Well, here it is – the final episode of The Switch. A bit of resolution, life goes on, that sort of thing. Eighteen episodes, 26,000 words. It was fun actually, and at least I had some idea this time where the story was going. But does it work as a novella? What do I do with it now? One possibility is to publish it and Blueprint as e-books, or wait and see what happens to Bodies by Design for which I am still hoping for a publisher. Ideas and comments would be very welcome.
I will be starting a third Jasmine Frame prequel in a couple of weeks. I’m just getting ideas together. Away from this blog things are pretty busy – life does indeed go on. I’m working on the third volume of Evil Above the Stars and soon I expect to be working with Elsewhen Press on the proofs of the first two volumes, Seventh Child and Power of Seven. As I mentioned I am still actively looking for a publisher for Jasmine, and sometime soon will start putting together the third novel which is still untitled.
Isn’t it great being a writer.
The Switch: Part 18
There was a glow in the eastern sky as Jasmine stooped the Fiesta in the driveway. She hauled herself from the driver’s seat and fumbled her key in the front door lock. She stumbled up the stairs willing her eyes to stay open. Which bedroom should she go to? Was Daniel asleep in her bed?
‘James?’ A sleepy call from their bedroom. No, it was Angela’s bedroom now. Jasmine pushed the door open and peered round it. Angela was heaving herself up on to her elbow.
‘You’re awake?’ Jasmine said unnecessarily.
‘Of course. I always hear you when you fall up the stairs in the middle of the night.’ Angela put the bedside light on. Her mussed up, long, brown hair and reminded Jasmine why she had been so attracted to Angela.
‘Where have you been?’
‘At the station.’
‘All this time?’
‘Yes. Sloane made Tom put me through it.’ Jasmine entered the bedroom and sat on the bed.
‘You’ve still got a job?’ Angela’s face showed her concern as much as her voice.
‘Yes, just. Where’s Daniel?’ Jasmine remembered that Angela had called the police. ‘Did they take him in?’
‘He’s at home with his mother. Where he should be.’
‘Oh, Good. Why did you hand him over?’ She felt betrayed and couldn’t help it coming through in her voice.
‘I didn’t,’ Angela took hold of Jasmine’s hand and squeezed. ‘I thought you were being stupid but I didn’t dump Sloane on you.’
‘It seems like it. You rang in,’ Jasmine said.
‘I know but it was Daniel’s own decision. After you dashed off to see his father we talked. He was very grateful for what you had done but realised that you might be in a difficult position with your colleagues. OK, I explained that you may have put your job on the line by not informing Sloane of Daniel’s whereabouts. He thought about it.’
‘He was scared.’
‘I know, but he’s a sensible boy. He asked me to phone the police and make excuses for you. Say that Daniel had come to you to hand himself in.’
Jasmine felt a lump in her throat thinking of Daniel overcoming his fears of being treated as a girl.
‘I made the call, spoke to someone. They said a car would come to pick Daniel up. No one came. Then a few hours ago, it must have been midnight, I got a call from someone. One of your colleagues I suppose.’
‘What did they say?’
‘That Daniel wasn’t a suspect anymore and wasn’t needed, but he should go to the station tomorrow to give a statement.’
‘How did Daniel react?’
‘Well, at first he was delighted. We both were. Then he got this idea that it was his father that had killed the other boy. That made him upset of course. I suggested that he should speak to his mother. He rang her and then I walked him home.’
‘You walked over to the estate at midnight.’
‘Yes. It was quiet.’
‘You were lucky.’
Angela shrugged. ‘Perhaps. Anyway. What happened to you? Was it Daniel’s father?’
‘No, although he became an accidental accessory.’
Jasmine told the story of her evening. It was well rehearsed having gone through it a number of times with Tom. When she got to the confrontation with Kyle’s thugs in the security hut her voice trembled. Angela eyes went to the tear in her T-shirt.
‘You weren’t hurt, Jas, were you?’
‘No. He got my false boob. I’ll have to dig out my spare ones.’
‘But knives, Jas. I know what you’re like.’ Jasmine had nightmares of knife attacks.
‘It was over in a moment. I was OK. There was too much happening to think about what a knife can do.’
‘So, that was it. Tamsin’s guilty of what – manslaughter?’
‘Yes. She didn’t intend killing Kyle.’
‘And Daniel’s father is accused of concealing evidence, tampering with a crime scene.’
‘Something like that.’ Jasmine knew she should know the precise wording for her sergeant’s exams.
‘And Daniel’s in the clear.’
‘Yes. He’ll have to give evidence because of setting his father off after Kyle and because he was part of the reason for the argument between Kyle and Tamsin.’
‘I’ll have to give evidence too, especially as Tamsin confessed to me.’
‘I meant your job; your relationship with Sloane.’
‘Well, it hasn’t done it much good. He was suspicious of my transition; he doesn’t seem to know whether to treat me as one of the guys or as one of these strange females that he’s increasingly have to deal with.’
‘But he’s keeping you in the team.’
‘Yes. I’m on probation. It’ll probably be like what it was right at the start with him watching everything I do and issuing his orders every two minutes.’
‘You can cope, Jas. You’re a good detective and he knows it.’
‘Yes, well. I’ll be good for nothing if I don’t get some sleep.’
‘What’s the time?’
Jasmine glanced at her watch. ‘About half five. I think I’ll sleep to midday.’
‘You can’t,’ Angela said.
‘Have you forgotten? You’ve got that appointment with that new doctor at eight thirty.’
‘Mr James Frame to Doctor Gould.’
Jasmine froze. Around her in the waiting room were elderly men and women, women with babies and young children, other people with various ailments. They were all listening for their appointment to be called and watching to see who got up next. She couldn’t move. If she stood up they’d see a smart, young woman in a summer dress but they’d know she was Mister James Frame, male. They’d wonder, perhaps some would snigger. But she couldn’t wait. The name may be called again or Dr Gould might assume that she wasn’t there and call her next appointment. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. At least she didn’t know any of these people. She thought of Daniel, at school surrounded by people who knew him when he was Emma.
Jasmine stood up. She opened her eyes and looked around. Most people weren’t looking in her direction. Nobody was looking at her with any kind of interest. She hooked her bag over her shoulder and walked determinedly towards the corridor and her appointment.
The door had a handwritten label on it saying Dr.J.Gould. How long would it take for Jilly Gould to get a permanent name plate, Jasmine wondered, she’d already been in the practice for a couple of months. Jasmine tapped on the door, heard a voice from inside and entered.
‘Hi, uh, Jasmine. Come and sit down.’ Jilly Gould was young, ginger-haired and her red-cheeked face full of smiles.
‘They called for Mr James Frame,’ Jasmine said sitting down on the plastic chair beside Dr. Gould’s desk. Jilly frowned.
‘Oh, did they? I’m sorry, Jasmine. But you’re here today to make your transition formal aren’t you? It won’t happen again, I promise.’
Jasmine handed over a sheaf of forms.
‘I’m on leave to sort out all the legal changes. As far as the law is concerned I’m now female.’
‘Good,’ Jilly glanced at the forms and placed them on her desk. ‘You’re happy about it.’
‘Yes. It’s a start. No more complications. I’m female, my documents say I’m female, or will once they’re processed, and I hope I look female.’
‘You do, Jasmine. You’re looking lovely.’
Jasmine didn’t feel lovely. She’d had just over an hour’s sleep before she had got up and started making preparations for this appointment. She had showered, shaved closely all over her body but particularly her face, moisturised, dressed with thought and finally made-up with great care; but her eyelids were heavy and she felt tired.
‘Thanks. Now I want to move on. I want the full gender reassignment.’
‘Yes, I understand, Jasmine. We’ve discussed this. You’ve helped me learn a lot about gender identity that I didn’t know before. You still want to follow the NHS route?’
‘I haven’t got any choice, Jilly,’ Jasmine said, ‘I haven’t got the cash to go private. All my savings, our savings I should say, Angela’s and mine, went into buying the house. I can’t deprive her of that even though we will separate. And I’ll need my share to get my own place to live.’
‘I understand Jasmine. You’ve explained it to me, but you know that the NHS process can take a long time.’
‘The good news is that I’ve got an appointment for your assessment at the GR centre. It’s a couple of weeks’ time. If that goes well, we’ll be able to get you on the drugs, the oestrogens and the ant-androgens. Then you’ll start to see some changes even before you have the surgery.’
‘Thanks, Jilly.’ Jasmine felt excitement fill her. She was on the path to womanhood. Sometime in the future, perhaps not too distant, she would be able to stand naked in front of a mirror and see an image that matched her inner vision of herself – Jasmine Frame, detective.
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as paperback and e-book from all booksellers.