Moonsteed by Manda Benson
She killed a man who deserved life, and let live a man who deserved death…
Zeta Verity killed a man who deserved to live, and let a man live who deserved death. Now she has a limited amount of time to stop him and bring justice to Callisto.
Born to excel but living in the shadow of her auspicious ancestors, Zeta is posted to the newly terraformed Callisto to work with specially bred horses. Killing a spy in possession of stolen data is just another day’s work. She’s not impressed by timid and scholarly Vladimir Bolokhovski, who arrives at the research base with a beautiful stallion he has genetically engineered. But when Zeta’s superiors start disappearing and an arrest warrant is issued on her for spying, she discovers the man she killed is not what he appeared.
Once Verity discovers they’re all part of some twisted game, she needs the help of both Vladimir and the dead spy to find and stop the mastermind behind it all.
WARNING: Contains horses having sex with horses, humans having sex with humans, and a ménage a trois between a man, a woman, and the ghost in the machine.
A Lyrical Press Science Fiction Romance
ISBN: 9781616502751 | Length: 61,000 words | Ebook Page Count: 165 | Publication Date: May 16, 2011
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Copyright 2011, Manda Benson
All rights reserved, Lyrical Press, Inc.
A bad atmosphere that Verity couldn’t pin down permeated the stables. When she went to a horse and synced to it, she sensed something ugly in its temperament. “Oh, be calm,” she thought, putting her hand to its neck to soothe it as it threw its head up, rolling its eyes and flicking its tail. She sent the thought-prompt to the horse’s monitoring system for a status report on its condition. When the report came back, something was out of order–something she’d never seen on the feedbacks of any of the horses here. It took a few seconds for her to work it out. The horse had come into estrus.
Damn. Verity closed the stall door. Vladimir, where was Vladimir? The ANT said he was in his quarters, but when she tried to message him there was a DND warning on his interface. Stupid man. As Verity calculated from the ANT’s information where Vladimir’s quarters were and what was the best route, the stallion put his head over his stall door, broadcasting lust and frustration. He strained his neck toward the ovulating mare’s stall, pulled his upper lip back over his teeth and sucked in a draught of air.
“Yes, all right!” said Verity to him, angry. “You can have your evil way with her when I find Vladimir!” She ran back into the main corridor and made her way to the lower floor and the room the ANT told her Vladimir lived in. She pounded on the door with her fist. “Vladimir!”
The door opened after a moment. “Verity, I’m trying to work.” Vladimir’s hair stuck up all around his head, his glasses propped up on his forehead and the top three buttons of his shirt unfastened.
Verity found herself staring at the gap in his shirt, annoyance and disapproval mingling with something else. “You look more like you’ve been asleep! And this is your work. A mare’s in estrus!”
“Damn! I’m sorry.” Vladimir hurried into the corridor, doing up his shirt as he went. “You should have told me.”
“I did tell you! If you hadn’t told the ANT you were DND, you would have heard!”
“Sorry,” said Vladimir.
Verity turned to face to him, taking hopping quicksteps backward as she spoke. “Stop saying sorry. Just don’t do it again!”
The stallion whinnied as they came through the stable block door. Vladimir’s eyes grew wide.
“Wait here,” Verity told him. “I’ll take the mare out to the corral first, and then we’ll come back for him.”
Verity re-synced herself and put the head collar on the mare. She wouldn’t need any shoes for this. The horse pulled on the halter and swayed from side to side as Verity led her out, and she was nothing like the gentle, reasonable beast Verity knew her as. Verity brought her not to the doors that led to outside, but down another corridor and to the corral, a large circular room fitted with a mesh floor planted with hydroponic grass and a transparent dome for a ceiling. This room was an experiment, but they often put the horses in here, only one at any time, if they were off-color, and it would have to do for a stud room.