The Billionaire's Virgin(8)

By: Jackie Ashenden


Finally. It wasn’t much and it certainly wasn’t what he was used to, but it was there all the same. A response.

And what exactly are you going to do with that? What the fuck are you wanting from her?

Did he have to want anything? Couldn’t he simply keep doing this? Coming to the shelter every night, talking to her, seeing what would get a response from her. It was a damn sight more interesting than any of the games he played uptown, with the experienced socialites he normally got himself involved with.

You shouldn’t be playing with her. She doesn’t know the rules.

Well, no, but it wasn’t like he wanted her for sex or anything. He was only curious about her and wanted to see what made her tick. In much the same way as he’d messed around with old bits of electronics and machinery when he’d been a kid. Taking them apart and putting them back together, or exploding things like he’d done with his chemistry set.

Yeah, she’s not a chemistry set, dick.

Xavier leaned on the counter, staring over the heads of the people at the tables, focusing on the flash of orange toward the back of the room.

No, she wasn’t. But he was going to enjoy playing with her all the same.

*

Mia left the shelter as soon as she could, her heart beating fiercely, the food she’d eaten settling in her stomach like a lead weight.

Snow swirled around her and she had to tug the lapels of her overcoat up to stop it from blowing down the neck of her shirt. But some got down there anyway, making her shiver.

She hated being afraid, hated the trembling, quivering emotion that twisted inside her like a snake. He’d been watching her, seen the fight, seen the old man grab her hat and pull it down. He’d seen what she was wearing underneath and worse than that, he knew her name. How did he know that? Where had he heard it?

Walking fast, she lost herself in the crowds on the sidewalk, putting distance between her and the shelter. Every so often she’d look behind her, just to check she wasn’t being followed. It was something she did anyway, not wanting anyone to know where her hidey-hole was, but now it seemed extra important.

You think he’s actually going to follow you?

No, but then people did weird things. You couldn’t trust them, not any of them.

She went the long way around back to her alley, checking behind her the whole time, but no one followed and she managed to slip behind the Dumpster unnoticed.

Snow had fallen all around yet the ground beneath her was dry, kept that way by the collapsed cardboard box she’d put over the concrete. She had another box wedged between the Dumpster and the building wall as a kind of a ceiling that mostly kept the snow and rain off.

She huddled in against the pipe, waiting until a little bit of warmth penetrated through the layers she wore, relaxing her muscles and easing the fear.

Once she felt a bit better, she pulled off her orange hat and then the beanie underneath it, holding it in her hands. She still couldn’t get enough of touching it. It was one the softest things she’d ever felt in her life and so unbelievably warm for something so thin. She should have gotten rid of it, of course, but she hadn’t been able to make herself do it. So she’d hidden it under her orange hat instead, hoping no one would see it.

Until he had.

She stared down at the soft thing in her hands. The color was so blue, so deep. The color of his eyes. Not that she should have noticed that, but since his eyes had been looking straight into hers, she couldn’t help it.

She shouldn’t have looked up. She should have kept pretending he wasn’t there. But something inside her had made her do it, and she had been unable to resist the temptation.

Tall and broad in his dark suit and vivid blue tie. Again, just like his eyes.

Why was she noticing stuff about him? Why was she even letting his existence register? She’d hardly been able to keep looking at him, he’d been so shiny and bright and clean. He was the type of man who walked with his attention on the sky, not on the ground beneath his feet. He didn’t see people like her, those types never did, so why was he looking at her now?

She didn’t like it. It made her feel antsy and restless and . . . wrong.

Her fingers curled in the soft wool of the beanie. Really, she should get rid of it, throw it in the Dumpster and forget about it. But she found herself lifting it and putting it back on her head all the same.

Tomorrow maybe. She’d give it to someone else.

She slept poorly that night and the next day was cold, snow everywhere. Sometimes the cold made finding food easy since it didn’t go bad as quickly as it did in the summer, but her usual haunt, the trash out the back of a Starbucks, had been picked over early and there was nothing left for her.