Maybe he wanted her to see him? Maybe he knew she was watching him? How could he not know? He liked it. He got off on it as much as she did.
She started watching him shortly after she met him. Not stalking him, she’s not weird or anything. But he’s living in the flat above the garage opposite the café and she can see so much. And he never seems to draw his curtains. Not fully anyway. He doesn’t eat badly for a man living alone: some ready meals, but just as much fresh veg and fish (she’s ‘bumped’ into him in the supermarket). He likes beans on toast (he eats it on his lap on his leather sofa in front of the TV), a few takeaways – fish and chips occasionally, a curry most Fridays. Despite this, he’s still quite thin, but he does a lot of running.
She doesn’t watch him all the time. She’s not weird. She’s not obsessed or anything.
When he is at home, he often wears just a t-shirt and his boxer shorts. He scratches his balls absently while he watches TV. This morning, before opening the café, she crept upstairs and hid behind the curtain of her store room, filled with broken chairs, tables and old china cups and saucers. She could see him pulling on his jeans through the crack in his curtains.
She wishes she could see into his bathroom, as she’s sure he must have just had a shower. She can’t see the kitchen, either, that must be at the back of his flat. It doesn’t matter. He never eats in there, he always eats on his lap in the living room. His kitchen is probably not big enough for a table. Some days, she feels she’s been watching him a little too often. But he’s so friendly, so…demonstrative. She’s sure he’s feeling the same as her, she’s certain of it. He comes into the café most days and he’s always chatting to her, asking about her life.
She does feel bad that she’s started watching him. She didn’t mean to do it, it happened by accident. She was putting a broken chair into the storage room upstairs and happened to glance out of the window at his garage opposite. And there he was, in the first-floor window, pouring himself a beer and sitting back into his sofa. Without his top on. Her heart had nearly jumped out of her chest. The first time, she stayed looking at him a little longer than she should have done, hidden behind her curtain, peeking as her chest threatened to burst open with excitement. But that was only the start. Once she’d started, she didn’t know how to stop. She began working that bit later, so she could see him up there after he’d closed the garage. Then she started going in early, to see what she could see of his morning routine.
Maybe he wanted her to see him? Maybe he knew she was watching him? How could he not know? He liked it. He liked that she watched him. He got off on it as much as she did. As soon as Louise had let this reasoning in, she’d opened the floodgates. Whenever the guilt or doubt crept in, she’d remind herself that this was his flirtation as much as hers. Why would he be so interested in her otherwise, why would they feel so connected?
Excerpt, Beat The Rain
Beat The Rain was the Bestselling JHP Fiction title of 2016 and a semifinalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 for Best Debut Author.
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