Sunday, June 25, 2017

Skin Deep - Wanna Be Bad Anthology #EroticRomance #TinaDonahueBooks

Skin Deep is my latest erotic romance - featured in the Wanna Be Bad Anthology

99¢



Featuring Skin Deep

The best is yet to come…

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.

Excerpt:

For the first time ever, Tori Samms feared she might faint. A definite no-no in Silicon Valley. Here, nothing mattered except youth, outrageous success, and balls—figuratively and literally. If you failed to have the right equipment and got old, you were eventually toast.

Blood rushed in her ears, the noise blocking whatever the Chief Information Security Officer said. Couldn’t be good. Seconds before, Mark coldly announced the company had eliminated Tori’s position.

Last week, she’d won an industry award. Today, Mark and Jennifer, the human resources director, regarded her as homicide detectives did a serial killer.

Jennifer slid papers across the conference room table to Tori.

Mark provided a pen.

A box holding Tori’s things rested on an ergonomic chair the Inquisition would have coveted for torture. After years with the company, she hadn’t accumulated enough personal stuff to fill a container. No family photos or anything to indicate her personality and preferences. Too dangerous. Only performance mattered.

Outside the room, twentysomethings whooped and bounced, urging on the challengers in a rousing ping-pong game. What corporate deemed brainstorming time.

Jennifer drummed her nails. Fresh out of college, she wore black polish to match her Goth look, which the founders encouraged. Gave the company a modern, with-it vibe investors loved. “You need to sign these papers, Val.”

“What? Wait.” Tori’s pulse ticked up another notch, pushing her toward a stroke. “What?”

“Again, Val, you need to—”

“It’s Vic. Not Val.” They didn’t even know her stupid nickname that Tori loathed. She’d called herself Vic, short for Victoria, to fit in with the overwhelming testosterone in this place, hoping a male moniker would protect her from a layoff, outsourcing, termination. It hadn’t. She spoke through her teeth. “It’s not even Vic. It’s Tori. Want me to spell it for you?”

“No need to get defensive.” Mark read something on his smartphone. At twenty-five, he was one of the “older” men on payroll. “This isn’t personal. It’s business. Companies have to evolve to stay ahead of the game. If you want your severance, you’ll have to sign the papers.”

“Not without my attorney reviewing them first.”

Jennifer screwed up her mouth. “How long will that take?”

Until Tori found a lawyer she could afford. In this hyper-inflated area, that might mean months. “As long as it does. I’m not signing anything without legal representation.”

Mark worked the keyboard on his phone. “No signature, no dough. Simple as that. Let us know what you decide.”

On cue, two security officers strode inside, both middle-aged, jaws clenched like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. Dressed in matching blue uniforms, they flanked Tori for her last walk to the lobby before this place spit her out.

Alone. Unwanted. Unappreciated.

Old.

In five days, she’d turn forty. An unforgiveable sin in tech.

****

Tori guzzled coffee at JR’s Java, a local coffeehouse, and checked her smartphone. Out of two thousand LinkedIn contacts, only ten had answered her buoyant emails. None could help her find new and interesting employment opportunities, nor had a single industry friend responded to her thinly veiled appeals.

Being unemployed was worse than having an STD.

Two full days had passed since UniAstro had axed her. She’d sent resumes to every major, midsized, and minor company in the vicinity and called numerous search firms. Her professional background, current certifications, and Stanford degree impressed, until the hiring managers and recruiters learned what year she’d graduated.

Google searches weren’t a miracle. They were a freaking curse. Even if she’d gone the Botox and facelift route, which she wouldn’t, nothing could erase a person’s history on the Net.

Edgy, she brought up attorneys. No matter her severance, she couldn’t sign the insulting separation papers without someone telling her she had no choice.

Loud laughter exploded from behind. Lucky them. They probably had jobs. Possibly her old one. Mark hadn’t fooled her. Eliminating a position was corporate-speak for wanting someone younger,

She scrolled through the area yellow pages.

A leather-and-tobacco fragrance wafted close, mingling with the café’s rich coffee and sweet pastry scents. Someone in black jeans lingered at her table.

Curious, Tori lifted her face.

His easy smile carved a dimple in his left cheek, shadowed with beard. “Doing okay?”

She wasn’t certain how to answer. Kindness shone in his gray eyes fringed with long, dark lashes. Ruggedly handsome, he belonged in an ad for luxury cars or executive services, not here holding a coffee pot. “Ah yeah, I’m fine. Thanks.” She lifted her empty cup for a refill.

Her hand trembled. Not entirely from too much caffeine. He radiated effortless charm, the kind a guy owns when he’s comfortable in his own skin. Whatever life circumstances had reduced him to work as a barista, he didn’t seem to mind. By her guestimate, he was in his early to mid-forties, his thick black hair combed back, faint silver streaks on the temples. An out-of-work actor or model? For some reason, he seemed familiar even though she’d never noticed him here before. Of course, she’d always been glued to her phone or tablet.

He glanced at her jittery fingers. “Sure you want more?”

“Please. Going to be a long night.”

“Boss keeping you busy, huh?”

His rumbling voice soothed more than she should have allowed. He’d folded the sleeves on his black shirt, revealing powerful forearms dusted with dark hair. “I wish.”

“Seriously?” Chuckling, he filled her cup. “You want more work than you already have? You must be some employee.”

“I wish.” Tears filled her eyes. Embarrassed, she blinked them away. She hadn’t cried since her mom died.

“Hey, are you all right?”




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