House Broken — a NaNoWriMo Story
At twenty-eight, former orphan Milly Dusan fears she’s already become an emotionally unfulfilled cubicle zombie destined to be buried alive in her small-town job — until news arrives from London her beloved uncle Hugh has died. A former homicide inspector, Hugh had retired after making millions with timely investments and divided his time between his private investigation firm and adventure trips around the world, only to perish in a shark attack. As the sole beneficiary of his vast estate, desperate to feel alive again and to honour Hugh’s wishes she continue the family business, Milly uproots her life without a moment’s hesitation. She returns to Gilgamesh House, the Bloomsbury home where Hugh raised her following her parents’ deaths.
Upon arrival in London, however, Milly’s already-bamboozled senses suffer further insult; taking over her uncle’s firm means more than crossing paths with Godfrey, Hugh’s personal chef and house manager, and Linda-Rosa, his equally efficient secretary. She must almost realign her worldly perceptions upon meeting Hugh’s partner Stephen ‘Cracker’ Jack — the sweetly immature ghost of a late-Victorian homicide inspector who doesn’t hesitate to insert himself into Milly’s renewed existence. Fancying himself her protector, Cracker pops up whenever he thinks Milly needs his ‘help’ be it at the office as she learns the ropes of being a PI, home where Godfrey is comfortably accustomed to Cracker’s antics, even on Milly’s date with Craig Baltz — her first in approximately five years.
With her surprise threshold reaching its limit in her first week back in London Milly is approached by Hugh’s former protégé Inspector Jonathan Graves who needs a consult on an unusual series of home invasions; Milly hesitantly agrees to take on the case in a strained effort to keep up her uncle’s good name. With her PI skills in their infancy and Cracker as a secret weapon, what Milly finds provides as she takes her first tenuous steps into her new role as a police consultant provides the strangest twist yet. The seemingly random break-ins are actually a hunt for war-time treasure (buried deep beneath London’s streets) by members of a nearly-fanatical historical society.
Adding to the stress of not wanting to disappoint her uncle’s faith as expressed in his final wishes, Milly must put up with Cracker overtly expressing the joy he would reap in seeing her and Jonathan become romantically involved. His efforts reach such lengths he ruins Milly’s date with Craig and by way of apology Cracker reveals that Jonathan is in fact his descendant, and views himself as Jonathan’s family guardian and guiding spirit.
The case comes to a head when it is revealed the historical society’s founder, her lover and Craig Baltz are responsible for the break-ins, and Milly joins the cops in the final showdown. The following day is Milly’s twenty-ninth birthday, where she and Jonathan finally share a first kiss and enjoy a night of festivities as Milly celebrates her first closed case as a PI and the possibilities her new life will bring.