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"What do you mean, you don't want to go tonight?" twelve-year-old Ashley Burke demanded. She and her twin sister Mary-Kate were sitting by themselves in the school lunchroom.
Mary-Kate rolled up the sleeves of her bulky black sweater and unwrapped her tuna salad sandwich.
"Ashley, you know how I feel about the ballet," she said. "It"s about as exciting as watching the spin cycle on the washing machine."
Ashley rolled her eyes. She and her twin had a lot in common, with one major exception: MaryKate was mad for sports, and Ashley was crazy about ballet!
"What would Carrie say if you didn't go?" Ashley asked. She placed a napkin neatly over her lap. "You know she got the tickets for both of us."
Just then, their friends Max and Brian plunked down their trays next to Mary-Kate and Ashley.
"Did you say tickets?" Max asked.
"As in...tickets to the opening Cubs game?" Brian asked excitedly. "Man. Your baby-sitter is even cooler than I thought."
"The Cubs game? I wish." Mary-Kate sighed. "Carrie got us tickets for some lame dance company."
Ashley frowned. No one insulted the Todd Tyler Dance Company. Not even her own twin!
"The Todd Tyler Dance Company is the greatest dance company in the entire world!" Ashley declared. I saw them on TV last month and they were rolling around on the floor wrapped in gauze."
"I did that once,"' Brian said. He took a slurp of his grape soda. "When Isprained my ankle during softball practice."
Ashley shook her head. Totally hopeless. They just didn't get it. "That dance represents the pain and suffering of the modern world!" she said, jabbing the table with her finger.
"It represents a major yawn!" Mary-Kate countered.
Max tore open a small bag of chips. "Why did Carrie get you tickets to the ballet, anyway?" he asked. "I thought she liked baseball, basketball you know, fun stuff!"
"Carrie likes the ballet, too,"' Mary-Kate said. She gave Ashley a wink. "But I won't hold it against her."
"Cute," Ashley said. She turned to Max and Brian. "Actually, Carrie bought the tickets to inspire me. My ballet recital is next Saturday. We're performing scenes from Swan Lake."
"Your ballet recital?" Mary-Kate groaned. "I suppose I have to sit through that, too."
Ashley smiled as she took a bite of her sandwich. She knew Mary-Kate was just pretending to complain. Not only did she come to all of Ashley's dance recitals, but she always showed up backstage with a bouquet of yellow roses Ashley's favorite.
"Remember our deal, Mary-Kate," Ashley pointed out. "'You come to my recital Saturday night, and I'll come to your basketball game on Sunday"
"A deals a deal," Mary-Kate sighed. "But what does it have to do with the Todd Tyler Dance Company?"
"The Todd Tyler Dance Company?" Ashley heard a girl's voice squeal. "Did you say the Todd Tyler Dance Company?"'
Ashley looked up. She saw Nicole Nemeth from her history class standing over the table. Nicole was wearing a charcoal gray sweater and black jeans. Her layered blond hair was clipped back by barrettes.
"Have you ever seen them?" Ashley asked Nicole.
Nicole placed her tray on the table. She sat down on an empty seat across from the twins.
"Are you kidding?" she cried. "My dad took me to see the Todd Tyler dancers when I was just seven years old. Ever since then, I've been totally hooked. I have Todd Tyler Dance Company posters plastered all over my room."
"Wow," Ashley said. "You're a real fan!" She knew Nicole had cool taste in clothes. Now it turned out she had cool taste in dance companies, too!
"Major!" Nicole declared. "I'd give anything to go to the ballet tonight, but my little brother doesn't want to go. It's not fair. He always gets his way."
"I know how you feel," Mary-Kate joked.
"Gee, Nicole," Ashley said. "That's too bad."
"I know," Nicole groaned. "I've been dreaming about that show so much, I do plies in my sleep."
Ashley stared at Nicole. She couldn't believe there was someone who liked ballet as much as she did. She and Nicole had a lot in common!
"Hey, Nicole?" Mary-Kate said. "If you like Todd Tyler that much, do you want to go with Ashley to the show tonight?"
Nicole's mouth dropped open. Her blond hair bounced as she nodded her head. "You bet I do!"
Wait a minute, Ashley thought. How can Mary-Kate make an offer like that? Carrie doesn't have an extra ticket!
"Um, Mary-Kate?" Ashley said in a low voice. "Do the math. Carrie got us three tickets. One for her, one for you, and one for me."
"I know," Mary-Kate said. "Nicole can have my ticket."
""But what about Carrie?" Ashley asked her sister. "Wouldn't she be hurt if you gave your ticket to a stranger?"
"Nicole's not a stranger," Mary-Kate said. "She's in our history class."'
"And Carrie knows I don't like ballet," MaryKate said. "She just gave me a ticket because we're twins. Like when Grandma Burke gives us matching sweaters for our birthday. It's just another twin thing. "
Nicole leaned over the table and grinned.
"A twin thing!" she said. "That is so cool. You know, all my life I've wanted a twin sister. Someone I could do everything with."
"Not everything," Ashley said, grinning at Mary-Kate.
Mary-Kate took a slurp of her juice. "So what will it be, Nicole?" she asked. "Do you want my ticket or not?"
"I sure do!" Nicole declared. "But are you absolutely, positively sure, Mary-Kate?"
Two of a Kind #07: Two's a Crowd. Copyright © by Mary-Kate & Ash Olsen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.