She took a steadying breath. Finn was right. This place needed some serious TLC. Uncle Tobias had gifted her with a magnificent inheritance. He had made it possible for her to change her circumstances. She’d had to fight her whole life just to keep her head above water. And even though she was terrified, Maggie wasn’t going to give up without a battle.
She placed her purse down on a nearby counter after wiping it down with a towel, pushing aside a few boxes in the process. She unzipped her down jacket and tossed it on a chair covered with plastic. She turned back toward Finn and Oliver then dramatically pushed up her sleeves.
“Let’s get to work, boys. We need to get this place set up for the Christmas rush.”
Finn let out a roar of approval. He raised his arm in the air in a triumphant gesture. Oliver, looking like a pint-size version of Finn, did the exact same thing. Maggie didn’t have time to worry about Oliver’s instant bond with Finn. Who wouldn’t be crazy about the man? He was charming and funny and he had the cutest smile she’d ever seen.
Maggie looked away from the distracting sight of Finn O’Rourke. She had a job to do. She was laying the foundation for a solid future in this town. If they could get Keepsakes ready to open in two weeks, it would be the best Christmas present of all.
* * *
After a few hours of trying to make a clear path through the mess and organize some of the merchandise, Finn realized Oliver was fading fast. The kid was practically bouncing off the walls and desperate to leave the store. Every few minutes Maggie would have to stop what she was doing to see to Oliver’s needs. At this rate, Finn figured, it would be Easter before the place was cleaned up.
It wasn’t a fair situation for the kid, Finn reckoned. He was too little to help and too young to understand why he couldn’t. Something needed to be done so they could focus without interruption on the shop. Finn’s entire future was riding on the successful reopening of Keepsakes.
Finn excused himself for a few minutes, then placed a call to Ruby Prescott, his dear friend and wife to his childhood buddy Liam Prescott.
“Hey, Ruby. It’s Finn. I need a huge favor.”
“Name it,” Ruby said.
Finn wasn’t surprised by Ruby’s quick response. She was easygoing and sweet by nature. Beloved by the whole town. Adored by her husband, Dr. Liam Prescott, and their son, Aidan.
“I was wondering if Aidan is available for a last-minute playdate. To make a long story short, I’m helping out Tobias Richard’s niece, Maggie. She arrived in Love yesterday and we’re down at Keepsakes trying to get it up and running. Her son, Oliver, is with us. He’s right around Aidan’s age. So I figured—”
The sound of Ruby’s tinkling laughter came across the line. “Poor thing. I’m guessing he’s bored silly.”
“That’s putting it mildly. And to be honest, this place is a bit of a wreck,” Finn admitted. “He really shouldn’t be here until we get things more organized.”
“I guess that explains why the windows were shuttered. Poor Tobias was such a proud man. He probably just became overwhelmed.” Ruby made a tutting sound. “Why don’t we drive down and meet you over at the Moose Café? Oliver can have lunch with us and then I’ll bring him back to our house so the two boys can hang out together. You can swing by and pick him up later this afternoon. How does that sound?”
Finn exhaled. “Sounds like you’re a lifesaver.”
Once he hung up with Ruby, Finn pulled Maggie aside to tell her about his phone call. The moment he saw Maggie’s expression, Finn worried that he’d made the wrong move. Maggie didn’t seem so thrilled with his having set up a playdate for Oliver.
“I’m just not sure I’m comfortable leaving Oliver with someone I don’t know.”
“Well, Ruby’s a good friend of mine. I trust her implicitly. And you and I are old friends, Maggie. You can trust my judgment.”
Maggie bit her lip. Finn could see the concern swirling in her eyes.
He reached out for Maggie’s hand. He squeezed it tightly. “Trust me. I wouldn’t put Oliver in a dangerous situation.”
“I get anxious about my son, Finn. He’s all I have,” Maggie said in a low voice. She turned and looked at Oliver, who was sitting down and playing with an electronic device.
“It may sound silly to you, but when we
lost his father so suddenly it made me really fearful of something happening to Oliver. All at once, life seemed really fragile. I guess you could say I lost my courage.” She made a face. “I suppose it’s safe to say I haven’t gotten it back yet.”
Finn nodded. His throat felt clogged with emotion. “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love very suddenly. It throws you completely off balance. It makes you question everything. I think you need to remind yourself of how far you’ve come.” He winked at her. “After all, you made a huge move to Alaska and you’re about to open up your own shop. That’s not for the faint of heart.”
“I don’t want Oliver to pick up on my fears.” She cast another glance at her son. “He can go on the playdate. He needs to be a little boy. And making a new friend his own age will be good for him.”
Finn grinned at Maggie. “He’ll love Aidan. And Ruby’s the best. Now you and I can start unpacking some of these boxes without worrying about something toppling down and hurting Oliver.”
“Sounds like a party,” she said in a teasing voice.
Finn smiled at her joke. He felt relieved she was loosening up a little bit. Although he could tell she was a fantastic mother, Finn sensed she was a little bit tightly wound. The fact that she had agreed to the playdate was a good sign. He admired her for having the pluck and grit to drastically alter her life by moving to Alaska. After what she’d been through, he knew it couldn’t have been easy. The past had the power to get in the way of a person’s future.