Home > The Christmas Surprise (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #3)(3)

The Christmas Surprise (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #3)(3)
Jenny Colgan

‘Are you all right?’ he said. ‘How far gone are you? Do you need to sit down? Are you feeling sick?’

‘No,’ Rosie said, having vanished into the tiny back room of the sweetshop. It was little more than a sink and a kettle, and she never shut the door, but today she did. If Tina thought there was anything odd about that, she didn’t mention it. ‘I feel completely fine. Except, you know … OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!’

At the other end of the phone, Stephen nodded.

‘Also,’ he said cheerfully, ‘your knockers are probably going to get huge.’

Actually, they were feeling a bit swollen, Rosie realised. She’d put it down to post-Christmas overindulgence, which, she realised, probably also explained a couple of nights when they weren’t as careful as they might have been.

‘Seriously, is that all you’re thinking about?’

‘That is the only thing I can think about that isn’t absolutely terrifying.’

‘Well you didn’t want Mr Dog … Oh my God, how are we going to break it to Mr Dog?’

‘I think your dog …’ Stephen hated the name Mr Dog and thought he should be called something sensible, like Archie or Rex, ‘could do with being reminded once in a while that he’s just an animal. I don’t think it will be bad for him at all.’

‘Hmm,’ said Rosie. ‘Oh Lord. The timing is awful. Goodness, this is all going to be awful.’

There was a pause. Stephen wanted to pull her into his arms and bury his face in her hair. He resisted the urge to run straight out of school and up the road.

‘Oh darling, do you really think that?’ he said instead.

‘No,’ said Rosie. ‘I’m just panicking.’

‘Well it isn’t going to be awful. It’s going to be ours, and it will be wonderful, and full of love. And dental cavities.’

‘Ha,’ said Rosie. Then, quietly, ‘I love you.’

‘I love you too,’ said Stephen. ‘Right, I have to go, there’s some kind of spilled milk catastrophe. Little buggers …’ he paused, ‘with whom I am soon going to have masses of tolerance and patience.’

Rosie smiled and put the phone down, then burst into tears. Come to think about it, she had been very emotional recently, but everyone had put that down to the engagement.

Okay. They would talk about it tonight, but the most important thing was not to tell people. When was it, twelve weeks you could mention it? Right. Well, she couldn’t be more than five or six, not really. She’d have to get online and check it out. But that meant they had lots of time to get used to it and calm down and start to prepare themselves and … Oh, to have Stephen’s baby! If it were a boy, would it be tall and handsome? And a bit moody? And if it was a girl, would his heart turn over? Would he collapse with joy and be madly in love with her and spoil her to bits?

Tina knocked on the door to come and wash up teacups and Rosie tried to pull herself together. Right. She was going to be calm, collected, professional. No one would suspect a thing, not until they’d got everything sorted out. It would be cool.

‘Hey,’ said Tina pleasantly. ‘You okay?’

‘I’M HAVING A BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

In the end, Tina decided to shut up shop for twenty minutes, given that the post-lunch crowd had dropped and it wouldn’t really kick off again till the school came out, when it went crazy. She put up the ancient ‘Back in Ten Minutes’ sign, which reminded Rosie that it was a Wednesday and Lilian still grumbled that they didn’t have half-day closing. She refused to visit the shop on Wednesday afternoons, even when Rosie pointed out that if they didn’t open six full days, they’d all starve.

The cottage was right next door to the shop. The rooms were small and the ceilings were low, but it was cosy, cluttered with Lilian’s old floral coverings and her horse brasses polished to a high shine. On the wooden mantelpiece were the silver-framed photographs of Lilian as the beautiful young woman she’d been, and a picture of her young man, Henry Carr, whom she had loved as a teenager and believed killed in the war until he had re-entered their lives the year before. Having been blown up and suffered brain damage, he had built another life for himself until fate had thrown him in the way of the sweetshop. His family in Harrogate had very kindly made up a box of snapshots for Lilian, who treasured it above all other things. A particularly handsome shot of him laughing at someone off camera in his khaki uniform, marked ‘Africa 1942’, had pride of place.

Downstairs there was Lilian’s bedroom, which she still used when she stayed over from the nursing home; a tiny doll’s-house kitchen with exquisite china hanging from hooks; and a bathroom. Upstairs, in a loft conversion that could only be reached by pulling down a set of steps from the ceiling, was the beautiful, austere white-painted bedroom Rosie and Stephen shared, with its views both ways: to the rolling hills on the north side of Lipton; and across Lilian’s lovingly tended kitchen garden, and the bower gate at the end with its rose trellis, to the fields beyond.

Rosie loved this tiny house – they both did, otherwise they would have lived in Stephen’s chilly Georgian stone house at the top of the hills, a place Rosie always associated with freezing winds and the lonely state she had found Stephen in the first time she’d ever met him. Plus, it wasn’t technically theirs: it belonged to the estate, which belonged to Stephen’s mother, and neither of them liked the idea of living under her thumb like that.

But the cottage, she thought, wasn’t very practical now. Goodness knows how Lilian – however comfortably ensconced at her very nice old people’s home – would react to her bedroom being turned into a nursery, and as for when the little one started crawling up the stairs … Rosie blinked as Tina brought her a cup of tea.

‘It’s rosehip,’ said Tina. ‘I guess you’re off the caffeine now.’

‘Oh yes,’ said Rosie. ‘Oh my God, I hadn’t even got round to all that stuff. No shellfish … no more visiting the great sushi bars of Lipton.’

This went straight over Tina’s head; she had been born and raised in the village and had relatively little interest in what went on elsewhere.

‘No booze … hmm.’ Rosie thought with some guilt about the fizz they’d consumed at New Year. ‘I have had a bit, though.’

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