The Twain Shall Meet

The Twain Shall Meet by Deidre Dalton is Book #3 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


An innocent meeting as children sparks a fateful yet perilous liaison between Shannon Larkin and Mike Sullivan. Will their romance follow the same tragic path forged by their mutual ancestors Colm and Molly?

From Chapter Ten

December 1970

Larkin City, Maine


NEW YEAR'S EVE IN Larkin City proved, year after year, to be a well-celebrated affair. The Coven bulged beyond capacity, and every motel, hotel and bed-and-breakfast were booked well in advance. Over the years, Larkin City gained the reputation of a party town on the last day of the year, with added benefits. Brian Larkin paid all local cab fares for the night, so drunken driving accidents were kept to a minimum. Police were also out in full force to insure no one went beyond their limit behind the wheel. Because of the combined efforts, car accidents due to drinking were rare, and very few people provoked an arrest by erratic behavior or violence.

Since Christmas day, Shannon grew flustered when Scott was near her. He was polite, not pushing himself at her or making suggestive remarks. It was as if he were waiting for her to make a move, no less. They were getting along very well, which seemed to please Brian tremendously. His respect for Scott's professional skills, combined with a personal liking for the man, made him ideal in Brian's eyes. He kept his thoughts to himself, however, preferring that his stubborn daughter make her own decisions.

Shannon threw herself into preparations for the New Year’s party. Friends of the family were being invited, as well as working associates of the two Larkin brothers from the lumber yard and the mining company. Several guest rooms were made up on the second and third floors. Shannon helped her mother and Aunt Denise prepare snacks and hot dishes for the gathering. The cabinets were well stocked with liquor and other beverages, and the house was cleaned from top to bottom: polished, dusted, scrubbed, swept and vacuumed. Shannon persuaded Dana to spend the night, giving her a room on the fourth floor.

Early in the afternoon before the party, Scott approached Shannon in the kitchen as she arranged a tray of cheese and crackers. She looked up at him, an expectant smile on her face. "Hi," she said. "Want a cracker?"

Scott accepted the snack and sat down next to her at the kitchen table. "Do you have any free time this afternoon?" he wanted to know.

"I'm just about done. Why? What do you have in mind?"

"Sean told me he took a couple of the snowmobiles out of the garage this morning," he replied, meeting her gaze. "Would you like to go for a ride with me?"

She brightened. "I'd love to, what a marvelous idea." Wiping her hands on a tea towel, she said: "In fact, I'm ready now. I'll put on some warmer clothes and meet you outside."

"If I'd known you'd be so eager for my company, I’d have asked sooner," Scott teased her, his sleepy eyes sparkling with mischief.

"Don't be so sure of yourself, Mr. Page." Shannon said lightly, standing up. "I'm just going along for the ride, nothing more."

His face fell. "Really?"

She laughed at his expression. "I'm kidding, honest. I really do enjoy your company, being that you're so mature and all. I'll be ready in ten minutes."

Scott watched her leave the room hurriedly. He continued to sit at the table, a warm smile on his face.

Shannon donned a pair of ski pants and a sweater, on top of which she put a heavy coat. She swept her hair up under a wool ski cap, tucking the strands inside. Inspecting herself in the bathroom mirror, she decided to add a touch of make-up to her eyes, but not too much. Satisfied, she went downstairs to meet Scott.

"You look like a polar bear," Scott exclaimed as they climbed onto the snowmobile, which was parked in front of the garages. "How many layers of clothes do you have on?"

"Just three," she giggled, sitting behind him.

Looking over his shoulder at her, he asked: "Are you ready?"


"Then hang on to me," he warned. "I like to go fast."

She wrapped her arms around his middle section and pulled closer. "Please don't go too fast," she pleaded. "It scares me."

He chuckled. "If I go fast, you might hang onto me that much tighter." He started the motor of the snowmobile, revving the engine loudly to emphasize his words.

She blushed behind him, not missing the meaning of his statement. As he took off, she did indeed hang on tighter. She rested her cheek on the side of his arm and watched the direction he was taking.

He propelled the snowmobile behind the mansion and started climbing a hill behind the house. He revved the motor again and picked up speed. Shannon squealed and hung on closer to him. She felt the vibration of laughter in his body.

She was exhilarated, the clean, fresh air overwhelming her senses. The sky was blue and clear, the sun shining brightly over the entire estate. Despite the cold, Shannon felt warm inside. Warm and content. It seemed whenever she was around Scott she felt secure. He was self-assured and confident, so he made her feel that way, too. His consideration and kindness toward her made her heart flutter. Whenever he stared at her with his sleepy hazel eyes, her knees went weak, almost like jelly.

Her thoughts continued to wander as the snowmobile labored up the hill. She had to be cautious about her burgeoning feelings, she warned herself. She once felt the same way about Michael Sullivan and David Bonham. And look where they were now. The thought chilled Shannon to the bone. Was that to be the pattern of all her relationships with men? One goes insane and kills the other one? What could befall the next person she cared for? Would the next one be Scott Page? The prospect did not displease Shannon, much to her surprise.

But she was not being fair to herself or Scott. He was different. He was nothing like Mike or David. He was stronger than either of them, perhaps because he was older or maybe because he was such a perfectionist in so many ways. He had a certain magic about him. He was dedicated to his work, often so absorbed in his profession that nothing else existed in his mind. Shannon smiled wryly. She knew she was much the same way.

However, when work was over, Scott completely changed. It was then Shannon noticed he focused most of his attention on her. She wondered if it was indeed because he never went out and saw other women. Was she just a convenience for the time being? The thought nagged her. What right did she have to expect anything else? She had no claim on him, although he fascinated her. Putting such complex issues from her mind for the moment, she decided to enjoy each day as it came, no more and no less.

Scott parked the snowmobile on the hill overlooking the estate. He shut the motor off and stepped to the ground. He turned to her. "It's beautiful up here," he told her.

Shannon, her cheeks a rosy red from the cold, agreed. "It seems farther away than it actually is." She stood up and stepped onto the crunchy snow. Rubbing her nose, she laughed. "But my face is numb."

He pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket and offered one to her. They stood together, looking at the view from the hill. She saw smoke billowing out of the many chimneys at the mansion. Beyond that, to the right and much farther away and harder to view was the city of Larkin.

She tossed her half-smoked cigarette to the ground. Glancing at Scott, she asked: "Are you ready for some exercise?"

He looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"

Grinning, she reached over and snatched the wool hat from his head. With a gleeful shriek, she took off running toward the opposite end of the hill.

With a good natured oath, Scott started after her. "Come back kitten," he shouted without thinking. "I'll make you regret this."

"Kitten?" he thought to himself. "Where did that come from? I must have been thinking it all along, because it fits her: my little, sweet, sometimes viscous kitten."

Shannon laughed over her shoulder and continued running. All of a sudden, she was grabbed from behind and whirled around. The movement caught her off guard and she fell back, landing in the snow. Scott fell on top of her with a thud, taking her breath away.

Both of them were laughing uncontrollably. Scott jerked Shannon's ski hat off of her head. Her ebony tresses fell about her in the snow. He grabbed a handful of the mass and brought it to his face, inhaling deeply, his eyes on her.

"Your hair smells wonderful," he said in a low tone. The laughter left both of them. Now they were serious, staring at one another intently, as if frozen in time. She was acutely aware of him on top of her, although with all the clothes between them it was impossible to feel the hard leanness of his body. Her breathing became shallow as she stared at him. She simply could not will herself to move away.

"I've wanted to hold your hair to my face for a long time," he said hoarsely, his eyes unflinchingly on her.

"Have you really?" she whispered, watching him inhale the fragrance of her hair.

He nodded gravely. Then he dropped her hair back into the snow. Reaching up, he ran his hand gently over her mouth and chin, tracing his finger to her cheeks, nose and eyes. She remained still, unable to move. She felt an incredible burning in the pit of her stomach, like a dozen butterflies were fluttering around inside her. It was pleasurable and painful at the same time. Her heart started to beat faster, making her light-headed and weak.

"You know I'm going to kiss you, don't you?" he asked softly.

She nodded slowly, unable to reply. Her mouth felt leaden, almost frozen in anticipation.

He bent his head down and began kissing her, very gently at first, almost as if he were testing her reaction to him. Feeling her acceptance, he pulled her closer, his hands in her hair. His mouth seared her, burning hotly as his tongue met hers. She closed her eyes and abandoned her will. She wrapped her arms around his neck, responding with all the passion she felt for him. She had a sense of being lost, of floating in a misty place, but Scott was holding her tight. The security he provoked in her was warm and overpowering. He was there, and so strong. She could smell his male scent, clean and appealing, and entirely his own. She ran her hands through his hair, wanting to touch him, wanting to know how he felt . . . . . .

Scott was gradually losing his self-control. Shannon's eager response took him aback at first. He didn’t expect her to welcome him so passionately. Her mouth was warm, her tongue soft and caressing. He sensed all his energy draining away. This was too incredible, even for him . . . he heard a roaring in his ears. Annoyed, he reluctantly pulled his face away from Shannon's, her kiss branded on his mouth. He stared down at her, his sleepy eyes glazed alight with bright flames. Her mouth was red and swollen from their kissing. She returned his gaze steadily, without reservation.

"I think someone is about to join us," she said at length, her voice trembling.

Scott groaned. "Damn them to hell, whoever it is!"

She giggled. "We'd better get up. It could be my father or brother, or worse, my cousins Kevin and Liam."

Slowly, Scott pulled himself up, not able to tear his eyes away from her. Offering her his hand, Shannon took hold and stood up, brushing the snow from her backside.

"Don't hide your hair under the hat," he said urgently.

"Okay," she replied uncertainly, pulling the cap over her head but leaving the black tresses falling to her waist. Taking her hand, Scott led her back to the snowmobile.

Peering down the hill, she said: "I think it's Sean."

Scott growled. "He has a habit of interrupting us, doesn't he?"

She looked at him, but he was smiling. He still had a hold of her hand. Now he pulled her toward him until her face was only an inch away from his. "You're beautiful, Shannon," he said huskily. "You're a witch who has cast a spell on me." He kissed her quickly but gently on the lips.

She laughed nervously, moving away from him. He was too intent on her, and it was beginning to scare her. Trying to adopt a light tone, she quipped: "Witch, am I? I thought I heard you call me kitten. So, which is it, Page? Witch or kitten?"

He lightened. "You're both, I think," he teased her. "You've been sent to test my masculine control."

"Is that so?" she retorted, eyes twinkling. "Masculine control, is it?"

He nodded. "Yes, kitten, very masculine."

Shannon blushed at his suggested meaning. "Well," she said, looking at him innocently. "I'm just a poor little kitten teenager being pursued by a dirty old man. I haven't done a darn thing."

He rolled his eyes comically. "You haven't done anything intentionally, no." He paused, his eyes holding a far away, almost sad expression. "I have to admit it's my fault. You've crept up on me, woman."

He sounded so serious. "How have I crept up on you?" she wanted to know.

Scott tried to evade her question. "It's nothing, really. I think the cold air has gone to my head."

Shannon had no chance to pursue the subject as Sean roared over the top of the hill and came to a stop next to them. After he turned off the snowmobile, he removed his leather gloves and ski shades.

"Sorry if I'm butting in," he said cheerfully, looking at his sister.

"You're not," she said quickly.

"Yeah, I'll bet," Sean said with a hint of amusement in his voice. "I drove all the way up here to tell you I'm going into Larkin City to get Marianne for the party. Would you like me to pick up Dana while I'm in town?"

"Oh, would you, Sean? I'd really appreciate it," Shannon said, trying to make her voice sound casual.

Apparently, her attempt to sound normal failed. Sean looked at her with a gleam in his eyes. "Okay, I'll pick her up," he said. "I should be back home around five o'clock. Hold the drinks for me." He started the snowmobile. Winking at his twin, he shouted over the motor: "Carry on!"

Shannon watched him roar off down the hill. Turning to Scott, she noticed he was again staring at her in his intent fashion but was also looking sheepish.

"I'm sorry," he said with difficulty. "If I offended you earlier by kissing you . . .”

"Is that what you think? That I was offended?" she demanded.

He shrugged. "I'm not sure. Whether you realize it or not, you're a very hard person to read."

She walked over to him and took his hand. "I was not offended," she assured him softly. "I kissed you back, didn't I? I'm not sorry in the least."

Scott smiled, slightly embarrassed. "I'm glad. I'm not really sorry, either. See what you've done to me?" Inside, he was a quivering mass although he did well to hide it from her. Her affect on him was astounding. He made her feel like a clumsy school boy on his first date. Strangely, the thought did not irritate him in the least.

"Oh bother," she said. "I'm just a punk kid. A kitten, you said. I don't do anything to you." Tugging at his hands, she suggested: "Let's go back to the house and get something warm to drink."

"Okay, okay," he replied, light-hearted again. "But you do the fixing."

She smiled broadly. "I'll be glad to."

The ride down the hill was uneventful. Scott maneuvered the snowmobile into the garage. He parked alongside Sean's snow vehicle, which rested between the estate pick-up truck and the wall of the garage. After Scott shut off the motor, she stepped gingerly to the ground. She flattened herself against the truck to make room for him to pass by. Instead of going past her, he sandwiched himself between Shannon and the snowmobile. His body was against hers, his knees pinned to her thighs.

She drew in her breath, looking at him. He appeared to be serious, his face like granite stone, his eyes wide and staring into hers. Suddenly, a moan escaped his lips, and he buried his face into her hair, his hands grasping her hips.

She wrapped her arms around him. He raised his head, looking at her in wonder. He started kissing her again, this time roughly. She reveled in it, but in the back of her mind she was becoming frightened. "Oh, Shannon, Shannon," he mumbled into her lips, pulling her hard against him, his mouth penetrating hers savagely.

Suddenly, she pushed away from him. In a breathless voice, she pleaded: "Enough, Scott. I can't handle . . . I mean, it's too much for me to take in at the moment. I've never felt anyone desire me the way you do. It's so . . . overwhelming."

He apologized at once. "I know, Shannon. I lost my head for a minute." He straightened himself. "It's just . . . you have to realize I find you very desirable. I'm a man, and it's not easy." Faltering, he cleared his throat. "I'm sorry."

She touched his face with her hand. "You have nothing to be sorry for, Scott. I'm just not ready for all of this. You overwhelm me. I'm trying very hard to understand what's happening, but it hasn't come to me yet. I'm a bit confused. I honestly don't have the slightest notion how to go about this . . ."

He smiled softly. "Don't worry, Shannon. I'm a very patient man. I'm not some kid out for a bit of fun, I'm a man. Just do what you have to do until you're comfortable. That's all that matters."

She sighed with relief. He was so understanding, so mature, so unlike anyone she had ever met. Putting a cheerful smile back on her face, she said: "How about that hot drink?"

"That sound good," he said warmly. "Let's go."

She followed him out of the garage. As they started walking toward the house, Shannon noticed he was keeping a safe distance from her. With a playful smile, she reached over and grabbed his hand.

"Hand holding isn't so mind-boggling," she told him teasingly. "Do you mind?"

He gazed at her softly. "Not at all, kitten, not at all."


THE TWAIN SHALL MEET ©2012-16 Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

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