Diego's eyes scanned the tavern until he found his father sitting on the bedside of a young boy wiping his fevered face and giving him his medicine. He walked over and stood at the foot of the bed and gazed down at the dark-haired young boy and slowly shook his head and sighed. His mind was momentarily taken back to when Felipe lay desperately ill in the bed and how hard he had prayed that he would soon get well. Fortunately his prayers had been answered, but as he cast a wary gaze upon this young boy struggling to stay alive, he wondered if prayers would be enough.
As Diego's compassionate eyes gazed at the young boy, he felt a heaviness in his heart and inwardly said a prayer in hopes that God would show mercy upon the boy's soul and let him live.
Alejandro looked up and saw Diego's eyes intently focused upon the boy and sighed.
"He reminds of you Felipe, doesn't he Diego?" Alejandro remarked as he looked back at the boy and brushed a lock of hair from his face.
Diego momentarily blinked as his father's voice broke through his reverie. "Yes he does! Very much!" Diego replied nodding. "Is he going to be all right?" he inquired earnestly.
Alejandro gazed upon the soft features of the boy's face and smiled as the young boy gazed up at him with his dark brown eyes and managed a smile.
"I think so. He still has some fever and a slight cough, but he is definitely a fighter!" Alejandro replied dabbing the boys face with the cloth. "Aren't you Paco!" he said smiling. Paco managed a slight nod.
Diego looked at Paco and smiled. "Buenos tardes Paco!" Diego said walking around to the side of the bed and sitting beside Paco.
Diego gently lay his hand upon Paco's forehead. "Yes, he is still quite warm." Diego remarked looking up at Alejandro.
Alejandro nodded. "Well, at least his appetite has been good. That's a good sign."
Diego nodded. "Yes it is."
As Alejandro and Diego stood up, Alejandro pulled the covers up around Paco and gently patted his cheek.
"You get some rest now Paco!" Alejandro replied warmly as he smiled at the young boy. Paco nodded and soon drifted off to sleep.
Alejandro walked over and stood beside Diego. He briefly glanced over to a man sleeping in a bed nearby. "That's Paco's father Luis. So far he is all right for now. At least he is alive! His wife died not long after Paco was born. It's just the two of them now." Alejandro remarked as he shook his head and sighed. He momentarily cast a remorseful gaze upon the young boy.
Diego's eyes met his father's as Alejandro turned and looked at him with a sadness in his eyes. As Diego looked into Alejandro's eyes he too was reminded of the sadness and anger he felt when his mother was suddenly taken away from them at such a young age in their lives and how completely unfair Diego thought it was!
Many years passed until he finally came to terms with her death and could actually talk about her without becoming upset or angry. It was just one of those times when he kept asking himself WHY and no one seemed to have the answer! He even asked the padre once and all he would say, is "it's God's will." Being the devout Catholic like he was, he accepted this as a good rationalization, but it never really eased the pain of her loss. There would always be something to remind him that she would never be with him or his father in life again. At least he could take comfort in the knowledge that she would always be with them not only in spirit but in their hearts as well. To Diego however, this rather small bit of consolation would last for a lifetime.
He wrapped his arms around Alejandro in warm loving embrace that only a son could give his father and hugged him tight. Alejandro was momentarily taken aback, but quickly embraced him with a warm loving hug.
When they parted Alejandro gently patted Diego's cheek and cast a warm smile upon his face.
"Ah Diego, you still remind me of your mother. I love you son! Don't ever change!" Alejandro said as he gazed warmly into his eyes.
Diego slightly blushed and smiled. He momentarily cast a thoughtful gaze upon Alejandro's face. "Oh I don't know father....I think there's a bit of you in me too. Maybe you're just not looking hard enough!" he replied as a slight grin graced his lips. "Oh and by the way, I love you too!" he remarked warmly.
Diego's expression slowly faded and momentarily became serious as he cast an earnest look at Alejandro.
"Father, I think I'm going to go back to the hacienda for awhile. I've been feeling a bit fatigued lately. I think I just need to get some rest." Diego remarked somewhat wearily.
Alejandro suddenly flashed a concerned at Diego. "Madre de Dios Diego, you're not coming down with the influenza are you?" As he reached up to touch Diego's forehead, Diego slightly stepped back and gently brushed his hand away.
"Father...PLEASE! I'm not sick!" he said slightly annoyed. He noticed the anxious look in Alejandro's eyes as he stared back at him. Diego sighed and shook his head as he put a reassuring hand on his father's shoulder.
"I'm sorry father. I didn't mean to get upset with you! Really, I feel fine. Maybe after I've had some rest, I'll be all right! If it makes you feel better, I'll get doctor Hernandez to take a look at me before I leave." Diego replied resolutely.
Alejandro sighed and nodded. "I'm sorry too Diego. I didn't mean to overact! It's just that with all this sickness going around, I don't want you coming down with it too! I don't know what I'd do if you got sick too!" Alejandro replied anxiously. "Maybe that would be a good idea to let the doctor look at you, just in case!" he added earnestly.
Diego nodded. "All right, I'll ask him right now! By the way, it wouldn't hurt you to get some rest also! Why don't we both go!" Diego responded as he cast a worried look upon Alejandro's face.
Alejandro shook his head. "I should stay here in case they need help! I wish you would stay here too Diego! We need all the help we can get!" he remarked as he cast a decided look at Diego.
Diego shook his head and sighed. "I really wish you would come back to the hacienda with me! You've been working so hard these past few days. Besides, neither us of would be good to anyone if we both got sick!" He momentarily glanced around the tavern and then back to Alejandro.
"I think there are enough people here to help Victoria if she needs it. I don't think she would mind if we left for awhile." Diego responded earnestly.
Alejandro's weary eyes gazed up at Diego and smiled. "I suppose you're right Diego. I guess I am a bit tired. I guess I just now realized how tired I really am." He sighed and slightly shook his head.
Alejandro momentarily glanced over and saw Felipe taking some cups back to the kitchen. "Oh Diego, what about Felipe?" Alejandro inquired casting a concerned look in Felipe's direction.
Diego looked at Alejandro earnestly. "I think Felipe will be all right helping Victoria. He enjoys helping her!" Diego remarked smiling.
"I think we should tell Victoria so she won't get worried." Alejandro stated earnestly.
Diego nodded. "Don't worry, I'll tell her. There's something I need to tell her anyway." He remarked with a concerned edge to his voice. He cast a thoughtful gaze upon Victoria as he saw her coming out the kitchen.
As Alejandro looked at Diego, he noticed his eyes seemed to follow Victoria as she walked about the tavern taking food to the patients and volunteers. The way Diego was watching her, Alejandro wondered if he was in love with Victoria. He had noticed earlier that they seemed to be having a rather heated discussion about something that Alejandro couldn't quite make out. He knew it was something serious however by the expression on their faces. Alejandro had always hoped that one day Diego and Victoria would fall in love and get married.
Maybe it was just wishful thinking on his part, but it seemed that they had been spending more time together. Even when Victoria was at the hacienda during Felipe's illness, Diego showed more than just mild interest in Victoria. The way Diego would look into her eyes, Alejandro could tell it was definitely love.
Alejandro inwardly shook himself from his daydream and put a reassuring hand on Diego's shoulder.
"I'll get my things while you talk to Victoria. Oh and by the way, don't forget about seeing doctor Hernandez." Alejandro replied earnestly.
Diego quickly turned his head and looked at Alejandro and smiled. "Oh yes of course, I won't forget." He said somewhat hesitantly.
He walked across the tavern and caught up with Victoria just as she was taking some dishes back to the kitchen.
"Victoria, I'd be more than happy to help you with that." He said warmly as he took the tray from her hands and smiled.
Victoria slightly blushed and smiled. "Thank you Diego!"
As they walked into the kitchen, Diego set the tray in the sink and looked around. He saw Felipe standing by the stove occasionally stirring the large kettle of soup Victoria had made for the evening. Diego walked over to Felipe and put his hand on his shoulder and smiled. He slightly leaned over the kettle and smelled the vapors of the soup as it slowly bubbled on the stove. He looked at Felipe and smiled.
"Well Felipe, Victoria might make a chef out of you yet!" he chuckled. Felipe slightly shrugged and smiled. Diego quickly cast a serious look at Felipe.
"Felipe, I need to talk to Seņorita Escalante for a moment." He looked at him somewhat earnestly.
Felipe nodded and walked out.
Victoria flashed a curious look at Diego. "Why did you want Felipe to leave? He can't hear what we're saying." She asked casting an attentive look at Diego.
Diego looked at Victoria rather smugly. "You forget Victoria, he's very good at reading lips. He seemed to learn that very quickly when I first taught him my name. Even though he couldn't talk, he would try to mouth the words. I would say the words very slowly and he would watch my lips. Pretty soon he became very adept at reading lips." Diego replied.
Victoria stepped up Diego and slowly slid her arms around his neck and gazed passionately into his eyes. She fell silent as she pressed herself close against him and pressed a deep passionate kiss upon his lips.
Diego inwardly gasped and then quickly fell into her embrace as he wrapped his arms around her and held her in his arms and deepened her kiss. As they stood in their passionate embrace, Diego could feel his desire for her growing stronger and stronger. He knew that if he didn't stop now, he wasn't sure if he would be able to restrain himself. He wasn't about to wait and find out.
He slowly slipped his hands around her arms and gently broke their embrace. As their lips parted he gazed passionately into her eyes and smiled.
"I wish it could always be like this!" Diego replied sighing and gazing into Victoria's eyes. "Maybe someday when all this is over, we'll be able to make our dreams reality!" he added as his eyes took in the soft blush upon her face.
Victoria looked up at Diego and gently caressed his face with her hand. "Oh Diego, let's make them real now!" Victoria replied as she cast a warm passionate gaze upon his face.
Diego's eyes softened as he sighed and shook his head. "Victoria I love you so much! If it was within my power, I would make all of this go away and ask you to marry me! As it is, it's just not the right time! I want everything to be right when I ask you to be my wife! Things are in such a turmoil now, it just wouldn't be fair to either of us! Be patient querida! Our day will come! Even if it's not right now, it will come sooner than you think! Have faith Victoria!" Diego responded passionately as he brushed a tender kiss to her lips.
When they parted Victoria cast a serious gaze upon his face.