Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Seventy One

A/N: As always, your thoughts are welcomed and encouraged!


"Alright Mia," Alex said as she slid onto one ofthe bar stools in her kitchen across from her assistant. She'd just dropped Emma off at school and come back to meet with Mia, determined to get back into the swing of things after the unbelievably emotional week they'd had. "What have we got coming up?"

Mia flipped open the cover on her iPad and opened up Alex and Harry's combined calendar. "Work wise - the engagement you and Harry had at the Goodwood track was pushed back a week due to everything going on. So you'll have that a week from today - next Tuesday. Other than that, Emma has a riding lesson on Wednesday with Zara, Henry's birthday party is on Saturday at Will and Kate's place, and on Sunday..." Mia's eyes lifted to Alex and she smiled wide. "Your parents will arrive to move into their new home."

Alex grinned, her mood lifting even higher as she realized Mia was right; her parents would be there in just a couple of days. It seemed like so much had happened since she'd seen them last, right after they'd gotten back from their honeymoon.

"Oh God, I can't wait," Alex sighed as she took a sip of her tea. "It's going to be amazing having them here. And I can't wait for them to meet Cooper."

"Can't wait for who to meet Cooper?"

Alex looked up as her husband strolled into the kitchen. He was straight from a run and he went to the fridge, pulling out a bottle of water. "Mom and Dad," Alex replied with a smile.

"Ah yes," Harry swallowed a big gulp of water and then grinned as he walked over to kiss her hello. "They'll adore him. Who wouldn't?"

"No one I want to be related to," she joked before turning back to Mia. "Anything else to go over with me on the schedule?"

"Nope," Mia shook her head and snapped the cover on her iOS closed. "There's a few requests from different organizations who want to meet with you. I'll forward those on to you from the office to review?"

"Sounds good," Alex nodded.

"Alright then, I'm going back to the office to work on some things. Alex, call me if you need anything. Otherwise, I'll let you two lovebirds have your alone time." Mia smirked as she stood, bringing a chuckle from both Harry and Alex before moving from the kitchen.

Alex took a deep breath as she heard the front door close and turned to Harry, her eyes wide as she looked up at him. "How was your run?"

"Good," Harry's voice was soft as he turned his eyes down to hers. "Why don't you ask me what you really want to ask me though."

Alex's sighed. "Am I that obvious?"

“Mhmm,” he nodded. “You’re eyes get as big as saucers when you’re anxious.”

Her eyes held his for a moment and then she took a deep breath. “I wanted to talk about last night.”

He sighed, stepped away from her a bit, and leaned again the counter as he looked down on her. “I already told you last night that I’m not mad at you, Alex.”

“And you also told me that we could talk about it today,” she said softly.

“Alex, we don’t have to…”

“You and I get into trouble when we don’t communicate, Henry,” she interrupted, the tone of her voice indicating that she meant business.

His eyes narrowed and his cheeks flushed and he crossed his arms over his chest. “Did you mean to sound so damn superior when you said that just now?”

He had taken aim at her with his words; he was deflecting the question and putting everything back on her, but she was ready for that.

“No more than you meant to try and manipulate me just now when you said that.”

Harry blinked as her words hit him, as he realized just how right she was. “Shit, Alex,” he groaned. His eyes closed for a moment and he shook his head before opening his eyes to meet her gaze once more. “I’m sorry. I’m such an asshole.”

Alex sighed and stood from her stool, moving to stand in front of him. “We know we have these issues, Harry. Both of us. I’m skittish when it comes to you and emotional and stressful situations. And you need to lean on me sometimes and that’s okay. I need to work on that, but you can’t shut me out if I do get worried.”

“I know,” he nodded and his face softened a touch as the tension eased between them. “I’m sorry, love. I am. I just…I needed you last night, Alexandra. Maybe my reasons for that were different than yours but you needed me and I needed to be wrapped up in you and…”

“I know,” she whispered, a small smile tilting her lips. “I know and I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” he shook his head and reached for her. She let him pull her to him – not minding in the least that he was still a bit sweaty from his run. “I meant what I said though, about you being stronger than me.”


“Please don’t brush that off, Alex,” he smiled, his hands gathering her closer to him. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s an amazing thing. It pulled me through some pretty crazy shit.”

Alex could have told him how that’s what worried her; that he could come to depend on her too much to pull him back when he got close to the edge instead of wanting to work to make sure he didn’t get too close in the edge in the first place. But as she looked up at him and she saw a bit of brightness in his eyes and his lips curled up in a smile, she decided to let it go. She was overthinking it; he wasn’t close to any sort of edge. He was sad over his grandfather’s death and that was completely understandable.

“I love you, Harry,” she murmured as she smiled up him and then tilted up on her toes to kiss him. Her arms wrapped around his neck and she felt his breath pull in as his arms tightened around her.

“I love you, too,” he breathed as he tilted his head over hers, deepening the kiss.

She moaned lightly into his mouth. He tasted so good and she loved the way he smelled after he worked out hard; the smell of him she loved so much was magnified and when combined with the slight musk from his exertions; it was incredibly sexy.

“Alexandra…” he groaned her name as he lifted his lips from hers and her eyes opened to meet his. “Come shower with me?” Her smile pulled wide a bit naughty and he couldn’t help but chuckle; she was so damn cute he couldn’t help himself. “Is that a yes, baby?”

“God, yes,” she nodded, already reaching for his hands and moving to pull him upstairs. “Let’s go.”


Things began to inch slowly back towards normal as the week moved forward. Though they were all still mourning Philip’s passing doing their best to move on in the way Harry’s grandfather would have probably insisted that they should have.

Harry took Emma out to her riding lesson that Thursday while Alex, along with Camilla, took a last minute meeting with Book Trust for Alex to get to better know the organization she was now a patron of and to discuss a possible joint visit in the next couple of months.

On Saturday, their spirits were definitely lifted when they attended little Henry’s birthday party. Will and Kate’s adorable and rambunctious little boy was turning two and once again the family gathered together, only this time there were smiles on everyone’s faces. Even Harry’s grandmother stopped by for a few minutes, delighted to get to see her great grandson and remarking that maybe William needed to pass on his ‘wombat’ nickname to his son, drawing laughs from everyone gathered to celebrate.

And when Sunday came along, the mood around the Sussex household held more excitement than it had in the past couple of weeks. Later that afternoon, Alex and Matt’s parents were due to arrive for their official move to England. Their house was still being closed on, but they had come over to finish everything up with that and oversee all of the inspections. In the meantime, they would be staying with Charlotte and Matt for a week or so. There was plenty of room over there and Donna and Mike had jumped at the chance to spend some time in such close proximity to their new grandson and get to know him. Harry, Alex, and Emma were due to head over in advance of Mike and Donna’s arrival at Alex’s insistence that her assistance was needed at Matt and Charlotte’s.

“I want to help them get everything read for Mom and Dad,” Alex said, a wide smile on her face as she worked to rush Harry and Emma out of the house.

“You mean you want to get in snuggle time with Cooper before your Mom gets a monopoly on him for the next week,” Harry laughed as he pulled a cap over his red hair.

“Shhhh. Don’t ruin my fun, Henry Charles,” she playfully narrowed her eyes at him and then turned to the stairs. “Emma Rose Morgan Sussex! Hurry up or we’re going to leave without you!”

“Nooooo! I’m coming!” Her protest was followed quickly by the slamming of a door and within seconds she was running down the stairs, a wide smile on her face that only pulled higher when she reached the bottom. “You wouldn’t really leave without me, Mummy!”

“Well, luckily we don’t have to find out,” Alex said with a wink. “Is everyone ready?” Without waiting for anyone to answer she clapped her hands together and turned towards the door. “Good, let’s go!”


“Look how much he’s grown,” Alex sighed as Matt passed her nephew into her arms. “It’s only been two weeks. Cooper, you’re already growing up too fast.” The tiny baby in her arms stared up at her as his fingers wrapped around her pinky, squeezing hard for just a small little guy.

“They do that,” Harry chuckled from where he sat next to her while Charlotte looked on with a smile from the couch across from them.

“It’s amazing how much they can change in just two weeks, isn’t it?” Charlotte said.

“It really is,” Alex nodded.

“And you?” Harry asked, looking across to Charlotte. “How are you doing?”

“I’m good,” she nodded. “Bouncing back quickly.” She was quiet for a long moment, her head tipping slightly to the side. “I’m sorry I couldn’t go to Philip’s funeral, Harry.”

“It’s okay,” Harry shook his head. “You just had a baby. No one expected you to leave your week old son at him to be there.”

“I know,” she nodded. “I’m still sorry. I would have liked to have been there.”

“It was a beautiful service,” Alex joined in, pulling her attention from the cooing baby in her arms for just a moment.

“We watched it on TV,” Matt said. “It was a nice service. William’s eulogy was so touching. Though I especially liked when you guys went out and talked to the people in the crowds afterwards. That wasn’t planned, was it?”

“No,” Harry grinned and turned towards his daughter, who was sitting next to her Uncle Matt. “And that was actually Emma’s idea.”

“No kidding?” Charlotte’s eyes widened and she turned towards her niece. “Look at you Princess Emma. Such a natural.”

Emma giggled a bit nervously as the eyes of all of the adults in the room focused on her. “Come on guuuuuys…it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

“Oh, I think it was, Bug,” Matt grinned, reaching over to tickle his niece, bringing a much lighter giggle from her than the one before. “You smiled that big, sweet smile and shook everyone’s hand and they loved you.”

“Psshhh,” Emma pulled a face. “You’re silly, Uncle Matt.”

“That’s very true,” Matt laughed. “And this silly man needs to go make up the guest bed for Mimi and Poppy so Aunt Charlotte doesn’t have to do it. Want to go help me, Bug?”

“Okay!” Emma jumped from the couch and Matt stood, winking at Charlotte before he followed Emma out of the room.

“Thank you,” Charlotte smiled as she watched them go and then turned her attention back to Harry and Alex and the little boy that Alex held in her arms. Her smile softened as her eyes moved over her son’s face.

“You love being a mum, don’t you?” Harry observed, smiling as he watched Charlotte.

Her eyes pulled up to his and she nodded, emotion evident in her eyes. “I really, really do. More than anything I’ve ever loved in my life. It’s hard and I’m just…exhausted. But God, I love it. He’s so worth it.”

Alex looked up at Charlotte and blinked at the moisture that rose in her eyes. “Cooper’s lucky to have such a wonderful mother.”

“He really is,” Charlotte smirked, bringing a laugh from the two people across from her.

“Aunt Charlotte!” Emma came running in, clearly on a mission. “Uncle Matt says you gave him the wrong size sheets for that bed. He wants to know where the right ones are.”

“Of course I did,” Charlotte groaned into a laugh. “I’ll come help you find them, Em.” She rose from the couch and turned to Alex and Harry. “I know this is a silly question, but do you mind watching him for a few minutes?”

“It is a silly question,” Alex grinned. “We’ll be fine, I promise.”

“I’m sure you will,” Charlotte laughed before following Emma from the room.

“You are just the sweetest thing in the world, Cooper. Aren’t you?” Alex cooed down and the wide eyed bundle in her arms. She bent down to press kisses to his adorable chubby little cheeks, inhaling his sweet baby smell as she did and then letting out a soft sigh. “You’re trying to make me forget why I ever agreed to wait a year to make one of you with your Uncle Harry aren’t you?” She giggled slightly and then glanced up to Harry, fully expecting him to have heard her and that he would be looking at her with that smug smile of his.

But his gaze wasn’t focused on her and Cooper as she assumed; instead it was transfixed out of the window beside the couch it looked like he was completely lost in thought – his expression unreadable and almost…blank.

“Hey,” she said lightly, nudging her shoulder into his arm. Her eyes widened as he visibly flinched, jumping back a bit and blinking as he turned toward her, obviously completely thrown by her presence. “Whoa…” She let out a nervous laugh. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” He blinked again and shook his head. “Sorry…”

“It’s okay,” she smiled softly. “I just thought maybe you were deep in thought about how to bribe me for some snuggle time.”

“Ha!” He laughed and whatever he’d actually been thinking about faded away completely as his big smile moved across his face. “And do I have to bribe you?”

“Not this time,” Alex teased, bringing another light laugh from him as she lifted Cooper into her husband’s arms.

Her gaze stayed on him as he tucked Cooper close, talking to him and being completely adorable as he always was with children. He’d obviously snapped out of whatever moment he’d been in, but she was still a little thrown by his reaction. “Hey Harry?”

“Hmmm?” He looked up, his eyes finding hers and his smile pulling a little higher.

She took a deep breath but before she could open her mouth and ask him what he’d been thinking so hard about, a knock sounded at the front door – signaling the arrival of her long awaited parents.

There was a flurry of activity as everyone in the house moved towards the door, anxious to see Mike and Donna and welcome them to London. Harry regretfully handed Cooper over to Matt as Charlotte pulled open the door, a big smile on her face as she welcomed her in-laws inside. Emma was the first to jump in for hugs and kisses from her Mimi and Poppy, followed by Alex and Harry and then, it finally came time for Mike and Donna to meet their grandson.

“Oh my goodness, it was the longest two weeks of my life, waiting to meet you,” Donna whispered as Matt lifted Cooper into her arms and she and Mike officially met their grandson. Her fingers moved to tuck back the blanket wrapped around him and not a single person in the room was surprised at the tears in her eyes. “And look at you, Cooper Michael Emerson. I have to say, you are one gorgeous kiddo.”

Mike reached out, running his finger along Cooper’s cheek, bringing an adorable sort of gurgle from his grandson. Mike’s smile pulled wide and he looked up to Matt and Charlotte. “He really is. Good job, Mom and Dad.”

“Thank you,” Charlotte grinned, earning laughter from the others in the room. “Although, I have to say…I think he looks like his father.”

“Oh God, he does,” Donna nodded with a wide smile. I was looking at pictures you sent next to Matt’s baby pictures and it’s almost uncanny.”

“Really?” Charlotte’s brows lifted. “Do you have the pictures? Of Matt as a baby? I mean, I’m sure they’re with your boxes and…”

“They’re in my carry-on,” Donna interrupted, though her eyes were already pulling back down to her grandson.

“Jesus. Of course they are,” Matt laughed and shook his head. “Of course they are.”


“You want to drive?” Harry turned to Alex and she pulled a face, drawing a laugh from the staff of the Goodwood Track and the photographers around them as their cameras whirred, capturing the moment. After an enjoyable weekend spent with their family and friends, Alex and Harry were back to work, taking on their first engagement since Philip died. They were spending the morning out at the Goodwood Race Track and Harry was getting a chance to drive some of the cars – something that, judging from the wide smile on his face, clearly delighted him.

“No, my darling,” Alex laughed along with them. “You take it out for a spin. I’d just stall it.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Harry grinned. He rubbed a hand along her back and then bent to kiss her cheek before moving off to the side with a staff member so that he could get set up with a helmet and instructions.

“He’s like a little kid,” Mia remarked quietly as she moved in next to Alex, knowing that the attention was all focused on Harry at the moment and no one was listening to them.

“I know,” Alex laughed softly. “Like he won a prize.” Mia hid a giggle behind her hand and Alex turned a humored smile at to her before moving her eyes back to Harry. “He’s enjoying himself, that’s for sure.”

She didn’t elaborate, not in such a public setting, but the truth was that his smile was a bit brighter that she’d seen it since Philip died. The tension in his shoulders that had been almost constant in the past couple of weeks had faded. Alex knew the fresh air and the excitement at the driving the fast cars had brought some pep back into his step and in return, she felt herself relaxing just a bit as she watched the boyish delight move across his handsome face.

“You better be careful, Alex,” Mia murmured next to her as Harry slid into the car, offering a wink and a wave in Alex’s direction as he did. “He's going to be wanting one of those things now.”

“Ha!” Alex laughed and shrugged. “I’m actually surprised he doesn’t have one already. He loves his bike; it’s a little surprising he hasn’t sprung for a sports car.”

“Ahhhh. I forgot about the bike,” Mia murmured, her eyes focusing forward where Alex’s were, following Harry as he slowly maneuvered the red sports car out of the pit area and onto the track.

Alex smiled as Harry began to gain speed and smoothly curved around the first corner and then said, “He took me out on one in Greece.”

“Really?” Mia’s eyes widened and she leaned in closer as Alex continued.

“Yep. After that French magazine published those photos and tried their best to point out my ‘flaws’…”

“Ugh,” Mia groaned.

“Mhhmm,” Alex nodded. “Anyway, it got me down for a little bit so he took me out and drove us along the coast. It really lifted my spirits; the fresh air and the scenery.”

“Smart man,” Mia smirked, bumping her shoulder into Alex’s.

“Very,” Alex giggled.

Harry’s car zoomed around another corner and towards the finish line and Alex couldn’t help but grin as she spotted his own wide, excited smile as the car whizzed by them for another lap.

Mia’s phone rang out in her pocket and she excused herself to take the call as it was from the office. Alex nodded and smiled and then turned her attention back to the car on the track, her eyes following closely as he sped around another corner.

“Are you enjoying yourself today, ma’am?”

Alex turned in surprise at the voice, blinking as she realized her P.O was standing right next to her, closer than even Mia had been before she had gone to answer the phone. She stepped to the side slightly but smiled and said, “Yes,” before turning back around to the track.

“Is there anything I can get for you?” Patrick asked and Alex almost groaned. Her P.O. was nice, but he was very chatty and sometimes it wasn’t at an appropriate time or place when he should be just blending into the background. She really needed to talk to Harry about it – to see what he thought about getting him reassigned or at least some additional training.

“No thank you, Patrick. I’d just like to watch right now.” She turned back to the track then and her brows furrowed a bit as she saw the car struggled to stay straight as it came out of another curve, like it was going much faster than it should have been at that point. “Slow it down, Harry,” she murmured to herself. Her lip tugged into her teeth and she brought her hand up above her eyes, shielding them from the sun as she watched more closely. The car moved toward them, the rate of speed almost alarming. And this time when the car blew past them, the smile that had been on Harry’s face was gone; replaced by a combination of concentration and fear that send alarm bells ringing in Alex’s head.

“Something’s wrong,” she whispered, her voice unsteady as anxiety filled her entire body. She turned and took off towards the pit where the track staff was gathered; she could see a flurry of activity happening and it only heightened her sense of dread.

“Ma’am!” Patrick called after her, but she ignored him and walked faster.

Her heart began to pound as she approached the pit and she heard the word ‘brakes’ being called out several times in panic. But before she could reach them and ask them exactly what was going on, she heard tires squeal and she whirled toward the sound. Her hands flew to her mouth and she gasped as she watch the car barely navigate a corner, tipping up on the two side tires before righting itself and speeding down the track again.

“Oh my god!” she cried out as she watched the car approach the next curve, the worst sense of foreboding coming over her.

“Ma’am!” her P.O. was tugging at her arm, trying to pull her away from the side of the track. “Ma’am – the brakes are malfunctioning on the car and it’s not losing speed. You need to get away from the track.”

“STOP! Let me go!” she yelled, tearing her arms away from him, unable to take her eyes away from the careening vehicle. “HARRY!” she screamed as the car approached another turn, having no choice but to try and take it. The tires lifted from the ground, and when she realized that the car wasn’t going to be able to right itself this time, she screamed again – a sound of pure terror coming from her mouth.

The crash seemed to happen in slow motion – at least that’s how Alex would always remember those horrifying, life altering moments. The car lost complete control and caught the side of the track. Another scream pierced the air as it came completely off the ground and flipped over to the grass – the rate of force at which it hit sending it into several more flips before it finally landing upside down in the grassy, center of the track.

There was this moment where everything went silent. The sounds of the crashing car faded out and in its place there was this beat of pure shock that swept the entire track.

And then, the beat of a moment passed the world around Alex rushed forward – right to the car that Harry was in; the car that was lying upside down and badly damaged on the grass in the center of the track.

Alex tried to rush forward with it; she tried to run out there as the pit crew took off toward the car – towards her husband. She fought to free herself from the strong grip of her P.O, from Patrick’s voice as he told her over and over again over her pleading and begging and crying that she couldn’t go out there. She didn’t care that the media was capturing it all; even as Mia went into action and tried to push them back and out of the way.

The only thing she could think about in that moment was Harry; was getting to her husband.

“Alexandra, I need to get you out of here!” Patrick commanded, once again trying to pull her away from the scene as he took visual cues from Harry’s P.O. who was rushing out to the wreck to meet the paramedics.

But Alex wasn’t listening. She didn’t comprehend any of the words that anyone around her was saying; not Patrick’s or Mia’s or the track staff as they tried to pull her away from the scene.

And then, she saw it happen. She saw the first responders reach in and pull Harry from the vehicle.

She heard the screams when her husband was pulled out onto the grass, limp and covered in blood. She heard the cries and the screams and she heard someone yell his name over and over again. It wasn’t until they finally were able to drag her from the scene, to get her out of sight of the public, that she realized those screams of horror had been hers.

And she couldn’t help the wave of fear that washed over her, making her sick to her stomach as they rushed her away. She couldn’t hear what they were saying; she didn’t comprehend any of it.

The only thing that registered with her was this incredibly sinking feeling that this nightmare was just beginning.

To be continued...