As I See Fit - Part 7e
The sun was casting sharp shadows on the carpet of the Admiral's bedroom.
The clock had chimed seven, then eight times. Their night, sequestered away
from his duties and her family, was drawing to a close. Neither of them
seemed willing to take those last few steps to leave the comfortable room
that had sheltered them as they found a new devotion to each other.
Edward Pellew stood behind his wife. Millie had been sent
to the kitchen
to be sure that breakfast would be on the table when they came down, and so
the Captain could assist his wife in dressing. Millie didn't approve of a
gentleman dressing, or undressing for that matter, his spouse. Edward didn't
care what Millie thought, but Amanda did, so to the kitchen Millie went.
His thoughts, usually on the ship at this time of day, were
centered on the
woman before him. She sat on one corner of a padded bench at the foot of the
bed, a cheval glass before her. He picked up the laces of her bodice to
tighten and tie them. He dropped the lace ends and let his hands come to rest
on her shoulders.
His eyes fell across her breasts, they seemed to be straining
fabric of the bodice of the dress, and he had not even begun to tighten the
laces. "Amanda?" A little frown fell across his face, the inverted Y showing
between his eyes.
She looked up, into the mirror, smiling at his reflection. "Yes, Edward?"
"Did you know that you feel different somehow? You are rounder, softer."
"Yes I know." Her answer sounded a little irritated,
he was startled at her
tone. "That's why I didn't have any stays on last night. Nothing fits up
there anymore. What have you done to me? You've made them grow!"
"Me!" His hands came up in mock surrender and he
backed up a step, then
searching her face and finding no malice and a hint of a grin just for him,
he regained his position behind her and replaced his hands on her shoulders.
"Yes. You. Before when no one had anything to do with
them, they stayed where
they belonged. Now,Ä¶now! Look!" She spread her arms and he did look his eyes
prompting his hands to move. They started on their own accord to slide
forward over her shoulders and across her chest. "Edward, they will have the
food on the table and father will be waiting too." She leaned back against
him, the laces of her bodice forgotten. His fingers ran between the fabric of
her undershift and the soft skin of her swollen breasts, urging them to
He leaned over to nibble at the top of her right ear. "Mandy."
. She twisted in her seat to respond to him. She reached out and he moved
slightly away, the change in his position telling her everything without
another word from him. He slid his hands further down between shift and skin,
his fingers playing across her belly. Not removing his hands he pulled her
back into position against his thighs.
'I want her right now.' The thought came to him, unbidden,
as she tilted her
head back to further mold to his body. He felt her hands caress his legs; it
was physically impossible for her to touch him anywhere else. The bed had not
been made, and they both were not completely dressed, he glanced at the
clock. No time! He heard her gasp as he slid his fingers beneath the lacing
of her small clothes.
A knock sounded, very softly, on the double doors. "Sir?"
"Not now, Grimes." The words struggled out of him;
he could hear the receding
footfalls as the man walked away from the door.
His hands began their retreat and he gave her a final caress
response and seeing her body arch under his hands. "We don't have time, do
we?" She said as he leaned over to nip and suckle her earlobe. "Later?" She
added, giving his calves a last touch.
He nodded, pursing his lips, straightening up and reaching
for the laces.
Reality had invaded again and their idyll of the last twenty-four hours was
ending. He tugged the fastenings tight in frustration. She responded with a
gasp, "Looser, Edward, I can't stand them tight." He let the strings slide
through his fingers and then retied them.
"Do you need to get some new clothes before we go?"
"No. Millie and I will just need to go through what I
have packed again." She
turned to him. "Edward, I am sorry my body is changing. I didn't know
marriage would do this to me. Do you care?"
"Care? Why should I care? I didn't marry you for your
body." 'That was the
wrong thing to say.' He thought then quickly he added: "I rather like you
filled out a little." He started to bend over to kiss the top of her head
when she stood up suddenly from the bench, banging her head into his chin,
the hard blow knocking his teeth together and forcing him to take a step
backward to keep his balance.
"Oh, Edward! I'm sorry!" Her mouth was open, her
fingers covered her lips and
her eyes were wide with apology.
He rubbed his jaw. "It's nothing, m'dear. Maybe we'd better
go before you
He turned to pick up his coat from the end of the bed and spent
just a moment
to move his watch from the coat pocket to the pocket of his breeches. As he
faced the door he saw that she was pinning the white cap onto her hair.
"Why are you wearing that? I thought you didn't like it."
She smiled at him sweetly, and threw her fichu around her shoulders,
loosely across her swelling breasts. "I'm wearing it for a different reason,
He heard a new respect in her voice as she gave him his name.
He offered her
his arm. As she wrapped her hand around his elbow she continued, "Captain, I
am very proud to be your wife. It's been a hard thing for me to learn to
share you with your mistress. I see you look at her like I would like you to
look at me." He glanced down at her, wondering just what she meant. She
seemed to answer his unspoken question. "I am speaking of the Altamira,
Edward. Thank you for putting her aside for me."
"Amanda, you will always come first with me. The ship
is important, and you
are right, I love her. But, Mandy, not in the same way I love you. I would
quit the sea for you, Amanda Pellew." His arm pressed her hand into his side.
"Edward, I will never ask that. I love you." She
continued, "And I will share
you with your mistress. Just make sure that it's only the ship and me, for I
am a jealous, wanton woman." He heard the laughter in her voice. She didn't
look up to see his head cock back, his eyes crinkle at the corners and his
lips part just a little, his lower lip catching against his upper teeth, with
the slow smile that spread across his face.
The Pellews went down to breakfast.
Amanda's father said his goodbyes at the house on Mill Street.
He would not
be coming to the harbor. "War is coming." He had told them as they stood at
the dining table. Papers were strewn across its surface and Endicott's lawyer
and clerk had stood just a little apart. The older man signed copies of
Amanda had bent to pick up the quill when the solicitor removed
it from her
reach. Both Edward and Lawrence looked at him in surprise. "What is the
problem?" Lawrence asked.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Endicott, but Miss End, I mean, Mrs. Pellew
is no longer able
to sign in her own right. The law does not recognize her as an independent
Pellew could see her body stiffen as she stepped back to the
middle of the
room. Her arms crossed and her fingers found the ends of the ties of her
fichu and rolled themselves into it. His head tilted with a look of worry. He
had seen her do this before when she was angry or upset.
The lawyer held the pen out to him. "Captain, you must
sign for her. Mr.
Endicott, the rest of the papers are ready now." Lawrence took the other pen
that was offered to him.
Edward followed Endicott down the table signing just below
his father in law.
Pellew's eyes growing wider as he read and signed each succeeding paper. The
legacy Endicott was settling on them was a fortune. He did the sums in his
head, well over a hundred thousand pounds!
Amanda fumed with banked anger. Edward could feel her eyes
boring into his
back. He looked around at her. 'She's finally realized she's property too!'
He thought. 'This is not a good thing.' Her arms were crossed and her lips,
lips that had smiled so lovingly at him earlier, were drawn into a line
across her face. He knew she had been itching to read these contracts and
deeds. She might have made more sense out of them than he was; he was
scarcely able to comprehend everything he was putting his name to.
He was reading the last document on the table. This one he
was able to
comprehend and because of its nature, and he was totally absorbed in it. He
was taking extra care to be sure that the solicitor had included all of the
language required by the service to make sure that any monies owed him by the
Navy would flow to her after his death. It also bequeathed all his
possessions into her care. He laid the paper down and picked up the quill,
dipped it and began to sign.
WHAM. The door to the back of the house slammed shut.
Startled, his hand jerked, sputtering the ink across the paper
his signature. "Amanda?" He said as he looked around, Lawrence was standing
in the middle of the room, his mouth open in shock and surprise.
"Can this be fixed?" He almost shouted as he waved
the paper at the
"Yes, Captain, but we will need to rewrite it." The
man answered coming
forward and pulling out a blank sheet of paper.
"Then do it. I will return in a few moments."
The man nodded and reached for the original document. Pellew
wife from the room, almost slamming the door as loudly as she had done.
"Sarah Amanda, what the hell is wrong with you?"
He was shocked at the tone
of his own voice, he had never been angry with her before. She sat on a
settle next to the kitchen hearth her arms crossed and bolt upright. She did
not so much look at him as she looked through him. He crossed the room in a
few quick strides and pulled her to her feet more forcefully than he probably
should have. "Amanda, this is embarrassing, in front of those gentlemen? What
were you thinking of to do such a thing?" He said, his voice raised, as if to
a crewman, who had not obeyed an order.
He watched her face change from angry to frightened. He realized
that she was scared of him.
He dropped his hands from her shoulders and closed his eyes.
'Please God,' He
thought, 'I would not have her frightened of me. I would never harm her.'
Still collecting himself he clasped his hands together, the fingers of his
right closing with his wedding ring between his thumb and fingers. He rolled
it around his finger.
She stood silent before him, her lower lip pulled between her
sniffed once. 'She's going to cry' He thought amazed at what he was seeing.
He had never in his life seen her weep. His arms went around her as the first
tears started to fall. She sniffed again, this time the tears made her sound
watery. She put her hands on his chest and started to push away from him, he
tightened his arms and pulled her closer.
"Oh, Teddy. I'm." She stopped to sniff again, more
congested than before.
"Going to get your u-nee-form coat all messed."
A short, sharp laugh escaped him. He didn't loosen his arms.
"I don't care.
It can be cleaned." But he reached inside his coat and pulled out his
handkerchief anyway. He wiped at her nose. "Now, tell me what's wrong."
"What are all those papers you are signing?" She
asked. She took the cloth
from him, blew her nose on it and thrust it back into his hand. The tears
were still flowing, and her sobs made the words disconnected.
"It's a transfer of some properties from your father to
you, and my last will
and testament." He answered shaking the balled up cloth open and flipping it
over so the dry side was to his palm.
"Teddy! Your last will and testament! No!" Her face
screwed up in a way he'd
never seen before and with another sob she buried her face in his shoulder
'This is not going well.' He thought, 'Not well at all.' He
sat down on the
settle and drew her into his lap, cradling her head against his shoulder
again. He wiped at her tears and gave her the hankie. This time he would let
her keep it.
"Oh, Teddy, you can't die!" Her arms went around
his neck, the cloth
disappearing over his shoulder in her hand and her face buried against his
collar. Her tears wet the neck and shoulder of his uniform, the handkerchief
unable to save the blue wool because it was balled up in her hand that was
still wrapped around his back. "You can't die and leave me like this!"
"Like what?" He was startled at his own answer. He
wanted to laugh, but he
kept his straight, concerned face. He pulled back to try to get a look at
her. What was she trying to tell him?
"Alone! You can't leave me alone!" She gave another
great sniff, trying to
draw the tears and the water that ran from her nose back in. He grabbed a
towel that was hanging on a drying rack in front of the kitchen fire, he held
it up to her nose.
"Blow." She did as she was told, and he was amazed
that she obeyed his
request. He kissed her forehead and let his head fall over to rest on hers.
He rubbed his jaw against the white lace of her bonnet. "Amanda," he
whispered, "You are a grown woman, stop your sniffling and tell me what is
The tears were slowing and she waited a few minutes, and a
couple of sniffs
before she answered. "Teddy, you are making decisions about my life without
asking me. I want to know what you and Papa have done."
He pulled his head away from hers and shook it back and forth
as he began to
talk. "Now look, Amanda, all I've done is to be sure that you are provided
for if something happens to me." She started to sit up. He pulled her back
down against his neck.
Lawrence poked his head into the kitchen. "Give us a few
Edward shouted. With a muttered apology his father in law backed out as
quickly as he had entered.
He continued to whisper to her, "Your father has deeded
over to me, to us
really, and you in particular, since I want no part of it, the two fabric
mills in England and the cotton broker business in New Orleans." He did not
add that these businesses would be impossible for Endicott to manage if war
He kissed her red eyes and wiped at the tears that still ran
down her face.
The wild sobbing had ceased, and she was listening to him. "Those contracts
are written in such a way that my now living heirs do not receive any of the
money or property. God knows I don't want Israel or Sam to get their hands on
that much money if I die without issue. You would never see a farthing of it.
Now, with these contracts, you receive it all."
"I'm not a person! I can't own those things now? Teddy!
That's just not
fair!" The beginning of another sob started, he stopped it with a kiss,
wetting his own face with her tears.
"Oh, m'dear, you are a person to me, a most beloved person,
but the crown
doesn't think so. I have to hold these things for you. My will is written
somewhat differently, and allows for our children, should we have any, and I
think we shall don't you?" He wiped at her face again and felt her body relax
against him. "Those children will inherit, under your guardianship, any funds
or property that we may hold together at the time of my death."
"I don't want to think about your dying, I don't even
want to talk about it,
Teddy. You can't die I tell you." The words were whispered, but it might as
well have been a shout.
"We have to. I command a ship of war. It's a dangerous,
A life I love and would not give up willingly. But men die in this profession
we have to face that fact. I have to be sure I have provided for you and for
She looked up at him, a hint of a smile showing through her
tears, "You want
"Yes, Amanda, I want children from you." Some strands
of that mahogany hair
had escaped from her cap; he brushed them back from her face. He touched her
cheek, a light caress and smiled at her. "Now, wanton woman, wipe your face
and straighten your, your, whatever this is," He picked up the tails of her
neck scarf, "And lets get the rest of this over with. Come and stand by me
and make sure that I have done everything right." He could not resist teasing
her. "My mistress awaits and she wants to go home."