Saving Grace

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Alec Hardy was married to Rose Tyler, they had both been detectives together and lived with their daughter Grace until Rose had enough of him working non-stop and left, taking the girl with her and Alec was only allowed to see her every other weekend. Then Rose is due a promotion but her ex husband beats her to it when he is unaware she has moved to Broadchurch.

An alternate reality story.

Alec Hardy was married to Rose Tyler until Rose had enough of him working non-stop and left, taking their daughter but when Rose is due a promotion her ex husband beats her to it.  Will they be reconciled or fight even more?

Scroll down to read each chapter
Chapter 1
What if it was Rose and Alec that were divorced?  Inspired by the plot in 'The Making of Broadchurch' and takes place before, during and after the Sandbrook case and the beginning of Danny Latimer's murder.  Rose is an ordinary woman who never met the Doctor and never took up with Mickey.  Ages and dates are estimated.

The case regarding the disappearance of one young girl and her older cousin was getting to everyone working on it, no more so than Alec Hardy and his wife Rose. Rose worked part-time when their four year old daughter Grace was at school and during the school holidays, if she wasn't at a friend's house, Rose would just work weekends and bank holidays, Alec looking after the girl.

They had discussed adding to their family but now, it had been put on hold until the case was over but things had been getting worse between them and not wanting to argue in front of their daughter, did most of the arguing at work, in his office as they did battle about the case, mixed in with how they both felt about it but Alec had not realised just how it was affecting his wife.

They were arguing in his office one Tuesday afternoon, weeks into the investigation and Alec had just survived getting pulled out of the river after he sadly discovered the body of the youngest girl floating in the swollen river in a downpour, Rose not having been there as she had gone to collect their daughter since it had been agreed, even with their boss, that picking up a four year old girl from school in view of young Pippa Gillespie being missing gave priority to whatever she was doing but on rare occasions, she'd had to be dropped off in a squad car to collect Grace, who had thought it exciting and was quizzed about it the following day.

Rose was sat opposite him, her arms folded and an hour away from picking up their daughter.  They had hardly talked about him almost drowning, he'd not even gone to hospital to get checked over which had made Rose furious when she had learned of it so since she had an hour to spare, she was going to tell him what she thought of it since he had taken to getting home at all hours, having popped in for half an hour to put his daughter to bed and kiss her goodnight, his only concession and Rose had been asleep when he had finally decided to go home.

''It's doing none of us any good Alec, you coming in at all hours.  What do you actually do, working so late?''

''Honestly Rose?  You'd complain just as much if I brought the work home, at least here I can concentrate, going through all the information.''

''Really?  Don't you think about what it's doing to Grace?  She hardly sees you, you were always there at teatime, made her laugh and spent time with her.  I know finding Pippa was a priority but none of us wanted to find her the way you did and you won't even talk to me about it, why not?  Let someone else help you Alec, at least try to come home early, for Grace?''

''So we can just argue in front of her when you don't want me to go back out again?''

''You spend more time with the main suspect's wife than you do me Alec, should I have something to worry about?''

Alec slammed a folder across his desk, marked 'Claire Ripley, A.K.A Claire Ashworth'.

''Be my guest Rose, do you really think I'd take up with her while she keeps changing her story?''

''You can't blame me for thinking the worse Alec.  I don't know how much more Grace and me can put up with this, you had better decide where your own priorities lie.''

Rose got up and went back to her desk.  She knew it wasn't fair on their daughter. They used to spend their weekends together always doing something even if it rained and Alec worshipped the ground Grace walked on, she was his life but young Pippa had taken over slowly, he couldn't shake it off and since a few days ago he had found her in the river, he had been devastated, he'd hardly been in to get changed and he was growing a beard, prompting Grace to call him a scruff, the little she saw of him.

He could have drowned in that river, what had he been thinking going off on his own?  She got up, having twenty minutes or so before she had to leave and went to their chief's office.

''Sir, can I talk to you a moment?''

''Of course Rose, my door is always open.  You and Alec still having problems?''

''Yeah and they're getting worse, it's consuming him and I'm worried about him and Grace, her I can do something about but Alec, she hardly sees him any more but that's not why I came here.  It's just working alongside Alec all the time, it's not helping, can I apply for a transfer?''

''Rose, you're good at your job but if you think coming off the case will help, then I don't think it will.  Even if I transfer you to another team, you'll still see each other and isn't that better than not seeing him at all?''

''Honestly?  Then no because it reminds me of what we used to be and I don't know how much more I can take of it.''

''Why don't you go seek some help Rose?  Get Alec to go with you?''

Rose laughed.  ''When?  He never has the time and I know you don't ask him to work all those hours, he looks a wreck.  He's not looking after himself and goodness knows what almost drowning the other day did to him, he wouldn't even get himself checked out.  Can you at least order him to have a medical?''

''Ok, if it makes you feel better, I'll get the CMO to call him in, say it's standard procedure, which knowing Alec he'll say it's been made up but we can try but as for you being transferred, it may not be around here, you may have to travel, what about picking Grace up from school?''

''I'll manage, I'll get a child-minder if I have to, increase my hours or I might get a station that provides it.''

''Is that a dig Rose?''

''No Sir, I'm just pointing it out but I'd still need someone to collect her from school. Anyway, how much further will I have to travel?''


It had all start five years ago, Rose was a young DC and assigned to Alec's division while he was a DS and since no-one had told either of them that dating officers of a lower or higher rank was not allowed, they had quickly begun seeing each other. One lunchtime, Rose had been sitting in the station's canteen and Alec had noticed her over the past week or so and thought he would try his luck with the young officer who had recently been re-assigned from London.

Rose had been taken by his Scottish accent and he had soon charmed her the day he decided was as good a time as ever to stop being a recluse and get himself a young, permanent girlfriend after getting crushed by Tess Henchard once too often and what he'd seen in her, he had no idea but then one Monday morning, there she was, DC Rose Tyler, fresh from the training academy after she applied to become more than a WPC and that was it.

Joining her that lunchtime had been his smartest move ever but she was only 22 and he was 35 and she would think he was too old for her, at least Tess had been around his own age but he didn't care.

''Hello there, it's Rose isn't it?'' he asked, thinking that had been his worst pick-up line in his entire life and pulling out the chair opposite.

''Oh hi, yeah, please do Sir.  Have you been here long?''

''A few years, transferred from Glasgow but I never really made any friends, apart from when it's my turn to buy drinks at the local pub.''

Rose smiled, her tongue poking out through her teeth and Alec thought if he didn't hurry up and ask her out, there were plenty more single men in the building who would be lining up to do so.

''It's not easy being new, my last station, I had plenty of friends until I put in for further training then I lost most of them.  It's my first time away from home, I've got a room in a boarding house but it's not much.  Still, I don't know how long I'm gonna be here, no sense in getting anything permanent.''

Alec agreed, trying to eat his lunch before it went completely cold since she had captivated him with her London accent.  He was aware people were staring at them and he expected to get chewed out later by his boss for chatting up a junior officer. He was pleasantly surprised when no such thing happened and decided no-one was bothered since now, his ex girlfriend was being pursued by an older married DS so anything was possible.

Having retreated back to his desk, he was devising ways to ask out the new young DC and got his chance later when they were both called into the DI's office and told to go interview a witness to a robbery in a grocery store.  By the time they were on their way back to the station, Rose driving, he had her phone number and said he would call when he was off duty.

From there, it took them just three weeks for Rose to move into his two bedroom apartment just outside town and they had already declared their love for each other in no uncertain terms and everyone left them alone when they would go out together to follow enquiries and come back in and pretend they had not just been in Rose's car for the last twenty minutes snogging each other's faces off.

The first night they had gone out, Alec had successfully got Rose back to his place and got her on the sofa, relieving her of her top and bra and she had got his shirt off, well partly anyway.

''Mmm, Alec, this is very nice but shouldn't we get to know each other first?'' Rose had half protested, pulling the said shirt off his shoulders and hoping the cuffs would undo themselves since he was now kissing where her bra had been.

She eventually got him to take her home much to his dismay but she promised she would stay the weekend and see how things went.  By the time Monday morning came around, she had practically moved in and he was complaining of her leaving her bras and knickers to dry in the bathroom since they couldn't go in the tumble dryer and he knew from that moment he couldn't live without her.

They were married three months later, Rose was six weeks pregnant after they'd had a night out and it was too near her monthly for her to get away with it and Alec was too far gone to bother about being the one to take the responsibility but they didn't care, they were totally besotted with each other and Alec was insisting Rose gave up work and stayed at home after her maternity leave was up, he had just been promoted to DI.

They had been up to Scotland to get married, in Alec's home town, Rose's mother never even fussing about having to travel by train to Glasgow and them meeting her.  Alec had gone traditional and worn his kilt, Rose was thrilled on their wedding night then they had gone to Fort William for their honeymoon for a week, Alec driving them around and took Rose to The Isle of Skye but the teashop there where they were going to visit was closed and they both laughed, saying it was just typical.

They had been for a short ride on a steam train from Fort William to Mallaig and Rose had loved it, been to the edge of Loch Ness and Alec had bought her a toy 'Nessie' for the baby and on the way back home, they took a detour and called in at Gretna Green, Rose saying they should have got married there but Alec had said there was too much of a waiting list and he was in a hurry to marry her, forever showing their love for each other and inventing ways to get close when Rose was quite large, Alec saying he loved her no matter how big she was.

As Rose was driving to pick up her daughter, she remembered just how happy they had been, just the three of them still living in the same apartment as when they had got married because Rose loved the view of the river from their bedroom window but now she hated the river because her husband had almost drowned in part of it further down and he never thought how it had affected him and just as importantly, his wife and daughter.

After Rose had left, the chief called Alec into his office and it wasn't going to go down well either.

''Ah, Alec, take a seat.  How are you after your ordeal the other day?  You should have taken a few days off after that but you are to be commended for spotting Pippa's body though it's not a result any of us wanted.  Any leads on Lisa?''

''No Sir, not at the moment but we're re-interviewing several people, including the Gillespie's neighbours whom were friendly with both girls.  I'm still convinced Ashworth and his wife had something to do with it though I have no evidence.''

''Yes, well that's down to your team Alec, to get some evidence.  You really should have got the medics to check you over so I've got no choice but to make you go see the CMO, first thing in the morning, we have to make sure there were no ill effects.''

Alec got up, pounding one fist into his other hand.  ''Have you been talking to my wife by any chance?'' he asked angrily.

''She's worried about you Alec and so am I, all these extra hours you've been putting in, you'll wear yourself out.  I would be just as concerned over any officer.  Go home Alec, go see your wife and daughter and that's an order, I don't want to see you until tomorrow morning.''

''I don't want to go home, I want to catch however killed Pippa and possibly kidnapped Lisa now let me get back to my office.''

''Alec, you'll leave me no choice but to enforce it but ok, as long as you make sure you go home at a decent time and say goodnight to your daughter.''

''I always do, I've not missed one night I'll have you know and don't let my wife tell you any differently.''

''She didn't but if your home life starts affecting the two of you working together, then I'll have to do something.''

''Fine but it won't, Rose understands this is important to me.  We have a four year old daughter and there's a child killer on the loose, what do you and Rose expect me to do?''
Chapter 2
Alec knew Rose wasn't happy though but what could he do?  He just needed to get through this, find Pippa's killer and hopefully find Lisa alive somewhere and then he could go back to them.  Rose and Grace were his life and they would go somewhere nice for a family holiday, take Grace to Scotland, a holiday park up there and show her where he came from.

He thought back to how they had met, Rose had caught his eye soon after her arrival and it had taken him a few weeks to get up the courage to actually talk to her then once he had, it had all happened so fast, their wild passionate nights and sometimes afternoons on their days off then them getting drunk and Rose ending up pregnant, he couldn't have been happier.

Was it all too much though, all this working overtime when he could have handed it to someone else but no, he didn't work like that, he did things his own way, he always had and Rose would understand, even though they had done nothing but argue for the last few weeks.

Rose was at home, with her daughter who was wanting to know why her dad wasn't at home any more.  Rose tried to explain to the four year old that her dad had something very important to do at work.

''But Mummy, why isn't he home early?  He used to play with me and now he only comes to take me to bed.''

The girl was very observant, something inside Rose told her she was going to follow them into the same line of work.

''I know honey but he can't help it, another girl is missing, daddy has to help to find her.  Tell you what, how would you like to go away somewhere, until daddy has finished with his work?''

The girl thought about it.  Rose continued.  ''Let's not say anything to daddy though, he has enough, it'll just be me and you, yeah?''

''But will daddy still come and put me to bed?''

''We'll see him, of course we will, maybe more than we see him now so don't worry. We could go up and see nanna if you want?''

''Can we?  When I break up from school?''

''Yeah, we'll drive over and see her, you like nanna's flat don't you?''

The girl laughed, she had to share a room when they went there, Grace sleeping on a make-up bed in her nanna's room and always hearing her parents laughing from what used to be Rose's old room, Alec playing the fool in Rose's old single bed and saying they should get one as it made things more interesting.

So Rose quietly made her plans, never letting on to anyone what she was planning after going back and seeing her boss, asking him to keep it quiet until a transfer could be arranged and she went to the legal department to see what her options were about divorcing or separating, then she would just spring it on him because it was doing none of them any good as things were.

They continued to argue most days, he would go home, see his daughter then go back out and Rose knew she was doing the right thing, as much as she loved him.  It pained her to see him like this, this was not the same man she had married, he wasn't looking after himself and he was getting thinner and paler, not that you could see much since he hardly bothered to shave any more.

Then one Monday morning, a few weeks later, Rose walked into his office since he had crept out while Grace was having her breakfast after kissing her then Rose on the cheek, one of the few habits he had actually stuck to and mostly the only physical contact the two had recently and handed an envelope to him.

''What's this Rose?'' he asked, seeing the court stamp on the envelope.  ''Are you being serious?  What the hell Rose, you can't be serious?''

''You won't do anything Alec, you're letting this case consume you.  It's almost the six week school holidays, Grace misses you, what am I supposed to do?  I'm transferring, it's all been arranged and they've found somewhere for me and Grace to stay while we get something permanent.  I'm not getting a solicitor unless I need to, I'm giving you visiting rights, I'll bring Grace to see you, every other weekend, you keep the apartment.  All I ask is you pay towards her upbringing and don't try and find out where we've gone, the chief has given instructions, he's not happy about me moving but he backs me on this.''

''Quite a speech Rose, do I even get a say in this?''

''There's only one thing I want you to say Alec, that's you're gonna stop being totally unreasonable and come home every night at five, spend time with your daughter and come to bed with me.  If you can't do that small thing for your wife and daughter Alec, what do you expect?  I've made my reasons for divorce clear to the court, they accepted it was reasonable grounds so if you sign, it will be through in six weeks and in the meantime, before it's finalised, it can still be stopped and you can put Grace to bed every night until we leave, after she gets out of school on Friday.''

Alec was totally stunned, opening the envelope to see everything had been filled in, including a form to say he had visiting rights, to see Grace every other weekend and she was to be taken to see him for six hours on Saturday and the same on Sunday, with a view to letting her stay overnight when she was old enough to decide for herself.

Rose got up but he stopped her as she was leaving.  ''This is not fair Rose, I'm not saying this can't be fixed but you have to give me time to finish this case.  Please love, don't do this.''

''I'm sorry Alec but you left me no choice, I have to think of Grace.  I talked to her about it, told her we're gonna go live some place else and she'll still see you.''

''Can you make it every weekend Rose?''

''Alec, it will be more time than you even see her now, half an hour every night and a kiss on the cheek every morning.  You're never awake when I get up, I hate to think what time you crawl in to bed and we'll have a fair way to travel because I couldn't get a transfer any nearer, we're gonna be a few hours travel away so we'll stay overnight in a cheap hotel when we come up.  I hope you'll make the time to see her when we do.''

''Are you kidding Rose, don't be so stupid as to think I wouldn't make time.  You know how it is, I can't leave this case, you know I've had the main suspect in again and I'm getting somewhere with him, I know I am.''

''You've been saying that for weeks now, you're having no such luck and honestly, you spend more time with the Ashworth's than you do with your family Alec, I've had enough.  There's no-one else Alec, I still love you as much as I did when we first met but I can't do this, so give up the case and hand it to someone else or sign the papers.''

He looked across his desk at the beautiful blonde whom he had fallen head over heels for and he couldn't tell her what he had just found out, that the CMO had called him back to his office with the follow-up results from his medical and he'd broken the news that he had the beginnings of a serious heart problem, probably brought on by his brush with death after being fished out of the river a few weeks ago.  Luckily, the CMO was a friend and he had told Alec that if he promised he would get some treatment and take it easy, he wouldn't report Alec to the chief, well not just yet.

Alec had promised as soon as the case was solved, he would make it his top priority but Alistair doubted it.  He had asked how he and Rose were getting on but Alec had declined to admit things weren't so good between them these days.  Rose got up, a tear in her eye.  She had hoped spending money on the divorce papers may shock him into admitting his family were more important but it didn't seem like it was working.

When he finally got home that night, Grace was getting ready for bed and had been crying because he was late.

She heard him coming up the stairs and ran out to him, Alec picking her up.

''Daddy, where have you been?''

Alec also had a tear in his eye and couldn't explain to a four year old his work was more important than his family because he couldn't explain it to himself or his wife and now, he had a potential death sentence hanging over him and he couldn't even tell Rose, not now she was leaving him.  He was a wreck and he knew it and he needed Rose more than ever but she was right, it was doing none of them any good and maybe, if he was lucky, the case would be cracked wide open before the six weeks were up and he would stop the divorce.

What made it worse though was she wouldn't say where she was going but maybe it was for the best so he wouldn't keep travelling for hours to plead with her to go back to him.  She would go back though once the case was over, however long it took because neither of them could love anyone else.

So Rose took the rest of the week off to get packed, just their clothes and belongings, leaving the rest of the things as either they had been Alec's before they got married or they had bought them together.  She had seen the head teacher at the school and applied for a place at the local school where she had got the transfer to, over seventy miles away in a small seaside town by the name of Broadchurch.  It had been offered to her on the provision she took her DS exams, her career being held back as she was only part time and she now had to work more hours and locate a child minder for after school and the holidays but would get help with the costs and Alec finally signed the papers, not happily and they had agreed he would pay money into Rose's bank every month, no action was to be taken by the court on that score.

Rose was ready to go on Saturday morning, Grace was having her breakfast before they left and Alec had decided it was best he left as normal, giving Grace a hug and saying he'd see her later, then he had taken Rose out of the kitchen to say goodbye, the only time they'd been apart except when Rose was in hospital giving birth to their daughter.

''Don't make this difficult Alec, please.  I'll bring Grace to visit in two weeks, I'll call you and we'll meet somewhere and you can take her off from twelve until six, both days.''

''What about you Rose?  What will you do?''

''It's not about me Alec, I don't want a part time husband who will spend every other weekend with me, this is about you seeing your daughter and I won't stop you.  Let's just be civilised about it and just do what we agreed and when the case is over, we'll talk.''

''I still love you Rose, you know that.''

''I know but saying it isn't enough and you have six weeks to solve the murder, find Lisa and stop the divorce.''

So while Alec went off to work, never giving himself a day off, Rose packed everything into her car, made sure Grace was secured in her car seat and she headed down the motorway towards Broadchurch and the caravan park right on the harbour that was going to be their temporary home and a short walk from the police station.  She had taken a week's leave to get settled, locate a child minder who could collect Grace from school and have her until just after five once the girl started school but until then, she had no choice but to leave her from nine until five and she wasn't happy about it.

Rose was replacing DS Ellie Miller who had decided not to return after she'd just had another baby and she thought that could have been her, they had talked about adding to their family but then two cousins had gone missing and broken them apart.  The families of the two girls were not the only ones who were suffering and whoever had killed Pippa and kidnapped Lisa had done more damage.

Alec slammed his office door and threw folders around his desk, then not caring, took two heart pills the CMO had given him, passing them off as headache pills if anyone were to dare to ask him but they knew better because the word had already got around that Rose was gone, getting herself a transfer and she had left the now irritable DI who was going to be even worse now and Tess Henchard was only going to add to his already long list of pet hates, the topmost being Rose and their daughter leaving town for whereabouts unknown and he had promised he wouldn't try and find out where they had gone because she was right, he would have gone after her.

Now he was faced with being on his own and having no-one to help him though his illness because his friend had told him it was only going to get better if he faced an operation for a pacemaker and then he had been hit with the punch line – he only had a very slim chance of surviving it and that was one of the main reasons he had signed the divorce papers with regret so Rose wouldn't feel as bad over the fact she left him because of him being unreasonable as she would leaving him after finding out he needed a life-saving operation and he had sworn the CMO not to tell her.
Chapter 3
Rose and Grace were settling into their caravan, a two double bedroom model as the room with the two single beds would have meant no space for the young girl and they had been lucky to get what they wanted since the manager had been told they would be there a few weeks and it was being paid for by the police authority.  As she and Grace got unpacked, she promised the next day they would go check out the site's swimming pool and take a look around the harbour then go look at the police station.

Grace liked nothing better than visiting her parents at work and couldn't understand why she had not been there lately, Rose wanting to keep her away so no-one would say anything to her.  Rose was going to be busy the next week, going to see the head of the local school, getting new uniform and engaging the services of a child minder.  They were out on the Sunday and sitting on the sea wall eating icecream when a woman with a stroller approached her.

''Hi, are you Rose Tyler by any chance?''

''Who wants to know?''

''I'm Ellie Miller, I used to be the DS here, you're taking my place.  I still have friends in the station and they said you'd arrived, I got your photo from your file, thought I'd come and find you.  This is young Freddie, you young lady must be Grace?''

Grace tried to hide behind Rose.

''Nice to meet you Ellie though you didn't have to come and find me.  How old is your son?''

''Three months, bit of a handful, my eldest Tom, he's round at the skateboard park with his dad and his friends, thought it was a bit boring so we took a walk, Fred likes to be on the move.  So you arrived yesterday?''

''Yeah, got a caravan for now, just around the corner, it was just a lot easier than finding a house or an apartment to rent, didn't have much time.  We've just been swimming haven't we Grace?''

Grace nodded her head, not quite sure about the woman with the curly hair and the bright orange jacket.

''Well if you need any help Rose, here's my number, give me a call.''

Rose took the card Ellie took out of her pocket.  ''Thanks, don't suppose you know any good child minders?  I was going to try the Town Hall and see if they had a register but I expect I'll have to wait to get Grace in somewhere, I thought it would be easier moving in the school holidays but I think I made a big mistake.  I might have to take more leave if I can't get her in anywhere until next week or get my mum to come down.''

''If you get stuck, I can help you out though I can't charge you since it's unofficial but the offer's there.  A lot of minders might be booked up for the holidays.  I'm in most days, my husband's a paramedic and Tom, he's round at his friend's, our houses back on to a field and they play football there.  Well good luck finding someone and welcome to Broadchurch Rose.''

Rose was lucky, she found the name of a minder called Lynda and she and Grace went to see her on the Thursday but Lynda was going away the last week of the holidays so it was time to call her mother and arrange for her to come down the last week in August to take care of Grace.

Jackie Tyler had said it was about time she was invited down since they had gone to live by the sea.  Jackie had not been happy her daughter had split from her husband of four years and left Grace without a father.  Two weeks had passed quickly and Rose, as promised had driven back for Alec to see his daughter.  He had tried, he really had to get some sort of order back in his life, being forced to finish at a more reasonable time to tidy the apartment and buy the minimum in groceries and take care of the bills, which Rose had done previously.  He didn't know how she had managed it and the first Saturday, two weeks after his wife and daughter had left, he was a changed man – for the worse.

He was relying heavily on his medication and his friend to get more and keep quiet about it, having another go at Alec to get himself sorted, stating Grace would lose him altogether if he didn't.

The last weeks of the school holidays was approaching, it wasn't their weekend to go see Alec and Jackie Tyler arrived in town.  During the last few weeks, Rose had taken her DS test and was awaiting the results, hoping she wouldn't fail or she may be asked to leave.  The minder was costing her a fortune and she hadn't been able to afford to look for another place to live, not wanting to ask Alec for any more money but she knew once Grace was back at school, that would ease off as the hours she had to pay for would be less than half and the last few weeks, Ellie had taken Grace for a day to cut down, which had been a big help and Rose had been more than grateful for them becoming friends though she wasn't entirely sure with Ellie having a baby she needed someone else's daughter to look after.

So while Rose was at work the week before Grace went back to school, she was anxiously awaiting her results and was called into the chief's office.

''Rose, how's it going?  Is your daughter looking forward to starting her new school?''

''Yes Ma'am, she's missing her friends but she's looking forward to making new ones. It's her birthday next week so she's only just made it into a higher class.  Actually she's sort of having two birthdays since she's seeing her dad this weekend and her birthday is on Tuesday.''

''Yes, she's lucky, how are things with that Rose?  I'm a little concerned, your divorce will be though, won't it?''

''Any day now, I got a call from the court to say it's been granted.  My mother has come down for the week to see Grace and well, to give me some moral support.  I'm deeply disappointed Alec didn't stop it.  Ma'am, can you find out what's going on back in Sandbrook?''

''They won't discuss it with me Rose, sorry and do you really want to know or are you just wanting your husband back?''

''He's not my husband any more, not now.  The last time we visited, he took Grace off me and only said a few words.  He didn't look too good, he seemed tired.  How can he do that?  Keep on when it's killing him?''

''Rose, you tried, he seems a stubborn man.  Look, I'll try and find something out, ok?''

''Thanks, have my test results come back yet?''

''Yes, that's why I called you, thought you needed cheering up, congratulations, Detective Sergeant Hardy or is that Tyler now?''

''Thank you Ma'am and I'm not sure about the name now I have to face it.  Alec and I couldn't wait to get married and now, he did nothing to stop me going ahead with divorcing him.''

''Maybe he thought, under the circumstances, it was the right thing to do.''

So Rose went home at lunchtime and told her mother the good news.

''Well done sweetheart, you deserve it.  Why don't we go to the club tonight and celebrate?''

''We only go on weekends but yeah, Grace won't complain, will you honey?  Have you decided what to ask daddy to get you for your birthday yet?  You need to tell him on Saturday.''

The girl nodded.  ''I know what I want, that princess outfit, can I Mummy?''

''Well you'd best make sure there's room in your wardrobe first, ok?''

So as Jackie left on Saturday morning, Rose and Grace headed for their former home town, just outside Sandbrook to meet Alec but Alec had only just got out of hospital, having a scare when he had collapsed in the supermarket on Friday night and he had discharged himself, after calling his friend to hush it up.  The CMO had not taken too kindly to it as Alec was walking out when he arrived.

''Alec, for goodness sake, what did I tell you man?''

''Don't start Alistair, I was only getting my groceries.''

His friend saw the plaster on his forehead.  ''How are you going to explain that?''

Alec grinned sheepishly.  ''Had an argument with a shopping trolley?  Seriously, I just forgot to take my pill, an oversight.''

''Well any more 'oversight's' it'll be the last one, I mean it, you have to take them twice a day or it's all over, you don't forget in future, if you want to have one.''

''Why do I want one?  The divorce came through, on paper, I got it yesterday morning, I got distracted and forget to take my pills.''

''Both of them?  Geez Alec, no wonder you collapsed, you can't miss both of them or did you do it on purpose?  Isn't it Grace's birthday next week?''

''Yes, she'll be here in a few hours, see if my alibi holds out, not that Rose won't notice I expect, she never misses anything.  Actually last time they were over, she let me kiss her goodbye on Sunday.''

''Well if that's a good thing Alec, why didn't you stop the divorce?''

Alec couldn't answer him and by now, they were in Alistair's car and Alec was being driven home to get changed to go greet his daughter.  Tomorrow, they were all going to a fast food restaurant, not that he or Rose agreed with them but Grace wanted the kid's meals to celebrate the girl's fifth birthday and her starting a new school on Monday, where, he didn't know and knew Rose wouldn't tell him plus she would have drilled the girl not to tell him either and Grace was good at keeping secrets.

As Rose pulled into their meeting place, the shopping mall's car park outside a department store, Alec was waiting by his car, leaning on the roof and looked up as Rose's blue car pulled in a few spaces down on the opposite side.  Why she couldn't pull up next to him, he couldn't work out but that was just Rose's way of saying he wasn't going to grab their daughter and drive off at high speed, not that he had the desire to or they could get away so fast since he had to go down a steep ramp with a corner at the bottom so where she thought he was going to go?

Alec checked it was safe and crossed over as Rose was getting Grace out and the girl ran to him, picking her up as she flung her arms around him.

''Daddy!  It's my birthday on Tuesday.''

''I know princess, how old are you going to be again?  You're getting big.''

''Five, didn't you know that silly?  What did you do to your head Daddy?''

''A good question Grace, what did you do to yourself Alec?'' Rose asked.

''I was in the supermarket, I bent down to get something from a shelf and someone bumped into me with a trolley, it was just an accident.''

Rose didn't look like she believed him, she knew he wasn't looking after himself but somehow, he didn't look so tired, maybe he was actually starting to get some sleep. They had agreed the first time they had met up not to mention the case that had torn them apart and Alec wasn't going to start now.

''Right, I'll meet you here at six then?   Grace, you can tell me what you want for your birthday and I'll call mummy and ask if it's ok.''

''That's fine Alec, have a good time Grace and be good for daddy, ok?''

The girl nodded as Alec put her down and they walked back to the car.  Rose had a tear in her eye, he wouldn't say anything about the case or the divorce in front of Grace, it wasn't in either their interests to spill their feelings in front of a five year old girl.  Rose checked into the same hotel then after having a rest, went back to the shopping mall, making her way back to their meeting place with ten minutes to spare.

The next day, they met again, then took Grace just after four to the fast food chain and celebrated her birthday before they walked around for a while and Alec bought Grace some things for school so when they arrived at Rose's car, he asked for a minute to talk to her.

''Are you managing ok Rose?  I know the minder must have been expensive over the holidays, I'd like to put extra money in for you this month, is that ok?''

''Yeah, thanks, if you're sure.  My friend has been helping me out one day a week and my mum's just gone home, she was down last week to take care of Grace while the minder was on holiday.  So I'll see you in two weeks and if you want, you can take Grace back to the apartment for an hour, I'll come and collect her from there.''

''Thanks Rose, I'd like that, you have a safe journey home, both of you.''

''We will, go kiss your daughter goodbye.''

''Bye Grace, I love you darlin' wear the outfit I bought you, won't you?''

''Yes daddy.  Don't forget to call me when I get out of school, will you?  Kiss mommy goodbye.''

''I won't forget to call you.  Bye Rose, see you in two weeks.''

''Bye Alec, take care of yourself.''

Alec put his arm around her shoulder and kissed the side of her mouth as Rose did the same to him.  His beard was getting thick now but he decided he'd get rid of some of it the next time they came to visit.
Chapter 4
Before Rose knew what had hit her, they had moved out of the caravan, finding a furnished house not far away, around the back of a pub and close to the river.  She'd got lucky, the police were still paying half the rent and since she had no bills to pay, except her daughter's care out of school hours and Ellie took her two afternoons a week and on the odd occasion Rose had to work late, which Rose was grateful for.

Their weekend trips to just outside Sandbrook continued and Christmas was coming up, something she had to discuss with Alec to maintain some sort of normality for their daughter.  Jackie was travelling down as Grace broke up for the holidays and was going back after the new year which meant Rose would have some spare money for presents and one Saturday morning, Rose and Grace were choosing presents for Alec, Grace asking when she was going to see him since it was a few days after their turn to visit.

''We'll talk to daddy about it, we can have our Christmas early, have a little party at daddy's or go out somewhere and open our presents, ok?''

 The girl looked at her, not still understanding why they didn't all still live together. ''Can't daddy be with us on Christmas Day?''

''I don't know sweetheart, granny is coming down and spending the holidays with us, let's all talk about it when we go see daddy.''

It didn't get any easier the following weekend when they went to visit Alec.  Over the last few months, the CMO had covered up for him, checked he had his medication and Alec had promised not to be so stupid and miss taking it.  The case was still going on, he had tried to get close to the main suspect's wife without getting involved with her, which would have been fatal in more ways than one, he would lose seeing his daughter because Rose had already more or less accused him before she had left, over four months ago.

Rose still let him kiss her goodbye, sort of, every Sunday they were leaving, they never fell out, well only over a few minor details and always when Grace was safely in Rose's car and she would collect the girl from their old apartment but recently, his old girlfriend from before he had fallen hopelessly in love with Rose had been showing signs she wanted to start seeing him again, mainly because the married man she was sleeping with wouldn't leave his wife and she knew Alec was now divorced.

Tess had cornered him late one afternoon, just before Rose was due to visit and they were going to celebrate Christmas early for Grace, Alec knowing it was the best they would be able to do as a family and had resigned himself to be on his own on the actual day and had volunteered to work to take his mind off it and do a video call to Grace while she opened the rest of her presents, he was going to slip an extra one to Rose so he could watch her, not that it compensated, it didn't.

''So Alec, you still single then?'' Tess smirked at him in the corridor.

''What do you want Tess?  Why should you care?''

''I always cared about you until Rose came along and spoiled it.  I notice you've been spending a lot of time with Claire lately, should I be jealous?''

''Of what?  I'm trying to get her to testify against her husband Tess and if I were to take up with anyone, not that I would, it wouldn't be you or Claire.  I have my daughter to think about, I wouldn't want her thinking I didn't love her and have Rose take her away from me because I was seeing another woman.''

''Face it Alec, you're still in love with Rose, maybe it's time to move on, that's what people normally do, Rose probably has already.''

''That's none of your business Tess, go back to Dave or won't he leave his wife for you?  Can't blame him if you treat him the way you did me.''

Tess huffed and pushed past him and Alec went back to work, he was leaving early to do some last minute shopping for Grace and Rose's visit, which he was looking forward to immensely.  He had cut down on his hours, slightly but he wasn't going to rest until he had his main suspect locked up, Rose had already said he was looking better but he could be better still, get himself fixed up and tell her he still loved her.

The Christmas visit went well, Grace enjoyed herself out with him on Saturday and on Sunday afternoon, they went out together for a while and spent the rest of the time having a Christmas party and afterwards, he walked them out to Rose's car.

''I'll call on Christmas day then, take this Rose, another present for you, Grace and one for your mother and I want you to have this, a little extra money to buy food and stuff.  Are you managing ok?''

''Yeah, we manage, not a lot left over but I'm saving money this holiday by my mother looking after Grace and Ellie's been helping me out.  I should be getting a pay rise soon after the new year.  So, see you in two weeks then, are you working over the holidays?''

''Why wouldn't I, I've got no reason to stay at home.  Have a good time, all of you.''

''We'll try, it will be difficult, the first time we've been apart.  Alec, when are you gonna give up that case?''

''How do you know I haven't Rose?''

''Seriously?  It's still written all over your face, you're not ready to give up yet, when you do, we'll both know it.  Bye.''

She leaned forward and this time, kissed him on the lips, making his eyelids flutter like she always used to do and she caught him by surprise.

After his call to Rose and Grace on Christmas Day, Alec went back to work and went over all the old evidence, knowing he had missed something.

The months went by, Rose got her pay rise and a promotion to full DS so she was put in charge of a small team.  She had told Alec on one of their visits, he had been pleased for her and Ellie was now taking Grace after school since she said she may as well since it was silly Grace going two days a week but she still wouldn't go get herself registered so Rose couldn't pay her properly.  All Ellie had said was that no-one had been there for her when she had Tom.

Rose managed to start saving some money so she decided she would take Grace away for a week during the May holidays, just up to Weston-Super-Mare and she was going to ask her mother to go, then she had an idea.  Surely Alec would make time to go with them?  So she made the booking for a three bedroom caravan near the main area and put both her mother's and Alec's names down, giving Alec the first chance but not telling him until two weeks before they were going since one of the Saturdays would coincide with their usual visit.

Jackie hadn't really been surprised though she would have liked a holiday herself and there was always the chance Alec would refuse but she doubted it and she knew Grace would rather have her dad there.  Still, Jackie had thought, she was going the following week on the Monday to look after her granddaughter.

So Rose sprung it on Alec on the Saturday evening as they were leaving, two weeks before they were due to go away, telling Grace, who was now approaching six, to keep it a surprise and she would ask him if he wanted to go on holiday with them.

''See you tomorrow Alec and I have something for you to think about.''

''What's that Rose?  I told you, they're scaling back resources, I have to work on other things now but until we find Lisa, I'm not giving up entirely so what could you ask me apart from have I finally given up?''

''Well for starters Alec, you're not the only person who never gave up on finding Lisa, everyone wants her to be found alive and well, you don't have the exclusive on that but that's not it Alec.  Grace and me, we're going on holiday for a week, next time we're supposed to come and visit to Western-Super-Mare, it's not that far and I want you to think about you going there for the weekend and spend some time with us.  I've put your name down and if you want, you can stay with us, over the bank holiday weekend or, if you don't think it's too much, spend a bit longer.''

''Really?  Yes, I don't need to think about it.  Even if it's just the weekend but I'll put in for the whole week off, I'm sure the chief will agree, he knows our circumstances. Does Grace know?''

''Of course she does, I told her it was a surprise, she's been dying to tell you.''

Alec smiled at his daughter who was strapped in her seat and smiling back at him.

''I might have known, she's just like you, thanks Rose, I really appreciate this love, you don't know what it means to me.  If I can't get the full week off, we'll have until Monday, then you can call on your way home, wherever that is but didn't your mother want to go with you?''

''She figured Grace needed her dad more than she needed her gran.''

So Rose was packing the night before their holiday having got off work early.  She'd also had some more good news, the DI was thinking of retiring, which although she thought was a shame since she got on well with him and he fussed over Grace plus his wife was always sending things for the girl, her boss had called her into the office and told Rose she could be put forward for it, she was the senior detective sergeant even though she hadn't held the rank very long and she would only have to sit another exam when she got back from holiday.

Rose told her mother but wasn't sure about telling Alec, now there may well be two DI Hardy's, since Rose had kept her married name for the sake of her daughter, even though she wore no rings.  She had nothing to prove by wearing them, she never entertained the thought of being with another man even though by now, certain things were becoming obvious but as long as Alec never declared he was seeing someone, then neither would she.

It was always in the back of her mind that he would finally be over the notorious Sandbrook case and come back to her.  Arriving at their destination just after two, stopping mid-way to call Alec, who didn't have as far to go as they did, he was waiting in the park's car park as they drove in though booking in wasn't until four but showing their confirmation, they could use the park facilities, Grace wanting to go swimming so Rose had left their things out and had warned Alec.

Alec however wasn't so keen on water after what had happened to him almost a year ago, just seeing a volume of water made him feel ill but for his daughter, he would put that aside and brave it, it was only a swimming pool and as long as he just walked in it with Grace, he could live with it for a week.  What he hadn't told Rose was that he had spoken to his friend after Rose's phone call and got himself booked in for his operation and on the Friday just gone, he'd had it done, took the Monday off under false pretences and got away with getting paid and gone back to work on Tuesday, locking himself in his office with a mountain of pretend paperwork.

He just hoped Rose wouldn't notice his scar and ask any questions which was why when she had said Grace wanted to go swimming, he wasn't so keen so he was going to have to go deeper in the water than he had planned and since he had been told he had his own double bedroom in the caravan, to wear a t-shirt around the place when going to bed.

Grace enjoyed herself, getting Alec to catch her on the waterslide and Rose in the wave machine area, since Rose knew Alec was still haunted by his river ordeal and couldn't face being drenched by one wave let alone numerous ones.  They booked in, saying they were one person short and went to find the park supermarket and got what they needed, Alec paying for them all a meal at the takeaway.

Grace was a bit put out she had a small room with twin beds but Rose said it was only for a week and the girl gave the game away they had lived in a caravan for a few months.

''Mummy, why isn't it as big as the one I had in our caravan?''

Alec looked at Rose. ' 'You lived in a caravan Rose?  Grace, you never told me.''

''Mummy said not to.''

Alec shook his head.  ''I bet she did.  Care to explain?''

''It was no big deal Alec, it was easier than finding a house or a flat to rent, we had two double bedrooms and it was cheaper than a room in a boarding house, what did you expect me to do?''

''Ok I suppose but you could have mentioned it.  So you live in a house now?''

''Yes, we do, two bedrooms and me and Grace share when my mum comes to stay. It's really a holiday let but I get it subsidised, all inclusive so I have no bills to pay but it still takes a chunk out of my salary, that and everything else.  Are we going out tonight?''

Once Alec carried a very tired Grace back to their caravan, the girl's arms around his neck, Rose put her to bed and switched the kettle on to make some tea.  Alec looked at her.  He had unpacked his things and put them in the smaller of the two double bedrooms, Rose saying he could have chosen the bigger one if he had wanted but thought he was rather making a point about it.

''I should go to my room, give you some space if you want to watch TV.''

''Have some tea first, what are you gonna do on your own in that small bedroom? No, don't answer that, except if you're planning on getting an early night and I bet you haven't had one of those for a long time?''

Alec smiled, he only ever smiled when Rose and Grace were around, the rest of the time he had a scowl which prompted his DC to nickname him 'Scowler' when she thought he wasn't listening but he knew.  He also knew the way Rose's replacement had her eye on him despite having a boyfriend since she had never met his ex wife but knew he was divorced with a young daughter who only visited every two weeks because on the Monday morning following him seeing them, for a few rare hours, he was almost human again.
Chapter 5
Rose handed him a mug of tea, just how he liked it and sat at the opposite end of the long seat.

''You don't have to spend the entire evenings in your room Alec, we can go out every night until Grace gets tired, she loves the kids shows, we used to go on weekend nights where we stayed before.  You asked me why a caravan, I couldn't have taken Grace to a one bedroom B&B and spend all night in there, at least in a caravan we had room to move around and there was a swimming pool on site, she liked it there.''

''I'm not judging you Rose, you did what you thought was best for her.  If you had told me you couldn't afford to rent a house, I could have helped you.''

''I know but you were already doing more than enough, we got out though sometimes I think Grace would have preferred to stay there, she liked the playground and the kids club.''

Alec smiled and moved up slightly to put his cup on the coffee table.  ''We could have a day out tomorrow, go to the beach and let Grace build sandcastles.''

''Yeah, she'd like that Alec, thanks.  Listen, I know we don't really talk a lot but maybe for the next few days, for Grace, we can talk to her about normal things, I'm willing to put things aside for a week.''

''Me too, for Grace and to keep the peace so no talk about work or what happened and I really am grateful for this Rose, you have no idea what this means to me.''

''I only put my mum's name down in case you thought it was too much you know.''

''How could I refuse?''

''It's been difficult Alec but not as bad as losing you altogether, things have got slightly better, at least Grace gets to see you now.''

''Yes, I needed to be reminded I had a family and you made me see sense but as for letting go of that case, I can't Rose, I just can't.  Maybe one day I will, when I know who killed Pippa and we find Lisa and I know you can't understand what drives me, I don't expect you to.''

''I'm going to bed Alec, it's been a long day, Grace was up early wanting to know when we were setting off.  See you in the morning.''

Rose got up and so did Alec, stepping up to her and kissing her cheek.  He still remembered the night Rose kissed him just before Christmas and kicked himself for not kissing her back or making more of it.  The next morning after breakfast, they went in Alec's car to the seafront, finding there was a funfair so Grace wanted to go there later on and they settled on the beach, Alec carrying two folding chairs and Rose the towels.

After lunch, they went for a walk on the rebuilt pier then wandered into the funfair, Grace wanting to go on the ferris wheel since she hadn't been allowed the last time they had visited the fair.  So sitting her in the middle of them, the wheel set in motion and all was well until Rose realised the way it went back down meant they were facing forwards and she began panicking, gripping the safety rail tightly.

Alec noticed and reached his hand over to put it on top of hers and she tried to smile.  Then when it began to slow down to let people off, he asked if she was ok.

''No, I'm not ok, I hate it when it goes this way.''

''Are you ok Mummy?  Daddy, doesn't she like it?''

''She's fine Grace, aren't you Rose?''

''Just peachy,'' she squirmed as the wheel descended some more and her stomach lurched again.

They finally got off and Rose had a mind to complain but Alec led her to sit down with Grace at a catering stall and got her some tea to settle her down, telling Grace her mum would be ok.  Grace thought better than to eat an icecream in front of her.  By the time they made it back to the caravan, Rose still wasn't feeling so hot so settling Grace in the kids club for an hour, they went to sit in the bar next door until she came out.

''I nearly went to complain about that ride,'' Rose half joked.

''They do it that way to add more excitement Rose, I didn't notice anyone else getting off looking the shade of green you did.''

''Thanks for that Alec, I suppose you thought it was funny?''

''No, sorry, I did not think it was funny.  You were upset but I don't know what you could have complained about, they probably change the direction every so often and you got unlucky.  What were you going to do, pull your badge out at them?''

Rose thought about it.  ''Yeah, well, I think I lost my stomach at the top somewhere.''

Alec smiled. ''Want to go get it back tomorrow?''

That got him a whack on his arm but he got a smile out of her, it was what they used to do, she was more like the old Rose.  Grace came running out later and wanted to be carried back so Alec put her on his shoulders and fooled around on the way back, something he would never have been able to do if he hadn't braved the operation just over a week ago and he really shouldn't be but he was just happy to be with his now ex wife and daughter again.

Rose decided to have an early night and hoped her stomach had settled down by the next day, Grace had said on the way back all the things she wanted to do and it was going to be a full day and it was only Sunday.  She had just tried to close her eyes when there was a light tap on the door and it opened slightly.

''Rose, can I come in?''

''Yeah, just don't wake Grace up please.''

There was some light coming from outside and she noticed he was wearing his t-shirt and pyjama bottoms as arranged as he sat on the end of the bed.

''Are you feeling better?''

''A little, that will teach me next time, I never liked it when I was a kid, my friend Mickey used to make fun of me and he'd tease me for days, same with the speedway, I used to get sick afterwards and he used to make them spin the car on the waltzers.''

''Sounds like you had fun then.  Listen Rose, maybe I could take Grace swimming in the morning, give you a bit of a break eh?''

''Thanks Alec, she'd like that.  Can I ask you something?''

She sat up, hugging her knees as he moved to the side of her where her legs had been.

''Last Christmas, before we left, I kissed you but you never kissed me back.''

''You took me by surprise and I was afraid to bring up the subject again, in case that was it, a Christmas kiss and you'd slap my face for daring to return it.''

''I wouldn't have, really.  It was the worse Christmas I've ever had.''

''Me too, it wasn't the same, watching Grace open her presents via video link.''

Rose suddenly held her arms out and he moved nearer, wrapping his own around her shoulders as she moved her legs.  They never spoke as she leaned into his chest and he pulled her closer, thankful his heartbeat had returned to normal so she wouldn't notice how fast or slowly it had been beating up until just over a week ago. Rose was almost kneeling as he put his arms around her back and breathed into her neck, daring to kiss it ever so softly that always made her quiver.

They remained silent as Rose moved and he slid under the covers with her and she fell asleep on him, the first decent night's sleep either of them had experienced since their split.  Alec was awake first, it was light but quiet outside though where their caravan was had seemed in a quiet area, no noisy kids running around.  He glanced at his ex wife, she was sleeping and making her funny little noises he had loved so much about her.

He listened and being satisfied she was not awake, tried to slip out of bed before she woke up and threw him out for daring to assume she had wanted him to stay but he was glad he did and they had kissed once, just softly and fallen asleep and he was content with that.  After he slipped back to his own room, he heard Grace was awake and went in, helping her to get dressed then got her breakfast cereal and put some toast on and boiled some water.

''Grace, be a good girl and stay here while I take your mum her breakfast, she was a bit poorly after that ride yesterday.  Ok darlin'?''

''Ok Daddy, will she be alright to go swimming later?''

''Let's just us two go, let mummy have a rest eh?''

So getting a tray, he headed down the narrow corridor to the end bedroom and balancing the tray, opened the door when he didn't hear her moving around, putting it on the dressing table.  He sat beside her and touched her shoulder lightly.

''Hey sleepy, breakfast is ready, eat it before it goes cold.''

Rose pretended to swat him away but she grabbed his arm and pulled him towards her.

''Hey, thanks.  Morning to you too and I'm sorry I fell asleep on you.''

''Don't be, it was nice.  Maybe, you know, while we're here, we can, well, share and just go to sleep together, if you want?''

''We'll see.  Come here.''

After they shared a few light kisses, Rose ate her breakfast and Alec took his daughter swimming, Rose joining them later and just watching, recalling how they had all splashed around on Saturday and Grace had been laughing.  She didn't know how she was feeling, her stomach had settled but it was more than that, Alec was stirring her feelings for him.  She had never stopped loving him, she just couldn't live with him as he had been and he was changing back somewhat to how he used to be but she knew he was just putting on an act for their daughter's sake and come Monday, he would be back at work chasing suspects in a stale case that had broken them up in the first place.

Rose hated Lee Ashworth and his wife even more for what they had done, playing games with Alec and that Claire manipulating Alec to get what she wanted by promising she would turn her husband in and he had believed her for almost a year.  What Alec hadn't told Rose was that from next week, resources were being cut back even more and he would have to take other more urgent cases but it was still tearing him up and he would only be able to work on that one in his spare time. He was fast changing his mind if Rose was willing to give things another shot because Claire had implied she wanted something with him, Tess had been on the prowl and his DC, Martha Jones was liking him more than she should do.

For the next few evenings, they shared a bed, just kissing goodnight and Rose half sleeping on him because she said he was more comfy than the pillows until Thursday night Rose decided she wasn't going to wear her pyjamas and wore a nightdress instead when she let Alec come in the bedroom.  She still wouldn't get dressed or undressed in front of him, they had always enjoyed that when they were married, always resulting in delaying them somewhat.  Rose was sitting up in bed when he came from getting ready for bed and slipped in beside her, still wearing his t-shirt but for the last two nights, wearing sleep shorts and he thought Rose was wanting to raise the stakes somewhat tonight, typical since they were going home on Saturday, to their own places and it would be two weeks before he saw her again.

''Rose, are you sure about a nightdress tonight?''

Rose giggled.  ''Yep, are you sure about those sleep shorts?  I know there's only tonight and tomorrow night but, well, maybe we could do some cuddling?''

''Oh yes Rose, we can cuddle all you want to.  I was thinking, if it's not too much then maybe when you come to visit, you can stay overnight with me, instead of going to the hotel, what do you think?  Will it be too much to ask?''

''No Alec, it's not too much and I've been thinking too, maybe we can come up every weekend, if I don't have to pay for the hotel?''

''I'd like that Rose, very much.  When we leave on Saturday, why don't you follow me and stay Saturday night or is your mother coming down?''

''She arrives on Monday, relax.  Yeah, we can stay Saturday night, Grace would like that, I don't think she'll stop talking about this week once we get back so I'll have to tell my mum we've sort of, you know.''

Alec pulled her closer, nuzzling her neck.  ''Tell her what Rose?  Maybe we should give you something to actual tell her?''

''Such as?''

''Oh I can think of a few things Rose, come here and I'll demonstrate.''

''No Alec, I'm not ready for anything like that yet, I have to know I'm getting all of you back, not part of you and until you tell me you've finished with that case, we can work up to it, kissing, cuddling and maybe you taking off your t-shirt in bed which you can start now, by the way, if you want?''

He didn't need a second invitation as he moved to take it off, grateful she wouldn't see the slight scar he still had, he could cover it in the water by getting wet, it was still a milky-white colour that didn't look out of place when he was in the swimming pool and so far on the beach, he had kept his t-shirt on.  Maybe by the time anything further happened, it would have gone away and she would never find out but he would face that when he had to but as to her reaction to him admitting he'd had a serious heart defect that he'd only just survived, well she might just hit the roof and any chances of a reconciliation would be well and truly blown.  He had to face it, he still had a secret to hide from her.
Chapter 6
The last day of their holiday, Friday, consisted of them walking along the seafront, Grace in the middle and walking on the beach, the girl running in the water and collecting shells and Alec fooling around trying to get her to catch a crab and chase Rose with it, which got him into trouble once they'd settled the giddy five year old in bed for the night after she stayed out late and Alec had to carry her back to the caravan again – something he thought she had done on purpose.

While they had been sitting on the beach, Rose had told her they were going to stay over with him on the Saturday night and the girl had been happy at the thought.

''So we don't have to stay in that hotel again?''

''No and how would you like it if we went every weekend?''

''Yeah!  Can we?  Daddy, are you going to come and see us?''

''Well not yet darlin' maybe soon, let's see how things go eh?  For a few weeks, you come every weekend and stay with me and we'll all go out together.''

''Are you sure Alec?  You can still take her on your own one of the days and we'll have more time, we can leave on Sunday afternoon, get back a bit earlier.  Why don't you spend Saturday afternoons together and I'll go shopping or something?''

''Ok.  We'll do that then, ok Grace?''

So once the tired girl was asleep and Rose had packed everything apart from what they needed the next morning, Alec had something else to ask Rose.

''So, are you going to tell me where you're living then?''

''Not yet, let's just get used to this shall we?  It's been ten months Alec, it's been difficult but you have to believe me, I gave you every chance back then to make things right and once you tell me the case is finished, the killer caught or not, if you tell me it's over for you, then we can go further with this.''

''I'm getting taken off the case Rose, whether I like it or not but I can't give up.  What I can do is make more time for you and Grace, every weekend until you think you can tell me where you live and trust me that I won't make the same mistakes because I won't, I still love you Rose.''

''I know, I never stopped loving you but we couldn't have stayed as we were, you know that.  You prove to me you can stay at home on the weekends when we come to see you and if you figure we're more important than proving who you are convinced is the killer to the point you can't hand it off to someone else, then we'll try and make a go of it.''

''Right then, ok.  When you come and stay, you won't be sharing with Grace will you?'' he smiled.

''No you 'nana but there is one thing.  I don't take precautions any more, I didn't think I needed to so don't get any ideas.''

Alec had a stupid grin on his face.  ''Good thing I was prepared then.  Are you going to go back on it?''

''Well I don't know about that, let's just see.  I came off because well, before all this happened, we were talking about another baby and you were never at home so it wasn't a problem.  Maybe I'll go to the clinic when I get back but I'll have to wait a couple of weeks before I can start them.''

''I can live with that.  So what do you think?  Are you ready to figure out if you're ready or not?''

''I might take some talking into it.''

''Well we have tonight and now tomorrow night, why don't we see?  Let's not get undressed in separate rooms tonight Rose, I missed you.''

''I know, I missed seeing your sexy bum.''

''Is that all?''

''There might had been a few other things I missed about you, I'm sure you can remind me?''

He moved closer and they lay on the seat, Alec wasting no time in unfastening her jeans button and placing his hand on the gap he made when he pulled the zip down, then leaning down, placed a kiss, right where he vividly remembered she liked it the most then pulled her underwear down.  She ruffled his hair as she gasped at his touch, wondering how on earth she had survived a year without him doing that to her, it was her favourite thing.

Eventually, he pulled her up and after turning out the lights, they kissed on the way to the bedroom, Alec with his arms around her waist and kissing her neck from behind, trying not to wake their daughter.  Grace knew she had fallen asleep with her dad carrying her, she had missed him and wondered why suddenly, her mum was kissing him again when they thought they weren't being noticed but she had seen them and gone back to sleep, smiling she was getting him back.

So after they had almost made up for being apart for so long, they had fallen asleep, Alec mindful to put his sleep shorts back on, despite Rose's reluctance to let him use anything just yet but coming pretty close.  He knew though he should still be careful and never thought she would agree to just having sex with him the first time he'd asked after all this time.  He had been a complete ass and he knew it, letting her divorce him and take almost a year to get himself fixed and try and win her back.

It had come as a complete surprise she had told him, out of the blue that she wanted him to go on holiday with them, she must have had it booked for a while and been debating if she should ask him.  So putting off his operation was no longer an option because he wasn't going to go with them and not join in and he'd been lucky getting fitted in at the hospital after he had turned so many dates down, they'd sent for him at least once a month if not more and he kept putting it off, saying he would take the next appointment.  The booking clerk knew what he was going to say before he even answered his phone, which sometimes he didn't so the hospital got wise and called him on his work phone from a blocked number.

When he'd actually rung them and said he was ready to go in and could he make it Friday morning, the booking clerk almost had to be picked up off the floor and said yes, cancelling someone else who hadn't been putting it off for almost a year.  The last couple of nights, well since Rose let him take his t-shirt off in bed, he had been careful not to let her kiss him where his scar was, flipping her over and telling her he had missed kissing his favourite parts of her and getting away with it but for how much longer, he didn't know.

He just hoped she would take it well if she ever found out he had risked everything that Friday morning and he might not have made it.  He had hurriedly gone and made a will, making sure Rose and his daughter were taken care of and trusted in the surgeon who had said if he left it any longer, his chances would be a lot less than they were now.  He had thanked everything he could think of when he had woken up afterwards though there was no-one there except the nurse in the recovery room.

The last week at work had dragged by and he had tried not to let it show he was anxious to get away on Friday night though he expected his DC had noticed when he had muttered something about seeing his ex and his daughter for a week and Martha had huffed and knew she was out of luck, him spending a week with his ex only meant one thing, he was trying to get her back.

When they woke up, they kissed for a while, he had slipped his t-shirt back on, in case Grace called out, which was his excuse anyway and he had got dressed in front of Rose, making her smile again while she stayed in bed and he'd gone to wake the girl.  Once Alec had loaded both cars, Grace decided she wanted to go with her dad.

''Can I go with daddy?  Please?''

Rose relented and said yes, making the girl jump up and down and jumping up to Alec.  They both had car seats which had made it easier during the week though Alec only normally put it in when they came for a visit.  He really shouldn't have been driving at all throughout his illness but he'd had no choice if he wanted to see them.

''You can find your way then?'' he asked as he fastened the excited girl in.

''I'll try and keep up with you but you might have to make a stop for Grace so shall we plan that now?''

Alec got his map out, he always had one with him in case he got tempted to throw the satnav out of the window, he still didn't trust it that much.  He was in a much better mood on the way back though because the week ahead of him on the way there could have turned out to be a nightmare if Rose had made him stay in his own room when Grace wasn't around, he had no idea it was going to lead up to them almost getting back together properly.

Now all he needed to do was not stuff it up again, finish at a reasonable time and catch Lee Ashworth once and for all, then he could have his family back.

They spent the rest of the weekend together until Rose left just after three on Sunday afternoon, getting back to Broadchurch and letting Alec know they had arrived safely.  Rose had given in on Saturday night and let him be the one to take the precautions and she felt better than she had in almost a year.  Afterwards, she had decided to tell him she was going in for another promotion.

''I'm really proud of you Rose, you've come a long way from being a DC.  Do you have to do any more training?''

''Just another exam and if I pass, on the job training until the current DI retires, the last week in July, or sooner if he thinks I can take over.  Ha!  They'll be two DI Hardy's then, think of that.''

''Very funny Rose, you could have been DI Tyler had you wanted to be but you always kept my name, was it just for Grace's sake?''

''Partly, I didn't want her questioning me having a different name and I wasn't quite ready to give up on you altogether I guess.  Alec, there's just about six weeks to Grace's long school holidays.  Get that case out of your system and take some more time off, come and stay with us.''

''Then what Rose?  I go back again?  I can't do that love, not now, I want you back.''

''I know, I want you back too but not until you guarantee it's behind you, let go Alec, please?''

''I'll try Rose, just give me a bit longer.  This holiday has been brilliant, then you staying this weekend.  I'll make arrangements to fill someone else in on that case, I can't just let the families down and tell them we've given up, then by the time Grace breaks up again, I'll put in for a transfer, nearer to where you two are, what do you say?  Tell me where you live, please?''

''Not yet Alec but I'll tell you this much, we live in Dorset now.''

''Thanks Rose, I know where to aim for when I tell the chief but it's still a large county, if I mention some names where they might send me, will you tell me if I'm near?''

''Yeah and do you know why I won't tell you exactly where we live?''

He leaned over to kiss her.  ''Yes, I worked that one out Rose, you don't want any competition for your promotion?''

''Can you blame me?  If I tell you and they offer you a place there, what am I supposed to do?''

''Rose, I won't accept it, honestly.  I'd go teach recruits first rather than take the promotion away from you, there must be somewhere else they can send me in Dorset, they'll have to give me a choice, they can't just say I have to go to wherever they send me, well not unless something happens and I really have to move without being asked where I want to go.  That will only happen if I arrest someone and they walk away and I can assure you love, after all this time, all that's happened with us and you being away from me for almost a year, if I find out it was him, there is no way he's going to get away with it, I promise you.''

''I believe you Alec and I know you wouldn't take my promotion from me, if by some remote chance he does get away if you ever catch him, I know you won't let him get away without a fight and like you say, they'll have to give you a choice but I don't want you to have to choose between teaching recruits and taking my job so if you don't know where we are, you won't get tempted, will you?''

''Well love, if they do, then you can't put the blame on me, can you?''
Chapter 7
Rose was to take her DI exam the week after they got back from holiday.  Her mother had come down to look after Grace on the Monday afternoon, she had gone straight to Ellie's to pick her up and Ellie had greeted her.

''Hello Jackie, had a good journey?''

''Not really, the train was full since it's the bank holiday, don't know why Rose had to work today.''

''She said it was because she had last week off.  She didn't say much about her holiday but I got quite a bit out of Grace, she's in the garden with Tom and Fred's in his pushchair wanting to get out and join them.''

''Why, what's Grace been saying Ellie?''

''You'd best ask Rose about that but it seemed Alec spent the whole week with them and Grace says she saw them kissing more than once and could hear her mum giggling when she woke up a few mornings.''

''Really?  Maybe that holiday did them some good, knocked some sense into the pair of them.  I swear Ellie, if they don't get back together soon I'll knock it into them myself.  Alec never calls me but the day before they went away, he actually rung to say he was looking forward to it and asked why I wasn't going with them.  Told him not to be stupid and why did he think I wasn't going, don't know if he mentioned to Rose or not but he seemed nervous, probably thought Rose was gonna make him stay in his room all week.  Now it seems like he's been in hers.''

''Well Rose seemed in a good mood earlier, I've not seen her without a frown on her face since the day I introduced myself to her and when she came back from her Christmas visit to him.  I hope they have made up but why did they get divorced? Rose never told me and I didn't want to upset her, took me ages to persuade her to stop paying for a minder and let me take Grace for her.  You can tell me to mind my own business and not be so nosey.''

''No, I'm surprised she never told you Ellie.  It was and still is a case they were working on, the one in Sandbrook near where they used to live.  Alec took it a bit too personally and was never at home so she filed for divorce, gave him six weeks to quit the case and go back to them but he didn't, stupid man.  Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with him, oh Ellie, you should have seen them when they got married, they were like a couple of teenagers, even when Grace came along, they were so happy, then those two girls went missing and when one of them was found, in the river, it destroyed Alec and their marriage got worse.  I think deep down inside, he thought it could just as easily been his daughter that he found.  Even now, he won't give up until they find her cousin.''

''I know something about the case, from when it was in the papers, I'd left to have Fred by then though.  I can see his point on it, I expect he thought if he didn't catch her killer, all kids were in danger.''

''Well if you ask me, it was the neighbours, Rose wouldn't talk about it to me but let's face it, it had to be someone the girls knew.  Who else could it have been?  Alec just wants justice for the families but he's trying to get it at his family's expense.  I wonder if the two girls parents know to what extent he's going to bring in the killer?''

Just then, Grace came back in having heard her grandma's voice.  ''Nanna, you're here!  Guess what Nanna?''

''What sweetheart, did you have a nice holiday?''

''Yeah, daddy stayed all week and mummy got sick on the big wheel but after, I didn't have an icecream because I thought she would get sick again but daddy held her hand and guess what else?''

Jackie knew her granddaughter could spin a yarn with the best of them, she was part Tyler after all.  ''Go on Grace, tell me what you said to auntie Ellie.''

''They were getting kissy on the way back from the club, daddy was carrying me then when we got back to the caravan, he kissed her when he put me on my bed.''

''I hope you're not making this up, Grace Hardy?'' Jackie smiled.

''No Nanna, honestly and I heard mummy laughing before we came home before daddy came to get me up.  We went on the beach and daddy wanted to get a crab to chase mummy with.  She told him off and he grabbed her and kissed her cheek. Then we stayed at daddy's on Saturday night before we came home and mummy said we can go every weekend and stay there instead of the hotel.''

Jackie looked at Ellie.  ''Did she now?  I think I need a talk with your mum Grace, don't you?''

Poor Rose had to admit everything when she got home and her mother confronted her.

''Don't go blaming Grace Rose, why didn't you tell me you and Alec were getting back together?''

''Well hello to you too Mum, if you'd given me the chance.  We only got back yesterday afternoon you know, we stayed the weekend and yes, we're thinking about it but we still have a long way to go yet, Alec still won't let go of that case but he's promised me the police are scaling back again anyway and he's gonna get someone else to look at it.''

''Well I should hope so, what do the families expect?  It tore you two apart, I'd say whoever did it destroyed more than two families.  Take him back Rose, for yours and Grace's sakes, you both need him.  Did you get along ok over the last week?''

''Yeah and before you ask, we slept in the same room from Sunday night but that was all we did for most of the week, it wasn't until Thursday night we talked about getting back together properly, he still hasn't met with my conditions yet. Anyway, I've got to study for my exam on Monday and yes, he knows and if he even thinks he's gonna creep in and take my promotion from me, he can think again. That's why I still won't tell him where we are except we're in Dorset.''

''Well won't it be better if he does know, so he can avoid it?  Why would he want to anyway?''

''Because he says he's gonna ask for a transfer nearer to us and I said I would tell him if he got offered something if it was close to us, I don't want him stealing my job.  He looked better though, not as tired and pained as he was.  I know that dip he took in the river didn't do him any good but until we went on holiday, I never noticed any difference in him and now, well he's more like his old self apart from him refusing to give up that case.''

''Just give him time Rose, he knows now why you left him, to give him a wake-up call, it's down to him now to do something about it, if he really wants you back.''

''I know Mum, are you ok with leaving early on Saturday so me and Grace can get off early?''

Jackie laughed.  ''Don't be daft Rose, why don't you go up on Friday night?''

''Maybe next time, don't want to seem too keen, do I?  You keep the key and leave when you're ready though, you don't have to leave with us, just put the key through the letterbox, I'll get it back to Ellie on Monday.''

Back near Sandbrook, after Rose and Grace had left on Sunday afternoon, he looked at himself in the mirror.  He had shaved some of his beard off but he knew he couldn't go back to being clean shaven altogether and Rose had not objected after he had kissed her that morning.  It had been nice, having them both stay overnight and she had promised to come up every weekend until he got a transfer but now, he was faced with having to admit defeat and pass it on to someone of junior rank and it would probably be his nuisance of a DC, Martha Jones.

He knew he had to put her in her place, she had started getting too familiar with him which was why when he had left last Friday, he'd made a point of saying he was spending the week with his ex wife and their daughter.  He didn't however, want her to get the wrong idea that he'd said it just to put her off so he was going to take some photos off his phone and go to the photo shop in town and print some out and put them in frames on his desk.  The ones he used to have had gone because it pained him too much to look at the two most important people in his life whom he thought would never be a true part of him again.

Now after a week away, there was a light at the end of a long tunnel, just like when he had gone under the water and someone had pulled him out.  He went to the records office and got the rest of the case files out and took them back to his office, added his pile to it and called in his DC.

''Sit down Jones, I've got a job for you.  We're scaling resources back and I've got to work on more important cases so I'm putting you on this when you've got nothing else to do.  Go out and see the families, get to know them and see if you can make friends with this woman.''

He tossed the file with a photo of a woman on the first page.  ''She likes to be known as Claire Ripley, she's hiding somewhere because I tried to get her to turn her husband in.  See if you can find her, she doesn't know you.''

Martha looked at him like he'd grown two heads.  ''Seriously?  Is this some kind of punishment Sir?''

''For what Jones?''

''Seriously?  You have to ask?  You think I'm getting too close to you so this is your way of telling me to back off.''

''Grow up Jones.  I need someone to take over this case, it's torn me apart for the best part of a year.  When it all started, I had a wife and daughter and I lost them because I was determined I was going to solve it.  Now I have a chance to get them back and I'm going to take it so think what you like and yes, you have been getting too personal though I wasn't going to mention it but since you have.  If you think it's punishment, then go report me then see what happens when you get a lecture from the chief about it.''

Martha huffed.  ''Well from what I heard, it didn't stop your ex wife did it?''

''That was uncalled for Jones and for your information, we were both single, never been married before and we got married three months after we met, I think there's a difference, don't you?  We made up while we were on holiday and I'm going to see the chief shortly to ask for a transfer, that's the reason I'm giving this to you.  I thought you would like the challenge or are you not up to it?''

''Sorry Sir, I was out of place.  I'd be happy to take this case on when my other duties permit.  Can I speak freely, off the record?''

''You might as well.''

''I didn't know your ex wife, she was getting ready to leave when I arrived here.  You hardly mentioned her until a few weeks ago, what was I supposed to think?  I didn't know you were getting back with her.''

''Neither did I until we were away and now there's a distinct possibility it's going to happen, I'm not going to let anything spoil it, it's taken me almost a year and that includes this case and you, do we understand each other?''

''Yes Sir.''

Pleased he had got that out of the way, he went to see his chief who had noticed the change in Alec's mood since he'd got Rose's call about the holiday.

''I take it your holiday went well Alec?''

''You could say that, we may just be getting back together again so, I'm here to ask for a transfer, somewhere near Dorset.''

''It's a big county Alec, can you be a bit more precise?''

''She won't tell me where they are living, just Dorset but I mentioned Exeter and she never said that was too far away so I'm guessing it's quite near the border with Devon.  Does that narrow it down any?''

The chief smiled.  Finally, the irritating detective had come to his senses and getting back with his wife, he thought Alec had become worse since Rose left.

''Slightly I suppose, leave it with me.  How soon are you wanting it?''

''Rose is coming up on Saturday, I'd like to be able to tell her I've made a start, make her see I'm serious about it.  The last year or so has been hell for both of us, Christmas was the worst, not being with Grace in person and having to celebrate a few days earlier.  I'd like not to have to repeat that this year.''

''Of course you don't Alec.  Leave it with me, and I know where she went to but I can't go against her wishes and tell you, you have to understand that.  I can see what positions are coming up and put your name forward, then you'll be given a choice of those offered to you, check with Rose and if it's within a reasonable travelling distance, then you can accept it.  I take it when you do get offered something you'll want to move right away?''

Alec smiled.  ''Oh I expect so.  I've given DC Jones the Sandbrook case to work on in her spare time, she could use the experience.  Since the Newberry's and the Gillespie's think I've already given up on their girls, they shouldn't be too surprised when she pays them a visit.''

''I hope she knows what she's taking on, after what it did to you and Rose.  I know you don't want to hear this Alec but you were the biggest idiot around letting her go like that.  Bringing in a killer and potential kidnapper is one thing but no-one expected it to cause your marriage to break up.''
Chapter 8
Alec didn't need reminding of what the chief had just told him.  So when another case came up, thankfully not involving children of any age, he was determined not to get as caught up in it.  It had been a year since he concentrated wholly on a case and he found it difficult but another few weeks time he would be out of here and on his way to an unknown town in Dorset or maybe Devon.  He would even consider teaching recruits in Exeter if it meant he could go back and live with his wife and daughter again.

He had no idea even what kind of house she lived in, just there were two bedrooms and it was furnished but they could always get something bigger if they did all move back in together.  He knew either Rose or Grace would have told Jackie by now, he was surprised she hadn't been on the phone to him demanding he got his act together and leave before he got a transfer.

He could end up anywhere but at least he'd have a choice, well unless something really stupid happened of course.  His work phone rang just after five, it was Rose.

''Hi love, how's Grace?''

''She's fine, she's been spinning tales to my mother, about us.  Seems she wasn't that sleepy the other night when you were carrying her back to the caravan, she saw us kissing.''

''She always was as sneaky as you Rose.  I've officially put in for a transfer, shouldn't take too long and I've put my DC on to finding Claire Ripley, see if we can get her to finally turn on her husband, maybe another woman on the case will get Claire to confide in her.''

''That's great Alec.  So I'll see you on Saturday then?''

''You could call before then Rose, if you want?  You don't have to just call to tell me things or ask something.  Can you put Grace on for me?''

So Rose studied in her spare time at the station and Jackie kept Grace occupied in the evenings and by Friday, Rose was confident she would pass the test, Alec had offered to go over a few things with her, saying she was married to a DI for four years after all.  The weekend went well, they shared a bed and more on Saturday night and things were looking up for the both of them.  They had laid in bed early on Sunday morning, Alec with his t-shirt on as his scar was still not quite gone, getting away with it just about.

''Mmm, Alec, why do you insist on not letting me get your t-shirt off?  Are you hiding something?''

''No love, it's just it reminds me too much of what you used to do to me.''

Rose smiled, remembering.  ''Yeah, I suppose but it's all one-sided Alec, you kiss me, I want to return the favour.''

''You will, I've just missed you, that's all, let's not argue eh?  You have to go home later and I want you before you go, it's still early, Grace won't be awake yet.''

He flipped her onto her back and lifted the thin nightdress she wore.  He wondered just how long it was going to take his scar to heal and how long he'd get away with just taking his t-shirt off at night.  He was soon going to find out.

Tuesday, Rose had her exam over and had to wait until Friday for the results and Martha found her new vocation, tracking down Claire Ripley whom it turned out wasn't that far away and gained her trust.  By Thursday, she had come up with yet another tale and told them Lee had killed Pippa but she knew nothing about Lisa. Alec was sat with Martha across the interview room table.

''I hope you've stopped playing games Claire.  Did you tell DC Jones the truth this time?''

''Yes Alec, I told the truth, I swear.  It was Lee, we were trying to get her to sleep, the night Cate and Ricky were at that wedding, Lisa wanted to go meet this guy who kept asking her out so Lee gave her something but it was to much for her system and when I went to check on her, she was gone.  Lee took her out to the woods, laid her amongst the bluebells so she would be found but it rained that night, the river must have burst its banks and carried her downstream.''

Alec shook his head, hoping for once she was telling the truth.  He went outside while Martha got Claire to write everything down and sent some units to where they knew Lee Ashworth was now living, him not daring to stay next door to the mother of the dead girl.

''So where's Lisa Claire?'' Alec asked when he was sure Ashworth would be brought in.

''I swear I don't know, she never came back, she must have run off with that guy, I think they called him Gary, don't know his surname, she never said.''

Ashworth was brought in and Alec went to interview him.

''It's a pack of lies Hardy, I never touched Pippa and I have no idea where Lisa got to, probably gone off with that bloke I chased off, he was watching her.''

''That's not what Claire told us.  You drugged Pippa then disposed of her body in the woods.''

''Come on Hardy, you believe what that stupid cow is telling you even after all this time?  I hear you got divorced, what's it feel like?  Having your wife leave you? Claire left me, because you were trying to turn her against me, poetic justice.''

''Leave my wife out of this Ashworth, this is not about her or me.  You've already been cautioned, I'm holding you pending further investigation.  Officer, lock him up for now and call his solicitor if he wants one.  What happened to your car Ashworth?''

''Sold it, what's it to you?''

''Who to?''

It turned out it had been sold to a 'mate' but the man moved around a lot so an alert went out for both and later that day, a call came through they had caught up with the man.  Alec went out with his DC and Tess Henchard, who was not too thrilled to have been called out on it.

''What do you need me for Alec?'' Tess asked him as they arrived at the man's address and two uniformed officers were questioning him.

Alec had checked the car documents, Ashworth's name listed as the last registered keeper and another officer securing the keys.  The new owner had no choice but to hand them over and Alec invited her to search the car, starting with the glove box. She triumphantly held up a pendant that had belonged to the girl who had been killed and Alec felt a huge sigh of relief.  Finally, he could go home to Rose and his daughter.

''I'll take this back to the station,'' Tess declared.  ''Maybe you want to come out and celebrate with me Alec?''

Alec shook his head.  ''I don't think so Tess, I'm going back to Rose, now this is finally coming to an end, I've already asked for a transfer, nearer to where she's now living.''

That was news to her.  She put the necklace into an evidence bag, Alec signed it and told her to go directly back but she was annoyed her offer had been turned down and called Dave, the married DS whom she was trying to make up with even though he wouldn't leave his nagging wife.  They arranged to meet for a drink and since she knew Alec would be no wiser, left the evidence in the car and went inside the hotel, also leaving her purse when she arrived as Dave was waiting for her, them both walking off arm in arm.

They hadn't seen a hooded figure watching them leave and skilfully using a piece of wire to open the passenger door, grabbing the evidence bag and the purse for good measure.  Claire was used to cleaning up her husband's messes by now, this was no different.  Tess didn't know what to do when she returned to her car over an hour later, her purse missing and the glove box open, now empty.  She got her boyfriend to phone the station since her own phone had been in the handbag and he had to pretend she had called him on a payphone.

Alec was furious.  He had trusted her to take the only clue they had tying Ashworth to Pippa's death and Tess had screwed it up big time.  In less than 48 hrs, Rose and Grace were coming to see him and he had hoped to tell them he was finally through with the case and she was going to tell him where they were living.  He suspected Tess had done it on purpose to get back at him for turning her down again after she tried last time.

Now instead, he had to tell Rose that Ashworth would walk free.  He still kept Ashworth locked up though, forensics were going to go back through his previous home again on Monday now they had an idea to look for drugs that were used to put the young girl to sleep, hoping it hadn't already been thrown away.  He spent Friday mulling over another case, leaving Martha to have to try and find some more evidence but just after ten that morning, Alec and Tess had been summoned to the chief's office but not before Tess tried to put the blame on Alec by telling the chief he had taken the evidence himself.

''That's a lie Tess and you know it, I have proof I handed it to you, other officers were present.  Did you stop off somewhere to 'celebrate' after I turned you down eh?''

The chief looked at him.  ''That's enough Alec, I don't care whose car it was in, it's gone and I'm chewing you both out for it.  If you don't find any more evidence at the house on Monday, we'll have to let him go.  Ashworth will have to be charged or we can't keep him so I want something by tonight, so both of you get on to it. Henchard, I don't believe what you told me before Hardy came in, your friend Dave called it in and Hardy would be the last person to get him to call on his behalf, given he once tried to lure his ex wife away from him.''

Tess looked disappointed but she half wished she had done it on purpose and would make something out of it later.  When Rose got to Alec's on Saturday lunchtime, she could tell things were not well.  He hadn't wanted to call her and tell her, he was sorely disappointed he couldn't tell her he wanted to go and join her, wherever she was living.

''Hey, what's wrong?'' Rose asked him when Grace had gone to her room before Alec was to take her out.

Alec told her, then Rose took hold of him.  She was less then kind about Tess, she had not got on well with the woman since their first meeting, given that Alec had recently broken up with her.

''It's not your fault Alec, you tried, what was the stupid woman thinking of?  That Dave is never gonna leave his wife for her, why is she even trying?''

Alec tried to smile.  ''She asked me, before we left, to go for a drink with her, she must have called him when I turned her down.  I told her I was going back to you, that's if you'll have me, after all this.''

''You are daft sometimes Alec, that's what I love about you.  You take Grace out and we'll talk about it tonight, yeah?''

When they finally got Grace to bed, they did little talking about it, Rose assuring him she didn't blame him and he had really tried.  So Sunday morning, she relented and told him where she was living.

''Broadchurch?  Where the hell is Broadchurch?  I've never even heard of it.''

''That was rather the point Alec, to get away from it all, it's nice there, it's by the sea which ok, you're not so keen on and I've made some friends.  Mum likes it there, any excuse for her to come down and look after Grace.  I was thinking that during the six week school holiday to get her down for the whole time, Ellie needs a break from looking after Grace so I'd have to give her some money since she'd be giving up her part time job, will you help me out?''

"Sure love, if she's willing to do it, I might even be there by then though and I don't know how she feels about me now, will she be staying with you?''

Rose decided to tease him.  ''Well if you get your transfer, won't they find you somewhere to stay?''

''What are you trying to tell me Rose?  You don't want me back?''

''Well, I don't know if the house will be big enough for all of us, Grace sleeps with me, mum just about fits into Grace's single bed.''

He put his arms around her as he lay her back against the pillow.  ''Then maybe you could use your spare time to find a bigger place to rent eh?''

''Mmm, give me an incentive Alec.  You can start by getting dressed in front of me when I'm here and I don't mean when it's dark and by taking your t-shirt off when you wake up.  You know how much I miss kissing your hairy chest and your…''
She stopped and put her finger on his t-shirt where she meant, making him smile but if she did what he thought was the best thing in the world to him, she would notice.  Why couldn't his scar have disappeared by now?  He supposed it was his own fault for leaving his operation too long, he should have had it done before she left him, then she may not have gone or he would have stopped the divorce.  He'd been punishing himself and he knew it when there had been no need.

Then, without any warning, Rose pushed him off her and onto his back, reaching for his t-shirt hem and pulling it up.  ''I want to do it now Alec, you know what it means?  I want to have sex with you, without you wearing anything.''

''We can't Rose, what if Grace wakes up?''

''She won't, it's still early and she'll play until one of us goes in.  Look, I went to the clinic but I can't go back on anything until after next weekend, I'll be perfectly ok and I'm tired of you using those things, they really aren't the same you know.  Next weekend, I'll be out of commission, well I maybe ok on Saturday night but I was thinking, maybe we can come up on Friday night, I'll see if I can leave early, pick Grace up from school and come straight up?''

''Oh yes Rose, that's the best news I've heard, you being here for two nights.  Why don't we just wait, until you go back on the pill?''

Rose was already edging his t-shirt higher, maybe it would still cover where his scar was, she needn't lift it all the way off and it was all bunched up, she would be far too engrossed in what she was doing to him, which after she had thoroughly done both sides, they would begin to have sex and afterwards, well he could easily pull it back down and next weekend, it wouldn't matter.  So he gave in and it felt glorious but as he lay her back down on the pillow afterwards, Rose ending up on top, she pulled his t-shirt over his head before he could stop her and she went for what had got them into this earlier.

Suddenly she stopped and put her finger, right where his skin was still white and the hairs not quite grown back.

''What's this Alec?  What have you been hiding all this time?''
Chapter 9
Alec knew the game was up, how else could he explain the milky coloured patch of skin over his heart?

Rose was already preparing to get out of bed and put some clothes on, she was not having this conversation without any and Alec pulled his t-shirt back down and reached above his head to retrieve his sleep shorts from the headboard.

''Rose, let me explain, please.  It's nothing to worry about, I had an operation.''

''What?'' she questioned, trying not to raise her voice as to alert Grace they were about to have an argument, since the girl had heard her giggling in the caravan.

''Calm down Rose, listen to me very carefully.  We had enough going on, I didn't want to alarm you.  It was after I got pulled out of the river, I know it was you that made me go for that medical so don't deny it.  The day you were leaving, I got the results.''

''You might as well tell me Alec.''

''I had heart arrhythmia and the only cure was having a pacemaker fitted.''

''You were ill and you never told me?  How could you Alec?  Do you think I would have left if I had known?  Why did you hide it from me for so long?  No wonder you didn't want me to see you, I thought it was because we had been apart for so long but it wasn't.  You didn't trust me Alec, how do you think that makes me feel?''

''I did trust you Rose but there was so much going on, the case, us arguing, trying to keep Grace out of it, it was too much.  I never would have let you go if I'd not been so ill.''

''Why didn't you do something Alec?''

''I did, the week before we went on holiday, I wanted you to take me back.''

''You could have died Alec, how do you think we would have coped without you?   I'm getting up now, I'll go get Grace dressed then I'm taking her home early, I need time to think about this.''

''Please Rose, don't go love, not after what we just did.''

''I'm sorry Alec, I just don't know what to think any more, that you kept this from me.  How would I have found out?  From the hospital, my chief, if you'd died having the operation or died on the job or collapsed somewhere?''

''I didn't though, I made a will so you two would be taken care of.''

Rose got out of bed.  ''And that makes it better?  That's supposed to compensate?  That was the reason you signed the papers, the Alec Hardy I married wouldn't have let me just walk away, not left me endless nights wondering why the hell one case was more important than your wife and daughter but you were getting like that, even before the river incident.''

''I was told the near drowning made it worse, I could have already been like that before, they weren't sure.''

''You should have told me.   I'm going home to think about this Alec, I'm sorry, this is too much.  I'll come next weekend but we'll stay in the hotel, if I haven't figured out how this has affected me, did you not think about that?''

''I thought you would understand Rose, I'm sorry.  I know this must be difficult for you but if you'd not taken off my t-shirt, you would never have known.''

''And that's supposed to make it right, not knowing?  Why didn't you get the operation done sooner then?''

''I didn't think you'd take me back really, when you asked me to go on holiday, it gave me the kick I needed.   Please Rose, just wait until this afternoon.  We can go out for lunch, Grace will be disappointed if you leave early, she's really happy.''

''Ok but I'm doing it for her, remember that.''

The rest of the day was strained to see the least, Grace noticed something was wrong, especially when they left early and her mum only gave her dad a kiss on the cheek, not hug and kiss like they did last week and on holiday but she kept quiet all the way home, hoping it wasn't always going to be like that just when she thought her dad was finally coming home.

Rose's results had been delayed on Friday so she was hoping to get them when she got to work Monday morning but as she drove home, she had to concentrate on getting back, not on what Alec had just finally told her.  She had been devastated to think he could have held that from her, the fact he could have died either in hospital or anywhere else.  She had to call her mother when she got back, she couldn't cope with this on her own and they had just shared something special between them that morning, before she had done something stupid like take his t-shirt off but she had initiated it last night, it was what they used to do when she wanted him but this morning had been spontaneous and they had both wanted it.

She knew there was a 50-50 chance something might come of it, that was partly why she hadn't bothered with him using anything because there was every chance he would go back to live with them once his transfer came through but now?  How could she trust him again after he hid that from her?  They got back, getting unpacked and getting Grace ready for going back to school then after she had bathed her daughter, rang her mother but Jackie was going out and didn't have time to talk.

''What's wrong Rose?   I only saw you yesterday morning, how did the weekend go?''

''Ok until this morning, can we talk?''

''Oh I'm going out sweetheart, sorry, call me tomorrow eh?  Are you taking him back then?''

''I don't know Mum, something happened this morning.  I'll call you tomorrow when I've got Grace to bed.''

She had sent Alec a message to say they had got home, he always worried until he heard from her.  He had received it and sent her one back saying thanks for letting him know but he wanted so badly to tell her how sorry he was for being an idiot. After ten months of being apart, they had finally got somewhere on holiday and now he had ruined it.

Rose took Grace to school the next morning and went to work after dropping her at the breakfast club, thankful someone had been mindful to start one even though it was extra cost but since she now saved money on after school care, she couldn't really complain and Alec was putting extra money in now and was going to give her the cost back for the caravan hire, that's if he still was after yesterday.  She got to work and knocked on the chief's door.

''Oh come in Rose, I've got some good news for you, you passed.''

''Thanks.  So am I guaranteed the job then, when DI Marsh retires?''

''As far as I'm concerned though it will have to be put out to interested parties but I doubt anyone would want to move to a small coastal town where hardly anything happens apart from the six week holiday period.  I wouldn't worry about it but we can't do it officially just yet, do your on the job training and come the 25th of July, we'll make it official, unless he decides to leave earlier then we'll put you in charge temporarily for a week or so until it comes through.  How was your weekend, are things getting better with your ex?''

''I don't want to talk about it Ma'am if you don't mind.  It's something personal that I can't discuss between me and Alec, I don't mean any disrespect to you, it won't interfere with my work.''

''Good, I'm glad to hear it.  Well I'll let you get on, I'm sure there's a lot more to learn than just answering a few questions, nothing beats getting out there and doing it for real.''

Her other boss noticed the change in her mood but decided to leave it, the DI knew his DS was trying to patch up her failed marriage and was proud of the way she had buried herself in her work, becoming a DS and then going for yet another promotion in less than a year.  He just hoped she wasn't over-compensating and trying to compete with her ex, just what the force needed, two DI Hardy's.  He had chuckled to himself imagining them both competing for his old job even though he favoured Rose slightly, the job would have to be offered out and he was sure Rose had mentioned he was trying to get a job nearer to where she lived.

Well, it wasn't going to be his problem in a few weeks time and he was going to spring it on her that he was leaving a week early, to see if she really was ready to take over from him since his wife had already booked a two week cruise.   Rose got to Ellie's to pick Grace up just after five and the girl came running to her from the back garden.

''Mummy, can Tom and Danny teach me to skateboard?''

The two boys were already grinning at Rose.  ''I don't think so honey, you're too young, you're not six yet.  What have you two been telling her?''

Tom spoke up.  ''Nothing Mrs Hardy, Grace saw us earlier and wanted a go, we just wanted to see if it was ok.''

''Well I think you should wait a few years boys, don't you, you're twice her age remember?  Come on Grace, say goodbye and maybe if auntie Ellie is going to the skateboard park with Tom she can take you to watch.''  She saw Ellie looking at her, her friend would surely want an account of what happened at the weekend.  ''Grace, just go watch cartoons with Fred for a minute please?''

The girl went off, as did the two boys.  Rose knew they meant no harm, Grace was always kicking a football around with them and she was surprised they let her.

''Come on Rose, spill the beans, what happened then?''

Rose sat down in the kitchen and burst out crying.  ''It's really over this time Ellie, he kept something from me, for almost a year, I can't believe it.''

Ellie made some tea and handed it to a distraught Rose.  ''Is he seeing someone else or was he, you know, before you went on holiday?''

''No, I don't think so, it was much worse, he kept quiet that there had been something wrong with him.  I don't know how I feel about it Ellie, how could he not tell me?''

''Tell you what Rose?''

''I can't say, not even his boss knows Ellie, if anyone found out, he'd get into trouble at the very least.''

''What has he done?  It can't be that bad and in case you hadn't noticed, I'm no longer in the police, I won't tell anyone and your mum's over a hundred miles away, who else can you talk to?''

''Promise me Ellie, you won't even tell Joe?''

''I promise Rose, what the hell is so bad?''

Rose told her, leaving out a few minor details of how she had discovered it and Ellie was astonished.

''He kept it quiet, for a year?  Well I could say serves you right for taking his t-shirt off I suppose but that's beside the point, he should have told you.''

''I know and now, how can I trust him again?   I did something really stupid Ellie and you can tell me I'm an idiot if you want?''

''I might, what is it?''

''We've been, well you know but he's been taking the precautions, I stopped when I left him though I'm going back on it after next week but yesterday morning, we sort of did without and I'm, well, near my monthly.''

Ellie laughed.   ''That's not being stupid Rose, that's call lust, you missed him, that's all.  I'm not telling you what to do Rose, you have to work it out, with or without him but give him a chance, he's probably feeling just as bad as you are right now. Are you still going to see him every weekend?''

''I have to, I can't break my promise to Grace.  I'll see how I feel about it at the weekend but I'm gonna book the hotel, just in case.''

While Rose had been at work, things were going from bad to worse for Alec and his DC.  Now he had got her to stop chasing after him with that look on her face all day, nothing had come of the search of Ashworth's previous residence, Claire must have done a good job of disposing of the evidence and for all he knew, she could have already gone back to him but he was fairly sure the break-in to Tess's car had been kids, no-one knew they were going to search that car, it had taken some finding.

They had nothing to hold Ashworth on and he walked out of the station at three in the afternoon and Alec knew it was all over, the man was being smug, not even issuing a formal complaint for being held even though Alec had applied for more time to question him and been granted it under the circumstances.

The weekend had started fairly well for him, he was seeing Rose and it was like dating her again, not that they had done much actual 'dating' as much as they had spent just going back to his place and him trying to get in her knickers and she had lasted all of three attempts before he had succeeded.   Saturday night had been wonderful, he felt like he had the first time she had done it to him but Sunday morning, that had been sheer bliss, not using anything, just like they used to.  Then one swift movement of taking off his t-shirt had ruined it and now he would have to gain her trust again and not by letting a killer and potential kidnapper walk out a free man.

He would get Lee Ashworth because at one time, he thought it would kill him but now, he had a new lease of life, albeit he had done it to get Rose back and now she no longer trusted him, he would continue trying to prove Ashworth's guilt even if it was only in his spare time.  Little did he know he wasn't going to get the chance as things plotted against him without his knowledge.
Chapter 10
When Rose got home, she no longer felt like going over what she had told Ellie.  Ellie couldn't offer her any advice that her mother wouldn't have come up with so Rose resolved herself to going back to how it had been before their holiday and hoped she would get away with not getting pregnant.  If she did, she would just have to tell him if it came to it, she could hardly deny it was his, she had told him she could never go with another man, no-one had compared to him.

She never said anything when they arrived to meet him the following Saturday, Alec secretly hoping she would change her mind and come Friday night and stay with him but he got the usual message to meet at the shopping mall and she would see him at six.  The way his week had gone, he wasn't really in the mood to even argue with her, he knew full well what she could be like when she wanted to be, as much as he still loved her.

Grace had noticed the change in both their moods since their holiday and just before he was due to go meet Rose, the girl asked him what was wrong.

''Why doesn't mummy kiss you goodbye properly now Daddy?  She's been really sad.''

''I know princess, you have to help her to stop feeling sad, can you do that?''

''Yes Daddy, she talks to auntie Ellie about you all the time.  Will that help?''

''I don't know Grace, maybe.  I think your mum just needs for you to give her extra hugs, I'm sure that will help, don't you?''

''I think it might.  Tom and Danny wanted to teach me to skateboard but mummy wouldn't let them.''

Alec smiled, glancing in the rear-view mirror at his young daughter.  In no time at all, she would be six and he was going to miss her birthday again.  Well not without a fight he was.  He would give Rose until next weekend then he was going to do something about it.  Hopefully, he should hear about his transfer soon and a vacancy had arisen in Dorset, he wasn't quite sure where and although Rose had said she lived there, he had no idea where she actually worked, why would he?  There were several police stations around the area but maybe he should check with his boss, not that he would tell him he supposed.

He knew Rose was awaiting her exam results but surely if she was due the promotion, they wouldn't advertise the job?  He couldn't just come out and ask her where she actually was, she was now barely speaking to him again.  That holiday week had been just what they needed and the two weekends after but now, it had set them back almost a year.  He greeted Rose as he took Grace out of her car seat and the girl held on to him as she was handed to her mother.

''Don't forget to kiss mummy goodbye.  Can I go home with you tomorrow Daddy? Can mummy come?''

''I don't know Grace, Rose, is it ok?''

''Yeah, I'll collect her from there tomorrow but can we make it from ten until four?''

''Sure Rose, anything you want.  We could meet for lunch at one?''

''No, it's best not.  Come on Grace.  Did you give her something to eat?''

''Yes, she's fine.  Rose, we need to talk love, you know we do.''

''Not now Alec, maybe when I collect her tomorrow.''

Alec watched them drive off to the hotel, his newly mended heart was in his mouth, it really hurt after they had got so close to getting back together again, maybe she would talk tomorrow?  The following morning though, things were just going to get worse when he set off to meet Rose and passed a newsagents with the sign outside for 'The Sunday Herald' about his recent case.  He risked stopping to pick up the trashy newspaper and read the front page with the headlines 'Sandbrook case falls apart due to police blunder.'

He didn't have to read any more.  Since he had declined to comment, Tess Henchard had seized the opportunity to put the blame on him for giving her the evidence to take back when she had clearly told him she had somewhere to go and it was his fault it was stolen by not taking it back himself because he was too busy mooning over his ex wife and trying to get her back.  She also said at least two other women in the department were chasing him since he had got divorced but refused to comment she was one of them, citing that she and Alec had been an item before he had got married and that was all.

He sat in the car by the side of the road, debating what to do when his phone rang – damn, it was Rose, probably wanting to know why he hadn't been waiting in his usual place, the first time since they began the arrangement he had been late and she knew it.

"Sorry Rose, I got delayed, I'll be there in a few minutes and I have something to tell you.''

He thought he should come clean, Rose knew about Tess and he had joked on holiday she had been trying to lure him back, Rose had even said if she tried again she would pay a visit and scratch her eyes out, something he wouldn't have minded actually watching.  He pulled in at the side of Rose since he no longer considered she would think he was simply going to drive off with the girl and never bring her back, that wasn't his style.  He picked up the newspaper and noted Grace was still in her seat but it was a busy car park.

''Have you see the morning paper yet?''

Rose took it from his hand.  He had not yet told her Ashworth had walked free but he surmised her boss may have told her.  Rose had found out a few days ago and meant to tell him how sorry she was about it after all that hard work and he had been excited last weekend that he could finally get it finished and now, according to what she was reading, that cow Tess had rubbed salt into the wounds.

Rose smiled at the part where Tess stated two other women where chasing him apart from his 'mooning' over his ex wife, well at least she had got a mention but she wasn't going to let him off that easily.

''So who is she then Alec?  Care to tell me now?''

''Don't be ridiculous Rose, there is no-one else chasing me and as for Tess, what the hell I ever saw in her I don't know.  The other was my DC but we had a talk and I put her in her place, Tess is just pissed she got told about having her car broken into after she tried to say it was my car.''

''You never told me that bit, that cow.  Now I will scratch her eyes out, not that it lets you off the hook for not telling me about your illness Alec, you shouldn't have kept that from me and it's gonna take some time for me to get over that.  Ok, we'll meet for lunch at one, for Grace's sake, she never stopped last night because I only kissed you on the cheek.''

''Ok, meet me back here at one.  Thanks Rose, please love, let's just forget all this eh? I was an ass, I know I was.''

''I'll think about it, Grace is getting impatient.  Where shall I meet you?''

After lunch, Rose followed him back to their old apartment but never allowed herself to be alone with him and they left just before four, Rose strapping Grace into her seat.  The young girl was used to her parents putting her in the car and talking for twenty minutes or more recently, kissing for twenty minutes before her dad finally let her mother go.

''So Rose, can you come Friday next week maybe?  Come and stay with me?''

''I don't know Alec, I really have to think about it but I'll call the newspaper, tell MS White what I think about her, that's for certain and you can tell Tess if she tries another trick like that to watch out or I'll tell her boyfriend's wife about them.''

''You wouldn't love, would you?''  He tried to put his arms around her but she held him at bay.

''Watch me and no, you can't get round me like that Alec Hardy, not so easily.''

''Aw come on Rose, just one kiss, a proper one or I may just get Grace to talk your ears off about it on your way home.''

''You would as well, wouldn't you?  Any news about a transfer yet?''

''Not anything definite but I'll no doubt get knocked back for a few now, I might be limited as to where I can go.  How's your training going?''

''Fine, another three weeks and he leaves, well maybe four but I think he has other plans to leave early.  Bye Alec, take care.''

''You too love.''  He opened the car door and leaned in to kiss his daughter's forehead. ''Bye princess, remember what I told you.''

He got back out and went to kiss Rose's cheek but caught her lips instead.  ''Bye love, let me know when you get back eh?''

He watched them drive off, slightly more optimistic than yesterday when she had driven away but he knew he was going to have to do something drastic and now on top of that, he had to salvage his now tarnished reputation and confront Tess once and for all.

He did – the next morning, calling her into his office before his chief hauled them both in, tossing the folded newspaper at her before she even closed the door.

''What the hell Tess?  What were you thinking talking to that reporter?  It was bad enough it all leaked out but this?  Is this what you do because I turned you down again?''

''You should have taken me up on my offer, after your wife left you.  We still could Alec, I know she's backed off again due to you going back to your grumpy self last week so don't bother denying it.  I could make you forget about her, if you wanted?''

''Seriously?  Is that the best you can do Tess?  No, 'sorry, I shouldn't have spoken to that reporter, I'll call her and take it all back'?''

''I don't regret what I said Alec, have you sorted out that DC of yours yet?  She was pretty miffed the last time I saw her.''

''Go to hell Tess, I wouldn't go back to you if my life depended on it and as for Jones, I put her straight and if she starts again, she'll get a reprimand on her record.  I'm leaving soon, just to set the record straight, I already told Jones but I thought I would leave you until last, I did not want to spoil the surprise.''

Tess laughed.  ''Who's going to take you now Alec?  I was only offering because I felt sorry for you anyway.''

Alec decided to play Rose's card.  ''Tess, you're not fooling anyone, least yourself.  I will get back with Rose, sadly you won't be around to see it but I may invite you when we get re-married and I told her, about your attempts to get me to go back to you and she told me to tell you she will tell his wife if you don't back off.''

''The little cow, who does she think she is?''

''My ex wife now get out of here and you mention my name to a reporter again and I'll be the one telling his wife and I'm not interested in what you have to offer Tess, no-one compares to Rose.''

At that point, Alec had no idea if Rose was even going to take him back after he had been so stupid in not telling her but things had been looking up slightly since yesterday.  He had been so miserable during the last week, he should have taken notice of that reporter but at least Rose had said how sorry she was about it, that was so her and believed him about Tess and Jones but taking him back was going to take some work on his part.

By the end of the week, Rose had decided to just go up on Saturday as normal but agreed to go to the apartment though she said she wasn't staying there.  She was feeling miserable anyway, she had messed up during the week over something and her boss had chewed her out, putting doubts on her actual promotion and she was due her monthly on Saturday or Sunday having miscalculated when telling Alec and it would be a good way to be able to tell if she had got pregnant that Sunday morning.  Even if she had got away with it, there was no need now to start taking something, or was there?  Was she ever going to forgive him?

He had been stupid, yes, for not telling her he was seriously ill and left it ten months before doing something about it.  Would he have done if she hadn't asked him to go on holiday with them or would she have been told he'd died on an investigation or on the operating table.  Then what?  How could she have even told their daughter her dad was gone after she had left him and both of them could have done something about it, she could have stayed and made sure he declared it and taken a few weeks off to get himself fixed and he needn't have been so stubborn and got the pacemaker earlier.

Most of all, how had he even got in such a state in the first place, even before his episode in the river, it must have already been happening to him which could explain why he had been off with her even before they had discovered Pippa in the river but they would never know.  So Friday night, Rose called him and said they would stay with him on Saturday night but she wasn't quite ready to actually do anything but sleep there and he had said fine, he would take the sofa bed if she insisted, he just wanted her there with him and his plan to get her to take him back may just work.
Chapter 11
Rose was driving up to meet Alec when her phone rang and not trusting herself to use the hands-free while driving with her daughter, pulled into a lay-by and called her mother back.

''Rose, you never called me back sweetheart, how did things go with Alec?''

''I've been a bit busy Mum, it was a bit strained but I can't talk now, I have Grace with me, we're just on our way to see him.''

''Well don't let me stop you then, at least you're still seeing him.  Why can't you make up with him?''

''I told you that before, I don't know if I can, him holding that back from me.''

''And what would you have done, if he'd told you?''

''We've been through that Mum, just let it go.''

She set off again, knowing Jackie Tyler was the last person to let go of anything. The long school holidays were looming, her mother was coming down to give Ellie a break since they were going away for a few weeks as well and she had got Tom out of school so now Rose was having to rely on the after school club for two weeks.  Ellie had been lucky the school had let him go but with her husband's job as a paramedic, he'd had little choice as to when he could take his holidays, the summer period was their busiest time.

Jackie had offered to come down early but Rose hadn't thought it was necessary since she had found Grace could stay on the school grounds, the same organisers as the breakfast club ran it, a group of mothers whose kids had moved up to the middle school who'd had no-one to take care of their kids.  Rose arrived at Alec's place, their former home and he was watching out of the window for them.

He helped carry their things upstairs and Rose asked if he wanted to take Grace out, she was feeling a bit off.

''What's wrong Rose?  I thought last weekend was, you know?''

''I miscalculated, sorry.  Anyway, you two go have fun and why don't you bring some food back later and we'll all eat together?   I think I might just go have a lie down, is that ok?''

''Sure Rose.  Come on Grace, why don't we go to the park and you can watch the skateboarding?''

The girl nodded her head.  While they were out, Rose unpacked their few things and tidied up then went to lie on top of the bed.   It was the first time she had been back in what had been their bedroom since the other weekend when she was just about to ask him to move back in with them.  Maybe Ellie had been right, she should never have taken off his t-shirt but she used to love looking at him, watching him getting dressed and undressing him even better, especially what she had initiated that Sunday morning, it had been a long time.

To say he was so slim, he was well-made in all the right places and whilst on holiday, she had enjoyed seeing him in the swimming pool and wondered why she had never noticed but being in the water was deceiving and he had made sure he was in first and getting wet, even though just being in the pool had probably brought back bad memories for him but he had been prepared to put them aside to have fun with them.

She had gone prepared, hoping she had miscalculated and was still debating whether to go back to taking precautions.  She knew she should have some signs by now but sometimes it could come on suddenly and maybe the other Sunday, she hadn't been as near to it as she'd thought.  Alec came back with Grace just after five, they had been to the park and playground and he had brought some food back. Once Grace was in bed, Rose was laid on the sofa and Alec stretched out on the chair, looking at her and debating if it was worth getting a slap for daring to suggest she moved over and let him sit there.

''You've hardly spoken love, is there something you want to talk about?''

''I screwed up Alec, big time over something during the week. I might not get that promotion now.''

''Listen Rose, everyone screws up now and then, don't think about it.  Screwing up now enables you to look back and not make the same mistakes.  Think of it as a lesson in not screwing up again.  We all make mistakes love.''

''Yeah, don't we just?  Let's not show anything in front of Grace, shall we, especially making a point of spending twenty minutes kissing behind the car, she knows, she never stopped going on about it.  We can just be civil until we work this out.''

''I know it will take you some time to trust me again but I've told you everything, I swear Rose, can't we just get past it and start again?  Not that I want to have to start from the beginning, hell, it took me ten months to get to spend the whole week with you but I mean, maybe next weekend since you're feeling poorly this week. Please love, don't make me start all over again, I told you I was sorry, for not saying anything.''

''I know you did, just give me a bit longer, maybe next weekend I'll come Friday night and we can talk about it.  I can take the sofa bed if you want, your legs will stick out of the end.''

''You don't want to share then?''  He saw her face and knew the answer, when Rose was like this, there would be no redemption for his misguided idea of not telling her he was ill to stop her from worrying, it had grossly misfired on him.  ''No, I'll manage for one night, don't worry about me, I'll go get the duvet from the linen cupboard then, don't let me keep you up too late.''

Rose took the hint when he came back with the spare duvet they had kept for Rose's mother's visits and went into the bathroom, choosing to be prepared if she got her monthly visit.  She thought back and was sure it should have been last week, she had been feeling badly all week and wondered if she hadn't got away with the weekend before last after all.  Only time would tell really, if nothing happened this weekend, she was used to it shifting a few days according to how many days were in the month.

Alec laid on the sofa bed, bending his legs as Rose had been right, as usual, she always was.  He tried very hard to pretend he wasn't as tall as he actually was but never seemed to get away with much, stooping down in some places.  He didn't get much sleep but all week he had been like that, well if he admitted it, since that Sunday she left after he had stuffed everything up again, then Tess being a cow over that interview.

Nothing much had happened during the week as regards new cases, which made things even worse, Jones was staring daggers at him, hardly anyone had spoken to him and when they dared come in his office, he yelled at them to get out and stop wasting his time.  His boss had noticed by Thursday and had called him to his office.

''Alec, you can't keep on like this, people are afraid to knock on your door.  Taking it out on them because you think a killer has walked free is one thing but it's Rose isn't it?  I thought you two were making up, what happened?''

''No disrespect Sir but I don't want to discuss it.  It's not just that, did you see last Sunday's paper?  Tess and that bitch of a reporter stitched me up between them.''

''Yes and I've already had another word with DS Henchard, it was most unprofessional of her to talk to a reporter unless through official channels but if you waived the chance to give your side of the story, tongues will wag.  Is that why you're so annoyed, did Rose think it was all true?''

''No, she didn't believe it thankfully but it was something that happened last weekend that she can't get past, not yet.  Any news about my transfer?''

''Like I told you Alec, things are against you now, your options are limited, there will be few chiefs willing to take the risks but that CS down in Dorset seems to be still willing, I'd seriously consider it if I were you.  Try and talk to Rose, find out where she's stationed because as much as I would like to, I can't tell you, it would be betraying a confidence and it seems like she's upset enough with you, I don't want her getting mad with me.''

''I know, maybe I'll just have to risk it though what she would do if it happened to be the job she's getting trained up for, I hate to think, maybe that will be the end of it, she might just drop Grace outside my apartment and drive off and let me keep her for the weekend, she wouldn't stop me seeing her altogether, even if she is mad but I'd have to find somewhere else to live.''

''It can be all arranged for you Alec, they'll put you up in a hotel while you find somewhere, you can give notice on your apartment when you find something and you'll get a moving and housing allowance until you decide if you're staying there permanently.  Rose gets hers with having Grace but if you apply to have your daughter at weekends, you may get help towards the cost.  Think it over Alec but let me know by next Monday or someone else may apply, the CS there is not accepting any more names at present and if you don't agree to seriously consider it by next week, she may just change her mind.''

''Would I be up against anyone local then?''

''I'm not at liberty to tell you Alec so please don't ask.  She knows her staff, who is capable, if she has doubts any of them could fill the DI position then you could well get the job and between you and me, if she has someone in mind and she's willing to give you a chance, then that answers your question but you already hold that rank.''

''Rose applied for a promotion, I don't want to fight her for a job, things are bad enough as they are.''

''I understand Alec but you asked for the transfer, admittedly before all this blew back in all our faces and before you seemed to have ruined your reconciliation with Rose but with things here being as they are, I think it's looking like you're going to be treading on someone's toes, even if they're not your ex-wife's.  There are plenty of police stations in Dorset Alec and I wish I could tell you where Rose is, I honestly do.''

As Alec lay on the sofa bed the next morning, listening for any noises coming from what had been his and Rose's bedroom or signs Grace was ready for another day.  He planned to take them out for the day, if Rose was willing to go with them, to the coast, not where they had been on holiday though.

He was surprised over breakfast that Rose agreed even though he knew it was only for their daughter's sake and she never even complained she would have to set off back late.  They had a fairly nice day out, Grace walking between them, the young girl seemed happy to be out with them both and when they got back, Rose opting to already have put their things into her car earlier, they prepared to go home.  Since Ellie was going away, she had to set off earlier to settle Grace at school before going to work and hope her immediate boss would let her leave an hour early so Grace only spent a short time in the after school club that charged by the half hour, unlike the breakfast club.

Alec had fastened Grace in the car and kissed her forehead, then he led Rose as customary behind the car.

''So will you think about coming up on Friday?  I thought we could go to Minehead for the weekend, I could book a family room in a B&B and you and Grace could have the double bed?''

''Ok, that would be nice, if I come straight from school, I shouldn't be late getting here and we can set off early, I'll tell her when we get home and thanks for paying me for the holiday, you didn't have to, it was my idea.''

''It's the least I could do for allowing me to spend a week with our daughter and with you, will you think about, you know, us picking up where we left off?''

''I'll consider it.  Are you any nearer a transfer?''

''It's narrowed down since Ashworth got away and that newspaper article but yes, one chief is still willing for me to apply, somewhere in Dorset but I've not been told where yet.''

He had but if he came out with 'It's in Broadchurch' he may well get a slap and told to forget it or Rose would not be willing to spend the weekend away with him and he was hoping she would share the double bed with him, not Grace.  Well that was half a plan anyway, getting her to at least sleep in the same bed as him again even with Grace in the same room, they could be very quiet when they wanted to be from the practice they'd had when Rose's mother came to stay, he swore the woman could hear a pin drop in the middle of an earthquake.

''Bye then Rose, see you Friday night then eh?''

He went to kiss her cheek, not wanting to push his luck by too much since she had just agreed to visit a day early and spend the entire weekend with him.   Rose smiled.  She wanted to give in but hadn't he been punished enough, carrying the guilt of being ill all by himself for ten months?  Maybe she would give in next weekend and at least sleep in the same bed but there were still no signs of her monthly happening and she thought it was now inevitable it wasn't going to and she hadn't got away with that Sunday morning but she wasn't going to tell him that just yet, just next weekend only sleeping and telling a white lie to him that it had come and gone for now wouldn't hurt.

He had hurt her more by not saying he could have died, she was only paying him back and if she was wrong, she would know for certain the week after and that would be the weekend she finally got to know if she got that promotion but if by some curse he got offered the job she had almost been promised, would she be willing to forgive him for that on top of keeping his illness from her for so long?
She didn't know the answer but she turned her head and kissed his lips briefly.

 ''Bye Alec, I'll look forward to next weekend then, it will be a nice change, for me and Grace.''
Chapter 12
Things got nastier for Alec during the next week.  The father of the girl Alec had pulled out of the river had burst into his office and had to be hauled out by two uniformed officers he'd managed to get away from.  It seemed Ricky Gillespie could not come to terms that his daughter's killer had walked free after a certain reporter had been to interview both families.

''You're a joke Hardy, you can't do a simple thing like hold on to evidence to convict a killer,'' the distraught man had shouted as he was being pulled forcibly out of the door.  Ricky tried to shrug the officers off him.   ''You have a daughter, don't you? Ashworth could just as easily killed her as he did my Pippa and he's still out there, don't you even care about that?''

Alec stood up and faced him.  ''Do you think I don't know that?  For over a year I tried to get him to confess.  He lived next door to you, I interviewed you and you told me you had no reason to suspect him until you read that report in the papers so don't have a go at me and leave my family out of this Gillespie.''

''You still have a family Hardy, that makes it even worse.   Why should you get to keep yours?''

The man was finally led away, Alec could see all the office watching him, especially Martha Jones but he just stared at them and told them all to get back to work.

Martha took a chance and knocked on his door.

''Are you ok Sir?''

''I'm fine Jones, leave me alone.''

''You don't look ok.  Maybe you want someone to talk to?''

''I have my ex to talk to, I don't need anyone else, I thought I'd made that perfectly clear?  I'll be out of here soon, I've decided I'm going to take a post that was offered to me.''

''Then how about a drink, say Friday night, before you leave?''

''You don't give up, do you?  I'm seeing my ex and my daughter, we're going away for the weekend then I'm going to be moving away.  I'll tell you the same I told someone else, I'm not interested.''

''Then if you're leaving, you should have a leaving do, I could organise it.''

Alec laughed out loud.  That had made his mind up for him and he just hoped Rose would forgive him if it was her toes he stepped on to get out of this place.  Now he was going to the chief's office and see how much time he could take off and how soon he could move.  His chief was optimistic Alec would actually get the job.

''So, how soon are you willing to go for an interview Alec?''

''Do I need to take time off, can't we do it via a video link?''

''I'll see what I can arrange.  I'll try and set it up for Friday morning, have you got any further with Rose?''

''We're going away for the weekend, I hope I can tell her I'm finally leaving here.''

Friday morning, the interview was set up and went well.  CS Jenkinson was well aware who Alec was but she ran her own department regardless of any personal feelings of her staff.  She had read Alec's record up until a main suspect had walked free and had been impressed, he and Rose had worked very well together despite being married and never once being reprimanded or threatened with being separated although Rose hadn't work directly with him.

It looked like the press had hung him out to dry over loss of evidence but when she thought about it, the DS who had actually lost it was entirely to blame in her book, Alec Hardy should not be punished over it as well and the press articles about it were obviously fabricated, especially the said DS trying to put the whole thing on him.

When the interview was over, he was told she would make her decision by Monday morning and he would be informed either way but he would have to start on Friday as the current DI was retiring a week early, she just hoped DS Hardy wouldn't throw a tantrum when told she had lost out to her ex husband.

Rose of course had no idea what was going on, she had spoken to Alec during the week, he had called to say he had booked a family room in a B&B on the seafront and told her he may be in Dorset in just over a week.

''That's good news Alec, do you know where yet?''

''Yes but I'm not telling you Rose, I want to keep that as a surprise.  When I looked at places down there, there are quite a few vacancies so I chose one just at random.''

He didn't have the heart to tell her he may indeed be getting the job she had hoped to get, surely the chief there wouldn't put them against each other, Rose could work anywhere down there, just because she lived in the coastal town, she may not have been lucky enough to get the one closest to home and she may have chosen the town for the caravan park she had lived in before she had found a house to rent.  Training Rose up to be DI then letting her down was not normal practice but on Friday afternoon, after the interview with Alec, CS Jenkinson got a call from her superior officer, telling her in no uncertain terms to take Alec Hardy on as he was becoming a liability.

Elaine Jenkinson was not surprised in view of all the bad press, the encounter with the dead girl's father had not done him any favours either and the chief constable wanted him to lie low for at least six months or longer and that if someone else was in line for the job, she had to offer it to him.  She knew Rose was wanting him to move closer to her and her daughter but wasn't quite sure how she was going to react.  Elaine decided to leave it until Monday in view word had got round that Rose was going off early that day and suspected she was giving her ex husband yet another chance and by Monday, it could all be over, she at least should have one last weekend before all hell broke loose.

It wasn't her job to play agony aunt, it was something the two of them had to work out for themselves and maybe in a strange kind of way, this was meant to be and it could give them the push they both apparently needed.  So Rose had got off early, packed the car and was waiting for Grace when she came out of school, very excited at the thought of spending all weekend with her dad and hoped her mum would feel better than she had last week.

Rose was still not feeling so hot, her monthly still hadn't arrived and now she was officially worried and was debating whether to get a home testing kit but maybe it was too early so first thing on Monday she would get an appointment with the health clinic and see if she was right.  She saw no sense in telling Alec, there could be another explanation for her being late but she doubted it.  She was lucky she missed most of the traffic and arrived at Alec's just after six, not long after he had got back from getting a few things from the supermarket even though they were going away.

Just as he was finally going to give in and go get the spare duvet, Rose relented.

''Ok, you can sleep in the bed tonight but that's it and only because I felt sorry for you last Saturday night.  So, heard anything final about your transfer yet?''

''Should be finalised on Monday though I may have to move fast, I'll be found somewhere to stay until I get somewhere permanent, maybe you could help me with that love?''

''That depends on how far away you're gonna be, you must know where you're being sent.''

''And I'll tell you when I actually move love, let's just keep it a surprise for Grace? Maybe next weekend, I can come to your place for the weekend eh?''

''Well if you're gonna be put up in a hotel or something then maybe, don't get any ideas just yet.  We just sleep tonight, got it?''

Alec gave a mock salute and thought better about trying his luck just yet, he would see what sort of mood she was in the following night.  After driving them to Minehead, they arrived mid-morning and found somewhere to park, leaving their luggage covered up since they couldn't get into the B&B until four.  Grace was enjoying herself again as they went on the beach and since there wasn't a lot to keep her amused, Alec said they would visit the holiday camp the next day so they could use the swimming pool and take the girl on some of the rides.

Rose had been surprised the place was so quiet and thought they should have gone somewhere else but on Saturday night before they went to bed, Alec suggested another holiday.

''What do you think love?  We can take Grace up to Scotland, to the holiday camp up there for a week, she'd love it.''

''It's a long way to go Alec, we'd need two extra days for travelling.  Let's think about it?''

''We'd have to book soon or it will be all full up or maybe we could go to one of the theme parks, Grace is old enough now, we could stay for a week and she would never get tired.''

Rose smiled, he was making a big effort to get them all back together again, the least she could do was let him try.  Rose went to the bathroom, she knew now she should try and make the effort back but how could she tell him she thought she might be pregnant?  Maybe she should just take it easy this week, snuggle up to him and by next week, she would know for certain so putting her pyjamas on, she went into the bedroom to find him in his t-shirt and sleep shorts but he left as she got into bed.  She thought he had changed his mind but he came back in ten minutes later, having debated with himself to ask her where she actually worked but as he saw her lying on her side in bed, he climbed in beside her and asked her to turn around.

''Please Rose, can't we just hug for a while?  I missed you.''

''I missed you too Alec but I still have things to work out but yeah, we can hug, if you want?''

He wasted no time, just putting his arms around her and feeling her close to him, kissing her forehead.  ''I still love you Rose and I really am sorry.  Let me come and stay with you next weekend eh?  I could even be there before then, I have to pack and get myself settled, probably as soon as Thursday so when I get word on Monday, I'll make a start.''

''Grace will be happy to have you close by but you still might be a few miles away, we can talk next weekend, when it's sorted and decide what we're gonna do. Goodnight Alec.''

''Goodnight love, can I at least have a kiss?''

''Just for being cheeky and asking me.''

They spent the next day in the holiday park, having lunch after spending a few hours in the pool and on the slides, then Alec took Grace on some of the rides but Rose was feeling sick again and finding excuses, which wasn't difficult considering her trip on the wheel a few weeks ago, so by the end of the day, Alec drove them back and Rose knew she was going to be late going back home.

''Why don't you stay here, leave around seven and take Grace straight to school? You still have her uniform.''

''I think it might be just as well, it should be quiet on the roads, ok then but I have to make sure she gets there to get her breakfast, they have a breakfast club.''

''Good idea, so come on Grace, you and mummy are staying over again.''

Rose wasn't really feeling any better, knowing it was not going to be resolved by anything other than a visit to the health centre and a pregnancy test so when they got to bed, she had to try to fend him off because if by some remote chance that wasn't causing her sickness then getting passionate with him and a repeat of the other Sunday morning wasn't going to help.  So setting her alarm for six, she settled in bed and waited for Alec coming out of the bathroom.

Alec thought about asking her to at least ditch her pyjama bottoms in favour of just her underwear and he didn't think he was being unreasonable, at one time he wouldn't even have to ask once they were in bed so he climbed in and lay on his side, Rose was on her back but turned to him.

''I've been awful to you Alec, you didn't deserve it, I know that now.  What I can't understand is why you let me leave.''

''I didn't want to upset you Rose, things were already bad, with me working all those hours, I didn't even do half of them officially, I was obsessed with it, I realise that now but it's all over, I know he got away but he'll make a mistake or Claire will, we were so close to breaking her but it's just a game to her, she tells on her husband, he goes after her and they make up.  If I could just get her away from him, get her to hide from him, she might be more forthcoming.''

''How are you gonna do that, if she keeps going back to him?''

''I was thinking about that.  What if I can get her relocated, get her to admit she was the one who stole the evidence and give him up?''

''Good luck with that, she's a real piece of work, she should get on well with Tess.''

''I only have a few days at most, I'll more than likely just have to pack a suitcase and take up my post so next weekend, I'll have to come back and organise everything, you two can still come up and help, if you will?''

''Yeah but I can't guarantee Grace won't think it's just her packing what she left behind, what are you gonna do with everything?''

''Get some storage wherever I end up then organise a removal van and let them get on with it.  You could take a few things with you until I find a place, they'll just put me in a hotel but if I don't have far to travel maybe you know, I can move back in with you and Grace?   If you want, we can look for somewhere bigger?''

''It's all so sudden Alec, they're not giving you much time are they?''

''Well I don't think that newspaper article helped much and the father of the girl who died has been kicking up a fuss, I wouldn't be surprised if he goes to the media so I have to get out of there, plus, not many chiefs are so willing to risk taking me on and I have to say by tomorrow if I accept the post or not.''

''Oh.  Then yeah, take it Alec, let it all die down then you can move again if it's too far away to travel every day but as for moving in, I still don't know.  Let's see where they send you eh?''

''Aye, no good worrying over nothing.  Can we, you know, get a bit beyond hugging tonight maybe?''

''Ok but you keep your shorts on Mister, I didn't go back to taking anything.''

''Oh Rose, I can take care of that love, if you let me?''
Chapter 13
Rose was tempted to let him take the responsibility but backed out as he was about to get out of bed.

''No Alec, maybe next week, we can just get close, I know I was wrong too, to get mad with you over it but you never even considered what it would do to us and I could have helped you, you could have taken a few days off and got it sorted but instead, you didn't care, you hid it for ten months, how did you manage?''

''I just did, I had to but you, calling me up and asking me to go on holiday, the appointments woman almost fainted when I called the hospital and told them I wanted the surgery,'' he smiled.

''I bet they did.  I'm still mad at you though.''

''Ok, I suppose I deserve that.  Let's make up?''

''You're not getting away with it that easily, I keep my underwear on, this time at least.''

''I can live with that, now come here.''

The next morning, Rose had got to Grace's school just in time for her to have breakfast, having to make tea and toast herself when she got to work and her immediate boss called her into his office.

''Good weekend Rose?"

''Yeah, we're getting somewhere again, he told me something the other week and well, it hurt.''

''You can talk to me if you want?''

''No because it's something I can't share.  Did you want me for something?''

''Yes, the chief decides today whether to put you forward to take over from me on Friday.  I've done all I can Rose, I know you made a big mistakes but you recovered from it and you didn't let it hold you back.  I expect she'll let you know by then, she may not tell you before, just in case.''

''So have I got any competition then?''

''She won't say but as far as I know, no-one has been called for an interview though they may have done one via video link.  Good luck anyway, I think it's more or less certain you'll get it, the chief said she wanted more female detectives in key positions, there's no-one else here up for it, it would have to be an outsider.''

''Yeah, well I hope it's not my ex but I don't think the chief would do that to me, would she?''

Alec was sitting at his desk, putting files into two different piles of urgent and non-urgent then pulling his personal items out of his desk drawers into an open cardboard box.  He looked at the recent photo he had of Rose and Grace taken on holiday when they were standing in the swimming pool, raised his finger to his lips then pressed it on Rose's face.  He was just waiting for a phone call then he was going to finish the day out, go home and pack and travelling on Wednesday to the hotel he would be put up in, that was if he was successful.

If not, it would be another wait and maybe get put on paid leave until some unsuspecting commander was forced to take him off headquarters' hands or after the summer break, on teaching duties.  He would even settle for that at a pinch, Exeter was only about an hour away and near enough to travel but this weekend, as much as he would like to spend it with Rose, he had to sort everything out but maybe he could put it off a week and do most of it by phone and he wasn't handing in the notice until he had sorted where he was going to live, just in case Rose wasn't yet willing to let him move back with her.

She was right though, she could have made things easier and he would have gone the first time they'd sent for him but no, he had been stubborn about it and not told her because he thought it was best she didn't know.  He knew what his ex mother-in-law's views would have been on the subject, she would have frog-marched him to the operating theatre's door and stood guard to make sure he was under the knife. That was a thought, Rose had mentioned Jackie would be going to visit for a couple of weeks to let the woman who normally had her have a break and he knew Jackie always looked after Grace when there was one or two weeks holiday since Rose now had to work school holidays, something she'd never had to do when they were married.

Just after two, he was called to the chief's office, CS Jenkinson had apparently made her decision and wanted to speak to him personally.

''DI Hardy, I'm pleased to offer you the position within the Broadchurch division of Wessex police.  I need you to report to me on Thursday morning, can you get here by then?  I'll make the arrangements for a hotel and send you the details, I think we can manage without you until Monday but you'll be on standby should any incidents or emergencies arise.''

''Thank you, then I accept though I will have a few questions when we meet.  I look forward to it.''

Alec left the office and the two chiefs continued their conversation.

''So, he knows nothing?''

''No Elaine, just that his ex wife lives there, he doesn't know which station she works at though and from what I can gather, he's not actually told her where he's being sent, just in case.''

''Well I run this station, they will just have to get over it, Rose has done a good job here and getting promoted so quickly, she's one of the youngest to go in for the job but I had my hands tied, I got orders to offer him the job.  I don't like turning her down but she made a big mistake a few weeks ago, I don't think she's ready yet but pairing her with her ex would be good training for her, it was only that recent case of his that let him down.''

''Well thanks anyway, not that I want to get rid of him but he's been unsettled since Ashworth got away and it's showing, he shouts at everyone and two of the females here are vying for his attention, one of them being the DS that stitched him up to the Sunday paper.''

Elaine smiled, Rose would be mad if she knew.  Rose had tried to get a doctor's appointment but couldn't get in until 11am on Thursday but when she thought about it, it was best it was late on in the week when she considered it.  She had told the receptionist what she wanted the appointment for and was told she could see the nurse as they would have to do a test anyway unless she did one herself and could just get it confirmed so she said she would rather see a female doctor which was why she had to wait.

She bought a testing kit and on Monday night when Grace had gone to bed, decided to get it over with.  She wasn't surprised when she got the result, just over three weeks.  She looked at herself in the bathroom mirror and knew now she had to make up with Alec, there was no way she was going to cope with this on her own, not even with Ellie offering to take Grace or her mother staying indefinitely and he had been willing, well more than willing to take part the other Sunday morning.

She thought she would surprise him when he told her where he was getting sent to and he wasn't going to do that until he got there, that had been the deal so she wasn't going to tell him she had a big surprise for him.  She also decided not to tell her mother, just in case she got on the phone and demanded he tell Rose he was sorry and go back to her, not giving Rose a choice in the matter.

So Alec spent the next two days packing things after he packed his two suitcases and his large holdall and called around to get some quotes for removals and storage, never realising they were so expensive so he called a storage depot in Dorchester and a van rental company and decided if he left it for a few weeks, Rose's mother would be able to look after Grace and he and Rose could move the furniture between them.  That was what he thought.

Thursday morning, Rose had taken the day off and had said goodbye to her old boss on Wednesday and was due to go see the chief on Friday morning.  Alec had packed the car and let his neighbour know he was just going away for a bit and would be back next weekend at some point, only because the older woman had been on the landing as he'd gone back for his laptop bag and a small holdall.  As he drove towards Broadchurch, he was tempted to call Rose and say he was on his way but they'd agreed and he wasn't going to break it.

He found the hotel just off the town's High Street and just getting his laptop bag out of the car and noting he was outside the town's newspaper office, crossed over and entered to be greeted by a blonde woman sat behind a small table.

''Hi, don't tell me, you're Alec Hardy?''

''Yes, am I that obvious?  Do I look like a detective?''

''Not exactly but I wasn't expecting anyone else today, I didn't need to play detective to work that out.  The police are paying for your room, it's on the second floor, can you manage?''

''I'll get the rest of my things later, I have a meeting.  Is it easy to get to the police station then?''

''You can walk down the path at the side of the hotel then turn left and follow the road or if you're driving, carry on to the end of the road then turn right at the mini-roundabout but if you're the police, there's a car park around the back, they might let you park there.''

''They had better.''

Alec took his key and went to find his room and Becca mused if he was any relation to DS Hardy, whom she had heard was possibly in line for a promotion.  Becca didn't know much about the young blonde detective, apart from her being divorced and having a five year old daughter but if this new arrival was her ex husband, sparks were going to fly and no mistake.

Since he had been driving earlier, he decided to walk.  At least the hotelier had not said anything about his name, maybe she didn't know Rose but if she didn't actually work in the town, possibly not.  He arrived on the seafront, seeing the houses on the side of the cliff on the way down and wondered if one of them belonged to Rose or if she would like to move there.  He found the station and discovered he needn't have walked around the front of a café and could have gone around the back but he thought it was not only an odd shaped building but an odd place to put a police station, tucked back from the road and just across from the harbour.

It would be just his luck if his new office looked out across the sea, he'd still not come to terms with getting dragged out of the river but going swimming with Rose and Grace had eased it slightly, the sight of Rose in her swimsuit was something else.  He introduced himself to the desk sergeant who just looked at him blankly.  Maybe Rose did work there after all.  He was taken to the chief's office and she asked him to sit down.

''Welcome to Broadchurch.  Have you checked into the hotel yet?"

''Just collected my key, I came here first.  I take it my transfer is now complete Ma'am?''

''We're very lucky to have you Alec and despite what happened, I'm prepared to overlook it and so is the chief constable.  It was partly his idea you got away from your last post, the press were being less than kind but you'll have to stay at least six months to qualify for another transfer but by then, it should have all died down sufficiently for a fresh start.  You had some questions but I may just save you some time.  Yes, there was another candidate for the job but you're of senior rank, your opponent was newly qualified and no disrespect to them but you have the experience.''

Alec's worst fears were about to be proved right.  ''Would this other candidate be Rose Hardy by any chance?''

Elaine had been caught out but she knew he would find out on Monday anyway.
''I had no choice Alec, I was going to offer it to you but the chief constable intervened and said you needed to move fairly quickly so I accepted.  I'm sorry but I run this station, regardless of Officer's personal interests and I expect you to both get along.  I don't wish to pry but Rose was in a fairly good mood this week, I suspect you were on the verge of a permanent reconciliation?''

''We might have been but I think that's been blown now, she won't forgive me for stepping on her toes and taking her promotion away from her.  Is she in the station?''

''No, she took the day off, she had an appointment and she mentioned you were going to tell her where you were moving to and I believe she told her immediate boss she had something to tell you at the same time.''
Chapter 14
Alec knew he should have just told Rose outright where he was being sent, after all, he'd had very little choice in it since that fiasco with the Sunday papers he was surprised it hadn't got any worse but at least Rose had believed him about Tess and Martha Jones but now, what was he going to do?  He got back to the hotel, wondering exactly where Rose had an appointment, maybe it was about Grace, that was a reasonable assumption so he got back and took his luggage out of the car once he found the way around the back of the hotel to the car park, surprised he'd not received a parking ticket since his old police sign with 'South Mercia Police' had been handed back.  Tomorrow, he would go and get one for Wessex police and get a parking space in the garage at the back he'd noticed on his way in or at least in the yard but since he hadn't intended driving anyway, maybe he'd just leave it at the hotel for now, depending on where Rose was living and if she would still have him back when she found out.

Rose went to her doctor's appointment, having to give another sample and wait but it was still positive and she was given the choice of Dorchester and a few other hospitals since the one in Broadchurch no longer had a maternity unit and was told she'd get an appointment to get booked in and have her first scan.  It was almost twelve when she got out so she went to get a light lunch and wondered if Alec had arrived wherever he was travelling to today.  She sent him a message and he called her back.

''Hi love, yes, I've just booked into a hotel and had my meeting.  Why don't we meet later?''

''Yeah, you could meet me at Grace's school and we'll go out for tea, yeah?''

She told him which school it was and just after three, he pulled up outside the car park and spotted Rose talking to another woman.

''Hey, thought someone else picked Grace up after school?'' he asked when she walked towards him.

''Ellie but she just got back from holiday today so I got out of work early 'cos I had somewhere else to go.  So, how did it go then?''

''Ok, yes, I got the job, start on Monday, barring any emergencies, have you heard about your promotion yet?''

''Tomorrow, hopefully though why I can't be put out of my misery, I don't know, it's just dragging on, all this stupid red tape.  Is your hotel ok?''

''As hotels go I suppose.  So are you inviting me back to your house when we've take Grace out?''

''Yeah, of course I am, she'll want to show you her room so you may as well stay the evening.  My mum arrives on Sunday afternoon, for two weeks to give Ellie a break.  So, are you going to tell me then?  Where you're working?''

He knew he could just come out and tell her there and then but she would find out on Monday morning and if he were to go sort things out tomorrow, he would probably bump into her.

''Ah, well I thought I would maybe tell you if I took you out on Sunday night since your mother can look after Grace.  Does she stay with you?''

''Yeah, Grace comes in with me though mum complains the bed Grace has is not full size but we manage.  Have you got everything arranged for moving?''

''It's being sorted though I'll need your help, it's too expensive to get a removal van but it will be a couple of weeks since I have to find somewhere, unless, you were to let me stay with you?''

''Then what about my mum?''

''We could get her in a nearby hotel or B&B, just a room so you'd best show me where you live first, there might be somewhere within a few minutes walk.''

''We could get her a caravan but that may be a bit much, we don't need anything until Sunday.  There's Grace.''

Grace was talking to her friend, Rose had said she was collecting her but had no idea Alec would be joining her and it took a minute for the girl to realise her dad was there.  When she did, she yelled and ran towards him, almost knocking him over.

''Daddy!  You're here!  Can we go out for tea?''

Rose told him where to meet her, Grace wanting to go in his car since he'd been mindful to put the car seat in just for such an occasion and they met just outside the harbour café, Rose taking advantage of not having to pay for parking and smiling as Grace held his hand while he went to pay for a ticket.

Over tea, Rose said parking was free after six until the next morning and suggested they went back to their house in her car, it was only two minutes away but she had a parking spot so Alec suggested he and Grace walked to save strapping her into her seat for a short distance, Grace saying she knew the way.  Once inside the cottage, Alec thought it was quite small but cosy, he was dragged to see his daughter's room, Grace pointing out her granny was coming to stay on Sunday and she shared with her mum.

Once they had got Grace to bed, Alec decided he was going to try his luck and at least get her to let him stay overnight.  He had walked back to his car and driven across the road to the car park in front of the pub and he had packed a few things for morning but since parking charges applied from 8am, he'd have to go move it again or use Rose's permit.

He leaned over as Rose rested against the cushion, her arm in his as they watched the news just after nine.  ''So Rose, can I stay then?'' he asked, creeping his hand up the back of her t-shirt, hopefully.

''You mean start the weekend a night early?''

''Yes but not just for the weekend Rose, I want you back, you know I do, you saw how happy Grace was that I'm here, I thought she wasn't going to let me out of her room in case I went off again.  I'm going to be working nearby from Monday, we can manage love, you go back to work tomorrow, I'll take Grace to school and collect her, call them to say it's ok and I have my old police ID then we'll go out again when you finish work.''

''It's sports day at school tomorrow, I wanted to be there but I'm in temporary charge until it's decided if I get the promotion or not.  You could stay, it starts at half nine.''

''I'd really like that Rose, thanks.  I'll take some photos for you, so can I stay?''

''What about your hotel room?''

''I've not unpacked yet and just in case I persuaded you, I've got a bag in the car, can I go out and get it?''

Rose smiled.  ''Well I think we could start the weekend early then but there are a few things.''

''Really?  Oh you mean funny business?  I promise to behave, scouts honour, if that's what you want but you didn't object last weekend, did you, when you finally gave in and I must add, you took some persuading darlin', you never used to.''

''Yeah, well things have changed since then Alec, for both of us.  Ok, I'm willing to let you stay, for now but it depends how far you have to travel and neither of us want to admit where we're working just yet so until you start work, ok, you can go get some more stuff from your hotel tomorrow and when we tell each other where we work, we'll see what happens.  There is just one thing though, however this turns out, even if I can't let you back fully, there's something you need to know.''

''What?  Why you've been acting so strangely the last few weekends?  I know you're mad at me Rose, I thought we'd got over that?  Come on love, let's just put it all behind us eh?  Please?''

Rose leaned her head against his chest.  ''Some great detective you are when you can't tell something about your ex wife.''

''That you have forgiven me?  If you have, why are we even debating my moving back in with you?''

Rose swatted his arm, with the one not now wrapped around his neck as he was kissing hers softly.  She looked up at him.

''Not that you plum, why I didn't want to go on those rides the other weekend, why I thought I'd miscalculated with my monthly, don't you get it now?''

''What?  You're?  Since when?''

''Need you even ask?   Since that other Sunday morning when we never bothered using anything.  I hadn't miscalculated, in fact, when I think about it, I must have been a few days earlier than I thought, I'm always getting mixed up and when two weeks later, it still hadn't, I thought I'd got away with it but then I started feeling sick so Monday, I got a test, just got it confirmed this morning.  Still want to stay? You know what I was like when I was having Grace, you said you'd never met a grumpier person in your life and wished you'd stayed with Tess.''

''I never actually meant that Rose, you know that, I just missed you but I know you did your best, when you felt ok, on odd occasions but this is great love, maybe it's just what we need?  I love you Rose, so can I stay?  I'll go out tomorrow and arrange something for your mother, if she's still coming down?''

''Yeah, I still have to go to work though I'll have to go to HR and tell them I'll be putting in for maternity leave and I'll be moving again.''

''Well I'll get the moving organised, there's a storage place in Dorchester and I'm going to hire a van and bring everything in one go.  I was hoping you would help but I won't let you now.''

''Ellie's husband might help you, I don't really know that many people like that, apart from Mark and Beth and Nigel but I don't like him much, he gives me the creeps.  My old boss was convinced he was an ex-convict or something and there are always reports of game birds being pinched, he thought Nigel was behind it but he couldn't prove anything.''

''Well it won't be this weekend, now we can spend it all together, take Grace out on Saturday then we can tell her.  I shouldn't get called to start work, not unless something really bad happens.  Still not saying exactly where you work love?''

He moved his head to kiss her neck then lowered her t-shirt collar and began kissing her shoulder.

''Nope, are you?  Let's just have a nice extended weekend and agree to tell each other on Monday or Sunday night, if you're really gonna take me out?''

''Of course I'm taking you out, we have two things to celebrate now, what's going to happen?''

Alec went back out to get his holdall and put Rose's police sign on the dashboard, confident he was going to get one soon anyway and he could nip in and get one without Rose knowing he was there but when he got back, Rose said she would just pick another one up in the morning, she wasn't planning on going far since she was waiting for her chief to tell her officially she'd got her promotion.

Since Alec no longer had to worry about using protection, Rose gave in under the condition he took it easy since she was still feeling a bit off but just after six thirty, Alec was woken by his phone and tried to get Rose to move the leg that was wrapped around his hip.

''Rose, come on love, I have to answer this.''

''Mmm, I thought you weren't starting until Monday?''

''It must be important.  Hardy,'' he said as he answered.  ''What?  Who is this, you do know I don't start work until Monday?  What about a junior officer?  They're where? Well what about your DS?  Oh she doesn't does she?  Well there are going to be a few changes around here.  Send a car to the front of The George pub by the harbour in Broadchurch in fifteen minutes.''

He had wandered into the bathroom but didn't want Rose to question whoever was on the phone as to how they knew which pub he meant.  Rose was getting dressed since she got up at seven anyway and got Grace up at half past but the girl came out of her room so Rose told her to get dressed and she could have breakfast at home.

''Sorry love but I have to go out to a break-in at a farm, probably your friend Nigel, you should not have talked about him last night.''

Rose laughed.  ''He's not my friend and he does get around a bit, I've heard reports from other divisions of similar incidents, some even over in Devon and Somerset so it wouldn't surprise me but why have they sent for you?''

''Those on duty are already out on calls, I never went into details.  Sorry Grace, I'll try and get to your sports day, ok princess?''

Once downstairs, he kissed Rose goodbye, little knowing it may well be his last one as things were about to happen and Rose watched him close the door, having given him the spare key Ellie usually kept but had handed back since Rose's mother was coming to stay and Ellie had been away.  Grace was just finishing after waving to her dad, pleased he was still there when she had been woken by his voice in the bathroom but as Rose was about to get her own breakfast, her phone rang.

The on duty sergeant apologised.  ''Sorry DS Hardy but you're needed down on the beach, there's been an incident that needs a senior officer and you're the only one left.  We've got uniforms down there, cordoning off the area and an ambulance has been called but someone has been found on the sands.''

Rose relayed what she wanted doing, knowing that she was supposed to be in charge today but it was a hell of a start then said she would be there after she took her daughter to school early and that no-one was to move anything until she got there.
After Alec got picked up, he could see over by where he had parked yesterday and saw flashing blue lights and wondered what was going on and why he had been summoned to a farm break-in instead but since he'd left Rose and she hadn't received a call, he surmised it can't have been much, maybe a boat or something and Rose hadn't questioned him too much, he thought he had given the game away when he was told the DS didn't get call-outs this early as she had to take her daughter to school but he wasn't out of the woods yet, if he had started work a day or two early, he was sure to get caught out.

Rose dropped Grace off, telling the woman in charge just to give her a drink but still paying, at least she never had to worry about her being left on her own until Ellie or her mother could look after the girl, Rose made her way back to the beach, passing the ambulance then the uniformed officers at the start of the beach followed her and one by the tape let her through.

Alec had finished at the farm thinking of charging for overtime but since he had a hotel room under false pretences, decided against it.  His driver was just on the radio and turned to him.

''Sir, I've been instructed to take you directly to the beach, they've found a body and you've to take over from the DS in charge.''

Alec got silently into the passenger seat.  Just his luck, he was going to have to come face to face with Rose and there was no getting out of it.
Chapter 15
A/N: I won't be going though many of the scenes from the series, just those involving Rose and Alec

Rose walked towards a paramedic, realising it wasn't Joe Miller and saw it was only a boy lying face down but as she got nearer, she recognised him.

''No, not Danny, please don't let it be Danny.  Bob, make sure no-one and I mean no-one gets past that tape and someone cover him until the coroner gets here.  Has anyone touched him apart from the medics?''

Up at the school, Beth Latimer was searching for her son, having seen Tom and Grace, asking Tom if he had seen Danny and wondering where Rose was.  She saw Ellie and went to sit next to her.

''No Rose?  I thought she'd be here.''

''Haven't seen her Beth, we only got back yesterday, I wonder if she got her promotion?  Where's your Danny?''

''I wish I knew, he left his lunch box can you believe it?  Chloe went off to school, she tried to get out of it just because it's the last day.  Wasn't Rose supposed to be making up with her ex?''

''She was hoping but I won't see much of her since Jackie will be here at the weekend for two weeks.  I suppose Rose will still be going up to see him though, she won't miss, even when it's holidays and she goes up the week after but they enjoyed their weekend away though she was a bit off just before I went away, something must have happened but I only saw her to pass her key back for her mum's visit.''

''Well since Danny's not here, I'd better see where he's got to, he must have gone with some of his class, I'd better try and call him.''

As Beth was panicking there was no sign of Danny, Alec was brought to the start of the beach and saw Rose's car, knowing this was it, there would be hell to pay once she saw him.  He just hoped she wouldn't scream at him and walk off, it wasn't something she would normally do even the odd occasions they had worked together, even on the Sandbrook case but as he ducked under the police tape, his worse fears of a repeat were realised as he made out the figure laid face down on the sands.

''Don't do this to me,'' he muttered to himself as he walked towards the scene, Rose clearly taking charge as forensics and the coroner bent down over what looked to be a teenage boy.

Rose jumped when a familiar voice spoke behind her.  ''No need to ask who's in charge here?  I'm taking over now.''

''Alec!  What are you doing here?  Does CS Jenkinson think I can't handle this and she's borrowed you from your new division?''

''No, this is my new division, I could debate the finer points with you but not now.''

It slowly sank in.  ''What?  You took my job?  You promised me you wouldn't.''

''Are we going to do this now?  Seriously?  Have you identified the body yet?''

''Eleven year old Danny Latimer, he goes to school with my friend's boy Tom.  Beth needs to be notified when we've finished here.''

Just then, having a staring contest with her ex husband was halted when she heard Beth screaming Danny's name.  Alec rushed forward to the two officers trying to hold her back.

''Get her off this beach, now!''

''Danny!  Rose, it can't be, tell me it's not him.''

''You have to leave Beth, go with the officers.''

Beth was pulled away, asking Rose to tell her something but she knew she couldn't. They finished on the beach and Rose drove in silence around to the other side of the cliff as Alec wanted to see if Danny had fallen or been pushed, Alec making a point of saying the coastal path was dangerous and being rude to the scene of crime officer.  All the while, they had not said two words to each other, Rose feeling bitterly disappointed Alec had been given her job without even an explanation or a 'sorry but the job's gone to your ex husband'.  To say she was furious was a bit of an understatement and it showed.

Alec figured she had not taken it well and he had better unpack when he got back to the hotel, he sincerely doubted he would be sleeping with her again even if she did talk to him when she had to.  He should have come clean with her and told her last night but how was he supposed to know there was going to be a murder on their doorstep?

They drove to the Latimer house and sat outside for a moment.  Rose turned to him. ''Let me do this, I know them.''

''You can't make it any better for them, don't try.  Are you going to ignore me all day?''

''Yes, now can we get on with it?  What do you want me to say Alec?  You promised me, when did you know?''

''Yesterday for definite, I got accepted officially but I swear Rose, up until then, I didn't know you worked there, only that you lived in the town, you could have been stationed anywhere around the area.''

''That justifies it?  I was ready to take you back Alec, how can I get over this on top of everything else you've thrown at me?''

''Forget it Rose, let's concentrate on telling the family of the victim?''

''Fine with me – Sir.''

''Don't look at me like that, you're hurt, I'm responsible – again.  I just keep messing up Rose, maybe it's for the best, we just were not meant to get back together but I'll support you when you have the baby.  I'll rent a place in town and take Grace at weekends so you don't have to see me, if that's what you want?''

''What do you think Alec?  We have to work together but that's it, today and I'll see the chief on Monday, tell her I want to move to another team.''

''You may have to work the weekend, when was your mother arriving?''

''You're joking, I don't work weekends, she arrives on Sunday.''

''You can tell the family that then, there will be a lot to do tomorrow, get your friend, what's her name, to take Grace.''

''She's just got back from holiday and she doesn't normally take Grace at weekends, I don't know what she has planned.''

''You can't pick and choose your hours, it doesn't work like that.  You can take Sunday off, work tomorrow.''

''Gee thanks.  Are we going to get this over with?''

''What?  Seeing the family or saying it's over between us once and for all?''

Rose got out of the car and slammed the door, causing two nearby officers to turn and look as she took her sunglasses off to go inside.  She locked the doors as Alec closed his and led the way, knocking on the door, Alec taking the lead and holding out his hand to shake Mark's.

''DI Alec Hardy, may we come in?''

''You're Rose's ex?  Yeah, come in.''

As the family sat together, they fell apart and Rose wanted to reach out to them. She asked Mark to go with her for further identification, leaving Alec to look around the house, Rose saying she would bring Mark back and pick up Alec, though she wanted to leave him there.  She was all for letting him back permanently but now? How could she after he promised he wouldn't take her job but just how many jobs had he actually been offered?  He must have had some idea when Dorset was mentioned and since she lived in the town, how had he not realised it was where she also worked?  Some detective he was, did he actually think she would travel every day or was he hoping she would be ok with it with them making up?  Rose had reached her limit.

They had made two attempts to make up when she had finally forgiven him first for letting her walk away and even for not telling her about his illness but this? Maybe he was right, they were not meant to reconcile and it was finally over.  At least now, he could come and collect Grace and she would allow her to stay the weekends but there would be no more holidays or weekends away, not now and it would be impossible when she had the baby anyway.  They just both had to accept it, it was beyond redemption now, he had done the unforgivable and taken the job she was meant to have.

They drove back to the station, silently and once back, Alec fired orders at everyone to the point the rest of the staff wondered who had made him so mad, until they realised both he and Rose shared the same name and then knew the reason why, they'd had another bust-up.  It was almost five, Rose had been called into the chief's office finally and was surprised she wasn't fired on the spot.

''I'm sorry Rose, the final decision was taken out of my hands, I got orders from above, the next vacancy that comes in within the area will be yours but you have to admit, no-one expected this, maybe it's just as well he came here.''

''You led me on to believe the job would be mine, there was no-one else up for it.''

''That's not exactly true Rose and in case you forgot, I run this station but as I said, it was taken out of my hands.  I expect you to be able to work together.''

''Then I'd like to move to another team.''

''Rose, I understand but other teams are going to have to get involved so I have to refuse.''

Rose went back to her desk, more annoyed than before she went in.  She gathered her things and knocked on Alec's door, as her boss, she had to let him know she was leaving.

''I have to go pick up Grace, the after school club close at five thirty.''

''Yes, ok, you have to go.  I have a press conference to go to, did you get someone to take care of her tomorrow?''

''Luckily, since Ellie understood what's going on.''

''Fine.  Maybe you could get your mother down tomorrow?''

''I doubt it, what difference does it make?''

Rose went off, just in time to collect Grace, the girl wondering where her dad was.

''He has to do something sweetheart, don't worry.''

Alec went off to the press conference, Rose watching on TV when Grace had gone to play in her room, not wanting her to see him but saw his nemesis, Karen White and knew it would put him in an even worse mood now.  She had forgotten she had given him the spare key that morning so after she finally got Grace to bed, she had settled down to watch the late news in case there was something else about Danny's death.  Just after ten, there was a knock on the door and she wasn't sure about opening it and opened the blind.  It was Alec, she should have known.  He had her spare key, he could have just used it she supposed but he probably thought that was really pushing his luck.

''I brought your key back, I expect I won't be needing it and your mother will.''

''Thanks.  So, I'll see you in the morning?''

''I'm going to walk Danny's paper round first thing, I'll meet you at the station, the chief has managed to get extra people in from Monday, I don't know how many will be in tomorrow but all leave has been cancelled.''

''Tell me about it, Grace was upset when I said I had to work.  I told her you would take her out on Sunday, you can spare a few hours and take her somewhere.''

''Yes, if that's what you want, I'll pick her up at ten.  Rose, let me just say sorry?''

''It's too late for that Alec, you'd best just go.''

Alec made his way back to the hotel, he decided to just unpack what he needed and try again with Rose tomorrow, he was not ready to give up on her despite what he had said about it being for the best.  He couldn't go back to like it was before, he wouldn't, in the last few weeks they had got close again and now she was having another baby, their baby and he wouldn't give up without a fight.

After Alec left, Rose just went to bed, how could she get over this?  Her mother would be there on Sunday, she needed to know she was going to have another grandchild but Rose had hoped to be able to tell her she was getting back with Alec for good but not now.  She tried to get to sleep but had no luck and when she woke up, she felt worse than she had done the day before.

She took Grace to Ellie's and Joe opened the door.  ''Hello Rose, I take it your got your promotion?''

''No, I got my ex husband as my new boss.''

Joe smiled and let her inside.  ''That must have hurt, hi Grace, Tom's in there, why don't you join him?''

Rose kissed her daughter goodbye, leaving her backpack.  ''Where's Ellie?''

''Having a tough time with Fred, he woke up cranky this morning.  Don't let me keep you, it's terrible, what happened, do you think more kids are in danger?''

''I can't tell you anything but keep a close on your kids and if you're going out, I'm trusting you with my daughter.''

Once at the station, Alec wasn't there then Rose remembered he was walking Danny's paper round.  There was a lot of activity going on, desks being moved and extra phone lines being put it as Alec walked in and closed his office door.  After entertaining the town's resident psychic, Alec practically throwing him out of the interview room, the man turned to him and said, ''She forgives you, for the pendant.''

Rose stared after the man.  ''How could he know Alec?  It was never released, what evidence was stolen, not to the press.''

''Come on Rose, you don't believe him do you?  He could have talked to the families, anyone in South Mercia Police, hell, even Tess, this is right up her street, we have better things to do.  What time do you need to pick up Grace?''

They went out, hardly speaking except to the postman whom the local newsagent had seen talking to Danny and them having an argument about Rose's interview techniques which almost got Alec a slap had he not now been her boss but it was after four when Rose got a call from Ellie asking what time Grace was getting picked up, they were going out and had arranged for her nephew to look after the boys.

Rose knocked on Alec's door and told him she had to go.

''Right, ok.  I'll collect her at ten shall I?''

''Yeah but maybe you could come with me, to collect her?''

''I can do that, give me the address.''

''Just park in my street and I'll take you up there, you need to meet Ellie and her family.  We'll have to get her son in for an interview, he was Danny's best friend.''

''Right, maybe we'll get somewhere then.  Come on then, what are you waiting for?''

Chapter 16
Rose may have been annoyed with him but he had done nothing to Grace that the girl deserved not to see him.  In fact, she had made no such promise that Alec would take her out but there was no way now he was here that their daughter was going to miss their weekly visit though now it had just got a whole lot easier since there was no travelling and he was coming to collect her.  There was no way she was going to let her personal feelings come into this regarding his parental responsibilities and let him go back to working all hours and only spending thirty minutes a night with his daughter, it had taken ten months or so to do that and almost two months of trying to make up but it was all over between them now, how could it be anything else?

Alec parked his car and got into Rose's and they drove in silence again up to Ellie's house.  Ellie had of course seen him on TV the night before but still thought he was rather good-looking in a scruffy beard sort of way and thought Rose was off her head for splitting up with him.

''Oh, you must be Alec then, well come in you two and I want the low-down on how you're getting on patching things up.''

Rose looked at her friend.  ''Not now Ellie, sorry, we don't want to talk about it.  Is Grace ready to go?''

''Yeah though she's been a bit sleepy since we got back from the park, she was running around trying to catch Tom on his skateboard, he didn't feel like joining his mates on the ramps, took us all our time to get him to go out, he's really upset.  I don't think we would have gone out if Grace hadn't been here.  Do you need to interview Tom?''

''Yeah, just bring him in at some point, we'll fit him in, let him settle down a bit. Well, this is Alec, Grace's dad, in case you didn't think of asking.''

''I saw him on TV Rose.  Hi, I'm Ellie Miller, this is Fred, my youngest.''

She was holding Fred who himself looked like he had just woken up and Rose hoped since he had been cranky this morning was not coming down with something Grace would catch.  Grace was watching cartoons with Tom and his dad in the front room as Ellie opened the door, Alec noticing the blonde haired boy and the man sat in the next seat with his hand on the boy's shoulder and Grace sat on a cushion by Tom's feet, not that there were no chairs, she just preferred to sit there.

''Grace, come on love, your mum and dad are here,'' Ellie informed her.

''Daddy!  Can I finish watching this?''

They finally got her up and she ran straight to Alec to be picked up so Rose thanked her friend again and he carried her out to the car, stopping to look around, getting his bearings and meaning to ask questions on Monday about how close the house was to the Latimers.  During the day, there had been several revelations about the Latimer family, drugs and money being found in their son and daughter's bedrooms and Alec thought Mark had seemed rather nervous, like he was hiding something himself and he meant to discover what it was.

He had been up on Danny's paper round and discovered the cabin up on Briar cliff, reviewed CCTV footage from Thursday night and clearly seen the man waiting by a car and just a few hours ago had retrieved the keys for the hut and a full-scale search was now being conducted but he had to let them get on with the job and nothing could be done tonight.  Tomorrow, he was spending a few hours with his daughter and nothing was going to stop that, he just hoped Rose would relent and join them.

When they got back, Grace wanted carrying inside, Rose knew she was just playing up because he'd not been there that morning and Alec seemed content to go along with it.  He went out to get some food just after he had said goodnight to Grace, the girl saying she wanted to go to the fossil centre up in the next village and Rose giving him directions to get there.  After they had eaten, Alec said he should go back to his hotel.

''Yeah, it's best you go, thanks for coming to pick her up with me, we just have to appear normal in front of her, it won't do her any good if we fight all the time.  You can come round every night for an hour and put her to bed, I won't stop you and I'll tell my mum nothing for now, just that with her being here you're stopping at the hotel.''

''Yes, about that.  The hotel is too far away, I was going to go to that B&B tomorrow, it's just around the corner and book myself in there, then I'll be closer.  They have vacancies, it will be cheaper for the police to pay for, they won't object, it was the one I said maybe your mother could stay in.  Rose, I didn't mean what I said, about it being over between us, I don't want that love.''

''How many more chances can I give you Alec?  I've given you two, how can I give you another one if you're gonna keep doing things like this?''

''I did the last two for you, to spare you going through what I was going through, me working and having a heart problem, I didn't want you facing that but this time, I swear to you Rose, the chief didn't tell me you worked here, I really thought you just lived here and I wanted to surprise you, being nearer to you but it was just as much your fault, for not telling me you did work here so I can't accept all the blame and don't forget, another six months or so, you'll have to take maternity leave anyway so if you had got the promotion, what then?''

Rose looked at him as he continued, hell, he was starting to make sense and she hated it.

''You would have been in charge for six months with all the added responsibilities, getting in early, finishing late, leaving Grace even longer with your friend or the after school club, she would have seen even less of you.  Think about it, can you honestly say it's not just as well you didn't get it?''

''I know why I didn't get it Alec, I screwed up – big time.''

''We all do that Rose, I've done it three times in a year, with you and Grace but I'm not ready to give up.  Have the baby and when you're ready to go back to work, you may well get the promotion but until then, you have two choices.  We split up forever and I'll come and collect Grace every weekend because I can't come here every night for an hour, it's not enough and I know I hardly saw her before but I was getting ill, I know why I worked all those hours now or we have this baby together, as a family and I come home every night to you and Grace, when you have to give up work and when the baby is old enough, we do what we did with Grace and you go back part-time.  So, what's it going to be Rose?''


It was a long summer, not just for those with kids off school for six weeks but for the whole town and Jackie Tyler.  A lot had happened, the harbour newsagent was falsely accused resulting in him taking his own life hours before he was proved innocent, Alec had gone with Rose for her hospital appointment and her first scan and they had found a three bedroom house to rent just going out of town, around the corner from the harbour and Joe Miller had helped Alec move everything down from the old apartment, Alec considering it was easier to do it one go and pay another months rent rather than pay for storage.

Grace was about to go back to school and they'd persuaded Jackie to stay the whole summer, Alec saying it was more for Ellie's benefit and she deserved to spend the holidays with her own kids and not his and Rose's but the truth was, he didn't trust Joe Miller, there was something unsettling about him and he didn't like it.  He had kept quiet since the man's wife was his ex wife's best friend and she needed her when Grace went back to school but if as he suspected, that would be put paid to but at least Rose would be able to collect Grace herself should his suspicions be correct.

More and more things were not adding up in his mind and it hadn't helped at a town meeting, four weeks into the investigation when he stood in front of the school hall and someone he had only met once or twice stood up and asked where Alec himself had been on the night Danny had died and that it was more than a co-incidence he had turned up at the same time from nowhere and at his last job, another killer had walked free.

Rose of course had leapt to her ex husband's defence in a flash, standing up from the table and banging her fist to get everyone's attention.

''How dare you accuse DI Hardy?  I'm sure everyone in this town already knows we were married and even before he came here, we were getting back together again but that's no-one's business except ours so I'm not prepared to go into any details but I will say, he had just got into town that day and he was with me and our daughter, all night.''

Alec was amazed she was capable of defending him after all the doubts she'd had but things had got better and before Jackie left, he was going to ask her to stay a bit longer and ask Rose to consider re-marrying him and take her off for a few days.
There were calls of 'you would say that' amongst others but Rose stood her ground.

''We have a beautiful six year old daughter whom he adores and would do anything for, including shielding us from something that happened before either of us came here.  He moved to the town to be closer to us, I travelled with our daughter almost 150 miles there and back to see him every weekend and when the chance came to move here, he never hesitated to be close to her and yes a lot of you think I was angry he took a job meant for me but I know why he did it and now, you all have the nerve to accuse him of this.  Alec Hardy is the kindest, most decent man you could ever meet and a loving father and if I hear one more accusation like that, I'll haul you in and arrest you myself.''

Needless to say, nothing ever came of it when the chief got to know about it, simply saying Rose had changed her tune since his arrival but Rose responded by saying that's because she was being childish about the job and would have had to leave after six months anyway, something Alec had kindly reminded her of.

So as things were no nearer being settled on the investigation, Alec had talked to Jackie one night as the bank holiday approached and they conspired to get Rose up to the Town Hall where he had applied to get married again and calling Rose's friends, they arrived after Alec convinced her just to trust him and go with him. Jackie and Grace had already gone out on some other pretence and Rose clasped her hand over her mouth when Ellie, Joe, Mark and Beth were waiting in the doorway, all dressed up.

''Rose, I know we've had our differences but well, will you marry me, again?''

''How can I say no but you could have warned me instead of being sneaky about it, I suppose everyone was in on it?''

''Yes love, Ellie will be your witness and Joe will be my best man.  So what do you say?''

He wasn't entirely sure about the last bit but he knew him better than Mark Latimer but if he was right, their friendship was about to be short-lived.

After the short ceremony, everyone went to The Traders then Alec drove the two of them down to Weymouth for a honeymoon since that was all he could arrange in the time he'd had a brainstorm and risked Rose slapping him and telling him she wouldn't marry him again in a million years but she did because she still loved him, despite what had happened.

Two weeks later, the investigation came to a close as a missing phone that had been Danny's was switched on and traced.  Alec wanted to be wrong, he had risked not telling his now wife again who he thought it was but it turned out she wasn't mad at him, she was mad at herself for trusting her best friend's husband but Joe Miller had known at the wedding that the two detectives were closing in on him and over the next few days, had decided that since Alec had trusted him to be best man at the wedding, he wanted to give himself up to him, not Rose, he couldn't face her but after his initial interview, Rose asked him how he could have looked after her daughter knowing what he had done to Danny.

''I never touched Tom or Fred and especially not Grace, I swear to you both I never touched your daughter and I can't explain why I was drawn to Danny, maybe because he needed me and I needed someone of my own.''

Rose was less that sympathetic.  ''We trusted you, I trusted you and so did Ellie, didn't you think what it would do to her?''

Joe couldn't answer her, he refused to say anything else and was led away, Alec turning off the recorder and putting his arm around his wife.

''I wanted to be wrong Rose, I really did but things were not adding up, not for a while.''

''Since when?''

''Really?  The first time I met him for one, then when he helped me move, the questions he was asking and his defence with Tom's interview yesterday.  I wanted to tell you love but it would have shown when you saw Ellie, I couldn't risk it and I had no proof, until today.  So do you want another divorce?  I messed up with us again Rose.''

''I never did believe in third time lucky Alec, I knew you'd screw up again, what is it with you?''

He thought she was being serious.  ''So I guess I'll go pack then?''

''Seriously?  You're giving up again?  What happened to 'I'm not ready to give up on us'?''

''I'll just keep doing it and you won't trust me any more.''

''Alec Hardy, do you think I just married you again for a week?  You don't get out of that easily this time and I'm not doing all the hard work of getting the divorce papers, are you?''

''No, you're the expert at that.  So are we going home?''

''Yeah, I'm not ready to give up on you just yet, this baby need its father.''

''Is that the only reason you're not divorcing me again?''

''Come home and I'll show you, I'll get mum to take Grace out for a walk.''

''Your mother can go home now, we'll be back to just us, if you can put up with me?''

''I wouldn't keep taking you back if I couldn't put up with you, you plum.''

''Well in that case, I'll just finish in my office then we'll go home and you can show me if you've forgiven me.''

''That may take a while.''

''I hope so.''

The End!