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Prologue

Better Than the Movies

My mother taught me the golden rule of dating before I even hit the second grade.

At the ripe age of seven, I’d snuck into her room after having a nightmare. (A house-size cricket might not sound scary, but when it speaks in a robot voice and knows your middle name, it is terrifying.) Bridget Jones’s Diary was playing on the boxy television on top of the dresser, and I’d watched a good portion of the movie before she even noticed me at the foot of her bed. At that point, it was too late to rescue me from the so-not-1rst-grade-friendly content, so she snuggled up beside me, and we watched the happy ending together.

But my 1rst-grade brain just couldn’t compute. Why would Bridget give up the cuter one—the charming one—for the person who was the equivalent of one ginormous yawn? How did that even make sense?

Yep—I’d missed the movie’s point completely and had fallen madly in love with the playboy. And to this day, I can still hear my mom’s voice and smell the vanilla of her perfume as she played with my hair and set me straight.

“Charm and intrigue can only get you so far, Libby Loo. Those things always disappear, which is why you never, ever choose the bad boy.”

After that, we shared hundreds of similar moments, exploring life together through romantic movies. It was our thing. We’d snack-up, kick back on the pillows, and binge-watch from her collection of kiss-infused happy endings like other people binge-watched trashy reality TV.

Which, in hindsight, is probably why I’ve been waiting for the perfect romance since I was old enough to spell the word “love.”

And when she died, my mother bequeathed to me her unwavering belief in happily ever after. My inheritance was the knowledge that love is always in the air, always a possibility, and always worth it.

Mr. Right—the nice-guy, dependable version—could be waiting around the very next corner.

Which was why I was always at the ready.

It was only a matter of time before it 1nally happened for me.

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