Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Forty Seven Part Two

"Good morning…"

Alex’s voice was whisper soft in his ear but it still roused him from sleep; it always would. His eyes slid open and straight to me blonde snuggled up into his side, her eyes still heavy from sleep and her hair spread out on the air mattress under them. It was still early morning; the light was just barely coming in through the tent and although it was warm in the tent, the real heat of the day hadn’t set in yet. It was quiet outside and it didn’t sound like anyone else was up yet.

"Mmm…" he smiled. "Yes it is."
"Harry?" Alex whispered, her hand moving to his bare chest, her fingers tracing light circles. She turned her big blue eyes up to his and there was such a mixture of innocence and lust in them that his body immediately went on alert.

"Alex?" he lifted his eyebrows as his fingers reached up and brushed a piece of hair from her forehead.

She held his eyes and leaned forward to press a soft kiss against his chest. Something about the soft light and the quiet surrounding them, with just the sounds of the birds and the water flowing not too far from them made her want him desperately. She couldn’t explain it. Maybe it was the pureness of the morning. Maybe it was the fact that it was just them in the tent and she felt like she hadn’t been alone with him in so long, even though it was just a couple of days. But it really didn’t matter why; she wanted him and that was the only thing she could think about.

"Can we?" she whispered, a wide smile stretching across her face as she pressed another kiss to his chest. His eyes flashed wide as her hand left his chest and slid south, down under the light sheet that covered them.

"Baby…" His groan was quiet as he reached for her hand, snatching it into his just before it found its ultimate target. Her bottom lip jutted out and Harry shook his head in warning. "Your parents and Emma are in a tent not fifteen feet away."

"Harry, I need you. And I can be quiet…" she responded, pulling her lip back and in between her teeth and widening her eyes in a move so deliberately innocent that she knew he couldn’t resist. The thing was though, that even without the look she gave him, she knew she had him. She knew that he wasn’t going to tell her no. She knew he was torn between propriety and his desire for her and she knew which one would win. And so she moved even closer, pressing herself fully into his side and tangling her legs with his.

And he knew. He knew that she knew she had him.

”Alexandra,” he warned low, even as he turned his body towards her, even as he pulled her into the circle of his arms. She grinned wide as she let him, loving the warmth he brought with him. “You have to be absolutely silent.”

"I can do that," she nodded. Her hands moved up his chest and around his neck where they slid up into his mess of red hair, smashed and spiky from going to sleep with it wet. "The question is, Captain…can you?"

"Jesus Christ. You drive me crazy, Alexandra," he growled low right before his lips captured hers.

She sighed into him as his tongue pushed in between her lips, finding hers and running hot, slow strokes against it. Her fingers tightened in his hair and she tugged him closer. She needed more. She needed all of him; she needed every inch of him pressed against every inch of her. She shifted against him, her leg moving up over his hip, hooking around the back of his leg and he gasped into her mouth as she pressed herself against him. Her eyes flew open and she grinned against his month. She could feel him through his boxers and her pajamas, hard and ready. She lifted an eyebrow and moved a hand in between them, sliding down his chest and stomach until it slipped into his boxers and she wrapped her fingers around him.

His breath came out in a rush and his hands gripped at her as she stroked him slowly. He pushed at her pajama top until her breasts were in his hands and it was her turn to react, it was her turn to sigh at his touch and his smile was smug and his eyes sparked as he watched hers slide close, as he watched her try to reign it in, to keep silent like she promised she would as his fingers teased and tugged her sensitive nipples. Alex’s head tipped back, exposing her throat to Harry and he immediately moved in, pressing hot, wet kisses against her neck. Her breath hitched and she squirmed against him, the leg thrown over him tightening, telling him without words exactly what she wanted from him.

Harry took a deep breath against the skin of her neck and then lifted to look at her, his eyes finding hers. They were hot and pleading, almost frantic; and in them he could read the words she couldn’t say.

“Please…”

His breath was heavy and deep as his hands left her breasts and slid down to her hips, his fingers dipping inside of her pajama shorts. His eyebrows lifted in a silent, "Are you sure?"

She nodded slowly and squeezed his cock harder in her hot little hand. "Yes. Now."

And that was all he needed. With a grin he pushed at her tiny pajamas shorts and she shifted to allow him to pull them down and off of her, along with her panties. Alex’s breath was coming in pants, her anticipation for him almost unbearable as he tossed her shorts and panties to the side and pushed at his own boxers, sliding them off. Her eyes flickered down and she took him in, hard and ready and just as naked as she was. And her entire body pulsed in want for the warm, loving, incredibly sexy man in front of her.

Harry’s hands returned to her, pulling her back to him. His hands were almost rough as he tugged her leg back over his hip and her eyes flashed to his. She almost moaned at the passion in the light blue depths and she was so close to begging for him to just take her, to fill her and ease the ache that was taking her over, when his fingers found her center. They slid into the hot wetness and her eyes flashed wide and she gripped at him, her nails digging into his shoulders.

The smallest of groans fell from his lips and he couldn’t take it. She was hot and wet and when he slid his thumb up her center to run a slow a circle around her clit she let out a shudder that downright threatened to end him. He buried his face in her neck and fought for control. He wanted to take her fiercely. The way she had asked for this, the way she threw caution to the wind and didn’t think twice about asking him to do the same made him want to take her in the way that made her groan and moan and scream his name, but he couldn’t and he didn’t know if he could fight the urge that made him want that so badly.

And then Alex, in that way she had of bringing him back to where he needed to be, to stop his brain from spiraling, tightened her arms about him and brought her lips to his ear and she whispered low and full of lust, “I need you inside of me, Henry. So badly. Please…”

His breath blew hot against her neck and then he lifted his head to look at her. He leaned forward, his nose nudging hers. His eyes were so close as he adjusted, moving an arm under her neck and around to circle her shoulders. His other hand left her center, moving to her leg thrown over his and he wrapped his long fingers around her knee, tugging it higher over his hip. And then, with a soft smile and an even softer kiss to her lips, he pushed himself into her as far as he could, a hiss of air leaving his lips as her heat wrapped around him.

Her eyes slid closed in relief and the feeling of fullness that came with this, with him buried inside of her. His arm about her shoulders tightened and he pulled her closer. His nose nudged hers and she knew he was trying to get her attention. He wanted her to look at him. Somehow she managed to pull her eyelids open and when she did she found that his deep blue eyes were so close that they were the only thing she could see, the only focal point she had and it was so intimate, so sexy that it sent a pool of want straight to her core. And Harry caught it. He caught it and he grinned and then finally, devastatingly, he began to move within her.

Their position, their angle, didn’t allow for a wide range of movement, but that only made it more intimate, it only made the level of passion between them to move higher and higher. Their eyes stayed locked as they rocked against each other slowly and because they had to be silent, because they couldn’t moan and groan and tell each other how good it felt, they communicated everything through the looks that passed between them and through the way their bodies moved so seamlessly together. His hand held her tight to him and their lips met in slow, passionate kisses. Their breath moved from their lungs in soft rushes as the heat continued to build around them in the tent.

And When Alex’s eyes widened and he felt her try to adjust, to start to reach for it, he was right there with her. He was just as ready as she was. His hand slid from the leg wrapped around him, over her hip, and down to her core where his fingers immediately began to stoke, firm and steady. He nodded slowly, his forehead moving against hers as he begged her with his eyes and his fingers and his body to let go.

Her chest rose and fell against his rapidly and she pulled her up between her teeth and finally, just when Harry was sure he couldn’t last another fucking second with the way she felt around him, against him; her body tensed, her eyes flew wide, her mouth fell open and she exploded fiercely around him.

Harry watched, enthralled, as she came apart, as she took in large gulps of air and let each one out in a shuddering, silent breath that did more to him than any moan or groan could have in that very moment, and it was all over for him. Resisting the natural urge to groan her name, he tipped his head forward, captured her mouth, and tumbled over the edge with her, clenching her to him tightly as his body pulsed against her until he was spent, just as she was.

Their breathing was heavy and their hearts beat wild patterns in their chests and they came down from the pleasure that had exploded between them. Finally, after one last soft kiss, Harry pulled his face from Alex’s and found her eyes with his. They were heavy from passion but bright from being loved by him and he could feel his ego swell. He couldn’t help it; she did that to him.

“Thank you,” she whispered low, her lips twitching at just how little those two words conveyed how grateful she was that he had loved her like he just had.

“Mmmm…” He smiled and then with one more kiss to her nose he pulled back from her, slipping from her body with a soft groan. He squeezed her thigh gently before pulling it from him and then he sat up and gathered their discarded clothes. He handed hers back to her and they both quickly re-dressed before he tugged her back to him and laid back down on the mattress. “Do you want to go back to sleep?”

“No,” she answered quietly, shaking her head against his chest. “I’m awake now.”

“Me too,” he murmured. “Alex?”

“Hmmmm?”

“Keep in mind that I am in no way complaining here, but what exactly is it about Texas that makes you want to have sex with me in semi-public places?”

And Alex couldn’t help the shout of laughter that left her lips. She clapped her hand over her mouth but it was no use, the damage had already been done. She knew others in the campsite would have heard her and it wouldn’t be long before everyone was up. But as she giggled against Harry’s chest, which was shaking with his own laughter, she didn’t care.

“I don’t know,” she finally managed to get out. “But whatever it is has worked out well for you.”

He grinned. “Yes, yes it has.”

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

“So, whatcha think man?” Matt grinned over at Harry as they floated down the river. They had all tied their tubes, which much to Harry’s surprise, had rubber bottoms attached so if they drug along anything no one would get an injury in a not so nice place, together around one central tube, which held the cooler full of drinks that was necessary on these trips.

“I’m thinking that this may need to be an annual trip,” Harry replied, his own smile firmly in place as he tipped his beer can back to his lips. He was sure his security officers were not happy about the busy river and how easy it would be for any of them to get separated, but so far everything had gone well and for the most part, people had left him and Alex alone. He knew there were pictures snapped and he was sure they were being uploaded to social media sites, but there was nothing he could do about that and really, there was no point in being upset about it.

“We used to do this every year when we were younger,” Matt said as he reached into the cooler. He tossed a beer at Charlotte who was busy in conversation with Donna and she yelped as the ice cold beer landed on her stomach. She turned and threw a look at Matt before turning back and Matt laughed as he pulled one out for himself. “I could certainly see us picking up the tradition again.”

“We will then. Even Charlotte is having fun,” Harry nodded with a smug smile in her direction and she turned around once again, a glare in her eyes.

“Well I tell you what, Wales. You and your friend right here won’t be having any fun if you don’t knock it off,” she called out, eyeing each one of them in turn, before turning back around to Donna, who was howling with laughter at Charlotte’s dressing down of her son.

“Be nice,” Alex called out from her tube, where Emma was currently sitting in her lap, her own tube – tied between Harry’s and Alex’s – having sat empty as Emma has made her way around the group.

“You know what’s not nice?” Harry called back. He pulled his aviators down on his nose and peered at his girls, both with looking at him with smiles on their faces. “It’s not nice that Emma has gone and visited everybody in this flotilla we have created but me. That’s not nice at all.”

Alex laughed and then turned to her daughter. “You better go visit him before he gets grumpy. We don’t want grumpy Harry do we?”

“Nooooo,” Emma shook her head with a giggle. “He’s no fun when he’s grumpy.”

“Go on then,” Alex said, her smile wide as she sat up and helped Emma to navigate out of her tube and crawl across to Harry.

“Oomph,” Harry grunted as Emma landed with a plop in his lap, her cold, wet swimsuit and lifejacket bringing goosebumps to his skin, heated by the sun.

“Hi Harry!” she sang out as she made herself comfortable.

“Hi Emma!” he sang back, reaching out to ruffle her damp hair. “Are you having fun?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “Are you?”

“Absolutely,” Harry nodded, his smile wide as he winked at her and then threw a glance at Alex, who was watching them with love in her eyes. “I always have fun with you, Em.”

“I know,” she sighed as she reached for his sunglasses, pulling them off his face and pushing them onto hers. “I’m a lot of fun.”

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

It was late afternoon when they reached the stopping point on the river. There was a bus secured and ready to take all of them up back up to their campsite along with their rental tubes. They had just pulled everything from the water, untied all of the tubes from each other, and the staff that ran the bus service was throwing all of the tubes into the trailer attached to the back of the van when someone not with their group called out Matt’s name.

"On God," Alex mumbled under her breath when she spotted the pretty brunette smiling at Matt and moving in to give him a familiar hug.

Harry followed Alex’s gaze and then leaned in closer to her. “Who is that?” he asked.

"That’s Matt’s ex-girlfriend, Natalie," Alex said with a roll of her eyes. She looked down at Emma and then covered her daughter’s ears with her hands. "She’s a complete and total bitch."

Harry’s eyebrows lifted and his lips twitched in surprise at Alex’s words. “Really? Why?”

Alex pulled her hands from Emma’s ears and Emma giggled and looked up at her mum. “I know you cursed, Mummy. You only do that when you say a bad word.”

Alex shook her head and laughed. “You’re on to me, huh?” Emma nodded and grinned and Alex ruffled her hair before turning back to Harry. “When she broke it off it was bad. She moved away and ditched him without any warning…she did it on their graduation day from college. It was tough for him.”

“On their graduation day?” Harry asked incredulously. “That’s awful.”

“Yeah,” Alex nodded. “I came in for the graduation. Emma wasn’t even two yet. But Mom watched her that night and I got wasted with Matt that night and gave him a shoulder to…you know…”

"I almost feel like I should get wasted with him tonight,” Harry chuckled, knowing just now shitty being left by the woman you love was. He was lucky enough that it wasn’t a permanent thing with him and Alex and the situation had obviously been different with them, but he knew Matt must have had a hard time and even though it was well in the past, he still felt for him.

"What’s wasted?" Emma asked, bringing a laugh from Harry and a sigh from Alex.

"Something you won’t be for a very long time," Harry said and then, with the intent of distracting the curious little seven year old standing with them, he leaned forward and tickled her quickly before offering her a piggyback ride up the hill to the van. "You coming?" he asked Alex once Emma was firmly up and secured on his back, her arms wrapped around his neck.

"I’ll be right there," she smiled. She watched as Harry and Emma moved off before turning back to watch Matt with Natalie. He was currently introducing her to Charlotte, who had a polite smile in place, but Alex knew it was her fake smile and that she wasn’t happy. Matt must have told her about Natalie at some point, Alex figured. That was definitely something, Matt rarely discussed it. Then she smothered a smile when Natalie said hello to their parents. Donna gave her a tight lipped smile and Mike offered only a small nod. They obviously remembered Matt’s reaction to being dumped and weren’t going to forget it any time soon. And then their attention shifted and turned to Alex. She sighed before pulling a small smile and then moved over to them, off to pretend she didn’t want to push her brother’s ex-girlfriend right into the river.

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

“Alright Emma,” Alex called out, clapping her hands together as she stood and looked towards her daughter who was making a valiant effort to stay away in her chair as she listened to her Uncle Matt single and play a bit on his guitar. It was late and it had been a long day and Alex knew if Emma didn’t get to bed she was going to be a handful the next day. “It’s bedtime little girl.”

Emma’s drooping eyes snapped open, her chin set in defiance, and Alex knew right away that her daughter was about to put up a fight. It didn’t happen often, but when it did it was not pretty.

“No, Mummy,” Emma shook her head. “I’m not tired.

Alex lifted an eyebrow. “Yes, you are. You were half asleep a moment ago. Don’t fight me on this, Emma. I’m taking you to the tent and you’re going to bed and that’s the final word on it.”

Emma immediately crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head again, this time with more conviction behind it. “No!”

Alex sighed and then she moved over to Emma’s chair and knelt down to speak to her directly so everyone else couldn’t hear every word that was being said. She knew that Emma could easily be putting on a show for the group and she wanted to cut that from the equation.

“Emma, you aren’t being very polite and I don’t appreciate it,” Alex said softly but firmly to her daughter, who at this point was refusing to even look her in the eye. “You don’t have a choice here. I’m telling you to go to bed and you need to drop this attitude and do as I say.”

“You’re not being fair at all!” Emma yelled out, finally turning around to face Alex.

“I’ve already let you stay up much later than I should, so I’ve been more than fair, Emma Rose Morgan. Now, I’m going to stand up and you’re going to get out of the chair and come with me to the tent,” Alex said, her voice taking on more of an edge and she could see Emma waver, she could see her try to decide if it was worth it to keep up the fight.

“I’m not going Mummy,” Emma finally said, her voice low and challenging and Alex almost groaned; Emma was definitely on tonight. “And you can’t make me.”

Alex’s eyes widened slightly at Emma’s words and then she leaned even closer and brought out the voice that Emma rarely heard but still let her know that she was in huge trouble. “I don’t know what has gotten in you Emma, but we’re done here. I’ve given you too many chances to do as you are supposed to and now you and I are going to have a private talk in the tent where we will come up with exactly how long you will be grounded for when we get home.”

And as Emma’s mouth fell open and her eyes filled with tears Alex stood up and then leaned forward and pulled Emma from the chair, not even flinching at the wail that left her daughter’s mouth as she held her in her arms and walked swiftly from their group over to the tent. She moved inside of it with a still crying Emma and zipped it firmly shut behind them.

Harry had watched the entire thing unfold and as she disappeared he couldn’t help but shake his head at what he had just witnessed. Of course he had seen Emma misbehave, had even disciplined her himself on occasion, although nothing quite like the outright disrespect that she had just displayed. But he knew Emma was tired and he knew kids had meltdowns; it was normal and even though she was normally a great kid, she wasn’t beyond the occasional tantrum.

But Alex was a great mother. He had known that, of course, but this only served to solidify his conviction in that and in truth, it only made him love her more and made him that much more desperate to make her a mother again. It wasn’t necessarily watching her discipline Emma that made his thoughts drift to making children with her; it was how Alex didn’t talk down to Emma even when Emma back-talked. It was how she didn’t raise her voice and embarrass Emma in front of everyone, instead choosing to take her away and do it privately when things escalated. She still showed her daughter she loved her in those moments, which is something that Harry remembered that his own mother did for him and it made him smile.

“I didn’t know a tent could inspire such a smile.”

Harry turned at the voice and chuckled as Alex’s dad Mike grinned and then slid in next to him. He had two beers in his hand and offered one to Harry, who accepted it with a smile and a nod. He popped it open and then sat back in his chair. “It’s not so much the tent, as the occupants of it,” he laughed.

“Ah,” Mike nodded. “I’m sure there is an epic battle of wills going on in there right now.”

Harry’s lips twitched. “My bet is on the taller one.”

Mike laughed and shook his head. “She’s unstoppable when she wants to be.”

Harry’s smile went a touch soft and he turned to look at Mike. He genuinely liked Alex’s father. He had spent a good amount of time with him both last year at Thanksgiving and then at Christmas and he respected Mike. He was a solid man who loved his wife and kids and worked hard to provide them with a comfortable life. He was the type of man that Harry would want to be if he would have had the choice.

And suddenly Harry found that he wanted Mike to know, without a shadow of a doubt how much Alex and Emma meant to him, what they had done for him. And there was really only one thing he could think of to explain it to Mike, to show him how much he respected and loved Alex.

He took a deep breath and gathered his nerve, needing to be steady for the conversation he was about to have. “She saved me you know…”

Mike’s smile faded and his eyes turned serious and focused on the young man who looked like he was about to let him in on something important. “How do you mean?”

“Only a few people in the world know this…” Harry began, looking to the night sky for a moment as he pulled his thoughts together. “When I came back from deployment last year, I was suffering from a pretty heavy case of PTSD.”

“That’s pretty common among soldiers,” Mike said gently.

Harry nodded slowly. “One night, less than a month before my deployment was over, I taped that BBC interview and told them that I was in love with a girl back in England.”

“We saw it,” Mike said with a humored smile. “It was surreal to say the least, knowing who you were speaking of.”

Harry laughed and took a sip of his beer. “It was surreal to give the info to the press without hesitation. But…it just happened. Anyway…” He took a deep breath. “I was supposed to fly that night but a friend of mine offered to trade off so that I could call Alex and let her in on what I said, just in case the footage leaked early.”

“Go on…” Mike prodded quietly when Harry stalled for a few moments, the memories washing over him.

“He died that night,” Harry said softly. “Geoff died in his Apache that night.”

“Ah…” Mike breathed, his heart hurting for the young man sitting with him, for the devastation he must have felt. “And you blamed yourself.”

“I did,” Harry nodded. “And I kept it from Alex – from everyone – for a long time. It almost brought me down.”

“I’d give you the whole ‘it’s not your fault your friend died’ speech,” Mike said. “But I have a feeling you already know that. Is that where my daughter comes in?”

“She’s the reason I was able to see what the PTSD and Survivor’s Guilt were doing to me, yes,” Harry replied, his voice wavering with the emotion. He turned to face Mike and his eyes met his, open and honest. “I got pretty far into it at the end and I didn’t treat Alex so well. I didn’t hit her or anything like that,” he rushed to assure Mike. “I would never.”

“I believe that one hundred percent,” Mike responded instantly.

“Thank you,” Harry nodded. “I just…I was using Alex as a crutch. I didn’t want to face it and so I focused all of my attention on her. I used her to push all the bad stuff back. But she caught on…” He took a deep breath and shot Mike a small smile. “She caught on, called me out, and when I denied it and said some shitty things, she stuck to her convictions, told me she wouldn’t allow me to use her like that, and she left me.”

Mike’s smile pulled wide. “And you respect her for that, don’t you?”

Harry chuckled. “Now I do, absolutely. I wasn’t so thrilled at the time. But the thing was that she didn’t give up on me. She didn’t write me off as so many people would have…as so many people have. Even though I was awful to her, even though I denied everything, she went straight to my father. She called up the Prince of Wales on the phone and told him she thought his son had PTSD without a second thought. Over the course of a week they figured it all out, got my brother involved and confronted me.”

“When she wants something, when she believes in something…she’s determined,” Mike said softly. “I’ve never seen such determination.”

Harry couldn’t help the laughter than slipped through his lips. “You know she said that exact same thing to me when she was trying to get me to see reason, to seek treatment. Word for word she said, ‘I’ve never seen such determination.’”

Mike chuckled and leaned back in his chair. “I think that’s probably a trait that both of you recognize in the other. Something that is important to you.”

Harry was silent for a moment, running Mike’s words through his mind, working through how to respond to them. “You’re right,” he finally nodded. “It is something I see in her, something I’d always told myself I wanted in the person that I would spend my life with. And…” He took a deep breath. “I knew before the intervention for my PTSD that I wanted a life with her; with Alex and Emma. But after that, when she refused to give up on me, when she chose to get me help and to stand by me during the process…” He sat up straight and looked Mike straight in the eye. “That’s when I know that she was it for me in every way; that she could handle the pressures of my life, that she was exactly who I’d always wanted.”

"Wow…" Mike breathed, running a hand through his hair. "Harry, to be clear…are you asking my permission right now?"

Harry smiled softly. “No…I’m not sure this is the right time to ask. At least that isn’t my intention tonight. I mostly just wanted you to know how amazing she is, or rather that I understand how amazing she is. And how much I respect and love her.”

Mike nodded and reached over to clap Harry on the back. “You are a good man. Harry. I couldn’t ask for better for Alex and Emma.”

"Thank you, sir," Harry said, swallowing at the lump in his throat brought on by Mike’s words

“That doesn’t mean when you do ask I’m not going to take my only chance to give you just a little bit of hell about making sure my girls are treated right,” Mike cracked, bringing a laugh from Harry who enjoyed the good-natured ribbing.

“I would expect no less,” Harry grinned.