Hi! Welcome to the blog tour for Stealing Innocents by Cari Waites. Who is not-so-secretly Lisa Henry. I’m visiting some of my favourite blogs around the place to talk a bit about writing Stealing Innocents, and sharing some of my influences, ideas, and even an excerpt or two! Don’t forget to leave a comment, for your chance to win prizes!
Crazy is one of the stories in my Stealing Innocents anthology. It was a fun story to write. And by write, I mean, “create a character and then proceed to gaslight the hell out of him.” Drew is a resident at a mental health facility, because he attempted suicide after his brother’s death. Except all is not what it seems at the Pines—possibly—and Dr. Harrow, by day a supportive and sympathetic psychiatrist, is a fixture in Drew’s dreams at night. Dreams where Dr. Harrow is using Drew for sex. If Drew can’t tell dreams from reality, he must really be crazy, right?
Here’s an excerpt:
After Group Therapy, Drew has a private session with Dr. Harrow.
“Can I go home yet?” he asks. He always asks that.
“Do you feel well enough to go home?”
“I don’t know.” That’s almost certainly a lie, and Drew sighs. “No, I guess.”
“No,” Dr. Harrow echoes with a small, sad smile. “But we’re working on it, aren’t we, Drew?”
Were they? Drew doesn’t feel like he’s working on anything at all. He feels like he’s sleepwalking instead.
Dr. Harrow holds his counseling sessions in a small sunlit room off the common room. It isn’t anything at all like his office at his private practice in town—full of leather-bound books, soft carpet, and muted colors. His room at the Pines has a pair of large cane chairs with cushions big enough to sink into, and a potted palm tree by the French windows that look out over the gardens. A watercooler bubbles away in the corner.
“You didn’t say much in group today,” Dr. Harrow says at last. “How are you feeling?”
Therapy is supposed to make things better. Is supposed to somehow lift the heavy weight from Drew: the weight that just makes him want to sleep, and not care, and sleep some more. There are no sharp peaks to Drew’s depression, no manic bursts of energy or activity. Just a blanketing, unending fog.
“We might need to look at readjusting your meds,” Dr. Harrow says. The light flashes on his glasses. “Are you sleeping okay?”
“I don’t know.” Drew pulls the fabric of his sleeve tight over his knuckles. “I have weird dreams.”
“Well, that might be something to do with the meds as well,” Dr. Harrow says, his voice calm and smooth. “What sort of dreams?”
If Drew weren’t so tired he might have burned with embarrassment. Instead, he ducks his head and doesn’t answer.
“Come on, Drew,” Dr. Harrow says with a smile. “I promise, you can’t surprise me.”
Except talking about the nightmares will make them real. Will make them something sick and twisted that Drew has pulled from his own brain to feed some need in him that he didn’t know he had. A need to be degraded in the sickest way possible. And he isn’t sure he wants to share that with Dr. Harrow.
Why aren’t his nightmares about sharks and ghosts and normal things?
“Drew?” Dr. Harrow asks quietly.
Drew shrugs. “Don’t remember.”
“Do you remember them when you wake up in the mornings?”
“Maybe. I don’t know.” Now Drew wishes he’d never mentioned the dreams at all, because Dr. Harrow knows he’s lying. How can he tell if the dreams are weird if he doesn’t remember them?
And he doesn’t want to lie to Dr. Harrow, because Dr. Harrow has always been kind to him. He’s nice. Everyone here is nice, mostly. “I think I’m crazy.”
“I don’t like that word, Drew,” Dr. Harrow reminds him. “You have a mental illness. It’s no different than having a cold, or the measles. You’re sick, and it’s not your fault, and we’re going to make you better, aren’t we?”
“I guess.” Drew is distracted by the play of light on the leaves of the palm. It filters through onto the floor like latticework. He likes Dr. Harrow, but he finds it hard to concentrate on conversation. Words slip by like dust motes on the air. Tiny and insignificant. They’re gone before Drew even notices them. “Can I go now?”
Dr. Harrow smiles and nods. “We’ll talk again tomorrow.”
He makes a note in his folder.
Drew wanders back into the common room. He watches TV. The day passes.
At night, it happens again.
About Stealing Innocents
Those who dare to scratch the surface of ordinary, everyday life may be horrified to find a sick underbelly beneath—a nightmare world populated by villains and victims, predators and prey, where the rules of society no longer apply.
Where you’ll find people like Danny, the boy who sells himself to pay for his father’s gambling debts and ends up in a situation more twisted than he ever imagined. Or Troy, the cop whose obsession with saving a brutalized human trafficking victim turns deadly. Or Drew, the mental patient who begins to suspect his nightly delusions of abuse by his doctor are actually real. Or David, the cuckolded husband who decides the best way to get revenge is to seduce his wife’s barely legal son.
Stealing Innocents is an exploration of our darkest human impulses, where sex is power, love is horror, and there’s no such thing as a happy ending.
This collection contains three edited second editions stories that were previously individually published, plus one all-new story, by Lisa Henry writing as Cari Waites.
About Lisa Henry
Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.
Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
Cari Waites is her much darker alter ego.
Connect with Lisa:
To celebrate the release of Stealing Innocents, Lisa is giving away a $20 Riptide credit and an ebook of your choice of title from Lisa’s backlist. Your first comment at each stop on this tour enters you in the drawing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 16, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. Entries. Follow the tour for more opportunities to enter the giveaway! Don’t forget to leave your email or method of contact so Lisa can reach you if you win!