Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Seventy Six Part Two

A/N: Here is part two of this chapter, as promised. This is probably one of my most favorite chapters that I’ve ever written. I would really, really love to know what you think :) Enjoy!


Alex spent a lot of time in the first couple days at her parent’s house sleeping, and no one in the house could blame her one bit. She was physically and mentally exhausted and she needed it.

While she rested, Harry helped Emma with the school work she’d been sent over to make up for the time she was missing or, when it wasn’t raining, spent time with his daughter outside, walking the fields and footpaths that surrounded the new Emerson family home. He liked it out there with Alex’s parents; he had always felt at home with them, but having them in England was even more wonderful. And Emma was thrilled to be able to spend so much time with them as well.

On the third day, Alex seemed to be a little more present. She rose in the morning early, climbing out of the bed and into the shower before Harry did. When he woke, she was dressing, pulling on jeans and a long sleeved blouse. Her face was free of make-up and she’d left her hair down to air dry in soft waves down her back. Though she looked a bit thinner than usual, it appeared that a bit of color was in her cheeks.

“Good morning,” he murmured, watching as she turned her gaze to where he still laid in the bed.

“Morning,” she responded, giving him a small smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I’m sorry. I was trying to be quiet.”

“It’s alright,” he shook his head as he sat up and pushed off the covers. “No need to apologize. If you wait a few minutes, I’ll shower and dress and go down with you.”

“No, it’s okay,” she shook her head and took a step towards the door. “I’m going to go help mom make breakfast. Take your time. I’ll see you down there.”

“Alex?” His head tipped to the side as he watched her.


“You’ll tell me if you need to talk about anything, right?”

He didn’t miss the shuttered look that flashed in her eyes for a just a moment before she pulled another small smile and nodded. “Of course.”

“Okay,” Harry said, offering a smile in return. It wasn’t a surprise to him in any way that she was struggling; he’d expected that. He would have been worried if she wasn’t. But he could tell that she didn’t want to talk about it, and that worried him a little bit. Alex had always been so open with him and lord knows she’d been the one to push him to be more open and communicative with her over the course of their relationship. Still, he wasn’t going to push her to talk. Not yet. “I’ll see you downstairs then.”

“Okay,” she nodded, shifting on her feet slightly before she turned and pulled to door open, slipping from the room.

Harry took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair before he stood from the bed and headed towards the bathroom. He’d shower, they’d eat breakfast, and hopefully at some point during the day he’d be able to get a little bit more out of her.


Harry paused in the doorway of the kitchen, his eyes falling on Alex where she stood at the sink. She was washing the dishes from breakfast; her actions slow and methodic. She seemed to be almost intent on getting every single speck from every sink dish before loading it in the dishwasher.

He took a breath and stepped away from the doorway, moving towards her, wanting to let her know that if she wanted to rest, he’d be more than happy to take over and finish up. His stepped up to her and his hands fell to her shoulders and she immediately gasped and jumped, completely startled by his presence in the room and his hands on her. The plate she’d been holding slipped right from her hands and crashed into the sink, breaking into several pieces.

“Shit!” she cried, her hands visibly shaking as she looked down at the shattered plate and then back to Harry.

“Alex, I am so sorry,” he said softly, his eyes wide and a bit nervous as they met hers. “I really didn’t mean to startle you.”

“I know,” she whispered, taking a breath and trying to control her racing heart. “I know...I just…” Her eyes filled with tears and she turned back towards the sink, reaching in for the broken plate.

“Alex...don’t,” he called out, stepping forward quickly to stop her. His hands fell gently on her forearms from behind, stalling her. “You’re shaking, love. I don’t want you to cut yourself.”

“Damn it.” She shook her head but stopped reaching for the plate, moving to grip at the edge of the sink instead, her knuckles turning white from the strength at which she gripped it. “This is ridiculous,” she mumbled. “I can’t even have my husband put his hands on my shoulders without jumping out of my skin. I can’t even fucking wash dishes without…”

“Hey…” Harry soothed, his voice low and soft as he moved to her side and reached out to tuck a piece of loose hair behind her ear. “It’s okay love. I understand.”

“No, you don’t,” Alex muttered. She turned and pushed past him, walking towards the back door. “No one does.”

“Alex,” he called, moving towards her as she moved to slide on her wellies and then reached for her jacket.

“I’m going for a walk,” she said, brushing away his attempts to calm her down.

“By yourself?”

The words hit her like a punch in the gut and immediately her eyes welled up with tears.

“I’ll go with you,” he murmured, silently cursing himself for making her cry again.

“No, it’s okay,” she sniffed. “I’m not really in the mood for company. I’ll just...go up to our room for a bit.”

“I’ll walk behind you,” he offered, his eyebrows raising as he reached for his own coat. “You don’t have to talk to me, I promise. I’ll stay back a bit. But I’ll there. If that’s what you need.”

Alex looked at him for a long moment and then she sniffed again and wiped at her tears. “Okay. I...I’d like that.”


Harry was true to his word. He stayed behind Alex as she walked. She didn’t really go far; he didn’t think she would. When they left through the back door of her parent’s home, she led the way out to the small country road and walked about half a mile down before taking a turn off the road towards a small, well worn path that Harry knew would eventually lead to the back of her parent’s property. He knew that he security team had followed behind him as well, but they stayed back, giving Alex the illusion that they were on their own out in the grey, drizzly day.

His chest was tight as he watched her walk. He hated that she was so broken up about what happened and that she said that no one understood. While it was true in a way, he still hated it. But he wouldn’t push her to talk about it or to make her see that he wanted to understand. She wasn’t like him in that regard; she couldn’t bottle it all up forever. Eventually, after she’d done as much as she could with it in her own mind, she’d let it out and let others in.

And then, as if she’d heard his thoughts, she stopped and turned around to face him. “I was supposed to be safe, Harry.”

He took a deep breath and several steps forward to her. “I know.”

“Do you?” Her eyebrows lifted.

“Of course I do, Alex. You know that I want you and Emma safe, that I’ve always…

“That was one of the things you were concerned about in the very beginning; keeping me and Emma safe,” she interrupted. She watched as Harry nodded and though she knew that none of this was his fault, she also knew that in the end, it all came back to being a part of his life. And that meant that he was the person that she had to have this conversation with. “And when we got engaged and Emma and I were assigned protection, you were a bit relieved, right? We finally had a role in your life where you could assure we were safe and protected?”

Harry swallowed the lump in his throat and then answered honestly, “Yes.”

“And how does it make you feel that I wasn’t?”

Harry shook his head and took another step towards her. “This isn’t about how I feel.”

“You’re right,” Alex nodded, sniffing at the emotions that were bubbling up. “You’re right about that. But tell me anyway.”

“Sick,” Harry whispered, swallowing at the bad taste in his mouth. “And fucking helpless.”

“Yeah,” Alex drew out the word as she let out a breath. Her eyes averted away from his, looking out over the foggy field they were standing in the middle of. “Now take that, and multiply it by about a million, and you’re be somewhere in the vicinity of where I am.”


“Every single thing!” She shouted all of the sudden, surprising him and making him take a step back. “Every single system that was in place to keep me safe, to keep our family safe...failed! It completely failed! The very person that was there to keep me safe from the crazy people out there was the crazy people out there! How do do I even deal with that?”

“I...I don’t know, love,” Harry stumbled out, unsure how to put into words that fact that it was always her who had helped him deal with the bad things since they’d been together, that he was just hoping to be able to even help her half as well as she’d helped him over the years.

“Yeah, me neither,” she mumbled with a shake of her head. “Me either. I mean, how do you ever get past a fucking psychopath taking you hostage in your home? How do you get past him telling you he’s going to flee the country with you and take you away from your family forever?”


“And how in the hell do I get over the fact that he tried to kill you, Harry? How do I get over the fact that he bugged our home, Harry? How do I get over the fact that I shot him there and that he died there? In our bedroom! How do I go back there? How do I ever trust anyone assigned to keep me safe ever again?” Her voice broke with her final words and tears slipped from her eyes and Harry’s chest ached so badly with how much she was hurting.

“Alex,” his voice was hoarse when he finally found his words. “I'm going to do everything I can do to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

"Don't you get it, Harry? Everyone did everything they thought they could to make sure it never happened in the first place. And it DID. It happened. Emma and I are supposed to be protected. What if I never feel safe again? What if this life...where one of the biggest assurances was that our daughter and I would be kept safe...what if..."

"I don't know, Alex."

"Why do you keep saying you don’t know?"

Harry lifted his hands and his eyes widened. "What do you want me to say? I know that this wasn't supposed to happen. I know that. And I can't change it and I can't make it go away. But I can try and fix it for the future."

She fell quiet and he could see her struggling; he could see her trying to decide how far she wanted to take the conversation they were having.

“Say it, Alexandra,” he said, bringing her eyes swinging back to his. “You’re not me who can bottle things up and hide their emotions. It’s written all over your face. You have something to say. Say it.”

“You’ll hate it,” she whispered her warning.

“You think I don’t already hate that we even have to have this conversation?” he countered, lifting his brows. “Alexandra, I may not know how to…”

"How come you haven’t offered me an out?”

His breath sucked in and he went completely still, his blood pounding in his ears. "I….”

“I told you that you would hate it,” she muttered. She wiped at her tears and then turned away from him, not able to look at him after what she just said.

“Alex, don’t turn away from me,” he called out, coming after her. He walked around her to face her, his hands moving around her arms and bringing her eyes up to his. “I do hate it. Of course I fucking hate that you asked me that. But...Jesus Alex. You think I can just…” He should his head and his shoulders straightened; sure and determined. “No, I'm not going to offer you that as a solution to this problem. Not when I don’t think it’s a real solution. It’s not going to make you better. Unless…” His voice cracked and she saw the moisture rise in his eyes. “Unless that's what you want. Is that what you want, Alex?"

A sob escaped her lips and she shook her head back and forth quickly. "No. I'm sorry, Harry...I don't want that. Not at all. I…” Her hands moved to her face and she dropped her head, beginning to cry in earnest. “I don't know why I said that..I’m so sorry..."

“Hey,” Harry sighed as his hands tightened on her arms and he pulled her into him. His arms wrapped around her, holding her tightly to him and letting her cry into his chest. “I know why you said it,” he murmured. He dropped a kiss to the top of her head and then laid his cheek there as he continued to hold her tight. “I’m not mad or upset and you don’t have to apologize, for any of this.”

“But here I am yelling at you like it’s your fault,” Alex replied, her voice muffled by the way she had it pressed into his chest.

“Yeah, well, who else are you going to yell at?”

“Are you trying to be funny right now?” Alex whispered, her sobs slowing down for the moment.

“Absolutely not,” Harry denied instantly, but he could feel the tension leaving her body a bit.

“Good, because it wasn’t funny,” Alex mumbled into his chest and Harry couldn’t help the small chuckle that left his lips.

“You’re right, love,” he nodded, pressing another kiss to the top of her head. But he didn’t let go of her, his arms stayed tight around her, not wanting to let her go until she was ready to step away. “Alex?”


He took a deep breath and pulled back to look down into her face. “I don’t want to push you, but I’m...I’m really hoping that you’re going to be open to seeing a therapist at some point.”

She blinked in surprise. “Of course I will.”

He smiled softly, relief evident in his face. “Yeah?”

“Absolutely,” she nodded as she leaned back into his chest. “I think it’s pretty important that I do. I mean, being out here helps, know…”

“I know,” Harry nodded and took a deep breath. He really did. Therapy had helped him more than he could ever express. “And...I don’t want us to live at the cottage anymore.”

“What?” she pulled back to look up at him, her eyes wide with surprise.

“You asked how you could ever go back there,” he reminded her. “I don’t think you can. I don’t think we can. After we leave here and after we spend a couple of weeks at Highgrove, we can stay at Clarence House or Buckingham or hell, we can even rent a place until our new apartment at Kensington is ready.”

“Yeah?” Alex bit her lip as she thought it over, realizing that her chest felt a little lighter after hearing her husband say that he didn’t want to go back there either.

“Absolutely, love.”

“Okay,” she nodded slowly. “I’m sad to leave it but…I can’t live there again.”

“Then we won’t,” Harry said softly.

Alex took a deep breath and blinked at the tears in her eyes. “Thank you. For that and for...letting me yell at you. I promise I didn’t mean what...”

“I know you didn’t,” Harry cut her off with a shake of his head. “I know that. Which is why it never crossed my mind as an option.”

“I do love you,” Alex whispered as she leaned back into him, hugging her arms around him. “Very much.”

“I love you too,” he replied in a low voice. “So much so, in fact...that I’m about to insist that we get out of this wet weather before you get sick and I have to fumble my way nursing you back to health.”

Alex smiled and nodded against his chest. She took a deep breath and stepped back, but let him take her hand as he turned to lead them back to her parent’s house. “That’s an old wives tale, you know.”

“What is?”

“That being out in the wet and cold will make you sick.”

He laughed and squeezed her hand tighter. “I know, love. Otherwise we British would be constantly bedridden.”

The smile that tilted her lips was enough for him to consider his joke a success. It didn’t quite reach her eyes, but for now, it was progress.


After that day, after Alex had let out what was building up inside of her at Harry in the rain that morning, she slowly began to feel a bit more like herself again. She began to help Emma with her school work a bit. She spent some time with Donna out in the garden once the rain stopped long enough to make it possible. When Matt and Charlotte arrived in the middle of the week with Cooper, she was the first one to pluck Cooper into their arms, smiling and cooing down at the sweet little baby boy who was growing so fast. And there was even the late evening where she found herself in the kitchen with her Dad and Matt, smiling over a bowl of ice cream as Mike retold stories from their childhood.

And it was the second to last day there, when Harry had reluctantly had to head to London for a few hours to meet with Scotland Yard about the investigation that was almost complete, that she pulled Emma into the kitchen with a smile and a bit of enthusiasm as she requested her daughter’s help in a little bit of a special project. And Emma, who was more than happy to be asked, jumped at the chance to help and to spend a couple of hours of quality time with her mum, agreed instantly.

And that’s exactly where Harry found them when he arrived back at the house that afternoon. He’d hated that he’d had to leave, even though he knew it was something that had to be done. He’d felt so relieved to be back, feeling at home the second he walked through the front door. Everyone seemed to be spread out across the house, but Donna came around the corner when she heard the door open and, after kissing his cheeks, had pointed him towards to kitchen with a smile that clearly indicated his wife and daughter were up to something in there.

“Well, it smells delicious in here,” he announced as he stepped through the doorway to the kitchen, smiling wide at the pretty picture they painted, their blonde heads close together as they bent over something on the counter.

“Hi Dad!” Emma grinned as she hopped off the stool she was standing on and skipped towards him. “You’re back!”

“I’m back!” He laughed, moving over to kiss her hello. He ruffled her hair and then his eyes met Alex’s, a warm moment moving between them. “Hello, love. What have you two got going on in here?”

“What’s going on,” Alex smiled as she pulled her apron over her head and tossed it onto the counter. “Is that Emma and I made you a birthday cake.”

The smile that spread across Harry’s face was bright and happy, matching the way his eyes lit up. “You remembered.”

“Duhhhh,” Emma giggled.

“Yeah, duhhhh,” Alex smirked, bringing a shout of laughter from Harry.

“Happy Birthday, Daddy!” Emma called out, hugging her arms around his waist.

“Well, thank you Em,” he smiled, leaning down to kiss the top of her head before turning his eyes back to Alex.

“Happy Birthday, Harry,” she said, her voice and her eyes soft as she looked up at him.

“Thank you, love,” he murmured, stepping over to her. He leaned down to kiss her cheek but she caught him off guard as she turned her head, catching his lips quickly with hers. He couldn’t help the way even the brief contact of her lips against his made his smile pull wider. Their eyes met for a warm, meaningful beat and then with a wink he stepped back, pulling back from their moment only to bring Emma back in. “Alright ladies, what kind of cake are we talking here?”


That evening was by far the most relaxed spent so far at the Emerson’s home. After dinner, they dug into the delicious chocolate cake that Emma and Alex had made from scratch and it earned rave reviews, especially from the birthday boy himself.

They all settled into the living room after dessert to watch a movie; it was cozy and comfy and when Alex settled in next to Harry on the couch and leaned into him, his heart swelled in his chest as he lifted his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer, loving the feeling of her settling easily and comfortably into his side.

Emma drifted off to sleep about halfway through the movie and much to Harry’s amusement, Charlotte wasn’t far behind her, nodding off with her head resting on Matt’s shoulder. And when Matt woke her to take her up to bed, Harry couldn’t resist a round of light teasing at her expense; joking that she may be younger in years than him for the moment but clearly not in spirit.

“Shut up,” Charlotte mumbled as Matt helped her up from the couch. “Unless you want to be the one who gets up to feed my son at two a.m.”

“Don’t joke,” Alex deadpanned. “He’ll do it.”

Charlotte snorted. “Absolutely not. Get your own baby.”

Laughter moved around the room and Matt grinned as he took his wife’s hand. “Come on, grouchy pants. Let’s get you to bed.”

“Sounds like Matt just earned himself the two a.m. feeding,” Alex teased, bringing another round of laughter from the room. Though Alex may not have noticed, Harry didn’t miss the way everyone’s eyes lit up at the fact that Alex was making jokes and that her smile had begun to reach her eyes again.

It wasn’t much longer before Alex and Harry decided to call it a night as well. After kissing and hugging Donna and Mike goodnight, Harry pulled a sleeping Emma from the couch and they headed upstairs.

“I’m going to take a quick bath,” Alex whispered as Harry moved to put Emma down in her room.

Harry smiled at his wife as he pushed open the door to Emma’s room. “Okay love, enjoy. I’ll see you in a bit.”


When Alex stepped from her bath, she felt refreshed. The hot water was relaxing and soothing and putting on her lotion and then wrapping herself up in her warm, comfortable pajamas had her feeling more like herself than she’d felt in a week. She looked in the mirror as she pulled the clip from her hair and let it fall down her back. Her face was thinner, no doubt. But her cheeks were pink and her eyes had life in them and she couldn’t help but smile back at her reflection.

She was going to be okay. It was going to be a hard road back, of course. But she was going to be okay.

And so much of it was due to the man just on the other side of the door from her; probably tucked up in their bed and waiting for her to come out before he would let himself fall asleep, just so he could say goodnight to her.

And suddenly, all she wanted was to see his face and his smile and the way he looked at her. All she wanted was the hear his voice and see the love he held in his eyes for her. All she wanted was to feel the strength of his arms around her.

All she wanted was him. And it completely overwhelmed her.

With a deep breath, she pulled open the door and she smiled instantly as she saw him, he had a book in his lap and his brow furrowed slightly as he concentrated on the words he was reading. She moved quickly across the room until she stood by the bed, looking down on him.

“What are you reading?”

Harry looked up from the book in his lap, smiling at his wife, looking refreshed from her bath and adorable in her pajamas. “An old book of yours that I found on the shelf.”

Alex’s eyes turned to the shelf against the wall where her mother had lined a bunch of her old novels. It always amazed her that her mom kept those things; much less had them carted across the Atlantic and unpacked in their new house in England. But she loved that she had.

Her smile was soft as she turned back to Harry and then climbed onto the bed on her knees. “Which one?”

Harry’s lips twitched he pulled the book up, revealing the cover art to her. “The Princess Diaries.”

“Ha! You shit,” she snickered, shaking her head as she snatched the book from him and then smacked him lightly on top of the head with it.

“What?” he laughed, watching her as she turned to toss it on her nightstand. “I wanted to see what it was all about.”

She lifted an eyebrow. “Being a princess?”

He chuckled. “Something like that. And why did you take it? Maybe I’m not done reading for the night.” He watched as Alex’s eyes cast down for a moment and he sat up a bit. “Alex? You alright, baby? You want to talk about anything?”

“No,” she said, her smile tipping up as she lifted her eyes to his. “I don’t want to talk, Harry.” She saw his breath suck in and she saw the moment he recognized look in her wide blue eyes. They were full of love and of hope and… of desire.

She bit her bottom lip and scooted closer and her hands reached out to him, moving to rest on his flat stomach. “Harry…”

“Alex…” he whispered in return. Her fingers tipped up under his shirt and he sucked in a sharp breath and his hands reached out to cover hers, stalling her for just a moment. “Are you sure?”

Her smiled pulled higher and she nodded slowly. “Yes.”

And he didn’t have to ask again. She wouldn’t have come to him if she wasn’t ready. She wouldn’t have said yes if she wasn’t ready. “Come here,” he murmured. His fingers folded over hers and he tugged, bringing her down to him.

And she went. Without a single ounce of hesitation she went to him, moving her body over his as his hands slid up over her arms and up into her hair. His eyes held hers for a long moment; a moment when everything that had happened since their marriage passed heavy between them: Philip’s passing, Harry’s accident, and Alex’s terrifying ordeal with Patrick just the week before. And then, he smiled softly up at her and she returned his look; not wanting any of what was about to happen between them about any of the bad.

Only good.

“I love you so much, Alexandra,” he said, his voice low and shaky with emotion.

She blinked at the moisture that rose in her eyes and then she leaned closer, her lips less than an inch from his. “Show me, Harry.”

He groaned softly at her words and then his hands tightened in her hair and he pulled her lips down to his.

She moaned softly as his mouth opened under hers and his tongue teased between her lips, looking for hers. And she couldn’t help but sink into it; into the kiss and into him, her warm, sweet, sexy husband. She shifted, moving a leg over him and settling on his lap and she couldn’t help the way her lips curved up into a smile against his as she felt him under her, aroused and ready for her.

A deep chuckle rumbled through his chest and he opened his eyes, finding hers already looking back down at him. “Oh, I want you,” he assured her, his gaze hot as it held hers. His hands left her hair and smoothed down her back. His fingers pushed at the hem of her t-shirt and she lifted, sitting up straight as he pulled her shirt from her and tossed it to the side. “My’re so beautiful…”

She smiled, her cheeks flushing under his gaze and with his words and then she was pulling at him and he sat up, willingly let her pull his shirt from him and then toss it away to join hers on the floor. His arms moved around her instantly and he pulled her tight to him. As their chests met, bare skin against bare skin, both of them sucked in an audible breath and the heat between them in that room shot up. Her hands moved to his face, her thumbs rubbing softly at his cheeks, and she repeated her words from moment before.

“ me…”

With a groan, he pulled her to him and then turned, flipping them around and lowering her back down to the soft mattress.

The rest of their clothes came off slowly; they peeled them from each others bodies as if they wanted to savor each inch of naked skin as it was revealed. Alex arched and a small cry fell from her lips when his hands moved to her, smoothing up her sides and to her breasts. The pressure was so sweet as he cupped them in his palms and when his thumbs began to strum lightly over her nipples she couldn’t help but shudder. It had been much too long; too long since he’d touched her, since she’d had his hands on her body and she wanted him fiercely.

“Harry,” she whimpered. Her hands encircled his shoulders and she pushed her fingers into his hair. “Please. Make love to me.”

Harry took a deep breath and, after dropping a soft kiss to each of her nipples, he let her pull him up to her. His mouth covered hers as she parted her thighs for him and she let out a soft, moan of a sigh as he leaned in, pressing his weight into her. And then, keeping one hand in her hair, the other smoothed down over her chest, passing over her stomach, and then slipped between her thighs.

“Oh Alex,” he breathed as his fingers slid against her folds. “You’re so…”

“Oh!” she gasped as his fingers moved to run a warm circle around the bundle of nerves that laid there, swollen for him. Her hands moved to clutch at his shoulders and her eyes flew open as she sucked in a breath. “Oh my God...if you keep doing that…”

His eyebrows lifted in surprise and as much as he wanted her to come apart while she was wrapped around him, he couldn’t resist. It was so fast and she was so ready and…

“Harry!” she moaned his name as her orgasm hit, fast and hot, and Harry’s entire body pulsed as the waves of it pushed through her. It pulled sexiest sounds from her lips and made her entire body flush pink and he honestly thought he might lose it right there for a second.

“Jesus…” She let out a breath and a giggle as her eyes pulled open and she fought to focus for a second. “Sorry...I didn’t expect…”

“Don’t you dare apologize,” Harry grinned as he shifted, his fingers sliding from her as he moved to press the tip of himself against her. “I just hope I can make you do that again.”

“Oh, you can,” she smirked. Her arms wrapped around his neck and her eyes held his as he pressed into her just slightly.

“If I don’t lose it first,” he joked; though if he was honest he wasn’t sure he would last any time at all.

“Wait!” Alex suddenly gasped, her eyes flying wide and her hands moving to clutch at his forearms. “Wait, Harry...I…”

“What?” he lifted from her, his eyes wide and nervous. “What’s wrong, love?”

“Shit,” she muttered, covering her face with her hands as she shook her head. “Shit, shit, shit.”

“Alex,” he chuckled, guessing she was alright but confused at to what the hell was going on. “What do I need to wait on?”

“My birth control,” she groaned, pulling her hands from her face. “It’s in the cottage. In the stuff that he…” she gulped as she made mention of Patrick and then took a deep breath, determined not to let him affect her in this moment. “It’s in the stuff he made me pack. I haven’t taken it in a week.”

“Oh,” Harry let out a breath and blinked several times, already trying to reign in his desire for her.

“I’m so sorry…”

“Oh hey,” he smiled and shook his head down at her. “Do not apologize. It’s fine, love. We will just...wait until you get back on it. Or…” His eyes brightened a bit. “We could use a condom.”

Alex grinned. “You have one?”

“Ha!” Harry shook his head and let out a groan. “No, of course not. I mean, I don’t exactly carry any around with me and when we left my head certainly wasn’t...there.”

“Damn it,” Alex sighed, though she was still smiling.

“Yeah,” Harry chuckled and dropped a kiss to her forehead before he shifted, moving to lay back beside her on the bed. “We’ll live, baby. We’ll just...I don’t know. I’ll run into town tomorrow or something.”

“Uggggh,” Alex groaned as she turned on her side to look at him. “But I don’t want to wait until tomorrow.”

Harry smirked as turned his eyes to hers. “You want me to run into town right now?”

Alex shrugged and scooted closer. Her fingers reached out to his stomach and she bit at her bottom lip as her fingers walked slowly south towards his still hard length. “Or…”

He sucked in a breath as her fingers wrapped around him. “Or what?”

Her eyes widened in this mixture of lust and innocence that almost did him in. “You could...pull out…”

“Pull out?” While his eyes were wide with surprise and a hint of nerves at the suggestion, the grin that spread across his face was just a tiny bit cheeky. “I’s just...really?”

“Oh God,” Alex giggled, falling back to the mattress and going from seductive back to sweet in the blink of an eye. “We’re so ridiculous, Harry.”

“You think so?” he grinned, watching as she dissolved into a fit of giggles.

“I mean…” Her shoulders shook with her laughter. “We’re in my parents house wanting to have sex and we…” She tried to take a breath but she ended up snorting with laughter again as she turned her eyes to his. “And we can’t because I forgot I wasn’t taking my birth control and we don’t have a condom and now we’re discussing the pull out method like…”

“Like a couple of horny teenagers?” Harry finished with a chuckle.

Alex clapped a hand over her mouth as a whole new round of giggles hit her and Harry couldn’t help the way his heart swelled as he watched her. It was truly the first time he’d seen her really laugh in a week.

And suddenly he was just...overwhelmed with the heavy feeling that blossomed in his chest. He loved her beyond anything; beyond reason really. They had been through so much in just a few short months yet they could still be them together and right then, he decided that if she wanted him to make love to her, then not really much of anything could stop him from doing just that.

Especially the small chance of a consequence that wasn’t really a consequence at all; not to him.

He reached for her and a gasp of surprise left her lips as she was suddenly pulled into into his arms and pressed back up against his naked body. Her hands fell to his chest and she turned a sweet, slightly nervous smile up to him.

“You sure? I mean, even if you pull out there would still be a chance…”

“I’m sure,” he nodded, that slightly cheeky smile coming back for a moment. His eyes danced with anticipation and then, he bent and once again, took her mouth with his.

This time, when he moved in above her, his cheeky smile and her giggles disappeared. When her legs parted for him and he settled there between then, there were no more questions as to whether or not either of them were sure or ready. They were both more than sure and incredibly ready. And when he pushed inside of her in one long, slow stroke, both of them had to take a moment to to let just how good it felt to be joined so intimately against wash over them.

“You feel amazing,” he whispered as he adjusted around her, stretching his body out over hers and moving his hands under her shoulders so that he could push her closer. “Absolutely amazing, Alexandra.”

“So do you,” she whispered back, trying in vain to blink back to moisture that rose in her eyes at how wonderful it felt to have him inside of her.

He smiled softly and leaned in to press light kisses to her forehead, her nose, and her lips. Then, he took in a deep breath to steady himself...and he began to move.

He was slow and steady and incredibly thorough as he moved above her. Of course, it had always been more than great between them, but somehow, this time was different. Maybe it was because it had been so long or maybe it was because they had been through so much or maybe it was a tangled combination of those things and more. But Alex knew one thing for sure, and that was she had never, ever felt as complete as she did with Harry that night.

“Oh...Harry…” she moaned softly as he pressed deep and she felt that hot, tingly sensation begin deep in her belly. “Please…”

“Baby…” he groaned, his lips pressing to the soft, damp skin of her neck as he fought like mad to hold on, to get her there first before he had to leave her to take his. “Come on, love…”

She whimpered and her hips arched up, reaching for it instinctively. “Harry...come with me…”

“Alex,” he moaned and shook his head in the crook of her neck before pulling up to look at her. “I can’t…”

“Please,” she whispered, her eyes wide and full of love as they held his. “Please don’t leave me...not now…”

And the tears that sprang to his eyes were hot and unexpected and though he knew he shouldn’t, though he knew it was a bit reckless, the truth was that he couldn’t deny her anything; especially this. Especially right then.

His forehead dropped to hers, his gaze never wavering as he nodded his head slowly. “Okay, my love.”

Her breath sucked in at his words, at the way his emotions mirrored hers in that moment. He began to move faster above her, his hips angling so he could push deeper as he stroked to the very core of her.

“Oh please…” she moaned, her fingers pressing into his back as she felt the explosion begin in the tips of her toes.

“Oh Alexandra,” he groaned, leaning to kiss her. “Yes. Come for me…”

And she went, his name leaving her lips in a throaty cry as the wave slammed into her body. And just as her body clenched around him for the first time, Harry knew it was all over for him. His face dropped into her neck and his lips pressed into her skin as he let himself go and their bodies pulsed furiously together.

He could feel her heavy breaths against his shoulder as his blew out against her neck; both of them coming down from their shared pleasure. She was the one who moved first; not wanting to break the connection between them, her hands smoothed slowly up the heated skin of his back.

“I missed you, Harry.”

“Mhmmm,” he groaned into her neck before finding the strength to pull up enough to look at her. “God, I missed you too. Never again,” he smiled softly. “Never again will we go that long without loving each other.”

“Okay,” she smiled. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer for a moment as she leaned up to kiss him. “I’m one hundred percent in agreement with you there.”

Harry chuckled. “I thought you might be.”

Their lips met for one more slow, sweet kiss and then with more regret than he could ever express, he lifted, pulling himself from her body with a soft groan. She sucked in a breath at the loss of him, but she was quickly pulled back into the circle of his arms as he adjusted the covers up around them. She rested her head in the crook of his shoulder and wrapped an arm around his waist, not ready to give up the closeness between them.



“Are you sure you’re okay asking you not to…”

“Shhhh…” He smiled as she turned her gaze up to his. “Don’t do that, love. I’m okay with everything we just did. Everything.”

“The chances are small. But I could still…”

“I know.” He let out a soft sigh before and pulled her even closer, kissing the top of her head as his eyes got heavier. “And you know what else I know, Alexandra?”


“I know, beyond a doubt, that I’m incredibly in love with my wife.”

She smiled and, dropping any further intention of discussing the chance they’d taken, she nestled further into the crook of his arm. She didn’t regret it and neither did he and somehow, it made her feel warmer knowing that. And that was all that mattered to her. “I love you too, Henry Charles. And...happy birthday.”

He grinned and hugged her tighter. “Thank you. And...definitely the best birthday so far, my love.”

And just like that, wrapped up in each other and feeling more at peace than they had in months, they drifted off to sleep.