Nuala Anne McGrail, that beautiful Irish spitfire, now lives in Chicago with her husband, Dermot, and their new baby, Nellliecoyne. As Nuala fans may suspect, Nelliecoyne is no ordinary baby: she is fey like her mothers, and can see into the past as well as the future. Both Nuala and her daughter have had strange vibrations from a place on the lake where a shipload of Irish-Americans lost their lives a hundred year ago. In the course of their investigation, Nuala and Dermot make some dangerous enemies, and eventually have to solve a murder and find a buried treasure. Will Nuala survive the attacks of a sleazy DJ, and a dangerous run-in with the Balkan Mafia* And how does the diary of a young Irish woman at the turn of the century play into these events* Once again, Andrew M. Greeley--that master of the human heart--creates an engaging, charming story that will delight fans young and old. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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February 19, 2000
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Excerpt from IRISH EYES by Andrew M. Greeley
THE REDHEAD with the green eyes continued to play with my wife's breast. She stared at me with what I thought was undisguised triumph. I had prior rights to that breast. The redhead was an interloper, a latecomer, a spoilsport.
"Had enough, had you now*" my wife said to her. "Want to go to himself, do you now*"
The myth was that this eating, defecating, sleeping machine loved me more than her ma. She supported the myth by stretching out her arms to me and gurgling, "Da."
It wasn't really "da." Everyone knows that going-on-seven-months-old children cannot pronounce words. But Nuala Anne had decreed that the gurgle meant "da" and there was no room for dispute.
"The child definitely likes you more than me, Dermot Michael," my wife said triumphantly, a view which was supposed to mitigate my unspoken anguish that the witch had intruded into our marriage and taken my wife away from me. Or at least destroyed my monopoly. "Ma for food, Da for love."
The bewitching little girl snuggled contentedly into my arms and promptly fell asleep, a characteristic she shared with her mother. Fiona, our pure white family wolfhound, watched me suspiciously, not at all sure that I was capable even of the minor task of holding the little redhead in my arms. In Fiona's eyes I was strictly number three. The intruder had taken not only my wife but my good dog away from me.
This is all silly, the Adversary informed me. It is nothing more than a typical superannuated adolescent male reaction to the obligation of sharing one's wife with one's first child. Actually you adore the little defecating machine.
I generally disagree with the Adversary, an inner voice which constantly criticizes me. However, I had to admit that the small creature sleeping in my arms was moderately adorable.
"She's a changeling," I replied to the Adversary. "At six months she shouldn't be trying to crawl and shouldn't be saying 'da.' She's not altogether human. Didn't my mom say that most babies don't crawl till nine or ten months*"
And you didn't crawl till twelve months and walk till eighteen and talk until three and are barely toilet-trained even now.
Nuala Anne had tossed aside her robe and disclosed temporarily her spectacular naked body. I gasped inwardly. Fiona paced around anxiously, knowing that herself was dressing for her early morning run on the beach in the Indian summer sun. Breakfast for all of us, save the red-haired intruder, after her run and before my run.
A warning about my wife's name. It is definitely not Nuahla nor Nulla as in null and void. Nor is it "Null" like in "null and void" as some of my siblings call her, though not in my presence anymore. (She thinks my reaction to that nickname is "funny.") You might try "Noolah" with a touch of Galway fog in your voice or a bad cold and a long and soft emphasis on the "oo," as though you were negatively responding to an attractive invitation with a hesitant "no." I must warn you that she insists that it is impossible to pronounce it correctly unless you speak the Irish language, "and yourself with that terrible flat Chicago 'a'!"
"What was the matter with herself last night*" I asked as Nuala pulled on her running shorts.
Nelliecoyne is what is technically known as a "good baby," which means that she keeps regular hours and thus permits her parents to sleep through the night. It was unthinkable that any child of Nuala Anne McGrail, particularly a girl child, would be anything but a "good baby."
Last night, however, was another story. My wife and I are deep sleepers, particularly after a serious bout of lovemaking. Last night it had been mind-bending in its seriousness. Sometime in the depths of the early morning hours, I had heard as from a great distance an angry wail. I ignored it. Nelliecoyne was a good baby, wasn't she*
Fiona, however, was less easily persuaded by past performance, I felt her large snout nudge me.
"Go away," I told her.
Fiona thereupon barked loudly.
"What's wrong, Dermot Michael*" my wife demanded, her voice heavy with sleep.
"Your daughter is wailing."
"Is she now*"
"I'll go see what the trouble is," I said bravely.
"Ah, no. She's probably hungry and you can't feed her, can you*"
"I cannot," I said contentedly.
So Nuala bounded out of bed, and naked in the moonlight, dashed next door to the nursery, accompanied by the agitated Fiona.
Nuala always dashes. She also bounds. And slams doors.
The tyke continued to wail furiously, something had offended her sense of propriety and order. Her mother's nipple would not satisfy her.
We were spending time in my parents' home at Grand Beach in mid-October, when the place was deserted, to savor the color and the warmth of Indian summer before the arctic air imposed its winter penance on us and to celebrate the second anniversary of our marriage and the third of our chance encounter at O'Neill's Pub on College Green, just down the street from Trinity College. We would take turns each morning running on the beach, swim naked in the heated pool while Nelliecoyne would watch us under the careful supervision of good dog Fiona (who would chase squirrels for the fun of it but never run too far away), walk in the afternoon sunlight with our daughter in her traveling sack, and do our work, such as it was, in the time left over.
I would write a few desultory pages on the first novel of my new contract and Nuala Anne would practice the songs for her forthcoming disc Nuala Anne Sings Lullabies. She was far more serious in her work than I, but never pushed me to settle down and be as responsible as she was.
There were, however, two important reasons to escape Chicago during Indian summer--lovemaking and Nick Farmer, the "music critic" of The Observer, a Chicago magazine, who was grimly determined to wreck Nuala's career because he hated me. Without ever discussing it explicitly (the Irish are great at that) we both wanted to indulge ourselves in sexual abandon before winter came.
Orgy is what you mean, the Adversary sniffed puritanically.
I sleep with many different women: a shy, fragile, virginal creature, a sultry seducer, a playful child, an aggressive sexual demon, an outrageous tease, a warm and close friend. All of them are my wife. I am never sure which one I will encounter in our bedroom. I don't know whether she plays the game of being someone different every night with deliberate planning or whether it is mere random chance. I know her better than I know anyone else in the world. But I hardly know her at all.
Mind you, I'm not complaining.
As I heard her singing an Irish lullaby to our daughter, I imagined her naked in the moonlight, tenderly rocking Nelliecoyne in her arms against the background of the silver Lake.