The coco pinchard boxset.., p.58
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.58

           Robert Bryndza

  ‘No give it to Chloe to scan. It would be good to have on record if the press need it. This is such good news Coco! We could get Heat magazine to do a folic acid themed, ‘What’s in your fridge?’ You could recommend stretch mark cream in Boots Magazine. We could pitch something to Grazia or Cosmo about female incontinence – Ulrika Johnson has paved the way with that one. It’s perfect! Your readership is women over thirty five – and of course poofters. Could we do a mum and son thing in Gaytimes? Rosencrantz topless, and you in maternity gear?’

  ‘Hey! Angie!’


  ‘I’ve just told you I’m pregnant.’

  ‘I heard you love.’

  ‘And what do normal people say in response?’

  Angie looked confused. ‘Um. Whose is it?’

  I shook my head.

  ‘Are you gonna to keep it?’ Then it dawned on her. ‘Shit, congratulations Cokes.’

  ‘Thank you.’

  I showed her my scan and she became human again. She even asked if I wanted to be put in touch with her Harley Street gynaecologist.

  ‘He’s great,’ she said. ‘Got me into a private hospital that lets you smoke. I could choose when I had my Caesarean, and they did a bit of liposuction at the same time.’

  I lied and said I’d think about it.

  ‘Well when you get the next bit of your advance through you can afford it love.’

  Then Angie said our time was up. She had to prepare for a conference call with Regina Battenberg’s American publicist.

  ‘So what’s happening with Agent Fergie?’ I asked on the way out.

  ‘I’ll be in touch,’ she said. I came out and walked to Chiswick high street where I found a bus direct to Marylebone. I managed to bag a seat upstairs right at the front with a super view. But my nose had been put out of joint. Now Regina Battenberg is with Angie, I am no longer her number one client.

  Wednesday 8th February

  I was making tea this morning, when I realised we had run out of milk. Adam was reading the newspaper so I kissed him on top of the head and nipped out to the Tesco Metro. When I returned twenty minutes later, he was gone… I tried his mobile but the call was rejected after two rings. I tried again, and again I was rejected. I then burst into tears. As I write, I can see how ridiculous this is. But pregnancy hormones don’t make you think straight. I felt hugely rejected by his call rejection. Why hadn’t he told me where he was going? Why had he excluded me? I cried into Rocco’s fur for a few minutes then I tried him again. This time he answered.

  ‘What?’ he said.

  ‘You’re not here!’

  ‘I’m round the corner, at Tabitha’s.’

  ‘Why are you there? Why are you there alone?’

  ‘I’m changing a lightbulb for her…’ Then I heard Tabitha cooing in the background,

  ‘Adam, your Lapsang Souchong is getting cold.’

  ‘I’ve got to go, I’ll be home soon,’ he said and hung up!

  I let Adam have it when he came home an hour later. He looked shocked.

  ‘What’s the big problem? She’s our tenant. She needed me to screw in a light bulb.’

  ‘She spends all day screwing! A light bulb can’t be that hard for her!’

  ‘It was one of those fitted ones in the kitchen ceiling,’ he said. I asked him if he’d slept with her.

  ‘You’re mad. I’m not even going to give that the time of day,’ he said. Then he grabbed his workout gear and went to the gym.

  Friday 10th February

  Every morning I wake up vowing to be a yummy mummy, but by the time I get down to the kitchen, I’m just a distasteful bitch. In addition to my foul mood swings, I’m farting like a trooper. There are only so many times I can blame poor Rocco. I feel revolting, fat and frumpy whilst Adam radiates gorgeousness. I wish I could be a man right now. A nice muscly man. It must be so nice to walk down the street and have everything stay in the same place. My bottom seems to reach out behind me like a large pontoon. My stomach spills over my waistband, and my boobs swing pendulously.

  This morning a big box of baby books arrived from Angie. Or should I say, celebrity baby books; there was Myleene Klass, Jools Oliver… Denise Van Outen. All the books have pictures of them looking fabulous and pregnant on the cover. Denise Van Outen’s book is called Bumpalicious. For some reason this made me really upset. Bumpalicious….Bumpalicious… What the hell is ‘licious’ about my bump or being pregnant? Why do we still have to be under pressure to be sexy yummy mummies?

  I hurled Bumpalicious across the hall, and it hit the yucca plant by the front door, which pitched over spilling soil everywhere.

  ‘What was that for?’ said Adam emerging from the kitchen in just his briefs, holding a tea towel.

  ‘Look at you, not an ounce of fat on you, you’re gorgeous!’ I said.

  ‘Thanks,’ grinned Adam admiring his abs.

  ‘It’s not a compliment you wanker!’ I shouted. ‘Put some clothes on!’ He opened his mouth to say something and thought it wiser to retreat upstairs. Rocco padded out of the kitchen and surveyed the mess with his wise brown little eyes, then trotted upstairs after Adam. I was seriously considering having a cigarette, thinking that as Adam is so tall our baby wouldn’t be that stunted by my nicotine abuse, when I noticed a note inside the box from Angie.

  Dear Cokes,

  Some baby stuff for you. Last night, I had a brainwave. Why don’t we get Regina Battenberg to write a quote for the front cover of Agent Fergie? Endorsements like these always help to sell loads more copies!

  Chloe has left her a message, will keep you posted. Angie x

  Tuesday 14th February

  I slept badly, peed all night and realised this morning I had forgotten Valentine’s Day. I was wracked with tears of guilt when Adam presented me with a beautiful card. Inside he’d written,

  “Roses are red,

  Violets are blue,

  You’re a pregnant bitch,

  But I still love you…”

  Adam x

  It made me laugh for the first time in days.

  ’Yes!’ said Adam triumphantly. ‘She can still smile!’ He handed me a squashy present. I tore off the paper. It was a pack of baby-gros.

  ‘Thanks,’ I said. I stared at the five little pastel-coloured baby-gros, neatly arranged in a fan under the plastic.

  ‘They’re neutral colours,’ said Adam.

  ‘They are…’ I said. I knew he was being sweet. It will make me sound like an unreasonable cow, I know, but I could have done with something for me. I shook these thoughts away and smiled.

  ‘Thank you. I forgot all about today being Valentine’s Day… Do you want to have sex?’ I sat up quickly and in the process farted loudly.

  ‘Um, maybe we shouldn’t, ’cos of the baby…’ said Adam. Rocco whined and jumped off the bed.

  ‘Oh lord, that really stinks.’ I said. We both started to laugh. ‘Adam. I just want to be normal, not pregnant.’

  ‘You will be, but for now you’re making our beautiful baby, even if the process isn’t so beautiful.’ He went and ran me a bath.

  Friday 17th February

  Adam has applied for thirty-three jobs, but has heard nothing back. I keep telling him it’s a quiet time of year but if I’m honest, I’m a bit scared. He’s been in contact with his old boss in the civil service and she’s promised to let him know if anything comes up.

  Marika has kindly offered me some dog walking, but I’m already exhausted and I’m only fifteen weeks in! It looks like for now we’re relying on Tabitha’s rent money, and whatever it is she does to earn it. I’m terribly emotional. I keep locking myself in the bathroom to have a good cry.

  Monday 20th February

  Angie phoned this morning, very excited. Regina Battenberg has agreed to provide a quote for the front cover of Agent Fergie.

  ‘She wants us to have a meeting here, tomorrow, at eleven,’ said Angie.

  ‘Why do we need a meeting?’ I asked.

  ‘She just wants to get a feel for the book from you.’

  ‘Can’t she just read the book?’

  ‘Cokes, she wants to meet you.’

  ‘Why?’ There was a pause.

  ‘Cokes, I got the impression it’s kind of compulsory.’


  ‘Well she said ‘impulsory’…’

  ‘So I’m auditioning for this bloody quote? You and Regina are going to sit behind a desk and I’ll come in and, what? Sing the synopsis? I bet she’s even asked for a big red buzzer?’

  ‘Of course not Coco. But getting this quote will be a huge deal. And remember, she’s doing it for free.’

  ‘Okay. I’ll be there,’ I said, with a heavy heart.

  Tuesday 21st February

  I lay awake all night dreading this meeting. I left the house early, but a delay on the Piccadilly Line meant I arrived outside Angie’s house at the same time as Regina Battenberg. She hasn’t changed a great deal in the two years since we last met. She was wearing her shiny gold character turban with a floor-length black and gold cape. She had on so much powder, eye makeup and blusher that she looked like she was about to go on stage. She was holding her little dog Pippin and peering up at the row of black front doors.

  ‘Excuse me dear,’ she said. ‘I’m looking for Angela Lansbury’s literary agency, do you know which house is hers?’

  ‘Hello Regina… It’s Coco Pinchard,’ I said offering my hand. Pippin growled.

  ‘No… Angela Lansbury.’

  ‘No it’s me, Coco Pinchard,’ I said. Regina took a moment.

  ‘Oh, hello dear, I didn’t recognise you,’ she said. ‘I left my bifocals at The Ivy last night. Had a lovely supper with Punch and Judy… I mean Richard and Judy… Richard flirted with me all night. Quite put Judy’s nose out of joint.’

  Her phone rang and she thrust Pippin at me. I’m not sure what breed he is. He looks like a wisp of grey hair that’s been fished out of a plug hole. I held him gingerly as she sorted through the folds of her cape for her phone.

  ‘Did you find a good parking spot?’ she snapped into the phone. ‘Five roads away! Leave it there for now… I’m waiting.’

  Pippin growled at me with bug eyes, and bared his yellow teeth. Regina came off the phone.

  ‘Right, so we’re both looking for Angela Lansbury’s house.’

  I went to correct her but Angie opened her front door. She was wearing one of her Chanel power suits, full warpaint, and a pair of towering Jimmy Choos on her tiny feet.

  ‘Angela!’ said Regina swooping into the doorway for a hug.

  ‘How was your journey?’ asked Angie as she and Regina air kissed with about six feet between them.

  ‘Fandabidoze!’ she grinned. Her teeth were now very white compared to two years ago. ‘Juan José is just parking the Subaru… Ah, here he is.’

  A pouty male model came up the path to the front door. He was wearing a dark suit and sunglasses. He took the growling Pippin from me and we all went in. Angie had barely acknowledged me.

  We took the staircase up to her office, where Chloe was fussing around, arranging a buffet. There were some bottles of very expensive wine, and plates of odd looking little biscuits arranged in fan shapes on Angie’s desk. The surrounding shelves were now groaning with every possible language edition of Regina Battenberg’s books.

  Regina sat in Angie’s chair and surveyed the bottles, choosing a 1994 Beaujolais. Juan José pulled a corkscrew from his pocket, opened the bottle with a flourish and poured her a glass.

  ‘Thank you Juan José, that will be all,’ she said. ‘I’ll ring you when I’ve finished.’ Juan José inclined his head and left the room. ‘He’s very witty, isn’t he?’

  Angie chuckled in agreement and sat down opposite Regina. I was left to perch on the arm of her chair.

  ‘Right, Coco. What’s this book about?’ asked Regina taking a sip of wine.

  ‘Didn’t Angie tell you?’ I said.

  ‘She emailed me the blurb, of course, but as I said, I left my bifocals at The Ivy. Pitch it to me… Give me your elevator pitch.’

  Angie nodded in encouragement. I began to tremble.

  ‘Well it’s sort of an unofficial sequel to Chasing Diana Spencer…’ I croaked. I cleared my throat. ‘Um the premise of the book is that, well it’s more of a running gag, no I suppose it is a premise. Um the premise is that Fergie – the Duchess of York Fergie that is, not Alex Ferguson England manager… Nor Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas…’

  ‘You say it’s a comedy?’ interrupted Regina. ‘It doesn’t sound very funny.’

  ‘I’m getting to that,’ I said.

  ‘Well the elevator went ping. I’ve reached my floor,’ she grinned nastily.

  My face began to get hot and I blinked back tears. ‘Okay, so we’ve got Fergie, Duchess of York Fergie… and…’ I went blank. Regina took another sip of her wine and regarded me over the glass.

  ‘Coco’s second book is highly anticipated, after the huge success of Chasing Diana Spencer,’ said Angie jumping in and saving me. ‘The basic premise is that Fergie, the Duchess of York, is actually an Agent working for MI6. The bumbling gaffe-prone Fergie portrayed in the Media is just a ruse. She’s a highly intelligent sleeper agent…’

  Relieved that Angie had taken over, I took one of the little brown biscuits off a plate and popped it in my mouth, but it was disgusting. Chloe, who’d been standing in the corner of the room looked panicked.

  ‘Coco,’ she hissed. ‘Coco!’

  I swallowed and looked at her; she was pointing to the biscuits and shaking her head. Angie stopped talking.

  ‘What is it dear?’ asked Regina, noticing Chloe.

  ‘Um, as you requested, Regina, all the biscuits on the table, well they’re dog biscuits,’ said Chloe. Regina cast her eye over me.

  ‘Oh yes! How silly of me… Those are Pippin’s dog biscuits!’ she said. I swallowed back the sour meaty taste and felt my stomach lurch. Angie carried on.

  ‘Agent Fergie manages to foil a plot to assassinate the Queen, during a State visit to America. It’s very funny and satirical… and I think it’s going to be a great beach read this summer.’

  No-one seemed bothered that I had just eaten a dog biscuit.

  ‘The baby!’ I realised. ‘I ate a dog biscuit. What about my baby?’

  ‘You’re pregnant?’ chirruped Regina. ‘You seem a bit old dear…’

  I could feel the colour draining from my face, and I started to sweat. My stomach twitched and I bolted out of Angie’s office, down the hall to the toilet. I jammed my fingers down my throat until I saw stars, but I couldn’t be sick.

  I sat down on the floor and whipped out my phone and typed, IS IT SAFE TO EAT DOG BISCUITS WHEN PREGNANT? into Google, but a blur of answers came up. I wiped the damp hair off my face. Then there was a rap on the door.

  ‘Cokes?’ said Angie. ‘Are you okay love?’

  ‘No!’ I shouted. Then I heard Regina.

  ‘Angela? Is she okay? Why would you eat a dog biscuit? She’s quite an odd woman isn’t she?’

  ‘Cokes. Are you okay to come out and finish the meeting?’ asked Angie.

  I was mortified, and no one seemed to care. I was just an idiot who couldn’t even pitch her own book. A dog-biscuit-eating idiot.

  ‘Um, I’ll be there in a minute,’ I said. I heard some muttering and they went back down the corridor to Angie’s office. I knew I had to see a doctor, and fast. I splashed my face with cold water then, opening the bathroom door, determined that the corridor was empty. I slipped down the stairs and was out on Chiswick High Street within minutes. I had my handbag, but I’d left my coat. I was too embarrassed to go back. Luckily a black cab rounded the corner. I flagged it down and got in.

  ‘Can I go to the nearest hospital,’ I asked. The driver nodded and pulled away from the kerb. Then I remembered I had midwife Justine – maybe I could see her first? I told the taxi driver to take me back to Marylebone. I scrabbl
ed around in my purse and found the card midwife Justine had given me. I rang her number, but it went to a long recorded message about visiting hours. I then tried Adam, but his phone was off. Half an hour later I arrived at the Marylebone surgery, where I rushed at the front desk. Two receptionists sat facing me behind the glass partition. They ignored my distress and tear-stained face and continued typing. A minute passed, then another.

  ‘Am I invisible?’ I asked. They kept typing. ‘I said am I invisible?’ the younger of the two finally finished what she was doing.

  ‘Right, how can I help you?’ she asked.

  ‘I need to see my midwife.’

  ‘Have you got an appointment?’

  ‘No, it’s an emergency.’ I said. I bit my lip. I was not going to cry.

  ‘The midwife only sees emergencies in the morning and evenings,’ she said.

  ‘What? So we have to time our emergency ailments accordingly?’

  ‘I’d like you to calm down.’

  ‘And I’d like you to…’ But before I could finish I spied midwife Justine walking through the empty waiting room with a mug of tea. I threw myself at her mercy, and she reluctantly took me into her office.

  ‘This really is a one-off,’ she said sitting at her desk. ‘You need to make an appointment in future.’ I took the seat in front of her and explained that I’d eaten a dog biscuit. I looked at her expectantly.

  ‘I can assure you, eating dog food is perfectly safe,’ she said in her singsong tone. ‘Just don’t make a habit of it.’

  ‘Of course I’m not going to make a habit of it!’ I said. ‘I’m not here to check if it’s okay to eat dog food! I accidentally ate the dog biscuit.’

  I was interrupted by a crashing knock at her door, and a middle-aged nurse with a severe fringe barged in.

  ‘Midwife Day, can I remind you that patients are NOT allowed to bring in urine samples in Tesco apple juice bottles! Someone put the lunch order in the wrong fridge and now we don’t know what is wee and what isn’t!’

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