The Twilight

The Twilight by Deidre Dalton is Book #7 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


Shannon Larkin and Scott Page are happy in their long marriage, but a tragic loss forces her to delve into the past in order to face some ugly truths about her husband. Devastated, she retreats into her own solitary world. A stranger brings her out of self-imposed exile and shows her the beauty of unconditional love exists after all.

From Chapter Three

June 2002

Larkin City, Maine


EVERY SATURDAY, JAMIE BOUGHT lunch for staff and volunteers working at the Animal Life Centre. He felt it was the least he could do, especially for the volunteers who donated their time on weekends to caring for the various residents of the shelter. His kindness was just one more reason for Désirée to admire and fall deeper in love with her husband.

She helped Jamie at the shelter on weekends, and often made the lunch run. The midday meal was a democratic selection process, whereby Jamie allowed staff and volunteers to choose what they wanted for lunch. Some days it was pizza, others it was Chinese takeout or burgers and fries. Majority ruled one Saturday in early June, so Désirée piled into Jamie's Datsun and drove into Larkin to pick up a large order of fish and chips from Bruno's Café on Main Street.

The weather was warm and sunny, bringing residents out in force. Next to city hall and the courthouse, Colleen Larkin Memorial Park was full of joggers, picnickers and dog-walkers. People strolled the boardwalk on Main Street, window shopping or dining in one of the many restaurants.

Désirée had trouble finding a parking spot in front of Bruno's, so she drove a few doors down and pulled in front of Larkin Mines. She left the Datsun unlocked after she alighted, still amazed such a thing was possible. She would never dream of leaving a door unlocked back in Little Italy, but Larkin was different. Life went along at a much slower and safer pace in the harbor town, almost as if it existed in an alternate realm from the rest of the world.

She walked the short distance to Bruno's and entered the café. The eatery was packed with the typical lunch crowd, but Berty waited at the counter with several large takeout bags.

Désirée flashed a smile at the waitress. They had been on friendly terms since first meeting five years ago. It was during Désirée's first impromptu visit to Larkin City that she wandered into Bruno's, trying to find out where Jamie lived. She wanted to surprise Jamie and her brother Jack with a visit, which was the story she told Berty at the time, but in reality Désirée was already in love with Jamie. Aside from being the long-time senior waitress at Bruno's, Berty was well-known as the fount of local information and gossip. Désirée liked her anyway.

Berty's eyes widened as she regarded Désirée. "What in blue blazes happened to you?"

Désirée laughed, looking down at herself. The white shorts and pink tank top she wore while working at the shelter were damp and soiled, and her bare feet were streaked with dirt as they rested in pink flip-flops. Worse, her usually coiffed bump hairdo was flat and stringy, the long tendrils curly and wet.

"I've been hosing down kennels all morning," Désirée replied. "That's my job on Saturdays, cleaning out dog runs and washing the food bowls."

Berty shook her head. "I can think of many other things I'd rather do."

"Me, too, but I like helping Jamie at the shelter." Désirée plunked her large purse on the counter. "I know it sounds funny, but I think the dogs enjoy having their kennels cleaned. It's like they can tell the difference."

Berty pushed the takeout bags toward her. "That's twelve orders of fish and chips, with extra tartar sauce and a bowl of clam chowder for Jamie."

"How much do I owe you?"

"Forty-one dollars and seven cents."

Désirée counted the cash from her purse, giving Berty an extra five dollars as a tip. She was just about to gather the takeout bags and leave when she noticed two young women sitting at the counter. They were looking at her and leaning their heads together, whispering.

She felt a stab of annoyance. Whether in Little Italy or Larkin City, some things never changed. Larkin might be a haven of peaceful tranquility, but it was still full of cliques and vicious-minded women who liked to pass uninformed judgment on their female counterparts. It irked Désirée, especially since deep down she felt women should stick together and not attack each other over trifles. It was one of the many traits she shared with her mother-in-law Shannon, who detested petty jealousies and had very few female friends as a result. Blatant or subtle public displays of small-minded behavior often provoked Désirée to unapologetic outbursts of temper.

"Don't the two of you have anything better to do?" she snapped at the young women, her eyes flashing with anger. "If you're bored, I have a suggestion. Why not take your fat asses over to the animal shelter and volunteer your time? It beats holding court over the rest of us when you know damn well your shit stinks just like everyone else's."

Berty snickered as the two women got up from the counter abruptly and hurried from the cafe, red-faced with embarrassment.

Désirée retrieved the takeout bags from the counter, annoyance still written on her face. "There's nothing worse than having a great day and then running into such bitchy assholes like those two. Is it any wonder my best friend is my mother-in-law?"

Berty grinned. "You can't go wrong with Shannon, anyway. She'd never dream of behaving like those two local gits."

"Have a nice day, Berty. I'll see you next time."

"Righto, dear."

Désirée made her way to the Datsun parked in front of Larkin Mines, her arms laden with takeout bags and her purse. She had just set the food inside the cab when she noticed the front door of the mining office open. Thinking it might be her father-in-law Scott, she turned to greet him but was instead surprised to see a woman emerge onto the boardwalk.

Looking left to right, the woman paid no heed to Désirée before walking in the direction of Bruno's Café. Désirée stared, a sense of recognition assailing her. Where had she seen the woman before? Then it dawned on her. The first time she met Scott Page at his office, he was speaking with a woman in the reception area. That same woman was now walking towards the café, head down. There was no mistaking it was the same person, Désirée felt. She was older, perhaps in her forties, with short, blonde hair and long, skinny legs.

Désirée glanced towards the mining office, fully expecting to see Scott emerge. When he didn't, she got into the Datsun and started the engine. Maybe the woman worked for Scott, Désirée reasoned, but she didn't recall ever seeing her at company Christmas parties or during Larkin Fair Days at the beach. Désirée's imagination and curiosity went into overdrive. Who was she, and why was she visiting Scott?

"It's really none of my business," Désirée thought to herself. "I'm acting just like the local busybodies, and I won't have that."

Without another thought to her father-in-law, she pulled out onto Main Street to return to the animal shelter.



THE TWILIGHT ©Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

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