“A powerful, honest look at love as both a motivation and a risk.”—The Washington Post
“Heartrending, raw and beautiful.”—USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog
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 Rosas brothers will return in Trashed!
Praise for Thirsty
“Thirsty held me captivated from its first page to its last with its heartrending, raw and beautiful story. . . . Mia Hopkins sublimely blends blunt realism with romantic fantasy and sharp-eyed social observation and delivers a happy-ever-after that is much more than a neat conclusion to a love story. . . . A singular reading experience.”—USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog
“Thirsty is a brilliant read. There are good writers, and then there are writers that just leave you in awe. And Mia Hopkins has definitely left me in awe after reading this novel.”—Hypable
This standalone novel includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
You want a hero.
Before we start, you should know—I’m not him.
I’m not your hero.
A hero is a Prince Charming, a firefighter, a cowboy. He’s handsome and perfect. He’s probably white. He has it together.
None of that is me.
For example, would a hero be standing barefoot and half-asleep on a sidewalk in his chones, holding all his belongings in a backpack? Because that’s what I’m doing right now. Staring at the scene in front of me.
“You lying, no good son of a b----!”
Regina tosses another drawer full of clothes out the second-story bedroom window. The clothes are followed by a wrestling trophy, which falls gently on a pile of T-shirts.
“You’re a liar!”
Next, a PlayStation controller, followed by a grip of games. Some land on the grass and others on the concrete driveway with an ugly crash.
“You wanna live with that puta? Fine! Go be with that whore! Go!”
The neighbors are coming out now. Some of them are holding coffee mugs. Kids in pajamas appear, pointing and laughing.
I might be the one standing here in my underwear, but luckily I’m not the one they’re looking at. I put my bag down and pull out a clean T-shirt and basketball shorts. I get dressed, right here in the street.
My buddy Spider stands on the lawn. He’s shouting up at his old lady like some kind of opposite-day Romeo. “Regina! Listen to me!”
“Go to hades.”
And down comes the PlayStation itself. It doesn’t land on the grass or on a soft pile of clothing, but on the driveway. It crashes nasty, parts flying, and all I can see are dollar signs, floating away like little butterflies.
Oof. Ice cold.
This goes on for a few minutes. Some of the kids are pulled back inside, some neighbors get in their cars and drive off. The neighborhood chismosas are all out, though—gossipy old ladies, grandmas and tias. And they’re not going anywhere until this plays out. They’re looking for a fresh scandal. This is good stuff.
I sit on the curb and get my socks and shoes on. I tie the laces, rub my face, and fold my arms. It’s August, so the cool morning air is already heating up.
Spider is wearing shorts and a wifebeater shirt. He’s halfway between pissed and heartbroken, his emotions swinging back and forth. Dumb. I told him not to sleep around on Regina. I told him that she knew, that she’d get fed up with him, but did he listen to me? Does anyone?
“Forget you, and your no-good friends,” she shouts.
I raise my eyebrows. Wait a second. Is she referring to me?
“Hey, that’s not fair,” I murmur.
I’ve been crashing on Spider and Regina’s couch since I got out of prison six months ago, but I’ve been a good houseguest. Regina’s even told me so. I clean their living room every day, bathroom and kitchen too. Regina and Spider have three kids and between the five of them, before I got there, the house looked like a hurricane hit a rat’s nest.
Every evening before I’d leave for work, she’d cook for all of us and I’d do the dishes without being asked. Once she even told me, “You’re gonna make a woman super happy someday, Ghost.”
I look down at the sidewalk. Something is written there. I clear away a little of the grit with my hand. I see it, scratched into the surface. Old graffiti, sixty, seventy years old. A cross with three lines. Pachuco cross. Below it, four letters. ESHB, East Side Hollenbeck.
My grandfather’s gang. My father’s gang. My gang.
“Regina, don’t be this way!”
I look up. Spider is begging now. Begging, in front of everyone. He has it bad for this woman. Why he couldn’t keep his verga in his pants for her, I’ll never know. Like a lot of homeboys, he has a problem with the females, especially the ones who are hot for gangsters. In this neighborhood, there are a lot of those.
When she slams the window shut halfway through his speech, I know the conversation is over, at least for now. I get up, stretch, and yawn. I had been asleep for only a half hour when all this drama started up. I’ve been working all night. I’m so tired, I’m not even worked up. I should be. Now that Spider got us thrown out of his house, I’ve got nowhere to go.