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A SEAL's Vigilant Heart (Midnight Delta #8)

By´╝ÜCaitlyn O'Leary

"Then allow me. Ashley is so much better off now she dumped my father. But I worry about her," Sophia said as they reached the bottom of the stairs and turned towards the fitting rooms.

"What do you mean? Why do you worry about her?"

"She's acting out a lot."

"You mean pretending to have sold wedding dresses?"

"Oh no, that's minor. She's been serial dating and almost reverting to teenager behavior. It's like she wants to do everything she can to erase the time she was subjugated by my father."

"How is it impacting your little sister?"

"When she's with her, she's a great mom. But Louisa is spending a lot of time with her grandparents. Dad was such an asshole. He ruined a lot of people's lives."

"There's no way Louisa will end up with your father, will she?"

"God no! Mr. Richmond, Ashley's dad, has Louisa protected every which way. He's amazing. I'm thankful dad won't have anything to do with raising her."

"From everything you've told me about your father, I agree. I think even though he's Louisa's daddy, she's better off without him."

"Billy and I would have been better off without him, that's for sure," Sophia said. She suddenly smiled. "Lydia, it's the first time I said it without being bitter. I think I've finally put the past in the past. God, I love Mason."

"What does Mason have to do with it?" Lydia was confused with the abrupt change of topic.

"He's helped me so much to get past my bitterness. He's helped me, in so many ways."

"Boy, do I hear that. Those SEAL boys are amazing. Don't tell Clint, because I don't want him to get a swelled head, but he's been my rock." Lydia's expression was dreamy as she thought about her fiancé, Clint Archer.

"We are pretty lucky, aren't we?"

"We are." Lydia gave Sophia a hug.

"Hello? Are you Sophia Anderson?" A woman with a thick German accent asked.

"Yes, that's me."

"I'm Betta, and I have your dress ready to try on."

The woman held open the curtain to the dressing room, and Sophia went inside. Lydia gave her a wink and a thumbs-up.

Betta helped Sophia into the dress, but it wasn't until she was totally cinched in that she was allowed to turn around and look in the mirror. She gasped. The lace and beaded corset bared her shoulders and flowed into a silk skirt.

"What? Are you all right, Sophia?" Lydia asked from outside the room. "Can I come in?"

Betta opened the curtain.

"Oh my. Oh my. Sophia, you look stunning. There couldn't be a dress any more perfect for you. You look like a glamorous movie star from a bygone era."

Sophia bit her thumb. Was that a good thing?

"You look like a fucking pin-up girl. Mason is going to lose his shit," Ashley said. "My God, who in the hell helped pick this out? They should have earned a double commission."

"Where did you come from?" Lydia asked.

"The saleslady made us come downstairs when Ashley tried to help one of her other customers," Rebecca said as she giggled.

Sophia smiled at the woman who ended up becoming a good friend, despite the fact she'd had the bad sense to marry Sophia's father.

"Margie and Frannie came with me to pick out the dress," Sophia told Ashley in answer to her question.

"I knew I liked them," Ashley said with a bright smile.

"Oh my God, can they come help pick out my dress?" Beth asked.

"Your bridesmaid dress?" Sophia asked in confusion. "But I like the one you're wearing." She looked at the three different styles of navy dresses each girl was wearing and they each looked great.

"No, not the bridesmaid dress. My wedding dress. I would love to look half as good as you." Sophia looked at the beautiful Hispanic girl in disbelief. Before she could protest, Lydia gave her 'the hand', demanding her silence.

"Beth's right. You look too good for words, Sophia. I can't wait to see Mason's face when you walk down the aisle."

Sophia looked in the mirror. Really looked at herself, and finally breathed a sigh of satisfaction. She did look good.

"You really do, Sophia," Rebecca agreed shyly.

Sophia blushed when she realized she'd spoken her thoughts out loud. She smoothed her hands over the mermaid-style satin dress and grinned. Lydia came up from behind her and gave her a hug. She whispered in her ear. "That SEAL won't know what hit him."

Sophia looked at her wedding dress and an overwhelming wave of sadness washed over her. It hit her from out of the clear blue sky. Her mother should have been here for this. As a child, she used to draw pictures of wedding dresses and show her mother. It had been a fun thing between the two of them, and now her mom wasn't here to see the dress she had actually chosen. Why aren't you here, Mom?

"Oh Sophia, they did a marvelous job," Frannie's voice boomed throughout the downstairs area. Sophia saw Frannie and Margie come up behind her in the mirror and was delighted to see they were in stylish dresses that flattered their respective figures.

"Why did they send you downstairs? Were you misbehaving too?" Ashley asked.

"Frannie always misbehaves," Margie answered. "But this time, we demanded to see Sophia. We wanted to see her final fitting. You look gorgeous, Sophia."

"Margie, get me a tissue. I'm going to cry." Margie found a fast food napkin in her purse and handed it to Frannie.

"All of you look so beautiful. This wedding is going to be spectacular," Margie said with a wide smile.

"She's right. Rebecca, you look lovely," Sophia enthused. "Billy won't know what hit him."

"Really? Are you sure this is within the budget? It seems like a lot." The girl eyed the price tag on her dress.

Five voices rang out assuring her the dress was well within the budget of the wedding, and Sophia loved her friends for it. Rebecca was a foster child and always worried about things, even though she now had a foster mother who would easily purchase the dress for her. Rebecca was still very consci