Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Eighteen


Alex could hardly believe the company she and Emma were keeping.

She looked around the giant family room of William and Kate’s Kensington apartment at all of the women who had joined for Beatrice’s slumber party.

Emma and Harry’s little cousin Louise were sitting with Beatrice. Emma was painting Beatrice’s fingernails while Louise went to town on her toenails. The two young girls were putting a different color on each nail, with plans to add sparkles and all kinds of crazy things. Emma was in Heaven and was charming the pants off of Bea, who was game to let the two girls do anything they wanted with nail polish.

Charlotte had taken Mia under her wing and currently had her sitting on one of the big couches with Eugenie. All three of them were chatting excitedly, and Alex was proud of Mia for holding her own amongst everyone. Mia had been dead nervous when Alex picked her up for the night, but Charlotte had really helped, and now it seemed she had adapted well to the situation.

As Alex sat in on of the big chairs off to the side, sipping a cup of tea and happily observing, she saw Kate coming towards her from the corner of her eye and turned her head to her, smiling shyly as Kate moved closer and then lowered herself down into the matching chair beside her. Her belly was getting big, being seven months pregnant, and it was getting harder to maneuver around with it.

“I remember those days, when it seems like you can’t move an inch with your belly getting in the way,” Alex commented with a small smile, gesturing towards Kate’s bump.

Kate groaned. “Tell me about it. Two months to go and I can’t even imagine getting bigger than this.”

“Oh, you will,” Alex chuckled. Her eyes drifted towards Emma, smiling as her daughter cracked up laughing at something Bea said. “But it is so worth it.”

“Can I ask you something, Alex?” Kate asked, her voice lowering a little bit.

Alex turned her eyes towards Kate, giving her full attention to the beautiful brunette next to her. “Anything,” Alex answered.

Kate bit her lip. “Were you very nervous about having Emma? I mean, you were so young and you’ve done such a great job. I’m thirty-one and I feel like I still don’t have the life experience I need to become a mother.”

“I was nervous,” Alex said with a smile. “But you find it is one of those things that you just figure out. I’m sure you’ll be an excellent mother.”

Kate nodded and then seemed to realize something. Her eyes snapped to Alex’s and she had a look of pure embarrassment on her face. “Here I am going on about being nervous and your situation was so different than mine. I have no reason to be nervous compared to you. I feel terrible that I even…I mean, you…”

Alex laughed and waved a hand in the air as Kate trailed off. “No worries, Kate. Yes, my situation was different. I had lost my husband and I was young, but I had my family around me for support and I knew that Emma would never want for anything as long I had my parents and John’s mother. Besides, I would imagine that no matter what your circumstances, becoming a mother for the first time is always nerve wracking.”

Kate smiled at Alex then; a true, friendly, appreciative smile. “Emma is lucky to have a mother like you,” she said with a wink.

“I’m lucky to have a daughter like Emma,” Alex replied with her own wink.

“Do you hope to have more children someday?” Kate asked.

Alex was a little surprised by the direct line of questioning, but then again, it went along with the rest of the tendencies that she had seen so far within this family. She wondered if Kate was like that before she joined the family or if that was an acquired trait.

“I would like to have more children…eventually.” She threw a meaningful look at Kate who laughed and held up her hands in front of her.

“Hey, you won’t get any pressure from me,” she chuckled before pointing a finger at herself. “Thirty-one remember? I’m also the woman who was on ‘bump-watch’ from the second I got married.”

Alex crinkled her nose. “That has got to be so odd.”

Kate shrugged. “It is what it is. William and I always had a plan and none of the close up pictures, or articles questioning my weight or fertility ever factored into that plan. You can never ignore it, but you learn how not to let it affect you.”

Alex absorbed that for a moment before turning back to Kate. “Why does it feel like you’re giving me advice?”

Kate shrugged innocently and then pushed herself up into a standing position. She clapped her hands and said loudly, “Alright ladies, who wants to make sundaes?”

Alex laughed and stood as well, moving to join the other ladies who all filed into Kate’s huge kitchen to make ice cream sundaes. Alex spotted her daughter, the shortest of the bunch, peering over the counter on the big island in the middle, her eyes wide at the plethora of ice cream and toppings spread out before her. She walked over and grabbed Emma from behind, tickling her slightly and loving the little squeal it caused, before hoisting her up onto one of the barstools so that she could see.

“Mummy, what can I have on my ice cream?” Emma asked.

“Anything you want, Em,” Alex responded. “It’s a slumber party so you can have whatever toppings you want. The only rule is that you can’t get more than you think you can eat. You don’t want to waste it, right?”

“Right,” Emma responded with a bob of her blonde head.

“Hey Emma,” Beatrice said, coming to stand next to her. “Want to make our sundaes together? I’ll bet you are the best sundae maker in England. I need a professional to show me what is good.”

Alex had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing as Emma immediately took over the sundae making situation. Her little bossy little girl directed the entire room on how to go about making sure everything was done properly.

When Kate tried to add her chocolate fudge before any of her toppings, Emma shook her finger at the future Queen Consort of The United Kingdom and said, “No, you put the fudge on at the end so all of your toppings are covered with it too.”

When Charlotte tried to steal a third scoop of ice cream when no one was looking, Emma caught her with her eagle eye and called her out. “Charlotte, why are you trying to sneak more ice cream? If you want it, just get it; but only if you’ll really eat it. You can’t waste it.”

When Eugenie wanted to gummy bears and M&Ms on her sundae, Emma just simply looked at her with a horrified face and said, “Ewwwwww.”

What was endearing to Alex was not only that these ladies just simply laughed and played along with her sassy, bossy daughter, it was that they liked how sassy and up front she was…because they were all like that…they were like her.


A few hours later, once Emma and Louise had overcome the ice cream sugar high and were safely tucked into one of the guest bedrooms, the adult ladies convened together back in the family room and were doing their best to make it through as many bottles as possible of Kate’s wine collection.

“So, Alex,” Charlotte announced. She took a big gulp of her wine before continuing. “What do you think so far of all of this?”

“All of what?” Alex responded before taking a sip out of her own glass.

Charlotte gestured around her. “All of it. Dating Harry, the palaces, the family…” she smirked and then winked at the other girls.

Alex grinned. “Well…dating Harry is…amazing. As for the palaces, I’ve only been to this one and…” she trailed off and shrugged. “It’s alright, I guess.”

A giggle went through the room at her words and Alex sank back further in her chair as she pondered the last part of Charlotte’s question. “As for the family…all I can say is that everyone has been more welcoming than I could have ever imagined…” she twirled her wine glass in her hand and looked down for a moment, trying to keep the emotions in check. This was supposed to be a fun night after all, not a night for tears. When she raised her eyes back up they were watching her, all with smiles on their faces, waiting for her to finish.

“Before Harry…I had very few people in my life that I would call friends. Some might balk that the friends I have now are all my boyfriend’s family and friends, but I just… I think that shows how wonderful and accepting the people in his life are.” She smiled shyly at them when she finished.

Charlotte sighed and drained her wine. “Jesus Christ Alex, you are such as sap.”

“You asked the question!” Alex cried, laughing as she pointed a finger at Charlotte. The others in the room were giggling, while Charlotte fought to hold back her smile. She really loved this back and forth that they played at, though she would never admit it to anybody.

“And I had high hopes that you would have picked up on some of my amazing sense of humor by now and given us some smart ass answer, not douse us in your sugary sweetness,” Charlotte tossed back.

Alex nodded, tilting her glass in Charlotte’s direction as if conceding a point. Then she looked at Charlotte and her eyes narrowed, remembering a little piece of information Charlotte told her months ago.

“What?” Charlotte asked with her eyebrows raised.

Alex glanced around the room at the other ladies. Kate and Mia were completely enthralled with the conversation, watching the back and forth between them with wide eyes and laughter on their lips. Bea was leaning on Eugenie, her hand covering her mouth. Eugenie winked at Alex, clearly encouraging Alex to keep on going.

“Charlotte…do you remember at the event at Nobu when you were describing to me how you could never find Harry attractive except for that one…”

“STOP!” Charlotte shouted with wide eyes.

Alex’s hunch had been correct.

“…Except for that one time you kissed him when you were sixteen.”

“Shut up!” Eugenie squealed from the couch. “You kissed Harry?!”

Bea, clearly drunk, had dissolved into giggles and fallen backwards on the couch.

Charlotte groaned and rolled her eyes. “Come on, guys. I was sixteen…and drunk…and…”

“And you kissed Harry!” Eugenie squealed again. “Oh, my life is complete.”

Kate sat forward a touch. “Excuse me, why it so hilarious that Charlotte kissed Harry?”

“Because Charlotte has sworn on her life for many, many years that she has never and will never find Harry attractive,” Bea pitched in, her voice muffled by the hands over her face.

“How could you not find Harry attractive?” Mia pitched in out of nowhere; drawing looks from around the room. She blushed bright red when she realized what she said and immediately looked at Alex.

Alex grinned at her and shrugged. “My point exactly. How could you not find Harry attractive?”

Eugenie cleared her throat and motioned at her and her sister. “We don’t. But it would be quite gross if we did.”

“And I don’t,” Kate said with her hand raised. “But that’s because I clearly have the more handsome brother.”

“Well, we will just agree to disagree,” Alex said, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes.


Alex awoke earlier the next morning than she had wanted to and despite the incredibly comfortable bed she was in she just couldn’t get back to sleep. Reluctantly she slid out of the bed and tied her robe around herself. Then she quietly moved from her room and down to the kitchen to get some water as her throat was incredibly dry from all of the wine she drank the night before.

She had just pulled the cold bottle of water from the fridge and was already gulping it down when the voice startled her from the doorway.


Startled, she quickly turned around and almost dropped the bottle of water.

Standing there was William, Harry’s brother. He was fully dressed in a suit and tie, leaving her feeling at a distinct disadvantage in her robe and pajamas.

“Hi…um…hello,” she stopped and shook her head. “Sorry, you startled me. I’m Alex.”

He smiled knowingly and moved towards her from the doorway. “Yes, I know. I recognized you from the video of the event that Harry attended at your organization. It’s lovely to finally meet you. I’m William, but please call me Will.” He held out a hand as he approached which she took, returning his firm handshake.

“It’s lovely to finally meet you as well. I’ve heard so many great things about you from Harry,” she said with a shy smile.

“Ha! Now I know that must be a lie,” he responded cheekily.

She immediately felt more relaxed at his joke and shrugged her shoulders slightly. “Well, that’s what he told me to tell you when I met you.”

William chuckled and nodded. “That sounds more like it.” He checked his watch and then looked back up at Alex. “I stayed at Clarence House last night to give you ladies the run of the place. I just stopped in to say good morning to Kate before I run off to a breakfast meeting, but I have a few moments. Would you like to sit and talk for a bit?” He motioned towards the informal kitchen table.

“That would be great,” Alex said with a smile.

William nodded and then motioned for her to lead the way. She stepped in front of him and made her way to the table, settling down in a chair and taking a small sip of her water as he unbuttoned his suit jacket and sat.

“I spoke to Harry last night,” William said with a grin.

Alex’s eyes widened. “You did? How is he?”

“He’s good. He’s officially halfway through deployment. I think he’s glad it’s moving so quickly. He’s anxious to get home,” William said with a pointed look at her.

Alex sighed. “I think we are all anxious for him to come home. I’ve never forgotten that I’m not the only one he left here, I hope you know that,” she said softly.

He gave her a warm smile. “I don’t doubt that.”

Kate came padding into the kitchen then, the surprise registering on her face when she saw her husband and Alex at the table.

“Well, hello,” she said with a sleepy smile.

“Ah! My love,” William said, standing to go to his wife. He kissed her quickly, placing a hand on her belly as he did so. Alex smiled at that, the sweetness between them.

“I stopped by to say good morning to you and I ran into this young lady here, so I stopped to have a little chat. Did you know that this is Harry’s girlfriend?” he asked, playing like he was shocked.

Kate groaned. “It’s too early in the morning for your humor.”

Alex smiled to herself and then stood. “I think I’m going to try to go back to bed for a bit. You know, sleep off the rest of last night’s wine.”

Kate nodded her understanding and William moved to shake her hand again.

“It was great to finally meet you, Alex,” he said warmly. “I hope we can visit again soon.”

“I would like that very much,” Alex responded. When William dropped her hand she moved from the room to give the married couple a little bit of alone time that morning. She offered Kate a small wave and smile and then padded back down to the bedroom she was assigned to.

She realized as she closed her eyes she felt more at ease than we she had first woken up. William had spoken to Harry, he was safe, and that part of her brain that was constantly worried for him was appeased for the moment.

And as she drifted off, she was comforted by the fact that there was just two months more to go. They had made it halfway and could start the downward slope to the finish.