Title: WATCH ME
Genre: Thriller/Psychological Suspense/Women’s Fiction
Author: Jody Gehrman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Find out more on Amazon
A gripping psychological thriller about one college student’s dark obsession with his professor, Watch Me plunges readers into a tense, twisty, and terrifying tale about how far obsession can go…
Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood college, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.
Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.
As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?
In this gripping novel that explores intense obsession and illicit attraction, Jody Gehrman introduces a world where what one desires most may be the most dangerous thing of all.
You’re in the foyer now, closing the door. Any moment you’ll turn and see me. My heart pounds against my ribcage like a crazed dog throwing itself against a fence. I dash up the stairs, willing my boots to stay silent. If you could see me now, you’d be impressed. I’ve got stealth. My criminal instincts are honed. The good girl in you can’t help but be turned on by that. Maybe if you catch me, you’ll ﬁnd it sexy.
But no. Not going to happen.
You can’t see me.
I have to disappear.
Everything’s riding on this. My pulse races.
Without thinking, I run into the ﬁrst room at the top of the stairs: the bathroom. Your smell is heavy in here, a tropical storm of Kateness. I creep inside the tub and, careful not to make a sound, pull the shower curtain closed.
I hear you walking up the stairs. You’re humming. It sounds like “Wild Night” by Van Morrison—one of my favorite songs. That has to mean something.
There’s a preoccupied cadence to your footsteps. I picture you ﬂipping through mail, your brow furrowed in that tiny apostrophe of concentration. You probably have your reading glasses perched on the end of your nose. I ache for you. I peak around the curtain just enough to catch a glimpse of your slender bare feet reaching the top of the staircase and making a left toward your bedroom. I hold my breath, letting the curtain fall back into place. Why didn’t I slip out when I had the chance? If you ﬁnd me here, everything’s fucked.
I let my cockiness get out of hand.
From now on, I resolve to be more careful.
You’re in the bedroom, still humming. Deﬁnitely “Wild Night.” I close my eyes and lean my head against the cool, white tile. My heart continues to race. My breathing’s ragged. I can hear you searching through drawers. You must be looking for your yoga pants, your wife-beater. Your humming turns to singing in the bedroom. There’s the sound of coat hangers clicking against one another. Your voice is husky and rich.
Out of nowhere, a ripple of calm washes over me. This is how it will be when we live together. You’ll be in the next room singing while you change clothes. I’ll step out of the shower, wipe steam from the mirror. I’ll walk into the bedroom, a towel wrapped around my waist. You’ll glance over your shoulder at me, your face lighting up as you pull your tank over your head. I’ll sit on the bed and rub my damp hair, caught between the need to touch you and the simple pleasure of watching you from across the room.
You drop something—your phone? The sound jolts me back to the moment. I need to go right now, while you’re still in the bedroom.
I can’t, though. With your scent in the air, your off-key song in my ears, there’s too much anchoring me to the spot. We’re so close right now. I’m in your world, and even though I haven’t been invited, your nearness ﬁlls me like a drug.
Oh, god. You’re in the bathroom. You turn on the faucet at the sink. This is torture. You’re so close.
I listen to you brushing your teeth. Smell the minty freshness of your toothpaste. You gargle. Spit.
My breath catches in my throat as you fall silent. What are you doing now? You’re motionless. Are you eyeing the shower curtain? Maybe it’s not as opaque as I thought. You can see my silhouette. You’re standing there, still as a tree, holding your breath, staring at my outline in the pearly white curtain. Any second now you’ll yank open the plastic and—
Oh, god, I can’t stand it, I’m going to—
Wait. You’re leaving.
I exhale in dizzy relief as your bare feet patter back into the hallway and down the stairs.
When I hear NPR come to life in the kitchen, I decide it’s now or never. The stairs end in the downstairs hallway opposite the kitchen, so it’s risky. I have to chance it. Let’s pray you’re in the pantry or at the stove, your back to me. I lift ﬁrst one foot, then the other, out of the tub, moving like a mime. Every step requires extreme control. My system’s still ﬂooded with adrenaline; my muscles ache to take the stairs at a dead run. In spite of the radio, the oak planks will make way too much noise if I hurry.
There’s a window at the landing. I catch sight of your neighbor’s children in the side yard—two little girls. They’re playing a game involving plastic guns. Like marionettes controlled by the same hand, their tiny blond heads swivel toward me. We stare at one another through the glass for a long moment.
I need to get out of here.
There’s a bad moment at the bottom of the stairs. You’re not in the pantry. Not at the stove. You’re at the sink. All it would take for you to catch sight of me is a quick sideways glance.
Again, the crazy injustice of our situation hits me. I know you better than anyone, Kate, yet I’m forced to run away like a thief. I hurry toward the front door.
Just as I’m closing it behind me, lunging for the porch steps, I hear you say, “Hello? Is someone there?”
As I slip away, head bowed, hoodie pulled up, one of the little girls next door cries, “Bang-bang! You’re dead!”
I offer her a weak smile and stride toward my car.