Jocelyn Bloom was all alone, but that was nothing unusual. She had inherited her parents' mansion on the very edge of Cliffordstown but the only reason she was currently living in it was because she had nowhere else to go and she couldn't AFFORD anywhere else. She had made a vow to not touch a single penny of her parents' fortune unless she was in danger of either dying or else becoming destitute.

Out of habit, Jocelyn glanced up at the clock and found it to be twenty past eight: the same time it had been an hour and a half ago AND the same time it had been four hours prior. She'd forgotten that she had removed the batteries from all the clocks.

As she was reaching for her mobile phone to check the time, the screen suddenly lit up, and her sombre ringtone began playing. The number was unknown but she knew it was a Cliffordstown number, so she answered it. "Hello?"

"Hello, is this Miss Jocelyn Bloom?" asked a female voice.

"MAJOR Jocelyn Bloom," corrected Jocelyn, somewhat irritably. She still had no idea what the time is, and not knowing that made her snappy. "Who is speaking?"

"This is Ella McIntyre, Chief Superintendent Holman's deputy."

Jocelyn recognised the name; it was the person whom Jocelyn had been emailing back and forth about her upcoming job at Cliffordstown Police Department. "Yes, Miss McIntyre?"

Now it was Ella's turn to correct Jocelyn: "Mrs."

"Oh, I do apologise," Jocelyn said through gritted teeth. "Forgive me for being so short, but why exactly are you calling me?"

"I understand that your first day as a detective inspector is the first of May, is that correct?"

Jocelyn was now everso slightly concerned. "Yes, that's correct."

"Well, it turns out that we have a brand new detective sergeant starting with us tomorrow, and CS Holman has reassigned you to be her DI."

Jocelyn's eyebrows rose. "A different detective sergeant? Why, may I ask?"

"Because this new DS needs your guidance more than your originally assigned one," replied Ella. "She is inexperienced, immature, wholly overzealous, and rather reckless."

Jocelyn sensed a hint of dislike in Ella's voice. "Then I have to wonder why she was even made a detective sergeant at all," she remarked.

"It wasn't my decision."

Taken aback by the venom in Ella's voice, Jocelyn frowned. "You want me to be this new sergeant's mentor?"

"Yes. CS Holman and I believe this will make her grow in character and skill." Ella sniffed. "I personally think she's a lost cause. But for some reason, CS Holman thinks the girl can make something of herself."

"You are being very unprofessional," Jocelyn scolded, scowling at the wall and imagining she was giving this Ella woman her best disapproving stare. "She is not a girl; she is a woman. And until we have seen her in action as a detective sergeant, you cannot fairly call her a lost cause."

There was a short pause. Then: "I'm sorry," said Ella's somewhat subdued voice. "We have strayed off topic. What CS Holman told me to say was that your first day will be tomorrow instead of the first of May."

Jocelyn didn't particularly like the use of "will be" instead of asking her if it was alright, but she supposed she couldn't really argue. "Good. That was all you needed to say."

With even more irritation than she had answered the phone, she abruptly hung up and dropped the phone on the sofa, covering her face with her hands. She let out a long breath, puffing out her cheeks as she did. She already didn't like Ella McIntyre, and she hadn't even met the woman yet.

That's a wonderful start to our working relationship…

But she wasn't worried. Ella was probably in her mid-twenties at most, and as well as being thirty-six years old, Jocelyn also had the pleasure of having sixteen years' worth of experience in the military police. She had seen more in those sixteen years than it was likely that Ella would see in her whole lifetime.

As Jocelyn got up off the sofa, sharp pain shot through her chest. She suppressed a cry of pain and bent over, clutching the arm of the sofa for support with one hand and pressing her other hand over her heart. She took a few deep breaths, all of which hurt every time she moved her chest, until the pain dies down enough for her to move. As she shuffled towards the stairs, she kept her hand pressed against her chest, which felt like she had a sharp stitch in her heart.

Thankfully, the pain disappeared by the time she got to the top of the stairs. She let out another long breath and closed her eyes. She was just tired. That was what she chose to believe. The sooner she got to bed, the better for her.

"If you don't get a pacemaker fitted, you won't live past forty."

Jocelyn shook her head several times as she pulled on her nightdress. No. Get out of my head. The doctor's wellmeaning voice wouldn't leave her mind, and neither would the words he had spoken. As she was only four years away from her fortieth birthday, it was beginning to make her nervous. She would never have said that to anyone, but it was true.

"No," she said aloud, getting into her bed and switching out the light. "If this thing kills me, then it kills me."

The darkness didn't respond. It never did.