Crash and Burn - Chapter 46: Ha’aheo ā ‘apo

“Maybe I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I’m asking for it anyway.”

Steve flinched. Remembering what she’s said to him ever since coming back, looking at it from this new angle, it suddenly made sense. If she’d cheated on him, she would never have asked for forgiveness, because if places were reversed, she’d never forgive.

“My friend was willing to do anything to save a loved one, even if it meant handing over a lethal weapon.”

He’d asked her who they’d threatened, whether they’d threatened Hawthorne.

“Yes, they threatened the man I love.”

They’d threatened him. She’d told him the truth, everything he asked, she’d answered. Maybe not fully, letting out details and names...

“Why don’t you tell me the truth for once?”

But she had told him the truth. And she had been so right.

“I don’t want to sound like a cliché, but you couldn’t handle the truth, Steven.”

Now that he knew it all, he couldn’t handle it. And she had known that.

“There’s too much...Between us, I mean...We both know I can’t stay.”

And still she’d protected him. With her brother.

“If you intend to stand there, heaping blame on people who don’t deserve it, I don’t want you here.”

With Wo Fat, because now, looking back, it had been obvious she hadn’t wanted him there in that clearing, it had been in her eyes when she’d looked at him, she had gone wild when the man had pointed his gun at him...And she’d been willing to die so he could capture the man who had had his father killed.

“You should’ve taken him alive.”

And he’d replied it had been worth it. It had. Because no criminal, no murderer, was worthy of her life.

And after everything that happened, after his insults—he flinched again, remembering what he’d said to her—his inability to see her again after the clearing, she still protected him until the end.

“Somehow your father’s name never made it into that particular report. Very strange indeed.”

And why? Because she loved him.

“Head-over-heels for a Navy SEAL. She hasn’t been the same since.”

And when confronted, she’d once more told the truth, only he had been too stupid and too jealous to listen.

“Do you love him?”
“More than you loved me?”
“It’s different.”

It was evident in her every look, in her every touch, it had been in her every kiss, her every sigh that night. And he’d walked away, not wanting to listen, not wanting to know, burying his head in the sand.

She hadn’t been honest with him, true, but she had had her reasons, valid ones. What about him? He also hadn’t been honest with her, letting her think he was still seeing Catherine, while he’d been waiting for her to reveal her secrets even as he was blind to the truth that’s been right in front of his eyes from the start.

Now, looking back, he could see there had been nothing romantic between Sabrina and the governor. They’d smiled, they’d laughed together, they’d held hands, they’d hugged that day in the clearing...They hadn’t kissed.

“Sabrina Logan is my sister.”

The first thing he would’ve done was kiss her when she was safe. But that was for a lover to do. Not a brother. He had kissed her that day in the clearing, hard and quick, but a kiss nonetheless. While her brother had merely hugged her.

Jesus. He should’ve seen it that day. And he hadn’t. He was such an idiot.

“I wish I had him in front of me, look him in the eye and shake his hand for being man enough to capture my little girl’s heart. To tell him not to be stupid and that if he still loves her, he should take another shot at it. Because she sure still loves him.”

God. Both her father and Joe had told him to not be stupid, to not let pride blind him, and what had he done? Ran away.

Just as he’d done before.

“We SEALs are tough, he should’ve fought for her, tried to learn the truth, made her see that he was willing to see it through no matter what.”

When their eyes had met over the crowd, there’s been a little sliver of hope in hers, but it had died when she’d seen the expression on his face. Who would blame her?

But he was done being an idiot, he was done being stupid, and he was done hoping she’d come back to him. She had. She’d done her part, now it was time for him to do his.

He grinned and strode back toward the woman he loved. The woman who, if he had anything to do with it, wasn’t leaving tomorrow morning.

Steve strode back into the light-decorated courtyard just as Sabrina was shimmying on the dance floor with Cath’s date. She looked happy and relaxed, a bright smile curving her lips, but at a closer look—after he’d stomped his jealousy into submission, that is—he could see it was all a mask. Her eyes were sad, the corners of her mouth pinched. The smile was false, the cheery attitude was false. And all because of him.

He stepped forward, but the governor, who’d been dancing with Mary—at least those two had quickly resolved their issues—left his dancing partner and approached him with a menacing scowl, with Mary, of course, following quickly.

“Stay away from my sister, McGarrett,” Marc growled. “You’ve done enough for tonight.”

Steve smirked. “Not nearly enough, Hawthorne.”

“Steve,” Mary admonished, but there was something in her brother’s eyes that brought a slight smile onto her lips. He had come around. Hurrah!

Marc took another step forward. “You’re done hurting her, you son of a bitch,” he hissed. “She’s done nothing but protect you, but you’re too blind to see it and too thick to realize it even when told.”

Steve’s smirk turned into a smile. It was good to know Sabrina had someone as adamant at protecting her as him. Maybe together he and Hawthorne might actually curb that impulsive dive-into-dangerous-situations instinct.

“My father didn’t have to tell you, she’d kill him if she knew, but I hoped you’d see reason. I was wrong. I want to wipe that smile off your face, you bastard, but I won’t do it in front of her. You’re not worthy of becoming a martyr.”

Steve nodded. Sabrina had just changed dancing partners. Her back ramrod stiff, she was dancing a slow dance with Sebastian Hawthorne. “Okay, now let me pass.”

“You’re not getting near her, McGarrett.”

“Marc, please,” Mary whispered.

Marc shook his head. “No, I’m not letting him near her. He’s done enough for tonight.”

Steve got into Hawthorne’s face. “We both know a grunt can’t take a SEAL, but if you’re that confident, go ahead. But I warn you, I’ll sweep the floor with you if you try to keep me from Sabrina one moment longer. Do you understand?”

Marc’s jaw dropped at the vehemence in the man’s voice, the determination in his eyes. There was something else in those eyes. Something he’s missed at first. He grinned. “It’s good we had this chat.”

“Yeah, and listen, if I ever hurt her again, I’ll let you kick my ass,” Steve replied, his eyes firmly on the woman in dark blue gliding along the dance floor in her father’s arms. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel like dancing.”

“I thought he was different,” Sebastian Hawthorne said with a scowl. “I thought he deserved you, but I guess I was wrong.”

Reena met his eyes. “What makes you say that?”

Sebastian frowned down at his daughter. “I don’t know, the skipping after learning you’re available might have given me an idea.”

She shook her head. “He has all the right to hate me, Sebastian. I lied to him, I deliberately deceived him...I understand. And that’s why I’m leaving.”

Sebastian sighed. Love. After all, she still protected that damned idiot who couldn’t see what he had if it bit him on the ass. He’d liked the guy at first sight, the look in those eyes spoke of integrity, the clasp of the hand spoke of strength, the set of the shoulders spoke of self-confidence, and the commendations over his heart screamed of bravery. And he’d disappointed him the first chance he got.

Sebastian could understand hurt, he could understand a broken heart, but how could someone not see and take the opportunity given. If the boy didn’t love his daughter, fine, the least he could do was talk to her, get them both the closure they deserved. Yet he split. The bastard.

And now he was back.

He watched with grim satisfaction as his son exchanged words McGarrett at the edge of the dance floor. Pretty heated words. Good. Excellent even, judging by the look on McGarrett’s face. He didn’t look pleased.

Then, as Sebastian watched, McGarrett smiled, got into his son’s face, seemed to growl a few words and Marc grinned. Sebastian frowned. What were they discussing? They seemed to have come to some sort of an understanding, because Marc let him go and McGarrett was on his way toward him and Sabrina.

And judging by the determined look in those blue eyes, the boy would not be deterred. No matter what. Only Sabrina could probably stop him right now, and she was completely oblivious.

She wouldn’t be for long though.

“May I cut in?”

Hearing that deep, slightly raspy voice, Reena froze, looked to her right, and met Steve’s serious blue eyes. He didn’t look angry, he...He didn’t look anything, really.

“No, you may not,” Sebastian snapped. “I’m dancing with my daughter. Right, honey?”

She felt her left eye twitch at the endearment. He smiled slightly and she knew he was trying to protect her from getting hurt, but it was a little too late for that. Besides, masochistic as she might be, she wanted to dance one last dance with Steve. Tuck the memory close to her heart to treasure in the years to come.

Sebastian frowned. She wasn’t truly considering dancing with the cad, was she? “Sabrina.”

She looked at Steve. “Fine,” she murmured neutrally.


Reena shook her head. “It’s just a dance, Sebastian.”

It was his turn to experience the eye-twitch, though she couldn’t be sure if it were because of the name or her decision. But he nodded, glared at Steve, and grudgingly stepped aside.

Steve ignored the older man. He had eyes only for Sabrina and the strange apprehension in her eyes.

“You call you father by his name?” he murmured.

“Sperm donor.”

He chuckled. “Boy, can you hold a grudge.”

She scoffed. “It’s not a grudge, really. He likes to play a doting father, I like to play the resentful daughter. He’s happy, I’m happy. A win-win situation.”

He felt a corner of his mouth curl as he curved his right arm behind her back and she tentatively placed her left palm on his upper arm. He clasped her right hand in his left and pulled her more fully against him.

As he guided her in a half-turn, the music suddenly changed mid-tune. The already slow song became even slower, moodier. Perfect for what he had in mind.

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