Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Twenty Five Part One

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so excited,” Harry laughingly told Alex as they waited for Alex’s brother to arrive at Heathrow. They were standing by baggage claim, ignoring the glances from curious onlookers, ignoring the camera phones taking pictures, and ignoring that there was a paparazzi photographer waiting outside by the parked Range Rovers waiting to get pictures of them coming out.

Alex rolled her eyes. “Of course you have. I was this excited when you came back from Afghanistan. You just surprised me early so I didn’t get the chance to get all jumpy and anxious.”

Harry grinned and put an arm around her shoulders, pulling her to his side. “You’re cute when you’re jumpy and anxious.”

Alex laughed, bumping her hip into his. “You’re cute when you admire my weird personality quirks.”

Harry smirked and leaned over so he was closer to her and lowered his voice. “You’re really cute when you do that thing with your tongue. You know where you…”

“Shut up right now, Henry,” Alex admonished, turning her face towards his. When she saw the tilt of his lips and the gleam in his eyes she couldn’t help herself and she laughed as he hugged her closer.

“How come you never chastise Emma like that?” Harry teased.

Alex snorted. “Because Emma knows how to behave in public.”

Harry’s retort was just about to leave his lips when Alex squealed and bolted from under his arm, having spotted her brother coming towards them. He chuckled and then followed behind her, watching with a smile as Alex ran towards a tall, broad shouldered man about Harry’s own height. Harry could tell right away he was Alex’s brother; they didn’t look exactly alike, but they had the same big smile and the same eyes.

“Matt!” Alex screeched just as she reached her brother, flinging herself into his arms.

“Oomph.” The breath left Matt’s lungs in a rush as Alex hit his chest, but he could care less. He wrapped his arms around his sister and pulled her into a tight bear hug. Alex clung to him tightly, having missed him terribly since she had seen him last Christmas.

Harry stood a few feet back, letting Alex and her brother have their moment, knowing how much he would miss his own brother were he to go so long without seeing him. After a few moments Matt looked up and caught sight of Harry, and grinned, setting Alex back on the ground and motioning towards the man standing a few feet from them.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us, Alex?” Matt asked, smiling softly at his sister and she wiped tears from her eyes.

“Oh yes, of course. Sorry,” she said with a laugh. She smiled sheepishly at Harry, who gave her a little shake of his head and a small smile to show that it wasn’t a big deal and then took a couple of steps forward, closing the distance between them. Alex immediately moved into Harry’s side, a fact that wasn’t lost on Matt at all.

“Harry, this is my big brother, Matt Emerson. Matt, this is my boyfriend, Harry Wales.”

Flashing a grin that clearly spoke of how happy he was to meet some of Alex’s family finally, Harry was the first to offer his hand, a reflex from so many years of royal duties. Matt flashed a matching smile and gave Harry a firm, strong handshake.

“It’s great to finally meet you, man. I’ve heard a lot about you,” Matt said.

“Well, that could be good or bad,” Harry joked, noting to himself that that Matt’s southern U.S. accent was much, much more prominent that Alex’s. “But yes, it’s great to meet you as well. Alex has had great things to say about you.”

Matt grinned and then turned to Alex. “You told him to say that didn’t you?”

Alex laughed. “No, I didn’t. He’s just that polite. You could learn a thing or two.”

Matt rolled his eyes and chuckled. “And here we go…”

“Come on, let’s go get your bags,” Alex said cheerfully in response.

“Bag. Singular. I’m a dude.” Matt quipped as the three of them turned towards the carousel.

“Ha. Ha,” Alex returned, wrinkling her nose.

“So what are the plans while I’m here?” asked Matt. “And where on earth is Emma? Why didn’t you bring her?”

Alex rolled her eyes. “Too many cameras. The first picture of her just got out last week. I’d like to keep them to a minimum.”

“Ah. Well, I guess they will get my ugly mug instead,” Matt grinned.

Alex laughed. “I hope you don’t crack too many lenses.”

Harry watched the two of them banter back and forth with a smile on his lips. Out of habit, he kept his hand at Alex’s back, but let the two of them have their time.

“So, yes. The agenda while you are here,” Alex began, her voice taking on the authoritative tone it always did when she was making or sharing plans. “Tonight we’ll hang out at my apartment. You’ll be able to get oriented with the time difference and all and hang out with Emma. She’s dying to see you, of course.”

“Of course,” Matt smirked.

“Then tomorrow tonight we’re going out with some of our friends and some of Harry’s cousins.”

“Zara and Mike and Beatrice and Dave,” Harry offered.

Matt thought for a moment. “Sorry man, I should have done my research. Are any of those people the ones who were at that tennis game with you?”

Harry chuckled. “No worries. No, that was my cousin Eugenie and her boyfriend. Eugenie is Beatrice’s sister. Dave is Beatrice’s boyfriend. Zara is another cousin and Mike is her husband…,” Harry trailed off with a grin. “Sorry, you’re never going to remember all of this are you?”

Matt laughed and reached over to clap Harry on the shoulder. “Nope. But thanks for trying.”

If Harry hadn’t been so good at putting a normal, relaxed face on in public, it would have been easy to see how nervous he had been to meet Matt. Besides Emma and Molly, it was the first of Alex’s family he had met, and it seemed that she was closer to her brother than anyone else. But when Matt reached over and clapped Harry’s shoulder, the familiarity of the gesture and the joking way the words came from Matt’s mouth struck a chord in Harry. He immediately felt at ease with Alex’s brother. It was strange, because that’s how it had been with Alex too. There wasn’t the normal stuff where Harry had to try to make someone feel relaxed and help them overcome their nervousness at his presence. They just fell into comfortable territory without all of the bullshit. He loved the normality more than he could ever express.

“No problem. You’ll meet them all tomorrow tonight anyway, plenty of time to get it all straight,” Harry responded.

“Great. What about the rest of the week?”

Alex jumped back in. “I have to work some, but I figured you could take Emma out a couple of those days and do some touristy things. But next weekend…” she stopped and threw a quick glance and a small smile at Harry, “we are going to go to a Polo match. Harry’s playing. Then we will drive over to Highgrove and stay a couple of days before you go back. Highgrove is Harry’s father’s country estate.”

Matt shrugged. “Sounds good to me. I’ve never been to a Polo match before, but hey, first time for everything. And you know I like the country, so a couple of days seeing what the English Countryside has to offer is fine by me.”

Alex clapped her hands together in excitement and Harry grinned at Matt’s easy going attitude. Then, the talk of the upcoming week was pushed aside as Matt’s bag came around. He grabbed it and then the trio, trailed by two of Harry’s Protection Officer’s, made their way out of the airport to the waiting cars. The one waiting paparazzi had multiplied into three waiting paparazzi, but thankfully they stayed back a bit. Matt’s carry-on bag and suitcase were loaded into one Range Rover and then the three of them climbed into the backseat of the other, with Alex in between the two of them.

“Do they follow you everywhere?” Matt asked both of them once they were safely inside of the cars and moving away from the airport.

Alex made a face. “They don’t follow you. They find you.”

Matt was on instant alert. “Do they find Emma?”

Harry spoke up, knowing how important it was that he show what he was doing to protect Emma. “No. They don’t find Emma. The one picture that was published was of me and Emma in Hyde Park last week, walking my brother’s dog. Because I was with her, they thought she was fair game. My office came down hard on the press. It was heavily suggested that they not photograph Emma at all, but were flat out told not photograph her without her legal parent present.”

Matt looked at Alex. “Are you good with that?”

Alex sighed. “I’m never okay with Emma’s face being everywhere. But…the paps have listened since then. They haven’t snapped a single picture of me when Emma is with me. Plus…”

“Plus what?”

Alex gave a shy smile and glanced at Harry.

“Oh, here we go…” Harry muttered, but his lips were titling up at the side and there was humor in his eyes.

“What?” Matt asked.

Alex glanced down at her lap, pulling slightly on the hem of her skirt before looking back up at Matt. “Women kind of went nuts seeing Harry with Emma. I mean, I don’t usually look at the blogs and stuff but my friend Mia showed me at work a couple of days after the picture was published. They loved him with her. Looooooved it.”

Harry groaned. “She thinks it’s cute that all these women think it’s cute.”

Matt raised an eyebrow. “That’s…odd.”

Alex shrugged. “I don’t care. They like seeing Harry with children. The fact that it was my child and they were fawning over how cute they were together…”

“Gave you a little bit of pride, did it?” Matt asked knowingly.

Harry snorted. “A little bit?”

“Alright, you two! I know it’s insane, but I can’t help it,” Alex finally said in exasperation.

Matt laughed. “I’ve missed picking on you.”

“It’s easy, isn’t it?” Harry chimed in.

Alex threw up her hands, sighed loudly, and then leaned back into her seat, where Harry’s arm immediately found home around her shoulders as he chuckled along with Matt. She looked up at Harry and he winked at her.

She rolled her eyes. “This is how it’s going to be all week, isn’t it? I should have never introduced you two.”


As Alex peeked around the door of Emma’s room she had to put her hand firmly over her mouth to stop the giggles from escaping her mouth.

Her older brother and her boyfriend were in the room with her daughter, having what they would later tell her was a very “manly” tea party.

But Alex witnessed the truth.

She saw the little plastic tiaras. She saw the feather boas. And she definitely saw how Emma made both Harry and Matt raise their pinky fingers in the air when they “drank” from their tea cups.

She wasn’t supposed to be in there, and certainly wasn’t supposed to be spying, so she stopped peeking and went back to what she was supposed to be doing, which was washing the dishes from their dinner.

She was just sliding the last plate into the dishwasher when she heard the movement in the doorway of the kitchen. She turned around and grinned when she saw Harry standing there, watching her with a smile on his lips.

“Didn’t anyone ever teach you that it isn’t polite to stare,” she teased him as she wiped her wet hands on a dishtowel.

He grinned at her words, at the throwback to their first date.

“That seems like so long ago, doesn’t it? Disney Princess movie night?” He remarked as he walked toward her.

She laughed. “It does sometimes. Others it seems like just yesterday. Where are Matt and Emma?”

“Emma’s wiped. Matt’s reading her a story,” Harry said softly as he moved in front of her. He leaned forward so his hands were on the counter on either side of her. Alex immediately moved her arms up around his neck, tilting her face to his.

“Thank you for today,” she murmured. Her lips were curved slightly, her eyes were bright, and her cheeks were flushed from the three glasses of wine she had consumed that night.

Harry almost groaned. “Don’t look at me like that, Alex.”

Her forehead knotted together. “Like what?”

“Like you want me to kiss you,” he whispered, he eyes darkening.

“I always want you to kiss me.” Her voice was soft, inviting.

He couldn’t resist her. He could never resist her. He was pulled to her…and so he went, dropping his lips to hers, pressing her into the counter with his hips.

She moaned.

He pressed harder.

And there they sat; on the edge of deepening the kiss and losing themselves in it or breaking it off, knowing it couldn’t go further than that tonight.

It was a double edged sword that neither of them could make the choice to pull out.


They jumped apart when Matt cleared his throat, both looking as guilty as teenagers.

Matt leaned against the door frame, his eyebrows raised. “Emma’s asleep.”

Alex laughed. “Thank you, Matthew.”

“No problem, Alexandra.”

Alex rolled her eyes when she realized that her brother wasn’t going to leave. He knew what he had interrupted and he was going to play the big brother card for all it’s worth.

“Why don’t you two go back into the living room? I’ll bring a bottle of wine and we can relax,” Alex said with a sigh.

“Actually,” Harry said, glancing at his watch. “It’s late and I have some work things tomorrow morning. I’m going to excuse myself and let you two catch up.”

Matt laughed. “I wasn’t trying to run you off.”

Harry grinned and shook his head. “I know, although I wouldn’t blame you if you were. I was planning to let you guys have some time to yourselves anyway.”

“Good deal. You’ll be back over tomorrow though right? And you’ll bring the Xbox?” Matt asked, as trace of excitement crossing his face at the thought of trying kick Harry’s ass at FIFA.

“Hell yeah, man,” Harry answered with a big smile.

Alex laughed. “You guys are terrible. Come on, Harry. I’ll walk you out.”

Harry went over and shook Matt’s hand, telling him once again how great it had been to meet him. Then Matt went back into the living room and Alex moved to the foyer with Harry to tell him goodnight.

After she had thoroughly kissed Harry goodnight and told him to think about that while he was sleeping alone tonight, bringing a groan and a dirty word from his lips, she pushed him out of the door with a wink and then she moved back into the living room to sit with Matt.

“Are you sure you don’t mind sleeping on the couch? You can always have my bed and I can go curl up with Emma?” she asked as she plopped down in a chair.

“Nah,” Matt said with a shake of his head. “The couch is good.”

Alex smiled. “Okay, as long as you’re comfortable.”

“I’ve slept on enough couches in my day,” he smirked.

“Oh God. I’m sure you have.”

Matt grinned, just staring at his sister for a few moments.

“What?” Alex asked. “Do I have something on my face?”

“Ha! Yeah…you do. It’s called being in love. It’s written all over your face.”

Alex blinked. “Well…I don’t usually hear you say things like that.”

“Well, I’ve never seen you like this.”

“What do you mean? You saw me with John…”

Matt shook his head. “No. This is nothing like with John. Sure, you loved him, but it was young, puppy love. The way you look at Harry, the way he looks at you…” Matt trailed off and took a deep breath.

“It’s intense,” Alex agreed. “It was intense from the start.”

Matt was quiet for a few moments. Alex could almost hear the wheels in his brain turning, processing, putting everything he had seen today together.

“I like him,” Matt said simply.

Alex took a deep breath at his words. It was his approval, his blessing, and it meant the world to her. She immediately reached over and hugged her brother, thanking him silently for it.

When she pulled back she grinned at him.

“What?” Matt said, his lips pulling up at the corners.

“He likes you too.”