Ryle just opened up to me in a way that he’s probably never opened up to anyone. He’s struggling to be a better person for me.

Yes, he screwed up last night. But he’s here and he’s trying to make me understand his past and why he reacted the way he did. Humans aren’t perfect and I can’t let the only example I’ve ever witnessed of marriage weigh in on my own marriage.


I wipe my eyes and pull myself up. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see my mother. I just see me. I see a girl who loves her husband and wants more than anything to be able to help him. I know Ryle and I are strong enough to move past this. Our love is strong enough to get us through this.

I walk out of the bathroom and back into the living room. Ryle stands up and faces me, his face full of fear. He’s scared I’m not going to forgive him, and I’m not sure that I do forgive him. But an act doesn’t have to be forgiven in order to learn from it.

I walk over to him and I grab both of his hands in mine. I speak to him with nothing but naked truth.

“Remember what you said to me on the roof that night? You said, ‘There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.’ ”

He nods and squeezes my hands.

“You aren’t a bad person, Ryle. I know that. You can still protect me. When you’re upset, just walk away. And I’ll walk away. We’ll leave the situation until you’re calm enough to talk about it, okay? You are not a monster, Ryle. You’re only human. And as humans, we can’t expect to shoulder all of our pain. Sometimes we have to share it with the people who love us so we don’t come crashing down from the weight of it all. But I can’t help you unless I know you need it. Ask me for help. We’ll get through this, I know we can.”

He exhales what feels like every breath he’s been holding in since last night. He wraps his arms tightly around me and buries his face in my hair. “Help me, Lily,” he whispers. “I need you to help me.”

He holds me against him and I know deep in my heart that I’m doing the right thing. There is so much more good in him than bad, and I’ll do whatever I can to convince him of that until he can see it, too.

Chapter Twenty-One

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“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 I 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.

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