venerdì 9 ottobre 2015

Out of the Rain

Out of the Rain





Hannibal opened the front door, and there she was: a rain-soaked angel, just the one he’d been sketching when she’d rung his bell. The small overhang of his porch did nothing to protect her from the elements. “…Alana?” He wasn’t a man who was used to surprises, but seeing her here like this so unexpectedly was enough to give him pause.

“Let me in?” she asked. Thunder rumbled in the distance. “Please?”
“Of course,” he replied. He stepped aside and ushered her in.
She closed the door behind herself and stopped with her hand still at the knob, her back turned. “I couldn’t sleep,” she said.
“Are you alright? Let me look at you.” He took her hand, and she finally turned to him. Tracks of mascara ran down her face, and tears welled in her eyes. She threw herself against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her sopping-wet hair to kiss the top of her head. “What happened?”
“I told you,” she said, “I couldn’t sleep.” She began to shiver.
“Come, let’s get you warm. I’ll light a fire.” He kissed her head again.
“Don’t leave me,” she urged when he broke the embrace. “Don’t…”
He tipped her chin up. “I’m not leaving you. You can stay as close to me as you need.”
She grabbed his hand in both of hers. “Don’t let go?”
He nodded once and led her into the den. “I’ll need my hand back,” he said. He gestured to the couch. “Go ahead and sit. I won’t be any time at all.”
She darted her eyes between his face and the couch. “I… okay.” She let go. Her whole body cringed at the loss of contact, but she was still able to step away from him to sink into a spot on the sofa.
He fidgeted with the fireplace until it roared to life. Warmth filled the room. “You should get out of those wet clothes. I’ll find you something to wear.”
She whipped her head from side to side. “No! I don’t… don’t leave me.”
“I really must insist,” he said. “I wouldn’t want you to catch cold.”
“Be fast,” she said, and shut her eyes tight. He had a feeling she wouldn’t open them until he returned.
He took his leave and found one of his dress shirts and a pair of boxers. Sure enough, her eyes were still squeezed shut when he got back to the den. “Here,” he said. “I’m back, see?”
She opened her eyes and visibly relaxed. “Thank you,” she said, taking the clothes from him. She stood and stripped out of her wet blouse and pants, making no effort to preserve her modesty. The shirt hung down to her thighs, and her panties were dry enough, so she set the boxers aside. He’d brought a towel for her as well. She ran it through her hair.
“Better?” he asked.
“Much,” she replied.
“One more thing.” He took the damp towel and wiped at her face to clean off the smudged mascara. “There we are,” he said. “Now tell me what’s wrong.” He sat next to her and she immediately laid her head in his lap.
“I… I had a nightmare. God, that sounds stupid.”
He stroked her hair. “It doesn’t sound stupid. Dreams can be powerful things. Tell me, what happened in this nightmare?”
“It was about Will,” she said. “I dreamed… I dreamed I saw him with Abigail.”
“And what were they doing?”
She shuddered, not from the cold, but from her own thoughts. “I dreamed I saw him kill her.” Another shudder wracked her body, and before he could reply she began to cry.
“Shh, shh. It’s alright. Everything’s alright. It was only a dream.” He linked his fingers through hers.
“He killed me, too,” she said through her tears. “After he killed Abigail, I mean. He cut her throat, and then he stabbed me to death. There was so much blood… spraying from her throat… he stabbed… so many times…”
“Why didn’t you call?” he asked. “I could have come to you.”
“I didn’t feel safe there,” she said. “I couldn’t be alone, not for one more second. I know he’s locked up, but… It felt like he was about to walk in the door. It still feels like that.”
“Well, I’m here now, and no one’s going to walk through these doors. Not without getting through me.” He raised her up from his lap and looked deep in her eyes. “I’m glad you chose me to come to,” he said.
“I don’t have anyone else.”
He swiped a tear from her cheek with his thumb. “You don’t need anyone else,” he said. “I’m here for you.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips across her forehead. “I’ll always be here for you.”
“I know.” She tilted her head up to him. “Hannibal…”
“Shh… I know.” He pressed his mouth against hers. She welcomed the kiss, coming back with soft, slow movements. The quiet sounds of their kiss mingled with the crackle of the fireplace and the patter of rain on the roof.
“I knew you would understand,” she said after they parted. “I… Is it wrong that I want you when I think about him?”
“No,” he replied. “Not wrong. We’re the only two men you’ve ever truly cared for. Am I wrong?”
“You’re not wrong,” she said. She kissed him again, harder this time, more urgently.
“Your emotions are confused. Your heart is torn in different directions, is it not? And one is to…” he trailed off.
She leaned back and stared at the flames as they licked their way up the fireplace to the chimney. “No, you can say it. One is to a psychopath.”
“A psychopath?” he asked. “I thought you believed Will wasn’t in control when he… acted.”
“I was fooling myself,” she said. “And my feelings for him have never been concrete. Not like my feelings for you.” She turned to him with a slight smile. “My feelings for you are bedrock.”
“God, you’re beautiful,” he said, and leaned in for another kiss. He gently pushed her back against the armrest and moved his body over hers. He kissed her neck, her collarbones, and the exposed flesh of her chest before returning to her lips. She whimpered against him and folded her arms around his back to pull him deeper into the kiss.
“Hannibal…” she whispered, “would you take me to bed?”
“Of course,” he said. “You’ll be able to sleep in my arms. This I promise you.”
“No nightmares?”
“Not one,” he said. He rose from the couch and took her in his arms. “Come,” he said. “We’ll have a nice rest.”
“I’d like that,” she said.
He carried her from the room, leaving the fire smoldering in embers. The last of them winked out just as sleep took her under.



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