Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Seventy Three Part One

A/N: I’m SO SORRY for the wait. My life has been in a bit of upheaval. Things are evening out and it shouldn’t take this long again!

As always, your comments and questions are always appreciated!


Alex wasn’t sure exactly what woke her.

Her eyes blinked open into the dark room and it took a moment for her brain to snap on, for her to realize where she was. She was still in Harry’s hospital room and as her eyes found the clock on the wall, she realized she hadn’t been asleep very long, not even an hour. Emma was curled up under the blanket with her on the cot; she had wanted to stay and Alex couldn’t say no to her sweet little girl. Harry was still unconscious and the hospital staff had been extremely accommodating, bringing a cot into Harry’s room for them so that they could stay with him and try to get some sleep; though it evidently wasn’t going to happen that way for Alex.

She took a deep breath as her eyes fell on Harry. She blinked back the tears and the anxiety that rose at the fact that he still hadn’t woken up. The doctors didn’t seem too worried, but every minute that ticket by where Harry stayed unconscious only made the knot in Alex’s stomach tighten and grow.

Being careful not to wake up her sleeping daughter, Alex shifted and rose slowly from the cot. She tucked the blanket fully around Emma and then tiptoed across the room to the private restroom, slipping in and shutting the door behind her. She took care of her business and then turned the sink on to wash her hands and splash some cold water on her face.

“You look like a mess, Alexandra Sussex,” she muttered at the reflection peering back at her. Her eyes were still red and slightly swollen from crying. There were circles under them that looked especially dark against her paler-than-usual skin. She sighed and patted her face dry with a towel; the reality was that she didn’t much care what she looked like at the moment and so she didn’t dwell on it. It wouldn’t get any better until Harry started to get better.

She flipped off the light and then opened the door back to the room. The steady beep, beep, beep of the machines greeted her and her eyes pulled straight to Harry. Since there was no way she was going to be able to go back to sleep, instead of going back over to the cot she moved over to the chair by Harry’s bed. She scooted it closer to him and then sank down in it. She reached for his hand and wrapped her fingers gently around his, careful of the IV line inserted on the back of his hand. Her other hand reached up to his face and her fingertips smoothed carefully and lightly over the bruises and scratches there from the accident.

“I still think you’re the most handsome man in the world,” she whispered, a small smile tilting her lips. “And oh how I miss those eyes of yours looking at me.” Her gaze moved over his face for another long moment and then she closed her eyes, letting out a deep breath. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his hand, still wrapped up in hers. She kept her lips there for a long moment, sniffing at the tears that pressed hotly into her eyes.

And then she felt it. Her breath sucked in and she went completely still, everything in her body praying that she hadn’t just imagined the slight pressure on her fingers. And then it happened again; Harry’s hand squeezed hers just slightly – but it was more than enough to know that it was real.

With a gasp she sat up, her eyes flying open and straight to his face. And she would never, ever forget that moment as long as she lived; the moment that Harry’s eyes blinked open and met hers, giving real life to her husband once again.

“Harry?” Her voice was no more than a whisper as her eyes clouded with tears. “Harry can you hear me?”

“Alex,” he croaked out, his eyes blinking heavily several more times as he fought for focus.

“Oh my God, Harry,” she sobbed, the tears spilling over as she heard her name from his lips. A smile pulled at her lips; the first genuine smile to grace her face in almost twenty four hours. “Oh baby, you have no idea how good it is to hear your voice.”

“What…where…?” He finally managed to get out; his mouth was dry and everything was fuzzy and he couldn’t seem to make everything make sense.

“Sorry,” she shook her head, blinking and sending more tears streaming down her face. “Let me just…” She reached over and pressed the call button for the nurse’s station, remembering that she had been told to buzz them as soon as he was awake. “You’re in the hospital. You’ve been unconscious for about twelve hours. There was an accident at the track and…” She shook her head, unable to continue past the lump in her throat. “I just…Harry, I was so worried. I…”

“Oh Alex,” he said, struggling with the effort it took to get the words out. “I’m so sorry…I don’t…” He stopped and tried to swallow, trying to get some moisture in his mouth.

“Shhhh,” she shook her head and moved closer. She kept her hand held in his and moved the other to his face, her fingertips moving gently over his cheek. “The nurse will bring you in some water. Don’t apologize, my love. I’m just so happy to see your eyes, to hear your voice, to have you looking at me again. Harry, I…” She bit her lip and leaned in to rest her forehead on his shoulder, the best version of holding him in her arms that she could do right then. “Thank you for staying. Thank you for…”

“Alex…” he whispered, his head turning slightly so he could press his lips to the side of her head. He was still fuzzy and confused but even in that moment he knew. He could tell by the ache in his body and the tears in his wife’s eyes; he was more than just injured.

He’d come close to not waking up.

The door opened then and the nurse came in, a slight smile pulling at her lips as she realized that Harry was awake. “Good morning,” she said, her eyes moving between Harry and Alex as she walked over, pulling her stethoscope from around her neck as she went. “I’m Nurse Rachel. You’re awake, which is a great thing,” she nodded down to Harry as she pushed a few buttons on one of the monitors. She picked up the phone and dialed a few numbers before waiting a couple seconds and then hanging it up. “Your doctor will be down shortly, but I’m going to take a couple of quick vitals and then…”

“Water,” Harry interrupted with a ghost of a smile and eyes that were growing clearer by the second. “Before any of that…water.”

“Ah,” Rachel nodded. “I can definitely help you with that.” She moved over to the sink and pulled out a plastic cup. She filled it up quickly and then pulled a straw from a drawer before moving back over to Harry. “Ma’am? Would you like to hold this for him while I check some vitals?”

“Yes, of course,” Alex nodded, reaching for the cup and turning the straw to Harry’s lips. His eyes closed as he took several slow pulls from the straw, stopping to take a breath before going back for a few more big gulps. “Better?” Alex asked softly as the nurse moved quickly around, taking his temperature and checking his heartbeat.

Harry nodded as his head fell back against the pillow. His eyes stayed on Alex as the nurse moved her stethoscope down from his heart to his sternum and directed him to take a deep breath so she could listen to his lungs. He did and his face immediately twisted in pain.

“Jesus,” he groaned, his eyes closing as he let out the breath.

Alex turned wide eyes up to the nurse who gave her a warm, sympathetic smile and said, “It’s the broken ribs.”

“Broken ribs?” Harry asked, his voice hoarse as he opened his eyes again.

“Three of them,” Nurse Rachel nodded. “And a broken collarbone.” She pulled her stethoscope back around her neck as Harry looked down and seemed to really take stock of himself for the first time, taking in the extent of which he was bandaged up and the two casts in place – one on his left arm and one on his right leg. Alex could see the shadow pass across his face as he took it all in and it made her want to cry; he had to be in so much pain and so overwhelmed she couldn’t help the instinct inside of her that made her want to take him in her arms and tell him it would all be okay.

But before she could try to comfort him, a rustling noise from behind her caught their attention. Alex turned and Harry’s eyes flickered towards the noise just in time to see Emma sitting up, her eyes blinking open slowly into the soft light of the room. She reached up to push her slightly crazy-from-sleep mess of blonde hair from her face as she registered what was going on.

“Mummy?” she mumbled, her eyes shifting from Alex to the nurse. But before Alex could answer, Emma’s gaze shifted to Harry. Her lips parted in surprise and her big blue eyes went as wide as saucers as she realized that he was awake. Any hint of sleepiness disappeared in an instant her face broke out into the biggest, brightest smile she’d ever had. She bolted from the cot, every single bit of her attention focused on one thing only.


“Whoa!” Alex laughed, reaching out to catch Emma before she full on launched herself at Harry. “Careful, Em. He’s hurt, remember? No jumping on him.”

“I’m sorry,” Emma rushed out, immediately calming her rush to Harry, though the pure happiness on her face remained. She reached up to push back her wild curls again as she looked from her mum to her dad. “I’m really sorry but I’m just so happy to see you. I was so worried when Mimi and Poppy told me that you were in a car accident. And then when Aunt Charlotte brought me here I was so worried – and Aunt Charlotte was really worried too. Mummy told me you weren’t awake and I was so sad, but you’re awake now and…” Her smile pulled even wider and she clasped her hands in front of her. “I am just really happy to see you, Daddy!”

Harry’s eyes softened and his lips pulled into a smile, the aching pain in his body momentarily forgotten with Emma’s sweet words. Alex couldn’t help but tear up as she hugged her daughter from behind; she loved how much Emma and Harry loved each other.

“I’m really, really happy to see you too, Em,” Harry said softly. “I’m glad you’re here with your mum.”

“Can I please hug you?” Emma asked, glancing from Harry and up to Nurse Rachel, looking for some sort of permission.

“A hug might be a little much – he’s got broken ribs and a broken collarbone,” Nurse Rachel said kindly. “But maybe your mum can lift you up and you can give him a kiss?”

“I think mum can do that,” Alex said as she turned to Harry and lifted her eyebrows, making sure it was okay with him too. He nodded and she smiled and then reached for Emma, lifting her up so that her knees settled gently on the side of the bed.

Emma leaned over and, careful not to press against him anywhere it could hurt, she pressed a sweet kiss to the side of his cheek. “I love you, Daddy.”

“I love you too, Princess,” Harry murmured, turning his head just slightly to press a kiss against the side of her head. His eyes turned up to meet Alex’s as she moved to lift Emma from the bed and held them for a moment, all kinds of emotions flying between them in that short beat of time until finally Harry. “And I love you too, Mum.”

Alex nodded as she lifted Emma and set her on the floor, unable to blink back the tears that fell from her eyes. She wiped at them and then leaned into give him her own kiss on the cheek and whispered, “Oh I love you too, Henry Charles.”


The next few hours were a flurry of activity that almost spun Alex’s head. She had spent what seemed like forever in the worst sort of purgatory, and now things had completely flipped around.

Harry’s doctor had come in and, after looking over his vitals and doing a thorough examination of his wounds, had said that he was progressing well. The swelling in his brain was going and all of the bleeding had been stopped. All things considering, he was doing well.

Alex had told Harry’s family that he was awake and had witnessed their joyful, tender, tear filled reunions. She had watched and laughed when Matt and Charlotte came in and Charlotte had teared up and told Harry that this was not the way to get back at her for scaring him during her ordeal during Cooper’s birth.

Yes, he was still hurt. No, it wasn’t going to be back to normal right away. But instead of fear and anxiety on the faces of everyone around her, now there were only smiles and relief and happiness.

But even then, she could quite shake the incredible knot of nerves in the pit of her stomach. So when Harry’s pain medicine kicked in and he drifted off to sleep once again, she left Emma in the capable hands of her brother and left the room with the excuse that she needed to get some coffee and something to eat.

Her breath hitched as she walked swiftly down the hallway. She wasn’t going to get coffee. And there was no way she could eat anything. Not yet. When she reached the door to the private waiting room she pushed it open, relieved when she saw that it was empty. And then she walked straight over to a chair and sank down onto it, put her head in her hands, for what seemed like the hundredth time in since the accident, she began to cry.

Maybe she should have been worried about how loud the sobs that wracked her body were; concerned that someone could hear her. But she wasn’t; she didn’t give it a single thought. All she could do was sit there and cry out all of the incredible tension that had overtaken her body in the last twenty-four hours.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been crying when the door to the waiting room opened. She pulled her face from her hands, her eyes wide and red-rimmed as they swung up to the doorway.

“Charlotte.” She let out a ragged breath, relieved at who was standing there.

“I’m sorry,” Charlotte said, holding her hands up. “I didn’t know you were in here. I forgot my phone. Your mom has Coop and I didn’t want to miss…”

“No, it’s okay,” Alex sniffed. “It’s okay. I should probably get back. I just…I needed…” Her lips trembled and her eyes filled with tears again.

Charlotte stepped into the room then, shutting the door behind her and moving straight to Alex. She slid into the seat next to her and Charlotte’s arms moved around Alex, hugging her tight and close. “Cry,” Charlotte ordered in only the way that she could, that bossy way that was also filled with the fiercest kind of love and understanding that there was.

So Alex did, she cried and cried and cried. She got it all out – a day’s worth of all the emotional shit she’d gone through. And when she was done, when there were no more tears left, when her snobs had faded into soft hiccups and then small sniffles, she finally lifted her head, a small but grateful smile on lips.

“Charlotte,” she murmured. “Thank you. You didn’t have to…”

“Oh shut up,” Charlotte replied with a roll of her eyes, bringing a small giggle from Alex’s lips. “I’m your friend and your sister. That’s what families do.”

“When did you get so sappy?” Alex teased as she took the tissue that Charlotte offered and wiped her eyes.

“Jesus. The moment you and Matt walked into my life probably,” she huffed, though she smiled with her words. “I’m glad he’s okay, Alex.”

“Me too,” Alex nodded, taking a deep breath. “I don’t know what I would have done if…” She trailed off and then took another steadying breath. I am so relieved and…happy. But I just can’t seem to shake the fear.”

“Have you slept? Eaten?” Charlotte asked.

“I slept a bit here and there. Not for very long. And I haven’t eaten. There’s no way I could have with…”

“You need to,” Charlotte interrupted. “You need to go home and eat and take a shower and get some sleep.”

“Home?!” Alex’s voice rose and her eyes flew wide. “I can’t go home.”

“Yes, you can,” Charlotte insisted, her practical nature taking over. “Harry will be out for hours and hours. At least go home and shower and eat. Put Emma in her bed and let her sleep. If you still want to come up here after that, call me and Matt and I will go stay with her.”

“I can’t ask you to…”

“Alex. Go home. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of him.”

Alex opened her mouth, prepared to argue her point, but she found she didn’t really have the strength to disagree with Charlotte. She was right, and Alex knew it. “Fine,” she sighed as she rubbed at her eyes. “You’re right.”

“Of course I am,” Charlotte nodded and Alex couldn’t help but laugh again as she leaned in to hug her friend.

“Thank you, Charlotte. I appreciate it more than you know.”


As much as Alex didn’t want to leave the hospital, she had to admit that Charlotte was right. She’d gotten home, tucked Emma into bed, forced herself to eat something, and then taken a long, hot shower.

And it helped. It made a part of her relax; being in the places that she shared with Harry. It was a little bit of normalcy that helped calm her brain from the past twenty-four hours.

She put on her comfortable pajamas when she got out of the shower and then brushed out her wet hair before pulling it up into a haphazard knot on the top of her head. She stepped into their bedroom and took a breath as she looked at their bed and she knew without even trying that she wasn’t going to be able to sleep there. She couldn’t sleep in their bed while he was laid up in a hospital bed in pain. She just couldn’t.

She grabbed his pillow from the bed and then pulled off the comforter, dragging it behind her as she left the room and went slowly down the stairs. Her intention had been to go into their living room and cuddle up on their big, comfy couch. But when she hit the bottom of the stair, her eyes slid to the open door just down the hall – the door to his office.

Without a second thought to the living room she padded down to his office and moved through the open doorway and flipped on the light.

And she smiled.

She loved this room; everything about it. It was so very much her husband. She loved the way he looked when he sat behind the dark wood desk, looking equal parts regal and successful businessman at the same time. She loved that the picture of him and Emma cuddled up and asleep so many years ago took a place of pride on his desk, right next to one of their wedding photos. She loved that when she put her pillow and blanket down on the couch and then walked over to his desk to look at those photos, she also found the plans for the current renovations on their new apartment spread out on his desk. There were little notes made in his familiar scrawl on the plans; items that needed changing and things that she had suggested she wanted. He had remembered all of them and made sure to add them – valuing her input tremendously on the project. But the thing she loved most of all was that when he was there, he always made her feel so welcome in this room. He always stopped whatever he was doing when she came in, never making her feel as if she couldn’t come in while he was working. This room felt more like Harry than any other room in their house. And that’s why she knew that if she was going to get any sleep, it would be in that room.

Eventually she turned out the light and slid onto the couch, pulling the blanket up around her. She reached for her phone on the low table in front of the couch and set the alarm for just a few hours ahead, wanting to get back to him as soon as possible.

And then she closed her eyes; doing the best she could to will herself to sleep.

To Be Continued…