The coco pinchard boxset.., p.74
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.74
 

           Robert Bryndza

  ‘Bloody hell,’ said Marika getting out of the car and pulling off her shades. The lake shimmered in the far distance and deer stood in groups nibbling at the lush grass.

  ‘It’s too big,’ I said. ‘It’s a crazy idea, it’s –’

  ‘It’s amazing mate,’ said Milan to Adam.

  ‘Cokes, Adam, You’re so lucky,’ said Marika all breathy and shiny-eyed. She reached out and grabbed Milan’s hand, he winked at her.

  ‘What’s going on with you two?’ I asked. They exchanged another meaningful look.

  ‘Nothing, let’s see the house,’ said Marika. I was shocked how much the garden had grown since we were last there. The grass was ankle height as we walked up to the front door. I could see through the dirty pane of glass that there was more junk mail. We lifted the old mat and underneath was a large key. Adam’s phone rang so he ducked to one side and took the call. I put the key in and after a couple of tries got the stiff lock open.

  ‘This is okay Cokes,’ said Marika as we went into the kitchen. ‘It needs a bit of modernisation.’

  ‘Come and see upstairs,’ I said. Adam was standing at the bottom of the stairs when we came back down.

  ‘That was Bonham & Son,’ he said. ‘They’re going to list the house on Monday morning!’

  I leaned back feeling a bit faint.

  ‘You okay Cokes?’ asked Marika.

  ‘Yes, it’s just a big change. I’ve lived in that house my whole life. Everything is changing.’

  I started to tell them about Rosencrantz but I noticed Marika and Milan exchanging yet another look.

  ‘What is it guys?’ I said. ‘Tell the truth, do you think we’re making a big mistake?’

  Marika came and sat beside me.

  ‘I think we can tell them,’ said Milan. I looked between them.

  ‘Coco, Adam,’ said Marika. ‘I’m pregnant.’

  ‘What?’ I said.

  ‘With twins,’ she added. My mouth dropped open.

  ‘You’re kidding?’ said Adam.

  ‘No. I’m twelve weeks’ pregnant, with twins… it wasn’t expected,’ said Marika. ‘In fact I’ve had no symptoms. It was only the other week when I started throwing up with stomach pains that I went to the doctor…’

  ‘I thought she had appendicitis,’ said Milan.

  ‘But you’d knocked her up you dirty dog,’ grinned Adam. I was still in shock.

  ‘You’re fine, right Cokes?’ said Marika.

  ‘Of course, yes.’ I gave her a big hug. ‘When are you due?’

  ‘December the twenty second,’ grinned Milan with his cute smile. He pulled an ultrasound scan photo out of the back pocket of his jeans and proudly thrust it at us. We could make out two little babies’ heads with limbs intertwined.

  ‘I didn’t want to steal your thunder Cokes,’ said Marika.

  ‘No! You haven’t,’ I said, grinning.

  ‘We didn’t bring anything to toast with,’ said Milan.

  ‘The water!’ said Adam. ‘You have to see our well!’ He went through the hall and out the glass back door followed by Milan.

  Marika helped me up and we followed. The moss on the patio had dried a little in the heat, but the grass around the well was now very tall. The boys were fiddling around with the lid.

  ‘Don’t hate me for saying this…but are you sure about this?’ I said. Marika’s eyes filled up and she wiped one with the sleeve of her denim jacket.

  ‘No.’

  ‘Oh…’ I said.

  ‘But I’ve never felt so at home with someone. It’s never been this easy before. I’ve never felt so loved… He’s got no baggage. He’s my best friend, and I don’t want to keep trudging on through life without him…’

  ‘Well you sound sure to me,’ I said giving her another hug. ‘Have you told your mother?’

  ‘Yesterday. Milan told his mother too.’

  ‘Were they pleased?’

  ‘They were until we said we weren’t getting married.’

  ‘You shouldn’t get married just to please other people, it’s a big commitment.’

  ‘I think having his twins inside me, and being officially on his mortgage makes that a moot point.’

  ‘A moo point.’ I grinned, and then made a silly mooing noise. Marika smiled.

  ‘I love you Cokes,’ she said.

  ‘I know. I love you too. We’re going to be mothers together!’

  Marika nodded. ‘But you’re moving away Cokes…’ We looked at each other, realising this.

  ‘Come on you two!’ shouted Adam. ‘We need to toast!’

  We made our way over to the well. The boys had pulled up a bucket full of water and we all scooped up a handful and drank.

  ‘Nice water mate!’ said Milan. ‘It’s rich and sweet.’

  Everyone nodded and smacked their lips. I looked across at Marika who was biting back tears. Then I started crying.

  ‘What’s going on?’ said Adam.

  ‘I’m moving away from my best friend in the world…’ I said. ‘We’re going to have babies and they won’t be able to play together.’

  ‘Sure they will, you’ll still see each other,’ said Adam.

  ‘Yeah, we’ll make sure of it,’ agreed Milan. We nodded along, but we both knew we’d see each other less, and it took a bit of the excitement out of the news.

  On the way home, I sat in the back with Marika and listened to her chatting away about the future and her twins. Adam and Milan sat in the front basking in their virility and talking microbreweries. I felt weird. Like I was a hundred years old. I’ve brought up a son, loved and lost a twenty-year marriage, and it’s now dust. So far in the past. It all went so wrong and now I’m doing it all again. I decided not to mention what was happening with Rosencrantz; it would just spoil the day.

  We dropped Marika and Milan by Covent Garden. They invited us to come for dinner, but I made the excuse that I was exhausted. In reality I wanted to get back and check on Rosencrantz.

  We came home to find empty beer bottles everywhere and vomit in the downstairs toilet. Rosencrantz was nowhere to be found. Rocco was waiting at the front door whimpering with his head low and wagging his tail frantically. He can’t have been let out because he’d left a huge puddle in the kitchen.

  ‘It’s okay, it’s okay, I’m not mad with you,’ I said crouching down to cuddle him.

  ‘But I’m fucking mad with Rosencrantz,’ said Adam. I gave Rocco another cuddle and ruffled his fur.

  We waited up, but Rosencrantz didn’t come home. We went to bed around one, but nothing.

  ‘He’s twenty-three Coco. That little baby inside you is seven months. You need get some sleep for him.’

  Monday 10th June

  We gave up trying to sleep at five and came downstairs to the kitchen. Adam let Rocco out into the garden and I put the kettle on. It was very quiet and warm. The sun was coming up and there was just a faint tweeting of birds.

  ‘What if he’s dead somewhere?’ I said.

  ‘He’s not dead,’ said Adam. ‘He’d better not be dead. I want him to tell me what he thought of my first batch of beer.’

  ‘That’s not funny.’

  The landline started to ring. I jumped and knocked over the mug I was filling with tea.

  ‘I’ll get it,’ said Adam. Tea ran off the kitchen island and splattered on the floor.

  He went to the hall, and picked up the phone. There was silence. Then he came through with the handset.

  ‘It’s Ethel. Rosencrantz is at her place.’

  ‘Thank God.’ I grabbed the phone. ‘Ethel? Is he okay?’

  ‘’E’s okay love. Well, if you call turning up at four in the morning three sheets to the wind okay… Gave the warden quite a fright ’e did. Looks like ’e ain’t seen soap an’ a flannel in days…’

  I quickly told Ethel what was happening.

  ‘’Ave yer told Danny?’ she asked.

  ‘No.’

  ‘Well ’e’s ’is father, ’e deserves to kno
w…’

  ‘Yes he does,’ I said feeling guilty.

  ‘Danny was a good dad, always kept Rosencrantz up to date with Lego.’

  ‘What?’

  ‘Well Rosencrantz loved ’is Lego an’ Danny never scrimped. I read in the Daily Mail that bein’ denied stuff as a kiddy may lead to booze addiction.’

  ‘So Rosencrantz having all the Lego he ever wanted means, what?’

  ‘I’m jus’ saying, Danny was a good dad…’

  ‘Ethel. I’m not blaming Daniel.’

  ‘Well it can be passed along in yer jeans. My Wilf’s mother, she liked a nip every now and again. An’ when she’d ’ad a few she used to sing along with the piano at some very rough pubs… An’ it wasn’t the done thing in those days.’

  ‘Rosencrantz is not an alcoholic!’

  Ethel was quiet.

  ‘’E’s on my settee, under a blanket. Maybe ’e should stay there today, sleep it off?’

  ‘Okay.’ I said.

  ‘An’ love, try to get some sleep yourself. You sound ragged.’

  We went back to bed, and woke up at three in the afternoon with the phone ringing. It was Ethel again.

  ‘Is Rosencrantz still with you?’ I asked.

  ‘Yes love, ’e’s in the bath… Irene is ’ere and we’re making a spread. Tinned salmon sandwiches and Angel Delight.’

  I heard Irene shouting something in the background.

  ‘Yes love you can eat the spinal column, no one else likes it… That’s Irene, she’s just opened the tin of salmon.’

  ‘He can’t stay with you Ethel. I need to talk to him about his behaviour.’

  ‘’E can stay the night.’

  ‘Ethel, spoiling him won’t solve his problems.’

  ‘’Ave you told Danny yet?’

  ‘No.’

  ‘Well I will. Leave Rosencrantz with me, Angel Delight always used to sort ’im out.’

  I said I’d talk to her tomorrow. Adam lay beside me in bed and stroked my bump.

  ‘She says Angel Delight will sort it all out…’ I said.

  ‘Did she.’

  ‘I think it’s just a phase he’s going through… Don’t you? I drank a lot at university…’

  ‘He’s not at university Cokes.’

  ‘But actor’s live very much like students.’

  Adam looked at me for a long moment.

  ‘I have to work tonight,’ he said.

  ‘Oh,’ I sighed.

  ‘Why don’t you come with me? Monday is dead… You could invite Marika, and Chris is about. You can all sit on the edge of the bar and admire me in my tight trousers. I’ll admire you in…’

  ‘In my tight trousers, in fact everything is now tight on me,’ I said.

  Adam kissed me.

  ‘I’m sorry about everything,’ I said.

  ‘What do you have to be sorry about?’

  ‘I spent all that time obsessing over bloody Regina Battenberg, and you were unhappy with life, and Rosencrantz ...’

  ‘I love you Coco. I love you for your honesty. I love you for your brain, I love you for your body.’

  ‘There’s a lot of that to love...’

  ‘I love you for your royalties,’ he grinned.

  ‘My royalties?’

  ‘Yeah, Agent Fergie must be raking it in.’

  ‘Do you think we’ll be okay?’

  ‘Of course. Things are going to work out; my flat is earning us money again… It’s all going to be fine,’ he said.

  I invited Marika to The Hop & Grape. Chris was in London too, so they both came and we sat at the end of the bar, talking to Adam in between customers.

  ‘You realise there are now six of us here,’ said Chris. ‘Us three, and three babies.’

  Marika was still in the first flush of being pregnant, where as I felt just flushed.

  ‘I can’t believe you two are drinking Schloer,’ said Chris. ‘It’s what middle-class women drink at picnics when they’re driving.’

  ‘What should we have?’ said Marika.

  ‘Have a virgin cocktail or at least a J20… Cool people drink J20.’

  ‘I think a virgin cocktail will just make me want to drink,’ said Marika.

  ‘Promise me you won’t turn into those women at picnics when you have these babies. And don’t forget about me…’ said Chris.

  ‘I didn’t forget about you when I had Rosencrantz.’

  ‘No. You weren’t a helicopter parent. These days babies are like little gods. I was in the Westfield Shopping Centre last week, when I heard a woman say to her screaming eighteen-month-old, ‘Okay what do you want to do?’’

  ‘What did the baby want to do?’ asked Marika.

  ‘Lie in its pram and shit itself; what else can a baby do?’ said Chris.

  ‘So children should be seen and not heard?’

  ‘To a certain extent, yes. Don’t bring it to any coffee shop or bar until it can order its own drink. If I see anywhere with a babychino on the menu, I carry on walking.’

  ‘And to think I wanted you to be a Godparent.’ Marika grinned.

  ‘What do you mean I wasn’t a helicopter parent?’ I said.

  ‘You never fussed over Rosencrantz. You didn’t hover above him watching. You let him make mistakes, and look how he turned out… What?’ said Chris seeing my face.

  I told them about Rosencrantz. They listened with mounting horror, and were quiet when I’d finished. Adam came over and squeezed my hand.

  ‘I don’t know what to do,’ I said.

  ‘I can make a couple of phone calls; we could get him into rehab,’ said Chris gently. ‘Private and discreet of course.’

  ‘My son doesn’t need rehab.’

  ‘Coco, after everything you’ve told us, it sounds like Rosencrantz has a problem,’ said Chris softly.

  ‘Why are you saying that? God, you spend a few months in LA and suddenly Rosencrantz needs to go to rehab? Adam, tell them they’re stupid.’

  ‘I didn’t say anything,’ said Marika. ‘But if you’re asking, I agree with Chris.’

  ‘My son does not need to go to rehab. He needs…’

  ‘Tinned salmon sandwiches and Angel Delight with Ethel?’ said Adam.

  ‘You agree with them too? You said to give him time!’

  ‘Time to reach rock bottom? Coco there isn’t an expiration date on alcoholism. It usually gets worse.’

  ‘What makes you an expert?’

  ‘Sally the landlady here.’

  ‘Sally with the shaved head?’ I said.

  ‘Yes. She’s a raging alcoholic, she’s upstairs now. Drunk.’

  ‘Well she runs a pub.’

  ‘She’s a trained opera singer Cokes, but she can’t get any work; now she drinks herself unconscious most days,’ said Adam.

  ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’

  ‘It didn’t seem relevant until now.’

  ‘And, we can’t forget what happened to Rosencrantz when he went to America in 2009,’ said Chris.

  ‘No. It was an accident that he got stopped at customs with a joint in his suitcase…’

  Marika and Chris looked embarrassed.

  ‘It was! You both agreed with me... well we didn’t need to agree because… Rosencrantz is not an addict!’

  My phone rang. I grabbed it out of my bag. It was Ethel.

  ‘That little shit stole twelve quid out of me ’andbag!’ she shouted.

  ‘Rosencrantz?’

  ‘’Oo else? Thieving little bugger. We were in the kitchenette giving the Angel Delight a stir and we come back and ’e’s gone. Not a word of goodbye.’

  I came off the phone and told them he’d nicked money from Ethel.

  ‘What about an intervention Coco?’ suggested Chris.

  ‘Let’s call it a talk,’ said Marika. ‘What if we all sat him down and just talked?’

  I felt the walls of the pub close in on me.

  Wednesday 13th June

  After another night with no sleep, and no clue of
Rosencrantz’s whereabouts, Adam told me to seriously consider the intervention.

  ‘Rosencrantz is your son, but remember my son is inside you. He’s feeling all your stress and suffering. If we don’t do something, you might end up with no children.’

  I spent the morning on the phone feeling embarrassed and stupid, but bless my family and friends. They all said they would come over tomorrow afternoon. Adam suggested we tell Rosencrantz I’m having a baby shower. He’d be more likely to show up to one of those.

  Rosencrantz came back at midday, and went straight upstairs for a shower. We were in the kitchen having lunch.

  ‘I should go up to talk to him, should I go up?’ I said feeling terrified.

  ‘Let’s just remain cool, we don’t want to scare him off,’ said Adam.

  Rosencrantz came downstairs in clean clothes and grabbed a glass of orange juice. My heart was pounding when I mentioned I was having my baby shower tomorrow, and I’d love it if he could be there for a bit.

  ‘Okay Mum,’ he said. ‘What time?’

  ‘Four, four o’clock.’

  He finished his orange juice, put the glass in the dishwasher, and said he was going out. He gave Rocco a cuddle and left.

  ‘There’s nothing wrong with him,’ I said to Adam. ‘He was pleasant, agreeable. He’s drinking orange juice and getting his vitamins.’

  Adam picked Rosencrantz’s glass out of the dishwasher and sniffed it. He handed it to me.

  ‘Vodka and orange?’ I said putting it to my nose. ‘It’s barely lunchtime… And where did the vodka come from, I saw him get a glass…’ my voice trailed off.

  ‘Let’s pray he shows up,’ said Adam. Meryl phoned back in the afternoon, a little confused.

  ‘So Coco, can I ask again, what is this thing tomorrow?’ she asked.

  ‘We’re just going to talk to Rosencrantz about some things; he’s been drinking a bit too much.’

  ‘So it’s a talk?’

  ‘Yes a talk, or if I’m honest, an intervention.’

  ‘I’ve never been to an intervention before. Is it a sit down thing or just a buffet?’

  ‘It’s none of that. We’re just talking to Rosencrantz. The people he loves, to try and get him to see sense.’

  ‘Maybe some cupcakes would be nice, if we all get peckish at this intervention?’

 
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