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 Four


October 2002

Larkin City, Maine


IT WAS RAINING IN earnest by the time Shannon reached Larkin City. The lunch traffic had dwindled somewhat, but she still had to wait through three traffic lights before finally parking in front of Larkin Mines on Main Street. She glanced at the large picture window of the office, noticing the lights were on inside as normal.

Alighting from her car, she stepped onto the sidewalk and smiled in greeting to several people hurrying by under their umbrellas. Because her family founded Larkin City more than a century earlier, most of the community knew her and other members of the family on sight. There was also the added notoriety of Angie's best-selling novel Unrequited Love in Maine, which seemed to fill locals with a strange pride. Shannon didn't always remember the names of Larkin City's citizens, but did try to be friendly whenever she went out in public.

"You look lovely today, Mrs. Page," said Claudia Millicent as she paused on the sidewalk, carefully holding her umbrella aloft. Shannon recognized the woman with some relief, knowing her from the bank.

"Thank you, Claudia," Shannon replied. "How have you been?"

As the woman continued to talk, Shannon let her eyes wander to the mining office window again. Where was Scott? She was uncharacteristically late, and she assumed he was waiting for her - watching from the window, pacing back and forth.

Shannon touched Claudia Millicent on the shoulder. "It was nice seeing you, Claudia," she said politely. "I'm dreadfully late. I was supposed to meet Scott for lunch at one o'clock, but I was detained at the mansion. He's probably worried sick."

Claudia smiled. "You mustn't keep your husband waiting, dear. Give Scott my best."

Shannon ducked into the mining office, closing the door behind her. "Scott?" she called out. "Darling, are you here?"

There was no reply. The silence was deafening to her ears. She set her purse on the floor, and flung her coat onto a chair in the reception area. The office had not changed much over the years, and in fact looked much the same as when she worked there thirty-two years ago. Before she and Scott were married, before the birth of their children.

She stood in the middle of the reception area for a moment. The silence stretched her nerves like elastic, threatening to snap.

"Scott?" Shannon called out again. "Scott, where are you?"


She was vaguely aware of the muffled sounds coming from Main Street as she walked toward Scott's open office door. His office was off the reception area, built out from the corner of the building so it was not viewable unless one was looking in from the doorway.

It was her father's old office. When Brian Larkin retired years before his death, Scott had taken over the mining company. He did quite well, establishing surveys and ore bodies in the United States as well as South America, Ireland and other parts of Europe. Shannon took a great deal of pride in her husband and his accomplishments.

She stopped short before reaching the office door. She could hear the faint purring sounds of Scott's computer, and the methodical ticking of his nautical wall clock. But where was he?

She stood rooted to the spot. What was she waiting for?

Biting her lower lip, she moved forward. She stopped again, this time framed in the doorway of her husband's office.

Scott was there, at his desk. His hands were to the sides of the computer keyboard, his head on the desk, as if he had just settled down for a nap.

"Scott never naps at his desk," Shannon scoffed aloud.

Her feet felt like lead, but she walked toward the desk with measured steps. She cut a wide path until she came up behind Scott's chair, where her eyes lighted on the computer screen. On the desk, Scott's head was turned in the opposite direction so she couldn't see his face.

Shannon stared at the computer screen, scarcely breathing:

I love you the most, kitten. See you soon.

It was his reply to her earlier message, but he never sent it. She reached out and touched his shoulder. "Scott, it's me. Darling, wake up."


She stood there for another minute, her eyes still on the computer screen, almost as if she were afraid to look at anything else in the room. She felt the fabric of Scott's cotton shirt as her hand rested on his shoulder. She remembered watching him dress that morning in their bedroom at the mansion. After taking a quick shower, he donned faded blue jeans and a white cotton polo shirt.

"No dress-up today?" Shannon teased him. He usually wore dress slacks to the office.

"Peg has the day off," Scott told her, naming his part-time secretary. "I have no appointments, so why bother dressing up?"

Shannon came back from her morning memory, averting her eyes from the computer screen and looking at the back of Scott's head. She could still smell the fresh scent of his hair shampoo and after-shave.

Tears started to well-up in her eyes. She shook Scott's shoulder with her hand. "Come on, darling, wake up. I'm starved." She shook him again. She heard rather than saw him slump to the floor, which sent the chair skewing to the opposite side of the desk. It happened so fast, almost like a blur.

She looked down at her husband in suspended alarm. He laid on his side now, his head looking forward and facing her. His eyes were open and staring, but there was no life there. She dropped to her knees, bringing her face close to him. His mouth was slightly open, and she saw a slight trickle of blood at one corner. She took his face in her hands, looking him over closely, noticing more blood seeping from his ears.

"No, no, no," Shannon whispered. She set his head down gently, the carpet scraping her knuckles. She wrapped her fingers around one of his wrists, feeling for a pulse. After a moment in suspended expectation, her stomach sank when she realized there was nothing.

She laid her head on his chest, hoping for the sound of his loving, beating heart. Nothing.

"Talk to me," she pleaded softly. She felt hot tears squeezing from under her eyelids, and the accumulation of salty saliva forming a sticky sheen on her lips. "Can't you hear me?" She shook him gently. "We're supposed to grow old together, remember? Just you and me. We're going to spend our summer nights on the porch at the keeper's cottage, watching the ocean."

She grabbed one of his limp hands, holding it against her wet cheek. "We didn't have enough time," she said, the increasing violence of her sobs forcing her to take great gulps of air. "Not nearly long enough. Please Scott, touch me. Say my name."

She raised her head to look at his face. "Please God," she moaned. "Give Scott back to me. If it can't be forever, let me have long enough to say goodbye. I need to hear his voice. Please, just one more time."

She forced herself to sit up, looking down at her husband again. She reached out and touched his eyes, bringing them to a close with her fingertips. He seemed so peaceful. There was no pain written on his face, no fear of the unknown, no revelation of his last minute on earth.

Bending over from her crouched position, Shannon kissed him on the lips. "I'll call for help," she sobbed against him.

She reached out and grabbed the corner of the desk to help her up. Wiping her nose on her forearm, she took the telephone receiver. As she punched the numbers on the keypad, she felt wet stickiness on her fingers.

Sean answered the telephone at the mansion. "Larkin House."

"Sean?" She gasped. "Scott needs help. We're at the mining office. He won't move. I came in and he was slumped on the desk. I thought he was asleep, but his eyes were open. When I touched his eyes, they closed. I don't know what to do . . ."

"Shan, I'm calling an ambulance," Sean told her. "Stay where you are. I'm on my way."

"Please hurry," she cried. "My husband needs help."

She dropped the telephone, hearing it clatter on Scott's desk. She stared at the computer screen again, her eyes burning as she read Scott's brief message to her. Sniffling loudly, with desperate moans of grief forming in her throat, she leaned forward and pushed the "send" button, propelling the e-mail to her address at the mansion.

"His last message," she whispered, her voice breaking

SHANNON STOOD IN THE doorway of the drawing room, her form in such a state of immobility that human breathing seemed illusory. Her hair fell to her waist, unkempt. Her bare feet were numb to the cold touch of the floor. Her black robe was unfastened, under which she wore one of Scott's old tee-shirts.

The mantle clock struck three o'clock, shaking Shannon from her dreamlike state. She reached up and tucked a length of hair behind her ear, moistening her lips. Her mouth felt dry, but she sensed the bitter aftertaste of the brandy she consumed only hours before.

She stared at the dark oak casket in the center of the drawing room. Settees, chairs and tables had been set to the sides of the room to accommodate the coffin for viewing. One light burned overhead, casting a shadow on the shiny oak of the casket. It was closed now, of course, as everyone had long-since dispersed.

Friends, colleagues and members of the Larkin family attended the viewing the night before, including Mario and Adelina Sansovino and Vito Cimarelli, who arrived together from Larkin Airport. The mansion was full of people. Shannon remembered shaking hands, murmuring appreciation to offers of condolence. All the while, she kept her unswerving eyes on her husband as he lay in repose. Jamie and Angie stood on either side of her with Tom and Désirée, subtly holding her arms. She knew without their support she would have fallen to the ground. As it was, she wanted to shout to all of the people present: "My husband is not dead. This is some sort of grisly nightmare, but it will soon end."

As the coldness of the room permeated her black robe, Shannon walked slowly to the casket, placing her hands on top. The words from Scott's doctor repeated in her ears, sounding trite and hollow as she recalled them:

"Scott suffered a massive heart attack and his brain also hemorrhaged. He was a healthy man, Shannon. His last physical six months ago was very nearly perfect. However, there was a serious blockage in one of the arteries of his heart that never manifested itself with symptoms. He may have felt slightly ill just before the attack, but when it came death was almost instantaneous. There was nothing anyone could have done to save him."

She smoothed her hands over the coffin. Scott was alone in there, and she could not bear the thought of it. He must be so cold, so irritated by the confinement. Being the man he was, Scott would be brave and tough it through with no complaints. But she wanted him back. She wanted him beside her in their bed, holding her and making her feel safe. She needed to hear his voice, to hear him call her "kitten."

Choking back a sob, she opened the coffin. The overhead light illuminated Scott's face, so peaceful in sleep. His hands rested across his chest, his wedding ring intact. He was dressed in his favorite clothes: a pair of indigo corduroys and a silky blue shirt with a brown short-vest.

She touched a tendril of his hair at the temple, running her finger down his sideburn and lower jaw. "You are so beautiful to me," she said softly. "I remember the first time I laid eyes on you as if it were yesterday, waiting for me at the Larkin Airport. You were a damned grouch, but I noticed your sideburns and black hair." She stroked his mouth. "If only you could open your eyes and smile at me."

She leaned over and kissed her husband on the mouth. She raised herself again, standing over him and staring at his face, almost as if she was waiting for him to awaken. She wanted to climb into the coffin with him, to keep him warm and hold him close to her.

She was not sure how long she had been standing there when her brother Sean spoke from the doorway:

"Shan, are you okay?"

She did not turn around.


"I want him back," she said simply.

Sean came to her, putting his arms around her shoulders. "I know you do, sis," he said in a low tone. "So do I."

She wiped a tear from her eye. "How did you know I was down here?"

"I came to check on you in your bedroom, and you were gone. I knew you'd be here."

Her voice began to crack as she spoke. "You are forever looking after me. Do you remember? . . ." She paused, trying to steady her voice by taking a deep breath. "When Scott first came here years ago, you were so protective over me. Remember? You had a man-to-man with Scott, asking him what his intentions were toward me."

Sean nodded. "I remember. Scott was a good man, sis. He loved you more than anything. You were his life."

"But where did the time go?" She asked in bewilderment, turning to face her brother. "We didn't have enough of it. His life was snatched away too soon. We weren't finished."

Sean saw the naked pain on his sister's face. He wanted so much to make it better for her, but there was nothing he could do this time. He also mourned Scott. He loved the man like a brother, admired and respected him beyond measure.

"You heard the doctor," Sean reminded her gently. "There was nothing anyone could have done."

"That's the hell of it," Shannon said shakily, turning back around to look at her husband again. "If only there had been warning signs, the doctor could have fixed it. We could have grown old together then, and completed our lives as they were meant to be."

Sean listened to her, not knowing what to say.

"I realize everyone is devastated," she whispered, her voice ragged. "Angie is beside herself, and I don't think Jamie will ever get over the loss of his father. Yet I don't have room for anyone else's grief but my own right now. It might make me a terrible mother, daughter, sister, cousin or aunt, but I don't care. With Scott gone, my life is essentially over."

Sean reached for her but she shrugged him away.

"Please let me finish," she pleaded. "Don't worry. I'm not going to kill myself. Scott would be damned furious if I did that, anyway, and refuse to speak to me again. No, I'll continue to live and maybe even grow very old, but my life means absolutely nothing anymore. Not without him."

"I understand," he said simply.

Shannon bowed her head, the tears coming freely now. "He was my life, my breath, my mind, my eyes, my heartbeat. Our love never died, Sean. Not one whit. It only grew stronger and deeper. I was consumed by him, and he by me, sometimes to the exclusion of our own children. Is it any wonder I'm bereft, lost without him?"

Sean held his sister close, letting her cry until she became exhausted, sagging against him.

"You need to rest," he told her firmly. "Let me take you back to your room."

She nodded slowly, bracing herself against him as she turned to look at Scott again.

"Give me a minute," she said.

Freeing herself from Sean, Shannon bent over and kissed her husband one last time on the lips. A salty tear fell from her eye and onto Scott's cheek. She left it there as she righted herself and turned away.

Sean closed the casket carefully, also taking one last look at his brother-in-law and thanking him silently. "God bless you Scott for making Shannon so happy for so many years. Please watch over her now, and don't let her come to any harm. Someday in the distant future she will come to you, and the two of you can be together again."

Sean took Shannon's hand, and she gripped him tightly.

"Are you ready?" Sean asked her.

"Never ready," Shannon said softly. "Just forever waiting."



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.