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A Virgin for His Prize

By:Lucy Monroe

ily as her head.

Maxwell Black was bored. Attending these functions rarely provided anything but a few mind-numbing hours interspersed with brief moments of useful networking.

Oh, he believed in the cause. Tonight’s gala was dedicated to raising funds for and awareness of the plight of hunger among school-age children.

Considering the focus of the evening, he might have an opportunity to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes. Watching Romi Grayson.

Touching her was more satisfying, but she’d turned down his offer of a liaison in no uncertain terms.

In a rare show of restraint, he hadn’t continued the pursuit.

There was something different…almost special…about the old-money San Francisco heiress, a vulnerability he was unwilling to exploit.

A first for him—he’d stayed away from her as much out of self-preservation as anything else.

He felt protective toward her in ways he did not understand, ways that could be manipulated if she knew about them. So, she would never find out.

Even so, plans and intentions changed and he was coming to the conclusion that he and Romi might have a future after all. So long as Maxwell dictated the terms.

The soft scent of jasmine and vanilla he always associated with the heiress activist reached him before she did.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Maxwell Black, master tycoon.”

Squelching the urge to turn quickly, he slowly faced her.

Black, silky chin-length hair framed Romi’s pixie-like features, her bow-shaped lips set in an uncustomary flat line. Her makeup was dramatic tonight, bringing out the gentian blue of her eyes. Eyes that snapped with accusation he did not understand.

Or perhaps he did.

“Good evening, Romi. You look lovely tonight.”

The elegant peacock-blue evening gown accented her modest curves, highlighting Romi’s particular brand of delicate femininity. Fragility at odds with her gung-ho approach to life. Romi didn’t consider any cause too great, or any opponent too intimidating to take on.

Borderline petite at five foot five, with a personality that more than made up for her smaller stature, Maxwell had found Ramona Grayson intriguing from their first meeting.

“Thank you.” She frowned at him, but offered grudgingly, “You’re very handsome yourself tonight. Not a designer I recognize. A tuxedo from one of the tailors on Savile Row?”

He smiled, impressed by her powers of observation. Having his clothing made to fit could be considered a luxury by some, but for Maxwell it was more than that. Tailored designer brands impressed, but having a bespoke suit, patterned and constructed entirely to his specifications, made another kind of impression, one in line with Maxwell’s reputation for utter control in and out of the boardroom.

“My suit-maker is local, but he apprenticed with a Savile Row tailor.”

“Of course. I notice you don’t give his name.”

“Why? Are you looking for a new tailor for your father?” Not that Maxwell thought his would take on Grayson.

The tailor was both expensive and extremely discerning about his clientele. An alcoholic on the verge of taking his company down to the bottom of a whiskey bottle had no chance.

Romi’s barely there grimace was quickly masked. “No.”

“The waiting list for his services is a year out.” Maxwell found himself offering the truth as an excuse, an unaccustomed effort to spare her feelings.

“No doubt you subverted it somehow.”

Maxwell smiled. “Not a chance. The man’s a martinet about his schedule and his client standards.”

“Still, I’m surprised,” Romi said, her intent to bait him obvious.

Something was definitely bothering her. “Are you?”

“You’re a very opportunistic man.” The edge to her voice was sharper than a chef’s cleaver.

He couldn’t deny it, didn’t want to. His ability to identify and take advantage of opportunities was something that had helped Maxwell to build his business and his fortune to what they were today. A multimillionaire personally, his company, Black Information Technologies, or BIT, was valued at ten times his personal assets.

Not bad for a thirty-two-year-old bastard having no acknowledged ties to wealth, like Romi had been born with.

However, it was clear something about that character trait had upset Romi. Recently, if he wasn’t mistaken. Since there was no way she could know about the plans he’d been considering for her father’s company, it had to be something else.

Mentally going back through the events of the past week that others were aware of, Maxwell thought he might know. “You’ve spoken to Madison Archer.”

“I talk to Maddie every day, several times a day.” The increased annoyance in Romi’s voice left no doubt he was on the right track.

Though he still was not sure why Romi would be upset with Maxwell for being offered the marriage-based business contract by Jeremy Archer.

“I can hardly be held accountable for her father’s actions.” Though he wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of the auspicious conditions Archer had provided, even if not for the opportunities the president of AIH had intended.

Romi crossed her arms, leaning back in a classic pose of annoyance. “Only your willingness to participate in them.”

He took a moment to appreciate the way her stance pressed her small breasts together to create a shadow of tempting cleavage. Everything about her body turned him on. Thin, with modest curves, she was nevertheless one-hundred-percent enticing woman.

“I went to a meeting where Jeremy Archer offered a very lucrative contract and your so-called sister-by-choice held her own very well.” Though he wasn’t prepared to tell Romi how Madison had kept her father in line.

Maxwell had plans for that information. Because he was an opportunistic bastard. Literally and figuratively.

Unless he’d misread Madison Archer, she had not shared her actions with her best friend.

Which created leverage for Maxwell with Romi. She would do anything to prevent her SBC from