Author's note: This is my "What If" story (Finally, I bet some of you are thinking!).  What if Diego had married Zafira and brought her home to California?  This is what I think might have happened.

I had to borrow a lot of dialogue and characters from the NWZ episodes "The Old Flame" written by Tom Sawyer and "The Legend Begins" written by Robert L McCullough and probably several other episodes later on.  This is an alternative universe and I will not be sticking to canon.

Disclaimer: 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.

"CADENAS DE AMOR"
("CHAINS OF LOVE")

CHAPTER ONE

"MARRY IN HASTE . . ."

MADRID -  EARLY SPRING 1817

     "Diego!  Diego!"  A young woman called out, capturing the attention of the tall caballero stretched out on a blanket under a tree.  It was a beautiful spring morning and many students from the university were taking advantage of the clement weather.

     Diego de la Vega had been among them, relaxing in the warm sunshine while he studied one of his mathematics textbooks.  That was before he was interrupted and by such a lovely interruption indeed. . .

     "Yes!" declared the woman enthusiastically as Diego rose to his feet and she threw her arms around him.

     "Yes?" he echoed happily then kissed her and held her close.

     "Absolutely and positively yes," responded Zafira fiercely, gazing up at him with adoring eyes.

     "As soon as I graduate, we'll sail back to California and get married," announced the young don.

     "But why must we wait?  I just want to be your wife, Diego.  Now."  She said this last word with much urgency.

     Diego stared down at his eager young novia and quickly formulated a plan of action.  "You know the church at Colmenar?" he asked.  Zafira nodded.  "I'll speak to the priest this afternoon.  Meet me there at sundown.  We'll get married today.  Yes?"

     Zafira nodded once again with a smile on her lips.  Lips that Diego hungrily kissed as they sealed their troth.

[scene taken from episode "The Old Flame" written by Tom Sawyer]
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     That afternoon, Diego skipped the rest of his classes, something he had never done during all his time at university.  But then he never was going to get married before either.  He went instead to the lodgings he shared with his amigo and fellow student, Miguel Cortez.  He was hastily packing a small case when Miguel burst through the door.

     "Diego, where have you been?" inquired the young man excitedly.  "You missed the most fascinating lecture. . ."  Miguel paused when he saw the satchel filled with his friend's belongings.  "Where are you going?  Not back to California, I hope?  You haven't graduated yet."

     Diego shook his head.  Lately he had been receiving very disturbing letters from his father about events that were occurring back in Los Angeles.  Several missives had hinted that his return to California would be extremely welcomed.

     "No," Diego replied.  "I'm getting married."

     "Married?" queried a stunned Miguel.  "Diego, are you loco?  You haven't even known Zafira two months."  He stared at his roommate.  "It is Zafira, isn't it?"

      "Si, of course," replied Diego.  "I know that I love her.  That's all I need to know."

     "Diego, Diego," said the other young man, shaking his head.  He glanced worriedly at Diego.

      Miguel Cortez was a handsome man whose good looks and an extroverted personality had ensured him his share of lovely señoritas.   The string of broken hearts his friend had left behind was becoming legendary on campus.  Diego had been the exact opposite,  immersing himself in his studies and ignoring the willing females who would have distracted him from his scholarly pursuits.

    "I'm here to study, not chase women," Diego had stated to Miguel more times than he could count.  He had been grateful, however,  that his amigo had arranged for him to meet a beautiful young widow about a year earlier.  The woman had become his mistress for nearly six months.

    "What about that chica you told me about?"  Miguel asked, bring Diego out of his remembrances by snapping his fingers.  "You know, the one back in Los Angeles.  The one you were waiting for to grow up.  What was her name?"

     Diego just stared at Miguel, wondering who on earth he was talking about.  Then an image of a pretty young girl grew clearer in his mind.  A girl with raven curls and sad brown eyes.

     "Victoria, Victoria Escalante," he finally replied.  He sighed wearily.  "That was just a childish infatuation, Miguel.  A young boy's foolish fancy.  I'm quite sure she has married someone else by now."

   "Only because you didn't declare yourself before you left," pointed out Miguel.  Diego's love of the innkeepers' daughter had been a tale that his friend had had to pry out of Diego when they had met nearly four years earlier.  "It wouldn't have mattered to me how young she was," he continued on.  "If I had loved her as much as you claimed you did at the time, I would have let her know."

     "Dios, she was only fourteen," Diego sighed wearily.  "She had just lost both her parents and was left with the responsibility of running the tavern.  The last thing she needed was for me to ask her to wait for me until I graduated from university.  It wouldn't have been fair."  He placed one more shirt into his case.  "I had no idea of her feelings for me anyway."

     Diego shook his head as if to clear his thoughts.  "Zafira and I are getting married.  Today.  I need to go make the necessary arrangements."

     "What is the old saying?  Ah, yes, ‘married in haste, repent at leisure'," said Miguel.  "But it's your life, amigo.  I see nothing I can say will change your mind." Diego shook his head.

    Miguel smiled cheerlessly.  "Congratulations, Diego.  Vaya con Dios, eh?"  He patted Diego on the back.

     "Gracias, Miguel," replied Diego, accepting the grudgingly offered sentiment.  He clasped the other man on the shoulder.  "Adios, amigo."  The groom-to-be closed up his bag and departed, giving his old roommate one last wave.
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     The sun was beginning to set as Diego waited with the priest for Zafira's arrival.  The young don was starting to worry.  He should have made sure everything was all right with her before he left Madrid, he thought forlornly as he sat down on a bench.  Idly, he picked up a stick and began doodling on the dusty ground.  Drawing a ‘Z' into the dry soil, Diego wondered if he should have brought Zafira with him instead of letting her make her own way to the little chapel.  He should have. . .

     His fretting ceased as Zafira glided into the courtyard and into his arms.  She was beautiful, in a pale pink dress made of some gauzy fabric.  A wreath of pink roses and baby's breath encircled her light brown hair.  She smiled up at him.

     "I'm sorry I'm so late, Diego," she offered as an apology.  "My brother Ricardo was at home when I went to change."

     Diego knew that Zafira's older brother had joined a band of revolutionaries bent on removing King Ferdinand from the throne.  He often wondered sometimes if Zafira was also sympathetic to their cause.  Odd comments she made now and again led him to believe so.

     But that was all unimportant now.  She was here and she was going to be his wife.  The young couple eagerly followed the priest into the small chapel where they would become husband and wife.   The ceremony was short, with only one witness, an old nun from the nearby convent.

      Diego and Zafira exchanged their vows solemnly; promising to love and honor each other until parted only by death.  Diego panicked slightly as he had completely forgotten a ring.  Finally remembering the signet ring he wore, he slipped it from his own finger to hers.  The band was much too large for her slim finger and she had to curl her hand to keep it on.

     "I'll get you a better one," he whispered just before he kissed her after the padre had instructed him he could do so.  The elderly hermana wiped tears from her rheumy eyes with a plain cotton handkerchief as she watched the newlyweds leave the chapel.

      Diego had booked them a room for the night in a quaint little inn not far from the church.  As he led Zafira to its front door, it suddenly reminded him of the tavern back in Los Angeles.  The one now owned by Victoria Escalante.

     A sharp twinge in the region around his heart caused him to pause for a moment.  Zafira looked up at him curiously and he smiled down at her, dismissing the dull ache that remained as silly sentimentalism.  Diego gallantly opened the establishment's door and let his new wife enter inside.
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     Light from the rising sun was spilling through the window panes of the newlyweds' bedchamber.  Diego rolled over in his sleep and woke with a start.  Something was very different this morning, he realized as he stared at the back of the sleeping Zafira.  Dios mio, he was married.  An sheepish grin crept across his handsome face as he recalled the events of the previous evening.

     It had been awkward, especially at first.   They had spent the supper they had eaten glancing at each other shyly.  Conversation had been minimal and focused on mundane subjects, the weather, their food, Diego's classes at university.  But he had seen in her eyes that what lay ahead that night filled her with trepidation.  Their courtship had not gone beyond kisses and a few caresses as was proper.

     Finally, the point was reached when they could no longer put off retiring for the night.  Diego escorted Zafira up the staircase to their room.  Once inside, their self-consciousness grew even more.  The bedroom was tiny and the four-poster bed dominated much of its space.

     Fortunately, there was an even smaller dressing room, which Diego gallantly offered to use to change his clothes.  Zafira nodded wordlessly as he closed the door.

     Diego took his time undressing.  He could hear her in the next room, opening her case and then the soft rustling of garments.  An ache was growing in his loins.  Tonight was his wedding night.  His bride was inexperienced and he worried about hurting her.  Although he felt a twinge of guilt for thinking of another woman on his wedding night, his lips curled up into a smile as he recalled his former mistress's wise advice on how to please a woman.

     The squeaking of the bedsprings snapped him out of his memories of the sultry young widow.  Glad of his nightshirt as it hid his eagerness, he opened the door.  Greeted by a darkened room lit by a single candle, Diego could barely make out Zafira as she was buried under the bed's coverlet.

     "Zafira?" he whispered, hoping that she had not fallen asleep.

     "Si, Diego," she replied, slightly rising from under the covers.

     He said nothing as he climbed into the bed and slid under the sheets.  Diego then brought his hand up to his bride's face and stroked it gently.

     "Don't be scared, querida," he murmured before kissing her cheek.  "You know I would never hurt you."

    "I know that," Zafira stated quietly.  "I love you, Diego."

     "I love you too, Zafira."

     They moved closer together and Diego could feel her shiver.  With fear or anticipation, he wasn't entirely sure.  Their lips met, then Diego gently coaxed her mouth open with his tongue.  He took it as a good sign that she moaned and pressed herself closed to his body.

     His hands, which had been resting on her waist, became bolder; traveling up and down her back.  Slowly he slid them up her sides and cupped her breasts.

     Zafira whimpered with what he hoped was pleasure.  He wished he could look into her eyes but she had them tightly closed.  He brushed his thumbs over her nipples which responded by hardening.  With trembling fingers, Diego untied the satin ribbons that held together the nightgown's neckline and slipped the garment down off her shoulders.  He then lowered his head to take one of the exposed nipples into his mouth.

     Nature took its course from there.

     Lying there the next morning, Diego mulled over the events of  previous night, savoring each exquisite moment.  Zafira had been so sweet, so shy.  A guilty feeling crept over him as he remembered taking his pleasure and not knowing for certain if she had done so as well.

     He cursed his own inexperience of such matters.  His widowed mistress had not been shy about letting him know he had pleased her.  But then she had been a mature woman, not an unsophisticated young woman like Zafira.  His bride reassured him that he had not hurt her and that she had enjoyed their lovemaking as much as he had.  But there was still a niggling little doubt in Diego's mind.

     There had been differences between the two women, he had recognized that.  But there had been something oddly similar as well.  Diego just couldn't deduce what it was.  In truth, he realized he had a lot to learn about women.

     Or, he amended that thought, about one woman in particular.  His pensive expression turned into a smile as Zafira rolled over to face him, a shy grin on her lovely face.  "Buenos dias," she murmured.

     "Good morning," he replied as he reached out his hand to touch her cheek.  "Did you sleep well?"

    "Si," she said as she stretched her arms.  "I feel like a new woman."

     Diego had to chuckle.  "You are a new woman," he stated.  "You're my wife."  He leaned over and kissed her.  Passion began to surge through his body and he drew her to him.

     "Diego!" Zafira exclaimed in a shocked tone.  "It's daylight.  I mean, we can't. . .  We're not supposed to. . ."

    "Why not?" asked Diego, not wanting to take no for an answer.  He did pull back and gazed at her intently.   She did seem genuinely distressed at the thought of making love during the day.

     "It's not proper, that's why," she declared.  Zafira caressed his face.  "Besides, I'm hungry.  When is breakfast?"

      Diego reclined against his pillow.  He was also hungry, but not for food.  Still, if it was what Zafira wished. . .  He would have to be a good husband and fulfill her every desire, even if it contradicted his own.
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"CADENAS DE AMOR" - CHAPTER TWO