Romance Fiction posted March 24, 2024 Chapters:  ...8 9 -10- 11... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Sami begins to understand more.

A chapter in the book Willing Hearts

Willing Hearts Chapter 7 A

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 11 days ago.


Everybody sat around the table after eating watermelon and talked for quite a while. Finally, Jose said, "I need to check security videos. I've been inside way too long."

Bob stood. "I'll go with you." He kissed Sarah's cheek. "I won't be long."

"No problem. I'll help with clean up."

Noah stood. "I'm with the guys."


It was almost three Thursday morning when Sami woke up with a start. She screamed as noises sounded from outside.

Bob, Sarah, and Noah rushed to her room. Bob and Noah stood in the doorway as Sarah sat on the edge of Sami's bed to comfort her. Sami almost whispered, "I heard noises." The noise sounded again. "Hear that?"

Everybody acknowledged they'd heard it too, but nobody knew what it was.

Jose joined the group. "I saw the lights. In case you're wondering about the noise, a raccoon family is enjoying the watermelon as much as we did." He studied Jasper. "What I don't understand is why you didn't bark. You're a dog, not a horse, right?"

Sami noticed Noah's eyes on her as everybody waited for an answer. She pulled the blanket up closer to her chin before she said, "He's standing on the bed to protect me if needed. I've trained him not to bark." She exhaled. "Jasper, down." The large dog lay. "I hope you're ready. Jasper, speak."

Jasper acted on command.

Sarah's eyes widened. "Thank you for teaching him not to bark."

Nodding, Sami added, "I live in an apartment complex. I can't have him barking."

Bob faced his and Sarah's bedroom. "Since it's only raccoons, can we go back to bed?"

Glancing at Sami, Sarah asked, "You good?"

"Yes. I'm sorry I woke everybody."

Noah said, "Don't worry about it. We all heard it. Later in the morning, we'll figure out what to do with those critters."

A few hours later, Sami crept from her room with Jasper beside her. She stopped when she saw Noah lying on the couch. She put her finger to her lips to indicate for Jasper to be quite as they headed toward the door.

At the door, she heard, "If you open the door, an alarm will sound and wake everyone. What are you trying to do?"

" Jasper needs out. I wanted to take him for a walk. I didn't mean to wake you. Why are you on the couch?"

"If you don't mind and will give me a minute, I'll walk with you. As for why I'm on the couch, I'd rather not answer, if it's okay?"

She nodded.

"Thank you. I'll take that as a yes for both." Noah walked to the spare bedroom.

Within minutes he returned and used his thumb to unlock the door. "The door has a fingerprint security lock on it."

"Is there any way I can be added? Jasper will need to be taken out."

"Let me think on that for a few hours. I'll get back to you." Noah studied the dog. "Where's his leash?"

"In the city he was required to be on one. He doesn't need it, so I see no reason for it. He'll follow my command."

As they stood on the porch, Noah held out his hand. "Is it okay if we leave the Fitbit here? Everyone will be up within a half an hour, and nobody needs to hear our conversation." He cocked his head. "I hope we have one." Sami removed it and handed it to him. After setting it on an outside table, he said, "Thank you." He pointed to his wrist communicator. "We turned them off last night." He scanned the area. "Which direction?"

"Jasper likes ponds. He chases frogs and fish."

Nodding Noah said, "Let's go."

After walking in silence, they reached the pond and walked around it. Sami slipped on a moss-covered rock.

Noah's arm wrapped round her waist and caught her before she fell. "I couldn't let you fall."

"Thank you. I appreciate it." A few more moments of silence, before Sami said, "I didn't mean to cause so many problems with Chen. It wasn't my intent."

"I know. I would've had to deal with him eventually. All you've done is hurry it up and probably saved a few girls' lives in the process."

Noah released a breath. "Chen and his ring were not on our radar. That's why Myra and the girls were taken, and nobody knew about it or believed you. Eventually we would've discovered his ring, and I would've had men undercover in his organization. Until then who knows how many girls would've been kidnapped. I need to thank you for that."

Sami's eyes widened. "Really?"

He grinned. "Yes, really. I'm not too happy with the way some things happened. I wish they never did, but they did. For that I'm sorry."

"Me too."

"Will you ever forgive me?"

"Maybe a little."

He nodded. "Good."

More silence as they walked farther around the pond.

"Did you ever read my note?" asked Noah.

Sami avoided eye contact. "At first no. I was going to throw it away. Sarah and I talked, and she convinced me to read it."

"Was that when you two shut us guys out?"

"It was." Sami hesitated. "Just so you know. I read it but never shared the contents with Sarah."

"Thank you. I appreciate it. Nobody knows about it other than you."

She nodded as silence continued.

After walking a little farther, Sami sighed. "Jasper, get out of the water."

The dog ran up to them and shook, spraying water everywhere.

"No, Jasper." Sami's eyes met Noah's. "He shouldn't have done that."

He chuckled. "No problem. I needed a shower anyway."

"Thank you for taking it so well. Were you raised with dogs?"

"No. Dogs weren't allowed."


"Not your problem."

"I should've been more understanding."

"You don't need to walk on eggshells around me."

She nodded and silence continued.

They were almost three fourths around the pond before Noah said, "After the raccoon incident, I slept on the couch in case you needed anything. I wanted to be available."

Swallowing, Sami said, "Thank you. I appreciate it."

As they got close to the house, Noah said, "Just a minute. I want to tell Jose we'll have a meeting in about fifteen minutes."

Noah opened the door to the cabin and held it open. "Sami, you're welcome inside."

As soon as they entered, Jose said, "I've some news on Chen."

"Great." Noah moved closer and studied the computer screen over Jose's shoulder.

Pointing Jose said, "It seems he's from New Orleans and his name is Charles Henry Edward Nichols." He chuckled. "I'd go by Chen too." He switched screens. "Here's his driver's license photo."

Sami stretched her neck to see. "I've seen that man."

Noah's eyes met hers. "Where?"

"Outside the community center. He tried to, hmmm..."

"Which time?" interrupted Noah.

Jose kicked him from under the table and whispered, "Social graces?"

Reaching her hand out to touch Noah's, she studied her feet. "The second." She moved her hand away.

"The time I took you to the room?"

"Yes." After a hesitation, she said, "I think I saw him a few other times too but can't be sure. I think a few times he was in the diner."

"Jose, hack into the diner security tapes."

"Boss, that's not my specialty. You'll need Bob."

Noah went outside the cabin and yelled, "Bob, get out here!"

He stood on the porch. "What's up?"

"I need your hacking skills."

After Noah updated Bob on what was needed, he sat at the computer and started typing.

Noah glanced at Sami standing off to the side. She's about ready to lose it. He walked up to her. "Come outside with me."

She nodded and followed him outside.

Facing her, Noah asked, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Noah used his finger to raise her chin as his eyes met hers. She sighed. "I just realized Chen was watching me, and if you hadn't stepped in, he would've kidnapped me Thursday and nobody would've known."

"That's right." As tears welled in her eyes, Noah held out his arms. "I'm not good at this, but I'll try. Come here." She went into his arms. As his arms tightened around her, he whispered, "It's all right."

After a few moments, Sami stepped back. "Thank you. I'm all right."

"Sure?" She nodded, and he pointed to the house. "Why don't you go inside? We'll be there in a couple minutes."

Sami took a few steps toward the house. "Security. I can't get in."

"True." He followed. "I'll see about getting that corrected."

Later that morning, the men came inside. Noah glanced at the ladies. "I'm glad everybody's here. There are a few things we need to discuss. First, I think we all agree that Sami's a good cook, but she shouldn't have any jobs while she's in our protection. The rest of us need to share the responsibilities. Any thoughts how we do that?"

Jose was the first to speak, "If Sami doesn't mind, I think she should still do our cooking. None of us, that includes you, Boss, can cook. That would be her only responsibility. We'll divide up the rest of the chores and then rotate kitchen detail, so she doesn't have to clean it." He studied Sami. "Is that okay?"

"That's fine with me."

Sarah offered, "I'll work up a rotating schedule. Everyone's responsible for their own rooms. We'll take turns vacuuming the entire house, to include the bedrooms. Any objections?"

With no objections, Noah said, "It's come to my attention Jasper needs to be walked off-and-on throughout the day. Sami doesn't have access to leave or enter, should we give her fingerprint access? I think that needs to be voted on. The other option would be to take turns walking Jasper with her. Just be aware he likes to go out early in the morning."

Jose and Bob studied each other.

Noticing, Noah said, "Okay, who's going to talk?"

Bob exhaled. "I will. Sami, I trust you with my life. I doubt you have a mean bone in your body, but it's been our experience you have a habit of getting yourself into interesting situations. While on your walk, even with that enormous dog, something could happen." He avoided eye contact with her. "I have to vote against it. She needs somebody with her."

Jose stood. "Sorry, Sami. I agree with Bob.

Noah said, "Two against. Sarah, how do you vote?"

"The reason Sami's here is for her protection. If we allow her to go outside without protection, there's no reason for her to be here. I vote against it."

After a gulp, Noah said, "Okay, that settles it. How do we divide up helping her walk Jasper?"

"When Sarah makes the house cleaning schedule, she can schedule us taking him out too," offered Bob. "Maybe a different person each day."

Noah nodded. "Forget it. I'm here at least until Tuesday. I'll go with her."

Sami's eyes widened as she stared at him.

"Do you object?" asked Noah.

"No. That's fine, but you have important jobs."

"Right now, my only job is to make sure you're safe." After a short pause, Noah continued, "Next subject any ideas about the garbage can?"

Sarah smiled. "That's simple, shut it up in the garage."

"Perfect." Noah glanced at Bob. "Will you give Sarah the update on Chen?" After he nodded, Noah added, "It seems Chen followed Sami around a few days hoping to take her before Friday. He probably knows who I am and may possibly know who Jose and Sarah are. We can't make any mistakes. Understood?" After everybody indicated they did, Noah walked outside.

Sami watched him leave, and then went after him. The door shut before she could get to it. She tried opening it. When the alarm went off, she kicked the door, went to her room, and closed that door.

Since next week is Easter, I may not post on Sunday. Maybe Monday.


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 racoon in a watermelon. I thought the little guy was cute.

Today's post is the first part of Chapter7. Chapter 7 is a long chapter, so I broke it into two sections. This section is a little over 1900 words. Willing Hearts will be posted on Sunday's from now on.

Again, I made numerous changes as I posted. Not sure why I didn't see the errors when I edited yesterday or any of the previous days. I appreciate all of your support and the review. THANK YOU!!!
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