“Hello,” a masculine voice called out. “Maggie. Maggie Richards. It’s Dwight. I’ve come to welcome you back to Love and to offer my condolences about Tobias.”
Finn let out a soft groan and rolled his eyes.
“Dwight? As in Dwight Lewis?” she asked in a loud whisper. “The kid who used to wear bow ties and Bermuda shorts?”
“One and the same,” Finn answered with a grin. “And in case you were wondering, he still wears those bow ties.” Maggie started laughing, then clapped her hand over her mouth to silence herself.
It felt nice to have history with Maggie. They could share little inside jokes and memories from a time when his life had been idyllic.
Maggie scrunched up her nose. “Didn’t we have a nickname for him?”
Finn smirked. “I think we had a few. If you open that door and let him in, word will travel around Love as fast as quicksilver about the state of things inside this shop.”
Maggie’s eyes widened. “That could be very bad for business,” Maggie whispered. Finn wanted to laugh out loud at the outraged expression on her face, but he knew Dwight might hear him. Finn wouldn’t be surprised if the town treasurer had his ear pressed up against the door.
“I’m heading over to the Moose to visit my fiancée, so if you’d like to come say hello I’ll be across the way,” Dwight said in a raised voice.
Finn rolled his eyes at Dwight’s mention of his fiancée, Marta. Dwight had been single for a long time, but the minute he fell in love and got engaged to the chef at the Moose Café, he’d decided not to let anyone forget his status. For more reasons than one it rubbed Finn the wrong way.
Maggie and Finn huddled next to each other, waiting for any slight sound to indicate Dwight’s presence. They were standing so close to one another Finn could see the golden flecks in her green eyes. He could also hear the shallow sound of her breathing.
“Do you think he’s gone?” Maggie whispered. She was leaning so close to him her hair swung against his cheek.
“Mmm-hmm,” Finn said, feeling slightly bowled over by his close proximity to Maggie. She smelled like flowers. Roses, perhaps. It was a heady scent. She was all kinds of pretty. There was an air of grace about her, he thought. She was soft and feminine, but there was strength at her core, even if she didn’t seem to realize it. Losing a husband so tragically and at such a young age could harden a person, Finn imagined. But she didn’t seem bitter at all. Maggie seemed determined to find stability for Oliver and to make the best of her inheritance from Tobias.
“I think we’re safe,” Finn said, reluctantly moving away from Maggie.
“Phew,” Maggie said, swiping the back of her hand across her forehead. “He was persistent.”
Finn made a face. “He’s town treasurer now. You really have no idea. On any given day he’s like a dog with a bone.”
Maggie put her hands on her hips. “How about we stop for lunch and then tackle the shelving areas?”
“Sounds good, but I don’t think we should go over to the Moose Café,” Finn said, wiggling his eyebrows. “Unless of course you want Dwight to know we were here the whole time.”
She made a face. “No way. We can just pick up some sandwiches at the deli.”
Finn cast his gaze around the store. With every hour he and Maggie spent clearing up the place, Finn was moving one step closer to his dream—co-ownership of O’Rourke Charters. Working side by side with his younger brother would be life altering. Finn still had a lot of work to do in order to show Declan he was back in Love for good.
* * *
Now that the shelves had been cleaned and polished, Keepsakes was beginning to look like an actual store. For the first time, Maggie knew they were out of the woods. She sat down on a crate and breathed in a deep sigh of relief. She cracked open a diet soda and raised it up in the air in a celebratory gesture. Although she never would have said it out loud to Finn, there had been many times when she’d doubted they would reach their goal in time. It wasn’t very often she felt proud of herself, but in this moment she felt as if she had accomplished something monumental.
God was good. He had led her to this moment, and even though she had wavered many times in her faith, He was still showing her His grace.
A few minutes earlier Finn had volunteered to pick up Oliver at the bus stop then take him over to the Moose Café for a treat. Knowing Oliver would get a kick out of seeing Finn and spending time with him, Maggie agreed. Plus, it would give her the time to sit for a little bit and soak in the knowledge of the path she was about to walk down. Store ownership.
An hour later Finn walked through the door with her son at his side. Oliver had a chocolate mustache, no doubt from indulging in hot chocolate with Finn.
“Hey, buddy! How was your first day at school?” Maggie asked.
“It was great,” Oliver said. “I made a lot of new friends.”
Maggie felt as if her heart might jump out of her chest. All of her fears had been rattling around in her head. And now here Oliver stood looking as happy as a clam. She let out the breath she’d been holding ever since dropping Oliver off at school. Suddenly, all was right with her world.
Oliver began chattering about the goings-on at school.
“We were talking about Christmas at school. There’s a big cookie exchange coming up where everyone makes cookies and then swaps so you end up with a whole bunch of cool holiday cookies. Aidan asked me to go sledding with him, so I also need a sled. And we need a Christmas tree, Mom. Everyone else has one.” Oliver looked at her with pleading eyes.