We're super excited to participate in the blog tour for Cari Waits
(aka Lisa Henry) who's bringing us
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
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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!
Today I’d like to share an excerpt from Gamble Everything with you. Gamble Everything was the first Cari Waites story I wrote, and it was published as a serial on Amazon. Since then it’s been expanded, and re-edited, so even if you’ve read it before I hope you’ll give it another chance.
Gamble Everything is the story of eighteen-year-old Danny, who is sold to Peter Archer to pay for his father’s gambling debts. Danny thinks he’s knows exactly what he’s getting into. Of course he’s totally wrong. Things are a lot more twisted than he thinks.
This is the story I basically threw every kink at that I could imagine, just to see what stuck.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Take off your shirt.”
This isn’t even a nice place. The carpet is worn, the lighting is dim, and it stinks of stale cigarette smoke and alcohol. But I guess my dad was banned from the nice places years ago. Now he’s about to be banned from the shit places, as well.
My dad is an inveterate gambler. He can’t help himself. Once, when I was eleven, I locked his bedroom door to keep him from going out, just like he’d begged me, but I didn’t count on his sheer force of will, or on the sheer weight of him against a flimsy interior door. I’ve still got the scar on my chin from the stitches; Dad took me to the hospital and left me to get seen to while he headed for the nearest bank of poker machines.
We don’t talk about the cost, usually. We talk around it. About how we don’t have enough to cover school fees, or the power bill or, more than once, groceries. He tells me how good I am to put up with him. My mom didn’t. She walked out when I was eight, but she had her own problems. She OD’d when I was nine.
Right up until now, at least, I could say I wasn’t as fucked up as my parents.
Right up until now.
My dad owes this place twelve thousand dollars. That’s rounded down, because they’re generous like that. Except my dad doesn’t have twelve thousand dollars. We could hardly afford the bus fare here.
Which is where I come in, I guess.
Which is why I’m standing in a dingy office of a can’t-be-legal casino, and the man who runs the place has just told me to take my shirt off.
I could have walked away before now, but I didn’t. I don’t owe my dad shit, not really, but I still love him. I love him, even though I hate what he’s done to us.
“Take off your shirt, Dennis,” Mr. Carne says.
“It’s Danny.” I don’t know why I bother to correct him.
He shrugs like it doesn’t matter, and he’s right.
My fingers fumble with the buttons on the only decent dress shirt I own. I shrug it off. I’m okay to look at, I guess, if you like your boys on the skinny side. It’s amazing what living on the poverty line your whole life can do for your figure. Mr. Carne looks like he could stand to miss a few meals.
“How old are you?” he asks me.
“Eighteen last week.”
“Legal.” He taps his pen against his desk. “You ever been fucked?”
“No.” My voice is shakier than I want.
Mr. Carne looks me up and down. “You’d better get used to it then.”
I guess I’m hired.
Beside me, my dad starts to sob—huge, choking gulps. I don’t know if it’s with horror or relief.
I stand there, my shirt hanging from my trembling fingers, while Mr. Carne signs off on my dad’s debt. “You’re banned, Clyde. For good, this time.”
My dad snuffles.
“Danny here will be done in a month or two.” Mr. Carne smirks at my dad. “You’ll get him back in one piece.”
My dad nods, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. He disgusts me. Everything about this place disgusts me, myself included.
Mr. Carne turns his smirk on me. “More or less.”
Am I supposed to say good-bye to my dad now? If this is a tearful farewell, it’s all one-sided. I’m too numb. My dad looks at me, and I suddenly see how old he is, how thin, his face covered in tears and snot. It’s the gratitude shining in his eyes that sickens me the most. He opens his mouth to say something.
“Don’t,” I tell him, because whatever it is, I don’t want to hear it.
Maybe I should have just let them shoot him in the kneecaps, or the head, or whatever. He told me he wasn’t worth this, and I’m fairly fucking certain that’s the truth. But every time I try to hate him, that voice in the back of my head pipes up: But he’s Dad. I can’t hate him. I wish I could.
“Well, then,” Mr. Carne says, once it’s apparent there’ll be no heartrending scene. He picks up the phone on his desk. “We’re done.”
I stare at my feet, at the frayed carpet and the old cigarette burns.
A few moments later the door opens, and a muscle-bound bruiser in a black T-shirt two sizes too small enters. He clamps a hand on my shoulder. “I don’t want no trouble, okay, kid?”
“Okay,” I tell the oversized cliché.
He turns me around and steers me toward the door.
“Wait!” my dad exclaims.
Muscles pushes me through the door.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’ve changed my mind!” my dad yells out behind us. “Please, I’ve changed my mind!”
And isn’t that just typical of an addict? They’re always fucking sorry once they’re okay.
The office door closes.
About the author:
Lisa Henry 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.
You can find them both on Lisa's blog, or on Twitter.
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!
Promotional post. Materials provided by the publisher.