Disclaimer: All rights reserved to Zorro Productions. This is not intended to infringe upon any rights by Goodman/ Rosen Productions/ New world Television, Zorro Productions, the estate of John McCullay or anyone else. It is just to entertain other fans.

Because I have this writer's block on No way Back I thougth I should upload another story.
This story deals with a more severe subject and should only be read by adults, but I promise you, my dear reader, that I won't be too hard on our hero and heroine. Whereas I am still not content over some chapters I am still revising it. I have to admit I am not really selfconfident about this story, which I dedicate to a dear friend of mine. Thanks to my good American friend Nancy for editing and giving feed back on my story and I hope you will aprove of this as much as you did with my other stories.

~Z~

Part 1

Ever since Emissary Risendo was shot by the alcalde things slowly had changed, despite of the alcalde's neck for chasing Zorro. Still the alcalde tried other ways than punishing the citizens to get to his thorn in his side.
It had been very busy in town. It seemed the farmers were having a good harvest and money flew over the tables as new deals were made. When business at the market was good, that also meant more people in the taverna. Victoria and her girls were making long days and Diego noticed them getting more tired when the end of the week approached. Diego had stepped into a very crowded taverna a few moments before he found Victoria making her point to some of her customers.
"Victoria?" Diego addressed her carefully.
"I'll be right there, Diego," Victoria spoke very harsh over her shoulder, "I need to finish this conversation first."
Diego first raised his eyebrow at her tone of voice. She hardly ever approached him like this.
"Now where were we," Victoria continued her conversation, "right, you said you didn't like this cooking? Why on earth did you step into my taverna and order food you don't like?"
Diego immediately stepped in the discussion, "Excuse me señor, señorita Victoria is the best cook in the territory and as you see it is very crowded now and as a matter of fact last week was, so something may have been forgotten. Therefore I am sure some extra pepper and salt will make your dish taste better. "
Diego looked knowingly at the customer and turned immediately at Victoria who was already exploding, "Diego I told you…"
"Yes you did," Diego stated firmly and picked her up, "but there is something urgent…"
He practically dragged her through her establishment, while Victoria was protesting violently. "Diego, let go of me!"
He didn't respond and kept walking.
"Diego, I said, let go of me!"
When he didn't react to that either, she scolded further, "This is not showing respect, Diego. Put me down. I can walk by myself."
At that Diego responded coldly, "I heard you before and I know you can walk, but this way it goes faster."
Even in her fury she heard some surprised reactions and whispers about Diego really acting brave, which she had to admit, but never would say it out loud.
She also heard some people laughing at her. Maybe later she will be able to laugh at the scene they were making, but right now it only infuriated her even more.

When she finally stood back on her feet in the backyard of her taverna she angrily questioned him with a pointing finger pricking in his chest, "And what was so important to kidnap me like this"
"A time out," Diego simply said with a straight face and easily folded his arms in front of his chest.
"A time out?" Victoria spat as she threw her arms wide, but when she continue she held up a warning finger again, "who do you think you are to tell me when I need a time out? Especially when a customer is very rude."
"Let's say," Diego continued sounding almost as if it all didn't move him an inch, "I am your guardian angel, who makes sure you won't hurt your business or reputation…"
"My reputation?" Victoria exploded, "By throwing me over your shoulder doesn't save my reputation señor de la Vega."
"Well, the way you were confronting your customers today, and yesterday and the day before, didn't help you either, I will tell you that," Diego suddenly raised his voice.
And a cold silence followed. Victoria never thought she would meet the end of his angelic patience.
First Victoria stared hard at his blazing eyes, but after some seconds she averted them to the ground and ashamed Victoria noticed that the hard ground had turned into a dusty layer caused by the drought.
She then sensed Diego's attitude softening when he put his hand on her shoulder in comfort. She knew what was about to come.
"Care to tell me what is on your mind, Victoria?" his soft voice caressed her troubled mind, which caused an increasing need to stay strong.
"I can tell there is something bothering you. You are not really yourself lately."
Victoria turned away from him. She couldn't tell him and wanted to protect herself at the same time. Unconsciously he had confirmed what she had been afraid of lately. There were simply too many coincidences to not neglect.
"Diego," Victoria started still facing the ground and turned away from him, "You have told me more than once I can talk to you, if needed. This I have to figure out on my own."
Diego never thought this would happen and caught him off guard for a moment. After another silence he asked cautiously, "Has this to do with Zorro?"
"It wouldn't matter if it had, Diego."
Suddenly she turned around and faced him straight in his eyes, "If there is really something you can do for me, then I will let you know." Quickly she added her gratitude, "Thank you for your concern and … thanks for well," she nodded with her head into the direction of the taproom, "you know.."
"De nada," Diego had a faint smile on his face and added sternly, "but you will come…"
"I will," she promised and changed the subject, with the bright smile Diego knew so well "some orange juice?"
"It will be much appreciated." Diego accepted her offer with a broad smile.
Victoria turned around and had Diego following her with a pained expression on his face. He felt concerned for Victoria for not sharing her misery with him. It was quite out of habit.

He knew he had to let it go for the moment and trust she would confide in him when she was ready. The only thing he could do, was visiting her later this night as his alter ego. Maybe then she would be ready to tell him everything.

-Z-

When Victoria finally was able to close her establishment, in her mind she went through the day. The picture of Diego intervening the discussion and then dragging her outside didn't leave her mind. It was pretty odd, but somehow she was grateful. Diego was right to get her out of that confrontation.
She felt a bit confused over it too, because it seemed so unlike Diego to do such a thing, but at the same time it made so much sense too. Some veil of shame softly wrapped around her as she zoomed in on the moment Diego took her arms crossed before her and lifted her up against his body like a sack of potatoes and ungracefully carried her away. She had never expected him being that fast as he had overpowered her today.
A blush crept from her neck to her forehead. She rarely had been close to him, but never this close. She could still feel his breath tickling the hairs on her neck, but at that moment she was too angry to notice.
The feelings stirring in her stomach confused her terribly and she pushed them back as far as she could by skipping the happenings until Diego had put her outside and at some point he suddenly exploded too. It suited him as well, even though no one would expect him to go off the deep end as he did today.
Somehow it reminded her of someone else.
"Zorro!"
Victoria was surprised about meeting the masked man. After she had entered her room she noticed a different sphere and immediately knew he was there. She was glad having this visit even though she was very tired.
"Good evening," he greeted back. He also sounded different to her ears, but she felt safe, protected and strong when she received a breathtaking hug.
"I have been thinking a lot of you lately," Zorro stated simple to break the silence.
"Same here," Victoria replied and Zorro could feel a smile forming around her lips against his chest. "And I have missed you."
Now it was Zorro's turn to smile, "Same here."
Slowly they got into conversation and is patience was rewarded, so as Diego had thought, she told him what was on her mind.
"Please Zorro," she urged him, "as much as I respect your wish to hide behind your mask, find a way for us to be together."
"Victoria, I assure you, I am working on that," Zorro replied almost sounding desperate, "it takes time and I hope it won't go by unnoticed."
"If it makes you feel better, I promise you now, I will move the earth for you to achieve it faster."
"I am always close by."
Victoria had listened closely to his plea, as she had promised him and herself that special day and admitted, "Sometimes I feel your presence close, but I can't really tell if I am imagining things. These days have been so crazy."
"You are not imagining things," Zorro confirmed, "trust your instincts querida."
"Will you be fine now?"
"I guess I will," Victoria answered still a bit unsure of herself.
So they held each other for some other minutes deep in thought, until some commotion at the plaza disturbed them, as usual.
" I must go," Zorro regretted the separation, "don't forget, I am always around."
" I won't," Victoria said with moist eyes.

-Z-