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 Nineteen

January 1956

Larkin City, Maine


GEORGE SULLIVAN PACED THE waiting room at Larkin City Hospital, his rubber-soled boat shoes squeaking every so often on the clean floor. He clasped his hands behind his back, his head down in concentration as he passed back and forth in front of his mother on the waiting room couch.

"George, you have to calm down," Jennifer Sullivan told her son. "You're going to wear out the new Perry shoes I gave you for Christmas."

"The hell with my shoes," George snapped. He stopped and pointed in the general direction of the hospital corridor. "My wife is in there giving birth to my first child. How on earth am I supposed to remain calm under those circumstances?"

"Babies are born every day," Jennifer responded. "The doctors know what they're doing, and Linda is strong and healthy."

"My baby isn't born every day, mother," George declared, and then resumed his pacing with a renewed fervor.

Jennifer sighed, remaining seated on the couch. It wouldn't do if they were both on the verge of hysteria, so she decided to take the high road. She let her son go on with his nervous pacing, a slight smile playing about her lips.

George had done well for himself in the last few years. He finished high school, even managed a year of general study at Larkin University afterward, and had since taken over as the captain of Lady Banshee for the Larkin Harbor Tour Company. Occupying the position his grandfather Mick had once held, along with a small handful of other locals, gave George a sense of history and he seemed happy with his work, though it continued to remain seasonal.

Two years ago George married Linda Bisiker, daughter of Adam Bisiker, after they met at a dance social in Ellsworth. While born in Larkin City, Linda had been raised in Ellsworth by her mother following her divorce from Adam, who went on to marry two more times before his death in 1951.

Small and dainty with dark blonde hair and oval-shaped blue eyes, Linda Bisiker was five years younger than George. She was pretty and affable, her pleasant manner a refreshing change into the lives of George and his mother in recent history.

Ever since he returned from Paris and found out Susan O'Reilly had disappeared without a word or a trace, George changed. He took his own apartment near the harbor after graduating from high school, and worked a summer in the fish cannery before attending Larkin University. He continued to send Jean-Claude funds at least once a year, and corresponded with his father regularly. After he began work at the Larkin Harbor Tour Company, George settled into a mundane routine, though still haunted by thoughts of Susan and what he perceived as her abandonment and deception. He was deeply wounded, but knew in his heart that he still loved her despite her perfidy.

Working as the captain of a tour boat was not glamorous by any means, or one that pleased his sensibilities, but it was a money-maker in season. He wanted to be self-sufficient, stable and secure and not reliant on trust funds and inheritances. He was frugal. He used his money to buy sensible clothes, a reliable car, and to pay his rent on time. He wanted to live on the money he made rather than taking from his inheritance. Giving money to his father was acceptable. The older man needed it to survive, and George was his only salvation.

Meeting Linda was a God-send. She was different than Susan, easier to read and much more amenable to letting him take the lead. She was pretty in a nondescript fashion, and George found himself yearning for the stability of a life with her. He didn't feel the passion and curiosity he had once felt for Susan - and doubted he would ever feel again - but he was ready to settle for happiness, simplicity and constancy, three things Susan had not - and would not - give him.


*  *  *


MICHAEL JOHN SULLIVAN WAS born on 11th January 1956, healthy and screaming with a head full of blond hair. Even as a newborn, he had pale, translucent skin, almost effeminate to a casual observer. His dark blue eyes were spaced close together, long-lashed and striking, as was the child's singular and extraordinary beauty.

George was stunned by his son's perfection. Not only was he healthy in body and spirit, he possessed a startling physical gorgeousness that struck all those who laid eyes on him. Jennifer was taken aback by her grandson's resemblance to Colm Sullivan, never having guessed such splendor could be replicated twice in one family line.

As he was only one year old when Colm died in 1933, George relied on old photographs and paintings to confirm his mother's observations. It was true. Michael was a double for Colm in every physical way. Even Linda was awed by her newborn son, amazed that she had produced such a faultless human specimen.

The day after his son's birth, George held Michael in his arms as he sat in a chair in Linda's hospital room. His wife was dozing, having just nursed the baby. George pushed the chair near the window that overlooked the front of Larkin City Hospital, and the bustle of Main Street. The infant stated up at him as if fascinated, his blue eyes studying George's face with breathless expectation and a serene calm.

"You'll be important someday, Mike," George whispered to his child. "You'll make something of yourself. You'll find happiness and success where I have fallen short, and where my father before me fell short. You have the world at your fingertips, and the good fortune to have both Sullivan and Larkin blood flowing through your veins. That particular combination of heritage hasn't helped me much or my father, but you are blessed by the angels. You are a God-send from your great-great-grandfather Colm. How can you go wrong with all that in your favor?"

The baby gurgled, smiling and reaching up to touch George's face. He stood from the chair and looked out the window, raising Michael in his arms as if to have a look at the city street down below. "This is the place of your ancestors, Mike, and don't forget it. You have as much right to it as anyone else with the same blood."

"Who on earth are you talking to?" Linda asked groggily from the bed.

George turned around and walked to her side. "I'm telling Michael here that he is blessed by the angels, and that he will make something big of himself someday."

Linda smiled at her husband. "That's beautiful, George."

George glanced down at his son again, noting the child was growing sleepy-eyed. "I mean every word," he said in wonder. "Michael will be someone important one day, and not one soul in this harbor town will ever forget him."


*  *  *


August 1958

Larkin City, Maine


AS PHOEBE MCGARREN NEARED her fifty-ninth birthday, she decided it was time to retire. She had proven herself a successful businesswoman for almost forty years, bringing high fashion to Larkin City at affordable prices, at the same time creating a large profit margin for herself. She had tucked away a tidy retirement sum, enough to live comfortably for the rest of her life, and she felt it was time to start reaping the benefits of her long years of hard work.

Despite her age, Phoebe was still formidably attractive and stylish, giving off an elegant air that was a natural part of her now. She had taken to coloring her hair to retain its shade of brown, and she switched to wearing more conservative clothing although she still had the figure to highlight the latest fashions.

"High fashion is for the young," Phoebe told her sister Colleen. "I've had my day in the sun, but now it’s time for someone else to take over in my stead."

The obvious choice was Phoebe's long-time assistant, Teresa Davis, a forty-year-old divorced mother of two who had worked at the boutique for more than twenty years, right out of high school. Phoebe wanted to sell her shop but knew Teresa could not afford it in one lump sum, so the younger woman secured a loan with Larkin City Bank & Trust and began to take over the boutique. Glad to hand over the reins - and assured by Teresa that the name of the shop would remain Phoebe's Boutique - Phoebe started plans for her retirement future.

The first order of business was moving out of the apartment located over the shop, so Teresa could move in with her two children.

"Come and stay at the mansion until you find a house in town," Colleen offered. "Take your time and find a place you like. In the meantime you can keep me company at the estate, and spend more time with the children. There are plenty of empty rooms in that mansion, you know that."

Phoebe agreed. She began to pack her belongings, smiling with fond remembrance as she tucked away photographs of her cat, Lady Sam, who died of old age many years ago. Not meaning to replace her beloved feline but rather to find another companion, Phoebe bought a stray cat from the local animal shelter, naming the rambunctious white-and-gray kitten Lucinda. The feline, now six years old, would be part of her life no matter where she lived.

It was a warm Sunday afternoon in August when Phoebe packed up the last of her belongings. Colleen was due to arrive with Rory Larkin to transport boxes to the mansion, where Phoebe would stay until she found a suitable house in Larkin City. Placing Lucinda in her pet carrier, Phoebe set the cat by the main door of the apartment and looked around to make sure she hadn't left anything behind.

She was leaving the furniture and kitchen appliances for Teresa, as well as and a few of the plants and commercial seascape paintings.

Phoebe had taken almost half of her life - along with all of her memories, good and bad - into boxes and crates, with no clue where they would eventually find a permanent home. The mansion was a good place to start, but she had no intention of living out her days on the good graces of her sister or the Larkin's.

Phoebe was grateful Colleen was removing herself from her self-imposed exile on the estate to make a rare foray into Larkin City to help her. Colleen was genuinely excited for her sister, happy to see her retiring and relegating hard work aside to enjoy her life. She felt it was about time.

Once Colleen arrived with Rory and a few strong-armed men from the lumber yard to move her belongings, Phoebe and Colleen went from room to room in the apartment to check for items left behind. They stopped in the bedroom, standing in the middle of the room for one last look.

"I spent so much time in here," Phoebe said ruefully. "Now it will be Teresa's little escape from life's pressures."

Colleen put her arm around Phoebe's shoulder. "You're doing the right thing, darling. You need to enjoy life, and not work so hard. I know you're sad, leaving all this behind. It wasn't just your place of business. It was your home, too."

Phoebe nodded, wiping a tear from her eye. "I know, but you're right. I need to put work behind me. I'd love to just be idle for a month or two, and then maybe I'll start traveling. I'd love to go to London, or maybe Rome, just like a regular tourist." She glanced at her sister. "You could always go with me."

Colleen hesitated. "I don't know," she demurred. "The house, the kids…I don't think I would be comfortable leaving them."

"You need to relax just as much as I do," Phoebe pointed out. "You've worked for years at that mansion, making it what it is today. You've given your life over to the Larkin's, just as I gave mine over to the shop. It's about time you started enjoying yourself, too. You overdue a proper rest." She studied her sister, taking in her pale demeanor and wan expression. "You look so tired, Colleen - just plain worn out. Neither one of us are getting any younger, you know, so it’s time we did something for ourselves. We need to take our chances where we find them."

Before Colleen could reply, they heard a crash from the living room. Both women rushed out to find the cause, only to come face-to-face with a sheepish Rory holding a partially ripped cardboard box.

"I lifted this up and it fell apart," he explained. "I hope nothing is broken."

The spicy-sweet fragrance of Coup de Fouet wafted up between them, forcing Rory to wrinkle his nose. "What in God's name is that smell?" he wanted to know.

Phoebe laughed. "It's my bottle of Madame Caron perfume, Rory. I have another, so it's not a great loss."

"I should say so," he mumbled, glancing down at the broken glass. "Nonetheless, I'm sorry for breaking it."

"I'll run down to the shop and get the mop and broom so I can clean this up," Phoebe told Colleen. "I'll be right back."

"And I'll keep moving," Rory said quickly, relieved Phoebe was not overly irritated with him for destroying her peppery bottle of perfume.

After Phoebe and Rory left the room, Colleen knelt down to pick up errant items from the ripped box. She touched the silver-roped handle of the broken perfume bottle, smiling at Phoebe's earthy tastes in scents. Her sister had always liked uncommon accruements to fashion - not just in perfumes, but in accessories such as over-sized bracelets, dangling earrings and delicately carved hairpieces. She might not like them for herself, she had become conservative of late, but she did enjoy collecting the unusual and offering it up for sale as "exclusive" to her boutique.

Bent in her task, Colleen's eyes fell on a small bundle of letters that had fallen from the box. Startled to recognize Patrick's handwriting on the top envelope, she grabbed the stack and removed the first letter. She studied the envelope, noting it was postmarked June 1925 and addressed to her sister at the shop. The letter was more than thirty years old, saved by Phoebe as a keepsake obviously, but why on earth would Patrick write her - thirty years ago or at any other time prior to his death - and why had Phoebe not told her about it?

Curiosity got the better of her. Colleen took out a single sheet of yellowed paper from the envelope and started reading:


My Darling Pheebs,

I wanted to thank you for Thursday afternoon. It was a nice surprise, and kept me chipper for the rest of the day. I know your guilt assails you on occasion, but I want to assure you Colleen has no inkling of our meetings and never will from my lips.

Please understand that I love you, no matter that I am married to your sister, and no matter that we have two sons. Because of my position I am married for life, you know that, but my love lies with you and no one else. Please believe that.

Yours always,



Colleen dropped the letter to the floor, where it fluttered and settled in a puddle of Coup de Fouet, its amber liquid seeping through the paper. She was shocked by what she just read, but not overly so. She had known Patrick to be cold and unfeeling toward her during their marriage, but she had no idea he saved his passion and his love for her sister, or that her sister had not seen fit to tell her about it even after all these years.

It was not a reaction of jealousy, Colleen realized dimly as she sat on the floor, feeling light-headed and dizzy all of a sudden. It was a reaction of hurt that her sister went behind her back to see Patrick, that the two of them had slept together knowing that she was safely back at the mansion caring for her children. The two of them had conspired together to have an affair right under her nose. She never suspected her sister or her husband of such cruel deception, such disregard for her feelings or basic common respect for her being.

Colleen felt a twinge in her chest, a painful twist that made her gasp. "I didn't love Patrick, not like a wife should love her husband," she thought, aware that the shadows in the room were lengthening, making it hard for her to focus in the encroaching dark. "The love of my life was Nicholas Bertrand, and Patrick took that away from me, too. He took any respect he had for me and threw it aside like a rag-doll, slept with my sister, and then decimated the only man I ever loved. I can believe Patrick behaving in such a fashion, but Phoebe? How could my own sister be a part of that?"

Another knife of pain gripped Colleen's chest, forcing her to seize herself with both hands. The darkness seemed to wan, the bright sunlight streaming into the room again. She took a large gulp of air and fell over to her side on the floor.

Phoebe came to the doorway seconds later, a mop and broom in her hands. She stood transfixed for a moment, staring at her sister immobile on the floor, surrounded by envelopes and a sheath of perfume-soaked paper.

She knew what the envelopes contained without having to take a closer look. They were the few letters Patrick had written her so long ago, saved only because they were misplaced and not for fond remembrance. She had forgotten them, dismissed them when she placed them in the box the day before, considering them unimportant but not pausing to throw them away. They were merely set aside, much like the memories of the man who had written them to her.

Phoebe knelt next to her sister, alarmed by Colleen's shallow breathing. Her eyes opened and closed, fluttering in pain, incoherent sounds coming from her lips.

"Colleen," Phoebe shouted, shaking her sister and trying to get her to sit upright. "Colleen, what's wrong? Did you faint? Darling, please sit up and look at me." She pulled her sister close, into a half-sitting position, looking into her face and then almost drawing back in horror.

Colleen's head lolled to one side, her mouth in a twisted grin as if part of her face was numb. One eye was open, looking out sideways, while the other was partially closed but looking head on. The expression in that one half-eye made Phoebe take in her breath. Was it a look of hateful anger, betrayal or pain? Or all three rolled into one? And why was her sister as limp as a doll, her head unable to sustain itself?

Fear tore at Phoebe's insides when she finally understood. She held Colleen close to her, a sob forming in her throat. "Rory!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. "Rory, come quick. I think your mother had a stroke. Rory, please hurry!"

Phoebe heard the commotion downstairs, the pounding of more than one set of feet coming up the apartment stairs. In a flash, she realized she had to get rid of the cause for Colleen's collapse, or what she felt to be the reason. Still holding Colleen with one arm, Phoebe snatched up the letters with her other and stuffed the papers down the front of her dress, pushing them flat underneath the wire rim of her brassiere.

She cradled Colleen in her arms as Rory ran into the room.

"What have I done?" Phoebe thought to herself frantically. "Oh God, what have I done?"




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.