The coco pinchard boxset.., p.48
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.48

           Robert Bryndza
 

  “If you go round, she’ll probably call the police,” said Chris. “You look ready to kill her.”

  “And it wouldn’t help Adam’s appeal if you get arrested,” added Marika.

  I had to admit they had a point. I came and sat down and tried to stay calm.

  Now that they have all left, I’m feeling increasingly frustrated. I’m also creeped out about all of these coincidences. The dream I kept having about the old woman pointing behind the bookshelf… it’s her photo album… However, I am so excited. We have a crack at an appeal! Phone as soon as you can. I love you, and we are going to get you out of prison!

  Coco xxx

  Saturday 30th July 21.06

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  All the wind seems to have been taken out of my sails. I haven’t heard back from Adam; he must have received my email letter by now. He didn’t call before we listened to Adele, which he always does.

  Natasha isn’t answering her mobile and the offices of Spencer & Spencer are not open until Monday. Is the legal profession the only group of people who still have a two-day weekend?

  I am so close to going over to Sabrina’s flat and, I don’t know, breaking in and looking for the cash, smacking her in the gob. Anything to make something happen!

  August

  Monday 1st August 13.12

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I haven’t heard from Adam. It’s been several days now. He normally phones before our listening party on a Saturday, and writes a letter, which he times to arrive on a Monday. When the post arrived this morning with nothing but junk mail, I phoned Cambria Sands Prison switchboard to ask if there was any way I could talk to him.

  “You want me to ‘put you through’ to a serving prisoner?” said the gruff voice that answered.

  “Why not?” I said. “He can go for walks; there are no bars on the windows. Can’t you let him speak to me?”

  “Well, I would let you, but Prisoner AG26754 is currently occupied on the croquet lawn before he takes tea in the conservatory,” he said, without missing a beat.

  “Okay. I get it…” I said. “Please could you at least tell me if Prisoner AG26754 is okay? You see I haven’t heard from him in days. He always phones or writes to me.”

  “I can check if the prisoner is currently serving a sentence in the prison. But that is all.”

  “Thank you,” I said.

  The line went quiet and I held for several eternal minutes. The silence was deafening. There is no hold music in HM Prison Service. Finally, there was a click, a rustle, and the voice returned.

  “The Prisoner is in solitary.”

  “What? Solitary… solitary confinement?”

  “Yes.”

  “Why?” There was a sound of papers being sifted. “It seems Prisoner AG26754 was involved in a fight. Ah… yes… pulled up in front of the governor last Thursday.”

  “And by Prisoner AG26754 you mean Adam Rickard?”

  “Yes.”

  “Was he badly hurt?”

  “He wasn’t admitted to the hospital wing, so we can assume not.”

  “When can I expect to hear from him?”

  More pages turned.

  “I see here Prisoner AG… Um, Mr Rickard, has lost all privileges for a month, and had fifty-six days added to his sentence.”

  “Fifty-six days?”

  “Yes.”

  I put down the phone. Fifty-six days! That’s another two months! To think how long two months is, especially during this terrible period. I was so angry. If I were at the prison, I’d put Adam in the hospital wing myself.

  Later that afternoon the doorbell rang, and outside stood Wayne and Rosencrantz. I was in a t-shirt and shorts with a huge hammer and some clear goggles I had borrowed from Shane upstairs.

  “Mum, what are you doing?” said Rosencrantz.

  “I’m going to bash that bloody bookshelf to bits,” I said. “It’s all cracked across the back and I need something to take out my anger on.”

  I told them about Adam.

  “You need to come down from your DIY cloud and the put the kettle on, Mrs P,” said Wayne. “We’ve concocted a cunning plan.”

  “We have, Mum,” grinned Rosencrantz.

  I pulled off my goggles, went to the kitchen, and filled a pan with water.

  “We’ve got the answer, Mum,” said Rosencrantz. “And it’s been staring us in the face.”

  “Social media,” said Wayne, pulling out his iPad.

  “What are you talking about?” I said, putting the pan on the stove and lighting the gas.

  “We did some research on Sabrina Jones.”

  “Formerly Sabrina Colter,” added Wayne.

  “Sabrina is all over social media,” said Rosencrantz. “She’s very active on Facebook and Twitter.”

  “So?” I said, pulling out mugs and some chocolate biscuits.

  “This Sabrina is stupid enough to share her whole life on the Internet,” said Rosencrantz. “Just from looking at her Twitter feed we know a lot of the places she’s been today. For example, she went to Nandos in the O2 at eleven this morning, and she’s off to see a film…”

  “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part Two… With her friend Caitlin,” said Wayne holding up his iPad.

  “People don’t realise, you can piece together their whole lives by silly updates they write. Her Facebook account goes back to 2007, her Twitter goes back to 2009,” said Rosencrantz.

  “You know how in old James Bond films, when they wanted to follow the bad guy without him knowing, they’d stick a tracking device to his car and then watch a moving red dot on a map?” asked Wayne.

  “Yes…” I said.

  “This is our red dot!” grinned Rosencrantz. “The info flashes up on Facebook or Twitter.”

  “Does she say where she stashed the two hundred grand?” I asked sceptically, pouring milk into mugs.

  “No Mum, but we’re watching…”

  We sat down for our tea and I told them about Adam not being in contact, about Natasha being on holiday, and how I felt desperate.

  “This is going to work out, Mum, I know it,” said Rosencrantz. I admired his positivity, but I didn’t agree.

  Tuesday 2nd August 19.15

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Natasha phoned this morning! Her secretary had passed on my message. I told her about the newspaper cutting and Sabrina Jones having a criminal record for fraud as Sabrina Colter.

  “This is very good, Coco!” she said. “It could be a mitigating factor in forcing an appeal… Can you fax me a copy of the newspaper article?” She gave me a number for her hotel. As soon as I came off the phone, I ran round to the little corner shop and paid £4 to fax the newspaper cutting to Natasha’s luxury five-star hotel.

  As I stood there in the stinking shop, watching the newspaper as it was sucked into the cracked old fax machine, I hoped that this would be our breakthrough moment.

  I came home and waited. And waited. I’ve heard nothing all day. I hope that crappy fax machine was working.

  Friday 5th August 16.47

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk, chris@christophercheshire.com

  There has been nothing from Natasha, or Adam. I took Rocco for a long walk and found myself up at the little church in Honor Oak Park. It was full of volunteers, old ladies bustling in and out with mops and buckets and bunches of fresh flowers. I wanted to go inside, but Rocco was with me and I didn’t have a coat to hide him in.

  I was convinced for so long we would get married there on the 19th August. A date now only two weeks away. I thought how unfair life is. I’m stuck. Frozen in time. Engaged to man who won’t see the light of day until June 2015 — no, it’s now August 2015! I’ll be almost fifty! What’s to say he won’t be released and find some hot young thing?

  Sorry to be such a misery. Love you both. C xx

  Monday 8th August 17.11

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmai
l.co.uk

  I would love to come out for a drink with you both, but I have just had to transfer more money over to Spender & Spencer law firm. Natasha still hasn’t contacted me after I faxed the newspaper cutting, which is a major piece of evidence, but I do get a bill from her office for her time! It all feels so relentless.

  I don’t know if I will ever be able to move back into my house, or have a career… Sorry, am just very low. Have fun.

  Love Coco xxx

  PS Have you seen on the news, there are riots breaking out in North London.

  Tuesday 9th August 16.54

  TO: angie.langford@thebmxliteraryagency.biz

  Are you okay, love? I saw the rioting is getting close to you in North London; they have spread to this side of the river too. People are going mad, smashing up shops and looting. Rosencrantz, Marika, and Chris came over last night for a drink and ended up staying the night. Chris had called for a taxi when it got late, but every cab company refused to drive through South London. The riots have broken out in Peckham (four miles away) Lewisham (three miles away) and just down the road, in Catford! We realised they were so close when the doorbell rang just before nine and there was Ethel in her best coat, shaking with nerves.

  “Can I come in, love? I was on the bus ‘ome and the driver just kicked us orf at the end of your road. Catford is closed orf by riot police!” she said.

  I pulled her in and locked the door. We were all genuinely scared that the rioters would reach Brockley.

  I made toast and tea and we watched a live feed from the BBC News Channel of the riots unfolding. One journalist was shown walking along the high street in Peckham filming people throwing bricks through shop windows and grabbing what they could. Just after they reported that people were taking to Twitter to organise riots, my Internet connection was cut.

  “This is unbelievable,” said Chris, stabbing at the screen of his iPhone. “I thought we lived in a democracy!”

  “Democracy is an illusion at best,” I said.

  “We’re all just pawns in the capitalist master plan,” said Marika.

  “You know woss worse?” said Ethel. “I left me smalls out on the rotary line! Do you think they’ll get looted?”

  “They want the latest gadgets, DVDs and flat screen televisions,” I said. “Your knickers should be fine.”

  It was strange to be completely cut off from any television or radio. Every now and then one of us would go out into the street to see if anything was happening, but it was eerily quiet. In the distance there was an orange glow, but we couldn’t tell if it was fire or light pollution. The uncertainty didn’t do us any good.

  Everyone stayed the night and bunked down where they could. I let Ethel have the bed. Marika and me shared the sofa. Rosencrantz and Chris pulled in a champagne chair each from outside, and curled up as best they could.

  Around five, when it got light, we realised we were all awake, so I got up and made more tea and toast. Rosencrantz discovered the Internet was back on, so he switched on the laptop, and we watched the early morning news.

  Rosencrantz suddenly stopped chewing his toast halfway to his mouth.

  “Mum,” he said. “That’s Croydon… close to where Dad lives.”

  An aerial view of a street showed cars on fire, riot police charging groups of young men in face masks pelting them with sticks and bottles. A huge building in the centre of Croydon was on fire, flames leaping high into the air as people jumped from inside to safety. A look shot between us and I grabbed the phone and called Daniel.

  “Hello,” he said chirpily. “I haven’t heard from you in a while, what’s this? You’ve heard about my new relationship?”

  “Have you seen the news?” I said. “Croydon is on fire!”

  “Oh Lord, good job I moved then,” he said gleefully.

  “What do you mean?”

  “I’ve met a lovely trombone player called Jennifer, and I’ve moved into her pied à terre in Hampstead. It’s worth two million, are you jealous?” he teased.

  “No. We were worried about you.”

  “Oh I’m fine, I don’t need to mix with the poor anymore in South London… Oh, I er… I’m only joking.”

  “I’ll tell everyone you’re fine,” I said, and put the phone down.

  Ethel was happy Daniel was okay, and even happier he was now living in a posh area.

  “I wonder if she’s got big cheeks,” said Ethel, when I told her about Jennifer.

  “What, a fat arse?” said Rosencrantz.

  “No, big cheeks from blowing on the trombone…” said Ethel. “Iss not the most flattering instrument, why couldn’t ‘e meet a nice girl who plays the violin?”

  “People are rioting out there!” I reminded her.

  “Iss ‘orrible love, I know,” said Ethel. “But life goes on. Believe me, I know. I lived through the Blitz.”

  Later in the morning, they opened the road. Ethel shared a cab home with Rosencrantz and Chris. I took Rocco for a walk with Marika.

  We discovered what the glowing fire in the sky was last night. Rioters with petrol bombs had attacked several shops near Marika’s flat. The fire brigade had managed to contain and extinguish most of the fire, but further up past the station one building didn’t survive.

  The church.

  We stood at the bottom of the steps and watched as a fire engine slowly navigated the trees. It stopped beside us to pull out into the road. The passenger window was open and I leaned up and asked what had happened.

  “The roof collapsed around four in the morning and took the spire with it… it crashed into the trees behind,” said a young firefighter with soot on his face. “We’ve had to put a cordon round. The structure isn’t safe. Watching a building burn is bad enough, but seeing all those stained glass windows, hundreds of years old, blowing out in the heat was depressing…”

  The fire engine pulled out into the traffic.

  “I need to go Marika, now,” I said.

  She grabbed my hand and we went back to her flat where we had a stiff drink, even though it was only nine in the morning.

  Wednesday 10th August 20.14

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I still haven’t heard from Adam. He lost all his privileges including use of phone and postage stamps. I want to know what the fight was about. He isn’t usually one for getting into scraps.

  Rosencrantz and Wayne came over this afternoon. They’ve been doing more detective work, and printed off a series of Tweets and Facebook posts Sabrina Jones/Colter has been writing.

  The riots came very close to her area of London (Woolwich) and she has had a few exchanges about being scared of looters and unable to leave her flat.

  The tone suggests she has something of real value there. These are the Tweets and Facebook posts the boys have homed in on. I am now starting to take notice:

  @SabrinaC really scared of #London2011Riots we have to sit tight and stay in d’flat to protect R future.

  @SabrinaC a house is on fire at end of my road, does anyone no where I can get a Fireproof SAFE?

  @SabrinaC I just bought a Fireproof Safe £29.99 @amazonUK

  Then a day later she posted on Facebook:

  Ugh! Waiting in 4 Parcel force. BORED!!!!

  And later:

  Parcelforce is still not here - mayb they’re scared of the rioting????

  Then on Twitter she tweeted:

  @SabrinaC please retweet #parcelforceisshit lets TREND IT! I spent £20 on amazon next day delivery still not here! WTF?

  Then about four hours later, the fireproof safe arrived. She posted a picture on Facebook of her cat sitting inside it, with the door open. Underneath she’d written; ‘A CAT BURGLAR LOL LMAO!’

  Then last night she posted:

  @SabrinaC #London2011Riots OMG next door wuz on fire. Just helped to X-TiNG-Ish petrol bomb thrown thru front window.

  @SabrinaC am gonna get online b4 the police cut the net again. Need 2do sum stuff 2 keep safe.


  And on Facebook:

  Packing my suitcase 4 2morrow! Big life changing trip ahead of us!

  Finally she posted on Twitter:

  @SabrinaC I just bought a single ferry ticket Portsmouth to Jersey @ExpediaUK

  “Is she completely stupid?” I said, after reading them through.

  “Well, we think the answer is ‘yes’,” said Rosencrantz. “What you can see is what we’ve weeded out of a glut of nonsense. She constantly posts on Twitter and Facebook.”

  “Okay,” I said. “What can we read into this? If we didn’t know her?”

  “Well, she could have bought the safe for her iPod and her sovereign rings,” said Wayne.

  “That’s true,” said Rosencrantz. “But knowing her background with fraud, and what you heard her say by the Thames, I think she’s going to move the money.”

  “To Jersey. Tomorrow,” I said.

  We looked at each other. Even though we were standing in my kitchen, and the sun was streaming through the door, a shiver went through me.

  “I’m wondering if she knows someone in Jersey who can make the money vanish,” said Rosencrantz. “And she might not be coming back. She only bought a one-way ticket.”

  We sat talking for another couple of hours, but kept coming back to the same thought: we have to follow her.

  Thursday 11th August 03.13

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk, chris@christophercheshire.com

 
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