The sound of my laughter echoed through the vast lobby, sounding louder than it was. I couldn't recall the last time I had laughed that much on a date.

"You did not say that to her!"

"I did, I really did," my date said. I looked over at him. His name was Michael Moss and he was a banker at Wall Street. He was tall, good looking with bright blue eyes and had a great sense of humor. All this indicated a good guy with a good head on his shoulder and he was a hard worker. He was financially stable so he wouldn't need to rely on me. All good things, right?

Things every woman wants because this guy beside me would make an excellent life partner. He would provide a stable life in the suburbs and we would have 2.5 kids, a large, two car garage mansion and would probably stop having sex sometime in our forties. He would go to the office and look at all the young guys and think once he was like them and I would complain to all the PTA mother's that my husband didn't pay attention to me. I would probably get Botox and plastic surgery so I could look eternally youthful and drink martini's in the afternoon.

"Rhys? Everything okay?"

I shook all those ridiculous thoughts out of my head and looked over at my date. It was insane of me to be thinking of a future when we were only on our first date and I couldn't seem to call him by his first name in my head. I kept referring to him as my date.

"Yes, fine. Just had a long day at work," I replied. It wasn't technically a lie. Work had been exhausting and I'd been up since 4am in the morning. I had a new neighbor and he or she was clearly suffering from insomnia. Loud music filtered into my apartment from next door at all hours of the night. At first, I thought they were simply having a party but I never saw anyone coming or going from that apartment. Just heard the music. I could concede that they did have good taste in music, big band and 70's and 80's rock played every night.

"How about we do something tomorrow night?" Michael asked. He looked down at me hopefully and I held my breath. I knew there was no chance he was going to try to kiss me. It was only our first date and it had gone very well but it wasn't the kiss the girl at her door at the end of the night kind of good.

"Sure. I'll check my schedule and let you know tomorrow," I said. I already knew I was going to be busy tomorrow night and the nights that came after for all the reasons I have mentioned above. He was a great guy but I felt no spark. Not even a sizzle or a zing. I was going to give him another chance because again, he was amazing for the all reasons mentioned above. I was just going to wait for my libido to get the message and realize that he was an amazing guy.

"Great. You have my number. Call or text any time," he said. I pushed the elevator call button and smiled at him. It was late at night so the elevator came immediately and we stepped inside. He was such a gentleman he was going to take me to my door. Did that mean I would have invite him in for a drink? Maybe a cup of coffee? Did that send a signal I wasn't ready to send? It was too late to do anything now because the doors were closing and I pushed the button for the twentieth floor. The elevator started to ascend and I stood in one corner of it while he stood in the other. The elevator stopped and the doors reopened with a ding. I stepped out and pulled my keys out of my purse.

We walked down the hallway in an amiable silence. Even our footsteps were quiet due to the carpet. When I reached my door, I realized why the quiet was bothering me. It was never quiet in the hallways this time of night. I looked at my neighbor's door and no sound came from within. I should have been happy at that and yet all I felt was a strange disquiet. I was disappointed my neighbor wasn't playing loud music.

"Is everything okay?" Michael asked, concerned. I looked up at him and he was watching my neighbor's door as well.

"Yes, fine. I just remembered something and my brain went into problem solving mode," I lied deftly. I inserted my key into the lock and turned it but didn't open the door. Michael leaned a shoulder on the wall which stood between mine and my neighbor's door.

"Are you always problem solving?" Michael asked teasingly. I laughed, thinking he had no idea how many fires I doused in a day. No, literally. My father was unpredictable and keeping up with him was good practice if I ever had kids.

Michael looked down at his watch with a frown and I wondered once again if he wanted me to invite him inside.

"Alright, well, it's getting late and we both have work in the morning. I should be on my way," he said. He walked towards me and I prepared myself for a kiss. Dear god, did the food we just have garlic or onion on it? Did I have spinach in my teeth? Did I even eat spinach? All my worries were for naught. His lips connected with my cheek softly, putting just a slight amount of pressure. He pulled back and looked down at me, a small charmed smile on his face.

"Good night, Rhys," he whispered with a twinkle in his blue eyes.

"Good night."

He walked away towards the elevator.

"Let me know about tomorrow night," he called over his shoulder. I waved at him and watched him get in the elevator. With a glance at my neighbor's door, I opened mine and went into my apartment. I locked the door behind me and leaned against it to take off my heels. There was no need to turn on the lights because the floor to ceiling windows provided enough of it for me to navigate to the kitchen to get a glass of water and then to my room.

I left the glass of water on my nightstand and went into the bathroom. Turning on the shower, I stripped off my clothes and jumped in to wash off the stress of the day. I shivered when the hot water hit my skin and massaged the knots in my shoulders and neck. I was way overdue for a massage but I always grew so self-conscious being touched by strangers.

I might have stayed in the shower for an hour. My hair was shampooed and conditioned. When I started falling asleep standing up, I turned off the water and grabbed a towel, wrapping it around my hair. I grabbed another one and dried myself off and wrapped the towel around me. I exited the shower stall and stood in front of the sink. Strangely enough, it was a two-sink counter, with a large rectangular mirror on the wall. It had been that way since I'd moved in a year ago and I hadn't bothered to change it. I didn't use the other sink but it gave me hope that one day someone will. Unless it was night's like today when I had been wooed by a gorgeous man but only to be alone in my apartment after. Now it taunted me.

I pulled the towel off my hair and ran my fingers through it. Picking up a brush, I ran it through my hair to get rid of all tangles and then braided it. Then I grabbed my toothbrush and brushed my teeth vigorously. The girl in the mirror looked exhausted, her grey eyes dull and dreary, face devoid of all color. God, did I always look like that or was this recent?

I spat in the sink and ran the water. Rinsing my mouth, I dropped my lonely toothbrush in the holder and turned off the bathroom light before exiting. A loud buzzing was sounding in my room and I wondered momentarily what could it be before I realized I had set my phone on silent during the date and it was ringing. I didn't believe in leaving my phone on during dates. Unless my date was a doctor, I generally preferred that my date follows the same rule, though I never spoke it out loud. If he checked his phone more than twice during the date, I knew there wouldn't be another one.

I took my phone out of my purse. It had gone quiet but the screen lit up and I saw I had five missed calls, all from the same person. I unlocked the phone and called back. The phone was answered on the first ring.

"Five missed calls? You better be having a heart attack. And if you are, I don't know what you expect me to do other than call 911," I said.

"That's a nice way to greet your father. I'm not having a heart attack. I just want to know about your date."

My father was more interested in my dating life than I was. He blamed himself for my lack of relationship and he was partly right in doing so. He had been married seven times, all before I was twenty and this included my mother. That takes a toll on a girl. There was a constant revolving door of women in my father's life and therefore my life. They'd come after him because he was vulnerable. It had taught me to never take anything or anyone for granted.

"It was fine," I replied to my father.

"Fine?" He asked.


He sighed dejectedly.

"Another horse out of the race."

"Please don't refer to my dates as horses," I said, slightly offended.

"How are you going to find love if you keep finding something wrong with everyone?" Dad asked. Now he sounded truly offended. I rubbed my forehead and of all things, heard my mother's voice in my head that I was going to get wrinkles if I continued to do that. I quickly dropped my hand, even though any advice coming from that woman was shady at best.

"I don't want to find love," I said indignantly. "You want me to find love for some reason I can't understand. And I never said there was something wrong with Michael."

I climbed in bed and pulled the comforter up to my chin.

"Honey, what time is it?"

I sighed in frustration and pulled away my phone to check the time. I cringed when I saw it and frowned, putting the phone back at my ear.

"It's 11pm."

"It is. Assuming you've already brushed your teeth and showered like a good girl, you've been home for roughly an hour," Dad said. "What kind of fun date ends at 10?"

"That's absurd! We're both working individuals and it's a weeknight. It's only responsible to be home at a decent hour."

Dad sighed again. "I have raised you better than this, Zelda."

I winced at the usage of my first name. No one except Dad called me that. I had always insisted that everyone call me by my middle name, Rhys. Even my business cards said Rhys Cole. Dad liked Zelda because he was Dad and had named me after a video game character. No one would even be interested in the legend of this Zelda.

Point of contention: my father didn't raise me. I raised me and to some extent, him as well. But I would never say that to him. My father was like a big child and I didn't want to hurt his feelings.

"Daddy, can't we just talk about this tomorrow? We can do lunch."

"You only call me daddy when you want something. Fine, we'll have lunch and we will talk about this, Zelda."

I had no doubt. We said our good nights and I hung up. I took a sip of water from the glass I had brought in and settled in bed again, pulling the comforter over me.

My body was exhausted but my mind was restless. I never had any peace; it didn't exist for me. But lately, I had been suffering from too much thought. Was that an illness? I wondered what would happen if I just didn't show up to work tomorrow? Dad would be worried for sure, as would be my two best friends who worked with me. Other than that, nothing would really stop. I hadn't taken a vacation in years and Dad was always forcing me to do so. Maybe he was right and I needed to refresh my mind. There was only one place I could think of going on such short notice.

It was spring in Manhattan and I wanted to go where all designer clad zombies from the Upper East Side went. I wanted to go to the Hamptons. I hadn't been since I was seventeen and it would be perfect. Just a weekend getaway. I could sit on the beach and read a book. When was the last time I had read a book for pleasure? Probably in high school, though that seemed like a stretch.

I must have fallen asleep while thinking about books and beaches and margaritas because the next thing I knew, I was being awoken by a loud bang. I sat up straight in bed in a panic, looking around my room for an intruder. I knew it. This was how I was going to die. Damn it, Rhys. Always check the apartment completely after you come in. This was life safety 101.

When no noise came again, I thought maybe I had dreamt it. That was entirely likely. I had dreamt of stranger things. I fell back against my pillow and snuggled into the blanket when a pressing need to use the bathroom arose. I groaned in frustration and threw the blanket off, sliding out of bed and walking into the washroom.

Completing my business, I washed my hands and exited the washroom. Since I was out of bed, I decided to check the front door to make sure it was locked. It was. Nobody could get into the building without passing by the concierge's desk but a single girl living in the big city could never be too careful.

Satisfied the door was locked, I went back to bed and snuggled under the blanket again. I always got ridiculously cold during the night. I closed my eyes and was about to once again fall asleep when I heard a muffled noise. My eyes opened wide and I strained my ears to listen for another noise. Just when I thought the noises were my imagination acting up, I heard more noises—and they were coming from the wall.

I threw off my blanket, stood up on the bed and put my ear to the wall. And that's when it started. The sound of a bed banging against the wall; against my wall. The bedroom wall that I—unfortunately—shared with my neighbor.

There was a loud moan followed by an exclamation of "Yes!"

I leaned away from the wall and looked at it in revulsion, as if it had made the noise. I could hear everything that was happening in my neighbor's apartment. I had never thought of myself as a voyeur but this was interesting.

"I feel like I'm going to explode!"

I raised an eyebrow. Interesting. I couldn't tell if she was faking. On the other hand, how good does a man have to be to make a woman explode? This was a serious question. I'd never come anywhere near explosion or even a fizzle. I mean, sure, I've had sex but it had always felt more like an obligation than something I truly enjoyed. Another reason I was still single. I was clearly asexual.

I had never even met my neighbor and was now hearing him or her have sex. If I ever ran into them, this is all I'll be able to think about.

I looked at the clock. 2:00 am in the morning. I'd been asleep for four hours, not bad for me. I knew there was no chance in hell I would be going back to sleep now, even if my neighbors stopped their shenanigans.

However, surely, they would be done soon? I did have an important meeting tomorrow and while I wouldn't be well rested, I didn't want the echoes of someone's orgasm in my mind all day. I thought woman didn't want to have sex in the middle of the night? Wasn't that just as bad a morning sex? Dear god, what if I hadn't had sex in so long, I didn't even know that the whole thing had changed.

The banging noises and random sexual exclamations continued.

I got out of bed and reached for my phone and earphones. Plugging them in and putting the buds in my ear, I turned on some 80's rock music and grabbed my vacuum cleaner. If I wasn't going to sleep, I might as well clean. So that's what I did. I cleaned my apartment for three hours, until the whole place was spotless.

When I stashed the vacuum cleaner and took out my earbuds, all was silent. It seemed the sexual activity next door had finally stopped. I let myself imagine that the couple next door had fallen asleep exhausted and wrapped in each other's arms. The man would wake up in a few hours, make breakfast, they would eat it in bed and have shower sex before they went to work. The perfect life. I couldn't help the stab jealousy I felt and reminded myself that this was all my imagination. They could very well be having a one-night stand.

By the time six o'clock rolled around, I was ready to go for my run. I changed into tights and a black sweatshirt and I was ready to go. I locked my apartment behind me and was just about to walk down the hallway when the door next to mine opened and out stepped a woman in bright pink tights and a matching tank top and jacket. Her blonde hair was pulled into a neat ponytail. Great, even after having sex all night, she looked better than me.

But that's okay. I was confident in my father's belief that there was a man out there for me. Someone who wanted a woman who was...average; average weight, average height, average looking. I should go on that second date with Michael. If everything worked out in the end, we would have a fun story to tell our kids; mommy had almost rejected daddy because he didn't make her sparks fly.

"Hi," my neighbor said brightly. Really, she was that chipper in the morning? I guess a night of orgasms did that to a girl. What must that feel like?

"Hey," I said.

"Are you a runner, too? I love running. It gets me all jazzed up for the day," she said. I smiled and nodded, turning around to walk down the hallway. She fell into step beside me. Okay, I guess were walking together.

"I love your hair," she said, reaching to grab a piece of my ponytail. Whoa, she had officially penetrated my comfort zone. She loved my hair? What the hell did that even mean? She wanted to cut it off and take it home? Hello, creepy.

"I wish my hair color was like yours. Instead I got stuck with plain old blonde. Are those natural highlights?"

I nodded my head, at a loss for words. Either I had gained a new fan or I should be worried about my life. With my luck, this chick was going to kill me and make a wig out of my hair. I considered taking the stairs just to avoid her but no cameras there. I pushed the button to call the elevator and thankfully, it came right away.

The girl followed me into it and I pressed the button for the lobby. I made a show of putting my earbuds in my ears so she would know that I wasn't interested in talking. I had just turned on a song by Imagine Dragons when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I pulled my earbud out and looked over at my neighbor. She smiled cheerfully and I groaned inwardly. Even if she hadn't completely creeped me out by her stalker-like conversation skills, I didn't think I could ever be friends with someone who was so cheerful so early in the morning.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I, like everyone else, sat in that middle ground where I went to bed early but was somehow still exhausted the next morning. So, before coffee I was like an irritable zombie. This was on a normal day when I had eight hours of sleep. On no sleep? Heads were going to roll, starting with my neighbor's, the woman who was responsible for my lack of sleep.

"Which direction are you going?" She asked.

Oh, no. She didn't want to run together, did she? I counted on my morning run to keep my balanced throughout the day. It was my form of meditation since I didn't have the patience for yoga. I didn't have the patience for much of anything these days. Maybe I really did need a vacation.

"Um, I have an app. I go where it takes me," I said. For a lie, it wasn't so bad. When the elevator doors dinged open in the lobby, I rushed out and put my earbud back in place. Thankfully, my neighbor didn't seem to mind and waved me goodbye as we exited the building and she went right while I went left. Thank heavens she didn't insist on running with me.

As I ran, I let my mind wander and while I tried to focus on work and the appointments I had and the emails I had to send, I couldn't concentrate. My mind kept going back to last night and my date with Michael. He was funny, nice and genuine. I liked that just because he lived in New York, he hadn't given up his small-town Iowa personality. It made him real. He also didn't spend the entire night talking about his job, his favorite sports team, what he did with the "the guys" that weekend and didn't once glance that his phone to answer an email or text. He asked me appropriately personal questions and seemed to genuinely care for the answers.

Now all that made him a great guy. A great guy. But with my luck, the second I let my guard down, his monster face would come out and suddenly he would be a completely different guy. It was that fear which kept me single and afraid to mingle. To add another nail to my coffin, I was clearly settling into life as a spinster at the ripe old age of twenty-seven, all that was missing was a cat. Maybe that's why cats were the go-to house pet for spinsters; they were just like us. They just wanted to be loved and worshipped for their prickly selves. That wasn't too much to ask for.

When I returned to my apartment, I had decided. I sent off a text to Michael suggesting that we might meet for drinks tonight, if he was still interested. If he replied, great. If not, then I would still go out for drinks and maybe meet a new man. By the time I had showered, drank my first cup of coffee and finished my oatmeal—it's not that bad once you add blueberry and brown sugar—, I had received a reply for Michael suggesting we could meet at a bar close to work.

AN: More chapters coming soon