Love is a many-splendoured thing.
But then again, what exactly is this thing we call love?
— 1796 —
Little Isabela, the unica hija of Mayor Herrera from the rather small town of San Simon, had always wondered about love.
She was raised in a strict household. Her father, being a politician, valued his face or reputation more than anything. Thus, he implemented rules and followed them through with an iron fist. He did not tolerate any sort of disobedience.
Her mother was what one would call a social butterfly — but more on the outlandish type. She loved extravagance and preferred glamorous things which can be reflected on the parties and gatherings she hosts every few months. Born from a local aristocrat family, Mrs. Herrera was a snooty and judgemental hypocrite.
Other people often commented on how the couple was such a perfect pair, for they complimented each other well. Both would simply smile and mutter a word of thanks.
However, contrary to everyone's beliefs, the Herrera family wasn't really that perfect. The husband and wife would often scowl at each other and argue behind close doors. Their marriage was simply nothing other an agreement from the heads of both their families. The Herreras needed stable financial support for their political dynasty and the Rodriguez (Mrs. Herrera's family) wanted fame and power. Hence, a "partnership" had been formed.
Growing up, Isabela often wondered why her parents acted differently when they were in front of other people than when they were alone. Unbeknownst to the child, there was no love between her parents. They simply kept up with appearances and understood that there would be nothing more.
Isabela would often look at their servants and she noticed that though they were poor, they were still living happily as compared to their family. Many times she would try to talk to them, hoping that perhaps she'll be happy as well. But then, they would talk to her in a formal manner. The servants treated her with respect for her father made it clear that he didn't want his daughter socializing with low-life servants.
Her mother also wanted her to befriend only those who came from wealthy families. However, more often than not, these kids turn out to be spoiled little brats and she didn't want to deal with those. So she often kept to herself and would always be found in some corner of the mansion with her nose stuck in a book.
She loved reading. Her mother believed that an educated girl can attract more competent and wealthy suitors once she comes of age. With that thought in mind, Mrs. Herrera made sure to employ a governess for her only daughter. Though it was a bit pricey, she thought of it as an investment for the future. Mr. Herrera wasn't against it for he thought that by being educated, his precious daughter would be more prim and well-mannered which will prove to be beneficial in keeping appearances to the public. However, he only permitted basic education. For he didn't want his daughter to be filled with non-sense talk. After all, the most virtuous and sought-after women in society aren't supposed to have inputs about manly issues such as politics and the likes. His daughter would be better off learning about proper etiquette and how to efficiently manage a household.
Little did they know that Little Isabela would sneak into her father's office and take out different books for her to read. She thought to herself that at least, her parents not being home had its own advantages.
With her parents being busy, the servants steering clear away from her, and having no friends to talk to, Isabela often thought that she's be alone most of her life. But it all changed with the appearance of a strange little boy.
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