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—5:45 p.m.
1276 Howard Ave, Apt 221
Safe house 4
Phillip Bonnet, it seemed, was an influential man. According to his financials, he held down over forty million in insurable assets. That was exactly the kind of disposable income that could drop three million on a photograph at auction.
Daniel picked up a junk phone and dialed a number. It rang. A light Swiss accent answered on the other end.
“Hello, my name is Phillip Bonnet, and I have an account with you,” Daniel lied. He thumbed through his edge-worn catalog of Gerard Photography Auctions.
“Mister Bonnet, I’ll need to ask you a few questions to verify your identity,” said the Swiss accent. “Can you please tell me your date of birth?”
Daniel checked his computer screen. “Seven, seventeen. Nineteen sixty-one.”
“Thank you, and can I please have your phone number?”
“Yes, I’m not sure which cell I’ve given you.” Daniel scrolled his monitor to the information. “It’s either seven, six, one, four, three, four, seven, two, six, six.”
“I’m sorry, sir. That doesn’t match our records.”
“Then it’s this one: seven, six, one, three, two, three, four, seven, two, six.”
“Thank you. And the last four digits of your account with us?”
“Nine, six, two, six.”
“Thank you, Mister Bonnet, how can I help you today?”
Daniel leaned back in his chair. “I’d like to take a look at activity on my account in early February.”
“Certainly, sir. Is there a problem?”
“I’m not sure. Can you tell me if there were any debits issued on…” Daniel checked the auction magazine’s double-page spread of Serenity. “On February ninth between the hours of four p.m. and midnight?”
“Certainly.” The sound of keys tapping. “There were three debits, sir: Heimdall’s Steakhouse for two hundred and forty-three dollars, seventeen cents; Blue Boutique for a hundred and six dollars, twenty-one cents; and Dairy Queen for two dollars and six cents.”
Daniel swallowed a snort. Dairy Queen? Mister rich-ass Bonnet had a cheap ice cream habit?
“Do any of those sound abnormal, sir.”
“No.” Daniel smiled into the phone. “Can you check direct deposits and transfers for me, please? Same timeframe.”
“Two deposits, sir: Richard’s Entertainment for thirty-three thousand, four hundred and seventy-six dollars, twenty-two cents; and also from Richard’s for sixty-four thousand, two hundred and nine dollars, eighty-three cents.”
What the hell was Richard’s Entertainment? It was certainly paying well.
“Only one transfer for six hundred thousand dollars, which we called to confirm with you before releasing.”
Daniel’s hand tightened on the phone. “Where was that transfer addressed to?”
“Gerard Photography Auctions, sir.”
Bingo. Daniel resisted the urge to sit up in his chair; it would change the tone of his voice. “Those are all as expected. Thank you.”
“Would you like me to flag your account for additional fraud observation, sir?”
“No, everything appears to be in order.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No, that was it.”
“Thank you for your business, Mister Bonnet. Have a good day.”
“You too.” Daniel hung up and stared at the photograph in the magazine. Six hundred thousand dollars. About fifteen percent of the sale price straight to Kearin. The auction house cut. Phillip Bonnet was Serenity’s anonymous bidder, and he was attending the gala tomorrow.
Daniel sat at his desk and wondered how well Kearin knew Phillip. The email in his drafts folder indicated it wasn’t a close relationship and that Kearin wanted to impress him. It was likely Kearin had handled the transactions for Serenity himself. Could they have spoken about Kearin’s portfolio then?
Daniel couldn’t remember any specific interactions between the two men at his gallery showing, but he’d wanted to leave an impression on Kearin, not haunt his every step. It was possible they’d spoken that night as well.
His gut churned at the thought. Daniel wasn’t a looker by any stretch—a good thief stayed forgettable—but Phillip carried a cloud of disapproval like a dog’s old fart. Wasn’t anything better than that?
He couldn’t help but wonder. Was Kearin restraining someone else right now? A new model? Was he thinking about Phillip? Saying please in a dark whisper like it was a choice.
Daniel’s swift erection made his jeans too tight.
He sighed, pressing his hands into the table as he looked up to change his focus.
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