Jasmine searches

Let’s get the advertising out of the way.

From today until Tuesday 8th you can get Discovering Jasmine for Kindle Free.  Go here to get your copy.

Discovering Jasmine introduces Jasmine when she is the seventeen years old James, just learning what his need to be feminine means. It leads to her first case, defending an older transsexual. Discovering Jasmine is a novella length story.

discovering jasmine final cover

Right, that’s done.

So what has caught my eye this week.  Well, I suppose it’s the resignation  of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon for “inappropriate behaviour”.  He wasn’t, perhaps, the most obvious candidate to be the first to fall in the Westminster sex-pest scandal but I thought his attempts to wriggle were contemptuous.  First, he seemed to think that there has been a huge change in morals in the fifteen years since he groped a journalist – not in my mind there hasn’t.  It is approaching a hundred years since women got the vote and more than thirty since they achieved (if that is the right word) equality in law. I think treating women as objects to maul and grope was wrong fifteen, thirty, more years ago. Secondly he made his apology only to the servicemen which he oversaw in his cabinet post. There was no real apology to women in general for his attitude to them or to men for again bringing masculinity into disrepute.  Who knows who else will be revealed as a perpetrator of this misogyny.  What I find interesting is that the aftershocks of the Weinstein affair, in the UK at least, have caught up politicians more than any other group.

……………………..

Now to return to Jasmine Frame and the second episode of the new prequel story, Reflex.

Reflex: Part 2

They drove slowly through the estate.
‘Have we got a description?’ James asked.
‘Sort of,’ Sarah replied. ‘Matthew is a little small for his age and slight. He’s got long dark hair and he’s wearing skinny jeans and a jumper.’ James thought the boy sounded like many others of his age but since the dark streets were deserted there wasn’t anyone to check.
They carried on along estate roads, but James noticed that although Sarah was driving slowly they were moving away from the scene of the crime.
‘Are we headed somewhere?’ James asked.
‘I have an idea. Not sure if it’s right,’ the PC answered.
‘What is it?’
‘Well, if you’d done something really bad. . .’
‘Like kill your father?’
‘Yes, so you had to get away. Where would you go?’
James considered. ‘I don’t know. A dark hole where I couldn’t be found?’
Sarah shrugged. ‘OK, that’s a possibility, anywhere else.’
‘I don’t know Abingdon, I don’t know where I’d go.’
‘If you were at home in Reading?’
‘Uh. I’m not sure. Down by the river. The river path is deserted at night and you can get right out of town.’ And you can jump in and drown yourself, James thought.
‘That’s it. We’re headed for the river. I’m taking the shortest route. Matthew hasn’t had that long, so he might still be heading this way.’
‘Well, it’s a long shot I suppose, but apart from searching every side street I can’t think of any other idea.’
Now they were driving along a straight road with playing fields and park on either side. Then there was water.
‘Where are we?’ James asked.
‘The Marina.’
The road became a track with moored boats to the left. They reached a car park. Sarah stopped and turned off the engine.
‘Come on. We’re on foot now. Get the torches.’
James reached into the glove box and pulled out a couple of LED torches. They got out and James followed Sarah along an unlit path that headed into woodland. They turned the torches on.
‘This path does a circuit of a peninsula,’ Sarah explained, ‘Alternatively there’s another that heads down the riverbank.’
‘A quick round trip can’t hurt,’ James said, ‘It’s pretty secluded.’ The trees provided plenty of cover for a boy that wanted to hide himself with just brief glimpses of the moonbeam-dappled surface of the river beyond. James thought their task was pretty hopeless but couldn’t think of a better idea. He almost couldn’t believe it when a cast of the torch light illuminated a figure between the trees. Was it a person or were his eyes confused by an oddly shaped tree stump?
‘There,’ he said pointing and starting to trample through the undergrowth towards the silhouette. His guess was confirmed when the figure moved.
‘Matthew, stop!’ Sarah called but the boy went on towards the river. James stumbled over a tree root, regained his balance, ran on. He saw Matthew stop.
‘Don’t come any closer. I’ll jump in,’ the boy said. James froze. He was twenty feet from the boy, with just grass and small shrubs between them. Matthew stood on the ends of a muddy bank that shelved into the water. James could see the river was flowing quite rapidly.
‘Alright,’ he said shining his torch on the lad. ‘We want to help you. It’s no point staying out here.’
‘You can’t help me,’ the boy sobbed, ‘After what I did.’
James couldn’t say things weren’t so bad because there were fewer things worse than killing your father. The boy probably didn’t even know his father was dead. Telling him now wouldn’t help matters. He took a few steps forward. Matthew didn’t move.
‘You can get through this. We’re not going to hurt you,’ James want on. Sarah stayed in the trees while James edged forward keeping the light on the boy.
‘I didn’t mean it,’ the boy’s voice broke. ‘He came at me. The knife was just there.’
The boy was facing him, his back to the river. James was just a few steps away. He shone the torch on Matthew, not directly in his eyes but illuminating his head and body. His face was streaked. Tears or sweat? There was something not quite right. James examined the boy’s face. There was a bruise on his left cheek bone but there was colouration around his eyes and his lips. James saw his own face in mirror. He recognised what he saw. The boy was wearing make-up.
James reached out to him. Matthew flinched, stepped back, overbalanced, was falling. James leapt forward and grabbed him. He hugged the boy to his body. Matthew went limp and cried.
‘I didn’t mean to. . .’ he said through sobs. ‘I just picked it up and held it. He came forward and . . . and. . .’
‘It was a reflex,’ James said, ‘self-defence.’ He wasn’t sure that was an excuse which would stand up in court.
The boy nodded his head. James looked down at him. There really was a sizeable bruise on the lad’s left cheek. The skin was grazed.
‘Why did your father hit you?’
‘He wasn’t supposed to see me. He was early. I was showing Mum.’
‘What were you showing her?’
‘My new eye-shadow.’
‘Do you often wear make-up, Matthew?’
‘I’m not Matthew, not really. I’m Melissa.’
James hugged him/her tighter. What a mess. How was he supposed to react? Say, “Yes, I understand, I’m trans too”. That would reveal Jasmine to his colleagues and his superiors. He wasn’t ready for that.
‘You’re trans?’ He said. Melissa nodded.
‘That is why your father attacked you?’ Another nod.
‘Your mother knows?’ And another.
‘Anyone else?’ A shake of his head.
‘Okay, I’m Jim Frame. I’ll help you.’
PC Ward was at his side.
‘Well done, Jim. Let’s get him back to the car.’
They walked back through the trees, The boy, or rather girl, at James’ side clinging to him. They got back to the police car and put Matthew/Melissa on the back seat. James sat beside him. Sarah got in the driving seat.
She let out a long, slow sigh. ‘Okay. We’re heading for the police station, Matthew. This is going to be hard for you, but you’ll be looked after. No-one’s going to hurt you.’ She turned the ignition.
No-one but yourself, James thought, and put an arm around the trans-girl.

……………………………. to be continued

 

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Jasmine abroad

What is there to rant about this week? Quite a lot unfortunately, but I can’t bear to work myself into a tizz considering the agonies of the American election; the Brexit farce and the economy; war with Russia (yes, I think we are actually at war, although at the moment it is people outside Europe who are getting hurt); climate change and extinction (ours, perhaps).  I’ve been thinking about trying to be green while still living the life we want to live. That means personal transport.  Over three years ago we changed our car. I wanted one that was fuel-efficient and hence kept our carbon footprint as small as possible. Keeping within our limited budget was also, obviously, a priority. We went for a Ford Fiesta with the Econetic diesel engine. It has been super. On long journeys we have regularly achieved over 70 miles to the gallon (sorry about the old units but that’s still how I think in everyday life) and close to that on local journeys. She had plenty of power to get out of difficulties, would cruise all day (and did when we took her Germany and up to Scotland) and has been very reliable.

But, she’s a diesel. I have been dismayed by the reports over the last couple of years about the damaging emissions from diesels. Now, I know that it is old engines and commercial traffic that are the main culprits but even the diesels in small cars give out up to 10 times more NOx than petrol engines to say nothing about particulates. I feel a little bit duped that we were persuaded that diesels were the way forward. Obviously they are not.  If we lived in a big city then the answer would be public transport and belonging to a car share club giving us a choice of vehicles for whatever purpose we needed one. But living in a small town in a rural county that won’t work.  We need our own vehicle to get around locally, visit family and friends further afield, and for holidays. So what is it to be?  An electric car – too expensive and not enough range for the longer journeys; petrol hybrid – perhaps expensive to purchase; efficient petrol engine – are they good enough?

I’ll let you know later what we decide.

san-antonio

Now on to Jasmine Frame. This week I’m starting a new prequel story set in 2005, so some years before the timeframe of  the Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design novels, but after the two e-book published novellas Discovering Jasmine and Murder in Doubt. Here is the first episode of Falloff.  Let me know what you think.

Falloff: part 1

His lips brushed over the silky skin of her breast.  The softness, the curve, the smell of her, filled his mind. Angela lay motionless beneath him as he delighted in touching her body.
Her body stiffened. ‘What was that noise?’
James lifted his head. ‘What noise? My ears are still ringing from the club.’
‘So are mine, but I’m sure I heard something.’
James listened. There were the typical noises of holidaying young people who filled the Hotel Arena, the rumble of late night traffic, a distant siren, but nothing that drew his attention.
‘What did you hear?’
‘A cry and a bump.’
James pushed himself onto his knees. ‘A cry and a bump?’
‘Yes.’
‘Where?’
‘Just outside our window.’
James got off the bed and walked to the window. He pushed the thin curtain aside and stepped onto the balcony.
‘You’re naked, James.’
‘I know. It doesn’t matter. I’ll just have a quick look.’
A warm, gentle breeze caressed his skin. He looked out across the promenade with its rows of lights to San Antonio’s bay, dark but for the moonlight. He turned left and right. There was no one else on the adjacent balconies. He was about to turn back to Angela but he glanced down to the to the pool and lawn three floors below. Something pale lay on the grass. He saw arms and legs, a body. He froze, his hands gripping the rail.
‘Can you see anything?’
James sucked in air, turned away and ran back into the bedroom. In the semi-darkness, he searched for clothes. There was his dress, cast onto the floor when they returned from the club, along with his high-heeled sandals, bra and knickers, Angela’s clothes too. He scrabbled around on the chair found his bathing shorts, hopped as he pulled them up his legs.
‘What is it?’ Angela said, an anxious tone in her voice.
‘Someone. I think someone’s fallen.’  James ran from the room, down the corridor to the lift. Too impatient to wait, he pushed through the swing door to the stairs. He leapt down two, three steps at a time, till he reached the ground floor and ran across the foyer to the side doors that lead to the pool. He sprinted across the lawn till he came to the crumpled form of a girl.  She was naked but for a pair of the skimpiest knickers, her skin white, her long golden hair spread out like rays of sunshine. Her limbs made strange angles with her torso. Blood trickled from her mouth.
James knelt beside her and lowered his head to listen for breathing. There was the faintest puff of moist air on his cheek, then a whisper.
‘Car. . .’  Then no more.
Feet pounded on the ground behind him. James pushed himself up and looked around. The night manager was standing over him.
‘Qué ha pasado?’
James shrugged.
‘Quién es? Who?’
‘I don’t know her name. Ambulance, get an ambulance.’  The manager ran back towards the hotel. He passed Angela, wrapped in a beach robe running towards him. She stopped at his side and bent over the girl.
‘It’s the girl from next door,’ she said.
‘Yes, I thought so. She must have fallen. It’s three floors. I think she’s dead.’
Other people were emerging from the hotel, shouting and running towards them. They were night porters, bar staff and holidaymakers returning from the all-night clubs and bars. They saw an attraction and gathered around. Some pressed close to the girl, reaching down to move her.
James extended his arms to protect her. ‘No, don’t. Her back may be broken.’  The gawkers froze, eyes wide and staring, forming an impenetrable circle. James leaned down again but could detect no hint of breathing.
It was just a few minutes but felt like an eternity before sirens approached and then the growing crowd was pushed aside and men and women in uniforms were there. James found it difficult to take his eyes off the dead girl but someone took James’ arm and pulled him away.
‘Policía. Come please.’
James looked at the young man in the short-sleeved uniform of the Spanish police.
‘You know this girl?’ he asked.
James shook his head, ‘No, I mean I don’t know who she is but I think we were on the same package.’
‘Package?’
‘The same holiday. She was in the room next to us.’
‘Why you here?’
‘We, my wife heard her fall, I think. I looked over the balcony and saw her on the ground.’
‘Ah. What is your name?’  He took out a notepad and noted James’s and Angela’s names and room number.
James found himself standing next to Angela a little way from the activity around the body. The crowd had been urged back but still they looked on. The ambulance crew did not appear to be doing much. James presumed that his fears for the girl’s life were accurate.  Minute by minute more police officers arrived.
A man in a pale beige suit, with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth approached them. James thought he looked about forty with his lined face and small moustache.
The policeman removed the cigarette from his mouth. ‘Seňor Frame?’  James nodded.  ‘I am Inspector Alvarez. You discovered the body?’
James noted that he spoke English with little trace of accent. ‘Well yes, I was the first person here.’
‘You heard her fall, I’m told.’
Angela spoke, ‘I heard a cry and then a faint thud.’
Alvarez nodded. ‘That was all?’
‘I think so,’ Angela said, ‘I wasn’t listening. We were in bed.’
‘Ah, I see. In bed but not asleep. You, seňor, heard nothing?’
James shook his head. ‘I don’t think so. Nothing particular.’
‘But you got out of bed to have a look?’
‘That’s right.’
‘Did you see anyone apart from the body. Someone on the balcony perhaps?’
‘No. I didn’t see anyone anywhere except the girl on the ground.’
‘You knew it was the girl?’
‘No, I wasn’t even certain it was a person. I didn’t see who it was until I got down here.’
‘You recognised her?’
‘I recognised her as a girl I’d seen before but I don’t, er, didn’t know who she was.’
‘Where had you seen her before?’
‘At the airport, Luton; on the plane, on the bus from the airport to here. In the hotel oh, and at the club last night.’
‘Which club?’
‘El Danza.’
‘You saw her a lot, but you still don’t know who she was.’
‘We’re with the same tour operator I suppose. She was with a group of other people, Angela and I were separate. We’re on our honeymoon.
Alvarez smiled. ‘Ah, honeymoon on Ibiza. Very romantic. That’s why you are in bed but not asleep. So, you don’t know why this girl should be on the ground dead?’
James shook his head, ‘I suppose she fell.’
The detective nodded. ‘It looks like that. An accident perhaps. Too much alcohol, the girl unsteady on her pretty feet, tips over the balcony. Or perhaps she jumped.’
‘Suicide!’
Inspector Alvarez shrugged, ‘When these girls are on holiday, they are unsuccessful in love, full of emotion and drink so end their lives.’
James thought it was a rather abrupt conclusion to make.
‘You are here for a while, on your honeymoon Seňor and Seňora Frame?’
‘Just a week? We fly home next Sunday,’ James said.
‘I know where to find you. Perhaps I will have to speak to you again. Enjoy the rest of your stay on Ibiza.’  The police officer turned away from them and walked slowly back to where the body lay.
Angela took James’ hand. ‘Come on, let’s go back to our room. There’s nothing more you can do.’
‘I’m not sure I feel like sleep, or anything else,’ James said as they walked back to the hotel.
Angela tugged on his arm drawing him close to her. ‘I’d just like to feel your arms around me, holding me safe.’
…….to be continued.

Jasmine takes a break

And still it goes on – the news I mean. I’m writing this a little early this week but already we’ve had Farage resigning, again, He’d done his job, so he says. No thought about the aftermath or what responsibility he might have. And Chris Evans resigning from Top Gear. I haven’t watched the new series and neither, for a long time, did I watch the old version.  I like James May and Richard Hammond but Clarkson increasingly got on my nerves with his views. But a TV programme is unimportant compared to what is happening to the government of our country. I’ve read and heard Europeans comment that they thought us Brits were calm and thoughtful and wouldn’t, couldn’t, make such a mess of things as leaving the EU. Well, all I can say is that they haven’t met the ones that voted Leave because if they holiday abroad at all, it’s likely that they stay in hotels and camps that are shut off from the country they are in and the only “foreigners” they meet are the waiters, chambermaids, etc. Doesn’t apply to all of them of course.  We shall see what the next week brings.

Having finished Aberration last week I have decided to take a break from writing Jasmine Frame stories for a few weeks.  Writing the stories is fun but each episode takes up a considerable time each week. I also feel I need to give Jasmine a rest so I can get the imagination and creativity going again. I am writing another fantasy novel which I need to devote more time to. I also want to get the third Jasmine novel ready for publication, and perhaps prepare another of the prequels for e-book publication,  so that will keep me busy. It is almost three years since I started writing the prequels and I have finished nine of them (I thought it was just eight!). For those of you that are interested, the table below lists all the Jasmine Frame stories, written, published or planned. There are still a few gaps in Jasmine’s life story, particularly her first years in the police force. However, I don’t really like writing police procedurals and her opportunities for investigations as a uniformed PC may be limited – but we will see.

This blog will continue nevertheless, with comments on the world outside fiction, especially my experience of transgenderism and news about the Jasmine publications (perhaps some free or reduced price offers soon) so I hope you will continue to pop in for a read.

To show how things change in three years here are a couple of photos of me during that time.

2013, shortly after the publication of Painted Ladies

2013, shortly after the publication of Painted Ladies

2016, at Hay Festival.

2016, at Hay Festival.

Provisional title date situation crime Publication & length Publication date
Discovering Jasmine 2000 James experimenting with his gender identity Transwoman intimidated by youths Ebook, Discovering Jasmine

20,000w

2015
Soft Focus 2001 James meets Angela at Uni. Transman dies; suicide or murder? Ebook, Murder in Doubt

21,000w

2016
Aberration 2004 James & Angela living together post- graduation Transman killed 16,000w  
Flashlight 2009 James seconded to V&SCU, meets DCI Sloane for the first time. Woman killed by drug overdose supplied by transwoman 24,000w  
Resolution 2009 James appointed to V&SCU. Meets DC Tom Shepherd Colleague (from Flashlight) murdered 23,000w  
Blueprint 2009 James reveals he is trans Crossdresser suicide 38,000w  
Self=portrait 2010 Start of transition Young transman accused of murder 27,000w  
Close-up 2010 Jasmine back at work. Conflict with DS Baby alleged to be snatched in high street 23,000w  
Split Mirror 2011 Separating from Angela, move into flat. Conflict with DS Transwoman disappeared 22,000w  
Painted Ladies 2012 Jasmine working as private detective. Divorce from Angela. Serial killer targeting trans women Ebook & paperback, Painted Ladies 80,000w 2013
Bodies By Design 2012 Biorchidectomy, start of relationship with Viv Transwoman murdered Ebook & paperback, Bodies By Design 72,000w 2015
The Brides’ Club Murder 2012 Electrolysis. Planning to move in with Viv Leader of Bridal wear group murdered t.b.d

76,000w

2016/17
Molly’s Boudoir 2013 Breast augmentation. Living with Viv Arson at trans shop t.b.d. ?
Impersonator 2014 GRS. Female impersonator killed t.b.d. ?

 

Jasmine finds a lead

Is becoming fearful about the future a sign of getting old? When I was younger during the 60s to 80s there was the threat of nuclear war hanging over us or of a Soviet invasion of Europe but the fear, if there was any, was an abstract thing and I don’t recall being bothered by it. Also, I don’t recall being too emotional about the financial situation although I do recall watching the Share index falling to about 150 points in a mid-70s crisis. Despite being a fairly keen Liberal and interested in politics, I never felt worried that the world may collapse around me. Perhaps I was just too concerned about my own state.

Now, I feel beset by problems although my own situation, being retired, happily married and pretty well out as transgendered, is pretty calm. The turmoil of the referendum nonsense and its possible dire outcomes, the threat of terrorism, the rise of a belligerent Russia, an expansionist China, and the general sickness of the Earth, all just add together to make one big bundle of worry. On top of that I have developed a deep loathing of the majority of politicians, leaders of big business, and anyone who spouts extremist/populist propaganda on right or left.

Perhaps it is a feature of growing old that we fear for the world of our children and grandchildren and it’s when we lose youthful optimism it’s time to hand over to the young.

At How the light Gets In, Hay, May '16

At How the light Gets In, Hay, May ’16

Right. After that depressing interlude, on with the story.  Here is the next part of the Jasmine Frame novella, Aberration. I realise that in this story she has spent rather longer as James than Jasmine but as it is from a period where she is still uncertain of her gender identity and resisting the idea that she is transsexual I think it is appropriate. Here he/she is getting somewhere at last. Don’t forget that Painted Ladies, Bodies By Design, Discovering Jasmine and Murder In Doubt are all available to buy.

Aberration – Part 7

Despite a rush to grab something to eat, James started his shift at the pub on time. Kevin was there as usual and Mel, another young woman who James had worked with occasionally. Mel pleased Kevin rather more than Andrea as she was slim with long hair and long legs that were largely bare thanks to the cute shorts that she wore. Her vest clung to her breasts. James noted how the eyes of the male drinkers followed her around the room when she emerged to pick up glasses.  Being Friday it was a busy evening and it was while James was wiping tables and Kevin was filling the dishwasher when he spoke to James conversationally rather than giving an order.
‘Did you send that card then?’
‘Card?’
‘To Andrea’s parents.’
‘No. I called on them and met her mother.’
‘Oh. How was she?’
‘Upset.’
Kevin shrugged, acknowledging that that was the obvious response.
‘I don’t think she could believe it was an accident or suicide,’ James added.
Kevin stared, ‘Suicide?’
‘Well, do you think she would end up in the river by accident? She doesn’t have to go near the river to get home.’
‘Well . . .’
‘You saw her on Wednesday evening. It was my day off. What mood was she in?’
Kevin considered for a moment. ‘Pretty much the same as always. Didn’t say much.’
‘Pretty much? What does that mean?’
‘I suppose she was a bit grumpier than usual.’
‘Grumpier?’
‘Well, edgy. She was in more of a hurry to get off.’
‘Why?’
‘She didn’t say. Never did explain her moods did she.’
James could have given reasons for Andrea’s reticence but he didn’t. Revealing too much of his connection with Andrea might have caused questions about his own personality.
He nodded. ‘She kept things to herself, but did anything happen that evening to make her, er, edgy?’
Kevin straightened up and thought. ‘Yeah, well, Ben and his mates were in.’
‘Ben?’
‘They had a go at Andrea before.’
James nodded. Now he knew who Kevin was talking about; the four thirty-plus louts who had teased and groped her.
‘Your friends,’ he accused.
Kevin shook his head. ‘No, we’re not friends, not really. I’ve known them for years. They come in from time to time and act as if they own the place.’
James wasn’t sure whether to believe Kevin’s denial. They seemed just the sort of blokes who Kevin might count as his mates.
‘What happened then? Did they have a go at Andrea?’
Kevin shrugged. ‘A bit, I suppose, but Mel was on too, so they had an eyeful of her. She could take it though.’
Doesn’t mean that she liked it, James thought. Mel was happy in her female body and perhaps had learned how to respond to randy, older men. Andrea didn’t because she didn’t feel female.
‘They spoke to Andrea as well as Mel?’ James asked.
Kevin shook his head, ‘I don’t know, yes, a bit I think, at least one or two of them did. Why is it important? She’s dead.’
‘That’s right – she’s dead. She ended up in the river an hour or two after leaving here and being hounded by those guys.’
‘They weren’t hounding her.’
‘Alright, but you said she became edgy later.’
‘Er, yeah.’
‘So, perhaps the one or two of your friends who spoke to her said something that got her worked up.’
‘They’re not my friends.’
‘OK, but am I right?’
‘Hey, hold on Jim boy. Why are you getting a heat on? You hardly knew the girl.’
James realised he was getting hot and bothered. He tried to brush it off.
‘Yes, well it’s not everyday someone you work with is fished out of the river.’
Kevin nodded and bent to put a few more glasses in the washer.
‘That’s a fact,’ he muttered.
‘So who was it, that tried chatting Andrea up?’ James insisted while trying to keep his voice cool and calm.
‘I wouldn’t call it chatting up. I only saw them exchanging a few words.’
‘Who?’
‘His name’s Josh. I don’t know him well but he often hangs round with Ben and the others.’
‘Does he live round here?’
‘No idea, but they’re all Reading guys so I ‘spect they live in town somewhere.’
‘They don’t come in here that often. Where else do they hang out?’
‘How should I know. I told you I’m not one of their mates. There are dozens of pubs and clubs around town; you know that. They move around looking for the talent.’
James considered what Kevin had told him. It seemed clear that he needed to meet this Josh and find out what he said to Andrea.  He tried to remember what the four men looked like but his memory was vague.
‘Which one was Josh?’ he asked.
‘The bald, short-arse,’ Kevin said as he slammed the door of the dishwasher.  James nodded as he saw the man in his memory of the four around the table.

James stirred as Angela moved around the flat. Of course, it was Saturday so she wasn’t at work. He groaned.
‘Oh, sorry James,’ Angela said. She came and sat on the edge of the bed. ‘I didn’t mean to wake you.’
James rubbed his eyes. ‘What time is it?’
‘Gone nine. Go back to sleep if you like. I’ll try and keep quiet.’
James pushed himself up the bed. ‘No, I’m awake now and I want to see you.’ They hadn’t seen each other awake since his day off on Wednesday apart from the sleepy conversation about Andrea’s death.
‘I want to see you too. It’s a nice day. Perhaps we can go out somewhere before you go to work.’
James grabbed Angela around the waist and pulled her on top of him.
‘Or perhaps we could just stay in,’ he said, leaning forward to kiss her.  Angela giggled. They kissed and cuddled. Angela slipped a hand between his legs. She pulled away.
‘Your mind’s not on it. What’s the problem?’ she said.
James sighed, ‘I’m sorry. I keep thinking of Andy, Andrea.’
Angela sat up, looking concerned. ‘Oh, is there news?’
James described his conversations with Mrs Pickford, the detective and Kevin.
‘Do you think this Josh guy killed Andy?’ Angela summarised.
James screwed up his face. ‘I don’t know. I am sure Andy was killed and Josh is the only lead I’ve got, but I’ve no idea what happened between them, if anything.’
‘You need to find him.’
‘But all I’ve got is his first name, a pretty vague description and that he often hangs out with the other three.’
‘And he visits the pubs and clubs in town.’
‘It’s a big town, Ange. I could be wandering around for months and never come across him.’
‘If he’s out a lot, other people may know who he is.’
‘So there’s a lot of people to ask.’
‘If you want it to be you that solves Andy’s murder yes. Or you could just tell the police.’
‘And they’d think I was nuts because there’s no evidence that Josh had anything more than a few casual words with Andy while he was doing his job.’
‘I don’t think you’re nuts.’
‘But the police will. They want a nice easy accidental death, or a slightly more troublesome suicide.’
‘Don’t you think they want the truth, James?’
‘I wonder.’
‘Well, if you’re joining them I hope you won’t take the easy path.’
James looked into Angela’s unblinking eyes. She gave him determination.
‘No, I won’t and I will get the truth about Andy’s death. Jasmine Frame will find it.’
Angela nodded. ‘I think you should be Jasmine. She was Andy’s friend. Come on, get dressed. I’ll come asking questions with you. It will be an excuse for getting out of this flat since we’re not going to be doing anything else while you’re in this mood.’

……………………….

Jasmine Frame in Aberration

courtesy of the BBC

courtesy of the BBC

The power of the media. Following our “exposure” on the BBC World Service we were contacted my BBC Hereford & Worcester and visited by a very pleasant presenter. We chatted and then she recorded an interview and video (using her phone) of us talking about my revelation of being trans. The story was very much the same as the World Service interview as that seemed the only item of interest.  Anyway, it was duly broadcast on local radio on Monday morning, during the 6 to 9 a.m. magazine-style programme. That meant they kept on repeating tiny excerpts but the transgender issue took up quite a large segment of the programme with contributions from a Rev who runs a LGBT friendly church and Joan King from Gender Trust. There is also a Facebook video. I hope it showed others that secrets can be revealed without the sky falling in and that couples can reach a loving accommodation with the trans life. I presume I am even more out now than before as a few people have commented on hearing the broadcast and seeing the video.

Despite there being little advertising in either of the media features there has been a noticeable increase in views of this blog and associated pages, so I’ll say “Hi” to new visitors and urge you all to come back from time to time, especially to catch these weekly rambles and story episodes.

Things have been busy for the last week or so and writing has been put on the “pending” pile.  However I have made a start on  the new Jasmine Frame prequel which I have called Aberration. You may wonder where my titles come from.  When I started writing Jasmine Frame stories I decided to make each title a play on words relating  to paintings, photographs, drawings i.e. connected to “Frame”. Latterly I have used photographic terms like focus, resolution, and now aberration. While this principle applied to the first published Jasmine stories, Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design I have decided that the prequel novellas probably need more explanatory titles when they appear as e-books, hence Discovering Jasmine and Murder In Doubt. All these titles are available as e-books and the two novels can be purchased as paperbacks in bookshops or direct from me.

You’ll have to wait a week or two to discover the pun in Aberration although I think it is probably pretty obvious. So, here we go with the first episode.

Jasmine Frame prequels – Aberration: Part 1

‘Really Andrea! Couldn’t you do something with yourself?’
Kevin’s voice made James pause in taking the glasses from the dishwasher rack. What was the pub manager on about now, he wondered?
‘What do you mean, do something?’
That was Andrea, James’ fellow bartender. Her voice like Kevin’s came from the cluttered corridor between the two bars.
‘Smarten yourself. Look attractive,’ Kevin said.  James resumed stacking the glasses on the shelves, doing it as quietly as possible while he listened to the conversation.
‘Like how?’ Andrea’s voice suggested she might explode pretty soon, but Kevin seemed oblivious.
‘Like, wearing a skirt. Or a dress. Give the punters something pretty to look at.’
The eruption James expected didn’t come.
‘Why don’t you ask Jim to wear a skirt or a dress? I’m sure they’d look as good on him as me.’
James felt himself blushing. Andrea couldn’t possibly know that he’d love to be wearing a dress or skirt right now, although not perhaps in this particular pub.
‘I said pretty not pervy.’ Kevin sounded exasperated. ‘The customers don’t want to see a tranny behind the bar. Your job is to get them to buy drinks and you’ll do that better if you played the sexy bargirl.’
Andrea’s reply was calm and soft not the outraged roar James feared. ‘I am a woman and what you’re suggesting amounts to sexual discrimination.’
‘Yes, well, it was only a suggestion,’ Kevin backpedalled.
‘I’ll do my job in the same way that Jim and the other guys do it. I’ll pull pints for the customers and take their money but I won’t parade myself in front of them like a peep show tart.’
‘No, alright, Andrea. I get the message. Just make sure you do your job.’ Footsteps receded. Andrea emerged into the bar that James occupied.
‘Did you hear that, Jim?’ Andrea said.  Like James she was in her early twenties and matched him for height.  Comparing their legs and torso she probably outweighed him and she had a sizeable pair of breasts which she kept covered in a loose, black t-shirt. She was wearing her ubiquitous jeans and trainers. Her hair was cut short in a boyish style and James doubted that she had ever worn make-up. She was definitely a tomboy and possibly lesbian. Kevin was onto a loser if he expected to get her into a girly outfit.
‘Yeah. He was out of order, there. You could certainly have got him on an equality rap or even sexual harassment.’
‘Thank you, Mr Lawyer, but I think I’d rather just keep my job.’
‘You’ll put up with him having a go at you for not dressing as he’d like?’ James wondered how much antagonism the girl could take.’
‘Well, it’s the only job I’ve got. Unlike you who will be marching off into a well-paid career in a couple of months.’
James had told Andrea of his plans to join the police force in November shortly after starting the job in the pub a couple of weeks ago at the end of August.
‘Don’t go telling Kevin that. He thinks I’m staying for a while. I wouldn’t have got the job otherwise. Look, he’s probably worried about sales. This place doesn’t seem to get that busy.’
‘Well if he wants to drum up trade by having someone wear fancy dress he can do it himself.’  Andrea stomped off to the other bar.        It was that time in the evening when the commuters had left and the night-birds had yet to turn out. There were just one or two customers focussed on their drinks while James and Andrea prepared for busier times.  Soon there wasn’t time for conversation and the noise level in the bar made exchanging even a few words difficult.

It was approaching one a.m. when James clambered, exhausted, up the stairs to their studio flat. He tried to be quiet opening the door but he knew that the slightest noise would disturb Angela, asleep on the double bed in the corner of the small room. He pushed the door closed and pulled off his shoes. He padded across the thin, cord carpet to check on her. She was turned away from him, her long brown hair spread over the pillow. He stood for a few seconds just looking at her illuminated by light from the street lamp which filtered through the unlined curtains.
‘Come to bed,’ Angela mumbled without turning.
‘Yes. I won’t be a moment,’ James whispered unnecessarily.  He pulled off his clothes, went to the tiny shower room to pee and wash and then to the equally cramped kitchen to get a glass of water. At last he was ready to slip under the sheet beside Angela. He placed a hand on her bare shoulder.
‘I’m tired,’ Angela said.
‘Me too.’
‘Sleep well.’
‘And you.’

James stirred when Angela clambered over him. He groaned and curled up tighter wanting sleep to reclaim him. He heard Angela moving around, showering, having some breakfast, getting dressed. She tried to be quiet as he had done in the night, but floorboards creaked, kettle whistled, mug and plates clacked on the miniature table, the wardrobe door squeaked.
James was aware of Angela standing over him.
‘Is this going to work, James?’
‘What?’ He moaned.
‘We never see each other. I’m at the office all day and by the time I get home you’ve gone off to your bar and don’t get home till I’m asleep.’
James forced his eyes to open. He had a blurry view of Angela standing beside him in her accountant’s suit.
‘It’s only till November, Ange. Then I’ll be a trainee police officer.’
‘But it’ll be the same when you’re done training. You’ll be working shifts. We’ll still be crossing in the doorway.’
He pushed himself up into a slumped position. ‘We’ll work it out, Ange. You’ll see. When you’re a high-earning corporate accountant and I’m a Detective Inspector we’ll be able to make time.’
Angela laughed. ‘That’s be years if not decades. I want time with you now. Do you realise, we haven’t been in this bed awake together since we moved in.’
James knew she was telling the truth of their situation. They’d taken this grotty Reading flat just a day before they started their respective jobs, Angela’s permanent and his temporary, but neither well-paid. Life as a working couple was proving to be less carefree than the student experience.
‘Look tomorrow’s Wednesday; my day off. We could do something in the evening when you get home.’
‘I don’t know James. I’ve got studying to do.’
‘Your exams are months away yet.’
‘I know but I need to get up to speed with what I do in the office.’
‘You can afford one evening off. To be with me.’
Angela smiled. ‘To be with Jasmine I suppose.’
‘Well, yes, okay, that would be great.’ It was exactly what he wanted although he hadn’t dared to make the suggestion. They were in a new town and he hadn’t yet ventured out as Jasmine Frame, but he wanted to, very much.  ‘I’ll have a look around to see what’s happening. We haven’t danced since we were on holiday.’  The memory of dancing, two girls together, surrounded by other people their age on that Greek island seemed rather distant now. Their final fling as students. Now real life was pressing down on them.
‘Alright. I’ll see. I’d better be off.’ Angela leaned down and kissed his cheek. He felt the sticky impression of her lips.

Jasmine spent the day in the stuffy flat trying to think of something more useful to do than watching the Olympic games from Athens on their small portable. She did use her laptop to investigate evening entertainments in Reading and while the dial-up connection wasn’t perfect she made one welcome discovery.
Before Angela returned she wrote out a note. ‘LGBT disco night, monthly, Wed. Athena nightclub.’ Then she went to change into her bar uniform which was precisely the same as that worn by Andrea.
James was pleased to find he was on duty with Andrea again at the start of the evening but she was sullen and quiet. She served the customers but didn’t make small-talk.
‘Anything bothering you,’ James asked hoping to draw her out.
‘Nah,’ she said, ‘Just looking forward to a night away from this dump.’
‘Oh, yes. Me too. Got anything planned.’
Andrea shrugged. ‘Don’t know yet. Wait and see I suppose.’ An impatient drinker barked an order, ending their quasi-conversation and so the night went on.
Angel was asleep again when James returned but turned over as he joined her.
‘Okay,’ she murmured.
‘Okay, what?’ James said.
‘We’ll go to that place you found, tomorrow, tonight, whenever.’
‘Oh, that. Great. Night love,’ He kissed her cheek but she was already snoring softly. Before he too dozed off he considered what outfit he should wear for Jasmine’s first venture into Reading’s nightlife.
…………………

Jasmine across the world

copyright BBC.

copyright BBC.

Well, not Jasmine so much as me and Lou.  We were on the BBC World Service last Saturday and featured on the BBC magazine website where apparently for a time (a few minutes, hours?) it was trending in the top ten articles. You can read it here.  The programme was part of the World Services “Identity” series looking  at how personal secrets are kept and shared.  Really it was a rehash of the programme we did two and half years ago and didn’t examine transgenderism or gender identity in any greater depth. Nor, more’s the pity, did it promote the Jasmine Frame series to any worthwhile extent with no links on the website. For this we gave up a couple of hours of our time, exposed ourselves to the media (the presenter and producer were quite sweet actually) and no money exchanged hands.

What is interesting, perhaps, is the result.  I didn’t expect much of a slightly boring, short interview with little publicity, although a friend did point out that there was a potential audience of a billion or so. What did happen was a brief small spike in views of this blog and a tiny, short-lived spike in e-book sales.  What was lovely were the comments here, on Facebook and in person from friends who heard or saw the feature. Thanks for the encouragement, folks. One irritating response was from a publisher, who I had not had previous contact with, asking me to review a  novel with a transgender character that they were putting out.  Cheek! Not even an offer of payment. I wondered if it was worth doing for the publicity but thought giving someone else a sale wasn’t worth my trouble.

Murder in doubt coverWhat the media exposure did do was spur me to put out Murder In Doubt on sale a few days earlier than I had planned (it was intended to coincide with this post). It is, chronologically, the second prequel novella featuring James/Jasmine Frame and follows after Discovering Jasmine.  An unedited version appeared here a long time ago.  James/Jasmine is starting his/her university career and, nervously, relishing the opportunities to be Jasmine. She meets Angela for the first time  and another trans-woman called Silla.  Soon she is investigating a possible murder and making surprising discoveries.   Murder In Doubt is available on Kindle, and for just one day you can get Discovering Jasmine free.

 

Look out for. . .

There is no new Jasmine Frame episode this week but a new story, called Aberration, will start next week.  Chronologically it follows Murder In Doubt.  James/Jasmine and Angela have graduated and are entering the world of careers and renting somewhere to live. Jasmine is getting used to living outside the cloistered community of university and is waiting to join the police force. It’s 2004 and the Gender Recognition Act has just been passed by parliament but is not yet law. Being Jasmine, she soon finds herself investigating a death which the police have misinterpreted.  The first episode will appear on Sat 30th April – be here!

Jasmine fears exposure

This week we reach the end of another Jasmine Frame story. Part 13 of Resolution is below. There are now eight completed novella length prequels to the first Jasmine Frame novel, Painted Ladies. They haven’t been written in any particular order but I am publishing edited versions gradually, in the chronological order of each tale. The first, Discovering Jasmine has been available as an e-book for a few months and the second, Murder In Doubt will be available very soon – watch out for next week’s blog.  The second novel, Bodies By Design, the first sequel to Painted Ladies is also available as a paperback and e-book while the third novel, The Bride’s Club Murder is complete and awaiting my decision when and how to publish.

20160122_132302I created Jasmine about fifteen years ago, not long after I started to reveal my own trans nature. I made Jasmine a transsexual, someone who wanted to live in the gender they identified with and if possible have all the medical treatment necessary to achieve a body that matched that identity as closely as possible. I hope that in the prequels I am showing how James/Jasmine reached that decision, because it isn’t easy nor is it cut and dried. While there are many FtM and MtF transsexuals making and realising that choice, there are also many “trans” or “gender variant” people who do not want to follow that path. I am one. I am quite certain I do not want to take drugs or have surgery. I am happy to feminise my appearance using cosmetics, jewellery, and clothes (and prosthetics) and having my hair styled and ears pierced, etc. but I am content for it to be temporary. I swap or oscillate between genders, like a quantum particle sometimes displaying features of both simultaneously. I use the term “transgender” but it is a catch-all term. Others use the terms non-binary or gender-queer amongst others to describe a feeling which sets them apart from people who are content with the male and female tags. I am still exploring and discovering my own gender identity and through the Jasmine Frame stories I hope to investigate other manifestations of gender uncertainty in individuals and relationships – especially where they involve a juicy murder.

The UK may be one of the more enlightened and accepting societies in which trans people can be who they want to be. However the situation is not perfect. Hate crime still exists and many professional people in positions of authority in medicine, the police, education, government etc. still have little or no knowledge of the experiences of trans people, the diversity of types of gender variance and the pressures on them.

Resolution: Part 13

James shivered. It was British summer warm but the water of the canal had been cold and now he was cooling rapidly.
Tom knelt by his side. ‘Are you okay, Jim? There’s blood on you.’
James looked down at his soaked and stained jacket and shirt. ‘Not mine.’
‘You’d better get those wet clothes off,’ Tom said, ‘The paramedic will be here soon.’
James tugged his jacket off and felt in the pocket. He dragged out the voice recorder.
‘You’d better look after this. I don’t know whether it still works after being in the water.’
‘You recorded your conversation?’
‘I hope so.’
James found his mobile phone. The screen was blank and it didn’t respond to him pressing buttons. Approaching sirens made him look up. A first responder and a couple of police cars were racing over the canal bridge.  In moments uniforms were bustling around them. The paramedic examined Dawson briefly then turned to James.
‘Let’s have a look at you.’
Through chattering teeth James asked ‘What about him?’ He nodded towards Dawson.
‘Nothing I can do for him,’ the paramedic said. ‘But let’s get you dried off and warmed up. Do you have any injuries?
James felt the bruise on his breast bone and a graze on his knee, but shook his head.
‘Better get you checked over nevertheless, since you’ve been in the canal.’
The paramedic gave him a foil blanket from his bag. He wrapped it around himself. An ambulance arrived and more police cars. DS Trewin got out of one car, took a look around then sauntered up to James. He crouched down.
‘Well, Jim. What have you been up to?’
James opened his mouth.
‘No, don’t tell me now. Let’s get you sorted out in A&E then we can have a chat.’
James found his voice. ‘Tom Shepherd saw what happened and he’s got the recorder. You’ll find stuff on Dawson on my computer.’
‘Thank you, Jim. We’ll talk soon.’ Trewin beckoned to the ambulance personnel, a man and a woman, and walked off to speak to Tom.
‘Can you walk?’ The female paramedic asked. James struggled to his feet. The woman gave him a helping hand towards the ambulance.

‘James! Are you alright?’ Angela rushed towards James with her arms reaching out to him. He rose from the hospital chair which he had been occupying for most of the last few hours. The NHS regulation gown flapped around his knees.
‘Angela, at last.’ He said as they wrapped their arms around each other. They hugged then Angela pushed him away and looked him up and down.
‘You’re well?’ she said, almost as if she expected him to be swathed in bandages.
‘I’m fine. Just a bruise,’ James placed a hand on his chest. ‘My clothes got ruined and my phone’s knackered. That’s why I could only leave you a voice message from a payphone.’
‘I picked it up when I came out of my meeting, but I was in London. You remember?’
‘Oh yes,’ James had forgotten where Angela had said she was spending her day.
‘I’ve got some clothes for you though. Here.’ She handed him a carrier bag. He looked in it – pants, t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.
‘Looks like I’m on holiday.’
‘Well, they were easy to shove in the bag. You’re not on duty are you?’
James snorted. ‘No. Don’t think I will be for a few days, if ever. Alan Trewin called in and told me to go home and stay there until this is all over.’
‘What’s all over, James?’
‘Dawson, the guy who was following me, is dead. I was responsible, sort of. They’ll have to investigate that and the crimes he was involved in. I don’t know whether they’ll find out about Jasmine.’
Angela placed her hand on his cheek. ‘Well, you’re safe, and that’s all that matters to me. Come on. Get dressed so we can go home.’

The week went by for James in a mixture of nervous excitement and boredom. He spent it in their Reading flat with little to do except follow Angela’s instructions for packing. The contracts were exchanged on the house in Kintbridge so they would be moving in a week or so. He started sorting his and Jasmine’s clothes ready to be transported to the new house. He had no contact with police force colleagues other than brief daily calls from DS Trewin and visits from investigating officers from Birmingham, Sheffield and the Metropolitan Police.
The Sheffield investigators asked questions relating to James’ report on the Hargreaves murder and Greaves’ suicide. James had little to add and didn’t offer an opinion on the treatment of trans prisoners. They had no reason to suspect the existence of Jasmine and he wasn’t going to enlighten them.
The Birmingham detectives were interested to know about Dawson’s part in DS Sparrow’s death. They had got nowhere in tracing the driver of the burnt-out stolen vehicle that had run her down. Now they were able to follow up Dawson’s contacts and arrest a suspect. They had interviewed Tania again and James was relieved that she hadn’t revealed that it was Jasmine who had visited her and not James. The detectives left satisfied that they had Milla’s murder sewn up but upset that James had made the breakthrough.
The Met officers were also a little disgruntled that James had opened up the book of Dawson’s life in crime. To them he had been a peripheral figure in the drug supply business.  Now he was revealed as the middleman between the importers and the dealers with a remorseless way of dealing with those who got in his way. The experience in hiding his identity before and after his transition had stood him well in the murky world of crime. Now, following his death and exposure, his network was unravelling as informers came forward.
James also had a visit from Alan Trewin who had taken down his statement of the weekend’s events and James’ account of his meeting with Dawson. James neglected to report what he was wearing at the various times and Trewin revealed no knowledge of Jasmine. James guessed that Dawson had left no record of his intended blackmail.  Trewin made few comments leaving James more than a little uncertain of his future.
At midday on Friday, the phone in the flat rang. James dropped the pile of books he was carrying into the cardboard box and answered it.
Trewin’s voice greeted him. ‘Jim. The DCI would like to see you this afternoon. Be in his office at two. Don’t come any earlier and hang around, and don’t be late. Got that?’
‘Yes. . .’ The call terminated. They don’t want me chatting to Tom or the others, James thought as he hurried to start getting ready. He dressed in his other dark grey suit with a freshly ironed shirt and polished black shoes.

It was precisely two p.m. when James walked through the communal office and into Sloane’s private space. He’d sat in the police station carpark watching his watch till he judged it was time to go.
DCI Sloane looked up as James stood to attention in front of his desk. There appeared to be no warmth in the chief’s eyes.
‘Now Frame, what have you been up to?’ he paused but James didn’t think he was expecting an answer. ‘In the space of a few days since joining us you bring two cases, perhaps three or more, to a resolution but with the perpetrators dead so the cases will not be tested in court.’
James nodded, wondering where Sloane was leading.
‘Greaves was a bitter and confused fellow,’ Sloane continued, ‘but Dawson was a cunning and ruthless criminal. What this swapping between life as a woman and a man had to do with it I don’t know but the clues you provided have revealed a very nasty personality. We’ve rounded up the immigrants that he was intending to use as his new sales network. He intimidated them, making them think they had broken some employment laws and then blackmailed them to do what he wanted. The boys at the Met are following up various leads on his suppliers. The divers found the gun in the canal and it matches one used in other killings.’ Sloane took a breath and glared at James. ‘So, it seems we have a lot to thank you for, DC Frame.’
It didn’t sound as though Sloane was gushing with gratitude.
‘However, this Dawson business. First you involve yourself in the Sparrow case without authorisation from me or the Birmingham investigating officer. Then you inform no-one of the contact made with Dawson and finally you go off alone, or almost alone, to meet him when you know he is dangerous. What do you have to say, Frame.’
‘I’m sorry, Sir.’ How could he explain? ‘I wanted to see Tania, Milla’s partner, to tell her how sorry I was about Milla. Her sighting of Dawson came out by accident. The Birmingham people hadn’t asked the necessary questions. I would have informed you but then I discovered that Dawson was tailing me. He threatened me and I wasn’t sure what to do, Sir. I thought that meeting him again and getting him to confess might give me a way of . . .’ James wasn’t sure what he’d expected to happen.
‘Frame. I understand and I sympathise,’ There wasn’t much sympathy in Sloane’s grey features. ‘but you have to realise that police investigations are founded on teamwork. The heroic actions of a maverick cop only occur in crime novels. If you want to work alone then get out of the force and become a private eye.’ Sloane spoke the words with disdain. ‘Now, it does appear that you and Shepherd have struck up a bit of a partnership. He says that your swift reaction prevented Dawson getting another shot off at him and you did at least involve him in your half-baked scheme. In future, remember that in the V&SCU, we work together, we share information and we make each other’s safety paramount. Do you understand me, Frame?’
James had listened, waiting for the words that would say his career as a detective was over, but what had Sloane said – “In future”? Did that mean he was being kept on?
‘Frame?’ Sloane repeated.
James jerked to attention. ‘Yes, Sir, I understand, Sir. Teamwork, Sir.’
A hint of a smile formed at the corners of Sloane’s mouth. ‘That’s right. Don’t forget it. Now, thanks to you I have still to speak to a variety of police forces. I don’t want to see you again till eight a.m. on Monday morning, prompt. I’ll work out then which case deserves yours and Shepherd’s attention.’
James saluted, mumbled his thanks and backed out. He hurried through the outer office and out of the station. In the warm, polluted, Kintbridge air, he paused and looked around.  He was still a detective, still a member of Sloane’s team, and none of his colleagues knew about Jasmine.

THE END

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