Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Thirty Eight Part Two

By the time that Alex pulled up at Emma’s school, the police presence that Charlotte had called in for her had gotten the paparazzi crowd somewhat under control, but Alex was still utterly shocked at how many of them there were.

At least fifty photographers were still gathered behind the police barricades, and Alex was absolutely sure that there were probably more than that there before the police had shown up. Tears welled up in her eyes seeing them all there and seeing how the instantly reacted to seeing her pull up, the crowd of them surging forward. She quickly blinked them back and took a deep breath as a police officer rounded her car, coming to open her door for her.

“Miss Morgan?”
“Yes,” Alex said in a shaky voice as she stepped out. “I’m Alexandra Morgan.”

“I’m Officer Scott,” he said as he looked down on her with kind, sympathetic eyes. “I will escort you into the school. Your daughter is waiting inside with the headmaster.”

“Thank you,” Alex nodded with a small smile as the officer motioned for her to move forward. Officer Scott escorted her through the throngs of photographers and Alex was absolutely horrified at the things they were calling out at her, trying to get her attention, trying to get her to look their way.

"Just keep your head down, Miss Morgan," Officer Scott said low next to her.

"Okay, thank you," Alex mumbled as they finally reached the steps into the school. She rushed up the steps and stared straight ahead as Officer Scott opened the door for her. “Oh my God…" she breathed once they wore safetly inside the building. She gulped back the lump in her throat and turned towards the kind police officer. “Thank you very much, Officer Scott."

"You’re welcome, ma’am," he said kindly. “I’m told that your daughter is waiting in the headmaster’s office. When you are ready to leave I’ll be waiting out here to escort you out."

"Alright," Alex said with a small smile and a shaky breath. “Thank you again."

At his nod Alex took a deep breath and turned, moving briskly down the hallway towards the headmaster’s office, her heels clicking on the hardwood floor. She was almost to the door when her cell phone rang out from her bag, Harry’s ringtone startling her. She immediately stopped and dug into her purse, pulling out her phone.


"Alex! Where are you?" His voice was stressed and angry and Alex had to close her eyes and concentrate on not letting the tears come at the thought that his emotions we just as heightened as hers.

“I’m at Emma’s school. I’m about to walk into the headmaster’s office. Harry there are paps…”

"Oh I fucking know!” he growled through the phone. “Charlotte told me. I was speaking when you called and then…"

"No, no. It’s okay," Alex interrupted, not taking his tone to heart. She knew he was just as upset as she was. “Whoever Charlotte called got the police over and they’ve got the paps pushed back so I can at least get out with Emma without them crushing us.”

"Shit!” Harry snapped through the phone. “This is so incredibly fucked up."

"Harry please. I know…" Alex took a deep breath and fought the lump in her throat. “I know this sucks but please don’t snap. I know it’s not at me but I’m worked up and….listen, I need to go in and get Emma, Harry. I’m sure she’s scared and embarrassed and…" Alex’s voice broke as the tears threatened again. “I need to go to my daughter Harry.”

"Go baby," Harry said softly. “I’m sorry I yelled. I’m just frustrated. I…do you want me to come down there?"

"No,” she sighed. “It will only make it worse. Can I take Emma to your place though? I know they will be outside of my house and…"

"Of course,” Harry interrupted. “I’ll call and let them know that you are coming and I’ll meet you there in a couple of hours."

“Okay…thank you, Harry.”

“Anything you need, Alex…you know that. Now go get Emma. Can you give her a hug and tell her I love her?”

“Yes,” Alex said in a small voice. “I will. See you in a little while.”

She pulled the phone from her ear and disconnected the call. She turned the ringer off; not wanting any further interruptions while she was went to get Emma and talked with her headmaster. She slid the phone back into her bag, took a deep breath, and made the final few steps to the headmaster’s office, knocking on the door once she got there.

It was mere seconds before Mrs. Keating opened the door, a small, polite smile forming on her lips when she saw Alex.

“Mrs. Morgan, please come in.”

“Thank you,” Alex nodded as she stepped inside, immediately searching for Emma and finding her sitting in a chair in front of Mrs. Keating’s desk. “Emma?” Alex’s voice was soft Emma’s head turned towards her and Alex’s heart almost broke. Her eyes were red and puffy and her cheeks were stained with tears. “Oh Em…”

“Mummy?” Emma’s voice was low and wavered and Alex’s eyes immediately filled with tears.

“Come here,” Alex said as she set her bag down in the chair next to Emma and opened her arms. Emma immediately rose from her chair and rushed into Alex’s arms, burying her face in her mother’s neck. Alex’s arms closed in around her and she pulled her tight against her. “It’s okay, baby,” she soothed, rubbing a gentle hand over Emma’s wavy blonde locks. “I’m so sorry, Emma.”

“Ahem.” Alex looked up as Mrs. Keating cleared her throat and she frowned. Alex was sure that the headmaster wasn’t happy, but she almost looked…sad. It immediately put Alex on high alert.

Keeping Emma in her arms she stood and moved to take a seat in the chair that Emma had most recently occupied, letting Emma stay in her lap with her arms and legs wrapped around her. She would let her daughter cling to her for as long as it took for her to feel better.

“I’m so sorry about all of this, Mrs. Keating. I know this is an inconvenience,” Alex said quietly as she stroked Emma’s back.

The tall, thin woman nodded and moved to sit behind her desk. “Mrs. Morgan, these photographers showed up just as we let the children outside for the morning recess. They knew when to come to get pictures of Emma.”

“Oh God,” Alex gasped. “They must have been watching her. I…I don’t know…”

“Listen Mrs. Morgan, I need to be up front with you right now. We cannot have this here. The other children were frightened half to death, I’ve got angry parents calling wondering what I’m going to do about this…”

“I know Harry can do something,” Alex interrupted. “I know they will put out a statement and talk to the police…”

“Right. And it will fix it for a while, but once the outcry dies down, they’ll be back,” Mrs. Keating said meaningfully as she threw a pointed look at Alex.

And Alex got it. She knew what this woman was trying to ask of her. Her eyes went wide and her heart dropped into her stomach. “Oh God. You want me to pull her out,” she breathed in disbelief.

“I can’t tell you to pull her out, because she’s not broken any rules. But…”

“But that’s what you want me to do,” Alex said, her voice growing more forceful. Emma whimpered against her neck and Alex pulled her tighter against her.

“I think, in the interest of the other students, you should consider it,” Mrs. Keating said quietly. “I don’t want to do this, Mrs. Morgan. I like Emma, she’s a wonderful little girl and we will miss her terribly but…”

“No, no. I understand,” Alex interrupted. “You’re…you’re just doing your job as an educator and…I’m so sorry. I thought they would stay away.”

“And they did for a long while. But now that they’ve broken that invisible line…”

Alex nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat. She loved the school that Emma went to and was devastated at the thought of pulling her out and what it might do to her daughter. She did well at the school, extremely well. She had excellent teachers and good friends and the thought of having to start her all over made Alex’s heart hurt. But she knew that she couldn’t be stubborn and put other children in the way of the cameras and understood where the other parents were coming from. She would feel the same if she were in their place.

“Okay,” Alex said slowly, her eyes meeting Mrs. Keating with a lot more strength than she felt. “What do I need to do to pull her out?”

“Mummy no!” Emma sobbed, pulling her head back and looking at her with wide, sad eyes. “I don’t want to go to another school! I’m sorry…please…I’ll do anything! I’ll be perfect. I’ll never, ever get into trouble. Please Mummy!”

As long as Alex lived, this would forever be one of her sadder moments, watching Emma fall apart, listening to her six year old apologize and beg like any of this was her fault. Emma was so innocent in all of this yet right now she was the one being affected the most.

Alex took a deep breath and worked to keep calm. If she got worked up it would only make Emma feel worse. “Honey, I would love to let you stay if I had a choice, but I don’t. I promise that once we get home I will explain everything to you and we will eat ice cream for dinner and have cookies for dessert and watch Disney movies until you can’t keep your eyes open, but right now can you keep a brave face on for me? I’ll get all of this done as fast as possible and then we can go and put this day behind us. Can you do that for me?”

Emma held her mother’s eyes for a moment and then finally she sniffled, hiccupped, and nodded slowly. She reached up to wipe her eyes with her sleeves and Alex immediately leaned around her to pull a couple tissues from Mrs. Keating’s desk. She wiped Emma’s face and her runny nose and then handed her daughter the clean tissue just in case.

“Thanks Mummy,” Emma said quietly.

“You’re welcome,” Alex smiled, proud of her daughter for being so brave. She turned back to Mrs. Keating then, the older woman looking at her with a small, sad smile. “Okay, what paperwork do I need to do?”


In a little under half an hour later, Emma was un-enrolled from her school. Alex signed all the paperwork while Mrs. Keating got Emma’s things from her classroom and then Alex and Emma were ready to go. Emma had been strong and held it together throughout the whole thing, and Alex was so incredibly proud of her. Now all that was left for them was to get through the paparazzi still waiting outside and into the car, then they could be off to Harry’s. All Alex wanted to do was cuddle up with her daughter in Harry’s big, plush bed, watch movies, and do whatever else Emma wanted to do that would make this day better for her.

“Okay Em, listen to me” Alex said gently as she slipped Emma’s backpack straps over her shoulders. Emma turned wide eyes up to her mother and nodded, indicating she was listening. Alex knelt in front of her, speaking close, low and comforting. “The photographers are still out there.”

“Nooo…” Emma whimpered, her eyes filling up with tears.

“It’s okay, Honey. I’m going to carry you out and I want you to hide your face right here,” Alex placed her hand in the crook of her neck. Don’t look up; just keep your face there. There is a very nice police officer waiting named Officer Scott. He will escort us from the door to the car. When we get to the car he will open your door and I will put you inside. Just keep calm, keep your head down, and don’t look at the cameras. They don’t deserve to get a picture of your beautiful face, Emma. Okay?”

“Okay,” Emma nodded.

“Alright. Just a few more minutes of being brave and then we’re done. We can do it, right?”

“Right,” Emma said with a small smile.

“Okay, let’s go,” Alex said, taking a deep breath and pulling Emma up into her arms.

The scene played out exactly how she expected it to. The paps were still there and as soon as Alex stepped out with Emma, they went nuts. Officer Scott was there and shielded Alex as she rushed Emma down the walk and to the car. He pulled the door open and Alex set Emma inside, buckling her in and then helping her shield her face. Then, with a final, quick thank you to Officer Scott, she moved to the driver’s side, slid in, and pulled away from the school and away from the chaos that had thrown her daughter’s life in upheaval.

To Be Continued…