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Authors: Catherine Mann

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Guardian

BOOK: Guardian
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Praise for

Catherine Mann and the Dark Ops novels

“Catherine Mann weaves deep emotion with intense suspense for an all-night read.”

—Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1
New York Times
bestselling author

“Catherine Mann’s picture should be in the dictionary next to ‘superb.’ Military romance fans rejoice!”

—Suzanne Brockmann,
New York Times
bestselling author

“A brilliant…adventure woven with gripping emotion.”

—Dianna Love,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Heart-pounding.”


Booklist

“As gripping in its suspense as it is touching in its emotional pull.”


Romance Junkies

“Nonstop action, nail-biting suspense, and heart-stopping romance.”


The Romance Studio

“A terrific tale!”


Genre Go Round Reviews

“Not only riveting but also movingly profound…Will captivate your imagination.”


Cataromance Reviews

“I loved all of Ms. Mann’s Dark Ops books and highly recommend that you check them out.”


TwoLips Reviews

“Entertaining, pleasurable, and suspenseful. One can’t help falling in love with the characters. A great read!”


Fresh Fiction

“Terrific romantic suspense that never slows down…An action-packed story line.”


Midwest Book Review

Berkley Sensation Titles by Catherine Mann

Dark Ops Novels

DEFENDER

HOTSHOT

RENEGADE

PROTECTOR

GUARDIAN

G
UARDIAN

C
ATHERINE
M
ANN

BERKLEY SENSATION, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

GUARDIAN

A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / September 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Catherine Mann.

Excerpt from
Protector
by Catherine Mann copyright © 2012 by Catherine Mann.

Cover art by Dan O’Leary.

Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58147-6

BERKLEY SENSATION®

Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY SENSATION® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10    9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

To Joseph. Welcome to the family. Love you, son!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

As a longtime fan of the TV show
JAG
, I have always dreamed of penning a book about a female military lawyer. I’m thrilled to say
Guardian
offered me the right vehicle for just such a character. Once Sophie stepped up to question her witness, aviator David “Ice” Berg, the story took wings!

Many, many thanks to my editor, Wendy McCurdy, for her fabulous insights. I’m eternally grateful to my longtime agent Barbara Collins Rosenberg. As always, I count myself blessed to have the best critique partner in the world, Joanne Rock. Writing is for the most part a solitary job, and I know I’m a lucky author to have such a stellar support network!

Last, but never least, thank you to my four quirky, amazing, utterly lovable children—Brice, Haley, Robbie, and Maggie. (See, Brice and Haley, I finally named characters after you!) And to my air-force-hero hubby, who surprised me with chocolate-covered strawberries as I struggled to meet my deadline. I love you!

Table of Contents

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Epilogue

Protector

O
NE

NELLIS AFB, NEVADA

Major Sophie Campbell had wanted to be a JAG since she lost her father in elementary school. That didn’t mean she always enjoyed her job.

Today, she downright hated it.

But come hell or high water, she would get some useful nuggets of information out of the witness for the defense—cocky aviator David “Ice” Berg.

“Major Berg, you are aware that the fire control officer on your test team, a man under your command, made a serious error firing from an AC-130 aircraft into a private citizen’s home?”

“Ma’am, I’ve seen the tapes from the test flight,” Berg drawled, his South Carolina roots coating each word. “It’s tough to miss the flames. But Captain Tate didn’t screw up.”

Of all the test directors to be in charge of this particular mission, why did it have to be Berg? Sexy as hell, with
a sense of humor and unflappable calm, he managed to charm his way through life.

Not today.

“Let me rephrase the question.” Sophie flipped through the pages of her legal pad.

Stalling.

She didn’t actually need further information. She needed to decide the best tact for extracting crucial evidence from the rock-headed aviator occupying the witness stand for the past two hours. Based on prior encounters with stubborn Major David Berg, Sophie prepared herself for a protracted battle.

“Major Berg,” she pressed, dropping her paper on the walnut table in the military courtroom, “in the month leading up to the incident, your team was under incredible pressure to complete testing on the gun mount system on the AC-130—the attack modified version of the C-130. You were being pushed to finish ahead of schedule so the upgraded system could be used in combat.”

“Objection!” Counsel for the defense leapt to his feet. “Is there a question?”

“Sustained,” the judge, Colonel Christensen, monotoned. “Get to the point, please, Major Campbell.”

“Yes, sir.” She nodded.

Berg didn’t so much as blink. He’d earned his call sign “Ice” honestly. The man truly was an iceberg under pressure, and today’s stakes were high. Damn high. In order for a child to get justice, a young captain with a spotless record would have his life and career ruined with a court-martial conviction.

This case sucked on a lot of levels.

“I’ll rephrase.” A simple twist in wording would get the question before the witness and hopefully cast doubt
in the jurors’ minds. “Are you certain Captain Tate didn’t cut corners on crew rest before the mission in question?”

Berg quirked a dark, lazy brow. “Asked and answered in my initial deposition. I am certain.”

Sure, she was pushing the edge of the envelope with badgering a witness, but her options had dwindled in the past couple of hours. She needed to win this case. Too many people counted on her. Primarily, the child injured in the military testing accident. But also, her own child, who was dependent solely on her.

BOOK: Guardian
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