The Billionaire's VirginBy: Jackie Ashenden
As Xavier de Santis, billionaire bad boy and youngest son of the second richest man in New York, slopped stew into the tin plates of the poor and needy at the Midtown homeless shelter his father had forced him to volunteer at, he realized it wasn’t the actual physical reality of Manhattan’s poor and needy that bothered him the most.
It was the smell. Not the unwashed bodies or the unkempt hair or the terrible breath. No, as unpleasant as all that was, that he could deal with.
It was the smell of hopelessness, of despair, that he had difficulty with.
He didn’t know why, since hopelessness and despair were also prevalent in the social circles he moved in, but maybe it was because in his world they were just better hidden. Here, in the people lining up for what was probably their only meal of the day, they were right in his face.
It made him uncomfortable, and if there was one thing Xavier hated, it was being uncomfortable. Especially when being uncomfortable made him run at the mouth like a tool.
“I don’t like it,” he said to the old man with broken teeth who was standing in front of him holding out a plate. “I mean, I’m sorry. I just can’t do despair.” He lifted the ladle of stew and poured it out onto the man’s plate. “Hopelessness, fine. Okay, no, it’s not fine, obviously. But it’s easier somehow, you know?”
The old man looked at him, his face utterly blank, then shuffled on as if Xavier hadn’t spoken.
“What about you?” Xavier asked as another person moved in front of him, another old man who looked ninety but was probably only all of sixty. “Care for a little despair with your hopelessness? Or are you more a despair person with a side order of hopelessness?”
The man blinked at him as if he was speaking Greek.
“Half and half, am I right?” Xavier ladled more stew. “The hopelessness and despair are pretty even and you’re not favoring one or the other? I like that. Life’s all about balance, yes?”
The man shook his head, muttered something under his breath, and moved on to collect his portion of bread, while the volunteer on Xavier’s left shot Xavier a disgusted look.
Right. He was probably talking too much again. But how else was he supposed to get through this? He preferred throwing money at a problem, preferably from a safe distance, not having to stare right into its grim, haggard face and worn, ragged clothes.
Unfortunately though, due to a drunken brawl with a paparazzo who’d been shoving his stupid fucking camera in Xavier’s face, Xavier got to get right up close and personal with it.
The paparazzo, like so many of them, had been an asshole, instantly seeing dollar signs the moment Xavier had grabbed the offending camera and flung it into a nearby trash can. Dollar signs meaning assault charges, despite the fact that Xavier had barely touched him.
Normally Cesare de Santis, head of De Santis Corp, the country’s biggest personal security manufacturer, and Xavier’s father, usually let his sons deal with their own problems, but in this instance, he’d had to step into the breach, using his influence and liberal amounts of cash to make the pap drop the charges. He’d also made it very clear to Xavier that a public show of penitence was required, since having the de Santis name associated with violence was a step too far for buyers who didn’t like to be reminded that personal security included weapons and that weapons could be actually used to kill people.
“Protection’s what they’re buying,” his father had always said. “And that’s what we’re selling.”
Xavier had no problem with that. What he did have a problem with was apologizing. That and abasing himself. He was a goddamn de Santis and he didn’t have to prove how sorry he was for what he’d done, because (a) he wasn’t very sorry and (b) he hadn’t even landed a punch, though he’d very much wanted to.
Still, it was either volunteer at the shelter or lose the one thing in entire world he actually wanted, the one thing he’d spent most of his adult life working toward: ownership of his late mother’s Wyoming ranch.
Blue Skies was owned by his father now and because Cesare knew Xavier wanted it, he held it over Xavier’s head at every opportunity in order to get his son to do what he wanted. Cesare de Santis was a manipulative bastard and the real kicker was that it worked.