“But… Why me?”, she whined again.
“You don't think I'm going to give my daughter to a deformed one when I have you, do you? After all, you had to serve us in some way!”
He released her forcefully, causing Carolina to lose her balance and fall to the ground. Then, he left the bedroom, slamming the door.
Carolina Navarro, twenty-four years old, was the eldest daughter of the Navarro family. Her mother, Paloma, was accused of cheating on her husband and, while running away with her lover, ended up losing her life. Carolina was almost two years old. Gaspar then believed that Carolina was not his biological daughter. To avoid a scandal, he never asked for a DNA test, but he always made a point of showing how much he hated the girl.
The Navarro Porcelain Group was going through a hard time, and that's when an excellent opportunity appeared that would serve Gaspar with two purposes: it would save his company and also, get Carolina out of his home.
The groom was none other than Maximo Castillo, the only child and heir to the family's entire dairy empire. He was handsome, charming, smart, successful. That is, until he crashed a twin-engine plane and got half his face and body burned off. Now, three years after that event, he needed a wife and a child.
Carolina went down to dinner and both Nadia and Eloisa were at the table. Carolina's half-sister had a mocking smile on her face.
“Congratulations sister! You won’t be a spinster anymore. At last!”
“Thank you very much, Eloisa. I'd rather be a spinster than sleeping around with half the world.”
Another slap in the same day, this time from Nadia.
"Don't you dare badmouth my daughter!" She growled, slapping the table.
“What's going on here?”, Gaspar asked, entering the dining room and looking at Carolina's face, Eloisa’s tearful expression and Nadia's trembling lips. “I don't like to ask twice!”
“Gaspar, when will this wedding take place? Carolina just offended our daughter! She attacked her honor!”
He glared at Carolina and she knew she would be punished, but he just shook her off and sent her to her room, with an empty belly.
"And that's all?" Nadia asked “You know I don't like Carolina gets punished, but… She crossed the line.” Nadia was crying and Gaspar hugged her.
“I didn't give her a good spanking because her husband would complain, for sure. And we cannot lose that contract.”
Inside the bedroom, Carolina was lying on the bed, hugging her pillow, crying. Throughout her life, she was mistreated not only by her father, but also by her stepmother, who pretended to be good, but whenever she could, she incited fights and disagreements between Gaspar and Carolina. Eloisa was not far behind.
‘Maybe your husband isn't so bad, Carolina,’ she told herself. Yes, things could be different with him!
She didn't care about the scars, which she had never even seen. The problem was, she wanted to at least have a say in who she got married with. Carolina dreamed of the day when she would no longer be under her father's whip and, as he didn't let her study or work, the only way was to get married. And that's where she had high hopes. Unfortunately, fate once again did not allow her to be her own person.
Two weeks later, Carolina was signing the marriage papers by proxy. No religious marriage, as Maximo refused to leave the house. He would wait for Carolina at the farm, where her new home would be.
‘It can't be worse than in my father's house’, Carolina thought, while she was inside the car, heading to “ La Preciosa ” Farm.
Carolina didn't know it, but the deal had been made so that Eloisa, considered the beauty of the city, would marry Maximo Castillo. However, it is obvious that Eloisa would never accept not only a marriage with a man she had never seen, but also one that everyone knew was deformed by scars.
"We're here, Mrs. Castillo!" The driver informed her, and it took her a while to understand that she was the one he was talking to.
"Thank you!" She said, weakly.
Mrs. Castillo. It sounded very strange to her ears.
Carolina took a deep breath before opening the car door and getting out of the vehicle. She looked around and found herself in front of a huge house. Rustic, of course, as it was a farm, but very beautiful.
"Welcome, ma'am!" A middle-aged woman approached, smiling at Carolina. “My name is Dolores.”
"Hello, Mrs. Dolores! Pleased to meet you, I'm Carolina.” She extended her hand to the elderly woman, who shook it.
‘That girl is a good one!’ Dolores thought. She got to meet the boss's ex-fiancée and that one was very arrogant. She would never speak to servants in that kind, gentle way. So… Human.
"We're all so glad you're here! Come, come! The boss is waiting anxiously.”
Carolina nodded in agreement.
“And I'm glad to be so welcomed.”
Carolina climbed the stairs towards the main door, feeling her heart beating very fast. She was a married woman and would meet her husband in a few moments. She'd heard he was ‘weird’ and she wanted to know what that meant.
Before they entered the main doors, Dolores stopped walking and turned to Carolina, a little unsure.
“Ah, ma'am... The boss is a long-suffering man, and sometimes he can seem rude. But he's a good person. I've known him for years.”
"I heard he had an accident," Carolina said.
Dolores nodded in agreement.
“Yes. And that made him a little too sad. A little tougher, you know? Be patient with him, please.”
Dolores's look indicated that she really cared for her boss.
“I'll do my best, Dolores.”
The elderly woman smiled broadly and continued walking.
The entrance door was huge, made of black wood. The floor was all dark wood, too, beautifully waxed. All the furniture was of the same material, including the sofas — but very well upholstered. The place screamed ‘rustic!’ but of excellent taste.
They stopped in front of a dark wooden double door, like the one at the entrance, all carved. The handle was gilded. Dolores knocked twice.
“You may come in!” A deep male voice sounded from within. Carolina liked what she heard and thought that at least the voice was very charming.
“Go in, madam” Dolores asked and stepped to the side, giving way to Carolina.
That one nodded, placed her hand on the doorknob, turned it and took a deep breath before entering.
The first thing Carolina saw was the huge window, but with the curtains closed. She could only see the top of the light-haired man's head through the chair. He had his back to her.
“Hello, Mr. Castillo,” she said and closed the door. However, when she started to walk towards the table, he stopped her.
She stopped, startled.
“There's no need for you to walk over to me. Welcome, wife. I called you here to give you some rules.
“Oh, right,” she said, softly.
"Don't interrupt me," he scolded, and she was going to say, ‘Okay’, but then she would be doing exactly what he told her not to do. Maximo approved that she remained silent. “First of all: you can't come in here without being called. This rule applies to the office and to my bedroom. Dolores will show you which one is yours so we can avoid problems; Second: don't look for me unless it's an emergency. Always expect me to look for you first; And third, don't stare at me.”
Carolina nodded, but said nothing.
“Did you understand? Say something!” He spoke rudely and Carolina, who had hot blood, narrowed her eyes.
"Well, you told me not to interrupt you!" She said and only later wondered if she hadn't been too bold.
“You are insolent.”
“I can't see the future. If you don't say you're done talking, I have no way of knowing it.” She hated being treated unfairly. She had already gone through that at her father's house.
‘And I thought this would be different…’
He took a deep breath.
"I'll let it go this time. But hold your tongue from now on” He warned her and she, again, ignored his threatening tone.
“Then be clearer. I can't see you; I can't read your facial expressions. I need you to voice your wishes, or rather your orders .”
Maximo was looking at the curtains and couldn't help but smile. That woman had courage, he had to admit that!
“Go to your room, stay there, get acquainted, rest. Today the meal will be served in your room. Wait for me later.”
"Wait for you?"
She watched as he turned his head, as if he might look over his shoulder.
“Yes. Our wedding night.”
Carolina hadn't thought about that. And she felt like an idiot. They had gotten married; the man needed an heir.
‘I’m such a fool!’
“Carolina?” He called out to her, and she liked the way he pronounced her name, but then she shook her head.
“Oh, yes, I understand. Right. I'm… I'm leaving. See you later.”
She turned to leave, but before she could, he called after her.
“Yes?” She replied after counting to five.
“I didn't give you authorization to leave, did I now?”
“Oh, sorry, boss. May I go, now?”
He smiled, amused.
She opened the door and left him alone.
‘Insufferable man! Who does he think he is? Does he think I'm his slave?’
“Madam, come. I'll show you to your room,” Dolores said.
Carolina turned to her and smiled sheepishly.
“Oh, yes of course. C'mon C'mon.”
She motioned with her hand for Dolores to walk. And this one did.
As they entered a wide hallway, Dolores spoke again.
"Did you like the boss?”
‘Poor thing, she swears he's a good hearted one!’
“Why, yes, of course!” Carolina said, not wanting to hurt the old woman’s feelings. Dolores smiled.
“This is so wonderful! See, this one is your room and that one,” she pointed to the room at the end of the hall, with huge doors, “is the boss's.”
"Thank you, Dolores. I'm going to take a shower and get some sleep.”
“Sure, sure. Excuse me and welcome home!” The elderly woman started to walk away, then she stopped and looked at Carolina. ”I'll bring dinner later, ma'am. Around five.”
"Okay. Thanks, Dolores."
Dolores left and Carolina opened the bedroom door. It was very beautiful, like from a hotels. The walls were pale yellow, with light beige curtains. The bedding, white with small, embroidered flowers.
After taking a shower — the tub was huge! — Carolina dozed off and set the alarm clock for an hour later. She barely woke up and someone was already knocking on the door.