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epilogue

 

 

AnnaMaria’s Heartbreak

by

Carolynn Bjorkmann

 

 

 

Carolynn writes: "Yeah, I miss her too.  It was always such a fun time with the AM debates with her.  I will always remember when she intimidated me when I was first new to the other list and didn't know better than to suggest jealousy.  It was a breath of fresh air when we finally were able to comfortably rib each other and laugh about it. That's why I wanted to share a final story last year on her birthday or around it.  Just to remember her and because I'd told her I'd do an unflattering story of AM just for her.  ... this was a way to accomplish that.                                       
"I think Kel would've gotten some satisfaction from it!  AM a lush!  But again, it has a nice ending.  I guess all Kel was saying is that the stories can make a personality adjustment on AM to make her more likable than in the series.

"While I never met Kel in person I still consider her a wonderful friend to have had."

 

Couldn't have said it better myself-- sue

 

The first time around.  Picture courtesy of Janis.

 

 Chapter One                                    

 

 

     She sat alone in the darkest corner of the tavern, her glass of wine clutched in her hand, the remaining wine in the flask was a prisoner of her other hand.  Her eyes and face bore the effects of loneliness and heartache.  The effects of too much wine dimmed the sparkle in her eyes.  The once so impeccably groomed hair was disheveled.  There was no trace of the clever, mannerly senorita who once existed; who always smiled; who nearly always behaved impeccably.

     AnnaMaria Verdugo was sober enough to want to keep to the less populated area.  What pittance she had accorded her to be seated and undisturbed in the shadows of the tavern.  As much as she wanted to be around people, she desperately craved to be left alone.  She didn’t want any caballero or vaquero trying to sweet talk her, attempting to ply her with more wine so he could take his pleasures with her.  Even the men of higher morals and consideration were unwelcome.  She merely wanted to be left alone in her misery.

     Where once existed a beautiful senorita of standing and breeding in Monterey was now replaced by a worn, pitiful resemblance.  The senorita Verdugo was now wine-soaked, her clothing tattered, her expressions that of sadness.  To have known her in her youth, one would never recognize her now.  And the transition between the two different women AnnaMaria was, was a mystery to the town.  No one knew what demons turned a vibrantly beautiful young girl into the mess of a woman who shared the tavern with most of the townspeople.  As frequent a customer as she was, there had never been a string of rumors spread about her.  No one had any notion of what had caused the change of AnnaMaria.  They could speculate and have their opinions, but out of respect for the Verdugo name, they could not spread idle gossip about her.  But they noticed she rarely smiled, and often her face appeared tear streaked.

    What was AnnaMaria’s story?  What had happened that could turn one of Monterey’s most beautiful women into a memory of it?  These are the same questions that began to form in the mind of the caballero that walked in unrecognized.  No one paid much attention to him.  The dancer, Carlita, was of much more interest.  She was hypnotic enough to capture and hold the focus of most of the men in the inn.  As long as they still had eyesight, that is.  The newcomer looked around for a table.  It seems Carlita’s performances were good enough to bring in the entire pueblo, being that there was no seat available.  The newcomer saw that the only place available was at the table of AnnaMaria.  He wound his way to the dark corner where AnnaMaria rested her chin awkwardly on her palm and watched, with empty eyes, the talented dancer.  Any minute and she’d be collapsing on her forearm and passing out, noted the stranger.

     “May I sit at your table, senora?” he asked politely. 

     AnnaMaria’s eyelids blinked slowly as she maneuvered her head sideways, in a near drunken stupor, and noticed there was someone at her table.  “No, senor, por favor.  I do not want any company,” she mumbled out.  “You can sit somewhere else.”

     The stranger looked around again and realized there was absolutely no room whatsoever.  It was packed like cakes of fish.  “Excuse me, senora, but there is nowhere else to sit in here.  I beg of you, take pity on me.  It’s been a long journey for me and I do not wish to bother you, only sit and relax,” he pleaded.

    AnnaMaria began to slowly lift herself up from the table and began her attempts to focus on this bothersome man.  She scanned the tavern slowly and found that it was quite full.  Looking back at this stranger, she gave in.  “Very well, senor.  Just have your drink and let me be.”

     “Of course, senora.  I promise not to disturb you,” he vowed, and signaled for the innkeeper to bring him something to drink.  Despite the crowd, one of the barmaids came quickly with a bottle of wine and a glass.  The stranger gingerly uncorked it and began pouring himself some.  Without his noticing, AnnaMaria watched him.  Her taste buds began to activate, and she was suddenly feeling very thirsty again.  She’d drained her own bottle, and she was feeling the pull of the stranger’s wine strongly. 

     AnnaMaria raised her head and looked at him.  There was something oddly familiar about him, but now, at her age and with her fondness for wine, she couldn’t think clearly enough to solve the mystery.  But she had a feeling deep in her stomach that, somehow, this stranger was someone she should know.  And trust.  And, somehow, she knew also that he would never harm her.  She felt a need to know who he was.  But first she needed to quench her thirst.  She was nearly licking her lips with unspoken drives to drink more.

     So as not to appear eager for wine, AnnaMaria decided she would need to engage the stranger in conversation for him to share his wine.  Watching him raise his glass, she noticed the graceful hands.  Although they were the hands of a man older than even herself, she recognized that they were the hands of an aristocrat, unused to manual labor or working hard to stay alive.  She imagined that as a much younger man, his hands would probably have felt like silk on her cheek.  And an inexplicable jealousy struck her inwardly as she thought that there had to be an esposa to this man.  A closer observation of his profile, his clothes, his demeanor told her that there was no possibility that this once handsome man could not have a wife. 

     “May I offer you some wine, senor?” she asked quietly, yet controlled.  “Please forgive my earlier rudeness.”  Turning his head towards her, he flinched.  His eyes were becoming old, but he was stunned by the resemblance the senora held to someone he once knew.  And loved.

     Gracias, senora, I would be honored!” he answered.  Watching her just about struggle to pick up her wine bottle, the stranger decided to assist.  “May I do the honors?” he asked.  AnnaMaria grinned weakly and slid the bottle over to her table companion.  The stranger began to pour and saw that all that was coming out were droplets.  To save her the embarrassment, he laughed.  “This must be excellent wine!  I only hope mine is as good!” 

     AnnaMaria giggled drunkenly.  “The wines here are very good, senor, I can assure you!”  And then they toasted each other.  Quenching her newfound thirst, AnnaMaria felt bolder.  “What is your name, senor?  You look familiar, and I feel I should know you.  Bu’ I jus’ cannot recall whoooooo’s face you look like!”  The stranger could see that this once lovely lady had already finished one bottle, at least, of wine.  And if he wasn’t careful and kept his wits, she would surely be drinking his as well.  Perhaps engaging her in friendly conversation would help.  It might help jog his memory as well. 

     “Well,” he laughed heartily, “I was just thinking the very same thing and was about to ask you your name!”  AnnaMaria laughed, although weakly.  To many men it would appear to be an invitational laugh. 

     Just as she was about to divulge her name to this stranger, the innkeeper appeared at their table.  Senorita Verdugo, may I bring you anything?  Perhaps for you, Senor?”  The stranger’s face froze in shock, whereas AnnaMaria’s merely continued in her wine-soaked manner.

     Si, senor,” the stranger quickly responded, “If you would be so kind, I very much need some strong coffee.  I have more of the night ahead of me and would like to be awake!”  As he spoke, he made eye contact with the innkeeper indicating the senorita could use some as well.  With a nod of his head and a “Si, Senor!” the innkeeper bustled off to bring back some coffee.

     “AnnaMaria!" the stranger said.  “Do you not know me?  It is I; Diego de la Vega.”

 

 

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