At last they’ve arrived – the paperback copies of Bodies By Design: the 2nd Jasmine Frame novel – and we’re getting pretty merry about it. Actually I can’t fault the printers – they’ve done a great job and kept to their deadline. It’s just that a fortnight can seem like a long time when you’re waiting to get your books in your hands. Let’s hope I won’t have this batch on my hands for long. Go to the Jasmine Frame Publications page to see how you can place an order. Anybody who puts a review (favourable I hope) on Amazon or Facebook or Twitter will get a special thank you from me and a gift worth, oh, lot’s of, um, pence, if you tell me where the review is by emailing email@example.com
This week there is another short excerpt from Bodies By Design below which introduces Viv (?!), to whet your appetite. Next week I’ll be starting a brand new Jasmine Frame prequel novella titled Flashlight, set in a time before she was she and before she was a detective.
The doorbell rang. Jasmine hurried to open it, wiping the tears from her cheeks. The man she had met in the car park stood there holding a bottle of wine. The smoke alarm fell silent.
‘Hi.’ He paused, ‘Look, I wanted to apologise. I’m sure you’re fed up of people recognising you like that. It was rude of me.’
Jasmine held the door, wondering how to respond. He looked at her closely.
‘Hey, are you OK? You’ve been crying.’
‘Well, I’m tired and hungry, I found a body this afternoon and I’ve just burned my supper.’
His eyes widened, but he quickly recovered.
‘Well, I brought this bottle as an apology. You and I could share it and I’ll try to cheer you up. I haven’t eaten yet either, so perhaps we can order a takeaway?’
Jasmine’s first instinct was to thank him and close the door. She was wary of strangers and slow to form new friendships. She had to be sure that people accepted her and weren’t going to react badly to her transsexualism. But this guy seemed different. He knew who and what she was, but had taken the trouble to apologise for blurting it out when they had met. The wine was an attraction too – she needed something to get rid of the smoky taste in her mouth. The promise of a takeaway was the clincher. She opened the door wider and summoned up a cheerful voice.
‘That sounds like a good offer. Come in.’
She stepped back into the room and he followed. Jasmine stooped to remove papers and her bag from the small sofa.
‘I’ll see if I can find a corkscrew, uh, I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.’
‘It’s Viv,’ he said, smiling broadly, ‘I brought a corkscrew, just in case, but perhaps you have a couple of glasses?’
‘Oh, yes, um, Viv. I’ll get some.’ Jasmine hurried to the kitchen, grabbed a pair of wine glasses from the wall cupboard, her only two as it happened, and returned to the living room. Viv was still standing. There was a cheerful pop as the cork was pulled from the bottle. Jasmine held out the two glasses and Viv poured the dark red wine into each. He put the bottle down on the table and took the glass that she offered. Jasmine noted that he was about four inches taller than her.
‘I’m sorry, another apology. While I recalled the reason why you were in the papers, I don’t remember your name.’
‘It’s Jasmine, Jasmine Frame. Welcome to Kintbridge. At least, when you said you were just moving in I presumed you meant that you were new to the area?’
‘That’s right. I’m down from Brum as you can probably tell,’ he clinked his glass against hers, ‘Thanks.’
They each took a sip and Viv folded himself into Jasmine’s battered old sofa. Jasmine sat on a dining chair and, ensuring her knees were together, leaned towards him.
‘So, Viv …?’
‘Short for Vivian. Vivian Jackson. My parents, or rather my father, named me after his great hero.’
‘Viv Richards, the cricketer.’
‘Um, yes. I’m not sure….’ Cricket wasn’t top of Jasmine’s favourite pastimes.
‘My father was born in Jamaica and came here with his parents in the Fifties. He’s always supported the West Indies cricket team, even though now he’s become more British than the British. Viv Richards is his all-time favourite player.’
‘I can understand that.’ Jasmine knew enough about cricket to be vaguely aware of the name.
‘But that’s why I was so annoyed that I had embarrassed you. I know what it’s like to be different. My mum’s white and even in the Eighties life for a mixed race family wasn’t easy. So, I shouldn’t have blurted out about you being transsexual.’
Hearing Viv say the word again made her wince. It was the truth and she’d known it for years, but she hated the label. She just wished to be seen and recognised as a woman. But she appreciated what Viv was saying.
‘That’s OK. It’s just that it’s happened so often since the story got into the media, I’m sick of it.’
‘I’m sure you are. Look what about that takeaway? What do you suggest?’