Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Thirteen Part Three (Sunday)

It was Alex’s turn to be up early on Sunday morning. She woke just before the Sun began to rise and seeing Harry looking so peaceful and quiet beside her, she decided to let him sleep a bit longer. She slipped quietly from the bed and pulled on some leggings and a big comfy sweatshirt along with her thick socks. She padded downstairs into the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea, and then, grabbing a blanket from the back of the couch and her Kindle, she made her way to the back porch, settling down in the chilly morning to enjoy the peace and solitude this beautiful land had to offer.

She sipped her tea and read a few pages of her book, but ended up putting it down as her thoughts were wandering all over the place and she kept having to re-read the same page over and over again. With a sigh she set down the Kindle, and let her thoughts take over as she looked out over the mist of the foggy morning.

It was still amazing to her how hard and how quickly she fell for Harry and him for her. And God, she loved him. She loved everything about him. He was funny, witty, smart, considerate, and compassionate; the list just went on and on from there.

Her heart beat a little bit faster when she thought of the events from yesterday. He took her to see those beautiful horses, letting her know that he had never brought another woman up there before her, but that it was always something he had wanted to do. He had been with Chelsy for close to seven years and had never taken her there…but he had taken Alex. He was telling her something with that and she knew it.

And then there was the comment about “getting used” to calling the castle when she needed things. That felt less deliberate, but no less real, and no less meaningful. It alluded to some sort of future he saw with her. It hadn’t made her feel uncomfortable or freaked out, but it did raise some questions about how they started that future when they were still very much a secret beyond just a few people.

“Good morning,” she heard from behind her, startling her from her thoughts. She turned, a smiling forming on her lips when a much mussed from sleep Harry appeared in her line of vision.

“Hey you,” she said softly. She opened the blanket she had wrapped around herself. “Join me?”

“Absolutely,” he said with a grin. He moved, motioning for her to slide forward in the chair so he could move in behind her. She moved and he slid in, pulling her back against him and wrapping the warm blanket around them both.

“Tea?” she asked, holding her cup up for him.

He shook his head but leaned forward and nudged her head with his so she would turn towards him. When she did he took her mouth with his, his tongue moving out to tease hers with this slow, warm, good morning kiss. He pulled back, kissing her nose softly before leaning back against the chair again. She leaned back against him, her head resting on his chest under his chin. They sat there together in the quiet morning, neither of them wanting to ruin the peacefulness by speaking first.

Finally Harry spoke up, breaking the silence. “What have you been out her thinking about so early?”

She snuggled closer to him, her fingers finding his under the blanket and toying with them. “You,” she said.

He smiled. “I’m not going to complain about that. Anything specific about me?”

“Oh you know, how much I love you…” she murmured, squeezing his fingers.

He moved to kiss her temple, his lips lingering there. “And?” he pressed with a low voice.

She took a deep breath. “And wondering what happens when you come back from deployment.”

“Are you ready to talk about that?” he asked quietly, even though inside he was doing a little jig. He’d been in this place for a while, wanting to have a plan for when he returned, when he got back to life with her and Emma.

She turned then, bringing her knees to her chest and moving so she was curled up and sitting sideways with her face turned to him.

“Yes I am,” she said clearly.

His face broke into a wide smile before he realized it and his eyes sparkled in excitement. “Okay, let’s talk about it.”

Alex sat there for a moment, waiting. “Harry, you have to start. I have no idea how any of this works,” she said when it became apparent that he was waiting for her.

He chuckled. “Actually, what happens when I come back is entirely in your hands. If…how we go public is completely up to you.”

“So weird,” she chuckled, shaking her head. “Okay, what are our options?”

Harry took a deep breath. “Well, we can just move about our lives, not hiding anything but not making waves. We would essentially be waiting for someone to catch on; waiting for someone to snap a picture and then wait for the next picture, and then the next until eventually the rumors become fact in the minds of the press and the public. It’s what they call the ‘Slow Roll Out’. Think Will and Kate.”

Alex nodded, absorbing it. “Or?”

“Or…we make a splash. I take you to some event on my arm, making it obvious that you are with me. The press gets wind of it and it runs right away, within hours. It will be quick, intense, speculation, but you won’t have to wait for the other shoe to drop so to speak.”

“What do you think is best?” Alex asked quietly, her fingers fiddling with the hem on his long sleeved pajama shirt.

He reached for her hand, stilling the actions that were working to distract him. “Alexandra, I’m not trying to be difficult when I say it is up to you, I mean that it is up to you. Although…” he trailed off, bringing her hand to his lips, kissing her palm. “By that point we will have been together…six months?” He looked to her for confirmation.

She nodded, smiling.

“Okay, at the point I would say that I’d probably be absolutely dying to show you off to the world.”

“So we just jump right in then?” Alex asked, her lips twitching.

Harry laughed. “Well shit, that’s what we’ve done so far, why stop now?”

“Okay then, it’s decided,” she said excitedly. She turned then, fully facing in, straddling him. “For the record, Harry…I can’t wait to show you off to the world either.”

Then her lips settled over his, intense and purposeful. She wrapped herself around him, pressing as close as she could. His mouth opened under hers, allowing her tongue to move in and slide alongside his.

“Baby?” she whispered, pulling back just enough that their lips were still touching but she could speak.

“Yes?” he murmured, leaning forward to get back at her mouth. It was cold outside, but he was hot and hard and wanting to seal the deal they had just made.

“Do you have plans for us this morning? Or can you take me back to bed for a few hours?” she asked. She kissed him again the captured his bottom lip between her teeth before releasing to lean back and look at his face.

He groaned at her actions and then at the lust in her big blue eyes. “I think I can re-arrange a few things for a morning in bed with you.”


The afternoon was warmer than expected, which after a morning of slow, delicious, soul-altering lovemaking with each other, only served to lift both Harry and Alex’s spirits even higher. Harry’s grin was from ear to ear as he put some small provisions into the big wooden canoe at the lake while Alex stood by with an identical grin and waited. The sun was shining and they didn’t even need jackets, just a light sweater and jeans for both of them was more than enough.

Once he finished he went over and picked her up into his arms, walked her back over to the canoe and deposited her in it, loving her laughter and ease at the situation. He pushed off of the bank and climbed in after her. She helped him paddle easily out to a spot in the middle of the small lake and once they were in place they pulled the paddles inside and they each reclined back into the boat to enjoy the sunshine.

“I love how in tune you are with the land,” she said while she let the sun warm her face.

“You should see me in Africa,” he responded softly.

She squinted at him through the sunlight. “You’ll have to show me sometime. I’ve always wanted to go myself.”

He smirked. “You sure? You’re not just saying that?”

She rolled her eyes. “Come on, Harry,” she laughed, reaching into the cold water and splashing a tiny bit of it at him with her fingers. “You know I wouldn’t tell you something like that just because I thought it might make you like me more.”

“I was teasing,” he said with a chuckle, wiping a drop of water from his cheek. “It’s just funny though how many people…women mostly…say, ‘Oh, I’d love to see Africa!’ but what they really mean is they’d love for me to pay for them to go on a guided Safari and stay at a swanky resort. Don’t get me wrong, that’s always a nice trip to take, but not the true Africa I love.”

“Tell me about the true Africa you love,” Alex asked, nudging his leg with her Wellie clad foot.

He grinned and grabbed her leg, sliding the boot off of her foot so he could rub her it. She sighed in pleasure as he rubbed and told her of Africa – his Africa.

He spoke of Lesotho, of his friend Prince Seeiso, of all the underprivileged and special needs kids he had met over the years.

Alex listened intently, soaking up every detail and asking questions that prompted more information from him, more stories about one of the most precious things in Harry’s life.

“I’m hoping that when I get home from Afghanistan I can plan a trip. I haven’t seen Seeiso or any of the kids in forever,” he said when he had gotten just about all of the information out that Alex could pull from him.

Alex smiled. “I think you should.”

Harry watched her intently. “I think we should.”

Her eyes were closed again, her head tipped back into the late afternoon sun. “Who? You and William?” she asked, distracted.

“No, Alex. I mean we should go…you and me,” he said with determination.

Her eyes opened slowly and she regarded him cautiously. “Harry…I can’t just go do visits with you.”

“No, you can’t, but you can travel with me if I pay for it. I can do the public stuff and I can show you everything when the damn media isn’t around.”

Alex gulped. She wasn’t fond of him offering up his money for her convenience so easily, but she bit a retort back at that, knowing it was useless. There was another concern though. “What about Emma?”

“What about her?” Harry asked.

“I can’t just leave her and go to Africa when it’s convenient for you. This weekend was one thing; I’m still close enough to get to her quickly if she needs me. Africa is so far…I would love to go, but it’s something that has to be planned months and months in advance, not just when you get back from Afghanistan and can fit it in.”

“I wasn’t saying…”

Alex wasn’t done though, and Harry bit his lip to keep from laughing as she talked right over him.

“And you know when we go public that any time I am seen without her people will talk. I am okay with that if I am in London and she is well looked after for one night out of the week while I’m out with you. People can talk shit all they want because I know how good of a mom I am. But I won’t leave her in England while I go to Africa.”

Harry stared at her in amazement. “Just so you know, Alexandra Morgan, I would never ask you to leave her in England while you leave the country with me. She can come with us. It will still be summer if I can plan it out right and she will be out of school.”

Alex sat up and leaned forward, balancing herself so she didn’t tip to boat as she moved forward to lean on Harry’s chest. She looked up into his eyes and sighed. “I can’t promise anything. I don’t know yet if that’s how I want this to go, you flying me and my daughter around the world with you on your dime.”

Hurt flashed in his eyes and he shifted uncomfortably under her. “I just want you to be able to experience these things. I’m not trying to overwhelm you. You just brought up that you wanted to go and I got so excited…”

Alex immediately felt guilty and terrible and crappy for making him feel bad in any way. She was overreacting to a situation that hadn’t even happened and she knew it. She took a deep breath in and closed her eyes for a second, gathering her thoughts. When she opened them again to his she made an effort to smile and put him at ease.

“I’m sorry, I’m not overwhelmed and I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. What I’m saying is that I need to think about it. Plus, I have work to consider as well. I have meetings to run and clients to consider. My role in HFTF is really, really active.”

Harry nodded. “I know. I love your commitment to Healing Families Through Friends. I love how serious your job is to you, how much of a part of you it is. It’s just that…” He trailed off.

Alex cocked her head to the side. “It’s just that what? You said you don’t dance around things, remember? Spill it, Wales.”

His eyes got wide and she felt his heart start to beat faster. “Okay Alex,” he finally said in a low voice. “I’m not making any declarations here or saying for sure that I know things are going to go a certain way…”

She waited with eyes wide open for him to continue.

He sighed. “If things progress and someday we find ourselves…considering…things,” he stopped and raked his hand through his hair, frustrated at just how inarticulate he was being.

Alex blinked up at him a couple of times before her brain finally caught on. “Oh…” she breathed, her heart picking up speed to match his.

He rushed on, somehow finding his words when she picked up on what he was referring to.

“I’m just saying Alex, that at this point there is wide range of possibilities and that will always be considered one of them; not just by me, but by every reporter, newspaper, blog, and fan until it either happens or it doesn’t. And if it does…”

“Things would change,” she whispered.

Harry snorted. “That’s putting it mildly.”

Alex leaned her head on Harry’s chest and wrapped her arms around him. “Harry?”


“Those ‘things’ are a long way off, should they ever become an option, right?” she asked softly.

“Years,” he replied as he leaned down to rest his chin on her head.

“Then let’s not worry about it now. Let’s just make it through the next four months and then going public and then see what the future holds. Who knows, you may decide that ‘things’ are not an option with me down the line.”

Harry chuckled and then tipped her face up to his with a gentle finger under her chin. “That’s the thing Alex, I don’t think I will.”

She searched his eyes for a long moment before she spoke. “Yeah, me either.”

It was the last time they spoke of that subject for the entire trip and for a long time after that. He knew it was too early and she knew that they both weren’t ready. But if Alex had any doubt in her mind if Harry saw a future with her, it had just been eradicated. She just hoped that they would survive these next four months apart first.


“Okay Wales, I know you’ve got something up your sleeve for our last night here,” Alex said as they sat in the backseat of the Range Rover driving them back to the cottage from the lake.

Harry’s lips twitched and he nodded slightly, but didn’t offer an answer to her question.

“No clues?” Alex asked with a laugh.

He put a finger to his lips and pretended to think for a moment. Then he shook his head in the negative, trying not to laugh when her eyes narrowed slightly at him.

“Wales…” she said in a low tone, drawing his name out.

“Morgan…” he responded, mimicking her tone.

“There is a lot on the line here if you don’t tell me.”

He smirked. “Like what?”

“You wouldn’t want to sleep alone on our last night here, would you?” she asked lightly with a shrug of her shoulders and the raise of an eyebrow. It was a challenge, but one that he had already easily beaten.

“Ha! Oh, I can guarantee you I won’t be sleeping alone, Alex.”

She narrowed her eyes further. “And why is that?”

He laughed as the Range Rover pulled up to the cottage. He slid out, leaving her hanging, before coming around to open her door. He took her hand and helped her out, then he pulled her away from the door, shut it firmly, and then he backed her slowly against the closed door with his body.

“The reason I know I’m not sleeping alone tonight is because you are absolutely going to need to be snuggled up next to me for warmth.”



“Where are we sleeping?”

The POs had moved away from them so Harry leaned further into her, pressing his body tightly against hers. He leaned down and pressed his lips to her ear. “I’m taking you camping.”

A slow smile spread across her lips and she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I love camping,” she murmured as she buried her face in his warm neck and slowly kissed her way from there up to his jaw. He hadn’t shaved since they had been in Scotland and she couldn’t get enough of his scruff.

“You do?” he asked softly, although he really wasn’t that surprised. She had been up for every outdoor pursuit they had gotten themselves into while they had been there. Hell, she had even let him make love to her outside by the fire the first night.

“Yes,” she whispered absentmindedly, her attention decidedly fixed on his jawline.

He groaned. “Alexandra, you are distracting the hell out of me right now. If you don’t want to go camping, just say so and I’ll take up upstairs right now.”

She giggled against his jaw. “I’d rather go camping,” she murmured.

He threw back his head in laughter before forcing himself to untangle himself from her arms. “You are a liar of the worst kind,” he said, wagging a finger at her.

She grinned as she sauntered past him into the cottage. “Come on Sweet Cheeks,” she called behind her, motioning him to follow her. “You are costing us valuable camping time.”

And Harry, as he would always do, followed her where she asked him to.


He surprised her by driving them himself to the camping spot, which was just actually back to the bank of the small lake where they had canoed earlier. The vehicle he drove them up in was what looked like to her like an old vintage Army truck, but it rode a lot smoother than she had anticipated. The ever present POs were there, although they drove in a different vehicle and kept their distance at the lake.

When they arrived, Harry unpacked quickly, waving Alex away when she tried to help him set up the tent. She had to admit that he really didn’t need her help, he was getting everything done in record time and enjoying himself by the looks of it. Alex pulled out her iPod and the portable speakers they brought, plugged it in and sat down in one of the fold up chairs they brought, enjoying the music and scenery before it got dark.

Once Harry was finished he joined her, pulling up a chair beside her. He reached over and found her hand, pulling it into his own and kissing her palm before pulling it into his lap. His thumb stroked her knuckles gently as they sat there silently watching the sun go down.

“Our last night,” Alex said so softly that Harry wasn’t totally sure he heard it.

When he looked into her eyes though and saw the unshed tears there, he knew she had said the words.


“I love you,” she said instantly, cutting him off. “Whatever happens after this weekend, after you go to Afghanistan, just always remember that okay?”

He gulped, his eyes searching hers. “I know that. I know you love me, but you’re talking as if you won’t be here when I get back, Alex.” His words were soft, pained.

She blinked, the tears falling from her eyes. She shook her head slowly and then getting up she moved to his chair, climbing into his lap. She put her hands on his cheeks, cradling his handsome face in her hands.

“Harry, you come back and I’ll be here. I can promise you that. Just come back to me.” Her last word was almost a sob, and he hated that her heart was breaking because he had to leave her. He moved his arms to pull her against his chest but she resisted as she wasn’t done yet. Gathering her nerve and forcing the lump back she continued.

“I loved my husband, Harry, I’ll never deny that. But…and maybe this makes me a terrible person, I don’t know. I…I love you more than….Losing you…God…I can’t…”

“Oh baby,” he said, pulling her tight as she broke down into sobs. She clutched his shirt in her fists and her whole body shook with it.

He knew she needed to get it out. He knew this wouldn’t be the last time she cried like this before he left, but he knew nothing he could say would make her feel better in this moment. Although he was confident in himself, in his abilities, he couldn’t promise her he would come back. All he could do was let her cry it out.

Long minutes later her sobs subsided and she raised her head to look at him. Her eyes were red and swollen and her face was wet from her tears. He reached up and wiped away the trails with his fingers.

“Better?” he asked, after her breathing had returned to normal.

“No,” she said, but she laughed quietly after she said it. “I won’t be better until you are back in four months.”

He gave her a small smile and leaned up and kissed her lips quickly. “I have an idea. I promise it’ll take your mind off of this for right now.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “Me crying makes you want to do that?”

He laughed, shaking his head. “No, not that. C’mon,” he said, tipping her so she was forced to stand. He took her hand and led her in a slow walk down to the water’s edge where he turned to look at her and dropped her hand.

Then he started taking off his clothes.

“What are you doing?” she asked with wide eyes.

“Going skinny dipping. You are too. Get undressed.” The ever present smirk was back on his face.

She scoffed. “You’ve got to be out of your mind. I am not getting in the water, especially not naked.”

“Why?” he asked. His shirt was off and he was working on his jeans, pulling the belt open and unbutton and unzipping his fly. His breath was visible in the night air and she knew he had to be cold.

“Because it’s freezing,” she replied, exasperated. “It’s freezing out here and it’s even colder in there.” She pointed at the water.

He nodded as he pulled his pants from his legs. “Exactly. You get in the water and all you’ll be able to think about is the cold. Everything else will take a back burner for right now.”

She stared at him for a second, watching as he pulled off his socks. All that was left were his boxers.

“Alex, get undressed. You’re going in. You do not want me to throw you in fully clothed, believe me,” he said. His voice was determined.

“You wouldn’t,” she said, her eyes wide.

He stepped toward her.

“Fine,” she snapped as she took a deep breath and pulled her sweater over her head. The cold air hit her and she sucked in a breath, hesitating before she moved to her jeans.

“The faster you do it the faster you are in the water and the faster you can get out,” he said, his lips turning up at the sides.

“Oh my God, you are certifiable,” she cried out. But then she moved, pulling off her jeans, her socks, her bra, and finally at the same time as Harry pulled his boxers down she pulled her panties off, tossing them quickly into the pile of clothing while she stood there shivering.

And then she totally caught him off guard when she turned and ran towards the lake first, squealing when she hit the freezing water. He took off after her and dove headfirst in just after she did, his whole body taking the shock of the water at full force. He came up sputtering, looking around for her and finding her already high tailing it from the water.

“Alex,” he called over the chattering of his teeth. “Wait!”

He moved as fast as he could, catching up with her as she stood fully from the water. She was wet, shivering, and had no towel or blanket.

“Harry, what…?” She was looking around for something, anything to wrap around her.

Harry laughed despite being so cold he could hardly see straight. “Car,” he said, a shiver ripping through the word.

They both ran as fast as they could, naked as they day they were born, the twenty feet or so to the car. Harry pulled a blanket from the back as quickly as he could and wrapped it around her before finding one for himself and pulling it around his body.

“Get in the car,” he ordered and she obeyed, climbing into the passenger seat as he climbed into the driver’s side, starting the car with the key he left in the ignition. He immediately turned the heat up to full blast and they both sat there shivering until the car warmed up and the heat was flowing freely.

Alex could believe how good she felt when she started to unthaw. Her body was on high alert, her mind concentrating on nothing but getting warm. Her skin was tingling all over…she felt so alive.

“Told you,” Harry said, watching her face. “You feel good don’t you?”

She nodded and then threw him a big smile. “You were right. That was…terrible…but I’m glad I did it.”

He laughed. “I’m glad I could do something to make you feel better.”

Her eyes caught his and he caught his breath at the life that had appeared back in there.

“I know what else you can do to make me feel better,” she said confidently.

He cocked an eyebrow. “Tell me what that is, Alex…no wait…show me.”

She immediately climbed out of her seat and over to his, straddling him. He dropped his hold on his blanket, moving into hers when she opened her arms around him. He groaned as her warm, naked form met his and he was almost instantly hard, aching to be buried inside of her.

He pulled her close, an arm snaking around her waist and his other hand moving under her to touch her, see if she was ready. She moaned when his fingers found her and he discovered that she was more than ready for him. She was hot and slippery and he needed to be buried in her right that second.

“Alexandra,” he whispered, looking up and capturing her eyes.

“Yes,” she breathed simply. She leaned down and pressed her lips to his, his mouth opening under hers and her tongue sliding in just as he guided himself straight into her.

“Oh God…” he mumbled against her mouth at the feeling.

The ride was fast, hot, and intense. Alex rolled her hips along his and he gripped at her; her hips, her waist, her breasts, rolling the hard nipples through his fingers. Their mouths stayed fused together and every moan, groan, whimper, and cry was caught in between them, sending shivers down their bodies at the intensity of it.

Then Alex was going over the edge and she tore her mouth away, throwing her head back and she cried out his name into the night. The way his name rolled of her tongue, the way it reeked of need and desperation sent Harry following her over the edge, moaning her name into her neck as he went, squeezing her tightly against him as he struggled to gain use of his brain again.

As he held her there in that moment, he knew there was no way he could ever let her go.