Sex slave to an alien culture...
Lt. Auri finds his job aboard the diplomatic cruiser both frustrating and exhausting, but he's determined to prove himself to his new captain. Despite the diplomatic importance of their mission, Auri is wary of the catlike Felinians, who have a reputation for enjoying human company, willing or not. But when he's ordered to witness the signing of the trade papers with the Felininans, Auri never imagines that he's about to be betrayed.
Sold into an alien culture, Auri finds himself the newest man in the Felinian leader's erotic harem. Kanar claims him as his "mate," but Auri longs for freedom. Though his feelings for Kanar begin to grow, Auri stubbornly refuses the Felininan and the other men of his harem, leading to loneliness and grief. But how can he open himself up to his captor, and to the love of more than one partner?
Reader Discretion Advised: Dubious consent
Auri slowed his pace and turned, trying to repress a sigh. He was beginning to regret his promotion. From the moment he had set foot on the ship Hagan Fell, he had been without rest. Had the previous officer left, or died of exhaustion?
He controlled his expression to neutrality and faced his new aide, Fredan, raising one brow questioningly.
The younger man was puffing with exertion, a worried frown pleating his brow. “Captain wants to see you, sir.”
Auri drew a weary breath. “Is he aware I have been on duty for sixteen hours now and would perhaps appreciate eating, perhaps even sleeping?”
The sarcastic comment only made the aide blink, and Auri resisted the urge to tap on his skull and ask if anyone was home. The answer would only have been no. Fredan was the perfect aide—able to listen to orders and pass on messages…and with no mind of his own to complicate things.
Auri sighed. “Fine. I will go see him. See to the incoming supplies in bay eight. Make sure those idiots who call themselves dockmasters do not shortchange us and that Seri and crew know where to put the pallets. Not in the passageway between bays eight and seven, like last time.” He made Fredan repeat the orders, word for word, then watched the aide march off, hopefully to do his bidding. He pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger, trying to forestall the headache that was beginning to get a foothold with his weariness.
Gods…was there a mind on this ship, or did everyone wait for someone else to tell them what to do?
He longed for his old ship, where he had been a mere third lieutenant. There was a ship run well, full of experienced, intelligent people who knew their jobs inside and out. He had been so excited when he got this promotion, so sure it would be exciting and further his military career, and here he was, stuck on a diplomatic cruiser with the possibility of action a million miles away. He strode down the passageways, ignoring the speculative looks he received from those he passed as they saluted him sloppily.
It only made his temper rise, though his face stayed calm and cold. He knew he already had a nickname though he had only been here two weeks. Blade… He shook his head. As names went it was fine, certainly not mocking, but it was meant to indicate his cold, sharp nature. His lips thinned. There would be no friendships here, not that he had ever been particularly good at such things. Still, he had had Tania and Blais before, and they had always been able to still any loneliness he might have felt. He missed them…
He shook himself free from the thoughts almost as they formed. He had no time for loneliness; he had to carve a place for himself here, then maybe…
He raised a hand and rapped sharply on the captain’s door.
Auri entered and came to attention sharply, saluting with crisp efficiency, eyes front and centered on the far wall.
“Relax, Lieutenant. I am not conducting an analysis of your job performance.” The voice was lazily amused.
Auri settled to parade stance, hands clasped behind him, feet apart and steady. “Yes, sir.” His tone held no inflection, no indication that he resented the faint mockery.
A sigh resounded in the quiet office. “For the gods’ sake, sit, Lieutenant. You are giving me a neck ache looking up at you. Stop being so damn formal. We are not like that here.”
Auri sat, meeting the brown eyes of his captain with a blank expression, revealing nothing.
Captain Janred sat back in his chair, observing the young man with a faint frown.
“You are settling in well, I have heard. We are actually getting things done, unlike under Lieutenant Naren…” The tone said much about the absent man, though professionalism prevented much more from being stated. “It is good that you are so efficient, but if you need more assistance, do not hesitate to say so. Another aide perhaps…”
Auri could not stop his brows from rising. “No, thank you, sir,” he responded politely. “Fredan is quite enough.” Unspoken was the thought that if he had another like him, his job would be twice as hard, as he had to check out everything himself to ensure it was done properly.
Janred frowned more deeply. “General Asnar recommended you to me for this job, but he wanted you to be able to have less stress than you endured under his command.”
Auri felt himself tense, his lips thinning. He had not known of this communication between the two men. He had merely thought this position was part of his promotion.
“Was the general concerned that my performance was below par?” His tone was calm, but with a cold edge.
“No, he was glowing in his praise of you, in fact.” Janred did not add that his old friend had mentioned that this particular young man was a favorite of his, someone who had come up through the ranks the old fashioned way—by talent rather than family connections.
Auri relaxed. “Then it is fine, captain. I am not stressed. The General is much too worried about his people. There is no need for concern on your part. I am well capable of doing my job.”
The captain’s brow furrowed. Asnar had felt this young man was heading for a breakdown with his insatiable perfectionism and need for control. Janred could well see it in Auri, but at this point did not know him well enough to devise a plan of action to help him change his uptight behaviors. That could only come with further acquaintance and analysis.
“I have no doubt in your abilities, Lieutenant. Just see that you take the time to care for yourself. I would not have you in sick bay because of overwork.”
Auri raised a brow again, thinking that if Naren had been made to do his job properly, he would not have to be working his butt off to fix past mistakes, but he said nothing, merely nodded in agreement.
Janred shifted topics. “We will be leaving at noon tomorrow, carrying a diplomatic entourage bound for a meeting with the Felinians. It will be a large group, and all arrangements have already been made for extra supplies. They will be arriving tonight, and we must be running and ready for when they arrive. The moment they board, we must be ready to leave.”
Auri stared at him. “I have not prepared the bays…”
“This is fine. They will send people with the supplies, and are experienced enough to know where they must go. They have done this often, Lieutenant.”
Auri chewed his lip unconsciously. “But…” He drew himself up then, chastising himself. One does not sound uncertain. Ever.
“I will ensure that the dock crew is ready to receive any and all shipments, Captain.”
Janred could see the younger man’s tension, and he had to prevent himself from rolling his eyes.
“I know it seems sudden and urgent to you, Lieutenant, but this is exactly how most of our assignments will be. We will not know until the last moment, and utmost secrecy is kept at all times. Once we know of an assignment, no personnel are allowed to enter or leave the ship. We are completely contained from that time until we return and our passengers have left. Security is our main concern.” He smiled then, eyes crinkling. “We have two speeds, Lieutenant. Wait and go. It will be extremely boring in between and extremely tense during the times that we are responsible for the security and success of diplomatic missions and talks.” He waited, but there was no answering smile from the serious younger man, only a thinning of lips as he processed the information and absorbed it.
Janred shook his head. It was going to take more than a break from active fighting to see Auri learn to relax. He would have to speak with Asnar about the Lieutenant’s past.
He waved a hand in dismissal, already turning back to his paperwork. “Get some rest, Lieutenant. Things are going to get very, very busy shortly.”