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 19, Tuesday—11:39 a.m.
Gerard Photography, San Diego
Daniel was very glad of the morning’s tailor visit in retrospect. Since he’d walked in the charity’s doors two hours ago he couldn’t keep his head on straight. He kept finding his thoughts straying to Kearin, derailing the work momentum he’d built up every time.
He spotted Kearin smiling over Justin’s shoulder and couldn’t look away. His breath left, and he couldn’t remember how to get it back. A part of him observed the whole thing with impartial judgment. He was going to compromise all of his progress on this heist because he couldn’t stop thinking about being tied up, commanded, and used. He wanted—And then Kearin looked down at something Justin said, breaking that intense contact, and suddenly Daniel breathed again. He leaned heavily into his chair and just stared at the black computer screen. It took him a minute to realize he hadn’t turned it on yet.
He was getting sloppy. He wasn’t in his right head. What had he been thinking last night? Why couldn’t he get control of himself?
“Daniel.” Kearin’s voice was warm. Soothing. Right behind him. The same voice he used every day in the office. Not the dark, rough tones Daniel knew he kept locked down in his chest.
“Yes, Kearin?” Why did the man’s name feel awkward on his tongue?
“Did you do as I asked?”
That implication again, that asked wasn’t really the right word. More like commanded. Daniel shivered. Arousal burned like a low simmer in his gut, which would have been fine up against any other man in any other place on any other day. But the truth was, Daniel had done as Kearin said, and the torture of denial excited him.
Kearin bent forward. He slid a manila folder onto Daniel’s desk, but it was just cover for his other hand, up against Daniel’s throat and jaw, pressing his head back against Kearin’s shoulder so he could slip words into his ear. “Speak when I ask you a question.” Now it was a command. “Did you obey me?”
Daniel’s trousers tented. This was what had come over him—the feeling of drowning in Kearin. He couldn’t fight it and didn’t want to. Daniel whispered, “Yes, sir.”
“Lovely.” Kearin straightened. “Take a look at the photos there and let me know which fits with your project. I am fond of twelve.”
Photos? Kearin disappeared as abruptly as he had come. Daniel put an uneasy hand down on the folder. What other photos did Kearin have time to take? Daniel hadn’t even picked a project yet. He thumbed the folder open. Oh. Oh. He stared at himself and heard this blood rush in his ears like so much noise. His bare chest. The knotwork. His eyes. Daniel had no idea he had such a complex expression within himself. It was otherworldly.
He counted out to photo twelve. His eyes gaped wide. Daniel snapped the folder shut and checked the office around him. Everyone typed quietly at their computers or spoke gently on the phone. He opened the folder to photo twelve. His weeping erection, his bound arms, the long line of his extended throat all illuminated in soft light. He hung in the ropes, totally passive except for the sudden line of his arousal. Daniel felt an ache in his gut—more than just arousal—it was a need so deep he couldn’t name it. This was not quite the feeling he’d seen in those other photos, but he liked where it was going nonetheless.
Daniel looked through the remaining photos, recalling how progressively hot the whole encounter had made him. He selected two for the collection. Regrettably number twelve was not among them. While powerful, the collection’s theme was about peace; Daniel didn’t think an unsatisfied arousal qualified.
But Kearin liked it. Daniel forced himself to leave it in the folder. Would Kearin look at it when he was alone at night and remember Daniel up in his ropes? He sandwiched the folder between the kitten and Victorian projects. The very idea of Kearin jerking off to a picture of him had Daniel tight in all the right places. He marched to Kearin’s office and shut the door behind him.
Daniel didn’t try to hide his arousal. He wanted Kearin to know what kind of state he was in. Wanted him to appreciate exactly how difficult it had been last night to not touch himself. Kearin met his eyes, and in the silence between them, Daniel knew they understood each other.
“What did you think of twelve?”
Daniel sat across the desk, “The photo is…” Arousing? Calling?
“The photo is everything, Daniel.”
Daniel became acutely aware of his purpose in that moment. Serenity still waited for him. He tightened the reins on his excitement. “Yes,” he agreed. He pulled the photos he’d chosen from the folder. One taken from above. His hands fisted at the top of the frame, the knotwork totally symmetrical down the middle with his lax throat and head near the bottom. The second was a bust from the side. At some point he’d glanced over at the camera and Kearin had managed to capture the deep, deep calm in his eyes. This was the one Daniel favored. He was almost breathless with relief that he had that quiet space inside of him. He just needed to figure out how to reach it.
Kearin took the two Daniel had selected and mused over them for a heartbeat. He selected a pen and titled the back of them both. “Add these to the project folder.” Jackal, they said. “Have you decided between the cats or the home?”
Of course he would have noticed. “Not yet. I’ve been… distracted.” Overwhelmed. Utterly swept away. Completely compromised, quite frankly. There wasn’t a chance in hell he could track down and steal a prized photograph if all Kearin had to do was exist in his vicinity for Daniel to lose his mind with desire. Kearin didn’t say anything. Daniel looked up to find him staring hard, and it was too late to look away.
“Do you need some time?”
The question held a lot more weight than it should have. Daniel swallowed. He didn’t want any time at all; he wanted Kearin. But if he said no and couldn’t get himself back under control, they’d both be disappointed. Kearin stood and Daniel followed by reflex. Kearin came around the desk to guide Daniel to the door when Daniel finally found his voice. “I just don’t know how you turn it off at work.” Daniel looked up as Kearin approached with his stare fixed and realized that wasn’t how it worked at all. “You don’t,” he said, finally understanding.
Kearin brushed a knuckle against Daniel’s jaw. His voice deepened. “You’re quick. That’s very attractive.”
Daniel ached: his heart, lungs, cock; they all throbbed with Kearin’s proximity. He didn’t have to do anything but murmur, and Daniel fell to his mercy. Daniel was calling bullshit on Kearin’s rule about sleeping with models. This model, at least, was getting into bed with him sooner or later.
Kearin’s breath sighed over him. “I’m partial to the kitten project.”
Their lips stilled so close to each other. Daniel could drift forward and bring them together for the first time. Instead, he swallowed. “I think I’ll work on the Victorian.”
Kearin smiled sharp and sudden. Daniel realized Kearin knew exactly what he was doing. He knew just how off balance Daniel was and just how far to push. And in turn, Daniel was confident enough to push back. In that moment they were both pleased.
Daniel stepped back, just one inch out of Kearin’s immediate space, and let his breath out in a rush. “Thank you, sir.” The honorific felt better on Daniel’s tongue than his name.
Kearin’s eyes dilated, and his sharp smile remained. “Anytime, Daniel.”
Daniel left the office with his two project folders. Throughout the rest of the day, he tried to make progress on identifying who owned the Victorian property and the last time it had been occupied. He did his best to avoid daydreaming about Kearin’s lips on his own.
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