Note: Many thanks to mjf2468 for linguistic help and suggestions. 😀
Victoria was tidying up the shelves in the back room. It was high time because spring and spring cleaning were approaching. At one point, she reached from the top shelf for a box she did not recognize.
“What is this and where did it come from?” she thought.
She opened the box and found several bottles with different labels there. “The Ten Potions of Doctor Henry Wayne. Strength. Passion. Love. Everlasting love shall bloom twixt the man and woman who partake this potion within the first sight. Could that be possible?”
She decided to test them, and the strength seemed the most harmless to her. She smiled because she had an idea about how to test them.
xxx Zorro xxx
Victoria and Mendoza were sitting at the table over the potions box. “Doctor Henry Wayne is nothing but a crackpot”, said Mendoza unconvinced. Victoria quickly answered “But what if these potions actually work, Mendoza? After all, people are capable of changing. ‘Love, Passion, Fear’. Look. ‘Strength’. Perfect for you. ”
Victoria tried to convince the sergeant. “All you can eat for a week…free.”
Mendoza’s eyes grew round when he imagined so much food. “All I can eat…for a week…free?”
Victoria nodded. “Free.” He takes the vial from her and drank. “Salut. See? I told you. Nothing. He’s a fraud, Doctor Wayne.”
Victoria lifts the case off the table and sets it on her lap. And it’s good that she did it because Mendoza pounded his fist on the table and it broke in half. Mendoza and Victoria stared at each other open-mouthed.
“This is incredible”, said Mendoza, who stood up and looked at his hand. “I don’t believe it. ” He went toward the bar, put his hands on two cross beams that stuck out from under the counter and lifted the whole bar off the floor several inches into the air.
Victoria got to her feet, open-mouthed as the other customers murmured excitedly. Mendoza set the bar back down with a thud then turned and looked smugly at Victoria. “All week. Free”.
Nobody noticed Diego de la Vega sitting in the corner, who listened intently to the conversation. He did not believe in the potions’ effects, but he began to wonder how he could use the whole situation to his own advantage. He had a feeling he knew which potion Victoria would use and for whom. If it succeeded maybe the 4 years of waiting would finally end and no one would be smarter.
xxx Zorro xxx
Victoria never knew when she would meet the masked bandit the next time, but he always showed up when something happened. And the sergeant’s show of strength was definitely worth it. That’s why she was preparing her own trap. Snares of Love. “Everlasting love shall bloom ‘twist the man and woman who partake this potion within each other’s sight.” She nodded then took the cork off the vial then took the cork out of the wine bottle. She poured the love potion into the wine bottle.
In the meantime, Zorro has crept into the tavern, but he had not yet revealed his presence. He watched from the secret of his beloved’s actions. He smiled and thought, “Victoria is sometimes so predictable.”
Victoria re-corked the wine bottle “This may be tricky. . . But if it works. . .”
She held the bottle out in front of herself as Zorro walked into the kitchen. “Victoria.” The beautiful tavern owner dropped the bottle but Zorro caught it on the top of his boot with a flick of his foot it flew into the air. Zorro smiled as he caught it. “Sorry if I startled you.”
“Oh, not at all, Zorro. It’s just I almost forgot what you looked like.”
Zorro looked a little sheepishly. “Well, I’ve been rather busy lately.”
Victoria continued even more sarcastically. “Of course. There’s always someone in danger.”
“Fortunately at the moment, that’s not true.” He approached her and put his hands tenderly on her shoulders.
“You mean you risked coming here just to see me?” The first surprise was over and she decided to flirt a little.
“A risk well worth the reward of your kiss.” Zorro leaned down, intending to kiss her but she pushed him away.
“You know, you’ve never actually told me how you feel about me.”
The masked renegade looked a bit affronted “Surely you know how I feel.”
Victoria said coyly “Yes, but it’s always nicer when I hear it.”
Laughter from the main room of the tavern was heard just before de Soto walked through the curtained doorway into the kitchen. He stopped in his tracks when he saw his archenemy. Their meeting ended as usual. De Soto called out the lancers, pulled out his sword, only to meet the black fist and drop unconscious to the floor.
“Our time together is always too brief.” Zorro said.
Victoria thought she must try “I was just hoping we could toast our mutual feelings together.”
Zorro put his hand on her cheek. “A wonderful idea. Perhaps tonight later. Adios.” With ordinary skill, he climbed into the tall kitchen window and disappeared before the lancers could catch up to him.
xxx Zorro xxx
Victoria bade farewell to the last patrons and prepared a tray with a bottle of wine and two glasses. Zorro promised he would return, so she preferred to be prepared. Zorro watched her preparations closely from the shadows. Everything was going according to plan. All he needed was a witness, preferably Mendoza, the greatest gossip. Or de Soto himself, though it could be dangerous. How to lure a sergeant to a tavern without arousing suspicion?
The dashing hero changed clothes to his usual pants and caballero jacket and went towards the barracks. He had no problem finding Mendoza.
“Hola sergeant, I saw your unusual show of strength today.” He knew that a good-natured soldier likes to colour his exploits a bit.
“Hola Don Diego. Dr Wayne’s mixture was all I needed for the strength of a bull. Now I will be the best soldier and I will definitely catch Zorro.” he relaxed proudly and pulled his jacket down sharply.
“You have to celebrate such an occasion, I invite you for a glass of wine for our hero.” and the two of them went to the still open tavern. Victoria was about to close when she saw friends approaching. She sighed in resignation but asked with a smile. “May I help you?”
He saw a tray with a bottle and teased her. “I see you have open wine. Is that aldia? Great for a toast.” Victoria chased them away from the bar, scared. “No, this aldia is for a special occasion. Wait here and I will bring something equally good to celebrate.” She turned and hurried into the cellar.
She came back with another bottle and poured into two glasses for her friends. Diego and Mendoza erected them. “Salut for the strongest man in Alta California”.
The sergeant’s smile was more than radiant. “Thank you, Don Diego.” And they both drank from their glasses. The young caballero reflected himself and turned to the tavern owner. “And you Victoria will not drink for the future successes of our dear friend?” Before the woman could protest, Diego took the carafe from the tray and poured her a portion of her favourite aldia. She hesitated because she knew that it was not ordinary wine. However, she saw the sergeant’s smile begin to disappear, so she decided not to disappoint him with the lack of good wishes. “Finally Zorro will come later, so it’s okay if I drink a little now”, she thought.
She raised her glass. “Salut for our dear sergeant” and drank.
They joked together for a moment when Diego began to sniff. He turned to the young lady. “Victoria, you are a great cook, but didn’t you leave something on the stove? Something smells of burning …”
“I don’t feel anything, but I’ll go check it out.” As soon as she disappeared behind the curtain, Diego grabbed the decanter from the tray and poured himself another glass, winking knowingly at his friend. “I love aldia too, and this is a special occasion after all.” He also poured the previous wine into a glass of Mendoza, who didn’t mind.
“Nothing burns, I don’t know what’s up with Diego’s sense of smell,” Victoria said coming back to the room. She found them halfway to the next toast.
“It must be your best performance in life. Now or never.” the young caballero thought.
“I don’t know for what special occasion you kept this bottle, but it’s the best aldia I’ve had in a long time,” Diego said nonchalantly. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist not trying at least a little bit.” All the blood drained from Victoria’s face. She turned to Mendoza. “Did you also try some of that wine, Sergeant?”
Escalante’s explosive temperament was known in the area and no one wanted to be at its end. The soldier swallowed loudly and denied it. “Not a drop. And Don Diego didn’t drink much either …”
Such a poor excuse angered her seriously. “To this wine, I added Dr Wayne’s love potion, ‘everlasting love shall bloom’ twixt the man and woman who partake this potion within each other’s sight ‘. It was supposed to be for Zorro, not for Diego.”
“Now is the time for me to show,” thought the young Don.
Diego threw off the mask he had worn for a long time and let hidden feelings come out. He took her hand, placed a tender kiss all the time looking straight into her eyes. “You need a man of flesh and blood who’ll never leave your side. Not any elusive bandit. You should have a loving husband and children.”
Surprised Victoria saw in the eyes of a calm and passive friend, love and passion she would never have suspected. She couldn’t look away from him. “Well, that’s true.”
Mendoza stared at them in shock.
Diego turned her hand over and kissed the inside of her palm in a very intimate gesture. Still hypnotizing he declared, “You need a man. Like me.” The charming young lady felt a whole wave of emotions. When she looked at those vivid blue eyes her heart was beating in a crazy rhythm, the temperature in the room rose and she felt an overwhelming hum. “You mean, like you?”
They both looked at each other intently and forgot about the whole world.
Their lips met in a tender kiss that lasted until Mendoza, surprised and ashamed, stepped back and trip over the stool. Trying to catch his balance, he hooked on the tray and broke the carafe.
In all stories, Victoria breaks up with Zorro, waits for some time and Diego begins a courtship. It all takes time. I thought that potions might speed things up a bit 🙂
All comments are appreciated.