“My mother passed away quite a while ago. Actually, it was shortly after the last time you visited Love.” He looked down at the table and began fiddling with his fingers. He might as well tell her everything. “My father left Love years ago. He pretty much fell apart after my mother died. And my grandfather passed on when we were in our late teens.”
She let out a sharp gasp. “Oh, Finn. I’m so sorry to hear that. You’ve lost a lot over the years.”
The sympathetic tone of her voice made him cringe. He didn’t want to be the object of anyone’s pity, especially not Maggie’s.
“I had no idea,” she continued. “My mother and Uncle Tobias had a falling-out not long after we left Alaska, so for many years there was an estrangement. I only got back in touch with him a few years ago. We were able to pick up right where we left off.”
“He mentioned something about the falling-out. Tobias was really thrilled when you reached out to him. Your uncle and I became good friends over the years.”
Maggie twisted her mouth. “I wish that I could have made it back to Love a long time ago.” She let out a little sigh. “I’ll always regret it.”
“Tobias always dreamed of you coming back,” Finn acknowledged, “but he understood you had your own life to live in Boston.”
Oliver walked up to the table and stood close by his mother’s chair.
Maggie nudged him in the side. “Sweetie, don’t you have something to say to Mr. O’Rourke?” She shook her head. “I mean, Finn.”
Oliver slowly moved closer to Finn. For a second it seemed as if he was having trouble looking Finn in the eye. When he did look up, his hazel eyes were full of wonder.
“Thanks for bringing us here.” He chewed his lip for a moment. “I think one day I wanna be a pilot just like you.”
“That’s fantastic, buddy,” Finn said, reaching out and tousling Oliver’s hair. “One of these days I can take you up in one of the planes if your mom says it’s all right. I can show you the local area.”
Oliver’s mouth hung open. Everyone at the table laughed. The sound of Maggie’s tinkling laughter warmed Finn’s insides. Much like the woman herself, it was charming.
“Can I go, Mom? Can I?” The pleading tone of Oliver’s voice was endearing.
“It sounds like a fun excursion,” Maggie conceded. “I think we can make it happen.” Maggie sent Finn a grateful smile. Oliver let out a celebratory hoot as if he’d won
a battle. His enthusiasm made Finn feel ten feet tall. He wasn’t used to being viewed as important. That’s how the kid made him feel. It was a nice change from thinking of himself as useless.
He stared blankly at the menu, trying to shake off the desire to look over in Maggie’s direction. There was no sense in him denying it. He felt a pull in her direction. And what man wouldn’t? he asked himself. She seemed like the whole package. Looks. Brains. And he knew from their past she had a lot of heart. But Finn had determined a long time ago he wasn’t suited for romance. And it was clear from where he was sitting that a woman like Maggie was the sort you brought home to Sunday dinner with the folks. She wasn’t one to be trifled with.
Just then Sophie appeared at the table with a tray of food. Thankfully it gave Finn something to focus on other than the woman seated to his right. She placed a bowl of soup down in front of him, along with a hearty-looking sandwich with kale chips on the side. Finn shot her a look of gratitude. Sophie winked at him. As his friend, she knew his financial situation was dodgy. This was her way of helping him out.
Finn took a huge bite of his sandwich, then sampled the lobster bisque, one of Cameron’s specialties. He flashed Sophie a thumbs-up sign.
Instead of heading back to the kitchen, Sophie stood at the table with a concerned look etched on her pretty features.
“What’s wrong, Sophie?” Jasper asked. “You look like you burned something in the kitchen,” he teased.
Sophie’s eyes darted over to Maggie. She bit her lip. “Agnes Muller just called. She knows it’s Jasper’s tradition to bring folks over to the Moose to welcome them to town, so she figured you might be here. She said she’s been trying to reach Maggie since this morning.”
Maggie looked down at her phone and let out a sound of frustration. “Oh, I had my ringer off. She’s going to be Oliver’s babysitter when he starts kindergarten in a few days. It’ll only be for a few hours in the afternoon since he’ll be in school till the early afternoon, but since I want to get the store up and running quickly, she’ll be a big help.” Maggie stood up. “Let me go call her back in case it’s something important.”
Finn’s gaze trailed after Maggie as she walked over to a private area of the café to make her phone call. Even from a distance of twenty feet, Finn could tell something was wrong. Maggie’s face crumpled. The look of distress stamped on her face was evident.
He looked away, reminding himself it was none of his business. The last thing he wanted to do was get wrapped up in somebody else’s problems. The good Lord knew he had enough of his own to focus on.
“Did something happen to Agnes?” Hazel asked Sophie. Her brows were furrowed, eyes full of worry.
“She didn’t say too much but she’s at Liam’s clinic,” Sophie answered, referencing Dr. Liam Prescott, Jasper’s grandson and brother to Cameron, Boone and Honor. “She wanted to talk to Maggie first, but she sounded pretty weak, if you ask me.”
Hazel made a tutting sound. “Lots of folks have been coming down with the flu. I pray she rebounds quickly if that’s what’s ailing her.”
All eyes were on Maggie as she returned to the table. It was evident something had happened to turn her sunny mood into a somber one.
“Is everything all right?” Finn asked, the question hurtling off his lips.