<—- I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I read this novella “prequel” (which is over 100 pages!!) this week and I must say… it is BIG on intensity and really packs a punch. Karina Halle’s “On Every Street” (prequel to her hit “Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1)“) will be out within the next few days and I highly recommend you guys JUMP ON IT!!!!
If this is the “prequel” should you read it first, or Sins & Needles first?
Hrmmm… good question. I read Sins first (since it was released first) and enjoyed it immensely. But… I had a certain feeling about a character in that book. A focus-shift. And this prequel fulfilled a need and I was thrilled that she “went there”! I loved Sins and Needles, but this one… it made me desperate for more.
I even told Karina:
I’m jealous of those that get read this one first, and then get into Sins & Needles anticipating more… after this major revelation.
What a character revelation on both parts! If you decide to read the prequel before Sins & Needles, I don’t think it will hurt at all. You’ll just experience “Sins” a bit differently than those of us that read Sins first. Let’s just say… you might be team someone else… and going into Sins, you *may* have a different focus. I’m a sucker for the underdog. The anti-hero. The bad guy. *shrug*
So yeah… it’s not out yet, but when it does come out, grab it and enjoy a few intense hours of passionate, borderline-crazy love. So good! But then again, if you haven’t read Sins yet… what are you waiting for!!??
Oh and here’s the teaser (below – it’s a substantial teaser) from the prequel and there are NO spoilers here. Everyone can read it.
I’d worked as a waitress for a few months in Colorado once, at this small mom and pop-style Italian restaurant. I actually did some bartending for them on the weekends, which meant I knew how to make a few drinks, even though I was underage. Of course, my resume now said I had worked at a whole slew of places that didn’t exist, with Gus acting as a fake reference for when the time came. But Eden White got lucky with Hogan’s Heroes. It seemed all I needed to work there was breasts, ass and sass.
It was a bit intimidating at first. The other bartenders were wearing mini-skirts and super high heels, both things I could only dream of wearing because of my scarring and some nerve damage in my leg, and they seemed to know everything. They poured their drinks fast and neat, knew the names of almost every customer, and handled the men’s ogling with ease.
Me, well I messed up a lot of the first drinks I got and did a silent prayer of thanks every time someone ordered something as easy as a beer or a glass of wine. My feet, clad in wedge boots, were sore after two hours and I kept blushing and stammering awkwardly whenever some rowdy man tried to hit on me. Yeah, I had been hit on a lot before, but there was a reason I avoided clubs and bars.
Thankfully, as the hours ticked past and last call was approaching, I sort of got the hang of things. The good thing about having the men lusting after you like a bunch of drunk idiots was that they never noticed if you messed up and put Smirnoff in their top shelf gin martini, or skipped the Triple Sec in the margarita. They just wanted to get drunk and then they wanted you.
“Hey sugar tits,” I heard someone slur from behind me while I was putting cash in the register.
I rolled my eyes and took in a deep breath. I turned around to see some slobbering, ruddy-faced douche in typical collegiate gear: a burgundy and white striped polo shirt, light jeans. His hair was blonde and spikey. His eyes were glazed, complimenting his jerk face.
He was leaning over the bar, waving his hand, like he was trying to grab at me. It made me uncomfortable and I backed up till my back hit the register.
“Can I help you?” I asked, deciding to ignore the sugar tits comment. He had a few buddies beside him who were chugging back beers and laughing like morons. At the other end of the bar, the other bartenders, Julie and Deanne, were busy helping customers. I eyed the clock on the far wall. Last call wouldn’t come soon enough.
“Yeah I want another drink and your number.”
“You’re not getting both,” I said quickly, remembering what the manager, Steve, had told me about cutting off people who were too drunk. Hogan’s Heroes attracted the rowdies from Thursday thru Sunday, but it was still a respectable joint where lots of regulars came to relax after work. I was fully in my right to refuse him and was expected to do so if people got out of hand.
The guy’s face grew redder. “What? You can’t refuse me a drink!”
Now his buddies had stopped laughing and were looking at me with a dumb expression, which wasn’t too far from their usual one.
I glanced down the bar again but Julie and Deanne were still busy. I was going to have to handle this on my own.
“I didn’t say I was refusing you a drink. I’m refusing you my number.” I tried to hide the shaking in my voice. It was ridiculous how out of my element I felt. Conning, sure, sometimes I had nerves of steel. But bartending? Dealing with drunk dickheads? I was shaking like a leaf.
“Listen, bitch,” the guy said harshly, leaning even more now, his hand no longer reaching for me but for the bottles of alcohol underneath the bar. “Just because you’re new here, doesn’t mean you’re too good for me. I’ve been coming here for years.”
I swallowed hard and straightened up. “And I’ve been here for a few hours. But guess what, now you’re not getting a drink, either. You’re cut off. Funny how that goes.”
“Aw what?!” one of his douchey friends said, spilling beer onto the counter. “Way to go Tom! You’ve pissed off our bartender.”
Tom grabbed a bottle of vodka in his hands and brought it up to him. I reacted, reaching forward for it but he snatched it away, shoving me back with one hand. He poured the drink in his empty glass and slammed it back.
“Hey, you fuck!” I yelled, forgetting any pretenses. “That’s stealing!”
He wiped his disgusting mouth and reached into his pocket. He took out a wad of twenties and threw them over the bar and onto the ground.
“It’s not stealing, I’m just helping myself because the service here sucks!” he yelled back, pouring himself another glass.
“I’m reporting you!” I said, finally snatching the vodka away from him.
“Oh yeah, good luck with that,” he said laughing. “No one’s going to back you up.” His friends started laughing with him, slapping him on the back like he’d just said the most clever thing in the world.
Tom slammed back the other glass of vodka, then slid it down the counter, away from me. “Thanks for the drink, sugar tits.”
Oh, I was mad. I was so mad. And what made it worse was that Tom was still standing there across from me, watching me with morbid lust, like I was his next meal.
“Excuse me,” I heard a familiar voice say. A voice that made my insides fizz like happy champagne, bursting away the anger. Maybe the wrong voice to make me feel that way, but there was no denying it.
Someone tapped on Tom’s shoulder and the giant slowly turned around. There was Javier, just behind him. Compared to the frat boys, Javier wasn’t very tall, maybe 5’10” while the rest of them were over six feet. They looked like ogres, blundering beasts, while he remained cool and collected, lithe like a lizard. He shot me a quick look with those sharp eyes of his and gave me a barely perceptible nod, before fastening his gaze on Tom.
“Excuse yourself,” Tom said to him, obviously immune to his golden eyes. What he was doing here, I had no idea. The last thing I wanted was for him—for my mark above all things—to catch me doing my legitimate job, fumbling fruitlessly, and looking like I’d been covered in smoke and booze all evening. But that didn’t matter because here he was and the look he was giving Tom, the look the dumb idiot wasn’t picking up on, was one of the deadliest things I’d ever seen.
Javier smiled politely, no teeth, and gently pressed his palms together. “There seemed to be a bit of a problem over here.”
Tom snorted. “There’ll be a problem if you don’t get out of my face.”
His smile tightened. I watched him, utterly fascinated.
“I’m afraid, I can’t get out of your face. I’m drawn to fucking assholes like yourself, like moths to a flame.”
My eyes widened. One of Tom’s friends let out a low whistle, as if this was a regular occurrence, their nightly entertainment.
“You’re nothing but a piece of shit immigrant,” Tom said, his veins pulsing on his reddened forehead. “Now fuck off.”
I expected Javier to explode at that ethnic slur, but he did nothing. It was like he didn’t even hear it.
He spoke, calmly and smoothly. “I just wanted you to know that I’m here to back this woman up, since you seemed so adamant that it couldn’t be done. I’d happily help her get you banned from this place. Didn’t your mother ever teach you some manners? Or was she too busy screwing your dog?”
“Fuck you,” Tom said, shoving Javier backward. Javier barely moved, just dusted off the front of his white shirt like he had dandruff.
“This is an expensive shirt,” Javier said with one eyebrow raised.
“You’ll be glad I’m not curb-stomping your face,” Tom said, taking a step closer, spittle flying out of his mouth while he talked. Julie was now at my side, eying the fight that was about to break out. I wanted her to get Steve, to put a stop to this before it got started, but part of me wanted to see what this man was capable of. I wanted to know exactly who I was dealing with.
Javier lowered his chin, staring up at him venomously. He watched him for a few moments, long enough for the tension to become palpable, a living, seeking thing that coated us all.
“What the fuck you staring at?” Tom cried out, his fist now raised. But it was shaking and so was his voice. He didn’t know what to make of Javier and now, in his drunken stupor, he was finally scared.
Javier kept on staring, giving his lips a lick before shooting a glance in my direction. “You need to apologize to this woman. For calling her a very misogynistic name. And then for taking the bottle of vodka from behind the counter and helping yourself. After she cut you off.” He raised his voice over the last phrase, enough that Julie heard it. I could feel her eyes on me, but I couldn’t tear mine away from him.
Tom looked completely dumbfounded.
Javier smiled quickly. “What, you don’t know what misogynistic means? It means I’m about to break your nose.”
At that threat, Tom lunged forward with his fists primed, ready to clock Javier in the head. I gasped out loud like some damsel in distress but my worry was unwarranted.
Javier moved like a cat. One minute I was sure he was a goner, the next, he was springing upward with his palm open. It connected with Tom’s nose, shattering the cartilage with one quick and nasty hit. Blood and pain exploded everywhere, everywhere except Javier’s pristine shirt.
Tom cried out, clutching his face in agony, doubled over like a dying grizzly. Javier bent over him. “That doesn’t sound like an apology to me,” he teased him.
He looked up at his friends who were standing around with their mouths open.
“Perhaps one of you can make him apologize. Are all of you misogynistic dogs as well? Huh?” He wrung out his hands.
They exchanged a nervous glance with each other, no one wanting to be on the receiving end of Javier’s palm. In the back of the room I could see Steve approaching, shoving people out of the way. In the last few seconds, quite the crowd had gathered.
“What’s going on here?” Steve bellowed over the noise.
Javier ignored him, still focused on the frat boys. “Well. Do you all want to be banned from here or what?”
Finally one of the guys kicked Tom lightly in the side and hissed, “Tom, come on bro, just apologize.”
Tom made a moaning sound and slowly got to his feet. His hands still covered his face, the collar of his shirt stained with blood. I spied one of his eyes under his fingers, watering like hell, and it looked right at me.
“This is your last chance,” Javier whispered to him, like a confidant. He didn’t need to add an “or else” to the end of it.
Tom muttered a totally dejected, “I’m sorry” just as Steve came up to them. He looked Tom up and down, then glared at Javier.
“What happened?” Steve asked. He looked to me and Julie.
I found my voice and pointed at Tom. “I cut this guy off because he was being drunk and rude to me. He then took the vodka from me anyway and drank it. This man here was sticking up for me.”
“I paid you, you stupid bitch,” Tom wailed. Big mistake. Javier looked ready to bite his head off but Steve beat him to it, grabbing Tom by the collar. Steve was thin and wiry but he obviously knew how to handle the idiots.
“All right buddy, that’s all I needed to hear. You’re banned from here. For good. Your pals too.”
In unison they all cried out in protest while a few people in the crowd clapped and cheered. I guess they had this coming to them for quite some time.
“Do you need me to assist you?” Javier asked Steve, carefully rolling up his sleeves.
Steve eyed him suspiciously. “No, I think you’ve done enough.” He paused before hastily thanking him.
He dragged Tom a few feet and pushed him, his friends following behind, shooting me and Javier sharp looks.
Julie bent over and scooped up the twenties that Tom had littered on the ground. She stuck the sticky wad in my jean pocket and patted it. “Those guys have made this place hell. I’ve never been able to get them banned. You deserve this.”
I smiled awkwardly and looked to Javier who was taking a seat at the bar, wiping down the counter with a napkin. “Well, actually I think this man does.”
She looked between us and gave me a wink. “His drinks are on the house then. And whatever else he wants.”
Then she sashayed down the bar to help Deanne with the remains of the crowd.
“Did you hear that?” I asked him, suddenly feeling nervous as all hell. “Free drinks for you.”
Javier neatly folded up the napkin and stuck it in an empty glass before looking up at me. He waggled his brows. “And whatever else I want.”
Please for the love of God, stop blushing, I told myself. I cleared my throat. “So, what would you like to drink?”
“Aside from you?”
I laughed anxiously. “You can’t drink me.”
He leaned forward, his eyes running up and down my body, causing my skin to heat. “Yes, I believe I can. And I believe I will. But for now, I’ll just have a Bombay and tonic.”
I gulped down his word as they penetrated hotly. This was going far too easy, far too well. I expected to have a challenge in getting to know this man, to get close to him, and here he was coming after me. It made things much easier and much more dangerous, in ways I couldn’t even pinpoint.
I quickly made him his drink, trying hard to look cool and confident as I did so, knowing his eyes were on me the whole time.
I handed over the drink to him, then grabbed a slice of lime as an afterthought, for garnish. I was about to place it on the rim but he reached out for my hand and took the lime out of my fingers. Then, while his eyes held mine, hot and hard, he placed his lips on my fingers and sucked the lime juice off of them. Tingles pricked at me from the inside running from my fingertips to my heart.
My jaw unhinged for a second before I snatched my fingers away from his warm mouth.
“You taste as sweet as I imagined, angel,” he said, his eyes dancing with intensity. “Of course, when I said I’d drink you, I was hoping for a bit more privacy.”
What could I say to that? I couldn’t even find the words. So I switched the subject.
“Thank you, for that.”
“For licking your fingers?”
I smiled wryly, conscious of how wet they still were. I didn’t want to wipe them off. “For saving my ass back there. I…”
“You handled him just fine,” he said quickly. “I didn’t mean to just show up and save anything. You, my angel, don’t need any saving. I just wanted to put the boy in his place. That is all.”
I felt an unwanted thrill at his use of the word “angel” again. Particularly when he put “my” in front of it. His angel. My mark.
“You look like you put a lot of boys in their place,” I remarked, aware that I was skirting dangerous territory.
He shrugged and sipped his drink. “Perhaps I do.”
“So why did you come here?”
He smiled lazily. “I told you. I’m persistent. I don’t like being told no.”
“To be fair,” I said, consciously wiping down the bar and counter so I didn’t look like I was slacking off, “you asked me out on a date for Friday night, not Thursday night. I only said no to your second offer.”
“I hoped I could show you what you were missing.”
“And that is?”
“You’ll find out. I’m planning on staying here until you’re off your shift.”
“You don’t have to do that,” I told him. “I don’t think those boys will be back.”
He lowered his chin. “You are misreading me. I am staying here so I can talk to you. Look at you.” His eyes seemed to lock to a place where my bare neck met my shoulders. “Be with you.”