Stealing Serenity Banner, title in the center, raised, arms of a white man bound in white rope on the left, cherry blossoms on the right

Welcome to Stealing Serenity, a stand alone, erot­ic con­tem­po­rary M/M roman­tic sus­pense. This novel­la is releas­ing one scene/day (week­days) on the blog ahead of pub­li­ca­tion. All chap­ters will be avail­able for free until the book is pub­lished, then they’ll be removed. If you sim­ply can’t wait, the com­plete ebook is avail­able now on the web­store. Paperback and Subtle Cover alter­nate com­ing soon. Expected pub­li­ca­tion: July 5th

Chapter Three

July 18, Monday—7:00 a.m.

Gerard Photography, San Diego

Daniel was not wear­ing a more tai­lored suit because he was jeal­ous of the week­end atten­tion he imag­ined Kearin’s mod­el received. He was sim­ply show­ing Justin what his new role now as the com­pa­ny spokesman at pub­lic events would entail. Justin had to start look­ing the part. Kathy purred at him as they crossed in the break room.

Coffee in hand, he passed Kearin’s office to select a new project off the wall, but once he arrived Daniel remem­bered he already had two projects to pick from sit­ting on his desk.

He had to quit lying to him­self; it wasn’t good for busi­ness. He was here to preen in front of Kearin.

Daniel peeked into his office. Kearin bent over his desk, tap­ping his fin­ger with intent against the green drag­on­fly pho­to. He seemed on the verge of mak­ing a deci­sion he didn’t like.

Daniel leaned against the door jam. Okay, maybe he was jeal­ous. Maybe it most­ly had to do with men in ropes, men that should be Daniel. “Trouble with the project?”

Kearin looked up, down at the fold­er for a glance, then up at Daniel again. His focus trav­eled across Daniel’s chest and hips before set­tling back up at eye con­tact. Daniel tried not to gloat under the atten­tion. He knew the suit looked good. Kearin waved him in. “Close the door behind you.”

Daniel took a seat. He did­n’t want to look too eager. He wasn’t sup­posed to be thrilled with the temp­ta­tion Kearin posed. He also wasn’t sup­posed to know that Phillip Bonnet was look­ing to fill an emp­ty space in his per­son­al gallery with some­thing edgy. In the last few days, Daniel had read through every sin­gle email Kearin kept stored in his inbox—essentially the man’s to-do list. He knew exact­ly what projects Kearin was work­ing and the angles he had cho­sen. Daniel appre­ci­at­ed Kearin that much more with every piece of the man he uncov­ered. It was bor­der­ing on obses­sive. There was lov­ing your work and then there was things get­ting out of hand. Daniel couldn’t sep­a­rate need­ing to be can­vas to Kearin’s art from the busi­ness of get­ting into the man’s finan­cial his­to­ry to ver­i­fy the own­er of Serenity.

Damn, the lies he told him­self were get­ting thinner.

Have you done any mod­el­ing before?”

Daniel swore his heart stopped. Those were the exact words he want­ed to hear, but he didn’t expect them to hap­pen, which meant he had missed some­thing here. “No,” he said, but leaned for­ward to indi­cate he was open to the idea.

Kearin didn’t speak with­out try­ing to evoke a spe­cif­ic reac­tion; he was too orga­nized for that. Therefore, he would have been think­ing about ask­ing Daniel this ques­tion for a while, col­lect­ing a feel for when to ask it and how to get the even­tu­al answer he want­ed. His com­ments about leav­ing ear­ly, about anoth­er mod­el he had hopes for—both tests for Daniel’s desire. The dis­cus­sion about his angry blond model—a gauge of his inter­est in kink. Kearin knew the pho­tos didn’t fit before he ever brought Daniel into the room.

Kearin said, “This aes­thet­ic I’m going for. I think you’d have a knack for it.”

Daniel pushed a sly grin across his face, unfil­tered by masks, as he real­ized Kearin had been play­ing him from the begin­ning. A tin­gle of some­thing new, some­thing antic­i­pa­to­ry, ran through his skin. He, of all peo­ple, could appre­ci­ate a well-exe­cut­ed long game. Daniel had played men for over a year to steal their art and sculp­tures. Hell, he pre­ferred those cons that last­ed for months at a time, demand­ing every ounce of his grift­ing skill. Daniel sat back in the chair, grin­ning, and saw Kearin note the change. “You didn’t hire me for my busi­ness savvy,” he said. He wasn’t dis­ap­point­ed with this.

It was convenient.”

Kearin took no defense of his actions. Daniel felt his tem­per­a­ture spike. Lust burned through him, tear­ing up one side and down the oth­er. Kearin was an arro­gant son of a bitch, and his con­fi­dence was com­plete­ly jus­ti­fied. He’d nev­er seen any­thing hot­ter. “What did you want to ask me the day we met?”

Kearin slid a busi­ness card toward him. “Model for me.”

Not a ques­tion. Of course not. Kearin did­n’t ask per­mis­sion, he demand­ed per­fect com­pli­ance. Daniel want­ed to be devoured by him. He accept­ed the card. Kearin had writ­ten an address on the blank back side in neat script.

I work out of my per­son­al stu­dio. I’ll see you at six thirty.”

Tonight. Daniel’s chest tight­ened back up. Was he afraid or elat­ed? He couldn’t tell. Was he sup­posed to be con­fused about this?

Don’t wor­ry about lock­ing up tonight. I’ll ask Justin to han­dle it.”

Daniel latched onto that safe top­ic and felt him­self breathe. “He spoke to me ear­li­er. It sound­ed like he doesn’t have enough to cov­er a new suit for the gala.”

I’m not sur­prised. Our work here doesn’t make us wealthy.” Kearin swept his appre­cia­tive atten­tion down Daniel’s chest again. ”You have a dif­fer­ent situation.”

Did Kearin want him to attend the par­ty? That had­n’t sound­ed like an invi­ta­tion, but Daniel was feel­ing punchy enough to invite him­self. “I own one, but I’ll need the fit checked,” Daniel lied. Of course he didn’t own six suits in vary­ing lev­els of qual­i­ty and fit to cov­er any sit­u­a­tion. Nor did he have a Porsche stored in a lock­er for occa­sions when he real­ly need­ed to impress. He was Daniel, Associate Project Lead, noth­ing more.

Kearin unfold­ed his wal­let and slid a black cred­it card across the table. “Take Justin with you and have him prop­er­ly fit­ted. I’ll cov­er the rush to have it in time.”

Daniel accept­ed the cred­it card. Kearin retreat­ed before their fin­gers could touch. “I’ll make the appoint­ment,” Daniel said. He stood at Kearin’s nod and left the door open behind him.

Between Kearin’s desk and his own, Daniel lost con­trol of his breath­ing. He felt his hands shake and sat down heav­i­ly in his chair. Excitement, he decid­ed. And a lit­tle aston­ish­ment at his own dar­ing. He was going to be in Kearin’s ropes. The very idea had him at a loss. Now that he’d com­mit­ted to see­ing Kearin tonight, he could learn more. About Kearin, about erot­ic restraint—and damn if his cock didn’t like that idea—about the peace in bondage.

This wasn’t how a thief con­duct­ed busi­ness. He had to focus. This was a per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to get a look at Kearin’s files at home, maybe con­firm the own­er of Serenity. It was anoth­er step in his plan, noth­ing more. Daniel clenched his jaw and forced the shake out of his hands. Where was that inner still­ness when he need­ed it? He was on a job, one he’d planned for over a year. Gaining access to Kearin’s home was a huge step for­ward. He couldn’t wait.


His head shot up. Justin. He need­ed to calm down, get his breath­ing under con­trol. His eyes were too wide, lips part­ed too far. Justin’s pres­ence shouldn’t have sur­prised him like that.

Sorry, dude. Have you got a minute? I need to show you that gov­ern­ment form.”

Yeah. Yeah, sure.” Work. Philanthropy. Doing good. He need­ed to focus. He focused on Guene as he walked around the desk.

She called out across the office. “Kathy, you get that pho­to I sent?”

The leather strap? Yeah—”

Had Kearin ever used leather?

Will that work for you?”

I don’t know, needs to be like three inch­es wide—he likes to suck in a big breath when you buck­le it down.”

Did Kearin use buckles?

Does he have that much flexibility?”

Oh yeah. Don’t tight­en down and he’ll slide the sad­dle right under­neath him while you’re climb­ing up.”

Horses. They were dis­cussing hors­es, not… what was wrong with him? Daniel blinked. Justin. Government.

You’re work­ing on the vol­cano project, right?”

Yeah, this whole area is nation­al park, and the per­mis­sions form is just a mess. I want to make sure you know what you’re up against.”

Just nine more hours.