Hero of My Heart

The McRaes Series -- Book 5


Taken hostage while teaching abroad, Amanda Warren was convinced she was going to die until U.S. Navy SEAL Will Gerard charged in to rescue her. Now she wonders if she'll ever feel safe and whole again. 

Her injuries left her with few memories of her ordeal, except the fear. Striving to heal, she's driven to find Will and ask him for help once again-and discovers there's something familiar and reassuring about him. 

While Amanda considers him her hero, Will tells himself he was just doing his job-to save her, then forget about her. But he admires her courage, wants her to feel safe in his arms. It's up to Amanda to convince Will that he is her hero, the hero of her heart. 

Read An Excerpt


 Amanda took one look at him, and all the breath went out of her body.

She had to look down at the floor. Her feelings were so intense, just seeing him was too much at first.

That glance told her he was tall and lean, with dark hair and eyes – no, eye, because one of them was covered with an eye-patch. She had to glance back up to be sure of that. He wore jeans and a plain, dark, V-neck T-shirt, and he had a way of standing and looking at her that told her he was taking in every detail about her and the world in general behind her as she stood in the doorway.

Then, his one dark eye narrowed on her, and surprise spread across his face. As if he couldn’t quite believe it, he asked, “Amanda?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

It was both terrifying and thrilling to see him. Terrifying because she felt closer to everything that had happened to her. Thrilling because remembering seemed important to dealing with it and moving beyond it.

Something else, too. He seemed so familiar. Every time she glanced up at him, she felt a sense of ... coming home, was the closest she could come to describing it. This from a person who’d never had a place to call home. Her childhood had been filled with new people and new places. It had been exciting, but exhausting, too.

So little had been solid and dependable in her world, and now, for a moment, something seemed so familiar and comforting about him.

What had happened between him and her?

She glanced up again. He kept doing that taking-everything-in thing. He looked at the shaved patch on her head, the small scar, still pink and raised. Her cheekbone, no bruise now. Her hair, shorter and a different color. She felt almost naked without all her hair to hide behind.

The next time she glanced up, he was looking at her mid-section. Her ribs, she realized.
He knew she’d been injured there, too.

“Can I come in?” she asked finally.

“Sure.” He unlatched the sturdy screen door and pushed it open for her. “Sorry. I was just surprised.”

And he was seldom surprised, she suspected. The two of them did an elaborate dance so he could hold the screen door open for her and yet she could get past him without touching him.

Because he thought that might scare her? Her body accidentally brushing against a man’s body?

He took a moment to fasten multiple locks on the screen door and the front door, then turned to face her. Hands deep in the pockets of his jeans, he leaned back against the door frame, staring again, somehow managing to look both at ease and wary at the same time.

“I didn’t expect to see you here,” he said finally.

Because he didn’t want to see her? Why? He’d helped to save her life, after all.

Had she even thanked him? She hoped so. Not that she could ever say or do anything to sufficiently thank someone for that.

“So,” he said, when she was still unable to get a word out, “how are you?”

He probably meant it as a simple, polite question, the kind people asked all the time of near-strangers, expecting a polite nothing of an answer back. But already overwhelmed at finding him, she couldn’t come up with a perfunctory answer.

“Honestly, I have no idea how to answer that,” she admitted. “Do you have a few minutes? Can we talk?”

He took a breath. She sensed he didn’t want to talk, but finally, he said, “Sure. Come on into the kitchen. I just made some coffee.”

She followed him, noticing for a split second the way he walked, with a loose, easy sway of his hips, and how nice they looked in a pair of form-fitting, well-worn jeans.

It seemed perfectly normal for a moment, until she realized – these were her first slightly inappropriate thoughts about a man since it happened.

That was progress, wasn’t it? To react with a bit of interest instead of fear? She wondered if her therapist would think so, but to ask, Amanda would have to admit to stalking Will until she found him.

They walked into a big kitchen with a breakfast bar and high stools.

“Have a seat,” he said, opening a cabinet and grabbing a mug. “Coffee?”

“Please,” she said, climbing onto one of the stools.

As he brought the cup to her, along with cream and a bowl filled with sugar packets, she stared at his hands. He had an all-over tan, like a man who was outside a lot--face, neck, the part of his chest visible from his V-neck shirt, arms, even his hands. They were nicked here and there, looked strong and capable. A working-man’s hands.

Did she remember those hands?

She wondered as she poured a bit of cream into her coffee.

He put the breakfast bar and five feet of empty floor space between them as he leaned against the kitchen cabinets, drinking his coffee and watching her.

She wasn’t scared of him, wished he wasn’t all the way across the room. She thought she would feel better if he was close.

“I’m sorry to just … hunt you down and barge in this way,” she said finally.

“Hunt me down?”

She nodded, latching onto that opening because it was easier to talk about than why she was here. “I’ve been lurking in stores and restaurants downtown asking about you. People were very protective of your location.”

“They’re supposed to be.”

“To keep me from finding you?”

 “No.” He laughed, one short sound rumbling out. “This is a shelter for battered women and their children. The location is supposed to be a secret.”

“Oh, of course.”

“Someone gave you the address?”

“Yes, but to be fair, she probably thought I was a battered woman. My ribs still hurt, and I think she saw that when I was getting into the chair so she could cut my hair. And she couldn’t have missed the little shaved patch of hair and the scar on my scalp. Add to that, me saying I really, really needed to talk to Will, about something personal … ”

He nodded. “I can see that. We’re all a little touchy about security right now. The ex-husband of one of our residents found the place a few weeks ago and broke in.”

“Oh. Was anyone hurt?”

“The live-in shelter director. Compound fracture of the leg, but she’s supposed to make a full recovery. Everybody else was just really scared.”

“Wait, kids were here?” Her stomach rolled at the thought.

They must have been so scared.

“Don’t think about it, Amanda,” Will said softly, kindly. “We’re all working hard to keep them safe now.”

“Of course.”

Still ... They must have been so scared.

She kept thinking about the kids in her classroom in Buhkai that day, how scared they must have been. She needed to know she had done all she could to reassure them, to save them.

Being a teacher – not just in places like Buhkai, but now in the U.S. -- where she’d earned her degree and done her student teaching -- meant knowing one day a gunman might walk into your school. A teacher had to be ready, to have a plan. You just hoped you were strong enough to carry it out, if that time ever came.

“Come back, Amanda,” Will said, seeming to know exactly where she’d gone.

And then, she thought she remembered his voice. It was a really nice voice. Deep and full, that rumbling baritone some men had, a voice that could soothe a woman and put her at ease, charm her even, if he wanted to. She thought maybe he’d used that voice, that exact tone, to calm her down, to reassure her, or maybe get her to do what he’d needed her to do in Buhkai.

The voice seemed to hit something deep inside her, as if her body recognized it and it might be able to drill into that hidden part of her brain where her memories were locked away.

She looked up at him, forced a smile across her face.

“There you go,” he said. “Now, let’s try this again. How are you?”

“I have good days and bad days. But I’m here, safe, all in one piece, and I know I wouldn’t be without you,” she said. “So, how does that work? Someone can just call you and off you go? Charging to the rescue?”


The Series In Order
Twelve Days  Book 1
The Edge of Heaven Book 2
Bed of Lies Book 3
Five Days Grace Book 4
Hero of my Heart Book 5

Christmas with

the McRaes

Box Set -

Books 1, 2,3

More of the McRaes