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THE MILFORD ULTIMATUM

The Milford Ultimatum is a fast-paced romantic thriller set in a world where national destinies can be threatened by a few individuals operating below the radar of international secret intelligence.

MI6 had warned British security adviser Leo not to get involved. But Leo had fallen for a young Saudi girl. Now he and Maryam are caught up in a peace movement which will stop at nothing to create a new State of Palestine. This international thriller moves rapidly from the Middle East to America and Britain as the dangers facing the pair reach a tense climax.

Can they escape the CIA, avoid Mossad and outwit Arab extremists?

CHAPTER 1

Who would have thought those dancing eyes could cause so much trouble?
The Major had warned him early on but Leo rarely took advice, especially where women were concerned Now he was beginning to regret his� the word reckless came to mind, but he was more comfortable with the word impulsive�behaviour.

What on earth was he thinking!

Those were the exact words the Major had used when he first found out, when he pricked the rose-tinted bubble of his private life in an unkind manner, and graphically exposed what the Major had called his utter stupidity. That was harsh. Even now, he could smile ruefully at how much he, a security specialist, had acted out of character.

Leo admitted to himself that there had been several times when he saw warning signs, when he felt the nerve ends of risk pulsing through his brain. But when she lay in his arms those premonitions dissolved into a sea of warm embrace where sharp edges of coral fingers brought pleasurable pain.

Leo Frobisher drove his Landcruiser around the back of the malls to the Ritz-Carlton. The marble-floored reception area was gleaming black and white, with extravagant lilies and orchids embellishing the pillars which reached up to galleried balconies serving each floor.

A dozen Saudi families, visiting Bahrain for the weekend, waited at Reception while their wives, fully veiled in black abbayas, pleaded with their children to be quiet. But young shrieks of excitement were the currency of the day as more local families arrived for Friday brunch.

He had never seen the hotel as hectic as this, he thought, as he dodged past Indian porters pushing trolleys of luggage, side-stepped a pushchair being guided with one hand by a plump Indian woman in a bright turquoise and silver sari, and avoided an American girl who had stopped in front of him to answer her mobile. Was she trying to make herself heard in Chicago above the general hub-bob? He winced at the twang! Swerving around a Thai waitress he followed the aroma of ground coffee and sparkling keyboard sounds down to the sunken lounge area where a young Korean was playing a medley of film themes on the Bluthner grand.

Scanning the tables he saw Maryam Al-Kooheji sitting in a large black leather chair by the curved sweep of floor-to ceiling windows overlooking the gardens which surrounded the swimming pool and ran down to the sea. As he approached he glanced at her straight black shoulder length hair which cascaded down over a light blue check open-neck blouse, which she had tucked into pale cream linen trousers. He thought how stunning she looked, even in such casual attire.

�Sorry I�m late,� he said, kissing her lightly on the cheek as he leaned over her.
�Would you like coffee or tea?� she asked, putting down the Bahrain Tribune.
�Coffee please, no sugar,� he replied as the slim Thai waitress approached the table with a smile.

LATER, MUCH LATER�

After being blindfolded, Leo was taken along country lanes for about half an hour, then onto a track which passed through dense woodland. Leo could hear the sound of heavy machinery, as though lorries were smashing into each other; then there was a silence, followed by a straining, shrieking sound, like metal being cut � like the terminator in his death throes. Then the vehicle came into a clearing and they drove across the floor of a disused sandstone quarry which was being used as a vehicle dismantling yard.

The blindfold was removed. Those hideous sounds he had not recognised were iron and steel being torn apart, and then sorted together before being compressed in a crusher to form a cubic metre of metal ready for foreign furnaces. In the far corner he could see the crane man operating the grab which picked up abandoned vehicles and piled then up six high. Another machine broke them apart before the pieces were placed in the crusher.

Leo saw the driver manoeuvre around to stop the car just below the crane with the grab. The driver and two other men got out, locked the doors, and walked towards a wooden shed with one small window which served as an office and tearoom. Above him he could hear the whirr of the crane�s powerful engines as the arm swung around to position itself above the car. Within seconds he could see the huge jaws of the grab being lowered towards him and he started shouting at the men who had kidnapped him. But the rear electric windows were locked, as he turned his face to look up at the crane driver. His mimed plea for mercy was met with a sickly grin. He tried to force the doors and banged the windows, but to no avail. Then a heavy thud threw him against the front seat as the grab glanced across the roof of the car, causing it to lurch forwards.

Leo screamed in terror as the jaws of this steel monster rose and then starting dropping for the final grab. He leapt across to the front seat as the teeth of the grab came through the rear windows each side of the car, glass shattering across his face. Now flat on his stomach, he opened the glove compartment, hoping perhaps to find a spare key to unlock the doors. What he had not expected to find was a revolver. Perhaps he could kill the crane driver and shoot his way out of here, he thought desperately as his trembling fingers opened the clasp to find there was no ammunition.

Then the car was being lifted up through the air, and he felt himself swinging around. He looked out to see he was about thirty feet up, and then without warning he was in freefall as the vehicle landed on a pile of old vehicles. He was about to try to climb through the front window when he saw the grab swing around and aim at the car. Flinging himself on to the floor between the front and back seat, he covered his head as the grab hit the car on its side, sending it into a summersault. Blood was now pouring from a head wound as he felt the grab lift the vehicle once more. It was then that his worst nightmare started. He raised himself up to see the crane manoeuvring towards the crusher. �You can�t do this,� shouted Leo as the battered vehicle was placed on top of the crusher.

The whirr of the crane disappeared into the distance, to be replaced by the menacing roar of the crusher. He felt the sides of the car being squeezed, the roof caving in, and the boot breaking through the rear passenger seats. Leo crouched low, making himself as small as possible as the roof was forced level with the top of the seats. The light started to disappear, the noise grew more deafening, and Leo was gripped with the fear of death as he felt sick and then started to suffocate.

Everything went black. Then silence.