The coco pinchard boxset.., p.75
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.75

           Robert Bryndza
 

  ‘Ok, but don’t say it’s an intervention. We’re telling Rosencrantz it’s my baby shower because he won’t come if he knows it’s an intervention, which it’s not; it’s more of a talk.’

  ‘So it’s a talk which is in fact an intervention disguised as a baby shower,’ she said.

  ‘Yes.’

  ‘Should I bring a breast pump?’

  ‘Why would you need a breast pump?’

  ‘It’s for you Coco. As a present, if we’re pretending it’s a baby shower.’

  ’Okay, yes, thank you.’

  ‘And a plate of intervention cupcakes. Sorry, baby shower cupcakes.’

  ‘Yes, thank you,’ I said.

  ‘It’s going to be okay Coco. You’re a good mum,’ she said.

  I was rather touched. Rosencrantz came back later on with a big bag of pink and blue balloons.

  ‘I got you these for the baby shower Mum,’ he said. I took the bag from him. The balloons were blue and had IT’S A BOY and IT’S A GIRL written on them in black.

  ‘Thank you,’ I said. Adam had to go to work so we spent an awkward evening watching television together. As far as I could see he didn’t drink to excess. Okay, five vodkas, but how many nights in the past have I knocked back five vodkas?

  Adam came home late and climbed into bed beside me.

  ‘I’ve been thinking about how you define an alcoholic,’ I said. ‘I looked it up on my phone and it says that men can only drink twenty-one units of alcohol a week and women fourteen! Do you know what one glass of wine is?’

  ‘Three units,’ he said.

  ‘Three units. How many friends do we have who drink three glasses of wine a night and function perfectly.’

  ‘Coco, you’re not helping. We have to do this,’ he said.

  Thursday 14th June

  I’m starting to look really ragged after another night of no sleep. Rosencrantz didn’t go out, and was up fairly early, which made planning a secret intervention/baby shower all the more difficult.

  ‘You’re not very prepared for this baby shower,’ said Rosencrantz when we were having breakfast. ‘The only thing you’ve got is that bag of balloons I bought.’

  So Adam went out afterwards and bought decorations; baby shower streamers, helium balloons, and some little platters of food from Marks. We had such a pleasant morning hanging things up, I felt rotten.

  Four o’clock finally rolled around and people started to arrive. Daniel and Jennifer, Meryl, Ethel with her friend Irene, Chris, Marika and Milan. Rosencrantz was even on the bloody door taking people’s coats.

  ‘No one seems to have brought any presents,’ said Rosencrantz popping his head round the kitchen door as I was mixing up a jug of home-made lemonade. I was now sweating and very tense.

  ‘It’s okay love, um, I’ve asked for a lot of online vouchers,’ I lied.

  ‘Okay,’ he said and went back out taking the jug of lemonade.

  ‘There is nothing wrong with him,’ I hissed. ‘This is going to send him over the edge and make things worse!’

  ‘Just keep calm,’ said Adam.

  ‘It’s all right for you to say, but what if it was your daughter? I’d love to know what she gets up to!’

  Daniel came into the kitchen.

  ‘Cokes, are you mad? Rosencrantz seems fine. He just helped Jennifer change the batteries in her Weight Watchers’ calculator.’

  ‘What?’ I said.

  ‘She’s got this little calculator which adds up the points of food. It takes these tiny hearing aid batteries, really fiddly and we’re both hopeless. Rosencrantz did it in a second.’

  ‘You see,’ I said to Adam. Meryl then came in.

  ‘It all looks lovely in the living room Coco, do you want the intervention cupcakes out? Or should I do them when we actually have the intervention?’

  ‘Meryl!’

  ‘Sorry baby shower cupcakes, I keep forgetting. Shall I put them on that nice plate on the coffee table?’

  ‘Yes, whatever,’ I said.

  ‘Tony isn’t coming Coco… He’s having problems with Mai Ling…’

  ‘What kind of problems?’

  ‘She’s asked if they can have an open relationship… Since she’s left China her eyes have been opened to the world.’

  ‘In Milton Keynes?’

  ‘Yes! Now Coco, please don’t bash Milton Keynes. We’ve got a lovely leisure centre, the National Museum of Computing, there’s even an indoor ski slope…’

  ‘Meryl I can’t deal with this right now.’

  ‘All I wanted to say was that Tony sends his best. We’ve been chatting on the phone a bit lately, just as friends…’

  ‘I’m pleased Meryl,’ I said.

  ‘Thank you Coco. I’ll get these cupcakes on a plate…’

  She went out and Chris and Marika came in. She gave me a hug.

  ‘Are you okay Cokes?’

  ‘No, this just seems all wrong.’

  ‘Coco, I’ve been in contact with Pathways Addiction Centre…’ said Chris.

  ‘No! No. We’re going to talk to him, and then it’s going to be fine,’ I said. Ethel then came in, still wearing her coat with her handbag clutched to her chest.

  ‘Mum let me take your coat,’ said Daniel. ‘You must be boiling.’

  ‘Ooh no. This is me best coat and I’ve got my savings book in ’ere. I’m still down twelve quid thanks to you-know-who,’ said Ethel cocking her head towards the living room.

  ‘You didn’t say anything Ethel?’ I said.

  ‘Not I ’aven’t. But I’m telling you Coco ’e needs a good clip round the ear, not this baby shower!’

  ‘It’s an intervention Mum,’ said Daniel.

  ‘Speaking of which, your Jennifer is motoring through them intervention cupcakes,’ said Ethel. ‘I tried to get near the plate an’ she nearly bit me hand off!’

  ‘Mum, you promised you’d be nice,’ said Daniel.

  ‘Watching ’er reminds of that game you ’ad as a kid – Hungry Hippo.’

  ‘Mum! You will not call my girlfriend a hungry hippo!’

  Just then the doorbell rang and I edged past everyone to answer. It was midwife Justine dressed in jeans and a jumper. She was standing with a man in his fifties wearing a glittery gold suit.

  ‘Sorry to bother you Mrs Pinchard,’ she grinned. ‘We were just passing and I was going to pop your birth plan through the letter box, now I’ve photocopied it, but I see you’re having a baby shower!’

  I looked past them and saw that Rosencrantz had tied the baby shower balloons all along the railings in front of the house.

  ‘Oh, this is my father, Brian,’ said Justine. The man in the gold suit smiled and we shook hands. ‘I’m driving him to a gig, in the City, and we had to pass your house.’

  Rosencrantz came up to the front door.

  ‘A gig?’ I said.

  ‘Yes. Dad’s a Magician,’ grinned Justine.

  ‘The Magnificent Brian at your service,’ he said and pulled a big bunch of silk flowers out of his sleeve. I took them from him.

  ‘Cool. You hired a magician Mum?’ said Rosencrantz.

  ‘No, they’re on the way to a gig,’ I said handing the flowers back to him.

  ‘Well, we’ve got twenty minutes,’ said The Magnificent Brian. ‘I was so pleased to read the book you signed for Justine. I could come in and do a few tricks for your guests?’

  Justine nodded and flashed her Wallace and Grommit grin.

  ‘Wicked,’ said Rosencrantz. ‘Can I take your coats?’

  They came in and I closed the door. I went to the downstairs bathroom and stood for a few minutes, trying not to panic. I splashed my face with a little cold water, dried it and didn’t feel any better.

  I came into the living room to find my intervention in full swing. The Magnificent Brian was asking Meryl to pick a card, any card and he had a rapt audience, including Rosencrantz. Ethel had been presented with the giant bunch of silk coloured flowers and she and Irene were looki
ng as if they’d caught the bouquet at a wedding.

  The doorbell went again and I came back out dreading to think who it would be. I opened the door to Wayne and Oscar. Wayne was wearing a bright yellow three-piece suit and Oscar was in jeans a shirt and had his broken nose in a splint.

  ‘We’re here for you, and Rosencrantz, but only because we respect you,’ said Wayne. Chris and Marika came into the hall with Adam.

  ‘Coco what the fuck is going on?’ said Chris. ‘There’s a magician in there who’s just made a budgie appear out of Meryl’s handbag, and now it won’t come down off the top of the curtain!’

  ‘It’s not my fault,’ I said.

  ‘You are not taking this seriously!’ hissed Chris. He grabbed Adam and they went upstairs.

  ‘Coco, we have to do this, and we have to do it now,’ said Marika. Oscar was shaking.

  ‘Come on love, it’s okay,’ said Wayne. When we went back into the living room, everyone was standing round The Magnificent Brian. The Budgie was on his finger whilst midwife Justine fed it little bits of cupcake. Rosencrantz saw Wayne and Oscar.

  ‘What are they doing here?’ he asked.

  ‘Oh Coco,’ said midwife Justine. ‘Dad’s budgie loves these intervention cupcakes…’

  Everyone froze.

  ‘Intervention cupcakes?’ said Rosencrantz. Then Chris and Adam marched in with Rosencrantz’s backpack. Chris pushed the cake plate to one side and emptied out bottles of pills, vodka miniatures and a small bag of what looked like cocaine. We all stared at Rosencrantz.

  ‘What are you doing?’ asked Rosencrantz in shock.

  ‘So it is your bag?’ said Chris.

  ‘You took it from my room,’ said Rosencrantz. ‘Of course you put all that in there…Mum, Chris and Adam put that in there… Mum!’

  ‘’E ’ad twelve quid out my ’andbag too!’ said Ethel.

  ‘Nan, I never took that money from you… Mum, what’s going on?’ He was crying. ‘They’re trying to turn you against me.’

  ‘We just all want to talk to you,’ I said starting to cry softly. ‘Just talk.’

  Rosencrantz eyed everyone in the living room. ‘You went so far that you even hired a magician?’

  ‘We should get going,’ said The Magnificent Brian tucking the budgie into his gold jacket.

  ‘Spare us the tears Rosencrantz!’ shouted Wayne. ‘Look at what you did to Oscar! You! It’s a fucking intervention love, and you need it.’

  ‘Wayne!’ I said. ‘Let’s all calm down.’

  Rosencrantz’s eyes started to dart round the room. He lunged for what was on the table, I tried to grab it from him but he pushed me, I lost balance and fell forward, catching my head on the edge of the coffee table. All hell broke loose as Adam and Chris tried to grab Rosencrantz. Midwife Justine ran to help me up off the floor. Rosencrantz managed to get past everyone and darted out of the living room, followed by Chris, Milan and Adam.

  The next few minutes were a blur. I saw stars. Marika brought me some tea. Meryl started popping the balloons with her brooch pin, until Ethel told her to stop. Then I felt sick and Marika took me up to the bathroom, where I threw up. When I came back downstairs, Chris, Adam and Milan were in the kitchen, soaking wet. There was a storm outside and rain was smashing against the windows. Everyone else had left.

  ‘Cokes, are you alright?’ asked Adam checking my bruised head.

  ‘Yes.’

  ‘He pushed you over. You’re eight months pregnant…’

  ‘He was scared. Where is he?’ I said.

  ‘He got away,’ said Chris. ‘With a bag of cocaine and amphetamines…and pain killers.’

  ‘Okay Chris!’ I said.

  ‘Do you still think there’s no problem Coco?’

  ‘Just go,’ I said. ‘Everyone go.’

  When they’d left I sat in the kitchen and watched the storm increase as the darkness fell. Rocco whined and curled up in his bed, and I heard Adam moving about in the living room, clearing away the decorations. Just before nine, the landline rang. Adam answered but I couldn’t make out what he was saying.

  He came through and handed me the phone.

  ‘Coco, it’s Chris.’

  ‘What?’ I said.

  ‘I’m at my old house. Rosencrantz is here, and so are the police,’ said Chris.

  ‘You called the police?’

  ‘No. Rosencrantz forced the lock and it set the alarms off, I got here just as the police did.’

  ‘Can’t you tell them it’s an accident?’

  ‘This is Crown Land Coco, you know how close Clarence House is, police presence is high. And I think Rosencrantz has drugs on him.’

  ‘Shit. He really has a problem?’

  ‘He does hun… You need to get here fast, and if you’ll let me, I think I can sort it out.’

  I met Chris fifteen minutes later outside his house off Regent’s Park. The wind and rain were still pelting down. Two police cars and a big white minibus were outside. Chris was sheltering in the front door porch with the two police officers. He came and hugged me.

  ‘Where’s Adam?’ asked Chris.

  ‘He didn’t come. He thinks he might do something he regrets if he sees Rosencrantz.’

  ‘Thanks guys,’ said Chris to the police. We went in through the front door. We turned the corner into the living room and Rosencrantz was sitting against the wall wearing his backpack. I went to hug him but he got up and stepped back.

  ‘Why did you stop loving me?’ he said. Tears were coursing down his face. ‘I thought I was your baby?’

  ‘You are my baby,’ I said.

  ‘How can I ever face anyone again? Police outside… I’ve ruined everything.’

  ‘You haven’t,’ I said. ‘But look at this, look at what’s happening. You brought drugs into the house. You broke in here and the police are waiting outside. I want you to get help.’

  ‘What? Rehab? Who is going to want to have anything to do with me after being sent to rehab?’

  ‘Rosencrantz. I’ve been to rehab,’ said Chris.

  ‘I don’t believe you.’

  ‘It’s true. In 1986 my boyfriend died and I went completely off the rails. I tried to take my own life. Your mum saved me Rosencrantz, now let me repay her the favour and help to save you.’

  Rosencrantz looked around Chris’s empty house, the police lights flashing against the bare walls. It seemed to finally sink in that the game was up.

  ‘They’re not going to stick needles in me, are they?’

  ‘No,’ said Chris.

  ‘What if they don’t let me out?’

  ‘If you go voluntarily, all will be fine. It’s just a couple of weeks where you get to sleep and get back to your old self. Look, I’m fine, years later. Although I’m still single, they couldn’t do anything about that.’

  Rosencrantz gave us a weak grin and nodded.

  ‘Let me have your backpack,’ said Chris. Rosencrantz let him gently slide it off his shoulders.

  ‘It’s now or never,’ said Chris. Rosencrantz nodded and allowed us to take him outside. We passed the two police officers and went to the white minibus. Three men emerged, thankfully not dressed in white. Rosencrantz signed a form and got in the bus. The door slid across with a slam. It had Pathways written across it in red letters. I went to press my hand against the window but it drove away into the darkness of the outer circle.

  ‘You told him a couple of weeks but you were in for four, weren’t you?’ I said.

  ‘Rosencrantz will be too. And he’s signed to say he can’t leave voluntarily,’ said Chris. ‘Sorry, it was the only way.’

  Friday 15th June

  The house was listed by the estate agent at nine this morning. At 9.04 I got a phone call from Meryl. I was still in bed when I answered.

  ‘Coco. Your house is for sale!’ I pulled my ear away from her shrill voice.

  ‘Let me guess? Google Alerts?’ I said.

  ‘Yes… Coco our house is much bigger than yours, yet yo
u are asking, well quite a lot.’

  ‘It’s the market rate Meryl, and it’s London,’ I said sitting up in bed. Adam opened his eyes beside me.

  ‘What’s wrong with Milton Keynes?’ she asked.

  ‘Nothing.’

  ‘Are you going to give Daniel half?’

  ‘No.’

  ‘He lived there for twenty years. He helped with its upkeep!’

  ‘In all our years together the only ‘upkeep’ Daniel took part in was glueing the handle back on his Who Shot JR? mug. Now I have lots to do,’ I said, and I hung up.

  Then an email pinged through on my phone to say that for the next twenty-eight days Rosencrantz will be in the care of the Pathways Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre in West London. He can have no contact with us, nor we with him. And visitors aren’t allowed. Adam leaned over and kissed me. He inspected the bruise on my head.

  ‘You should have this seen to.’

  ‘I’m fine,’ I said, and showed him the email.

  ‘He’s a lucky kid. Rehab will set Chris back a few grand.’

  ‘He’s not a lucky kid…’

  Adam was silent. Then an email popped up to say that the house was now listed for sale,

  “A truly delightful, three-bedroom period house with private garden within walking distance of Regent’s Park. The property provides excellent entertaining space with high ceilings and comprises a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, two further bedrooms, bathroom, music room, a beautiful living room with a bay window and access to the garden, a fitted kitchen, and terrace. Each room has its original Regency fireplace.

  Steeplejack Mews is located on the eastern side of Regent's Park, just north of Marylebone Road and is only a short walk to Great Portland Street and Baker Street underground stations, as well as numerous shops, bars and restaurants.”

  It sounded entirely different to the house we were in, after all that had happened yesterday.

  Saturday 16th June

  Today was my birthday. I’m forty-five. Adam fielded phone calls from Meryl and Tony, and Ethel, who had all clubbed together and bought me a £5 Debenhams gift voucher. Then Daniel rang to say he’d only just remembered it was my birthday, and that he’d email a £5 Debenhams voucher asap. I haven’t set foot inside a Debenhams since the early 1990s… but still.

 
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