Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Forty Two Part One

For the first time in Alex and Harry’s relationship, life seemed to fall into a comfortable groove. The sex tape scandal had faded without seriously tarnishing Harry’s reputation, and as a result the press seemed to back off of them a little bit, allowing them to find a normal balance in life.

And they flourished.

Alex had made some big changes at HFTF and after realizing that her program had gotten bigger than she could handle by herself, she made the decision to hire an assistant director and she knew exactly who to call.
Susanna Griffith, Geoff’s widow who had come to visit the center several times since her initial visit to London, seemed to have a knack for the program, and had even successfully led a few group meetings. Alex met with her, gauged her interest, and upon approval from the rest of her staff, had hired her to work at HFTF. Alex kept the process a secret from Harry, not wanting him to influence Susanna in any way; but once it was final she broke the news to him one night as they crawled into bed and he didn’t even try to hide the fact that it made him cry. He didn’t care if he was sappy or too sentimental; Susanna held a special place in Harry’s heart and he knew that Geoff would have been proud of the work she was going to do with Alex.

Getting help at work also freed up some of Alex’s time for her University classes, which she had been struggling to keep up with. With the help of the University, she had managed to be situated with all online courses for the time being. Her presence caused disruptions in class, and since Alex wasn’t attached to the going to class part of school, just the learning, she was more than fine with that. The online schedule worked out much better for her and she got back on track right away.

Emma was safe and happy in her new school. She loved her teachers and had made quite a few new friends. Every weekend she would have a riding lesson with Zara and Zara had recently approached Alex with the idea of Emma entering a riding competition in the next few months. Alex thought it was a wonderful idea and was amazingly touched when she told Harry the date and he cleared his calendar for that day, making sure everyone in his office knew that nothing was to be scheduled then. He had been insanely busy between increased engagements and Army training, but he wouldn’t miss Emma’s first competition for the world.

They settled into it all, seeing each other when they could, and making the most of their time together. But when the beginning of March was upon them and Alex and Emma both had a week off for Spring vacation coming up, Harry decided that he needed to make good on a promise he made to Emma months before.

So, after he cleared his idea with Alex, had his office do some meticulous arranging of his schedule, their trip was set into place.

They were going to go to Africa.


Alex’s phone buzzed the instant she turned it on once their flight landed in Botswana. She and Emma had flown in separately from Harry, who had been in Lesotho for a couple days and would be meeting them at the resort later that evening.


“Landed safely then?” Harry’s smooth, deep voice teased through the line.

“Yes,” Alex chuckled as she leaned over to help Emma re-pack everything in her carryon bag. “How many times did you hit re-dial in an attempt to catch me right as we landed?”

“About…five,” he laughed, loving that she was calling him out.

“Ha!” Alex laughed. “Or?”

“Okay…ten,” he sighed, but she could picture his smile on the other end of the line.

“Oh-kay,” she grinned. “I still don’t believe you, but we will stick with ten. Anyway, when are you due in? Are you about to leave Lesotho?”

“I’m actually here.”

“Here? You’re at the resort already?”

“No,” he chuckled. “I’m at the airport. I’m picking up my girlfriend and her beautiful daughter. Can you make sure they know if you see them on the plane?”

“I can’t believe you’re here,” she said softly, her stomach already fluttering at the thought of seeing him. It had been a week and she missed him. Suddenly the seatbelt light over her head went off and Emma jumped from her seat, almost climbing over Alex to try and get off the plane. “Emma, relax for a second,” Alex said quietly before she turned her attention back to Harry. “Anyway, you can tell them for yourself in just a few moments, they are letting us de-plane.”

“Yeah? Fantastic. I’ll be waiting at baggage claim. I can’t wait to see you and Em.”

She couldn’t help but smiled wide at the excitement in his voice. “We can’t wait either.”

The quickly made their way off of the plane, and once Alex told Emma that Harry was waiting for them at baggage claim, Emma let out a squeal of epic proportions and practically dragged Alex through the small airport terminal.

And sure enough, when they reached baggage claim, there he was, with his trust protection officer in tow. He was dressed down in shorts, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap. He was tanned already from his days in Lesotho and Alex couldn’t help but thing how sexy he looked, so casual and relaxed.

“Harry!” Emma cried as she spotted him by the baggage carousel. She broke from Alex and took off running, covering the twenty yards between them quickly before flying into his arms. Alex laughed happily as she hurried to catch up, wanting to get her hands on Harry herself.

“Oh I missed you, Em,” Harry grinned as he pulled her up into his arms. He hugged her tight and then shifted her to his hip.

“I missed you more,” Emma giggled as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“I doubt it,” he chuckled. Then his eyes fell on Alex and if possible, his gaze softened even more. He had missed her terribly.

“Hey you,” she winked as she got to them, a bright and happy smile on her face.

He had been ready to set Emma down in order to greet Alex but Alex didn’t wait. She just moved into his side, hugging around his waist happily while he held Emma to his other side. He smiled down at her as he wrapped a strong arm around her.

“You know the drill, Emma,” he said with a pointed, playful look in Emma’s direction. Alex laughed when her daughter clapped a hand over her eyes and Harry took his opportunity and leaned down to kiss his girlfriend properly.

And even though it was a small airport and no one at all really expected them to be there, one lucky traveler recognized the trio and snapped a picture of the scene unfolding; Harry laughingly pressing a warm kiss to Alex while he held her daughter in his arms, the little girl’s hand hilariously clapped over her eyes to block out the scene before her. It went viral before Harry could even get Alex and Emma’s luggage loaded into the car.

And none of them cared a single bit.


Emma spent the entire hour long ride from the airport to the resort they would be staying at with her eyes glued to the window, desperately looking for any sign of the numerous species of wild life that Harry had promised her that she would see in Africa. It didn’t matter that Harry explained to her that they probably wouldn’t see the wild animals until they went on the first safari the next day; nothing was going to deter Emma from looking. She didn’t want to look away if there was a chance that she might miss something.

When they finally arrived at the resort the car drove them right past the main building, where Alex assumed that most people that weren’t Harry had to actually check in, to the back of the grounds where their private accommodations were. Alex wasn’t entirely sure why she was surprised that the “bungalow” Harry had told her about wasn’t exactly a bungalow, but was really a decent sized house. She could tell however, that it was built with the intention that it was to blend in with the beautiful surroundings, with the trees, the rolling hills, and the mountains in the distance. It was close to the ground, its colors were very natural, and it really was gorgeous and completely unobtrusive.

As they were pulling to a stop in front of the house a man stepped out of the front door. He was tall and thin, had sun-streaked light brown hair, was very tan, and was dressed casually in khaki pants and a tucked in khaki shirt.

“That is the owner of the resort and the conservancy it sits on, Oscar Du Plessis” Harry informed Alex.

She raised a teasing eyebrow at him. “And I suppose he greets all guests personally?”

“Only ones he’s known since they were tiny little children,” Harry laughed.

The driver opened the door just then and Harry threw a playful wink at Alex before sliding out of the car. He helped both Emma and Alex from the SUV and then he turned, a grin on his handsome face as his old friend moved toward him. “Oscar!”

“Harry!” Oscar grinned in return, clearly delighted to see him. The two men shook hands and then hugged, clapping each other firmly on the back. “How are you?”

“I’m great.” Harry’s smile pulled even wider as he pulled Alex and Emma closer. “Oscar, allow me to introduce two very special ladies in my life. This is Alexandra Morgan and her daughter Emma Morgan.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Oscar said, turning to them. His smile was wide and genuine as he reached for Alex’s hand. “Alexandra, I’ve heard so much about you.”

“Nice to meet you, and please call me Alex,” she returned, automatically feeling at ease with Harry’s old friend.

“Alex,” he nodded. His eyes shifted down to Emma and he crouched, getting on her level. “I’ve heard a lot about you as well, Emma. I’ve also heard you love animals.”

“I do,” Emma smiled, firmly shaking the hand that Oscar offered. “Harry said I’ll get to see a lot of them this week.”

“You will,” Oscar confirmed. “And actually…” He whistled loudly then, startling Emma just a bit. But her surprise turned to elation when a small monkey appeared from the roof of the house, jumping across to a tree and then climbing quickly down and making its way to Oscar.

“Oh wow…” Emma breathed, her eyes going wide.

“This is Dyshiki,” Oscar said. “Do you want to say hi?”

Emma nodded frantically and Oscar motioned to Dyshiki, who came close, looking at Emma expectantly. Oscar told Emma to hold out her hand and when she did Dyshiki immediately grabbed on and swung his little body up and onto Emma’s shoulder.

“Mummy look!” Emma called, turning towards Alex with wide, happy eyes. “It’s a monkey! His name is Dyshiki.”

Alex grinned and leaned into Harry, just so incredibly thrilled with this moment, with what Emma was being given the chance to experience. “That’s so awesome, Emma,” she called back.

Emma nodded quickly and then turned back to Oscar, giggling as Dyshiki made noise and bounced on her shoulder. “What does Dyshiki mean?” she asked him.

“Well, I’m glad you asked that,” Oscar said. He reached into his pocket and Dyshiki immediately started clapping excitedly. “It means ‘one who likes candy.’” He pulled out a peppermint and the monkey quickly snatched it and popped it right in his mouth, much to Emma’s delight.

Oscar grinned and then pulled several more candies from his pocket and put them in Emma’s pocket, ensuring that she would be able to keep the monkey occupied for a few minutes, and then he stood, grinning at Harry and Alex.

“Let me show you the bungalow quickly and then I’ll let all of you settle in,” he said, nodding towards the house.

“Fantastic,” Harry nodded. He slid an arm around Alex’s shoulders and motioned for Emma to move in front of them as they followed Oscar inside. Emma grinned, ecstatic that she was able to carry her new friend on her shoulder inside the bungalow.

Oscar gave them a quick tour of the house and it really was amazing. There were three bedrooms, each with their own bathroom attached. There was a living area with a huge flat screen TV, a dining area, a kitchen with everything anyone could ever need, and even a private swimming pool out back. The sun was just starting to set and the view was so startlingly beautiful that Alex gasped and had to take a moment to take it all in.

After a few moments spent chatting, Oscar gathered his monkey from Emma, thanked her heartily for entertaining him, and then he bid them all good-bye, leaving them to enjoy the rest of their evening.

“Mummy! Harry! I want to go swimming!” Emma pleaded the instant Oscar was out of sight. “Please please please…”

“Ha!” Alex laughed. “I think I would have been worried if that wasn’t the first thing out of your mouth, Emma.”

Emma slapped her hands right on her hips and gave Alex a look that clearly said that wasn’t the answer she was looking for, bringing a shout of laughter from Harry and pulling Alex’s smile even wider.

“Of course you can swim,” Alex finally said. “Actually…” She turned towards Harry. “I think we all should go swimming.”

“I’m in,” Harry agreed instantly. “In fact…” He threw them both a wink and a smirk and surprised Emma and Alex by running straight to the edge of the pool and jumping, doing a fully clothed cannon ball right into the pool.

Emma turned wide eyes towards her mother and Alex couldn’t help the giggle that slipped from her lips as Harry came to the surface, laughing and shaking excess water from his red head of hair. “What are you waiting for Em? Get in!”

Emma’s mouth dropped. “Really?”

“Yep,” Alex nodded with a grin. She watched as Emma squealed and then took off toward the edge, jumping in fully clothed as well and swimming right over to Harry.

And Alex took one more moment to take in her surroundings; the beautiful house, the stunning view, the warm, sultry air. She felt light and airy and so incredibly happy and her she let it sink in just where she was and who she was with. Her eyes finally fell on Harry and Emma laughing and motioning for her to join, and so she did, running and jumping in to the warm water with her loves.