Dance Upon the Air (Three Sisters Island Trilogy Series #1)by Nora Roberts
#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts—hailed by Publishers Weekly as “a storyteller of immeasurable diversity and talent”—presents the first book in her mesmerizing new Three Sisters Island trilogy. Set on a remote, rocky island off the coast of Massachusetts, steeped/b>/b>/b>
Library Journal Best Genre Fiction of 2001
#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts—hailed by Publishers Weekly as “a storyteller of immeasurable diversity and talent”—presents the first book in her mesmerizing new Three Sisters Island trilogy. Set on a remote, rocky island off the coast of Massachusetts, steeped in history, romance, and legend, Dance Upon the Air is an unforgettable tale of friendship, fate, and the mysterious ways of the heart…
When Nell Channing arrives on charming Three Sisters Island, she believes that she’s finally found refuge from her abusive husband—and from the terrifying life she fled so desperately eight months ago…But even in this quiet, peaceful place, Nell never feels entirely at ease. Careful to conceal her true identity, she takes a job as a cook at the local bookstore café—and begins to explore her feelings for the island sheriff, Zack Todd. But there is a part of herself she can never reveal to him—for she must continue to guard her secrets if she wants to keep the past at bay. One careless word, one misplaced confidence, and the new life she’s created so carefully could shatter completely. Just as Nell starts to wonder if she’ll ever be able to break free of her fear, she realizes that the island suffers under a terrible curse—one that can only be broken by the descendants of the Three Sisters, the witches who settled the island back in 1692. And now, with the help of two other strong, gifted women—and with the nightmares of the past haunting her every step—she must find the power to save her home, her love…and herself…
“When it comes to true romance, no one does it better than Nora.”—Booklist (starred review)
Read an Excerpt
Dance Upon the Air, Chapter One
Chapter OneTHREE SISTERS ISLAND
She kept staring straight ahead as the knuckle of land, bumpy and green with distance, began revealing its secrets. The lighthouse, of course. What was an offshore New England island without its stalwart spear? This one, pure and dazzling white, rose on a craggy cliff. Just as it should, Nell thought.
There was a stone house near it, fog-gray in the sharp summer sunlight, with peaked roofs and gables and what she hoped was a widow's walk circling the top story.
She'd seen paintings of the Light of the Sisters and the house that stood so strong and firm beside it. It was the one she'd seen in the little shop on the mainland, the one that had sent her impulsively to the car ferry.
She'd been following impulse and instinct for six months, just two months after her meticulous and hard-worked plan had freed her.
Every moment of those first two months had been terror. Then, gradually, terror had eased to anxiety, and a different kind of fear, almost like a hunger, that she would lose what she had found again.
She had died so she could live.
Now she was tired of running, of hiding, of losing herself in crowded cities. She wanted a home. Wasn't that what she'd always wanted? A home, roots, family, friends. The familiar that never judged too harshly.
Maybe she would find some part of that here, on this spit of land cradled by the sea. Surely she could get no farther away from Los Angeles than this pretty little island-not unless she left the country altogether.
If she couldn't find work on the island, she could still take a few days there. A kind of vacation from flight, she decided. She would enjoy the rocky beaches, the little village, she would climb the cliffs and roam the thick wedge of forest.
She'd learned how to celebrate and cherish every moment of being. It was something she would never, ever forget again.
Delighted with the scatter of clapboard cottages tucked back from the dock, she leaned on the rail of the ferry, let the wind blow through her hair. It was back to its natural sun-drenched blond. When she'd run, she'd hacked it short as a boy's, gleefully snipping off the long, tumbling curls, then dying it deep brown. Over the past months, she'd changed the color periodically-bright red, coal black, a soft sable brown. She still kept it fairly short and very straight.
It said something, didn't it, that she'd finally been able to let it be. Something about reclaiming herself, she thought.
Evan had liked it long, with a riot of curls. At times he had dragged her by it, across the floor, down the stairs. Using it like chains.
No, she would never wear it long again.
A shudder ran through her, and she glanced quickly over her shoulder, scanning the cars, the people. Her mouth went dry, her throat hot as she searched for a tall, slim man with gilded hair and eyes as pale and hard as glass.
He wasn't there, of course. He was three thousand miles away. She was dead to him. Hadn't he told her a hundred times that the only way she would be free of him was in death?
Helen Remington had died so Nell Channing could live.
Furious with herself for going back, even for a moment in her mind, Nell tried to calm herself. She breathed in slowly. Salt air, water. Freedom.
As her shoulders relaxed again, a tentative smile played around her mouth. She stayed at the rail, a small woman with short, sunny hair that danced cheerfully around a delicate face. Her mouth, unpainted and soft, curved up and teased out the hint of dimples in her cheeks. Pleasure brought a rosy glow to her skin.
She wore no makeup, another deliberate act. There was a part of her that was still hiding, still hunted, and she did whatever she could to pass unnoticed.
Once she had been considered a beauty, and had groomed herself accordingly. She'd dressed as she'd been told to dress, wearing sleek, sexy, sophisticated clothes selected by a man who claimed to love her above all things. She'd known the feel of silk against her skin, what it was to casually clasp diamonds around her throat. Helen Remington had known all the privileges of great wealth.
And for three years had lived in fear and misery.
Nell wore a simple cotton shirt over faded jeans. Her feet were comfortable in cheap white sneakers. Her only jewelry was an antique locket that had been her mother's.
Some things were too precious to leave behind.
As the ferry slowed to dock, she walked back to her car. She would arrive on Three Sisters with one small bag of belongings, a rusted secondhand Buick, and $208 to her name.
She couldn't have been happier.
Nothing, she thought as she parked the car near the docks and began to wander on foot, could have been farther from the pleasure palaces and glitz of Beverly Hills. And nothing, she realized, had ever called more truly to her soul than this little postcard village. Houses and shops were both tidy and prim with their colors faded by sea salt and sun. Cobblestone streets were curvy and whistle-clean as they climbed the hilly terrain or arrowed back to the docks. Gardens were lovingly tended, as if weeds were illegal. Dogs barked behind picket fences and children rode bikes of cherry red and electric blue.
The docks themselves were a study in industry. Boats and nets and ruddy-cheeked men in tall rubber boots. She could smell fish and sweat.
She hiked up the hill from the docks and turned to look back. From there she could see the tour boats plugging along in the bay, and the little sickle slash of sand beach where people spread out on towels or bobbed in the energetic surf. A little red tram with white letters that read three sisters tours was rapidly filling up with day-trippers and their cameras.
Fishing and tourism, she supposed, were what kept the island afloat. But that was economics. It stood against sea, storms, and time, surviving and flourishing at its own pace. That, she thought, was courage.
It had taken her too long to find her own.
High Street speared across the hill. Shops and restaurants and what she supposed were island businesses lined it. One of the restaurants should be her first stop, she thought. It was possible she could hook a job as a waitress or short-order cook, at least for the summer season. If she could find work, she could hunt up a room.
She could stay.
In a few months, people would know her. They'd wave as she walked by, or call out her name. She was so tired of being a stranger, of having no one to talk to. No one who cared.
She stopped to study the hotel. Unlike the other buildings it was stone instead of wood. Its three stories with elaborate gingerbread, iron balconies, and peaked roofs were undeniably romantic. The name suited it, she decided. The Magick Inn.
It was a good bet that she'd find work there. Waitressing in the dining room, or as part of the housekeeping staff. A job was the first order of business. But she couldn't make herself go inside, deal with it. She wanted time first, a little time before she settled down to the practical.
Flighty, Evan would have said. You're much too flighty and foolish for your own good, Helen. Thank God you have me to take care of you.
Because his voice played all too clearly in her ears, because the words nipped at the confidence she'd slowly rebuilt, she turned deliberately away and walked in the opposite direction.
She would get a damn job when she was ready to, but for now she was going to wander, to play tourist, to explore. When she was finished roaming High Street, she'd go back to her car and drive all over the island. She wouldn't even stop at the Island Tourist Board to get a map.
Following her nose, she hitched up her backpack and crossed the street. She passed craft shops, gift shops, loitered at the windows. She enjoyed pretty things that sat on shelves without purpose. One day, when she settled again, she'd make a home just as she pleased, full of clutter and fun and color. An ice cream shop made her smile. There were round glass tables and white iron chairs. A family of four sat at one, laughing as they spooned up whipped cream and confetti-colored sprinkles. A boy wearing a white cap and apron stood behind the counter, and a girl in snug cutoff jeans flirted with him as she considered her choices.
Nell sketched the picture in her mind and walked on.
The bookstore stopped her, made her sigh. Her home would be full of books, too, but not rare first editions never meant to be opened and read. She'd have old, scarred books, shiny new paperbacks all in a jumble of stories. In fact, that was one thing she could start now. A paperback novel wouldn't add much weight to her pack if she had to move on.
She looked up from the display in the window to the Gothic lettering spilling across the glass. CafŽ Book. Well, that was perfect. She would hunt through the stacks, find something fun to read, and look through it over a cup of coffee. She stepped inside to air that was fragrant with flowers and spice, and heard music played on pipes and harps. Not only the hotel was magic, Nell thought the minute she crossed the threshold.
Books, in a banquet of colors and shapes, lined deep blue shelves. Overhead, tiny pricks of light showered down from the ceiling like stars. The checkout counter was an old oak cabinet, deeply carved with winged faeries and crescent moons.
A woman with dark, choppy hair sat on a high stool behind it, idly paging through a book. She glanced up and adjusted silver-framed reading glasses. "Morning. Can I help you?"
"I'm just going to look around, if that's all right."
"Enjoy. Let me know if I can help you find anything."
As the clerk went back to her book, Nell roamed. Across the room two generous chairs faced a stone hearth. On the table between stood a lamp fashioned from a figurine of a robed woman with her arms lifted high. Other shelves held trinkets, statues of colored stone, crystal eggs, dragons. She wandered through, passing books on one side, rows of candles on the other.
At the rear, stairs curved to the second floor. She climbed and found more books, more trinkets, and the cafŽ.
Half a dozen tables of glossy wood were arranged near the front window. Along the side was a glass display and counter boasting an impressive array of pastries, sandwiches, and a kettle of that day's soup. The prices were on the high side, but not unreasonable. Nell thought she might have some soup to go with her coffee.
Moving closer, she heard the voices from the open door behind the counter.
"Jane, this is ridiculous, and totally irresponsible."
"It is not. It's Tim's big chance, and it's a way off this damn island. We're taking it."
"The possibility of an audition for a play that may or may not be produced Off Broadway is not a big chance. Neither one of you will have a job. You won't-"
"We're going, Mia. I told you I'd work till noon today, and I worked till noon."
"You told me that less than twenty-four hours ago."
There was impatience in the voice-a low, lovely voice. Unable to help herself, Nell edged closer.
"How the hell am I going to keep the cafŽ up without anyone to cook?"
"It's all about you, isn't it? You can't even wish us luck."
"Jane, I'll wish you a miracle, because that's what it's going to take. No, wait-don't go off in a huff."
Nell caught movement in the doorway and stepped to the side. But she didn't move out of earshot.
"Be careful. Be happy. Oh, damn it. Blessed be, Jane."
"Okay." There was a loud sniffle. "I'm sorry, really, I'm sorry for leaving you in the lurch this way. But Tim needs to do this, and I need to be with Tim. So . . . I'll miss you, Mia. I'll write."
Nell managed to duck behind shelves just as a weeping woman raced out of the back and ran down the stairs.
"Well, isn't this just fine."
Nell peeked out, blinked in automatic admiration.
The woman who stood in the doorway was a vision. Nell couldn't think of another word for her. She had a mass of hair the color of autumn leaves. Reds and golds spilled over the shoulders of a long blue dress that left her arms bare to the silver bracelets that winked bright on each wrist. Her eyes, sparking with temper, were gray as smoke and dominated a flawless face. Slashing cheekbones, a full, wide mouth painted siren red. Skin like. . . Nell had heard skin compared to alabaster, but this was the first time she'd seen it.
She was tall, willow-slim and perfect.
Nell glanced toward the cafŽ tables to see if any of the customers who loitered there were as awestruck as she herself. But no one seemed to notice the woman or the temper swirling around her like water on the boil.
She inched out to get a better look, and those gray eyes shifted. Pinned her.
"Hello. Can I help you?"
"I was . . . I thought . . . I'd like a cup of cappuccino and a bowl of soup. Please."
Annoyance flashed in Mia's eyes and nearly sent Nell back behind the shelves. "I can handle the soup. We have lobster bisque today. I'm afraid the espresso machine is beyond my current capabilities."
Nell looked at the beautiful copper-and-brass machine, felt a little tingle. "I could make it myself."
"You know how to work this thing?"
"Yes, actually, I do."
Considering, Mia gestured and Nell scurried behind the counter.
"I could make you one while I'm at it."
"Why not?" Brave little rabbit, Mia mused, as she watched Nell take over the machine. "Just what sent you to my door? Backpacking?"
"No. Oh." Nell flushed, remembering her pack. "No, just exploring a little. I'm looking for a job, and a room."
"Excuse me, I know it was rude, but I overheard your . . . conversation. If I understand it correctly, you're in a bit of a jam. I can cook." Mia watched the steam rise, listened to the hiss. "Can you?"
"I'm a very good cook." Nell offered Mia the frothing coffee. "I've done catering, I've worked in a bakery, and I've waitressed. I know how to prepare food and how to serve it."
"How old are you?"
"Do you have a criminal record?"
A giggle nearly burst out of Nell's throat. For a moment it danced lively in her eyes. "No. I'm tediously honest, a dependable worker and a creative cook." Don't babble, don't babble! she ordered herself, but she couldn't seem to stop. "I need the job because I'd like to live on the island. I'd like a job here because I enjoy books and I liked the, well, the feel of your shop as soon as I walked in."
Intrigued, Mia angled her head. "And what did you feel?"
Excellent answer, Mia mused. "Do you believe in possibilities?"
Nell considered. "Yes. I've had to."
"Excuse me?" A couple stepped up to the counter. "We'd like to have two iced mochas and two of those Žclairs."
"Of course. Just a moment." Mia turned back to Nell. "You're hired. Apron's in the back. We'll work out the details later today." She sipped her cappuccino.
"Well done," she added and stepped out of the way. "Oh-what's your name?"
"I'm Nell. Nell Channing."
"Welcome to Three Sisters, Nell Channing."
From Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts. (c) June 2001, Jove Publications, a division of Penguin Putnam, used by permission.
Meet the Author
Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels. She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. There are more than 400 million copies of her books in print.
Also in the Three Sisters Island Trilogy: Heaven and Earth and Face the Fire
- Keedysville, Maryland
- Date of Birth:
- Place of Birth:
- Silver Spring, Maryland
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I have this trilogy on paperback and read and re-read them quite a bit. I just got a nook for Christmas and decided to start adding them and other favorites to it. I noticed when I bought this one it didn't have as many pages as the paperback. I read the last sentence of the book and then checked my paperback and there was several paragraphs after that sentence. Is this normal when getting an ebook? Is some material normally hacked out of the book? Not cool! I hope it doesn't happen throughout the book and affect the flow of the story. Not to mention with other ebooks....
This is the first in a trilogy - and while all the books are wonderful - I think this is the best of the bunch. You are introduced to a character who is new to this world, the same as the reader. She is a wonderful, sympathetic character. While she grows throughout the series, she remains the same good person throughout. Her story introduces all the key players that carry through all three books. Wonderful Series. I liked this series so much, I have purchased three sets in paperback and now in digital. The best thing about the digital versions, I won't have to worry about loaning the books out and never getting them back - which is why I bought 3 sets! Purchase all three - you won't be disappointed.
I really enjoyed this series especially as I wanted a break from my more demanding series. This is still my favorite of the trilogy! I really enjoyed getting to know the setting and Nell. She is my favorite character although Mia seems to be everyones favorite. I would recomend this series to anyone who is a fan of either romance or witchcraft as a general theme. This book in particular is a story of strength, power, and freedom!
I Love this book; it is my favorite Nora Roberts book. It offers a bit of everything: romance, humor, suspense, and paranormal horror. The character development is excellent.
This first book of three in a series isn’t one of Nora’s recent trilogies, but it is fun and entertaining. She never disappoints me. Dance Upon the Air is a story of three modern day witches that are discovering themselves and how they fit into their wonderful island community off the coast of Massachusetts. Of course, there is romance, danger, and a touch of the supernatural. I think any fan of Ms. Roberts will be pleased, and I am diving into the next volume. Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel “To Be Chosen”
Def not my favorite Nora Roberts book and not a page turner like most of hers are to me but it was good. And I will read the whole Trilogy.
Well written. Nora has exeptional skills in writing a fantasy with strong lead characters, ingrigue, romance, and heart pounding action. Love this book.
I read this trilogy several years ago and I have to say that it really is one of my favorites! Excellent read!!
Nell arrives at Three Sisters Island after running away from her past. One that involved an abusive relationship. While at the island, she gets a job as a cook and meets the boss, Mia Devlin. From there, Nell discovers that she along with Mia and a Deputy name Ripley Todd are connected. I was a little skeptical about this book. But as I kept reading, I found its not that bad of a read. You know the saying don't judge a book by its cover? Don't judge a book by its author. Give it a chance first before you say its not good or etc. I did like the ending and how each of the three women had their own personalities and weren't the same per say. A quick read for readers who are familiar with Nora Roberts work or like witches with a little romance added to the mix. Would I read another of Nora's books? Sure.
I have read this series multiple times and it never gets old
Great story and amazing characters! By the end of the book, you will be aching to read more about Nell, Mia, Ripley, and Zach.
The bus pulled up at my house and i got off. I couldn't help but think about my encounter with Jackson. I could see why Allie liked him. But she had him and I had Nate. I sighed. That was the problem. I had a crush but no boyfriend. If that wasn't discouraging, what was? I opened my front door and pulled it shut behind me. I trudged to my room and shut the door. I walked over to my laptop and there was a message from Allie. "Hey. Got a message from Nate. So apparently Jackson dumped Taylor and Nate texted her and now theyre a couple. C ya!" I flopped onto my bed, about ready to cry. Why had I thought of this plan in the first place? I pulled my phone out of my pocket and called Nate. Seven rings. No answer. I then texted him,"This may he weird to you but i want to thank you for what u r doing. I kno u will eventually dump tay, but for what its worth, you are amazing." I felt like closing my eyes so i did. I awoke to the light of day. Of no! I had slept through the night! I had to get to school! +++++++++++++++ Next part is on Awesome res one.
I absolutely loved this trilogy. Nora Roberts should write a lot more paranormal type books. She is so good at it.
As all of Nora Roberts books the Trilogy was excellent. I read all three. Couldn't put them down till I finished them.
this book would have been so much better without the explicit sex.
loved this book read it about 3 times before lending to others.
Quick and delightful read. Author pulls you right into the story and makes you want more.
Love this series. I have re-read this many times.