The Keeper's Journal

The Keeper's Journal by Deidre Dalton is Book #5 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


Shannon Larkin is forced to confront demons from her past, while her daughter Angie discovers Colm Sullivan's journal in the old lighthouse keeper's cottage. The diary sheds light on the history between the Larkin and Sullivan families, but may be too late to stop the sisters of Mike Sullivan from wreaking vengeance on the Larkin's for sins and tragedies from the past.

From Chapter Four

July 1995

Manhattan & Larkin City, Maine


TOM CIMARELLI ARRIVED AT the offices of the Manhattan Daily Journal early on Thursday morning. He made coffee, and then entered his office. He yawned as he sat down in his large executive chair. He received a telephone call from Angie the previous afternoon. She told him excitedly that the story was on, and that her "sources" didn't mind if he became involved. Tom felt somewhat guilty when Angie informed him of the good news, but he stubbornly kept his little secret to himself. He did not want her to know he was aware of her family, or that he had an inkling of their wealth and influence.

He shuffled a stack of papers on his desk. His luggage for the trip was already in the trunk of his car. His flight was due to leave New York at one in the afternoon, arriving in Bangor at two-thirty. He was scheduled to take a small airplane from Bangor to Larkin City at three-fifteen. Tom smiled as he recalled his conversation with Angie from the day before.

"Why do I have to take the rickety job out of Bangor?" he asked her. "Didn't you rent a car in Bangor and then drive to Larkin?"

"Yes," she replied. "But I know the way to Larkin like the back of my hand, you don't. Besides, you won't appreciate the peaceful serenity of the area if you drive part of the way. You're used to the madness of New York. If you see Larkin from the sky, you'll get the picture."

"I'll have you know that I vacation in Arizona sometimes," he informed her.

"When? You never go on vacation!" They bantered for a few more minutes, and then Tom asked her pointedly: "So, what's your connection to the sources? You said we'll be staying with them."

Angie was quiet for a moment, and then responded: "I have to confess, the sources are my family. The woman in the story is my mother." She paused. "Larkin City is named after my great-great-great grandfather John Larkin, who founded the village in 1867. Before her marriage to my father, my Mum's name was Shannon Larkin."

Tom whistled. "Now I understand your frequent trips home. For awhile there, I thought you were involved in drug smuggling or something."

"Real funny, Cimarelli," Angie said dryly. "Just be on time, will you? I'll pick you up at the airport."

"So we are we staying with your family?"

"Yes. Mum is readying a special room for you on the second floor."

"Are you sure they have enough space for me?" Tom asked innocently.

Angie laughed. "Yes, I'm sure. You'll just have to wait and see, won't you?"

Tom came back to the present after remembering their conversation. He was looking forward to the trip, and working closely with Angie on her story. With an editor's sense, he knew it was going to be big. He gathered the data he collected from his previous trip to Larkin City, putting it in his brief case. He wondered how the situation would unfold. He was excited about the story, yes, but he was also intrigued by Angela Page.

"I'm thirty-five years old," he mused. "I'm no lecher, but I'm no innocent, either. I've never really had time to get involved with a woman on a serious basis, at least not with a woman like Angie." He mentally shook himself. He was being ridiculous, and he knew it. He had known Angie for six months. Not once in all that time had she ever given any indication she was interested in him other than on a professional basis. So he kept his distance, having respect for her endeavors as a budding journalist. "If I had more free time," he continued to think. "Maybe it would be different. At least this way we can work together. I know she's good, but it can't hurt to have someone older and wiser helping her along."

Tom grinned as he closed his brief case. He was anxious to get started. Not only on the sinister story of Shannon Larkin, but also unraveling the fascinating person that was Angela Maria Page.

TOM SEATED HIMSELF GINGERLY in the shell-blue twin-engine Cessna at the Bangor International Airport. There were only two other passengers besides him, a couple who appeared to be tourists. They were flying on to Wiscasset - "Wherever the hell that is," Tom thought grimly - after the stop in Larkin City. The pilot was a tall, bearded man who introduced himself as Seth Markham. He was bulky, easily loading the luggage onto the small plane. After he seated himself in the pilot's chair, he glanced back at Tom.

"You buckled in?"

Tom nodded. "Yes. How far to Larkin City?"

"Hop, skip and a jump," Seth replied, turning back to the controls of his plane. "Larkin is only fifteen minutes away by air. Relax. We'll be there before you know it."

Tom rolled his eyes, checking to make sure his seat belt was secure. Before long, the small plane was airborne. He gripped the arm rests of his seat as the plane leveled off. He didn't care much for small planes, they made him nervous. He decided to rent a car to get back to Bangor when the time came. "If Page could see me now," he smirked to himself. "She'd tease me unmercifully for a week. Come on, Cimarelli, get a grip."

He looked out the window of the plane. He had to admit the view was spectacular. Maine had plentiful pine trees. They dotted the landscape for as far as the eye could see. As the Cessna flew over a village, Tom noticed its New England quaintness, as if from a different age. Peaceful was the word Angie used. It was hard to believe he was heading into a family to record a story that would refute the beautiful tranquility. Larkin was much the same as the village he saw from the sky. Tom tried to envision the trauma and horror of Shannon Larkin's story as it unfolded twenty years ago amidst such utopia. It was difficult to imagine, but it was true. Angie was raised in the idyllic surroundings, which in part explained her confidence and ease of personality.

Tom settled back into his seat, starting to relax a little bit. He thought briefly for a moment on the first time he met Angie Page. It was the end of December 1994. He was looking for a new reporter for his paper, advertising locally for candidates. He accepted six applications, Angie's among them. According to her resume, she completed a four-year degree in journalism at Larkin City University. She worked on the local paper the entire time she went to school, and submitted four articles to the main paper in Bangor. Three of them were published, two of which were of local interest, while the third was about a transient who drifted through Larkin City riding the rails. Tom was impressed by her paper credentials, so he requested a formal interview.

Nothing could have prepared him for Angie's physical presence. She was young, but had a fire in her eyes Tom always looked for. She was composed during the interview, answering his questions calmly and intelligently, and even posed a few of her own about the policies of the Manhattan Daily Journal. When Tom asked her how she heard about the job opening, she replied easily: "My father takes a few of the New York papers. I just happened to see the ad, and it caught my interest."

On that particular day in December, Angie was wearing a pin-striped dress suit with knee-length black leather boots. Tom found her attire attractive as well as practical, as it had been snowing that day. Her hair was loose, but combed neatly off her face. The length reached her mid-back, curling slightly at the ends. She had olive-tinted skin, with beautiful, bright green eyes, like the eyes of a cat. She had long, black lashes to match her hair, and wore only light eye shadow and scant blush on her cheeks. Her nose was small, but her lips were full and pink. When she spoke to him, she looked directly into his eyes unflinchingly. She was forthright and not afraid to answer questions, which also impressed him.

With the combination of intelligence and strangely arresting looks, Tom hired Angela. He wasn't sorry, but found her difficult to get close to. She was keen to be seen as a professional, although she was friendly with the staff. She teased Tom on occasion as she became more comfortable with him, but there seemed to be a part of her she kept to herself, never letting anyone too close. That intrigued him, yet he had no idea how to go about penetrating her suggestive yet ever present barrier.

Tom came out of his reverie as Seth Markham shouted out: "Mr. Cimarelli?"


"We're about three minutes from Larkin," Seth announced. "You might want to get ready. I only stop there for a quick refueling."

"Okay," Tom shouted back above the plane's engine. "I'll be ready. Thanks."

"Here we go," Tom thought gleefully. "Angie can keep her distance in the office, but I'll bet she lets her hair down at home with her family. And I'll be there to observe."

He gripped the arm rests of his chair as Seth took the plane in a swift nosedive, toward its descent into Larkin City.

ANGIE WAS WAITING FOR Tom at the airport terminal in Larkin. She saw him first as he walked in from the tarmac. He was dressed casually in khaki pants and a light blue sports shirt. He was carrying one suitcase and a brief case. She was struck by how refreshed and handsome he looked in comfortable clothes. He appeared slightly suntanned - how she didn't know, he was always in the office - and his hair was combed back from his face, the slightly curly ends touching the collar of his shirt. With his darkened skin, the blue of his eyes seemed to leap from his face. "God, I never realized his eyes were so sky blue," Angie found herself thinking. "He's not half bad out of the office."

She rose from a chair in the waiting area, walking toward her boss. Finally, he noticed her. He lifted his hand and waved. She waved back and smiled. Within a few moments they met in front of the check-in desk.

Tom set down his suitcase, smiling at Angie and shaking her hand.

"How was the flight?" she asked him.

"You mean flights," he corrected her. "The one from New York to Bangor was a breeze. What do you call that little prop job from Bangor to Larkin? Deathwish Express?"

She laughed. "No boss, the company is called Ace Aviation. They don't normally stop in Larkin City, but Seth Markham will do the small detour on request."

Tom raised an eyebrow, looking askance at her. "So you know old Seth, do you?  He's kind of burly, looks like he could kill someone just for the hell of it?"

Angie laughed even harder, wiping a tear from her eye. "Good grief. I thought you were from Manhattan, the city of big crime? Seth is a gentle giant. He's been flying this area for years. I called and asked him to drop you in Larkin City before going on to Wiscasset."

"You know Seth personally?" Tom asked dubiously.

"Just about all my life. He's from Stockton Springs."

"Whatever," Tom said, shaking his head. He looked around the terminal. "This isn't so bad, small but nice. Is your car outside?"

"Yes. If we hurry, we'll make it back to the house for afternoon tea."

Tom picked up his suitcase. They started walking toward the front entrance of the airport terminal. "Page, are you serious?" He said as they walked along. "You're family has afternoon tea?"

"Naturally," she replied, glancing at him. "Every single day on the dot of four-thirty. It's a tradition that goes back to my great-grandmother, Colleen Larkin. It's a full blown tea service, too, so be prepared. Then, at six-thirty, we all meet again in the drawing room for drinks. That lasts about an hour or so, and then we have dinner in the dining room. I hope you brought some dress clothes, because we're expected to fancy-up for dinner."

"Don't worry, Page. I'll do my best not to embarrass you."

Tom and Angie left the terminal and walked into the parking lot. She led him to her rented Ford Taurus and opened the trunk. Tom slid his suitcase and brief case inside, and she shut the lid. They got into the car and she started the engine.

"How far to your house?" Tom asked her.

"Not far. Just relax and enjoy the view."

Once they left the parking lot of the airport, Angie turned onto a two-lane highway. A mile down the road a green sign indicated they were on Larkin Highway South.

"The road is named after your family, too?"

"Yes. Look, boss, I can't help it. My family founded the town, so a lot of things are named after them." She paused. "We haven't even gotten started yet. There's Larkin Lumber & Hardware, Larkin Mines, the Larkin Grocery & Mercantile . . . would you like me to go on?"

"God no," he retorted. "I'm sure I'll see it all before we're done here."

"We don't really have a big shopping mall or a business district," Angie informed him as she drove along. "But we have all the basics."

"Where's the beach?" Tom wondered.

She looked sheepish. "Sorry to say, the ocean views are primarily located on the Larkin property. You know, private. You'll have a great view of the Atlantic Ocean from your bedroom on the second floor."

"Where's your room?" he queried.

"On the third floor."

"Doesn't you mother trust us?" he asked teasingly.

She glanced in surprise at Tom. Was he actually flirting with her? He wasn't looking at her, but had a slight smile on his face. Her boss was testing her. She wasn't about to fall into that trap. She decided to play innocent.

"Trust us with what?" she finally said.

He cleared his throat. Playing it safe, he replied: "Why, with the fine china we'll be using for tea. I imagine it's quite valuable if it goes back to your great-grandmother's time."

"Oh it is," Angie said, aware he was diverting the subject. "Quite old, I mean. The whole house is quite . . . old.  You'll see. We're almost to the entrance of the Larkin estate. We still have about a mile to go, but you might want to pay attention to the landscape. It's all the doing of my Uncle Sean. He's made taking care of the grounds a full time job since he was sixteen."

"Uncle Sean?"

"My Mum's twin brother. He lives here, too, with his wife and kids. Don't worry, you'll meet all of them at tea."

Tom quieted as they turned onto a paved driveway. The entrance was flanked by large stone markings that appeared to be in the various shapes of pine trees. There was a big, silver mailbox to the right, with the address painted in green: 4807 Larkin Highway South. Angie pulled the car past the mailbox, and they began their slight ascent onto the grounds of the estate.

For once Tom was speechless. It was magnificent. As far as the eye could see was a trim, lush green lawn. Pine trees dotted the grass about fifty feet apart, with the odd lilac bush and fern scattered underneath. There were several outbuildings, some made of stone. Every so often they passed by stone-made benches off to the side of the road. Further along was a barbeque pit and water wheel, and a stream with a small red bridge. The foliage around the bridge was hedged in neatly-clipped Japanese Bonsai fashion, which included crepe myrtle, dwarf loblolly pines, lace-leaf maple, dwarf Hinoki cypress and filigree-leaf bamboo.

"You grew up here?" Tom asked, flabbergasted. "It's like a national park."

"I know, it's great," Angie agreed. "My brother and I spent many summers wandering the grounds, but we never got bored. We used to play in the lighthouse by the beach quite a bit, too, and in the family cemetery."

"The Larkin's have their own graveyard?" Tom was incredulous. It was more than he expected.

"Our founder John Larkin built the cemetery when his daughter Molly died in 1886. Since then, all the Larkin's have been buried there."

"I'm very impressed," he said. "I had no idea your family home was so extraordinary. What other word can describe this?"

"Home," Angie answered simply. As they came upon the A-frame cottage, she pointed it out to him. "My Mum and Dad built the cottage so they could have their own place. Jamie and I were raised there. My parents moved back into the big house in 1987, and now my brother Jamie lives in the cottage."

"The big house?"

"Surely you don't think we live in a shack amidst all this property?"

"Drive on, kid. Drive on."

Angie followed the steep incline of the driveway, where Tom could see what lay ahead of them. It was one of the biggest homes he had ever seen. The estate rested on a hill, surrounded by the beautiful green lawn and dozens of pine trees. The house was almost square in shape, definitely in the Tudor style, with red and gray-brick exteriors, dark green ivy and moss clinging to the outer walls and tall, wide windows which had black moldings outlining the panes. The driveway veered to the left, toward another group of buildings, which appeared to be garages. Angie turned slightly to the right, and they drove under a massive awning covered in ivy. They parked directly in front of the double front doors, which were made of dark wood and spanned at least ten feet each.

"We can get out here," Angie said. "I'll take the car down to the garages later. Let's get you settled in your room." She glanced at her wristwatch. "It's four o'clock now, so we have a half-hour before teatime."

Tom alighted from the car, still staring around him in wonder. Angie opened the trunk and waited for him. She smiled as she noticed his distraction, almost as if he were in awe. "Are you ready?" she asked him.

He started, looking back at her. "Sorry, but I just can't believe this place. It's truly amazing. I can hardly wait to see the inside."

"If you get your luggage, you can see it a lot sooner," she teased him.

He walked to the back of the car, reaching into the trunk for his suitcase. "Even at home you have a smart mouth," he quipped. "Is it a family trait?"

"You'll see soon enough."

They walked to the front doors. Under his breath, he muttered: "Where's the butler?"

But Angie heard him. "We don't have one," she said, reaching for the doorknobs. "No live-in staff either, as it's called these days. A group of maids come in once a week to give the inside a good going over, and my Uncle Sean and his son Brose take care of the grounds."

"Amazing," was all Tom could say.

She opened the front doors into the foyer of the mansion. They stepped inside, and she shut the doors. In the distance, they heard a slight rumble of thunder.

"We're always getting summer thunderstorms," Angie said as she led him into the foyer. "Summer storms in Larkin are spectacular, with the lightening, thunder and rain. If you really listen, sometimes you can hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore."

He stopped in the middle of the foyer. It was quiet and cool, all done in dark wood paneling. The wood had a high shine to it, as if tended carefully. A large, shiny oaken table rested in the center of the foyer. It contained a lamp, with etched glass ornaments. A telephone sat next to the lamp. Off to the left was a silver bowl, oblong in shape, which contained envelopes and a few small packages.

Angie followed his gaze. "That's where we get our mail," she said. "Uncle Sean collects it from the mailbox on the highway and puts it here."

Tom nodded, still soaking in the environment. A grand staircase led off the foyer to the right, winding up to a landing that contained a large picture window, with the same black moldings he saw from the outside of the house. To the left of the foyer table was a closed door, which was about half the size of the front doors.

"Where does that door go?" he wanted to know.

"The kitchen," she replied. "One of the laundry rooms is through there, too. The back doors are off the kitchen."

Sweeping a large left of the foyer were three separate sets of double doors, spaced at least thirty five feet apart. "What about those doors?" Tom asked.

She pointed to the first one. "That's the dining room, which also leads through to the kitchen around back. The second door is the drawing room, and the third is the living room. There's also a small study leading off the living room." She glanced at him. "You can take the tour later. We need to get you upstairs so you can get ready for tea. Come on, we don't have much time."

Tom followed her up the large main staircase, which was carpeted in dark blue and brown fabric, hardwood showing off to the sides. At the landing, they made a left and walked straight into what Angie called the first floor. They passed several closed doors to the left and right, some of which included double doors.

"These are all bedrooms and bathrooms," she told him. "My grandparents have a room on this level when they come to visit. Otherwise, this floor is pretty deserted most of the time."

They continued on for quite a length, finally coming to another set of carpeted stairs, although not as large as the main staircase. They climbed perhaps twenty stairs, and then came onto another landing. Angie stopped at a set of double doors. "Well," she said. "This is your room for as long as you stay. I'm going to leave you here, because I have to get ready for tea, too. Just make yourself at home. I'll be back for you in about twenty minutes."

"Please do," Tom said dryly. "I doubt if I could find my way back down again."

"I shall return," she promised, smiling at him. Then she hurried along the corridor toward another staircase, which Tom assumed went to the third floor of the mansion.

He looked at the double doors in front of him. They were made of pine, inlaid with a mahogany design. He reached out and opened the doors, stepping into the room. He paused and set down his luggage.

The walls were of dark wood paneling. The ceiling was high with dark wood beams, giving the room a light, airy spacious feeling. The wood in between the beams was painted off white, contrasting with the darkness of the walls. There was a high, four-poster king-sized bed to the right side of the room, with a dark blue bedspread and matching bed tables. There were four large windows in the room, all with black molding, sided by beige and dark brown draperies. A tall wood cabinet built into one of the walls faced the bed with a big-screen television. Two easy chairs were under one of the windows, with a table in between. On the table was a telephone and a vase filled with fresh red roses, at least a dozen of them.

Tom set his luggage on the bed. As he opened his suitcase and searched for a pair of dress slacks, he continued to glance around the room. There was a small loft overhead, with another window above it. The window was round, like the porthole of a clipper ship, with two chairs underneath. French doors led out onto a balcony that contained two wrought iron chairs. At that moment, thunder rumbled and a streak of lightening blazed through the murky sky. He moved to the French doors to look out as he shrugged into a dark green dress shirt and fastened a maroon tie.

He returned to his suitcase, pulling on dark green dress pants and shoes. Grabbing a comb out of his toilet kit, he looked around for the bathroom. He noticed another door at the far end of the room. He went inside.

Another wonder awaited him. The bathroom floor was of light gray marble, with a long sink area. In the corner of the room was a glassed-in shower with a whirlpool next to it. The glass surrounding the shower was made of a discreet smoky glass, and dark blue towels hung neatly on racks by the sink.

He whistled as he stepped to the mirror to comb his hair. He had to admit he was overawed by Angie's family home, but kept himself in check. He did not want her parents to think he was some ingénue who never been anywhere past New York before.

Stepping away from the mirror, he decided to play it cool and take it easy. Not only was he on the track of a great story, he was about to delve into the mysterious personality and life of Angie Page. All he needed to do was relax and enjoy it.

Grinning, Tom made his way back to the bedroom to wait for Angie.


THE KEEPER'S JOURNAL ©Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

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