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“What’s going on? I know you didn’t come down here just to say hello. Give it to me straight.”

Declan quirked his mouth. “I need to firm up my plans regarding O’Rourke Charters. I know you said you were in, but I’m going to have to draw up contracts and take the final payment from you. Business has slid a bit even with the second plane, so I’d like to get moving on the purchase of a third one. I need for us to get moving on this partnership and secure more financing, as well as getting this infusion of cash from you.”

Declan had been in a plane crash over a year ago. As a result, one of his planes—Lucy—had been damaged beyond repair. Because Declan had been trying to save money on his premiums on his insurance payments, he had reduced his coverage months before the crash. As a result, the policy hadn’t fully covered the damages. Declan had managed to purchase a gently used seaplane a few months ago, but the company had taken a loss while operating with only one plane. Now his brother had his eye on a third plane in order to expand the business. Finn couldn’t blame him for wanting to secure his company’s future. Declan gave Finn flying hours as often as he could, but until he bought into O’Rourke Charters and they purchased another seaplane, Finn wouldn’t be hired on as a salaried pilot. His dream of co-ownership would be on hold.

Finn scratched his jaw. “I know I’ve put you in a bind and I’m sorry about it.”

Declan cut him off. “Finn, I’m not blaming you for not getting all the financing you needed, but I’ve been as patient as I can for the last few months. The bottom line is I’ve got to make some serious decisions about the future of O’Rourke Charters. If you want to join forces, I’m going to need us to sign a contract and have you make a substantial contribution to buy your way into the business.”

“Declan, I’ll be honest with you. I wasn’t sure how I was going to come up with the last portion, but my prayers have been answered.” Finn reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the paperwork he’d received yesterday afternoon.

“What’s this?” Declan asked as Finn handed him the documents.

“I got a visit yesterday from Lee Jamison. He’s the executor for Tobias’s will.” He shook his head, still in disbelief over his windfall. “Believe it or not, Tobias left me a nice-sized sum of money.”

Declan raised a brow. His eyes scanned the paperwork. He let out a low whistle as he swung his gaze up to meet Finn’s. “Tobias was mighty generous. You know what this means right? There are conditions.”

Finn nodded. “Yes. I’ll have to help Maggie get the shop ready for its grand opening, then help her get it up and running for a total period of no less than four weeks. At such time the shop successfully opens, then I’ll get my inheritance.” Finn repeated the terminology he’d memorized from the paperwork. “Then I can buy my way into O’Rourke Charters.”

Declan let out a hearty chuckle. He slapped Finn on the back. “I can’t believe it!” He grinned at Finn. “You always do land on your feet.”

“Not always,” Finn said, “but thanks to Tobias, we’re going to be partners.”

More than anything, Finn wanted to be a co-owner of O’Rourke Charters. He wanted it more than he’d desired anything in his life. For so long he had denied how great it felt to be up in the wild blue yonder flying a plane. But he couldn’t stuff it down any longer. It was where he was meant to be and being a pilot was his destiny. From the very first time his grandfather had taken him up in the air and let him fly the plane, Finn had been a goner. Killian had told him it was his destiny. Being co-owner of O’Rourke Charters would give him stability and respectability. It would give him a purpose. It would allow him the opportunity to live out a lifelong dream. And even though his grandfather wasn’t around any longer, perhaps he could still make him proud.

“Four weeks will be fine,” Declan said with a nod. “I can work with that.”

Finn grinned at his brother. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. “I appreciate it. And I’m not going to let you down this time. I promise.”

“You better not,” Declan said, his blue eyes flashing a warning. Finn knew he was referencing the countless times Finn had bailed on him in the past. Not this time, he vowed. He was no longer the man he used to be. Finn liked to believe he’d grown and matured over the past few years. He wasn’t walking away from things anymore. Finn was done with running away from home and everything he held dear.

Declan turned back toward him. “I’m really happy for you, Finn. And for our future partnership. I really do want this to work out.”

“Me too,” Finn murmured as Declan turned away and continued back down the pier. Once his brother was out of earshot, Finn murmured, “Things are going to work out. They have to.”

Now all he had to do was explain his inheritance from Tobias to Maggie and break it to her about the stipulation requiring him to work side by side with her at Keepsakes. Finn let out a deep breath. He wasn’t sure what he would do if she objected. Would he still be eligible for his inheritance if she declined his help? His whole future now hung in the balance.

Chapter Two

Maggie found herself smiling as they pulled up in front of the Moose Café. As they’d driven down Jarvis Street, with its old-fashioned charm and festive holiday decorations, the quaint downtown area of Love had captivated her. Although she’d visited on three occasions as a child, her favorite had been during Christmastime. She’d been overjoyed to experience the town decked out in all its holiday glory. Those same feelings were rising up within her at this very moment. Nostalgia warmed her insides.

A fully decorated Christmas tree sat on the town green while pine wreaths and red ribbons graced every lamppost lining the street corners. This town was getting ready for the holiday, even though it was a month away.

She’d been a little surprised to see Uncle Tobias’s shop all shuttered up as they drove by. It stood out amid all the other festively decorated shops. Keepsakes looked abandoned and neglected. Maggie didn’t bother to point it out to Oliver. She didn’t want him to be disappointed so soon after their arrival.

Poor Uncle Tobias, she thought. He had loved his shop so much. How she wished things hadn’t been so tumultuous in her own life for such a long time. Perhaps she could have relocated to Love a year ago and helped out her uncle. Once Maggie entered the Moose Café alongside Jasper, Hazel and Oliver, the tinkling sound of the bell above the doorway welcomed her. As soon as she crossed the threshold, she noticed sprigs of holly dangling down from the ceiling. The interior of the establishment was decked out in Christmas decorations. Wreaths. A fully trimmed Christmas tree sitting in a corner. She noticed all of the waitstaff were wearing T-shirts with moose on them. Delectable odors assaulted her senses. Her stomach began to grumble, serving as a reminder that they hadn’t eaten in several hours. And she wasn’t sure

the quick snack of pretzels and fruit they’d grabbed at the Anchorage airport even counted.

Oliver—her finicky eater—often needed to be encouraged to eat more. As it was, he practically lived on pizza, french fries and chicken nuggets. She looked down at him, eager to know his feelings at every point in their journey.

“This place is cool!” Oliver said, his voice brimming with enthusiasm. Maggie felt herself heave a little sigh of relief. It was so very important that Oliver embrace their new hometown. Maggie didn’t think things would work out in Love if her son wasn’t happy. After all he’d been through, Oliver deserved to be joyful.

And so do I, she reminded herself. Oliver wasn’t the only one who had been put through the wringer. As a mother it was easy to ignore her own needs, but she vowed to do better at being a more content, well-rounded person.

Maggie followed the trail of her son’s gaze. He was looking at a pair of antlers hanging on the wall. He couldn’t seem to take his eyes off them. Although the vibe of the Moose Café was rustic and a bit on the masculine side, Maggie could see a few feminine touches. Red-and-white carnations sat on each table. Soft, romantic paintings hung on the walls. It gave the establishment a nice, eclectic atmosphere.

“Thanks for the thumbs-up.” A deep male voice heralded the appearance of a chocolate-haired, green-eyed man. He greeted them with a warm smile and patted Oliver on the back. “Those antlers are pretty awesome, aren’t they?”