Enthrallment by Deidre Dalton is Book #4 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


George Sullivan reunites with his long-lost love Susan O'Reilly. Their daughter Carly enters into an unholy alliance to secure her position as Liam Larkin's wife. As secrets unfold and more madness takes root, Carly plots a fatal and twisted scheme to exact revenge on the Larkin family...

From Chapter Seven

November 1990

Bangor, Maine


IT WAS RAINING ON the day George Sullivan decided to pay Susan O'Reilly a visit. It was mid-November, and the colorful orange foliage was already falling into slick, leafy heaps on the roads and sidewalks in Bangor.

He was a nervous wreck, like a teenage boy waiting to pick up his first date. Going to Susan was similar to being transported back in time to when he last saw her forty-two years ago. Thereafter both had been left with the impression that their relationship was over, thanks to Jennifer Sullivan, who falsely portrayed her son as a homosexual to Susan and Susan as a fortune seeker to George.

If George was honest with himself, he knew Susan was the only woman he had ever truly loved. He once held great affection for his ex-wife Linda, but theirs had never been a deep, gut-wrenching type of passion. Their sexual romps had also been less than satisfying. Linda never seemed to like the physical aspects of marriage, although she adored being a mother.

To be fair, Linda had been a good wife in all other regards. She had cooked his meals, cleaned his house and washed his clothes. She never raised her voice in anger to him; in fact she rolled with the flow without complaint. George likened it to living with a semi-robot, which he grew to resent in short order. He realized then that he wanted a woman who spoke her mind, who challenged him on a daily basis and who enjoyed coming to his bed without reservation.

The marriage with Linda never had a chance, not with the memory of Susan O’Reilly poised over them from start to finish.

George slowed his Buick Regal as he turned onto Downing Road from Union Street. A few minutes later he saw Susan’s house, a white brick split-level, with the numbers “179 E” stenciled on the curb. He parked in front of the house, his eyes going to the tall windows that overlooked the lawn. The blinds were open, but he could see no activity within.

“It’s now or never,” he muttered, getting out of the car.

Inside the house, Susan O’Reilly walked into the living room with her afternoon cup of latte in her hands. She had spent the morning designing a marketing campaign for Panda Software, one of the new clients just acquired by her advertising firm Impression Media Works. Since her office was only a short distance away on Union Street, Susan often worked from home. She found the peace and quiet in the security of her home more conducive to her creative flow, and since she was the boss no one questioned her.

She sipped her latte as she walked toward the tall windows in the living room. It was a dreary day, the pelting rain now turned to a drizzle, but the sky was leaden gray and threatening more to come. The weather aggravated her recently diagnosed arthritis, but thankfully her condition was not dire yet. She felt only mild stiffening and discomfort in her hands.

Maybe I should retire,” Susan thought as she looked out the window. “I’m in a good place financially, and if I had more time on my hands I could spend it with Carly and Megan.” She paused. “Well, at least Megan might have time for me but I’m not so sure about Carly.”

She could hardly blame her daughter for her work ethics. Carly was driven and ambitious, just as Susan had been in her younger years. After giving birth at the Sisters of Mercy Convent in 1949, Susan had taken the money give to her by Jennifer Sullivan to make a new life for herself and her baby daughter.

Susan rented a small house in Bangor, and then worked as a waitress while attending business classes at Eastern Maine Community College. She was fascinated by the mechanics of marketing, and since she was a fairly good illustrator she finally decided to major in advertising. The program offered instruction on the creation and execution of commercial “messages” in various media to promote and sell products, services and brands. She studied advertising theory, marketing strategy, advertising design, campaign methods and techniques, media management, and related principles of business management.

Because of the era in which she found herself, Susan was the only woman in her class. At first none of her fellow male students took her seriously, but when her grades and techniques put her ahead of the rest, they began to fight over being her partner in the various labs and workshops.

After graduating with a master’s degree in advertising, Susan took work where she could find it. She started low on the totem pole because she was a woman, but her skills and natural instinct made her stand out amongst her contemporaries and her peers. She was promoted to junior partner at Gould & Bachman, where she worked for more than sixteen years. In 1970 she finally took the plunge and opened her own ad agency - Impression Media Works – and now, twenty years later, she was a veteran of the business with extraordinary success and an impeccable reputation.

No, money was not a worry. She could not use poor finances as an excuse to avoid retirement now. Aside from her ad agency, Susan had also inherited her father’s seafood restaurant chain The Sand Trap when he died in 1978. She sold the company for nearly $2 million, having neither the time nor the desire to take over a slew of eateries. While she reconciled with her parents shortly before Sam O’Reilly’s death, she did not want to carry on her father’s business legacy. It simply did not interest her.

Susan finished her latte as she continued to look out the front window. “That was a nice break,” she thought. “Now it’s back to work.”

Before she could turn away from the window, she noticed a car parked at the curb in front of her house. She paused, taking in the dusty plum color of the Buick Regal. The car was of an older make, probably ten years old, and the windows were tinted. She groaned out loud. She was not in the mood for a traveling salesman or a lost tourist.

She watched as a man alighted from the car, locking the door behind him. He was tall, with a slight paunch. His hair was close-cropped and gray, but he had a full beard that appeared well-kept although it covered the lower half of his face. He wore a dark purple windbreaker and jeans, with blue-striped sneakers. She saw him glance at the house, and then he began to make his way up the walkway towards her front door.

I’m going to nip this in the bud before he utters a word,” Susan thought angrily as she strode to the door. “His sales pitch will be wasted on me.”

She flung open the door before he had a chance to ring the bell or use the knocker. “Can I help you?” she snapped.

He stared at her, momentarily speechless.

“I said can I help you?” Susan repeated irritably.

He found his voice. “Suz?”

She knew his voice. It might have been decades ago since she last heard it, but the lilt and tone of his voice had not changed.

“George?” She was dumbfounded.

He grinned. “Hi, Suz. How have you been?”

She thought she might faint, but George quickly stepped forward and took her gently into his arms.

“We have a lot to talk about, you and I,” he whispered in her ear. “Don’t faint on me now.”



ENTHRALLMENT ©2012-16 Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

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