Publication of Evil Above the Stars volume 1, Seventh Child, the first novel featuring sixteen year old, September Weekes, is days away and I’m getting very excited. It is available for pre-order (here) as an e-book and will be on sale from 2nd January. I’m really hoping that September’s adventures in an alternate world and the perils she encounters grab the imagination of readers – both young adults and older. I would really appreciate reviews anyone would care to write. The second volume, Power of Seven, follows soon.
It would be really exciting to buld up a following before the paperbacks come out in March and the grand launch at EasterCon. While the publication of Painted Ladies was a big event for me, this is in many ways more important because it is down to a publisher, the good folks at Elsewhen Press, who have put their money and reputation on the line to get my stories published. Come back here to find out more about September, my vision of the worlds she inhabits, the trials she faces and the people who befriend her.
Meanwhile, regarding Jasmine Frame, there is no news to report but here is the next episode of the the fourth prequel.
Discovering Jasmine: Part 3
The door on the other side of the police car opened and Holly slid in beside Jasmine. Then the other police officer got into the front seat.
‘Are you alright, Jame….Jasmine?’ Holly said. Her eyes flicked up and down showing her taking in Jasmine’s dishevelled appearance.
‘Yeah,’ Jasmine muttered, avoiding Holly’s gaze. ‘I’m sorry about your dress.’ She pulled at the broken end of the left shoulder strap of the satin dress trying to cover up her chest. It was no use – the bag of rice had gone and she was left with just one false breast.
Holly waved her concerns away. ‘It’s alright. I’m just glad you didn’t get as badly hurt as that other, um, girl. The ambulance has taken her off to hospital now.’
The second police officer twisted to face them both. His eyes lingered on Jasmine. ‘We’re going to the station to take your statements. It won’t take long. Then we’ll run you home.’
A statement! She was going to have to describe what had happened and explain how she’d got involved. Did it mean that she’d be found out as a transvestite? Jasmine shivered and her bare skin became goose-pimpled.
‘Are you cold?’ Holly asked.
‘No. I’m fine,’ Jasmine insisted. The engine started and the Rover moved off through the cordon with its lights flashing. On-lookers parted, peering in through the car windows at their street-lamp illuminated figures.
It was still dusk when they had left home – a warm and, now that the rain clouds had blown away, dry evening. As they walked to the bus stop Jasmine felt strangely exposed with her arms and shoulders bare and the evening breeze blowing on her shaved legs. She carefully placed one high heel in front of the other so that her bottom swayed and the gossamer-light hem of the dress brushed sensuously across her upper thighs. She worried that passers-by were looking at her but Holly took her arm and whispered.
‘They’re looking at both of us – two pretty girls off on an evening out.’
The bus arrived after just a few minutes wait and they snuggled into a pair of seats. On the short drive down to the seafront it filled up with other couples, boy-girl, boy-boy and girl-girl, and other groups of people of a similar age to themselves. Apart from a few of the boys no-one took a second glance at Holly and Jasmine. They all disembarked at the terminus on the sea-front and joined the movement towards the entertainments along the promenade.
‘Here we are,’ Holly said as they joined a short queue outside The Safe. The building was a former bank but now advertised itself as the town’s best venue for the new millennium. ‘I don’t think it’s changed,’ Holly said, ‘I came here with my friends when I was at school.’
‘So they’ll let me in?’ Jasmine asked, feeling a bit exposed now they weren’t moving.
‘Of course. Two attractive girls. We’ll always get in.’
The queue inched forwards and then they were past the bouncers and inside the club. Heavy beats thudded against her chest and the heat immediately made Jasmine’s foundation bubble. She realised why Holly had insisted that they would not be underdressed. The dance floor was packed with young people making the most of the last week of the high season, the week before many of them, locals and visitors alike, returned to being school students.
Holly pushed through the crowd to the bar dragging Jasmine with her. Jasmine was amazed how quickly she attracted the young barman’s attention and ordered drinks. She turned away from the bar with two tall glasses in her hand. Bubbles rising in the clear green liquid.
‘White wine spritzer,’ Holly bellowed in Jasmine’s ear, ‘Get you in the mood for dancing, but don’t put it down if you want to come back to it.’
‘Why?’ Jasmine mouthed.
‘Drugs.’ Holly replied. ‘Keep safe! And keep your bag over your shoulder.’ Jasmine placed a hand on the small bag that hung at her hip.
With their glasses in their hands they drifted to the edge of the gyrating, bouncing mass of limbs and bodies in its own cloud of vapour and spray. They watched for a few minutes, sipping from their glasses until Holly put hers down on a table.
‘Come on!’ she shouted through the din and pulled on Jasmine’s hand. As she was being pulled onto the dancefloor, Jasmine put her almost empty glass down. They joined in the rhythmic leaping, gradually working their way into the melee. Jasmine lost herself to the beat, tossing her head and limbs with the exultation of being herself. The slightly rough segue from one track to the next brought her back to herself and she saw a couple of young men grinding their pelvises up and down in front of her and Holly, their bodies barely a few centimetres apart. Jasmine glanced at her sister. She was taking no notice of the boy whose eyes were focussed on her oscillating breasts. Jasmine closed her eyes and continued to dance.
‘Let’s take a break. I need the loo.’ Holly’s shouted voice was just audible in her ear. Jasmine opened her eyes having lost count of how many numbers they had been dancing to. The boy was still there throbbing in front of her, sweat dripping from his chins and lights reflecting from his shiny face. There was a certain kind of look in his wide-pupilled eyes – desire, lust, longing. Jasmine surprised herself by realising that she was the subject of those emotions. The guy fancied her!
Holly tugged her hand and dragged her through the crowd to a corridor and the ladies toilets. Inside was almost as full as the dancefloor, with girls dabbing their sweaty faces, repairing make-up, sucking cold water from their hands. Holly pushed Jasmine into a vacant cubicle. She locked the door and reached under her dress to tug down her pants then stood in front of the toilet bowl. That was when she remembered that she was a girl. She turned and sat but didn’t need long; perspiration had dehydrated her. Standing, she carefully tucked her bits away and made sure that her dress hadn’t got tucked into the knickers, then opened the door. The throng was just as great. She felt unsure what to do, then another door opened and Holly emerged. She pushed through the bodies to a washbasin, swilled her hands, dabbed her face with cold water and pulled her lipstick from her bag. Jasmine copied her then followed her from the room.
‘Phew, I was getting puffed from the dancing,’ Holly said in the relative quiet of the corridor. ‘You’re fitter than me; you can take it.’ Jasmine nodded, the dancing had barely raised her heart rate. ‘Those boys were getting a bit too interested, as well. I thought an excuse to get away was needed.’
‘He really thought I was girl,’ Jasmine said, thinking about the way the boy had been looking at her.
‘Of course he did. You’re everything he wanted – tall, slim, blonde hair that’s really striking, and tits.’
‘Except they’re not real.’
‘And that’s why we had to move away. Give him a few minutes more and he would have moved in with his tongue and hands going everywhere. You wouldn’t want that would you?’
Wouldn’t she? To be in a boy’s arms, lips pressed against lips. Kissing a boy? She felt confused. Then Holly’s words penetrated – his hands groping her, finding the rice bag boobs, rising up her bare thigh, reaching her …
‘No, I don’t want that,’ she said.
‘Perhaps we should try somewhere else. Let’s go up the prom to Hypnotism. It’s a bit less of a cattle-market than this place.’
‘OK,’ Jasmine agreed and followed Holly to the exit. It was dark now but the summer street decorations and lights of the bars and restaurants made the seafront almost as bright as day. They joined the people walking along the promenade. Jasmine appreciated getting away from the deafening level of the music in the club and the cooler evening air. She walked along with her dress swaying and the perspiration cooling under her bare arms, thinking how much she was enjoying being out.
Raucous shouts drew her attention. Thirty metres in front of them a girl was confronted by half a dozen young men. She wore a short red skirt over stockings with high stiletto heeled shoes. Long black hair flowed over her tight, sequinned blouse. She stood still, head bowed, cringing as each man’s mouth opened and a noise emerged.
For a moment the sounds made no sense, then Jasmine’s brain translated the words of abuse.
She froze, watching as the group of boys formed a semicircle around the woman who was pushed back against the railings. The tirade of abuse continued. The woman raised her head looking over the shoulders of her captors directly at Jasmine. In that glance Jasmine saw herself.
‘She’s like me,’ Jasmine cried.
‘Yes, but…’ Holly said.
Fists were raised and blows started to fall on the cross-dresser.
‘No!’ Jasmine screamed, starting to run.
‘Jasmine!’ Holly shouted. ‘Come back! You can’t…’
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including here