A group of friends embark on a pleasure trip that ends in tragedy. Maria hears a shot, finds her friend Patricia dead and, in her confusion, picks up the murder weapon. She is accused of the crime and condemned to life in prison. Her husband Esteban, an important businessman, doubts her innocence. Upon his return to Mexico, he divorces her, bribes his friends to keep silent, and tells his children that their mother has died in an accident.
Twenty years later, Maria is released from prison for good behavior and she returns to Mexico seeking revenge. She is determined to uncover the real culprit and to confront Esteban, whom she now despises for having abandoned her to her fate. But her greatest desire is to get back her two children, Hector and Estrella. The first thing on Maria’s agenda is to summon everyone who went on that fateful trip: Esteban; Servando, one of his partners; Demetrio, the company attorney, and his wife Daniela; Bruno, Esteban’s other partner, and his wife Fabiola, and Esteban’s two aunts, Carmela and Alba. Seeing Maria in the flesh is a shock to them all, but shock quickly turns to doubt and fear when she announces that Patricia’s true murderer has been living among them for the past twenty years.
Maria remarries Esteban for the sole purpose of winning back the love of her children—not an easy undertaking, since her children regard her as an intruder, come to take the place of their beloved mother, whose only memory they have of her is the photograph... of another woman. Maria must also contend with the vicious intrigue of Esteban’s aunts and partners, and with the jealous hatred of Fabiola, who has always been obsessed with Esteban. Maria is surprised to discover that Esteban has another son, Angel, and will not tell her who the mother is. Angel is a sickly and insecure teenager, and Maria takes to him immediately.
Step by step, Maria wins over her children’s hearts without revealing the kinship between them. Through her tender guidance, Estrella grows out of her shallowness and indecision, and finally realizes that, of her two suitors, Carlos and Greco, it is Greco who truly loves her, while Carlos is only after her money. Maria teaches Hector—now an arrogant young man—a valuable lesson when he meets and falls in love with Vivian, who was in prison with Maria. And thanks to Maria’s moral support, Angel emerges from his shell and becomes outgoing and sure of himself. However, Maria has yet to deal with her biggest problem, Esteban. She unexpectedly finds herself caught up in a heartrending dilemma, for she realizes that she has never stopped loving her husband, and he, in turn, loves her still. Now, her aching heart, hardened by twenty years of loneliness, must choose between her search for justice,... and finding the strength to forgive him.