The Promise

by

 

Gail Manfre

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

 

THE UNWELCOME GUEST

 

Juan Ramon Glorioso, Visconde de Estrada groomed himself very meticulously the following morning because he was going to visit the object of his desire and lust, the exquisite, socially acceptable Señorita Selena de Rojas. He oiled his silver streaked black hair just so; leaving his a little disheveled with a few curls teasing his forehead. The capitán adjusted all of his military decorations and in a very conceited touch, replaced the customary dress white braid with two golden ones. Perhaps I should consider growing a thicker mustache. I am certain that would only increase my appeal to the Señorita. Glorioso grinned at his handsome reflection in the mirror and continued his mad daydreaming. With her fortune and my ancient title, Visconde de Estrada, I will have more power than ever before! Who knows perhaps I can eventually return to Mexico. Then El Jefe, Santa Anna, will finally appreciate me. Perhaps one day I will even challenge Santa Anna for control of Mexico!

Sergeant Garcia watched disgustedly as Capitán Glorioso mounted his horse, Bellum, and ordered the Cuartel gates to be opened. "What an ego the Commandante has! I am certain that he wants to wed Señorita Selena de Rojas and I feel sorry for her if she excepts his proposal of marriage. He is a bad one, much worse than Monastario ever was,” Garcia said to Corporal Reyes.

Corporal Reyes sighed wistfully. "You have to admit Sergeant Garcia that Señorita de Rojas is very beautiful. I wish that I had money and I could marry her!"

Garcia could not believe his ears. "Why in the world would Señorita de Rojas want to marry you? You only a corporal in the Spanish army! You are like a worm to her. And besides, where would you get enough money to court her?”

“But Sergeant, if I had that much money, then the Señorita might consider my courtship. Do you not think so?" Reyes responded innocently.

Baboso! Even if you were the King of Spain, she would not look at you. It will take more than money and a title to win that lady’s generous heart. Are you not afraid for her?“ Garcia stood with his large hands his hips, looking with disgust at the corporal.

Reyes’s mouth fell open and his large brown eyes widened in genuine surprise. “She is in danger? Who has threatened the Señorita, tell me Sergeant Garcia and I will rush to her aid immediamente!”

Idioso! Calm down!” Garcia leaned closer to him. “Do you want someone to hear you? You know that this Commandante is a scoundrel! He wants her and he would force the Señorita to marry him!”

Reyes shook his head. “That is terrible, Sergeant Garcia! Everyone in Los Ángeles knows that Don Diego wants to marry the señorita. But I have one question.”

“Si, what is it, now corporal?” replied the sergeant, now anxious to get out of the sun and take a siesta.

“What is a scoundrel, Sergeant Garcia?”

“Well, you see corporal, a scoundrel is ...oh, baboso, never mind!” He pointed to the stables and ordered Reyes to help Lancer Peldar clean out the stalls. “Immediamente!” The sergeant looked heavenward and then his wide shoulders drooped. “Madre de Dios! Even that horrible place, La Casa, looks inviting due to this unusual October heat and my dealings with Reyes. Just when I thought he was making sense for the first time in his life! he thought disgustedly. “Well, I will just have to drown my sorrows in a mug of wine.” Garcia said aloud as he stalked from the Cuartel and headed for the tavern.

Reyes rubbed his head in bewilderment as he watched he portly sergeant head straight for the La Casa. “What did I do, eh?”

 

ZZZZZZZZZZZ

 

Amontildar Perrileaux was in the patio arranging some roses for the sala’s table and sipping some café au lait when she heard a rider stop outside the patio gate. She peered through the gate’s peephole and frowned. “Oh, no! I had forgotten today is Wednesday! Mon Dieu! C’est Le Diable himself, Commandante Glorioso!” Amontildar collected her wits. Me, I had better receive him first and then go warn my mistress.

The odious Spaniard glared at Mam‘selle Perrileaux as if she were some sort of annoying insect that needed swatting. Selena’s criada greeted the capitán civilly. “May I help you, Monsieur Commandante?” She asked without smiling.

Glorioso said imperiously. “You may. Please you will inform Señorita de Rojas at once that Capitán Juan Glorioso is here to see her! “

“Monsieur Le Capitaine, may I inquire-” Amontildar began.

He interrupted Selena’s personal maid as he lost his patience. “You may not! Just obey my orders, Negro! I will not explain myself to you again! Now go!”

She curtsied politely and asked him to please sit down. “Of course, Monsieur. But first, please be seated and I shall obtain the refreshment,“ she replied amiably as she rang a silver bell on the nearby patio table. Sauvage bete! [Savage animal] She mumbled just out of the capitán’s earshot.

“Si, Señorita Perilleaux?” Teodores strolled into the patio. “You wish something?” The giant Chumash Indian contemptuously watched Glorioso through narrowed eyes. But

the Capitán ignored the question, because, after all a Grandée never spoke to servants, especially Negroes and Indians.

“Bring some hot chocolate and service for two, Teodores,” Amontildar asked.

“Bueno, señorita, at once.” Teodores slowly walked away from the patio full of fear, not for himself, but for his mistress, Selena.

Amontildar bowed to Glorioso. “Your pardon, mon capitaine. I must take your leave to fetch the señorita. Excusez-moi, s’il vous plait.” She scurried as fast as she could up the stairs to Selena’s’ bedroom.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZ

“Mam’selle! Mam’selle! That couchon the Commandante is in the patio demanding that you see him tout de suite!”

What on earth could Glorioso want with her? Selena wondered. It was ten thirty in the morning and she was trying to close up the hacienda in preparation for her move into Diego’s house. “Oh, by my faith Amontildar! I completely forgot I invited the bete for refreshments today but it was for this afternoon! Do not antagonize him Amontildar. I shall go to the patio now!”

Amontildar whispered to her mistress as they descended the stairs into the sala. “Please, chere, you watch him like de faucon, [hawk] you hear? Me, I watch dat Spaniard from de bay window.”

“Merci beaucoup. J’espere que vous avez tort du capitaine mais je crains que vous corrige le plus certainement en ce qui concerne lui. Il est un homme tres dangereux! [“Thank you. I hope you are wrong but I fear you are most certainly correct regarding the capitiane. He is a very dangerous man.“

“D’accord, mam’selle,” [Agreed mistress]. replied the Creole servant,

Selena held her head high and glided effortlessly from her sala into the patio. “Capitán, you should really send a messenger before you decide to visit me earlier than I expected. Then I could have had the red velvet cake ready for our tête-à-tête!” Selena poured on all the charm she possessed and raised her right hand for him to kiss.

“I like to surprise people,” he responded cryptically. The capitán looked around the patio and noticed packages and bundles stacked in a corner. “Ah, Señorita, your hacienda is in splendid condition,” Glorioso said in between sips of his hot chocolate, “surely you are not renovating?”

“Oh, no. I am preparing to move.” Selena hid her delight behind one of her silk fans as Glorioso’s eyes widened. Mi Commandante, perhaps I should have Teodores bring you some brandy rather than hot chocolate when you hear my reason for moving.

“I do not understand señorita,” replied an obviously bewildered Glorioso.

“Commandante, you may call me Selena.”

He bowed his head. “’Selena, a most endearing name. You are leaving Los Ángeles?” Glorioso began sweating as his blood pressure rose. Dios! I pray not. Then all my plans for uniting our Grandee blood will be useless, to say nothing of the size of her dowry I will lose. He thought bitterly.

She laughed. “No I am engaged to be married and my fiance believes that ...”

“What?” he gasped. “Your indulgence, Selena, but am I to understand that you are betrothed? Already?” The sinister sycophant retorted in astonishment. “Surely not, señorita!”

“Si.” was all she said. How I love seeing you squirm! Selena wryly noted to herself. More hot chocolate?” Selena asked, pretending to be oblivious to his distress.

Glorioso’s face twisted with anger. No, I can not permit anyone to interfere with my plans! But he calmed himself down and asked her the name of the caballero through gritted teeth. His normally icy blue eyes remain riveted on her face as the white-hot fires of lust flared in his soul. “Who is the lucky caballero?”

Don Diego de la Vega.” Selena was now acutely aware how agitated Glorioso had become. The capitán’s veins bulged in his neck and his pupils seemed to grow exponentially with each passing minute. Then his entire body went rigid.

“Señorita, I find it difficult to believe that you would entertain the idea of wedlock with such a weakling as de la Vega. I simply cannot believe that you would accept second best ...a lady of your Grandee class should marry a physically strong virile man, such as myself!” Glorioso shouted as he slammed his cup with such force that it shattered against the patio’s iron table.

“Indeed?” Selena replied coolly. “Gracias for your vastly inflated opinion of yourself, Commandante Glorioso. Now please leave! Oh, Mon Dieu!” she jumped as he suddenly leapt from his seat.

Glorioso lunged for her before Selena finished speaking, tossing aside the wrought iron patio chairs as if they were light as feathers. “Come here, señorita!” he hissed.

The señorita moved with surprising swiftness as she deftly eluded his first attack. Selena then picked up the heavy silver chocolate pot and hurled it at his face as she turned to run into her hacienda. He merely laughed at her and used his mañuelo to hastily wipe the hot chocolate, which had landed on the left sleeve of his uniform. Unfortunately for Selena, Glorioso was far more agile then she was and not encumbered by a long dress and heels.

He threw the table aside, grabbed Selena and tried to kiss her but failed. Selena managed to break his hold around her waist and, backhanded him across the face. She paused to catch her breath. Remain calm, Selena.. Teodores! Call for Teodores! She thought.

Astonished by her formidable physical strength, he said menacingly, “I shall not make the same mistake twice. Nothing can stop me, Selena. Nothing. You are alone, woman, all alone!” He circled around her, edging himself closer and closer toward Selena. Glorioso carefully feigned his next attack to his right, and the señorita sidestepped him.

“Perfecto, Selena! Now you have nowhere to run!” he crowed.

When she saw that Glorioso had positioned himself between her and the hacienda’s entrance Selena did the only thing she could. She yelled for her Indian servant, Teodores.

“Teodores! J’ai besoin de vous! Aidez-vous moi! Maintenant! [Now, Teodores! I need you, help me!] TEODORES! TEODORES!”

Momentarily paralyzed by the shock of seeing her worst fears realized regarding Glorioso, Amontildar also shouted for the Indian servant. Desperately searching for anything to use as a weapon, she grabbed a broom and ran outside.

“Where is your beloved fiancé, Diego de la Vega?” Glorioso sneered as finally succeeded in grasping her wrists and pulling them behind her back. He adjusted his grip and used one hand to keep her arms pinned against her body to grant her the high honor of his kiss. “Maravillosa. So beautiful, he murmured into her ear.

Selena finally realized the futility of breaking free from his excruciatingly hard embrace and temporarily relaxed her body against him. When Glorioso’s lips touched her own, Selena bit him on his mouth as hard as she could.

“AYIEE! PUTA!!

 

END OF CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

 

 

 

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