Chapter no 21

It Ends with us

“I’m heading out. You need me to do anything else?”

I look up from the paperwork and shake my head. “Thank you, Serena. See you tomorrow.”

She nods and walks away, leaving the door to my office open.

Allysa’s last day was two weeks ago. She’s due any day now. I have two other full-time employees, Serena and Lucy.

Yes. That Lucy.

She’s been married for a couple of months now and came in looking for a job two weeks ago. It’s actually worked out pretty well. She keeps herself busy, and if I’m here when she is, I just keep my office door shut so I don’t have to listen to her sing.

It’s been almost a month since the incident on the stairs. Even with everything Ryle told me about his childhood, the forgiveness was still hard to come by.

I know Ryle has a temper. I saw it the first night we met, before we ever even spoke a word to each other. I saw it that awful night in my kitchen. I saw it when he found the phone number in my phone case.

But I also see the difference between Ryle and my father.

Ryle is compassionate. He does things my father never would have done. He donates to charity, he cares about other people, he puts me before everything. Ryle would never in a million years make me park in the driveway while he took the garage.

I have to remind myself of those things. Sometimes the girl inside of me—the daughter of my father—is really opinionated. She tells me I shouldn’t have forgiven him. She tells me I should have left the first time. And sometimes I believe that voice. But then the side of me that knows Ryle understands that marriages aren’t perfect. Sometimes there are moments that both parties regret. And I wonder how I’d feel about myself had I just left him after that first incident. He never should have pushed me, but I

also did things wasn’t proud of. And if I’d have just left, would that not be going against our marriage vows? For better or for worse. I refuse to give up on my marriage that easily.

I am a strong woman. I’ve been around abusive situations my whole life. I will never become my mother. I believe that a hundred percent. And Ryle will never become my father. I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together.

Last week we got into another fight.

I was scared. The other two fights we’d gotten into did not end well, and I knew this would be a testament to whether or not our agreement for me to help him through his anger would work.

We were discussing his career. He’s finished with his residency now and there’s a three-month specialized course in Cambridge, England, he applied for. He’ll find out soon if he was approved, but that’s not why I was upset. It’s a great opportunity and I’d never ask him not to go. Three months is nothing with how busy we are, so that wasn’t even what got me so upset. I became upset when he discussed what he wanted to do after the Cambridge trip was over.

He was offered a job in Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic and he wants us to move there. He said Mass General is rated the second best neurological hospital in the world. Mayo Clinic is number one. He said he never intended to stay in Boston forever. I told him that would have been a good subject to bring up when we discussed our futures on the flight to get married in Vegas. I can’t leave Boston. My mother lives here. Allysa lives here. He told me it was only a five-hour flight and that we could visit as often as we wanted.

I told him it was pretty hard to run a floral business when you live several states away.

The fight continued to escalate and both of us were getting angrier by the second. At one point, he knocked a vase full of flowers off the table and onto the floor. We both just stared at them for a moment. I was scared, wondering if I had made the right decision to stay. To trust that we could work on his anger issues together. He took a deep breath and he said, “I’m going to leave for an hour or two. I think I need to walk away. When I get back, we’ll continue this discussion.”

He walked out the door and, true to his word, he came back an hour later when he was much calmer. He dropped his keys on the table and then walked straight to where I was standing. He took my face in his hands and he said, “I told you I wanted to be the best in my field, Lily. I told you this the first night we ever met. It was one of my naked truths. But if I have to choose between working at the best hospital in the world and making my wife happy . . . I choose you. You are my success. As long as you’re happy, I don’t care where I work. We’ll stay in Boston.”

That’s when I knew that I had made the right choice. Everyone deserves another chance. Especially the people who mean the most to you.

It’s been a week since that fight and he hasn’t mentioned moving again. I feel bad, like I thwarted his plans in some way, but marriage is about compromise. It’s about doing what’s best for the couple as a whole, not individually. And staying in Boston is better for everyone in both of our families.

Speaking of families, I look over at my phone right as a text from Allysa comes through.

Allysa: Are you finished up at work yet? I need your opinion on furniture. Me: Be there in fifteen minutes.

I don’t know if it’s the impending delivery or the fact that she’s not currently working, but I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time at her house this week than I have at my own. I close up the shop and head toward her apartment.

• • •

When I step off the elevator, there’s a note taped to her apartment door. I see my name written across it, so I pull it off the door.


On the seventh floor. Apartment 749.


She has an apartment here just for extra furniture? I know they’re rich, but even that seems a little excessive for them. I get on the elevator and press the button for the seventh floor. When the doors open, I head down the hall toward apartment 749. When I reach it,

I have no idea if I should knock or just go inside. For all I know, someone could live here. Probably one of her people.

I knock on the door and hear footsteps from the other side.

I’m shocked when the door swings open and Ryle is standing in front of me.

“Hey,” I say, confused. “What are you doing here?”

He grins and leans against the doorframe. “I live here. What are you doing here?”

I glance at the pewter number plate next to the door and then back at him. “What do you mean you live here? I thought you lived with me. You’ve had your own apartment this whole time?” I would think an entire apartment would be something a husband would bring up to his wife at some point. It’s a little unnerving.

Actually, it’s ludicrous and deceptive. I think I might be really angry at him right now.

Ryle laughs and pushes off the doorframe. Now he’s filling up the entire doorway as he lifts his hands to the frame over his head and grips it. “I haven’t really had a chance to tell you about this apartment, considering I just signed the paperwork on it this morning.”

I take a step back. “Wait. What?”

He reaches for my hand and pulls me inside the apartment. “Welcome home, Lily.”

I pause in the foyer.

Yes. I said foyer. There is a foyer. “You bought an apartment?”

He nods slowly, gauging my reaction. “You bought an apartment,” I repeat.

He’s still nodding. “I did. Is that okay? I figured since we live together now we could use the extra room.”

I spin in a slow circle. When my eyes land on the kitchen, I pause. It’s not as big as Allysa’s kitchen, but it’s just as white and almost as beautiful. There’s a wine cooler and a dishwasher, two things my own apartment doesn’t have. I walk into the kitchen and look around, scared to touch anything. Is this really my kitchen? This can’t be my kitchen.

I look in the living room at the cathedral ceilings and the huge

windows overlooking Boston Harbor.

“Lily?” he says from behind me. “You aren’t mad, are you?”

I spin and face him, realizing that he’s been waiting on me to react for the past several minutes. But I’m completely speechless.

I shake my head and bring my hand up to cover my mouth. “I don’t think so,” I whisper.

He walks up to me and takes my hands in his, pulling them up between us. “You don’t think so?” He looks worried and confused. “Please give me a naked truth, because I’m starting to think maybe I shouldn’t have done this as a surprise.”

I look down at the hardwood floor. It’s real hardwood. It’s not laminate. “Okay,” I say, looking back up at him. “I think it’s crazy that you just went and bought an apartment without me. I feel like that’s something we should have done together.”

He’s nodding and it looks like he’s about to spit out an apology, but I’m not finished.

“But my naked truth is that . . . it’s perfect. I don’t even know what to say, Ryle. Everything is so clean. I’m scared to move. I might get something dirty.”

He blows out a rush of air and pulls me to him. “You can get it dirty, babe. It’s yours. You can get it as dirty as you want.” He kisses the side of my head and I don’t even say thank you yet. It seems like such a small response to such a huge gesture.

“When do we move in?”

He shrugs. “Tomorrow? I have the day off. It’s not like we have a whole lot of stuff. We can spend the next few weeks buying new furniture.”

I nod, trying to run through tomorrow’s schedule in my head. I already knew Ryle was off tomorrow, so I didn’t have anything planned.

I suddenly feel the need to sit down. There aren’t any chairs, but luckily, the floor is clean. “I need to sit down.”

Ryle helps me to the floor and then he lowers himself in front of me, still holding my hands.

“Does Allysa know?” I ask him.

He smiles and nods his head. “She’s so excited, Lily. I’ve been thinking about getting an apartment here for a while now. After we decided to stay in Boston for good, I just went ahead with it to

surprise you. She helped, but I was starting to worry she’d tell you before I had the chance.”

I just can’t wrap my head around this. I live here? Me and Allysa get to be neighbors now? I don’t know why I feel like this should bother me, because I really am excited about it.

He smiles and then says, “I know you need a minute to process everything, but you haven’t seen the best part and it’s killing me.”

“Show me!”

He grins and pulls me to my feet. We make our way through the living room and down a hallway. He opens each door and tells me what the rooms are, but doesn’t even give me time to go in any of them. By the time we make it to the master bedroom, I’ve concluded that we live in a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment. With an office.

I don’t even have time to process the beauty of the bedroom as he pulls me across the room. He reaches a wall covered by a curtain and he turns and faces me. “It’s not a ground that you can plant a garden in, but with a few pots, it can come close.” He pulls the curtain aside and opens a door, revealing a huge balcony. I follow him outside, already daydreaming about all the potted plants I could fit up here.

“It overlooks the same view as the rooftop deck,” he says. “We’ll always have the same view we had from the night we met.”

It took a while to sink in, but it all hits me in this moment and I just start crying. Ryle pulls me to his chest and wraps his arms tightly around me. “Lily,” he whispers, running his hand over my hair. “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

I laugh between my tears. “I just can’t believe I live here.” I pull away from his chest and look up at him. “Are we rich? How can you afford this?”

He laughs. “You married a neurosurgeon, Lily. You aren’t necessarily strapped for cash.”

His comment makes me laugh and then I cry some more. And then we have our very first visitor because someone begins pounding on the door.

“Allysa,” he says. “She’s been waiting down the hall.”

I run to the front door and swing it open and we both hug and squeal and I might even cry a little more.

We spend the rest of the evening at our new apartment. Ryle orders Chinese takeout and Marshall comes down to eat with us. We have no tables or chairs yet, so the four of us sit in the middle of the living room floor and eat straight out of the containers. We talk about how we’ll decorate, we talk about all the neighborly things we’ll do together, we talk about Allysa’s impending delivery.

It’s everything and more.

I can’t wait to tell my mother.

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