Tell me your dreams, p.7
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.7

           Sidney Sheldon
Chapter Seven

  ASHLEY Patterson followed the investigation of Dennis Tibble's murder in the newspapers and on television every day. The police appeared to have reached a dead end.

  It's over, Ashley thought. There's nothing more to worry about.

  That evening deputy Sam Blake appeared at her apartment. Ashley looked at him, her mouth suddenly dry.

  "I hope I'm not bothering you," deputy Blake said. "I was on my way home, and I just thought I'd drop in for a minute. "

  Ashley swallowed. "No. Come in. "

  Deputy Blake walked into the apartment. "Nice place you have here. "

  "Thank you. "

  "I'll bet Dennis Tibble didn't like this kind of furniture. "

  Ashley's heart began to pound. "I don't know. He's never been in this apartment. "

  "Oh. I thought he might have, you know. "

  "No, I don't know, Deputy. I told you, I never dated him. "

  "Right. May I sit down?"

  "Please. "

  "You see, I'm having a big problem with this case, Miss Patterson. It doesn't fit into any pattern. Like I said, there's always a motive. I've talked to some of the people over at Global Computer Graphics, and no one seems to have known Tibble very well. He kept pretty much to himself. "

  Ashley listened, waiting for the blow to fall.

  "In fact, from what they tell me, you're the only one he was really interested in. "

  Had he found out something, or was he on a fishing expedition?

  Ashley said carefully, "He was interested in me, Deputy, but I was not interested in him. I made that quite clear to him. "

  He nodded. "Well, I think it was nice of you to deliver those papers to his apartment. "

  Ashley almost said, "What papers?" and then suddenly remembered. "It - it was no trouble. It was on my way. "

  "Right. Someone must have hated Tibble a lot to do what they did. "

  Ashley sat there tense, saying nothing.

  "Do you know what I hate?" Deputy Blake said. "Unsolved murders. They always leave me frustrated. Because when a murder goes unsolved, I don't think it means that the criminals were that smart. I think it means that the police weren't smart enough. Well, so far, I've been lucky. I've solved all the crimes that have come my way. " He got to his feet. "I don't intend to give up on this one. If you can think of anything that will helpful, you'll call me, won't you, Miss Patterson?"

  "Yes, of course. "

  Ashley watched him leave, and she thought. Did he come here as a warning? Does he know more than he's telling me?

  Toni was more absorbed than ever in the Internet. She enjoyed her chats with Jean Claude the most, but that did not stop her from having other chat-room correspondents. At every chance, she sat in front of her computer, and the typed messages flew back and forth, spilling onto the computer screen.

  "Toni? Where have you been? I've been in the chat room waiting for you. "

  "I'm worth waiting for, luv. Tell me about yourself. What do you do?"

  "I work at a pharmacy. I can be good to you. Do you do drugs?"

  "Sod off. "

  "Is that you, Toni?"

  "The answer to your dreams. Is it Mark?"

  "Yes. "

  "You haven't been on the Internet lately. "

  "I've been busy. I'd like to meet you, Toni. "

  "Tell me. Mark, what do you do?"

  "I'm a librarian. "

  "Isn't that exciting! All those books and everything. . . . "

  "When can we meet?"

  "Why don't you ask Nostradamus?"

  "Hello, Toni. My name is Wendy. "

  "Hello, Wendy. "

  "You sound like fun. "

  "I enjoy life. "

  "Maybe I can help you enjoy it more. "

  "What did you have in mind?"

  "Well, I hope you're not one of those narrow-minded people who are afraid to experiment and try exciting new things. I'd like to show you a good time. "

  "Thanks, Wendy. You don't have the equipment I need".

  And then, Jean Claude Parent came back on.

  "Bonne nuit. Comment ca va? How are you?"

  "I'm great. How about you?"

  "I have missed you. I wish very much to meet you in person. "

  "I want to meet you, too. Thanks for sending me your photograph. You're a good-looking bloke. "

  "And you are beautiful. I think it is very important for us to get to know each other. Is your company coming to Quebec for the computer convention?"

  "What? Not that I know of. When is it?"

  "In three weeks. Many big companies will be coming, I hope you will be here. "

  "I hope so, too. "

  "Can we meet in the chat room tomorrow at the same time?"

  "Of course. Until tomorrow. "

  "`A demain. "

  The following morning, Shane Miller walked up to Ashley. "Ashley, have you heard about the big computer convention coming up in Quebec City?"

  She nodded. "Yes. It sounds interesting. "

  "I was just debating whether we should send a contingent up there.

  "All the companies are going," Ashley said. "Symantec, Microsoft, Apple. Quebec City is putting on a big show for them. A trip like that could be kind of a Christmas bonus. "

  Shane Miller smiled at her enthusiasm. "Let me check it out. "

  The following morning, Shane Miller called Ashley into his office.

  "How would you like to spend Christmas in Quebec City?"

  "We're going? That's great," Ashley said, enthusiastically. In the past, she had spent the Christmas holidays with her father, but this year she had dreaded the prospect.

  "You'd better take plenty of warm clothes. "

  "Don't worry. I will. I'm really looking forward to this, Shane. "

  Toni was in the Internet chat room. "Jean Claude, the Company is sending a group of us to Quebec City!"

  "Formidable! I am so pleased. When will you arrive?"

  "In two weeks. There will be fifteen of us. "

  "Merveilleux! I feel as though something very important is going to happen. "

  "So do I. " Something very important.

  Ashley anxiously watched the news every night, but, there still no new developments in the Dennis Tibble murder. She began to relax. If the police could not connect her with the case, there was no way they could a connection to her father. Half a dozen times she steeled herself to ask him about it, but each time she backed off. What if he were innocent? Could he ever forgive her for accusing him of being a murderer? And if he is guilty, I don't want to know, Ashley thought. I couldn't bear it. And if he has done those terrible things, in his mind, he would have done them to protect me. At least I won't have to face him this Christmas.

  Ashley telephoned her father in San Francisco. She said, without preamble, "I'm not going to be able to spend Christmas with you this year, Father. My company is sending me to a convention in Canada. "

  There was a long silence. "That's bad timing, Ashley. You and I have always spent Christmas together. "

  "I can't help - "

  "You're all I have, you know. "

  "Yes, Father, and. . . you're all I have. "

  "That's what's important. "

  Important enough to kill for?

  "Where is this convention?"

  "In Quebec City. It's - "

  "Ah. Lovely place. I haven't been there in years. I'll tell you what I'll do. I haven't anything scheduled at the hospital around that time. I'll fly up, and we'll have a Christmas dinner together. "

  Ashley said quickly, "I don't think it's - "

  "You just make a reservation for me at whatever hotel you're staying at. We don't want to break tradition, do we?"

  She hesitated and said slowly, "No, Father. "

  How can I face him?

  Alette was excited. She said to Toni, "I've never been to Quebec City. Do they have museums there

  "Of course they have museums there," Toni told her. "They have everything. A lot of winter sports. Skiing, skating. . . "

  Alette shuddered. "I hate cold weather. No sports for me. Even with gloves, my fingers get numb. I will stick to the museums. . . . "

  On the twenty-first of December, the group from Global Computer Graphics arrived at the Jean-Lesage International Airport in Sainte-Foy and were driven to the storied Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. It was below zero outside, and the streets were blanketed with snow.

  Jean Claude had given Toni his home telephone number. She called as soon as she checked into her room. "I hope I'm not calling too late. "

  "Mais non! I cannot believe you are here. When may I see you?"

  "Well, we're all going to the convention center tomorrow morning, but I could slip away and have lunch with you. "

  "Bon! There is a restaurant, Le Paris-Brest, on the Grande Allee Est. Can you meet me there at one o'clock?"

  "I'll be there. "

  The Centre des Congres de Quebec on Rene Levesque Boulevard is a four-story, glass-and-steel, state-of-the-art building that can accommodate thousands of conventioneers. At nine o'clock in the morning, the vast halls were crowded with computer experts from all over the world, exchanging information on up-to-the-minute developments. They filled multimedia rooms, exhibit halls and video-conferencing centers. There were half a dozen and seminars going on simultaneously. Toni was bored. All talk and no action, she thought. At 12:45, she slipped out of the convention hall and took a taxi to the restaurant.

  Jean Claude was waiting for her. He took her hand and said warmly, "Toni, I am so pleased you could come. "

  "So am I. "

  "I will try to make certain that your time here is very agreeable," Jean Claude told her. "This is a beautiful city to explore. "

  Toni looked at him and smiled. "I know I'm going to enjoy it. "

  "I would like to spend as much time with you as I can. "

  "Can you take the time off? What about the jewelry store?"

  Jean Claude smiled. "It will have to manage without me. "

  The maitre brought menus.

  Jean Claude said to Toni, "Would you like to try some of our French-Canadian dishes?"

  "Fine. "

  "Then please let me order for you. " He said to the maitre d', "Nous voudrions ie Brome Lake Duckling. " He explained to Toni, "It is a local dish, duckling cooked in calvados and stuffed with apples. "

  "Sounds delicious. "

  And it was.

  During luncheon, they filled each other in on their pasts.

  "So. You've never been married?" Toni asked.

  "No. And you?"

  "No. "

  "You have not found the right man. "

  Oh, God, wouldn't it be wonderful if it were that simple. "No. "

  They talked of Quebec City and what there was to do there.

  "Do you ski?"

  Toni nodded. "I love it. "

  "Ah, bon, moi aussi. And there is snowmobiling, ice-skating, wonderful shopping. . . "

  There was something almost boyish about his enthusiasm. Toni had never felt more comfortable with anyone.

  Shane Miller arranged it so his group attended the convention mornings and had their afternoons free.

  "I don't know what to do here," Alette complained to Toni. "It's freezing. What are you going to do?"

  "Everything. " Toni grinned.

  "A piu tardi. "

  Toni and Jean Claude had lunch together every day, and every afternoon, Jean Claude took Toni on a tour. She had never seen any place like Quebec City. It was like finding a turn-of-the-century picturesque French village in North America. The ancient streets had colorful names like Break Neck Stairs and Below the Fort and Sailor's Leap. It was a Currier & Ives city, framed in snow.

  They visited La Citadelle, with its walls protecting Old Quebec, and they watched the traditional changing of the guard inside the walls of the fort. They explored the shopping streets. Saint Jean, Cartier, C6te de la Fabrique, and wandered through the Quartier Petit Champlain.

  "This is the oldest commercial district in North America," Jean Claude told her.

  "It's super. "

  Everywhere they went, there were sparkling Christmas trees, nativity scenes and music for the enjoyment of the strollers.

  Jean Claude took Toni snowmobiling in the countryside. As they raced down a narrow slope, he called out, "Are you having a good time?"

  Toni sensed that it was not an idle question. She nodded and said softly, "I'm having a wonderful time. "

  Alette spent her time at museums. She visited the Basilica of Notre-Dame and the Good Shepherd Chapel and the Augustine Museum, but she had no interest in anything else that Quebec City offered. There were dozens of gourmet restaurants, but when she was not dining at the hotel, she ate at Le Commensal, a vegetarian cafeteria.

  From time to time, Alette thought about her artist friend, Richard Melton, in San Francisco, and wondered what he was doing and if he would remember her.

  Ashley was dreading Christmas. She was tempted to call her father and tell him not to come. But what excuse can I give? You're a murderer. I don't want to see you?

  And each day Christmas was coming closer.

  "I would like to show you my jewelry store," Jean Claude told Toni. "Would you care to see it?"

  Toni nodded. "Love to. "

  Parent Jewelers was located in the heart of Quebec City, on rue Notre-Dame. When she walked in the door, Toni was stunned. On the Internet, Jean Claude had said, "I have a little jewelry store. " It was a very large store, tastefully done. Half a dozen clerks were busy with customers.

  Toni looked around and said, "It's - it's smashing. "

  He smiled. "Merci. I would like to give you a cadeau - a gift, for Christmas. "

  "No. That isn't necessary. I - "

  "Please do not deprive me of the pleasure. " Jean Claude led Toni to a showcase filled with rings. "Tell me what you like. "

  Toni shook her head. "Those are much too expensive. I couldn't - "

  "Please. "

  Toni studied him a moment, then nodded. "All right. " She examined the showcase again. In the center was a large emerald ring set with diamonds.

  Jean Claude saw her looking at it "Do you like the emerald ring?"

  "It's lovely, but it's much too - "

  "It is yours. " Jean Claude took out a small key, unlocked the case and pulled out the ring.

  "No, Jean Claude - "

  "Pour moi. " He slipped it on Toni's finger. It was a perfect fit.

  "Voila! It is a sign. "

  Toni squeezed his hand. "I - I don't know what to say. "

  "I cannot tell you how much pleasure this gives me. There is a wonderful restaurant here called Pavilion. Would you like to have dinner there tonight?"

  "Anywhere you say. "

  "I will call for you at eight o'clock. "

  At six o'clock that night, Ashley's father telephoned. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to disappoint you, Ashley. I won't be able to be there for Christmas. An important patient of mine in South America has had a stroke. I'm flying to Argentina tonight. "

  "I'm - I'm sorry, Father," Ashley said. She tried to sound convincing.

  "We'll make up for it, won't we, darling?"

  "Yes, Father. Have a good flight. "

  Toni was looking forward to dinner with Jean Claude. It was going to be a lovely evening. As she dressed, she sang softly to herself.

  "Up and down the city road,

  In and out of the Eagle,

  That's the way the money goes,

  Pop! goes the weasel. "

  I think Jean Claude is in love with me, Mother.

  Pavilion is located in the cavernous Gare du Palais, Quebec City's old railroad station. It is a large restaurant with a long bar at the entrance and rows of tables spreading toward the back.
At eleven o'clock each night, a dozen tables are moved to the side to create a dance floor, and a disc jockey takes over with a variety of tapes ranging from reggae to jazz to blues.

  Toni and Jean Claude arrived at nine, and they were warmly greeted at the door by the owner.

  "Monsieur Parent. How nice to see you. "

  "Thank you, Andre. This is Miss Toni Prescott. Mr. Nicholas. "

  "A pleasure, Miss Prescott. Your table is ready. "

  "The food is excellent here," Jean Claude assured Toni, when they were seated. "Let us start with champagne. "

  They ordered paillard de veau and torpille and salad and a bottle of Valpolicella.

  Toni kept studying the emerald ring Jean Claude had given her. "It's so beautiful!" she exclaimed.

  Jean Claude leaned across the table. "Tu aussi. I cannot tell you how happy I am that we have finally met. "

  "I am, too," Toni said softly.

  The music began. Jean Claude looked at Toni. "Would you like to dance?"

  "I'd love to. "

  Dancing was one of Toni's passions, and when she got out on the dance floor, she forgot everything else. She was a little girl dancing with her father, and her mother said, "The child is clumsy. "

  Jean Claude was holding her close. "You're a wonderful dancer. "

  "Thank you. " Do you hear that, Mother?

  Toni thought, I wish this could go on forever.

  On the way back to the hotel, Jean Claude said, "Ch`erie, would you like to stop at my house and have a nightcap?"

  Toni hesitated. "Not tonight, Jean Claude. "

  "Tomorrow, peut-etre?"

  She squeezed his hand. "Tomorrow. "

  At 3:00 A. M„ Police Officer Rene Picard was in a squad car cruising down Grande Allee in the Quartier Montcalm when he noticed that the front door of a two-story redbrick house was wide open. He pulled over to the curb and stepped out to investigate. He walked to the front door and called, "Bon soir. Y a-t-il, quelqu'un?"

  There was no answer. He stepped into the foyer and moved toward the large drawing room. "C'est la police. Y a-t-il, quelqu'un?"

  There was no response. The house was unnaturally quiet. Unbuttoning his gun holster, Officer Picard began to go through the downstairs rooms, calling out as he moved from room to room. The only response was an eerie silence. He returned to the foyer. There was a graceful staircase leading to the floor above. "Allo!" Nothing.

  Officer Picard started up the stairs. When he got to the top of the stairs, his gun was in his hand. He called out again, then started down the long hallway. Ahead, a bedroom door was ajar. He walked over to it, opened it wide and turned pale. "Mon Dieu!"

  At five o'clock that morning, in the gray stone and yellow brick building on Story Boulevard, where Centrale de Police is located. Inspector Paul Cayer was asking, "What do we have?" Officer Guy Fontaine replied, "The victim's name is

  Jean Claude Parent. He was stabbed at least a dozen times, and his body was castrated. The coroner says that the murder took place in the last three or four hours. We found a restaurant receipt from Pavilion in Parent's jacket pocket. He had dinner there earlier in the evening. - We got the owner of the restaurant out of bed. "


  "Monsieur Parent was at Pavilion with a woman named Toni Prescott, a brunette, very attractive, with an English accent. The manager of Monsieur Parent's jewelry store said that earlier that day. Monsieur Parent had brought a woman answering that description into the store and introduced her as Toni Prescott. He gave her an expensive emerald ring. We also believe that Monsieur Parent had sex with someone before he died, and that the murder weapon was a steel-blade letter opener. There were fingerprints on it. We sent them on to our lab and to the FBI. We are waiting to hear. "

  "Have you picked up Toni Prescott?"

  "Non. "

  "And why not?"

  "We cannot find her. We have checked all the local hotels. We have checked our files and the files of the FBI. She has no birth certificate, no social security number, no driver's license. "

  "Impossible! Could she have gotten out of the city?"

  Officer Fontaine shook his head. "I don't think so, Inspector. The airport closed at midnight. The last train out of Quebec City left at five-thirty-five last night. The first train this morning will be at six-thirty-nine. We have sent a description of her to the bus station, the two taxi companies and the limousine company. "

  "For God's sake, we have her name, her description and her fingerprints. She can't just have disappeared. "

  One hour later, a report came in from the FBI. They were unable to identify the fingerprints. There was no record of Toni Prescott.

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