The coco pinchard boxset.., p.8
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.8
 

           Robert Bryndza

  “I’d like to try again,” he said, exhaling smoke into the glowing sky. “I love you, and the thought of losing you like I nearly did Mum is just awful.”

  “You’re going away,” I said.

  “Not forever,” he said looking into my eyes. “I want to make it right. I’m sorry. I love you.”

  He kissed me. We slept together again, properly, in our bed. Why is high emotion such an aphrodisiac?

  Friday 6th March 17.33

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Marika can be so blunt sometimes. She phoned this morning to say my emails have become very “Mills and Boon”. She said she is deeply sorry about Ethel, but that I am sleepwalking back to Daniel, who is exploiting the situation to make himself feel better, and win me back. I hung up on her.

  Ethel, it seems, is tougher than we thought. At 3pm, she opened her eyes and told Meryl that she looked like she was retaining water, “Gallons of it.” At 3.15pm, the doctors ran tests to check for brain damage. She could not remember the Prime Minister’s name, but she did know who the current landlady is in Coronation Street. They are calling it an unprecedented recovery.

  Saturday 7th March 10.14

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I thought you would be supportive of my decision. What about when you and Marika have gone back to people who, in your case, were blatantly not right for you?

  Gus, the married banker? He dumped you three times and you had to pretend you were reading the gas meter when his wife caught you in their downstairs cupboard. And Marika wasted two years with John the PE teacher who destroyed her confidence and had her at his beck and call.

  Despite this, I always supported you. This is my marriage of twenty years. Family is family, you love them unconditionally.

  Now I have to go. That dickhead Tony has started a row about something with Rosencrantz.

  Saturday 7th March 12.05

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  Wherever you went, you can come home. Meryl and Tony have gone.

  Saturday 7th March 12.12

  TO: meryl.watson@yahoo.com

  In your haste to depart, you left your Carmen rollers.

  Coco

  Saturday 7th March 13.23

  TO: meryl.watson@yahoo.com

  Rosencrantz, where are you? Meryl and Tony have gone. I am sorry Tony got so nasty with you, the arrogant greasy bastard. They both vanished upstairs after you stormed out. An hour later, Meryl knocked on the living room door and they came in, all packed and dressed in cycling gear.

  “I think we’re going to leave,” said Meryl frostily and they walked out with their Lycra shorts whistling, slamming the front door.

  They’ll be back; we’re a free place to stay when they come to London.

  Do you think you will be home soon? Dad wants to play us some songs from Whistle Up The Wind. It’s ages since we all sat round the piano together.

  Saturday 7th March 15.01

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  Oh God! Oh God! Oh shit! I have just sent the email slagging off Meryl I was meant to send you to Meryl by mistake! Damn this email invention. In the olden days (pre-1994), if you mistakenly addressed mail you had so many ways of backing out at the last minute: not writing the envelope, not licking the stamp, not going to the postbox. Where are you?

  Saturday 7th March 15.54

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  This just arrived from your aunt. She thinks Tony won the argument.

  ATTACHMENT

  FROM: meryl.watson@yahoo.com

  TO: cocopinchard27@gmail.com

  Coco,

  You sent me an email by mistake. Was it destined for Rosencrantz maybe? Not wanting to pry, I have deleted it unread. However, my eyes could not help but pick out the word “bastard”. Why are you sending this to your son? Surely as a “writer” you could afford to put your point across more elegantly?

  We made it back on the tandem in two hours, fourteen minutes and twelve seconds. We did have the wind in our backs, and Tony is always a better cyclist after winning an argument.

  I will be popping down to see Mum in the week. Don’t worry. I won’t be staying. I will get the train.

  Meryl

  P.S. Re the Carmen rollers, I can think of several places you could put them. You take that big house for granted! Nevertheless, if they are really in your way, send them on and I will reimburse you for the postage.

  Saturday 7th March 16.30

  TO: meryl.watson@yahoo.com

  Dear Meryl,

  I’m pleased to hear you made it back on the tandem in record time. Has Tony calmed down after his row with Rosencrantz? It was a very trivial argument, don’t you think? I dug out one of my Harry Potter novels and looked up the house system at Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Houses are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin, not Silvikrin as Tony insisted.

  Rosencrantz was right. Silvikrin is a brand of hair shampoo designed to nourish, condition and pump up volume. Maybe whilst you are waiting for me to send your Carmen rollers you could try it. It could help you achieve the volume your hair lacks.

  Keep me posted with what you find out about nursing homes. I hope that what Mrs Braun said about getting the local authority to blacklist Ethel was just in the heat of the moment.

  Coco

  Monday 9th March 10.43

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  Who is this “friend” you are staying with? You’ll be back tomorrow to say goodbye to Dad, won’t you? I’m arranging a trip out to see him when his show is in Los Angeles at Easter. Would like to come?

  I have always asked you not to take sides. Please can you respect that now? Your Dad loves you very much. I’m not trying to play happy families, and I have not forgotten what has happened. It just wouldn’t hurt to spend some time together, the three of us. Fancy joining us for a walk around Regent’s Park later?

  Wednesday 11th March 23.44

  TO: danielpinchard@gmail.com

  How was the flight? I miss you already. The last few days were so idyllic, just talking and spending time together. Your mum was moved out of intensive care today, earlier than they had thought, and begins physiotherapy next week. So far, it’s just me coming to Los Angeles for Easter.

  Chris and Marika are ignoring me, so is your son.

  Love Coco xxxx

  Thursday 12th March 18.01

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  Who did you bring home last night? In future, it would be nice to be introduced, and it would be polite to be asked before you have overnight guests. I heard your bed going like the clappers. For my own peace of mind I am going to assume you, and whoever, were jumping up and down on it to the music you were playing. I know you have your iPhone on, so please reply when you get this call/email.

  Mum

  Thursday 12th March 20.13

  TO: danielpinchard@gmail.com

  I have just spoken to Rosencrantz. He would like to come to Los Angeles at Easter and he wants to bring his new boyfriend. I asked him why I haven’t been introduced. He said they haven’t reached the parental introductions stage. I said it seemed serious as they are at the jumping up and down on beds stage. The chap is called Christian, and it seems he is a man of means. He is willing to pay his own airfare.

  I think it’s all happening rather fast. I have demanded I be introduced to him on Saturday night.

  Coco x

  Thursday 12th March 23.13

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Is five days too quick to get into a serious relationship?

  Thursday 12th March 23.17

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I am not talking about Daniel and me. I was talking about Rosencrantz. Now I know your real opinion on us getting back together…

  Also, how much longer is Marika going to keep ignoring me? I am not stupid, I know what I am doing. Daniel has apologised. We are taking it slowly, but we are most
definitely back together.

  Friday 13th March 14.02

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I am sorry. You were right. You were so right.

  ATTACHMENT

  FROM: danielpinchard@gmail.com

  TO: cocopinchard27@gmail.com

  Dear Coco,

  I was awake all night after we came off the phone. I’m sorry. I can’t do this. You need too much from me, but I need to get out there and achieve things, and I can’t do it with you. Next to you, I am nothing. You are an incredible, generous, vibrant, amazing woman and you will always be my best friend. I am sorry.

  We can make this quick and painless. I have found a link to an online divorce site: www.zippydivorces.com. It will be cheaper than going through normal solicitors and arguing over how to separate everything.

  Daniel

  He’s telling me in an email? And separating everything? How could I be so stupid! Oh and now I’m “vibrant”! What the fuck does that mean?

  Friday 13th March 15.44

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Spoke to Daniel. He didn’t answer his phone until the tenth attempt. He was shocked at how angry I was, he had expected some tearful heap. He tried to convince me that the online divorce option was the best. I told him I am not separating anything.

  “Well, you have to,” he said, with harshness in his voice. “Otherwise, I’ll cut you off. How much money do you have? A couple of hundred?”

  He wants half the house. I asked him what has changed. He said it was him and not me. The emotion of nearly losing Ethel made him “rash and vulnerable”.

  Marika came straight over from work.

  “You were right,” I said.

  “I was starting to hope I was wrong,” she said, and gave me a long hug. I refuse to crumple. What a bastard he is, and how stupid I am.

  Saturday 14th March 21.56

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I met Rosencrantz’s new boyfriend today. I wasn’t going to but I refuse to let Daniel disrupt my life further. I was very impressed with Christian. Tall, blond, gorgeous and charismatic, he was dressed top to toe in theatrical high fashion, sort of Vivienne Westwood meets Elizabethan fop. He is studying at the London College of Fashion. He’s only twenty but his back story is impressive; son of government diplomats, spent his childhood travelling, speaks fluent Mandarin, has volunteered for the Red Cross and last Christmas he raised £7,000 hiking up Kilimanjaro for charity. He is so mature, and so wise for his years.

  After he had gone Rosencrantz told me off for talking so much.

  “I didn’t need to hear about you and Dad in so much … detail.”

  “You’ve hardly said ‘like’ all evening,” I said, surprised.

  Rosencrantz told me that Christian fines him fifty pence every time he drops a random ‘like’ into a sentence. I had wondered why Christian was clutching a limited edition Vivienne Westwood piggy bank. Why didn’t I think of that?

  Sunday 15th March 15.45

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Meryl rang today, the row wasn’t mentioned. She gave me Ethel’s new phone number/email address in hospital! She has had a “communications module” installed next to her bed by a company called Bedside Entertainments Ltd. She can now watch television and communicate with the outside world. I asked her if it was expensive.

  “Not with the NHS,” said Meryl. “The greatest gift this country has given us is universal healthcare for all!”

  She was sympathetic about Daniel, but commented how difficult it will be dividing things up.

  “I would hate to lose half my Wedgwood, let alone half my house,” she said.

  Afterwards I thought, why do I have to lose half?

  Monday 16th March 13.43

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Had coffee with Chris in Regent’s Park for what he called a “Divorce Summit”. We sat on the tables by the lake in the early spring sun. He said he had looked up three bedroom houses similar to mine in Marylebone. One sold last week for over a million pounds. My granddad bought it in 1929 for £600! I’m not pretending I’m naive to think what it’s worth but it’s always been just our house, and the thought of selling it… Well, I did cry over my chocolate muffin. Chris has offered, as an early Christmas present, the services of his solicitor.

  “You can’t let Daniel get away with zippydivorces.com,” he said. “What with that and Meryl on his side, they’ll take you to the cleaners.”

  He has booked me in tomorrow to see Mr Spencer, the Cheshire family’s solicitor.

  Tuesday 17th March 13.44

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I had an uplifting meeting with the dapper Mr Spencer in Chelsea. I was just getting over how I sank ankle deep into the decadent Axminster carpet in his waiting room, when he took me into his office. Is that chandelier real? And the paintings, I am sure I saw a Picasso. Even his laptop had a mahogany trim. I was only in there for twenty minutes but his soothing, clipped tones made me feel so safe and confident.

  He has outlined a plan of action and explained my rights. How much is he costing?

  Wednesday 18th March 18.09

  TO: danielpinchard@gmail.com

  Daniel,

  Yesterday I met with a solicitor. This is what is happening. As you are the unfaithful deserter, I keep the house. I am also requesting a one-off settlement of thirty thousand pounds.

  Unless you arrange for collection, your personal belongings will be packed and shipped to Meryl. Your Steinway piano will be placed in storage and you will be sent the bill. I am sure you think this unreasonable, but in the eyes of the law, it is entirely reasonable. My solicitor told me that, if I wanted to, I could pursue you for monthly spousal support for, well, ever.

  Let me know the fax number for your hotel. My solicitor needs to send you some paperwork.

  Wednesday 18th March 22.16

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Just had a phone call from Daniel. I could hear him sweating across the Atlantic. He asked how I could afford a divorce lawyer from Chelsea.

  “You’re gonna clean me out,” he said, sounding panicky.

  He says if I sell the Steinway for £15,000, I can keep the money. He will pay the other £15,000. I said I would talk to my solicitor and put the phone down.

  He’s a cheeky bastard. I took out a loan to pay for that bloody piano.

  Thursday 19th March 19.12

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I went to visit Ethel today in hospital. She was surrounded by elderly patients, perched on the end of her bed, and dotted around in wheelchairs. They were crowded round the little screen provided by Bedside Entertainments Ltd. As I reached the bed, an episode of Murder She Wrote was finishing, so the patients excused themselves. Ethel didn’t introduce me, even though she was on first name terms with them all.

  “I’ve spoke to Danny,” she said when I’d sat down. “Divorce,” she mouthed, shaking her head. “I couldn’t tell anyone on the ward. The shame would finish me orf!”

  We sat and looked at each other for a minute.

  “Why do you want to take all his money, Coco? You’ve got your house, that must be worth a few bob?”

  I reminded her that Daniel wanted the divorce.

  “It’s up to wives to tell their ‘usbands what they want,” she snapped. “Yer too soft!”

  She pursed her lips and we stared each other out again. An old woman shuffled past in a nightie covered in pictures of cats.

  “'Ere Dora,” shouted Ethel. “This is me daughter-in-law. The one ‘oo switched orf me life support.”

  Dora looked scandalised.

  “She was on a ventilator at the time!” I said, seeing the other patients start to prick up their ears. “And it wasn’t my decision.”

  Dora didn’t look convinced. Ethel then told me that when I’d “pulled the plug” she’d had an out-of-body experience. Looking down from above she had seen us all aro
und her bed. (My roots needed touching up, apparently.) With her back pressed against the polystyrene ceiling tiles, God had told her to get down, as she still had work to do.

  “And ‘e was right,” she said, lowering her voice. “I need to save yer marriage.”

  She leant over and fumbled around in her locker, pulling out an Ann Summers lingerie catalogue. She pushed it across the bedcovers.

  “This is your solution?” I asked. “Crotchless knickers?”

  “Well, there’s more flattering stuff for women yer age.”

  A nurse, who came to check Ethel’s chart, interrupted us.

  “Did Mrs Pinchard tell you how well she’s doing?” she said. “She can get outside for a cigarette.”

  “Nurse Carol ‘ere got me the Zimmer frame with the ashtray welded on it,” said Ethel proudly. “She’s like a second daughter.”

  I’d had enough by now and got up to go. Ethel grabbed my arm.

  “Please don’t do it,” she whispered. “There’s a lot to be said for a sexless marriage, I’d recommend it, just please don’t divorce.”

 
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