“Good day to you. Is there something I can get you?” Tim asked.

“A pint of Guinness, thank you.” Rogan leaned back against the bar, smiled at Maggie while Tim turned the tap. “Good day to you, Margaret Mary.”

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“What are you doing here?”

“Why, I’m about to have a pint.” Still smiling, he slid coins across the bar. “You’re looking well.”

“I thought you were in Rome.”

“I was. Your work shows well there.”

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“Would you be Rogan Sweeney, then?” Tim slid the glass to Rogan.

“I would, yes.”

“I’m O’Malley, Tim O’Malley.” After wiping his hand over his apron, Tim took Rogan’s and pumped. “I was a great friend of Maggie’s father. He’d have been pleased with what you’re doing for her. Pleased and proud. We’ve a scrapbook started, my Deirdre and I.”

“I can promise you you’ll be adding to it. Mr. O’Malley, for some time to come.”

“If you’ve come to see if I’ve work to show you,” Maggie called out, “I haven’t. And I won’t if you breathe down my neck.”

“I haven’t come to see your work.” With a nod to Tim, Rogan walked to Maggie. He sat beside her, took her chin in his hand and kissed her softly. And kissed her long. “I’ve come to see you.”

She let out the breath she’d forgotten she was holding. A frowning glance at the bar had the curious onlookers turning their attention elsewhere. Or pretending to.

“You took your sweet time.”

“Time enough for you to miss me.”

“I’ve hardly worked at all since you left.” Because it was difficult to admit, she kept her eyes trained on her glass. “I’ve started and stopped, started and stopped. Nothing’s coming out the way I want it to. I don’t care for this feeling, Rogan. I don’t care for it at all.”

“What feeling is that?”

She shot him a look from under her lashes. “I’ve been missing you. I came to Dublin.”

“I know.” He toyed with the ends of her hair. It had grown a bit, he noted, and wondered how long it would be before she whacked away again with her scissors as she said she sometimes did. “Was it so hard to come to me, Maggie?”

“Yes, it was. As hard as anything I’ve done. Then you weren’t there.”

“I’m here now.”

He was. And she wasn’t sure she could speak for the pounding of her heart. “There are things I want to tell you. I don’t—” She broke off as the door opened, and Murphy came in. “Oh, his timing’s perfect.”

Murphy signaled to Tim before heading toward Maggie. “You’ve had lunch, then.” In a casual gesture, he scraped up a chair and snatched one of her chips. “Did you bring it?”

“I did. And you’ve kept me waiting half the day.”

“It’s barely one o’clock.” Eyeing Rogan, Murphy ate another of Maggie’s chips. “You’d be Sweeney, would you?”

“I would.”

“’Twas the suit,” Murphy explained. “Maggie said how it was you dressed like every day was Sunday. I’m Murphy Muldoon, Maggie’s neighbor.”

The first kiss, Rogan remembered, and shook hands as cautiously as Murphy. “It’s good to meet you.”

“And you.” Murphy leaned his chair on its back legs as he did his measuring. “You could almost say I’m a brother to Maggie. As she’s no man to look out for her.”

“And she’s not needing one,” Maggie tossed out. She would have kicked Murphy’s chair out from under him if he hadn’t been quick enough to drop it in place again. “I’ll look out for myself very well, thank you.”

“So she’s often told me.” Rogan addressed Murphy. “But need or not, she has one.”

The message passed, male to male. After a moment’s consideration, Murphy nodded. “That’s fine, then. Did you bring it or not, Maggie?”

“I said I did.” In an impatient move, she bent to grab the box from the floor and set it on the table between them. “If it wasn’t for my fondness of your mother, I’d bash it over your head.”

“She’ll be grateful you restrained yourself.” As Tim plunked down another beer Murphy opened the box. “This is grand, Maggie. She’ll be pleased.”

Rogan imagined so. The pale pink bowl was as fluid as water, its sides waving up to end in delicate crests. The glass was so thin, so fragile, he could see the shadow of Murphy’s hands through it.

“You’ll wish her a happy birthday for me as well.”

“I will.” Murphy skimmed a callused finger over the glass before setting it back in the box. “Fifty pounds, was it?”

“It was.” Maggie held out a hand, palm up. “Cash.”

Feigning reluctance, Murphy scratched his cheek. “It seems mighty dear for one little bowl, Maggie Mae—that you can’t even eat from. But my mother likes foolish, useless things.”

“Keep talking, Murphy, and the price’ll go up.”

“Fifty pounds.” Shaking his head, Murphy reached for his wallet. He counted out the bills in her outstretched hand. “You know I could’ve gotten her a whole set of dishes for that. And maybe a fine new skillet.”

“And she’d have knocked you in the head with it.” Satisfied, Maggie tucked the bills away. “No woman wants a skillet for her birthday, and any man who thinks she does deserves the consequences.”

“Murphy.” David Ryan shifted on his stool. “If you’ve finished your transaction there, we’ve a question for you.”

“Then I’ll have to answer it.” Taking up his beer, Murphy rose. “’Tis a fine suit, Mr. Sweeney.” He walked away to settle the wager of the Brennans.

“Fifty pounds?” Rogan murmured, nodding toward the box Murphy had left on the table. “You and I are both aware that you could get more than twenty times that.”

“What of it?” Instantly defensive, she shoved her glass aside. “It’s my work, and I’ll ask for it what I please. You’ve got your damned exclusive clause, Sweeney, so you can sue me if you like for breaking it, but you’ll not have the bowl.”

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