It’s been a busy week since Painted Ladies was officially published on 1st September. Last night (Friday) we held a launch party where there were drinks and nibbles, readings, signings and books sold. In fact marketing took up quite a bit of the week what with interviews with our local journalist and photographs taken down by the river. There have also been some new encouraging comments about Painted Ladies so I hope more people wil be encouraged to buy, buy, buy.
I did find time to move along a bit with Bodies by Design – the second Jasmine Frame story. It is still going to be some time before that appears so I thought for those wanting to know more about Jasmine Frame I would provide weekly episodes of a prequel which will develop as it moves along. The first part can be read below.
Blueprint – part 1
‘Is that you James?’
James closed the front door and called out his reply.
‘Who were you expecting Ange?’
He looked up as Angela appeared at the bend in the stairs. Her red lips were drawn into broad smile.
‘You of course. You don’t think I’d have my lover turning up now, just when you’re due home.’
‘No. If anyone knew how to time an affair it would be you.’
‘Thanks.’ She reached the last but one step, stopped and rested her arms horizontally on his shoulders. ‘At least you’re back when I was expecting you. Detective Chief Inspector Sloane didn’t need his favourite detective late this evening then?’
James put his arms around Angela’s waist, lifted her up and swung her into the hallway, planting a kiss on those red lips as he did so. He lowered her until her feet touched the floor then pulled his head away.
‘I don’t think Sloane has a favourite. I’m not sure he even likes any of us. He’s just a little less grumpy when we do something right.’
‘So what did he have you doing today?’
‘Oh, interviewing some kids involved in a fight outside The Haughty Hippo last night.’
‘A punch-up? Surely that’s not serious enough for the Violent and Serious Crimes Squad?’
‘One boy pulled a knife and threatened a few of the others. That was enough to get the Chief Constable going. You know he’s got this campaign to combat knife crime.’
‘So Sloane’s crack team of detective was called in, were they?’
‘Just Tom Shepherd and me.’
‘I see – give the new boys something easy to prove that they won’t mess up.’
‘Were you OK?’ A concerned expression had replaced the amusement on Angel’s face.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, you and knives…’
James brushed away her concern.
‘Oh yes. I only had to question the kids, not confront them.’
The smile returned to Angela’s face.
‘So it’s all wrapped up.’
‘Yeah. The idiot with the knife will find himself with a criminal record but it was all straight forward; plenty of witnesses.’
‘Good, so we’ve got the evening together and no chance of Sloane calling you out.’
‘That’s right, unless something big kicks off.’
‘Right, well, you go upstairs and start getting ready while I wait in front of the television. We are going to Butterflies aren’t we?’
James noticed that Angela was dressed for an evening out; a red dress with patterned tights.
‘It’s that Saturday, so, yes, I suppose so.’
‘Well, go on then. It’s gone six-thirty already and it always takes you ages to get ready.’ She pushed him towards the stairs and gave his bottom a playful slap. James ran up the stairs uttering a voluntary yelp.
Standing in the shower with the hot water trickling down his body was a pleasure after the day with the grubby kids who’d spent twelve hours in the cells. He shaved his face carefully and then ran a lady razor over his armpits. Stepping out of the shower cubicle into a warm and spacious bathroom James reflected on how wonderful it was to have their own new house after years in student digs and rented flats. He knew how lucky they were to have his detective constable’s pay and Angela’s fast growing salary as an accountant to get a mortgage. With the banks reluctant to lend and prices in Kintbridge still high, even after the crash, buying a house was a big responsibility for a couple in their mid-20s.
James sauntered into his bedroom still rubbing his backside with the towel which he dropped on the floor. He chose a pot of moisturiser from the dressing table and rubbed into his legs and arms, examining his limbs for hairs as he did so. Although blonde they grew somewhat coarsely and he sometimes felt in need of a waxing – but not now that it was winter. He put the top back on the tub and opened a drawer, taking out a pair of large, elasticated knickers. He pulled them up and carefully tucked his penis and testicles between his legs. He looked in the full length mirror. He was satisfied that there was no sign of a bulge between his legs.
From another drawer he drew out a black bra, efficiently fastened it around his smooth and muscular but flat chest and tucked in the two false breasts that had lain beneath the bra. He sat on the side of the single bed and drew a pair of sheer black tights up his legs and smoothed them to remove all wrinkles. Opening the wardrobe he paused. Which dress should it be for this evening at Butterflies? There wasn’t much doubt really; it had to be the new midnight blue sequins. He lifted it off the hanger and dropped it over his head. It fell to mid-thigh. He looked in the mirror. His shoulders were a bit broad and he had no waist to speak of but the shimmering sequins disguised his lack of female shape. He was nearly there.
James sat on the stool in front of the dressing table and began his transformation. Foundation, applied not too thickly, eyebrow pencil, eye liner and shadow, blue of course, mascara, thick and black, rouge, bright red lipstick. Finally he reached for the long blonde wig that sat on its stand. He tugged it over his short fair hair. He was so grateful to Angela for teaching him how to apply cosmetics and choose the right wig so that the face that now stared back at him looked not like a pantomime dame, but what he really felt he was – a young woman. Jasmine Frame looked out of the mirror.