Lost: All of Diego's dreams concerning Victoria finally come true one night when least expected. Of course, that's the best time for dreams to unfold. (If this story were rated, it would certainly be considered NC-17 for mild cursing and explicit sexual content, so read at you own risk.)

Lost

by Linda Bindner

It all began so normally. Zorro was on a mission to visit Victoria in the tavern, steel a few endearments, then leave, once again keeping the feelings of passion and love from being fulfilled, but coming a little closer to complete surrender as the sweetness and the emotion that they both suffered from drew to an inevitable end. Yet that wasn't meant to happen on this night. This night was a night for a simple visit, a teasing, if you will, a temptation, in the disguise of gathering intelligence.

Neither could have guessed how awry circumstances could go.

But for now, the time before the beginning, the tavern was closed up tight for the night, and the kitchen fire was the last that needed to be banked. That was how everything began.

The back door slowly creaked as a black clad form darted in through a small opening, pushing its way into the dim light that the fire's remains threw on the wall. Clinging to the shadows, as was his habit, a complete disclosure by the light was difficult to bear, but an inexorable pull of his need for knowledge encouraged him to reveal his masked figure. Without hesitation now, he stepped out into the light.

Zorro! softly whispered a delighted Victoria as she came unexpectedly through the curtain and set down her tray containing the last of the night's dirty dishes. In a delightfully thoughtless way, she reached forward to draw him closer to her heat-warmed body. A soft exclamation might have been equally as difficult to produce as it had ever been for him to show himself to the light, since the light revealed his presence to certain danger, but Victoria managed the utterance in a strangled, though elated, whisper right before she buried her mouth in the compelling wrinkle of his open collar. The call to kiss the skin left available to her lips was more than she could check.

What brings you here? she asked quietly. If truth be told, she hadn't expected to see him for a week, at least. He had only visited the day before, when he had encouraged the protest, then the repeal of, the new levy required by the Alcalde for selling concealed goods in the plaza, including anything sold in jars or jugs, as most food stuffs were in Los Angeles. Zorro had gallantly kissed her hand goodbye before he and Toronado had run from the pueblo. Another sighting of the masked legend was once again the talk of the day, then even that gossip was finished with by evening.

But Victoria had thought of little else since. Now, she reveled in the smooth feel of his cool lips on her fingers, the beckoning of her heart, all leading to this moment, when she stood with her back to a dying fire while flames of a different kind burned hot and bright inside her, though she did her best to hide her feelings from him. She mentally set herself up to be disappointed once again in her quest to not only discover his identity, but to become lost in the wonders of him, the call of his heart, the undeniable cry of his skin, of his body, the inevitability of finally giving in to her yearning desire.

But she steadfastly ignored it all.

At first, he just kissed her and said nothing. His lips skimmed seductively across her cheek, seeking... something... as he whispered back, Pardon this visit, preciosa, but I was hoping for more information on the reason for our new levy, any inducement for the Alcalde to implement such a rule, to have one even exist. You would know a thing about it if anybody would. Do you share the secret of his reasoning? Perhaps there is a clue to... Perhaps I could search all night...

He grew silent, and just looked at her. Victoria could tell by the swirling in his eyes that he was defeated, then, by his own feelings, his words and reasons lost in the swirl of desire that twisted his stomach into so much useless debris. She realized instantly that he was as helpless against the swell of emotion as she was.

Zorro knew right away what was happening. What is wrong with me tonight? he asked himself even as his lips slid quietly across her forehead. He usually showed much better control than this. And the change, the capitulation, occurred so quickly, too. He typically arrived at the tavern, asked his questions, kissed her cheek in thanks, and galloped away before such emotions had the opportunity to take control of the situation. But the fire still glowing in the hearth had entered his veins in a slow burn, one that set his blood to singing, and he thrilled to the new emotions pounding through him even as he denounced them, for they terrified him. He didn't know what they might encourage him to do.

At the same time, he thrilled at the presence of her sweet hair on his gloves and the wild beating of his heart, and he removed the concealing gauntlets to better feel her. For some mysterious reason, that night she was difficult to combat.

We're not married, Victoria protested even as she ran her fingers lightly, enticingly, over his arms. The touch sent a tiny shiver through him. We can't... Her protests were swallowed up in the rush of her emotions, her own throbbing heart, her hotly flowing blood. No, we can, she thought as she felt drawn forward, straight to the compelling end of her rushing desire. Her protests were stalled as she felt obliged to claim his mouth with her own.

They parted. Zorro actually groaned with the suddenness of his need. I'm so sorry, Victoria, he panted. This wasn't supposed to happen. I wasn't supposed to feel...

We've waited for so long.., she whispered. And I want to show... Victoria stopped speaking, unable to continue. She bravely kissed his breast, spread bare by her hands holding his shirt sideways in a manner that its tailor had never intended, the first button already undone. Then her nimble fingers went to work on the other buttons holding the material together.

Fire shot through him at the touch of her lips on his burning skin. Victoria, don't, or I won't be able to hold off your charms tonight, Zorro pleaded, half of him hoping that she would hear him, and the other half, the wicked half, hoping that for once, she would ignore him.

She did hear him, and she did ignore him. The flame of her emotions was already too consuming to heed, too engaged to oppose. My charms are what you make of them, she invited cryptically, tantalizingly, her whisper cutting through the shadows that were, on a regular night, their friends. Now, those shadows seemed to undulate, to encourage relinquishment to an emotional overload, to burst with the fiery need growing brighter inside both of them.

She had never felt this sensation so strongly before, so quickly. Her lips buried themselves in the alluring feel of the skin on his chest, and she felt like she was falling toward some kind of precious doom, a fascinating and fitting end to their stirring love. It wasn't the fault of either of them. This compunction was simply too much to resist, even for a hero. Or the sweetheart of a hero.

God help him, but he was enjoying the sensation of her lips on his naked skin. His flesh was already one mass of tingling chills that beat to the tips of the incredible pass of her fingers. He didn't know how much longer he could control himself. The tight sensation in his groin was already forceful and enthralling. He didn't know if he could defy it, defy her. Then her lips laid bare his soul as they touched his chest in a second featherlight kiss. The very breath was sucked out of him. Somewhere inside himself, he found the will to protest, Dios, don't, or I'm not sure I can... For a protest, it came out awfully weak. It was further weakened when their lips met, and their fate was sealed.

This is wrong, screamed his mind. We're not married, this isn't sanctioned by the church, the sword I carry is still necessary in the pueblo, she doesn't even know who I truly am, and... But there was nothing his mind could say in retaliation to the wild, pounding, need to make love to her, right there in her tavern, without the sanctity of a wedding, without anything done in the proper order. If he wasn't behaving in the most chivalrous of manners, he would deal with the consequences later. An aroused and flushed Victoria was simply too difficult to withstand.

His decision made, for better or for worse, ironically enough, as the familiar phrase from a wedding ceremony came to mind, he stopped resisting, and his famous control snapped. He couldn't refrain from inviting such an emotional onslaught to his psyche and come out the victor, not this time. She was just too irresistible, pleasant, bewitching. So he kissed her on the lips in wild, almost painful, abandon, giving himself up to the more base needs claiming his soul.

This kiss was different. Victoria felt the change immediately. She closed her eyes against the singing surge that shot through her at the tempestuous feel of nothing but his lips on hers. A kiss wasn't something they hadn't indulged in thousands of times before. This time was different because of lost control, the fiery need that swamped them both in love and demanding desire. They were helpless against such an overwhelming crescendo of emotion.

Victoria had the presence of mind to whisper, The tavern's empty tonight...

He responded with a last bid for reason, But you don't even know who I am...

Her reply came to him, kissed his ear, thrilled him down to his burning toes, I know that I love you, no matter who you are... she whispered.

It was more than he could endure. Knowing that they would both regret this decision, Zorro nevertheless scooped her up into his arms. It didn't matter that he'd had no intention to give in to this liquefying passion that she had raised. It no longer mattered who they disappointed, or the consequences of the night and such behavior. Victoria was all that mattered, and to welcome this desire in answer to such an all-consuming need that burned his soul to shreds... Without a questioning thought in his head, Zorro firmly gripped Victoria and strode through the curtain cutting off her kitchen, and up to her room.

But even as he walked, pulled forward by some compulsion he didn't understand, he kissed her, and when they reached the privacy of her bedroom and he set her down, he still kissed her, so soft and delightfully. Then his lips slid to her throat where his endearments continued. She craned her neck aside, then groaned at the rush of warming tingles that shot all the way to her feet.

Victoria was breathing hard, erratically, charged, yet her inviting lips burned holes in his flesh when they landed on his chest. She clung to his shoulders, and hungrily consumed that which had always been forbidden. She kissed his neck, his throat, the skin on his upper chest, then sucked on a nipple while she tugged his shirt from the confines of his black trousers.

Oh, god, how he wanted her. The emotion flashed through him, and he groaned again. He looked at her one last time through eyes shrouded in desire, asking in a silent communication if she wanted to continue with this crazy course that could lead only to moral oblivion, and for a reply, she ran a hand from his throat to his abdomen, sending shudders through him by doing nothing more than touching whatever skin she could reach. His desire crept up a notch, and he knew any of his excuses were vanquished to her silent call. Such abdication of reason was as wonderful as it was surprising. Neither of them had ever expected to be doing this, but found their feelings were impossible to resist.

Zorro quietly shut the bedroom door. This behavior dictated privacy, even when they already had it. For some reason as yet undefined, a closed door encouraged actions to be committed in the dark of night that would otherwise have been deemed completely improper.

Victoria ruined such an image when she left Zorro's compelling embrace long enough to close the shutters and light one single candle. The darkness fled, but only a faint glow cut through the passion, illuminated the fact that her fingers, when she returned to his side, were creeping ever lower as he kissed her with such intensity and fire that she knew his nerve-endings were about to erupt. His probing fingers pulled her flounced shirt from the trappings of her skirt even as her hand passed temptingly across the erection hidden under his dark trousers.

He sucked in a breath. Please.., His whisper sliced through the room as he explored the slope of her naked shoulders under the shirt, finding the feel of her skin to be most intoxicating even as he drew her to him with a fierce kiss to her neck. He felt the shiver that coursed through her.

I want you, she whispered. I want you now, even if I don't know who you really are. I'm still yours, body and soul.

Desire exploded, if that was possible. The inexorable, compelling, throbbing need to claim her as his burned through his body at her words. Never had he felt this way before, this base and hectic need to consume her in the most primitive manner possible.

He yanked off her shirt, and unbuckled her underthings, and then unbuckled his sword, even as her fingers probed and burned through the remaining material in her way. His shirt was gone, left stranded where it had floated to the floor, and was joined by her own shirt. Dreams came true when he concealed his lips in the soft flesh of her breasts, but the blaze licking through him was nothing compared to the jolt of longing he experienced as one tempting nipple fell into his waiting mouth.

Oh... Victoria moaned, then fanned her fingers through the ends of his hair behind his mask. She gasped, just once, but pushed on the back of his head, making sure he stayed connected to her bronze flesh. Nobody had ever touched her there, and no one else ever would, she vowed. With her hands on anything she could touch, she swiped at his exposed skin as he gently laid her on the bed.

A franticness enveloped them then, a compulsion to rush to the place where they had never been before. Such an emotion lurched them forward, as if they needed any encouragement. Boots were removed, trousers, skirt, anything in the way of lips and fingers strung tight with the throes of a passion gone aflame. Even the mask slipped aside at an innocent shove from Victoria's throbbing fingers.

Curiosity momentarily beat aside the consuming desire as the material fell away, and she found herself looking into the eyes of her friend and compadre, Diego de la Vega, unmasked and discovered through the ache of passion. Slowly, softly, she smiled, then gently kissed his forehead in an acceptance of both his revealed identity and the yearning in her heart.

Such a fulfillment of his dreams was unexpected on this night, but Diego realized that his hand had gravitated on its own to her breast while he had been distracted by her inquisitive expression. Now, however, he was fully aware of her acceptance and what it meant as well as of his need, his wild desire, to have her then and there.

He kneaded her bare flesh, chills traveling up his spine as she arched into him. Diego, she whispered, not much longer...

He hissed a reply, No, not much longer... and traced the taut muscle on her neck with his lips as he covered her with his entire body. A fog filled his mind. The flames devoured him even as he devoured her, kissing her breasts, holding her hands, lifting her arms above her head. Allurements that he never dreamed existed called to him as nerves burst to life. He moaned through tightly clenched teeth as he entered her slick cavity. She wrapped her legs around him, cradling him, even as the treasured passage to her womb was pierced and he embedded himself completely inside her. This was where she wanted him to be, where he was meant to be.

Desire consumed them. Diego gripped her fingers as the rhythm they had long been denied came to the forefront of their minds. He moved within her, and she moved with him, their need driving them towards... something. That something curled and tightened in their stomachs and groins, throbbing, demanding release, pushing them to new heights of ecstasy, promising fulfillment to their powerful emotions. Both were rushing forward, the sensation of twisting growing tighter and tighter. He shifted just slightly, and touched the center to the coiling sensation inside her. A new fire burst to life all around her. Victoria couldn't help herself; she gasped, she writhed, she moaned. When she was sure she couldn't stand the feeling for another second, it burst and she was falling over an edge of sanity, falling through the haze of passion eating at her. It was one giant explosion of need. Victoria shivered violently under him, and Diego would have asked if she was all right if not for his own rupture of passion that was so strong, it stole his very breath away. Waves of craving emotion crashed into him, pouring through his stomach, stinging his groin as he hung on while the pleasure of climax wore on in a breathtaking, heartstopping manner. The grinding rhythm from before stilled as groans replaced the motion. Victoria lifted up her hips, and Diego lowered his to meet her halfway in a primitive dance that had been taking part in the universe for centuries.

Then it was over, even the twinges disappeared as they lay, exhausted and drained, fully comprehending their actions for the first time that night.

Not only had they made love without the sanction of a marriage, they had quite possibly disappointed Don Alejandro, Padre Benitez, Felipe, the entire pueblo's citizens, with their decisions. Not only all that, but Victoria now knew his identity, and a baby could very well be the outcome of such a hasty agreement to desire. At the same time, there were never any rewards offered for the 'good' behavior of the past, the denial, the control. And they both felt too warm now, too fulfilled, too heady, for regrets.

Diego was the first to say so as he kissed her eyelids. No apologies, he whispered into the night. I love you, I need you, and no amount of guilt will change my feelings. He drew in a deep breath full of wonder. You are so beautiful, so enchanting, that I can't even begin to describe it. I will always ride out to defend you.

Victoria kissed his cheek. And you will always be my hero, she whispered as she wriggled against him.

It was a reminder that he needed to remove his weight from her generous body. Forgive me, he said in justification for his lack of recollection. A hand that passed across his belly let him know that an apology wasn't necessary.

He rolled aside anyway, and wetness followed him. The dampness clung to them both, yet they ignored it and just stared at each other instead.

Disappointed? Diego inquired next, keeping his tone light to cover up the sudden pounding of his heart, even as he lovingly smoothed the hair of her temple back with the palm of his hand.

But Victoria just shook her head. No. How could I be?

Very easily, Diego answered on a nervous laugh.

No. Victoria repeated herself as she shook her head until her curls danced, perfectly serious in her denial. You are my best friend, my one and only love. You make my heart shake and swell. How could I be disappointed because Zorro, a legend, turned out to be the very real, engaging, attractive Diego de la Vega? Her fingers smoothed down his mustache before she kissed him longingly on his lips. I only mourn for all the wasted years.

But the danger hasn't left, he persisted. If the Alcalde... If you're caught... The outcome of those possibilities were so awful that he instantly enfolded her in his embrace.

You won't let that happen, and I can be an actor, too, Victoria argued into his chest.

But a baby... he began.

She finished, Will be loved and reared like any other that I hope will come in the future.

Future? Then...? Did she mean..? Diego took a steadying breath of the stuffy air locked in the room. Encouraged by her vow, he whispered, Will you share my future with me? Will you marry me? Zorro had already asked that timeless question, and Victoria had already agreed to become his wife, but an unmasked Diego needed to ask as well.

Victoria drew in a sigh, too, something that sounded like a smile in the shadowy light. I think I've already answered that question, yet I longed for you to ask, she said, then kissed him on the lips to seal the arrangement with a token of affection. Yes, Diego de la Vega, I'll marry you, she ended with a smile. I would be just as glad if Zorro turned out to be a complete stranger, but I'm glad he's you.

Diego glanced at her in some surprise. Me? Why?

Victoria nodded with her head against the pillow. Now I can love you, like I've always wanted to, like I've always felt I should, she said, then, like a promise, laid her hand along his cheek. Rumors of an argument, discontent, unforgivable things... You there, ready to take advantage of the trouble...

What unforgivable things? Diego asked.

She smiled, languidly, like a contented cat. It was frightening to behold. Leave that to me, she said, without bothering to give him a specific answer to his question.

Diego shuddered to see a woman embroiled in the act of protection. He was sure he didn't want to know what she had in mind. The less he knew, the less he had to agree with. I'll stay out of this one, I think.

That's a good idea, because you certainly don't want to fight me over this, she warned.

Is that a threat? he whispered in curiosity as he kissed her, just to show her what she was missing.

No, she purred, stretching suggestively against him, obviously missing quite a lot already. The move wasn't lost on Diego, and desire stirred afresh in his groin. Look on it as a commitment.

Diego looked at her instead with lowered brows. A commitment to what? he hazarded to inquire.

Victoria just smiled even more enigmatically. To you. To us. To a future. To a new idea. And woe to anyone who gets in my way.

Diego promised, That won't be me. You're a force to be reckoned with, Senorita Escalante. He kissed her on the end of her nose, affectionately rubbed her arms, but was still darned glad that he was on her side. He wouldn't want to defy her anger and determination for anything. He almost felt sorry for the Alcalde for automatically being her enemy. Almost. Heaven help DeSoto.

Victoria stretched again, this time even more charmingly than before. Oh, I could stay with you all night. She smiled, and possessively rubbed a finger across his chest. You're mine. Don't you ever doubt that, and I'll fight to my dying breath to keep you, she promised suddenly, a gleaming light in her eyes.

A shiver of anticipation, of mastery, raced up Diego's spine. She had always claimed his heart, but this claiming of his soul was something new. Why don't you close the tavern for tomorrow? I'll send a note explaining my absence to my father, and then I'm all yours, he suggested.

Victoria smiled, and without missing a beat, said, You already are.


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