This story is an amateur, not-for-profit publication produced solely for the enjoyment of other Zorro fans and is not intended to infringe upon any rights by Goodman/Rosen Productions, New World Television, Zorro Productions, the estate of Johnston McCulley or anyone else.

Death or Marriage

A/N: I know you're all waiting for an update of A New Life, but I need to work on that before I can publish another chapter. Instead I hope you'll enjoy this one too. It was beta read by Klingonkitten.

At the French/Spanish border there is a a watch tower called Tour (Tower) Madeloc marked as an outlook high in the Pyrenees. The first time I went there, it was a very stormy day and the road was very steep (22%) and narrow, so I was scared to be blown off the road. When I returned there this year, I didn't go up there again, but when I needed a Spanish sounding name I took Madeloca.

Chapter 1

Diego looked up from his desk in his newspaper office when he heard someone enter. It took him a moment to recognize the young woman. It was Agnes Madeloca, the seventeen year old daughter of Don Frederico, one of the Caballeros who had a small hacienda just outside of Los Angeles. "So the great Zorro is none other than Diego de la Vega," she said.

Diego looked at her shocked and surprised. How did she find out?

"I think you are mistaken, Senorita. I'm nothing like Zorro. I can't even handle a sword!" He tried to discourage any comparison between him and Zorro.

"Of course, you are. Don't try to fool me," she said in a determined voice. "Two days ago Zorro saved the coach from Santa Barbara from attack by bandits. I was on that coach with my aunt. While Zorro and the other passengers were fighting the bandits, Zorro was knocked out for a moment."

Diego remembered how he had been hit by luggage that had come loose on the carriage roof. He had fallen from Toronado losing consciousness for a moment.

"While the other passengers were busy taking care of the other bandits, I took the chance to look under the mask before my aunt returned with some water." Diego was stunned. He had never anticipated such a moment.

"I don't think the alcalde will arrest me only on your word. You have no proof. As I said before, I'm nothing like Zorro."

"The alcalde may not believe me at first, but I think a close examination of your body will reveal all those injuries you must have received as Zorro over the years. That will be enough to convince him."

"So you can hand me over to the alcalde and collect the reward money." Diego said appearing calm on the outside while he tried to figure out what she would do with her knowledge. "But if you wanted to do that you would have done that already. So why did you come to me first?"

"I want you to marry me!" Senorita Madeloca said triumphantly.

"No!" Diego was shocked. "You can't expect me to marry you! I don't love you and you don't love me. There is someone else in my life!"

"I don't care about that. My aunt wants me to marry my cousin who is horrible. Why should I take him when I can have you? The richest bachelor in the whole area! You'll learn to love me once we are married. And of course you will say goodbye to your tavern love. Who hasn't heart about the legendary hero and the tavern wench?"

"No! I won't leave Victoria. She is the woman I love and I will marry her!"

"You have little choice, Don Diego." Agnes smiled determinedly. "You'll either marry me or you and your family including your Victoria, will find yourselves on the gallows!"

"Please, Senorita," Diego grew desperate, "You can't really want that. Leave my family and Victoria out of it. I helped you and saved your life! Can't we talk about it like sensible people? Why do you want to marry me? I understand that you may not want to marry the man your aunt has chosen for you, but there are other ways to get out of it."

"It's not only that I don't like my cousin, I want to be rich and have all the clothes that I want. And I have always admired Zorro whenever he came to the pueblo. I wanted him to pay attention to me, but you never even looked at me when I waved to you. But when you marry me, you will look at me and not at that tavern wench any more."

"But a marriage doesn't work like that! It's more than some nice clothes and some admiration. You're still pretty young and you need to learn about life. Why don't you go home and think about it again? If it's about money we can talk about it." Diego tried to talk some sense into her.

"I'm not a child anymore to just be sent along home. I'm seventeen and old enough to marry and I have given it a thought the last two days since I found out. I want you as my husband!"

"Just think about it again. Are you really able to send a man's family to the gallows because that man won't do what you want?"

Agnes bit her lips a bit and Diego hoped she would give in, but it was in vain.

"I think I have made clear what I want! If I have you hanged then I will have the bounty and be rich too. Agnes opened the door. "You will marry me or I'll call for the soldiers to turn you in! So what will it be?" Agnes demanded.

"As you wish, Senorita!" Diego realized he had no choice. "But don't think I'll ever love you!" His voice was cold.