The Billionaire's Virgin(5)

By: Jackie Ashenden

He wasn’t there. Thank God for that.

She settled herself, grabbing a tray and getting in line, standing there silently listening to the buzz of conversation from the people around her. She didn’t like talking to people, since they always asked too many questions, but she liked listening to other people talk. It made her feel connected in a way she rarely did.

The line was long but it moved fast, and soon she was moving with her tray over to one of the tables, finding a place to sit that wasn’t too near anyone else, and eating quickly.

There came a small eruption of noise by the door, more people talking then laughing. Mia, too busy eating, didn’t turn around. And then she heard it, the sound of a voice, deep and dark, smooth and warm. An expensive voice.


She hunched her shoulders and went very still, a primitive response to danger, sure, but it had kept her alive in the past. Not that she thought he was going to kill her or anything, she just didn’t want him to see her. Or, in fact, notice her in any way.

The sound of his voice rolled beneath everyone else’s, cutting through them effortlessly as if he never expected not to be heard or anyone not to listen when he spoke. But it didn’t sound like it was coming closer, which was good.

She scraped the last of the spaghetti sauce off the bottom of her metal tray. If she was quick, she’d be able to get out of here before he had a chance to notice she was here.

Then every nerve ending in her body sprang to attention, the hairs on the back of her neck lifting. Because someone was standing behind her. Someone very tall. And she could smell something spicy and luxurious, a scent she had no comparisons for and couldn’t describe. A scent that made her hungry—and not for food, which was just downright confusing.

She froze, dread shifting inside her.

A hand came down on the table next to her, tanned, long-fingered, and very masculine. A hand with white scars scattered all over it. And there was something between those long fingers, something made out of midnight blue wool.

“Here,” that deep, dark voice said. “You might find a use for this.”

Then he left. She could hear him moving away, talking to someone else now, his voice fading, that delicious scent fading with him.

She blinked, staring down at the thing he’d left on the table.

It was knitted and soft-looking, and she had a horrible feeling that it might be a hat.

Anger rose inside her, thick and hot, because she hated it when people gave her things without asking. Without thinking about whether it was something someone else might want and which then could potentially be stolen off her. She preferred not to have things at all because the less she had, the less other people viewed her as a target.

She should leave it on the table, or better yet, throw it on the floor and wipe her filthy sneakers all over it, tear it up and destroy it. That way no one could have it.

The old man a couple of seats away reached out to snatch it, and before she could stop herself, Mia found her fingers closing around the blue wool and jamming it in her pocket instead.

It was so unbelievably soft she couldn’t make herself let it go.

Damn, she was an idiot. If there was one thing living on the streets had taught her, it was that getting attached to anything at all was a bad move, because sooner or later you either lost it or someone else took it from you.

Better to let the old man have it.

But she didn’t take it out of her pocket and five minutes later, as she stepped out into the freezing night, she was still holding it.

Chapter 2

Night eight she wasn’t there.

Night nine she was. And she wasn’t wearing his goddamn hat.

She stood in front of him, holding out her tray, her gaze aimed squarely at the middle of his chest, that filthy orange monstrosity pulled down low on her head. No sign of the soft blue cashmere beanie he’d gotten Sandra, his secretary, to buy from Barneys on her lunch hour a couple of days earlier.

Xavier couldn’t believe he was irritated about it, and yet he was. Women normally loved it when he bought them stuff, they ate it up with a fucking spoon, giggling and fluttering their eyelashes and falling over themselves to thank him. Most of the time he even got laid out of it, not that he was interested in this woman in that way. He’d only wanted to help her.

Apparently though, his help wasn’t good enough.

“What did you do with my hat?” he demanded before he could stop himself.

She said nothing, her sharp little face expressionless. She had the longest, thickest, black eyelashes, and for a second he thought he caught glimpse of bright black eyes staring up at him through them.

Then she was moving on to the volunteer beside him, getting a helping of whatever overcooked vegetables they were serving that night.