Natalie Lindstrom has finally left the underworld behind for a new career in the art world. But there's one world she can't escape: the Other world of the dead. As a former Violet, an elite crime-fighter with the power to channel murder victims, Natalie is now using her paranormal gift to summon the spirits of legendary painters. But she's about to discover how far some people will go to keep their hold on her-and others like her…. Evan Markham, her ex-lover-turned-Violet-Killer, has escaped from prison. And he's been made an offer he can't refuse: Natalie. But first he must help contact a deceased geneticist whose most intriguing experiment was brutally interrupted: an attempt to manufacture Violets. To protect her young daughter and herself, Natalie must search for the scientist's only living test subject-a handsome but tortured artist to whom she is dangerously attracted. For he is caught in the grip of two opposing forces, one that wants his survival, another that wants him-and anyone connected with him-destroyed….
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October 30, 2006
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Excerpt from From Black Rooms by Stephen Woodworth
The Children of Dr. Wax
On the day Bartholomew wax had selected to kill himself, he called in sick at work to spend the entire day saying good-bye to his children. He would enjoy their company as he ate his last meal.
With the strains of a Vivaldi violin concerto issuing from the speakers of his home's built-in sound system, Wax uncorked his finest bottle of burgundy and prepared himself a plate of brie, foie gras, cracked wheat and rye crackers, and fresh grapes. Once the wine had had a chance to breathe, he placed it on a sterling-silver tray along with the platter of food and a cut-crystal goblet, and carried it from the kitchen to a door in the hallway. Setting the tray on the adjacent mahogany side table, he punched in a seven-digit combination on the door's digital keypad, and the carbon-steel bolts slid back into the jamb with the shuck of shells pumped into a shotgun barrel.
Wax pulled the door open, revealing the foot-thick depth of insulation and metal behind its wooden facade. The walls of the basement had been similarly reinforced. The plaster and drywall hid tungsten-carbide plates and sandwiched layers of concrete, steel, and Sheetrock, making the shelter impervious to fire, drills, and explosives. The vault had cost his employers at the North American Afterlife Communications Corps a couple million dollars to build, but no price was too great to pay for his children's safety.
They glowed in welcome as he descended the cellar steps with the silver tray. Sensors detected his heat signature and switched on the lamps that illuminated his family. Warm yellow light bloomed in patches in the darkness of the black-walled room. Basking in their individual spotlights, the children smiled at him as precious to him as if he'd given birth to them himself. Wax had positioned the spots to light each canvas to best effect, precisely calibrating the intensity so as not to fade the colors. Although a blistering New Mexico heat broiled the exterior of the house, climate-control systems kept the cellar at a constant seventy degrees, with just enough humidity to keep the paintings from cracking.
An office chair and a small table in the center of the floor provided the chamber's only furnishings. As the vault door automatically sealed him inside, Wax set the tray on the table, unwound the bread-bag twist-tie he'd used to hold back his hair, and shook out the ponytail until it fell down around his shoulders in a gray mane. Popping a grape in his mouth, he seated himself in the chair, which he could swivel to view the artwork hanging on any of the cellar walls. There, with forced air and piped music swathing him in a cool swirl of Vivaldi strings, he spent his last hour with the only real family he had ever known.