Deep Waters 1.005

Can’t Hurt to Believe

Into Deep Waters cover

Jacob let himself in the front door as quietly as the damned cane, a bag of groceries, and a bum leg would let him. It was just possible Daniel might still be out on his regular morning walk. The man was still surprisingly fit. If Jacob wanted to piss Daniel off he would use the word “spry.” But usually by this time Daniel would be home and he’d often fall asleep on the couch after his exercise. Jacob liked to come in silently and watch his beloved in a rare quiet moment.

Today though, Daniel wasn’t sleeping. That furry scrap on his lap might be a puppy, if it tripled in size. Right now it looked like a yipping guinea pig. As Jacob watched, the scrawny beige fuzzball licked Daniel’s fingers and then gave a squeak and a wiggle. Daniel gazed down at it in delight.

Okay, the little vermin was damned cute. And frankly so was the man holding it. Of course, Daniel would sneer at the word, and tell Jacob that no man in his eighth decade could be called cute. But with his silver hair mussed and that besotted look on his face, there was no other word for him. Jacob set his grocery bag on the floor and let the door shut loudly enough to make husband and puppy both look up.

“Let me guess,” Jacob said, his tone acid because he resented being made to feel sappy this early in the day. “You found him starving behind a dumpster in a blizzard at midnight.”

“It’s July,” Daniel retorted calmly. “And she’s a girl.”

“And what’s she doing here?” He clutched for a moment’s hope. “Are we dog-sitting?”

“When I got down to Main Street this morning there was this woman and her three boys with a box of puppies, free to a good home. Three puppies, tiny things, maybe part Yorkie. When I passed by again an hour later there was one left. And you could tell the woman was getting to the end of her rope. The family looked poor, cheap T-shirts, dirty jeans on the boys, bad haircuts and all. The mom looked so tired. I was worried they might just give up on this one and dump her somewhere.”

“Uh huh.” Jacob watched Daniel’s gnarled fingers rub gently over the puppy’s almost nonexistent ears. “How much did we pay for her?”

Daniel grinned at him. “Well, I gave the woman enough to get the mother dog spayed. But I told her it was okay if it had to go for groceries.”

Jacob knew Daniel didn’t walk around with a couple hundred dollars in his pocket, even if both of them still tended to use cash more than credit. Which meant Daniel had taken his walk past a cash machine and stocked up, just in case. Daniel had grown up pretty poor… Jacob didn’t begrudge a little charity, except that it had landed them with a dog. “What are we going to do with her?”

“Keep her.”

“That’s… not smart, do you think?”

“We’ve talked about having a dog.”

“We used to. We haven’t for years. We’re too old – you know that. A puppy means house-training and bending over cleaning stuff up and getting up at night to let it out.”

“I can still get down to clean the floor, old man. And I’m up at night anyway, most nights.”

Jacob sighed, because that was true. Often it was just the aches in Daniel’s arthritic hands that the man was too damned stubborn to take pills for. But getting older seemed to bring the distant past nearer, and some nights he knew long-ago Pacific battles once again haunted Daniel. Jacob himself slept like the dead these days. After decades of waking to Daniel’s intermittent nightmares in time to offer a touch or a mumbled word, now he sometimes woke to an empty cold bed, and knew that Daniel was battling his ghosts alone. Maybe a puppy would be good company where Jacob was falling down on the job.

But that still didn’t solve his biggest concern. He stared at the tiny ambulating flea-bag that was falling asleep under the touch of Daniel’s gentle hands. “Is it fair to the dog though? Remember Snap?”

Daniel winced at the reminder of the friend’s dog that they’d nursed through its last days mourning its dead owner. But he looked up defiantly. “We have family who would take her, if it comes to that. But there’s only one real answer. You have to outlive her.”

Jacob shook his head slowly. He wasn’t in any hurry to shake off the mortal coil, but seriously, little dogs could live a dozen years or more and he’d never thought he’d see a hundred. Daniel stared at him with entreaty mixed into the defiance. Jacob started to say, what have you been smoking? But what came out was, “You too.”

Daniel’s smile was wonderful. And hell, they’d beaten the odds over and over. Why not once more? Jacob went to Daniel, braced his free hand on the back of the couch and carefully bent over. Daniel made a sound of protest and reached out to steady Jacob’s elbow. The sound changed to pleasure as Jacob’s mouth found Daniel’s.

Jacob closed his eyes. Those lips were a little thinner, the skin of the hand that moved to his cheek was drier, but the taste was Daniel. With his eyes shut, Jacob could almost feel the stuffy heat of a small storage room, his current unsteadiness mimicking the shift and heave of a deck under his feet. No hint of cigarettes now, but the sweep of Daniel’s tongue into his mouth was sweetly familiar. God, yes, this, forever.

He opened his eyes and found Daniel’s shining gaze at blurred close range. And then Jacob’s damned back hurt and he had to straighten up.

Daniel looked up at him, love naked in his eyes. “We’re keeping her. And calling her Hope.”

The puppy in his lap woke and gleefully attacked his fingers, tiny white teeth making no impression even on Daniel’s thin skin. Her playful growls swiftly became little panting snorts, and then she sat, looked around at Jacob and squeak-barked. He sighed, braced against his cane and reached down to scoop her out of Daniel’s lap. She was small enough to fit easily in one hand. He held her up and she wriggled and then licked his thumb. He sighed again. He’d never been able to deny Daniel anything. He thanked God for that fact every day of his life.

He said as gruffly as he could manage, “Welcome to the family, Hope.”


(©2012 Kaje Harper; cover by Enny Kraft)

25 thoughts on “Deep Waters 1.005”

  1. Thank you for this lovely little followup to Daniel and Jacob’s story. I got so attached to them in the book, and was so glad to get another glimpse into their lives together. You write such wonderful stories!

  2. Just finished this novel. I loved it! But the ending caused me to actually begin sobbing. My partner and I together 23 years and live in Washington State which just legalized Gay Marriage. We will be tying the knot before family and friends in September. Thank you for a great and lovely story.

    • I’m so glad you liked it. I hope your wedding is a joyous occasion filled with the people you love, and that you and your partner have many more decades to enjoy calling each other “husband.”

      The tide is shifting in this country, and it’s long overdue, but still lovely to see. Congratulations on 23 years together.

  3. Nice that you take the time to write mini stories about these lovable characters in INTO DEEP WATERS. Leaves me dreaming of characters from LIES AND COSEQUENCIES and LIKE THE TASTE OF SUMMER that i missed instantly after finishing the book; wishing for more.

  4. Hi, Kaje.

    First, I wanna give you my congratulations for all your books! Are amazing all that I read til this moment! 😉

    Second, I want to ask you about chance to translate to Spanish your free-stories “Deep waters” and “Within Reach”. I saw are a free stories for all people, and I want to give chance people can’t read in English could read these books in Spanish.

    I don’t ask for pay or something like that. I just ask for your authorization for do it.

    In this moment, I’m translating K.A. Merikan’s free book. “Blood. On the Rocks”. They got me their authorization to do it; of course, I let people now is a story that belongs to they. H.B. Pattskyn give me chance to translate her free story “Encantado” too and I did it now. Also book Friends or lovers? by Sara York. Tia Fielding give me the chance (to translate “The Maze” and “The great escape”), Celya Kyle (to translate “Joy & Pain”), Kim Fielding (to translate “The gig”), Kay Berrisford (to translate “Prisoner of the mountain watch”), Jeff Erno (to translate “Invisible” and “With this ring”) and Luwa Wande (to translate “The cross and the black”).

    If you want, I send you my web and you could have a look:

    I’ll wait for your answer. Again, thank you for your books! 😉

    A big hug ♥

    • Hi and thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog, and comment on Into Deep Waters. Congratulations on the translations you are already doing. That’s an excellent array of authors.

      None of my books have been translated to other languages, and I’m not sure they ever will be. I am probably pathologically attached to the written word, to the play of adjective and adverb, the moment when a phrase is broken off, the exact choice of a gesture to describe. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect at it, but that I am highly reluctant to commit those choices to someone else, in a language where I can’t gauge the effect myself. Frankly, it doesn’t make me comfortable, even if you were the most esteemed of international translators. Just a quirk of mine, sorry.

      So while I’m flattered, I’m going to say no right now. You have a wonderful array of free stories to work on already, and I wish you and those authors all the best luck with it. I do also want to say a fervent thank you for asking first – I know at least one author who had her work translated and posted without her permission. I very much appreciate that you are taking the legal and courteous route.

  5. This is one of my favorite stories as I am a romantic sap and history lover, and IDW combined those both perfectly. Daniel and Jacob will always be in my heart and on my all-time-favorites list. Thank you Kaje Harper. I also absolutely adore the Life Lessons series! And, while I’m at it, I’ll give an honorable mention to Nor Iron Bars A Cage. You’re turning into one of my favorite authors 🙂

  6. Awww, this is like…so potent! This is the sort of love one ever dreams of. I really need to spare some time and read this story (after my move in a week). Love is such a wondrous thing!

  7. Great story! Thanks for helping us touch base with the guys. I loved IDW. So great to have a story of two older guys who have built a great life together, in spite of tremendous obstacles.

    While my husband and I faced no where near the challenges of Daniel and Jacob, we relate with them very much. We’ve been together 39 years, having met right after college.

    Thanks for writing about older characters!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed Daniel and Jacob’s story. And congratulations on 39 years – how wonderful. So many good changes in those decades, so much yet to come. I love hearing from couples who made a good life together throughout the years, and, coming from the parent of LGBTQ young people, thanks for being part of the foundation their rights are built on.

  8. I absolutely loved IDW and cried like a baby. This little further glimpse into their lives was a great surprise. Thank you for your writing.

    • 🙂 I’m so pleased you enjoyed it – they’re two of my favorite characters.

      I wrote it in part because some review of IDW said “Sadly, there’s not much left to come for these two great guys except death” and I said, “The hell there’s not.” LOL.


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