Categories
Cover reveal Writing samples

#Thanks all! You’re awesome! And if you want to read more… #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

I wanted to thank you first of all for your help. I am overwhelmed by the huge response to my question about the cover to my next book. To tell you the truth I thought I would have a few replies and things would be pretty close for all of them. But I was wrong on both accounts. I got a lot of comments (ah, and the cover artist decided to run his own enquiry in his Facebook page and the results were pretty similar there) and a big majority of people went for the same cover (if only thing were that clear in Spanish politics, for instance… Well…)

So, drumroll… The runaway winner is:

Possible cover 1
Possible cover 1

I must admit I’m toying with the idea of perhaps swapping and changing covers, at least in the e-book version, to see if we were right (although I doubt the numbers would make it a very significant experiment, but nonetheless…)

The story, as I told you, is written, but as is the case with my novels, having to work, correct and publish at the same time in two versions, the English and the Spanish, slows everything down. And summer is not a time to go rushing around, but to take it easy, so I’ll keep you informed.

The audiobook for the prequel to this series should be ready soon, so I hope to bring you news of that (and free codes) in the near future.

Ah, and just in case you want to read a bit more about the story, I’ve published the prologue and the first draft chapter in Wattpad, here. Go and visit if you have the time.

Thanks very much for your help. And you know the drill, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Categories
New books Writing samples

#Bookteaser Escaping Psychiatry 2. And any suggestions for a cover? #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

As you know I published recently, and I shared here (check here for full links) the prequel to my psychological/suspense thriller series Escaping Psychiatry and I mentioned I was working on the draft of the next story in the series.

I’m still working at it (and translating it), but I’ve started thinking about covers, and I have no  ideas. I’m not sure sharing the prologue will help you much (the novel has a bit of a complicated story line… but I don’t want to give too much away yet) but just in case something jumps at you… here it goes…

Thanks to Unsplash.com for their free photos
Thanks to Unsplash.com for their free photos

Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies

Prologue

“We have a very peculiar case in our hands. I thought you might find it interesting. And we could do with some help,” Dave Dean said.

“What is so peculiar about the case?” Mary Miller asked. “What makes you think you need a psychiatrist?”

“The guys are calling it ‘the case of the swapped bodies’, so you can imagine it’s a bit odd.”

“It sounds like one of Sherlock Holmes’s cases,” she said, trying to hide her amusement.

“If only…”

“Tell me more…”

“I can do better.  I’ll send you a file. Encrypted, for security reasons, but you know what to do.”

“OK. And what should I do with it?”

“Just read it. And send me a message or call me when you’re done.” Dave ended the call without a word of goodbye. Mary wondered for a moment about her relationship with the man, a few years younger than her, but then heard the ping of a new e-mail and went to check the file. And all thoughts about Dave Dean or any other matter went clean out of her head.

I know it isn’t much to go on, but I promise to try and work on a description and bring you that. I want it to relate closely to the other two covers in the series, but I’m not sure how that will work out. Just in case you need a reminder:

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Thanks so much for reading, and please, like, share, if you have any ideas, I’m open to suggestions, and if you haven’t checked the prequel, don’t forget to CLICK!

 

Categories
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings FREE Writing samples

#Free Last Chapter of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

This is the last week when I’m sharing the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry. Yes! We’ve got to the last chapter! Although  I have the draft of the next story in the series, I’m not going to punish you with it yet but I’ll be catching up on reviews, life and other projects…

First… A reminder. I finally published the prequel and it’s FREE, hopefully in most places by now . (If not, please report to Amazon adding the link to one of the other sites, as they need to be informed of links in each place it seems. I have reported links in the UK but they’re taking their time. Otherwise I’m happy to send it to you personally.)

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret

How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.

Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.

If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.
Here you can check a preview live:

AMAZON (e-book)      KOBO    NOOK    APPLE  SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY

And without further ado, here is Chapter 8

8.     The Truth

As part of her ongoing training, Mary moved to a different job, and although it was only a few miles from where she lived, it involved some adjustments and getting used to a new routine. It was also a busy job and she didn’t have much time to think about anything else. When her phone rang at 6:30 one morning, she jumped out of bed, thinking she was on-call. Then she remembered she wasn’t and wondered who’d be calling her so early.

“Hi, Mary. I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

“Phil! I thought it was a call from work.”

“Are you on-call?”

“No, but it took me a while to remember that. Not many people call me at this time of the morning. Is anything wrong?”

“Eh… No, no. Nothing like that. Are you following the trial? Fenton’s?”

“Not closely. I read a bit about it and I saw something in the news, but I haven’t paid it that much attention. I’ve changed jobs recently, and it’s always a bit hectic. How is it going?”

“It’s all very awkward. Lance went to work for the DA’s office and is sitting at the prosecution table. He hasn’t opened his mouth but it’s unnerving. Mr Wright tried to talk the judge into throwing him out, but Lance’s name wasn’t on any of the previous depositions and he wasn’t listed officially. She—the judge—warned the DA that she’d not only dismiss Lance but would throw out the trial on a technicality if they used any privileged information they should not have had access to. But it has opened the trial right up.”

“It sounds quite tough.”

“Well, I don’t think they have a case. There’s plenty of evidence of Green’s deranged behaviour, and Fenton always tried to do the right thing.”

‘Yeah, right,’ Mary thought. “So, when do you expect it to finish?”

“One can never be precise in these situations, but I imagine Friday. That’s why I was phoning you. Could you take the Friday off and come? Perhaps you could come on Thursday evening and stay over the weekend, if you can escape. Percy suggested you might want to be present, and I think it’s a great idea. Especially if you might become an expert witness at some point in the future. People always think they know how it is because they watch TV programs and movies, but it isn’t like that.”

“I’m not working this weekend. I’ll try to see if I can get Friday off. I’d like to see the resolution of the case. I have the feeling it will be interesting.”

“You’ll probably be disappointed, but we can do something nice over the weekend, and I’m sure that Ryan would love to see you again.”

“Oh, Phil! Stop that!”

“Only joking!” He laughed. “Give me a call! And have a good day!”

Mary managed to get a day off, and the doctor who was on call on Friday agreed to keep an eye on her cases. She phoned Phil to confirm she was going, and on Thursday, as arranged, he went to pick her up at the train station. As they were riding in a taxi, Mary asked, “So, will tomorrow be the last day, then?”

“Very likely. It’s their turn to question Fenton’s agent tomorrow morning. And after that…well, that’s it. Closings and then up to the jury. We might not hear the verdict tomorrow, but I don’t expect it will be long.”

“And how has it gone so far?”

“Well, other than the evidence that Fenton was very forceful when he defended himself, there isn’t anything else against him. There have been plenty of witnesses that have talked about Green’s behaviour and how he had been harassing Fenton non-stop for months.”

Mary was quiet for a while. “I always imagined that the real protagonist of the novel, the real David Collins, whatever his true name is, would have turned up.”

“What for?”

“Well, it would have given even more strength to the story that Green wasn’t well and his suspicions were unfounded.”

“Perhaps he doesn’t think there’s any danger that Fenton will get into serious trouble. Self-defence. And, if he’s such a private person, perhaps he’s out of reach of the media.”

Mary shook her head. “Unlikely. The case has been going on for a long time. And it’s everywhere. Anyway, just wondering.”

Next morning they went to court. Percy and Steve sat at the defence table with Fenton. Phil took Mary’s arm and made her sit next to him on the bench behind them. Ryan appeared a few minutes later and sat next to her. A handsome African-American man, wearing a blue suit, sat at the prosecution table, talking animatedly to Lance. Phil saw Mary looking at them and said, “The DA. Stanton.”

Percy and Steve turned to say hello. Percy looked sideways. “I wonder what they’re talking about. You wouldn’t have guessed things are going badly for them, looking at how animated they seem.”

Fenton looked back briefly and nodded in their direction. Mary had the feeling that he wasn’t terribly pleased to see her. But he had more important things to think about, so perhaps it was only her imagination.

Judge Pearson, a woman in her early sixties with curly red hair, entered, announced by the clerk, and they all stood. Once they were ordered to sit, proceedings started. Although Mary had not met Mike Spinner, Fenton’s agent, she didn’t expect anything new from his statement. Stanton asked him about his background and then what he knew about the origins of the book. He also asked briefly about Green’s behaviour. Everything seemed to fit in with the version of events Fenton had given. Stanton approached the table, looked at a piece of paper that Lance showed him, and then walked slowly back to the witness stand. “Mr Spinner, was there ever talk of an injunction?”

“An injunction? I did talk to one of my lawyers about it, but there was the complication of the tours and the continuous travelling that would have made it difficult to fix the terms. And even keeping him at a certain distance, if it had been agreed, with the amount of public attention and people coming and going… It would have been impossible to enforce. It wouldn’t have worked. There was no point.”

“So, you never heard Mr Fenton or Mr Green mention an injunction,” Stanton asked again.

“No. Not really, no.”

“Not really?” Stanton, who had been walking back towards the table, turned around quickly and fixed his eyes on the witness.

“The witness has already replied to the question, Your Honour,” Steve said.

“No, not really,” Judge Pearson replied, with a smile. “Proceed.” She nodded in Stanton’s direction. Mary noticed how Fenton’s neck reddened.

“I mean…the last time Green came to a book signing, I had been called away to talk to the bookshop owner, and we both heard a kerfuffle. Two of the security guards were dragging Green away by the time I got there. The security guards later told me that Green had managed to get close to the table by wearing a name tag like the bookshop employees and he had got right next to Fenton, and had whispered something in his ear.

“They told me Fenton had replied something very low, that they hadn’t heard and waved at them, and when they were taking him away, once out of the bookshop, Green had said that no injunction would prevent him from telling the truth, or something of the sort. Nothing new, although I don’t know where the idea about the injunction came from. I did ask Oliver—Mr Fenton—later, but he told me that all Green had told him was more of the same, that he had used his story and he’d get redress. Nothing else.”

Steve seemed like he was about to stand up and object, Mary imagined ‘hearsay’, but Percy stopped him. He seemed intrigued.

“Thanks.” Stanton picked up a piece of paper that Lance was offering him. He walked to the witness stand and showed the paper to Spinner. “Do you recognise this mobile phone number?”

“No. I don’t have a lot of memory for numbers, though. I could check my phone…”

“Isn’t it the accused’s number?”

“No, no. That number I know very well.”

Stanton smiled and said there was nothing else. Spinner was told he could leave and stepped down.

“We wish to recall Oliver Fenton,” Stanton said.

Percy, Steve and Fenton looked at each other.

“I need to confer with my client,” Percy said, standing up.

“Let’s have a brief recess. We’ll be back in half an hour,” Judge Pearson said.

Once the judge had left, Percy turned to Phil and Ryan. “Come with us. And you too, Mary.”

“But is it OK with Mr Fenton?” Mary asked.

Fenton turned to look at her and smiled, his lips pressed so hard that they had become a white line. “Of course I’m OK. Do you think I’m scared of you? I know you have no superpowers and you can’t read my mind. And anyway, I have nothing to hide.”

Mary shrugged and followed them. They went to a side room whilst the guard waited outside.

“So, what’s that about an injunction?” Percy asked, as soon as they were all sitting down.

“I know nothing about any injunction. Who knows what he might have said? Some mad idea that came into his head,” Fenton replied, dismissive.

“And that mobile number?” Ryan asked.

“Which mobile number?”

“Evidently the prosecution asked your agent about a phone number. Is there anything we should be worried about?” Percy asked.

“Why didn’t you object to all that blah, blah from Mike? It was all hearsay. Green whispered something, I said something. It means nothing. What could he have said?”

“Surprises are no good in this business, Fenton,” Wright said. “We can prepare for almost anything, but not for what we don’t know.”

Fenton sighed. “I’ve already told you. I’m sorry he died but the man was crazy,” he said, letting his head drop.

“OK,” Percy said. Then, he turned to look at Mary. “Any questions, Doctor Miller?”

“I was just wondering…” Fenton looked up and glared at her, “why whisper? He’s shouted about the fact that you’d used his story, loud and clear, and he’d told anybody who would listen to him. Why whisper it in your ear? It makes no sense. He must have told you something else. Why would he talk about telling the truth and how nobody would stop him? If it was the same allegation, he’d already told the truth. And don’t reply that he was just mad. He hadn’t done that before, and he’d been pretty vociferous and consistent. He must have had a reason. A reason that got him killed.”

Fenton stood up from the chair so fast that it fell on the floor, making an echoing sound. “You think you know everything. What do you really know?”

“That man was obsessed with the truth. He must have found something out, or suspected something, but had no confirmation of it. That’s why he whispered it to you. Your reaction confirmed his suspicions,” Mary said, still sitting down, looking up at him and keeping a low voice and a calm expression.

“Yes? And what do you think that was? Perhaps you really have superpowers?” Fenton said.

“I have no idea, although if I had to hazard a guess… You invented the whole story. The book is a work of fiction. No, you didn’t use Green’s story, because you didn’t use anybody’s story. You just made it up. And he must have worked it out somehow. Perhaps you contradicted yourself at some point, or perhaps he checked and discovered that you hadn’t really worked for a phone helpline. Whatever the circumstances, when he told you, you threatened him with an injunction.”

Fenton had paled and was shaking slightly. “The harassment was one thing, but that could have ended my career. There have been scandals for plagiarism and being economical with the truth in the literary world, but that… It would have been the end right at the beginning. I just got a phone, no contract, untraceable, not registered, and called him. I was planning on meeting him somewhere discreet and offering him money to keep his mouth shut and disappear, but when I phoned him he told me not to waste my time that he was not for sale. That he wanted to make an example of me for exploiting that topic and making a profit out of a lie, out of something that had hurt so many people.

“Then I told him I’d taken out an injunction against him and he wouldn’t be able to follow me around or turn up at my apartment ever again. I knew that would provoke him and he’d turn up. And it would be perfect for me, as he’d be invading my home and I could allege self-defence. I sent the receptionist out with an excuse and waited, in hiding. When he turned up I did give him a chance to take some money and leave but he refused. He turned around and said he would talk to the press and I…”

Percy looked aghast. Steve, Phil and Ryan had stood up too and were looking at each other, lost for words.

“They must have a recording of the phone call… Or at least a record of it,” Steve said. “And they must have tracked it back to you. It’s evidence of murder. It was planned.”

“He didn’t die there and then! Can’t we just go after the hospital, claim they mishandled it?” Fenton asked.

Phil shook his head. “The chain of causation is clear.”

“But he had been harassing me!”

“Yes, but that is not the motivation for it. Self-defence won’t cut it if they have the call,” Ryan said.

“I’ll have the mental health assessment!” Fenton shouted.

Mary shook her head. “You’re free to ask for another opinion, but…”

Percy shrugged. “No point. Lance knows Fenton, and he was there when we discussed his mental health. He also knows he refused to have an assessment. Although he cannot testify to that, they’ll have no problem finding experts who’ll say there’s no evidence of any disorder. At least nothing that would get him off on an insanity plea. And I can’t think it would be easy for us to find somebody who’d say the opposite.”

“What shall we do, then?”

“Change the plea to guilty. We can try to claim overwork, stress, the harassment, but it depends on how generous they are feeling. We’ll try to negotiate a plea bargain,” Phil said.

The clerk knocked at the door. “Time to go back.”

Once inside, after the judge had returned to the courtroom, Percy approached the bench. After listening to him, the judge called Stanton. The two lawyers had a few words and the judge adjourned. This time the judge, Stanton, Lance, Wright and Steve met in private. The public waited outside. Ryan asked Mary, “How did you know?”

“I didn’t know for certain. It just struck me as a possibility when I started talking. And Fenton’s reaction just confirmed it.”

“Perhaps you have superpowers,” Phil said.

Mary laughed.

Shortly after, they returned. There was a change of plea and the judge adjourned for sentencing.

“Extraordinary,” Percy said on the way out, shaking Mary’s hand. “I seriously hope you’ll work for us in the future.”

“Thanks very much. I’m very busy in my current job, but I must admit it’s been very interesting.”

“And you can undertake any formation you deem necessary, at our cost.”

“Thanks!”

Phil saw Lance walking towards the door and called out. “Eh, Lance, don’t you remember your friends?”

“Hi, guys! Mary…” he smiled warmly at her.

“Come on, tell us. What did you have?” Ryan asked him, patting his shoulder.

“Now, now, you know I can’t tell. Confidential. See you soon!”

Ryan muttered something about secrets and they all left court. The case made it big in the media: television, radio, newspapers… Of course, there was a book written about it not long after.

Mary did take up some of the training on offer, about writing reports, being an expert witness, and studied the workings of the criminal justice system.

Approximately a year after the trial, Phil called Mary. “I have good news.”

“Yes? Tell me more.”

“Do you remember I told you Wright was looking into expanding? He’s agreed to have me set up a new branch of the firm in the south. I’m not sure if it’s Savannah or Atlanta. I need to go and check in more detail. He’s giving me full independence, so I’m planning on doing plenty of pro-bono, hiring local lawyers and—”

“Being more ethically correct.”

“Correct! The best of both worlds. I’m not leaving the firm, but I don’t have to condone all their practices, or follow them.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“What do you say? Do you fancy a trip to the south?”

“I thought you’d never ask!”

The end (of the beginning)

Just in case you’ve missed the other chapters, here are the links (I’ll create a page with all the links so you can always go back to it at your own leisure).

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

And this is the last week Escaping Psychiatry is available at a special price, so, here it is! 
Rather than give you the description, you can have a look a read and preview it directly from here:

And a few links:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER PAPER

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

Categories
Book launch Escaping Psychiatry launch FREE Writing samples

#Booklaunch. It’s out! FREE chapter 6 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #Tuesdaybookblog

Hi all:

I finally published the prequel in a few places last week and it’s FREE, hopefully in most places by now . If you find it is not, could you do me a big favour and report that you’ve seen it free elsewhere? That will make them change the price. Thanks!

 

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret

How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.

Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.

If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.
Here you can check a preview live:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE  SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY
But as I promised you to publish the whole of the story in my blog, here is Chapter 6. But don’t forget to download the story, to tell people about it, and if you like it, to review it too if you can.

6.     The Surprise

Phil had always considered himself a keen observer and used to joke with Mary that he was an amateur psychologist. It was true that such skills as he had were very useful in his line of work. He watched Ryan and Mary’s interaction on the drive back to New York. He’d secretly wondered if those two would hit it off, but worried that asking directly would scare Mary off. She didn’t take interference in those kinds of matters too kindly. Still, once they had dropped Ryan off at his apartment, on the way back to his, Phil asked Mary, “So, what do you think?”

“What do I think about what? Your boss’s place is amazing, although I wouldn’t say I necessarily liked his guests or the highly artificial lifestyle. I doubt anybody there has expressed their true feelings even once in the whole weekend. Well, perhaps one person.”

“Are you talking about…”

“Lance. I think you were too far away, but a woman seating opposite us made some pretty  unkind comment about Miles Green and he became quite angry and gave her a piece of his mind.”

“Oh…I thought you were talking about Ryan.”

Mary smiled. “Ryan always speaks his mind, it seems. Even when it would be to his advantage not to. I like him.” Phil wondered what his expression was like, because Mary looked at him and shook her head from side to side. “No, no, don’t you start trying to pair me up with Ryan. It will never work. I think we might get to be good friends but I can’t imagine it going anywhere.”

Phil sighed and looked at Mary before manoeuvring to park the car. “I could try to fix you up with Lance, but I know he’s in very high demand. It might be difficult.”

“Oh, don’t go around trying to fix me up with anybody, please. And, are you insinuating that Lance is too good for me?”

“No, of course not! You’re far too good for him, but you know that certain girls only go after the flashy individuals.”

Mary looked at Phil sideways but eventually smiled. Phew! He’d got a reprieve.

“Well, I’ll finish packing and I should get going. I’m working tomorrow. Thanks so much for having me. It’s been interesting.”

“I’m sure it will carry on being interesting. And I’m sure Percy will want your help in future cases, if not this one.”

“I think Oliver Fenton is a lost cause, at least in regards to a possible assessment. Not to worry. It’s better that way. I wouldn’t have liked to have to go and give evidence about him. I suspect I would have done more harm than good to his cause. Although perhaps that’s not necessarily bad.”

Phil accompanied Mary to the train station and they said goodbye before Mary got on the train.

“Thanks again, Phil. And keep me posted on any news.”

“I will. Of course I will. And don’t forget to give me a call once you get home. Let me know you’re well.”

“Yes, Mom.”

They kissed and Phil watched as Mary walked down the platform and climbed into a carriage. He went back home wondering why Mary was so stubborn about relationships. It was true that perhaps his personal example hadn’t done much to encourage her to try but…

The next few days at work were incredibly bizarre, and Phil hardly had any time to think about anything that wasn’t work related. On Thursday evening he decided to avoid another after-work drink to unwind and went home. He had to stop to do some food shopping on the way, as he had hardly spent any time at his apartment since Mary left, other than a few hours to sleep. He had a shower, ate something, and as he was going to turn the TV on, decided to phone Mary first. He wanted to know what she’d made of the news. She answered quickly.

“Hi, Mary.”

“Hi, Phil.”

“You’re not on call or anything, are you?”

“No, no, don’t worry. I’d been thinking about you. I was reading an interview with Oliver Fenton yesterday, and yes, I couldn’t help but think about you, Fenton…well, the whole firm.”

“Well, there have been a few changes.”

“Really? Are you at liberty to talk about it?” Mary’s voice sounded mocking.

“You’re in Percy’s confidence, so I guess it’s OK. The truth is it will all be common knowledge soon, although I doubt you’d hear about it yourself.”

“OK, OK. You got me intrigued. Tell me the news.”

“Lance… You’ll never guess. Lance went and—”

“Left the firm.”

Phil was flabbergasted. How on earth had she guessed?

“Did you know? You must have known. You’d never in a million years have been able to guess such a thing. It took all of us by surprise! Did Ryan phone you?”

“Ryan? He doesn’t have my phone number. No, of course not.”

“How did you know, then?”

“You should already know I have a crystal ball. That must have been a shock for everybody.”

Phil was intrigued, but suspected that the more he asked, the less likely he’d be to get a straight answer. It might be better to just carry on with the conversation and perhaps it would slip out. He knew he was clutching at straws but he couldn’t think of anything else to say to convince Mary to spill the beans.

“Yes. Absolutely. And the way he did it, too. He just turned up quite early on Monday, walked into Percy’s office unannounced, leaving the door open, and said that he was quitting. That he’d made a mistake and he cared too much for ethics and morality to carry on playing games. That he didn’t want to side with the rich and powerful any longer. And he walked out. Percy was left there, opening and closing his mouth like a fish. It was a sight!”

“I would love to have seen it. And what’s happened with the case? Who has taken the lead?”

“Percy doesn’t seem prepared to let any more surprises come his way and has decided to take charge personally. His name was already on the papers anyway. Of course, that means that the rest of us are running around him, carrying and fetching like headless chickens. But still…”

“Will he have enough time to prepare?”

“There’s a month left until the official date of the trial, but with the change in the team he was talking about asking for an adjournment. A couple of weeks or so.”

“Yes, that would be handy. And how is everybody else?”

Phil was on the phone to Mary for a few more minutes, but she kept him distracted talking about all kinds of things, never referring back to Lance or her mysterious knowledge. Perhaps next time.

Just in case you’ve missed the previous chapters and prefer to read them in my blog, here are the links:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5
If you’re intrigued and you haven’t caught up with the three others stories I’ve published featuring Mary and Phil, I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99 until the end of February. Rather than give you the description, you can have a look a read and preview it directly from here:

And a few links:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE   SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER  GOOGLE PAPER

It’s also available in audio and you can check it here (not at $0.99).

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Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings FREE Writing samples

#FREE Chapter 5 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:
I hope to share the link to the published novella by next post (and if everything goes well it might be free already by then) but in the meantime, here is chapter 5.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

5.     The Weekend

Mary enjoyed the leisurely week where she completely changed the usual rhythm of her life. She threw herself enthusiastically into the task of exploring the city, visiting exhibitions, looking for the perfect clothes shop and bookshop, and walking for miles. By Thursday afternoon she was exhausted and decided to stay at Phil’s apartment and finish reading The Darkest Night. Phil arrived shortly after eight p.m. and found her cooking pasta.

“Hi, Phil.”

“Hi, Mary. It smells lovely.”

She smiled and looked at him. “Well, you know my culinary skills are limited. I’ve never been truly domesticated. If anything, a househusband could come in handy.”

Phil smiled and pressed her arm. “I’ll go and get out of this suit. Did you have a good day?” he asked her as he walked out.

“I came back early. I was tired and wanted to finish reading the novel,” she replied, talking loud enough for her voice to carry to Phil’s room.

He came back a couple of minutes later. “Which novel?”

The Darkest Night.”

“Fenton’s book? Isn’t it supposed to be a true story, or rather, based on a true story?”

“Yes. It’s supposed to be based on a true story. But there’s something that doesn’t ring true to me.”

“What? Is it a lack of psychological truth? Perhaps it’s due to the changes he made to disguise the identity of the main character.”

“Could be. But if I understood him correctly, he said that he had changed the details to hide his real identity, but the story was still his story. And to me, it doesn’t work. I’ve heard many things, and I’ve read psychiatric reports, and believe me, most of them would never get confused with a Pulitzer Prize winner, but they still ring true. This doesn’t. And there’s something about him…Fenton, I mean. He says he manned a telephone helpline offering advice and counselling. If that’s the case he’d be more understanding and have some empathy, one would hope. He’s too cold… But ignore me. It’s probably a defence mechanism. His behaviour, I mean.”

Phil shrugged. “Oh, you know what my opinion about the man is. I’m happy it’s Lance and not me handling the case, even if that might bring him a lot of attention.”

Mary turned off the hob. “This is ready. Will you set the table?”

“Sure. I’ll get some wine. Yes, and water for you. I know you don’t drink.”

While they were eating, Mary asked, “Shall I check and see if I can find tickets for a play tomorrow?”

“Oh, I nearly forgot. Mr Wright—Percy—has invited us to his house in the Hamptons this weekend. It seems his wife is having some kind of reception, and he’s decided we should be there too. I told Ryan we’d pick him up on the way. Wright has decided that tomorrow we’ll only work in the morning to make sure we get there at a reasonable time. I understand dinner will be a pretty ‘intimate’ affair. That probably means no more than twenty five people.”

Mary looked at Phil, cocking her head. “Are you serious?”

“Oh yes, of course. Wait until you meet Mrs Wright. You’ve probably seen her in posh magazines. I’m not surprised he wants big cases. She’s very high maintenance.”

“What do you mean ‘Wait until you meet Mrs Wright’? And you also said ‘we’ would pick Ryan up? Am I invited too?”

Phil laughed. “Oh yes. Percy insisted I make sure you come. He wanted to show you his hospitality. And I think he’s determined to secure your services for future cases. He must have decided it gives him some advantage over the rest. You must come. Don’t abandon Ryan and me. It will be interesting. Plenty of material for your stories.”

“You’re right on that. But I must be back to work on Monday. I phoned them today.”

“No problem. We’ll leave after breakfast on Sunday. So, have you decided psychiatry is your future, then?”

Mary sighed. “I’m not sure. But at the moment it feels unfinished. I must see it through. Complete the training. Then I’ll decide.”

The ride to Mr Wright’s house, in Phil’s Jeep the next day, was very comfortable.

“I never knew you liked this type of car, Phil. I’ve always known you with more sporty models,” Mary said.

“It seems to be the fashion, at the moment—at least among the elite,” Ryan replied. “And one of our clients has a dealership and always offers a very good discount to the firm’s staff.”

“Ah…”

The house was impressive. A valet came to collect the keys from Phil to park the car. Mary tried to hide her shock. “It’s a mansion. I didn’t expect it to be this huge and posh. I’m sure quite a few European royalty members live much more modestly,” she said.

“Well, this is America. Modesty has never been in fashion here,” Ryan whispered in her ear.

Mrs Wright was younger than Mary had expected, although when Phil introduced her and they shook hands, Mary realised that perhaps nature had had some help.

“My husband told me you had been very helpful with the writer’s case. What a terrible thing, the death of that man, isn’t it? Oh, Wilma, darling—”

Before Mary had a chance to reply or say anything, Mrs Wright had already moved on and was chatting to a woman wearing an elegant black dress.

“Pierre Balmain, methinks,” Ryan said.

Mary looked at him surprised. He smiled. “All this shopping and looking at magazines with my sister has evidently had an effect on me.”

The evening was extravagant. The ‘intimate’ dinner ended up being a formal affair with nearly fifty people in attendance. Thankfully, Mary sat next to Ryan. The woman sitting to her left was a newlywed and seemed only interested in her husband. Mary chatted to Ryan and he entertained her with gossip about the people he recognised.

On Saturday, the ladies had a visit to the Spa organised, and that seemed to take up the whole day, between sauna, exercise classes, yoga, massage, hairdressing, lunch, make-up… Mary quickly became bored and, in the afternoon, she decided to escape and take a bus that left her a couple of miles from the house. She fancied a walk and the afternoon was beautiful. The place was extravagant and properties there were exorbitantly priced, but it wasn’t difficult to see why they’d choose to live there. Or to have a second home there. As she was approaching the house, she heard somebody running behind her. She turned to find Lance, sweating buckets. He was wearing shorts and a very light running top, but judging by his state he must have been running for a long time. He slowed down slightly to say hello.

“I’ll see you later. I don’t dare to stop. I’m not sure I’d manage to get going again.”

“OK.”

He carried on running. If anything, he seemed to speed up after leaving her. Mary had only seen him from a distance the previous evening, as he had been sitting at the other end of the table, on Percy’s right. She remembered Phil had made a sarcastic remark. “He’s seated at the right hand of our version of God, of course.” Mary had told him off for being jealous but had not paid Lance any attention after that, and she hadn’t bumped into him later either.

That evening was much more formal and grand. Mary felt terribly underdressed. She looked at her long black dress and her flat black ballerinas and sighed. She’d never managed high heels, and she hadn’t expected anything like that when she had packed her suitcase to spend a few days with Phil. She grabbed a black mantilla embroidered with flowers and wrapped it around her shoulders. Straightening up, she pushed out of the room, feeling like a gladiator jumping into the arena. The lions awaited her.

She met Phil and Ryan, who seemed to have been waiting for her at the top of the stairs. There were a lot of people in the reception area and wave after wave of rich and elegant people seemed to be streaming through the front door.

“Couldn’t we just escape through the back door? I’m sure nobody would notice we weren’t here,” Mary said.

Ryan smiled. “I think it’s too late, although I’m sympathetic to your idea. Don’t worry. You’re right, nobody will notice us, and we’ll be forgotten in a few seconds. There are too many important people here.”

They were briefly greeted by Mrs Wright and then directed towards a larger room, where people were distributed in small groups, being offered drinks and fed canapes. Percy waved at them from one of the groups, which consisted of men of a certain age, very smartly dressed and looking self-important.

“You don’t want to get on the wrong side of any of those guys,” Ryan warned Mary. She nodded.

A string quartet played by one of the doors to the terrace and after listening to them for a while, Mrs Wright announced that it was time for dinner. She guided her guests to a different room to the one they had dined in the previous night. This one was much larger and she called it the ‘banqueting hall’. Ryan and Phil found their name places very soon after they entered the room. Ryan waved goodbye to Mary with a sad expression. Her place was well past the centre of the table.

She didn’t know the man to her left, a Mr Winston who, after introducing himself, wasted no time before returning to his conversation with a stunning blonde woman sitting next to him. The man opposite her told her he was called Peter Matthews and was an old friend of the family. He seemed mostly interested in his food. The woman sitting next to him, Stella Roberts, lost interest when she discovered that Mary wasn’t married and had no kids. Mary turned to the door and saw Lance come in. He sat on her right. That wasn’t his assigned place, as Mary had noticed that the name written there, Mr Blake, was unfamiliar to her.

“Won’t you get into trouble?” she whispered.

“Oh, nobody will dare to make a fuss. And I know Mr Blake. He definitely won’t say anything.”

He was right. A middle-aged man arrived and walked to the only space left, near the top of the table, not far from the hosts. He looked at the name-card, lifted an eyebrow, looked at Lance, who replied with a smile and a nod, and then shrugged and sat down.

“You were right,” Mary whispered.

Lance only nodded. The meal started and Mrs Roberts seemed to find Lance much more interesting than Mary, trying to engage him in several topics of conversation. He was polite but didn’t expand upon or appreciate her efforts, whilst he chatted amiably with Mary. As they were finishing the main course, the woman tried again. “So, I hear you are working with Percy in the case against that famous writer…Fenton? What a terrible thing, to be harassed just because you’ve become famous. It must be dreadful.”

Mary couldn’t help herself. “Dying is quite terrible too.”

“Greed always gets punished,” Mrs Roberts stated.

“What do you mean?” Mary asked. She had no idea what Mrs Roberts meant.

“Well, surely that man was trying to blackmail the author, insisting that he’d stolen his story to make him pay for it. All these people are so used to getting paid off to avoid a scandal… Good for Fenton for not putting up with it!”

Mary noticed Lance was visibly shaking and remembered his reaction when Percy had told them Miles Green had died. The lawyer’s face was pale but his neck was red and a vein pulsated on his brow.

“How dare you presume to know what happened? What makes you think you have a right to talk ill of the dead? Your arrogance knows no bounds. Shut up before I forget you’re supposed to be a lady,” he blurted out.

Mrs Roberts looked at him, her eyes open wide and her mouth agape too. Lance folded his napkin, mumbled an apology and stood up, leaving the napkin on the chair as he walked out of the room.

“What was that about? I’d heard such nice things about him from Percy,” Mrs Roberts said. Mary knew the question was not addressed at her and avoided her gaze. After the dessert, they were all invited to the terrace to see the firework display. Mary saw Phil and Ryan walking towards her, but felt curious and rushed to get out of the hall before anybody caught up with her. She walked around the building and finally found Lance sitting on a stone bench, at the back of the house, alone. The floor in that area was covered in tiny stones and the noise of her steps made Lance lift his head.

“Sorry. I didn’t want to disturb you but I wondered if you were OK.”

He smiled, with a sad expression in his big blue eyes. He moved to one end of the bench, making room for her.

“Thanks.”

They sat in silence for a while. Finally, Mary said, “I know this is none of my business, and feel free to tell me to get lost if you want, but…I noticed your reaction to the news of Miles Green’s death the other day, at the firm.”

He slowly lifted his gaze and fixed it on hers.

“I don’t work for Mr Wright, and I have nothing to do with the case, as Fenton refused the assessment. I just couldn’t help but notice and wonder. You seemed more worried about the alleged victim than about your defendant. I’m not going to tell you to trust me because I’m a doctor. I’m just a curious bystander, forever intrigued by human nature.”

He visibly let go, as if crumpling in front of Mary’s eyes. “It’s all…a mess, really. And it’s my mess. You see, Mr Wright has this fantasy in his head about me being a sleek type, a fantastic lawyer and a rough diamond. Well, rough is right. I come from a little town in Minnesota. Don’t ask. Only people within a thirty mile radius even know where it is. My parents worked hard all their lives to give my sister and me a good education. My sister is now a primary school teacher, very happy. And I… I studied hard, and I watched every movie, every TV series, and read every novel with lawyers on it. Successful lawyers. Even before I knew the law, I knew how to play the part. I was only interested in flashy cases, in tagging along with the big names when they were working, and in doing things that would give me the reputation I needed to make it to the top. But I had to do pro-bono work too. I tried my hardest to shift it to the other lawyers and to trainees, but I couldn’t avoid it completely.

“And then, a couple of years ago, I had to represent Miles Green. He’d tried to bring a case against his abusers. He was the first one who dared to speak, although he wasn’t the only victim. Once he had the guts to talk, plenty of others followed suit. He was a very shy and insecure man, despite having been in the army, but he felt better for pursuing it. And then, as the hearing approached, I had a chance to assist in a case that was sure to get media attention and left Green’s case to a very junior colleague who had to take it to court. Not only that, but I accidentally misplaced some of the evidence. If I had been there it wouldn’t have mattered, as I would have realised and sorted it, but my colleague didn’t know, and I hadn’t even briefed him properly.

“The judge threw out the case, due to lack of evidence, and Green’s abusers went free. I never owned up to my mistake, and as a result my junior colleague didn’t finish his placement and quit law. And Green…I’m sure that if his abusers had gone to prison and the pressure and harassment had stopped, he wouldn’t have gone after Fenton, and he would still be alive. The news of his death the other day brought it all back. And then Wright makes me defend that man…”

“You can’t blame yourself for Green’s death. You didn’t kill him.”

“But I’m defending his killer! And it was my fault that his abusers went free!”

“Blaming yourself is not going to help him or his family. Perhaps there might be something practical you can do to help…”

His eyes opened wide and his lips curved slightly. “You’re right. And I know just the thing.”

The noise of the fireworks intensified and he stood up, offering her his hand and pulling her up. He took her arm and directed her towards the terrace at the back of the big hall where everybody was watching the fireworks. Phil and Ryan joined them.

Phil had to speak quite loudly to make himself heard with all the noise around them. “Where were you hiding?”

“I just needed a walk and a bit of fresh-air, and I met Lance at the back of the house.”

“Look at that!” Ryan pointed at a big purple cascade of light illuminating the whole sky, and that was the end of the conversation.

The next morning, while they were having breakfast—a much more informal affair:  people ate whenever they got ready and went downstairs, rather than having a set time, and only the overnight guests attended—Ryan said, “I bumped into Lance this morning. I woke up early and decided to go for a walk, and as I was coming back, Lance was putting his suitcase in the trunk of his car. I asked him what he was doing, leaving so early, and he told me he had to go, that there was something very important he had to do. Ah, and he said to say goodbye to you guys.”

“The big case must have gone to his head,” Phil said.

“I think you might be mistaken,” Mary said.

Phil looked at her and tutted. “I’m disappointed in you, Mary. I would never have thought you’d fall for his performance.”

Mary smiled. “He might surprise you yet.”

In case you need to catch up with the previous chapters, you can do it here:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

If you’re intrigued and you haven’t caught up with the three others stories I’ve published featuring Mary and Phil, I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Rather than give you the description, you can have a look a read and preview it directly from here:

And a few links:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER PAPER

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

Categories
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings Writing samples

#FREE Chapter 4 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

We’re getting close to the publication. I’m going through the final corrections of the Spanish version now. Today I bring you chapter 4of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings. And don’t miss the ending of the post, as I have a surprise if you want to listen to me on the radio this afternoon (26th January).

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

Chapter 4. The Assessment

Mary and Phil arrived at Wright and Partners at eight forty five. Phil formally introduced Mary to Maggie and showed her the kitchen cum staffroom, where the coffee-making facilities were.

“There are always some soft drinks and juice in the fridge too. I know you aren’t overly fond of coffee or tea.”

Mary nodded.

“Will you be OK here? You can wait in Maggie’s office, if you prefer.”

“I’ll be fine. I imagine I’ll get to see more people here.”

“True. If you get bored, just come over. We’ll be in the same meeting room where we interviewed Mr Fenton on Saturday. I’m pretty sure Mr Wright wouldn’t mind, but I’d rather if he suggested it himself. We might be discussing other cases too…”

“Don’t worry. I have my book,” Mary shook her copy of Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. She had wondered about taking a different book with her, but she was enjoying the novel, and it seemed fairly appropriate. And she didn’t have long to go. She planned to read The Darkest Night next. She’d count it as research, and she was sure she could add it to the expenses of the case. Of course, that was if they were planning on paying her, which she hadn’t even thought of asking. They didn’t seem to need to make any savings but appearances might be deceptive.

Tania entered the room, wearing a short red dress and even more make-up than on Saturday, or at least that was Mary’s impression. As she didn’t usually wear make-up, she was aware that hers might be a biased opinion.

“Oh, hi! Mary, isn’t it? This must be very weird for you, used to mad people and all that. Although I guess plenty of…what do they call them? Oh, yes, ‘the worried well’ also go and visit psychiatrists, don’t they? If you ask me, they must be a bit nuts if they choose to go and see a psychiatrist. No offence.”

“None taken,” Mary had to bite her lip to not burst out laughing. Phil was right. Tania didn’t strike her as lawyer material.

Tania prepared a tray. “It’s for the morning meeting. Aren’t you coming?”

“No, there’s bound to be confidential stuff discussed that I shouldn’t be party to. I’m here for the assessment.”

“Oh well, as long as nobody tells the clients it should be OK. But, to be honest, these meetings…they can go on and on forever, discussing some silly thing. You’re probably better off here. See you later!”

“Do you need a hand?” Mary went to stand up and help Tania with the heavy tray.

“Oh, no, don’t worry. My mom always says I’m strong as a horse. And my father always corrects her. ‘As a mare, dear, as a mare.’ They’re a funny couple, my parents. Well, I’d better go, before they notice their coffees are missing and start moaning.”

And off she went. Mary chuckled and went back to her book. A few minutes later she felt as if somebody was watching her. When she looked up she found a young man, at least four or five years younger than Phil and her, standing next to the sink, looking at her. He was wearing a beautiful grey suit, a very fine turtleneck jumper of darker grey, and black leather shoes that screamed hand-made. He was tall, seemed very athletic, and had a beautiful face, like a Greek sculpture. Perfect profile and deep blue eyes. Blond wavy hair. He smiled and, as Mary expected, his smile was also perfect. The best money could buy, no doubt.

“You must be Mary,” he said, reaching her in a couple of long strides and extending his arm. He had a firm handshake. “Maggie told me you came on Saturday and were present at the interview with Mr Fenton. I couldn’t be here. Family matters. I’m Lance Mayfield.”

“Yes, I imagined that.”

He nodded. “And I understand you’re going to assess Mr Fenton to rule out any mental health problems. Your insight will be very useful, I’m sure.”

“Thanks. I might not be able to clarify matters much, but considering the circumstances of the case, it should be interesting.”

“No doubt. Unfortunately the victim is in no fit state to be assessed now, but perhaps he should have been a long time ago and this unfortunate incident would have been avoided. It’s a shame that nobody intervened, or at least not in a constructive way, before things got to that point…” Lance went quiet, as if deep in thought. After a few seconds he jolted and smiled, back from wherever his mind had taken him. “So, you like to read… I used to read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, but these days I don’t have much time. The last book I read was, well, The Darkest Night. For research purposes. It’s not my usual type of book, but it’s quite good. And very realistic and detailed.”

“I was thinking of reading it next. It might help give me a better picture of Mr Fenton.”

“They say all authors write themselves into their books, consciously or unconsciously,” Lance said, nodding.

“I’ve read the same,” Mary added.

“Is Phil being a good host? I’m still discovering the city myself. I’m a newcomer. But if you’d like to see something or go exploring, I’d love to keep you company.” He flashed his winning smile again. And now that he was closer, Mary noticed he had dimples. Of course—he would, wouldn’t he?

“Thanks. You’re very kind. Aren’t you going to miss the meeting?”

“Oh, I had a meeting elsewhere this morning. Don’t tell anybody, but Mr Wright is interested in expanding and sent me to talk to one of my connections, Mr Timmins, who runs his own firm, mostly to do with property and finances. He wants to arrange a meeting and see if he could convince him to bring his firm in, but thought it would be better to test the waters first.”

Mary looked up at him. She didn’t know if all his friendliness and sharing of information was for her benefit, or if this was how he was with everybody. She didn’t know why, but another scene of House of Games came to her mind. The one where Mike (played by Joe Mantegna) is telling Margaret (the psychiatrist, Lindsay Crouse) the basics of the confidence game. He explains that the conman makes it work by taking the victim (or ‘mark’) into his or her confidence. Perhaps she was too cynical about lawyers, but couldn’t help but think that Lance was very smooth, and she understood well why Phil wasn’t terribly fond of the firm’s new acquisition.

Mary smiled. “Did it go well, then?”

“Oh, he was very receptive. I’m sure if the offer is good enough he’ll be more than happy to join Mr Wright’s firm. It must be nice to be your own boss, but having the support of a big firm can be handy if things don’t go according to plan.” He went quiet and seemed to be lost in his own reveries again.

Mary looked at him, wondering. He didn’t look as if anything had ever not gone according to his plans. But perhaps he was a very good actor. “Yes. It’s quite risky to have to shoulder all the responsibility.”

Lance shook his head and smiled again. “I should be getting back to my office. But don’t forget to think about what I told you. I’d love to go exploring with you. I’m sure we’d make a winning team. A psychiatrist and a lawyer!”

He left the room and Mary thought she had enough with one lawyer in her life. And she suspected that Phil was of the same opinion with regards to psychiatrists.

She went back to her book and a while later, when she had just finished reading the last sentence, as if perfectly timed, somebody coughed, trying to get her attention. She looked up. “Mr Fenton.”

“Hi. Mary Miller, isn’t it? Doctor…Mary Miller.” Although Mary wasn’t surprised, Fenton must have thought she was, because he added, “There wasn’t anybody at the desk in reception when I left on Saturday. I just checked the registry.”

Mary found it a bit odd. “Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that was the first time you’d come to the offices of Wright and Partners. I assume the other people must have been introduced to you before we arrived but…”

“You assume wrong. Mr Wright introduced himself and told me it was a preliminary meeting, as there had been no decision made yet as to who would take on my case. He said we were waiting for some more members of the team. And then he went back to check his notes.”

Mary looked at him, expectant.

“You see? I’m an author. And I love the research part of things. I had checked out all the information I could find about the firm and its staff. And you were nowhere to be found. That’s why I had to check. Then I understood why you took such a stance when I made a comment about the actions of people—”

“…suffering from a mental illness,” she finished.

He stared at her for a few seconds and finally dropped his gaze. He sighed and looked up again. “What’s the idea, then? That we go over the details of all the incidents with Mr Green so you can come up with a likely diagnosis of what was wrong with him? How is that going to help?”

Mary couldn’t lie. Even if the firm was the one requesting her services, to her, the ‘client’ was Fenton, and lying to your client is hardly the best way to enter a therapeutic, or at least a diagnostic, relationship. “No. That’s not it at all. They thought it would be a good idea if I assessed you. Of course, you’d need to be in agreement.”

His eyes opened wide, to the point where his eyelids seemed to have retracted into the eye sockets. “Assess me? Why? Do they think I’m mad?” he asked, raising his voice.

She shook her head. “Perhaps we should talk about this somewhere else. It’s not very private.”

He nodded and left the room. He came back a few minutes later and stopped right in front of her. She looked up at him.

“I went to talk to Maggie. She showed me to a small reception area. She assured me it would be empty. We can go there.”

“It might be better to wait until Mr Wright and his team finish the meeting.”

Fenton tried to laugh but it sounded like a bark. “Lawyers are a necessary evil. From that to trusting their explanations… They’re handy for dazzling the other party, but if we’re going to be talking about a psychiatric assessment, I think a psychiatrist is the right interlocutor.”

Mary shrugged, giving up. Either he would agree to the assessment or not, but it would be an interesting exercise in getting to understand how his mind and his emotions worked, although he appeared very calm. She stood up and followed the author to a small room with four easy chairs, a small coffee table and some magazines. Opposite the door, where a window would normally have been, there was a rather large aquarium. The blue light coming off it seemed to hypnotise them for a little while. Eventually Fenton pointed at one of the sofas, and once Mary had sat on it, he took a seat on the sofa opposite. Mary realised the writer liked to be in charge and was trying to manipulate the ‘characters’ and the ‘setting’ as he would in one of his novels.

“So…why assess me?” His tiny grey eyes were piercing hers.

When talking to patients who were unwell or fragile, Mary tried hard not to upset them by being too direct or bringing up subjects likely to disturb them before she’d got to know them well; but there was nothing like that in the writer’s case. Blunt might be the way to go. After all, he was a professional author, and she was unlikely to be more adept with words than he was. “The violence you used seems quite extreme. When your neighbours found you, they had to physically prevent you from carrying on hitting him when he was already unconscious on the floor.”

“He was inside my building! He’d stop at nothing!”

“Mr Fenton—”

“Call me Oliver.” His tone had gone back to normal in a fraction of a second, as if he had an on-off switch. Very peculiar. Mary nodded. “You must understand, Mary… Can I call you Mary?” He looked at her and she nodded again. “This wasn’t an isolated incident. Yes, from the moment my book became a bestseller and it appeared everywhere, all kinds of people have been pestering me. Readers who want some memento, or an autograph, groupies who will follow the latest thing—whatever it might be—others who hope to steal a bit of the limelight by getting close to someone known, paparazzi, reporters… But they normally got tired or stopped when they’d achieved whatever they were looking for. But this man, no. He had neither rhyme nor reason. The others didn’t frighten me. One expects such individuals. But not somebody like him.”

He didn’t appear frightened, but Mary nodded.

“When I got downstairs to leave the building…”

“Sorry. Before we get to that—”

“Don’t tell me you’re going to ask me about my parents and my childhood and all that nonsense? Come on! Well, if you must know, my mother was an elementary school teacher for many years, and now she’s the headmistress. It’s a Catholic school, St Mary’s, but no, I’m not religious, and I wasn’t brought up a Catholic. And my father runs a car dealership. General Motors. I have an older brother, Tom, who customises cars, and a younger sister, Ellie, who’s studying to be a teacher. No abuse in the family, neither sexual nor physical, no substance abuse, no domestic violence, no divorce, no suicide. I enrolled in and dropped out of several degrees: Architecture, Philosophy, Law. I started writing articles for the student newspaper at college, and then carried on writing features for the local newspaper. And the stories got longer and longer. And my sex life is perfectly fine,” he concluded, with a gasp when he finally stopped to breathe.

“Thanks for all that, although it’s not what I was going to ask you. Yes, it would form part of a full assessment, but you haven’t agreed to it yet. No, what I was going to ask you was if you could tell me exactly what Mr Green had done before that worried you so much. How long ago was your book published?”

“Eight…no, nine months. It came out on a Monday but there had been a fair amount of interest already. My agent and the publishing company had managed to get some pretty important writers and reviewers to read the book and publish their reviews within the first week of launch. There was a lot of speculation about how much of a change had been made to the location and the circumstances. You must have heard about the accusations and the allegations about the clergy and the sexual abuse of youths in some places. Yes, people wondered. They asked me for a few interviews… The New York Times, ABC, Sky News. Oprah chose The Darkest Night as the September book for her book club. And that pushed it to the top. Everybody was talking about it. And that’s when it started.”

“So, Mr Green appeared for the first time in September, then.”

“Well, no, not exactly. That’s when my life changed completely. My agent sold the rights to make a movie. It’s all being kept very hush-hush, but big names are interested. And he also sold the rights to the serialisation of the novel to a chain of newspapers, country-wide. My life spiralled out of control. I was about to take my exam to become an accountant, but it no longer seemed necessary.

“I moved to a new apartment and a big book tour was organised. I visited all the big cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Miami… Universities requested me as a speaker; several charities wanted me as their figurehead… It was mid-January when Mr Green appeared for the first time in my life.”

Mary calculated. That meant it had been around four months ago, but under three months of persecution, if one took into account when the incident had taken place. Not that long a period of time, but it could feel very long if one was the victim of persecution and harassment.

“At first he didn’t seem dangerous. He just started appearing at all the bookshops, libraries, wherever I was going to give a talk. He always sat on the first row but never asked any questions. Mike, my agent, was the first one to notice him. He thought it was peculiar. It didn’t matter how far we travelled, he’d be there. But just there. Sitting and listening. Sometimes he’d take some notes. But I had no idea what for, as reporters always tried to get one on one interviews and would talk to Mike. He simply sat with the public. I joked that perhaps he was a writer trying to learn something. He seemed so intent.”

The author stopped and fixed his eyes on the aquarium. “What a strange existence, don’t you think? Living your whole life inside a box, at the mercy of a puny human being and his or her whims. When they turn on the light it’s day. If they switch it off, it’s night again. For them, it’s probably a whole universe and we’re their god.”

“Probably. What happened next?”

He sighed. “This is tedious. I’ve explained it millions of times. One day, after he’d been coming to the events for several weeks, out of the blue, he came to me with a book for signing. When he was in front of me, he threatened me. And from that moment on, he kept doing the same, everywhere I went. We banned him and warned the security guards not to let him in, but he wouldn’t stop. He wore disguises; he would sneak in through the back door…”

“What exactly was the nature of his threats? Did he threaten violence?”

“I’ve told the same story many times. I’m sure it’s written down somewhere in the file. But, anyway…he told me he knew my ‘secret’ and he would ‘ruin’ me. Mike can bear witness to it. I think he has. He was next to me.”

“What secret? Did you have any idea what he was talking about?”

“At that point, no. Of course not. I have no secrets, at least nothing that could ruin me or be of any interest to anybody else. Later on, he told me that he knew I had used his story without his permission and I had no right to do that. I told him I had no idea who he was but he insisted. He wouldn’t leave. I had to call security and they had to drag him out, kicking and screaming. Actually kicking and screaming. But that didn’t stop him and he kept coming back. We tried the usual, even an injunction, but nothing seemed to deter him. And things escalated. He started shouting, threatening me, telling me he would talk to the media and reveal how I had exploited his life for my benefit. All complete madness. I’d never seen that man before.”

“Did he ever mention how he thought you had got hold of it?”

“He mentioned something about ‘bastards’ selling the story. He’d go into a rant every time he started talking about that. The only words I could make out were ‘therapist’, ‘school’ and ‘police’. My assumption is that he thought somebody he must have told the story to, some professional, must have spoken to me. But I’ve never given any details about how I got hold of the story. He doesn’t even look like the man in question!”

“What makes him think it’s his story then?”

“You’re asking the wrong person. I have no idea. I guess it’s possible that more than one person has gone through similar experiences.”

“And you said you made some changes to ensure that the real person would not be identifiable.”

“Yes. It’s all nonsense. Of course it’s not him. He’s a lunatic. Or mentally disturbed, whatever is the correct way to catalogue him.”

“Perhaps some of the details were the same.”

“Perhaps. But I can’t help that and it’s not my fault. I wasn’t the abuser. And I didn’t write about him. Or about…” He stopped suddenly, as if he had said too much, looked down and then, after a few seconds, fixed his eyes on Mary. “As you can see, this is nothing to do with me. It would be a waste of your time—and mine—to proceed with a full assessment. I sleep well, I eat like a horse, my mood is fine, other than the stress due to the case. I have never heard voices—”

“Not even your characters?” Mary asked.

He chuckled. “I am perfectly capable of distinguishing my imagination and my creativity from somebody or something trying to control my brain or talk to me. No. I have no strange ideas, unless you consider self-defence and wanting to survive and live another day a strange idea.”

Mary seemed to have hit a wall. There were many other things she would have liked to ask, and some things she wasn’t very convinced of in Fenton’s account, but she didn’t believe she could justify pursuing that course of action. The writer was looking at her with a placid expression, convinced that he had won. As Mary opened her mouth to say something, although she wasn’t sure of what, the door opened, giving her a reprieve. Mr Wright’s head peered in. “So here you are. Maggie told me you wanted somewhere private to talk. Could you come with me? I have something I must communicate to everybody involved in the case.”

Fenton stood up, while Mary just looked on. She wasn’t really involved in the case, especially now that the writer had made quite clear what his opinion of the possible psychiatric assessment was. But Mr Wright didn’t know anything about it and gestured for her to follow him, impatient. Mary was convinced that Mr Wright wasn’t accustomed to being kept waiting. Ever. She stood up and followed the two men. She speeded up, managing to get by Mr Wright’s side. “Mr Wright—”

“Call me Percy. After all, you aren’t one of my employees.”

“Thank you. Percy…Mr Fenton isn’t keen on the assessment—”

“That’s of no consequence at the moment. Just go to the meeting room. I’ll go and find Lance.”

Mary stood in the middle of the corridor, wondering what was happening. She saw Phil by the meeting room door and walked towards him. “What’s going on? I was talking to the writer, who, by the way, is less than keen on having an assessment of his mental state, when Percy turned up and said he had something to ‘communicate’. Do you have any idea what all this is about?”

Phil shrugged. “None. We were just going through the cases in the meeting, like every morning, when Maggie knocked at the door, came in and whispered something in his ear. And then he stood up, told us we could leave and should meet him there again in fifteen minutes, and left. It’s the first time something like that has happened since I’ve been here. And from the expression in everyone else’s faces, it’s the first time for them too.

“You see, according to Percy Wright, these morning meetings are the key to the firm’s success and they are sacred. They can’t be disturbed or interrupted. So whatever is going on must be pretty big.”

Mr Wright arrived, followed by Lance Mayfield, who flashed a smile in Mary’s direction before following the boss. Phil and Mary went in too. Steve, Tania, Ryan and the client were already siting inside.

“Shall I go to call Maggie?” Steve asked, half-rising from his chair.

“No, no. That won’t be necessary. She has quite a few things to deal with, and she’s aware of what we’re going to discuss.”

In the silence that followed, they all looked at each other. Mary noted Mr Wright’s use of pause for dramatic effect. Perhaps it was true that being a good actor could be very helpful in a career as a lawyer.

“Sorry for having to interrupt the meeting like that, but I had some very grave news that I had to check… No, don’t worry; it’s not about me or my family. Nothing like that. It’s about the case. That’s why Mr Fenton is here too. In the early hours of the morning, the victim of the case, Miles Green, passed away.”

There was a collective gasp. Mary looked at the writer, but other than opening his tiny eyes slightly, he showed no other outward evidence of any emotion. As she turned to look at Phil, something caught her eye. She noticed Lance’s hand right was shaking uncontrollably as he tried to grab the glass of water in front of him, to the point that he gave up and hid both his hands under the table. She looked at his face. He looked so pale and gaunt that Mary wondered if he was physically ill and worried that he might collapse.

“Do they know what happened?” Steve asked.

“They aren’t a hundred per cent sure but suspect a brain haemorrhage, most likely as a consequence of the…alleged assault,” Mr Wright said.

“And now?” Steve asked.

“Now? Well, I guess they’ll change the charges. Perhaps you should reconsider that assessment, Mr Fenton—Oliver,” Mr Wright said, turning to look at the author.

“I can’t see why the fact that the hospital didn’t know how to look after Mr Green should mean that I have to undergo a psychiatric assessment. Do you think there’s anything wrong with me?” Mr Fenton asked, turning to look at Mary.

She sighed and looked straight at the writer, although she could feel everybody’s eyes on her. Then she looked at Mr Wright. He nodded in the author’s direction. “It’s evident he doesn’t think there’s any point in doing an assessment, and I know that without his cooperation there isn’t much you can do. But honestly, what do you think?”

“I can’t say I’ve had a chance to conduct a detailed interview, and I have had no access to any medical records or anybody else’s corroborative information, but from what Mr Fenton has told me and what I had observed, no, I wouldn’t say there’s any evidence that he is mentally ill or disturbed to the point of not being aware of the consequences of his actions. But my examination isn’t thorough enough to stand up in court—or anywhere else, for that matter. It’s more of an educated opinion than anything else.”

The writer nodded.

Mr Wright said, “It’s good enough for me. I think we have many other things to worry about and quite a different trial to prepare for, now. Mr Fenton, if you are in agreement, I’d like Mr Mayfield—Lance—to be in charge of the case. He’ll have plenty of support from the team, and I’ll personally supervise him, and officially the case will be listed under my name. You shouldn’t let his young age worry you. I trust him implicitly.”

Mary looked at Lance. He had fixed his eyes on the white piece of paper in front of him and his hands remained out of sight. He finally stood up, slowly, and extended his arm towards the writer. The lawyer seemed to have managed to get his emotions under control; other than being slightly pale, he appeared as sleek as usual. Fenton stood up and shook his hand.

“Well, I guess that will be all. Let’s get to work. If you have any ideas on how to formulate the case, do share with Lance or me. And I hope we can count on you all if we need an extra hand.”

Everybody nodded and stood up. As Mary followed Phil towards the door, Mr Wright put his hand on her shoulder. “Sorry about that. I’m sure it would have been helpful to have a full assessment, but there’s nothing we can do at this point.” He looked at the door and, once he saw Fenton was out of hearing, he added, “He’s very stubborn. But I guess that’s not a mental illness. You’ll be compensated anyway. And hopefully we will have occasion to cooperate more fully in the future.”

“Thanks, Percy. And don’t worry. There’s no need for compensation. I didn’t really do anything.” Mary didn’t know why, but she decided she didn’t want to be in Mr Wright’s debt. She followed Phil to his office and closed the door behind her.

“I knew he’d give the case to Lance. Teacher’s pet. Oh well, perhaps it’s better that way. I can’t say I feel very positively disposed towards Oliver Fenton.”

“How is that? I thought everybody deserved a defence.”

Phil sighed, dropping on his chair. “Yes, of course. But it’s always helpful if you believe your client and they are vaguely likeable. And I can say, with hand on heart, that I find him neither believable nor likeable.”

Mary nodded. “Yes. I agree with you on both counts.”

“Did he say anything of interest to you?”

“Nothing I could put my finger on, but there are things that don’t seem to fit. No, it’s officially none of my business. But I still intend to read his book… Mr Green’s death is very sad. And we never got to hear his side of the story, not independently, anyway.”

“That’s true.” We were quiet for a few seconds. Finally, Phil said, “Do you have any plans, or do you want to stay around and we can go for lunch later?”

Mary checked her watch. “No, thanks. It’s too early. I had a long list of things I wanted to do, and places I wanted to visit, and I had put them on the back burner because of this, but now I’ll have time. I have museums to visit, and I want to wander around the park again, take the ferry and go to Long Island… And if you fancy, I’ll try to get half-price tickets and we can go to watch another show later in the week.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“See you later.” Mary left the firm and set off on her adventures in the Big Apple.

If you want to catch up with the three previous chapters, here are the links:

Chapter 1 

Chapter 2 

Chapter 3 
If you’re intrigued and you haven’t caught up with the three others stories I’ve published featuring Mary and Phil, I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Here I leave a few more details and some links:

 

Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER PAPER

And if you want to get a taster of the book, you can check here:

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK! 

Ah, and I wanted to share the post I did for Lit World Interviews yesterday as I explain that I’m doing my own programme in Penistone FM this afternoon (26th January form 5 to 8 pm, GTM) just in case you can join me. All Welcome!

http://wp.me/p4XFVw-1ge

 

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FREE Writing samples

#FREE Chapter 3 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

Today, as promised, chapter 3 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings. And as I’ve received and gone through the corrections by Express Editing Solutions it should be more polished now…

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

3.     The Players

Tania took out her phone as soon as they left the meeting room. Steve shook Mary’s hand and said goodbye.

Phil looked at Ryan. “What about coming for a drink, or perhaps lunch?”

Ryan hesitated but finally shrugged and sighed. “As much as I’d like to, I’m afraid I can’t. My sister, Romy, is getting married in a few months, and we’ve got to the stage of choosing menus. Her fiancé is away, working abroad, and she’s enlisted me to provide her with tactical support. God knows why she thinks I’d be any good at that! She’s told me I’ll represent fussy eaters, so if I approve of something, it’s likely to be OK for the difficult people. The things one has to put up with!”

Mary smiled. Phil said, “Well, I see there’s no hope then. Neither Mary nor I have siblings, so don’t expect a lot of sympathy from us.”

“Lucky you! Although no, that’s not true either. I love my sister, though she can be a pain. Nice to meet you, Mary. It seems you’ll be spending some time here, so hopefully we’ll be able to catch up and do something else.”

“Sure.”

Mary and Ryan shook hands, and Phil patted his shoulder.

“Good luck!”

After debating what to do for lunch on the way back to Phil’s apartment, they decided to buy a few things at a deli in the neighbourhood and eat at home.

“So…what did you honestly think?” Phil asked Mary after they sat down to eat.

“About the writer?” Phil nodded. Mary ate some bread and when she finished chewing, looked at Phil. “You do understand I don’t have a crystal ball or superpowers? I can’t just look at the guy and know what’s going on inside his head.”

“Of course I know that. And I didn’t suggest you come to obtain a confession or anything like that. But I’m curious to hear your opinion.”

“I think Ryan is right. And so are you. He doesn’t seem in the least affected by his actions or worried about how the victim might be. He might be worried about what could happen to him, but not about Mr Green’s well-being. Whatever that man has done to him, or he thinks he has done, it seems a bit callous.  But Mr Wright has a point. Perhaps a formal assessment would shed some light.”

Phil looked at Mary sideways.

“What?”

“You don’t believe there’s anything wrong with him.”

“No. You’re right. I don’t think he’s mentally ill, no. With regards to his personality, no comment.”

“But you will use your interrogation methods to get to the truth.”

“I’m not a torture expert, Phil. I’ll just ask him a few questions and try to see if I can establish what his state of mind was like at the time of the assault. That’s all.”

“OK. If you say so.”

Mary looked at Phil, frowning, and he raised his hands, mouthing ‘sorry.’ After a few minutes of eating in silence, Phil asked, “So, what do you think about the players?”

“The players? Do you mean the people at the firm?”

He nodded.

She laughed. “Well, Tania…”

“Tania isn’t a player. Merely decor.”

“Phil!” Mary punched him, jokingly, in the arm.

“OK, OK. No need to go all feminist on me. You know I’m all for woman power, but Tania isn’t even interested in law. I suspect her father thought that at least if she was there she wouldn’t be getting herself into trouble and keeping bad company. Honest!”

Mary continued eating, pretending to be upset. Phil could be incredibly patient at work, but was not very tolerant of the silent treatment.

“So, what do you think?”

“Of your colleagues, you mean?”

“Yes.

“It’s difficult to know. I’ve only seen them in the boss’s presence, apart from Ryan very briefly, and wouldn’t dare to judge based on that. Is Steve his right hand?”

“Steve came here as a trainee shortly after Wright established the firm. They’ve been through a lot together, although there are rumours that there was some scandal and that’s why Steve hasn’t moved on to create his own firm and hasn’t insisted on having his name next to Percy’s.”

“A scandal?” Mary looked at Phil with her eyes wide.

“Yes, I know. It doesn’t look likely. And I have no idea what kind of scandal. It seems it was a while back, and it’s well buried.”

“And Ryan?”

“As I told you, he’s hoping to make partner, although I’m not sure he’ll fit in. He’s too… Well, he’s like the court jester. Always bouncing around and saying the first thing that comes into his head. He’s as likely to get a good kicking as make someone laugh.”

“I don’t think he’s a court jester at all. I think he’s a very sharp observer, although sometimes he might not come across in the right way, and people might dismiss his words. I think at their peril.”

“OK… And you haven’t met Lance, the shiniest new acquisition. He hasn’t been with us long but he has the perfect image and credentials. And Percy is like a boy with a new toy: he has to show him off to everybody.”

“I can see you really like him,” Mary said, winking.

Phil laughed. “It’s not so much him as the effect he has on others. But hey, it’s too early to call…”

“But there are other people working there too, no?”

“Yes, but in other departments or capacities. You might meet some of them, but these are the ones most likely to be involved in the case.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing them all in action. And you, of course.”

Phil smiled and they both started clearing up the table.

“And now, what are we going to do for the rest of the weekend?” Mary asked.

“Let’s pretend we’re tourists and do the whole New York experience,” Phil said. “What do you think?”

“Fantastic idea!”

And that’s what they did. They wandered around Central Park and even went for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, visited the Empire State Building and went to the top, queued at the Times Square half-price ticket booth and went to watch a musical, window shopped in Fifth Avenue…

“It is a great place,” Mary said.

“Yes. One feels like singing ‘New York, New York’,” Phil replied.

“Please, no. I’ve heard you sing before.”

Phil laughed.

When they got to Phil’s apartment on Sunday evening, there was a message on the answering machine. While Mary went to drop off her handbag in the guest bedroom, Phil listened to it. She joined him in the kitchen.

“It was from the office. It seems the client will be in early tomorrow morning to go over some details and paperwork. Percy wondered if you would mind seeing him and starting your assessment at around eleven a.m.”

“Yes. No problem. I assume they’ll tell him that’s what we’re doing though.”

“Well, yes. I have to go in earlier. We always have a meeting first thing, around nine, to discuss the work we’re doing. If you don’t mind waiting around for a bit, you can always come with me.”

“Sure. I’ll take a book.”

“No surprises there.”

If you’ve missed the previous two chapters, here are the links:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Just in case you’ve been hiding and don’t know I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Here I leave you a reminder and some links:

 

Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER    PAPER

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK! (Go on, clic. I’m fine but I had a car crash last week, the car isn’t that well and I could do with some good news).

 

 

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book promo Writing Writing samples

#FREEChapter2 of my psychological thriller ‘Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings’ #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

As I promised last week, here is chapter 2 of the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry. Escaping Psychiatry Beginnings.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

2.     The Firm

“Mary! Here you are!”

Phil hugged her and slapped her on the back. He looked well. Dressed casually, well, what passed for casually in Phil’s books, perfectly ironed chinos, Italian black leather shoes, a polo shirt, and impeccably cut and combed hair, and with a huge smile on his face. He definitely had something planned.

“You look like the personification of a WASP on his day off,” Mary said.

He chuckled. “Now, now. I’m wearing full length trousers. No tweed or golfing attire. And in my heart of hearts I’m a small town boy.”

“If you say so.”

He grabbed Mary’s arm by the elbow and picking up the suitcase she had deposited on the floor, guided her inside. “Come in, come in, have a look. You can drop your things in your room, here, and then we’ll have breakfast.”

“I had a drink on the train.”

“But I haven’t!”

Mary had a quick look at the apartment while Phil set the table. Tall ceilings, huge windows and an air of quiet elegance. A bit old-fashioned, but not pretentious.

“What do you think?”

“It’s a nice building and a quiet street, especially for Manhattan.”

“The rent is high, but I prefer it to one of those slick new apartments with no personality or charm.”

They munched on the toast, quietly. Finally Mary asked, “But how do you find the firm? I know you had misgivings. You thought it would be good for your career, but didn’t necessarily like their ethics.”

“I still don’t, although I keep quiet about it. Don’t ask, don’t tell, kind of situation. But they do have some of the best lawyers and I’ve learned a lot already. And there’s plenty more to come, I’m sure.”

“Are you thinking about effecting change from the inside?” Mary asked.

Phil didn’t look up from his plate, and kept playing with the marmalade and the butter, making patterns with his knife. “I don’t have a master plan as yet. So far I haven’t seen them do anything too questionable, although yes, they have a preference for taking cases that attract plenty of attention and are likely to be on the newspapers and TV. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with free publicity.”

Mary put her right hand on his, and managed to make him stop playing with his food and look up.

“Uh?”

“Don’t tell me you’re thinking of defecting to the dark side?”

He laughed, although his laughter sounded flat and not genuine. “Let’s not get melodramatic. I think the Force is still with me. They are committed to taking up a percentage of pro-bono cases, and I’ve volunteered. Sometimes one has to compromise. Even the devil can be a good ally if the cause is worth it.”

“Be careful. I fear for your soul.”

As he opened his mouth to reply, his mobile phone rang. Mary didn’t have one and didn’t want one. The thought of somebody being able to get hold of her anywhere and in any circumstances made her quite nervous. She hated being on-call, because you could never be completely at peace and you could be summoned at any time, and she felt that having one of those contraptions would be the equivalent of being forever on call. But Phil loved his gadgets, like most men she knew. And she also suspected it was a status thing. Although, thinking about it, it was probably one of his firm’s requirements.

“Yes. Of course I’m interested in being there when we talk to the client.” Phil put his hand on what must have been the microphone and made a gesture with his head, towards the phone. “It’s about that case I was telling you about. The writer,” he whispered.

Mary nodded. So far, she only knew the case involved a writer in some fashion or other but nothing else. He was doing a good job of building up the suspense.

“Yes. Sure. I’ll be there, Mr Wright. Oh, my friend… yes, the psychiatrist.” Silence. “Yes, of course I’ll ask her. I don’t think it’ll be a problem, if you’re sure the client will be OK with it.” He listened again and then laughed. “See you in half an hour. And thanks!”

“Was that your boss?”

“Yes. Percy Wright. Of the Wrights of Virginia. He doesn’t do much in the firm anymore, only picks up some case he’s interested in, occasionally, but he leaves all the groundwork to other lawyers and he just pokes his nose wherever he fancies. For some reason he’s quite intrigued by this case.”

“I guess he said I could go. But what did he say that made you laugh?”

“Oh, when I mentioned that I thought you’d be happy to come, of course if the client was OK with it, he said the client would be OK with whatever we told him. That he knew we were his best chance and he’d have to earn it. And he’d be grateful.”

“Oh.”

“Sorry for assuming you’d want to come…”

“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. Now, I’m not sure if I’m more interested in the case or in your boss and the firm.”

“Well, Mr Wright always says that there might be some intrinsic quality attached to good and evil, but the justice system is a completely arbitrary set of rules and which side we are in is at best an accident and at worst just pure bad luck. So perhaps there isn’t much difference.”

Mary wondered if her friend believed what he’d just said or it was a philosophical position. The Phil she knew had always been very convinced of what was wrong and what was right. Jokes apart, she was slightly worried.

They left the apartment and hailed a taxi.

The offices of the firm where Phil worked (Wright and Partners, Attorneys at Law) overlooked Central Park. They occupied a whole storey in a slick commercial building, all glass and shiny surfaces. It was slightly cloudy but Mary imagined that on a sunny day it must have glistened and glowed like a diamond.

While they were in the lobby, waiting for the elevator, Mary said, “How peculiar! I would have thought that somebody like your boss would have an office in an old building, full of the weight of history and following tradition. But no. It couldn’t be a more modern and neutral place if he’d designed it intentionally.”

“I think that he wants to make sure everything is impersonal and can be replaced. Apart from himself, of course. And the same goes for the firm’s name.”

“Don’t the partners query the fact that their names are not on top of the door, so to speak?” Mary asked Phil.

He turned to look at her with a lopsided smile. “Like Mr Wright said about the client, they are OK with whatever he says. And they’re grateful. In my opinion it all boils down to his insistence on not leaving the slightest option open for anybody else to make a claim. The partners might come and go, but there’s only one Mr Wright.”

They reached the top floor of the building and stepped out. As soon as they crossed the massive glass doors, a young thin man who had been pacing up and down, rushed towards them. “Oh, you’re here, Phil. Mr Wright didn’t want to make the client wait too long. You know he likes to strike when the iron is hot, as he says.”

“We came as soon as we could. Traffic was quite heavy. This is my friend, Mary Miller. She’s a psychiatrist. We met at college. This is Ryan Spencer. One of the lawyers here. And aspiring partner.”

Ryan wore black thick-rimmed glasses that made him look child-like, and a beautifully cut suit that looked loose on him. Not as if it was the wrong size, but as if he’d lost weight. He didn’t look sickly, though, only anxious.

“Some days I’d be quite happy if I was just left to do my work in peace, but that’s very unlikely. Pleasure to meet you.”

He extended his arm and bowed slightly as he shook her hand. “And now, let’s go in. Mr Wright said that he didn’t want to formally introduce you, Mary, can I call you Mary?, at least not for the time being. He just wants the client, Mr Fenton, to think that you’re part of the team. No details.”

She nodded. She wasn’t expecting any long term involvement and that would make life easier. No need to overcomplicate matters. Also, people’s reactions on being told that she was a psychiatrist had always been a mystery to her. Some people would take the opportunity to try and get an impromptu consultation, right there and then. Others would retreat, as if they feared that she’d discover their most intimate thoughts and secrets only by looking at them. But Mary had no superpowers, and although at times she might have her suspicions and be able to come up with an educated guess as to what people were thinking, especially people she knew, unless the person talked to her, it was an almost impossible task. There were also the people who treated it as if it were a joke, or a funny anecdote, and asked her if she was going to ‘analyse’ them. Surely if someone asked her that, there would be little need for analysis. And she’d never been an expert in psychoanalysis. Or keen on the idea.

The three entered what looked like a meeting room, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. There was a middle aged woman, dressed in a blue suit, sitting with a laptop in front of her, in the farthest corner from the door. There was a very attractive young girl, blonde, with honey-coloured eyes and wearing a polka dot dress, sitting close to the door. She had a small notebook and a pen and seemed poised to not miss a single word. Next to her was a man, older than Phil and Ryan, probably early forties, impeccably dressed in a navy blue suit, whose greying hair was a bit longer than the standard of the business seemed to impose. Perhaps he had a streak of rebellion in him. Sitting at the centre of the oval-shaped table, was Mr Wright. Although Mary had never met him, once she saw the man sitting there, she had no doubt.

Mr Percy Wright’s appearance was rather peculiar. He was dressed as if he was in the country house he surely had, in tweed, wearing a jacket with brown elbow patches, and his face, with a protruding jaw and a broken nose, seemed more appropriate for a price fighter than for a top layer. On closer look, his green eyes were inquisitive and exuded authority, and his hands were perfectly manicured. Mary wasn’t sure if the man was a genuine puzzle or he had put a lot of thought into wrong-footing his opponents and collaborators alike. Phil’s boss turned towards the door when they entered and nodded curtly. Phil, his hand behind his back, gestured for her to follow him.

When they sat, on the same side as Mr Wright, she was finally able to see ‘the client’. He looked younger than she had imagined, mid-thirties, and was the only one dressed casually, in jeans and a black T-shirt, that she wondered if it was his uniform perhaps, like some very successful people were said to do (always wear similar clothes to be more productive and avoid getting bogged down making inconsequential choices). His eyes were small, so much so that Mary couldn’t see them well enough to decide what colour they were. Nothing too striking. He was slim, but his hands looked skeletal, and she hoped they would not be expected to shake hands with him. The thought that she might feel the bones made her cringe.

“Are we all here, then?” asked Mr Wright. They all nodded. He stared around the table, to make sure he had everybody’s attention, and nodded at his secretary. “Good. We can start, then. For those of you who haven’t met him yet, this is Oliver Fenton, the famous author. Steve, give us the main details of the case.”

Steve, the older man of undefinable age, started talking. “Mr Fenton is accused of aggravated assault, although it could become attempted murder —it depends on the DA and how things evolve—, on the person of a Miles Green. Mr Fenton describes what amounts to serious harassment on the part of Mr Green, who had been pestering his agent, and later him personally, sending letters, making phone calls, and in general making a nuisance of himself, for months. On the day of the incident, Friday the 23rd of April, as Mr Fenton was on his way out of his apartment building in 5th Avenue, Mr Green appeared from behind the reception desk, and attacked Mr Fenton, threatening him and trying to choke him. Mr Fenton managed to overcome his attacker and restrain him onto the floor. As he resisted and tried to attack him again, Mr Fenton hit him on the head with a heavy brass lamp. Very shortly after, it seems, a couple who also lived there arrived, stopped Mr Fenton and called an ambulance and the police. Mr Green was already unconscious then. He hasn’t recovered since and remains in hospital in intensive care.”

That had been around six weeks ago.

“What did you mean when you said that the couple ‘stopped’ Mr Fenton?” Phil asked.

“He was still hitting him with the lamp when the neighbours walked in.”

“Do we have any pictures of the victim?” Phil asked, again.

Steve looked at Mr Wright, who nodded, and Steve passed a folder to Phil. He looked at the contents for a few seconds and then passed it to Mary. She thought she shouldn’t look at them, but realised it would seem weird to the client, and quickly looked over the pictures. She doubted she’d ever be able to recognise Mr Green based on those pictures. His face was so swollen and bruised that it was difficult to make out the slits of the eyes. The bridge of his nose was flattened out, and it looked as if both cheekbones were fractured. The next picture showed a ragged hole in the back of the head, a few inches from the nape of the neck. The impact had been so hard that the skull had caved in.

She passed the file to Ryan, who shook his head, indicating that he’d already seen the contents, and stood up, taking the file back to Steve.

“Any word from Mr Green’s doctors?” Mr Wright asked.

Steve cleared his throat and said, “They have no idea if he’ll make it. They had hoped that with steroids the swelling of the brain would go down and things might improve, but so far that’s not the case. His family have asked that they do some further tests. They seem determined to pull the plug if they can find no evidence of brainwaves.”

As Mary was about to say something, Phil grabbed her arm tightly and she kept quiet. He asked, “What family are we talking about?”

Steve sighed.

“He was, is, I mean, married and they have twins, a boy and a girl, 18 months old. They were separated, and had not lived together for six months prior to the incident.”

“He blames me for the separation. The victim, I mean.” Oliver Fenton had spoken. Although the volume was low, there was steel in his voice and his words resonated around the room. No remorse, no sadness.

They were all looking at the client. Rather than being intimidated by having all eyes on him, Mary thought he seemed to puff up and grow taller, as if he enjoyed public attention.

“Yes, he kept following me everywhere, writing, phoning, turning up at events, insisting that I’d taken everything from him and I was a criminal.”

“How?” Phil asked. “Did you know him? Did you have an affair with his wife? Was that the reason for the separation?”

Mr Fenton shook his head. Mary noticed how his neck was reddening. “I’ve never met the woman. Or him before all this. He was mad. Who knows why somebody as crazy as him does anything?”

“Even when people are ‘mad’, they usually do things for a reason, although perhaps it’s a reason that only fits in with their delusional view of the world. Do you have any idea about what he thought you had done to destroy his life?” Mary asked ignoring Phil’s kick under the table.

“He insists that I’ve written about him in my book. He told everybody that he was the person my main character, David Collins, was based on, and he kept insisting that due to that people were pestering him. It seems that the guy who had abused him had turned up, convinced that he had sold the story, and had threatened his family, and Green had been the victim of all kinds of humiliations.”

“Was it true?” Phil asked, looking at me intently, before turning to the client.

“No, of course not! Yes, I’ve based the book on the story of a person I know, but I’d never met that Miles Green guy before. And I’ve changed the details. Nobody would be able to recognise the individual by just reading my novel. I made sure of that.”

Mr Wright cleared his throat, noisily. It seemed his time to talk had come. He leaned forward and looked at the client intently. Mr Fenton’s face grew paler, but he returned the look.

“So, Mr Fenton… You’re telling us that Mr Green was making a nuisance of himself and following you everywhere, accusing you of all kinds of things and threatening you. Didn’t you think of going to the police?”

“Of course I did! You can ask my agent, Mike Spinner. I called them and we even went to the station to make a statement. They agreed to give him a warning but said that unless he actually tried to do something violent, there wasn’t much they could do. They suggested that perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to reveal who the real person behind the character in the novel was. That way he’d leave me alone and move on to something else. Can you imagine?! Reveal my sources!” Two red marks had appeared on his cheeks and seemed to be spreading and his eyes were bulging with anger. Mary saw now that they were grey.

“Well, you’re not a journalist…” Ryan said.

Mr Fenton jumped from his chair, but Mr Wright raised his hand and waved at him, getting him to sit down again.

“Don’t get excited, Mr Fenton. I guess what Mr Spencer, our young friend here, meant, was that you’re not sworn to secrecy and it’s not a professional obligation. Although I understand your wish to protect your sources. But, I wonder if you could enlighten us and give us some background, as I suspect not everybody here will have read your story, no matter how popular. We tend to have our heads buried in other types of books and papers, so you’ll have to forgive us for our ignorance. If you could be so good as to tell us, what your novel is about, when it came out, etc. We don’t need too many details, but just enough to help us understand the circumstances of the affair.”

Mr Fenton kept looking sideways at Ryan while he talked. “My novel, The Darkest Night, is the story of David Collins, a man who is brought up in a Catholic family, subjected to sexual abuse by one of the priests at the religious school where he studies, and later by a male neighbour, who is also a friend of his father. When he tells his family, they do not believe him, and he ends up on the streets when he is only fifteen. His life is very difficult. He lives on the streets for a while, and survives as best he can until he is literally pushed into an Army recruitment office and decides it must be fate and enlists. And life changes completely for him. He fights for this country and becomes an upstanding citizen.”

“I see. And you say it’s based on a true story,” Mr Wright added, opening the file and seemingly checking something.

“Yes.” The writer’s eyes were fixed on the file.

“At this moment in time we’re not going to ask you to give us the name of that person, although let me make it perfectly clear that it might become necessary that we know, later on, and that here we are obliged, by professional code, to keep the secret, so you don’t need to be worried about that. But in the meantime, if you could tell us how you came across the story, unless the protagonist is based on somebody you’ve always known.”

“No, no. Nothing like that. It’s quite simple, really. I volunteered, years back, and manned a telephone helpline for people thinking of committing suicide, or with mental health problems in general. A young guy phoned me and told me his story. This was a few days before he enlisted and he had hit rock bottom. We chatted for quite a while and he agreed to phone me again in a few days. When he phoned me again, he had enlisted and was ready to go into training. He kept in touch when he could and even phoned me when he got posted to Iraq. When he came back, we arranged to meet and by then I had decided his story should be told, although in novel form. When I suggested it, he agreed, on the understanding that he would read it and I’d make changes to protect his privacy and hide his identity. And that’s what we did.” He only raised his eyes to look at Mr Wright when he finished talking. To Mary’s ears it sounded rehearsed, but then he’d probably been asked the same question quite a few times.

Mr Wright looked around, as if inviting further questions. Phil didn’t hesitate, “Are you still in touch?”

“With the original David, you mean? Once the novel came out and it started to attract so much attention we decided it would be best not to be in contact, to prevent anybody from making the connection between him and the book.”

“I’m surprised he didn’t come forward when he heard you were in trouble,” Ryan said.

Judging by the look Mr Fenton shot at him, Ryan would not be on his Christmas-card list.

“He’s not that easy to reach.”

Mary was surprised that nobody asked him why. Either the information was already known, or they’d all assumed that somebody else would ask the question and now the moment had passed. Ryan was on the edge of his seat, but even he must have thought he’d attracted enough hostility from the client for one day and gave up.

“If it’s OK, I have to meet my agent for lunch. We had organised a book signing tour, and with all this we’ll have to reschedule.”

“Yes, of course. Maggie, my PA, will arrange a few appointments, starting on Monday morning. We have plenty of information to work through. And you haven’t met Mr Mayfield, yet. Although he’s the youngest of my partners in the firm, he has plenty of experience in similar cases.”

Mary looked at Phil and he shook his head slightly, as if to indicate that they’d talk about it later.

The author stood up and nodded briefly. The woman who had been typing in the corner accompanied him out of the meeting room. Once the door closed behind them, Mr Wright cleared his throat. “Phil, will you introduce your friend to all of us, please?”

Phil blushed and stood up. Mary couldn’t help thinking about a headmaster telling off a young kid.

“This is Dr Mary Miller. She’s a psychiatrist. She also writes, although she has not published anything yet.”

Everybody nodded in her direction. Then Phil proceeded to introduce everybody. Steve Burman smiled pleasantly. The young girl, Tania, no surname used in the introduction, was there on a placement from college.

“My Dad works in accounts and thought it would make for an interesting project. And Mr Wright kindly agreed.”

“And Maggie, my PA, who’s gone out with Mr Fenton. So, first impressions?”

“It’s a good story,” Steve said.

“Do you really think so?” Ryan asked. “There are lots of holes in it.”

“Nearly as big as the one in the victim’s skull,” Phil added. “I don’t know how big or heavy that lamp was, but to make a hole that size, he must have hit him with something very heavy and many times. Once the attacker was unconscious, why carry on?”

“Perhaps we’ll have to look at his mental state and mental health. Maybe the harassment became a bit too much for him and he lost control,” Steve said.

“Could we convince you, dear Dr, to consult on the matter? You could do an assessment of Mr Fenton’s mental state and see if there’s anything else we need to do. I mean any tests, imaging, or any other expert we could call that might be of use when putting together his defence,” Mr Wright said, looking intently at Mary.

“He didn’t strike me as particularly disturbed, but the current circumstances aren’t the best to make a judgement. As long as I can fit it in during my visit, I’d be happy to be of assistance.”

Mr Wright smiled at Mary and then stood up, nodding at everybody and officially ending the meeting.

 

As I told you last week, to prepare for the launch, Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Here I leave you a reminder and some links:

 

Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER    PAPER

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

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#FREEprequel ‘Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings’ Psychological Thriller. 1st chapter

Hi all:

I promised I’d be sharing the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry my psychological thriller book, that collects three stories. Mary Miller, the psychiatrist and writer protagonist of the stories gets in all kinds of adventures in the book.

Here, we see how and when she became involved for the first time in a case. Ah, and the case is about a writer who is being stalked and harassed by a fan/madman, or is it?

Ah, I have a cover now! So consider this a cover reveal too!

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

And here it is:

1.     The Crisis

“It was terrible! I’m telling you, Phil. Disgraceful! The guy was pouring out his heart and soul and I wasn’t even listening to him! What kind of a psychiatrist am I? Where is my empathy? Caring profession! Ha! Couldn’t care less profession, maybe!”

“Come on, Mary. Don’t beat yourself up. It was the early hours of the morning and you had been working all day.” Phil seized the opportunity when Mary had to stop to breathe, to try and get his point across. He wasn’t a lawyer and the voice of reason for nothing. His friend Mary, usually level-headed and calm, was in a bit of a state. Yes, she had a pretty stressful job, working as a trainee psychiatrist in a busy hospital. But she was quite senior now and not usually given to catastrophizing.

“That wasn’t his fault. Damn, the guy was talking about his life, his girlfriend had left him and he was contemplating suicide and I was… away with the fairies. I haven’t the slightest idea of what he told me.”

“Nothing happened. You gave him good advice and evidently must have heard enough. You probably only switched off for a few seconds. And you gave him what he needed.”

“How so? He wanted somebody to listen. And I wasn’t listening!”

Phil realised that he was likely to inflame the situation, no matter what he said, and decided to allow Mary to vent. She’d run out of steam at some point. Hopefully.

She stopped talking after a few more minutes of lamenting her lack of empathy. Phil decided it might be safe to intervene.

“Why don’t you—”

“It’s a con game,” she interrupted him. “Do you remember that movie, House of Games?”

“The one about the female psychiatrist and the con men? David Mamet’s, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, precisely that one. I’m coming to the conclusion that they had a point. We just put on a performance and as long as we are credible, good actors, and have the appropriate props and jargon, we get away with it.”

“From that point of view, I guess all professions are a con game,” Phil said.

“Perhaps. But most of them don’t take the moral high ground or go around telling people what to do.”

Phil was about to contradict Mary, but realised that she seemed to be calming down and it would be better to try a different tack.

“You must be due a vacation, Mary. Why don’t you come and spend some time with me? You could always accompany me to work. Get a bit of distance and see how it feels to be an insider somewhere else.”

“Won’t your law firm have something to say about that? Client privilege and all that?”

“I’ll vouch for you. And I’m sure I could convince them that having you ‘consulting’ with us could be useful. To give us a different perspective. Especially if you aren’t going to charge them for the service.”

“I’m starting to wonder if you have a case you wanted my opinion on, and my call has just been the perfect excuse,” Mary said, in a more upbeat tone.

“You have a very suspicious mind, dear Mary.”

“When a lawyer says that, it’s time to worry.”

Phil was used to people making jokes and saying not very complimentary things about lawyers. He did some pro-bono work, but had no illusions that he would change society with his profession. But it was interesting nonetheless.

“So, what do you say? Are you coming to spend some time with me?”

Mary was quiet for a few seconds. She finally said:

“Won’t I be in the way?”

“In the way of what?”

“You’re single, well, divorced, and a bloke. Don’t you have a woman in your life at the moment?”

“You know I’m still recovering from my divorce.” Phil made an effort to sound as sincere as possible. Mary had a very finely tuned bullshit detector.

“Ha! That’s funny! I haven’t seen you cry or be sad at all about your failed marriage. I’ve never truly understood why you married Iris.”

“Well… She was hot.”

“Sure, but otherwise… Not up to your intellectual standards, Phil. And you sent her to your mother’s as soon as you went back to Law School, and I’d say you might have seen her a handful of times in the three months your marriage lasted, at a push. I’m sure you saw me more often than your saw her.”

“Well, if you had played your cards right, perhaps you could have become my wife instead.” Phil didn’t know where that had come from. He hoped Mary would take it as a joke. Because that was what it was, right?

“You would run a mile if you thought I had any design on you.”

Phil burst out laughing. “Probably much farther than a mile. Don’t get me wrong. I do love you, but I think we’d probably drive each other insane if we were a couple. We know each other far too well.”

Phil realised he wholeheartedly believed what he’d just said, although he’d never formulated the thought before. Could he be truly open and honest in a relationship? Perhaps that had been the problem all along. He didn’t let anybody get close enough, at least not the people he ended up in a relationship with.

“So you think having secrets from each other is the recipe to a successful relationship. Based on that premise, I’m not surprised you’re still on your own. And yes, no need to remind me I’m also on my own. Relationships are not my priority at the moment. Trying to decide what I want to do with my life is. I don’t need added complications. And of course, I suspect lots of men would think that I’m not hot enough to make good partner material.”

“You talk yourself out of it before you even try, dear Mary. But I’m sure we can chat about that in more detail when you’re here. When will that be?”

“I’ll have to check with my bosses, HR and the other doctors, but there aren’t school holidays coming up or any such things, so we might be lucky. I’ll speak to everybody tomorrow, if I can, and I’ll let you know.”

“Good. I hope it’s soon.”

“Why?” She sounded suspicious.

“Because the firm has just taken up the defence of a writer, and I know you love reading and writing.”

“Oh, I see. Yes, you’re right. And perhaps taking up writing again would be helpful. What’s the case about?”

“You’ll probably hear about it soon enough, but I can’t give you any inside information until I know the firm is OK about your involvement, and you’re actually coming. That would be careless, not to say unethical, on my behalf.”

“Of course. Let’s talk tomorrow, then.”

“Speak to you tomorrow.”

“Phil?”

“What?”

“You’ve done a good job.”

“What are you talking about?”

“First of putting up with the moaning, but more than that, of setting up the hook. I’m intrigued about the case, now.”

He punched the air in silent celebration. ‘Yes!’ he thought. “Just something that suddenly came to mind while we talked.”

“Yes, sure… Night.”

“Good night.”

Mary phoned Phil back the next day and confirmed she would be going to spend a couple of weeks with him. “I’ll arrive on Saturday morning, if that’s OK. But, honestly, let me know if I’m going to be in the way. I can always book myself in somewhere. At a hotel or something.”

“No, no, that will be unnecessary. You can stay here. Ah, and by the way, I did have an informal chat with my boss, and he was interested in your perspective and opinion on the case, both from the psychiatric point of view and from an insider’s.”

“An insider’s?”

“I told Mr Wright that you also write. He was so interested that he even offered to let you stay in one of the firm’s apartments. They have several for clients from out of the city and for newly arrived lawyers. I told him we’d made other arrangements but he was serious.”

“And why is he interested in my psychiatric opinion?”

“We’ll talk about that when you’re here. I’ll be eagerly waiting for you on Saturday morning.”

Thanks so much to all for reading, thanks to Ernesto for the great cover, and well, like, share, comment… and if you want to click… I’ll leave you a link to Escaping Psychiatry, that by the way, it’s only $0.99 at the moment!

Escaping Psychiatry
Escaping Psychiatry

Escaping Psychiatry in Amazon. For many other links, follow the Books page at the top!

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'I Love Your Cupcakes' My new romantic and sweet novel is coming out soon. And here is the beginning

Hi all:

I’m not sure how many of you will remember that a few months back I was asking for suggestions of titles, images, names of characters, well, most of everything, for a romantic novel I was planning on writing. And recently I talked about it as part of a blog hop where writers were talking about his characters. Guess what! I’ve written it!

‘I Love Your Cupcakes’ (the blame for the title is all mine) is in the process of being edited, corrected, translated, polished and made-up. But I thought I’d leave you with the beginning (and the likely cover):

Prologue. Now

‘Camera, Action!’

Dulcinea (Dulce for her friends) was frozen in place. She could see the producer talking but her mind was on overdrive and nothing went in. “Oh my God! How did I ever get into this situation! What have I let myself into!” she thought. Adelfa’s elbow on her side made her wake up:

“Come on! We have 45 minutes to create the Killer Cupcake to end all Killer Cupcakes!”

“Well, if that’s what we have to do, let’s do it!”

 

 

Chapter 1. Beginnings (Three years ago)

Dulcinea loved her name. She had always felt it suited her to a T. So much so, that if she hadn’t been called that she was convinced she would have changed her name to Dulcinea. OK, it wasn’t the most typical name for an American girl, but her mother, Carmen, was Spanish and she always thought that the imaginary lady/love of Don Quijote deserved a second chance and a bigger role than she had ever been given. She also adored the fact that if it was shortened to Dulce, its meaning was ‘Sweet’ in Spanish. And if there was something her mother had loved was everything sweet. Carmen was the best amateur baker amongst all her friends’ mothers and she doubted that many professionals of baking and desserts could have competed with her. Her culinary skills got so popular and so many people asked her to give them their recipes or teach them how to bake that she ran a course on desserts and cooking at the local adult college until her death. It was only fair and fitting that even her daughter was Dulce.

“What do you say, then? You’ve been fighting against fate long enough. How many careers and jobs have you tried?” Adelfa, her best friend, had always been supportive of all her ideas, but was nothing if not opinionated. “Let me count…”

“…the ways?” Dulce joked.

“Don’t get Shakespearean on me.”

“Elizabeth Browning not Shakespeare.”

“See what I was saying? I know how much you love books, but…if you could do anything practical with it maybe, but as it is…So, back to what we were talking about before the literary interruption. Hairdressing…” Adelfa counted one with her fingers.

Now if this was a movie it would show a montage of a few less than graceful and chic haircuts, a burnt perm to the point of loss of clumps of hair, although Dulce’s crowning disaster had always been coloring. A full palette of unintentional bright oranges, greens, and even tri-color effects had come out of her hands and sealed her exit from hairdressing school.

“Air stewardess…” Two.

The movie would now show Dulce dropping the bags when trying to secure them in the overhead locker, pushing the trolley over somebody’s foot, dropping hot coffee on another passenger’s lap, and falling seated repeatedly on several passengers. She’d never been any good wearing heels and decided the continuous traveling didn’t suit her either. At least she wasn’t sick on anybody.

“Horticulture and ornamental gardening…” Three.

This could now get scary, especially if you’re fond of flowers and vegetables. Green fingers was something nobody could accuse Dulce of. Other than rock gardens with no plants, nothing survived her attempts at gardening. And her garden designs looked like something out of El Bosco. Adelfa used to joke that she might be OK if she specialized on gardens for Goths. Not that Goths liked fresh-air that much.

“Business Studies…” Four.

Actually, the studies had been OK. Although Dulce preferred fiction and literature, she didn’t mind numbers or studying in general. So the theoretical part had been fine. Once it came to applying it to real-life situations, she was too soft and not enough of a risk-taker, didn’t like cutthroat competition and wasn’t aggressive so she never made it. Although she considered teaching it, the most engaging teachers were always those who had plenty of personal anecdotes to tell. And she wanted something more hands on.

“Photography…” Five.

Now, wouldn’t you think that with digital cameras it is impossible to take a terrible picture? Well, if you knew Dulce and saw her pictures you’d know that’s wrong. Bad lights, bad angles, body parts instead of the whole. Not even a proper top model would look good in her hands.

“Child-minding…”

“OK, OK. If you’re just trying to make me feel better, you’re doing a great job. And nothing bad happened to any of the babies. I’m just not cut out for it. Not everybody is as lucky as you, Adelfa. You’ve always liked mixing things and analyzing things. You’re a born Chemist and have always known it.”

Adelfa had been good at Chemistry since she was very young and had awed teachers and later professors with her skills. When she finished university she had several of the biggest Pharmaceutical companies fighting for her, although she’d chosen to teach at the local university and work on her own research. But her professional success did not seem to be enough for her. And despite her looks (beautiful café-au-lait color, kissable mouth, curves in all the right places, and a bum Beyoncé would be happy to call her own) she was once again mourning another failed relationship.

“Yes, but I’m yet to find a formula that applied to men will make the idiots and losers fluorescent.”

Dulce could not help but visualize the results of such a preparation. It would be worth billions!

“Maybe you’d need to train in magic rather than Chemistry for that. From my very limited experience on the subject I’d say that science and the best minds have failed miserably when trying to find a formula for the perfect relationship.”

“It’s probably not the guys’ fault. It’s me. I can ruin the nicest guy it seems.”

Dulce hated seeing her friend that way. First she wasn’t right. Second, she was her friend and she’d back her up no matter what. And third, her latest boyfriend, Melvin, was not the nicest guy. She’d had worse, but Melvin was one of these guys who seemed to think collecting women was a worthy hobby and the better the women, the higher their value for him. He’d pursue them, use every trick in the romantic book, and then, once they were secured, move on to another, to the next challenge, to the next jewel in the collection.

“I’m sure if you wanted you could ruin somebody, but no, it isn’t your fault. You’re right; he was an idiot and a loser. And OK, you’re also right about me. Nothing I’ve done so far has worked out. And yes, it’s true, I’m good at baking, but how am I going to make a living out of that?” Dulce’s baking skills had been the subject of many conversations between the friends for many years, but recently Adelfa had been badgering Dulce more than usual about it.

“Let’s bake something and then we can talk. One of your mother’s recipes. What about that cake that had chocolate, toasted almonds, eggs, butter, milk, flour and baking powder?”

“Queen of Saba? But will we have all the ingredients around?” Dulce asked.

Adelfa laughed picking up the car keys.

“Let’s go shopping! We’ll need a few other things too!”

“Ice-cream, cream…”

“And some salty snacks too, to even things out. At least the wanker left me before we ever moved in together and I won’t have to spend any time moving stuff. Quickly! Let’s not waste any baking time!”

Once back at their apartment (in reality the ground floor of a house that had been converted to a couple of apartments, with the advantage that they had the patio and an old but still zesty lemon-tree all to themselves) they unpacked, put their aprons on and got on with their baking. Adelfa had also stocked on drinks and served herself a glass of red wine and lemonade for Dulce.

“One of these days we’ll have to get you drinking alcohol. It’s too prim and proper this non-alcohol stance of yours.”

“You know full well how I feel about alcohol, Adelfa. It’s not a religious thing, or even a moral thing, although I can’t say I like what it can do to people. It’s…”

“A taste thing. I know, I know.”

“And I don’t mind it for cooking. I must admit it does help with some recipes. A lot.”

“You know what I think about it. As the saying goes: I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!”

Dulce shrugged and they both laughed and got on with the cooking. The two friends peeled almonds, mixed butter and sugar, mashed the almonds into tiny bits, separated the egg-yolks from the whites, melted the chocolate with a little bit of milk and then added all the ingredients (plus the flour and the baking powder). They put the mix in a baking mold in a warm oven and went out in the patio after washing the implements, to wait for the oven to do its magic. They had recently bought a double swing chair and they both jumped on it moving backwards and forwards at a slow pace.

“So…any ideas? How could we turn my baking skills into a business? Actually, I should say “our” baking skills, as you’re the one who can work out the right combination and amount of ingredients to make the cakes or pastry do what it should” Dulce said.

“OK, you’re the Goddess of Flavors and I’m the Queen of Chemistry and calculating measurements and oven temperature. I wasn’t planning on leaving my job, especially the research bit, although I could always work fewer hours, but we could experiment after my work and I could come up with precise instructions that could be followed by other staff who’d help with the baking” Adelfa said.

“Staff? Goodness! If we’re going to have detailed methodology and recipes, maybe I could write a cookery book. Or a baking and sweets book. They are always popular and I love books, although have never written anything long. However, I guess writing a recipe book isn’t quite like writing other kinds of books.”

Adelfa chewed her bottom-lip, a habit she’d had from childhood and she’d go back to when she was thinking, especially when alone.

“A Cookery book. It isn’t a bad idea, but as a business proposition…For what I’ve seen the books of that kind that sell well are usually either written by celebrities, people who are well-known chefs (because they have a program on the TV), or books associated with a famous restaurant or location. I think we should keep it in mind for when our bakery/coffee shop becomes a success. Then we can branch out and produce all kinds of marketable products, not only books, but maybe a range of cookery utensils, maybe join in with some organic flour and flavorings distributors and rubber-stamp our label on them, aprons, children’s cookery books, videos, TV programs…”

Dulce felt as she did at times of panic. She had the vivid sensation that her freckles were growing and taking over the whole of her face, her green eyes were about to be power-ejected from their orbits and her ginger (or strawberry blonde according to Adelfa) hair was standing on end. Surprisingly enough, at times such at this when she’d managed to get to a mirror, she only looked scared and pale, but she wasn’t truly convinced the mirror wasn’t just playing a trick on her. She knew what she felt.

“Breathe Adelfa! Breathe! Maybe we should start at the beginning. Are we talking about a bakery, a coffee shop, or…?”

“And why not a mix of the two?”

Yes, why not?

 

I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga Núñez Miret (cover by Lourdes Vidal)
I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga Núñez Miret (cover by Lourdes Vidal)

 Thanks for reading, and you know if you’ve enjoyed it, like it, share, and comment. I’ll keep you updated and make a big announcement when it is published, of course! (I hope it should be in a few weeks!) Any ideas to promote are welcome!

Ah, and as I told you, I’ve started reviewing books for BTS-e Magazine and one of my reviews is published in the current number. Check it out here! (And of course, check all the rest of the content)

http://issuu.com/btsemag/docs/sept-oct-2014/123?e=5491198/9147732

 

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