Crash and Burn - Chapter 10: Ka ua kakahiaka

Walking along the beach at first light was always a wonderful experience. The tourists were still hidden in their ACd hotel rooms, sleeping off their hangovers, making love, resting before a new eventful day...The locals were either still home or off to work, the surfers yet waiting for the report to tell them if they should even bother to venture out on their boards...So this morning he had the beach all to himself with only seagulls to keep him company.

The swishing sound of the surf licking the sand cleared his head, the soft breeze caressing his cheeks relaxed him, the soft sunlight spilling over the surface of the sea, helped center him, helped him think.

It’s been a rough night of long-overdue talks as he and his sister finally got reacquainted. Secrets were revealed, emotions exposed, hurts drowned in alcohol. Well, at least he’d tried to get drunk, while Mary had succeeded. And since he couldn’t sleep off his nonexistent hangover, Steve had been driven to the beach. To think.

About Mary. About a few points she’d driven home last night. Points about Sabrina, the governor, her, him and his apparent inability to move on...

“It’s over, Steve,” Mary had said. “But not for you. You’re not over it. You’re not over her. She hangs over you like a cloud. You need closure if you ever want to have a normal relationship again. With Catherine or anyone else.”

His sister was right. He needed closure, he needed to put it all behind him, but it was difficult to do, to try and talk to Sabrina, when whenever he saw her he either wanted to grab her and kiss her senseless, or snarl at her for being there, bringing it all up to the surface again. And when he’d seen her with Hawthorne. God, it hurt. After five years, it still hurt, and he still didn’t know for sure whether she’d left him because of Hawthorne or someone else...

“You don’t even know the real reason why she left you,” his sister had reminded him. “You have your suspicions, but you don’t know.”

And asking her for explanations was easier said than done. Because of what he still felt for her making him a little crazy, and because she wasn’t talking. Sure they’d talked yesterday morning with her attempts at becoming friends—and didn’t that chafe?—but she hadn’t really offered any explanations, beside the usual ‘it’s complicated’ spiel.

And he hadn’t pushed. Not yesterday, not five years ago. He just took it and kept his silence.

“What an idiot,” he whispered to himself. “What an idiot you are, Steve McGarrett.”

“I’m no psychologist, but I don’t think talking to yourself is a good sign.”

Steve froze in his contemplation of the sea as goose bumps erupted on his skin at the sound of the voice behind him. He slowly turned and there she was. The subject of his musings. Sabrina Logan.

Reena cocked her head, waiting for the axe to fall. He’d looked so angry the previous afternoon, she knew their little talk from even earlier had been forgotten. She steeled herself—

“Good morning,” he said and watched her blink in surprise. He was sure she’d been expecting a different reaction.

He’d probably react differently if it weren’t for his sister’s words still echoing in his ears.

“She doesn’t want to talk? Fine. Don’t talk. Observe. You’re good at that. Get close to her again, let her drop her guard...You’re the master tactician of this family, Steve. Don’t go on the offensive. Wait for it. Then, when she least expects it, you pounce.”

It sounded incredibly sappy, to wait for crumbs she was willing to throw him, to just be content to spend time with her. Machiavellian, to use her for her brain and contacts for help with his father’s last case, then spring a trap on her so she’d finally tell him what had gone wrong between them...But he had to give Mary credit. She was right. Offensive didn’t work with a fortress like Sabrina Logan, one needed to wait her out. As long as it took.

He took her in, from her breeze-tousled hair, to her black polo T-shirt, sand-colored cargo pants, black combat boots that have seen better times, and back up again. “What brings you to the beach at this hour?”

Reena looked at him a little longer, trying to discern his real mood, but there was nothing to indicate he was faking it. He was being civil. Friendly, just like she’d suggested yesterday. Who was she to object? She liked him better when he was in a good mood. The furrows between his brows disappeared, a sparkle appeared in his eyes, and that smile...It still made her weak at the knees.

She shrugged, going for a nonchalant tone, “I was early, no one was at the office, yet, so I decided to take a walk. Clear my head.”

They’ve had the same idea. He too had arrived at the office when it was still dark, and instead of sitting around, raking his brain about the motive-filled, yet suspect-less, since the obvious ones had airtight alibis, two murder cases, he’d decided to take a walk down the beach.

“A lot on your mind?”

Reena looked out at the sea. “Something I’ve possibly missed in a previous case has been brought to my attention yesterday.”

“Want to talk about it?”

She shook her head slowly. “Not really.”

“Fair enough.” A movement of his head replaced the question whether she wanted to head back. When she nodded, he continued, “Anything new on the Wo Fat front?”

“I’ve put up some feelers, alerted a few friends.”

They walked a few minutes in comfortable silence, side by side, just a couple on a morning stroll, before she picked up where she left off, “I got a call from Langley earlier, that’s what got me to the office, Wo Fat and Zagorinskaya have disappeared.”

“Meaning?”

“No one seems to know where they’re holed up. The intelligence network is abuzz, yet no one’s able to find them.”

“Dead?”

Reena shook her head. “Highly improbable. A hit like that would reverberate. Instead, we have static.”

Steve looked up at the sky. The sun was still making an effort, but gray clouds gathered quickly above them. “We might have to run for it.”

She looked up and her eyes widened as her jaw dropped. “Wow, you weren’t kidding when you told me about the sudden rain.”

He grinned down at her. “Nope.”

When the first fat drops fell, Steve threw his head back to feel the rain on his skin. When she shrieked as a drop splattered against her overheated skin, he laughed, grasped her hand, and pulled her after him in the downpour.

A few minutes later, when they rushed up the steps to the HQ, they were both soaked to the skin, laughing like crazy.

Up in the main office, Reena pulled her soaked T-shirt away from her skin, her teeth rattling. “You wouldn’t happen to have a spare shirt, would you?”

“Come with me.”

In his office, he pulled two white V-neck tees out of a drawer, giving her one. “Here you go. It’s big—”

“Better than being wet, thanks.”

He nodded. “There should be towels in the bathroom.”

“I know where it is.”




Five minutes later, dry and warm in Steve’s T-shirt, a fresh towel in her hand, she had to stop in the hallway. Leaning against the doorjamb, she watched the muscles of his back flex under his skin as he pulled his wet shirt off and used it to pat his chest. Her eyes drank in his wide shoulders, the tats, as always, making her want to run her fingers over them, the wide expanse of his back tapering down to his trim waist...

He turned and she immediately schooled her features into a bland mask, pushed off the door, walked back to his office and offered him the towel.

“Here you go,” she said. “I thought you might need it.”

“Thanks.” He smiled at the picture she made. With his T-shirt falling almost to her knees, the sleeves hitting her elbows, and her wet hair curling against her cheeks and neck, she looked cute beyond words. But with minor adjustments...Wearing nothing but his shirt, for example, she’d instantly look the picture of just-rolled-out-of-bed sexy.

He remembered that look vividly. He also remembered, in full color and surround sound, what had used to happen before and after that particular outfit of hers. His favorite look on her. His heart picked up speed, his blood heated, and all kinds of things started happening below his belt. Luckily for him, she wasn’t looking below his pectorals. And the look in her eyes made things below even more lively. With regret and a small grin, he pulled the fresh T-shirt over his head, blocking her view.

Reena felt the blush on her cheeks as she realized she had been ogling. Again. Resisting licking her lips, she met his eyes. “I’ll...”She had to clear her throat, before she could go on. “I’ll need some space to work.”

“Sure. You can set up here.”

She frowned. “This is your office.”

“We don’t have an extra one and you can’t work at the conference table. I know you need a semblance of peace.” He shrugged. “You won’t bother me, I’m rarely in here.”

“Okay. Thanks. I’ll just get my stuff.” She motioned to the computer case beside a chair with her helmet on in the outer office. “Meanwhile, you can get the surveillance video your father taped in the governor’s office. Maybe I can get some sound out of it.”

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