“This isn’t a ghost we’re dealing with. If only it were that simple…”
Eighteen years ago, when psychic Ruby Davis was a child, her mother – also a psychic – suffered a nervous breakdown. Ruby was never told why. “It won’t help you to know,” the only answer ever given. Fast forward to the present and Ruby is earning a living from her gift, running a high street consultancy – Psychic Surveys – specialising in domestic spiritual clearance.
Boasting a strong track record, business is booming. Dealing with spirits has become routine but there is more to the paranormal than even Ruby can imagine. Someone – something – stalks her, terrifying but also strangely familiar. Hiding in the shadows, it is fast becoming bolder and the only way to fight it is for the past to be revealed – no matter what the danger.
When you can see the light, you can see the darkness too.
And sometimes the darkness can see you.
I’m thrilled to be able to host fellow Crooked Cat author, Shani Struthers, on my blog today. She’s a best-selling author with a number of books to her name, including ‘Jessamine‘ and two books in the Psychic Surveys Series – paranormal mysteries that are capturing the imaginations of readers. These intriguing and exciting novels are set in our everyday world, populated characters we can all identify with, such as Ruby and Sarah; but Ruby has a gift which she wants to use to help others and this leads her into places she might regret exploring. I’ll hand over to Shani now, who has also kindly allowed me to publish below a free excerpt from ‘Rise To Me’.
In Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me, we return to the past. Ruby’s mother, Jessica, also a psychic, had a breakdown when Ruby was seven – ‘I’ve seen the face of evil,’ she said, ‘and it’s real.’ Brought up by her grandmother, Sarah, Ruby has been taught to walk in the light, to believe in the light, that the light will keep her safe. And that’s exactly what she’s done ever since she can remember. But a recent encounter changes all that. A memory from childhood, of what Ruby has seen also, starts to surface, that memory rekindled by a Psychic Surveys client and what it is he’s experiencing. Strange things start to happen, things she can’t explain. Her trust in everything and everyone around her is eroding. Even a day out at the beach turns into something deadly…
Swimming. Ruby was not a fan – never had been, never would be. She was a terra firma kind of girl but Cash had taken her by the hand and was pulling her forwards towards the less than blue sea. It was more of a green colour, murky, like a swamp she thought, not welcoming at all. On the contrary. It was distinctly unwelcoming.
She started to hesitate.
“Come on,” he cajoled, clearly determined. “I’ll look after you.”
Again she had that sense she’d spoil everyone’s fun if she didn’t comply. She should just lighten up. Go with the flow.
The day might have been hot but the Atlantic Ocean was cold, bitterly so, causing her to catch her breath. Not that it deterred those around her. People were swimming, splashing and shouting at each other, so much so, the noise was deafening, immediately making her head ache. Someone splashed her, cold droplets like sharp needles against her skin and she felt a flash of rage, felt like shouting too, like cursing, screaming and lashing out.
Ruby! This is supposed to be fun!
But she couldn’t deny it; she’d had more fun at the dentist.
Cash had briefly left her at the shore’s edge and swum several strokes but now he’d returned.
“Come on,” he called. “The water’s lovely.”
“It’s not, it’s horrid. I’m going back.”
Rising out of the water, he grabbed hold of her wrists.
“Come on,” he repeated. “Come a bit further out.”
“Cash, don’t,” she said being pulled forwards.
The water, it wasn’t just cold, it had a slimy quality to it, as though it were filthy. It was filthy. Why hadn’t he noticed? Why hadn’t anyone noticed? Mothers, fathers, children, teenagers, how could they possibly want to splash about in this… this cesspit?
“Let me go,” she pleaded but he wasn’t listening to her – he was too caught up in the moment. Worse than that – he was laughing.
“Cash, I’m not joking.”
“Come on, babe, remember what I said earlier.”
Babe? His use of the word infuriated her more. She wasn’t anyone’s babe.
She yelled his name at him but as she did so, the ground beneath her shifted suddenly, gave way. She plunged downwards, into the sea, her whole body immersed, her head too. Salt water rushed into her mouth and the taste was acrid. She started coughing, gagging, a reflex action but it only made things worse. She took in even more water. It was filling her lungs, drowning her. Where was Cash? Where the bloody hell was he? And how could she be falling so deep? She’d only walked out a few feet, but she was definitely sinking – as though she were an anchor, able to penetrate the sands below.
Despite her eyes stinging so badly, she forced them open, saw what she thought was a patch of sunlight. Relief cutting through the horror, she started swimming towards it. She’d break the surface soon. She’d get away from here, far, far away. Just as she was making headway, hands grabbed at her ankles and started pulling her down again. Cash, what the fuck…? Surely he hadn’t meant this when he said what they could get up to underwater. He wanted to kill her? Hands reached up further. Large hands. Cold hands. Much colder than the water. And their grip. It was like being caught in a vice – impossible to shake off. It had to be Cash. Who else could it be? He was trying to drown her! But why? Why, why, why? With all the strength she could muster, she continued thrashing, with her arms at least; screaming, unable to stop; swallowing more and more water, choking on it. Her mind became dark around the edges… hazy. It seemed ludicrous you could die surrounded by so many people, that not one person amongst so many would notice, wouldn’t respond. But no one did. Above her, where the light seemed to hover, so near and yet so far, everyone continued having fun – oblivious to her plight, her confusion, her sheer desperation. She was going to be killed. Her boyfriend was going to kill her. And still laughter rang out. Incessant laughter. Mocking laughter, as though the crowd were glad she was suffering so much. As though Cash was playing to the gallery, delighting them with his vile antics. He had duped her: lured her in; whispered words of love he didn’t mean. Hatred… she was burning with it.
Rise To Me
The Haunting of Highdown Hall