Home > Watch Me Follow(7)

Watch Me Follow(7)
Author: Harloe Rae

“All right, I’m getting there now. Do I just sign into my regular account?” I ask while rounding the cubicle edge.

The woman mutters softly before speaking up, “Ms. Bennett, it appears the suspicious activity on your account was a false alarm. The recent purchases suddenly cleared and your balance has returned to zero. I greatly apologize for this inconvenience and any disruption my call caused.”

I stumble into the wall as my mind plays catch up. “What? How is that possible?”

“It depends on several different factors, Ms. Bennett. In your case, considering the charges are already gone, our processing team must have already caught them as fraudulent and stopped payment. I recommend double checking your account tomorrow to be sure everything still looks normal. If anything seems unusual, please don’t hesitate to call us back. Is there anything else I can help with for now, ma’am?”

My scrambled thoughts swirl out of control. “Uh, I guess that’s all for now. If you say it’s all right. I don’t understand any of this but I’ll keep an eye on my balance. Thanks for your help.” I expel all the air in my lungs while hanging up the phone, glad this was an apparent false alarm.

I move toward the empty chair to process the past thirty minutes, and check my account just to be sure. Before I’m able to sit down, my body locks up tight. Sitting on the desk next to the keyboard is a very welcome pairing—a wrapped bagel and large cup of coffee. All the tension bleeds out of my frozen limbs as I collapse on the seat. I don’t understand why this unknown person and these unexpected surprises cause my heart to sing with relief. I do know they couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate time to drop off my favorite goodies.

A single sob hiccups from me and there’s no stopping the tears this time. Once I read the attached note, on the usual yellow post-it in a familiar bold script, my emotions get the best of me.

Never fear, Sunshine. I’m always here to keep you safe.


When Lennon laughs, the clouds part and sunlight streams through. Every worry fades away. Is it possible to bottle the sound and play it on repeat?

I PEER AROUND the hallway corner and blow out all the pent-up panic from the last hour. I take a few deep breaths to loosen the knot currently squeezing my chest. That was a close fucking call. Far too close for my liking.

My eyes strain as I stare at Lennon curled up on that uncomfortable chair. The tears streaming down her cheeks make it very difficult to keep my distance. Every instinct is screaming at me to comfort and love her. I take a hesitant step forward, uncertainty warring with driving need, when Lennon sniffles loudly.

And then she smiles.

I slam to a stop as the radiant expression stretches her plump lips. I shift closer, as if pulled by a force beyond control, but am still hidden behind the adjacent cubicle. Lennon’s delicate fingers trace my note on her coffee cup.

Is that smile because of me?

Is she happy because of the treats I left?

Could she be wondering who I am?

I can’t start wishing for miracles like that but . . .

This was the exact reaction I’d hoped for. I figured she could use her two favorite treats after pouring hours into creating another beautiful dress. I’d been looking forward to basking in her sunny warmth while she discovered the goods outside the studio door. Those moments keep me sane.

And he fucking ruined it.

When I found him hounding Lennon, murky red spattered across my vision. This dumbass had bothered her in the past and he received a fairly pleasant warning from me. Too bad he couldn’t fucking stay away. I’ll be paying him a special visit for that stupid choice. My fists grind the concrete wall as my eyes narrow into slits. No one messes with my sunshine and gets away with it.

While my mind is spinning with ruthless possibilities, Lennon starts eating her bagel. Even from my hiding spot, I can hear the soft humming noises she makes with each bite. Watching her enjoy something I provided temporarily cools the fire burning in my gut. She’s here, safe, and almost in reach. Exactly where she belongs.

The vibration on my wrist pulls me back to reality and I tamp down a groan from being interrupted.

Dx8MM: Account back to normal. His phone signal has left the building so he should be long gone.

I tilt my head back and blow out a heavy breath, thankful to have help with this clusterfuck. I pull out my phone and send a quick reply.

AATS: Appreciate it, D. Owe you one.

Dx8MM: Next time I ask for help, day or night, you better pay up.

D probably won’t let that go until I actually return a favor but he saved my ass tonight. The online life I’ve built comes in handy when I need a quick hack.

My forehead thumps into the rough brick pillar before I roll my brow against the abrasive surface. Fuck, this is one more mark against me that I’ll have to explain to her someday. Will she understand my motives? What about my insane infatuation with her? How could she ever excuse some of the shit I’ve pulled? I better keep hoping for a damn miracle.

Why can’t I be normal?

Can she love a flawed man?

I’ll never deserve her perfection.

What I've been doing all these years is an unspeakable invasion of her privacy. I can't stop though. She’s sunk deep into my soul. So deep she’ll never escape. I can only hope that once Lennon knows, she’ll want to stay. My devotion to her is what keeps me going—it's who I've become.

I wouldn't exist without her.

Lennon stands from the table and stretches. My hands burn in need, itching to rub her sore muscles. She’s so beautiful, even with slightly swollen eyes and blotchy skin. Those temporary imperfections make her more stunning to me.

When she turns away, I manage to move a bit closer without her noticing. My body zaps awake with her close proximity. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay away when everything within me begs to give in. I won’t hold out much longer.

Lennon’s several feet ahead as we go downstairs. When she takes a sharp turn and heads outside, it becomes obvious she isn’t returning to work tonight. Hopefully we’re heading back to the apartment where she’ll be safely tucked away for the night. My eyes focus on the gentle sway of Lennon’s hips as she slowly walks along the path. Everything else fades away as I get lost in her hypnotic rhythm.

Being around Lennon’s light, even from a distance, has been repairing the painful damage from my past. After leaving high school and all those assholes behind, my anger has been slowly dissipating. The heat boiling my veins had become a constant onslaught so when the flames started fading, I wasn’t sure how to handle the shock to my system. Without their continuous jeers and jabs, the raging fire seems more like dying embers.

Obviously, there are certain situations where Lennon has been around guys and they’re beyond my control. I keep my shit in check while she’s in class or working on team projects. I can’t block her from all communication with the opposite sex but there’s definitely a line they aren’t allowed to cross.

I’ve gladly scared off the idiots who thought there was a possibility for more. It’s usually fairly easy, especially since Lennon steers pretty clear of men on her own, but there’s a stupid few who refuse to take a hint. My strength and bulk come in handy when additional intervention is necessary—anxiety be damned.

As we near our building, I shove all the grit away and pay attention to the beauty shining in front of me. Lennon’s pace seems more lax than her typical stride and I wonder why she’s moving slower than usual.

Is she avoiding something at home?

Maybe Lucy has a guy over. I grit my teeth at the thought as the evening air cools my heated face.

Maybe she’s considering going back to campus to finish her blue dress. But what about Douchebag David? He might be waiting around regardless of what D’s tracking suggests.

Lennon looks over her shoulder and I dodge from her sight, but not fast enough. My distracted brain missed her subtle change in step and she probably caught me. Again. But after a slight pause, Lennon continues moving like nothing out of the ordinary happened.

She hops up the front steps and unlocks the door without another backward glance. In the next breath, she’s dashing away to her apartment and I’m stuck outside with a muddled mind. Watching Lennon disappear is like a punch to the gut, just like every night before this one. I’d love nothing more than to stand outside her window and process the baffling events from today but there’s another stop to make.

After pulling out my phone, I get to work finding David. With a few quick swipes, I’ve tracked his cell signal and my eyes hone in like a heat-seeking missile. He’s conveniently located a few blocks away at a bar. Probably the place he wanted to drag Lennon off to. The idea of her being forced out with him is enough to ignite a fierce explosion of fury in my blood. The anger consumes me as I stomp the short distance to him. My entire being surrenders to the madness surging through me, which evaporates the momentary bliss that was comforting me.

I send a decoy message disguised as one of his regular hook-ups—I uncovered her identity ages ago. “Molly” wants to meet at a club across the street, and David, being the pig he is, will gladly accept a chance at getting laid. My lip curls as I imagine his reaction to discovering me instead of a drunk co-ed.

David shoves through the door a moment later, a cloud of vomit-inducing cologne accompanying his disgraceful strut. I almost choke from my spot along the alley wall but spit rage instead.

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