Home > Watch Me Follow(13)

Watch Me Follow(13)
Author: Harloe Rae

With Lennon facing away, I can’t concentrate on anything but her shutting me out. A plea is waiting on my lips, ready to beg for her turquoise sea and sunny rays. Cold sweat prickles my skin. Everything aches as I rack my feeble brain for a plan. My heart jolts as I recall her question from this morning and settle on that. It’s a way of telling her how I feel without saying too much.

With a relieved whoosh, I give her one word. “Yes.”

Lennon twirls around in the next breath, sputtering and shaking her head. “Yes to what, Ryker? That doesn’t go along with anything I've been talking about.”

I swallow my fear. “Yes, I like you. A lot.” Those words have been suffocating me, taunting me for keeping quiet, and hopefully sharing them is the right choice.

Her eyes become saucer sized as she stumbles closer. I almost reach out to balance her when she grabs hold of the nearby table. “What did you say?” she whispers.

“You asked earlier. I mean, you asked the hooded stranger, if he liked you. If that’s why he was following you. Well, he is me and yes, I like you.” The explanation tumbles out—no filter or second thought.

Without warning, she leaps toward me. Every instinct within me reaches out to catch her as my arms pull her tight against me. The top of her head meets the ball of my collarbone and it’s a natural fit. My chin rests on her crown as she snuggles into my chest. As a person who’s never liked being touched, I should be uncomfortable with what’s happening but everything I am welcomes her against me, easily and effortlessly, like finding a salve for an untreatable wound.

Just as the last of my festering unease dissipates, Lennon starts pushing away from me. I tighten my hold, nowhere near ready to let her go, as she gasps loudly, “Holy shit, what’s wrong with me? I just freaking mauled you! I’ve never done anything like this, ever!” Her long hair whips around as she jerks back. “All of a sudden something snapped and I flung into you, like an effing rubber band. It was like an out-of-body experience, like some . . . subconscious shit I couldn’t control. Does that sound totally crazy? Oh my God, you must think I’m looney.” Lennon keeps struggling and puts a hand to her creased forehead. I swear this isn’t normal for me. I don’t go around throwing myself at guys—”

I cut her off right there. “Please, stop.”

She does immediately.

“It’s okay, Lennon. I’m perfectly all right with what’s happening here.”

Her bottomless eyes flash at me. “You are? Really?”

“Of course. I’m pretty damn crazy about you so having you here,” I squeeze her gently, “means a lot.”

She murmurs quietly, “I’ve been waiting a long time to hear that. You have no idea.”

“It makes you happy I feel that way?” The answer might be obvious to some but I need her words.

“Very much. I’ve, Ummm . . . never forgotten about you. I had a crush on you in high school.” Lennon groans before turning her face into my shirt. “I’m such a dork. Who just blurts something like that out?” Her question is muffled.

“Well, me. I just did that. Right? I like you and had a . . . crush on you back then too.” What I feel is far more than a simple crush but that’s the term she chose.

Lennon laughs and the sound vibrates through me.

“We’re quite unique. Most people censor what they say and aren’t so open. I’ve always held back but it’s different with you. I kept my feelings secret for so long and now you’re here . . . it makes sense to share it.”

Her words make my body lock up tight. Lennon only knows a portion of my possessive devotion to her. I need to be perfectly typical otherwise.

Lennon pulls back and looks up at me. “What’s wrong?”

Uncertainty pokes at my mind. I don’t know how to describe the thoughts quickly spinning through me. My brain is at war with my heart, pulling me in different directions. I glance away before muttering, “I don’t want to be different anymore.”

“What do you mean? We’ll always be—”

I cut her off with a sharp, “No. I need to be normal.”

Lennon noticeably flinches before pushing further away. She doesn’t look at me while mumbling, “All right. That’s fine. I didn’t mean to offend you or anything.” She laughs but there’s no joy behind it, as though it’s shoved from her lungs. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be different. Guess you don’t feel the same way.” Her tone is flat and dull, lacking the usual vibrancy.

“I don’t understand. Do you want me to leave?” I manage to ask weakly.

She offers a barely-there shrug before tightly wrapping her arms around her waist. Shit, I said the wrong thing. She wants me to go, for real this time. Terror grips my windpipe because I just blew my only chance with her. I can’t go back to the shadows. I won’t survive without her warmth.

Fuck, my lungs are burning.

Black spots dance in my vision. I’m screaming on the inside, flipping my shit, yet outwardly I’m still rooted in place. Don’t take the sunshine away, bubbles in my strangled throat but can’t be voiced in the midst of panic.

“Ryker? Hey, are you alright?” Lennon is standing directly before me but not close enough to cork the erupting hysteria.

Anxiety threatens to crush me so all I can do is shake my head.

I jump when her heated palms cover my shaking fists but the gentle touch is a heated balm to my numb limbs. My crazed stare sears into her calm gaze as she brings me back from the ledge.

“I don’t want you to go, Ryker. You seemed upset so I figured you wanted space. That’s all.” Lennon speaks quietly and her silky tone cocoons me in peace. Her nails softly scratch my forearms and the sensation dives down into my marrow.

This girl is . . . life changing.

She clears her throat. “Can we start over? Like, erase the last thirty minutes?”

Fear of rejection stabs me but I give her honesty. “Holding you in my arms was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t want to pretend that didn’t happen. No way.”

Lennon smiles and bliss spreads outward from my chest. “Just the misunderstanding, not the hug. I don’t want to forget that either.”

I focus on her glistening lips, plump and turned up at the corners. The matching grin feels foreign on my face yet natural for her at the same time. The lingering tension disappears as I get lost in her. “So, what happens now?”


Don’t judge by first impressions, there’s far more beneath the surface.

A SLIGHT SMIRK curls his mouth and the glorious sight steals my focus, along with any intention of discussing why or when he started following me. Why do we need to delve directly into the tough stuff anyway? I was already upset as the frustration of him ignoring me in school came rushing out. I couldn’t control the outpouring of emotion that’s been waiting directly under the surface but that’s not how this long overdue reunion should have started.

I want to bask in joyful celebration.

Ryker is here.

How is this real? Would it be completely inappropriate to continue staring at him without speaking? He’s my hero and has been since saving me from a horrible situation I couldn’t have stopped alone. I’ll never forget what Ryker did for me and hopefully my appreciation still shines brightly through the shock.

He doesn’t seem to mind the quiet and from what I recall, he never did back then either. Ryker never spoke to anyone, at least from my careful observations, but I always waited for him to talk to me. Each day I sat silently in front of him believing he never noticed me. Even after he rescued me from Jason, and my infatuation morphed into an unrequited crush, we never interacted again.

I’ve been given a second chance.

Should I say something to break up the silence?

My brain hasn’t quite caught up to my heart and keeps tripping up in disbelief. He’s breathtaking and strong and . . . standing so close I can almost touch him. Ryker is effing stunning, like break-the-rating-scale type of hottie. I tip my chin further back to get the full picture—might as well since I’m already gawking like a lovestruck fangirl.

He’s massive, but always was so that’s not what I’m paying attention to. Ryker always hid his stunning blue eyes behind a curtain of shaggy hair. The thick dark brown thatch would hang over his face, protecting him from lingering stares. For three months I sat in front of him and always wondered what it'd be like to have his ocean gaze directly on me. Well, now I know.

Ryker is the one I’ve been waiting for.

The mere idea of him has been keeping me company all this time, along with my secret admirer, but of course they’re one in the same. As if my point needs more proof, I’m able to talk openly to him without an ounce of fear. Even with his intense blues blazing at me, my belly flutters in glee without a twinge of anxiety. If I wasn’t stuck in Lalaland, the words would flow easily like a waterfall. In this moment, I’m experiencing complete obliteration of appropriate brain functioning and social skills.

Cue the verbal vomit.

“What happened to your hair?” The urge to smack my forehead tingles my fingertips but I shake it off.

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