And it wasn't just the children who appreciated her presence. Because of her, Mordecai was now able to pursue his dream of becoming a great gardener and explorer, and had the time he needed to find rarer gems in secret places that he could sell for a higher profit - ensuring the family would stay afloat.
However, most of all, he looked forward to the end of the day, when Lily had tucked the little ones into bed. After he'd spent a long day alone among the leaves and blooms, Lily would come out into the garden and join him - giving him some much-cherished company and socialization. In time, he found himself waiting for her arrival more and more eagerly.
In short - he had fallen in love.
One morning during breakfast, when he felt that he could hide it no longer, Mordecai confided his feelings for Lily to his father - desperate for advice.
"I just don't know what to do, Dad," he said. "I really, really like her - but at the end of the day, she's here because she's paid to be. I'm her employer, and I'm so scared she'll get the wrong idea."
"I'm sure she won't see it like that," Montague replied between sips of coffee. "If I were you, I'd just ask her out."
"Oh no! I can't do that - not yet. I'm just not ready..."
"Oh, ready shemeady! You just have to dive in with these things, boy!"
They were interrupted by Lily scurrying into the kitchen, making headway for the fridge.
"Don't mind me, gents," she said brightly. "I'm just making the twins some cereal. Is there anything you'd like me to do today?"
"If you could help Milo with his flash cards and maybe give them both a bath," Mordecai told her, "then that would be very helpful, thank you."
"And when you've done that," Montague added, "you can go on a date with my son."
Mordecai glared at his father with a gaze that could only be described as murderous. Lily, however, chuckled softly, and looked up at Mordecai.
"Do... you want to, Mordecai?" she asked.
The young man's face turned scarlet.
"Well... yes... if... if you want to... that is..." he stammered nervously in response.
Lily grinned, and nodded.
"Yes, I would," she told him. "I'd like that very much. Can you and Rebekah watch the kids, Montague?"
"No problem. Us retired people need something to do."
"Then shall we say seven o'clock?" Lily asked Mordecai.
"Se... seven... s-sounds great."
"Perfect. I'll see you then."
As she headed upstairs, Mordecai made his way into the garden. As he passed his father, who was now glugging coffee with a particularly smug expression on his face, he sighed and shook his head, still embarrassed.
"Hey - at least I got the job done!" Montague called after him.
At 7pm precisely, Lily meet Mordecai in the lounge - and suggested to him that they go to a small bar nearby that she was quite fond of. That sounded like a good idea to Mordecai, so he agreed. The pair called for a taxi, and headed off for a night of fun.
Once at the bar, Mordecai bought himself and Lily a drink, and they sat together chatting, getting to know one another better.
"So, tell me," Lily asked him, "what happened between you and the kids' mother?"
Mordecai's mind raced, desperately thinking up a good story. There was no way Lily could know the truth - she had never seen the twins without their human disguises. And he didn't want to risk losing her now.
"We... we only knew each fairly briefly," he told her. "I... I was very young. Twenty-one. It was like we were from two different worlds. Once the children came along, she'd pretty much got what she wanted - so she left them and me behind and moved on."
"What was her name?"
"I... I don't like to say it. Too many painful memories. Besides, Milo and Miranda are better off without her. They needn't know who she is."
"I understand," Lily replied, deciding not to press the issue. "It must have been very hard for you."
As the pair sipped their drinks, an upbeat dance song began playing on the jukebox. Lily laughed happily as she heard it.
"Oh, wow!" she cried. "This is my favourite song!"
She held her hand out to Mordecai.
"Care to dance with me?" she asked.
"Me?" Mordecai answered, shocked. "Oh no, I couldn't... really... I don't dance..."
"Oh, come on!" Lily said. "It'll be fun!"
"Well... all right."
Grinning, Lily seized Mordecai's hand, and led him up to the dance floor. As the music took hold of her, she whirled her body around to the beat with grace and elegance. Mordecai awkwardly performed a few clunky, stiff moves of his own... but most of the time, he couldn't take his eyes off his companion.
Suddenly, Mordecai remembered something. Pulling away, he reached into his inside jacket pocket - and produced a beautiful red rose. He offered it to Lily, who took it gratefully: touched by the gesture.
"I grew this especially for you," Mordecai told her. "I hope you like it."
"It's beautiful," Lily told him. "Thank you."
As the song came to an end, a slower, softer melody took its place. As the couple stopped their grooving and shaking, Mordecai turned to Lily and outstretched his arms, hinting at an embrace. Lily nodded, and stepped into it, wrapping her own arms around Mordecai. The pair swayed back and forth, slowly - each enjoying the warmth and companionship of the other.
Without any conscious thought, both parties leaned forward... and their lips met.
Lily whispered in Mordecai's ear.
"Take me home."
As Mordecai drifted off to sleep, Lily laid beside him in bed, gazing at him. Gently, she ran her hand along a small scar she had spotted on his abdomen. As her fingers lingered on the old wound, she couldn't help but be curious about how he had acquired it. She made a mental note to ask him about it one day.
She didn't regret tonight... what the two of them had done. Life was for living, and she had loved Mordecai from the day she met him. Never before had she met someone who made her feel so safe, so wanted, and who was so like-minded... a kindred spirit. To know that he loved her too was a blessing she had hoped for desperately, but never thought she'd achieve.
She knew that the transition from employee to romantic partner wouldn't be a hard one. After all, the family had already accepted her, and she was beginning to love little Milo and Miranda as though they were her own. There were only the formalities to take care of. She would write her notice and hand it in first thing in the morning. Then, neither she nor her new lover would need to feel guilty about what had happened.
Besides, the children were growing up. Their school days were fast approaching. They wouldn't need a nanny around for much longer.
Closing her eyes, Lily snuggled up to Mordecai, and slept soundly.