No major events this week. Managed to get on with volume 3 of my Evil Above the Stars series, resolving one or two little problems I felt I had with it. I’m happy with the progress I’m making there. It would be great to have it finished before volumes 1 and 2 are published by Elsewhen Press at the end of the year.
Next Friday I’m off to the New Writers UK, Gedling Book Festival in Nottingham. I’m hoping for some interest in Painted Ladies and the chance to chat to other writers.
So, on with the Jasmine Frame story, in particular, the prequel to Painted Ladies, The Switch..
The Switch: Part 12
How could she be so silly as to forget that she didn’t have a car? Jasmine agreed with Daniel that if they took the bus back to Kintbridge there was a strong chance of someone seeing them walk from the bus-stop to her home. What about a taxi? Expensive and still a chance of being noticed when they arrived back at the house. No she needed a car so that Daniel could hide until it was clear to get into the inside unseen.
‘I’ll have to go home and pick up the car,’ Jasmine said, ‘Angie, that’s my, um, partner, will be back by about five with it and I can come and pick you up.’
‘OK,’ Daniel said without much enthusiasm.
‘Will you be okay if I leave you here?’
‘Yeah, of course.’
‘Keep out of the way. Don’t draw attention to yourself.’
‘I’m good at that.’
‘How’s your phone?’
‘Getting a bit low on charge.’
‘Well, don’t use it until I text you to say I’m here. But just in case, where shall we meet?’
‘In the car park?’
‘You’ll be pretty conspicuous if you loiter around there. Anyway it’s vast. We’ll never find each other.’
‘OK, by the entrance to the mall.’
‘Where the cinemas are?’ Jasmine wasn’t totally sure of the layout of all the entrances to shopping centre.
‘Yeah, there’s always people hanging round there waiting for a film.’
‘There could be someone from Kintbridge who knows you.’
Daniel shrugged, ‘I suppose so.’
‘I know, let’s go for a wander, look as though we’re shopping and find a suitable spot.’ Jasmine got up from her seat and flung her bag over her shoulder. Daniel followed her from the café.
It was gone four o’clock when Jasmine reached home. The Fiesta was sitting in the drive. Good, Angie had got home in good time. She could head straight back to pick up Daniel.
‘Hi,’ she called as she entered the hallway. Angela emerged from the kitchen still in her business suit.
‘Oh, hello, Jas. Where have you been? I thought you’d be here slogging through your transition forms.’
‘I had to go to Basingstoke.’
‘Basingstoke? Why? On the bus?’
‘Yes. I had to meet Daniel.’
‘Oh, you found him. Why did you have to go to meet him?’
‘You don’t know, do you, Ange?’
‘Kyle, the bully, has been murdered.’
Angela’s face turned pale.
‘Daniel killed him?
‘No. At least I don’t think so but he’s a suspect. The police want to question him.’
‘How did you find him?’
‘He called me on his mobile.’
‘So you’re bringing him in. Why not just tell Tom, or Sloane even and let them pick him up? Why didn’t he come back with you on the bus?’ Angela shook her head as if trying to shake out the confusion.
‘Because Daniel is terrified. He doesn’t want to give himself up. I’m hoping that if I can get him back here I can persuade him to go and be questioned.’
‘You want him to stay here!’
‘Yes, just for a day or two. Give him a chance to get his mind straight so that he can do the right thing.’
‘The right thing is for him to go home to his mother and then speak to the police. If he had nothing to do with Kyle’s death then he’s got nothing to worry about.’
Jasmine understood Angela’s point of view but felt she didn’t really understand the problem.
‘I think you’re forgetting something, Ange.’
‘Daniel is trans. He’s afraid that he’ll be treated as a woman, or that he’ll be abused.’
‘They won’t let that happen, will they?’
‘No, of course not but Dan doesn’t grasp that. He’s scared.’
‘Why not go home?’
‘Because the police are watching his house and he doesn’t want to worry his mother.’
‘She’s worried enough as it is, I expect.’
‘Yes, I know, Ange, and if I get Dan back here for one night then I hope he will see that the best thing is for him to go home.’
Angela shrugged her shoulder in resignation and began to climb the stairs.
‘OK. One night. It’s your job that’s on the line if Sloane doesn’t like what you’re doing.’
‘I can handle Sloane.’
‘Can you? James Frame was his protégé but what about Jasmine Frame? He hasn’t even seen you yet.’
‘Hmm.’ Angela had reawakened doubts that Jasmine had about the degree of understanding she would have from her boss when she returned to work after her transition. DCI Sloane was a strict disciplinarian who followed all the rules but he’d been in the force long before diversity was an issue. He hadn’t reacted with pleasure to her taking time off to transition. What would be his response if he discovered that she was harbouring a suspect? She didn’t think she’d get off lightly. She had to convince Daniel to hand himself in quickly or hope that the real murderer turned up.
‘I’ll be careful. It’ll just be for one night.’
Angela paused at the bend in the stairs.
‘Where’s he going to sleep? We only have two beds.’
‘He can have mine. I’ll come back to sleep with you.’
‘Oh, you will, will you. Perhaps I’ve got used to having the double bed to myself.’ She gave Jasmine a cheeky smile, ‘but I don’t suppose you’ll be interested in doing anything exciting, will you.’
‘With a guest in the house?’
‘Don’t use that excuse.’
‘Where are the car keys?’ Jasmine asked, changing the subject.
‘In the kitchen. I suppose Daniel will need feeding as well won’t he.’
‘I should think so. I would have thought he’s had enough of burger and fries.’
‘I’ll put something on for the three of us. Don’t be long.’ She completed the climb and Jasmine went into the kitchen to pick up the keys to the Fiesta.
She stepped out of the front door and pressed the key fob to unlock the car.
‘Hi, Jas. Going out?’
Jasmine looked up and saw DC Tom Shepherd advancing up the drive, his police Focus blocking her exit.
‘Oh, hi, Tom. Another business call or is this personal?’
Tom ambled up to the back of the Fiesta and stopped a few feet from Jasmine. Jasmine felt awkward. How should she greet a friend, particularly one she’d known for years as a man? Female friends often exchanged kisses. She didn’t think Tom would appreciate that.
‘A bit of both I suppose. I’ve been up at the scene of crime and called on Mrs Parry. Heading back to HQ I thought I drop in and see how you were.’
‘I don’t suppose you’ve heard anything from Daniel Parry. Of course, you would have phoned in if you had.’
‘Of course,’ Jasmine echoed without emphasis. ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’
‘You were on your way out.’
‘Nothing important. You can come in.’
‘No, it was just a passing call. I’ve got to get back for a meeting. We’ve put out an appeal for sightings of Daniel Parry. Got to decide what to do next.’
‘Oh, right. Sorry I’m not there to help.’
‘Yeah. I wish you were too, what with this, um, boy, being trans. We could do with your, um, insight.’
‘Perhaps I can help, if you let me know how the investigation in going. Is Daniel the only suspect?’
‘At the moment. McLeery’s friends check out and there’s no evidence that other gangs have anything to do with it. The Parry kid is the only one to have a real motive for killing him even though McLeery is a renowned troublemaker in the area.’
‘But there’s no actual evidence that Daniel did it?’
‘No, we’re still waiting for the path report and forensics on the length pf pipe we found in the pond.’
‘Well, I hope Daniel turns up and speaks to you soon. I don’t believe he’s the type to kill; even someone who was pestering him as much as Kyle was.’
‘We need to check his alibi, Jas, otherwise he’ll remain top of the list.’
‘I understand that.’
‘Well, I’d better let you go wherever you’re going.’
‘Thanks Tom. Drop in again soon.’ Why did she say that? The last thing she needed was for Tom to turn up for a coffee while Daniel was in the house.
‘Will do,’ Tom said waving and turning back to his car. Jasmine stood and watched him get in and drive off before she got into the Fiesta.