In 1808, newly promoted Captain Frederick Wentworth is impatient to have a ship. He and Commander Timothy Harville figure posing as smugglers to catch the real thing in the act will grab the Admiralty’s attention. They set out on the frigid Irish Sea at Christmastime to put their plan into action. Anne Elliot’s father is pleased to find passage to Dublin so cheap at the holidays. He is not so pleased when all are taken captive by a band of smugglers. Or rather Wentworth posing as one.
A Plan of His Own Making is a Persuasion What-If in which Frederick Wentworth literally saves Anne’s life and saves her from murderous smugglers, and in return, Anne does likewise for Frederick.
PG-17 for adult situations and mild sensuality. You are welcome to read this story here, HERE if you prefer reading in a full page format. If you are new to Plan, the easiest way to catch up is to click on A Plan of His Own Making in either Categories or Tags. This will bring up all the postings and you can navigate from there.
This story is posted free-of-charge to readers, but is understood to be a rough first draft. As it is a work-in-progress, it’s all up for grabs and is subject to change when going through the rewriting process. In other words, what you read here may not be in the final, published edition. You are free to read and link to but please do not copy any of the story. It goes without saying there will be boatloads of misspellings, grammar goofs, and the occasional glaring continuity error; these will be fixed in final editing so just read and enjoy. — SK
A PLAN OF HIS OWN MAKING
As Elizabeth led her through Lady Dalrymple’s house, Anne wondered how her father reacted to it. Everything was just slightly out of sorts and haphazard. The colours of the curtains were too bright, elements of architecture were too large for their context, and what bits of furniture she could see were left over from a by-gone period and more than looking their age. She knew her father’s exacting standards would be violated by the absence of a dignified order.
“You may leave me and see to my clothes.” Anne dismissed the maid sent to help her. At first, she hurried through the bath, but slowed as the hot water eased away the tension and fear. She was finally warm through, and clean after days of only feeble attempts at cleanliness. The idea that she would sleep in a decent bed tonight and wake to her customary life was at first luxurious. As she soaked, all that became insignificant. Now, when she compared the comforts and the company of her family to Frederick, she would far rather have his company in any dirty cottage, with even old Tomas in residence rather than be where she was.
She rested her cheek against the edge of the copper tub and wondered just where Frederick was at precisely that moment. Surely, he is back to the cottage by now. If that were the case, he would be on foot by now, making his way over the cold and rocky shore south to the meeting place. If he was anything like her, the approach of evening would bring with it hunger. He had every confidence that Harville would be waiting still at the designated inn. One way or another, she prayed that he would be fed, warm, and sheltered soon.
She reluctantly finished the bath and prepared for bed. She had no expectation that she would be required downstairs for the rest of the evening. Her nightclothes were fetched and she was dressed. As the clean cotton flannel warmed against her skin, she felt a pang of guilt that she was safe, and that Frederick was, perhaps, still on the edge of existence.
When Frederick drove the cart into the yard, there had been several other men listening to Tomas. Tomas had smiled and indicated he should go into the house. He went to the door and it opened immediately. There stood Maria. The afternoon light played through her red hair, highlighting its gold and chestnut hues. She was just as lovely as ever, and, since his talk with Anne, he trusted her even less than he had before.
She brought him in and sat him at the table. Food was laid before him and as he ate, Maria told him more than he could have ever hoped to learn on his own.
“Tomas is growing too old to do much anymore, so I thought he could teach some other, younger men to do heavy work. That old gourd on his shoulders has more knowledge of these waters and the shoreline than any other I know. And he knows by sight most of the cutters and their captains.” At this, she paused and stared at him.
There was no mistaking the lust in her eyes. His desire stirred and intensified. Taking Maria to his bed was a wretched idea. Wentworth had every intention of living through this mission and there was no telling what Tomas might do to any man caught meddling with the woman who carried his child. He pictured Anne walking away from the cart in the dirty alleyway behind her aunt’s house. It was not for any faithfulness to Anne that he must put aside any ideas about this willing woman, but for his own preservation.
It was clear that having relations with a stranger for the fun of it was not disgusting to Maria. If Tomas knew, and ignored such behaviour, might the child be someone else’s? The questions her antics raised were legion. Regardless, he must somehow remain clear-headed while keeping her at arm’s length; and still encourage her confidence.
“Was Tomas ever in service?” It was a ridiculous question. The hostility to the Crown in this part of Ireland was thick as porridge, but as a diversion the question held promise.
Maria threw back her head and laughed. It was a curious mixture of a throaty heartiness and a delicate clarity. Again, Frederick’s desire for her stirred.
He rose and dipped some water from a crock at the far end of the table and rebuked himself. It was bad enough he couldn’t control his own body, but to desire a woman expectant by another man was lower than he’d ever sunk before. “I just wondered how he came to know so much.”
Maria joined him and stood close enough for him to feel the warmth of her body. “Good God, no. Tomas in service is a joke of such proportions … “ Her voice faded.
He turned and she was again staring at him. “We were speaking of Tomas … ”
“Tomas was once a very handsome man I am told. Much like you, I suspect.” She smiled and took a drink from his tankard. “Don’t worry, there has been a great deal of hard living between then and now. I doubt you will look so battered in your old age.” The tip of her tongue touched her lower lip to catch a drop of water pooled there.
He cleared his throat, took another drink, and said, “There is no telling what the future brings, and I have now chosen a much harder road than before.” It was a truth told without thinking. Again he thought of Anne. She wasn’t in the alleyway, but a summer garden from years ago. One soft kiss …
The whole endeavour was in jeopardy because of his unbridled passions. He moved back to sit.
Maria cut him off. “You needn’t be ashamed of being a man, you know. It is perfectly natural.” She tilted her head and shaded line of her jaw and her exposed neck made him begin to sweat. Her soft hands took his and put them on her swollen belly.
Frederick was suddenly free of any sort of desire. The surprise of Maria’s child being a bundle of clothes worked a sort of magic on him.