Lots of people write. A lot write simply for the pleasure of seeing their ideas appear on paper or screen. Others write for a circle of friends such as a writers’ group and enjoy the feedback they receive. Many hope to sell their work to magazines or as books, paper or e, either self-published or with a publishing deal. The money is a confirmation of the worth of their work. I fit into all three categories. It is fun putting imagination to work in writing a story and I value the comments and suggestions from my writers’ group friends, but I am conceited enough to believe that there are people out there who will be willing to pay to read my creations. The problem is reaching those generous people who are prepared to hand over their hard-earned cash. I have been down the self-published route and while it is good to have control over the publishing process it takes a considerable outlay and you have to work like stink to get your money back – something I haven’t done for a variety of reasons.
I am lucky to have a publisher, Elsewhen Press, for my fantasy series, Evil Above the Stars, which is coming out in the new year. I don’t expect to make a fortune but I am committing my time and not my savings to see the books, Seventh Child and Power of Seven published. I hope that EAtS (as we refer to it) is a success for Elsewhen and justifies their investment.
I would like the same for the Jasmine Frame series and in particular, Bodies By Design the follow-up to Painted Ladies. I believe that she is an interesting character, regardless of gender identity issues, and that my writing is sufficiently competent for the series to make money for a publisher. Finding that lucky company is the problem. It seems that some publishers would like to wrap up all the rights to a story while making paltry efforts in marketing and offering little reward to the author. I have hopes that Jasmine’s fate will be in better hands.
This blog is an attempt to get a wider audience for my writings and introduce readers to Jasmine through the novella length, episodic prequels that I have posted which explore the early stages of Jasmine’s transition from male to female. Talking of which, Close-up, the third of the prequels, reaches its conclusion today. There will be a break for a week or two while I look at other issues on this page, but Jasmine will be back in another story very soon. Anyway, here’s the last episode of Close-up.
Close-up: Part 14
The muted ringtone of Jasmine’s phone sounded from inside her bag. Jasmine’s legs tensed. Harris’s head turned towards the bag that lay on the floor by the front door where Jasmine had dropped it.
Jasmine sprang up, her left hand reaching out for Harris’ right arm. The knife wavered in the corner of her eye but she focussed on his face. Her thighs thrust her forward and her fingers encircled his wrist. Her grip tightened as his head turned to her, his mouth open in surprise. Palm open, she rammed her right hand into his chin pushing his head back. She held the knife-wielding hand away from her. Harris fell backwards pulling Jasmine with him. As his head hit the carpet, Jasmine smashed his hand against the floor. Harris’ grip loosened and the knife fell out.
Jasmine straddled Harris’ prone body. She held his right arm down and reached to grab his left. The phone continued to ring.
She breathed in and her head filled with pain. It was if her skull was being filled to bursting point by heavy water that sloshed from side to side. Her vision blurred.
‘Jas. What can I do?’ Angela asked.
‘Come and kneel on his chest. Hold him down while I untie you.’ Jasmine pulled Harris’ arms across his body. There was no resistance but a moan came from him. ‘Quick, before he comes round and starts to move.’ Jasmine shuffled onto Harris’ thighs as Angela stepped over him and sat down heavily. Harris let out an ‘oof’. Jasmine undid the knots she had tied a few minutes before.
‘Sorry, I didn’t think to tie a slipknot like you did, Ange.’ Jasmine pulled the tights away releasing Angela’s arms.
Angela rubbed her wrists. ‘I’m glad those years in the Brownies finally proved useful.’
‘Help me turn him so we can get him trussed up.’
Together they rolled Harris over with no resistance from him. Still the phone rang, the jangling making her head worse.
Jasmine handed the tights to Angela. ‘You seem to know your knots. Tie him firmly. I’ll get the phone.’ She reached for her bag, pulled it open, dug out the mobile, and lifted it to her ear.
‘Jasmine. Are you at home?’
‘Good. We’ve got Amber Markham and found the suitcase.’
‘Great. We’ve got Harris.’
‘He jumped us when we got home.’
‘Harris was waiting at your house?’
‘Yes. We managed to overcome him. Get a car here.’
‘Are you both alright?’
‘I’m OK. A bit of a headache. Angela’s alright, I think.’ Angela nodded to her. ‘She’s sitting on him now.’
‘There’ll be someone with you in a few moments. I’d better go.’
‘Thanks, Tom.’ Jasmine dropped the phone onto the stairs and looked down at Harris. He attempted to lift his head up and extend his legs.
‘Don’t move or I’ll put you out again, Harris.’ Jasmine said.
‘Can I kick him?’ Angela asked as if she was eager to do him some injury.
‘Just stay sitting on him. Are you really OK?’
‘Yes. How about you? Is your head bad?’
Jasmine thought about her answer. If she held her head still there was just a heavy throbbing with an additional ache in her neck where Harris had hit her.
‘I’ll be OK. I’m sorry that this shit gave you a fright.’
‘Uh, I don’t think I had time to be scared. What was he going to do?’
‘Let’s ask him.’ Jasmine knelt down beside Harris and lowered her head to his. ‘What was it you said you wanted to do with us, Harris?’
He replied groggily, ‘I wanted you to help me get away.’
‘There was no chance of that. Half the force would be after you. You said you might kill Angela and me. Why?’
‘It’s your fault.’
‘You got Parnell picked up and linked him with Amber, Ashley and me.’
‘If I hadn’t someone else would have.’
‘Yeah, but you’re like Stephen, a trannie.’
An urge to smash her fist into Harris’s face filled her. ‘I am not like Parnell. I am a woman.’
Harris sighed, ‘Yeah, Yeah.’
‘You thought you were smart, Harris, didn’t you? Making Parnell think you were his friend, encouraging him to dress and persuading the two girls that had got him convicted to have sex with you. Then this farcical plot to cover up Jack’s murder. You forgot all the CCTV cameras that picked up Amber’s movements and Parnell being on the sex register. Amber’s story unravelled almost as soon as she tried telling it.’ It made her feel better showing Harris what a jerk he’d been.
‘It would have worked if Amber and Parnell had done it like I told them to.’
‘Controlling people is more difficult than finding where they live and watching them. You’re just a Peeping Tom, getting your kicks by violating people’s private lives. You’re worse than Stephen Parnell.’
‘He’s a perv.’
‘And you’re not!’ Jasmine laughed. The doorbell rang.
Jasmine got to her feet and opened the door. Two uniformed officers stood there.
‘DC Frame?’ one said.
‘Yes. Come in. You’ve come to collect him.’ She pointed to Harris. ‘I think you can get off him now, Ange.’
Angela stood up. Harris wriggled and tried to get up but the police officers stepped in and hauled him to his feet. One held him firmly by the upper arm while the other snapped hand cuffs around his wrists and untied the tights.
‘These yours, ma’am?’ the PC said holding out the tights to Jasmine.
‘Yes. I think those are mine.’
There was a rap of knuckles on the door and she turned to find DCI Sloane filling the doorway with Tom standing behind him.
‘Ah, all secure, then Frame?’ Sloane said.
‘Yes, Sir,’ Jasmine replied.
‘Have you formally arrested him?’
‘No, Sir. I thought as I was on sick leave or suspension I should leave it to someone else.’ In fact, reciting his rights hadn’t occurred to her.
‘Yes, well, Shepherd can do it. Take Harris outside.’ The two officers prodded Harris. Jasmine and Sloane stepped aside as he was escorted out.
Sloane pushed the door closed and looked at Angela. ‘Are you alright, Mrs Frame? I was told that Harris attacked you.’
‘It’s Bevan, Chief Inspector. I went back to my maiden name when Jasmine transitioned. I’m fine. He attacked Jasmine and threatened her with a knife. I just did what I was told.’
Sloane looked a little confused. ‘But, nevertheless, you overpowered Harris, Frame?’
‘When he told Angela to tie me up she used a slipknot,’ Jasmine explained with pride for her not yet ex-wife, ‘and then she got him talking while I managed to get myself free.’
‘Very good, Miss, ah, Bevan.’ Sloane nodded. ‘What did he tell you?’
‘The whole story, I think,’ Jasmine said, ‘including that Amber killed her baby.’
‘She says it was Harris.’
‘Tom said she’d been found.’ Jasmine was eager to get the full story even though her head was aching and she really wanted to lie down.’
‘Hmm, yes. Kingston and Money had to follow a trail of Harris’ acquaintances as his parents didn’t know where he was living. They found Miss Markham in a squat that Harris had been sharing.’
‘And you’ve found Jack’s body.’
‘Yes, Frame. Your hunch was correct. The case was hidden in undergrowth behind Stiles’ house. The pathologist is trying to identify the cause of death. Now I think I had better leave you to recover from your injuries.’
‘Thank you, Chief Inspector,’ Angela said. ‘The hospital said that Jasmine was supposed to rest.’
‘I’m sure that is the best thing. We’ll be in touch tomorrow, Frame.’
‘Am I suspended, Sir?’
‘We’ll talk tomorrow.’ Sloane turned away, opened the door and stepped outside. As the door closed, Angela took Jasmine’s arm and guided her into the lounge.
‘I’ll make some tea. I expect you need to take some more tablets, don’t you Jas?’
‘Yes, I do.’ Jasmine lowered herself into the sofa trying to avoid sudden movements of her head. With the excitement over she only had the headache to concentrate on. Angela went into the kitchen and prepared tea, while Jasmine sat with her eyes closed.
‘Here you are,’ Angela said returning with two mugs of steaming tea.
Jasmine reached for one mug. ‘I’m sorry, Angela.’
‘Getting you involved in this. Getting you attacked.’
‘It was you he attacked.’
‘But he was threatening to kill both of us. If you hadn’t made it possible for me to get free …’
‘And if you hadn’t floored him, Jas.’ Angela smiled at Jasmine’s modest shrug. ‘He was dangerous, and he had a knife. You were great.’
‘Thanks. You were too.’
Angela waved a hand to dismiss Jasmine’s praise. She sat beside her. ‘I was thinking while the kettle boiled.’
‘What I said about you moving out, Jas. What if Harris had attacked you when you were on your own somewhere? Perhaps we should stick together.’
Jasmine swallowed a painkiller tablet and took a sip of hot tea. ‘Thanks, Angela, but it was my stupidity that revealed our address to Harris. I shouldn’t have allowed it to be public knowledge. But you were right. It’s time I got a place of my own and let you, Miss Bevan, get on with your own career and life. I need to pursue my job on my own. If I still have one.’
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as a paperback and e-book from all booksellers including Amazon