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

July 18, Monday—6:07 p.m.

428 Magnolia Ln, Seaside Court

Gated Community, National City

How long did a pho­to shoot like this usu­al­ly take? Daniel straight­ened his shirt and rang the door­bell before the antic­i­pa­tion could make him jittery.

Footsteps on the stairs. Kearin opened the door. “A lit­tle ear­ly. I like that.”

Daniel made that men­tal note while admir­ing Kearin’s fit­ted T‑shirt over tai­lored jeans. Neither left any­thing to ques­tion. Daniel thought Kearin’s suits had nice lines; they were like a fur coat com­pared to this cut fig­ure stand­ing here now. Daniel stepped inside, half dazed.

Shoes here, please.” Kearin indi­cat­ed an out-of-the-way rack. “And if you’ll fol­low, we can get start­ed right away.”

Daniel fol­lowed.

Up the stairs to the sec­ond land­ing where the long orange cat lounged on the back of a reclin­ing chair, a glimpse of a sparse chrome and glass kitchen, the library fur­nished in warm earth tones. Kearin ges­tured him up the sec­ond stair­case and to the right.

This room was warmer. He had a cam­era already set up on a tri­pod. Lights and reflec­tors had their own stands. Two coils of rope lay in the center.

All of a sud­den, this was very real. He’d vol­un­teered to be tied up. Photographed.


Daniel’s heart raced. He gulped a few breaths. The log­ic cen­ter of his brain kept throw­ing up flags: he was going to blow his cov­er. Kearin was going to have pho­tos. Didn’t he know any­thing about black­mail? The ani­mal heart in his chest insist­ed this was excit­ing and tore all the flags down. He didn’t know which to believe. It stalled him halfway to the rope and inde­ci­sion kept him there until Kearin approached on soft feet. He brought his hand to rest on Daniel’s low­er back. The touch was like fire. Daniel blew out a sud­den breath.

Don’t pan­ic now. We’ll start with just your shirt off and see how it feels. If you’re uncom­fort­able with any­thing, just say the word. Everything stops.”

Just the shirt. He could start with just the shirt. Daniel nod­ded, a jerk­ing motion, but couldn’t bring him­self to step for­ward. Kearin moved in front of him—Daniel’s two-inch deficit sud­den­ly stark—and put a thumb firm­ly on Daniel’s chin, fin­gers rest­ing against the length of Daniel’s neck. Daniel’s eyes flut­tered. He couldn’t stop it. All at once, Justin’s reluc­tance to talk to Kearin made sense. He’d said the man was intim­i­dat­ing; Daniel thought it was more like intense. He was every­where even though he only real­ly touched Daniel light­ly in a sin­gle spot. The very air felt heavy. Kearin’s touch did not com­pro­mise. It was so easy to know where one stood under his direc­tion. Daniel took a breath unex­pect­ed­ly mixed with the woody scent of Kearin’s lotion and opened his eyes.

Kearin grabbed his gaze. There was no oth­er word for his imme­di­ate demand of atten­tion. His dark eyes had a ring of bright hazel in the mid­dle that Daniel had nev­er noticed before. “Nothing in this room hap­pens with­out your con­sent. Understand?”

Daniel licked his lips. He whis­pered, “Yes, sir.”

Now where had that come from?

So close to him, locked on his eyes, Daniel saw Kearin’s pupils dilate with pleasure—wide, until there was only a bright cen­ter sur­round­ed by a thin hazel ring. Daniel lost him­self. He didn’t answer to any­one unless he need­ed to play a part for the job. He didn’t swoon at a man’s door. He didn’t bare his throat in sub­mis­sion. He cer­tain­ly didn’t whis­per “sir” like it was a rev­er­ent prayer.

And yet…

Pick a safe­word,” Kearin said soft­ly, his breath just a puff of air between them. Somehow inti­mate. “Something you will not say by accident.”

Venus.” Daniel named his favorite piece of sculpture.

Venus,” Kearin repeat­ed. “Take off your shirt.” Kearin’s voice was deep­er, a lit­tle tense.

It was sud­den­ly that easy. Daniel slipped his shirt over­head and fold­ed it on the stool Kearin indi­cat­ed. He stood among the rope and tried not to stare at the equip­ment. He looked at the floor. There were recessed rings in the wood. He looked up. Rings in the ceiling.

Kearin brought a small steplad­der. He climbed up with one of the ropes and fed it through a ring, took the time to mea­sure the lengths out even­ly. “Stand upright, hands over­head.” He said, “Legs a bit wider than your shoulders—good. Lace your fin­gers. A big fist.” His warm hand encir­cled Daniel’s two. “Hold right there…” He tied the rope on itself, an effi­cient knot exact­ly where Daniel’s hands came togeth­er. “Grab that. You can hang on to it.”

Daniel re-laced his fin­gers around the monkey’s fist. The rope didn’t stretch when he test­ed it with his weight.

Good.” Kearin stepped off the lad­der. “Relax your shoul­ders down. Make sure you can take a deep breath. Focus here.” He reached around and touched Daniel’s abdomen. “Breathe even and slow. With your arms up, it’s easy to short­en your breath—I don’t want to see that.”

Sir,” Daniel acknowl­edged. The easy way Kearin took com­mand reas­sured him. He didn’t have to know what he was doing here; Kearin would show him the way. He took a deep breath and it forced him to low­er his shoul­ders, expand his ribs. The ten­sion eased.

Then Kearin put his hot hands down on Daniel’s shoul­ders and squeezed. His fin­gers dug into mus­cle, work­ing the tight­ness out to the edges and away. He pushed his weight against Daniel, enforc­ing the sen­sa­tion of con­trol. It ground­ed him into space and time.

Daniel relaxed by degrees know­ing Kearin would move him as he liked. His breath deep­ened. Why had he been con­cerned about this again?

Kearin climbed back up the small stool to manip­u­late the pair of ropes hang­ing from the monkey’s fist in Daniel’s hands. He began weav­ing. The rope stayed loose around Daniel’s wrists at first, criss­cross­ing down his fore­arms and around his upper arms. Kearin stopped just between bicep and shoul­der. A mile of rope hung down Daniel’s stomach.

Daniel watched Kearin’s steady hands work the loose rope back up the weave he’d start­ed. Kearin tugged and tight­ened and wove straight up to Daniel’s wrists. There was still a bit of play, he could move if he want­ed, but Daniel was so fas­ci­nat­ed with this process he nev­er tried. Kearin was a master—it was easy to see in his knowl­edge of the knot­work, in the way he stroked Daniel’s arm as he pre­pared anoth­er bend in the rope to ready the skin for bind­ing. Daniel for­got him­self entirely.

Kearin guid­ed the cord back down the weave. He stitched the rope togeth­er with itself and tied a dec­o­ra­tive knot on alter­nat­ing sides as he worked. The ropes bound Daniel tight­ly now, a slow process from hands on down. It was rather like the method­i­cal tight­en­ing of laces of a tall pair of boots—if the laces ran the full length of his arms. The grad­ual process felt sim­i­lar, though the close inti­ma­cy of anoth­er per­son doing the tight­en­ing felt far dif­fer­ent. Kearin con­stant­ly checked the weave as he moved down­ward, cor­rect­ing any twist in the cord or fold that was less than ide­al. The rope smoothed along Daniel’s skin under Kearin’s con­fi­dent hands.


Daniel jumped. He real­ized he’d been hold­ing his breath. It was eas­i­er to feel the small pull of the rope that way. He couldn’t wait for the knot­work to be com­plete. He took a deep breath and let it out in a rush.

Kearin looked down at him, hands still thread­ing the rope by mem­o­ry and touch. “Doing okay?”

Yeah…” Daniel breathed, half sure he was dream­ing. Was this what seren­i­ty felt like? Things felt a lit­tle floaty.

The hands paused. Hazel-ringed eyes nar­rowed just a touch. “I’m sor­ry?” Kearin’s voice held a note of steel.

A fight-or-flight jolt of adren­a­line made Daniel tense. How could just two words do that to him? “Yes, sir,” Daniel cor­rect­ed himself.

Kearin’s eyes soft­ened, and he squeezed Daniel’s elbow. “Good.” He con­tin­ued weav­ing knots all the way down the rope. He tucked the now-short tails inside the weave where Daniel couldn’t see them and stood look­ing for a moment on the step stool. Daniel stared up the length of his own arms, at the ceil­ing and behind him, the from-below pro­file of Kearin’s steady expres­sion. The last set of pho­tos Kearin had shown him—the man fight­ing the ropes—they’d made him won­der. If it wasn’t Kearin who made the men relax, was it some­thing inside? Could Kearin see if Daniel had that thing?

Kearin’s hand passed over Daniel’s nose, between his bound arms, and land­ed on his chest. Daniel felt the hot brand of it as Kearin dragged it up his chest and throat. Daniel let his head fall back under the pres­sure, all the way back. He blinked at Kearin’s belt. Kearin paused with his fin­gers pressed under Daniel’s chin. “Don’t move,” he whispered.

Daniel swal­lowed.

Kearin’s touch drift­ed away. So did Kearin. Daniel heard him remove the stool. Heard him adjust the tripods around the space. Daniel breathed deeply and let his eyes close.

A shut­ter snapped. Another. Again.

Kearin had told him not to move, and Daniel found it easy to relax into this posi­tion, sup­port­ed from above and head back. Not unlike a basic yoga pose he used to retain his flex­i­bil­i­ty. He stood firm­ly on the hard­wood floor, and except for the slight stretch in his neck, it was almost com­fort­able enough to sleep like this.

How are you feel­ing?” Kearin’s hand touched Daniel’s bare shoulder.

Daniel reined his wan­der­ing thoughts in for a quick self-assess­ment and was sur­prised at the results. He licked his lips. “Good, sir. Calm.” The floaty feel­ing stuck around, and he liked how secure the ropes felt. He didn’t expend any ener­gy hold­ing his arms up—the ropes care­ful­ly held him instead.


Daniel tried to keep his breath even as Kearin dragged his hand down Daniel’s side. His arms couldn’t move, but he had to remem­ber to relax his shoul­ders when Kearin pressed firm­ly against Daniel’s ribcage. Blood flushed across Daniel’s chest. He gave up and pant­ed when Kearin’s hand trailed to the edges of Daniel’s jeans. The jeans had to go.

Daniel had nev­er felt arousal like this, curl­ing out of the cor­ners like a slow burn that echoed wher­ev­er Kearin touched him. It per­me­at­ed the light float­ing feel­ing and brought him back to ground, but it was a ground with pur­pose now. Daniel was hot with it. He was ready for Kearin’s portfolio.

I like this pose you’re in. May I take off your pants for the next pictures?”

Yes, sir.” Daniel’s body tin­gled with the antic­i­pa­tion of Kearin’s touch.

Kearin unbut­toned Daniel’s jeans with a prac­ticed squeeze of his fin­gers. He dragged the zip­per down and the stac­ca­to grind felt like Daniel’s heart. He pushed jeans and box­ers over Daniel’s ass with a firm caress that short­ened Daniel’s breath. His skin felt like fire. His erec­tion bobbed toward Kearin. He felt the man’s breath catch across it and shud­dered. Would it hap­pen? Would he do like Daniel had imag­ined? Would he open his lips and touch…? Arousal surged and Daniel squeezed his eyes tighter. He felt Kearin pull the jeans clear of his feet. His breath tripped over Daniel’s hip. What was Kearin doing? Couldn’t he see how des­per­ate­ly Daniel want­ed him?

A shut­ter snapped.

Kearin didn’t sleep with his mod­els. Daniel let the idea fil­ter through him and found he wasn’t dis­ap­point­ed. The sound of the cam­era cen­tered him, pulled him back from that steep, hun­gry edge. He was going to be in Kearin’s port­fo­lio. Daniel let his eyes open and took a deep­er, calm­ing breath. The stu­dio was dark except for a few spot­lights. He could hear the cam­era shut­ter and Kearin’s qui­et steps as he cir­cled around for a dif­fer­ent angle. Daniel spot­ted him half-absorbed in the shad­ows fid­dling with a small remote that changed the light­ing. He didn’t look away from Daniel in the cen­ter of the room. Daniel licked his lips, and his ears buzzed faint­ly. The cam­era shut­ter snapped.

Kearin’s eyes near­ly glowed in the dark­ness, fixed like a preda­tor on prey. Daniel felt his cock bob and pulse. Kearin’s gaze fixed there. He slipped the remote in his pock­et and groped at his side for the step stool. For a guy that didn’t get involved, he was broad­cast­ing a lot of interest.

Kearin brought the stool around in front of Daniel’s head and stood on the third step to get a bet­ter angle for his pho­tos. His crotch set­tled at eye lev­el and Daniel licked his lips again. Snap. The desire to press his mouth there and test Kearin’s lim­it came over him. Daniel’s cock thick­ened at the idea. Snap. He opened his mouth to breathe prop­er­ly. Just breath­ing, he swore. Daniel watched a bulge stretch the jeans in front of him. It was a good thing he was bound. Daniel didn’t have Kearin’s strength of will to stay focused on the task at hand. He want­ed and his body tin­gled with need. Snap.

Kearin stepped back to the floor and took the stool with him. Daniel man­aged not to groan at the loss. His head felt light with all the blood con­cen­trat­ed down below, but he tracked Kearin’s qui­et move­ment around to the front of him. He want­ed Kearin’s touch any­where; it wouldn’t mat­ter now. All he got was a cam­era shutter.

Daniel felt his cock leak. Pre-come bead­ed at the top. Snap. Rolled to the edge. Snap. Trailed down the cen­ter to his balls. Snap. Daniel’s breath wasn’t slow any longer. Every flick of the cam­era jolt­ed him. He moaned softly.

He heard Kearin step away and set the cam­era down. Finally. He couldn’t wait any longer. He need­ed Kearin’s hands on him. His mouth. God, just the touch of his breath was prob­a­bly enough to send him, trem­bling, over that edge. His cock pulsed.

I think that will be enough for today.”

Enough? What did enough mean? Daniel snapped his eyes up to Kearin as he dragged the stool back and began unty­ing the knots on Daniel’s arms. Removing the rope faster, a lit­tle rushed, even. He nev­er looked down to meet Daniel’s eyes. Methodical. Was this it? Daniel could see the tent in Kearin’s jeans plain as day. The man want­ed him.

Kearin slid the last rope around Daniel’s wrists and stepped off the stool. “Roll your shoul­ders out. They’ll be stiff.”

They were. Not as bad­ly as Daniel thought they could be, but it took his atten­tion off his stiff-as-a-board cock and how hard Kearin was ignor­ing it. Kearin bus­ied him­self with cam­era equip­ment and refused to even look at him.

Daniel dressed him­self. He fol­lowed Kearin out with­out a word. It wasn’t until he strug­gled to focus on tying his shoes that Kearin spoke.

Today I want­ed to check your reac­tion to being tied up, make sure you weren’t ner­vous about it, so the knots were sim­ple. If you’re avail­able the day after tomor­row, we can try a more com­pli­cat­ed pose.”

Daniel’s heart raced. This was just a taste of the work Kearin could do. He remem­bered the jew­el-green drag­on­fly on the red fold­er and nod­ded at his shoes. “I’m avail­able then.” So they weren’t going to get crazy on the first date, not a big deal. Daniel could wait anoth­er day or two.

His pants tight­ened, and Daniel recon­sid­ered. He could wait for Kearin. He cer­tain­ly couldn’t wait to get home, though. Kearin opened the front door for him. As Daniel stepped through, Kearin grabbed the mid­dle belt loop of his jeans. “Oh, and Daniel?”

He froze. Kearin’s voice rough­ened again, and the pull on Daniel’s jeans put pres­sure on his hot cock. He had no doubt it was intentional.

I don’t want you to plea­sure your­self until then.”

What? Daniel wasn’t going to play that game. Kearin could dic­tate while he was in the ropes, but out of them, Daniel was his own man. He tried to turn in the door­way, but Kearin’s shoul­der pressed against his, Kearin’s breath rushed across his neck, Kearin’s hard erec­tion dug into Daniel’s ass. There was no way Kearin didn’t want him. He didn’t sleep with his mod­els, but Daniel was sure he also didn’t grind him­self slow­ly against them on the way out the door. They would end up in bed. It was sim­ply a mat­ter of when, not if.

Daniel leaned back and whis­pered, “Please, sir.” He didn’t rec­og­nize his own voice, so soft and col­ored with desire.

Oh,” said Kearin direct­ly into his ear, “I want to hear that again.”

Daniel shud­dered and closed his eyes to focus. He need­ed to get con­trol of him­self. He could feel Kearin’s lips against the shell of his ear, though, and Kearin’s hand tight­en on his belt loop. Kearin slid his free hand down the angle of Daniel’s hip and around his thigh. Inward. He stopped just short of Daniel’s erec­tion. Daniel swal­lowed. “Please—please touch me, sir.”

Daniel felt the cock against his ass thick­en, as did Kearin’s breath. “Go home, Daniel.” Kearin let him go, just dropped him on the top step and left him sud­den­ly bereft of heat and light. Daniel clutched his chest and gasped for air. Sanity. How could this man affect him so?

Will you obey me?”

There was no ques­tion. “Yes, sir.” The door clicked shut behind him. Daniel stood on the top step for sev­er­al sec­onds try­ing to get his bear­ings and remem­ber where he’d parked the car. Kearin had wiped his mind of all oth­er things.

Daniel wasn’t sure how he’d make it through anoth­er forty-eight hours. His cock throbbed, his heart refused to stay put, his stom­ach flipped upside down and insist­ed it was bet­ter off this way. His ears rang. Will you obey me? He had to sit down.

Parking garage. He’d parked beside the con­do. Daniel stum­bled down the steps and made his way to the car. He didn’t remem­ber how he got home.

It wasn’t until he sat down at his com­put­er that Daniel real­ized he’d nev­er tried to check Kearin’s office for any files on Serenity. Kearin had over­whelmed him so com­plete­ly, Daniel had­n’t even thought about the job. Instead he’d been con­sumed in a way that defied rea­son. Not only had Kearin con­trolled Daniel’s body with rope, he’d con­trolled Daniel’s mind.

Completely. Utterly.

A fris­son of plea­sure slid into Daniel’s heart.