Tell Me Your Dreams
Someone was following her. She had read about stalkers, but they belonged in a different, violent world. She had no idea who it could be, who would want to harm her. She was trying desperately hard not to panic, but lately her sleep had been filled with unbearable nightmares, and she had awakened each morning with a feeling of impending doom. Perhaps it's all in my imagination, Ashley Patterson thought. I'm working too hard. I need a vacation.
She turned to study herself in her bedroom mirror. She was looking at the image of a woman in her late twenties, neatly dressed, with patrician features, a slim figure and intelligent, anxious brown eyes. There was a quiet elegance about her, a subtle attractiveness. Her dark hair fell softly to her shoulders. I hate my looks, Ashley thought. I'm too thin. I must start eating more. She walked into the kitchen and began to fix breakfast, forcing her mind to forget about the frightening thing that was happening, and concentrating on preparing a fluffy omelette. She turned on the coffeemaker and put a slice of bread in the toaster. Ten minutes later, everything was ready. Ashley placed the dishes on the table and sat down. She picked up a fork, stared at the food for a moment, then shook her head in despair. Fear had taken away her appetite.
This can't go on, she thought angrily. Whoever he is, I won't let him do this to me. I won't.
Ashley glanced at her watch. It was time to leave for work. She looked around the familiar apartment, as though seeking some kind of reassurance from it. It was an attractively furnished third-floor apartment on Via Camino Court, with a living room, bedroom and den, bathroom, kitchen and guest powder room. She had lived here in Cupertino, California, for three years. Until two weeks ago, Ashley had thought of it as a comfortable nest, a haven. Now it had turned into a fortress, a place where no one could get in to harm her. Ashley walked to the front door and examined the lock. I'll have a dead bolt put in, she thought. Tomorrow. She turned off all the lights, checked to make sure the door was firmly locked behind her and took the elevator to the basement garage.
The garage was deserted. Her car was twenty feet from the elevator. She looked around carefully, then ran to the car, slid inside and locked the doors, her heart pounding. She headed downtown, under a sky the color of malice, dark and foreboding. The weather report had said rain. But it's not going to rain, Ashley thought. The sun is going to come out. I'll make a deal with you, God. If it doesn't rain, it means that everything is all right, that I've been imagining things.
Ten minutes later, Ashley Patterson was driving through downtown Cupertino. She was still awed by the miracle of what this once sleepy little corner of Santa Clara Valley had become. Located fifty miles south of San Francisco, it was where the computer revolution had started, and it had been appropriately nicknamed Silicon Valley.
Ashley was employed at Global Computer Graphics Corporation, a successful, fast-growing young company with two hundred employees.
As Ashley turned the car onto Silverado Street, she had the uneasy feeling that he was behind her, following her. But who? And why? She looked into her rearview mirror. Everything seemed normal. Every instinct told her otherwise. Ahead of Ashley was the sprawling, modem-looking building that housed Global Computer Graphics. She turned into the parking lot, showed the guard her identification and