Are you looking for a great weekend read? This week’s #FromtheHeartFriday features Together for Good by Penelope Powell. Read the first chapter for free then pick up a copy below!
About the Book
Having lost her mother in a tragic drunk driving accident, Laney Spence is no stranger to grief and loss. Despite this tragedy touching her life at such a young age, Laney has maintained her belief that God brings good out of even the most difficult circumstances. For her, that good came in the form of her older brother’s best friend, Matthew Jordan. Kind and compassionate, Matthew helped her grieve—and she’s been harboring a crush on him ever since.
Years later, when tragedy shatters Matthew’s life, Laney is there for him the same way he’d been there for her all those years ago. But they’re not kids anymore. She’s a teacher with little life experience, and he’s a jaded divorce lawyer with a past he’d rather keep secret. Neither of them can ignore the attraction that blooms, though, leaving them both wondering—is attraction, history, and a shared faith in God enough to keep them together for good, or will circumstances beyond their control drive them apart.
August, present day…
“Excuse me, Mr. Jordan.” The secretary Matthew Jordan shared with two other attorneys stood at the entrance to the conference room. Her expression was only a little softer than the stark navy suit she had on.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but you’re needed on the telephone.”
“Can’t she take a message?” Marjorie Hoffman whined. Her impatience lay in the fact that her husband was contesting the amount she wanted from his IRA. Apparently, their primary residence, two vacation homes, and more than half of all the other financial assets weren’t enough.
Rhonda’s expression remained unflappable, an important trait considering the fact that some of their clients could be anything but polite. Marjorie had pitched a fit when Rhonda tried to transfer her to his voice mail once.
Matthew removed his glasses and scrutinized his client, wondering how irate she’d get with him for taking the call. “Would you excuse me for a moment?”
Marjorie snapped her codfish mouth closed and sniffed. “Don’t take too long. I want to get this over with as soon as possible.” When she dabbed a tissue to her tearless eyes, the large diamonds adorning her fingers and wrist released a flurry of sparkles under the room’s fluorescent lighting.
He pushed away from the table and stood. “I’ll return in a moment.” He resisted the urge to roll his eyes when she awarded him another sniff.
It was people like Marjorie that kept the divorce industry growing. And he’d been handling marital splits long enough to be an expert. Sure, there were cases like abuse, abandonment, or infidelity. In those circumstances, he was righting a wrong, but many of his clients were like the Hoffmans, who’d simply grown sick of each other—caring more about losing their assets than having a marriage disintegrate. It was disheartening to say the least.
On the upside, if there was one, divorce settlements tended to generate lucrative fees, and he’d earned enough to catch the notice of the law firm. Recently, he’d been informed they were considering him for partner. Matthew had been working toward that end since he’d graduated law school. Now that it was in sight, the prospect of it coming to fruition was like a tight sweater that itched when he tried to put it on.
“Rhonda, would you see if Ms. Hoffman would like something to drink?”
“Of course.” A bulwark of professionalism, Rhonda’s stoic expression grew sympathetic when she stepped back for him to pass. “Line two.”
“Thanks.” Once he was safely ensconced in his office, he put the receiver to his ear and pressed the blinking button. “Matthew Jordan.”
“Hey.” His sister sniffed. “You didn’t answer your cell.”
If Darby requested that his meeting be interrupted, then the call had to be important. “Sorry. I don’t usually take it into meetings.” Matthew eyed the oak shelving filled with case law books and other reference material, bracing for news he instinctively knew was coming. He squeezed the receiver, clutching his last shreds of hope, and prayed he was wrong. “What’s up?”
Darby cleared her throat. “She’s gone, Matthew… Mom’s gone.” Their mom, Martha, had been a vibrant, grace-filled whirlwind of hospitality to anyone who’d ever met her. Then, the doctor found a brain tumor.
“When?” The pain in his heart was so visceral it felt like sharp claws had pierced his chest and squeezed it.
“She…” A guttural whimper was cut off as Darby cleared her throat again. “About ten minutes ago.”
Approximately ten minutes earlier, he’d spread out the final divorce decree in front of his client. He shut his eyes, wishing he’d been there rather than here doing that. “Where’s Pop?”
“He’s still with her,” Darby said.
Their dad, Bobby Jordan, was the senior pastor of a church in Tennessee. When their mom had been diagnosed, the church’s leadership called a meeting to approve a temporary leave for him. They’d explained it was meant to keep his pay and insurance intact, but labeling it as a temporary solution had bothered Matthew.
“We’re going to the funeral home later to make all the arrangements. Daddy is hoping to schedule the viewing for Thursday night and the funeral on Friday. Will you be able to make it if we set it that soon?”
It was Tuesday. Matthew had already cleared his schedule for the following Monday and Tuesday, hoping he could hop a flight there for an extra-long weekend. He’d planned to call tonight and let them know he was coming. But that wouldn’t work now. He needed to get there as soon as possible. “I’ll make it work.”
“Could you manage taking a few extra days off?” Darby asked.
Matthew frowned. “I don’t know. Why?”
“I think it would be good for Dad if you could stay longer,” she said.
If he was going to stay more than a few days, then he should probably drive. And the time frame for him to leave had just narrowed. Matthew rubbed his forehead, grief clogging his recall of when any of his cases were scheduled for mediation or court. He’d have to confer with Rhonda. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Alright. I’ll talk to you later.” The line went silent. “Matthew?”
He lifted the receiver back to his ear. “Yeah?”
“God’s got this.”
A burning sensation rose from Matthew’s chest and lodged in his esophagus. “Yeah,” he rasped. He wouldn’t betray what he was really thinking. How he’d been praying for his mom’s healing, and not getting that answer hurt like another betrayal. He’d been doing okay in his faith until this came along. Now, he was seriously struggling to believe God was even listening.