Awaiting a Kiss

by Daniele Marx

A/N: all characters are strictly the property of Daniele Marx. Thanks. :)

Dana woke up abruptly, her breathing harsh as remnants of her nightmare faded. She was tired and too shocked to fall back asleep. Green eyes scanned the dark room, and at first she didn't recognize her surroundings. Her heart pounded inside her ribcage from her dream. She wasn't in her small studio apartment where she thought she needed to be. The cold, moist air and the painfully familiar relics sashayed around her to remind her of the life she once had before her mother passed away. It was a painful reminder of what used to be, one to which she clung to as a child would a teddy bear. She needed the reminder that she couldn't be happy. That's why she was here.

Here the air was warmer and mock comforting. The four poster bed and fluffy comforter caressed her legs, the pillows sleep-inducing. She felt horrible, but somewhat willing to fall back into the slumber which had eluded her. She wasn't comfortable with the luxury she'd been provided. Her long raven hair fell back against the pillow as she curled up from the traffic in her mind. She didn't want comfort. It was something normal people settled into, not her. She knew if she relaxed, something bad would happen. Bad things always happened to her when she let her guard down. Sitting in this bed wasn't easing her mind, but if she left this room she risked the chance of meeting him.

Her stomach turned at the notion of being out of her room let alone out of her bed. She frowned at the thought of referring to this place, this horrible reminder of the past, as theirs. Her stomach turned from anxiety, knowing that she wasn't a good person, just like Alan. He seduced her and now she was paying for her mistake. Making comparisons between the two of them wasn't wise psychologically, but she did it anyway. There was nothing out there besides a few friends who didn't know where she was. Alan wanted her around. It awakened a small notion that had been dormant since she met the man.

And she was sure she loved him.

Her stomach turned again. It felt right, but she knew it was wrong. It was wrong knowing that he held something over her and she still felt something despite all the drama between them. Blackmail wasn't a proper basis for a relationship.

God, she was hungry. She knew she wasn't going to be able to sleep anytime soon and decided to get up and find something to calm her stomach. Pulling the covers off, Dana stood on the soft carpet for a moment to gather her bearings. Satisfied after her balance, she moved toward the door which would lead to the long corridor. From there, she padded down the wooden hallway alone with only her breathing and footsteps to accompany her, which wasn't an unhealthy notion. Being alone was something of second nature to her. Then she descended the stairway and walked to her right until she faced the opposite direction. Her feet carried her down a smaller corridor to the main kitchen, where Alan said she was welcome to rummage for whatever suited her craving. That had always been the case between them.

When Dana entered the kitchen she flicked the lights on. Cobblestone tiles provided a smooth panel against the pads of her feet. The dark wood cabinets and cabinets and hanging bronze pots over the stationary island made her stomach ease a little. Very little attention was paid to the cream-colored walls. They blended well with the rest of the room. Alan had an excellent decorator. The chrome refridgerator contrasted but didn't draw from the rest of the design. Dana walked over to look for something that would make her feel better. As she stepped past the closest corner of the island to the door she froze, hearing footsteps behind her in the entrance. Turning her gaze from her target which stood in front of her as she stood between the objects, she saw Alan leaning against the doorframe. He wore a pair of black jeans and an old green tee shirt. His arms crossed, he stared intensely into her eyes as though he were understanding the need for food. Whether the fridge was going to sate his unique appetite was a good question. She was sure he wasn't thinking of crackers and cheese. She let his eyes rove over her flannel shorts and tank top. For a long second she realized that she was glad she wore her underwear. Then he spoke.

"Insomnia?" The word was simple, direct and confusing. For a moment Dana was certain that Alan was being sincere. She shook off the awkwardness and shrugged lightly.

"New surroundings, new situation. You?"

"I don't sleep very often. Have business to tend to usually. Want anything in particular?" Dana fell silent, refusing to look like she was being held against her wishes. Happily lonely people with heart conditions weren't supposed to be forced to live with others. She decided not to bring this up because she was sure he knew. Alan sauntered past her to get to the fridge first since she hesitated. He kept his distance for the first time since she knew him. He leaned over the fridge, his shirt coming up to reveal his back a little. She was tense, and she knew he was being cautious. Nerves aside, part of her wanted to pull up behind him when he straightened up again, just to gather warmth.

"We've got Chianti." Her reverie broke and she took a moment to clear her head.

"What year?" The words left her easily.

"Seventy-nine."

"Sure." Alan pulled a half empty bottle from the cold and approached Dana. Her back shifted to rest against the flat edge of the island, Alan to her left. She took a long moment to admire his profile as he approached her. Her imagination had him walking slower than usual. She blamed her lack of sleep. He never dressed down around her and she found this half of him more attractive than his other halves. All she usually saw was the businessman and the sex-centered man. She wasn't going to complain about the sex, though.

Tonight was, without a doubt, a night of firsts.

Alan reached behind her and grabbed two wine glasses from the same rack as the pots and pans. Apparently he had her favorite wine just in case she had a hard time adjusting to her new surroundings. He poured them each a glass which finished off the bottle, and took a sip of the sweet liquid. Color passed by her eyes and she grabbed onto the island as her lips parted the glass. Alcohol was fine on occasion but her heart beat slow and often caused stress headaches. Alan sent her a look of concern. She refused to meet his stare. He'd only found out recently about the heart condition. The wine they had during their education and blackmailing days were often a pilot to midnight drinks, even if only one of them was strong-willed enough to make the trip down for a nightcap. Usually they were so tired from all the mind games and wild sex.

But there was always strength in her for a drink. She had a problem with Alan's appetites and blackmailing perks, because last time they led to her sleeping with someone else. The memory of greedy hands on her body still felt dirty and she got nauseous without something alcoholic to help her mind wander, a glass of anything. Alan knew this. There wasn't much he didn't know about her. He knew where she liked to be touched and how, and he knew how and when she wanted his contact. The man, Jacob, hadn't which made her less personal toward him. She figured if she separated her feelings and actions when around him, things would be easier. Apparently Jacob liked that.

Alan, though…

"What are you thinking about?"

"Something I chose not to think aloud about."

"Us?" Dana raised her eyes to meet his. His voice wasn't usually soft. She needed to respond with as much indifference as possible. He waited patiently for her to answer him, not pressuring her as he took a subtle sip from his glass.

"Somewhat." Lying to his face like that had been harder than she had wagered it would be. She distracted them both by raising the glass to her lips for another sip. When she saw her shaking hand, she lowered it, her eyes determined not to betray her as her nerves had. This was hard as she met his blue eyes.

"It's only natural to think too much when you're drinking. Tell me what else is on your mind."

"I'd rather not. You shouldn't concern yourself."

"The same way I shouldn't concern myself with the agent that's looking for you?" Dana stopped, wary. Jordan, the F.B.I. agent, was no longer her caretaker, and she felt nothing. The man wasn't pleasant and he was supposed to monitor her actions, because of her past. That period of her life had to do with the blackmail to which she was submitting. She didn't much care for the lack of response she'd displayed but knew there wasn't anything she could do about finding a way out now. Alan's eyes bore into her and though she wished she could remain neutral in this charade, but knew she couldn't. She shrugged instead and took another drink.

"You can concern yourself with that all you like but you'll only have concerns for assumptions, and those are no good." Jordan was smarter than he let on, and she respected him to the point that she wouldn't share anything he'd told her while watching her. Alan inched closer to her, and she prepared herself for anything. She closed her eyes as she put the glass down. She could feel him shift to stand directly in front of her. When she opened her eyes his blue irises clashed with her green ones. His gaze, though serene, seemed to drift her away from what she considered reality.

"You were thinking about feeling insecure around Jacob too." She didn't blink, and wondered if she would've if she could. Probably not. The familiar scent of his simple yet expensive cologne invaded her senses and drove any other thought from her mind. He hadn't worn it since they met in college.

"I don't want him near me again," she said. He nodded.

"Me neither." His scent was intoxicating, it took her a step further into her memory. She was undamaged back then, a little geeky as far as her studies went. A career in computer sciences, and a list of private contacts, landed her a hopeful future in technological prowess. She'd been lost, and Alan had seduced her.

He used her, then blackmailed her with pictures he threatened to send to her mother and the Dean. His advances didn't stop, and she did as she was told, an unwilling but consenting adult. Eventually, when her mother passed from cervical cancer, Dana found herself off the map. She abandoned her degree and landed in a group of unconventionals who got her in worse trouble. The watchful eye of the government was on her.

Once she disappeared, she wasn't found for a while, but Alan was the son of a politician. He somehow found her and made her disappear. Now here she was, in his home, with nowhere to go but back to the government.

Damn cologne.

He made her a bit uneasy, standing in front of her like he was. Silent. Predatory. She was calm in the sense that he hadn't taken her into his arms and administered all the touches both of them knew would make her purr like a kitten. Her heart sped up without proper warning and took her off guard. Yes, being in this special situation made her stomach turn and crave the contact they had deserted before the F.B.I. got her number. And, truth be told, she wanted to feel the soft touch of that tee shirt against her fingertips as he caressed her with enough restraint to drive them both crazy. The fact that he was dressed down made her stomach trill with anticipation.

She hesitated against her better judgment. Her heart ached as she remembered what her association with him meant. Had those lessons she'd learned gone unnoticed by her? Was she prepared to be with him on such a level after she had fought so hard to regain her freedom from him? Or was she just tired of running from everything? Part of her didn't mind so long as he didn't wait too long and the other part knew the dangers but couldn't get past the busy signal sent by the other part of her. She really wanted him to be one of the liberties she never got to take. Letting him sweep her off her feet just this once wouldn't be terrible.

Without more contemplation and logic, she rested her hand on Alan's chest, took a handful of his shirt, and stood on her tiptoes to make their lips touch. His hand came up to cup her spine, holding her close between him and the island, and the decision was made. Who cared if there was no such thing as 'just this once' with Alan? He was her addiction. There wasn't much to turn back to now, and she believed she needed him. Perhaps it was her mind playing tricks on her that told her she could be so at peace around him. He seemed to be the only one who was making the effort to understand her. Beyond these walls there was a world of confusion where people didn't care to know about her recent losses and gains. One day was like another out there. She didn't want to move on now, but she reveled in his strength. When did he become her pillar, her lover? Did it matter when they were there in the end? There were problems in their world as well but she didn't want to confront them now. Maybe later.

Her stomach felt better.