The coco pinchard boxset.., p.64
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.64

           Robert Bryndza
 

  ‘How dare you!’ said Mrs Cohen. ‘Trevor did you hear how she spoke to me?’

  ‘Of course he heard, he’s right there under your thumb!’

  ‘Well at least I can keep a man!’ said Mrs Cohen.

  ‘Right, outside,’ I said.

  ‘Okay, okay, okay ladies,’ said Adam sliding between us. ‘Let’s calm down. No one is going outside. I’ll come and move the hearse.’

  He grabbed the keys and herded the muttering Cohens away. I slammed the door.

  ‘That bloody woman,’ I said.

  ‘You’re my hero Coco,’ said Meryl. ‘There are so many people at the Rotary club I’d love to say that to.’

  Adam came back an hour later saying he’d parked the hearse in the driveway at Chris’s old house.

  Wednesday 28th March

  My mobile rang at nine thirty this morning. I was lying spread-eagled in bed whilst Adam and Rocco were pushed into the corner with no covers.

  ‘Morning sleepy head, this is your wake-up call, breakfast is in ten minutes,’ said Meryl. On cue a delicious smell of bacon reached us. Adam and Rocco both woke up and began sniffing the air.

  ‘Cooked breakfast?’ asked Adam his eyes full of wonder.

  When we came downstairs, Meryl was singing along to Radio 2. She had on her twinset and pearls, her hair was curled, and she wore a neatly pressed apron. Wilfred was sitting in his high chair watching the proceedings with big solemn blue eyes. The breakfast bar was laid out beautifully with my fancy china, fruit and preserves. She’d even disrobed the butter from its foil, where it was sitting on a plate, like a little block of gold.

  ‘Morning, take a seat. Tea?’ asked Meryl. Adam asked for coffee.

  ‘It’s just tea. I’ve made a pot of PG or you can have peppermint, which is very good for poorly tummies. How is your tummy Coco? Not constipated?’

  ‘No. Where is the coffee machine?’ I asked.

  ‘I’ve packed it away Coco. Caffeine is bad for expectant mummies.’

  We sat down. She poured us each a cup of tea, and added milk from a jug.

  ‘Where’s the bread bin?’ I asked, noticing that everything was different.

  ‘By the toaster,’ she said.

  ‘Where is the toaster?’

  ‘By the plug next to the fridge.’

  ‘Why is it by the plug next to the fridge?’ On cue the toast popped up and Meryl put it in the little toast rack I never use. She then picked up her miniature Dyson and hoovered out the inside of the toaster.

  ‘Now you’ve got two plugs, and can get rid of your crumbs!’ she trilled.

  ‘You are a proper Martha Stewart,’ grinned Adam enjoying my annoyance.

  ‘Oh no,’ she said bashfully. ‘Besides, you’ve got more in common with her than me. You’ve also been to prison.’

  I suppressed a grin as Adam looked annoyed. Meryl went to the oven and, returning with two plates, laid out a full English breakfast before us.

  ‘Now have the two of you got anything dark you need washing?’ she asked taking off her apron. We shook our heads like two little children.

  ‘Nothing red? No red knickers Coco?’

  ‘No, my red knickers are safely in the drawer, poised for a sexy occasion in the future,’ I said.

  Meryl laughed and went off to scour the house for errant garments.

  ‘Does she cook a full English every morning?’ said Adam.

  ‘Yes.’

  ‘Wow.’

  ‘I’m not cooking you breakfast,’ I said.

  ‘I’m not asking you to!’

  Wilfred stared at us both and then said, ‘Red knickers!’

  I remembered my call from Chloe last night and logged on to Amazon. Agent Fergie has gone to #65,970 on pre-order.

  ‘That’s not bad,’ said Adam seeing my face.

  ‘It’s not great,’ I said. I tried Angie again, but she was busy, blah, blah, blah.

  Friday 30th March

  Agent Fergie is #67,089.

  I don’t understand why. I’ve bought a copy, so has Adam, and Rosencrantz, and Oscar, and their housemate Wayne… Surely this would have propelled it higher?

  Meryl has spent the last two days cleaning my house from top to bottom. She’s done the kind of organising I only read about in magazines. My pastas are now sorted in glass jars, I have a peg bag, I also have a cloth bag for my used plastic bags. I’m the one who should be nesting, but maybe Meryl is doing it for me. I googled nesting-by-proxy but nothing came up. Maybe I’m just a lazy cow.

  Saturday 31st March

  Agent Fergie is #71,480.

  However, I think it could soon be much higher. Chloe just phoned. I’m booked in to do This Morning with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby next week! Chloe knows someone on the production team and has pulled some strings. I’m so excited.

  Tony hasn’t rung Meryl.

  April

  Sunday 1st April

  The morning began so beautifully. I woke, cosy and warm next to Adam. The sun was pouring in through the window, diffused to a warm glow by the curtains. I’d slept deliciously and woke up feeling rested, like a normal human being. Morning sickness was a distant memory and I felt full of life. Rocco was asleep on his back between us, his four legs up in the air. Adam lay beside him, equally sprawled. The bedroom door opened slowly and Wilfred peeped round it shyly. I smiled, and he toddled in wearing his pyjamas. He stopped to stare at Adam sleeping, then reached up and traced the outline of his nose and lips. Adam didn’t stir.

  ‘Morning,’ I whispered. Wilfred lifted his hand and gave me a little wave.

  ‘Is Mummy up?’ He shook his head solemnly.

  ‘Do you want me to make you some breakfast?’

  Wilfred shrugged.

  ‘Are you hungry?’ I asked. Wilfred nodded, reached up to Adam’s bedside table and pulled off one of his job application forms and started to push it into his mouth.

  We’ve discovered Wilfred likes to eat paper. I wondered why we didn’t seem to have had any junk mail over the past few days. Then Meryl told me that Wilfred has been eating it off the mat.

  ‘No, no, no,’ let’s get some cereal,’ I said pulling the form out of his mouth. I scooped him up and held him to one side, perched on my growing tummy.

  ‘Is that comfy?’ I asked. Wilfred nodded again, seriously.

  I was in the kitchen making tea, with Wilfred sitting in his high chair, when Meryl came down. She was wearing a huge towelling bathrobe, she had dark circles under her eyes and her hair was wet and combed back flat. This was unprecedented. Meryl never comes downstairs unless she’s fully dressed with coiffed hair and pearls. She had her phone in her hand, and I could see she’d been crying.

  ‘Morning,’ I said cautiously. ‘You fancy a cuppa?’

  She nodded and slumped into a chair.

  ‘Wilfred is still eating paper,’ I said, but Meryl seemed distracted.

  ‘That slimy toad,’ she hissed. ‘Tony has just RSVP’d to the Twelvetrees.’

  ‘Who’s that?’

  ‘Mark and Sandra Twelvetrees. They’re both conservative councillors, and every year they hold an Easter Egg Hunt and finger buffet at their house in the country. Tony has RSVP’d - and he’s taking Mai Ling! Chinese whore!’

  ‘Little ears can hear,’ I said indicating Wilfred.

  ‘She’s twenty-four, Coco! How can I compete with that?’

  I’d never seen Meryl so close to the edge before.

  ‘Coco,’ she said gulping nervously. ‘I feel I trust you, and I’d like your opinion on something.’

  ‘Sure,’ I said. Meryl gulped and rose to her feet, with her back to Wilfred, she closed her eyes, untied her bathrobe, and yanked it open. She was stark naked underneath!

  ‘Tell me, what do you think?’ she asked. Adam walked into the kitchen.

  ‘Whoa!’ he said covering his eyes. Meryl screamed and pulled her robe shut.

  ‘Adam, what are you doing?’ I asked.

  ‘What am I doing?
What are you doing?’

  Meryl turned crimson and ran from the kitchen. ‘Is this an April Fool’s?’ he added.

  ‘Don’t be so stupid,’ I said. ‘Watch Wilfred for a minute.’ I came upstairs and knocked on the door to the spare room.

  ‘Go away,’ said Meryl.

  ‘Meryl, please let me in…’ After a moment she opened the door. I came and perched on the bed. She was sat with her back to me, brushing her wet hair. She couldn’t even look at herself in the mirror.

  ‘I want to die Coco, I actually want to die.’

  ‘It was an accident,’ I said. ‘And Adam is fine. He once walked in on Ethel when she was on the loo, which was far worse, believe me.’

  Meryl smiled weakly.

  ‘What made you flash me in the kitchen?’ I asked.

  ‘I don’t have friends like Marika and Chris.’

  ‘I don’t flash at Marika and Chris.’

  ‘But you’re open with them. You can talk about things. Look at me. I’m old. Alone. I’ve lost my figure and I’m a fool. Now you and Adam are just going to think about my decrepit naked body every time you see me…’ She started to sob. ‘I’m a single middle-aged mother. No one is going to want me.’

  ‘Meryl. Meryl, look at me,’ I said. She turned to me with red eyes. I took a deep breath, stood up, and yanked open my robe, where underneath I was naked too. She gasped.

  ‘Now we’re even,’ I grinned closing it. Meryl gulped.

  ‘Your bosoms, er, well they’re blooming,’ she said, as if they were Hydrangeas at the Chelsea Flower Show.

  ‘Yours are pretty good too.’

  ‘Really?’

  ‘Yes. Really. You’ve kept your figure Meryl.’

  She turned and looked at herself in the mirror. ‘And what about?’ she bit her lip.

  ‘What about what?’

  ‘My down below…’

  ‘Oh. I wasn’t really looking, there,’ I said. Now I felt uncomfortable.

  ‘I think I’ve got, what’s the phrase? A big hedge?’

  ‘It’s bush.’

  ‘Yes, I think I’ve got a big bush. Now your bush is nicely trimmed, Coco.’ We were back in Chelsea Flower Show territory. ‘Is that what men like?’ she added.

  ‘Meryl. What do you like? That’s the most important thing. You. Don’t do anything to please a man. What does Tony like?’

  ‘The lights out,’ she said bitterly. ‘Although now he’s ordered in Chinese, I’m sure he likes the bedroom lit up like Pyongyang.’

  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Pyongyang was in North Korea.

  ‘Come on Meryl, you can’t mope; you need to pull yourself together, look forward not backwards. Put yourself out there.’

  ‘Should I plug in my Carmen rollers?’

  ‘That’s a start,’ I said.

  ‘Coco… Would you perhaps ask Adam what he thought? When he saw me in the altogether. Of course don’t let him know I asked you to ask, just find out casually and tell me the truth. Even if it’s not good. Promise?’

  I nodded and promised. It was the weirdest promise I’ve ever made, but Meryl seemed happier when I left.

  I came back downstairs. Adam had made me a fruit smoothie and was feeding Wilfred some chopped up banana and apple. I put my arms round him.

  ‘What?’ he asked.

  ‘Just thank you, for being you. Dependable, warm, sexy…’ Adam went to pick up another piece of banana and stopped.

  ‘Meryl hasn’t persuaded you into some threesome?’ he asked, cautiously.

  ‘No!’

  ‘Thank God, because you are a people pleaser Cokes.’

  ‘I’m not that much of a people pleaser. Anyway, she’s fine now, she’s settled, and we’re cool.’

  There was a thunderous sound as Meryl roared down the stairs, holding her phone out in front of her.

  ‘According to Tony’s Facebook profile, he’s ‘in a relationship’ with Mai Ling Wong Fook!’

  We were both rather shocked. This split must be serious. I had hoped it would all blow over. A horrible part of me is worried that we may be stuck with Meryl for a long time.

  Monday 2nd April

  Agent Fergie is number #63,445 on Amazon UK

  I received an email from Chloe to say I am booked in for my appearance on ‘This Morning’ on Thursday. A car will come and collect me at eight that morning to take me to The London Studios in Waterloo! If that wasn’t exciting enough, she said I’ve been paid the last part of my advance.

  I realised I had nothing to wear on ‘This Morning’, and didn’t think the Victorian evening/funeral outfit would cut it.

  I phoned Rosencrantz and he offered to take me shopping. An hour later I met him and his other housemate Wayne at Bond Street tube station. Rosencrantz looked gorgeous, dressed casually in jeans and a jumper, every inch the personal shopper. Wayne was a bit more eclectic, wearing a purple three-piece suit with a white 18th-century style ruff at his neck.

  ‘Oh Mrs P,’ he purred clasping a pudgy hand dripping with gold rings to his ruff. ‘You’re blooming, elegant and enceinte… it’s the French word for pregnant.’

  ‘Hello boys,’ I said hugging them both.

  ‘Now, I’ve taken the liberty of pulling a few outfits for you,’ said Wayne.

  ‘What he means is, I had a look round the ladies’ department of Selfridges, whilst he was in Mc Donald’s filling up on hash browns,’ said Rosencrantz.

  ‘Handsome and funny yet can’t get any acting work?’ said Wayne.

  ‘I love the cut of your suit, Wayne. Where do the guy-ropes attach?’ asked Rosencrantz.

  ‘I’m big boned, you cocky streak of piss!’ shrieked Wayne.

  ‘Boys, boys, let’s be nice,’ I said. The boys took an arm each and we walked along Oxford Street. Wayne explained he now has a job as the Wig Master on the musical Chicago, which is still going strong at the Cambridge Theatre.

  ‘Would you like a wig for ‘This Morning’, Mrs P?’ he asked. ‘I know you can’t colour being enceinte,’ he stopped me outside Boots and started fingering my roots.

  ‘Hmmm. Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly might be a bit severe for you… Mama Morton would drown you, but at a push I could get you Mary Sunshine’s wig? She’s a strawberry blond, like you.’

  ‘I’m okay thanks love,’ I said. ‘I just want to look elegant and normal, and preferably not pregnant.’

  We carried on walking.

  ‘The Duchess of Cornwall wore something very forgiving at her wedding to Prince Charles, we could couple it with a fan of leaves on your head?’ said Wayne.

  We reached the entrance to Selfridges and Wayne made a big fuss of opening the door.

  ‘Don’t let him make me look like Camilla,’ I muttered to Rosencrantz as we passed.

  ‘Don’t worry. I’ve seen some good stuff,’ he whispered back with a grin.

  I find most clothes shops intimidating, but Selfridges almost tipped me over. There was so much gorgeous stuff and so many gorgeous people swanning about.

  ‘What about hot pink to contrast with Philip Schofield’s lovely grey hair?’ suggested Wayne when we were surrounded by racks of clothes. ‘Holly Willoughby always goes for something bright and bold…’

  ‘She’s not wearing hot pink,’ said Rosencrantz. I ploughed through rack after rack of size tens.

  ‘There’s nothing!’ I said, beginning to panic. ‘It’s all for teenage girls!’

  ‘This is divine!’ said Wayne shoving a long A-line silk dress with no straps at me. ‘We could get you a tiara from Claire’s accessories?’

  I looked at Rosencrantz.

  ‘Wayne would you be a dear and get Mum some orange juice? I think she’s got low blood sugar…’ said Rosencrantz.

  ‘Oh, Mrs P, of course!’ he said and rushed off.

  ‘Why did you bring Wayne?’ I asked.

  ‘He loves you Mum. He thinks you’re an inspiration… he’s thinking of being you next Halloween.’

  I started to protest
.

  ’Take it as a compliment, Mum.’

  ‘Ok, ok… But what am I going to wear?’ I asked.

  ‘Right I think you should wear tight black trousers or even a jean. Your legs are wonderfully thin, let’s maximise that. Then on top we’ll put you in this.’

  He pulled out a royal blue blouse, with a lovely modern cut and mid-length sleeves.

  ‘It’s maternity, so it will accommodate your bump nicely, and you can have the neck open. We can mix it with some chunky jewellery and these.’

  He crossed to a display, and held up some cool black leather boots with a towering spiked heel.

  ‘Those? I’m having balance issues in my trainers,’ I said.

  ‘Even if you put them on just before you sit on the sofa, they’ll make your legs look hot.’ he said.

  I wasn’t convinced, but we found the changing rooms and I tried the lot on. I had to keep hold of the wall for balance, but dressed up and in the heels I looked great.

  ‘Let your hair down Mum, past your shoulders.’

  I fluffed my hair down, and regarded myself in the mirror.

  ‘Oh my gosh, I look, I look…’

  ‘You look hot Mum, and young and cool,’ said Rosencrantz.

  ‘Thanks love,’ I said. I went to hug him but I had to grab hold of the curtain for balance. ‘Are you sure I’ll manage in these boots?’

  ‘You’ll be sitting down Mum, it’s fine.’

  Wayne came back with some posh orange juice, and was reluctantly pleased to find I was sorted out. When we went through the till it came to nearly four hundred pounds! It’s okay, I thought, Adam has a job.

  I took the boys for a drink afterwards in the bar. I love the rush of a good shopping session followed by a posh drink. We ordered cocktails; mine was a virgin, obviously.

  ‘So what else are you going to spend your book advance on?’ asked Rosencrantz.

  ‘We have to get a new car, which will probably take up the rest of it,’ I said.

  ‘Ooh, Mrs. P, I know someone who’s selling a car!’ said Wayne. He’s gorgeous, half-Greek, half-cockney. He delivers theatrical props to the theatre. He doesn’t want much, needs a quick sale.’

 
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