Chapter 5

The next two weeks kept them both very busy. There was so much do until the wedding, from hiring servants for the new house, to buying new furniture and equipment. Fortunately, many of servants, who had worked for the Martinez family, were grateful to get back their former position and become loyal members of the new household.

Diego had to move all his belongings from the hacienda to their new home and also prepare the new cave for Toronado in secret while Victoria had to get her dress ready and find a temporary manager for her tavern while she was too occupied with her future home to work at the tavern. Diego had left it to her to equip the interior according to her taste and hire the servants she would oversee in the house.

"Hola Diego, you're up early," Victoria greeted him as he entered the kitchen.

"Hola, Victoria," Diego took her in his arms and kissed her while they were still alone. "I have been missing you yesterday, Querida and I can't wait to hold you in the night," he whispered, making her blush. Pilar looked at them knowingly when Diego released Victoria again the moment her helper entered the kitchen.

"Did you already have breakfast, Diego?" Victoria asked.

"No, I thought I could have it with you," he smiled.

"I didn't have breakfast yet, but there is so much to do and.," Victoria looked stressed and tired though it was still morning and the tavern hadn't open yet.

"Sit down then," he ordered, leading her to a table in the main room. Pilar was surprised that Victoria didn't object. "Pilar, please bring us some coffee and something to eat."

Diego acted differently around Victoria since they were engaged. Not only that he showed how much he cared, but he was also very protective. Besides the scandal, Victoria had definitely made the right choice to give in to Diego.

"I have bad news from the house," Diego began, "the leak in the roof won't be fixed until Friday next week and the new bathtub will be a week late too."

"Oh no, Diego, the wedding is on Monday and the house won't be ready. What shall we do?" Victoria was crushed by the prospect that they couldn't move into the house after the wedding.

"You look tired, Victoria, you have been working too much with all the preparations for Monday and the moving into the new house. We have hardly seen each other recently."

"Yes, I know, but there is so much to be done and now it still won't be ready."

"The workers only need a few more days and they have promised me that everything will be finished in a week. Ana, our new housekeeper, will take care that everything is cleaned up and ready."

"But a week is still too late." Victoria said miserably, putting her elbows on the table and resting her head in her hands.

"I went to Santa Paula yesterday and I found a lovely little tavern there. They are expecting us there on Monday evening. We will have time just for us, Querida." Diego smiled.

"A honeymoon? You want us to spend our honeymoon in Santa Paula?" Victoria smiled happily. "I'd like that very much."

"Or do you prefer to spend the nights in the old windmill?" Diego teased her.

"Yes, you on your side and I on my side. Don't you even dare thinking about it, Diego de la Vega! I'll never let you do that again." Victoria hit him playfully on the arm, but when she looked at him longingly, he couldn't resist kissing her.

"Don Diego, Victoria, here is your coffee," Pilar interrupted them with their breakfast.

After breakfast Diego was soon on his way again. The new stall for Toronado wasn't ready yet and it was something that couldn't wait.

Z Z Z

Diego had decided not to ride as Zorro until the wedding, not only because he was too busy with all the preparations, but he couldn't risk something happening to him, leaving Victoria ruined behind if he died before they were married.

Z Z Z

The next few days they saw each other only shortly, having not much time. There were many things they had to do separately; Victoria didn't want Diego to see her wedding gown before they went to church and Diego had to pack everything he wanted to move to their new home.

Diego tried to have either lunch or dinner together with Victoria at the tavern mainly in the quiet hours during siesta to give them both a break.

He didn't care the looks they were thrown when they were sitting together at the table. Victoria didn't like it, but he restrained himself to behave a little distant while they were in public. Though he wanted to hold her hand, be it only under the table, or to court her openly with compliments and kisses on the hand as he did when they were unobserved, they couldn't have anyone speculating that he might be Zorro.

Z Z Z

Mendoza was one of the last guests to leave for siesta that day and Diego called him over to their table.

"Sergeant, would you care to share a drink with us."

"I'm not sure, Don Diego," Mendoza stopped at their table not sure how to handle their engagement, but on Diego's insistence he took a seat.

"Do you want to say you're no longer my friend, Mendoza?" Diego inquired, noticing his uneasiness.

"Of course, I'm still your friend, not matter what the others say about you," he looked apologetically at him and Victoria. "But..,"

"But what, Mendoza?" Diego nudged him to speak out.

"You must understand that Zorro is my friend too. He saved my life several times. And I don't want Zorro get angry with me as he is with you."

"I don't think Zorro will be angry with you, because you're still friends with Diego," Victoria tried to put him at rest. "I had a long talk with Zorro and he has accepted my decision. Of course he didn't like it and he needs some time to work it out."

"You did? And Zorro has accepted it?" Mendoza looked surprised at Victoria.

"Yes, he knows I couldn't wait forever when he wasn't able to marry me in the foreseeable future. And now there is something we would like to ask you." Victoria could see Mendoza's relief upon her confirmation.

"Mendoza, I want you to be my best man," Diego addressed him.

"Me, your best man?" Mendoza stuttered. "I'd never have expected that. Of course, I'm honored, Don Diego." Mendoza smiled over his whole face.

"It's Diego for my friends," Diego added.

"Jaime for you then," Mendoza couldn't believe it.

"And you're expected to lead me down the aisle too," Victoria added smilingly.

"Of course, Victoria. I will do that too." Mendoza couldn't hide his excitement. "But what about your father and Felipe, Do.., Diego?"

"They will return after the wedding, so they won't attend."

"Wouldn't it be better to wait with the wedding until they have returned?" Mendoza suggested.

"No, it won't!" Diego's tone of voice made clear that he didn't want to discuss that topic and Mendoza understood that the breakup between father and son was even more serious than he had thought.

Diego getting married after all and then without his family. And Victoria's brothers weren't able to come either because Victoria couldn't inform them time. Inwardly, he shook his head. It would be a sad wedding then, and he decided to talk about it with some friends.

Z Z Z

It had been the last night Diego had been sleeping in his old bed under his father's roof. This house was no longer his home and he left it with mixed feelings. While sad about the turn of events he looked forward to his new life with Victoria and the next days and nights they'd spend in Santa Paula.

Accompanied by the best wishes of his father's servants who were sorry to see him leave, he left in time for the ceremony, trying to hide his nervousness.

When he entered the church to wait at the altar, he was surprised to find the church nearly filled. Too nervous to look around he recognized the faces of many friends.

Victoria looked splendid in her wedding gown as she walked down the aisle led by Jaime Mendoza and Diego couldn't take his eyes from her.

"You look wonderful, Querida," he whispered in her ear inaudibly for the rest of the community. By the slight shaking of her hand he could tell that she was a nervous as he.

Mendoza was very excited too and nearly dropped the rings when he was asked to present them.

After the sermon of Padre Benitez about marriage that neither of them heard, there was finally the moment to answer the questions. Victoria heard him say his 'I do' and when he turned to her she only looked into his blue eyes knowing he was the man she loved.

Her voice was shaking a little when she said her 'I do', but she couldn't miss the happiness in Diego's eyes before he finally kissed her.

In front of the church the soldiers were waiting on the alcalde's orders who had hoped for Zorro to interrupt. Instead of looking out for Zorro, they formed a guard of honor for the surprised couple to walk through. It guided them to the tavern for the reception party that the Pilar and the other girls had organized.

"Was that your idea, Jaime?" Diego asked happily and the sergeant grinned broadly. "I am the sergeant here and I consider this as an exercise. My men wish you all the best, Diego."

Diego and Victoria had to shake many hands from their friends who had taken the time to attend their wedding.

The young caballero was well liked in the community and he had won many friends by helping other people in need even if he didn't fight with a sword like Zorro. They took the chance to express their gratitude and appreciation of his work, wishing him luck and happiness on this special day.

Victoria's commitment to speak out for the poor and help them when she could had made her also very popular. Even though many scolded her for abandoning Zorro, they thought she had made the right decision to finally marry her best friend who could offer her more security than an outlaw.

There was music and laughter, and after Diego had opened the dancing with Victoria, they hardly had a break anymore. Everyone wanted to dance with either the bride or the bridegroom. The party was still in full swing when the couple excused themselves to head for Santa Paula.

Z Z Z

"Are you happy, Victoria?" Diego asked when he lifted her in his arms to help her out of the carriage in front of the tavern in Santa Paula.

"Very happy, Diego, it was a wonderful party, better than I had expected it, but now I want to be alone with you."

"I want that too, Querida. I have been missing you so much and I can't wait to have you back in my arms." Taking her by the hand he led into the tavern. Everything was ready for them and the owners assured them with a smile that they wouldn't be disturbed.