The coco pinchard boxset.., p.17
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.17

           Robert Bryndza

  We didn’t end up coming to bed until three. I can’t sleep. I have tried counting doilies. I reached one hundred and three, and was still wide-awake. So I am emailing you from the only place I can get a signal, the outside toilet. From my vantage point, I have the most stunning view across the mountains. The field of sunflowers is slowly swaying in the moonlight, which is both beautiful, and a bit scary.

  I so wish you were here with us, Chris.

  Tuesday 16th June 14.01

  TO: [email protected]

  I woke up an hour ago drenched in sweat. The room was stifling. Marika poked her head around the door and saw my red face.

  “Morning,” she said, and then her head disappeared.

  Minutes later she returned with Adrianna and Stevko, grinning. They yanked back the covers, lifted me up, and carried me out to the pool.

  I screamed but they swung me three times over the water and let go. I landed with a huge splash. It is a family tradition to throw people in the pool when it’s their birthday. Good job my birthday is in the summer.

  “It’s like a baptism,” said Marika over the cheering, “you’re a single woman!”

  When I got out, I went and looked in the mirror. I didn’t look very different. My hair was plastered to my head, I looked thinner, and was a little tanned. I grinned at myself and went to open my presents.

  They gave me a copy of Zobor’s latest CD. In their album sleeve photos, the band wears an awful lot of black leather and blacker eyeliner. They are going to boil if they wear this get up tonight, it’s forty-two degrees here.

  Rosencrantz got me an iPod Nano. Meryl and Tony gave me a £5 Debenhams gift voucher, which was from the two of them, plus Ethel and Daniel. I think Meryl had put his name in to soften the blow if Daniel didn’t send anything. And he didn’t.

  I am on my second glass of Slovak wine (excellent) and lying by the pool. Bliss. They are going shopping. I am staying here to work on my tan.

  Tuesday 16th June 17.30

  TO: [email protected]

  Thank you for the iPod Nano, but can you afford it, love? Are you at work now? I couldn’t answer before because I fell asleep in the sun. I am now bright red and look every inch the Brit abroad.

  I am lying indoors, slathered in natural yoghurt, which apparently should ease the pain. Speak to you later.

  A very red Mum x

  Wednesday 17th June 05.30

  TO: [email protected]

  Wow. I have had the most wonderful night. Adrianna lent me a gorgeous long, floaty dress which covered my red sunburn.

  Marika and I were laying out the plates before the party when she commented on how great I looked.

  “We needed you to look your best for tonight,” she said.

  I asked her why. Marika stopped and smiled.

  “Look, I know you don’t like to be set up,” she said.

  “Set up?”

  “You see, already you’ve gone shrill.”

  “You mean, set up with a man?”

  Marika grinned again.

  “Who? Who else is coming tonight? Who are you setting me up with?” I said, following her into the kitchen.

  Marika picked up the Zobor CD and waved it under my nose.

  “The whole band?” I said. “Your sister’s been hospitable, but she doesn’t have to be that hospitable.”

  We heard the gate creak as the band arrived. They skipped in, all young and trendy, carrying boxes of beer.

  “He’s nice, isn’t he?” said Marika pointing at the youngest, who I recognised as Marek, the guitarist from the album sleeve.

  “You’re winding me up,” I said.

  “No. He loves older women,” said Marika. “He was dating the Slovakian equivalent of Cilla Black.”

  “Cilla Black,” I said, “is sixty!”

  “Sorry,” said Marika. “Bad translation, this woman is a lot younger than Cilla.”

  They were all making a beeline towards us and I began to panic. Marek looked only a few years older than Rosencrantz.

  “It won’t happen,” I said.

  “Go on.” She pushed me forward. I grabbed a shot of Slivovica and smiled.

  The band was a hunky bunch: Patrick the drummer, Julius the lead singer, Jozef the bassist and Marek a dreamy, dark young slip of a lad. We spent a long time in a big group, talking. Their English was very good. Then we ate great sizzling hunks of barbequed chicken and pork, sweetcorn and salad washed down with even more beer and Slivovica. Every time I looked at Marek, he would grin at me, showing his cute dimples. The more drunk I became, the less scared I felt about what I could see was happening.

  When it got dark, Marek took me by the hand and led me out of the driveway into the fields for a walk. We paddled through the cool stream, which led to a moonlit field. He stopped and turned to me. I went to say something but he put his soft lips on mine. He was very attentive, attentive to the point that the alcohol and his gorgeous body led me, Coco Pinchard, after only one day of singledom, into having rather wild and wonderful sex in the moonlight by the stream! His skin was just so ripe and firm. He had one of those lean hot bodies, creamy smooth skin, and beautiful caramel eyes.

  His English wasn’t as good as his bandmates. He kept saying, “You like the naughty, bad lady?” but he was so sexy that it didn’t matter.

  I figured that I wasn’t just another slutty groupie as I have never listened to their CD!

  I don’t know what time it was when we walked back. He invited me to the house the band was staying in, but I said no. I didn’t want to wake up sober with him in the daylight so we kissed one last time by the gate, and I came back.

  I am now just in bed. I had to write this down to prove it wasn’t all a dream. I feel like a beautiful, floaty goddess!

  Thursday 18th June 07.37

  TO: [email protected]

  Ow, ow, ow. Sunburn. Grass burn. Torn dress. Mud in hair. Hung-over. Feel like a slut.

  Thursday 18th June 14.13

  TO: [email protected]

  Marika had a huge row with Blazena this morning when she walked in to Marika’s room, and found Patrick the drummer asleep beside her. Blazena is a staunch Catholic, and we all woke up to her roar of disapproval. Myself, Adrianna and Stevko came out into the kitchen rubbing our eyes as Marika was stood in a long t-shirt with Patrick scooting out of the front door in just his leather trousers.

  Adrianna translated as Blazena accused Marika of behaving like a “whore of Babylon” and ordered her to get married and have children. She said that Marika’s bedroom was like Sodom and Gomorrah and slapped her round the face. Marika retaliated and threw a pan of (thankfully cold) goulash over Blazena, and most of the kitchen.

  With a shout that could have wakened a sleeping bear, Blazena grabbed a rolling pin, chased Marika round the table and out of the front door. They reappeared through the window, Marika running across the field with Blazena in hot pursuit.

  “Do you want coffee?” asked Adrianna, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

  I asked if Marika would be okay.

  “Hopefully, but even though Mum is the size of an elephant, she can run just as fast as one.”

  They came back a couple of hours later, laughing, and dripping wet. They had been swimming in the nearby lake.

  I asked Marika how she had sorted it out.

  “I promised her I would go to confession,” she grinned. “The ultimate get-out clause for Catholics.”

  Part of me felt sorry for Marika, getting all this grief, but it had looked kind of fun being able to have it out. I remember dealings with my own mother were a minefield of sly digs and passive aggressive behaviour, whilst always pretending everything was wonderful.

  I am packing. We are going to have a look round the shops in Bratislava before our flight.

  Looking forward to seeing you.

  Friday 19th June 12.33

  TO: [email protected]

hank you for an amazing time. London feels so cold, grey and uptight compared to Slovakia. I came home to find my decree absolute. I am officially a “Miss”, the house is in my name, and I have money in the bank. It is a real sense of anticlimax.

  Saturday 20th June 08.31

  TO: [email protected]

  Meryl just phoned, and I was telling her about your grandmother’s 97th party, and, how you did all the decorating. She wants you to help her pick out all the furniture for Ethel’s new flat. I am sorry. I tried to come up with an excuse that I had lost your phone number, but she is looking you up in the phone book, so expect a call.

  Sunday 21st June 18.55

  TO: [email protected]

  I’m sorry, I won’t make it for dinner, but if you still want to come over Rosencrantz has made curry and he would love to see you. Chris and myself were roped into a trip to IKEA in Croydon to buy furniture for Ethel’s new flat.

  I never want to go IKEA again, well, not with Meryl and Ethel. They couldn’t agree on anything. Ethel doesn’t like “modern poncy stuff”. Which begged the question why we were in IKEA?

  The only redeeming feature of the day was that we bumped into Adam in the bathroom department.

  “Looks like you’ve been busy,” he said, indicating our trolleys piled high. I had almost forgotten about him since Slovakia. Meryl stepped forward.

  “Hello, I’m Meryl Watson, I’m Coco’s ex-sister-in-law. This is my mother, Ethel.”

  “Yes, hello. We have met,” said Ethel, going posh again.

  “This is Christopher Cheshire, he is helping us with our interior design options,” said Meryl, adding, “his father has a knighthood, you know.”

  “Hi,” said Chris, going red.

  I gave Meryl a look, and she trilled, “Come along, toilet plungers!” and shepherded them all away.

  “Sorry about that,” I said.

  He asked how Slovakia was. I said it was great. We nodded at each other.

  “Look,” I said. “About your phone call, about the gay stuff.”

  “Ahh,” he said, holding up his hands to his face, embarrassed. He looked so cute and, for a brief moment, I almost knew what he was thinking.

  “I’m just divorced,” I said. “You’re a lovely, handsome man with good dress sense, my maths was wrong. I’m sorry.”

  “Thank you. The invite to see a musical may have given you the gay idea.” He explained that his friend works for a box office company dealing with West End shows.

  “So you’re not a West End Wendy?”

  “No,” he said. “Well, saying that, I do have two tickets to go and see the Thriller musical on Friday. It’s a bit more butch.”

  “Okay,” I said.

  He gave me his email address.

  “You’d better get back to your group, they’re dying to know what’s happened.”

  I could just see Ethel’s head poking up above a display of toilet seats.

  “Happy shopping,” he said.

  “Oh, it’s not,” I grinned.

  When I joined the others, they were all smiling.

  “What a dish,” said Meryl.

  I told them I was going on a date.

  “She dun’t waste no time,” said Ethel. “Out on the tiles within a week of divorcing.”

  “And the rest,” said Chris, grinning.

  Adam turned and waved goodbye. God, he is gorgeous.

  “He looks just as good from the back,” said Meryl, surprising us.

  We are waiting in an endless queue with our seven trollies. We have a bed, two sofas, two easy chairs, a dining table with four chairs, two pouffes, three sets of shelves, three plants (yucca, palm and cactus), covers for chairs, sofas and pouffes, two wardrobes, one bed, two sets of drawers, a bedside table, four plates, four cups, cutlery for four, utensils, a draining board, tea towels, towels, bedding, coat hangers, a fruit bowl, a shower curtain, a bathmat, loo roll, toilet plunger and a loo brush.

  Poor Chris. Meryl ignored every one of his style suggestions and all he got for lunch was a 39p hot dog.

  Monday 22nd June 09.14

  TO: [email protected]

  I am composing an email to Adam. This is what I have:

  Dear Adam,

  Lovely to see you in IKEA. You gave me a nice surprise in the toilet department.

  Here is my address, for the date we talked about;

  Three Steeplejack Mews, Marylebone, London NW1 4RF

  Looking forward to it.

  Coco P. xxx

  Monday 22nd June 10.03

  TO: [email protected]

  Yes, you’re right. The toilet line is open for misinterpretation and the kisses are too familiar.

  Monday 22nd June 10.14

  TO: [email protected]

  Hi Adam,

  It was lovely to run into you in IKEA.

  My son says Thriller: Live! is a great show, lots of dancing, pyrotechnic bombs going off, etc. I can’t wait!

  My address is:

  Three Steeplejack Mews, Marylebone, London NW1 4RF

  Coco P.

  PS I just noticed that your email address is a government one… Are you a secret agent? ;-)

  Wednesday 24th June 10.33

  TO: [email protected]

  Nothing from Adam!

  Thursday 25th June 09.00

  TO: [email protected]

  Still nothing. Couldn’t sleep so was up at five. Have been checking my phone constantly. Rosencrantz was up at six, waiting for the post. He has been up early for the last few mornings. It arrived as he was leaving for classes; he grabbed it off the doormat and rifled through it before chucking it down. He won’t tell me what he is looking for.

  Thursday 25th June 22.00

  TO: [email protected]

  Should I phone Adam? I have been constantly checking my email. Maybe he thought he didn’t have to reply. However, I asked him a question at the end, “Are you a secret agent?” What if he really is a secret agent?

  I know he can’t tell me if he is, but he could at least tell me that he can’t tell me, don’t you think? Moreover, if he can’t even say that he can’t say he is not a secret agent, he could at least confirm our date.

  Thursday 25th June 22.34

  TO: [email protected]

  Sorry, I will shut up and go to bed.

  C x

  Friday 26th June 09.10

  TO: [email protected]

  I came downstairs this morning to see a pale and wan Rosencrantz, still wearing his uniform from the bar, sat on the sofa watching the BBC News Channel.

  “Michael Jackson died last night,” he said.

  By the look of the newsreader, she had been up as long as Rosencrantz. As dreadful as the news was, my first thought was that my date tonight is at the Michael Jackson musical. What if they cancel it?

  As the screen counted down to the eight o’clock headlines, Rosencrantz turned with tears in his eyes and said, “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

  Now call me a heartless cow, but the histrionics seemed out of proportion. I can’t remember him ever listening to a Michael Jackson song.

  “How about some breakfast? Maybe a Pop-Tart?”

  “No!” snapped Rosencrantz, as if Pop-Tarts were the most inappropriate food for the occasion.

  “Have they said anything about his concerts at the O2? Or Thriller: Live?”

  “No,” he said, “and I can’t believe that all you can think about is your date.”

  I was about to protest when the phone went. It was Meryl. She too sounded upset saying, “Oh Coco, it’s all too much.”

  “So you’ve heard?” I said.

  “Heard what?”

  “Michael Jackson. Dead.”

  “No,” she said. “It’s not that. I’m still at Mum’s, trying to put her IKEA furniture together, it’s driven me out of my mind. Have you got a quarter-inch Allen key I could borrow?”

; I said I didn’t and she rung off.

  Whilst I was on the phone, Rosencrantz had gulped down a whole pot of coffee and was leaving the house with bloodshot eyes and a silver left hand. He had hacked the end off one of my long silver evening gloves. Not that I can see myself ever wearing them again, unless I am transported back to the eighties, but he could have asked.

  Could Adam be grief-stricken like Rosencrantz? Will he still want to go on a date? You can’t tell with people these days. I remember Ethel’s histrionics when Diana died, and she is a Republican.

  Would it seem insensitive to phone and check if the musical is on? If not, is your friend still in The Lion King? Could he wangle some back-up tickets?

  Friday 26th June 09.33

  TO: [email protected]

  Are you okay? Your reaction to the death of Michael Jackson seems to be out of proportion to how it really affects your life. Is this because I am going on a date? Or are you working too much? You haven’t been yourself for ages. Please, let’s have a chat later.

  Mum x

  Saturday 27th June 11.36

  TO: [email protected]

  Are you still asleep? You’re not answering your phone. Marika is here and has heard all the gossip.

  Adam phoned after lunch on Friday. He is not a secret agent; he works in health and safety for the civil service. He only received my email on Friday morning. The civil service’s anti-terrorist screening software had intercepted it, because I had written the word “bomb” to describe the special effects in Thriller: Live!

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