Crash and Burn - Chapter 8: Nā kahamaha

Tomb-like silence descended on the office after Sabrina dropped her bombshell. Everybody stared at the top photo on the screen. It showed Wo Fat and ‘Jenna Kaye’ in an embrace, it was snapped right before a kiss, with Wo Fat cupping the woman’s face in his hands, leaning down, their lips parted, their gazes locked.

As if feeling his inner turmoil, Sabrina turned to Steve, her eyes understanding. “You could not have known.” Don’t beat yourself up for it, her eyes communicated, think of the next step.

Thankful for her grounding presence, he flashed her a small smile as understanding shot between them. She was the only one in this room who really understood, having been in his position in the past. One small decision could mean the difference between life and death. He’s thought that having left his military career behind, he was free of the beware-who-you-trust issues, but this latest betrayal’s proved him wrong.

“Steve,” she murmured. “Don’t.”

The ringing of his phone broke the little interlude. He answered, listened, disconnected, looked at his team. “We have another murder.”

A new case always took precedence.

“Another?” Kono asked.

Steve nodded grimly. “A bookstore owner in Manoa.”

An awkward moment passed, when they all looked at Sabrina. She was part of their team now, but she had no partner, and...She wasn’t really part of their team. At least not yet.

Sabrina hooked her thumbs in her pockets. “You go ahead. I have to see a man about a gun, anyway. And about this,” she said, tapping on the computer so the Zagorinskaya data disappeared, “I’ll make a few calls.”




Crescent Moon bookstore, Manoa, O’ahu

The lock on the back door to the bookstore was broken, the cash register in the small office was open, little drawers from the antique wooden desk lay in disarray under it, their contents spilled on the polished wooden floor. Nothing else had been touched; nothing else appeared to be out of place. The front store was in pristine order, the books nicely tucked onto their shelves, the little throw pillows neatly placed onto small armchairs positioned cozily around the shop. The fake fire crackled in the fireplace in the small sitting area, the poker from the fireplace lay on the hardwood floor, stained with blood.

The CSU team was already on site, taking measurements, dusting for fingerprints, snapping pictures of the woman’s body lying on the snowy-white rug in front of her fireplace, her eyes staring sightlessly up to the ceiling, the side of her head caked with dried blood. The blood that had gushed from her wound has created a crimson halo-like stain on the rug.

Kono and Chin were shedding their black latex gloves, when Danny and Steve arrived, having had to stop at Steve’s house for his truck, since Mary was due back from L.A. in the afternoon.

“What you got?” Steve asked when they met in the back office.

“The victim is Ema Liwai,” Kono started, “63, widowed, sole owner of the bookstore, lived in Manoa her whole life. Cause of death appears to be blunt-force-trauma to the head, before 9 a.m. when she usually opened the shop.”

“Who found her?” Steve asked.

“Son, Keanu Liwai, 42, only living relative. He’s waiting outside.”

Danny looked around at the contents of the desk, the open cash register. “Looks like robbery.”

“It does,” Chin replied. “But a nice lady who lives down the street, and plays poker with Ms. Liwai and the other grannies around here, told me Ms. Liwai always emptied the register and took the cash to the bank before their weekly game. Which is on Wednesday.”

“Today’s Thursday,” Kono put in.

“And Ms. Liwai cleaned up her friends at the poker table last night,” Chin finished. “Which means the money is safely at the bank.”

“And anybody casing the place would’ve known her weekly schedule,” Danny finished.

Steve crossed his arms over his chest. “Someone went to a lot of trouble to make this look like a robbery gone bad.” He met Danny’s eyes, the corner of his lips curving. “Let’s go talk to the distraught son.”




HPD Headquarters, Honolulu, two hours later

Sabrina held the phone to her ear with her shoulder as she pushed the door open. “Okay, Peters,” she said to her contact at Langley. “Send me anything you can get, and keep looking.”

“Will do,” Edward Peters replied. “Take care, Reen and don’t be a stranger.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You always call only when you need something,” he said, his deep voice laced with a smile.

“Ed, you wound me,” Sabrina replied. “But you know me too well. Say ‘hi’ to the wife.”

“I will. Be safe.”

“You too.”

As soon as she disconnected the call, her phone rang again. She straddled her bike and smiled down at her phone screen, pressed the ‘Accept’ button.

“What can I do for you, governor?”

“Did you qualify?”

Sabrina scoffed. “Of course I did.” She grinned, feeling the familiar weight of the gun at her waist. “I told everybody this was only a formality, but no one believed me.”

“I did.”

She laughed. “Yes, but you’re biased.”

“True,” Marc agreed. “Listen, how about celebrating?”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Lunch.”

“I could eat.”




Half an hour later she was munching on her second kebab sitting on the shaded bench she’d shared with Steve that morning.

“So what do you think?”

Marc watched another bite disappear into her mouth. “That I’ve never seen a woman eat so much.”

She shrugged. “I’m a growing young lady, I need sustenance. Don’t change the subject.”

He inclined his head. “Fine. I agree with you, it’s all highly suspect. You stay on it.”

“I plan to.”

“You don’t think—”

When he suddenly stopped, she looked at him. “What?”

Marc shook his head. “It’s nothing.”

“Marc, tell me?”

“Could this be connected to your last case with NSA?”

The food suddenly lost its taste and Sabrina fought to swallow the mouthful. “What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure, Reen. It’s just a hunch.” Marc rubbed his eyes. “What Peters told you...I don’t know, it might be connected. Wo Fat never registered on your radar, but what if he was involved?”

She shook her head vehemently. “No, I knew all the players.” Her eyes turned bleak. “And they were dealt with.”

He leaned over the table, took her hand. “For a time there, you suspected an inside job, someone else’s involvement could be pretty easy to hide.” He rubbed his thumb over her wrist. “Especially afterward, when you didn’t bother to look at it closely.”

“God, Marc. If you’re right...It would mean...He was this close to him.”

Her eyes swam with unshed tears and he clasped her hand harder. “And nothing happened,” he reminded her.

“What does he want?”

“Whatever it is, you can use it to draw him into a trap. But first, make sure you have all the facts.” He smiled. “You’re good at that.”

She nodded, smiled back, opened her mouth to thank him, when his eyes widened.

“Mary?”

Sabrina turned and her gaze collided with Steve’s. His eyes were hard, angry sparks snapping in the blue depths. She mentally sighed. What now?

“Hello, Marc,” the woman beside Steve said.

Sabrina finally looked at Steve’s companion. She could not have been any taller than her, with long, blond, wavy hair, brown eyes, and pouty lips. There was something familiar in those brown eyes, sparks of anger, and just a hint of sadness. The expression was similar to...Her brothers?

She stood, wiped her hand on her jeans, and offered it. “Sabrina Logan.”

After a moment’s hesitation, the other woman grasped her fingers, gave a quick shake, and let go. “Mary McGarrett.”

So she was right. “Nice to meet you.”

“Whatever,” Mary mumbled, shot a slight glare at Marc, looked away.

Sabrina glanced back at her brother and almost laughed at his expression. Part hurt, part resignation, a whole lot of longing. She might have laughed if she didn’t suspect she probably wore a similar expression whenever she looked at Steve.

There was definitely history there. And her brother didn’t share. How remiss of him. “You know each other?”

“Yes, we do,” Marc answered with a look that didn’t invite further questions.

Sabrina fought a grin. “How come?”

“It’s a long story.”

This time she did grin. “I’m sure it is.” Then she looked back at the McGarrett family. “Come, sit with us,” she invited, her smile disappearing at the look in Steve’s eyes.

The anger in his eyes now mixed with speculation, and if the glare he pierced Marc with was any indication, his thought process mirrored hers.

It was Mary who replied, “No, thank you. I just flew in from L.A. I just wanted to say ‘hi’ to Kamekona.”

“Okay, then,” Sabrina said. “It was nice meeting you.”

Mary left without another word, while Steve shot Sabrina another look, strangely filled with accusation, before following his sister.

“What was that all about?” Marc asked.

“You never know with Steve,” Sabrina answered with a shrug. “One step forward, two steps back. You’d think he was born with that scowl.” She smiled at Danny’s ‘aneurism’ metaphor.

Then she turned to her brother. “It’s my turn now. What was that all about? And forget the cliff notes, I want the whole damn novel.”

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