Rose Tyler and the Broadchurch killer

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Rose Tyler witnesses a murder - a young boy was killed and left on a beach in Broadchurch. The killer is after her as she has identified someone to Alec Hardy but it was dark, the killer could have been one of several men or women of the same height and build and it's up to Hardy to keep her safe. The only problem – Rose is reluctant when he takes her into protective custody.

Rose Tyler witnesses a murder - a young boy was killed and left on a beach in Broadchurch.  The killer is after her as she has identified someone to Alec Hardy but it was dark, the killer could have been one of several men or women of the same height and build and it's up to Hardy to keep her safe.  The only problem – Rose is reluctant to be taken into protective custody.

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Chapter 1

I thought it would be interesting if it had been Rose Tyler (who had never met the Doctor) that had witnessed the placing of the body of Danny Latimer on the beach the night he was killed.

Rose had been in Broadchurch for a few months.  She had left her mother and ex boyfriend behind in London, sad to be leaving her mother but not the prat of an ex boyfriend.  He'd been seeing an old friend of hers behind her back and she had found out.  She had managed to save a bit of money and got on a train, thinking she would just cool off a bit then go back to London but she liked it where she had ended up.  It was only a small seaside town and she'd managed to get a job part-time for the summer in a fancy coffee shop next to the town's Police Station and a room in a B&B since she got one meal at work, not that it was to her taste, it was all a bit posh for her.

Since the hours were stretched out over the day, she didn't have time to look for another daytime job and was looking out for a few hours doing nights, she had nothing else to do.  There wasn't a lot of nightlife, not down on the seafront anyway.  So a two hour a night cleaning job came up at the Police Station next door that one of the customers who worked there had told her about and she applied for it and since it started at five, she could more or less go straight there and it was well paid.  It meant she had extra spending money and since she'd had to be checked out before getting the job, she assumed her record was clean then since she had got it but it had taken three weeks and she thought it had gone to someone else.

She started on a Monday night, she was given the job of cleaning the CID office, emptying bins, vacuuming and clearing cups of half consumed tea and coffee because apparently, Police Officers were too lazy to move and wash their cups before they left.  Still, it passed the two hours and then she would drag herself back to the B&B, call at the fish and chip shop on the way back and sneak the food into her room.  Well what did they expect her to live on?  There was a big difference between the room only and half-board rate.

She had noticed the detective in charge was working late in his office after everyone had left and went to knock on his door before she left for the night.  She had been warned to call everyone sir or ma'am if she had to speak to anyone or if they addressed her first.

She heard a grunt telling her to come in.

"Excuse me Sir, can I empty your bin and take any empty cups?"  

She had purposely left him until last.

He looked up from what he was doing, Rose supposed he wondered why he was being disturbed by the office cleaner.

"What?  Yes, yes, do what you have to do and I've no cups, I clean my own.  Don't take long about it."

Rose went to the side of his desk and emptied his waste paper basket into the bin liner she had with her and replaced it.  She was just about to leave when he spoke again.

"I've not seen you before, where's the man that used to do that job?"

Rose put the bag she was holding down.  

"I don't know Sir, I just started tonight."

The detective looked at her.  Just what he needed, a new cleaner.  He had been there a week and everyone had avoided him apart from the cleaner.

"Well don't just stand there, shouldn't you have finished by now?" he asked, glancing at his watch.

Rose looked at the clock behind him.  It was 18.55.  "Yes Sir, I was just about to."  

Rose thought she would be out by now if he hadn't stopped her – prat.

She finished up and made her way to the cleaner's room and met two other women that worked there, they worked longer hours than she did she supposed and she said goodnight to them.  They didn't offer any words of encouragement, the supervisor had shown her what her job was but she wasn't around.

The following night was the same routine, only she went into the detective's office earlier, he was still working again and Rose wondered if he had anywhere to go or he really liked his job.  She didn't know how long he had worked there, he could have just started.

He had.  Alec Hardy had been transferred, much to his annoyance to this dreary seaside town against his wishes for another town or city preferably somewhere in Scotland, not the south-west coast of England.  He was far from happy and now his chances of a reconciliation with his daughter were totally shattered.

She knocked on his door again and got the same greeting only this time he claimed she was too early and to come back.  Was he doing this on purpose?  She couldn't take any chances, she needed the extra money for rent and things.  She was just doing her other jobs when the supervisor came in.

"Hello Rose, how are you getting on?"

"Okay, thanks Mrs Graham."

"Oh don't call me that, it makes me sound old, Mary will do.  How are you getting on with the grinch in there?"

Rose looked at her.  "The grump, sitting in his ivory tower."

Rose daren't look around, he'd just told her to go back later and wished she had left him until last again, something she was now going to do.

"Oh him.  I went in late last night and he told me I should have already finished then I go in early and he tells me to go back later, I can't win really."

Mary laughed.  "The only person to get on with the detective has just left.  Don't worry too much about him.  If he complains to me about you I'll just humour him. He's new, only been here a week.  Wait until DS Miller gets back, that will be fun."

"Why's that then?" Rose asked inquisitively.

"Because apparently, he got the job she was meant to get when she comes back on Friday morning." Mary smiled at her.  "Don't take too much notice of him.  See you later dear."

Rose just wished she would be around to see the detective come face to face with a woman whose job he had just taken.  It would serve him right.  She was roused from her thoughts by an office door closing behind her.

"You still here?" a Scottish voice asked.

Rose thought that was fairly obvious.  It was only six thirty and she hoped he was leaving so she could clean his office.

"Yes Sir, I was waiting to do your office, can I go in now?"

"I suppose so.  What's your name?"

"Rose Tyler, Sir."

He grunted something she couldn't make out and he went to the break area, making a bit of a mess when he put the spoon down and Rose silently wishing he would just go away.  He went back into his office and Rose went to clean up.  She thought he was a right royal pain in the ass.

Wednesday was pretty much the same.  She waited until she had finished her other jobs, knocked on his door again, was greeted in the same gruff manner as previously and Rose thought no wonder everyone thought he was a grump.  Why had he asked her to make it her last job?  Why couldn't she just do it earlier and get it over with?  Was he tormenting her?

Thursday night and by now, Rose was getting tired of his behaviour but not wanting to press her luck and have her supervisor stick up for her, she decided she would just have to stick it out and put up with it.  She'd had worse jobs.  She had seen the name on his office door, Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and hoped if he had a wife or girlfriend he didn't treat them the same way.  She had just about finished when Hardy came out of his office, went to make a drink and she heard a spoon being thrown into the sink she had just cleaned.

She felt like screaming and telling him he was a rat for messing up what he could clearly see was a clean sink.  Hardy just looked at her and went back to his office. He was going out of his way to get her annoyed.  If he treated the last cleaner like this, no wonder he had left.

Glad to be finally out of his way, she made her way back to the B&B but later that night, she couldn't sleep.  She didn't know if it was because that inconsiderate detective was going out of his way to annoy her or what it was so she got dressed and thought a walk along the cliff top would do her good so she made her way around and found herself on the coastal path overlooking the beach.  It was brilliant moonlight and in the distance, she could see a small boat coming along the coast, fairly near the shore and was surprised it made its way towards the beach.

She was at the top of the path leading down but she was frozen to the spot as the boat was brought ashore and a dark figure got out, dragging the boat well onto the beach.  Since she was fairly high up, she figured whoever it was wouldn't be looking for anyone so since she had her flat shoes on, she carefully made her way down, watching what was going on.

She was rooted to the spot halfway down as the figure went back and lifted something out of the boat.  It looked like a child. It wasn't big enough to be an adult although it could have been a small woman but whoever was carrying this person was doing so with ease.  She watched from her vantage point as the dark figure put whoever they were carrying down, turning them over so Rose assumed they were face down and laid out straight.  Then the figure went back to the boat and brought out what looked like a skateboard and laid it beside the person on the beach.

By this time, Rose had realised she was looking at a body, not a living person or at least someone who was unconscious, not just sleeping but who would be out at this time, leaving a person on a beach and putting a skateboard down?  Then she knew it had to be a child or a teenager.  She started back down the cliff path again as the dark figure went back to the boat but suddenly, she dislodged a stone and it went hurtling down the path, landing heavily on the beach.  Rose froze up again and scurried behind a bend in the path and behind a rock. Whoever was on the beach with the boat had turned around, looking both ways but not above but she was taking no chances.

Then the person on the beach turned away, probably thinking it was just a rock that had worked its way loose and Rose came out of her semi-safe hiding place and she saw the dark figure pull the boat back out to the water and get in it.  She resumed the descent and was almost on the beach when the figure in the boat turned around and Rose dived for cover, listening to the sound of the engine fade into the distance.

She waited what seemed like an age before she dare move.  There was no sound except for the waves and she figured whoever it was, they were long gone.  Coming out from behind the corner of her hiding place, there was no-one in sight and the boat was nowhere to be seen, even in the distance.  Whoever had been there must have thought they were being paranoid and just been spooking themselves.  She stepped out onto the beach and approached where what she was now fairly certain was the body of a child and even in the moonlight, the way it was laid, she could tell it was the body of a young boy, eleven, maybe twelve years old, the brightly painted skateboard at his side.

She got out her phone and dialled 999 and asked for the police.  She told them what she had seen and the operator took her name and where she was and told her to stay out of sight until uniformed Police Officers arrived.  Five minutes later, Rose could see flashing blue lights around the corner of the next part of the cliffs where the entry to the beach was and she breathed a sigh of relief and stepped forward.

A woman PC approached her and asked if she was Rose Tyler and started asking her to repeat what she had told the operator but in greater detail.  Rose was tired, she just wanted to go to bed.  She wouldn't have a problem sleeping now.  After giving more details and her contact number, the WPC said she could go but the detective in charge would want to question her in the morning and someone would call her. She was just making her way off the beach when she saw Hardy getting out of an unmarked car.  He hardly acknowledge her as he passed by but he turned around, realising who she was and he called after her.

"You're the cleaner from the station."

Rose knew this was far from over, he would find every question he could to throw at her.  She also didn't know that the killer had seen someone, what to them looked like a medium height blonde haired woman and there couldn't be that many of them in Broadchurch.

Hardy was thinking it was just his luck the office cleaner had to be the one to witness the dumping of a dead body.  He was looking forward to asking her a few questions.

Chapter 2
Rose was hoping for at least an escort back to the B&B.  She still wasn't sure she had not been spotted on the pathway coming down or on the beach itself.  She had told the WPC the person had turned around and could possibly have seen her.  She was just leaving the area when another police car came along and more uniformed officers got out, followed by a van that Rose assumed was forensics.  Getting back to her room, she lay on the bed and fell asleep.

She was woken at seven by her alarm, putting it back for another hour but she wasn't going to get any more sleep.  Just after eight, she received a phone call asking her to call in and see DI Hardy.  Great, as if seeing him for two hours each night wasn't bad enough, she had to face his questioning.

She was supposed to be at work for eleven so she called into the Police Station just before ten, hoping it wouldn't take long but she was told that Hardy and DS Miller were out of the office so she had to wait.  Just before ten thirty, the woman who had told Rose about the job walked in, followed by Hardy.

"Hello Rose, what are you doing here?" DS Miller asked.

She didn't have time to reply.

"She's our main witness Miller" came the dry voice behind her.

Rose had not known the woman who came in the coffee shop next door and told her about the job was a police detective.

"Oh, I'm sorry Rose, I never realised.  Someone never told me who our witness was."

Rose guessed who that was and he was standing in the doorway.  She added that to her now growing list of dislikes about him.

She was led to an interview room and DS Miller switched on a recording device and Hardy asked her to put in words what was written on her statement from last night.  She told them everything that happened up to the police arriving.

DS Miller asked if she thought whoever had left the body on the beach had seen her.

"Well they turned around when I was halfway down the path but didn't look up but maybe, when I had reached the beach, I might not have gone for cover as fast as I should have done.  Do you really think there was a chance I was seen?"

Miller seemed to think so but it wasn't up to her.  Hardy was just taking his own notes.

"So Miss Tyler, you make a habit of walking on the cliff top at night?"

"No, not really.  I couldn't sleep so I decided to go up there, I didn't intend to see someone leave a body on the beach.  Was it a young boy?"

"I can't tell you that until the press conference later today.  Until then, go back to whatever you would be doing, follow your normal routine and if you think you're being followed, call the station, not the emergency number and ask for DS Miller or myself.  Ask the desk sergeant for the direct number and keep it with you."

Rose knew she was already late for work.  She hoped DS Miller would help her out. She had turned her mobile off and her boss would be trying to contact her.  Hardy left the room and Rose saw her chance.

"DS Miller, I know it's a lot to ask but I'm late for work, can you explain to them I was helping you?"

DS Miller smiled.  "Sure, I'll call them for you.  Just go to work and tell them you were helping us over an incident.  The news will get around anyway and the beach is closed off now.  I expect you'll be busy today.  You got the cleaning job then?"

"Yeah, thanks for that.  I'm really grateful to you.  Did you enjoy your holiday?"

"Yes, the kids loved it.  It would have been nicer if we'd had a bit more spending money though, my husband didn't have as much saved up as he thought."

Rose said goodbye and went back to work, saying she had got caught up with the events on the beach, which by now were all over the town with people coming in and moaning the beach further up was closed off.  She didn't yet want to tell her boss she had witnessed the events in the middle of night.  DS Miller's husband came in with their youngest son and sat by the window and DS Miller came in to join them.  He always spoke to Rose when they came in but he seemed quiet today, fussing over the youngster.

Hardy was still grumpy when Rose went to work later on, hardly saying two words to her but at least DS Miller came back in, telling her just to carry on as normal. Rose had got the direct number for the station and had put it on speed-dial on her phone, just in case.  She was going to need it.  She walked up to her accommodation and went to her room, watched a bit of TV and saw Hardy on the local news, vowing he would catch whoever had done this, deciding she was certainly not going out for another walk that night.

Hardy was having a hard time, this was not what he came here for, he was supposed to stay out of the limelight and let things calm down after his last case and his operation.  He had tried to put that off but he knew he couldn't survive much longer without it.  He had laughed off the warnings but in the end, his last case had almost killed him, he couldn't risk it again.  The new case and the witness were now getting to him and worst of all, the witness worked at the station.

Rose had been in bed about an hour, it was almost midnight, when she heard a noise out in the hallway and thought it was a resident but footsteps stopped just outside her door.  Switching the bedside lamp on, she put her dressing gown on and stood away from the door, listening.  Suddenly, the handle of her door started to turn.  Rose grabbed her mobile and pressed the key for the Police Station.

Talking quietly, she told the duty officer who and where she was and that someone was trying to get into her room and was told to alert someone in the building if she could and wait for assistance.  Then she remembered the window on the landing led to a fire escape and whoever it was must have gained access through it.  Someone was still messing with the door, it seemed to stop then start again so instead of shouting, she called the landlord's number and said someone was in the building.

The next minute, there was shouting outside and a noise, like someone running and an 'hey you' from a male voice followed by several 'what's going ons' so Rose unlocked her door.  The landing window was still open and the landlord was shouting down to whoever had just fled down the fire escape.

"Miss Tyler, are you alright?" he asked, looking at her then everyone behind him.

"Yes Mr Phillips, thanks.  Whoever it was tried to get in my room, I've called the police and they said to raise the alarm."

"Quite sensible, ringing me instead of shouting out but it still woke everyone, if that was what you were trying to avoid."

Rose tried not to look guilty.  "Sorry, got a bit spooked."

Just then, there was a loud banging on the door and the landlord went downstairs, letting in two uniformed Police Officers.  They were shown to Rose's room, one officer was the WPC from the previous night.

"Miss Tyler, are you alright?  We've informed DS Miller there was just an incident at your lodgings.  Did anyone see who it was?"

"I kept my door locked like I was advised to do, the landlord came upstairs and whoever it was must have gone down the fire escape."

The landlord chirped up.  "All I saw was a figure in dark clothing going down the fire escape.  I can tell you she wasn't imagining it.  We can't lock the window, it's against fire regulations but I'll see if I can put another handle on it so it can't be opened from the outside."

Rose thought it was whoever she had seen on the beach last night, someone had followed her home earlier and waited somewhere.  It wasn't just a coincidence and she told the policewoman so.

"Okay Miss Tyler, we'll send forensics around in the morning, see if there are any fingerprints on the window but whoever it was probably used gloves.  I'll give your statement to DI Hardy.  Goodnight Miss."

Rose could only say "Thank you."

She went back to bed, not thinking she could get back to sleep now but did, waking to her alarm.  She knocked on the landlord's door to apologise, not wanting to say she had seen what had happened on the beach yesterday, she knew enough not to go spreading that around, someone had already been after her.  The landlord just put it down to an opportunist trying his luck as her room was the nearest.

She was just walking down to the café to get some breakfast when her mobile rang. 

"Miss Tyler, DI Alec Hardy.  I just heard what happened last night and we think it was connected to what happened on the beach.  Can you call in at the station?  It won't take long, just inform the desk and DS Miller will come down, we just need you to sign your statement from last night."

Rose had suspected as much.  Now she was worried.  Should she express her concern to DS Miller?  She had very little chance with Hardy.

"Yes, I can call in.  Say in about an hour?"  

He hadn't bother to ask if she was ok though.

"Yes, alright if you must."  

Hardy hung up.

Well it was better than she usually got from him.  She really wanted her breakfast first before facing any more of his questions.  She eventually made her way to the Police Station from around the other side of the harbour.  She had found a nice café to get a decent breakfast for under a fiver and now went every morning and she wished she worked there instead.  She was glad she only worked Monday to Friday though and didn't feel like taking on yet another job.  She had worked out how many hours she was working now and she just might as well get a full-time job somewhere, if there were any.  If she was going to stay beyond the summer, she was going to try the local supermarket on the road out of town, just past the roundabout.

Hoping not to have to face Hardy, she walked into the Police Station and asked for DS Miller and was shown into the interview room.  Miller looked tired, Hardy was probably running her ragged and she probably wanted to be at home with her family.

"Hello Rose, I'm sorry to hear what happened to you last night and we think unfortunately the killer or whoever it was managed to get a glimpse of you, maybe recognised you from the café or seen you around town.  We're not ruling out that the figure in the boat was not the actual killer, he may have been an accomplice and just been disposing of the body.  All we can suggest you do is keep your door locked when you're in and keep in populated places.  The landlord apparently is going to fix the window so it can't be opened from the outside.  We're also not ruling out last night wasn't just a coincidence, at least that's what we're telling the landlord.  You haven't told anyone have you?  About your discovery?"

"Of course not.  I don't want to put myself in any more danger.  I'm not working until Monday, what am I supposed to do all weekend?  I normally spend most of Sunday at the sports centre, I go swimming then do some training."

"I think you'll be okay to carry on with that, it's a public place.  Stay away from isolated places.  Just sign your statement and you can go.  Once you're back at work, carry on with your normal routine."

Rose signed her statement and left, deciding to go back to her lodgings, use the free internet and call her mother.

"Rose, are you alright?  I saw on the news about that poor boy there.  Are you sure you're safe there?"

"I'm fine mum, really.  I'm at work all day and then I go straight back, don't worry about me."

"Mickey came around last night, he's not seeing Trisha Delaney any more.  He asked what I thought about him calling you."

"I'm not taking him back again, he gave up any chance of that.  I've given him more than enough chances.  Tell him not to bother, I won't answer him."

"Well suit yourself, I'm just telling you what he said.  Don't blame me if he takes no notice.  I was going to come down for a visit but I don't think I'll bother just yet.  Be careful Rose."

"I will."

She decided to go get a few things from the local mini market down the road, coffee, tea and biscuits and a couple of weekly magazines to read and a puzzle book and when she came out, she was sure she saw a dark figure by the garages next to the fish and chip shop but thought it might just be one of the residents.  The shop was adjacent to the caravan site and it could have been someone from there so she didn't really take any notice.  She crossed over to go get her tea from the fish and chip shop and walked back, hoping again no-one could smell the hot food, which was why she always asked for them in a carton.

She was able to relax on Sunday, going to the sports centre and trying to forget the events of the last few days and more importantly, that Mickey was on the prowl again and most likely to surprise her with a visit or plague her with phone calls. Luckily, he had done neither yet and she hoped it would remain that way.
Chapter 3
The action is hotting up now!

The weekend passed quickly, Rose was back at work, walking down to the café for breakfast then walking along the harbour to work.  She didn't mind the walk, passing all the boats and dreaming of sailing off somewhere exotic.  She had often dreamt of travelling the world, with a tall, dark and handsome stranger who would whisk her away, showing her places she had never even heard of.

She noticed that DS Miller's husband hadn't come in, he always brought his young son up the counter and all the staff made a fuss of the little boy.  She supposed the detective was busy working on the case.  She had heard nothing since she went in about the incident at the B&B early on Saturday morning and thought maybe now, they would just get on with the job in hand and catch the killer.  She wasn't much use as a witness to them anyway, she hadn't got a good look at the dark clothed figure in the boat but obviously, they knew who she was.  DS Miller may be right, it could be someone who came in the café, she hardly knew anyone and only a few people knew her name.

She went into the Police Station after finishing her day job and went up to the CID room, finding no DS Miller, just Hardy sat in his office, studying something on his computer screen.  She finished most of her jobs and knocked on his door.  She got the usual greeting and went in.

"Rose, isn't it?"

"Yes Sir."  

She was hoping they would have found out something by now but they wouldn't tell her while she was supposed to be working, would they?

Rose nearly dropped.  

"Any more trouble since the other night?  No-one following you?  No-one acting suspiciously?"

What was he trying to do?  Scare her even more?  He was doing a good job.

"No, nothing.  Can I ask a question?"

He nodded.

"Since I didn't see the face of the man who put the body on the beach, am I a valuable witness or just someone who just happened to see the whole thing?  Is there a difference?"

Hardy took his rimless glasses off and put them on the desk, rubbing his face with his hands.  He gestured for Rose to sit down.

"While it appears we're are doing nothing, a lot of work is going on in the background.  So while everyone thinks we are doing nothing, a lot of information is being gone through, a lot of ground at the scene has to be sifted, your footprints near the body have to be eliminated.  Oh yes, what size shoe do you take?"

"Size 5.  I didn't mean to imply you weren't doing anything Sir.  I was wearing flat shoes if that's any help."

Hardy just scribbled it down to eliminate it.  

"You were the only person to see exactly what happened, the boat, the person who was there, the placing of the skateboard.  Without your description of what actually happened, we could only guess.  So yes, you are a valuable witness despite you not being able to see who the person was.  I know we've been through this before but do you remember anything else?  Just maybe the smallest of details that were not in your statement?  Anything you remembered afterwards?"

Rose shook her head, trying to remember anything.

Hardy got up and sat on the corner of the desk.  

"You remembered something.  You remembered you were wearing flat shoes, that helps rule your footprints out."

Rose smiled.  Hardy got up and sat back in his chair.  He closed his computer down and took his jacket from the stand.

"Call me if you remember anything else.  Don't put yourself down, you and Danny Latimer are the best witnesses we have, he can tell us what happened to him, how he died.  You can tell us what happened afterwards that could take months to figure out like how he was taken from the boat, how he was laid out, how he got there. Without your statement, we could have thought he'd fallen or been pushed from the cliff, carried from the entrance to the beach and had to search a much larger area.  You've saved us time, time that hopefully can be spent piecing everything together."

He was about to go out of the door.  

"Goodnight Rose."

Rose was stunned, not that he'd said goodnight, although it was a first for him but that she was actually helping them.  She just hoped the killer didn't think she knew what he or she looked like.  She hadn't thought about it from their perspective.  She finished clearing Hardy's office and went back to the cleaner's room and got her jacket.

She was getting tired of sneaking in chips and various other items and thought she would treat herself to some Chinese food from up on the High Street, it wasn't all that much more of a walk and it was still light.  As she collected her food and walked back to her room, someone was watching.  Feeling much better now she knew she was of some value to the police, she went to bed.  She thought about what Hardy had said, they would have been totally in the dark about what had happened.

Rose set off the next morning to walk down to the café for breakfast and was walking towards the mini market when suddenly, she heard someone walking behind her. She had just passed the campsite swimming pool building, past some bushes and suddenly, she was grabbed from behind and pulled between the swimming pool and the bushes, out of sight, a hand over her mouth.  Thinking how to get out of it, she was about to give whoever had grabbed her a swift elbow in the ribs or better still where it hurt, if she could get her arms free.

"Listen carefully," a muffled voice said behind her.  "You are going to tell the police you didn't see anything on the beach, understand?  Nod if you do."

Rose nodded.  Huh, that's what he thought.

"If you don't tell then you made a mistake, I'll find you again, do you get that?"

He tugged her head back and Rose managed a nod.

She felt the hand let go and was about to turn and go after him but he had vanished, probably through the bushes into the camp, it would be a maze in there. As she looked, she thought she saw a blur of dark clothing.  It must have been the killer.

Rose immediately composed herself and walked back onto the street, thankful there was no-one passing by, or not thankful that no-one had come to her rescue.  She heard someone shouting from the side of her and a woman appeared through the bushes.

"Are you alright dear?  Only a man just came running out of these bushes and ran through the camp, he nearly knocked me over as I was walking past to go to the mini-market so I thought I would see where he came from."

"I'm okay, thanks. I'm Rose and you are?"  

Even though she was dazed, she knew enough to get a name, Hardy would ask her questions.  There was no way she was going to be threatened and not do anything about it.  She was a Tyler.

''Mrs Matthews, I'm at caravan number 6 on the first drive.  Are you sure you're okay? You were just standing there when I came through."

"Whoever it was took me by surprise, came running down and through the bushes, pushing me.  Thanks for your concern I appreciate it."

She carried on walking and went into the Police Station, it was only a few yards away and asked for DS Miller and was told she wasn't in and was shown into the interview room and DI Hardy was called.

"Can't stay away from here Miss Tyler?" Hardy asked, sitting down, putting a folder on the table and switching the recorder on.  He had been told it was urgent.  "Have you remembered something else about the other night?"

"No, I was just threatened."

"What?  Why didn't you call it in?"

"Because it only just happened, by the caravan site swimming pool.  I was walking down, heard someone behind me and a hand came over my mouth and I was dragged between the swimming pool and the bushes.  I was told to say I didn't see anything on the beach the other night."

"Describe in greater detail."

Rose was thinking how much more detail he wanted.  

"Well I just felt this hand over my mouth, another around my waist, pinning my arms down and I was pulled into the bushes.  I tried to get free but this sort of muffled voice told me I had to tell the police I didn't see anything on the beach and that I had made a mistake or he would find me again."

She told him how the woman came through the bushes and asked if she was okay when she had seen a man dressed in all dark clothing had nearly knocked her over coming out of the bushes.

Hardy got up and called out for another officer.  

"Stay with Miss Tyler until I get back and get her some tea or coffee.  I'll be back shortly Miss Tyler, you might want to call your boss and say you're going to be late."

Hardy was annoyed.  Miller had called to say she was running late, her husband had to go somewhere and he was late back.  He was hoping she was back now.  He went up to his office to see she hadn't arrived.

"Anyone heard from DS Miller?"  Silence.  "Great, don't all speak at once," he thought.  "Get a unit down to the caravan site – now and look for anyone wearing all dark clothing and go see a Mrs Matthews at number 6 on the first driveway that runs alongside the road, ask her what she saw about twenty minutes ago.  Well get on with it."

He slammed his office door, where the bloody hell was Miller?

He tried calling her.  He got her voicemail. 

"Miller, where are you?  I need you here right now, Rose Tyler was just threatened by someone."  

He hated answer machines.

Just then, a rather out of breath DS Miller came through the office door.

"Why didn't you answer your bloody phone Miller?" Hardy snapped.

"Because I was in the lift and knew it was you," Miller snapped back.  "Bloody moron," she said inaudibly.

They still couldn't see eye to eye on anything and were constantly bickering.  Miller only had her husband to comfort her, who had told her to smother her irritating boss with kindness.  Like that was ever going to happen.

"Miller, Rose Tyler is downstairs, she's just been threatened by someone."

Miller was horrified.

"Is she okay Sir?"  

Miller was rather fond of the young blonde woman, Rose always made a fuss of her younger son every time they went in the café next door.

"Just shaken up, I've sent a unit to the caravan park but whoever it was will have gone by now.  She says a woman witnessed a man running through the bushes and went to see if she was okay when they saw her.  Why the hell were you late Miller?"

"Because my husband had a dental appointment – Sir," Miller said sarcastically. "He couldn't take our youngest with him."

From Miss Tyler's description, it sounded now like the killer was working alone.

Rose was brought some coffee and called her boss, Yvonne who was not going to be pleased.  There was still half an hour before she started, she had not had her breakfast and she was getting hungry.  She explained, thinking it was easier to just say someone had tried to attack her, no need to go into greater details and that she was next door in the Police Station.  Her boss told her not to worry and come in when she could, business was slow since the beach had been closed anyway.

Hardy returned with Miller in tow and it was her who switched the recorder back on.  They had obviously been discussing the situation.  It was Miller that spoke.

"Are you sure you're alright Rose?  Whoever it was didn't hurt you or threaten to hurt you physically?"

"No, just he would find me again.  It was definitely a man's voice, it was muffled, like he had a scarf or something around his mouth."

Miller looked at Hardy.  

"If someone was wearing a scarf in this weather, he'd be noticed, unless he ditched it somewhere, I'll have the unit at the caravan site looked for a discarded scarf anywhere."

"Get more units in if you have to.  This is definitely the killer.  The scarf will have DNA on it if it was around his mouth.  Anything else you can tell us Miss Tyler? What about his hands, were they bare or was he wearing gloves?" Hardy asked her.

Rose closed her eyes, trying to picture the events.  She had been surprised yet she had remained calm.  Growing up on a London council estate prepared you for things like that.

"He was wearing gloves, not woollen or leather, kind of leathery, like maybe workman's gloves or gardening gloves, yeah, they felt like gardening gloves, dark, maybe dark green or something, I couldn't really see, he pulled my head back."

"Was he taller than you?  Same height, smaller?" Miller asked.

"Maybe an inch or two taller, when he pulled my head back, I thought I felt his chin."

Hardy thought now they were getting somewhere at last, whoever it had been had made his first big mistake, threatening Rose Tyler.  She didn't seem the kind who would scare easily into submission.

"What about his accent Miss Tyler?  Was there anything unusual about it?  A London, southern, northern, Scottish hint to it?"

"It was a bit mumbled, like I said, like he was talking through something."

A knock came on the door and Miller went to it, stepping outside for a moment.  She sat back down.

"Units at the caravan site confirm a woman did see a man coming through the bushes almost knocking her over at the time Miss Tyler said.  They have nothing to report on anyone dressed like the attacker and they're still searching for a scarf or a hat or anything.  Without knocking on every single caravan door, there's no way to see if anyone was wearing all dark coloured clothing.  If they lived on the site, they could have got changed by now or they could have got out anywhere further up, the top driveway leads back higher up Forty Foot Way.  That road leads up to the High Street."

Rose already knew that, since she took that route twice a day but Hardy probably didn't, he probably got a lift home every night.

"The question is, how did he know you would be walking down that road at that time?  Do you go down there at the same time every morning?" Hardy asked.

"Yes, except weekends.  I go to The Stables café for breakfast then walk around the harbour to work."

Hardy raised an eyebrow.  The woman worked next door – in a café.  

"So you don't eat breakfast at work then?" he asked snidely.

"Have you seen their prices?" Rose scoffed back.  "I only work part-time, I can't afford breakfast there.  I get my lunch provided but only basic items like sandwiches and jacket potatoes and such like."

"Don't you get breakfast provided at the B&B?" Miller asked.

"No, it's cheaper to get just a room, it's another fifty quid for breakfast and evening meal and I'm not there in the evenings now, it's cheaper to buy breakfast out, they don't do just breakfast if you're long term."

"DS Miller will speak to the landlord, have breakfast there from now on and try and use a different route to work, can you do that?"

"I think so, I could come down the other way if I'm not going to the other café but won't whoever it was know there's another way as well?  If I don't go my usual route?"

"It's doubtful Rose, he's slipping up now, he's not a professional at this, he'll make more mistakes," Miller said reassuringly.

Rose just hoped she was right.

Chapter 4

Rose asked if she could go now. 

"I need to get to work."

Hardy considered her words. 

"Go back to your accommodation the other way and remember to get your breakfast there in the morning."

"But it's a longer way round and I have to call and get something to eat on the way back, I always call at the fish and chip shop on the way back, there's hardly anything open at the other end of the High Street and I don't eat burgers and pizzas all the time."

Hardy was thinking she must live on chips and yet she was quite slender. 

"You'll have to find something else then, I don't advise going back the way you came earlier."

"That's just great," Rose thought. It was Friday before her money was in the bank and she hadn't been paid for the Police Station job yet, that came this week. She would only just get through. She would have to make do and since she was going to be late for work, she doubted she would get her lunch break today.

Miller got up and left the room, leaving Hardy standing by the door. He felt her hesitation.

"You're having financial difficulties, aren't you?"

Rose thought he was very perceptive. 

"Just until I start getting paid from the job here at the station. I wasn't expecting to pay anything extra out."

"I'll get DS Miller to ask the landlord if you can pay the extra money next week, if that will help?"

It would. 

"Thanks. If my job at the café goes, I'll have to go back home, I won't be able to get another job just like that and everyone will be cutting back now tourists aren't coming to the town."

Hardy thought she was having a dig at him. 

"We're doing our best but we have the killer worried now, if he's threatening you and he thinks you know more than you actually do. Don't worry, I'm confident he will make another mistake."

Rose just hoped it wouldn't be with her again. 

"There is one thing I remember, if it helps. I could smell something this time, something weird and plus, the other day, I thought it was nothing, when I was going to the shop, I thought someone was hanging around by the garages near the fish and chip shop."

"You didn't think it was important enough at the time? You should have told us about it." Hardy was annoyed she had failed to mention this. "He was waiting for you then and knew you were going to walk down there at some point."

"But it was on Saturday, I only saw a movement, nothing else. I don't work on Saturdays but I might see if I can get a Saturday job, I'm going to need the extra money."

"You work enough hours by the sound of it Miss Tyler, you need some time off." Listen at him, he had some room to talk. "Any idea what the smell was? Was it from the attacker?"

"Yes, I think so although it could have been coming from the swimming pool, like chlorine or something similar, maybe more like mouthwash or something like that. Does that help?"

"Everything helps Miss Tyler. I'll let you get to work now, if I need to speak to you, someone will call you."

Rose finally got to work, half an hour late and would have to work through her lunch break but she'd had no breakfast, she was going to be really hungry soon. Her boss though told her to grab a sandwich and take a short break, for which she was grateful. When she got back to the Police Station later, Rose thought she was spending as much time there than she was back in her room at the B&B. Hardy was not in his office for a change so she went in there first, in case he came back.

She had fifteen minutes to go when Hardy finally came back to his office, hung up his jacket and sat down noticing his bin was already empty and she could have sworn there was a disappointed look on his face. Did he actually enjoy her interrupting him every night to clear his office? She shook that thought off immediately, there was no way. He kept looking over to where she was finishing cleaning the sink in the break room, she now left it until last as he had a bad habit of throwing teaspoons into it after she had cleaned it and had decided she was just wasting her time cleaning it earlier.

They had played that game a few nights during her first week and she wasn't going to let Hardy win. She picked up her tray of cleaning materials and the bin liners and went towards the door, thinking she should at least say goodnight to him. She turned around as he was coming out of his office.

"DS Miller has spoken to the landlord and explained that another incident has taken place and we've advised you to alter your daily routine and take breakfast there and it's all been arranged. You can pay the extra just for breakfast next week at half the rate for dinner and breakfast. Miss Tyler, if you insist in calling for something to eat at your usual place on the way back, I can walk up that way with you if you want."

"Thanks, I'll go get rid of these and be downstairs in five minutes Sir." 

She was hardly in a position to refuse his offer.

If she declined, she would have to walk all the way around and call at a takeaway, not her favourite and the supermarket at the bottom of the High Street was expensive and what would she get from there anyway?

Hardy held the door open and allowed Rose through, just nodding to acknowledge he would wait downstairs. He had considered getting a uniform to escort her to her lodgings but he could go back that way although it was a bit longer. He would still make it for dinner at the hotel if he got there before half seven.

Five minutes later, Rose was on her way downstairs and Hardy was waiting for her and the two of them left, getting a funny look from the desk sergeant who had never seen Hardy leave with anyone apart from DS Miller and certainly never with the new cleaner. Then he remembered earlier that she had come in and asked for Hardy and he'd heard something about her being attacked then learned she was part of the Latimer case so he figured Hardy was just escorting her out of the building.

They walked the few yards to the corner of the road Rose had walked down earlier, Rose wondering if he had gone back to his office just to walk her home but there was no chance it would be just that. Maybe he had more questions for her. They walked around the corner and stopped in front of the fish and chip shop. Hardy had assumed that was where she wanted to go.

"So, you get chips every night, is that all you live on?"

Rose wasn't sure what he meant by that remark. 

"Mostly, I get chips and something else, maybe a pie or something, can't afford proper fish and chips even at takeaway prices, they're more than I pay for breakfast."

Hardy himself was getting hungry now he could smell the food. He noticed the shop had a café attached to it and looked at the menu. She was right, they were a bit pricey but he couldn't eat them out of paper or a bag or anything and she looked like she needed a good meal for a change.

"Miss Tyler, when was the last time you had a proper meal, apart from breakfast or something with chips?" he asked as she turned to go into the shop.

Rose wondered what sort of question was that, was he implying she didn't eat properly? Maybe she didn't.

"I don't know, I've just been getting takeaways and things, sandwiches and stuff for lunch. Why?"

"Then let me buy you dinner, I'm hungry myself and by the time I get back to my hotel I'll be too late to get anything."

That was an offer Rose couldn't let pass so she agreed. They went inside and Hardy led her to a table at the far end and they sat down, Rose not even daring to look at the menu, she would settle for fish and chips. Hardy ordered them for her and scampi for himself and ordered a pot of tea for two.

"So, this isn't breaking any rules about fraternising with witnesses is it DI Hardy?" Rose laughed, the first time in the last few days.

Hardy cracked half a smile, the first she had seen on him, when she had been looking anyway. 

"No, as long as it's not implied I'm leading the witness into saying something that's not true and since I'm off duty, I can't ask you any more questions so let's just enjoy our meals."

Their food arrived and Hardy couldn't decide whether to strike up a conversation or eat in silence, she would think he was either ignoring her or being over-friendly.

Rose couldn't stand the silence. 

"So what am I supposed to do now? Do I have to be escorted home every night or walk the long way back? I just wish I could forget about this."

Hardy felt sorry for her now, he knew they couldn't spare the resources at present to have someone take her back by car every night. It wouldn't hurt to offer to walk up with her every night but maybe not eat out every time, that could be taken the wrong way.

Rose was enjoying her meal, on a plate and not out of a carton and proper tea, bread & butter and with someone for company. She was missing her mother.

"Miss Tyler, I don't think you're in any immediate danger, whoever it is they're trying to scare you. He's just an amateur, but we are taking the threats seriously though so if it makes you feel better, I can walk up with you every night, it's not much out of my way. If whoever it is that threatened you sees you walking with me, they'll stay away and know you're not scared of them. Shutting yourself away and not talking to the police will just show him he's won. We must be getting close or he wouldn't have acted like that. Try not to worry too much."

That was easy for him to say. 

"Please, call me Rose and thanks, yeah, I'd feel better if someone walked back with me."

Hardy looked at her. 

"Rose, Rose, nice name but in the station I'll have to call you Miss Tyler."

Rose could live with that. Why had he suddenly turned friendly? Did he already know something and wasn't telling her? Should she be even more worried?

They finished their meal and Hardy paid, begrudgingly and asked for a receipt, he would claim it back on expenses and they walked up the road and turned towards where Rose was staying just around the corner. Reaching the front door, Hardy said goodnight.

"Thank you, for walking me back. I'll try to stay out of trouble tomorrow," she smiled, putting her key in the door.

"That's okay, goodnight Rose."

Hardy turned and walked back along the road towards his hotel, hoping she really wouldn't cause him any more trouble.

The next three days, Rose had breakfast where she was staying, the landlord never even saying anything to her about it although Rose supposed he would on Saturday when she had to pay for another week, she had extra now. She had walked the other way to work, Hardy had walked her back after she finished work, Rose stopping for a few minutes to get her tea, Hardy waiting outside after he had hardly said a word while she was cleaning his office, him just getting on with his work and making a mess in the sink as usual, leaving the odd teabag half out of the bin when he went to make a drink, Rose knowing he was just doing it deliberately.

It was like they had a truce for the short distance between the station and where she was staying with just a "Goodnight Rose" when he left her at the front door and once or twice a "Are you ready to go now?" as she had been gathering her things at the station. Thankfully, there were no more incident those few days and Hardy was beginning to think it was now a waste of time, he had to go out of his way to walk back with his only witness and somehow he had been handed the responsibility of making sure she got back safely.

Things were about to change the following day – Friday. Rose had breakfast, went back to her room, had a quick chat with her mother, saying nothing about her involvement with the case or being threatened. She set off to walk down the High Street, going the longer way again and getting annoyed it was taking her twice as long to get to work. She was halfway around the harbour when her phone rang, not knowing who it was since the caller ID was blocked.

She stopped just past the amusement arcade and said hello, thinking it was maybe the Police Station. A male voice came over the speaker.

"I warned you, you didn't listen now you're going to pay. You were told to tell the police you'd made a mistake, now you're making a mistake. Don't think by getting that police detective to walk you home every night will protect you, I'm watching you, Rose Tyler."

The caller hung up. He knew her name and that Hardy had been walking her home. Rose went over to sit on one of the benches outside the amusement arcade on the grass by the bus shelter. She dialled the station's number, remembering what Hardy had said about the last incident, asking for him or DS Miller. It was Miller who took her call.

"Has something happened Rose?" Miller asked, sounding concerned.

Rose didn't answer at first. 

"Rose, are you there?"

Rose could hear her calling for Hardy. Then she heard his voice. "Rose, are you okay, answer me. Where are you?" 

Miller looked surprised when he used her first name, he was not one for first names.

Rose faintly replied, "Outside the amusement arcade."

"Stay there, I'm sending two uniformed officers for you, they'll walk you back to the Police Station." 

He knew there was something wrong or she wouldn't have called. He told Miller where Rose was.

Rose held her phone in her hand and sat there, waiting for the officers. For once she was going to do as Hardy asked.

Back at the Police Station, Miller was already organising two nearby officers on patrol to go find her, giving a description of Rose and where she was and they were on their way to her before Hardy hung up. He knew he should have got someone to walk down with her as well. He hadn't liked her the first week she had started at the station but as time had gone on, they had played a little game of him going out of his way to be awkward and she'd seemed to play along with it. Now it seemed like she was in trouble.

The two officers found her where she said she would be. The same WPC from the beach and the B&B approached her.

"Miss Tyler, are you okay? DS Miller sent us to escort you to the station. Are you okay to walk with us?"

Rose nodded and got up.

People in the amusement arcade were watching, thinking probably she was getting picked up for vagrancy or drinking or something equally as bad as she got up and was flanked on both sides by the officers. She may as well have been handcuffed to them the way people were staring, all except one person at the back of the arcade who turned to attend to a small boy in a pushchair.

Chapter 5

Rose was escorted into the Police Station and she took a seat while the officers informed the desk to call DS Miller, who was downstairs in a few minutes along with Hardy. Leading her to the interview room, Miller told someone to get Rose some coffee and switched the recorder on.

Rose was starting to recover and put her phone on the table. 

"I just got a threatening phone call, no caller ID. He knows my name."

Miller looked at Hardy. 

"Go on," Hardy said.

"The man said I should have told you I'd made a mistake and now I had made a mistake and that he was watching me. He said my name and just because someone was walking me home I wasn't protected."

Hardy got up and paused the recorder. Miller asked why.

"Because unofficially I've been walking Miss Tyler back the last few nights to make sure she gets back alright. I saw no reason to log it down as I was on my way home, she was leaving at the same time as I was."

"Sir, you went against protocol, you should have got a unit to see her home." 

Did he like making things difficult or what?

"Miller, this is not the time, Miss Tyler has been threatened again."

"Hello, I'm still here." Rose said, waving her hand. "Can you two have a tiff later?" 

These two were made for each other, pity DS Miller was already married, she'd love to see them bickering at home. 

"Do you need my phone?"

Miller got up and put it in an evidence bag. 

"You'll get it back when we've finished with it." 

She walked out of the room.

"Sorry, I shouldn't have said that bit in front of her, should I?"

"You weren't to know."

"You didn't have to admit anything in front of her though, it could have been anyone walking me home, I did avoid the fact the man said just because that detective was walking you home."

"Was that what he actually said?"

"Yes. Will you be able to get anything from my phone, it was a blocked number. I only answered it in case it was you or DS Miller calling me. He said he was watching me."

"What? You did not mention that. Tell me word for word what he said. Don't leave anything out, I'll speak to my boss later, take no notice of Miller, I'm taking the responsibility."

Hardy set the recorder going again and Rose repeated what the one-sided conversation had been, omitting nothing.

He switched it off again. 

"Miss Tyler, I think we should take you into protective custody until we get to the bottom of this."

"Absolutely not, what am I going to do about work? No, just an escort back home will do, I'll vary the time I set off every morning and it's the weekend, I'll stay in a populated area on Saturday and go to the sports centre on Sunday like I normally do, I'll be safe there. I can't stay in all the time or I'll go crazy."

Hardy was not happy. 

"Can you get a taxi to work and back? Keep the receipts and I'll make sure you get the money back."

Rose shook her head. 

"I haven't got any spare money for that. I get paid today, I have to pay for another week plus two lots of meals, it won't leave me with a lot of spare cash next week. I'm going to be late for work again. Can I go now?"

"Yes, for now. Stay away from isolated places."

"I only walk around the back of the café into the Police Station, what can happen?"

"Okay but I still walk you home."

Rose couldn't argue with that, she liked the company even if it was only for a short time.

She just made it for work in time, saying hello to DS Miller's young son again but Miller's husband didn't look too happy, pulling the boy away from her on some pretence, wiping his face when nothing was there. She thought nothing of it and went back to the counter, saw DS Miller come and greet the two of them, smiling across at Rose.

Then Miller went up to the counter, spoke with Rose's boss then motioned at Rose to join her at the other end of the counter.

"Rose, how long has DI Hardy been walking you back home?"

Rose thought either she or Hardy were in trouble.

"Just since Monday night. He wanted me to walk the long way back but before I left, he said he'd walk up with me and that he was going that way anyway." 

Rose thought she would leave the bit out that he'd bought her a meal the other night.

"Well, just be careful, it might be seen differently to what it actually was, since it was unofficial. He's been in to see the Chief Superintendent and cleared it. We could send you back in a car but we don't want to alert the killer yet so just walking home is fine. I heard the recording, whoever it is has been watching you walk home with Hardy but I don't get it, he was hanging around on Saturday and Monday morning but only phones you this morning, watching you walk back, why nothing the other mornings?"

"Can we talk about this later? I have to get back to work."

"Sure, I'll get your phone back as soon as I can."

Rose went back to work, trying herself to think why indeed had he just rung this morning and how on earth had he got her number and knew her name? Rose had a horrible feeling, it could be someone at the Police Station, someone with access to the case. No-one was there except Hardy in the evenings. There were other divisions in the building but not working on that case.

She arrived at the station, Hardy wasn't in again and she hoped he'd not been warned off walking her home but Miller had said he'd cleared it. The TV on the wall was still on and suddenly she noticed Hardy's face on it, sat alongside the chief and the Latimer family. She felt sorry for the boy's family, what they must be going through. There was no way she was giving in to whoever was threatening her, not when she could help.

Just before seven, Hardy came through the door with Miller and they went into his office. Rose had no choice but to wait for him so she took her things to the cleaners room, knowing Hardy wouldn't think she had gone off on her own and went back in. They were still having a heated discussion, although somewhat muffled by the door but she gathered it must be about her. She turned towards the TV and turned up the volume.

Miller and Hardy were indeed talking about her.

"Sir, I think it's totally inappropriate you walking Rose Tyler home, I should see her home, I can drop her off."

"No Miller, it means changing her routine again, giving him what he wants. If he doesn't see us walking up the road, he'll think he's won."

"Maybe we should let him think he's won Sir. By changing her routine, he'll think he got to her and we're working in the dark now, all that investigating gone to waste."

"No Miller, I don't think that will convince him somehow. We need to flush him out, get him to make more mistakes."

"Not where Rose Tyler is concerned, you're not putting her in any more danger, he could really threaten her physically next time."

"Do you think I'd let anything actually happen to her Miller? What do you take me for?"

Miller laughed. "Seriously – Sir?" Miller got up. "Fine, walk her home but what are you going to do about her over the weekend?" 

She got up and opened the door.

Rose had not been listening, sitting away from the office door and looking at the TV. She figured she should not be eavesdropping on them even if it was about her.

Miller came out and handed Rose her phone. 

"Goodnight Rose, see you on Monday. I'll leave you in the capable hands of DI Hardy."

"Goodnight Ma'am."

Hardy came out of his office, putting his jacket on. Rose thought he was turning out not to be the grinch so much after all.

He still thought Rose Tyler didn't like him much, women seemed to avoid him all the time, Miller was proof of that. Taking the stairs instead of the lift, they exited the station and walked down the steps. Hardy knew he'd never make it back to the hotel for dinner now, it was almost seven thirty. He couldn't risk being seen out with Miss Tyler again, the chief had said he could escort her home since they left at the same time but warned him against getting involved with her, she was their only witness and the chief didn't want him to compromise her.

Hardy had laughed and said there was no worry on that score, he had a low success rate where women, especially young attractive blondes were concerned. Besides, Rose Tyler was independent, stubborn and far too young for him. They walked to the corner and were just about to turn when he stopped. Not wanting to go to the café in the fish and chip shop again, he knew there was a pub just across the bridge over the river and supposed they must serve food and knowing Rose was going to get chips – again asked if she wanted to go for a meal.

Rose would be a fool if she turned down a free meal, the next week was going to be tight moneywise. They walked across the bridge and into The George pub and sat in the dining area and if Hardy thought the other place was expensive, he'd seen nothing yet and Rose turned her nose up at the menu anyway, it was too much for her, all the fancy dishes. She wondered why people would actually go out to a pub for such meals. So avoiding the bar, they went back outside and walked around the next corner, crossing the road to another pub, looking at the menu outside which seemed more to their liking.

Hardy thought it was the least likely place they would be recognised. Over their meals, Hardy asked about where she came from, Rose telling him about her humble upbringing by her mother, her on/off loser of a boyfriend who was now permanently off the menu and his pathetic attempts to get her back.

Hardy smiled, she was far too young to have gone through all that. He knew how old she was, she had given her date of birth on her witness statement. He was a lot older than she was. Why was he even thinking that anyway? Did it really matter? She was a witness to a crime who he was protecting. If by any remote chance she was actually interested in him, nothing could come of it until it was all over and the killer was caught. Not that someone like Rose would be bothered with him, why should she?

Rose was enjoying some real home-cooked food, something without chips. If she wasn't careful, she would start putting on weight, she would have to go to the gym twice a week at this rate. It was a good thing she had started walking the long way round to work. Hardy told her how he'd had to take a transfer, not going into great detail, just something had gone wrong and he had to lie low for a while. He didn't want to bore her with his rather painful divorce and his operation. His illness had been brought on by all the stress of his so-called home life anyway, the endless arguments over nothing and his wife's betrayal, they had cut deep into him and taken their toll to the point it was the operation or the end of his life and he wasn't quite finished yet.

Hardy had actually bought Rose a drink and half a lager for himself, rather unusual for him, he hadn't really drunk anything since his remarkable recovery. He wasn't keen on the stuff, preferred Jack Daniels but he never knew if there was going to be a sudden development in the case and couldn't take the chance. Maybe when it was all over he would treat himself to a bottle or two. He thought Rose seemed to relax a little, she was smiling and said she felt sorry for him that he'd travelled hundreds of miles to get another job.

They left the pub and walked the long way back, talking about things in general until they finally reached Rose's lodgings.

"So Rose, what do you have planned this weekend? Remember to stay in populated places, don't go anywhere where you're alone."

"Aw, don't worry, I'm not going to. Going to go to the gym and swimming on Sunday, tomorrow I'll just look around the shops, just window shopping, no money to spare this week when I've paid for another week in my room."

"Look, I have to work tomorrow morning, why don't you come down to the harbour café and meet me for lunch?"

"I can't have you buying all my meals for me, detective, that's not fair."

"Well were you planning on starving yourself tomorrow or eating more chips? They can't be good for you, eating them all the time."

Rose took the huff. "It's all I can afford, I can't eat out all the time, I'll be lucky if I get anything at all next week." 

She hadn't meant for it to come out like that.

"Then let me buy you lunch tomorrow, that way I'll know you've had something. One o'clock at the harbour café, the one on the end of that block of apartments."

"I know where it is. You got into trouble, didn't you? For walking me home."

"I cleared it with the chief. You're my responsibility now."

"Even when you're off duty?"

Hardy looked guilty. "The killer is more likely to make another move when he sees you're not complying with his wishes, he's never off duty. If it means giving up some of my free time, I'm prepared to do so, you're our only lead."

Rose knew it, he was only doing his job, even taking her for meals, he was just feeling sorry for her. Even so, she could hardly throw his generosity back in his face.

"Okay, thanks, I accept your offer of lunch tomorrow. Can't have you failing to act responsibly for me, can we?" she smiled, getting her key out.

Hardy cracked another smile. 

"Goodnight Rose, try to stay out of trouble until tomorrow lunchtime."

"Goodnight detective." Somehow, calling him 'Sir' when saying goodnight outside her temporary place of residence seemed a bit odd.

"It's Alec, not that I like the name very much but when we're on our own, you can call me that, when you have to."

"Goodnight then, Alec. I wasn't meaning to sound ungrateful, it's just you've come to my rescue a lot this week. I didn't want you to think I was taking advantage of your generosity."

Hardy knew he wasn't well known for that. 

"Think nothing of it, I did not think you were taking advantage, I was the one to offer. It seems a reasonable way of keeping an eye on you, for your own safety of course."

Rose thought of course that was the only reason he was doing it - not.

Rose went up to her room, Hardy went back to the hotel where he was greeted by Becca Fisher.

"Been eating out again, detective?" Becca asked, handing him his key.

Why he didn't take it with him, he didn't know. Perhaps he would apart from cleaning day. He took the key, grunted a quick 'yes' and retreated up the stairs. He did not want to get tangled with her, she had been an alibi for the victim's father. It would complicate matters even more, walking Rose Tyler home was complicated enough, he'd had to justify it with the chief, saying he was saving them allocating either a patrol car or foot patrol from having to deviate from their normal routine by escorting her himself on his way home. Not that he considered the hotel his home. He rather enjoyed the walk though, they seemed to have stopped playing games in the station and now he just waited for her to finish work. Miller was right though, he should let his DS drive Rose Tyler home but where was the fun in that?

Chapter 6

Rose had expected a dozen missed calls from her mother while she'd not had her phone but there wasn't even one. Somehow her mother always knew if she had forgotten to take her mobile with her and left missed calls or texts galore. It was already past nine so she decided to leave it and call tomorrow. She felt fuller than she had all week, the meal had been really nice and the drink, she'd not had a drink since she had been in the town. She wasn't sure she should accept lunch tomorrow though, guilt was creeping in that she was taking advantage and playing the damsel in distress but it was nice to have a man buy her meals for a change. Not like Mickey, inviting her out then asking for a tenner to pay for it or take her to the pub when the football was on TV.

She had grown out of all that, she was twenty six, finally left home, maybe only temporary and may have to return sooner than she'd planned if things didn't pick up. If she wasn't careful the café owner would finish her, since she was the last one there and business was slower now the beach was closed. People just weren't coming to the town. She watched a bit of TV and got ready for bed. She felt safer now the landlord had put another catch on the window that could be easily opened from the inside but not the outside.

That was if someone had not left it unfastened earlier in the day. Rose was woken by a noise again, she was a light sleeper and easily woke. She was sure she had heard a window bang. She leapt out of bed and put her dressing gown on. She'd had quite enough of this. That moron was not going to get the better of her. She saw the handle of her door move and grabbed her mobile, pressing the number for the station. The phone was answered and she told them to send someone and tell DI Hardy that the killer was trying to get in her room again. Didn't that idiot ever give up?

She called out as the door handle was tried several times. Did he really think she was going to open it?

"Whoever you are, the police are on their way."

She called the landlord's number. 

"It's Miss Tyler. There's someone on the second floor again trying to get into my room."

She hung up and there was another noise outside, followed by heavy footsteps on the stairs and a shouting. She knew she was going to be asked to leave in the morning, there was no way the landlord thought it was an opportunist again, not this time. She opened her door to see the landlord was preparing to follow the intruder out onto the fire escape. 

"Be careful Mr Phillips, I've called the police."

The man changed his mind. 

"That useless cleaner must have left the window unfastened, I'm sorry Miss Tyler, no-one should have got in again." 

He locked the window again.

He went downstairs just as there was a knocking on the door. Rose thought the window had been left like that on purpose but it was probably just thoughtlessness. Two officers were talking downstairs, then there was another knock on the door. Rose supposed it was DS Miller, Hardy wouldn't come out for this. She was wrong as she heard his voice downstairs.

Hardy had been woken up by his mobile. Why didn't they ring Miller if it was about the case? Then he changed his mind.

"Sir, we just received another call from Miss Tyler, someone tried to get into her room again and DS Miller can't be reached."

"Send a car for me at my hotel in five minutes and try Miller again. Why the hell is she not answering her phone? No, don't answer that, just get a car here."

It might be a five minute or so walk but it was quicker by car. He never should have left her after that phone call earlier, what was he thinking of? He was dressed in under five minutes and letting himself out of the side door, seeing a patrol car pull up outside the hotel. He got in the passenger door and after doing a u-turn, the car sped off and was there a couple of minutes later. Now Miller would blame him if anything had happened to Rose, she was his responsibility. That did it, she was going into protective custody whether she liked it or not, even if he had to pick her up and carry her.

He thought about getting Miller to organise it but the less people who knew where she was the better. He would call the chief first thing and tell her what he had planned, then talk to Ms Fisher. He was let in by the landlord, room doors were closing upstairs, people having being woken up again. He knew landlords well enough, dealt with many of them and he knew Rose would be asked to leave even if he had nothing planned but he did have something planned but it depended what his chief thought about it. She probably wouldn't go for it, she had been annoyed he had been walking Rose home for almost a week.

It was either take Rose out of there or risk her being hurt. He didn't want to think about her getting hurt, not when he could prevent it. Who knew what the killer might try next time? Next time he might do more than warn her. One thing was for sure, whoever it was, they were panicking even more. One more mistake and he would have them, especially if he got the results he expected tomorrow, which was why he was keen not to leave it until Monday. Rose was in the doorway of number 23, next to the landing window. No wonder she had been such an easy target.   

"Miss Tyler, are you alright?"

Rose nodded. Hardy turned to the two uniformed officers who had followed him up two flights of stairs. 

"You can go now, I'll take Miss Tyler's statement. Did you interview the landlord, find out how the intruder got in?"

The WPC answered. "He believes the cleaner left the window unfastened. It is a new catch on it, he had it changed on Saturday Sir."

"Incompetence, one careless thought puts people in danger. Tell my driver downstairs to wait for me."

"Yes Sir."

The two officers started back downstairs and Rose had stepped back inside and was sitting on the bed. She was tired and fed-up with getting her sleep interrupted. Maybe she should just admit defeat and go home but she doubted the police would let their star witness go. Hardy closed the door behind him.

"Are you alright Rose? He didn't get in did he? Did he say anything?" 

He held his notebook in his hand.

"No, he didn't say anything, I shouted I'd called the police, then I rang the landlord and he came up, he was going to chase after whoever it was."

"We sent two units out, one here and one around the side streets, see if they turn anything up." 

He could see that Rose was shaken.

"Rose, you can't stay here, he'll keep trying. You have to let me take you somewhere else."

He sat down on the only chair in the small room, realising just how small the room actually was and Rose lived here. Well not for much longer if he got his way.

"And where am I supposed to go Alec? I can't afford anywhere else, this was the cheapest. I'm tired, can I answer your questions tomorrow?" 

He was tired as well. 

"Rose, let me take care of where you'll stay. I'm going to ask my chief first thing to let me arrange something for you, we'll pay for you to stay somewhere else. Be packed after breakfast in the morning, I'll come and collect you. Don't go with anyone else, even if they say I sent them."

Just then, his mobile rang. It was Miller. He felt like giving her a real roasting but not in front of Rose.

"Miller, someone attempted to get into Miss Tyler's room again. I'm with her now. I want a full explanation in the morning why no-one could reach you earlier, understood?" 

"Yes Sir. Sir, is she okay?"

"Yes, she's just shaken up." 

He hung up, he was not in the mood for Miller's excuses, her work phone should always be on, his was and it wasn't his job to take the first call in any developments. Since it was Rose, he'd made an exception.

"Sorry about that. As I was saying, we'll take care of where you'll stay. There will be only myself and the chief will know where that is, you'll be completely safe. Just be ready after breakfast."

"I have to go to the cash machine, I have to pay for the breakfasts I've been having."

"Don't worry about that, I'll make sure he gets paid, he can send the bill to the station. It was our idea you stayed for breakfast. Now try and get some sleep, I doubt the killer will try again tonight though how he got the right room, I don't know."

"Maybe the same way he got my name and my mobile number. Do you think it's possible it's someone working on the case, to get that kind of information?"

Hardy looked at her, she was getting close but he couldn't tell her. He had his own suspicions that he was keeping to himself, gathering more information. All he needed was for someone to switch that phone on and he had them. The public might be calling him the worst cop in Britain but they didn't know the half of it. He'd had to attend a funeral the same day and he wasn't in the best of moods anyway. It was like he had told Rose, a lot of work was going on behind the scenes that no-one knew about.

Rose got up. 

"Thanks, I'll just have to admit defeat and do as you ask, I'm not doing it willingly though."

"I can tell. Goodnight Rose, you'll be alright the rest of the night."

Right, that's what he'd thought earlier when he had left her there. He was going to be having words with Miller in the morning, it was no excuse her phone was off.

Hardy put his hand on the door and looked back at Rose. She was on the verge of tears and he'd thought she was tough. Well not as tough as she made herself out to be.

"Goodnight Alec, thanks. I doubt I'll get much sleep though."

"I'll have you out of here tomorrow." 

He crossed over to her and put his hands on her shoulders.

"I'll catch him Rose, I promise. I'm getting closer and he's worried." 

That was all he could tell her.  

Rose moved nearer. Hardy held his arms out to comfort her. He knew he shouldn't but it was only a gesture, nothing more. He held onto her for a few moments and he knew she was crying. So much for her being tough then. 

Rose let go, saying "Sorry."          

"It's alright, goodnight Rose."

"Goodnight Alec."

Hardy left her room and went back to the waiting car. He had plans to make. Rose got back into bed and finally drifted off. He had just been trying to comfort her and reassure her, that was all. He was just doing his job. 

Before breakfast the next morning, Rose packed all her stuff, getting her toiletries from the tiny washroom that contained just a small sink and a toilet. When she wanted a shower she had to go to the main bathroom on the floor below and it was usually occupied, having to leave her door open so she could hear when whoever it was came out and having to dash down before anyone else beat her to it. She also had to wash her undies out while she was there and hang them up on a round drying ring with pegs all the way around it she'd bought at the discount store. Luckily she had done that on Thursday night so they were dry. She went to the laundrette once a week with her other stuff.

She missed the luxuries like having a shower and a washing machine at her disposal. She went down to breakfast, the landlord eyeing her, probably trying to make up an excuse to have her leave and hoping he'd get paid for the meals she'd been having most of the week. She had just come out of the dining room at eight forty five when she saw Hardy coming up the short pathway. She almost felt like he was her knight in shining armour come to rescue her. She also resisted the urge to fling her arms around him for coming to save her.

Rose walked towards the front door as he stepped through. There was a car outside with someone in the driver's seat, it didn't look like DS Miller. At least he hadn't come in a marked Police car and making people think she was getting arrested.

"Miss Tyler, are you ready to leave?" Hardy asked as she said hello.

"Yes, I'm all packed. I'll just go get everything and hand my key in. I suppose when this is all over, he won't let me come back anyway, not after the commotion I've caused."

"I'm sure you can find somewhere better to stay."

He remembered the size of the room she was in and she would think she was in a palace in comparison where he was taking her. He had been on the phone to the chief at eight, outlining his plan. Surprisingly, she had agreed Miss Tyler needed protection but it was unusual, what he had proposed and wasn't quite sure she should approve of it. He had made her see it was the best solution, it would save the Police the expense of putting her up somewhere.

Then he had let Becca Fisher in on his plan, the only other person who might object but he had explained the situation, that Rose had been threatened and she had agreed to let him move rooms and it would be ready when he got back with Miss Tyler. Now all he had to do was get Rose to agree to it. It would only be for a few hours a day, she could carry on working for now, a taxi would take her to work and they would walk back together, it was the best solution he could come up with that was the least expensive for the police and for Rose.

Since the police were already paying for him a double room, changing it to a twin and share was the least fuss and bother of finding another B&B and have the killer find her, if like he'd suspected, that person had inside information. He just had to find out who the information was willingly or unwillingly coming from. He followed Rose upstairs and carried her cases down. She had two small cases, a holdall and another bag plus her purse. Checking her room that she'd not left anything, she locked it and followed Hardy down the stairs, stopping at the bottom to find the landlord.

He came out of the dining room and Rose held her key out but it was Hardy that spoke, getting his ID Card out of his pocket.

"DI Alec Hardy, Wessex Police. Sorry for the inconvenience that's been caused. We have reason to believe someone is targeting Miss Tyler so we're finding her alternate accommodation. If she owes you for the meals she's taken from Tuesday onwards, send the bill to the Police Station, marking it for my attention, I'll see you are reimbursed."

The landlord just nodded, surprised the police were taking it so seriously. Still, it saved him the trouble of asking her to leave but he needed the revenue, half his bookings had been cancelled and she had been long term in comparison to the odd one nighter.

Hardy led her out to the car, the driver getting out to help him put her cases in the back, taking her holdall from her and opening the rear passenger door. They drove a short distance before pulling into a car park down a ramp, Rose not catching the name they had passed on the front of the building. They got out, Hardy taking her cases and then speaking to the driver, who he placed under threat if he told anyone at the station where he had taken him, that they had picked someone up and come back here. It was his usual driver when Miller wasn't driving him so he knew he could be sort of trusted. Putting him on school crossing patrol ensured his silence. He would have a long wait since the schools had just broken up for the holidays.

Hardy led the way back on to the High Street and went in the front door, greeted by Ms Fisher.

"Miss Fisher, this is Miss Rose Tyler. Is the room ready?"

"Yes, detective, room 206, as you requested. Welcome to The Trader's Hotel Miss Tyler. Can you just sign the registration card?"

Rose looked at Hardy, who nodded. Becca was thinking this woman was really spooked. She had only half believed Hardy when he'd told her and requested a twin room to protect someone who had been threatened several times over the Latimer boy's murder but now she did, the woman was scared to death to even sign her name. She didn't normally get this sort of request, sure, couples who weren't married came all the time but not usually in a twin room. She doubted Hardy went in for that sort of thing anyway, he'd never even tried it on with her.

Hardy led the way, since it was on the same floor as he had been on, just a few doors down, he stopped in front of 206 and put her cases down to open the door.

Rose looked at him. 

"No-one knows I'm here do they?"

"You're safe Rose. There's just Miss Fisher downstairs, my chief and myself. Not even DS Miller knows. There's just one thing."

He opened the door and Rose saw twin beds. He carried the cases in and put them down, Rose followed, putting her holdall on a chair.

"In order to get my chief to agree, I had to promise there would be no added expenses and since they pay for me a double room, I had Miss Fisher agree to change it to a twin room. I promise Rose, you'll be safe here, you won't have to worry again even if you get any more threatening phonecalls, I'll have a trace put on your phone, you just hang up. We'll have your mobile provider on it to see where the call originated."

Rose sat on one of the beds. 

"So we have to share? This is your idea of protective custody? This was your idea?"

He couldn't tell if she was angry or not. Shouldn't she be just grateful he had got her out of that dingy room? Maybe she was just tired and upset.

"It's just for a few hours a day Rose, just to sleep. We can stay downstairs in the bar or the lounge until bedtime. You can get changed in the bathroom, I won't bother you. It's just until we catch whoever is doing this and I'm confident it won't be long. I have to go get my things from my old room, before ten or they charge for another day." 

He actually smiled at the thought.

"I'll be back in a few minutes, I'll take the key. Why don't you unpack and settle in?"

Rose was already looking in the bathroom, dreaming of a shower. It wouldn't be too bad, if he tried anything, she knew a few tricks. She didn't suppose he would anyway, it wouldn't look good if she reported him when he was supposed to be protecting her.

"Okay, I'll be in the shower, I usually have to wait to use it."

Rose thought she might at least take advantage of her new accommodation even if it wasn't going to be for long. It was better than where she had just come from.

Chapter 7

The events have been speeded up for the purpose of the story – I'm sure DI Hardy would have really liked to have solved the murder this quickly!

Hardy had already packed his things, he'd been up since half six after going through his plan and just hoping Rose would go along with it. She hardly had a choice and although it wasn't fair that she'd had to move, she can't have been happy where she was. Just checking the bathroom, he wheeled his case out and slung his overcoat over his arm, though why he'd brought that with him when it was the beginning of summer, he didn't know but it was still a few months before he could even be considered for another transfer let alone actually get someone to take him.

He had only agreed to come here because it was supposed to be a quiet town. So much for that. He unlocked the door and dragged his belongings in, noticed Rose was absent but he could hear the shower running and closed the door again to go hand his old room key in.

Rose stepped out of the shower, having taken clean clothing in with her and being able to take her time. Once dressed, she stepped out to see Hardy unzipping his large suitcase.

"Thought you had to work this morning?" she asked.

He was supposed to have been.

"I can do that for you, you get off. Unless there's anything you don't want me to see?" she smiled, brushing her hair.

"No, not really, just stay out of my holdall."

Rose gave a mock salute, "Yes Sir," then she smiled. "Go on, get out of here, I'll be fine."

"Get a taxi down to the café for one, I'll meet you there. Don't worry if I'm late, you'll be safe there. Don't let anyone come up to you and say I sent them, unless it's DS Miller, you only deal with the two of us. Oh, I'll give you my mobile number, just in case, well both of them." He pulled a card from his jacket. Then he added, "Don't tell DS Miller you've moved out of the B&B just yet."

"Okay. Alec, is it okay if I go to the sports centre later? Only all those chips and meals are going to make me fat."

Hardy disagreed but couldn't say anything without offending her and since they had to share a room, he kept his mouth shut.

"I'm going to borrow a car, I'll take you there later and pick you up. Bring your things to the café and I'll take you straight there from the harbour."

"Thanks, I feel much better now. Thanks for rescuing me."

What could he say? "I wouldn't call it rescuing exactly, you're our only witness, we have to make sure you're safe. You're safe now, I won't let anything happen to you."

Rose felt reassured. He was doing his job, just that, nothing else Rose had to keep reminding herself repeatedly.

Hardy had a car waiting out front that took him down to the station, where DS Miller was waiting for him, annoyed she'd had to give up her Saturday morning with her family to answer Hardy's inane questions. She couldn't explain why her phones didn't ring, she could have sworn they were on, they always were and if something had happened to Rose, she would never have forgiven herself.

Miller was quite a heavy sleeper but her husband, Joe, usually heard and nudged her, he was used to it but he said he had no idea her phones were on silent and had only woken her when he'd gone to the bathroom and saw the flashing light of a missed call on her work phone. She was sat in Hardy's office and said "Sorry" when he sat down.

He didn't want her excuses but there again, if he hadn't got the call, he would not have been able to arrange to move Rose. He felt better now, knowing she was safe but he had taken an awful lot upon himself.

"Sir, is Rose okay, getting frightened again like that? Don't you think you should move her?"

"Not just yet, the killer hasn't got in her room yet, the cleaner apparently left the window unlocked, it won't happen again. I'm going to borrow a car and drive her up and down to work, she can't afford a taxi. I'll go pick her up at ten thirty every morning."

"Sir, I could do that."

"No Miller, she's my responsibility, if I can't go get her, then I'll send a squad car for her and tell her. Next time, double check your phones before you go to bed."

"I really don't know what happened unless my youngest was playing with them when I got back last night but I didn't see him with them."

Miller went back to her desk, Hardy got on the phone saying he wanted a plain car ready for him in the garage by one. He didn't hear the answer of "You'll be lucky" from the officer in charge but he knew better than to argue with the detective, he wasn't one who took no for an answer. Someone would have to start using their own car and wouldn't be pleased when they came in on Monday morning to find their police vehicle missing or the keys gone.

Rose was unpacking her things and hanging them up, finding a laundry bag in the bottom of the wardrobe with the room number on and went to put it in the bathroom. She unpacked Hardy's case, hanging his suits and shirts up and assigning a dresser drawer to him. Then she gathered her gym stuff and swimming costume and stuffed them with a towel into her smaller holdall that had been tucked away in the larger one.

She wandered downstairs just after twelve thirty, wondering whether to hand the key in or not but decided to keep it and hand it to him when he'd taken her to the sports centre, then deciding maybe she should leave it in case she forgot, he wouldn't be pleased if he had to come and find her and she was in the pool.

She handed the key in. "Everything okay Miss Tyler?" Becca asked, hanging the key up. She'd been asked by Hardy not to ask too many questions, in return, he would let the incident over the drugs slide and be forgotten about. She'd had little choice.

"Yeah, it's okay, better than where I was. I wish I could afford something like this. Do you have any taxi numbers?"

"There's a taxi rank just down the street or there are some numbers in the doorway."

Rose knew she wasn't supposed to go out on her own so she chose a taxi service at random and booked one. There was no sign of Alec Hardy when she stepped into the harbour café but she was early. She had just been brought her order when he came in and sat opposite her.

"I was supposed to be buying you lunch," he smiled.

"Never mind, I don't have any board to pay now."

After a fairly silent lunch, he asked where the sports centre was and dropped her off and arranged she was to stay inside until he picked her up. Rose felt like a schoolkid being given instructions about going off with strangers, Hardy was doing the same and maybe taking it a bit more seriously than he should.

For the first time since that awful night, Rose felt more relaxed, enjoying her swimming and then the exercise bike. She noted the time and went to get changed and was waiting in the doorway, trying to remember what sort of car he was in, then seeing him drive up to the pickup point in an SUV type car, black of course and throwing her things in the back seat, got in the front.

"Hi," she said cheerfully.

"Did you enjoy yourself?"

"More than you can imagine thanks. I almost forgot the events of the last week or so. I can't believe it's only been a week."

Neither could Hardy. He was getting nowhere fast. He'd had the results he'd been waiting for but not what he'd expected. It all depended now on things speeding up. Now the killer could no longer intimidate the only witness by attacking her and trying to get into her room, plus the two calls, it might prompt whoever it was into taking drastic action and make a really big mistake, which was exactly what he wanted. There was still the missing phone, if that was just switched on, they could end this.

Parking in the hotel rear car park, Hardy led Rose to the side entrance and they made their way upstairs. Thinking she might want some time to herself, he left her at the door.

"I'll just be downstairs if you want me. Come down and join me for dinner at six, I'll be in the bar if you're any earlier. If you want to come down later I'll wait."

"You don't have to leave you know, it's your room as well."

"No it's alright, I'm not going to crowd you, have some time to yourself, you don't need me hanging around." He put the key on the dressing table. "See you downstairs." 

Then he left.

Rose wished he hadn't, she wanted someone to talk to. He'd said not for her even tell DS Miller she had moved and wanted to know why. She also didn't know whether to tell her mother or not but she hadn't yet told her she was the star witness in a murder case and she would ask questions. Best leave it.

She put her swimming costume to dry and got changed and went down to join Hardy, who was drinking tea in the bar and helped herself since he'd got two cups.

"Didn't feel like staying on my own. You don't mind do you?"

They talked until it was time to go in for dinner and Hardy didn't have a clue what he was going to talk to her about until it was bedtime. He was useless with women and was surprised she was still talking to him at all. Rose soon put him at ease though, talking about London and what she used to do there and asking him about Scotland. He found he could actually talk to her.

"I'd love to see Scotland, it sounds beautiful up there. Do you still have relatives there?"

He didn't really want to bring his family into it. 

"Just an aunt in Oban, that's in the Highlands, in the west." 

It wasn't appropriate to bring up the fact he was divorced.

They moved into the bar, Hardy buying her a drink but it was Saturday night, a few people were starting to come in, including a few he recognised of those partly responsible for another death so they got up and went into the lounge, sitting on a couch by the window, he did not want to hear their conversations, especially sitting with Rose. One man had already purposely spoken aloud when they had been leaving, something about the police not doing enough to protect the town. Luckily he had let Rose go before him.

They went up to their room just before ten and Rose went to get changed in the bathroom, opting for her pyjamas and settling herself in the bed she had chosen, turning away as Hardy went into the bathroom and then coming out in his shorts and t-shirt.

"You can turn round now Rose, I won't bite. I hate having a conversation with someone's back."

Rose smiled and turned around to see him sitting up in his own bed.

"I think I'll actually get some sleep tonight," she smiled. "I hope you don't snore Alec," she teased, spluttering out a laugh.

"I'll have you know I do not snore, Rose Tyler and I'm highly offended at such a suggestion." 

He switched off the light and Rose giggled.

"Just what do you find funny?" he asked, switching it back on again.

Rose sat up. "You need to lighten up a bit Alec, I was just teasing you."

Right, two could play at that game. 

"How do I know it isn't you that snores and I get the blame?"

"I don't snore," she retorted back, sitting up in bed and hugging her knees. "Sorry."

Hardy smiled. "Let's have truce. How about we go somewhere tomorrow? Drive up the coast."

"Mmm, that would be great. It'll be good to forget about all this for a while. Thanks."

"You're welcome. From Monday, I'll come up and collect you for work and drive us back after you finish at the station."

"I can get a taxi now I don't have the B&B to pay for."

"No, I insist if I can, if not and I can't get away, I'll call you and then you can get a taxi. Do you have any questions you wanted to ask me?"

"Just one. How come DS Miller doesn't even know that I've moved?"

"Do you really have to ask that question?"

Rose thought about it. Maybe not. 

"Because she disagreed with you walking me home. Oh, she won't like it we're sharing a room? Guess that answers that then? Does she think it's inappropriate?"

"She'll read the wrong thing into it, not that there's anything to read into whatever she thinks. Besides, it's best only the four of us know. I told her if I can't pick you up I'll send a patrol car for you but she thinks you're still at the B&B. My chief doesn't exactly know we're sharing a room, I tried to get two singles but they were occupied."

"Oh, well at least you tried. I don't mind really, having a room-mate. Like I said, I hope you don't snore of I'll have to come over there and stop you. I heard a pillow does the trick."

"I hope you're only joking about that."

"Snore and find out. Either that or I'll have to think of another way."

"Goodnight Rose and if it's you that snores, I'll think of a way to stop you as well." 

He turned out the light and smiled to himself, half hoping she would, he could think of a few ways.

Rose was also smiling hoping he would and thought about how to make herself snore.

It was the first time she slept properly since this whole thing started but she found herself thinking back over the events. If she had just got closer before the person on the beach had turned away, this would have been over and he would have been caught. Just before Hardy's alarm went off though, she was woken by a sound and she sat up in bed, thinking she was back in her old room.

Hardy had just come out of the bathroom and inadvertently the door had closed a bit more loudly than he had intended, he was used to being on his own.

"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you just yet."

Rose lay back down again, she had caught sight of Hardy in his t-shirt and shorts. Hardy turned back round to get back into bed then changed his mind. He crossed over and sat on the edge of Rose's bed after he turned his alarm off.

"I didn't mean to scare you, you probably thought someone was trying to get in your room again, I'm sorry."

Rose sat up again. "Yeah, it did sort of bring back bad memories, you have no idea what it was like. I mean, did he really think I was going to open the door and let him in? How did he find out which was my room?"

She leaned forward and rested her head on her knees. 

"Alec, can I have a hug?"

Hardy moved forward and put his arms around her, Rose resting against his chest and Hardy with his chin resting on her head. Then he backed off as he found himself rubbing her back, feeling how close she was, he wanted to comfort her but he couldn't.

"That's what we're trying to find out Rose, he's getting information from somewhere, we just have to find out where from. You're safe now, he won't find you here, I promise."

Rose looked up at him and leaned forward and Hardy moved closer, putting his hand on top of hers. 

"I'm sorry this happened to you, you were only trying to help and you put yourself in danger, it's my job to protect you."

He took her hand and held it in his for a moment, then let it go. Rose took his hand back. The next thing she knew, he had moved closer with only the smallest of gaps between them as he had leaned forward. Then he kissed her and Rose kissed him back. Just as suddenly as it started, Hardy drew back.

"I'm sorry Rose, I shouldn't have done that."

"Why not, I wasn't exactly objecting." 

She took his hand again.

"Because my boss said I could compromise you, getting involved with you."

"It's a bit late for that Alec, you already have my statement, how can you compromise things?"

"By getting you to change your statement, saying you saw things you didn't"

"What makes you think I'd do that?"

"If I asked you to, would you change your statement?"

"No, I only saw what I told you. How would I say anything else? Do you think I would wrongly accuse someone because you ask me to, to get someone to admit to it?"

"No, I would not ask that of you, Rose. I couldn't." 

He raised his hand and touched her cheek.

Rose held onto his hand 

"Then how could you compromise my statement?"

"I never was one for taking orders."

He leaned over again and kissed her, longer and deeper than the last one and Rose leaned into him, moving onto her knees and putting her arms around his neck, Hardy putting his arms around her waist.

Chapter 8

Hardy pushed Rose back on the bed, landing himself on the top of her duvet as they continued their kiss. Then he stopped.

"We should not be doing this, not now. I'm supposed to be protecting you."

Rose smiled. "Couldn't think of a better way of doing it." 

She pulled him back down, her lips so close to his, stroking his beard.

"I thought your beard would be all rough but it isn't. I trust you to keep me safe Alec, I know you won't let anything happen to me. It wasn't your fault he tried to get into my room again on Friday night."

"You were threatened again, I should not have left you there. It's partly my fault. I should have insisted you moved out."

"That was my choice. I couldn't afford to go anywhere else."

"Well now you don't have to worry. I'll make sure he doesn't get to you again, you have my word. I'm sorry Rose."

Rose put her arms around his neck. 

"So is the not snoring contest still on tonight then?" she smiled.

"You can count on that and just to make sure it's not me who snores, I'll save you the bother of having to come over and keep me quiet. Move over."   

Rose budged up and moved onto her side as he got beneath the duvet. Even though it was warm during the day, it still got cold early morning. Hardy turned onto his side.

"Are you okay with this?"

"Mmm, can we just hug until breakfast?" 

She snuggled into his chest, still covered in his white t-shirt.

Before he could answer, she was falling asleep again, feeling safer than she had done for over a week.

Hardy woke her an hour later. He had been just holding her, feeling guilty that he shouldn't be letting himself get so close to the woman he was supposed to be protecting. Should he put a stop to this now, before they went too far? So far it had just been one real kiss but what a kiss. She had no right to trust him, he had let her down by not being more insistent she moved out.

Rose was stirring again, looking up at him and smiling. 


"Hello again. Why don't you go and get ready in the bathroom, then after breakfast, I'll drive us up the coast? It will give us a chance to talk. No-one will know us there."

Rose got out of bed and grabbed her clean clothes. While she was in there, Hardy got dressed and called the station to see if he was needed or there was any new information. He told the duty officer to only call him if there was an emergency.

"Sir, if Miss Tyler calls again, do you want to be informed?"

He couldn't come out and admit he was already with her. 

"She has my work number if she needs me. Did you get anything from her lodgings from Friday night?"

"No Sir, not from the lodgings but on a house to house on Saturday morning, a few people reported seeing a figure in black run away from the rear fire escape, a few dogs started barking and people looked out of their windows. Nothing else to report, no fingerprints on the window."

"Right, hopefully he'll have got tired of not being able to get into her room. Any news about the missing phone?"

"No Sir, it's not been switched on yet, we'll let you know right away when it is."

Hardy hung up and waited for Rose to emerge from the bathroom, he'd forgotten how long it took women to get ready. After breakfast, he drove them up to the next town, Lyme Regis and they walked across the harbour and sat down. Rose was just glad to get away from everything.

"Rose, you don't have to keep working. Everything is being paid for."

"Then what do I do all day if not? I can't sit in the hotel all the time. Anyway, if you come and pick me up, I'll be fine."

She took his hand. "We shouldn't get involved, should we?"

"It's not a good idea. I should not have kissed you."

"It wasn't just you, I wanted to kiss you back. It takes two."

Hardy smiled. He was not going to be able to stick this out if he wasn't careful. Did he want to?

"You need to understand Rose. There are all kinds of reasons why we should not get involved. People get the wrong idea, they will think I'm using you to get this case solved, that I'm getting you to say things that are not true."

"But you're not. I've already given you my statement, I can't change it now. I can't just suddenly say I saw a face and not be able to identify someone in a line-up. You wouldn't ask me to anyway, would you?"

"No. Rose, I just need more proof, I have a fairly good idea who it is but I need concrete evidence. Believe me, he'll make more mistakes and I just hope now I'm keeping a closer eye on you, it won't be with you. Now you know why I wanted to keep you with me, it was the only way. I won't let him get close to you again."

He put his arm protectively around her and she moved nearer. 

"This is nice, being able to get away for a few hours."

"It will alright soon, you can go back to normal."

"I don't think the B&B will have me back."

"I'll help you."

They finished their walk and went in search of lunch then looked around the shops, driving back to Broadchurch after Rose had a good look around, actually having some money to spend although Hardy had bought them some ice-cream later in the afternoon. Rose wasn't wanting the day to end. They had walked back along the seafront to the carpark, Rose looping her arm in his, he seemed content to let her do so. He was not used to having a young blonde woman on his arm and was partially showing off.

He let Rose have some time to herself when they got back but she soon went back down to join him again after calling her mother. She still couldn't tell her she had got mixed up in the murder case. She did let slip that she liked someone who worked at the Police Station but she didn't mention he was a senior detective working on it.

"Rose, when are you coming home? How can you stay there with all that going on?"

"It's fine, I'd rather stay here, it will all be over soon. Besides, if I come back, Mickey will be begging me to take him back and I'm not going to. I've met someone here and I think he likes me, he works at the Police Station. I've moved on from Mickey, it's time for him to move on from me. I'm just not into going out to the pub while he watches football any more."

She realised that now, Alec Hardy was more mature, not just older but Mickey still thought she was nineteen, Alec treated her according to her age. She knew he was doing what he thought was right to protect her and she should have listened to him earlier. She went to join him downstairs and over dinner, they talked some more but it was when they got back to their room, things started to get awkward.

Rose went to get changed in the bathroom again but when she came back, Hardy was already in what had been her bed.

"Do you want to swap beds Alec?" she asked, arms crossed.

"No, do you? I thought we were having a no snoring contest? I was only saving myself having to come over and stop you."

"Did I snore last night?" she asked, crossing nearer to her bed.

"No but I'm not taking an chances. You didn't mind this morning."

"What happened to it's not a good idea Rose?" she smiled.

"If you can assure me it won't affect your statement, it's good enough for me. Besides, you still kept me awake last night, you were tossing and turning all the time."

"Was not, I don't toss and turn I'll have you know."

"Not much, I heard you. Besides, it was rather nice this morning, we could do more of that, you seemed to sleep better that hour than you did all night."

Rose had to admit it was nice, she had felt safe. 

"Budge up then."

Rose fell asleep in his arms again after they kissed for a while, Hardy still not entirely sure they should actually do anything else. That was to change the following morning when he tried to turn off his alarm and woke her.

"I have to go to work Rose, I need an early breakfast."

"Then I'll come down with you, mmm, just one kiss," she said, wrapping herself around him.

One kiss led to another, Hardy losing his t-shirt in the process and Rose her pyjama top. He was almost late for work, having to hurriedly get dressed and said he would either see her at breakfast and if not, for her to be waiting in the hotel doorway at ten thirty. Hardy was just leaving the table when she came in. He'd just had a phone call from Miller.

"Rose, I have to go, more evidence has just come in, I'll be back if I can, if not, get a taxi and I'll see you after work. I'll be back by then."

"Okay Detective."

He wasn't back for ten thirty so she got a taxi, wondering most of the day where he had been called to. DS Miller's husband didn't come in the café either, which surprised her but since the schools had broken up, she figured they had all gone out for the day. Once she was in the station, Hardy wasn't there and she really hoped he would be back. That morning had been nice, fooling around and laughing, he was a completely different person when he laughed. She hoped he'd do a lot more of it.

Just after six thirty, he came in, followed by Miller and they went into his office. They were arguing about something again and Miller came storming out.

"It's only dinner, why can't you just accept it?"

"Because I take Miss Tyler back to her lodgings then get dinner at the hotel."

"Fine, then bring her with you." 

She had forgotten Rose was there.

"I'm sorry Rose, I didn't mean it like that. Perhaps you have other plans and I'm not sure if I should be inviting the cleaning staff to dinner but you're welcome, if you want since your escort won't accept the invitation on his own."

Rose wasn't sure it was a good idea either but looked at Hardy. 

"Yes, fine, we'll come, tomorrow night. I'm sure Miss Tyler won't object to some home cooked food."

"Right, why do you have to make it so bloody difficult? Didn't mean you Rose, sorry."

Miller left, leaving just the two of them. 

"You don't mind do you Rose? She doesn't know anything, she was just trying to prove a point. I said I wouldn't go, that I had to see you home."

"No, it's fine. I'm sure she won't go spreading the word she invited the cleaner to dinner."

"I'm sure she didn't mean it like that."

"Want to bet?"

"I can tell her I changed my mind."

"No, wouldn't want to go upsetting her any more, would we?"

Hardy went back to his office, he had put his foot in it now. He got his jacket on and sat on the nearest desk, waiting for her to finish. When she had gathered everything, he said he would wait downstairs for her. Rose was annoyed, she shouldn't be contemplating having dinner with Alec, let alone with his DS, in her house.      

After their own dinner at the hotel, having a few drinks, they fooled around a bit more, Hardy leaving his t-shirt on because he thought Rose had rather enjoyed getting it off him and they fell asleep after Rose somehow managed to get it off him again without falling out of the single bed. Fooling around again the next morning, Hardy just making it to work on time and deciding he would just have to set his alarm a bit earlier, he went to pick her up at ten thirty, saying for her to bring a change of clothes to the station and get changed before they left.       

They arrived at The Miller house, being let in by Ellie, who had told Rose to call her that for the evening and Hardy saying again he didn't like the name 'Alec' which made Rose smile since she avoided calling him that much when they were alone. She noticed though that Ellie's husband did not seem thrilled by their presence, they were sat side by side and he didn't seem to join in much, picking at his food and Ellie saying he was the cook in the family.

He seemed even more nervous when left alone with Rose and Hardy, Rose making polite conversation about little Freddie, saying she had missed the toddler not coming into the café the last few days. Hardy was observing the one-sided conversation, even more suspicious than he had already been. Soon, very soon, it would all fit into place. All he had to do was keep Rose safe and now they were sharing a bed, just sharing, he'd told himself, he knew no harm would come to her.

After dessert, Hardy made their excuses, refusing another glass of wine since he was driving, the last thing he wanted was to get caught on the way back and have to spend the night in a cell in his own station. He'd only had half a glass, opting for water. Rose however had two almost full glasses and he thought he might be best letting her sleep in her own bed tonight.

Saying goodnight, Rose thanking them for inviting her, Hardy purposely said he had to get Rose back to her lodgings. He didn't want Miller to know any differently. Rose didn't contradict him, she knew not to say anything. Hardy was right, Rose wanted a bit more fun than usual, starting to get undressed in front of him.

"Rose, don't you want to get changed in the bathroom?"

"Why? You get my pyjama top off anyway, save you the trouble later on."

She threw her t-shirt over towards him, it landed on the floor and while he was bending to pick it up, her bra landed on him. When he looked up, she was just in her pink cotton knickers and had a smile on her face. She had let her black trousers fall to the floor and had stepped out of them and was walking towards him as he put her clothes on the chair.

"You're most considerate Rose," he said, closing the distance and starting to unbutton his shirt.

"Need some help?" she teased, removing his hand and pulling the shirt-tails out of his trousers. Then she ran her fingers over his chest, noticing for the first time the scar above his heart.

"What happened Alec?"

"Pacemaker, a few months ago. I'm fine now. No more questions."

Rose shrugged her shoulders, more time for fun then. She continued to take his shirt off and started unfastening his belt but it wasn't budging. He helped her and she easily pulled it out of the belt loops, then pulling the fastener apart, pulled down the zip.

"Rose, let's not let this get out of hand, let's just think about this. You had two glasses of wine, I don't want you thinking I'm taking advantage of you."

"Don't think anything of the sort, looks like I'm the one taking advantage of you from where I'm standing."

Hardy removed her hand where she had left it, on the zip of his trousers and wasn't sure what she had in mind but he couldn't let it go too far. He might get too involved that he couldn't think straight. There again, it might make things easier, she would do anything he asked of her to help him keep her safe but he didn't want to do anything for the wrong reasons.

He knew now he wasn't doing it for the wrong reasons. Rose did not want to move her hand and fought with him to put if back, winning in the end as she finally let go and put her arms around him, kissing him for all she was worth. Hardy could taste the wine on her lips and savoured it, knowing he would smell of it in the morning and knew he'd have to get a ride to work.

He allowed her to finish taking his trousers off and they fell onto the nearest bed after he picked her up, kissing and scrambling beneath the duvet, Hardy allowing Rose to get in first and both laying on their sides, Rose hooking her leg over his. Before either of then knew it, Rose was underneath him and they both lost the last of their clothing, Hardy being gentle at first but Rose had other ideas as she wanted him to do more as they made love.

Afterwards, Rose had managed to get on top of him and he held her with both arms, both trying to recover their breath and Rose was giggling.

"That was great Alec, although my head is spinning, probably from the wine but that wasn't the reason I wanted this with you."

"I'm glad to hear it. I think I breathed in most of the wine, I won't be able to drive to work in the morning now, I'll have to get picked up."

He smiled, kissing her forehead. 

"You don't regret this do you Rose?"

Rose looked up at him, reaching up to kiss him then snuggling back down. 

"No. I take it you don't even after you tried to convince me it was a bad idea. Maybe it was at first, we didn't exactly get on but I need you Alec, I need you to keep me safe."

"You are safe Rose, go to sleep, I'll take care of you now, there's no need to worry any more."

Rose went silent, he thought she was asleep but she started to get out of bed.

"Changed your mind?" he asked as she put her cotton knickers back on and grabbed his shirt and slipped it on her. "You look good in my shirt."

"Might just keep it then," she teased, disappearing into the bathroom.

Rose came back and got into bed again, laying on top of Hardy and they fell asleep until just gone midnight when Hardy's phone woke them up.

Chapter 9

Rose only heard one half of the hurried conversation Hardy was having as he tried to get dressed one-handed, Rose getting out of bed to get him a clean pair of shorts and some clean socks and Hardy smiling at her. He put the phone down and finished getting ready.

"I have to go Rose, whoever it was, they were just seen hanging around your old B&B, I'm getting picked up in five minutes and Miller's not answering her phone again. I know who it is Rose, you know who it is as well, don't you?"

"Yes, you made a point of saying you were taking me back there earlier. Can't you just bring him in for questioning?"

"No, I have to catch him in the act. He will have gone up the fire escape again, hoping the window was open. The landlord threatened the cleaner he'd finish her if she ever left it open again. I think he'll be gone now but I have to go, everyone thinks you're still there, if I don't show up, it will seem suspicious. I'll be back as soon as I can, I'll take the room keys, it's got the side door key on it as well."

"Be careful Alec." 

She kissed him goodbye and he left the room.

Hardy had a car waiting for him, he didn't want to go on his own, it added authenticity to his visit although he didn't knock on the door since the call had not come from Rose herself. He'd just said to inform him if anything took place there. As expected, no-one was around the back, then his phone rang, it was Miller.

"I don't want to hear it Miller, be in my office at nine in the morning. Fortunately, whoever it was didn't get in this time and Miss Tyler was not disturbed and I don't want you saying anything to her. She's been through enough."

All he got was a "Yes Sir" although Miller thought he was taking this too personally and hoped he wasn't stupid enough to get involved with a witness.

He went back to the hotel and got undressed in the dark, trying not to wake Rose but she heard him. 

"It's okay Alec, come back to bed with me."

He got in at the side of her when she moved over and she snuggled back up to him, never asking him any questions. She understood, better than his ex had and she'd also been in the police but had complained when he'd been called out. He knew Rose wouldn't, if he stayed with her but things would start to get even more awkward when the case ended, there would be the trial and she would have to testify, they would have to keep apart in court, never give a hint they were involved but he was falling in love with her and even that wasn't putting him off any more.

The next morning, Hardy was confident he almost had the killer and the person who had threatened who he now considered to be his Rose. He wouldn't be lenient with who he now was 99% certain was guilty. The phone being switched on would finally prove it – the phone belonging to the dead boy, the only piece of evidence he was waiting for.

He kissed Rose goodbye before going down to breakfast, they still were being careful in front of people and he came back for her later to take her to work. He even came into the café at lunchtime, to see if his suspect had shown up and Rose had warily served him tea and a sandwich, trying and failing not to make eye contact with him. She so wanted to tell people about him but knew she couldn't, not yet. She knew he'd not just come in to see her though and someone was absent again.

Rose should have seen it, she should have realised when Hardy had told her certain things and she realised she should have told him some things as well and she was going to when she got to the station, things that didn't seem relevant at the time because they had come from someone else. She got to the station but Miller was sat at her desk. Rose suspected Hardy was purposely keeping her there. She could hardly look at Miller but it wasn't her fault and she knew Hardy would have given her a real roasting about her phone being off again, he'd told her before he had left that she wasn't answering her phone.

It got to half six and Miller was still working, Hardy suddenly came out of his office. For his plan to work, he had to get her to leave.

"Miller, might as well get off now, I'll be leaving as soon as Miss Tyler has finished anyway. Make sure you double check your phones again, don't let your kids anywhere near them."

Miller was fairly certain they hadn't anyway. 

"Yes Sir." 

She got her things and said goodnight to Rose.

Rose tried not to show anything was wrong but she couldn't look at the woman the same but managed a "Goodnight Ma'am"

After Miller left, Rose went into Hardy's office and sat down, she no longer went for the formalities.

"Alec, I forgot to tell you something, that DS Miller told me a while back, after her return from holiday. I didn't think anything of it. Was any money found at that boy's house by any chance?"

Hardy got up and sat on the leather sofa next to her. He never discussed the case with her.

"How could you know that?"

"Because DS Miller told me when she came back, they would have enjoyed their holiday a lot more if her husband had not miscalculated how much spending money they had."

Hardy looked at her. 

"Why didn't you say something before Rose?"

"Because I thought nothing of it, I'm sorry, I should have said something."

"No, it's okay, don't worry about it, you weren't to know, it was told to you by someone else."

He took her hand and squeezed it. Anyone could walk into the outer office so he kept it to a minimum and got up.

Rose also got up. "Better get back to work then. Oh, another thing. I was thinking back, to when I got dragged into those bushes, there was that smell. Whoever you think it is and I know you can't say his name yet, had he been to the dentist?"

"Yes, that's why Miller was late."

"It could have been the smell of that antiseptic mouth rinse dentists use and he might not have been wearing a scarf that muffled his voice, it might have been his mouth that was sore after treatment."

"Have you ever thought about being a detective Rose?"

Rose laughed, in her dreams. She went back to work and Hardy came out wearing his jacket and sat on a desk waiting for her.

"Anything else you can think of that you missed?"

"He's not been in the café for a good while and the last time he was in, he pulled his young son away from me for no reason. That's how he got my information, isn't it?"

Hardy just nodded. He was sat at Miller's desk and noticed her notebook wasn't around, she must keep it with her. It would have Rose's details in it, it had been handed out on a plate, why had he not seen it sooner and acted on it?

"I'm ready to go Alec," Rose said, rousing him from his thoughts.

They walked out and as usual he said he would wait downstairs. After all, what could happen in a Police Station? Hardy just stepped out of the lift downstairs when he saw the door to the stairs closing, thinking it was an officer or one of the other cleaners and went to sit on one of the chairs to wait for Rose. Seven minutes later, he noticed the lift was still on the second floor. Rose was always down in five or six minutes. He got up and opened the stairs door but he couldn't hear her coming down. He was worried. He shot up the stairs to the second floor and there was no sign of her until he rounded the corner to the cleaners room and Rose was lying on the floor by the open door as he shouted her name.

"Rose, come on, talk to me." 

He checked her pulse, she was only unconscious thankfully.

He got his mobile out. 

"This is Hardy. Get an ambulance to the second floor cleaners room now and don't let anyone out of the building. Tell them to bring a stretcher, someone's unconscious up here."

"Who is it Sir?"

"Rose Tyler, the cleaner, tell them she has a head wound and be quick."

He knew not to move her in case of serious injury and checked her pulse again. She had a very nasty gash on her forehead and her left eye was beginning to swell. He took her hand and held it. 

"Please Rose, please wake up. I love you."

While he waited, he called the desk again. 

"Did you lock the doors, did anyone get out?"

"Sir, DS Miller's husband left a minute before your order could be carried out."

"Well, what was he doing here?"

"He said she had left something on her desk."

He was going to chew the desk sergeant out when he knew Rose was safe, now was not the time. His plan had backfired and his Rose had been hurt.

A few minutes later, an ambulance crew came from the lift and he stepped aside and picked up her things as they put her onto a stretcher and the lift opened. One of the crew asked her name and Hardy told them.

"She's Rose Tyler, one of the cleaners. I came up and she was just lying there. She's a witness in an investigation, I was supposed to be seeing she got home safely every night. I always waited downstairs for her but she didn't come down."

Hardy was furious with himself, the other man must have gone down in the lift as he'd come up the stairs or must have heard him, the stairs door was open, he would have heard footsteps on the stairs and fled in the lift, that was why it was still on this floor, he must have called it after he himself got out. Why hadn't he noticed, why hadn't he waited upstairs with her? He knew he should call Miller, it was still all circumstantial and he knew it, all speculation but Rose knew.

The attacker must have sensed last night that Rose was so uneasy at being there. He should never have taken her. Then when the window to her old lodgings was locked, this had been his last resort to get to her. He had let Miller have enough time to get home for the attacker to sneak out of the house and get somewhere they were supposed to walk home and go for both of them but he had never anticipated this, that he would be brazen enough to walk into the station and attack her, he had intended for him to have enough time to get to the B&B and he was going to suggest they wait around and see if the attacker showed up if nothing happened on the way back. He couldn't have known they were taking a car now or maybe he did.

Riding in the ambulance with her, not daring to even hold her hand, when they arrived at the hospital, she was still unconscious. They got her into the emergency room and Hardy was asked her name again, saying he didn't know her personal details, he was the detective that had found her. They stitched the gash on her forehead and put something on her eye to reduce the swelling, Hardy thinking she still looked gorgeous.

Rose was moved to a side room until they could take her onto the ward and he pulled the curtain closed, taking her hand. 

"Please wake up Rose."

A short time later, he heard her moan. 

"My head, ouch. Where am I? Alec?"

"I'm here Rose, it's okay, you're in hospital, I found you. Do you remember what happened?"

"I remember opening the door to the cleaners room and it was flung in my face."

"Rose, I'm so sorry, I should not have just left you up there."

He touched her cheek, rubbing it softly with his thumb. 

"From the inside or outside?"

"I was just coming out, I heard a noise and I thought it was you or one of the other cleaners. The next thing I knew, the door hit me, the security lock must have hit me and I was falling to the ground."

Just then, a nurse came in with a clipboard. 

"Miss Tyler? You had concussion. We need some more details."

After some difficulty, she answered her name and date of birth, Hardy surprised to learn she was only twenty six and she gave The Traders hotel as her address, asking if they wanted her home address as well. Then she gave that and her next of kin, Jackie Tyler. Rose was taken onto the ward asking for some painkillers, it was now after nine and the ward sister was not happy that Hardy had gone with her, after he flashed his ID and said he had some questions for her about the attack. He was told to be as quick as he could. That's what she thought.

After pulling the curtain around, he leaned down to kiss her. 

"I bet I look a right mess," Rose complained. "Did you bring my purse?"

Hardy produced it from the bedside locker, the nurse had handed it to him on the way to the ward. 

"Don't go looking in the mirror Rose," he smiled, taking her hand. Then he got closer and whispered, "You're still beautiful."

If Rose's face was not already red, it was now. 

"Aw, you're just trying to make me feel better."

"Remember while you're in here, call me Detective."

"Yes Sir."

"I was worried when you were a minute late down and it was a good thing that I was, you were lying on the floor with a nasty gash. If the security lock hit your eye, how did your forehead get cut? Unless that caught you and he hit you? As soon as I found you I ordered a lockdown but he'd just left."

"You mean who we think is responsible?"

"Yes, he fell for it but I missed him, he got out but it was him, definitely. I had intended to lay a trap for him. I didn't think he would go to the station. I'm sorry Rose, I let you down."

Rose caught is hand. 

"No you didn't, it wasn't your fault."

"He tried last night but he obviously couldn't get in the building so he went to the Police Station on some pretence. He must have gone up the stairs as I went down in the lift, Miller must have told him I would have left by the time he got there but she knew I waited for you. He just got lucky."

A nurse asked if it was okay to come in and Hardy drew the curtain back. Rose was given some painkillers for her headache and Hardy was asked to leave so she could get some rest. He said he would leave when he was ready or when she was tired.

"Alec, please, you can leave now, go back to the hotel, I'm sure they'll let me out in the morning."

"I'm going to call Miller and tell her. That way she'll repeat what I say and he'll know it didn't work. The other cleaners would have found you an hour later but you would have been unconscious all that time, who knows what damage could have been done?"

"Don't think about it, I'll be fine. I may have to go a bit heavy on the make-up for a while though," she smiled.

Hardy took her hand. "I'll be back in the morning to see if they'll discharge you, then I'll take you back to the hotel and you stay there, I'll tell the café and your supervisor at the station you won't be in tomorrow. Try and get some sleep."

He leaned over to kiss her again but she leaned into him and he held onto her, holding her close as she leaned her head on his chest. She resisted saying out loud she preferred him without his shirt on.

Hardy went back to the station to pick his car up and drove back to the hotel where he didn't feel like answering any questions as to why Rose wasn't with him. He went to their room, opting to sleep in the bed he had been sharing with Rose. She was beautiful and far too young for him now he knew how old she actually was. Rose must have known he was older than her but she didn't seem to mind but when this was over, they needed to talk. He called Miller and told her what had happened and that Rose was in hospital with concussion, telling her Rose had been attacked. If that didn't rouse her suspicions nothing would. Couldn't Miller see it? She was too blind and she was accusing him of being too familiar with Rose.

Hardy was out early the next morning, he was at the hospital by eight, asking if Rose was being discharged. He had to wait but finally, the doctor said she could leave after saying she should stay off work for a few days. Hardy said he guaranteed she would. He had some room to talk, he had never rested when he'd been told.

He took her back to the hotel and said for her to take her lunch there and not to go out, unless he called her and they needed to talk when he got back later. Becca Fisher had looked horrified when she saw the state of Rose and began fussing around her, telling Hardy she would make sure Rose didn't leave and for her to come downstairs and talk to her if she got bored in her room. Rose ended up going down just after eleven and joined Becca having some coffee, Becca doing a bit of fishing to see if Rose and Hardy were involved but Rose gave nothing away.

After lunch, Rose having to pay for it since it wasn't included, Hardy phoned her. He had been busy all morning, grilling the desk sergeant about what time their unwanted visitor had arrived and he had indeed just gone upstairs as Hardy had got out of the lift. He wasn't going to let Miller in on it just yet and had sent her out.

Then he had his breakthrough. He was down on the beach, meeting up with Miller when he got a call, the missing mobile had been switched on. He rushed back to the station to a waiting car and followed the tracking device on his work mobile which led him exactly where he expected. He sent the driver to the other side of the field across from where the signal was coming from, walking the rest of the way, telling the driver to carry on slowly to the Miller house. He didn't want to spook anyone. He came to the house and walked in the front door, which had been left open. He saw Miller's eldest son watching TV with his younger brother but no-one else was in the house.

He followed the signal to the outhouse and opened the door. There stood Joe Miller with the missing phone in his hand. Once back at the station, he broke up an interview Miller was conducting and took her to one side to break the news to her. Then he called Rose and asked her to get a taxi to the Police Station.

Once in his office, after DS Miller had left, he told Rose and asked her if she would go with him to tell the family, he wanted them to meet her. Once at the Latimer house, he introduced her.

"This is Miss Rose Tyler, she witnessed the events on the beach that night and this is what she got for her troubles. She was threatened in person and by phone then she was attacked last night. We have the person responsible in custody and he's been charged with murder, threatening behaviour and assault, to which he's admitted all three. I won't go into details now but we'll keep you up to date. You can make arrangements to bury your son now."

Mrs Latimer got up and crossed to where Rose was sitting. 

"I'm sorry for what happened to you Miss Tyler. Thank you for what you did. Detective, who was it? Who killed our son?"

Everyone gasped when told. Hardy took Rose back to the station where she was asked formerly if she wanted to press charges. She did, there was no way she had gone through all that for nothing. Finally, after Hardy held a press conference, he went back to the hotel just as Rose was leaving the dining room so she stayed until he'd finished eating.

"So what happens now?" Rose asked once they were alone in the hotel sitting room with their drinks.

"Well, you'll have to testify at the trial and you'll have to give evidence about what happened to you but don't worry, I'll be there. I'll be able to take you there and back but we won't be able to sit together. I want to take care of you Rose, I want to you stop working two jobs and let me look after you. I'll find us a place to live, not here, up the coast, if you want."

Rose sat closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder. Finally, someone who wanted to take care of her, not the other way around.

They had just got to their room when a knock came on the door. Hardy went to answer it, it was DS Miller. He let her in and she was a little surprised to see Rose but not too much. Then she saw Rose's face.

"Rose I'm so sorry for what you've been through but you have to understand I had no idea. I should have seen it, you being threatened and him being out, then my phones being on silent."

Rose went up to her and put her hand on Miller's shoulder. 

"How could you know? Are your boys alright?"

Miller nodded. Then she spoke to Hardy. 

"I let you down Sir what can I say? I was there telling you keeping the witness safe should have been my job when it was me who was leading him right to her. He must have taken my notebook when I was asleep."

Miller finally left and Rose just wanted to go to bed, her head was still aching. She was going into the bathroom to get changed when Hardy stopped her.

"Nothing has changed Rose, I almost lost you last night. When you were lying on the floor in the station, I just wanted you to wake up. You never heard what I said. I love you Rose."

Rose put her arms around him and they kissed. 

"I love you too Alec."

Then Hardy helped her undress and she helped him, sort of. He wouldn't let her sit in front of the mirror, he told her she didn't need to. He lifted her over to one of the beds and laid her down, climbing on top of her and then made her call his name, the name he had always hated until he heard Rose saying it as they made love again.

Afterwards, trying not to fall out of bed, Hardy lay on his back with Rose on top of him, trying to avoid her sore eye and the plastic stitches on her forehead.

"I love you Alec," she whispered as she settled down on him.

The last thing she heard after "I love you too Rose," was Hardy saying he was going to get his old room back.


Six weeks later, Rose and Hardy had found a nice cottage to rent in Charmouth and Rose had left the café while she had been in court in Exeter and got a part-time job in a Tea Shop in the village. Rose had to do most of the moving from the hotel once they found something they liked, it was only a holiday cottage but Hardy had negotiated with the agency and got it for the rest of the summer while they looked for something permanent and he was arranging to have his furniture sent down from Scotland to a local storage depot in Dorchester.

Rose had to tell her mother now so the following weekend, Hardy drove them up to London since Rose's injuries were healing nicely and a bit of make-up covered most of what was left and she got away with it. Her mother was impressed Rose had bagged herself such a handsome detective but swore blind he looked familiar from somewhere even though she had already seen him on the news.

Rose was handed a compensation form to sign, for loss of earnings and for physical damages which she didn't want but Hardy insisted she take it. She had been a witness and endured her injuries as such so she was entitled to it so when the money came through, she invited her mother down to stay and sprung it on her that Alec Hardy was now her fiancé.

The End!