Quixotic Crossings

Quixotic Crossings by Deidre Dalton is Book #2 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


Fate continues to entangle the Larkin and Sullivan families amidst madness, murder and obsessive love. Colm and Molly's grandson Jean-Claude Sullivan finds his life driven by greed and perversely tainted pleasures. Beloved family chef Claude Mondoux watches helplessly as Colm slowly loses his mind in ghostly visions of Molly, while Colleen Larkin seeks love in the arms of another man with deadly consequences...

From Chapter Ten

Spring 1935

Larkin City, Maine


    PATRICK LARKIN LOVED the attic in the family mansion. It wasn't a typical attic filled with cobwebs and creeping rodents, but a light and airy place with well-ordered boxes, covered furniture and bric-a-brac located on one end. The floors were of highly polished hardwood, laid with a long Oriental carpet down the center walkway. The attic was cleaned and dusted by maids on a weekly basis, one of the few times Patrick allowed himself to leave the blissfully quiet confines.


    The other side of the attic, which was located up a few steps from the entrance doorway, was a vast, unoccupied space. A rounded carpet held a solitary antique chair with a high back and thick armrests. Above was a window that went across the breadth of the ceiling, revealing sunlight in good weather and clouds, rain and snow in bad. It was Patrick's favourite spot, as it had once been Molly Larkin's refuge from the world.


    The design of the ceiling window was ingenious, sprung from the mind of John Larkin for the top and final level of his extraordinary home. Patrick would often stare up into the stars, or look out the porthole windows on either side of the attic, watching the mist roll in from the ocean, and the automated beacon sweeping across the estate from the Banshee Point lighthouse.


    A rounded, wooden door on the other side of the attic led to the widow's walk on the roof the mansion. Patrick sometimes stood on the dizzying height of the walk to look at Larkin City in the distance, but the view did not impress him. The populace of Larkin City and the township itself no longer held any allure for him.


    He was far removed from human contact in the attic, which is what he preferred. The high-grade insulation blocked any and all sounds from the rest of the mansion. He often screamed to release his deep tensions, secure no one else could hear him.


    A maid brought his meals, leaving the food on a tray outside the attic door. Shortly after his accident, Patrick built a lavatory in the attic, located just inside the entrance. He purchased a simple double bed that he placed in a corner, but he rarely slept there. Sometimes he went downstairs to his old room to get fresh clothes and the odd book, and every night no matter the weather he took a long walk around the estate grounds, alone. He spent each night at the keeper's cottage, and then made his way back to the mansion in the early morning hours to return to the attic, thus ensuring little human contact.


    Patrick felt half a man since the accident at the lumber yard. He had no desire to show his face to the community ever again, especially to the men at the lumber yard. He allowed Gary McCain to run the company, although he kept close tabs by telephone. A courier delivered paperwork and payroll checks to the mansion each week for Patrick's signature. A maid would bring the documents to the door of the attic and then leave. He would take the papers and affix his moniker, and then leave them for the maid to pick up again. It was an odd process, but it worked for him.


    No one could penetrate the shield Patrick had surrounded himself with - not Roddy, not Sascha, and not Colleen. Even his children, proof of his former manhood, could not rouse him. He wanted to be left in peace, and no amount of pressure or cajolement could persuade him otherwise.


* * *


    COLLEEN CLIMBED THE short staircase from the fourth floor of the mansion to the attic. She dreaded her mission, but it could not be helped. Patrick had barely spoken two sentences to her since his accident, and yet she still never invaded his lofty sanctuary. Until now.


    Their sons, Brian and Rory, aged fifteen and eleven respectively, were finally asking her about Patrick's strange behaviour. Although used to their father's long absences in the past due to work, they were now stymied that his constant presence in the house kept him from their lives. Colleen was concerned about their mounting resentment, and the only possible solution was to bring the matter to her husband's attention.


    She walked up the short steps into the attic, the cloudy day making the area a bit murky but still well illuminated from the ceiling window. She saw Patrick sitting in the high-backed chair, his hands on the arm rests. He was staring up at the overhead window, his profile expressionless.


    "Patrick?" She spoke softly, with uncertainty.


    He started and turned his head to look at her. The shock in his eyes was soon replaced by anger. "What are you doing here?" he snapped.


    "I need to talk to you," she replied, finding the courage to be firm. He might expect her to quaver, but she had no intention of giving him the satisfaction.


    "You know I don't like to be bothered when I'm up here," he said coldly.


    "But you're always up here," Colleen countered. "When else can I talk to you?"


    He was quiet for a moment, and then he looked away. "Fine. Make it quick, please."


    She stepped closer, coming to stand in front of the chair. She saw his body recoil slightly from her proximity, and she realized he was determined to avoid all human touch. Perhaps her mission was pointless after all, but she had to try. "I've been patient with your self-imposed exile," she began, her tone strong yet somehow still gracious. "I've given up trying to help you. I don't care about your peculiarities for myself, but now Brian and Rory are asking questions. They know you're here, holed up in the attic, and they're becoming a bit angry about not seeing you. It's as if you are rejecting them."


    Patrick glanced up at her, and she saw the dead emotion in his eyes. She was not reaching him. "What would you have me do?" he asked sardonically. "Play catch with them on the front lawn? Swim with them in the ocean?"


    Colleen hated her husband in that moment. He was callous and unfeeling, unable to see past his own miserable existence. His coldness toward her was inconsequential, but his disregard of his own two sons was unforgivable. She forced herself to remain civil. "Can't you just talk to them?" she pleaded. "Act like a normal father. Take an interest in their lives, show them that you care."


    "Whatever for?" he snorted with derision. "You've managed quite well on your own. You don't need me to bolster their little egos."


    She cringed inwardly, furious at his inference, his subtle plea to be needed. Maybe a few years ago she would have fallen for it, but not now. Patrick no longer had a hold on her. She lost all respect for him long ago, and considered their marriage one in legal name only. What affection and love she once felt for him had vanished, and it was irretrievable.


    "I never thought I'd see the day," she said bitterly, losing her cool composure. "You are actually rejecting your own flesh and blood."


    "Well, you are seeing the day," his tone was dismissive. "I have no use for anyone."


    "Rejecting your sons over the loss of your manhood," she spoke again, this time her voice accelerating with anger. "Brian and Rory are not at fault because of your delusional insecurities. Why make them suffer for it?"


    Patrick narrowed his eyes. "Are you quite finished?"


    Colleen whirled away from him, walking toward the stairway. She stopped on the first step. Her scalp tingled, her rage giving her face a clammy sheen. "When did I become nothing to you?" she wanted to know, her voice a whisper.


    Patrick wanted to tell her the truth, that he still loved her as he loved their sons, but he could not form the words. The pain and shame of his reality was too crushing, and he could not overcome it.


    "What makes you think you were anything to me in the first place?" His voice came like ice, and he regretted the words even as he said them. But in order to keep Colleen away from him, he had to hurt her. "It was my responsibility to carry on the Larkin line, and I've completed my duty. Just be glad you remain my wife, and that you can continue to live here and fiddle with your beloved charities."


    She choked back a sob, his cruel words slashing at her confidence. But she was quick, and now was the time to clear the air. "So you don't care what I do?" she asked calmly. "Is that what you're trying to tell me? As long as I leave you to your wretched asylum?"


    He was alerted by her words, sensing she was alluding to an important milestone or decision. "Do what you will as long as you don't shame my family," he said with conviction. He watched her guardedly, certain she was hiding something.


    "I'll remember that," she retorted. "Do what you will, and I shall do the same."


    She could no longer look at him. She ran down the attic stairs, slamming the door behind her.


    Patrick returned to his normal stance, leaning his head back and looking out the ceiling window again. But this time a lone tear crept out of his left eye, rolling unchecked down his cheek.



QUIXOTIC CROSSINGS ©2011-16 Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

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