Though her smile was a bit dreamy, Christine shook her head. “Fifty-five years it’s been since I left Galway for Dublin, and for Michael. Sweet Mary.”
The thought of the passing years brought a pleasant sadness, the same she might have felt on watching a ship sail out of port. She still missed her husband, though he’d been gone for more than a dozen years. In an automatic gesture Maggie found touching, Christine laid a hand over Rogan’s.
“Sharon married a hotelier, did she not?”
“She did, yes, and was widowed for the last ten years of her life.”
“I’m sorry. But she had her daughter to comfort her.”
“My mother. But I don’t know as she was a comfort.” The dregs of bitterness interfered with the delicate flavor of the trout in Maggie’s mouth. She washed them away with wine.
“We wrote for several years after Sharon married. She was very proud of her girl. Maeve, isn’t it?”
“Aye.” Maggie tried to envision her mother as a girl, and failed.
“A lovely child, Sharon told me, with striking golden hair. The temper of a devil, she would say, and the voice of an angel.”
Maggie swallowed hurriedly, gaped. “The voice of an angel? My mother?”
“Why, yes. Sharon said she sang like a saint and wanted to be a professional. I believe she was, at least for a time.” Christine paused, thinking, while Maggie simply stared. “Yes, I know she was. In fact she came up to Gort to sing, but I couldn’t get down to see her. I had some clippings Sharon sent me, must have been thirty years past.” She smiled, curious. “She no longer sings?”
“No.” Maggie let out a quiet baffled breath. She had never heard her mother raise her voice in anything other than complaint or criticism. A singer? A professional, with a voice like an angel? Surely they must be speaking of different people.
“Well,” Christine went on, “I imagine she was happy raising her family.”
Happy? That was surely a different Maeve Feeney Concannon than had raised her. “I suppose,” Maggie said slowly, “she made her choice.”
“As we all do. Sharon made hers when she married and moved from Galway. I must say I missed her sorely, but she loved her Johnny, and her hotel.”
With an effort, Maggie put thoughts of her mother aside. She would have to pick through them later, carefully. “I remember Gran’s hotel from childhood. We worked there one summer, Brie and I, as girls. Tidying and fetching. I didn’t take to it.”
“A fortunate thing for the art world.”
Maggie acknowledged Rogan’s compliment. “Perhaps, but it was certainly a relief to me.”
“I’ve never asked you how you became interested in glass.”
“My father’s mother had a vase—Venetian glass it was, flute-shaped, of pale, hazy green. The color of leaves in bud. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. She told me it had been made with breath and fire.” Maggie smiled at the memory, lost herself in it a moment, so that her eyes became as hazy as the vase she described. “It was like a fairy tale to me. Using breath and fire to create something you could hold in your hand. So she brought me a book that had pictures of a glass house, the workers, the pipes, the furnaces. I think from that moment there was nothing else I wanted to do but make my own.”
“Rogan was the same,” Christine murmured. “So sure at such a young age of what his life would be.” She let her gaze wander from Maggie to her grandson and back. “And now you’ve found each other.”
“So it would seem,” Rogan agreed, and rang for the next course.
MAGGIE couldn’t stay away from the gallery. There seemed to be no reason to. Joseph and the rest of the staff were welcoming enough, even going so far as asking for her opinion on some of the displays.
However much it might have pleased her, she couldn’t improve on Rogan’s eye for detail and placement. She left the staff to carry out his orders and set herself up unobtrusively to sketch the Native American artwork.
It fascinated her—the baskets and headdresses, the meticulous beading, the intricacies of the ritual masks. Ideas and visions leaped around in her head like gazelles, bounding, soaring, so that she rushed to transfer them to paper.
She preferred burying herself in work to everything else. Whenever she took too much time to think, her mind veered back to what Christine had told her about Maeve. Just how much, she’d wondered, was beneath the surface of her parents’ lives that she’d been ignorant of? Her mother with a career, her father loving some other woman. And the two of them trapped—because of her—in a prison that had denied them their deepest wishes.
She needed to find out more, and yet she was afraid, afraid that whatever she learned would only further demonstrate the fact that she hadn’t really known the people who had created her. Hadn’t known them at all.
So she put that need aside and haunted the gallery.
When no one objected, she used Rogan’s office as a temporary studio. The light was good, and as the room was tucked away in the back of the building, she was rarely disturbed. Roomy, it was not. Obviously Rogan had elected to utilize every space he could find for the showing of art.
She couldn’t argue with that decision.
She covered his gleaming walnut desk with a sheet of plastic and thick pads of newspaper. The charcoal-and-pencil sketches she had made were only a start. She worked now by adding splashes of color. She’d picked up a few acrylics in a shop near the gallery, but often her impatience with the imperfections of her materials caused her to use other materials at hand, and she would dip her brush into coffee dregs or dampened ashes, or stroke bolder lines with lipstick or eyebrow pencils.
She considered her sketches merely a first step. While she believed herself an adequate enough draftsman, Maggie would never have termed herself a master with brush and paint. This was only a way to keep her vision alive from conception to execution. The fact that Rogan had arranged for several of her sketches to be matted and hung for the show embarrassed her more than pleased her.
Still, she reminded herself that people would buy anything if they were made to believe in its quality and value.
She’d become a cynic, she thought, narrowing her eyes as she studied her work. And a bean counter as well, tallying up profits before they were made. God help her, she’d been caught up in the gossamer dream Rogan had spun, and she’d hate herself, even more than she would hate him, if she went back home a failure.