The corners of Declan’s mouth were twitching with mirth. “I see I’m outnumbered,” he said.
Declan leaned across his desk and said in a loud whisper, “Don’t tell Finn I said so, but I agree with you.” He looked at his watch. “I better head off toward the pier. I’m making a run to Homer.”
After Declan’s departure, Finn sat down with Oliver so they could enjoy their chocolate milk and apple slices.
“So, what do you have planned for later on?” Finn asked. “Anything exciting for the weekend?”
He wrinkled his nose. “Mom has a date tonight,” Oliver said in a soft voice. “I’m hanging out at Aidan’s house.”
Finn tensed up. Clearly, Declan’s information had been correct. Even Oliver knew about it.
He made sure his voice sounded cheery. “Really? Well, that’s nice.”
Oliver frowned at him. “Do you really think so?”
“Sure. Why not?” he asked, hoping to inject a little positivity into the situation. Clearly, Oliver wasn’t impressed with his mother’s plans.
“Because if Mom goes out with this guy then they might get married. Aidan told me all about the Operation Love program,” Oliver said, his voice trailing off. He bit his lip and stared at Finn with a troubled expression.
“Would that be such a bad thing?” Finn asked.
“Yes, it would,” he said in a raised voice. “I don’t want her to marry just anybody, Finn.” His hazel eyes pooled with tears. “I want her to marry you.”
Maggie cranked up the holiday music and did a little dance around the shop. Everything looked wonderful. The shelves had been painted a pristine white. The hardwood floors were glistening. Trash had been cleared. The charity organization had stopped by to pick up the donations. Stock had been delivered.
They still had some work to do, but it was night and day from when they had opened up the door and come face-to-face with a shop in disarray. That day Maggie had prayed for wisdom and strength to go the distance. With the help of Finn, Maggie was a few steps away from her goal of opening up Keepsakes in time for the holiday season.
Becoming a part of the fabric of this quaint town involved being seen. She didn’t want to be a shadow anymore. It was the Christmas season. Celebrating the birth of Jesus meant rejoicing with your community. Locking herself away meant Maggie was living in fear. She didn’t want to do that anymore. Not for herself or Oliver. She wanted to embrace everything this town had to offer.
Maggie reached out and ripped down the brown paper from the windows. As light flowed into the shop, Maggie felt as if she was being embraced. She hoped Finn didn’t mind her taking down the brown paper without him. She’d been caught up in a moment. It had felt right.
While she was setting up the window display, numerous townsfolk passed by the store. They smiled and waved at her. Some gave her the thumbs-up sign as they watched her set up the miniature Christmas tree and the snow globes on one side and the twinkling reindeer and the smiling snowman alongside it. Once she was done she stepped outside and surveyed it.
The sound of clapping interrupted her perusal of the display. Finn and Oliver were walking down Jarvis Street and straight toward her. Finn was clapping enthusiastically.
“It looks great!” Finn stepped closer to the windows and examined her displays. “I’d say this is the best holiday display on Jarvis Street.”
“What do you think, Oliver?” Maggie asked. “Do you give it a thumbs-up?”
Oliver shrugged and pushed snow around on the pavement with the tip of his boot.
“What’s wrong?” Maggie asked, reaching out and tilting Oliver’s chin up so she could look him in the eyes.
“Nothing,” he said in a short tone.
Maggie raised her eyebrows at Finn. She turned back to Oliver. “Well, you better tell that to your lip. It’s sticking out like a sore thumb.”
Oliver rolled his eyes and walked past them, entering Keepsakes without saying anything further. Maggie’s first instinct was to read Oliver the riot act. She had no intention of raising a brat with no manners.
“That attitude is unacceptable.” Maggie frowned. “Did something happen?”
Finn sighed. “We had a great time flying, but afterward he began talking about your date.”
Maggie gulped. “My date? With Hank?”
“Yes. He’s not too keen on the idea of it.”