Hidden Currents

By: Christine Feehan


1

“HAVING fun, Sheena?” Stavros Gratsos rubbed his palms up and down Elle Drake’s bare arms to warm her as he stood behind her at the railing of his large yacht.

All around them the sound of laughter and snatches of conversation drifted past her out to the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.

Sheena MacKenzie, Elle’s undercover name—and her alter ego. Sheena could sit at any dinner table and rule, her polish and sophistication and air of mystery guaranteeing she’d get attention. Devoid of makeup, with her hair in a ponytail, Elle Drake could slide into the shadows and disappear. They made a nearly unbeatable combination, and Sheena had done exactly what Elle needed her to do—she’d lured Stavros and kept him interested long enough for Elle to poke into his glamorous life and see what she could turn up—which, so far, was . . . nothing.

Elle couldn’t read Stavros’s thoughts and emotions the way she did others when they touched her, and that amazed her. Her psychic ability to read thoughts was disturbing most of the time, but there were a very few who seemed to have natural barriers and she had to purposely “invade” if she wanted to see what they were thinking. Elle rarely ever intruded, even when she was undercover, but she would have made an exception in Stavros’s case. She had been investigating him for months and had found nothing to either clear him—or to point toward his guilt.

She glanced over her shoulder at Stavros. “It’s been wonderful. Amazing. But I think everything you do is like this and you know it.” Stavros always put on the best parties and his yacht was bigger than most people’s homes. He served the best food, had the best music and surrounded himself with intelligent people, fun people.

In all the months she’d been watching him, she had yet to discover even a hint of criminal activity. Stavros had been kind and generous, giving millions to charities, supporting the arts and working out deals with his employees in a hands-on discussion that avoided laying off an entire group of workers. She had come to respect the man in spite of earlier suspicions, and she was ready to go back to Dane Phelps, her boss, and write a very strongly worded report that the rumors concerning Stavros were wrong—except that his aura indicated danger and a strong penchant for violence. Of course, some of the men her sisters had chosen as their mates had that same vivid color swirling around them.

“I held this party in your honor, Sheena,” Stavros admitted. “My elusive butterfly.” He tugged on her arm to turn her around so that her back was against the rail and she was caged in by his body. “I want you to come to my island with me, to see my private home.”

Her heart jumped. According to rumor, Stavros never took any woman to his island. He had homes all over the world, but the island was his private retreat. Most undercover operatives would have relished the opportunity to enter Stavros’s private sanctum, but her boss had been adamant that she not go, even if the opportunity presented itself. There was no way to communicate from that island.

Stavros took her hand and carried her knuckles to his mouth. “Come with me, Sheena.”

She tried not to wince. Sheena. She was such a fraud. This was the man she should fall in love with, not the worm—he-who-could-never-be-named—who had broken her heart. Here was Stavros, handsome, intelligent, wealthy, a man who solved problems and seemed to care for many of the same causes she did. Why couldn’t he be the man she fell madly in love with?

“I can’t,” she said gently. “Really, Stavros. I want to, but I can’t.”

His eyes darkened, became stormy. Stavros liked his way and was definitely used to getting it. “You mean you won’t.”

“I mean I can’t. You want things from me I can’t give you. I told you from the beginning we could be friends—not lovers.”

“You’re not married.”

“You know I’m not.” But she should have been. She should have been settled in her family home with the man destiny had intended for her, but he had rejected her. Her stomach churned at the thought. She’d put an ocean between them and still he tried to reach her, his voice a faint buzz in her head, trying to persuade her to return—to what? A man who didn’t want children or a legacy of magic. He refused to understand that was who she was—what she was. In rejecting her legacy, he rejected her. And she needed a man who would help her. Who would understand how difficult it was for her to face her future. She needed someone to lean on, not someone she had to coax or take care of.

“Come home with me,” he repeated.

Elle shook her head. “I can’t, Stavros. You know what would happen if I did and we can’t go there.”

His white teeth flashed at her. “So at least you’ve thought about it.”

Elle tipped her head back and looked up at him. “You know how charming you are. What woman wouldn’t be tempted by you?” And she was. It would be so easy. He was so sweet to her, always attentive, wanting to give her the world. She reached up and touched his face regretfully. “You’re a good man, Stavros.”

She was ashamed she’d suspected him of the heinous things she had—human trafficking among the worst. Yes, he’d started out smuggling guns in his freighters, years earlier when he had nothing. But he seemed to have more than made up for all of his mistakes, and as far as she could ascertain, he was truly legitimate. At least she could clear his name with Interpol and the other agencies around the world where his name kept cropping up. That would make her feel better about spending these past months working to befriend him and earn his trust.