Thank you all for some nice reviews on this, but also on some of my other stories and I dearly hope you can approve of this chapter.

~Z~

Chapter 12

When Diego was gone, Victoria was thinking over matter concerning her business and what people may think of her. She really was restless and wondered why she was thinking over these unimportant things. She just lost her child, her body went through hell and all she could do was thinking about the people who may despise her. She also wondered what went through Diego's mind.

How much does he know? She has to ask him, but she also realised she would have to tell him she was pregnant. Would he condemn her for having sinned? Or would he understand? He was very eccentric himself and had an open mind. Why else would he clean up that mess? And he had proven to be very tight-lipped? Hadn't he made everyone believe she was working in her room instead of taking a nap? Alicia was the only one who knew about that, she found out in the evening. Even Alicia was pretty reserved about it, but admitted it was Diego's suggestion.
Would Alicia know what just had happened?She wasn't able to continue puzzling her head off, when she noticed the curtains moving.

Zorro entered her room quickly and checked outside again.
One look at him was too much for her and burst into tears. In one step Zorro was at her side and hugged her tightly.
"I have lost our child," she then uttered.
Zorro started crying at that moment too, now someone had finally said those dreadful words.

"I am so sorry," Victoria wept, "I am so sorry."
"Me too," Zorro soothed, "but it is not your fault."
"But," Victoria was about to protest.

"It is not," Zorro stated harshly to let it sink in, "you really shouldn't blame yourself. This is nobody's fault. Do you hear me? Nobody is. These things just happen."
"But I wanted it so much," Victoria continue.
"I know, so was I." Zorro stroke her hair hoping to give her some comfort. Meanwhile he was building up some strength for what he was going to do.

"Victoria, you are one of the strongest women I have ever known," Zorro started formulating his intents, but Victoria started weeping more instead of calming down. "This is awful I know," he tried to ease her pain, "you will get through this, I promise you, and you won't be alone."
"I know the risks you are taking," Victoria sobbed.

"Yes, and I hate saying this to you, but I have to go soon. So listen to me."
Zorro put his hands around her cheeks to make her meet his eyes and see for her herself he was dead serious, "I don't want you to be alone. Not now, not while you still don't feel well. Go to the de la Vega's, they will take care of you. I know they will and you know it."

"Shh, listen," Zorro made sure she wouldn't interrupt her, "do it Victoria, do it for your own sake. Do it for us."
"I just can't invite myself, can I?" Victoria cut in, despite his warning stare.
"You can, if you must," Zorro told her. "When you are there and I am not around, cry when you have to, be angry, or express anything you want. Don't hold back."

Dumpfounded, Victoria's eyes grew large. "What's this? What are you saying, Zorro."
Some fear crept around her heart.
Zorro faced the ground and shook his head. He had to make this woman understand, "As far as I as know De la Vega's, they will understand everything. They weren't born yesterday and had their share of misfortune."

"I know you are good friends with Diego and I know he is very fond of you, now trust him and you will be fine."
"Sounds as if you want me to throw myself into his arms," Victoria boldly concluded.
Zorro wasn't really prepared to this reaction and only said, "In these clothes I can't look after you as well as I would like to."
Victoria raised her eyebrows and quickly frowned them as she tried to untangle Zorro's words.

"I can't be at your side all times, therefore I would rather see you being seen to by people who love you."
"But what about you?" Victoria suddenly asked. "Wouldn't I betray you by spending so much time at their hacienda? What will people think?"
"No, people may feel that way, but I don't," He replied very certain.

"How unbelievable it may sound, you will be happy soon again," Zorro closed his eyes. She had just showed him a gap in his plan.
Tears were burning in her eyes, sensing Zorro was saying his farewell. "I will see you, won't I? Promise me, and don't you dare leave me!"
"I will visit you tonight if possible," Zorro promised the desperate woman, "I love you querida, you are my everything."

He kissed her deeply, but he couldn't hide his sadness from her.
"Now go, before anyone sees you," Victoria whispered a bit depressed.
Zorro stood up, saluted and jumped out of her room.

Why have I ever decided to love a masked man? Victoria wondered. He can be so maddening and secretive about things. She recognised the words fitting some else too. And her thoughts drifted to Zorro's proposal to invite herself at the hacienda of the richest landowner in the area. True, don Alejandro had a soft spot for her and Diego seemed to be very involved with her. She now suspected him having a crush on her and she wasn't sure how she would feel about it if she found out it was the truth.

He was kind, sweet, very intelligent and above all very handsome and probably rich too. She even sometimes discovered he could be cunning if it was definitely needed. She had to admit she had had a crush on him when she was young, but that was before the courageous, charming, dashing and yes, sometimes arrogant, masked man appeared. Diego was so unlike him. Until today. Zorro seemed to have lost his guts, while Diego showed he had more backbone in times of emotional disasters than Zorro seemed.

Couldn't Zorro just have taken her to the cave? Why hadn't she asked him, either?
When she came to think of it, Diego was always there for her when Zorro wasn't or couldn't. Despite of his odd habits, and love for only books or science, he was doing his best to be …. Yes, her guardian angel.
She realised she shouldn't think of it any further. She still feared she had to conclude he was in love with her and she didn't want to find out for herself how she felt about him. She did know their bond must have changed after having experienced this hell with him. He surely must have known what had happened!
She just wasn't so sure what she would do if Diego did or was forced to do the honourably thing of asking her to marry him. Oh Dios, let nobody get to know this!

Her thoughts were interrupted by a door suddenly havening opened. As if she had known, Diego stepped in.
"Hola," he greeted and handed her a glass of fresh orange juice making her realise she was thirsty. He sat down at the side of her bed.
"I have been thinking about what the doctor said," he started.

Victoria now noticed dark circles around his eyes and wondered whether he had slept well or even slept at all last night, but waited for him to continue.
"I think you shouldn't stay here."
"I guess you may be right." Victoria agreed and turned the conversation into another direction, "What had the doctor told you? And how did you get … well, you know?"

Victoria saw Diego swallow two times before he answered her question.
"He didn't tell me much," Diego confessed, "and you know Zorro always knows a way to find the right people."
Victoria got very suspicious at Diego's answers, moreover some ill at ease. While watching her hands she asked him whether he had taken a look at it.

"No," Diego admitted shyly, "I do respect your privacy Victoria."
"Gracias," with tears in her eyes she was still fidgeting with her hands and quietly she continued her questioning, "where is it now?"
"The doctor took it away. No one will ever find it." Diego assured gravely.

"Why is that?" Victoria asked oddly relieved, but curious the same time.
"Don't hate me for that," Diego sighed. He was finished lying to her and told her a part of the truth, "he would burn everything, because I told him to do so. I figured the alcalde had caused enough trouble."
Victoria nodded understandingly, but whereas her mind was clouded, she didn't hear the hidden message in it.

"Do you know, what is wrong with me?" Victoria suddenly asked and looked up. She still had tears in her eyes, crushing Diego's heart even more. She must have felt so lonely.
"I think I do," Diego replied and felt terribly guilty, as he stated, "you were pregnant, weren't you."
With a thick voice she quickly asked, "knowing this, how do you feel about me now?"

Now the tears were streaming over her face.
Diego couldn't stand that and took her hands in his. When he spoke she noticed tears in his eyes too, "I feel so sorry for you, because you really deserve happiness. I am afraid I have no words to take your pain away, but honestly Victoria, I am not going to condemn you."
Victoria started crying openly now for his words touched her soul. He was so kind to her and it helped her to talk about what she was feeling, "Diego, I feel so bad. So bad."

Diego now took her in his arms and let her cry for a while and say things if she wanted.
Finally when her tears dried a bit, she said again she felt so bad. Bu now Diego sensed he could react to her questions or statements without her feeling worse. "You haven't done anything wrong Victoria."
"Really?" she questioned him, "I have sinned, Diego."
"Do you honestly believe expressing your love to another is committing a sin?" Diego asked pointedly. "The church may think so and I have to admit I agree with them in a way, but there are circumstances it is understandable when it turned out it couldn't be avoided, I should think."

Amazed Victoria stared at him, whereas she hadn't expected him to say such a thing. Her amazement was cut off by another cramp.
Diego rubbed her back and noticed the stone had cooled down. He removed the cloth and laid the stone back to warm her back again.
"How is the taverna doing?" Victoria unexpectedly inquired.
"I should think there are other things to think of," Diego spoke lightly, "as to your question, everything is going well. You needn't worry about the girls. Your business is in safe hands."

"Your hands?" Victoria inquired at his bossy tone.
"Well, I might surprise you," Diego teased a little.
"So you will go down downstairs again?" Victoria asked in a small voice. She didn't want to be alone now. Besides she felt she glad she had someone she could trust in this matter.

"No, I will pack your things," Diego suddenly stated. "if you don't want me to do so, I will ask Alicia to pack your things. You are coming with me to the hacienda, where you will be taken well care of. Our servants can be trusted as well."
Victoria was flabbergasted at his masculine attitude and had no choice but agree. She tried to have some control over the situation, when she told him she would pack herself. Diego had just turned and watched her expectantly while she tried to get up and move over to her closest.

Out of the blue she got dizzy and stood on unsteady legs, while she reached out to find something to support her. Diego was immediately at her side.
"Don't say it," Victoria hissed.
Diego couldn't suppress a smile despite of his own distress. "I wasn't going to say anything."
"Good," Victoria responded, "all you need to do is support me now."

Diego held her tight until her sight had returned. Then she let him know she wanted to sit back on the bed.
"You're right Diego," Victoria surrendered, "you may pack my things. It can't get embarrassed any more, I suppose."
Diego knew she didn't say that to insult him, however he would have her more embarrassed if he told her it was him she had made love to. Wisely he said nothing. He loved her far too much to have her throw him out and tell him to never come back and fight her demons on her own. He was responsible for this whole mess and he felt she was a victim to his web of lies. What a mess he had created for the two of them. He had a hard time keeping himself together and vowed he would help Victoria with whatever she needed.

In between Victoria told him where he could find her clothes and things she wanted to have close to her. "What have you told Alicia?" Victoria informed suddenly worrying over this.
"Only that you are ill," Diego replied, while he put some other items on the bed so she could fold them and put them into her bag.
Victoria noticed her friend being a bit absent minded. She couldn't really read his face, but she thought he was feeling a bit uncomfortable seeing all her undergarment. She wondered if she could ever face him without thinking of him knowing her underwear looked.

Diego in fact was still struggling with his consciousness. He didn't want to lie to her anymore. He wanted to show her his true feelings. At the same he wanted to stay strong for her. Some fear crushed his heart about the thought she may hate him for all the lies he had told. He still couldn't follow a woman's mind. She showed him she loved him and told him she also loved the man behind the mask, but he still felt he hadn't come close than an inch in moving their relationship onto another level since that special day.
Silently Diego followed Victoria's instructions, until she got him out of his thoughts.
"Diego?"

"Diego? Are you still here?" some worry was etched on her white face.
"Sorry, I was a bit … distracted, I guess." He apologised.
"You haven't slept much either haven't you?" Victoria suddenly observed.
"No," he admitted, "but I will find some time to sleep another time. But what were you saying?"

"Oh eh right," Victoria was easily deduced of the subject, "I was wondering if anyone else knows."
"Only doctor Hernandez and I know," Diego answered. "You know he has his professional secret. You know my point of view."
"You mean you haven't told your father?" stunned Victoria looked up to his face to read his mind.

"No, I haven't" Diego astonished her even more, "I haven't even told him you will be our guest."
"Will you tell him?" she continued.
"Not if you don't want me too, however," Diego thought she had to be pointed on that fact again, "my father lost my mother giving birth to another child. He has never talked about it. Maybe he will to you if he knew what happened to you."

Victoria was silent for a couple of moments, before she finally voiced her thoughts, "I know it is your father, Diego, but don't you think he could be old-fashioned about such things."
"You mean you think he would look down upon you if he knew the truth?" Diego verified. When she guiltily nodded he told her he doubted that. "He loves you as a daughter. If he is able to love a coward," now Diego stared at the ground when another flash of guilt overpowered him, "he could also forgive you this and grieve with you. Remember he had loved my mother very much. He had married my mother for love. He was a blessed man."

Victoria had never thought hearing Diego speaking so openly about such personal things and showing his emotions like he had since he had stepped into her room.
"Your father should know, Diego. Will you tell him?" Diego nodded but wasn't looking forward to do so. He didn't trust himself telling about having lost his child as if it was some one else's. He closed his eyes and was only able to nod in confirmation.
"I am afraid," Diego sighed to compose himself again, "I will have to tell Consuela, our housekeeper too."
"Excuse me?" Victoria didn't like that idea.

"Well, to make you more comfortable and have your absolute rest, she has to know to help you … you know, when I am not around at the moment you need help." Diego sighed and got frustrated for not being able to say what was on his mind. "Victoria, I saw the mess… and she won't tell a soul."
"I am sorry for that," Victoria now felt very ill at ease with this masculine friend in her room.
"Don't say that, Victoria," he interrupted.

"Don't apologise to me again. You hadn't asked for this to happen and you needed someone," Diego cut off, "It may sound odd, but I am glad I was there for you."
Victoria started crying again by getting confirmed again how decent, noble, emphatic and affectionate Diego was. How was it possible he still is a bachelor?
"You will be alright Victoria, I am sure of that," Diego comforted her and stroke her hair.

"Hold me Diego," Victoria asked for more comfort.
Diego sat down and enveloped her with his arms. He felt her shiver, but while the time passed she stopped being cold.
"Come let's get you patched up a bit and leave to get you more comfortable." Diego suggested.

~Z~

A/N:

Some let me know what they thought of this story and some even admitted not having noticed what was really going on. If you still hadn't this chapter didn't leave any room for other thoughts than the subject it is dealing with. I hope I hadn't put Victoria or Diego out of their character, but against better judgement I do know it is very out of time for Diego having so close to Victoria at all. My p.o.v on the series is that De de la Vega men were very forward in their time and you will find out later I will use this in other chapters too.

Still, I should be apologizing for having abandonned you and this story. It still isn't finished and I have to admit I have been doing not well at all lately. However I feel I am going over it bits by bit, but still other things really need my attention. Whereas I wanted to show you my respects in return, I decided today to upload another chapter on this story Somehow I feel I failded you. To give you a slight view in my kitchen, I can tell you that .I already have 17 chapters written, but not every chapter has been beta-ed. I am not sure about the length of the whole story, whicht might get till 25 chapters. I really should finish it this still this year so my next year will have a clean a new life also starting in probabaly January, this really should wor having someone who wants to beta me, but also pushing me to finish this story might help.

All my love to you- Katinka