Title: AT ATTENTION
Series: Out of Uniform, book 2 (but stands alone well–different couple for each book)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: April 10, 2017
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Genre: Romance, Military romance, contemporary, age difference, may/december, SEALS
Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.
It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.
Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.
Book Two of the Out of Uniform series
This book is approximately 73,000 words
Thank you so much for having me! My newest release, AT ATTENTION, features one of my favorite May/December romance tropes—best friend’s little brother. And it also features a widowed Navy SEAL hero too. One of my absolute favorite moments in any book is the first kiss. There’s so much potential there, so much energy, so much longing built up. So I thought I would share Apollo and Dylan’s first kiss here as an exclusive excerpt! It’s longer than some excerpts, but I really wanted to share what’s happening around the kiss—sometimes those emotional beats are even more important than the meeting of the lips.
To Apollo’s surprise, Dylan didn’t enter the water, instead sitting right behind him on the pool deck, leg on either side of him. His leg hair rasped against Apollo’s sides, and all Apollo’s blood rushed south.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to rub your shoulders.” Dylan said like it was the most natural thing in the world.
“That’s not what’s injured.” Man, his voice was prim.
Dylan ignored him, settling his hands on either side of Apollo’s neck. “It’s not the same thing, but I’ve had enough sports injuries to know that everything hurts after a while as your body compensates. I pulled a hamstring last year, and I swear, my good leg ached almost as much as the injured one.”
“I don’t need a massage.” Apollo’s body betrayed him by sinking into Dylan’s touch. “Mmm phf.”
“Yeah, you totally do.” Dylan didn’t let up, digging his thumbs into Apollo’s tight traps. “And trust me, I’m probably not as good as what you’re used to, but I’m not terrible either.”
No, he certainly wasn’t terrible. And Apollo wasn’t really thinking about Neal’s practiced, almost clinical touch right then. Neal had always approached Apollo’s back flare-ups by going into health care professional mode, and his touch, while welcome, had usually had a certain detachment to it that Dylan’s lacked. There was a sensuousness to his movements—
No that’s all you reading into it. He’s just trying to be helpful. There was nothing overtly seductive about Dylan’s voice or his strong hands, which kneaded Apollo’s muscles but didn’t caress or linger.
“So how’d you get ‘not terrible’ at this?” Apollo asked to distract himself from how much he wanted the contact to linger. Dylan didn’t answer right away, thumbs digging into Apollo’s delts. “Fuck. Right there.”
“Yeah, you didn’t need this at all.” Dylan laughed. “I’m a nice guy with a thing for athletes. Plenty of sprains and strains and hard practices to recover from. And I picked some stuff up from the team trainers too.”
“Athletes?” Apollo couldn’t keep the surprise from his voice. “Not…”
“You know, contrary to the impression I gave you eight years ago, my type isn’t really too-old-for me bad boys.”
Damn. Apollo tensed, wanting to evict that traitorous thought from his brain. No, he didn’t care if Dylan’s tastes had morphed from macking on his brother’s friends to jock boys.
“But I did have this…thing with one of the trainers my junior year.” Dylan laughed.
“Why’d it end?” Apollo stretched to meet Dylan’s touch, drawing this conversation out just to keep his hands on him.
“We had differing definitions of exclusive. Like I said, I’m better as a boyfriend than someone’s hook-up on the side.”
“Good for you. Stand up for…oh. There.”
“Yeah?” Dylan’s voice seemed deeper, but that might have been Apollo’s overheated brain. “Want me to go lower?”
Yes, yes, yes, Apollo’s dick volunteered. He means your back, horn dog. And as much as logic told him to end this pleasant interlude, his sore muscles answered for him. “Okay.”
Apollo moved to sit on a higher step so that he was still lower than Dylan but more of his back was exposed. He twisted so that he could point on his back. “Here. Not here or here.”
“So avoid the scar essentially?” Dylan’s touch was more tentative now. “I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it, but man. You are one lucky guy to be able to still walk, let alone get back to active duty.”
“It’s not that big of a deal.” Apollo wrenched away, not wanting to be inspected like some sort of medical freak show.
“Chill.” Dylan scooted closer, stroking Apollo’s flank like he might gentle a horse. “Just tell me if I’m about to make things worse.”
Just being here like this is making it worse. It was the truth—they were walking a knife edge between casual friendship and…something else, something Apollo refused to name. All of a sudden, he was all too aware that this was the first time another man had really touched him since Neal. And these exploratory, cautious touches were very un-Neal-like. Dylan ran his knuckles down Apollo’s spine, making Apollo shiver. There was something unbelievably sexy about Dylan’s hesitance, and Apollo’s cock stirred.
No. “Yeah,” he said, voice too gruff. He needed to end this, but then Dylan found a knot of nerve-endings that seemed to have been waiting for his thumbs, and Apollo gasped from how damn good it felt. His head fell back, connecting with Dylan’s shoulder. His eyes fluttered open to find Dylan’s summer sky eyes right there, watching him. Waiting for him.
Fuck. His face was so close that his warm breath tickled Apollo’s cheek. “This good?”
He continued to work that spot, and Apollo moaned, low and lusty.
No. Not lusty. No lusting. This is—
Dylan. Dylan, who was right there. Did he arch up? Did Dylan bend forward? Such questions flittered away as soft lips grazed his mouth. And oh holy fuck, Apollo needed this every bit as much as he’d needed those hands on him. His tongue snaked out, tracing the seam of Dylan’s lips, desperate for a taste.
“Oh.” Just that single, soft surprised sound from Dylan cut through his fog. What the fuck was he doing? Kissing Dustin’s little brother? Kissing someone not Neal? That last one made his throat burn as he pulled away. Fucking thinking with your dick, idiot. He didn’t get to have trysts with the babysitter while Neal was…not here. Not ever going to be here again.
It was all too much for him. “We can’t do this.” Pulling away, he stood. And yeah, he was hard, and Dylan probably wasn’t going to miss that, but fuck. He couldn’t stay in that tub another minute.
“Wait. Let’s talk—” Dylan stood too.
“No talking.” Apollo buried his face in a towel. His ring caught on a loose thread, sending a jolt of guilt straight to his heart. He was the worst kind of idiot, letting this happen.
“It was just a kiss. Doesn’t have to mean anything—”
“It didn’t,” Apollo said far too curtly, but his chest felt cracked open and hell if he could moderate his tone.
“Well, okay then.” Dylan’s voice was sharp as he stepped around him. “I just don’t want things to be weird.”
“They won’t be,” Apollo lied.
“Of course they will be.” Dylan’s laugh was like bitter taffy. Sweet with a bite. “I’m just saying. We’re both adults. There’s no reason we couldn’t—”
“We are never going there.” Apollo cut that argument off before Dylan could convince him to be stupid. “Again. Ever. Am I clear?”
“You. Kissed. Me.” Dylan poked him in the chest, clearly not going to let him have the fantasy where Dylan had been the one to close the gap. “But, sure, lecture away if that makes you feel better.”
“Sorry.” Apollo knew he was being a dick. “I just don’t want to lead you on—”
“Oh, trust me, there’s no risk of that.” Dylan shook his head. “Night, Apollo.”
Dylan headed back into the house, leaving him standing there. Apollo watched him, stood there until the second-story window to Dylan’s room lit up, leaving him all alone in the dark, dripping wet, impervious to the cool night air thanks to super-heated kisses that were not meant to be.
Review by Barb:
Good heavens! This was an awesome story. And I don’t know what I loved best about it. There’s just too much to choose from. Was it the main characters themselves? Or was it the visit with some of the characters from the Gaymers series? Or perhaps the unbelievably heated sex scenes? Um, can you say mirror sex?
Maybe it was Apollo’s cute twin daughters? His backstory of a love lost to sudden death? His worries about the age gap between him and Dylan, who he first met when Dylan was a young teen? Or simply the author’s writing style—one that I’ve become very familiar with this past year as she rocketed to the top of my reading list?
Suffice it to say, this was a really enjoyable story about a former SEAL team leader who’s now assigned to training in tactical maneuvers instead of being out in front of the action. The main reason for that is an injury he suffered, but the secondary reason is dear to his heart—he’s solely responsible for raising his twin daughters due to the sudden death of his husband a few years before. He has help from his mother and his former mothers-in-law, but this summer, he needs to hire a sitter since his mom is finally taking the trip of her dreams. When the younger brother of his best friend is suggested, he’s reluctant to take on the kid who followed him everywhere eight years before, and when he sees what Dylan looks like now, he’s even more reluctant—but only because the young man is eye-popping gorgeous.
Apollo’s reluctance and Dylan’s work ethic and interactions with Apollo’s girls, create a tug of war between the two men before they finally yield to temptation and decide to just have sex with no relationship. None. No matter what. Or at least that’s what they try. Watching them work out their own personal solution makes this story great. And by the way, by the end of the book, I had a warm and fuzzy place in my heart for these guys and a big smile on my face.
All I can really say is read the reviews, if you are cautious, or simply take the leap of faith if you are not. This story is extra special and sure to be at the top of your list of favorites.
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Meet the Author
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
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