He Watches Me, Part One of The Seen Trilogy
She desires to be seen. He wants to watch.
Anna Sampson has a naughty secret. Every night, she slips into her neighbor’s yard and swims naked in his pool. She fantasizes that the dynamic young billionaire watches her nightly nude aquatics, his brilliant green eyes gleaming with lust.
She discovers this isn’t pure fantasy. Gabriel Blaine has been watching her via his security cameras, and now that he has returned to L.A., he doesn’t plan to stop. That’s all he wants—to watch. Anna knows she shouldn’t allow him and she certainly shouldn’t want more, but she craves Blaine’s attention, needing his gaze fixed on her body.
I’m like a ghost. I drift aimlessly through the Leigh’s empty Beverly Hills mansion, my bare feet slapping against the painted gray concrete floor, shoes not allowed in the sprawling modern bungalow.
I’m not dead. I move the oversized, never-been-opened book staged on the chrome coffee table an inch to the right. I’m breathing. I flick one light on and turn another light off, maintaining the minimum required amount of illumination. I have a physical form. I rearrange some of the catalogues, creating the illusion that they have been recently placed on the modern glass table, all of the stores featured priced out of a new graduate’s budget. But I’m not living, not truly, and no one sees me … which is how I like it.
I tilt my head back and study one of the many life-sized portraits of Suzanna Leigh hanging on the walls. No one would dare look at Mrs. Leigh with disapproval. The plastic surgeon’s wife, with her blond hair, blue eyes, and big breasts, is the epitome of L.A. beauty. I’m not. I have brown hair, brown eyes, and a flat chest. I pluck at my faded pink camisole, the garment clinging to my small breasts, and I continue my stroll.
The sheer silver curtains billow in the night breeze, the windows cracked open in an attempt to alleviate the stifling heat. I can’t afford to turn the air-conditioning on. My agreement with the Leighs is to pay for the upkeep and utilities while they jaunt around Europe, straightening noses and increasing bra sizes. In exchange, I get a free place to stay.
A trickle of perspiration runs down my bare nape, my constantly frizzy hair pulled up into a ponytail. The digital wall clock buzzes midnight, and I should return to the tiny bedroom I’ve been assigned. Instead, I wander to the back door, seeking lower temperatures.
I slip my feet into a pair of scuffed baby blue flip-flops and slide the door open, venturing into the darkness. The scent of newly cut grass teases my nostrils, the gardeners having mowed during the day while I was at work.
Work. I sigh, looking out at the covered pool, wishing to swim, that indulgence denied to me by the Leighs. Who gets fired from a charity? I suspect this will be my fate tomorrow, my inability to raise donation money straining even my boss’s easygoing personality.
I impulsively grab the towel I had left drying on the deck railing and meander across the modern-art-littered lawn toward the wrought-iron gate, unconsciously moving closer to the property I’ve sworn never to trespass onto again. The soothing sound of falling water calls to me.
I gaze between the ornately crafted bars separating me from nirvana, the gate locked. Water cascades down rock into a naturally shaped pool, the feature blending into the purposefully wild backyard.
Only the pool is lit. The two-story house, its design as classic as the Leighs’, is contemporary, and is shrouded, as always, in darkness. I’m not surprised. I’ve seen Gabriel Blaine, its elusive and surprisingly young owner, only once in the three weeks I’ve been house-sitting.
That once made an impact. I had been fiddling with the finicky front door lock when the billionaire exited from a long black limousine. He paused, turned his head toward me, and our gazes met, his eyes brilliant green and hard, so very hard. Even the lock of ink-black hair falling over his forehead failed to soften his sharp chin and pronounced cheekbones.
My keys dropped from my lifeless fingers to the concrete steps and I froze, unable to breathe. Blaine’s lips twitched and he inclined his head toward me as though I had confirmed something he’d long suspected. I, idiot that I am, nodded back, agreeing to what? I don’t know.
Whatever I had agreed upon seemed to satisfy Blaine. He moved like a predator toward his rarely used mansion, his stride smooth and almost graceful. He disappeared into his home, closing the door behind him, and I haven’t seen him since.
I won’t see him today either, and it would be a shame not to use his gorgeously cool swimming pool. Trespassing is against the law but I am too much my father’s daughter to allow little things like laws stop me. I toss my towel over the fence and climb over the wrought iron, thanking my misspent youth on the rough streets of Detroit for developing this handy skill.
I pick up the towel and I pad to the edge of the pool, my flip-flops bending the grass as I walk. I pause and look around me, having the peculiar feeling someone is watching me.