Rachel Seaver is having visions. In a tranquil seascape painting, she sees a terrified woman drowning in the ocean waves. That night, she has a dream in which a student she barely knows is murdered. The next day, she finds out he’s dead—the victim of a drowning. In a still-life painting of a vase of flowers, Rachel sees someone tumbling down a steep flight of metal stairs. The same night, a poet falls down the fire escape at Nightingale Hall.
Rachel’s visions keep getting worse as her mind’s eye paints terrifying pictures of murder. And then she starts receiving death threats that claim she won’t live to see another Monday.
Someone is watching Rachel . . . watching and waiting . . . A stone-cold killer with the perfect canvas on which to immortalize her forever.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Diane Hoh including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
About the Author
After contributing novels to two popular series, Cheerleaders and the Girls of Canby Hall, Hoh found great success writing thrillers, beginning with Funhouse (1990), a Point Horror novel that became a national bestseller. Following its success, Hoh created the Nightmare Hall series, whose twenty-nine installments chronicle a university plagued by dark secrets, and the seven-volume Med Center series, about the challenges and mysteries in a Massachusetts hospital. In 1998, Hoh had a runaway hit with Titanic: The Long Night and Remembering the Titanic, a pair of novels about two couples’ escape from the doomed ocean liner. She now lives and writes in Austin.
Diane Hoh (b. 1937) is a bestselling author of young adult fiction. Born in Warren, Pennsylvania, Hoh began her first novel, Loving That O’Connor Boy (1985), after seeing an ad in a publishing trade magazine requesting submissions for a line of young adult fiction. After contributing novels to two popular series, Cheerleaders and the Girls of Canby Hall, Hoh found great success writing thrillers, beginning with Funhouse (1990), a Point Horror novel that became a national bestseller. Following its success, Hoh created the Nightmare Hall series, whose twenty-nine installments chronicle a university plagued by dark secrets, and the seven-volume Med Center series, about the challenges and mysteries in a Massachusetts hospital. In 1998, Hoh had a runaway hit with Titanic: The Long Night and Remembering the Titanic, a pair of novels about two couples’ escape from the doomed ocean liner. She now lives and writes in Austin.
Read an Excerpt
By Diane Hoh
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1995 Diane Hoh
All rights reserved.
In the crowd of close to seventy-five people milling about in the lobby of Salem University's Fine Arts building, viewing the newest exhibit of paintings, sketches, sculptures, jewelry, and other works of art, only Rachel Seaver thought she saw a figure drowning in one of the paintings.
Her friends scoffed when Rachel tried to point this out to them.
"I don't see anything but a seascape," her roommate, Bibi Jensen, said flatly. "Not a very good one, either, if you ask me. It looks kind of like something my six-year-old sister Tessie would bring home from first grade."
"I concur," Joseph Milano, who had two of his own paintings on display, said with mild disgust. "The artist probably hung the canvas on a wall, stood back, and took aim, tossing handfuls of blue and green paint until the tubes were empty."
Ignoring him, Rachel continued to study the seascape. It was untitled, with no identifying card tacked beneath it. And there was no signature on the painting.
Aidan McKay, another Fine Arts major and the real reason Rachel was at the exhibit, smiled and said, "I didn't believe you when you said you didn't know much about art, Rachel. Now, I think maybe you were telling the truth."
As the three moved away to study other artworks, Rachel stayed where she was. Her eyes never left the large, unframed canvas. Alive with vivid blues and brilliant greens, it hung on an end wall of the spacious lobby, and it seemed to Rachel that most of the spectators were passing it by, spending far more time on the surrounding paintings.
She didn't see why. The seascape was beautiful, so rich with color, alive with the tumult of storm-tossed waters. The sky in the painting was an ominous slate-gray, contrasting sharply with the vivid colors.
"That's all wrong," a short, stocky boy with dark, curly hair, wearing a white shirt and a white apron said as he passed Rachel. He lingered for a moment, a large, round tray full of glasses in his hands. "The sea is never that color during a storm. It's always the same color as the sky, a heavy, dark gray, topped off by whitecaps. The artist doesn't know what he's doing."
"I thought," Rachel said tartly, "that painters were supposed to interpret things as they see them, not as everyone else sees them."
The waiter laughed rudely. The expression on his face as he shrugged and moved away into the crowd said yeah, right.
"Who is that guy?" Rachel asked, annoyed, as Bibi returned, clear plastic cup in hand.
"Rudy Samms," Bibi answered with a wide grin. "Isn't he gorgeous?"
"Yeah, if you like the Neanderthal type. Interesting that his name should be Rudy, as in Rude-y. Atrocious manners."
"Well, keep your hands off him," Bibi warned. "You're here because of Aidan, remember? You leave Rudy the Rude to me." She left again, calling over her shoulder, "And don't wait up, okay?"
Rachel sighed. Bibi had no more interest in art than she did in astronomy. Rachel had talked her into attending this exhibit by reminding Bibi that there would be males present. Bibi had recently broken up with her boyfriend, Paul, nicknamed Apollo because he looked like a Greek god. In Rachel's opinion, he also had the brains of a thimble. She had hoped that this time Bibi would find a guy who knew what an intelligent thought was and could articulate it, but here she was setting her sights on Rudy.
Not, Rachel thought, someone I would want to double-date with if Aidan McKay ever asks me out.
Bibi was tall, blonde, and gorgeous, and probably could have dated any guy on campus. Leave it to her to zero in on the most unpleasant person in the entire lobby. Bibi was a great roommate, but she had far better taste in clothes than she did in men.
Rachel studied the painting again. She was absolutely convinced that amid the turquoise and kelly green and azure blue she saw a figure struggling in the storm-tossed waves. She could understand why no one else saw it. The arms were no more than blobs, flailing wildly above the water, the head an elongated dab of pinkish-colored paint, the eyes dark daubs, the mouth a slash of red.
But the eyes were wild with fear, the mouth, if that was what it was, open in a scream of terror.
The image chilled her spine, as if someone had slipped ice cubes down her back.
Why was she seeing something no one else could see?
Aidan and Joseph were both art majors. If there was a figure valiantly struggling against the waves in the painting, wouldn't they see it?
They hadn't. Nor had Bibi.
Rachel moved forward and peered more intently at the painting. Viewed that closely, all of the colors blended together in a green and blue haze. She stepped back again, frowning and running a hand through her short, dark, curly hair, something she did constantly when she was frustrated or confused. "I may not know anything about art," she muttered, "but I know what I see, and what I see is someone drowning."
"No, you don't," Aidan said, coming up behind her, putting his hands on her shoulders. Leaning forward, he spoke into her ear. "That is a seascape, Rachel Seaver, and not a very good one, frankly. That's all it is. The question is," he added, moving around to stand beside her, "why would you want to think you see someone drowning in that painting? Are you always that morbid?"
Looking up at him, ready to respond as heatedly as she had to the waiter, Rachel thought again how nice-looking Aidan McKay was. Not gorgeous like Apollo-the-dimwit or Rudy-the-rude, but nice looking, with a lean, angled face and sharp blue eyes. Her eyes were blue, too, but hers were a quiet blue, like the sky in midwinter, while his were the brilliant blue of a blazing July sky. His hair was brown with a hint of red. It was as wavy as hers, and he wore it long. She had to clench her fists to keep from reaching out and touching it.
Chill, Rachel, she warned herself. You just met him the day before yesterday, and you hardly know him.
"It's not that I want to see someone drowning," she said, less defiantly than she'd spoken to Rudy Samms, "it's just that I see it. I can't help that, can I?"
Aidan looked at the painting again. "No, I guess not," he said. He shrugged broad shoulders in a white T-shirt. "To each his own. But you have some imagination, kiddo."
She wasn't terribly happy with the "kiddo," and she felt a pang of resentment at being told that her imagination was leading her astray. But the fact was, she really didn't know anything about art, and he did, so until she could find out who the seascape artist was and maybe confirm what she was seeing, it seemed silly to keep arguing about it.
Still, she couldn't help it if her heart went out to the agonized figure drowning in the stormy sea.
She glanced at the painting one more time, looking for a signature.
There wasn't any. Not even initials.
"You don't know who painted this, do you?" she asked Aidan as they moved together toward the corner where Joseph and Bibi were standing.
"Nope. The truth is, we were all so busy getting ready for this exhibit that we didn't pay much attention to what anyone else was working on. I don't remember seeing any seascapes, though."
"Maybe Joseph will know."
Joseph didn't. He and Bibi were talking to a tall, thin girl with frizzy dark hair that fell to her waist. She had on a huge, floppy straw hat with fat red roses wound around the brim. More roses were clustered at the neckline of her long, black chiffon dress, which Rachel suspected had come from an antique shop. The girl had a strong, square face and huge, dark eyes, heavily made-up with jet-black eyeliner.
Why doesn't she just hang a sign around her neck that reads Aspiring Artist, Rachel thought, amused. Talk about dressing the part.
"This is Paloma Lang," Joseph said, nodding toward the tall girl. "Designs jewelry. Her real name is Jane, but she says no one would buy jewelry from someone named Jane, so she changed it."
"I think," Rachel said gently, "that there is a jewelry designer named Paloma, isn't there? Paloma Picasso?"
"Exactly," the tall girl said with a shrug. "I mean, it worked for her, right? Of course, I intend to be twice as successful as she is."
"Then maybe you should have changed your name to Paloma Paloma," Joseph joked.
The subject of his joke gave him a barely tolerant smile. "Very amusing." Then to Rachel, she said, "Want to see my jewelry? It's getting a lot of attention. No surprise there. People never expect to see anything but paintings at these exhibits. They're always thrilled to see something different. Especially when it's good."
Rachel found Paloma's lack of humility startling, but refreshing. It was more than self-confidence, and yet didn't seem arrogant. Paloma simply knew that she was good at what she did. Rachel wondered if the artist who had painted the seascape had the same easy pride in his or her work.
As Paloma led her away, Rachel glanced over her shoulder toward the seascape, thinking the artist might be lingering near it somewhere, anxious to see what kind of reception it got. But there was no one at all near the painting. People were passing it by without much more than a casual glance.
So maybe it was a good thing the artist wasn't there, she thought. Weren't most artists terribly sensitive about their work being ignored?
Except, of course, someone like Paloma. Ignoring Paloma Lang, who talked loudly and gestured theatrically with her jeweled fingers, would be almost impossible. And that probably went for her work, too.
Which was, Rachel realized when she saw the pieces neatly displayed in a glass case, very good. The surprisingly delicate and amazingly intricate necklaces, bracelets, and earrings were truly beautiful.
"You are good," Rachel said in awe, studying the jewelry carefully.
"Of course I am," Paloma agreed, nodding. "I've been doing this since I was eight. I made a necklace out of a vine and some acorns at summer camp. When the other girls saw me wearing it, they all wanted one. So I made more and sold them. I went home from camp with twenty dollars more than when I got there. My parents were thrilled." She flicked a long, slender finger toward one piece in particular, that of a three-strand gold chain adorned with tiny gold acorns. "That first necklace looked something like this. Don't you love it?" She smiled confidently as they turned away from the display case. "I expect to be very, very rich one day." And then added bluntly, "Do you?"
Rachel laughed. "Do I expect to be rich? I don't know. Hadn't thought about it. I haven't even decided what I want to major in." She was torn between teaching and a career as a journalist. Both appealed to her.
"Well, you'd better plan to be rich," Paloma said, "so you can afford to buy my creations. Because they won't come cheap." Then, in that same blunt way, she asked without warning, "Speaking of designs, I saw the way you smiled at Aidan. Do you have designs on him?"
Rachel felt her face flushing. She shrugged in an effort to appear casual. "He seems nice. Why? Do you?"
"Me?" Paloma looked astonished. "Date a fellow artist? Do you think I'm mad? Artists are all hypersensitive, egocentric, and teetering on the edge of insanity at all times. I can't stand most artists, although Aidan is an exception. And he's very good, too, I have to admit that. Those life masks he makes are interesting. He'll want to do one of you. Me, I only date athletes. No artists. That's my rule. So," she added generously, "you can have Aidan. Just remember, I warned you. He's half-mad, like the rest of us. I hope you know what you're doing."
Although Rachel laughed again, she would remember Paloma's warning later. It would come back to haunt her.
When they returned to the group, Bibi was gone.
"Where's my roommate?" Rachel asked Joseph, although she already had a pretty good idea.
Joseph tilted his head in the direction of the door. "She left. With that Samms guy. The waiter? The one with the dark, brooding look. I heard the theater department is doing Dracula next year. They should speak to him about playing the lead."
"Dracula isn't dark and brooding," Rachel disagreed. "He's pale and vapid."
"You're personally acquainted with him?" Joseph snapped.
Rachel glanced at Paloma, who pointedly raised smoothly arched, heavily penciled dark brows, as if to say, See? What did I tell you? Hypersensitive! Next time, pay attention when I talk about artists.
The crowd had thinned, and Rachel could see through the glass door that darkness had fallen. She was reluctant to walk across campus alone, and was relieved when Aidan said, "Why don't we all go over to Vinnie's for pizza? Rachel? Come with us?"
She liked the way he said that. Casually. As if he didn't know that he was rescuing her from a solitary walk back to the dorm. As if he really wanted her to come along if she had the time.
She had the time.
They were about to leave when a very pretty girl in jeans and a tank top approached, wrestling with a large, and clearly heavy, canvas.
Both Aidan and Joseph ran to help, taking her burden from her.
"Oh, thanks," she gasped, laughing, "you guys are lifesavers. I'm taking this to my car or was it taking me? I'm not sure. Anyway, if you wouldn't mind, I'd really appreciate some help. My car's right out front."
They obliged, leading the way out of the building. The girl followed.
Paloma touched Rachel's elbow, halting her. "That's Samantha Widdoes," she said in a low voice. "She's one of us. She's not very good, but she doesn't seem to care. She says she loves painting and that's all that counts. She's rich, so I guess she can afford to think that way. The rest of us have to think about whether we're going to earn a living or not."
"Maybe she did the seascape," Rachel said aloud. "You know, the one at the end of the far wall?"
"Oh, that thing. No, she doesn't work much in oil. Tried it once, and made a terrible mess. She knows her limitations. Most of her work is with pastels. She does trees, bushes, sky, water, flowery kinds of things that the guys make fun of. They'd never sell, but I think they're romantic."
So Samantha Widdoes, Artist, was pretty and rich, but not terribly talented, and didn't care all that much. She was, Rachel saw now, standing beside the car smiling up at Aidan, who looked interested. Very interested. But then, so did Joseph, who was also standing beside Samantha, glowering at Aidan.
"Guys," Paloma said in disgust as they approached the car, "they're all the same. All it takes is a pretty face, a great body, wealth, perfect teeth, and they're falling all over themselves. So who needs talent?"
Rachel laughed. The comment was just what she needed to stifle her jealousy. And she was glad it had, because Samantha turned out to be nice. Very friendly, smiling and shaking hands when she was introduced to Rachel.
"How did you like the exhibit?" she asked pleasantly.
"Loved it. By the way," Rachel said hurriedly, "do you by any chance know who painted the seascape?"
Joseph and Aidan groaned. "Not that again!" Joseph cried. "Do you often suffer from these morbid fixations?"
"Seascape?" Samantha asked, furrowing pale brows over deep brown eyes. "I don't remember that one. Actually, I didn't get much of a chance to view tonight. I was busy helping set things up, and then I got trapped in a corner with Dr. Lewis from art history. But," she added thoughtfully, "I don't remember anyone in class ever working on a seascape." She looked at Rachel. "Why? Did you like the painting?"
"It's not that Rachel liked it," Joseph interjected dryly, "it's just that she thinks she sees someone drowning in the painting. No one else sees it, of course, but that's because it's not there. It's just a lot of blue and green vomit, that's all. Can't imagine why anyone would even have the gall to hang it."
"Joseph," Samantha scolded mildly, "you know better than to tell people how to interpret paintings." To Rachel, she said, "Do you often see things in paintings that no one else sees? How fascinating."
"No. I don't. I guess it was an optical illusion or something."
"Well, you might want to check the canvas again. Some artists put their initials on the back of the canvas, instead of the front," Samantha explained. "You might check. Then you could always ask the artist."
"Thanks," Rachel said, nodding. "Maybe I will."
"You're not going to let go of this, are you?" Aidan asked as they climbed into the car.
"Maybe I will," Rachel said lightly, "and maybe I won't. I haven't decided yet."
"Well, in the meantime," Aidan said, smiling, "can we please go to Vinnie's? I'm not ready to be a starving artist. Not just yet."
Excerpted from Deadly Visions by Diane Hoh. Copyright © 1995 Diane Hoh. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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