Chapter One If the gray clouds in the sky had not suddenly split apart and released an explosion of rain, Jewel Fairchild would have chosen to walk back to the train station on the shady road between two walls of green shrubs and trees. It was really amazing that such peace and quiet could exist not many miles from the crowded streets where she lived and worked. But had this entire day not been amazing? Cassandra Wright, the owner and CEO of Wright Glassworks, had been riding her horse and, having come too close to a fence post, had hurt her leg. She would have to stay at home for a few daysan unheard-of occurrence at the Glassworks, where her dawn-to-dusk work ethic was legendary. Her efficient secretary had spent most of the day on the phone, as Mrs. Wright was directing the business from her home. (Even though Cassandra had been married twice, she insisted on being called Mrs. Wright because Wright was the name of her ancestors and her business, and the politically correct Ms. was way too trendy for her taste.) When it was discovered late in the afternoon that an important paper required the CEO's signature, Jewel, who was a receptionist at the Glassworks, had been summoned by her supervisor and told to hand-deliver the document to Mrs. Wright's home. Although to call the place a "home" was to understate so totally the grandeur, the dreamlike otherworldliness of it, it was almost funny. Of course Jewel had known that Mrs. Wright and her family wouldn't live in a hut, but she'd never seen anything like what she'd seen today. Now, as she leaned her head back on the seat of the car in which the Wright family gardener was driving her back to town, she went back over every moment of the last few hours, trying to fix them in her memory forever. First there had been the train trip out of Wrightstown, the busy city that was named for the glassworks that gave it its reason for being. Cassandra Wright didn't live near her businessof course not. She lived out in the country where the air was pure and the nights were quiet. There was a special spur off the main train track with a station at the end that serviced the area. Jewel had walked from the train stationit hadn't started raining yetand after about fifteen minutes, she'd approached a big white house gleaming in the gray gloom of the day. Inside the house everything gleamed too. A woman who identified herself as the housekeeper had answered the door and led Jewel into the foyer, where she had a quick impression of glossy furniture, silk, crystal, and photographs in silver frames. Light sparkled from a chandelier above her; on a wall opposite a sweeping staircase there was a huge painting by some artist with a French name. The housekeeper had said the name, but Jewel had been too busy taking in all the splendor to register it. The housekeeper led her through a series of hallways and roomsmore rooms than anybody would think one family could use. In the main hall a clock chimed like music. A rare treasure this clock was, according to the housekeeper. But by then Jewel was beginning to realize that the word "treasure" described everything in this place. At first she was too overwhelmed to do more than stare. But slowly, a need started to grow inside her to touch what she was seeing. As the housekeeper hurried her along, she dug a foot into the carpet to feel the depth of the silky nap; she allowed a finger to trace the back of a richly brocaded chair. If she could have, Jewel would have inhaled all of it; she would have done anything, anything to take all this gleaming beauty inside herself, to own it, just for one second. * * * There was only one object in the place that did not seem to gleam. Actually, she wasn't an object, shePlain, Belva is the author of 'Crossroads ', published 2007 under ISBN 9780385336840 and ISBN 0385336845.