Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Four

The buzzer rang at Alex’s apartment at 6 PM on the dot. She laughed to herself and then at her daughter, who was dancing around in her little mermaid costume, so excited that a real live prince would be joining them for Disney Princess night.

“Hello?” Alex said into the intercom.

“It’s Harry!”

“Come on up,” she said, holding down the button to release the lock on the door downstairs. A minute later, there was a soft knock at the door. Emma ran for it, but Alex stopped her.

“Emma, what did I say about opening that door?” Alex asked with her eyebrows raised.

Emma stopped in her tracks, looking up apologetically. “That even if I think I know who it is, I should never open the door. Only you and Granny can.”

“Correct,” Alex said with a smile. She checked the peephole and saw it was indeed Harry, standing there fidgeting with his shirt. There was a rather stoic looking gentleman behind him, which she assumed was his security officer. She unlocked the door, opening it up with a smile.

“Hi,” Harry said, smiling broadly at Alex. “Mind if my security guy takes a quick look around?”

“Hi yourself,” Alex said, matching his smile. “Not at all, come on in, both of you.” She stood back, holding the door open. The security officer stepped in and quickly made himself at home hunting through the rooms in her apartment.

“Harry!” Emma screeched, running forward and grabbing his hand, dragged him further inside.

Harry laughed, going along with her. “Hello, Emma. Or should I call you Ariel?” he asked, referring to her Little Mermaid costume.

Emma giggled. “No silly! I’m not really Ariel. It’s just dress up.” Alex stifled a laugh at how much “duh, Harry” Emma had in her voice.

“Ah! That’s just as well, Emma, you are much prettier than her anyway,” Harry said, ruffling her hair and not taking any offense to her sass.

Emma smiled prettily, loving the attention.

“Okay, Emma, go get the DVD ready while I finish dinner,” Alex said, pointing to the living room.

“Can Harry help me?” Emma asked hopefully.

“That is up to Harry. Ask him,” Alex said.

“Harry, can you please help me with the DVD?” Emma asked, turning her big blue eyes, so much like Alex’s, up to him.

He was a goner. “Of course, Princess, lead the way,” he said.

Emma grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the foyer and into the living room. He turned looked at Alex over his shoulder, shrugging his shoulders but smiling at being pulled away by her daughter. Right then the security officer came back through, nodding at her and letting Harry know all was good before slipping back out the front door.

Alex locked the door behind him and turned to watch Harry and Emma for a moment. She was amazed at just how comfortable she was with him being here in her apartment with her and Emma. She had dated very minimally since John died, and she had never invited any of those dates into her home, much less to meet her child. Yet, here he was. She barely knew him and he was here for one of the most sacred nights that existed for her and Emma. The thing was though, that it felt right, natural, to invite him. And Emma had just been so excited. She had liked Harry instantly when she met him, and when Alex told her he was coming to watch The Little Mermaid she had almost been beside herself. It was quite a thing to watch, something that Alex treasured.

Grinning, Alex turned into the kitchen to finish up dinner. She was just had the cut up hot dogs to add the mac and cheese when she heard the sound at the door way. She turned around, smiling when she saw him leaning against the door frame, watching her.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to stare?” she asked with a smirk.

He laughed. “Believe me, I was raised with impeccable manners, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.” He moved from the wall then, walking over to stand next her at the counter. “Homemade?” he asked her, gesturing to the mac and cheese.

She scoffed. “Of course; did you think I was going to make the box stuff? Disney Princess movie night is serious business.”

“You mean this isn’t just for me?” he asked, playing at being wounded.

She laughed, throwing him a look from the corner of her eye. “This was in the works long before you got involved, mister,” she told him smartly.

He paused for just a brief moment. “Well, I’m involved now,” he finally said in low, meaningful tone.

Her eyes snapped to his. “Are you” she asked softly.

He nodded. “I think so.” He reached up and brushed an errant strand of blonde hair from her forehead.

Her skin burned where his fingers brushed it. Her eyes searched his and she knew he was serious. She took a deep breath.

“Mummy! Harry! Come on!” shouted Emma from the living room, interrupting the moment.

Alex exhaled. “Okay. Well, time to get started. I’ve got a five year old in there to feed and entertain.”

“And a twenty-eight year old right here to feed and entertain,” Harry said, pointing at himself and chuckling.

“You might be easier to handle,” she said with a smile.

Harry laughed, throwing his head back. He loved how witty she was proving to be, how she wasn’t afraid to make fun of him. He had told her he was going to kiss her earlier today, and he still meant it. He was dying to kiss her. But, maybe even as much, he was looking forward to starting the process of getting to know her. He wanted to know about her life, her family, and her friends. He wanted to know the woman who raised Emma, a delightful, polite, funny child that he was sure picked up every one of those traits from her mother. And what was more than all that, he wanted her to know him. For someone who was as private has Harry had to be, that was huge. It was huge and scary and so exciting for him to feel that way.

Alex spooned out helpings for all of them into bowls, handing Harry his and carrying hers and Emma’s into the living room. “Tray, Emma,” she said to her daughter, who immediately went and pulled a tray from one of the drawers in the coffee table and then climbed up on the couch, directly the center, settling the tray on her lap. Alex had learned the hard way not to let Emma without that trusty tray. Cleaning up mac and cheese off cloth couch cushions was not her idea of a good time.

“Mummy, you sit here and Harry you sit here,” Emma said pertly, pointing to the cushions on either side of her.

“Yes ma’am,” Harry said, immediately taking his seat on one side of her.

Alex gave Emma her bowl and then picked up the remote, pressing play on the DVD player before sliding into her spot next to Emma. As soon as the familiar strains of The Little Mermaid filled the room they all dug in to their dinner. With Emma calm and occupied, Alex took her chance and glanced over to the man sitting to her right on the couch. It struck her then how odd it was that it didn’t feel a bit strange to have him here. Not only was there a man, a very attractive man no less, in her apartment, he was one of the most famous people in the world. On top of that, he was eating mac and cheese and watching a Disney movie with her and Emma like he had no where he would rather be.

He had just taken a big bite when he caught her looking at him out of the corner of his eye. She blushed at being caught, but didn’t look away.

The corners of his mouth turned up in a smirk as he swallowed his bite of food. “This is really good,” he said, pointing at the food in his bowl with his fork. “Much better than from the box.” He grinned at her, as cheeky as could be.

She couldn’t help the giggle that came bubbling out of her, but quickly clamped her hand over her mouth when Emma looked up her, annoyed at not being able to hear, and said, “shhhhh!”

“Sorry baby,” Alex whispered to her daughter, still fighting back the laughter.

And that is the way it continued through the whole movie. When they weren’t singing along to the movie with Emma they were throwing each other flirty glances and smiling like two teenage kids.

Alex felt like a giddy teenager.

Harry felt normal.

He was a goner.


When the movie rolled to credits, Alex looked down at Emma, who was dead asleep with her head in Alex’s lap. “I’m just going to take her to bed, I’ll be right back,” she whispered to Harry before gently picking up Emma and carrying her around the corner and down the hall to her room.

Harry watched her go and shook his head. He couldn’t believe how much fun he had just sitting her with both of them tonight. Admittedly, he loved kids, and Emma was fantastic, so that wasn’t a stretch; but Alex, she had been so flirty and beautiful without even trying. In jeans and a t-shirt, watching a kid’s movie, singing along with her daughter, she had in no way been trying to impress him, but she had…in a big, big way.

“Okay, she’s out for the count I think,” Alex said as she shuffled back into the living room. “She was so excited about you coming over. I think it wore her out early. I usually have to fight to get her in bed after movie night.”

Harry raised his eyebrows to her as she walked over to pick up the dinner dishes. “She was excited about me?”

“Oh, come on, a real live prince coming over to watch Disney with her? I think you helped her meet her biggest life goal at the age of five,” she said with a smile.

Harry couldn’t help but laugh as he stood up and reached for the bowls she had stacked.

She shooed him away. “No, no…I’ve got this. You sit. I’ll just go put these in the sink. I’m going to grab a glass of wine, would you like one?”

He smiled and nodded, relaxing back into the couch.

“Is white okay? I can’t drink red, it gives me migraines,” she asked as she was turning to leave the room.

“White works for me.”

“Great, be right back.”

Harry watched her go and then looked around the room. It was a cozy, warm apartment. It was all light colors, personal pictures, and little mementos on the shelves and walls. He smiled as he spotted an iPod sitting on an iPod dock on the built in bookcase. He got up and walked over to it, powering it on. He immediately turned the volume down low and scrolled through her music, smirking when he found one of his favorite songs. Somehow, he had known it would be there.

“Michael Buble,” she said as she walked back in, carrying two glasses of wine. “I love this song.”

He looked at her standing there smiling at him, and before he knew it, he was holding out his hand to her. “Dance with me?” he asked softly.

Her eyes widened. “Here? Now?”

He nodded slowly. “Yes, here. Now.”

He saw her gulp and then set down the glasses of wine on the coffee table. She moved toward him, her eyes locked on his, and slipped her hand in his. He immediately pulled her close, putting her hand on his shoulder and picking up the other, holding it to his chest. He snaked his other arm around her waist, holding her tight to him. She felt soft and perfect against him. With her big blue eyes wide and looking up at him, he had to fight to keep his breathing even, his body under control.

They stayed like that for a minute, just looking at each other and swaying gently to the music before Alex broke the silence.

“Harry…” she said breathily.

“Alexandra…” he responded.

“Are you going to kiss me now?”

He smiled, surprised and amused that she didn’t want to wait for him to make his move. “I think so, Alex. I mean, I’ve wanted to kiss you for a week. I don’t want to push you though. I know this is fast, we hardly know each other, but I want…”

“Harry,” she said, cutting him off.


“Quit making excuses.”

He laughed. And then, because she was right, he stopped making excuses.

The mood grew serious. The beautiful song he loved played softly in the background, filling the air around them.

So hold on to me tight…hold on, I promise it’ll be alright…cause it’s you and me together, and baby all we’ve got is time…so hold on to me tonight…

He pulled her a little tighter against him, and she went, leaning into him. She tilted her head up, and as he leaned down to her upturned lips, her eyes fluttered closed, followed by his. Then his lips captured hers, moving over them lightly, tenderly. He held tight to his control, even though all he wanted was to deepen the kiss and press her so close that she melted into him.

Alex, however, didn’t have any reservations. The thing about Alex was that however organized and carefully planned she kept her life, when she finally admitted to herself that she really wanted something, when something touched her deep down inside, she listened completely to her heart. She had done that with coming to London straight from high school, to an extent she had done that when she met John, she had done that when she found out she was pregnant with Emma; and now, she was going to do that with Harry. Sure, it made her nervous, but it didn’t scare her. Her heart had never been wrong.

Harry was gripping to his thin string of self-control with the kiss, but Alex went right ahead snapped it for him, leaning into him further, and opening her mouth slightly under his. Her tongue danced out just a little bit, a tease against his soft, full lips. Harry groaned low in his throat, his body reacting instantly to her. He opened his mouth over hers, his tongue dipping fully into her mouth to slide along hers. He forgot they were supposed to be dancing and let go of the hand he held against his chest, moving to put both his arms around her, hauling her tight against him. She responded in kind, whimpering a little bit as she wrapped both arms tightly around his neck. Her fingers slid into the hair at the base of his neck, pulling him down closer to her.

The kiss was everything both of them thought it would be and much, much more. Alex marveled at how good he tasted; how soft and sweet his mouth was against hers. She loved how tightly he held her, how she could feel exactly what she did to him pressed up against her stomach, and how he didn’t seem to care, wasn’t ashamed of it. Harry’s heart beat fast; the way her lips molded to him and the sweet slide of her tongue against his igniting a fire in his bloodstream. His hands moved up into her hair, angling her head, kissing her deeper, more passionately for a moment, before finally knowing his limits were about to be pushed.

He pulled away from her, with more regret than he could ever express, opening his eyes slowly and staring down at her. His breath caught in his chest. Her eyes were open, but barely. They were clouded and heavy. Her cheeks were rosy, her mouth swollen and her lips parted, allowing the deep breaths she was taking to pass through.

In that moment, he literally had no words.

Alex did. “Holy shit,” she murmured, her eyes widening as she absorbed what happened.

He laughed, really more of a gust of air expelling from his lungs. “Yeah, I’d say that’s an accurate statement.”

The song they had been dancing to ended, transitioning into something a little more upbeat, and Harry loosened his hold on Alex a bit, but not before bending to brush a small kiss against her lips.

“Okay…okay,” he said with a harsh breath. “I’d love to keep doing that all night, but I think we both know what would happen.”

She nodded, a small smile playing on her lips. “Why don’t we sit, drink our wine, and work on the getting to know each other part of this? You can ask me questions and I’ll ask you some, and then when it’s time for you to go, I promise I’ll let you kiss me like that again.”

He grinned. “That sounds like a plan.”

And so they sat, they their glasses of wine and they learned about each other. Harry was surprised to learn that she was from Texas, considering she had no southern accent. She explained that because she was from the city, Houston to be exact, the accent never really stuck with her.

She told him about her family; her parents were still married and she had one brother, Matt, who at 27 was older than her by a year. She missed them but considered London her home, especially after she had Emma.

Harry found out that John had died before Emma was born; as she had just barely found out she was pregnant when he got killed. John was an only child and his father had died early in his life, leaving his mother alone when her son died. Alex was determined that she would not take the only family that Molly knew away, so she stayed on in London. She visited the states during Thanksgiving every year with Emma, and during the summer she sent Emma to her parent’s for two weeks. Her parents visited with Matt every Christmas for a week.

In turn, he opened up about himself to her in a way that he only did with people whom he had known for a long time. He talked about his father and his step-mother, his brother and his sister-in-law, and the new baby that was due to make its appearance into the world in just a few months. He was thrilled at the thought of becoming an uncle, and couldn’t wait to spoil the heck out of the baby. He spoke of his military training, recounting to her his two tours in Afghanistan and how he would go back if given the chance, but he was almost one hundred percent sure that would never happen. He spoke of his charity work, and being able to make such a big difference in the world. It was one of things about being a royal that he would be eternally grateful for.

“Harry, I have a question. It may be something you can’t answer yet, or don’t want to, but it is something I need to know,” Alex asked after he finished explaining about founding his charity, Sentebale, and exactly what it meant to him.

His eyes widened, but he didn’t shy away. “You can ask me. I’ll be honest with you, Alex. I can always promise you that.”

She took a deep breath. “You aren’t going to become a patron for Healing Families Through Friends, are you?”

She saw the flicker in his eyes, the conflict that he had about that. Her face fell and his heart hurt for her. She was already giving up important things in her life for him, and he hated that. He shifted uncomfortably on the couch but never considered anything other than laying the truth flat out on the table for her.

“Alexandra, even if we were to stop this right now, which I do not want at all, I can’t be a patron, not now. I wanted to, please know that. I should have told you that before I came over here tonight. That was selfish on my part and I’m sorrier than I can say. I would refer my father, or Will or Kate to be a patron, but it would still be a conflict of interest. However, what I can do is make sure you still have the support your program deserves. I can still make visits, I can have others make visits, but I can’t attach my name to it officially,” he said. His voice was soft, hoping that eased the sting of it a little bit for her.

He saw the faint sheen of tears in her eyes, but she blinked them back. She sat quietly for a minute, and he could tell she was processing what he had just presented her with. Those few moments were tense. He was afraid she would tell him she wanted to stop and not see him again.

Then she surprised him by blinking up at him and then flashing him a small smile. “Okay. I’m happy with that. It means my program gets recognition…and it means I get to see you again,” she said sincerely.

He grinned. “Oh, trust me. You’ll be seeing me a lot. In fact, you will probably get sick of me, want to kick me to the curb, curse the day you met me, all of that.”

She shook her head, the corners of her mouth lifting. “I could never get sick of someone who kisses me like you kissed me earlier.”

He sucked in a sharp breath. He hadn’t expected that answer. “Are you sure? Cause there is a lot that goes with seeing me? I mean…”

“Harry,” she said, interrupting him. She scooted from her side of the couch to his, sitting on her knees facing him. He turned slightly so his upper body was all the way facing her. “Let’s not do that tonight. I’m smart and I’ve lived in England long enough. I know the basics.”


She held up a hand. “I know. You want to make sure that I fully understand. I get that too. Not tonight though, okay?”

“Okay,” he agreed after a moment. “Not tonight.” He reached up and grabbed the hand she still held up, tugging her to him so she was leaning forward on him, her chest pressed against his. She settled there gladly, amazed at how comfortable she was with this.

He leaned forward and kissed her lips softly, happy just to settle there for the moment. She sighed into him, bringing her arms up around his neck. He couldn’t help but deepen the kiss when she did that, moving his hands up to cup her face as he opened his mouth over hers. It was a long, slow, sweet kiss, their tongues sliding gently together, learning the feel of each other.

Eventually Alex pulled back, looking up at him with soft, languid eyes. “Harry…” she murmured.

“Hmmmm?” He leaned down for her lips again.

“It’s late,” she whispered against his mouth.


“I have to get up early.”

He chuckled. “Are you kicking me out?”

She smiled up at him. “Absolutely not; I’m waiting for you to excuse yourself like a gentleman.”

He laughed, his head falling back against the couch cushion. “Point made. Yes, Miss Morgan, I suppose I should be going now. Can I call you tomorrow?”

“You better,” she said.

He chuckled and dropped one more kiss on her mouth before leaning both of them up. He stood up from the couch and she followed.

“Walk me to the door?” he asked, taking her hand.

She smiled and nodded, letting him lead her into the foyer. At the door he turned and gathered her into his arms one more time, leaning down and kissing her softly.

“Tomorrow,” he whispered.

“Tomorrow,” she replied.

When he turned and slipped out of the door, she locked it solidly behind him before turning and leaning against it. She couldn’t help the smile that spread across her face as she took a deep breath, absorbing the moment.

The smile remained as she moved to clean up their wine glasses. She made her way around her apartment, turning off all of her lights and then going to change into her comfy PJs. She slipped into bed and was sure she wouldn’t be able to sleep, but when her head hit the pillow and her eyes closed, she instantly drifted off, dreaming of tomorrow.