“Finn, you’re not going to mess anything up. I hope you fully realize how strong and loving you are. The love you’ve shown me and Oliver demonstrates the strength of your heart. Never lose sight of it. It’s the very core of who you are.”
“From the moment you came back to Love, I knew my heart was shifting.” He placed his hand over his heart. “I could feel it. But it scared me. It’s frightening to believe you’re going to hurt the very people you love the most. You and Oliver are my touchstones. Without you, my life would be a dull shade of gray. With the two of you in it, it pops with color. You make the ordinary things feel extraordinary.”
“Oh, Finn. That’s beautiful. We came to Love for a fresh start and a new life. From the very start you felt like family to us. I kept worrying about Oliver becoming too attached to you, but he knew right from the start we belonged together.”
“Smart kid,” Finn said with a chuckle. “He was right all along, wasn’t he?”
“He sure was,” Maggie said, grabbing Finn by the collar and pulling him toward her so she could place a triumphant kiss on his lips.
* * *
“Where are you taking me?” Maggie asked as she peered out the window of Finn’s truck. Snow was gently falling past her window. She grinned as she spotted moose-crossing signs. It was now run-of-the-mill to see these signs, and on the rare occasion, she’d actually seen a moose or two crossing the road. She had settled in to her life in this heartwarming town and she loved experiencing everything the town of Love had to offer. Not a day went by that she didn’t take the time to thank God and Uncle Tobias for blessing her so abundantly.
“I wanted us to have some alone time,” Finn said, turning his gaze away from the road to wink at her.
“Keep your eyes on the road, hotshot,” Maggie said with a laugh, moving closer to Finn so she could snuggle against him.
“We’re almost there. Right down this road.” Finn expertly navigated his truck down the road heavily packed with snow. A sign announcing the Nottingham Woods came into view. He drove down the lane and pulled his car into the lot. They both got out and began walking toward the forested area, hand in hand.
“I thought it would be nice to bring you to a place where my parents used to take Declan and me when were kids. Did you know they met each other around the same age as we did? They were kids themselves.”
“No, Finn. I don’t think you ever told me that before.” She smiled. “That’s really sweet. They were a real love story.”
“Just like we are,” Finn said, lowering his head and placing a sweet kiss on Maggie’s cold lips. Her nose was tingling with cold due to the frigid weather.
Her lips began chattering. She wrapped her arms around herself. “Finn, it’s super cold outside. Can we head back to town soon? I’m dreaming of sipping a peppermint hot chocolate at the Moose Café before opening up the shop.”
“Hold on for a few minutes, beautiful. I’ve got something to say.” He reached out for her mittened hands and entwined them with his own. “Maggie, I know this might seem fast, but in some ways I think we’ve known each other for a lifetime. We were best friends when we were ten years old and we still are. I think we both know the importance of seizing the day. Tomorrow isn’t promised.” He sucked in a huge breath. “I love you, Maggie.” Finn quickly lowered himself to one knee in the snow. He looked up at her with love emanating from his eyes. Maggie felt out of breath. Time seemed to stand still as she watched Finn reach into his jacket pocket and pull out a wooden box.
Finn popped the lid open to reveal a sparkling solitaire diamond surrounded on either side by smaller emeralds. They were the same color as her eyes. Maggie let out a squeal then covered her mouth with her mittened hands. She locked gazes with Finn and let out a sob as she saw the love shining forth in his eyes. “Will you marry me, Maggie? I honestly never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth. I was convinced I’d live out my days alone. Until you. Until Oliver. You made me want to face the past and become a better man. You inspired me to believe I was worthy of happiness.”
“Oh, Finn, of course I’ll marry you. I adore you. I always have. And you deserve a happy ending more than anyone I know. I’m so blessed you chose me to be a part of it.”
Maggie pulled Finn to his feet and helped him brush the snow off his pants.
Maggie continued. “When we were kids you always pushed me out of my comfort zone. And ever since I came back to Love, you’ve been encouraging me to be more courageous in my life. Your bravery has inspired me. You laid your soul bare about your past and your feelings of guilt. In doing so, you set me free, Finn. You made me realize how I neede
d to deal with my own issues. And I’ll always be thankful for it. My heart is filled to overflowing. I never dared to dream about finding my happy ending. Honestly, I never imagined finding a spouse here in Love. I didn’t want one. I was focused on Oliver and wanting his happiness to come first.”
He reached for her chin and tilted it up so he could look into her eyes. “You’re a wonderful mother, Maggie. You deserve to be happy, and I am so blessed to be the man who gets to spend the rest of his days at your side.”
Maggie grinned. “When I left Massachusetts to come to Love, I promised myself two things. I would make a wonderful life here in Alaska for Oliver. And I would be brave. I think I’ve managed to achieve both of my goals.”
“Yes, you have, my love. I’m very proud of you. We’re going to have a wonderful life,” he promised. He dipped his head down and placed his lips over Maggie’s in a tender and triumphant kiss. The kiss celebrated their love and the bright future awaiting them.
“What do you think Oliver will say?” Finn asked. “Do you think he’ll be all right with sharing his mother with me?”
Maggie threw her head back and laughed. “Are you kidding? He’ll be shouting the news from the rooftops.” At the thought of it, Maggie felt tears pool in her eyes. “He loves you just as much as I do. That little boy came to Alaska with a mission. To find a father. I wasn’t sure I could give him what he was looking for because even though I tried to be sensitive to his needs, I never really wanted or intended to open up my heart again.”
“I’m so glad you changed your mind about that,” Finn said in a teasing voice.
“How could I resist the devastatingly charming Finn O’Rourke?” Maggie asked.
Finn reached out and grabbed Maggie by the waist and twirled her around. “I can’t wait to tell Oliver his mission has been accomplished,” he called out. “I’m going to be the best husband and father in all of Alaska. You’ve got my word on that.”
Maggie reached up and tugged Finn by the collar so she could place a kiss on his lips. “You’ve already got it in the bag, O’Rourke. What a merry Christmas this will be.”
“It sure will.” Finn nuzzled his nose against Maggie’s and looked deeply into her eyes. “Merry Christmas, my love.”