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by Brandilyn Collins

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When your worst fear comes true. Someone is watching Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her? Everyone knows she’s a little crazy. Kaycee’s popular syndicated newspaper column pokes fun at her own paranoia and multiple fears. The police in her small town are well aware she makes money writing of her experiences. Worse yet, she has no proof of the threats.


When your worst fear comes true. Someone is watching Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her? Everyone knows she’s a little crazy. Kaycee’s popular syndicated newspaper column pokes fun at her own paranoia and multiple fears. The police in her small town are well aware she makes money writing of her experiences. Worse yet, she has no proof of the threats. Pictures of a dead man mysteriously appear in her home—then vanish before police arrive. Multisensory images flood Kaycee’s mind. Where is all this coming from? Maybe she is going over the edge. High action and psychological suspense collide in this story of terror, twists, and desperate faith. The startling questions surrounding Kaycee pile high. Her descent to answers may prove more than she can survive.

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Gale Group
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Large Print
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5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

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A Novel

By Brandilyn Collins
Copyright © 2009

Brandilyn Collins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-27643-2

Chapter One She'd forgotten to turn on the porch lights.

Kaycee Raye pulled into her driveway and slowed her red PT Cruiser. Her gaze bored into the night. The streetlamp across the road behind her dispelled too few shadows. Someone could be out there, watching.

Her gaze cut left to the neighbor's decrepit black barn and its fence in need of paint. The barn hulked sullen and taunting, its bowed slats the perfect hiding place for peering eyes.

Kaycee shuddered.

She looked down Village Circle, running to the left of the barn into the apartment complex of Jessamine Village. All was quiet. Not unusual for nighttime in Wilmore, Kentucky, a small town about twenty minutes south of Lexington.

To the right of Kaycee's house old Mrs. Foley's wide front porch was lit. Kaycee stared into the dimness beyond the lamplight, searching for movement.

A curtain on Mrs. Foley's side living room window edged back. Kaycee tensed. Backlit by a yellow glow, the elderly woman's thin frame hunched behind the glass. Watching.

Kaycee's fingers curled around the steering wheel. It's only Mrs. Foley, it's only Mrs. Foley. The woman was harmless. Still, a vise clamped around Kaycee's chest. Since childhood she'd fought the strangling sense of being watched. Talk about Las Vegas odds - what were the chances of her buying a house next to a snoopy old woman?

Kaycee struggled to grasp the coping skills she'd learned over the years. Rational argument. Deep breathing for calm. Willing her muscles to relax. But her lungs only constricted more.

Swallowing hard, she eyed Mrs. Foley's silhouette. Las Vegas odds? Maybe. But fears could come true, even one's worst fear. Hadn't that happened to Kaycee's best friend, Mandy Parksley? Mandy had been plagued by the fear that, like her own mother, she would die young and leave her daughter, Hannah, behind. Kaycee insisted that would never come to pass. Mandy was healthy and fit. But at thirty-three she'd suddenly developed a brain tumor - and died within nine months.

Mrs. Foley's head moved slightly, as if she was trying to see inside Kaycee's car. That did it. Time to flush the woman out. Kaycee flicked on the light inside her Cruiser, leaned sideways, and waved with animation. "Hey there, Mrs. Foley!" She forced the words through clenched teeth.

The woman jerked away from the window, her curtain fluttering shut.

Breath returned to Kaycee slowly.

The bulb in her car seemed to brighten, exposing her to the night. Kaycee smacked off the light and glanced around.

Push back the fear.

But she couldn't. At Mandy's death a year ago, Kaycee's lifelong coping skills had crumbled. Rational thinking no longer worked. If Mandy's worst fear could happen, why couldn't Kaycee's? Maybe there were people out there watching.

How ironic that Mandy had been drawn to her through Kaycee's syndicated newspaper column about overcoming fear. "Who's There?" had millions of readers across the country, all so grateful to Kaycee for helping them fight back. Crazy but courageous Kaycee Raye. If she could overcome her multiple fears, so could they.

In the end, she hadn't been able to help Mandy.

If her readers only knew how far down she'd spiraled since then.

Shoulders tight, Kaycee hit the remote button to open her garage and drove inside. As the door closed she slid from her car, gripping her purse. She hurried under the covered walkway to her back entrance, key in hand. Kaycee shoved open the door, her fingers scrabbling around the door frame for the overhead light switch. As the fluorescent light flickered on, she whisked inside, shut the door, and locked it.

Eyes closed, she exhaled.

The weight upon her lifted. In her own home she could relax. Unlike her mother, she didn't peer out windows every minute. How she missed inheriting that habit, she'd never know. Still, all blinds and curtains had to be closed at night. She needed to complete that task. When she'd left to visit Hannah, it had been daylight.

Kaycee's heart squeezed. Every time Kaycee was with Hannah - which was often, after she'd slid into place as surrogate mother - Mandy's death hit her all over again. But this particular visit had been unusually heartrending. It had taken every ounce of fortitude Kaycee could muster to tell the begging, grief-stricken nine-year-old that she couldn't leave her father and new stepmom and come live with her.

Kaycee placed her purse and key on the gray Formica counter at her left - the short bottom of a long-stemmed L of cabinets and sink - and inhaled the comforting smell of home. Tonight it mixed the regular scent of the old house's wood with the chicken baked for supper. For once Kaycee had eaten a regular meal.

As the tension in her shoulders unwound, Kaycee breathed a prayer for Hannah. It wasn't fair to lose your mother at that young age. But to see your father remarry within months, bringing a new mom with a daughter of her own into the house - Kaycee could strangle the man, even as she'd assured Hannah, "you can't leave your dad; he loves you."

"Yeah, like he loved Mom," Hannah sobbed. "She might as well have been a dog that died. Just go out and get another one."

Kaycee sighed. Families were so hard. But so was not having one. Someday. At thirty, she still had time.

Kaycee stepped away from the counter - and heard a click. A flash lit the room.

Her head snapped up, her gaze cutting to the round table across the wide kitchen. A camera sat upon it.

Where had that come from?

It had taken a picture. All by itself.

She stared at the camera, stunned. It was small and black. Looked like a digital point-and-shoot. She had one of those. Only hers was silver. And bigger. And the last time she saw the thing it was in its case, sitting in the bottom drawer of her desk.

The camera's lens stuck out. Aimed at her. It had taken a picture of her.

Kaycee looked around wildly, her paranoia like a thousand skittering insects across her back. Who had done this? Somebody could be watching her by remote through that lens right now.

No. The thought was too petrifying. And far-fetched. Someone was just pulling a joke.

But who would do that? And how would they get into her house? She hadn't given a key to anyone.

Kaycee edged toward the table sideways, palms up, as if the camera might explode in her face. Dark imaginings filled her head. Somewhere in a shadowy room sat a man, eyes glued to a monitor, chuckling at her terror as she approached.

Who was he? What group was he a part of? What did they want?

Kaycee, stop it. There's a rational explanation ...

Her thigh grazed the table. The camera sat no higher than that part of her body. Did it have a wide enough lens to include her face when it took the picture?

She extended a trembling arm and knocked the camera ninety degrees. There. Now they couldn't see her.

Shallow-breathing, she leaned over to look down at the black rectangle. its "on" light glowed golden.

What other pictures had it taken? Had they gone around her house, photographing every room?

Nobody was here. It's a joke, just a joke.

Kaycee reached out a tentative hand, drew it back. Reached out again. On the third try she picked up the camera.

She flipped it around and studied its controls on the back. Turned a dial to the "view" mode. A picture of herself filled the screen - with her head cropped off. Kaycee saw only her wiry body, the loose-fitting jeans, and three-quarter-sleeve purple top. So much for a wide lens.

Her finger hesitated over the back arrow button, then pressed.

Onto the screen jumped the close-up gruesome face of a dead man. Eyes half open, dark red holes in his jaw and forehead. Blood matted his hair. Printed in bold in the bottom left corner of the picture, across his neck: WE SEE YOU.

Kaycee dropped the camera and screamed.


Excerpted from Exposure by Brandilyn Collins Copyright © 2009 by Brandilyn Collins. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Brandilyn Collins, known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™, is the bestselling author of Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, Crimson Eve, Eyes of Elisha, and other novels. She and her family live in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Visit her website at www.brandilyncollins.com and her blog at www.forensicsandfaith.blogspot.com

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Exposure 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 79 reviews.
Milbrath More than 1 year ago
While this story had its twists and turns, it didn't really grab me. I wanted to get to the end of the book to find out the ending but that's about it. Nothing really pulled me in. Kaycee could be grating at times, and the two different story lines didn't really pull together until the very end. It was a nice twist but not enough for me to say the whole thing was worth it.
misshiss More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. It is well written and kept me up way past my bedtime. I donated it to the library where I work and have recommended it numerous times. The patrons have never been disappointed and have requested more of her books.
plumpuzzler More than 1 year ago
This book is a gotta have book if you are a Collins fan, like me. This book like most of her other books is a murder mystery supsense, which will make you want to keep reading it. This is an awesome book and i recommend it to anyone who has ever struggled with a fear.
RebaTheWriter More than 1 year ago
I really thought I had Collin's plot all figured out, smart reader that I am. Even if the book had not been so good, I would have read to the end just for the satisfaction of knowing I knew "who donnit". Then, suddenly, I was smacked in the head by an incoming missle that never hit my radar screen. Ohhhh myyyyyy..... What a great read! The worse thing about the book? It kept me up at night until I finished it!! Brandilyn Collins has outwritten all her previous novels in "Exposure". Never had I read a book that shocked me as much as this book. Truly she has earned the right to be called the Queen of "Seatbelt Suspense"!! Amazing characters and plot. Surprise ending.. did I mention the surprise ending? Even if I read the book backwards I never would have seen it coming!!
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
My husband was away on a business trip recently, and there's a rule of nature that says things will always break when he's away. Light bulbs I can fix; blocked drains; computers that refuse to switch on. I'm really fairly independent. But come night-time, I walk round every room in the house, checking every electrical socket to make sure no plugs are falling out and no wiring's getting warm. I check the cooker, double-check, run my hands over the top. I lock and relock the windows and doors, and look in the garage to see if the car's okay. Then I listen to every creak and groan, the plumbing's moan, the drips from the roof, the patter of critters in the yard. When I started reading Exposure, by Brandilyn Collins, I felt right at home. The protagonist, Kaycee, knows all about the fears of an empty house. She battles them by writing a humorous column in the paper, and I'm jealous; I want her job. But then things start to happen, little things with big impact and no evidence left behind. Maybe they're just images from Kaycee's subconscious mind. And maybe they don't matter, because someone Kaycee cares for might turn out to be in real danger. Or maybe. Kaycee's still checking windows and doors, closing curtains, and jumping at sounds that the house spins around her. And I'm jumping too. Jumping more when she sees "it" again. But hey! My husband's home. I don't need my night-time rituals. Still, Ms. Collins conveys Kaycee's feelings so powerfully I find myself checking electrical outlets again. But I don't switch out the light; I have to keep reading to the end. Exposure is a very satisfying novel. The twists and turns move naturally, leading the reader to guess and not quite guess, doubt and not quite doubt, till an ending that brings all the different threads together. Do people's worst fears always happen? I have to believe they don't, though I'm sure they sometimes do. And Ms. Collins' novel reminds me that there's ways to cope, and someone out there will hold my hand too if my world falls apart. I don't want Kaycee's job after all. Her column reads way better written by her. Read the book and I'm sure you'll agree.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me guessing until the end
lanlynk More than 1 year ago
The author gives us a chilling look at how fears, both real and imagined, bind us or motivate us to make choices, for good or ill. Through the perceptions of different characters, we must sort out what’s real and what’s not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
WOW! "Exposure" is definitely a must have. Brandilyn Collins always delivers in her thrilling novels and she did not cut us short on this one. This book was very good and I know you will love it. I got to a point where I was scared to turn the page. It will also reach you on a spiritual level and remind you of who's in conrtol, which is God. Please get it. Get it now. Right now. Go, right now and get this. Now, lol! God Bless!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As we expect from this best-selling author, Exposure is an interesting and tense mystery /crime drama. The character Kaycee Raye is overwhelmed with fear every minute of every day of her life, and as the reader, I couldn't help but feel that fear with her all through the book. There were twists and turns in the story along the way, but in the end, all of it comes together until it is proven that even paranoids can have real enemies. I had no clue ahead of time to the twists in the storyline and the surprises added to my enjoyment of the book. Again Zondervan publishes a wonderful fiction book that demonstrates people who struggle with doubts and fears, but rely on their faith to get them through.
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Tunguz More than 1 year ago
A columnist from a small town starts experiencing some very disturbing events at her home that closely mirror her own worst nightmares. It is not clear if those events are due to her delusional mind, some sick copycat who plays some elaborate joke on her, or genuine supernatural phenomena. Meanwhile a daughter of her friend runs away from home and goes missing. In an unrelated story a bank clerk with severe case of claustrophobia goes through a very harrowing bank-robbery. These three stories don't seem to have much in common, and the reader is kept wondering until the very end what the connection is. This puzzle is the one of the main sources of interest for me in an otherwise rather unremarkable novel. The writing is extremely simplistic even for a hard-boiled crime novel, and characters are very flat. The characters oftentimes do such dumb things that it can be a challenge to maintain the suspension-of-disbelief throughout the novel. The final resolution of the plot did somewhat work out, although even that left me scratching my head about many particulars. The invocation of God in one of the last chapters felt totally gratuitous and unconnected with the rest of the story. I have no problem with intertwining a deeper spiritual or religious message into a story, but this needs to be done with some dose of tact in a meaningful, naturally-flowing way. Otherwise it looks as ridiculous as a top-hat on a hobo. Despite all of its flaws, this is a decent, readable, book that will keep you interested and can be worthwhile if you have nothing better to read.
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