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At His Command

Cover of At His Command

At His Command

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Six years after her brother's death in an F-18 fighter jet crash, Lieutenant Ambrosia ("Sia") Soto must investigate another pilot fatality aboard the U.S.S. James McCloud. A routine training mission claimed the life of a senator's son, and Sia must shelve her family demons to find answers. There's just one hitch. Leading her on the investigation is NCIS agent Chris Vargas: her former lover and the man she blames for her brother's death.

Can Sia bury old feelings for Vargas and overcome the past? And is there someone aboard the McCloud who knows more about these pilot "accidents" than they're letting on? Sia has more questions than answers, and what she uncovers will rewrite history as she once knew it.


Six years after her brother's death in an F-18 fighter jet crash, Lieutenant Ambrosia ("Sia") Soto must investigate another pilot fatality aboard the U.S.S. James McCloud. A routine training mission claimed the life of a senator's son, and Sia must shelve her family demons to find answers. There's just one hitch. Leading her on the investigation is NCIS agent Chris Vargas: her former lover and the man she blames for her brother's death.

Can Sia bury old feelings for Vargas and overcome the past? And is there someone aboard the McCloud who knows more about these pilot "accidents" than they're letting on? Sia has more questions than answers, and what she uncovers will rewrite history as she once knew it.
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    "Aren't you Rafael Soto's sister?"

    Sia bristled. She had been his sister, but now she was Lieutenant Commander Ambrosia Soto, U.S. Navy JAG. Most of her friends called her Sia, but she didn't think Master Chief Steven Walker was acting at all friendly toward her right now.

    He was her number-one suspect in the death of a decorated F/A-18 pilot whose body had been recovered from the bottom of the Pacific, and the man had gone from helpful to belligerent as soon as he discovered who she was. A Navy JAG lawyer often had that effect on guilty people.

    The tone of the man's voice said he wasn't a fan of her brother, but highly trained and aggressive fighter pilots were often considered elite jerks by the enlisted.

    Ending up on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific was a common occurrence for a JAG officer. She'd been to many places around the globe, handling all types of legal issues and investigations. She took this assignment in stride. She had been on temporary assignment duty, or TAD, investigating another case in San Diego when she'd been ordered to handle this investigation aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. James McCloud-- her brother's last billet. "You can address me as Commander Soto or ma'am."

    "But you're his sister, right?"

    "Master Chief, are you not getting my drift? I'm here to ask the questions, not answer them." She flipped open his file and glanced down. The picture and material were all neatly maintained. She looked up at him and narrowed her eyes. "This investigation is about Lieutenant Malcolm Saunders, who lost his life yesterday when his F/A-18 Super Hornet plunged into the sea. It's not social hour."

    Her sharp words seemed to glance off him. "Yeah, you'd know about fighter jet accidents, wouldn't you?"

    She shot him a cold look and a smoldering fury burned beneath her skin. She maintained eye contact with his direct ones with a relentless stare, as if doing so would give her an insight into his soul. She was rewarded as he looked away, but before he did, she saw a challenge and the unmistakable look of a liar. Her scalp prickled and the hair on the back of her neck stood up. She always got that feeling when someone was hiding something. Almost like a sixth sense.

    She picked up his folder and studied the man's service record, looking for any inconsistencies. "We both know you didn't get to your rank by being uncooperative, Master Chief." At her statement, he sat up straighter. "In fact, you have a spotless service record. The Navy is your life and you've given to it unconditionally."

    For a moment, deep regret filled his eyes, but when he blinked they were once again neutral. "I have, sometimes to the detriment of all else."

    "And the Navy has given back. You head up Maintenance Material Control."

    "Yes."

    "Maintenance is the heart of this carrier. Your division is responsible for repairing aircraft and related support equipment."

    "Yes."

    "One of the branches you oversee is the avionics division?"

    "I do."

    "Were there any problems with any part of the systems your people maintain?" She set the file down and closed it.

    For a moment, the master chief sat in silence, but she could see something she said had caused him concern. But his next words were contrary to the worry he tried to hide. "No. That plane was in tip-top condition."

    She lifted her brows and tilted her head. "Yet the pilot and the plane ended up at the bottom of the ocean. How do you explain...

About the Author-
  • Karen Anders is a three-time National Readers' Choice Award finalist and RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice finalist, and has won the prestigious Holt Medallion. Two of her novels made the Waldenbooks bestseller list in 2003. Published since 1997, she currently writes romantic suspense for Harlequin. To contact the author, please write to her in care of Harlequin Books, 233 Broadway Suite 1001, New York, NY 10279, or visit www.karenanders.com.

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