Summary: Chapter Eighteen
Lily is nervous about meeting Ryle’s parents. He tries to reassure her, but she’s worried they will judge her for “living in sin” with their son. His mom overhears this concern and starts to tease and hug Lily. Lily is very happy to be accepted into Ryle and Allysa’s family.
Allysa and Lily are in Allysa’s bedroom, talking about how excited they are to meet the baby in two and a half months. Lily feels the baby kick. Allysa says she’s excited for Lily and Ryle to have a baby and Lily says she’s not sure Ryle wants kids. Allysa is convinced it won’t matter because Ryle loves Lily so much. She asks Lily if she would marry Ryle and Lily says yes and Ryle overhears. Lily is embarrassed but Ryle tells her that he’d marry her in a heartbeat. She’s so happy that he says he wants to go to Vegas and get married right away.
Summary: Chapter Nineteen
Six weeks after the Vegas wedding, Lily’s mother is still disappointed that Lily didn’t have a real wedding. She feels cheated out of the experience but says that Lily can make it up to her by giving her a grandchild. Lily and Ryle are happy newlyweds and make love on the couch.
Lily is taking a shower to clean up before dinner with Marshall and Allysa when she starts to hear crashing sounds from the other room. She finishes showering and investigates. He says he dropped her phone and found Atlas’s phone number in her phone case. He called the phone number and heard Atlas’s voicemail. He throws Lily’s phone against the wall. Lily is afraid he’s going to hurt her or leave her. He starts to run down the stairs, and she follows him. She blacks out.
When she comes to, she’s in the bedroom. Ryle is tending to her injuries and calmly telling her to be still. Ryle looks at her with concern and anger as Lily tries to remember what happened. He tells her she fell down the stairs, but she remembers that he pushed her. She’s overcome with sadness and grief. She starts crying, and he continues to say she fell, as he recites her injuries to her. Ryle calls her a liar, throws the phone number at her, and storms out of the apartment. Lily is brokenhearted.
Ryle comes back and asks Lily to tell him the truth. She does, telling Ryle that there’s nothing going on between her and Atlas. He’s relieved. When he continues to say that Lily fell down the stairs, Lily throws him out of the apartment.
Summary: Chapter Twenty
When Allysa sees Lily’s injuries, she tells Ryle that he has to tell Lily what happened. Lily doesn’t know what this means but agrees to listen to Ryle. He tells her that when they were kids, he accidentally shot and killed his brother Emerson. He says it destroyed him and sometimes he still gets angry and can’t control his temper. Lily forgives him and says that he has to walk away whenever he gets angry with her in the future.
Summary: Chapter Twenty-One
Lily is still nervous about Ryle’s temper, especially when they get into a fight again. He wants to move to Minnesota to be at the best hospital, but Lily doesn’t want to leave Boston. He gets angry but he leaves to calm down and when he comes back, he says they can stay in Boston. In that moment, Lily feels like she has made the right decision in staying with Ryle.
Ryle surprises Lily with an apartment in Allysa’s building. He bought it without asking her, which makes Lily nervous, but she loves the apartment and being near Allysa and Marshall. The four celebrate the new apartment, eating Chinese takeout on the floor.
Summary: Chapter Twenty-Two
In one day, Lily’s flower shop gets nominated for best new business in Boston, Ryle gets into a training in Cambridge, and Allysa goes into labor.
Ryle and Lily go to meet the baby, who is named Rylee, after Ryle. They all fall in love with Rylee. Lily reflects on what a magical day it is.
Analysis: Chapters Eighteen–Twenty-Two
This section explores how difficult it is to escape the trauma of the past. Both Ryle and Lily have spent their entire lives trying to escape their traumatic upbringings. When Ryle tells Lily about shooting his brother, she feels that the pain of that day will live with him always, no matter how much he tries to heal it. The boy who tried to put his dead brother’s head back together again grew up to be a neurosurgeon, suggesting that, in some way, Ryle has spent his entire life trying to fix the unfixable and to heal from a wound that won’t scar over. In the same way, Lily has spent her life trying to escape the violence of her upbringing. She left her hometown, avoided her father, and vowed never to be in an abusive relationship herself. Unfortunately, Lily and Ryle’s past traumas align so that Ryle is constantly re-injuring Lily and himself. Unable to control his temper in his rage blackouts, he’s doomed to continually harm the person he loves most, and as long as she’s with Ryle, Lily is trapped in an abuse cycle that parallels her parents’ dynamic.
Ryle’s grand gestures are as much a part of the cycle of abuse as his violent outbursts. In between incidents of physically harming Lily, Ryle is prone to grand gestures and gifts, such as knocking on 29 doors to beg her for sex, inviting himself to meet Lily’s mother, springing a proposal on her out of the blue, and buying Lily an apartment without consulting her. Though Lily views these acts as part of their whirlwind romance and is often swept up in them, they also take away her agency and are disruptors to her plans. Ryle’s quick, impulsive decisions always serve to escalate the relationship and to move them quickly through to the next level in their relationship. This is in line with abusive “love bombing,” or the use of compliments, lavish praise, extreme gifts, and intense declarations of love to speed and heighten commitment and create a sense of dependency. The violence cycle for many couples embroiled in domestic abuse often cycles between physical or emotional abuse and love bombing. Ryle’s love bombing makes Lily feel as though she’s on top of the world when he’s not hurting her, which makes it all the more painful when he harms her.
This section also explores the power of ambition and self-determination. In the midst of her intense romance and while grappling with Ryle’s abuse, Lily is also building a successful flower shop. It’s growing so much she needs new employees, and it’s recognized by the press as an important new business in the city. Atlas is also featured in the same “best of Boston” article, and it’s powerful to see the two businesses that Lily and Atlas created flourish in Boston. Both of them have come so far from the seeds they planted as adolescents, Lily growing a garden in her backyard and Atlas baking cookies in a borrowed kitchen. Their success parallels the way they are each moving away from the pain of their past and towards a new future. They both fled to Boston for the promise it held for a better future and now they are both enjoying success as two of “the best in Boston.”