It’s been a frustrating week. Other work has meant that I haven’t had time to move on with Bodies by Design although it has been on my mind, along with plots for the other sequels. I also need to devote time to marketing Painted Ladies as copies won’t sell themselves. At least I’ve got my evening at The Sitting Room in Ludlow on 27th November to plan. It’s going to be called “Jasmine and me: transgender fiction and reality”. I’ll read excerpts from Painted Ladies and Bodies by Design and perhaps some of the other stories involving Jasmine Frame such as Blueprint. I’ll talk about Jasmine and about myself. I hope that there will be enough people there to do some signing at the end. Once again publicity will be needed to attract an audience.
Anyway, all that is still to come. Here’s the next part of the prequel series.
Blueprint, Part 7
Neither spoke for a moment, then Angela got up.
‘Have you had anything to eat recently?’
Jasmine thought. What time is it now? She glanced at the neat little gold watch on her wrist. Gone nine o’clock. It was over eight hours since she’d grabbed a sandwich in the canteen at Police HQ. She hadn’t felt hungry but she did now.
‘No. I could do with something.’
‘I had lasagne when I got in. There’s a portion left. I’ll heat it up. Do you want to get some salad.’
They both busied in the kitchen until Jasmine’s meal was ready for her. She sat at the dining table and stuck her fork into the steaming pasta. Angela leaned against the cupboards sipping her wine.
‘Did he leave a note?’
‘Peter Thwaite? A brief one. Didn’t explain why he was about to kill himself.’
‘So the wife still doesn’t know?’
‘What about his female clothes? Where did he keep them?’
‘I thought they would be in his car or somewhere in the garage. It’s clean enough to act as a dressing room, the garage that is, but Tom did a search and didn’t find any women’s clothes.’
‘Was he looking for them?’
‘No. He doesn’t know Peter Thwaite is also Petula, does he.’
‘I suppose not.’
‘But he still didn’t come across Petula’s gear.’
They were silent as Jasmine ate a few more forkfuls of lasagne and salad. The flavour was ignored while she pondered.
‘So he must have got rid of them,’ Angela said, eventually.
‘Looks like it.’
‘He’s gone to great lengths to make sure his wife doesn’t find out that he’s a cross-dresser hasn’t he.’
‘Including killing himself.’
‘Will it come out?’
Jasmine was thinking. What were the possible consequences of Petula’s suicide?
‘If Sloane decides it is just a simple case of suicide then the papers will be passed to the coroner for the inquest. There may be some attempt to find out what Thwaite’s state of mind was but Sloane won’t want to devote a lot of time to an investigation. So the fact that he was a trannie may not be revealed.’
‘But it’s not a simple case of suicide is it?’
‘It looks like it, but you’re right, it’s not. Those photos must have pushed him over and someone is responsible for them.’
‘You’re going to have to tell Sloane aren’t you?’
‘Should I? As you said, Peter Thwaite has done all he could to stop his wife finding out his secret. Shouldn’t we respect that? It’s only you and I that know about the photos.’
‘And let the joker with the photos get away with murder. That’s what it looks like to me, Jas.’
Jasmine was surprised at Angela’s vehemence.
‘You’re right, as usual, Ange. I’m going to have to work out how to do this.’
‘Sleep on it. Come on have a glass of wine and relax.’
It was Saturday morning but Sloane was in his office early as usual. He was sitting there reading their report when he called Tom and James in.
‘Straightforward case of suicide,’ DCI Sloane said with a tone of finality
‘Looks like it, sir,’ Tom said, standing stiffly in front of the desk.
‘There’s no apparent reason for him taking his own life,’ James said. He was dwarfed as usual by Tom’s height and felt he was skulking at his partner’s side.
‘What are you suggesting, Frame? That he was murdered?’ Sloane his eyes raised to examine James. They seemed to want to search inside James’ brain.
‘No, I’m sure Peter Thwaite killed himself, sir, but there’s no indication why.’
Sloane scanned through the report again.
‘That is true. Your report does not suggest a reason for his decision to kill himself.’
‘Perhaps we should try and find out a little bit more about him,’ Jasmine went on.
‘Hmm. Yes, the coroner will want some indication as to why his mind was unbalanced.’ Sloane scratched his chin while Tom and James stood silent. ‘Can’t afford much expenditure on an investigation,’ Sloane went on, ‘It’ll have to be just you two. You’ve got until Tuesday to come up with the answers.’
‘Three days sir?’ Tom said.
‘I believe it’s four counting tomorrow, Shepherd.’
‘It’s Sunday, tomorrow, sir.’
‘So? Crime doesn’t stop for Sundays. If there’s a job to be done detectives work twenty four-seven.’
James sensed Tom shrink beside him.
‘Yes, sir,’ Tom said miserably.
‘Well, get on with it, or it will only be three days.’ Sloane closed the folder and added it to a pile in a tray and opened the next on the heap in front of him. James hurried out Sloane’s presence and returned to his desk in the larger outer office which was deserted. He sat in his chair as Tom came and loomed over him.
‘What did you go and do that for? Now we’ve got to work tomorrow. I was hoping for a relaxing day with Sophie.’
James strained his neck to look up at his friend.
‘Oh, yes, Sophie. How did it go last night?’
‘She was a little pissed off at how late I was but she said yes. Well, she asked the question and I said yes.’
‘Congratulations. You’re getting married.’
‘Yes. We were going to tell her parents tomorrow, but now you’ve scuppered that.’
James realised that his concern for Petula had ramifications.
‘I’m sorry, Tom.’
‘Well, I guess you didn’t really want to give up a Sunday off, but I’ll ask again. Why did you do it? It might have been Monday before Sloane decided to look into Thwaite’s mental state if you hadn’t brought it up, and then he may have just passed it on to the uniform guys to complete the job for the inquest.’
‘I felt that since we’d started the investigation we should finish it,’ James said.
‘Why? There’s probably no crime involved. Thwaite was probably just feeling down.’
‘Down enough to kill himself by sitting in his car with a gas pipe stuffed through the window.’
‘Well, who knows? Perhaps he’d been depressed for some time.’
‘His medical notes would tell us that but I don’t think they will, Tom.’
‘How do you know? What is it about this guy that is getting you so worked up, Jim?’
James pulled the drawer of his desk open and pulled out a sheaf of buff envelopes. He spread them out on his desk.
‘These,’ he said.