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!”

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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.

Chapter Twenty-Two

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.

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