Anastassia walked around the corner and into the small art gallery. The scenes painted within were vivid and grotesque. A brow rose high, even just at first glance, it was not the type of art work that was expected. She was greeted warmly by the event manager and quickly ushered over the artist to Anastassia. Unsure of how the glass of champagne was put in her hand, Anastassia used it as a prop, while leaving the actual contents untouched.
“Dr. Serdste! It is a pleasure to finally meet you!” The photographer’s smile did not quite touch his eyes. He air kissed both of Anastassia’s cheeks.
The first thing that came to her mind was that he needed to cut the pretentious act. Still the young woman smiled with such sweetness that it would have made Lecter smirk. “It is a pleasure as well.” Again came a saccharine smile that nary a person would recognize as being false, save for Lecter and possibly her parents.
“Allow me to please show you around dear doctor.”
Her head dipped down and a coy smile appeared this time. “Nonsense, I am fine on my own. This way I can derive my own opinions and we can speak of what I wish to purchase afterwards.”
She could see the delight light up in the man’s eyes this time. Anastassia mentioned purchase and that was all it took.
“Quite an idea Dr. Serdste – I shall leave you be then.”
“Thank you Sir.”
She left to wander. There was an instant recognition when Antonio Paravaci was spotted. Anastasia ignored him while at the same time keeping him within her line of vision. The photographs were mostly hideous pieces of carnage. There was nothing lovely about them at all. The works tended to be recolored pictures of crime scenes. There was nothing original about this type of art. In fact, Anastassia thought better works could be found on internet gore sites.
It was perhaps a half hour later that she ‘accidently’ ran into Paravaci. He was looking at the one good piece of work in the entire gallery. It was a woman covered, quite erotically, in blood. The woman in the picture was not dissimilar to how Anastassia had looked after the ‘game’ with Lecter. There was also a man in the background lapping up a spot of blood pooled where her exposed collarbone dipped in. The man was perfectly clean of blood, except his hands and mouth. A quick signal to one of the dealers let them know she wished to purchase the piece. Paravaci turned to see who was buying the piece. The look of complete recognition when their eyes met was priceless.
Paravaci slipped his arm around Anastassia’s waist and whispered in her ear. “My my my, such a dirty little piece for such a pretty little girl.”
She damned near batted her eyelashes at him. Another coy smile appeared that day. “There is a rule that pretty little girls can’t have a dangerously dirty side?”
“I never said that.” He leered. “You look lovely Anastassia. Although, your dress is covered in delicate petals. I prefer to see it in a much darker sense.”
“Oh? How so?”
Paravaci whispered in her ear. “Blood.”
“Is that so? Please Antonio, do tell.”
He moved behind Anastassia. Paravaci’s hands traveled over the flair of hips and rested lightly around her waist. She could feel him pressing tight to her. Paravaci was a good 10 years her junior, but that was of no concern at the moment.
“Thin cuts made with the sharpest of razors would follow the pattern of your dress. More and deeper around the waist and smaller ones up and down – all it would take would be a slap of the hand over each one to let the blood burst out. The dress would become more than just a dress. It would become part of the model herself.”
“That sounds decadent.”
“Oh it would be. I would be delighted to have you as my model.”
“Perhaps we need to make a date then?”
“You would be willing Anastassia?”
“Why wouldn’t I?
“You are a deception. So prim and proper on the outside – you are almost cold and clinical. But inside more warmth and wetness than a man should be able to stand. “
“You don’t think you have the stomach for it Antonio? As being a mere man?”
“There is nothing that could be called ‘mere’ about me.”
Anastassia laughed lightly. She slipped a small business card into the front pocket of Paravaci’s slacks. Letting fingertips stroke right there, it was so close yet so far.
Paravaci said something in Italian. The words whispered across her ear that would have sent another woman to her knees. He seemed to speak of desire and need. She knew better. Anastassia was fluent in Italian. Paravaci said something along the lines of Lecter would be his supplies but she would be his masterpiece.
Instead of responding in kind, she spoke softly. “Teasing so soon Antonio? Perhaps I need to look up what you said?” There was a slight turn of her head and she bit down harshly on the side of his neck, near the ear. That alone was enough to make Antonio take notice. “Call me.” Anastassia started to walk away.
Turning slightly, she cocked her head to the side. “Yes?”
“What of your boyfriend?”
“My boyfriend? I do not have a boyfriend.” She pretended to look puzzled.
She laughed gaily. “Lecter is not my boyfriend. He is my –“
“Yes?” Paravaci interrupted her before the statement was finished.
“- my toy.” She smirked.
“Careful dear Ana. You are playing with fire by spending time with Lecter.”
“But what if I enjoy being…” There was a pause merely for effect. “…burned.” She ignored the nickname, but barely.
Anastassia walked away and did not look back. She did catch the murmur of words he spoke in Italian once more. Paravaci said ‘Then he shall become our toy.’ There was just one detour before walking out. She paid for the artwork and then was gone.
She took a backwards approached to where Lecter was parked and hidden. It was a zig-zag of a walk to ensure that she was not being followed. Hannibal Lecter spotted his protégé and stepped out of the luxury car. He moved to open the door. Anastassia slid in gratefully.
They were driving off before Lecter asked the question. “It went well.” It was not a question.
“He believes that I am interested and we are setting up a date.”
“I do not know if he is planning on killing me or merely causing me significant pain. I do believe that he is wishing to cause you harm Hannibal. Please do be careful. I also believe that he is far more dangerous than what was believed.”
“Why do you say that ma Stassi?”
“This isn’t new to him. He is quite sadistic. He doesn’t merely kill; he tortures.” She thought for a moment. “He tried to warn me off of you as well. He said I was playing with fire being around you. I had to ask him what happens if I liked to be burned.”
“That’s my girl.”
Anastassia leaned in to brush a kiss against the corner of Lecter’s mouth. “Always”