DISCLAIMER: Charlie's Angels and its characters are the property of Spelling-Goldberg Productions. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to the P&P chat group for the nun idea. I believe this particular prompt came from cabenson. atfm, you’re truly a saint for betaing these many, many days.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Tenth Day of Christmas
"You want us to go where?" Sabrina's eyebrows rose to her hairline.
"The Sisters of Good Mercy's Convent." Bosley reached for a file and offered it to the angel. "Someone's trying to blackmail the good Sisters."
"Nuns?" Kelly glanced over Sabrina's shoulder. "What could somebody possibly hope to gain from blackmailing nuns? And better yet, what in the world could a nun have done that would warrant being blackmailed?"
Bosley pointed to the file. "That's what you'll need to find out, Angels. The Reverend Mother wasn't exactly forthcoming with that bit of information, but if you read the second paragraph, you'll see why they're being blackmailed."
Sabrina whistled aloud. "The convent is located right smack dab in the middle of the plans for that new shopping center."
"And, if the Perkins Corporation doesn't acquire the convent, the entire plan will have to be scrapped. The church has turned down their latest offer, so Charlie believes someone from the corporation is responsible. The Bishop has asked for our help. The Reverend Mother and the rest of the convent are completely unaware of our plans."
Sabrina glanced over at Kelly and nodded. "Okay, Bos, but I'm not becoming a Catholic."
"Jesus, how in the world do nuns stand wearing these habits, day in and day out?" Sabrina pushed a loose strand of hair under her wimple.
Kelly laughed. "Well, He would definitely be the one to ask."
Sabrina shook her head. "Very funny, Kelly. Now, let's get to the bottom of this before Christmas. I don't want to be around here for midnight mass."
"C'mon, Bree, we're going to be late for vespers."
Sabrina shuffled out of the room, trying to keep from tripping over her robes. "I've been meaning to ask, what exactly is vespers?"
"You'll see," Kelly replied with a large smile.
The pair rounded the corner and slid into the pew next to the ten kneeling nuns, their heads bowed in prayer. Sabrina mimicked the pose but kept her eyes only half closed so that she could survey the area. All the nuns appeared to be in deep meditation, even Kelly. Sabrina shrugged and closed her eyes.
An hour later, an elbow to her side woke the sleeping angel. "Bree, wake up. It's time to go back to our cells."
Sabrina pushed to her feet, resisting the urge to rub her aching knees. "There's something very wrong about referring to sleeping chambers as cells."
Kelly smiled and slowly followed the rest of the nuns back to their respective cells, bidding Sabrina goodnight at the entrance to her cell. Sabrina shifted her gaze left and right before entering hers, which was located next to Kelly's. Closing the door, she stared at the small twin bed in the corner.
Around midnight, a scratching sound woke Sabrina from a fitful sleep. She lay in bed and tried to pinpoint the exact location of the noise. A small light shone from behind the air conditioning vent, and Sabrina watched as something was pushed close to its edge. She kept her eyes partially closed and waited until the light moved away before rising from her bed. Squinting into the darkness, she could barely make out the lens of a camera. She crawled back into bed and pulled up the covers. Either someone was onto her or they wanted to keep a close eye on the newest nun.
Kelly took her breakfast plate and nodded her thanks to the cook. The older nun just scowled at her and grabbed up another plate to hand to the trailing Sabrina. Glancing around the small eating area, Kelly moved to a vacant table on the far end of the room. Ten pairs of eyes followed her progress.
"We seem to be the talk of the convent," Kelly whispered, taking a sip of her orange juice.
"That's not all. Someone's spying on us. They placed a camera in my A/C vent last night, so I'm assuming they did the same in yours."
Kelly's head snapped towards her colleague. "Spying?" Realizing she'd spoken louder than she'd intended, she smiled at the glaring nuns and lowered her voice. "Someone saw me naked?"
Sabrina was thankful that she'd already swallowed her juice because she imagined it would be quite difficult to remove the sticky stain from the black robes. Oh, what she wouldn't give to be on the receiving end of that camera.
"Sorry I couldn't warn you, but I was afraid someone would see me sneaking into your cell. You'd already left when I knocked this morning, so I hurried after you." Sabrina took a bite of the hard as nails toast and made a face. "They must use week old bread."
"Is something the matter, Sister Mary Bonaventure?"
Sabrina never saw the older nun approach. She briefly wondered what other skills these nuns had.
"Oh no, Sister Clarence, I was just enjoying breakfast."
Sister Clarence glared. "Well, just so you know, conversation is frowned upon in the dining hall. It would be best to limit your conversation to the area just outside the back doors."
"Sorry, Sister, we weren't aware of your convent's rules." Kelly smiled, but the facial expression on the older nun remained unchanged.
"Now you know." Turning, Sister Clarence walked away without another word.
"This place gives me the creeps," Sabrina dared to speak under her breath.
Kelly didn't reply, she just patted Sabrina's hand and continued to eat her breakfast.
"We're never going to get anywhere with these nuns. No one is talking." Sabrina paced underneath the huge oak tree just outside the walls of the convent.
"Someone has to know something, Bree; we just have to bide our time and try to get closer to one of them."
"Good luck with that. I've never seen a meaner bunch of holy women in my entire life."
A shadow moved into Sabrina's space. "Good afternoon, Sisters."
Sabrina almost jumped out of her habit. She was now convinced that the entire group of nuns had gone through Navy Seals' training.
"Sister Immaculata, how are you today?" Kelly moved between Sabrina and the other nun to give her colleague a chance to regain her composure.
"Very fine, thank you, Sister Angelica."
"Is there something we can do for you?" Sabrina stepped next to Kelly and forced a smile.
The nun glanced over her shoulder and then turned back to address the two 'nuns.' "I know you're not really nuns."
Kelly tilted her head in question. "Of course, we're nuns."
"No, my dears, you're not. I've been watching you. You, Sister Mary Bonaventure, didn't recite your prayers at vespers, and you, Sister Angelica, didn't know all the words to the recitations. And, this morning at breakfast, neither of you said grace before you consumed your breakfast."
"We're from a very different order, Sister." Sabrina kept her cool, knowing they couldn't afford to have their cover blown.
"And what order would that be? The Sisters of Don't Know the First Thing About Being a Nun?"
Kelly laughed aloud and then desperately tried to control her giggles.
"I'm sorry, Sister; you're absolutely correct in your assessment. We're private detectives hired to find out who's trying to blackmail the convent."
Sabrina glared at Kelly. She couldn't believe that Kelly had given them up so easily.
"I thought as much." Sister Immaculata glanced back at the convent once again. "Could I interest you two in a stroll around the grounds? There are fewer ears along the way."
Kelly smiled at the nun, gesturing along the path. "Lead the way, Sister."
Sister Immaculata nodded and started down the sidewalk. Kelly and Sabrina quickly moved into step alongside the nun.
"A month ago, a businessman came to the convent with a most generous offer for the land. Reverend Mother refused outright, and the man kept showing up each day, upping the offer. Finally, he gave up and went directly to the Bishop, who also refused his money. After that, we started receiving threatening letters, warning that if we didn't sell the land, then the convent would suffer a scandal it would never recover from. We have until Christmas Day to agree to the original offer."
"That's next week." Kelly paused, and then asked, "Has there been any clue as to what the scandal could possibly be?"
"No, just that every one of us will be excommunicated from the church." Sister Immaculata's steps faltered. "The church is our calling; they can't take that away from us."
Sabrina placed her hand on the nun's arm. "They won't, Sister, I promise you that."
"Bless you, my child. We pray everyday that this burden will pass us by. I just hope that you're the answer to those prayers."
Sabrina walked along the sidewalk and veered towards the main gates, checking over her shoulder to be certain that no one was following. She spied Bosley's car and made a beeline towards it.
"Bosley, I need you to find out if there are any outside workers at the convent. Then, I need you to cross-reference their hire dates. We're interested in anyone who came on in the last month."
Bosley opened a file and handed it to the angel. "I brought everything I had just in case you needed something. I believe there's a list in the file."
Sabrina flipped through the pages and pulled free the one containing the worker list. There was only one person who'd been hired within the last month, Peter Bell.
"Bosley, find out about this Peter Bell. See if he has any ties to the Perkins Corporation. I'll talk to Sister Immaculata; she may know something about him."
Sabrina returned the file and spoke loud enough for any eavesdropper to hear. "No thank you, Sir; we're not in need of any insurance at this time, but you can make an appointment with the Reverend Mother if you'd like." Winking, she turned back towards the convent grounds.
Kelly met her just outside the back door. "I think I may have something, Bree. The maintenance man is new."
Sabrina smiled. "Peter Bell?"
"How'd you know?" Kelly whispered, grabbing Sabrina by the arm to pull her away from the door.
"Bosley had the files with him. I knew it had to be someone with access to the A/C vents. The pervert's sneaking back in and placing cameras all over the convent. I have a feeling that these nuns are about to grace the cover of some magazine, and I'm not talking Nuns Today."
"How can they be excommunicated for having their picture taken involuntarily?"
"Oh, I'm sure they'll make it look provocative in some way. We've got to find Peter Bell and find out everything he knows."
"Sister Immaculata said he's repairing the kitchen sink today." Kelly turned back towards the convent.
"Let's see if we can help him unclog the problem."
The two 'nuns' headed directly for the kitchen. A few minutes later, they found a man, lying on his back with his head inside the cabinet. Sabrina smiled.
"Peter Bell? Care to tell us about your camera skills?" Sabrina moved to one side of the prone man while Kelly stood on the other. A loud thud sounded in the room; he'd hit his head on the underside of the cabinet.
"Hey, watch your language!" Sabrina kicked the man in the shin, and then placed her foot in the center of his chest.
"Mr. Bell, if you don't explain every single little detail of this blackmailing scheme, my fellow nun, Sister Angelica, is going to turn on the faucet."
"Hey! Don't do that, I've removed the pipe from the drain."
Sabrina smiled. "I know."
"I'm not afraid of two nuns." Bell tried to slide out of the cabinet, but Sabrina's foot held him in place.
"Go ahead, Sister." Sabrina grinned.
"Wait! Just let me out."
Sabrina nodded at Kelly and removed her foot. By the time Bell had shimmied out from under the sink, he found two guns pointed at him.
"Nuns with guns?"
"We're from a very progressive order." Sabrina grinned. "Now, my friends from the police department will be here soon, so if you don't want to take the rap alone, you'd better start singing."
Two angels sat just outside the large cathedral. Sabrina looked at the church and then back at Kelly. "I don't know about this, Kelly."
Kelly removed her hand from the car's steering wheel and slid it into her lover's. "You promised you'd come to midnight mass with me on Christmas Eve."
"Kelly, I'm not a very religious person."
Kelly smiled and squeezed Sabrina's hand. "I know, Bree, that's why it means so much to me."
"Isn't it enough that we finally admitted our feelings for each other?"
"Yes, but I'd really like to go to Mass. And, I'd really like it if you went with me."
Sabrina broke her gaze from her new lover and glanced towards the church. The last few days had been wonderful, just as she'd dreamt they would be. Perhaps it was time to give thanks. If nothing else, at least she could grant Kelly her wish.
"Okay, let's go." Sabrina reached for the door handle.
Once inside, Kelly led Sabrina to the back row and pulled her into the pew. Sabrina sat down on the padded bench while Kelly made the sign of the cross and knelt on the kneeler. Sabrina stared down at her hands and waited for Kelly to finish her prayers.
A motion caught Sabrina's eye, and she looked over to her left to find the nuns from the convent, kneeling in prayer. The ten nuns appeared exactly as they had during vespers, each so intent on her prayer. She briefly wondered how someone could have so much faith.
As she turned back to face the front of the church, she caught the closest nun's eye. Sister Immaculata looked right at her and winked. Sabrina smiled at the nun and then bowed her head. If tens nuns praying so strongly to be saved had worked, then perhaps her prayers would be answered as well.
A loving life with Kelly was definitely worth the effort.
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