Washington, D.C. artist Vincent Vermay’s world is unraveling. He can no longer paint. He no longer understands Kate, his wife. Then Kate inherits an old Victorian in North Tonawanda, NY from her grandmother, Katherine Malloy. Vincent falls in love with the house and moves in. Kate remains in D.C. and the separation strains the marriage further. On the Victorian’s third floor, Vincent discovers a magical violin that takes him back in time to 1926, where he meets twenty-year-old Katherine Malloy. Katherine has given up her career as a concert violinist to marry Jethro Malloy, an abusive man. Katherine’s beauty gets Vincent painting again. He returns to 1926 several times to paint her portrait. He meets actor Norman Lassiter, who loves Katherine so much, that he quits acting and turns businessman, partnering with others to build a grand theatre in North Tonawanda. As Vincent grows closer to Katherine, he realizes what motivates his own wife. He also realizes that Katherine’s life would be better with Norman. Vincent can make this happen on December 30, 1926, opening night of Norman’s new Rivera Theatre. He can change Katherine’s life for the better. But dare he?
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Diane Meholick, author
“I once was a painter,” Vincent Vermay said as he stared at the empty canvas sitting expectantly on the easel. He ran his hand through his brown wavy hair and sighed. “Once upon a year ago,” he clarified. The canvas stared back at him. Waiting. Always waiting. He reached out and touched the empty surface. It felt both smooth and rough beneath his fingertips. He had filled many such canvases with beauty over the course of his forty years. But since his fortieth birthday, he’d painted nothing. Nothing he’d dare show the public anyway. Nor had he shown them to his dealer. Kate had seen them though. He’d shown her the few pitiful paintings produced during his fortieth year and all she’d done was shake her head. Words had not been needed. Words would have stung far worse than the shake of her head.
Vincent turned away from the easel and went to the window. He looked down on the quiet Georgetown street below. The street, like the façades of the 19th century townhouses that lined it, was brick. Vincent liked his brick street. He remembered the day fifteen years ago when he and Kate—newly married and tired of apartment life—had met the realtor to look at the townhouse where they now lived. He’d fallen in love with the brick street. It was an archaic anomaly in the bustling, modern world. It harkened back to a simpler time. To a romantic time when neighbors gathered on front porches after dinner to visit and horses’ hooves clopped as carriages drove by. Vincent smiled. Yes, the brick street remained. He and several of his neighbors, especially the elderly ones, fought an ongoing battle with the city fathers who wanted to pave over the brick. He and his fellow homeowners would never let that happen.
Vincent grasped the window’s brass handles and slid it up. A cold breeze blew in and he shivered, goose bumps rising on his bare forearms. He wore his usual painting clothes—blue jeans and an oversized, one hundred percent cotton, beige-colored shirt. Kate called it his Williamsburg shirt because it reminded her of the craftsmen at Colonial Williamsburg. At present, he had the sleeves rolled up and held in place with black garters. He wore penny loafers on his feet. He took several deep breaths of the cold winter air. It burned inside his chest but that was okay. It made him feel alive. Something he rarely felt these days. He would be forty-one on Saturday. He prayed this birthday would end his artistic block. After all, or so it seemed, last year’s birthday began it.
He heard the furnace kick on in the basement. He started to close the window but stopped, catching sight of Kate’s red Mercedes turning onto their street. What, he wondered, was she doing home in the middle of the day? He finished closing the window and turned back to his empty canvas. What would she say when she saw it? Would she accuse him of wasting another day while she was out working, actually supporting them now, since he no longer was? She hadn’t voiced these feelings yet, but Vincent knew they were there. He saw them in the resentment that lived in her eyes these days. She didn’t have to see the blank canvas though. She didn’t have to know he still wasn’t painting. He snatched a white sheet off the couch where he sometimes slept if he’d stayed up too late working. He threw it over the easel and covered the canvas. He’d never lied to her about his painting before. This would be a first for him. He hesitated, one hand reaching for the sheet to remove it. He heard her come in the front door. “Vincent!” she called. “Vincent, are you upstairs?”
“Yes, I’ll be right down.”
He left the studio. He left the sheet covering the canvas.