Getting justice

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Rose Tyler is a reporter with a large London newspaper and is sent to cover a story of two girls that have been murdered in a place called Sandbrook. The case fell apart because of one man – Alec Hardy.  Going back to London, Rose never gives up on the families of the girls and is determined to make sure they get justice. Then she is sent to cover another murder – in Broadchurch.

Rose Tyler, (who never met The Doctor) was a reporter with a large London newspaper, who goes to cover a story of two girls, 1 murdered, 1 missing in Sandbrook.  The case fell apart because of Alec Hardy.  Going back to London, Rose never gives up on the families of the girls and is determined to make sure they get justice.  Then she is sent to cover another murder – in Broadchurch.
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Chapter 1  

A/N: Rose has never met The Doctor and is just an ordinary woman who has worked her way up in a big city newspaper.  James Noble is based on the duplicate Doctor

Rose Tyler, reporter, was never one to give up.  She had watched two families fall apart in a courtroom in a town called Sandbrook because one miserable detective inspector lost a vital piece of evidence and she was going to make sure he never forgot it.  She had stayed in the town after it all fell apart and finally said goodbye to the mother of the youngest victim, whom she had become good friends with but her editor wanted her back - pronto.

She had settled back down to life, writing press releases and supposed it was some sort of punishment for failing to get the story she had thought was going to make her a big name but when that reckless detective had screwed things up, she had promised him she wouldn't forget and the next time she heard his name, he'd know about it.

She had her phone constantly on a social networking site, looking for his name because if he screwed up again, she would be there but she didn't need the news-feed to tell her something was going on, she saw it for herself on the afternoon news as the name 'Detective Inspector Alec Hardy' flashed up on screen.

Rose was straight in to her editor, begging to be sent down to cover the story.

"When are you going to stop pursuing the man Rose?" she was asked.

"Are you kidding?  You know what he did.  I can drive down there first thing and get the low-down, there won't be that many reporters there yet, we could get a good story out of this.  I can interview the parents, see how they're coping and warn them about Hardy."

"He might make a complaint against you Rose, you barely got away with it the last time and you know it."

Rose remembered.  "Aw, that was nothing, I think he just fancied me."

"Yeah, of course he did," Donna laughed.  "You and your blonde hair distracted him and made him lose the evidence.  Are you sure it wasn't you he was meeting when his car was broken into?"

Rose blushed.   She could have fancied the bloke if he hadn't been so obnoxious towards her.  She would have gladly had a fling with him, his marriage was on the rocks, that had been clear, there had been nothing to stop her.  He, on the other hand, had felt entirely different about it, telling her in no uncertain terms to get the hell out of his face and if he saw her again, it would be too soon.

Rose took that as a sign he didn't want to take her to bed and shag her senseless.

"Miss Noble, I have no idea what you're talking about," Rose grinned, knowing what the redhead meant.

Donna laughed.  "Get out of here Tyler, pack your bag and book a cheap and nasty hotel preferably as cheap as possible and get me a story.  No big story by the end of next week and you're back here, get it?"

Rose did a mock salute.  "Yes Ma'am."

Then Donna wondered why her gramps used to call her 'The little general'.

So Rose made her way back to the flat she still shared with her mother to pack for a week in Broadchurch.  She'd never heard of the place until it came up on the news. How on earth had Hardy managed to con someone into taking him on after what he did?  Some unsuspecting chief had been ordered to let him in, she could bet on that, no-one would have taken him voluntarily, that was for sure.

Rose got home and started to pack, her mother watching from the doorway.

"Can't you let it rest Rose?"

"Don't know what you mean Mum."

"That Alec Hardy, he was on the news again, you're letting him get to you all over again.  I thought that had all died down."

"Never Mum, not while Lisa is still missing and Pippa's family don't know who did it.  Hardy should have been kicked out, everyone knows it.  I'm going to make sure he doesn't do it again.  He slips up, just once and I'll be there."

"Are you sure it's not just because you fancy him?" Jackie laughed.

"Not you as well?  I had enough of that from Donna, thanks very much.  No, he had his chance, he told me to get out of town, so I did.  No reason to think he'll have changed his mind and I've not changed mine, by bringing him down if I have to. Donna's given me a week to get a story, hope it doesn't take him as long as it did on his last case or I'll be stuck in a dead-end seaside town."

"Maybe I should come with you then?  You're getting your room paid for."

"If only Mum but you know the paper's policy, I wish you could come, that jerk will be rattling my chain and I could do with the moral support but Donna won't go for it.  She reckons that having someone with you distracts you from your job and I can see her point, especially if you take a girlfriend or boyfriend with you."

After Rose had left, Donna picked up her desk phone and called her hapless brother and deputy editor, James, who she knew had a crush on the blonde who had just left her office and who now she thought about it, did look a little like the detective in question though she thought Rose had hardly noticed, since she went out of her way to ignore James, making him even more nervous.  Donna just wished he would get his act together, there were plenty of girls who would jump at the chance to go out with him.

There was Martha, the dark skinned copy writer, there was Sophia from accounts who always tripped up when she saw him, his lanky frame and his hair sticking up all over the place and last but not least, Christina, the dark haired daughter of the owner, who graced them with her presence whenever she had dumped her latest filthy rich boyfriend and tried to prey on poor James again, leaving him a bit overwhelmed that he would bump into things, last time the photocopier and had bashed his toe against it, hopping all over the place that even Rose had laughed.

That had made him even worse, Rose witnessing his unwitting encounter with a machine.  He had gone off to his office and tried to forget about it.  Unfortunately for him, if Rose sat in the right position, he could just about see her.  He pined over her and when she was away on assignment, he would just pretend she had gone for coffee or something – for a week or so.  The last time she had been away, in Sandbrook, he had been downright miserable even his gramps hadn't been able to cheer him up.

James Noble, 38 yrs old, two failed long term relationships under his belt and no current girlfriend, he was waiting for Rose Tyler, in fact he was saving himself for Rose Tyler.  Not that Rose Tyler even knew he existed, except for stubbing his toe on the photo copier the last time that Lady Christina had graced the office and tried to get him in the janitor's closet, a narrow escape he'd had from that encounter when she had underestimated the time the janitor would be starting work.  That had been his lucky day and hopefully, she would have found another victim.

Donna pressed her brother's office number.  He answered.

"Hey Dumbo, get in here, I'm going to do you a huge favour and send you on an assignment – with Rose Tyler."

James dropped his phone.  Was Donna winding him up again?  She knew he worshipped Rose Tyler, the very ground she walked upon.  He managed to answer.

"Be right in Sis, this had better not be one of your jokes, I'm not going to fall for it."

"Just get in here or she'll be halfway to Broadchurch."

"Where the hell is Broadchurch?  Never heard of it."

"Well get in my office and I'll tell you spaceman."

"Be right there."  He hung up and made a point of going by Rose's desk, to see her rummaging through her desk drawers.

"Hiya Rose, how's it going?"

She didn't answer.  He didn't expect her to.  Rose went off home while James was talking to Donna.  Donna gave him all the details and got her secretary, Astrid, to book two single rooms at the cheapest hotel in Broadchurch and filled her clueless brother in.

"Go pick Rose up in the morning and drive down together to save fuel.   I'll call her now and break the good news to her."

"But Donna it's over 100 miles away, I won't survive.  Can't I go down on my own?"

"No, don't be such a girl and get over it.  You're just two reporters getting a story about a boy who's been murdered, nothing else."

"But why me?  Can't Rose go on her own?"

Donna laughed. "Are you kidding?  The last time she met Alec Hardy, sparks flew, I'm surprised they didn't kill each other or shag each other.  They share a mutual hatred of each other and I don't trust her to go alone.  You're her boss, you keep her in line."

James thought that was easy for her to say.  He could barely put a sentence together when Rose Tyler was around, let alone spend a week in a seaside town, in the same hotel plus the fact the weekend was almost upon them and there wouldn't be much going on.  He supposed Donna wanted them to get the background story before the whole thing blew up next week.  Still, a nice week by the sea, staring at Rose over breakfast and dinner wouldn't be too bad.  It could be a lot worse, Donna could be sending Christina, the predator with him.

Donna called Rose, who was busy packing after her mother pleaded with her not to go getting messed up with the detective again.  Jackie Tyler knew the state Rose had been in when she had got back from Sandbrook.  Rose had kicked everything in sight, infuriated with the man and Jackie half suspected it was because she was hopelessly in love with him but she wouldn't admit it.  Rose had ranted and raved for weeks about him and had just finally stopped being so angry with him but no, the man had to get himself in the middle of another child's murder and Rose was on a vendetta against him – again.

Jackie knew it was going to end in tears, Hardy didn't seem the type of bloke who would be tamed by a young blonde female.  Jackie had read he'd got divorced, she kept an eye on him, to save Rose getting upset, though he did look a bit of alright and too old for her daughter but too young for herself and she wouldn't go after a bloke Rose fancied, whether she would admit it or not.

Jackie just wished Rose would settle down and go out with Mickey, the boy she grew up with but nothing had ever come of that, Rose treated him like a big brother, there was nothing romantic about it, much to Mickey's and hers dismay.  Looking at the TV and the detective, Jackie noticed he'd grown a scruffy beard and hoped it would put Rose off for good.  She knew there was the deputy editor, James Noble, who fancied Rose something rotten.

She had seen him at last year's Christmas party, sat in the corner nursing the same drink all night, dying to ask Rose to dance with him but she had stuck with her friends all night, that Martha and the stuck-up Sophia, who had eyed poor James all night that he'd crept out at some point and Rose hadn't even noticed he'd been there, let alone that he'd left.  Funny though, Jackie thought, he could be the twin of this Alec Hardy though not so much now he had a beard she supposed.

Rose answered her phone, trying to ignore the name 'Donna' on the display but since she was the boss, she wouldn't just ring off.

"Hiya Donna, sorry, my phone got buried under a pile of clothes.  Did you want something?"

Donna knew that was a feeble excuse if ever she had heard one and she had heard them all – mostly from Rose herself especially when she had pulled the plug on Sandbrook and forced Rose to stop her obsession with the gruff detective by bringing her back down to earth.

"Yeah, whatever Rose.  I've got some good news and some bad news for you, which first?"

"Can you just get on with it, please?"

"The good news is I'm sending someone with you so you don't have to take your car, they're driving.  The bad news is - it's James."

"What?  What have I done to deserve that Donna?  Don't you trust me?"

"In a word – no, not when it comes to Alec Hardy.  I know what he did to you last time and I'm afraid you'll both go too far on this one.  You're still angry with him over that case and he's probably still angry with you for stitching him up over it and will probably arrest you for harassment or interfering with an investigation, probably both.  Either that or he'll shag the life out of you or you will him, one or the other.  Face it Rose, you're obsessed with the bloke."

"Am not, that's completely untrue, I am not and never have been obsessed with Alec Hardy."

Jackie raised her eyebrows and left the room.  Who was Rose trying to fool?

"Anyway," Donna continued.  "James will pick you up in the morning, just after nine so be ready.  Astrid had got you two rooms at The Trader's Hotel, got a good rate so you've got a double room each.  Seems the hotel owner was grateful for the custom since she had some cancellations.  You never know, Hardy might be staying there, you can have adjoining rooms and sneak in and out without anyone seeing," Donna sniggered.

"Stop it Donna, like that's ever gonna happen.  So you're sending your lovesick brother to look after me?  Just what I need.  We barely talk, you know that?"

"Maybe on your part, he never shuts up about you.  Have you even given him a try?   No, you've been so fixated on Hardy that you haven't seen the way James acts around you.  All the two years he's been here, he's turned woman after woman down, wanting you to notice him and he's drawn the attention of every female here but he's only got eyes for you.  You could make an effort while you're away, at least be friends with him.  You do know he looks a bit like Hardy?"

Rose went quiet.  "Can't say I've noticed who either of them look like, well maybe except that scrumptious actor that I like, a bit I suppose.  Are you playing matchmaker on me Donna Noble?"

"Me?  What gave you that Idea?  Just get on with it and give the poor bloke a break will you?"

Rose had to concede.  "Yes boss!"

"Don't be cheeky or I'll personally call Hardy and tell him you fancy him and want to snog him to death."

"You wouldn't dare!"

"Either that or I'll tell James the reason why you avoid him is because you're madly in love with him," Donna giggled.

"Ok, stop it Donna.   See you in a week then, when do we come back?"

"Next Saturday or before, depends on what you two get.  James will get all the background information, you get the family's and Hardy's stories plus any witnesses and don't tread on anyone's toes."

"Do I ever do that Donna?"

"No, only Alec Hardy's," came the reply.  "He won't know what hit him."


Alec Hardy was sat in his office after giving the media the details of the gruesome find on the beach that morning.  It had been bad enough that the DS he had supposedly stolen the job from had chosen to bring up the subject at the murder scene, then the mother of the boy had got past the police tape and had to be dragged away.  Then he'd had to break it to them officially and Miller, well, she had been too 'nice' with the family for his liking and it turned out they were best friends.

Still, he supposed, it was no worse than working with his then wife on the Sandbrook case and now he was well rid of Tess though he'd had to sacrifice his relationship, such as it had been with his daughter.  He knew he'd done the right thing to protect her by taking the blame for the case falling apart but he didn't think he deserved to be sent to this one horse seaside town and have a week of chasing petty criminals then be thrown head-first into a murder, especially when it was probably the town's first and the personnel were nowhere near equipped to deal with this.

He didn't think that if Miller had got this job, she would have either the experience or the stomach to solve the murder and they would have had to draught a senior experienced officer in anyway and he would have probably landed the job so it was a good thing he was already here but the circumstances were too close to home, another murdered child.  His only consolation was this time, another teenager was not missing.  He swore if he got through this, he would finish the other case, get it re-opened, with or without going through official channels.

He thought about Sandbrook, the complicated relationships between the families and the neighbours, the wife of the main suspect changing her testimony suddenly and pleading for his help but he'd had to refuse, he was already disgraced, he couldn't get caught up in that and in the end, she had disappeared.  He just hoped the Latimers were not going to turn out the same.  It was punishment, for screwing up big time and all he needed now was for Rose Tyler to get wind of what was going on and fly down on her broomstick and come and taunt him with her incessant questioning and her 'I said you were a failure' speech.

He knew it was going to be inevitable she would show up, unless her boss prevented her, after last time.  She probably ended up polishing press releases after she failed to return after she was supposed to.  The murdered girl's mother had said that the reporter had stayed around afterwards and had promised her she would get justice, one way or another.  He just hoped it wasn't going to be at his expense.

If Rose Tyler showed up here, she would find out his health situation and it would be all over.

The reporter was relentless and he half blamed his condition on her and half on his ex wife but if the truth was to be told, taking a dip in that icy cold river was mostly responsible, the two women were just scapegoats.  Only time would tell if the female vulture would show up and go after him again.  If she did, he would be ready for her and this time, he wouldn't let the case collapse and he wouldn't let Rose Tyler get the better of him, he couldn't afford to.

This case was going to make him or break him.  If he failed again, he would be out permanently and he might as well give up and go get that operation, get invalided out of the force because Police work was his life and be branded the cop that let two killers get away because of it.  He might be able to worm his way back in somehow but not on active duty, they would bury him so deep, teaching cadets or something equally boring that it would send students and himself to sleep.

No, he was not letting this one get away and he was not going to let Rose Tyler get to him.   If they had met under different circumstances, he would have taken her to bed, when he was able, and shagged the life out her but she was public enemy number one in his books and he wasn't going to forget that easily what she had done to him.  Well maybe not.
 Chapter 2
Rose was ready the following morning, well as ready as she ever would be for a long journey with the hapless James Noble and she wasn’t looking forward to either ignoring him or have him trying to get her to talk about if she liked him or not.

James was nervous as he pulled up behind the block of flats where Rose lived, not his choice of address, he daren’t even leave his car so he got his mobile out and told her where he had parked.   He supposed all the locals knew each other’s cars and left them alone but he wasn’t going to risk it.

Seeing Rose walking towards him with a large suitcase, a large holdall and a laptop bag disguised as a flight bag with a Police Box design, something James thought seemed a bit odd, he got out of the car to help her.

“Hi Rose, here, let me help you.”  He opened the back door of the car and lifted her case up.

“I planned on making two stops if that’s ok with you, it’s a long way.  So, this should be good then, a week by the sea at the paper’s expense, brilliant!  Not that we’ll get much chance to go in the water or sunbathe, well maybe except on Sunday, we can sneak a day off on Sunday, can’t we?” he asked hopefully.

“Well you’re the boss, you tell me.”

The smiled disappeared from his face.   How was he going to survive this?   What had his sister been thinking, sending him for a week with Rose Tyler?   Donna knew what the blonde did to him and at this rate, he would be a nervous wreck before they even got there.

“Yes well, don’t want you to think I’m a slave driver do I then?  Sunday off, definitely, do what you like fun day.  Hope you packed your swimsuit.  Not that you’d want to go on the beach with me, at the same time, I mean you could if you wanted, I wouldn’t mind but well, I think I’d best shut up now.”

Rose thought he had made a wise choice.   This was going to be unbearable but it wasn’t as though she had a choice, Donna was playing matchmaker despite her protests and she didn’t trust her to handle Alec Hardy on her own.  She was sure she could handle the detective this time, a little bit of her anger with him had subsided, just as long as he didn’t screw this one up as well but if he did – well she wasn’t going to be responsible for her actions.

Poor James looked a bit rejected and just started the car and drove off.  Well at least she hadn’t said no altogether so he could still live in hope that she might lay down next to him on the beach and let him put sunscreen on her shoulders and her back and maybe a few other places if no-one was looking.  He gave himself a mental slap at the thought.  First he was going to have to get her to actually talk to him.

Finally, they found the hotel and James found a parking spot just opposite the hotel, funnily enough outside the local newspaper office.   They left everything apart from their valuables and walked across the road and James strode up to the desk.  The woman behind it did a double take, looking at him.

“Right, yes, you have a booking for us, two rooms, James Noble and Rose Tyler?”

Becca Fisher checked the bookings screen and nodded, reaching for two keys. “Second floor, rooms 203 and 204, opposite each other. Dinner is 6-7 and breakfast 8-9.  Just a word of warning.  I know you two are reporters and the detective in charge of the murder is staying here so please, he’s already a grumpy arse so don’t upset him, for your sakes as well as his.  I’m going to have to appease him somehow but I’ve had a lot of cancellations and I need to fill the rooms.  You do understand, don’t you?”

James gave her his best smile.   He couldn’t think why it never worked on Rose when it sent other women into flirting with him.

“Right, yes, we take note.  Keep out of the detective’s way – got it, haven’t we Rose?”

Rose just rolled her eyes.  Becca was already singling James out as a potential replacement for a certain town’s plumber she’d had a fling with the other night when his son had been killed, something she was not proud of and there was going to be no repeat.  As far as she knew, she could already be a suspect and so could her choice of partner for that night.  If word got out, she would be in a mess, they would have to alibi each other and things could get very sticky, especially with his wife.

Rose hoped he would take up with the flirty Australian hotel manager, it would keep him from flirting with her.  Rose went to her room after they got their luggage and James found the car park and said reluctantly she would share a table with James at dinner, just to go over their plan of attack.  James was going to do background on the town and the Latimers, Rose was going to see who the main suspects could be.  It was only a small town, how many could there possibly be?

Meanwhile, Alec Hardy had been having a hell of a day, keeping the Latimer family updated, battling with his new DS and establishing whereabouts for the night of the murder.   His day was about to get even worse.  His DS, Ellie Miller had come in with fish and chips, wrapped up in paper and shoved them in front of him saying eat them or starve, so reluctantly he had accepted them.  He would suffer later and then if things couldn’t get any worse, they had called a press conference to update the media the following morning and he just prayed his nemesis, Rose Tyler wouldn’t have found out and make an appearance.

If she did, he was going to crawl under a rock and hide.  James and Rose had eaten dinner, Rose tolerating his attempts to get her to talk and even offered to buy her a drink, which she couldn’t really refuse.  Sat across from each other in the small hotel bar, which was quiet for a Friday night, James decided he was going to get a response from her about them at least trying to be friends.

“Rose, it’s going to be a long week if we hardly talk to each other.  What about a truce?   I’m not asking you to spend all your time with me if you don’t want to but will you just give me a chance?  We have that press conference in the morning and I know what Alec Hardy did to you the last time you met, the man’s a jerk Rose, he doesn’t deserve you getting all upset over him.”

Rose managed a smile.  She supposed he was right.  Hardy did get her worked up and he had got himself caught up in another murder, he wasn’t going to get any sympathy from her.   She still wanted justice for the families at the end of the day and that never happened last time.  This time she would make sure it did.

Saying goodnight to James, Rose was going up to her room to write some notes for the next day, questions she wanted to ask and hoped she would get some answered, not the run-around from Hardy.  She had to laugh when she thought back to what the hotel owner had called him earlier and would have to check herself before she said it out loud in his presence.  She walked out of the bar and came face to face with her prey as he was getting his room key.

“You!  What the hell are you doing here Tyler?  I should have known you wouldn’t miss a chance to screw me over again.  Pleased with yourself are you?”

“Don’t know what you mean detective.  I was only doing my job, reporting the facts.   Just because I write them doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.  The public did though.  So what are you doing here?”

Hardy felt like slapping her or kissing her, he couldn’t decide.  She had got under his skin and his feet the last time and it had taken some time to shake her off.

“Really Miss Tyler, I thought that would have been obvious.  Solving a crime, didn’t they teach you anything in kindergarten?   Oh sorry, I mean journalist school, you must have missed that class.”

“You think you’re so impressive Mr detective but I’m here to tell you, I won’t be half as easy as I was on you last time if you mess this up.   How did you even get this job?”

He wondered that himself.  “I guess there was someone left who didn’t believe I was beyond redemption.  I’m here to put things right.”

Rose stifled a laugh.  Someone had felt sorry for him and pulled him up out of the jaws of police oblivion.  She was surprised he hadn’t got buried so deep he’d be training new recruits, not that it was such a good idea to teach new recruits his policing skills, which were sorely lacking in the solving of a crime.  He might manage to bore them to death.

“Well I’ll be there for that event, if you ever manage it, just as long as there’s not vital evidence at risk of being lost.”

Hardy nearly lost his temper.   “I was cleared on that in case you’ve forgotten.  Oh wait a minute, you had conveniently forgotten.  Where have you been hiding yourself?  Been polishing press releases?”

“Very funny detective.  Thanks to you, I’ve got someone in tow this time, my editor thought I needed keeping out of trouble, you two should get on just fine.”

Hardy sighed.  As if he didn’t have enough with her.   “So who is she then?  Your just as evil twin?”

Rose did laugh this time.   “No, your lesser evil twin, his sister is the editor and she thinks you two could be from the same batch.”

Hardy raised his eyebrows.  It was bad enough that Tyler thought he was an actor the first time they had met.

“I’m still not talking to you, either of you.   If he does look like me, I hope he knows what he’s got in store from you.  Goodnight Miss Tyler.”

Rose watched him walk off in front of her, noticing he went for the stairs, not the lift and followed at a reasonable distance.  He did have rather a cute bum though. She was on the first landing when James called after her.

“Rose, there you are!   I’ve had this brilliant idea.  Why don’t you go to the press conference in the morning and I’ll go snoop around the murder scene.  What do you think?”

He was bailing out on the press conference, which suited her just fine.   “Yeah, ok James, good idea.  Don’t want to swap places do you?”

“Huh?   Oh, no ta, rather go look at where it took place, if indeed it was there.”

Rose was interested.  “You don’t think it happened there then?”

“Well no actually, I think the body was just left there, make it seem like the boy was killed there.   I’m going to take a look on the top of the cliff, see if it’s possible to fall and land in that exact spot or if someone threw him off.”

“Yeah, well if the boy fell or was pushed, the police would have taped the area off, to get clues.  Great work James, we’ll make a reporter out of you yet.”

Rose patted his back and continued up the stairs.   James grinned then thought about what she had said.

“Oi! I am a reporter thanks very much and I’m your boss so don’t be cheeky Rose Tyler.”

Rose was giggling all the way to her room but he caught up, him and his long legs.

“Do you really want to end up doing press releases on a permanent basis?" he grinned, catching his breath.

“I was only kidding with you James.  Goodnight.  Oh and about earlier, yes, we’ll have a truce.”

“Great, thanks Rose.  Goodnight then.”

He was half hoping she would give him a kiss on the cheek but she was at least talking to him now and this next week wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

After breakfast the next morning, Rose managing not to have another encounter with the delightful Hardy, James set off with his notebook and his camera to go look over the crime scene on the beach and Rose bided her time until the press conference at eleven, opting to go take a walk down by the Police Station she found on the map and spied some catering stalls just opposite and hoped to catch Hardy coming out.  She did but he got straight into a car that pulled up outside, a woman driving and Rose figured it would be his partner.  Poor woman.

Rose got a taxi to the local school that was hosting the press conference and waited with everyone else for Hardy to enter the room.   Why was her tummy churning up butterflies?  She had been to loads of press conferences with Hardy in charge, why should this be any different?  Maybe because another family were being paraded in front of the media, she knew what it had done to the last two families she had made friends with, one mother still didn’t know if her daughter was alive or not.

She looked at the woman who was clinging hold of a teenage blonde haired girl, she looked older than Lisa, both women were clearly shaken at the thought of facing the press but in her book it was always best to get the press off your back early on in the investigation, get it out of the way but there were also disadvantages such as the news-hounds would get bored and go on to something else and that was where Rose excelled.

Rose always waited until the rest of the press left town then she made her move. She kept her distance from the families, writing nothing but words of sympathy for them and crept her way in so they would trust her and at the same time criticising the way it was being handled by the police.   Last time, Hardy had drawn the lucky straw and received more than his fair share of it on her part.   Other papers had then followed but Rose had come out on top, being present in the court as the case was thrown out.

Hardy sat at the end, stone-faced and looking slightly off his game.  Rose hadn’t noticed last night but he looked pale.  Surely this wasn’t getting to him already?  He had let his appearance slip too, he’d not had that scruffy beard the last time she had seen him, how long had he had that?  Still, it made him look older but not necessarily any less attractive if you liked that sort of thing.

Rose looked at her notes, the questions she had ready to fire at him.  She was debating whether to cross one or two off, such as his inability to solve his last case having a vast impact on his ability to solve this one and the fact a killer was still at large.  She would see how things went.   Hardy was introduced as the chief investigating officer and he made a short statement, preparing himself for the onslaught of questions and dreading them from a certain blonde.  He didn’t expect any special treatment from her and he didn’t get any.  Rose made her move and stood up.

“Rose Tyler – The Herald.   DI Hardy, do you think other children are at risk?   Have any more kids been reported missing?   Teenagers perhaps?”

Hardy knew what she was getting at, bringing up his last case.

“Miss Tyler, no, no-one else has been reported missing and no, I don’t think any other children are in danger.  We believe this was an isolated incident, maybe Danny saw something he shouldn’t have done and was silenced.  If anyone was on the beach that night, we ask them to come forward with any information, however small.”

“DI Hardy, do you think he actually died on the beach?”

Everyone looked at her.  It was a bit blunt but the boy’s family would be asking the same question and may or may not already know the answer.

“Miss Tyler, we can’t release that kind of information at present.   This is a complex, slow process where evidence has to be examined and things have to be processed.  We are not prepared to confirm where the incident took place at this time.”

He knew he should have expected nothing less from her.

“DI Hardy, do you think Danny Latimer was killed by someone he knew?   Isn’t it common for children to know their attackers?”

The sound of hushed voices went around the room, the school gym.

“I have no comment to make on that at this time, thank you Miss Tyler.”

She knew she had him, she had followed every second of his last investigation and knew all his tell-tale signs.   She was getting too close and he knew it but to everyone else, including the family sat with him, it was just another question.   In the Sandbrook case, it had been someone very close to the families who was under suspicion and it seemed the remnants of that were back to haunt him.

Other reporters asked menial questions to Hardy and then the boy’s mother made a personal plea and Rose remembered back to the other two mothers making similar ones then one of them had shut herself away and refused to leave the house or speak to anyone and the youngest girl’s mother had taken consolation in the bottom of a bottle and some days barely knew what was going on.  Rose had spent a lot of time with her, trying to persuade her to seek help but to no avail.  The woman still kept in touch and Rose expected her to take some sort of interest in this latest incident, especially with Hardy in charge.

Rose thought back to last night, he hadn’t really answered her question.  Who had he bribed to get back in charge of such a case?  Were they really that short of detectives?   Maybe he was sent here to keep out of everyone’s hair and just got unlucky.   She was going to enjoy seeing him worm his way out of this one.

Everyone began gathering their equipment and putting their phones away.   Rose had already sent messages to her office for Donna’s approval and that done, she could go meet up with James to see what he’d been up to.  Hardy was taking his time but keeping an eye out for the blonde whom he saw sending text messages to her editor, probably.

Rose was about to leave and try and catch up with Hardy when someone approached her.

“Hi, you’re Rose Tyler, right?”

“That’s very observant of you since I introduced myself.  Who are you then?”

The young man held his press badge up.  “Olly Stevens, Broadchurch Echo.   I’ve read all your stuff, the last big case you covered that involved Hardy.  Can I buy you a cup of coffee?”

Rose thought he looked young, maybe around her age or a bit younger but very keen and was going to put a stop to this right now because if Hardy saw her colluding with the local press, she had no chance.

“Sorry, got to go meet someone.”

“Well maybe another time then.  I could show you around the town maybe, buy you a drink later.  I admired your work on Sandbrook, maybe we can discuss it over dinner?”

Blimey, he didn’t give up, Rose thought.   “No, I don’t think so.  I’m here with someone actually, another reporter but thanks for the offer.”

“Oh, well maybe another time.   Are you going to be sticking around a while? Maybe I could fill you in on a few things?”

“That’s why I’m with someone, he’s doing all that.”

“Oh, you’re with a man?  Right, well if you change your mind, you know where to find me.”

Rose sighed.   Now she had let her prey get away from her while this local reporter had kept her talking and she wasn’t too happy about it.  She rang James and asked him to come out and pick her up, giving him the school’s address.

She walked out into the car park and saw Stevens talking to the woman who was with Hardy, who she had learned was called DS Miller.  Hardy was looking as disinterested as usual and was sat in the car, pointing to his watch.  Rose had to smile, he’d not changed one bit.

She remembered how off he used to be even when his then wife was working with him he never cut her any slack, no wonder she had left him.  They had been on the verge when they had worked the case, barely tolerating each other.   Hardy could have got his revenge and had an affair himself if he’d wanted but even though she had been hot on his heels, she never saw him make an attempt to get her into his bed.  Would she have even gone?

James came to pick her up.  A few people were standing around, Hardy had been driven off and Rose was getting hungry, it was after twelve.  Telling James she had sent her report off to Donna, they drove down to the harbour and parked up, spotting a café at the end of a row of apartments and went in.

“You were right Rose, no-one was up there, just a few prints, probably the police but no police tape so they’re not interested with that area.   How did you get on then?  Did Hardy tell you to get lost?”

Rose smiled.  “Not exactly but I gathered a few things.   They definitely don’t think it happened there but where did it then?  We need to talk to people who might have known him, anyone.  His school friends and maybe his teachers but since school’s broken up, that could be difficult.  There’s a newsagents over there, I wonder if Danny ever did a paper round?”

“Oh, good thinking Rose!  Yes, he would have wanted to make a few quid to buy things, being a young boy.  I used to have a paper round, gramps said I actually made the headlines myself a few times, getting into scrapes.”   He saw Rose’s face.

“Well enough about me then.  Maybe he was in the scouts or something?  Maybe they have sea scouts here, being by the sea?” he mused.

“Yes James, maybe he was, I’ll let you follow up on that, let’s go back to the hotel and get our laptops out, look at the local area and see where it might have happened.  We know roughly what time so it would have to have been somewhere quiet, remote.  I’ll go talk to the newsagent, why don’t you go take a look at that little church hall over in the corner of the car park there?”

“What for?” James asked, turning around.

“Because maybe it’s the sea scout hut?”

“Oh yes Rose, that’s brilliant!   We have over an hour left on parking so I’ll meet you at the car in half an hour, then we can decide if we’re going anywhere else. After I’ve looked at the church hall, I’ll walk to the end of the pier and take some pictures of the tent, get a different angle.”

“Ok.  If I have no luck with the newsagent, I’ll walk up and meet you.”

Rose and James set off in the same direction, splitting up at the entrance to the car park.  Just her luck though, Hardy was stood outside the shop talking to an older man.   James was walking off towards the hut so she just carried on walking and pretended she wanted to buy something.  Since she didn’t smoke, she couldn’t very well ask for some cigarettes so she would go in and buy some mints but Hardy spotted her and grabbed her arm as the newsagent went inside.

“Just where do you think you’re going Miss Tyler?”

“Excuse me detective, it is a shop you know, anyone can go inside.”

“Not if you’re going to bother the man.  He won’t talk to you, he won’t even talk to me so I’m doing you a favour, don’t even try.”

“I’ll judge that for myself detective, he may tell me something he won’t tell you. I’m not just going to go in there and tell him I’m a reporter am I?”

“I don’t know, are you?  Miss Tyler, don’t you ever get tired of being smug?”

“No detective, don’t you get tired of thinking you’re right and everyone else is wrong all the time?”

“I don’t know, it’s never happened yet.”

“Now who’s being smug detective?   You think you’re so impressive.”

“Well maybe it’s because I am impressive.   You don’t know me very well Miss Tyler, you only judge me on my failures, not on my merits.”

Rose laughed.   “Oh, you’ve got merits then have you?   Name me one or two?”

Hardy let go of her arm he hadn’t realised he still had hold of and saw out of the corner of his eye that the newsagent was watching them with great interest.  She wouldn’t get anything out of the man now he had seen her talking to him.

“I can elude you when I want to and I never came on to you, that’s just for starters.”

Rose couldn’t reply.   That was a good point, he never once even suggested they got together even though he knew his wife was cheating on him and he could be elusive when he wanted to be.

“That was a lucky shot, one you may not be able to repeat.   Just out of interest, why did you never come on to me back in Sandbrook?”

“Because you’re my public enemy number one Miss Tyler.   Nothing will ever change that.   Now, I have things to do and I wouldn’t bother going in there, he’s seen you talking to me, he’ll just throw you out.   Good day Miss Tyler.”

She watched the detective walk off, probably with a smirk on his face.   She would soon wipe that off.  She looked through the window and the newsagent looked like he was daring her to set foot through the door.  She decided against it and looked to see if James was around but he must have gone to the end of the pier while she was talking to Hardy.  Maybe if they hadn’t had an audience, she might had snogged that smug grin of his off his face and maybe she would have got the newsagent to idly chat to her but Hardy had blown any chance of that now.  She bet the newsagent was looking smug as well having sussed out the big city reporter.

She found James taking photos of the crime scene and greeted him.

“Watcha James, no need to make them look so artistic you know, they’re not family snapshots.”

“Hi Rose, how did you get on?  Find anything out?”

Should she tell him Hardy had completely stuffed up that once and for all?  “Nah, couldn’t get him to talk.”

James smiled.  “Was that anything to do with Hardy talking to you outside?”


She huffed and sat down.  James stood in front of her.  “Here Rose, smile!”

He snapped a picture.

“You print that spaceman and I’ll kick your butt back to Chiswick.”

“Now, now Rose, that’s boss spaceman to you, you’re as bad as my sister, you spend way too much time with her, anyone would think you’re her favourite reporter and everyone knows she doesn’t have favourites, well so she says.  You however, if she did have favourites, would be the one, getting all the prime juicy stories.”

Rose laughed.  “Yeah?  Is that why she punished me by sending you down here with me because she didn’t trust me with Hardy?”

“Ouch!   So I’m your punishment am I Tyler?  That’s nice to know, I’m very hurt by that remark.”

He sat beside her.  She had given him another shove off message.  Rose realised she was just taking it out on the poor bloke, they were supposed to be calling a truce.  She linked her arm with his.

“Sorry James, that was completely uncalled for.  Hardy just rattles my chain, that’s all, it’s nothing personal against you.  Will you forgive me if I buy you an icecream?  Banana flavoured?”   She knew it was his favourite, Donna had told her in an attempt to get her to go out with him.

“So, you’re trying to buy me off with banana icecream are you Rose Tyler?”

“Yeah, so is it gonna work then?”

James pretended to sulk.  “Maybe but it will take more than that.”

“Such as?”

“Mmm, now let me think.  Where shall I start?”

Rose smiled.  “You’re such hard work James Noble.”  She reached over and kissed his cheek.

James smiled back. “Well that’s a start.”
 Chapter 3
Getting back to their hotel, they met back in the lounge to go through what they already had and looked on a local map for places of interest where the murder could have taken place.  Looking at the terrain rather than a flat map, Rose zoomed in on the cliffs a little further up from the beach the body of the boy had been found.  She called James to take a look.

"Look at this James, there's a hut up here and there seems to be a path leading down to the beach."

James took a closer look, leaning over her shoulder and smelling her perfume, wondering why she wore it during the day.  "Look there Rose, they look like boats down there."

Rose move the cursor and zoomed in.  There seemed to be a row of boats all lined up.

James smiled.  "Well look at that Rose.  What if the boy was killed here, taken down to a boat and it sailed the mile or so down the coast and the killer took the boy out and laid him on the beach?"

"I'd say that's a fair assumption James.   It's a bit late now but we could take a ride up to the hut in the morning and if we get stopped, we know that's the crime scene for real, not just the secondary one."

"But Rose, we're supposed to be off tomorrow aren't we?"

"Well yeah but wouldn't you rather find out?   If the police are there, we can walk down onto the beach and see if there are any boats missing, they're not likely to put it back where evidence might have been left are they?"

"Good point.  Ok, we'll take a drive up there then we have the rest of the day off."

"Fine, that's settled then.  If no police are up there, we'll have a look around.   Then I might just go down and catch some sun.  I know, if the police are there, we'll pretend we're just going swimming, bring your things with you."

"Great!  You bring the sunscreen."

"Bring your own, you get paid more than I do."

He didn't know if she was joking or not.  Rose glanced up and saw Hardy trying to sneak past.  She had to just let him go, they were sort of working but saw he had stopped in the doorway, he had doubled back.  James look up and shuddered.  It was like staring at his reflection that had suddenly grown a beard.

"So you must be the famous Alec Hardy then?" James muttered, getting up and not realising he'd been leaning on Rose's shoulder.   "I'm James Noble from The Herald, Rose's boss, well sort of boss."

"Huh, just what I need, another reporter.  Don't you trust Tyler to be on her own?"

James looked at him  "Well yeah, of course I do but the editor had other ideas. Personally, I don't mind spending a week by the sea at the newspaper's expense.   I never realised we look so similar.  I've only seen you in newspapers and we all know they don't show your best side.  Not that I've ever been in the papers recently that is."

Hardy just looked at Rose, she just rolled her eyes.

"So Tyler, you colluding to print a load of shall we say half truths about the press conference this morning?"

Rose closed the laptop lid as Hardy came in the room and walked towards her.

"Hang on detective, Rose doesn't write lies, what's the point in that?"

"It's ok James, I can speak for myself.   The detective is just annoyed I asked him an awkward question.  Really detective, you were lucky I didn't bring up your last case but I was saving that for a rainy day."

"There was really no need to bring my last case, it has no bearing on this one whatsoever."

"Really detective?  Both involving children, it's hardly a coincidence?"

"I don't know what you're reading into this Tyler but you're way out of line and you know it," Hardy snapped.  Then he turned to James.  "See what I have to put up with you?  Do you agree with her?"

James didn't know.  He decided to stay mutual.  He was just getting somewhere with Rose.  "Don't ask me, it was her story, not mine.  You two clearly have some issues so keep me out of it."

Rose was about to thank him for the moral support but Hardy had already turned around and stormed out.

"Why do I let her get to me, every time?" he muttered to himself on the way out. She always got to him, even when he thought she was out of his life for good, something had to go bring her back, it was like there was an invisible force bringing them together and they were bound to keep on meeting.  He knew now why he had never taken her to bed, they would do nothing but fight and he'd had enough of that with Tess.  Maybe if he got through this, he might just do something about her finally.

James looked sheepishly at Rose.   "Sorry Rose, I didn't want to get caught up in it. You two are deadly when you get together, it's like a war zone.  Why do you let him get to you?"

"Good question James.  I'm going to call this quits and go get changed for dinner and chill out for a while.   See you in the dining room."

Rose picked up her laptop and James watched her walk from the room.   There was just something about her but after seeing her with Hardy, he knew he stood no chance whatsoever and knew why she had kept ignoring him – she was in love with the detective.   He made his mind up to call Donna on Monday morning and say he was coming back.  He wasn't going to mope around after Rose Tyler any more, she wouldn't look at him while the detective was around and now he knew why. Despite looking like him, he didn't fight with her, wasn't mean to her and didn't offer a challenge, in fact, he was dead opposite.  He had tried in vain to get her to notice him but by the look of it, she already had a thing for Hardy, probably since Sandbrook.

Rose was just going into her room when Hardy came out of his, he had just gone back for his pills, taken two and was going back to the station.  Work took his mind off of his impending doom despite Miller driving him insane and Tyler driving him to distraction.  He was already thinking the two of them were colluding to bring him down, that Tyler had got to his DS and between them drive him to an early grave.  Funny though, he thought, he had done more thinking about his current state of health since his arrival here than he had in the last few months.   It must be Tyler's doing, he blamed her for everything.

He was walking past her as she opened her door.  "Detective," Rose called out.

Hardy turned.   "What?  Going to do some more gloating are you?"

"No.  I was actually going to say you were right."

"What about?  The great Rose Tyler, apologising, to me?"  He laughed at the thought.

"Well maybe not apologise as such but I was wrong, I was a bit low with that last remark."

Hardy walked back to her.  "Well, well, from you that's something.  Never thought I'd live to see the day Rose Tyler takes something back.  Going soft are you?"

"No, what makes you think that?  It doesn't mean I'm going to start being easy on you.  I just reconsidered what I said."

"Ok, I'll buy it but I'm not going to give you an easy time either, I still hate you."

"Good, then I'm doing my job.  Are you going back to work?"

"No, I'm going roller skating, where do you think I'm going?  Unlike some people, I didn't come here to spend a week by the sea harassing police detectives."

"Ouch!  Talk about being low."

"You deserved it.  Now excuse me, some of us have work to do."

"You know what they say about all work and no play, detective?"

"I'm already dull Tyler and I don't intend changing that."

"Well, we already know that.  Don't you ever relax?"

Was she kidding?  He didn't even sleep properly, let alone relax.   He woke in panic most nights, seeing the water and feeling he was drowning again.   If someone hadn't pulled him out, well he wouldn't be here bantering with this woman who got to him.

Hardy laughed.   "Is that an offer Tyler?  You're slipping up, asking me that. Thought you had your friend downstairs?  He is my double after all."

Rose was about to say it wasn't the same but decided against showing any emotion.

"I'm not with him, I was sent with him, against my wishes.   Don't let me keep you from doing your job, detective, you must have loads to do, working Saturdays."

Hardy huffed and turned away.

"You could buy me a drink later."

Hardy walked off with a smirk on his face.  He wasn't going to grace her with a reply.

Needless to say, Rose had dinner with James then she bought him a drink.

"I wanted to I'm sorry James, for dragging you into it earlier, I don't know why I argue with him."

"Yes you do Rose, face it.  You know full well why you do it.  You don't like him getting the better of you and neither does he.  I'm telling you, you two are dangerous together and something is going to give.  Maybe not now but it will do. I'm going back to London on Monday Rose, you don't need me here."

"What?  You can't do that, Donna will go crazy."

"You forget who she is Rose and you forget who I am.   I only agreed to come for one reason, well two.  One was to stop you and Hardy from murdering each other and the other, well I'd rather not go into that but I think you know why.  Don't you?"

Rose felt flustered.  Yes, she knew the main reason.  Donna trying to push the two of them together, mainly so she would forget about Hardy and release all her pent up feelings for him and settle with James.  Well, she didn't think that was ever going to happen and James was right, one of them was going to crack sooner or later.

"I'm sorry James, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings but it's nothing to do with you, it's nothing you've said or done.  Don't leave because of me."

"I have to Rose, I can't stay here and play piggy in the middle to you and Hardy. That's not fair, to either of us.  I'll go with you tomorrow, up to the hut and see what's going on and we can walk on the beach if you want but that's all.  We can be friends, if you want?"

"Yeah, I want to be friends.  I'll just hire a car for a few days, at my own expense to get around and I'll get the train back next Saturday but will you do me a favour?"

"What's that?"

"Pick me up at the station, it will cost me a fortune in taxi fares and I'd have to take the tube and a bus."

"Yeah, ok.  So we're still friends then?"

Rose linked his arm and nudged him.  "Yeah spaceman, we're still friends.  It's your round and I'm going to get totalled tonight, never mind DI grumpy arse."

Three white wine and lemonades later, James was trying to get her up the stairs, supporting her as she giggled.

"Aw, you're not so bad James Noble, I mean, you're quite good looking and you'll find someone."

James had been nursing a grudge most of the evening, that he was not Alec Hardy. "I already did Rose but I let her get away."

Rose put her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.   "No you didn't, some things you just have no control over and don't give up.   Night James, see you at breakfast?"

"Yeah, goodnight Rose and thanks, for dumping me before I made a complete idiot of myself."

Rose giggled.  "You're not an idiot James and I really am sorry, for getting your hopes up but you never know, do you?  You have to keep on hoping.  I should go and sleep this off or I'll have a rotten headache in the morning and I might say something I might regret later.  I've not been fair on you James, I know that.  You tried to make me see you cared about me and I threw it back at you and for that, I deserve you to be angry with me."

"I'm not angry with you Rose, I'm angry at myself, for thinking I stood a chance. Plus some of it is Donna's fault, her and her ideas."

Rose kissed his cheek again and went inside, throwing her shoes off and went into the bathroom.   She saw tears on her cheeks but tried to ignore them.   She didn't know who they were for, Hardy or James.  Life was so unfair, two men who were identical yet so different.   Why was she in love with the one who wanted to make her life a misery and not the one who was actually interested in her?  No, James deserved better than her, she wasn't worth it.

The following morning, Rose set off with James down a narrow road that led to the cliff top hut and knew immediately they saw the police tape that something was going on.  They could just get in the car park and pretended to get their beach bags out and set off for the path to the beach, Rose pretending to take photos of the area and carefully getting in the hut.  She wasn't going to publish anything just yet, see if she could get more information.

Once down on the beach, they looked at the row of wooden boats all chained up and James noticed a gap and the chain looked like it had been cut.

"Look at this Rose, we were right.   Someone cut the chain and used the boat.  It must have had the motor already in it, they wouldn't have had time to install it."

"Yeah, now all we need to do is find out who's missing a boat and where it is now. Still, that's down to the police but no harm in doing a little nosing around of our own, is there?"

James managed a smile.   They made a good team and if Rose wanted to be his friend, that was something he supposed.   If she got tired of chasing Hardy to every town he went to, he may be waiting for her.

"It doesn't look like the police have been here Rose, no tape sealing it off and no-one watching it.  Hardy might be interested in this."

"Yeah?  We helping him now James?  What would he make of it?   The press actually helping him.  I might pass it on to him or see if he's as clever as he likes to think he is."

James laughed.  No matter what, she was not going to let on she was attracted to the bloke.  Well not outwardly anyway.

They walked up the beach and then turned back towards the car, James helping her up the steep path and back to the car.  They drove back up the narrow lane, having to stop a few times as there was no room for two cars and James wondered how anyone would want to go live there.  After some lunch, Rose said she was going to go for a dip in the sea and sunbathe for a while on a sandy bit of beach she managed to find as most of it was pebbles and she walked down the path at the side of the hotel after leaving her valuables in her room except for her phone in her jeans pocket.

She laid her towel out and took off her jeans and t-shirt. There were a few people around but they were taking no notice of her as she put some sunscreen on and laid on her towel.  She wished she had invited James to come with her and felt guilty.   James had said he was going to call Donna and tell her he was going back tomorrow.

Rose had her thoughts interrupted by someone blocking the sun.  She looked over the top of her sunglasses to see a tall figure, dressed in a suit standing over her. She never attempted to cover herself up.

"You're in the way detective, thanks a lot."

"Don't mention it.  You keep bugging me, thought I would return the favour."

"Haven't you got a suspect to harass or something detective?"

"Why, when I'm having more fun bothering you."

"That could be seen as misinterpretation detective.  Anyone would think you actually liked me if they didn't know you any better."

Hardy crouched down in front of her, making Rose squint with the sun now back in her eyes.

"So, when are you leaving then?"

"Tired of my company already?"

"Yes and no.  You keep me on my toes, remind me of what I'm focusing on – getting justice for a boy's family.   That's all it was ever about Tyler, justice and you didn't help last time."

Rose sat up and pulled the towel around her but it was already too late as Hardy got a rather good view of her.  Rose never even flinched.

"What exactly didn't I help with the last time Hardy?   I told you it was someone the girls knew, someone close to home and I was right, I wasn't the one that let him go, I tried to get justice for the families, that was what I was about and I'm going to see they get it this time.  Why was the other case never re-opened?"

"What?   Why are you dragging that up now Tyler?"

"Because it was never over.  You just walked away – left it and left those poor girls' mothers' to grieve and no answers – no justice.   You just walked away, got a pat on the back and given another job."

"Well I'd say that gives me the upper hand here Tyler, I've learned from my mistakes."

Rose laughed.  "Really detective?  I'd say you've already missed something vital."

Hardy shifted, his legs were aching so taking his jacket off after standing up, he placed it on the sand and sat in front of her.   Rose just wished he'd sat at the side of her and knew he was doing it on purpose, hoping she would let go of her towel.  She ought to slap his face for being a perve.

"Ok Miss smarty knickers, what have I missed?"

"The obvious.  I know the boy wasn't killed where you found him, I went up to the cliff top hut this morning, it was swarming with CSIs"

Hardy laughed.   "You've been watching too much TV Tyler, it's forensics."

"Same difference.   So if the boy was killed at the hut shall we say hypothetically, the killer needed to get him down there and I've been on that road, hair-raising enough during the day but at night, you wouldn't go back up there unless you had to, especially with a dead child in the back."

"Ok, tell me more, hypothetically of course."

"The killer took the boy down the path."

"Then what?"

"You mean you've not been down there?"

"Not personally but officers have been down there, there's a row of boats.  So what?"

"There's one missing."

"What!  How do you know that?"

Rose had got him.  "What's it worth detective?"

"How about I don't arrest you and lock you up for withholding information and or indecent exposure because that bikini you're wearing should be illegal."

"You shouldn't have been looking, detective and I've covered myself up in your presence."

"Not until after I got rather a good look and you made sure I had seen Tyler."

"Huh!  You shouldn't sneak along the beach looking for women who are sunbathing, creep."

Hardy laughed.  "Can we get back to the matter of the boat Tyler?"

"Why don't you use my first name?"

"Never.  Now get on with it or I might still arrest you."

"Now what for?"

Hardy rolled his eyes.

"James and I looked earlier, one of the chains has been cut."

"Really?   I hope neither of you touched it."

"Don't be stupid, like we'd do that."

Hardy got his phone out and squinted at the screen.  Rose knew he wore glasses, rather sexily but he was very self-conscious of them.  He spoke to someone at the station, Rose only heard his side of the conversation, telling them to get someone down to the beach below the hut and examine the chain, see if whoever took it had left any clues.

He got up and retrieved his jacket and dusted the sand off it.

"You're welcome detective, you at least owe me a drink."

"That could be seen as bribery Tyler.   We wouldn't want people to think we were actually associating with each other out of office hours, would we?"

"Oh so Sundays on a beach and me in my bikini are office hours then?"

"I've wasted enough time with you already, it may be too late for that."

Hardy walked off and Rose went back to sunbathing.   "Jerk," she muttered to herself.

Hardy was grinning to himself.  He had seen a bit too much of Rose Tyler and she wasn't even that bothered about it.   Things were looking up.   Now he just had to get rid of her partner, who had seemed a bit possessive of her.  He walked back to the station.  Tyler was right, why was he working on Sunday?   He could have stayed on the beach enjoying the view he'd had before she had covered herself up. He shook the thought out of his mind, he shouldn't even be thinking like that, she was the enemy.

Rose didn't get her drink from Hardy later on, he had actually got back in time for his evening meal but had gone to his room.   Something was troubling him and he wanted time to think.  Plus, drinking was not a good idea, especially with Rose Tyler, he had a reputation to think about.
 Chapter 4

The next morning, James had packed after convincing Donna that by staying there, he was not going to convince Rose not to strangle Hardy.  Donna however had tried to get him to stay but he had won in the end.

"You're such a soft touch James, you're giving her what she wants, to be left alone with Hardy."

"Donna, you're not here, it's totally creepy looking at the bloke and it's un-nerving, probably for him as well.   I'm not staying so say what you want.  Rose said she would hire a car for a few days and get the train back.  The least I can do is pay for the car hire so I'll tell her to send the bill to you, take it out of my pay.   I've failed Donna, she's so hooked up on Hardy, she won't ever get free.   I've tried but it's never going to happen."

"Well, if you're sure about this and they won't kill each other, I guess you can come home.   Sorry I dropped you in it James, I really thought she might come round."

James said goodbye to Rose over breakfast.  "So you text me what time you're coming back on Saturday, ok?"

"Yeah ok. I am sorry, really.   I know you wanted a week by the sea."

"Nah, it's ok, got some holiday coming up, I'll find somewhere, Club Med or suchlike.  Take my advice Rose and walk away at the end of the week, it won't do you any good."

"I know.  He just drives me insane.  Walk you to your car?"

James smiled.  He went to get his luggage and Rose waited downstairs, noting Hardy had already left.  Becca called her over to the desk.

"Your friend leaving then?   I thought he was here for the week, he only told me this morning.  Thought it was rather creepy that he looked like Hardy, it freaked me out when you arrived."

"Yeah, I know."

"You already knew him didn't you?   Hardy I mean."

"Yeah, his last case, our paths crossed."

"Judging by the other night when he came in, I think it was a bit more than that. Were you two involved with each other?"

Rose laughed.   "No way!  I knew him from his last big case, we hate each other."

"Ouch!  Is hate the new word for love?"

Rose was rescued by James emerging with his luggage.   As he was putting it in the back of the car, he turned around.

"You'll be ok won't you Rose?  I feel bad now about leaving you."

"I'll be fine, don't worry about me.  See you Saturday."   She gave him a hug.

Rose went back to the hotel to wait for the rental car she had just ordered after she had watched James drive off.  She did feel guilty but it wouldn't have been right to lead him on.  Everyone had said it, James was turning women down all the time hoping Rose would notice him and go out with him but both Donna and her mother and now James himself had said how obsessed she was with Hardy, it was never going to happen.

Once her shiny blue rental car arrived, one with a built-in satnav, she decided to take a drive up to where the Latimer family lived but there was still a Police car outside so she parked down the street and made some notes.   Her first task was to build up confidence of her with the family like she always did, writing nice things about the boy and the rest of the family, that got them interested enough in her to start to let her in.

She sent off another report to Donna and noticed the blonde girl she had seen at the press conference come out of an alleyway between the houses so she got out of her car rather quickly, locking it behind her and caught up with the girl.

"Hi, are you Chloe?   I'm Rose, I was at the press conference the other day, do you have a minute?"

The girl stopped.   "We don't talk to the press you know, my mum said they're all the same, out to make our lives even more miserable."

Rose smiled.   "Well that's not me.  I was down at the beach and saw a lot of flowers and gifts down there.  If you left anything of sentimental value, I'd go move it if I were you, someone might take it."

"Yeah, thanks for the advice.  So who were you again?"

"I'm Rose Tyler, I work for The Herald."

"My gran reads that.  I suppose I can trust you then, it's just that my mum said not to talk to anyone."

"Well she was right.  Look, I'm not going to pester you and take photos all the time but I've had experience with situations like the one you and your family are in.   I understand what's going on and promise I'll leave you alone, unless you want to talk.  Can I give you my number?"

Chloe got her phone out.   "I suppose so."

"If you want to chat, someone outside your family to listen to you, I won't print anything about you without your permission, ok?"

The girl nodded and walked off.  Rose had just begun round two.  That was how she preferred to work, ingratiate yourself into the family in a small way and build on it. She just wished she could do the same with Hardy.

While Rose had been waiting to take her first steps into the Latimer household, Hardy and Miller had been hard at work, pulling people in for interviews and just before Rose had arrived in the street, had taken the boy's father in for questioning and Hardy was having a hard time with him.   By the end of the afternoon, he left the man to think about why he wouldn't give his whereabouts and went back to the hotel.  He saw Rose sat on her own in the dining room and walked past her.

"Care to join me detective?" she called after him.  He sat on the next table, just behind her.

"I don't think so Tyler, thanks all the same.  Where's your friend, had enough of you?"

"He's gone back to London, couldn't bare to see his reflection all the time."

Hardy smiled.  Eliminate the competition then go for the kill.  Well maybe, if he managed to actually solve this case and not have Tyler come down on him like a ton of bricks again.  If he screwed this one up, she would let him know.  Maybe he should risk sitting with her, just this once before she brought her wrath down on him again.

"So if I come round there, do you promise not to bite?"

"Maybe, if I get served any time soon."

The waitress was making her way slowly over to her table as Hardy sat opposite her.  They ordered and ate in silence, Rose thought he may as well have stayed where he was, they had talked more before he had moved.

"So Tyler, when are you going to give me some good news that you're leaving town as well?" Hardy asked as he pushed his plate to one side.

"Aw, I'm disappointed detective, I thought you were actually enjoying my company that much you were lost for words."

The waitress came back and Rose ordered some icecream.  Hardy shook his head. "I was waiting for you to strike up a conversation that didn't involve this case or my last one."

"What?  Wow, are you sure you're still Alec Hardy and didn't do a personality swap with my partner?"

Her strawberry and vanilla icecream arrived and Hardy asked for some as well.

Rose smiled, the detective didn't want to be left out after all.  As if by mutual consent, they moved into the bar, much to the amusement of Becca.   Talk about luck, Rose Tyler had two identical men chasing after her and she was talking to the grumpy one, not the cute one who had just left.

Hardy bought her a drink and sat opposite, still keeping his distance so she couldn't slap him.  He figured he was at a safe enough distance away.

"So, are you just going to stare at me all night and pretend you didn't see me in my bikini yesterday?"

Hardy took a drink of his non-alcoholic lager.   "I still should arrest you for wearing it.  Do you always dress like that for the beach or were you hoping to lure me there?"

"Don't flatter yourself detective.  Were you spying on me?"

Hardy smiled.   "No, I just got lucky, I saw you walk down the cliff path and settle on the beach, thought I'd give you a minute, I saw you strip off, you really should be more careful Tyler."

"Perve, you were watching me."

"Just be thankful it was only me, you shouldn't be alone on the beach, there's a killer around."

"You left me there Hardy."

"You put a t-shirt on."

"You turned around, aw, I didn't know you cared.  You could have stayed."

"I had better things to do."

"I hate you Hardy."

"Yeah?  Good, I'm doing my job.  Your room or mine?"


"You heard."

"Mine.  I'll go up first."

Rose finished her drink in one go, Hardy thought she was used to it.  She was wearing slim fitting jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt and he watched her leave the bar. Just what he thought he was going to do when he got to her room, he didn't exactly know.  He waited ten minutes and got up, getting a stare from Becca.

"Early night detective?"

"Long day."

He noticed she had just come back in, one of the waitresses was serving behind the bar and he wondered where she had been or if she had just been taking a break.   He checked his pocket and took two pills out of the blister pack and swallowed them in the hallway after getting a bottle of water from the bar, telling Becca to put it on his bill.   Then he took the stairs and knocked on Rose's door.

"It's open detective."

"You're too trusting Tyler, what have I told you?"

"Well who else would it be?   No-one else knows what room I'm in."

She had disposed of her jeans and was wearing her pink silky dressing gown, the t-shirt still underneath and her legs showing.   He put the bottle of water on the dresser.

"Long story.   So tell me why I'm here again?"

Rose laughed as he took off his jacket and his tie then loosened the top two buttons on his shirt and she walked up to him as he threw the tie on the back of the chair. Rose reached up and unfastened more buttons, putting her finger on his chest as she did so, kissing his exposed skin.  She liked men who had hairs on their chest, not too much, just enough.

"You need reminding?"

"Humour me."

He was unfastening the shirt cuffs as Rose had the sleeves over his shoulders, pulling it off as he went to put his arms around her neck and began kissing it.

"Well I might be a bit hazy on some things."

"I'm sure it will come back to you detective."

She put her arms around his waist and up his back as his own arms moved down and his hands began to unfasten her robe, letting it fall behind her.  Then he put his hands up the back of her t-shirt, noting she wasn't wearing anything underneath. Then with one swift movement he pulled the t-shirt over her head and his skin touched her skin.

They both let out a low moan.   "Whose idea was this Tyler?"

"Yours I believe detective," Rose replied as he kissed her shoulder and neck.

Rose was nestled in the crook of his neck.

"Never had such a worse idea in my life."

Rose glanced up at him.   "I'm sure you've had worse detective."

Then he began nibbling her ear, smelling her perfume and he knew he couldn't finish this without ending up in hospital.   He had to tell someone and the reporter was the only one he trusted strangely enough.

"I hate you Tyler."

"I hate you too detective."

Rose moved her head and he angled his slightly down.   She wasn't as tall as he was and Rose had to reach up on her toes since she was in her bare feet and practically having to let him hold her up.  They looked at each other as their lips were so close.

"Why Tyler?  Why did you agree to let me come to your room?"

"It seemed like a very good idea at the time and I was just trying to shut you up."

"Really?  I don't think so, you were flirting with me."

"Huh?   Talk about an ego, you've certainly got a large one."

"Says you, Miss laid on the beach in her bikini trying to distract a Police Officer from his duty."

"I told you, you shouldn't have been looking."

"You were very difficult to ignore."

"I wasn't asleep if that's what you were thinking."

"I know, you were trying to ignore me and hoped I would go away."

"You didn't, much to my annoyance.  You were in my sun."

"Really?  I was saving you from getting burned."

"I had sunscreen on, spoilsport."



"Shut up."

He leaned a fraction closer and their lips met, just brushing against each other but within seconds, the kiss had deepened.  Hardy put his hands lower and pulled her up as Rose put her arms around his neck as he lifted her off the ground.

They parted and Rose was back on her toes as she suddenly felt him lift her up again and carry her to the bed, her arms still around his neck.

"Detective, do you want to talk about this?"

"No, you've talked enough already."

Rose grinned as he placed her on the bed and began unfastening his belt.

"I've talked enough?  Thanks a lot."

She sat up and reached for him to help him finish getting undressed down to his boxer shorts.

"I'm going to do something really stupid Tyler and before you say anything, thinking about having sex with you has got to my worst idea ever despite what you think but that's not it."

"Then what is it, besides letting me get to you that you even want to think about having sex with me?"

She had her arms around his neck as he knelt on the bed and she scrambled further up, still on her knees.

"I'm going to trust you."

Rose giggled.  "Seriously, you're gonna trust me.   What makes you think you can?"

"I have no choice.  First though, you tell me a secret that no-one else knows about you, then I know I can actually trust you."

"Well, you've got me there.   Ok, I've never admitted to anyone that you turn me on and I wanted you to take me to bed the first time I met you but you were still married."

"That wouldn't have stopped you, would it?"

"Maybe not if I'd known your wife was already having an affair that you didn't know about.  When you found out, we already couldn't stand each other and we made each other's lives a misery."

"Mine was already a misery, you made it worse because you always walked away."

"You could have told me you wanted to take me to bed you know."

"And spoil all the fun?"

He pushed her backwards so she was sprawled back against the pillow and he followed on his knees, hovering over her.   He was about to lean down to kiss her exposed skin but she held his shoulders.

"Ah, ah, your turn Hardy."

Hardy straightened up and Rose ran her finger down his torso, stopping at his bellybutton.

"I've got a health problem, a serious one.  Having sex with you could possible land me in hospital or worse."

Rose looked horrified.   "What?  You are joking I hope?"

Hardy shook his head.   "No Tyler, I'm deadly serious, no-one else knows apart from my own GP, back in Sandbrook.  Now you can throw me out if you want."

"You're not just saying that to get out of having sex with me are you Hardy?"

"Don't be stupid Tyler.  I want to have sex with you, I just can't risk it."

"Was that what stopped you before?"

"No, I was getting ill, just after I was pulled out of that river.  I wouldn't go to hospital when they wanted me to.  The ambulance crew treated me at the scene, gave me something to help me breathe and I went back to work.  It must have affected me.  The next thing I knew a few days later was I was getting chest pains and went to my GP.  I need a pacemaker."

Rose looked at him.  Joking was now out of the question.   All that banter, all that ribbing each other and pretending they hated each other, none of that mattered any more.  Rose sat up and put her arms around him but he backed her off.

"I don't want your sympathy Tyler.  You have two choices.  Throw me out and tell me you never want to see me again or keep on going as we are now because I need this.  I need to take my frustrations out on you, you kept me going all this time. Nothing's changed.  I'm still not going to make this easy for you and I expect no less from you.  You know the truth now but all I ask is that you don't print it until I have the killer behind bars.  Agreed?   Now do I leave or do I take my shorts off and try my luck?"

Rose already knew the answer.  They couldn't live without each other in the background, someone to focus their anger on.  Another child had been killed and despite Hardy's best efforts, two killers were still out there.   She doubted he could focus if she threw him out and they had kept each other fighting, mainly each other but it had kept them from falling apart.

Rose gave him his answer as she placed her fingers on the waistband of his boxers.

"You're welcome to try detective."

That was all he needed.  Keeping the rest of her underwear on, they got under the covers as he slipped his shorts off as Rose giggled when he threw them over the side of the bed.

"I think I'd better go on top detective, I'm not going to be responsible if you collapse on me.   I don't fancy having to get your shorts back on you if you need an ambulance ride."

"I'm disappointed Tyler, you had no objection to me taking them off just now but I just took two pills.  They're in my jacket pocket if I need more.  Don't worry, you won't need any protection, I stopped carrying any a long time ago."

"I take my own precautions thanks, not that I don't trust you."

"Oh.  So you've been waiting for me have you Tyler?" he grinned as she settled on him.

"You're so full of it Hardy.  Why don't you just admit it?  You've been trying to get in my underwear since day one."

He suddenly flipped her over, making her gasp as he lay on her, pining her arms up.

"Now who's full of it Tyler?"   He leaned down and kissed her.

She gasped as she felt him moving her underwear to one side and they touched.

"Don't get too excited Tyler, this isn't going anywhere just yet."

"Hardy, just shut up and get on with it, whatever 'it' is."

"Oh.  So you're going to start bossing me around are you Tyler?"

Rose never said a word as she was more than enjoying the sensations she was now getting.   When she recovered sufficiently, she saw Hardy staring at her.

"Did you enjoy watching that detective?"

Hardy grinned.  "Nearly as much as you were, apparently."

Rose freed her arms and pushed him on to his back.   "I'm gonna have to change my underwear now, thanks for that."

"My pleasure Tyler, don't let me stop you but you might want to delay that.   Who says I've finished with you yet?"

Rose felt another jolt of pleasure rushing through her and lost all coherent thoughts as he repeated what he had just done.   When she finally landed back on earth, she moved her hands onto his chest.

"Are you sure you're not joking about your health detective?"

"Well it doesn't take much effort to please you by the look on your face just now does it Tyler?  For the record, I can prove I have a health problem should you want to check it out.  Now are you going to get changed and let me go or am I staying here all night with you in your damp underwear?"

"I'll get changed if you put your shorts back on and stay.  You can sneak out of my room when my alarm goes off.   I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea we had spent the night together.   I suggest we go to your room next time."

"Oh, so you're that confident there's going to be a next time are you?"

Rose got out of bed.

"Throw me my shorts while you're there Tyler and pass me my phone.  I have my alarm set for seven."

"So is mine but I'll put it beside mine, it will make sure we don't sleep in.  Why do you get up so early?"

Rose was about to go into the bathroom to freshen up after throwing his shorts to him, which he caught.

"Some of us have to work at getting ready in the morning."

Rose laughed.   "Are you kidding?  You don't shave, you don't seem to comb your hair, you look like you've slept in your shirt and suit and your tie is always crooked and your top shirt button always undone.  Did I miss anything?"

"No, I think that's a more than accurate description of me.  If I go missing, I can rely on you to get me found.   Anyway, who says I actually get any sleep?"

Rose had disappeared into the bathroom having grabbed a pink cotton vest as well as clean underwear and came out a few minutes later, turning out the bedside lamp.

"I heard what you said detective, about you not sleeping.  Do you get nightmares about being in the river?"

"That and other things.  It pains me to admit this Tyler but Lisa still being missing, not knowing, that's the worse part.  Pippa was bad enough, finding her and I ask myself why it was me that had to find her.  Why couldn't it have been someone else?   Why did I nearly have to drown in that river getting her out?"

Rose was sat up and put her arms around him and kissed his cheek.

"I'm so sorry Alec, I had no idea how it had affected you."

Hardy looked at her and leaned into her so he was resting his head on her now covered chest.  "I told you Tyler, I don't want your sympathy."

"Maybe not but you need a decent night's sleep, you have red eyes most of the time, you constantly look tired and you don't look after yourself properly.  What are you trying to do to yourself?"

"Why should you care Tyler?   Why am I still here, in your bed?  You should have thrown me out while you still had the chance, now you're going to get stuck with me if you're not careful."

"Stuck with you?  Are you insinuating I'm not up to the task detective?"

"I don't know, are you?  Do you really want to play nursemaid to a sick detective who likes to make your life a misery?"

"You do make my life a misery and I hope I make yours miserable too and I'm not going to go easy on you.  You want someone to take everything out on, to listen to you moaning, to make sure you take your medication.   Well you've got someone and if you don't like it then tough, get used to it detective.  You're the one that's going to get stuck with me."

"Great, just what I need, a bossy reporter of a girlfriend.  Just let me die in peace."

"Oh no Mister, you don't get out of it that easily you know.   We're gonna fight this. What about this pacemaker?   When can you have it fitted?"

"This is not your fight Tyler, it's mine.  Don't get involved with me."

"Shut up Hardy.   I am involved so get out or get used to it.  Don't go feeling sorry for yourself, it won't work on me.  Can you get an appointment for the pacemaker fitted?  How long have you been waiting?"

"Since I first found out, I'm top of the list if they haven't given up sending me reminders.   I have my mail forwarded to the station.   Let me up, I'll leave if you want me to."

Rose stayed where she was, holding him firmly.   "I told you, you're not getting out of this so easy so go to sleep.   I've got you now and if you wake up in a panic, tell me if you need your pills or if you just need holding until it passes.   My mum always said it's better with two.  I don't care if you wake in a panic at three in the morning, I don't care if you come back at three in the morning and want to take it out on me.   I'm here so just accept it and take advantage of it."

"I hate you so much right now Tyler, I can't describe it."

Rose kissed his forehead and he shifted from her chest onto the pillow and turned onto his side away from her.

"Get back here Hardy, you don't get to wallow in your own misery alone you know."

She put her hand on his shoulder and he turned around to face her.

"I hate you too Hardy, for all you put those families through and that you might do the same for this one.   I just wanted justice for Lisa and Pippa and you didn't get it for them but just because of that, I'm not going to let you suffer a serious life-threatening illness on your own, that's different.   Now come here and let me hold you while you go to sleep.  After you've snogged the life out of me to shut me up"

Hardy looked at her.  Who the hell did she think she was bossing him around like that?   She was ten times worse than his ex wife.  Was he going to let her take charge of him?  Someone had to so why not let her, she deserved everything he could throw at her and was he going to throw everything at her with both barrels or what?   He brushed a strand of her hair behind her ear he could make out from the light coming through the window and leaned forward.

"Oh Tyler, I can shut you up whenever I want.   Don't say I never warned you.  You want to boss me around?"

Rose nodded as he pressed his lips against her and only stopped when they both got out of breath.

"Well you're going to have your work cut out for you if you think it's going to be easy.  I'll argue with you, I'll fight you if you make me do something I don't want to."

"Yeah, whatever you say, tough guy.   Just promise me you'll call the appointments office in the morning and get yourself fixed, that way I'll be out of your way.   Until then, get some sleep."

"When did you say you were going back to London Tyler?"

"I didn't, so tough.  I think I might just ring my editor and persuade her to let me stay and see this thing through, that way I can bug you even more."

"Give me her number, I'll threaten to sue the paper if she lets you stay."

He leaned closer and put his arm across her waist, his fingers straying under her vest top.

"I've got two weeks holiday to come, I can take them where I like.  I heard Broadchurch is lovely this time of year."

"You wouldn't dare Tyler, the sooner you're on a train or your broomstick back to London, the better."

"Oh I will be going back detective, to get some more stuff then I'll drive back down and deliver you to the door of that hospital, in handcuffs if I have to because you're not getting out of it."

"Then you wonder why I hate you so much Tyler."   His hand was now all the way up the front of her vest, tracing his fingers on her skin.

"Then stop arguing and get some sleep Hardy, you're gonna need it with me looking after you."

"What makes you think you're getting the job?"

"Had any more offers lately?"

He thought about it.   "No, not exactly but I haven't advertised for anyone."

"Then there's no need to.  Don't worry, once you've had your operation you can fire me."

"Good because I'll have had enough of you by then."

He settled in her arms and went to sleep, Rose holding him tightly.
 Chapter 5

Hardy heard the alarms first, reaching over the top of Rose to silence his own, which he knew how to tackle but had no luck with hers.  Rose had already been woken up and was smiling as he was leaning on her.

"Having trouble detective?"

Hardy swore under his breath and handed the offending object to her.   "You leave that on next time and I'll throw it out of the window Tyler."

"Grumpy arse, you only have to press the big red 'stop' button.  Why don't you leave your glasses by the bed then you'll be able to put them on and see how to turn the alarm off.   Isn't a red button obvious that it means stop?"

Hardy flopped back down on the pillow.

"Morning detective, sleep well?"

He wasn't going to admit to her it was the best night's sleep he'd had since he had been ill.  He'd not woken up once.

"Huh, I did until your stupid alarm woke me up.  Why did we need two?"

"Oh, so you can turn yours off without looking can you?"

"Yes.  So don't leave it on again, got it?"

"So there's going to be a next time then?  I'm surprised.  You must be in a good mood."

"Who says I'm in a good mood?  Get over here and you'll find out."

Rose moved closer and he pushed her onto her back, hovering over her then leaned down to kiss her neck.  Rose seized the opportunity to pull him into a long deep kiss.

"So are you going to hassle me all day Tyler?  Or are you going to find someone else to bother and don't make it the Latimers, they have enough to worry about."

"I'm going to make a few more enquiries today, might have another go at the newsagent and find out a few things.  I'm going to call my editor first and tell her it's worth staying down here a bit longer.   Don't worry, I won't tell her I tamed the great Alec Hardy last night or anything."

"Mind you don't or you'll have to do more than tame me.   I have to go now, as much as I enjoy your company."  He reached over and kissed her again.

"Your room tonight then detective?"

"We'll see Tyler, I might find something better to do than watch you enjoy yourself."

"Such as?"  She ran her fingers down his chest and down to his bellybutton.

He caught her hand and linked his fingers with hers.  "I won't know until I find it, will I?"

He reached down and kissed the back of her hand, then dived down to lift her vest top and kissed her exposed skin.  "Maybe you can return the favour tonight Tyler."

"Are you sure you're up to it detective?"

He let her go and started getting out of bed.  "Well if you're turning down the offer of a lifetime, then it's your loss Tyler."

Rose smiled.   "I never said I was turning you down, I was just pointing out that you seemed to be enjoying it as much as I was.  Look, let's just do more of what we did last night, ok?"

"Well maybe a bit more, you could lose your underwear, it's not like anything's likely to happen in my condition."

He got dressed, Rose watching him from her vantage point sat up against the pillows.

"Ok.  I challenge you to get them off me, do you accept?"

He grinned.  She had no idea.

Hardy went back to his room, Rose was disappointed there was no connecting door and once down at breakfast, he stopped by her table.

"Are you going to stand there all morning?" Rose asked.

He sat down.   "I'm not making a habit of this, for the record.  No point in taking up another table just for the sake of it I suppose."

"No, I suppose not.  You got anything important going on today?"

"As if I'd even tell you Tyler."

"Well I can try.  You free for lunch?"

"I might wander over to the outdoor caterers across from the station around one this afternoon, not that I'll talk to you."

"Thought not.  I suppose I'll be hungry again by that time.  Just out of interest, will your DS be with you?"

"She meets up with her family, well she did yesterday.  I suppose I'll have to find something to do other than sit in my office waiting for her to come back."

"You might as well.  Might see you at one then?"

Hardy got up.  "If I'm extremely unlucky."

Hardy went back to get his jacket and went off to the station.  Rose went to call Donna.

"Rose!  How are you coping with that pain of a detective?  You got him into bed yet?"

"Donna, I'm surprised at you.  How was James when he got back?"

"Don't know, I've not seen him yet.   He came in and shut himself in his office. Apparently he doesn't have you to stare after all day.  What did you do to him Rose?"

"Nothing, I think I spared him from any further embarrassment.  I'm sorry Donna, I didn't mean to hurt him.  He thought it was best to leave and I don't blame him so don't be too hard on him."

"He offered to pay for your car hire since he left you to fend for yourself.  Put in the train fare as well, I won't take it out of his pay."

"Thanks Donna.   I have something to ask you though."

"Go on.  You want to stay there don't you?  Give me one good reason."

"I can get you the story of Alec Hardy and Sandbrook, what really happened."

"Blimey, you have slept with him."

"No, well not exactly got the story, he backed out but I can wear him down.  I just need some time.  Tell you what Donna, you agree to still pay me for being here, I'll send you the latest news and I'll pay for my own accommodation after Saturday.  I promise I'll get you a really good story out of it."

"Well against my better judgement, I'll agree.   It will give James a chance to recover I suppose.  Poor bloke will be moping after you if you come back anyway."

Meanwhile, Hardy was in his office going through the pile of personal mail that he'd had forwarded, noting there were two letters marked as 'Urgent' from the health service.  He opened the one that was postmarked from last Thursday telling him to contact the appointments office urgently.  He did.  He was asked if he was still at his current address so he gave them the name of the hotel and told them he was in the middle of moving.

They told him there was an appointment for him next Monday morning at 9am at Exeter hospital and to bring an overnight bag with him but he may have to stay in up to five days.   He agreed to take the appointment but he wished them luck keeping him in five days.  He was going to have to make an excuse to sneak off on Monday as it was let alone five days during a murder investigation.

Now he was stuck with Tyler, his self-appointed guardian and now it seemed, his new girlfriend.   Could he cope with her?  He needed her to keep his secret for a few days until he was back on his feet again.  Why had he put the operation off for so long?  It could have something to do with he might not come round from it and he had things to do.  For one, wait for the Sandbrook killer to slip up and the case was re-opened then take it over again somehow but life was conspiring against him to have the misfortune to meet Tyler again.

He had to admit he had secretly been in love with her since their first meeting when she had asked the ultimate question – what was he doing about the missing girls?  Every night for all this time, he saw the youngest girl's body in the rampant river and saw himself picking her up and going under more than once in the struggle to get her to the riverbank and he vaguely remembered hands reaching out and taking the girl and pulling him out.  They should have left him, he was finished the moment he found her.

Now though, he was contemplating surgery at last because Tyler had worn him down and got him into her bed and he couldn't do a damn thing about it.  Well she asked for it but once he solved the case, she would more than likely go crawl back under the rock she had come from and he wouldn't see her again until he had another big case.   Unless he made such an impression on her she would keep coming back for more and stay.  Did he want her to stay?  He hadn't told her the bad news yet – that he may not even have to worry about it.

He had always thought that he would be gone before he solved the Sandbrook case and never expected to come face to face with another too similar murder.  Tyler had been right, it was following him and he shouldn't have lost his temper with her. He also hadn't admitted to her that last night, sleeping in her arms had been his best night since he got that phonecall saying two cousins had gone missing.


Rose had been back to the harbour and had stopped outside the newsagents as she had seen the local journalist go in from across the car park.   She was spending more money in car parking and was going to have to find one either free or where she could park all day but she didn't plan on staying in one place though.  She had compiled a list of places she wanted to go and was going to ask around about the boy.

She was looking in the window of the shop next to the newsagents when she saw the local reporter come out in a hurry, pursued by the newsagent himself.

"Get out of here you little weasel, what have I ever done to you?"

"I was only giving you a chance to give your side of the story Jack, if you don't want to talk, I'm still going ahead with it."

"You do that Stevens, if you dare, see what happens.  Now go crawl back under your rock."

The newsagent shoved the reporter and carried on calling him names.  A small crowd nearby had stopped to look, including the local trainee plumber sat in a blue marked van eating his lunch.  He had been watching Rose, pretending to be looking in the other shop window and thought she was a bit of alright, maybe out of his league but possibly approachable if he met her in a bar.

Rose saw her chance.  She had been researching some of the locals while having coffee in the harbour café across the car park.

"Mr Marshall, are you ok?"

"What's it to you?   You're one of them aren't you?   I saw you talking to Hardy the other day, I'm not talking to you.  Go join your little friend over there."

He pointed to the other reporter who was making his way across the road.

"He's not my friend, he's a creep.  He tried to chat me up the other day at the press conference even when I told him I was with someone.  What was he getting you so upset over?"

"Non of your business whatever your name is."

"It's Rose and I'm really not like him at all.  Can I leave you my number?  If you want to talk."

"I won't.  Now, I have a shop to run."

A handful of people were just wandering inside and he disappeared after them. Rose thought that was interesting, the local reporter must have found something out but she didn't think it had anything to do with the boy's death.  She would leave it to him to write whatever he wanted, she wasn't interested in local disputes. Donna had taught her not to get caught up in local squabbles, the rest of the nation weren't interested unless it was in their own town or something that affected them in general.   The death of a small boy or even two girls was of interest as any parent would sympathise with the loss to a family.

It was almost one and Hardy had been out with Miller, Hardy learning that the boy's father had been released after an alibi had been offered for his unaccounted for absence from the family home on the night his son was killed.   He would never look at a certain hotel owner in the same light again.

"Sir, I'm off to lunch, can I bring you anything back or are you going to starve yourself?"

"What?  No, I'll go get something.  I'm quite capable of walking down a few steps and crossing a road.   Go, don't wait for me.   Oh by the way, I've been eliminating footprints from the hut, has your boy Tom ever been up there?"

"Not that I know of, why?"

"Just making sure they were Danny's.  What about your husband, he been up there?"

"I don't know what he does during the day, he could have taken my youngest for a walk up there."

"Ok, go get your lunch.  Oh and Miller, advance warning, I have to go somewhere next Monday so don't try calling me."

"You can't just go off in the middle of an investigation, Sir."

"It's to do with the investigation Miller, I don't have to explain myself to you."

Well it was sort of to do with the investigation, he wouldn't get through it if he didn't have the surgery.  Now that was covered, all he had to do was tell Tyler and get her to take him there.  Whether he liked it or not, she had appointed herself to make sure he got there so she could drive him.

Rose was walking across the harbour, leaving her car and taking advantage of getting value out of the car parking fee.  As she crossed the river, she saw a row of chalets to her right, a brightly coloured blue one standing out from the rest.  It looked nice and she wondered how much it cost to rent.  If she was going to stay and look after Hardy, it might be worth renting the place, they would get more privacy than a hotel and for two people, it probably would work out cheaper than two rooms or even one, if she were to move in with him.

Hardy was already sitting at a table as she arrived, a pot of tea in front of him with two cups. She sat opposite him.

"Go order some food Tyler I'm not eating on my own."

He gestured toward the catering stall behind him as all the tables were marked with the various stalls names. Just as she got back up, his food arrived, a jacket potato with tuna and salad and Rose thought she may as well have the same. She ordered and sat back down as he was eating.

"So, how did you get on then? Did you make that call we talked about?"

"Yes and I suppose you want to know when it is. Monday morning at nine in Exeter. Satisfied now? You can drive me there."

"Blimey, that's early. How long's it take to drive there?"

"Don't fuss, it's only about forty miles or so, it won't take an hour."

"In morning traffic detective? More like two hours at that time, you don't want to be late."

"I don't want to go at all. It was your idea."

"Yeah, just like last night was yours and look where that got us. We'd have to leave around seven or go on Sunday and stay in a hotel overnight."

"Alright, we'll leave at seven, no point in paying for another hotel. You said you were going back to London on Saturday, are you driving there?"

"No, I'm only renting a car, I came down with James. I'll get the train back, pick up my car and some more stuff and drive back down on Sunday."

"So are you keeping your hotel room?"

"Well I had to tell my editor I would pay for my own accommodation if I stayed so I'll have to find somewhere cheaper. Have you seen those holiday chalets down by the river? I was going to find out how you rented one, it would be cheaper."

"Good, I don't want the hotel owner thinking you're going to share my room. What about those chalets?"

"Well if we shared, it would work out cheaper plus it would be nearer for you, I could park there and you'd have more privacy."

"What makes you think I want to share with you, by the river of all places. You know I hate water."

"Well I'm not asking you to go in it, am I? Fine, I'll look for somewhere else where you won't be disturbed."

"Well you find out about it and I'll think it over."

Rose's food had arrived and she realised how hungry she was. Hardy was keen to get back to work so he said if he was unlucky he would see her at dinner. Rose smiled. She now wondered just how long they were going to keep this up – pretending to be annoyed with each other and if it was for the public's benefit only. She didn't mind, it was quite amusing if that's how he wanted to play this but after last night she knew he was close to melting. She got her tablet out and looked up holiday lets in Broadchurch, typing in blue chalet and was surprised how easily it came up. It was also reasonably priced and when she typed in the dates, it was vacant. She supposed the murder in the town had not had a host of people applying to rent it. She found the number of the letting agent and gave them a call.

She ended up agreeing to take it for the next six weeks on a weekly basis after she said she was booking it for the new town's detective inspector and gave his name and said he would pay the first weeks rental when he collected the keys and was told it would be ready from noon on Saturday. Good, she thought, he can sort that out while she went home and he could move his things in. She thought she may as well leave most of her stuff rather than take it home and he could move it with his.

Rose broke the news to him over dinner.

"You gave my name? What the hell for Tyler?"

"Because you'll have to collect the keys and it saved having to explain anything. Just go pick the keys up and pay the first week, I'll pay the second and we can take it in turns."

"Hold on Tyler, you were only looking after me while I went in hospital, I go on Monday in case you forgot. How long to you think it's going to take me to recover?"

"Well there's two bedrooms, you have one, I'll have the other. There's nothing wrong with sharing. I can cook you a meal every night as compensation."

"Some compensation that is, having to put up with you for six weeks. Throw in breakfast as well and I might consider it."

"You drive a hard bargain detective. You just got a house-mate."

"Huh, you can do the laundry too if there's a washing machine."

"There is, I'll teach you how to use it and how to iron your shirts."

"If I'm letting to share, you can see to the domestics. You do all that and I might let you stay rent free. The police are still paying for the hotel, it will be cheaper for them."

Rose laughed. "So you're not paying for it either, you cheat."

"Well they'll start making me pay soon anyway, I was only supposed to be here a short time, I never arranged any alternate accommodation. They would expect me to move out and once I move out of the hotel, they'll probably stop paying then."

"Well I'll leave my case and my laptop bag in your room on Saturday morning and you can take them down to the chalet for me when you get a taxi down there. I'll go back home and get another load of clothes and whatever else I need."

"The chalet doesn't look that big, do you expect it to be bigger on the inside or something? Don't bring too much with you."

"Well it doesn't look like you have a lot with you I should have plenty of room."

"I just choose to wear the same things. I have lots of white shirts, they've gone to the laundry."

Rose giggled. "Of course they have detective, we'll see just how many you have, you'd better get everything back by Saturday. Now if you buy me a drink I'll tell you about what I saw outside the harbour newsagents earlier."

Sitting her down with a drink, Hardy asked what was so interesting about what she had seen. She had just told him of the scuffle between the newsagent and the local reporter when Nigel Carter walked in and joined another man at the bar, sitting on a stool. Nigel looked around and spotted Rose sitting with Hardy. He thought his luck had changed until he saw the two of them, Hardy with his hand on her arm as he moved to sit next to her.

Feeling put out, he was now going to tell his boss that the detective was getting friendly with a blonde in the bar of The Traders. He didn't know who she was but Mark might do or Beth would. She was probably a reporter since he didn't think she looked like she was on holiday and loads of reporters were in town. She was getting very friendly with the town's new DI.

Rose though was taking no notice of who else was in the bar as Hardy moved over and sat next to her, first putting his hand on her arm then moving down to put it on her leg. She had opted to wear a short black skirt with black tights and a white sleeveless top that he could just about see down when he moved.

After two more drinks, Hardy sticking to non-alcoholic, he whispered to her. "I'll go to my room, you come up in ten minutes."

"I'll have to go to my room first and get a few things."

"Fine but if you set your alarm for morning, your phone will go out of the window and you'll get thrown out of the door, dressed or not. Get that?"

Rose smiled. "Touchy, just because you can't see a big red button marked 'Stop'. That's hardly my fault."

"Yes well, I don't need two alarms going off thanks."

He got up after finishing his drink, Becca looked at him. He hardly saw her, he had learned she had provided the dead boy's father with an alibi and he wasn't pleased. She had tried to chat him up when he had just arrived but he had turned her down. Maybe if he'd said yes, he could have added Mark Latimer to his growing list of suspects. Now Tyler had given him two more. Why had Miller's nephew and the newsagent been fighting?

He went up to his room, having tonight brought some bottled water back with him and already taken his pills. He had checked to see how many he had left and would just have enough or he would have had to get an emergency appointment with a local GP and he wanted no-one in the town to know what was wrong with him. He took his jacket off then his shirt, putting a grey t-shirt on and waited for his new girlfriend, well not that he was ever going to admit to her or anyone else she was.

Rose called in her room and got clean underwear, some wipes and turned the alarm on her phone off, not that she thought Hardy would follow through with his threat, well maybe not throw her out, the phone she wasn't sure about. She gathered a few more things and put them in her shoulder bag and picked up her keys. She went to knock on Hardy's door.
Chapter 6

Hardy had been thinking while he was waiting for Rose, mainly, what was he doing? He was more than contemplating letting her move in with him in a holiday chalet by the river, of all the places he would have chosen, had he even remotely been considering getting a place of his own to rent, by the river would have been the last place. What was she thinking of?

The fact that he might only be in it for two days scared him, why had he let her talk him into having that pacemaker fitted? He could have struggled on for a bit longer, fumbled his way through this investigation and maybe caught the killer this time instead of letting Tyler boss him around into going through with it. If he didn't make it, at least she could take the blame.

Then he stopped – if he didn't make it, how would it make her feel? She would accept the responsibility was hers for making him do it but he had agreed to it, reluctantly. He was just glad he had recently got his affairs in order. No, he had to get through this sooner or later and it appeared it was going to be sooner because now, he wanted Rose Tyler so badly he physically hurt at not been able to have her. Now he had a reason to get through it because he wasn't going to let her get the better of him.

She had challenged him to get her underwear off but what then? He couldn't do anything about it, not yet and that was where she had him, tormenting him but letting him watch her enjoy herself last night, not being able to join in. She was taunting him, making him have a life-saving operation just so he could finally have his way with her. Well he was going to make her suffer, once he recovered sufficiently and she might just regret encouraging him.

There was a knock on his door and he was just about to open it when he made a split second decision – to demolish the wall he had built up and actually be nice to her, well in private. In public, they would still appear as the worst of enemies because he didn't want to ruin either of their reputations. Still, if Tyler, sorry Rose wanted to still go with the banter, he would play along.

Rose had quickly changed and was just wearing a vest top, skirt and was now bare-legged with just a pair of soft black shoes on her feet.

"Hi, I'm not late for the party am I?" she grinned, putting her shoulder bag on the chair.

Hardy stepped up to her and put his arms around her waist. "You took your time, did you stop by someone else's room on the way here?"

He leaned down and kissed her neck as she put her arms around his. "Very funny, I'm next door and I don't think there's anyone else on this floor now anyway. I thought I'd give you time to get rid of anyone else you'd invited to your room. You did say you might find something better to do than watch me."

"I changed my mind."

He moved his hands and ran them up her back, feeling there was nothing underneath. Did she always dress like that? He pulled the thin straps of her vest top down and began kissing her shoulders as her hands made their way under his t-shirt and up his back. Then he stepped back and Rose pulled his t-shirt up, taking a good look at him. She thought he looked very fit, considering he was supposed to be ill. Hardy pulled down the zip of her skirt and it dropped to the floor, Rose stepped out of it, leaving her in just her skimpy underwear that she had challenged him to take off her.

He thought it wasn't going to be that much of a challenge. She helped him take off his t-shirt then unfastened his trousers but he lifted her off her feet, placing her on the bed.

"Ah, ah, if you're challenging me, I'm challenging you tonight. We need to get one thing straight Tyler, this stays in the bedroom, no kissing and touching in public, I don't want people thinking I've gone soft."

Rose looked at him. "You didn't object earlier when you were touching my leg, did you? We had an audience too, a man sat on a barstool."

"I wasn't looking at anyone else in the bar, I was looking down your top, you had a black bra on that you seem to have lost. Are you trying to deprive me of the pleasure of taking it off? You didn't have one on last night either, you're taking all the fun out of it."

"Well we can't have that can we? I'm getting to know more about you detective." She reached for his trousers again.

He pushed her from her kneeling position and hovered over her. "You first."

Eventually, he had met her challenge and she his, both getting beneath the covers but she still had to fight him to get his shorts off.

"If you don't give in soon, I might get tired and give up detective."

"Why don't you call me Alec?"

"Why don't you call me Rose?"

"Point taken. It's just since I worked with my ex, I find it awkward to use first names and I never really liked mine."

"Well when you're in hospital, I can hardly sit there holding your hand and calling you detective so I'll just have to get used to calling you Alec then unless I think of something better to call you. When you wake up from your operation, just don't call me Tess."

He smiled. "Why would I do that? While we're on the subject, there are things you need to know, if it doesn't work out."

Rose pushed him away, holding him at arms length. "Don't you go talking like that, do you hear? Don't you dare think you're getting out of me looking after you. How do you think it will make me feel, since I pushed you into it if you don't get through it. You're not pinning your demise on me Alec Hardy, so forget it."

"Don't you want the credit for getting rid of me Rose?"

"What? Oh no you don't. Just because you wouldn't make your own mind up to go get yourself fixed, don't blame it on me because you finally got pushed into it. You're only thinking like that to get out of having sex with me and to make me feel like if I'd left you alone, you wouldn't have the guts to go get it done. How long do you think you've got, if you don't have the pacemaker fitted? Huh? A month, six months, a year if you're lucky?"

He stared at her. "You think this is all about you? You think I'm having it done, getting myself sorted just so I can have sex with you? Has it occurred to you this is my punishment Rose? My punishment for letting a killer get away and having Lisa still missing? It is, I know it is and I'm here now, trying to make up for it by finding Danny's killer, hoping that will make it right. I might get through to the end of it without the operation. After that, I'm done, it doesn't matter any more."

He let go of her and laid on the pillow, staring at the ceiling.

"Alec Hardy, you don't get to give up, not when there are people who depend on you, care for you. Admit it, you wouldn't have bothered if I'd not come back to kick your butt, to remind you there are two families back in Sandbrook and one here, in Broadchurch who are depending on you to get them some justice. They want some closure."

"And what do you want Rose Tyler?"

Rose moved and leaned over him, taking his hand that was laid on his chest. "I want you, you plum. I've always wanted you and now you're talking about quitting before I get you, before we've even hardly got started. Don't quit on me Alec, don't quit on Pippa or Lisa and now Danny."

"I still might not make it Rose. Let me put the operation off, until at least I catch Danny's killer. I can do it, if you help me or is that more than your signed on for? Let me catch the killer then I'll get the operation."

"It might be too late to cancel it now."

"It won't. You can call them, tell them I've got the flu or something and I can't go in for it, ask for another date."

"How long Alec? How long are you going to put this off?"

"As long as it takes. Tell them I'll call when I get better. I can't go in now, I have to get this done. You're right, I can't quit on them now but it may be all over on Monday for me and I can't do that Rose, I'm scared. I'm scared of losing you, now I have you and not giving that closure to yet another family. You understand don't you?"

Rose shook her head. "No, I don't understand why you ever got like this Alec."

"It's not like I planned it. Ok maybe if I'd gone to the hospital that day when they pulled me out of the river, I may not have got as bad but I could have had the heart problem before that and not known about it, there's no way of knowing. I promise you, I will go as soon as this case is solved and if I make it, I'll get the Sandbrook case re-opened, somehow. Just not by telling Tess I'm sleeping with you."

Rose smiled. "Why should she care? She's the one who left you and if I'd known that, I would have made a play for you earlier."

"Would you? Maybe you were best staying away from me."

"Yeah? We were both miserable, we could have come to our senses."

"Is that what we've done now Rose? Finally come to our senses?"

He pulled her closer. "Just how miserable were you? More miserable with or without me?"

"What kind of question is that? Ok, maybe I was more miserable without you but only because I couldn't stop thinking about you and how miserable you made me every time we met."

"Oh, that was nothing compared to how I felt Rose Tyler. Do you know what you did to me? I yelled at everyone, I couldn't concentrate. You may be the whole reason why after it all collapsed on me that I gave up, because you left town."

"You could have called me, you knew where I worked."

"And admit everything to you? Oh, you would have just loved that, wouldn't you? Me admitting I can't live without you yet when we're together, we pretend we hate each other. Do you know how much I hate you right now?"

"About as much as I hate you for not saying anything to me. You let me leave, you could have asked me to stay."

"I knew I was going to be faced with getting a divorce, I didn't want you around to give Tess the grounds to cite you in the proceedings. It was better it was one-sided, she couldn't hold anything against me so it was quick. It would have got messy if you'd been involved in it, if she had named you."

"So you were doing it to protect me? You could have asked me if I wanted to get involved or not."

"Would you? Would you have stuck around and been called as the other woman? I didn't want to give her the satisfaction. I let her have it her way."

"What about when it was over?"

"You'd gone back to London. I knew you'd be back as soon as I hit the headlines again."

Rose smiled. "You could have told me."

"And spoil the fun? Come on Rose, we kept each other going, you know that."

"Yeah but we could have had so much fun together and we needn't have both been on our own."

"What about your job? We couldn't have stayed in Sandbrook and I wouldn't have survived in London."

"Why not? It's not that bad."

"No, we needed to keep our distance, I knew we'd meet again, eventually, it's only been a few months."

"Eight months Alec, almost nine."

"You kept count. Rose, it would have been no good, you thought we were already miserable, it would have been worse if you'd gone through what I did."

"But I could have made it easier for you. Why are you so stubborn?"

He couldn't answer her. "Let's just drop this shall we? It's over, I'm divorced, you're here and we might get friendly in the bedroom but we can't let this get in the way of our jobs, until it's all over."

"It's still no reason for you to suffer with your health."

"That's why I have you, to keep me out of trouble. You wanted the job, it's yours. You're not backing out are you?"

"No way Alec Hardy, you're not getting away this time. As for your operation, I hate the fact you're backing out of it but I know why you're doing it, I was pushing you. Have it when you're ready, I'll keep you out of trouble."

He pulled her closer and they kissed. "I was going to go through with it so I could have sex with you but that's beside the point."

Rose giggled and went to lay on him. "I'm going to find it difficult to keep you out of trouble, aren't I detective?"

"You have no idea Tyler," he replied as he felt her slide his shorts down.

The next morning, waking to only one alarm and a less bad-tempered Alec Hardy, Rose smiled across the pillow at him as he lay back down and slid over to him, settling on him.

"Morning detective, you seem in a better mood this morning."

"I'd be better if you turned the alarm off since you ended up on that side of the bed. How did you even get over there? You went to sleep on me."

"I guess I moved, not that you weren't comfortable. Maybe you should try keeping hold of me to stop me moving?"

Alec smiled. "Are you joking? I was out like a light. You do know I feel better already. I'll leave you that number today for the hospital."

"Alec, they won't take it from me that you're not going through with it. Look, it's only Wednesday, think about it. Why don't you talk to the consultant first, ask if they recommend putting it off to improve your chances? I can drive you over there if you want?"

"Alright, I'll try, if I can find out who it is."

"Did they say they would actually do it on Monday or is it just an appointment to see about having it done?"

"No Rose, it's the real thing, I already got the 'we don't know if you'll survive if you have it but you won't survive if you don't' speech. Sorry Rose, I didn't mean to be so hard on you, I just didn't want to get involved with you after I found out."

Rose looked at him. "That's not fair Alec, you should have still told me. What am I supposed to do now? Look after you until this case is done and watch you get worse, because you will. This case could finish you, at least with the operation, you have more of a chance."

"Do I? I'd say I had about the same any way you look at it."

He put both his arms around her as she nuzzled his neck.

"I could put a big red mark there Alec, if I wanted."

"Don't you dare, you'll get one twice as big. We're still enemies outside this hotel."

They had both put their underwear back on before going to sleep, Alec put his hand up the back of her vest, kissing her neck.

"Come on Rose, I still have to go to work."

Rose moved slightly, looking at him and smoothing her hand on his chin.

"Are you going to get rid of that?"

"I wasn't planning on it though I could give it a trim, if it pleases you. Now are you going to let me get out of bed?"

Ten minutes later, Rose finally let him go. "Please, talk to the hospital before you put your operation off. Maybe you can go on Monday and talk to them first and if you're not happy, put it off then but don't put it off altogether, please Alec."

"Ok, I'll go and talk to them but don't you threaten to tie me to the bed to get me to go through with it, right?"

Rose smiled as he got out of bed. At least he wasn't refusing to go.

Alec went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. The red that had been around his eyes was fading, he was getting some sleep and he wasn't waking in terror, remembering the day he found Pippa. She had been around the same age as his daughter when she went missing and every night since he had found her, it terrorised him. Now Rose was helping him, he could come to terms with it. He wasn't going to give up now.


Rose made some more enquiries over the next few days, Alec did battle with DS Miller but since he had Rose to go back to in the evenings, he got through it. Friday night, Rose was packing when Alec knocked on her door.

"Hi, come in. I was going to bring my case and my laptop bag to your room. I gave you the letting agent's address, didn't I?"

"Yes, you've told me, three times. I'll take care of it. Now come here and snog me before we go for dinner. Are you sure you have to go?"

Rose giggled. "You were trying to get rid of me a few days ago if I remember correctly. You soon changed your mind."

"Yes, well, you could say I had a change of heart, with some help. You made me see I shouldn't give up. After talking with the hospital, I can still back out on Monday but you're not going to let me are you?"

Rose put her arms around his waist. "Alec, I know you're scared, so am I, I don't want to lose you but if it can make you well again, then you have to take a chance with it."

"I can take a chance after I've solved this case Rose, a few days or weeks is not going to make any difference. I promise I'll take care of myself and you'll be watching me, what can I do? I have to finish this Rose, I have to get justice for Danny. Will you help me?"

"You mean work together? Is that even allowed?"

Alec smiled. "Not officially. You help me by doing what you do best, talk, no matter how small. You help me and you can have the exclusive, how we solved the case and the truth about Sandbrook but you know most of that. You talk to the families, tell them I haven't give up yet."

"I will, leave it to me. Will you be ok tomorrow?"

"I'll be fine, why don't I wait for you coming back before I move out of here? It will already cost another day anyway. I can go get a few hours in at the station since I'm off on Monday."

"Yeah, I suppose it makes sense. Come to the railway station in the morning with me?"

"Why not. Don't you get all soppy on me when you're getting on that train though."

"I'll try not to so don't you either. I'll call you when I get home."

"Just call me when you're on your way back."

After dinner and a few drinks, Rose took everything to Alec's room.

"I'll still have to pretend I hate you or my editor will pull the plug and make me go back. I can't tell anyone until this is all over."

"You're not the only one you know. If my boss finds out I'm sleeping with a big city reporter, well, it won't be good."

There was no pretending that night, Alec was tempted to give in and try and make something of it but Rose said they had waited the last few nights, a bit longer wouldn't make any difference. She fell asleep on him, Alec smiling to himself as he held her in his arms but she wormed her way out again when he woke up and he made a point of waking her.

"Come on, you have a train to catch. The sooner you get there, the sooner you can get back. Is anyone meeting you at the other end?"

"Yeah, James said he would pick me up, since he left me here. It wasn't his idea to come down with me, the editor is his sister. She thought it would be a good idea, make me forget about you."

"So everyone knew about me?"

"Only how much you infuriated me."

"Do I still get to you?" he asked, kissing her neck.

"You know you do."

"Good, just you remember that."

They had ten minutes to wait for the train to London, there were a few people on the platform but they managed to walk to the end of the platform for a little privacy in a corner. Rose reached up to kiss him as he propped her against the wall.

"Be careful Alec, don't you go chasing any suspects while I'm gone."

"I won't, just don't take too long coming back."

"Aw, you won't have time to miss me, detective."

Alec saw the train approaching in the distance and steered her back up the platform. Then he whispered in her ear, "I love you Rose."

They just had time for one kiss as the train pulled in and the doors opened. She stepped on board then turned around, sneaking a quick kiss to the amusement of the train guard. As the doors were closing she just said, "I love you too Alec."

She smiled all the way to London.

Chapter 7
Once on the train, Rose called James.

"Hey you, I'm on the train, it gets in around eleven thirty, are you still meeting me?"

"Yeah, of course I am, just because you ran off with that infuriating detective."

"I'm not talking about this on the phone James, you can lecture me all you like, it won't change anything and I haven't run off with him."

"So, he's the reason you're staying in Broadchurch though, Donna told me."

"What's your sister been telling you James? Look, we'll talk when you pick me up. I have to let my mum know I'm on my way back. Thanks for still agreeing to meet me."

"Ok, we'll talk when you get here but I don't know what you can tell me Rose, I'm disappointed."

Rose was aware of her surroundings. Even though she had a seat to herself, people were all around, some with earphones in, some on their laptops or tablets, some reading books.

"I said I was sorry James, what to do you want me to say?"

"That you're not going back there."

"I can't say that. Besides, I left my stuff there, I've rented a holiday chalet for six weeks since I agreed to pay for my own accommodation, it was cheaper than the hotel."

She thought she had best leave out the fact she was actually sharing and she hadn't yet paid anything. The letting agents only agreed to the terms because she had used Hardy's name and they didn't want to cross the town's newest, gruffest detective since he had hauled one half of the town in for questioning and the other half were on his hit-list.

After her call to James, she sent Alec a message. She got one back. "Missing you already."

Rose smiled. This was a far cry from their first tense kiss the other night and it seemed strange how a bit of a shock had changed the two of them. She hadn't had the time to let his words he was very ill sink in before all joking or whatever it had been between them had been dropped like a hot potato. Something deep inside her knew she was already head over heels with the man, since their first meeting but now, all that mattered was seeing him through this.

It still hurt that he hadn't told her before, about anything. His health, his divorce, him wanting to get her into bed or anywhere else, that he'd wanted to have sex with her and had left it too late. After she had finally left Sandbrook, she had put it down to the fact he'd had enough of women and thought she was as bad as his now ex wife.

Now it was the beginning of August, just about nine months after she had dragged herself back to London after giving in to pressure from Donna and now her editor was letting her do it again, stay behind with the promise of a big story at Alec's expense only this time, they were both on the same side. They were not going to let Danny Latimer's killer get away, not like Pippa's and possibly Lisa's. If Alec did get through this, she was going to encourage him to go back and solve the other case and if they worked together, maybe they would get to the truth.

She decided she would support his decision to maybe put off his operation though she didn't want him to suffer if he did. The first sign of him getting worse, she would drag him to the nearest hospital but first, they would both hear the consultant out to find out what his chances were. They had just finally settled their differences and she wasn't about to give him up that easily. They had both been a pair of idiots. It had been plain to everyone else how they felt about each other, all except to them.

While Rose was on the train, Alec had wandered down to his office and closed the door, staring at a pile of folders on his desk. Anyone with the smallest of records had been put to the top of the list. It had been over a week, they were getting nowhere. Rose had been giving him tips during the week and he was getting the credit for them, which was a bit unfair he supposed but they were a team now, she had insisted she would use her reporting skills to help and she had kept her word. Rose had found out things he couldn't have got anywhere near and people had been surprised they had got caught out, never suspecting the reporter from out of town and the detective were actually working together. It was a well known fact that the two hated each other.

He was surprised she had finally got the Latimers to agree to open up to her yesterday. He had got back to the hotel and found her grinning, revealing to him that Beth Latimer had given her an exclusive and it would be all over Monday's edition of The Herald. She had even said how her editor was pleased and had agreed to let the family see what was being written before printing and when Rose got back, she would be meeting with the family that evening. He had hoped they would spend a quiet evening in their new rented chalet but Rose had assured him it wouldn't take long.

He supposed he had to give her a moment of glory. Just after twelve, he made his way to the rental agency and since they knew who he was, he soon had the keys after paying a week in advance and being told his wife had said they wanted two keys. He would be having words with Rose when she got back, what exactly had she told them? Now it would be all over town that his wife was here but his ex was back in Sandbrook and everyone would think he had remarried and if Tess got to know, well he didn't want to think about it.

He would have to play it down and say the agency had misheard. He did smile all the way back to the station though but if Miller found out, he wouldn't hear the end of it. He called into the personnel office but no-one was there so he would have to change his address on Tuesday and tell them he moved out on Sunday since he was well into another day at the hotel. He got a message from Rose to say she had finally got home.

James had been waiting outside Waterloo station in London, having to pay for an hour's parking almost five minutes away and made his way to the platform after he looked it up on the arrivals board when the barrier was opened and waited for her walking up the ramp. He saw her through the crowd, no luggage, which meant he was right and she had left her things behind. He was half hoping she had been joking.

"Hi Rose, back in one piece? Come on I've had to park a bit further away, it is Saturday, it was busy."

"Hi James, thanks for coming. I need to stop by Donna's office first and get her approval on something."

"If you mean the Latimer story, she's already approved it. She left it to me to tell you to go ahead and tell them. If they don't approve, just ring me and I'll stop it. Are you ok Rose? You look different."

They had reached the car park and James opened the doors.

"I'm fine, it's just facing my mum, I've not told her I'm staying in Broadchurch."

"Well rather you than me, from what I've seen and heard about her."

Rose smiled. All her friends knew Jackie Tyler's reputation. They arrived behind the block of flats Rose lived with her mother.

"I don't know why you still live here Rose, you can afford something better can't you?"

"I grew up here James, we know everyone and mum won't move, not unless they're knocking the place down. Besides, I'm always away so it doesn't make sense to live on my own."

"Are you going to live on your own in Broadchurch for the next few weeks Rose?"

Rose went to open the door but James leaned over and stopped her. "Answer me this Rose. Why are you doing this to yourself? Why do you let Hardy get to you so much?"

"Why does everything I do have to involve him? I want to see this through and I can't do it from London, that's all there is to it, despite what you may think. I'm sorry James but I never led you on. You wanted to be friends, I'd still like that, if you want?"

"I said I wanted to be friends and I still do. It was me who tried to make more out of it, I'm sorry Rose. You didn't encourage me, it was all my own doing, I know how you felt about Hardy, I was no competition for him. I still don't know what you see in him though, he made you miserable."

"I know but I think it's got beyond that now James, I just want to make sure he does right by the family this time."

"I know and I don't blame you, just don't say I didn't warn you."

Rose leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Look after yourself spaceman. Just why does Donna call you that anyway?"

James smiled. "I used to borrow my grandad's telescope and look at the stars when I was a kid. Then he bought me an astronomy set when I was twelve. I still like to stare up at the sky and imagine what it's like out there. You never know Rose, one day, we could be out there."

Rose said goodbye and went to face her mother, who noticed her daughter was without her luggage.

"What, no washing? Where's all your stuff, did you leave it on the train or is James behind you carrying it for you? He's like a lost puppy. Honestly Rose, why do you string him along?"

"I don't string him along, we're friends, that's all. I left my things at the hotel, I'm going back."

"What? Did Donna agree to it or are you doing it on your own?"

"She agreed. I promised her a really good story out of it and there's going to be one on Monday, once I get approval of the victim's family."

"What about Hardy? Did he kick you out of his town?"

"Mum, we're not in the wild west, he can't kick me out of town as you put it. I had to agree to pay my own way though so I'm renting a holiday cottage by the river but I'm going to share it with someone. I have to keep the costs down."

"Oh, maybe I could come down for a few days then, I could do with a holiday."

"Not when I'm working Mum." She cringed at the thought of her mother meeting the man who had made her daughter's life a misery for so long.

"That's no excuse. What aren't you telling me? You've not found a man to share with have you?" She saw the look on Rose's face.

"No, don't tell me, you're taking up with him aren't you? Rose, when are you going to learn? He's no good for you."

"Just leave it Mum. I said I was going to make sure he got it right this time and I'm not letting him get away with letting this family down."

"You still haven't answered my question though. Are you sharing a holiday cottage with Hardy?"

Rose knew better than to lie to her mother or to try and get out of it. "Yes and you'd better not tell anyone, especially Donna. We're just sharing, nothing more. We're not having sex if that's what you mean. I agreed to help him solve the case and since we were both paying for hotel rooms, it was cheaper to rent somewhere instead of people in the hotel thinking we were together."

"Oh but are you together, at all?"

Rose walked into the kitchen. She was already wasting valuable time since she still had to go see the Latimers when she got back. Switching the kettle on and spooning some coffee into a mug, she went into her room and got her other case from the top of the wardrobe. Jackie followed her and stood in the doorway.

"Don't get involved with him Sweetheart, he's not worth getting upset over."

"I'm not upset Mum, really. He doesn't bother me anymore, we've sort of got a truce. I'm keeping him from doing something really stupid and making sure he keeps his word."

"I hope you know what you're doing. You'll come crying back to me when he does upset you again. What are you going to do when he solves it, if he ever does?"

She hadn't thought long term, it all depended on what he decided on Monday at the hospital.

"I'll wait and see what happens, I'll probably just come back here." There was no point admitting at this stage that she may stay with him.

Rose set off back to Broadchurch just after two and sent Alec a text saying she was on her way. She got a text back just saying 'Good, I miss you.'

Just over two hours later, after she stopped for coffee and a sandwich, Rose made her way back to the hotel, getting a funny look from Becca.

"Thought you'd left and gone back to London?"

"I'm here to help Alec Hardy move, I take it he's told you he's leaving? I left my stuff with him while I went back to London to get my car and some more stuff."

"He told me, I'm a bit disappointed losing the revenue you know. I could have given you both a good rate for however long you stay here."

"It's not that, really and I'm sure he would have stayed, it's just well, you'll have to ask him about his reasons for leaving. Me, I'm on a budget and since I've found somewhere down by the harbour, I won't have to pay to park my car."

"So are you and the detective sharing then?"

Rose had been put on the spot and wasn't sure if Alec would like her to tell the hotel owner, word would soon get around.

"I'm a reporter Becca, I know when I'm being interviewed. Like I said, you'll have to ask him his reasons."

Becca shook her head and supposed she wouldn't get anything out of the reporter. She had seen the two of them the last few days, a far cry from when they had been arguing the first time she had seen them together. Becca smiled as she saw Rose take the stairs. As if no-one had seen the reporter and the detective in the bar, him touching her at every opportunity he got. They had gone from sitting on separate tables to them eagerly awaiting for the other to arrive and practically sitting on top of each other. Last night, she had seen Hardy's hand on the reporter's leg and it wasn't there accidentally.

Alec was pacing his room, waiting for Rose's arrival since she said she was leaving the service station what seemed like hours ago. Then there was a knock on his door and he swallowed. What if it wasn't Rose? What if she'd changed her mind and turned back and gone home and it was Becca with a message? If she had changed her mind about taking him on, he knew he couldn't get through this. He opened the door to find his new girlfriend standing there, a big smile on her face.

Before she could even get into his room, he had his arms around her and they were kissing.

"Did you get everything you needed from home?"

He let her go and allowed her inside.

"Yeah, did you get the keys?"

Alec smiled. "You cheated, you told the letting agent you were my wife."

"Well I couldn't give my name and I never said I was your wife, just I was booking it for you and there were two of us. They must have assumed I was your wife. You're not mad at me are you?"

Alec looked at her. She was young, she was blonde, was there any reason people would not be impressed at him bagging such a prize? He had changed his tune about her in a few days but it had always been there, wondering what it would be like to introduce the stunning Rose Tyler, the woman who had been hounding him about the Sandbrook case, as his girlfriend or better still, his wife. No, he wasn't quite ready for the last bit, not yet, it was too soon after his divorce and Tess could still accuse him of having an affair with Rose during the investigation and he had spent a lot of time keeping his distance so his ex would not suspect he had a thing for the reporter.

He knew if the truth were to be told, one of the main reasons he had kept his distance was what he had told Rose, he didn't want his then wife involving her but he also didn't want their daughter to find out that her mother was having an affair, she would have been devastated to find out they both were. At least keeping away from Rose, despite Daisy finding out her mother had been seeing another man, he couldn't be accused of seeing anyone.

He kissed her again. "No, I'm not mad at you. Just don't do it again without warning me first."

They took all their luggage down to Rose's car and drove around to their new place.

Rose had found out to turn off into a field just out of town and could park behind the chalet. It was now after five and Rose still had to go see the Latimers. So Alec agreed to walk back up to the mini-market just up the road and get essentials like milk and tea and Rose would go see the boy's family and would call at the takeaway on her way back.

Once she arrived at the boy's home, Chloe let her in.

"Sorry I'm so late, I had something to do, I can come back another time if you'd like?"

"No, it's fine Miss Tyler. Can you show us the article you wrote?" Beth Latimer asked.

Rose nodded and got her tablet out of her shoulder bag. "Please, call me Rose. If there's anything you don't like then please, let me know and I'll change it. We just want people to know your story, so they won't forget. I know things like this make people lose interest but something like the story you are telling, helps them remember."

"Maybe we should clear it with DI Hardy first?" Beth Latimer asked.

"I don't think there's any need, you're not saying any more than they already know, nothing about the investigation so it doesn't need his approval."

The family looked at each other. It was Mark that spoke. "Ok, go ahead and print it, we just want to find out who did this."

He handed the tablet back to her and she logged into the paper and pressed the 'Send' button.

Rose was about to leave. Beth spoke up. "Can you put me in touch with the mother of that girl who was killed in Hardy's last case?"

"Sure, I'll make a call for you. Beth, this is different, I'm sure he'll catch the killer this time."

"Just how sure are you of that?"

Rose wanted to say because she was sleeping with the said detective but knew it would just complicate things.

"Because I'll see you get justice."

While Rose had been out, Alec had got a few groceries, not knowing if he was going to go ahead with his operation or not on Monday. If he went and it went wrong, well he didn't want to think of leaving Rose on her own, knowing she was the only reason he was doing it. She called him to ask what he wanted to eat and was back twenty minutes later.

After finally unpacking, Alec was grinning that he had been right and they had to use both wardrobes.

"Don't you look so smug, detective, I still had to leave some stuff behind."

"Really Rose? You need a wardrobe the size of Narnia. I told you this chalet was not bigger on the inside."

He put his arms around her waist. "Come here Rose, why don't we go for a drink then have an early night?"

"Can't argue with that detective."

They kissed again then walked across the footbridge to the pub that was almost next door to them. As they walked in, they didn't see Beth Latimer sat having a drink with Ellie Miller, the latter's eyes lighting up seeing the two of them walking in, Alec's arm around Rose's waist.

Chapter 8

As they walked back over the footbridge, the harbour lights reflected in the river, Rose stopped in the middle and turned to Alec, putting her arms around his neck.

"Everyone's gonna have to get used to seeing us together detective, I don't want to hide."

"Rose, I don't think the town is ready for this, they barely tolerate me already. I'm not one for starting rumours. It will just make things worse if we go public with this."

"Are you saying we still have to look like we're fighting when we're out?"

"Well maybe not fighting exactly but it won't help either of us if the word gets out we're involved with each other. Let's just agree to keep it quiet, until this is over. We can go out of town, maybe we should go out for the day tomorrow?"

"Ok but you're not sweeping me under the carpet Alec, we're in this together now, whether everyone likes it or not."

She reached up and kissed him.

"That's not helping Rose," he grinned.

"Well tough cheese, I could stand here and snog you to death."

"Well that's better than what I might die of."

Her mood soured. "Stop talking like that. We agreed you'd wait if your chances weren't that good on Monday. I'm not going to let you do anything stupid that would put you in danger so if you're thinking of chasing any suspects, forget it, let someone else do it."

Alec did a mock salute and leaned down to kiss her again. "Bossy knickers."

"Don't you forget it, grumpy arse."

He took her hand as she led the way across the rest of the narrow footbridge, then around the side of the restaurant on the riverbank and around to the path that led to the gate of their chalet. They hadn't seen Ellie Miller standing in the car park watching them.

Ellie Miller had been a little surprised to see Hardy with whom she knew for a fact was his nemesis, The Herald's top reporter, Rose Tyler, who had taken great pleasure in hanging Hardy out to dry over his last case. She knew the reporter had been the last to give up on the Sandbrook murder and the disappearance of another young woman and had given him a well deserved hard time over it. She thought she had caught a glimpse of the two of them the other day when Hardy had told her to go get lunch when she had come back early, they had been sitting together across the way from the station.

Now the two of them were standing kissing in the middle of a footbridge leading to some holiday chalets and surmised the two of them must be shacked up together or one of them was renting one of the chalets and the other was sneaking in. Not that they were doing any good at sneaking, kissing in public and she had seen Hardy holding onto the blonde when they had left like he wasn't going to let her out of his sight for a second longer than he had to.

This was going to be interesting and she was sure it was against regulations for the leading senior investigator of a murder case to be having an affair with a reporter. She dreaded to think what Hardy would tell the woman while they were having sex. Was the reporter just using him though? Maybe not, judging she had kissed him first. What did she see in him?

Rose woke up first the following morning and tried not to disturb him as he settled back on the pillow. She thought how peaceful he was and how young he could look if he got rid of his stupid scruffy beard but it did make him look sexy. She remembered the first time they had met, it seemed so long ago now, he didn't have it then and she had thought he was that actor she liked until he had told her in no uncertain terms who he was and for her to get the hell away from the family.

She was sitting on the edge of the bed putting her pink silky robe on when she felt his hand on her back.

"Where are you sneaking off to Tyler?"

Rose smiled without turning around. "Just going to make you some tea, I hope you got decaff teabags, you need to keep from getting stressed out if you're going ahead with that surgery tomorrow."

Alec sat up and reached his arms around her, kissing her neck.

"Come back here and stop me getting stressed then." He pulled her backwards.

Rose turned around onto her knees and he unfastened the tie on her robe, running his fingers over the gap her vest was making around her middle. She climbed back onto him as he pulled the covers back.

Half an hour later, after they had fooled around again, Rose was making tea and said they should go shopping but Alec said to wait since they were going to be out the next day. They got dressed and went to the café across the harbour then Rose drove them up the coast to a small seaside town across the border in Devon and they took a ride on an old tramway, Alec sitting rather uncomfortably in the small seats so after a walk around the village the tram went to, having lunch at a nearby pub they sat upstairs going back so he could sprawl out.

Once they had returned to the car Rose said they should have brought some things with them, they were halfway to Exeter.

"Well, what do we need? Just a change of clothes, we can get them here if you don't want to drive back. I suppose it makes sense since we're so close. We'll look around for a hotel, we can go in the superstore and get what we need."

They had conveniently parked near a large supermarket so since the car parking was almost up, Rose drove round and they went inside, Alec going off to the menswear department and getting a plain blue t-shirt, socks and some boxer shorts and Rose getting what she needed and some toiletries for the two of them and Alec picked out an overnight bag. They went into the store café for a late afternoon drink just before the store closed and looked up local hotels, finding one just on the seafront that had car parking space.

Booking in under just Alec's name, they told the owner they had to leave before breakfast but she said breakfast was from seven thirty and even though he couldn't really have much, he insisted Rose got hers and he would just have some toast. Sitting in the bar that evening, he had plenty to say to Rose.

"I've taken care of everything, there's nothing you need to do. If I don't make it, if I go ahead tomorrow Tess will be informed but you don't have to speak to her. Don't let her bully you into staying away when they bury me, you've more right to be there than she has and please Rose, don't start a fight with her." He smiled at the thought of Rose and Tess going head to head, they were both feisty.

"I know what I would like to do to her, treating you like she did."

"Come on Rose, you were just as bad. I used to fight with you more than I did with her, anyone would have thought it was us that were married. She suspected you know."

"What? About you having an affair with me?" Rose spluttered.

"Yes, she hinted a few times and I told her you were the last person I would think of to have an affair with."

"Well thanks, that makes me feel a whole lot better about it."

"I had to put on a good show Rose, throw her off the idea or she would have brought you into the divorce, I didn't want that but the real reason was, I didn't want Daisy to find out. It's too late now she knows but bringing you into the equation, I don't know what it would have done. I was trying to protect you both."

"So all that time, you had feelings for me and never said anything?"

Alec didn't answer.

"That's what made you ill, that and nearly drowning. You were hiding your true feelings for me, balancing your home life that was in ruins and trying to solve a murder and a disappearance. I'm so sorry Alec, I had no idea. I mean I saw you arguing with Tess but I thought that had to do with work. If I'd only known, I wouldn't have been so hard on you."

"I needed you to be, you kept me going. With Tess, it was bitterness at finding out she was cheating but you, you were my ally, you were out to make me solve that case. Anyway, it's done with now and if I go ahead tomorrow and I don't pull through, you know. I've always loved you Rose, since the day we met."

Rose took his hand. "I know, why do you think I was being such a pain?"

They finished their drinks and went to their room, Rose went to look out of the window.

"If we stay in Broadchurch after you solve Danny's murder, I want a house on the cliff, overlooking the sea."

"You know I hate the water."

"Yeah but we're renting a chalet on the river, you could step out of the door and into it but you didn't seem to mind."

"You didn't give me much of a choice if I remember correctly, you booked it in my name and practically said you were my wife. Is that a bit of wishful thinking on your part Tyler?"

"Well I do get tired of you calling me Tyler all the time but I hardly thought you'd be wanting to get tied down so soon after your divorce. It would give Tess the wrong idea or maybe the idea you were actually having an affair with me back then. We did squabble like an old married couple."

He put his arms around her from behind and kissed her neck.

"I was only trying to throw her off the scent. It worked."

"We could have kept it a secret you know."

"I'm hopeless at secrets."

He let go and pulled the curtains over and picked her up, placing her on the bed. He took his shirt off and went to pull her t-shirt up then unfastened her trousers.

"Better set your alarm for six thirty Alec, we have to be ready to go after breakfast. If I set my alarm, I don't want you throwing my phone into the sea."

Alec smiled as he finished undressing her then she helped him down to his boxer shorts.

"Rose, if this is going to be our last night, I want you properly, then I can go in peace."

"Shut up Alec, this is not going to be our last night so don't you even think it. We'll have lots of time, just because you were too stubborn to admit how you felt before. I never said anything because of Tess. This should be a reason for you to get through it."

He looked at her and turned out the light. "You can go on top but we don't fool around tonight Tyler. I want you."

He rolled onto his back, bringing Rose with him. "Ok detective, if you want to choose how you go, don't say I didn't warn you."

Amazingly, he survived the night, mainly because Rose was gentle with him and did all the work but he felt happier when he finally fell asleep. He drifted off, imagining getting through the surgery and going to bed every night with Rose then waking up with her because he did love her. If she wanted a home overlooking the sea, he could live with that because he wanted to spend his remaining time with her if he didn't go for the surgery and put it off.

After a quick breakfast, Rose opting just to have cereal and toast since that was all Alec was having, they set off to cover the remaining distance to the hospital in Exeter, only taking them half an hour but getting caught up near the hospital but Rose spotted a car park and they could walk the distance faster than wait in a traffic jam. Fortunately, Alec had the details of where he was to report to and they had time to spare. He was told to wait and then summoned into a room, Rose waiting outside but when the consultant came in, he said he wanted his girlfriend to be present.

He was given the options and was being expected to go ahead since he had constantly put it off and had moved to another area, the consultant rather put out he was still debating whether to go ahead or not since he had literally jumped the queue to be accommodated there. They were given a few minutes to discuss it.

"This is it Alec, you're here now. It sounds like your chances are good, you heard what she said. If you get worse or have an attack, it lessens those chances and I don't want to watch you get worse. Last night, with you, it was amazing and I want to be with you. Please Alec, do this for me if not for yourself and think of Daisy. What is it with you and women who have flowers in their names?"

Alec smiled and took her hand. "You're the best thing that happened to me Rose, you know that and I regret what happened. I could put this off, solve the case and come back but I might be worse, I might not have as good a chance. Ok, let's get it over with and if I die, I'll come back and haunt you."

"Never expected any less detective."

"Good because when this case is over, I'm not calling you Tyler any more since you like to pretend you're my wife, see how you like being stuck actually being it."

"Is that a proposal detective? A strange place to be asking me."

"Then shut up and say yes then the surgeon can get on with it. Geez Rose, you're hard work sometimes."

"Do I get an engagement ring or are you going to keep hiding me?"

"Let's get this over with first, you may not have to worry about that but if you say yes, then I'll go happy."

"I thought you wanted to go in bed last night?"

"I did but you were too easy on me."

"Right, that does it, next time I won't be."

They were interrupted by the consultant coming back in who thought they'd had enough time to discuss things.

"Ok, I'll go ahead but I'm not staying in any longer than I have to. How long does it take?"

The consultant looked at the two of them who were holding hands.

"Not long, it's not an difficult procedure but there are some risks but since health wise, you've nothing else wrong with you, maybe an hour for the surgery if nothing goes wrong and an hour or two to recover but we'd like you to stay in for a few days to monitor you."

She could see that wasn't going to be one of his chosen options.

"What about if there's someone to look after him? Can he be discharged the same day?" Rose asked.

"I'd advise against it but if you are willing to be responsible for him, he'll have to discharge himself and if anything happens, you'll have to get him to the nearest hospital."

"I'll risk it, I don't fancy your chances of keeping him here."

The consultant smiled. "I didn't think so, since he's put it off for so long. You're going to have your hands full with him."

"I know, it comes with the job." She squeezed his hand.

They were shown to the ward and the nurse pulled the curtain around the bed and spoke to Rose.

"You can wait with him while we come to take him to the theatre. After surgery, we'll take him to recovery, you can bring his things with you, I'll get you something to put them in."

The nurse left and Alec handed his wallet, his phones and his watch to Rose. He called out from behind the curtain since he didn't think it appropriate for Rose to be seen getting him undressed.

"If Miller calls don't answer her, she'll ask a lot of questions. Just be here when I wake up, that's all I ask and if I don't then I love you Rose Tyler."

He got into the bed, Rose smiling at the gown he was wearing since it wasn't one with a big gap at the back.

"Your mind is in the gutter Tyler and for your information, I still have my shorts on."

Rose giggled. "Then you don't mind if I check do you?" She pretended to pull the covers back and he tapped her hand as the nurse came back in.

"Don't mind my fiancée, she was just annoyed I wouldn't let her help me get into bed."

The nurse just smiled. Rose expected she saw worse than that and he had just told her they were engaged. She just hoped she knew what she was doing and that he would come out of this. They took him down for surgery, Rose following and he had a few minutes to wait so Rose leaned over him and kissed him.

"You'd better come out of there detective or if you think Tess would be annoyed with you, I'm twice as bad."

"Don't I know it Tyler. I love you Rose."

She kissed him again. "I love you too Alec and I'm sorry, for everything I put you through."

"I know, so am I and we should have got together a long time ago but I'll make it up to you."

"You'd better."

Alec was wheeled through the door and she just hoped she would see him again. When she did, she would find out if he had actually meant what he'd said about marrying her or if it was just to make them both feel better. Was she ready for marriage? Was she ready to admit they were together to her mother? The thought of Jackie Tyler being Alec Hardy's mother-in-law was terrifying but also amusing and Rose sat down outside the double doors and waited, smiling at the thought. She had just got engaged.

Just over an hour later, Rose had been to the coffee machine and was just closing her eyes when his work phone rang, the display reading 'Miller' so Rose was just going to ignore it but when it rang again, she thought she had best answer it.

"Alec Hardy's phone."

"What? Who's that? Is that Rose Tyler?"

"Yeah, Alec's busy right now, can I take a message?"

"Tell him to get his arse back to the station, the chief wants him for going AWOL or he'd better have a damn good excuse for not being here."

Rose had to improvise. "He has. I gave him some leads and we're going after them."

"What? Come off it, Hardy following your leads, of all people? Well they'd better be good and why didn't he call me?"

"You'll have to ask him that DS Miller."

"I would, if he answered his own bloody phone instead of taking the coward's way out and giving it to you. I saw you two the other night, snogging on that bridge. What are you up to?"

"Nothing, it's no-one's business."

"I could arrest you both for causing a public scene."

"There was no-one there, well maybe except for you, apparently. I have to go now, I'll give him your message."

She put the phone away as the door opened and the same nurse came out.

"You can follow me to the recovery room, sorry, I didn't catch your name."

"It's Rose. He's ok then?"

"He's going to be fine, no problems, he'll just be out for a while."

Rose was shown to his cubicle and saw all the machines around him and a breathing tube. The nurse saw the look on her face.

"He's not hooked up to them all, it's just a precaution. He'll wake up on his own, just let us know but we'll give him an hour then we can wake him."

"It's ok, I'll wake him, he's a bit of a grump. He'll probably threaten to throw you out."

The nurse smiled and left them thinking the woman would probably have her own methods of waking him and wasn't going to look.

Rose was sitting facing him when he opened his eyes.

"Can't get rid of you can I?" he asked, taking her hand.

"Nope, your sort of stuck with me detective."

"You're really going to have to stop calling me that Tyler."

"Ok grumpy arse, whatever you say."

"Bossy knickers, come here and give me a kiss."

After persuading him to rest for a few hours, Rose got his medication and instructions he was to rest, knowing there was little chance of that ever happening. On the way back to Broadchurch, she had given him his phone and told him he'd better call his DS, having to admit she had answered the phone to her.

"I did tell you not to Rose, now I'll have some explaining to do."

"Good, get used to it, you're not sweeping me under the carpet."

"I wasn't going to, I was just going to wait until this was all over and it wouldn't matter. Do you really want to stay in Broadchurch? What about your hard ass approach to Police detectives who can't solve a murder case?"

"It won't apply, will it? We're gonna work this one together and then we're going back over the Sandbrook one because you're going to prove how wrong I was about you, that you're not a failure."

"That will hurt you know, I won't be kind to you, I'll make you eat your words Tyler."

"I know you will and maybe I'll deserve it for misjudging you. You shouldn't have let me walk all over you."

"I almost didn't but I thought you were right, I failed miserably. I deserved to be hung out to dry."

"Well it's time to redeem yourself, so prove me wrong."

"Don't worry, I will, just be prepared to lose your position as Miss hard ass."

Rose smiled. Alec faced up to his boss when they got home, calling her and said he had been following some leads and just about got away with it apart from a warning not to go giving any information to a certain reporter that was in town and who he'd already been seen out in public with. He knew where that had come from.

After trying to take it easy over the next few days and 'following more leads' that got him out of walking across to the station too early, the next weekend, Alec decided they were going down to Weymouth for the weekend. A lot had happened during the week, an innocent man had taken his own life after the men of the town threatened him over a false allegation, which Rose assured Alec she had nothing to do with it, it was the local reporter who had started it, Donna deciding it was another local matter when Rose had mentioned it to her.

Rose was the first to print that the town ought to be ashamed of themselves for hounding the man as it had nothing to do with the boy's death. Rose had also defended Alec against the local vicar who had confronted him as he had left the station the night before the man died and Rose had paid him a visit to tell him what she thought about it.

On the Saturday afternoon, they had split up for an hour to do some shopping on their own, Alec using the time to buy Rose a silver necklace. Rose went to buy a new dress, some new sexy underwear and a new nightdress to wear that evening as she knew he was up to something. Meeting at the coffee shop for a break before going to choose an engagement ring and calling her mother to give her the news, Alec was trying to peek into the small carrier bag she had put on the chair and was getting his hand slapped.

"Come on Rose, show me what you bought."

"No way am I getting those things out in public. Do you want to have to arrest me?"

Alec grinned at the thought of Rose wearing handcuffs, especially if he cuffed her to the bed. He had definitely got worse over the last few days now the thoughts he was having about her were becoming reality. They still had been taking it easy but were gradually working up to it and he knew tonight was going to be that night. So they were going to choose a ring and he was taking her to a top restaurant he had heard about, then they were going to a club on the sea front, well if they even got that far.

So taking her to another jewellery shop, they looked in the window until Rose found one or two she liked to try on and going inside picked the second one she tried, Alec insisting she had it put in a box and he would put it on her later. So they went back to get changed, Rose put on her new dress and he got out the silver necklace with two hearts intertwined and put it on her, fastening it from behind.

Rose looked in the mirror as he put it on her.

"This has more than one meaning you know Rose."

"Really? You mean besides the two of us?"

"Well, you mended my broken heart – sort of, you pushed me to have the surgery so now it belongs to you, so you have two hearts."

Rose turned around and kissed him. "I know I pushed you into it, I don't think I could have stood by and watched you get worse when all it took was a routine operation. You would have hated me looking after you when you couldn't do anything. Now you can get down to catching Danny's killer and go back and finish the other case. I've been thinking about that, I have a few ideas."

"Well I'll be interested in hearing them but not tonight. Tonight is very important because I'm going to ask you properly, not in some consultant's office because I was scared that day Rose, I was scared I wasn't getting out of that place and I just wanted to hear you say you'd marry me. Tonight, you have a chance to back out. Do you think it's to soon?"

"No but I thought you would, you're barely out of your other one. You'll have to tell Daisy, she'll tell her mother and then she'll know she was right."

"I don't care any more Rose, I didn't care then and I still don't care what she thinks but I'll need her help if we're going to get Sandbrook re-opened."

"Well I'm not backing out but let's have a fairly long engagement, there's no rush now, is there? Tonight Alec Hardy, you had better take advantage of me because I'll be out of commission for a few days."

He was well used to that. Tess had begun to have loads of 'out of commission days', permanently.

They got a taxi to the restaurant just outside the town and got seated in a quiet corner by the window and ordered their meals, Alec now being able to eat better and ordered some champagne. Then he took her hand when the table was clear and they were waiting for their dessert, getting the ring box out of his jacket pocket.

"Last chance to back out Rose. When I asked you on Monday, I thought maybe you were trying to make me feel better. So Rose Tyler, will you really marry me?"

"Yes Alec, I'll marry you. All that time we could have been together and we were miles apart, being miserable. I love you Alec Hardy."

He put the ring on her finger just as the waiter arrived, who saw what was happening and drew everyone's attention and they all started clapping. They got a taxi back to the seafront and stopped outside a club but there were loads of people drinking outside and it looked really noisy so they walked a bit further down and found a nice quiet lounge and went in.

"So, are we going to stay in the chalet for a few more weeks while we find somewhere else?" Alec asked. He was keen to get away from virtually living in the river. "Only if we stay there much longer, I might just come home late one night and take a wrong turn."

Rose smiled. "Well don't come home late without me. Are you planning on having a lot of late nights then?"

"Only until we catch Danny's killer. I've had a few ideas the last few days, I'm just waiting for some results coming back from some evidence. We have a funeral to go to next week, the killer's bound to be there, I just have to spot him. You can help me, see who looks out of place."

"Whatever you want, I want this to be over with. I looked in your wallet while you were unconscious the other day, you still have a photo of Pippa."

"I should be mad at you but I'm not. Yes, I have. You expected there to be one of Daisy, didn't you?" Rose nodded. "I won't rest till I get the person responsible and we find Lisa. You know that don't you?"

Rose leaned over and kissed his cheek. "I know that Alec and now we both have the same goal, not that we didn't before, we were just doing it alone. Now we're doing it together, it makes all the difference."

"I think I'm going to miss fighting with you." He took a drink of the wine he had bought and poured more into Rose's glass.

She smiled at him. " Don't you go getting ideas you can get me drunk tonight Alec Hardy, it won't work. Who says we won't do any more fighting?"

Alec smiled back. "You did say for me to take advantage of you tonight did you not?"

"Well I never said I had to be drunk in order for you to do so, did I?"

"So you'd be a willing participant then?"

"Take me back to the hotel and you'll find out."

She took another drink and Alec put the top back on the bottle of wine to take back to the hotel. He was just glad he was no longer taking the medication, he'd had a few glasses plus the champagne earlier but it wasn't every night Rose Tyler had said she would marry him, well not properly. All he had to do was survive meeting her mother and tell his daughter. That was the easy part because he was going to need Rose in the coming weeks, finding out the killer of Danny Latimer was someone he knew and coming to terms with it and he may not have even been there to solve the case if it hadn't been for her.

Now they had to face up to going back to Sandbrook, Rose finally being properly introduced to Daisy, who wasn't impressed at first but Rose soon won her over when she found out her father had been ill and Rose had helped him, in fact she got on better with him now he wasn't a grumpy misery any more but Rose still liked to call him grumpy arse most mornings after he went outside and almost tossed her phone into the river.

Rose had said he could by her a new one or go in and get it so he had relented, promising her if she 'accidentally' set her alarm again and left it on his side of the bed just to annoy him he would actually do it but Rose threatened to take a picture of him standing outside in his boxers and t-shirt and send it to Miller. They called a truce.

The End!