"What are you doing here?!" she said as she managed to finally compose herself. She put her hand to her chest and sighed in relief.
She shook her head and released another sigh. "Sometimes I wish you wouldn't do that!" she said earnestly. "Especially at night!" she added.
Zorro shook his head and smiled. He stepped up to her and tenderly kissed her hand and smiled. "Forgive me Seņorita! It was not my intention to frighten you!"
Victoria shook her head. "Oh no Zorro, I wasn't frightened. I was just surprised that you're here!" she said smiling as she slightly blushed. "With this epidemic going on there really hasn't been a need for you I suppose." She said as her smiled slowly faded and she looked at him thoughtfully.
Zorro looked compassionately into her eyes and sighed. "I'm sure this has been terribly hard on you Victoria." He remarked earnestly as he cast a look of concern upon her face.
Victoria slightly lowered her head and sighed. "I just feel sorry for the children." She replied sadly as she looked up at Zorro. "Some of them are so weak from the virus I wonder if they will live to recover." She remarked as she shook her head. She suddenly felt a small tear roll down her cheek and quickly brushed it away.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.." Zorro lightly put his finger to her lips and shook his head.
"There's no need to apologize Victoria." He said compassionately. He wrapped his arms around her and gave her a warm hug. He bent his head over and kissed the top of her head and sighed as he held her in his arms. He wished he could say something that would ease the sorrow and pain that she was feeling that he hadn't already said as Diego so she wouldn't know that they were one and the same. Yet, in the back of his mind, he had this strange feeling that she already knew. 'So why hasn't she said anything?' he thought.
"There's no need to feel sorry for caring." Zorro remarked warmly as he held her close.
While Victoria stood with her arms wrapped around Zorro as he embraced her, she knew those familiar arms that held her and the familiar chest that she lay her head against. It was definitely Diego. Yet she pretended to hug him as Zorro instead of as Diego. She wasn't about to let him know that she knew. Not yet. She wondered however if he could tell the difference in the way she hugged him. She tried not to make it obvious.
As he gently pulled her from his embrace, he sensed a difference in the way she hugged him. When she used to hug him as Zorro it was an intense warm hug, but this was more like the hug she used to give him as Diego when they used to be just friends. He looked into her eyes and cast a warm smile upon her face trying conceal the fact that he noticed the difference.
Victoria cast a resolute look at Zorro and smiled. "You never did say why you were here!" she stated earnestly as she looked into his eyes.
Zorro reached into his shirt and pulled out the note that he had written for Alejandro and glanced at it as if he had just seen it for the very first time.
"Before I tell you, I have a note that Seņor Diego de la Vega has given me, to give to you. It is for his father Don Alejandro de la Vega. Don Diego had some urgent business to attend to and could not deliver the note himself. He wondered if you could give this to his father for him." Zorro stated affirmatively as he handed Victoria the note.
Victoria took the note and looked at the signature. She slightly nodded and looked at Zorro earnestly. "Of course, I'll make sure Don Alejandro gets this. What kind of business did Diego have to attend to and where is he?" She asked as she eyed Zorro sharply.
As Diego felt the intensity of her eyes upon him he inwardly braced himself and flashed a determined look at Victoria as he prepared to answer her.
"Don Diego wanted me to inform you that he must leave on some important business and he sends his regrets that he was unable to tell you in person. The note to Alejandro will explain everything." He replied resolutely.
Victoria looked at the envelope and then at Zorro. "How long will he be gone?" she inquired somewhat anxiously.
Zorro shook his head and cast a serious look at Victoria. "Don Diego did not tell me the details of his trip, he only said that he would explain everything when he returned." Replied Zorro decisively.
Victoria felt her face become flushed as she flashed a stern look at Zorro. "I can't believe that Diego would not tell me he was going somewhere! All he told me was, to watch out for his father and take care of Felipe! Why wouldn't he tell me?!" she asked with an intense look in her eyes and a slight edge to her voice.
Diego suddenly felt a pang of guilt stab his heart as he saw the look in her eyes. He was about to tell her when his father walked in on them and he never got the chance to explain. He momentarily felt himself biting his lip as he flashed an intense look at her. He suddenly blinked and inwardly composed himself.
He shook his head and gently placed his hands upon her shoulders and smiled.
"Victoria, I'm sure Don Diego had a reason for not telling you. Do not worry, Seņor de la Vega will not be alone on his trip! I have promised to go with him to assist him on his journey." Zorro replied compassionately as he gazed into her eyes.
Victoria's eyes slightly widened as she cast an attentive look at Zorro. "Are you leaving too Zorro?" she asked anxiously. She was already unnerved because Diego didn't tell her he was leaving. At least he had the decency as Zorro to tell her. Her eyes slightly softened as she sighed and cast an amiable gaze at him.
"Oh...so is this why you have come here, to tell me that you are going with Diego?" She asked earnestly.
Zorro cast an affectionate gaze at Victoria and smiled. "Victoria, I couldn't bear the thought of leaving without telling you good-bye! I know how distressed you are about Don Diego leaving. That's why I decided to see you, to let you know that Don Diego will be in safe hands." He briefly paused and cast a warm smile at Victoria and slightly blushed. "And the fact that I wanted to see you again before I left." He concluded warmly. He took her hand and pressed a tender kiss to the back and smiled.
Victoria felt herself blush as she cast an amiable gaze at Zorro. "Gracias Zorro! I appreciate your sincerity and thoughtfulness. I am also glad that you will be going with Diego! Don't let anything happen to him!" she replied earnestly as she cast a concerned look at Zorro.
Zorro cast a warm smile at Victoria and nodded. "You are welcome Seņorita! Do not worry about Don Diego! I will make sure that nothing happens to him!" he replied resolutely.
Victoria stepped up to Zorro and wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed a tender kiss to his lips.
Diego was momentarily taken aback, but quickly wrapped his arms around her waist and returned her kiss. He gently placed his hands around her shoulders and slowly pulled away from their embrace. He gazed passionately into her eyes and smiled. He wished he could have kissed her the way he had as Diego but that would have quickly given him away. As it were, he felt lucky that she had even kissed him at all.
In some respects he was relieved and overjoyed that Victoria had finally fallen in love with him as Diego but the other half of him felt somewhat dejected that maybe she didn't love him as Zorro anymore. Well...maybe not like she loved Diego.
Zorro inwardly cleared his mind and sighed as he gazed upon the soft features of her face and the blush upon her cheeks. 'A man would have to out of mind not to come home to a woman like this!' thought Diego. He even thought the idea of him leaving her was absurd. 'Diego, remember your dream! The pueblo!' his inner voice seem to say, no it was shouting at him.
Victoria blushed as Zorro's eyes seem to melt into hers as he stood gazing at her with those bottomless blue eyes of his. 'The eyes of Diego...' she thought. 'who's looking at me as if he can't seem tear himself away me.'
Diego blinked and inwardly shook himself and tenderly kissed her hand. "I should be going." He replied somewhat nervously.
As he turned and was about to exit the window, Victoria quickly caught his arm. Zorro turned and flashed a surprised look at her.
"Victoria what's the matter!" Zorro replied anxiously.
The moment their eyes met, Victoria wanted to say Diego, but it wouldn't come out. It was as if his name froze in her throat. Why couldn't she say it! Maybe it was the fact that Zorro was saying good-bye and not Diego and she was angry at him for that. She surmised that she was going to have to deal with that when he came back, if ever.
"Zorro, be careful! I want you both to come back alive!" she replied as she reached up and put her hand to the side of his face as if she wanted to remember what he felt like one more time.
He turned his head and kissed her palm and smiled. "How could any man not come back to someone as beautiful as you." He replied casting a warm gaze upon her face.
Victoria blushed and smiled. He turned and in the blink of an eye he was gone. Victoria sighed and crossed herself. "Be careful Diego!" she whispered.