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Notes and disclaimer in part one.

Danni's POV:

The nerve of him! Touching me without permission and in the office no less. I march from the office while answering my phone. "Detective Williams." I try to keep my annoyance from my voice but doubt I'm successful.

Detective,-" Kim Pho, the ADA for the trial sounds frustrated. "-you are nearly late."

I swallow an aggravated sigh. "I'm aware. I needed to stop by the office real quick. I'll be there in five."

"Going to use lights and sirens aren't you?" her voice is thick with censure.

"Maybe," I say in a way that means 'hell yes I am'.

Kim sighs deeply. "It would appear that Commander McGarrett is a bad influence on you."

I can't help but grin at that. "Oh, no, Councilor, I'd say he's a perfect influence on me."

"Yeah, whatever. Just get here!"

Being able to fluster someone like Kim Pho makes me laugh. Especially when I make a reference to what Steve and I do behind closed doors but they don't get it.

Turns out I don't need to use lights and sirens to get to the courthouse on time. For once traffic is light and I make every green light.

I've nearly forgotten about the smear on my thigh until I start up the courthouse stairs and feel my skirt catch where it's dried. It pisses me off all over again.

"Ah, there you are, Detective. Finally!" Kim, a very petite Japanese woman, comes rushing up to me the moment the elevator doors open. "I want to go over your testimony one more time."

Standing next to Kim makes me feel huge, even though I'm not. I'm five foot five and one hundred-fifty pounds of mostly muscle from my gymnastic days, and my current exercise routine. I sit down on the bench Kim has led me to near the courtroom where the trial will take place.

"Relax, Kim. It'll go just as smoothly as the grand jury did." I check my phone but don't have any new messages or texts. I was expecting Steve to apologize again. "Besides, I caught the punk red-handed. Not sure how the defense can argue against that."

"You'd be surprised what defense lawyers can come up with." She shifts on the bench until she's sitting sideways. "You're positive you did everything by the book?"

I roll my eyes because this is a question she has asked me several times. "Yes, Kim. I had only been here a short time so was really toeing the line on arrests."

She nods. "I kind of figured but just needed to hear it."

"If you don't win this case it won't be because I didn't follow proper procedure."

"Of course, you're right but I have a feeling that's the angle the defense is going to take."

I shrug. "They can take that stance all they want. I didn't miss a damn thing. He was read his rights both before and after I took him into custody."

She furrows her brow. "You didn't tell me that."

"I did. I even wrote it in my report."

She opens her mouth to respond but before she can her associate pokes his head out of the courtroom door. "We're ready to start, Kim."

"Okay. I'll be right in." She pats my hand. "Don't be nervous. A bailiff will come get you when it's your turn." She stands and steps toward the door. "You have something to occupy your time until you're called?"

"Don't worry about me, Kim. I've testified before."

"But it's your first time in Hawai'i." I don't dignify that with anything other than a look. Luckily she gets my meaning. Giving me a huge smile she pulls open one of the solid oak doors and enters the courtroom, leaving me to sit and go over my testimony alone.

Since I haven't seen Grace for more than a few hours in a couple of weeks, I call Stan and make sure it's okay to pick her up early from school if I get out of court in time.

"Stan Edwards," he answers on the third ring.

"Stan, it's me. I'm about to go to the witness stand and was wondering if I could pick Grace up from school early if I get out of court in time."

"It's not your weekend."

"I'm aware. I didn't ask for the weekend." He frustrates me to no end.

"She has to be home by six." I'll never understand why it's such a battle to get him to let me see my daughter for a few hours.

"Fine. Should I feed her?"

"No. I have clients coming for dinner, that's why I need her back by six."

"Okay. Thank you."

"Sure." He hangs up without letting me say anything else.

I then text Steve that since I have the whole day off, I plan to get Grace after I'm dismissed from court and will come to his house once I've taken her back to Stan.

The door to the courtroom opens and a bailiff calls me to the stand just as my phone beeps that I have a text. With no time to check it, I stand, smooth out my skirt which brings the drying vaginal fluid to my attention again and enter the courtroom. I walk up the aisle and past the tables to the witness stand to the judge's left where I stop and face the gallery. The bailiff stands before me.

"Raise your right hand." I do as asked. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"

"I do."

"Please be seated."

The bailiff steps back and Kim stands up and approaches where I'm sitting trying to ignore the pull of the linen against that small patch of skin. "Please state your full name and rank for the record."

"Sergeant Detective Daniel Michael Williams."

"What is your current job?"

"Second in command of the Hawaiian State Task Force known as Five-Oh."

"And before that?"

"Homicide detective for Honolulu PD."

"On the night in question how did you happen to be at the defendant's residence?"

"The captain wanted me to learn the area so he had me spending one shift a week on a ride-along with a uniform." I shift in my seat to cross my right leg over my left and grit my teeth at the pull. "That particular night we got a call about a domestic disturbance. The uniform I was riding with, Officer Kahale, responded that we were in route.

"When we arrived we could hear the fight between the defendant and his boyfriend. When we got to the door, Officer Kahale knocked and identified us as HPD. That's when we heard the shot.

"Kahale kicked the door in and we could see the defendant standing over a body holding a gun. All we could see at the time of the victim was his legs; his upper body was blocked by the wall leading into the hall.

"I called for back-up and Kahale ordered him to put the gun down. When he refused I shot it from his hand. I then approached and took him into custody.

"Paramedics arrived and treated his wound; I had managed to not do any serious damage. I then cuffed him, read him his rights and put him into the back of the radio car. He started mumbling that he couldn't believe he had done it; couldn't believe he'd actually shot his boyfriend. I reminded him he has the right to remain silent but he didn't seem aware that I was even there.

"At the precinct he seemed to come back to himself so I repeated his rights when I put him in the interrogation room. I then asked him about what he said in the car but all he would say was that he wanted a lawyer."

"Did you ask him anything else?"

"Only if he was positive he wanted a lawyer. When he confirmed that he did, I left the room to inform the desk sergeant that he needed to make his one call."

Kim nods. "Thank you, Detective. No further questions, Your Honor."

"Mr. Mahlon, your witness," Judge Andrews says with a wave of his hand.

"Ms. Williams-" the defense lawyer begins and I interrupt him with "It's Detective Williams." He snorts. "Of course, my apologies, Detective." This is not going to be pretty, at all. "Were you born a woman?"

"Excuse me!?"

"Your Honor!" Kim jumps to her feet so fast her chair spins away into the railing behind her.

Several of the spectators gasp and then the courtroom erupts into the sound of dozens of people murmuring to each other.

Andrews bangs his gavel and calls out "Quiet! Quiet down!" He then points his gavel at Mahlon. "Mr. Mahlon watch yourself."

He nods. "Of course. Is Daniel the name your parents gave you at birth?"

"Your Honor, please!"

"Mr. Mahlon." Judge Andrews' voice shows just how close he is to calling Mahlon into contempt.

"Just trying to figure out if she's trying to beat the system, Your Honor."

"'Beat the system'? What does that even mean?" Andrews demands.

"Well, as we all know, the police force is an old boys' club and they don't react too well to women joining them. I wouldn't put it past-"

"I swear Mahlon if the next words out of your mouth even suggest that an officer of the law who is as highly decorated as Detective Williams is would change her name to by-pass what you call the 'old boys' club' then I will hold you in contempt. Now-" He shifts on his chair. "-confine your questions to the case."

Mahlon's lips thin but he doesn't argue any more with the judge. "What was your job before you came to Hawai'i?"

"I was a homicide detective for the Newark PD."

"Uh-huh." Mahlon shuffles some papers on the table in front of him. "How long have you been in Hawai'i?"

"About two and a half years."

His head snaps up. "About? Do you not know exactly?"

I sigh and shift again when an itch starts in that spot. "I arrived in Hawai'i two years, five months, three weeks and four days ago. Do you want to know the hours, minutes and seconds?"

"No need to be hostile, Detective." Mahlon looks at the judge. "Unless I have permission to treat her as a hostile witness, Your Honor."

"Objection." Kim shoots to her feet again.

"Sustained. The detective is merely responding to your line of questioning. I'm warning you to move on."

"These questions prove her qualifications, Your Honor."

"Your Honor, seriously? How does knowing how long she's been in Hawai'i prove her qualifications?"

"She's not from here. I'm just establishing that she has learned what she needs to know."

"Move on, Mr. Mahlon."

"Of course, Your Honor." Mahlon stands and approaches the witness stand. "How many arrests did you make in your career in Newark?"

"My entire career or just as a detective?"

"Entire career."

"Somewhere around fifty."

He walks back over to the defense table and runs his finger down a piece of paper. "According to your record, you made fifty-four arrests in your time with NPD."

I shrug. "If you say so."

"How many of those ended in the suspect being convicted?"

Kim once again jumps to her feet. "Objection, Your Honor! Relevance."

"Again, trying to confirm the detective's qualifications. This is her first time testifying in a Hawaiian court."

"Objection sustained. You've used up my patience, Mr. Mahlon."

Mahlon sighs dramatically. "Very well." He shuffles some papers. "You say you read my client his rights twice, once at the scene and once in interrogation?"

"Yes." This guy is so fucking annoying.

"Did you ask him any other questions after he requested a lawyer?"

I shift again in my seat and this time I manage to get enough friction on that spot that it relieves the itch somewhat. "I asked if he was positive he wanted a lawyer." Didn't I already answer that question?

"Is there something wrong, Detective?"

I narrow my eyes at him. "No, why?"

"You keep shifting in your chair. Do you have an unscratchable itch?"

"Your Honor!" Kim jumps to her feet yet again and this time slaps her palms down on the table.

"That was totally inappropriate, Mr. Mahlon. Keep your questions related to the case." Judge Andrews turns to the court reporter. "Mr. Mahlon's last statement will be stricken from the record."

Mahlon frowns at the judge and doesn't acknowledge what he said, instead he continues with his questioning as if he didn't just insinuate that I'm suffering from a feminine itch. "Did you say anything to him after he said he was sure he wanted one?"

"I said fine then told the desk sergeant to let him have his one call."

"Uh-huh." Mahlon picks up a remote and points it at the TV off to the side. "I'd like to show you the recording of your first interrogation of my client." He presses a button and the TV comes on.

On the screen is the defendant, Mark Zimmer, sitting at a table in the interrogation room with his cuffed hands resting on top. I walk into the room and sit down across from him, opening a folder and looking down at the papers within. "Mr. Zimmer,-" I start to ask him to repeat his confession but he interrupts me with "Why am I at the police station? And in handcuffs? My head snaps up. I remember wondering if he was playing me now or earlier. Zimmer looks around the room and then down at his cuffed hands. "What happened? Where's Anthony?"

"Mr. Zimmer, what's the last thing you remember?"

"Arguing with Anthony. But that's nothing new. We argue all the time, these days. But we always make up. Did he press charges? Is that why I'm here?"


I look at the camera, my face clearly showing my thoughts of 'Is this guy for real?' "Mr. Zimmer, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to legal representation. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?"

He nods. "I'd like to talk to a lawyer."

I again look at the camera. "Are you sure?"

Again he nods. "Yeah. Yes."

"Very well. Someone will be right in to assist you in making that call." I get up and walk out. Then the screen goes black.

Kim chuckles and stands. "Your Honor, I don't understand what Mr. Mahlon was trying to accomplish by showing that video. It seems to me all he did was confirm exactly what Detective Williams told us."

"Ms. Pho is right. Please enlighten us as to why you showed that?" The judge leans forward and rests his arms on the top of his desk.

"She didn't say anything about what she said to my client before reading him his rights again."

"She didn't have to. You only asked about after he asked for a lawyer." Judge Andrews obviously thinks Mahlon is an idiot.

"Omission on the stand is just as much perjury as outright lying."

The people in the gallery who know a bit about the law chuckle at his statement. "No it’s not, Mahlon." Andrews covers his laugh with a cough. "Apparently you didn't pay attention in class because if you had you'd know that witnesses do not need to provide any information that is not directly asked for. If you had wanted to know what Detective Williams had said to your client before reading him his rights then you should have asked." Andrews sits back in his chair. "Do you have any further questions?"

"Yes, Your Honor, I do."

"Then by all means, ask them."

The rest of my time on the stand involves me answer the same four questions regarding the scene and my investigation numerous times. Mahlon changes the wording every time he asks and after the third time a question is asked, Kim objects with "She's already answered that, Your Honor."

Andrews is obviously not a man who takes kindly to this kind of thing because after he informs Mahlon, "Question asked and answered three different times" he stops Mahlon the instant he tries to ask it again. "Ask it again and you will be spending the night in holding with your clients. Move on."

Finally, Mahlon admits defeat and says he has no further questions.

"Thank you, Detective. You're dismissed." Andrews looks at the clock on the wall. "And I see that it is nearly noon so we'll stop for lunch." He bangs his gavel on the desk. "Court is in recess for one hour."

I rub the heel of my right hand over that fucking spot on my thigh and manage to get a little bit of relief from the itch before stepping down from the witness stand. Kim catches my eye and I stop at the table where she's packing up her briefcase.

She shakes her head. "I'm sorry. I didn't know he was that bad."

I shrug. "You think he's the first misogynistic asshat I've ever had to deal with?"

"You're right. But still-"

"But still, nothing. He's a prick and one day he's gonna open his fat piggy mouth in the wrong judge's court and he'll get disbarred."

"'Fat piggy mouth'? Really, Danni?"

"Three older brothers. Piggy was the height of insult in our house."

"I see." She picks up her briefcase and we walk out side by side. "Care to join me for lunch before you head back to the office?"

"Thanks but no. Since I've got the day off, I've decided to get my daughter from school early and spend the afternoon being girls."

"Okay." She turns to face me, extending her right hand. "You did great on the witness stand, by the way."

I shake her hand. "Thanks. I told you there was nothing to worry about."

"Except for the older men not taking your testimony into account due to you being female."

"If they're going to dismiss what I say based on my gender then the questions from Mahlon won't matter."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right." She pulls me out of the flow of traffic heading into the cafeteria. "I hate being female sometimes, ya know? Especially around men like that."

"Yeah, I know. Try being a cop. I'm just grateful my parents raised me to believe I could do anything I set my mind to."

"Me too." She starts to walk into the cafeteria. "Thanks again. Enjoy the rest of your day."

"Thanks. I'd say the same to you but you have to be cooped up in a courtroom with that jerk."

"Don't worry, I can handle him."

I smirk at her. "I'm sure you can. Call and let me know how the rest of it goes, yeah?"

Kim nods, already distracted by the selection of food. "Enjoy your weekend, Detective."

The drive to Grace's fancy private school doesn't take as long as usual (even with me stopping twice to throw up), of course I'm usually either picking her up after school or dropping her off in the morning and so am caught in the rush of other parents doing the same thing. I know I bitch about Stan intimidating me into giving him custody but a couple of good things came from it: Grace is getting a top level education, certainly better than she would get at the public school she would have gone to back in Jersey had I retained custody. And I met Steve. Even if things end with him like they did with Stan (and for the same reason) I can't find it in me to truly hate having to move to Hawai'i.

At the school, I pull smoothly into a spot in the pick-up area and get out to jog up the stairs and into the building. The school is rather new but designed to look old. The floors are all hard wood along with the paneling on the walls. It even smells like an older building; the scent of wood lingers.

In the office I'm greeted by one of the school secretaries, Agnes. "Detective Williams! There's nothing wrong, I hope?"

"Oh, no, no." I smile and shrug. "Had court this morning and since I have the whole day off when the judge released me early, I decided to spend the afternoon being a girl with Grace."

"Oh, she'll love that!" Agnes sets the papers she's holding down on the desk. "I'll just call her classroom and have her teacher send her straight up."

"She doesn't have a test this afternoon, does she? I mean, her father didn't say she did when I called to tell him I was doing this."

"Well, he would have said so, wouldn't he?"

I wouldn't put it past Stan to agree to let me have her early knowing I wouldn't be able to because she has a test. But I needn't have worried, Agnes checks the schedule and sees that we're all good to go. Grace does not have a test this afternoon, as if a teacher would schedule one on a Friday afternoon this early in the school year.

Nearly ten minutes later I hear the most important person in the world shouting my name just seconds before the breath is driven from my body by a head hitting my midsection.

I grunt with the force of her hug and return it, bending my knees to pick her up. "Hey, Monkey!"

She pulls back and stares at me wide-eyed. "Is something wrong?"

"Is something… Why would you think that, Gracie-girl?"

I set her down and steer her out of the office and toward the front exit. "Because you only pick me up early for doctor's visits and I know I don't have one today so something must be wrong!"

Part of my agreement with Stan is that I take her to all appointments and pay one hundred percent of the co-pay but we split anything insurance doesn't cover, which so far hasn't been much. "Nothing's wrong. I have the day off for court, got finished early and figured I could spend the rest of the day with my best girl."

She giggles. "Silly, Danno! I'm your only girl."

I gasp in pretend shock. "You are? I had no idea!"

We laugh and joke the rest of the way to the car. Once we're both buckled in and I've merged with traffic, Grace sighs deeply.

I glance in the rearview mirror where I can just barely see her. "What's up, Monkey?"

"I wish I could spend the weekend with you."

It's obvious that the last weeks we've had to go without seeing each other have been just as hard on her as they have been on me. "I know, Sweetie. But we get the next three weeks together. That'll be fun, yeah?"

"I guess," she says in the most pitiful voice ever. "I just have so much more fun with you and Uncle Steve."

"I know, Baby. I know." As if I wasn't already feeling like the worst mother ever.

Grace pouts all the way to the nail salon so to cheer her I let her pick this totally wild color that doesn't exist anywhere in nature as well as get a design on her big toes. She tries to talk me into getting a color but I hold firm on clear polish; with my job polish chips much too easily and that doesn't look professional.

Once we're done getting our nails done, we head over to the hair salon next door. Grace tries to talk me into cutting my hair, she's always wanted to see it short like it was when I was in high school, but Steve likes it long (and so do I) so I distract her by suggesting she get some colored clip in extensions. The ones she chooses match her nails perfectly.

She jumps down from the stylist's chair and grabs my hand. "And now we go shopping," she informs me as if I've never indulged in feminine pursuits before.

"Shopping." I keep my voice as monotone as I can but it's not easy while fighting a smile.

"Yes, Danno! Shopping!"

I'm starting to worry a little bit that living in her father's world has spoiled her into thinking that retail therapy is the way to defeat a bad mood but then remember that I'm using that same tactic today. "Shopping."

I've never really been what you'd call a girly-girl, despite being a gymnast. Or maybe that's why I wasn't into all the things other girls my age were. Sure I was into boys, I had a boyfriend through most of high school, but I never truly cared for shopping or doing my hair and nails and I certainly never cared how I looked.

That all changed when I met Trevor. He showed me that being female was something to celebrate, not hide. Because I was hiding my femininity even though my parents made sure I knew that being female didn't make me any less capable. And really, no one had ever made me feel that way. It's just something I did; for some reason I felt undesirable to the majority of the male population.

But Grace is everything I wasn't as a child. She loves being pampered with a day of beauty and shopping. And will spend hours choosing an outfit for an outing. I have a feeling she's going to be the kind of teenage girl I secretly envied in high school: beautiful beyond belief, dressed in the latest fashions with her hair, make-up and nails perfectly done.

I could have been one of those girls but it was clear that my parents wouldn't be able to help me pay for college and since I had wanted to be a lawyer when I first entered college, I needed lots of financial assistance. But my parents also didn't want me graduating from college with any kind of debt so they pushed me to find something that would land me a full-ride. I could have, and did once I blew out my knee, gotten an academic scholarship but I enjoyed competing in gymnastics. And I was good at it too; oh, not good enough for the Olympics but good enough to have a wall full of gold medals, including from the meet where I received my career ending injury.

"What do you think, Danno?" Grace comes out of the dressing room and twirls so that the full skirt of the dress she's wearing flares out around her.

"Very cute. Is it for some special occasion?" Grace usually lets me know of anything to do with school but she's not old enough for a school dance, yet (next year when she's in sixth grade).

"Nope." She's no longer twirling in circles but is now twisting her hips back and forth to watch it swish around her knees. "It's just pretty." And that right there sums up the differences between my daughter and me: she'll buy something just 'cause it's pretty but I have to have a reason.

"You want it?" She looks at me as if I'm stupid and I chuckle. "What am I saying? Of course you want it. Do you need shoes and accessories?"

Her face lights up, I don't usually let her get more than the clothes. "Yes, please!" She claps her hands and jumps up and down.

"Okay, okay, Monkey, calm down." I turn her around and push her back toward the dressing room. "Get changed and we'll go look."

I've never seen her change so fast in all my life, but just a few minutes after I send her to change, she's exiting the dressing room and handing me the dress and its hanger. "Thank you, Danno."

"You're very welcome, Monkey." I lean down and kiss her cheek.

We manage to find the perfect pair of Mary Jane's and some cute hair bows along with a necklace and earrings set. By the time we leave the store with my wallet extremely lighter than when we entered, we only have an hour and a half before I have to take her back to Stan.

"How about a shave ice before I take you back?" I ask, pulling out of the parking lot.

She sighs and thumps her head back against the headrest. "If you have to take me back…"

"Of course I do. You know that."

"But I don't want to go."

"I know, Grace. I don't want to take you but your father has primary custody. And it is his weekend."

"But he has some boring old guys coming over." Grace has just given me confirmation of what I've suspected for a while now: Stan only wanted Grace as a show piece, a means of getting his family minded clients to trust him. Heaven knows what he tells them about me.

I desperately want to ask Grace but I made the decision long ago to never use her to get information about her father and what goes on at his house so I bite my tongue and search for a different question to ask.

"But they have kids your age, right? I mean, that's why he wants you there, yes?"

She shrugs. "Sometimes they have kids; sometimes they don't."

"What happens when they don't?" I pull into what I've come to think of as my spot at this particular beach and we climb from the car.

"The wives fawn all over me." Where'd she hear a phrase like 'fawn over'?

"You don't like that?" I know we're getting dangerously close to that invisible line but something's bothering my daughter and the mama bear in me has to know what it is so I can fix it.

She looks up at me as we walk across the parking lot to Kamekona's shave ice stand. "I have to pretend you and I never see each other."

I take a deep breath and release it slowly. "I see." That stupid son of a bitch!

"I know lying's bad but Daddy said I have to. Does that make it okay?"

What to tell her? On the one hand lying's wrong no matter what but on the other she's been raised to do as she's told. "I can't answer that one, Gracie-girl."

"Why not?"

I stop walking and crouch down so that we're more on eye level. "Because it's not my place to say if what your father told you to do is wrong or not. His house, his rules. That's how it's always been."

"But I don't like that they think you're a bad mother. Because you're not! You're the best mom in the world!" She collapses into my arms, sobbing softly.

"Oh, Monkey." I stroke her hair. "Maybe you should tell your dad how you feel." She nods against my shoulder. "Okay. Now that that's settled, how's about we get some shave ice?"

"I still don't wanna go back." She sniffs loudly in my ear causing me to smile at this proof that she's still mostly my little girl.

"I know. I don't want to take you back." I kiss her shoulder, then stand up and push her in the direction of the tables. "Go find us a place to sit. I'll be right there with our treats."

"How'zit, Cousin?" Kamekona greets me when I approach the window.

"How'zit?" The comeback comes as naturally as if I've been saying it all my life. "Two of our usuals, please."

"Two large rainbow flavored shave ices with extra pineapple flavor on one, coming right up!" He calls the instructions to his workers over his shoulder. He then turns back to me, his face sad. "Why's the Keiki crying?"

"She doesn't want to go back to her dad's."

Kame shakes his head. "Why's he got custody, anyhow?"

"I did what I thought best at the time." I know it's not Kame's fault but my voice takes on a hard edge at his question.

He holds his hands up, palms out. "Easy, Makuahine. I meant no disrespect."

"Sorry. Sore subject."

"Fair enough." He hands over the shave ice cones. "Want me to bring over two Gracie Specials?"

I shake my head. "No thanks. Her father has dinner plans for her."

"For the keiki?"

"He has clients coming for dinner."

"Ah." He leans as far out the window as he can and glances over at where Grace is slumped at one of the tables. "Shouldn't you be at work, Mâka'i?"

"I had court and the judge released me early so I decided to spend the afternoon with Grace."

"Ah, a makuahine/kaikamahine day."

"Yeah." The shave ice in my right hand has started to drip down the side of the cone. "I'd better get these over there before they melt." With a nod that he returns, I turn and join Grace at the table, handing her the shave ice in my left hand since it's the one with extra pineapple flavoring.

We eat our treats in silence for several minutes. I'm not usually at a loss for words but what Grace told me has the cop in me going to worse case scenarios in regards to exactly what her father has her doing when he has clients over. I don't want to believe that Stan would do that to Grace but the way she said it leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

I find that I'd rather know for sure than sit here and wonder. "Grace, I'm going to ask you a question and I want you to answer me truthfully. Okay? No matter what your answer is, I won't get angry at you. Okay?"

She nods. "Okay, Danno." Her trust in me is so complete it brings tears to my eyes.

I set my spoon down on a napkin and settle myself with a deep breath. "Has your father ever left you alone with any of his male clients? And by that I mean was there ever a time when it was just you and some strange man alone in a room?"

Her brows crinkle and she tilts her head. "No, Danno. The wives usually take me to my room to play tea party or dress up while Daddy and their husbands talk."

I breathe a sigh of relief. "So no one has ever touched you in a way you didn't want them to?"

Her face scrunches in anger. "Daddy would never let that happen!"

"I know, Monkey, but I had to be sure. You understand, right?"

"Daddy's right. You don't know when to turn the cop off and just be my Danno!" She jumps up from the table. "I want to go home. Now!"

And just like that, I've ruined a perfectly enjoyable afternoon.

"Grace!" I jump up and hurry after her but I can't run very fast in my heels. "Grace!"

I manage to catch up to her at the car where she's pacing an angry circle on the sidewalk. "Grace, you have to understand! I'm your mother and I needed to make sure."

"Daddy loves me just as much as you do! He would never let someone do that to me!" Tears are streaming down her beloved face.

"I know." I pick her up and set her on the trunk so we can be eye level without me having to crouch in my skirt and heels. "I'm sorry but please listen. You are listening to me, right?" She folds her arms tight across her body and turns her face away but otherwise makes no move to ignore me. "I have done my best to not use you as a spy against your father and it goes against everything within me; not just as a cop but also as your mother. When you're not with me I can't protect you. I trust your father to protect you but some of the things you said…" I huff out a breath and run one hand over my hair, smoothing down the fly-aways. "I had to know. Every day I regret the decision to let you live with your father a little bit more."

"Wait-" Grace holds up one hand. "-it was your decision to let Daddy have custody?" Fresh tears well in her eyes and begin to drip down her face. "Didn't you want me?" Her lower lip trembles.

"Oh, God, Grace, if you only knew how much I want you." Tears have begun running down my own cheeks. "From the moment I knew you were on the way I have loved you more than words can express. You are the single most important person in my life." I take her face in my hands and tilt it up. "I probably should have told you this already but your father and I agreed to wait."

I clear my throat and prepare to tell her about the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. "Your father did not react well when I told him I was pregnant. We'd only been dating a few months and he thought I'd done it on purpose because of his money." She snorts her opinion of that, causing me to smile. "Yeah, he didn't know me so well then. I knew that once he saw you he'd want you and since he had access to lawyers that I didn't I was afraid that I'd lose you forever. So I asked for certain things in exchange for primary custody of you." I lower my head to rest my forehead against hers. "And I have regretted it every day since. I am so sorry that you thought otherwise. If I could, I'd go back in time and fight for you."

"Daddy said you didn't want to be a mom at first and that's why he has custody; that you left for several months." I have to take my hands off her at hearing that lest I telegraph my growing anger at the man who sired her.

"Is that so?"

She nods. "Yeah. It's why the wives fawn all over me. They think my mother doesn't love me."

"Well, we know differently, don't we?'

"Yeah." She sniffs and wipes her nose on her hand. "We should prolly go, now."

"Yeah." I lift her down and assist her into the car.

The drive is silent, both of us processing what has been said this evening. I don't know where we go from here and it hurts, knowing that Grace has doubted my love for her. I really should have explained the situation to her before now.

We're five minutes from Stan's, and nearly twenty minutes early, when traffic suddenly comes to a complete stop. I flip on the police scanner and discover that there's a nasty four car pile-up up ahead that has traffic down to one lane; one lane that both directions are having to use.

"Are you gonna help, Danno?"

I look at Grace in the rearview mirror. "I can't. I have you."

"Oh." She tries to see out the windshield without getting out of her seat. "Do you think Uncle Steve is helping?"

"I doubt it. Uncle Steve isn't a traffic cop. He's the head of Five-Oh. And Five-Oh only investigates major crimes."

"But if you didn't have me you'd help?"

"That's different. I used to be a traffic cop."

Traffic is moving slowly so I pick up my phone and dial Stan to let him know why we're running late. It goes straight to voicemail so I leave a message. "Stan. There's been a nasty accident so we're running late. I'm sorry but there's nothing I can do; we're too far into it for me to try and find a different route. I promise we'll be there just as soon as we can."

"Daddy didn't answer his phone?"

"Nope. It must be off because it went straight to voicemail."

"Hm. That's weird."

"Very."

The line of cars ahead of us begins to move and I shift into first to follow slowly behind them. Just before it's our turn, however, the cop directing traffic has me hold for the cars coming the other way.

A glance at the clock shows that it is now 5:55. I know that once we get past this snarl we'll be there in no more than five minutes but that doesn't keep me from being annoyed.

A knock on my window has me jumping and Grace giggling at my reaction. I laugh at myself when I see it's Duke. Rolling down the window I prop my elbow on the door. "How'zit, Duke?"

"How'zit, Danni, Grace?"

"Uncle Duke!" Grace unbuckles her seatbelt and climbs into my lap to shake Duke's hand.

"Is everything okay?" I turn Grace so she's sitting on my lap and let her pretend to steer the car.

"Everything's fine. I saw the Camaro and just wanted to say hi."

"Ah, okay."

"So, where are you two ladies coming from today?"

"We got our nails done then Danno bought me a pretty dress!"

"Is that right?" One thing I love about the people in Hawai'i is how easy it is to become ohana.

Grace nods her head. "You should see it!"

Duke stands up and looks over the mangled cars that are waiting for traffic to thin so they can be examined and then cleared. "Maybe some other time. It's your turn." He slaps the roof of the car twice. "You have a good night and drive safe."

"Thanks, Duke." I push Grace back into the backseat. "Buckle up, Monkey." I wait until I hear the click of her seatbelt then put the car in gear and with a wave for Duke, follow the officer's directions to get around the wrecked cars.

We pull into the drive in front of Stan's house at 6:05 on the dot. I can see Stan standing on the stoop with his arms crossed over his chest. This is not going to be pretty.

Grace and I climb from the car and I pick her up to carry her to the door. "Miss you already."

She plays with the buttons on my shirt. "Miss you more."

"You're late, Danni."

I set Grace down and with one hand on her shoulder, steer her toward the door. "There was an accident, Daddy."

Stan frowns down at her, then looks up at me. "An accident?"

"Yes. I tried to call you. Maybe if you check your messages?"

His brows lower over his nose but before he can say anything Grace says, "Yeah, but Danno says that Uncle Steve wouldn't be helping because he's not a cop like she is."

"Uncle Steve?" One of Stan's eyebrows climbs his forehead.

I can tell he's about to get nasty and I can't let him do that with Grace in the room. "Grace go get washed up. Daddy's clients should be here soon."

"Yes, they should be here soon. Go on now." He shoos her in the direction of the stairs.

Grace starts to skip off but then comes back. "Can I wear my new dress, Danno?"

I had planned on keeping the dress for my house but can't say no to her. "Sure." I press the button on the key fob to unlock the car.

Stan grinds his teeth and I can tell he's eager to lay into me. I'm thankful he refuses to do so in front of Grace. She comes skipping back. "Danno bought me a really pretty dress," she says as she passes us.

"You bought her a new dress?"

I shrug. "It's really pretty."

He shakes his head and the moment she's out of earshot turns to me and says, "I can see you're spreading your legs for him again."

I have no clue where that came from but I don't let it slide; I just haul back and slap his face as hard as I can. I slap him hard enough to turn his head. My handprint blooms bright red on his left cheek. "You just lost a month of visits, bitch."

"No, Stan. I'm sorry. Please don't!"

"Should have thought of that before." He shoves on my shoulder, causing me to take a step back and shuts the door in my face.

"No! Stan, please!" I pound on the door. "Please don't take her from me again! Stan!"

After several minutes the door opens to reveal Maria, Stan's housekeeper. "Sorry, Miss Danni." She steps out and closes the door behind her. "Mr. Stan says he's going to call the cops."

I nod, unable to speak due to trying to keep from bawling like a baby. Turning, I stumble to the car. Sliding behind the wheel, the only thing I can think of is that I need to get somewhere safe; somewhere where I can find my footing again. I have no memory of actually deciding on Steve's place as that safe space but I know instinctively that that's where I'll be safest.

Part three

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