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 Three

July 1970

Larkin City, Maine


MIKE LOOKED ABSOLUTELY STRIKING that night. He wore tight fitting dark-blue dress slacks, and a light blue silk shirt that clung to his rib cage. He had on beige boots. His hair was freshly shampooed, and fell feathery light to his collar.

He waited for Shannon in front of the Coven. It was still raining, so he hovered under the front doorway alcove, shivering slightly, gathering his waist length windbreaker towards his body tightly.

Shannon drove up presently. She quickly alighted from the car and hurried toward him. "Hi," she exclaimed happily, kissing him on the mouth. He pulled her closer and buried his face into her hair.

"I've missed you," he said softly.

She looked up at him. "Didn't you bring any clothes with you?"

He nodded, reaching down to the ground and picking up a small overnight bag. "Yeah, I did. But I'm hoping I won't need any clothes tonight."

"You're a devil, Mike," Shannon teased him. "Come on, let's go inside and warm up for awhile."

They entered the Coven. Shannon's cousin Kevin discreetly seated them at a booth in the rear of the club. As soon as they sat down, Mike grabbed Shannon's hand underneath the table. "Can we get a beer?" he asked. "I've never tasted one before."

"Sure," she smiled at him. "You wait here and I'll go talk to Kevin."

Shannon walked up to the farthest corner of the lounge and motioned Kevin over from the bar. Kevin looked very much like his brother Liam, except Kevin was much taller, bulkier and kept his hair several inches longer. He also lived at the mansion. He worked full-time at the lumber yard, but spent his Saturday and Sunday evenings at the Coven.

"Can we have two beers?" Shannon finally whispered into his ear.

Kevin grinned "What are you doing? Are you trying to corrupt that boy? How old is he, for God's sake?"

"Please, Kevin," she pleaded.

"Okay, okay," he conceded laughingly. "And here I thought I was the despoiler of our clan. Be damned careful. I'm taking a chance now as it is." He paused, glancing around the bar. "Wait a minute. Do you know where the employee break room is? Why don't the two of you go in there instead of sitting out in the open? There is some beer in the fridge, I think. That way you can have privacy and I won't be so nervous about having two children inside the bar."

"Thank you, you're so sweet," Shannon kissed him on the cheek.

Kevin snorted. "Just take it easy on the poor guy. Now go on with you. And while you're at it, leave by the back door when you go."

Shannon nodded happily and made her way back to Mike. His eyes lit up when he saw her approaching. She sat next to him and explained what Kevin told her.

Mike kissed her on the cheek. "Let's go to the break room then."

After they made their way through the bar, and into a rather dim, deserted break room, Shannon opened the small fridge door and hunted for the beer. Mike sat down at a kitchen table situated in the center of the room. There was also a couch against one wall, and several more chairs.

"I found it," Shannon announced. She brought over two frosty cans of beer and handed one to Mike. She sat down next to him. He opened his can and took a sip, a grimace coming to his face.

She laughed. "What's the matter? Don't you like it?"

He tasted it again, shrugging. "It’s okay I suppose, but nothing great, though. It smells like cow piss. Can I try one of your cigarettes now?"

Her eyes widened. "Are you sure? You're too . . ."

"Don't tell me I'm too young," he said irritably. "You're only five years older than me, and you smoke."

She handed him a cigarette without another word. He grabbed her matches and lit it.  Instantly, he went into a spasm of coughing. "Yecchhhh!" He spat, crushing the cigarette out in the ashtray. "That was awful. How can you smoke this crap every day?"

"Good for you," she said. "I wish I felt the same way. You'll be better off not taking up the habit."

He continued to sip his beer, growing used to its taste, gazing warmly at her.

"You'd better go easy on that stuff," she warned him. "I have some wine waiting for us back in my room."

"So?" Mike grinned. "It won't stop me." He scooted his chair closer to hers. "How can you manage to sneak me into your house just like that?"

Shannon sipped her beer, and took his hand. "Well, my house isn't like your place. The mansion has about eighty rooms, four stories, a cellar and an attic. It's very large, to say the least. All of the adults are usually in bed by eleven. My cousins, my brother and I . . . we sort of cover for one another."

"Eighty rooms," Mike said in awe. "I've heard about that, you know, I hear people talking about it locally, but it's for real? How do you manage to keep it clean? Don't you have to hire help?"

"No," she answered him. "We all pitch in. I'm assigned certain areas of the house that I keep clean regularly, and I do my own laundry. My brother Sean has made a full time job out of keeping up the grounds, and repairs to the house when needed. A few years ago, we all set aside a week and repainted the second floor bedrooms together. We do have a cook and she's been with the family for twenty years. She lives at the estate."

He shook his head. "I find it hard to imagine."

She looked at her wristwatch. "It's only quarter to eleven. Let's wait another ten minutes and then go."

He leaned back in his chair, gazing at her thoughtfully. She stared back, smiling. How was it he had the ability – like no other - to make her feel weak and unsettled inside?

"I have dreams about us all of the time," Mike said, his voice soft. "I dream that we live together in a little house in Larkin. We sleep in the same bed. I always imagine us sleeping without any clothes. We make love before we go to sleep, and when we wake up." He leaned forward, his eyes boring intently into hers. "Do you think that will ever happen, Shan?"

She felt a wave of panic assail her. He was looking at her too intently, almost as if he wanted to devour her. "It could happen," she managed to say. "Maybe. Who knows? We have a lot of time, Mike. We're both very young."

"I know," he started to blush, groping for words. "I can't seem to remember what it was like before I met you. I honestly can't. Everything was so dull before. I never want to be without you."

 "No, Mike," she said, alarmed by his words. "Please don't place your entire existence on me, or on our time together. I admit, I do think about you a lot, but I have other things in my life, too. You've got to have more than just me. I cannot - and will not - be everything for you. No one can carry a load like that."

"I don't want anything else in my life, nothing else interests me," he insisted, unmoving. "I don't care about anything else. Don't you understand?"

Shannon sighed. There was no use in trying to convince him of anything tonight. Hopefully, in time, his preoccupation with her would wane. But she wouldn’t worry about that now. She did not want to mar their first evening together. She grabbed his hand. "Come on, let's go to my house."

It was still pouring rain when they went outside to her car. Hurriedly they slid into the vehicle and slammed the doors shut. As soon as Shannon pulled away from the Coven, Mike spoke up: "How long can I stay in your room? All night?"

"Until dawn," she answered him. "My Dad is coming in from Ireland at about two in the morning, but I’ll sneak you out."

He laughed. "I forgot to tell you, my Mom asked me a lot of questions about you."

"Like what?"

"She wanted to know if we're just friends."

"And what did you tell her?"

"I told her we were just friends, but then she said she could tell I was crazy about you. She said you seemed very nice and she liked you, but she thinks I'm too young for a romantic relationship."

“She's right, you know," Shannon teased. "You may meet someone in school this year that you like better than me."

"I doubt that," he said firmly. Then he asked: "Have you told your mom about me?"

"Yes.  I told her I’d introduce you to her someday."

He grinned. "I like that. It means you must be sort of serious about me, at least."

As they approached the mansion, Shannon tensed. The time had finally come. It was just over two weeks since she first met Mike, and none of her strong feelings for him had waned. She was completely attracted to him, it was unexplainable. His perfect looks had something to do with it, of course: he was physically beautiful, not one outward flaw. She could not believe it was love, nor was it just lust for that matter. She felt very protective of him. All she knew for certain was that she wanted to know him; she had to be one with him. Maybe then her true feelings would become clear.

After Shannon parked in the garage, she and Mike made a dash for the back door of the mansion, which opened into the kitchen. She told him the back door was always left unlocked at night, in case someone returned home late without a key.

"Isn't it dangerous to leave doors unlocked?" he questioned her.

"Not really. We don't exactly broadcast the fact we leave the back door unlocked."

Until now.

The kitchen was mercifully deserted. A night light burned dimly overhead the stove. Shannon shut the back door gently as Mike whispered: "My God, your kitchen is as big as our entire house."

She grabbed him by the arm. "Quiet . . . Now come this way. One of these days I'll show you the whole place in daylight, but for now let's get upstairs."

She led him out of the kitchen and into a dim, walnut-paneled corridor. After several seconds, they came into the front foyer. A lamp burned brightly by the front door, but everything else was dark and quiet.

"Is everyone in bed?" Mike asked in a low voice.

She nodded. "It seems so."

"I'd like to be in bed, too," he snickered. "Let's hurry up."

They walked up the staircase quietly, and then down the shrouded hallway. Shannon heard voices coming from behind the first door on the right. It was Phoebe's room - someone must be in there with her, talking with her, Shannon thought. She hurried Mike along the corridor and up the next three levels of the house until they finally her room. She opened the door, and then shut it easily after she and Mike scurried inside.

He stood still and looked around in amazement. "My hell, Shan," he said, his voice barely audible. "Is this your room?"

"Yes, it is," she replied. "I even have my own bathroom, although not until just recently. Take your jacket off, you're soaking wet. I'll pour us some wine."

She hurried into the bathroom and dug through the beverage cooler. She brought out a bottle of white wine and retrieved two glasses from the sink counter. She walked back out into the sitting room to find Mike seated on the couch. He had removed his jacket and shoes, and had turned the television set on, the volume turned down low. He smiled brightly when he saw her.

Shannon sat down next to him, placing the glasses and the chilled bottle of wine on the coffee table in front of her. Carefully, she poured them each a glass of wine, and handed Mike his. She set her glass down and lit a cigarette, watching him sip the wine, a slight smile playing about her lips.

She thought how crazy and unreal the situation was. She decided to go with the flow, and let happen what may. Mike was impressionable, and she realized his emotions could turn the whole episode into a potentially dangerous situation. But she felt she could handle whatever happened.

"This wine is a lot better than beer," he told her after he drained his glass and refilled it. "It sort of makes me feel all warm inside."

She laughed. "If you like wine, wait until you graduate to the good stuff: rum, whisky, tequila . ."

"Hard liquor? Do you drink that?"

"Sometimes, but not often. It just gets you loaded faster."

Mike finished his second glass of wine. She watched him drink it quickly, and then she settled back on the couch and lit another cigarette. "Are you having fun, tonight, Mike? Are you glad you came here?" she asked him.

"Oh, yes, Shan," he said as he faced her, kissing her gently on the mouth. "I'm very happy tonight, and I'm glad I came. I've never been happier in my life. I live to see you every day. I'm afraid phone calls just aren't the same. I never dreamed you'd ever like me the way I like you."

"I like you a lot," she told him, being careful with her choice of words. "I have never liked anyone as much as I like you. Even in college. I have never met anyone quite like you."

"Why me?"  he whispered breathlessly, watching her in suspension, as if he expected a divine revelation.

"You’re different from anyone else I’ve ever met," she admitted, touching his cheek with her hand. "Most men use incredibly stupid lines to get a girl. You don't use those lines, because you’re too young to even know what they are. You’re blunt and to the point, very honest. You want me and I want you. There are no games involved."

Mike watched her closely as she spoke. Then he asked her: "Did you have a boyfriend before me?"

She shook her head. "Not really. I dated a few times in college, but there was nothing steady or serious. Besides, none of them were like you."

He kissed her again. "I really do love you. It's not like loving my mom or my sister. It's very different, and it's better. I know I'm young, but I want you. Not just now, but forever. I mean it, Shan."

She felt a combination of thrill and panic at his words. She was made uneasy by his intensity, but at the same time it touched her heart and made her feel warm inside. He meant what he said, she could tell. He meant every word.

"Did you hear me, Shan?" Mike demanded. His voice was starting to sound slurred and uneven. Had he consumed too much wine?

"I hear you, Mike," she replied.

"Good," he gurgled. "Tell me that you love me forever so I can pass out."

"What?" Shannon exclaimed, looking at him.

He made a feeble attempt at laughter again. "I'm sorry, Shannon. I really want to kiss you, among other things."

She leaned towards him. "Really?"

He smiled sloppily, his lips uneven. "Yes, really." He planted his lips on hers, wrapping his arms around her waist. She drew closer to him, responding to his kiss with fervor. Slowly, she pulled away from him.

"Michael," she prodded him gently. "Let's go to the bed."

His eyes were glazed, mere slits on his face. "Let's go," he agreed hoarsely, unsteadily.

He stood up and staggered forward. She grabbed hold of him in a flash, breaking his fall. "Mike, are you okay?" she asked, concerned.

He groaned. "I feel sick to my stomach, Shan. Where’s the bathroom? I think I'm going to throw up."

She led him hurriedly to the bathroom. He stumbled several times, moaning loudly. He barely made it to the toilet before he began to heave violently. She stood over him, stroking his forehead, talking to him soothingly. "You'll be okay, Mike. You'll be okay."

By the time Mike finally finished vomiting, Shannon came to the conclusion that the best thing would be for him to get some sleep. She hid her disappointment.

He eventually stood up from the toilet seat, clutching her arm. "I'm so sorry, Shan," he mumbled in dejection. "I feel so awful. You went to all of this trouble, but I just can't seem to steady myself."

"Be quiet now," she told him gently. "It's all right. You need to get some sleep, and you'll feel better in the morning. We have a lot of time, Mike. There is no use in rushing anything. We'll just make plans for another time. Come on, let's go to the bed and lie down."

He was sound asleep as soon as she tucked him into bed. She gazed down at him for several minutes. She brushed the blond fringe from his forehead, touching his cheek. She thought: "My poor boy, getting sick on his first real date." Maybe it was for the best, she decided. She walked over to the chair by the French doors and sat down, drawing her knees up to her chest. She continued to watch Mike sleeping in her bed.

In a way she was relieved the evening ended as it had. Everything between them happened so fast, and perhaps they weren't ready for the seriousness of a sexual relationship. It was hard to resist Mike in the flesh, but now that he was sleeping it was easy to ponder and judge. Or, deep down, did she know Mike was not the "right" one?

She shuddered. How would she ever know when it was right? After feeling so strongly about Mike, how would she know if the time was right when it finally came? Who could be next after someone as intense as Mike? It dawned on her that in a very short time her interest in Mike had turned into veiled reluctance. Maybe it was a sign. But how would it affect him when he realized she was not ready to sleep with him, that she needed more time? It was what she feared the most - his reaction to her change of heart.

          At length, Shannon rose from the chair and moved toward the bed. She lowered herself next to Mike cautiously as not to wake him. She settled herself on top of the covers, listening to his steady breathing. After she closed her eyes, she managed to fall into an uneasy, broken sleep.



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.