Chapter 1

The Spineless Boyfriend and his Pretty Porsche

March 29, 2009

"If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something" –Murphy's Law No. 8

"Greece? You're going to… Greece?"

Cadence's green eyes strayed over to her boyfriend's car behind him and she shrugged nonchalantly in answer to his question. He could disbelieve her all he wanted, but that still didn't change anything. She was going to Greece whether or not her boyfriend approved—and those had been her father's exact words.

"My dad and Uncle Patrick are having a launch party for their new branch in Athens—the whole family is going," Cadence explained.

"Is-Is he going?" Ryan inquired, and Cadence noticed a lock of blond hair which had fallen into his face.

She reached up to fix it but that seemed to be the wrong thing to do. Ryan's glare turned into an awkward sneer so she dropped her hand. He'd never been very good at getting mad at her. Cadence waited for him to blow a gasket.

"Yes," she said calmly.

Ryan's face turned an odd shade of green at her answer. Well, she was only telling the truth. Did he really want her to lie to him?

Her boyfriend jammed his hands into his pockets as though keeping them out was dangerous. That might not have been too far from the truth—Ryan loved to gesture wildly as he spoke, and never took much care in doing it. Cadence should know, she'd been whacked in the face more than once.

Her gaze focused on one of the gardeners. The small woman was working on trimming a rose bush near the fountain that had been placed awkwardly in the middle of the driveway.

"Do you really expect me to be okay with that, Cadence? You're always around him and he does everything in his power to piss me off. Doesn't that matter at all?" Ryan asked her.

Cadence leaned back against the front door and sighed loudly. It was the same argument each time, and though she'd explained to him her own dislike of the boy in question—which was even greater than what Ryan harbored—her boyfriend still didn't seem to understand.

"Of course it does, darling. But the Slades are closer to us than family and you know I hate this as much, if not more, as yo—"

But Cadence's broken record speech was cut off abruptly as another car slid smoothly into the driveway behind Ryan's Porsche. The car was shiny, black, and looked outrageously expensive, so it was no surprise when her brother and father stepped out into the sunlight. Cadence's "Uncle" Patrick and his son followed from the backseat not ten seconds later.

"Rides like a dream, doesn't she, Pat?" Ethan Marshall inquired of his best friend. "And I got a great deal on it, too, since Mac Underwood owns the dealership."

"How much was it?" Patrick Slade replied.

Ryan, who had heard Cadence's father speak, turned around. Cadence watched in detached amusement at the way the muscles in Ryan's back stiffened. She slipped an arm through his and leaned her head against his shoulder, but that didn't seem to be enough.

"Relax, darling," Cadence cajoled.

Ryan clenched his fists and then turned to look down at his girlfriend with a murderous expression on his face. It was interesting that only one person in the world managed to bring out the worst in Ryan.

Ethan, Patrick, and the boys made their way up the walk toward the house. Hayden Marshall, Cadence's older brother, was the first to notice the couple at the front door. He frowned slightly at Ryan, who was too busy glaring at Carson Slade to notice much else.

"Hi, sweetie," Cadence's father greeted her.

"Hi, Daddy, Uncle Patrick."

"Hello, Babs. Hello, Ryan," Patrick replied and smiled pleasantly at the pair.

Ethan shot his daughter's boyfriend a reproving look, and then slid past them into the house with Patrick.

Cadence grinned at Hayden when the older men were gone, and tightened her hold on Ryan to make sure he didn't lunge at Carson. Thinking about it, she relaxed her grasp… What was so bad about setting Ryan loose on Carson, anyway?

"Babs, shouldn't you be packing?" Hayden asked her.

He kept his hazel eyes glued to his baby sister's face as he spoke, lest he punch her boyfriend in the stomach.

"Bubbles, you know it's going to take you twice as long to pack as me. Maybe you should take your own advice," Cadence suggested.

Carson Slade took that moment to insert his two cents and Ryan tensed even more beside his girlfriend.

"I am so glad we're taking this family trip, aren't you, Cadence? I mean, it's been forever since we've gotten some quality alone time," he drawled, and stashed his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

Cadence rolled her eyes when she felt Ryan begin to pull away from her. She tightened her grip on him again. The last thing they needed was a bloody mess on the veranda. Mrs. Marshall would flip out at having to get someone to clean up.

She turned her green eyes to Carson calmly.

"Oh, give it a rest, Slade. That pedestal of yours started cracking a long time ago," Cadence snapped.

Carson only smirked and his aquamarine eyes began to light up in mockery. They had a steely edge in them that made Cadence flinch a little bit. He was getting angry so she tensed in preparation for whatever he threw at her.

Hayden looked as though he wanted to cut into the spat between his best friend and baby sister almost as much as Ryan, but Carson and Cadence were staring at each other murderously and nothing would stop them now.

"My pedestal may be cracking, darling, but at least I have one."

Cadence rolled her eyes again.

"Really, that's the best you could do?"

She unhinged herself from Ryan's arm and the boy seemed to stumble forward at the sudden release. Cadence brought a manicured hand up to her face, and then began to examine her nails.

"We'll see how snappy you are in Greece when I've got you to myself," Carson challenged her.

"Dude!" Hayden hissed. "She's still my little sister, man. Shut up."

Ryan growled low in his throat and lunged at Carson. Hayden stepped between them just in time while Cadence watched in slight amusement at her boyfriend's sad attempt. Anger management might do all of them some good, she thought.

"Hey! You don't want to do that," Hayden hissed at Ryan.

Ryan had a good three inches on Cadence's brother but he still backed down anyway. Carson's smirk was feral as though he'd just proven his point. Cadence sighed heavily at Ryan and turned to enter the house in disappointment. He never would be able to hold his own… even against scum like Carson Slade.

It was not thirty seconds later that she heard her boyfriend's car peel out of the driveway. She'd get hell from him on the phone later, but Cadence figured Ryan couldn't blame her for his cowardice; that was his own downfall.

Carson and Hayden followed her in when Ryan was gone.

"Ever thought of finding a boyfriend with a backbone?" Carson drawled.

He was leaning against the wall beside the door when Cadence turned around. She didn't want to dignify his idiocy with a response, but the words slipped out between her lips before she could stop them.

"Did it ever occur to you that people could actuallybe happy without your insatiable need to ruin their lives?" Cadence snapped, her temper getting the best of her at last.

Carson chuckled humorlessly in the face of her cracked composure, and then slipped past her toward the kitchen. Hayden heaved a heavy sigh and followed after his best friend, muttering expletives under his breath.

Cadence turned toward the staircase, fully intending on going up to call her best friend, but her mother's bell-like voice stopped her.

"Cadence, is that you, honey? Come into the kitchen for a moment, dear."

Cadence's frame sagged, but she didn't have the heart to argue and made her way through the formal sitting room and into the kitchen. Everyone, even Carson's mother, was seated around the kitchen table.

Sylvia Slade smiled softly at Cadence who waved genially before turning to the other woman at the table. Cadence peered at her mother curiously, but Angela seemed utterly fascinated by a stray split-end in her honey blonde hair and didn't notice Cadence's appearance.

Patrick cleared his throat uncomfortably, which caused everyone to turn in his direction. He shrugged, blushing slightly, and then pulled Ethan by the arm from the room.

"Yes, Mother?" Cadence inquired finally when Angela refused to answer.

A full sixty seconds later, Mrs. Marshall seemed to realize that she was being addressed and turned a set of pearly hazel eyes toward Cadence's shoulder. A dazzling smile pulled itself across her glossy lips—leftover talent from her modeling days.

"Oh, there you are, dear. Did you happen to find someone to take care of Shakespeare while we're gone?"

Cadence's body stiffened automatically at the mention of her puppy and her eyes slid toward the brown-haired, aqua-eyed Adonis sitting at the table. Carson smirked at her, a mischievous glint in his gaze. She turned back to her mother and shook her head.

"I told you, Mother, I'm taking him with me," she declared.

Angela's grin turned stony and, despite its sparkle, Cadence knew she'd lost. There was no arguing with that smile.

"Well, dear, we don't want to inconvenience Carson. His allergies are quite terrible. You should find someone to look after him," Angela said quietly, picking off a piece of fuzz that had found its way onto her chiffon blouse.

Cadence glared icily at the marble kitchen floor, and ground out a tense, "I'll call Ariana. She'll be glad to do it," before spinning on her heel and retreating from the room.

When Hayden and Carson followed her back into the foyer, she stopped and turned, stiff-backed, to face them.

"It's your fault I can't bring Shakespeare with me. I hope you're happy," she spat at Carson.

Carson smiled, completely unaffected at her behavior. He pulled a hand through his chestnut hair, and then pushed his long-fingered hands into his pockets.

"Oh, quite. There's nothing better for my health than seeing you completely miserable," he replied.

Cadence fought off the urge to slap him and dashed quickly upstairs. She'd show him that dealing with an angry Marshall woman was something he didn't want to do. It was only a matter of time before she got her revenge. The people of Greece weren't ready for the war that was about to hit their small, Mediterranean peninsula.

A/N: So I took down How to Hold Hands for right now in favor of working on this. Before you readers of Modern Romance get angry, this chapter was written a long time ago, and the story wouldn't leave me alone, so I decided to put it up. I know it's short, but this chapter was only to get you familiarized with the characters... Cadence really isn't as bad as she seems, by the way. :) The title is a working title until I come with something better. And it's not supposed to make sense until much later, so don't worry, lol. Updates won't be too quick on this until about May, but I'll try my best. And, as always, please point out any flaws or mistakes. This is only a first draft.

Oh, and in your review, for all those concrit fans out there, if you could answer some of these questions, it would really help me. Thanks!

1) What do you think of the characters? Are they believable? What can I do to make them better? Who's your favorite so far?

2) What about the dialogue and narration? Too stiff? Too much dialogue too little narration, or vice versa?

3) Are you going to continue reading this? Why or why not? What is one thing you would like for me to fix or improve upon?

Thanks so much!!