Read the First & Second Chapter of ‘A Chequered Romance’ – free

Hi – Please read below the first and second chapter of my new novel ‘A Chequered Romance’. It is due out on 1 October 2020. You can pre-order (or order a copy) here

CABINET 

______________________ 

‘I PROPOSE that we send some military and financial support to the revolutionaries’. 

‘But Prime Minister, we can’t be seen to be aiding and abetting a revolution. If we helped to overthrow the democratic government in Zimbabwe, then it would make us look like we were anti-democratic ourselves ’, replied the Chancellor.  

The Prime Minister gave the Chancellor a stern look. ‘I don’t care what it looks like. I want to help my friend, Masimba. He has fought for freedom in that country for years and it’s about time Western governments helped him.  I believe that we can support him and keep it secret from the Press and the wider public’. 

‘But with all due respect Prime Minister, we will find it very difficult to keep this secret. You know how these things get leaked to the Press. I would be wary and very concerned about this course of action’. 

There were murmurs in the Cabinet Room, but most of the Cabinet ministers remained silent. The Prime Minister and Chancellor had always seen eye to eye in the past, and this disagreement was out of character. Everyone in the cabinet knew about the secret relationship between them both, and how they enjoyed secret trysts in the back room of number 10. Some ministers were beginning to wonder if their affair had hit a rocky patch. They also wondered whether the Chancellor was talking about his affair with the Prime Minister when he said it is very difficult to keep things secret from the Press. as if it was a coded message for the Prime Minister. 

The Foreign Secretary said, ‘I think we have to tread very carefully. This is a very sensitive  and politically dangerous situation that we find ourselves in. We must be patient and see what happens. You never know; the revolutionaries may win the day without our help. But Prime Minister, why do you wish to help Masimba? What would we gain from doing so?’   

The Prime Minister, George Morgan, stood up. ‘Masimba is a close friend of mine.  He has been a beacon of light in his oppressed homeland. He has sought to rid Zimbabwe of their evil president and to stop the human rights atrocities that are being carried out in that country. I feel it is my duty and I feel it is Britain’s Duty to help Zimbabwe in some way. I have spoken to His Majesty the King and he is in agreement that something needs to be done to help restore peace and prosperity to that country’.   

George looked around the Cabinet table for support. Some of the Cabinet ministers appeared to agree with him but most remained silent. ‘I will come back to you on this matter once we have more intelligence from Zimbabwe. I know we can’t support Masimba publicly, but I believe that we can help him privately’. He looked around the table, thanked them all for attending and concluded the meeting. He then asked the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary to stay behind. 

And with that, the Cabinet ministers got up and slowly left the room, talking to themselves as they left. The Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary remained seated. Once all the Cabinet members had left, the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary, Sophie Walton, closed the door behind her so that the three remaining occupants had some privacy. George the Prime Minister got up and started to pace the floor. He looked across the long table in the Cabinet Room. At first, his eyes fixed on the Foreign Secretary, Amara Khan. She had been his political rival for many years and still had visions of herself becoming the next Prime Minister. She was in her mid-forties, of Indian heritage, married with no children and was extremely ambitious. George did not trust her at all, yet he realised that he would have to keep her in check and remain friends with her for as long as possible.   

‘Amara, I need your help. If we are to help the Zimbabwe Revolution Party, then I will need you to arrange for a channel of communication to be set up so that we can contact them. Would that be possible and if so, how could we do it?’ 

Amara looked up at George in her own inimitable way. ‘Prime Minister, I will find out for you. I think I know a way of contacting the Revolution Party. They have diplomatic relations with Ethiopia, and I believe we will be able to send messages to them that way’. But she urged caution. If word got out that the British Government were helping Masimba, it might make the situation worse. 

George continued to pace the floor. ‘I understand Amara, but I cannot sit and do nothing. Please can you find a way of contacting Masimba?  I wish to speak to him’. 

‘Okay, no problem. That’s fine. I will organise something. I may speak to the Ethiopian Ambassador and I will let you know what he says. But it will be difficult to help Masimba militarily and financially without raising suspicions. We will have to be very careful’.  

He thanked Amara, she nodded, got up from her chair and said her goodbyes. She strode out of the room as if she owned it. George looked on after her and realised that he was treading a fine line. Will she leak anything to the Press or will she keep her mouth shut? I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her! 

George then reverted his gaze back to the Chancellor who was still sitting at the table. The Chancellor was a man of exceptional intelligence who had been a rock for the Prime Minister in the past few years. He had supported him professionally, publicly and privately . And their affair had been long lasting and passionate. The Chancellor, Harry Green, was a man of about 40 years old. He had black hair and dark brown eyes; his skin was olive and he had designer stubble on his face. He was 6 foot tall and had quite a slim build. He hailed from Devon, was married with two children, and was a man of ambition; he too had designs on the top job.  

‘Harry. What was all that about? Was it all for show? Why did you undermine me in front of Cabinet?‘ 

Harry slowly raised his head up to look the Prime Minister straight in the eye and said, ‘Look George, I know what you’re up to. I know that you like Masimba. I know you secretly have the hots for him and that this is just a ruse to get close to him. I’m not stupid’. George is playing with fire; this is going to end in disaster  

‘Yes, I admit that I do like Masimba.  We went to school together at Oxford as you know, but I haven’t seen or heard from him in years. And yes, I do have a vested interest because I know him and want to help him’. 

Laughing cynically, Harry said, ‘And you fancy the pants off him too’. 

George got up and walked around the table to where the Chancellor was sitting. Harry rose up to meet him. George said, ‘You are just jealous because you originally wanted to end our affair, yet now you are jealous of anyone I meet. What’s it to you anyway what I do and who I see?’ 

Harry quickly grabbed a hold of George and gave him a passionate kiss.  George did not resist.  Their lips met and Harry embraced George, wrapping his arms around him.  George reciprocated and let Harry kiss him. They looked into each other’s eyes and that old spark was temporarily reignited. Their lips parted but they leant on each other’s foreheads.  

‘Harry, don’t do this. You’re messing with my head. It’s not fair’. 

‘I can’t help it George; I still have feelings for you’, replied Harry.  

Harry lifted his head up, as did George. Harry then kissed him again, with one arm wrapped around the back of his waist and the other arm around the back of his neck.  Harry’s hand then began to massage the back of George’s neck and George moaned in pleasure. 

But George suddenly pushed Harry away and took a few steps back. ‘I can’t do this Harry. We’ve been here too many times before. You are married and you’re not going to leave her, so there’s no point in us carrying on. You broke it off originally remember?’ said George. You’ve screwed my head up too many times before. 

Harry was despondent. He looked down to the floor and shuffled his feet. He then slowly looked up towards George and said, ‘On your head be it. Just like I said before. The Press will find out about you helping Masimba. It’s only a matter of time before they find out about our affair.  They are always looking for a chance to get one over on you.  I want you to be careful; I still care for you. Don’t forget that’.  I think I still love you but I know I can’t leave my wife 

George looked directly into Harry’s eyes and said, ‘I think you better go Harry. I’ve got lots to do; I’m sure you have to. Tell Rachel I’m asking after her. And the kids. And don’t forget, you can’t have your cake and eat it, just remember that’. I am not going to be used by you again;  it’s happened far too many times before.  

Harry slowly gathered his papers from the desk, turned around and walked past the Prime Minister and out of the Cabinet Room without saying another word.  

SCHEMING BITCH 

______________________ 

AMARA SAT AT HER DESK in her room in the Foreign Office, contemplating what to do next. She was desperate to become the next Prime Minister of Great Britain and it would be a real coup for her because she would be the first Asian Female Prime Minister. She wondered whether this was an ideal opportunity to get rid of George Morgan once and for all. She began to bite her nails,  twiddle her thumbs, and rack her brains to come up with an idea that would oust George from power. She knew of the affair between Harry and George, but Harry was a good friend of hers and she needed his support if she was to mount a leadership campaign. But there were rumours that George was interested in Masimba for more reasons than he was letting on. Some Cabinet ministers had already whispered tales of unrequited love between Masimba and George, and Amara had listened to them intently, picking up as much information as possible. Knowledge is power. 

She would pick her time to strike wisely.  It had to be effective. It had to be a hammer blow, and ideally, it had to lead to George’s resignation. Her face lit up at the thought of it. Stupid bastard;  he had it coming to him. He had overlooked her too many times;  she should be his natural successor rather than Harry.  

She had suffered discrimination all of her life. She was Asian and a woman. She had fought her way out of the back streets of Birmingham, had refused to follow her mother in to the factory clothing industry as a machinist, and had went to University to study politics and philosophy. Along the way, she had faced snobbery, racism, sexism and bigotry. She knew what it felt like to be knocked down again and again. From her early beginnings in politics, she developed a thick skin, and began to realise that she could overcome any obstacles in her way. Her life had changed when she won her first election, becoming the member of parliament for Meriden, a West Midlands constituency that was traditionally blue. Now that she had reached the heady heights of Foreign Secretary, she didn’t want to let this chance to become Prime Minister slip between her fingers.  

Amara pondered over what to do next. She knew that she had to do all she could to bring Masimba Dewele, the leader of the Revolution Party in Zimbabwe, over to Britain. She also realised that Harry and George’s relationship was on the rocks, or had indeed hit the rocks. This could only work in her favour, because it meant Harry and George would no longer help each other politically, and indeed might end up political rivals. Amara smiled slyly, thinking of all the things that could go wrong for them, and all the opportunities that lay ahead for her.  

She opened her iPad and wrote an email to her private secretary, asking her to get in touch with the Ethiopian Ambassador and arrange a telephone appointment with him.  

She looked up from her iPad and stared at the painting on the wall in front of her. She realised that she would have to keep all of this information secret from almost everyone in the Foreign Office. The situation was very sensitive and she wanted to make sure that she was in control of events. She didn’t want to react to events, if at all possible. Amara smiled slyly, like a cat that had just caught its prey. 

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