**NOTE: This book was originally published at Nero's Protection under a different pen name. There have been no significant changes.**
Heat Rising is an erotic sci-fi short with an HEA. It's only about 13k (yes, on purpose) but if you're looking for a quick, sexy read, you can pick it up for just 99 cents, or free with Kindle Unlimited!
City of Hope
From the moment the raven-haired beauty stepped into his office, Director Raxcor Wyeth knew he had to have her. The more she challenges him, the more he wants her, but lately, something has changed. She’s distracted, guarded, and when she requests a transfer to a different level of the city, he knows he’ll do anything to keep her, anything to protect her. Mesa might be human, but she belongs to him—whether she realizes it yet or not.
Throwing back her white blanket, she sat up on the side of the minimalistic bed—a cot with a mattress that resembled a long couch cushion—and stretched. Catching a glimpse of herself in the vertical mirror on the opposite wall, she rubbed the goose bumps on her upper arms and snorted when she noticed her nipples tenting the thin, white fabric of her tank top.
Everything in the fucking city was white. Her sheets, her clothes, the walls, the floors, the furniture. Even her skin had become milky pale from the lack of sunlight, creating a somewhat gothic contrast to her raven hair. She missed colors, variety. Everything within Hope was the same, right down to the daily routine.
Pushing to her feet, Mesa stood beside her cot and rubbed her left wrist, fingering the raised scar where she’d been injected with an Aleucian MINT chip. The Monitoring and Identification Neurological Transmitter acted as an ID, allowing her to make purchases and access certain locations with nothing more than waving her hand over a scanner. The chip also transmitted her vital signs and location to a specialized network that permitted the guards to monitor her every move twenty-four hours a day.
The Aleucians had first made contact with Earth in the late twenty-third century. As a race of warrior beings with long fangs and ethereal, sapphire blue eyes, most humans had feared these massive aliens at first. The males stood well over six feet tall, most reaching closer to seven feet, and even the females towered over many of the humans.
In time, however, the Aleucians had proven to be great allies to Earth, despite their intimidating size. Unfortunately, their continued presence on the planet soon attracted other visitors from across the galaxies, and not all came in peace.
By the end of the century, only a fraction of the population remained, and Earth had been reduced to nothing more than a barren wasteland. The Aleucians offered refuge and safe passage to their homeworld, and as their own planet died, humans had no choice but to accept their generosity.
Still, survival came at a cost.
The arid surface of Aleucia reached deadly temperatures during the daytime hours, and its thinner atmosphere meant the sun produced third-degree burns in humans within a matter of minutes. The nights, on the other hand, turned bitterly cold, well below freezing, with brutal, arctic winds.
While covered in thin, transparent scales that protected them from severe temperature changes on their homeworld, the Aleucians quickly realized the environment would be uninhabitable by what remained of the human race. In response, they’d built a vast, underground city that reached seventeen levels and nearly two miles below the planet’s surface.
They provided safety, stability…survival. But their hospitality extended only so far. Having witnessed Earthlings’ penchant for violence and destruction, their hosts offered sanctuary with one important condition—all humans would be chipped and monitored, no exceptions.
Sighing, Mesa slapped her palm against the button over the bed, flipping the mattress back into its hiding place in the wall. Then she pulled her hair into a high ponytail as she toggled the switch beside the mirror with her elbow, activating the revolving closet. The mirror, sink, and vanity disappeared, lowering into the floor to make room for a single rack of clothing to descend from the ceiling.
Carefully, she removed a peasant blouse with long sleeves and a pair of flowing pants—both in white—from their hangers and spread them over the circular leather chair in the corner. Rubbing her hands over her face, she yawned widely and flipped the switch on the wall again, lowering the vanity so she could begin preparing for her day.
Every adult human had been assigned a job within the city based on their age, knowledge, and experience. After a short probationary period, they could request a reassignment, but since everyone received the same pay regardless of their position, few actually did. For reasons she didn’t understand, Mesa had been selected by Director Raxcor Wyeth to be his personal assistant. She loved what she did, and she couldn’t imagine working anywhere else in the city.
Of course, it hadn’t been her life’s dream to schedule appointments, bring coffee, or keep a stubborn male on task. Her love of being the personal assistant to the director of Hope had little to do with her duties, and everything to do with the man himself. While the Aleucians offered refuge for her race, many of them viewed humans as pets, kind to them, but with an undertone of superiority.
Not Raxcor. Not with her anyway. Like all Aleucians, he valued order and efficiency. They were bred for it, after all. Evolution had hardwired their brains to translate and understand languages after only one encounter. They spoke telepathically, finding the time it took to speak aloud to be unproductive and wasteful. Idleness was not tolerated, and questions were considered a sign of a weak mind.
Raxcor never treated her that way, though. He took the time to answer her questions, to explain things about his world, his race, and everything in between. He truly seemed to care about her opinions, often seeking her counsel on matters relating to humans, and more importantly, he listened…really listened. In his own way, he treated her with respect and gentleness, possibly even a modicum of affection, that was absent from most other Aleucians. Seeing him every day was the best part of living in Hope, and the only truly bright spot in the underground city.
Today would be different, though. Today, everything would change.