Cover image for Jewels of the sun
Jewels of the sun
Roberts, Nora.
Personal Author:
Jove edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Jove Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
[368] pages ; 18 cm
"Determined to reevaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refuge in Faerie Hill Cottage, immersing herself in the study of Irish folklore and discovering hope for the future of the magical past"
General Note:
Also published by Berkley Books.
Geographic Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Library
Alden Ewell Free Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf
Boston Free Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf
Clarence Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf
Collins Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf
Concord Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Paperback
Lancaster Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf
Audubon Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Open Shelf
Audubon Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Clearfield Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Book One of the Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy

In Gallagher's Pub, where the fire is burning low and the pints are waiting, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts has a story to tell...

Determined to reevaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refuge in Faerie Hill Cottage, immersing herself in the study of Irish folklore and discovering hope for the future of the magical past.

Finally back home in Ireland after years of traveling, Aidan Gallagher possesses an uncommon understanding of his country's haunting myths. Although he's devoted to managing the family pub, a hint of wildness still glints in his eyes--and in Jude, he sees a woman who can both soothe his heart and stir his blood. And he begins to share the legends of the land with her--while they create a passionate history of their own.

Don't miss the other books in the Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy
Tears of the Moon
Heart of the Sea

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Author Notes

Nora Roberts was born in Silver Spring, Maryland on October 10, 1950. Her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published in 1981. Since then, she has written more than 200 novels. She writes romances under her own name including Montana Sky, Blue Smoke, Carolina Moon, The Search, Chasing Fire, The Witness, The Perfect Hope, Inner Harbor, Dark Witch, Shadow Spell, The Collector, The Villa, The Liar, and The Obsession. She writes crime novels under the pseudonym of J. D. Robb including the In Death series. She has been given the Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into their Hall of Fame.

(Bowker Author Biography) Nora Roberts is the author of nearly 140 novels, including several #1"New York Times" bestsellers, with more than 106 million copies of her books in print. She lives in Maryland.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the first book of a new trilogy, Roberts takes her readers back to a favorite setting, Ireland, and brings the people and the magic of the country (both figuratively and literally) to life. Jude Murray, recently divorced and in need of solace, resigns her position as a psychology professor in Chicago and goes to Faerie Hill Cottage where her grandmother was raised. She wants to research legends and folktales, not knowing that she is about to become involved in one. The cottage is haunted by a ghost who cries over the love she refused, and both the ghost and her intended, the faerie prince, appear to Jude. Curiously, Jude seems destined to repeat the same mistake with Aidan Gallagher, a pub owner. He tells wonderful stories that help Jude heal, but they seem to have trouble communicating their feelings. Roberts' fans will thrill to these wonderfully drawn characters, their lush setting, and the faerie magic that guarantees an enchanting series. --Patty Engelmann

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her recent romance trilogies, Roberts (Carnal Innocence, etc.) has combined ghosts with lively humor and vivid sensuality. In this first volume of her newest series, Jude Murray, an American psychologist, has come to spend six months at Faerie Hill Cottage on the Irish coast to study Irish folklore and escape her dreary, uneventful life in Chicago. Faerie Hill is haunted by the 300-year-old ghost of Lady Gwen, who turned down the proposal of Carrick, king of the fairies, and is doomed to wander alone until three couples can find happiness. These three will include the engaging Gallagher siblings (Aidan, the eldest, Darcy and Shawn), who operate the local pub. Aidan, who senses the fire beneath Jude's controlled exterior, is smitten with the visiting American. His passion for her draws him away from his responsibilities at the pub as he share with her the lore of the land. Roberts, a storytelling wizard, is at her best here, creating a fantastic setting for the continuing romantic tales of the Gallaghers. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Even the reigning queen of romance novels is entitled to an off book. A superior reading might have endowed this story with the needed depth, but Patricia Daniels was not equal to the task. Jude Murray is in Ireland to escape her life in Chicago and possibly find herself in the bargain; Aidan Gallagher runs his family's pub in Ardmore. He's done his running but beneath the surface is a sense of destiny unfulfilled. Then he meets Jude and understands everything. Unfortunately, Daniels's near monotonic reading makes it difficult to lose oneself in the already fanciful story. Her concentration on proper diction is negated by her giving every word in a sentence equal weight, thus rendering the sentence meaningless. Her Irish accent is better, but with that she loses her diction skills. Despite the popularity of the author, libraries would do well to pass on this one.--Jodi L. Israel, Jamaica Plain, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Dear Reader, Those of you who are familiar with my books know that Ireland is one of my favorite places to visit, in real life and in fiction. It's a country of dramatic cliffs and quiet fields. One of myth and magic and legend. In Jewels of the Sun, I've borrowed from some of those myths and created my own legend. It could have happened. I'd like you to meet the Gallaghers of Ardmore: Aidan, Shawn, and Darcy, who run the local pub in this pretty seaside village in the county of Waterford. Not far from the village is a cottage, a place of magic where a lonely American woman comes to explore her roots and her heart. She won't be alone in the house, for there is another lonely woman in residence. She just happens to be a ghost. With the help of a faerie prince who loved well if not wise, Aidan Gallagher of Ardmore and Jude Frances Murray from Chicago will find their place, and take the first step toward breaking a hundred-year spell. I'd like to take you back to Ireland with me, through the doors of Gallagher's Pub where the fire's burning low and the pints are waiting. I have a story to tell you. Nora Roberts Come away! O, human child! To the woods and waters wild, With a fairy hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. --W. B. YEATS ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT NINE TEN ELEVEN TWELVE THIRTEEN FOURTEEN FIFTEEN SIXTEEN SEVENTEEN EIGHTEEN NINETEEN TWENTY ONE OBVIOUSLY, WITHOUT QUESTION, she'd lost her mind. Being a psychologist, she ought to know. All the signs were there, had been there, hovering and humming around her for months. The edginess, the short temper, the tendency toward daydreaming and forgetfulness. There'd been a lack of motivation, of energy, of purpose. Her parents had commented on it in their mild, you-can-do-better-Jude way. Her colleagues had begun to glance at her, covertly, with quiet pity or unquiet distaste. She'd come to detest her job, resent her students, find a dozen petty faults with her friends and her family, her associates and superiors. Every morning the simple task of getting out of bed to dress for the day's classes had taken on the proportions of scaling a mountain. Worse, a mountain she had absolutely no interest in seeing from a distance, much less climbing. Then there was the rash, impulsive behavior. Oh, yes, that was the final tip-off. Steady-as-she-goes Jude Frances Murray, one of the sturdiest branches on the family tree of the Chicago Murrays, sensible and devoted daughter of Doctors Linda and John K. Murray, quit her job. Not took a sabbatical from the university, not asked for a few weeks' leave, but quit, right in the middle of the semester. Why? She didn't have the faintest idea. It had been as much a shock to her as to the dean, to her associates, to her parents. Had she reacted in this manner two years before when her marriage had shattered? No, indeed. She'd simply continued her routine--her classes, her studies, her appointments--without a hitch, even while shuffling in the lawyers and neatly filing the paperwork that symbolizes the end of a union. Not that there'd been much of a union, or a great deal of hassling for the lawyers to legally sever it. A marriage that had lasted just under eight months didn't generate a great deal of mess or trouble. Or passion. Passion, she supposed was what had been missing. If she'd had any, William wouldn't have left her flat for another woman almost before the flowers in her bridal bouquet had faded. But there was no point in brooding over it at this late date. She was what she was. Or had been what she was, she corrected. God only knew what she was now. Maybe that was part of it, she mused. She'd been on some verge, had looked down at the vast, dark sea of sameness, of monotony, of tedium that was Jude Murray. She'd pinwheeled her arms, scrambled back from the edge--and run screaming away. It was so unlike her. Thinking about it gave her such sharp palpitations she wondered if she might be having a heart attack just to cap things off. AMERICAN COLLEGE PROFESSOR FOUND DEAD IN LEASED VOLVO It would be an odd obituary. Perhaps it would make it into the Irish Times , which her grandmother so loved to read. Her parents would be shocked, of course. It was such an untidy, public, embarrassing kind of death. Completely unsuitable. Naturally, they'd be heartbroken as well, but overall they would be puzzled. What in the world was the girl thinking of, going off to Ireland when she had a thriving career and a lovely condo on the lakeside? They would blame Granny's influence. And, of course, they would be right, as they had been right since the moment she'd been conceived in a very tasteful mating precisely one year after they'd married. Though she didn't care to imagine it, Jude was certain that her parents' lovemaking was always very tasteful and precise. Rather like the well-choreographed and traditional ballets they both so enjoyed. And what was she doing, sitting in a leased Volvo that had its stupid wheel on the stupid wrong side of the car and thinking about her parents having sex? All she could do was press her fingers to her eyes until the image faded away. This, she told herself, was just the sort of thing that happened when you went crazy. She took a deep breath, then another. Oxygen to clear and calm the brain. As she saw it, she now had two choices. She could drag her suitcases out of the car, go inside the Dublin airport and turn the keys back in to the leasing agent with the carrot-red hair and the mile-wide smile, and book a flight home. Of course she had no job, but she could live off her stock portfolio very nicely for quite some time, thank you. She also no longer had a condo, as she'd rented it to that nice couple for the next six months, but if she did go home she could stay with Granny for a while. And Granny would look at her with those beautiful faded blue eyes full of disappointment. Jude, darling, you always get right to the edge of your heart's desire. Why is it you can never take that last step over? "I don't know. I don't know." Miserable, Jude covered her face with her hands and rocked. "It was your idea I come here, not mine. What am I going to do in Faerie Hill Cottage for the next six months? I don't even know how to drive this damn car." She was one sob away from a crying jag. She felt it flood her throat, ring in her ears. Before the first tear could fall, she let her head roll back, squeezed her eyes tight shut, and cursed herself. Crying jags, temper tantrums, sarcasm, and otherwise rude behavior were merely various ways of acting out. She'd been raised to understand it, trained to recognize it. And she would not give in to it. "On to the next stage, Jude, you pathetic idiot. Talking to yourself, crying in Volvos, too indecisive, too goddamn paralyzed to turn on the ignition and just go." She huffed out another breath, straightened her shoulders. "Second choice," she muttered. "Finish what you started." She turned the key and, sending up a little prayer that she wouldn't kill or maim anyone--including herself--on the drive, eased the car out of Park. She sang, mostly to keep herself from screaming every time she came to one of the circles on the highway that the Irish cheerfully called roundabouts. Her brain would fizzle, she'd forget her left from her right, visualize plowing the Volvo into half a dozen innocent bystanders, and belt out whatever tune jumped into her terrified brain. On the route south from Dublin to County Waterford, she shouted show tunes, roared out Irish pub songs, and at a narrow escape outside the town of Carlow, screeched out the chorus of "Brown Sugar" loud enough to make Mick Jagger wince. After that it calmed down a bit. Perhaps the gods of the traveler had been shocked enough by the noise to step back and stop throwing other cars in her path. Maybe it was the influence of the ubiquitous shrines to the Blessed Virgin that populated the roadside. In either case, the driving smoothed out and Jude began, almost, to enjoy herself. Roll after roll of green hills shimmered under sunlight that glowed like the inside of seashells and spread back and back into the shadows of dark mountains. The hulk of them rambled against a sky layered with smoky clouds and pearly light that belonged in paintings rather than reality. Paintings, she thought, as her mind wandered, so beautifully rendered that when you looked at them long enough you felt yourself slipping right into them, melting into the colors and shapes and the scene that some master had created out of his own brilliance. That was what she saw, when she dared take her eyes off the road. Brilliance, and a terrible, stunning beauty that ripped the heart even as it soothed it again. Green, impossibly green, the fields were broken by rambling walls of rough hedges or lines of stunted trees. Spotted cows or shaggy sheep grazed lazily in them, figures on tractors putted over them. Here and there they were dotted with houses of white and cream where clothes flapped on lines and flowers burst with wild and careless color in the dooryards. Then wonderfully, inexplicably, there would be the ancient walls of a ruined abbey, standing proud and broken against the dazzling field and sky as if waiting for its time to come round again. What would you feel, she wondered, if you crossed the field and walked up the smooth and slick steps left standing in those tumbling stones? Would you--could you--feel the centuries of passing feet that had trod those same steps? Would you, as her grandmother claimed, be able to hear--if only you listened--the music and voices, the clash of battles, the weeping of women, the laughter of children so long dead and gone? She didn't believe in such things, of course. But here, with this light, with this air, it seemed almost possible. From the ruined grandeur to the charmingly simple, the land spread out and offered. Thatched roofs, stone crosses, castles, then villages with narrow streets and signs written in Gaelic. Once she saw an old man walking with his dog on the side of the road where the grass grew tall and a little sign warned of loose chippings. Both man and hound wore little brown hats that she found absolutely charming. She kept that picture in her mind a long time, envying them their freedom and the simplicity of their routine. They would walk every day, she imagined. Rain or shine, then go home to tea in some pretty little cottage with a thatched roof and a well-tended garden. The dog would have a little house of his own, but would most usually be found curled at his master's feet by the fire. She wanted to walk those fields with a devoted dog, too. Just to walk and walk until she felt like sitting. Then to sit and sit until she felt like standing. It was a concept that dazzled her. Doing what she wanted when she wanted, at her own pace and in her own way. It was so foreign to her, that simple, everyday freedom. Her great fear was to finally find it, nip the silvered edge of it with her fingertips, then bungle it. As the road wound and ribboned around the coast of Waterford, she caught glimpses and stretches of the sea, blue silk against the horizon, turbulent green and gray as it spewed against a wide, sandy curve of beach. The tension in her shoulders began to slide away. Her hands relaxed a bit on the wheel. This was the Ireland her grandmother had spoken of, the color and drama and peace of it. And this, Jude supposed, is why she'd finally come to see where her roots had dug before being ripped free and replanted across the Atlantic. She was glad now she hadn't balked at the gate and run back to Chicago. Hadn't she managed the best part of the three-and-a-half-hour drive without a single mishap? She wasn't counting the little glitch at that roundabout in Waterford City where she'd ended up circling three times, then nearly bashing into a car full of equally terrified tourists. Everyone had escaped without harm, after all. Now she was nearly there. The signs for the village of Ardmore said so. She knew from the careful map her grandmother had drawn that Ardmore was the closest village to the cottage. That's where she would go for supplies and whatever. Naturally, her grandmother had also given her an impressive list of names, people she was supposed to look up, distant relatives she was to introduce herself to. That, Jude decided, could wait. Imagine, she thought, not having to talk to anyone for several days in a row! Not being asked questions and being expected to know the answers. No making small talk at faculty functions. No schedule that must be adhered to. After one moment of blissful pleasure about the idea, her heart fluttered in panic. What in God's name was she going to do for six months? It didn't have to be six months, she reminded herself as her body tensed up again. It wasn't a law. She wouldn't be arrested in Customs if she went back after six weeks. Or six days. Or six hours, for that matter. And as a psychologist, she should know her biggest problem lay in struggling to live up to expectations. Including her own. Though she accepted that she was much better with theories than action, she was going to change that right now, and for as long as she stayed in Ireland. Calm again, she switched on the radio. The stream of Gaelic that poured out had her goggling, poking at the buttons to find something in English, and taking the turn into Ardmore instead of the road up Tower Hill to her cottage. Then, as soon as she realized her mistake, the heavy skies burst open, as if a giant hand had plunged a knife into their heart. Rain pounded the roof, gushed over her windshield while she tried to find the control for the wipers. She pulled over to the curb and waited while the wipers gaily swished at the rain. The village sat on the southern knob of the county, kissing the Celtic Sea and Ardmore Bay. She could hear the thrash of water against the shore as the storm raged around her, passionate and powerful. Wind shook the windows, whined threateningly in the little pockets where it snuck through. She'd imagined herself strolling through the village, familiarizing herself with it, its pretty cottages, its smoky, crowded pubs, walking the beach her grandmother had spoken of, and the dramatic cliffs, the green fields. But it had been a lovely, sun-washed afternoon, with villagers pushing rosy-cheeked babies in carriages and flirty-eyed men tipping their caps to her. She hadn't imagined a sudden and violent spring storm bringing wild gusts of wind and deserted streets. Maybe no one even lives here , she thought. Maybe it was a kind of Brigadoon and she'd fumbled in during the wrong century. Another problem, she told herself, was an imagination that had to be reeled in with distressing regularity. Of course people lived here, they were just wise enough to get the hell out of the rain. The cottages were pretty, lined up like ladies with flowers at their feet. Flowers, she noted, that were getting a good hard hammering just now. There was no reason she couldn't wait for that lovely sun-washed afternoon to come back down to the village. Now she was tired, had a bit of a tension headache, and just wanted to get inside somewhere warm and cozy. She eased away from the curb and crept along in the rain, petrified that she would miss the turn yet again. She didn't realize she was driving on the wrong side of the road until she narrowly missed a head-on collision. Or, to be perfectly accurate, when the oncoming car missed her by swerving around her and blasting the horn. But she found the right turn, which she reminded herself should have been impossible to miss, given the stone spear of the great round tower that topped the hill. Through the rain it lanced up, guarding the ancient and roofless cathedral of Saint Declan and all the graves, marked with stones that tipped and tilted. For a moment she thought she saw a man there, wearing silver that glinted dully, wetly in the rain. And straining to see, she nearly ran off what there was of a road. Nerves didn't make her sing this time. Her heart was pounding too violently to allow it. Her hands shook as she inched along, trying to see where he was, what he was doing. But there was nothing but the great tower, the ruins, and the dead. Of course there hadn't been anyone there at all, she told herself. No one would stand in a graveyard in the middle of a storm. Her eyes were tired, playing tricks. She just needed to get somewhere warm and dry and catch her breath. When the road narrowed to little more than a muddy track bordered on both sides by man-high hedgerows, she considered herself well lost and hopeless. The car jerked and bumped over ruts while she struggled to find some place to turn around and head back. There was shelter in the village, and surely someone would take pity on a brainless American who couldn't find her way. There was a pretty little stone wall covered with some sort of bramble that would have been picturesque at any other time, then a skinny break that turned out to be someone's excuse for a driveway, but she was too far past it when she realized what it was and was terrified to attempt backing up and maneuvering in the mud. The road climbed, and the ruts became second cousin to ditches. Her nerves were fraying, her teeth clicking audibly as she negotiated another bump, and she seriously considered just stopping where she was and waiting for someone to come along and tow her all the way back to Dublin. She groaned aloud with relief when she saw another break. She turned in with a coat of paint to spare, then simply laid her forehead against the wheel. She was lost, hungry, tired, and had to pee rather desperately. Now she was going to have to get out of the car in the pouring rain and knock on a stranger's door. If she was told the cottage was more than three minutes away, she'd have to beg for the use of a bathroom. Well, the Irish were known for their hospitality, so she doubted that whoever answered the door would turn her away to relieve herself in the hedgerows. Still, she didn't want to appear wild-eyed and frantic. She tipped down the rearview mirror and saw that her eyes, usually a calm and quiet green, were indeed a bit wild. The humidity had frizzed her hair so that it looked as though she had some wild, bark-colored bush on her head. Her skin was dead pale, a combination of anxiety and fatigue, and she didn't have the energy to dig out her makeup and try to repair the worst of it. She tried a friendly smile that did manage to convince the dimples to flutter in her cheeks. Her mouth was a little too wide, she thought, just as her eyes were a little too big, and the attempt was much closer to a grimace than a grin. But it was the best she could do. She grabbed her purse and shoved open the car door to meet the rain. As she did, she caught a movement in the second-story window. Just a flutter of curtain that had her glancing up. The woman wore white and had pale, pale hair that tumbled in lush waves over her shoulders and breasts. Through the gray curtain of rain, their eyes met briefly, no more than an instant, and Jude had the impression of great beauty and great sadness. Then the woman was gone, and there was only the rain. Jude shivered. The windy wet cut clean to the bone, and she sacrificed her dignity by loping to the pretty white gate that opened into a tiny yard made glorious by the rivers of flowers flowing on either side of a narrow white walk. There was no porch, only a stoop, but the second story of the cottage pitched over it and provided much welcome cover. She lifted a brass knocker in the shape of a Celtic knot and rapped it against a rough wooden door that looked thick as a brick and was charmingly arched. While she shivered and tried not to think of her bladder, she scanned what she could from under her shelter. It was like a doll's house, she thought. All soft white with forest-green trim, the many-paned windows flanked by shutters that looked functional as well as decorative. The roof was thatched, a charming wonder to her. A wind chime made up of three columns of bells sang musically. She knocked again, more sharply now. Damn it, I know you're in there, and tossing manners aside, she stepped out in the rain and tried to peer through the front window. Then she leaped back guiltily when she heard the friendly beep-beep of a horn. A rusty red pickup with an engine that purred like a contented cat pulled in behind her car. Jude dragged dripping hair out of her face and prepared to explain herself when the driver popped out. At first she took it to be a trim and tiny man with scarred, muddy boots, a filthy jacket, and worn work pants. But the face that beamed at her from under a dung-brown cap was definitely female. And very nearly gorgeous. Her eyes were as green as the wet hills surrounding them, her skin luminous. Jude saw tendrils of rich red hair tumbling out of the cap as the woman hurried forward, managing to be graceful despite the boots. "You'd be Miss Murray, then. That's fine timing, isn't it?" "It is?" "Well, I'm running a bit behind today, as Mrs. Duffy's grandson Tommy stuffed half his building blocks down the loo again, then flushed away. It was a hell of a mess altogether." "Hmmm," was all Jude could think to say as she wondered why she was standing in the rain talking to a stranger about blocked toilets. "Can't you find your key?" "My key?" "To the front door. Well, I've mine, so we'll get you in and out of the wet." That sounded like a wonderful idea. "Thank you," Jude began as she followed the woman back to the door. "But who are you?" "Oh, I beg your pardon, I'm Brenna O'Toole." Brenna shot out a hand, gripped Jude's and shook briskly. "Your granny told you, didn't she, that I'd have the cottage ready for you?" "My gran--the cottage?" Jude huddled under the overhang. "My cottage? This is my cottage?" "It is, yes, if you're Jude Murray from Chicago." Brenna smiled kindly, though her left brow had arched. "You'll be more than a bit tired by now, I'll wager, after your trip." "Yes." Jude rubbed her hands over her face as Brenna unlocked the door. "And I thought I was lost." "Appears you're found. Ceade mile failte, " she said and stepped back so Jude could enter first. A thousand welcomes, Jude thought. She knew that much Gaelic. And it felt like a thousand when she stepped into the warmth. The foyer, hardly wider than the outside stoop, was flanked on one side by stairs polished by time and traffic. An arched doorway to the right led to the little living area, pretty as a picture with its walls the color of fresh biscuits, honey-toned trim, and lace curtains warmly yellowed with age so that everything in the room looked washed by the sun. The furniture was worn and faded, but cheerful with its blue and white stripes and deep cushions. The gleaning tables were crowded with treasures--bits of crystal, carved figures, miniature bottles. Rugs were scattered colorfully over the wide-planked floor, and the stone fireplace was already laid with what Jude thought must be hunks of peat. It smelled earthy, and of something else faint and floral. "It's charming, isn't it?" Jude pushed at her hair again as she turned a circle. "Like a playhouse." "Old Maude, she liked pretty things." Something in the tone had Jude stopping her circle, to look back at Brenna's face. "I'm sorry, I didn't know her. You were fond of her." "Sure, everyone loved Old Maude. She was a grand lady. She'll be pleased you're here, looking after the place. She wouldn't want it standing alone and empty. Should I show you about, then? So you have your bearings." "I'd appreciate it, but first I'm desperate for the bathroom." Brenna let out a quick laugh. "A long ride from Dublin. There's a little powder room right off the kitchen. My dad and I put it in for her out of a closet only three years back. Straight that way it is." Jude didn't waste any time exploring. "Little" was exactly the word for the half bath. She could have rapped her elbows on the side walls by crooking her arms and lifting them. But the walls were done in a pale, pretty rose, the white porcelain gleamed from fresh scrubbing, and there were sweetly embroidered fingertip towels hung neatly on the rack. One glance in the oval mirror over the sink told Jude that yes, she looked every bit as bad as she'd feared. And though she was of average height and build, beside the fairylike Brenna she felt like a galumphing Amazon. Annoyed with herself for the comparison, she blew her frizzed bangs off her brow and went back out. "Oh, I would have gotten those." Already the efficient Brenna had unloaded her luggage and hauled it into the foyer. "You've got to be ready to drop after your travels. I'll get your things upstairs. I imagine you'll want Old Maude's room, it's pleasant, then we'll put the kettle on so you can have some tea and I'll start your fire. It's a damp day." As she spoke she carried Jude's two enormous suitcases up the stairs as if they were empty. Wishing she'd spent more time in the gym, Jude followed with her tote, her laptop, and her portable printer. Brenna showed her two bedrooms, and she was right--Old Maude's, with its view of the front gardens, was the more pleasant. But Jude got only a hazy impression, for one look at the bed and she succumbed to the jet lag that dropped into her body like a lead weight. She only half listened to the cheerful, lilting voice explain about linens, heat, the vagaries of the tiny fireplace in the bedroom as Brenna set the peat to light. Then she followed as if walking through water as Brenna clattered downstairs to put on tea and show her how the kitchen operated. She heard something about the pantry being freshly stocked and how she should do her marketing at Duffy's in the village when she needed supplies. There was more--stacks of peat outside the back door, as Old Maude had preferred it, but wood as well in case she herself preferred that, and how the telephone had been hooked back up again and how to light the fire in the kitchen stove. "Ah, there, now, you're asleep on your feet." Sympathetic, Brenna pressed a thick blue mug into Jude's hands. "Take that on up with you and have a lie-down. I'll start the fire down here for you." "I'm sorry. I can't seem to focus." "You'll do better after some sleep. My number's here by the phone if you're needing anything. My family's barely a kilometer from here, my mother and dad and four sisters, so if there's anything you need, you've only to call or come by the O'Tooles'." "Yes, I--four sisters!" Brenna laughed again as she led Jude back down the hall. "Well, my dad kept hoping for a boy, but that's the way of it. Surrounded by females, he is, even the dog. Up you go, now." "Thank you so much. Really, I'm not usually so. . . vague." "Well, it's not every day you fly over the ocean now, is it? Do you want anything before I go?" "No, I . . ." She leaned on the banister, blinked. "Oh, I forgot. There was a woman in the house. Where did she go?" "A woman, you say? Where?" "In the window." She swayed, nearly spilled the tea, then shook her head clear. "There was a woman in the window upstairs, looking out when I got here." "Was there now?" "Yes. A blond woman, young, very lovely." "Ah, that would be Lady Gwen." Brenna turned, slipped into the living room, and lit the stack of peat. "She doesn't show herself to just everyone." "Where did she go?" "Oh, she's still here, I imagine." Satisfied that the peat had caught, Brenna rose, brushed off the knees of her trousers. "She's been here three hundred years, give or take. She's your ghost, Miss Murray." "My what?" "Your ghost. But don't trouble yourself about her. She won't be after harming you any. Hers is a sad tale, and a story for another time, when you're not so tired." It was hard to concentrate. Jude's mind wanted to shut down, her body to shut off, but it seemed important to clear up this one point. "You're trying to say the house is haunted?" "Sure and it's haunted. Didn't your granny tell you?" "I don't believe she mentioned it. You're telling me you believe in ghosts." Brenna lifted her brow again. "Well, did you see her or didn't you? There you are," she said when Jude merely frowned. "Have yourself a nap, and if you're up and about later, come on down to Gallagher's Pub and I'll buy you your first pint." Too baffled to concentrate, Jude merely shook her head. "I don't drink beer." "Oh, well now, that's a bloody shame," Brenna said, sounding both shocked and sincere. "Well, good day to you, Miss Murray." "Jude." She murmured it and could do nothing but stare. "Jude, then." Brenna flashed her gorgeous smile and slipped out the door into the rain. Haunted, Jude thought, as she started up the stairs with her head circling lazily several inches over her shoulders. Fanciful Irish nonsense. God knew, her grandmother was full of fairy stories, but that's all they were. Stories. But she'd seen someone . . . hadn't she? No, the rain, the curtains, the shadows. She set down the tea that she'd yet to taste and managed to pull off her shoes. There weren't any ghosts. There was just a pretty house on a charming little hill. And the rain. She fell facedown on the bed, thought about dragging the spread over her, and tumbled into sleep before she could manage it. • • • And when she dreamed, she dreamed of a battle fought on a green hill where the sunlight flashed on swords like jewels, of faeries dancing in the forest where the moonlight lay as tears on the leaves, and of a deep blue sea that beat like a heart against the waiting shore. And through all the dreams, the one constant thing was the sound of a woman's quiet weeping. TWO WHEN JUDE WOKE it was full dark, and the little peat fire had burned down to tiny ruby lights. She stared at them, her eyes bleary with sleep, her heart leaping like a wild stag in her throat as she mistook the embers for watching eyes. Then her memory snapped into place, her mind cleared. She was in Ireland, in the cottage where her grandmother had lived as a girl. And she was freezing. She sat up, rubbing her chilled arms, then fumbled for the bedside lamp. A glance at her watch made her blink, then wince. It was nearly midnight. Her recovery nap had lasted close to twelve hours. And, she discovered, she was not only cold. She was starving as well. She puzzled over the fire a moment. Since it seemed basically out and she didn't have a clue how to get it going again, she left it alone and went down to the kitchen to hunt up food. The house creaked and groaned around her--a homey sound, she told herself, though it made her want to jump and look over her shoulder. It wasn't that she was thinking about, even considering the ghost Brenna had spoken of. She just wasn't particularly used to homey sounds. The floors of her condo didn't creak, and the only red glow she might come across was the security light on her alarm system. But she would get used to her new surroundings. Brenna was as good as her word, Jude discovered. The kitchen was well stocked with food in the doll-size fridge, in the narrow little pantry. She might be cold, she mused, but she wouldn't starve. Her first thought was to open a can of soup and buzz it up in the microwave. So with can in hand, she turned around the kitchen and made a shocking discovery. There was no microwave. Well, Jude thought, that's a problem. Nothing to do but rough it with saucepan and stove, she supposed, then hit the next dilemma when she realized there was no automatic can opener. Old Maude had lived not only in another country, Jude decided as she pushed through drawers, but another century. She managed to use the manual can opener that she found, and put the soup in a pan on the stove. After choosing an apple from the bowl on the kitchen table, she walked to the back door and opened it to a swirling mist, soft as silk and wet as rain. She could see nothing but the air itself, the pale gray layers of it shifting over the night. There was no form, no light, only the wisps and shapes the mist chose to make of itself. Shivering, she took one step out and was instantly cloaked in it. The sense of solitude was immediate and complete, deeper than any she'd ever known. But it wasn't frightening or sad, she realized as she held an arm out and watched the mist swallow her hand to the wrist. It was oddly liberating. She knew no one. No one knew her. Nothing was expected of her, except what she asked of herself. For tonight, one wonderful night, she was absolutely alone. She heard a kind of pulse in the night, a low, drumming beat. Was it the sea? she wondered. Or was it just the mist breathing? Even as she started to laugh at herself, she heard another sound, quiet and bright, a tinkling music. Pipes and bells, flutes and whistles? Enchanted by it, she nearly left the back stoop, nearly followed the magic of the sound into the fog like a dreamer walking in sleep. Wind chimes, she realized, with another little laugh, a bit nervous around the edges now. It was only wind chimes, like the pretty bells at the front of the house. And she must still be half asleep if she'd considered dancing out of the house at midnight and wandering through the fog to follow the sound of music. She made herself step back inside, firmly shut the door. The next sound she heard was the hiss of the soup boiling over. "Damn it!" She rushed to the stove and switched off the burner. "What's wrong with me? A twelve-year-old could heat up a stupid can of soup, for God's sake." She mopped up the mess, burned the tips of two fingers, then ate the soup standing up in the kitchen while she lectured herself. It was time to stop bumbling around, to yank herself back in line. She was a responsible person, a reliable woman, not one who stood dreaming into the mist at midnight. She spooned up the soup and ate it mechanically, a duty to her body with none of the foolish pleasure a midnight snack allowed. It was time to face why she'd come to Ireland in the first place. Time to stop pretending it was an extended holiday during which she would explore her roots and work on papers that would cement the publishing end of her not very stellar university career. She'd come because she'd been mortally afraid she was on the verge of some kind of breakdown. Stress had become her constant companion, gleefully inviting her to enjoy a migraine or flirt with an ulcer. It had gotten to the point where she wasn't able to face the daily routine of her job, to the point where she neglected her students, her family. Herself. More, worse, she admitted, where she was coming to actively dislike her students, her family. Herself. Whatever the cause of it--and she wasn't quite ready to explore that area--the only solution had been a radical change. A rest. Falling apart wasn't an option. Falling apart in public was out of the question. She wouldn't humiliate herself, or her family, who'd done nothing to deserve it. So she had run--cowardly, perhaps, but in some odd way the only logical step she'd been able to think of. When Old Maude had graciously passed on at the ripe old age of a hundred and one, a door had opened. It had been smart to walk through that door. It had been responsible to do so. She needed time alone, time to be quiet, time to reevaluate. And that was exactly what she was going to do. She did intend to work. She would never have been able to justify the trip and the time if she hadn't had some sort of plan. She intended to experiment with a paper that combined her family roots and her profession. If nothing else, documenting local legends and myths and conducting a psychological analysis of their meaning and purpose would keep her mind active and give her less time for brooding. She'd been spending entirely too much time brooding. An Irish trait, her mother claimed, and the thought of it made Jude sigh. The Irish were great brooders, so if she felt the need to indulge from time to time, she'd picked the best place in the world for it. Feeling better, Jude turned to put her empty bowl in the dishwasher and discovered there wasn't one. She chuckled all the way upstairs to the bedroom. She unpacked, meticulously putting everything away in the lovely creaky wardrobe, the wonderful old dresser with drawers that stuck. She set out her toiletries, admired the old washbasin, and indulged in a long shower standing in the claw-foot tub with the thin plastic curtain jangling around her on its tarnished brass hooks. She dived into flannel pajamas and a robe before her teeth started chattering, then got down to the business of lighting bricks of peat. Surprised at her success, she lost twenty minutes sitting on the floor with her arms wrapped around her knees, smiling into the pretty glow and imagining herself a contented farmer's wife waiting for her man to come in from the fields. When she snapped back from her daydream she went off to explore the second bedroom and consider its potential as an office. It was a small room, boxlike, with narrow windows facing front and side. After some deliberation, Jude chose to set up facing south so she could see the rooftops and church steeples of the village and the broad beach that led down to the sea. At least, she assumed that would be the view once daylight broke and the fog lifted. The next problem was what to set up on, as the little room had no desk. She spent the next hour hunting up a suitable table, then hauling that from the living room up the stairs and placing it exactly in the center of the window before she hooked up her equipment. It did occur to her that she could write on the kitchen table, by the cozy little fire with the wind chimes singing to her. But that seemed too casual and disorganized. She found the right adaptor for the plug, booted up, then opened the file that she intended to be a daily journal of her life in Ireland. April 3, Faerie Hill Cottage, Ireland I survived the trip. She paused a moment, laughed a little. It sounded as though she'd been through a war. She started to delete it, start again. Then she stopped herself. No, the journal was only for herself, and she would write what came into her mind, as it came. The drive from Dublin was long, and more difficult than I'd imagined. I wonder how long it will take me to grow used to driving on the left. I doubt I ever will. Still, the scenery was wonderful. None of the pictures I've seen begin to do the Irish countryside justice. To say it's green isn't enough. Verdant somehow isn't right either. It, well, shimmers is the best I can do. The villages seem charming, and so unbelievably tidy that I imagined armies of elves slipping in every night to scrub the sidewalks and polish the buildings. I saw a bit of the village of Ardmore, but it was pouring rain by the time I arrived, and I was too tired to form any real impressions other than that habitual tidiness and the charm of the wide beach. I came across the cottage by sheer accident. Granny would call it fate, of course, but it was really just blind luck. It's so pretty sitting here on its little hill with flowers flooding right up to the front door. I hope I can care for them properly. Perhaps they have a bookstore in the village where I'll find books on gardening. In any case, they're certainly thriving now, despite the damp chill in the air. I saw a woman--thought I saw a woman--at the bedroom window, looking out at me. It was an odd moment. It seemed that our eyes actually met, held for a few seconds. She was beautiful, pale and blond and tragic. Of course it was just a shadow, a trick of the light, because there was no one here at all. Brenna O'Toole, a terrifyingly efficient woman from the village, pulled up right after me and took things over in a way that was somehow brisk and friendly--and deeply appreciated. She's gorgeous--I wonder if everyone here is gorgeous--and has that rough, mannish demeanor some women can adopt so seamlessly and still be perfectly female. I imagine she thinks I'm foolish and inept, but she was kind about it. She said something about the house being haunted, which I imagine the villagers say about every house in the country. But since I've decided to explore the possibility of doing a paper on Irish legends, I may research the basis for her statement. Naturally, my time clock and my system are turned upside down. I slept the best part of the day away, and had a meal at midnight. It's dark and foggy out. The mist is luminous and somehow poignant. I feel cozy of body and quiet in my mind. It's going to be all right. She sat back, let out a long sigh. Yes, she thought, it was going to be all right. At three A.M., when spirits often stir, Jude huddled in bed under a thick quilt with a pot of tea on the table and a book in her hand. The fire simmered in the grate, the mist slid across the windows. She wondered if she'd ever been happier. And fell asleep with the light burning and her reading glasses slipping down her nose. In the daylight, with the rain and mist whisked away by the breeze, her world was a different place. The light glowed soft and turned the fields to an aching green. She could hear birds, which reminded her that she needed to dig out the book she'd bought on identifying species. Still, at the moment it was so nice just to stand and listen to that liquid warbling. It didn't seem to matter what bird was singing, so long as it sang. Walking across the thick, springy grass seemed almost like a sacrilege, but it was a sin Jude couldn't resist. On the hill beside the village, she saw the ruin of the once grand cathedral dedicated to Saint Declan and the glorious round tower that ruled over it. She thought briefly of the figure she'd thought she'd seen there in the rain. And shivered. Foolish. It was just a place, after all. An interesting and historical site. Her grandmother, and her guidebook, had told her about the ogham inscriptions inside and the Romanesque arcading. She would go there and see for herself. And to the east, if memory served, beyond the cliff hotel, was the ancient Saint Declan's Well with its three stone crosses and stone chair. She would visit the ruins, and the well, climb the cliff path, and perhaps walk around the headland one day soon. Her guidebook had assured her the views were spectacular. But today she wanted quieter, simpler things. The waters of the bay shimmered blue as they flowed into the deeper tones of the sea. The flat, wide beach was deserted. Another morning, she thought, she would drive to the village just to walk alone on the beach. Today was for rambling over the fields, just as she'd imagined, away from the village with her eyes on the mountains. She forgot she'd only meant to check on the flowers, to orient herself to the area just around the cottage before she attended to practical matters. She needed to arrange for a phone jack in the spare bedroom so she could access the Net for research. She needed to call Chicago and let her family know she was safe and well. Certainly she needed to go into the village and find out where she could shop and bank. But it was so glorious out, with the air gentle as a kiss, the breeze just cool enough to clear the last of the travel fatigue from her mind, that she kept walking, kept looking until her shoes were wet from the rain-soaked grass. Like slipping into a painting, she thought again, one animated with the flutter of leaves, the sounds of birds, the smell of wet, growing things. When she saw another house it was almost a shock. It was nestled just off the road behind the hedgerows and rambled front, back, and sideways as if different pieces of it had been plopped down carelessly on a whim. And somehow it worked, she decided. It was a charming combination of stone and wood, juts and overhangs with flowers rioting in both the front yard and the back. Beyond the gardens in the rear was a shed--what her grandmother would have called a cabin--with tools and machines tumbling out the door. In the driveway she saw a car, covered with stone-gray paint, and looking as though it had come off the assembly line years before Jude had been born. A big yellow dog slept, in a patch of sunlight in the side yard, or she assumed it slept. It was on its back with its feet in the air like roadkill. The O'Tooles' house? Jude wondered, then decided it must be so when a woman came out the back door with a basket of laundry. She had brilliant red hair and the wide-hipped, sturdy frame that Jude would imagine in a woman required to carry and birth five children. The dog, proving she was alive, rolled over to her side and thumped her tail twice as the woman marched to the clothesline. It occurred to Jude that she'd never actually seen anyone hang clothes before. It wasn't something even the most dedicated of housewives tended to do in downtown Chicago. It seemed like a mindless and thereby soul-soothing process to her. The woman took pegs from the pocket of her apron, clamped them in her mouth as she bent to take a pillowcase from the basket. Snapped it briskly, then clamped it to the line. The next item was dealt with in the same way and shared the second peg. Fascinating. She worked down the line, without any obvious hurry, with the yellow dog for company, emptying her basket while what she hung billowed and flapped wetly in the breeze. Just another part of the painting, Jude decided. She would title this section Country Wife . When the basket was empty, the woman turned to the facing line and unhooked clothes already hanging and dry, folding them until her basket was piled high. She cocked the basket on her hip and walked back into the house, the dog prancing behind her. What a nice way to spend the morning, she thought. And that evening, when everyone came home, the house would smell of something wonderful simmering in the kitchen. Some sort of stew, Jude imagined, or a roast with potatoes browned from its juices. The family would all sit around the table, one crowded with bowls and plates wonderfully mismatched, and talk about their day and laugh and sneak scraps to the dog, who begged from under the table. Large families, she thought, must be a great comfort. Of course, there was nothing wrong with small ones, she added, immediately feeling guilty. Being an only child had its advantages. She'd gotten all her parents' attention. Maybe too much of their attention, a little voice murmured in her ear. Considering that voice very rude, she blocked it out and turned to return to her cottage and do something practical with her time. Because she felt disloyal, she immediately phoned home. With the time difference she caught her parents before they left for work, and squashed her guilt by chatting happily, telling them she was rested, enjoying herself, and looking forward to this new experience. She was well aware that they both considered her impulsive trip to Ireland a kind of experiment, a quick forty-five-degree turn from the path she'd been so content to pursue for so long. They weren't against it, which relieved her. They were just puzzled. She had no way to explain it to them, or to herself. With family on her mind, she placed another call. There was no need to explain anything to Granny Murray. She simply knew. Lighter of heart, Jude filled her grandmother in on every detail of the trip, her impressions, her delight with the cottage while she brewed a pot of tea and made a sandwich. "I just had a walk," she continued, and with the phone braced on her shoulder, set her simple lunch on the table. "I saw the ruins and the tower from a distance. I'll have a closer look later." "It's a fine spot," Granny told her. "There's a lot to feel there." "Well, I'm very interested in seeing the carvings and the arcading, but I didn't want to wander that far today. I saw the neighbor's house. It must be the O'Tooles'." "Ah, Michael O'Toole. I remember him when he was just a lad--a quick grin Mick had and a way of talking you out of tea and cakes. He married that pretty Logan girl, Mollie, and they had five girls. The one you met, Brenna, she'd be the oldest of the brood. How's she faring, pretty Mollie?" "Well, I didn't go over. She was busy with laundry." "You'll find no one's too busy to take a moment, Jude Frances. Next time you're roaming you stop in and pay your respects to Mollie O'Toole." "I will. Oh, and Gran?" Amused, she smiled as she sipped her tea. "You didn't tell me the cottage was haunted." "Sure and I did, girl. Haven't you listened to the tapes, or read the letters and such I gave you?" "No, not yet." "And you're thinking there goes Granny again, with her make-believe. You just go through the things I sent along with you. The story's there about Lady Gwen and her faerie lover." "Faerie lover?" "So it was said. The cottage is built on a faerie hill with its raft, or palace, beneath, and she waits for him still, pining because she turned off happiness for sense, and he losing it for pride." "That's sad," Jude murmured. "Well, it is. Still, it's a good spot, the hill, for looking inside yourself to your heart's desire. You look inside yours while you're there." "Right now I'm just looking for some quiet." "Take as much of it as you need, there's plenty to go around. But don't stand back too long and watch the rest of the world. Life's so much shorter than you think." "Why don't you come out, Gran, stay here with me?" "Oh, I'll come back, but this is your time now. Pay attention to it. You're a good girl, Jude, but you don't have to be good all the time." "So you're always telling me. Maybe I'll find some handsome Irish rogue and have a reckless love affair." "It wouldn't hurt you any. Put flowers on Cousin Maude's grave for me, will you, darling? And tell her I'll come see her when I'm able." "I will. I love you, Gran." Jude didn't know where the time went. She'd meant to do something productive, had really intended to go out to play with the flowers for a few minutes. To pick just a handful to put in the tall blue bottle she'd found in the living room. Of course she'd picked too many and needed another bottle. There didn't seem to be an actual vase in the house. Then it had been such fun sitting on the stoop arranging them and wishing she knew their names that she'd whiled away most of the afternoon. It had been a mistake to carry the smaller squat green bottle up to her office to put on the table with her computer. But she'd only meant to lie down for a minute or two. She'd slept for two solid hours on top of the little bed in her office, and woke up groggy and appalled. She'd lost her discipline. She was lazy. She'd done nothing but sleep or piddle for more than thirty hours now. And she was hungry again. At this rate, she decided as she foraged for something quick in the kitchen, she'd be fat, slow, and stupid in a week. She would go out, drive down to the village. She'd find a bookstore, the bank, the post office. She'd find out where the cemetery was so that she could visit Old Maude's grave for her grandmother. Which is what she should have done that morning. But this way it would be done and she could spend the next day going through the tapes and letters her grandmother had given her to see if there was a paper in them. She changed first, choosing trim slacks, a turtleneck, and a blazer that made her feel much more alert and professional than the thick sweater and jeans she'd worn all day. She attacked her hair--"attack" was the only term she could use to describe what she had to do to tame it into a thick, bound tail when all it wanted to do was frizz up and spring out everywhere at once. She was cautious with makeup. She'd never been handy with it, but the results seemed sufficient for a casual tour of the village. A glance in the mirror told her she didn't look like a day-old corpse or a hooker, both of which could and had happened on occasion. Taking a deep breath, she headed out to attempt another session with the leased car and the Irish roads. She was behind the wheel, reaching for the ignition when she realized she'd forgotten the keys. "Ginkgo," she muttered as she climbed back out. "You're going to start taking ginkgo." After a frustrated search, she found the keys on the kitchen table. This time she remembered to turn a light on, as it might be dark before she returned, and to lock the front door. When she couldn't remember if she'd locked the back one, she cursed herself and strode around the cottage to deal with it. The sun was drifting down in the west and through its light a thin drizzle was falling when she finally put the car in reverse and backed slowly out into the road. It was a shorter drive than she remembered, and a much more scenic one without rain lashing at the windshield. The hedgerows were budded with wild fuchsia in drops red as blood. There were brambles with tiny white flowers that she would learn were blackthorn and friesia hazed and yellow with spring. As the road turned she saw the tumbled walls of the cathedral on the hill and the spear of the tower lording over the seaside village. No one walked there. Eight hundred years they had stood. That, Jude thought, was a wonder of its own. Wars, feast and famine, through blood and death and birth, the power remained. To worship and to defend. She wondered if her grandmother was right, and if so, what one would feel standing in their shadow on soil that had felt the weight of the pious and the profane. What an odd thought, she decided, and shook it off as she drove into the village that would be hers for the next six months. THREE Excerpted from Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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