The Gift

 

 

   

CHAPTER 22

THE GIFT

 

EARLY CHRISTMAS MORNING

DECEMBER 25, 1821

 

 

Just before dawn, a stranger clad in black silk stealthily entered the bedroom of Moneta de la Vega. The masked man bent down and brushed his lips against the neck of the sleeping lady. He paused to gauge her reaction. She slept peacefully on. Dios! I know that she did not drink a sleeping potion earlier! he said to himself. Zorro used his leather-gloved index finger and traced a pattern from her right ear lobe to the base of her throat.

Moneta mumbled something and started to turn over on her other side when he took a red rose, minus the thorns and very gently rubbed the flower all across her cheek.

Señora de la Vega’s eyes fluttered open and her eyes bulged in wonder when she recognized the figure of El Zorro.

"Why are you here Señor,” she winked at him, “and what could you possibly want with me?" Moneta asked in mock indignation. She demurely held up the bed covers around her neck. “Diego de la Vega, my husband, does not tolerate male intruders in his wife’s bedchamber!”

"Surely, you know that I am not here to harm you, Señora de la Vega?” He hid a smile as bowed before her and then raised the back of her right hand to his lips.

Moneta was enjoying this most pleasant surprise. “What was it that Diego had told me in the garden on the day that he proposed to me? Oh, sí, I remember, she thought to herself, “I promise you, Senorita Moneta, that life with me will never be dull!” I shall follow Señor Fox’s lead and see where this little game ends.

Your husband, Don Diego, has asked me to escort you to a very special place. But you must accompany me now! "El Zorro held open a velour robe for her to wear over her wool nightgown. “You shall need this wrap since it is quite chilly this morning!”

"Now? " said Señora de la Vega. “But I am so fatigued!” she was unable to stifle a yawn.

El Zorro threw the robe over her shoulders and picked her up into his arms. "No more arguments, Señora de la Vega. We're leaving now!"

Moneta had no idea what El Zorro would do next and she had to admit that her curiosity was piqued by his sudden appearance in her bedroom. She found herself being bundled downstairs to the secret cave where Tornado waited for his master. ‘Well, Moneta, this is not altogether an unpleasant way to wake up in the morning!” she giggled to herself.

She snuggled close to him, deeply inhaling the masculine aroma of his body and the latent smell of one of his cubanos.

"Señor Zorro?"

“Sí?"

"Am I permitted to ask where we are going?"

“No and no more questions or speaking, por favor!" He pulled her even closer to him as he urged Tornado into a full gallop.

The early Christmas morning air was pleasantly cool - and laced with an aroma that Moneta could not identify. But the gentle rocking motion she felt while riding Tornado reminded her of ... THE SEA! Indeed after they had ridden but a few minutes, Moneta inhaled deeply and smelled the refreshing saltiness of the ocean. ‘If I am dreaming,’ Moneta said to herself, ‘then I do not think that I want to awaken from this reverie for a long, long time!’

How much longer ..” Rather than scold her again for disobeying his order to remain silent, Zorro nibbled at her ear as he whispered huskily. “Be patient, Señora de la Vega, we are almost there,” Tornado and his two riders silently rode through the night sky, which was blushing rose with the pending dawn. Soon they arrived at their destination. The Fox alighted from Tornado and deftly set Moneta’s satin slippered feet on the cool, wet grass.

“Oh, Señor Zorro--I mean Diego! The view is breath taking!”

He laughed. “Yes, I thought so. There is nothing like spending private time alone with my beloved wife in our cottage overlooking the ocean! As you know, my father had built a cottage for him and... my mother ..“ He hesitated briefly, because Diego’s emotions were always close to the surface regarding the untimely death of his mother when he was ten years old. “My father and I are donating that cottage to Bernardo and his wife-to-be!“

Moneta said nothing; she just kept moving her eyes back and forth from her husband’s masked face and the pleasant scene before her.

But he mistook her silence as disapproval. Zorro firmly grasped her chin in his left hand. “Mi preciosa, tell me what is wrong and I shall endeavor to ...”

She shook her head. “Nothing is wrong.” No! I will not cry! I am too happy..” she said to herself.

He sighed but did not release her. “You are crying! But do you not like your Christmas present? We shall build a private cottage here, an oasis of love and peace away from everyone and everything. This is my very special gift to you, mi corazon!”

Moneta saw the half-puzzled and half-alarmed look in his eyes and immediately kissed him to erase any doubts he thought she had regarding the suitability of his present.

“Sí, Sí! Of course I adore my gift! As long as El Zorro is included with the present!” Moneta chided him.

Moneta hugged him so fiercely, he protested about the strength of her grip. “Querida mia! At least permit your husband to breathe so he can answer your question!”

“Oh!” she laughed and then looked up at Zorro, her eyes willing him to kiss her.

“Of course!” The Dark Knight tossed aside his silk mask and favored her with that brilliant, charming, and oh so sexy smile at her just before he brushed her cheek with a small kiss.

“But, Señor Zorro, I have nothing to give to you as a Christmas present!” she said worriedly.

“On the contrary, Señora de la Vega, “‘you gave me your body, your heart and your soul to cherish and love. What greater gift could a man or woman give to each other, save themselves, totally and completely for Eternity?“

For that question she had no answer except to offer him her lips so that he could once again claim her as his own.

 

THE GIFT

TERMINE

@COPYRIGHT GAIL D. MANFRE

APRIL 3, 2002

 

 

 

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