Home > Watch Me Follow(6)

Watch Me Follow(6)
Author: Harloe Rae

Another hint of a smile tilts my lips as I secretly track Lennon’s movements inside the lobby.

See you soon, Sunshine.


I’d give up all the stars in the sky to stare into those stormy waters again. Even just for a moment.

I HUM ALONG to the swoony country tune playing on the radio as my fingers continue layering silky fabric on the mannequin. The soft blue material reminds me of a cloudless sky and I imagine a classy woman wearing the dress to a fancy garden party. She’ll eagerly show off the effortless draping and perfect pleating between the subtly different shades that make up the cascading pattern. The slight peek-a-boo effect swoops down and around before smoothing out along the hip. No one wants extra fabric there, especially the glitzy bombshells I’m hoping to sell my creations to.

Dream big, right?

A frustrated puff escapes past the pins held between my lips. I secure a loose fold with steady fingers while reining in my overzealous mind. It’s easy for my thoughts to wander while I’m working but now’s the time to start getting serious. Before I get lost in the possibilities of the future, my pieces need to be marketed.

Too bad I suck at selling my product—no matter how much love and passion bleeds into each stitch. Lacking confidence is a career killer, especially in the saturated field of fashion design. I’m a dime a dozen unless I step the eff up and put myself out there.

In the real world, it doesn’t matter that the professors rave about my unique style and intricate attention to detail. My portfolio is packed full of specialty pieces that exceeded their standards but that won’t matter if I don’t start promoting. By some stroke of luck, customers managed to find my website and purchased the clothes I’ve listed. I barely made a profit but getting any sales at all was a huge accomplishment. The chances of that continuing to happen without proper advertisement is very slim.

Getting my brand on the map isn’t the only hurdle I need to clear. Thinking about losing this fantastic workspace twists my stomach. Everything piling up is a migraine waiting to happen.

I take a deep breath as my gaze sweeps across the sprawling green campus from the floor-to-ceiling windows near my station. My thoughts begin drifting again but this time I’m distracted by visions of a particularly mysterious man wearing a black sweatshirt. I begin wondering who is he and what he was doing following us earlier. Chills race up my spine as I recall his intense presence silently standing before us. The panic and fear that typically attacks me around men didn’t crash down. I pondered my odd reaction, or lack thereof, the entire time my eyes devoured his broad frame. The short moment reminded me of another time with a different boy, the only one who brought comfort.

I focus on the crowded sidewalks, picturing him out there somewhere. Was he following us? Could he be the one I’ve spied nearby during those moments when my intuition bangs like a steel drum and my skin prickles?

I first noticed a looming figure in dark clothing several weeks ago. The suspicious person seemed to be hanging around one second then vanished the next. Those instances were eerie as hell, and always sent flashes of alarm skittering through me, but I managed to brush them off. At first, I considered a connection to the random gifts from my “secret admirer” but that seemed like a crazy assumption. My wild imagination, plus the pesky paranoia instilled by my strict parents, are probably to blame.

My eyes roll in frustration as I refocus on the project in front of me. I bite my lip while quickly glancing outside. The enormous man from earlier could be watching and excited tingles spread through my stomach just thinking about it. What would he see? Me—being lame as always—woodenly working away. Maybe I should make it more interesting for him? Just in case he happens to be out there?

What am I thinking? He could be a super creep, waiting for me to put my guard down so he can snatch me. But that doesn’t seem right, even though I can’t explain why.

Am I completely wacky for having this strange attachment to a figment of my imagination?

Yes. I’m losing it. I shouldn’t be pining after him and attempting to draw male attention to myself. An involuntary shudder works through me as I recall unwanted hands wandering over my skin. I lick my dry lips while remembering my voice cracking with desperation. Men can be serious schmucks.

I scoff while shaking my head. My fingers push a few more pins in place as I get back on track. There’s no need to spend more time worrying over shit I can’t control. End of story.

A fast-pace song begins, the rhythm easy to bop along to, and my hips start naturally swaying to the beat. All the stress and possible what-ifs start fading away as I get lost in my design. I really get into the groove while singing about saving a horse and riding a—

“Nice moves you’ve got there,” a masculine voice calls out.

I release a startled squeak as I spin around. My chest rises and falls with rapid breaths as I gape at the unexpected intruder.

“David. Holy shit, you scared me. What are you doing here?” My words sound like a rattling wheeze as I attempt to rein in the shock.

He chuckles lightly, as though my reaction amuses him.

“Don’t look so scared, Lennon. I heard the music and wanted to see if it was you up here. Figured if it was, I’d try prying you away for that drink you promised me last week.”

I inwardly groan at the reminder of my commitment to going out with him. There’s no way I’m going anywhere with him alone—just the thought makes me queasy.

“Uh, I’m pretty busy today. Now isn’t a good time, David. I really need to finish these looks and get them posted online.”

He steps closer and my heartrate ratchets up at his proximity. We’re totally isolated in this part of the building and my mind spins with possibilities of escape. David keeps moving further into the room until he’s hovering at the edge of my workspace. My vision swims as I scan the surrounding area, frantically looking for a way out.

“Come on, Lennon. Don’t turn me down again. I’m taking you out, just one drink. Let’s go.” David isn’t asking and his forcefulness cranks my anxiety up another notch.

My feet instinctively stumble backward when he stalks closer. His putrid cologne assaults my nostrils and I swallow several times to avoid throwing up. I shake my head violently while trying to keep him in sight.

“No, thank you. I have a lot to get done. I think it’s best if you leave now. Please.” I have to force the words from my tight throat. My voice is meek and matches the quivering havoc in my chest.

David lewdly licks his lips and says, “You don’t really mean that. Let me help you with . . . everything.” His eyes flash and a bolt of terror stabs me.

This cannot be happening again. Please, not again.

Suddenly a shrill noise breaks apart the uncomfortable standoff. I quickly snatch my ringing phone off the table while keeping a careful eye on David.

Saved by the fucking bell.

“Hello?” I practically yell, eager for an excuse to get the fuck out of here.

“Hello, is this Lennon Bennett?” The sweet feminine tone wraps around me like a fuzzy blanket.

“Yes, this is she.”

“Hello ma'am, I’m a representative calling from AmeriBank. You have a credit card through our federal union. This call is to inform you that there’s been some significant spending on your account that we’ve flagged as suspicious. Do you have a moment to review some recent charges?”

What? Suspicious spending? This can’t be possible. My credit card is only used in emergencies—

“Ma’am? Are you still there?”

I swallow my panic with a loud gulp. “Yes, I’m here. Sorry but I’ve never dealt with this before. When did these charges take place?” My shoulders tense in preparation of hearing the worst.

“They started coming through over the past few days. If you’re near a computer, we can look at the purchases I am referring to. Is that possible, Ms. Bennett?”

My eyes clench shut as I think of the nearest options. There are a few study carrels upstairs with desktops. That will have to do.

“Yes, I have to go a different room but it’s not far.” I’m already on the move but a hand on my arm stops me.

The unwanted touch adds another chaotic layer to this swirling fiasco and I’m about to lose my shit. I glare at David and wrench my elbow from his grasp. I’m done with his bullshit and continue walking.

He pipes up as I’m exiting the door, “This isn’t over, Lennon. You owe me a date.”

I roll my eyes and keep going. He can wait forever because it’s never going to happen. I reach the stairs and start huffing my way up.

“I’m almost to the computer. Sorry for keeping you waiting. I’m thankful for your call,” I rasp into the phone after clearing the second flight.

“It’s part of my job, Ms. Bennett. We strive to ensure our customers are protected. We appreciate your business.”

Tears prick my eyes at her gentle pitch, like a balm soothing my jagged nerves. She hasn’t said anything monumental but her slight reassurance is exactly what I need to hear. Too much has been stacking up lately and today took a sharp turn for the worst with stupid David.

There’s one computer available as I approach the alcove and my knees almost buckle in relief. I send up a silent thank you to whatever lucky stars exist for this tiny gift.

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