Home > Watch Me Follow(10)

Watch Me Follow(10)
Author: Harloe Rae

I realize that secretly following Lennon all this time had been slowly tangling my mind. The memories of her focused on me seemed vibrant but compared to this reality, they’d faded. Somewhere along the line, it became satisfying to watch Lennon from a distance—silently making sure she was protected. Our interactions were one-sided as I stalked behind from the shadows or tracked her location on a computer screen. I’d tricked myself into believing that was enough for me, so long as I was near her.

Until now.

Everything has changed since Lennon caught me following her and shifted that turquoise gaze my way. I’m a junkie, an addict, for the soaring high Lennon’s attention gives me. I want it all the time and there’s no alternative—her warm rays of light and lakeshore eyes are the only cure. So, I get closer and closer—bolder and bolder. There’s no going back to hiding in dark isolation. I’m ready to bask in the stunning sunshine while swimming in the aqua sea.

Lennon turns away from the window and walks toward the exit with Lucy. It’s Thursday, which means the girls will grab coffee from Brewed Awakenings before going to class. I push away from the tree and roll my stiff neck before moving closer to the sidewalk. When my eyes settle back on Lennon, I stumble back as cold fear lodges in throat. My heart takes off at a breakneck pace as she walks down the path.

Straight. Toward. Me.

What the hell am I supposed to do?

Expletives run through me with the beat of my rapid pulse. Even though it’s logical to assume she would approach me, if even just to tell me off, I didn’t think she would. Or at least not yet. Panic ripples through my gut and I desperately search for a way out of this unexpected twist. I’m not prepared for her confrontation and the urge to hide scratches at me, like a persistent pest that won’t go away.

She’s getting even closer. There’s no doubt about it—she’s planning to confront me. Oxygen isn’t properly passing through my clenched chest and I’m getting light headed. Maybe if I pass out, she’ll forget about me stalking her.

While attempting to remain conscious, against my better judgement, I focus on Lennon gliding my way. Her toned legs bring her closer and I get lost in the smooth stride. Lennon is like the mirage I’ve imagined shimmering in front of me countless times but this isn’t a hallucination—she’s real and this is actually happening.

My fists jab deeper into my pockets while I try getting a grip on the panic crashing into me. My resolve to stay standing here starts to shatter. The instinct to flee claws at my gut, begging me to escape, but the desperate craving for Lennon’s attention wins and my feet remain cemented in place.

She stops several feet away and I suddenly realize she’s not alone. Lucy’s presence will make it impossible for me to speak, not that words were very likely in the first place. But I’d make an attempt for Lennon. Only Lennon.

I watch her sandaled feet shuffle while her fingers knot together. My mind focuses on the jerky movements and I wonder if this means Lennon is nervous. The potential of us feeling the same way eases my overwhelming anxiety slightly.

Until she speaks.

“Are you dangerous?”

My gaze snaps up at her quiet words and everything within me tenses painfully. Just the mere thought of her considering me a threat has my soul screaming in agony. Lennon stares back at me with wide eyes, her mouth in the shape of a tiny o, and I want to ask what these expressions mean. Is she worried? Surprised? The need to shout that I’d never hurt her burns my throat but the words don’t form.

I wildly shake my head instead, silently pleading that she comprehends my meaning.

Lennon clears her throat softly. “I didn’t mean to just blurt that out but it’s important to know. You wouldn’t lie, right?” She tilts her head while studying me, quietly assessing the risk level no doubt.

Lucy scoffs but I don’t pay much attention. From under my hood, I watch my beautiful sunshine as her aqua gaze sears into my hidden face. An involuntary shudder rolls down my back before I nod, eager for Lennon to believe me.

“Will you talk to me?” Her request is a soothing melody to my frazzled mind but I can’t do what she’s asking. Not with Lucy around and all these other people passing by. Regardless, desperation slices into me and I want nothing more than to give Lennon all the words spinning through my brain, especially when a small smile tips her lips, as if she’s inviting me to speak . . .

But I can’t shove a single syllable past my clogged windpipe.

I slowly shake my covered head and the encouraging grin falls from her lips.

“Oh, all right.” She pauses for a moment. “But you’re responding so . . . just yes or no questions?” Lennon’s voice is calm and warm, taking the chill from my bones. My heart gallops with hope that she wants to know me.

My chin bobs hesitantly as I wait for what happens next.

When Lennon takes two steps forward, everything else fades away and my system floods with molten lava. She’s still out of reach but within my orbit, and I definitely take notice. I’m always cold so wearing a hoodie in the balmy weather never bothers me, but it does now. The need to strip off my black armor clangs within me but I shove it away. Sweat gathers on my brow as I’m exposed to her direct sunlight. The overwhelming heat sucks all the air from my already starving lungs.

Lennon distracts me when she asks, “Are you following me?”

I contemplate my response for a moment, trying to decide if being honest will scare her away. At this point, there’s no use denying it. I cautiously nod again before holding my breath.

She sucks in sharply and her eyes flutter shut as a delicate hand rests against her neck. My stomach sinks like a boulder without that connection to Lennon, the bright attention she gives me, and my intention to stick around wavers. Her chest shudders with a shaky breath before her bottomless pools open and I’m drowning in those depths once again. I’ll never leave if she keeps looking at me.

“I want to ask why you’re watching me but that isn’t something you’ll answer. Let’s see . . .”

When she bites her lip and a groan rattles from me, Lennon jerks back. Fucking primal shit is going to ruin this for me. My throat spasms with an apology but before I try forcing out words, she steps forward and hovers on the edge of my personal space. Lennon straightens her shoulders and lifts her chin before whispering, “Do you like me?”

Once the words pass her lips, I watch a rosy blush blossom on her cheeks. The bright color lights up her face and I want more. I lick my lips, ready to force the answer from my mouth. Her question deserves a proper response and my jaw ticks open—

“Can we see your face or what?” Rings out from behind Lennon.

My guard slams back down with the blatant reminder of Lucy’s presence. I’d been so wrapped up in sunshine that it appeared we were alone out here. Big mistake.

I grit my teeth as the obscenities begin silently flying for everything happening at once. At Lennon for choosing now to ask something like that. At Lucy for being here and making matters a thousand times worse. At myself for being a shy mute who can’t string a few sentences together when it really matters.

Lennon seems to sense the change and she moves into my personal space. I shift my face to stay hidden while she tries to repair the damage her friend caused. “Hey, don’t listen to her. She only came along because she was worried. But I’m not. I understand if you don’t want to take off your hood. It’s okay. Don’t take off, alright?” Her velvet murmur wraps around me and draws me back into her light.

My fingers strain to write the words my mouth can’t say. I suddenly remember the note in my pocket for later. I was planning to include it with a coffee delivery but now will be better. My hand snatches the small square and I ignore the cramp seizing my muscles. The yellow paper vibrates as I slowly show it to Lennon.

You are my sunshine.

Lennon gasps and covers her mouth with a trembling hand. Her quaking fingers reach out to grab the note.

“It’s you?” Her question is barely there. “Oh my God, I’ve been wondering about you for so long. I can’t believe . . .” Her quivering voice tapers off as her glassy orbs lift to my shadowed features. My heart stalls when a short sob escapes her and the need to provide comfort cascades over me.

But I don’t know how.

A single tear slides down her cheek and without much thought, my thumb brushes it away. Lennon’s breath hitches before a blinding smile stretches her lips. “It’s you,” she says again but as a statement this time. A small grin lifts my mouth automatically, mirroring her joy the best I can. Lennon can’t see all of me and in this moment, I wish she could because my reaction belongs to her. She doesn't know who’s masked by the sweatshirt yet seems to accept my shield. She is standing here with me as happiness leaks from her features.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to hope.

While she stares at my darkened face, I gaze into her sunshine, and we just . . . enjoy the moment, basking in one another.

I hardly notice this time when Lucy pipes up. “All right, guys. This has been super fun and not at all weird but Lenny, we’re going to be late for class.”

My eyes never stray from the light in front of me but she’s leaving. A pinch of panic prickles at me but she’ll be safe, as always.

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