Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Fifty One

Alex smiled when she stepped from the elevator and onto her floor in her apartment building. Mark, Harry’s RPO, was stationed outside of her door. He nodded at her as she pulled her keys from her purse and her smile pulled wider. It had been a long day at work, and seeing as it was her birthday, this was exactly what she wanted to come home to.
“He must be just as excited to see me as I am to see him,” she said with a playful look at Mark.

Mark’s lips twitched and he nodded. “I believe so. And, happy birthday, ma’am.”

“Thank you,” Alex said softly, a bit surprised. “I appreciate that.” Mark nodded and Alex smiled gratefully one more time and then slid her key into the lock.

Everything about Alex relaxed as she stepped through her door. It had been a week since she had seen him. He had been on base and then traveling to a private meeting out of country for one of his patronages and God, she had missed him. She was more than ready to be with him, to be in his arms again. Molly wouldn’t be dropping Emma off for another hour or so, and Alex was definitely looking forward to making the most of that hour with Harry.

“Hello?” she called out into her quiet apartment. She peeked into her living room and into her kitchen and her brow furrowed when she didn’t see Harry. “I know you’re here, Wales!” Her voice was playful as she called out again. She took a few steps toward her bedroom, thinking that he might be in there waiting on her.

“I’m in here!” his voice finally called out, matching her playful tone, and she spun toward it.

“What are you doing in Emma’s room?” she chuckled as she moved quickly down to hallway. The door to her daughter’s room was slightly open and, raising a hand, she pushed it open and gasped, startled at the scene before her. “What in the world…”

Harry and Emma were sitting at a table in the middle of Emma’s room, although to be honest it didn’t look much like Emma’s room. It was decorated into the most elaborate and beautiful tea party scene Alex had ever seen. The table was covered with lace and topped with a selection of desserts, along with three perfect place settings and of course, Emma’s beautiful tea set. The overhead light was off, but the room had been strung with small white lights, the kind that are used most often on Christmas trees, and it gave the entire scene a warm, cozy glow.

“Surprise!” Emma yelled out, standing up from her chair and clapping her hands together as she watched her mother take it all in. “Happy Birthday, Mummy!”

Alex’s hand flew to hear chest and her face broke into a huge smile. She knelt down as Emma came running over to her and she opened her arms, pulling her daughter into a tight hug, not minding at all the face full of feathers she got from the huge feather boa Emma had wrapped around her.

“Wow. Look at all of this,” Alex breathed when she stood back up from Emma’s hug. Her eyes fell on Harry and her heart surged. “And look at you…”

Harry smiled wide and moved from his chair, standing to greet her. He kissed her softly and his eyes met hers, holding onto them for a beat before he pulled her hand into his, squeezing it gently. “Happy Birthday, love.”

“Thank you,” Alex grinned. “This is amazing. You two are incredible. And look, Emma even talked you into using the special set you gave her.”

“Well, it’s a special tea party,” Harry grinned, his eyes dancing. “Isn’t that right Emma?”

“It is!” Emma nodded, moving to stand behind the table. “We have real tea and real dessert, Mummy.”

“I see that,” Alex nodded as Harry led her to the table. He pulled her chair out for her and she giggled slightly as she sat, feeling incredibly loved in that moment. “I’m terribly excited to try them all.”

“But first you have to put on your tiara,” Emma said, pointing at the pretty silver tiara sitting above Alex’s place setting.

“Oh absolutely,” Alex winked at Emma. She placed the tiara on top of her head and turned to Harry. “How does it look?”

“Stunning,” Harry replied, chuckling at just how much Alex was enjoying everything.

“Wait. Where is your tiara, Em?” Alex asked, knowing Emma never missed a chance to wear one of her collection of the silver and gold plastic tiaras.

“Oh no, Mummy,” Emma shook her head seriously. “Today you are the princess because it’s your birthday. You are the only one who gets to wear a tiara.”

“Well, what if I want my pretty little girl to wear one? Can I change the rules?”

“Nope,” Emma said, popping her lips together on the word. She shook her head. “Rules are rules, Mummy.”

Harry couldn’t help the laughter that fell from his lips and Alex joined him before finally nodding her agreement. “Okay then, just this once,” she conceded. She surveyed the table before her, noting that each place setting was meticulously set, and they had even covered each plate with the beautiful porcelain covers that came with the set. “I’m so excited for everything,” she said, rubbing her hands together and reaching for the cover, intending to move it from her plate and get started.

“Mummy,” Emma called out, her bossy tone ringing out immediately and halting Alex. “At least let me pour the tea before you go after dessert.”

“Oh! So sorry, Emma Rose.” Alex giggled as she pulled her hand back from the table. “Please, I would love some tea.”

Emma poured the tea expertly for all three of them. There was a selection of milk, sugar, and honey and after they had all fixed up their tea how they wanted it and taken few sips, Harry set his tea down and with a big smile he clapped his hands together.

“Alright ladies, do we think it’s time for dessert?”

“Yes!” Emma squealed setting her tea down and leaning forward on the table to look at Harry.

“Yes!” Alex mimicked her daughter playfully, leaning forward to look at Harry as well, drawing a shout of laughter from him.

“Well then,” Harry nodded, his smile pulling wider. He sat up straighter in his chair and his eyes met hers, full of something Alex couldn’t quite pinpoint. “So, Emma and I got to talking and we picked out something special for you.”

Alex tilted her head to the side and her lips twitched as she regarded him with growing interest. “A special dessert? Like, birthday cake?”

Harry took a deep breath in and nodded towards her plate. “Why don’t you pull the cover off and see.”

Alex narrowed her eyes at him playfully, but in the spirit of everything this tea party was, she turned and reached for the porcelain cover and pulled it off with a flourish.

And then she gasped. There on the plate, in the place where she fully expected a piece of cake or pie to be waiting on her, there was none.

Instead, there was a small black box with the lid open, revealing an incredibly stunning diamond ring.


Harry took a deep, steadying breath as his car pulled up in front of the large, beautiful house in Texas. It looked the same as he remembered, but everything about this visit was different. He wasn’t there with Alex and Emma for a holiday or a vacation. This was a short trip; he would be back at the airport and on the private jet late that evening, but it was a necessary trip and one he would not have forgone for anything.

He stepped from the car and into the Texas morning sunshine he nodded to his RPO.

“Ready, sir?” Mark asked.

Harry chuckled and shook his head. “As I’ll ever be.”

Mark hid a small smile. It wasn’t his place to comment and he never would, but he had known Harry a long time and was pretty sure that this was the most nervous he had ever seen him and if it wasn’t, it was definitely in the top five.

They moved up the walk, but before Harry could even ring the doorbell, the door open up and Donna Emerson appeared, a smile that was just like her daughter’s firmly in place. Harry couldn’t help how his lips turned up in response.

“Harry.” She pulled him into a hug as Mark moved past them to do a check on the house.

“Donna,” he murmured, returning the hug before he pulled back and looked down at her with a cheeky grin. “I was sure Mike would be here to greet me with a very intimidating look on his face.”

“Ha!” Donna laughed, shook her head, and motioned for him to come inside. “Come on Harry, Mike would never. He would make sure he had a scary looking baseball bat to go along with the look.”

“Okay, that’s only funny if you’re kidding,” Harry quipped.

“Well,” Donna drawled, her eyes dancing, “he’s out back on the deck. I’ll take you to him and you can see for yourself.”

Harry laughed, enjoying the fun Donna was having at his expense.

He hadn’t told Alex’s parents why he was coming, but he was sure they had figured it out right away. And that was fine with him; he didn’t need it to be a big secret. He just wanted them to listen to what he had to say and hopefully at the end of it, give their blessing.

Donna led him through the house and out onto the deck where Mike sat at the big outdoor table. He was looking at a file but when he heard the back door open his head popped up, he grinned, tossed his folder onto the table, and leaned back in chair.

“Honey,” Mike called out to Donna. “I thought I told you to bring my baseball bat with you when you brought him out here.”

Harry’s lips twitched with laughter just as Donna shrugged and called back, “Sorry! I can run back in and get it if you’d like.”

“Naw,” Mike chuckled, rising to his feet with a smile and moved to shake hands with Harry. “I’ll let him off easy this time.”

“And I do appreciate that,” Harry grinned. He could feel himself relaxing, the nerves fading a bit. “Although, this is somewhat of a one-time only conversation.”

Donna sucked in a breath at Harry’s words. “Okay,” she said, letting the breath go slowly. “On that note, I’m going to go inside and let you two talk.”

Harry turned to Donna, his eyes open and honest. “I was actually hoping to speak to you both.”

“You will,” Donna said quietly, patting Harry’s arm. “But talk to Mike first. She’s a Daddy’s girl, Harry.”

Harry smiled softy and nodded. “Okay.”

Donna’s eyes grew a touch moist and then, before she could lose it in front of him, she leaned up, kissed Harry’s cheek, and then bustled off into the house, shutting the door gently behind her.

Mike watched his wife go with a look of complete adoration and then, turning to Harry, he nodded towards a chair. “Come on, let’s sit.”

“Of course,” Harry said, sliding into the chair across from Mike’s.

“So,” Mike began, folding his hands in front of him and regarding Harry seriously. “What brings you to Texas today, Harry?”

Harry chuckled, incredibly thankful for not only Mike’s humor, but also his ability to get straight to the point. And Harry, wanting to afford Mike the same treatment, jumped right in.

“When we talked over the summer on the camping trip,” he began, his face growing serious and his voice lower. “I told you about my PTSD and how I knew I wanted a life with Alex and Emma, you asked me if I was asking permission.”

Mike nodded slowly. “You said you weren’t sure that it was the right time.”

Harry took a deep breath and his eyes met Mike’s, strong and steady. “It’s the right time now. I want – more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life – to marry Alexandra. And it would mean everything to me to have your blessing to ask her to be my wife.”

“Then you have it,” Mike said without a moment’s hesitation.

Harry blinked, startled. “Just like that?”

Mike chuckled. “Were you expecting to have to convince me?”

“No,” Harry shook his head with a chuckle. “No, I didn’t think I’d have to convince you, but you said on the camping trip that you would give me a bit of a hard time.”

Mike shrugged. “Of course I did. I had to make sure you were a bit nervous. Couldn’t make it too easy for you to come here.”

Harry laughed then, leaning back into his chair and exhaling a large breath of hair. “Nice.”

“In all seriousness though, Harry,” Mike said, pushing the humor back for just moment. “I think you are a great guy. I think you’re honest and have a good head on your shoulders. And for someone who has had the kind of upbringing you’ve had, who has had every advantage the world has to offer, who has been through the kind of tragedy you’ve have…” Harry’s eyes snapped to Mike’s at the last part of his sentence. “You could have been the shithead rich guy who looks down on people. But you treat everyone with kindness and respect and you have protected and loved my daughter and granddaughter without fail. I don’t need convincing. You convinced me long ago.”

It was several beats before Harry spoke, before he was sure he would have a voice when he did. “Thank you,” he finally said, his voice a bit hoarse with emotion.

“No, thank you,” Mike replied. “For making my daughter and my granddaughter happy.”

Harry grinned then, images of Alex and Emma moving through his mind. “Well, they make me incredibly happy. I’ll spend my life making sure they stay happy and safe and loved. I promise I will take care of them, always.”

“Okay, I can’t take it anymore!” Both Harry and Mike’s heads turned in surprise as Donna called out from the patio door. “Can I come out now? I’m dying inside!”

Laughter pushed from Harry’s lips and Mike shook his head, amusement and affection for his wife written all over his face. “Come on!” he called out, waving his hand for her to join.

With a squeal of excitement, Donna made her way over to the table and both of the men stood as they waited for her.

“You said yes?” Donna asked Mike as soon as she reached them.

Mike rolled his eyes and his shoulders shook with laughter. “Of course I did. You knew I was going to.”

“Okay, but did you tell him what I told you to tell him?”

Harry’s lips twitched as he watched the conversation and he couldn’t help the warm feeling that washed over him. These people were going to be his family now. This warm, funny, good-hearted group of people would be his family. And more than ever, he felt like the luckiest man in the world.

“Jesus, Donna. I’m not going to tell the man that,” Mike groaned.

“Fine then,” she smirked. “I will.” She turned to Harry and walked straight up to him. “Harry, I need one promise from you before you’re in the clear here.”

“Anything,” he said with a smile.

“Grandbabies. I need more grandbabies,” Donna said, a look of complete seriousness on her face.

“Ha!” Harry laughed, his head tipping back with it. “Now I can absolutely promise to fulfill that wish for you.”

Donna’s eyes filled with tears and she opened up her arms. “Then welcome to the family, son.”

And as Harry stepped into her embrace, he was one step closer to everything he had ever wanted.


“Harry…” Alex breathed. Her hands flew to her mouth and her eyes flew to Harry, immediately filling with tears. “This is…Harry…”

Harry’s eyes grew serious and his heart beat a furious pattern in his chest. This was it. This was the moment he had been planning for almost as long as he knew her. He pulled in a deep breath and then he slid from his chair and moved to her, coming to rest in front of her chair on one knee. Her eyes were soft and wet and for a moment Harry forgot everything he was going to say. But it was short lived, just a second in time that came and went before he took her hands in his and prepared to ask her the most important question he ever would.

“When I met you almost two years ago, the one thing that was instantly clear to me was that I had to know you. I had to know everything about you. I’ve never felt something so…consuming before. And it scared me, but in the best way possible because, along with some very strong words from Charlotte…” He paused when she giggled and swiped at a tear that had fallen from the corner of her eye. He laughed lightly before he continued. “It pushed me forward…to you and to Emma. And after our first date, after I spent the evening here with you and Emma, watching The Little Mermaid and eating macaroni and cheese…”

“With cut up hot dogs,” she interrupted, bringing a chuckle and a grin from Harry and a giggle from Emma.

“With cut up hot dogs,” he added, his lips curling up at her humor. “After that night, it was over for me, Alex. I had to know you. I had to know all the little things about you; how you drink your coffee, how your face looks when you are really engrossed in a book, all the different was you laugh…”

“Harry…” she breathed, her hands squeezing his in reaction to his beautiful words. His smile pulled wider and he brought her hands to his lips, kissing the tops of them in turn before he continued. “And the great thing about it is I know all of those things now. But, there are so many things I don’t know and I want to spend the rest of our lives finding them out. I want to find out new things about you every day and I want to cherish the fact that you are so amazing and so complex that it will take a lifetime to know those things.”

Tears spilled from Alex’s eyes, but she didn’t try to control them. She didn’t want to stop them. They were a part of this beautiful moment and she wouldn’t take away any of it. And when he reached up and swiped at one of the tears sliding down her cheeks she leaned into his hand, waiting for him to continue.

His face grew a bit more serious and he scooted a bit closer to her, his chest pressing against her knees. “I know that my life is hard…”

“Harry, you don’t have to…”

“No, l do…” he nodded, his voice soft. “My life is hard. With the press and the expectations…” He took a deep breath. “I’m asking a lot of you and Emma.” He turned to look at Emma and he smiled at her, his chest rumbling with laughter when she grinned back and waved a hand, urging him to continue. “I know that I am. But, I want you both there with me. I want to be your husband, Alex and I want you to be my wife. I want to be parents to Emma together. I want to have more children with you. So please know that if you say yes, if you want all of those things too, I will do everything I can to make sure that you and Emma never once regret stepping into this craziness with me. I promise you both that.” He pulled in a large breathe and reached around her, pulling the little black box from the plate next to her. “So, with that being said,” he pulled the ring from the box and looked up at her with wide, bright, hope filled eyes that almost sent Alex from her chair and down to the ground with him. “Alexandra Mae Morgan, will you marry me?”

There was never a doubt in her mind what she would say to Harry when he asked her that question. She had known for almost as long as she had known him. And as she looked down on his handsome face and he looked up at her with such hope and happiness, she was never more sure of anything in her entire life. But, it hit her too in that moment that this wasn’t entirely up to her. There were two people he was asking to be officially a part of his life. So, she took a deep breath and turned to her daughter, who was watching with so much excitement Alex knew she could barely contain herself.

“Well, what do you think, Em? What do we say?” she asked softly, bringing her daughter into this amazingly important moment that would impact her life just as much as it would Alex’s.


“Harry!” Emma called out as he stepped through the door at Molly’s. “Mummy didn’t say you were coming to get me.”

Harry greeted Molly with kisses on her cheeks and a grin and then he turned to Emma and opened his arms for a hug, lifting her off the ground and into his arms.

“I’m actually not,” he said, tapping the tip of her nose with his finger. “And your mummy has no idea I’m here.”

“She doesn’t?” Emma tipped her head to the side with question.

“Nope,” Harry shook his head. “I actually came to talk to you.”

“Me? Am I in trouble?”

“No,” Harry chuckled. “Why? Did you do something you should be in trouble for?”

Emma’s eyes widened and she shook her head. “No way.”

“Ha!” Harry laughed as he leaned down to set her down on the ground. “Good. So Emma, do you have a few minutes to speak to me in private?”

She pulled a face and put her hands on her hips. “Are you sure I’m not in trouble?”

Harry groaned and leaned back down, picking her up, tossing her over his shoulder, and reaching up to tickle her side. She giggled loudly as Harry turned to Molly. “Thank you for letting me come do this and for agreeing to help me out with this little secret.”

“Please,” Molly grinned. “It was my pleasure. However, I’ll leave you two alone now. Alex will be here within the hour so you need to hurry.”

“Yes ma’am,” Harry grinned, raising his free hand in a mock salute and Molly chuckled as she moved off, letting Emma and Harry have their privacy.

Harry kept her over his shoulder as he carried Emma into the living room. He plopped her down onto the couch and then he slid in next to her. His smile pulled wide as he looked down on her. “I have something important to ask you, Emma.”

“Okay,” Emma nodded, her attention focused happily on him.

“Earlier this week, I took a trip to Texas to visit your Mimi and Poppy.”

Her little forehead scrunched in confusion. “Mimi and Poppy? Why?”

Harry took a deep breath. He reached down and brushed a piece of hair from her face. “I went to ask them if it was alright if I asked your mummy to marry me.”

Emma’s eyes went wide and her mouth fell open. “Are you kidding with me, Harry?”

“No,” he laughed, shaking his head. “I’m absolutely not kidding. I want to ask your mummy to marry me.”

“When?” Emma squeaked, still in a bit of shock.

“Well,” Harry drawled. “That’s where you come in.”


“Yes,” he nodded. “First, I want to know if it is okay with you if I ask your mummy to marry me. That’s very important me to me, that you are okay with it.”

“Harry!” she cried out, clapping her hands together and moving to her knees on the couch. “You’re so silly! I’m okay with it!”

Harry could help the way his face lit up at her reaction. “Yeah?”

“Duh…” She rolled her eyes. “You should have known that.”

His head tipped back in laughter and he reached for her, pulling her into a hug. “Okay, so if you are okay with it…” he said as he moved her back to the couch. “Now…what I’m about to say is super-secret. I mean it. It’s kind of like a top secret mission and we’re partners, but you can’t tell anyone. Not your friends at school, not Uncle Matt or Charlotte, and especially not your mum. Can you do that?”

“Yes,” Emma nodded eagerly, her little hands twisting together in excitement. “I can do that. I promise. I can keep a secret.”

“Alright, believe you,” he chuckled. “And so my next question to you is…will you help me ask her?”

Emma’s smile pulled wider and bright than Harry had ever seen it and it brought tears to his eyes. “How do you want to ask her?” she whispered.

“I was thinking that maybe we should throw her a tea party for her birthday. What do you think?”

And Emma’s squeal of delight told him everything he needed to know. She was in.


“Mum!” Emma cried, throwing her hands on her hips. “Come on…yes! Say yes!”

Laughter burst from Alex and she felt Harry’s chest shake against her knees with his own laughter. She turned back to him and she pulled his face into her hands, leaning closer to him.

“Yes, Henry Charles Albert David. Emma and I say yes.”

“Yes?” Harry breathed, his heart hammering into his chest as her words washed over him.

Alex found that the words, having left her mouth once already, had no chance of coming out again. Her emotions were simply too high in that moment. All she could do was nod her head like crazy while the tears clouded her vision. And then suddenly his arms were around her and pulling her against him. Her eyes closed and the tears pressed out of them as she wrapped her arms around him, melting into his embrace.

“Emma,” Harry called out hoarsely, turning towards her for just a moment. “Close your eyes. I’m going to kiss your mother now.”

“Ew!” Emma groaned, immediately bringing her hands up to cover her eyes.

Harry chuckled and then turned back to Alex. His eyes met hers and he brought a hand up, brushing her hair back from her face. “You said yes,” he whispered.

“I did,” she whispered back, her hands moving into his hair.

And then he tilted his mouth to hers and it was absolutely the sweetest thing in the entire world when their lips met, sealing this moment, this monumental moment, between them.

“I love you so much,” he murmured against her lips.

“I love you too,” she sighed, leaning in and opening her eyes to his.

“Hey…” Harry kept his voice low but pulled back from her slightly. He pulled her left hand up and with a steady hand, he slipped the beautiful ring on her finger.

“Wow…” Alex breathed. “I can’t even…”

“Okay…can I open my eyes now?” Emma called out, interrupting their moment, although neither one of them minded one little bit. They both laughed and pulled apart a bit, looking towards Emma.

“Yes!” Harry exclaimed, chuckling as Emma pulled her hand from her eyes with relief. “And come over here, Em!”

And Emma did just that, round the table and running into the arms of both of them with a giggle that spoke of the kind of happiness that all three of them felt in that moment.

The best kind of happiness; the kind you get when everything you’ve ever wanted is finally yours.