Jake Undone

By: Penelope Ward

“I guess. But seriously, you don’t have to.”

“I don’t have to. You’re right. I want to. I wouldn’t have offered otherwise. I told you, math is easy for me. The hard part is gonna be getting you motivated.”


“Yeah. See, people are capable of amazing things when they’re motivated.”

“Isn’t not getting kicked out of nursing school motivation enough?”

He smirked and shook his head in disagreement. “No, it’s not. I can tell that’s not enough for you. You need something that will really make you want to pass, like your life depends on it.

I rubbed my temples. “I am not following you.”

“I’ll explain then. Okay, so…I’m gonna tutor you, right? If you get an A on every exam, fanfuckingtastic! I’m doing my job because you should be getting an A on every exam. If you get lower than an A, then there should be consequences.”


He nodded slowly with a mischievous grin. “Consequences.”


“Like…when I first met you, you said you were afraid of a lot of things. And from the look on your face, I could tell it was more than just a slight fear. You need to get over that, Nina.”

I shuddered at the seriousness of his tone and the fact that for the first time, he said my name.

“I am not following you,” I said.

“Let me explain. I tutor you. But for every exam grade lower than an A, you will have to face one of your fears.”

I felt a rush of panic creeping in, and my heart started to pound. Without saying anything for several seconds, I just stared at him before asking, “Can you be more specific?”

“Don’t get all freaked out on me. I’ll be there with you. We’ll do something that scares you, that you’ve been avoiding, but you won’t know what it is until we get there. It’s better that way, so that you are not building up anxiety anticipating it. We’ll expose you to it, until it doesn’t scare you anymore. See, from what I can tell from your body language, I am making you really fucking nervous right now. And that’s a good thing, because it means you are going to work your ass off to ace those tests. But either way, you win. You just might not see it that way.”

He had to be kidding me. I barely knew this guy, but he could read me like a book.

“What if I don’t want to participate in this bet?”

Jake got up and threw the bottle in the recycle bin. “Then, you’re on your own, chica.”

I felt like throwing up, not because I was about to fail math but because I knew I was about to agree to his terms. It scared the living hell out of me, but at the same time, I felt a bittersweet excitement like never before.

He stuck out his hand. “Deal?”

I hesitated then shook his hand as he squeezed mine tightly. “Deal.”

Gosh, if my body reacted like this to just the touch of his hand, I couldn’t imagine what it would do if he were to—

“You want to start tomorrow night?” he asked.


“Give me your phone,” he said.

I looked at him strangely.

“Give me your phone,” he demanded again.

I didn’t ask why and just handed it to him. To be honest, with the way I have been reacting to this guy, I probably would have done anything he asked me to at this point.

“Stay here,” he said.

He walked away down the hall to his room with it, and that made me extremely nervous. I didn’t want him looking at my browsing history or text messages, even though there was really nothing incriminating.

I shouted. “What are you doing with my phone?”

“Don’t worry about it,” I heard him yell from his room.

“Can I have it back please?” Why was I listening to him and staying here in the kitchen like an idiot?

A few minutes later, he came back down the hall and handed it back to me. “I programmed my number in. So, if for some reason, you have to reach me for anything, you have it. I’ll also call you if I am running late from work tomorrow night before we study.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“Don’t be scared. You’re gonna do fine.”

I nodded silently, wondering how I got myself into this.

Jake grabbed a banana, then his jacket and laptop from the couch. “I have to get back to work. I just came home because I forgot my laptop. I’ll catch you later.”

“Okay. Catch you later. Oh, wait…Jake?”

He turned around. “What’s up?”

“I never thanked you for my bat.”

He said nothing, just smiled, winked and stuck out his tongue in jest. For the first time, I noticed it was pierced too.


When the door slammed shut, I closed my eyes and sighed.

Oh yeah, I was in deep doo doo…in more ways than one.

From the street, I could hear Jake in the distance. “Fuck you too, Mrs. Ballsworthy!”

I covered my mouth in laughter. My new home was a bizarre place, but there was nowhere else I wanted to be at that moment.

Then, I looked down at my phone and noticed he had changed the wallpaper on the screen. It was one of those “Keep Calm and Carry On” sayings that pretty much summed up my day, in honor of my encounter with our lovely neighbor:

Keep Calm and Go Fuck Yourself.


Tuesday was my day off from classes, and I spent the day doing laundry and nervously anticipating my tutoring session with Jake that night. I was 22-years old, but the level of obsession I was experiencing made me feel like I was sixteen.

I still could not believe I had agreed to the terms of his bet. Truthfully, I knew I wasn’t going to get A’s on my tests no matter how hard I studied, so I could pretty much start mentally preparing myself for the worst. Even though what Jake proposed terrified me, I really didn’t ever consider telling him no.

He was like no other guy I had ever known. It wasn’t just that he looked different (in a very good way). He had a self-assurance and commanding way about him that was hard to resist, but that oddly, also made me feel safe.

Growing up in my small town, the guys I had met from the time I was a teenager up until I moved here were cookie cutter. I had yet to meet someone like Jake: dark and dangerous on the outside but smart and clever on the inside; someone who owned a room the second he stepped into it.

My last serious boyfriend, Spencer, could not have been more different from Jake. He was a clean-cut, church-going kind of guy, who my parents and everyone else just loved. He was a few years older and sold insurance for a living, but looking back, if you ask me, the only thing he was ever really good at selling was a false impression of himself. What my family didn’t realize was that behind that squeaky-clean exterior, was a man that constantly tried to berate me with critiques and put-downs. And ultimately, he cheated on me. I felt like I wasted three years and got nothing out of it, except a certificate of completion in Asshole 101. He was the only guy I ever slept with. What a waste.

I shook my head to rid my mind from thoughts of Spencer as I continued to fold shirts in the basement laundry room. Then, my cell phone rang, and I saw it was my father.

“Hey, Dad.”

“Hi, sweetie. I am just checking in. How are things going at the new place?”

I can’t stop obsessing over my roommate.

“Pretty good so far.”

“How’s Ryan?”


“He’s great. Turns out he’s actually dating my other roommate, Tarah.”

“Really? Good for him. Nice girl?” he asked.

“Yes, very.”

“Well, you know Ryan is like family to us. So, I couldn’t be happier that he is there to look out for you.”

Actually, Ryan’s head is so far up Tarah’s ass, I am lucky if he even realizes I still live here.

“Me too,” I said.

My father sighed. “What about the other roommate? A guy, right?”

Yes, a really hot guy, with tattoos and piercings on his face…and tongue…and God knows where else…and I sometimes want to lick him.

“Jake…his name is Jake. Good guy, kind of quiet…an engineer.”

“Ah, good, he must be nice and nerdy. I won’t have to worry.” He laughed.

Dad, you should be so worried.

“That’s exactly right. He is a bit of a nerd.”

“How are classes so far?”

I am going to fail math.

“So far so good. Math is going to be a challenge.”

“Well, I have confidence in you, honey. You made this big move to the city, and I know you won’t let yourself fail.”

I just wish I had confidence in myself.

“Thanks, Dad. I better get back to folding laundry. Tell Mom I love her.”

“Ok, sweetie. Love you. Bye bye.”


It was 4:30 in the afternoon, and since I had been up tossing and turning the previous night, I decided to try to take a nap since Jake wouldn’t be home until after six o’clock.

I had set my alarm—or so I thought—for 5:30. So, you could imagine my surprise when I woke up and saw that it was 7:45. My heart was pounding, and I was beyond agitated when I realized I had overslept.

I got up and scratched my head, lifting the alarm clock and noticing that, while yes, I had set the alarm for 5:30, it was for am not pm, which did me absolutely no good.


I rubbed my eyes and matted my hair down, unsure of what I would be met with when I emerged from the bedroom.

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