Crash and Burn - Chapter 1: Ke kakahiaka

2727 Piikoi Street, Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii, two days later

Dawn was creeping over the horizon as Lieutenant Catherine Rollins smoothed the collar of her blouse. She wasn’t due back to base until afternoon, but there was nothing that got her quicker out of the house of the man she was sleeping with, than said man whispering another woman’s name in his sleep.

Behind her, Steve rolled over in bed with a slight moan and she stilled. After another shuffle, he settled once more, and Cath turned around to look at him. The sheet has pooled low on his stomach, leaving his muscled torso and delineated abdomen bare to her view. God, he was gorgeous. And sweet. Caring and tender. Passionate and too damn sexy for his own good.

And in love with someone else.

Because this wasn’t the first time he’s whispered another name instead of hers. It has happened before. A lot. He often called out to the mystery woman in his sleep. Tonight, though, was the first time he groaned it at climax.

Cath frowned. He’s never used her name during sex. It was always endearments like ‘baby’, ‘sweetheart’, and such. And tonight, when he’d finally used an actual name, it hadn’t been hers. She narrowed her eyes down at him. Maybe even the endearments weren’t meant for her. He never actually looked at her when he was inside her, his eyes either closed or focused on a spot on the pillow beside her head. She shuddered. God, what if she was right? What if he imagined making love to someone else whenever they were together? She didn’t want to believe it, but...He had whispered someone else’s name when he’d come earlier.

His movement on the bed caught her attention. He reached his arm out in his sleep, his hand seeking something on the side of the bed she’s recently vacated. When he came up empty, his face crumbled a little and a small, heartbreaking sigh escaped his lips. Followed by a name. Another woman’s name murmured with such sorrow and bereavement, Cath felt her eyes fill with tears. She wanted to comfort him. Hug him and tell him everything would be all right. Wake him up and ask him to tell her everything.

She shook her head. What the hell was she doing? Crying over a man who said the wrong name during sex. Who whispered the wrong name in his sleep. Even if she confronted him, he’d close up like a clam and she wouldn’t get anything out of him. So she did what was best. She turned on her heel and quietly closed the door behind her, saying a silent goodbye to the man she loved, who would never return her feelings.

When his alarm went off, Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett checked the time, then pushed the alarm clock away. He turned, fully intending to gather Catherine’s warm, pliant body into his arms and wake them both up with a bout of hot and sweaty sex, but he came up empty. There was no one beside him and the linens were cold. His bed partner was long gone.

Steve sat up in bed, scrubbed his hands over his face, and peered around his bedroom. She wasn’t there. He left the bed, pulled on his boxers and went in search of her. “Cath?”

“She’s gone,” his sister Mary replied from the living room. “She left quite early, too. At the crack of dawn, I’d say.”

“’Morning, Mare. What were you doing up at the crack of dawn?”

“Being envious.”

He’d be damned if he blushed, so Steve simply flashed her a goofy grin. “Did we wake you?”

She scowled. “I couldn’t even fall asleep.” She stood from the couch, went into the kitchen, and poured him a cup of coffee. “So what did you do?”

He followed her, took the cup she offered and swallowed a mouthful before looking at her questioningly. “Excuse me?”

“You must have done something to make her leave that early. From what I heard, you did everything right.” She smirked. “So it must’ve been something after. What was it?”

He shrugged, baffled. Cath had told him she didn’t need to be at the base until afternoon. “I have no idea.”

Mary smiled. “I’m sure it wasn’t anything a nice flower arrangement and a dinner invitation won’t cure.”

He grunted and stared out the window.

She sighed. “So, what will you do on your day off without your girlfriend here?”

“It’s not my day off.”

“But you told—”

Steve turned, shook his head. “The acting governor arrives today. We’re the protective detail.”

Mary felt her muscles stiffen. Lately that happened every time someone mentioned the word ‘governor’. They might have had a dysfunctional childhood, but they were still family. He was her brother and when he’d been accused of murdering the previous governor, ending up in jail, and almost shanked to death, she’d felt as if her world had ended. She never wanted to go through something like that again. She didn’t want to lose her brother.

“I hope this one’s better than his predecessor.”

Steve smiled and dropped an arm around her shoulders. “You know how the world of politics works, all secrets and mysteries, but from what I heard Marcus Hawthorne might just be one of the few honest ones.”

“Marcus Hawthorne?”

“Yeah. He’s rather new in politics. And young. 34, third generation. Both his grandfather and father were senators.”

Mary sucked in a sharp breath. “Oh, my God.”

“What is it, Mare?”

She shook his arm off. “Nothing. Nothing. I just...I just remembered I had plans to meet a friend at the Ala Moana Center.”

And she took off, leaving her brother staring after her with a puzzled frown.

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