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Authors: Elizabeth Ridley

Searching for Celia

BOOK: Searching for Celia
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Table of Contents

Dayle Salvesen, a bestselling spy novelist from Wisconsin, arrives in London for a writers’ conference only to be told that her best friend and former lover, Celia Frost, has died under mysterious circumstances. Or has she? There’s no sign of Celia’s body, and Celia’s flat contains items suggesting she planned to travel. Dayle joins forces with Celia’s ex-girlfriend, Nigerian-British university lecturer Edwina Adebayo, to investigate. Hampering their efforts is Detective Constable Andrea Callaway, who claims that Celia, who ran a refugee center, profited financially from her work rescuing trafficked sex slaves.

The deeper Dayle and Edwina dig, the more Dayle questions not only how well she knew Celia, but also how well she knows herself.

Searching for Celia

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Searching for Celia

© 2015 By Elizabeth Ridley. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN 13: 978-1-62639-174-1

This Electronic Book is published by

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 249

Valley Falls, New York 12185

First Edition: June 2015

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.


Editor: Ruth Sternglantz

Production Design: Susan Ramundo

Cover Design By Gabrielle Pendergrast

By the Author

The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke

Searching for Celia


Thanks to everyone who helped make this book possible, especially Adam Pernak for a “spin around the wheel,” Trish Hindley, everyone at Bold Strokes Books for being so great at what they do, and special thanks to Claudius and Calpurnia, just for being such consistently fantastic cats.


For Yaya, so she’ll stop bugging me to write a mystery…

The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.


Chapter One

Wednesday, March 23

6:42 a.m.

The talkative Belgian at my elbow concerns me more than the potential terrorist across the aisle in seat 46D. Sure, 46D could kill all of us onboard this loaded 747 at any moment, but the Belgian’s incessant speculation about our deaths has me truly frightened. “Ze air would rush from ze cabin, of course, in ze first few moments…”

Ignoring the Belgian, I pray.
And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi…

46D is ringed with sweat. His heavy-lidded eyes dart to the overhead luggage rack; muscles spasm in his neck.

And the woman conceived, and bare a son…

A press of air and a deep creaking as the Belgian shifts in his seat. “Can’t you hear his briefcase ticking?” The Belgian’s breath is sour with Chardonnay and soft cheeses. “Tick-tock. Tick-tock.”

And when she saw him that he was a goodly child…

6:42 a.m. Seven hours and fifteen minutes into a seven-hour-forty-minute flight from Chicago to London. Why would 46D wait so long to detonate? The Belgian reads my mind. “He’ll wait until we’re over London,” he intones. “Ze more casualties, ze better.”

She took for him an ark of bulrushes…

I peer out the window. The thinning clouds reveal a patchwork quilt of rich English soil, squares of deep emerald green rising and falling like steady sighs toward the horizon. I long to touch that damp familiar land and inhale the cool fetid loam. But if I die, we’ll be together. No. Don’t think that. When you reach London, you’ll see Cecelia Frost. Just pray:
She took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch…

“Oh my God! Look!” The female voice is garrulously American. 46D stands, clutching his briefcase and caressing the handle.

“It’s Candee Cronin!”

Not again.

“Hey, Candee!” The woman barrels toward me, waving a tattered paperback whose cover proclaims:
Assignment: Prague—A Redleigh Smith Mystery

The woman stops in the aisle beside me, beaming.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not Candee Cronin,” I explain.

The woman—a tall Texan with shellacked hair and oversized silver jewelry—turns the book, revealing a photograph of a thirtysomething woman with bobbed black hair, pale skin, and round blue eyes.

“But Miss Cronin,” she protests, indicating the photo, “here y’all are! I’m only like your biggest fan!”

46D, still clutching his briefcase, squeezes past the Texan and stumbles into the aisle.

The woman holds out her heavily jeweled hand. “Audrey Fiscus,” she drawls. “It’s such an honor.
Assignment: Bangkok
is my all-time favorite. When Redleigh rescues those Green Berets…!”

I shake Audrey’s hand as 46D straightens himself and moves toward the restroom. I scan his shoes for exposed wires or a lightable device. “Nice to meet you,” I tell Audrey. “But my name is Dayle Salvesen.”

Audrey drops my hand and gazes at the paperback, puzzled. “For real? This picture sure looks like you.”

I force a smile. “My name is Dayle.”

“Sorry.” Audrey blushes amiably, but then her eyes narrow. “Unless Dayle is just your alias. Your nom de plume.” She shoves the book at the Belgian. “Don’t y’all think this is her?”

The Belgian sizes up the photo, then shakes his head. “
Ze bone structure is not ze same.”

46D disappears through the lavatory’s folding door. I brace for the explosion, followed by nothing but blue sky for 15,000 feet.

Audrey frowns at the jacket photo. “But check out the eyebrow. There’s a little scar right below, and this gal here”—she peers over the Belgian and straight into my face—“has the same little scar.”

I pull my battered passport from my backpack and hand it to Audrey. She flips it open and reads: “Surname: Salvesen. Given names: Dayle Anne.” Her face falls. “Oh,” she says. “Sorry.”

“No problem.” I take back the passport. “I’m flattered, in fact.”

“They’re turning her books into a TV series.” Audrey brightens. “Starring Hilary Duff.”

“So I’ve heard.”

A bell chimes, the seat belt sign blinks on, and a clipped female voice, quintessentially British, comes over the loudspeaker:
Ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to begin our initial descent into London Heathrow. Please return to your seats, fasten your seat belts, stow and lock your tray tables, and return your seats to an upright position.

Audrey squints at me, then rocks back on her heels. “You know, you don’t really look much like her at all. Frenchie here is right.”

“Oh, well.” I return the passport to my backpack. “We can’t all be famous authors.”

BOOK: Searching for Celia
13.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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