+++Spaghetti alla Bolognese+++
Alana didn’t think he was serious at first, but when she arrived at Hannibal’s home the following Friday afternoon there was an apron laid out on the stool she usually perched on while Hannibal cooked. She stood looking down at it for a moment, then up at Hannibal with a questioning look.
“I said I was going to teach you to cook” He said amicably “You don’t want to spoil your clothes, do you?”
Alana picked up the apron, expecting to find it voluminous on her petite frame. Instead it fit perfectly, like Hannibal had bought it especially for her, and in all likelihood he had.
“Okay, now what?” Alana asked, an amused grin spreading across her face. Hannibal stepped behind her sweeping her hair up off her face with his hands.
Alana got goosepimples from the intimacy of the touch and the chills continued as Hannibal began to braid her long hair into one neat rope.
“It is important to protect food from contamination and any lose hair could easily end up in someone’s dinner. It is best to keep it out of the way” He explained as he worked. When he finished the braid, Hannibal gently placed his hands on Alana’s shoulders “Much better’ He said finally.
She turned back to face him, hoping the flush in her cheek wasn’t too obvious. Alana enjoyed Hannibal’s touch more than she cared to admit to anyone, even herself.
“Tonight I will teach you an Italian classic. Spaghetti alla Bolognese.” Hannibal said with a theatrical flair.
“I can make that. I’m not completely incompetent” She snorted into the beer Hannibal had poured for her.
“But you buy the sauce bottled, yes?”
Alana gave a nod.
“You must learn to make it from scratch. It’s much healthier and it tastes better too. First step, onion.” He placed an onion on the chopping board, moving over so Alana could slide in beside him. “You want to know the trick to cutting up onion?” He asked. Alana nodded, listening intently. “There isn’t one” Hannibal said with a smile. He picked up a pair of plastic safety goggles and handed them to her. “These are the next best thing. Go on” He urged.
Alana felt a little silly in the goggles at first, but as she cut into the onion she found they were surprisingly effective. Hannibal watched every cut with a wince, eventually intervening. “If you’re not careful you’re going to lose a finger” he chided, reaching his arms around her and covering her hands with his own to show her the proper technique.
She giggled, giddy at Hannibal’s soft breath whispering in her ear. She could hear the amusement in his voice.
“Now the garlic” Hannibal instructed. He showed Alana how to peel the cloves easily with a knife “You want to bruise it before you dice it, like this” He used the flat of the knife to crush the clove. Alana tried it out, jumping a little at the hard crunching sound.
“Watch your fingers” Hannibal muttered again, correcting Alana’s grip as she did her best to finely chop the garlic. When she had roughly butchered the cloves he stepped in. “Like anything, you will improve with practice.” He gave her a pleased smile, she was doing well so far.
He plucked some sprigs of basil from a pot on his windowsill and gave them to Alana to chop filling the air with a clean, fresh scent.
Hannibal left Alana alone for a moment, ducking into the pantry and retrieving a jar of the passata he had made the previous summer. He was friends with a hobby farmer and bought out his entire tomato crop every year to stock his pantry.
“I thought you said nothing was bottled” Alana quipped, taking a sip of beer.
“I made this sauce from scratch. Besides it is merely an element of the recipe. Do you fancy beef or pork mince?”
“Beef” Alana called out. Hannibal returned with a small tupperware container of raw mince.
“Are you ready to cook?” Hannibal asked Alana, guiding her to a large frypan on the stovetop.
“I thought you were going to teach me? What if I mess it up? You can’t serve some slop that I cooked to Jack and Will.” Alana was a little panicked.
Hannibal came up behind her, lightly resting his hands on her hips “I will be here the whole time. You’re a graduate of Johns Hopkins, Alana, you can do this.” He planted a quick peck on her ear. “Ready?”
Alana let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. “Ready. Okay so, I fry up the garlic and onion first, right?”
“Right. You want it just to soften a little” Hannibal inhaled her perfume which had mixed with the scent of the frying onion.
She stirred the onion until it became translucent.
“Now add the mince, stir it around and make sure it’s all separated. You just want to make sure it’s browned.” Alana blushed at the directions that Hannibal was whispering like sweet nothings into her ear. She stiffened a little, trying to maintain her composure.
“Okay” she said after a few minutes “What now.”
“Now we add the passata, a few olives, and let it simmer a while” Hannibal stepped out from behind her to open the jar for her. Alana stirred in the sauce and the olives while Hannibal put the pasta on to cook.
Alana noticed Hannibal’s absence now he was no longer nuzzled against her back. She downed the remainder of her beer in one gulp in order to calm her nerves.
“What time are we expecting Will and Jack?” Alana asked, attempting to be casual as she and Hannibal circled each other, gradually moving closer, in some bizarre dance of predator and prey.
“We’re not” Hannibal said quietly as he stepped close to Alana’s face. She drew in a shaky breath as Hannibal lifted his hand to stroke her cheek and part her pink pout with his thumb.
Alana needed no more invitation than that, folding easily into Hannibal’s embrace and accepting his kiss. She tilted her head back to give him better access to her mouth, amazed at the soft sounds of pleasure emanating from her throat.
Hannibal held Alana steady, not allowing the heat of the kiss to burn out of control while there was cooking to be attended to. Reluctantly, he pushed Alana away as the egg timer went off. She looked lost for a moment until the sharp smell of the pasta sauce brought her back to Hannibal’s kitchen.
Accepting a wooden spoon from Hannibal, Alana tasted the sauce. It was delicious as he had promised, and Alana surmised that soon he would have her bottling her own tomatoes.
“Are you hungry, Alana?” Hannibal asked, the question loaded with innuendo.
“Yes” She replied in a low voice “But not for food.”
“Good” Hannibal replied. He carefully moved the pans off the heat and scooped Alana into his arms, carrying her upstairs to his bedroom.