Romance Fiction posted April 14, 2024 Chapters:  ...11 12 -13- 14... 

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Noah wants to leave the safe house.

A chapter in the book Willing Hearts

Willing Hearts Chapter 9

by barbara.wilkey

Can Noah rescue Myra, close down the human trafficking ring, keep Sami safe, all while protecting his heart? Or did the love of his life appear in front of him?
Noah and Sami met 13 days ago.


Sami stood at the door with Jasper by her side. "Will somebody let me in?"

Jose jogged up. "You may enter."

"Thank you."

When he returned beside his companions, Noah said, "These guys are probably amateurs but just in case we need to be vigilant."

Bob nodded. "I agree." He faced the front door. "I'll leave as soon as Sami gives me the list. Any advice?"

"Just be careful." After a pause, Noah added, "Be sure to get a bunch of burner phones. I have a feeling we're going to need them. I don't like sending you by yourself, but don't have a choice."


Chapter 9

Sami left her room early Saturday morning and saw Noah staring out the front window. She asked, "You look deep in thought. Anything I can help with?"

He grinned. "I wish you could." He glanced at Jasper. "Ready?"

They walked outside walked. Sami asked, "Any news about the church dance? Did our plan work?"

"All indications are that it did. We won't know for sure until tonight."

"Because of me you can't have anybody there to guarantee the teens are safe."

Noah, with a wide stance, faced her. "Don't go there. It's not your fault. You didn't kidnap those girls."

"I did try to find them."

"I understand why you did. Nobody was searching for them."

"I appreciate you saying that."

"Tonight's a trap. If the teens don't show up, Chen's going to be angry." He grinned. "I wonder what he'll try next."

"You and your team will be in more danger, won't you?"

"Maybe. It's not your worry." He knelt, picked up a small branch, and threw it. He watched the gigantic dog chase it. "Jasper likes fetching."

"He does."

"Did Bob get everything you needed at the store?"

"Yes. Did you like the domino game last night?"

"It was interesting. Let's put it that way."

"You're just sore because you didn't win," teased Sami.

"Are you implying my ego can't handle being the first one out every game?"

Sami smiled. "It might be a fair assumption."

"You could be right. Think I can get a rematch?"

"I'm sure that's possible."

"Are you okay with doing all the cooking? Normally, people in protective custody don't do any chores."

"Yes." Sami exhaled. "Noah, what are you avoiding? It's not like you to have conversation for the sake of conversation."

"You've partly figured me out, haven't you?" Noah released a deep breath. "I'm thinking about going back to the city."

"Why? Chen's not out to get your team, but just you. He's already shot you." Sami stopped and studied him. "What's here that's got you so worried that you're willing to risk your life?" She stared into his eyes. "It's me, isn't it?"

Noah nodded.

Sami jogged toward the house, with Jasper by her side.

He followed. "Sami, let's talk." He caught up to her but stopped as Jasper stood between them. "Call off your dog."

"Jasper, sit." When the dog returned to her side, Sami said, "I won't be the cause of you dying. I won't ask any questions and I'll stay out of your way. The others can help walk Jasper. I'll cook and eat my meals in my room. You won't see me." She swallowed. Don't cry. Whispering, she said, "I'm sorry you hate me so much."

"I don't hate you. You're not the reason." Noah hesitated. "I said I'd never lie to you. You are the reason but not because of what you've stated."

Sami knocked on the cabin door. Jose answered, and then she said, "Please let me in the house."

Jose glanced at Noah, standing right there, but said, "Sure." After Sami went inside, he asked, "Boss, what's that about?"

"She's angry."

"I figured that out. I'm guessing at you."

"You're right." Noah went inside to his room, and slammed the door.

A little after the normal lunch time, Sarah said, "I guess lunch isn't happening. Anybody know what's going on?"

Jose's glance shifted between the two closed bedroom doors. "I'm guessing they had a disagreement. They're both stubborn enough neither of them is going to make the first move."

Bob shook his head and walked toward the kitchen. "One thing's for sure, we know Boss won't budge. He never does." He took a deep breath. "Sami had French Dips on the menu. Anybody know how to make them?" Everyone shook their head, so he continued, "I guess we'll have roast beef sandwiches for lunch."

Around four o'clock. Sami came from her room. When Bob and Sarah faced her, she said, "I'll fix dinner. I'm sure you found something for lunch. Once dinner's started, will somebody help me walk Jasper?"

Noah's muscular frame moved to his doorway. "That's my job. We don't have to talk, just walk. Let me know when you're ready." He went back into his room.

Almost forty-five minutes later, Sami stood in front of Noah's door. Bob glanced up from his computer and called, "Boss, Sami and Jasper are ready."

When Sami said, "Thank you," Bob grinned.

Noah came out and walked straight to the front door. "If this is going to happen, let's get going." He held it open as Sami and Jasper walked through.

Partway around the pond, Sami stopped and faced Noah. "You don't need to do this. I know you hate it and me. Somebody else could go with us."

"I don't hate you or walking Jasper. I enjoy it."

"You're lying again." She started walking.

"No!" He lowered his voice, "I'm not." He sighed. "Would you stop and listen?" She stood still, but kept her back to him, he added, "You're the most frustrating person I know. You need to hear this. I like Jose, Bob, and Sarah." Eventually she turned and faced him, and he continued, "I like you, but it's different."

"Then why you are leaving?" Sami studied his eyes. "It confuses you." When he swallowed, she added, "It's new to you, isn't it?"

"I'd rather not discuss it."

"I understand." Sami continued walking. "I'll stay out of your way."

"You don't need to."

"If it'll keep you here and make it easier for you, I'd be happy to."

Inside the house, Sami went to the kitchen. "Dinner will be ready in about thirty minutes."

As everybody sat for dinner, they noticed Sami took a fixed plate to her room.

Bob, Sarah, and Jose glared at Noah.

Noah closed his eyes, went to Sami's door, and knocked. "Sami, this isn't right. You need to come to the table with us."

"I told you..."

"I don't care what you said. I want you to eat with us." She opened her door, and then he added, "I'm walking with you for Jasper's last time out too."

"Okay, I'll eat with you, but I won't talk or ask any questions."

Jose raised his eyebrows. "I'm sure that'll be difficult."

As the dinner conversation continued, Sami started to participate, but stopped. "Sorry." She studied her plate.

Dinner was over and it was Jose's turn to clean the kitchen. As he glanced toward the two closed bedroom doors, he picked up some dishes and said, "It'll be interesting to see who's the most stubborn. Sami just might give Boss a run for his money."

Noah came from his room. "This isn't up for discussion. Understood?" Then returned inside.

Three voices were heard, "Roger that, Boss."

At the time for Jasper's final time out, both Sami and Noah came from their rooms at the same time. Noah pointed toward the door. "Ready?"

She nodded and walked through it.

Silence remained as they completed halfway around the pond. Noah stopped and pointed to the dog. "Wait. I hear something, and so does Jasper." He removed his weapon and whispered, "Don't move." He walked up a slight hill, and then returned. "We need to get back to the house." He held out his hand for her and began jogging. "Hurry."

Sami didn't take his hand but jogged beside him.

Before they went inside, Noah stopped at the cabin. "Jose, get armed and meet me at the house."

Inside, Noah said, "There's a campfire about a half mile on the north side of the pond. Sarah, stay with Sami. Jose and Bob, follow me."

Sami released the breath she was holding. "Chen?"

Noah's eyes met hers. "I doubt it. I think it's the men who hit the convenience stores. We can't take any chances."

"Be safe."

Bob kissed Sarah's cheek. "We'll be back shortly." He glanced at Sami. "What's dessert tonight?"

"How about chocolate chip cookies?"

Bob followed the others, but said, "Perfect. I like them warm from the oven."

Sami went to the kitchen and began making cookies. Sarah watched and said,
"I'm pretty sure there's something bothering you. It'd help if you discussed it. What's going on? I won't tell anyone. Not even Bob."

Taking two eggs from the refrigerator, Sami said, "Noah said because of me he's going back to the city."

"And you understood him to say, he was leaving because..."

"He hates me!" interrupted Sami.

"You're way off." Sarah watched Sami mix the cookie dough. "Noah's falling in love with you. Probably for the first time in his life and it scares him. I don't understand everything about him. For some reason he refuses to form relationships."

"You think that's it?"

"I do. He wants to leave so he doesn't risk having feelings."

"What do you suggest?"

Sarah shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. Like I said, I don't understand why he won't allow himself to get close."

Sami dropped cookie dough on the baking sheet. Being raised in the system, he's been hurt. If you don't allow people close, you can't get hurt. Putting them in the oven, she said, "I hope the men are safe."

"Don't worry. They are. They're good at what they do." Sarah laughed. "Noah may not be good at expressing himself, but he's excellent at things like this. It doesn't require communication."

"I guess that's right."

A little over an hour passed, before Sarah and Sami watched through a window a vehicle leave the garage. Sami asked, "What's going on?"

"I don't know. I'm sure they'll tell us when they return. Our job is to stay safe and wait."

"I don't think I'm good at either of them."

Sarah smiled. "It'll take practice, but you'll learn."

A few hours later, Bob entered the house and kissed Sarah's cheek. Jose and Noah followed.

Noah and Sami stared into each other's eyes, but neither said anything as the stare lingered.

Sarah asked, "What happened?"

Noah grabbed a few cookies from the plate on the table. "We successfully arrested all three suspected robbers but had a new problem. What to do with them, so our cover isn't blown?"

Everybody sat around the table, and Noah continued, "To solve our problem, I called the Homeland Security Office of Immigration and Customs. I have a buddy, who owes me a favor. One of the men, probably two, was an immigrant. I explained our predicament, and he agreed to take care of them without mentioning us. We met them halfway to the city."

Sami asked, "Is that legal?" She covered her mouth. "Sorry. I shouldn't have asked." She stood. "I'll go to my room."

Jose ordered, "Sit." She sat, so he continued, "No, it's not exactly legal, but sometimes, we do what we have to do. It doesn't really matter who arrested these guys, does it?"

"I guess not."

"This way Chen won't find out where we're at."

"Understand?" asked Noah.

"I guess."

Bob took a bite of cookie. "These are good, but some cold milk would go great with them."

Sami walked to the kitchen. "I'll get some glasses and milk."

Noah followed. "I'll help." In the kitchen, he watched Sami until she turned around holding the milk. "It felt good knowing somebody cared about my safety. Thank you for not showing it." When her eyes averted to the floor, he asked, "Did I read the signals wrong?"

She shook her head. "You read them right."

He took the gallon of milk and set it on the counter.

Sami put her arms around Noah and squeezed tight.

Noah returned the hug. "Thank you."

Jose called, "Are you done milking the cow?"

Noah came from the kitchen carrying glasses. "Sami's putting the cow back in the stall."

Sami returned and handed Bob the gallon of milk. Jasper stood beside her, and she roughed up his ears.

Standing, Noah said, "His walk got cut short. Does he need out again?"

Sami watched the dog. "I don't think so. I think he's all right. He's ready for bed."


Sami Martinez - Twenty-five-year-old high school teacher, who's working to find a kidnapped teenage girl.

Noah Taylor. - Homeland Security team leader, who works in the Human Trafficking department. Alias - Trey Morgan

Jose, Bob, & Sarah - Agents who work under Noah. Bob and Sarah are married.

Laura Martinez - Sami's mom.

Jasper - Sami's Great Dane, a large breed dog.

Myra Rodriguez - Kidnapped teenage girl who Sami was close to.

Julia - Teenage girl, who was friends with Myra and Sami works with.

Big T - Neighborhood pimp; not a friendly person

Numerous Team Members - They will show up periodically but not really important to the story, except they're there.

Chen - Charles Henry Edward Nichols - Human trafficker and into some really bad stuff.



Thank you, Google Images, for a photograph of a heart puzzle.

Today's post is Chapter 9 in its entirety. It's a short chapter. It only has a little over 2000 words.

Yesterday as I read this chapter, I moved many sentences around along with a few paragraphs for smoother flow. I hope it works. I appreciate all of your support and the review. THANK YOU!!!
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