, we should get together while you’re on Manutai.” Emmaline made a flicking motion with her fingers, and the band on Jayna’s wrist buzzed. “Here’s my contact information. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”

Emmaline’s offer made her uncomfortable, but Jayna just smiled and said, “I will. Thanks.”

As Emmaline walked away, Jayna’s eyes drifted to Sid, and she wondered what would happen if she took Emmaline up on her offer.

But of course, she could never do that. She and Toren had a comfortable, safe relationship, and the fact that she even considered flying with Sid meant she couldn’t trust her judgment where he was concerned.

Chapter 7

Sid climbed into the plush leather interior of the sleek white sky limo and took his place next to Emmaline. The park’s wardrobe department had done a decent job drying their soaked clothes, and Sid’s team had returned their borrowed uniforms.

Emmaline was combing out her shoulder-length hair, and with each stroke of the comb, more of her hair changed from the chestnut brown she’d worn all day to a more typical electric blue.

Hazel sat across from them in the rear-facing seat, and all three were unusually quiet as the limo’s door silently closed. Apparently, the others didn’t quite know what to make of the night’s turn of events either.

With a soft whir of electric rotors, the sky limo lifted gently from the Realms of Neptune parking lot. Sid glanced at the line of park employees waiting to board the bus with the letters SAPP displayed prominently along the side. He caught a glimpse of bright red hair just as Jayna climbed through the door.

He let out a sigh and shook his head. She was an employee at one of his companies, and he had vowed never to make that mistake again. Yet his unexpected fascination with her had come on so strong, he struggled to suppress it.

He continued to look out the window until the shuttle was no longer visible, then turned his attention to his executive team. Hazel looked as solemn and confused as he felt. Emmaline appeared to be stifling a grin, and Sid worried she might have caught him staring.

The last thing he needed was for Emmaline to catch him showing interest in Jayna and then giving him a hard time about it, so he quickly thought of an excuse to justify his interest in the shuttle. “How many park employees live in housing provided by the SAPP?” he asked.

Hazel took a metal rod the size of a pencil, unrolled it into a thin, flat tablet, and swiped across the screen a few times. “Over half. The San Diego SAPP has re-purposed a retired cruise ship for guild housing. Employees from a number of parks and resorts along the coast live there.”

“Several employees I talked to said it was quite nice,” Emmaline said. “Should we fly over it on our way to the hotel?”

Emmaline fought against a grin, confirming that she’d noticed him paying attention to Jayna. She was teasing him.

Sid almost rejected the idea, not wanting to give Emmaline the satisfaction. But since he was the one who’d brought up the SAPP housing, it would be suspicious for him to decline such an obviously logical suggestion. “Sure,” he said, trying to keep his tone as light and neutral as possible.

Emmaline tapped on her tablet. The limo banked gently and changed direction.

There was more than a hint of frustration in Hazel’s voice when she asked, “Is this interest in the employees so we can figure out how to keep them from successfully buying the park?”