Sorry it took so long. I'm not really happy with it-haven't been happy with much of my writing lately-but I guess I figured they'd do a bit more arguing over the subject. Money shouldn't be important, but it really is. Anyway, forgive my lack of depth on the taxes/trusts issue; I'm a regular teenager, not a tax lawyer or an heiress.
Pulling into the driveway of the house that he liked to call "quaint," Sandy carefully pulled up on the parking brake. Kirsten, who had been sleeping, was heard to mumble, "Neutral." He glanced at her, his annoyance from before having completely evaporated. She'd stopped "reminding" him of what to do after she fell asleep somewhere along the highway, and he'd begun to get the hang of driving her car. There was something intoxicating about its power, its speed, and something thrilling about the wind rushing over their heads, although he now understood why Kirsten insisted on French-braiding her hair before driving long distances with the top down. He had the feeling that he now understood, if only partially, why Kirsten and her friends insisted on driving their expensive, impractical sports cars. There was just something exciting about an Aston Martin that the cars he'd driven before couldn't offer, and Sandy resolved not to pick on his wife's taste for fast cars any longer.
"Hey, baby, we're home," he said lightly. Kirsten turned a little and snuggled up to the soft leather seat. Sandy chuckled. He put the top up and got out of the car. Then he walked over to her side, opened the door, and undid her seatbelt. As he glanced at the drowsing figure of his wife, he couldn't help smiling. Carefully, he lifted her from the car, locked the door, and closed it. Sandy slowly carried Kirsten to the front door, where he had to put her down to fumble with his keys.
"Sandy?" she suddenly asked, utterly bewildered. "Where are we? Am I lying on concrete?"
"We're home," he said gently. "I didn't kill us." Kirsten smiled sleepily.
"Were you going to wake me up or just leave me here?" she teased him. He leaned over and kissed her forehead.
"Neither. I was going to carry you."
"You're sweet. I love you."
"I love you, too, baby, always." He offered her his hand to get to her feet, and they walked in. A short pile of mail that had come through the slot greeted them. Kirsten knelt to pick the envelopes up.
"Junk, junk, letter from your mom, electricity bill, junk, bank statement, junk, junk, another bank statement..." She gave a wry smile and handed him the letter.
"Two bank statements. I thought the joint account thing had worked. Do I need to call the bank?"
"Oh—no, honey, this one's...not important. It's just my...it's not important."
"Well, what is it? Come on, Kirsten, I'm your husband. You can tell me." Sandy took care to keep his voice casual, but he was a bit nervous. Did she not trust him? Did she not really love him? Was he trying to talk her into things she didn't want to do?
"Okay, but you have to promise you won't get mad." Now he was really worried.
"I promise." She sighed.
"It's my trust fund."
"Your trust fund?"
"Remember? I came into it two years ago on my twenty-first birthday." Sandy thought.
"Yeah, kind of. It's just sitting in the bank?"
"I never really wanted it in the first place," Kirsten pointed out. "Dad set it up when I was six. That was when he knew he would definitely be able to afford it, you know, because my dad didn't always have money...the Newport Group was still pretty new when I was born...so he waited."
"You don't have to explain why he didn't set aside hundreds of thousands of dollars for you when you were a newborn," said Sandy tightly. Kirsten's face fell.
"See, this is why I didn't want to talk much about it. You hate Dad's money."
"How much of 'Dad's money' am I hating here?" he asked suspiciously. Kirsten sighed again, and passed him the envelope.
"Please don't hate me for it," she pleaded. His eyes softened.
"I don't hate you, Kirsten, not for anything, and certainly not for the fact that you're obscenely wealthy. And if you don't really want me to know the balance, I won't look. It's not that important to me; I just...eh, I wanted to spoil my family, the people I love. Only your dad got to you first. That's all."
"I don't mind if you look. It's only that...well...I think it's more money than you're expecting." She looked at him with a slightly terrified gaze.
"Tell me this is a misprint," he said slowly, "and they put one too many zeroes on the end of this number. Kirsten shook her head.
"Not if it's in the area of...five million dollars." Sandy glanced at the statement again.
"It's more like eight," he told her. Kirsten flushed.
"Oh…yeah…that's right. Most of the interest got put in there, too." She took the paper from him and surmised it. "Yeah…a lot of it—the interest—went to taxes; there was maybe a four percent rate, compounded annually, but I don't think…" She began multiplying figures in her head, but Sandy raised his hand and told her to stop.
"Let it suffice to say, you've got a lot of money just sitting in a bank account with your name on it."
"Yes, Sandy, but we've been through this," she sighed. "The money—it isn't important. The only thing it affects is our tax bracket." He arched his eyebrows.
"Um…yeah. I make, I guess it's currently about three hundred thousand dollars, on that in interest every year. I have since I was eighteen, and Dad told me that the checks were mine and to do what I liked with them."
"I really did marry a trust-fund kid, didn't I? The fancy cars, the expensive clothes, the money for not even doing anything."
"It's not my fault…" she faltered. "Dad just…he wanted the best for me. He wanted to make sure I'd always have money."
"I know. It's just…God, baby, you've been trained by your father to be proud of having money. Well, I've been trained by Ma that people with too much money are not good people." He reached out a hand to touch her, and she flinched but didn't push him away. "Kirsten. I'm not proud of it. It's just going to take me some time to get over it, get used to this new…twist. I love you." She started to relax.
"I refuse to be ashamed of it, you know. I never asked for the money, but I'm not going to feel guilty about it. My father worked hard building the Newport Group; he sacrificed time with Mom and Hailey and me so that he could be successful. I'd trade eight million dollars for time with Dad when I was younger in a heartbeat, but I can't. It's just because he loves me."
"And he doesn't know how to show his love with anything other than money," said Sandy, but his voice wasn't accusatory. It was just a fact.
"Right," Kirsten softly agreed. Her face was now only inches away from his.
"Well, as long as you don't tell my mother we're in the top tax bracket," he said, his voice a slightly husky whisper. Kirsten smiled lightly and kissed him.
"Like I would do anything to make her resent me even more," she laughed.