The Billionaire's Virgin(2)

By: Jackie Ashenden


It was also why he was in this shitty Midtown homeless shelter, doling out slop, having come to do his volunteer stint straight from a party at the Met.

He hadn’t even bothered changing out of his tux.

Through the window that faced the street, the paparazzi were hanging around, taking pics of him through the glass, though the de Santis security team waiting for him outside were doing their best to move them along.

Xavier smiled and gave them a jaunty wave. Which, on reflection, wasn’t very penitent of him. At all.

The next person moved in front of him, holding out their tray.

“What can I get for you today?” he asked, getting bored now. “Will it be the stew or the stew?”

But it wasn’t an old man standing in front of him this time. It was a woman.

She was little and dressed in a plain, dark blue button down shirt, a dirty brown overcoat at least three sizes too big for her, and a hideous, bright orange woolen beanie pulled down over her head. Her features were delicate and sharply angled, not pretty but intense-looking somehow, and her wide black eyes tilted up at the corners like a cat’s.

Something burned in those eyes, a kind of fire that reached out and grabbed him by the throat, and Xavier, who always had something to say, suddenly couldn’t think of a single word.

She held out her tray, bright black eyes watching him warily.

Reflexively, he smiled at her as he doled out her stew.

Her expression didn’t change in the slightest. In fact, she looked away as if he didn’t exist, moving on to collect some bread from the person next to him.

Xavier blinked. He couldn’t think of the last time a woman hadn’t responded to his smile. Or, come to think of it, had dismissed him so completely. It was enough to give a guy a complex, not that he was one for complexes. Hell, it was even kind of funny that a poor little homeless woman could cut one of New York’s most sought after and notorious bad boys dead.

He grinned to himself and promptly forgot about it.

The next night, though, he was back at the shelter, late this time because he’d been giving a presentation to some government clients who’d insisted on dealing with him personally. He’d impressed the fuck out of them with the new De Santis development in body armor, and since his father had made it clear that if Xavier managed to close this particular contract, he’d be one step closer to getting ownership of the ranch, he was feeling in a particularly good mood.

He whistled as he doled out tonight’s meal—lasagna this time—smiling at the downtrodden lined up in front of him.

Two old men, three middle-aged women, and one young guy with an obvious meth addiction later, Xavier found a hideous burnt orange beanie in his sightline. He frowned, then lowered his gaze to meet a pair of familiar bright black eyes.

It was her. Again.

A curious jolt went through him, which was just downright strange since he didn’t go for women in dirty overcoats and orange beanies. His tastes ran to tall and athletic, or small and voluptuous, he wasn’t that picky on shape, to be fair. If they were into him and he was into them, it was all good. But generally, he preferred to choose his partners from bars or parties, not homeless shelters.

So why this woman should hold his attention was anyone’s guess.

She was just . . . actually, he couldn’t put his finger on what she was. There was a . . . fire in her. A fire he’d never seen in any other woman, or at least not one that burned so brightly. For some completely inexplicable reason, it fascinated him.

He smiled at her again, giving her the full-on Xavier de Santis treatment that usually made women flutter and giggle like teenagers in front of their favorite movie star. But again, this woman blanked him like he wasn’t even there.

This time it wasn’t so amusing.

Oddly irritated for being irritated about it, Xavier put it out of his mind.

Until the next night when she turned up in front of him again, holding out her tray, those fascinating black eyes blinking at him.

“Good evening, madam,” he said, because he’d be damned if he let a woman make him lose the power of speech twice in one week. “Will you be having the caviar?”

She said nothing. And when he doled out the clam chowder, she turned away as if he hadn’t said a thing. Again.

Goddammit.

He couldn’t work out why he was so irritated, because what the hell did he care if some woman didn’t respond to his perfectly friendly smiles? She didn’t have to, and no doubt she had far more important stuff to deal with than smiling back. But still.

It needled him.

Night four and he came directly in from the office, still in his bespoke suit and tie, dishing out ladlesful of some godawful vegetable soup. The paparazzi outside had thinned out somewhat, the novelty of a de Santis helping out in a homeless shelter wearing off, which Xavier found a tad galling. He liked being the center of attention, and when the spotlight wasn’t on him he started to get antsy.