Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Twenty Five Part Two

“See, it’s the fact that you call it soccer and not the proper term of football that ensures that you will never beat me at this game.”

Harry and Matt had been locked in battle on the Xbox for over an hour. Harry was undeniably better at the game, although if he was honest, Matt was certainly giving him a run for his money. However, being incredibly competitive by nature, he wasn’t about to say that out loud.

Matt scoffed. “We only call it soccer because isn’t not manly enough to be called football.”

“Oh? You mean as opposed to American Football, which actually has almost next to nothing to do with feet?”

“We wear helmets. Manly,” Matt retorted, tapping his head to prove his point.

“Oh-kay,” Alex groaned, interrupting them. “I can’t listen to this anymore. I’m going to get ready for tonight. You boys have fun.”

She stood from her chair and put her Kindle on the end table before moving in front of the two of them on her way from the living room.

Harry looked at his watch. “We’ve got two hours.”

Alex laughed. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I use all that time wisely.” She laid her hand gently on Harry’s shoulder as she passed, offering him a wink when he looked up at her. He grinned and she moved off, letting the boys have their time. Emma was already at Molly’s for the night, so she knew as soon as she left the room they were going to get really into the nitty gritty of the game.

Sure enough, she hadn’t even made it down the hallway to her room when she heard the game start up again and the first curse word flew out of Matt’s mouth.

She couldn’t help but laugh.

*****************

“Knock, Knock,” Harry called into Alex’s room as he pushed the door open an hour and a half later.

“I’m in my closet,” she called back to him. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

“Okay. I’m just coming in to change,” he said, walking in with his garment bag. He shut the door behind him and went and laid his bag on the bed. He made quick work of getting changed; quickly getting out of his casual jeans and t-shirt and into a pair of beige slacks and white button down.

He was almost dressed, his belt was buckled, his shoes were on his feet, and he was just sliding on his jacket when Alex stepped from the closet.

Harry froze.

“Fuck.” The word tumbled from his mouth before he could stop it.

Alex bit her lip, fighting a smile born from pride at his reaction. “You like?”

A slow, sly grin spread across his lips as he recovered his motions, pulling his suit coat the rest of the way on, adjusting his broad shoulders in it. He surveyed her with appreciative eyes; the black shorts that showed off her fantastic legs, belted high on her waist where it met a black lacy top covering a light pink camisole underneath. Her hair was curled and one side was pulled back from her face. Her makeup wasn’t heavy, but it was just smoky enough, just sexy enough, to highlight her features perfectly.

“Alex…fuck…you know I do. You know you look…” he trailed off, not being able to find the right word.

“Nice?” she offered with a small, playful smile.

He smirked. She was teasing him. She knew that he thought that she looked much more than nice.

“Are you fishing for compliments, Alexandra?” He cocked an eyebrow.

She walked toward him, her heels clicking on the hardwood floor. He couldn’t help as his eyes trailed down her body as she came closer, stopping to focus for a moment on her legs, looking long and lean against the silky material of her shorts.

“I don’t know Captain. What don’t you throw out some bait and we will see?”

Harry laughed and his eyes danced at her sass. It seemed that dressing up seem to bring it out even more than normal. He reached for her waist and pulled her up against him. “How about…”

His hands slide down from her waist, around to her backside, his fingers hot through the thin material covering her. She gasped at the contact.

“How about it’s going to take an act of Parliament to keep my hands off your ass tonight?”

“An act of Parliament or the fact that my brother will be with us,” Alex giggled.

Harry groaned. “Yeah, there’s that.”

Alex stuck her bottom lip out in a mock pout. “You poor baby.”

“Hmmm…” He leaned closer to her. “So do I get to stay over tonight? I missed you last night.”

“I missed you too,” she said softly, wrapping her arms around his neck. “But no; not with Matt here.”

“Come on…” It was Harry’s turn to pout. “I want to be with you tonight, baby. Besides…”

“Besides what?”

Harry shrugged. “We do it when Emma is here.”

Alex scoffed. “Yeah, when she’s dead asleep; and even then we have to lock the door and be quiet. And she doesn’t even know what we are doing in here. Matt would know.”

Harry grinned. “Alex, you have a kid. I’m pretty sure your brother knows that you’ve…”

“Nope,” Alex said quickly, moving a hand from around his neck and holding it up in front of her. Her cheeks flushed red with embarrassment. “Don’t even say it.”

His lips pulled up at the corners. His eyes gleamed. “I’m sure he even suspects that we might even…I mean, he did walk us on in the kitchen last night.”

“Harry…”

“Yes baby?”

“It’s not going to happen.”

He laughed. “I know, love. And you know I’m okay with that, right?”

She grinned. “I do.”

He winked at her, dropped a quick kiss to her lips, and then gave her ass a firm smack, making her squeal. “Come on, Alexandra. Let’s get this show on the road.”

*****************

“So, do you get driven everywhere?” Matt asked Harry as they all slid into the waiting Range Rover.

Harry shrugged. “Mostly. Every once in a while, if I’ve been behaving, I’ll get a turn at the wheel here in the city. In the country though, I get quite a bit more freedom.”

Matt nodded. “It’s nice in theory, but constricting in reality, huh?”

“I’d say that’s a fair statement,” Harry said with a smirk. It amazed him how perceptive both Alex and Matt were.

The drive to the club was quick as it wasn’t far from Alex’s apartment. Zara called Harry while they were on their way and told him that her and Mike were already there, and judging from the paps already gathered near the entrance when they arrived, someone had tipped the press off when they saw Mike and Zara go inside. If there was even a chance that Alex and Harry could be there the press were all over it. It seemed that tonight was their lucky night.

As Harry had already given Matt the rundown on how to handle the paps in this situation, they were all prepared. With deep breaths they all exited the car, Harry first, holding on to Alex’s hand, followed by Matt with his hand at his sister’s back. They were in the club in seconds with only a few bright spots hanging in their vision.

Harry turned to Alex and Matt as soon as they were inside and away from the public eye. “You okay?” he asked both of them.

“Fine,” Matt said with a nod.

“Alex?” Harry asked, his eyes soft as they searched hers.

She smiled and squeezed his hand. “I’m great.”

The tension visibly left Harry’s shoulders and his playful smile was firmly back in place. “Fantastic.”

A club hostess appeared then to show them to the VIP area, confirming that Zara and Mike were already there waiting. When they arrived at the table Mike and Zara both stood up with friendly smiles and Harry made quick work of introducing everyone.

Alex and Zara were the last to be introduced and Zara immediately pushed the boys out of the way, giving Alex a big hug and an even bigger smile.

“I’m so glad I finally get to meet you,” Zara said excitedly when she pulled back. “I was beginning to think you must be a figment of my cousin’s imagination until I met that adorable tyke of yours the other day.”

“Hey now,” Harry called from the table, where he was pulling a beer from the bucket there. “What’s this I hear about a figment of my imagination?”

Zara rolled her eyes and ignored him.

Alex laughed. “No, I’m afraid I’m very much real. And thank you for giving Emma a riding lesson last week. That was so sweet of you and she hasn’t stopped talking about it. I think I’m going to start her on lessons soon.”

The two ladies moved into the booth then, leaving the boys to their own devices.

“No, no…let me work with her,” Zara said quickly as she arranged herself in the booth. She turned and smiled at Alex. “I mean, if that’s okay with you?”

Alex grinned. “Really? I mean, that would be wonderful. Emma would just love that.”

“Fantastic,” Zara said as she clapped her hands together. “She a natural on a horse, Alex.”

“Well, I’m glad,” Alex said with a laugh. “Because I’ve had her in dance lessons and I think she has been giving her instructor some major anxiety. Last week I was early to pick her up, so I slipped in to watch the end of the class. And there was my daughter, hanging upside down on the bars while the other girls were daintily pointing their toes.”

Zara cracked up at the image, drawing the attention of the boys.

“What?” Mike asked, his eyes moving from his Alex to his wife.

Zara winked at him. “Nothing, babe. Just go back to trying to convince our new American friend that Rugby is better than American Football.”

Mike flashed a crooked grin at his wife and then did as he was told, drawing the men back into a heated debate.

It wasn’t too long after that before Beatrice and Dave arrived and joined the group. After being introduced to Matt they took their places, Dave sliding in beside Harry and Bea moving to slide in beside Zara, moving Alex further towards the center of the booth.

“Where’s Charlotte?” Bea asked as she set her clutch down on the table.

“She texted me and said she would be here in about ten minutes,” Alex said.

“Great,” Bea said excitedly, doing a little happy dance in her seat.

As the conversation continued around the table for the next few minutes, Alex couldn’t help but sit back and watch for second, taking it all in.

Her life had completely changed in the past six months. She had been content before, when it was just her and Emma, but now…now she had Harry and everything that he brought to her life with him. His family had welcomed her, brought her in, and she felt so at ease with all of them around her. For the first time in a very long time her life felt…full.

She looked up and glanced at Harry then and smiled softly when she realized that his eyes were already trained on her, a soft, proud smile on his lips as if he could read her thoughts. She smiled right back at him, holding his heated gaze with hers.

“Sorry everyone!”

Charlotte’s voice broke their moment as she called out to the group, hurrying to the table. “I couldn’t get out of work.”

“You had to work on Saturday?” Mike called out.

Charlotte rolled her eyes and looked pointedly at Harry. “Yeah, my boss is a real asshole.”

“Hey,” Harry said, pointing the neck of his beer bottle at her. “I pay you a fuck-ton of money. Suck it up.”

“True,” Charlotte said with a shrug as she slid in the booth next to Bea, pushing the other girls further in. Alex moved over closer to Matt to make room. She grinned up at her brother and bumped her shoulder into his as she moved in next to him.

“So she works for Harry?” Matt asked, nodding slightly towards Charlotte.

Alex took a sip of her drink and nodded. “She does. She’s in charge of his charities.”

Matt grinned and leaned a little bit closer. “She’s hot.”

Alex laughed and patted his arm. “Yeah, good luck with that.”

“Well, the least you could do would be to introduce me.”

“Sorry, you’re right,” Alex said with a shake of her head before she turned away from Matt. “Charlotte,” she called across the table.

Charlotte turned and smiled at her. “Alex, you look stunning.”

“You know,” Alex said with a small laugh, “for such a sarcastic bitch, you sure are heavy with the compliments.”

Charlotte winked at her. “Only for people I like…or if I’m trying to get money out of them for your boyfriend over there.”

“Anyway,” Alex drawled out. “Charlotte, this is my brother Matt,” she motioned next to her. “And Matt, this is my dear friend Charlotte.”

**************

“Now, what are you doing over here all by yourself?” Alex asked Harry as she slid into the empty booth next to him. She looked up at him, loving the way he looked right now; eyes slightly fuzzy, and cheeks slightly flushed from the alcohol.

“I’m watching,” he said. She leaned into him and he wrapped his arm around her. His thumb immediately began stroking her shoulder, making goosebumps appear on her soft skin.

“Watching what?”

“You…mostly.”

“Ha. Mostly? What else has captured your attention?” Alex teased.

He grinned and motioned with his beer bottle to the bar to the right of them.

She followed his line of sight and her eyes crinkled together in confusion. “Matt and Charlotte?”

He nodded. “I think your brother is trying to get lucky.”

Alex giggled. “He did say she was hot.”

“I think you’re hot,” Harry murmured in her ear. One of his hands slid over to her bare thigh and he squeezed it in his palm.

She reached up and ran her fingers down the lapel on his jacket, tugging slightly and pulling him closer to her. “I think you are…unf.”

He laughed. “More than Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing?”

She nodded slowly.

His eyes glanced towards the bar again. “So what are your odds?”

She blinked, confused. “What?”

“What chance do you think that Matt will convince Charlotte to take him home?”

Alex rolled her eyes. “Charlotte is not going to take my brother home.”

Harry raised his eyebrows. “Really? How much do you want to bet?”

“Five pounds?” she said playfully.

Harry shook his head, laughing lightly. “Alex, come on. Five pounds? How about this? If Matt goes home with Charlotte, then I get to go home with you.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “And if he doesn’t?”

He shrugged. “Then I don’t; same as before.”

She grinned. “As much as I would love to have you at my apartment tonight, Wales; you aren’t going to win this one. There is no way…”

“Actually…” Harry drawled, interrupting her. He motioned with his head towards the bar where Matt and Charlotte had been standing.

Alex turned, her eyes searching for them. “They aren’t there. Where’d they go?”

“They walked out the door together two minutes ago.” Harry grinned. It was full of cockiness and a hint of the pride that comes with winning.

Alex turned and caught his grin. “You are such a shit.”

Harry shouted with laughter and he hugged her closer.

“And I love you too, Alexandra.”

*****************

The next morning Alex was in her kitchen with Harry, still in pajamas, still with mussed hair and satisfied smiles from the night before, when they heard the front door open and close.

Matt appeared in the doorway shortly after, wearing much the same look has Harry and Alex.

“Good morning, Matthew,” Alex smirked, folding her arms over her chest.

Matt grinned and came and sat down at the table, pouring himself some coffee from the carafe Alex had placed there. “Howdy.”

Harry snickered into his coffee cup. “He said ‘Howdy’; it must have been a good night.”

Alex groaned and rolled her eyes. “You two are ridiculous.”