Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Thirty Three

Waking up in the beautiful hotel room in Paris the day after her birthday, with Harry sleeping soundly next to her, brought an immediate smile to Alex’s lips. He was so peaceful and calm in his sleep, especially recently. His therapy with Duncan had been working wonders and the nightmares and the anxiety that had come with sleep had faded to almost nothing.

Alex turned on her side to look at him spread out beside her. She couldn’t help the small sigh that escaped her lips as she looked over him. One arm was thrown over his head and the other rested on his broad chest, rising and falling with his steady breathing. The covers were pulled down low on his waist, exposing his well-defined stomach to her.

She loved his body; every single solitary inch of it. It was like a treasure map that she would never tire of exploring. Her own body flushed at the thought and suddenly she felt the urge right then to do some exploring.

With a slow smile she sat up in the bed and quietly rose to her knees. She scooted down the bed just a little so that her knees rested by his. Taking care to be slow and quiet, she tugged the blanket further and further down until it was over his hips and down his thighs. She grinned to herself, loving that fact that he was naked and completely at her disposal. Biting her bottom lip, she moved gently over him; straddling his legs and bracing her arms on either side of his torso. She peeked up at him, making sure he was still sleeping. He hadn’t so much as stirred, but she still kept her eyes trained on him as she lowered her head and pressed a soft kiss right in the center of his chest.
He stirred slightly and she went still, holding her position and her sneaky smile until he was still again. Then she moved again, sliding further down his torso and leaning down yet again, pressing another kiss, this time against his stomach, right above his belly button. His muscles flinched under her lips, but his eyes still remained closed.

And then, with a wide smile born of love and anticipation, Alex dipped even further, pressing a warm, wet kiss against the tip of him.

His eyes fluttered open then, falling with surprise and instant lust on his beautiful girlfriend, the woman he loved more than he ever thought he could love another person, smiling up at him, her lips pressed to him; rousing him faster than even he thought was possible.

“Alex,” he groaned, his voice was hoarse from sleep. He reached for her then, wrapping his hands around her arms, not really knowing if he wanted to hold her where she was or pull her to him in order to keep his own sanity. She knew what that mouth of hers did to him.

In the end though, he didn’t have to make the decision, Alex made it for him.

“Good Morning, Harry,” she called out to him in a voice that made his blood run hot. And then with a sly grin and dancing eyes her lips closed over him, drawing him deep into her hot, wet mouth.

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

“Harry…” Alex murmured as she lay on his chest a while later, happy and satisfied, tracing her fingers in the light patch of hair on his sternum.

“Hmmm?” He turned his eyes down to meet hers.

“Remember how I told you awhile back that Emma and I go to my parents for Thanksgiving every year?”

He nodded as his fingers played in her hair, twirling the silky strands around his fingers. “I remember.”

She took a deep breath. “Well, it’s only a little over a month away. I should have made our travel arrangement ages ago.”

His eyebrows lifted and his lips tilted into a small smile. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Well,” Harry grinned as he wrapped his hands around her arms and pulled her up so she was laying on him. She crossed her arms on his chest and looked up at him as she waited for him to finish. “There is a woman who works for me and her job, her entire job, his to make and keep track of my travel arrangements. She’s very good at her job.”

Alex’s lips tilted into a small smile. “You know, it wouldn’t do for her to make arrangements for me and Emma. Unless…” she wiggled then, scooting further up on him and pulling a little laughing groan from Harry.

“Unless what?” His eyes were happy and light as they searched hers.

“Unless you were to come with us.”

And even though he was expecting the question, even though he knew what she was asking from the second she mentioned going home, the words still hit him in the gut.

Going home with her. Meeting her parents. Seeing where she had grown up and getting to know more of her history. It was something he wanted. It was something he wanted desperately.

“I could come with you, Alexandra,” he said in a low voice. “In fact, I would love to come with you.”

“Yeah?” she whispered, her eyes widening. “You would go all the way to Texas with us?”

“Oh no, Alex. I would go anywhere with you. Anywhere.”

She bit her lip and blinked several times, trying to contain the emotion she felt at his words. “Can you please stop trying to make me cry when I’m asking you to come meet my family?”

“Ha! I’m sorry, baby. I’m sorry.” He moved his hands to her face and cupped her cheeks. “I want to go all the way to Texas with you and Emma. Just tell me when we need to leave and be back and I’ll make sure everything is taken care of. Flights, hotels; everything.”

“Oh, no,” Alex said, putting her fingers to his lips as he tried to lean in and kiss her.

“No, what?” he asked with a smile, kissing her fingertips.

“No hotels. We will be staying with my parents.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “Even me? With the security team and the extra precautions?”

Alex rolled her eyes. “Yes of course. There is room for everyone.”

“Then I guess it’s settled. We will go have Thanksgiving with your family in Texas,” Harry said in a clear voice. His smile was wide and happy and his eyes were soft with the meaning of the trip they were planning.

He leaned forward to kiss her then, his lips finding hers and his tongue sliding inside of her mouth. The kiss was passionate and intense and full with the weight of yet another big step they were making with each other. And just when Harry’s body started to flicker to life again, surprising even him, Alex’s stomach growled loudly. She giggled into his mouth and he couldn’t help but chuckle as he pulled back, arching an eyebrow.

“Hungry, love?”

“What was your first clue?”

He laughed loudly and shook his head. “Smart ass,” he teased. Then he was moving, rolling her from him and then pulling her from the bed. “Come on, let’s get ready, get Molly and Emma, and go get breakfast. What do you say?”

She smiled up at him then, completely happy, even if they had to leave Paris today. “I say that sounds wonderful.”

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

“Do you think I could ask you for something?” Harry asked Alex as she sat in his office with him one afternoon, eating Chinese takeout for lunch right out of the containers. It was two weeks before they were supposed to leave for Texas and Harry had just a few more details to work out.

Alex smiled as she swallowed her bite of food. “Sure. What’s up?”

“Could you give me your parent’s phone number? I’d like to relay a few of the details about what is required for the POs and the security precautions they will put in place when we arrive.”

Alex nodded, a wide smile crossing her face. “Absolutely. Although, you know I am well aware that you can get their number without me giving it to you. In fact, I’m pretty sure you already have it.”

Harry chuckled and winked at her. “True. The security team got it the second I gave them the details; but I didn’t want one of the POs calling and frightening them with all the technicalities. I figured I’d call and add a little charm to that awkward conversation.”

Alex was about to answer, about to make some joking remark about his ability to charm anyone, when Charlotte strolled into the office, breezing through and making herself right at home. She plucked a fortune cookie from the bag on Harry’s desk and sat right down in the chair next to Alex.

“What awkward conversation?” Charlotte asked as she broke apart her fortune cookie. Alex laughed as Charlotte didn’t even look at her fortune; she just tossed it in the wastebasket next to Harry’s desk and bit into the cookie.

“Harry’s going to call and talk to my parents about the security concerns when we go to Texas,” Alex answered. She glanced at Harry and laughed at his annoyed look at Charlotte for just barging in and making herself at home.

“Ah, yes. Texas,” Charlotte nodded. “Let me ask you this; what exactly do you do in Texas for an entire week?”

“Charlotte, you know I’m trying to have lunch with my girlfriend here,” Harry interrupted, his eyes narrowed.

Charlotte turned towards him. “Then eat, Harry. Don’t let me stop you.” Alex snorted her laughter as Charlotte turned back towards her, having dismissed Harry and now waiting for an answer to her question.

“Well, there are quite a few things we will do. We plan to take Emma to the Zoo, we’re going to go out to one of my favorite dance halls, and of course there is Thanksgiving Day…”

“Right. Thanksgiving,” Charlotte interrupted. “Can you explain to me exactly what you do at Thanksgiving?”

“Jesus Christ, Charlotte. If you want to go and see for yourself, all you have to do is ask,” Harry teased her.

Charlotte turned, looked at him, and popped the last of her fortune cookie in her mouth. She was silent for a moment as she regarded him and all of the sudden Harry groaned and leaned his head back against his chair, having seen it coming before she even said it.

“What?” Alex asked, confused at what was going on.

“You know,” Charlotte said with a grin. “I think I will go. I’ve never had an American Thanksgiving. I’ll just go have Marilyn get me on your flight right now.”

And with that Charlotte stood and breezed right back out of Harry’s office, leaving Alex laughing and Harry shaking his head about what just happened.

“I guess I should let your parents know that one more will be joining us,” Harry said.

“Ha! There is no more room at their house. She’s going to have to stay with Matt.”

A slow smile spread across Harry’s face. “Perfect. Can you do me a favor though?”

Alex shrugged. “Sure.”

“Can we not tell her that until we get there?”

“Oh God,” Alex laughed with a roll of her eyes. “You are terrible. But no, I won’t tell her.”

Harry clapped his hands together and grinned. “Excellent.”

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

The flight to Texas was relaxed and easy. Emma kept Harry occupied with Disney movies until she fell asleep, and then Harry leaned over to Alex, who had her own video monitor pulled up with a movie.

“Whatcha watching?” Harry asked, reaching for her hand and pulling it into his lap.

Alex turned to him and smiled as she pulled a headphone from one ear. “What? I couldn’t hear you.”

“What are you watching?”

“Oh,” she gave him a shy smile. “Dirty Dancing.”

Harry laughed. “Why are you embarrassed? That’s your favorite movie.”

“I’m not embarrassed. It’s just that…it’s always been my favorite movie, but now when I watch it I always think of the night at your place; the first time I ever came over.”

“Ahhh,” he grinned. He loved that particular memory himself. “That was a great night.”

“Until Emma got sick and I had to leave you turned on and panting on your couch,” Alex teased.

“I was not panting,” he laughed in return.

Suddenly Charlotte sat up from her seat next to Alex and ripped a headphone from her ear. Both Harry and Alex turned to face her, their eyes wide.

“Could you two please knock it off? I’m trying to sleep here and I do NOT want to hear about how turned on Harry was watching Dirty Dancing,” she hissed at them.

Both Harry and Alex were dead silent for a moment while Charlotte just stared at them, waiting for them to speak.

“Charlotte,” Harry finally said, speaking in a low voice.

“Yes, Harry?” she smarted back, tilting her head to the side.

“I was going to wait until we got to Texas to tell you this, but since you seem to need something to distract you from images of me turned on…”

“Stop,” Charlotte warned, holding up a hand.

Harry grinned and Alex just shook her head, feeling almost sorry for herself that she had to sit between the two of them for the rest of the flight.

“Anyway, I was going to wait, but I’ll just go ahead and give you this now,” Harry continued.

“Give me what, Harry?” Charlotte asked impatiently.

“There was no more room at Alex’s parent’s house. You have to stay with Matt…for the entire week.”

Charlotte’s eyes narrowed and her chin instantly set in defiance mode.

Alex immediately reached up and pressed the call button. The First Class flight attendant was there within moments.

“Can I help you ma’am?”

“Yes, can I get a glass of champagne please? I think I’m going to need it,” Alex asked sweetly.

“Right away, ma’am,” the flight attendant said.

And as she bustled off to get Alex’s drink, both Harry and Charlotte burst out laughing.

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

Alex was surprised at how smoothly things transitioned once they landed in Houston. They were off the plane, through customs, and had their luggage, and were out by the cars while their bags were being loaded without any of the angst that usually went along with international travel.

“Harry!” Emma squealed excitedly as they waited to get into the cars. “I’m so excited to see my Mimi and my Poppy and my Uncle Matt! Are you excited?!”

Harry laughed and reached down to pick Emma up, moving her to his hip. “I’m very excited Em. And can I let you in on a little secret?”

Emma nodded excitedly. “Yes!”

Harry leaned in and said in a mock whisper, just loud enough so Alex could hear. “I’m a little nervous too.”

“What?” Emma asked, crinkling up her nose. “That’s crazy, Harry. It’s just Mimi and Poppy. They are really nice, I promise.”

“Yeah?” Harry asked, lifting his eyebrows.

“Oh yeah. And you know what?”

“What?”

“They will love you, just like Mummy and I do.”

And Harry had to stall for a second, had to catch his breath, and had to blink back the emotions that Emma’s words caused. He looked up at Alex and caught her eyes. She was watching them with the same emotions splashed on her face as he felt inside of him. After a split second she offered him a smile, a sweet, soft smile that let him know she felt the same as Emma. Harry took a deep breath and turned back to Emma. “Well Emma, that’s very sweet. Now, I have another question. What about Charlotte?”

Emma turned and looked towards Charlotte, who couldn’t help but laugh, even as she rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses. She knew where Harry was going with this.

“What about her?” Emma asked.

“Do you think your Mimi and Poppy will love Charlotte?”

Emma grinned. “Uncle Matt likes her, so I think that Mimi and Poppy will.”

Charlotte groaned but the smile stayed in place. “You too, Emma? Traitor.”

Emma turned back to Harry. “What’s a traitor?”

“Okay,” Alex interrupted loudly, clapping her hands together and bringing to a halt to what would probably be an endless stream of questions from Emma. She didn’t mind answering them, and Emma would probably be right back to it once they were in the car, but the longer they stood outside and talked, the longer it was going to take them to get to her parent’s house. And she was dying to be home, to see her family. “The bags are in the cars, y’all. Time to get moving.”

“Y’all?” Harry and Charlotte asked said in unison. Harry’s lips twitched and Charlotte right out laughed.

Alex rolled her eyes. “We’re in Texas now. I can say y’all all day long and both of you can kiss it. Now, let’s get in the cars. Come on…let’s go!”