Yes, I'll admit it, I like Jake. And, perhaps even more surprising, I like Cake. Jake's charming, and he seems to be good for Clare…at least for what she needs at the moment. So, I wanted to explore writing him. I feel like he could be fun.

So, here is a short Cake one-shot. Those of you who like that kind of thing…enjoy. Those of you who don't…please don't hate me. ;)

Hey, hey, hey, guys! I DON'T OWN DEGRASSI! Whoa.

I didn't do relationships- they were messy, they were complicated, and they never work out.

Cynical? Yeah, perhaps I am the 'glass half empty' type of guy, but I had more than enough reason to feel that way. After all, my family was just another statistic; another cog in the machine. Divorce is more common that healthy marriages these days. Which poses the question: why should you even bother getting married if it is statistically proven to end in failure?

And, on an even smaller scale than that, why stop at marriages? People who are considering marriages have to start somewhere…usually with a relationship that has lasted a couple years. So, if that relationship is headed toward a doomed marriage, why date?

When my folks split that was the conundrum that ran through my head day in and day out. It was a fair question, as far as I was concerned. I even asked my pop after the divorce had been finalized and he started back at square one- dating.

My dad had told me that my mom and he had shared something special, but it obviously hadn't been meant to be. But that didn't mean he was going to give up on love.

Ugh, gag me with a spoon. He didn't even come up with an original answer. He seriously sprouted that cliché shit to me, and it made me angry.

So, did that mean I had given up on love?

It took me a while to come to terms with it, but I realized that I had. Love was a foreign concept to me- I had never been in love, and now that I was scarred I couldn't see myself opening up to anyone enough to actually try falling in love.

I didn't want anyone to stop me from what I wanted to do in life, and I certainly didn't want to be so vulnerable that one person held all my secrets in their heart. It was terrifying, and the perfect recipe for disaster. Dating was for the naive; the weak.

Or at least I had thought so….but then Clare Edwards had crashed into my life.

At least it felt like a crash to me, what with her eye for the dramatic, and her messy breakup with that mentally unstable Eli Goldsworthy. Clare was the definition of disaster to me.

Clare had her own spider webs and scars, but she seemed to wear them on her sleeve. Clare was obviously not over aforementioned Eli, but she was trying so hard to be over him that sometimes it literally hurt me to watch. Clare was a victim of divorce, too. A long, hard, bitter divorce no less. At least my parents had been pretty civil with the whole ordeal.

So, I should have been completely weary of Miss Edwards. I should have run the opposite direction, and held onto my no dating rule. It certainly would probably save me from a lot of hurt later.

But I couldn't bring myself to regret it…because Clare was amazing. She literally embodied the word.

Of course, I hadn't noticed it the first time I met her- I was distracted by how physically attractive she was. Time had been really good to Clare Edwards.

The last time I had seen Clare she was on fast track to dorkiness. Her head was too big for her slender body, her wire-rim glasses were always falling down the bridge of her nose, and she was beyond awkward. She was fun to chase around and tease, but I had basically considered her ugly back then.

Boy, I could not have been more wrong. She was curvy…well endowed, if you will…and she carried herself with a confidence that was not present as a child. Her hair had been shopped off at her shoulders, and she wore it in a curly mess around her face. It was cute, and it drew attention away from the fact that her head was still a bit too big…

She had those full lips that she puckered when she was annoyed. There was the button nose to top off the generous gene pool…and then there were the eyes. Those had caught me off guard. Without the glasses in the way it was very hard not to notice her large, expressive blue eyes. And they weren't just any color blue…no, they were a piercing ice blue that managed to look warm and make me shiver all at the same time.

Yeah, Clare was a piece of work- a very nice one at that.

And, at first, the physical Clare was the only one I cared about. Just because I wasn't into relationships didn't mean I was going to give up on females. I still enjoyed their…company, if you know what I mean.

And it seemed that Clare was into it at first. She really didn't want anything serious either because she had a lot she was dealing with. That was my kind of woman, and I was more than prepared to pounce on that opportunity.

But having fun with Clare turned into spending time with Clare. Spending time with Clare meant getting to know her. Once I had gotten to know her I found that below the surface, Clare was just as, if not more, attractive. She was trusting, confident, loving, neurotic, smart, paranoid, thoughtful, witty, sweet and honest.

So honest, in fact, that she had no trouble telling me when our casual fling stopped feeling as such for her.

Normally, that was when I hit the ground running. I would gradually distance myself until it was safe to cut off all forms of communication. Then I would search for the next lucky girl to keep me occupied for a while.

I'll never understand why I couldn't stay away from Clare, but I didn't feel like running from her. She was too interesting…to inviting…I liked her.

Yeah, it was weird, but I actually, really liked Clare. She was the first one since the divorce that made me feel…wanted? No, that wasn't the right word. Clare was the only one that made me nervous, tongue-tied, and like my stomach was going to flip inside out then fly out of my mouth.

There was no way to doubt it, Clare was special.

So I made it official with her.

I jumped as my phone started ring in its shrill way. I sat up on my bed, and pulled the small device out of my pocket. As soon as I saw the picture I.D. on the front screen I smiled to myself.

Think about the devil, and the devil will call you…

"Ello, this is Ismael, can I help you?" I answered in my best Mid-East accent.

"Very funny, Jake, but I think I'm competent enough to dial the right number."

"Who is this 'Jake' of which you speak?" I joked, and her wind-chime laughter filled my ear. God, I hated how much that sound was starting to become essential to my happiness. That sound just made me feel like I could do anything.

"You're such a dork, but, lucky for you, I like dorks." She was smiling; I could hear it in her voice.

"Noted…and you're lucky I don't mind girls with no sense of humor."

"I laughed," Clare pointed out defensively.

"True, but would it kill you to play along for a bit?" I made myself sound put-out.

"Yes, it would. Not only would I kill myself if I attempted that accent, but probably everyone in a twenty mile radius as well."

"There's that sense of humor that stings so hard."

"Har, har," Clare mocked. "There was a reason I called. May I get to the point?"

"If you must…"

"Our parents are out again…which means I'm all alone in the big house. And it's starting to get dark…what if someone tries to break in? I think I need a big, strong man close by."

"How's needy working out for you, Clare?"

"Not good at all. I don't like to pretend like I'm helpless. So, how about you just come over, and we can pretend that didn't happen."

"I'll be there in ten."

"Can't wait," Clare giggled before the line disconnected. I sighed, trying to get my heart back to the normal pace. I wasn't even alone with her yet, and she was already getting me worked up. And so was the mystery that was Clare Edwards…I had no clue how she did that.

I hopped in the truck and rolled down the windows so I could enjoy the fresh air as I drove though the city. I almost wasn't upset that my dad had made me move out here anymore…almost.

I sighed again, thinking about how weird it was that my dad was dating Clare's mom. Whenever my dad popped into my thoughts these days I couldn't stop them from traveling to this bomb-filled road. Clare and I had decided that there was no reason we couldn't keep doing what we were doing…but it was still weird to think about. It was horrible of me, but I was secretly hoping that things didn't work out with Pop and Helen. It would certainly make my life easier if things got serious with Clare…

Whoa, did I just think that? It was probably best not to dwell there.

I arrived at Clare's in under ten, a new record, and just walked in the door. She usually left it unlocked if I was coming over, and it felt like another home to me. Clare made me feel very comfortable and cozy.

"I'm in the kitchen," Clare called as I closed the door behind me. "I'll be out in a second. You can make yourself comfortable on the couch."

I smiled at settled in. As promised Clare took no longer than a second. "What's on the agenda for tonight?" I asked, curious as to what she had planned.

"Popcorn and a movie," Clare offered me the bowl in her hands, and set down two bottles of water on the coffee table.

"Certainly sounds like a good time. And we're even close to the door, so if anyone breaks in I can protect you. I am, after all, a big, strong man."

"I thought we were pretending that didn't happen?" Clare reminded me, feigning anger.

"It was too good to forget. I'm sure you understand."

Clare stuck her tongue out at me, and I had trouble not launching myself at her lips.

Lights were turned out and a movie started to play on the screen. I placed my arm snugly over Clare's shoulder and pulled her closer to me. After about five minutes of the cheesy cartoon I couldn't take it anymore, and I leaned down toward the girl under my arm.

Clare must have had the same idea because she was already staring intently at me, so I parted my lips and met hers with fervor. She tasted of butter from the popcorn, so I licked her lips clean. Clare graciously reciprocated by trapping my bottom lip between her teeth and giving a good, firm tug.

I laughed, pulling away slightly. Our foreheads remained connected, and I allowed my eyes to take in every part of her face.

"You drive me crazy, you know that?" I whispered, and Clare shivered in appreciation. She was staring at me intently with those big blues again. "You know, you have really pretty eyes." The words escaped my mouth matter-of-factly. It was a simple compliment, or so I thought, but Clare pulled away completely, sliding away just slightly.

"Thanks," she muttered, sadness coating her words, and her head dropped into her hands. She took several jagged, deep breaths.

"Did I say something wrong…hey, Clare, are you okay?"

"It's not your fault…it's just what you said…well, it's just an Eli thing. I don't want to talk about it, and you don't want to listen."

"Oh, okay."

"Sorry, really, that just caught me off guard. But I'm fine now." Clare shot me a dazzling smile as if to prove her point. Then, unexpectedly, she pulled me back in and attacked my lips with a passionate frenzy that I had come to anticipate whenever she was dealing with an 'Eli thing'.

I kissed her back, but my mind was somewhere else. Because, to be honest, the Eli thing happened more often than I'd like to admit.

I knew why…it wasn't hard to deduce…Clare thought about Eli a lot because she wasn't over him. I found myself wondering every now and again whether Clare was thinking of me or Eli when we kissed; how many times she thought about him on any given day. It wasn't her fault, she had loved him, but it certainly wasn't my favorite thing to dwell on.

Because there was the possibility that I was falling for Clare, and she was busy pining over Eli Goldsworthy.

But I couldn't find it in myself to blame her. She was special, and she deserved to be happy. So I would stick around and try to help her be happy.

Yes, I would have been better running away, not getting involved with Clare, but sometimes you just find that exception.

Clare was convincing me that love existed, but she was still in love with someone else.

How do you think that turned out?