Jake Understood

Page 16

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***

Demons by Imagine Dragons played on my iPod as the subway approached my stop back in Brooklyn. It was ironic because the lyrics described to a tee how I saw myself. I was hiding demons, sure, but if she looked closely enough at me, I felt like Nina should have been able to see that they were there. I often wondered why she never asked me what I did every weekend in Boston. It was as if she knew the answer was something she might not want to hear.

As I walked down Lincoln toward our apartment, I thought back to the same time one week ago and how excited I was then to be able to see Nina again. But after my rough weekend with Ivy and the epiphany I had, the approach home tonight was downright painful now that I’d made the decision to stay away from my roommate. The tutoring would have to be it, mainly because I didn’t know how to explain my way out of it.

To add to my miserable state, it started pouring rain. I just wanted to get home, shut my door, take off my wet clothes, maybe rub one off and have a cigarette.

Nothing about this night felt right. Even Mrs. Ballsworthy wasn’t at the window like she normally was at all hours. Being told to go “fuck myself” was something I’d come to rely on.

A weird feeling followed me all the way up the stairs to the apartment.

Even though Nina’s door was closed, longing developed at the pit of my stomach as I passed her room. Not even a minute home, and I was wishing I could see her. This was going to be one of the hardest weeks of my life.

When I turned the light on in my room, my heart nearly stopped.

I stood frozen in the doorway, unsure of how to handle the sight that greeted me. Nina lay sprawled across my bed, her golden hair covering my pillow. My sketchbooks were all over the bed.

What. The. Fuck.

This should have made me livid, but mainly, it just confused the hell out of me. The normal thing to do would have been to wake her up and ask her what the hell she was doing snooping through my things. Instead, I threw my backpack down and just stood there taking in the sight of her in my bed.

Nina was in my bed.

Her beautiful ass was facing me as she curled into my mattress. I moved closer to stand over her and just watched her breathing. She must have sensed me because her body stirred, and then she started to wake up. She jumped up so fast you would have thought I’d lit a firecracker under her ass.

“Jake…I can explain,” she said in a hoarse voice.

I was mad at her, not for being curious and snooping, though. I was mad because seeing her in my bed undid every fucking bit of resolve I’d built up on the ride home.

“What the fuck, Nina?”

A small stream of water from my wet hair dripped down my forehead. Everything was still except for the sound of the rain pelting my window. The ability to speak totally escaped me as she continued to look up at me in fear. She thought I was angry at her. If she only knew the thoughts that were floating through my sexually frustrated mind, how I wished I could take it out on her hard in a different way than she was probably imagining.

She started to speak. “Um…a few hours ago, I was alone in the house, and your door was open. I had thought I left the math workbook in here, so I came inside. I noticed these sketchbooks. I only meant to peek in at the top one, but when I saw how amazing the first drawing was…I just couldn’t stop looking.”

I swallowed hard, knowing that she’d been looking at drawings of Ivy, drawings of my father, even though she had no idea about the meaning behind them. I thanked my lucky stars that I’d nixed the idea of sketching her one night last week because she would have seen that, too.

A mental war continued to be waged inside my head as to whether I should kick her out or ask her to stay.

She continued, “I must have closed my eyes and fallen asleep.” Her voice was shaking. She reminded me of a shivering puppy. “I am really sorry. I should have never thought it was okay to look at your stuff. For the record, they are the most phenomenal drawings I have ever seen.”

My chest tightened at the compliment. Trying to buy more time to think, I started to stack the sketchpads on top of each other and returned them to their rightful place.

“Again, I’m sorry.”

She threw me off guard when she suddenly got up from the bed. I instinctively grabbed her wrist to stop her. “Where are you going?”

I guess I’d made my decision.

“Back to my room.”

I was no longer thinking with the right head when I pushed her down onto the bed slowly. “Just stay.”

“Stay? What do you mean?”

“I mean…you were comfortable here. Just stay.”

“You’re not mad at me?”

“I didn’t say that. You shouldn’t have been snooping.”

“I know. I’m really sorry.”

I’m really not.

My emotions were all over the place, and this situation was weakening me. As she relaxed into the bed again, that was all the encouragement I needed. All I wanted in the world was to feel her body next to mine, and I was going to let myself feel that tonight.

Just one night.

I knew I was lying to myself.

I hadn’t noticed whether our roommates were even home. I walked over to the door and shut it so that they didn’t spot her in here. Feeling protective of her, I didn’t want them to get the wrong idea.

Then, I shut off the light before removing my wet jacket and taking off my shirt. Even though my pants were a little damp, they stayed on because, well, stripping down to my underwear would have been pushing it.

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