The coco pinchard boxset.., p.37
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.37

           Robert Bryndza
 

  Adam pulled us past Cranbourn Street, which leads to the Leicester Square McDonald’s, and on towards Cambridge Circus.

  “McDonald’s is this way,” I said.

  “I have a surprise for you,” he said.

  We kept walking until we reached The Ivy. Adam said hello to the doorman as if he knew him, and ushered us into the luxury of the restaurant.

  “When did you organise this?” I asked, shocked.

  “I got Angie to phone up and bully a table,” he said. “It is Valentine’s Day.”

  As we were led to our table, I noticed most of the women, and a good few men, were undressing Adam with their eyes. I suddenly saw how damn hot he looked in his suit, the thin crisp fabric clinging to him in all the right places. He pulled out a chair for me and we sat.

  It was a stunning meal, and, for the first time in ages, it felt like we were an exciting young couple again, not bowed down with stress. After dessert, a bottle of champagne appeared in an ice bucket.

  “Oh, I think you’ve got the wrong table,” I said, seeing it was Krug.

  “No, madam,” said the waiter softly.

  He wrapped the neck of the bottle in a snow-white napkin and squeezed out the cork with an elegant pop. He filled our glasses then melted away. I was looking at Adam in protest, but he was fumbling in his jacket pockets. Then he pushed back his chair and crouched on the floor.

  “Did you drop your wallet?” I said, pushing back my chair and squatting down on the floor with him.

  He looked at me, now at eye-level with him. Then I noticed he was on one knee… and he was holding out a little velvet box… and nestling on a little cushion inside was a ring! For a moment I stupidly still didn’t get it, and then it fell into place with a whump.

  “You’re not supposed to be down here with me,” he whispered.

  I noticed the restaurant had gone quiet and everyone was looking to see which of the squatting pair of us was going to pop the question. I quickly rose and sat in my chair. He took a deep breath as I tried to arrange how to sit and what to do with my face. There was something so deeply moving about him looking up at me with his whiskey-coloured eyes, his long tall frame kneeling submissively on that fine carpet.

  “Coco, I know I don’t have much to offer you right now. In fact, I have nothing but my love for you. But my love is strong and fierce and tender, and I will protect you for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?” he said quietly.

  I quickly did a rewind and fast forward in my head. He is wonderful, funny, and very hot. His speech made me melt and most importantly, I do love him. The answer, it seemed, was ‘yes’.

  “Yes,” I said. “Yes, I will marry you.”

  He took the ring from the box and slipped it on my finger. It was a simple white gold band and it fitted perfectly. He leaned forward and he kissed me. We both had tears in our eyes and the people in the restaurant actually applauded us.

  We stayed until late, drinking our champagne, a little in shock and awe. I kept looking at the ring and feeling this warm buzz of excitement in my stomach. We were almost the last people to leave the restaurant and when we stepped out into the dark street it was almost one in the morning.

  “We’ve missed the last train back,” I said. “What should we do?”

  “How about, for old times’ sake, we get creative?” he said, flashing his devilish grin.

  So, at half one in the morning, we crept up to my allotment patch in Marylebone. We haven’t been there since the autumn. By the glowing light of my iPhone we looked round furtively then climbed over the gate. The ground sparkled in the moonlight as we crept alongside rows of frozen dug-over soil. I nearly had a heart attack when I stood in a puddle, now brittle with ice, which gave a loud hollow crunching sound.

  “Jeez!” I said, catching my breath up against a neighbour’s shed.

  “Relax, there’s no one here,” smiled Adam.

  He came close, pressing the length of his warm body against me. He took my head in his hands and kissed me. I felt his taut muscles against my chest, his powerful legs, and a rapidly growing hardness.

  “Come on,” I said, dragging him up towards my shed. “You need to warm me up!”

  My hands were so cold when we got to the door I had trouble getting the key in the lock, but it finally twisted open and the door yielded. We burst inside. Adam pulled me in for a warm deep kiss, which made my knees buckle a little. I untucked his shirt and put my hands up on the small of his back. He gave a sharp intake of breath and I undid his trousers, sliding my hand over the curve of his hot rump. We pulled out all the spare blankets and collapsed in a hastily made bed on top of two beanbags. Adam shrugged out of his suit and quickly had my clothes off. I gasped at the cold air, which was replaced by his warm naked body on top of mine.

  Afterwards we snuggled up in the blankets, and shared a huge cracked mug of whisky. There was no electricity, my phone had died, and it was almost pitch black apart from a strip of moonlight shining across the opposite side of the shed.

  I felt so happy; happier than I had in months. As we drifted off in each other’s arms I said, “So we’re going to do it? We’re going to get married?”

  “Yeah. I’m going to give you the best wedding you’ve ever had,” said Adam. “It’s going to be a big flat party.”

  “A flat party?”

  “I meant a big fat party.”

  “Are you a bit tipsy?”

  “Yes, and our wedding will be too. Big and fun and tipsy with all our friends…”

  “A big fat tipsy wedding?”

  “Yes… You’re going to be a… beautiful bride…” said Adam, drifting off to sleep.

  “I don’t know if I can wear white, after what we just did,” I said, but Adam was already asleep.

  I woke up the next morning to the sound of creaking wood and then an icy breeze. I opened my eyes and Adam was sprawled on top of me, naked. The blankets must have dislodged in the night, and a shaft of sunlight illuminated his perfect behind. I looked up and the sunlight was pouring through the open door. The head of the Allotment Association, Agatha Balfour, was standing there with a youngish looking couple and their two small children. They stared, opened–mouthed, as Adam shifted in his sleep, opening his legs and treating them all to a view of his scrotum, which slid across my bare leg and off to dangle pendulously in the cold breeze. One of the children screamed. I yanked the covers over Adam.

  “Mrs Pinchard!” shrilled Agatha, with a look of horror. “Get dressed and then come and SEE ME!”

  She slammed the door and I heard them move away. When they were gone, Adam opened his eyes.

  “Morning,” he grinned.

  I told him what had happened.

  “Shit,” he cried, jumping up and pulling on his underwear.

  “What?”

  “We should apologise.”

  “Why?”

  “She’s in charge of all the allotments,” he said.

  “So? I’ve had enough of that old bag, acting as if this is some luxury five-star retirement village when it’s a bloody allotment! Do you know what she said? ‘See me’ as if I’m some school kid…”

  When we were dressed, I marched up the hill to Agatha’s shed, my heels sinking into the soil, which was now melting in the morning sunshine. Adam hurried along behind, tucking in his shirt and doing up his flies.

  I reached the door to Agatha’s shed and barged in without knocking.

  “I’d like to ask why you brought a load of people to look at my shed!” I said.

  Agatha looked up from using a little silver spoon to measure tealeaves into a pot.

  “Mrs Pinchard,” she said not missing a beat. “The reason I did, is because you no longer have an allotment. They were prospective tenants.”

  Adam caught up, and sheepishly waved hello. Agatha picked up a piece of paper.

  “I take it your new address is 12A Berry Road, Honor Oak Park, London SE23 1BZ?”

  “Yes,” I said. “I left a message on
your answering machine. A message you never bothered to return.”

  “Mrs Pinchard,” she said, removing her glasses. “You are only eligible for an allotment if you live in the NW1 postcode.”

  “I am. I own a house here,” I said.

  “But you don’t reside here, Mrs Pinchard.”

  “That doesn’t sound fair!”

  “I don’t make the rules, Mrs Pinchard. For example, the Sultan of Brunei owns a very nice house overlooking Regent’s Park, but even he couldn’t have an allotment because he doesn’t reside here. Having said that, the Sultan of Brunei would do a much better job of weeding.”

  “Yeah, he does have an awful lot of wives,” said Adam.

  I turned and looked at him incredulously.

  “I’m just saying,” he shrugged.

  “Well, don’t!”

  “You have seven days to vacate, Mrs Pinchard,” said Agatha. “Good day.”

  It seems after a couple of years Agatha finally has her wish. She has forced me out. I no longer have an allotment. We trudged back down the hill, doing the worst walk of shame.

  As we waited for a taxi in the freezing wind, I could just make out the roof of my house between the bare branches of a tree in the distance. I had an image of Salvo Trattore sitting by a roaring fire, my roaring fire, all cosy with a slice of pannetone.

  “I’m sorry,” said Adam, as he followed my gaze.

  “You’ve got nothing to be sorry for,” I said.

  I clung onto him and I really hoped that love was all I needed.

  Wednesday 16th February 13.01

  TO: angie.langford@thebmxliteraryagency.biz

  I’m writing to tell you I’m engaged. None of my friends seem to be overjoyed at this. Chris was rather cool on the phone with his congratulations and then said he had to get back to his rehearsals. I then tried a different tack with Marika, asking if she wanted to be a bridesmaid. She burst into cackles of laughter and then saw I was serious.

  “Are you fucking kidding, Coco?” she said.

  “No. We haven’t set a date yet…”

  “Well, of course you haven’t. He’s nine days away from a crown court trial.”

  This stopped me in my tracks.

  “What do you mean? He’s going to be acquitted. Natasha thinks so and she’s the best lawyer there is.”

  “Oh my God, will you listen to yourself,” she said. “Did you ever ask Adam to take that lie detector test?”

  “No.”

  “Exactly. Wake up, woman!”

  “Yeah, well. What about Greg?”

  “What about Greg?” snapped Marika, her eyes flashing dangerously.

  “You’ve moved him in pretty quickly!”

  “It’s my flat!”

  “We’re paying half the mortgage! What’s he paying? He barely chips in for milk let alone anything else!”

  The door went and Greg came bounding in. Talk about timing, the stupid prat had milk, bread and a newspaper in a plastic bag from the newsagent.

  “Hello darling,” said Marika. “Oh, look what Greg bought,”

  “Yeah, well I thought it about time I chipped in,” he said.

  “Coco has some news,” said Marika.

  Greg looked up at me. It’s funny how the people you are closest to can hurt you the most. I felt like I was back in the playground. Marika was bearing down on me like Kelly Roffey, a girl who used to bully me.

  “I’m engaged,” I said in a small voice.

  “To, Adam? Oh congrats,” said Greg. He moved in for an awkward peck on the cheek. “We should go and celebrate.”

  “Yes,” said Marika and I quickly.

  I blinked back tears, scooped up Rocco, and took him for a long walk.

  Thursday 17th February 22.22

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I tweeted to my seven hundred Twitter followers yesterday that I was engaged; I had more excitement from people I don’t know. Then Adam’s daughter Holly saw it and tweeted the following:

  Congrats 2 my new step-mum @CocoPinchard and 2u dad… When does ur trial for fraud begin?

  When I saw it on my iPhone, I panicked and went to send her a message to remove it, but by mistake I retweeted it. I finally got a direct message to her, but it took over an hour for her to pick it up and delete the tweet. I couldn’t bear the tension so I took Rocco for a walk. Halfway along Brockley Rise, I had a phone call from Angie to say that the release of Agent Fergie is being postponed.

  “For how long?” I said.

  “Well, until the trial is over and we know what’s happening with Adam… Thanks to his moron daughter and her stupid tweet, your publishing house knows what’s really going on.”

  “Is Adam’s trial that big a deal?”

  “Normally they wouldn’t care, but they’re in talks for a merger with Tranzplanet Publishing which has to be approved by the government…”

  “And they don’t want to be seen to support a writer who is dating a criminal?”

  “Yep. That’s about it. Course you’re not just dating him, you’re engaged to him…”

  I told Angie she was being harsh.

  “Well, we’ve been here before,” she said. “And I’m fed up. You seem to court disaster and it’s tedious for those of us who have to rely on you. You know now the final part of your advance is gonna be delayed. Which means my commission gets delayed too…”

  I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I think I’ll have to sell the car.

  Saturday 19th February 16.22

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Things are getting very awkward here with Marika. She has been watching Kung-Fu movies all day with Greg. (As you know, Marika hates Kung-Fu movies.)

  Adam and myself have spent the day in our room. Not having your own space means we can’t argue. So we’ve been hissing at each other quietly.

  He had a big row on the phone yesterday with Holly. I’ve never heard him shout at her before. He says he doesn’t want me to sell the car. But I say we don’t have a choice. Besides, I don’t use it. It’s £45,000 worth of metal just sitting outside the flat. It was broken into again last night. The front windscreen and passenger window were smashed. All that was stolen was a map of Slovakia I bought at Christmas. They left the map for the Czech Republic, which shows whoever took it failed geography at school. You have to drive through the Czech Republic to get to Slovakia.

  Chris, could I keep the car in your driveway whilst I try to sell it? I want to move it next week when I clear out my allotment shed.

  Adam is now napping, and I’ve started to read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. She’s such a brilliant writer. She’s much better than me. It’s made me very gloomy about Agent Fergie.

  I wish I could be like Hilary Mantel, captivate the world with literary fiction, and be nominated for all those awards. Although, she is a slightly unusual looking woman. It made me wonder if you can be talented and attractive. I asked Adam the same question and, half asleep, he told me I’m gorgeous, which I didn’t want to hear.

  How is life treating you in Devon?

  C xx

  Tuesday 22nd February 14.44

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I emptied the allotment shed today. It was very sad packing up everything: the deck chairs and blankets, the little mini bar stored in an old cardboard box. I thought of all the fun we’d had there, drinking in the long summer evenings, pretending to garden whenever Agatha came past.

  When I had taken the last of the stuff I stopped by the fruit canes, all cut back, their thin hairy branches wiggling in the wind. The blueberry bushes were skeletons, and the strawberry plants were brown, spidery, and squashed flat. I’ll miss seeing them spring to life in the summer, and the heavenly smell of fresh strawberries.

  A lone crow landed, all polished beak and feathers, and picked around in the bare soil. It was a very poetic end. The cold wind rounded on me and gusted up my coat as if to say, “Go on, be off with you,” so I took the cardboard
box mini-bar, and hung the key on Agatha’s door as I passed.

  Out on the street I discovered I had been clamped.

  I walked round to where it was attached to my front wheel, and saw under the dirt was a phone number. I dialled it and after a few rings, Agatha Balfour answered. I quickly hung up, thinking I had mis-dialled; my fingers were rendered into a little sausage claw by the cold. I dialled again, and again Agatha Balfour answered.

  “Who is this?” she said.

  “It’s Coco Pinchard… Your telephone number seems to be written on a car clamp.”

  She tersely informed me she would be there “in a mo” and hung up.

  She came trudging out of the gate swinging her keys, and without a hello or anything, put her muddy boot on the edge of the clamp, inserted a key, and wiggled it free of the wheel. I stood there waiting for an explanation. When none was offered up I said, “Who the hell are you to clamp my car?”

  “You are parked in front of the gate. It’s an access point. I am allowed to clamp people who block the access point.”

  “But that’s stupid, surely, since that makes it less of an access point?”

  “What would you suggest? I slash their tyres? Urinate on the bonnet?”

  “Why are you saying that?”

  “Mrs Pinchard, just when I think I have heard or seen the worst, you plumb the depths even further.”

  “I parked here for less than an hour!”

  “Parking is the least of it! I’m talking about poor Mr Rickard.”

 
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