A Nun Walks into a Bar
Tracey Jane Jackson
After growing up in an abbey, orphan Sadie Ross becomes Sister Abigail Eunice. Her life and career are on track until a chance meeting with a handsome stranger in a place no nun should ever go.
Ryder Carsenâs sister is missing, and he doesnât have time for distractions. But when a pretty nun walks into his bar, he canât ignore his attraction to her, even though sheâs not the âsisterâ heâs looking for. Heâs relieved when she walks out of his life for what he believes is forever.
Sadieâs life takes a surprising detour when she finds her path crossed with Ryderâs once again. When they are brought back together, Ryder knows heâs found the only woman heâll ever love, but time is running out for his sister.
Will Ryder save his sister from the men who took her?
When a source far too close to home threatens Sadie, will she trust Ryder enough to let him save her too?
Sister Abigail Eunice
I HAVE BEEN told I look like Mila Kunis, and youâd think this was a good thing, but in my line of work, itâs more of a hindrance. You see, Iâm a nun. Admittedly, Iâm not a very good one, but nonetheless, I am, in fact, a nun.
Which (in a very roundabout way) led me to a tiny, hole-in-the wall bar at the edge of the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon, on a quiet Wednesday night.
I was supposed to be meeting my friend, Laura, for dinner, but as I stepped off the MAX, I realized Iâd gotten off at the wrong stop and, as was my luck, the small wet sprinkle coming from the sky quickly turned into a downpour.
âWell, crap!â I slapped a hand over my mouth and mumbled, âSorry, Lord.â
Seriously, I was the worst nun ever.
Unsure of which street I was on, I took shelter under an awning next to a building with a frog motif, but no other identifying information. Frustrated, I fished my phone out of my purse and tried to figure out where I was. I had a missed call from Laura, and a new voicemail, which I could only guess meant she wouldnât be able to make it.
âHey, lady. Iâm so sorry, Iâm stuck at work and I canât get down to the Pearl for another hour. Do you still want me to try or do you want to resched?â Yes, she said, âresched.â âAnyhoo, text me and let me know what you want to do. Love ya, âbye.â
Laura Chan was my oldest friend. She was actually the only one who knew me before the nunnery, and therefore knew me as Sadie Ross, not Sister Abigail Eunice. Lauraâs parents had moved from China, and into the house next door, the summer before second grade. Sheâd spoken very little English, but we still managed to communicate and we roamed the neighborhood, inseparable until my parentsâ death. I adored her, even though she wasnât always reliable. Ever hopeful, however, I always gave people the benefit of the doubt, so here I stood, only slightly protected from the pouring rain. And it was pouring. I fired off a quick text to Laura, pressing send... just as my phone died.
âOh, holy mother ofââ I pulled my sweater closer around me and stepped toward the buildingâs entrance so I could warm up and perhaps borrow a phone, but just as I moved away from the wall, something came loose from above, dropping a bucketâs worth of collected water on my head. I let out a quiet squeak and pulled off my now soaked veil, yanking open the heavy wooden door and slipping inside.
âID,â a gruff voice demanded.
I nodded even though I couldnât see anything in the dark space, reaching into my purse and pulling out my Oregon ID.
A large hand swiped it from me then handed it back. âSister Abigail, you look lost.â
I let out a snort. âYou have no idea. Iâm stranded and my phone died.â
âRyder can call you a cab.â
âOwner.â He nodded toward the back of the building. âHeâs at the bar.â
âDo I really need to go to the bar?â I asked.
âLady, heâs got the number for the only cab company he trusts and if I let you leave in one from a company he doesnât trust, heâll be pissed.â
I gave him a look of mock concern. âThat sounds serious.â
Bouncer dude chuckled. âYeah, heâs got this weird thing about sweet women being protected.â
âWhat about women who arenât sweet?â I challenged.
âThose too.â The bouncer laughed. âBut the sweet ones always seem to get special treatment.â
I smiled. âOkay, Iâll head to the bar.â
I walked past the pool tables, dartboards, and a jukebox playing something with a heavy drumbeat next to the bar, the counter of which ran the length of the building. There werenât a whole lot of patrons, just a few who looked as though they paid weekly rent for their stools. However, I was surprised by the heart motifs hanging and taped up in a few key places. I guess it made sense... Valentineâs Day was tomorrow, so the bar was probably getting ready.
A tall man with his back to me turned and I felt sucker punched. Like, as in, the breath left my body.
His light-blue eyes met mine and seemed to peer into my soul. I froze, unable to take one more step under the weight of his scrutiny. He crossed his arms, keeping eye contact, and I was drawn into his tractor beam-like pull. I inched forward, one baby step at a time, taking in his light-blond hair, a full beardânot quite Portland hipster full, but still sexy-as-heck full. When my gaze landed on his lips he gave me this incredibly delicious sideways smirk, and Lord help me, I wanted him to kiss me.
See? Worst nun ever.
âYou lost, Sister?â
âHow did you know Iâm a nun?â Without my veil, most people just threw pitiful glances at my clothes as though I didnât know how to dress in anything fashionable. I wore a sturdy black wool dress, black tights, and a gray button-up cardigan.
âCouple years of Catholic school. âCourse, I never saw a nun who looked like you, but itâs your shoes that give you away. Itâs always the shoes.â
âOh.â I bit my lip, glancing at my feet. âWell, you got that right. They call them sensible... I call them ugly.â
âNot touchinâ that one.â Ryder smiled. âYou need directions?â
I shook my head. âIâm that tale of woe, Iâm afraid. My friend couldnât make our dinner date and my phone died.â
âYou need a cab?â
âYes, but do you mind if I just warm up for a minute?â
âYou want some tea?â
I couldnât stop a huge smile of relief as I sat on one of the stools. âI would love some tea.â
âGive me your phone and Iâll charge it for you.â
âNo, thatâs okay.â I waved my hand dismissively. âI doubt youâll have a charger that works.â
He chuckled. âYouâd be surprised.â
I pulled out my six-year-old flip phone and slid it to him.
âRight,â he said.
âSolve that one,â I retorted with a giggle.
âOh, you donât think I can?â He pulled open a drawer next to the cash register. After testing several cords against my phone, he let out a, âGotcha!â and faced me again, plugging my phone into the wall. âFound one.â
âHow is that even possible?â
He laughed. âWe never throw anything away and people leave shiâah, stuff here all the time.â
I raised my hands and gave him quiet applause. âWell done, sir. Well done.â
He grinned and handed me a cup of hot water and a couple of tea bags. I was pleasantly surprised to see he had my favorite licorice flavor and steeped it in the water while Ryder went about his business.
âYou look like youâre gearing up for Valentineâs Day,â I said, and sipped my tea.
Ryder shook his head. âNot my choice.â
âArenât you the owner?â
He chuckled. âDoesnât mean Iâm not ruled by my patrons.â
âAh, so not a romantic, then.â
âJust think men should show their women they love âem every day... not wait for one day out of the year. The whole holiday is a farce, in my opinion.â
I smiled. Maybe he was a romantic.
As he freshened my hot water, I wondered what my fellow sisters would think about the predicament Iâd gotten myself into. Granted, they rarely left the abbey, but they also didnât have jobs like I did.
Being a fourth-grade teacher and working for the Catholic school next to our living quarters was a perfect setup for me. Lately, however, Iâd been feeling restless and I know Reverend Mother noticed. In fact, I had a meeting with her in the morning and it sounded serious, so being late or tired would not be an option. Perhaps my ill-fated evening was cut short for a very good reason. Mother always says God works in mysterious ways.
âYou ready for that cab?â
Ryderâs question pulled me from my thoughts and I smiled, shaking my head. âIs it okay if I stick around for a little bit?â
âKnock yourself out.â He glanced at his watch. âBut youâre outta here within the hour. It gets a little rowdy at night.â
âYour bouncer warned me about you.â
I wrapped my hands around the cup, warming them. âHe said youâre very protective of women.â
He glanced behind me and then met my eyes again. âBennie talks too much.â
âMaybe so.â I shrugged and then sipped my tea again.
âWhat do people call you other than âSisterâ?â
âNothing. Iâm Sister Abigail Eunice. Although my parents named me Sadie.â
Now why did I share that? I hadnât used my real name in years.
He leaned against the bar. âPretty.â
My breath caught. âMy parents thought so,â I said once I could speak again.
âBut not you?â
âNo, I like it fine. I guess I donât really think about my name much.â I shrugged. âMy students call me Sister and I donât have many friends outside of... well, outside.â I shook my head. âGosh, that sounds so narrow.â
Ryder grinned. âSheltered perhaps.â
âThatâs very gracious, Ryder.â
He cocked his head. âNever been called gracious before.â
Elbow on the bar, I settled my chin in my palm. âThat surprises me.â
âOf course it does. Youâre a nun.â
âYouâre gracious to everyone, so you assume others will be gracious as well.â
âIâm not gracious to everyone. Iâm a nun, not perfect.â
Ryder shrugged. âFair enough.â
âI should go.â
âProbably a good idea.â He grabbed his cell phone and put it to his ear. âHey. Got time to drop someone home?â He faced me. âWhere do you live?â
âBeaverton. Great. Yeah, five minutes works. Thanks.â Ryder hung up and slid his phone back in his pocket.
âYouâre pretty friendly with the cab company, huh?â I took the last swig of tea and set the cup down.
âOne of my guys is taking you home.â
âI thought you were calling me a cab.â
âCanât let a nun pay the cab fare all the way to Beaverton.â
I frowned. âYou donât think I can pay for cab fare?â
âNot what I said, Sister.â
âWow, you really take this whole I-am-man-hear-me-roar stuff, to a whole ânother level, huh?â
His gaze went to something (or someone) behind me and he nodded. âRideâs here.â
I decided not to argue; probably because it would do absolutely no good, and slid off my stool. âThanks for the tea.â
Somehow, him calling me âSisterâ felt lacking. I took a deep breath. Lordy, I was ridiculous... and I probably needed to confess, but I knew I wouldnât.
Again, worst nun award goes to...
Ryder grabbed my phone and stepped out from behind the bar. âMy numberâs in there if you need anything.â
âWhat would I need?â I asked, and took the phone from him.
He shrugged. âYou never know, Sister. Itâs a resource. Feel free to use it.â
What a strange thing to say.
âThanks for everything, Ryder,â I said, leaving my internal thoughts in my head.
âNo problem.â He nodded toward his friend. âThis is Reese. Heâs gonna take you home.â
Reese was tall, dark, and handsome as they say, but he had an edge about him that made me a little nervous. His hair was longer than Ryderâs and kind of shaggy, and he was quite muscular. I was fairly confident he wouldnât hurt me, but had I met him under different circumstances, I might have declined a ride.
A warm hand settled on my back and I felt a shiver steal down my spine.
âYou okay, Sister?â he asked.
âYouâre safe with him, yeah? You have any issues, you call me.â
âOkay.â I stepped away from his touch and forced a smile. âReese, itâs lovely to meet you. Thank you for the ride.â
âNo problem.â He waved his hand toward the door. âThis way.â
With a backward glance and smile to Ryder, I followed Reese out to the car, grateful he wasnât a big talker. Our conversation consisted of him asking me for my address and me giving it to him. The rest of the ride strictly featured me gripping the door handle (as was my habit). I hated cars and avoided them whenever I could.
It didnât take long to arrive at the rectory and I thanked Reese and climbed out of the car, a little taken aback when he followed. âIâm fine from here.â
âRyderâd kick my aârear if I didnât make sure you made it inside safely.â
âRight, his protection fetish.â
Reese chuckled but didnât comment.
I led him up the brick walkway and to the back of the building where I unlocked the door and stepped inside. âThanks again for the ride.â
âMy pleasure, Sister. Have a good night.â
He walked away, and I closed and locked the door.
New York Times Bestselling Author, Tracey Jane Jackson, was born and raised in New Zealand, and that's where her love of horses was formed. Her grandfather taught her to ride at four years old, and she couldn't get enough.
Her love and passion for Abraham Lincoln and the entire Civil War era might have come from her American father, however, he lays no claim to influencing her. Tracey's mother used to tell her she was simply born in the wrong place in the wrong time.
Tracey hasn't always wanted to write. It took her a long time to get started, but now she doesn't seem to be able to stop, the joy of escaping to the 1860s is too much fun.
She's been happily married and gooey in love with her husband for more than twenty years. They live in the Pacific Northwest with their two sons.
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