Lecter chuckled lightly and ignored the doorbell. He was certain who was calling upon his doorstep. “Please make some tea for our guests Anastassia. It is apparent that we have company.”
“I will be back down in a moment, Hannibal. I need to put on something less revealing.”
He looked thoughtful for a moment. Contemplating the outcomes before speaking, Lecter then decided. “No. Stay as you are, please. This will startle them much more than if you were just here with me.” He frowned slightly and turned to Anastassia. He pulled open the robe just enough that her breasts and long legs were slightly exposed, while still leaving her well covered.
Chuckling softly, she kissed his swollen lips. “You are entertaining this day, Hannibal.” Turning, Anastassia walked off towards the kitchen.
Lecter’s smile was cool, almost cruel, when he opened the door. “Jack, what a pleasure to see you twice in one day, please do come in.”
“Thank you Dr. Lecter.”
“It is my pleasure, Jack.” His accented voice was smooth and warm in comparison to his cold eyes and even colder smile.
“I must apologize, Dr. Lecter. I seem to have caught you indisposed.”
“Not at all, Jack. Please come in and make yourself comfortable.” Lecter led Jack Crawford into his home. The quiet study was the perfect place to begin this. The heavy Egyptian cotton robe covered Lecter fully. Taking a seat, he motioned for Crawford to do the same.
“What brings you here Jack? I believe I said to call if something needed my attention.”
“Yes, well a phone call would take too long. I need to show you a few things Dr. Lecter. This killer is getting more brazen.”
They both leaned over the table between them to peer at the glossy photos that framed death for all to see. At that same moment, Anastassia came strolling in with the tea tray.
“Hello Jack.” Anastassia was always polite. “It is a pleasure to see you again.”
Jack Crawford glanced upwards with startled shock. By most anyone’s definition, Anastassia Serdste was a beautiful woman. In this state of undress it was easy to say and see that she was positively ravishing. Apparently, she had just been ravished as well.
Due to the way that the robe had fallen, it permitted anyone looking to see the bite marks around her breasts. They were bright in their freshness. It was easy to see the attraction that Lecter would have to the younger woman. It was not so easy to see the other way around.
“Would you like a cup of tea Jack?” Anastassia had already started to prepare Lecter’s. She knew his preferred way of taking his tea from many years of practice. Methodical in her approach, the spoon never hit the sides of the cup. The cup was offered to Lecter.
“Thank you ma Stassi.”
“Yes please, just plain no milk or sugar.”
Anastassia’s movements were graceful and refined. She took such care with the tea pot and delicate cups. Crawford almost felt as if he was watching a performance when she handed him the cup. She had started to move off when she noticed something about one of the pictures.
“Hannibal, do you see what I see?” Anastassia tapped one of the photographs with her nail.
He glanced at the picture and frowned. “I do now, if it is actually a scar.”
“I believe it is, the placement would be perfect.”
“What are you two seeing?” Crawford was getting impatient.
“One of the bodies appears to have a surgical scar.” Anastassia explained. “With the removal of the hands, feet, and head it would be hard to identify the person. But as you know, the replacement would come with a serial number and you should be able to find out who this is fairly quickly.”
“Good eye Dr. Serdste.” Crawford acknowledged.
“It would have been caught during autopsy, but it is a place to start.” She turned to Lecter. “Hannibal is there anything else you need?”
“No ma Stassi. You are welcome to join us or to go about with getting cleaned up.”
“Thank you.” She smiled. “I think I will go change and make myself presentable. It was a pleasure to see you once again Jack.” Anastassia departed up to her own suite of rooms.
Another long hot bath later, Anastassia was in the process of doing her hair and makeup. She primed and painted. Long curls were pulled back into a twist. Finally after stockings had been attached to their garters, the cream colored dress was donned. It was something that Lecter had purchased for her eons ago. Delicate silk crepe that floated like a dream, the rose petals started around the waist and blew out over the entire dress in a delicate pattern. Pair of gloves, a small hat and a pocketbook was taken to complete the ensemble. She paused and listened. Jack Crawford had apparently left. Listening a few moments longer, she heard the shower. Hannibal was cleaning himself up as well.
Anastassia went down to the library and sat down with a book, Anna Karenina that was written in the original Russian. Dvorak was playing gently in the background. Eyes were closed for a moment to savor the music. When they opened she noticed that Lecter was standing, watching her. Rising to her feet, she stood in silence.
“You look lovely ma Stassi. Shall we?” Lecter offered his arm.
“But of course.” Anastassia’s hand moved to take his arm and a delicate hand laid gently upon Lecter’s forearm. She did not bother to ask where they were going. She had agreed beforehand and it would be rude to ask now. The pair walked off to the car. Anastassia gave Lecter a look as if asking if he wished for her to drive. He opened the passenger side door for her and helped Anastassia to get settled.
They were off. The engine of the Bentley purred softly. Lecter patted Anastassia’s knee. “Comments?”
“About Jack?” She thought for a moment. “He was indeed startled to see me in such a state. He has known of our affair, but he did not realize the intensity that could be charged. It threw him off. It was enough that he never noticed the obvious. Although, they will discover what it is during the autopsy.”
“Good girl. What was it that you saw?” Lecter was a mentor in more ways than one. He knew that soon Anastassia would be his true protégé.
“The cuts only appeared to be shallow. If you look correctly at the pictures, they were done to stuff the dead man with aromatic herbs. The killer was preparing dinner or at least learning how to cook.
“That’s my girl.” He nodded. “Are you ready for the next act?”
“I am sure that I am. Alas, I do not know what you have planned for me.”
“Antonio Paravaci is to be at an afternoon gallery opening. It is some sort of photography that is supposed to be unusual at best. It is quite obvious that he is – smitten – with you. So you shall attend the opening without me in tow. You, of course, know what to do.”
“Yes Hannibal, I do.” He had used Anastassia as bait many times in the past.
“Very well ma Stassi. I won’t be far away.”
Leaning over, she kissed his cheek. “You never are.”