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Home > Tell Me Your Dreams(8)

Tell Me Your Dreams(8)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

He was finished with the painting. "I'm hungry. Can I buy you lunch? Cafe De Young has pretty good food."

Alette hesitated only a moment. "Va bene. I'd like that." Not - "You look stupid" or "I don't have lunch with strangers," but - "I'd like that. " It was a new, exhilarating experience for Alette.

The lunch was extremely enjoyable and not once did negative thoughts come into Alette's mind. They talked about some of the great artists, and Alette told Richard about growing up in Rome.

"I've never been to Rome," he said. "Maybe one day."

And Alette thought, It would be fun to go to Rome with you.

As they were finishing their lunch, Richard saw his roommate across the room and called him over to the table. "Gary, I didn't know you were going to be here. I'd like you to meet someone. This is Alette Peters. Gary King."

Gary was in his late twenties, with bright blue eyes and hair down to his shoulders.

"It's nice to meet you, Gary."

"Gary's been my best friend since high school, Alette."

"Yeah. I have ten years of dirt on Richard, so if you're looking for any good stories - "

"Gary, don't you have somewhere to go?"

"Right." He turned to Alette. "But don't forget my offer. I'll see you two around."

They watched Gary leave. Richard said, "Alette..."

"Yes?"

"May I see you again?"

"I would like that." Very much.

Monday morning, Alette told Toni about her experience. "Don't get involved with an artist," Toni warned. "You'll be living on the fruit he paints. Are you going to see him again?"

Alette smiled. "Yes. I think he likes me. And I like him. I really like him."

It started as a small disagreement and ended up as a ferocious argument Pastor Frank was retiring after forty years of service. He had been a very good and caring pastor, and the congregation was sorry to see him leave. There were secret meetings held to decide what to give him as a going-away present A watch... money... a vacation... a painting... He loved art.

"Why don't we have someone do a portrait of him, with the church in the background?" They turned to Alette. "Will you do it?"

"Of course," she said happily.

Walter Manning was one of the senior members of the church and one of its biggest contributors. He was a very successful businessman, but he seemed to resent everyone else's success. He said, "My daughter is a fine painter. Perhaps she should do it."

Someone suggested, "Why not have them both do it, and we'll vote on which one to give Pastor Frank?"

Alette went to work. The painting took her five days, and it was a masterpiece, glowing with the compassion and goodness of her subject. The following Sunday, the group met to look at the paintings. There were exclamations of appreciation over Alette's painting.

"It's so real, he could almost walk off the canvas...."

"Oh, he's going to love that...."

"That should be in a museum, Alette...."

Walter Manning unwrapped the canvas painted by his daughter. It was a competent painting, but it lacked the fire of Alette's portrait.

"That's very nice," one of the members of the congregation said tactfully, "but I think Alette's is - "

"I agree...."

"Alette's portrait is the one...."

Walter Manning spoke up. "This has to be a unanimous decision. My daughter's a professional artist" -  he looked at Alette - "not a dilettante. She did this as a favor. We can't turn her down."

"But, Walter - "

"No, sir. This has to be unanimous. We're either giving him my daughter's painting or we don't give him anything at all."

Alette said, "I like her painting very much. Let's give it to the pastor."

Walter Manning smiled smugly and said, "He's going to be very pleased with this."

On his way home that evening, Walter Manning was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

When Alette heard the news, she was stunned.

Chapter Four

Ashley Patterson was taking a hurried shower, late for work, when she heard the sound. A door opening? Closing? She turned off the shower, listening, her heart pounding. Silence. She stood there a moment, her body glistening with drops of water, then hurriedly dried herself and cautiously stepped into the bedroom. Everything appeared to be normal. It's my stupid imagination again. I've got to get dressed. She walked over to her lingerie drawer, opened it and stared down at it, unbelievingly. Someone had gone through her undergarments. Her bras and pantyhose were all piled together. She always kept them neatly separated.

Ashley suddenly felt sick to her stomach. Had he unzipped his pants, picked up her pantyhose and rubbed them against himself? Had he fantasized about raping her? Raping her and murdering her? She was finding it difficult to breathe. I should go to the police, but they would laugh at me.

You want us to investigate this because you think someone got into your lingerie drawer?

Someone has been following me.

Have you seen who it is?

No.

Has anyone threatened you?

No.

Do you know why anyone would want to harm you?

No.

It's no use, Ashley thought despairingly. I can't go to the police. Those are the questions they would ask me, and I would look like a fool.

She dressed as quickly as she could, suddenly eager to escape from the apartment. I'll have to move. I'll go somewhere where he can't find me.

But even as she thought it, she had the feeling that it was going to be impossible. He knows where I live, he knows where I work. And what do I know about him? Nothing.

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