I'd try creating a "laravel" folder under www.example.com (ie not inside the public directory), and put everything but the public directory there. Then place index.php at public/api/index.php and change the paths in that file, from "../bootstrap/" to "../../laravel/bootstrap/". That way laravel would only trigger to /api/ calls, and the core is outside of the www-root.
EDIT: Probably need to change the public path in bootstrap/paths.php too.
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