he’d get away with it, and probably has for years.”
“What exactly was Elle doing?” Jackson asked. Human trafficking. The thought of Elle in the hands of men like that left him shaken and cold and useless. He couldn’t let his mind go there. He tried not to remember her voice, so shaken, reaching out to him and how he couldn’t find her. She’d been in the hands of a madman for a month.
“She met Gratsos casually a few times,” Ilya said, “and according to her handler, Gratsos seemed quite captivated by her.”
Jackson closed his eyes briefly. He understood completely. Elle had that effect on people. She seemed elusive, out of reach. A combination of sexy and innocent that could capture a man’s attention and not let him go. He knew better than most. Once he’d heard her voice, that soft bedroom voice that sank into a man’s skin and settled in the pit of his stomach and gathered full force in his groin, he’d thought of little else. The obsession had only increased in her company.
She was short, the shortest of her sisters, with a petite, very feminine figure. Her eyes were as green as the sea, like two sparkling gems that enticed and promised. Her wealth of red hair was straight, without a hint of the curls that her sister Hannah had. The silken fall cascaded past her waist, a bright waterfall that took a man’s breath. Jackson had a lot of fantasies about that hair—and her mouth, her perfect bow of a mouth. She seemed small and fragile, a woman to protect and cherish, so feminine a man might want to own her, yet there was steel inside her. She could appear cool and distant, yet any man would see the fire in her, the passion smoldering so close to the surface, passion a man would want all to himself. Yeah, he could see Gratsos being captivated by her. She was exotic and elusive and just out of reach. Someone used to getting anything he wanted would be more than intrigued by her.
“You think this Gratsos has her locked away somewhere?”
Ilya nodded. “Interpol and her handler believe she’s dead. We know she’s not. Gratsos might believe the cover story—a thief trying to steal from him. He might suspect her of being undercover, but he’d want to believe she was a thief, especially if he had the hots for her, which my informant said was obvious. Even believing she was an international thief might intrigue him further. If he’s dirty dealing, he might be even more attracted thinking that she could be.”
“He’d be angry with her, that she wasn’t falling into his lap,” Jonas said. “If he really was dealing in human trafficking, then he couldn’t afford to risk that she was undercover and spying on him. That kind of charge, even for someone as powerful as him, would rock the world. He’d have to kill her.”
Ilya nodded. “That would be the smart thing to do and Gratsos is a very smart man, but he’s also very egotistical and believes himself to be above the law. He was penniless as a teen and built an empire from sheer guts and brains. Tragedy struck his family from the very beginning. His father married a woman, had twins, and she and the other boy died a month later in an automobile accident. The father was a mean son of a bitch, but Gratsos proved to be a very intelligent boy and he caught a few breaks from teachers. According to rumor, his first venture was smuggling and he was good at it. He had no compunction about operating outside the law then and I’m certain he doesn’t have any worry over it now either. He owns tankers for transporting oil and freighters for dozens of other very lucrative contracts. Smuggling a few women on board wouldn’t be a problem. If he’s been doing this from the beginning of his career, he’d be very good at it by now. Keeping Elle might prove to be irresistible to him. He would like the idea of a woman like Elle under his thumb, right under the noses of the authorities while he carried on with his yachting and parties and business as