Home > Watch Me Follow(2)

Watch Me Follow(2)
Author: Harloe Rae

“I told you to leave her alone,” I growl at him.

Jason’s jaw grinds as his stare ricochets between Lennon and me. “Fuck off, Ryker. She’s my girl and none of your business.”

“I want nothing to do with you. I’m not your anything,” she quietly mutters behind me.

“You’re going to get it, Lennon. Just wait.” Jason barks but his lips clamp shut when I take a few steps toward him.

My chest tightens as I imagine what his threats could mean. Flames lap at my skin as I allow the fury to take over. “If you ever bother her again, you’ll be dealing with me. Got it?” My throat burns as I force the words out.

The untamed anger must show on my face because he doesn't respond again. With a final scowl at me, Jason trudges away and out of sight. I’ve never unleashed the aggression that's constantly festering within me on someone else but he’d fucking deserve a real beating. I attempt to cage the roiling hate bunching in my muscles with a few deep breaths. I’ll have to push myself even harder at the gym tonight but it’s worth it. Anything involving her is.

As the red hue fades from my vision, tingling awareness settles in and the telltale nerves start flooding my system. We’re all alone. Lennon is behind me and I’m just standing here.

I slowly turn around and find her cowering in the corner, her guarded gaze searing my soul. Her shoulders shake as she sniffles and horrible possibility strikes me.

Fuck, did I scare her?

That’s the last thing I want so my feet shuffle back to put some space between us. The horrible taunts begin echoing in my mind, even though it’s completely silent around us.






Crazy Eyes.

Crazy. Crazy. Crazy.

My head twitches as I lower my stare away from her frightened features. “I’m sorry, Lennon. I didn’t mean to upset you. He made me really mad though.” A heavy sigh shudders from my chest. “I don’t usually act like that.” My voice is gruff from disuse but I get the point across.

I take another step back but her words halt my progress.

“Please, don’t leave. You’re not the one who scared me. You saved me, Ryker.”

My eyes lift to her as I ask, “You know my name?” My heart starts pounding and I’m sure she can hear the rapid beat.

Lennon nods and smiles slightly. “Of course. I sit in front of you in three classes. Plus, you’re pretty hard to miss.”

Shame heats my cheeks as her words sink in. She’s making fun of me, just like everyone else. I was stupid to believe she could see me differently, no matter how much I wish she would. Lennon is perfection and I’m a bumbling ogre so it shouldn’t surprise me. The hurt splashes me like acid and my entire body burns as I move further away.

“Where are you going?” She suddenly blurts while stepping toward me.

I shrug and glance at her, drawn to her. I can’t find the words to explain my feelings though.

She inches closer. “Did I say something to upset you?” Her hand reaches for me and I flinch, afraid of what her touch will do to me.

“I’m used to it. Everyone calls me names.” I manage to choke out, even though my mouth is desert-dry.

Lennon’s face scrunches up in an adorable way as she asks, “What? I don’t get it.”

“You said I’m hard to miss, as in my size. I get it. Very funny.” Embarrassment slithers up my neck and causes me to turn away further. “I’ll see you around, Lennon.” My tone is flat and lifeless.

My plan to escape disappears when her palm settles on my back and everything inside of me freezes.

“Will you wait a second?” Her whisper reaches deep into my chest and squeezes. “I didn’t mean it like that, Ryker. Really. You’re hard to miss because, umm, well . . . I think you’re cute.” She giggles and my knees almost buckle. That tinkling laugh mixed with her touch turn me into a sloppy puddle of mush. It’s like my brain is short-circuiting and all functioning is jammed so I remain completely still.

When I don’t respond, Lennon takes her hand away and the loss cramps my stomach. I’m floundering, unsure of what the hell to do now. My anxiety threatens to consume me the longer we’re silent and I’d rather not have a panic attack in front of her. Thankfully she saves me from deciding.

“Can you turn around? Just for a minute?” I do as she asks, as though I’m locked under her spell.

Lennon stares at me with a look I can’t quite comprehend. A dimple dents her cheek as she grins at me. “I really appreciate you helping me with Jason. He’s such a jerk and has been harassing me since my first day. Maybe he’ll leave me alone now.” She exhales loudly and bites her bottom lip. “What can I ever do to repay you? I seriously owe you one.”

My mind scrambles for something to say but I’m horribly distracted by her aqua eyes focused on me. I clear my throat before muttering, “You've given me plenty already.”

Lennon’s eyebrows bunch in confusion as her head tilts slightly. “Huh? Why do you say that? I haven’t done anything. You’re the savior around here.” She chuckles lightly while fidgeting with her shirt sleeve.

Okay . . . Shit.

I shouldn’t have said that. My brain swirls with explanations to smooth this over so she doesn't think I'm a freak. I decide to be honest. “Your smile is all I need.”

That’s exactly what she gives me before dipping her chin. “Wow. That’s really sweet.” She gazes up at me from under her long lashes and the impact is detrimental to my pulse. Having Lennon’s completely undivided attention on me is similar to being electrocuted. The high voltage seems to zap through me, stealing any coherent response, so I continue gawking slack-jaw like a creep.

Lennon sighs while her eyes scan my face and I wonder what she sees. She shrugs before saying, “I’m going to the office and telling the principal what happened. Do you wanna come with or go to class?”

I don’t like either of those options but my regular schedule appeals to me far more than being questioned by the principal. Leaving Lennon stabs at my chest but the thought of sitting in the office makes my skin crawl.

“Will you be all right alone? I should probably get to class but if you want me to come with, I can.” I’d go with her no matter what, even if my heart seized with panic, but she’s already shaking her head.

“This isn’t my first rodeo so don’t worry.” She starts edging around me so I step out into the hallway. “So, I’ll see you around?” She asks while backing away.

I nod while tracking her retreating form, regretting the safer choice of going to class and separating from her. I’ll be seeing her very soon though.

Lennon waves before blessing me with another smile, which is exactly what I need to calm the worry slithering through my veins. She turns and walks toward the stairs while my mind conjures up imagines of her being attacked again. Next time could be worse and I can’t allow any danger to reach her. I wait a few beats before following, the need to ensure she’s safe settling deep within me.

No matter where she goes, I’ll always follow.


I dream of stormy waters, thrashing and turbulent, crashing against the unsuspecting shoreline. The waves are relentless and chaotic, refusing to calm. Over and over, again and again, without rest. Whenever I wake, it's always to images of him.

~Four Years Later~

“GAH, STOP IT. You're embarrassing me.” I elbow Lucy, my pesky roommate, in the ribs as a blush burns my face. My eyes dart around Brewed Awakenings, the café near campus, before pinning her with a glare. Hopefully no one heard her crude comments.

Lucy rolls her eyes. “I'm trying to help you out, Len. You're always complaining about not meeting enough guys.” Her eyebrows wiggle while her chin juts toward the cute boy ahead of us again.

Just thinking about approaching him has cramps attacking my legs. “I'm too shy and awkward. I can't just force it, ya know? Urgh, of course you don’t know. Flirting is automatic for you.”

She snorts as I point out the obvious.

“Whatever, Luce. You know it’s true so don’t bother denying it. Things are different for me though. Talking to a man shouldn't make me feel uncomfortable but it does. The right guy won’t make me nauseous and ready to panic though.” My voice tapers off as familiar humiliation surges through me.

“Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. At our age, dating should be easy and breezy. Just for fun.” Laughter paints her tone when she nudges me lightly. “The fear won’t suddenly vanish unless you start doing something about it. Like ripping off a bandage. Just walk up and introduce yourself. He seems completely harmless.” Confidence radiates from her and envy bleeds from me.

Lucy has been giving me a similar version of this same speech since we met freshman year. No matter how many times she’s lectured me over the years, I’m still single and a total novice when it comes to the opposite sex. I wish there was one solid reason to blame but my lack of experience is a messy hodgepodge, starting with my parent’s rigid upbringing. It didn’t help that my family frequently moved when I was growing up or that my naturally introverted personality beckons me to blend in the background.

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