Home > Watch Me Follow(12)

Watch Me Follow(12)
Author: Harloe Rae

Soft footfalls break up my chaotic musings and I’m grateful for the distraction. I’ll drive myself crazy before getting a real chance to speak with this man. My sweaty palm rests on a nearby stool for much needed stability. I slowly twist around to face the guy who’s been stealing all my brainpower. Air wheezes past my lips while waiting for his next move.

Seek’s head is still covered and a shadow is cast over his face. I stare and remain frozen while he moves farther into the room after shutting the door. Awareness twitches in my limbs with him this close again, as if I’m tuned into his exclusive channel. I could normally watch him for hours and be content but in this moment, I’m ready for more.

My neck strains in effort but I manage to squeak out a quick, “Hello.”

Seek’s steps falter at my greeting and I notice his shoulders bunch up tight. My mouth gains a life of its own and begins spitting out randomness to fill the awkward stillness.

“I wasn’t sure where to go so you’d find me. Then I realized you’d know where to find me, right? I mean, it seems like you’ve been around everywhere lately and this is a common spot for me. Plus, no one else is here. Not sure if you care but being surrounded by a lot of people isn’t my favorite,” I explain in a rush while my fingers fidget nervously.

After a few beats of tense silence, I prattle on. “Okay, so what happens now? Should we, umm, sit down?” My words are jumbled but I couldn’t care less about that.

His trembling hands lift to the sweatshirt hood and slowly lower the black shield.

Holy shit, this is actually happening.

At first all I see is dark buzzed hair, cut close to his scalp. My pulse roars louder as he slowly lifts his face toward me. When the clearest blue eyes I’ve ever seen lock onto me, everything slams to a halt. I'm not prepared for the sight before me.

Could it really be?

“Hello, Lennon.” His voice is raspy and hoarse but the words sear directly into me.

I gasp as the deep timbre vibrates my bones and resonates deep within my spirit. The ocean waves from my dreams crash over me and suddenly I’m drowning all over again.

As my knees give out and I stumble back onto the stool, my lips tremble with a name they’ve been desperate to say. “Ryker?”


I like to picture us as two oddly-formed shapes that no one can decipher, but together, we create something magnificent.

WHEN MY NAME hesitantly spills from her mouth, a mangled exhale chops out of me. I find myself once again stunned by her, but for a far more pronounced reason this time. My feet remain rooted in place yet a distinct tremor rockets through me. Every moment spent hidden in the dark, consumed by shadows, is worth it because of her instant recognition. White spots blot my vision as I replay her voice over and over.

Lennon remembers me?

She must but my congested brain is having an impossible time processing that fact. As her aqua gaze keeps flickering over my face, I stare back and catalogue the expressions taking over her features. Lennon’s light eyes are blown wide open as her jaw hangs slack. Her nostrils flare with heavy breaths that I count to stay grounded in this moment. I’m sure she’s surprised again, like when I revealed that yellow note earlier.

Even though I can’t read people, I’ve studied Lennon. Knowing everything about her, from her favorite food to the variety of ways her lips tilt depending on her mood, is my only purpose in this twisted life. Lennon’s emotions are like a roadmap showing me the way. It makes comprehending her feelings easy, even for a social novice like me.

She sucks in a sharp breath before stammering, “Oh m-my God. It’s really you, Ryker. You’re freaking huge!” Her irises expand before she slaps a hand over her gaping mouth. Red blotches her creamy skin as she continues watching me. The intensity in her aqua pools swallows me and all I can do is tread water while waiting for more. Her trembling fingers slowly move across her blushing cheek. “What did I just say? I'm such an idiot. I just . . . can’t believe you’re him. It’s been you this entire time?” Her head shakes back and forth as her forehead crinkles.

I offer her a nod since my voice has slunk back into hiding.

Lennon blinks and dips her quivering chin without saying anything. She keeps her wise eyes locked on me under lowered lids. My shoes shuffle on the concrete floor as I fight against the tension in my muscles. Is she waiting for me to speak? What am I supposed to say? Does she want me to leave? My brain stalls out as anxiety fills my torso, making it difficult to breathe. My thumb rubs circles against my fingertips as nerves boil higher.

“Are you going to say anything?” Lennon blurts, saving me from a mental breakdown. I need her to take charge of this conversation.

My shoulders lift in a helpless shrug, unsure what she expects. Does she remember anything else other than my name? Such as my nonexistent speech?

We haven’t uttered a word to each other since the day my destiny was set in motion. I had so many questions back then but was riddled with uncertainty. No matter how badly my mouth urged me to utter words of want and desire, I remained silent. Lennon never tried interacting with me either, which made me believe she didn’t like me. Even as a friend. What girl would approach the hulking freak that never talks?

She hums while nodding. “Still the strong and silent type, then?”

Now it’s my turn to give her a wide-eye stare while a slight smile curves her mouth.

“I haven’t forgotten, Ryker. But time changes people so you might have become a chatterbox.” A tinkling giggle accompanies her words and I wonder if that was a joke. “Urgh, sorry. That was lame, and probably insensitive. I’m super nervous and not handling this well. I never talk to guys. Like ever. Do you know that about me? From watching me?” Her soothing tone eases the worry in my veins but the reminder of my stalking habits has my teeth grinding together.

I decide to be honest and give her another nod. But irritation prods at me for being a chicken shit. My eyes clench shut as I force out a muted, “Yes.”

Her lips buzz together as she blows out a huge exhale. “I’m trying to wrap my head around . . . all of this.” She’s waving her arms between us and it seems like she’s beckoning me forward. My feet automatically move to erase some of the distance, until she’s near enough to touch if warranted. Lennon doesn’t appear to mind my proximity but I don’t dare get closer. Not yet.

She looks up at me with a furrow back in her brow. “Why? Tell me why you’ve been following me all this time.”

I gulp down the sand coating my dry mouth before asking, “Are you angry?”

“That doesn’t answer my question but if you’re wondering, I’m more curiously befuddled. Does that make sense? I just don’t get it. And I’d like to understand, Ryker. I really would. You saved me from something awful but never mentioned it again. You all but ignored me after that day in high school. What you did, how you stepped in to help without pause, meant so very much to me. I wanted us to be . . . friends, or at least talk sometimes. Any acknowledgement of my presence would have been nice but I got nothing.” She bites her pouty lip before her eyes narrow into slits. “I know those jerks spread rumors about me but that’s all they were. It was a bunch of assholes telling lies.” Lennon spits the last part.

She’s tossing so much at me that my brain is having difficulty settling on the appropriate reaction. She wanted me to talk to her? She was waiting for me to pay attention? Lennon clearly has no idea that she owns every single piece of me.

But what stands out the most is I know exactly what she means, and that flips something very significant within me.

We have something in common.

For the first time, I’m actually understanding what someone feels without grinding gears to figure it out. That alone lifts a burden that always sinks me down.

We were waiting for each other.

But then I remember what else she said.

Those fucking pieces of shit were picking on my sunshine. Lennon’s words spread a thick layer of dense fury through me. The mention of high school is like an angry fog that’s never far from descending. Knowing she was a victim of their cruelty adds another scorching layer of hate.

I’m ready to find their locations and unleash the venom harbored against them but she jumps back in.

“So, was that it? Did you stay away from me because of their stupid stories? But then why follow me? I don’t get it,” she states.

“I actually know you . . . well, at least I knew who you were. All this time, I’d been convinced a stranger was watching me, and now, I discover it wasn’t a random person at all. Why didn’t you say something sooner? Why did you wait years to show yourself? Why hide from me? Why the secrets? Just . . . why?”

Lennon’s eyes shine with tears as her volume raises with each question. She spins around before standing from the seat. Her fingers spear into her glossy hair as she takes a few steps toward a big window along the back wall. I watch as her back quakes with shuddering breaths. “I’m really upset, Ryker.” She spells it out clear as day so even I can understand.

Yet I find myself shocked silent again. Revealing my deeply ingrained obsession will surely terrify her. I imagine her walking away from me and feel ill. I need to fix this without losing her but how the hell am I supposed to do that?

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