Don't Tell a Soul by Tiffany L. Warren
How far will faith take you?
“An excellent read...”—The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on What a Sista Should Do
How far will faith take you?
“An excellent read...”—The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on What a Sista Should Do
Tiffany L. Warren’s debut, What a Sista Should Do, was an acclaimed bestseller that established her as a vibrant talent in inspirational fiction. In her superb new novel, the three faithful friends that readers fell in love with are back, eight years older—but are they any wiser?
In this powerful new novel, the trio of faithful friends from Tiffany L. Warren's inspirational bestseller What a Sista Should Do are older--but are they wiser?...
Once successful, Pam Lyon's husband, Troy, has blown their fortune. Now he's hustling to make a comeback. But his partner, Logan, is more interested in connecting with Pam--and soon he crosses a line that will challenge Pam's marriage. . .
Taylor Oldman's ex, Luke, is finally out of prison and wants a relationship with their eleven-year-old son. But newly remarried Taylor doesn't want Luke in her life. The problem is, the boy is acting out--and Luke is the only one who can reach him. Can Taylor forgive Luke for the sake of their child?...
Recently divorced, Yvonne Hastings is lonely for the first time in years. She finds solace by befriending new church member Eva Logan. Eva is trying to leave behind her scandalous past, but it seems she can't let go of everything. And when her behavior starts to affect Yvonne, she'll have to reflect on what it means to be a good friend in and out of church. . .
As their personal lives test them like never before, can these three women find a way to keep the faith--and their friendship?...
Excerpt from Don’t Tell A Soul
One hundred eighty-seven breaths in ten minutes. Eva couldn’t stop herself from counting them. She’d been taking
note of each inhale and every exhale since the phone call last week from her manager, Leo.
He’d said only one sentence. “You need to get tested, babe.”
Eva had dreaded hearing those words since her very first adult film at the age of seventeen. But when Leo spoke the fear-inspiring words over the phone, Eva hadn’t panicked. Not then. She’d hung up the phone with Leo and called the clinic. The one that all the film stars used. The one that would keep her results private. The one that didn’t require insurance, because porn didn’t pay benefits.
Although Eva hadn’t suddenly come undone in that moment, she’d started to unravel second by second—breath by
breath. She’d started counting when it occurred to her that her days might be numbered. If she was HIV-positive, then was it full-blown AIDS yet? And if it was full-blown AIDS, how many years did she have left? Or was it months?
Sheena, the clinic nurse, had called Eva, telling her to come in and receive her results, because they couldn’t be given over the phone. That was this time yesterday. Now Eva was sitting in the clinic. Waiting . . . and breathing.
Eva breathed sixteen times in a minute when she was relaxed, but thirty when she was near hyperventilation. Would
breathing faster make her time expire quicker? That thought occurred to her as she gripped the sides of the metal card table chair in the clinic’s waiting room. She could feel the moisture of her nervous sweat beneath her thighs and wished that she’d worn a longer skirt. But Eva wore skirts only in the summer months. It was her favorite season, and skirts made her feel incredibly feminine.
Why couldn’t it be winter? Getting this kind of news is a gloomy, gray downtown Cleveland, January kind of thing. Not a mild Midwest summer thing. If Eva turned out to be HIV-positive, summer wouldn’t be the same. She’d have to pick a new favorite season.
Eva stared at the clock in the clinic’s waiting room. It said ten past noon, but it was wrong. It was more like seventeen after according to Eva’s watch. Eva had to fight the urge to take the step stool out of the corner and correct the clock. If she was somewhere else—a friend’s house or her home—she wouldn’t have been able to let the small time discrepancy remain.
Amanda, known in the industry as Princess Mandy, had gone in right before Eva. They’d spoken to one another in the waiting room. It made sense for them both to be there; they’d both filmed an orgy scene four months ago. Eva remembered Amanda asking the film producer if they were using condoms. He’d said no. Amanda had protested, but not loudly enough. Her rent had been due, and she’d needed the money.
Eva hadn’t complained at all about using protection. They were all professionals on set. Everyone took their once-a-week test, so it was all good to her. Plus, her fans online told her that they didn’t like the safe-sex scenes. They wanted edgy.
Did it really take this long to give a negative result? Eva’s nerves sent her into a near frenzy. She scooted to the edge of the chair, gripped it as if it was a roller coaster safety bar. Her breaths were fast and shallow and tears streamed down her face as the feeling of inevitable doom engulfed her.
Eva prayed a sinner’s prayer. God, I know I don’t deserve to ask for anything from you. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to. . . . Well, I’m just gonna ask. God, please don’t let me have HIV. If I get a negative result . . . I—I promise I’m gonna quit doing this and work a real job, no matter how much it pays. And, uh, I’m gonna go to church, too. Please, please, please, please . . .
Then it dawned on Eva that the results were already there, in an envelope or on a chart, just waiting to be read. Her prayer and her promise wouldn’t change the outcome—at least she didn’t think they could—but her grandmother was always shouting and dancing over a miracle. Maybe this would be one.
Amanda walked out of the results room. Her face was tear-streaked and pale. The test results were confidential, but to Eva it was more than obvious that Amanda hadn’t received good news.
“It was Alfonzo. I know he’s the one that gave us the package. We were both with him, and now we’ve got it,” Amanda said.
Eva was unable to respond. The lump in her throat wouldn’t allow her to speak. Amanda was right. They were both with Alfonzo that night. Although the evening was a drug- and alcohol-induced blur, she did remember him, because he was new to the group. It was his first scene.
“W-what are you going to do?”
“You mean other than die? I don’t really know. It’s not like I have a job anymore.” Amanda’s voice was void of emotion. Empty.
“They have drugs now, Mandy. It’s not a death sentence anymore, right?”
Eva’s words were more for herself than Amanda. She had moved past her friend’s pain and had started living inside her own, which seemed inevitable.
“Call me later,” Amanda said. “We can go to Jamaica or something. Meet some hot guys and share the happiness and joy.”
When Eva gasped, Amanda threw up one hand. “I’m joking, Eva. I didn’t mean that.” Then she burst into tears. “I-I’m afraid.”
Eva didn’t know what should come next. Should she hug Amanda? Promise to contact her? She couldn’t do the former and wouldn’t do the latter. Hugging was not an Eva thing, and she never, ever contacted anyone from the industry in her real life.
The awkward moment passed. Amanda composed herself and wiped her tears with the crumpled-up tissue in her hand.
“Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow, and this will have been a nightmare.”
“If it is a bad dream, what would you do? Would you quit the business?”
Amanda lifted an eyebrow and then sighed. “I don’t know. What else am I gonna do?”
Sheena emerged from the results room with a solemn expression on her face. “Eva, I’m ready for you now.”
Eva stood on wobbly legs; Amanda helped her get her balance.
Amanda pulled her close and whispered, “If you’re positive, too...we could be there for each other, you know?”
One side of Eva’s mouth twitched. Amanda’s tone dripped with seductiveness. How could she be thinking of anything sexual at a time like this?
“Call me,” Amanda said, her hot breath feeling damp on Eva’s ear.
Eva cringed. She didn’t mean to do it, but she did.
Amanda chuckled. “You can’t catch HIV from a whisper, silly.”
Eva walked—no, stumbled—toward the nurse, loosening herself from Amanda’s grip.
“Right this way, Eva.”
Eva had been in the results room before. She knew Sheena’s life story—how many kids she had, where she went to nursing school. They’d had too many conversations, but none this serious.
There was the chlamydia outbreak of 1995, when Eva had gotten burned on her very first film. Then they shut an entire set down in Parma because of a hellacious round of staph infections. Once Eva contracted an E. coli infection after putting something—she had no idea what—in her mouth that didn’t belong there.
Through all these Eva had managed to remain relatively unscathed. She hadn’t come across anything that antibiotics
couldn’t cure, not even herpes. She had been luckier than most.
“Don’t beat around the bush, Sheena,” Eva said. “Don’t try to make it pretty. Just tell me.”
The relief that washed over Eva was so utterly complete that her tears flowed like faucets at full blast.
“I’m okay? I’m okay!”
Sheena cleared her throat. “I can’t clear you to work until you have two more negatives, spread over two months.”
“You can’t clear me to work? But I need the money.”
Sheena’s chest heaved up and down in a frustrated exhale. “How many bullets are you gonna dodge?”
Eva closed her eyes and shook her head. Sheena, of all people, knew what Eva was going through. Sheena had gotten into porn as a teenager and had worked until a group scene turned into a brutal rape that left her unable to have any more children. After Sheena’s body had healed, she had gone to college and hadn’t looked back.
“Everybody isn’t like you, Sheena.” Eva stared at the floor, embarrassed about her revelation. She wished she was more like Sheena.
“You know, Eva, you could always work a real job . . . no matter how much it pays.”
Eva’s head snapped up and her eyes widened as the words of her quickly forgotten prayer echoed from the walls. This was uncanny. This was unsettling.
“If you want, I can give you some numbers. I have some friends that will give you a job, no questions asked, if you’re ready to leave the industry.”
“What kind of job?”
“Something that doesn’t degrade you or make you have to come talk to me in another six months, after the next outbreak. You could leave the business while you’re still young enough to do something else.”
Eva shook her head and stood from the table. “I don’t know about the job thing yet, but thank you, Sheena, and thank God I’m not gonna die.”
“Go ahead and thank God, because He was the one that did this for you.”
“Why’d He do it for me, huh? Why not Amanda? I don’t even go to church, and she does. She even goes in the middle of the week. Why would He save me?”
“He must have a purpose for you that you can’t fulfill if you’re sick.”
“That’s a joke. God don’t want nothing from me.”
Sheena smiled. “You can’t know what God wants until you ask Him.”
Then Sheena came from behind her desk and hugged Eva before she could escape the office. Eva endured the unheralded affection but didn’t participate by hugging back.
“Thanks again, Sheena. I gotta go now.”
“Take my card. Call me when you’re ready to change your life.”
Eva took the card from Sheena’s hand and read it. The top said NO LONGER BOUND—BREAKING THE SHACKLES WOMEN’S MINISTRY.
“You’re a minister?”
“No. I just help women who’ve lost their way.”
Eva said her good-byes and saw herself out of the office and into the balmy summer day. She turned the card over in her hand and then slipped it in her purse. She didn’t feel lost, but she had no idea what she should do with herself. After Sheena regurgitated that piece of her prayer, she was scared to ask God anything else. If He answered her directly, she’d probably just pass out in the street.
But now that Eva knew He was listening, she did have a few things and a few people that she wanted to discuss with God.
In her opinion, God had some explaining to do.
© 2013 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Tiffany L. Warren. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this promotional excerpt.
About the Author
Tiffany L. Warren is an author, playwright, songwriter, mother and wife. Her debut novel What a Sista Should Do, was released in June of 2005. In 2006, Tiffany and her husband, Brent, founded Warren Productions and released gospel musicals, What a Sista Should Do and The Replacement Wife. Tiffany is the visionary behind the Faith and Fiction Retreat. Tiffany resides in northern Texas with her husband, Brent, and their five children.
DON’T TELL A SOUL by Tiffany L. Warren