Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Sixty Three


She turned her head from the window, where she had been staring out at the night as they flew over the Atlantic Ocean towards the US. Her eyes were puffy and glassy as they met her brother’s, filled with the same sort of anxiety, the same sort of fear.

“Matt.” She gave him a weak smile and then patted the leather of the seat next to her. He slid in next to her and immediately lifted his arm and moved to wrap it around her shoulders, pulling her close against him. And she went, gratefully leaning into her big brother, letting his warmth move around her.

“This was really great of Harry to arrange a private plane for us,” Matt said low.

Alex nodded slowly against his chest as she reached up to swipe at a tear that fell at the mention of Harry, at the fact that he couldn’t get to London in time to join her, Emma, Charlotte, and Matt on their emergency flight to the States. “It really was. He’ll fly out tomorrow hopefully.”

“I’m sorry he couldn’t come with us right away.”

“Me too,” she murmured in return. “But I’m more than thankful that he was able to get us there quicker than if we had to fly commercial.”

“Yeah,” Matt nodded and then leaned his head on top of Alex’s. The silence settled between then, with Matt holding her close and Alex closing her eyes and trying to keep her composure; trying to take deep breaths and not let the emotions get the best of her.

But in the end, she couldn’t stop the tears that rushed into her eyes and started to spill hotly down her cheeks and the way her shoulders started to shake with sobs.

“Boot…” Matt whispered brokenly, sniffing at his own tears. “Hey, he’s still here. He’s still alive.”

“I know,” she whimpered, though she cried even harder. “But…he could have died, Matt. And they don’t know if he’ll be…God, what if he’s never the same?”

“Okay, okay,” Matt soothed, pulling her tighter. He rubbed a soft hand over her shoulder, trying to comfort her. “You’re going to drive yourself nuts if you do that, Boot. I’m upset and scared too…but we can’t let our minds go crazy.”

Alex nodded against his chest, but it didn’t stop the flow of tears as she curled further up into her big brother. She let go of all the tears that she had on to since she had gotten the phone call from her mom, since she had called Harry and let him know what was going on, since she’d had to gather Emma up and try to explain what was going on while she packed them up in a hurry.

She cried and cried, while Matt held her close…and cried with her.


She couldn’t find the damn sugar. She had searched through the pantry and was opening all of the cabinets in her parent’s kitchen but she just couldn’t seem to lay her eyes on it. Her mother always had sugar. Always. How in hell could she not find it now? When she just wanted to cook or bake or do anything she could to keep her mind off the fact that her father was still in the hospital with the doctors trying to determine his prognosis for the future.

“Damn it!” she cried, flinging the cabinet door shut in frustration and slamming her hands down on the counter. A sob escaped her lips, she squeezed her eyes shut, and pressed her lips together as the tears came yet again.

She never heard the front door open and close. She never heard his footsteps as they moved from the entryway and around the corner into the kitchen. She was too caught up in her emotions, in trying to pull herself together. It wasn’t until he called her out her name that she realized she wasn’t alone anymore.


Her breath caught at his voice, at the way her name sounded from his lips. Her eyes snapped open, she spun around from the counter, and he gaze fell on him. There he was, her Harry, standing in the doorway of the kitchen with soft, sympathetic eyes as he looked at her.

“Harry…” She choked out his name and then she was moving from the counter and across the kitchen towards him, towards his outstretched arms.

And when he caught her, when his arms wrapped around her and he pulled her to him, to his warmth and his smell and everything she needed, she had never been so glad to have found his embrace.

“Oh love,” Harry murmured as he pulled her close and tight, lifting her up and letting her wrap her arms and legs all the way around him. “Sorry it took me so long.”

“No, no.” She shook her head in the crook of his neck. “You made it in good time. I’m just so happy that you’re here.”

“I’m glad I’m here too.” He squeezed her tight and kissed the side of her head before he moved to set her on her feet. His hands moved right to her face, swiping tears away and cupping her cheeks, bringing her eyes up to his. “Tell me baby, what can I do for you?”

She blew out a breath and shook her head, amazed at how she almost felt like she could breathe easier just from his presence. “I don’t know, Harry. I…wait…” Her forehead scrunched up. “How did you know I was here and not at the hospital?”

He smiled, soft and sweet. “Your protection officers, love. Mine called yours to see where you were. I didn’t want to call and disturb you if you were in with your dad.”

Alex nodded and took a deep breath, reaching up to run her hand through her hair. “I was up there all morning. I just…felt like I was going to go crazy with all the machines and the tests that they were running and Emma was getting cranky…” She sighed again and leaned into him. “So I came back here for a bit. Emma is napping and I was trying to keep my mind occupied…” She stepped back from him with a sheepish smile as she gestured towards to ingredients lined on the kitchen counter. “And I couldn’t find the damn sugar.”

“Sugar?” Harry’s lips twisted into a small smile. “What are you making?”

“Cookies. Chocolate chip,” she answered with a bite to her lips. “Or trying to.”

“Alright,” Harry shrugged his shoulders and stepped around her towards the pantry.

“Alright?” She lifted her eyebrows in surprise and turned around to follow him.

“If you need sugar, then I’ll find you some sugar,” Harry called out from the pantry as he poked around.

“Harry…” she called out, her voice softer, the frustrated edge from moments before gone.

“Hang on, love,” came the reply while he continued to rustle around. Only a few more moments passed before he appeared back in the doorway, a slightly triumphant grin on his face as he held up an unopened package of sugar. “Will this work?”

“Yes,” Alex nodded and a small smile pulled at her lips, the first in two days. She blinked several times, pushing back the last of the tears that had been in her eyes. “Thank you.”

Harry moved from the pantry and paced the sugar on the counter with the other ingredients before moving to her. His hands ran over her shoulders and down her arms until he pulled her hands into his. “I’m here for whatever you need, Alex. If you need to make chocolate chip cookies, then we’ll make chocolate chip cookies.”

Alex sighed as she leaned into him, pulling her hands from his and wrapping her arms around his waist. She tilted her head up and rested her chin on his chest as she looked up at him. “I do want to make cookies, but I want something else first.”

“Anything, my love.”

She lifted her eyebrows slightly. “How about a kiss hello?”

“Ah,” Harry nodded. “Well, that’s even easier than baking cookies.”

She smiled a bit wider and a small, soft laugh even left her lips as he dipped his head. He pressed his lips to hers and kissed her softly and sweetly; exactly what she needed from him.

“Okay, Alexandra,” he said as they pulled apart. He clapped his hands together and turned towards the ingredients on the counter. “Let’s make some cookies.”


“What if he can’t walk me down the aisle?”

Harry turned towards Alex, towards the small, whispered question she’d asked. He immediately put down the spatula he’d been using to lift the cookies from the cookie sheet and moved over to where she sat at the breakfast bar.

“Oh, Alexandra…”

“I realize how utterly selfish it is,” she sniffed and swiped at the tears that had begun to fall. “I mean he’s sick and he could have…” She swallowed and shook her head, the thought almost too much to take. “And here I am, worried about whether or not he’ll be well enough to walk me down the aisle next month.”

“That’s not selfish,” Harry insisted, shaking his head. He reached around her for a tissue and handed it to her so she could wipe her eyes. “Come on, Alex. That’s an important thing; something I know means the world to both of you.”

“It’s just…” She sniffed again and then turned wide, watery blue eyes to his. “He didn’t get to the first time.”

“What?” Harry’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “I didn’t know that.”

“It all happened so fast,” she explained. “It was a quick, courthouse wedding. They weren’t there. They came a few weeks later for the reception for friends and family that Molly hosted, but they weren’t there for the wedding. And what if he can’t be there again?”

“Do you want to push back the wedding?”

“What?” A startled laugh fell from Alex’s lips. “You’re insane. You would actually push back the wedding? Our wedding? You know, the big royal one that’s all over…everything.”

Harry chuckled and reached up to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. “If it would mean that you were completely happy when you walked down the aisle to me, I would do absolutely anything.”

Alex sighed and shook her head. “You’re just…the most amazing man, Henry. I don’t…” She wiped at her eyes and took a deep breath. “I don’t know that we even need to be talking about this. It maybe not even be an issue.”

“When will we know?” Harry asked gently.

“I don’t know. Probably not for a few days.” She sighed and then turned her wrist to look at her watch. “But I do know that we should probably wake Emma up and go back up there soon.”


“Dad, you look so much better,” Alex breathed as they joined Donna, Matt, and Charlotte in the hospital room and she took in her father sitting up in his hospital bed. Unlike hours before, there was color in his cheeks and more life in his eyes. She moved and hugged him tightly and then stepped aside so that Emma could do the same.

“Yeah Poppy, you look much better,” Emma said, matter-of-fact. “Are you feeling better?”

“Quite a bit,” Mike smiled warmly and reached up to pinch Emma’s nose, making her giggle before he turned to Harry and held out his hand. “It’s good to see you, Harry. Sorry that it had to be for this.”

“Oh be honest, Mike,” Charlotte called out with a wink towards Matt while Harry shook his future father-in-law’s hand and then leaned into hug him. “This is all part of the campaign you’ve been staging for months to have us name our son here after you.”

The initial rumble of laughter at Charlotte’s joke faded out quickly when the people in the room realized that, despite her and Matt’s insistence that the sex of their baby would remain a secret until it was born, she had just let it slip.

They were having a little boy.

“Hold on,” Mike’s eyebrows lifted and a smile spread across his face, bringing more life into him. “Did you say your son?”

Charlotte’s eyes flew wide just as Matt’s low, rumbling laugh fell from his lips. “Oh shhhh…crap,” she said, catching her curse word at the last second. “I can’t believe I just did that. I did, I said our son. We’re having a boy.” She laughed and shrugged her shoulders, turning a slightly apologetic look up to Matt.

“It’s alright, darlin’,” Matt stroked a hand over her hair and leaned down to kiss her cheek just as the noise level rose in the room, everyone delighted at the news.

And just like that, what had started out as a day where they came close to losing such an important man in their lives, became a day where they learned they were gaining another.


Alex smiled when her phone rang out as she was making her way back to Mike’s room from the vending machines. She stopped and pulled her phone from her pocket, juggling her water and candy bar as she slid her finger across the screen and pulled the phone to her ear.


“Hey love.” Harry’s voice moved into her ear, instantly making her smile even wider. “I just wanted to let you know that Emma and I landed. It was an easy flight.”

“Okay,” Alex nodded, already missing them both terribly. She had decided to stay for a couple more days, just until her father was released from the hospital and was settled at home while he did whatever rehab was required. “I’m going to miss you both so much.”

“We’re going to miss you too, baby.”

“You two will have fun though. Give Gus some snuggles for me. And make sure Emma does all her homework. Oh, and she has a lesson with Zara on…”

“I got it, Alex,” Harry chuckled. “And even if I didn’t, she’d be all over reminding me.”

Alex laughed softly and bit her lip, trying not to get emotional at just how much Harry did have a handle on being Emma’s father, on making sure everything was taken care of. “I know, I know.” She glanced up then and saw her mom standing in the doorway of her Dad’s room, motioning to her. “Listen, I’m going to let you go, the doctors are about to go over Dad’s plans for once he’s released.”

“Okay,” Harry said and then took a deep breath. “Call me when you’re done? Let me know?”

“Absolutely. I love you both.”

“We love you too. Talk to you soon, love.”


It was over an hour late when Alex rushed from her dad’s hospital room, swiping at the tears in her eyes as she moved out into the hall and pulled out her phone. The only thing that was on her mind was calling Harry. She had to speak to him; to be connected with him while she processed the news the doctor had delivered. She dialed him and pulled her phone to her ear, chewing on her lip as she waited for him to answer.

He picked up on the very first ring.

“Hey love…”

“Harry…” her voice was just as shaky as she felt in that moment.

“Alex? Is everything okay?”

“God…yes,” she let out a breath of a laugh and then took a deep, solid breath. “They said he can come to London. He can even still come two weeks early like they had planned. He’s going to be just fine and he…” She swallowed at the lump in her throat. “He can walk me down the aisle.”

Harry’s whoop of delight had Alex pulling the phone away from her ear in surprise and then she burst out laughing. “Harry. Harry!”

“Sorry, baby,” he grinned as he came back to the phone. “That’s just wonderful news.”

“It’s amazing news,” Alex sighed. “I can’t believe it…he’s going to be okay and they’ll be in London in two weeks just like we planned and in…God, in a month we’ll be getting married.”

“Thirty days, my love,” Harry’s voice grew soft. “It seems like forever.”

“It’ll be here before we know it,” Alex smiled wide. “And I can’t wait.”