"They aren't hiding just one something, but a bunch of somethings..."
Jessica Caldwell hates the day she met him, and she hates him even more. But now the two of them will be connected forever...
Eli Faulkner is one of the best trial lawyers in Tennessee. It's what he lives for righting injustices. When he's called upon to defend Tag Grissom, an arrogant cardiologist accused of murder, he fi nds himself wondering, could this be more than just a case?
Holland Fletcher has always wanted to be a true investigative journalist, but he's never really stepped up to the plate. That is, until he receives an anonymous tip and is plunged into a dangerous realm of intrigue and murder that involves not only the Supreme Court, but the entire nation.
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About the Author
Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University and the University of Mississippi School of Law. He is a full-time attorney and is actively involved with his church, community, and coaching youth sports. Teel is involved in politics at a local and state level, both personally and in association with his law firm. He is the author of The Election and The Divine Appointment. He and his wife reside in Tennessee with their three children.
Read an Excerpt
Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee
"I didn't mean for it to happen," Jessica Caldwell said. "This is the last thing I want in my life right now."
Jessica spoke into her wireless phone. It had been resting on the nightstand at the base of a brass lamp, beside the alarm clock, two unfinished books, and the remote control to the flat-screen television in her bedroom. Jessica had reluctantly answered after seeing his number on the caller ID. It was a conversation she dreaded, but it could be avoided no longer. There was no small talk between them. Their verbal exchange was an argument from the first word. That was more than fine with her.
"But it happened, and we've got to deal with it," Jessica said.
She sat in the middle of the bed in the upstairs bedroom of her Brentwood town house. Her legs and feet were still under the covers. The rest of her body was covered with a Vanderbilt University T-shirt. The glimmer from the half-moon filtered into the room through the venetian blinds of the second-floor window. The only other light was the glow from her digital alarm clock. It was 11:45 P.M. central time on Monday, the second week of May.
Jessica had arrived home after a late dinner, changed clothes, and watched late-night television before climbing into bed. It had taken a while to wind down. She had just fallen asleep when the phone rang.
"I was being careful," she replied to the biting comment from the other end of the phone. "I've been using birth control for years."
She felt agitated and scared at the same time. No one had ever talked to her like that. Shifting her legs, she crossed them under the covers. She held her head in her left hand, the wireless phone in her right, and closed her eyes briefly.
"I told you I didn't mean for it to happen. But it's not all my fault. It took both of us, or have you forgotten?"
Jessica ran her hand through her shoulder-length auburn hair and tucked it behind her ears. Tears welled up in her brown eyes, but she refused to let them escape onto her cheeks. She refused to give him the satisfaction of making her cry. She had never loved the man on the other end of the phone, but during that conversation her feelings for him grew extremely close to hate.
No, she decided. Hate isn't strong enough. I loathe him.
"I don't want this any more than you do," she said. "I'm just beginning my career and "
The male voice interrupted with yelling and profanity. He had never yelled at her during their relationship. He had always been polite and kind. The yelling and profanity were almost more than she could take. It was certainly more than she expected.
Then he said something that caused her heart to leap into her throat. She swallowed hard and spoke with determination. "I'm not doing that. I don't think that's right. And it's my body. I'll do what I want to."
The flood of harsh words intensified, angering and upsetting her even more. Jessica despised the day she had met him. She wished him dead.
"What?" she screamed into the receiver, punching the mattress through the comforter and sheets. "Tell your wife? Are you crazy? Of course not! Why would I do something like that?"
Jessica couldn't fight the tears any longer. The dam burst, and they began to stream down her face.
The man on the other end of the call continued to scream at her.
They'd had a comfortable relationship until then. It wasn't love, Jessica knew, but they had found pleasure in each other's company. Then one thing had led to another...and now this had happened. He had gotten what he wanted her.
But no more. The physical relationship was officially over, Jessica vowed. She couldn't continue with him after this lashing, but they would always be connected. It was inescapable.
Like the relationship, the conversation needed to end as well. She was sick of talking to him. Jessica briefly held the wireless away from her ear and thought about simply disconnecting the call. She wiped tears from her cheeks with her free hand.
"I don't know how your wife found out," she finally screamed after she had endured the berating for several more minutes. "But I'm through talking about this. I'm hanging up."
The man's yelling continued as Jessica removed the phone from her ear again and pressed the End button. She turned off the power to the wireless phone and growled at it before slamming it down on the nightstand. She also angrily unplugged the landline telephone cord from the wall. After she was certain she wouldn't be disturbed anymore by the telephone any telephone she extinguished the lamp, buried her face in her pillow, and wept. What sleep she experienced the rest of the night was restless.
The White House, Washington DC
President Richard Wallace left the two black-clad Secret Service agents in the hallway and entered the residential area of the White House. It was the only place in the world where he had any privacy. And privacy had become a rare commodity since his election to the presidency eighteen months earlier. He was a handsome man. Fifty-five years old. Brown and gray hair. Strong jaw. Rugged. He worked out almost every day in the White House gymnasium.
President Wallace made his way in the dark toward the bedroom suite he shared with his wife, Lauren, and removed his suit coat and loosened his necktie as he walked. It was 1:00 A.M. eastern time Tuesday, and he had been up since 4:30 A.M. the previous day.
He activated only one lamp in the sitting area adjacent to his and Lauren's bedroom he was concerned that too much light might awaken her and draped his coat over the back of a chair. He knew one of the housekeeping staff would find it at daybreak and have it dry-cleaned and back in his closet before he needed it again. He stretched and yawned before plopping down on the sofa in the sitting room. He knew Lauren was asleep in their bedroom, so he tried to be quiet. He didn't even turn on the television. He laid his head on the back of the sofa and closed his eyes.
Despite his efforts to keep from awakening her, Lauren opened the door to their bedroom and called softly from the doorway, "Are you coming to bed?"
"In a few minutes." He peeked at her through squinted eyes. "I just need to unwind. I didn't mean to wake you."
Lauren walked farther into the room. She wore navy silk pajamas and slipped on a matching robe as she moved toward her husband. Lauren, an attractive, slender brunette with a very elegant appearance even at one o'clock in the morning, was the same age as President Wallace.
"I haven't been asleep long," Lauren said. "You need me to get you anything?"
"I'm fine. It's been a long day, with one crisis after the other." He scratched the top of his head and sat up straight. "I called Justice Robinson's family tonight. They don't think she'll make it another day."
Lauren sat on the sofa, rotated her body toward her husband, and tucked her legs under her. She propped her right elbow on the back of the sofa. He reached for her left hand.
"I hate to hear that." Concern flickered in Lauren's warm brown eyes. "I enjoyed her company on the few occasions I had to talk with her."
"Yeah, me too," he said sorrowfully. "I disagree with many of her decisions but respect her as a jurist."
"You have anybody in mind to replace her?"
President Wallace yawned. "Porter McIntosh and the general counsel's office have been compiling a list and background information for several weeks now. I'll probably start interviewing the leading candidates within the next week or so. The Supreme Court's term starts the first week of October. That's only five months away. So we don't have much time to work through the confirmation process."
"It's a big decision."
Describing it as a big decision was an understatement. Selecting a college or buying a house was a big decision. This decision was enormous. The magnitude of it was beyond description.
"It's probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, decisions I'll make as president. I'm convinced this is one of the reasons God has placed me in this position."
"How difficult will it be, do you think, to have your nominee confirmed?"
President Wallace let go of her hand and stretched his arms over his head. He shifted in his seat. His shoulders ached. His exhaustion had finally caught up with him, and he could barely keep his eyes open. He twisted his head toward Lauren.
"The confirmation process will be one of the most politically vicious and brutal events that I can imagine," he told her. "The liberal-interest groups and senators from the left will ferociously attack any candidate I put forward. It won't be pretty, I can tell you that. But it'll be worth the fight if he or she is confirmed."
Reclining against the back of the sofa again, he closed his eyes. The aching in his shoulders eased, but only barely.
"Why don't you come to bed?" Lauren insisted. "You look completely exhausted."
"I'll be there in a minute," he mumbled. "You go ahead."
Not hearing a response, he cracked his eyes open. Seeing the worry on her face, he gave her a reassuring smile.
Lauren returned the smile and kissed him on the cheek. She affectionately squeezed his hand and stood to leave. "Don't stay up too long. You have another long day ahead of you."
"I won't," he promised.
Lauren returned to their bedroom and closed the door.
President Wallace remained alone. He sat up on the edge of the sofa, lowered his head, closed his eyes, and whispered, "Lord, I know that you are in complete control of every situation. I pray for Justice Robinson and her family. Father, if it's in your will, I ask that you heal her body. Please comfort her. And, Lord, if she passes away, I ask that you comfort her family. I also pray for wisdom and your guidance in this most important decision that may now lie before me. Please provide strength and wisdom to me and also to the person you direct me to nominate to the Supreme Court. Please allow me to find your will. Amen."
President Wallace stood and rubbed his droopy eyes. He entered the bedroom quietly. It was finally time for sleep, and he desperately needed it.
The Omni Office Center, Nashville, Tennessee
"I'm Elijah Faulkner, and I'm here for an afternoon meeting with Merrick Armstrong," Eli announced to the receptionist as he entered the Chandler & Spivey, PC law offices from the elevator that opened directly into the office lobby. The receptionist was protected from the common people by a five-foot-tall wall laden with hand-carved marble and an onyx granite countertop. Her enclosure was just one of the many posh appointments in the Chandler & Spivey offices that inhabited the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth floors of the Omni Office Center in downtown Nashville.
The receptionist smiled pleasantly. "We're expecting you. If you'll please go into the Walker B. Chandler conference room" she pointed at a door across the lobby "Mr. Armstrong will be with you in a few minutes."
Eli entered the conference room and placed his briefcase on the end of the long mahogany table near the oil painting of Walker B. Chandler, one of the founders of Chandler & Spivey. Unbuttoning his gray pin-striped suit coat, Eli walked to the bank of windows that overlooked Centennial Park and the replica of the Parthenon. His six-foot-two frame and wavy black hair were reflected in the glass. The scene through the window was a view Eli witnessed each of the numerous times his law practice brought him to Nashville to do battle with one of the lawyers at Chandler & Spivey.
Although Eli knew well that the air outside was brisk, the park scene revealed that spring was, little by little, bringing life back to the vegetation that had hibernated through the winter. It was Tuesday, the second week of May, and the cold April showers had surrendered to warmer days. Buds covered the trees that lined the perimeter of the park, and sprouts of green were scattered throughout the otherwise dormant turf. He chuckled to himself at the irony. After years of virtual death at the hands of Merrick's ruthless client, his own client might begin to get his life back today as well.
"Mr. Faulkner," interrupted a young female voice. Eli pivoted toward the sound and saw a slender, attractive young woman standing in the doorway of the conference room. She was midtwenties, he guessed, with long blond hair and even longer legs that extended from a skirt that ended just above her knees. She presented herself in such a way that it was obvious she thought her likeness more fitting for the cover of Vogue than the inside of a law office. But there she was, at Chandler & Spivey, waiting to be discovered.
"Would you care for a cup of coffee or a soft drink while you wait for Mr. Armstrong?" she said with a warm smile.
"A cup of coffee would be great," he said patronizingly, and she dashed away to retrieve it.
After the model-in-waiting left, Eli sat down at the end of the conference-room table and spread the contents of his file in front of him. Soon the cup of coffee was delivered with a flirtatious flair.
His client, George Thornton, arrived shortly thereafter. He was several years older than Eli and was short and overweight. He had a large nose, long chin, and bushy eyebrows that matched his salt-and-pepper hair.
Eli had liked George Thornton from the instant he'd met him. He'd immediately seen in George the qualities he admired in a man a hard worker, honest, and determined. They were the same traits Eli tried to emulate in his own life and legal career.
And there was something else that drew Eli to George. George was dedicated to his family. Eli had seen that loyalty clearly as he and George had become good friends over the last couple of years. The more their friendship had evolved, the more resolute Eli had become in attempting to right the injustice George and his family had suffered.
George joined Eli at the conference-room table and sat down in the chair to Eli's right. "Eli, where do you think this is going to end up?"
"Like I told you when I agreed to take this case," Eli responded, catching George's dark eyes with his own, "I'm a lawyer, not a magician. I can't magically put everything back the way it was before all of this started. But we've done a good job in building your case, and Armstrong is smart enough to realize that a jury could get excited and hit his client with a negative verdict and large punitive damages."
"Well, I want Rory Driscoll to pay dearly for what he has put my family and me through during these last three years. We've lived our entire lives in Jackson. I built Thornton Sportswear from the ground up, and Driscoll stole it from me. The people in town have looked down on us since my wife and I had to file for bankruptcy." George took a breath.
Eli saw the familiar rage begin to build. He couldn't blame the man, but he needed George to be levelheaded during the meeting.
"I want him to pay," George continued through clenched teeth.
"I'm on your side, George. But you've got to be realistic. I hear Driscoll's having a difficult time of it financially, and may be about out of money. If they offer anywhere north of a million, you better think very seriously about it."
"A million dollars?"
Eli saw the disappointment on his client's face and heard it in his voice.
"I'm not taking a million dollars," George replied. "That's nowhere close to enough to compensate my family and me for what we've been through."
"From what I understand, there's not much left, George. I suspect that Armstrong has billed Driscoll for at least five hundred thousand dollars. The only reason they're talking to us now about a settlement is because Driscoll wants to avoid prosecution by the U.S. attorney's office. Otherwise, Armstrong would just keep on billing him. Our problem is that proving a violation of the RICO Act is only part of the game. Collecting the money from Driscoll is the other part. If Driscoll is in jail, I can't get you a dime." Eli studied George closely to make sure he understood. "So as I said, if they get to a million, we better take it."
Just then Merrick Armstrong and Rory Driscoll strolled into the conference room. Merrick was the older and led the two as they made their grand entrance. He wore a starched white shirt and a striped bow tie. He was slightly overweight, and it was more noticeable in his jowls than anywhere else. Aside from some graying black hair above his ears, he was completely bald. Rory was dressed in a tailored suit purchased, Eli assumed, with money he'd swindled from George Thornton. His black hair was neatly parted and slicked down close to his scalp.
Everything about Rory's appearance and particularly his swagger irritated Eli. The man was as slick as his hair. Eli had learned during the course of this case that George Thornton wasn't the first person Rory had swindled. It was just that, this time, he'd been caught. Helping a victim like George Thornton get justice against a swindler like Rory Driscoll was one of the reasons Eli enjoyed being a lawyer.
"Eli, Mr. Thornton," Merrick said crisply as he entered and sat at the end of the table opposite Eli. He didn't shake hands with either man.
Eli and George nodded in the direction of the enemy to acknowledge its presence.
Rory didn't speak.
"I suppose you know why I asked you to come to this meeting," Merrick continued. "Mr. Driscoll and I would like to discuss a possible settlement."
Eli and Merrick haggled for the better part of the afternoon. Offers, counteroffers, and coy gamesmanship were all part of the negotiations. Two hours after the meeting began, Merrick said the words Eli had waited to hear.
"We can pay one million dollars," Merrick said. His face was rigid and firm. "And that's our final offer."
Eli relaxed back into his chair, stroked his chin thoughtfully, and exhaled. "Let me speak with my client in private."
He and George excused themselves from the room. Once they were safely where Merrick and Rory couldn't hear them, Eli spoke to George in a tone that was barely above a whisper, but forceful. "I think you should take it, George. My sources tell me that Rory is completely out of money, and may even file for bankruptcy. If he does that, then you can kiss good-bye all hope of recovering any money from him."
"I know." George looked dejected. "It's not as much about the money anymore as it is about punishing Rory. You can't imagine the times I've dreamed of my hands around his throat."
"A million dollars is pretty good punishment." Eli raised his eyebrows for effect. "I'll bet he despises the day the two of you met about as much as you do. Because of you, the federal authorities are investigating some of Driscoll's other businesses. And I can assure you that nobody likes having the FBI after them. Let's take the million and call it a day."
Eli could sense that George wasn't quite convinced, so he leaned in closer. "I know Merrick Armstrong, George. He may not be the best lawyer in the state, but he didn't get to be third on the letterhead at Chandler and Spivey because of his good looks. If we don't take this offer, he'll strike the best deal he can for Driscoll with the U.S. attorney, then Driscoll will file for bankruptcy. You'll be left out in the cold."
"All right," George conceded reluctantly. "But I want the money wired to your office this afternoon, before we leave. I don't want to risk his being able to renege on us."
In agreement, Eli and George reentered the conference room and announced that a settlement had been reached. By 4:00 P.M. Eli had obtained confirmation that his bank had received the money and that it was deposited in his escrow account. He and George signed the necessary settlement papers prepared by Merrick's office and departed.
As they left, George thanked Eli and genuinely appeared satisfied and relieved that the whole ordeal was finally over. Although Eli would receive a handsome fee for his efforts one third of the total recovery the appreciation from George meant as much or more to Eli.
The Divine Appointment © 2007 by Jerome Teel
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thought he couldn't write a better book than The Election, but The Divine Appointment is awesome. A political thriller with complex relationships, exciting twists, and acts of faith. I can't wait for the next one from Jerome Teel.
Great read! Fast paced and gets your attention early. You won't want to put it down. I've bought copies to give as gifts - I know the receivers will enjoy it.
I have felt that Christian Fiction's past efforts in the political thriller genre have been underwhelming. That has changed, however, with Jerome Teel's 'The Election' and now 'The Divine Appointment'. The characters are cerdible and the story fast paced. Murder and the Supreme Court...this one has it all!
I just finished reading this book. Wow! To be fair and perfectly honest, I figured out how this would ultimately end early on, HOWEVER, the twists and turns that this story made in getting to the end were outstanding! There is no way to predict the details involved in reaching the conclusion and once you hit halfway in this book, it becomes very difficult to put down. The beginning is set in 4 locations with several players, and lots of background details are necessary to get the reader involved in the details of the story that are revealed in the second half of the novel. This was such a great read! I am on a mission to find a copy of Mr. Teel's first novel, The Election. I anticipate it being just as amazing as this book! If you like John Grisham or any other political/legal thriller books, this is a must read. It is Christian Fiction, so there isn't any offensive language or scenes in this book. I give this book 5 out of 5 bookmarks!
Jerome Teel's,The Divine Appointment, is a book that engages the reader from the beginning! Each chapter keeps you wanting more! His use of descriptive words make you feel like you know the characters and places. This legal thriller is a must read!
Jerome Teel has done it again with his newest release. The Divine Appointment combines political suspense, Christian faith and a dose of Southern charm to make an unforgettable story. Grab some sweet tea, prop your feet up and and get ready for an enjoyable read.
I have been waiting for this Jerome Teel book since I read The Election last year. This book is as exciting and suspenseful as the first. I have decided to purchase several as gifts - then I don't have to worry about whether it's appropriate as I know Mr. Teel's writing are always moral and 'clean'. And, that's a big deal these days. Now, I'm waiting on his #3 book! Thanks, Jerome, for getting me interested in reading again!
Christian author Jerome Teel has hit a homer with his new release, The Divine Appointment. Teel catches the reader with his attention to detail and the human fraility of this characters. I truly could not put the book down! Way to Jerome Teel!!!!!
The most liberal Supreme Court justice has died and the president, a right wing pro-life politician, nominates Dunbar Shelton to replace her. He is considered right of the mainstream conservatives and the democrat senate won¿t let his nomination out of committee. Politics makes for strange bedfellows when the president¿s chief of staff agrees not to support republican¿s candidates, thus causing a democratic majority in the next election, with the Senate majority leader. --- Stella Hanover, leader of the National Federation for Abortion Rrights, a powerful and heavily funded lobby group, uses every dirty trick in the book and breaks some laws to increase the heat on the leader of the senate, Senator Proctor to withdraw his support of the candidate. In Tennessee, a young lawyer is killed in her apartment and. Tag a skilled physician is arrested for her murder. He is represented by Eli Faulkner and Jill Baker who connect his case to the events happening in Washington. Jill flies to Washington to team up with Holland Fletcher who has part of the story between the two of them they come up with answers that could get them killed. --- Whether one agrees with the president¿s stand on abortion or not, nobody could doubt the convictions of his feelings on the issue. He stands up to what he believes is morally right which makes the audience admire if not like him. The sad part of THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT IS that the audience will believe the events in this tale could happen. Jerome Teel writes a totally awesome and exciting political thriller that shows how low and dirty politics and its players can get. --- Harriet Klausner
Howard Fiction June 2007. ISBN 13: 978-1-4165-4338-1 Jerome Teel is a full time attorney, actively involved with his family and community. He admits that he does not get to his writing until after ten p.m. Regardless, Teel¿s second riveting legal thriller brings together an unforgettable cast of characters for a high stakes story. A Supreme Court Justice dies, leaving a vacant seat for conservative President Richard Wallace to fill. Can he gain the nomination for his pro-life candidate against Senate Majority leader Lance Proctor and the pro choice gang who stop at nothing, including murder, to accomplish their evil purposes? Small town Southern lawyer Elijah Faulkner wonders if he¿s on the right side when a seemingly unrelated murder in Nashville brings his associate Jill Baker and himself into the crosshairs of a murder plot. Author Teel uses this murder and other twists and turns to address the hot topics of abortion and divine appointments. I found the work to be original, fast-paced and interesting to the end. The potentially offensive elements of abortion and violence made their impact without offense, and I sighed with relief when all the loose ends came together at the end. I did feel that the work could benefit with editing. Too many passive verbs and clumsy sentences cluttered the fine story line. A work that is great could become brilliant with a little more attention to detail. If you can overlook these factors, you will enjoy The Divine Appointment.