Variation On The Theme Of Man PDF
What happens when the girl of your dreams is also the man from your waking life?
Federation agent Gabriel Marsh finds himself asking just that question when he’s teamed with Aleksandr Karanov, who’s pretty as a picture and deadly as a cobra. Lexei’s also a variant, a mutant able to change sex at will, something coming in handy on his many assignments. Marsh has some definite adjusting to do where his new partner’s concerned—both morally and emotionally. His association with Lexei is ambivalent at best, prejudicial at worst, and the way he’s beginning to feel about Deirdre, Lexei’s Other Self, doesn’t bear thinking about.
Deirdre is shy and gentle, not the type of woman a ruthless Federation killer should fall for…but that’s exactly what happens.
Sensuality rating: 3
Cover Art by Bev Haynes
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Gabriel Marsh had been in the Blue Eagle an hour before Raine Bayshan showed up.
“Why am I here, Raine?” His immediate superior was the last person he’d expected to see in a dive like this, the Eagle being notorious for its clientèle of walking-the-line Outlanders, particularly those with more than slightly unsavory preferences. “Let me rephrase that. Why here?”
“The Chairman wanted me to point out your new partner to you. She thought you ought to observe him before official introductions were made.”
“Bit of short notice, isn’t it?” Marsh gave a grunt of a laugh. He’d been in the sonic shower when the call came through, had to rush through the entire skin-brushing and air exfoliation, one of the few luxuries he allowed himself. He was still a little peeved about that.
Now he waited until Raine was seated and had spoken to the barmaid. After his boss had a drink in front of him, raised it and took a slow, careful swallow, he asked, “So? Is there a problem?”
“Problem? Not at all.” Raine spoke just casually enough to make Marsh suspicious. “She just wanted you to see him before you actually meet. Unobserved.”
The trouble with Raine was he couldn’t keep his thoughts from showing on his face. That was what kept him out of field work. Marsh knew he was lying just by looking at him. For the moment, he decided to let it go. Though they’d known each other a long time, it wasn’t good policy to accuse one’s supervisor of being untruthful no matter how friendly they were otherwise.
They sat for a while more, making useless and inane chitchat before Marsh gave vent to his impatience. “We’ve been here over an hour. When’s he going to show?”
Before Raine could answer, a sudden commotion came from the entrance. It made itself heard over the blare of music and the clash of conversations, louder voices amid a wave of laughter.
“Maybe that’s our man now,” Raine suggested.
They both looked that way, Marsh staring with disappointment at the young man who entered. Well, that’s definitely not someone I’ll be partnering with. Not that little cherub.
The newcomer was an angel all right. Delicate and blond, he was a Pocket Apollo, looking even smaller and more fragile in comparison to the two blue-spined Andvarians between whom he stood.
“I don’t think so.” Marsh smirked and lifted his drink. “Local celebrity, maybe? Those trogs look like bodyguards.”
“Could be,” Raine’s answer was noncommittal. “Or they may just be friends.”
“Lexei! Lexei!” From a table near the door a clamor of greeting erupted. Someone battered the wood-imitation polyplexicon with his fists, hammering an excited tattoo like a fanfare.
Laughing loudly, the young man raised both arms in a salute. Another man and a young woman left the table, met him halfway and were enveloped in hugs. Lexei kissed the girl with enthusiasm as he slapped her companion on the shoulder.