A/N: Well, here it is! I'm finally uploading story #2 on fictionpress. I hope you guys like it as much as you liked Dusky Grey….as usual, chapter uno isn't as exciting as the rest of the story, but stick around and it will be! I promise. =] Oh yeah! I wanted to say a special thanks to TJ's BitterSweet Shadow, whose PM encouraged me to go ahead and upload this. Anyhow, enjoy, and as always, review and let me know what you think!

Chapter One: More Vodka


In my eyes, you don't see
And I don't breathe the way I used to.
- Never Shout Never


"Ok, so…strawberries," I ticked off the list as Kimberly tossed the ingredients into the blender. "Bananas, crushed ice, soy milk, sugar - "

"Splenda," she corrected me quickly, flicking back her hair and dumping in the sugar substitute, "Bikini season, girl."

"Right," I replied, looking back down at the note-card that she'd scrawled the recipe on. "Splenda, and that's it."

"And vodka!" Kim interjected, tossing a splash of the liquor into the mixture.

"Kim!" I interjected, standing up quickly and yanking the bottle out of her hand. My best friend just giggled, slapping the lid onto the blender and pressing high. I ugh-ed, setting the bottle out of her reach and shaking my head in disapproval.

"Don't be such a straight-edge," she chided, licking her fingers.

I hated when she called me that.

"You won't even taste it, Madison." She assured me, turning around and grasping two glasses from a nearby cabinet.

"That's not the point. It's not our vodka, Kim, your parents are going to find out you took it and get pissed."

She looked at me like I was stupid, and I have to admit, that was a pretty lame excuse. The Wilder's really didn't care what Kimberly did, as long as she avoided a.) getting arrested and b.) getting pregnant. Otherwise, there were literally no rules. It was quiet except for her humming as she poured the drinks and fished around for those ridiculous curly straws in a nearby drawer.

"Here," she thrust the drink at me with a half-smile on her face, and then grabbed her sunglasses and towel off of the counter and padded out of the French doors to the pool. I sighed, and then followed.

This was a summer tradition of ours – making smoothies and lying out by her pool, reading magazines and gossiping and sharing all of our boy troubles. Now that we were finally on summer break, it was nearly a daily ritual for us. Kimberly was wearing her favorite neon purple bikini, her arms down to her sides as she attempted to perfect her tan. It really was the last thing I needed – to tan, but it was something I'd always done to please her. Her blonde hair was piled into a messy bun on top of her head and her Dolce and Gabanna sunglasses were perched on her thin nose. She really was gorgeous; tall and thin with a smattering of freckles on her nose.

I, on the other hand, was pretty. Not gorgeous. I was shorter and curvier with light brown skin, and thick dark hair. I was not ugly, I knew that much. But I was not the model-type that boys tripped over each other to get to. I was used to being overshadowed by Kim; back in high school and even now, when her escapades and love life felt like a romance novel compared to my mundane, still-with-the-high-school-sweetheart deal.

As if she could read my mind, Kimberly began to talk about her sorority at State.

"So, I mean, I love the Zeta girls, you know? They're so fun, and, they know how to party and everything. It's the Frat boys that annoy me! They're all loaded pricks and they think that we all just adore them. But they're so big headed and so not good looking."

"Mmhmm," I replied, taking a sip of my smoothie. She was wrong. I could taste the vodka. I looked out over the grass, blocking out her rambling because I'd heard it all before: Kim had been dissatisfied or quickly bored with every boy who'd ever vied for her attention, but that didn't stop her random flings with rich playboys or, her newest plaything, a professor.

"I mean, Eric is so smart, you know? It's not even about the money, because he is filthy rich, but he's just intellectual."

"Right," It was easier to just agree with her than tell her that I thought it was disgusting. My gaze moved to my toenails. We'd just gone to the salon the day before, and my nails were raspberry pink with white flowers on my big toe. I wiggled it, and then sighed. I was bored already, and we'd barely been out there for five minutes. Then, the conversation turned to an unwanted topic: Patrick.

"How's Patty?" She asked, adjusting her bikini top and taking a long sip of her smoothie. "By the way, more vodka next time."

"Patrick's fine." I replied, thinking subconsciously about later when I'd see him for our first date of the summer. I started wondering, without meaning to, how it would go.

As usual, my mom would butt into my business. My older sister, Cassidy, told me to suck it up – "Mom only wants what's best for you," she'd say, peeking out from behind one of her non-fiction history books. "She lives vicariously though us, you know. If you think about it, her life gets so boring. Dad's always working, and she quit at the boutique after I was born. All she does is shop, gossip with her friends, and get super involved in our lives. I mean, at least she cares about us, right? It's not that bad, really."

Cassidy could talk – Mom had all but hand-picked her current fiancée, as well as heavily pressuring her to go to Yale where she could study History. Cass had wanted all of that, though, every single bit of the existence that my mom had carefully crafted for her. My little brother Ryan was the same way: content to live in the posh life our parent's created for us, secure in our bubble of luxuries and being picture perfect family.

"You guys have a big date tonight, right?" She asked, peering at me over her glasses, which had slid down to the edge of her nose.

"Yep," I answered, peering back out over the field. It was tobacco harvesting season and there were always boys in the fields at the Wilder's house. This year, there were several bodies I didn't recognize, though they were far too distant to make out through the wrought-iron fence that surrounded the patio.

"It'll probably be amazing, knowing him." She continued.

She was right. Patrick really was a good guy. He was a great guy, actually. He was very smart, attractive, and his family was very well off. He was always polite, good with parents and kids, and had never once mistreated me during our three year relationship. He was the kind of guy that would send you a dozen roses when he'd fall asleep instead of calling you back; the kind of guy whose idea of a romantic date was taking the family jet to the Hamptons and staying in a bed and breakfast. He definitely swept me off of my feet…and then he swept my mom off of her feet, and the rest is history. My dad even liked him, which was strange, because he was the first boyfriend of mine that actually met my dad.

But I just didn't like talking about him with Kim. That was all.

Twenty minutes later the boys in the field had dispersed and we were on our stomachs. Kim, five minutes before, had received a flirty text message from a frat boy, and had promptly slammed her phone down hard on the concrete, mumbling and sucking up the rest of her smoothie. Finally, she groaned, turning her face towards me.

"Maddy," she moaned, and I knew right away what she wanted.

"Don't call me that." I huffily replied. Then, feeling badly, I added, "Do you want a refill?" I wouldn't have gotten it for her if I wasn't so eager to get out of the hot sunlight. I was definitely sweating.

"Please. And more vodka. Double please."

I didn't reply, just grunted and headed back into the house, closing the glass doors carefully behind me. I pressed the mix button on the blender, topping off both of our drinks, and then, wrinkling my nose, poured some more vodka into Kim's glass.

"You're starting a bit early, eh?" The voice startled me and I sloshed the vodka down my arm, trying pitifully to hide it, then turned around to see a figure standing at the counter near the sink. I hadn't even heard him come in – although I wouldn't have, with the blender being on.

"Uh, no, it's, um, n-not mine – it's for Kimberly," I stumbled quite spectacularly over a very simple sentence, but I had ample reason. Not only did he catch me with vodka in my hand when I was quite far from being legal, he was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.

He was sweaty, his t-shirt clinging to him in a way that showcased his very toned torso. He flicked his hand and the water was running; I caught a glimpse of a tattoo on his forearm as he shoved his hands under the spout, washing them and then splashing water onto his face. His hair was damp from sweat, and it stuck to his forehead in light brown strands. His eyes were big and green and studying me as he was wiping his hands and I felt very exposed in my bikini.

"I see," He finally replied as I stared at him, feeling quite awkward. "Well, tell Kimmy I said she needs to take it slow."

"Who are you?" I blurted, and then, mortified, felt my face heat up. "I'm sorry – that sounded so rude. I meant - "

"I'm Liam," he sat the towel down on the counter and smiled at me, looking completely at ease, dirt evident on his pants. "I can't believe Kim hasn't mentioned me…it kind of hurts." And with that, he smiled at me, a smile that showcased dimples in his cheeks and accentuated the sharpness of his jaw. Then, he yanked the fridge open, rummaged around and completely ignored me as I padded back outside.

"Geez, did you get lost?" Kim asked, lifting her head from her lounge-chair and sticking a hand out for her smoothie.

"Sorry, I just - " I glanced back at the house and he was gone, or at least somewhere away from the glass doors "Who in the world is Liam?"

It was quiet for a second as Kim slurped on her drink, and then she set it on the concrete next to her, groaning. "Cousin."

"Oh," I replied, trying not to sound too interested and positioning myself back on my stomach, "He told me to tell you - "

"Ugh, he talked to you?" Her eyes cracked open, her nose wrinkling. "He's so weird."

"Really?" I glanced back at the house, and then shut my eyes tightly, trying to shake the image of him out of my head. "How so?"

"I don't know, he's just creepy. The only reason he's here is to help with the tobacco stuff," she said shortly. "Anyway, Eric hasn't called me for two days, and I'm starting to wonder if he's trying to dump me."

"Mmm," I replied, tuning out completely, and thinking about where the name Liam even came from as the sun beat down on my back.

When I got home a few hours later, I was several shades darker. I walked inside to see Ryan and a friend of his playing the x-box in the games room and my mom lounging in the living room on the telephone. I waved to her as I walked by, heading up the stairs, and she waved back, grinning. She was probably talking to Cassidy. I traipsed upstairs, determined to take a shower and nap before Patrick came to pick me up.

I showered first, very slowly, and then crashed, sleeping for two straight hours until my cell phone woke me. It was a text message from Patrick.

Hey beautiful. I hope ur ready for tonight…I kno I am.
I thought we'd have a nice dinner on the beach? Pick u up 7.
Love u.

Dinner on the beach? I decided to go ahead and ask my mom's opinion: I was completely at a loss at what to wear, anyway. And, for some reason, I couldn't make myself excited to see Patrick in any way, shape, or form. I descended the stairs, finding my mother in the kitchen, pouring herself a glass of green tea.

"Hey Sweetheart. How's Kim?"

"She's good," I rested my elbows on the bar and waited for her to finish with the tea before I continued. My mom was a very good-looking woman – for being 50. She had those kind of effortless good looks that had made her a bombshell when she was younger. Now that she was older, she was the envy of many of the woman that lived in the swanky subdivision that we occupied, Sunshine Meadows. She had a naturally tan skin tone, dark straight hair that was cut in a cute bob, a very thin face, and a petite body. Her eyes were big and dark, with thick lashes and pouty lips. People joked that she could by my sister, but it really was true. "Patrick and I are going on a date tonight. He says he wants to take me to dinner on the beach."

"Ooh!" Her eyes got huge and she set down her glass, clapping her hands enthusiastically. "That sounds lovely, doesn't it?"

I suddenly wondered if my mom didn't wish that she and dad went on dates still. She absolutely loved going out. She adored picking outfits and make-up and hair and the excitement that comes with a big night out. I remembered how her grin would light up her entire face when Dad would stand by the door, watching her kiss us goodbye and touch up her hair one last time in the huge mirror in the foyer. He'd kiss her deeply and she'd laugh and tell the babysitter not to wait up. But they hadn't been on a date in who knows how long. I hadn't even seen them kiss in who knows how long.

"Yeah, I suppose so," I looked down at my fingers, but she didn't notice my melancholy demeanor. She was in full date-mode by now: there was no stopping her.

"Well, do you think he'll get awfully dressed up? Because that purple dress I bought you the other day – you know the one with criss-cross straps? That would be gorgeous on you. But if it's not going to be formal you could wear those white shorts from Polo. They do wonders for your legs, don't they? Come on, let's go look."

An hour later I was standing in front of my full length mirror, my mom finally signing off on a simple grey dress, sandals, and a blue cardigan. I sighed, glancing at the clock. 6:48. Patrick would be here on time. He always was. I decided to spare him the ooh-ing and ahh-ing at how cute we were together that my mom would doubtless provide and wait for him outside.

To my surprise, Mom's BMW was gone. I sat down on the porch, my chin in my palm, my mind beginning to wander. I wondered how many times I'd sat in this spot, waiting for him to come get me in the three years that we'd been together. It was only a few minutes before I heard his car – a Mercedes – pulling into the driveway. I had been thinking about school. About how I was going to be going back to Brown in the fall but how much I didn't want to…however welcome the break from Patrick had been.

And then, I'd started feeling guilty. Like usual. Because Patrick this amazing guy and an even better boyfriend. He was exactly the type of person that a girl would kill to date, because you knew he was sincere, you knew when he was looking you in the eyes and saying, "I love you," he really, really meant it.

And then, suddenly, he was out of the car and scooping me up into his arms, squeezing me tightly and burying his face into my neck.

"Hey, beautiful."

"Hey," I muttered, squeezing him back.

"I missed you."

"I missed you, too." I replied, and tried to mean it. It wasn't that I hadn't missed Pat at all. I had…sometimes. But not often. Not as often as he missed me.

"You're going to love today, I promise." He mumbled, taking my hand. "It's going to kick off the best summer ever."

Later, I would find out that Patrick was so wrong, and so right with that statement. But at that moment, I wasn't thinking about summer, what it would bring and what I wanted from it. I was thinking about how my legs were sticking to the leather of Pat's car and how the green of his shirt reminded me strangely of a pair of eyes.