Take off to Ireland for romance to get your feet tapping…
When Rose Christopher’s entire world falls apart after losing her mother, her marriage and her home within a matter of weeks, she’s desperate for income and a roof over her head. So Rose takes a job as the live-in caregiver of a feisty 87-year-old widow named Agnes. Surprisingly, Agnes is a delight. Too bad the man who hired Rose seems so cold-hearted and rude.
Or is there far more to him than Rose imagines?
After his divorce, Declan Delaney claims he no longer has a heart. Except when it comes to Agnes. The successful, self-made businessman will do anything for his former grade school teacher, who inspired his lifelong love of learning, including ticking off the most important item on her bucket list—a trip to Ireland where her favorite movie The Quiet Man was filmed. And when he sees how Agnes and Rose bond, he knows hiring Rose was another excellent decision.
So then why is he feeling more than just professional satisfaction when it comes to Rose? And why can’t he ignore the way her quiet humor, caring manner, and the promise of her sweet, kissable lips keep drawing him back again and again?
With Rose and Declan whisking her off for the trip of a lifetime, Agnes packs her matchmaker hat in her suitcase. Can she help two people with mothballed hearts learn to dance together in Ireland?
A feel-good later in life, second chance, holiday romance to warm your heart.
All books in the Once Again series are stand-alone stories. No cliffhangers!
What Readers Are Saying:
Dancing in Ireland
© 2021 Jennifer Skully
“Shall we go to the hospital and meet Agnes?” Declan paused for one furious beat of her heart. “If you have the time now.”
Relief fluttered in Rose’s stomach. A live-in position taking care of an elderly lady meant she could rent out her mother’s house until she decided exactly what to do with it. The income would more than cover the property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. And with a salary on top of that, she could rebuild the nest egg that had dwindled between her divorce and her mother’s illness.
But she still needed confirmation. “Do I need Agnes’s approval as well?”
He gave a slight jerk of his chin. “I know what’s best for Agnes. And you’re it,” he said with little emotion.
She figured him for a man who never wore his feelings on his face for everyone to see. Maybe he truly didn’t have any feelings.
On the other hand, she had too many feelings, and right now she was dying to do a happy dance.
If she hadn’t been too old for that kind of thing.
Declan drove, the car seats buttery soft beneath Rose’s bottom, and fifteen minutes later, they were in Agnes’s hospital room.
She was a tiny gnome of a woman, dwarfed by the big hospital bed. Her permed white hair was flattened on one side, her cheeks blossomed with color, and her eyes were bright, rather than washed out with cataracts. The small bandage covering the cut on her forehead didn’t cover the whole bruise, which was starting to turn from a purply red to an ugly yellow-green.
Declan sat on the edge of Agnes’s bed. Rose had been in a lot of hospitals. This one was clean and sterile scented, the staff efficient, and Agnes had a private room with a window overlooking a grove of trees.
“Agnes, this is Rose.” Declan held her small hand in his. “She’s going to stay with you while you get better.”
Agnes waved his words away with a hand gnarled by arthritis. “You silly boy, I don’t need anyone to take care of me.”
His voice was gentle, unlike the no-nonsense tones he’d used with Rose. “Do you remember what the doctor said, Agnes? That you can’t go home until you have adequate care? If you don’t have someone staying with you, we’ll have to put you into a rehab facility.”
The little lady scrunched up her face into a comical caricature of Popeye the sailor man. “It’s not as if I broke a bone. I don’t know what on earth I’d would need rehab for.”
“We have to do what your doctors say, Agnes.”
Agnes harrumphed, once again reminiscent of Popeye. “You’re a controlling SOB, Declan, if I ever met one. If you were the one in this bed, you’d be telling that doctor what to do, not the other way around.”
Rose laughed, even though she’d intended to stay out of the conversation until Agnes acknowledged her. The little lady was feisty and Rose liked her already.
Finally, Agnes looked at her. “What did you say your name was, dear?”
“This is Rose,” Declan said.
Rose wondered why she wasn’t thinking of him as Mr. Delaney. Which she should be, but somehow he was just Declan. And she noticed that Agnes had needed no prompting to remember his name. That was a good sign. And it wasn’t such a bad sign that she hadn’t remembered Rose’s name. Declan had mentioned it only once.
She stepped forward, her hand out to shake Agnes’s barely there grip, the woman’s fingers fragile against Rose’s palm.
“It’s so nice to meet you,” Rose said. “Declan has told me all about you. I think we’ll have a very good time together while you’re healing.”
It was a small fib to say it would only be while Agnes was getting better. If Declan got his way, Rose’s stay would last a lot longer.
And while Agnes beamed a wide smile, she said, “I’m quite capable of taking care of myself, dear. I’ve been doing it for years. Sometimes my feet just get tangled up.” She reached down to tap her leg.
“I’m so glad to hear that. It will make my job so much easier. I took care of my mom for a few years.” She didn’t say her mother had died. “I think she just liked to have a little bit of company. We played cards and Scrabble and had a cup of tea and cookie in the afternoon.” She leaned closer, dropping her voice as if they were entering into a little conspiracy. “We had a little nip of Baileys after dinner, too, and two pieces of chocolate each. It was lovely. Then we watched Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. “
Agnes’s eyes, which were already bright, suddenly lit up. “Oh my, those are my favorite shows. I like to watch that funny detective, too, you know, the one with the cigar.”
“Columbo.” Rose said in the same bright tone Agnes used.
“And then there’s that mystery writer who’s always stumbling over a murder.”
“Murder She Wrote,” Rose supplied. “Jessica Fletcher.”
Agnes waved her hands in the air, her arthritic fingers opening and closing excitedly. “Yes, that’s her!”
Well, Agnes could remember her favorite TV shows, at least, even if she couldn’t remember the character’s names. Once they had Agnes back home, Rose could make a better assessment of Agnes’s capabilities.
She felt Declan’s eyes on her, listening to every word, taking it all in, and assessing Rose, not just Agnes.
“And we can always enjoy a good movie, too,” she added.
Agnes clapped her hands in raptures. “Oh yes. The Quiet Man, it’s my favorite movie, and I haven’t seen it in years, absolutely years. Could we watch that?”
“Of course, we can.” Rose let enthusiasm lace her voice. “In fact, it was my mother’s favorite movie, too. I have it on DVD.”
Agnes but her hands to her cheeks, her mouth open in an astounded O. “Oh my. That’s so exciting, my dear.”
“It was my grandmother’s favorite movie as well,” Declan added.
Agnes slapped him lightly on the arm. “Which it should be, since your family is Irish.”
“We’re not Irish, Agnes. My great-grandfather came from Ireland. And you know well that I’ve might never even been to Ireland.”
“And that’s absolutely terrible,” Agnes said with an exaggerated gasp. “So you’ll need to watch The Quiet Man as well. Then you’ll understand your roots better.”
Declan laughed. It was a shockingly beautiful sound, deep but mellow. He should definitely laugh more often. “I’ll have you know that I watched The Quiet Man enough times with my grandmother before she passed away to have all the dialogue memorized.”
Agnes one-upped him. “I’ll have you know that I saw The Quiet Man when it first came out in the theater. It was the first date with my Herbert. We fell in love at the same time John Wayne fell in love with Maureen O’Hara.” She put her hands together and sighed dreamily.
Another good sign. Rose actually remembered the actors’ names. It was true that the short-term memory often went before the long-term memory, and it was still quite possible that Agnes might never remember Rose’s name. But she still had her long-term references.
“I have a lot of old movies that were my mother’s favorites. We can watch them all.”
Agnes clapped her hands again. “Oh my, yes, the old movies are so much better than the crap they put out these days.”
Rose stifled a smile at Agnes’s colorful language. The word crap was probably the equivalent of the F-bomb.
Then Agnes shoved aside her blanket. “I need to get up,” she said, pushing on Declan with her feet.
He put his hand out. “Agnes, you should really stay in bed and rest.”
Agnes put a hand to the side of her mouth and whispered loudly at Rose. “I have to go to the bathroom,” she mouthed exaggeratedly as if she thought Declan couldn’t hear.
“I’ll call the nurse for you.” Declan searched the call button.
“I can take you in,” Rose offered. It would be a good chance for her to see how much aid Agnes needed.
“I don’t need help, thank you very much. I’m perfectly capable of doing it on my own,” Agnes said primly, her pert nose in the air.
“I know,” Rose agreed. “But I have a feeling that your doctor is going to be very grumpy if he knows you got up out of bed all on your own. So let’s make them happy by having me tag along. For appearances sake.”
Agnes harrumphed. “You’re right. Then that man will let me out of here faster. But those nurses are always yelling at me and telling me to use that silly button. Then they never get here fast enough.” She dropped her voice again, her hand once more by the side of her mouth as if that could stop Declan from hearing. “And when I have to go, I have to go.” Her eyes twinkled. “And I have to go now.”
Agnes was sweet, she was funny. And she was bossy. Rose liked her already.