A Shot at Living
First download available date: 12/21 at the publisher
Download everywhere books are sold online 12/28/19
Changeling Press and Universal: https://www.changelingpress.com/a-shot-at-living-vasquez-inc-3-b-2972(Live links to all markets are available here.)
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-shot-at-living-lou-sylvre/1135447315/1134864037
LA’s heat holds danger and mystery for a Dom and his sub aiming for love and a new life together.
Anxious to leave London and its horrors behind, Brian Harrison and Jackie Vasquez move to Los Angeles. Brian hopes working for Luki, managing a small Vasquez Security branch, will leave him more time to live, love, and play with sub Jackie. But Los Angeles awakens old trauma for Jackie, and follows that with a brand new hit.
While Jackie struggles back to health after a crippling accident, Brian strives to find his balance as Jackie’s lover and Dom. Meanwhile, the more Brian defies the order not to investigate the disappearance of the previous branch manager, the deeper and darker the mystery gets.
Can the couple fan the lusty flames still burning between them, rekindle romance, and rise together in time to stand against looming dangers just ahead?
Having limited time, wanting to concentrate on making everything perfect for Jackie, and willing to find excuses to avoid driving in Los Angeles, Brian had dispatched Shel Solomon—the second most senior of the full-time agents employed at VSI-LA—to pick up Jackie at the airport. Now, as he set a third huge bouquet of roses—this bunch almost black—in a vase in his brand-new , not yet completely furnished but promising playroom, he glanced at his watch.
“He’s late,” Brian said to himself. He double checked the app on his phone, confirming the flight had landed only two minutes late. A little bolt of worry shot through him, but he quickly quenched it. This was Los Angeles. The delay was probably due to traffic. $Twenty or thirty minutes late means nothing in this town, he thought. “Hell,” he said aloud, “two hours’ delay is pretty much normal around here.”
Ignoring the hollow sound of those words in the mostly bare room, he set about hanging up carefully coiled hanks of colored rope via stick-on hooks, thinking only about the colors he’d use to make Jackie beautiful when he did arrive. He wouldn’t be able that night to use the suspension rig he’d bought—no time to set it up and make sure it was safe—but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have plenty to play with in the meantime.
Fifty minutes later, Brian had checked and fidgeted with each of the rose bouquets scattered around the apartment at least three times, made sure wine and water were chilling along with a tray of fruit and cheese, wiped the counters again, re-dusted the mantel over the built-in and partially locked cabinet, cleaned a smudge off the playroom’s triple-width, full-length mirror, and listened to two sets of phone messages twice.
Marley sauntered into the new playroom and began an inspection, disapproving as big orange cats tend to do, then gave up and sat down to stare at his human. Brian had just that moment arranged—again—the new cock-ring he’d picked up on another impromptu shopping spree, setting it jauntily alongside the vase of Black Baccara roses and the opened box containing the new collar he hoped to put on Jackie soon—maybe even within hours. He’d chosen the collar carefully, after much deliberation purchasing a rich, pliable, black leather adorned with a silver lock and trim and a stylized Triskeli inset with iridescent labradorite. He situated the box just so, sighed, and ran exasperated hands through his hair.
Legitimately, he had no more preparation to accomplish before Jackie’s arrival, but he fidgeted, knowing he wouldn’t succeed if he tried to do anything important and unrelated. He was full of nervous energy—more so the later it got, so he turned his mind to a minor mystery he’d discovered the day he’d moved in. The playroom had a built-in cabinet, something like a bureau, but mostly recessed into the walls, with a narrow counter stretching across the top like a mantel and a mirror above. Brian had opened, inspected, and cleaned seven of the eight small drawers and found nothing.
But he hadn’t been able to open the eighth drawer. The pull was missing, and at first he thought it was fake—just a façade like the double cabinet door in the center. But why only one fake drawer out of eight? And those doors looked to be painted shut, and their front was recessed from the rest of the structure. But the mystery drawer had a thin strip of metal set unobtrusively—almost but not quite invisible—along its side, between it and the neighboring wood. He bent and peered closely at it, shining the flashlight on his phone into the narrow space. A space in the middle of the inch-long strip looked like it called for a key.
Brian had always been driven to solve a mystery, and this one was no different. He stood with hands on his hips, squinting as if that would provide answers. The locked drawer bothered him enough, and it was enough of a welcome distraction from Jackie’s lateness, that he decided to try his hand at lock-picking. He went decisively to the other bedroom closet where he rummaged through a still-packed box and came up with a few paperclips.
He understood the basics of lock-picking, but had never had much call to apply the skill, which might be why he failed miserably. That added to his frustration with the way things were going in general. Already, things had slid downhill from his perfect plan—starting with the fact that Jackie was late. He wasn’t taking “no” as an answer from the $damned drawer. He lined a butter knife up with the lock and gave it three sharp blows with a hammer, successfully knocking the lock through the wood. Brian sighed, left with mixed feelings—tension relieved, gratified, victorious, but angry as hell and disappointed in himself for ruining the perfection of the setting for tonight’s planned scene. The front of the drawer was a splintery mess. He moved the roses, collar, and cock ring to the other end of the shelf for the sake of aesthetics.
Inside the drawer, he found a small notebook and nothing else. About half the pages were filled with what looked to Brian like scribbling. A few repeated things, like a circle around capital B followed by numbers, and certain other letters that seemed to be abbreviations. The arrangement of entries looked haphazard, completely disorganized, and—to his eye—meaningless. Yet… someone had found it necessary to lock it up, all by itself. The someone likely to have done that would be the now-disappeared Espen, as he was the last person to occupy the apartment.
Something seemed deeply troubling about that.
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