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Mint Brownies for the Ballerina

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Jared loves parties. Not grown-up parties, like Mama and Daddy have sometimes, but real parties. And this is the best kind of party. It's the school district party, which means there are a lot of teachers around, which means there are some kinds of fun they can't have. But it's in the park, which means they can run around all they want. There's a giant table full of food, and Mama doesn't tell them what they can and can't eat, so he gets all the cookies and cake he wants. A lot of the other teachers have kids too, so he has people to play with other than just Jeff and Megan. That's good because Megan's still kind of a baby, and Jeff doesn't really want to play with Jared anymore.

There are lots of dogs too. Jared loves dogs, but Mama and Daddy won't let them get one. When Jared grows up, he's going to have really big dogs. But now he has to make do with other people's dogs, and lots of the other teachers have dogs.

Jared's tumbling around with one of the dogs as big as he is when the dog's owner calls for him and he comes to a stop on the grass. He flings his arms out, just happy to be in the sunshine. He tips his head back a little more, and there's a girl only a few inches behind him.

"Hi!" Jared smiles up at her because he always likes to make new friends.

The girl looks down at the ground. "Hi," she whispers.

"I'm Jared." Jared sits up and turns around. "What's your name?

"Summer." Summer digs the toe of her sneaker into the ground. "Was that your dog?"

"No. Mama and Daddy won't let us get a dog. Do you have a dog?" Jared pushes himself off the ground so he's standing too.

Summer shakes her head. "No. I have to be careful not to get hurt."

Jared frowns at her. "Are you sick?" She doesn't look sick.

"Noooo." She flicks her eyes up to him and then looks back at the ground. "I'm a ballerina." She scuffs her toe against the ground again. "I'm gonna be a prima ballerina one day," she says all in a rush.

Jared blinks at her. He doesn't really know what she's talking about. "Cool," he says, because it seems polite. She doesn't say anything, and it's kind of weird to just stand there in silence. "There are some totally rad mint brownies on the dessert table," Jared says. "Have you had any?"

Summer shakes her head. "I'm not supposed to have a lot of sugar."

Jared frowns. "Because you're a ballerina? That doesn't seem fair." He reaches out and takes Summer's hand. "I'll split one with you."

Summer looks down at their joined hands. "Okay," she says, and they go to get a brownie.

Later, after Summer's mama finds her and takes her home, Jared's mama hugs him close. "You're a good boy, sweetie," she says. He doesn't understand why she's saying it, but Mama's hugs are always nice, so he hangs onto her for a long one.

***

Jared goes to this party with Jensen. He's met a lot of the people there before, but there's this girl he keeps seeing across the room and. There's something familiar about her. At least he thinks that's what it is. He can't keep looking at her, and there isn't really anything special about her - she looks like half the people in here - so it can't be anything else. She must be an actress, so maybe he's seen her in something.

He loses track of her for a while and just enjoys the party. He's about three beers and a couple of shots down when he turns and there she is right there.

"Hey, man." Chris slaps Jared on the back. "You know Summer?"

"I don't think I've had the pleasure," Jared says. He grins down at Summer and shakes her hand. "Jared."

"Nice to meet you," she says, and she looks down at the ground.

Jared can feel his eyes widen like some cartoon character, and he uses their handshake to pull her half a step toward him. "Summer. From the party!"

She looks up at him, clearly confused. "This is a party."

"Yeah, no. The picnic." Jared realizes she still has her hand and lets go. "With the mint brownies." He beams at her.

Summer frowns at him. "In San Antonio?" she asks, her voice all hesitant.

"Yeah!" If Jared could smile any harder he totally would. "Summer and I go way back," he confides to Chris in a stage whisper. "We split a brownie when I was six."

Chris shakes his head. "Boy, the way you make friends. I need a drink." He wanders off, still shaking his head.

"You were going to be a ballerina," Jared remembers.

Summer nods. "I was, for a while."

"And now here we both are in Hollywood!"

Summer finally smiles at him. "Here we are," she agrees.