Chapter no 12

It Ends with us

“What are you doing to those poor flowers?” Allysa asks from behind me.

I clamp another silver washer closed and slide it down the stem. “Steampunk.”

We both stand back and admire the bouquet. At least . . . I hope she’s looking at it with admiration. It turned out better than I thought it would. I used florist dip dye to turn some white roses a deep purple. Then I decorated the stems with different steampunk elements, like tiny metal washers and gears, and even super-glued a small clock to the brown leather strap that’s holding the bouquet together.


“It’s a trend. Kind of a subgenre of fiction, but it’s catching on in other areas. Art. Music.” I turn around and smile, holding up the bouquet. “And now . . . flowers.”

Allysa takes the flowers from me and holds them up in front of her. “They’re so . . . weird. I love them so much.” She hugs them. “Can I have them?”

I pull them away from her. “No, they’re our grand opening display. Not for sale.” I take the flowers from her and grab the vase I made yesterday. I found a pair of old button-up women’s boots at a flea market last week. They reminded me of the steampunk style, and the boots are actually where I got the idea for the flowers. I washed the boots last week, dried them, and then super-glued pieces of metal to them. Once I brushed them with Mod Podge, I was able to line the inside with a vase to hold water for the flowers.

“Allysa?” I place the flowers on the center display table. “I’m pretty sure this is exactly what I was supposed to do with my life.”

“Steampunk?” she asks.

I laugh and spin around. “Create!” I say. And then I flip the sign to open, fifteen minutes early.

We both spend the day busier than we thought we’d be. Between phone orders, Internet orders, and walk-ins, neither of us even has time to take a lunch break.

“You need more employees,” Allysa says as she passes me, holding two bouquets of flowers. That is at one o’clock.

“You need more employees,” she says to me at two o’clock, holding the phone to her ear and writing down an order while ringing someone up at the register.

Marshall stops by after three o’clock and asks how it’s going.

Allysa says, “She needs more employees.”

I help a woman take a bouquet to her car at four o’clock, and as I’m walking back inside, Allysa is walking out, holding another bouquet. “You need more employees,” she says, exasperated.

At six o’clock, she locks the door and flips the sign. She falls against the door and slides to the floor, looking up at me.

“I know,” I tell her. “I need more employees.” She just nods.

And then we laugh. I walk over to where she’s seated and I sit next to her. We lean our heads together and look at the store. The steampunk flowers are front and center, and although I refused to sell this particular bouquet, we had eight preorders for more of them.

“I’m proud of you, Lily,” she says.

I smile. “I couldn’t have done it without you, Issa.”

We sit there for several minutes, enjoying the rest we’re finally giving our feet. This was honestly one of the best days I’ve ever had, but I can’t help but feel a nagging sadness that Ryle never stopped by. He also never texted.

“Have you heard from your brother today?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “No, but I’m sure he’s just busy.” I nod. I know he’s busy.

We both look up when someone knocks on the door. I smile when I see him cupping his hands around his eyes with his face pressed to the window. He finally looks down and sees us sitting on the floor.

“Speak of the devil,” Allysa says.

I jump up and unlock the door to let him in. As soon as I open it, he’s pushing his way inside. “I missed it? I did. I missed it.” He

hugs me. “I’m sorry, I tried to get here as soon as I could.”

I hug him back and say, “It’s fine. You’re here. It was perfect.” I’m giddy with excitement that he made it at all.

You’re perfect,” he says, kissing me.

Allysa brushes past us. “You’re perfect,” she mimics. “Hey Ryle, guess what?”

Ryle releases me. “What?”

Allysa grabs the trash can and drops it on the counter. “Lily needs to hire more employees.”

I laugh at her constant repetition. Ryle squeezes my hand and says, “Sounds like business was good.”

I shrug. “I can’t complain. I mean . . . I’m no brain surgeon, but I’m pretty good at what I do.”

Ryle laughs. “You guys need any help cleaning up?”

Allysa and I put him to work, helping us clean up after the big day. We get everything finished and prepped for tomorrow, and then Marshall arrives just as we’re finishing up. He’s carrying a bag when he walks inside and drops it on the counter. He begins to pull out huge lumps of some kind of material and tosses them at each of us. I catch mine and unfold it.

It’s a onesie.

With kittens all over it.

“Bruins game. Free beer. Suit up, team!”

Allysa groans and says, “Marshall, you made six million dollars this year. Do we really need free beer?”

He shoves a finger against her lips, pushing them in opposite

directions. “Shh! Don’t speak like a rich girl, Issa. Blasphemy.”

She laughs and Marshall grabs the onesie out of her hand. He unzips it and helps her into it. Once we’re all suited up, we lock the door and head to the bar.

I’ve never in my life seen so many men in onesies. Allysa and I are the only women wearing them, but I kind of like that. It’s loud. So loud, and each time the Bruins make a good play, Allysa and I have to cover our ears from the screams. After about half an hour, a booth on the top floor opens up and we all run upstairs to claim it.

“Much better,” Allysa says as we slide in. It’s much quieter up here, although still loud compared to normal standards.

A waitress comes over to take our drink order. I order red wine, and as soon as I do, Marshall practically jumps out of his seat. “Wine?” he yells. “You’re in a onesie! You don’t get free wine with a onesie!”

He tells the waitress to bring me a beer, instead. Ryle tells her to bring me wine. Allysa wants water, and this upsets Marshall even more. He tells the waitress to bring four bottles of beer and then Ryle says, “Two beers, red wine, and a water.” The waitress is very confused by the time she leaves our table.

Marshall throws his arm around Allysa and kisses her. “How am I supposed to try and knock you up tonight if you aren’t a little wasted?”

The look on Allysa’s face changes, and I feel instantly bad for her. I know Marshall only said that in fun, but it has to bother her. She was just telling me a few days ago how depressed she is that she can’t get pregnant.

“I can’t have beer, Marshall.”

“Then drink wine, at least. You like me more when you’re tipsy.” He laughs at himself, but Allysa doesn’t.

“I can’t have wine, either. I can’t have any alcohol, actually.” Marshall stops laughing.

My heart does a flip-flop.

Marshall turns in the booth and grabs her shoulders, making her face him straight-on. “Allysa?”

She just starts nodding and I don’t know who starts crying first.

Me or Marshall or Allysa. “I’m gonna be a dad?” he yells.

She’s still nodding, and I’m just bawling like an idiot. Marshall jumps up in the booth and yells, “I’m gonna be a dad!”

I can’t even explain what this moment is like. A grown man in a onesie, standing up in a booth at a bar, yelling to whoever will listen that he’s gonna be a dad. He pulls her up and they’re both standing in the booth now. He kisses her and it’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

Until I look at Ryle and catch him chewing on his bottom lip like he’s trying to blink back a potential tear. He glances at me and sees me staring, so he looks away. “Shut up,” he says. “She’s my sister.”

I smile and lean over and kiss him on the cheek. “Congratulations, Uncle Ryle.”

Once the parents-to-be stop making out in the booth, Ryle and I both stand up and congratulate them. Allysa said she’s been feeling sick for a while, but just took a test this morning before our grand opening. She was going to wait and tell Marshall tonight when they got home, but she couldn’t hold it in for another second.

Our drinks come and we order food. Once the waitress walks away, I look at Marshall. “How did you two meet?”

He says, “Allysa tells the story better than I do.”

Allysa perks up and leans forward. “I hated him,” she says. “He was Ryle’s best friend and he was always at the house. I thought he was so annoying. He had just moved to Ohio from Boston and he had that Boston accent. He thought it made him so cool but I just wanted to slap him every time he spoke.”

“She’s so sweet,” Marshall says, sarcastically.

“You were an idiot,” Allysa replies, rolling her eyes. “Anyway, one day Ryle and I had a few friends over. Nothing big, but our parents were out of town, so of course we had a little get-together.”

“There were thirty people there,” Ryle says. “It was a party.” “Okay, a party,” Allysa says. “I walked into the kitchen and

Marshall was standing there pressed up against some floozy.”

“She wasn’t a floozy,” he says. “She was a nice girl. Tasted like Cheetos, but . . .”

Allysa glares at him so he shuts up. She turns back to me. “I lost it,” she says. “I started yelling at him to take his whores to his own house. The girl was literally so terrified of me, she ran for the door and didn’t come back.”

“Cock blocker,” Marshall says.

Allysa punches him in the shoulder. “Anyway. After I cock blocked him, I ran to my room, embarrassed that I did that. It was out of pure jealousy, and I didn’t even realize I liked him that way until I saw his hands on some other girl’s ass. I threw myself on my bed and started crying. A few minutes later, he walked into my room and asked me if I was okay. I rolled over and yelled, ‘I like you, you stupid fuck-face!’ ”

“And the rest is history . . .” Marshall says.

I laugh. “Awe. Stupid fuck-face. How sweet.”

Ryle holds up a finger and says, “You’re leaving out the best part.”

Allysa shrugs. “Oh yeah. So Marshall walked over to me, pulled me off the bed, kissed me with the same mouth he was just kissing the floozy with, and we made out for half an hour. Ryle walked in on us and started screaming at Marshall. Then Marshall pushed Ryle out of my bedroom, locked the door, and made out with me for another hour.”

Ryle is shaking his head. “Betrayed by my best friend.” Marshall pulls Allysa to him. “I like her, you stupid fuck-face.”

I laugh, but Ryle turns to me with a serious look on his face. “I didn’t speak to him for an entire month, I was so mad. I eventually got over it. We were eighteen, she was seventeen. Wasn’t much I could do in the way of keeping them apart.”

“Wow,” I say. “I sometimes forget how close in age you two are.”

Allysa smiles and says, “Three kids in three years. I feel so sorry for my parents.”

The table grows quiet. I see an apologetic look pass from Allysa to Ryle.

“Three?” I ask. “You have another sibling?”

Ryle straightens up and takes a sip of his beer. He sets it back down on the table and says, “We had an older brother. He passed away when we were kids.”

Such a great night, ruined by a simple question. Luckily, Marshall redirects the conversation like a pro.

I spend the rest of the evening listening to stories about them growing up. I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed as hard as I have tonight.

When the game is over, we all walk back to the shop to retrieve our cars. Ryle said he caught an Uber over earlier, so he’ll just ride with me. Before Allysa and Marshall leave, I tell her to hold on. I run inside the store and grab the steampunk flowers and run them back to their car. Her face lights up when I hand them to her.

“I’m happy you’re pregnant but that’s not why I’m giving you these flowers. I just want you to have them. Because you’re my best friend.”

Allysa squeezes me and whispers in my ear. “I hope he marries you someday. We’ll be even better sisters.”

She climbs inside the car and they leave, and I just stand there watching them because I don’t know that I’ve ever had a friend like her in my whole life. Maybe it’s the wine. I don’t know, but I love today. Everything about it. I especially love how Ryle looks, leaning against my car, watching me.

“You’re really beautiful when you’re happy.” Ugh! This day! Perfect!

• • •

We’re making our way up the stairs to my apartment when Ryle grabs my waist and pushes me against the wall. He just starts kissing me, right there in the stairwell.

“Impatient,” I mutter.

He laughs and cups my ass with both of his hands. “Nope. It’s this onesie. You really should consider making this your business attire.” He kisses me again and doesn’t stop kissing me until someone passes us, heading down the stairs.

The guy mumbles, “Nice onesies,” as he squeezes past us. “Did the Bruins win?”

Ryle nods. “Three to one,” he responds, without looking up at the guy.

“Nice,” the guy says.

Once he’s gone, I step away from Ryle. “What is this onesie thing? Does every male in Boston know about this?”

He laughs and says, “Free beer, Lily. It’s free beer.” He pulls me up the stairs, and when we walk in the door, Lucy is standing at the kitchen table taping up a box of her stuff. There’s another box she hasn’t taped up yet and I could swear I see a bowl that I bought at HomeGoods sticking out of the top. She said she’d have all her stuff out by next week, but I have a feeling she’ll conveniently have some of my stuff out, too.

“Who are you?” she asks, looking Ryle up and down.

“Ryle Kincaid. I’m Lily’s boyfriend.” Lily’s boyfriend.

Did you hear that?


It’s the first time he’s confirmed it, and he said it so confidently. “My boyfriend, huh?” I walk into the kitchen and grab a bottle of

wine and two wineglasses.

Ryle comes up behind me as I’m pouring the wine and snakes his arms around my waist. “Yep. Your boyfriend.”

I hand him a glass of wine and say, “So I’m a girlfriend?”

He holds up his glass and clinks it against mine. “To the end of trial runs and the beginning of sure things.”

We’re both smiling as we take a drink of our wine.

Lucy stacks the boxes together and walks toward the front door. “Looks like I got out right in time,” she says.

The door closes behind her and Ryle raises an eyebrow. “I don’t think your roommate likes me very much.”

“You’d be surprised. I didn’t think she liked me, either, but yesterday she asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. I think she’s just hoping for free flowers, though. She’s very opportunistic.”

Ryle laughs and leans against the refrigerator. His eyes fall to a magnet that says “Boston” on it. He pulls it off the refrigerator and raises an eyebrow. “You’ll never get out of Boston purgatory if you keep souvenirs of Boston on your fridge like a tourist.”

I laugh and grab the magnet, slapping it back on the fridge. I like that he remembers so much about the first night we met. “It was a gift. It only counts as touristy if I bought it myself.”

He steps over to me and takes my glass of wine from my hands. He sets both of our glasses on the countertop, and then leans in and gives me a deep, passionate, drunken kiss. I can taste the tart fruitiness of the wine on his tongue and I like it. His hands go to the zipper on my onesie. “Let’s get you out of these clothes.”

He pulls me toward the bedroom, kissing me while we both struggle out of our clothes. By the time we make it to my bedroom, I’m down to my bra and panties.

He shoves me against the door, and I gasp at the unexpectedness of it.

“Don’t move,” he says. He presses his lips to my chest, then begins to kiss me slowly as he makes his way down my body.

Oh, Lord. Can this day seriously get any better?

I run my hands through his hair, but he grabs my wrists and presses them against the door. He climbs back up my body,

squeezing my wrists tightly. He raises an eyebrow in warning. “I said . . . don’t move.”

I try not to smile, but it’s hard to disguise. He drags his mouth back down my body. He slowly lowers my panties to my ankles, but he told me not to move, so I don’t kick them off.

His mouth slides up my thigh until . . . Yeah.


Day. Ever.

You'll Also Like