spends his Valentine’s Day with memories of his dead lover, until one rainy day
Daniel skids into his life. Daniel offers Jacob the chance to live again, but
is Jacob brave enough to close his eyes and risk his heart?
hissed as an icy raindrop slid down the back of his neck and inside his collar.
Caught out without a coat or umbrella, he’d sheltered
under the yew tree for the past five minutes, hoping to avoid the worst of the
sudden shower, but from the steady trickle of cold water down his back it was a futile effort. The pretty tissue paper around the pale-yellow rosebuds he’d bought an hour
before now looked sodden and bedraggled.
watched cars going past spraying mud over the pavement, the occupants uncaring and smugly dry. People scurried past, their heads
down and shoulders hunched against the inclement weather and Jacob idly wondered where they were going until he was
distracted from his thoughts as someone bumped into him and the tree. He
received another spray of cold water from above and turned to glare at the
similar in age and height to Jacob, smiled at him,
the apologetic look in his eyes partially obscured by a wet hank of light brown
hair. “I’m so sorry. I lost my footing.”
“I—” Jacob stopped, distracted by a
pair of huge, green eyes.
didn’t hurt you, did I?”
forced himself to focus on what the man was saying.
“I’m fine. Just wet, although I don’t think I can get any wetter.”
“Foul weather, isn’t it?” The man shivered and
turned up his collar. “I’m Daniel.” He held out his hand. Jacob swapped the
bouquet over and took it. Their handshake was cold and clammy but
Daniel’s grip was firm, and he took his time to let go of Jacob’s hand.
Introductions made, Jacob stared at Daniel, wondering what to say next. They’d
covered the weather already.
shivered and pulled his coat tighter. “What are you
doing out on a day like this? Are the roses for a sweetheart?”
going to the cemetery,” Jacob said quietly. “I got caught by the rain and
thought I’d wait it out.”
sorry.” Daniel looked mortified. “You’re going to a funeral?”
shook his head. “To visit someone. My partner. It’s Valentine’s Day.” He saw
the pity in Daniel’s eyes. “They died five years ago but I always leave flowers
so he—they—know I haven’t forgotten them.”
And last, but Daniel didn’t need to know that. After
Miles died Jacob had vowed he’d never give his heart to anyone else, unwilling
to suffer the pain of loss again. He’d loved once and deeply. Others could seek
the happy ever after, he was content with the memories.
squeezed his shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
too.” Jacob sucked in a deep breath. “It was a long time ago. How about you?
laugh was loud in the twilight, startling Jacob. “Free and single. And gay.”
breath caught in his chest at the sheer life in
Daniel. It had been a while since he’d interacted with a guy. He hadn’t exactly
been a hermit since Miles’s death, but even his last hook-up was so long ago
Jacob struggled to put a date on it. “What are you doing out here?”
The cupboard is bare. I went to buy milk and bread.”
Daniel held up his bag. “I got half-way home when the rain started.”
stared up at the heavy grey clouds still full with rain. “I need to go soon or
the cemetery will be closed.”
licked his lips, a gesture Jacob found endearing.
“Can I come with you?”
cemetery. I don’t like the thought of you being on your own. I won’t interfere
if you want time to talk or think or whatever.”
stared at him. “You want to stand in the pouring rain
while I lay flowers on my dead boyfriend’s grave?”
if you put it like that…,” Daniel looked embarrassed. “Yes, does that sound
morbid? You don’t have to say yes.”
one’s ever offered before.” Jacob had always gone alone to visit Miles’s grave. Even his friends hadn’t offered to accompany him.
“You’re going to get wet.”
already wet and cold.” Daniel shivered and then held out his hand. “Let’s go
before we get pneumonia.”
hesitated, then he looked at the sincere expression in Daniel’s eyes and threw caution to the wind. He took Daniel’s hand. If
anyone was bothered by two men holding hands in this weather, they could take a
long walk off a very short pier.
half-ran, half-jogged to the cemetery, and Jacob led the way through the winding centre path to a grassy area with modern
graves, all marble and granite. He stopped in front of a simple gravestone.
4 March 1982 to 21 September 2011
Beloved son and brother
no mention of you,” Daniel observed.
Jacob shrugged. “They didn’t approve of me—of us. They let me come
to the funeral but only as his ‘friend’. If it hadn’t been for his brother they
would have banned me from the service.”
draped an arm around Jacob’s shoulders and gave him a comforting squeeze. “I’m sorry. That must have hurt.”
“It did at the time. Now I only come here when
I know his parents won’t.” Jacob thought about how long it had been since
someone touched him like this.
death had been like a knife to Jacob’s heart. One day
he’d got up for his university lecture, kissed Jacob, promised to make him
dinner, and walked out the door. Jacob had received a call later that morning
to say Miles hadn’t made it to the campus. He’d been the victim of a hit-and-run, and the driver had never been caught.
self-conscious with Daniel watching him, Jacob knelt down and laid the bouquet
across the grave. He didn’t bother taking the flowers out to arrange them in
the container. Miles’s mum would throw them away on her
next visit, leaving the strewn stems for Jacob to find.
“I love you. I’ll always love you. I’ll never
Jacob said the words out loud but with Daniel watching he didn’t feel he could.
His fingers lingered on the grave stone. To his
surprise Daniel knelt down next to him and placed his fingers next to Jacob’s.
Miles, I’m Daniel. I want to take Jacob out. Is that okay?”
gaze snapped to Daniel’s. “You do?”
nodded. “If that’s okay with Miles.” He cocked his head and waited a minute as if he was listening for an answer, then he stood, pulling Jacob with him. Whatever he was going to
say next was lost as he sneezed, fortunately managing to clap a hand over his
mouth in time.
laughed and took a step back to avoid another sneeze.
“Let’s get you home and into a hot shower.” Daniels’s eyes widened and Jacob
blushed. “I didn’t mean together, I meant—”
pressed a finger over Jacob’s cold lips. “Hush. Let’s go home before we
freeze.” He picked up his shopping and held out his
hand again. Jacob threaded his fingers through Daniel’s and they walked out of
the cemetery, the gates locked behind them before they’d even reached the
anything, the rain got even heavier and both men were shivering
violently by the time they reached Jacob’s gate.
in,” Jacob offered.
sure?” Daniel’s teeth chattered so loudly it was difficult to hear him. “I
understand if you want to be alone.”
had spent too many hours being alone, and now this green-eyed man had skidded into his life and Jacob was strangely reluctant
for this moment to end. Not wanting to think too hard, Jacob just tugged him
into the house, breathing a sigh of relief as soon as he was out of the cold
winter rain. He pushed his wet hair back from his
face and smiled at Daniel who was shaking violently, a puddle of water at his
feet. Jacob turned up the heating and looked at his unexpected guest. “You can
use the ensuite bathroom in the spare bedroom. The shower’s small but really
good. There are towels in the bathroom. I’ll leave
some clothes on the bed and put yours in the dryer.” He showed Daniel the spare
room and pointed at the bathroom. “Leave your clothes on the floor. Take your
backed out of the bedroom and heard the water go on.
He found a long-sleeved T-shirt and sweatpants in his chest of drawers, and
after a moment’s hesitation added a pair of briefs and warm socks. He left them
on the bed and picked up Daniel’s wet clothes.
minutes later, the clothes were in the tumble dryer
and Jacob was standing under a stream of hot water, the spray almost painful
against his chilled skin. He was still bemused by the fact he’d let Daniel go
with him to Miles’s grave and now the man was in his spare shower, naked.
Jacob’s mind raced furiously at the thought of a
naked Daniel, hot water racing over his body.
in dry clothes and feeling a hundred times better now he was warm, Jacob walked
down the stairs, stopping in surprise in the kitchen doorway as he saw Daniel
leaning against the counter, his hands wrapped around
looked up as he came in. “Hey, I hope you don’t mind I made myself at home.”
all. Is there one for me?”
coffee?” Daniel pressed the switch of the kettle.
please.” Rather than taking over, Jacob let Daniel
make him the drink. Daniel looked good in his kitchen.
Daniel held up the bag of sugar.
chuckled as he heaped two spoons into a mug. “Sweet tooth. Where do you put it
always had a sweet tooth,” Jacob admitted. “I go to
the gym most nights of the week.”
bunny, eh?” Daniel deliberately checked him out from head to foot, grinning as
Jacob flushed at his attention. “That explains the muscles.”
felt like his face was burning up. He took a large
swallow of tea, forgetting how hot it would be, and starting choking. After he
finished coughing, blew his nose and wiped his eyes, and Daniel had mopped up
the tea, Jacob just wanted to hide but Daniel handed him another cup of tea
with a broad grin on his face.
it’s hot. Blow!”
dad.” Jacob buried his face in the mug, hearing Daniel snort.
for the shower and clothes,” Daniel said after a moment. “I thought I was never
going to warm up.”
look good in my clothes.”
Shit, did I just say that?
from the way Daniel’s eyebrows vanished under his fringe, the words had come
out of Jacob’s mouth. He was right though. Jacob’s clothes were a little too
big on Daniel but he looked wonderful. He made Jacob’s mouth water.
distract him from going down that path,
Jacob looked out of the window. “It’s still raining out there. I can drive you
home if you like. Do you have somewhere to be? Would you like to watch a film?”
heart sank when Daniel bit his lip but then Daniel
said, “I’ve got nothing planned and the rain doesn’t look like it’s going to
stop anytime soon.”
smiled shyly. “What do you want to watch?”
chick flicks or westerns. Apart from that I’m good.”
spaceships, fast cars or explosions?” Jacob spent
most of his spent most of his free time
watching films and had movies to suit
Especially if he’s wielding a hammer.”
“Thor it is. Good choice.”
Despite the fact it was only mid-afternoon it
was dark and Jacob switched on one of the lamps in
the lounge. It cast a soft glow over the room. Jacob was glad it took time to
set up the film as he realised he’d virtually dragged a total stranger off the
streets to visit the grave of his dead lover and watch a movie with him. That wasn’t quite true. Daniel had insisted on coming with
him to the cemetery.
awkward, Jake? Me being here? I can go if you want?”
Jacob blinked and glanced over to Daniel.
Being here. You looked like you were regretting the invite,” Daniel explained.
was still stuck on Daniel calling him… “You called me Jake.”
wrinkled his forehead. “I did? Is that a problem? I can call you Jacob if you
last person to call me Jake was Miles.”
be.” Jacob gave him a wry smile. “I like it. Ready to
nodded and they both settled back to watch the mighty Thor. At some point they started rating all the male actors on
a scale of one to Chris Hemsworth, although the arguments got a little heated when Jacob gave Idris Elba a low rating.
fucking awesome, man.” Daniel waved his arms about indignantly. “You need to
get your eyes tested.”
keep saying, but he’s still only a six.”
nine, if not a ten.”
shrugged. “He’s all right but he’s not my type.”
paused the film and got to his feet. Daniel looked puzzled until Jacob handed
him a photo from the mantelpiece.
Miles?” Daniel asked softly.
“About six weeks before he died. We were in
the Bahamas.” He and Miles were hugging on the beach,
tanned and happy, unaware of the tragedy about to befall them. They were so
young and naïve.
looks like me.”
nodded as he took the photo from Daniel. He traced the outline of Miles,
remembering his boyfriend. “I saw that too. He was
shorter than you, but similar hair and green eyes. You have different
characters though. He was very quiet.”
eyes widened. “Does this mean I’m your type?”
so.” Jacob knew he was blushing but there was nothing
he could do to stop it.
grinned at him. “You know what that means?”
stared at him suspiciously. “What?”
think I’m a ten.”
don’t,” Jacob protested.
Yes, he did.
you do.” Daniel got up and did a stupid dance around the room.
going to calm down?” Jacob asked, a little concerned when Daniel showed no sign
of stopping. Daniel’s arms were flailing close to the few fragile objects Jacob
cute boy likes me! He thinks I’m hot.” Daniel paused mid-dance and beamed at him.
smiled back, Daniel’s smile was infectious. “You think I’m cute?”
and hot,” Daniel said. “Why do you think I skidded into you?” Daniel leered at
him and Jacob would have felt weak at the knees if he’d been standing up.
Daniel collapsed to the floor and placed his hands on Jacob’s knees. He had
broad hands and raggedy nails, Jacob noted absently. “You looked sad and
lonely. I saw the flowers but you didn’t look as if you were waiting for a
lover. I wanted to take away the sad look.”
Daniel’s eyes were dark emerald in the low light. “What do you want, Jake?”
closed his eyes he could almost imagine it was Miles kneeling there, waiting to
kiss away the pain of losing him. Jacob kept his eyes
open, fixed on Daniel’s face. “Kiss me.”
response Jacob leaned forward and Daniel met him with a brush of his lips.
Jacob made a sound, needing more than a brief kiss. Daniel threaded his fingers
through Jacob’s hair and tugged him closer. Jacob
laid his hands on Daniel’s chest and waited for Daniel to kiss him again.
lips were warm and slightly chapped, with a hint of PG Tips. He kissed Jacob,
closed-mouthed, and then he licked Jacob’s lips. Jacob parted them and Daniel made a growling sound deep in his throat.
really kissed, deeper this time, breathing each other’s air. Daniel moved so
that he was between Jacob’s legs, flush against his chest. Jacob pulled back to
draw in a much needed breath before they kissed
again. Raindrops raced down the windowpanes, Thor left swinging his hammer, forgotten on the TV screen, as
Jacob and Daniel got lost in each other. Daniel left a trail of kisses along
his jaw, Jacob arching his neck. This was okay. Daniel was more than okay.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Jake. Daniel is my
present to you. You’ve grieved long enough. It’s time to move on. Just close
heard the whisper of Miles’s voice echoing in his mind. “I will,” he murmured.
Daniel looked at him curiously but Jacob just smiled.
This time he was the one who took control, cupping the back of Daniel’s neck
and holding him close. He kissed Daniel, focusing all his attention on him, and
closed his eyes.