The late afternoon sun caresses my skin and the sweet breeze sends shivers up my spine… but I sit here, unbothered, just thinking. Thinking about everything that I want from destiny. A dream here, a smile there. Something to make me feel full, alive.
I know I want too much.
I think to myself, why is it so difficult for dreams to come true? Did I do something wrong in another life? There must be something interfering with my path, my destiny, because I feel small, unfulfilled. I feel my heart beating deep inside of me, under all the layers of clothing and skin and muscle. My eyes hungrily seek for a hint that I’m not alone in the world, but they remain ravenous.
Why must my dreams resist me? Why do they resist?
But I sit and I think, I really think. The minutes pass by, and my thoughts rush around. I want to tell myself to calm down and accept my reality, understand that I’ve been blessed with good health, a wonderful home life, and talent. But it’s not enough. It’s simply not enough for me anymore. I’ve been conditioned to think that I want the world, when in reality what I want isn’t too much, after all.
So do I really want it, after all?
Don Tomás Montebello is content. He has just signed a new contract with a business partner in Argentina, someone who wants to import seemingly endless quantities of the handicrafts that the Montebello family’s sleepy little region is known for. The deal is very lucrative, and Don Tomás sighs as he thinks about how much money he’ll be able to put away in his family’s savings fund. He is a humble man, always putting their needs before anything, and the success of his business has been a boon in their lives.
He is worried, though. Lately, he feels that his only daughter and the light of his life, Paloma, has been mentally drifting away from him. Whereas before she used to light up as soon as she saw him walk into a room, now it seems like the burning light in her eyes has died down. What has happened to the bright and warm little girl that had once thought that her father was the center of the universe? I’m getting old and nostalgic, Don Tomás thinks to himself. But he continues to contemplate his daughter’s behavior, and his happiness at having closed the deal subsides more rapidly than he had anticipated.
“Darling?” A voice calls out, looking for Don Tomás.
“I’m here!” he answers, motioning to his wife to come sit next to him in the lounge. He shakes himself, not wanting to show anything but warmth and excitement to see his wife, a woman who he loves deeply and sincerely.
Marinela can’t contain her excitement. “Honey, I was just on the phone with Casandra, she says she wants to throw the fundraiser at her beachside property in Melaque!” She squeals with excitement, and adds “if you agree, of course!”
“I think it’s a marvellous idea, sweetheart!” Don Tomás nods in approval, happy that his wife seems to be in such a good mood. Although she is an enthusiastic and chipper personality, lately Marinela Montebello has been uncharacteristically quiet and pensive, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed in the household. Even the help has been asking if everything is all right with the lady of the house.
“I’m going to call up everyone tonight,” she says, putting a hand on her husband’s knee. “I can’t wait to see the expression on Antonieta’s face when she finds out we’re all going to the coast for the event!”
“Don’t you want to just… spend some time together tonight?” Don Tomás asks quietly.
“But honey,” she says, putting her mouth close to his ear, “just imagine what the beautiful house on the beach is going to be like.” She squeezes his leg, delighted to see that she’s getting the reaction she wanted. She always gets the reaction she wants.
Don Tomás chuckles. “Oh, I can imagine that for sure,” he says. “And I know you’re going to plan out an amazing evening for everyone.”
“It’s going to be an amazing night for the two of us,” Marinela says with a coy smile. “We’re going to enjoy every single minute of our time there, and I’m sure of that.”
Don Tomás looks at his wife and grins, and she winks in response. Then, she kisses his cheek and walks away with a tinkling laugh, leaving her husband lost in his thoughts once more.
He knows that Marinela is happy with him and their success together. She entered the picture twenty years ago, when Paloma was a toddler. Her mother had disappeared and Don Tomás wanted to move on and give his sensitive and needy daughter a mother figure. Mari, as he liked to call his second wife, was a wonderful candidate. She was ambitious but caring, and took care of Paloma as if she was her own. The new Montebello family was happy again, and moved on, eventually creating an empire. As the years went by, however, Mari took a bigger interest in the company and spent less time with Paloma. Nowadays, she is a partner at the company and the town’s leading socialite. There is no one finer and classier than she in the village. But at what cost?
Mireyo Bonafont walks into the main building of Montebello Exportaciones with a certain swagger in his step. He has just completed a successful meeting with a potential client, and he’s sure that he’s going to be getting a signature in the near future. As he walks in he’s greeted by Zuleika, the head secretary of the company.
“Buenas tardes, Don Mireyo,” she says with a sweet smile on her face. “How was your meeting this afternoon?”
He chuckles, looking at her eager expression. He loves the younger secretary, always so enthusiastic and ready to throw out kind words of encouragement. “It went really well, guapa!” he says. “I’m positive that we’ll be getting a new deal very soon, and it’s all thanks to your tip!”
“Oh, that?” she scoffs, making a brushing motion with her hands. “It was nothing, really! I just happened to know those people from my time at university.”
“And your connections proved to be great!” Mireyo exclaims gleefully.
Zuleika covers a bright smile, and quietly says “thank you so much, Don Mireyo.”
“I hope you don’t mind me saying this,” Mireyo says with a glint in his eye, “but you’re one of the biggest assets to this company. Please keep up the good work!”
Zuleika laughs. “Oh, I know that much!” she says. “Without me, this company would have gone under a long time ago. None of you partners know how to organize anything!”
“Watch it there, Señorita Lomelí!” Mireyo jokes, “you never know who’s listening. You could get fired for insubordinance!”
“I’d like to see that happen,” Zuleika says in a low voice, teasing Mireyo with her expression. He chuckles and walks away, a huge grin decorating his handsome features.
Mireyo is the third partner at Montebello Exportaciones, and has been a lifetime friend of Don Tomás’s. His status as family friend and business partner means that he has been very intimately tied to the Montebello family for countless years, and this privileged position has brought him much good fortune. His parents lived and died poor, always slaving away at menial jobs to make ends meet, and as soon as they passed away prematurely from a hard life of labor, Mireyo begged Don Tomás for a job at the company he had just launched. He wasn’t just hired, he was immediately made partner since he was such a close friend of the family. Mireyo has been an integral part of the company for many years, becoming the face of the company in light of Don Tomás’s aversion to the spotlight. Like now, Zuleika often thinks about how much she admires Mireyo, considering the rough family life that he grew up in. So much success in such short time, and all because he had the right connections… and that face…
The phone rings loudly, interrupting Zuleika’s stream of thought.
“Ay Dios, ¡me espantaste!” she whispers loudly to the phone. She picks it up, her voice back to her cool and professional tone. “Montebello Exportaciones, this is Señorita Lomelí speaking. How may I help you?”
Marinela and Mireyo bump into each other as she’s leaving the office. He’s still smiling, thinking about his encounter with the secretary, and she immediately catches on.
“Wipe that silly smile off your face, Mireyo,” she sneers, “people are going to think you have a secret!”
He clicks his tongue. “Why would I have any secrets?” he asks her.
“You and I both know that you’re sneakier than you’d like to admit,” she says with a laugh. “It’s just part of your nature.”
“Mari, someday I’ll understand where you’re getting all of these ideas.” He looks slightly miffed, looking around to make sure that they’re alone in the area.
Marinela laughs, shaking him off. “It’s fine, don’t worry about anyone overhearing,” she says coyly. “Are you free to meet in an hour at the cantina?”
“I… yes, I am,” he stutters. “I’ll see you then?”
Marinela gives him a look. “Yes, you will.”
I’ve always thought that happiness would come after going out of my way to see the big world out there. Sure, it was endlessly interesting to see all of the things a different environment could offer me, but I couldn’t help feeling that there was something missing. Something’s always missing in my life, and I don’t know what it is.
Why must I be so unhappy with what I’ve been given? With everything I have? I could take all of this and be so pleased, but it’s just so hard to look into other people’s eyes and smile. All I can think about is what I’ve missed in my life, all that’s still missing. Still! And here I am, endlessly running in circles in my mind, searching for something that’s lost and something that will never be found? But I want it so badly, I feel it out there.
I just need to find it.
The work day is drawing to a close and the Montebello family’s housekeeper, Doña Chole, comes into the office for her daily cleaning routine. Although the family has many janitors and cleaning ladies in their employ, Doña Chole likes to make sure that things are perfectly tidy and clean for the next day of business. The Montebello’s company is very near and dear to her heart, so she cannot stand even the idea that anything could be dirty or out of place. Today, though, she’s lost in her thoughts, and though she looks like she’s doing her normal job of wiping down the counters, she has a dark expression on her face.
Doña Chole, short for Soledad, has been the housekeeper for the Montebello family since before Paloma was born. She is a diligent woman, always making sure that the family is fed, comfortable, and content. At the same time, she’s rather loud and tends to give out tough love and sassy comments. In this region, it is expected that the help be quiet and meek, but Doña Chole is the opposite of that, so visitors to the Montebello home are often shocked and tell Don Tomás that he needs to hire a quieter housekeeper, one that doesn’t attract attention to herself. He always politely tells them that she is the best housekeeper that the world has ever seen and quickly changes the subject.
Doña Chole’s biggest contribution to the family, though, is her unending love and devotion to Paloma. She has always taken care of her, even when Marinela was in the picture. The princess of the household and the housekeeper have always shared a tight bond, one undiluted by their differences in status and unaffected by the other people in their lives. In many ways, Doña Chole has been the matriarch of the family, even during the time the new wife has taken over the household.
Don Tomás finds her doing her rounds and immediately asks her to stop.
“What have I told you?” he asks her with a playful stern expression on his face. “There are other people who can do this!”
She laughs out loud. “Ay, tú y tus barbaridades,” she tells him, giving him a defiant look, “always telling me what I should and shouldn’t do!” He laughs with her, knowing that he won’t ever be able to tell this stubborn woman what to do. Not that he would want to, though. She has always been such a support to him, and he doesn’t even want to imagine what his life, at home and otherwise, would be without her wise warmth.
“So,” she continues, “will you let me finish or are you going to stand there with that silly expression on your face?”
He throws his hands up in response. “All right, all right! I’ll get out of your way!” he says. He walks to his office, and calls out, “but you need a break, woman! I don’t pay all of these people only to have you come in after them and do their jobs, and better!”
Doña Chole lets out one of her beloved laughs and promptly begins cleaning again. Her brief exchange with her boss has cleared her mind, and she looks much brighter as she moves around the building, cleaning and feeling happy that she made Don Tomás laugh. He’s been in such an introspective mood recently, and she doesn’t enjoy it.
“So you think you’re going to get that contract?” Marinela says with a note of apprehension in her voice.
Mireyo scoffs. “What, do you think I’m a novice?” he says testily. “This isn’t the first time I’ve buttered up a client in order to get what we want.”
“That’s an interesting image,” Marinela replies, “and one that I’m sure is very accurate.” She pauses, looking over her shoulder to make sure that no one is listening, and then leans in toward Mireyo. “How is the plan coming along?” she asks him.
“I cannot comprehend why I thought getting into this with you was a good idea,” he replies testily, “but I guess there’s no turning back now.”
She shakes her head in annoyance. “That wasn’t the question.”
“What do you want me to say? It’s too early for any sort of results.”
“I know that, zopenco. That still wasn’t my question.”
Mireyo looks at her with a wary expression on his face. “I feel uncomfortable talking about this here, with you,” he says, ignoring her obvious exasperation.
She stares at him with an incredulous look on her face. She knows that getting into this arrangement with her business partner and her husband’s best friend is a bad idea, but she could have never anticipated that the charismatic man, the face of the company for heaven’s sake, would clam up under pressure. She isn’t sure of how to approach the situation, since she knows that she can’t do without his help.
She tries a new approach.
“Mireyo, honey,” she begins, immediately switching to a kinder tone, “I know that this is difficult, but think of the rewards! Think of everything we could have if this goes through!”
“I don’t think I could live with myself if we’re successful,” he replies, avoiding her gaze.
“You will learn to deal with it once you’ve cushioned the blow with more riches than you could ever imagine.”
“I don’t know…”
He stops speaking. His troubled expression grows more intense, and then turns into one of annoyance.
“Why do I have to do all the heavy lifting here?” he asks angrily.
“Honey, you’re not doing everything here,” Marinela replies carefully. “There’s so much more going on behind your back that you don’t even know.”
“Well, did you know that Don Marcial allowed Casandra to move the fundraiser to Melaque?”
Mireyo looks stunned. “I thought that he said that would never happen!” he exclaims.
Marinela chuckles. “I do so much more than you imagine.”
Mireyo looks suspicious, but after a few minutes of conversation, he relaxes. The pair continue talking, but switch to a different topic once an elderly couple takes the table next to theirs. Mireyo decides to leave soon after, and he kisses Marinela goodbye. She stays at the cantina, orders a cocktail, and stares into the distance for a long time.
Doña Chole has also noticed Paloma’s new attitude. Whereas before she had been a sweet and talkative girl, it seems as though she experienced something in the city when she went there to study. She had come back a changed girl, still sweet but now withdrawn. She lost herself in her daydreams, and in her paintings. Her incredible talent had only increased since she went to study art in the city, and her paintings were masterpieces. However, and Doña Chole took this to be an important hint that something was wrong, her paintings were getting darker and darker. The housekeeper wasn’t about to keep quiet about all of this, she loved Paloma too much to continue to be silent.
She searches the building to see if the younger girl is there, and she finds her on the top floor, looking out onto the sleepy town.
Doña Chole remembers the day that Paloma came back from the city. It had been three long years since she had moved to go to the big university, with an arts degree on her mind. Her undeniable talent had guided her, and her desire to see the world outside of her small homestate only exacerbated her need to leave her family behind for a while.
And yet… all of the excitement and shiny joy on her face had disappeared when she came back. Advanced fine arts degree or not, she did not seem to be satisfied, or happy. Something in her had changed. From menial small talk at the dinner table, to unhappy looks out the window, to rare social appearances at the parties her family threw at their home, Paloma Montebello had become someone else. And Doña Chole observed, made note of all the changes the girl had gone through.
She was tired of just watching, though. She wanted to let her know that she sensed something was wrong. They had been close since the day Paloma had come home from the hospital, and it hurt the older woman deeply to see that this girl, a child to her, was going through a rough time.
She decides to approach the situation with her trademark humor.
“Paloma, my child!” she calls out cheerfully. “I see you’re here, hiding away from all your suitors!”
Paloma giggles quietly. “I just thought the line was getting too long and exhausting, you know how it is!”
“Don’t I! My line is a little dried up, but when I was young, I used to be the talk of every town,” Doña Chole gives Paloma a quick kiss on the forehead and continues, “in fact, I still am!”
“I have no doubts about it,” Paloma jokes, “but I doubt anyone could handle you!”
“Not even your father can handle me, niña.”
“Father? He’s a big old softie so I doubt he could even if he tried!” The two women laugh.
Doña Chole looks at the younger girl with affection. She hesitates slightly before saying, “you know that you can confide in me if something is going on, right?”
Paloma looks taken aback, but quickly composes herself. “Of course, nana, I would tell you if anything was happening!” she says reassuringly.
Even though Paloma sounds convincing enough to any stranger, Doña Chole is not a fool. She sees right through this false confidence, but decides to let it slide. For now.
It’s been such a long day, I can’t wait to go home, Zuleika thinks as the hands of her watch inch closer to 5:30. My telenovela is on tonight and I can’t miss it! She looks distractedly at her computer but she knows that there is no more work in her, and she absentmindedly clicks through a gossip website. Oooh, what’s this? Antonieta Villalobos and Casandra Lépez had a falling out? How interesting! She continues to click through the website when she hears the door open. Who is that? she thinks with annoyance, can’t they see that we’re almost closed? Her mood instantly changes when she see who it is, and she straightens in her seat. It’s Julián! And he’s looking rather dashing today… oh, he’s such a dreamboat!
“Good afternoon, Señor Palacios!” she greets him cheerfully. “Is there anything I can help you with today?”
“Buenas, Señorita Zuleika!” he replies, “I came in because I heard that Don Tomás had an errand for me to run?”
Zuleika searches in her file drawer for a memo that she received from her boss. “Yes, if you’re free tomorrow he wants you to head over to Armería to pick up a shipment of dulces de tamarindo that he’s sending out to France next week.”
“Oh, that sounds perfect. I’ve been needing a little trip to get away from this town!”
“You have to promise me that you’ll take me on the next one!” Zuleika jokes flirtatiously.
Julián gives her a dazzling smile, the dimples in his cheeks a perfect complement to his handsome face. “If you’re looking this beautiful, then please come with me on every trip,” he purrs.
Zuleika laughs, and waves him off. What a tease, she thinks. Walking in here with that face and that ass, looking all mysterious and everything. I bet he wishes he could take a bite out of me. She laughs again. Thank God that Don Tomás hired him, he really brings up the quality of meat around here. And he’s such a bad boy, ugh. I really do hope he takes me on a trip somewhere because I’ll show him a great time…
Her phone vibrates, interrupting her risqué train of thought.
“Ay, ¿quién es?” Zuleika says, looking down at her phone. She smiles when she sees who wrote to her, and she immediately taps her reply.
Outside of the building, Paloma has picked up a painting that she never completed. She’s feeling inspired to paint, because it’s one of the few things that clears her mind and helps her escape from her troubled thoughts, even if it’s for a short while.
She’s lost in the painting, yet another beautiful masterpiece that she won’t be able to bring herself to sell. This one, like many that came before it, will end up somewhere in the family home; probably the basement, gathering dust. Regardless, she paints with gusto, perfectly capturing the image that she has chosen to replicate on her canvas, somehow managing to avoid getting a single drop of paint on her immaculately clean outfit.
Paloma is painting by the front door of the company, and she ignores when the door swings open and shut. She’s not paying attention to the mostly quiet village around her.
When Julián comes out of the building, he’s surprised to see the beautiful girl in front of him. He doesn’t know exactly who she is, but he can guess.
Julián has been working for Montebello Exportaciones for a short while, only a couple months. In that time, he’s become a favorite of Don Tomás’s, and because of it he gets multiple jobs around the region, while all the other deliverymen generally get boring jobs in the area. It’s not particularly glamorous to be a deliveryman, but Julián isn’t bothered. He never went to university because he lacked the ambition, so his career options are limited, but he’s found his home at the Montebello company. He’s well paid due to the fact that he’s managed to worm his way into the boss’s good graces, and he can pay for his expensive clothes, his outings with his friends, and the upkeep for his motorcycle. He’s a sort of bad boy, one could say, but he has a friendly and generous heart. Not the kind of man a parent wants for their child, but certainly a good and loyal person to have around.
He watches the girl from a short distance, wondering if it’s possible that this is actually the elusive daughter of the boss he’s heard so much about.
He knows that she was off studying in the big city, but he never realized that she was so talented at what she did. He thought she was just another rich girl out partying with her rich friends in the capital. He never thought that there was actually more to her, and now that he’s seen her, her breathtaking beauty, and her talent, his interested is piqued.
He’s been watching her for a few minutes when a flower saleswoman with an armful of fresh bouquets gets off a truck and starts walking to the florist next door. She’s walking at a rather brisk pace and she’s distracted by the flowers in her arms, so she doesn’t see Paloma taking a step back to admire her painting. The two collide, and the flowers take a beating, releasing petals all over the sidewalk. Paloma trips over the woman’s boot and falls on her back over the petals, her head hitting the pavement with a dull thud.
Paloma doesn’t immediately open her eyes, and the florist promptly panics, recognizing the daughter of Don Tomás Montebello. She pulls out her phone and dials the emergency number. Julián rushes to see if Paloma is all right, and when he stands over her, he’s stunned.
Paloma is absolutely gorgeous. Her small frame is outlined by what seems like hundreds of flower petals of many shades of pink, accentuating her delicate beauty. One of her hands is by her side, the other over her torso. She looks like she’s sleeping, her chest rising and falling, the breeze ruffling the details of her outfit. Her eyes are closed but fluttering, and her lips are pouty, almost as if she was Sleeping Beauty waiting for her prince to wake her up. Her dark chestnut hair surrounds her head like a halo, shifting in the light wind. Julián stares at this magical vision for a short while, before snapping out of his reverie and kneeling over her to see if she’s all right.
The florist has disappeared into her shop, still frantically trying to reach the hospital. Her delivery truck has driven away, and the rest of the town is completely empty. Not a single human can be seen, and the only noises come from the fountain in the square and the vibrant nature surrounding the buildings.
Julián slowly grabs Paloma’s shoulders, as if he’s afraid that he’s going to shatter her. He lightly puts his hand on her cheek, trying to wake her.
“Miss? Are you all right?” he asks, looking more and more concerned for the girl. “Miss, please! You need to wake up.” He lightly shakes her a couple times, whispering to her. He’s floored, basking in the glory of what seems to be a heavenly angel sent down to him. All he wants is for her to wake up and to say that she isn’t hurt. He wants to see those beautiful eyes staring up at him.
“Miss? Please, miss!”
I don’t know what just happened… one moment I was minding my own business, and the next thing I know, everything went black. Did I get assaulted? Who hit me? I need to try to open my eyes, but I’m actually feeling good here on the floor. I’m surrounded by something fragrant, and it’s wonderful to just be able to lie here without worrying about anything.
But there’s someone touching me, someone calling to me! No, please leave me alone, I like it here in the dark. I don’t want to open my eyes and let the sun in, shatter the fantasy. Please, sir, just leave me be!
Fine, I’m going to open my eyes. I suppose I can’t stay like this forever, and this person sounds like he’s getting desperate. There are other sounds nearby, people running to me? I’m confused, what happened? Fine, I’m opening my eyes. The sun is bright, too bright! It hurts! I’ll have to wait for them to adjust, because all I want to do is cover my eyes and just go back to that dark and cool place where I was before.
But wait… who is that? There’s a stranger above me, I can’t move! His face is getting clearer, but I still don’t recognize him. Who could it be? His expression is so concerned, I almost want to laugh. But that would be rude, wouldn’t it? No, I can’t do that!
All right, my eyes are adjusting to the light. Wait, this man… have I seen him before? Why am I suddenly feeling my heart race? What is this feeling? I don’t recognize it.
What is happening to me?
A/N: Did you recognize the cast of K&GI playing new roles in this telenovela? Make sure to tune into Episode 10 of K&GI soon to see behind the scenes! I hope you enjoyed the first episode of Paloma De Pasiones, it is an exciting project for me since it combines my love for telenovelas and drama. If you wish, leave your thoughts below, I’d love to hear what you think about the first episode. And finally, stay tuned for Episode 2!