The coco pinchard boxset.., p.80
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.80

           Robert Bryndza

  ‘You were a natural,’ I said. I didn’t mention there had been five other midwives present.

  ‘I think it’s because of all the guinea pigs,’ she beamed. ‘Dad breeds them for his magic act and I was always there for the births.’

  ‘But you also trained as a midwife…’ I said.

  ‘Yes, but there’s so much theory. It was wonderful finally to have a real live mother and baby… I imagined you were a guinea pig, and it worked!’

  I didn’t know what to say to that, so I just gave her a big hug. Midwife Justine and the other midwives had insisted on getting Meryl’s autograph. Surely she didn’t believe they wanted it because she was the ex-sister-in-law of a moderately successful author. The lift reached the ground floor and we all piled out. It was a warm balmy night when we emerged onto Warren Street. The traffic was quiet. It was as if London was taking a breather after all the drama. We said goodbye to Daniel and Jennifer, Meryl, Tony, and Ethel who went off to find an Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse to celebrate me giving birth, and Ethel still being alive.

  ‘I think I’ll just be toasting the birth,’ whispered Jennifer in my ear as we hugged. ‘Keep in touch, please,’ she said and hurried off to catch the others. Chris hailed a cab for him and Marika.

  ‘I don’t want to go back to the house,’ I announced suddenly. A cab pulled up at the kerb.

  ‘What?’ said Adam. I looked down at our tiny baby asleep in my arms.

  ‘It’s too… full of the past… What about the farmhouse?’

  ‘Cokes, it’s a building site,’ said Adam

  ‘Chris?’ I said. ‘I know it’s a huge thing to ask, but?’

  ‘Of course. Come and stay at Cheshire Hall,’ he grinned.

  ‘Are you sure Coco?’ said Marika. ‘I was going to be around to help.’

  ‘Yeah Mum,’ said Rosencrantz. ‘Don’t you want to be nesting?’

  I nodded. ‘I do, but I want to start nesting in the new place.’

  ‘Ok. I’ll go back and grab a load of things and Rocco, and drive the car down,’ he said.

  ‘I’ll come with you Rosencrantz,’ said Marika.

  ‘Okay, shall we take this cab to Cheshire Hall?’ said Chris

  ‘Are you okay with this Adam?’ I asked. He gave me a huge grin.

  ‘Whatever you want,’ he said. ‘You just made me the happiest man alive.’


  Monday 5th November

  Our first few days with Little Adam are a blur, Chris, Marika and Rosencrantz looked after me at Cheshire Hall, whilst Adam worked like crazy to get the house finished. Two weeks later we moved in. Strangeways Farm didn’t work for any of us as a name, so it officially became Steeplejack Farm. I think Lady Edwina must have heard Little Adam’s screams from the Lodge two miles away, because she sent over a welcome bottle of Tanqueray with a note saying,

  This will help you dear, in the first few weeks, and spare a little for the baby’s gums… THE DOWAGER x

  I did drink a little of the gin, and I’ve been close on several occasions to rubbing some on Little Adam’s gums. Adam has excelled himself with the renovations and transformed the rather shabby and dated single-glazed house into a beautiful cosy home. Our furniture fills the rooms perfectly. The new bathroom is gorgeous, with a freestanding bath under the window. We have no neighbours, so you can wallow and soak with a stunning view of the lake and deer park. During the restoration he uncovered an original fireplace in the living room, and one in the kitchen, and I love the smell and sound of an open fire blazing.

  My favourite place of all is the kitchen. We have a blue Aga in the corner, and the back wall opposite the windows is lined with a wide work surface, cupboards, and a huge bookcase. A long scrubbed wooden table fills the centre of the room with a bench each side.

  The kitchen is a happy mess of laundry, baby paraphernalia, Rocco’s bed, and welly boots. Adam’s plans for our microbrewery are piled up and pinned to every available wall space. Through the windows, which run the length of the wall, we have an uninterrupted view of the beautiful countryside.

  We had a dinner party this evening, in honour of Guy Fawkes night. Chris was the first to arrive. I was in the kitchen with four pounds of raw sausages, reading the instructions for the new cooker, when I heard his quad bike zooming over the field towards the house. A few moments later there was a knock at the door and he was standing outside with Angie! I squealed in delight and we hugged. Post-Burning Man she looked a different person, she had on very little make-up, she’d let her hair grow long. She looked relaxed, serene.

  ‘Look at you, farmer’s wife,’ she said taking in my kitchen and the Aga.

  ‘So did you find yourself in the desert?’ I asked.

  ‘Ish… I did come to terms with the fact I’m a short-arse,’ she grinned indicating her flat shoes. ‘Life’s too short for bunions.’

  ‘Angie, you do look like a different person, in a good way,’ said Chris.

  ‘Don’t be deceived. I’m still firing on all cylinders,’ she said. ‘I’ve just negotiated you a three-book deal with The House of Randoms.’

  ‘Really?’ I asked.

  ‘Yes. Agent Fergie was a shock hit for them, so once you get that baby off the tit you need to start writing.’

  Adam came in from building a bonfire out front.

  ‘Hey, Angie,’ he said giving her a big hug. ‘Coco’s missed you.’

  ‘And I miss the feel of a man,’ said Angie holding on to Adam tight. ‘Ooh. Coco, you’re a lucky girl.’

  ‘Tell me about it!’ said Chris. ‘The only eligible bachelor I came into contact with last week empties septic tanks for a living…’

  ‘You want some too Lord Cheshire?’ grinned Adam. He grabbed Chris in a bear hug, then tipped him back and leaned in for a smooch. Chris was yelling in shock, as Meryl walked in followed by Ethel and Tony.

  ‘Good Lord! It’s a very continental atmosphere in here,’ she shrilled looking at Adam about to snog Chris, and me and Angie clapping and laughing.

  ‘That’ll see you through the long cold nights Chris,’ said Ethel winking and tapping her forehead. We all hugged and I reintroduced Angie to everyone.

  ‘So where’s the little nipper?’ asked Tony.

  ‘Tony! Don’t say nipper, it’s so common,’ scolded Meryl.

  Rosencrantz is just giving him a bath,’ I said. ‘They’ll be down in a minute.’

  ‘How is ’e?’ said Ethel. ‘Not started boozing again?’

  ‘Is Little Adam boozing already?’ grinned Tony.

  ‘Tony, don’t be so silly,’ hissed Meryl. ‘She means Rosencrantz.’

  ‘He’s great thank you,’ I said.

  ‘Glad to ’ear it love,’ smiled Ethel.

  ‘Now Coco I’ve brought some hand me downs of Wilfred’s for Little Adam…’ said Meryl putting a pile of beautiful little clothes on the kitchen table.

  ‘Ooh lovely,’ I said. ‘He’s outgrown so much already.’

  ‘Where’s Wilfred?’ said Adam.

  ‘Tony’s sister Diana is babysitting, which I’m not happy about…’ said Meryl.

  ‘What’s wrong with Diana?’ asked Tony.

  ‘What’s wrong with Diana?’ said Meryl. ‘Well for starters her husband has a Third Reich tea set!’

  ‘It’s not as if they drink out of it! It’s locked away in storage… You know they’re very valuable,’ he explained.

  Angie was staring at Meryl and Tony.

  ‘You should turn those two into a book,’ she whispered. ‘I guarantee it would be a best seller.’

  Rosencrantz came in carrying Little Adam who was looking all cute and sleepy in his green babygro, and Rocco trotted behind. Everyone went mad cooing and tickling. Little Adam looked a little bewildered.

  ‘It’s like he’s the newest member of One Direction,’ grinned Rosencrantz.

  ‘’As Little Adam still got the little duck I gave ’im?’ said Ethel.

  ‘Yes Nan, Dickie the Duck is his number one confidan
t,’ said Rosencrantz.

  ‘You look lovely too, I like yer ’air long,’ said Ethel ruffling Rosencrantz’s thick mane.

  Daniel then arrived with Jennifer – cue more cooing, she is five months pregnant – and I told everyone the news of my book deal. Adam opened his latest batch of beer for us to try, which is outstanding. He is hoping that we can launch our first ale next year – which he wants to call The Steeplejack.

  ‘Note everyone, I’m having Schloer,’ grinned Rosencrantz.

  Marika finally arrived with Milan as the guys, Angie and Ethel were lighting the bonfire. Meryl had the sausages sizzling on the grill, and jacket potatoes crisping in the oven. Jennifer was buttering rolls.

  ‘Before I say hello to anyone I have to pee!’ announced Marika. She is quite enormous now being seven-and-a-half-months’ pregnant.

  ‘It’s just outside the kitchen door hun,’ I said. She groaned and waddled off out the door. Milan put down a huge pregnancy pillow, and a big Tesco bag full of snacks.

  ‘Sorry we’re late. We had to stop in six lay-bys for Marika to pee,’ said Milan. ‘We were questioned by the police in the sixth because they thought we were dogging.’

  The toilet flushed and Marika came waddling back in.

  ‘Did you tell them about the police?’ she snapped. ‘Bastards. I said, you try having twins dancing around on your bladder all day!’

  ‘They made her get out of the car to prove she was pregnant,’ said Milan.

  ‘Of course I look pregnant!’

  ‘You do and you’re blooming,’ said Milan putting his arms round her.

  ‘Don’t hug me, I’ll need to go again,’ she said kissing him, and eased herself onto the bench.

  After we’d eaten, everyone went back outside for the fireworks. Marika, Chris and Ethel stayed with Little Adam and me at the kitchen table. Through the long window we could see everyone bathed in the glow of the huge bonfire. The first firework shot up and exploded above their heads, and for a brief second illuminated their happy upturned faces.

  ‘I want to be you Coco,’ said Marika. ‘I want these babies out, now!’

  We all stared at Little Adam sleeping peacefully.

  ‘In six weeks time you’ll wish you could pop them back in for an hour and get some peace,’ I said.

  ‘Gawd, I’ve give anything to be a baby again,’ said Ethel.

  ‘Why would you want to be a baby?’ I asked.

  ‘I’d do things properly the second time round. I’d see the world, I’d be a right slag…’

  We all laughed.

  ‘I mean it! You can get away with bein’ a slag these days ’an I was a right looker. I turned down some cracking lads… I did!’ she insisted.

  ‘How is Rosencrantz doing?’ asked Chris.

  ‘He did his ninth step and is friends with Wayne and Oscar again,’ I said. ‘He’s so happy and relaxed here. He wants to help Adam with the microbrewery, and there is a very handsome lad in the village who is very interested in him.’

  ‘The guy who empties the septic tanks?’ asked Chris.

  ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘He’s assured Rosencrantz he washes his hands thoroughly.’

  ‘I wish I could be young again too,’ said Chris wistfully.

  ‘Yer loaded love, you can buy yourself ten ’andsome lads!’ said Ethel. Little Adam woke and began to scream.

  ‘Oh God. How the bloody hell am I going to juggle two babies?’ asked Marika.

  ‘You’re meant to hold them. Not juggle with them!’ grinned Chris.

  ‘And we’ll be here for you, always,’ I said.

  A Catherine Wheel began to spin and fizz, lighting up the kitchen. Milan, Daniel, Rosencrantz and Adam all came to the window. They pulled faces through the glass. I grinned back and held Little Adam up to see them. His big brown eyes settled on his gorgeous dad, bathed in the glow of the fire and he stopped crying. I went close to the window. Adam winked at us and mouthed, I love you. I smiled back, and was suddenly so excited about the future.


  A big thanks to, Araminta Whitley and Peta Nightingale for your hard work, enthusiasm and support in guiding me through this book, and thanks to Sophie Hughes, Jennifer Hunt and all at LAW. Another big thanks to writer/editor/llama farmer Stephanie Dagg for your help, advice, and friendship through the early drafts, and for knowing more about Coco Pinchard’s world than I do. Thanks to Eva Reid for sharing your birth story, and the countless other generous ladies who have answered my questions. Thanks to Dan Bramall for another great cover. Big hugs to Team Bryndza, Ján, Vierka, Ricky and Lola, I love you so much. And as ever, thanks to my readers for your support. It blows me away every time I hear just how much you’ve taken my books into your hearts. There are lots more to come and I hope you all stay with me for the ride.

  A Very Coco Christmas

  For Ricky and Lola, I know you can’t read this, because you‘re dogs, but you make our lives complete.

  December 1985

  Saturday 21st December

  I never thought I would grow to love Aberystwyth so quickly. I thought I was a London girl through and through, but the dark beauty of Wales by the sea has captivated my heart. So too has Daniel Pinchard.

  We woke up entwined this morning in my high little attic room, with its rather precipitous view of the paved seafront promenade below. A storm had raged all night, the waves smashing into the concrete wall of the prom throwing up giant jets of seawater that slapped against my window. The Christmas lights strung on wires along the street lamps swung and clinked and as the green, red and blue shone through the rippling water coursing down my window, they gave it a deliciously romantic feel. All through this my dark and gorgeous Daniel was naked in my bed. He sleeps naked, which is something quite thrilling. He has a lithe muscular body with a smattering of hair on his beautiful chest and stomach, and he has long chestnut hair, almost to his shoulders. His eyes are a warm caramel colour, his lips full, his nose strong and he always has a dark line of stubble on his square jaw. I’m hopelessly in love.

  When I was preparing to come away to University my mother took me to buy ‘a suitable nightie’. This wasn’t because she wanted me to look good in bed for future lovers.

  ‘You’ll be sharing a house with other girls, and it’s Wales.’ She shuddered, thumbing through the racks of button-up-to-the-neck long nightgowns. ‘You need to show you're cosmopolitan, but not easy… Now do you want flame proof?’

  ‘In case some amorous suitor attacks me with a blow torch?’

  ‘Don’t be so ridiculous…’ she snapped, marching off to the till with something long and frilly.

  As I lay in only my knickers and no bra, watching Daniel sleep, I laughed at what my mother would think. The sea was now calm and there was just the caw of seagulls picking over the spoils thrown up by the storm and the drag of the waves on the shingle. I sat up and lit a cigarette. Daniel opened his eyes.

  ‘Morning Coco,’ he said stretching out his long, agile body.

  ‘It’s so romantic, after a storm,’ I said, as the sun began to shine through the window. ‘Look at the sea reaching out to the horizon glittering and smooth… infinite.’

  ‘You have the most excellent tits,’ said Daniel sitting up and taking a drag of my cigarette.

  ‘Daniel!’ I said. ‘I was being romantic.’

  ‘So was I,’ he grinned. ‘We’ve got three hours until we have to get the train back to London, let’s make the most of it…’ He leant over with a twinkle in his eye and stubbed out my cigarette, then pulled me on top of him.

  An hour later we had dragged ourselves out of bed and I was packing my suitcase.

  ‘Are the Bananas still here?’ asked Daniel pulling on his drainpipe jeans. I opened my door onto the landing and there was silence. The Bananas are my housemates Tania, Tanya and Claire. They’d already caught trains home for Christmas. The smell of them lingered though, a stench of hairspray, catching in the back of my throat with a sting. They’re all Bananarama
mad, and have their hair done accordingly which involves discharging a whole can of Aquanet Super Hold on their wet hair whilst blow-drying furiously. I’ve asked Daniel if I should try mine this way, but he says he loves my blonde hair long and natural.

  Anyway, which Banana would you be?' he asked. 'Tania is Keren, Tanya is Sara and Claire is Siobhan. There’s nothing worse than being second banana, let alone fourth.'

  He had a point.

  We left my flat with a suitcase each and Daniel had his battered guitar case slung over his shoulder. We walked hand in hand along the prom, and made a beeline for our favourite café, Dai’s, a small squat building sandwiched between the amusement arcade and video shop on the pier. It used to be a serious rock-and-heavy-metal bar, until Dai bought it, a thin and wan Welshman with huge milky blue eyes. During term time it’s home to most of the arts faculty and Dai plays pop music. We grabbed a seat by the window looking out to sea. The café was full of people chattering and smoking above the hiss of the coffee machine.

  ‘Hello loves,’ said Dai listlessly wandering over with his pad. ‘I thought you’d be back in the smoke by now?’

  ‘No, our train is at two-thirty,’ I said sadly.

  ‘Yes, Christmas again,’ said Dai mournfully in his soft Welsh lilt. ‘It’ll just be me and mother, if I don’t strangle the old bag during The Two Ronnies… so, what will it be for the lovebirds?’

  I looked at Daniel.

  ‘I’m going to treat us. We’ll have two of your big breakfasts please,’ I said.

  ‘Tea or coffee?’


  He wrote it down and took our menus,

  ‘Won’t be a mo, loves,’ he said then wandered off to the kitchen.

  ‘Coco,’ said Daniel frowning. ‘I was just going to have a cuppa.’

  ‘You need the energy after last night,’ I said trying to keep my voice light.

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