If there is one thing Christian Ropp will not allow in his classroom—or his life—it’s chaos. So why is he drawn to Ruby Glick, a woman who seems to bring mayhem wherever she goes?
Christian Ropp moves to Birch Creek to accept a teaching position in the rapidly growing Amish community. He’s determined to put the rambunctious school in order as well as check another task off his list: finding a wife. Of course, that would be much easier if women were like textbooks, straightforward and logical.
When an accident puts Christian out of commission, a new community member named Ruby Glick takes over his classroom. But Ruby’s exuberant teaching style clashes with Christian's careful methods and he worries his students will never be the same.
With a track record of catastrophe, Ruby always feels too clumsy, too distracted, too . . . much. Desperate for a chance to prove that she can do more than make mistakes in her life, she throws herself into her new teaching position. But when Christian can’t seem to stay out of her way, she finds herself slipping into old, chaotic tendencies.
What she doesn’t anticipate is that Christian's heart is slowly catching up with his mind—and she, too, must decide whether to follow logic or love.
- The first in the Amish Brides of Birch Creek series (followed by The Farmer’s Bride and The Innkeeper’s Bride)
- A full-length novel, approximately 78,000 words
- A sweet and wholesome Amish romance
- Catch up on the Birch Creek community with the Amish of Birch Creek series and Amish Letters series
Praise for The Teacher’s Bride:
"A heartwarming story of unexpected romance woven with fun and engaging characters who come to life on every page." Amy Clipston, bestselling author of A Seat by the Hearth
"Kathleen Fuller has written a sweet, oftentimes humorous, romance that reminds readers that the perfect match might be right in front of their noses." Kelly Irvin, bestselling author of the Every Amish Season series
"Kathleen Fuller is a master storyteller and fans will absolutely fall in love with Ruby and Christian in The Teacher's Bride." Ruth Reid, bestselling author of the Amish Mercies series
"Kathy Fuller's characters leap off the page with subtle power as she uses both wit and wisdom to entertain!" Kelly Long, national bestselling author
"The story will captivate you from the first page to the last with Ruby, Christian, and engaging characters. You’ll laugh, gasp, and wonder what will happen next." Molly Jebber, Speaker and Award Winning Author of Grace’s Forgiveness and the Amish Keepsake Pocket Quilt Series
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I can't believe she came here without letting us know ahead of time."
Ruby Glick paced outside on the front porch. She doubted her older brother, Timothy, and his wife, Patience, realized she could hear their conversation through the screened windows — a conversation about her. Maybe he shouldn't have told her, in a kind but firm way, to wait outside while he and Patience talked.
"Timothy," Patience said, her voice gentle and one hundred percent a reflection of her name. "You're not making much sense. I don't understand why you don't want yer schwester to stay with us."
"Favorite schwester," Ruby whispered. And only schwester, but that was a technicality.
Timothy paused long enough for Ruby to hear a woodpecker drilling in the distance. "Patience, I love Ruby, but she's a walking disaster. Which means a whole lot of problems for us."
Uh oh. Ruby recognized the firmness in his voice. This was Timothy when he was standing his ground. She chewed on the inside of her lip and brushed against a stray fallen leaf with the toe of her black sneaker. This wasn't a good sign. Not at all. Not to mention her feelings were a little hurt. Yes, she'd been called a walking disaster before. And yes, it wasn't far from the truth. But that didn't mean she liked hearing it spoken behind her back.
"I can't believe you mean that, Timothy," Patience said, sounding surprised.
Ruby backed away from the window. Maybe she should have written to Timothy before she arrived unannounced on his doorstep ten minutes ago. That would have been the polite thing to do. But since she'd made her decision to come to Birch Creek only yesterday, there wouldn't have been enough time for him to receive a letter from Lancaster. That, and of course the fact that she couldn't wait to get here.
She tugged on her index finger. If Timothy didn't let her stay here for a while, it would ruin her plan. And her plan was perfect, if she said so herself. Unfortunately, she hadn't been in Birch Creek very long before her brother hurled a monkey wrench into it.
She sighed. She didn't want to trouble anyone, except trouble was her middle name according to her parents, Timothy, and more than a few people back home. But not anymore. She straightened her shoulders as she heard Timothy's dairy cows lowing in the pasture behind the house. She was different now. As of twelve hours ago, she had turned over a new leaf. Somehow, she would convince her brother that was the truth.
The front door opened, and she swirled around, hopeful. Timothy scowled at her, shoved his hat onto his head, and took off for the barn. Ruby's shoulders slumped.
Patience walked out behind him and put her hand on Ruby's arm. "This isn't like Timothy."
Ruby glanced at her. "When it comes to me, it is."
Patience gave her an encouraging smile. "I'll geh talk to him some more. While I do that, you can put yer things in the spare bedroom."
"Are you sure?" Ruby said, brightening. There was hope after all.
"Positive." The expression in Patience's gentle brown eyes grew resolute as she opened the front door. "You're our familye, and you're staying here in our home. That's final."
Impressed, Ruby grinned. She hadn't thought Patience would be the kind of wife to go against her husband's wishes. Ruby didn't exactly endorse that behavior, but since Timothy was being unreasonable, she was glad Patience saw it her way. She threw her arms around her sister-in-law. "Danki, Patience. I promise I won't cause any trouble."
Patience smiled. "Of course you won't." She glanced at the barn, and then at Ruby. "Will you keep an eye on the kinner while I geh talk to him? They're down for their naps, but Tobias might wake up in a few minutes."
"Of course." She opened the screen door, careful to make sure it didn't slam behind her, and went inside. She loved her nephews and hadn't seen them for a few months, not since Timothy and his family last visited Lancaster. One of the perks of coming here was that she could spend time with the little boys.
Ruby took her suitcase upstairs. Timothy's house wasn't that big, and she had been here a few times before, although the last time had been three years ago. She started to set the suitcase on the spare room bed, but then paused. Should she unpack now? Despite Patience's assurances, she wasn't sure if Timothy would relent. Lord, change his mind, please.
She set the suitcase on the floor, making sure she was quiet. She slipped off her shoes and went into the hallway. She'd passed Tobias and Luke's room a few moments earlier. Maybe she should peek in on them. When it came to children, she was confident, and at twenty she'd had plenty of babysitting experience.
When she looked inside their room, she smiled. Oh, her nephews were so sweet. Luke, of course, was still in a crib, and Tobias lay on a small bed. A wooden baby gate stretched across the threshold, much like the one she and Timothy had when they were young. Of course, Timothy never tried to escape his crib or his bedroom, like Ruby had. She was the reason for the baby gate. As their mother had said time and time again, Ruby had been the difficult child.
She bit her lip and stepped back from the bedroom, not wanting to wake her sleeping nephews. Her heart pinched, but she ignored the familiar feeling, as she had so many times over the years. It wasn't as if her parents were wrong. Problems did seem to follow her no matter what she did and despite her best intentions. But she was an adult now, and something had to change. Or rather, someone. She had to learn how to be better. To be more acceptable. To be like Timothy and everyone else she knew. And the way to start that transformation was to get married.
At least that was what Ruby had decided. There was a bit of a glitch, though. Although she was ready to find a husband, the single men in her community weren't exactly lining up to propose. That also hurt her feelings a bit, but she had somewhat of a reputation back home. Not a salacious one, though. Just the thought of having that type of reputation made her face heat. But she'd been in enough scrapes and caused enough complications that the men stayed far away.
The lack of matrimonial contenders sparked the idea of coming to Birch Creek. It was a thriving community. It was also full of young men who knew her only as Timothy's little sister. She fully intended to use their lack of awareness to her advantage.
She slid down the wall next to the children's bedroom until she was seated on the floor. Then she pulled her knees to her chest, resting her chin on them. She'd had plenty of time to think on the bus ride here from Lancaster. Plenty of time to puzzle out how she was going to land a husband. Also plenty of time to suspect that this might not be the best way to go about it. But she had never been one to sit back and wait for something to happen. Perhaps that tendency also needed further consideration, but right now she was too excited about her plan. After all, it was the first time she had a plan about anything. If she followed it, she was certain she would have a potential husband candidate by Christmas. Or at least a date. Maybe I should concentrate on that first.
Ruby smiled. Yes, she would prove to herself and everyone that she had finally matured into a responsible, sensible adult. They would no longer see her as a walking disaster, leaving chaos in her wake. It was time to introduce the new Ruby Glick to the world.
* * *
Timothy grabbed a pitchfork and threw some hay into an empty stall. The horses were out in the pasture, which was a good thing, because they would have experienced a surprise hay shower. Never mind that he'd just put down fresh bedding that morning and he was creating a new mess to clean up.
Patience walked in, but he ignored her. Finally, she said, "Timothy, you can't turn Ruby away."
He jammed the pitchfork back into the hay. Patience might be right, but he didn't want to acknowledge that fact. He didn't have a good reason to turn away his sister, and deep down he didn't want to. But he had enough to worry about right now. He'd just purchased a dozen more dairy cows, which brought his herd up to thirty. He had two small children and a spouse who was keeping plenty busy as a midwife because Birch Creek was experiencing a baby boom. He was on the school board, and a month ago the community decided to draw lots for a district minister. He'd been chosen, and now he had those duties to add to his plate.
These were all good things. He was blessed, and he knew it. He and Patience were in a far better situation than when he first moved here after their wedding. At the time he'd been unsure about leaving Lancaster behind to live in a community with an unwelcoming bishop. But Patience wanted to stay in Birch Creek, and the land here was cheaper than in Lancaster, which allowed him to own his own farm instead of working for his father back home. Emmanuel Troyer, the former bishop, had left, and since Freemont Yoder had become the new bishop, Birch Creek and its various businesses had thrived.
But he was overwhelmed at times, feeling pulled in different directions. Which was why Ruby showing up without warning had knocked him off-kilter. He didn't need his troublemaker of a sister upending everything.
"Stop ignoring me," Patience snapped.
That got his attention. He tossed the hay and leaned the pitchfork against the stall. "I'm sorry, lieb." He walked to her and brushed off a strand of hay that had landed on her kapp. "I'm confused, that's all."
"Ya." He loved his little sister, but sometimes he didn't understand her. He'd tried to over the years, chalking up her troublemaking nature to immaturity. But that explanation went only so far. For some reason she courted disaster, even when she was trying to be helpful. He wondered what his parents thought about her coming here. Maybe it was their idea.
"She's a sweet maedel, Timothy. She's also yer schwester. We don't turn our backs on familye."
He looked at his wife. He'd met Patience almost seven years ago when she was visiting Lancaster, and he'd fallen in love the moment he saw her. Now he was more in love with her than ever, and her kindness was one of many reasons. "You're right," he said, touching one of the ribbons of her kapp. "She can stay. But only for a few days."
"She asked to stay indefinitely, remember?"
"Don't you wonder why?"
"Ya, but it's none of our business, even if she is staying with us. We need to respect her privacy."
He wasn't going to win this. "Fine. She can stay as long as she wants. But I'm stating for the record that I warned you about her."
Patience scoffed. "You make her sound like a complete —"
"How can you talk about her that way?"
Timothy blew out a breath. "Patience, when she and I were kinner, she burned down the barn."
Nodding, Patience said, "I remember you telling me that. You also said it was an accident. She knocked over a lit lantern. That can happen to anyone."
"Ya, but what I didn't tell you was that it was our second barn burning."
Patience's mouth dropped open. "You mean she burned down the first one too?"
He nodded. "I know she doesn't mean to, but she gets distracted." Timothy remembered how distraught Ruby had been over both events. She was ten years old the first time, fourteen the second. None of the animals had been hurt, and the second barn was a little salvageable after the fire. "Stuff like that happens around her all the time. Trouble, bad luck — whatever you want to call it, it follows her like a starving stray dog." Right now, he wasn't prepared for whatever havoc his little sister might cause next. Not that he ever could be.
After a long pause Patience said, "She's not a kinn or teenager anymore."
Timothy crossed his arms. "I realize she's an adult now. I'm just not sure I can trust her."
Patience touched his beard, her beautiful brown eyes taking on that soft look he couldn't resist. "What about grace, Timothy? Doesn't yer schwester deserve some?"
It wasn't her expression that worked on him this time. It was her words. Ruby could be frustrating, and she'd made plenty of mistakes in her life. Haven't we all? It wasn't as if he was perfect, even though his mother often said he was close to it. "You never fussed, and you never broke the rules," she would say, usually when Ruby was within earshot. He frowned. That had to be a pretty big burden for her to bear. "Ya," he said, his distrust for his sister changing to compassion. "She does."
"That's the Timothy I know." She put her arms around his waist. "And love."
He gave her a half-grin. "There will have to be ground rules, even though she's twenty."
"I think that's fair."
"And she'll have to find a job. She stays out of most trouble when she's busy."
"She could help you around here." When he stiffened, Patience laughed. "I'm kidding. I'm sure she can find work somewhere else." She kissed him on the cheek and stepped out of his embrace. "The kinner should be up by now. I asked Ruby to watch them for me."
"Thank God we don't have many breakables," Timothy muttered.
"I heard that." Patience walked out of the barn.
Timothy smiled and shook his head. He couldn't resist that little dig. He swept up the mess he'd made, checked on the cows and horses in the pasture, and then went back to the house.
When he walked into the living room, he saw Ruby sitting in the middle of the floor, playing with Tobias and Luke. Luke was in her lap chewing on a teething ring and Tobias was stacking wooden blocks into a short, crooked pile. When they toppled over Ruby clapped. "Yay, Tobias! You did it."
"It fell," he said, sticking out his bottom lip.
"Ya, but now you can build yer tower all over again. Wouldn't that be fun?"
Tobias grinned and started stacking the blocks as if hadn't been pouting a few seconds before.
Patience appeared at his side. "She's really gut with the kinner," she whispered.
"Ya. She is."
Ruby looked up and smiled, and Timothy wondered if she'd heard them. He hoped she had. She deserved the compliment.
Patience went to Ruby and picked up Luke, whose chubby hands were already stretched up and reaching for his mother. She cradled him against her hip, and then reached out her hand to Tobias. "Let's geh get a snack." Tobias nodded and clambered to his feet, knocking over his blocks. The tower and Ruby forgotten in anticipation of a snack, he followed Patience and Luke into the kitchen.
Ruby started putting the blocks in the small wooden crate where Patience kept them. "The buwe have grown since I last saw them," she said, placing the last block in the bin and pushing it toward the coffee table. The crate knocked into a table leg, and a glass of iced tea on top toppled over. "Oh nee," she said, rushing to upright it. She used the hem of her dress to wipe up the spill. "I'm sorry, Timothy."
He smiled a little as she frantically mopped up her mess, not surprised that she'd spilled something. She'd been here for over an hour, after all. "It's all right, Ruby."
She got up and stood in front of him, and he was surprised the tea wasn't dripping from the hem of her dress. "I'll be more careful."
To her credit, when things did go wrong, she always tried to make them right. He realized he'd been too hard on her when she first arrived, and he needed to make amends for that. "We're happy to have you stay with us as long as you want," he said.
Her eyes brightened. "Are you sure? You didn't say that a little while ago."
"Because you surprised me," he said, feeling a little bad that he might have hurt her feelings. "You know I don't like surprises."
She nodded and looked up at him. "I should have told you I was coming ahead of time."
He went to her and patted her shoulder awkwardly. While he was affectionate with his wife and children, he was usually reserved with the rest of his family. Their parents hadn't been very demonstrative, and they were a quiet pair. Ruby and her bright, boisterous personality had always been a challenge for them to understand and accept. "I'm glad you're here."
Her grin grew wide. "I'm glad to be here. And you'll see, Timothy. I've changed. I'm a better person now." She tilted up her chin. "I can't wait to prove it to you."
"Just promise me one thing," he said, his tone turning serious.
"Nee lanterns in the barn." He didn't want to bring that up, but he had to start the ground rules now.
Regret flashed in her eyes, but then it was replaced by determination. "I promise. Yer barn is safe while I'm here."
Dear Lord ... I hope so.
* * *
"The dog ate mei homework."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Teacher's Bride"
Copyright © 2018 Kathleen Fuller.
Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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