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Life Imperfect

Lily’s Story Book four

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Happily married for a year and a half, Lily is loving life with her little family. But when a series of unexpected challenges crop up, Lily struggles to recapture the happiness she thought she’d finally found.

At the same time, Lily’s good friend Alyssa is having serious issues of her own, and she turns to Lily for comfort and advice.

Will Lily be able to come to terms with her new reality, or will these difficulties push her marriage to the breaking point?

Scroll down to read the first chapter.

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Chapter 1

When the doorbell rang, two-year-old Natalie looked up from the doll she was playing with, her vivid blue eyes questioning. I loved her eyes. They looked just like Trevor’s, my deceased first husband. That was one feature that had drawn me to him right away, and though our marriage had ended violently, it was only due to that union that I had my daughter.

“Who could that be?” I asked with a smile.

She tossed her doll aside and scurried to the front door, then waited for me to open it.

Just as eager as Natalie, I hurried to the door and pulled it open. “Alyssa,” I said with a smile, then pulled her into a hug. “It’s so good to see you.”

“You too,” she said as she wrapped her arms around my shoulders. “It’s been too long.”

I released her and invited her in.

She stepped into the entry, then knelt in front of Natalie. “Hello, beautiful girl. Do you remember me?”

“Of course she does,” I said, my voice joyful. “We’ve been looking at pictures from your last visit.” I ran my fingers through Natalie’s soft baby hair. “Do you remember Aunt Alyssa?”

Natalie looked at Alyssa shyly, then nodded.

“She is so adorable,” Alyssa said as she stood.

“Thanks.”

“Is Jackson asleep?”

“Yes, but he’s due to wake up any minute.”

“Good. I can’t wait to hold him.”

“I was just about to have a late lunch,” I said as I walked towards the kitchen. “Are you hungry after that long drive?”

“Actually, I kind of am.”

I pulled out some lunch meat and bread and began making sandwiches. “How was the drive from Vegas?”

She leaned against the counter. “I left pretty early this morning, but the drive wasn’t too bad.”

“That’s good.” I glanced at her. “I need to get out there and see Trevor’s parents. They haven’t seen Jackson since he was born, and he’s five months old.”

Alyssa was quiet for a few moments. “I really admire how you’ve kept Trevor’s parents in your life, Lily. I don’t know if I could have done that. You know, after everything that happened with Trevor.”

Glancing at her again, I said, “I want Natalie to know her grandparents. Especially since mine are no longer around.” I smiled. “The more people who love her, the better.”

“Yeah. That totally makes sense.”

I carried the plates to the table and set them on the placemats, then turned to Alyssa. “How’s Ty?”

She smiled, but it seemed to falter. “He’s good.”

I wondered what she wasn’t telling me about her husband, but knew if she wanted to share whatever was troubling her, she’d tell me in time. I gestured for her to sit, then made sure Natalie was content with her doll before I sat as well. “What about your job? How’s that going?”

“It’s been busy. Las Vegas is a good place for those of us in the hospitality field. I’m glad I moved there.”

“I’ll bet. I’m just glad you were able to take a few days off for a visit.”

She picked up her sandwich. “Me too. But I’ll have to head back on Friday.”

“Well, that gives us a couple of days to visit.” At that moment I heard the unmistakable sound of Jackson waking up from his nap. Letting him fuss for a few minutes, I managed to eat half of my sandwich before pushing back from the table. “Motherhood calls,” I said.

Alyssa laughed as I headed towards the hallway. 

Pausing outside Jackson’s door, I listened to his baby sounds before pushing the door open and walking to his crib. “Hi there, baby,” I cooed. “We have a visitor today.”

Jackson kicked his feet and smiled as I reached down and lifted him from the crib. I changed him, then carried him into the kitchen.

Alyssa held out her hands. “Oh my goodness. He is so cute. He’s looking more and more like Marcus.”

I set him in her arms. “Yes, he is definitely a mini-Marcus.”

After only a moment, Jackson’s chin quivered, then he began to wail. Alyssa looked stricken as she held him out to me.

I laughed. “He’s just hungry.” I walked to the couch and sat on the soft cushions. “You don’t mind if I nurse him, do you?”

“Of course not.”

I got Jackson settled and a few moments later Alyssa joined me on the couch in the family room.

“You’re such a good mother, Lily.”

Warmed by her kind words, I smiled. “Just as you will be one day.”

She gazed at me, then her eyes filled with tears.

Horrified that I may have said something that had upset her, my face paled. “What’s wrong?”

“Oh, Lily,” she said as she took a tissue out of her purse and dabbed at her eyes. “Everything’s wrong.”

“What is it? What’s going on?”

She shook her head as she stared at her lap, then she finally met my gaze. “It’s Ty.”

Imagining all sorts of awful things, I waited for her to go on.

“Do you remember on our Alaskan wedding cruise, how he spent so much time in the casino?”

My mind went back to the good feelings and fun time I’d had on their wedding cruise. Between Natalie’s needs, and my budding friendship with Ty’s best friend/best man Cameron, I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to what Ty had been doing. “I guess so.”

“Well, I hadn’t realized it at the time, but—” A flush crept up Alyssa’s cheeks. “Ty has a gambling problem. A serious one.”

“Oh no.” I gazed at Alyssa’s worried face as I grasped for some words of comfort or wisdom. Nothing came to mind.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I’ve talked to him about it, but he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with spending hours at the casinos.”

I didn’t want to get too personal, but I also wanted to decide for myself if Alyssa was blowing this out of proportion. When we’d been going to school together at the University of Nevada, Reno, she’d second-guessed my decisions quite a bit. It had turned out she’d been right about Trevor, but still, I knew she could sometimes jump to conclusions. 

“How much time are we talking about?” I asked.

“Sometimes he goes straight to the casinos after he gets off work.” She averted her gaze. “I do work a lot of evenings though.”

“This isn’t your fault.”

She looked at me, her forehead wrinkled. “But he’s told me he hates coming home to an empty house. Especially when he knows I won’t be home for hours.” Her chin dipped towards her chest. “He said that’s why he goes to the casino.”

That didn’t sound like a gambling problem to me. More like a loneliness problem. “Alyssa.”

She looked up and met my gaze.

“Can you change your hours? You know, so that you’re gone less in the evenings?”

Her lips pressed into a straight line. “I tried that. But even when I’m home, he often goes to the casino. And then I end up sitting home alone.”

Now that sounded like more of an issue. 

“Lily?” Alyssa said, her voice beginning to shake.

“What?”

“Last night Ty and I had a huge fight. He told me he lost big yesterday, and now he owes the casino a lot of money. A lot.” Her eyebrows pulled together and she inhaled sharply through her nose before softly exhaling through her mouth, then she stared at me. “I left him, Lily.” Her shoulders seemed to collapse inward as her body began to tremble. “I left him.”

I lay Jackson across my lap, quickly adjusted my shirt, then moved to Alyssa’s side. I placed my arm around her shoulders and tugged her against me as she cried. I wanted to say something to comfort her, but I’d been through enough of my own challenges to know that false words of hope did nothing to help. The best thing I could do was just be there for her and to make sure she knew that she could count on me. Always.

* * *

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