Defending Bridget - P.J. Fiala


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Chapter 1

Taking the electronic tablet the driver handed her, Bridget tapped the "Tip" icon, added a generous amount to the total, signed her name, and handed it back.

"Thank you," she said as she opened her door.

Traveling light, as this was a day trip, she had no luggage. She walked up to the beautiful, older, brick building on the outskirts of Lynyrd Station, Daggert Winery and Restaurant, and the heavy, oak doors with old iron handles opened before she reached them.

Blinking in surprise, she stepped into the entryway which boasted stone walls, stone floors, and substantial, wooden furniture with studded accents. Decorations on the long side tables featured candlestick lamps with ornate shades, metal bowls with engraved wooden balls and a candelabra or two situated on the corners.

It was all she could do not to murmur, "Wow."

"May I take your jacket, ma'am?"

She was flustered that she hadn't seen the man wearing black dress slacks, a crisp white shirt, and black vest with a black bow tie standing tall and straight as he waited for her to answer.

"Of course, thank you."

He helped her remove her jacket, folded it neatly over his arm, and asked, "Are you here for the Vickers’ baby shower?"

"Yes, I am."

This all seemed so unlike Sophie, at least the Sophie she knew in their Army days. But she'd heard that she'd married into money, though she'd never have guessed this much. Then again, you never knew about anyone, right?

Suddenly feeling self-conscious and maybe underdressed, she looked down at her sleek, gray trousers and her soft, gray and white floral blouse and hoped she didn't stand out - in a bad way.

The waiter, or supervisor, or whoever, bowed slightly from the waist. "Please follow me."

He turned and she followed him into a room off to the left. The first thing she noticed was a wall of windows that looked out onto expansive gardens alive with varying flowers of every color, shape, and size. A tall wooden covered bridge graced the back of the property. The whole scene was picturesque and breathtaking.

A baby grand piano stood in a corner close, but not too close, to a tall stone fireplace. High above was a narrow wooden mantle and on top of that lay a bobcat which looked as if it were watching her. She stared for a few moments and realized it was a real cat, though no longer alive, but an expert taxidermist had beautifully preserved it.

"There you are."

She turned to see Sophie still as gorgeous as ever, maybe even more so, with her full rounded belly, glistening, long, dark hair and shiny brown eyes. Her smile said it all, this woman was happy.

"Oh. my God, Sophie you are simply glowing."

Sophie wrapped her in a warm embrace, and she reveled in holding her friend close. A slight thumping against her had her pulling away and she looked down at Sophie's baby belly.

"I just got kicked."

"You did." Sophie laughed. "She must not like all the activity today. She’s been kicking up a storm."

"It's a girl? I thought you weren't going to find out before you had him or her?"

"I don't know for sure, but I enjoy calling her a her because Gaige would really like a boy and it gets him flustered. He said he wouldn’t know what to do with a girl."

Bridget laughed. "He has nieces, he should know a bit anyway."

Sophie giggled, nodded and lay her hand on her belly.

"Wow, I'm so stunned, Sophie. You look...content and so beautiful. Pregnancy agrees with you.”

"Oh my God, I'm so happy, Bridget. I can't even put it into words how elated I am. Marriage agrees with me. My job agrees with me and this,..." She lovingly smoothed her hands over her baby bump. "This definitely agrees with me."

Unable to resist, she pulled Sophie in for another hug as close as she could get and held on tight.

"I'm so sorry I couldn't make the wedding, but Aidyn was sick. I can't leave when he's not feeling well. He had a flu bug that lasted only a couple of days, then he was as good as new."

"How is Aidyn? What fun new things is he into these days?"

"He’s great. He’s growing up so fast. Lately he’s into dinosaurs."

"That's fantastic. I hope you brought tons of pictures."

Laughing, she said, "You know I did."

Bridget pulled her phone from her purse, scrolled, tapped, and looked at the face of