Chapter 3

For as long as she could remember, Olivia had wished for a sister. Now she didn't know which was hardest to believe: the fact that she had a sister, the fact that she had a twin sister, or the fact that her twin sister was her lab partner in science.

Studying Ivy's face, she felt dumb for not real- izing right away. Underneath the dark eyeliner and Goth outfit, Ivy looked exactly like her: the angular nose, the oval chin, the arching eyebrows. And to think Olivia had been scared she wouldn't find anyone like herself at Franklin Grove!

"We need to talk," Ivy said. She even had the same smile as Olivia. "Want to walk to the Meat & Greet for a bite?"

"Sure. I'm starved!" Olivia beamed. "I just have to call my mom so she doesn't worry."

"Use my cell," Ivy said, reaching into her bag.

Olivia called home and said she'd be late because she was going out to eat with this really cool girl she'd met at school.

"That's great!" her mom replied. "I knew you'd have no trouble making new friends, Olivia. Make sure you're home by seven, and have fun!"

"What about calling your parents?" Olivia asked Ivy.

"It's always been just Dad and me," Ivy explained. "And he lets me be pretty independent."

Olivia and Ivy got their bags from their lock- ers, then headed down the hallway and out through the front doors of the school. The beginning of football season was Olivia's favorite time of year, and not just because of cheerlead- ing. It felt like summer and smelled like fall. As they made their way down the street, Olivia looked over at Ivy walking beside her. The sun made shimmering patterns on her sister's black dress.

"Don't you think it's weird," Olivia mused, "that my dad just happened to be transferred to Franklin Grove?"

"I was thinking about that, too," Ivy said, doing a hopscotch hop over a crack in the side- walk, "and I think there's only one explanation." She stopped and turned to Olivia. "I think we were meant to find each other."

Olivia's heart did a roundoff, and her eyes filled with tears. She gave Ivy a huge hug. She couldn't help it.

Ivy didn't move. Oh, no, Olivia thought. She was coming on too strong again. Or Ivy didn't want a sister. Or Ivy didn't want her as a sister.

But then Ivy hugged her back.

They both started sobbing right there in the middle of the sidewalk. If somebody had walked by, that person would have wondered what was wrong. But nothing was wrong. Everything was right.They were just thirteen-year-old twin sisters hugging for the first time.

Finally, Olivia let go and reached into her bag for some tissues. She blew her nose loudly. "Sorry if I snotted on your shoulder," she said.

Ivy smiled tearily. "Don't be sorry," she said, wiping black mascara tearstains from her cheeks. "I think I might have ruined your dress."

Olivia peered down at the smear of black on her bright pink sleeve. She couldn't help laugh- ing. "You Goths really don't like pink, do you?"

Ivy chuckled as they walked on again. "I hope you like Franklin Grove," she said to Olivia. "The bunny population here isn't too bad."

Olivia laughed. "Yeah, I saw that T-shirt your friend was wearing. So what's it all about? Is this place infested with wild bunnies? I once read that when rabbits were introduced into Australia they, like, ruined the whole country."

"Very funny," Ivy said.

"No, really. I mean, their whole ecosystem was destroyed. The rabbits ate all the crops."

Ivy shook her head. "No, not those bunnies, the--" Suddenly Ivy went quiet.

Olivia glanced at her. She had a weird look in her eyes. "What's up?" Olivia asked.

"Huh?" her sister said distractedly. "Nothing. I was just . . . I was . . . thinking again about how strange it is . . ." She was talking really slowly. Then, all at once, she seemed to come back to life. "That we're sisters."

"No kidding!" Olivia agreed. "Why do you think we weren't adopted as a pair? I mean, don't they usually try to keep twins together?"

Ivy played with the ring around her neck. "I don't know," she said thoughtfully. "Do you have any other brothers or sisters?"

"No. Do you?" Olivia asked.

"No. Maybe both our parents could only adopt one kid. Or maybe our real parents wanted us apart." Ivy shrugged. "We don't know a thing about them."

Olivia nodded and followed Ivy toward the neon sign of the Meat & Greet Diner up ahead. "All I know is," Olivia said, "when I think that we could have been together for the last thirteen years, it makes me want to scream. I totally could've used a twin sister in second grade."

"Yeah," said Ivy as they crossed the parking lot. "Second grade did bite."

The restaurant was packed with other students from Franklin Grove Middle School. The place was decorated like a meat locker, with hooks hanging from the ceiling. But instead of slabs of meat, they held cool things like pi�atas and disco balls. Olivia followed Ivy to an empty booth hid- den in an alcove near the back of the restaurant.

A waitress decked out in a butcher's apron appeared. "The usual?" she asked Ivy.

"Definitely," Ivy replied. "What about you, Olivia?"

The waitress looked over expectantly.

"What are you having?" Olivia asked Ivy.

Ivy put her finger on Olivia's open menu. "The Sink Your Teeth into This. It's an almost raw burger. It's utterly dripping," she said happily.

Gross, thought Olivia. She wrinkled her nose and turned back to the waitress. "I'll have the Bunny's Delight please." What is it about bunnies in this town? she wondered.

"You want salsa on your tofu burger?" the waitress asked.

"Yes, please," Olivia replied. "Oh, and salad dressing on the side."

She hoped the sight of Ivy's raw burger didn't make her nauseous. They might be twins, but they certainly didn't have the same tastes.

"Considering we're identical twins," Ivy said, "we've turned out seriously different."

"Oh, my gosh, I was just thinking that!" Olivia said. She cocked her head. "It must be a real trip for you to see what you'd look like in pastels, huh?"

They both laughed so loudly that the people in a nearby booth looked around to see what was so funny.

This time, Olivia thought blissfully, I definitely sat at the right table!

Ivy's stomach was still fluttering, and it wasn't because she'd laughed too hard or wolfed down her burger. It was because she had a twin sister.

When she really thought about it, she realized that she'd always known.That was the feeling that had come over her the first time she saw Olivia in the hallway this morning. It wasn't just the strange sensation of seeing someone who looks like you; it was the rush of seeing someone you'd waited your whole life to see again.

Except for one grave thing: How come Olivia didn't know what a bunny was? They were iden- tical twins, right? So shouldn't they be identical ?

If she doesn't know, thought Ivy, I can't tell her.

"Hello, Olivia," said a familiar high-pitched voice.

Ivy looked up. Oh, yippee, she thought sarcasti- cally. Charlotte Brown.

"Hi, Charlotte," Olivia said.

"I'm sitting over there with Katie and Allison," Charlotte announced.

Olivia smiled blandly. "Say hi for me."

Charlotte turned her back to Ivy and bent down, like she was going to tell Olivia a secret. "I think you should know, Olivia," she said loud enough for Ivy to hear, "the Devils cheerleaders are like a really close group of highly elite girls. And hanging out with certain people"--she made quotation marks with her pink nails--"won't really help you become part of the club at all."

Ivy rolled her eyes and took a sip of her lemon- ade. What a jerk! she thought.

"Actually, Charlotte," Olivia replied in her own confiding tone, "I'm not sure if you know, but Ivy here is a huge fan of cheerleading. In fact, we were just talking about how good she looks in pastels!"

Ivy snorted, and her drink almost came out of her nose.

"Puh-lease," hooted Charlotte. "I don't think Ivy Vega could ever wear anything but black rags." She turned around to look down at Ivy. "Sorry," she said airily, "but you'll never be anything but a drab Goth loser."

"You shouldn't judge people by appearances," Ivy said icily.

"Oh, really? Then how come Jeff Moore, the coolest, hottest, cutest guy at school, has asked me to sit with him at lunch tomorrow?" Charlotte demanded.

"Because he wants to throw up?" Ivy suggested.

Charlotte grimaced and turned back to face Olivia, who hid her smile just in time. "The rea- son I came over here, Olivia," she said pointedly, "was to invite you to join us at lunch tomorrow. Katie and Allison are going to be there. I suggest you be there, too." She shot a grave look at Ivy.

"Alone." And, with that, Charlotte stomped back across the diner.

Ivy was so mad she felt like screaming. "If I wanted, I could be just as big a fashion victim as Charlotte Brown!" she fumed.

Olivia waved to the waitress and ordered a huge piece of chocolate cake with two forks. She leaned forward conspiratorially. "Sure. You'd make a great fashion victim, Ivy," she agreed. A smile crept across her face. "I should know."

"How come you look like a cat who just swal- lowed a bat?" Ivy asked suspiciously.

"Because I have an idea . . ." Her sister looked around to make sure no one was listening. "Since no one else knows about us, I think you should pretend to be me at lunch tomorrow," Olivia said with grin.

"What?" Ivy demanded.

"Think about it, Ivy. How funny would it be if Charlotte went through a whole meal surrounded by all her best friends--including her new BF, me? Except that me will be you!"

It's a killer idea, Ivy thought excitedly, but it'll never work. "There's no way we could pull it off," she said, shaking her head. "I mean, we're twins, but we're not--"

"Identical?" Olivia interrupted.

"Okay.We're identical," Ivy conceded. "But we have very, very different . . . looks."

"Nothing that a little spray-on tan won't fix," Olivia countered.

"You're serious," Ivy said incredulously.

"Dead serious," Olivia replied.

That's exactly what I would have said, Ivy thought.

"My Kinski denim skirt would look so hot on you!" Olivia said eagerly.

Ivy tried not to smile, since she was still play- ing devil's advocate. "Okay, but what about the perky factor?" she asked. "It's not like I can smile and eat cafeteria Jell-O at the same time like you can. My cover would be blown in seconds."

"Don't worry." Olivia reached over and put her hand on top of Ivy's. "I'll coach you. Besides, what better way is there for twin sisters to get to know each other than to be each other?"

Olivia's emerald ring sparkled at Ivy.

That decides it, Ivy thought. She leaned forward and said, "This is going to suck!"

Olivia's face fell. "You mean you won't do it?"

"No." Ivy shook her head. " `Suck' is good! `Suck' is really good!"

"Oh," Olivia said. "Weird. So you'll do it?"

"I'll do it." Ivy grinned.

"In that case, I'd like to propose a toast." Olivia held up her glass. "To Ivy Vega, my twin sister."

Ivy raised her lemonade. "To Olivia Abbott, my twin sister."

They clinked their glasses. And then, at exactly the same moment, Ivy and her sister both laughed. "You suck!" they chorused.

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