The Ghost and Ms Cox

Life interrupted

To say the letter was a surprise was an understatement. It arrived addressed to Miss Finlay Cox, which made the contents even more extraordinary.

Orphan Finn Cox inherits a cottage. Thinks it holds the key to her origins. Of course she takes a look. Who wouldn’t?

But when she gets there, she gets more than she bargained for.

Is it friend, family or foe?

Available in

  • Hardback (ISBN: 978-1-922744-40-1) MSRP US$24.99
  • Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-922744-41-8) MSRP US$13.99
  • eBook (ISBN: 978-1-922744-42-5) MSRP US$5.99
  • AI Generated Audio (ISBN: 978-1-922744-50-0) US$6.99


Chapter One

To say the letter was a surprise was an understatement.

It arrived addressed to Miss Finlay Cox, which made the contents even more extraordinary.

Finn took it into her barely furnished share house bedroom to open in private.

Before taking off her shoes and changing her clothes.

The letter, from a Melissa Petersen on behalf of Petersen Partners, explained they acted on behalf of the Estate of the Late James Arthur Webb, who died on 25th October 2015.

Finn sat abruptly on the bed, salvaged from a kerbside collection, trying to recollect whether she knew anyone called James Webb.

Certainly no one in her current circle, though someone forgotten from her childhood was always possible.

The letter included a Will, dated 17 July 2009.

The Will stated her name in full as Finlay Margaret Cox, and did not contain any rubbish about dependants or descendants, giving her the impression she was the sole beneficiary…

SUBJECT to the payment of my just debts funeral and testamentary expenses I DEVISE and BEQUEATH the residue of my real and personal estate of whatsoever kind and wheresoever situate upon trust to sell, call in, collect and convert into money such parts thereof as shall not consist of money and to distribute the net proceeds of such calling in and conversion (after payment of my just debts funeral and testamentary expenses) to my Trustee UPON TRUST to my sole heir Finlay Margaret Cox.

The letter instructed her to send her bank account details and verification of her identity.

As far as Finn knew, she’d no family; her mother got pregnant in high school, and her family threw her out.

The sperm donor abandoned them, too.

Her mother’d worked three jobs to keep them housed and fed, and when she died, ridiculously young, Finn went into the foster system.

Shot right out again on her eighteenth birthday when the benefits stopped.

Logically, given she was eight years old at the time, the Victorian Child Protection Service must have approached someone(s) to take custody of her.

Not her father. Her birth certificate listed him as unknown, but her mother’s relatives.

It seemed futile to claim her now they were dead too.

So, after the initial shock, when rationality returned, she concluded email spammers had run out of “short cons,” and were running “long con” snailmail scams.

She tucked the letter back into the envelope, threw it on her wonky third-hand flat pack chest of drawers, where subsequent junk soon buried it. Lying forgotten until the next letter arrived about a month later.

It suggested she may not have received the first letter and enclosed a second copy of the will.

Finn thought perhaps this time she ought to do some research, not just dismiss it out of hand.

The Australian Security and Investments Commission listed Petersen Partners as a registered company under the name of Melissa Jane Petersen.

Which seemed legit and warranted further information.

An internet search revealed a website; the phone number on the site was the same as the phone book and the letter. The listed addresses were the same as the ASIC site.

Their registration with the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner was probably more important.

The domiciled town was a couple of hours’ drive from Melbourne, which ruled out calling past.

The next day at work, she shut herself in a small, private conversational room, despite being a temp and not technically permitted, to call the number on the letter.

“Hello, Petersen and Partners, Melissa Petersen speaking,” she sounded as though she’d run for the phone.

“Oh, hi, it’s Finn Cox, calling about the James Webb estate.”

“Ah, Finn… Can you hold for a minute while I find the file?”


The phone went silent.

She was just starting to think the woman’d hung up on her when she was back on the line.

“Ah yes, we just need the usual one hundred points of identification, so passport or birth certificate and driver’s license is fine. If you could fax or email them?”

“Ah sure. But, are you sure you’ve the right Finn Cox? I mean, I don’t know anyone who’d leave me anything in a Will.”

“Quite sure. James is… was your Great Uncle. It took us quite a while to find you.”

“I see. At least I think I see.”

“Yes, it was difficult. We had to hire a private investigator. You’ll send your identification?”

“Um, sure. But can you tell me more about the…” she checked non-specific wording of the Will, “real and personal estate we’re talking about?”

“Obviously I can’t say much without verifying your identity, but there’s a small cottage, some jewellery and some cash.”

Finn gasped, “a house?”

“Yes, once we’ve confirmed your identification, you can have the address.”

“And you’re sure it’s me.”

“I’m quite sure, but I need the identification to show due diligence.”

More or less confident it wasn’t a con, Finn agreed to send her identification.


Science Fiction & FantasyShort Novels