All of a sudden Maggie spotted a flash of red and a rugged frame. It was Finn! He had walked up to Oliver and lifted him up from behind. Finn was spinning him around in circles. Maggie didn’t need to see Oliver’s expression. She knew he was grinning from ear to ear.
“They’re so sweet together.” Ruby walked up beside her and jutted her chin in the direction of Finn and Oliver.
“They really are,” Maggie acknowledged. “Oliver is Finn’s biggest fan. And Finn is so attentive and caring. He’s been a wonderful friend for both of us.”
“Are the two of you...circling around each other?” Ruby’s brown eyes were twinkling with interest.
“Not at all. We’re just friends.” She quirked her mouth. “Finn isn’t looking for an instant family. Or a wife. And I need stability for Oliver.” She made a face. “I actually caved and went out on a date with Hank Jeffries.”
“How was it? Any sparks?” Ruby asked, curiosity glinting in her eyes. “I know you said you’re not really looking for romance.”
Maggie shook her head. “Hank is a nice man and dinner was delicious, but I can’t really see anything developing between us. As much as Oliver has let it be known he wants a father, I’m not interested in a romantic relationship. I’m still dealing with my husband’s death. Romance is the last thing on my list.”
“Of course you’re still grieving his loss, Maggie. Losing a spouse is one of the most traumatic life events a person can go through. Not to mention you’ve moved all the way to an Alaskan fishing village far away from home. You have to give yourself time.” Ruby patted her on the shoulder. “But, somewhere down the road you might be ready to open up your heart to the possibilities. Speaking as a mother, your life doesn’t begin and end as a mom. You need to be happy too.”
Maggie said. “That’s very true. Everyone deserves to be content in their lives.”
Happiness. For so long Maggie hadn’t even considered her own joy. Back in Massachusetts she’d been so miserable in the aftermath of Sam’s death. And if she was being honest with herself, her marriage had been rocky for quite some time prior to the tragic loss of her husband. Sam Daviano had put her through the ringer during their marriage. Arrests for petty crimes. Chronic unemployment. Verbal abuse. In the aftermath of his death she had even changed Oliver’s last name to Richards in order to avoid the stigma associated with his father. In the end, there had been nothing left for them in Boston.
Moving to Alaska had transformed Maggie’s life. Day by day, she was building a life for herself and Oliver. There were moments of pure happiness where she knew they were both healing. The residents of Love made Maggie feel as if she’d landed right where God intended her to be.
And it had everything to do with being in this small fishing village, her friendship with Finn and the remarkable people who were helping her find peace in Love.
* * *
After parting ways with Oliver, Finn headed over to the concession stand. All of the proceeds from the winter carnival event were going to a homeless shelter in Homer. He surveyed the goodies. Sugar cookies. Cupcakes decorated with frosting reindeers. Bûche de Noël cake. He had to admit his Christmas cookies looked delectable. At least half of them had already sold. He didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but these items looked scrumptious. He imagined Oliver would get a kick out of the whimsical baked goods.
Finn still hadn’t come face-to-face with Maggie, although he’d spotted her from a distance. He was deliberately keeping away in case Hank and Maggie had come here together this evening. Although he liked to think he was taking the high road, it still irritated him that Maggie and Hank could potentially be the next It couple in town. He shook the feeling off, stuffing it down to a place where he wouldn’t have to examine his emotions.
“Your cookies look good. I’d recognize them anywhere.” Declan’s voice heralded his arrival before Finn saw him.
“Thanks. Why aren’t you out there at the dogsledding track?” Finn asked, jutting his chin toward the dogsled area. Declan had always been a huge fan of the sport.
“Annie was feeling a bit tuckered out, so I was keeping her company. I didn’t want her to run the risk of falling off the sled. Liam says fatigue is normal at this stage of her pregnancy, so I’m trying not to worry.”
“Makes sense. Liam wouldn’t steer you wrong,” Finn said in a reassuring voice. He could see the worried expression etched on Declan’s face. To say Annie was Declan’s world was an understatement. “Speaking of Annie, where is your better half?” Finn asked, looking around the area for his sister-in-law.
“She’s somewhere talking to Jasper about the town council vote on library funds. At which point I recused myself from the conversation,” Declan said in a dry voice.
Finn chuckled. Knowing Annie, she was reading the town mayor the riot act. He almost wished he could witness it. Not many people could go head-to-head with Jasper.
Just then Finn caught sight of Maggie. She was wearing a puffy white coat with matching ski pants. On her head was a jaunty pink hat that was tilted to the side. Her cheeks were rosy and the tip of her nose was pink. He couldn’t help smiling.
“Go on over, Finn. You know you want to talk to her,” Declan said, jabbing him in the side.
He scowled at his brother. “Declan, will you give it a rest? Stop meddling. You’re acting like you’re twelve years old.”
Declan held up his hands. “All right. I won’t say another word.” He held up his hand. “Scout’s honor.”
Finn couldn’t help but chuckle. Declan always managed to make him laugh. “You were never a Boy Scout. Not even close.”
Declan snorted. “Neither were you!” Finn smiled, enjoying the familiar rhythms of his relationship with his brother. He prayed they would continue to grow and strengthen as siblings.
“Finn! Finn!” Oliver was calling to him from across the way. Finn waved at him, then beckoned him over. The boy grabbed Maggie by the hand and began pulling her toward Finn and Declan.
“I’m going to go find my lady,” Declan said, crossing paths with Maggie and Oliver and exchanging pleasantries as they passed by. Declan turned back toward Finn and winked at him in an exaggerated manner.
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” Oliver said as soon as he reached Finn’s side. “I wanted to show you the dragon ice sculpture.”