Tell me your dreams, p.11
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.11

           Sidney Sheldon
 
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Chapter Eleven

  ROBERT Crowther, the real estate broker from Bryan & Crowther, opened the door with a flourish and announced, "Here's the terrace. You can look down on Coit Tower from here. "

  He watched the young husband and wife step outside and walk over to the balustrade. The view from there was magnificent, the city of San Francisco spread out far below them in a spectacular panorama. Robert Crowther saw the couple exchange a glance and a secret smile, and he was amused. They were trying to bide their excitement. The pattern was always the same: Prospective buyers believed that if they showed too much enthusiasm, the price would go up.

  For this duplex penthouse, Crowther thought wryly, the price is high enough already. He was concerned about whether the couple could afford it. The man was a lawyer, and young lawyers did not make that much.

  They were an attractive couple, obviously very much in love. David Singer was in his early thirties, blond and intelligent-looking, with an engaging boyishness about him. His wife, Sandra, was lovely looking and warm.

  Robert Crowther had noticed the bulge around her stomach and had said, "The second guest room would be perfect for a nursery. There's a playground a block away and two schools in the neighborhood. " He had watched them exchange that secret smile again.

  The duplex penthouse consisted of an upstairs master bedroom with a bath and a guest room. On the first floor was a spacious living room, a dining room, a library, a kitchen, a second guest bedroom and two bathrooms. Almost every room had a view of the city.

  Robert watched the two of them as they walked through the apartment again. They stood in a corner whispering.

  "I love it," Sandra was saying to David. "And it would be great for the baby. But, darling, can we afford it? It's six hundred thousand dollars!"

  "Plus maintenance," David added. "The bad news is that we can't afford it today. The good news is that we're going to be able to afford it on Thursday. The genie is coming out of the magic bottle, and our lives are going to change. "

  "I know," she said happily. "Isn't it wonderful!"

  "Should we go ahead with it?" Sandra took a deep breath. "Let's go for it. "

  David grinned, waved a hand and said, "Welcome home. Miss. Singer. "

  Arm in arm, they walked over to where Robert Crowther was waiting. "We'll take it," David told him.

  "Congratulations. It's one of the choicest residences in San Francisco. You're going to be very happy here. "

  "I'm sure we are. "

  "You're lucky. I have to tell you, we have a few other people who are very interested in it. "

  "How much of a down payment will you want?"

  "A deposit of ten thousand dollars now will be fine. I'll have the papers drawn up. When you sign, we'll require another sixty thousand dollars. Your bank can work out a schedule of monthly payments on a twenty-or thirty-year mortgage. " David glanced at Sandra. "Okay. "

  "I'll have the papers prepared. "

  "Can we look around once more?" Sandra asked eagerly.

  Crowther smiled benevolently. "Take all the time you want, Mrs. Singer. It's yours. "

  "It all seems like a wonderful dream, David. I can't believe it's really happening. "

  "It's happening. " David took her in his arms. "I want to make all your dreams come true. "

  "You do, darling. "

  They had been living in a small, two-bedroom apartment in the Marina District, but with the baby coming, it was going to be crowded. Until now, they could never have afforded the duplex on Nob Hill, but Thursday was partnership day at the international law firm of Kincaid, Turner, Rose & Ripley, where David worked. Out of a possible twenty-five candidates, six would be chosen to enter the rarefied air of the firm's partnership, and everyone agreed that David was one of those who would be selected. Kincaid, Turner, Rose & Ripley, with offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, was one of the most prestigious law firms in the world, and it was usually the number one target for graduates of all the top law schools.

  The firm used the stick-and-carrot approach on their young associates. The senior partners took merciless advantage of them, disregarding their hours and illnesses and handing the younger lawyers the donkey's work that they themselves did not want to be bothered with. It was a heavy pressure, twenty-four-hour-a-day job. That was the stick. Those who stayed on did so because of the carrot. The carrot was the promise of a partnership in the firm. Becoming a partner meant a larger salary, a piece of the huge corporate-profit pie, a spacious office with a view, a private washroom, assignments overseas and myriad other perks.

  David had practiced corporate law with Kincaid, Turner, Rose & Ripley for six years, and it had been a mixed blessing. The hours were horrific and the stress was enormous, but David, determined to hang in there for the partnership, had stayed and had done a brilliant job. Now the day was finally at hand.

  When David and Sandra left the real estate agent, they went shopping. They bought a bassinet, highchair, stroller, playpen and clothes for the baby, whom they were already thinking of as Jeffrey. "Let's get him some toys," David said. "There's plenty of time for that. " Sandra laughed. After shopping, they wandered around the city, walking along the waterfront at Ghirardelli Square, past the Cannery to Fisherman's Wharf. They had lunch at the American Bistro.

  It was Saturday, a perfect San Francisco day for monogrammed leather briefcases and power ties, dark suits and discreetly monogrammed shirts, a day for power lunches and penthouses. A lawyer's day.

  David and Sandra had met three years earlier at a small dinner party. David had gone to the party with the daughter of a client of the firm. Sandra was a paralegal, working for a rival firm. At dinner, Sandra and David had gotten into an argument about a decision that had been rendered in a political case in Washington. As the others at the dinner table watched, the argument between the two of them had become more and more heated. And in the middle of it, David and Sandra realized that neither of them cared about the court's decision. They were showing off for each other, engaged in a verbal mating dance.

  David telephoned Sandra the next day. "I'd like to finish discussing that decision," David said. "I think it's important. "

  "So do I," Sandra agreed. "Could we talk about it at dinner tonight?" Sandra hesitated. She had already made a dinner date for that evening. "Yes," she said. "Tonight will be fine. "

  They were together from that night on. One year from the day they met, they were married.

  Joseph Kincaid, the firm's senior partner, had given David the weekend off.

  David's salary at Kincaid, Turner, Rose & Ripley was $45,000 a year. Sandra kept her job as a paralegal. But now, with the baby coming, their expenses were about to go up.

  "I'll have to give up my job in a few months," Sandra said. "I don't want a nanny bringing up our baby, darling. I want to be here for him. " The sonogram had shown that the baby was a boy.

  "We'll be able to handle it," David assured her. The partnership was going to transform their lives.

  David had begun to put in even longer hours. He wanted to make sure that he was not overlooked on partnership day.

  Thursday morning, as David got dressed, he was watching the news on television.

  An anchorman was saying breathlessly, "We have a breaking story. . . . Ashley Patterson, the daughter of the prominent San Francisco doctor Steven Patterson, has been arrested as the suspected serial killer the police and the FBI have been searching for. . . . " David stood in front of the television set, frozen. ". . . last night Santa Clara County Sheriff Matt Dowling announced Ashley Patterson's arrest for a series of murders that included bloody castrations. Sheriff Dowling told reporters, 'There's no doubt that we have the right person. The evidence is conclusive. ' "

  Dr. Steven Patterson. David's mind went back, remembering the past. . .

  He was twenty-one years old and just starting law school. He came home from class one day to find his mother on the bedr
oom floor, unconscious. He called 911, and an ambulance took his mother to San Francisco Memorial Hospital. David waited outside the emergency room until a doctor came to talk to him. "Is she - Is she going to be all right?" The doctor hesitated. "We had one of our cardiologists examine her. She has a ruptured cord in her mitral valve. "

  "What does that mean?" David demanded. "I'm afraid there's nothing we can do for her. She's too weak to have a transplant, and mini heart surgery is new and too risky. "

  David felt suddenly faint "How - how long can she - ?"

  "I'd say a few more days, maybe a week. I'm sorry, son. "

  David stood there, panicky. "Isn't there anyone who can help her?"

  "I'm afraid not. The only one who might have been able to help is Steven Patterson, bat he's a very - "

  "Who's Steven Patterson?"

  "Dr. Patterson pioneered minimally invasive heart surgery. But between his schedule and his research, there's no chance that - " David was gone.

  He called Dr. Patterson's office from a pay phone in the hospital corridor. "I'd like to make an appointment with Dr. Patterson. It's for my mother. She - "

  "I'm sorry. We're not accepting any new appointments. The first available time would be six months from now. "

  "She doesn't have six months," David shouted. "I'm sorry. I can refer you to - " David slammed down the phone. The following morning David went to Dr. Patterson's office. The waiting room was crowded. David walked up to the receptionist. "I'd like to make an appointment to see Dr. Patterson. My mother's very ill and - "

  She looked up at him and said, "You called yesterday, didn't you?"

  "Yes. "

  "I told you then. We don't have any appointments open, and we're not making any just now. "

  "I'll wait," David said stubbornly. "You can't wait. The doctor is - " David took a seat. He watched the people in the waiting room being called into the inner office one by one until finally he was the only one left.

  At six o'clock, the receptionist said, "There's no point in waiting any longer. Dr. Patterson has gone home. "

  David went to visit his mother in intensive care that evening.

  "You can only stay a minute," a nurse warned him. "She's very weak. "

  David stepped inside the room, and his eyes filled with tears. His mother was attached to a respirator with tubes running into her arms and through her nose. She looked whiter than the sheets she lay on. Her eyes were closed.

  David moved close to her and said, "It's me, Mom. I'm not going to let anything happen to you. You're going to be fine. " Tears were running down his cheeks. "Do you hear me? We're going to fight this thing. Nobody can lick the two of us, not as long as we're together. I'm going to get you the best doctor in the world. You just hang in there. I'll be back tomorrow. " He bent down and gently kissed her cheek. Will she be alive tomorrow?

  The following afternoon, David went to the garage in the basement of the building where Dr. Patterson had his offices. An attendant was parking cars. He came up to David. "May I help you?"

  "I'm waiting for my wife," David said. "She's seeing Dr. Patterson. " The attendant smiled. "He's a great guy. "

  "He was telling us about some fancy car that he owns. " David paused, trying to remember. "Was it a Cadillac?" The attendant shook his head. "No. " He pointed to a Rolls-Royce parked in the corner. "It's that Rolls over there. "

  David said, "Right. I think he said he has a Cadillac, too. "

  "Wouldn't surprise me," the attendant said. He hurried off to park an incoming car.

  David walked casually toward the Rolls. When he was sure no one was watching, he opened the door, slipped into the backseat and got down on the floor. He lay there, cramped and uncomfortable, willing Dr. Patterson to come out

  At 6:15, David felt a slight jar as the front door of the car opened and someone moved into the driver's seat. He heard the engine start, and then the car began to move. "Good night. Dr. Patterson. "

  "Good night, Marco. "

  The car left the garage, and David felt it turn a corner. He waited for two minutes, then took a deep breath and sat up.

  Dr. Patterson saw him in the rearview mirror. He said calmly, "If this is a holdup, I have no cash with me. "

  "Turn onto a side street and pull over to the curb. " Dr. Patterson nodded. David watched warily as the doctor turned the car onto a side street, pulled over to the curb and stopped.

  "I'll give you what cash I have on me," Dr. Patterson said. "You can take the car. There's no need for violence. If - "

  David had slid into the front seat. "This isn't a holdup. I don't want the car. "

  Dr. Patterson was looking at him with annoyance. "What the hell do you want?"

  "My name is Singer. My mother's dying. I want you to save her. "

  There was a flicker of relief on Dr. Patterson's face, replaced by a look of anger. "Make an appointment with my - "

  "There's no time to make a goddamn appointment" David was yelling. "She's going to die, and I'm not going to let that happen. " He was fighting to control himself. "Please. The other doctors told me you're the only hope we have. "

  Dr. Patterson was watching him, still wary. "What's her problem?"

  "She has a - a ruptured cord in her mitral valve. The doctors are afraid to operate. They say that you're the only one who can save her life. " Dr. Patterson shook his head. "My schedule - "

  "I don't give a shit about your schedule! This is my mother. You've got to save her! She's all have. . . . "

  There was a long silence. David sat there, his eyes tightly shut. He heard Dr. Patterson's voice.

  "I won't promise a damn thing, but I'll see her. Where is she?"

  David turned to look at him. "She's in the intensive care unit at San Francisco Memorial Hospital. "

  "Meet me there at eight o'clock tomorrow morning. " David had difficulty finding his voice. "I don't know how to - "

  "Remember, I'm not promising anything. And don't appreciate being scared out of my wits, young man. Next time, try the telephone. "

  David sat there, rigid. Dr. Patterson looked at him. "What?"

  "There's another problem. "

  "Oh, really?"

  "I - I don't have any money. I'm a law student, and I'm working my way through law school. " Dr. Patterson was staring at him. David said passionately, "I swear I'll find a way to pay you back. If it takes all my life, I'll see that you get paid know how expensive you are, and I - "

  "I don't think you do, son. "

  "I have no one else to torn to, Dr. Patterson. I - I'm begging you. " There was another silence. "How many years of law school have you had?"

  "None. I'm just starting. "

  "But you expect to be able to pay me back?"

  "I swear it. "

  "Get the hell out. "

  When David got home, he was certain he was going to be picked up by the police for kidnapping, threatening bodily harm, God only knew what. But nothing happened. The question in his mind was whether Dr. Patterson was going to show up at the hospital.

  When David walked into the intensive care ward the next morning. Dr. Patterson was there, examining David's mother.

  David watched, his heart pounding, his throat dry.

  Dr. Patterson turned to one of a group of doctors standing there. "Get her up to the operating room, Al. Stat!"

  As they started to slide David's mother onto a gurney, David said hoarsely, "Is she - ?"

  "We'll see. "

  Six hours later, David was in the waiting room when Dr. Patterson approached him.

  David jumped to his feet. "How is - ?" He was afraid to finish the question.

  "She's going to be fine. Your mother's a strong lady. "

  David stood there, filled with an overpowering sense of relief. He breathed a silent prayer. Thank you, God.

  Dr. Patterson was watching him. "I don't even know your first name. "

  "David, sir.
"

  "Well, David sir, do you know why decided to do this?"

  "No. . . "

  "Two reasons. Your mother's condition was a challenge for me. I like challenges. The second reason was you. "

  "I - I don't understand. "

  "What you did was the kind of thing I might have done myself when I was younger. You showed imagination. Now" - his tone changed - "you said you were going to repay me. " David's heart sank. "Yes, sir. One day - "

  "How about now?" David swallowed. "Now?"

  "I'll make you a deal. Do you know how to drive?"

  "Yes, sir. . . "

  "All right. I get tired of driving that big car around. You drive me to work every morning and pick me up at six or seven o'clock every evening for one year. At the end of that time, I'll consider my fee paid. . . . "

  That was the deal. David drove Dr. Patterson to the office and back home every day, and in exchange. Dr. Patterson saved the life of David's mother.

  During that year, David learned to revere Dr. Patterson. Despite the doctor's occasional outbursts of temper, he was the most selfless man David had ever known. He was heavily involved in charity work and donated his spare time to free clinics. Driving to and from the office or hospital, he and David had long talks. "What kind of law are you studying, David?"

  "Criminal law. "

  "Why? So you can help the damn scoundrels get off scot-free?"

  "No, sir. There are a lot of honest people caught up in the law who need help want to help them. "

  When the year was up. Dr. Patterson shook David's hand and said, "We're even. . . . "

  David had not seen Steven Patterson in years, but he kept coming across his name.

  "Dr. Steven Patterson opened a free clinic for babies with AIDS. . . . "

  "Dr. Steven Patterson arrived in Kenya today to open the Patterson Medical Center. . . . "

  "Work on the Patterson Charity Shelter began today. . . "

  He seemed to be everywhere, donating his time and his money to those who needed him.

  Sandra's voice shook David out of his reverie. "David. Are you all right?"

  He turned away from the television set "They've just arrested Steven Patterson's daughter for those serial killings. "

  Sandra said, "That's terrible! I'm so sorry, darling. "

  "He gave Mother seven more years of a wonderful life. It's unfair that anything like that should happen to a man like him. He's the greatest gentleman I've ever known, Sandra. He doesn't deserve this. How could he have a monster like that for a daughter?" He looked at his watch. "Damn! I'm going to be late. "

  "You haven't had breakfast. "

  "I'm too upset to eat. " He glanced toward the television set. "This. . . and today's partnership day. . . . "

  "You're going to get it. There's no question about. "

  "There's always a question about it, honey. Every year, someone who's supposed to be a shoo-in winds up in the loser's box. "

  She bugged him and said, "They'll be lucky to have you. "

  He leaned over and kissed her. "Thanks, baby. I don't know what I'd do without you. "

  "You'll never have to. You'll call me as soon as you get the news, won't you, David?"

  "Of course I will. We'll go out and celebrate. " And the words reverberated in his mind. Years ago, he had said to someone else, "We'll go out and celebrate. " And he had lolled her.

  The offices of Kincaid, Turner, Rose & Ripley occupied three floors in the TransAmerica Pyramid in downtown San Francisco. When David Singer walked through the doors, he was greeted with knowing smiles. It seemed to him that there was even a different quality in the "good mornings. " They knew they were addressing a future partner in the firm.

  On the way to his small office, David passed the newly decorated office that would belong to one of the chosen partners, and he could not resist looking inside. It was a large, beautiful office with a private washroom, a desk and chairs facing a picture window with a magnificent view of the Bay. He stood there a moment, drinking it in.

  When David walked into his office, his secretary, Holly, said, "Good morning, Mr. Singer. " There was a lilt in her voice. "Good morning, Holly. "

  "I have a message for you. "

  "Yes?"

  "Mr. Kincaid would like to see you in his office at five o'clock. " She broke into a broad smile.

  So it was really happening. "Great!"

  She moved closer to David and said, "I think I should also tell you, I had coffee with Dorothy, Mr. Kincaid's secretary, this morning. She says you're at the top of the list. "

  David grinned. "Thanks, Holly. "

  "Would you like some coffee?"

  "Love it. "

  "Hot and strong, coming up. " David walked over to his desk. It was heaped with briefs and contracts and files.

  Today was the day. Finally. "Mr. Kincaid would like to see you in his office at five o'clock. . . . You're at the top of the list. "

  He was tempted to telephone Sandra with the news. Something held him back. I'll wait until it happens, he thought.

  David spent the next two hours dealing with the material on his desk. At eleven o'clock. Holly came in. "There's a Dr. Patterson here to see you. He has no app - "

  He looked up in surprise. "Dr. Patterson is here?"

  "Yes. "

  David rose. "Send him in. "

  Steven Patterson came in, and David tried to conceal his reaction. The doctor looked old and tired.

  "Hello, David. "

  "Dr. Patterson. Please, sit down. " David watched him slowly take a chair. "I saw the news this morning. I - can't tell you how very sorry I am. "

  Dr. Patterson nodded wearily. "Yes. It's been quite a blow. " He looked up. "I need your help, David. "

  "Of course," David said eagerly. "Anything I can do. Anything. "

  "I want you to represent Ashley. " It took a moment for the words to sink in. "I - I can't do that I'm not a criminal defense lawyer. "

  Dr. Patterson looked him in the eye and said, "Ashley's not a criminal. "

  "I - You don't understand, Dr. Patterson. I'm a corporate lawyer. I can recommend an excellent - "

  "I've already had calls from half a dozen top criminal defense lawyers. They all want to represent her. " He leaned forward in his chair. "But they're not interested in my daughter, David. This is a high-profile case, and they're looking for the limelight. They don't give a damn about her. I do. She's all I have. "

  "I want you to save my mother's life. She's all I have. " David said, "I really want to help you, but - "

  "When you got out of law school, you went to work for a criminal law firm. "

  David's heart began to beat faster. ' "That's true, but - " "You were a criminal defense lawyer for several years. "

  David nodded. "Yes, but I - I gave it up. That was a long time ago and - "

  "Not that long ago, David. And you told me how much you loved it. Why did you quit and go into corporate law?"

  David sat there, silent for a moment. "It's not important. "

  Dr. Patterson took out a handwritten letter and banded it to David. David knew what it said, without reading it.

  Dear Dr. Patterson,

  There are no words that can ever express bow much I owe you and how much I appreciate your great generosity. If there's ever anything at all that I can do for you, all you have to do is ask me, and it shall be done without question.

  David stared at the letter without seeing it. "David, will you talk to Ashley?" David nodded. "Yes, of course I'll talk to her, but-"

  Dr. Patterson rose. "Thank you. " David watched him walk out the door.

  "Why did you quit and go into corporate law?"

  Because I made a mistake, and an innocent woman I loved is dead. I swore I would never take anyone's life in my hands again. Ever.

  I can't defend Ashley Patterson.

  David pressed down the intercom button. "Holly,
would you ask Mr. Kincaid if he can see me now?"

  "Yes, sir. "

  Thirty minutes later, David was walking into the elaborate offices of Joseph Kincaid. Kincaid was in his sixties, a gray monochrome of a man, physically, mentally and emotionally.

  "Well," he said as David walked in the door, "you're an anxious young fellow, aren't you? Our meeting wasn't supposed to be until five o'clock. "

  David approached the desk. "I know. I came here to discuss something else, Joseph. " Years ago, David had made the mistake of calling him Joe, and the old man had had a fit. "Don't you ever call me Joe. "

  "Sit down, David. "

  David took a seat.

  "Cigar? They're from Cuba. "

  "No, thanks. "

  "What's on your mind?"

  "Dr. Steven Patterson was just in to see me. "

  Kincaid said, "He was on the news this morning. Damned shame. What did he want with you?"

  "He asked me to defend his daughter. "

  Kincaid looked at David, surprised. "You're not a criminal defense lawyer. "

  "I told him that. "

  "Well, then. " Kincaid was thoughtful for a moment "You know. I'd like to get Dr. Patterson as a client. He's very influential. He could bring a lot of business to this firm. He has connections with several medical organizations that - "

  "There's more. "

  Kincaid looked at David, quizzically. "Oh?"

  "I promised him I'd talk to his daughter. "

  "I see. Well, I suppose there's no harm in that. Talk to her, and then we'll find a good defense attorney to represent her. "

  "That's my plan. "

  "Good. We'll be building up some points with him. You go ahead. " He smiled. "I'll see you at five o'clock. "

  "Right. Thank you, Joseph. "

  As David walked back to his office, he wondered to himself. Why in the world would Dr. Patterson insist on having me represent his daughter?

 
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