Jasmine timeline

This week life has been a little more normal, whatever that means. It’s been sunny and warm – nice enough to be out in sumer skirts and dresses.

summer - last year!

summer – last year!

I’ve been able to get on with the next (the third) Jasmine Frame novel as well as getting some other jobs done.  I am thinking about the next prequel novella but have decided to give you, dear readers, a rest for a week.  However, there are now eight novel or novella length Jasmine Frame stories counting the current novel in preparation so I thought you might like to see a timeline of Jasmine’s life and how the stories fit in. I’m not going to give away too many details about Jasmine though. You’ll have to read the stories to find out about her, her gender identity and the cases she tackles as a transsexual detective.

Jasmine Frame Timeline
  • 1983 January 23rd: James Frame born (Hastings, sister Holly is 4)
  • 2000 August: Discovering Jasmine  (novella)
  • 2001 November: Bristol University. Soft Focus (novella)
  • 2004 James/Jasmine graduates & joins the police.
  • 2005 July:  marries Angela Madison
  • 2009 June:  Joins ‘Violent and Serious Crime Unit’ in Kintbridge
  • 2009 November: Blueprint (novella)
  • 2010 July: Commences transition; Self-portraits (novella, previously called The Switch)
  • 2010 November:  Close-Up (novella)
  • 2012 January: Jasmine resigns from the police
  • 2012 May: Painted Ladies (novel – published)
  • 2012 August: Bodies by Design (novel)
  • 2012 November: Brides (novel, provisional title, in preparation)

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg



Jasmine in a fix

Watched the programme of Michael Portillo’s railway journey through Israel the other day. It wasn’t just a light historical travelogue. He laboured the point that the three religions that have squabbled over the region, Judaism, Christianity and Islam share a considerable amount of theology, scripture and sacred places and so should get on. What he didn’t reflect on is that it’s the minute diffrences that cause the conflicts and that it isn’t really just three religions as each is riven by factions squabbling over the “true vision”. What would it take for all peoples to live peacably together – I don’t know. Perhaps it is an impossible vision.

keeping up to date

keeping up to date

Anyway to my writing.

With this post I reach the final episode of Discovering Jasmine, the earliest prequel to Painted Ladies. There have now been four prequels all together, the others being Blueprint, Self-portraits (previosuly The Switch) and Close-up focussing on various periods in Jasmine’s evolution and transition from James to the transsexual detective she is in the novels. My main aim is to keep writing the sequel novels and Bodies By Design will be available in some form in the not too distant future. The third novel is also in preparation. So there is plenty of life in Jasmine Frame. I’ll be starting another prequel novella sometime soon, but here it is – the last part of Discovering Jasmine.

Discovering Jasmine – Part 12

Flames bloomed on the end of the stick like a fiery candyfloss. Jasmine was already launching herself across the foyer as Stash thrust the burning cloth through the broken letterbox of Cleo’s flat. She thudded into Stash’s legs as flames roared out of the hole accompanied by a whump!
They sprawled across the floor of the foyer towards the entrance. Jasmine’s skirt was around her waist and one of the bags spilled out of her bra, burst and shed grains of rice. She held on tightly to Stash’s legs trying desperately to prevent him from moving. Stash wriggled, flexed his knees, thrust against her. He was bigger, stronger than she was. One foot slipped out of her grasp. He kicked and his trainer slammed in to Jasmine’s shoulder. Her grip on his other leg weakened. He was free and on top of her, sitting astride her, one hand on her throat, the other holding something. What? It glinted in the yellow light of the flames flickering out of the door. The knife!
Heavy leather shoes pounded on the vinyl floor. In the corner of her eye Jasmine saw the bottom of two pairs of dark-trousered legs approach but her focus was on the silver blade hovering a few centimetres from her face.
‘Come closer and she gets it,’ Stash growled. The legs stopped moving.
A deep voice spoke. ‘Let her go lad. You know you’re not going anywhere.’
‘Get back I said. I mean it.’ The blade approached her cheek. The legs receded.
Stash’s head lowered and Jasmine saw him examining her.
‘You’re the cunt who got in the way last night. Another fucking tranny.’
Jasmine didn’t reply and held still although her heart was thumping and all the muscles in her body were trembling with fear. The point of the knife moved down to the side of her neck and pressed against her skin. She dare not move in case the blade penetrated. As if in a distance she heard the crackling of fire and cries. The acrid smell of smoke oozed out of gaps around the door.
Stash leaned closer. ‘We’re going to get out of here, you and me,’ he whispered in her ear. ‘You’re going to do as I say. Now stand up!’ Stash shifted his weight off her. His fingers pressed into her throat so that her breath came in strangled gasps. Cold steel touched her neck. The point wobbled. There was a sharp pain as the tip penetrated. Jasmine felt blood trickle down around her neck.
The knife moved away a little as Stash rose onto his feet. Jasmine pushed her hands against the floor to help her keep her balance and take the pressure off her throat which he maintained a grip on. They were both on their feet and Stash shifted to stand behind her his left arm locked around her neck and the stubby knife in his right hand pressed against a spot below her right ear.
Two policeman stood three metres away just inside the main entrance. They were poised ready to leap forward but there was fear in their eyes. Fear for her. Stash shuffled backwards, dragging Jasmine with him. One small step, two.
A crunch of something hard hitting bone. A groan, Stash’s not hers, and they were falling sideways, Jasmine dragged down by Stash’s arm. The point of the blade scratched her neck. They hit the floor; the knife slipped from Stash’s hand; the arm around her loosened. She rolled free, lay still, gasping for breath, pain in her neck, blood dripping. There were arms on her turning her over. She couldn’t see. Everything was confused.
‘That was risky, Ma’am. He had a knife to her throat,’ the male voice.
‘I had to do something. She’s not hurt is she?’ Bartrum’s.
‘There’s blood. It could be serious. We’d better get them out before this whole place goes up.’ The bass voice again.
Jasmine felt arms pushing under her body, lifting her. She realised her eyes were closed. It took an effort to open them. A burly, bearded police officer was holding her in his arms, lurching towards the entrance. They were out in the cool air; air that had been fresh but was now tainted by smoke. Her rescuer staggered up the path to the road. There was shouting, sirens, people, lots of people, milling around. At the edge of her vision there was flickering orange, yellow, red.
The policeman laid her on the road, knelt down beside her.
‘Are you okay, Miss.’
Jasmine considered. Her shoulder ached but she could breathe normally again. Her limbs felt weak but they were under her control. Her heart beat was slowing.
‘Yes,’ she croaked, her mouth dry.
A torch shone in her face. ‘Let’s check your neck. I think it looks worse than it is. There’s blood but I don’t think he caught your artery.’
There were other people around her, looking down, faces anxious. DC Bartrum was there. She leaned closer.
‘Jasmine. Are you alight?’
Jasmine pushed her hands against the tarmac, trying to sit up.
‘No, don’t move,’ Bartrum said, ‘The cut might tear. The paramedics will be here in a moment. They’ll wash the blood away, see how deep the cut is.’
‘Cleo?’ Jasmine said.
‘She’s okay. We got her out of the window. The fire’s taken hold.’
‘We’ve got him.’
‘You hit him.’
‘She clobbered him with a length of two by four,’ the deep-voiced police officer said. ‘Knocked him out cold. Took a risk though. The knife could have slit your throat.’
‘I had to do something,’ Bartrum said, ‘it looked like he was going to kill you if he couldn’t get away.’
‘Thanks,’ Jasmine said. There was movement near her. A bag was placed beside her and a different coloured uniform knelt to peer at her.
‘Hello, Miss. How do you feel?’ the paramedic said. His face came close to hers, a light shining from his forehead.
‘Okay,’ she replied and decided it was true. Her breathing was back to normal and while her shoulder and neck felt a bit sore she couldn’t identify any major pains.
‘I’ll just clean you up a bit.’ He dabbed gently at her neck with something cool and damp. ‘Ah, there’s some bruising and a couple of superficial cuts, but the bleeding has almost stopped. A plaster will fix you up, Miss.’ He rummaged in his bag for a few moments then placed a sticking plaster on her neck. She felt it more than the cuts. ‘You had a lucky escape,’ the paramedic went on, ‘a little bit deeper and lower and your carotid artery would have been severed. Take care of yourself.’ He moved away from her. ‘Where’s the next casualty?’
‘Over here. He’s unconscious,’ another voice said.
She had no reason for lying still anymore and the surface of the road was rather hard. Jasmine sat up. DC Bartrum was crouching beside her.
‘Can I help you up?’ she said offering her arms.
Jasmine grasped Bartrum’s hand and levered herself on to her feet. ‘Thanks.’ A wave of nausea passed through her and then she was standing straight and feeling almost normal. She brushed her skirt down her thighs, noticed that she had only one boob again and looked around. Flames were shooting out of the windows of Cleo’s flat making a bright contrast with the darkening sky. People had moved back to the far side of the road, the gang corralled behind a circle of police officers. A fire engine arrived, siren blaring and fire officers leapt out. The paramedic was at work on the prone form of Stash who also lay in the road. Approaching her from the other side of the road was Cleo accompanied by a female police officer. Cleo was wearing a lacy white minidress covered in dark smudges.
‘Jasmine?’ the question was tentative.
‘Yes, it’s me, Cleo. Jasmine/James.’
‘They told me it was you that told the police that they were going to petrol bomb me.’
‘Yes. I didn’t want you hurt. Are you okay?’
Cleo waved her hands. ‘Yeah, I was out of the window as soon the fire started and the cops appeared.’
‘I’m sorry about your flat.’
‘It wasn’t up to much. The housing association will have to find me a decent place now.’
‘But your clothes and other stuff?’
‘Charity shop gear. I can soon pick up some more.’
‘I thought the police would have stopped it happening.’
‘We had to catch Wright and his gang in the act,’ Bartrum said, ‘but we didn’t mean for him to actually torch the place.’
‘He should have been apprehended with the petrol can and lighter.’ Jasmine recognised the angry Scottish tones of DI MacNeil as he joined the trio. He wore an anti-stab jacket over his casual shirt and trousers. ‘And you were supposed to remain well away from the action with DC Bartrum,’ he continued.
‘I worked out how he planned to get inside the building,’ Jasmine said.
‘You should have told Bartrum who would have called through to warn us.’ It was obvious to Jasmine that she wasn’t being congratulated. Not that she felt like a hero.
‘Uh, Yes…’ She put a hand to her neck, feeling the sticking plaster. She trembled. Stash could have just slit her throat rather than attempt to use her as a hostage. Cleo could have been trapped in the smoke filled flat. Perhaps if she had spoken to Bartrum and she had alerted the police team they could have stopped Stash before he ignited the petrol. She had endangered herself, Cleo and possibly the police officers. What an idiot. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, her voice quavering.
The scowl slid from MacNeil’s face and he spoke more soothingly.
‘Well, we can lay a few more charges in front of Wright, when he’s recovered from the headache Bartrum gave him, and the whole gang will face a conspiracy charge. So, thanks for your help.’ He held out his hand to shake Jasmine’s.
‘Yeah, thanks, Jasmine,’ Cleo added, flinging her beefy arms around her and hugging her.
‘I’d better get you back home, Jasmine,’ DC Bartrum said, ‘while we clear up here. Come on.’ She hooked an arm around Jasmine’s and gently dragged her away from the scene.

Back in the small Rover, driving across town, Bartrum glanced across at Jasmine.
‘You okay?’
Jasmine had been sitting quietly. ‘Yes,’ she said, but a vision of the knife sliding into her throat kept on replaying in her head. She didn’t think she’d ever forget it.
‘Still thinking about a career in the Police Force?’
‘You reacted fast back there,’ Bartrum said. ‘Perhaps not the right action but with training you could be a good officer. Think about it.’

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg

Close-up: Jasmine Frame’s new case

Well, after a week off I couldn’t wait any longer to start a new Jasmine Frame story. This month’s Writing Magazine includes an article by Simon Whalley quoting me as saying that I like to have a few projects on the go, and it’s true. I’m currently writing the third volume in the September Weekes, Evil Above The Stars trilogy/series, I’m thinking about the next Jasmine Frame novel and a few other ideas, and now I’ve added another prequel to the mix.  I don’t know whether it helps or hinders my writing to swap between stories, characters and even genres but I like it. When I get a bit tired of writing one story I can go to another.

Close-up is the third prequel to Painted Ladies and is set a few months after The Switch (which I am going to re-title, Self Portraits when I revise it). It’s still over a year before the events of Painted Ladies so there’s space for yet more cases. As usual with these episodic tales we’ll see where it goes. Let me know what you think.

Close-up: Part 1

 Chapter 1

Jasmine looked up from her screen covered in rows of numbers. What had disturbed her concentration? The answer was DCI Sloane, flinging the door of his office open and striding across the floor, his polished shoes squeaking. He reached the middle of the long white board that filled one wall, turned and faced the rows of desks, some of them occupied by Jasmine and her colleagues.
‘Gather round, ladies and gentlemen,’ he said in his gruff but polite voice. It wasn’t always polite.
‘What’s up Boss?’ asked DC Keith Money, the eldest of the team, hauling himself out of his chair. Jasmine stood, too, smoothing her grey skirt down her nylon-covered thighs. She gave the hem an extra tug to pull it closer to her knee. She saw Sloane’s eyes glance in her direction then flick away.
‘We’ve been asked to investigate a missing child,’ Sloane answered. Money slouched against the front desk and Jasmine stood by his left side. Money flinched away from her.
‘Is that really a job for the Serious and Violent Crime Unit?’ Money said in a mutter.
‘Shut up Money,’ DS Palmerston said, taking up a position on his right, ‘DCI Sloane will explain if you keep your mouth shut.’ The big blonde woman gave him a jab in the ribs with her elbow to emphasise her point.
The other two members of the team, Detective Constables Shepherd and Kingston joined the ragged row.
‘Thank you, Palmerston.’ Sloane said pausing to take a deep breath. ‘Since the child has allegedly been abducted it is likely to be an S and V, so you can put aside your present work for the time being.’
Jasmine sighed with relief. Her head had been buzzing trying to come to terms with the balance sheets, invoices, expense claims of their current money laundering case.
‘That’s good news, isn’t it, Jas,’ Tom Shepherd leaned to whisper in her ear.
‘What was that Shepherd?’ Sloane asked.
‘Hope we can assist, Sir,’ Tom said.
‘I hope so too, Shepherd, otherwise you don’t deserve to be on my team,’ Sloane said. Jasmine noticed Tom’s face redden while Palmerston sent him an arrow-like glare and Derek Kingston gave him a nudge.
‘Enough,’ Sloane said, ‘Two CSOs on routine street patrol in Kintbridge High Street were approached by a woman in a state of distress saying her baby had been taken, along with the pushchair, from outside a shop near the Kennet Bridge.’
‘When was this, Sir?’ Palmerston asked, raising her head from her notebook.
Sloane glanced at his watch.
‘About forty-five minutes ago at ten thirty a.m. Uniformed officers are with the woman now in the High Street and we’ve been asked to coordinate the search for the child and determine what, if any, crime has been committed. As our current investigation is not at a crucial phase I have agreed to commit all the unit, at least for a few hours.’
There were general mutterings of agreement as all five members of the team asserted their willingness to join the search.
Sloane went on, ‘Palmerston. Meet the uniformed officers in the High Street. Interview the woman, find out all you can about her, whether she noticed anyone watching her, what she was doing when the chair and its occupant went missing. Take Shepherd with you. Money and Kingston, I want you in the High Street questioning passers-by. The CSOs and other officers will assist. I hope to have a description of the baby and the pushchair with you by the time you get there.’
‘Where do we meet the uniforms, Sir,’ Money asked.
‘They’re outside M and S,’ Sloane said, ‘should be about half a dozen of them by the time you get there. I’ll be coordinating the investigation from downstairs, initially.’
The four detectives started to move leaving Jasmine feeling left out and a bit silly. Sloane turned and took a step towards the exit.
‘What about me, Sir?’ Jasmine said. Sloane turned and looked at her. His top lip curled in distaste.
‘What’s the matter, Frame?’
‘What do I do, Sir? Can I join the search?’
Sloane cleared his throat. ‘No, Frame, I want you here. Take reports from the team. In the meantime, assuming the worst and we do have an abduction, start getting together information on the sex offenders that are in town, and anyone convicted of child snatching. Oh, and collect as much CCTV as you can get.’ He turned away from her and strode out of the room.
Jasmine groaned and returned to her seat. She thumped the desk. Another office job. When would Sloane let her out to join an investigation? Not once since she started her transition three months ago had she been allowed out to a crime scene let alone speak to a victim, witness or suspect. She closed down the files on the finance case and typed in her password to the national records. Stretching back in her chair, while the system loaded she felt her silicone breasts move against her chest and start an itch. She slipped a finger inside her low-necked woollen top and bra and gave the skin a scratch. At least there was one advantage to being left alone in the office.
She lifted her phone, dialled the CCTV monitoring centre and using the soft and feminine voice she’d been practising, requested copies of the discs for the relevant cameras that kept watch on the town centre. When she put the phone down she fed in her search terms on the sex offenders register and watched the screen as the list of names grew.
The phone rang and Jasmine snatched it up.
‘Jas, Tom here.’
‘Hi, Tom. What’s up?’
‘Jas? I can’t hear you.’
Jasmine sighed and spoke louder, losing the feminine tone, ‘I’m here Tom. What is it?’’
‘Sloane said to speak to you.’
‘That was nice of him.’
‘What’s the matter? You sound peeved.’
‘So would you be if you’d been left behind again to do the IT stuff.’
‘Oh, I see. I’m sorry Jas. I’m sure Sloane will come round eventually.’
‘It’s taking a time. Anyway, what have you got?’
‘Palmerston is talking to the woman; well she’s barely more than a girl. Her name’s Amber Markham. The missing baby is Jack, seven months old. It’s pretty cold and wet out here.’
‘Well, it is November. I wouldn’t mind a bit of cold and wet. Anything would be a change from this dump.’
‘You’re welcome to it. We’re bringing Mizz Markham back to the station. Hope that we can get her to give us a sensible account.’
‘Good. I’ll need a picture of her so I can search for her on the CCTV.’
‘You’ve got that job have you?’
‘Do I ever have anything else to do but stare at a screen?’
‘It’s not that bad is it, Jas?’
‘It is.’
‘We’re on our way. See you in a couple of minutes.’ The connection was cut. Jasmine put the phone down and stood up. At least she could meet Tom, Palmerston and the Markham woman as they arrived. She took her mobile out of her bag and walked out of the office.

The temperature in the public area was a few degrees below the office. Jasmine felt the restricted entry door lock loudly behind her. Desk Sergeant Geoff Gorman looked up from his paperwork at the front desk.
‘What are you doing here, Frame?’ He said.
He acts like I shouldn’t be here, Jasmine thought. She felt his X-ray eyes seeing through her female dress to the male bits she still had underneath. She shuffled uncomfortably.
‘I’m meeting Palmerston, Shepherd and the mother of the missing baby.’
‘Oh, well, don’t make the place look like a freak show.’
Anger knotted Jasmine’s stomach and she was about to say a few words to the grey haired older officer which might have got her into trouble for insubordination. The entrance doors opened letting in a gust of icy wind. DS Palmerston entered, followed by Tom guiding a slim girl in a mini skirt and inadequate shiny zip up top.
‘Take Amber through and get her something to warm her up,’ Palmerston said, turning to the desk. Jasmine held her i.d. to the door and pulled it open for Tom and the girl to enter. Amber glanced at her as she passed, her eyes seeming to linger on her.
‘Come in, please Amber,’ Tom said leading her into the more pleasant of the interview rooms, the one with white walls and padded seats. The girl flung herself onto one of the chairs looking dazed.
‘Tea or coffee?’ Tom asked.
‘Coffee,’ Amber said. ‘Can I have a fag?’
‘Not in here. I’m sorry,’ Tom said. ‘I’ll leave Miss Markham with you, Jas, while I get the coffee.’
He left. Jasmine stepped forward and pulled a chair from behind the desk so she could sit close to Amber without it looking like a formal questioning.
‘I’m sorry about your baby, Mizz Markham. Jack is it? I’m sure we’ll find him.’
Amber looked at her with her wide, tired and painted eyes. She didn’t say anything.
‘Do you mind if I take a photo of you? It’s so I can check the CCTV. See if we can spot you and whoever may have taken Jack.’ She held up her phone.
‘You speak weird, like a bloke. Are you a fucking tranny?’

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is avaialble as a paperback or e-book from all booksellers.

Jasmine Frame, the one and only…

I’ve been told a number of times that Jasmine Frame is a unique character, so as a break between posting episodes of Jasmine Frame stories I thought I would examine that assertion and what it means in terms of being transgender.

It is around fourteen years since I created Jasmine Frame as a transsexual detective. I first used her in an unfinished novel which I gave up on. I then used her and a couple of the other characters I had created, Tom Shepherd and DCI Sloane, in a couple of short stories which were published in the Beaumont Magazine.  Then I began writing Painted Ladies and completed the first draft in 2009. Since embarking on the publication of Painted Ladies in 2013 I have written the second novel in the series, Bodies by Design, and the two episodic novella-length prequels, Blueprint and The Switch which were published here.

Painted Ladies cover

I feel pretty close to Jasmine now having lived with her in my head for those fourteen years. I think she has developed as a person while I have filled in her back-story. Although I have the bare outlines of a total of five novels taking her through her full transition I haven’t done what J.K.Rowling says she did with the Potter books i.e. I haven’t plotted out all the stories in detail. This has meant I am stuck with some timings that I put in Painted Ladies which has made the prequels a bit awkward in places.

The surprising thing is that in my fourteen years of writing about a leading character who is trans I have come across few if any similar characters. There have been novels, TV shows and films that have focussed on a trans character (Transamerica and Jimmy McGovern’s “Accused” with Sean Bean as a transvestite, spring to mind) but in all these cases the plot has centred on the trans nature of lead character. I have always seen Jasmine as a detective who happens to be trans. OK, her struggles and dilemmas as she transitions are an important part of her story and to date the crimes she has investigated have been trans related but I still think there is a separation between her life and her work not found in other novels and dramas that feature transgenderism.  I am hoping that if a publisher or a TV company picks up Jasmine Frame then the stories can broaden out into other areas.

While proud of Jasmine’s “unique” status I have been worried about other similar characters emerging. Ideas can’t be copyrighted so anyone could decide to have a trans detective. So far it hasn’t happened but I worry that it might before Jasmine has achieved a place in popular fiction. Perhaps my worry is unnecessary because the trans scene is broad enough to encompass any number of characters – and that is the most important point.

Jasmine Frame is unique not because she is a transsexual detective but because she is an individual. She is not based on any one person that I have met or come across, and she’s not me. She does however have facets of her character that I have gleaned from my experience of the trans scene and she holds some of my views. The more I learn about transgenderism the more I see it fragmenting as everyone’s experience is different. There are common features but everyone who professes themselves to transgender or gender variant or whatever term they want to use, has a degree of uniqueness. As time progresses and society changes in the UK and elsewhere the personal stories change. I am sure that there are more young people (teenagers and pre-teens) who now feel able to express their trans feelings than there were ten or twenty years ago. I would guess that the average age of transition (and gender reassignment surgery) is falling as more opt for it in their early twenties. That is good as it means that people are having to suffer the agonies of being trapped in the wrong externally perceived gender for less time but whether the number opting for gender reassignment in their fifties or sixties will drop, who knows..

What is also changing is the break up of the old division between transsexuals and transvestites. Transsexuals can be pre- or post-op but still qualify for their gender reassignment certificate; some will stop before the completing the medical/surgical process (both MtF and FtM).  For those who claim not to be transsexual there are a huge number of options from the closet dresser and secret lingerie wearers, to those that swap between male and female roles frequently and openly (like me), to those who declare that they have no gender or are third gender or between gender, and others that I have no space to list.


Any of these could (and should) be characters in a story. Jasmine is just one individual who feels and believes that she is a woman but has (at least initially) a male body. She is keen on clothes and looking after her appearance; she has had a loving and sexual relationship with Angela, her (ex-)wife; she is uncertain of her sexuality as she transitions to female but finds herself aroused by male attention; she wants to be feminine (whatever that means – a subject for another blog) but won’t be sidelined by the men in her profession. Her personality has been built by her experiences as a child, teenager, student and trainee police officer and detective, and by the places she has lived in (Southern England). She has likes – running, classic films, spicy food, disco music, short skirts – and dislikes – prejudice, drab clothes, housework, forms, knives. She dives into situations where perhaps a bit of forethought would be a good idea but she has a need to prove herself and be the one to solve a case. She is Jasmine Frame – the one and only.

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as a paperback and e-book from all booksellers.

NB The featured image is a mock-up of a cover design for Bodies By Design

Jasmine looks ahead

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.
‘What happened?’
‘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.’
‘And you?’
‘I’ll have to give evidence too, especially as Tamsin confessed to me.’
‘I meant your job; your relationship with Sloane.’
Jasmine sighed.
‘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.
‘Why not?’
‘Have you forgotten? You’ve got that appointment with that new doctor at eight thirty.’
Jasmine groaned.

Chapter 7
                ‘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.

The End

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as paperback and e-book from all booksellers.

Jasmine faces questions

Below is the penultimate episode of The Switch: A Jasmine Frame story – a prequel to Painted Ladies. When you reach the end you may think that it is a good place to finish but there are some threads I would like to tie together.

Like the first prequel, Blueprint, that I published episodically here, The Switch has developed week by week, and changed as I got into it. Each episode is written just before I post it so sometimes I have more time than others. I realise that this may have an effect on the style and the competence of the writing. I must read the whole story when it’s finished and see whether it works.

I write my novels somewhat differently in that they are loosely planned, drafted, re-drafted and so on. Nevertheless I would like comments on The Switch – please tell me what you think, strengths, weaknesses, that sort of thing, what to do with it next…

So look out next week for the final episode and then… well I am thinking about another, probably the last, prequel which will almost take us up to the start of Painted Ladies. Then, with Bodies By Design complete, I will start planning the third in the series (That’s after I’ve completed the third novel in the September Weekes series). Fun isn’t it, being a writer.

The Switch: Part 17

 Chapter 6

Her hand shook as she applied the lipstick and it wasn’t due to the rattles of the old Fiesta or Tom’s driving. What have I done, Jasmine thought? She hadn’t given a thought to her actions from the moment she pushed the door to the old security building open. Finding Tamsin being abused by the three members of McLeery’s gang, their attack on her and then the arrival of Sloane and his men had happened so quickly. She had been stupid to walk in to a potentially dangerous situation without back-up or forethought and there was no doubt Tom’s arrival saved her from some injury. It was the delayed realisation of the danger she had been in that was giving her the shakes. But why had Sloane and Tom and the other officers arrived at that opportune moment.
Jasmine completed painting her lips, checked her appearance in her mirror and replaced the items in her bag. Her heart rate was returning to normal and she felt that her voice would not sound too tremulous. It wasn’t far now to Police HQ. She’d better get some information out of Tom while the chance remained.
‘Thanks for turning up when you did back there, Tom.’
Tom glanced at her then turned back to concentrating on the road.
‘Glad to get you out of there, Jas,’ he said, ‘But Sloane is going to be furious with you for going in alone.’
‘I know,’ Jasmine replied. She knew she was in for one of Sloane’s famous outbursts. She had ignored every protocol for following up a lead. ‘But how come you arrived just then.’
‘We were on our way to your house.’
‘My house?’
‘Yes. You know Angela rang in.’
‘Do I?’
‘Don’t you? She rang to say that Daniel Parry was prepared to hand himself in for questioning.’
‘He was?’ Jasmine couldn’t understand. Why had Angela taken it on herself to hand Dan over?
‘Yes, she said that he’d contacted you and you had picked him up and now he was ready to answer questions about Kyle McLeery.’
‘But before we got there we took call relayed to us from a Mr Parry.’
‘Dan’s father.’
‘Yes. He said that you were on your way to look for a girl called Tamsin who had something to do with McLeery’s death. He suggested that old hut as a starting point.’
‘Did he say anything else?’
‘No, but Sloane has asked for him to come in to answer questions.’
‘He’ll need to.’
‘Why? You said this Tamsin girl was the killer.’
‘Mr Parry was involved in attempting to dispose of the body.’
‘You mean he and Tamsin were in it together.’
‘No. Look it’s complicated but Daniel’s in the clear. He had nothing to with the death and knows nothing about how it happened.’
‘He may be in the clear, Jas, but you’re not.’
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine asked but she knew the answer already. She was not looking forward to Sloane’s interrogation. It looked like the police career of DC Jasmine Frame could be over before it began.
‘I don’t understand what you’ve been doing for the last few days, Jas. I know this transition is a big thing for you and I can’t imagine what’s going on in your head, but why get involved in the McLeery case?’
‘I wasn’t trying to solve the case, Tom, I was just trying to protect Dan, because he’s trans like me.’
‘And that was a good enough reason for putting your career on the line?’
‘I had no intention of putting my career on the line, Tom.’
‘Well, you’d better find some good answers for Sloane.’
They pulled into the Police Station car park and Tom brought the car to a halt. As he was undoing the seat belt he twisted to face Jasmine.
‘Good luck Jas. I’m on your side, whatever that is, but remember I have to do what Sloane tells me.’
Jasmine gave him a forced smile. ‘I understand Tom.’ It meant that when Sloane gave her a hard time, Tom would not be coming to her rescue.
Tom led her into the station. It wasn’t late but being a Monday evening wasn’t busy. The duty officer sat at the desk looking bored. He looked up as Tom and Jasmine passed by.
‘Eh? DC Shepherd. Who’s this with you? Aren’t you going to log her in?’
‘It’s DC Frame, G.G.’
Jasmine knew Sergeant Geoff Gorman well and he knew her. Well, he knew DC James Frame. He was and old-time cop, approaching retirement and confined to a desk these days. Surely her clothes, make-up and new hair-do didn’t make her unrecognisable but apparently G.G. had seen ‘female’ and that was it. His brow furrowed as he looked at her more closely and then his eyebrows rose.
‘So it is, I’ll be blowed. We had that briefing on you today. You’re a trannie or something. Is that it?’
‘I’m transsexual, G.G. I’m on leave while I transition.’
‘Transition? What does that mean? Getting your bollocks chopped off?’
‘Not yet, G.G. Just getting a few documents sorted.’ Jasmine felt her face turning red and her heart beat faster as her anger grew.’
‘Hmph,’ G.G growled.
‘We’d better go on through,’ Tom insisted holding the inner door open, ‘We’re going to an interview room, G.G.’
‘Do what you like. Seems anything goes these days.’
Jasmine followed Tom down the corridor and when he opened the door into a room stepped through. It was familiar to her, a place where she had interviewed many victims, suspects and witnesses during the last few years as a detective. It was a place she was comfortable in, where she knew what she had to do and how to do it. She pulled a chair away from a table and began to sit down.
‘Not there Jas. The other side.’
Jasmine jumped up as if shocked. Of course, she was the one being interviewed tonight. She moved around the table and sat down in one of the chairs opposite, where the detectives sat. The recording equipment was on the wall to her left and the fluorescent lamps shone down brightly from directly above her head.
‘I’m not used to this, Tom,’ she said
‘No, and I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. I’ll go and see if Sloane is back yet. Won’t be long.’ He withdrew. The door closed but Jasmine was relieved when she did not hear the clunk of the lock being turned. At least I’m not a prisoner, still free to go if I wish; and say good bye to my job.
In the stuffy, bare room she had time to think. Was G.G’s reaction to her typical of her police colleagues? Why had Angela rung the police? Had Daniel really agreed to give himself up? What had made her dash off to question Dan’s father and get herself in this mess?
The minutes dragged on and Jasmine grew tired of trying to analyse her motives and searching for answers to questions for which she didn’t have the data to provide an answer. She became more and more apprehensive of meeting Sloane. What would he think of her dress – light cotton, colourful, knee-length? Ideal for a hot summer day, but for a police officer on duty he probably would not think it suitable attire. Apart from that few moments in the semi-dark of the disused security box he hadn’t seen the female DC Frame before. How would he react to her made-up face, ear rings, bosom? Why did it matter what he thought. She was entitled to be who she wanted to be, believed herself to be. She didn’t have to appear in a way that pleased DCI Sloane. She mentally thumped the table. But he was her boss; his opinion of her would determine whether she succeeded as a detective, transitioned or not.
She had almost exhausted herself examining and re-examining her thoughts and feelings on her life, career and the position she found herself in. The door opened and DCI Sloane entered. His bulk and the grey suit dominated the room seeming to make it cramped. Tom followed appearing small despite being taller and well-built himself. Sloane paused and looked intently at Jasmine. She saw his top lip curl and a blush appear above his white collar. Then he strode to the table, pulled out the chair and sat down. The plastic and steel chair sank noticeably as he settled his weight into it. Tom eased himself into the chair by his side. The table which had previously seemed quite large now felt inadequate at keeping a gap between them. The two men seemed to be threateningly close.
Sloane stared at her, his eyes examining every square millimetre of her face. He glanced down to the top of her chest and the bulge where her artificial breasts filled her bra. His eyes lingered on the tear in the cloth of her dress and the protruding threads of her bra cup and silicone foam. His eyes rose and he looked directly at her again.
‘So how is your transition going, DC Frame?’ Sloane asked. The words appeared chatty almost friendly but the tone in which they were spoken was grave and suspicious.
‘Very well, thank you, Sir. I’ve made a start on the forms I need to complete. There’s quite a few.’
‘So I understand. It was partly why I agreed to your extended leave. Give you time to adjust to your new identity.’
‘It’s not new to me,’ Jasmine found herself saying.
‘Time for us to adjust then,’ Sloane growled.
‘Yes, Sir,’ Jasmine hastened to agree. She wasn’t sure that three weeks would be long enough for some of her colleagues.
‘So, given that you are off police duties, what were you doing in the disused air force premises this evening?’
The first crunch question. How she answered might determine her future.
‘I was hoping to find Tamsin.’
‘Because I thought she might have been responsible for Kyle McLeery’s death.’
‘Why did you think that?’
‘Mr Parry, Daniel’s father told me he’d seen a girl similar to her at the scene of McLeery’s death at a time when he might have been killed.’
‘And why was Mr Parry at the scene.’
‘He wanted to tackle McLeery about threats to his son.’
‘I don’t think he intended just to have a quiet chat, Sir.’
‘Parry killed McLeery.’
‘No. He said he found the body of McLeery, after he’d seen the girl leaving the scene. Tamsin admitted she hit McLeery with a pipe.’
‘Ah yes, the clue of the familiarity with the unrevealed evidence.’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘So you solved the murder of McLeery for us.’
Jasmine nearly replied ‘Yes’, but stopped herself. That was Sloane’s trap.
‘Um. If I was responsible for uncovering important evidence, Sir, then it was unintentional.’
Sloane leaned back in his chair, breathed deeply and examined Jasmine through half-closed eyes.
‘So, what was the intention behind these toings and froings to Basingstoke and Enborne Common?’
‘I wanted to prove that Daniel Parry had no part in the death of Kyle McLeery and that there was no need for him to be questioned.’
‘That was a noble aim, Frame. Why did you consider it your task?’
‘Because, he’s trans, like I am, but younger, inexperienced. I understood his fear of having his relationships and identity examined.’
‘So you had contact with him at a time when we had a call out for his apprehension, but did not inform us at the time.’
‘Yes, Sir.’ Jasmine realised she couldn’t excuse that break with protocol. ‘I thought that if I met him, talked to him, without the police pressing him, I could keep him calm and prepare him for the questions he would be asked.’
‘You didn’t think that that was my responsibility to decide. That having informed me of the contact with Daniel Parry I might have asked you to do just what you did do.’
‘No, Sir. I didn’t think.’ Jasmine dropped her eyes. She couldn’t bear to see Sloane’s accusing expression.
‘That’s not what I expect of a detective constable, Frame. You have broken protocols, withheld information and interfered with an investigation in which you had no part.’
‘Yes, Sir.’ Oh, god. This was it. He was going to throw her off his team, perhaps out of the force altogether. There was just the sound of Sloane’s heavy breathing. Jasmine counted one, two, three, four slow, deep breaths. She looked up. Sloane still had his eyes fixed on her. He took another few breaths before speaking.
‘I read your report of the incident you came across last Friday when, I believe, you met Daniel Parry for the first time.’
‘You became emotional about the way McLeery was treating Parry.’
‘Uh. Yes, Sir.’
‘You felt an empathy because of your shared status as transsexuals.’
‘That contributed I suppose, Sir.’
‘At just the time when you have commenced this major change in your life.’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘You still want to return as a DC on my team?’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘I presumed as much. You have made me question whether I can trust you sufficiently to have you on my team, Frame. Acting like a private eye doesn’t work in the police force, now or ever. We achieve results by sharing information, ideas, dangers. We cooperate, look out for each other and bring criminals to justice through damned hard work. Once upon a time a hint of instability in character would have been enough to have you out. Now I suppose I have to make concessions to your diversity and emotional well-being.’
He was going to let her off! Jasmine felt a weight lift from her. She straightened her back, held her head up. She had a future in the police force.
‘You will remain here until you have completed a full and detailed account of all your involvement in this case and answered any further questions that DC Shepherd may have. Then you can go home and complete your leave with no more interference in police business. When you return to service you will be on probation, DC Frame. I will be watching your behaviour very closely. Any further insubordination could have severe consequences for your career. Do you understand?’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘Good. I am sure a woman officer can give you advice on suitable attire for a female detective constable, if that is how you intend to be seen in the future.’
‘Yes, Sir.’ She was getting tired of her bi-syllabic responses but retained enough common sense to not add anything to them. Sloane stood and without a further glance at her, turned away.
‘Make sure it’s a complete report, Shepherd.’   He strode from the room.
Tom pushed a pad of paper and a biro towards her.
‘Thanks,’ he said.
‘For what?’ Jasmine asked.
‘For getting me the task of sitting here while you write your life story. I was supposed to be off duty two hours ago.’
‘OK. Get writing.’

Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as a paperback or e-book from all booksellers.

Jasmine in a jam

A lovely few days in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Lots of bookshops selling books in Slovenian. How come they survive while independent bookshops in the UK have all but disappeared. Well I think we know the answer but it is disappointing.  I bought a book with a translation of some of France Peseren’s poems. Apparently he is Slovenia’s greatest writer.

Anyway, on to The Switch, and the next episode of the Jasmine Frame story exploring her origins as a transsexual detective.

The Switch – Part 16

Jasmine had a moment to take in the youth’s left hand on Tamsin’s breast, the other holding a short knife to her neck. The next she was thrown against the wall of the blockhouse, her shoulder grazing on the rough concrete. An arm pressed against her throat and the light of a heavy metal-cased torch shone into her eyes. The third member of Kyle’s gang had been behind the door illuminating the proceedings. The light dazzled her so she closed her eyes.
‘Hey. It’s that trannie friend of Danny-boy.’ She recognised the voice of the boy who had been groping and threatening Tamsin.
‘Pull back, Jake,’ same voice. ‘Let’s have a look at the fucker.’ The arm was released from her throat and the intensity of the light decreased. Jasmine opened her eyes and although the light was still bright in her face, she saw the dark face of Jake behind it and Tamsin wriggling.
‘Get off me Wes, you oaf.’
Wes dropped her arms and she pushed him off her,
‘What’s she doing here?’ Wes asked.
‘It’s not a she is it. It’s one of them trans things like Danny only the other way round,’ Tamsin said.
‘And this one’s a pig,’ the un-named youth said. ‘Why are you here, cop?’
Jasmine pushed herself upright and smoothed her skirt down her thighs.
‘I’m investigating Kyle McLeery’s death,’ she said trying to sound calm and in control.
‘I thought it was Danny what done it,’ Jake said.
‘He’s a girl,’ Wes said, ‘he couldn’t have done in Kyle.’
‘Are you saying girls aren’t tough enough to stand up for themselves?’ Tamsin was defiant.
‘You’re pretty tough, aren’t you Tamsin,’ Jasmine said. Even through the glare of the torchlight she could see Tamsin’s look of comprehension. She knew what Jasmine was referring to. She stepped back into the shadows. The three boys didn’t seem to have understood the exchange.
‘You weren’t on the case this morning at Parry’s house when those two pigs moved us on,’ nameless said, ‘you were just looking out for Danny.’
‘That’s right. He’s innocent and safe,’ Jasmine said.
‘The trannie wants to pin it on you,’ Tamsin said from behind the three boys who now faced Jasmine. ‘She’ll say you did it, Joey, to get Danny off the hook.’
You had to hand it to Tamsin. She had more brains than the three lads put together. Moments ago she was being threatened, now she was giving instructions. She could incite them to harm her, Jasmine realised.
‘I want the truth,’ Jasmine said looking passed the boys to Tamsin.
‘We had nuffin’ to do with killing Kyle,’ the one Jasmine now knew was Joey said, ‘he was the boss.’
‘And you are now, Joey, is that it?’ Jasmine said, ‘Is that why you were feeling up Tamsin?’
‘She’s our bitch now,’ the self-appointed leader said.
‘You’re not having me,’ Tamsin said, ‘Only Kyle was allowed to fuck me.’
‘He said we could have you,’ Wes said.
‘Was that it?’ Jasmine asked, ‘Kyle had found another girl or was he just bored of you, Tamsin?’
Tamsin sniffed. ‘No,’ she moaned.
‘What’s it to you, cock-teaser?’ Jake growled.
‘Do you want a taste of a real cock?’ Wes thrust his groin forward and rubbed his genitals through his dirty jeans. The three boys edged towards Jasmine. The bright beam of the torch obscured Jasmine’s vision, but she saw the glint of light on the raised blade held by the new leader of the gang.
‘Do her in before she rats on you,’ Tamsin urged from the dark.
Hands reached forward to grab Jasmine’s arms. A hand slipped into the waistband of her skirt. The point of the knife pressed against her left breast.
‘You mean before I tell them that you killed Kyle, Tamsin.’
The hands gripping her stiffened. The knife jerked forward, piercing the cloth of her T-shirt and bra. The blade sank into her silicone breast. She didn’t flinch.
‘What?’ Joey said.
‘Saturday night wasn’t Tamsin? Did Kyle meet you here as you planned? What did you argue about?’
Tamsin gave a cry like a wounded animal. The three boys turned releasing their grip on Jasmine; the knife pulled from her false breast. The light moved from Jasmine’s face. She saw red blobs and, through them, Tamsin edging to the door.
‘He said I wouldn’t be his number one anymore,’ Tamsin cried. ‘He chased me up to the pond. There was a pole on the ground. I swung it at him. I didn’t mean to kill him.’ She was at the entrance, the three boys poised to launch themselves at her. The door was thrown open.
More light; bodies filling the doorway; voices, male, older voices shouting warnings. The boys stumbled backwards towards Jasmine. She put a foot forward, shoved a shoulder. The three fell in a heap onto the filthy mattress. Tamsin retreated from the invading police officers. Jasmine grabbed her, wrapping an arm around her naked torso and pinning her arms behind her.
‘Jas? Are you here?’ Tom Shepherd’s voice.
‘Here,’ she called. Torch beams searched the room; fell on her and Tamsin. ‘This is the one you want.’
Jasmine could just make out Tom flanked by two uniformed officers. Behind them loomed the bulk of DCI Sloane.
‘For what reason should we want this girl?’ Sloane said.
‘The killing of Kyle McLeery, sir,’ Jasmine replied.
‘What’s the evidence?’
‘She just admitted attacking him with a steel pole, Sir.’
‘We haven’t released that information, Frame.’
‘I know, so she must have been telling the truth, Sir.’
‘We’ll put some questions to her, Frame. Get some clothes on her, Shepherd, and put her in a car.’
Tom reached forward and held Tamsin’s bare shoulder. Jasmine released her grip on her and the girl was pulled away from her. Tom handed her on to one of the officers who escorted her out of the hut. The three boys untangled themselves from the floor and stood up.
‘And what about this trio?’ Sloane enquired.
‘They were assaulting the girl, when I arrived,’ Jasmine said.
There was more noise of heavy shoes on gravel and two more police officers crowded into the small room.
‘Take them as well but keep them away from the girl,’ Sloane ordered, ‘Now I think we need some explanations from you, DC Frame. Shepherd will accompany you to the station. ’
Jasmine followed Tom and Sloane from the derelict security hut. There were two cars and a police van parked at various angles around her little Fiesta which stood with driver’s door open and engine running.
‘I’ll drive,’ Tom said approaching the right hand side of the Ford.
‘But, it’s my car,’ Jasmine complained.
‘I think you need to calm yourself and work out what you are going to tell Sloane,’ Tom said inserting his tall frame into the driving seat. Jasmine circled the car and got into the passenger seat. She saw Tom’s eyes on her breast.
‘Are you hurt?’ he asked. She looked down at the torn threads and the gaping slit.
‘No. It’s only my falsie that got cut.’ Suddenly she had a vision of the knife slicing into the breast she wished she had instead of the silicone enhancers and blood spurting from the gash. She shivered.
‘Are you sure?’ Tom persisted.
‘Yes. I’m fine. Let’s get going.’
Tom engaged the gear lever and they lurched forward. Jasmine put a hand to her chin. Her face felt rough. It had been a long time since she’d had her morning shave. She reached into the footwell for her bag and dug inside for a mirror and lipstick. She would have to make herself look respectable to face Sloane’s questioning.


Painted Ladies: a Jasmine Frame story is available as a paperback and ebook.