Naturally Beautiful

Naturally Beautiful
Running Press
January 1, 2013
ISBN-13: 9780762446018
ISBN-10: 0762446013
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Jamie Leigh Hansen
April 10, 2013
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The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance

In print part of the The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance anthology/collection.

Love Will Find A Way

19 Fantastic Future-Set Romances

The good news is, in the future there will be no shortage of romance. On space ships, on newly-colonized planets or on a barely recognizable Earth; life forms, whether human, alien or something in between, will find their way to love.

As giant corporations grasp new opportunities for profit and future armies clash, both in deep space and ‘dirtside’, former romantic partners try to put the past behind them and time-travelling rebels set out to romance the past.

These science fiction stories of future love and lust — by Marcella Burnard, Biana D’Arc, Jess Granger, Linnea Sinclair, C.L. Wilson and many more — are brimming with passion and humour. So, even though in space no one can hear you scream, they might just be able to hear you laugh.

“Naturally Beautiful” by Jamie Leigh Hansen

Two worlds clash when sexy daredevil, Lt. Reid Kincad pulls intriguing scientist, Dr. Jessica Cross, into his arms and jumps from a helijet set to explode, but they can’t rest until they also save her father—and his miracle cure—from dangerously unethical hands.

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Chapter One

Naturally Beautiful

2084 AD, Shailene Mountains

“Remind me why we’re doing this again?” Mike’s usually irritable voice growled in his earpiece.

Kincaid’s lips twitched as he edged himself farther over the edge of the precipice at the top of the mountain. It was a very long fall to the dark depths of the valley below. It would be gorgeous when the sun rose, but for now there was just freezing air and the futile search for a heat signature. “Will you keep whining in my ear if I don’t remind you?”

Mike huffed, the sound carrying easily through the earpiece though he was a good distance away and being otherwise stealthy. “The guy’s an ass who doesn’t deserve our efforts to save him.”

“I wonder if that’s what he would have said last year when his miracle cure saved you.” Kincaid gripped the rocks with his Caldy gloves, thankful for them and the matching sky suit. He could hold on to the edge of this rock all day, immune to the cold and the rocks trying to dig into his suit, if he had to. Not that he wanted to. Where was that damn helijet?

“Last year, hell, that’s basically what he said in the debate last night. What kind of spit-whack regrets curing all disease?”

“I don’t know, but letting him die like a martyr for his cause will send this country up in flames.” Not to mention leave one incredibly sexy daughter to grieve alone. Seeing her green eyes sparkle with sincerity from every screen was addicting. To see them teary and blurred with grief would suck beyond all telling.

No signs of color or heat lay below, but the ones responsible for the coming explosion were professionals. They would explode the helijet and take evidence back to the ones in charge that Dr. Josiah Cross was dead at last. Until then, they were entrenched and Kincaid would see no sign of their presence. Not that he could quit looking for them anyway.

The helijet would enter from his left, winding through the valley in a laughable attempt to not broadcast their presence. But information was rarely secure anymore. Soon after a lock was built, there was a pick to open it. It was the way of the world.

“I hear sound.” Kincaid edged away from the precipice, as the sky lightened from black to gray. When he rose, he’d be targeted. Only the sky suit could protect him, then. It was even better than the old Kevlar suits they’d had to wear. Light weight, durable, temperature controlled. As long as they didn’t throw a mag bomb his way, he’d be fine.

“Got your back, LT.”

“Yep.” They’d worked together too long for Kincaid to doubt it. The helijet hit his sight just as the sky lightened to a dark purple. Here at the top of the mountains, dawn was arriving quick. “Just think, all those questions you have, you can ask in person in five…”

Kincaid rose, glancing at his watch and calculating as the jet flew closer, the bottom propellers not quite silent in the still morning air. “Four…”

Slightly faster than the jet, the sun peaked over the mountains, sending sparks of color to bloom across the landscape. “Three…”

The helijet hit the chosen point of reference and Kincaid ran for the edge of the precipice. “Two…”

With each approaching step, he saw farther down the opposite mountain, the dark trees turning emerald, the wildflowers making an appearance as light splashed across them. His foot hit the last step. “One.”

Kincaid launched into the air, his hands out, his feet together, his long body arching with the pressure of the wind. Straight down, the winding river gleamed a polished silver before his vision went black. Kincaid reached forward and made contact with the jet. His gloves latched onto the smooth surface and he used his arms to guide himself over the side. Once he set his feet and had one hand wrapped around the outside handle, he pulled a retractable tool from his belt, zapped the door-lock, and released it to wind itself back to his belt. Moments later, he slid through the open door and faced the occupants. The pilot, who was safe with his emergency eject options in place. Dr. Josiah Cross, his target. But when Kincaid’s gaze clashed with wide, shocked, green eyes, the mission went to hell.

“Airborne 81, Dr. Cross. This jet will explode in 45 seconds.”

Without hesitation, Dr. Cross pushed his daughter into Kincaid’s arms. “Take her.”

“Father, no–”

Naturally Beautiful

Kincaid held her struggling form just so she wouldn’t push him out of the jet without either of the doctors. “Sir, my orders – ”

“Don’t matter,” Cross snapped. The old man bent forward and grabbed a small case, unlocked his door and glanced at his daughter. “Nothing matters if I lose you, too, Jessica.”

Jessica hesitated, meeting her father’s gaze and Kincaid was finally able to loosen his hold.

“Take this.” Kincaid handed him a foam pellet, pressing it into the old man’s hands. “Don’t let go. You will be guided down.”

“Mike, status Go.” Cross nodded and Kincaid strapped Jessica’s back to his front. She grabbed her purse from the seat and he tried not to roll his eyes at the feminine habit. “Just make sure it’s zipped and tucked very close to your body.”

“Of course.”

They assumed position at the doors. “Nice meeting you, Dr. Cross. See you at the bottom.”

“I love you, daddy.”

The old man nodded at them both, a strange glint in his eye, then they jumped. Kincaid held Jessica’s ankles together with his, falling with his back towards the ground. Above them, the jet disappeared, farther away in just seconds. The pilot wouldn’t have long to eject, but he needed to get the jet away from them before he did. Kincaid curved his body around her and guided them into position, their gazes now pointed at the swiftly approaching ground. Jessica gripped his forearms against her chest, her fingernails hitting right at the split between his suit and his gloves. At least she wasn’t screaming.

Kincaid released his wings, long, thin blades sewn into the back of his suit and magnetically controlled by his gloves. “Mike?”

“Got him in 2…”

Slowed now, with his wings deployed, Kincaid looked to his right and slightly down to see Dr. Cross become enveloped in a sphere of foam. Those tiny pellets had saved his life more than once, though the foam they produced disintegrated quickly when deployed in the air. The doc would have only a few minutes before he had to land.

“One.” Mike latched on to the top of the sphere, deploying his own wings almost immediately.

Kincaid’s arms moved with the inhale of air his passenger finally took. The good doc wasn’t completely safe yet, though. “Got him?”

“All good.”

“Split in three.”

“Two,” Mike’s voice came back.

“One,” They said together, arching to opposite sides of the river. If the attackers needed proof of Dr. Cross’s death, they would have to split their own forces to figure out which of them had the old man. Hopefully. Every mission was planned with contingencies for anything that might go wrong, but no one could plan for absolutely everything.

Like the forceful wave of heat that washed over them as the helijet exploded.

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