“If you change your mind, here’s this.” Finn Lanigan kissed a young Blythe Heywood one last time under an Idaho star-scattered sky. Then she left, returning to her fiancé and the wedding she’d committed to. It was the last kiss that ever weakened her knees, the last sky she noticed for over a dozen years.
Thirteen years later, newly divorced, she finds the forgotten slip of paper in the back of drawer.
Finn Lanigan – 208-555-2004
She’d tossed it years before, hadn’t she? Surely she had, in one of the moments that first year of marriage when her loyalty was resolute. Apparently not. Here it lived. Her temptation. Her road not taken.
Facing three weeks without her young daughters, she sets out to find the man she left behind so long ago. With only the name of the small town where he once lived, Peregrine, Idaho, and the memory of their last kiss under a starry sky, she heads across the Pacific Northwest in search of him.
What she finds in the foothills of Blue Mountain and the tiny town of Peregrine changes her life forever. But it is her destiny and destinies cannot be denied.
The first book of the Lanigan Clan Collection, laced with Thompson’s complex and diverse characters, “Blue Midnight” is a mature love story about second chances, family and the complexities of trust and vulnerability after betrayal.
I found it at the very back of my bedside table drawer, next to a forgotten bottle of nail polish. I’d forgotten to empty the drawers in preparation for the movers that morning and was doing so now, shoving most of the neglected or forsaken contents into trash bags. But this scrap of paper, it stopped me. Shaped like a duck’s beak and wedged between the bottom of the drawer and the back panel, with just its tip exposed, it wasn’t enough, really, to indicate something of any significance. But I knew. I knew in an instant. I stood motionless, taking in every jagged detail. Then, I tugged; it came loose easily. This small slip of paper with a man’s name and number scrawled in blue ink seemed benign enough. Finn Lanigan 208-555-2004. And yet, the pulse at my neck quickened. Heat traveled from my center to every limb. I sank on molten legs to the stripped mattress. I held this scrap of paper, torn from a bar receipt, between damp fingers and stared at it like the ghost it was.
I’d tossed it years before, hadn’t I? Surely I had, in one of my moments that first year of marriage when my loyalty was resolute. Hadn’t I disposed of it when I embraced my choice? Apparently not. Here it lived. My temptation. My road not taken.
My daughters’ voices floated up the winding staircase from where they chased one another like wanton puppies in the now nearly empty 4,500 square feet of custom floors, intricate finish work, and marble countertops. I went to the window that faced the street and looked out onto our neighborhood park, empty this morning of children. Today was the first day of summer vacation and children and their mothers were sleeping late. How many hours of my life had I spent in that park, pushing my babies in swings, chasing after them as toddlers, and, when they were old enough to climb the play structures by themselves, chatting with other mothers about this milestone or that? The hours could not be calculated, of course, nor the wages lost by choosing to stay at home with my children instead of continuing my career.
The windows were open to let the fresh June air cleanse away all remnants of the scents of my family before the new owners claimed it with their own smells. Outside, the movers shouted to one another as they loaded the family room couch into the moving truck. My neighbor from two doors down walked by the truck, her eyes averted. Her manicured hands grasped the leash of her Labradoodle. She couldn’t look. It was easier to pretend the collective nightmare for almost every woman in our affluent Seattle neighborhood had not happened to someone in their circle, someone with whom they exercised, had dinner parties, and volunteered at private school. Someone they liked. A stay-at-home mom, almost forty-five, left by her husband for another woman and forced to leave her beautiful home and sought-after neighborhood. I was everyone’s worst-case scenario.
My eyes went back to the slip of paper in my hand.
If you change your mind, here’s this. Then he’d kissed me one last time under an Idaho star-scattered sky larger than any other. After the kiss I wished would last forever ended, as all good things must, I turned away, back to the life I’d agreed to, the wedding I’d committed to. It was the last kiss that ever weakened my knees, the last sky I noticed for thirteen years.
Now, Clementine, my seven-year-old, pounded up the stairs, followed by the tip-tap of her older sister Lola in her flip-flops. I shoved the slip of paper in the pocket of my shorts. I couldn’t know then why I didn’t just toss it in the garbage like I had so many memories and possessions in the weeks preceding. I know now. It was my destiny, and destinies cannot be denied.
Tess Thompson is a novelist and playwright with a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. In 2011 she released her first novel, Riversong, which subsequently became a best seller.
Like her main character in the Legley Bay collection, Tess is from a small town in Oregon. She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters, Emerson and Ella, and their puppy Patches. She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window.
Tess is working on her next novel and regularly blogs about her journey as a mother, author and friend at http://www.tesswrites.com.
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