When Catalina Rodriguez is attacked by a would-be rapist and rescued by the dashing Ricardo Garcia, she not only becomes more aware of the handsome man, but also vows that she’ll never be a damsel in distress again. Using the timeless method of blackmail, she convinces her uncle to teach her to fight and becomes a masked crusader in the night, saving other damsels from robbers and rough handling. However, scandalous rumors and dwindling funds force Ricardo and Catalina to marry. Not immune to each other’s charms, their marriage starts fiery, but when one of Catalina’s nightly escapades results in dire consequences, she is forced to spurn her husband’s amorous advances…or reveal a secret that could turn him away from her forever. Ricardo’s not a man to be cuckolded or left in the dark. Is his wife having an affair with El Capitan, the masked savior? If so…they will both pay.
She tore her gaze away from the mare and said firmly. “Cinco pesos. And only because this yegua has fire, not because of your terms. Selena, pay him.”
Selena’s hand shook, but the pesos were transferred to the dirty palm. The man laughed with glee, the crowd dispersed, and Catalina was left with a dirty, starving horse.
“We shall get you fed and cleaned up.” She patted the mare’s neck. A cloud of dirt rose in the air, and Catalina struggled not to cough. “I shall call you La Reina, because once in my establo, I shall treat you like a queen. Your body may be beaten, but your spirit is not broken.”
“Catalina?” Her maid’s voice was tentative as it interrupted her quiet chattering. “Whatever possessed you—”
“Fetch me a mozo,” Catalina interrupted her. “Take the remaining pesos and fetch me a groom. La Reina is going to her castle.” She wasn’t offering more explanation than that. She didn’t owe anyone an explanation. She’d done what was right.
As her maid turned to comply, heading toward the livery, a loud pffffht rent the air. Catalina stared at her new acquisition in surprise.
Selena froze and swung around to admonish her charge. “Señorita! Your behavior has been questionable enough this day. Mind yourself.” She shook her head and her finger both before turning back to the task at hand.
Catalina heard her muttering as she sashayed away. She was too surprised and too tired to defend herself, but the breeze picked up, and a waft of foul air assaulted her. Catalina immediately tugged a delicate, lace handkerchief from her sleeve and placed it over her nose as she glared at the horse.
La Reina snorted and pawed the ground. Catalina could swear the mare was laughing at her. She merely shook her head. “Dios mío, and you let me take the blame for that?”
La Reina whinnied and bared her teeth as though she were smiling.