Duskwood: Return to the Forest: Nym0s PI
A Duskwood Fanfiction POST Rescue W/ JAKE
You stand near the entrance of the Aurora Bar, waiting for the arrival of your friends. It’s been several months since the group managed to free Hannah and save Richy, from the man without a face. You shiver and run your hands over your arms to stay warm. Jake had been missing for the duration of the time between now, and then, so you were shocked when he asked you all to meet with him. You’d worn your best outfit, something you kept locked away for special trips out with friends, and rarely worn. An off-the-shoulder, bodycon dress, that gripped tightly to your every curve, in a dark midnight blue, with a flowing offset sleeve on one side. The hem of the skirt clung several inches above each knee, sliding around on your thighs. Your heels pushed your height to new levels, and your hair fell over your shoulders. You’d been preparing for this day for the past six months.
“Wow.” A voice startles you out of your thoughts as you use the darkened glass to rearrange your hair and check your makeup.
Wheeling around, you see Richy standing there, his mouth hanging open, arms linked with Jessy.
“Wow indeed.” Jessy agrees.
“Oh, stop it.” Your face goes hot as you roll your eyes, “Where is everyone?”
“They’ll be here,” Richy checks the time on his wristwatch, “Any second now…”
“Holy…” You hear another voice, but this time, it comes from within the bar.
You spin back to face it, and Phil stands with a bar towel in his idle hands, “You look absolutely…”
Your face is red, and you are so embarrassed you want to run away, but you know better than to give in to his advances. The slightest show of weakness, and he’ll pounce. You opt to thank him, brushing your hair behind your ears and avoiding his gaze.
“Should we go inside?” You avoid any more unnecessary compliments and push past Phil as he holds the door for you.
You find your way to a long table near the back of the bar, reserved for your group. You settle in, and order drinks for those who have joined you already. You wait patiently, staring towards the door at intervals, trying not to let your nerves get the best of you.
You think back to that day, by the river’s edge, when you last saw Jake. You were hopeful that he’d return to you but instead, he vanished into thin air. He wouldn’t return your calls and your inbox remained empty; despite the daily messages you sent. You swirled your drink with your straw as you sipped gingerly, your thoughts elsewhere.
The music was loud, drowning out the conversations of others. Jessy and Richy decided to play a round of pool, leaving you at the table alone. Slowly, but surely, they arrived, mostly in pairs. You found yourself laughing and drinking for a time before your thoughts returned to the reason you were here in the first place.
A panting, sweating Lilly sinks into the chair next to you, downing a beverage, “Where’s Jake?” She asks quietly.
“I was just about to ask you the same thing.” You try to remain calm, but you can’t help but wonder why he hasn’t arrived yet. Was he even coming?
“He’ll be here.” She pats your shoulder and returns to dancing the night away with the others.
You find yourself staring out of the tinted glass windows, into the darkness beyond. You long to see him. You want to face him, ask him where he went and how he’s been. For a time, you were angry, scared, and worried, but eventually that all gave way to something more. You loved him desperately, but you were concerned for his safety. Assuming he’d disappeared for good reason, you resorted to lying in wait, praying to whatever god might exist, that he was safe and happy, even if you were not.
You bring your glass to your lips and drain it, letting your eyes fall shut and your mind go blank. When you open your eyes, you nearly jump out of your skin. Just outside the window stands a tall, lanky man, in a black hoodie, ripped-up jeans, and high-top sneakers. Your mind races. Is that Jake?
You move to stand, nearly knocking over several chairs as you race towards the exit, ignoring the shouts from your friends. You vaguely hear Jessy murmur Jake’s name, and the calls stop. You push the door open and the cold night air whips past you, throwing your hair into your lips.
“Jake?” You call quietly, hoping not to startle him or worse, embarrass yourself if it’s not him at all.
He spins around at the sound of your voice, startled, “You…” He stands stock-still as his eyes run over your body, “You came.” A small smile graces his lips as he makes his way toward you, shaking himself from his thoughts, “And you look incredible.”
He reaches his hands out to you, but stops, letting them fall away just they reach your hips. He sighs taking a few steps back. You frown, wondering why he is hesitating.
“Is… Did I do something wrong?” You ask quietly.
“No! It’s just… we haven’t spoken in so long. I was afraid maybe,” He stops and chews his lip, “I thought you might have moved on.”
Your heart pounds in your chest as you think about the implications of his words. Emotions flow through you, one at a time. Anger, fear, sadness, and regret. Had you not made it clear enough that you would wait for him? Why would he even suggest that you would be able to “move on”?
“Jake…” Your heels clack against the pavement as you approach him slowly, “You know I could never, would never, just forget about you. Move on? Is that supposed to be a joke? Did you not see the messages I sent?”
His eyes catch your heels as they enter his view, slowly lifting his head, admiring every inch of you, committing it to memory, “I just want you to be happy. If that means without me, I’m ready to….”
You place your finger over his lips, “Stop.”
His hand jolts up, snatching you by the wrist, “You mean…”
You nod, biting your lip. “I’m single and ready to… well not mingle.” You laugh at your joke.
He pulls you into his chest and wraps his long arms around you. You stumble on your heels, a little tipsy from nursing beverages. “I love you.” He whispers against the top of your head.
“Jake.” You want to respond, but he doesn’t give you time.
His lips crash into yours, his arms suffocate you. You don’t struggle; however, you feel warmth, comfort, and stability in his touch. After a few moments, you realize that someone within the bar might be watching and break away from his kiss.
“We should go inside. The others have been waiting for you.” You offer him your hand and he takes it, following you inside.
He helps you maneuver between the tight tables, steadying you. You sit down and he sits next to you. It doesn’t take long for the others to notice his arrival, including Phil, who brings him a drink. After the basic catching up and follow-up questions, Jake launches into the reason he’s asked you all there.
“Alan helped me clear my record, and he’s done a bit more than that.” He smiles warmly at you, his hand on your thigh beneath the table, “I have my private investigation certification!”
There’s a brief silence before Lilly pipes up, “Does that mean you’ll be opening your own agency then?”
Jake nods once, turning to face you, “I was hoping WE could open it together?” He waits nervously for your reply.
“Jake, I don’t know what to say.”
“Richy claps you on the shoulder, “You say yes of course!” He smiles brightly at you, reaching for his glass, “To Jake and new beginnings!”
“To Jake!” The table responds by draining their glasses.
“I guess now that’s out of the way, we can celebrate!” Hannah says as she waves Phil over to the table, “Next rounds on me!”
You smile warmly at your friends as they offer up their wallets round after round. At some point, you make your way to the dance floor, and the crowd begins to thin. It’s still early, but only the real warriors remain. Jake, cheeks flushed and more talkative than usual, makes his way towards you.
He moves between you and Jessy as the music slows, “Can I steal her for a moment?” He asks her gently.
“Sure, Jake and congrats again!” She brushes past you with a subtle wink.
Jake offers up his hand, “May I?” You take it, letting him pull you into a warm embrace.
You wrap your arms around his neck and sway easily to the music. His eyes bore holes as he presses himself against you. Your dress slides up as fabric connects, and you feel his arms drop past your hips. He tugs on the fabric slightly.
“Thanks.” Mumble as you lean your head against his chest.
“No need to thank me. I was being selfish, not wanting to share and all.”
You smile as you nuzzle into his neck. He kisses the top of your head softly, tightening his grip around your waist. The music seems to slow as the world around you melts away. As if it’s only the two of you, Jake pulls back ever so slightly, and you feel one of his hands leave your hip. It travels slowly up your side until it makes its way to your face, tilting your chin upward.
“Jake?” You say his name without thought.
“God, I love it when you call my name.” His eyes sparkle, but there is a hint of darkness in their depths, “I’ve been meaning to do this all night. Properly anyhow.”
He holds your face in place as he slowly brings his lips to yours. Methodically, he moves them against yours in a soft, yet strangely sensual manner. Your heart beats wildly, before settling in your chest. Your knees threaten to betray you, weakening with every brush of his lips. You part your mouth encouraging him to drink you in. He tastes of lime with a hint of salt, an indication that he’s been enjoying shots while you’ve been dancing the night away. His hands are soft, and he smells like heaven, something you’d never thought to associate with Jake. His status as a criminal and outlaw often meant he didn’t take care of himself. The signs were there. He’d been preparing for this moment for some time, bettering himself and his environment. Was it for all for you?
After what feels like an eternity, the song changes, and the beating of the bass resumes. Instead of leaving you to your devices, Jake playfully twirls you away from him, spinning you back into his arms. Jessy joins you, encouraging you to down drink after drink until you find yourself removing your heels, and tossing them into your bag. Your feet are dirty, you reek of booze, but you’ve never had more fun in Duskwood. A time later, Phil flips off the open sign and approaches your table.
“Don’t run off just yet!” He gives you a knowing look, “I had to work! I want to have a drink with you before we depart, and I have something for our little hacker friend here.”
“Me?” Jake points both thumbs at himself, “I mean, you left my girlfriend alone for six months. If you’ve got something else to add it’s just a bonus.” He winks at you and the table erupts in giggles.
“Feisty when he’s drunk isn’t he?” Dan claps him on the shoulder encouragingly, “I think I like this version of Hackerman.”
“Don’t encourage him, Dan.” Cleo rolls her eyes.
“I appreciate your thanks, but that’s not it.” He reaches inside his pocket and retrieves a pair of keys, “Let’s just say, thanks to you, the horror show ended, and the bar is doing better than ever. I was able to invest in a property, and it’s all yours.” He tosses the keys at Jake who deftly catches them.
“What?” He stares down at the keys in silence.
“I heard a rumor that you might be returning. I know you’ve been living out of hotels for eons so,” He pauses and looks around at the table, “We found the perfect spot. The ground floor is an office space, and the top is a flat!”
“Phil I couldn’t possibly afford…” Jake starts.
“That’s where we come in.” Richy takes over, “I managed to find a vehicle in the junkyard, well several really, and throw together something for you. Should it ever need repairs or maintenance, it’s on the house. You saved my life. It was the least I could do.” He smiles broadly, retrieving another set of keys.
“And as far as the rent goes,” Lilly pulls Hannah into a hug, “Your sisters got you covered.”
“We didn’t feel right about what happened, to your mom, and how our father treated you. We agreed to keep his secret, but only for a price.” She winks at Jake.
“Meaning?” Jake asks quietly.
“Meaning your rent for both buildings has been paid for the year.” Phil skips back to the bar and grabs something, bringing it back to the table. He slides a piece of paper toward Jake. “All you have to do is sign here.” He taps a line near the bottom.
“Oh, and don’t worry about food or furniture.” Cleo leans in, “Dan helped us move it all in since he’s feeling better now.” She punches his shoulder.
“Cleo and her mom’s church group funded the pantry and fridge, as well as the furniture.” Dan shoves her back playfully.
Jake’s face was forged between shock and awe. “I don’t know what to say.”
Thomas, who had been quiet until now, spoke up, “You tell me what equipment you need to open that agency. The last step is getting the office set up. Your wonderful girlfriend sold everything she owned, cashed out her savings and stocks, and moved here, to wait for your ass. I’ve been investing and adding what I could as well. Let’s just say, even without my contributions, she’s already done enough.”
“How did you know I’d be coming back?” Jake asks quietly.
“To be honest, most of us didn’t know anything. Phil must have had an inside lead he kept to himself.” You eye Phil suspiciously, “We just figured that if you came back, you’d need to start over, and we wanted to repay you by helping.”
“You just wagered I’d return and planned all this?” Jake arches an eyebrow at you.
“Something like that.” You wink as you link the keys together and hand them back to him. “Please, accept these.”
Jake takes the keys from you with his hands shaking slightly, “I just….” His eyes are misty, even in the darkness, you can see he is overwhelmed.
“You don’t have to say anything now.” You rub his back, “It’s something we wanted to do, and what better time to do it than now! We’re just happy we thought this far ahead.”
“Sorry that this sort of killed the hype mood and everything, but I figured you’d want to check the place out.” Phil takes a pen from his breast pocket and clicks it, “Just sign this sucker, and she’ll take you there.” He leaves the pen on the table and turns to leave.
“Hey, Phil.” Jake calls after him, “Thanks, man.” He smiles warmly.
“No problem, brother!”
After a few more drinks with Phil, Jake leans over and whispers in your ear, “I think it’s time to head out.”
You say your goodbyes, leaving the Aroura. You take his hand and lead him through the streets barefoot. You hiccup slightly, tipsy.
“I hope there are snacks.” You think about the pantry and its contents. “I was not in charge of the food, but I trust Cleo on that.” You swing his arm as you walk.
“Please be careful. I wish you’d wear shoes. You could cut your feet.” Jake’s tone shifts to worried as he realizes you’re now six inches shorter.
“If you’re so worried; carry me!” You twirl behind him and jump on his back.
With little effort, he hoists you up, and you wrap your legs around his waist. He catches you as you wrap your arms around his neck and tap your hands against his chest.
He smiles over his shoulder at you, shaking his head, “Are you always like this when you drink?” He stumbles under your weight a little as he tried to reorient himself.
“Are YOU always like this when you’re drunk?” You mock him.
You both laugh loudly. As you round the corner and face the building just off the main street, Jake lowers you to the ground, his eyes wide.
“This is it?” He stands in awe.
An old, rustic brick building, with brass doors and a large bay window, stands before you. Fragrant flowers in large terra cotta pots sit on either side of the doors, and long beds of flowers beneath the windows. An antique bell rings as he puts the keys into the door and slides it open. He looks up, admiring the gold and black accent that it hangs from.
A large reception desk welcomes you inside. A gold nameplate states your name in bold, black letters. A door tucked away to the left of the desk leads to a narrow hallway. Inside, a small washroom, and near the back, another door leads to the alley. Just beyond, the van Richy spent months working on. On the right of the reception desk, another door leads into a conference room. Boxed off near the back corner, an office, Jake’s name stamped on the frosted glass.
“Have you thought of a name yet?” You ask Jake.
“I haven’t. I was hoping you’d think of something.”
You smirk up at him, grabbing his hand, “Follow me!”
You drag him along into the office, a large wooden desk in the middle, bookcases piled high with books line the walls. Large, comfortable-looking black and gold accented armchairs sit in the corners, waiting for your first customers. You push him down into one of the chairs and round the desk.
“What are you hiding?” Jake cocks a half-smile at you.
Covering the entirety of the desktop, a square item lay covered in black fabric. You hold your breath as you unveil it, waiting for Jake to respond. Beneath the cloth lay a large, black-backed sign, with golden trim, with the words “Nym-os P-EYE” Etched on its surface. O in Nym-os, a bright red eye, resembling the icon of the application Jake used to protect you. Beneath the large letters, in smaller cursive: “Solving problems, one secret at a time.”
Jake moves to stand next to you, running his hand over the plate. You hold your breath in anticipation.
He says nothing, so finally, you speak up. “Is it too much?”
His head jerks to the side, “It’s perfect. I’m just… Overwhelmed.”
“Good or bad overwhelmed.” You wait for his answer.
“Good.” He smiles over at you.
“We can make changes to its design. Whatever you want.”
“I think I’d like to go upstairs now.” You catch a glimpse of something in his eyes, but he looks away quickly. “How do we get there?”
You giggle, and lead him out of the office, shutting off the lights as you go. You round the reception desk and make your way to the narrow hall, locking the doors behind you. You find yourself in the alley, staring at the surveillance van.
“We can look at that when the sun comes up,” Jake says quietly.
“You’re tired. I’m sorry.” You apologize and lead him towards a set of stairs going up on the back of the building.
“It’s not that.” He bites his lip, avoiding your gaze.
You’re a bit confused, but whatever he needs, you’re prepared to provide. You make your way up the old, iron stairs, recently painted in black. They sway slightly as you grip the railing, suddenly very happy you aren’t still wearing your heels.
You hold your hand out, and Jake gingerly places the keys inside. You fumble in the darkness for a moment, before gaining entry to the second-floor flat. You swing the door open and click on the lights. The entryway greets you, with tall ceilings and an open floor plan. Blue-grey wood floors, heated and warm, welcome you inside. An industrialized modern kitchen is your first stop, beyond which is an open living space, with a large, blue-grey stone fireplace. A fluffy rug and white and grey loveseat fill the space, with an iron industrial coffee table and two end chairs at each side. Jake runs his hands over the grey marble countertops, and the backs of the breakfast bar chairs, as he makes his way to the living area.
You set your bag down on the coffee table and throw your hands up, spinning in a quick circle. “Isn’t it wonderful?” You smile at him.
“It’s…” He seems to be at a loss.
A faint sound comes from the back of the house, jolting you out of your thoughts. For a moment, your brain screams intruder, but then you remember the biggest surprise of all. You pretend to have heard nothing, showing him the guest bathroom before moving on to the bedroom. You hover your hand over the doorknob.
“Jake, uhm. Can I ask you something?”
Jake nods, “Anything.”
“Did you have to give Nymos up for adoption?”
Jakes’s face falls and he looks at his feet, “I didn’t have any business owning a cat, being virtually homeless and all.”
You smile as you turn the knob to the bedroom and something white and fluffy rushes past your feet, launching itself into Jakes’ arms. You lean into the frame of the door and watch as Jake bursts into tears, his resolve crumbling completely.
“Nymos! Is that… Is that you?!” His voice goes from deep, to shrill as he begins to cradle the kitten, “Awe, who’s my baby fluffy butt! Have you missed daddy? I’m sorry bud! I had to take care of some things.”
You can’t help but laugh. “Welcome home, Jake.” You gesture at the large, king-size bed, its antique wrought iron frame painted black and beautiful matching dresser. A large, cat tower stands next to a pair of black-framed glass doors. Off to the side, is a master bath with a large marble shower, antique clawfoot tub, and couples’ sinks. Jake takes in the sights, never letting Nymos out of his grasp, that is until he starts to get bored and nips his hands. He gently sets him down on the bed, in a spot that’s been marked by his fur.
“What’s out there?” He points to the double doors.
“Want to see?” You grab his hand and drag him to the doors, unlocking them.
Just beyond is a small porch, overlooking the fountain in the center of the city. Ivy hangs from the timber; painted black to match the esthetic. Black wicker furniture sits against the brick wall, a small fire pit in its center. Clinging to one side, a rickety, but stable fire escape leads upward.
He points to the fire escape, “That doesn’t look very safe.”
“Don’t tell me you’re scared of heights.” You giggle as you make your way toward the stairs.
“Never.” He smirks as he follows you up the ladder.
When you reach the top, you’re on the roof, string lights hang from four posts, and in the center, a small garden full of fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Whoa.” Jake gasps in surprise.
“I had to have a space for myself.” You smile brightly, “It’s just a hobby.”
Jake wraps his arms around your waist, “It’s beautiful.” He kisses the top of your head.
“I know.” You say confidently.
He sighs “It’s perfect, but I have one question.” He turns you to face him.
“Where are you staying?” You say before he has a chance to ask. “Where do you think?”
“Oh, thank god.” Jake exhales loudly.
You giggle into the palm of your hand, “Yep. Do you think I was going to help with the renovations and put effort into these plants just for you to murder them within a week? I had to bribe the new owners to let me take Nymos back too. That cat tower alone cost me hundreds. Don’t think I won’t be reaping the benefits right alongside you.” You move closer to him, cupping his cheek. “Besides, I need to make sure you don’t do anything stupid. That includes not getting enough sleep, eating only junk food and takeout, and doing things you shouldn’t do with your talents. What better way to do that than to spend every moment with you?” You stand on your tiptoes and kiss him.
He sighs as he returns the kiss, lifting you off your feet. You enjoy each other for a few moments before realizing the sun has begun to rise, and you’d better get some sleep. You follow him inside and climb into bed. Nymos snuggles up between you, purring as Jake runs his hands over his fur. You’re a bit jealous, but more than anything, you are just happy to have him back.
“Welcome home, Jake.” You whisper just before drifting to sleep.
About the author
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme