Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Forty Part One

The days after Christmas and New Year’s passed quickly. Donna and Michael left three days after Christmas, but Matt was staying until after the New Year’s celebrations as he was going to be Charlotte’s date to the party they would be attending that was being thrown by Harry’s cousins Beatrice and Eugenie.

At least, that had been the plan until Harry came over one night after work. Alex knew something was up as soon as he stepped through the door. He was almost giddy, anticipation dancing in his eyes. She kissed him hello and then he followed her into the living room where Matt and Charlotte were, arguing over what to watch on TV. Molly was also there, sitting with Emma on the couch where she was helping her granddaughter to knit another hat.

“Alright, what’s up with you?” Alex grinned at Harry. He was almost bouncing on his feet.
He took a big breath. “I just got a phone call from Eugenie, there has been a bit of a change for New Year’s Eve.”

“A change?” Alex’s eyebrows rose.

“Yes. Dave rented a yacht. It is set to sail from Australia and head east over the International Date Line…so we get to have the clock strike midnight twice.” His face pulled into a wide grin and he looked around the room. “Do you think you all can still go?”

“I’m in,” Charlotte called out immediately.

“I’m not supposed to go back to the states until the third. So as long as we are back before then, I’m good,” Matt shrugged.

Harry’s eyes swung back to Alex, wide and excited. “So?”

“Harry…” Alex said softly. “I can’t…”

“You can’t?” Harry blinked, a bit startled.

Alex sighed as she looked around the room. Everyone was looking at her and Harry and she decided that this wasn’t something she wanted to discuss in front of everyone. “Let’s go talk on the kitchen.” She nodded her head in the direction of the kitchen.

“Okay,” Harry agreed. He motioned for her to pass him and then followed behind her when she did. When they got to the kitchen she turned to him with a small smile.

“I’m sorry, Harry. I know you’re excited and you still go if you want to, but I…”

“Wait, wait, wait,” he laughed, holding up a hand to stop her. “First, if you aren’t going, I’m not. It’s as simple as that. I’m spending New Year’s with you, okay?”

“Okay…” she nodded with a small smile.

“And second,” he held up two fingers. “Don’t be sorry. But I’d still like to know the reason you can’t go, Alex.”

She sighed and crossed her arms in front of her. “I can’t just leave Emma here. Molly had agreed to watch her on New Year’s Eve, but that was just for the night. I can’t ask her to do that for two or three nights while I jet off to Australia.”

“Yes you can.”

Both Harry and Alex turned towards the voice, finding Molly standing in the doorway of the kitchen, her hands on her hips, an amused look on her face.

“Molly,” Alex started, but Molly put a hand up, stopping her.

“Listen Alexandra, you should go. I’ll take Emma. Harry,” she turned towards him. “How long will you be gone?”

“Three days,” he responded instantly.

“Excellent,” Molly nodded. “I can watch her for three days, Alex. In fact, I’d be delighted to.”

“But…” Alex tried again.

“No buts, Alex. Emma and I will have a blast as we always do. Parents do this all the time. They leave their kids with the grandparents while they go on vacation and guess what, Alex?”

“What?” Alex smiled, grateful that she had such a wonderful, supportive mother-in-law in Molly.

“We love having our grandkids to ourselves. We can spoil them and let them eat whatever they want for dinner and do all the things you pretend you would get mad if we did.”

Harry’s lips twisted as he watched Molly and Alex’s discussion, as he watched Alex struggle between her need to keep her daughter as close to her as possible and the realization that Molly was right. He adored them both in that moment; Alex wanting to take care of Emma and Molly wanting to take care of both of them.

Finally Alex sighed and with a laugh and a smile she moved over to Molly and wrapped her arms around her. “Thank you,” she whispered as she hugged her tight.

“You’re welcome,” Molly grinned. “Just promise me you’ll have fun.”

Harry smiled as he moved in to hug Molly for himself. “Oh I think I can assure you that I will make sure she does.”


After spending an afternoon shopping with Charlotte for some essentials for the trip – a new swimsuit, some casual wear, and a short, very sexy dress for New Year’s Eve that Alex was sure would make Harry’s eyes bug out of his head – Alex was ready to bring in the New Year in what she knew was going to be an amazing way. She packed a suitcase and then early in the morning on the day before New Year’s Eve, she boarded a private plane with Harry, Matt, and Charlotte. Will and Kate joined shortly after, having left Henry in Bucklebury with her parents for the weekend. Kate’s sister Pippa and her boyfriend Niko also joined the group. Alex hadn’t met Pippa before but instantly liked her. She was friendly, bubbly, and vivacious and was a great addition to the trip. The rest of the group had left the day before to do some sightseeing in Australia and would meet them when they boarded the boat on New Year’s Eve.

“Hey Harry?” Alex whispered as he slid into one of the plush leather seats next to her and handed her a glass of champagne.

He took a sip from his glass and his eyes met hers, soft and happy. “Hmmm?”

“This is the same plane we took to Balmoral, isn’t it?”

His lips twisted and he leaned over to drop a kiss to her shoulder, the memory warming his blood. “It is one and the same.”

Alex giggled and glanced towards the back of the plane, towards the small bedroom that he had made love to her in all those months ago. “It seems like so long ago, yet like it was yesterday,” she murmured, taking a sip of her champagne and holding his gaze. Her eyes were wide and full of love and Harry felt his blood surge even further, tempting him to pull her from her seat and down to the bedroom for a repeat performance.

“Do you two ever stop making eyes at each other?” Charlotte teased from across the plane at them, breaking the moment between them and bringing laughter from the group.

“Sure…” Alex shrugged, eyes shifting down to her champagne. “When he does this thing with his tongue…it makes my eyes roll plum back into my head. It stops then.”

The group on the plane erupted into a mix of different reactions at once. Next to her, Harry snorted into his champagne glass and then his cheeks flushed, his lips pulling into a smirk as he nodded his head slowly in amusement at his girlfriend. William, who happened to be taking a sip of champagne at the time, nearly spit it everywhere, holding the back of his hand to his mouth to keep it in. Both Kate and Pippa’s hands flew to their mouths, covering the giggles that were threatening to escape. Pippa’s boyfriend sat back and chuckled, liking the dynamic in the group already. Charlotte groaned, rolled her eyes, and fell back against her seat, draining the rest of her champagne in one gulp.

“My little sister everyone,” Matt groaned as he shook his head, although he was amused. “Bringing it right into the gutter.”

“Cheers to that,” Harry grinned, as he held out his glass, laughing as Alex was the first one to hold her glass out to toast with him.

And the party had just begun.


The flight to Australia was long and tiring but everyone had managed to rest a bit, and by the time they arrived to the port the next afternoon, they were all so amped up on the excitement of what was to come that being tired or letting jet lag get to them never entered any of their minds.

“Holy shit…” Alex breathed as they stepped from the SUV that had taken them all from the airport to the marina where the yacht was docked and waiting for them. “That thing is…”

“Huge,” Matt finished for her, laughter on his lips as they both took in the enormous luxury boat anchored in the clear blue water. The sun was bright and hot and glinting off of it, making it look like something right out of a movie scene.

Alex had to take a second, to step back and take a deep breath. Until now she had been able to keep up with Harry, to take the extravagance of his life as it came, to remain completely true to who she was and who she had always been. But seeing the amazing boat she was about to step on, to know that she had no idea of the money that was being put into this, and knowing that it was nothing to Harry and his family and friends startled her for a moment. Then, letting out her deep breath she let her sensible side take over. These were people she knew, people she loved. They had all been kind and compassionate and had brought her into the fold without hesitation, simply because Harry loved her. They were all here to have fun and to celebrate the New Year and she was part of that. She simply had to take this in stride just as she had taken everything else that came with Harry in stride so far.

“You alright?” Harry asked softly as he slipped his aviators on against the bright sunlight.

“I’m fantastic,” Alex smiled wide at him, shaking off her moment. Harry grinned in return and then turned to give instructions to the yacht staff that had come out to retrieve their bags and deliver them to their individual rooms.

“I cannot believe you brought your guitar,” Charlotte smirked at Matt as the staff loaded his guitar case up with the other bags. “Such a show off.”

“Oh hush, Charlotte,” Kate said with a wink in Matt’s direction. “We all know you love it.”

“Ha!” Matt laughed as he moved to put an arm around Charlotte and tugged her into his side. “She’s right, darlin’, we do all know you love it, especially me.” He waggled his eyebrows at her and then chuckled as she made to playfully slap at his chest.

The mood was light and happy as the group made their way down the dock and onto the yacht. They were all smiles and joking laughter when they stepped onto the main deck, where the rest of their group was already settled with swimsuits on and drinks in hand. Beatrice was the first to spot them and came running over, moving to hug everyone quickly.

“Alex!” she squealed when she moved to her friend, pulling her into a big hug. “I haven’t seen you in so long!” Clearly she was already tipsy.

Alex giggled. “Bea, I saw you five days ago on Boxing Day.”

“Ohhh! Right,” Bea giggled back, moving to hug Harry.

“Beatrice York, are you sure you are going to make it to midnight?” Harry joked as his cousin threw her arms around him.

“Shut your mouth, Henry Wales,” she grinned, ruffling his hair.

“Ah well, you know that’s impossible, Bea,” he teased. “Now what you all have going on here? Who’s the drunkest?”

His comment earned him a pinch on the chest from Bea, but she was quickly onto the next thing; in her element as she brought them out on the deck with everyone else. Everyone that was already there had already met Matt when he had come to visit Alex during the summer and he fell right back into his normal easiness with everyone. Alex truly loved that her brother seemed to be able to get along with anyone.

They all gave hugs and kisses and then once the staff came out to let them know that their bags were in their rooms and unpacked, the most recent arrivals stepped away to their rooms to freshen up and change.


“Well, what do you think?” Harry asked Alex as he thanked their cabin steward and then shut their cabin door softly behind him.

“Harry,” Alex chuckled as she took in the elegant, well-appointed room that they were in before she moved to the dresser to pull out her swimsuit. “This room is as big as my entire apartment.”

“Hardly,” he smirked, glancing around the room himself before he walked towards her. He moved in behind her, sweeping the hair from the back of her neck and leaning in to press a soft kiss there. She sighed, leaning back into him. His arms moved around her, holding her tight to him. “Thank you for coming,” he murmured in her ear. “I love you.”

“Mmmm…I love you too, Harry,” she smiled, tilting her head back and to the side so he could find her lips with his. Harry groaned when his lips covered hers and her mouth immediately opened under his, allowing him to deepen this kiss. His tongue slid in against hers and when she let out a soft moan into his mouth Harry’s blood immediately surged. His hands began to roam, taking in her curves, amazed as always at the effect she had on him. He wanted her. He wanted her instantly and intensely and it had always been that way for him; he hoped it would always be that way. And just when he was ready to spin her around and push her towards the big bed in the middle of the room she pulled back slightly, breaking the kiss.

“Come back, Alex,” he breathed, his eyes heavy for her.

“I really, really want to, Harry,” she smiled, her eyes dancing. “But our friends are out on the deck and there will be plenty of time for this later.”

“You do know that I’m spoiled right?” he whispered huskily, pulling her back harder against him, pressing the evidence of his arousal against her backside. “That I’m used to getting what I want and I’ve been known to pout if I don’t get it.”

Alex couldn’t help the light laugh that left her lips. She brought a hand up to his cheek and patted it lightly. “Well, I guess it’s about time to break you of that Wales.” Then she stepped away from him, moving off towards the en-suite bathroom with a wink to change into her swimsuit; leaving him standing there, turned on, and definitely pouting.

He loved it.


They stepped back onto the main deck just as the boat was pushing from the dock and as lunch was being served in the outdoor dining area. Alex joined Kate, Eugenie, and Pippa at the large table where an amazing spread of food was set out buffet style and grabbed a plate, sliding some fruit and some delicious looking mini sandwiches on it while Harry acquired some drinks for them both. They moved over to settle at the large outdoor dining table and Alex gladly accepted both a mimosa and kiss from Harry as he moved in next to her. He was relaxed and happy, settling into his seat and leaning back, his arm moving to the back of Alex’s seat while he picked food from her plate, refusing to get his own.

“I told you I was spoiled,” he winked at her as he bit into a fresh strawberry.

Alex laughed and enjoyed the food and the company, laughing as the men got into a spirited debate about UK football teams. They all enjoyed getting a few ribs in at Matt for calling it soccer, much to Matt’s amusement.

After they had all eaten, the party moved out onto the deck and Matt pulled out his guitar, doing a fantastic job of getting everyone into a further party spirit with his choice of songs. Even Charlotte, who never turned down the opportunity to dig on Matt sat back and enjoyed it, even breaking down and singing along with him at one point, earning her several catcalls from the group.

And in true Charlotte fashion, she pursed her lips and flicked every single one of them off.

Alex was leaning back on a chaise lounge, soaking up the afternoon sun while Harry was over talking to Will, arguing something that they had no doubt argued a million times when Pippa leaned over from the chaise lounge next to her and called out Alex’s name in low voice.

“Hmmm?” Alex turned with a smile, pushing her sunglasses from her eyes.

“I have a confession,” Pippa whispered, glancing toward where Matt, Charlotte, Eugenie, and Jack sat, cracking up laughing at some song Matt was making up.

“A confession?” Alex chuckled, raising her eyebrow in Pippa’s direction as she reached for her drink, taking a sip.

“I’m crushing on your brother a little bit,” Pippa winked, her smile pulling wide.

“Ha!” Alex laughed. “You aren’t the first, I promise. I suppose you shouldn’t let Charlotte or Niko in on that little tidbit.”

“Nah, but I think I am going to make Niko take up the guitar,” Pippa chuckled as she slid her sunglasses back on her face, sending Alex into a fit of giggles.

The rest of the afternoon passed the same way, the air of fun and easiness all around them. There were jokes made, bets placed on ridiculous things, and many, many crazy stories told that had Alex laughing so hard her stomach hurt.

But the real excitement began to build when the sun started to sink low in the sky, when the party began to ease for the moment and everyone started to break off, heading back to their rooms to get ready for the night and Alex just knew that with how great the day had been so far, the night ahead of them would be even more amazing.

Her mood was one of excitement and exuberance as she stepped back into the room she was sharing with Harry to get ready for the night, a tipsy Harry right on her heels.

She couldn’t wait to see what this night would hold for them.

To be continued…