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Hurry.

The door to Will’s suite was locked and Hannibal hadn’t the patience to wait for Mrs. Henderson to fetch her keys for him. Under the frightened stares of the gathering Hartford staff, he reared back and slammed his foot into the door, shouting, “Will! Answer me! Will!”

He could scent him—fear and fevered sweetness, rage and determination and vulnerability that nearly broke the last restraint on Hannibal’s Alpha instincts.

“Hannibal?”

It was faint and muffled and only made him feel even more frantic when he heard it, but Hannibal answered all the same, “Will!”

The lock clicked and Hannibal flung the door open, casting about in the darkness, choking on the rancid brimstone scent of Francis Dolarhyde. Winston and Tier’s girls growled behind him, hesitating to crowd him but agitated by the scent of distress that saturated the room.

“Will!” Hannibal shouted, casting around to catch his scent, his heart hammering. “Will—”

The door slammed behind him and the lock clicked again, closing the dogs and staff out in the hall. Hannibal rounded on them, snarling in warning, his stomach sinking in a sickening drop when the shadowy figure in his husband’s room moved to turn up a lamp. Continue reading

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Will knew without a doubt that something terrible had happened if his sister had returned to Hartford of her own accord. He drew himself together and hurried to the door, shocked when Tier’s girls began to bark and carry on as if they would eat her alive.

“Oh my gods, why are those things inside the house?” Mina shrieked, startled by the approach of the dogs. She drew up in terror, her eyes showing whites all around, a grimace of fear contorting her features.

They barked so viciously that Will worried for a moment that they might attack, but the large animals made no move to do so, only filled the room with their snarling displeasure.

“Girls! Goodness!” Will said, raising his voice to be heard above the din. He cast a glance back and gestured at Mr. Hawkes, saying once he was close enough to hear, “Take Winston and the girls upstairs for now, Mr. Hawkes.”

“Very good, my Lord,” Mr. Hawkes said, his rumbling tone heard even over their angry snarls.

Will moved to console his sister as the dogs were pulled away, taking note of her travel-dusty dress, her tear-streaked face, and how deeply disturbed she was. Continue reading

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The tick of the clock echoed in Will’s ears, thumping with the beat of his pulse. The hour had struck ten and Hartford House was wrapped in numb, mournful silence, the servants going about their duties in whispers, anxious for any news.

Will paced from the window back to the door, paying no mind to the beautiful day unfolding beyond the wall of Hartford House, not when such tragedy had struck within. Winston and the girls watched him from where they lay before the empty fireplace, their dark eyes tracking his every movement with alert awareness.

He paused mid stride when he felt Hannibal coming towards him, the fall of his boots on the carpets vibrating as much through Will’s senses as through the floorboards. He smoothed his jacket and straightened his cuffs, grooming himself without realizing it, trying to calm his nerves.

Hannibal came in at a brisk stride, drawn to his mate like a moth to flame, finding him without error in the depths of Hartford House. His mouth was taut and tight, strained around the edges, his amber eyes weary with exhaustion, but he came straight to Will, breathing, “He will live.”

“Oh thank gods!” Will said, eyes closing on tears of relief as Hannibal embraced him, hugging him tight. “If you had not been there, Hannibal! I cannot bear to imagine what would have happened to him!” Continue reading

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Between one breath and the next, the light was blown out from Will’s world.

I’ve been recalled, Will. I’m being sent back to war…’

So many thoughts raced through his head, each striving for dominance over the others, a confusing jumble of fear and outrage and sinking despair that rendered him mute with shock—his Alpha was leaving, his husband was being taken, and with him would go all the happiness Will had finally begun to trust in.

It was the way Hannibal’s hand stopped trembling that snapped Will back into focus, the way the bond suddenly fell still as his husband wrestled his emotions into submissions, always seeking to spare him, even at his own expense.

Will reached for him, reached for the bond as he stretched out his hand, pulling Hannibal to him to wrap his arms around him.

“I’ve got you,” he whispered, pressed belly to belly, chest to chest, their child pushing and shifting between them. Hannibal’s arms hung at his sides, resisting the comfort Will offered, unwilling to crack the seal on his fear lest he disturb his little mate. But Will was a force to be reckoned with, relentless as the river wearing away at stone. “I’m here, Hannibal. If you must leave me in the future, please don’t leave me now. If I can have you at your best, then I’ve earned you at your most vulnerable—let me be strong for you, Hannibal.”

The trickle of anxiety became a flood and Will closed his eyes, letting it run through him and out. Hannibal’s arms rose to fold around Will’s waist and the letter rustled softly against Will’s jacket, but he paid it no mind. There would be time for that, time to read it and see the details. For now, they needed one another more than they needed anything in the world, and Will was determined to be the boulder Hannibal had likened him to. Continue reading