EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following is an excerpt from Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Beginnings (Barbour Publishing).

A wash of melted colors splashed across the concrete floor of Quinn’s Stained-Glass Art Studio, coloring the toes of Beth Quinn’s white leather sneakers. She raised her gaze from the reflection on the floor to the windowsill, where a scene of a dogwood branch with a cardinal nestled among white blossoms perched. Backlit by the late-afternoon sun, each carefully cut piece of colored, leaded glass glowed like a jewel.

As always, Beth got a chill of pleasure from seeing one of her finished creations. “Ooh, yes.” She hugged herself and gave a satisfied  nod. “Perfect.”

The back door to the studio burst open, bringing in a gust of chilly wind. Beth spun toward the door, her hand on her throat. She slumped with relief when she recognized Andrew Braun, her lone employee, stepping through.

Andrew held up both hands as if in surrender. “I’m sorry—the wind caught the door. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Beth laughed, shaking her head. In mannerisms and appearance, Andrew reminded her a lot of her stepfather, Henry, who was Andrew’s uncle. He was tall, with short-cropped brown hair covered by a billed cap that shaded his dark, walnut-colored eyes. He was so shy it had taken weeks before he would say more than Hi to her in conversation. But over the past two months of working together in the studio, they had finally formed a friendship.

At least, it was only friendship from her angle. She sensed a need to tread carefully. Getting romantically involved with Andrew Braun  would open a can of worms the likes of which Sommerfeld had never before seen. And she’d already opened plenty.

“No harm done. And look!” She pointed to the stained-glass piece.

He carefully latched the door and glanced at the window. His eyes widened in surprise. “You got that cardinal one done already? I was going to solder the reinforcement bars for you.”

Beth smirked. “All done. I didn’t need’ja.” She laughed at his crestfallen expression. “But you know if this one goes over well, there will be plenty of other opportunities for you to put the soldering iron to work.” Oh, she hoped her statement proved true! Skipping across the floor, she grabbed his elbow and tugged him over to the window. “Well, look at it, and tell me what you think.”

Andrew stood before the scene, pinching his chin between his thumb and forefinger. Beth waited, hands clasped in front of her, while he took his time seeming to examine every inch of the finished piece. Even though he had witnessed the creation of this window from her first drawings, there was always an element of excitement when pieces were viewed away from the worktable.

Finally, he gave a nod. “Yes. It’s a well-done piece. I like the little yellow bits between breaks in the branches, which make it look like the sun is shimmering through. You were right not to put the cardinal in the center. Even though it’s the focus of the piece, its placement to the lower right gives a better balance to the scene overall.”

Beth smiled, basking in the approval of another artist.

“But”—he leaned forward, tapping one dogwood blossom with a blunt finger—“should this petal have been placed lower to give the illusion of lapping over the cardinal’s tail feathers a little more? It would have added more dimension, I think.”

She sent him a brief scowl. “I think it’s fine the way it is. I’ve built in dimension with the varying background sky colors and the deeper green on the undersides of the leaves, which creates shadows.” Defensiveness increased the pitch of her voice as she pointed to the elements she mentioned. “And look at the cardinal itself—the way it’s positioned at an angle on the tree branch. There’s plenty of dimension.”