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 Eight

December 1990

Larkin City, Maine


IT WAS STILL DARK when Carly awoke fully dressed in the front seat of her Camry. At first she thought she was coming out of a horrific nightmare, but then she felt the pain and sticky wetness in her lower and upper body, and the pounding throb of an enormous headache.

She tried to adjust her eyes to the inky darkness. The street lamps on Larkin Highway helped bring her vision into focus, and then she knew where she was.

Her Camry was parked on the soft shoulder of the highway, underneath an awning of pine branches one-quarter mile from the entrance road to the mansion. She could smell the clean freshness of rain in the air even though her car windows were closed.

She found her voice, which was working now. “How on earth did I get here?” she wondered aloud. “What did I do? What in the hell happened to me?”

Bits and pieces began to flood her memory as she sat there. Despite the chill in her car, she felt the heat of shame rising in her body and flaming her cheekbones. She saw Jack in her mind, and two other men, taking turns on her body and then joining with her all at the same time – something she had never thought possible even in her wildest fantasies…

She rested her forehead on the steering wheel. Certainly it was a nightmare. It had to be a nightmare. Jack Sansovino was her trusted sous-chef, in her employ for more than a year. He would never harm her, or expose her to danger. Or would he?

Carly considered the possibilities. Did she get so drunk at the HVC Christmas party that she didn’t remember her own actions? Did she seduce Jack, and then agree to go back to his flat with him? Did she invite trouble upon herself? Or did Jack take advantage of her in a weak and unguarded moment? Worst yet, did someone slip her a roofie at the party? Is that why she was having difficulty recalling the evening that had just passed behind her?

But how did she get here, barely a quarter-mile from the mansion? If she had been intoxicated, how did she make it this far alone? Did she pull over to the side of the road of her own volition, realizing her limitations and unwilling to stumble drunk into the bedroom she shared with her husband?

She lifted her head and glanced at the dashboard clock. It was four-thirty in the morning. If she hurried, she could make it into the mansion before anyone detected her, and slide into bed with Liam before he noticed her early-bird arrival.

Her keys were in the ignition. She started the Camry, letting it hum for a few minutes before she flipped on the heat switch. Her brain still felt a bit foggy, and her headache had reached a new level of raw, but she was not experiencing the epic dizziness that seemed to mark much of the previous night.

Taking a deep breath, Carly shifted the Camry gear into drive and slowly pulled out onto the highway. 

* * *

CARLY MADE IT THROUGH the lower region of the mansion without running into a soul. She entered through the kitchen, hoping everyone was still abed. She half-expected to find the bitch Shannon standing there, brewing a pot of coffee, but she was nowhere in sight.

The mansion was eerily quiet as Carly made her way upstairs. Grateful, she moved swiftly to the fourth floor, slipping into the bedroom she shared with Liam.

Her husband wasn’t in their large king-sized bed, but she could hear the water running in the bathroom shower. Her heart sank. How was she going to explain herself to Liam? What must he be thinking of her now?

Before she could formulate a plan in her mind, Liam was standing in the doorway of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his middle. His hair was wet and flat on his head as he regarded her coldly, but his eyes were clear and alert.

“What the hell happened to you?” he asked crossly.

She sat on the end of the bed, trying not to wince from the pain. “That damned Christmas party,” she said lightly. “I drank too much wine and ended up sleeping it off in my car for a few hours.”

He said nothing, but he continued to glare at her.

“You know it’s not like me to drink too much or stay out all night,” she said nervously, avoiding his accusatory stare. “I guess I was swept up in the gaiety of it all … you know, celebrating HVC’s tenth anniversary, handing out bonus checks …”

“You’d better go and look at yourself in the mirror before you spew out any more lies,” Liam finally said, his eyes hostile.

“What do you mean?” she asked indignantly.

“Go look in the mirror,” he repeated.

She flounced past him into the bedroom, stopping in front of the mirror over the sink. She gasped.

Her hair hung lank and greasy. Her eyeliner was visibly smudged, giving her the look of a hollow-eyed junkie. Her lips were swollen and red, and her face was dirty with what appeared to be dried saliva and semen at the corners of her mouth and on her cheeks. At least her clothes were in place, although it did little to detract from her shabby countenance.

“Oh my God, I look awful,” she said aloud.

“Yeah, you do,” Liam agreed behind her. “I’m going to ask you again – what happened to you?”

She whirled to face him. “I don’t know … I mean, I’m not sure why my make-up is melting or why my face is so filthy. I do know there was dancing at the party and the room seemed overly warm, so maybe I did a few turns too many and ...” she bit her bottom lip for effect. “Good grief, I must’ve made a fool of myself. The only thing I really remember is waking up in my car …”

Liam regarded her silently for a moment, almost believing her. Wanting to believe her. “Why didn’t you call me?” he asked, some of the hostility gone from his voice now. “I would’ve come into town and picked you up.”

Carly shrugged, relieved that he seemed to believe her but not wanting to push the issue. “I don’t even remember getting into my car, much less having the presence of mind to call for help.”

“Why don’t you take a shower and get some sleep?” he suggested. “I’ll bring you some breakfast later, and I’ll take Megan to school.”

She brightened considerably. “Oh thank you, Liam. That sounds like just the ticket.”

He nodded and turned away, going back into the bedroom to dress.

Carly stripped of her clothes, leaving them in a heap on the floor. She stepped into the still-wet shower, anxious to wash away all the real or imaginary traces of the men who ravaged her body inside and out. She took her time, leisurely soaping her sore muscles and hair, and allowing the warm water to rinse and cleanse her perfidy.

Finally, she finished and stepped out of the shower. She did not see Liam as she reached for a towel on a nearby rack.

“You lying, whoring bitch,” he spat.

She jumped, startled by his voice. “What in the hell is wrong with you?” she cried out.

“With me?” he raged, pointing at her. “Have a glance at your body, Carly. You look like you’ve been manhandled by the New England Patriots.”

She stepped in front of the full-length mirror next to the shower towel rack, her eyes widening in sick horror when she saw the bruises on her thighs, buttocks and breasts. There was no way she could explain-away the marks, no matter how hard she rummaged around her brain for an excuse.

“Don’t go and tell me you fell down drunk in the parking lot of the Amber Whale,” Liam snarled at her. “I know those kinds of bruises when I see them. Hell, I used to give you those kinds of bruises once upon a time, granted on a smaller scale. Who’s your lover, Carly? And how long have you been screwing around behind my back?”

Something snapped in her then. Whether it was a culmination of her husband’s choice to view her as the guilty party without the benefit of doubt or the knowledge she may have been brutally raped, she wasn’t sure. She suddenly felt as if she had the weight of the world was on her shoulders, and instead of taking her side Liam was castigating and accusing her.

She spun around to look at him, fury written on her face. “How dare you stand there and talk to me like that?” she cried angrily.

“Because I’m witness to your whoredom,” he shouted over her, his eyes flashing dangerously. “You avoid me like the plague in our bed, and yet you think nothing of spreading your legs for another man. Or is it men, I wonder? What kind of woman are you?”

“And what kind of man are you?” she screamed, losing the control she always prided herself in maintaining. “If you were a real man, I wouldn’t have to take a lover. If you were a real man,” she spat in contempt. “I wouldn’t have been forced to sleep with your father in order to get pregnant and keep the bloodline in the family …”

She wept openly as Liam stared at her in shock. Her body began to shake violently, the hysterical sobs reaching into her belly. She stumbled to the towel rack and wrapped herself, keeping her back to Liam. “There’s no going back now,” she thought in despair. “Liam might forgive me for having an affair, but he will never forgive me for the immoral lengths I went to have a child.”

“Don’t you ever repeat one word of what you just said to me,” his voice came as cold as ice. “If you do, I’ll make sure you end up like Marianne Chamberlain, without a cent to your name and with no hopes of ever seeing Megan again. I will destroy your business – and don’t think for a minute that I can’t or won’t do it. I’ll file so many liens and lawsuits against you and your company that you’ll be lucky to limp out alive with the clothes on your back. Don’t forget Charlene,” he sneered. “We’re in Larkin City and there is no way you can win a battle against me, or my family. We’ll crush you like the whoring little pissant that you are.”

She hung her head. “What do you want from me?”

“You’ll stay here and play the part of wife and mother until Megan is old enough to understand what divorce means,” Liam said callously, not a wisp of compassion in his voice. “We’re probably stuck in this marriage roughly another ten years. If you can keep your mouth shut and do as you’re told, I’ll give you a divorce and make sure you leave here with your little company intact. However, you will also give up all rights to Megan when you leave. I will never allow you to take her, or wield your noxious influence over her.”

Carly’s nose began to run. She sniffled loudly, knowing she had but only one choice to make. “I’ll do as you say,” she said quietly. “I’ll stay until Megan is old enough, I won’t try to get custody of her, and I will leave with my company free and clear.”

“Good,” Liam said, not surprised by her lack of concern over Megan. “And don’t worry – your dramatic role as my wife will not include the physical aspects of marriage. I wouldn’t touch you with a barge pole now.” With one final passive look in her direction, he left the room.

She sank to the floor, sobs racking her body. In one fell swoop – in one unintentional declaration of the truth – she had destroyed her marriage and almost everything she had worked for.

And none of it was my fault,” she thought, feeling sorry for herself. “I’m not the one who couldn’t deliver when we wanted to get pregnant. That was Liam’s failure, not mine, so I had to resort to drastic measures. And I didn’t go out last night with the intention of sleeping with Jack Sansovino, or anyone else for that matter, but it happened.” She reiterated. “Through no fault of my own.”

Carly used the rim of the bathroom sink to help her to her feet. She took a tissue from the box on the counter and blew her nose, then wiped her face with a hand towel. Only then did she dare look into the mirror again.

She was gaunt and ghostly pallid, but looked a damned sight better than she did just thirty minutes ago. She felt her resolve and strength returning in small surges, her intense anger banked for the time being.

She had ten years to squirrel away money before Liam divorced her, a decade in which to ensure her complete financial security and to bring her business to new heights. However, she would request that Liam put their new agreement in writing – with strict legal confidentiality, of course - before going another step further.

Carly began to run a brush through her wet hair, staring at herself in the mirror.

And I also have ten long years to devise some form of revenge on Liam and his God-awful family,” she thought. “One way or another, they will pay for what they have put me through.”

It never occurred to Carly that her own daughter Megan was part of that family equation as well.



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.