Authors: Zoe York
Tags: #Military Romance, #SEAL, #romance series
ABOUT THIS SERIES
— SEALS UNDONE —
The SEALs Undone series started with the story you’re about to read, Fall Out. I wrote this for the first SEALS OF SUMMER military romance superbundle in early 2014. It was my first foray into military romance.
I named this series
because that’s exactly what happens. Big, tough Navy SEALs are undone by the women they fall hard for. These
stories are light on conflict, big on romance, and short enough to read in a single night.
I hope you enjoy!
Fall Out — Drew & Annie
Fall Hard — Jared & Cassie
Fall Away — Trick & Gaby
Fall Deep — Miles & Piper
Fall Fast — Nathan & Emme
Fall Back — Cade & Mel
Fall Dark — Vince & Larken
a SEALS UNDONE novella
— FALL OUT —
Drew Castle is a Navy SEAL with a bad case of indifference. Until Annie Martin shows up on his doorstep, scared out of her mind, and all of a sudden, keeping her safe becomes the most important mission of his life.
And this time, he’s on his own.
The SEALs Undone Series
Fall Out - Drew and Annie
Fall Hard - Jared and Cassie
Fall Away - Trick and Gaby
Fall Deep -
Miles and Piper
Fall Fast - Nathan and Emme
Fall Back - Cade and Mel
Fall Dark - Vince and Larken
— ONE —
Training at dawn was easier on the east coast. The slap of sand under his feet, the salt in the air, men all around him...that was the same. But Drew missed the sunrise. Eventually it would make an appearance, climbing over San Diego, lazily providing absolutely no inspiration to drive hard at the end of the run.
He missed Virginia. Early to bed, early to rise. That was the east
coast way. But after completing his time at the Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, he’d been given the choice, and for reasons he still couldn’t understand, he’d chosen the west coast.
It wasn’t that he hated California. Drew was far too disciplined to spend that kind of energy on what was just a place. Places held no meaning. It was what you did there. Who you saved. Sometimes, who you killed.
Maybe he was getting too old for this shit. All around him, young hotheads made it look easy. Novak and Dumbrowski, third-generation Americans who still got saddled with the Polish jokes, were at the front of the pack. He saw a lot of himself in Novak. A lot of Kevin in Dumbrowski. Coming out here didn’t get him away from any ghosts. If anything, breathing in the Pacific Ocean every morning
kept a part of his best friend alive inside him.
Kevin. Losing a team member was an understood risk of the job, and over the years, everyone had experienced it. But he hadn’t been the same since he dragged Kevin onto that helo thirteen months ago, knowing that it was too late to save anything other than his body. They’d been more than team members. They survived BUD/S together. Brothers from
another mother, they used to joke, even though it hit a little close to the truth. Kevin had been the closest thing to a family Drew had.
Sixteen years. That motherfucker stayed alive through firefights, infiltrations, recon missions and more than one long weekend in Miami. And got shot in the back when they thought they were done the job. Fucking fate.
Drew didn’t have PTSD. He’d passed his
psych eval with flying colors, and he’d been pretty honest with the docs. Not completely honest. There were some dark corners of every SEAL’s mind that one learned never to share. But compared to some of the bullshitting that happened in that chair...he was mentally fit for the job. But did he still have the necessary drive?
He just didn’t care about
. And if it was anyone else, he’d
counsel them to think about walking away. Because without that fiery urge to conquer, he wasn’t useful to the team.
That was a terrifying thought.
Not just for himself, although he really had no idea what he’d do if he retired early. But also for the mission. Missions. They were at war, quietly and unendingly, and leaving that fight to others just didn’t seem right, especially when he was still
In front of him, Novak kicked it into high gear. The pull-up bars, their informal finish line, were in sight and Drew shook off his thoughts. He’d missed the moment when he could have left the younger guys in his dust, but he was going to stay with them. At least for today.
“Hoo-ya.” One by one, they pushed hard to the end. Dumbrowski launched himself into the air and held
himself from the horizontal rail for a moment, then lowered his body in a controlled fashion.
“Show off,” Drew muttered.
“Shut up, Castle, you can kick my ass if you want to.”
“Fucking right, and don’t you forget it.”
“We’re hitting a club tonight, you wanna come with?”
He could. He probably should, he didn’t socialize enough with his men. But he wouldn’t. “Nah, but thanks. Maybe another
Fun was something he’d also left behind in Virginia. Kevin had always raved about the girls out here, and Drew couldn’t deny there was something about the sun-washed hair and bikini-ready bodies that revved a guy up. He’d even enjoyed a bit of casual revving with a bartender he’d met while being surly. But he’d just bring the party down, and his guys didn’t need that.
They hit the showers
and changed into uniform. Just another day at work, with meetings and managing officers. What Drew wouldn’t do for a deployment right about now. Nothing like a well-planned attack to take your mind off meaningless shit like feelings.
By the end of the day, he was ready for an omelet, a video game and bed. He stopped at the grocery store—he was constantly running out of eggs. In Virginia, he’d
lived with two other guys. Apparently, the only thing he missed about having roommates was their quiet support of his omelet addiction. On the other hand, no one groused if he played Metal Gear Solid for three hours straight, which was a win in his books.
He let himself into his apartment building and set his bag of groceries down on the floor so he could check the mail. His phone chirped in
his pocket—Dana, the bartender, wanted to know if he’d be up for a late night visit when she finished work. His dick twitched yes, so he responded affirmatively, and jogged up the stairs.
Grub, game, girl.
It was what passed as a rollicking good time in Castleland lately, and he wasn’t too twisted not to appreciate that he still had it pretty good. If Kevin were alive, he’d kick Drew’s ass
for not living every day to the fullest.
I’m trying, asshole.
Try harder, dickhead.
In the shower, he leisurely stroked his cock, looking forward to the midnight booty call. Dana liked guys in uniform. She was a part-time student, with plans to move to Europe the following year. Zero questions about commitment, and a wicked mouth. Given that he had absolutely no emotional ability to be a boyfriend
right now, their occasional arrangement was perfect.
You should go to Europe with her.
It really annoyed him that Kevin talked to him.
I’m not really talking to you. It’s your misplaced guilt or something.
“Tell me something I don’t know, asshole.” He pulled on a pair of workout shorts, turned on the TV for some background noise, and made quick work of a mushroom and cheese omelet.
a knock sounded at the door two hours later Drew winced at the timing, and hit pause on his game. Maybe she’d cuddle up with him while he finished the level.
Okay, maybe she’s not the girl to throw your career away over
. Definitely not if he wasn’t sure who he wanted more, Dana or the big boss.
But it wasn’t the pretty bartender on his doorstep. A beautiful brunette stood in her place, a woman
with whom he shared a special and tragic connection. All other thoughts fled his mind as he tried to process why she was in front of him. “Andrea?”
Kevin’s younger sister stared back at him as he stood there, blinking, and he realized he was being rude. “Come in. How did you...”
“Some guy held the door for me.” She followed him into the apartment, her arms twisted together in front of her body.
“I’m sorry for showing up unannounced. I took a chance that you were around.”
He took in her jeans and blazer, her polished boots and careful jewelry. She hadn’t made the drive south from L.A. for a casual visit. He grabbed a hoodie he’d left on a barstool at the kitchen counter and tossed it on, all of a sudden feeling underdressed for whatever conversation they were about to have. “It’s no
trouble, I’m glad you caught me. What’s going on?”
She let out a nervous laugh. “You’re going to think I’m nuts.”
He shook his head. “Promise I won’t.”
She pulled out her phone, pressed a few buttons, and passed it over, her hand shaking. “Press the star button to listen to this message.”
Kevin’s voice filled his ear, for real this time. “Andrea, it’s me. It’s really me, and I need your help.
It’s about—” his voice broke up in a rough electronic crackle, then warbled back to life “—so I’ve set up a private email address we can use to communicate back and forth. The password is our first pet’s name. You’ll remember that, won’t you? I miss you so much.”
Drew fisted the phone tightly in his hand, the urge to pitch it against the wall almost overwhelming. He took a deep breath and turned
his back to Andrea for a moment.
Her voice was watery and small as she spoke behind him. “It’s not him.”
His shoulders sagged with relief that he wouldn’t have to explain that to her. He turned around. He didn’t know her very well. They’d only met a handful of times. Easter one year, when she was still a teenager. Her parents’ funeral, an overnight stay with Kevin a year later on their way to
Hawaii, and then again at Kevin’s funeral. But his best friend had talked about her enough that he had a picture of who she was. Smart, analytical, but also a dreamer. A romantic and an optimist, with a tidy, uncomplicated life.
Drew’s total opposite. He was glad he didn’t need to drag her into the dark recesses of his mind where he could too easily imagine where that kind of twisted message
came from, but he hated that she figured it out on her own. Clever girl.
But right now, standing in front of him, she just looked scared, and he was reminded that her uncomplicated world was built on a foundation of loss. And now her cage had been rattled.
. He wanted to make that go away for her, protect whatever was left of her innocence. “No, it’s not. Andrea...”
“It’s Annie,” she
whispered. “No one in my family called me Andrea. Ever.”
The cruelty of that mistake in the faked message twisted his gut. “I’m sorry you had to hear his voice like that, in a sick joke.”
“Is it just a joke?” She cleared her throat. “I have some money. Life insurance from my parents, Kevin. The house.”
“Whoever did this didn’t ask for money.”
She furrowed her brow, her eyes still wide and
scared. “Don’t you think that’s the next step? A fake ransom demand?”
Yeah, probably. “Have you called the police?”
“No, I heard the message, got in my car and drove here. I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t home. Maybe gone to the base? I’m terrified to make a wrong move here.” She looked at the phone in his hand. “That didn’t feel like a joke. Or a fake kidnapping, to be honest.
It felt like a threat, but I can’t imagine to what end.”