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 Eleven

May 2003

Larkin City, Maine


LEE GUNTHER HADN'T FORGOTTEN about Shannon Larkin, which is how he thought of her rather than as Shannon Page. Perhaps it was jealous underscore which made him disregard her late husband's name, but he did not often admit it to himself.

After meeting Shannon on the beach at Banshee Point in November, Lee made a point of sailing every weekend. His boat was back in tip-top shape after the accident, and he always routed himself near the lighthouse and the keeper's cottage. No matter what time of day he sailed, he never caught sight of Shannon again.

Since meeting her, Lee boned up on local history, especially well-known facts about Shannon's life. Her living journey to date was as unique as she was, giving him cause to understand her natural intensity and wary reaction to strangers.

Short of being rudely forward and knocking on the front doors of the Larkin mansion, Lee could think of no other way to meet with Shannon again. He was in a quandary.

Better to forget about her. As if he could.

LEE'S OFFICE AT LARKIN City University was large and airy with tall windows, which overlooked the campus courtyard. He often gazed at the cluster of trees that shaded the windows. They were green and lush, with squirrels flying between branches. Whenever he found himself contemplative, he usually made his way to the windows to look out over the beauty.

The office walls were off-white and bare when Lee moved in. He added several portraits of his own - a painting of a sailboat, another of a tree-lined lane - and several literary depictions. His favorite was a reproduction of the book cover Ulysses by James Joyce, which was framed in soft blond wood.

Lee's desk was orderly, his in-and-out baskets usually clutter-free. Student papers were well organized and placed in folders labeled "to do" or "finished." The bookshelf was also neat with titles lined evenly and in alphabetical order by author. Lee could not imagine living and working any other way. He felt organization was one of the keys to a successful life.

He was surprised when Megan Larkin walked into his office in mid-May, carrying with her a few textbooks and a leather-bound day planner. The girl was lovely and fresh, the definite brand of her family etched on her features and evident in her manner. Lee was not sure how he deduced such a notion, but there was a definite wild-fringe characteristic about the entire Larkin family.

Since Megan was not in any of his classes, Lee was momentarily puzzled by her presence. Perhaps she remembered him from his one and only stint at the mansion last year. After exchanging pleasantries, Megan sat in the chair in front of Lee's desk.

"How can I help you, Megan?" Lee asked her.

"I have a favor to ask you," Megan admitted. "Dana is hosting a Tea for Charity benefit at the mansion over Memorial Day. She wanted to know if you'd like to attend."

Lee's first thought was to wonder why Dana Larkin hadn't called and invited him to the event herself, but instead he asked: "Which charity is involved?"

"The tea actually benefits a group of charities," Megan said. "The event has been held twice a year since 1942, over Memorial Day and near Halloween. It was initiated by my great-grandmother Colleen Larkin."

"Is this the same Colleen Larkin that the city park is named after?"

"Yes," Megan replied. "Nowadays, either Dana or Shannon hosts the tea. Usually local politicians and their wives come to the event, along with other influential people in Larkin who pay one thousand dollars per plate. The funds are dispersed between three different charities: The Larkin Chapter of the ASPCA, the Fishermen's Benefit Fund and the Larkin Medical Relief Association, which helps people without medical insurance."

"That's very admirable," Lee said. "But tell me, why does Dana want me there? I'm not a politician, and I'm certainly not an influential person in Larkin."

Megan paused. Lee sensed she was holding something back, uncomfortable about being deceptive. But he said nothing, curious to hear what she had to say.

She recovered quickly. "Being a teacher at LCU, your position in the community is respected. I'm sure others in Larkin City would enjoy meeting you, and perhaps you might benefit from the contact as well."

Lee pretended he was thinking it over, fully aware there was more to Megan's invitation but unsure what it entailed. At length he replied: "Well since you put it that way, how can I refuse? I'll be glad to attend the event. You say it's scheduled for Memorial Day?"

"The day before," Megan replied, obviously relieved by his agreeable response. "It falls on a Saturday. I'll let you know the exact time later."

"That's fair advance warning," Lee said. "I'm sure I can set aside a thousand dollars by then."

Megan blushed. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean you had to come up with the money. Dana made that quite clear. You're to come as a guest of the family, not as a patron."

"Somehow that doesn't seem right," Lee stated. "If I come, I insist on paying the thousand dollars."

Megan appeared disconcerted. "Very well, I'll let Dana know."

The room fell silent for a moment, stretching into an interminable awkwardness. Megan seemed occupied with her own thoughts, leafing through her day planner, unaware Lee was waiting for her to continue.

Lee cleared his throat. "Is there anything else I can do for you, Megan?"

She looked at him, startled. "Sorry?"

"Is there anything else?"

"Yes," Megan began, regaining her composure. "Dana also asked me to tell you about Larkin Fair Days, which occurs in August. It's fast approaching, and Dana wanted to invite you to that event, too. As a guest of the family, of course."

Lee smiled. "Of course. I've heard about Larkin Fair Days from some of my students. It sounds like a wonderfully big party on the beach. I definitely plan to attend."

"Very good then," Megan said, snapping her day planner closed. "Thank you for your time, Professor Gunther."

"No - thank you," Lee interjected.

After Megan left his office, Lee pondered the real reasons behind the pair of invitations from Dana Larkin. He wasn't callow enough to believe Dana was interested in introducing him to the community. No, there was another reason and he was almost certain he knew what it was.

Dana was concerned about Shannon's rather tumultuous life in recent months. The loss of her husband, combined with a paternity lawsuit and her daughter's subsequent adoption of Scott Page's illegitimate child, had probably taken its emotional toll. Dana probably felt it was time Shannon carried on with her life, to get back into the swing of things. Shannon was likely unwilling to do so, and the invitations were Dana's way of forcing the issue.

Lee was not comfortable about being used as a pawn in the scheme of things. Had it been anyone else but Shannon, he might have refused both invitations. Yet he was anxious to know Shannon better, to spend time in her company - even if the interest was one-sided.



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.