Breakfast at the BSCHI
“Your taste in aftershave hasn’t improved one iota, Will.”
“I wore it especially for you, Hannibal. Thought it might bring back some treasured memories.”
He was smiling as he turned to face me. “And you thought better than to heed my warning.”
“Jack Crawford is a rather persuasive man.”
“Persuasive? Or manipulative?,” he said with a tilt of his head as he approached the glass. “He is not so far removed from the monsters to whom he dedicates his life in pursuit of. He merely lacks your resilience and fortitude when it comes to stepping into their minds.”
He ran his gaze over my body. I felt it prickle my skin, along with the shiver that would normally accompany nakedness. “Married life obviously agrees with you, Will.”
Despite the horrendous hospital jumpsuit, with which I had no doubt he had worked hard to reconcile himself, it could not detract from the aura of dominance, allure and sheer magnetism he exuded. He looked even more dangerous than I remembered. My heart was beating so rapidly and loudly I was certain he could hear it, as surely as I felt its rhythm thudding in my ears.
“I wonder if it would have agreed with me more had I pursued a life as a murder husband,” I said without a hint of hesitation.
He remained still but I watched as his pupils dilated. I congratulated myself inwardly on being the only person in existence who could evoke such emotion in Il Monstro di Firenze. “Our friend Freddie Lounds still wields a less than stylish command of the English language…,” he began.
“… All the while sitting beneath her bridge of missed opportunities. If we did not feed the troll Hannibal, she would be torturing someone else. Consider it another of your pro bono activities in aid of higher mortals…,” I finished his train of thought.
“I have missed you, Will,” he whispered. “And I wonder if we may yet get to explore Ms Lounds suggested dynamic,” he concluded, with ingrained confidence.
I couldn’t help but give a quirk of my lips. Even in his current situation, and to all outward appearances, the certainty of a future under the care of Alana Bloom, Hannibal Lecter’s skill at maximising his opportunities with long-term intent always left me in grudging admiration. He was irresistible to me. He understood that all too well also.
I held up the Tooth Fairy’s FBI file. “Will you help us?”
“No. I will help you. I am powerless in the face of seeing you again in the flesh to decline,” he spoke the words not dissimilar to those when we conversed in my mind palace dining room. My fear and desire battled with each other again. Could I know him any better?
I did not take my eyes from his, nor did he once drop his from mine, as I slid the file into the partition drawer. I longed to feel his touch again. I wondered how long I would have to wait?
He briefly flicked through the contents before setting it on his table. He half-glanced over his shoulder. “You will return tomorrow, Will? Give me a little time to review our fledgling protege? Besides, I think my breakfast is about to be served…”