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 Fifteen

December 2003

Larkin City, Maine


MARIKO AND HER PARENTS spent the night before the wedding at the mansion. Dana and Shannon prepared John Larkin's old room for Leo and Sachiko Woods, while Mariko occupied another room down the hall on the second floor. Shannon relegated a grumbling Kevin to the keeper's cottage until the ceremony.

"You shouldn't see the bride," she told him. "It's bad luck."

"For chrissakes, Shan. I've been dating the woman for eight years. What could I possibly see that I haven't already seen before?"

"Go on with you," Shannon shooed him, grateful Leo and Sachiko were out of earshot.

Kevin and Mariko planned to honeymoon in New York City, staying at Shannon's apartment on Central Park South, returning to Larkin City just before Christmas. In a surprise decision, Kevin already agreed to live with Mariko in her house on Barter Road after the honeymoon. It was closer to work, he reasoned, and he could always drag her back to the mansion for frequent visits.

Saturday, 6th December 2003

SHANNON HELPED MARIKO GET ready the afternoon of the wedding, with Sachiko at their sides. Mariko's guest room on the second floor had a full bathroom and king-sized bed, with a small sitting area and large mullioned window that faced the direction of the beach footpath and ocean. Shannon asked Sean to bring an old cheval mirror from the attic to Mariko's room so she could observe herself full-length. The mirror, once the property of Molly Larkin, tilted from top to bottom and was framed in cherry wood finish.

Shannon was amazed by Mariko's serenity in the face of her long-awaited wedding to Kevin.

"I was a nervous wreck the day I got married," Shannon said as she helped Mariko slip into her pure white kimono. "How are you managing to stay so calm? I know what a grouchy curmudgeon Kevin is. If I were you, I'd be shaking in my boots."

Mariko laughed. "Kevin is tetchy, yes, but he also has a very tender and soft side."

"I think you're the only one who brings it out in him," Shannon observed.

"We're good for each other despite appearances to the contrary," Mariko replied as she sat down on a small chair in front of the mirror. "Kevin is the only one who can get me to relax, to stop and smell the roses and let my hair down, as he says. I also bring out the little boy in him."

Sachiko clucked her tongue, a slight smile on her face. "Kare wa henda. Kevin is strange, but I like him."

"Yes, he's a very strange Irishman," Shannon agreed, her eyes twinkling.

Sachiko chuckled. "Airisshu."


"Airisshu - the Japanese word for Irish." She pointed to her daughter. "Never mind that. I'm just happy Mariko and Kevin are finally getting married. I worried it might never happen. Leo and I are getting old, and we want grandchildren. Mariko is forty years old, so she needs to hurry and have a baby."

"Mother, please!" Mariko remonstrated. "Let's get through the wedding first, shall we?"

Laughing together, Shannon and Sachiko helped Mariko don her tabi and zori, which were short white stockings and clogs, along with an obi, a belt that encircled her tiny waist and cinched the kimono together. Next, they assisted her with the elaborate wataboshi white headdress, also known as tsunokakushi or "demon horns." The accessory draped over her face, signifying the bride's concealment of jealousy and submission to her mother-in-law. It was a moot point since Denise Larkin passed away in 1995, but Shannon found the custom enchanting anyway. It was as if Mariko was giving a nod to Kevin's mother in a show of respect.

After she looked in the cheval mirror one final time, Mariko gave a small smile and spoke softly: "Perfect. I'm ready now."

EARLIER IN THE DAY, Liam snuck Kevin into the mansion, coordinating their entry with Shannon when Mariko was safely ensconced in her own room. The two brothers made a beeline for Kevin's bedroom on the fourth floor to prepare for the wedding. Shannon left them a tray with a decanter of cognac and two snifters in a thoughtful gesture, hoping it would help keep Kevin calm on his special day.

But Kevin declined a drink. "I had enough hooch last night, thanks. I want to be clear-headed when I lumber across the foyer in my twinky get-up."

"It wasn't much of a bachelor party," Liam complained. "Twenty men crammed into the keeper's cottage, taking shots of whiskey and playing poker. The Coven would have been better."

"Yeah, but it would have been much harder to pry me out of The Coven," Kevin grinned. "This way we're close at hand and semi-sober." He pointed to the garment bag draped over his bed. "Grab my clothes, will you? Let's get this over with. I'm warning you, though, if you laugh at me in my get-up, I'll hurt you really bad. I'd like to see your bony little ass in one of these outfits."

Liam tried to keep a straight face as he helped his brother slip into the black montsuki haori full-length kimono, split between the legs, and baggy pants known as hakama. Kevin tucked a white sash into the pants, and then admired the Larkin family crest embroidered on the breast pocket of the kimono.

"Look at me, will you?" Kevin snorted. "I waited fifty-eight years to get married, and it's come to this. I'm going to face Father Hunter and all our guests looking like an Irish samurai. All I need is a sword swinging at my side to appear the part."

Liam couldn't hold back his laughter. After he regained a semblance of control, in part spurred on by Kevin's fierce glare, he offered a positive note: "At least Mariko made the outfit large enough to cover your frame comfortably."

"She is something, isn't she?"

Liam sobered, catching the solemn tone of his brother's voice. Clearing his throat, Liam stood behind Kevin at the bedroom mirror and looked at his reflection. "I know I've said this before, but I'm glad you found Mariko. She's the best. She's understated and serene, yet so funny and wise. I love her to bits, and she'll make a wonderful addition to our family. However, if you asked me ten years ago . . . I never thought you'd give up tall blondes and bleary bar flies for a tiny Japanese lady who brooks very little nonsense. It took you long enough, but you deserve all the happiness in the world. You've earned it, and then some."

"For once I agree with you, neddy."

"Just be happy," Liam insisted.

"I'm very happy, and thank you."

The brothers were uncomfortable with frilly sentiment, unused to sibling displays of deep affection, so they let their personal comments rest there.

SHANNON WAS MAID OF honor, while Liam stood in as best man. She wore a black evening gown with her hair in a French braid, while Liam dressed in an ivory-white suit and tails. The finery was designed to contrast Mariko and Kevin, who wore white and black respectively.

Leo Woods brought his daughter to Kevin, who waited at the bottom steps of the staircase in the foyer with Liam and Father Hunter. Despite his uncharacteristic attire, Kevin managed to retain his masculine dignity. His eyes misted over as he regarded Mariko, a vision in white. He loved every inch of her tiny frame. He was suddenly eager to get started on their life together, bring what it may.

Father Hunter began: "We have been invited here today to share a very important moment in the lives of Kevin and Mariko. In the years they have spent together, their love and understanding of one another has grown and matured beyond measure, and now they wish to live their lives together as husband and wife."

Mariko rested her hand on Kevin's arm, glancing up at him through her veil.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the presence of witnesses to join Kevin John Larkin and Mariko Fujiwara Woods in holy matrimony, which is commended to be an honorable state and therefore not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly and solemnly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined, and share with you their own written vows."

Mariko spoke clearly, her diminutive voice now laced with a resolute firmness. "To you Kevin I give my love, my life and my heart. Long in the making, our union has arrived at this sweet place of matrimony. I value your mind, your spirit, your loyalty and your loving devotion to me. This devotion is returned wholeheartedly on this day and for as long as we breathe on this earth together and forever afterward as we dwell in paradise."

Clearing his throat, Kevin responded in kind: "To you Mariko I give my love, my life and my heart. You have enthralled me from the first day we met and through the many years between then and now. Our love has come to its rightful fruition on this our day of marriage. I will love and devote myself unto you in mind, body and spirit for as long as we breathe on this earth together and forever afterward as we dwell in paradise."

The couple exchanged matching wedding rings brought to them by Alexandra on a hunter-green felt pillow. The yellow gold and sterling silver rings were specially made by Azoulay Gems, featuring an etched mokume gane design interlaced with a Celtic knot. After slipping the bands on their fingers, Kevin and Mariko turned to Father Hunter, who now held a tray containing three different-sized Saki cups. The sansankudo ritual began, whereby the couple took a sip from each cup to symbolize their union as husband and wife.

Father Hunter intoned his conclusion: "Oh Lord, be appeased by our humble prayers. In your kindness, assist the institution of marriage so that the union made here, joined by your authority, may be preserved with your help. In the name of the Father, the son and the holy spirit. Amen."

"Amen," the guests murmured.

"Vested in me by the state of Maine, I now pronounce you husband and wife." Father Hunter glanced to Kevin. "You may kiss the bride."

Kevin lifted Mariko's veil and kissed her. Instead of a brief peck on the lips, he lifted her up so that her feet swung in the air, branding her fiercely with his mouth.

"Cripes Kevin, can't you wait for the honeymoon?" Liam asked loud enough for everyone to hear.

The foyer erupted in laughter as Kevin released his wife, her feet touching the floor again. Mariko looked flustered, but obviously elated.

He turned to face the guests. "Let's party," he said, a happy grin on his face.



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.