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The Singer’s Dilemma Chapter One

I’m so excited for you to read Derek and Nadia’s story. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Nadia Barrett stood outside Granddad Edward’s room. She didn’t need glasses to see that her grandfather was dying. He’d been fading for days and he knew it. It was why he had called the family together. Edward Barrett had been the patriarch of the family since his wife Etta died ten years earlier. He was the voice of wisdom, sharing truths his family needed to hear. He was the encourager, bolstering everyone to follow their dreams. Even when they had dreams to soar into the sky.

He lay on his sickbed now surrounded by his children and grandchildren. She knew everyone would get a word of encouragement, a last piece of advice. One that suited their personality and whatever struggle they were undergoing. It was his way. But she couldn’t go in. She stood at the door, hand resting on her throat, willing herself not to cry. Maisie Barrett slid her arm around Nadia’s waist. She leaned against her mom’s shoulder.

“You’re going to have to go in soon, you know?”

She nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat. “I know.”

She had spent so many hours in this room. With this man. Told him her dreams and tidbits from her day. She’d listened as he shared old family stories and made up some new ones. When her grandfather had gotten ill, she returned home to be with him. None of her family members had understood how she could have walked from a full scholarship. They thought she should have pursued her Master’s Degree in Music. That it had been a waste for her to come home. That she shouldn’t have given it up. Not after she’d been singing her heart out for years. Not after all the sacrifices and struggles.

They didn’t understand that Nadia wouldn’t have had the courage to pursue her dream if it hadn’t been for Granddad. How could she turn her back on him when he needed her? She couldn’t have known that he would have lingered on for three years. Long enough for all the who’s who in the industry to forget her. For all the scholarship offers to dry up. For new, fresh talent to take her place.

Still, she didn’t know that she’d have made a different choice if she’d known then what she knew now. Her father shuffled toward her. The senior Michael Barrett’s broad shoulders had rounded. He’d aged at least five years since he’d been in this room.

“Come,” He extended a hand toward Nadia. “He’s asking for you.”

She put her hand in her father’s and allowed him to draw her toward the bed. Her grandfather’s presence should have shrunk with his wizened body. Instead, his essence remained strong. Powerful. Compelling. She sunk into the chair beside Granddad’s bed and took his hand in hers. It had been their daily routine.

“It’s time for me to go, little girl.”

She nodded, ignoring the tears that spilled down her cheeks.

“You put your dreams on hold to be here with me. Now it’s time for you to fly, little songbird. I’m proud of you. Never forget that. Have been proud of you since the day they brought you home and placed you in my arms. Use your gift, child. Fan it into a flame and don’t let it die.”

Nadia swiped her tears with the back of her hand and then rested her cheek against his.

“Okay, Granddad.” She made the promise not knowing if she’d have the heart to keep it after he was gone.

“Sing for me.”

Her lips curved. It was always this way between them. As the only girl in a family of boys, her brothers had protected and shielded her. She was the fairy princess to their knights. But Granddad had always taught her to fight. She would miss him. Nadia opened her mouth and allowed the words of his favorite song to fill the room.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul!”

Her family added their voices to hers on the chorus. Harmonizing. Taking the low notes so her notes could rise above theirs.

“It is well with my soul!

It is well, it is well with my soul!”

“He’s gone, Nadia.” Her father rested his hands on her shoulders. Nadia sang all the verses through to the end. It seemed a fitting serenade. Her grandfather had spent his life walking with God and encouraging others to do the same. It is well with his soul.

* * *

Nadia swept the pile of hair trimmings in one direction and then the next. She was supposed to be helping her mom but she didn’t have the energy. She allowed the broom to fall with a clatter and flopped onto one of the bright pink chairs set up for waiting customers. Usually, she loved going to work with her mom. Stepping into Maisie’s Bombshells was like walking through a door into the fifties. Her mom had designed the shop’s interior to resemble a vintage hair salon. Complete with framed photographs of iconic females from the fifties. Marilyn Monroe, Shirley MacLaine, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly, to name a few. But not even the bright colors and smells of her mom’s salon were enough to cheer her up. Maisie sat in the chair beside her. The salon was temporarily empty and her mom was taking a much-needed break.

“It’s been six months, sweetie, and all you’ve done is loll around. When are you going to do something else?”

Nadia lifted her shoulder in a listless shrug. What was she supposed to be doing? She understood that God’s timing was perfect and everyone had an allotted time on earth. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt when a loved one died. And Granddad had been one of her favorite people on earth. She sniffed.

“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do, Mom.”

Maisie took Nadia’s face and turned it to hers. “Your granddad would have wanted you to sing.”

Nadia swallowed hard. She knew. It had been their shared dream. She was going to be a famous gospel singer, he was going to buy all her albums and come to all her concerts. But if he wasn’t going to be cheering her on from the crowds…what was the point?

“I don’t know what to do next.”

And she’d thought about it. She could try to get another scholarship to complete her master’s but she didn’t want to. She pictured rounds of auditions with high school and college students. The thought was more exhausting than exhilarating.

“Look.” Maisie shifted the polka dot apron that she wore over her powder blue poodle skirt and pulled out a flyer. She unfolded the paper and smoothed it before handing it to Nadia. The words ‘Singing Competition’ in big, block letters jumped out at her. Nadia scanned the page. First prize was a recording contract with Allied Records.

She handed the flyer back to her mother.

“It’s no use. This is going to set me on the wrong path.” She may not know what she wanted to do next, but she knew she had to use her talent for God. It was why He had given her the gift. For her to use it to bring glory to His name.

“No, look.” Her mother pointed to the bottom of the page. “One of their sponsors is The Blessed Mosaic Church. The flyer said I should go to their website to learn more so I did. This is a gospel competition. The Mosaic wants to produce a gospel album and is looking for new talent.”

Nadia blinked at her mom. “Okay,” She lifted a hand. “First of all, who are you and what have you done with my mom? You went on a website? Voluntarily?”

Her mom never searched for anything beyond cat videos and hair styling tutorials. She claimed she’d suffered through childbirth four times so she didn’t have to spend hours searching for stuff on the internet. Maisie squirmed.

“Yes, well you were in a funk. Someone needed to do something.”

Nadia squeezed her mom in a hug. She was blessed. She truly was. Few families supported a dream that some would consider impractical. Especially not when everyone else had managed to stay on the straight and logical path.

Maisie cleared her throat. “The competition is in a month. In Idlewood.”

Nadia stared at her mom. Once again, she’d have to travel miles away from her family to pursue her dream. One of the hardest things about school was the distance between Nadia and her loved ones. Maybe that had been one of the reasons she’d been so eager to return home when Granddad had been sick. It had given her an excuse to leave the loneliness behind. She bit the inside of her cheek. Could she do this? Travel halfway across the island for a chance to win a recording contract? The black and gold flyer seemed to call to her and Nadia unfolded the paper again. She traced the letters with her fingers.

God, should I do this?

Nadia made herself remain still. If she was going to hear the Holy Spirit, she needed to quiet her spirit. She imagined herself floating through the clouds toward heaven and God’s throne room. Peace settled on her and she felt something in her spirit she hadn’t felt in months. Excitement.

It’s time, my child.

A smile crept over Nadia’s face. The songbird was going to sing again.

***

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About The Singer’s Dilemma

Nadia Barrett dreams of being a gospel singer. It’s what she’s worked for her whole life. An opportunity to take part in a competition that could lead to a music contract takes her across the country. Because nothing, and no one, is going to stop her from winning that prize.

Derek Johnson was at the height of his career when an encounter with Jesus changed his life. Now he lives in a small town serving as the leader of a worship band. Derek is content with his new life. What he does not expect is a woman who makes him long for white picket fences. 

Can he convince her to give up her big city dream in exchange for life with him? Or does God have something more in mind for these two individuals?

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed chapter one of The Singer’s Dilemma. Come back next week for chapter two. The Singer’s Dilemma is only available for newsletter subscribers, so join the tribe to have it emailed to you each week.

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