Exclusive Extract: Finding Ruby by J A Higgins

Finding Ruby is a brilliant new novel by author J A Higgins. Born and raised at Porton Down in Wiltshire, and currently working for the NHS in Salisbury, J A Higgins has always been fascinated by crime, history and the unexplained. FindingRuby is a Page Turner Awards 2021 winner, and the first in the Nell Montague mystery series whichwill examines how horrors from the past are still very relevant today.

It’s a powerful read that draws you in and keeps you gripped as you along with Nell uncover the secrets of her past and how some things stay with you even if you don’t realise it.

On Halloween night thirteen-year-old Ruby disappears in the company of a masked figure. She is never seen again. The only witness is Nell Montague who is just seven years old.

Twenty-three years later, Nell is trapped in an abusive relationship and still suffering from vivid nightmares of what she saw.

When tragedy strikes she escapes and attempts to put her past behind her. Then thirteen-year-old Emily disappears. Haunted by increasingly disturbing visions and helped by a reluctant psychic, Nell must unravel the mystery of what really happened that night because to save Emily she must first find Ruby.

But to do so she will question everything she thought she knew about her own childhood and soon discovers that nightmares don’t always end when you wake up.

Read on for an exclusive extract from Finding Ruby

Nell is a young woman, haunted by her past, and by the young girl she saw disappearing into the cellar of a derelict house, who was never seen again. When twenty-three years later another young girl disappears, the nightmares pick up speed and begin to bleed into her waking hours.

Hours later Nell was suddenly wide awake. She listened for the sound that had woken her and gazed around the lounge in the faint green standby light from the TV and DVD player. Nothing. But still, the adrenalin coursed through her veins. Her ears rang with the silence and then in the dark she heard breathing. Shallow and quick. Nell rolled slowly off the cushions, wincing at the creak of the floor, then still in her sleeping bag heaved herself in agonisingly slow caterpillar movements against the wall.

The breathing was quicker now and she heard a muffled sob. Was it coming from the hallway? Or perhaps from the apartment below, drifting up through a vent? Then she smelt it; cheap and sweet, the sort of perfume spray she wore as a teenager. Maybe it was just a fabric cleaner used on the sofa which had resurfaced with the warmth of her body. She was desperately trying to rationalise what was happening but there could be no mistake. Someone or something was with her in the apartment. Just out of sight, in the hallway. It began again, a shuffling sound; then another, and a yelp of pain.

Nell was breathing just as fast and for a moment she wondered if she was just hearing herself. With a gulp she held her breath and listened, eyes glued to the dark of the hallway, chest burning. For one beautiful, sane moment the apartment was silent except for the ringing in her ears and the faint buzz of the fridge. Then the shuffling started again. Whatever it was, it was inching forward, along the hallway and into the lounge. Within seconds it would be visible. In the gloom she could just make out the edge of the wall and in terror she took a gulp of air.

Then a car turned into the car park below, its tyres scrunching on the gravel. The sound of its door opening, then slamming shut cut into the night air and Nell tore her eyes away from the hallway. A woman’s laughter rose from below and it broke the tension in the apartment. There was no more shuffling or sounds of rapid breathing but it still took Nell fifteen minutes to pluck up the courage to put on the light, and ten more minutes to venture into the hallway. Nothing there, but still the faint aroma of body spray lingered. In her mind she played back what she had heard and then remembered the muffled yelp. Oh no. She had heard that voice before.

You can get a copy of Finding Ruby, here!

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