Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Sixty Nine Part Two

A/N: Please. Please don't hate me.


Alex sighed as she pulled her phone away from her ear. She leaned her head back against the wall and closed her eyes, tears pressing from the corners of them as she took deep breath after deep breath, trying to get her emotions under control.

She’d just called her parents back in Texas and told them what was going on – that they were now grandparents to a beautiful new baby, but that Charlotte was in emergency surgery and they didn’t know if she would pull through.

And it had broken her heart once again. Hearing her mother crying and her father’s soft, low voice as he begged her to call him as soon as they knew anything had shattered any hope she had of trying to be strong and keep herself together until they found something out. It had already been close to an hour and she was beginning to struggle; waiting for news had never been easy on her and this was so big, so important, so potentially devastating that she was beginning to feel helpless and scattered.

She took another deep breath, and then another, before she opened her eyes. She sniffed and reached up to wipe her tears from her face with her fingers, finding a lot more than she expected to be there.

“Here you go, ma’am.”

Her eyes shifted and she smiled when she saw Patrick – her P.O. – holding out a tissue to her. “Thank you,” she murmured, taking it from him and using it to dry her eyes. “I think…” she sniffed and took another breath. “I think before I go back in there I’m going to go get Harry and have him wait out here. That way he’s close.”

“Are you sure, ma’am?” Patrick asked as she went to move past him. “You don’t want to miss your sister-in-law’s doctor if he comes in.”

Alex blinked and then her brows furrowed together. “I also don't want my husband to wait alone in that room any longer. I wasn't really asking what you thought I should do, but telling you what I was going to do so that you could do your job and follow me there.”

“Of course,” Patrick nodded instantly. “I apologize. I was just…”

“It’s fine,” Alex waved her hand. “I’d just like to go get my husband.”

She spun on her heel then and strode down the hallway and Patrick’s shoes clicked on the hallway as he trailed her. There was a tiny little part of her that felt a bit bad for being so short with her P.O. She assumed he was only trying to help, but right then she didn’t need his help or advice. She just needed her husband. She needed Harry.

When she reached the door to the private waiting room she nodded and gave a small smile to Mark, Harry’s P.O., before she pushed through the door. He was seated in one of the chairs and his gaze flew to hers and he instantly rose to his feet. She moved into the room and shut the door behind her.

“Oh God, Alex…” He breathed. “Is she?”

“We don’t know yet,” she shook her head. “But Matt is doing a bit better and I called my parents and…” Her eyes bubbled up with tears. “And I’m sorry I left you alone in here…”

“No, no. Don’t apologize darling.” Her reached out and pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her into his embrace. “You needed to be with Matt and his son.”

“Cooper,” Alex sniffed into his chest.


“That’s his name – our new nephew. Cooper Michael Emerson.”

“That’s a great name,” Harry whispered, his eyes closing tight against his emotions as he pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

“It is,” Alex nodded. She pulled back and looked up at him. “Do you want to come back and wait with me? It wouldn’t be a private room but…”

“Yes,” Harry said, not caring at all where he waited as long as it was with her. “Yes, I want to come wait with you.”


The minutes seemed to crawl by as they waited. Alex checked on Matt several times, making sure he was doing okay. But otherwise she let him have his time with his son.

And then finally, just as they passed the hour mark since they had been told – and just as Alex was sure she was going to break down from the anxiety of it all – Charlotte’s doctor appeared around the corner.

Alex and Harry both rose to their feet instantly. Harry reached out for her, his hand moving to her shoulder and her hand moved up to cover his, both of them giving each other silent support.

“Dr. Woods,” Alex said softly, her eyes wide and her heart beating fast.

“Sir, ma’am,” he nodded to both of them. And though he did look a bit tired, nothing in his face gave anything away. “Why don’t you step inside with me so that I can talk to all of you at the same time, including Matt?”

“Absolutely,” Alex nodded. She turned to Harry and he nodded, motioning for her to go ahead and then moving in behind her, followed by the doctor.

Matt looked up from where he stood with Cooper by the window and Alex saw the fear and anxiety creep into his eyes, she saw him tense up and bring the bundle in his arms closer to his chest as he turned to look at them.

Dr. Woods took a deep breath and wasted no time in letting them all know the news he came in to give them. “I figured I should bring you all in together to let you know that Charlotte is out of surgery – and will be just fine. We expect her to make a full recovery.”

Alex let out a small cry of relief and Harry exhaled loudly, as if he had just held the longest breath of his life. And then their eyes swung to Matt and Alex couldn’t help but cry as she watched him take it in – the news that his wife and the mother of his child was going to be okay.

He let out a breath and the tension visibly eased from his shoulders – tension that Alex wasn’t quite sure he’d ever experienced until today. He shook his head slowly and then moved just to his left and sank right into the rocking chair that was there, his gaze staying on his son the entire time.

“See, I told you Cooper. Strongest woman I know, your Mommy. Absolutely the strongest woman I know,” he whispered, his voice breaking just a bit with the words. He pressed his lips to his son's head and closed his eyes and they could see the tears press from his eyes as he held just like that for a long moment. And when his eyes opened they moved straight to the doctor, a hint of a smile finally moved across Matt’s face. “Thank Dr. Woods. Thank you so much.”

“Dr. Martin did all the work up there today, but you’re right, Mr. Emerson,” the doctor nodded and gave him a warm smile. “She a very strong woman. I’d say there’s no way she wasn’t going to fight to stay here with you two.”

Matt nodded and looked back down at his son, his smile slipping a little bit higher – the weight of it all pulling from him some more. “Is she awake or…?”

“Not yet,” Dr. Woods smiled. “She’ll be out for a bit longer and probably pretty groggy when she wakes up. And for how serious the condition was, the surgery wasn’t very invasive. Once she wakes up and comes out of the fog, she’ll be able to handle your baby boy there and get to know him with you. They’ll probably bring her in here in the next half an hour or so and she’ll start waking up soon after that.”

“Thank you,” Matt said again, earing another warm smile from Dr. Woods before he took his leave, promising to be back in a bit with Charlotte.

“Oh Matt,” Alex breathed once they were alone in the room again. She rushed over and wrapped her arms around her brother’s neck, pulling a surprised chuckle from him. “I’m so happy for you and Cooper. I’m so happy that she’s going to be okay.”

Keeping one arm cradling his son against him, he hugged her back with the other. “Me too, Boot. Me too.”

Alex sniffed and pulled back to look down at her nephew. “His eyes are open,” she breathed. “He looks like you I think. He’s perfect.”

“Well, of course he is,” Matt said, just a tint of smugness in his voice, bringing a giggle from Alex. “Do you want to hold him?”

Alex’s eyes widened and she pressed a hand to her chest. “Can I?”

“Of course,” Matt said softly. “You are his Aunt Alex.” He stood and leaned over, passing over Cooper gently to his sister, who couldn’t help the brilliant smile that lit up her face.

“Hello little guy, I’m your Aunt Alex,” she cooed. “Your most favorite Aunt in the whole world.”

“His only Aunt,” Harry chuckled from behind her, bringing her gaze around to him.

“Minor details,” Alex shrugged with a smile before she turned back down to her nephew. “And that guy – the one who thinks he’s so funny – that is your Uncle Harry.” She leaned in closer and her voice dropped to a whisper. “Don’t tell him I said this, but he’s your favorite Uncle too.”

“Well, that goes without saying,” Harry joked.

Alex turned to him again and nodded her head, motioning for him to come over closer. His entire body softened as he moved over next to her. He’d wanted to let Alex have her moment with her brother, but now that she was inviting him in, he wasn’t going to miss it for the world.

“Hey there, Cooper,” Harry murmured, reaching out to run his index finger down the baby’s soft cheek. “He’s beautiful, Matt…” He looked up to Alex’s brother and then stepped over to him, giving him a handshake and a warm hug. “Congratulations, Dad.”

“Thank you,” Matt grinned, hugging his brother-in-law back. He watched with warm eyes as Harry stepped back over to Alex, both of them cooing over his son. “Alex, I think your husband is going to start getting desperate soon if you don’t let him hold Cooper.”

Alex pouted and then laughed when Harry turned puppy dog eyes to her. “Oh alright,” she sighed playfully, gladly turning to pass her new nephew to her husband.


Alex’s eyes were already starting drop when they walked through the door to their home. They had taken their leave from the hospital, wanting to let Matt have alone time with Charlotte and their son when she woke up. It was mid-morning and it had been a long, stressful night and they were both exhausted.

“How long until your father and Camilla are back with Emma?” Alex asked Harry through a big yawn.

“A few hours,” he murmured, following her as she turned to move up the stairs.

“Perfect amount of time for a nap.”

“I think you’re right, love,” he agreed, smiling up at her as she reached the top of the stairs and turned around to him for a moment.

When they moved into their room, Alex went straight for the closet, not even sure if she would stay awake long enough to shed her clothes and pull on her pajamas. She was worn out – physically and mentally – and was looking forward to letting herself recharge for a few hours.

She stepped from the closet, flipping the light off behind her. She lifted her heavy eyes to find Harry and when she did she stopped in her tracks, her heart thudding in her chest at what she saw.

He was sitting on the edge of their bed, his feet on the ground in front of him. His head was hanging forward with his face in his hands and when she saw the shake in his shoulders she wanted to cry.

Because he was crying.

“Harry?” When he didn’t answer she went to him, sliding in on the bed next to him. Her hands moved to him, one rubbing at his back with the other slid to his cheek to bring his face up to her. “Baby…are you okay?”

“No,” he shook his head and tears slipped from his eyes. “I…we almost lost her.”

“Oh honey…” Her eyes welled with tears for him and she rubbed her thumb along his cheek. “I’m so sorry.”

“There are…four women,” Harry choked out, reaching up to wipe at his eyes. “Four women in my life who could never, ever be replaced, who have had such an impact on me…” He stopped, shaking his head and sniffing at his emotions. “I lost one when I was twelve and tonight I almost lost the second. And I know it’s nothing next to what Matt and Cooper would have lost…”

“It’s not nothing,” Alex interrupted, her eyes wide as she shook her head. “She’s your best friend. You’ve known her longer than almost anyone other than your family. She is family Harry. Not just because she’s married to my brother. She’s your family. It’s not nothing.”

“I just…didn’t want to make any of it about me,” he whispered as he hung his head again. His shoulders began to shake and he began to cry again, finally letting out all of the emotions that he’d been battling for the last twelve hours. And Alex did the only thing that she could – she wrapped her arms around him as tight as she could and she held on to him while he cried.

And when he was finished, when his sobs faded out to sniffles, she kept her arms around him until he pulled back to look up at her. And when he did she couldn’t help the way she automatically pulled his lips up to hers. She didn’t want to let go of the closeness and she needed to give him something good, something soft and sweet after the night they’d had. Even then, she was surprised when he returned her kiss with more passion and fervor than she’d expected, when his hands moved to her and pulled her tight against him.

But she went without hesitation in his arms. Her lips met his over and over again. Their tongues twisted and tangled passionately together. And even though she’d been so exhausted she was ready to fall flat on her face into the bed just minutes before, when her husband pulled her back onto the bed with him, when he began to pull her clothes off with passionate determination, she suddenly found she wasn’t so tired anymore.

They clung to each other as they made love that morning, wrapped up tightly and tangled together as they helped each other heal from the emotional roller coaster they’d been through. Her fingers threaded into his hair and she held his mouth to her as he moved above her, strong and slow and deep. And after it was over, after he pulled her over the edge with him in an intense, body shaking climax, he kept his arms tight around her as he pulled the blankets up around them.

And then, tired and satisfied and feeling a bit more at peace about all that had happened that night, they drifted off to sleep together, wrapped up in each other for a few more hours.


“Oh my gosh, Mummy! I’m so excited to meet my new cousin. Are you sure you can’t tell me his name?”

“No way,” Alex laughed, completely amused by her daughter. It was later that evening, and after confirming with Matt that Charlotte was awake and feeling up to having visitors, they were on the way back up to the hospital. “You’ll have to wait for Uncle Matt and Aunt Charlotte to tell you.”

“I don’t know if I caaaaaaaaaaaaan,” Emma drawled dramatically before turning wide, puppy dog eyes to Harry, who was seated on the other side of her.

“Oh no!” Harry chuckled, shaking his head down at her. “Don’t even try it. I’m not going to tell you.”

Emma sighed but there was no way she could keep the smile from her face or the excitement from her eyes. Ever since she had gotten home in the early afternoon she had talked of little else. Alex and Harry had sat her down and told her about how Charlotte had a problem while having the baby and had to have surgery. They were quick to assure her that she was alright – but that she might be tired so they had to wait until she was ready to have people come see her. As soon as they had been given the okay though, Emma was dragging them out the door within minutes.

They pulled up to the hospital, moving through the back entrance to avoid the paparazzi who’d been tipped off to their presence at the hospital and were waiting with their cameras at the ready. Emma was almost dancing on her feet as they made their way up to the floor that Matt, Charlotte, and Cooper were on, and when they finally reached the room, Alex had to but her lip to keep from giggling at how worked up her daughter was. She tossed a look over Emma’s head at Harry, who just chuckled and shook his head.

“You ready, Emma?” he asked as he reached out for the handle on the door.

“Yeeeeeeeeees,” She groaned in exaggerated impatience. “I’ve been ready forever.”

“Ha! Of course,” Harry laughed and then winked down at her before pushing open the door.

“Aunt Charlotte!” Emma clapped her hands excitedly and went running over. And before anyone could stop her, she was climbing up onto the bed and wrapping her arms right around Charlotte.

“Emma! Honey, she’s just had surgery remember,” Alex called out with a grimace.

“It’s okay,” Charlotte waved a hand, smiling brightly as she hugged Emma back. “She didn’t hurt me at all.”

Harry grinned and moved over with Alex to kiss Charlotte’s cheeks, happier to see her in that moment than either of them could express. And then he turned, noticing the two other visitors in the room with them.

“Mr. Blakely…and Mrs. Blakely,” he said, barely managing to conceal his surprise at seeing both of them in the same room as he stepped over to greet them. He shook Charlotte’s father’s hand and leaned in to kiss Fiona’s cheeks, being careful of the baby she held bundled up in her arms. “It’s lovely to see you both.”

“You as well, Harry,” Fiona smiled, bouncing Cooper in her arms. “We flew back as soon as we could. But thank you for being here.”

“Of course,” Harry nodded with a smile. “You remember my wife, Alexandra?”

As Alex stepped in to greet them, Harry turned, looking to Charlotte and Matt as he pulled a face and mouthed, “We?” Referring to Mr. and Mrs. Blakely flying back from somewhere together.

Matt chuckled and shrugged his shoulders and Charlotte rolled her eyes, but the topic was pulled on hold as Emma piped up, unable to wait any longer to learn all about her baby cousin.

“Aunt Charlotte, Uncle Matt,” she addressed, bringing their attention to her. “Mummy and Daddy won’t tell me my new cousin’s name. Can you please tell me?” Puh-leeeease?”

Matt chuckled and leaned in to pinch her nose playfully. “Absolutely, Bug. How about I bring him over and you can meet him officially?”

“Oh my gosh. Yes, please,” she nodded, her eyes wide with excitement.

Matt rose from his chair and his smile moved wide and charming as he stepped over to his mother-in-law. “Fiona, I really hate to take him away from you, but you mind if I took him to meet his cousin?”

“Of course not,” Fiona smiled. “Stewart and I should be going anyway. I’ll hand him over as long as I can come back and see him again tomorrow?”

“Absolutely,” Matt chuckled.

“Excellent,” Fiona nodded before leaning down to kiss her grandson’s forehead softly. “Grandmother and grandfather love you precious. See you tomorrow,” she cooed sweetly before gently handing him over to Matt.

“Thank you,” Matt said. He leaned in to accept a kiss on the cheek from Fiona and nodded and smiled at Stewart before turning back to Emma while Charlotte’s parents big everyone else a good-bye. “Okay, Bug,” he said as he moved to the chair by Charlotte’s bed. He sat in it and then motioned for Emma to join him, adjusting her onto his lap so that she could hold the baby with him. “Princess Emma of Sussex, meet Cooper Michael Emerson.”

“Ooohh, I like his name,” Emma said softly. Her eyes moved over him, taking him in. “He’s so small…and kind of squishy.” Laughter moved through the room and Emma’s cheeks turned a bit pink. “Sorry, I didn’t mean anything bad by that.”

“We know,” Charlotte assured her with a grin. “He is a little squishy though, you’re right. He’ll grow out of it soon.”

“That’s good,” Emma nodded. Her gaze turned back down to her cousin and she spoke in low tones as she continued to get to know him with her Uncle Matt.

“How are you feeling?” Alex asked Charlotte softly, moving to sit on the side of the bed so she could look at her friend.

“Good,” Charlotte nodded. “I’m tired and still a bit loopy from all the meds and…you know…” Her eyes filled with moisture as she turned to look at her son. “A bit sad that I missed the first few hours of his life. But he’s perfect and I’m okay so I really can’t complain at all.”

“We were really worried,” Harry murmured, bringing her gaze up to him.

“I know,” she replied softly. “I’m okay though.”

“And we’re very, very happy about that,” Alex smiled, reaching out to squeeze Charlotte’s hand in hers.

“We are,” Harry agreed. “And listen, I definitely want you to know I plan on kicking your ass at some point for scaring us all like that…”

“Of course,” Charlotte smirked.

“But first…what in the hell is going on with your parents?”

“Harry,” Alex groaned, reaching up to poke him in the side.

“What?” he laughed. “You don’t understand – Mr. and Mrs. Blakely can’t stand each other. That whole thing was…bizarre.”

“Ugh,” Charlotte rolled her eyes. It is bizarre. My parents are…dating.”

“Each other?” Harry’s forehead scrunched up and Alex couldn’t help but snicker.

“Yes,” Charlotte sighed. “Apparently they got to talking at the wedding…”

“Your wedding?” Harry asked. “That was months ago.”

“No, your wedding.” She narrowed her eyes up at him. “This is all your fault. Both of you.”

“Nice,” Harry laughed. “I’m glad that Alex and I could contribute.”

“Bite me,” Charlotte grumbled. “I do have to tell you, sometimes it feels like I’m living in an alternate universe. I’m married and have a baby and my parents not only don’t hate each other, but are…in a relationship. It’s almost surreal sometimes.”

“Aw, but you love it,” Alex said, her smile sweet as she looked at her friend.

Charlotte’s eyes moved over to Matt and Cooper – her family – and she sighed. “I really, really do.”


Harry groaned as he was jolted awake by the loud, intrusive ring of the telephone. After having very little sleep in the past few days, he was not at all happy that someone was ringing them this late at night.

“Who the heck could that be? And why are they calling on the land line?” Alex mumbled, blinking against the light of his bedside lamp as he flipped it on.

“I have no idea,” he shook his head. “But whoever it is, they’re my least favorite person in the world right now.”

“Mine too,” Alex mumbled, burying her head back into her pillow.

“This is Harry,” he sighed into the phone. He ran his hand through his hair and tried in vain to blink his eyes all the way open. “Dad?”

Alex’s head lifted at that – why on earth would Charles be calling in the middle of the night? She blinked several times and then sat up, suddenly very awake as she watched Harry listen to his father on the other end.

“Oh my God,” Harry breathed, his voice catching. His eyes slid closed and his face twisted up. “Dad…Oh God. I’m…when?”

“What is it?” Alex whispered, but he just shook his head, still listening intently to his father.

“Jesus Dad,” he groaned, shaking his head. “Okay. No, we’ll be there. Tomorrow morning, yes. Okay…see you then…I love you too. Bye.”

“Harry?” Alex’s voice wavered with the terrible sense of unease she felt. “Baby what is it? What’s going on?”

Harry turned to drop the receiver into the cradle and when his gaze moved back around to meet hers, Alex felt her stomach drop.

Something was really, really wrong.

“Alex…” A sob escaped his throat and tears appeared in his eyes. “He’s dead…”

“Who?!” Alex gasped, her eyes flying wide. “Who Harry?”

“My grandfather.”