The Promise

by

 

Gail Manfre

 

 

 

CHAPTER THIRTY- SEVEN

 

SELENA’S TERROR

 

 

Diego hurriedly began getting into Zorro’s black silks, pausing before pulling on his headscarf and mask to express his fury regarding Glorioso’s ill treatment of Selena.

“Bernardo ... Selena is carrying my baby. Here I am, El Zorro, the Dark Knight, the Masked Avenger and I was unable to prevent Glorioso from brutalizing her!” The Fox clenched his fists and slammed them on the heavy wooden table in the cave. “Dios mi, mi preciosa, Selena!“ he shouted, startling Tornado in his stall.

Alarmed at the depth of Diego’s rage, Bernardo began to sign his thoughts. My master, you are obviously dealing with a lunatic. You have to tread very carefully. With Selena in his custody, Glorioso may lose control and kill her to spite you. This is something you must consider when dealing with someone of questionable mental stability.

Diego’s hands still gripped the table as if the piece of furniture were his only lifeline to sanity. "Of course,” he said after a lengthy silence, “you are right as usual, Bernardo. But I must take some sort of action. Today, I barely averted a riot in the Pueblo led by the péons and the shopkeepers. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed when Alcalde Baltazar appeared on the scene and supported me in persuading the crowd not to attack the cuartel. And the alcalde and several of the other regidores made certain that the péons would postpone antagonizing the Vizconde, albeit temporarily, until Gobernador de Sola’s arrival. That raton Glorioso will shoot anyone who approaches the Cuartel."

Bernardo continued signing. Glorioso believes that he has the right to arbitrarily decide who should live and who should die. Since the Señora is in his jail, he has total control of the situation. Worse, he realizes how much Selena means to you. I repeat, he will do everything he can to hurt you even if it means killing her.

His mozo retrieved a rapier from the rack of practice weapons in the cave. Bernardo checked the feel and balance of the sword in his right hand. Master, you are extremely angry and anger clouds your judgment and we both know poor judgment will...

Diego wiped his eyes, which had become blurry again with unshed tears at the thought that Selena might lose their child while in Glorioso’s custody. There was both wisdom and loving concern in Bernardo’s thoughts, he reminded himself, Bernardo loves you, Selena, and the unborn child very much. “Si, my friend, poor judgment will cause me to make a mistake that might cost all of us our lives,” Diego finally managed to say aloud.

Bernardo held up another rapier and threw it across the cave to him. You need to loosen up, his manservant insisted. En garde!

Diego‘s somber mood vanished at Bernardo‘s challenge. “Ah, well, if you insist, señor!” Diego poured his entire being into the mock duel, as he tossed aside the mask and deftly seized the rapier with genuine revolve. The hidalgo flexed his strong trapezeius muscles as he executed a compound attack with his rapier to work off the tension that had built up during his frustrating meeting with Glorioso. As Bernardo started to press his master’s blade again and again with his own sword to create an opening for his own spirited offense, the caballero responded with a series of rapid parries. Although the mute successfully blocked his master’s movements, Diego suddenly counterattacked by twisting his blade along Bernardo’s weapon several times. His mozo fell for Diego’s clever ploys of misdirection as the young hidalgo thrust his rapier forward and the manservant unexpectedly found himself disarmed. Bernardo bowed in gracious defeat and then applauded Diego’s bravura performance.

Bernardo’s master heaved a sigh of relief. “’Tis all in the wrist, my friend. Gracias for the fencing idea. Now,“ he added while splashing cool water on his face, “it is time to really apply pressure on the Vizconde. But first, I have to set some other things in motion,” Diego said as he scribbled a note and handed it to Bernardo.

“I do not have time to deliver this to my father,” The Fox said as he donned his mask. “What is the matter, Bernardo?” Zorro said as he saw his mozo’s shocked glance at his timepiece.

“Tis barely eleven o’clock in the morning ... Bernardo sighed as he waved his hands in the air and again pointed at his watch.

“Si, I know what time it is, but I dare not waste time because Selena ..” The Fox’s burned with rage and then he took several large deep breaths to relax. Finally he said, “Put on your black clothes. You shall briefly impersonate El Zorro after I have left for the pueblo!”

My master you do know how to fulfill my fantasies! Bernardo grinned at him.

The Fox pulled Bernardo’s black Zorro’s hat over his manservant’s face. “Very funny! Wish me luck!“ The Man in Black called out before plunging into the darkness outside.

As he admiringly watched horse and rider leave the secret cave, Bernardo was vastly relieved that he managed to temporarily dampen some of Diego’s impulsiveness.

 

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Don Alejandro sat in his patio incessantly stirring his hot chocolate, brooding over his beloved daughter-in-law languishing in Glorioso’s demonic clutches. He closed his eyes and beseeched His Maker once more to spare Selena --and --Diego any further anguish. Dios mi, yo quiero...”

PLOP! THUD!

“BY ALL THE SAINTS!” Don Alejandro nearly scalded himself as he jumped up at the sound of a rock landing on the tiled patio ground. A note addressed to me!” He ran to open the gate and saw a familiar rider in black on a dark horse waving from the road leading back to Los Angeles. Alejandro shook his head in amusement and returned the salute. My son, you were always the dramatic one, even in childhood,“ he mumbled to himself.

DON ALEJANDRO:

“The time has come to begin our move against Vizconde de Estrada. You, Don Alfredo and Don Cornelio must gather your vaqueros and commence your plans to isolate the Pueblo de Los Angeles from the outside world for at least the next couple of days. I am riding this afternoon to speak with Alcalde Baltazar and the regidores so they can keep the populace calm until the dons have taken control of all the access to the pueblo. As usual, Don Alejandro, please destroy this note after you have read this.”

EL ZORRO

Don Alejandro smiled to himself as he called a servant for his rapier and his horse. Well, well, it did not take long for Diego to make his decision. Make haste, Alejandro, for every minute Selena spends in Glorioso’s cuartel is a hellish eternity for her!

 

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

 

Selena thanked God once again that her father, like the descendants of most of the original thirty families that comprised the core of the Grandee class of Spain was a strict military disciplinarian. Don Martino de Rojas had always drilled his pair of female offspring in the importance of observing people. Humans’ body language revealed far more than their conversations and this knowledge had served her well at the Spanish Court. From her vantage point in her cell, Señora de la Vega had a full of view of the Cuartel and its surroundings, especially of the lancers’ barracks. Several times since her arrival this morning she overheard odd bits and pieces of the soldiers’ conversations. She learned that all was not well in the capitan’s personal and professional fiefdoms, the Cuartel and his house of ill repute. The lancers were growing tired of Glorioso’s brutality, and Teresa de Soto’s sarcastic attitude toward Glorioso further proved that things were not running smoothly for the Commandante financially.

Glorioso finally permitted her to leave his office and Selena looked hungrily at the food laying on the tray before her. Sergeant Garcia brought Señora de la Vega some soup and tortillas Teresa Soto had managed to cook from La Casa de Hospitalidad just for Selena to eat. She had only one tortilla and a large cup of Amontildar’s special herb tea early in the day and was ravenous. Corporal Reyes found a small bottle of wine and proudly offered it to her. Señora de la Vega’s eyes glistened with tears. Reyes was heartbroken and his face fell. Selena dried her eyes and noticed both men walking away and begged them to stay with her. Reyes, of course, was delighted with her change in mood.

“Señores, please be careful. If the capitán discovers that you are treating me so well, he shall have your hides!” Selena cautioned Diego’s friends.

Reyes shook his head. “For once Señora, I must disagree. I do not care what Glorioso does to me. That one is muy loco and cruel.”

Garcia gaped at Reyes in total shock. Twice in the past month, Reyes was actually making sense! Who would have thought he used his head for something other than a hat rack? The sergeant mused.

“S-si, Señora de la Vega.” the sergeant dropped his voice to a whisper. “There is talk among the soldiers that they should no longer obey Glorioso’s orders. We are quite upset over the Commandante’s... ah ...disrespect for such an important man as Don Diego,” he added sotto voce.

Ah, I guessed correctly, then. The soldiers’ resentment of the Vizconde’s ruthless authority became firmly entrenched by the Commandante’s public flogging of my husband. The lancers hold Diego in such high esteem they considered Glorioso’s actions to be almost blasphemous. Interesting. Selena lifted up her head to comment on Garcia’s remark as she finished eating the last of the tortillas. Mon Dieu, non! Glorioso is coming!

Atencion, peligro!” Selena cautioned. “Ah, Capitán Glorioso thank you for the food. It was simply delicious!” She said in a loud voice.

Garcia and Reyes’ faces became expressionless masks before the capitán reached her cell to ostensibly determine if Selena had everything she needed for her first night in the Cuartel. But the Commandante was not fooled by her bravado.

“You are most welcome, Señora de la Vega.” he replied politely mostly for the benefit of Garcia and Reyes. Glorioso turned his back to her and muttered under his breath that they had better return to their posts en seguida! Although ordered to leave their posts pronto, the lancers deliberately walked slowly and reluctantly away from her cell.

As soon as Garcia and Reyes were out of sight, Glorioso leaned closer to her cell and grabbed one of her wrists. Selena cried out, for his touch reopened

some of the rope cuts. Soon, Señora de la Vega, he whispered to her I shall remove a lady of your charm and social class from this cesspool,” and he added lasciviously, “you shall discover what inestimable pleasure it is to become my woman and mine alone!“ Without uttering another word, he stalked back into his office loudly slamming the heavy wooden door behind him.

A half-hour later, Corporal Peldar, Lancers Gomez and Esteves came to take her into the Commandante’s office.

“Put her in my quarters and stretch out her arms against the mattress and tie them to the bedpost, Peldar,“ Glorioso ordered nonchalantly, “but not too tightly. After all, the prisoner is the wife of a don!” The lancers carried out his orders and treated her as roughly as they did before.

Oh, my arms ... by morning I shall be in a fine state. she thought darkly. Then Selena remembered the predatory, hungry desire in Glorioso’s eyes last night before he shoved a gag into her mouth. She trembled in terror as she realized suddenly what the Commandante’s planned to do to her. Diego! Where are you my beloved? I want to be away from this couchon so badly and I miss you terribly. But be very careful, my love, the Commandante is a man who has nothing to lose! Selena mentally prayed her rosary, praying not for herself, but for the deliverance of the citizens of Los Angeles from the evil tyranny of Capitán Glorioso. But she saved her most special prayers for her dearest husband. Mon Renard, whatever decision you have made regarding this raton of a commandante, I only hope that you will be very cautious. When she finished her rosary she added a special petition for the safety of the horseman known as Zorro.

Glorioso ate an early dinner of arroz con pollo and then strolled into his office in the Cuartel to check on his prisoner, Señora de la Vega. Her body jerked up at the sound of the door creaking. How I wish it were El Zorro...

“Ah, buenos tardes, Señora, I have returned to make you feel better, he added sarcastically, eyeing her obvious discomfort at having her hands tied above her head for several hours. “But I think that now you have learned your lesson that it is futile to resist me, eh?”

Selena did her best to ignore his verbal darts and turned her head away from him. A single tear crept from her left eye and slowly meandered down her cheek.

“Your concern for me is touching, Señora. You will have no time for such sadness when I bed you, my dear. Then you will finally know what it is like to be touched by a real man!” He continued speaking as he untied her arms and gently rubbed them to help circulate the blood in them. “Better?”

Selena shook her head in agreement. “Sí.”

“Bueno. Teresa Soto is coming in a little while so you can have help with your toilette. And a change of clothes.” She gasped when Glorioso pulled Selena up by her wrists, which caused sharp pain to radiate up through her shoulders.

“If you promise not to scream I shall remove the gag.”

Selena again nodded her assent.

“Very well.” No sooner had he removed the disgusting bit of cloth than he forced her head back and crushed his lips against hers.

“NO!” She tried to wriggle free but it was useless.

“I have decided now is the proper time for us to get better acquainted, Selena. With very little effort her pushed her back down on the bed.

Selena shuddered. Blessed Virgin help me! What can I do? I can hardly feel my arms. Wrists are aching. Head throbs. I have but one chance. Then she kicked him hard in one of his shins. The capitán merely laughed at her.

“Excellente. I adore it when my prey struggles. It only adds excitement to the hunt!” Glorioso again pinned her arms above her head and proceeded to attack her. Selena’s last rational thought was of Diego and the love that bound them together for eternity.

 

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

“Señora de la Vega, it is Teresa. Por favor, wake up! You are all right. He has gone for now,“ Teresa Soto whispered to her as Selena managed to sit up.

“He ... he...” Selena started crying but stopped abruptly because it could have been much worse. She remembered the brutal and feral look in his eyes while he ravished her.

“Believe me, Señora I know how you feel. Come, I will help you get cleaned up and I brought a change of clothes. Do not worry, Señora de la Vega. El Zorro will come to your rescue, Señora Selena, he is such a clever handsome rogue!"

Selena nodded wordlessly, but inwardly recoiling over the horror she endured at Glorioso’s hands. She continued to bathe herself and then Teresa helped her into fresh lingerie, a riding outfit, and combed her hair.

"Could you possible leave me alone for a few minutes Señora?" Selena politely asked after Señora Soto finished her ministrations.

Teresa gave her an empathetic look and closed the door behind her as she left Capitán Glorioso's personal quarters.

Selena finally permitted herself to break down completely. How will I ever be able to inform Diego that the commandante has taken advantage of me? Would he understand? She had always heard tales of women who had been ravished and, when they told the nearest male relative, they were usually regarded thereafter with suspicion and/or shunned by polite society. Or so she had heard. Please forgive me Diego. I tried to fight him to the best of my ability. I have prayed to the Blessed Virgin to give you the understanding to forgive me.

Teresa knocked loudly on the Commandante’s bedroom door. "Señora de la Vega, Glorioso is returning to his office and I am coming into the bedroom to help you finish dressing."

Selena hastily wiped away her tears and smiled warmly at Señora Soto.

“Gracias for all of your help Teresa. I promise you that I will leave any further heroics to the Fox! But, mon amie, I cannot help but think that you will get into trouble ...."

Teresa dismissed Selena’s concern with a wave of her hand. "Pah!" Both women suddenly froze they heard Capitán Glorioso bellowing for Teresa in his office.

"Soto! What are you doing here?"

"I am here by your command, capitán. You sent for me to attend to Señora de la Vega."

"Sí. I had forgotten my request.” Glorioso replied quietly but his eyes followed Teresa’s every move.

"I am finished now. May I go, commandante? I have business to attend to!" Teresa flippantly said.

The commandante narrowed his eyes. "Puta, remember your place." He said evenly. His large hands fingered the whip that he always carried. "Or do you want another taste of my little companion?" Glorioso warned.

 

END OF CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

 

 

 

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