She shook off the feeling. Maybe she was coming down with something. Maggie gave herself a mental pep talk and headed toward the back entrance to Keepsakes. She turned around and waved at Finn, who was standing there staring at her as if she was a baby chick leaving the nest.
Step out of your comfort zone. Believe in yourself! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. She repeated these phrases in her head as she pushed open the back door and headed out into the wintry morning.
Although Maggie was trying to be brave, a part of her wanted to turn right back around and hide herself away in the shop. But she knew Finn wouldn’t let her get away with it. And the truth was, she didn’t want to disappoint him.
* * *
Finn didn’t quite know what to do with himself while Maggie was gone. Although he kept himself busy hauling things outside to the back of the shop and doing a little online research about pricing for items, his mind kept wandering to Maggie. Was she having a good time with the choir? Had they welcomed her with open arms?
Maggie had looked so unsure of herself and nervous. He’d been torn between encouraging her and protecting her. He didn’t remember her being so anxious. But they’d been ten years old. So much had happened in both of their lives since then.
By the time Oliver got off the school bus, Maggie still hadn’t returned from her choir meeting. Oliver almost chatted his ear off, telling Finn stories about his kindergarten buddies and their antics. Finn loved seeing the boy’s excitement and the innocent way in which he viewed the world around him. He felt a sudden need to make sure Oliver didn’t lose his sense of wonder. Finn wanted to wrap a protective blanket around the kid so he wouldn’t get jaded or hurt by life.
Stop it! You’re not his father, he chided himself. It’s not your job to worry about Oliver. He has a mother, and no doubt he’ll have a father soon.
Operation Love tended to work pretty fast in Finn’s estimation. Before too long Maggie would be paired up with one of the numerous men who’d signed up for the matchmaking program. Finn shouldn’t feel annoyed about it, but he did. It was silly. Just because he’d decided not to enroll in the program didn’t mean Maggie couldn’t make the most of it. And if she did get married, they could still be friends. Somehow that thought didn’t do anything to make him feel any better.
Maggie and Oliver were top-notch. He let out a sigh. A man would have to be a fool not to see it.
Lord, please let Maggie find what she’s looking for here in Love. If she somehow finds it through the Operation Love program, then so be it. I know Oliver wants a father, but I want Maggie to find her own happiness. She’s been through a lot.
The door to the shop swung open and Maggie came bustling in, carrying a plastic tin. Oliver ran toward her and hugged her tightly around the waist.
“What a nice greeting. Seems like you missed me,” Maggie said.
Oliver nodded and pressed his face against her. “Did you bring something for me?” Oliver asked, sniffing the tin.
“I brought some monkey bread. It’s delicious,” Maggie said. “You’re going to love it.”
“So, don’t keep us in suspense. How was it?” Finn asked. He’d been on pins and needles since she’d left.
The smile on Maggie’s face threatened t
o overtake her entire face. “It was a lot of fun. I’m sorry I took so long, but I went for a hot chocolate with Ruby and some other ladies.”
A sense of relief flooded him. “That’s great. Who did you hang out with?”
She scrunched up her face. “Let’s see. There was Paige and Grace and a Gretchen. I like them all a lot. And it felt so good to sing again.”
“That’s some fine company you were keeping. Those ladies are wonderful.”
Oliver tugged at Maggie’s sleeve. “Mom, you said we could go get the tree tonight. Remember?” The look on Oliver’s face was hesitant, as if he was bracing for Maggie to say she’d forgotten all about it.
“Of course I do,” Maggie said. She leaned down and pressed a kiss on Oliver’s temple. “I’ve been looking forward to it all day.”
“Mom, you’re getting mushy again,” Oliver said, dramatically swiping his hand across his forehead.
“Does tonight still work for you, Finn?” Maggie asked.
“It sure does,” he said. “Why don’t we grab something to eat across the street then head over to the town green? It’s pizza night at the Moose Café. They’ll be making ten different types of pizza. You name it. Pineapple pizza. Meatball pizza. Reindeer pizza. And the always popular, Heart of Love pizza. It has five kinds of cheese and it is literally the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted in my life.” Finn rubbed his stomach and made a funny face, much to Oliver’s delight.
“Sounds like an artery-clogging experience,” Maggie said, chuckling behind her hand.
“I know you love pizza,” Finn said, shooting her a knowing look. “Come on. Admit it. You’re going to have five slices of the artery-clogging, five-cheese pizza.”
Oliver began giggling. “She usually just has two.”
“Just you wait and see,” Finn said with a wink. “She’s going to devour this pizza.”