Home > Tell Me Your Dreams(3)

Tell Me Your Dreams(3)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

She looked at him a long moment and said softly, "Yes."

Thinking about it later, Ashley could not remember what the graduation party was like. She and Jim had spent the entire evening excitedly discussing their plans.

"Why don't we fly to Chicago?" Ashley asked.

"Because we would have to give our names to the airline. If we go by train, nobody will know where we've gone."

As they were leaving the party, Jim Cleary asked softly, "Would you like to stop off at my place? My folks are out of town for the weekend."

Ashley hesitated, torn. "Jim... we've waited this long. A few more days won't matter."

"You're right." He grinned. "I may be the only man on this continent marrying a virgin."

When Jim Cleary brought Ashley home from the party, Dr. Patterson was waiting, in a rage. "Do you have any idea how late it is?"

"I'm sorry, sir. The party - "

"Don't give me any of your goddamn excuses, Cleary. Who the hell do you think you're fooling?"

"I'm not - "

"From now on, you keep your goddamned hands off my daughter, do you understand?"

"Father - "

"You keep out of this." He was screaming now. "Cleary, I want you to get the hell out of here and stay out."

"Sir, your daughter and I - "

"Jim - "

"Get up to your room."

"Sir - "

"If I ever see you around here again, I'll break every bone in your body."

Ashley had never seen him so furious. It had ended

with everyone yelling. When it was over, Jim was gone and Ashley was in tears.

I'm not going to let my father do this to me, Ashley thought, determinedly. He's trying to ruin my life. She sat on her bed for a long time. Jim is my future. I want to be with him. I don't belong here anymore. She rose and began to pack an overnight bag. Thirty minutes later, Ashley slipped out the back door and started toward Jim Cleary's home, a dozen blocks away. I'll stay with him tonight, and we'll take the morning train to Chicago. But as she got nearer to his house, Ashley thought. No. This is wrong. I don't want to spoil everything. I'll meet lam at the station.

And she turned and headed back home.

Ashley was up the rest of that night thinking about her life with Jim and how wonderful it was going to be. At 5:30, she picked up her suitcase and moved silently past the closed door of her father's bedroom. She crept out of the house and took a bus to the railroad station. When she reached the station, Jim had not arrived. She was early. The train was not due for another hour. Ashley sat on a bench eagerly waiting. She thought about her father awakening and finding her gone. He would be furious.

But I can't let him live my life. One day he'll really get to know Jim, and he'll see how lucky I am. 6:30... 6:40... 6:45... 6:50... There was still no sign of Jim. Ashley was beginning to panic. What could have happened? She decided to telephone him. There was no answer. 6:55...He'll be coming at any moment. She heard the train whistle in the distance, and she looked at her watch. 6:59. The train was pulling into the station. She rose to her feet and looked around frantically. Something terrible has happened to him. He's had an accident. He's in the hospital. A few minutes later, Ashley stood there watching the train to Chicago pull out of the station, taking all her dreams with it. She waited another half hour and tried to telephone Jim again. When there was still no answer, she slowly headed home, desolate.

At noon, Ashley and her father were on a plane to London....

She had attended a college in London for two years, and when Ashley decided she wanted to be involved in working with computers, she applied for the prestigious MEI Wang Scholarship for Women in Engineering at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She had been accepted, and three years later, she was recruited by the Global Computer Graphics Corporation.

In the beginning, Ashley had written half a dozen letters to Jim Cleary, but she had torn them all up. His actions and his silence had told her only too clearly how he felt about her.

Her father's voice jarred Ashley back to the present.

"You're a million miles away. What are you thinking about?"

Ashley studied her father across the table. "Nothing."

Dr. Patterson signaled the waiter, smiled at him genially and said, "We're ready to look at menus now."

It was only when Ashley was on her way back to the office that she remembered she had forgotten to congratulate her father on his cover of Time magazine.

When Ashley walked up to her desk, Dennis Tibble was waiting for her.

"I hear you had lunch with your father."

He's an eavesdropping little creep. He makes it his business to know everything that's going on here. "Yes, I did."

"That can't have been much fun." He lowered his voice. "Why don't you ever have lunch with me?"

"Dennis... I've told you before. I'm not interested."

He grinned. "You will be. Just wait"

There was something eerie about him, something scary. She wondered again whether he could be the one who... She shook her head. No. She had to forget about it, move on.

On her way home, Ashley stopped and parked her car in front of the Apple Tree Book House. Before she went in, she studied the reflection in the storefront mirror to see if there was anyone behind her whom she recognized. No one. She went inside the store.

A young male clerk walked up to her. "May I help you?"

"Yes. I -  Do you have a book on stalkers?"

He was looking at her strangely. "Stalkers?"

Ashley felt like an idiot. She said quickly, "Yes. I also want a book on - er - gardening and - and animals of Africa."

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