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Aunt Toffy and the Ghost

A Mrs. Miggins Mystery, Book 1

The Wild Rose Press

Heat Rating: SWEET
Word Count: 46,195
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Young widow, Adorna Miggins is running a lodging house in 1829 Edinburgh which has just been rocked by the Burke and Hare murders. The income from her business keeps her and Aunt Toffy fed and housed. But lately her aunt has been communicating with a spirit -- a feisty Roman named Meridius with a taste for bannocks and mischief. Adorna is afraid if her aunt's eccentric behavior becomes common knowledge it will destroy her reputation and that of her boarding house.

Tobias Rawlings is newly returned to Scotland on a secret quest he doesn't wish to share. He sparks everyone's curiosity when he goes out each day and returns covered in dirt and will not say what he is up to. Is it larceny? Ditch digging? Grave robbing? He is a mystery that occupies Adorna and Toffy's interest.

Soon Toffy begins to find lost items and solve the unsolvable with the help of her spiritual advisor. Adorna simply cannot believe that ghosts exist and even if they did why would a Roman ghost be residing in her humble lodging house?

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“Aunt Toffy, did you fall into that grave?” Adorna adjusted the hood of her cloak and peered down into the freshly dug hole.

“No, dear, I climbed down into it.” The silver haired woman peered up at her, looking quite satisfied with herself.

“Get out of that grave at once. Have you taken leave of your senses? After the Burke and Hare incident you might exercise a bit of caution. What if someone sees you?”

“Posh! They would think nothing of it. I’m not removing a body from a grave, I am just laying in an empty hole.”

“Would it be amiss to inquire why?” Adorna pulled her cloak hood up higher. The swirling mist was creeping across the ground, roiling over the edge of the grave down toward her aunt. She could feel the chill around her ankles.

“When I am closer to the spirits, it helps me communicate with Meridius Wiggus Gracus. I have tried everything I can think of, but lately our understanding of each other has been thin.”

“Not the Roman again, Aunt Toffy.” Adorna rubbed her gloved hands along her arms, trying to encourage warmth, wishing she could brush off her favorite aunt’s foolish notions about having a spectral friend.

“I know you enjoy spinning wild stories, but you really must stop pretending you can speak with a Roman ghost. It just isn’t seemly.”

“He has been trying to tell me something for a fortnight, and I simply cannot understand him. I have learned much, but that strong accent of his is still difficult to ken.”

Adorna glanced over her shoulder to see if anyone heard, but then she checked herself. The only inhabitants here in Grayfriars were dead as the proverbial door-nail and long since past revealing secrets of any kind.

Still she worried. Her aunt was a well known and much loved eccentric in the mews below the castle, but Adorna knew how cruel and judgmental people could be. It was amusing now, but she feared their opinion might shift. Mad-houses were filled with those that could no longer function within society or those considered to be too mad to allow free run of the city. She would do anything to protect Toffy from that.

And there was the matter of the lodging house. People did not wish to lodge with the mad or the murderous. Burke and Hare had brought far too much dark scrutiny on all boarding houses. Their livelihood depended on the lodging house.

Since the death of her husband, Adorna had become ever more sensitive to public opinion. When Mr. Miggins was alive, he was a buffer between her and the risks women alone faced daily. Her small boarding house afforded her and Aunt Toffy a modest living, but she was dependent upon good custom and a flawless reputation. A single woman was scrutinized by all and sundry. It would not do to let Toffy’s harmless notion become unmanageable. Wagging tongues could ruin them.

“Adorna, dear, I need your assistance.”

She turned to see her aunt’s gloved fingers waggling above the edge of the grave. Obviously a woman her age would need help getting out. If only she had considered that before she got in!