Jake Undone

By: Penelope Ward

To make matters worse, I looked over at my nightstand and my pulse quickened as I discovered evidence that Jake had been in my room while I was asleep. There, next to my tissue box was another black origami bat. I shook my head in disbelief and began to unfold it.

Did you know that you drool?

That’s so not cool.

Showing up is my number one rule.

Now, get up, fool. You’re late for school.

Mortified did not even begin to describe how I felt. Even though I would have rather stayed put at that point, I knew I needed to go out and face the music. I took a stick of gum from my purse to mask my sleep breath and quickly inspected myself in the mirror. I grabbed my math books and syllabus and headed down the hall.

When I got to Jake’s room, his door was cracked open, and I could see that he was sitting up in bed wearing headphones and writing on a laptop. He hadn’t noticed me, so I stood there for a minute taking him in.

His hair was flattened, like he had just taken a shower, and there was a loose piece hanging over his forehead. He had beautiful, shiny dark hair that looked jet-black when it was wet. He was wearing black cargo pants and a navy blue t-shirt that hugged his muscles and showed off his tattooed arms. The room smelled like cinnamon candle, musk and cigarettes, even though I had yet to see him smoking in the house. His long legs were stretched out to the end of the length of the bed. He was tapping his foot fast and nervously as he typed, bobbing his head to the beat of the music.

I clutched my textbook and was nervous just looking at him, while anticipating the grief he was going to give me for sleeping through our tutoring session.

I finally coughed to let him know I was standing at the doorway.

Jake looked up and slowly removed his headphones. “Well, well, well, look who finally decided to wake up.”

I stayed at the threshold. Waving the paper bat he made me, I said, “I am sorry, Jake, I really am. I set the alarm for am instead of pm.”

He closed his laptop and sat up into a sitting position at the edge of the bed. He wasn’t smiling. “You should be apologizing to yourself. You’re the one who’s gonna fail.”

Okay, hard-ass.

“Why didn’t you just wake me up?”

“I tried to nudge you, but you didn’t even move. I had to check your pulse to make sure you were still alive. Then, you farted, so I figured all was well.”

“I did not!” I laughed, but was dying inside.

“I’m kidding. Relax.”

Dear God, thank you.

“When is your first exam?”


He shook his head and sighed. “Tomorrow…” Rolling his eyes, he ran his hands through his hair in frustration.

“Yes. Professor Hernandez doesn’t waste any time.”

“Well, then, it’s a good thing you napped because I hope you’re ready to be up all night.”

Shit. He was serious about this. There was no joking around in his tone, making this situation all the more intimidating.

I looked down at my feet and then back up at him. “I am really sorry.”

Jake’s green eyes seared into mine for a few seconds. “I don’t bite, you know,” he said in a low voice.

“Excuse me?”

“Why are you still standing in the doorway, using your textbook as a shield?”

I laughed nervously as I entered the room. He was right. I was hesitating. But it wasn’t for the reason he probably thought.

I wished…he would bite…and that’s what scared me.

Control yourself, Nina.

“Should we study in here or in the living room?” I asked.

“That’s your decision. You’re the one that needs to focus,” he said.

“Okay. Here is fine. Tarah and Ryan will probably come home and want the living room.”

Bad choice. Being in his bedroom was by far the most distracting place.

“Let’s get started then.” Jake reached out his hand. “Show me the assignment.”

I handed him the book and syllabus, as he pulled up a wooden chair and sat down, kicking his legs up onto the foot of the bed. I sat on the ground with my legs crossed.

“You don’t have to sit on the floor. I sat here, so you could have the bed.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said as I got up and planted myself on his bed. The mattress was firm and it was like lying in a sea of his masculine scent. The black comforter was surprisingly soft, and I ran the tips of my fingers across it as I watched him look over my syllabus.

“Okay, this shit isn’t going to be easy for you,” he said.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. That is certainly an understatement.”

He looked up at me. “Let’s start with the linear programming problem.”

I scratched my head and leaned in. “Okay.”

“You have to create a problem like the one listed here, using the same model but your own variables, and then you need to solve it.” He grinned. “We can make this interesting if we want.”


“Yes. All it says is that it has to involve transportation.”

“Yes.” I nodded.

I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Okay, so the example in the book uses a lumber dealer transporting wood to warehouses.”


“So, you could use, for example…a pimp transporting whores across the country.”

“Excuse me?”

“We need to keep you awake, so let’s go with that. The problem is to find the most economical way to transport the prostitutes to various cities.”

I rubbed my temples and chuckled. “Oh my God. Okay.”

“First, you have to determine your variables. There are two variables, x and y. If x represents the number of whores to be driven from New York to L.A., then since L.A. needs 25 whores, the number of whores to be shipped from Philadelphia to L.A. is 25 minus x.

He looked up to see if I was paying attention and continued. “And if y represents the number of whores to be driven from New York to Las Vegas, then since Las Vegas needs 30 whores, the number of whores to be shipped from Philadelphia to Las Vegas is 30 minus y.”

He then built a cost table showing the transportation routes, number of whores and various costs of each route. Eventually, he came up with a formula and made me run through the entire problem until I understood it. Even though it took over an hour, I finally did get it. I was amazed at how capable I could be when interested enough to apply myself.

And I was definitely interested.

There was also a nutrition problem where the object was to design a low-cost recipe that provided required levels of proteins, calories and vitamin B12. We had to choose variables again and assign different costs. Jake substituted the samples used in the book for things that would make me laugh. In this case, the recipe was for Mrs. Ballsworthy’s “shit cake,” and the ingredients were chocolate, shit and whole-wheat flour. Again, he built a table to organize the data, and after another hour, I was finally able to run through the formula myself.

He was so animated and never seemed to tire when I couldn’t grasp what he was teaching. Instead, he would just find a new way of explaining the problem to me, like he enjoyed the challenge. His tables and graphs made things easy to understand, and after running through those two examples repeatedly, I was starting to think that maybe I could pass the exam tomorrow. If only I could just remember Jake’s methodology and apply it to whatever problem Professor Hernandez came up with.

By the end of the night, we were both sitting on the floor, stretched out with white papers everywhere. I was so tired, but I wasn’t ready for the study session to end.

I started to yawn. Jake bonked me on the forehead with a rolled up piece of paper. “What do you say…one more practice problem?”

I yawned again and nodded. “Sure, one more.”

“No falling asleep on me,” he said.

I wish I were falling asleep on you.

“Okay…let’s try this,” he said as he began writing out a new chart with different variables.

Sitting on the floor with my legs crossed next to him, I stared at his intense expression as he wrote in bold, hard strokes. He was so focused and was one of the smartest people I had ever met. His intelligence made him even sexier in my mind and made me feel even more inadequate. He was a badass.

My eyes were glued to the way his tongue moved back and forth over the bottom of his mouth as he concentrated, his tongue ring clanking against the metal of the ring on his lip. It was so erotic, and I was so out of line for thinking like that while he was trying to help me. As my gaze meandered down to his tattooed arms, I also concluded that his masculine scent mixed with cigarette smoke was just about the most arousing smell I had ever known.

His eyes suddenly darted to the side at me, as if he could feel me staring, and I looked away instinctively.

Even though I wasn’t facing toward him anymore, my mind still went to places I knew it shouldn’t, like what his tongue would feel like…on me. I knew the answer. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was overtired or merely the fact that I hadn’t been with a man in so long, but I was suddenly experiencing sensory overload when it came to him.

He stopped writing and looked toward me. “Okay…so two trains 150 miles apart travel toward each other along the same track…” He paused and waved his hand in front of my face. “Earth to Nina.”

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