Thanks everyone. I'm old enough to know that sometimes NOT getting what you want turns out to be the best thing, in the long run.
The recruiter told me that it was a very hard decision and that they want to stay in touch with me for future opportunities. So, I guess I finished 2d. Sigh.
The silver lining is that thanks to my hard work these past 5 months, one of the partners has brought me into his book of business and begun treating me as if I'm his associate. He introduces me to his contacts, takes me on client meetings, gives me important projects, gives me not just the billable work but also credit for the $ generated by the client (i.e. he makes me "Matter Supervising" attorney), and advocates for me within the firm. In return, I prioritize his work (even unbillable) above all other projects, introduce him to my contacts, and make him "Matter Billing" attorney for every file that I have the authority to do that with. We're planning to co-author some articles. He is a really fine human being -- generous, patient, kind, and affirming. He knew I expected an offer (even told me to take it, if it comes) and jokingly told me not to go work for Partner at Other firm because "he's about to be indicted."
When I got the news yesterday, I told him right away. He said he was very sorry for my disappointment but also very grateful for entirely selfish reasons. He said he needs me and that what we've got to do now is position me within the firm so that I move to his group (out of Real Estate) as an associate. We discussed a strategy for that. As the conversation wrapped up and I rose to leave, he looked me in the eyes and said "You're smart, talented, and very likeable. I believe in you."
Well, I'll be damned. Let's just see what the next six months brings....