The Billionaire's Virgin(3)

By: Jackie Ashenden


As the people lined up for their meal, he found himself glancing at their faces, as if looking for someone. Sure enough, when he spotted that orange beanie, he felt something inside him settle.

Okay, ridiculous as this was, if he could demo the latest De Santis high-tech weaponry to the delight of the military, not to mention the government, then he could at least get some kind of fucking reaction out of one little homeless woman.

She approached him, holding out her tray. But this time Xavier didn’t smile at her and he didn’t say a word. He just looked at her. Looked straight into her black eyes and held her gaze with his, unleashing the full power of the infamous de Santis charisma on her.

She wrinkled her nose and turned away.

This time he wasn’t only irritated. He was annoyed.

Ridiculous to get so worked up about a woman ignoring him, especially when he had so many women falling at his feet, and it really did make him a cliché to be so fascinated by the one woman who didn’t.

But . . . he just couldn’t help it. He was annoyed.

Night five and he decided that if she was there, he was going to ignore her completely. No smile. No nothing. It was stupid for someone like him to let someone like her under his skin, utterly stupid.

But this time the black-eyed woman and her telltale orange beanie wasn’t there.

Not that he cared. He had many other more important things to be worried about, such as securing this government contract and finally getting his father to hand over Blue Skies to him.

He couldn’t fucking wait. It wasn’t that he minded the city—much—but his heart had always been back in Wyoming, where their family had originally come from and where he’d spent summers as a boy. He’d always planned to move back there, though his father didn’t know that quite yet. In fact his father wouldn’t know that until Blue Skies was finally Xavier’s, because he was pretty sure the manipulative old bastard would try and find some way to stop him if he did.

For Cesare de Santis, business—and therefore the entire known universe—revolved around New York, not some ranch in the middle of nowhere, and New York was where he’d insisted his family remain.

But not Xavier. He was going to get out as soon as he could.

Night six, and Xavier had come in before a party he had to go to in Hell’s Kitchen. Only a couple of paparazzi hanging around this time, and these guys were more interested in fiddling around with their phones than in him. Which was aggravating.

He didn’t look for the orange beanie—deliberately didn’t look—and he didn’t say a word to the people lining up for their meals.

Then suddenly there she was in front of him. Wearing the same outfit she’d been wearing three days earlier, that orange beanie pulled down low over her head. There was snow on the shoulders of her overcoat and shadows beneath her dark eyes. But those eyes burned even brighter tonight, as if something had stoked the fire inside her, and he had the oddest impression that he could hold out his hands to her like she was a fire, and his fingers would warm up.

He said nothing as she held out her tray to him, ladling in the same kind of stew that he’d ladled out six nights earlier. But as she turned away to get her bread, he murmured, “You need a new hat.”

Her gaze flickered. And for a second, her dark eyes came to his.

Then she looked away.

It wasn’t much, but it was the first reaction he’d gotten from her, and he felt it like a victory, a surge of satisfaction sweeping through him.

Next time, oh next time, he was going to make sure she didn’t look away.

*

The guy was there again, watching her as she found a place at the table and started to eat. Mia could almost feel his eyes drilling holes in her back.

She didn’t like it. She didn’t like him looking at her, seeing her. She didn’t like him watching her like he expected something from her.

Not that it was hard to work out what most men expected from her, but the weird thing with this guy was that she didn’t think he was after sex.

She didn’t know what he was after and that was the thing that unsettled her.

The first night he’d appeared at the shelter, she almost hadn’t been able to look at him, he was so . . . bright. And shiny. And clean.

He’d been in a tux and was so tall, all that spotless black fabric stretching out in front of her, and when she’d looked into his eyes, she’d felt something inside her fall away. They’d been blue. Blue like the little patch of sky she caught glimpses of from her current alleyway hideout.

She didn’t like that either. Not his blue eyes or the shape of his face, the planes and angles of his nose, cheekbones and jaw arranging themselves into something she knew was probably handsome. More than that even. Or his black hair, the way it looked thick and spiky and soft, as if she could sink her fingers into it like a fur coat.