“Thanks for saying so. I don’t ever want to let him down,” Maggie said. “I want to do everything in my power to make Keepsakes successful.”
“And I know you’re looking for someone to watch your son while you’re getting the shop up and running.”
Maggie nodded. “Yes, I am. Do you happen to know of someone? I’m racing against the clock to find a reliable caregiver.”
“I understand,” Finn said, stroking his chin. “It’s hard to focus on Keepsakes with an energetic six-year-old running around.”
“If you know of anyone reliable to watch Oliver I’d be very grateful. As you can see, he’s a sweet boy. A little high-spirited, but a good kid.”
Finn cleared his throat. He shifted from one foot to the other. “Well, actually, I do know of someone.”
Maggie’s face lit up like sunshine. “You do? That’s wonderful. Who is it? Maybe I can interview them tomorrow.”
He gazed directly into Maggie’s eyes, hoping she would see his sincerity. “It’s me, Maggie. I could help watch Oliver.”
* * *
Maggie wasn’t certain she’d heard Finn correctly. “Did you say that you want the job? As Oliver’s babysitter?”
“Yes,” he said with a nod. “Not permanently or anything. I just figured since I’m already going to be helping you out at Keepsakes I could watch Oliver after he gets off from school. That way you would still be able to take care of business at the store and I would still technically be fulfilling the conditions of the will. I’d still be helping you with the store during the hours before Oliver gets out of school.”
Maggie’s head was spinning. Finn had thrown her a curveball. Although she knew Finn, so many years had passed by since they had truly known one another.
“What experience do you have with watching children?” she asked, wondering how she could let him down easy without hurting his feelings. She had never imagined hiring a man to watch her son. Finn didn’t strike her as a babysitter.
“Not a lot really,” Finn confessed. “But I used to be a head counselor at an overnight camp and I watch Cameron’s daughter, Emma, from time to time. I’m honest and fun loving.” Finn grinned. “Kids really like me. Just ask Hazel or Jasper. They can vouch for me.”
She tugged at her shirt. “Well, that’s all fine and good, but I need a qualified professional to watch my son while I’m working.”
“Need being the operative word, Maggie. You’re in a bind. Truthfully, so am I. I need to fulfill the terms of Tobias’s will so I can partner up with my brother. That means we have to get Keepsakes in tip-top shape so it can open up as soon as is humanly possible. Working with your son underfoot could be problematic. This could be a mutually beneficial situation.”
Maggie locked gazes with Finn. “I appreciate your offer, but I don’t think it would work out.”
He narrowed his gaze. “And why is that, Maggie? When you think about it, it’s perfect. You’ve known me since we were kids. I’m not the bogeyman. Oliver already knows me. And he likes me. I’m trustworthy. You and your son’s lives were in my hands when I flew you here from Anchorage. Surely you can see that?”
Suddenly, Maggie felt annoyed at Finn for putting her on the spot like this. “It isn’t about liking or not liking someone. Yes, that’s important, but I need to find someone who’s a good fit overall.”
“I know you pro
bably think a woman’s touch is best, but you’re wrong. Oliver could benefit from spending time with a man. It’s written all over him.”
Maggie bristled. Who did Finn think he was to tell her what her son needed? “Oliver is fine,” she said in a crisp voice. “I give him lots of love. He isn’t lacking anything. His father passed away quite suddenly a year ago. It’s been hard wading our way through the shock and grief, but I’ve been acting as both mother and father for him. I’ve been doing the best I can.”
Finn held up his hands. “It wasn’t meant as an insult. I just know—I know what it’s like to lose a parent at a young age.” His voice softened. “I know what he’s going through firsthand. It’s a long process.”
“I know,” she said in a clipped tone. “I’ve been walking with him every step of the way.” She hated the defensive tone of her voice, but it felt like Finn was telling her she wasn’t doing a good job with Oliver. It hit her in her most vulnerable place—her fear of not being a decent mother to her son.
“You know what? Forget I said anything,” Finn said. “I apologize for upsetting you. I just thought we both could make lemonade out of lemons. Forgive me. I shouldn’t have brought it up.”
He quickly moved toward the door, turning back to her from the threshold. “Good night, Maggie. If you want to hit the ground running with the store, I can meet you there first thing tomorrow morning. With four weeks until Christmas, we’re really pressed for time. Ideally, if you can get the shop open in two weeks you can still rake in some great proceeds from holiday sales.”
Maggie let out a squeak. “Two weeks?”
Finn nodded. “Keepsakes has always been a big holiday-themed shop on Jarvis Street. It’s a Christmas staple here in town. The shop was shuttered last year a few months after the holidays. At the time no one knew Tobias was sick, so it perplexed a lot of folks.”
She chewed on her lip. “I don’t want to lose out on holiday sales, especially if people are anticipating it being open this year in time for Christmas. Why don’t we meet at Keepsakes at nine? That way I can let Oliver sleep in and then get him breakfast before I head to town.”
“Do you need me to swing by and pick you guys up?” Finn offered.