Bad Times In LA

Parte Veintiséis

Nancy Smith

Everyone quickly dressed, for their important celebration. Michaela even talked Sully, into shedding his buckskin, and wearing a suit, that Alejandro had loaned him, for dinner tonight. Michaela was never opposed, to Sully wearing his buckskins, but when it came to special events, she always insisted, that he dressed accordingly. Diego even let Felipe, wear one his suits, that he had worn, when he was Felipe's age.

Diego helped Felipe with his cravat, making sure it was properly tied, then quickly tied his own. He looked at Felipe, and smiled.

"Well Felipe, you look like a true Caballero!" he said proudly. And of course he did. The tan suit, white ruffled shirt, black silk tie, along with the boots, that Diego had bought him the other day, made him look, very distinguished. Diego patted him on his back, and smiled.

"I'm glad you're going with me, to get Victoria. Maybe when we get to town, we'll find a pretty Señorita for you, to bring to dinner." He remarked smugly, as he playfully nudged him with his elbow.

Felipe slightly blushed, and smiled.

As they walked into to the library, Alejandro's eyes widened, as he looked at Felipe, and smiled.

"Well Felipe, you look very handsome, in that suit." He remarked. He gave Diego, a decided look. "You know Diego, you should let Felipe, wear a suit, more often. It's about time, he started dressing, like a caballero. He already has, the manners of one; he may as well, dress like one too!" he stated.

Felipe slightly smiled.

Diego patted Felipe on the shoulder, and smiled. "We'll talk about that later, father." He replied. "I suppose we should be going. He remarked, looking at his watch. "Felipe and I, are going to pick up, Victoria. We'll be back, shortly." He stated.

As he and Felipe, walked toward the foyer, they saw Sully and Michaela, coming out of their room, walking toward them. Diego's eyes widened, as he looked at Michaela, and smiled.

"Michaela, you look very lovely, tonight." He complimented, warmly.

Michaela smiled. "Gracias, Diego. Your father, let me wear, one of your mother's dresses, tonight. I hope you don't mind." She said amiably.

Diego shook his head. "Of course not. In fact, that dress, looks as lovely on you, as it did on my mother." He replied, smiling.

Michaela slightly blushed, and smiled. "Gracias, Diego."

Diego cast a rather attentive look, at Sully. "Oh and Sully, you look rather dashing yourself, in that suit. I think you could definitely pass, for a caballero!" he remarked, amiably.

Sully chuckled, as he adjusted his cravat, for the third time. "Thank you, Diego. Your father loaned me, one of your suits. I'm not quite used to dressing up, but Michaela insisted." He remarked, with an apologetic tone.

Diego smiled. "Well, you look very nice." He stated, earnestly.

"Gracias, Diego." Sully nodded, and smiled.

"Well, Felipe and I will be back in time, for dinner. We're going to get, Victoria." He stated.

Sully nodded, in acknowledgement.

Diego and Felipe waved, then walked out the door.

Miguel, drove the carriage, up to the front gate, just as Diego and Felipe, walked out.

"Miguel, Felipe is going to drive the carriage tonight." Stated Diego.

Miguel tied off the reins, and hopped out. "Sí, Señor!" he replied. He walked over, and held the horses' halters, while Diego and Felipe, climbed in. Miguel stepped back, as Felipe gave a quick snap of the reins. The horses gave a whinny, and trotted off to the pueblo.

When they arrived at the tavern, they noticed that Victoria, had already hung out her 'Closed' sign, for the night. Diego checked his watch. 'Ten minutes, until eight.' "Well Felipe, it looks like we're just in time." He stated. "We may as well, go in."

They hopped out of the carriage, and strolled up to the tavern. As Diego knocked at the door, he smiled, as he heard Victoria's cheerful voice, inside.

"One moment." She called out.

Soon he heard the rattle of the door latch, as Victoria unlocked the door, and opened it.

"Buenas noches, Diego." She greeted. She looked over, and saw Felipe standing behind Diego. "Who is this handsome Caballero, Diego?" she asked, smiling, as she gave a quick wink to Diego.

"This is a friend of mine. Allow me to introduce, Señor Felipe." Diego replied, stepping aside, gesturing to Felipe.

"Nice to meet you, Señor Felipe." Replied Victoria, holding out her hand, and smiling.

Felipe took her hand, and lightly kissed the back, and smiled.

"How charming!" Victoria remarked, smiling. "Come in!" she stepped aside, and ushered Felipe and Diego, into the tavern, then closed the door.

"Now it's my turn, Señorita." Stated Diego, smiling. He took her hand, slightly bowed, and pressed a tender kiss to the back. As he rose, he gazed into her eyes, and smiled.

"You're looking more radiant, than ever, Victoria." Diego stated, affectionately.

"Gracias, Diego." She replied, blushing.

Victoria was wearing, the most beautiful dress, Diego had ever seen. It was a soft cream color, with loose ruffles around the neck and shoulders. The neckline was modestly cut just a few inches across her chest. Around her waist, she wore a pretty satin navy blue ribbon, that was tied in a fancy bow in the back. The skirt of the dress, hung in soft pleats, and gently swayed back and forth, as she walked. She had a beautiful silver clasp in her hair, and around her neck, she wore a pretty silver heart, on a dainty silver chain.

"I just have a few more things to put away, and then, I'm all yours!" she stated, smiling.

"What an enchanting prospect!" he stated, gazing at her, as she walked away.

"Felipe, would you like something to drink?" asked Diego, as he walked behind the bar.

Felipe nodded, and walked over to the bar.

'I wonder if Victoria, still has that book of poetry.' He thought, as he bent over, and retrieved a couple of glasses. He sat the glasses on the bar, and poured himself, and Felipe some juice. He drank his juice, then looked on the shelf inside the bar. 'Ah, here it is.' He picked up the book, and began scanning through the pages. As he turned one of the pages, he noticed, that she still had the rose, pressed between the pages, of the book. 'How long ago, was that!' he thought, shaking his head and smiling.

Felipe pointed to the book, and signed, 'What are you reading?'

"Oh it's a book of poetry, Felipe. Evidently, Victoria loves poetry." He remarked, smiling. He turned the pages, and began reading some of the poems.

Victoria, finally finished putting away her things, and walked over to the bar. She noticed Diego reading a book, he had found.

"What are you reading, Diego?" she asked, curiously.

Diego looked up. "Oh, it's just a book of poetry, I found. I didn't know, that you liked, poetry." He remarked, eyeing her with an attentive gaze.

"There's a lot of things, that you don't know about me, Diego." She replied, with a wink. "I bought that book, a long time ago, before I knew, you were Zorro. In fact, I found a poem in there, that you quoted to me one time." She stated, smiling.

Diego's eyes, flashed a look of recognition. "Oh yes, I remember that one! 'Oh mistress mine! Where are you roaming oh! Stay and hear; your true love's coming, That can sing both high and low. Trip no further, pretty sweeting; Journey's end in lovers meeting; Every wise man's son doth know. What is love? 'tis not hereafter; Present mirth hath Present laughter; What's to come is still unsure; In delay there lies no plenty; Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty, youth's a stuff will not endure.' William Shakespear, I believe."

She looked at Diego, and smiled. "That was one of my favorites. I put a special mark by that one. You know, I think that's why I bought this book. I saw it in your library one day, and started reading it. I loved all the poems in it, so I decided to get one for myself. That's my favorite book." She sighed, as she smiled.

Diego smiled. "I would make sure, that nothing happens, to this book!" he stated, earnestly.

Victoria laughed. "Don't worry, I won't!"

"Well, I suppose we should be going. We don't want to be late, for dinner." Diego remarked.

Victoria nodded. She picked up her shawl, and wrapped it around her shoulders. Diego escorted her out the door, as Felipe followed.

As they walked out the door, Victoria took out her key, locked the door, then dropped the key in her purse. Diego helped her into the carriage, as Felipe hopped into the driver's seat. After Diego climbed in, and sat down beside Victoria, Felipe gave a slap of the reins, and the horses trotted off to the hacienda.

When they arrived at the hacienda, Miguel stepped up, and tended the horses, while Diego, and Felipe, stepped out of the carriage. Diego held Victoria's hand, as she too, stepped down, from the carriage.

"Gracias, Miguel." Diego stated, amiable.

"De nada, Don Diego." Replied, Miguel. He hopped into the carriage, and drove it to the stables.

When they walked into the house, one of the servants, took Victoria's shawl, and carefully hung it, on the brass coat rack, in the hall. As Diego looked around, he noticed that Doctor Hernandez, had already arrived, and they were just getting ready, to sit down to eat. Alejandro, looked impatiently, at Diego.

"Diego, you were almost late, for dinner." He stated.

Diego sighed. "Sorry, father. Victoria and I, got into a discussion, about poetry. I sort of lost track, of time." He replied, apologetically.

Alejandro shook his head, and sighed. "Leave it to you, and your poetry, to make you late!" he remarked, curtly.

Diego slightly shrugged, and sighed. He escorted Victoria to her chair, and held it, as she sat down. He pulled out a chair beside her, and sat down. Diego looked up at Felipe, and smiled.

"Felipe, come and join us. You're included in this celebration too. Find a chair and sit down." He stated amiably. He motioned for Felipe to sit down. Felipe, found a place beside Alejandro, and sat down.

Before they began eating, they made the sign of the cross, and bowed their heads, in prayer. Alejandro, said a prayer in thanks, that the epidemic was finally over. He also gave thanks that he, Diego, and Victoria, had been spared from getting the disease, and said a prayer, for the ones that had died. He also gave thanks, to Doctor Hernandez, and Michaela, for helping the people of the pueblo, and a special blessing that Felipe had survived his illness. After he had finished his prayer, they made the sign of the cross, and said, amen.

It was one of the most delicious dinners, they had ever had. The main meal consisted of Cornish hens, Spanish rice, various combinations of vegetables, such as, asparagus, artichokes, and corn, in separate bowls, freshly made bread, and white wine, to drink. For desert, Maria had made one of Diego's favorite dishes, a chocolate flan. She also made an apple pie, for Michaela, and Sully.

After dinner, Alejandro, requested that one of the servants, bring a tray of wine, and some glasses, out to the garden. It was a beautiful starry night, and the moon was full. Diego decided to take his telescope outside, to let everyone view the sky. Diego helped Victoria, with her shawl, while Felipe brought the telescope.

As they walked into the garden, the night air was warm, with occasional breezes blowing all around. Everyone, except for Diego, took turns, gazing through the telescope, at the moon, and the stars. He was busy, gazing at Victoria.

Victoria pulled up a chair, sat down, and peered through the telescope, and gazed in awe, at the moon. She momentarily shifted her gaze, and looked at Diego with curiosity.

"Diego, what are those strange looking circles on the moon." She asked.

Diego pulled up a chair beside her, and sat down. "Those are called craters." He stated.

She peered through the telescope, once again, then looked again at Diego. "Ah. But why are there so many?" she asked, in amazement.

As Diego looked at her, he smiled, as he noticed how the light of the moon, seemed to soften the features of her face. He noticed how, even the light of the stars, seemed to reflect in her eyes. At the moment, he was so captivated, by this sheer vision of beauty, who sat before him, he barely, heard her speak.

"Diego, did you hear me?"

"What? Oh, yes, ... the craters." Diego said, slightly blinking. "I once heard, where large objects, called meteors, collide with the moon, causing deep pits, on the surface. They look very small, when you see them from a distance, but actually, they are quite large." He stated.

Victoria's eyes, slightly widened. "Meteors? What are meteors?" she asked in disbelief.

"They're like falling stars. Some are very large, like boulders, and some are very small, like a rock, or pebble. They are all, different sizes." He stated.

Victoria nodded. She gazed thoughtfully up at the moon, and sighed. "Isn't it amazing, how different the moon looks, from a distance, than it does close up?" she mused.

Diego just nodded, as he sat gazing at her.

Victoria briefly added. "Even close up, it's still, just as beautiful as ever!" she remarked, smiling.

"Yes, you are!" replied Diego, softly.

Victoria blushed, as she looked at him, and smiled. "I was talking about the moon, Diego."

"Oh yes, that too!" he said, affectionately. Diego slowly rose from his chair, and offered his hand to Victoria.

"Would you care to go for a stroll, in the garden?" he asked, warmly.

Victoria put her hand in his, and stood up. "Yes, that would be nice." She replied, smiling.

As they walked through the garden, they noticed Alejandro, being the perfect host. He walked through the garden, showing Michaela, Sully, and Doctor Hernandez, the various flowers, ornamental bushes, and small trees, that grew in the garden. Victoria smiled, as she looked at Diego.

"Your father, is very proud, of his garden, Diego." She stated.

Diego nodded. "Yes. Mother always loved gardening, and anything, that bloomed. She and father, started this garden, after they got married. When she died, he made sure, that it continued, to bloom. He works very, hard to keep it up." He replied, earnestly.

Victoria gazed about the garden, and smiled. "Well, it looks like, his hard work, has paid off. I've never seen, such beautiful flowers! Everything, is just lovely." She sighed, wistfully. She walked over, to a beautiful blooming, hibiscus bush, and gazed thoughtfully, at the soft pink flowers, that scattered, the bush.

"This one, is absolutely, beautiful." She commented, as she gently held the flower in her hands.

Diego stepped up beside her. "This is my father's, favorite. It's a hibiscus." He stated. He carefully plucked, one of the flowers from the bush, and gently placed it, behind Victoria's ear.

"Ah, perfect!" he replied, gazing into her eyes, and smiling. "However, this flower pales, in comparison, to your beauty, Señorita!" he commented, tenderly.

Victoria blushed, as she gazed into his eyes. She reached up, and gently caressed, the side of his face, and smiled.

"Diego, you're so romantic!" she commented, warmly.

Diego wrapped his arms around her, and smiled. "When it comes to you, mi preciosa, I can be, nothing less." He stated, affectionately.

Victoria wrapped her arms around his neck, and pressed a tender kiss to his lips.

As their lips met, Diego deepened her kiss. He gently pressed her close against him, as he lightly kissed the corners of her mouth. As they slowly parted, they gazed passionately, into one another's eyes. Diego gently caressed her cheek, and smiled.

"I'll always love you, Victoria." He stated, warmly.

"And I will always love you, Diego." Replied Victoria, affectionately.

Diego sighed, as he gazed into her eyes. "It's getting late, I should be taking you home." He stated, earnestly.

"I suppose you're right, Diego. If the Alcalde, does lift the quarantine on the tavern, and the pueblo, then I will be having quite a few customers, tomorrow." Victoria stated, smiling.

"You really enjoy, running the tavern, don't you." Remarked Diego, earnestly.

Victoria nodded. "Yes, I really do. I suppose, that I have done it so long, that it has just become a part of my life. Not only that, but I enjoy, meeting all kinds of people, that come into, the tavern. There's never, a dull moment!" she stated smiling.

Diego chuckled. "You're right, about that. The tavern is definitely, a meeting place, and there's something going on, all the time." He commented, amiably.

Victoria nodded in agreement.

Diego looked at Victoria, thoughtfully. "Would you still, want to run the tavern, after we're married?" he asked, earnestly.

Victoria looked at him in surprise. "Diego, are you giving me, an ultimatum?" she asked.

Diego shook his head. "Oh no! That's not what I meant. The decision to run the tavern, after we're married, will be entirely, up to you! I was curious, that's all." He stated, amiably.

Victoria nodded, and smiled. "Since you put it that way, I suppose I would, for awhile. Maybe until we had children." She replied, with a discerning look.

Diego smiled. "Ah yes, children. You know Victoria, I'm actually looking forward, to being a father. After all, I can't go on being Zorro, forever." He stated, earnestly.

Victoria smiled. "And I'm looking forward, to being a mother. I'm sure your father, would be thrilled, at the prospect, of having grandchildren, as well." She slightly chuckled.

Diego nodded. "Oh yes! In fact, that's usually the topic, of our conversation. He always says, 'When am I going to have grandbabies, Diego? I want grandbabies!" he chuckled, and shook his head. He smiled, as he looked at Victoria. "Well, as they say, 'first things first!'" He paused, as he cast a pensive gaze at his father. "Which reminds me ... " he trailed.

Victoria gazed at him, with a curious look. "What is it, Diego? Is there something, wrong?" she asked, earnestly.

Diego shook is head. "Oh no. Everything is fine. I think the time has come, to tell my father, about Zorro." He stated, decidedly.

Victoria nodded. "You're right, Diego. I do think, he has a right, to know." She stated.

Diego nodded. "Yes. Maybe tonight, I'll tell him everything." He stated, resolutely.

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