To Tempt an Irish Rogue

To Tempt an Irish Rogue by Kaitlin O'Riley

Book: To Tempt an Irish Rogue by Kaitlin O'Riley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kaitlin O'Riley
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
and ruffled the edges of her blond hair. She looked fresh and young and full of life. He moved toward the bench where she sat.
    Paulette focused her attention back to Mara, encouraging her. “You can unwrap it. It’s a little present. Here. I’ll help you. Come sit up here by me.” She patted the bench in invitation and Mara scrambled to get herself seated, clutching the small package in her hand.
    Together they untied the green ribbon and unwrapped the brown paper, revealing a book, Beauty and the Beast.
    “It’s a toy book,” Paulette explained with excitement, helping Mara turn to the first page. “Look, when we pull the little tab right here, the picture moves.”
    Mara was fascinated. With great care, her little fingers tugged on the tab and they watched the colorful picture change its scene. Her mouth opened in surprised delight. Even Declan was intrigued.
    “Isn’t that clever!” he cried, looking over them.
    “We just got a new shipment of these toy books into the store yesterday and I had a feeling that Mara would like one.”
    “Thank you for thinking of her,” Declan whispered, touched by her thoughtfulness in bringing something for his daughter.
    “You’re welcome.” Paulette glanced up at him and smiled. “She’s a very sweet child.”
    “Mara, thank Miss Hamilton, please.” His daughter might not speak, but he still expected her to have manners enough to thank someone for a gift.
    The child looked up at Paulette with wide eyes and smiled. Mara gave Paulette a genuinely happy smile. Declan nodded his approval.
    “I’m so happy you like it, Mara. I thought of you the moment I first saw this book.” Paulette leaned over and demonstrated another section. “Look at this page. If you pull this tab, you can make the beast dance. Isn’t that funny? But you have to be very gentle with it. You don’t want to tear it.”
    With great care, Mara’s tiny fingers tugged and the beast moved on the page. A small giggle escaped her. Completely mesmerized, the child made the motion over and over again on the same page of the book.
    Stunned, Declan knelt beside the bench and stared at his daughter. Mara had just laughed! He hadn’t heard that sweet sound in almost a year. The beauty of her fleeting giggle filled him with a joyous hope that none of the expert doctors he consulted had given him. He knew with a certainty in his heart that Mara would speak again when she was ready. He patted her head and she blithely ignored him, enraptured with the novelty of a book with colorful pictures of a beast that danced.
    “Is everything all right?” Paulette asked, her delicate brows drawn in concern.
    “Everything is wonderful, lass,” he said. Rising to his feet, he held out his hand to Paulette. She clasped his hand and rose from the bench. They took a few steps away, leaving Mara completely engrossed in her new book.
    “It’s good to see you again, Paulette,” he said. Was it only two nights ago that they spoke in the shop? Only the day before yesterday that he had kissed her so passionately behind the bookshelves? He hadn’t stopped thinking about her since then. Paulette was so different from any girl he’d met before. And she was entirely different from Margaret.
    “It’s good to see you, too.” She flushed slightly, suddenly shy with him. “Declan.”
    As he still clasped her hand in his, all he could think about was kissing her. He wanted to pull her into his arms and kiss her sweet mouth right then and there in the beauty of the day. He certainly couldn’t do so in front of so many strangers, let alone his daughter. Instead, he did all that he could do. He gave her gloved fingers a light squeeze.
    Paulette grinned up at him and squeezed his fingers back. “Shall we walk?”
    “Yes, let’s.” He turned back to the bench. “Come along now, Mara.”
    Mara closed the book with great reluctance, holding it close to her chest, and slid off the bench, her little boots landing on the ground

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