Chapter One

I gazed out the plane, looking at the green of the grass underneath the plane (well, miles underneath) and sighed. I was coming back home from a summer vacation from glorious California, and I was a little reluctant to return.

My sister, Kitten was asleep in the seat next to me and she was snoring rather loudly, the sound uncomfortably close to my ear. The power of my parents was enough to force me next to Kitten for an entire plane trip, so they could not be bothered by her incessant chattering. Or at this moment, snoring.

Speaking of the devil, Dad turns around in his seat and smiles at me in my state of annoyance.

"Come on, Florence we're nearly home" He laughed and I rolled my eyes and stretched my legs, feeling the discomfort of numb limbs. Nearly wasn't close enough for my likings right at this moment.

Luckily for me (and my legs), after about half an hour, the captain's voice sounded over the loud speaker, telling us we were nearly at Cabot airport. About time, too.

I poked Kitten and she stirs slightly, and her heavily lidded eyes opened half-heartedly. She muttered something that sounded slightly inappropriate for a 10 year old. Sitting up now and rubbing her eyes, she fixes a glare at me that would make Frosty the Snowman melt.

"Did you have to wake me up?" she snaps at me

"Oooh, touchy-touchy" I grinned at her and slapped my bare arm. I had to laugh at the feeble hit.

"Two words, Kit-Kat. Epic. Fail" Kitten rolled her eyes.

"Flor, for a 16 year old, you are very immature" She shook her head disapprovingly.

"Liar, liar pants on fire" I sang just to annoy her. She slapped her forehead in disgrace. Yes, me Florence Harrison, most embarrassing big sister ever.

The plane begin its slow decent to the runway. I made sure our seatbelts were on correctly, and was as tight as they could be. I got the fluttery feeling in my stomach that happens when going down a particularly large hill. The buildings, once ant-sized, now grew around us as we landed on the tarmac with a solid thud and taxied along the runway. Almost at once, everyone on the plane began stirring, gathering bags, tickets and small children.

"Please exit the plane in an orderly fashion. Thank-you for flying with Rose Airlines" a blonde, smiling airhostess guided people out of the plane, still smiling when she was almost knocked over by a pushy mother and her snot-nosed kid.

We waited for what felt like three-quarters of the plane's passengers to get out before we finally made it ourselves. We walked down the long stairs and I blinked at the bright light. I quickly slid on my sunglasses and sighed in relief that my eyes would not be fried.

We passed through security, collected our bags from the carousel and joined the line-up for a taxi. My parents had thought it would be too inconvenient to call someone to pick us up, and therefore decided to take a taxi.

It took a good forty-five minutes before a taxi became available. It turned out a lot of people had just returned from vacations, to make it in time for the new school year. I watched annoyed teenagers, tired workers, screaming children and the reunions between families, couples and friends. It took a long time for the taxi driver to understand where we wished to go, but finally we left the airport and headed for home. I couldn't wait to be home, and I soon began to think longingly of my room, and my cat and taking a shower-

Except the place we pulled in front of couldn't be our home. Sure, it was at our house number, in our street, but it couldn't be ours.

Our house was surrounded by a large security fence, and was covered by a giant white tarp. Several neighbours surrounded the house and a couple of guys in some sort of work suit, like a white beekeepers outfit was trying to prevent them from coming any closer.

"Mr and Mrs Harrison?" a middle aged guy in a white suit appeared next to my parents. They nodded and the guy introduced himself as Stephen Wheaten.

"What's happened to our house?" Mum gasped.

"Well, when someone came to feed your animals-" Stephen said, but noticing our large eyes "Your pets are perfectly fine, I assure you.

"Their foot fell through the wood and they realized that termites had eaten away at the floorboards. You can't walk upstairs or downstairs without falling through the floorboards. You can get someone to redo the wooden parts of the house and get my team to get rid of the pests but it will take some time to do" Stephen explained and my heart sank. Mum and Dad looked crestfallen

"How long?" Mum said, her voice anxious

"The removal and rebuilding process should take about four or five months" my heart sunk even further. Where on earth could we live for five months? None of my friend's parents would let me stay there and my family either live in small apartments, or are scattered around America. Stephen is called by one of the workmen, and walks away to talk, leaving us alone to decide what to do.

"Mum! Where are we going to live?" Kitten exclaims and then starts sobbing loudly. Dad wraps his arms around her and comforts her.

"We'll be OK, sweetie" he says softly and rocks her back and forth like he used to when we were small.

"I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but to overhear that you need somewhere to stay and I would like to say that we have room for two at our house" A voice says from behind me and we turn around. Our neighbour from a couple houses down, Mrs Heffley is standing there, smiling kindly with her husband, their 4 year old, Manny, their 12 year old, Greg and Rodrick, who is in the grade above me at school.

"Oh! Are you sure Mrs Heffley? We wouldn't want to be a pain. Maybe you girls could stay with the Heffleys?" Mum says, hopefully

"Just call me Susan, dear. We would be delighted to have then, wouldn't we boys?" Mrs Heffley replies and her sons and husbands grunt assent

"Are you girls OK with that?" Dad questions

"If we can bring Caligula and Sheldon,that sounds fine" Caligula is my cat, and Sheldon is Kitten's turtle. After briefly explaining the whole 'Caligula-is-a-cat-not-a-evil-Roman-emperor-and Sheldon-is-a-turtle-not-a-guy-from-a-sitcom' to the Heffley family, Mrs Heffley nods in agreement, as long as we can look after the pets ourselves. I notice Rodrick almost smiling, but as he meets his brown eyes with mine, he stops.

Kitten and I gather together what scarce belongings we have, and are thankfully handed out pets, as well as their food and equipment. Saying hello to Caligula, who meows back in assent, I struggle to pick up his carrycase, his bed, his food, along with an assortment of toys. Mrs Heffley notices and makes Rodrick take the cat bed and the food.

It was a little bit embarrassing, to be honest. Not that I was complaining about not having my arms fall off. When we finally arrive at the Heffley's, my arms are very sore, but Rodrick doesn't even look phased. He's probably used to using his arms, since he's a drummer, in the worst band I've ever heard. I flop down in a chair, exhausted, while Mrs Heffley turns to Kitten and I.

"OK, so we thought Kitten, you can go upstairs to the guest room and Florence you could sleep in the basement-"Mrs Heffley starts but Rodrick interrupts

"No way is she sleeping down there! That's where MY room is!" He yells and she stops smiling and frowns at him instead.

"Rodrick, there is plenty of room down there. You probably won't even notice Florence is there" She points out

"It's my personal space!" he retorts, looking very pissed off

"Rodrick! Florence has nowhere else to stay, so mind your manners, young man" Mrs Heffley snaps. To be honest, she's starting to scare me a little bit.

Rodrick rolls his eyes. "Can't she stay somewhere else?" he growls and glares at me. Anger rolls in my stomach and my face burns. As if it's my fault my house got attacked by termites

"Still here, in case you haven't noticed!" I exclaim, glaring right back at Rodrick. It's silent for a couple of moments, until he moans and looks away

"Fine! She can sleep in the basement! But you better not touch my stuff" Rodrick throws his hands in the air, like all the bad stuff has happened to him, not me. He walks away, and that's how I know this is going to be an interesting few months.