Jake Undone

By: Penelope Ward

“So, what’s Tarah like?”

Ryan blushed. “She’s really cool.”

“She is not with Jake, by any chance, is she?” I asked, thinking about the rendezvous I overheard earlier.

“Hell no! Why would you ask that?” he snapped.

“I was just wondering.”

“Trust me, there is nothing going on between Tarah and Jake.”

“And that’s because…?”

Ryan’s face turned red again, and he gave me a look that answered my question.

“Tarah…and you?” I asked.

He smiled. “Yup.”


“Yeah, it’s new…six weeks now. Wait ‘til you meet her. She’s awesome.”

“Nice, Ryan. I am so happy for you. But what if it doesn’t work out? I mean, you’re living together. Wouldn’t that be weird?”

“Probably. But I can’t worry about that right now.”

“Well, I can’t wait to meet her.”

“I think you two will get along really well. She’s a hair colorist for a salon in the city. She’s working until close tonight, but she should be home around nine.”

I suddenly yawned, and then my stomach growled. “I am starving, but I haven’t had a chance to food shop.”

“No need. Let’s go downstairs to Eleni’s. My treat. Phenomenal Greek food.”

“I know. I smelled it on the way in here.”

As Ryan and I headed downstairs, I heard the same swearing from the apartment below us. The woman seemed to have a Jamaican accent.

“What is up with the lady on the second floor?” I asked.

“Oh, you just wait. That is just another benefit of living here, Troll. If I tell you, it will ruin it,” he said laughing.

“Okay, I am not even going to ask.”


After a fantastic dinner of Greek salad and chicken skewers, we returned to the apartment to have the baklava pastry the owner, Telly, gave us to welcome me to the neighborhood. After just one meal, I already knew I would need to limit my Eleni’s intake, or I was going to go broke and get fat.

I brewed a pot of coffee as Ryan got out the plates, and we reminisced about high school.

“So, Troll, no boyfriend at the moment?”

I sighed. “No. I was seeing someone at home for a few weeks, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Then, knowing I was about to move away, I decided to break it off. It wasn’t worth the effort.”

“Well, they can’t all be like Stuart, can they?”

Stuart was my first boyfriend in high school. He was sensitive and sweet and the constant butt of Jimmy and Ryan’s jokes.

“Ugh…did you have to bring him up? Poor Stuart. He was awesome, though.”

Ryan snickered. “He was a friggin’ girl. Stuart and his paper birds! What was it he used to do?”

I giggled recalling the memory. “Aw, Stuart was the sweetest thing. He knew the combination to my locker, and he would create these little ornate origami birds out of construction paper. Then, I would unfold them, and there would be these little poems that rhymed inside each one. It was romantic.”

Just then, footsteps crept up behind us, and a deep raspy voice that cut through me said, “That is…the STUPIDEST fucking thing I have ever heard.”

When I turned around, the immediate but unwanted reaction my insides felt at the sight of him told me I was in trouble.

Reality Show Scene Three, enter stage left: hot womanizing roommate.

Then, came the three words that would change my life. “Hi, I’m Jake.”


Jake stuck out his tattooed-covered arm prompting me to take his hand and flashing a smile that could only be described as devilish. “You must be Neenee,” he said.

I coughed nervously, and a weird sound came out of my mouth that I couldn’t quite identify. It might have been my body saying, Well lookey here, she isn’t dead from the waist down after all.

He was freaking beautiful.

“It’s Nina, actually,” I said shaking his calloused hand, noticing a silver thumb ring. The warmth of his skin in the brief contact didn’t escape me, nor did the fact that my hand lingered longer than it should have. It might have trembled.

“I know your name. I’m just fucking with you.” He flashed a wicked grin and winked. My body’s reaction to that made me question my own sanity.

He smelled like a mixture of cigarettes and cologne, which was oddly arousing. He had a brow ring and a bottom lip ring, and his incisors were very pointed and sharp. His eyes were green with gold speckles, brought out even further by his contrasting short dark hair.

Come to think of it, Jake was like a black cat – gorgeous, but very likely bad luck if it crossed your path.

“Nice to meet you, Jake.”

He leaned against the kitchen counter, crossing his arms and gave me a once-over that sent a shiver down my spine. “So, who is Stuart, why is he making you origami bird poems, and who cut off his balls?”

I laughed. “Stuart was my boyfriend freshman year of high school. Ryan decided to bring him up now for no good reason.”

“What brings you to Brooklyn?”

“I start nursing school on Monday. Long Island University.”

Jake scratched his chin, sarcastically pensive. “Isn’t that in Long Island?”

“No, there’s a Brooklyn campus. It’s actually not far from the apartment.”

Ryan interjected. “With your fear of subways, that’s a good thing.”

I shot Ryan a death glare.

Great. He was going to embarrass me in front of Jake.

“What’s this, now?” Jake asked, lifting his brow.

“Thanks, a lot, Ryan,” I said, seriously pissed.

He gave me an apologetic look. “Sorry. It just came out.”

“It’s nothing,” I said looking at Jake, waving my hand, hoping he’d drop the subject.

Jake continued to stare at me quizzically. “Are you seriously afraid of the subway or something?”

“She’s afraid of everything: planes, elevators, heights...” Ryan let out a frustrated sigh.

I widened my eyes at him again, then looked at Jake and shrugged my shoulders trying to downplay it. “I just get a little nervous in crowded, contained places. That’s all.”

Jake nodded slowly in understanding. “It’s like a phobia. So, places that make you feel trapped?”

“Yeah, basically,” I said.

Jake squinted at me and seemed to be examining my face for the truth. His expression darkened like he somehow saw through my trying to pass my phobias off as nothing. Our eyes locked, and I felt an inexplicable connection to him in that moment that went beyond just physical attraction.

He scratched his chin. “Hmn.”

Suddenly uncomfortable, I changed the subject immediately. “So where do you work?”

“I’m an electrical engineer for a company in the city. We design stadium lighting. And at night, I dance…at a male strip club.”

I couldn’t tell, but I was pretty sure the color must have drained from my face.



“Wow,” I said.

He looked over at Ryan. “You didn’t tell her she was living with Magic Fuckin’ Mike?”

Ryan just laughed, gauging my reaction.

Jake looked amused and bit his bottom lip, his teeth clicking against his lip ring. Then, he let out a guttural laugh. “I’m just fucking with you again.”

“You’re not a stripper?”

He laughed and shook his head. “I like you. You’re an easy target. It’s gonna be fun to have you around. By the way, I really am an engineer. My cubicle mate Raj gets pretty pissed when I try to take off my clothes and give him a lap dance, so I stopped stripping a long time ago,” he joked.

That’s a damn shame.

Jeez, where was this coming from?

I couldn’t believe how gullible I was sometimes, but then again, why wouldn’t I have believed him? With his overall stature and the way his black hoodie hugged his clearly defined chest, his body could certainly pass for that of a stripper. Plus, I didn’t know him from Adam. What I did know was that Jake was a ball-buster and did not appear to be the type of guy I should be attracted to. Or at least, that was my first impression of him.

I looked down again at the various colored tattoos on his right forearm. On his left, there was just a lone dragon. I wondered what else was underneath his clothing.

He walked over to the other side of the kitchen, picked up a banana out of a pile of about twenty, peeled it and ate the entire first half in one bite whilst looking right at me, grinning.

Ryan laughed. “I forgot to mention, that’s Jake’s bushel of bananas over there. We think he is part human, part monkey.”

I looked at Jake. “You like bananas, huh?”

Still chewing, Jake said, “Damn straight, I do. I fuckin’ love ‘em. Mmm.” He took the other half of the banana and stuffed the whole thing into his mouth, gesturing to me with the peel, his mouth full. “Wa-wan?”


“Want one?” he said more clearly.

I held my hand out. “No, thanks. I’m good.”

Still chewing, he continued looking at me, and my heart fluttered.

Ryan broke the uncomfortable silence. “I told you Jake was interesting.”

I watched as Jake slowly licked his lips after finishing the banana. He is interesting alright.

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