“Where’s Kono?” Danny asked, sliding in next to Steve at the fairy-light festooned bar.
“She had plans after work.” Chin took a long pull of his beer without looking up.
“Again? That’s the second time this week. She got some disreputable new boyfriend she’s too embarrassed to introduce us to?”
“Hey, don’t go projecting your own issues onto Kono, brah,” Steve said with a pleased little smirk.
Chin just signaled to the bartender. “Something like that. My round—what’re you having, Danny?”
It wasn’t until a week or so later that Danny got to see what “something like that” really meant. He was in one Honolulu’s fanciest restaurant with Steve—the heavy wood furniture and heavy damask tablecloths contrasting with the almost creepily light tread of the waiters. Not their usual kind of place, but then he’d been the one to bet Steve the best steak in the city he couldn’t take out the perp at fifty yards with a twenty-mile tail wind.
Stupid. He was clearly never going to learn about betting against Steve’s ninja skills. And now he was stuck watching Steve gleefully search the wine list for the most expensive bottle when he knew for a fact Steve didn’t even really like red wine.
Most everyone else in the place was as staid as they come—lots of pastel twin-sets and seersucker suits—so when something white and sparkly, maybe even fringed, crossed his line of vision, it brought Danny’s head up like a hunting dog.
He knew those slim shoulders, those endless legs, though he could count on one hand the times he’d seen them in a dress and shoes like that.
“Hey.” He flicked a piece of bread at Steve to get him to look up from the list of exorbitant beverages. “What’s Kono doing here?”
Steve frowned and craned his head to follow Danny’s gaze. Then his mouth flopped open in an almost comical way. “And what’s she doing with him?”
Danny peered at Kono’s companion, who he hadn’t really taken in before. The man was a good head shorter than Kono, full-faced and full-bellied, and, not to put too fine a point on it, old. Well, not ancient, but sixty-five at least, maybe a well-preserved seventy.
“You know that guy?”
Steve stared at him incredulously. “What? You live under a rock? Of course I know him. That’s Xavier Ackerman, the real estate developer. He owns about half the North Shore. He’s always in the news for some barely legal land deal or other.”
“And that’s who she’s been ditching us for?” Danny felt a bit slow on the uptake. But he looked again, and, sure enough, Ackerman’s hand was resting lightly but possessively on the small of Kono’s back as they made their way to their table. “She’s dating him?”
“It’s, uh, unexpected.” Steve had the air of someone trying to be fair. “His politics are kind of to the right of Attila the Hun. Not her usual taste in guys.”
Danny raised his eyebrows. “Understatement, Steven. C’mon, let’s get introduced.”
But as soon as he’d started to push his chair back from the table, Kono looked at them over her shoulder, as if she’d known they were there all along. She shook her head once, decisively, and turned away.
As soon as she and Ackerman had been seated, Danny’s phone chimed the arrival of a text.
I don’t know you. Not tonight.
“Here you go, boss,” Chin said, coming into Steve’s office. “Here’re the files you asked for.”
He startled slightly as Danny shut the door behind him.
“See, what we really want to know, my friend,” said Danny, moving in front of him to lean on Steve’s desk, arms crossed. “Is what the fuck?”
“Kono?” Steve tilted his chair back and raised his eyebrows. “Xavier Ackerman. This ringing any bells?”
Chin visible slumped. “Okay. She said I could tell you if you asked.”
“We’re asking. This is us asking,” Danny told him.
Chin dragged over a chair, like the story was going to take some telling. “So. You probably read that Ackerman got divorced recently?”
Danny hadn’t, but Steve nodded, so Chin went on. “He’s been dating up a storm—looking for the next Mrs. Ackerman, I guess. And he’s been making nice to local religious groups, too, since his latest project involves tearing up a sacred Hawaiian burial cave. He’s gotten permission from the landowners, but there’re still a lot of people who aren’t thrilled.”
“Kono among them, I would’ve thought,” Steve put in.
Chin pursed his lips, but went on with the story. “Anyway. That explains why Ackerman was at this benefit for preserving native artifacts. Kono was there too—she supports the group. He saw her, he was smitten, he asked her out.”
“And even though he’s what? twenty-five, thirty years older than her, and working against all the things she believes in, she was swept off her feet by his wrinkly-faced, pot-bellied charm?” Danny asked.
“Not exactly. She was going to say no. Of course she was. But then some people—never mind who—contacted her. They had—well, not entirely legal plans for getting Ackerman to change his mind about the development—and they wanted her, as someone who sympathized with their views—to get inside his defenses, help them bring him down.”
“That’s what she’s doing?” Steve was leaning forward now, elbows on the desk. The air in the room seemed to have gotten colder. Danny had been ready to unloose some serious ribbing about Kono’s taste in men. Not for this discussion of religious rights and guerrilla protests. This was too serious by half.
“Not exactly,” Chin said again. Danny wished he’d give up on the phrase already. “She told them she’d go out with him, try to get to know him—but only if they held off on their plans until she’d had the chance to try and convince him to change his mind herself.”
--gif by neropatti on tumblr