Chapter no 22

It Ends with us

Allysa is three days overdue.

We’ve lived in our new apartment for a week now. We successfully got all of our stuff moved the day Ryle was off, and Allysa and I went furniture shopping the second day we moved in. We were practically settled by the third day. We got our first piece of mail yesterday. It was a utility bill for establishing service, so it finally feels official now.

I’m married. I have a great husband. An awesome house. My best friend just happens to be my sister-in-law and I’m about to be an aunt.

Dare I say it . . . but can my life get any better?

I close my laptop and get ready to leave for the evening. I’ve been leaving earlier now than I usually do because I’m so excited to get home to my new apartment. Just as I begin to close my office door, Ryle uses his key to open the front door to the store. He lets the door fall shut behind him as he walks in with his hands full.

There’s a newspaper tucked under his arm and two coffees in his hands. Despite the frenzied look about him and the urgency in his step, he’s smiling. “Lily,” he says, walking toward me. He shoves one of the coffees in my hand and then pulls the newspaper out from under his arm. “Three things. One . . . did you see the paper?” He hands it to me. The paper is folded inside-out. He points at the article. “You got it, Lily. You got it!”

I try not to get my hopes up as I look down at the article. He could be talking about something totally different from what I’m thinking. Once I read the headline, I realize he’s talking about exactly what I was thinking. “I got it?”

I’d been notified that my business was nominated for an award

for Best of Boston. It’s a people’s choice awards the newspaper holds annually, and Lily Bloom’s was nominated under the “Best new businesses in Boston” category. The criteria are for businesses

that have been open less than two years. I had a suspicion I might have been chosen when a reporter for the paper called me last week and asked me a series of questions.

The title reads “Best new businesses in Boston. Votes are in for your top ten!”

I smile and almost spill my coffee when Ryle pulls me in, picks

me up, and spins me around.

He said he had three pieces of news, and if he started with that one, I have no idea what the other two could be. “What’s the second thing?”

He sets me back down on my feet and says, “I started with the best one. I was too excited.” He takes a sip of his coffee and then says, “I got selected for the training at Cambridge.”

My face is taken over by a huge smile. “You did?” He nods and then he hugs me and spins me around again. “I’m so proud of you,” I say, kissing him. “We’re both so successful, it’s sickening.”

He laughs.

“Number three?” I ask him.

He pulls back. “Oh, yeah. Number three.” He casually leans against the counter and takes a slow sip of his coffee. He gently places his coffee back on the counter. “Allysa is in labor.”

“What?!” I yell.

“Yeah.” He nods toward our coffees. “That’s why I brought you caffeine. We aren’t getting any sleep tonight.”

I start clapping, jumping up and down, and then panicking as I try to find my purse, my jacket, my keys, my phone, the light switch. Right before we make it to the door, Ryle rushes back to the counter and grabs the newspaper and tucks it under his arm. My hands are shaking with excitement as I lock the door.

“We’re gonna be aunts!” I say as I run to my car.

Ryle laughs at my joke and says, “Uncles, Lily. We’re gonna be uncles.”

• • •

Marshall calmly steps out into the hallway. Ryle and I both perk up and wait for the news. It’s been quiet in there for the past half an hour. We’ve been waiting to hear Allysa scream in agony—a sign she delivered—but there were no sounds at all. Not even the cries

of a newborn. My hands go up to my mouth and seeing the look on Marshall’s face has me fearing the worst.

His shoulders just start shaking and tears pour out of his eyes. “I’m a dad.” And then he punches the air. “I’m a DAD!”

He hugs Ryle and then me and says, “Give us fifteen minutes and you can come inside to meet her.”

When he closes the door, Ryle and I both release huge sighs of relief. We look at each other and smile. “You were thinking the worst, too?” he asks.

I nod and then hug him. “You’re an uncle,” I say, smiling. He kisses my head and says, “You too.”

Half an hour later, Ryle and I are both standing next to the bed, watching Allysa hold her new baby. She’s absolutely perfect. A little too new to tell who she looks like yet, but she’s beautiful, regardless.

“You want to hold your niece?” Allysa says to Ryle.

He kind of stiffens up like he’s nervous, but then he nods. She leans over and puts the baby in Ryle’s arms, showing him how to hold her. He stares down at her nervously and then walks over to the couch and takes a seat. “Have you guys decided on a name yet?” he asks.

“Yes,” Allysa says.

Ryle and I both look at Allysa and she smiles, teary eyed. “We wanted to name her after someone Marshall and I both think the world of. So we added an to your name. We’re calling her Rylee.” I instantly look back over at Ryle and he blows out a quick breath like he’s a little in shock. He looks back down at Rylee and

just starts smiling. “Wow,” he whispers. “I don’t know what to say.”

I squeeze Allysa’s hand and then walk over and take a seat next to Ryle. I’ve had a lot of moments when I thought I couldn’t love him more than I already do, but once again I’m proven wrong. Seeing the way he looks at his new baby niece makes my heart expand.

Marshall sits down on the bed next to Allysa. “Did you guys hear how quiet Issa was through the whole thing? Not a single peep. She didn’t even take drugs.” He puts his arm around her and lies down next to her on the bed. “I feel like I’m in that movie Hancock with Will Smith and I’m about to find out I’m married to a superhero.”

Ryle laughs. “She’s kicked my ass a time or two growing up. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“No cussing around Rylee,” Marshall says. “Ass,” Ryle whispers to her.

We both laugh and then he asks me if I want to hold her. I make

like I have grabby hands because waiting for my turn has been killing me. I pull her into my arms and am shocked by how much love I have for her already.

“When are Mom and Dad coming in?” Ryle asks Allysa. “They’ll be here by lunch tomorrow.”

“I should probably get some sleep then. Just got off a long shift.” He looks back at me. “You coming with?”

I shake my head. “I want to hang out for a little while longer. Just take my car and I’ll catch a cab home.”

He kisses me on the side of my head and then rests his head against mine as we both look down at Rylee. “I think we should make one of these,” he says.

I glance up at him, not sure if I heard him correctly.

He winks. “If I’m asleep when you get home later, wake me up. We’ll start on it tonight.” He tells Marshall and Allysa goodbye and Marshall walks him out.

I glance over at Allysa and she’s smiling. “I told you he’d want babies with you.”

I grin and walk back over to her bed. She scoots over and makes room for me. I hand Rylee back to her and we snuggle together on her bed and watch Rylee sleep, like it’s the most magnificent thing we’ve ever seen.

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