Read And the Greatest of These Is Love: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel Online

Authors: Staci Stallings

Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Religious & Inspirational Fiction, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction, #Inspirational

And the Greatest of These Is Love: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel (26 page)

BOOK: And the Greatest of These Is Love: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Instantly her eyes caught his, and her heart slipped free of its moorings. In one breath the whole world dropped away from her, and her only reality was looking into his eyes. He asked for her to understand, to not run away again, to give him a chance. Nothing moved. Nothing existed at that moment except the two of them, lost in each other’s eyes.


The knock on the door startled them both back to reality, and Andrew turned to open it, but as he did, his heart sank when he found himself looking into the smiling face of Agent Morgan. Taking a long, deep breath, Andrew opened the door slowly, purposefully, knowing exactly what opening that door meant.

“Hello, Mr. Clark,” Agent Morgan with a smile of having won.

Jerry stood next to Agent Morgan, looking very small and very scared. “Andrew, these people said they need to talk to you.”

“I know,” Andrew said, never taking his eyes from Morgan. “It’s okay, Jerry.”

Ducking closer, Jerry hissed, “They brought the police.”

“Andrew, what is it?” Gabi asked from behind him. He wanted to tell her, to explain, but Agent Morgan didn’t give him that chance.

“Mr. Andrew Clark, I have a subpoena here that requests your immediate presence in the Federal Court of Law, Precinct Six.”

“Court?” Gabi gasped. “Andrew, what’s going on?”

Andrew looked only at Morgan. “I need to take care of something first.”

“I don’t have all day, Clark.”

“One minute,” Andrew said not backing down. “Even you can’t be that busy.”

Morgan squared his jaw but slowly nodded. With that, Andrew turned to Gabi, whose face was the color of white chocolate.

“Listen to me, Gabi, I don’t have time to explain.” Andrew dug into his pocket. “Here are the keys to my car. Antonio’s stuff is in there. And here’s Bryan’s number.”

Gabi’s eyes widened as Andrew placed the objects in her hands. “Bryan’s? What? Why?”

“Give him a call. He’ll help you out.”

“Andrew, what’s going on?” she asked in pure panic as her eyes searched his.

“Listen to me.” Andrew put his hands on her arms. “I need you to take care of Antonio. I need you to do that for me. Will you do that?”

“Antonio?” Her eyes widened even further. “Andrew, I...”

“He needs you,” Andrew said with a calm he did not feel. “I’ll be okay, but I need to know that Antonio’s safe. Gabi, will you take care of him for me?”

The concern and determination in him begged her to be there for the child, his child. Finally, she nodded.

“Good,” he said with a rush of relief.


Then he let her go, and for a moment, Gabi thought her legs wouldn’t hold her up. She watched as he turned and knelt by the child who suddenly had fear written in his eyes again. “Antonio, I have to go with these guys for a while, but Gabi’s going to take care of you while I’m gone. You be a good boy for her. Okay? Can you do that for me?”

Through the fear, the tiny head nodded.


“Great. I knew I could count on you.” Andrew pulled the little boy into a hug. He felt Antonio’s grip tighten around his neck, and for a second he considered simply giving Morgan the information he wanted. But he knew he couldn’t do that — mostly because of Antonio. A boy should be able to respect his father’s integrity and know that his father’s word is unbreakable. “You be good, and I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

He pulled the little boy away from him and stood. Then carefully he pushed Antonio over to her. “Take care of him, Gabi, he needs you,” Andrew said with only the slightest trace of fear in his voice.


I need you
! her head screamed as she searched his face for answers to the questions bombarding her.

“And take care of yourself, too,” he said softly, and then he bent and quickly kissed her cheek. “I’ve got to go.”

Gabi stood in stunned, unmoving shock, unable to get anything rational to form in her head.

With no more than that, Andrew opened the door and walked out into the hallway. “Okay, Morgan, I’m ready.”


Morgan nodded, and the officer next to him escorted Andrew outside. He was led to a waiting police car where he was handcuffed, and he wondered briefly as he was deposited in the back how much trouble they’d expected from him. He sighed and glanced out of the car window, and his last glimpse of the center was through the bars of the police cruiser as it drove out of the parking lot.


Gabi’s thoughts were in turmoil, but she knew she had to get it together for the children’s sake if nothing else.

“You gonna be all right?” Jerry asked, concerned.

Gabi nodded, but the shock and the worry were knotted across her brow and choking across her heart. Just then she heard the whimper behind her, and her senses came back to her.

“Antonio.” Turning, she scooped him up into her arms. “It’s going to be all right, Buddy. I’m not going anywhere, and Andrew will be back soon. I promise.”

Antonio clung to her for dear life, and she could feel his tears on her cheek.
A child
? she thought suddenly as the air whooshed from her lungs. Here she was again faced with the responsibility of caring for a child. Sick or well. Tired or not. All the time. Every day. And she wasn’t at all sure she was up to the challenge.


The irony of the situation was not lost on Andrew as he was led up the steps of the courthouse. How many times had he stood here tape recorder in hand trying to get a statement from the criminal of the day? Pushing forward, scrambling for any comment, any statement, anything to put into print to fill inches in the newspaper. Now here he was being jostled about between the reporters and the uniformed men pulling him forward.

“Any comment, Mr. Clark?” one of the reporters yelled, sticking a mic in his face. Whoever had tipped them off had done a good job.

“Are you going to talk? Are your sources from inside the DA’s office? Any comment?”

They pushed through the doors and onto the marble floor of the courthouse.

“I’ll make a statement in a few minutes,” Andrew heard Morgan say to the reporters, and there was triumph in his tone. “Right now we have an appointment with the judge.”

Andrew was sure the reporters flung more questions, but he couldn’t hear them. The officer nudged him into the elevator, and the doors closed on the chaos outside.

“I’m really sorry about this, Drew,” the officer said, leaning in to him the second the doors closed.

“I know, Ben,” Andrew said calmly. “It’s not your fault.”


“What happens now?” Andrew asked as the elevator slid upward.

“Judge Carson’s waiting for you,” Ben said, never looking anywhere but straight forward.

“Carson. Huh? Just my luck,” Andrew said under his breath.

“Are you gonna talk?”

Andrew silently watched the doors slide open, and he stepped out even before Ben could put a hand on him again. He hated the feeling of being led to the death chamber. Walking alone afforded him at least the semblance of controlling his own destiny, and right now that was as much as he could hope for.


She wondered where he was again. Whatever he had done, it was serious. Jerry had told her the men weren’t ordinary police officers — they were the FBI. Even the letters scared her. She tried to imagine Andrew committing a crime worthy of the FBI, but that thought scared her too.

They had skipped music time. She didn’t have the presence of mind to deal with twenty kids and a piano right now. She was doing good to breathe, to move, to think. She was worried about Antonio, too. He wasn’t talking as much as usual. In fact, he’d barely said two words since Andrew left. That, she was sure, was not a good sign.

If she could just make it another couple of hours, then she could call Bryan, and surely together they could straighten this mess out.


“I take it you know why you’re here, Mr. Clark,” Judge Carson said, staring at him from the high bench of the court over his reading glasses.

Not bowing to the pressure, Andrew lifted his chin. “I think you should know I haven’t spoken with my lawyer yet.”

Carson looked annoyed. “Mr. Morgan?”

“Your Honor.” Morgan stood from the other table. “We had hoped that you could reason with Mr. Clark, and we wouldn’t have to bother his lawyer with this little problem.”

However, that only annoyed Carson even further. “Morgan, I am not interested in interrogating a man who has not had his basic rights met.”

“I appreciate your position, Your Honor. However, with the late hour of this hearing in mind and in order to avoid locking Mr. Clark up for the night pending a hearing tomorrow, I thought it would be in his best interest…”

“We go by the book in my courtroom, Mr. Morgan, and I would thank you to remember that in the future.”

“Yes, Your Honor,” Morgan said, and Andrew heard the ring of triumph sound once again in his voice. He’d planned this. Now Andrew definitely had to spend the night in jail. Pending a hearing tomorrow? Who did he think he was kidding? The judge obviously.

“Take Mr. Clark over to county, and let him call his lawyer. We’ll resume this hearing at nine o’clock tomorrow morning.” Judge Carson banged the gavel, jangling Andrew’s nerves. He stood there helplessly and watched the judge depart.

“Come on, Andrew,” Ben said, taking a hold of him and pushing him out into the aisle.

“Tough break, Clark,” Morgan sneered, and Andrew thought he was lucky his hands were cuffed, or they might have to add assault to his charges.


“Hey, anybody seen Mr. C?” Irvin asked, scanning the gym.

“He’s not coming today,” James said with a knowing tone.

“Not coming? Why not?”

“Didn’t you hear? He got arrested.”

That slammed Irvin backward. “Arrested? Mr. C? Come on.”

“It’s true. Kelly has late lunch, and she saw them putting him into the police car out front. Who would’ve thought it? Mr. Clark a common criminal.”


“Bryan,” Andrew said into the phone, trying not to let the fatigue or the panic get to him, “I need your help.”

“Gabi?” Bryan asked clearly knowing the instant he heard Andrew’s voice that something was terribly wrong.

“No, well, yes, and no.” Andrew leaned against the hard cinderblock wall and let out a long breath. “I need your legal help.”

“Legal help? What do you mean? What’s going on?”

“I’ve been arrested.”


Gabi’s nerves were fried. She snapped at Shaniquille for dropping clay on the floor, and it wasn’t until she saw the tears pool in the little girl’s eyes that she caught herself. Of course she apologized, but she knew the damage had already been done.

However, no matter how hard she tried, her mind wouldn’t stay in the classroom. She was a wreck, and she knew it.


“Would you mind telling me what’s going on?” Bryan asked with not even an ounce of patience or kindness the moment the heavy metal door closed behind the guard.

Andrew sat at the table, looking at his hands, only glancing up because the look of disappointment on his brother’s face was enough to weigh him all the way into the ground and keep him there. “You knew I was the one who broke the DA story?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, they want my sources and the tapes, and everything else I have. I guess the investigation’s gone dry, and they need the information I have to make their case.”

At least some of the disappointment slid from his brother. “That’s not good.”

“No, it’s not. Listen, Bryan, I’m not going to rat out my sources,” Andrew said, but it was a fight to hang onto his courage. “Is there any way you can get me out of here tonight?”

Bryan shook his head slowly. “They knew you’d sit here tonight if the judge couldn’t make a ruling today,” said Bryan. “I’m afraid you’re stuck here ‘til morning.”

“How long could I be here?”

“If you don’t talk and barring a miracle? A very long time.”


The second the last parent picked up the last child and she and Antonio were left alone, Gabi took his hand and led him down to Jerry’s office. With shaking fingers she dialed the number and waited.

“This is Bryan Clark. I can’t come to the phone right now,” she heard the machine say, and her heart sank.
Do it, Gabi. Be strong. Don’t let Andrew down now.

“Bryan, this is Gabi. I’m at the center right now. The number here is 555-2634. Please give me a call as soon as you get this message,” she said quickly and hung up the phone. She looked over at Antonio sitting in the chair, and she knew she had to be strong for him too even if what she really wanted to do was break down into a puddle of mush on the floor. “Hey, Buddy. How you doing?”

“Are they going to hurt Andrew?” Antonio asked, fear filling his voice.

“No, Sweetheart, they won’t hurt him. I’m sure they just want to talk to him about something.”

BOOK: And the Greatest of These Is Love: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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