Grace stood up in the water and growled in frustration as she grabbed her board and headed back up to the beach. It was the fourth time she’d wiped out in her last six waves and she needed to stop before she hurt herself.
Kono had been keeping an eye on her the whole time, and slowly made her way over to Grace.
“Okay, what’s bothering you? I haven’t seen you this off your game in a long time.”
Grace sighed. “It’s… you wouldn’t understand.”
“Try me.” Kono already had an idea about what was going on.
Grace looked down at her hands, but didn’t say anything.
“Come on, let’s go get some shave ice and we’ll talk.”
Grace nodded and grabbed her board. She followed Kono to her car and they made their way over to the shave ice stand. Grace kept her mouth stubbornly closed on the trip over.
Once they had their fruity treats, they made their way over to a table. Kono waited till they’d both eaten most of their shave ices before broaching the subject again.
She turned toward Grace and simply said, “Talk.”
Grace looked around; as if she was worried someone would hear her. When she was satisfied that she wouldn’t be heard, she turned back to Kono.
“It’s my dads. They are so annoying. I thought Danno was bad, but Steve is almost worse. They treat me like I’m a little girl, like I’m not old enough to make my own decisions.”
“Grace, to them, you are still a little girl.”
“I’m 14! I’ll be 15 in a few months!”
“I know this, and you know this, but you’ll always be your Danno’s little monkey.”
“I know, it’s just… I’m never going to have a boyfriend. The one time I’ve even mentioned a boy’s name, Danno had to know everything about him, and his parents. I know they ran a background check on him and his entire family, because the next time I brought him up, Danno told me that I wasn’t to ever talk to him or anything. We were just friends. Neither one of us likes each other that way.”
As Grace rambled on about the injustices she was suffering, Kono did her best to hold back a smile. She knew she’d failed when Grace stopped and stared at her.
“Aunt Kono, this isn’t funny,” she whined.
“I’m sorry. I know it’s not; it’s just that I’ve been there. Maybe not to the same degree, but I know a little bit of what you’re feeling. When I got hurt, I wasn’t much older than you, and I guess my parents freaked. They became majorly overprotective, and it did get annoying.”
“Yeah… and then there are all the cops in my family, including Chin. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did a few background checks himself.”
Grace was quiet for a moment, and then tentatively asked, “Will it ever end?”
“They’ll always worry. That’s just a part of being a parent. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone whose parents weren’t overprotective to an extent.”
Grace nodded and looked down at the table. Kono scooted closer to her on the bench and put her arm around Grace’s shoulders.
“You know… I thought I’d gotten away from all of it when I became a police officer. Then I suddenly had not only my older cousin, but two older brothers. No matter how hard they try to deny it, and how much they know I can take care of myself, they still watch out for me like I’m their little sister.”
Grace pulled back and turned so she could look over at Kono. She had a look of disbelief on her face. Kono grinned.
“At first, they used to tell me that it was because I was a rookie, but they still do it. No matter how well I fight, or how good I am with a rifle, they still feel like they need to protect me. It’s not all bad though. Sometimes it’s nice having that security.”
Grace leaned into Kono and rested her head on Kono’s shoulder.
“I guess you’re right. They can be really scary though.”
They both laughed, and for the first time that day, they felt relaxed. After a few minutes, Kono took her arm from Grace’s shoulders.
“We better get a move on before your dads put out a BOLO on us.”
They got up from the table and made their way back to the car.
As Kono pulled into the driveway, Grace turned to her.
“Please, promise me you won’t tell them what we talked about.”
Kono hesitated, but then said, “Okay, I won’t tell them.”
Kono waited until Grace was in the house before she pulled out of the driveway and back on to the street. She felt good about their conversation and loved that Grace had confided in her. She drove home, and decided that she’d just laze around the house for the rest of the day. It had been a while since she had gotten to just relax.
“Gracie, how about pizza for dinner?” Steve asked, as the three of them walked back to the car.
Danny had noticed that Grace was unusually quiet and withdrawn when she had returned home from surfing that morning. So, he and Steve decided to take her shopping in hopes of lifting her spirits. Although she had been happy to go, she still wasn’t her usual self.
“I guess. Can we eat there instead of taking it home?”
“Sure!” Steve smiled at her and then looked over at Danny, who was also smiling.
The ride to the pizza place was quiet. Danny was frustrated, having attempted several times already that day to get Grace to open up to him. Steve had even given it a shot. Danny tried one more time to get her to talk.
“I told you it was nothing. Like I said the last few times you asked, I didn’t have a particularly good time surfing this morning. That’s all.”
Danny sighed. He knew there was more to it, but he didn’t push anymore. The last thing he wanted was to alienate Grace.
They arrived at the restaurant and went inside. It was fairly quiet, and they ended up being the only customers. The place was small, with only six tables. It wasn’t one of the places that tourists knew about, so most of the time it wasn’t crowded. Danny loved it, since they served the closest thing to his hometown pizza he could find.
“I’ve got to go to the restroom. You know what I like.”
Grace turned and walked to the bathroom without even waiting for a response.
“I’ve got this. Why don’t you go get seats?” Steve said to Danny.
“Yeah, yeah… I better not see any pineapple.”
Steve grinned. In typical Danny fashion, he rolled his eyes, and then he turned and sat down at one of the tables near the windows. He also had a clear view of the restrooms.
Steve was in the middle of ordering when two young men walked in. They were both wearing jackets with hoods. Steve looked in their direction as they walked toward the counter. He could tell immediately that there was something wrong, but didn’t want to provoke them. He was unarmed, and he had his family with him. So, he turned to Danny and gave him the barest of signals.
It didn’t take long for Danny to figure out what was going on. He took one look at the two men and knew instinctively what was probably about to happen. His thoughts went immediately to Grace. He turned to look down the hallway to where the restrooms were and almost as if on cue, the door to the ladies room opened. Danny counted his blessings that the door was quiet.
Grace looked out to see if she could see what table they were at, but froze when she saw the look on her father’s face. That’s when she heard someone yell, and then Steve’s voice. Her eyes were glued to Danny, though, and when she saw him mouth, “Grace… run…” she didn’t hesitate. She turned around and ran toward the emergency exit at the end of the hall.
She was startled when the alarm on the door went off, but she didn’t stop. She threw the door open and took off as fast as she could down the alley behind the restaurant. Then she heard a sound that nearly shattered her. Two gunshots rang out, and for the briefest moment, she was sure that she had stopped breathing and her heart had stopped beating.
She tried to catch her breath as tears came to her eyes. She had no idea what had happened, but she knew she had to get help there, and quickly. Grace reached into her pocket, but soon realized that she didn’t have her phone on her. It was in her purse, and she must have dropped it when she ran.
She looked around and quickly found a small shop. She ran inside and yelled at the cashier at the front. “Call 911. There’s… been a shooting…pizza place…please…”
“Wait, what?” the cashier said, a little bewildered.
“I need to use your phone. Please. There’s been a shooting!”
The girl handed Grace the phone receiver, and she dialed 911. Grace relayed what info she could to the operator, and then hung up the phone. She knew she probably should have stayed on the line, but she had another call to make. She quickly dialed Kono’s number. Kono didn’t even get a chance to say anything before Grace started talking.
“Kono! There’s been a shooting. Danno and Steve… I don’t know if they’re okay.” The tears had started to flow at that point.
“Grace? Slow down. Where are you?”
“We were at King Pizza… I don’t know what happened, but I heard gunshots after Danno told me to run. I’m around the corner at some little shop.”
“Okay, sweetie, I’m on my way. I’ll get Chin. Call 911.”
“I already did.”
“Grace, we’ll be there soon. I want you to stay where you are until we get there, okay?”
“I need to see if they’re okay.”
“No, Grace. You need to stay where you are. Your dads wouldn’t want you to get hurt.”
Grace nodded, not really registering that she didn’t verbally answer Kono.
“It’ll be okay. We’ll be there soon. I need to go now. Don’t move till we get there.”
“’K,” Grace said quietly, and then hung up the phone.
She quietly found a place to sit, ignoring the cashier completely. It wasn’t long before she heard sirens heading toward the restaurant.
Ten minutes after she hung up the phone, Grace saw Kono’s car pull up outside. She ran to the car as Kono and Chin both got out. She ran into Kono’s arms.
Kono hugged her but neither said anything, she just looked across the car at Chin.
“Kono, you need to get her out of here. I’ll go.”
“She doesn’t need to be here. We don’t know…”
Kono knew he was right, and as much as she wanted to help, she needed to take care of Grace first.
“No! I want to stay! I need to know if they are okay!”
Chin came around the car and looked down at Grace.
“Grace, it’s too dangerous right now. Kono will take you somewhere safe. I’ll call as soon as I can, okay?”
“He’s right, Grace.”
Her shoulders sagged and she nodded slightly.
Kono guided her around to the passenger side of the door as Chin geared up and headed toward the scene of the shooting. As he was leaving, Grace caught his attention.
“I dropped my purse when I ran.”
He smiled and said, “I’ll keep an eye out for it.”
She nodded again and then got into the car.
Kono hesitated before she started the car and drove away. She was worried and felt helpless. She could only imagine how Grace felt.
“We should call your mother.”
“They’re in England. I don’t want to call her unless…”
“Okay. You don’t want to worry her.”
They were both quiet for about five minutes until Grace broke the silence.
“Kono… about what we talked about this morning… I don’t care, as long as they are okay.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t care if they run background checks and scare off my friends, as long as they are both around to do it. I love them both so much, I don’t know what I’d do if I lost them.” By the end of her statement, the tears were flowing again.
“Oh, Gracie. They’ll be okay. I know it.”
“I understand why they do it. They want to protect me from stuff like that. Danno put his life in danger to protect me today. He told me to run.”
Kono didn’t know what to say, so she just reached over with her right hand and rested it on Grace’s shoulder. She then pulled her hand away when her phone rang. It was Chin.
“Is everything okay?”
“More or less. Everything’s been taken care of, and we’re on the way to the hospital.”
“How are they?”
“They’ll be fine. They’re both worried about Grace.”
“Tell them she’s fine, if a bit scared and worried. We’re on our way there now.”
“See ya there, cuz.”
She hung up the phone and drove toward the hospital.
“Are they okay?” Grace asked, tentatively.
“Uncle Chin says they’ll be fine. He said they’re worried about you.”
Grace didn’t say anything, but there was a hint of a smile on her face.
Kono pulled into a parking spot just outside of the emergency room. From where they were, she saw an ambulance pull away. She figured that had to have been the guys. She turned the car off and they both got out and walked toward the emergency room doors.
When they walked in, Chin was sitting in one of the chairs near the door. He stood when he saw them.
Kono looked down at Grace and said, “Why don’t you go take a seat, and I’ll find out what’s going on.”
Grace nodded and sat in the chair that Chin had just vacated.
Kono and Chin walked to the other side of the room so Grace couldn’t hear what they were talking about.
“So, what happened?”
“Apparently, two kids went into the restaurant and tried to rob the place. When they heard the alarm on the emergency exit go off, it spooked one of them and he ended up shooting Steve.”
“What? You said it wasn’t that bad.”
“It’s not. Clipped him on the arm. The other shots went wide.”
“Then why are they both back there?”
“After they were sure that Grace was safe, they disarmed the two kids. Danny got a nasty gash on the forehead for his trouble. They said it’ll probably need a few stitches.”
“What about the kids?”
Chin smirked. “Let’s just say they’ll think twice before trying to do anything like that ever again. One of them was knocked out cold; the other has a broken arm. As soon as they get out of here they are going straight to jail.”
They both smiled and looked over at Grace, who was pretending like she wasn’t trying to listen in on their conversation. They walked back toward her, but hadn’t made it halfway there before the emergency room doors opened and both Steve and Danny walked out.
As soon as Grace saw them, she got up and ran into Danny’s arms. Danny hugged her tightly.
“Hey, Monkey. Are you okay, baby?”
“I’m okay; I was just worried about you. I wanted to go back but they said it was too dangerous. Does your head hurt?”
“No, not anymore. I was so worried about you. I love you so much.”
“I love you too, Danno.”
Grace pulled away and then went to hug Steve.
“I love you too, Dad.”
Steve pulled back and looked down into her eyes. “You never call me that.”
“Is it okay?”
“Of course it is, Sweetie. What brought that on?”
She pulled away and looked up at both of them.
“I thought I’d lost you, and I don’t know what I’d do if I lost either or both of you. I don’t care what crazy things you do to scare off my friends, as long as you are both around to be able to do it.”
They both looked at her, a little bewildered, and then at each other. They shrugged and then looked back down at her. Steve was the first to speak.
“What do you mean crazy things to scare off your friends?”
“Out of everything she just said and that’s what you pick up on? You’re all heart, Steven.”
Steve gave him one of his goofy grins, and all Danny could do was smile back.
“Can we go home now?”
“Yeah, let’s go home,” Danny said.
The three of them were soon joined by Chin and Kono, and they all walked out of the hospital together; a little worse for wear, but in much better spirit.