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"Is that a new sweater, Ashley?" Mary-Kate Burke asked her sister during lunch on Friday. "It's so cool!"
"Thanks," Ashley said, glancing at her coral top. "But it isn't new. I got it over a month ago."
Mary-Kate stared at the sweater. Weird, she thought. I don't remember ever seeing it before. "Oh, well," she said with a shrug. "Its still awesome."
Mary-Kate smiled as she took a bite of her tuna sandwich. Lunch always seemed to taste better when she ate with Ashley. And it was the first time she and Ashley had gotten to eat together in weeks. That's because their first year at the White Oak Academy for Girls was jam-packed. There were classes, tons of homework, clubs, and sports. And sometimes they even had dates with the guys from Harrington, the all-boys school down the road!
"How are your soccer games coming along, Mary-Kate?" Ashley asked, lifting her turkey sandwich to her mouth.
"Soccer?" Mary-Kate asked. "Soccer ended last week."
"Are you serious?" Ashley cried. "Why didn't you tell me? I didn't get a chance to see any of your games and -- "
"Okay, time out," Campbell Smith cut in. "What's up with you guys?"
Mary-Kate turned to her roommate. Campbell was sitting next to Phoebe Cahill across the table from her and Ashley. "What do you mean?" she asked.
"I mean, where have you two been?" Campbell asked. She brushed aside the bangs of her short brown hair. "I thought you two knew everything about each other."
"I do," Mary-Kate said. "I know Ashley is twelve and in the First Form like me. She has blond hair, blue eyes -- "
"Too easy," Phoebe piped in. Phoebe kneweverything about Ashley, too. She was her roommate.
"Okay." Mary-Kate began counting on her fingers. "I know that Ashley likes purple nail polish, ballet, mayonnaise on her turkey sandwiches -- "
"I switched to mustard," Ashley interrupted. "And I just ditched my purple polish."
Whoa, Mary-Kate thought. Maybe she didn't know everything there was to know about Ashley. And she was pretty sure she knew why.
"It's been so long since Ashley and I hung out together," Mary-Kate complained. "No wonder we're clueless about each other."
"Mary-Kate is right," Ashley agreed. "I've been so busy, the only person I see on a regular basis is my roommate."
"And what's wrong with that?" Phoebe asked, pretending to look hurt.
"Nothing," Ashley admitted. She turned to Mary-Kate. "It's just that I thought I'd see more of you in boarding school, Mary-Kate, not less. So I'm really starting to miss you."
Mary-Kate felt the same way. Not seeing Ashley was the pits! "I miss you, too, Ashley," she said.
"Okay, okay," Campbell said. "Now that we're all warm and fuzzy, let's get with the program. There's got to be a way for the two of you to spend more time together."
"How?" Mary-Kate asked. "I'm on the softball team and in the drama dub."
"I'm on the school paper," Ashley said, "and in the cooking club ... "
"And don't forget the Ross Lambert fan club," Phoebe said with a smile.
Ashley blushed. Ross was her boyfriend!
"How can Ashley and I do all those things," Mary-Kate said, "and still hang out together?"
The girls were silent as they thought.
Suddenly Mary-Kate had a major idea. "Hey!" she cried."What if Ashley and I became roomies? For a whole week!"
"Share a room?" Ashley gasped. "You mean like we did back home in Chicago?"
"Remember the time we pitched that tent in the middle of our room?" she asked.
"And tried to roast marshmallows with our hair dryer?" Ashley laughed.
Mary-Kate turned to Campbell and Phoebe. "You guys wouldn't mind rooming together for a week, would you?" she asked. at each other and
Campbell and Phoebe looked at each other and shrugged.
"Sounds good to me," Campbell said.
"Me, too," Phoebe said. "But do you think Miss Viola will go for the idea?"
Miss Viola was the housemother at Porter House, the girls' dorm.
"I bet she will," Mary-Kate replied. "Then it will be all systems go!"
"Speaking of going," Ashley said. She took one last bite of her sandwich and stood up. "I've got to run to the Food Management Center and whip up my secret-recipe apple cider for the Harvest Festival tomorrow."
Mary-Kate smiled. Every October White Oak and Harrington celebrated fall in a huge way. For seven days the campus would be jumping with hayrides, pumpkin carving, touch football on the lawn, and the annual apple cider contest.
"You'll win that contest for sure, Ashley," MaryKate said. "Your apple cider rules."
"Thanks to my secret recipe," Ashley said.
"Oh, yeah?" Campbell replied. "What's the secret?"
Ashley flashed a mysterious smile. "It's one super-special ingredient," she said. "But if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret recipe."
Mary-Kate watched as Ashley left the dining room. She couldn't wait to start rooming with her sister again!
"You guys, I am so psyched about this," Mary-Kate told her friends. "First thing Ashley and I are going to do is stay up for hours after lights-out -- just to catch up."
Phoebe laughed. "You wish."
"What do you mean?" Mary-Kate asked.
"Ashley doesn't stay up late anymore," Phoebe explained. "For the last few months she's been going to bed super-early. Sometimes even before lights-out."Two of a Kind #25: Closer Than Ever. Copyright � by Mary-Kate & Ash Olsen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.