Oliver began cheering. “Yippee!” he yelled.
“I told you I had a little surprise,” Finn said. He pulled a sled from behind his back—an old-fashioned wooden one with red trim. Although the sled was worn down, Maggie instantly recognized it.
“Are you kidding me?” Maggie asked. She raised her mittened hands to cover her mouth.
“I wouldn’t kid about this,” Finn said. “This sled is a classic and a cherished memory.”
Maggie reached out and traced the faded letters spelling out her name. “After all these years you still have it? I can’t believe it.”
“It’s seen better days, but it’s been sitting in the attic all this time.”
Oliver frowned. “What’s so special about it?”
“This was your mother’s sled,” Finn explained to Oliver. “She used to ride like the wind down Cupid’s Hill over at Deer Run Lake. I’ll have to take you there sometime so you can sled with Aidan.”
“That would be awesome,” Aidan said in an excited voice.
Oliver’s jaw dropped. “Wow. You must have been cool back then, Mom.”
Maggie and Finn began to laugh. Aidan giggled.
“We sure thought we were,” Maggie said. “Finn was pretty mischievous. This sled actually belonged to Declan. Finn borrowed it then wrote my name on it. You should have seen the steam coming out of Declan’s ears.”
“No one ever accused me of being a choirboy,” Finn said in a teasing voice.
“No, they never did,” Maggie said in a low voice as memories of the first time she’d ever met Finn flashed into her mind. It had been straight after church service and he’d tried to frighten her by putting a frog down the back of her shirt. Maggie had chased after him and, after giving him a piece of her mind, she’d accepted an invitation to go salamander hunting with him. It had been an auspicious beginning to a wonderful friendship.
“So, Mom. Are you going to ride on the dogsled?” Oliver asked. “Aidan and I are going to head over there.”
“I don’t know, Oliver. It’s been a long time,” she said, suddenly feeling a little anxious. She wasn’t a kid anymore. What business did she have racing around and being led by a pack of huskies?
Oliver shrugged and walked away with Aidan.
“That’s unacceptable, Maggie Richards,” Finn said in a scolding voice as soon as Oliver was gone. “I seem to recall you’re saying you wanted to be brave. Am I right? What could be braver than racing like the wind on a dogsled and showing your son how it’s done?”
Maggie rolled her eyes. “You’re not going to give up on this, are you?”
Finn smirked and shook his head. “Nope. Absolutely not.”
With a sigh of resignation, Maggie tucked her sled behind a bush for safekeeping and turned back toward Finn. “Let’s do this,” she said, motioning toward the area where the huskies were gathered to take people on rides.
When they got to the dogsled track, Maggie watched as Aidan and Oliver stood together in line. Their little faces were full of excitement. Seeing their blossoming friendship reminded her of the way she and Finn had done the same dogsled run twenty years ago.
“Hold on tight!” Maggie called out as she watched the boys settle onto the dogsled with one of the mushers, then take off down the snowy path as the beautiful huskies exhibited their speed and power. She heard Olivier cry out with delight as they headed out of sight. When it was her turn to ride with Finn she held on tightly and prayed to make it back in one piece. Despite her nerves, it was an exhilarating feeling to fly across the snow-packed ground with the frosty air lashing against her cheeks. When they returned to the starting point she could hear Oliver and Aidan loudly cheering for them.
Gliding across the snow led by the team of huskies was a thrill ride for Maggie. She loved the exciting feeling of being pulled by the dogs at breakneck speed. After two rides, Maggie was chilled to the bone and done with dogsledding, although Oliver and Aidan wanted to continue to stand in line for another ride. Maggie chuckled. The boys didn’t even seem to feel the cold.
“Why don’t we go get something to drink to warm us up?” Finn suggested. He pointed at Oliver and Aidan. “These two will be fine. Something tells me they might go on a few more runs. I gave Oliver some extra tickets. He seems determined to use them.”
“Oh, Finn, you’re going to spoil him. I can’t remember the last time we had so much fun,” Maggie gushed. Even though her face felt slightly frozen, her teeth chattered and her wool mittens were slightly wet, Maggie wasn’t about to complain. This evening had been stellar.
“This is one of my favorite town events,” Finn said. “You can almost feel Christmas flowing in the air.” He rubbed his hands together. “The lights are spectacular.” He winked at Maggie. “I reckon they could spot us from space.”
They made their way to the concession area where Finn bought two hot apple ciders and sugar cookies. Maggie didn’t miss the curious glances thrown their way. She felt a moment of discomfort when she saw Hank watching them from across the way. She imagined everyone thought something romantic was brewing between her and Finn. Hazel began waving at her from behind the concession stand. She pointed toward Finn and gave Maggie a thumbs-up sign. Maggie frowned at Hazel and shook her head insistently, but Hazel continued to grin.
Maggie frowned. First Ruby. And now Hazel. She didn’t want to have to explain to everyone later on about her platonic relationship with Finn. Was she sending out signals about wanting more than friendship? How could she expect Oliver not to get confused when most of the town seemed to be questioning their status?
“Don’t mind the looks and the stares,” Finn instructed. “In a place called Love, the residents are always looking for the next couple. Don’t let it bother you.”