Excerpt from The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Lost Ticket

by Freya Sampson

The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson X
The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson
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    Aug 2022, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Ahima
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Chapter 1

April 2022

"This is the 88 to Parliament Hill Fields."

The electronic announcement rang round the bus as Libby heaved her two rucksacks on board. There was a queue of passengers behind her, and she heard an impatient tut as she rummaged in her handbag to find her wallet. Finally she located it and tapped her card to pay, but not before she heard someone mutter, "Bloody tourist." Libby hurriedly scooped up her bags and began to maneuver toward the one free seat on the lower deck, but she'd gone only a few paces when a teenage boy pushed past, almost knocking her into the lap of an elderly woman, and threw himself into the vacant seat.

Libby gave the boy her best death stare, then turned and climbed the narrow stairs toward the front of the upper deck, clinging to the handrail so she didn't fall as the bus swerved out of Vauxhall Station. When she reached the top, she was relieved to see that the nearest seats in the first row were available, and she dumped her bags on the floor and sat down.

The bus edged its way through the London traffic, and Libby looked out of the front window. Everyone seemed in such a hurry: crowds of pedestrians streaming along the pavement, car horns honking like angry geese, a cyclist gesturing and swearing at a taxi driver. As the bus drove onto Vauxhall Bridge, Libby turned right to get a view along the River Thames. She recognized the Tate Britain art gallery, and behind it the London Eye, its glass pods glistening in the late April sunshine. Simon had taken Libby on it once as a birthday treat, three or four years ago. They'd drunk prosecco as the wheel had rotated them high above the city, and afterward they'd bought hot dogs and walked along the South Bank, hand in hand. It had been one of their rare day trips to London, and Libby remembered feeling so lucky to be there with Simon. And yet-

"Oh my goodness, it's you!"

A voice to Libby's left made her jump, and she swung around to see an elderly man sitting across the aisle, wearing a burgundy velvet jacket that had seen better days. His face broke into a grin when he saw her.

"It really is you, isn't it?"

Oh god. She'd been in London only ten minutes and already she'd picked up a weirdo.

"I'm sorry. I think you've mistaken me for someone else," Libby said, and she turned away from him.

"Oh ... oh, I am sorry."

Libby pulled her phone out of her handbag. Usually, if a stranger tried to make unwanted conversation, she'd ring someone for a chat instead. But who on earth could she call now? Certainly not her parents, and all her friends these days were Simon's friends too, the wives and girlfriends of his mates and the last people she wanted to speak to. Libby slid her phone back into her bag.

"I'm sorry I disturbed you," the man continued, his voice shaky. "I get a little confused sometimes."

There was something in his tone that made Libby turn back around. He was staring at his lap, looking so utterly dejected that she had a sudden urge to make him feel better.

"Don't worry. Strangers are always mistaking me for someone else. It's my face, I think. I look very average."

"Average?" His head snapped up. "You don't look average. With that marvelous red hair, you look like Botticelli's Venus."

Libby ran a hand though her long, thick curls. Her hair had been called many things over the years-ginger nut, Weasley, carrot top-but never compared to a Renaissance painting, and she couldn't help but smile.

"Sorry. You must think I'm very strange," the man said. "I don't usually accost young women on the bus and tell them I like their hair, I promise."

"It's fine. I needed a compliment today, so thank you."

"Bad day?"

"You could say that."

"I'm happy to listen if that would help?" He ran a hand over his own hair, which was bright white and stuck out at all sorts of unruly angles from his head. "People often tell me their problems, especially on the night bus. Once they've had a few drinks, complete strangers confess all sorts. You wouldn't believe the things I've heard on here."

Excerpted from The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson. Copyright © 2022 by Freya Sampson. Excerpted by permission of Berkley Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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