Thanks, Peggy for having me on your blog today. Tucson Moon is my new release, a book that nearly wrote itself. I had the characters from my earlier book, Arizona Sunset, now it was thinking about what was going to happen to them. I began with my heroine, Priscilla Wesley’s visit to psychic, relying on some of my own experiences from some years back when I visited several and for some of Priscilla’s reasons.
Just for fun when I got to the part of the psychic, Connie Sicilla, doing a Tarot reading for Priscilla, I used my own deck to see what I would get for this young woman. The reading came out perfectly for the story that was about to unfold. Because my deck and images were not available in 1886, but many seers made their own decks as well as used regular playing cards, I left what images Connie saw out of the reading but used what they meant. Tarot is a fascinating subject but it’s only the beginning of what Priscilla is about to learn as she is tested in many ways during a turbulent time in Southern Arizona.
In 1886, Arizona territory was undergoing significant change. None would be more tested than Priscilla Wesley, who has had a life of prestige and wealth. Her parents are off on a vacation to the East while she maintains the businesses, helps many in the community, and is trying to get rid of Martin Matthews, a persistent wanta-be suitor whom she at one time encouraged, much to her regret. Visiting a recommended psychic doesn’t appear to help so much as give her more questions.
Every time she runs into the too handsome U.S Deputy Marshal Cord O’Brian she finds him annoying and they bicker, which is hiding the real attraction they share knowing it’s an impossible match. Priscilla wants nothing to do with a man who makes his living by a gun. Cord has no interest in a spoiled, rich young woman.
A letter arrives for Cord telling him that his nine-year old daughter is on a train west and will soon be in Tucson. Cord is not prepared to be a father, had thought he did the right thing letting Grace live with his wife’s parents after she died in childbirth, but they hated him and had done all they could to turn Grace against him. Now here she is on the train platform but fortunately so is Priscilla who, taking in the situation, once again offers to help someone. Grace can stay in her big home where she has two employees to keep things running smoothly while Cord visits, and father and daughter become acquainted with no pressure.
The Christmas season, proximity, and love work their magic; but will it be enough when the barriers are very real and even more when a cunning enemy awaits? Political consequences of the time, danger, relationships, nature, the meaning of family, and a smidgen of the mystical are aspects of this book bringing forward characters from Arizona Sunset to provide yet more answers regarding another family.
Excerpt as friends and family gather to decorate the tree:
With dinner over, dessert consumed, Priscilla said, “Now it’s time to work for your supper, isn’t it, Grace?”
The little girl nodded with a big smile as they headed into the parlor where the beautiful pine stood proudly in one corner. “We made chains today,” she offered with one of the rare times she ventured anything without being asked.
“We did. And now we can string some popcorn,” Rose suggested as she brought a big bowl into the table now in the center of the room.
Priscilla looked up at the tree and then picked up a golden star. “Marshal, you are the tallest man here-- as such it’s your job to put up the star.”
He looked at the delicate crystal star a little dubiously but could see it had a hole at its base and wire that looked as though if attached to the top of the tree, it’d stay; so he nodded his agreement. Reaching up, he found he was just tall enough to set it in place.
When he stepped back, he turned to Priscilla. “How do you usually do it? As I remember your father, he’s not all that tall a man.”
“When I was little, he lifted me to do it. When I got too big and he got too old for that, a chair sufficed.” She grinned at him.
“You did it beautifully,” Melissa said standing at Cord’s other side. “It’s perfectly straight.”
Priscilla glanced over at her realizing Melissa was mesmerized by the marshal. She wondered if that had been a long going fascination or just from that night. She didn’t recall ever seeing her with a beau. Maybe she was standing beside the reason.
Ellen had come to the other side of Melissa. “I think it’s a little crooked myself.” She smiled smugly but stopped grinning when Cord picked her up by the waist, lifted her easily into the air and said, “Fix it.”
Everyone laughed, but Ellen was a good sport and tilted it slightly to the right assuring herself it was as straight as the top allowed.
As the women set about putting up ornaments, the men gathered at the sideboard with brandy where James poured them each a small glass.
Joe stood by Cord studying his face. “You figured it out yet?” Cord asked made uneasy at the close observation.
“What’s bothering you? The ruthless lawman look not a good subject for a painting?” Cord asked with a laugh and wishing for a cigar.
“Hanging out with the men I do, you know that’s not it. It’s… Where do you come from, Marshal?”
“A bit of a prying question, Mr. Fox. Out here men aren’t usually asked from where they originate,” the Judge said as he was listening to their conversation. “It can lead to unpleasantness.”
“I have no secrets,” Cord said. “I was born in Kansas. I’ve lived a few other places but not for long enough to count.”
“Seeings as how you didn’t punch me out for that… How old are you?”
“Is there a reason for this inquisition?” Cord asked. “I can guarantee you there are no warrants out for me. Can you say the same?”
Joe chuckled. “None that I know of. Just… you look a lot like somebody, and I was trying to figure out if there could be a relationship.”
Priscilla had come to join them and looked from Joe to the marshal. “Who is it, Joe?” she asked realizing she already knew.
“Sam, of course. I’ve done his face so many times. Drawn him. Now painted him. The bone structure, eyes. Not so much the mouth but the rest, coloring. You two could be brothers.”
“That’s not possible. I don’t have any brothers,” Cord said not liking anything about this conversation.
“Well then just one of those things,” Joe said letting it go.
Reluctantly, Cord began to put a few things together himself. He was thirty-two. It was obvious Sam Ryker was a few years older. They did share coloring now that he thought about it. It wasn’t possible; and then he thought about his own father’s lifestyle, how it had been before and even after he’d married. He had never thought much about from where Sam Ryker had come. The name… He stopped, not wanting to take the thinking farther. It was impossible.
“I’m sorry, Marshal,” Joe said. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. It’s just the way of an artist, I guess. Putting together pieces.”
Cord managed a smile. “I thought that was the way of a marshal.” He sipped on the brandy wishing it was something stiffer.
Priscilla put her hand on his arm. “Actually I do have something stronger if any of you gentlemen would prefer. Father had some whiskey in the cabinet. I am sure he’d not mind.”
He looked uneasily at her wondering if she was a mind reader, not a good thought. He shook his head. “No, I’m fine.”
He watched with pleasure at his daughter stringing popcorn with Ellen’s help. He wished he found it easy to say the words to her that he knew fathers said to their daughters. Actually he knew none of that other than what he’d read in books. The idyllic version of fatherhood hadn’t been part of his life except in fiction. It looked as though it was something he and his daughter shared. Maybe he could change that—if he could figure out how. It seemed unlikely as long as he was a marshal.
“Have you met our Territory’s new United States Marshal yet?” Judge Emerson asked as he moved to stand next to Cord.
“Only by reputation.”
“It’s a long way from a good system with marshals being replaced with every new administration. Perhaps you should consider becoming Tucson’s sheriff with a little more job stability. You know we don’t have one worth talking about right now.”
That involves politics which I hate.”
“Can you ignore politics given the nature of things?”
Cord shrugged. “More than Meade.”
“You like him?”
“I don’t know him but he sounds like a good man. He has the experience. He won’t be as disliked asTidball.”
“Life is all politics, of course. Meade will offend someone and then it’ll start all over if he even makes it to the next administration.” The Judge chuckled. “Shall we discuss this outside with a cigar?”
Cord grinned. “It’s pretty cold out there.”
“Gentlemen,” Priscilla said, “my father smoked in the den. Please feel free to do likewise. Better than freezing.”
Cord realized then she had been listening to the conversation, which surprised him. He had expected her to find shopping more of interest than state and city politics.
“We aren’t all frivolous flowers, Marshal,” she said tartly telling him his expression had again revealed too much as she turned back to helping attach ornaments with Melissa.
Video discussion of writing Tucson Moon:
You can find me at these sites. Please come and visit.
Rain Trueax blog: http://raintrueax.blogspot.com
Trailers to all of my books: http://rainydaytrailers.blogspot.com/
Amazon Central with profile and my books: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006UX64X8
Twitter: Rain Trueax@RainTrueax