The Billionaire's Virgin(6)

By: Jackie Ashenden

Why the fuck does this matter to you?

He didn’t know and shit, it wasn’t going to matter anymore. He was going to Washington in a couple of days anyway, for a meeting with some more political bigwigs, and he had to be on his best behavior, which meant getting irritated with homeless women about how they weren’t wearing hats he’d brought them was a waste time.

He smiled at the next person in line, a young guy with sores on his face and a manic look in his eye. “Soup for you, sir? Don’t mind if I do.” As he ladled out the soup. his gaze wandered back to orange-hat creature, unable to keep from watching her as she moved over to the tables and sat down, hunching her shoulders as if trying to make herself smaller.

And for about the hundredth time since he’d first laid eyes on her, he tried to work out why she was so damn fascinating. She wasn’t pretty, she wasn’t beautiful. She was undernourished and probably filthy. But . . . Christ. There was just something about her. Even here, even surrounded by all these other poor people, she stood out. It was there in her eyes, in her sharp, intense features, a bright, burning light.

Everyone here reeked of desperation, the same as they reeked of it in his own social circles. True, it was different in the penthouses on Fifth Avenue. It wasn’t about simple survival there, it was more about power: people were either desperate to acquire it or they were desperate to keep it.

But it wasn’t desperation he got from her. He didn’t know what it was, didn’t really have any way to describe what radiated from her, but the closest he could come to it was . . . determination. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and was going out to get it.

Yeah, he knew what that was all about.

He stared at her as the next person came for food, not paying attention in the slightest as he slopped the soup into their tray. What the hell did a woman like her want? When you had nothing at all, what was the thing you were most determined to have? Was it simply surviving each day? Or did she hope for more?

It had to be more. That kind of determination spoke of hope, which was a strange thing to think when you were standing right in the middle of such hopelessness.

The line moved on and Xavier kept staring.

There were no paparazzi outside now, everyone had lost interest in the son of the weapons billionaire dishing out meals at a homeless shelter. The only people left were two De Santis Corp bodyguards who’d insisted on following him down here, even though he could well look after himself. He’d been told they had to stay outside since they made people in the shelter uncomfortable, and he was okay with that. He didn’t think any of these poor bastards could pull a knife on him even if they’d wanted to.

Then again, it would liven things up a little if they did.

He was doling out the last of the soup, when raised voices drew his attention.

A couple of people were having an altercation at one of the tables and he was concerned to see that they were having it very near his orange-hat creature.

She stood up, scuttling back from the fight that was going on, cannoning into a rather frail old man who put out a hand to stop himself from falling, grabbing a handful of her orange hat. She made a small, protesting sound, pulling away from the old man as people went to help him, her hands reaching to settle her hat more firmly on her head.

But not before Xavier caught a glimpse of something blue beneath the orange wool.

She was wearing his blue beanie underneath.

Something twisted inside of him, something hard and savage and primitive. A combination of fierce satisfaction and a kind of feral possessiveness that was completely alien to him.

He’d spent much of his adult life not wanting anything and not giving a shit about anyone, so the intensity of this particular feeling should have worried him. At the very least it should have made him vaguely uneasy. But he wasn’t worried and he wasn’t uneasy, he only watched as she turned around and headed toward the shelter doors without even a glance in his direction.

“Mia,” someone called, and he saw her check. But she didn’t stop, just kept going out into the cold night, vanishing into the dark.

Mia. That was her name, he was certain. And she’d kept his hat.

Night ten and he was there early, taking up his station behind the big bowl of chili that went on everyone’s tacos.

He was supposed to be attending a meeting at de Santis headquarters to go over the latest test results for the body armor he was taking with him to Washington, but that could wait. At least, it could wait until he’d done his community duty.

And seen orange-hat creature, aka Mia.

But he was there the whole night, and she didn’t turn up.