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Because the Night

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Lily graduates from college and her life falls apart—or at least that's how it feels. Within a day, Lily a) leaves the comfort of campus with a degree that doesn't guarantee her a job, b) breaks up with her boyfriend, Colin and c) moves back home for the foreseeable future. She's in a dead end. She's in a rut. She's not in any position to meet Diego in at the Highland Mountain House during a week-long tango vacation with her mom, but that said, when is anyone really ready to meet the love of their lives? *** Diego never wants to meet the love of his life. As the heir to the Highland Mountain House, any potential matches have to pass a series of elaborate challenges, staged by his extreme family. Diego never wants to put anyone through that—let alone the woman he loves. He saw what it did to his mother. But he's turning 31, and needs to find a wife if he wants to inherit the hotel. Enter: Lily, a student in the dance class he teaches. She might be exactly what he needs: Someone to go through he gauntlet with, without strings attached. She can leave when it's all over. As long as neither one of them develops feelings, Diego thinks, his plan will be just fine.

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Are You Ready Yet?

Her mother called it a war zone. Lily called it a bit of a mess.

When she moved back home, the disarray of her bedroom had been somewhat comforting. She could play hide and seek against herself among the mounds of dirty laundry and clean clothes, the half-zippered suitcases teeming with things she forgot she owned, the loosely packed boxes of remnants from freshman year. Everywhere she looked, she was reminded of a beloved memory from college.

Now that she was trying to pack a suitcase, she had to admit: The minor mess was becoming a major inconvenience.

Her mom had been reminding her of the trip every three seconds since she moved home from college. Lily understood her excitement: This was their first resort vacation, after a lifetime of July weeks at Jersey shore motels. But she was paralyzed. There were too many options. Her room was stuffed with things, none of them the right ones.

She should be done by now. Downstairs her mother was already loading things into the car. Lily heard the car trunk slam.


Lily shuddered. From two floors down, that pitch sounded like it was designed to pierce walls.

Her mom’s shrieks could send a cloud of birds flying out from the trees. Lily would know. It had happened before, once, when she was a girl and a kid had thrown a rock at her forehead. Her mom yelled — and the sparrows galloped into the sky, and Lily felt stuck to the ground, her head throbbing on the pavement.

“I’m almost done!” Lily said. She wasn’t. Her right hand was rifling through a pile of shirts, her left hand sitting through mismatched bikinis. What should she wear on a week long tango retreat in a remote mountain lodge?

“You better be. We’re already 20 minutes behind schedule.”

The horror! Lily rolled her eyes. Then the sound of her mom’s footsteps got louder as she climbed up the stairs, so Lily started shoving clothes into the big Vera Bradley bag she’d gotten for her high school graduation present. Only five years ago. Not much had changed since then. When her mom told her to do something, she did it immediately.

Ten minutes later, she was done. Tremendous accomplishment. Even better than last week’s college graduation. Her mom must’ve shouted, “Are you ready yet?” seven times. Each one sped her up.

She was finished, but she wasn’t proud. She had done a terrible job at packing. Too few shirts, too many pants. Why did she pack 13 dresses instead of shorts? Do people tango in shorts?

Why, you ask, would Lily procrastinate at doing something as simple as putting belongings in a suitcase for a trip? As anyone who has packed for a trip can tell you, packing is a tedious task that should be put off until the last possible minute so you can fit more life in to your life, instead of planning for the future.

So it was partially that. Lily didn’t quite feel like stuffing clothes in a bag for the next seven days when she was still in today.

But that wasn’t the real reason. Every since she had broken up with Colin on her last day of college a week ago, even the smallest task was hard. Even breathing. Packing? That seemed insurmountable.

Still, she managed. Still, she threw the pink floral bag in the trunk with a thud. Still, her mom turned the car on and somehow Lily moved forward.

And it’s good she moved forward. She didn’t know it yet, but she was about to crash into the story that would be the rest of her life. As we all are, every day. As we all are.

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