Today, I'm featuring Tina Donahue, author of Skin Deep.
What was the last book you read?
The Handmaid's Tale
Do you have any hobbies?
Love to travel
When did you write your first book?
When I was 9. Illustrated it too, made copies and sold them around the neighborhood. My first book tour. :)
Turning forty and losing her job in the same week sends Tori into a tailspin. At her lowest point, she meets Jon. He proves there’s more to life than work, and she’s just getting started on the future she deserves.
Tonight had taught her a lot. She’d never met a man as wise or honest as him. “In what way?”
“Are you from around here?”
“Orange County. I won a scholarship to Stanford and never left the area.”
“Smart and beautiful.”
Heat poured through her.
“Bet your parents are proud.”
She sipped her wine. “Mom was. She passed away before I graduated.”
“I’m sorry.” He covered her hand. “Didn’t mean to bring up anything bad.”
“You didn’t.” She turned her palm and curled her fingers around his. They barely knew each other but touching him felt right, needed. Could be the wine had gone to her head. She hadn’t eaten in days.
Maybe loneliness had finally overwhelmed her.
Whatever the reason, Tori didn’t care to pretend. Not tonight. She wanted him. “I have great memories of our times together.”
He stroked her thumb. “What about your dad?”
Gloom should have settled in, but, somehow, bad memories steered clear. More of Jon’s magic. “He left us when I was eleven. Moved in with his mistress and their son. Last I heard, they’re still married and happy.”
Jon squeezed her fingers gently. “You’ve had a tough time.”
“Oh hey, I’m good. Great, in fact, or will be once I get my career rolling again.” She pulled her hand from his. Pity she didn’t want. Mindless sex might be all she could handle. “Knowing what you do about the industry, do you think I have a chance of ever landing a good position, or am I dreaming? Don’t sugarcoat it for me. I’d rather know.”
“Here we are, here we are.” Salvatore bustled close, a tray perched on his protruding belly. He placed the bruschetta between them. “More wine?”
Tori finished hers. “Please.”
Jon put his half-filled glass aside. “I’m good.”
“I’ll send Carmine over. He’ll take care of your lovely Tori, pronto.”
Her pulse thudded. Being called Jon’s anything sat too nicely. Sharing dinner with him wasn’t something she should get used to. He was simply kind. Hence, his reluctance to answer her question. She’d asked him for the truth but didn’t want to face it tonight. Hell, ever. She was too young to retire and too old to take on student debt to start another career that might not work out. God, she was screwed.
His silence got to her. In the dim lighting, he was a breathtaking study in muted browns and tan. Pure male. A magnificent animal. Wind tugged his hair. She would have given anything to bury her face in his locks and capture his scent.
She pressed her toes into her moccasins to steady herself. “What do you think?”
He offered a slow, sexy smile. “About you ignoring me when I noticed you at your company and my place for what seemed like forever?”
Her cheeks stung. “You did?”
“Almost asked about you, but hey, that’s so high school, right?”
Tori laughed. “Yeah. I guess. I’m sorry I didn’t notice. I was afraid to make a mistake at work or not be on top of things.” She slumped. “I have to study for so many certifications and constantly learn new things I’m always busy.”
She hadn’t been that in too long. Maybe ever. “I wish.”
Interest registered on his face. A younger guy might have smiled, laughed, made a crude joke. Not Jon. He had the benefit of age and experience. He regarded her assuredly. No need for words. Their prolonged silence spoke volumes.
The surroundings drifted away. Sounds faded. Wrapped in an intimate gaze, they melted into each other, their mouths joined.
He speared his tongue between her lips.
Hunger burned within her, deeper than she’d ever known. She drove her fingers through his hair and suckled his tongue.
A wondrous sound.
She needed more.
They scooted closer. Their chair legs scraped the concrete.
Jon cupped her face and glided his thumbs over her cheeks, a soft, sensuous touch. His stubble rasped, adding extra excitement.
They broke free on a gasp. Both gulped air.
Arousal smoldered in his eyes. “This is what you need.”
Her stomach fluttered. “Kissing you?”
“Not just that.” He cupped her chin. “My guess is you’ve spent your life chasing your dream, pleasure not in the equation. Precisely what I did. I lost my family. For what? You can give your damn soul to a company and they don’t care. There’s always someone cheaper to take your place. Trust me, what happened to you isn’t about age. It’s about economics and power. You know too much. When someone comes up with a monumentally crappy idea, they can’t sway you. However, they can bulldoze a young kid and pay him or her zip while stuffing their own pockets with what should have gone to the employee. You asked what I thought. For your future, I think you should try something different.”
Her spirits sank. “Another career?”
“Shh.” He pressed his finger to her lips.
She resisted the urge to suck it inside.
“We’re not talking about careers, work, or anything unpleasant now. We’re discussing your immediate future. You need a change. Something to recharge you.”
“Fun. Beginning tonight and going through to your birthday, nothing except fun. With me. What do you say? Don’t sugarcoat it. I want to know the truth.”