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 Twenty

August 1995

Larkin City, Maine


CARLY SAT AT HER desk early Monday morning, sipping hot herbal tea out of her favorite mug, which was white with a pretty pink floral design. She used her computer mouse to click on her email messages. She deleted the junk mail, but one message heading caught her eye. It was dated early that same morning. She read the subject line with some interest:


Curious, she opened the message. It was brief, but the words put a cold fear into the pit of her stomach:

I know who are you are, and I know what you've done.

Carly stared at the message for a long time. Then she deleted it. Someone was playing a trick on her, and she didn't find it the least amusing. The words hit too close to her conscience, but she was not about to start pondering her bad moments now. She had no enemies to speak of, not counting her husband's rather cold family.

Then she thought about Jack Sansovino, her catering sous chef. Five years ago she drank too much at the staff Christmas party, somehow ending up in Jack's apartment. What happened from there was still a mystery to her, although she recalled waking disorientated and bruised in her Camry in the middle of the night. Not quite sure what actually transpired, Carly never confronted Jack about the evening. She couldn't remember details, so she never fired him, either. He was still in her employ, polite when spoken to, yet she remained vaguely uncomfortable in his presence. Jack was a superb chef, so her business sense wouldn't allow her to dismiss him. She didn't have just cause, and she knew it.

Could Jack possibly be the email perpetrator, playing tricks on her? She didn't think so. She had a strong feeling Jack wasn't the type to be bothered with computer shenanigans, despite her misgivings about him.

Dimming her computer screen, Carly left the office. She lunched at the small French restaurant called Pepe's Café inside Brickyard Square, ordering salmon mouse and lobster salad. She drank sparingly from a glass of wine, and was back to work by one-thirty. Retreating to her office, she sat at the desk and lightened her computer screen to check for messages. There was only one, sent at 12:30 p.m. It was from GUESS WHO??!! again. Annoyed, she clicked open the message and read the few lines:

Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. Your secret is safe with me for the time being. Have a nice evening with your family.

A grim expression on her face, Carly deleted the message. Intent on busying herself with paperwork, she reached into her top desk drawer and removed several handwritten orders for the following week. She would simply work away the rest of her day, and not check her messages again.

Clouds began gathering late in the afternoon. Carly paused in her work to gaze out the window and was surprised to see the willow trees swaying in the wind. The clouds overhead darkened Main Street, and several street lamps went on automatically. Checking the time on her computer, she saw it was four o'clock. If she left now, she could probably arrive at the mansion before it rained. After she entered one more catering order, she reached for the mouse to click out of the vendor software program but then paused. Should she check her messages one more time? If she didn't, she might miss an opportunity for more business. She went to her email messages and was dismayed to see only one. It was from GUESS WHO??!! yet again. She contemplated deleting it without reading it, but her curiosity got the better of her and she clicked on the single message:

Done for the day, are you? Kept busy, did you? I'll bet not as busy as you were the other night in the graveyard. I'm sure it was hard work, physically that is. Well, like I said, your secret is safe with me for now. Have a wonderful evening, and make sure to give your daughter a hug. Until tomorrow.

Carly was still. Someone knew what she'd done, and they were letting her know about it. A tight fear gripped her insides. She racked her brain for clues as to the identity of the message sender. No one saw her that night, not even after she returned to the mansion and went to bed. She was sure of it. Then who was sending her messages? She quickly deleted the third message of the day. Leaning back in her chair, she stared at the computer screen as if it was a dire enemy, and then her thoughts became clear:

"Whoever is doing this, wants something. They are just trying to scare me - and doing a good job of it, I might add. They'll eventually tell me what they want. I'll have to wait and remain calm. No sense in panicking, because no one on this earth knows what I've been up to. I've seen to that." Shutting her computer off, Carly stood from the desk and grabbed her purse. She wanted to beat the storm to the mansion. Besides, she'd had enough of the quirky messages for one day. She could wait out the sender for a long time, because she was patient when she needed to be, when it counted.

Walking downstairs, Carly told her receptionist Julie Rooney she was leaving for the day. Then she left the building, stepping out into Brickyard Square. It was already starting to drizzle, so she put her purse across the top of her head, dashing for her car parked on the street. A clap of thunder boomed at that moment, startling her. Reaching the car, she unlocked it and slipped inside, out of the wet and wind. She started the engine and pulled away from the curb.

A man walked out of the court and stood on the sidewalk, watching Carly drive off toward the direction of Larkin Highway, and the mansion. There was a smile on his face as he stuck his hands in his jacket pocket and started whistling. He turned on his heel, walking along the sidewalk, to the lumber yard a few blocks away.

THAT EVENING, CARLY WAS quieter than usual, but of course no one noticed. At the dinner table, she saw Liam drinking more than he was eating, and concern gnawed at her. She was afraid if he drank too much he would try and have sex with her, and she wasn't in the mood tonight. Her admiration of his body a few days ago seemed like a distant memory now. Her nerves were stretched tight. She had no desire to fight off his drunken advances in the privacy of their bedroom. Liam's awareness of her watching him probably added fuel to the fire, but she was determined to stay calm tonight, to get her rest. The computer messages she received at work were bothering her more than she cared to admit, and she felt a violent headache coming on, despite the wonderful food and elegant wine.

Right after the conclusion of dinner, Carly beat a hasty retreat upstairs. She had barely kicked off her shoes when she heard the sitting room door open and close.

It was Liam. She could tell he was a bit tipsy as he strolled casually into the bedroom. He came up behind Carly as she sat in a chair, reaching down to touch her shoulders. She closed her eyes, her head pounding worse than ever. Her dread of confronting her husband was becoming a distinct possibility now.

"What is it, Liam?" she asked, without opening her eyes.

He bent over and touched his mouth to her ear. "I thought you might be in the mood."

She opened one eye and craned her neck to look up at him. "In the mood for what?"

Liam stood straight again, a smirk on his face. "For what you once gave my Daddy. Come on, Carly, you know you want to. I saw you looking at me the other day in your mirror."

The reference to Liam's father outraged Carly. She jumped up from the chair, whirling around to face him. Her teeth were clenched as she said to him: "Either you leave the room, or I will. I'm not sleeping with you tonight."

Liam took a step toward her, but the chair was in his way. He glared down at the chair, and then looked at her again, his words slurred: "What's the matter, dear wife? Did you have a hard day at the office?"

"As a matter of fact, I did," she spat. "I wouldn't expect you to understand it. You've never taken my work seriously."

He snorted. "The hell I haven't. I paid for the building you're in, and I helped you start your business. I just want a little payback now, that's all." He grinned at her. She curled her lips in disgust.

"If it's payback you want, I'll give you the money. My business has done quite well, thanks to you," she was quick to add. Stepping back a pace, she continued strongly: "But I will not sleep with you. You're drunk. I watched you at dinner. All you did was guzzle wine, you didn't eat a thing. I'm tired of you coming to me when you're shit-faced."

Liam gasped, mockingly putting his hand to his face. "The great lady has uses foul language. May the earth stand still as I speak!" He grinned again. "So, you were looking at me during dinner, huh? Like what you see, do you? Come on, Carly, give it over. You like me in bed, and you know it. You can't fool me."

She quickly put space between her and Liam by walking toward the bed. She stopped, and then turned to him. He stood by the chair, watching her. "Please leave," she pleaded. "I have an awful headache, and all I want to do is go to bed and sleep. Please, Liam."

"Please Liam, please Liam," he mimicked her, coming toward the bed now. "A good fuck will get rid of your headache."

Carly flushed a deep red, angered by his crudity. "Leave right now," she fairly shouted. "Damnit, I mean it. I will not sleep with a drunken idiot."

"Drunken idiot?" Liam repeated, his eyebrows wagging. "I'll show you a drunken idiot, and you'll be better off for it." He made a lunge from his side of the bed, his intention to grab her by the arms, but she stepped back quickly. He tumbled face-down on the bed, unmoving for a moment. Then he started to laugh, the sound muffled by the comforter. She watched him warily, unsure what to do. Then he rolled over on his back, still laughing. He looked over at her, and laughed harder when he saw how apprehensive she was, standing next to one of the bed posts. His words were garbled as he spoke and laughed at the same time. "Go on, then, you stupid bitch. I don't need you. I can get it any time I want, but I don't need it from the likes of you."

Carly backed further away, disconcerted by his laughter. Then she went to the closet and grabbed her nightclothes from a hanger, slamming the closet door loudly. All she wanted was peace and quiet tonight. Leave it to Liam to pull one of his drunken stunts, which seemed to be more frequent lately. She walked back to the bed, where Liam was still laying on his back, his eyes open and watching her, a lopsided grin on his face.

She looked down at him contemptuously. "You had a good thing once and you ruined it," she said coldly. "All you had to do was pay a little attention to me, Liam, and I wouldn't have strayed on you. The fact that you place yourself, and your entire family, above our marriage is unforgivable."

He looked at her from the bed, his fading grin replaced with an expression of disgust. "You're the one who ruined a good thing," he said, his voice now oddly devoid of slurs. "I treated you like a queen. You threw it back in my face and took advantage. That is unforgivable." He propped himself on his elbows, glaring at her. "Go on then, go and slink off to another room. Enjoy your peace and your sleep while you can. I don't know how you can stand yourself."

"The thing I can't stand is you," she said coldly. She turned away and left the room, shutting the outer door with a loud noise.

Liam remained where he was, a slight smile returning to his face.


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.