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Maggie pushed her hair away from her face with a trembling hand. “Agnes took a bad fall this morning. She sprained her ankle and she’s on crutches. There’s no way she’s going to be able to watch Oliver now while I’m working, which puts me in a real bind.” Maggie threw her hands in the air. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

* * *

Maggie’s stomach was tangled up in knots as she provided the explanation about Agnes’s ankle. She felt a little numb. Her mind was whirling to try to come up with a plan B. Although she felt terribly for Agnes, she now had to worry about getting a replacement for the woman she’d hired as a sitter. Oliver was a great kid, but at his young age it would be hard to keep him entertained while she worked nonstop to get Keepsakes in tip-top shape. In order to capitalize on the Christmas season, Maggie needed to open up the shop as soon as possible. And after seeing the worn sign outside the shop, Maggie had the feeling her work was cut out for her.

The ramifications of the situation roared through her with a mighty force. Finding Agnes had been no easy task. This was a small town with few options for part-time childcare.

She sank back down into her seat and stared mindlessly at the table. She didn’t want to panic about the situation, but she had no idea what she was going to do. Maggie needed the income from Keepsakes. Although Uncle Tobias had left her money in his will, she knew the importance of establishing a nest egg. She planned to stash most of the money in a bank account and live off her proceeds from the store.

Maggie glanced over at Oliver. Thankfully he was in his own world, munching on his pizza and seemingly oblivious to the unfolding drama. He was so sensitive these days. She didn’t want him to worry about who would be taking care of him while she was at work.

“We’ll just have to find somebody to fill in for Agnes,” Hazel said. Maggie had the feeling Hazel was trying to sound chipper for her benefit.

“That might be easier said than done,” Jasper responded with a frown. “Why don’t you write down the particulars? Hours and salary. Anything you feel is pertinent to the position. I’ll circulate it around town hall and see if anybody bites.”

Maggie let out the breath she’d been holding. The mayor of Love was making it clear she wasn’t alone in this. Gratitude rose up inside her. She’d felt so terribly isolated and alone for the last year. It was nice to know things in this town might be quite different for her and Oliver.

Maggie ferreted around inside her purse and pulled out a small notebook and a pen. When she was done writing, she ripped the page out and placed it down on the table before sliding it toward Jasper.

He looked up at Maggie and twitched his eyebrows. “Not many hours since it’s an after-school position, but I’ll post it up. You might get a teenager looking for hours like this.”

A teenager! How in the world could she leave her son with someone so young? Maggie knew it wasn’t out of the ordinary, but in her world it was. Being overprotective of her son was a by-product of having her husband taken away from her in such a tragic way.

“I appreciate anything you can do. Problem is, I need to hire someone as soon as possible. I need to get this resolved so I can get the shop up and running.” Maggie felt her voice becoming clogged with emotion. Everything had been working so smoothly until this rug had been pulled out from under her.

Anxiety grabbed ahold of her. Despite her desire to be courageous, she found herself faltering. For most of her life, Maggie had struggled with anxiety. It tended to rear its ugly head in times such as this one when she felt things were spiraling out of her control. Other times it just struck her out of the blue. She took slow breaths to steady herself, reminding herself that she wasn’t dying or in danger, even though it felt like it when anxiety overwhelmed her.

“I think you need to get some rest, Maggie. You’ve been traveling all day and pretty soon jet lag is going to settle in.” The rich timbre of Finn’s voice startled her. For the most part he’d been sitting at the table as a quiet observer. His green eyes were sure and steady as they locked with her own. “I think a good night’s rest will help you.”

Maggie nodded, knowing his words were true. She wanted to check out their new house and unpack some of their things and take a hot shower before crashing. Oliver needed a bath and a good night’s sleep. “That’s a good idea,” she said, feeling grateful to Finn for sensing she was at her limit. She looked over at Oliver. His eyes were beginning to droop. She felt a twinge of guilt for not noticing how tired her son looked.

“I’d like to get going. Oliver is about to conk out. I’d appreciate a ride over to the house,” Maggie said.

Jasper jumped to his feet. He bowed in Maggie’s direction. “Jasper Prescott at your service. Get your coats on and I’ll drive you over there.”

Finn stood up from the table. “Why don’t I drive them home, Jasper? I already have their luggage in my car,” Finn suggested. “It’s in the same direction as my house.”

“Perfect!” Hazel said in a boisterous voice.

“Thanks, Finn,” Jasper said, slapping Finn on the back. “There’s a booster seat by the doorway. We picked it up the other day for Oliver based on Maggie’s instructions.”

“I’ll grab it on my way out,” Finn said.

“Let me just run to the kitchen,” Hazel announced. “I’ve got a few pans of food I cooked for you and Oliver, Maggie. I hope you like lasagna, salmon and tuna casserole. You’ll also find a few things at the house. Staples like pasta, cereal, milk and bread.” She beamed at her. “This way you won’t have to worry about grocery shopping or meals for a few days.”

“That’s really sweet of you, Hazel,” Maggie said, feeling grateful for such generosity. She couldn’t think of a single person in Massachusetts who would have gone out of their way for them. Despite the worry about finding a replacement for Agnes, Maggie had the feeling God had planted her and Oliver right where they needed to be.

Her son stood up and put his jacket on. Maggie reached down and zipped up his down coat. December in Alaska was frigid. Although Boston got cold, it couldn’t compare to this type of biting weather. She reached into her purse and pulled out her son’s hat. Before she could place it on Oliver, he’d moved away from her.

Maggie watched as he raced over to Finn. “What kind of car do you have?” Oliver asked, his face lit up with excitement. Her son seemed to have a sudden burst of energy. No doubt it was due to Finn.

Finn chuckled. “I drive an old truck. It’s pretty cool though since it belonged to my grandfather. I fixed it up and got it back in running condition. Guess what color it is?”

Oliver scrunched up his face. “ blue like a robin’s egg?”

“Nope. Not even close. It’s as red as Santa Claus’s suit.”

“Whoa,” Oliver exclaimed. “That must be awesome.”

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