Greater Loveby Robert Whitlow, Suzy Jackson
Tami has just accepted a job with a law firm, but wonders if she made the right decision. With two strong men vying for her heart, she's about to lose both if she can't decide between them. And her new case is anything but simple. When she first meets her client, Tami knows the rough young teen is lying, guilty . . . and utterly terrified of something beyond the… See more details below
Tami has just accepted a job with a law firm, but wonders if she made the right decision. With two strong men vying for her heart, she's about to lose both if she can't decide between them. And her new case is anything but simple. When she first meets her client, Tami knows the rough young teen is lying, guilty . . . and utterly terrified of something beyond the charges she's facing. What she doesn't realize is just how far-reaching the effects of this case will be.
Read an Excerpt
GREATER LOVEBook Three in the Tides of Truth series
By ROBERT WHITLOW
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Robert Whitlow
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThrough the window I could see a few brown leaf stragglers clinging to limbs of an oak tree. Powell Station was in the Appalachian foothills so snow wasn't uncommon in November, but it rarely fell until after the middle of the month. I rolled onto my side and pulled the quilt up to my chin. I was glad to be home, among my family, spending a few days in the daily routine of life.
I slipped out of bed so as not to wake the twins, Ellie and Emma. After retrieving the morning eggs, I joined Mama in the kitchen. Our diet was high in cholesterol, but there wasn't a carton of soft drinks on our property, and honey from hives behind the garden was our favorite sweetener.
Mama and I had worked together in the kitchen from the time I was old enough to be trusted at the stove until I left for college. When I returned home, familiar patterns returned without effort and we moved about efficiently without getting in each other's way. I loved meal preparation. There was a sense of fulfillment in fixing hot, delicious food for the people I loved. Daddy claimed my scrambled eggs were fluffier than cotton candy at the county fair.
Daddy and Bobby came inside and washed their hands at the garden sink beside the rear door.
"It's a glorious morning!" Daddy exclaimed to Mama. "Do you know why, Lu?"
Mama smiled. We all knew the answer.
"Because we're here together," Mama replied.
Daddy dried his hands and kissed me in the usual place on top of my head. He grabbed Ellie by the shoulders.
"Which one are you?" he asked, peering into her blue eyes.
"Daddy, you know!" she answered with a quick smile.
Daddy kissed her on the right cheek. Emma came up for a kiss on the left cheek. Daddy grabbed Mama and squeezed her waist.
The timer I used for the hard-boiled eggs went off. While I cooled the eggs enough to remove the shells, Ellie filled large bowls with steaming oatmeal. Emma set a cup of raisins and a jar of honey on the table, then put a cloth napkin at every place and correctly positioned on each a knife, fork, and spoon. I'd never been embarrassed by a lack of table manners. Mama's homeschool curriculum included a course in etiquette that we were expected to incorporate into everyday practice. We ate our meals at a long picnic table painted white. Mama and I sat across from each other at the end nearest the cooking area.
"Tammy Lynn, will you pray?" Daddy asked.
We held hands around the table. I reached across and took Mama's hand. It was slightly dry and coarse. Her fingers spoke of a lifetime of service to others.
"Thank you for this fresh food, my loving family, and this crisp, fall day. Bless them all. In Jesus' name, amen."
"Well done, Tammy Lynn," Daddy said. "Who said lawyers forget how to pray? That was downright poetic."
"I won't be a lawyer until I graduate from school and pass the bar exam next summer," I corrected.
"You'll do both," Mama said confidently as she stirred a few more raisins into her oatmeal. "And the Lord will direct your steps."
Ellie popped a large bite of hard-boiled egg into her mouth. "Tammy Lynn woke me up this morning talking about moving to Savannah and getting married and having babies."
"That was her prediction for my future," I responded quickly.
"But you didn't disagree," Ellie answered, her voice muffled by egg.
"Don't talk with food in your mouth," Mama said.
I turned toward Daddy and Mama. "I have to tell Braddock, Appleby, and Carpenter by the first of December if I'm going to accept the job offer with them. If I turn them down, I could work with Julie Feldman and Maggie Smith in Savannah or come back to Powell Station and open my own office."
"I know what Zach wants you to do," Emma replied. "Take the job with Bradley, Applecart, and whatever so he can keep a close watch on you."
"That's not the way he looks at it."
"But it's the way he looks at you," Ellie replied. "I can still see the dreamy expression on his face when you were doctoring his hand after the catfish stung him."
"Has he given you any advice?" Mama asked, ignoring my sisters.
"He told me the advantages and disadvantages of coming to work for his firm or being part of a new practice like the one Julie and Maggie are setting up."
"Being around him every day would be a big, big advantage," Ellie said, taking a sip of orange juice.
"Last week Julie sent me pictures of the place Maggie rented in a new office park," I continued. "It looks nice. They have an office reserved for me if I want it."
"How can they afford that?" Daddy asked.
"Julie's father is loaning them a bunch of money. In return, Julie gets to be a partner from the start. She claims her daddy won't make them pay back the money."
"That's not right," Emma cut in. "The Bible says, 'The wicked borroweth and payeth not again.' Psalm 37:21."
"Tammy Lynn, you be the lawyer; your little sister can go to Congress." Daddy laughed.
After breakfast, Ellie and I rinsed the bowls in the sink. She leaned over and spoke in a soft voice.
"If you work at the law firm with Zach, you can find out if he's the one. I think he is, but I know it's up to Daddy, Mama, you, and God, of course."
"He's the first man I've courted," I answered, glancing over my shoulder to see if Mama was still in the kitchen. "And I can't be thinking about marriage all the time. Part of the reason to court a man is to learn how it feels to be around a male who isn't a member of the family."
"Doesn't the thought of him make chills run up and down your back?"
As if on cue, an involuntary shiver ran down my back.
"Not all the time," I answered, shrugging my shoulders.
Ellie continued. "And after you get used to his ponytail, it doesn't make him look girlie at all, especially when you see how broad his shoulders are."
"You shouldn't be paying attention to Zach Mays' shoulders."
"I'm not. It's a scientific observation."
Mid-morning I found Mama sweeping the front porch. The autumn sun shining through the trees in the front yard cast mottled light against the well-worn wood.
"I'd like to see Mr. Callahan while I'm here and ask his advice."
Mama finished a stroke that sent several leaves swirling off the porch and into the cool air.
"That's a good idea. You can borrow the car."
It was about five miles to the retired attorney's large home on top of a gentle hilltop surrounded by lush pasture where his prize Angus cattle grazed. A jar of honey in my hand as a gift, I rang the doorbell. The white-haired lawyer opened it and inspected me with piercing dark eyes that contained both fire and compassion. It was easy to imagine Mr. Callahan giving a passionate appeal to a jury.
"Come inside," he said in a mellow voice.
I handed him the jar of honey. "This is for you and Mrs. Callahan."
"Thank you. I've been out of honey for a few weeks. Bobby brought a jar when he picked up a calf a few days after you and the young, healing prophet with the ponytail came by to see me."
"Zach wouldn't want to be called either a prophet or a healer. He's an admiralty lawyer."
"Didn't I get better after he prayed for me?"
"Then it doesn't matter what he calls himself." Mr. Callahan held up the honey. "Let me prove my case. Your mama can make a pretty label to decorate the outside, but wouldn't you agree that it's what's inside this jar that counts?"
"It's the same with people."
I followed Mr. Callahan through the living room to the kitchen, a spacious room that featured a decorative island and bank of windows that welcomed sunlight.
"My wife's in Chattanooga shopping with her sister," Mr. Callahan said, placing the honey on the corner of the island. "Your daddy told me Joe Carpenter offered you a permanent job, the first female clerk to receive an offer at Braddock, Appleby, and Carpenter since women got the vote."
"They've had a few woman attorneys over the years but never hired a female summer clerk."
"When do you start?"
"I'm not sure I'm going to accept."
"Why not?" he asked in surprise. "Do you have a better offer?"
"That's why I came to see you."
Mr. Callahan motioned to a small round table in the corner of the room. We sat, and I told him about the new firm Maggie Smith and Julie Feldman wanted me to join. His face remained impassive.
"Maggie's been with the district attorney's office for a few years and wants to go out on her own," I said. "Julie Feldman is the Jewish girl who also clerked at Braddock, Appleby, and Carpenter. She'll graduate from Emory in June. They want me to be their associate. It will be a small firm, but I believe they have a great future."
Mr. Carpenter rubbed his chin. "Wouldn't Ms. Feldman be an associate, too? She doesn't have any more experience than you do."
"Her father is a rich doctor. He's loaning the money to help them get started. In return, Julie gets an instant partnership."
"In nothing." Mr. Callahan snorted. "Braddock, Appleby, and Carpenter is the best firm in Savannah. It's okay to go out on your own after you learn your way around the courthouse. But two inexperienced lawyers and an assistant DA who's had her cases handed to her on a platter by detectives who did the hard work is a recipe for disaster."
I swallowed. I'd not expected Mr. Callahan to have such a strong opinion.
"You started your own practice in Powell Station. It worked out well for you."
"Don't forget. I worked three years for another lawyer in Cartersville before moving up here. I learned enough from him to keep from making any dumb mistakes that cost me my license or caused me to go broke. And I still had a few lean years before the decent cases started rolling in. Borrowing through a personally guaranteed credit line at the local bank just to survive isn't fun." Mr. Callahan leaned forward. "How many of your classmates at the law school have multiple job offers?"
"I'm not sure. Except for the girls on my intramural basketball team, I don't talk to many people about their plans."
"How many of those young women have a decent job to go to after graduation?"
I quickly ran through the lineup of the seven girls. We'd played together for three years in a fall league at the University of Georgia.
"One is accepting a job with an insurance defense firm in Macon. Another is going to clerk for a superior court judge in Fulton County. The others are sending out résumés and trying to arrange interviews and so on." I paused. "If nothing develops they'll get desperate in a few months."
"Exactly." Mr. Callahan sat up straight and eyed me for a moment. "Are you looking for someone to tell you what to do?"
"I wouldn't mind it," I admitted sheepishly.
"Have you talked to your parents?"
"They know about the options, of course, but they haven't given me their opinion."
"Well, I don't want to create confusion with what they might say."
"No, it's okay. I'm already confused."
Mr. Callahan looked past my shoulder. "Tammy Lynn, do you know why you're struggling with this decision?"
I hesitated. "Because I want to do God's will?"
Mr. Callahan waved his right hand in a way that brushed aside my answer.
"That's important, but to get to that point it's necessary to be honest about yourself. I like pretending to be a cattleman, but sometimes I miss the chance to really grill a witness. Will you let me conduct a bit of a cross-examination to find out what's going on inside that pretty, intelligent head of yours?"
I managed a slight smile. "Go ahead. If it helps, it'll be worth it."
Mr. Callahan stood, pushed his glasses down his nose, and put his hands behind his back. "Ms. Taylor, isn't it true you've had a lot of success for a girl taught at home until high school?"
I sat up straighter in the chair.
"Yes, sir. Mama is the best teacher in the world. I'd read most of the books on the reading lists for my college literature classes before-"
Mr. Callahan held up his hand. "A simple yes is sufficient. You don't have to prove the value of your upbringing to me. I'm just laying the foundation for my question."
"And isn't it true that you've had athletic success, too?"
"Didn't the girls' high school basketball team go to the state tournament your senior year?"
"And weren't you named all-conference point guard?"
I blushed that Mr. Callahan remembered such a minute detail from my past. I nodded.
"And isn't it correct that you've done well in law school?"
"I'm not on the law review, but I'm in the top quarter of my class."
"A lot of successful attorneys weren't on the law review." Mr. Callahan grunted. "Including me. And now you've broken the gender barrier for summer clerks at an outstanding law firm in Savannah. I bet the partners didn't spend much time discussing the below-the-knee length of your dresses before deciding to offer you a job. Don't you think they focused on your analytical ability and personal character?"
"Are you asking me to speculate?"
Mr. Callahan pointed his finger at me. "Careful. A witness who toys with me usually regrets it."
I smiled. "I'm sure the partners at the firm cared more about my legal abilities than my conservative wardrobe."
"That's better." Mr. Callahan paused. "So, Ms. Taylor, after all your hard work in several areas of life, is there a possibility you're afraid of success at the next level?"
"No, sir. That's not it."
Mr. Callahan studied me for a moment. "When a witness doesn't give the expected answer, the attorney must try a different tact."
I waited. Mr. Callahan stepped closer.
"As a first-year associate attorney, you'll make an excellent salary at Braddock, Appleby, and Carpenter, probably two or three times what your daddy brings home in a year as a supervisor at the chicken plant. Are you worried the deceitfulness of wealth will draw you away from your love for God?"
I'd thought about that issue. "I won't know until the money is in my bank account. I'm praying for grace not to let it drag me down."
"And I doubt it will," Mr. Callahan replied, rubbing his chin. "What about Zach Mays? Do you believe God is drawing you together?"
I blushed a second time.
"I've not seen him since the end of the summer. He's busy at work, and I'm in the middle of the school term."
"If he'd wanted to visit you at school, would you have let him?" I bit my lower lip. "Yes, sir. What does that have to do with the job?"
Mr. Callahan smiled. "That was a credibility question, just to let me know you're in a truth-telling mood."
"I always try to tell the truth. Or repent as soon as I don't."
"I'll hold you to that. Look, let's be real. Are you afraid working on a daily basis with the young healing prophet might ruin your relationship with him?"
Mr. Callahan's question produced a sudden ache of longing for Zach Mays in my chest. My phone conversations with him had been light, not serious. We'd not voiced what we might feel in our hearts. As I'd told Ellie, I was just getting used to being around a man who wasn't a family member.
"No, sir," I answered slowly. "I want to be around him. But it's not necessary to work at the same firm for that to happen."
"Does Joe Carpenter's firm discourage two lawyers who work there from dating each other?"
"Ms. Patrick, the office manager, told me romance between summer clerks and lawyers wasn't allowed, but I don't know about lawyers. I don't think it would be a problem."
"Although it's awkward if a couple takes domestic squabbles to work in their briefcases." I opened my mouth, then quickly shut it.
"There will be arguments," Mr. Callahan continued.
"I know. Even Mama and Daddy have their disagreements. She's taught me the biblical principles of conflict resolution and helped me understand the differences between men and women."
Mr. Callahan raised his eyebrows. "I thought it was the man's job to make all the adjustments."
"That's usually true," I answered with a straight face.
Mr. Callahan rubbed his palms together. "I know you've thought about this next question, but I need to ask it anyway. Are you worried the firm will assign you cases that violate your moral convictions?"
"That happened last summer," I answered, remembering the lawsuit the firm filed against Sister Rachel Dabney. "It all worked out in the end. But I can't count on that happening every time."
Mr. Callahan chuckled. "That doesn't sound like a woman who has the faith to move mountains. Here's what you could do. Tell the firm up front there are types of cases you want to avoid and get it settled before it comes up."
Excerpted from GREATER LOVE by ROBERT WHITLOW Copyright © 2010 by Robert Whitlow. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >