"CADENAS DE AMOR"
Diego and Victoria were married six months after they had taken shelter from the storm in the abandoned windmill. They waited an extra three months past the expiration of Diego's mourning period so they wouldn't become fodder for the gossips of the pueblo. But even then there was talk.
It was another six months later when an emissary from the king came to Los Angeles and the little pueblo was never quite the same after his visit. Gilberto Risendo had turned out to be Diego's older twin brother, stolen at birth by a crazed midwife who bore a grudge against Don Alejandro. Diego wondered from time to time what his father had done that had caused Inez Risendo to extract such a twisted revenge. But he always decided he was better off not knowing.
Gilberto had tried to kill both Don Alejandro and Diego, but ended up being shot by de Soto only moments after the truth of his identity had been revealed. Don Alejandro had been extremely shaken by the turn of events and it had taken his adoption of Felipe six months later to drive the distressing events from his mind. Diego had felt guilty that he had never adopted the young man himself and had suggested it to his father who had acquiesced wholeheartedly.
Zorro had also died the same day as Gilberto. Risendo's announcement that he had blown up the masked man at Diablo Canyon had been an opportunity that Diego readily seized upon to end his masquerade. His mask had become a wearisome yet dangerous burden he could no longer afford to carry on. He had finally appreciated that he had a wife and a daughter to think of and he could no longer take the risks that being Zorro had demanded. Of course, Felipe had protested his decision but Diego had stood firm and the man in black had not been seen since.
A year after their wedding, Diego and Victoria were blessed with a son named Alfonso. Isabella adored her baby brother as well as her stepmother. She was a bright, vivacious child but it worried Diego sometimes that she didn't even remember her real mother.
It was six months after Alfonso's birth that the de la Vegas visited the mission cemetery for the festival of All Soul's Day. Both of Victoria's parents had been laid to rest there along with Diego's mother, grandparents, and brother. Sir Edmund Kendall had also been buried there. And of course, the graveyard was Zafira's final resting place.
Diego stared down at the headstone marking the place his first wife was buried. In his mind's eye, he saw the lovely girl she had been when he had first met her in Madrid all those years ago, with her lively blue eyes and shy smiles. He had loved her then, those first months after they had wed. To say differently would be an untruth, he realized with a pang of remorse.
He knelt down on one knee and placed one of the bouquets of roses that Victoria had prepared for the decoration of the graves against Zafira's marker. "I'm sorry," he murmured sincerely. "I wish I could say that it would have been for the best if we had never met, but that would be a lie. I like to think I'm a better man for having known you. You made me see things in myself that I would have never done on my own. Gracias."
Diego pulled out a red rose and place it on the top of the headstone. "Adios, Zafira," he whispered. He got to his feet and turned to see his father, Felipe, and Bella distributing flowers to the various relatives and friends scattered about the cemetery. Then he turned again to see Victoria smiling at him, holding their infant son in her arms.
Diego felt a swell of love in his chest as he gazed at them. Then Victoria held her hand out toward him, her face full of the same love.
At that moment, Diego de la Vega was the
happiest man in the world.
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