Romance Fiction posted April 7, 2024 Chapters:  ...10 11 -12- 13... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Sami has an idea that might help.

A chapter in the book Willing Hearts

Willing Hearts Chapter 8

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 12 days ago.


Sami untangled her arms and fingers from Noah's and headed toward the house.

Noah followed, watched her go into her room, closed the door, and said, "I think I upset her."

Sarah shook her head. "The social graces issue again?"

Putting his weapon away, he said, "Probably. She wasn't impressed when I explained we could handle all the coyotes' extended family."

Jose chuckled. "Good one, Boss."

"Jose, don't encourage him." Sarah headed for the kitchen. "Anybody want something to drink? I think Sami made brownies."


Chapter 8

Early Friday morning, Noah waited in the living room. He heard movement in Sami's room and her attempting to convince Jasper that he needed to wait to go out. It appeared Jasper wasn't buying it.

Finally, Sami crept from her room and stood in front of Sarah's door with her hand poised to knock.

Noah came up behind her. "I thought it was my job to help take out Jasper." When his eyes met hers, he asked, "What's going on?" He touched her arm, then pulled his hand back. "We'll discuss it on our walk. I don't think Jasper can wait much longer."

They walked in silence for a while, before Noah asked, "Are we going to discuss what's bothering you?"

"I seem to get myself into embarrassing situations around you."

"You're a city girl. I'm pretty sure that was the first coyote you've ever heard."

"It was."

"It scaring you seems reasonable." Noah exhaled. "Part of the problem is when things like this happen my response isn't the best. I seem to make the situation worse. I could've handled it better."

He ran his hand through his short hair and studied the pond. "To be honest, I was glad you grabbed my arm. It showed you're starting to trust me, a little. Instead of saying or showing that, I upset you." He faced her. "I have a feeling it's more me than you."

"I wouldn't say that. I could've given you the benefit of the doubt."

"Can we agree to get past it?"

"I think so."


Silence continued as they walked further around the pond, before Sami asked, "Did you enjoy the kickball game?"

"I did. I hate to admit but I had a good time." Noah hesitated. "I can't remember the last time I did something just for fun." His eyes met hers. "Thank you."

Sami nodded. After walking a little more, she said, "Noah?" When he faced her, she reached up and hugged him.

"What was that for?"

"Just because."

"Thank you." He grinned and shook his head.

Almost around the pond, Sami asked, "What other critters can I expect around here?"

"You already know about raccoons, coyotes, and owls. There are numerous kinds of snakes, cougars, bobcats, armadillos, opossums, a few black bears, badgers, and all kinds of lizards. I'm sure I've forgotten a few." After a few moments, he added, "All kinds of deer, probably a beaver or two. Plenty of foxes."

"So, I need to be prepared for about anything?"

"Probably, but rest assured you won't be alone."

"Thank you."

Noah nodded. He sighed when he studied the cabin lit up. "I wonder what's going on."

They headed toward the cabin, where Noah opened the door and held it for Sami. After he noticed the Zoom meeting, he motioned for Sami to stand off to the side so she couldn't be seen.

"Tony, what's going on?" asked Noah.

"Boss, glad you're here. A few of us were playing pool at a local bar last night, well early this morning. At a table next to us a couple men were bragging about a hit at a church over by Trimmer High School planned for tomorrow night."

Noah glanced at Sami, she mouthed, "I know it."

He nodded. "Why the interest in that church?"

"They're sponsoring a teen dance."

After his fist hit the table, Noah said, "Why haven't we gotten prior notice of this?"

"These guys aren't on our radar."

"Chen!" yelled Noah. "Do you have more information? Why older teens? Most traffickers want younger girls."

"Word in the street is he's running a high-priced escort service. They train them. If they don't make the grade, they're used for BDSM."

"Figures! Chen's the worst of the worst. We need to stop him and fast." Noah hesitated. "Only you hear this? I don't want it coming back and blowing your cover."

"It won't, Boss. He was drunk and careless. Maybe seven or eight others in my group heard it. We were letting off some steam. There were a few other gangs there too."

"Thank you. We'll see what we can do. Stay safe."

"Thanks, Boss."

After the Zoom meeting finished, Sami asked, "What's BDSM?"

Noah's eyes met hers. "You don't want to know." He sighed. "It's bondage, discipline (or domination), sadism, and masochism as a type of sexual practice."

"You're right. I didn't want to know." She exhaled. "I have an idea that might help."

Both Noah and Jose stared at her. Jose said, "Don't get any ideas about being there."

"I won't. But I do have an in with teenage girls. They're experts with social networking. If it's okay, I could contact one of them, and she could pass on the information that it's dangerous and they shouldn't attend. Mom could contact the pastor. It's short notice, but maybe he could change it from a teen dance to senior bingo or Pinochle game."

Noah released a deep breath. "I don't know."

Jose grinned. "Boss, Sami has a good idea. We can supervise her call and make sure she's only on a few minutes, so it won't be traced."

Still frowning, Noah said, "I'll think about it. Let's go to the house. I need coffee and breakfast."

Jose filled Bob and Sarah in on the situation and Sami's suggestion. Noah remained silent.

Halfway through breakfast, Noah pushed his plate away. "I'm going outside." He faced Sami. "I need to be alone. Don't follow me."

"Yes, Sir."

He set his jaw at her response.

Before he got to the door, Sami said, "Noah, if I'm going to contact anyone, I need to do it soon, so they have time to respond."

The door slammed on his way out.

"I've succeeded with upsetting him again."

Sarah reached over and touched Sami's hand. "It's not you. It's the circumstances. Noah knows it's the only sensible choice he has. He cares for you and doesn't understand those feelings. He does know it could put you in danger. He hates that part. Give him time to work through it."

Bob added, "Noah hasn't had a lot of experience with relationships. He's a workaholic. You confuse him."

"Remember the social graces issue?" asked Jose.

Sami nodded.

Almost thirty minutes later, Noah returned. "Sami's suggestion is our only option to ensure these girls are protected. We could send a team in, but then we're leaving people vulnerable. That's probably why Chen has this set up and bragged about it in a busy bar. He's setting a trap hoping to call us out. Unfortunately, innocent girls could be hurt. How do we go about having Sami make those calls?"

Bob set down his coffee cup. "She can't use her phone. Do we have any burner phones?"

"I'll call Julie, but if she doesn't recognize the number she may not answer. Same with Mom."

Sarah went toward her room. "I have a burner I've never used. Sami text Julie and tell her it's you and you're going to call her. Keep the text short."

'This is Coach Martinez. I'll call you from this number. It's important.' Once Julie responded to the text, Sami called, "Julie, my call's timed. I need you to contact as many girls as possible and tell them to pass it around. Do not, I repeat do not; go to the church dance tomorrow night. It's a trap. More girls will be kidnapped." She listened. "Thank you. Please reach out to as many as possible. Goodbye."

Her eyes met Noah's. "It's done. Now for Mom."

He nodded and sighed.

Sami sent a similar text to her mom, and then called, "Mom, the call's timed. I need you to talk with Pastor Hudson and have him cancel the teen dance tomorrow night. Have him schedule some senior citizen activity." She listened. "I love you too, Mom, thank you. Bye." She dried a tear spilling from her eye. "It's done."

Noah studied Sami. "You okay?"

"I'm fine." She stood. "I'm going to my room for a few minutes. Come on, Jasper."

He reached for her hand, but then stopped. "Why don't we go for a walk. Jasper looks like he needs a dip in the pond."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive. Let's go."

After walking in silence, Noah said, "I know you're close to your family. I'm sorry you're not with them."

"Thank you for saying it. I do understand why it's not possible. I'd hate to put my family in danger. Angela has two young kids, Greg's almost three and Austin is six months."

Noah chuckled. "After all those sisters, you have two nephews. Do any of your other sisters have children?"

"Only Angela."

They walked in silence.

On the opposite side of the pond, Sami pointed to the grass. "Can we sit for a while? It's beautiful here and there's a nice breeze." After Noah nodded.

They both sat, before Sami asked, "How long has it been since you just sat and enjoyed the sunshine?"

"I can't remember." Noah observed Sami for a few moments. "You have something to say but are afraid to say it. Out with it. If it's not something, we can talk about, I'll tell you."

"I feel something in your past keeps getting in the way. Is there anything you need to talk about?"

He swallowed. "You're right. I probably need to talk, but I'm not willing to."

"Okay. I won't bring it up again."

"Thank you." After sitting in silence, Noah threw a twig into the pond. "Maybe someday I'll be able to share it with you."

"It's completely up to you."

Noah stared at the house and then pointed. "Stay quiet." As he watched, he whispered, "It looks like a sheriff's cruiser. I wonder what he wants."

"Bob and Sarah are talking with him. Where's Jose?"

"I'm sure he's staying back."

After the sheriff left, Noah said, "We'd better find out what's going on."

"You mean you'd better find out what's going on."

Chuckling, Noah said, "True."

When they returned to the house, Bob and Sarah stood outside and spoke with Jose.

"Anything we need to be concerned about?" asked Noah.

Bob's eyes met Noah's. "Yes and no. It seems there's been an epidemic of convenience store armed robberies on this side of the city. Three men are at large. The authorities feel they're lying low someplace in this area. We pretended to be a married couple vacationing for a few weeks. He wanted us to be aware and on the lookout. They're armed."

Sami's eyes met Noah's, and he said, "We can handle this too."

She swallowed then headed toward the door. "I need to start lunch." She turned. "When's Bob going to the grocery store?"

Bob nodded. "I asked the sheriff about that small town. He said it's a quiet little town. If you can give me a grocery list, I'll go after lunch." He glanced toward Noah. "Is that okay?"


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."


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 west Texas pond.

Today's post is Chapter8 in its entirety. It's a short chapter. It only has has a little over 1900 words.

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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