When former chart-topper Tiffany Knightly learns that she’s dying from cancer, she leaves behind her plush California lifestyle to return to Hempstead, New York, with Karlie, her reluctant teenaged daughter. Her fans think she has simply gone home to die, but Tiffany has another mission. She desperately wishes she could leave her past in the past, but in order to secure her daughter’s future, she must tear open past wounds.
Life wasn’t always easy for Tiffany. With a stepfather who abused her and a mother who didn’t believe her, she acted out by becoming promiscuous. Fifteen years later, she’s back to reveal to her ex-husband that he might not be Karlie’s biological father. In fact, there are four men who could have fathered Karlie—four that she’s willing to acknowledge, anyway.
As Tiffany reveals her truth and searches for Karlie’s father, she reconnects with old friends and old lovers. Some reunions are happy, but some innocent lives are torn apart, leaving Tiffany to wonder if she’s doing the right thing. Through it all, she will have to learn to rely on the healing power of God’s unfathomable love.
Excerpt from Sing a New Song Michelle Lindo-Rice
“I’m sorry, Tiffany. We’ve done all that we can do.” Dr. Ettelman spoke those words with great dread.
Tiffany Knightly leaned back in the plush black chair across from Dr. Ettelman’s wide mahogany desk. The sun beamed on her honey-blond curls and heightened her hazel-colored eyes. From her vantage point of three floors up, she could look out the window behind him and make out the business-clad people scurrying like ants to keep appointments. Tiffany blinked in slow motion. How could the world go on when she had just received the most devastating news of her life? Dr. Ettelman must have moved from behind his chair, though Tiffany did not recall seeing him move. But the next thing she felt were his hands gently squeezing her shoulders. Instinctively she shrank away from him. He was the monster at that moment.
“Whoosh.” Tiffany finally exhaled the breath she had been holding. Vehemently, she shook her head. “No, Dr. Ettelman, I must not have heard you correctly,” she croaked in a voice she hardly even recognized. She panted hard, feeling as if she was about to pass out from the magnitude of emotions hitting her all at once. Dr. Ettelman’s face reflected empathy. He was still talking about something. What was he even saying?
“We’ve done all that we could do, Ms. Knightly. Is there someone that you can call?” She heard the hopeful inquiry but robotically shook her head. She needed some alone time to process the news she’d just received, and did not feel like calling anyone. Tiffany opened her mouth, but it just hung open. Words were stuck in her throat. Vestiges of all coherent thought left her body. It was as if her mind had disintegrated, leaving her powerless to stop the feeling of losing sanity. She screamed on the inside to regain some semblance of control. Tiffany could barely process the doctor’s words, but he had said it. He had said that she was dying.
No. He must be mistaken—he was talking about someone else.
Tiffany frantically looked around the room, scarcely seeing the pictures on the wall. Her eyes rested on his medical degree prominently displaying his specialty. Her eyes zoomed in on the calendar behind her. Today was March 17 . . . March 17 . . . March 17. . . . March 17 was the day she received her death sentence. Almost subconsciously, Tiffany picked up a picture frame on his desk. There was a girl smiling back at her. In slow motion, she replaced the silver-encrusted frame before finally looking into Dr. Ettelman’s sympathetic face. Her tall, lithe frame drooped, and she sank even lower in her chair.
She could not be . . . No, she could not be dying. Tiffany absolutely refused to accept that, emphatically shaking her head in abject denial. Death was too . . . final. She looked to Dr. Ettelman to provide some measure of comfort. In her heyday, she had been a national icon, but at this moment, Tiffany Knightly was just a patient, like any other who was the recipient of terrible news. She keenly listened as he spoke.
“In my twenty-odd years of practice, it has never gotten any easier to tell any of my patients such devastating news, but I cannot give false hope. I have to tell the truth.”
Dr. Ettelman remained calm, professional and he quickly assured her. “I have tested and retested the specimen carefully, Ms. Knightly. I would not give you this kind of news if I were not absolutely certain. However, you can get a second opinion—if you would like. I know someone I can recommend.”
As if they were a lifeline, Tiffany zeroed in on his comments. Slowly, the reality of his words registered. Rationale was returning. She was dying. She had lung cancer, and the worst part was Tiffany did not even know how she had developed the disease. It wasn’t like she was a smoker. The symptoms had been inconsequential at first. Tiffany had been on tour and had started coughing a little. The coughing made her voice hoarse, but she was not overly concerned. Then, before she knew it, her little cough had escalated into bronchitis and eventually pneumonia. Just when she thought that she was well, the coughing returned suddenly and with a vengeance. That was when Dr. Ettelman had checked for the possibility of lung cancer. He had found the lump on her lungs, had biopsied it, and had begun chemotherapy almost immediately. Tiffany had not been a viable candidate for surgery because of where the tumor was growing. Even removing the small specimen for testing had been a serious undertaking. Evidently, all the treatments had been to no avail. Tiffany grappled with that thought. The chemotherapy had not proven an effective remedy. All the radiation, losing most of her hair, and feeling ghastly sick had all been in vain. The cancer had returned and had spread rapidly through her body. She did not know how long she had before the pain and agony would set in or before she looked sick and frail. Dr. Ettelman prescribed some strong painkillers for her, but they made her feel nauseous or they put her to sleep, and radiation was not an option. She needed to have all her strength because her life was going to get increasingly difficult, and she had to be able to withstand it to the very end. Time was all she had left.
Tiffany placed her hands in her hair, feeling the extensions she had put in to blend with her own natural curls—her immediate cure for hair loss. It was time to take them out, she mused. Swallowing deeply, Tiffany gathered her courage and asked the question uppermost on her mind. “How long do I have?” Her heart hammered so loudly in her chest that she could hear the beats resound like a drum. It felt like her heart was literally about to explode and splatter across the room. Unabashed, Tiffany allowed the tears welling in her eyes to fall. She felt a moment of helplessness and utter defeat.
With gritted teeth, Dr. Ettelman handed Tiffany a box of tissues which she gratefully accepted.
“I do not know for sure. It could be months. The human body has been known to show resilience that remains a miracle and a mystery. But from my experience, I would say about no more than a year. Do you need to talk to someone?” Dr. Ettelman offered. “No,” Tiffany assured him. “I will be all right.”
Dr. Ettelman refrained from responding, but they both knew she uttered a lie. She was not going to be all right. She was going to be six feet under. Under the ground, not breathing, not seeing the sunshine. What was death like? How could anybody know? Dazed, Tiffany stood to her feet, found her balance, and walked out of the doctor’s office. When she got to the elevator, she vaguely heard someone calling her name. Tiffany stopped and turned around with stiff, controlled movements. It was Dr. Ettelman’s nurse, and it took everything in Tiffany’s willpower to listen to what the nurse was telling her.
“Your purse,” the nurse huffed, slightly out of breath. She extended the purse toward Tiffany. “You left it in Dr. Ettelman’s office.”
“Thank you,” Tiffany politely responded and took the bag out of the waiting hands. She entered the elevator and gave a slight wave, but she did not want to be so civilized. She wanted to scream or yell like a banshee. Yet here she was, exchanging mere pleasantries about a bag that she could replace with hundreds more. Tiffany let out a huge breath of air and knew she had to get out of the doctor’s office. She needed some alone time to vent. Just let everything out.
Her driver, Marlon, opened the town car door when he saw her exit the building, but Tiffany shook her head. She needed to walk and clear her head. As Tiffany walked, she reflected on her life. She had unfinished business to take care of before she . . .Tiffany gulped, unable to complete that thought. She needed to make sure Karlie would be all right once she was . . . gone. Karlie. How was Tiffany going to tell her daughter she was dying? Buzz . . . buzz . . .Tiffany felt the vibration against her hip, and her brain slowly registered that it was a call from her cell phone. One she needed to answer. Tiffany dug into her purse and grabbed the device, cringing when she saw who was calling. “Hi, Winona.”
Winona Franks was a woman of few words. Highly efficient to a fault, she had been Tiffany’s manager from the days of her “one-hit wonders” from her six albums. Tiffany met Winona by accident when she was preparing to do a spread with Cosmopolitan. With her long blond tresses, svelte shape, and sparkly blue eyes, Winona, then Winona Young, had been on her way to becoming a highly sought-after fashion model. When the two met, they became fast friends. The only problem was that Winona hated modeling. She wanted to use her brains and not her body to get ahead. Using her earnings, Winona dropped from the modeling scene and went to the NYU Stern School of Business. Tiffany later became her top client. With her business acumen and expertise, Winona had amassed such a huge fortune for Tiffany that she could live quite comfortably for two, even three lifetimes. Throughout Tiffany’s cancer nightmare, Winona had been a rock and a fortress to her. There was only one other person who Tiffany could rely on—a special friend—who not even Winona knew about, but she was not ready to call just yet.
“The news isn’t . . . ,” Tiffany trailed off.
“Tiffany? Are you saying what I think you’re saying? Tiffany, please answer me.” Winona’s worry screamed through the phone. Winona knew about Tiffany’s appointment with Dr. Ettelman and had waited anxious for Tiffany to tell her she now had a clean bill of health. Tiffany exhaled, hearing Winona breathing deeply on the other line. “I just needed a minute.” Actually, she needed a lifetime to come to grips with her imminent death. Tiffany shuddered but continued. “I—I—I have a year, Winona. One measly year to . . . How am I going to tell Karlie?”
“Get in the car and go home, Tiffany. I am coming,” Winona directed.
Tiffany belatedly realized that Marlon was creeping alongside her. She could see the worry etched across his face as his head turned back and forth from the road to where she was now standing.
Tiffany swung her bag back and forth in her arms like a pendulum while she debated. She felt like just running off into the sunset and disappearing for parts unknown.
“Tiffany,” Winona called out, her urgency evident through the line. “Please I am thousands of miles away. Please just get—”
“I’m going.” Tiffany dragged her feet toward her car. Marlon put on the hazard lights and quickly got out and opened the rear door for her. Like a dutiful child, Tiffany entered the car. She told Winona, “Don’t come. I’ll be in touch,” then ended the call. As they drove toward her huge L.A. mansion, Tiffany took in the sights before her. Was it just her imagination or did the world suddenly seem brighter? The water from the beach sparkled and shone brightly. The leaves on the trees appeared greener. The sun beamed with unequaled brilliance.
“I can’t look anymore,” Tiffany whispered before closing her eyes and leaning back into the comfortable leather seats.
“Did you say something, miss?” Marlon asked.
“No,” Tiffany replied and turned her head away from his piercing eyes. Tears rolled down her face. Silently they fell. Tiffany placed her fist in her mouth to keep from crying aloud. There was so much she had to do, and how much time she had to do it, only God knew.
( Continues… )
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Genre: Christian Fiction ; Christian women 18+
About Michelle Lindo-Rice
Michelle Lindo-Rice graduated from Argosy University with an Education Specialist degree in Education Leadership. A pastor’s kid, Michelle continues to uphold the faith, preaching, teaching and ministering through praise and worship. From a young teen, Michelle discovered a passion for reading and writing and feels blessed to have the opportunity to use this talent to bring God glory. Sing a New Song is her first published Christian Fiction novel. Visit her website: http://www.michellelindorice.com