Home > The Christmas Surprise (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #3)(5)

The Christmas Surprise (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #3)(5)
Jenny Colgan

Edison looked confused.

‘But I know I like Edinburgh rock.’

‘Yes, but you might like something else even more.’

‘But that would be A RISK.’

Rosie smiled and shook him out his little bag.

‘Here you are. How’s Marie?’

His baby sister had been born on Christmas morning. Edison could not be talked out of calling her Marie, after Marie Curie, and now Rosie rather liked it. With a thrill of half panic, half excitement, she realised that Marie and her baby were going to be close in age.

‘Noisy,’ said Edison shortly. ‘And I wanted to play Lego with her, and everyone said, “OH EDISON, NO.”’ His face looked pinched and sad. ‘You know she can hold things! I thought she could hold my Lego Chima!’

Rosie smiled.

‘But what does she do with the things?’

Edison thought about it.

‘She puts them in her mouth.’

‘There you are,’ said Rosie. ‘You can see that might be a problem.’

‘But Lego isn’t nice in your mouth.’

‘Well you know that,’ said Rosie. ‘She doesn’t, she’s only a baby, she doesn’t know anything. That’s why she needs a big brother to show her that Lego is bad.’

‘Oh,’ said Edison. ‘I could teach her all of that stuff.’

He wandered thoughtfully out of the shop as Rosie moved over to serve some of the more indecisive children. She yelled after him, ‘But don’t give her any Edinburgh rock!’

Edison rolled his eyes at her. He was definitely growing up, she thought.

After they’d shut up shop, Rosie couldn’t settle till Stephen came home. Often he was in before her, with huge stacks of marking, but he had some gruesome Ofsted meeting tonight he couldn’t miss. She made a chicken pie, but couldn’t concentrate and put weird ingredients in it. Mr Dog hopped around and she didn’t tell him to stop jumping up. She lit the fire, but her hands were shaking. She spent a lot of time examining herself in the mirror in the bathroom. How could she not have noticed the swelling in her breasts, the new blue veins that had appeared under her pale skin? Her stomach was the same as ever – i.e. not quite as flat as she would like it to be – but her thick dark curly hair seemed to have extra bounce in it for some reason, and wasn’t growing as quickly as it usually did, and she realised that that was because her body was diverting all its resources to nourishing the life within her.

She was still in the bathroom, slightly stunned, when Stephen turned up, with his heavy, slightly uneven tread – a result of being blown up by a landmine in Africa while working for Médecins Sans Frontières – and his emphatic greeting for Mr Dog.

‘Does having a baby make you burn food?’ he called. ‘I had no idea. Where ARE you?’

‘I’m in here,’ she managed weakly. Stephen banged open the bathroom door.

‘Have you spent all day in dodgy bathrooms?’

As soon as they saw each other, though, all banter and bravado was gone, and they simply stared at one another.

‘Crumbs,’ said Stephen, looking at her in the mirror, a hint of wickedness about his normally serious steely blue eyes.

‘Innit,’ said Rosie, looking back at him.

‘You know, we couldn’t even name a dog,’ said Stephen.

‘Lord, I hadn’t even thought of that.’

And laughing with their secret, the special thing of their very own, in the little cosy cottage under the big frosted sky, they fell into one another’s arms.

Chapter Two

Lilian Hopkins was sitting smugly in the day room, with a petition. The petition was to stop the football being shown on the TV downstairs. The four men in the old people’s home were displeased.

Her frenemy, Ida Delia, who had been married to Lilian’s first love before he had been presumed lost in the war, stood behind her, for once on the same side. Both women had made an enormous point of being in mourning for Henry Carr, wearing black every day. Rosie teased Lilian and said it was turning her into a Spanish condesa, which troubled Lilian not at all. Continuing with her conversion to Catholicism, she had added a mantilla, which Rosie was quite shocked at. But she had to admit it was rather dashing, with Lilian’s slash of red lipstick and pale face.

‘Also, I might take up smoking,’ Lilian said, at which Rosie really got annoyed. ‘I’m just trying to hasten being back with my Henry again, and I’ve heard it’s nice.’

‘It’s not nice, it’s foul,’ said Rosie.

‘Well, all right, perhaps just some heroin.’

‘If all the sugar you exist on hasn’t killed you’ – Rosie obviously approved wholeheartedly of sweets as a treat, but Lilian’s commitment to them as a full-time diet caused some tension between them – ‘then I can’t imagine a bit of heroin is going to do it.’

‘Excellent,’ said Lilian. ‘Get me some heroin. Ask Moray.’

‘Moray doesn’t know how to get heroin.’

Lilian looked at her over the tops of her glasses, as if disappointed at Rosie’s naivety.

‘He’s a doctor!’ she said. ‘When I was a girl, all you could get was morphine. When Ebidiah Lumb got his arm chopped off in the thresher …’

Rosie looked at her.

‘Yes, well things are very different now.’

‘I doubt that,’ said Lilian. ‘That old miser Hye never throws anything away.’

Rosie thought of the dispensary at the surgery, which she’d had cause to visit once or twice, and figured there was probably something in that.

‘Well anyway. I’m still not getting you any heroin.’

‘After all I’ve done for you,’ said Lilian.

‘Lilian, I have something to tell you …’

They had hugged their secret to themselves for weeks like fairy treasure, bedazzled by what they had created with their love. However many people had done so before them (about nineteen billion, Stephen reckoned), it could not diminish their private joy by an iota. The outside world, on the other hand …

‘Do you think Lilian will guess?’ Rosie had asked.

‘Yup,’ said Stephen. ‘Though it doesn’t matter if she guesses or not, because like everybody else, she asks us every ten seconds anyway. Oooh, when are you getting married, are you going to take on your title, when are you going to have a baby, she’s not getting any younger.’

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