Series: Eastside Brewery, #1
on March 13, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Buy on Amazon
A gangster hiding from his past. A single mom fighting for her future. Can she show this bad boy the man he’s meant to be?
My name is Salvador Rosas. Back in the barrio, my past is written on the walls: ESHB. Short for East Side Hollenbeck, my father’s gang—my gang. Hell, it’s a family tradition, one that sent both my brothers away. They used to call me “Ghost” because I haunted people’s dreams. Now I’ve got nothing going for me except a hipster gringo mentoring me in a new career. An ex-con making craft beer? No mames.
Still, people in this neighborhood look out for one another. That’s how I became Vanessa Velasco’s unwelcome tenant. Chiquita pero picosa. She’s little, but with curves so sweet they’re dangerous. I remember Vanessa from the old days, the straight-A student with big plans. Plans that were derailed by another kid stupid enough to think he was bulletproof. Now Vanessa knows better than to believe in empty promises. There’s fire in her . . . and if I touch her, I might get burned.
I’m trying everything I can to go straight. But when East Side Hollenbeck comes calling, I might have to risk it all to find out if there’s a future for Vanessa and me. Because she’s the only one who can quench my thirst for something real.
The ride starts with a burst of music like a jack-in-the-box. We glide backward and over a couple of times. The Ferris wheel stops to let other passengers on. At the very top, our carriage swings back and forth before it goes still.
Now I can see my neighborhood from a different viewpoint, high above. The lights of the carnival are bright and beautiful. The smells of tacos, hot dogs, and popcorn fill my nose. People pack the church parking lot. Cars line the street, and in the surrounding houses, lights in the windows show where families are talking or watching TV or having dinner.
“How are you doing?” I ask.
“I’m all right.”
She’s looking at the same things I am. I wonder if she is seeing the same details. I stroke her hair and take another risk. “So what do you think?”
“Starting something with me?”
She takes a deep breath but doesn’t say anything.
“What are your doubts?” I say.
“Are you kidding?” She snorts. “You’re seriously asking me that?”
I laugh a little. “Okay, well. Besides the obvious.”
“You have your own life. I have mine. You’re trying to rebuild from the ground up. I’m trying to secure my daughter’s future. We’re heading in different directions.”
She isn’t wrong. Life has disappointed her in such deep and cruel ways, I don’t blame her for protecting herself. But even as she tells me this—the truth about how we’re not right for each other—I feel how right it is to talk to her, to hold her hand, to show her who I am. “I have an idea,” I say. “Probation.”
“I’m only around for two months, right?”
“Spend those two months with me.” I look into her eyes. “I want to be with you, Vanessa.”
“I’ll be gone before I have a chance to disappoint you.” When the words leave my mouth, I try to ignore how pathetic they sound. “We’re adults, not dumb kids. We won’t lose our heads.” I run my fingers through her silky hair. “I swear to God, every time I look at you, I feel . . .” I reach for the most honest word I can find. “Thirsty.”
Vanessa says nothing but shivers under my touch.
I hear a distant car alarm, a barking dog, and kids laughing. Dull orange streetlights shine on the trees in the park. I can see the inky black lake through their branches. Next to me, Vanessa is warm and alive. She’s letting me hold her and I can feel her breathing. I take a deep breath and think, This is home. For better or worse, this is my home, it is me and I am it.
“It’s nice up here, ain’t it?” I whisper.
She nods. “Yeah.”
“What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking you’re crazy.”
“That’s because I am.”
Those dark eyes burn into me, full of challenge. “Tell me something.”
“Are you sleeping around? Am I just another ride in your carnival? Ferris wheel, bumper cars, carousel?”
I smile. “Say yes to this, and you’ll be the only one I’ll ride.”
She snorts. “Jackass.”
“What else do you want to know?”
“Prisons are filthy. Have you been tested?”
She’s right to ask. “Once when I got out. Once last May.”
“Last May? Why?”
“The last woman I slept with had some kind of scare and asked me to get tested a week after we were together, so I did. All clear. I haven’t touched anyone since.” Not true—I touch myself, but I leave that part out.
“You haven’t had sex in three months? Why not?” She looks at me skeptically.
I shrug. “No time. Extra shifts, more work. I need that money.” I brush my thumb
against her jaw. “You?”
Her smile fades a little. “It’s embarrassing.”
Vanessa Velasco, embarrassed? In front of me? “The things I’ve done versus the things you’ve done?” I say. “You have nothing to be embarrassed about.”
She rests her cheek against my shoulder and closes her eyes. “I’m ashamed to say it out loud.”
“Say it, and see how you feel afterward.”
She takes a deep breath. “Five years.”
I blink. What? How could a fine-ass woman in the prime of her life, who looks like a walking wet dream only hotter, live celibate as a nun for five years? I’m speechless. Then I realize—it’s Sleepy. She’s been faithful to her dead husband. A sudden ache in my heart surprises me, and I say the first word that pops into my mind: “Fuck.”
“I’ve had lots of opportunities,” she says softly, “but none of them felt right.”
I can understand that. “How about me? Do I feel right?”
When she looks up at me, the lights of the Ferris wheel sparkle in her dark eyes like stars. Her voice is so soft the wind almost takes it away. “Two months?”
I reach forward and cup her cheek in my hand. Her skin is soft. I trace the tip of my thumb across her cheekbone, back and forth. “Two months.” Her skin is delicate, smooth and brown—even darker than mine.
“My kid can’t know there’s anything going on between us.”
“Don’t play with me. Don’t lie to me. When it’s done it’s done.”
She takes my hand. “Two months.”
We’re quiet for a long time. The lights flash pink and green.
“I’m going to make my move now,” I whisper.
I close my eyes and hold my breath. When we kiss at last, I’m surprised that what we share is quiet, shy, and polite. Vanessa’s mouth is small but her lips are full and firm. She tastes like cinnamon and sugar from her churro. I can feel the grit of a grain of sugar on the
corner of her lips and quickly, I lick it away with the tip of my tongue.
When I do this, a sound like a sigh comes from her throat. I put my hand on the back of her neck and pin her gently against me. I’m hot—hot all over. She’s trembling. I can feel her hands rise up and rest on my chest. She’s rubbing me through the cotton of my T-shirt. I flex a little into her palms, gratified when I hear her make that same sound again. She likes touching me. Good.
When Vanessa opens her mouth just a tiny crack, I swear invisible sunlight washes over me, bathing me with her heat. I’m under her spell. The kiss is so good, we don’t stop. We keep going even when the Ferris wheel begins spinning again. The ride picks up speed and a cool wind blows over us. The metal carriages creak and groan, the tin-can jack-in-the-box song repeats itself. My eyes are still closed, so I seem to feel, hear, and taste everything at a higher level. Whether I’m dizzy because of the ride or because of Vanessa, I don’t know. I don’t care.
All of a sudden the carnival is a wonderland again, and I’m lost in it, lost in its pleasures.
Thirsty is my first read from Mia Hopkins and overall I enjoyed the storyline and look forward for more not only in this series but more from the author.
I will start off by admitting that it started off extremely slow for me and it took well into the second half of the book for the storyline to pick up and capture my full attention. I say this not to deter people away from the book but to encourage anyone who might feel the same way at first to keep going.
Salvador Rosas fell into a gang as a young boy . When he was nineteen, his criminal activity put him in prison. Five years later, he’s out and trying to make an honest living. He’s working two part time jobs and trying to lay low but it’s known that you can’t ever escape that life, right? When the gang finally does come back into his life, he ends up risking the one good thing he has going for him. The beautiful woman who is stealing his heart.
Vanessa Velasco’s been around the neighbor and the gang scene. She knows how it works and she’s already got a past with one man who was in it. When Sal shows up in her Grandmother’s garage, she wants nothing to do with him but he slowly starts to break down her defenses and she starts to see what a good man he really is. But the past always catches up to you.
My absolute favorite thing about Thirsty isn’t the two main characters. It’s the Grandmother. Oh my god, I couldn’t get enough of her. She’s blunt with zero filter. She’s not afraid to talk about anything, including her or her granddaughter’s sex life. Her direct dialogue had me laughing so hard.
Thirsty is ultimately about the possibility of getting a second chance to better your life. Love comes along with that but what had me rooting the most was for Sal to end up with a straight, narrow and happy life. Free from the gang. Free from violence. The beauty in the story is not only about the person working to change their life but allowing others that believe in them love and guide them along the way. If you are looking for a story that will lift your spirits by the end of it, then Thirsty is the book for you.