“As soon as I spot him, I’ll send him over.”
“Thanks, Soph. Tell Noah I said hello, okay?”
At the sound of her husband’s name, Sophie lit up like sunshine. “I sure will, Finn.”
Sophie was a newlywed, having married Noah Catalano, a private investigator, after a whirlwind courtship. Folks in town were still grappling with Sophie’s hidden identity as an heiress to a coffee empire. Her bank balance wasn’t important. Sophie was well loved in this town.
Yep. Single folks were dropping like flies in this town, which meant it was only a matter of time until someone asked him about his status. An unattached male in Love who wasn’t signed up for Operation Love was akin to a Bigfoot sighting. Everyone wanted the happy ending tied up with a big fancy bow.
“Where has Maggie been hiding?” Hazel asked with her hands on her hips as she made a sudden appearance at his table.
“Well, hello to you too, Hazel,” Finn said in a dry tone.
She placed her hand on his shoulder. “Sorry, Finn. I don’t know where my manners went,” Hazel said in an apologetic tone. “How are things going over at the shop? Rumor has it you’re helping out over there.”
So far Finn had discussed his inheritance from Tobias only with his brother and Maggie. He knew Love like the back of his hand. Once word got out, he wouldn’t have a moment’s rest answering questions from the townsfolk. He loved Hazel, but for the time being he wasn’t disclosing the particular reasons why he was helping out at Keepsakes. He was keeping his mouth shut about Tobias’s will and his eyes on the prize.
“There’s a lot of work to do. For the most part Maggie’s been working to get the shop in running order.” Finn made a face. “Don’t repeat this, Hazel, but Tobias left that shop in really bad shape.”
Hazel scratched her chin. “That’s hard to fathom,” Hazel said. “Tobias was such a meticulous person. I imagine he was overwhelmed when he got sick and made the decision to close up the store. It wasn’t until much later that he took me into his confidence about his illness.” She made a tutting sound. “It’s frustrating because I can’t imagine a single person in this town who wouldn’t have helped out if he’d said one word about the shop.”
Finn shrugged. “I was pretty close to Tobias and he didn’t mention the shop, although he talked about Maggie all the time. He used to show me pictures of her and Oliver. It was pretty obvious he was crazy about them.”
Hazel nodded. “He sure was. Tobias always hoped Maggie would make it back here.” She shook her head. “I think he was a little brokenhearted he didn’t see her again before he passed.”
Finn straightened in his chair. “Hazel, could you make sure not to share that sentiment with Maggie? I think it would really wound her to know that particular bit of information.”
“Me and my big mouth. I didn’t mean it as a criticism of Maggie,” Hazel said. “Tobias was such a kind and generous man. His death is such a big loss to this town.”
“I know.” Finn reached out and clasped Hazel’s hand in his own. “I just want to make sure Maggie doesn’t get hurt.”
“You and Maggie have been spending a lot of time together,” Hazel said, sending him a pointed look. “Don’t think people haven’t noticed. Are the two of you going to be the next It couple in this town?”
Finn waved his hand at her. “You’ve got it all wrong, Hazel. There’s nothing romantic going on. We’re just friends, just like back in the day.”
“Finn is antiromance. Didn’t you know, Hazel?” Declan came striding up to Finn’s table. Obviously he’d heard the tail end of their conversation. Declan put his hands around Hazel’s waist and placed a kiss on her cheek before sitting down across from Finn. Finn had to smile. As always, his brother knew how to make an entrance.
“Is that true, Finn?” Hazel barked. “There are lots of pretty gals here in Love looking for a God-fearing, handsome man like yourself.” She tapped her fingers against her breastbone. “Look at me! I never imagined I’d be a newlywed at my age, but God has a plan for all of us. I learned not to question His timing.”
Finn glared at Declan. “I’m not against romance.” He shrugged. “I just don’t want to settle down. It’s not for me.”
“Humph. And why not? It’s not as if you haven’t backpacked around the country and sowed your wild oats,” Hazel muttered. “What are you waiting for? An engraved invitation to court someone?”
Declan sat back in his seat and chuckled. “That’s what I’d like to know. With Annie expecting, it would be nice for my kids to have some cousins to rip and run with. At this rate they’ll have to play among themselves.”
Kids? A wife? Finn felt a twisting sensation in his stomach. Those weren’t on his agenda. Not now. Not ever. Just the thought of it made him feel as if he couldn’t breathe. It would be too much pressure for him. He’d promised God a long time ago he wouldn’t even try to go down that road. That was his punishment for what he’d done to his family. A solitary life free of familial responsibilities. He had already destroyed one family. He wasn’t going to risk tearing apart another one.
“We haven’t seen hide nor hair of Maggie. Dwight was here asking about her. He said he went over to the shop but she didn’t answer the door.” Hazel tutted. “Poor thing is probably working herself to death. Maggie needs to get reacquainted with this town and the folks who l
As if from out of nowhere, Jasper sidled up to their table and stood next to Hazel. “Are you talking about Maggie? I keep wondering where she’s hiding herself. Let’s get her involved in town events. Maybe she’ll want to join the PTA or the town council,” Jasper suggested. “We actually have a position on the town council opening up in a few weeks.”
Declan and Finn locked gazes. They both began to chuckle.
“What’s so funny?” Jasper asked, his expression one of irritation. “Being on the town council is an honor.”
“Those aren’t exactly rip-roaring good times,” Finn drawled.