The voice sounded distant at first, but the more frequent my name was spoken the more inside of reality I began to penetrate. Daniel clapped his hands right in front of my face and I shuddered from the shock on more levels than one.
“Are you playing with me right now?” I asked, my voice low.
Daniel shook his head and his smile remained proud and strong. “Not at all.”
“How did—how did this even happen?”
I angled my brows. “Your mother?”
“Come,” he pulled me to the sofa where we both bounced onto; my hands still in his. “Turns out my mother was into real estate and developing projects with big companies, investing well. Even handling the money in the family, she knew how to handle it her way.”
“Investing really well,” I mumbled, still shell-shocked.
Daniel nodded. “My father never really paid much attention to her so she was able to create her own life outside of him. I’m glad to say that my mother wasn’t just a lazy socialite as my father had assumed. She was more than that.”
I knew it wasn’t the money he was talking about. He was happy his mother was just as successful, if not more, than his father. For years his father put on an appearance that he had the upper hand in everything, but really it was Jade.
“She gave me the money that I sent to her back as well,” he said, looking down at our hands intertwined. “She wanted me to have it all.”
“I still don’t think I have my head wrapped entirely around this situation. You have $75 million dollars?”
“We do,” he squeezed my hand, scooting closer.
I felt red paint my hot cheeks. “Well, it’s all you really. I have no ties to you for it to be an ‘us’.” He tilted his head and I spoke faster so there was no room for him to interrupt me. “I mean, it’s not to say we’re not together; it’s just, well, we’re not legally together. And I don’t want you to feel pressured into anything because of this. You don’t even have the money yet so I think it’d be best if we just act like you’re not a million dollar man.”
“But I want you to be in this with me.”
“I am,” I cupped his jaw, “I am. All the way, we’re in this together. But,” I stopped short and contemplated, quickly shifting my train of thought, “you know what, how about we go to dinner and talk about this.”
“Yeah, let’s get food in our tum-tums.”
Daniel tried supressing smile. “’Tum-tum’?”
I rolled my eyes. “I know, I regret the words.”
He laughed and smoothed his hands over my thigh. “I know what I want to eat.”
I giggled, my skin simmering. “Oh? Do you now?”
He nodded and bit down on his bottom lip. Major sex-factor! “Let’s go before we leave and never get a spot.”
Lo and behold, Daniel and I failed to find seating at the many restaurants we never booked a table at. I had once witnessed a group of three or four people actually come into either of the bars I worked at and feign a booking. I had gotten so good at spotting who was telling the truth and who was lying, saying that they did book a table and it was the restaurants fault for not keeping track, that I could spot a liar and an honest person whenever they did put on that act. It was annoying really; Martin put me onto that kind of detail when I was working for him. He was so successful that he was able to turn away customers whenever I knew they were lying. Of course, he had that sense too.
After we danced around restaurants and nightclubs, we just decided to go for pizza. I mean, pizza, New York City, nightlife, who wouldn’t want to be out tonight?
My hesitation with telling Daniel how I really felt was the result of many variables. For one, I didn’t want us to turn into those couples who discussed nothing but money; two, I didn’t want to pressure him into marrying me (plus I didn’t want him to think I felt pressured now); and three, even though we were together, I didn’t want him to think that we were so fully a unit that he could invest his money into our lives together. I know commitment doesn’t just border on matrimony—Daniel and I are committed—it was just that I wanted him to invest his time, his emotions, his mental capacity, as much as he could, with me; but when it came to money, I was a little nervous.
I guess you could say that living under a roof where my parents fought over money late into the night was something that took its toll on me. Over the years, their bickering over their financial situation eventually subdued, but the memories were still there. They plagued my mind so much so, that they were even prodded and reopened when the news of my parents’ divorce was announced. A factor it was, a statistical factor; money was, at times, a prominent variable in reducing the possibility of a happy marriage and increasing the risk of a divorce.
Money can buy you happiness…but only if you’re single?
“Let’s just step back and take a breather,” I said. I took in a breath; Daniel just watched me, smiling. “Firstly, let’s not start acting like you’re—” I scanned the place, filled with people at their tables, and then leaned in “—so rich. You said so yourself, it activates at 28 right?”
Daniel nodded, a string of cheese wobbling between his mouth and the pizza. “Mmm-hmm.”
“Cool. Okay. We can agree on that.”
“Something amiss here?”
I paused. “I’m just concerned.”
Daniel huffed a chuckle and brushed off my worry. “Nothing to be concerned about.”
“I know you see it that way but—”
I sighed, hesitant. “I just don’t want this to change us you know.”
Daniel tilted his head. “Anna, it’s a lot of a money—” he mouthed the words ‘a lot’ “—you’re going to have to expect a certain amount of change.”
“I know, I know. I just, I want us to still be us. I don’t want either of us to lose sight of ourselves and get wrapped up in this whole money thing.”
“You’re scared, I get it. You know, if we were married…” he lifted a brow and shrugged.
“If we were married then what? What’s yours would become mine?”
He grinned. “Exactly.”
In no way does it work like that. “So I guess a prenup would be out of the question?”
Daniel didn’t laugh, neither did he take a bite out of his delicious pizza. The giant one that he’s been scoffing down ever since we got here. “We’re not even married yet and you’re thinking about divorce?”
“Well,” I felt stuck, “that’s how it goes. I mean, wouldn’t you want to protect yourself? Just in case—”
“Just in case what? You hurt me? I think that’s all been said and done, honey.” He shut his eyes and froze. I winced liked I’d been cut. “That’s not what I mean,” he said, opening them and leaning in. “I just—I…” he struggled.
Unblinking, I stared at him angrily. More wide-eyed than I had been when I was coming home exhausted; I wasn’t even feeling the exhaustion right now my anger was so hot. “I’m not that bad.”
“You’re not bad at all, Anna,” he shot out. “I’m sorry. I mean, come on, here I’m thinking it’s you who is trying to protect me but really, it’s you who’s trying to protect yourself. You’re afraid shit’s going to go downhill again so bad and this time it’ll be more serious, aren’t you?”
I leaned back, crossing my arms. “Well that is what a prenup is for, isn’t it? To protect oneself? I was just putting it in a way that you can relate to.”
“Oh I can relate to it all right. I’m going to get another slice.” He wiped his mouth with a tissue and stood.
I sighed, still in my petulant state. You see! This was exactly the type of thing I was trying to avoid. We’re not even tied together; Daniel doesn’t even have his money yet, and already we were arguing about money. Is this normal for all relationships? I had been thinking so highly of a 50\50 arrangement that I never thought my capabilities would be offset by a few million dollars.
“You know what’s funny?” Daniel said, placing his slice on the table as he seated. “Richard keeps pushing that I should be with someone at my own level,” he laughed, shaking his head in reminisce. “I always thought he was wrong until—”
He stopped short but I knew what he was going to say. He was cut off by my gaping mouth; the shock-horror hitting me in creases of my skin I didn’t even know I could even fold.
“Let me guess,” I started, “another thing you didn’t mean?”
“Oh come on, don’t mock me. It was an honest accident. I’m sorry, okay?”
I crossed my arms even tighter and turned away. “I can’t believe you said that,” I mumbled.
“Said what? I didn’t say anything. Okay, look, Anna, I stopped because I knew it was wrong of me to say. I’m sorry, okay? I love you and sometimes I just love you so much I say the wrong things. Forget about the money, I’ve got three years left on me, I don’t even need to think about the money. I mean, you’re my money.” He cringed, scrunching his fist. “Gah, my words are coming out all wrong. What I want to say, how much you mean to me, it’s coming out all wrong!” Daniel paused and neither of us moved. “Anna,” I looked at a worried face, hopeful and apologetic, gesturing to my unfinished pizza, “eat?”
I turned my gaze again. “I think I lost my appetite.”
“Anna,” he said, tilting his head.
No one loses their appetite over pizza, so of course he knew I was lying. I sat up straight and dug into my delicious cheese pizza, swimming away and through, all the while avoiding Daniel’s gaze. I didn’t know if we were going so off track it was hurting us; or so on track reality was hurting us. It was mindboggling and terrifying either way, because each route would take us to a place that neither of us wanted to go.
Our silence was broken by a group of girls laughing hysterically, high-pitched and all, expecting the world to hear. Daniel and I both turned and found Samantha trotting along and I quickly turned back. I was easily able to hide my face because Samantha was coming from behind me, Daniel however, was attempting to crane his neck in the opposite direction that it appeared somewhat awkward and way uncomfortable.
“Daniel!” Samantha shrieked. “Oh my God! How are you?”
Has she experienced any head trauma recently? I mean, does she not remember that she was (and most likely still is) a fiend and once a factor in the decline of our relationship?
“Samantha,” Daniel mumbled, nodding once.
Samantha’s girlfriends were waiting further up the street, just a few steps away from us, when Samantha rounded into the pizza place. She leaned in to hug Daniel, going in halfway and stopping when Daniel flinched back.
Samantha straightened up with a quizzical look on her face, still smiling however. “Jumpy? Okay, no hugs. So, how are we doing?”
“Great, very great,” Daniel said.
“I think you’re girls are waiting for you so…” I trailed off suggestively.
Samantha just stared. “I know.” Then she turned to Daniel with a softer expression on her face. “So, umm, if you’re not doing anything later in the week, well, you still have my number, right?”
Woosah! That’s it, someone hold me back, I’m about to go all Brooklyn on this pixie bitch!
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Daniel grinned, widely cavalier, “it’s still under home wrecker, I think.” Samantha was taken aback, people even started turning their attention our way. I ignored all faces and continued watching the show; as did Daniel. “Is your number still, crazy-stalker-mistake-of-a-friend?” Daniel continued. “Yeah, well hey, don’t look so surprised. I mean, at the rate you’re going with being a home wrecker you could make a fortune. Have a nice night.”
Samantha gasped and looked at me, probably expecting me to say something in her defence.
“I think that’s your cue to leave,” I said. When she stomped away I looked at Daniel. “Now was that really necessary?” even though I felt half-sorry for the girl that Daniel completely just annihilated in public, I was actually kind of proud of him.
“You trying so hard not to laugh is not inspiring any qualms against the situation,” he chuckled nervously, red peaking his cheeks; from that I knew his harsh words were either not coming naturally, or had been built up for so long that he unleashed a year’s worth of misery into night. He sighed, on the edge of slight frustration. “I know you’re not supposed to call girls crazy, but that was one psychotic woman. Did you see the way she was just acting all nonchalant?”
I nodded. “I think now I’ve lost my appetite.”
“Yeah me too.” He peered up through thick envious lashes and smiled, my favourite dimples on any man showing. “Want to go back to my place, babe?” he winked.
Our discussions weren’t quite over, obviously, but at least for the night I could be proud of the fact that I brought up the topic. Spoke about my concerns and worries, and even though it wasn’t exactly received well (I’m still a little shell-shocked) it was worth knowing what his responses were. Because of this moment, I was still apprehensive of future discussions.
Money can buy you happiness…but only if you’re single? I repeated the words in my mind, willing myself to knock them out. Where’s optimism when you need him?
I giggled. “I’m warning you, sir, I don’t go easy.”
Daniel grinned. “A kiss is all I ask.”
I blushed, smiling sheepishly. “Fine. Then a kiss is all you should have.”
Later that night, Daniel kissed me until I came.
***Has money ever been a factor, whether negative, positive or unchanging, in your relationship(s)? Let me know, comment below! Just a friendly reminder, my 200th post for this blog is coming up! Thank you to all who have supported me thus far and continue to inspire me and encourage me to push my limits! I have another little announcement that I will be sharing either this week or next week so be sure to look out on both twitter and both my blogs! Hope you enjoyed this super-long post! Soul xo***