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Linda Rettstatt

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Next Time I'm Gonna Dance
by Linda Rettstatt   

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Books by Linda Rettstatt
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Publisher:  Champagne Books ISBN-10:  1926681283


Copyright:  January, 2010 ISBN-13:  9781926681283

Champagne Books
Linda Rettstatt

Emmie Steele is facing her second battle with breast cancer. She examines her life and realizes one regret: she never learned to dance.

When Emmie Steele is diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer, she thinks about regrets. Emmie struggles with the finality of ending her marriage, but is surprised to realize her one regret is that she never learned to dance. This becomes a metaphor for Emmie as she goes through surgery, treatment, and recovery, accompanied by her four best girlfriends. As she heals from both the divorce and surgery, Emmie embraces a third chance and learns to dance with her feet and with her heart.  Excerpt
"If there's one thing I've learned, it's to celebrate life's moments as they come. Let's have music and room to dance."
"Dance? You don't dance!"
"Correction—I didn't dance. I'm gonna learn to dance, and you're gonna teach me."
That evening Emmie pushed and Polly pulled on the kitchen table to move it out of the way. Polly set the CD player on the counter and went through Emmie's collection of music. "Did you stop listening to music in the eighties?"
"I happen to like the music of the eighties. I think I'd make a great disco queen."
Polly shook her head. "I don't know about this. I mean, someone has to lead and someone has to follow, and I'm used to following. I think we need a man for this."
"Don't be ridiculous. We'll do fine without a man. You just have to think in opposites to lead. Even I know that."
"Oh, yeah, that'll be easy. I'm not sure I can think and dance at the same time. Okay, here goes. Let's start out with something slow."
Polly turned on the music and held up her arms for Emmie to step into them. They fumbled to establish posture until Polly switched her arms around to the lead position. There they were, two nearly bald women, stumbling around the kitchen, with Emmie either stepping on Polly's feet or turning the wrong way.
As they passed the window, Emmie saw headlights flash in the driveway. She stopped and looked out the door at the red pickup truck. "Oh, my God, it's Sonny. What's he doing here at this time of night?"
"Relax. It's only eight o'clock, and you look fine. Here, let me get your wig." Polly grabbed the wig and flopped it onto Emmie's head, slightly askew. She straightened the scarf she had wrapped around her own head.
When Sonny knocked at the door, Emmie opened it, breathless.
He stepped inside and looked at the table pushed to the wall and the open floor space. "Hi. What's going on here?" he asked, his head cocked slightly to one side, and his eyes fixed on Emmie's head.
"Dance class," Polly said, waving her hand in front of her face to cool off.
"What brings you by, Sonny?" Emmie asked, straightening the wig.
"I was on my way home from work. A customer gave me two bottles of this wine, so I thought I'd drop one off for you."
"You have impeccable timing. We're planning a celebration, and the wine will be put to good use. What are you doing a week from Saturday?" Polly asked.
"Nothing I know of. What are we celebrating?"
Emmie smiled broadly. "I have one more chemo treatment, and then I'm done. After a few weeks of radiation treatments, I can start back on the road to recovery. Oh, yes, and Wes filed divorce papers. See, all the bad things are coming to an end at once."
Sonny stammered, "That's…that's great news, Em—all of it—I guess."
"Sonny, do you know how to dance?" Polly asked.
"Sure. Why?"
"And you know how to lead, I presume?"
"Well, yeah."
"Good. I'm going to have a drink. Here are some CDs. Pick a song and teach this one how to follow," she said as she pointed at Emmie. "My feet can't take anymore. Good luck." With that, Polly made a gin and tonic and retreated to the living room.
Sonny hit the play button on the CD player and a waltz came on. He went to Emmie, bowed deeply and extended his hand. "May I have this dance?"
She laughed and accepted his hand, letting him pull her into dance position. He was sure easier to follow than Polly had been. Emmie managed to step on his feet a few times, but soon got the hang of it as he gracefully waltzed her around the kitchen. She was breathing hard when the music stopped.
"Are you okay? Do you need to sit for a minute?" he asked.
"No. I've done nothing but sit and rest for weeks now. This is fun. Teach me another one."
Grinning broadly, he changed the CD and a slow dance came on. He took her in his arms, telling her to look at him and let her feet follow.
She tried, but stumbled over his feet. Laughing, he lifted her and placed her feet on top of his.
"Hey, dancing is so much easier than I thought. Why'd I wait so long?"
"You just need the right partner." His eyes were fixed on hers and warmth spread up her neck.
She slid her feet from his as the song ended, needing to create some space between their bodies. "Thanks, Sonny, but I think I've had enough for tonight."
They sat at the table while Emmie caught her breath.
"I'm glad I stopped by when I did," Sonny said with a grin.
"I'm glad, too. Polly really can't lead, and I was worried someone would come by and see the two of us dancing around in here and wonder what was going on. She's definitely not my type," Emmie laughed.
Sonny gazed at her, his eyes twinkling. "What is your type?"
Emmie felt a shift in the air between them. She caught her breath. "Well, definitely not female redheads who can't lead a waltz."
Polly shouted from the living room, "Hey, I heard that!"
"So, about the dinner I promised you two. How about next week?" Sonny asked.
"Can we wait until after I'm all finished with the chemo? I know it sounds like I'm putting you off, but food tastes like nothing right now."
"Sure. Whenever you're ready. Are you up to another dance?"
"I think I'll stick to the waltz for now, if that's okay. I'm kind of tired. It was nice of you to stop by. Thanks for the wine."
Emmie watched with interest as he stood and ran a hand through his thick black hair, pushing the lock that had fallen onto his forehead back into place. Her hand tingled as she imagined doing that very thing.
"I'll see you next week," he said, leaning quickly to kiss Emmie's cheek. "Goodnight, Polly," he called out as he headed for the door.
"Goodnight, Sonny. Thanks for taking over the lesson," Polly called back.
"My pleasure," he called back to Polly, his eyes again fixed on Emmie as he spoke. "Goodnight, Em."
Emmie sat for a moment, her hand against her cheek, feeling warmth where he'd kissed her. She joined Polly in the living room. "Well, I can waltz now. You were right—all I needed was a man." Seeing Polly's smirk, she quickly added, "To lead. I needed a man to lead."

Professional Reviews

Ellen Stucker
I must admit I've made a "study" of breast cancer novels, not only because I am a 21-year-survivor, who has lost Mother, Grandmother and Aunt to breast cancer, but as a writer because I like to read breast cancer stories. And this one remains one of my favorites. We women love reading books about groups of women helping each other.
It is still amazing to me that Linda is not a survivor herself but has this "survivor" thing so right on. She caught the emotions, zeroed in on the hopes and fears and laments of all of us survivors. And, she did it with skill and love for her characters that sparkles on every page. Her dialogue is one of her strong points, but the resolve and growth in her main character's spirit is what jumps out at one.
Bravo, Linda, for doing a marvelous job with this book and for the hope you will inspire.

Novel Talk
NEXT TIME I’M GONNA DANCE by Linda Rettstatt

Women's Fiction

January 2010 - Champagne Books

Emmie Steele knows a thing or two about second chances and gaining a new lease on life. After all, she fought breast cancer and came out on the winning side. She even managed to survive her husband leaving her. However, she never thought that would only be the first round in a battle that will take all of her strength to win. Her worst fears resurface when she is told about a suspicious lump in her remaining breast. She knows that the cancer has returned. She understands the hard road to recovery, and remembers quite well the emotional and physical turmoil that she had to suffer. Is she strong enough to go through this again? How will she make it through a second time?

With the help of her four best friends and her family, Emmie is geared up to tackle anything. Her friends – Lynn, Chris, Brett and Polly – remember the drill from last time, and they know how to schedule their time so that someone is always available for her. Emmie knows that she is going to need all the encouragement and support that her wonderful friends provide. She worries about her daughter, and the effect her illness may have on her. Emmie is also determined to savor life, and to make the most out of the days that she has been given since there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. Will she prove to be a strong role model for her daughter? Will she accomplish all that she desires?

Linda Rettstatt has penned an amazingly brave story of survival. She takes us on an astounding, eye-opening journey as Emmie struggles against a deadly disease for the second time. We bear witness to a roller coaster of emotions as Emmie questions everything that is happening to her. No matter how strong we are, there will come a time when we will feel hopeless. NEXT TIME I’M GONNA DANCE is a fantastic tale of family and friendship and the bonds that strengthen when forged in fire. Ms. Rettstatt has definitely created a remarkable story filled with hope, and I will look forward to whatever she happens to write next.

Reviewed by Melissa Kammer on 5/28/2010.

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