|An Unbridled Affair
Author: leiasky PM
FAM Zorro: A traveling equestrian show arrives in Los Angeles and life changes dramatically for Diego and Victoria. COMPLETERated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 4 - Words: 16,745 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 08-08-05 - Published: 07-27-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2505034
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: An Unbridled Affair
Rated : PG
Synopsis: A travelling equestrian show arrives in Los Angeles and life is never the same.
Disclaimer: This story was written solely for the enjoyment of other Zorro fans and is not intended to infringe on any copyrights held by Goodman/Rosen Productions, New World Television, Zorro Productions, the estate of Johnston McCulley or anyone else.
Note #1 : Inspiration for this story goes to Karen (everyone write and ask her about her Diego in tights story . . .hehe) and the amazing, majestic show 'Cavalia', on which the horse show in this story is based.
You will find Note #2 at the end of this story.
An Unbridled Affair
"I can't wait to see what's behind that big tent!" Sergeant Mendoza hurried into the tavern, an excited look on his weathered face.
Diego grinned at Mendoza as he stopped in front of the bar and exchanged an amused look with Victoria. They'd just completed a bet about how much time it would take for the good sergeant to come bouncing into the tavern, excited about the pueblo's new arrival. Diego sighed dramatically for his lady friend and dropped a few coins onto the bar in front of Victoria, which she took with a superior smile and wink toward Diego.
Fortunately for her, Diego had purposely bet a longer amount of time so that he would lose. He'd give her more than a few pesos if he could, but until that time, Diego would make sure to slip any coins into the lady's hands whenever possible.
"They have come all the way from Europe to perform for the colonies," Diego offered and nodded politely to Victoria as she set his customary glass of juice in front of him.
"Really?" Mendoza's eyes widened with excitement.
Diego took a small sip of his juice and then continued. "They received permission from the King to bring pure-bred Andalusian stallions and they are absolutely magnificent. My father will be jealous."
"Indeed?" Ignacio de Soto walked up to the bar and cocked his head in Diego's direction. "You mean there is another living person in the territory with horses that outshine even the de la Vega stock?"
Diego buried a smirk in his juice as he took a long, slow sip. Only when he noticed Victoria looking at him expectantly did he decide to answer with a retort of his own. "Alcalde, The King of Spain bestowed upon my grandfather pure bred Andalusians from his own herd when my family moved to the colonies. They have been bred as per King Ferdinand's edict, which, in case you are unaware, requires gentleman to ride only the purest blooded Andalusian stallions. We have many pure bred horses. Many of which we ship back to Spain as outlined in the agreement my grandfather made with the King." Diego took another sip of his juice and continued. "The only difference in our stallions and those of our Carnival friends outside is that de la Vega stallions are bred and trained for use in the rugged country in which we live, those exquisite stallions are bred and trained for show."
Victoria listened with genuine interest, as did Mendoza, both clearly impressed that the studious caballero knew so much about the stallions that bore the de la Vega brand and had gained them such incredible wealth. Sure, the de la Vega's had an enormous ranch on which they bred, raised and sold cattle, but their wealth lay truly in the fine horse stock granted to the family long ago by the King of Spain.
"Well then," De Soto chuckled, "you have violated that edict for years, de la Vega! You ride a mare!"
Diego rolled his eyes and Victoria hid her gasp behind a well-timed cough.
"Ignacio," Diego began, his eyes lighting with a fire that Victoria seldom saw, "my father and I ride mares for several reasons. But the one of most importance, and the only one I care to explain to you now, is that we will not breed a mare unless she has proven to us that she is worth breeding."
Victoria smirked at de Soto and Diego allowed a small smile to curl the corner of his mouth at the pleased look in her eyes. He truly tired of looking the fool in front of the woman he loved.
Diego continued, confident that revealing a little knowledge of his family's business would not raise suspicion about his alter ego. "If our mares cannot handle the rugged terrain in which we live, we do not want to breed them."
De Soto huffed but Diego continued, intending to get one additional remark in before the alcalde responded. "But I wouldn't expect a military man who rides inferior horse flesh to know the difference between a war horse and a pure bred Andalusian."
Out of the corner of his eye, Diego noticed Victoria's mouth drop open at his very blatant insult. Mendoza's eyes widened to saucer-like proportions as he stared at Diego.
"Excuse me, de la Vega, but the garrison stallions are of the finest breed."
Diego allowed a sly grin to curl the corner of his mouth. "If they are of the finest stock, how is it that not one of them has yet been able to catch Zorro?"
Victoria's face visibly brightened at the mention of her love's name and Diego carefully shifted his eyes away from her. If only her face would brighten at the sound of his own name and not that of his alter ego, a man who could not give her what she truly wanted, not until his mission was complete. Diego was tired of waiting and it was getting increasingly difficult to play the inept, weak-willed caballero in front of her.
De Soto scowled at the mention of Zorro's name and Diego found it difficult to retain his customary bland expression. He took another slow sip of his juice, hiding his amusement in the bottom of the glass, waiting for de Soto to respond.
Instead the alcalde turned to Mendoza. "Has this Carnival troupe paid their travelers tax?"
It took a moment for Mendoza to find his voice. "Si, Alcalde."
"And the tether tax?"
"Uh," Mendoza hesitated but Diego came to his rescue.
"They are not tethering their stallions in the plaza. They have set up a special area where they are keeping the horses."
"An area to keep magnificent stallions such as those does not come free." De Soto glared at Diego, still irritated at the indolent caballero. "They have used a very large section of land just outside of the pueblo to set up their arena. I shall institute a tax on their use of that land for the duration of their stay." He nodded curtly to Diego and Victoria before heading for the door. "Mendoza!" he howled over his shoulder and the sergeant straightened his uniform and quickly joined the alcalde.
"Diego, you were wonderful!" Victoria said when she was certain the alcalde was out of earshot. "You should do that more often!"
Diego assumed his most bland, emotionless expression. "Verbal sparing with de Soto is wearying and not usually worth the effort."
Victoria frowned and Diego shrugged. "If you'll excuse me. I think my father would love to know about our new arrivals. I wouldn't be surprised if he tries to purchase one of those magnificent animals."
Victoria stared after Diego with a curious mixture of emotion crossing her pretty face. The fire in his eyes that she'd seen for a few brief moments today was not something Diego de la Vega exhibited often, but she had seen it more than once. Her eyes narrowed at a stray thought as it floated to the forefront of her mind, but she was not quick enough to catch. She sighed and resumed her duties. It would be siesta soon and then she could go out and take a look at those beautiful horses she'd been hearing so much about.
An amused grin slid across Diego's face. "I don't think I've seen my father so excited in years."
Felipe gestured at Diego, made his customary sign for Victoria, hugged himself then winked at Diego, waiting for his friend to roll his eyes in response.
"Yes, yes. Well, I'm no closer to marrying Victoria and giving my father grandchildren than I was a year ago." Diego said dejectedly, reaching for the black-mask.
Felipe frowned, instantly regretting the mention of Victoria. More often of late, Diego's mood turned sour at the mention of her name. He knew his friend needed to find a way for them to be together, and soon, or it was going to tear him apart. Diego had waited long enough to be with the woman he loved, and Felipe didn't envy him the task of figuring out a way for them to come together.
"Anyway," Diego shook his head and finished tying the mask around his head. "I think Zorro needs to drop in on the Carnival troupe and make sure the alcalde doesn't try to extort more money from them than is fair."
Felipe followed Zorro as he mounted Toronado. With a customary salute, and an "adios," Zorro was gone.
"Alcalde! I suggest you let these good people return to their rehearsal!" Zorro pulled Toronado to a stop before the performers and leapt from the stallion's back.
"Lancers!" De Soto stepped back and ordered the few soldiers he'd brought with him to the outskirts of town to attempt to arrest the masked man.
Zorro easily sidestepped one clumsy thrust and parried the other. "Alcalde, you know how I've come to enjoy our little duels." A right hook to one lancer's cheek dropped him to the dust instantly and a quick flick of his wrist disarmed the other and the soldier retreated back toward the alcalde, as if expecting the man to protect him.
De Soto drew his blade with a disgusted sigh and advanced on his nemesis.
"I don't want to have to say this again, Alcalde, so listen carefully." The duel began with Zorro easily parrying each thrust de Soto made as the performers watched on in stunned silence. "I understand you have already been paid the appropriate tax for the duration of these performers stay. I strongly suggest," Zorro took the offensive now, moving with blinding speed to disarm de Soto and send him sailing toward the dust covered ground with a well-placed kick, "that you do not bother these kind folks again if you know what is good for you." Zorro quickly carved his customary 'Z' in the alcalde's uniform and delivered a right hook when the man tried to regain his feet to resume the duel.
Zorro sheathed his sword and turned toward the performers standing in awe at what they'd just witnessed. One particularly petite woman was looking at Toronado with affection. To Zorro's astonishment, the stallion had permitted her to touch him.
"My apologies for the intrusion, but I had a feeling that the alcalde would try something like this. Your performances should be free from interference fort he remainder of your stay." Zorro gave a little nod and salute as he whistled for Toronado.
The stallion trotted over to his master at the sound, further startling the performers.
"Your stallion is well trained, Señor, and if I'm not mistaken, well bred as well," Demetrio said with an admiring smile. "Such training we have not seen since we left Spain. Could we persuade you to join us for a bit of sport?"
Zorro cast a quick look back at the soldiers who were dragging their alcalde back toward the pueblo. He noticed that Victoria, Alejandro and a few other caballeros and peasants had almost reached them but they didn't stop to feign concern, seeing that the soldiers had the situation well in hand. They continued moving toward the masked man.
"A few minutes won't do any harm, I should think." Zorro nodded and mounted Toronado without use of the stirrups. "What would you like me to do?"
"Excellent!" Demetrio turned to find his own mount, Califa, standing beside him. The magnificent stallion wore no tack but an elaborately braided halter, and his lush mane and tail were long and smooth.
Isabella, Demetrio's wife, appeared beside him with her mare, Fidel. She mounted the mare with all the grace and poise of a dancer and gently squeezed her legs, urging the great horse into a slow trot. Her shiny white coat glistened as she moved, all of the pride bequeathed to her by her ancestors revealed in her strong, agile motion.
Victoria, Alejandro, and the others had arrived finally and Zorro gave her a deliciously provocative smile that made her cheeks redden. He wheeled Toronado over to his lady and bent to take the hand she raised. The kiss he placed to the skin was warm, inviting, and far more sensual than he'd ever bestowed. But he didn't stop there, he turned her hand and kissed the palm, and then her wrist, before the performers behind him signaled that they were ready to begin.
Victoria stepped back as Toronado joined the two starkly contrasting white stallions. Toronado stood in the center of the two white beasts and as they began to trot away from the slowly growing crowd, Demetrio and Isabella stood atop their horse's bare backs, their knees bent, balancing atop the powerfully built frames.
Victoria could see the performers speaking to Zorro and could see him nod in response. But what they did next was not something she had ever expected to see. Zorro launched himself to his feet and began to ride Toronado in the same way, bending his knees with each powerful flex of his stallion's back.
The onlookers gaped as the horses wheeled around in turn and came trotting back toward them, but this time, Demetrio and Isabella each placed a leg on Toronado's back, effectively riding both their magnificent white steeds and Zorro's black stallion.
The crowd gasped when the horses came to a stop right before them and the performers returned their legs to their own mounts.
"That was incredible," Zorro said to Demetrio. "Would you mind if I borrowed your stallion to try the same?"
Demetrio, recognizing that he was in the presence of a horseman as well trained as he, agreed with a silent nod. He motioned for one of the other performers to bring a saddle and Califa was quickly readied for the masked man.
Tipping his sombrero to his lady, Zorro carefully took the reins Demetrio offered and gently placed his booted foot in the center of Califa's saddle. He slowly wheeled Toronado and Califa around and walked them away from the group. When Zorro deemed the stallions far enough away for his purpose, he whistled low and the horses began to trot toward the group, another whistle and they began to canter lightly.
The crowd held its collective breath as Zorro kept his legs steady on both saddles, knees bending with each powerful gait.
Victoria watched, her eyes bright, beaming for her love. He was so strong, and talented! If it was possible, her admiration for him grew.
Zorro stopped the stallions a few feet from the spectators and returned to his own mount, thanking Demetrio with a tip of his hat and the shake of his hand for allowing him to perform with the magnificent Califa.
The crowed cheered and Victoria found herself being swept into the masked man's arms and kissed so soundly she didn't know how she would stand when he finally released her.
Gunshots echoed around their ears, breaking the kiss, and spooking the majestic white stallions. Their masters quickly led them away as the alcalde raced toward them with the fully armed garrison.
"Alas, our time is always so short." Zorro returned Victoria to the ground and she swayed on shaking knees. "Farewell for now, querida preciosa."
Zorro saluted the performers and blew one final kiss to Victoria as Toronado galloped away from the pueblo amidst shots aimed at his back.
De Soto glared at Demetrio and then at Victoria. "I have a mind to arrest you both!"
"On what charge?" Alejandro demanded, placing himself between Victoria and the enraged alcalde.
"Consorting with the outlaw Zorro, of course,"
"Is that who he was?" Isabella stood next to her husband and slid her arm around his waist. "Tales of this legendary masked man have reached even Madrid! Never did we expect to see him!"
"He's going to be one dead legend when next you see him!" de Soto hissed, "and then you can return to Madrid with that famous tale!"
Victoria recalled Diego's words from earlier in the day and slid from behind Alejandro to triumphantly glare at de Soto. "You'll never catch him, Alcalde!" The taverness smirked when she remembered Diego's exact words, "not riding your inferior horses!"
De Soto whirled on Victoria and looked as if he was about to strike her. At her horrified gasp, Alejandro placed himself between her and the enraged man again.
"One more word out of you, Señorita, and I will throw you in my jail and lose the key." De Soto spun to face Demetrio. "I will have use of one of those stallions and you may perform without further taxation."
Isabella's eyes widened and she clutched her husband's arm.
"No argument unless you wish me to shut down your little operation right now and confiscate all of those animals!"
Demetrio exchanged a defeated look with his wife and quietly nodded. "Can we have use of all of our stallions for the show this evening, then?"
"Of course." De Soto smirked triumphantly. "I only require use of one of those animals when Zorro appears again."
"Then if you will excuse us, we must continue our rehearsal." Demetrio led his wife and the other performers back behind the large tent they had erected.
Victoria huffed as Alejandro led her back toward the plaza.
"The alcalde can't do that," she seethed. "Those horses don't belong to him!"
"Zorro will stop him." Alejandro said with confidence.
"He shouldn't have to!"
Alejandro hesitated a moment before he responded. She was right. That Zorro was even needed at all was because of the caballeros' inability or disinterest in involving themselves in governmental affairs. Perhaps it was time to stimulate an interest. Zorro wouldn't be around forever.