Dooms day – she forgave him or not? 🙂
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The next evening found the two conspirators once again in the secret cave under the hacienda. Diego and Felipe both knew that the potion spell could end at any moment, although Diego had the quiet hope that his courtship would become a reality.
Felipe, as befits a good future lawyer, was looking for inaccuracies in the plan. He showed two fingers, first one pointed to his mouth and added a sign to indicate Victoria.
“Yes, for it to succeed we must tell my lovely bride tomorrow about the secret. And in such a way that she would forgive me.” Diego was more than nervous. He could fight a whole garrison of soldiers, duel with any swordmaster, or capture a pirate crew, but he feared the reaction of one small inn owner.
The boy touched the caballero’s arm lightly and continued to point. “She loves you, she will forgive you.” He smiled mischievously. “But knowing Senorita Escalante’s temper you better tell her in some secluded place.”
Diego sighed. “I thought to bring her here. Ultimately, the cave is soundproof.” A small grin crossed his face. “We just have to clear away all the breakable glass and sharp tools within reach. The last customer who caused her trouble in the tavern ended up with two broken plates on his head.”
They both laughed heartily at the memory of the situation. Not only did the troublemaker have a serious headache for several days, but he also had to pay for the plates.
The lad became serious and showed two fingers again and pointed to his father figure and Zorro’s clothes hanger. Diego rose from the chair he was occupying, walked over to the hanger, picked up a leather glove, and turned to his adopted son. “Jealous Zorro is the easiest part of this whole masquerade.”
This time, his pupil’s face was filled with fear and uncertainty.
xxx Zorro xxx
Victoria woke up earlier than usual. Grey dawn filtered shyly through the curtains. Despite the early hour, the young woman felt rested and relaxed. Surrounded by a cocoon of warm bedding, she let her thoughts wander. Subconsciously, they concerned a handsome bachelor and the moments spent together for the last two days.
Half-dreaming Victoria did not analyze words or deeds, she relished her feelings. His wide chest and surprisingly muscular shoulders made her feel safe. The low timbre of his voice whispering poems about love and devotion made her knees weak. But it was his gaze that mesmerized her as if he could look directly into her heart.
His gentle caresses and kisses, his tender words, made her feel loved and pampered. Since she was 15, she always had to rely solely on herself to face the hardships of running a tavern. Now she had the support and his arms willing to embrace. She felt at home, felt that she had someone to share her life with.
Her consciousness slowly came to the forefront. Victoria looked at her new painting hanging on the wall near the door and then at her hand, where a beautiful ring shone. “Stupid, you always had the support of Diego and his father. And you always felt safe and at ease with him. Did you have to drink love potion to realize you love him?”
A small voice on the back of the head, however, did not give up. “What about Zorro? You love him, you desire him and he loves you. Diego is the shadow of a man compared to Zorro.”
The owner of the tavern, fully awake, finally began to think not only about her feelings but also about recent events. “What does Zorro have that Diego doesn’t? Courage? Well, as Guardian editor Diego often places himself into the alcade’s rage. He went defenseless several times into the fight in order to calm the opponents. These are not cowardly deeds.”
“Passion? Maybe Diego is a weak-willed caballero on a daily basis, but his kisses and hot eyes betrayed that there is definitely more hidden beneath the surface.” A beautiful blush blossomed on the cheeks of the señorita. She felt the very evident proof of his passion yesterday as they said goodbye as he held her tightly in his arms and kissed her breathlessly.
A quiet knock interrupted her thoughts. She got out of bed with a beating heart and threw her robe over her nightgown. She hoped that the object of her thoughts was on the other side of the door. She lifted them and saw her fiance casually leaning against the door frame.
“Buenos dias, my princess.” He said, handing her the rose that had been hidden behind him.
“Buenos dias, Diego.” Victoria took the flower, sniffed it and kept her eyes on the caballero. She started teasing him lightly. “If you bring me roses at such a pace, you will soon strip the entire garden. What would your mother say?”
He took her free hand and kissed her. “Well, she’d probably order more shrubs.” How he loved her laugh at such a lame joke.
He added more seriously. “Mia novia, I’m kidnapping you today. Dress up, I’ll wait downstairs.”
His fiance tried to protest a little. “But Diego, I was out of town all day yesterday, the tavern won’t run by itself …” She paused in half sentences when their lips met.
After a while, they had to pause to catch their breath. “Don’t worry. I already talked to Pilar and Alice, they more than willingly agreed to replace you. Before the siesta, Felipe will come, help with cleaning.” He pointed to the door to her room. “In five minutes I will come and kidnap you, regardless of the outfit you wear.” He winked and headed for the main hall.
Startled, Victoria whispered “How bold of you!” She remembered her earlier thoughts. Definitely Diego is lacking nothing compared to Zorro.
xxx Zorro xxx
Victoria sat on the back of her mare and wondered where they would go this time. At first, Diego led them confidently and nonstop at first but then he began to mumble among the hills and canyons.
“Senior Kidnapper, it looks like we’re lost. Not that I’m complaining about the company, but do you know where we are?” Diego was known for his lack of orientation in space and she decided to tease him a bit.
In response, the caballero turned and rode closer to her. “I know perfectly well where we are and where we are going.” He took a piece of cloth from behind his sash and gave it to her. “I want to take you to a very special place, but it is a surprise. Do you trust me?”, he asked seriously.
Victoria took the material without hesitation and answered with a smile. “I love you and trust you, Querido.” She blindfolded herself and grasped the saddle-bow firmly.
Diego took her reins and waved his hand to make sure. “No peeping!”
They started riding, and Diego said a silent prayer that her trust in him would not be destroyed at the end of this journey. It was too late now to withdraw. So he could only hope that she would not cut himself off completely, even if she rejected him as a suitor.
Victoria did not say a word, but she also didn’t stop trying to guess where they would have another picnic. He gave her hints, but in such a manner that she didn’t really have a chance to guess.
xxx Zorro xxx
Felipe was waiting for them at the entrance to the cave. Seeing his friend’s uncertain expression, the boy smiled and raised both thumbs up, trying to cheer him up. Diego nodded in thanks.
“We’re almost there, but don’t take the blindfold off yet.” Diego dismounted and helped Victoria down. At that time Felipe took the reins of both horses and escorted them to a nearby valley. As he walked away, he showed his thumb up again.
Victoria heard the hooves click away and asked, “Diego, where are you?” She felt a slight shiver as her fiance kissed her exposed neck.
“Right behind you, honey.” Felipe’s optimistic attitude encouraged him. Diego put her arm in his and led her towards the entrance to the cave. “Felipe led the horses and tied them nearby, and then he would be able to go help in the tavern.”
Victoria felt them going into some sort of structure. The sun was not shining anymore, she felt cold in the air. She was still trying to figure out where the surprise was and what it was. She couldn’t rely on her eyes so she focused on her other senses. There was a strong smell of hay and horse sweat in the air. “An abandoned barn? Why here?”
Next to her, she heard Diego suck in a breath and let it out loudly. She sensed his nervousness as he took both her hands in his.
“Victoria, before I remove your blindfold, please remember that I love you more than my life. I have always loved you and always will, regardless of your decision today.” He bent down and brushed his lips against hers.
Surprised by the confession, the young woman gently moved away. “Querido, I have already accepted your proposal. And now you are more nervous than then. What’s wrong?”
This time the caballero kissed her with all passion as if it was their last kiss in their life. He held her tight, mesmerizing her curves with his fingers. Her hands were not idle either.
When they could not catch their breath and moved apart, Diego untied her blindfold with a beating heart.
The senorita blinked several times as her eyes got used to the twilight of the cave. She turned around and immediately recognized the Fox’s lair – black clothes hanging off a coat rack, a Toledan sword, a collection of whips and a faithful Tornado.
She was surprised enough that she did not associate the obvious facts.
“Querida …” she heard behind her the deep, begging tone of Zorro. She turned to face her fiance and looked deep into his crystal blue eyes. During their courtship, Diego never used this endearment. Now she knew why. Because she would’ve known immediately that Diego de la Vega was the wanted bandit so dear to her heart.
The always confident, bold, slightly arrogant hero now stood terrified and uncertain before her. After a few moments of tense silence, he broke eye contact and hung his head, resigned. His world was in ruins, and her lack of any response only made things worse.
“If you want to yell at me, please do it here. The cave is soundproof, nobody can overhear us. Unless you want me to hang on the gallows, you then could go straight to alcade. Just don’t mess with Felipe, please, he is just a boy.” Diego looked at her, a plea apparent in his eyes. ” I am begging you, Victoria, say something, anything.”
Confession and the voice of a broken man pulled Victoria from lethargy. She remembered their previous conversation in this hideout. “The man behind this mask is afraid of only one thing in this world. That you love a hero with whom he cannot possibly compete. That if this mask were removed, you would still be in love with Zorro and not with the man of flesh and blood. ”
Now she understood why the previous kiss was so hectic and knew only one way to show him that his fears were unfounded. She grabbed him firmly by the front of the shirt and pulled him down. Their lips met, but the caballero didn’t respond. When her tongue began to try to part his lips, Diego broke contact.
There was a glimmer of hope in his eyes, but he was still uncertain. “Querida, I lied to you for years, I asked you to wait for you don’t know how long, I refused you a family and children, I let the alcalde use you as bait …” A beautiful senorita interrupted his litany by putting a finger to his lips.
“It means nothing. My best friend and the man I love are the same person. I’m the happiest woman in the world.” She hoped he would believe her. Her chocolate eyes told him everything that was happening in her heart.
Before he could believe it, he had to be sure. “Do you still love me? Are you not angry?”
A wide smile was the answer. “I love you, I trust you and I am not angry.” A teasing glint appeared in her eyes. “Not too much anyway. But don’t expect me to let this deception go away so easily. You will pay for this, Senor Zorro.” This time the handsome caballero was an eager participant in next kiss.
xxx Zorro xxx
When the raw emotions subsided, the bandit without a mask and the beautiful tavern owner sat down at the table, sharing stories and a meal which Felipe had brought down to the cave for them earlier. They explained all misunderstandings and apologized for the unpleasant words. Finally, Diego sat on the cot leaning against the wall, and Victoria sat down in front of him, cuddled to his wide chest. The caballero caressed her shoulder tenderly.
“Querida, I have to apologize for one more thing. This love potion … I knew you were planning to use it on Zorro and I saw it as a chance for us to be together.”
Victoria looked up to meet his eyes. “You specifically invited Mendoza to be a witness. And especially let me come closer to drink this wine. And there was no burning at all. You, you …” the famous temper of Escalante’s family finally made itself felt. But instead of bursting with anger, she burst out laughing. “You fox!”
“The secret to Dr Wayne’s potions’ success is the power of suggestion. And since you don’t want to tear me apart, we need to think about what we’ll do next.” The caballero became serious.
“Such a cunning fox definitely has a plan” The lovely woman is his arms still was in a playful mood.
“Well, I have, but it needs your help and might ruin a bit your reputation. And mine also, for that matter. But thanks to that, we can be married tomorrow evening without the Alcalde suspecting anything.”
Victoria placed a kiss on his throat and caused him to moan with want. She answered seductively. “Only tomorrow evening? So long? Of course, I agree with everything.”
Diego smiled because he knew he was lost. And waiting the next day will be torture. “Listen, we will do that …”
xxx Zorro xxx
Don Alejandro was coming back after a few days’ absence. He had a lot of time to think while riding. He was worried about his family. Felipe dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but how could he achieve this without being able to speak or hear? It is good though that he did quite well with the hacienda’s accounting books and other work around the ranch.
“Yes, Felipe can handle life. But what about Diego? He wastes his life on useless experiments, music, poetry. He is one of the most desirable bachelors in the region, and influential dons are constantly trying to introduce his daughters to him. This stupid son of mine, he can’t even get married and give me grandchildren!”
With such hilarious thoughts, the old ranchero entered the pueblo. To his surprise, Ignacio de Soto approached him with a most unusual request. “Don Alejandro, I am begging you, please straighten out your son. I can’t stand all his sweetness and romance.”
De la Vega dismounted and asked, “Diego? Romance?” It was so crazy and unexpected.
“Si, very intense romance. Just marry them off in a hurry and let them get out of my way.”
Alejandro, still not understanding the whole situation, was asking the alcalde. “Is Diego courting someone?”
De Soto began to lose patience that was already heavily strained. “Yes, he even has managed to get engaged and plan his honeymoon.”
The old don still couldn’t comprehend the new pieces of information. “Diego is engaged? Are we still talking about my son? To whom?”
Alcalde rolled his eyes. “To the tavern bitch, of course. They drank a love potion together and haven’t been apart from each other since then.” He pointed a finger at him. “If you don’t marry them in the near future, I swear I will hang your son for… for corrupting my innocence.”
Alejandro finally understood the seriousness of the situation but snorted. “You sound like you are still a virgin. You and innocence, ha. Where is he?”
“In the tavern and elsewhere.” They both went to the inn. It was siesta time, so there should be no guests inside.
xxx Zorro xxx
And in fact, there were no guests. At the bar, however, a well-known couple stood in a passionate embrace, kissing hungrily. Diego stood with his back to the entrance and slightly off to the right side. They were so busy with each other that they didn’t notice anyone entering.
Don Alejandro and de Soto were stunned and stopped next to the door.
The intensity of the kiss went well beyond the proper way for a gentleman to treat a woman. Such behaviour would only be allowed in a matrimonial bedroom. But what shocked the observers the most was the young caballero’s hand, which first slid slowly down Victoria’s hip and thigh, and then began to climb up with the skirt, revealing a semi-bare leg.
Don Alejandro watched with round eyes and open mouth as the woman he considered as a daughter lifted her bare leg to his son’s hip and responded with even more enthusiasm to his caresses. And the same normally passive son held her thigh in a very firm grip.
The blood in the veins of the old de la Vega boiled. He never expected such behaviour from his well-breed offspring that he would put any woman, especially Victoria, in such a compromising situation.
“This is enough! I didn’t raise you like that! You’ll marry her today! And no discussion!” He was furious and yelled so loudly they probably heard him at the church.
The young couple jumped in surprise at the shouting and the presence of other people. Diego released Victoria’s leg, which she immediately set aside on the floor and adjusted her dress. However, they never broke their embrace.
The young caballero turned to face his father. At this point, the Alcalde and Don Alejandro saw that the left side of Diego’s face was covered in bruises and his left eye was swollen. Victoria tenderly stroked the purple spots.
“Buenos dias, father. It’s good that you came back. We didn’t want to plan the wedding without you.” He pretended not to notice his parent’s rage.
Meanwhile, the son’s appearance somewhat cooled the de la Vega’s anger. “What happened?” He asked, pointing to his face.
Diego answered modestly. “When I was riding here, I met Zorro. He was not happy with the engagement and challenged me to a duel. I’m not a sabre master, so we agreed to a fistfight. I will do anything for my angel.” He looked at his lovely fiance.
Victoria took the story with anger. “How could he! You are not a warrior and I made a choice and he can’t do anything about it.”
She looked lovingly at him and adjusted a lock of hair that fell on his forehead. Then turned to her future-to-be father-in-law. “Poor Diego, he was barely sitting in the saddle when he arrived. Fortunately, I had a box of herbal ointment and …”
The Alcalde finally shook himself and interrupted her sarcastically in mid-sentence. “… and we saw exactly how tenderly you look after your patient.” Then he turned to the elder de la Vega. “Wedding or gallows. Remember.” Then he left, walking towards the garrison.
Don Alejandro stood arms folded and looked knowingly at the young couple, who could tell he was still upset with them. “I’m going to Padre Benitez right now to arrange the wedding details. Tonight’s the wedding. Behave yourselves till then.” After which he also left.
What he could no longer hear was a double sigh of relief. Victoria asked, “Did they really believe us?”
Diego hugged her. “You’re a great actress, why wouldn’t they believe?”
Senorita accepted the compliment, but she was thinking about another participant in the entire masquerade. “How Felipe take it all? He admires you and loves you like a father. I think it was definitely difficult for him to do his job.”
Diego shrugged. “I gave him Zorro’s gloves so that he wouldn’t hurt his knuckles. But it took us definitely too much time. Especially since at the beginning, he beat far too weak. Then I started teasing him about a nice, blond-haired girl who is his weak spot lately, and well … Let’s just say he discovered a new talent in himself. ”
They kissed, much calmer and more tenderly this time when they hadn’t the audience.