Today we are pleased to welcome Tami Veldura, to share with us about her new book, Stealing Serenity, and give us a bit of a glimpse into the character of Daniel.
by Tami Veldura
Publisher: Bottom Drawer
Book Details: Novella
Genre: Erotic MM Suspense
Thank you to Nic for inviting me to post! I’m here to celebrate the release of my latest book, Stealing Serenity. It’s a 25k romantic suspense about a photographer and a thief.
Daniel, the thief, is trying to steal a photograph that recently sold for millions of dollars at auction, but he doesn’t know who bought it. To find out, he goes to work for the man who owns the auction house, Kearin Gerard.
Kearin is a business owner and amateur photographer. He hires Daniel, but truthfully he wants to see him model for a new portfolio project. Below is a phonecall between Daniel and his mother after the second modeling session Daniel has with Kearin.
It is canon to the story.
A transcript of a conversation between Daniel & his mom.
Daniel: Mom, it’s me–
Mom: Oh, good! I just made the best crepes for dinner. Are you in town?
Daniel: Sorry, not this time.
Mom: That’s a shame. Your father is hoping you’ll spend the christmas holiday with us, though. Do you know if you’re free?
Daniel: Mom, it’s July. I’m not even sure what I’m doing in August.
Mom: We just miss you.
Daniel: I miss you too. Anyway, stop worrying about six months from now. I’m calling to wish you a happy birthday.
Mom: Aww, aren’t you the sweetest thing. Your father took me out for breakfast at that dimsum place I like.
Daniel: Did you have fun?
Mom: I did! Enough about me, is work keeping you busy?
Daniel: You know I can’t talk about it.
Mom: I’m not asking for government secrets. I just want to be sure you’re happy. You like what you’re doing?
Daniel: Yes. I’m having a lot of fun. There’s a good nightlife here.
Mom: Oh, have you met any cute boys?
Daniel: Mom…. Yes, I’ve met a guy, he seems to like me.
Mom: Of course he does.
Mom: You’re fabulous, Danny, don’t argue. When are you bringing him home?
Daniel: Ha. We’ve only been on two dates. That’s not even enough to call it a relationship.
Mom: That’s practically married–
Mom: You’re my only child, I can’t leave this world without walking you down the aisle.
Daniel: Your cardiologist says you have the heart of a thirty-year-ol– hey! Who said I was doing the walking? Maybe he’s walking to me!
Mom: You, pass up a chance to flaunt that figure? Hahaa!
Daniel: I don’t flaunt.
Mom: Haha! Ohhhh, I love you.
Daniel: Love you too, Mom.
Mom: Call after seven next time so you can speak with your father. Hehe. Ohh… that was good…
Daniel: …I do not flaunt.
“Serenity,” a photograph worth four million dollars, was sold at auction to an anonymous bidder, and stealing it will represent the largest payday Daniel will have ever had. To make that happen, he poses as a photography curator to attract the attention of Kearin, the auction house owner.
Kearin takes Daniel under his wing to work in the non-profit branch of his business, but it’s a cover for his desire to see Daniel naked, bound, and needy for the camera. Kearin has a client interested in a very specific portfolio—filling the request would put him at the top of his field.
Daniel thinks he can use the modeling to get closer to “Serenity.” What he doesn’t expect is to fall for Kearin’s brand of intensity instead. So does he go for the photograph or Kearin’s heart? He wouldn’t call himself a master thief if he couldn’t steal both.
“Night.” With Justin’s fading footsteps, the office took on a half-asleep mood. Daniel’s computer and the warm light that seeped from Kearin’s closed office door lingered as the only signs of life. Each day this week, he stayed later: fifteen minutes here, twenty minutes there. He didn’t want to appear too eager to work into the night, but until his boss left the office, Daniel couldn’t make any progress.
Daniel checked the clock. Seven. He could push it until seven thirty.
Daniel gathered the photos and a small box of pins. The wall Justin spoke of stood bisected by Kearin’s warmly lit door. To the left hung a hundred grayscale photographs of the city. Rundown buildings, stray animals, forgotten public spaces overgrown with invasive vines, all opportunities for the charity branch of Gerard Photography to step in and help. Daniel added to the scattered images. He pinned the photographs from his handful in no specific order and placed unrelated images next to each other for bigger impact. He needed to pick another project from this wall, soon.
To the right of Kearin’s door hung the same places in the city after a completed project. Colored photos organized in perfect columns for easy browsing. Daniel carefully aligned the latest additions. To kill time, he admired some of the older photos.
He heard Kearin’s chair roll back. Daniel jumped back to pinning new photos and glanced at his watch. Seven twelve. Kearin flicked his light off and paused at the threshold of his office. Daniel had to focus on pinning a photograph—his sunflowers—or stare. No one would call Kearin particularly attractive. His nose had a bump, his chin a cleft, and he tended to neglect the need to blink. It all resulted in a look of fierce attention even at rest, and his powerful command of personal space just emphasized the impression. Kearin was not a man to take lightly. The utter opposite of a characterless employee.
Daniel felt his heart thump and repressed the sensation ruthlessly. Just because this man silently pushed all his buttons didn’t mean he could run about half-cocked on a dopamine high from proximity. He had a theft to pull off. A cover to maintain.
“Well timed, Daniel. I wanted to speak with you.” That flutter of butterflies had nothing at all to do with Kearin’s don’t-question-me deep voice. He appeared to be locking his office door, but Daniel knew that assumption could be deceiving. He set his pin back in the box and gave Kearin his full attention. “The gallery at Vault Seventeen, I was impressed with the way you organized the showing.”
Daniel felt his eyes wrinkle with pride but locked down any other sign of acknowledgement. That gallery’s entire purpose was to intrigue Kearin into offering Daniel a job here at Gerard.
“I’ve seen several of those photos before, but you offered an interpretation I hadn’t thought of, something more subtle, I think . . .” Kearin turned to face him, intense attention without filter. Like looking into the heart of a volcano. “I’d like to get your opinion on a portfolio I’m working on. There’s a certain aesthetic I’m going for, but I’ve been staring at the images too long to see it anymore. I’d like your help.”
“This is a portfolio for the business?”
“No.” Kearin’s smile held secrets. “It’s a personal project I’ve been building on for a while.”
Daniel jumped at the chance to get closer to Kearin, and not just because it opened more doors for his ultimate goal. “I’d be happy to review it.”
“Splendid. I’ll bring it in tomorrow.” Kearin put his hand on Daniel’s shoulder as he passed. “Don’t stay too late.”
Daniel inhaled the scent of spice Kearin left behind, trying to separate his desire from the sharp logic necessary for his true task: tracking down and stealing the most expensive photograph sold at auction. Four point three million dollars worth of ink on archival paper, and Gerard Photography had hosted the sale to an anonymous bidder.
Daniel took his time straightening the new column of photographs. He listened intently to Kearin’s progress down the front steps. The pause while he made it from building to parking lot. The low purr of an Audi A4 idling imperiously into traffic. He was alone. Daniel set the last image on the wall.
He closed the box of pins and felt his heart settle. His anticipation shifted from charged sexuality to professional intent. From his cheap suit’s inner pocket he pulled a pair of medically thin black gloves and a key that didn’t appear to have any teeth. He slipped the gloves up his wrists. The key he aligned in Kearin’s office lock. He swiped a stapler from Kathy’s desk and smacked the key in, bumping the lock open.
Daniel returned the stapler and took a look at the office. Two chairs, a desk, one file cabinet, curtains shading a wall-sized window. Photos peppered every vertical surface, pinned or held up with magnets. All Kearin’s work. Daniel sat at the desk first. Nothing rested on the surface. Just the computer. Daniel turned it on and investigated the file cabinet while he waited for it to boot up.
Even this was almost empty. Meticulous labels made it clear Daniel wouldn’t find any information about previous auctions here. He turned back to the computer. A password cursor blinked patiently. Daniel fished for the other device in his suit pocket: a data drive so small the connector took up more than half its length. He found a port at the back of the computer tower and plugged it in. The monitor blinked once, only briefly.
Daniel shut the computer down completely.
He set the chair back where he found it, double-checked all the drawers he opened, and quietly locked the door on his way out.
What did I think?
I enjoyed this story, more for the intrigue and mystery, than for the romance. If I’m perfectly honest, I didn’t really feel a huge passion between the main characters of Daniel and Kearin but certainly got sucked into seeing how their relationship panned out.
The strength of the book is in the attention to detail that gave a sense of realism to Daniel’s activity as a master thief. The references to the small things–such as Daniel being aware of the presence of layers of dust showing no-one was likely to find his hidden devices–and the other information given, gave enough insight into Daniel’s profession to be interesting.
The book does have mystery and gets you thinking. Why is the painting worth so much? Where is it and who bought it? Will Daniel get caught and if so, what does this mean? There’s an interesting element introduced with Daniel’s modelling for Kearin’s very special photo collection and the suspense of what this means for Daniel’s plans to steal the Serenity.
Overall, I was engaged by the story and keen to see the resolution. I would be very interested to see a sequel to this story as I finished the book eager to see where Daniel and Kearin’s potential relationship could lead them. It would be good to see a story with more of them as a couple with more interaction between the two characters and definitely a progression to the next level.
Author Extras to check out:
Quiz and Giveaway (http://www.tamiveldura.com/2014/07/stealing-serenity-quiz-and-giveaway.html)
Fiction: Grand Theft, Case 6742 (http://www.tamiveldura.com/2014/07/free-fiction-grand-theft-case-6742.html)
Rafflecopter Prize: 3 x Stealing Serenity e-books. $5 BDP voucher
Release Day: July 5th
Tour Dates: July 5th – 12th
About the Author
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 her website:
The e-book is available for sale for $2.99 via the BDP Digital Shop and other online booksellers
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