By: Penny Wylder

By the time he’s finished recounting his dating stories, and I’ve shared a few of my own, we’re both laughing so hard my sides hurt. He’s halfway through another story, one about one of his friends whose date wet the bed on him, when a sharply-cleared throat interrupts us.

We glance up, and Zayne is on his feet in a heartbeat, before I even realize what’s happening. But then I recognize Mrs. Sharpe from the 7th floor, the one with the tiny purse dog and the husband who’s almost as tiny. She has her mouth pursed now, an angry frown wrinkling her forehead as she raps her fingers on the counter behind which Zayne normally works.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Sharpe,” he’s saying now, whipping his hat back onto his head as he skids behind the counter. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m expecting a package.”

“Of course, let me check on that.” He darts into the back, and I rise, surprised to find that my legs are no longer shaky. In fact, I feel about a million times better. Maybe all the laughter and bad date stories helped relax me after all.

I sidle up to the counter and lean against it. Mrs. Sharpe glares at me. “Zayne just helped me out with a creepy date,” I explain. “The guy followed me home, tried to attack me…”

That softens her up. The crease in her forehead disappears, and Mrs. Sharpe pats my arm instead. “Take my advice, honey,” she says. Zayne returns with her package, and she accepts it with a smile, tucking it under her arm before she turns to me once more. “Find a good man, not a nice guy,” she finishes. Then she’s off toward the elevator and I can feel my cheeks heating as I peek at Zayne.

“Good advice,” he says, leaning on the counter with a grin. If he’s bothered at all by the fact that Mrs. Sharpe discovered him away from his desk, it doesn’t show.

What are you doing, Clove? I can’t flirt with him while he’s working. I shouldn’t be flirting with him at all, anyway. He’s my doorman. He works here. I’ve walked past him every day for the last two years, and with any luck, I’ll walk past him every day for the next two as well, because I love this apartment. It’s my home. I can’t do anything to jeopardize that.

“I’ll quit distracting you,” I say, my tone apologetic. “Thanks again, for everything.”

“Anytime,” he replies, then stops himself, shaking his head. “Although, of course, I hope you never have to deal with a piece of shit like that guy ever again.”

I laugh. “Here’s hoping.”

“Yes,” he agrees, eyes suddenly sincere again, locked on me. “Here’s hoping.”

With that, I leave him to his front desk duties. I wipe my palms on my jeans as I go. Ignore the fresh sparking in my nerve endings. This time, I definitely can’t blame it on adrenaline or fear. This time, I know exactly what’s causing it.

But that’s the worst possible idea. If I hooked up with Zayne and things went sour, they’d go really sour.

So, I push my floor in the elevator, let the doors close behind me, and try not to think about the insanely hot man I just discovered hiding behind my doorman’s uniform.


Midnight. I still can’t sleep. Turns out adrenaline plus a healthy dose of flirting makes for one long, sleepless kind of night.

I pull out my phone and flip through my messages. I filled in my BFFs at work about the date already, blowing up our group text with details. They are appropriately shocked and appalled on my behalf. Andy even promises to buy my first round at our standing team happy hour on Thursday.

But by now, everyone’s long asleep. Well, except for Celeste, who’s out celebrating her boyfriend’s birthday, but I don’t want to bother her with more bored whining about how I’m still awake because dammit, I can’t stop thinking about tonight.

You’d think it would be the stalker distracting me, keeping me up. Instead, it’s images of Zayne. His piercing blue eyes as he looked me over, made sure I was okay after that attack. The flirty glint in those same eyes when he told me I needed a man who treats me right. Someone who will give me whatever I desire.

I shiver and roll back over in bed. Tap on the little icon for the dating app. If nothing else, it will occupy my mind. Distract me from thinking thoughts I should definitely not be thinking about my doorman.

Like what those strong arms would feel like wrapped around me, or what his lips would taste like on mine. Not to mention, judging by the size of his hands, he’s got to be packing a pretty nice package in those uniform pants…

I scold myself internally and focus on the app. Don’t think about him.