The Return
                                                                   Chapter Four

Diego motioned to Bernardo to have one of the vaqueros take the horses to the stables on their return from the pueblo that afternoon.  Anxious to keep his father and Anna Maria from further anxiety he walked swiftly through the entrance.  Sitting on the patio Don Alejandro and Anna Maria were greatly relieved to see Diego coming toward them.  Anna Maria rose from her seat and ran to Diego.

Throwing her arms around his neck she said, "Diego, I was so worried."

Don Alejandro smiled as he stood watching the tenderness shared between the young couple.  It appeared the commandante had taken no immediate action against Diego but surely Monastario must have a diabolical plan for the future of the de la Vega family.

"Son, have you learned anything from your meeting with Monastario?" asked Don Alejandro eagerly waiting for a response.

"No, I have no idea what twisted plan the commandante has devised but for the moment no one is in danger," responded Diego.

"This is good news," Don Alejandro said surprised that the commandante had not returned to his old ways.

"Sí, I do not think the commandante will do anything to bring attention to himself for the moment.  He does not want the Viceroy to have any ammunition to use against him." With some hesitancy Diego continued, "Father, I know this is not something you wish to hear but Leonar is to have a visitor soon...Capitán Monastario."

"Monastario is coming here to see Leonar," said Don Alejandro vehemently.

"Sí, whatever the reason we must take steps to insure her safety while she is staying with us," Diego said looking at his father.

"Excuse me, I think I must speak to our house guest before she receives her visitor," Don Alejandro said making his way to the stairs.

Brushing back Anna Maria's hair with his hands Diego leaned down and kissed her tenderly.  Pulling her near they gazed fondly into each other's eyes unaware that someone was about to arrive.  Stroking her face Diego said, "I love you."  Their lips met in a long, intense kiss.  Suddenly Anna Maria froze when her eyes caught sight of the soldier watching them.

"I am sorry for the intrusion," Monastario said coming forward his hat in his hand. "This must be your beautiful wife.  Don Diego, are you not going to introduce me?"

Diego with his arm around Anna Maria half heartedly responded, "Of course.  This is Capitán Enrique Sanchez Monastario our new commandante.  Turning to Monastario he said, "Capitán, my wife Anna Maria."

Anna Maria felt an overwhelming cold feeling throughout her body as she looked into the Monastario's steely blue eyes. Taking her hand tightly he said, "It is delightful to meet you.  I have heard much about you, Señora," said the commandante.

"Gracias, Capitán Monastario for such kind words.  Diego has spoken of you often," she said nervously.

"Sí, I imagine he has," he said blankly nodding to Diego.

"Capitán, I will let Leonar know you are here. Please wait in the sala," said Diego wishing to have this man out of his sight.

"With your permission," said Monastario nodding to Anna Maria.

Appearing on the balcony Leonar called out to the people below.  Monastario moved past Diego and briskly mounted the steps to escort Leonar to the patio to join the others.  Anna Maria and Diego made some polite conversation but soon became uncomfortable around the commandante and excused themselves.. 

"Capitán, I am glad you were able to arrange some time to stop by," said Leonar smiling happily.

"Senorita, it is a privilege to see you once again," he said holding her hand. "Please I insist you call me Enrique."

"Enrique," she said with a smile. "I hope this means that we will be able to spend some time together before I must return to Monterey."

"I think that can be arranged," he said lifting her to his lips.

In their room Diego held Anna Maria close until she stopped trembling.  Anna Maria could see the hate and anger in Monastario's eyes toward her husband after their meeting.  It made her shiver with fear.  What could Leonar possibly see in this man?  It was as though Leonar had taken leave of her good sense.

"Diego, I do not like this man.  I know he does not wish you well," Anna Maria said. "Why would Leonar wish to see him?"

"I do not know what her reasons are but I am sure Monastario would dare not harm the Governor's daughter.  For now he wishes to be viewed in a good light.  However we will not take any chance. Tonight I plan to visit Monastario as Zorro," he said with a snicker.

"Diego, you must be serious," she said as tears formed in her eyes. "I am sure the commandante means you harm."

"We discussed this before we were married.  I told you that there was always a possibility that my identity would be discovered or that I could be killed.  I can not change who I am," he stated wiping the tears from her cheeks.

"No, I do not ask you to change.  You are the man I fell in love with whether you are Diego or Zorro.  Just be careful and come back safely.  I love you," she said placing her hand on his face.

"I love you, too," he said. Looking deep in her trusting eyes Diego felt the desire to remain close to her.  "Let us not continue talking.  I wish only to hold  you in my arms."   

Diego slowly released her and began to removed his tie.....then one by one the buttons of his shirt were opened. Placing her hands on his bare chest she could feel the heat from his body.  Looking into his hazel eyes she moved her head closer until their lips met.  He could feel the pounding of her heart as their bodies touched.  Unbuttoning her dress he let it fall to the floor.  He swept her up into his arms and carried her to their bed.  Lying close their thoughts were only of each other.  With every caress and kiss their desire heightened. Soon they gave into their passion.

Hours later they lay quietly listening to the soft sound of the wind blowing through the balcony's open doors.  Anna Maria while feeling safe in Diego's arms could not help but turn her thoughts to the uncertainty that hung over them.  Life would have been so perfect if they had been any other young married couple.