Hearts Desires

Hearts Desires by Deidre Dalton is Book #6 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


Shannon's son Jamie Page begins to understand his lifelong yearnings but fears his family will never accept them. His first love affair with a nefarious character nearly costs his life, but brings to light his hidden desires. Happiness continues to elude the family, as if a dark shadow of evil has settled over the family estate.

From Chapter Ten

June 1998

Larkin City, Maine


A FEW MONTHS AFTER Brian Larkin's death, Shannon left the mansion and made her way to the family cemetery. Since her father's funeral, she had only visited his grave a few times. She placed flowers on Memorial Day, and on two other occasions she stopped by the marker to briefly pay her respects. Shannon thought nothing of strolling through the family cemetery almost every day before Brian's death, but knowing her father was now buried in its earth made her somehow uneasy about entering the hallowed ground.

Even now her purpose was not to visit Brian's grave, but rather to seek out her twin brother Sean. She knew he was working in the cemetery alone today, tidying growth near headstones and watering the many shrubs, espaliers and perennial borders. As she walked across the wide expanse of lawn she inhaled the mingled bouquets of flora, appreciating the beauty of her surroundings with every step.

It was a clear, sunny day with a slight breeze rolling in from the ocean. Owing to the continued efforts of Sean and Brose, the emerald green lawns were immaculate and the entire estate was abloom.

Aside from the rose garden next to the mansion, there were groupings of red, yellow and deep purple tulips, summer sunflowers, yellow and red chrysanthemums, peonies, hanging vines of grapes and gourds, flowering Narcissus plants, Cyclamen, lilies, Azaleas and flowering trees.

Closer to the house were various garden patches of edibles, including lettuce, spinach, radish, carrots, scallions, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplants, zucchini, okra, sugar snap peas, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkin, watermelon, green beans, red and white potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic and sunflowers. There were also two herb gardens behind the mansion nearest the kitchen, which contained allspice, anise, basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, ginger, mint, nutmeg, parsley, sage, tarragon and turmeric.

Shannon slowed her pace as she neared the entrance to the cemetery. The tall, wrought-iron gates were ajar so she stepped inside and followed the circular stone path that began on the left. She passed by the Lady Grace Chapel and the ornamental bean-sídhe water fountain before arriving at her father's gravesite.

She found Sean kneeling next to Brian's headstone, carefully clipping overlong grass and throwing it into a pile with other garden debris. Shannon took in her brother's worn blue jeans and white tee-shirt, his hair blowing slightly in the wind and his barest stubble of beard with specs of silver.

"Our father was a good man," Sean said, without looking up from his task.

There were several comments poised on the tip of her tongue, but she refrained from voicing them for fear of upsetting her brother. She had loved their father as well as Sean, but her view of him was tempered by Brian's innate self-involvement while alive and his sometimes glaring disregard for the feelings of others. What did it matter now, anyway? Brian Larkin was gone and should be remembered for his finer points rather than his shortcomings.

"Mum is packed and ready to leave," Shannon told her brother.

"I wish she'd stay," Sean grumbled as he came to his feet. "There's no need for her to go traipsing off."

"It's not as if she's taking a vacation," Shannon pointed out. "She's spending a week or so with Tom and Angie in New York, and then she's going on to Vermont to hire someone to look after her and Dad's house."

"She should sell the house in Goss Hollow and move to Larkin permanently," Sean replied bluntly.

"She probably will eventually," Shannon said, annoyed by her brother's tone and all that it implied. "Mum is a grown woman, Sean. She's perfectly capable of looking after herself. Her life doesn't need to revolve around us." She shook her head. "Just because Dad is gone doesn't mean Mum has to stop living. Her life can be about more than just you, me and her grandchildren, for God's sake. Cut her some slack. Give her breathing room or she'll avoid coming back to Larkin City altogether."

"Why would she want to travel without Dad in the first place?" Sean asked, recognizing the signs of his sister's indignation but stubbornly taking a stance anyway.

"You're pissed because Mum is moving forward," she accused. "You're madder than a hornet because Mum doesn't shrivel-up into a little ball and refuse to go on. Jaysus, Sean. If something were to happen to you, would you prefer Dana throw in the towel? Would you wish that kind of misery on anyone you profess to love?"

"That's not fair," he protested. "I'd never want Mum or Dana to be unhappy, or you for that matter."

"Men are such insipid little pantywaists," Shannon said scornfully. "You want women to mourn until their own dying day, without a further thought of happiness for themselves. You expect us to cater to your every whim while you walk upright, at the expense of our own contentment, and then want us to continue the misery after you're dead and gone. Men want to irreplaceable in the eyes of women, as if life isn't worth living without them. Yet in the next breath men claim to only want happiness for the women in their life . . ."

"You're such a spiteful bitch," Sean exclaimed crossly. "It's a wonder Scott has tolerated your mean spirit all these years."

The twins stood facing each other, both of them angry and hurt. Then, just as suddenly as it began, their argument ended as they started to laugh. It was mirth from collective relief, each one knowing the cause of their ruction was based on mutual angst over the loss of their father.

Sean and Shannon embraced. "You old goat," she muttered. "I don't know why I put up with you."

"For the same reason I tolerate your high-handedness," he quipped. "We can't escape each other. Twins, remember?"

They stood at Brian Larkin's grave for a few more minutes, and then began walking toward the mansion arm-in-arm.

"You're right about Mum," Sean admitted. "She needs her own life, not just one that's about us and our kids."

"She's a mature, vibrant woman who still has a lot of living left to do," Shannon remarked. "She loved our father deeply, but she's healthy and more than ready to live her life on her own terms."

"Which is the way it should be," he agreed.

She glanced at her brother. "Let's hope we both remember that when our time comes."



HEARTS DESIRES ©Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

"Hearts Desires" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "Hearts Desires" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.