Crash and Burn - Chapter 45: Pa’akikĭ

“I knew it”, Nate whooped beside her, echoing the sentiments heard from other tables around them. “I just knew it,” he repeated, looking at Catherine with twinkling eyes. “Not knew it knew it, but I suspected. God, looking back it was so obvious.” He slapped his forehead. “What an idiot. I have to go. Sorry,” he added apologetically, kissed her softly on the mouth and went to join Marcus, Sabrina, and Hawthorne Senior at their table.

Cath ventured a quick glance at Steve. He sat there, his face an unreadable mask, as he stared as Sabrina, now enclosed in her brother’s arms, brushing stray tears off her cheeks. Catherine shook her head. It should’ve been him there, holding Sabrina. What the heck was he still doing sitting around?

“Now it all makes sense,” Danny said and looked at his friend. “Doesn’t it?”

Steve pushed his chair back and stood. “Excuse me.”

Instead of going to Sabrina, he veered off toward the bar. Danny and Chin exchanged glances and with murmured apologies followed.

“It was obvious, wasn’t it?” Mary whispered, looking at Kono.

Kono shrugged. “It was obvious there was nothing romantic between them, yes.”

“Catherine?”

Cath smiled slightly and nodded. “Not the real relationship,” she answered. “But the rest...Yes.”

“Bu we didn’t see.”

Cath watched as Sabrina offered a wobbly smile at Marcus and Nate, and dashed toward the ladies’ room.

“If you’ll excuse me,” Cath murmured. “I’ll be right back.”




She’d cried. She almost never cried, yet she’d cried like a baby, when Marc announced their true relationship tonight. Cried because he’d revealed something personal, cried because he’d been so incredibly sweet afterward, kneeling beside her chair and kissing her cheek...Cried because she was relieved it was all over. Cried because she had no idea what would happen next and feared the worst.

So here she was, in the vast ladies’ room—pardon, powder room—staring at herself in the mirror, wondering at the minimal damage caused to her makeup. Whatever they used at the Hilton spa, it was miraculous stuff. She certainly didn’t look like a woman who’d cried recently.

She straightened, when the door to the powder room opened and Catherine Rollins swept in.

“Hi,” she said. “What a reveal.”

Reena just looked at her.

“Yes, well, I imagined something like that, you know,” Catherine continued, fixing her hair. “There was no romantic vibe between you two. I wonder how Steve couldn’t see, but I guess it’s easier to watch from a distance.” She shrugged.

Reena thought of what to say. Compliment the dress, perhaps? Nah, she hated small talk. “I heard you’re here with Nate.”

“Yes, I am.” Catherine looked at her, wondering where the conversation was heading.

“I hope you’re as committed as he is.”

“What’s that to you?”

“He’s been my best friend for ages.” An eyebrow arched in challenge. “If you hurt him, remember I can find you and I can and will hurt you.”

Catherine smiled. “I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.”

Debating whether to say more, Catherine decided against it—let the two idiots figure it out—and opened the door, when Sabrina’s voice caught up with her. “Why did you break it off?”

Catherine looked at her over her shoulder. “It got crowded in the end and I didn’t really belong.”

“What does that mean?”

“Why don’t you ask him?” And with a wink, she left the room.

Reena frowned slightly, shrugged and followed, only to encounter her brother lying in wait just outside the door.

“What is it?” she asked at the sight of the grave expression on his face. “Did someone die while I was in there?”

Marc shook his head, his insides in a tight knot. “I need a favor.”

“Well, you went and blurted our secret to everyone, so I shouldn’t feel magnanimous.” She smiled. “But you’re my brother and you know I’d do pretty much everything for you. Damn you. What do you need?”

He smiled sheepishly. “Could you talk to Mary?”

“I did this morning.”

“No. Now.”

“What? Why?”

He cleared his throat. “Because...Because I’m too afraid to.”

She put her hands to her hips. “So you admit you’re a coward.”

“Yes.”

“Willing to put it in writing?”

“Reen.”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll talk to her. I’ll get you the girl. Again.”

He grinned. “I owe you. Whatever you want. Name it.”

“Your firstborn sounds too harsh. I’ll let you know.” She shooed him off. “Now go on, mingle, and let me work.”




Mary sat at the deserted table, playing with her chocolate mousse, when her skin was brushed by a faintly perfumed breeze as Sabrina dropped into the chair Steve had recently occupied.

“Hey, Mary.”

Mary instinctively responded to the woman’s smile. “Hey.”

“Sorry to interrupt your sparring match with the desert, but Marc sent me here to mediate.”

Mary felt her smile widen. “Did he now?”

Reena nodded. “He’d put it differently, of course. He begged me to talk to you because he’s too afraid to. His words. I have no idea what he’s so afraid of, it’s not like you could hurt him physically—though if you want to, I’d be more than happy to give you some pointers.”

“Maybe he’s afraid, because he’s kept a secret from me for so long.”

“My fault,” Reena quickly said. “All my fault, so don’t hold it against him. I didn’t want him to tell, because I wasn’t really ready to be Sebastian Hawthorne’s daughter, and I didn’t want his career to suffer, and I certainly didn’t want him to suffer for his connection to me.”

“I know.”

“And—What?”

Mary smiled. “Why don’t you go back to your brother and suggest he might invite me to dance? And you might want to have a little conversation with my brother. Or does the fright of talking to the ones you love run in the family as taking wrong assumptions runs in mine?”

Reena looked away. “Somewhat, but the conversation with your brother would...”

“Take some more revealing of secrets?”

Reena nodded. “And he most certainly won’t be as magnanimous as you have been toward Marc.”

“Do you blame him?”

“No. I don’t. He’d be right to.” A sad smile. “I’ll just go fetch Marc.”

“And talk to Steve,” Mary called after her, just as Reena met the man in question’s blue gaze across the crowd.

His expression was impassive, his eyes blank, and before she could even attempt a smile, he turned and walked away, away from the crowd, away from the dance floor, away from the little white lights...Away from her.

“I think we’ve already said what we had to say to each,” she replied over her shoulder and went in search of her brother.

Mary shook her head, watching her brother’s retreating back with sad eyes. That damned McGarrett pride. Didn’t he get it?




Joe caught up with him on the beach. “Care to tell me why you’re out here brooding, son?”

Steve, his hands thrust into his pockets, was silent, looking out over the sea.

“Fine, don’t talk,” Joe said. “I don’t need you to talk, I need you to listen. The girl loves you. She might have a strange way of showing it, but she loves you. More than anything.”

“What do you know?”

“A lot more than you think.” Joe sighed. “Weren’t you there earlier, when Seb told the story? Weren’t you listening?”

“Everybody can tell a story.”

A soft curse. “But no one could be more dense than a proud man. You wanted to know why she left you, now you do. She broke it off to protect you, to keep you alive. That day in the clearing, she didn’t want you anywhere close to Wo Fat. Do you remember how she went wild when Wo Fat pointed his gun at you? Remember everything that happened, now and before, everything that was said, everything that was done.”

“She didn’t tell me. She didn’t trust me.”

“She trusted you more than anyone else. She let you in, Steve. She let you see behind that famous wall of hers.”

“Yeah,” Steve chuckled bitterly. “She still didn’t tell me she had a brother.”

“She had her reasons. Wrong ones, but she believed otherwise. Yes, she should’ve told you Marc was her brother. But then what? She would’ve done the same, she still would’ve broken it off, and you’d only think of some other reason why she did it. It’s not like you desperately wanted to know. You just let her walk away.” Joe sighed. “We all make mistakes, Steve. She did, but so are you doing now.”

Steve kept silent.

“Don’t let her walk away again, son. I know you love her. Don’t let her get away. Don’t let stupid pride cloud your judgment. Don’t let her go.”

He’s said his piece, he’s said enough. He couldn’t make the decision for Steve. All he could do was go back, grab a beer and hope for the best. He clapped his hand onto Steve shoulder. “Let your heart guide you, son, not your pride. And for the record, she quit DHS.”

And he walked away, leaving Steve alone to stare at the sea.

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