Home > Watch Me Follow(5)

Watch Me Follow(5)
Author: Harloe Rae

Perhaps it’s time to leave another present. Something bigger than the usual coffee and bagel I drop off several times a week. I open the browser on my phone and check her updated website bookmarks. My eyebrow arches while I scan through several pages for sewing machines she’s recently visited. Looks like I found exactly what she wants. I tilt my head while reading a few reviews, trying to decide on the perfect model.

I always try finding the items Lennon’s searching for so her reaction is extra special. A few months ago, I gave Lennon a book she’d been trying to find. My memory of the smile that lit up her face makes it seem like yesterday though. Her joy was worth the extra effort of tracking down the elusive author. Compared to that guy, I’m a social butterfly.

A snort rolls out of me at my form of a joke, even though no one is around to listen. I’m not normal when it comes to communicating with others but Lennon motivates me to fix my deficits. Only for her though. Everything I do is for her. Always.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

All right, that’s a blatant lie. There’s a ton I would change about this twisted arrangement—the first being Lennon’s unknown participation. It would be nice to walk alongside her rather than two steps behind. I’ve become the creep everyone called me. In my defense, it’s for her protection.

But far more than that.

Keeping her safe provides me with a convenient excuse to constantly follow her, and invading her privacy is part of the gig. It's not socially acceptable for me to constantly be watching her through the window. Deep down I understand hacking into her accounts isn’t right. I realize stalking Lennon isn't either but I’ve tricked myself into believing that she needs me to watch over her.



Even my crazy brain can admit it's far more than keeping her safe. This is greater than needing her light to warm my freezing skin. I love her in an all-consuming way and there’s no way to control the tidal wave of emotions constantly thrashing through me. My feelings for her are molded into my soul and spirit, like vital pieces I can’t live without. I was already obsessed during our senior year but since then, it’s become an unstoppable need. Every muscle in my body seizes up while considering the probability of her rejecting me. Lennon saved me from the wreckage by offering genuine compassion, and I’ll never forget it. Even if she wants nothing to do with me, I’ll forever be in her debt for changing my life.

Most importantly, I want her to be happy.

Lennon wants to start her own business and I’m determined to make that happen. My eyes return to the phone screen as I check the ads for her website. I’ve got three running currently and they’re performing quite well. By the looks of it, her inventory is completely sold out. I close my eyes and picture her stunning smile when she saw these results. The pressure in my chest eases but worry still worms through me.

What’s the chance this ends with us together?

My brain suddenly switches gears, shutting down those wayward thoughts and I slip my phone back into my pocket, as Lennon and Lucy exit the café. I pull my hood up farther, making sure my face is hidden, as they pass by along the sidewalk. They’ll be heading back to Aire Gardens—their apartment building—before Lucy goes to class and Lennon heads to her studio as always. They’re giggling again and desperation quickly claws at me. I continue trudging along behind them, just out of sight, and consider a time when things might be different.

A cool breeze hits my face and I squint against the morning sun. A subtle smile lifts my lips, which still seems foreign but has become more common lately. Thinking of Lennon next to me, aware of my existence, gives me a glimmer of joy. Can she forgive me for all I’ve done wrong? For every bad decision made with decent intentions? Hope blooms in my chest that Lennon will understand my quirks and odd behavior. Fear of rejection lives inside of me, the inevitable downfall once she discovers the truth surges through my veins. I’ll take whatever chance there is, no matter how small, that Lennon can accept me. My desire to be better for her has been powering through me like oxygen in my lungs. When we see each other again, I'll be a different version of myself than she remembers. One she'll hopefully be able to love.

My palm rubs over the hood covering my shortly cropped hair while I wonder if Lennon would even recognize me. A lot has changed since we last saw each other. I’ve been trying to become more comfortable in my skin. Sometimes I still shake my head, expecting the thick curtain of hair to fall across my eyes. But my longtime defense against cruel leers is gone and has been for a while. When I face Lennon, her eyes will be on me and there won't be anything obstructing her view. I need her to see me, all of me, so she realizes I’m offering everything to her. Forever.

When we arrive at their place, our place since I live in this complex too, the girls jog up the front stairs while whispering about who knows what. Their chatter doesn’t interest me at the moment. I’m watching Lennon’s subtle curves sway under her dress and a groan is begging to release from my throat. It takes all my might to keep the primal reaction trapped but I fail epically.

Lucy suddenly glares at me over her shoulder before muttering, “Creeper.”

The nasty barb is familiar and rolls off my tense shoulders. I’m well aware that lurking behind them is suspicious as fuck but also don’t care what Lucy thinks of me. My only interest is Lennon’s opinion of my presence.

As if hearing what I’m waiting for, Lennon shushes Lucy before turning my way. I lower my face slightly but am able to catch the clear shock covering her features as her gaze scans my broad frame. Her posture stiffens as her aqua pools swirl restlessly. My cheeks blaze under Lennon’s direct attention and nerves begin bubbling in my gut.

What’s she’s focusing on most?

My towering height? Wide shoulders? All black clothes? The features I keep hidden?

Sweet coconut fills the air and I breathe deeply, desperate to inhale her scent. A rumble rises from my throat.

She smells so damn good.

Lennon’s breath hitches and the knuckles clutching her bag turn white. Everyone is terrified of me, but is she? Based off her reaction, most would say yes, but they don’t watch her like I do. If Lennon were truly terrified, she’d already be locked inside the apartment, safe behind a closed door. Instead, she continues standing before me. Just staring silently.


These questions hound me more than anything else. The curiosity eats away at me, even more so lately, so I’ve found myself becoming bolder. This isn’t the first time we’ve been in this situation, almost close enough to touch yet the distance seems like a gaping hole. Desperation gnaws at me to close the gap.

I’ve been getting more reckless on purpose because of this frenzied desire, like I want her to catch me. In high school, we had a chance but it slipped away because I was too chicken shit to pursue her.

I won’t make those mistakes again.

If Lennon gives me reason to believe she wants to know who I am, there’s no backing down. She never sees my face so she isn’t aware who’s beneath the hood. Sometimes I wonder if she senses I’m always around. When she glances out her window or peers around the corner, does she know it’s always this dark stranger watching over her? I'm usually out of direct sight, except instances like this but . . . maybe she finds me familiar for some reason.

What would happen if I lowered my shield and showed her who I am? Would she be scared then? Or would she be happy to see me?

What would happen then?

The unknown grates on my already fraying nerves.

Four years is a long time to wonder. My fingers twitch as I think about pulling the hood down. I could start with my face . . .

As I’m considering the options, Lucy huffs loudly and jerks Lennon’s arm. I want to snap at her for being rough but the demand lodges in my throat. Talking to her isn’t possible and the potential of revealing my identity dies off with that reminder.

The time isn’t right. Not with Lennon’s friend here and all the people walking by. We need to be alone, somewhere quiet, where I have an actual chance to speak up. I’ll keep waiting because this isn’t something that can be rushed. Our reunion will be special.

Lennon’s gaze is still locked on me. Even with my chin dipped to stay hidden, I see her light eyes boring holes into the shadow created by my hood. I’m getting lost in her all over again until Lucy pulls her further away. “Come on, Len. We gotta go.” She whines loudly, effectively snapping the last lingering tendrils of the moment I’d been trapped in.

I take a few steps back to head for the back entrance. Lennon shakes her head, as if snapping out of a haze, before focusing on her friend. She clears her throat before murmuring, “What did you say?”

My heart rate kicks up as I imagine her distracted because of me. My feet falter before freezing in place, taking one last look at the beauty standing near me.

I’m going to impress her one day—at least that’s what I keep telling myself. I've been coasting along, biding my time until we can be together. It seems like the time could finally be right but the ditch I’ve been digging is damn deep.

Will she be able to forgive me?

I won’t focus on that right now. My sunshine just graced me with her attention and I’m going to bask in the warmth before the chill seeps back in. Today has been good.

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