By Sharyn Howard of the Sharyn Howard Mysteries
From Joyce and Jim Lavene
How do you handle the unexpected things that happen in your life? When a tragedy happens, what can you do to make it right?
My father was the sheriff of Diamond Springs, North Carolina, a small, rural community outside Charlotte, for more than 20 years. He taught me right from wrong. I learned by his example every day.
I never thought about following in his footsteps. I wanted to be a lawyer. That was my future - until that terrible Sunday morning.
A man my father had arrested for a crime got out of jail. He bought a gun and shot my father while he was buying milk at the local convenience store. It was only a few blocks from home. My mother and I, along with our community, mourned him.
Maybe the worst part was that the police knew who'd killed him from the surveillance tapes. They just couldn't find him. Diamond Springs is a mountainous area with plenty of areas to hide. We all knew the killer was somewhere out there, probably close to town. We had to wait for him to strike again. Who knew when it would happen?
Some members of the local political party, the ones that would decide who would take my father's place as sheriff, came to talk to me about being that person. It would only be temporary, until they could arrange a special election. They just needed someone from their party to hold the spot.
I couldn't imagine being that person - sitting in my father's chair every day, seeing his picture on the wall of the sheriff's office. Then I thought about his friends, his deputies, who always came to my birthday parties when I was growing up and had shared my life in so many ways. Especially Ernie, Dad's Chief Deputy. He'd been there forever. I knew I could count on his help.
I knew this would be what my father would have wanted me to do.
And I figured I could catch his killer, and the people who put him up to it, better than anyone else alive.
What did I do with the tragedy that came into my life? I fought back!
Look for LAST DANCE, the first book in the Sharyn Howard Mysteries from Avalon Books in hardback and now in paperback from Harlequin.
Facebook: Joyce and Jim Lavene