Last week’s Scenic Sunday highlighted scenes from Thirsty and this week, I’m taking a look back at Trashed, the 2nd book in the Eastside Brewery series. Trashed focuses on the middle Rosas brother, Eddie, who we meet briefly at the end of Thirsty. If the main theme of Sal’s story was about redemption and reinvention, then Eddie’s story is all about rebirth and rejection – that is, rejection of what’s in the past and instead, choosing to look forward.
I highlighted the hell out of this book and Eddie is every bit as engaging and heartbreaking as his older brother. Fresh out of prison, Eddie realizes his faults pretty early on, per this little snippet.
As I stroke her hair, I think about how some people seem to keep their heads on all the time. I’ve never been one of those people. Every now and then my emotions take control, and I let them. Lots of problems in my life come from this one thing.
Eddie, whose nickname is Trouble, is trying to outrun his less than desirable moniker, and understands how his past shaped the choices he made, the choices he was almost forced to make, just in order to survive.
The truth is, I didn’t grow up in a safe environment. Many things could’ve killed me. So I put on muscle. I got scars. I covered them with ink. I grew my own armor, and now I wear it whether I want to or not.
Carmen is the chef he has a one night stand with at the end of Thirsty and then meets again months later when he’s hired as a dishwasher at the same restaurant where she works as a sous chef. An only child living with very traditional parents who still see her as a child in some ways, she is desperate to be treated as an equal, at least by the guy she finds herself attracted to. And when Eddie tries to hide his past from her, the harsh realities of his life, she calls him on it.
Carmen nods slowly. ”So it’s like that?”
”You’re going to make a joke to keep from being real with me?”
”What do you mean?”
Her voice gets edgier. The words come faster. She’s annoyed. ”You call me with your voice shaking. You hang up on me. I come see you and you’ve got a fucking black eye.”
Eddie is both desperate to be the kind of man who deserves a woman like Carmen and resigned to the fact that he could never measure up, leading to this emotionally charged exchange between the two.
“Do you know,” I say slowly, ”what it feels like when everyone has given up on you?”
Carmen says nothing. I place my hand on her head and slowly stroke her smooth, cool hair.
”I hate that feeling. I hate it because I can’t blame them. When I think of the decisions I’ve made, the people I’ve let down, I know I’m trash. I don’t deserve anyone’s forgiveness.”
”Stop it – “
“But you.” I squeeze her. ”You haven’t given up on me yet. Why not?”
She’s quiet for so long I’m afraid she’s fallen asleep. But she lifts her head and looks at me in the dark. ”Because you’re much more – so much more – than the bad things you’ve done, Eddie. They don’t define you.”
To find out how Eddie and Carmen navigate the rocky path to find their HEA, I highly recommend you read this book.