Monday, 27 June 2016

#samplesunday - STEALING SERENITY

Our last #samplesunday for the month of June, in celebration of everything #LGBTQ and #Pride2016, is MM Contemporary Romance Stealing Serentiy by Tami Veldura. This is the second edition of Stealing Serenity with an entire new chapter.

Remember #samplesunday is a great opportunity for you to get a look at our books. Make sure to follow us on Twitter to get notice of when: @bottomdrawerpub


What happens when a master thief meets a master ropesman . . . he gets all tied up!
Daniel has worked the confidence game many times in the pursuit of a prize. This time it’s for “Serenity,” a photograph worth four million dollars, and it represents the largest payday Daniel has ever chased. To uncover its whereabouts he needs to get close to Kearin, the auction house owner and photographer.
Kearin knows that Daniel will be an asset for the non-profit arm of his business when he meets him at an event, but his job offer is a cover for his real motive: to get Daniel in front of his camera. Preferably naked, bound, and needy to fulfill a specific request for a client−a portfolio that will put him at the top of his field.
Daniel readily agrees to model for Kearin−thinking it will lead him to “Serenity”−but what he doesn’t expect is to fall for Kearin’s brand of intensity instead. Will he go for the photograph or Kearin’s heart?

Please enjoy this sample chapter from the book . . . 


CHAPTER TWO

July 13, Wednesday—8:45 p.m.
1276 Howard Ave, Apt 221
Safe house 4

DANIEL SHOVELED delivery pad thai into his mouth, watching a time-lapse of everything Kearin had done on his computer over the course of the day. Daniel sought a particular time-stamp from his records, a username and password entry followed by no recording at all, a gap he couldn’t explain. Hours sped past in heartbeats, and more than once, Kearin returned to the photos of the blond that couldn’t be used for his portfolio.

Then the timestamp he needed approached, and Daniel hit his spacebar to convert the playback to real speed. He watched Kearin clear his desktop of tasks, ever obsessively tidy, and initiate a new program. Here, a login marker Daniel didn’t recognize. Another few seconds for the screen to load and Kearin’s desktop mirrored itself on the screen.

The new, slightly smaller window hovered identically to Kearin’s main desktop, from image to folders to layout. Except it wasn’t quite identical. Daniel hit his spacebar again to pause playback just as Kearin opened a folder. The file tree on the left stretched far longer.

Daniel Googled the program and tisked. Kearin logged into his home computer from work. He used the desktop remotely. Which meant Daniel couldn’t sneak into the computer at work and hunt for clues unless he knew Kearin wasn’t on his PC at home. If Kearin tried to connect to the work machine, Daniel’s presence would keep him locked out and remind him about digital security. It was the last thing Daniel wanted to happen.

He left the noodles to pull a bag out of the back of his closet. He needed a rather specialized set of supplies to bug a machine in a private residence, and Kearin himself lived in a condo complex. More people made things more difficult. He couldn’t just hide in the backyard until folks went to bed. The roof however . . . Breaking into a home while the owner slept inside was lesson number two in How To Get Caught 101, but with the gala in a week, Daniel had no time to wait. The anonymous owner of Serenity could be there, and he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make his mark.

While packing, he pondered Kearin’s photographs. Did he take them at home? If Daniel broke in, would he find Kearin’s new model strung up and helpless in the living room? The idea of bondage wasn’t new to him, but he’d always passed it off as an interest too extreme for his liking. What kind of man wanted to be tied up and left, sometimes literally, hanging in rope?

But he’d never connected restraint to the idea of peace before. How could someone just . . . let go like that?

Daniel sat at his computer, bothered enough by the question to run an image search. Porn. Hardcore, X-rated, multiple bodies. Erections. None of this looked like Kearin’s photos. This was a perversion of what Kearin had captured in his models’ eyes. He paged through them, rejecting most on sight.

But here was one—a color photo of a man bound on his knees, arms pulled back, arched on a steel table. He was hard too, but his eyes, they were calm like Kearin’s models. Another, maybe a photo between poses where the photographer caught a rope-wrapped man rising to his feet, holding a finger up to the camera as if to say “just a second.”

They were in the mess; he just had to dig a little. Photos carefully staged, cropped, and calm. Photos of an inner serenity.

Daniel stroked his rising arousal as he sought out pictures of complicated knotwork. Images that told stories of chaos relaxing under the order of ropes. He paused at a photo of a naked man bound to stand en pointe with the extra-long ribbons of his ballet shoes. He held one leg tied up with the foot braced against the inner thigh of the other, his arms arced gracefully overhead. Daniel was certain he held the pose under his own power—muscles in his calves and thighs flexed. The man’s erection stretched powerfully up, dragged down to perpendicular by a small weight that hung at the end.

It was beautiful and arousing. Daniel’s breath hitched. He admired the folds of ribbon binding the model’s leg up, the control of balance required to hold the pose, the erection backlit for emphasis.

But Daniel zoomed in on the man’s face. His head tilted back at the camera, and his dark eyes invited Daniel closer. They spoke of stillness and relaxation: things difficult to come by in Daniel’s chosen line of work.

Absolute control Daniel was well familiar with, but a whole satisfaction of self; what would a thief know about just being if every minute could mean the difference between freedom or cops and a jail cell?

So, it wasn’t the model’s flexed muscle or substantial erection that Daniel focused on, but the peace in his expression. Daniel grunted to climax, unable to relax even to let his voice out in his own bedroom. If Kearin could loosen him up like the models in his portfolio, Daniel wanted to try it.

And if it got him more access to the condo, so much the better.


July 15, Friday—1:27 a.m.
428 Magnolia Ln, Seaside Court
Gated Community, National City

DANIEL PERCHED on the roof of Kearin’s three-story condo, number 428. The corner unit provided an excellent view of the entire property, and with the exception of a few night owls, everyone dozed through the early morning.

Of course, Kearin had to be one of those night owls. From a fingertip-sized sensor stuck to the outside of the home office window and transmitting to his phone, Daniel watched him at the computer hour after hour. Unlike his boss, Daniel didn’t have all night. Another glance confirmed Kearin hadn’t moved, so as the clock pushed one thirty, Daniel decided to go with plan B.

He didn’t particularly like breaking into the place while Kearin remained awake, but he didn’t want this trip to be a total loss, either. Daniel secured an anchor to the roof and lowered himself over the edge. He passed the office window on the right and rappelled down to the floor below where he could reach a bathroom window.

Popping the lock on a window? No problem. Climbing in without waking a snoozing orange tabby cat on the toilet? Another issue entirely.

The cat hissed. Daniel tried to coo at it while he unclipped from the rope. The feline wanted nothing to do with him and jumped off the toilet to run from the room. At least cats didn’t bark and fetch their owners. Daniel pinned his line to the outside of the building so it wouldn’t fly around in the wind. He closed the window and checked his phone. Inside and undetected. Kearin still typed away on his computer.

With efficiency and silence, Daniel placed two sensors in the kitchen, one in the stairwell leading down, two in the garage at the bottom, and another in the wheel well of the Audi. He greeted the cat with better success on his way back up to kitchen level and checked his phone. He froze on the steps. Kearin was not in his chair in the office. The cat purred against his ankle.

Daniel retreated to the garage and resolved the signals from all his new sensors. No Kearin in the kitchen or the hallway. He was probably still on the top floor. Probably. He crept up the stairs with caution, ears straining for any sign of his boss. There was a bedroom on this level he hadn’t checked yet. As if psychic, the cat sauntered right in. He didn’t saunter back out. Daniel slipped a sensor around the doorframe and checked the room on his phone.

Not a bedroom, a library. And empty of Kearin. Daniel retrieved his sensor and replaced it in a more secluded joint of wall and shelving. He added two more in opposite corners of the room. Kearin still hadn’t returned to the computer. Was it finally bedtime? Daniel spotted the cat’s upright tail wander through the video feed of the office.

Daniel’s hair stood on end like someone watched him. It was time to go. He slipped into the bathroom just as he heard footsteps on the stairs. He opened the window, clipped into his line, and climbed out of the condo. He saw the cat swish his tail from the doorway as he closed the window behind him. Daniel climbed up the wall of the building and paused at the office. He scratched the camera sticker off the corner and considered bugging the room. His phone showed Kearin busy in the kitchen.

Then he saw the cat scramble up the stairs and watch him from the doorway. He swished his tail. Daniel decided against breaking in again. Unnerved, he climbed to the roof and repacked the anchor into his slim backpack. He organized his new influx of data by room and watched Kearin climb the stairs back up to the top floor. Probably back to the office.

Satisfied his bugs worked, Daniel exited the property via a well-groomed oak tree. He didn’t quite breathe until he slid behind the wheel of his car two streets down.


July 15, Friday—5:15 p.m.
Gerard Photography, San Diego

KEARIN LEANED closer, so subtly Daniel couldn’t tell if it was intentional. “The gala is a week from now, the dress is formal, and we’ll meet here. I’ll schedule a driver so we can arrive as a group, though much of the night you will be on your own.” Daniel nodded. “I have an appointment to meet so I’m out early today,” Kearin explained. “You’ll lock up when you leave?”

Daniel turned to face him. “I’ll take care of it.”

“Hmm.” Kearin fished the keys out of his pocket. His slacks fell back into their pressed line. Daniel forced his eyes up. Kearin still wasn’t beautiful. Impressively dressed and a little entitled, but Daniel’s interest had everything to do with the way Kearin assumed control of his own space.

He pinged hard on Daniel’s personal sonar now, walking away in a suit cut to impress. Kearin took photos of nude men sporting strong erections in a private studio. Did the show really stop when the camera shut down? How many models became lovers?

Daniel turned back to his computer. Did Kearin get his models hot and bothered then just leave them . . . hanging? He grinned at himself in the computer screen.

Kearin took exactly four minutes from the front door to his car on the road. The Audi purred into the distance, and Daniel broke into his boss’s office. He had half an hour, maybe less. Gloves secure, he set his phone beside the computer to track Kearin’s car through the city. With half an eye on his progress, Daniel logged into the computer, found the remote access to Kearin’s home system, and logged into that. The proxy connection didn’t allow his recorder to see into Kearin’s personal computer, and Daniel didn’t have the skills to re-code the device.

The GPS on Kearin’s car counted down his seconds. Daniel skimmed through folders, photos, and Excel spreadsheets of Gerard Photography auction data. He found nothing about the anonymous bidder for Serenity and even less about Gerard Photography’s financial status. Where was Kearin keeping the information if not on his personal computer? He had investors to report to—

Daniel cursed under his breath. Kearin didn’t have investors; he had donations. Gerard’s was not for profit: no board of directors, no one to answer to.

He opened Kearin’s email and scrolled through the archive. No bank passwords or notifications, no cloud accounts, no backup history—Kearin knew how to make a thief work for a living. With GPS showing Kearin one exit away from home, Daniel started skimming through sent emails. He found conversations with other photographers, a long chain with his mother, details on the cat’s dental work, a reminder from Kearin’s hairstylist, some back and forth from De’Laine re: the gala this year.
And a message in the Drafts folder titled Proposal to an email address Daniel thought was familiar. He opened it.

Phillip Bonnet,

I have taken your suggestions into account. I believe you will find my next project more to your liking. The series is half complete at this stage, but more than sufficient for your judgment. I would be pleased to share it with you during the De’Laine gathering should you be interested.

Sincerely,
Kearin Gerard

There was no email history with this address in Kearin’s archive, and a rudimentary search brought up no other content with Phillip Bonnet. He was a collector and curator. He had attended the showing Daniel had organized at Vault Seventeen, more by accident than design. But while his critical eye was respected in the photography community, he was still not a photographer himself. What influence did he have that Kearin would follow his advice? And why wasn’t there an email history of that advice? Would Kearin design a portfolio around the personal tastes of a fantastically rich collector? Would a collector buy that portfolio?

Daniel’s phone beeped. Kearin pulled into his garage. The timestamp on the draft email showed earlier this morning. Daniel needed that meeting to happen. If Kearin didn’t send it tonight, he’d log back in and schedule the message to send tomorrow afternoon. If Kearin got a reply from Phillip, he’d most likely think he’d sent it anyway. He logged out of the remote proxy, out of Kearin’s office computer, and shut down. He pocketed his phone and checked that the desk’s few items remained in perfect alignment.

He had research to do. Hopefully between his list and Justin’s, Daniel could make a guess at the other guests attending the gala. And with a little digging he’d know more about the man named Phillip Bonnet.


July 16, Saturday—3:52 a.m.
1276 Howard Ave, Apt 221
Safe house 4

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN Phillip Bonnet’s complex social life and the thought of Kearin crafting a portfolio specifically for his tastes, Daniel found himself looking at porn.

He lay on the bed, browsing through photos on his tablet with one hand and teasing the pulse of his cock with the other. His phone showed Kearin enjoying tea and a book in his library, but Daniel pictured him tugging knots of rope around hard thighs and the curve of a man’s ass.

Daniel wanted to know what it felt like to be restrained without any fear. To be held so he could let go. What kind of trust did it require?

He abandoned the tablet for imagined images of Kearin’s whole, intimidating focus. The sound of his voice murmuring please when they both knew it was a command. The feel of nylon rope around and between his legs. Exposed.


Daniel held his breath as he came.



Pride Month 2016 special price:

99c



Stealing Serentiy is available in e-book from all major sellers. Details for Stealing Serentiy, including sellers' links, are at:


Bottom Drawer Publications


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Tami Veldura

Tami Veldura is a writer, reader, artist, and dreamer. She resides in sunny California and aspires to quit her day job and write full-time. Her stories are predominantly gay romance in a collection of subgenres spanning fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, paranormal, BDSM, and contemporary.

She also publishes adventure steampunk, fantasy, and science fiction stories suitable for all ages as S. T. Lynn.

Find Tami at:

www.tamiveldura.com


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