Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Two

In the week since meeting Harry, Alex had done her best to push thoughts of him aside. She had thrown herself into preparing for his upcoming public engagement at her center, making sure everything was perfect. She did exactly as she had always done, going through her days with meticulous order. She clung to that perfectionist part of her personality, allowing the need to make sure everything was nice and orderly that kept thoughts of Harry and their encounter to the back of her mind. She knew if she let herself think about him even for a moment, she just might not be able to stop.

Harry, on the other hand, was not as successful at pushing Alex to the back of his mind. Every day he woke up with the intention that he was not going to think about those big blue eyes that day. He was especially not going to think about how wide and clear they got when he picked up her hand and kissed it softly before he walked out of her office. Nor would he think about how soft the skin on that hand was, and how it felt when it lips brushed against it. Furthermore, his thoughts certainly would not then progress to wondering what her lips would feel like against his; what it would feel like to have her surrender into his arms. Every day he told himself not to go there, and every day he made it about thirty seconds into his morning shower before his thoughts progressed in exactly that order.
Harry took a lot of cold showers that week.


When Harry strolled into his offices at St. James Palace on the day of the public engagement at HFTF, Charlotte took one look at him and almost fell out of her chair laughing. He was impossibly disheveled, his red hair a complete disaster, his suit jacket wrinkled, his tie tied crooked. She barely contained her mirth as he passed by her office, throwing her a look when he saw the hand clapped over her mouth.

“Shut up, Charlotte,” he mumbled as he passed her door, shuffling down to his office at the end of the hall and shutting the door behind him. He knew it was a useless gesture though. He circled his desk, sat down, and counted to five, and sure enough on cue she burst through his door, a laughing smile still on her lips as she shut the door behind her.

“What the fuck, Harry? You do know that you pay people to make sure you don’t show up anywhere looking like that, right? Did you fire them all or something?” Charlotte asked him.

He looked up at her, standing there with her arms crossed over her chest, a smirk on her face. “No, but I’m going to fire you if you keep talking to me like that,” he said crossly.

She laughed. “No you won’t. You can’t live without me.” She moved into one of the chairs in front of his desk. “You’re a mess, Harry. What gives?”

He rolled his eyes. “Nothing, I’m just tired is all.”


He sighed, running his hands through his hair. “Jesus, Charlotte, don’t you have some work to do?”
She nodded. “I sure do. We have an event to leave for in an hour and you look like shit. It’s my job to fix that and make sure you show up looking like a Prince, and not like you were at an all-night party at university. So spill it and we will get you cleaned up so we can go.”

He looked at her for a moment before deciding she wasn’t going to give up. “Fine, you win. I hate you sometimes, you know that?”

Charlotte laughed. “And by that, you mean you love me all of the time.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” he shot back.

“You’re stalling, Wales. Spill it.”

He sighed again, leaning back in his chair. He didn’t know if he could find the words, but Charlotte was right and he knew it. He needed to get it out so he could move on with the rest of his day. He looked to the ceiling for a minute before finally shrugging and looking back at her.

“I can’t stop thinking about her,” he said simply.

Charlotte raised an eyebrow. “Alexandra Morgan?”

He nodded slowly.

Charlotte shrugged. “I’m not surprised.”

“You’re not…I’m sorry, did you just say you’re not surprised?”

She leaned forward in her chair, resting her elbows on the armrests. “Listen, I know you better than most people. I’ve never seen you react to someone the way you reacted to her. You could not keep your eyes off of her. It wasn’t like your normal thing where someone is there and willing and you do it just because you can. Beyond the fact that you think she’s gorgeous, which she is by the way, you actually liked her. No…that’s not the right word. You…connected with her.”

He raised his eyebrows. “You think so?”

“I know so; and so do you,” she responded firmly.

“Yeah, I suppose I do.” He stopped and took a deep breath. “So what do I do?”

“What do you do? Are you shitting me, Harry? You ask her out,” Charlotte said in disbelief.

“Come on, Charlotte. You know better than anyone that I can’t just go ask her out,” he said with a groan.

“And why not?”

He looked at her in disbelief. “Well first, she’s the founder of one of the charities I’m looking at being a Patron of; that’s huge conflict of interest.”

She shrugged. “So don’t become a patron. Lend your support, find her another patron. She doesn’t have to lose the benefits of your support. You know that even just a visit without your name being officially attached brings attention. If you don’t think you should visit, send Kate or Will. Hell, send any one of your family members. I’m the director of your charities, believe me, we can figure something out.”

He eyed her speculatively. “I still don’t know if it’s right, but fine, we will say that we can get around number one. Let’s talk about number two. She has a child, Charlotte.”

Charlotte narrowed her eyes. “If that is really one of your reasons, then you’re an asshole Harry.”

Harry threw his hands in the air. “You’re calling me an asshole? You know very well these are things I have to think about! That is something that just isn’t done in my family.”

“So? I’m pretty sure that has never stopped you before. And Jesus Christ, Harry, we are talking about a date. We aren’t talking about walking down the aisle tomorrow. Just ask her out and see where it goes. Believe me, even if she is crazy enough to say yes to you, any issues that would arise from her having a kid are years down the road.”

Harry leaned back in his chair and rubbed his hands over his face. “What if she says no?” he asked, his hands muffling the words.

Charlotte could hardly believe her ears. She threw back her head and laughed. “Who are you, and what have you done with my boss? Has that ever been something you’ve thought in your entire life? Harry, believe me, that woman was as captured by you as you were by her. If she says no, I’d be shocked. Besides, you’re pretty much the most persuasive person on earth, so I’m sure you’d find some sort of word magic to convince her.”

Harry chuckled. “Word magic?”

“Yes, word magic. You know what I’m talking about. So, we are agreed, then? You’re going to ask her out?”

“We haven’t agreed to anything. But thank you for kicking some sense into me,” Harry said, seeming to relax for the first time all morning. “Now, can you please help me fix this wrinkled mess of a suit?”


Alex was checking her shirt and slacks for lint for the fifteenth time when Mia came to tell her the cameras were there to start setting up upstairs.

“Fine, Mia. Show them up. I’ll be there in a minute. I just need to…make…sure…” she trailed off as she struggled to run her lint roller along her back.

Mia giggled. “Let me before you dislocate your shoulder,” she said. She walked over and took the lint roller from Alex, who shot her a grateful glance over her shoulder.

“Is there anything else we need to do?” Alex asked as Mia rolled non-existent lint from her.

“Nope, everything is taken care of. Are you nervous?” She finished with the lint roller and placed it back in Alex’s desk.

“I’m nervous about everything going well, yes. I’ve been on camera before and all that, so that doesn’t bother me,” Alex answered. She pulled the stack of papers she needed to handout to the media off of her desk, handing them to Mia.

“No, I mean about see Prince Harry again,” Mia asked, her voice dropping to a whisper as if she were sharing a secret.

Alex paused for a millisecond before shrugging her shoulders in perfectly practiced nonchalance. “Not at all. He was perfectly nice last week, and I’m sure he’ll be perfectly nice this week.”

“He liked you,” Mia said with a wink.

Alex rolled her eyes. “He has to act like he likes everyone; it’s part of his job.”

“You keep telling yourself that, boss lady. All I’m saying is that the front hallway wasn’t the private room you two thought you were in when all that hand kissing business went down,” Mia said smugly.

Alex spun around, her mouth dropping open. “You saw that?” she asked, her voice two octaves higher than usual.

Mia nodded. “I did. I felt it too.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that the heat in that room rose about five thousand degrees when he did that. I don’t know how you didn’t combust into flames. Personally, I had to go fan myself off,” Mia said with a dramatic flourish of her hand.

Alex felt the flush creep up the back of her neck at the thought of that moment in the hallway and fought to keep it down. No, she could not do this right now. She had a job to do and she wasn’t going to let Mia distract her with what most certainly nothing to dwell about.

“Mia,” she sighed. “It was nothing. He was being the charming prince he was trained to be, nothing more. Now, let’s go show those cameras where to go.”

Mia rolled her eyes but kept the cheeky smile on her face. She knew what she had seen. Her boss had captured the attention of Prince Harry and she had a feeling it was only the beginning.


Harry saw her waiting out front with her staff before the car even came to a stop. He took a deep breath, letting just how gorgeous she was wash over him. She was dressed in khaki slacks and black top, which was belted, showing off her tiny waist. Her hair was loose, but the very front was pulled back and pinned away from her face.

“Showtime,” Charlotte said with a grin as the car rolled to a stop. Harry nodded and took a deep breath. Once he stepped out of the car and into the view of the cameras he was on display and had to play his part.

One of the security team opened his door, allowing him to slide out of the car. He waved to the crowd gather, flashing them the lopsided grin that would inspire a million blog posts online. He saw security pull Charlotte’s door open out of the corner of his eye and she stepped out and immediately off to the side, always near for any assistance, but never in direct view of the cameras. She did her job well, and Harry was grateful.

Alex watched the fluid way the arrival unfolded with building anticipation. She had pushed thoughts of him into the farthest parts of her mind, but now that he was actually here, back in her presence, it all came crashing back down on her. After his quick wave to the crowd, he turned and his eyes caught hers. She tried not to linger on his face, but she couldn’t help it. She caught every single small motion he made when their eyes connected. She saw the corners of his mouth turn up, she saw the blush crawl slowly into his cheeks, and she saw the way his eyes flashed briefly as he took her in. She saw it and she knew she shouldn’t be taking those things in, but it seemed that for Alex, rhyme and reason flew right out the window whenever this man was in her presence.

As he greeted the staff one by one, she took long, deep breaths, keeping her outward appearance serene. Finally, he stepped in front of her. She looked up at him, meeting his blue eyes with hers. She smiled; taking great care to ensure it was a smile that was normal, friendly.

“Alexandra,” he murmured as he placed his hand out in greeting.

“Thank you for coming today, Harry,” she said softly in response, sliding her hand into his.

This was the moment, the slide of his skin against hers that was the telling moment. This was the moment that would tell each of them if what they felt one week ago was real. In that instant they both knew that they would either feel it or they wouldn’t. And as he smiled down into her face, his warm hand gripping hers, her eyes meeting his…they both knew it was very, very real.

She took a deep, shuddering breath as he released her hand, gathering all of her strength. “Shall we go in?” she asked brightly, sliding into the professionalism that they both needed.

“Please, lead the way,” he said, matching her demeanor as he followed her inside.

Of all of the pictures taken that day, the one of Harry’s face as Alex turned around to lead the group inside would be the one that was posted and re-blogged thousands of times all over the internet. It was a rare, genuine, elated smile. It lasted only a brief second; just long enough to be snapped by one lucky photographer. At the time, no one speculated that blonde in front of him was the reason for the smile, but in the future whenever Harry would see that picture in an article he would remember that moment. It was the moment the ball containing his future started rolling.