Daniele Marx

A/N: Alan and Jacob put Dana to the test.

The room around her was warm long before she entered it. She had taken her seat and then reluctantly let Jacob cover her eyes with a silken, maroon blindfold. They had brought her into their dark fantasies without thinking about her mindset, and now she grudgingly stayed. Their exploitation of her mother's business was enough to bring her to them. They explained the rules of the exercise to her, that she had to adapt to their movements, be able to tell them apart, as though her existence depended on the knowledge. Then, while her awareness heightened to compensate the loss of her eyesight, they left after telling her one of them would be back and not to move.

Several minutes passed. Shifting uneasily on the uncomfortable wooden stool under her, she was unsure if someone would come in. It was best not to move. Her breathing quieted and suddenly she was aware of a second presence in the room. No door had opened, no breathing but her own was audible until a few seconds ago. Her ears perked up in recognition at the sound of breathing other than hers.

Then he began to walk around her. She could hear his Edmonds. It was embarrassing that she could recognize expensive shoes but not the person who wore them. As she sat on the stool, she noticed certain things like the space between his footsteps and the soft tap each shoe made along the wood-paneled floor. Jacob had a less hollow signature of sound when he walked, and it usually turned her stomach to the point of nausea. He was a little flat-footed. The man was impatient and menacing, unable to accept anything but the best in most situations. He lurked in hallways and had an air of intimidation to him. Alan, on the other hand, loved to make himself known to those around him, but he was able to control the motions rather well. He relied on his negotiating and coaxing skills. His graceful walk, his gliding step, was all he needed to fuel his confidence and win any girl he so wished to have. This, she thought, this felt like Alan.

In front of her the man stopped and there was the scent of flowers in the room--roses. It was a very familiar smell to her, and the good times it represented were no longer a linger worthy memory. The sugary smell grew stronger, a silk petal grazed her forehead and eliciting a gasp from her. Her shoulders almost sagged at the sweet aroma placed into her attention. She could picture a rose with velvet petals, her lips parted when a vision of Alan's soft and experienced hands came to mind. Of all the things he was aware he could do, he was most confident with his hands. It was Alan. The rose made its way down the bridge of her nose and landed on her dry lips. At the touch of the velvet petal to her sensitive lips, she took in a quick breath.

His hot, wine-tainted breath landed on her neck, strong enough to reach her nose but nevertheless making her crane to the right to allow him space. He was applying all the touches he knew he needed to warm her, fought hard to dispel the ache in her lower body. She wanted to be right. The subtle differences between Alan and Jacob were vast. It couldn't be Jacob, though. He would've never gone through such lengths. He hated her emotions, her confusion, her breasts being too small. Jacob didn't try to provoke her to feel anything unlike Alan.

Alan loved making her aware of herself. She never thought about her breasts until he groped them in a deserted hallway last week. There was the ultra awareness of the breasts she had. He was clearly pleased with them. Why did that excite her? Was she so depraved that she needed him to touch her? God how she wanted him to be Alan. She would rather cater to Alan than Jacob. Her cheeks reddened from the memory of intense discomfort Jacob had caused over the past couple weeks. The hungry stares he'd sent her in public, the indifference he displayed when he spoke to Alan as though she weren't in the room, or the way he preferred her not to show any emotion when they were together. She didn't know which was worse, despising Jacob or desiring Alan.

He was applying all the touches he knew he needed to warm her, she thought again. The flower left her, his breath changed, and the warmth of his body disappeared. Alan knew those spots better than anyone, and when his name slipped from her chapped lips her voice broke. The door closed. There was a pause as she waited for one of them to acknowledge her. They both moved and she was confused. She wasn't sure which sound came from which direction. Their footsteps were identical.

"Better luck next time, Dana," Alan said. Jacob removed the blindfold and she stared into his cold eyes. His breath was stale from beer, unsettling. She stood up, someone still unsure of her conclusion. Not that they were any good. Walking past Jacob, Alan stopped her at the door. Their eyes met.

"You are dismissed." Her eyes closing, she relished in his sweet breath.

"He wasn't drinking Chianti, Alan."

And with that she left the room.