Home > Watch Me Follow(3)

Watch Me Follow(3)
Author: Harloe Rae

I can’t leave out the painful truth that a few of my interactions with men involved the explanation of no means no. Perhaps my passive attitude causes some misunderstanding but I never asked for the slobbering attention those jerks gave me. Thankfully something always interrupted them before any real damage was done. The most memorable was a certain blue-eyed boy I’ll never forget.

Before my thoughts get whisked away by Ryker, the line we’ve been waiting in shifts forward and it’s my turn to order. I grab my usual hazelnut coffee and toasted Asiago bagel before finding an empty table.

“So, what do you think? Is he worth a little case of the jitters?” Lucy asks once we’re seated and digging into our food.

I scowl at her after sipping my favorite caffeinated blend. Her words are almost enough to ruin the sweet flavor lingering on my tongue but not quite.

“Knock it off. It’s so much worse than that and you know it. We’ve been over this how many times? I can’t just stroll over there and start up a conversation. No way.”

“But what if he’s an amazing catch and you’re letting the future walk away by not giving him a shot?” Lucy’s brown eyes are pleading but she won’t change my mind.

I take another bite while making a noncommittal noise.

“If he was someone special, I’d know.”

“Like your secret admirer?” She sing-songs before smirking.

My skin prickles at the mention of the mystery person who’s been leaving me random gifts since I started college. I almost choke on the lump in my throat while trying to respond.

“Probably not. If he or she actually liked me, they’d show their face by now. There hasn’t been anything more than the usual coffee and bagel for a month anyway. Maybe they’re finally realizing I’m a waste of their time.”

Her slim brow arches at me.

“You honestly believe that? Yeah right. You’re such a sap and I know you love those little surprises. Most people would have thrown that stuff away, afraid of being drugged. But you gobbled it up after reading the cute little note. I enjoy that trust about you, even though it freaked me out at first.” Lucy admits while jutting out her chin. “It’s obvious you’ve got some odd connection with this person. It’s gotta be killing you not to know who it is. Can’t we try tracking whoever it is down yet? We can ask anyone who works here since the coffees and bagels are always from here.”

I’m already shaking my head before she finishes.

“Nope. I’ve told you numerous times it’s more exciting not knowing. It’s whimsical and sweet and meant to be treasured. I’d hate to discover their identity and be totally disappointed for whatever reason. I like fantasizing much better.”

I release a slow breath and think of the last larger package that arrived, perfectly wrapped in sunflower yellow paper. I picture a chiseled jaw clenched in concentration as thick fingers work carefully to fold the edges just right. His light eyes sparkle in the lamplight and crinkle in the corners when a smile lifts his lips. I image him reading a steamy scene from the autographed romance novel he delivered to me. Another soft sigh leaves me.

“Yeah, it’s definitely better to keep it a mystery.”

Lucy grunts.

“But it’s been happening for years. Years, Len! And it’s gotta be a guy. What girl would keep up the charade for this long? We’re far too impatient for that.”

I shrug.

“We’ll probably never know and that’s just fine. Pretty soon I’ll graduate and move on. They won’t know where to send stuff anymore.”

The idea of not receiving those items makes my heart hurt. I’d never admit it to Lucy but I look forward to getting them. Far too much based on the storm cloud that’s suddenly rolled over me.

“Why do you look so upset? Considering you don’t care enough about this person to find them, right?” She asks warily. “Or did someone mess with your coffee?”

Not wanting to tell her the entire truth, I circle back to a safer subject.

“Nothing really. Just sad Mr. Right hasn’t shown up yet and I’m kind of lonely.”

“What about the guys in your classes? Don’t you ever talk to them?”

I groan in annoyance.

“Only because the professor tells us what to say. Plus, most of my courses lately are in the design studio and unfortunately those men are interested in something I can’t offer.” My disgruntled tone has Lucy snickering.

“Let me hook you up with someone!” She huffs when my head shakes wildly back and forth. “Seriously, you’re going to be a virgin forever. You can’t leave college without giving it up. Just think of all the sweaty fun you’ve already missed out on.”

“Says who?” I question with a raised brow, very familiar with this topic.

Lucy releases a frustrated squeak before practically yelling, “Me!”

My shhh is immediate and thankfully her tone dials down a few notches.

“I care about your lady bits and honestly worry about the obvious neglect their dealing with. Don’t you have urges, woman?”

Even though the last part is whispered, my gaze darts around in fear that someone heard.

“I can’t believe you just said that. Why are you always concerned with my supposed needs? Luce, you get enough action for both of us. I’m fine living vicariously through you.”

“Yeah, I see that.” She exhales heavily. “Sorry for getting on your case. Again. It’s just difficult for me to understand since my parents didn’t hide me away. In a way, it’s sweet how dedicated you are to finding the right guy to steal your virtue.” Lucy’s sympathetic eyes contradict her sassy tone. Deep down, I know she understands me.

My friend thinks waiting for love is old fashioned and maybe I am. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a man to actually care about me before sharing my most intimate pieces with him. I’m not saying we need to get married first but being wooed and spoiled a bit isn’t asking much. I refuse to believe romance is dead, so I’m fine holding out until my heart pitter-patters.

I want the butterflies, dammit.

I’ve had the fluttering eruption deep in my belly once before, which only strengthened my resolve to find love. Next time, I want the boy to return my affections because being ignored by the only one I craved sucked ass. Other than him and the random package deliveries, my body has remained tingle-free. Imagining anyone else giving me that type of reaction hasn’t been possible either.

So, here I am. Twenty-two and zero experience with guys.

I’ve chatted with men online after Lucy encouraged me to set up a dating profile. I even met a few for a date but it never went farther than a rushed meal. Each time they ran off scared, like something was chasing them away. It had to be me, right? After several failed attempts, I was the only common denominator. Plenty showed interest but I never got to know any well enough to try.

I'm not totally unfortunate looking, at least according to Lucy. She says my light eyes pop against the dark color of my hair, making a sexy contrast. Her words, not mine. It must be my introverted nature, but that’s not something I can easily change. I’ve always been on the quiet and skittish side, frequently getting stuck in my mind while trying to figure out what to say. Whatever tumbles out of my mouth ends of being a mash of consonants and total gibberish. My date would laugh and I couldn’t hear myself think over the rapid beat in my chest. By the time they realized I wasn’t worth the trouble, my nerves were completely shot and frazzled.

A loud snap in front of my eyes yanks me back to the present.

“Earth to Lennon.” Lucy is giving me her typical expectant look—a cocked brow paired with a squint. “Where’d you disappear to in that head of yours?”

I rub my face while clearing the clouded thoughts away.

“Sorry. I got caught up in the disastrous whirlwind called my life—the usual stuff. My parents called earlier asking when I was moving back home. Can you imagine?” I almost gag at the idea. “Where am I going to live though? You’re leaving me.” My lip sticks out in a pout and Lucy mirrors my action.

“Will you be alright while I’m in Paris? I feel terrible leaving you.” Her eyes mist over a tad as her voice takes on a note of concern.

Discussing Lucy’s extended stay overseas causes dread to slither up my spine. My best friend will be an ocean away for months. I won’t ruin the experience for her though so I force a small smile.

“Don’t worry about me. You’re the one leaving home. Who knows what kind of trouble you’ll get into over there.”

She rubs her hands together while practically bouncing in the chair.

“I know, right? That’s the best part. I have no idea what to expect and the possibilities are endless. Maybe I’ll meet an amazing man who wants to make all my dreams come true.” Lucy’s brow bobs obnoxiously.

Worry strikes me like a whip.

“Promise to come back?”

She scoffs.

“Of course, Lenny. Or you’d move over there with me.”

A loud snort shoots out of me.

“That’s rich. As if my parents would survive just thinking about it. Nah, I’ll stay put and you’ll be back soon enough.”

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