1. I have no idea how Victoria’s mother was a name and don’t remember if it is in other fanfiction story. So in this story she was Isabella.
2. Thanks a lot for my beta readers mjf2468 and KariTBB.
Victoria, as with every day, helped her mother in the kitchen. Despite her fifteen years, she knew all the family recipes and cooking secrets. She knew them so well in fact that her mother could leave her in charge of the kitchen when she would go to San Paulo to pay off the mortgage for the tavern.
However, the patrons were served by her father or one of the brothers, for it was often not safe for an innocent girl to serve unruly men. Especially a girl who recently began to grow up into a beautiful adolescent.
She was alone this day and mixing the tamale dough when someone knocked. The kitchen door opened slowly and she saw the head of her best friend.
“Diego, buenos dias, come in”
Victoria knew that it was a strange friendship from the beginning. He, the only son of the richest caballero in the region, tutored at home, could spend time in the company of any of the noblest girls in the area. However, he chose her as a playmate – three years younger and the daughter of the tavern owner, who went to a village school and couldn’t even dance or hold her tongue, as expected from the caballeros’ daughters.
This strange friendship had resulted from the friendship of their parents, who often visited and supported each other. The death of Diego’s mother was a special time that cemented their relationship even more. Don Alejandro mourned his wife and could not cope with his son’s emotions, so Diego turned to his friend Victoria for comfort and company more and more with the absence of his father.
Diego often would run away from home and wander the wilderness alone, but always found his way to the tavern and to Victoria. She was the only witness to his tears. In her presence, he was not ashamed to show his pain and grief. A sisterly embrace allowed him to calm down and survive this difficult period.
Diego greeted her with a genuine smile and went inside, followed by Felipe, his eight-year-old pupil. The boy nodded at her and presented the basket he was carrying.
“Buenos dias Victoria. We brought a few bottles of wine from previous harvests for the tavern. My father thought the wine would be ripe enough and sent me for you to try.”
The girl took the basket and put it on the table. “Thank you, Diego, my parents have been mentioning this wine for several days. Sit down, have a drink of lemonade?”
“Sorry, but we can only stay for a moment. Father went to a cattle auction, and I’m taking Felipe to the coast, I want to show him the ocean and its impact on the terrain. We’ll probably be back tomorrow evening.”
Victoria looked at the boy who was jumping enthusiastically. Maybe Felipe was deaf-mute, but he mastered the art of mouth-reading. “But where will you sleep? There’s no settlement along the way!”
The young caballero smiled even wider. “Where? Under the stars, of course!” Everyone laughed.
The lad tugged the edge of Victoria’s skirt and began to sign something round with a tail and stroked his stomach. Diego grew serious and admonished the boy. “Felipe, that’s not nice. Maria packed us food for two days, including something sweet. You can’t want the famous Escalante apple pie when we already have enough food.”
Felipe was ashamed and lowered his head, but still glanced hopefully at the young cook. Victoria adored him and, whenever she could, spoiled him with a delicious apple pie. That’s how she gained his trust when Diego brought him here two years ago, scared and hiding behind Diego’s legs from every other person.
“No problem. I baked a cake yesterday with you in mind. I thought that during siesta I would exchange it for one of your adventure books.” Felipe immediately returned to good humour and reached up towards her. Victoria bent down and got a juicy kiss on the cheek and a firm hug.
“How I wish Diego would thank me for the cake in that way”, the girl thought.
“How I wish thank her for the cake in that way”, Diego thought.
They said goodbye and went off on their adventure, a huge smile adorning Felipe’s face.
xxx Zorro xxx
Victoria was washing the dishes when her father came into the kitchen with the last tray of empty mugs. “Here’s the last dirty dishes. Finish washing up and go to sleep. It was a hard and busy day for both of us. I am very proud of you, sweetheart, you not only cook as well as your mother, but you can also organize work in the kitchen very efficiently. You did great today. ” Her father was beaming with pride. He kissed her forehead tenderly.
The girl blushed at such appreciation. The Escalante family loved each other strongly and did not hesitate to show affection, but praises from their father’s mouth were not frequent and certainly deserved.
“Thank you, Father, I try my best. Are you sure you are not too tired to go to this bachelor party?”
The male half of the family was supposed to leave in the evening for the house of a friend whose son was set to marry. They were to stay there for the next day, attend the bachelor party and return the following evening. So Victoria and her mother had to deal with the tavern the next two days alone.
“No, I rested during siesta. The dining room is swept and the door is locked. Just don’t read too long, I know you. This de la Vega has a very bad influence on you”, he teased her a little, kissed her cheek and went to change.
Shortly afterwards he left with the excited Francisco and Ramone. When they went away, Victoria went to her room and, as her father had predicted, read about the adventures of Robin Hood until she was overcome by the sleep.
xxx Zorro xxx
The bustle in the kitchen woke her up. They had no guests, so she pulled the knife out of the drawer, quietly and carefully descended to the ground floor. She left it quickly when she heard her mother’s whisper. “Victoria, is that you?”
“Yes, it’s me.” She dashed towards her mother and hugged her fiercely. However, she felt that something was wrong.
“Quick, help me move him to my bed.” Without explaining anything else, they both headed for the kitchen. The room was dimly lit by embers in the oven, which they never extinguished. A ragged and dirty man sat on the floor, clutching his stomach in pain. Blood seeped through his fingers.
Victoria stood surprised. She wasn’t afraid of the stranger because her mother trusted him. The sight of blood and wounds was not unusual for her, after all, they lived in troubled times. She just didn’t expect a wounded man in the middle of the night. He smiled weakly and greeted. “Buenas noches senorita. I am sorry to disturb your peace at home.”
Victoria didn’t know what to say, so she just nodded. Together with her mother, they managed to drag him to her parents’ room. There Isabella skillfully undressed him and began to disinfect the man’s wound and changed the temporary dressing on it. Without a word, the girl lit a candle and provided all the necessary things for her mother – bandages, hot water, infusion of willow. Now was the time to act, later it would be time to explain.
After drinking a cup of willow tea, he fell asleep. Victoria swiftly cleaned up the blood from the dining room, kitchen and all the equipment her mother had used. She then sat quietly in the corner and waited for the story. Isabella changed the cold compress on the wounded man’s forehead.
Isabella began to talk quietly. “I was returning home when I saw bodies lying scattered on the way. I stopped and began to investigate what had happened there. All those killed had bandanas on their faces and ordinary clothes. They all had died from a sword or a pistol.”
Victoria couldn’t help interrupting and asked. “Revolutionaries?”
Her mother smiled, her daughter was smart and thought quickly. “Yes, I also found an abandoned military hat, so probably the soldiers killed them. Perhaps a few of them were wounded, so they left the bodies of the revolutionaries for later. I was about to go on when I heard a groan from behind the bushes. I went there and found him.” She pointed at the unconscious man.
“He probably lost consciousness during the skirmish and was considered dead. He must have been there for several hours because the other bodies were long cold. I put a temporary dressing on him and brought him here. On the road, he would have bled to death before tomorrow.”
Victoria got up from the stool and hugged her mother tightly to give her full support. “The Alcade can’t find out, can he?”
Isabella looked at her daughter. There was no fear in her eyes, only determination. “You know that people can die for helping revolutionaries.”
She was proud of the moral backbone and understanding of her youngest offspring when she heard Victoria’s answer. “You had to help him. He is a human being. Nobody deserves to die in the scorching sun and the dust of the road. Maybe we can cure him to full health. Mother, you are tired, go to my room and sleep, and I will be watching him. In the morning we will switch.”
Victoria settled down with a cold compress near the man’s head, and Senora Escalante went to bed together the strength to face the next day’s work.
xxx Zorro xxx
Victoria fought the insurgent’s fever for half the night. The bleeding stopped, but the man’s temperature continued to be high. The man was sleeping restlessly, but fortunately, he did not throw himself off the bed.
After sunrise, Isabella looked into the room and checked on the patient. When changing the dressing, they noticed that the cut was inflamed. Victoria looked up at her mother. “Maybe the doctor should see him?”
Senora Escalante shook her head. “The only doctor in the pueblo is a military doctor. It would be a death sentence for him. And the doctor will not be able to do anything more than we do, and certainly, his care would not be so good. I do not know if he will survive, but at least we can try. ”
Now by daylight, she could sew his wound. She washed it with willow extract when finished and bandaged it once again.
“Go to bed during breakfast time and I will prepare the tavern for morning patrons.” Tired Victoria did what she was told and dragged herself to her room.
xxx Zorro xxx
They had a long day, even though they were very busy. Usually, mother and daughter took care of the kitchen together, today Victoria had to prepare almost everything herself. During this time, Isabella took over her husband’s duties and circled between the tables while checking on their guests and taking orders.
Several times throughout the day one of them went to the Escalante’s room to check the revolutionary, change the compress and give him a cup of willow tea.
Isabella heard soldiers talking about yesterday’s ambush, but they hadn’t noticed the number of revolutionaries who had died to know how many corpses they should bring to the presbytery. She was relieved because it meant they would not look for her patient.
xxx Zorro xxx
During siesta, Isabella told Victoria to rest and changed the dressing again. The man’s condition was still unchanged, but at least that meant he did not get worse, either. “Funny, I don’t even know his name.”
Rest was very beneficial to the adolescent who made up for lost sleep. She handled evening orders with her usual vigour. However, she saw her mother was tired.
A half an hour before closing the tavern, only a few patrons were left at the tables – Don Ignacio with his son, Don Esteban and his sister and brother-in-law. They never caused problems and were always respectful, so Victoria whispered in her mother’s ear. “Go, rest, Mother. I will finish, I am not threatened by these patrons. When they go, I will close the tavern and clean everything. There is no point in both of us sitting downstairs waiting to close up.”
Isabella looked around the room and handed the tray back to her daughter. “You are right, you can handle it yourself and these patrons are known caballeros. Wake me up at midnight.” She answered so that only the adolescent could hear her. She bid the dons good night and went to bed.
Victoria collected the dirty dishes and took them to the kitchen. Meanwhile, two new guests were waiting for her there. “Diego, Felipe, why didn’t you come through the front door? No matter anyway. How was your trip?”
Despite the cheerful voice, the young de la Vega sensed something was worrying her. After all, they had been friends for years and he always could tell when she was in trouble – whether it was about stealing apples from the orchard or a scratched knee.
“I wanted to see you, not your mother, and you don’t really serve the guests. The tour was enlightening, but I’ll tell you another time. Victoria, is something worrying you?” He put his hands on her shoulders and looked seriously into her eyes.
The girl averted her gaze, and it was something extraordinary. They were always honest with each other, even if what they had to say was not pleasant. She shivered at his touch and hesitated to answer.
“You know you can tell me everything. We’re friends.”
Finally, she met his eyes. “Yes, I have some worries. But I can’t tell you anything. Not because I don’t trust you, but it is related to another person. I hope you will understand.”
“Great, she has a boyfriend and doesn’t want to tell me”, he thought but said something different out loud. “I understand and I don’t want to put you in an uncomfortable position. But promise me that if you want to talk to someone about it, you’ll come to me, okay?”
Victoria relaxed immediately. “Of course, Diego. I can’t imagine anyone else. Will you stay for some lemonade?”
“Yes, we would love to.”
They sat down with Felipe at the kitchen table, and the beautiful senorita poured them a cool drink. However, the usual banter was replaced by a heavy silence. Victoria washed a few stacks of plates and bowls, then left after half an hour to collect the remaining dishes and close the tavern.
During that time, the boys were watching her. Felipe also noticed the tension and made several signs. Diego nodded but did not answer. When his friend came back, he asked her gently, “Victoria, your brothers and father went to the bachelor party, but where is your mother? She usually takes care of the dining room. Is she sick?”
“As usual, very observant. Normally, I love his care and curiosity, but today they don’t help me.”
“No, my mother is in perfect health. She served patrons all day. But after yesterday’s trip to pay the mortgage, she looked tired and I offered to finish up by myself.”
The young caballero did not give up, although he was a bit afraid of answering. “You look tired, too. Don’t you sleep at night?”
“Please, tell me honestly. Who is the lucky man?” Diego thought to himself.
Victoria sighed. “I read the book longer than I planned, and then I couldn’t sleep, so I’m tired.”
“I hate not telling him the truth. Even if it’s not quite a lie.”
Diego stood up, took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. “Then sit down and rest.” He turned to his ward and said helping himself with signs, “Felipe, why don’t you sweep the room and I’ll finish washing the dishes?”
The boy was no longer in the kitchen when the girl began to protest. Diego didn’t listen either, just put his finger to her lips. They both felt the electricity going through them with his touch.
“Her lips are so soft. Will I ever have a chance to kiss them?”
“If his touch makes me feel warm, what would happen if he caressed the rest of my body, not just my lips?”
The caballero quickly withdrew his hand. “I see you are tired and I want to help you. That’s what friends are for and it wouldn’t kill me anyway. Are you afraid that I will break something?”
He tried to relieve the tension and began to juggle three plates skillfully. He definitely managed to divert her thoughts from the mysterious boyfriend.
Victoria squeaked and began to catch flying plates in panic. However, once she had caught all of them, she gave them back to her friend and smiled. Her smile was wide and wonderful and reached her eyes. She sat on the bench and let him finish the task.
As he washed the dishes, Diego talked about their trip and that Felipe almost fell into the water trying to chase seagulls. The cordial atmosphere returned and the caballero took a deep breath. She may have a boyfriend, but their friendship will not suffer.
His pupil returned with a broom, straightened to attention and saluted like a soldier with a twinkle in his eyes. Diego and Felipe said goodbye and went to the hacienda. Victoria had the opportunity to relax during their visit and went to the wounded man in a better mood.
Picture of Victoria comes from www.newworldzorro.com