The coco pinchard boxset.., p.95
The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.95Robert Bryndza
“It’s a crutch, love,” said Daniel. I went over to him and he hugged me. “Thanks for going and getting, Mum,” he added.
“Coco kindly invited me for Christmas, an’ I accepted,” said Ethel, surprising me with a smile.
Daniel handed me a bauble.
“Thought we’d leave this one for you,” he said. He held up the glass bauble with Karen written on it.
“You remembered,” I grinned. I found a branch and hung it on.
“There. Now it’s Christmas,” said Daniel, and leant across and gave me a kiss.
We stood admiring the twinkling lights and decorations for a moment, then Rosencrantz asked, “Who’s Karen?”
“It’s Mummy’s real name,” said Daniel. “Coco is a nickname I gave her.”
“Then who gave Mummy her real name?”
“Her mummy and daddy…” explained Daniel.
“No. Dad wanted to call me Jessica, but Mum overruled him on that, as she did with most things,” I said.
“They’re dead, aren’t they?” asked Rosencrantz.
“Yes. They are,” I said. There was silence.
“So did you have them burned in Uncle Tony’s special oven for dead bodies, or did you pay extra and dig a hole to put them in?” asked Rosencrantz in a chatty little tone of voice.
“Rosencrantz!” snapped Daniel.
“Rosencrantz… Rosencrantz,” said Rosencrantz, as if he’d heard his name for the first time. “Have I got a proper real name too? Cos Rosencrantz, it’s a bit bloody weird!”
“No toilet language!” trilled Meryl, bustling into the living room wearing a Santa hat. She hugged me and Ethel. “It’s no use,” she said. “I’ll have to have my hair cut off, it’s still rock-hard after four Wash and Go’s.”
“She washed it and it went nowhere!” piped up Rosencrantz.
Just then the downstairs toilet flushed. I looked around the room.
“Who else is here?” I said.
Marika came sheepishly into the living room.
“I only phoned to talk to you, Coco,” she said, embarrassed.
“Her teeth were chatting away!” said Rosencrantz excitedly, and he did an impression of a very cold person shivering. “I told her she had to come for Christmas. She can sleep in my bed,” he added.
“I invited Marika to come over, too,” said Daniel. Marika still looked embarrassed.
“I’m so glad you’re here!” I said giving her a hug.
“She brought some rather delicious Slovak cakes,” added Tony.
“Yeah Mummy, they’re like Jammy Dodgers!” said Rosencrantz.
“And I will help out with cooking, cleaning—” offered Marika.
“No you won’t, you’re my guest and my friend, and I’m so pleased you’re here,” I said.
Meryl beckoned me and Marika out of the living room. Ethel came too, and we followed her upstairs. She checked the coast was clear and opened the airing cupboard door. On the bottom shelf was a complete Tracy Island! It looked stunning, almost like the real thing.
“The paint just needs the night to harden,” said Meryl.
“It’s beautiful,” I said, marvelling at the detail – the palm trees made from pipe cleaners, the green hills of the island and the beach, and the swimming pool, made from a circle of tin foil.
“Thank you, Meryl,” I said, hugging her, almost in tears.
“Yes well, I wanted to tick it off my list, craft wise,” she said embarrassed.
“Tha’s lovely, Meryl,” said Ethel. “Oh Coco, ‘e’s gonna love that.”
“It’s beautiful,” added Marika.
“This is amazing, Meryl,” I said. “But do you think Rosencrantz will mind it’s not the shop version?”
“Don’t be silly, love” said Ethel. “Iss like that Dolly Parton song.”
We looked at her, confused.
“You know, that Dolly Parton song, where she sings about that jumper ‘er Mum made ‘er… with all them bits of wool lying around. In all different colours… cos they ‘ad no money.”
“‘The Coat of Many Colours’,” said Marika.
“Oh, was it a coat love? What was the song called?” said Ethel.
“‘The Coat of Many Colours’,” I repeated.
“No, Marika’s established that, Coco, love, but what was the song called?”
“‘The Coat of Many Colours’,” we all chimed, but Ethel ignored us.
“No, it’s got a really good name. I’ve got it! ‘Jolene’s Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’!”
We all managed to stifle a laugh. Ethel went on,
“Dolly Parton sings ‘ow much she loves Jolene’s amazing technicolour dreamcoat. An’ she loves it, cos ‘er Mum made it for ‘er. It was all the more special, you know? An’ it’ll be the same thing with Rosencrantz. Cos you all made it for ‘im.”
“Thanks Ethel,” I said.
“To think Dolly Parton’s mum’s name was Jolene,” she added. “Cos then she wrote that song about Jolene nicking ‘er usband off ‘er! They’re a funny lot in America, aren’t they?”
We all grinned.
The last few hours of Christmas Eve were wonderful. We lit a fire, ordered pizza and Daniel played carols on the piano, with his leg propped up on the portable electric heater.
It was so lovely to have Marika here too. She fitted in with everyone and she was a big hit with Rosencrantz. He spent the whole evening brushing her hair and asking her to teach him Slovakian swear words.
I came to bed relieved. We’d done it. Rosencrantz was going to open Tracy Island on Christmas Day, just as he wanted.
Friday 25th December (Christmas Day)
I slept soundly until the alarm beeped softly at a quarter to six. I turned to wish Daniel a merry Christmas but his side of the bed was empty. It was chilly, so I pulled on a jumper and tiptoed out to the landing. I could hear noises from the bathroom, and assumed that must be where Daniel was. I opened the airing cupboard and took a moment to admire the beautiful Tracy Island once more. I tried the paint with the tips of my fingers, and it was bone dry. I decided it was time to wrap it. Checking Rosencrantz’s door was shut I very gently lifted it out of the airing cupboard, then turned carefully holding it in both hands. I heard the bathroom door open and the sound of Daniel clunking across the carpet.
Seconds later the airing cupboard door was shoved closed against my back. I was knocked into the shelves inside and Tracy Island crumpled as it was crushed between the shelves and the front of my jumper. I squealed in shock. Daniel pulled the airing cupboard door open and the crushed pieces of Tracy Island fell to the carpet. A big chunk was caught in the fibres of my jumper. We both froze.
“You idiot!” I hissed.
“Oh no! Coco! I, I… The door was open!” said Daniel.
“So you closed it without checking?”
“I didn’t think,” he said.
“You never bloody do. Your mother was right about that ashtray!”
“Ashtray?” echoed Daniel.
I looked down at the wreckage of Tracy Island and burst into tears. Ethel came out onto the landing rubbing her eyes. Her face fell.
“Your son shut the door on me!”
“What did you do that for, yer bloody idiot!” said Ethel, giving him a slap round the head.
“I’ve got a broken leg!”
“I’m tempted to break the other one, you prat!” said Ethel.
Then Meryl came out of the spare room.
“What’s going on? It’s six o’clock on Christmas morning, I don’t want to hear toilet language!” She saw the Tracy Island wreckage. “You bloody idiot, Daniel!” she shrieked.
Tony and then Marika joined us. We were paralysed, not knowing what to do.
Then Rosencrantz’s door opened. I quickly closed the airing cupboard door after pushing all the bits on the carpet inside too.
“Happy Christmas everyone!” said Rosencrantz, grinning. “Can I open my presents?”
There was an awkward pause
“Let’s see if we can spot Father Christmas flying across the sky!” said Ethel, grabbing him and taking him back in his bedroom.
“I thought he comes during the night?” said Rosencrantz.
“Oh ‘e does, but ‘e knocks off at six and ‘as a quick pint before ‘e goes off to Lapland. Maybe ‘e’s bin at the pub at the end of the road.” She managed to get him in his room and shut the door.
“Coco, have we got anything else we can give Rosencrantz instead?” begged Daniel.
“That is the most stupid question I’ve ever heard!” I said, seething with rage. I ignored him, came downstairs and into the living room. The presents were all laid out under the tree.
“Ooh look, is that Father Christmas’s reindeer in the beer garden?” I heard Ethel say from upstairs in Rosencrantz’s bedroom.
Marika joined me in the living room and saw my tears.
“Oh God, Marika. What are we going to do?”
She gave me a hug. Then Rosencrantz bolted downstairs, past us and into the living room shouting, “Presents, present, presents!”
Ethel appeared out of breath at the door.
“I couldn’t keep ‘old of ‘im. ‘E’s like a slippery little bar of soap.”
Within seconds, Rosencrantz had the wrapping paper off four of his presents. He was wild with excitement.
“Slow down, love,” I pleaded.
I felt powerless, a failure. I came out of the living room and shut the door. Ethel, Marika, Meryl and Tony were in the hall. Daniel was hobbling downstairs.
“I can’t watch him get to the last present,” I said. “I’m going to be sick.”
Just then the doorbell rang. We all froze for a moment. It rang again.
“Well, someone answer it,” said Ethel. “It ain’t bloody Father Christmas!”
I pulled open the door. There stood Chris, crying. In his hand he held… a Tracy Island!
“What? How?” I said with wonder.
“I know I should be on the cruise, but I jumped ship. Well, not literally, I can’t swim. I waited until we docked at Calais and got a ferry back. I’ve broken up with Benji,” sobbed Chris.
We all stared at him in shock.
“I know, I can see what you’re all thinking. I said I thought he was the one, but the ‘cruise’ he’d booked us on was a bloody Disney Christmas Cruise! I said I am NOT going to be trapped on a boat with a bunch of Disney freaks!”
“Um, is that Tracy Island?” I asked, insensitively I know.
“What?” said Chris.
“Tracy Island?” said Meryl.
“Tracy bleedin’ Island?” said Ethel.
Chris looked confused.
“IS THAT TRACY ISLAND?” we all shouted.
“Oh, this? Yes,” said Chris, holding up the box. “Dad got one in the end, from his friend in the import-export biz. Had it delivered to my house last night.”
Meryl lunged at the box and grabbed it out of Chris’s hand.
“Give me two minutes! Tony!” she barked, clicking her fingers. “I need a yard of red ribbon, Sellotape, scissors, and that roll of nice wrapping paper.”
They vanished upstairs. Chris looked bewildered.
“It’s just a toy,” he said.
“Chris, if you expect to live long enough to see the Queen’s Speech you will take that back. It is not just a toy. It’s an embodiment of everything: my ability to be a good mother and to make my son happy.”
“Cokes, you’re scaring me,” he said.
“Sorry. It’s so good to see you!” I dragged him in off the step and hugged him.
Meryl was back down the stairs in two minutes with Tracy Island wrapped. We all crept into the living room to find Rosencrantz sitting amongst a pile of discarded wrapping paper.
“Where did Father Christmas put my big present?” he asked.
“Look behind the tree, love,” said Ethel.
“I did look, Nan,” answered Rosencrantz.
“Well, look again, ‘ere, I’ll help.”
She took him up to the Christmas tree, and when their backs were turned I gently placed the wrapped Tracy Island on top of the unwrapped presents. Rosencrantz turned and his eyes lit up when he saw the box with the big bow.
“Wow! You just missed him,” I said.
“He just whipped in the door and whipped out again, like lightning,” said Daniel.
“Really?” said Rosencrantz.
“Yes, Father Christmas moves very fast,” nodded Meryl.
“How do you think he gets round all the houses?” said Tony.
“See love, I told you’d ‘e’d bin in the pub,” smiled Ethel.
The look of wonder on Rosencrantz’s face made everything melt away – all the stress and the panic, all the anger and fear. He seized the present and tore off the paper.
“Tracy Island!” he cried. “This is the best bloody Christmas ever!”
Tears began to roll down my face and I looked round at Marika and Chris smiling, at Daniel with his leg in plaster, Meryl with her hair frozen in a rock-hard Elvis quiff, Tony covered in peck marks from his brush with the Emperor penguins, Ethel grinning without her teeth, and me with the tail end of a black eye and bits of green papier mâché all down me. Outside there was a deep blanket of snow, and I was inside, safe and warm with the people I loved.
“Yes, it’s the best Christmas ever,” I said.
And I meant it.
Thank you to Stephanie Dagg for editing this book with the utmost love and care, and for writing the best notes.
Thanks to Dan Bramall for another great cover. A huge thanks, as always, to Team Bryndza, I love you so much. And as ever, thanks to my readers who are the best an author could dream of.
And to all the parents, guardians, and anyone who is in pursuit of the must-have toy this Christmas. Stay safe and don’t do anything too crazy trying to get it. Just remember, however great the toy is, they will probably end up playing with the box.
A note from Robert
Phew. You’ve made it to the end of this box set - which is an achievement in itself! Thank you for choosing to read it. If you did enjoy it, I would be very grateful if you could write a review. I’d love to hear what you think, and reviews really help new readers to discover one of my books for the first time. I love hearing from readers, and thank you to everyone who has been in touch, I read and appreciate every message. You can get in touch through my social media links on the next page.. There are lots more books to come, so I hope you’ll stay with me for the ride!
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About the Author
Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice, which is the first in his Detective Erika Foster series. Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into 27 languages. In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.
Also by Robert Bryndza
ERIKA FOSTER CRIME THRLLER SERIES
The Girl in the Ice
The Night Stalker
COCO PINCHARD ROMANTIC COMEDY SERIES
The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard
Coco Pinchard's Big Fat Tipsy Wedding
Coco Pinchard, The Consequences of Love and Sex
A Very Coco Christmas
Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story
STAND ALONE NOVELS
Miss Wrong and Mr Right
Lost in Crazytown
Published by Team Bryndza Books
Copyright © Robert Bryndza 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Robert Bryndza has asserted his right to be identified as the author of these works.
All rights reserved in all media. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical (including but not limited to: the internet, photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system), without prior permission in writing from the publishers.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organisations, places, and events other than those clearly in the public domain, are either the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The Coco Pinchard Box Set
eBook ISBN: 978-1-9998279-6-0
The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard
eBook ISBN: 978-1-9998279-0-8
Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding
ebook ISBN: 978-1-9998279-2-2
Coco Pinchard, the Consequences of Love and Sex
eBook ISBN: 978-1-9998279-1-5
A Very Coco Christmas
eBook ISBN: 978-1-9998279-3-9
Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story
eBook ISBN: 978-1-9998279-4-6
Robert Bryndza, The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!
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