Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Thirty Part Two

“Hello? Are you ready?” Harry yelled as he knocked on Zara and Mike’s closed bedroom door, where Alex was currently getting ready for their dinner. Zara was in there with her, doing God knows what. “I’ve left your daughter alone with Mike, so you better hurry at least for her sake!”

The door swung open and Zara stood there with a hand on her hip. “Henry.”

“Zara,” he responded, his lips twisting at the exasperated look on her face.

“Can I help you?”

“Well, considering my girlfriend is in there with you and I’m due to be taking her to dinner any minute now, I’d like for you to stop holding her hostage.”

Zara laughed. “I am in no way ‘holding her hostage’ Harry. She’s getting ready and I’m having a little chat with her while she does. Don’t rush her. Don’t you want her to look beautiful?”

“She always looks beautiful,” Harry responded with a grin.

“She can’t hear you,” Zara laughed.

“Ha! I didn’t say it so she’d hear it. Although, if you bring her out I’ll tell her myself.”

“She doesn’t have to bring me out, I’m ready,” Alex called, coming into view behind Zara.

Harry’s jaw dropped. “Holy shit.”

The blue cocktail dress she was wearing fit her like it was made for her. It was sexy without showing anything off and it highlighted her blue eyes and fair skin perfectly. Her hair was pulled back and her jewelry was minimal, just enough to add a little something to the beautiful dress.

“See. Told you she was getting beautiful,” Zara said with a wink towards Alex.

“Go away, Zara,” Harry tossed out playfully, keeping his eyes trained on his stunning girlfriend.

“Is it too much?” Alex asked, biting her lip as she watched Harry devour her with his eyes. She laughed when he didn’t answer her.

“I’m sorry…what?” he asked, his eyes snapping up to hers.

Zara rolled her eyes. “For heaven’s sake. You’re too busy ogling to even listen to her.”

Harry turned and looked at his cousin and his lips tugged at the corners. “I thought I told you to beat it.”

“No way. I’m not leaving you two alone in my bedroom.”

Alex laughed and moved forward then, pressing a kiss to Zara’s cheek and telling how much she enjoyed talking to her while she was getting ready. Then with a wink at Harry she took his hand and let him from Zara and Mike’s room, Zara following out and closing the door behind her.

The three of them moved downstairs and into the game room where they were greeted by Emma with a tube of bright red lipstick in hand, applying it carefully to Mike’s pursed lips.

Alex shrieked in laughter, clapping her hand over her mouth to try and cover it, even though it was too later. Harry’s eyes went wide and his shoulders immediately started to shake with laughter. And Zara simply shook her head, as if she was completely used to this type of behavior.

“Auntie Mike wanted a make-over,” Emma said proudly as she grabbed ahold of Mike’s face and turned it towards to group to show off her creation.

“Auntie Mike?” Alex squealed, breaking into another round of giggles and turning to press her forehead to Harry’s shoulder in an effort to keep herself together.

“Zara, is there a reasonable explanation for any of this?” Harry asked, pointing towards Mike with an amused grin.

“Hey,” Mike called out. “Don’t be jealous just because Emma’s never given you a makeover.”

“Whatever makes you feel better, Auntie Mike,” Harry bantered back.

“His nieces call him Auntie Mike,” Zara finally offered up helpfully. “He lets them do this kind of stuff all the time. I think it’s sweet.”

Alex nodded with a grin as she wiped tears of laughter from under her eyes, careful not to smudge her makeup. “It is cute. And very sweet of you to let her do that to you, Mike.”

“Psh. Emma here is a brilliant makeup artist,” Mike laughed.

Emma giggled. “Just wait until I paint your nails!”

“Oh God. On that not, it’s time to go,” Harry broke in, shaking his head in laughter. “Emma, we are leaving,” he called out to the little girl he loved so much. Emma dropped what she was doing and ran straight over to Harry and Alex. She gave them both hugs and kisses and promised to be good for them.

Then, with a final chorus of goodbyes, Harry took Alex’s hand and led her from the room and to the front door, opening it for her with a flourish and wide, happy smile. He led her to the car that was parked in the drive and opened the passenger side for her.

“After you,” he grinned, motioning for her to get in.

“Oh! You get to drive tonight, huh?” Alex smirked as she slid in carefully.

“I do. It is my birthday,” Harry said with a wink before he gently closed her door and hurried around to his side. Alex couldn’t help but giggle. He was positively giddy and Alex loved it. It was truly a wonder to see and something she was incredibly grateful for. And when Harry opened his door, slid in, and turned to look at her, she was beaming at him, loving the moment. He was caught a little off guard when he saw that entire face was just lit up. It wasn’t that he didn’t expect her to be happy or excited, it was that she was beaming at him as if he we were the source of her joy.

And he was the source of her joy. She loved him so incredibly much. Things had been hard recently, yes. But they had pulled through and if anything, even with the uncertainty that the previous few weeks had held, Alex felt like she was more in love with him than ever. She felt closer to him than she ever had, and knew it was a result of just what they had come through. And those emotions were reflected in the way she was looking at him now. Harry caught it and recognized it and was completed floored by it.

“Alexandra,” he breathed. He watched her cheeks flush as he called to her and they both felt the heat pass between them.

He reached for her then, not being able to control his actions at that moment. His hand curled around her neck and pulled her closer to him. Her eyes fluttered closed seconds before his lips crashed down on hers and a gasp sprang from her mouth and pushed into his at the intensity of the kiss. His lips and tongue were seeking hers as if they were the very air he needed to breathe and it made Alex’s heart pound in her chest.

With a moan that came from deep inside her, Alex leaned into him. Her hands came up to his chest and slid into the lapels of his coat. She tugged him closer, wanting him as near to her as he could possibly be in that moment. His hands moved gently over her, his right moving down from her neck and over her shoulder to her back, where it joined his left. His fingers flexed over the material of her dress and she whimpered, being able to feel the heat of his hands through the layers of cloth. And when he finally pulled away from her, it was only because he knew if he didn’t the moment was going to get out of hand. Any other time he may not have minded, but he really did want to take her out for the evening he had planned.

“Harry…” Alex murmured as she leaned forward and pressed her forehead to his, her fingers still gripping his coat. She opened her eyes and found his already open and looking at her. They were so close and she could see the emotions flicker in his blue eyes.

“I love you so much, Alex. Thank you for tonight,” he whispered.

She smiled and brought a soft hand to his cheek. “I love you, Harry Wales. But you know…the night hasn’t even started.”

He chuckled and leaned up to press a firm kiss to her forehead before pulling back from her. “It doesn’t matter. I’m with you. It will be wonderful.”

Alex’s lips twisted. “For Heaven’s sake, Henry. Stop trying to make me cry all the damn time.”

He smirked. “I don’t do it intentionally.”

Alex laughed as she sat back in her seat and pulled her seatbelt on, her eyes never leaving his. “Sure, sure. Now, are you ever going to take me to dinner, or did I put this dress on for nothing?”

“Ha! Okay, okay. Let’s go, baby,” he agreed as he started the engine of the Audi. “And that dress, whether we made it to dinner or not…that dress isdefinitely not for nothing.”


Harry had arranged a table in a private room at a very upscale restaurant about half an hour from where Mike and Zara’s home. Along with the private table in the private room, he had also arranged for a tasting menu from the five-star, world renowned chef, which would offer them a little bit of the best the restaurant had to offer. It was certainly expensive and certainly over the top but Alex loved it. It was intimate and lovely and the food was amazing.

“You know Harry, as much as I’m loving this…” Alex said as she took a sip of her champagne that was served with dessert. “I really wish you would have let me plan a little something for your birthday. It’s certainly not right that you planned all of this on your own birthday and I didn’t have to lift a finger.”

Harry smiled softly and reached for her free hand. He pulled it up to his lips and placed a warm, tender kiss to her palm. Goosebumps rose on her skin and she giggled, very much tipsy from all of the wine they had been served. She moved her fingers down, brushing them over his perfect lips as she waited for him to speak.

“I didn’t plan this for me, love. I planned this for you,” he said in a low voice. He pulled her hand down to his lap, resting it on his thigh.

“But it’s your birthday.”

He looked at her for a moment, a small smile on his lips. Then he moved, leaning forward in her chair so he was closer to her. “Yes, it is my birthday. Well, tomorrow it is anyway. But instead of celebrating being a year older, I’m celebrating being with you. And, both of us…I think this is an excellent occasion to celebrate coming through some ridiculous shit this year together.”

Alex’s lips twitched. “Ridiculous shit?”

“Okay, maybe that wasn’t the right way to phrase that,” Harry chuckled. “How about…we’ve overcome some big obstacles?”

“I like ridiculous shit better.”

A wide smile split Harry’s lips and his eyes crinkled up in the corners. Alex moved her hand from her champagne glass to trace the lines around his eyes. “Regardless of what we call it, it’s been a rather trying nine months since we met, no?” Harry continued on.

Alex heard the seriousness edge to his tone and she sobered up for a moment, putting her giddiness on the backburner for the moment. “It has. But I’m not complaining about that, Harry.”

“I know, my love. And that’s the thing.”

Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “What’s the thing?”

“You should be complaining. Anyone else would. Anyone else would be running screaming in the opposite direction; but not you. Despite all of the craziness that goes along with me, despite the paparazzi, my insane family, the deployment and the unforgivable way I treated you recently, you’re still here,” he finished. His face was soft with his words and his eyes were regarding her with such adoration that it stole her breath for a few moments.

Alex leaned in closer to him, her hands moving to cup his face. “Of course I’m here. I told you I would be. Months and months ago when you sat me down in your kitchen and warned me about your life I told you I was in and that I could handle it. Why do you act like one day I’m going to wake up and decide to just run from this? I’m here. Harry…I’m going to do couples counseling with you. I’m in this…together…with you.”

“I know, Alex,” he said quietly. “I know you are. I don’t think you are going to wake up one day and run. I just want you to know that I know how hard this is on you sometimes. I want you to know that I will never forget how much of a sacrifice…”

“Don’t call it that,” she interrupted with an edge to her voice. “I hate that. It’s not a sacrifice.”

“You’re giving up your privacy and Emma’s privacy and…”


“And I know how much courage that takes and…”


He finally stopped and focused back on her. “What?”

“Yeah. Those things are gone. But you know what Emma and I got in return?”

Harry’s eyebrows lifted. “If you say me…well, that’s just not a very fair trade.”

Alex laughed despite the intensity of the conversation. “Yes it is. Come on, where is the cocky man I’ve come to know and love?”

“You know me versus your private life is not…”

“Listen, Harry,” Alex interrupted. “You are. But when I say you, I’m not talking about Prince Harry. I’m talking about the wonderful, sweet, crazy, over-the-top, swagger of a man who came to Disney Princess Night, ate macaroni and cheese, and hung out with my kid on our first date. I’m talking about the man whose family and friends drew me and my daughter right in without a second thought when they had no reason to trust me other than you said so. I’m talking about all of that, plus more than we have time for me to list. So no, it’s not a sacrifice, baby. It’s love. So, stop worrying that I’m giving up anything, because I’m not, got it?”

Harry grinned and leaned over to press a firm kiss against her lips. “Bossy,” he murmured against her lips.

“You like it,” she retorted.

“Love it.”

Alex giggled as she leaned back from him and picked up her champagne glass again, taking another sip. “So what’s next? What else do you have planned?”

Harry’s eyes danced. “How do you know I have something else planned?”

“Because I know you…”

Harry nodded then, picking up his own champagne glass and draining it. “I do have something else planned. But first, I have something I want to give you.”

Alex cocked an eyebrow. “Give me? It’s not my birthday.”

Harry laughed. “I know. It’s not a birthday present.” He leaned back in his chair and his hand slipped inside of his jacket, going for the inside pocket.

Alex’s heart immediately started to thump in her chest as his hand pulled from his jacket, in slow motion it seemed. He couldn’t be…could he? He said he wasn’t. He said it wasn’t the right time….

“Harry…” Alex whispered, her voice wavering.

He caught the emotion just as he pulled out the large square box. “What?” he asked her, his eyes wide. He watched her eyes widen as the box came out from his jacket and saw her relief when she saw it, saw the size of it.

“Alex? Did you think I was about to pull out a ring?” He bit his bottom lip to keep from smiling at her wide-eyed reaction.

Her eyes snapped to his. “No. Of course not. No…I just…oh God. The ground needs to swallow me up right now.”

Harry shook his head, his lips curling up at the sides. “You should have seen the look on your face though. I’m not sure if you were thrilled or terrified.”

Alex covered her face with her hands, completely embarrassed. “Oh Jesus. I’m going to die.”

Harry laughed and reached over to pull her hands from her face. “Hey. It’s okay, Alexandra. Don’t be embarrassed.”

“Too late,” she squeaked. Her cheeks were red and she was worrying her lip. Her eyes were wide as she looked up at him. “I wasn’t terrified…I wasn’t…I don’t know, Harry. Can we just pretend that didn’t happen and never, ever discuss it again?”

“I’d love to promise you that, but I don’t make promises I can’t keep, love.”

“Oh my God…”

“Okay, Alex. I’m kidding,” Harry said with a grin. “Seriously, do not be embarrassed. It’s not a big deal. I won’t bring it up again, I promise.”

She eyed him speculatively. “I don’t believe you.”

He tried to hold back his laughter, but he couldn’t help it. “I love you, Alexandra. Do you believe that?”

She sighed, deciding to push her embarrassment to the side, as much as it pained her. “Yes, I believe that.”

“Excellent,” he said, clapping his hands together. “Now, I got you something.” He smiled wide as he motioned to the box on the table.

“Okay. Should I open it right now or…?”

“You are drunk. It’s present and I’m giving it to you. Of course, you open it now,” he smirked

Alex rolled her eyes playfully and reached for the box, pulling it to her. With a shy smile toward Harry she flipped it open. “Harry…” she said softly as her eyes pulled up to his.

He scooted his chair closer so he was next to her. “It’s a bracelet,” he said softly, pulling the rose gold bracelet from its velvet cushion and held it out in his palm for her. She took it from him and her eyes moved over the beautiful piece. When she caught that it was engraved she grinned and her eyes flashed up to his before going back to the bracelet to read it.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage,” Alex read in a clear voice. When her eyes moved up to his again they were shining with tears.

“When I saw that quote, it just struck me…”Harry trailed off, swallowing at the lump in his throat.

“It’s us,” Alex finished for him, a single tear slipping from her right eye and trailing down her cheek.

“Yes,” he whispered back, reaching up to brush her tear away. “It is us. Your love, Alexandra…it gave me the strength I needed to admit I needed help. But loving you…loving you and knowing if I didn’t get help that I would lose you…it gave me the courage I needed actually jump in and do it. I wanted to give you something that would always remind you of what you’ve done for me; of what your love…our love…has done for me.”

And because Alex had no words in that moment for what he had given her, what he had said to her, for what this meant to her…she quickly put the bracelet on and then pulled him to her. And Harry understood. So he went, meeting her lips with his own, sealing their amazing evening with an even more amazing kiss.


Many hours and many more glasses of champagne later Harry and Alex stumbled none to quietly back into Mike and Zara’s house. One of Harry’s POs had driven them home, as they were both much too drunk to drive, but getting upstairs and to their room was a feat that they had to manage themselves, which they did…barely.

“Alexandra…did I tell you how fucking amazing you look in that dress tonight?” Harry asked as soon as he closed the bedroom door behind them and locked it. He peeled off his suit coat as he said it, throwing it unceremoniously to the ground.

“Hmmm…yep. But feel free to go on about it. I don’t mind one little bit,” Alex responded with a giggle as she kicked her shoes off.

Harry didn’t waste time. He was on her instantly. His arms wrapped tightly around her middle and he buried his face in her neck, kissing and licking his way up towards her mouth. “Oh Alexandra…I’ve missed you…” he groaned as he reached for the zipper of the dress that ran down her back.

“Harry…” she breathed. She loved what he was doing; loved having his warm, hard body wrapped around her. But…

“Harry…not tonight…”

He stopped moving. “What? Alex…”

“Not yet,” she whispered, pulling back to look at him, her eyes wide. “I’m not ready yet.”

“Baby, I can get you ready…that’s not…”

She shook her head slowly and he groaned, pulling her tighter against him.

“Come on, baby. You can wait, can’t you?” she asked, pulling her lower lip between her teeth.

“No,” he growled, shaking his head as he buried it in her neck.

“You can’t?”

“Yes, of course I can, Alex.” He words were muffled against her skin. She could feel him taking deep breaths, trying to control himself. She grinned.

“You know, Harry. Just because we’re not going to have sex, doesn’t mean we can’t do other stuff,” she said in a low voice. Her fingers went for the closure on his pants and she quickly undid it, sliding her hand inside and then pulling him out.

Harry’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh?”

She nodded slowly and then dropped down on her knees in front of him.

“Ohhh…” Harry breathed, his features lighting up when he realized what was about to happen.

“It is your birthday,” she murmured, turning innocent eyes up to him.

And then before he could say anything, before he could respond, Alex took him in her mouth and welcomed in Harry’s twenty-ninth birthday in a way that knocked all words from his mouth, all thoughts from his brain, and put the biggest, silliest grin on his handsome face.