From the bestselling author of Riversong…
Playboy Ciaran Lanigan was the party. Executive Bliss Heywood was the library. When they meet, sparks fly and so begins an uncontrollable attraction that neither is strong enough to escape, regardless that it’s fraught with lies, secrets and family complexities.
But ‘party boy’ Ciaran isn’t everything he appears. Lurking beneath the surface of his charming grin is a man haunted by fears. Are they real or imagined? As he slowly reveals his past, Bliss becomes less and less sure if the man she’s involved with is unstable or truly in danger. Will she learn the truth in time to save him?
Set in the fictional town of Peregrine, Idaho, Blue Moon, the second book in the Blue Mountain Collection features the youngest Lanigan brother, Ciaran. It is both a love story and mystery, with Tess Thompson’s quirky and complex but lovable characters.
Temperatures had dropped the day before to below freezing, icing over highways, streets and sidewalks. This might have been an indication that something dramatic was about to shift in the trajectory of my life, but I couldn’t see clearly back then. Like a racehorse with blinders, shiny and groomed, muscles primed for speed, mind focused and ready, I had no view other than what was right in front of me, striding without hesitation the five blocks from my condominium building to my office. With my figurative blinders on I paid little attention to the weather or anything around me except for the need and subsequent retrieval of my leather gloves that normally spooned happily with my business cards in the side pocket of a Kate Spade purse, both waiting for their usefulness.
After tugging the gloves over my manicured hands, I tucked the cards back into the side pocket. I’d need them later for a cocktail networking event where I would meet hundreds of people I didn’t know and didn’t especially want to know, dressed in various-hued business suits, all the while trying not to cringe when I said my name. Bliss Heywood. Bliss does not sound like the name of a CEO, a shark, a mover and shaker. Bliss is the name of an unfortunate soul born in the early seventies to a hippie mother and spineless father. Like Johnny Cash’s Boy Named Sue, I’ve spent most of my life fighting to prove I am no Bliss.
A gust of cold wind stung my ears and travelled up my skirt, the warmth of the hot yoga class I’d taken before work a distant memory. The streets of downtown Portland were narrow and congested. Buildings made of brick and concrete hinted at a simpler era when this river town was the home of rugged longshoremen working the swift waters of the Willamette. Statues of Portland’s own Beverly Cleary’s characters peppered the sidewalks: Henry and Ramona and Beezuz—all friends from my youth, when I spent a majority of time with my nose in a book. Today, despite the cold, sidewalks bustled with business people in suits and shiny shoes; young adults with piercings, tattoos and unwashed hair waiting for public transit; and mothers pushing strollers while wearing those horribly ugly comfortable leather shoes the women in the Pacific Northwest are so fond of.
I reached my office building and stopped at the foot of the stairs, searching for Sam and Sweetheart. They weren’t in their usual spot. My chest tightened as I scanned the street, suddenly feeling the cold. Had the weather driven them away? Where would they go? Were they hurt? But I needn’t have worried. They were tucked under a blanket just inside the space between the buildings, seeking shelter from the wind, no doubt. I walked toward them, reaching into my purse and pulling out a five-dollar bill from the inner zipper pocket where I kept my “Sam money.” At the beginning of every month I walked into my local bank and asked for enough cash for every business day of the month in five-dollar bills. Not knowing if it would be safe to give it to him all at once, I gave him only five dollars at a time, except for Friday when I gave him enough to carry him through the weekend.
Sam, bearded and dirty, dressed in layers and layers of clothes regardless of the season, lived on the streets with Sweetheart, his three-legged border collie. He carried a tin coffee can with a simple note attached to it: “Sam and Sweetheart.” I wasn’t sure where he went at night, but every morning he was at the steps of my office building with Sweetheart and his can. I wanted to ask him where he slept and how he ate and so many other questions, but it was futile. Sam was mute.
I caught his gaze and smiled before leaning over to pet Sweetheart. And that dog! She never let me down. At the first sight of me, the little black and white furry love machine always ambled onto her three legs and wagged her tail so fiercely it might have knocked over a small child. Today was no different. I scratched behind her ears, taking off one of my gloves so she could lick my fingers, before reaching into my coat pocket for a doggie treat. I had no idea what Sam did with the money I gave him—booze or food. I hoped it was food, of course, for Sweetheart and himself. He certainly never appeared intoxicated or drugged. Sweetheart, when I felt the space near her ribs, seemed perfectly fit.
I know what people would say about this small and perhaps foolish gesture of kindness. I did it to assuage my guilt because I had so much and he had so little. I understand this sentiment, but it wasn’t exactly true. I know some might say, too, that there are better ways to give back, through charity donations and foundations. I understood this to be true, of course, and having come from poverty I gave generously every year to several charities for underprivileged youth and battered women. But this was different. This was personal.
There was Sweetheart, of course. She was special. Anyone could see that. Animals, especially dogs, were much easier for me to be around than people. They seemed to understand what I needed without having to ask. It had been on my list for years to get a dog of my own, but I knew it wouldn’t be fair to them because I traveled frequently. I couldn’t bear thinking of a dog alone for half the month, or worse, stuck in a kennel.
And Sam? Well, the truth is, he reminded me of my late father. Mostly it was his eyes, faded blue and unfocused like he wasn’t sure whether he knew you for a second or two, until several rapid blinks brought recognition.
I leaned over and dropped the money in his can. He put his hand over his heart; the corners of his mouth twitched. This was his way of expressing gratitude. I understood.
Tess Thompson is a novelist and playwright. She has a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California.
After some success as a playwright she decided to write a novel, a dream she’d held since childhood. She began working on her first novel, RIVERSONG while her second daughter was eight months old, writing during naptimes and weekends. She considers it a small miracle and the good-nature of her second child (read: a good napper) that it was ever finished. RIVERSONG was released in April 2011 by Booktrope, a Seattle publisher and subsequently became a #1 Nook book and Kindle best seller. Since then she’s released five additional novels: RIVERBEND, RIVERSTAR, CARAMEL AND MAGNOLIAS, TEA AND PRIMROSES AND BLUE MIDNIGHT.
Like her characters in the RIVER VALLEY COLLECTION, Tess is from a small town in Southern Oregon. She currently lives in Snoqualmie, Washington with her two small daughters where she is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window.
A voracious reader, Tess’s favorite thing to do is to curl up on a rainy afternoon and read a novel. She also enjoys movies, theatre, wine and food. She is fed emotionally by her friends and family and cherishes relationships above all else.
She’s currently in the editing process for her first historical romance called DUET FOR THREE HANDS, which will be released in late February and followed shortly thereafter with the second in the BLUE MOUNTAIN COLLECTION, Blue Moon.