Conquering Adversity (County Sheriffs #1)(4)

By: Becca Van

She opened her eyes and glanced back over toward the reception desk to find the two sheriffs looking at her. When they began walking in her direction, a shiver of apprehension raced up her spine and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Misha even felt the blood drain from her face and a loud roaring sounded in her ears.

“Ma’am, are you Misha Collette?”

Misha swallowed around the lump constricting her throat and nodded slowly. She could tell by the concern in the sheriff’s eyes and the tension in his jaw that he was about to impart bad news. She swayed on her feet, thankful for the wall at her back because she may have ended up falling to her ass.

“Can we have a word in private?”

Again, she nodded, knowing that if she tried to speak she might end up screaming. The knot of dread in her stomach got bigger and bigger and her mind raced, but she tried to push the terrible thoughts trying to invade her brain aside.

The dark haired sheriff took hold of her elbow and guided her back down the hall. He glanced about and drew her into an empty staff room right across from the women’s downstairs facilities.

“Please take a seat.” He pulled a chair out for her and after she sat took the one next to her. She glanced over at the other officer and tried to read his face, but he must have had a lot of practice keeping his expression stoic. She couldn’t get a read on him at all.

“I’m Sheriff Clay Wilton and this is Sheriff Spence Nelson.”

Before her parents had died in a house fire, she’d been brought up to be polite and though she found it difficult to speak, she did. “Pleased to meet you both.”

“The receptionist said you work here,” Sheriff Nelson stated.

Misha nodded her head and placed her hand over her racing heart.

“You had a friend come visit?” Sheriff Wilton asked.

“She was supposed to meet me for breakfast. When she was late I searched the whole resort and even knocked on her door. I was just about to ask the receptionist for a spare key to her room, but…”

“What’s your friend’s name?” Sheriff Nelson asked.

“Janice Judson.”

“Can you describe her for me?” Sheriff Wilton asked.

Misha cleared her throat and hoped her voice wouldn’t crack as she described Janice.

“When was the last time you saw Janice?” Nelson questioned.

“Last night, just before midnight. She’s been here all week and is supposed to head back home to New York tomorrow. We had dinner together in the restaurant and sat in the lounge area talking.”

“Have you seen anyone watching you or Janice?” Sheriff Wilton shifted in his seat.

“No. What’s this about? What’s going on? Do you know where Janice is?” With each question she asked, her voice became more strident, more panicked.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you, but your friend is dead.”

Misha had no idea how or when she moved but she found herself on her feet with the chair she’d been sitting on off to the side. She shook her head and began to back away from the two officers. She didn’t stop backing away until she bumped into the wall and couldn’t go any further. Her knees buckled and she slid down the wall until she landed on her ass on the cold hard floor.

The shivers coursing through her body intensified until she was trembling so hard her teeth were chattering. Tears welled and trickled down her face. The loud roaring returned until she couldn’t hear a thing and she doubled over, wrapping her arms around her waist as the shock wore off and grief took hold.

The pain in her chest was so bad she could barely breathe. She ground her forehead on her upraised knees and dug her fingernails into her jeans-covered legs.

Misha cried so hard she felt ill and though she tried to stop the pain wouldn’t cease. She didn’t remember toppling to the side until her cheek rested on the floor and the tears continued until there was a small puddle beneath her cheek.

Strong warm hands gripped her shoulders and though she tried to see who lifted her from the floor, she couldn’t. Her vision was blurry and darkness encroached. She finally managed to draw in a breath and the darkness receded. Warmth surrounded her, taking away a bit of the chill, and her chattering teeth slowed until only the occasional clack assailed her ears.