44 Overcoming

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With the warmth of their bath behind them, Hannibal returned to his own suite bundled into a bathing sheet while Will went to fetch something he said he needed. He was still tingling from the blissful confirmation that had occurred in the tub, the gentle but insistent scenting and closeness that had eased them both. The part of himself that had been unsettled, unsteady, and deeply unhappy during his departure was now calm and quiet, reassured through scent and touch that his husband was near at hand.

He heard the door to Will’s suite open and the scrabble of claws clicking on tile before Winston came barreling through the open door at a mad dash, tongue lolling.

Hannibal chuckled, hastily escaping into his dressing room to change into his underclothes and dressing gown before the excited dog could reach him.

“He’s missed you,” Will said when he emerged, standing in the doorway still in his warm bathrobe, looking damp and delectable and dangerously approachable.

“I can tell,” Hannibal said, grinning when Winston jumped up to plant both forepaws on his stomach, tail wagging. He cut a sly look at Will and said, “He certainly never leaves me in doubt.”

Will’s brows shot up, both of them disapproving, and he asked, “Have I left you in doubt, Hannibal?” Continue reading

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For the first time in a very long time, Will thought he might be falling ill.

He woke nauseous and still a bit shaky, bleary-eyed as if he’d had too much wine to drink the night before. His bed was empty, no sign of Winston anywhere, and the light through the windows spoke of it being much later than he first thought.

Jimmy came in with Winston trotting at his heels and he promptly moved to get Will’s dressing gown. There was already a fire burning in the fireplace and despite his usual refusal to be coddled, Will was grateful for it. There was a chill he couldn’t seem to shake, and he was reluctant to leave the meager warmth of his bed to start his day.

“Good morning, my Lord,” Jimmy said, bundling Will up in the dressing gown the moment he rose. A pair of bedroom slippers hitherto unworn met Will’s toes as he gained his feet, surprising but too pleasant to protest. “Winston was very anxious to do his business when I came in to check on you, so I had one of the boys take him for a run down to the village. He’s already had his breakfast, as well.”

“Heavens, I slept so late,” Will breathed, rubbing the remnants of a headache away from his temple. “You should have roused me, Jimmy.”

“There’s no harm getting some rest for a change, my Lord,” Jimmy said, tying his dressing gown snuggly at his waist. “The work isn’t going anywhere and the House is in chaos getting things ready.”

Will winced, still dreading the gathering to come, entirely unprepared to see his father again after all of these years. Continue reading

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A strange calm overcame Will as he stared at the Alpha before him, his senses tuning to survival and eliminating all else. Fear was there, but it was mute, unheeded and unneeded as Garret Jacob Hobbs stopped on the trail.

He was lean with strain, dirty from traveling, jittery with nervous energy that brought a wild light to his eyes. His mouth cracked in a feral smile, the knife in his right hand catching the gleam of the waning sun. The rotten scent of him was cloying, the same sickly-sweet smell that had come from the body he’d left in the woods.

“There’s no Alpha to rescue you this time,” he said, advancing another step, but cautiously, almost uncertain, and it wasn’t due to Winston’s savage barking.

Will was gratified to see his caution, pleased that he could put a thread of wariness in the eyes of this predatory monster.

“I don’t need an Alpha to rescue me, Mr. Hobbs,” he said, his tone bland but unyielding. Winston quieted, growling and bristling at his side. “I think you know that well enough, don’t you? Did you hurt the man who was posted outside?”

Hobbs laughed, an abrupt and sharp noise of half hysteria, but he did not answer.

“Why have you come, Mr. Hobbs?” Will asked, inching backwards, his hand brushing over his pocket where the pistol lay, a heavy and reassuring weight.

“I knew you’d come back eventually,” Hobbs said, nostrils flaring to catch Will’s scent. “That I could come here and take you.”

Take me?” Will asked, holding eye contact, keeping the knife at the edge of his vision. “For what reason?” Continue reading

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Hartford House was quiet as it settled down for the night, though staff still hurried about below stairs getting things set to rights after dinner. With their guests packed off back to Fernhill and Grandfather retiring to his suite, it seemed a pall had fallen over the evening. Their happy homecoming had been pressed with the potential for tragedy and Will found himself restless as he mounted the stairs, his thoughts returning time and again to Alana and how frightened she must surely feel.

Winston whined uneasily at his side, anxious. Peter had returned him to the house freshly brushed and smelling strongly of mint, and Will was grateful for his company as he let himself into his suite, his presence keeping Will’s dread somewhat at bay.

He undressed in silence in his massive dressing room, the echoes of his movements a hollow sound that brought his spirits low. He put his cufflinks and pocket watch away, smiling as he ran his fingers over the filigreed watch cover. Jimmy had procured a proper box for him and the sight of all those watches Hannibal had purchased lightened his heart somewhat. He would even now be on the train to the Capital, Will imagined. No doubt he had paced and frothed at the station, anxious to be on his way, exhausted to find himself returning so soon.

Will very deliberately did not touch the bond, though he was tempted. He couldn’t bring himself to, not yet and not now. The abrupt haste of their parting under such dismal circumstances had knocked him off balance, a light flick from Fate’s fingers reminding him of days past when he believed that his happiness would always be momentary, would always be punished.

“Not anymore,” he murmured, fighting the loneliness that threatened. He missed Hannibal. He missed him with a strength that frightened him. It was only a fraction of what he might feel had they bonded properly, he knew, but even that fraction was quite enough. Continue reading