Sunday, December 11, 2016

Psychics and Suspense: Excerpt From GORGEOUS NIGHTMARE

Posted by: Angela Campbell

I haven't had the best year personally, and it's only gotten worse lately (If you care to, you can read the details on my personal blog but otherwise I won't bore you). While I didn't have a lot of time to properly prepare a blog today, I didn't want to let the opportunity pass without wishing all of our readers and my fellow authors here Happy Holidays.

And while my novella, Gorgeous Nightmare, was released last year as part of the Here Be Magic boxed set, I recently released it as a standalone with a new cover in case you missed it and love psychic mysteries. I'll even throw in an excerpt because it's the season of giving. 😉

Dakota McBride is doing everything she can to fit into her new life in Asheville while guarding secrets that could get her killed. An unexpected run-in with Tyler Jackson—her older brother’s best friend and her long-time fantasy—puts everything in jeopardy. Dakota is a woman being hunted by a deadly serial killer, and Tyler seems hell-bent on protecting her, same as he always has. Through dreams, he’s foreseen her impending death.


Someone was watching her again.

As Dakota McBride huddled beneath her too-thin jacket and stepped into the frigid night air, a chill that had nothing to do with the weather crawled down her spine. An eerie feeling. She’d been having it a lot lately, especially at night whenever she ran errands.

Her mama, God rest her soul, used to tell everyone the sight ran in their family, and even though Dakota had gone through phases in her youth where she’d practiced numerology, astrology, and tarot card reading hoping one of them might trigger some kickass superpowers, she couldn’t figure out any of it.

Her mama’s voice, as warm and sweet as Southern yams, echoed through her memories now as that chill burrowed deep into her bones.

“Baby Dee, let me tell you somethin’,” her mama had said. “Can’t never could.”

Can’t never could, my ass.

Dakota had stopped believing in psychic powers years ago, but had she learned her lesson? Apparently not. Not if she was actually wondering if the weird tingling in her gut was signaling to her that she was being watched right now. Watched by someone other than her backup team, that is. There was no one else on the street.

She snorted, and her breath evaporated into a white cloud in front of her face. The tingling was probably a side effect of not being properly dressed for the freaking coldest February on record in Asheville, North Carolina.

Her phone vibrated against her hip, so she tugged it out of her jean pocket to read the text.

You’re being followed. 

Her heart damn near jumped into her throat, but she kept moving as she deleted the message. She tucked the phone back into her pocket and tried to act normal. Her fingers itched to check that her badge and gun were still easily accessible, but she couldn’t risk giving anything away if the person following her was one of their suspects.

That unsettling unease weighed heavy in her gut as she lifted her bare hands to her mouth and blew a warm breath over them. As she walked, she inspected the shuttered windows around her, trying to catch a reflection of the street behind her.


Whipping around, her heart lodged firmly in her throat, she caught sight of a dark-haired young man in a parka maneuvering along the sidewalk like a young colt testing his new legs.


He lifted his right hand and waved something, which nearly cost him his balance on the icy concrete. No, not Tyler. Every muscle in her body tightened, traumatized by the momentary shock of mistaking him for Tyler Jackson, someone she hadn’t thought of in years until that idiot Herbert had put him back into her mind.

This young man’s dark hair was cut short and he was blessed with the same rugged jawline, but he was no Tyler Jackson. College-age, the man wore sneakers, new jeans, and looked far too preppy to be in the same league as her first crush.

“I think you dropped this.”

Forcing herself to relax, she made her way back to him and reached for the card he held out to her. It was her supposed driver’s license, the one she’d deliberately dropped as bait back in the pub, which explained how he knew her name.


“Luke. I was in the pub, having a drink with some friends when I saw that fall out of your pocket.”

There had been a few young men at the bar, but she was also ninety-nine percent certain he hadn’t been one of them.

“Well, I really do appreciate it, Luke.” If he wasn’t their killer, she hoped her tone discouraged him from lingering or, heaven forbid, hitting on her. If he was, he’d probably enjoy the challenge it provoked, maybe enough to take the bait and come after her.

“No problem.” He headed back toward the restaurant, turning only to add, “Hey, you be careful out here. The news said the roads were covered in black ice.”

She nodded and forced a smile, glancing down at the ID she still wasn’t quite used to before shoving it into her back left jean pocket.

Her cover was that of a young woman, new to town, down on her luck, desperate for a new start. Agent Ryan had told her to lose her car, ditch her purse, and dress down, like someone who was ill prepared for a complete lifestyle change.

Like someone no one would miss if she suddenly disappeared.

Sadly, that wasn’t too far from the truth. She hadn’t even called her brother, Memphis, before going undercover because they talked so infrequently. That reality suddenly hit her in the gut like a hammer. If anything happened to her, if this case went sideways, would anyone care?

Her boots crunched and slid through hardening snow as she navigated her way to the prehistoric Chevrolet truck she’d used to come downtown. Wayne had been letting her borrow his vehicle to pick up supplies for the inn where she’d recently been hired as a live-in assistant innkeeper. This time of year didn’t scare up too many guests, Wayne had told her when he’d hired her last month, but five of the inn’s nine guest rooms were currently occupied by locals who’d been affected by power outages.

There had been one more booking, made online for T.R. Kohler, arriving today. Dakota glanced at her watch and amended that. He or she was supposed to have arrived yesterday. It was now past midnight, and she’d manned the front desk all day waiting for Kohler to arrive. When her stomach had growled sometime around nine, Wayne had sent her on a supply run to Walmart and told her to grab dinner while she was at it. Take a few hours to relax. She’d earned it.

Asshole. He’d only sent her because he didn’t want to get out in this bad weather. Not that she could complain. The inn was beginning to feel claustrophobic , and besides, she needed to get out there and dangle herself like worm on a hook.

She was trying her best to stop in at different restaurants and bars whenever she could, getting to know people, making some friends. Because that’s what anyone who was alone and new to a town would do, right?

Sighing, she tucked her hands beneath her arms and stopped at the intersection to let a street-clearing truck go past. She used the opportunity to discreetly study her surroundings rather than dwell on what a colossal idiot she was not to have worn gloves or a heavier coat—not that she was supposed to be able to afford a heavier coat right now, but still.

Her teeth clattered uncontrollably, which would have probably earned her some weird looks if anyone had actually been close enough to hear the rapid clink of enamel against enamel. As it was, the only other person crazy enough to be out in this weather was Lonny, the knucklehead bartender who’d just closed up The Tipsy Cow and who was scurrying into the beaten up Ford parked on the curb in front of it, seemingly oblivious to her presence.

Quickening her steps, she made it to Wayne’s truck and then felt her heart thump a two-step. Someone had finger-made a large smiley face in the snow on the truck’s front hood.

The Smiley Face Killer had taken the bait. She was the next target.


Angela Campbell is the author of the psychic detectives series from Harper Impulse. Learn more about her and her books at

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