Tell me your dreams, p.13
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.13

           Sidney Sheldon
 
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Chapter Thirteen

  WHEN David got home, Sandra was waiting for him. "Good evening, darling. "

  He took her in his arms and thought. My God, she's lovely. What idiot said that pregnant woman weren't beautiful?

  Sandra said excitedly, "The baby lacked again today. " She took David's band and put it on her belly. "Can you feel him?"

  After a few moments, David said, "No. He's a stubborn little devil. "

  "By the way, Mr. Crowther called. "

  "Crowther?"

  "The real estate broker. The papers are ready to be signed. " David felt a sudden sinking feeling. "Oh. "

  "I want to show you something," Sandra said eagerly. "Don't go away. "

  David watched her hurry into the bedroom and thought. What am I going to do? I have to make a decision.

  Sandra came back into the room holding up several samples of blue wallpaper. "We're doing the nursery in blue, and we'll do the living room of the apartment in blue and white, your favorite colors. Which color wallpaper do you like, the lighter shade or the darker?"

  David forced himself to concentrate. "The lighter looks good. "

  "I like it, too. The only problem is that the rug is going to be a dark blue. Do you think they should match?"

  I can't give up the partnership. I've worked too hard for it. It means too much.

  "David. Do you think they should match?"

  He looked at her. "What? Oh. Yes. Whatever you think, honey. "

  "I'm so excited. It's going to be beautiful. "

  There's no way we can afford it tf I don't get the partnership.

  Sandra looked around the little apartment. "We can use some of this furniture, but I'm afraid we're going to need a lot of new things. " She looked at him anxiously. "We can handle it, can't we, darling? I don't want to go overboard. "

  "Right," David said absently.

  She snuggled against his shoulder. "It's going to be like a whole new life, isn't it? The baby and the partnership and the penthouse went by there today wanted to see the playground and the school. The playground's beautiful. It has slides and swings and jungle gyms want you to come with me Saturday to look at it. Jeffrey's going to adore it. "

  Maybe I can convince Kincaid that this would be a good thing for the firm.

  "The school looks nice. It's just a couple blocks from our condo, and it's not too large think that's important. "

  David was listening to her now and thought, I can't let her down can't take away her dreams. I'll tell Kincaid in the morning that I'm not taking the Patterson case. Patterson will have to find someone else.

  "We'd better get ready, darling. We're due at the Quillers' at eight o'clock. "

  This was the moment of truth. David felt himself tense. "There's something we have to talk about. "

  "Yes?"

  "I went to see Ashley Patterson this morning. "

  "Oh? Tell me about it. Is she guilty? Did she do those terrible things?"

  "Yes and no. "

  "Spoken like a lawyer. What does that mean?"

  "She committed the murders. . . but she's not guilty. "

  "David - !"

  "Ashley has a medical condition called multiple personality disorder. Her personality is split, so that she does things without knowing she's doing them. "

  Sandra was staring at him. "How horrible. "

  "There are two other personalities. I've heard them. "

  "You've heard them?"

  "Yes. And they're real. I mean, she's not faking. "

  "And she has no idea that she - ?"

  "None. "

  "Then is she innocent or guilty?"

  "That's for the courts to decide. Her father won't talk to Jesse Quiller, so I'll have to find some other attorney. "

  "But Jesse's perfect. Why won't he talk to him?" David hesitated. "He wants me to defend her. "

  "But you told him you can't, of course. "

  "Of course. "

  "Then - ?"

  "He won't listen. "

  "What did he say, David?"

  He shook his head. "It doesn't matter. "

  "What did he say?"

  David replied slowly, "He said that I trusted him enough to put my mother's life in his hands, and he saved her, and now he was trusting me enough to put his daughter's life in my hands, and he is asking me to save her. " Sandra was studying his face. "Do you think you could?"

  "I don't know. Kincaid doesn't want me to take the case. If I did take it, I could lose the partnership. "

  "Oh. " There was a long silence.

  When he spoke, David said, "I have a choice. I can say no to Dr. Patterson and become a partner in the firm, or I can defend his daughter and probably go on an unpaid leave, and see what happens afterward. "

  Sandra was listening quietly.

  "There are people much better qualified to handle Ashley's case, but for some damn reason, her father won't hear of anyone else. I don't know why he's so stubborn about it, but he is. If I take the case and I don't get the partnership, we'll have to forget about moving. We'll have to forget about a lot of our plans, Sandra. "

  Sandra said softly, "I remember before we were married, you told me about him. He was one of the busiest doctors in the world, but he found time to help a penniless young boy. He was your hero, David. You said that if we ever had a son, you would want him to grow up to be like Steven Patterson. "

  David nodded.

  "When do you have to decide?"

  "I'm seeing Kincaid first thing in the morning. " Sandra took his hand and said, "You don't need that much time. Dr. Patterson saved your mother. You're going to save his daughter. " She looked around and smiled. "Anyway, we can always do this apartment over in blue and white. "

  Jesse Quiller was one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the country. He was a tall, rugged man with a homespun touch that made jurors identify with him. They felt that he was one of them, and they wanted to help him. That was one of the reasons he seldom lost a case. The other reasons were that he had a photographic memory and a brilliant mind.

  Instead of vacationing, Quiller used his summers to teach law, and years earlier David had been one of his pupils. When David graduated, Quiller invited him to join his criminal law firm, and two years later, David had become a partner. David loved practicing criminal law and excelled at it. He made sure that at least 10 percent of his cases were pro bono. Three years after becoming a partner, David had abruptly resigned and gone to work for Kincaid, Turner, Rose & Ripley to practice corporate law.

  Over the years, David and Quiller had remained close friends. They, and their wives, had dinner together once a week.

  Jesse Quiller had always fancied tall, sylphlike, sophisticated blondes. Then he had met Emily and fallen in love with her. Emily was a prematurely gray dumpling of a woman, from an Iowa farm - the exact opposite of other women Quiller had dated. She was a caretaker, mother earth. They made an unlikely couple, but the marriage worked because they were deeply in love with each other.

  Every Tuesday, the Singers and the Quillers had dinner and then played a complicated card game called Liverpool.

  When Sandra and David arrived at the Quillers' beautiful home on Hayes Street, Jesse met them at the door. He gave Sandra a bug and said, "Come in. We've got the champagne on ice. It's a big day for you, hub? The new penthouse and the partnership. Or is it the partnership and the penthouse?"

  David and Sandra looked at each other. "Emily's in the kitchen fixing a celebration dinner. " He looked at their faces. "I think it's a celebration dinner. Am I missing something?"

  David said, "No, Jesse. It's just that we may have a - a little problem. "

  "Come on in. Fix you a drink?" He looked at Sandra.

  "No, thanks. I don't want the baby to get into bad habits. "

  "He's a lucky kid, having parents like you," Quiller said warmly. He turned to David. "What can I get for you?"

  "I'
m fine," David said.

  Sandra started toward the kitchen. "I'll go see if I can help Emily. "

  "Sit down, David. You look serious. "

  "I'm in a dilemma," David admitted.

  "Let me guess. Is it the penthouse or the partnership?"

  "Both. "

  "Both?"

  "Yes. You know about the Patterson case?"

  "Ashley Patterson? Sure. What's that got to do with - ?" He stored. "Wait a minute. You told me about Steven Patterson, in law school. He saved your mother's life. "

  "Yes. He wants me to defend his daughter. I tried to torn the case over to you, but he won't hear of anyone but me defending her. "

  Quiller frowned. "Does he know you're not practicing criminal law anymore?"

  "Yes. That's what's so damn strange. There are dozens of lawyers who can do a hell of a lot better job than I can. "

  "He knows that you were a criminal defense lawyer?"

  "Yes. "

  Quiller said carefully, "How does he feel about his daughter?"

  What a strange question, David thought "She means more to him than anything in the world. "

  "Okay. Suppose you took her case. The downside is that - "

  "The downside is that Kincaid doesn't want me to take it. If I do, I have a feeling that I'll lose the partnership. "

  "I see. And that's where the penthouse comes in?" David said angrily, "That's where my whole god-damn future comes in. It would be stupid for me to do this, Jesse. I mean really stupid!"

  "What are you getting mad about?" David took a deep breath. "Because I'm going to do it. "

  Quiller smiled. "Why am I not surprised?" David ran his hand across his forehead, "if I turned him down, and his daughter was convicted and executed, and I did nothing to help, I - I couldn't live with myself. "

  "I understand. How does Sandra feel about this?" David managed a smile. "You know Sandra. "

  "Yeah. She wants you to go a bead with it. "

  "Right. "

  Quiller leaned forward. "I'll do everything I can to help you, David. "

  David sighed. "No. That's part of my bargain. I have to handle this alone. "

  Quiller frowned. "That doesn't make any sense. "

  "I know. I tried to explain that to Dr. Patterson, but he wouldn't listen. "

  "Have you told Kincaid about this yet?"

  "I'm having a meeting with him in the morning. "

  "What do you think will happen?"

  "I know what's going to happen. He's going to advise me not to take the case and, if I insist, he'll ask me to take a leave of absence without pay. "

  "Let's have lunch tomorrow. Rubicon, one o'clock. " David nodded. "Fine. "

  Emily came in from the kitchen wiping her hands on a kitchen towel. David and Quiller rose.

  "Hello, David. " Emily hustled up to him, and he gave her a kiss on the cheek.

  "I hope you're hungry. Dinner's almost ready. Sandra's in the kitchen helping me. She's such a dear. " She picked up a tray and hurried back into the kitchen.

  Quiller turned to David. "You mean a great deal to Emily and me. I'm going to give you some advice. You've got to let go. " David sat there, saying nothing. "That was a long time ago, David. And what happened wasn't your fault. It could have happened to anyone. "

  David looked at Quiller. "It happened to me, Jesse. I killed her. "

  * * *

  It was deja vu. All over again. And again. David sat there, transported back to another time and another place.

  It had been a pro bono case, and David had said to Jesse Quiller, "I'll handle it. "

  Helen Woodman was a lovely young woman accused of murdering her wealthy stepmother. There had been bitter public quarrels between the two, but all the evidence against Helen was circumstantial. After David had gone to the jail and met with her, he was convinced she was innocent. With each meeting, he had become more emotionally involved. In the end, he had broken a basic rule: Never fall in love with a client.

  The trial had gone well. David had refuted the prosecutor's evidence bit by bit, and he had won the jury over to his client's side. And unexpectedly, a disaster had occurred. Helen's alibi was that at the time of the murder she had been at the theater with a friend. Under questioning in court, her friend admitted that the alibi was a lie, and a witness had come forward to say that he had seen Helen at her stepmother's apartment at the time of the murder. Helen's credibility was completely gone. The jury convicted her of first-degree murder, and the judge sentenced her to be executed. David was devastated.

  "How could you have done this, Helen?" he demanded. "Why did you lie to me?"

  "I didn't kill my stepmother, David. When I got to her apartment, I found her on the floor, dead. I was afraid you wouldn't believe me, so I - I made up the story about being at the theater. "

  He stood there, listening, a cynical expression on his face.

  "I'm telling you the truth, David. "

  "Are you?" He turned and stormed out. Sometime during the night, Helen committed suicide. One week later, an ex-convict caught committing a burglary confessed to the murder of Helen's stepmother.

  The next day, David quit Jesse Quiller's firm. Quiller had tried to dissuade him.

  "It wasn't your fault, David. She lied to you and - "

  "That's the point. I let her. I didn't do my job. I didn't make sure she was telling me the truth. I wanted to believe her, and because of that, I let her down. "

  Two weeks later, David was working for Kincaid, Turner, Rose & Ripley.

  "I'll never be responsible for another person's life," David had sworn. And now he was defending Ashley Patterson.

 
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