Disclaimer for the entire story: I own nothing.
A/N: Okay,I recently had someone volunteer to go through my stories do some (a lot so far, actually) editing. I then go back through them and fix things that needed to be fixed. I forgot to ask if they wanted to be credited personally or not so far the time being I'll just say that they are absolutely wonderful and I really, really appreciate them for taking the time to comb through and look for mistakes. I'm going to be swapping out old chapters with the edited ones as we go along, though I assure you that as the reader nothing is changing plot-wise. The biggest issues are grammar related though some lines/phrases have been reworked to sound better, but still everything is the same in terms of the story. :)
This story was inspired by the song "Last Name" by Carrie Underwood (which I also don't own...shocking, right?). As usual, Ryelsi is the main focus but this story will also feature a Zekepay subplot so there'll be a lot more of them. Take place when they're all about 25 years old.
A few things to know about the couples/relationship statuses at the start of the story:
Troy and Gabriella stayed together after high school and are now getting married just outside of Las Vegas.
Chad and Taylor have had a sort of on-again/off-again relationship since high school, but are a couple at this point.
Jason and Martha went to the prom together, but broke up before going to college. Ended up back together a couple of years later and have since gotten married.
Zeke and Sharpay started dating after prom and stayed together through part of college, thus pulling Sharpay more into the group as a whole. Sharpay ended up breaking up with him for reasons you'll find out later, but has come to regret it. Both of them have plans to try and win the other back over the course of the week. Neither of them has any idea that the other one wants them back.
Ryan and Kelsi's story is a lot like Zeke and Sharpay's: started dating after prom and stayed together through part of college until Kelsi broke his heart by ending it for reasons you'll find out in this chapter (hence the angst). This will be the first time the two of them have seen each other since she broke up with him five years prior to the start of this story. Ryan has a lot of questions and Kelsi has a lot to answer for. And that was before she goes and does something really stupid that makes the entire situation much more complicated for both of them. Lots of drama ahead for our favorite couple, though it won't all be angst & drama - they'll be humor and lightness too. Let me know what you think!
The headache Kelsi Nielsen was currently experiencing was without question the worst headache she had ever had in her entire life. It felt as if there was a team of people in her head with jackhammers digging into her skull. The pain had hit her as she was waking up, and she had instantly squeezed her eyes shut again because the light in the room intensified the pain. She pressed her hands to her face and rolled over as she cautiously lifted one eyelid to peek out at the room between her fingers, and then forced herself to lower her hands and open her eyes all the way. Her glasses were on the bedside table, so she grabbed them and slipped them on. The next thing she noticed was that this hotel room was definitely not the one she had checked in the day before. Confusion mixed in with the pain in her head as she slowly sat up to look around. The room itself looked very similar to hers – all of the furniture was exactly the same. But there was one major difference: if this had been her hotel room, the windows would have been to the right of the bed. Here the windows were to the left. Her brow furrowed as she continued her search of the room noting, in relief that her purse was lying on the floor near the door. She turned her head towards the other side of the room and bit back a scream. Wherever she was, she was not alone. There, lying on the other side of the large bed was a human shaped lump. The blankets covered him completely so she couldn't tell who it was, though she was quite certain that it was a man. Horrified, she brought her hands back up to massage her aching forehead, and in the process noticed something that made her freeze.
She slowly lowered her hands and as she studied them, her heart started beating in double time. There was a ring on her finger that she had never seen before. That in and of itself would have been disconcerting, but it wasn't so much the ring itself that was causing her heart to pound as hard as it was. Instead, it was the placement of said ring: the ring finger of her left hand. As she gaped at it in horror, she forced herself to try to remember what had happened yesterday. Her memory seemed a little fuzzy, so she started with what she knew to be true. Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, after having dated for seven years, were finally getting married. The wedding itself would take place on the upcoming Sunday at a beautiful chapel on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Yesterday had been Monday and all of the other activities, such as the rehearsal dinner, would be starting Friday evening. Troy and Gabriella had decided that they wanted to fly out all of their high school friends to Vegas a few days before in celebration of the upcoming nuptials. They thought it would be fun for everyone to catch up and let loose before the families started arriving. It was bound to be a week that none of them would ever forget.
But in all honesty, Kelsi hadn't been sure she wanted to go, and almost turned down the invitation. She had planned to just go for the wedding itself, but Gabriella had called and practically begged her to spend the week with them. Kelsi had been unable to say no and had agreed to go, much to Gabriella's delight. It wasn't that she didn't want to see her friends. They had all kept in touch after high school, but had slowly drifted apart as they all started their individual careers. Kelsi still talked to most of them on the phone occasionally and had even seen a few of them over the years, but it wasn't the same. Kelsi often found herself missing the way they used to be. Apparently, so had Troy and Gabriella. Now that they were getting married, they'd had an almost desperate urge to reconnect with their old friends. To try and form new bonds that would rejuvenate their friendships. Kelsi hadn't known just how much she had missed all of them until she had seen them at the hotel the day before. No...it wasn't that she hadn't wanted to see her friends. Rather, the reason for her indecision was fear of seeing one person in particular: Ryan Evans.
The two of them had started dating their senior year of high school after Ryan had asked her to go to prom with him. That day had been one of the happiest days of her entire life. She'd had a crush on Ryan Evans from the very first time she had seen him - which had been two years prior to him asking her to prom. It hadn't taken long before she had gone from simply having a crush on him to being hopelessly in love with him. When they had both won scholarships to Juilliard, she had been thrilled. At first anyway. It wasn't that things started getting bad between them or anything like that. On the contrary, things had been wonderful. She had fallen for him a little more every day, and vice versa. He had been everything she had ever wanted in a boyfriend, and then some. She knew he had been planning on asking her to marry him. He had even bought a ring. He had been fully committed to the idea of spending the rest of his life with her, and for most girls this would have been a cause for celebration.
Kelsi had never been like most girls. She had been happy with Ryan, blissfully happy even, but had fallen victim to a curse that plagued the women in her family. You see, Kelsi came from a long line of leavers, as she called them. From her great-grandmother, to her maternal grandmother, to her mother...all of them had loved and married the boys of their dreams. Boys that all of them had eventually walked out on. Kelsi hadn't known her great-grandmother at all and barely remembered her grandmother, but she did remember her mother. She doubted that any man had ever loved any woman as much as her father had loved her mother. How much he loved her still, even though it had been almost twenty years since she had left. Kelsi had been five years old when her mother had walked out on them. She had been old enough to understand that her mommy was gone, but too young to understand why. Her father had been completely heartbroken by his wife leaving though Kelsi wasn't sure that heartbroken was a strong enough word to describe the agony her father had been through. Her mother had left her father a broken and devastated man who had been so hurt by her leaving that he had seriously debated leaving Kelsi with his parents and taking his own life. He had been convinced that he would rather die than live without his wife. He'd even had a plan of how he was going to do it.
But something had changed. He had gone to drop Kelsi off with her grandparents and as he was leaving, Kelsi had suddenly launched herself at him, crying hysterically. She had no idea what his plan had been, but even so, she had begged him not to leave. According to her father, she had looked up at him with those big eyes of hers and pleaded with him not to leave because she loved him. And just like that, he had known that he couldn't go through with his plan. He would find some way to go on with his life, if only for the sake of his precious little girl. The only remnant of his wife that he had left. He had devoted himself to the care of his daughter from that point on, though he had never been the same. Kelsi knew that even though time had healed some of his wounds, her mother had hurt him so badly that there were a couple of them that were still bleeding. Even after almost twenty years. The worst thing about all of this was the fact that her mother had loved her father once. That she had not only loved him but had been desperately in love with him. But she had never wanted to be a mother. It was the same with the women in her family who came before her. All of them had started out being hopelessly in love, and had remained that way until they'd had their daughters. That seemed to be the catalyst that set off their desire to flee. And flee they all did, leaving the men behind them with two things and two things only: a beautiful little daughter, and a broken heart.
Kelsi knew the history of that side of her family well and when she had first started dating Ryan, she had vowed that she would never be like them. She knew that if he had asked her to marry him that she would have said yes. There would have been a wedding and there would have been a child – Ryan wanted children – and Kelsi would have done exactly what the women before her had. She knew she was destined to be a leaver, but in her mind it would be better to leave before wedding vows were made. She had broken up with him, much to his hurt and confusion. He had fought for their relationship, knowing that they loved each other. She had known that if she had stayed in New York that he would've convinced her that they should get back together. And if they had, she knew she would've ended up marrying him. So she had done what she hadn't wanted to do: she had deliberately broken his heart. She had been cruel and heartless, two things that she was not, and she had done it on purpose. It was the only way she could think of to get him to let her go. She had hopped on a plane the next day before he had time to recover. Because he would and once he did, he would fight for her again because he knew that she hadn't been herself. It had been the single hardest thing she had ever done and, though it had been years, she still had to fight the urge to go to him and try and win him back. That had been why she had been hesitant to attend this week with her friends. It would be the first time that she would see him in five years and she was scared, because as much as she tried to deny it to everyone, mostly herself, the truth was that she was still hopelessly in love with him. She was worried that she would lose her resolve and do everything in her power to try to win him back, and it would take every ounce of strength she possessed to resist.
The memories of what she had done to Ryan were so painful, that she forced them out of her mind and tried once more to focus on what had happened the day before. After all, she had to figure out what had happened to cause this ring to mysteriously appear on her finger. She remembered meeting everyone in the lobby, remembered how her heart had jumped in her chest at her first glimpse of Ryan. The moment her eyes had found his, everything else in the room had faded away. In his eyes she had seen questions and pain, so much pain, among other intense emotions. The emotion that had stood out the most, much to her surprise, was love. Even after all these years and what she had done. That right there had almost made her go running across the room and into his arms. But it had lasted for only a few seconds, as his eyes had quickly become guarded – almost as if he was deliberately putting up some sort of barrier designed to shut her out. Gabriella had picked that exact moment to bounce over to Kelsi and hug her, which had been just the distraction Kelsi had needed. There had then been a flurry of commotion as hugs were exchanged and plans were made. It was there that she had found herself talking with Zeke, who after having had his own heart broken by Sharpay, was determined to try and win the blonde back on this trip. Kelsi was stunned to realize that she had more in common with Sharpay than she had ever realized. Both of them had hurt the men that they had loved, though Kelsi couldn't even begin to understand what Sharpay's reasoning could have been.
In any event, it had soon been decided that they would spend the evening checking out the Las Vegas nightlife and hitting a few of the clubs. They had broken off into two groups upon reaching the first club, with the guys going one way, and the girls going another. Sharpay had bought them all a round of drinks. Kelsi winced. That had been the start of the trouble. Kelsi wasn't a drinker, not by any means. She'd had alcohol before, but didn't really care for it. As a result, she basically didn't drink at all and had never been close to being drunk. So she had naturally turned down the shot when Sharpay had ordered it. The blonde girl had merely rolled her eyes and insisted that one little shot wouldn't do any harm and that this was a celebration. Kelsi had sighed and reluctantly taken the shot, which had burned a path from her lips to her stomach. Somewhere along the way a second round of drinks had been ordered, also by Sharpay if Kelsi remembered correctly. It had all been downhill at that point. Sharpay had seemed intent on getting all of them drunk and Kelsi, being a nondrinker and also a small person, had gotten there pretty quickly.
Kelsi shut her eyes as images of being on a dance floor with some guy she didn't even know came to mind. He had come up to her with a "Hey cutie, where ya from?" and that had been it. She remembered noticing Ryan watching her, a look of disapproval on his face that had annoyed her. So she had kept dancing with the guy, who eventually turned into another one and another one. She had definitely gone a little crazy last night, and it was at that point that her memory really started getting hazy. She winced again, knowing how ashamed her father would be if he knew about it. Ryan kept popping up in her thoughts and she frowned, trying to figure out what that meant. She fixed her gaze on the ring, willing it to give her some kind of clue. It was at that point that her thoughts drifted towards Elvis Presley of all things. She furrowed her brow as images of some sort of chapel came to mind. Images of being in a wedding chapel with Elvis and some other person she couldn't quite identify. She vaguely remembered trying to sign some sort of piece of paper, and giggling because it was hard to write.
Kelsi closed her eyes again and wondered what in the world she had done. She climbed out of the bed, ignoring her still raging headache – no doubt proof of her first hangover. It was then that she realized that, aside from missing her jacket and her shoes, she was still wearing what she had been the night before. Thank goodness for small miracles, she thought as she stumbled towards her purse to dig out her cell phone, anxious to talk to someone she knew.
Slipping into the bathroom, she managed to dial Martha's cell phone.
"'Lo?" a sleepy voice answered.
"Jason?" Kelsi massaged her forehead as she tried to remain calm enough to speak. "Is Martha there?"
"Ya," was the short answer. Jason was apparently not a morning person, Kelsi decided.
"Hi Martha...um...I...well I have a problem..."
"What's the matter?" Martha asked, sounding tired.
"Well...are you sitting down?"
"Lying down, actually," Martha yawned.
"Good that's good...I um...well I guess I better just come out and say it...this is so bad..." Kelsi shook her head. Regretted it half a second later as doing so seemed to make the pain in her head worse.
"Kelsi, what's wrong?" Martha wanted to know. Her voice had shifted from sounding tired to sounding worried.
"It's really bad," Kelsi whispered. "I don't think I can say it..."
"Come on Kelsi," Martha encouraged her, "it can't be all that bad. Just start at the beginning."
"Well...you know how we all went out drinking last night?" Kelsi let out a huff. "I think I'm officially hung over. My head feels like there's a bunch of tiny jackhammers going off inside of it."
"That's why I stopped after two shots," Martha sympathized. "Drink plenty of water, get some food and take some aspirin. That'll help."
"Well thanks for that, but...that's not why I called..."
"Oh," Martha responded, surprised. "Then what?"
"I woke up and noticed that the room I'm in isn't the one I checked into yesterday...I think it's the same hotel. I keep having images of Elvis and a wedding chapel..." Kelsi started.
"You...what?" Martha sounded completely shocked.
"And there's kind of another person in the bed and I...well I have a ring on my left hand and well..." Kelsi took a breath. "I think I might've gotten married."