Steve was on vacation visiting New Jersey with Danny and Gracie. He had woke early and gone for a jog along the Ocean's edge.
This was the first time he had ever been to New Jersey and he had to admit that he could now understand his partner's love for this place. It was a gorgeous State, and it sure didn't hurt that Danny's parents lived right on the beach. He returned back to the house to find Mrs. Margaret 'Maggie' Williams sitting on the patio overlooking the Ocean. He smiled broadly as he drew closer to her. Maggie and Bob Williams had opened their home and their hearts to him. As soon as they met they had treated him as if he was one of their own. He had known them for only two days and he already held a warm spot in his heart for Danny's parents.
"Good morning Steven, did you have a nice run?"
"Yes Mrs. Williams….."
"Steve, please dear boy, call me Maggie"
"Of course Maggie, and yes, I had a wonderful run. It's absolutely beautiful here"
She smiled "And that is coming from someone who lives in paradise!" He took a seat next to her and she handed him a glass of orange juice.
"Thank you. Have you ever been to Hawaii Maggie?"
"No, but I sure would love to visit"
"We'll have to make sure you do just that. You will always be welcome into my home"
Gracie came bounding out of the house in her nightgown holding her newly favored stuffed animal that Uncle Steve had bought her at the airport in Hawaii, a seal….appropriately named, SuperSEAL.
She reached up and hugged her grandmother and then jumped up into Steve's lap. "Hi Uncle Steve!"
"Good Morning sweetheart. Did you sleep good?"
"Uh huh" She reached out and grabbed his orange juice bringing it quickly to her mouth.
Maggie admonished the eight year old, "Gracie Margaret! That is your Uncle Steve's juice!"
The little girl wiped her forearm across her mouth, "It's okay Grandma, Uncle Steve shares really really good"
"Well even so young lady, if you want a glass of juice you just need to ask"
She giggled, "Grandma, can I have some orange juice please?"
Maggie poured the juice and handed it to her. After she took another drink, she set the glass down and leaned back against Steve's chest. She was humming softly and bouncing the stuffed seal in her arms when suddenly she said, "Uncle Steve you're all sweaty"
Maggie again looked at her eldest granddaughter, "Gracie where are your manners to our guest?"
"Grandma, Uncle Steve isn't our guest? He's family!"
Steve chuckled and wrapped his arms around the little girl, "Gracie, that's the nicest thing anyone's said to me in a long time! I love you sweetheart!"
Maggie smiled as Gracie looked up into the man's eyes, "I love you too Uncle Steve"
The older woman watched as the Navy SEAL chatted with the little girl with such ease and comfort. Her son had been in Hawaii almost two years now and although she missed him and Gracie every day she had surprisingly found comfort when Danny had told her about his new partner, Steven McGarrett. Every conversation with her oldest son would include several humorous 'Danny rants' about this man who obviously meant the world to him. She had found herself being just as excited to meet Steve on this trip as she was to see Danny and Grace and the man had not disappointed her. He was definitely special and watching him interact with little Gracie brought a warmth to her heart. His love for her and her love for him was truly genuine. In less than forty eight hours this beautifully kind man had a found his way into her heart.
They were then joined by Danny who bent down to kiss his daughter as he moved past them taking a chair next to his mother.
"You've already been on a run this morning buddy? You're on vacation you know, you can sleep past five o'clock"
"Daddy can we tell him now?"
"Now? Don't you want to eat breakfast first?"
"No….Danno…" The little girl could not seem to control her excitement as her daddy grinned at her.
"Okay Monkey, you can tell him"
Steve looked at the three of them, "What's up Gracie?"
"We are going camping Uncle Steve!"
"Camping? What are you talking about?"
Danny then spoke to his partner, "Gracie thought that you might enjoy camping 'Jersey style'. You've shown us the beauty of Hawaii and we would like you to see the beauty of New Jersey"
"That sounds great! Thank you Gracie, this was your idea?"
"Uh huh. There's a special place that Danno and Uncle Matty took me and my cousins to. It's really pretty Uncle Steve"
Steve looked over at Danny, "This sounds great Gracie, but Danny shouldn't we send the time with your family? You don't need to do this for me"
Maggie added, "Steve, you go enjoy this. It's a beautiful place. Gracie loves it and she wants to share it with you. The others aren't getting here until Saturday morning"
Steve looked at the little girl, "I can't wait Gracie, when are we leaving?"
The adults chuckled as Gracie shrugged her shoulders and Danny spoke, "We'll head out after breakfast. I packed up our gear yesterday"
Bob also came out to join them as Maggie and Gracie excused themselves to go fix breakfast. A couple of hours later after gorging on a buffet of eggs, bacon, sausage, blueberry pancakes (Danny's favorite), cheesy hashbrowns, toast with homemade jam, fruit, juice and coffee, the three showered and then hit the road.
It was a four hour drive to Danny's 'secret spot' and they pulled to a stop a little after two o'clock unaware of the danger that faced them today deep in the forest.
As they pulled their gear from the back of their rental truck Steve's smile was huge. "Guys this is beautiful! What a gorgeous area"
"Are we going to go by the water Daddy?"
"Yes we are Monkey. Are you ready for the hike?"
"Uh huh…..it's really pretty by the water Uncle Steve"
"I'm sure it is Gracie"
Danny added, "It's so amazingly peaceful here Steve. There is no cell phone service, just us and nature"
It was an hour hike deep into the woods and as Danny put the tent up Steve and Gracie collected firewood and Gracie then walked him down to the water's edge.
"Isn't it pretty here Uncle Steve?"
"It sure is Gracie. It smells so fresh and clean"
Gracie giggled, "You're silly"
"What do you mean?"
"It smells like fish Uncle Steve!"
"I guess I like fish, huh? Let's go see how Danno's doing okay?"
Once the campsite was set the three went on a hike with Gracie showing Steve all the different leaves, trees and small wildlife of the forest. Danny smiled lovingly as he watched his daughter, so thrilled to be sharing her knowledge with her friend.
When they returned back to the campsite Danny had a slight headache so he went to lie down in the tent for a quick nap and Steve and Gracie walked down to the water unaware of the danger facing them.