Victoria dipped a cloth in the basin and wrung it out and gently wiped the young girl's face after she finished feeding her. She cast a warm gaze at young girl and smiled.
"Well, you're eating has improved! You ate all your soup today!" Victoria stated smiling.
Diego gently touched his hand to the young girls face and smiled. "I think your fever is coming down too!" he remarked with an encouraging gaze.
"I'm feeling a little better today!" replied the young girl as she managed a smile.
Diego smiled as he pulled the covers up around her. "Don't worry little one, you will be getting well very soon! A woman doctor has come to help doctor Hernandez and she has brought some important medicine for you. It won't be long until you're well enough to go home." He stated earnestly.
The young girl's eyes widened in amazement as did Victoria's. "That señorita is a real doctor like doctor Hernandez Señor?" said the young girl her mouth slightly agape in awe.
Diego looked up and saw Victoria's eyes intently focused upon him waiting for his answer. He slightly nodded and smiled.
"Sí, she is truly a doctor, just like doctor Hernandez! Her name is doctor Quinn and she is also a señora, so you be nice to her while she is here and do what she says!" he said pretending to be stern. He smiled warmly at the young girl and gently patted her head.
Victoria looked at Diego somewhat disconcerted. "Diego, you didn't tell me she was a doctor!" She glanced over at Michaela and cast a thoughtful gaze at her as she watched her administering to some of the patients. "Imagine! Women becoming doctors! How extraordinary!" she said putting her hand to her chin in a reflective gaze.
Diego cast a thoughtful gaze at Victoria and smiled. "Oh I don't know Victoria. Women have always been giving aid to others in some capacity or other, whether during times of war or peace, helping the sick or wounded. It's not beyond the realm of possibility! Who knows, maybe some day you and this young señorita here will become doctors!" Diego remarked resolutely. He looked at Victoria and the young girl with an insightful gaze.
Victoria shook her head and slightly shrugged her shoulders. "It may be a little late for me Diego. I imagine it takes a long time to learn to become a doctor like doctor Hernandez. As for this young señorita here, maybe she will see the day when women will become doctors!" Victoria responded decisively as she cast a warm smile at the young girl.
The young girl looked thoughtfully at Victoria and smiled. "Sí, I would like to be a doctor one day like doctor Quinn and then I could help all the people in the pueblo! Couldn't I Señorita Escalante?" replied the young girl resolutely.
Victoria gently patted the young girl's cheek and looked at her with an encouraging smile. "Sí, Marissa you can be anything you want to be, including a doctor! But first we have get you well! It's time for you to get some rest now!" she stated earnestly and smiled.
Victoria gathered up the tray with the soup bowl and utensils and prepared to take them to the kitchen. As she did, Diego stood up and smiled at Marissa and turned and followed Victoria.
Diego caught up to Victoria and flashed an engaging smile at her. "Need any help?" he inquired earnestly.
Victoria slightly smiled and shook her head. "Thank you Diego, I can manage. But you're welcome to keep me company while I do the dishes." She stated amiably.
Diego slightly smiled as he pushed back the curtain for Victoria as she walked into the kitchen.
"I have a better idea..." began Diego taking the tray from her hands and setting it in the sink. He stepped over and pulled out a stool and took Victoria by the hand and led her over to the stool. "Why don't I do the dishes while you keep me company!" He motioned for her to sit down.
Victoria put her hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. "Diego! You don't know how to wash dishes!" she said shaking her head smiling.
He firmly but gently sat her on the stool and cast a discerning look at her and smiled. "If I can make beds Victoria, I can surely wash dishes!" he slightly chuckled. "Besides, you can catch me up on all the news I missed while I was gone." He stated earnestly.
He took off his jacket and handed it to Victoria and began rolling up his sleeves. He quickly found an apron and tied it off and began putting the dishes into the warm sudsy water and began washing them.
Victoria lay Diego's jacket across her lap and slowly ran her hands over the soft material smoothing out the creases as she straightened out the sleeves. She gazed reflectively at the jacket and then glanced up at Diego and smiled. She couldn't help but chuckle to herself as she watched him washing her dishes. He looked so out of place standing there with that apron on and up to his elbows in suds. She was somewhat surprised however as she watched him. He was actually doing a good job. She cast an affectionate gaze at him and smiled.
Victoria put her hand to her chin and looked at him thoughtfully and smiled. "Diego, you never cease to amaze me! First you make beds and now you wash dishes! You know you're really becoming quite domestic! What else have you been keeping from me?" She inquired as she cast a penetrating gaze at him.
Diego could feel her eyes on him as he continued washing the dishes. He glanced over at Victoria and smiled and returned his attention to his task. He momentarily fell silent as he thought about how he was going to answer her question. If ever there was a loaded question, that was it! He wondered if she was referring to his domestic abilities or if she was trying to trick him into telling her he was Zorro. Somehow he had this distinct feeling it was the latter.
He cast a mild gaze at her and smiled as he prepared to answer. "Well, sometimes I cook!" he replied modestly.
Victoria's eyes slightly widened. "Diego, you can cook?" she asked as she looked at him in mild amazement. She looked at Diego thoughtfully. 'That's really not the answer I wanted, but I can wait!' thought Victoria as she eyed Diego insightfully and smiled.
He slightly chuckled. "Believe me Victoria, you have nothing to worry about! Just ask Felipe! You'll always be the best cook in California! No one can hold a candle to your cooking Victoria!" he commented as he cast an affectionate gaze at her.
Victoria slightly blushed and smiled. "Well, maybe one of these days I can give you some lessons." She stated resolutely. 'And maybe one day, you'll tell me that you're Zorro!' she thought as she cast a discerning look at Diego.
Diego glanced at Victoria and cast a warm smile at her. "I'd like that!" he replied amiably.
"Well, did anything happen while I was gone?" Diego said quickly changing the subject as he rinsed a plate and set it in the rack.
Victoria slightly shrugged and sighed. "Señor Ramerez died while you were gone. He was the elderly man who used to help Padre Benitez around the church. He was such a good man. The padre was very sad when he died." Replied Victoria with a sigh as she shook her head sadly.
Diego shook his head and cast a somber gaze at Victoria and sighed. "I'm sorry Victoria! You're right, he was a good a man. He will be sorely missed!" replied Diego remorsefully.
As Diego returned his attention to his task, Victoria named a few others that had passed away and how they too would be missed. Diego sighed regretfully and shook his head. He nodded in agreement and remarked that he would miss them also. They both fell silent for a moment as they crossed themselves almost at the same time and said a silent prayer for the people that had died due to this cruel epidemic. When each had finished their prayer, they made the sign of the cross and softly responded with amen.
When Diego finished the last dish, he dried his hands and removed his apron and hung it on a peg near the sink. He walked over to Victoria and held out his hand and looked at her affectionately and smiled. Victoria put her hand in his as she held on to his jacket with the other and stood up. Diego took his jacket from her hand and draped it over the stool. He turned and pressed a tender kiss to her hand as he gazed warmly into her eyes. Victoria felt her face become flushed as her eyes pooled into his in a long passionate gaze.
Diego smiled as he gazed at the soft blush upon her face. He wrapped his arms around her waist and gently pressed her close against him in a warm loving embrace and pressed a deep passionate kiss upon her lips. Victoria wrapped her arms around his neck and melted into his embrace.
As they held one another in their tender embrace, it was as if nothing else seemed to matter as long as they were in each other's arms. Diego suddenly felt the rhythm of his heart beat become a little faster as their kisses became more intense. He gently put his hands about her shoulders and slowly parted from their embrace. He momentarily cast an earnest look upon her face.
"Victoria, I'm sorry I left without saying good-bye! I promise I will never do that again!" he stated resolutely. "I wouldn't blame you if you were angry." He commented gazing thoughtfully into her eyes.
"When Zorro brought the letter you gave him and said you were leaving, at first I was angry. But after your father read the letter, I understood how important it was for you and Zorro to go find help. The lives of our people were at stake and you felt that doctor Hernandez needed help! I knew you would be safe with Zorro along, but it didn't keep me from worrying and missing you!" replied Victoria earnestly. A sadness momentarily clouded her eyes as she looked at Diego. She managed a slight smile to trying to hide the hurt and loneliness she felt while he was gone hoping Diego wouldn't notice, but as he looked into her eyes, he could see the heartache and anxiety that she had inwardly bore during his absence. Suddenly a feeling of guilt ripped at his heart as he looked upon her face. He wished he hadn't left, but it was something he had to do and she knew it. It was for the sake of the pueblo and for doctor Hernandez as well. But the fact that he had caused her so much pain seemed to be more than could bear.
He wrapped his arms around her and held her close against him in a warm and comforting embrace. As he held her in his embrace, Victoria lay her head upon his shoulder and wrapped her arms around Diego and hugged him tight. She closed her eyes and sighed feeling the warmth and strength of his arms around her. She felt his hand tenderly caress the long dark tresses of her hair as it fell about her shoulders. He slightly turned his head and brushed a soft kiss upon her cheek and smiled as he held her close. Hopefully nothing ever again would keep them apart, but at the moment they were just glad to be back in one another's arms once again.
Sully and Michaela had just finished their meal that Sully had previously brought from the kitchen while Victoria and Diego were attending to some of the patients. Michaela handed Sully her dishes and kissed him and continued helping doctor Hernandez administer to the other patients. As Sully stood up, he glanced around the tavern and noticed that Victoria and Diego were strangely absent. He picked up the dishes that he and Michaela had used and proceeded to carry them to the kitchen. He slowly pulled back the curtain and quietly looked inside. His eyes slightly widened as he saw Victoria and Diego in their loving embrace. He smiled and shook his head as he carefully stepped back and slowly closed the curtain leaving the young couple to their moment alone.
Sully knew that feeling of heartache and longing that seemed to grip your heart whenever you were separated from the one you love and the joy and desire you felt being back their arms again. He sighed as he reflected upon the many times that he and Michaela had come close to losing one another through their many adventures together and how fate and God had kept them together. He still wasn't sure how they came to this strange little pueblo, but he was truly grateful that who or whatever had brought them there, had at least, brought them together. And with that in mind, nothing else really mattered.