I enter the office with a purpose.
What will happen if I forced her to revisit her memories?
Will she crumble? Will she give in to fear? Will she fight?
What will she do, if I ask her to make love to me in that room, where another man nearly took her life?
True, she doesn't want to be friends… but will she falter?
I sit with her, play with her, tease her with my words. I unnerve her, and smile about it.
She's almost as good at hiding as I am.
Her eyes flicker to mine, full of emotional distance, at the end of the session. "I think you need to see another therapist."
"Are you compromised, Dr. Du Murier?" I unbutton my coat and lean against the back of the couch.
Even this casual motion affects her. She strokes her hair, making sure it covers the mark on her throat. I intentionally look at the curve of her neck and slowly lift my eyes to hers.
"I'm retired, Hannibal."
My mouth twitches, "But not with me, so you must have another reason."
"Given our… history, I'm not sure I'm the one you should confide in."
She's always so still, so artfully composed, trying to hide the fear she feels even with me.
That patient did more to her than I thought.
"I would have thought our history makes us more compatible."
Her fingers pick at the armrest. "Oh?"
"I did kill a man to save you."
The tip of her peep-toed shoe digs into the carpet. "You did."
"And you covered it up with the police, so you must… trust me."
Glancing at the clock, she pushes away from the chair. "It's time for our glass of wine… our last drink together."
"As patient-and-therapist or as colleagues?" I follow her into the kitchen.
She removes two glasses from the cupboard. "That's cold."
"You did say we're not friends." I take the bottle out of her fingers and open it, staring into her eyes. Her face colors and she again touches the back of her neck where he left a mark. I pour wine and smile, offering it to her. Our fingers touch and she waits to tip her glass against mine. The clink echoes in the perfect, spotless kitchen. Her habits are like mine, neat down to the alphabetically arranged spice rack.
Can I get her to break her conformed life? Her rigidity?
Her senses are heightened around me. I'm too close for her comfort but she doesn't move away.
I lean against the counter. "You can't stay in this house forever."
Lifting her brows, she says, "Who's the therapist now?"
"You said I wasn't your patient anymore… that makes me a colleague… and you can't let what happened stop you from living."
It's warm in the kitchen but she doesn't take off her jacket. It comforts her to wear it, to have a barrier against me. "This from the man who says he has no friends?"
"Well, you did turn me down."
Her tongue plants firmly in her cheek and she smirks at me.
"You must return to society… go out to the opera…" My finger traces a pattern on the back of her hand, against the counter. "Let the touch of a man excite rather than threaten you."
Sexual tension holds her captive; she doesn't move.
I sit down my glass. My fingers move to her chin, lifting it to meet my gaze. "You can't let him control you."
Even my light touch arouses her but she pulls back slightly. I don't touch her again, merely gaze at her. Quiet fills the house until the air conditioning kicks on.
"Maybe staying indoors helps me feel safe… for now."
Indicating the kitchen, I ask, "Why not sell it? The first thing you tell abused patients is to move away from what inhibits them."
"We all deal with things in our own way." Her chin lifts and juts out. "I refuse to run away from my past."
My brow goes up. "Then you still sleep in your bedroom?"
"No, I've moved into the guest room temporarily." Defensively, she puts her glass on the counter.
I try not to smile and indicate the stairs. "Show me."
"Are you my therapist now?"
Shrugging, I answer, "I'm merely curious."
Her pause is full of suspense before her heels click on the tiles, as she guides me up the stairs. I follow, my hand brushing hers on the hand rail.
No evidence of the assault remains.
She opens the door but doesn't step across the threshold. I enter and approach the foot of the bed. "This is where he fell?"
"You should know. You put him there."
My eyes wander the space, with nothing out of place. "This is your room. You should be in it, fill it with life."
Resentment in her eyes, she enters.
I want her to remember. I put my hands on my hips, under my blazer. "Where did he first touch you?"
She indicates the door. "I slammed it but he forced it open."
Lifting her chin, a flash of apprehension in her face, she does. I step closer, making her aware of my presence. My voice softens, "And this is where he wrapped the tie around your neck?"
My nearness causes her entire body to go rigid but I don't move. I'm close enough to smell the scent of her shampoo. "And then?"
"Then he dragged me across the room to the bed."
Our shadows merge against the far wall. I whisper, "Show me."
Her tongue touches the rim of her mouth. "Hannibal…"
Tilting my head, I say, "Humor me."
Brushing past me, she sits on the end of the bed. "Happy?"
"You don't… feel anything?"
She brushes a strand of hair out of her face, her nervous tell. "Should I?"
"Why did you leave this room?"
Crossing her legs, she leans back on one hand. "I didn't want to sleep in the same room as a corpse."
"Then you need a new memory, to replace it with."
She laughs and asks, "Are you using my own tactics on me?"
I rest against the bed at her side and shrug. "Is it working?"
Our hands rest near one another and she eyes them. "You shouldn't be up here, as a patient."
"What about as a colleague?" I touch her skin with my finger.
She pulls it away. "Especially not as a colleague."
"And certainly not as a friend," I quip.
Her cheeks redden and she moves away from me. "I warned you to keep professional relationships professional and distant, even with Will Graham."
"Will Graham interests me less than you do."
Hand on the door, she turns to me. I approach and touch her chin, tracing my finger along its curves. Her lashes flutter.
"Your perfume is roses this time, not your usual scent."
I lean in and breathe, barely touching her. Her entire body responds to my nearness, both with desire and fear. Trailing my fingertips to the nape of her neck, I part her lips with mine.
Our tongues meet and her resistance fades; her heart quickens. But she pushes against my chest. "We can't, it's not ethical…"
I kiss her again. Everything in her resists, but she chooses to give in. My mouth moves to her throat, pressing her against the door. Warmth rushes through her, arousal. My hand slides under her jacket, pushing it off her shoulders.
She twists the door handle, wanting out of the room. My knee knocks it shut again. Irritation flashes across her face.
I unzip her dress and drop it to the floor. My lips return to her throat. I lay her out where he pinned her down, climbing on top of her. Her shoes hit the floor. Every touch is electric, erotic in her excitement and uncertainty. I kiss her again, letting the soft curves of her body meld against mine. Her slip slides upward with my guidance.
Her breathing quickens into panic and she stops me. I force her hands into the covers, holding her down as she breathes heavily. Our mouths meet and I taste her fearful excitement.
Will she stop me?
My lips move downward and she shuts her eyes.
She is where she was when he climbed on top of her and tried to strangle the life out of her. Her head tilts back the same way, her mouth opens… this time in surprise as our bodies join. Slow, steady movement unites us, two marble figures locked in mutual fascination.
It's sex, nothing more.
I ease up on her wrists and her fingers glide up my arms. She knows as much about the male body as I do the female one. Our kiss is gradual, teasing, as our bodies find harmony together. She wraps her arms around me and whispers, "Why did you kill him?"
"He deserved it."
Our mouths meet with renewed excitement. The bed trembles and I hold her tightly, letting her carry me with it. We collapse against one another, sweat glistening on our skin, our breathing labored.
Pushing gently against me, she forces me to meet her gaze. "It's just sex… isn't it?"
My blank expression gives her relief. She leans on her arm, her fingertips tracing my forearms. "I hope someday you find someone you can make love to for other reasons, someone who will see behind the mask you wear."
"I doubt that."
Darkness gathers around us as the sun sets. Rolling off the far side of the bed, she pulls on a robe. I reach over the side of the bed and pull a cigarette out of my case. "May I?"
She nods and stands, tying the sash at her waist. "Do you want food?"
"Let me fix it for you. I'll be down in a minute."
Her shadow trails across the spot on the carpet where a man died. And I smile.