Usama sulked, burrowing deeper into his bunk when the echo of Asad's roar shook the ship. "Well, someone is getting off. It looks like I'm the only one who isn't getting any right this minute," he grumbled.
Instantly contrite, he thought of Catan. He shouldn't be upset that his best friend had found love. What the man had gone through had been horrible.
Shuddering to get rid of the memories, Usama curled up on his side. He felt a soft spot for the little Lynx. He understood him in some way. It seemed weird that he would find his best friend in a Lynx. Usama was one of the Ruling Leos. The elite of the Felidae. They weren't supposed to mix outside of their clan but his family had always been different from other Leos. Just look at his older brothers. One had mated with a human and the other with a Lynx. Unheard of.
He was so incredibly happy that his brother had found love with Catan. Asad might be his brother, but the way he looked at Catan made Usama so jealous sometimes. He wanted someone to look at him that way. The way Asad cared for Catan was what he wanted. He wanted to be watched and loved like that.
He knew his friend wasn't even aware of how Asad looked after him. If Catan knew the reason he so often got the easy shifts was because Asad pleaded with Laithe, the Lynx would probably be angry at the interference. Usama knew he wouldn't be angry at getting that kind of attention.
Right now though, Usama was in need of an entirely different kind of attention. Ever since Laithe, his pride leader, had found his mate, the pheromones on the warship Shahnaz were literally dancing in the air. Usama had recently discovered the pleasures that could be had with another being, and he was dying for more.
Usama stretched his body, his thoughts turning to Rajiv Citrakaya. The large Tigris outweighed the Gatti brothers by over a hundred pounds, stretching up to surpass seven and a half feet in height. The Tigris clan was the largest species among the Felidae, and if they weren't so solitary, they would be formidable threats against the Leo rulers. It was a good thing the Tigris never wanted to rule the Felidae; they just wanted to be left alone. Which was why it was so weird that Rajiv stayed with them.
The only Tigris who associated with others--of his own kind or outside of it--Rajiv was different. Oh, not that he actually associated with them, most of the time he still kept to himself. But Usama had never understood why Rajiv chose to stay with his brother.
Hmmm, he definitely needed a distraction. Maybe it was time to find out exactly why the Tigris stayed with them. Nearly bouncing in his excitement, Usama left his room to move toward Rajiv's quarters. Before the end of this night, his curiosity would be appeased. He just knew it.
Although ... the few times he and Rajiv had been together intimately, the furthest thing from their minds was talking. He couldn't stay away from the man. He was drawn to him. To the way Rajiv made him feel.
Besides, Rajiv had saved his life recently and if that didn't create a bond, he didn't know what did. Years ago, the pride had rescued Catan after he had been brutally attacked. The small Lynx's attackers had been a rival pride patrolling the skies, one that didn't like the other clans among the Felidae. Laithe had responded to a distress call from Kanad, the planet where the Lynx made their home, but they had been too late to save Catan's family. The smaller man was the only survivor and he had been with them ever since.
They had all grown to become a family since then. Now, with Laithe's mate Rowan in the pride, they were complete. He hadn't been sure about her when he first met her, but he had grown to love her in the past few weeks. Unbelievable to think that he'd never even heard of her before then, and now he couldn't think of his life without the hairless human in it. He never would have thought that his older brother would find his mate, not to mention the fact that she wasn't even a Felidae, but another species entirely.
He had been out walking with her and Catan when they'd been attacked. When the men who'd hurt Catan before had shown up to take him again, Usama had tried to fight them off. He knew he wasn't strong enough. He knew going into it he would lose. Shyam was a fierce fighter, and he was used to taking what he wanted.
Usama didn't fight. His brothers had always protected him. He didn't have any other choice though. He had to save his friend. He was lucky Rajiv had entered the clearing, rescuing him in the nick of time. Killing the man who had attacked him.
He winced at the reminder of that fight. Most of his bruises were gone, the cuts and scrapes were still slowly fading, but it was his arm that continued to pain him. Held tight to his chest with a bandage, the broken appendage would take time to mend. He was lucky it was the worst that had happened to him.
Looking up, he realized he had reached Rajiv's room without noticing. Usama stood outside the door, debating with himself whether he should interrupt the man or not. Now that he was here, he realized his nerve was deserting him. About ready to turn around and slink back to his quarters, he was startled when the door slid open in front of him.
"Are you going to stand there all day, or did you want something?" Rajiv growled.
"Well, umm, actually, I, ah..."
Rajiv grunted, reaching out to grab Usama by the shoulders and drag him into his quarters. Usama stumbled when he was released, catching himself on the side of the bed in front of him with his good arm.
"What are you doing here?" Rajiv asked, folding his arms across his impressive chest.
Usama looked upward, following the path of Rajiv's arms up and over his shoulders to focus on his face. He was such a gorgeous man. Taller than the rest of them, his short fur was a brilliant reddish-orange with strong, black slashes covering his body, wrapping around his sides and up and over his face. His belly was the only thing on him without stripes, a stunning white that contrasted with the rest of his fur. Rajiv towered over him--silent and unmoving except for the slow slide of his tail as it moved up to caress one thigh.
Usama couldn't breathe while he watched that tail. He had never considered Rajiv in any sexual way before the Tigris had approached him when Rowan arrived. Actually, that was a lie. He had always looked at him, he just never thought he would ever get the chance to act on it. Now he knew exactly what the powerful Tigris could do, and he couldn't get the thought out of his mind. Rajiv leisurely uncurled his arms, standing straighter while he sniffed the air in front of him.
"What do you want? Do you wish to be taken again?" he purred, stalking forward to stand directly in front of Usama.