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She was going to be working side by side with Finn thanks to Uncle Tobias’s directive in his will. Leave it to her uncle to protect her even after his passing. Maggie didn’t have any friends in Love, and even though her friendship with Finn went back decades, she still felt connected to him. And

she needed his friendship. He had always been a source of light and laughter. Maggie could sorely use it now as a newcomer to a town where everyone seemed to know each other. She and Oliver were basically strangers here in Love, despite their connection to Uncle Tobias.

The past year had been filled with an aching loneliness Maggie couldn’t even put into words. Finding acceptance here in Love would be life altering. As she stood and stared out across her two acres of land, Maggie felt incredibly blessed. The past had been nightmarish, but the future felt hopeful.

Thank You, Lord. For blessings great and small. Even though I’ve doubted Your presence in the past, I know You must be here with me. I’ve felt You. At times it seemed like a push against my back, propelling me forward when I didn’t even think I could get out of bed. At other times I felt this groundswell of confidence building up inside me.

A sudden rapping sound rang out behind her. When she turned around, Oliver had smashed his face against the glass patio window and was making funny faces at her. Maggie grinned at her son’s goofiness. There was no question about it. Oliver seemed less stressed and happier since they had arrived in Alaska. Maybe there was something in the air here.

A half hour later, Maggie began the drive to town from her new home. According to Hazel, Uncle Tobias’s truck had recently been serviced by an auto body shop. Maggie appreciated the gesture. Having reliable transportation was of vital importance. The roads were packed with snow and there were a few slick spots. Maggie drove very gingerly. Thankfully, she was proficient at driving in wintry conditions due to the years she’d lived in New England. She just needed to focus on that aspect instead of giving in to her nerves about Alaskan road conditions.

Oliver sat in his booster seat, pointing and gesturing toward anything of interest he spotted outside his window. The toy store was of particular interest to him.

“Mom! Look at that toboggan! I’m putting it on my Christmas list,” he shouted, his voice brimming with enthusiasm. “I could really fly on it.”

Maggie smiled and made a mental note to purchase the toboggan for Oliver. He deserved something spectacular.

She would make sure this Christmas was full of surprises and blessings and dreams come true for Oliver. A toboggan would be really special for his first Christmas in Alaska. Years ago Maggie and Finn had flown down the mountain at Deer Run Lake on matching sleds. Finn had surprised her by writing her name in indelible ink on one of the sleds. Maggie chuckled at the memory of how angry Declan had been about Finn giving his sled to Maggie.

Thankfully, her phone’s GPS had guided her perfectly to Uncle Tobias’s shop. My shop, she corrected herself. It was hard to wrap her head around her new reality. In one fell swoop Maggie was a home owner, as well as the owner of a business and a truck. Her life had never been filled with so much promise.

Thank You, Lord, for all of these blessings.

Maggie felt startled by all of the spontaneous prayers she’d been uttering since arriving in Alaska. It was the second one today.

It had been a very long time since she had spoken on such a regular basis to God. They had come to a crossroads back when her life fell apart and Sam died in such a shocking manner. Maggie shivered as the memories of that terrible time crashed over her in unrelenting waves. It had felt as if the entire world had turned against her. Except for Uncle Tobias. He had soothed and comforted her, even though unbeknownst to her, he was dealing with his own terminal kidney issues and dialysis at the time. Her chest tightened as she remembered his invitation to come live with him in Alaska.

“Maggie, my door is always open for you and Oliver. Just say the word and I’ll buy the plane tickets for you.”

“That’s very generous of you, Uncle Tobias. I’m wary of uprooting Oliver so soon after Sam’s passing. But it’s nice to know I have options,” she’d told him.

“You’ll always have a home here in Love,” he’d told her in a voice clogged with emotion.

He had continued to invite her until his health condition had deteriorated. By the time Maggie discovered Uncle Tobias was so ill, he’d been in his last weeks of life. Maggie wasn’t sure she would ever forgive herself for not being by Uncle Tobias’s side in the last moments of his life. Why hadn’t he told her about his illness? She had the feeling he hadn’t wanted her to go through another ordeal after what Sam had put them through. Maggie still wished she’d known Uncle Tobias was so sick. It would have added an urgency to his invitation. For all intents and purposes, he had been her closest family member with the exception of Oliver. She couldn’t even count her mother, since their relationship was estranged.

A soft tapping on her window drew her out of her thoughts. Finn was standing there with a determined look on his face. In the clear light of day, she wasn’t sure how to feel about him helping her put the shop in order. Although they had once been the best of friends, they were now essentially strangers. Doing it all by myself would have felt empowering. She prayed Finn wasn’t going to try to boss her around or take control of things. Maggie had put up with a lot of that behavior in her marriage to Sam. She wouldn’t stand for it again!

She let out a sigh. She needed to stay positive and stop blocking her blessings. Even though decades stood between them, she knew Finn was a good person. Perhaps working side by side would help them get back to a place in time where they’d been able to finish each other’s sentences. It would be nice to get her best friend back. And if Finn overstepped with regards to the shop, she wouldn’t hesitate to tell him to take a step back.

“Finn!” Oliver cried out, unbuckling himself and practically vaulting out of the car.

Maggie stepped down from the driver’s seat, watching as her son threw himself against Finn. She winced at the sight of it, filled with worry about Oliver getting so attached so soon. It wasn’t her son’s way to be so demonstrative.

“Oliver! Give Finn some breathing room,” Maggie said, gently pulling Oliver away.

“It’s okay. No one ever gets this excited to see me except my dog, Boomer,” Finn said with an easy grin.

Oliver looked up at Finn. “You have a dog? What kind?”

“He’s a rescue. Part terrier and part Labrador. My friend Ruby Prescott pointed him in my direction. She trains search-and-rescue dogs.”

“Do you think she could find one for us?” Oliver asked.

“Slow down, cowboy,” Maggie said with a chuckle. “A dog is a big responsibility. We need to settle in first before we make such a big decision about a pet.”

Oliver stuck his lip out and sent her a mournful look.

Finn, clearly seeking to distract Oliver, clapped his hands together. “Why don’t we go check out the shop?” he asked. “I’m sure Uncle Tobias has plenty of things inside to capture your attention. Maps. Puzzles. Maybe even a periscope.”

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