A Bitter Taste (21)

A Bitter Taste

Ugh! I hate odd numbers! Oh well. Finished at long last.

They did not speak of it, not that day or the next. In fact, Hannibal was most insistent that Will not mention what he’d seen for fear of his automatically rejecting details they would require to fully understand what the Ravenstag had done to him.

But Will was certain now that he knew, or knew well enough.

It was a process, a ceaseless test of assent—the question must always be answered with honest assurance, the answer must always be sealed with a kiss and the sharing of blood. Life before death and the death that followed must be consumed, death to make life. An ouroboros of deliberate choice knitted together to create life eternal. At some point, the blood in his veins had become the Ravenstag’s. At some point, the final step he had taken to complete the transformation had been enough to render the Ravenstag unresponsive and vulnerable in their bed.

Should he work the same alchemy on Hannibal as the Ravenstag had done in him, that would be when Hannibal would turn on him, preying on his vulnerability in that silent space between deaths. Continue reading

A Bitter Taste (20)

A Bitter Taste

Jack Crawford was quickly becoming an issue for Will.

Not terribly long after their little “conversation” Will was once again subjected to questioning, this time caught on his own away from Hannibal’s house as he ventured out to search the city once more for the elusive thing he obsessively knew was there somehow, even if he didn’t know what it was.

“Are we going to have another uncomfortable conversation, Jack?” he asked, unwillingly coerced into the man’s black SUV. It was just the two of them, so he knew he must not have much to go on but his hunches and his dogged determination that Will was somehow dangerous.

He couldn’t fault the man’s instincts on that count, though he wondered how on earth Hannibal had managed not to inspire the same degree of suspicion. Continue reading

A Bitter Taste (19)

A Bitter Taste

Anthony Dimmond invited them to dinner a scant few nights after Jack’s unwelcome visit. Will preferred to decline it but by the time he found out about it Hannibal had accepted.

“We move in the same social circles but it seemed inevitably we attended different functions at opposite times,” Hannibal told him, sketching something at his desk that Will leaned over him to view, hitching his hip up against the desk and tipping back to look at it.

Hannibal looked up at him with a smile, pencil in hand.

“Somehow,” he said. “We’ve always managed to miss one another.”

“Well, he sounded plenty excited to have you,” Will scoffed, reaching down to run his fingertips over the paper, careful not to touch the markings themselves.

“And you as well,” Hannibal reminded him. “He seems very interested to have someone there whom he perceives to be closer to him in age than most of the company he keeps.”

“Joke’s on him,” Will murmured, laughing softly. “Why are you so keen to go?”

“The Dimmonds have something which I have been very interested in for a very long time,” Hannibal said, sitting back in his chair to look at Will, his dark eyes retracing the lines he often drew in quiet hours, refreshing his memory of Will’s face as if he held an infinite amount of interesting detail to be found. Continue reading

A Bitter Taste (18)

A Bitter Taste

Jack Crawford dropped by unexpectedly the evening after the auction, late enough that they were already relaxing after dinner. Hannibal was playing something vaguely familiar on his harpsichord while Will was stretched out on the couch, just listening, both of them sipping from the ever-present glasses of wine within reach.

Hannibal seemed surprised by the unannounced visit, slightly annoyed if Will was to hazard a guess. He came back to the living room in Jack’s wake, calling ahead, “Will, Jack’s come to visit.”

Will swung his legs down and got up, retrieving his glass and keeping distance between them. He didn’t like Jack any better now than he had the last time they’d met and he wasn’t feeling energetic enough to spar this evening.

“Let’s go to the study, shall we?” Hannibal offered, gesturing in the direction of his office. It was smaller, closer quarters, but perhaps he wanted to have those factors to his advantage, able to watch Jack closely without drawing undue attention to himself.

“I’ll leave you two to it,” Will offered, heading towards the kitchen.

“No, Will, please join us,” Jack said, stopping him in his tracks. “This visit concerns you, actually.” Continue reading

A Bitter Taste (17)

A Bitter Taste

Will had just put the last piece of silverware on the table when a shadow passed by the doorway. For a disorienting moment he thought it was the Ravenstag again, but a glance showed him a rather burly dark man in a dark suit watching him with an unsettling amount of consideration.

“You’re Will Graham?” he asked, his intensity broken by his easy smile. He took a step in, offering his hand. It was his left hand, beringed, and his handshake was firm and assessing. “Jack Crawford. Very nice to meet you.” Continue reading

A Bitter Taste (16)

A Bitter Taste

Will dreamed of Mathilda, guilty and ashamed. It had been over a century since he’d had a dream about someone he’d hunted, but…

‘You didn’t hunt Mathilda, Will…it was mere murder instead of artistry…The Ravenstag said, breath pulsing on Will’s shoulder when he spoke. It nuzzled his arm, its nose like velvet, warm and soft. Mathilda was wide-eyed and terrified before him, gaping in horror at what she saw behind his mask. Her plastic smile finally cracked at the edges, peeling away the youth she’d hoarded so desperately to reveal the aging, raw woman within. Continue reading

A Bitter Taste (15)

A Bitter Taste


Man sex, fisting, sex stuff. Skip this chapter if that’s not your jam.

“When did you first decide to eat someone?” Will asked, dipping his head to wet his chin in the hot water of Hannibal’s bath where he was soaking. A glass of wine sat untouched on the rim next to him, a second glass currently being someplace Will would rather be—namely, in Hannibal’s hand. Continue reading