The Billionaire's Virgin(13)

By: Jackie Ashenden


He was so tall and there was something about him that made her aware of every inch of space he took up. She didn’t know what that was about. He was threatening, but not in the usual way guys were threatening. Whatever it was, it made the uneasiness she felt around him even worse.

Her gut instinct told her that getting into the car with him would be a giant mistake, and yet intellectually she knew that standing out on the sidewalk in the cold wasn’t a good idea either. She needed food and she needed to get warm. She’d lost her gloves a day or so ago and that was proving a problem too, so either she got in the car like he’d said or she left and went back to her little place behind the Dumpster.

If he let her go, of course.

He didn’t say anything, watching her with a sharp, intense gaze. The blue of his eyes looked even darker, like the way the sky looked in the middle of the night when she couldn’t sleep, and she noticed, for the first time, that he seemed to be humming with a strange kind of energy. Like a cat going still just before it pounced.

And you’re the mouse.

Her spine stiffened. She wasn’t a damn mouse. He could laugh all he wanted at her about her knife for example, but that didn’t mean she was defenseless. She wasn’t going to let herself be threatened by anyone, and she sure as hell wouldn’t let them make her feel ridiculous or stupid.

He didn’t know her life or what she dealt with every day. That knife, for instance, had enabled her to get away from the men who’d cornered her one night six months ago, taking all her stuff and nearly making her another of New York’s murder statistics. But she’d gotten one of the bastards in the gut before he’d managed to hit her himself, making him drop her and letting her escape.

That knife had ensured her survival, so she didn’t give a shit if he thought it was funny or anything else.

“If you want to make a decision, any time now is good,” he said, his voice as soft and as deep as the night itself, yet about a million times warmer. “I’m freezing my ass off. Just so you know.”

Mia let out a soft breath. Okay. She could get in the car for maybe five minutes, warm her hands and the rest of herself up. Then perhaps, if he was insistent about giving her a ride, she’d tell him to drop her off at the other shelter. Then she’d double back to her alleyway. That wasn’t going to solve the problem about where she was going to sleep for the next few nights, but she’d deal with that issue in the morning.

“Just for five minutes,” she said cautiously.

He gave her a grave nod. “Sure. Five minutes.”

She kept hold of the knife as she moved over to the car, mainly because her fingers were so cold she couldn’t actually loosen her grip. He followed, the dark intensity of his presence at her back making her feel jumpy. But he didn’t make any sudden moves toward her like he had back in the doorway of the shelter, only reaching out to pull open the door of the limo for her.

She peered cautiously into the interior, but it was pretty dark and she couldn’t see anything.

“It’s okay,” he said. “There’s nothing in there but leather and alcohol and a couple of Penthouse magazines.”

She barely heard him. Warmth was flowing out of the car, warmth like nothing else she’d ever felt. It wasn’t the muggy, sour warmth of the shelter when it was full of people, or the hard, dry heat of the pipe she huddled up to at night. It was like a thick, soft blanket she could roll herself up in and never feel cold again.

Dangerous.

Like she didn’t know that already. Then again, it was only five minutes. She could handle five minutes.

Getting into the car, she edged awkwardly over toward the windows on the other side, then lowered herself down onto the edge of the seat. It was like sitting on a cloud. She tensed, not wanting to let her weight rest too heavily on it in case she got the caramel-color leather dirty.

Then she tensed even further as the warmth rolled over her, seeping through the overcoat she wore, crawling beneath the hem of her dirty jeans, soaking through the canvas of her ratty sneakers. So much warmth. It made her afraid, made her not want to move or even relax, because if she did, she’d knew she’d never want to leave. She’d want to stay right here in this car till the end of time.

She shivered, keeping her hands tight in her lap, her fingers curled around her knife, her gaze straight ahead. There was a scent in the air, a thick, luxurious smell like leather and spice, and it made her want to lie down on those soft seats and close her eyes and sleep for days and days.

But she couldn’t. She couldn’t give in, because this wasn’t real. The darkness and the cold and the streets, they were her reality. And a tall rich man in a tall rich man’s car, didn’t have anything to do with that reality.