Bad Times In LA

Parte Treinta Y Quatro-B

Nancy Smith

The sanctuary quickly filled, as everyone, came to see, the celebrated event. People, were even standing outside, the sanctuary, hoping, to get a glimpse, of the bride, as she walked, down the aisle. As the music began to play, the chatting and whispers, subsided, as everyone, turned their eyes, on the most beautiful bride, they had ever, seen. As Diego, stood at the alter, he could feel, the palms of his hands, become moist. He indiscreetly rubbed them, down the sides of his pants, and took a deep breath, and sighed. He felt his pulse quicken, and his heart pounding, as he gazed, at his beautiful bride, walking toward him, down the, aisle. He seemed to be, in a trance, as she came closer, and closer, to him. He did, however, have the presence of mind, to notice, that she was wearing, the necklace, he had, given her. She was absolutely stunning!

As Alejandro, walked Victoria, down the aisle, he suppressed a chuckle, as he noticed, Diego's, slightly, dazed expression. He only hoped, that he came around, long enough, to say his vows.

As the music continued, Diego slightly blinked, as he noticed, Alejandro bringing Victoria, closer, to the alter. When they reached the bottom step, Alejandro, lightly kissed her hand, then sat down. Victoria stepped up the alter, and looked into Diego's eyes. She felt a warm blush, rush to her face, as Diego's eyes, poured over her. He lifted her veil, and smiled, as he looked into her dark brown eyes.

Michaela smiled, and slightly wept, as she watched them, exchanging their rings. She sighed, as she remembered the day, that she, and Sully, were married. As long, as they had been married, she would never, forget that day. She slightly blinked, as she listened to the padre, bless their rings, and give his blessing, and listened, as they exchanged, their vows. It was the most beautiful wedding, that she had ever, seen.

As Diego and Victoria kissed, some of the married men, were tempted, to applaud, but the stern look, from their wives, made them think, better of it. Padre Benitez gave his final blessing, and pronounced Diego, and Victoria, "man and wife!"

As they walked down the aisle, arm in arm, the rest of the people, followed. When they stepped outside the church, they were met, with cheers, and showers of rice, and confetti, as they walked, down the steps. Alejandro's coachman Juan, rode up, in a lavishly decorated carriage, and reined in his horses, and waited, as Diego, and Victoria, stepped into, the carriage. Before they left, Victoria stood up, and threw her bouquet of flowers, to the crowd, of young single women. A young girl of seventeen, caught the bouquet, and glanced at Felipe. Alejandro, put his arm, around Felipe's shoulders, and smiled.

"I'd stay clear, of that one, if I, were you!" he whispered, with a wry smile.

Victoria smiled, and sat down, beside Diego. Juan, gave a quick slap, of the reins, and the young couple, were off, to the hacienda. Miguel, drove up, with the other carriage, and waited, as Alejandro, Felipe, Michaela, and Sully, climbed in. Everyone, followed Alejandro, and his guests, to the hacienda, for a big, reception.

Diego, and Victoria, had arrived, before Alejandro, and the others. Diego stepped out of the carriage first, then gently placed his hands around Victoria's waist, and lifted her out. He lightly set her down, then tenderly kissed her hand.

"Home at last, Señora de la Vega." he smiled. Victoria slightly blushed, and smiled.

"I guess, I'll have to start, getting used, to that!" she remarked.

Diego smiled. "Don't worry, it won't take long." he replied.

As they walked up to the door, Diego opened it, then picked up Victoria, and carried her, over the threshold. He set her down, then closed the door. He gazed at her thoughtfully, then led her into the Library. He walked over, then briefly looked around, the room.

"Victoria, come, and sit down." he said, with a decided look.

She looked at Diego, with curiosity.

"What are going to do?" she asked.

Diego smiled. "I'm going to take your picture."

Victoria looked at him, with surprise. "You mean, with that invention, you used, at the Alcalde's celebration, today?"

Diego nodded. "This won't take long." he stated.

Victoria, straightened her dress, and veil, then sat down, on the soft brocade cushioned couch. Diego, quickly set up his camera, and measured out the powder, for his flash. He stepped over, and made a few adjustments, to Victoria's veil, and instructed her, to "sit very still, and smile!" Before he took the picture, he looked at her, once more, and smiled

"Stunning!" he complimented, warmly.

He made, a few adjustments, to the lens, then quickly, ducked under, the black cloth, and took, her picture.

There was a slight puff of smoke, then Diego, came out from under his cloth, and wrapped up, his camera. He motioned for Victoria, to follow him, to the cave. They took the camera, into the cave, where Diego, mixed a few chemicals together, and 'developed' his picture. Luckily, for Diego, the image, came out, perfect. He smiled, as he looked at, her image.

"Now, we'll always have something, to remember, this day by!" he stated, smiling. He lay the plate on the table, then turned, to Victoria.

"You know, Victoria, that's only an image on a metal plate. Seeing you in the church today, and seeing you now, is far more beautiful, than any image, or painting, can capture. The way you look today, will always, be in my mind, as well as, my heart!" he stated warmly.

Victoria smiled. "I must be the luckiest woman, in California! I married the most handsome, romantic, compassionate, creative, and dashing man, in California. I hope, he never, changes!" she replied, as she gazed, into his eyes.

Diego took her in his arms, and pressed a tender kiss, to her lips. He looked at her, and smiled. "I suppose, we should go. Our guests, will be arriving, soon." He remarked.

Diego checked the peephole, and noticed, that it was clear. He pressed a button, on the handle, of a lantern, on the wall, then he and Victoria, stepped through, the open door.

It was a beautiful, reception. There was music, and dancing, and more food, than anyone, could possibly, eat. Diego, and Victoria, received, even more gifts, than they had, before. Victoria's brothers, even gave them, a special gift. A beautiful, china bowl, that used to be, their mother's, that Ramon, had kept, all these, years. Victoria smiled, and gave her brother, a warm, hug.

After all the gifts, were given, they returned, to the music, and dancing. Sully, and Michaela, even showed Diego, and Victoria, a few dances, they had learned, in Colorado. In turn, Diego, and Victoria, showed them, some dances, of their own. Diego, was even generous enough, to let Sully, dance with, Victoria. He even took, a few turns, on the dance floor, with Michaela. Michaela, was very impressed, with Diego's, polished, dance steps. Not since, she had lived in Boston, had she danced, with anyone, so graceful. Sully, loved to dance too, but he wasn't, quite the "polished" dancer, that Diego was. After the music ended, she thanked him for the dance, and complimented him, on how well, he danced.

"Gracias, Señora. You make an excellent partner, as well. My compliments, Señora, for a wonderful dance!" he replied.

"You're welcome!" she replied.

Even Felipe, danced with several, pretty young señoritas, who eyed him, from a distance. Victoria smiled, as she watched him dance, with the same gracefulness, as Diego.

"He's quite the caballero, Diego!" she remarked, smiling.

Diego nodded, in agreement, and smiled. "Well, he learned, from the best!" he said, with a smug look.

Victoria looked at Diego, with a wry smile. "You're right, your father, is an excellent, dancer!" she replied, smugly.

Diego nodded, in approval of her, retort. "Touché Señora!"

Victoria, looked at Diego, affectionately, and smiled. "But, I'd rather, dance with, you!" she replied, warmly.

Diego, walked over to the musicians, and requested, a very slow, romantic dance. The musicians, nodded.

As the music started, Diego took Victoria's hand, and led her, to the dance floor. He put his arm around her waist, and pulled her close, as they slowly danced, around the room. As the music, played on, Diego, gazed into her eyes, and smiled. Victoria, was never more beautiful, than she was, right now. 'Victoria may be the luckiest woman, but I'm definitely, the luckiest, man!' he thought, as he held her in his arms. Soon the music stopped, but Diego, and Victoria, were still dancing. Victoria, briefly looked around, and slightly blushed.

"Diego, the music has stopped." she remarked.

He gazed passionately, into her eyes. "Oh? I hadn't noticed!"

They finally stopped, and Diego slowly released her from his embrace. He took her hand, and made a deep bow, and pressed a tender kiss to the back. He slowly rose, from his stance, and smiled.

"Thank Señora, for a most pleasurable dance!" he stated gazing into her eyes.

Victoria smiled, as she looked into his deep blue eyes.

"The pleasure, was all mine, Señor!" she replied with a captivating smile.

"In that case, Señora, I am deeply honored." he replied, with a slight bow. He took her hand, and led her from the dance floor.

As the evening wore on, one by one, the guests, began to leave. Victoria and Diego, thanked everyone, for their lovely gifts, and for making their day, special. The guests in turn, extended their appreciation, for inviting them, to the wedding, and reception. It was truly, a momentous, occasion, and memorable one, as well. One, that would not be, forgotten, for a very, long time.

Everyone breathed, a sigh of relief, as the last of their guests, finally left. For a moment, everyone retired to the Library, and talked about how beautiful, the wedding was, and how wonderful, the evening, turned out. No one, could have asked, for a better day, or a more perfect, evening.

As the conversation, finally came to a close, Sully, and Michaela, finally retired, to their rooms, as did Alejandro, and Felipe. Diego, and Victoria, sat for a moment, in the Library, and savored the peace and quiet, that had finally, blanketed, the de la Vega household. Diego untied his cravat, unbuttoned the top two buttons of his ruffled white shirt, and sighed. Victoria removed her veil, and lay it across, the back of the couch, then laid her head on Diego's shoulder. He put his arm, around her shoulders, and gave her a warm hug. He looked at her thoughtfully, for a moment, wondering, whether or not, he should ask her this question, that had been preying, on his mind, all night. If he was ever going to ask her, then he may as well ask her now. Otherwise, it would never be resolved.

"Victoria ... " he asked, somewhat hesitantly.

"Yes, Diego?" she answered.

"Does that bother you, that I'm still, going to be, Zorro?" he finally asked.

Victoria slowly sat up, and looked at him insightfully.

"Diego, remember, when you said, that, the decision to run the tavern, after we were married would be mine?" she asked.

Diego nodded. "Yes."

"Well, I feel the same way, about you, being Zorro. If you no longer, want to be, Zorro, then, that will be, entirely, up to you. If you, still want to be, Zorro, then I will honor, your decision, and support you, in what, you do. Diego, I know that Zorro, is as much, a part of you, as the tavern, is a part of me. I love you, Diego, and I know that, as Zorro, you can do, a great deal, to help the people. Now that you're free, to be Zorro, you can do, a great deal, more!" she stated, earnestly.

Diego, looked into her eyes, as he put his hands, around her shoulders.

"Victoria, I just don't want Zorro, coming, between us. If I felt that being Zorro, would cause a rift, between us, I would give up the mask, forever. I love you too, Victoria, and I just want you, to be happy. Your happiness, and our marriage, is far more important to me, than being, Zorro." replied Diego, with conviction.

Victoria smiled, and looked at him, warmly. "Diego, I want you, to be happy, too. If being Zorro, is what you want to do, then I will love you, all the more, for it. Even if you choose, not to be, Zorro, I will still, love you. I married you, Diego, the man, behind the mask. Granted, at first, I was in love, with this mysterious masked man, who dared to challenge, the Alcalde. But I later realized, that whoever this man was, behind the mask, I knew that he had a heart, and soul, that was strong, compassionate, caring, and courageous. You are that man, Diego, with, or without, your mask. That's the man I love, and that's, the man I married." She stated, fervently.

Diego gazed warmly into her eyes, and smiled.

He rose from the couch, and took her hand, in his. Victoria slowly stood up, and looked into his eyes, and smiled. They left the solitude of the Library, and walked down the long hallway, until they came to Diego's bedroom. He quietly opened the door, then lifted Victoria up in his arms, and carried her into the room. With his foot, he gently closed the door. This was going to be, a night to remember.

Felipe lay in his bed, dreaming of all the events, that had happened, during that day. It was truly, an eventful, day. The pueblo de Los Angeles, had acquired, a new Alcalde, who would govern them, fairly, and wisely, and not, by oppression, and tyranny. The best part of all, was that Alcalde Carroga, gave Zorro, a full pardon. Now Diego, was free to help the people, as Zorro, without having a bounty, on his head.

Felipe inwardly smiled, as he saw himself, standing in the Alcalde's office, with Alejandro, Diego, and Victoria, as they signed the adoption papers, that stated, that Felipe, was now, a de la Vega. He had always felt, that he was part, of their family, from the moment, he arrived. Now, he truly was.

As Felipe slept, he dreamed of Diego's and Victoria's timely and beautiful wedding. People had come, from miles around, to witness, this wonderful, occasion. Felipe, even saw himself, dancing, with all the pretty, young señoritas, at, the reception. Yes, it truly was, an eventful, as well as, momentous, occasion.

As the festive events, drifted through his mind, he was suddenly, awakened, by a radiant beam of light, glowing, in the corner, of his room. Felipe sat up in bed, and shielded his eyes, until the brilliant light, slightly, dimmed. He rubbed his eyes, and looked at the mysterious stream of light, that softly, enveloped, his room.

In the center of the light, he suddenly saw, a young woman, with dark brown hair, and dark brown eyes, wearing, a long white gown, slowly materialize, before, his eyes. Her eyes were warm, and compassionate, as were, the features, of her face.

As she slowly approached him, it was as if, she were floating, on a cloud. Felipe, briefly scooted back, against the headboard, of his bed, as he gazed in amazement, upon this apparition. She reached out her hand, and gently touched his leg, and smiled.

"Felipe, do not be afraid. I am your mother. I have come to see you." she said, in a spiritual tone. As Felipe looked into her eyes, a warm, and loving feeling, suddenly, came over him, and he smiled. He silently mouthed the words, 'mother,' as he looked at her. She smiled, as she drifted, closer to him. She tenderly touched his cheek, with her hand, as she warmly, gazed into his eyes.

"Felipe, do not be afraid, to let go, of your past. I have come to tell you, that I am at peace, with God. You do not, have to worry, anymore. I love you Felipe, and I will always, be with you, in your heart. You no longer, have to be, afraid, to say, what is in your, heart. God gave you, a beautiful voice. Do not let your fears, keep it, inside you. You spoke, once, and you will, speak again, my son. Let go of your fears, and let your voice, come out!" she said, compassionately. She pressed a tender kiss, to his cheek, then slowly, drifted back, toward the light.

"I love you, Felipe!" she said, softly.

As Felipe, reached his hands, out to touch her, he opened his mouth, to call her back. Suddenly, he heard himself say "mother!" She looked at him, and smiled, then slowly, faded away. Felipe quickly brought his hands, to his throat, and sat in bed, in amazement, and smiled. He opened his mouth, and softly spoke her name, again. "mother." Felipe's heart, pounded in his chest, as he lay against the headboard, of his bed.

'I spoke! I spoke!' he thought. Felipe slightly blinked, and shook is head. He made the sign of the cross, and inwardly, said a prayer. He briefly looked up, and silently spoke.

"Thank you!" he whispered. He made the sign of the cross, again. As he lay down in his bed, he pulled the covers up around him, and went to sleep. Tomorrow, would be, another, momentous day.

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