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 Thirteen

July 1999

Larkin City, Maine


AFTER JACK FLED LARKIN City, Jamie eventually recovered from his physical wounds but the mental anguish took longer to dissipate. Jack was the first love of his life, not easy to forget despite the violence that marked their relationship in the end. Jamie's first and only love affair to date was an unmitigated disaster, and he was in no hurry to become embroiled in another.

Instead, he devoted himself to work and family. Between the animal clinic and the no-kill shelter, he had little free time. When Désirée came to visit in July, he took his first days off in months. Rather than query him about what happened with Jack, she treated the encounter casually. She was just a friend, her intention to spend a few summer days with Jamie.

She was surprised when he brought up Jack anyway. They were lounging on the beach in chaise lounge chairs, drinking margaritas and watching Foofer run his nose along the sand. It was a humid and hot day, the sun shining brightly in the sky. The ocean rolled gently, white caps peaking underneath the surface.

"They found Jack's car," Jamie told her suddenly.

She glanced at Jamie in surprise. Dressed in a purple bikini, Désirée eschewed heavy makeup for the hot sun, knowing it would melt on her face. Instead, she wore large, rounded sunglasses and a floppy straw hat. "Who found Jack's car?" she asked.

"The police," Jamie replied. "It took awhile, but they traced his movements to Sherbrooke, Quebec where he sold his Corvette. The trail went cold after that, though."

"So he's probably somewhere in Canada," she noted. "It's a big country, and Jack's resourceful. God only know where he eventually landed."

Jamie glanced sideways at her. "I thought you'd want to know because of the Corvette. Do you think Tony wants it back?"

Désirée snorted, taking a sip of her margarita. "I doubt it. He doesn't have much time for tinkering with cars anymore." She returned Jamie's glance. "Jack must've been desperate to unload the Corvette, though. He loved that car."

"That's what I thought," Jamie agreed. "Oh well, he's long gone now. I doubt he'll ever surface again, not unless he wants to face prison time."

Anxious to change the subject, Désirée began rubbing suntan lotion on her arms. "Didn't you say Brose and Bridget were joining us?"

"Bridget has a catering job at LCU until late this afternoon, so she and Brose are coming for dinner. They're bringing steaks for the barbeque, and leftover potato salad."

"What about Angie?"

"She's in Massachusetts on a road trip," Jamie said. "She's doing a touristy piece for the Manhattan Daily Journal. She'll be back tomorrow, though."

"I really like Bridget," Désirée confessed. "She's so nice, and down-to-earth."

"Jack hated her."

Resigning herself to repeated mention of her despicable brother, she continued: "Why?"

"He thought she was ugly and coarse."

"What does Jack know?"  Désirée asked, loathing in her tone. "Bridget has to be one of the loveliest people I've ever met."

"I think so, too. Jack didn't like many people."

She sighed. "My brother doesn't like people he can't manipulate. That's why we didn't get along too well. I never let him take over."

"I guess he found me easy to manipulate then," Jamie noted quietly.

Désirée was immediately contrite. "I didn't mean anything by what I said, Jamie. You're not easy to manipulate. You just happened to fall in love with him, which made you vulnerable to his maneuvering. That could happen to anyone, gay or straight."

He smiled at her, and she was struck by how handsome he was yet again. "You're pretty wise for someone so young," he told her.

She shrugged, trying to brush aside the compliment. "That's what friends are for, Jamie. I don't care if Jack is my brother or not. What he did to you was unforgivable. I'm ashamed to call him kin."

"Maybe someday you'll forgive him."

"Not in this lifetime," she said strongly. "And you shouldn't, either."

He was quiet for a few minutes. "Thank you for being such a good friend," he finally said. "You'll never know how much I appreciate it."

Désirée tried to attempt humor. "At least there's one Sansovino you know you can count on."

"I'll never forget it."

She reached over and touched his arm, which rested brown and muscled on the chaise lounge. "And I'll never forget what a good friend you've been to me. You could have easily dismissed me as Jack's flighty sister, but you took me at face value and liked me anyway. Very few of my friends in Little Italy treat me like you do, with such respect and genuine kindness. You listen to what I have to say and never belittle me. Your friendship means a great deal to me, more so than my own family. I hope it stays that way always."

He squeezed her hand, a gentle light in his eyes. "Count on it."

BRIDGET WAS GLAD TO see Jamie in better spirits, fully crediting Désirée's visit with the positive change in him. He seemed relaxed and happy, no longer morose over the bad taste Jack Sansovino left behind. It was hard to imagine Désirée being related to Jack because of her sweet demeanor and rather outlandish appearance, which Bridget grew to realize was just part of her bubbly personality.

Like Brose, Bridget had grown fiercely protective of Jamie. He was like the brother she never had.

The foursome sat at the picnic table behind the A-frame cottage, full of barbequed steak and potato salad. For dessert, they enjoyed red wine and sliced cheese with green apples. Foofer lay under the table, gnawing with great concentration on a steak bone. Jamie poured sangria, handing Désirée the first goblet. She flashed him a smile, which was not lost on Bridget.

"How long are you staying in Larkin, Désirée?" she asked, popping an apple slice into her mouth. "One weekend doesn't seem long enough. Don't you get vacation time?"

"Working for my father doesn't give me much leeway," Désirée admitted. "I've been behind the deli counter at our restaurant since I was sixteen, and I don't remember ever taking a long vacation. I think Papa would have a stroke if I asked for a week off."

"That's too bad," Brose said with sympathy. "I know how you feel, though. I work right in my own back yard, so it's hard to get away from it."

Désirée agreed. "If I could get away for a long vacation, I'd like nothing better than to come to Larkin. This place is so beautiful."

"Maybe I can talk to your father for you," Jamie offered. "He has to let you go after all these years, doesn't he? Surely they can survive without you for two weeks."

"Now's probably not a good time," Désirée said softly. "Mamma and Papa are still upset about what happened with Jack. Even though he was in the wrong, Jack is still their son and they're touchy about me coming to Larkin at all."

Jamie understood her meaning. "You're probably right."

"But you're an adult," Brose pressed, ignoring Bridget's warning kick under the table. "You can make your own decisions. If you're unhappy, no one can stop you from picking up and leaving Little Italy."

Jamie laughed. "You still don't grasp the Italian family way, do you gravedigger?"

"Familismo," Désirée said. "Always familismo."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Brose asked, truly puzzled.

"It's the social structure of the Italian family," Désirée explained patiently. "In essence, the needs of the family as a whole are far more important than the needs of one family member."

"Oh," Brose said, going uncomfortably quiet.

Bridget spoke up. "Whatever the case, I wish you could spend more time in Larkin City."

"So do I," Désirée replied sadly. "Maybe someday."

It was on the tip of Bridget's tongue to offer Désirée a job at Harbor View Catering, but then thought better of it. Even though Désirée had years of experience working around food and was a perfect candidate, Bridget realized she had no real authority to hire or fire staff at HVC. She was sure she could persuade Dana to consider Jack's sister as part of the team, yet it might inflame an already wriggling can of worms.

She was happy to see the positive affect Désirée had on Jamie and wanted it to continue, but cautioned herself not to meddle.

THE NEXT DAY, JAMIE drove Désirée to the airport for her return flight home. He piled Foofer into his Datsun pickup, placing Désirée's luggage in the bed of the truck. The threesome squeezed into the front seat, Foofer in the middle. The dog filled the cab, panting and wagging his tail.

Jamie apologized. "Foofer would never forgive me if I left him home. Since I don't ascribe to putting animals in open flatbeds, I'm afraid you'll have to tolerate him."

Désirée laughed, blinking her eyes as Foofer's tail swished her way. "I don't mind, Jamie. I love Foofer. He's part of your family, one of the gang."

"I think he wants you to stay."

"I wish I could," Désirée said wistfully as they pulled away from the A-frame cottage.

"I know the family credo means a great deal to you, but Brose was right too."

"About what?"

"About you being able to make your own decisions."

Désirée glanced at him. "My family is in a vulnerable place right now. To be honest, I'd like nothing better than to leave Little Italy for good. If I don't, I'll end my days behind the deli counter. Great life, huh? For right now, I need to stand by my parents." She shook her head. "You wouldn't believe the shame of it all. It hasn't really hurt our business, but Mamma hates to show her face on Spring Street. Everyone knows Jack is wanted by the law for beating a man in Larkin City."

"Just so you know you're always welcome here," Jamie said firmly.

She smiled at him. "Our friendship is the one good thing about Jack's presence in your life."

"I agree, so don't be a stranger."

"Don't worry about that," she assured him. "We're friends for life."

And she meant it.



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.