"We're here," Mom said as she stretched her neck from side to side. It had been a long drive for both of us.
I got out of the car and stared at the huge Victorian house my grandmothers call home. It's three stories and has a little room perched on top. The paint was peeling and the yard was overgrown with weeds. All the other houses on the block had pretty flowers and mown lawns.
"This place looks haunted," I said, kicking at a dandelion growing through the cracked sidewalk. "And it's not even dark."
"It does not," Mom said. "How many times have I told you, Jessica, to not judge a book by its cover. The yard just needs a little work. I wonder what happened to the gardener?" She began pulling suitcases from the trunk. "Tomorrow you can prove how grown-up you are and mow. Here," she said and handed me a green suitcase. "You can start being helpful by unloading the car."
"This is supposed to be my vacation," I reminded her. I grabbed the bag and almost dropped it. I'd forgotten that I'd packed my digital camera, printer, photo paper and scrapbook supplies.
"A little work won't hurt you, so stop complaining. You'll have plenty of free time."
I half smiled. At least this was an Olympic year and I could watch the swimming events. "Do you think they have the sports channel?"
"No," Mom said as she lifted another suitcase and set it on the sidewalk. With all the luggage lined up along the walk, it looked like we were staying for a year.
"It's been a long time since you were here. You've forgotten that Gram and Grandma Charlotte are a little old-fashioned. They don't have cable television. In fact- "
"We can pay for cable," I interrupted. "You can take it out of my allowance."
Mom shook her head.
"They don't own a television." Mom closed the trunk with a gentle slam.
"What!" I glared at her. "They don't have TV? What am I supposed to do? You've dragged me up here where I don't know anyone, expect me to work, and there's not even a TV. This is going to be the worst summer ever! Can't I go home?"
"Stop complaining and think of someone other than yourself for a change. You'll survive."
I rolled my gray-blue eyes. "Easy for you to say. You're entire summer hasn't been ruined," I muttered under my breath.
I ran my fingers through my tangled dark red curls. I had my car window rolled down for most of our trip north and I could just imagine what I looked like, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to see any of my friends for two long months.
Mom climbed the slightly crooked steps to the front porch. I followed and dragged two bags over the rough concrete.
So what if I scratched them.
"Jessica, just take one bag at a time and carry it."
I made a face. Why couldn't I have stayed home with my dad? At almost thirteen, I could take care of myself while he was at work.
Besides, I was supposed to meet Todd at the skating rink on Friday night. Most of the boys in my class are shorter than me except for Todd. He's really cool. Mom didn't even give me a chance to call him and tell him I wouldn't be there. I would have called him on my cell, but Mom had confiscated it.
Kelsey and I probably wouldn't even be able to talk on Gram’s landline, because it's long distance. That meant Todd wouldn't call me either. If I stayed gone too long, he'd find someone else to skate with.
He's not my boyfriend, but he might be. Could be, if we got to spend time together. Kelsey said she just knew Todd wanted to ask me to go out and she should know. She's had three boyfriends and has experience. I've never had a real boyfriend and I wasn't going to if I had to spend all summer up north.
It just wasn't fair!
Be sure and come back next week to find out what happens in