Meet Cute


By Helena Hunting

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The New York Times bestselling author of Pucked and The Good Luck Charm delivers a Hollywood happily-ever-after where a famous heartthrob falls for his ultimate fangirl.

“As charming as its title, but it’s also so much more… Fans of Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date and Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient will love Meet Cute.” —The Washington Independent Review of Books

Kailyn Flowers was always calm, rational, and controlled–until she ended up sprawled all over Daxton Hughes, the former actor she totally crushed on as a teenager. Then she did the unthinkable: She became a mortifying fangirl in five seconds flat, which may or may not have included professing her undying love. And oddly, he didn’t run away. In fact, their meet cute led to a friendship she never saw coming. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming, either…

Now Dax needs her help. As guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister, he’s in way over his head. And though Kailyn hasn’t forgiven Dax, she isn’t heartless enough to make him fend for himself, either. Soon their friendly meetings turn into flirty dinner dates, and Kailyn can feel their chemistry is as explosive as ever. But how can she possibly let down her guard again to a guy who has heartbreak written all over him?

Goodreads Hottest Romances of 2019
Featured in Entertainment Weekly
O, The Oprah Magazine Best Romance Novels of 2019
Featured on PopSugar
Women’s HealthBest Romance Novels of 2019
SheReads Most Anticipated Reads of 2019
Heroes & Heartbreakers Anticipated Books of 2019
Chatelaine’s Hottest Romances of 2019



Fangirl Down


The key to success is to visualize it." The soothing voice commands my attention, mostly because I'm wearing earbuds and it blocks everything else out. I resist the urge to check my schedule again—I know exactly where my class is since I walked the route yesterday and focus on the podcast. It's my first day of law school and I'm determined to go in with a clear mind. "Close your eyes and visualize what your success looks like. Visualize success."

"Visualize success," I murmur, and close my eyes as I cut across the open field. It's a shortcut and also a place where students hang out between classes.

"Exhale your anxiety," the motivational podcast woman exhales into my ear. "And breathe in success." Podcast Woman sucks in a windy breath.

"Inhale success." The fresh scent of grass and trees tickles my nose, and I think maybe someone nearby might be wearing cologne, because I get a whiff of that, too.

I crack a lid, just to make sure I'm not wandering off course.

"What does your success look like? Visualize that success. Say it with me…"

I close my eyes and repeat it, visualizing finals and graduation and getting the best possible internships, having the best average in the class, getting the best job. I repeat the mantra as I continue across the open green space, more and more excited for my first class. I'm going to kick all the asses this year. I'm going to beat every single one of my classmates and climb my way to the very top. Like Mount Everest, except not terrifyingly dangerous.

I'm in the middle of visualizing winning my first case when I'm startled by a loud shout. I open my eyes to find a Frisbee hurtling toward me. Worse than the Frisbee, though, is the huge guy jumping to catch it—the air he gets is rather extraordinary—unfortunately, it's sending him on a collision course, and I'm the object he's due to hit.

My knapsack slips from my shoulder, and I trip over it as I try to avoid either the Frisbee or the guy. The mantra in my ears silences as the headphones pull free.

"Watch out!" someone yells.

I spin around, disoriented, and am slammed into by the guy with the amazing vertical.

"Oh shit!" he yells.

I grab on to his shoulders as I stumble over my stupid knapsack and pull him down with me. We land on the ground with an oomph. I'm still gripping his shirt, trying to figure out how this happened, and thinking about how much this is not how I visualize success at all.

"I'm so sorry. Are you okay?" He braces himself on his forearms, pretty much doing a push-up on top of me. I'd be impressed if I wasn't so embarrassed.

"I'd be a lot better if people watched where they were going," I mutter as I try to extract my limbs from his without doing any damage to either of us. He's straddling my leg, so any sudden movements and my knee and his man parts will meet in an unfriendly way. I note that he smells like fresh laundry, deodorant, and a hint of cologne, accented by watermelon gum.

His face is only about six inches from mine, so his frown is up close and rather personal. "You walked through the middle of our game."

I glance toward the group of Frisbee players, realizing he's right. I was so busy visualizing my own success that I totally screwed up their game.

"I'm so sorry. I was listening to a podca—" I look back up at him, and my explanation gets stuck in my throat when I stop to really take him in.

I recognize his face as one I've had endless fantasies about all through my teen years. And into my adult ones. As recently as last week, even.

His slightly annoyed expression shifts into amusement as I stare up at him, slack jawed. I'm still fisting his shirt. He's still doing a push-up on top of me. Daxton Hughes's thigh is between my legs.

"Holy crap!" My voice is too high and far too loud, especially considering my face is less than six inches from his. In fact, it's a full-on shriek. As if I'm an eleven-year-old girl again. "You're Daxton Hughes! I love you!" I take him totally off guard when I throw my arms around him, setting him off balance so that he lands on top of me. He's remarkably heavy, but I don't care because our bodies are flush against each other. I will never forget this moment for as long as I live. Daxton Hughes is lying on top of me! Too bad we're not at the beach and both in bathing suits. Or in bed. Naked.

I'm still hugging him as he drags me up into a sitting position. It's super awkward with the way we both have a knee perilously close to each other's crotch. I also register how stiff he is, and exactly what I've just said and what I'm currently doing. We're in the middle of an open expanse of field, and there are people everywhere.

Horrified, I release him and crabwalk backward, almost kneeing him in the man jewels. I clamber to my feet, taking a step back as he pushes up, rising to his full height. My God he's tall, taller than I expected, and broad. But I suppose he's grown into his body since he starred in my favorite TV show. My hands are flapping. Why are my hands flapping? I need to make my body stop doing weird things, but I'm out of control and my nervousness takes over, sending me careening into the land of insanely embarrassing behavior. There are too many witnesses.

His blue-green eyes, the color of a tropical ocean, are wide, and that momentary gorgeous smile falters. Which I understand, because I'm being that girl. I am never that girl. Except in this moment.

I gain semicontrol of my hands, toning down the flap to an uncoordinated wave of dismissal, in an attempt to erase those last words. But it's too late to take them back. I also seem unable to do anything apart from spew embarrassing, nonsensical word vomit all over him. "I mean, I loved your show. Like, so much. It was my favorite, like, ever. I watched it every Tuesday night for years. All through junior high and then by high school they had these It's My Life weekend marathons and me and my girlfriends would have sleepovers and stay up all night. You were amazing as Dustin. I think season three was my favorite, or maybe season four. Oh my God. I can't believe you're standing here. I can't believe I'm meeting you." I can't believe my mouth keeps running.

With every overly loud admission, his jaw tics. I can't tell if he's embarrassed or irritated. Probably both. I wish someone would club me over the head and knock me out so I could stop this train wreck. I'm 100 percent starstruck, and even though I know I'm making an absolute fool out of myself, I'm unable to stop.

"Can I get your autograph? Maybe you can sign my schedule. Or my map. Oh! You can sign me!" I pick my knapsack up, along with my phone and earbuds, shoving those into my jeans pocket. I jam my hand in the front pocket of my knapsack, grasping for any kind of writing implement. I come up with a fistful of options, including a hot-pink highlighter. "Do you think this color will show up on my arm? Oh! How about my shirt? I mean, the pink doesn't really match but whatevs, right?"

He covers my hand with his. He's touching me again. On purpose! His eyes dart around, and he leans in close. "I'll sign anything you want, but as much as I love your enthusiasm, and I really do, I'm trying to go under the radar, and you've got some cheerleader lungs on you." His voice is much lower than mine, and I realize it's an attempt to get me to quiet down.

I cover my mouth with my palm. "Right. Sorry. Oh my God. I'm so sorry. This is so embarrassing. I just…you have no idea. Or you probably do. I didn't think you'd be so tall. And you're even better looking up close. I always thought you must wear contacts. Your eyes are so pretty." I squeeze my eyes shut. "I really need to shut up."

He chuckles. "Your eyes are pretty, too."

I crack a lid, and he gives me a lopsided smile as he plucks a Sharpie from my hand and scribbles on my knapsack. I'm never throwing it out, ever.

"Hughes, we gotta roll out," someone calls.

He holds up a finger, then caps the Sharpie and passes it back. "I gotta get to class, but maybe I'll see you around." He winks and turns away, breaking into a jog as he catches a bag from one of his friends.

"I just met Daxton Hughes and he told me I have pretty eyes," I say as I continue across the quad. A couple of girls sitting under a tree give me a weird look, but I don't care. This is the best first day of law school ever. Embarrassment hits as I make a quick stop in the bathroom to prevent hyperventilating due to excessive excitement. I fangirled so hard, and he was so nice. And he touched me.

I always imagined that if I met one of my favorite celebrities, I'd act cool, be all casual about it, treat them like a regular person. Obviously I was very wrong about that.

I spend too much time in the bathroom making sure I look half-decent, and I'm forced to speed walk all the way to my building. By the time I arrive I have only two minutes to spare. So much for getting a good seat. It's fine. Visualize success.

I enter the lecture hall through the back door, so I don't have to pass the professor on my way in. I'm sweaty and disheveled as I scan the room. Only a few empty seats remain. I murmur excuse me as I shimmy down the aisle, forcing people to move their feet and bags. As I close in on the open seat, I approach a set of outstretched legs and mutter another excuse me. I'm so high on the awesomeness of my morning that I don't see the messenger bag strap. I trip again, and end up sprawled over the set of legs.

"What the fu—" A takeout cup lands on the floor, and coffee splatters my face and shirt, a puddle forming under the seat I planned to take.

I struggle to right myself without putting my hand in the puddle of coffee. "Oh my God, I'm so sor—" For the second time in the past twenty minutes, I look up into familiar eyes. "This is like that episode from season two!" I'm careful to keep my voice down this time.

Daxton smirks, maybe remembering the episode I'm referring to. The one where the girl trips and falls into his lap and then they end up dating for the next three seasons.

Before he can say anything, the guy beside him pipes up. "Jesus, Hughes, can't take you anywhere without some fangirl throwing herself at you, can we?"

They all burst into laughter, but Daxton rolls his eyes. "Don't be a dick, McQueen, and move your damn bag. It's your fault she tripped."

He rearranges his legs and helps me right myself. I drop into the empty one beside him, throat tight and cheeks heating with embarrassment thanks to his friend's comments. It's too late to find another seat, and I've already drawn enough attention. People are staring and snickering. I have to adjust my feet and keep my knapsack in my lap so I don't step in the spilled coffee. I'm so glad my hair is down today, because my face is on fire.

"Should we put bets on how many restraining orders you're going to have to file this year?" one of his friends asks loudly.

My stomach twists and my skin feels hot and damp. My eyes threaten to water, so I dig my nails into my palms. The incident in the quad was one thing, but now there are all these eyes I can't escape for the next hour.

Thankfully, the professor calls the class to order, and the snickering beside me quiets. At the end of class I keep my eyes on my bag as I shove my books back inside. A folded piece of paper drops onto my desk.

"See ya next week." Daxton gives me a half grin and shoulders his knapsack, following his friends down the aisle.

I wait until they're gone before I flip it open.

Exactly like season two ;)

Like a love-struck idiot, I carry that note around with me for the rest of the year and then tuck it away in my underwear drawer for safekeeping. Every time he says hello to me I practically swoon. When he arrives to class after me he sits behind me, and he smiles when he passes me on campus. And when the mock trials start up in class, we're always against each other. It feels a lot like flirting.

But when it comes down to it, regardless of how friendly the competition seems, we're all looking out for ourselves. So in our final year of law school when I go to him for help, I shouldn't be surprised that he screws me over so he can have the thing I worked so hard for.

Fat lot of good all the visualizing success does for me in the end.

Chapter One

Blast from the Past


The problem with temp assistants is that they don't know the rules. Such as rule number one: Take down the name of the client before you book them an appointment. My regular assistant, Cara, is on vacation and I miss her so much right now. The only thing I know about my mystery client is that they're a couple looking to set up a trust for their daughter. Pretty freaking broad. And I have zero time to call for details because they'll be here any minute.

My mug is halfway to my mouth when my temp assistant throws my door open. "Your next client is here!"

Half a second later she's ushering in a couple who look to be in their mid- to late fifties. A few steps behind them is a much younger man. A man I recognize.

The same man whose teenage self is forever immortalized on my It's My Life mug. The mug isn't particularly flattering, boasting an image of Daxton sobbing with the hashtag #mondayforever stamped under his tear-stained face.

I almost lose my grip on the mug. As it is, the liquid sloshes over the side and runs down my hand. Thankfully, it's just water—yes, I drink it out of a mug. I like cups with handles. I rush to set the mug on my desk and wipe my wet hands on my skirt.

I guess my clients are no longer a mystery. "Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, it's so lovely to meet you!" Shit. My voice is so pitchy.

I shake their hands as they introduce themselves as Craig and Evelyn, and then turn to Daxton, who's only half paying attention since he has a phone in his hand and he's clicking away on it. Probably plotting to take down another friend.

He's still ridiculously gorgeous, possibly even better looking than he was five years ago. He's filled out, the lankiness of his twenties giving way to a physique I'm sure he spends many hours a week staring at in a mirror while he lifts weights.

Beyond being attractive he has that magnetic appeal so many actors possess. It makes him the perfect lawyer. His beautiful face and commanding presence scream trust me. But I know better.

I hate that I can still appreciate how nice he is to look at. I wear a tight, practiced smile as I hold out a hand even though the last thing I want to do is touch him—okay, that's a lie, I actually have a nervous flutter in my stomach. It's annoying.

I wait for him to recognize me as his eyes move over me in a slow sweep. They linger on my legs for a few seconds, probably because of my patterned hose—it's how I spice up my business wardrobe. When his eyes finally return to my face, his brow furrows slightly while he shakes my hand. "Daxton Hughes. Nice to meet you." His eyes drift to the mug on my desk, and a smirk tugs at the corner of his mouth. Motherfucker. He doesn't even remember me.

I pull my hand from his grasp, frustrated by the tingles shooting down my arm into inappropriate places thanks to a freaking handshake. "Why don't we all have a seat?" I better not sound breathy to anyone but myself.

They settle into the chairs around the table in my office. I wish I could hide the mug, but the image is on both sides.

Dax stretches out his long legs and slips his phone into his pocket, muffling the constant buzzing of messages.

"My assistant, Laura, indicated that you're interested in setting up a trust for your daughter." I flip open my laptop, and the theme song to It's My Life fills the room. The timing couldn't be worse. My best friend Holly regularly sends me memes and video clips as a joke. Normally it's not embarrassing because the guy who starred in the show isn't sitting across from me, with his parents.

I slam my fingers on the keyboard, aiming for the Mute button, but all I succeed in doing is making it louder for a few painfully awkward seconds. "So sorry about that."

Daxton wears an amused smile. Maybe it's not the worst thing in the world that he doesn't seem to remember me. I fold my hands on the table and focus my attention on his parents. The back of my neck is damp and my face is on fire. "The trust for your daughter. How can I be of assistance?"

Mrs. Hughes smiles kindly. Her graying hair is cut into a short, stylish bob. Her makeup is light and carefully applied. She's not flashy, but she's dressed nicely. She looks so sweet. It's too bad she birthed a gorgeous asshole. I hope her daughter is nicer.

"We'd like to secure Emme's savings, and Daxton wanted to join us." She pats his hand.

Daxton smiles at his mother. "I thought it might be a good idea to tag along since the trust lawyer at my firm is on leave and they didn't want to wait."

"Whitman and Flood is one of the best firms in the city. You'll be in good hands here," I say proudly.

Evelyn nods her agreement. "I keep thinking she's just a baby, but she'll be thirteen soon enough and then eighteen is around the corner and the next thing you know they're moving out." She smiles fondly at her son. "Anyway, we didn't set up a trust for Daxton when he was Emme's age, and it probably would've been a lot easier on everyone if we had."

"Daxton was always very responsible with his money, except for his first year of college," Mr. Hughes says.

"You could hardly blame him for that. Daxton used to star on a TV show when he was Emme's age." Her gaze darts to my mug for a second.

Daxton's cheeks flush a little. "Mom, we're not really here to ta—"

"I'm sure Miss Flowers knows what it's like to have braggy parents," Mr. Hughes breaks in.

I smile but the comment makes my heart twinge. It's been a long time since someone bragged about my accomplishments, and the man who stole my biggest one is sitting on the other side of the table, and apparently doesn't remember the way he screwed me. Not literally, thank God.

"Please, call me Kailyn," I say through a granite smile.

Daxton's brows pull down and he tips his head to the side, inspecting me.

"Where did you go to law school, Kailyn?" Evelyn asks.


"Really? Daxton went to law school there, too! What year did you graduate? It couldn't have been that long ago, you're so young."

I fight with my hands to stay folded on the table rather than allow them to flutter around. "It's been five years."

"Oh my goodness! Daxton!" She grabs his arm. "You went to law school at the same time! Did you know each other?"

"We might've run into each other once or twice on campus." I look to Daxton, waiting for him to acknowledge, to remember. Waiting for a sign that he feels some kind of remorse over what he did. While we never hung out, we were always competing with each other. We bantered in class, especially during debates, sometimes to the point where the professor would have to put a stop to it. It felt a little like verbal foreplay at the time. It kept us both entertained, or so I'd thought.

Daxton's eyebrows shoot up. "Holy shit!"

"Daxton!" His mother slaps his arm.

"Sorry. Wow. Kailyn. I didn't recognize you." He rubs his fingers over his bottom lip, eyes moving over my face again in a way that reminds me a lot of how he looked at me in law school. "You, uh…look so different. Good. You look good."

I give him a tight smile and adjust my glasses, wishing I'd worn contact lenses today. "Yes, well, T-shirts and jeans don't quite cut it in the business world, as I'm sure you know."

His eyes drift down. "I liked you in jeans and T-shirts."

"Did you have classes together? Were you friends?" His mother seems oblivious to the tension flaring between us.

"We had a lot of classes together," Daxton replies, gaze locking on mine.

Why is it so hot in here all of a sudden? "But we weren't exactly friends." I pick up my pen and flip it between my fingers to avoid pulling at the collar of my blouse, which feels too tight.

He tips his head to the side, his expression curious. "We were friendly rivals, though, weren't we? You kept me on my toes, always two steps ahead of everyone else, me included most of the time. It was hard to compete with beauty and brains."

I bark out a laugh. At one time I'd almost believed we were friends, but he'd proved me wrong. "Rivals, sure. Friends don't generally screw each other over by stealing the top spot in the class, do they?"

"Stealing…what?" His brow pulls down. "I worked my ass off for that. You can't be mad about that after five years."

I sure as hell can still be mad about it, especially when he's acting like he earned it fairly. As we stare each other down, I briefly wish I'd pursued criminal law instead of trust law as a career. Then I would have much better knowledge of how to get away with murder.

At the clearing of a throat, I'm suddenly aware that I'm being completely unprofessional, and this juvenile battle is being witnessed by my potential clients, who are also his parents.

"Well, you two are certainly full of fire, aren't you?" his mother chuckles.

I don't want to let it go, but if I push this further, I'm at risk of embarrassing myself, and I don't want to give Daxton the satisfaction of seeing how much he gets to me. Still. But this is the first opportunity I've had to confront him in five years, so it takes an infinite amount of grace to stow the anger and fix my face with a fake smile. "Daxton and I were always competing for head of the class. In the end I came in second. Anyway, you're not here to talk about law school. Let's discuss Emme's trust and how you'd like the funds allocated. I'm sure we can set up a great plan that will help her manage her money responsibly as she grows."

I spend the next hour reviewing the insane amount of money this almost-thirteen-year-old girl has amassed from six years' worth of commercials. It makes me wish for the briefest moment that my parents had been more Hollywood. And then I take a look at Dax and remember why it's good not to fall into the trap of believing you're above reproach. So much so that he's convinced himself he earned something he stole.

Once we've addressed the major concerns, I inform his parents that I'll have papers for them to review in a couple of weeks.

As I usher them out the door, Daxton snags a card. "It looks likes you've really got it together here." He scans my office.

"It's a great firm." Hints of my personality bleed through in the quirky memorabilia and trinkets I keep on my desk and that hang from the wall.

"It was nice to see you again, Kailyn," he says, but this time his eyes aren't on the walls. Once again he's checking out my legs as he does another slow sweep of my funky patterned hose.

"Likewise," I reply, but my tone sounds a lot more like fuck you.

He has the nerve to wink as he slips the card into his breast pocket and follows his parents out of my office. Once he's gone I flip the double bird at the wall and mouth all sorts of profanity. It's highly immature. That man brings out the worst in me. I wish I'd had five minutes alone with him so I could finally confront him about what he did and rip him a nice new asshole.

I glance at the clock and realize I'm running late for lunch. Normally that wouldn't be a problem since I often skip real food in lieu of a bag of Sour Patch Kids, or whatever candy I have stashed in my desk—not particularly health conscious of me, but it gets me through when I don't feel like taking a break.

Today my best friend and I have a lunch date at our favorite bistro and I have a full schedule this afternoon, so being late means less time with her, and I now need to vent post–Hughes meeting. I shoot her a message to let her know I'm on my way. Holly's already seated on the patio when I arrive. She pushes away from the table and pulls me in for a tight hug. "Thanks for making time for me."

Holly is a compulsive hugger, and even though I expect the affection from her, it still takes a moment before I remember to return the gesture. "Of course. Anything for you."

Holly and I have been friends since I moved next door to her at the age of three. Apart from when she went to college in Santa Barbara, we've always lived in the same city.

"So you'll never believe who came by my office this morning," I say as we drop into the chairs across from each other.

"Does that mean you want me to guess?" Holly half smiles and raises her eyebrows.

"You can try, but I doubt you'll get it right."

"Oooh, now I'm really intrigued. Was it that guy from that law conference last month, the one who wanted to see your not-so-legal briefs?"

I roll my eyes. "Oh my God, no, and that was literally the worst line in the history of lines. Try again."

"Just tell me. You're all worked up about it with the way you're fidgeting, so it's got to be good." She motions to my hands.


  • "Perfect for fans of Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient. A fun and steamy love story with high stakes and plenty of emotion."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "[A] smartly plotted and perfectly executed rom-com with a spot-on sense of snarky wit and a generous helping of smoldering sexual chemistry."—Booklist
  • "If a 'rom-com in book form' is what you're after this spring, you can't go wrong with Meet Cute."—Bustle
  • "Meet Cute is entertaining, funny, and emotional."—Harlequin Junkie
  • "As charming as its title, but it's also so much more... Fans of Jasmine Guillory's The Wedding Date and Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient will love Meet Cute."—The Washington Independent Review of Books
  • "If you believe in fate, read Meet Cuteby Helena Hunting."—SheReads, "2019's Romance Reads for Every Kind of Girl"
  • "Meet Cute is a novel where you will laugh and cry -- sometimes, on the same page. It is a story of kindness and affection, sassiness and tenderness, where joy and sorrow are intermingled. You don't want to miss this book."—Frolic
  • "A hell of a book."—Book Riot
  • "A springy romance with an emotional core."—Culturess
  • "Meet Cute was a great book ...[that] shows Ms. Hunting at her best, combining heavy emotions and a light comedic touch."—All About Romance

On Sale
Apr 9, 2019
Page Count
384 pages

Helena Hunting

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting lives outside of Toronto with her amazing family and her two awesome cats, who think the best place to sleep is her keyboard. She writes all things romance – contemporary, romantic comedy, sports and angsty new adult. Helena loves to bake cupcakes, has been known to listen to a song on repeat 1512 times while writing a book, and if she has to be away from her family, prefers to be in warm weather with her friends.

Learn more about this author