Romance Fiction posted July 7, 2024 Chapters:  ...23 24 -25- 26 


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Noah tries to fix the situation.

A chapter in the book Willing Hearts

Chapter 14 C

by barbara.wilkey




Background
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 18 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:


Mateo held up his hand with fingers spread out. "I don't understand." He reached into his pants' pocket, removed a small velvet box, and presented it. Inside sat a three-carat diamond ring. "What young woman wouldn't want to wear this?" He turned and spread his arms. "And be mistress of all of this?" He exhaled. "I won't give up. I will keep asking. Maybe the sixth time will be yes."

Bob, Sarah, and Jose studied Noah, who remained stoic.

It wasn't long before Sami returned to the living room. As her smile and eyes lit the room, she stared at Noah. "Thank you. I enjoyed the walk and the beautiful flowers. I would've enjoyed spending more time, but I know we came because of work."

Noah returned the grin and nodded. "Now for the reason we're here." He clasped his hands together. "Chen's from New Orleans and started at least one escort service, probably more. After he kidnaps the girls, he trains them. If the girls don't measure up, he uses them for BDSM."

Juan Pablo released his breath. "He's an evil person."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 14 C

"That he is," Noah continued, "We're working on establishing undercover agents within his gang, but haven't succeeded, yet. We have no idea where his escort or escorts services are located; therefore, we haven't been able to arrest him. They're kept a secret except for wealthy men willing to pay in advance to get the location."

Noah's eyes met Mateo's. "That's where you come in. You have a reputation of being a rich playboy. I don't know if it's true or not, that's not my concern, but you're in the tabloids and that's what we need."

Mateo stood and walked around. "You want me to make an appointment with one of these services, find out if Chen owns it, and give you the address. Is that correct?"

"It is. If it's owned by Chen, we'll take it from there. We don't want you involved in any other way. Only to gather information. After we've taken care of Chen, we'll arrest the people involved. We don't want to risk him going underground."

Juan Pablo shook his head. "Wouldn't it be easier if we sent in men and took care of all the escort services?"

Bob grinned. "It would, but some of the women might get injured and it probably wouldn't be legal."

He grinned. "That's true, but effective."

Noah nodded. "Very effective. We're hoping to safely rescue as many underage girls as possible. We'll get them medical care, help them get adjusted back into society, and hopefully reunite them with their family."

Sami swallowed. "I'm hoping they rescue Myra and maybe I can become her foster parent."

Mateo nodded. "Do I understand correctly? You want me to enjoy the company of a pretty woman for an evening and let you know the address of the place and who owns it. Keep doing this until all Chen's escort services are identified." He glanced at Sami. "And see if Myra is there."

"You got it." Jose winked at Mateo. "It's easy and could be fun."

Noah continued, "If you agree with all the red tape, Bob will set you up with our contact information and the escort services. He'll also discuss the expectations and have you sign the required paperwork."

Bob opened his briefcase and lifted a hefty file. "Governmental red tape. Let's get started."

With the mounds of paperwork completed, Juan Pablo and Mateo stood as Mateo said, "It's time we eat. Please join us in the dining room." He placed his hand on the small of Sami's back and led the way.

*****
As dinner finished, Juan Pablo led the others back into the living room.

Noah remained close enough to watch and listen to Mateo and Sami.

They remained seated beside each other at the table. Mateo held her hand and studied her eyes. "You know I love you and will always treat you like a princess. Will you now accept my marriage proposal?"

She shook her head. "Mateo, I can't. I love you like a brother or best friend, but I'm not in love with you. I'll only marry for love."

"Has a man captured your heart?"

Sami smiled. "Yes, someone has."

His eyes left hers. He exhaled and again concentrated on her eyes. "I hope this man treats you better than Marc."

"Marc was a mistake. I wanted to be in a relationship and settled. He wasn't right for me. I won't settle again."

"I held you while you cried."

"You did, and I appreciate that." Sami kissed his cheek. "I've learned a lot since then."

"Si, Mi Amor, you have." He hesitated. "Does this man know how special you are and treat you that way?"

"I'm not sure this man knows or understands how I feel. It's too early to tell."

"Just know, I will continue to wait for you."

Placing her hand over his, Sami said, "I wish you'd find the right woman. I know she's out there." She stood. "It's getting late. I'm sure my friends are waiting."

As they joined the group, Mateo stood beside Noah. "Sr. Noah, I'd like to offer my estate for Sami's protection. With my security she'll be very safe, have access to the garden, an indoor/outdoor pool, and everything my estate has to offer."

Jose set his jaw. "She has a large dog."

Mateo grinned. "I get along perfectly with Jasper. I understand that he and Sami come as a team. He'll have access to a fenced-in yard and my house."

Noah studied Sami. "It's very secure here. The decision is completely Sami's." He nodded. "Sami, I've told you, you're not a prisoner. What do you want?"

After watching Sami's eyes search each person, Mateo said, "I'm not sure Sami's able to make that decision. Since you rescued her and she's been living under your protection for almost two weeks, she may suffer from what's that called, when a hostage develops a psychological bond with their captors?"

Noah offered, "Stockholm Syndrome."

"Yes, that." Mateo's eyes studied Noah. "Why don't you make the decision for her? You know this place is very secure."

With his jaw set, Noah said, "Sami's capable of making her own decision." He faced the front door then turned back. "Sami, I'll wait by the car. Let me know what you decide." He paused. "Sarah, remain with her until she makes up her mind." He left.

After a few moments, Sami kissed Mateo's cheek. "Thank you, that's a very generous offer, but I decline." She headed out the door.

Jose opened the SUV door for her and nodded. "Sami."

Mateo walked to Noah and whispered, "I know you're the man who's captured Sami's heart. If you hurt her, I'll kill you. It's not a threat, it's a promise."

Noah glared at him. "Good to know."

Mateo walked away.

Bob stood beside Noah. "Did he threaten you?"

"He feels it's his job to protect Sami. Let's get out of here."

*****
When they arrived at Safe House E, Jasper met them at the door. "You want out, don't you?" Noah said, "Jose, take Sami and Jasper out. I have work to do."

"Roger that, Boss." Jose took Sami's hand. "Let's go." He answered her confused look, "I don't know what's going on either."

When they returned from the walk, Sami said, "Goodnight, everybody," and went to her room.

*****
Around midnight, Sarah knocked on Noah's bedroom door. When he answered, Sarah pointed to the ceiling vent. "I know you hear Sami crying. You need to talk with her."

He ran his hand through his short hair. "I can't go into her room. It's against regulations." He started to close his door. "I'll talk with her tomorrow."

Sarah glared. "It's against regulations to fall in love, but you've done that." Noah turned and returned the glare, as she continued, "She tried to talk with you before we left. You couldn't or maybe were too jealous to find the time. It may not be against regulations to allow her to lie there and cry, but it's not how you treat someone you care about." She turned to leave, over her shoulder said, "I'm disappointed in you." She left.

Noah slammed his door, stewed a little while, and then knocked on Sami's door. "Sami?"

"I'm in bed."

He opened the door. "I'm coming in."

She sat up and raised the blankets to her chin. "You're not allowed in here."

"You're right, but you're crying." Noah inhaled when he saw her red, swollen eyes, and tear-stained cheeks. "Why?" He paused but before she could answer said, "If you want to stay with that prince, I'll make it happen."

Sami blew her nose. "I want to remain here, but you wanted me to stay with Mateo."

Cocking his head, he asked, "Why would you think that? Is that why you're crying?"

"You even called me her highness."

"I normally enjoy your independent streak, but at that moment it frustrated me." He walked to the bed. "Is this, okay?"

"Maybe."

"What gave you the idea I didn't want you here?" Noah swallowed. "I thought the kiss we shared told you how strong my feelings are."

"I thought so too, but then...."

"Then what?" interrupted Noah. When Sami avoided looking at him, he continued, "You know I'm lousy at sharing feelings, but...."

"Before you met Mateo, I wanted to explain how he thinks he feels about me."

"He's in love with you."

"He's not."

"He does a great imitation."

She patted the edge of her bed. "Have a seat." After Noah sat, she continued, "Mateo's a spoilt rich boy. He wanted a Lamborghini. Juan Pablo bought him one. He wanted that mansion. The same thing. His entire life he's gotten everything he wanted. He wanted me. I said no. Juan Pablo can't buy me. So now he's focused on getting me. If he did, he wouldn't want me anymore. Besides I'm not for sale."

"Are you sure you don't have feelings for him?"

"We've gone out many times. My college girlfriends were jealous. Who wouldn't want a rich, handsome man chasing them? I didn't, there wasn't any chemistry, none, not even a little." Sami's eyes met Noah's. "When you kissed me, there was chemistry. When all of this is over, I had hoped we could explore our relationship and see where it takes us."

"I'd like that too, but...."

"But what?" interrupted Sami.

"I...." Noah scanned the room.

"It'd mean you'd have to open yourself to feelings. That scares you. If you take that risk, you could get hurt."

Blowing out air, Noah said, "Something like that." He studied tears still slowly dripping from Sami's eyes. "I know I've hurt you. How can I make it better?"

He reached for her hand, and when they touched, she said, "I'm not sure there's anything you can do. You're you, and I'm me."

"What do you mean?"

"That's never going to change. Right now, I feel like I'm missing a piece of my heart. It's lonely."

"Your heart's missing something?" asked Noah.

"Yes. Something's missing."

"Have you felt this way before?" When Sami nodded, Noah asked, "When and how did you get over it?"

"When my grandma died." She sighed. "Mom held me to let me know I'd never be alone."

Noah stood, removed his shoulder holster, took his cell phone, keys, and billfold from his pockets and set them on the nightstand.

Sami's eyes widened. "What are you doing?"

He sat on the bed while he removed his boots. "I'm going to hold you."

"You can't do that."

"You're right, but I've hurt you. If it'll help, I'm willing to risk it." He motioned her to move. "Scoot over so I have room to lie beside you. Keep yourself covered. I'll stay on the outside of the blankets."

"Noah?"

He lay down, put his arm around her, and pulled her closer. "Make yourself comfortable. No kissing or..." He exhaled. "Leave it at that."

Sami laid her head on his chest, her arm went across his chest, and her leg rested on his. "Is this, okay?"

"Does it help?"

"Yes."

"Then it's okay. After you fall asleep, I'll go to my room."

She snuggled closer. "Okay."

"Are you comfortable, now?" She nodded, and he said, "You're border-line impossible."

"I'm impossible, feisty, obstinate, frustrating, and rewrite rules. Oh yes, her highness. Are they bad things?"

"I guess not. It's obvious I'm attracted to those qualities in a certain woman. Goodnight."

~~~~~
How Much Can A Lonely Heart Stand by Sketter Davis




~~~~~
CHARACTERS:

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 whom 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.

Chief Galvin Baldwin - Noah's supervisor.

Ryan Brown - All around jerk. He thinks highly of himself.

Marc - Sami's old boyfriend.

Mateo Enrique Aguilar de Pereira - a very close friend of Sami's; a rich playboy

Juan Pablo Enrique Aguilar de Pereira - Mateo's father



Recognized

#3
July
2024


Thank you, Google Images, for artwork of a lonely heart. Maybe how Sami feels. Also thank you Youtube for 'How Much a Lonely Heart Stand' by Sketter Davis.

Today's post is the third installment of Chapter 14. Chapter 14 is a long chapter and I have it divided into three parts. Chapter 14 C is a little over 1900 words.

I made major changes when I edited on Friday. Yesterday just a few. I also made a few changes as I posted.

I appreciate all the wonderful support you give my writing. Thank you for the time you take to review my writing.
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