Ring of Fire
Diego looked up from fastening his
cuffs and smiled a greeting as Bernardo came into his room. The manservant
closed the door securely behind himself and turned back with a worried
look on his face. Concerned, Diego straightened the sleeve, and giving his
arm a final shake to make the ruffle lay down smoothly around his wrist,
gave his full attention to what Bernardo began to say.
Bernardo gestured a sign suggesting
a mustache which extended below the corners of the mouth, his sign for de
Irujo, and continued gesturing that Rodríguez had done something with
"Say that again. What has Rodríguez
done with de Irujo? He has not even had a trial yet," Diego
Bernardo shrugged as if to say,
'Maybe not, but....' Then he gestured again indicating someone working,
building something and digging holes.
"Working? Surely, he did not
send that scoundrel to San Juan Capistrano! His crime was too serious for
that. Why, if I had not been there...." Diego frowned. "Maybe he
is to be held in that prison. However, I have not heard that it was being
used for prisoners yet. I
suppose it might be just about finished and he could be one of the first
Bernardo frowned and shook his head.
He repeated the sign for someone working and looked hard at Diego.
Diego ran his hand over the back of
his neck, then shook his head worriedly. "Well, I did say that with
Rodríguez one could not depend on him doing what he should," he said
'You tell Señorita Ania now?' the
mute gestured, his expression indicating his worry.
not yet," was Diego's surprising answer.
He explained as Bernardo looked at him questioningly. "I do
not want to alarm her unless I must. We will first talk to our overly
merciful comandante to see what he has to say about this situation. If his
answer does not satisfy me then we will warn Ania and make what
arrangements we can for her safety," "It would seem that the
only way de Irujo would be punished as he should would be if he had
succeeded in killing Ania." He frowned more deeply as he realized
that even that was not guaranteed. De Irujo had already killed at least
once and not received the full punishment of the law. Quickly, Diego
slipped on his chaqueta and turned to leave. Bernardo followed, hurrying
to keep up with Diego's long legged stride.
Capitán Rodríguez looked up at the
knock on his office door. "Entre", he called absently as he
looked back down at the paperwork spread over his desk. He immediately
pushed the papers back as he realized that his guest was Diego de la Vega.
Hmmmm, apparently news travels fast, he thought as he took note of
the grim set to the young man's mouth. No doubt he has heard that de
Irujo is no longer here. "Ah, buenos dias, Don Diego," he
said aloud. "Do come in. What can I do for you today?"
"I would like to discuss
something rather unbelievable that I have heard, Capitán," Diego
began as he leaned against the back of the chair in front of the desk. His
manner was controlled and his voice showed only concern. The only
indication of anger that Rodríguez could see was a slight clenching of
the muscles along the young man's jaw line.
"Capitán, I have been told
that you have sent the man who attacked Señorita Valdéz to San Juan
Capistrano. Surely this cannot be so! Carlos de Irujo intended to, at the
very least, dishonor her by forcing himself upon her, or more likely,
intended to kill her to complete the revenge on her family. Such evil
surely warrants more than a work sentence, Capitán!" Diego stated
"Oh, but you yourself urged me
to be more merciful to those who have had too much to drink," Rodríguez
surprised him by saying.
"Had too much to
drink?!..." Diego repeated in shock. "That man was stone cold
"Well, I will admit that at
first examination, the man hid it well, but had you been here when I
questioned him, you would clearly have seen that he was drunk," Rodríguez
countered. "It seems to me that both you and the señorita have told
me upon occasion that I am too harsh with those in my care." He
frowned over the desk at Diego.
"Capitán Rodríguez, I hardly
see that Manolito Mería and Carlos de Irujo can be compared," Diego
insisted, recognizing the occasion to which the Capitán was referring.
continued conversationally, "a work sentence is not exactly light.
The man in question has, in general, led a life of leisure, earning extra
money by gambling. Good honest work might open his eyes and change his
attitude. Then he can be ejected from the colony of California, much as Señorita
Valdéz says he was from West Florida." The Capitán opened his
record book and turned it toward Diego. "Also you can see that I have
hardly been lenient with the amount of time he must work. Eighteen months
at hard labor should change him quite a lot before he has the chance to
return to his proud family."
"Ah, so that is it!" Diego
scowled. "You know of his uncle's place in the government. Is it that
you are afraid you might offend the uncle or is it just that you feel that
it is worse for a drunk peon to call you a thief than it is for a
nobleman's son to attempt to harm a young woman with whom you have never
gotten along? It seems that you view things from the wrong end of the
telescope, señor!" By now, Diego's eyes were showing his anger,
though he attempted to control it.
"Señor de la Vega, I do not
like your attitude in this. Only my having heard of your relationship with
the young woman tempers my urge to take you to task for insinuating that I
have let my personal dislike for her control my application of justice.
Since it will be quite some time before the colonial judge will be back in
our area, I decided that this was better than letting the man lounge
around in the jail all that time consuming the pueblo's food and doing
nothing. Also, I must remind you that the administration of a felon's
penalty is within the military realm, a realm in which it is considered
treason for a civilian to interfere. Need I remind you of the penalty for
that treason, Señor de la Vega?"
Diego scowled again as he rose from
his chair and stalked to the door.
Rodríguez rose quickly and spoke
soothingly as he courteously opened the door for the young hacendado.
"Do not worry, Don Diego. Now that the detachment of lancers is
stationed there, de Irujo will not escape. Señorita Valdéz will be quite
safe, I assure you."
"I shall hold you to that
promise, Capitán!" the young don said angrily, before he stalked
at least for now," Capitán Rodríguez finished as the door closed.
He then allowed himself a smile. By now, de Irujo and the peons would be
approaching San Juan Capistrano. The peons would soon be turned over to
the prison work detail. However, de Irujo would then be on his way to
Monterey. His name would, however, be on the roster of prisoners, just in
case anyone got curious. De Irujo had orders to make contact with a
resistance group that Rodríguez had learned of in the capital city. His
"partner", being as clever with words as that Valdéz woman,
would soon have his contacts believing that he was a go-between for a
rebel group in Los Ángeles, one that just happened to have the rare
distinction of having a woman as their link with an even bigger resistance
group. De Irujo also seemed to be a clever forger. Naturally, the group in
Monterey would be given several notes from this woman, notes that later
would clearly be seen to match the bothersome Señorita Valdéz's
handwriting. Move one in a deadly chess game had just been made. Rodríguez
smiled with anticipation as he returned to the paperwork that was an
unavoidable part of his job.
Bernardo could immediately tell just
by the set of his patron's shoulders that the meeting with the comandante
had not gone well. He quickly gestured, asking what had happened only to
have Diego answer by impatiently beckoning him to come on. When they had
ridden far enough out of the pueblo, Diego slowed down and told him that
the rumor he had heard was true. Rodríguez had indeed sent de Irujo to
the work camp.
"I only hope he will be kept
there,” Diego continued. When I was last at the prison, security was not
very tight. I am afraid that a determined man, such as I imagine de Irujo
to be, might not find it terribly hard to escape." Diego frowned
worriedly. "I think I will have to do a bit of investigating on my
Bernardo looked around and seeing no
one, signed a Z close to his body.
"Yes, but before I go, I think
I had better let Ania know what is going on," Diego said, "or at
least, what might be going on. He may be perfectly honest about sending de
Irujo to that camp, but then again that is almost too hard to believe of
the man. Yet, for all that, it makes me uneasy to trust Rodríguez on
this. I cannot imagine what
benefit he could receive by being lenient with de Irujo. Perhaps I am
looking for trouble where there is none this time." Shaking his head,
he urged Paseo into his smooth, but lazy canter.
Upon arriving back at the hacienda,
they were surprised to see a strange coach with the royal crest on its
door standing before the gate. Two lancers with uniforms cut slightly
different than those worn by the local soldiers were standing by the
coach, watching them approach.
"Buenos dias, señores,"
Diego began politely. "I am Diego de la Vega. This is my home. Might
I inquire as to how you came to be standing before my gate? Whose coach is
"Buenas dias, Señor de la
Vega," one soldier replied respectfully. "This is the coach of
Señor Ramón Teodoro Córdoba, Ambassador at Large to His Majesty the
King. We are here on personal business of Ambassador Córdoba."
"Ramón Córdoba...ah, yes! Señorita
Valdéz's cousin! Well, it seems that I have returned home at an opportune
time," Diego replied as he dismounted and handed his reins to a
servant. Perhaps I can delay leaving for a short while. Ania will want
me here at least for the first few hours Don Ramón is here. He
worried about it for a moment but decided that tonight would be soon
enough to go to the prison complex to make sure de Irujo had actually been
sent there. He did not intend for Ania to be out of his sight until then,
and he would be sure Bernardo and his father kept an eye on her while he
was gone. While Ania neither needed nor intended to ask anyone in her
family for permission to marry, she had wanted to talk with Don Ramón
before setting the actual date. This cousin represented the relatively few
family members to whom Ania still felt close. It was important to her that
he be able to be present at their wedding if at all possible. Diego also
wanted to get to know this soon to be cousin-by-marriage. Ania had had
many good things to say about him. It would be interesting to talk to
someone who had known Ania as she was growing up.
As he opened the sala door, he
caught sight of a very happy looking Ania seated beside a tall, dark
haired man with bright blue eyes. He appeared to be perhaps a couple of
years older than Diego, probably close to the age Ania said Felipe would
have been. In a chair across from him, his father was apparently enjoying
whatever had just been said.
Ania's face lit up even more as she
looked up and met Diego's eyes. Rising, she came to him and took his arm.
Then turning back toward Ramón, Ania smiled. "This is the man I was
just telling you about, Ramón. Diego, this is my cousin, Ramón Córdoba.
I would give his whole title, but if he hears it too often he will surely
begin thinking himself too important. Ramón, this is Diego de la Vega, my
fiancé." As she said the word 'fiancé', she looked back into
Diego's eyes. It said a lot about her relationship with this cousin that
she hid very little of what she felt.
As Diego looked at Ania, her
openness touched a cord within him.
A wave of tenderness swept through
him and he had difficulty for a moment resisting the urge to take her in
his arms, then and there. He contented himself with laying his hand over
hers and giving it a squeeze. His decorum preserved, he walked with Ania
further into the room, as Ramón rose to greet him.
"Ah, Don Diego! It is a
pleasure to meet the man who could tame this little swamp cat," Ramón
laughed as Ania looked at him sharply.
"Swamp cat?" Diego asked,
Ania chuckled and shook her head.
"Another word for the cougars that could be seen in the woods in our
area of West Florida," she explained. "Ramón, no one has dared
call me that for a long time now. Even my brothers soon decided it was not
"Well, you earned the title
honestly," he laughed.
"It seems that I have a lot to
learn about you as you were growing up, Ania," Diego commented as he
smiled down at her. He had the feeling that he was going to enjoy having
this man around. He wondered if the other men in Ania's family had been
such bold teasers. He would have been willing to bet that Juan had been,
based solely on the short length of time he had known Ania's twin.
"Hopefully, not so much as Ramón
thinks. I am glad to say that I have been fairly honest with you on that
score," Ania laughed. "I hope you at least will not send me
packing after listening to this scoundrel, and his no doubt one-sided
"Are you saying that I have a
tendency to make things up, cousin?" Ramón asked as he cocked an
eyebrow at her.
"No, I am saying that you
always loved to get me in trouble and apparently you have not changed, Ramón!"
Ania shook her finger at her cousin in playful admonition.
Laughing, Ramón returned to his
chair. Ania and Diego sat across from him on a sofa, as the talk gradually
drifted to Don Ramón's travels and as much of his business as could be
shared. Presently, when the dinner was served,
everyone sat down to a veritable
feast, all agreeing that Crescencia and the kitchen servants had worked a
miracle to come up with such a fine meal on such short notice.
"Ania, I just can not imagine
what happened to my letter informing you that we would arrive today,”
Ramón said. I sent one as soon as our ship arrived in Monterey and then
made sure that we left on the appropriate day to get here on time.”
"Oh, the mails here are a bit
better than back in West Florida, but they are still not perfect,"
Ania assured him. "That letter will probably arrive sometime in the
future, having gone Heaven only knows where. The good thing is that you
are finally here. It's been what, almost five years since we last saw each
"Sí, you had just returned
from Spain, which brings up another subject, Ania. Señor Marcos left some
papers for me that puzzle me. You are intending to sell the family estates
in Spain?" Ramón frowned.
"I have made that decision, sí.
I see no reason to continue to hold title to lands and casas grandes that
I never intend to go back to," Ania stiffened as she spoke. She fully
expected her cousin to oppose her on the issue and he did not disappoint
"Ania, I cannot understand
this? Señor Marcos said that you were quite set on it and he could not
even get you to talk of anything else. I think this is most unwise,"
Ramón frowned again at her.
Looking down at her plate, Ania
clearly had no desire to speak of this further, at least at the moment.
"I am determined that it be so, but this is neither the time nor the
place to discuss it. Let us return to more pleasant topics during our
meal, Ramón, please.'
"Sí, you are correct, Ania."
Ramón nodded in Don Alejandro's direction. "Perdonamé, Don
Alejandro...Don Diego! I did not mean to bring contention to the table. It
will be as you wish, but after this meal I feel that we must discuss this
"Very well, Ramón, just not
now." Ania placed a smile back on her face and changed the subject.
The conversation moved along
pleasantly once again. Diego was amused to find as Ania and Ramón were
reminiscing, that he had already heard Ania's side regarding some of the
things they spoke about. Ramón put a new light on these things.
"So, Ania," Diego laughed,
"this is the cousin whose clothes you stole in order to ride in that
"Sí, this is the one,"
Ania admitted, with a laugh, "though I doubt that Ramón remembers
the incident very clearly."
"Ha, like it was yesterday. How
could I forget? That trick left me ten miles from the hacienda with no
clothes, just as I am sure you planned it." Ramón declared as he
rolled his eyes. "You have no idea how difficult it was to procure
another set of clothes! Your brothers thought it was tremendously funny
and all of them drove very hard bargains indeed before they loaned me so
much as a shirt, let alone a pair of pants."
"Well, I suppose that might
have taught you not to be such a pest. I do not recall you ever telling
Luisa on me again after that," was Ania's smug reply, "and my
horse did win."
"I hope that you have gotten
beyond stealing people's clothing now, Ania," Ramón said.
"Oh, surely I have, Ramón,"
Ania laughed with an innocent look at Diego. "I do not think I will
be needing to steal anyone's clothing now. I would have to have a very
important reason to do something like that again. Is that not so,
"I would hope that I never
catch you in stolen clothes, Ania,” Diego said just as innocently as
she. His eyes sparkled with teasing mischief. “We would not want an
outlaw in the de la Vega family. If you did that, what could we expect of
you next? Why, you might even dare to become a horse thief!"
Ania struggled, and just managed to
keep her face straight. She
always loved Diego’s expression and she wanted so much to laugh aloud
with him. It only made
matters worse when she felt Diego lightly nudged her ankle with his foot.
She covered her difficulty by looking away from him and taking a
sip of wine.
Ramón looked down at his plate for
a moment and Don Alejandro took the opportunity to shoot them both a
Her decorum once again secure, Ania
smiled her most innocent smile at her future father-in-law.
Don Alejandro quickly looked
heavenward as if to ask the saints for strength to live around these two. It
is bad enough that Diego plays this type of word game. Now there will be
two of them at it. Ay, if my hair was not already white, it would
definitely turn so if much of this goes on! he thought as he picked up
the train of conversation with Don Ramón.
After dinner, they all settled once
again in the sala with a glass of Ania's wine as the light conversation
continued. Diego sat back comfortably on the sofa, as Ania perched
demurely beside him on the sofa’s edge. Finally, however, Don Ramón
revived the topic of the lands in Spain.
"Well, if you will excuse me,
Don Ramón. I still have many things to do today," Don Alejandro
stated. "This matter is more between you and Ania, so I will see you
two later tonight for supper."
"I, too, have matters to attend
to," Diego began as his father walked out.
"I feel that since Ania's
property would be coming into this family, you two should be in this
discussion as well," was Ramón's objection. "Especially you,
Diego saw an almost pleading look in
Ania's eyes and made an immediate decision to remain with her. "Very
well, though I do not feel that this is one decision I should have a say
"I cannot understand that. It
is to be hoped that you and Ania will be blessed with many children,
children who would stand to inherit a rather large network of lands, casas,
and, not incidentally, several titles," Don Ramón said seriously.
"That is Ania's decision,"
Ramón then turned to Ania.
"How could you turn your back on both your father's and your mother's
families like this? The titles that go with the lands have been in your
family for hundreds of years, Ania! Some of them belonged to your brother,
Felipe, and to your grandfather before him. Tío Miguel would never have
given them up for any reason."
"You are wrong there, Ramón,"
Ania stressed. "My father, in effect, had already turned his back on
those titles. He had made the decision not to let anyone know of our
connection to the crown even before we came to these shores. In fact, no
one knew of our family lineage until a few months ago when I chose to go
ahead and add the crest to the marker for their graves. Perhaps Papá had
changed a bit since you were with him. Something in him changed when
Eduardo died in France and then Felipe was murdered. Not long after that,
he also came under criticism from the king for speaking out against some
unfair policies affecting the people in West Florida. I assure you that by
the time we left there, Papá only wanted to live a free and quiet life,
without interference from anyone. As far as I know, he did not even
encourage Juan to assert his right to any of the titles. Just that alone
should show his feeling on the issue."
"Ania, I cannot believe that Tío
Miguel would not at least have felt gratitude for the care given you by
his family and ours while you were in Spain with your stepmother.
Surely he would not have wanted you to turn your back upon all of them?
Do you not understand this is how your actions will seem to them?
Do you, yourself have no gratitude to them?"
Diego felt Ania stiffen at the
question. He looked at her in concern and tried to catch her eye to
encourage her, but she merely stared at her cousin.
"Gratitude? Have you no idea
what my life was like in Spain?" Ania stood and walked to the mantel
before turning to look at her cousin.
"Well, I have heard that you
and Tía Leya did not get along," Ramón began.
"Do not give her that
title!" Ania cried. "She was never my father's wife in her own
heart and soul where it counted and she was quite definitely not a mother
to me! Why does everyone cling to that belief regardless of the
"Ania, calm yourself! I do not
understand your viciousness toward her," Ramón declared.
"My viciousness toward her?
What of hers toward me?" Ania countered.
"And for all they did for me,
those relatives to whom you say I should be grateful, I could have been
dead! That includes your father. There are very few people in Spain
who I ever hope to see again. I never wish to set foot in Spain again for
any reason! Why should I keep lands there?"
"I do not understand, Ania,"
Ramon said, surprise and a little anger on his face. When did my
father or any of your father's family ever see you in danger and not help
you?" Ramón asked.
"Oh, do not pretend that you
have not heard that Leya beat me while I was there," Ania accused.
"Well, I know that you were
headstrong and I have heard that she was a strict disciplinarian,"
"Disciplinarian?” Ania cried.
“The woman was a manipulator, a social climber, a trollop who was trying
to use me and my father to advance herself. I caught her with her lover.
From that moment on, I refused to be used by such a woman. That is
what I was rebelling against! However, since I was the rebel, the black
sheep of my family, at least, in some of their eyes, no one listened to me
when I tried to tell of it, not even your father!" Ania was trembling
with emotion now. "It took nearly dying at her hands and then later
nearly being raped by her lover to push me into finally collecting proof
of what that man and my so called stepmother really were. Even when I had
proof, no one, except the Marques de Casa Calvo, ever apologized for their
refusal to believe me. Why should I ever want to set foot on the soil of
Spain again? Answer me that!"
The bluntness of Ania's terms
shocked Don Ramón into silence for a moment. He merely watched as Diego
rose and went to Ania.
Gently, Diego ran his hands from her
shoulders down her arms. He said nothing, but at his touch, Ania's
trembling lessened and stopped. As she had on the dock at San Pedro, she
crossed her arms and gripped his hands, taking comfort from him.
"I am sorry, Ania. I truly did
not know. I cannot understand my father not helping you. Even at your most
irrepressible, my father always liked you and your spirit," Don Ramón
Ania sighed and visibly relaxed,
"I am sorry, too, Ramón. Perhaps I should not feel so hard toward
your father. All the other times that I can remember he has been very kind
and loving toward me. If he and your mother ever come here, I would like
to see them again, just not in Spain. As I said, I do not ever intend to
Don Ramón looked at Diego.
"What of you, Don Diego?"
"Me?" Diego asked.
"Sí, this is a great deal of
property which she would be bringing with her into the marriage,” Don
Ramón said as he watched Diego carefully.
“Have you no feelings about her giving that up?"
Diego looked down and met Ania's
eyes. "Was she the poorest of the poor and had absolutely nothing to
bring with her, only herself, I would still count myself the luckiest,
richest man on earth. No amount of money, or lack thereof, can ever change
that." Ania's eyes shone with love as she looked up at him.
Don Ramón rose and came to stand
beside them, smiling. Then he surprised them by saying, "Good! Then
you pass my test."
"Test?" both Ania and
Diego said, puzzled. "You mean that all that was..." Diego
"...a test to see your true
feelings?" Ramón completed for him. "Sí, and I am glad to see
that apparently this is truly a love match on both sides."
"Ramón, that was uncalled
for," Ania objected.
"Maybe," Don Ramón
allowed, "but I remember your vow never to marry other than for love.
Knowing you as I do, I believe that is the only way you would truly be
happy. I wanted to see that you had not been tricked out of that resolve.
I agree now that you have chosen well."
"Ramón, I ought to..."
Ania started angrily.
"Yes, I agree. I probably do
deserve a trouncing for putting you through that. If I had known what you
just told me, I probably would have gone about it differently," he
said sincerely. "Also, were you still the barely civilized young girl
you once were, I would now begin running for my life.
You could indeed be a 'swamp cat' when you were angry, Ania."
He laughed for a moment. His laughter was so contagious that finally even
Ania and Diego began smiling with him.
"Now, when will the wedding
itself take place?" Don Ramón asked as he sat back down. "I
would like to be there, but I understand that it takes quite a while to
get everything done and I have only three months that I can be free just
Ania thought for a moment. The cloth
that her father had shipped here would be a true blessing now. "I
think everything can be ready in that time," she said, still figuring
things out in her head. "In fact, I think it can take place before
"Ania, I want everything to be
just right for you. Much as I look forward to that day, if you need more
time..." Diego assured her.
"No, I do not need more.
Everything will be ready if I have to hire every seamstress in Alta
California to do it," Ania vowed as she turned to smile up at him.
"When must you be back in Monterey, Ramón?"
"I have said that I would
return by the 3rd of agosto," he replied.
"Well, then," Ania said as
she turned back to Diego, "what about the 20th of julio?"
"Sí, that would be good,"
Diego's joy showed in his eyes as well as his smile. "Ten weeks, that
is not a long time, yet it cannot pass quickly enough for me!"
"Good! Then if that is settled,
would it be possible for you to have a servant show me to my room?"
Don Ramón asked as he quickly hid a yawn. "Such was my hurry to see
you again this morning, Ania, that I rose quite early so that we could be
on our way. A siesta seems a most desirable thing right now."
Diego quickly did as Don Ramón
requested and he and Ania finally found themselves alone. He smiled as he
watched Ania and realized that once again she was fairly glowing with her
happiness, now that there was an actual date to look forward to. Then he
sobered as he realized that he needed to tell her something about what he
had found out so that she would be on her guard. Without his saying a
word, Ania sensed his mood change and looked at him curiously. "Ania,"
he began, "I cannot be here for supper tonight. I have something I
must do. I had thought to wait until nightfall, but it might be better
"Zorro?" Ania asked
"Sí, and the matter concerns
you closely. Rodríguez sent de Irujo to San Juan Capistrano," he
"The prison there is
open?" Ania asked.
"No, I'm afraid not. He was
sent there as forced labor for eighteen months," he explained.
"I am going to see if Rodríguez has really done as he says and if
the security of the work crews is any better than it was the last time I
Ania’s eyes were troubled as Diego
explained his fears of de Irujo’s possible escape. "What am I going
to do, Diego? I cannot stay within these walls all the time!"
"No, but I want you to begin
taking precautions again. Move Bastián back to the position as your
bodyguard. Never...and I mean NEVER...go anywhere alone until I am sure of
what is going on. Continue to wear the hidden stilettos. If you must take
Don Ramón onto your land before I return, at least take several people
with you. Before I go, I will also ask that Bernardo and Father stay close
to you as well. I will leave soon, so you and Father must make excuses for
me as to why I am not at supper. I will be back as quickly as I can,
probably tomorrow morning sometime." Diego leaned down quickly and
kissed her lightly, knowing that he needed to be on his way. "Te amo,
Ania. Do not worry; I will be back soon."
con Dios, Diego. I love you," she whispered as she watched him
quickly walk to the cabinet and disappear. It occurred to her that this
was perhaps merely the beginning of a lifetime of seeing him leave on one
mission or another. The idea thrilled her and yet frightened her a bit as
well. She realized that he was rapidly becoming not merely the point
around which her life revolved, but her very world itself. Turning to a
shrine nearby, she quickly made the sign of the cross and said a prayer
for his safety. She wondered if it would ever get any easier. Probably
not, but such would be the way it was for however long Señor Zorro was a
part of their lives. Resolutely she turned and walked to her room for a
siesta as well. Beginning now, she must learn to dissimulate whenever it
was necessary to cover for him and she was determined to do what she
needed to as his wife. Whatever he needed her to do, she would do, just as
takes" she whispered softly.