The Billionaire's Virgin(10)

By: Jackie Ashenden

But that strange anger sat inside her and she couldn’t get rid of it. And the more she thought about him, the worse it seemed to get.

He’d given her a hat. He’d shown her something new. He’d made her . . . want.

Wanting was bad, wasn’t it?

Then again, without want, she wouldn’t have her hope of a home of her own, would she? Besides, getting angry with him was pointless, because she was never going to see him again anyway.

The next night everything froze and when she woke she was so cold she could barely move. Even the hot pipe didn’t seem to warm her up. She knew what that meant; she was going to have to go to the shelter until it got warmer.

The knowledge put her in a foul mood the whole day, but she knew better than to try and tough it out. She’d done that a couple of times before and had nearly frozen to death. So that evening, as the sun went down and the city streets became icy, she gathered up the few, meager belongings she had and slowly made her way to the shelter.

She always approached it from across the street, so she could check who was outside and what was happening before she got anywhere near it. But tonight she was distracted, trying to brace herself for a night of sleeping in the same room as a whole lot of other people, so she didn’t notice until she was nearly at the doors that all the windows were dark.

Frowning, she tried to peer inside, but she couldn’t see anything. Going over to the doors, she pushed experimentally at them. They remained firmly shut. There was a notice stuck to the grubby glass. She could read, though not well, and it was difficult to make out the words, but the notice seemed to announce that the shelter was closed. There was an address underneath it, which was probably the address of the shelter in Upper Manhattan, but she didn’t want to go there. She’d been attacked the last time, in the middle of the night too, and quite frankly, she’d rather face the cold than a possible knifing.

If you survive the cold.

Mia pulled her overcoat more firmly around her, dismissing the ever present clutch of fear. No, she’d survive. She’d just fucking well have to, wouldn’t she?

Then something made her go utterly still.

A scent wrapping around her. Luxurious and spicy and warm.

“Hello Mia,” said a dark voice from behind her.

Chapter 3

Xavier had expected a number of things on his return from Washington, but to come for his evening’s volunteer work at the shelter, only to find it closed was not one of them. It had pissed him off mightily for reasons he didn’t quite understand, especially since he hadn’t wanted to dole out slop to homeless people in the first place.

Then, just as he was getting back into his limo, his orange-hat creature had turned up and suddenly his mood had become about ten thousand times better.

He didn’t question the pleased feeling that rolled through him as he watched her peer at the sign on the shelter door, a ragged and dirty backpack hanging from one shoulder. Only leaned back against the side of the limo, studying her for a moment.

She looked so small, despite the millions of layers she was no doubt wearing underneath that massively too-big overcoat. Her orange hat was pulled down low on her head, snow sparkling on top of it and the shoulders of her overcoat.

It was cold. Freezing even. Not a night for one small homeless woman to be out and about with no shelter. So he’d said her name, because he didn’t want her vanishing back into the darkness like she’d been doing every night since he’d met her.

She turned around sharply, her dark eyes widening as they met his. Then she looked away, her lashes coming down, veiling her gaze. One delicate hand gripped the strap of her disreputable-looking backpack and she began to sidle away.

Oh, no, she fucking wasn’t. Not tonight.

He stepped toward her, cutting off her escape, and she froze, giving him another wide-eyed, wary look.

“No,” he said quietly and very firmly. “You’re not going anywhere. Not in this weather.”

She blinked at him then backed away slowly so she stood with the shelter doors directly behind her. But he didn’t stop, he kept on coming, closer and closer until he was standing right in front of her, blocking her exit entirely.

Her jaw went tight as she stared straight at his chest, her grip on her backpack white-knuckled.

You’re scaring her, asshole.

Too bad. He had the suspicion that if he were to step aside, she’d take off into the night and he’d never see her again, which wasn’t happening.

It was weird being concerned for another person’s safety, to feel responsible for it, especially when he’d never felt anything like it before. But . . . something in him couldn’t let her leave. Not with snow falling all around them and their breath in white clouds, freezing in the cold night air.