Tell me your dreams, p.9
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.9

           Sidney Sheldon
Chapter Nine

  She was fighting hysteria. Her fingers were trembling so hard that she dialed three times trying to reach the number. She took a deep breath and tried again. Two. . . nine. . . nine. . . two. . . one. . . zero. . . one. . .

  The phone began to ring.

  "Sheriff's Office. "

  "Deputy Blake, please. Hurry!"

  "Deputy Blake has gone home. Can someone else - ?'

  "No! I - Would you ask him to call me? This is Ashley Patterson. I need to talk to him right away. "

  "Let me put you on hold, miss, and I'll see if I reach him. "

  Deputy Sam Blake was patiently listening to his wife Serena, screaming at him. "My brother works you a horse, day and night, and he doesn't give you enough money to support me decently. Why don't you demand a raise? Why?"

  They were at the dinner table. "Would you pass the potatoes, dear?"

  Serena reached over and slammed the dish of potatoes in front of her husband. "The trouble is that they don't appreciate you. "

  "You're right, dear. May I have some gravy?"

  "Aren't you listening to what I'm saying?" she yelled.

  "Every word, my love. This dinner is delicious. You're a great cook. "

  "How can I fight you, you bastard, if you won't fight back?"

  He took a mouthful of veal. "It's because I love you, darling. "

  The telephone rang. "Excuse me. " He got up and picked up the receiver. "Hello. . . Yes. . . Put her trough. . . . Miss Patterson?" He could hear her sobbing.

  "Something - something terrible has happened. You've got to come over here right away. "

  "I'm on my way. "

  Serena got to her feet. "What? You're going out? We are in the middle of dinner!"

  "It's an emergency, darling. I'll be back as soon as I can. " She watched him strap on his gun. He leaned over kissed her. "Wonderful dinner. "

  * * *

  Ashley opened the door for him the instant he arrived. Her cheeks were tear stained. She was shivering.

  Sam Blake stepped into the apartment, looking around warily.

  "Is anyone else here?"

  "S-someone was here. " She was fighting for self-control. "L-look. . . . " She led him to the bathroom.

  Deputy Blake read the words on the mirror out loud: "You will die. "

  He turned to Ashley. "Do you have any idea who could have written that?"

  "No," Ashley said. "This is my apartment. No one else has a key. . . . And someone has been coming in here. . . . Someone's been following me. Someone's planning to kill me. " She burst into tears. "I can't s-stand this any longer. "

  She was sobbing uncontrollably. Deputy Blake put his arm around her and patted her shoulder. "Come on. It's going to be all right. We'll give you protection, and we'll find out who's behind this. "

  Ashley took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I - I don't usually carry on like this. It's - it's just been horrible. "

  "Let's talk," Sam Blake said.

  She managed to force a smile. "All right. "

  "How about a nice cup of tea?"

  They sat talking over cups of hot tea.

  "When did all this start, Miss Patterson?"

  "About - about six months ago. I felt I was being followed. At first it was just a vague feeling, but then it began to grow. I knew I was being followed, but I couldn't see anyone. Then at work, someone got into my computer and drew a picture of a hand with a knife in it trying to - to stab me. "

  "And do you have any idea who it could have been?"

  "No. "

  "You said someone has gotten into this apartment before today?"

  "Yes. Once, someone turned on all the lights when I was gone. Another time I found a cigarette butt on my dressing table. I don't smoke. And someone opened a drawer and went through my. . . my underwear. " She took a deep breath. "And now. . . this. "

  "Do you have any boyfriends who might feel rejected?"

  Ashley shook her head. "No. "

  "Have you had any business dealings where somebody's lost money because of you?"

  "No. "

  "No threats from anyone?"

  "No. " She thought of telling him about the lost weekend in Chicago, but that might involve mentioning her father. She decided to say nothing.

  "I don't want to be alone here tonight," Ashley said.

  "All right. I'll call the station and have them send someone here to - "

  "No! Please! I'm afraid to trust anyone else. Could you stay here with me, just until morning?"

  "I don't think I - "

  "Oh, please. " She was trembling.

  He looked into her eyes and thought he had never seen anyone so terrified.

  "Isn't there someplace you could stay tonight? Don't you have any friends who - ?"

  "What if it's one of my friends who's doing this?"

  He nodded. "Right. I'll stay. In the morning, I'll arrange for twenty-four-hour protection for you. "

  "Thank you. " Her voice was filled with relief.

  He patted Ashley's hand. "And don't worry. I promise you that we'll get to the bottom of this. Let me call Sheriff Dowling and tell him what's going on. "

  He spoke on the phone for five minutes, and when he bung up, he said, "I'd better call my wife. "

  "Of course. "

  Deputy Blake picked up the telephone again and dialed. "Hello, darling. I won't be home tonight, so why don't you watch some tel - ?"

  "You won't what? Where are you, with one of your cheap whores?"

  Ashley could hear her screaming over the phone.

  "Serena - "

  "You're not fooling me. "

  "Serena - "

  "That's all you men think about - getting laid. "

  "Serena - "

  "Well, I won't put up with it any longer. "

  "Serena - "

  "That's the thanks I get for being such a go wife. . . . "

  The one-sided conversation went on for another ten minutes. Finally, Deputy Blake replaced the receiver a turned to Ashley, embarrassed.

  "I'm sorry about that. She's not like that. "

  Ashley looked at him and said, "I understand. "

  "No - I mean it. Serena acts that way because she's scared. "

  "Ashley looked at him curiously. "Scared?"

  He was silent for a moment. "Serena is dying. She has cancer. It was in remission for a while. It first started about seven years ago. We've been married for five years. "

  "So you knew. . . ?"

  "Yes. It didn't matter. I love her. " He stopped. "It's gotten worse lately. She's scared because she's afraid to die and she's afraid I'll leave her. All the yelling is a cover-up to hide that fear. "

  "I'm - I'm so sorry. "

  "She's a wonderful person. Inside, she's gentle and caring and loving. That's the Serena I know. "

  Ashley said, "I'm sorry if I caused any - "

  "Not at all. " He looked around.

  Ashley said, "There's just the one bedroom. You can take it, and I'll sleep on the couch. "

  Deputy Blake shook his head. "The couch will be fine for me. "

  Ashley said, "I can't tell you how grateful I am. "

  "No problem. Miss Patterson. " He watched her go into a linen closet and take out sheets and blankets.

  She walked over to the couch and spread the linen out. "I hope that you'll - "

  "Perfect. I don't plan on doing much sleeping, anyway. " He checked the windows to make sure they were locked and then walked over to the door and double-bolted it. "All right. " He placed his gun on the table next to the couch. "You get a good night's sleep. In the morning, we'll get everything organized. "

  Ashley nodded. She walked over to him and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you. "

  Deputy Blake watched her walk into the bedroom and close the door. He walked back to the windows and checked them again. It was going to be a long night.

  At FBI headquarters in Washington, Special Agent Ra-mirez was talking to Roland Kingsley, the chief of his section.

  "We have the fingerprints and DNA reports found at the murder scenes in Bedford, Cupertino, Quebec, and San Francisco. We just got in the final DNA report. The fingerprints from the scenes all match, and the DNA traces match. "

  Kingsley nodded. "So it's definitely a serial killer. "

  "No question. "

  "Let's find the bastard. "

  At six o'clock in the morning, deputy Sam Blake's naked body was found by the wife of the building superintendent in the alley that ran behind Ashley Patterson's apartment building.

  He had been stabbed to death and castrated.

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