Three Days in Memphis
Welcome to Memphis, Tennessee
Sharpay sat bolt upright and groaned, falling right back on the bed. She cursed and shielded her eyes from the slanted rays of the sun spilling through the blinds. When her eyes got used to the brightness, Sharpay sat up again, slowly, and stifled a scream. She didn't have to look beyond the blue and gold comforters with the big Lancer University logo in the middle to know that she wasn't in the Peabody Hotel anymore.
Urgh… she groaned, wondering how she got herself into this mess. The door to her left opened and a tall girl with curly blonde hair entered. She stood at the foot of the bed, hands on her hips.
"Savannah," she said sternly, "It's seven in the morning, we still have a routine to practice and the team needs you." Sharpay raised an eyebrow and that's when she noticed the blue and gold cheerleading uniform.
"Oh no…" she mumbled falling back onto the bed as the memories came back…
The plane touched down JFK International and taxied down the runway to an available tarmac. Passengers got off and automatically headed to the Baggage Claim area to get their luggage and then head on out to New York.
Sharpay Evans got off the plane and took in her surroundings; she smiled. Finally, she thought, I'm in New York where I ought to be. With a spring to her step, she quickly followed the passengers who were on their way to collect their belongings. She clutched her Louis Vuitton Sunbeam close to her as she made her way and only loosened her grip when she was a safe distance from people.
In the Baggage Claim area, she got bored waiting for the rest of her Louis Vuitton luggage to materialize. There were only two: a Keepall 45 canvas bag and a Pégase 65 rolling luggage but they don't seem to appear on the conveyor belt which kept revolving slowly, showing other people's luggage. Sharpay tapped her Manolo Blahniks in impatience. The excitement was making her fidgety. It had been so long, for her, since she last saw her twin brother Ryan and she couldn't wait to dash out and look for him in the crowd. Why couldn't she have taken the Evans' Gulfstream G650? Because Daddy needed it for a meeting, she remembered. Her phone rang and Sharpay glanced at the screen, smiled at the name and clicked the Answer button of her iPhone.
"What is taking you forever over there?" her twin brother, Ryan Evans', whined jokingly on the other end of the line. Sharpay rolled her eyes and strained her neck to check if her bags were out.
"I think they stole it," she told him matter-of-factly and fought the sigh of relief that was about to escape her lips when she saw the Louis Vuitton bags, especially customized for her – they were both pink and had SE monogrammed on prominent corners of the bag. She heard her brother snort.
"Nobody would want to be caught strutting around with your luggage. They're too pink and shiny for a normal person." Ryan told her with a laugh.
"Are you saying I'm not normal?" Sharpay asked while she smiled coyly at some cute guy who immediately walked over and got her luggage. She winked at him and he smiled at her, both flirting with their eyes. The guy's mother called him and he left reluctantly. Sharpay forgot about him the moment he turned his back on her and after checking both bags and making sure everything was in place, started walking towards the exit with them.
"If I said you were, are you going to have a fit in there?"
"Oh no Ryan, I'd have a fit right here."
Ryan Evans saw his sister walking out of the airport, her hips sashaying, and men gawking at her behind. She wore a pair of True Religion dark skinny jeans a yellow, Mango tee under a grey tweed blazer folded to the elbows. She completed her look with her favorite Manolo Blahnik pumps and her trademark smirk. It was simple yet chic and the way she carried herself – with superior confidence – had everybody's heads turned.
Sharpay stopped in front of her brother and gave him a once over. Ryan hadn't changed much; the twins still have the telepathic ability to wear matching clothes. Ryan was wearing Michael Kors tweed slacks, a yellow Lacoste polo with a dark vest with his trademark fedora: a sleek black one at that.
"Well the sad truth of it all is that you are beyond normal. I missed you Shar." Ryan had already pocketed his phone and was now hugging his sister. Sharpay hugged him back just as tightly and followed him to his Audi TT Roadster. She stared at the silver coupe in surprise.
"What happened to your Vespa?" she asked suddenly. Her brother raised an eyebrow from where he stood at the back of the car. He opened the trunk and put Sharpay's luggage in it.
"It broke down and I sold it – not for the same price as this one, of course – but after Mom got wind that I was riding public transport made Dad buy me a car… and you know Dad." Ryan explained.
"Whoa good thing you told me. Otherwise I would wonder why my brother suddenly became interested in cars!" the twins laughed as Ryan started the car and drove to his apartment in New York City.
After lunch and shopping, Sharpay told her brother that she was going to prepare dinner. Ryan was initially surprised but he trusted his sister. He told her he was going to pick up Kelsi from Juilliard before she pulls another one of her all-nighters.
"You live together, you study in the same school together… there is something you're not telling me Ry." Sharpay commented slyly and noticed her brother's ears turn crimson.
"What's to tell?" he retorted with a feeble smile but he knew that she knew even if he didn't say anything.
"You're a couple!" Sharpay squealed in delight and Ryan just smiled.
"That we are," he muttered nodding his head, "That we are…"
"Why didn't you tell me?" his sister pouted.
"I was supposed to surprise you. Kelsi was supposed to go with us then I'd kiss her and then you'd go into shock but…"
"…you failed. Epic fail." Sharpay teased and giggled. Her twin tipped his hat to her and left the apartment while Sharpay started on her pasta. She couldn't cook as well as Zeke, her ex-boyfriend but she could cook simple recipes which delighted her parents.
When the couple was back and dinner was being consumed, stories of East High memories were told as well as college stories. Sharpay was quite uncomfortable with the topic as she really had no stories to tell except…
"I just dropped out of college." Sharpay announced, more like blurted, when she felt that the conversation was about to turn to her. Ryan and Kelsi stopped eating and stared at her, mouths agape.
"You what?" Ryan was the first to react albeit vehemently. Kelsi put a hand on his arm and looked at Sharpay. After four years of being terrified of her during highschool, Kelsi gradually became Sharpay's friend because Ryan kept bringing her along to all of his family's events. They've been good friends since.
"Why?" was Kelsi's only reaction to the announcement. Sharpay looked at her gratefully.
"Last summer, Daddy let me go to LA to act at the production of Wicked. An agent saw me, signed me up with a manager and he got me to another production which took me all around the West Coast. Now I'm going to do a play here in the East aka New York." Sharpay explained with pride. Her brother eyed her critically. She knew he was thinking but she wished he wasn't looking at her that way.
"Do Mom and Dad know?" he asked warily. He hoped that they did – at least he'll be able to accept that.
"Of course they do Ry!" his twin laughed and added, "I told them and they said okay."
"Whew! I thought you were trying to be a rebel… or something." Ryan shook his head and continued eating. Kelsi congratulated Sharpay and everything was back in full swing.
In the next days to come, Sharpay had technically moved in with her brother. The apartment had two bedrooms and was spacious enough for the three of them to keep their privacy. Sharpay attended rehearsals in a nearby studio while Ryan and Kelsi, of course, continued their education.
Days became months and eventually the rest of Sharpay's wardrobe was sent to New York. She became a fixture in the apartment and her twin brother and his girlfriend were happy to have her around. They both noticed the change in Sharpay. She was still the same, bitchy, self-confident and talented but the icy aura that cocooned her in highschool was gone. In its place was a mature, fun-loving, adventurous woman who was free-spirited and ambitious.
The day of the play drew near and Sharpay was busy doing commercial promotions and live promotions all around New York. Since she had a lead role, avid theater-goers immediately recognized the young breakout star. They couldn't wait to watch her perform in New York.
Sharpay Evans' name and reputation rapidly gained fame. Paparazzi had started tracking her down and taking pictures of her. An article in various magazines and newspapers were published. Even Ryan and Kelsi were interviewed. The dream was finally coming true for Sharpay – she was a media darling and she was about to become a star!
All the buzz and excitement however, took a different tune when Ryan came home early a week before the first showing. He found Sharpay curled up on the couch in the den, reading a book, looking peaceful. He didn't want to disturb that peace but he knew he had to. It wouldn't be pleasant. Sharpay looked up from her book, Unbearable Lightness, and saw her brother looking at her grimly.
"Ry? Is there something wrong?" she asked unsure of why he was looking at her that way. Wordlessly her brother handed her a newspaper, The New York Times, opened and folded to a certain page. Sharpay read the article, tears starting to stream down her cheeks when she finished it.
"Is it true?" her twin asked, knowing very well that it was not, but he had to be sure. Sharpay cried harder but shook her head.
"How can you even ask that?" she yelled, "I know who did that! Lizzie Van Buren that's who! That bitch Tiara must've done something stupid and now she's trying to make me a scapegoat!" Sharpay got even more hysterical and Ryan caught a glimpse of the old Ice Queen. He tried to comfort his sister.
"Okay! One minute I was finishing my piece and the next thing I know Sharpay is hiding her porn star past? Can anyone explain to me what is going on?"
Kelsi half-yelled through the commotion as she burst into the apartment. She explained to the Evans twins that she was in Starbucks when she saw the newspaper and read the bogus story of Sharpay's supposed past. Sharpay finally calmed down. Ryan made them all tea and waited for his sister's explanation.
"I was assisting Ms. Darbus in the Drama Department in East High, remember?" Ryan and Kelsi nodded.
"Tiara Gold wasn't happy I was still around. She wanted to take my place but she can't and she tried everything to make Ms. Darbus throw me out." Ryan and Kelsi glanced at each other; it reminded them of Sharpay back in highschool – notoriously trying to get Troy Bolton, doing everything in her power.
"So we got into an argument and Ms. Darbus sided with me, of course," Sharpay boasted with a flick of her golden hair, "And this made Tiara even madder. She waited until I walked out of East High and threatened to take revenge on me one day… and that's today!" she sobbed again. Kelsi wrapped her arms around Sharpay while Ryan re-examined the article for clues.
"How can the article written by Lizzie Van Buren be Tiara's revenge piece?" he asked curiously. Sharpay extracted herself from Kelsi and dabbed a handkerchief to her tears.
"Lizzie Van Buren," she began and paused dramatically, "Happens to be Tiara Gold's older sister." Her captivated audience's jaws' dropped.
"How can this be?" Kelsi whispered. She lived in New York long enough to know that LVB was a celebrated columnist of the New York Times. Her articles were very well-written though it is considered by some, as gossip in an elevated form.
"I did my research on Tiara Gold. She came from London, the youngest of four children, all born between long intervals. Lizzie, who is the second to the eldest, left for New York right after college and married Arthur Van Buren who is a prominent lawyer. She became a journalist – more as a hobby than a true calling. Few years later, Tiara came but she stayed in Albuquerque as the Gold's business transferred there and not New York. She does visit her sister from time to time." Sharpay explained. Kelsi was wild-eyed with the knowledge she had but Ryan was used to his twin doing research on any potential enemy.
"So are you going to sue her?" Ryan asked knowing that it was the only thing to do.
"Of course I'm going to sue her!" his sister cried indignantly, "But not here."
"What do you mean not here?" Kelsi asked, "If you don't sue her at once people will think that you're trying to cover up your past."
"As much as I want to sue her here, I think I also told you guys that Arthur Van Buren, her husband, is a prominent lawyer here? Meaning he could beat us to a pulp if we even try to settle?" Sharpay snapped.
"Then where are you planning to file the case?" Kelsi asked, looking confused.
"Albuquerque, of course! Dad knows most of the lawyers there, our uncle being one himself." Ryan answered his girlfriend. With that, Sharpay took out her iPhone and with her perfectly manicured hands continuously tapped the touchscreen until she reached her father's contact number.
In one of the private hangars of JFK International, a sleek Audi followed by a maroon Mercedes entered. Both cars stopped near a large white Gulfstream G650 that said EvansInternational in big black bold letters at the tail. From the Audi, Sharpay, Ryan and Kelsi stepped out and assistants who were waiting at the side attended to their luggage. Ryan glanced at the Mercedes where a tall lean man got out.
Sharpay's manager, Tom McKay, arrived at the Evans' apartment in New York City the moment Sharpay pressed the End button on her iPhone. He already knew that Sharpay had already read the article and was planning to sue though no words were yet exchanged. Tom agreed to the plan so far and said he had a press conference planned that night.
What Sharpay liked about Tom was his ruthless efficiency. If he sees talent, he signs them up and pours attention over them – taking very good care of them; nothing to excess that the press can use as ammunition. When he read the article, Tom already prepared statements and immediately called for a press conference and briefed Sharpay on what she should say. She should be calm – firm on her innocence – but not exploding in anger or swearing revenge. It worked perfectly. Sharpay did a few interviews after that and she invited Tom back to Albuquerque. He said yes.
Ryan now watched Tom as he took out his own bag and handed it to an assistant thanking him gracefully. He had wavy blond hair and bright blue eyes behind stylish rimless glasses. He wore a three-piece suit and looked very sharp. Kelsi thought Sharpay's agent looked more like a lawyer than a manager. Tom halted in front of them.
"Sharpay, are you okay? Are you all ready to go?" his smooth baritone voice conveyed deep concern not just for Sharpay but for all of them. The three nodded and proceeded to board the plane.
When everyone was strapped in, the Gulfstream started to taxi and it eventually took off. The pilot announced that it would be in Albuquerque in four hours. The seatbelt sign was turned off and everyone went about their business. Ryan and Kelsi decided to go to the bedroom to nap while Tom and Sharpay started talking about the impending case against Lizzie Van Buren.
An hour after take-off, the pilot announced that everybody should be back in their seats and strapped in. They were going to make an emergency landing. A technical difficulty occurred in the plane and the pilot would rather check it out than risk the lives of everybody.
Ryan and Kelsi reluctantly went back and Sharpay looked very irritated. Tom looked on calmly – as if this kind of thing happened every day. The plane landed and taxied to a hangar. When it came to a full stop, a crackle was heard and the pilot announced:
"Welcome to Memphis, Tennessee."
A/N: I'd like to dedicate this to my Beta, Anne Belle. You've always been so supportive of me :)