I thought I had lost you

Rose Tyler works her way through police college after leaving her job and is sent to the town of Sandbrook, working with Alec Hardy.  Rose is offered a promotion in London but at her leaving party realises she will miss him.  When she passes her exam, she goes to work in Broadchurch and a few months later, Alec becomes the new DI.  Can they keep their pasts from their new chief?

Chapter 1

When Rose Tyler's place of work is destroyed in an unexplained explosion, she's offered a job in another branch of the same company but she somehow can't settle with the idea that the investigation into the store's destruction doesn't offer any explanations. Her mother tries to get her to forget about it.

"Rose, ya can't do anything about it," Jackie reminded her over a month later. "It was lucky ya couldn't find Wilson and got out the back door before the place went up."

"Yeah, I suppose so?" Rose had to agree with her mother on that. "If I'd stopped to find out what that noise was, I might not have made it?" she shivered at the thought. "Funny thing though, as I was making my way to the exit, I swear those shop dummies started moving."

Jackie remembered her mentioning it before and had laughed at it.

"Rose, it was just the lighting, ya said only some of the lights were on. Ya have to leave it behind sweetheart. If it bothers ya that much, then do something about it," she suggested.

"Such as Mum? I'm in a job I hate, I've no qualifications, what am I supposed to do?" Rose replied, leaning over and flopping over the glass-topped coffee table. "Now I wish I'd taken more notice at school."

"Well you wanted to mess about Madam," Jackie told her. "Look where that ended? Why not enrol in some free evening classes? They run them at the community centre ya know? Ya can do English and maths and maybe have to pay for some of the others but they're not that much, ya get it subsidised."

"Yeah? I supposed I can go and ask about it? I'll call in tomorrow on the way home, I expect they have classes startin' all the time?" Rose agreed.

"Well it's a start," her mother laughed. "Don't let it go to waste, do something with it sweetheart."

So Rose got herself enrolled in classes for maths and English, getting a certificate at the end of it and since she couldn't get the store out of her mind, asked about enrolling at the police academy. The recruitment officer was sympathetic when he asked why Rose wanted to join the police.

"That's very commendable Miss Tyler," Sergeant Baines told her when looking at Rose's application. "So you wanted to know more about the investigation? I remember when it happened, officers were sent from all over London and the building was cordoned off. Still, it was decided it was a gas leak in the end."

"That's just it Sergeant," Rose replied. "Never mind, I don't suppose I can do anything about it now but I'd like to join the police, so the next time something like that happens, I can maybe make a difference."

"I like your enthusiasm Rose," the sergeant smiled. "I think the academy is just what you need."

"So I passed the interview?" Rose sounded surprised. "How long will I have to train for? Do I get an allowance? Only I have to help my mum out."

"Don't worry about that," the sergeant told her. "As to how long you'll be at the academy, well that depends on you. How far do you want to get?"

That got Rose thinking. Did she just want to be in uniform, patrolling the streets of London or did she want to get into the investigation part of policing? She didn't suppose there would be many opportunities unless she studied hard and learned the basics first.

She got herself signed up and waited for the start of the term, being told that her first one was just induction and listening to the tutors giving lectures and taking notes for her first exam to see if she was suitable.

"Well ya have to try," her mother was encouraging her when the time was near for Rose to go off for her first day. "Don't let anything put ya off, stick to it."

So Rose stuck to it, making a few friends and facing comments from the male hopefuls who thought they were better than the female new recruits but the sergeant who had signed her up pulled those responsible up by saying Rose had got a higher pass rate than all of them put together.

He had then encouraged Rose when the time came for her first real assignment.

"I expect to see you back here Rose," he smiled on the last day of the final term. "You've put a lot of hard work into it, don't stop at being just a WPC."

"Thanks Sarge, I'm really looking forward to putting it all into practice," Rose laughed. "Don't worry, I'll be back, I've decided I want to be a detective constable."

"Of course you do," he laughed back. "Well good luck then."

Rose was assigned to a station and partnered with an older officer, whom she got on well with. It only took her a short time to get some experience since they patrolled parts of central London and the pair of them dealt with all kinds of odd occurrences.

Finally, Rose got her promotion to detective constable and she'd been out to celebrate but it had meant she had to move, to a town called Sandbrook. Her mother hadn't wanted to move away, even though Rose had somewhere to live so they had compromised and Jackie said she would visit when she could.

She arrived at her new station and was told to report to detective inspector Alec Hardy, who had been informed he was to have a new DC after the chief had enough of Alec arguing with his wife when they'd come back in from following a lead and had welcomed being told they were getting a new officer. The chief thought he was rather throwing Rose in at the deep end but he'd had little choice, no-one else would work with the grumpy detective.

"Welcome to Sandbrook, DC Tyler," the chief greeted her. "Our senior detective is in need of a new partner, you'll have the use of a car to drive him around and you'll gain some valuable experience, learning how he works. Any questions?"

Rose thought she could have been given a bit more information, there wasn't much to go on. She really wanted to ask why she was being partnered right away with a senior officer, what had happened to the last one? She decided against it and got up.

"Where do I find him, Sir?" Rose asked instead.

"On the next floor, go into the main office and knock on his door but be warned," the chief smiled.

"Geez, what have I let myself in for?" Rose asked herself as she got up.

"Go to the personnel office while you're on this floor, they'll sort you out," he then added. "Oh and watch out for DS Hardy, the DI's wife. I just split them up for arguing all the time. Don't get caught up in it. Any problems, come straight to me."

"Yes Sir but how do I deal with her, if she starts on me?" Rose wanted to know.

"Look Rose," the chief replied, putting a folder on the desk. "They're having marriage problems, which is why I split them up from working together. Just do your job and ignore her, she'll get over it."

Rose hoped the chief was right. She finished in the personnel office and went to the next floor, butterflies in her tummy at the thought of walking into an argument between the two detectives. She entered the outer office and everyone looked up, Rose glancing around and trying to see who DS Hardy was.

Tess looked up from her phone, where she'd been texting Dave Harris, who had been sympathetic towards her lately and had asked her out for a drink. Since Alec was always in a mood, she'd decided to accept the offer and see what happened.

"Who are you then?" Tess acknowledged Rose.

"DC Rose Tyler, Ma'am," Rose stood in front of Tess's desk, trying to get used to her new rank. "I'm looked for DI Hardy, the chief sent me."

"Of course he did," Tess was annoyed after being told Alec was getting a new partner and it had to be a blonde female, a newly promoted one at that.

"Over there," Tess indicated to Alec's office, where he was trying not to take notice of what was going on.

He'd just got off the phone with the chief and he wasn't happy with a number of things.

"I prefer to do the driving," Alec had first complained. "After having Tess drive me around. So, what's this new officer like?"

"Young and blonde," the chief had laughed. "Seriously Alec, think yourself lucky I don't give you someone from another division. This one is serious about her promotion, she's worked hard to get it."

"Haven't they all?" Alec had grumbled back. "I want my objections noted."

"Yes Alec, anything else?" the chief had expected a list from the grumpy DI.

Alec had continued his list of complaints, the chief saying to give his new partner a chance.

"Alec, she's been patrolling in central London, I'm sure she can more than hold her own here," the chief had told him.

"That may be so," Alec had replied. "We'll see then but she had better get used to the way I work."

The chief had to laugh, knowing himself how Alec worked.

"Yes Alec, I know but go easy on her at first. No-one else has volunteered to work with you."

"That's due to Tess," Alec had reminded him. "Goodness knows what she has told her friends."

Alec had suspected she'd made a new friend, one Dave Harris, who was trying to get himself moved from another division. Well let him move, he'd soon see what Tess was like. Now, he'd spied a young blonde officer talking to Tess.

The new female officer looked smart, dressed in a casual dark grey jacket and matching trousers, then when Tess pointed her in his direction, he saw she had a light blue blouse underneath the jacket.

Rose had been glad to get out of uniform when she'd passed her exam and she was now glad she'd opted to wear trousers. She thanked Tess and went to knock on Alec's office door, hoping he wouldn't shout at her if he wasn't happy getting a new partner.

"Enter," Alec called out through the partly open door and taking his glasses off.

"Sir, I'm DC Rose Tyler, I was told to report to you."

"Have you been partnered with a DI before?" Alec wanted to know.

Didn't he know she was newly promoted, Rose wondered.

"No Sir, I worked with a sergeant at my old station," Rose told him.

"Well find your desk and I will call you when I need you or need to go out," Alec replied.

Why was it him who had to break in a new officer? Was the chief getting back at him because he and Tess argued every time? This one was going to cause a lot more arguments, judging by the way Tess had been looking over.

Tess had gone back to texting Dave.

'Dave, about that drink? Can we go out tonight? Alec's just got a new young blonde DC' she wrote.

'Lucky him!' Dave had texted back, a few emojis attached.

'Thought you were on my side' Tess replied.

'I was only joking Tess, sheesh' was the reply.

After a few more exchanges, they arranged to meet, since Tess knew her daughter stayed behind to play netball at school that evening then went to a friend's house afterwards. Alec wouldn't care, why would he? It wouldn't take him long to start flirting with his new young DC.

Alec had watched Rose leaving and sat back in his chair. This was not going to solve his problem with Tess, what had the chief been thinking? Breaking in a new junior officer was one thing but he hadn't been prepared for it being a young twenty something blonde female.

Tess was bound to raise objections on that, she'd go complain to the chief, then to whoever else would listen to her and finally, she'd start something once they got home. Daisy would be late home tonight, one of them would have to collect her from her friend's house and that was usually him.

Sure enough, Tess got up but she called in Alec's office first.

"What's going on Alec?" she wanted to know. "You aren't going to work with the new officer are you Alec?"

"I have no choice in the matter Tess," he reminded her. "You saw to it no-one else wanted the job."

"Don't be so sarcastic Alec," Tess huffed back. "We don't have to carry over our home life, what there is of it when we're at work."

"Who's fault is that?" Alec wanted to know. "I'm only working with the new DC Tess, don't make a big deal out of it."

Tess got up, knowing she'd lost so why should she make the effort?

"I'll go pick Daisy up tonight, I was going to visit my sister," Tess replied, thinking it was as good an excuse as any to meet with Dave.

Tess left and went to knock on the chief's door.

"What is it now Tess?" the chief greeted her. "Come to complain about Alec's new partner?"

"Why her?" Tess wanted to know, taking it she was invited to sit.

"Tess, if you can't keep your personal life out of the station, maybe you should consider a move?" the chief suggested, getting tired of her petty complaints.

"I expected a new officer but a young blonde, newly promoted? She'll be doing all kinds of things to try to impress him."

"Such as wearing short skirts and leaving half her blouse buttons unfastened?" the chief laughed. "I doubt it will go that far, her old chief speaks very highly of her. Give her a chance Tess."

Tess went off, deciding to see if Dave was around anywhere to tell him she hoped he wasn't going to mess her around. By the middle of the afternoon, Rose was finding her way around the way the department worked and had jumped when called into Alec's office.

"Come on Tyler, time to go out," Alec told her, getting up and going for his jacket. "We've just been passed a report by the chief that he wants us to handle. It will give you some good experience. Get one thing clear, I drive."

"Sir, I was told I'd be driving you around," Rose replied, moving out of his way.

"Really?" Alec stood putting his raincoat on. "Well, let's see what you can do then? Don't stand there Tyler, get your things."

Rose knew he was going to be nothing but trouble and she swore under her breath as she grabbed her jacket, her work bag and tried to catch up with him, seeing Alec pressing the lift button repeatedly, like the lift would get there faster.

They rode to the ground floor in silence, then she followed him to a door marked 'Garage' and went through after him.

"Sir," the traffic officer saw Alec then Rose behind him.

"This is DC Tyler, she needs authorising to take my car out," Alec told the man.

"Yes Sir. If she'll just sign the vehicle check form," Alec was told.

Rose took the clipboard, wondering if she should bother reading the form or if she was expected to know what was written on it. She'd never had to do that before, take responsibility for someone else's car. She assumed it wasn't his own car, since he was willingly handing it over to her.

"I will give you the directions," Alec told her as Rose started the car, glad it was an automatic or she would be stuck.

There was an onboard sat-nav but it appeared her new boss didn't believe in them. Well, if he did want her driving him around, he'd better get used to her using one or they'd get nowhere fast.

Chapter 2

Rose managed to complete her first assignment with her new boss without any issue, well maybe just one small one. They had just left a house and Alec had taken the lead, not that he'd told Rose much about them being there.

"Sir, can I ask something?" Rose had wanted to know as they got in the car.

"You may as well," Alec replied while putting the seatbelt on.

"Are ya gonna keep call me Tyler all the time?" Rose dared to challenge him. "I mean where I was before, everyone called me Rose."

"Is there any reason you do not like me using your surname?" Alec wondered as Rose set off back to the station, hoping she remembered the way.

She doubted he would give her directions.

"I suppose not," Rose had to admit, thinking he'd never go for it.

"Tyler, well Rose, having just been partnered with my wife, whom you may have guessed who that was, you will have realised I was looking forward to working on my own. Then I was informed a new officer was arriving. We have not yet got used to each other and I was not to know at your last station you went by your first name."

"Oh," was all Rose could think of replying.

"Give it time, Tyler," he then added, hoping she remembered the way back.

If he was going to have her driving him around, she had best not get them lost all the time.

Rose thought maybe there was the slightest chance he may eventually give in and use her first name, she had no idea how long that was going to be though.

Tess has found Dave and was complaining to him.

"I mean did they have to send a new officer who was young and blonde?" she had asked him in the staff canteen.

"Tess, why are you complaining to me?" Dave asked her. "I'm sure the chief knows what he's doing, partnering a new officer with a senior one."

"Go on, tell me how?" Tess replied. "He could have picked anyone."

Dave laughed loudly, making everyone look at them.

"Thought there was only a few DI's around here? The others already have someone under them, Alec's the only one who needs someone. After you worked with him, everyone objected."

Dave had seen her talking to most of the female officers after the chief had split Tess and Alec up, he hadn't needed to hear what Tess had been saying to know she was trying to put them off working with her husband. He had thought it amusing when Tess had complained to him about a young blonde.

Tess sat back on the chair, she'd been hoping for some sympathy but she wasn't going to get it from Dave Harris.

"What did you expect me to do?" Tess huffed.

Dave shook his head. If she was that bothered about it, maybe she was serious about seeing him after work?

"So are we meeting where we said?" Dave asked her.

Rose was now ready to leave and picking up her jacket, knocked on Alec's office door.

"Night then Sir," she told him when he looked up.

"Right, yes. I usually stay later," he admitted, since there was nothing special going on at home and Tess was meant to go pick up Daisy.

Did he believe her when she'd said she was going to see her sister?

"Oh, do you want me to stay?" Rose wondered.

"No, I doubt I will be going anywhere. Night then Tyler."

Rose had to smile as she left. They'd gone out and he couldn't even bring himself to use her first name outside the station. She was going to have to work on him though she didn't expect to be able to use his first name but who knew?

Tess went off to meet Dave, who had found a corner table away from everyone, got some drinks and was looking at the menu when Tess walked in.

"Fancy something to eat Tess? It's two for one tonight," he grinned.

Tess thought that was a good start, the cheapskate as he indicated for her to sit beside him. After they had eaten, Dave didn't waste any time putting his arm around the back of the seat and onto her shoulder.

"Relax Tess," he hinted as she seemed tense. "Why aren't you drinking?"

"I have to go pick up Daisy later," Tess replied.

"Why isn't Alec going?" Dave wondered. "Can't you call him?"

"I told him I was going to my sister's house," Tess admitted.

"That was sneaky Tess," Dave laughed. "He won't suspect anything then, will he if you ask him?"

Tess thought why not and got her phone out to call Alec. Alec had just got home and looked in the fridge for something to eat, knowing he should have stopped off for something. His phone was buzzing and he saw it was Tess. Was she making excuses up for not going to pick up Daisy?

"Alec, can you go get Daisy?" Tess greeted him.

"You are already out," Alec pointed out to her.

"I know but I wanted to stay a bit longer," Tess admitted.

"Sure you're at your sister's and not at the pub?" Alec had to ask her. "Admit it Tess and I bet you're with that Dave Harris."

"Don't be so suspicious Alec," Tess denied it. "Fine, I'll say I have to go."

"Don't be so obvious then," Alec told her. "Besides, I was about to make something to eat."

"Have you only just got home?" Tess wanted to know. "Been working late with your new blonde DC?"

"Stop it Tess," he snapped back. "Ask anyone what time she left."

"You could have arranged to meet her," Tess replied sarcastically.

"Like you did with Dave? Forget it Tess, it won't work. Go get Daisy, as you said you would."

With that, he hung up before she could protest further. Of course she was out with Harris, where else would she be? She had been sneaking around behind his back in the station, he should have listened closer to the whispering when he'd walked into the office, they all knew except him and his new DC, Rose Tyler.

Tess had taken an instant dislike to the newest officer and was now using her as a cover. Tyler wouldn't like it if she knew, that was for certain. He bet the chief had warned her about Tess anyway and why they were split up from working together. He would have to get his version in before Tess did, maybe Tyler would be his only ally.

Rose had got home earlier and thought about her first day in her new station. Alec Hardy hadn't been too bad, she had thought he was amusing with his funny ways of doing things, such as often raising his eyebrows, the way he kept reaching in his jacket pocket for his notebook and pen and his insistence at calling her Tyler.

Him not using the satnav though was more annoying, how was she supposed to find her way around the town she had only been in a short while? She couldn't afford a car of her own yet and she doubted she would get her boss's work car for her own use though it might be worth a try she supposed.

If she used the excuse of picking him up to save him leaving his own car in the garage, she might get away with it. There again, his wife already disliked her, she'd seen Tess's face when they'd gone back to the office. It might be fun winding DS Hardy up and he might even go along with it.

Tess finally got home with Daisy, although she had been late picking Daisy up and the girl had complained all the way home.

"Steph's mother was about to call you," Daisy had told her. "Were you and dad arguing over who was picking me up again?"

"Daisy, don't be so cheeky," Tess had told her. "I was at your aunt's."

"Yeah, whatever," Daisy had replied, putting her earphones on and playing with her phone.

It had left Tess wondering what exactly Daisy had been hearing her talk to Alec about. At least Dave had just been more affectionate in the corner of the pub than Alec was when they were out. Not that they went out much any more.

Alec had been eating his meal and thinking about that morning when he'd been told who he was to be partnered with. At first, he'd just wanted to be left on his own after Tess but he knew the rules and he'd got Tyler, Tess would probably request Dave Harris, the man was already wanting to be transferred.

The chief would probably go for it, just to keep the peace. Somehow, he wasn't that bothered but if affected the way Tess worked, then he'd have to say something.

Rose was early the next morning so she called to see the transport officer.

"Tyler, right?" Rose was asked. "Bit early to be going out?"

"Yeah, right. I just wondered if the car was only for DI Hardy's use or do others use it?"

"Well, DS Hardy used to borrow it sometimes," the officer admitted. "They both had their own cars, that I had to find room for when she could have taken it home with her for getting to and from work. You'd have to ask him what he wants to do, he may take it himself," Rose was told.

"Thanks. I'll call down if he wants to go out," Rose replied, thinking she'd maybe sounded a bit too keen to impress her new boss.

"So, you're new to the area then?" she was then asked. "I noticed the satnav hadn't been programmed, how did you find your way around yesterday?"

"I was given directions to where we were going and had to remember the way back," Rose grinned. "I don't think he likes using them."

"I'd take no notice of him next time and put it on," the officer laughed. "I've no objections of you taking the car, it's down to him though. You'd better appeal to his good side."

Rose didn't want to seem too keen to impress her new boss but she could always claim she was taking the initiative. That wouldn't do any harm, would it? She gave Alec time to settle then ignoring Tess, went into his office.

"What?" he asked as she stood opposite.

"Sir, I just thought of something. Since I have to drive you around, well maybe I can pick ya up in the mornings, save you bringing your car to leave it here all day?"

She sat down, waiting for him to flatly refuse her suggestions and tell her she had no chance.

"Where did that come from?" Alec wanted to know, leaning back in his chair and looking amused. "How do you know I don't want it for my own use?"

"Well Sir, I just thought maybe it was a good idea, I mean if you don't come to work with your wife?"

"Well, it's that obvious is it?" Alec asked her. "She normally takes our daughter to school and leaves early.

That was Tess's excuse for not setting off at the same time as he did so they had to take two cars. Maybe Tyler's idea wasn't so bad?

"Sorry Sir, I never meant to pry," Rose apologised.

"Don't be sorry Tyler. I will think about it and let you know by tonight," Alec replied.

"I can stay later, if ya want?" Rose offered.

"No need, maybe it is time I stopped?" Alec told her.

"I'm on my own anyway, in a tiny flat that there's just about enough room for when my mum wants to visit," Rose admitted, not knowing why she was bothering him about it. "It was all they could find me at the last minute."

"Better than a hotel or bedsit," Alec replied, also wondering why she was telling him.

"Yeah, I suppose I can only apply for something bigger if my mum came to live with me? She won't leave though, I asked her to come here with me."

"Some people don't like change Tyler," Alec pointed out.

Why was he giving her chance to just talk about something other than work? Rose got the hint to leave when he put his glasses on and picked up a folder. She thought he had better things to do than chat with her all morning. Rose got up to leave, saying she was sorry for keeping him talking.

He let it go, putting it down to the fact she was new and probably hadn't made any friends yet. At lunch time in the canteen, Rose saw a few who worked in the same department and asked if she could join them.

"I'm Rose, by the way," Rose told them when they said she could.

"Hi, we should have introduced ourselves yesterday," one of them told her. "I'm Trish, that's Kate and that's Jo," she pointed to the other two in turn. "So, you got to work with Hardy then?"

"Is that bad?" Rose wondered what that was supposed to mean.

"He and his wife were always at war with each other," Kate laughed. "You should have heard her going on about it."

"Why put them working together then?" Rose asked innocently.

"That was the chief's big mistake," Jo laughed.

"Well I'm keeping out of it," Rose decided, trying to eat her lunch before it got cold, not that it was all that nice, there was too much salt for her liking.

She thought if the food was like that every day, she may venture out to eat or have words with the chef.

Alec was watching from the other side of the canteen, hoping Tess wouldn't decide to join him. They had hardly spoken that morning except over something to do with Daisy before the girl had got downstairs.

"You need to have words with your daughter," Tess was telling Alec as he was trying to make some toasts and egg.

"Why me?" he wanted to know, licking butter from his fingers and Tess frowning at him. "Don't make me out to be the bad guy Tess."

"She was being cheeky last night when I picked her up," Tess had continued.

"She's a teenager Tess, what do you expect?" Alec had wanted to know.

"Don't take her side Alec," Tess had huffed, just as Daisy entered the kitchen.

"Thanks a lot Mum," Daisy complained, taking some toast Alec offered to her.

He wondered why it was always him who made Daisy her breakfast. So it was always peaceful for him at lunchtime, since Tess seemed to want to join her friends recently, probably to complain about him. Why did he put up with it, it was only for Daisy he supposed. Now, Tyler had come along and Tess had a new excuse to complain.

Rose spotted him on his own as she was about to leave and stopped at his table.

"Are you okay Sir?" she asked him as he squinted at his phone.

"Fine Tyler. Made some friends?" he hoped, so she wouldn't keep him talking all the time.

"Yeah, I hope so. Are we going out today?" Rose wanted to know, since she hadn't much to do except catch up on what had been going on before her arrival.

"Not unless something comes up," Alec replied, giving up on his phone. "Nothing to do?"

"Just catching up," Rose admitted. "There are a lot of cases that have just been left," she added.

"You want to do something about them?" he replied. "Go ahead Tyler, let me know if you find anything then."

Rose was pleased with herself and went off to the ladies room to call her mother.

"How ya getting' on?" Jackie wanted to know. "How's the new boss?"

"Okay so far Mum. The only thing is, he seems to be at war with his wife, the chief warned me yesterday."

"You need to be careful there Rose," Jackie warned her. "Don't get caught up in it."

"I'm tryin' not to," Rose laughed. "It ain't gonna be easy, she already doesn't like me gettin' partnered with her husband."

Rose went back to work, seeing Tess down the corridor talking to Dave.

"So can you get out later?" Dave was asking Tess, wanting more than a few sneaked kisses in the pub and when Tess had been leaving.

"I don't know Dave, it depends if Alec's working late or not. When I called him to go pick up Daisy last night, he'd only just got home," Tess complained.

Dave let out a laugh, making Rose wonder what was going on.

"So, he was keeping his new partner 'working' late was he?"

"Shut up Dave," Tess didn't want to be reminded.

Then she caught a glimpse of Rose turning the corner to go back to the office. She bet anything the young blonde already had her eye on Alec. Did he seem any different? Being late home last night and claiming Tyler had gone home early still bothered her. Did Alec really expect her to believe that?

"Oh, that hit a sore spot then?" Dave laughed some more. "Was that her who just came around the corner?"

"Trust you to spot a blonde," Tess replied. "All the males will be going after her, trust me."

"Jealous Tess?" Dave tried to be serious.

Tess went to hit his arm but he stopped her.

"Don't take it out on me Tess," Dave told her. "Meet me the same place as last night?" he then suggested.

"I'll have to tell Daisy to stay at my mother's then," Tess agreed.

"Don't worry Tess, Alec will be too busy to notice," Dave assured her.

It seemed obvious to him that Alec wouldn't waste any time going after the new female officer. If it made Tess really jealous, it would make things easier.

Chapter 3

When Alec saw Tess sneaking off before finishing time, he got even more suspicious as to her claim at being at her sister's house last night. He was interrupted by Rose knocking on the door and letting herself in.

"Sir, about the car," she reminded him. "Have you thought about it?"

"Sit down Tyler," Alec replied, knowing he had to confide in someone and it might as well be her, since she was new and hadn't taken sides yet. "If I let you drive me to and from the station every day, well my wife will object and you two do not seem to get on."

Rose thought the woman hadn't even given her a chance.

"Sir, I don't wanna cause any trouble," she told him.

"It would have made no difference who was assigned to me," Alec admitted. "She would still have found fault. I apologise if she has made you feel unwelcome."

What had come over him, apologising like that? He'd even given up apologising to Tess, he wasn't going to take much more from her, he was sure of that.

"It was just an idea," Rose was stuck for something to say. "I'll leave it for now then?"

"It would be best," Alec agreed. "Are you having problems getting here?"

"No but I had to leave early to get here on time and a good thing too, the bus was early," Rose grinned.

"I see then? I will think further about it, I don't expect it will make Tess any worse anyway," Alec replied. "Take my advice Tyler and just ignore her."

"That's what the chief told me," Rose told him as she got up.

"We both agree on that," Alec gave her half a smile. "You answer to me, not her anyway, if she gives you any trouble, come and tell me. Night then Tyler."

"Night Sir. I'll try and keep away from her. Actually, I made a few friends earlier and they all refer to her as Tess, I'm still tryin' to get used to my new rank."

"It happens," Alec told her. "Officially you are entitled to use first names but she may object. As for more senior officers, tread carefully Tyler."

Rose thought she detected another half smile from him but left it. She would have to see if she had any occasion to address DS Hardy but if Tess was being talked about in the canteen would join in next time. As she left, the women she'd talked to earlier were just leaving.

"Hey Rose, not in trouble with the boss are you?" she was asked.

"Nah, been tryin' to see if I can get use of the car I drive him around in," she admitted.

"You'll be lucky," they all laughed. "Tess probably uses it just to spite him. You know they worked together, against the chief's better judgement?" Jo asked her.

"He told me. Ya never know, he might go for it," Rose replied. "Night then."

By the end of the week, Rose was no nearer talking Alec into letting her use the car and they'd only been out a few times. Friday lunchtime, Rose's new friends were telling each other their plans for the weekend.

"What about you Rose?" she was asked.

Rose had been taking no notice, she was watching Tess with interest as she was ignoring poor Alec in favour of sitting with some other senior officers.

"What? Oh, just shopping and finding my way around," Rose grinned.

"By bus?" Kate laughed.

The other two just laughed.

"Don't remind me," Rose replied. "If I do get the car, I won't get much personal use out of it I expect?"

"Better than Tess having it," Trish laughed. "I think she used to take it home on Friday night, lord knows where she parked it since they both have their own cars."

Rose went back to finishing her lunch then saw Tess cross over to where Alec was trying to read his phone screen. She really did feel sorry for her new boss and she wasn't helping things but it was up to him to do something about it.

"What are we doing over the weekend Alec?" Tess asked him as she stood by the table.

"Why ask now?" Alec wanted to know, putting his phone down.

"I expect we'll do the weekly shopping in the morning?" Tess replied. "Are you on call? I expect you are, you and your new partner."

"Stop it Tess. No, I am not on call. What can you possibly have against Tyler? You really put out the welcome mat," Alec replied.

"She'll survive," Tess told him, patting her hair.

"Not if you keep staring at her every time we go out and come back in again," Alec disagreed. "I'm considering letting her take my work car."

"What for?" Tess wanted to know.

"She can drive me to and from work, she may as well. You always go off without me," he complained.

"Only to take Daisy to school. You could offer to take her Alec," Tess argued.

"I am expected to be here on time, before everyone else," he reminded her.

"I'm surprised you don't have your new DC bring you coffee when she arrives," Tess told him sarcastically.

Alec shook his head and picking up his phone, pushed the chair back and walked off. Rose saw him and wondered what had happened and would he be in a bad mood the rest of the day? There went any chance of getting the car then.

Alec got a call once he was back in his office, it was the transport officer.

"So is DC Tyler getting use of the car then Sir?" Alec was asked.

"She already asked you?" Alec replied.

"A few days ago. She said she was going to ask."

"I've not decided yet but have it ready," Alec told the man.

That would really get Tess going, Alec thought. He wondered what Tess would do if he were to be collected on Monday morning? Why was he starting to enjoy getting Tess annoyed? Was it since Tyler arrived? Tyler had certainly brought the good side of Tess out.

He'd heard a few more rumours about her and Dave Harris during the week but had tried to ignore them and she'd been all mysterious at home. Well let her, things couldn't get much worse. Tyler wasn't helping but it would still have happened had anyone else been assigned to him.

He got up and called Rose into his office.

"You already asked about using the car?" he asked when he'd indicated for Rose to sit.

"Was that wrong?" Rose was worried she should have asked him first.

"Just the opposite Tyler," Alec replied. "It shows you have initiative. See the transport officer on Monday morning."

He would have let her take it that evening but there would be paperwork involved, of him authorising her to use it and the chief approving, though that was a mere formality, it was up to himself really.

"Really?" Rose sounded surprised. "Yes Sir, I'll do that, thanks. I have somewhere to park it, thankfully."

"Good, don't get it stolen or damaged then," Alec told her. "If my wife says anything about it on Monday, tell her to see me about it."

Rose thought she'd enjoy doing that, Tess hadn't exactly made her feel welcome since her arrival. What was wrong with the woman? Was she jealous that she no longer worked directly with her husband? Her boss hadn't seemed too bothered about it.

As she left, she couldn't help but smile that he'd given in and her friends noticed. Since they all sat together, they nudged each other.

"Wonder why Rose looks so pleased?'" Jo whispered.

"Hardy must have given in about the car," Trish suggested.

"That'll annoy Tess then," Kate grinned. "They'll be sparks flying when she finds out."

"Great, that's all we need," Jo complained. "Looks like war's been declared between the Hardys?"

"Bet he doesn't tell Tess over the weekend," Trish wondered.

"No, he'll wait," Jo agreed. "Don't you think Kate?" she asked her friend.

"What?" Kate had got distracted by Tess watching Rose leaving Alec's office. "Oh, he won't tell her, you can be sure of that," she agreed.

"Can't wait until Monday morning then," Jo laughed at the thought.

Tess was trying to think why Alec kept making up excuses to get Rose into his office. She finally had enough and got up to ask him.

"I hope Tyler's visit was work related Alec?" she confronted him.

"What is it with you Tess?" Alec wanted to know. "Of course it was. Do I ask you what you talk to your friends about on your breaks? Get over it Tess, if you can't deal with Tyler working with me, ask the chief for a transfer then."

"Charming," Tess replied. "That would just suit you, wouldn't it?"

"Well Dave Harris wanted to move here, maybe you can exchange places with him?"

Tess made a noise then left in a temper.

"You can be really infuriating Alec," she huffed as she opened the door, making everyone including Rose look up.

Alec watched her leaving, sitting back in his chair with his arms behind his head. That had struck a chord, he thought as he noticed Rose had stopped what she was doing to watch Tess leaving in a huff. Tess was getting worse and he knew it, the question was, what was he going to do about it?

Why was she so against his new DC? If the chief had partnered Tyler with Tess, would it have made any difference to their home life? He had to think about this, carefully but he had to work with Tyler, whether Tess liked it or not. The few times he'd been out, they had come back into the office together, maybe he should let Tyler go in first, then follow a few minutes later?

No, that would make Tess even worse, he decided. She would know he was doing it on purpose. There was no easy answer apart from asking the chief to either transfer Tess or Tyler so there wasn't much choice.

Rose went back to the files she was going through, wondering what had happened to make Tess storm out of Alec's office. She saw her new friends talking amongst themselves and thought she would catch up with them later to see what they made of it.

When it was nearly time to leave, Rose got up to see about collecting the car, calling by their desks.

"You're off early Rose," Kate remarked.

"Yeah, gotta go see about a car," Rose grinned. "Not sure why the boss changed his mind though."

"So that was why Tess stormed out of his office then?" Trish tried to be serious.

"Maybe not?" Jo wondered. "She would have confronted Rose."

"Geez, do ya think so?" Rose was worried.

"Sorry Rose but it'll only cause more trouble," Kate told her. "You'd best get going, before Tess notices."

Rose got to the garage, the paperwork for the car ready for her in the office to her surprise.

"It's all been taken car of," she was assured as she was pointed to where to sign. "Keep a record of personal mileage and keep all the fuel receipts. It's got a full tank already."

"Thanks, at least I don't have to call and get any on the way home," Rose laughed.

"So, what have you got planned now you've got the use of the car?" she was asked as she was handed the keys.

"Just shopping I suppose?" Rose was a bit surprised, not knowing where this was going.

She had seen the badge on the traffic officer's police sweater, Sergeant D Peters but didn't know his first name.

"I'm Dean by the way," he replied," Rose thinking if she didn't get out soon, Tess would be around.

Then Hardy would probably ask why she was still there. She hoped the man blocking the doorway would come to the point.

"Still finding your way around town?" she was then asked.

"I'm managing, thanks," Rose replied as he didn't move.

"Well, if you're still having trouble, maybe I can show you around?"

Rose thought he was kind of handsome, maybe around her boss's age but she had no interest in older men, well not that much older.

"I'm fine, thanks all the same," she replied as she indicated she wanted to leave as she saw a few others going to their cars.

If Tess saw her, she would surely ask questions, Rose thought as Dean moved slightly.

"Well if you change your mind, you know where to find me," she was reminded as he put his hand on the door frame and Rose was about to dodge under it until she saw Alec looking in that direction.

"Tyler, thought you had left?" Alec called over to her, making the other man move aside.

"I was about to," Rose aimed the remark at the other officer.

Alec stopped her as she passed him.

"Trouble?" he asked her quietly, nodding to where she had come from.

"No Sir," Rose didn't want any trouble if Tess came along.

"I should hope not then," Alec replied. "Was he bothering you?"

"Not exactly." Rose replied. "I should get going then, Sir. Thanks for arranging the car."

"Night then Tyler and watch out next time," Alec warned her.

"Should I be worried?" Rose wondered as the other officer went back to what he was doing.

"I've had a few complaints," Alec admitted. "He even called me earlier to ask if I had decided to let you take the car or not."

"I take it that's unusual?" Rose also wondered.

"You could say that Tyler. See you on Monday morning, I will make my own way in," he offered.

"I could get you," she reminded him, wondering what Tess would do when she brought him home, let alone collect him in the morning.

"That's not a good idea Tyler," Alec replied. "That would take some explaining," he half smiled at the thought of Tess erupting on the kitchen doorstep.

"So your wife doesn't know you were thinking about letting me use the car?" Rose asked him. "I was told she used it before she stopped working with you?"

"Yes but she uses her own car now, she takes our daughter to school first anyway," Alec admitted, wondering why he was standing in the middle of the police garage having this conversation. "Don't let me keep you Tyler," he then added as he saw Tess was about to enter the garage.

"Alec," Tess called over to him. "Can you go get Daisy since she was in a mood with me this morning?"

"Really?" Alec wasn't that surprised.

Rose thought she had better leave before she was dragged into this.

"Still here DC Tyler?" Tess then asked her.

"I was just leaving," Rose replied.

Alec waited until she had gone before he confronted Tess.

"You don't have to be so rude Tess," he told her.

"Well, what was she doing here?' Tess wanted to know. Then she heard a nearby car starting and turned around. "You let her take the car?"

"Stop it Tess. It is just stuck here, it may as well be used," Alec told her.

"Why, so she can drive you to work and back?" Tess scoffed, seeing the look on his face. "Really Alec."

He knew it hadn't been a good idea.

"Hold on, you were meant to do that but you never did," he reminded her. "As for Daisy, you go get her, then you can go gossip with your mother."

"Huh," Tess replied and went off to her car.

What had he and Tyler been talking about, Tess wondered.

Rose had been glad to make her escape but she felt sorry for her boss, trying to explain things. She had to remember what Alec had said to her, about having trouble with Tess but she didn't think anything would happen until she'd taken him home on Monday night.

Alec had driven off, leaving Tess standing by her car. She was about to get in when Dave appeared.

"Going out tonight Tess?" he asked with a big grin on his face.

"No, Alec refuses to get Daisy so I have to go get her," Tess complained.

"You're going about it all wrong Tess," Dave laughed. "You won't be able to sneak off and meet me at the pub any more then?"

"Don't look too disappointed Dave," Tess replied.

"Oh come on Tess, it's not the end of the world," Dave laughed some more. "We could always sneak off at lunchtime you know? We could go to that pub by the town hall?"

"Then Alec will get suspicious," Tess replied.

"You could say you're meeting a friend," Dave suggested.

"Like he'll fall for that," Tess told him.

"It could be an old friend you met again recently," Dave suggested.

"I'll think about it. Anyway, I suppose Daisy can wait another hour," Tess agreed.

They met where they had been before and Dave was sat waiting in his car. He opened the window when Tess arrived.

"Get in Tess," he insisted. "I know a place we can go."

Tess got in and they drove off, Tess wondering what she was doing going off with her colleague. Was Alec getting even more suspicious? This was bold, she'd never intended that her complaining about Alec to Dave would go so far.

Once out of the town centre, Dave turned down a lane that led to a grassed area and stopped the car.

"Relax Tess, no-one comes here, trust me."

He got out of the car and went around to open the door for her, opening the back door at the same time.

"After you Tess," he grinned as he helped her then got in beside her, trying to take her jacket off and go for her shirt buttons.

Looking flushed a while later, Tess was driven back to her car where they went into the pub for a quick drink.

"Well?" Dave grinned at her. "Exciting?"

Tess was getting her phone out, since Daisy was calling to find out where she was.

"I got held up," Tess insisted. "I'm on my way."

Alec had got home and wondered if he should catch Tess out and turn up at her mother's house. If she wasn't there, then he had something to worry about but if she was, she'd think he was spying on her.

Chapter 4

Rose was pleased that she'd not had to dash out for the bus home but she was still a bit un-nerved that she'd been prevented from leaving the garage office. She had been glad to see her boss had been paying attention to what was going on. Was she going to have the same problem every time she parked? She hoped not, she would have to keep the car keys on her so she didn't have to ask for them.

She wondered if she should be worried about what she'd been told by her boss, that he'd had a few complaints about the traffic officer. That was all she needed, to have to dodge the man every time she went for the car. After making something to eat, Rose called her mother.

"You never!" Jackie laughed when told Rose had got a car. "How did ya manage that?"

"I had to offer to drive my boss to work and back," Rose had to admit. "The thing is, I've already made an enemy out of his wife, she just doesn't seem to like me. She's a DS and she used to be his work partner."

"Well ya'd best be careful then," Jackie suggested. "So did ya say ya'd made a few friends?"

"Yeah, they're friendly enough," Rose told her. "Are ya gonna think about coming down for a visit then?"

"I'll think about it. So, do ya want to hear all the latest gossip?" Jackie wanted to know.

After listening another half hour, Rose finally said goodbye and accessed her phone's map and tried to figure out how to get driving directions on it so she wouldn't get lost going shopping the next day.

Alec was about to call Daisy to see if Tess had collected her, guessing he was maybe right about Tess taking her time talking to her mother or had she sneaked off somewhere to meet with Dave Harris? Why was he so suspicious, was it the other night when Tess had suddenly said she wanted to see her sister or had he just ignored things before that?

He hated the fact that he may have cause to be worried. He had confided in Tyler that Tess might make a fuss when he was picked up for work and he'd talked to her when he was leaving. She had looked relieved at being rescued and he'd have to have words with the traffic officer again. He thought the last warning he'd given the man might have been enough but obviously not, it always seemed to be after a new female officer had arrived.

Monday morning, Rose went to park in the usual spot and kept hold of the keys, she just hoped her boss would want to go out so it was justified. She was about to open the door when Tess was behind her.

"You're lucky to have got the use of that car after only being here a short time," Tess told her as Rose held the door open and was pressing for the lift. "I didn't use it all the time."

"I was told I could take it," Rose defended herself as they got in the lift, Rose pressing for the first floor.

"You mean you asked?" Tess replied. "Let me give you some advice, DC Tyler. Don't appear to over keen, no-one likes a show-off."

"Excuse me saying so but I wasn't, I was trying to show initiative, do you want me to say I don't want the car?" Rose asked her.

She got out of the lift and walked away before she said something else that she might not get away with. "Cheeky cow," she thought as she went into the office and to the break area.

Trish and Kate were already making coffee so Rose joined them, Tess walking in behind her and going to her desk.

"What's wrong with her?" Trish asked innocently.

"She got in the lift with me," Rose replied.

"Just because she's a DS," Trish replied, trying not to glance at Tess. "We have to report to her, lucky you doesn't have to bother."

"Well I feel sorry for ya," Rose smiled. "Hardy's not that bad, I wonder why she's funny with everyone?"

"Don't get involved Rose," Kate warned her. "There are rumours about her and some DS in another division, don't know how true they are."

"Well I'll make her even worse if my boss wants a ride home tonight," Rose admitted.

"You're asking for trouble," Trish told her as she picked her drink up.

Rose thought she'd better get to her desk before Hardy shouted for her.

Alec had seen the three of them together in the corner and Rose then going to sit at her desk. What was it about her? He had considered breaking his rule of no first names when they had to go out but was it such a good idea? If he got used to it, he may forget and carry it over to when they returned. That would make Tess even worse, dare he rile her up any more?

The weekend had been a drag, especially the shopping when he'd let Tess go off on her own in the supermarket. As usual she had returned with things he either didn't like or new things to try. He supposed she'd done it to annoy him and to hint he should have gone in with her.

He decided he should get his new DC on his side before Tess got her claws into her so he got up and called for her.

"Sir?" Rose wondered what he'd called her for when he told her to sit.

"Is my wife making things difficult for you?" he wanted to know as he took off his glasses.

Rose wondered if he knew Tess had confronted her in the lift earlier.

"Well she said something about me taking the car, on the way up from the garage," Rose told him.

Alec knew Tess wouldn't have been able to resist.

"I hope you told her you had my permission?" Alec replied, raising his eyebrows.

"More or less, Sir," Rose had to smile.

This was going to be easier than he thought, Alec decided. So Tyler already disliked Tess as much as apparently Tess did Tyler, he mused.

"So how did you find your first week?" he changed the subject.

"Okay. Is it always so quiet?" Rose wondered.

"Make the most of it Tyler," Alec replied. "It will not always be so quiet."

"I thought we would be going out more?" Rose replied.

"Have you found anything worth investigating in those old cases you are going through?" Alec changed the subject.

"One or two," Rose admitted.

"Then make some more enquiries," Alec told her, wondering why she hadn't already done so.

"I was going to Sir," Rose insisted. "It was just what DS Hardy said to me earlier."

"Whatever it was, take no notice Tyler. She will try and hold you back so I will not want to work with you," he warned her.

"She'd really do that?" Rose wanted to know. "She told me not to…" Rose stopped.

"Show off?" Alec guessed, thinking that was typical of Tess.

Wait until he confronted Tess, Alec thought.

"Go ahead and next time, tell her I will say if you are showing off," Alec continued, rubbing his face, Rose noticing he'd grown a bit of a beard over the weekend, which kind of suited him.

Alec had intentional not shaved over the weekend, since Tess was obviously trying to warn Tyler to back off getting over-friendly with him at work. She had said something before she had left to drop Daisy at her mother's, since it was a teacher training day. Alec had said for her to drop him at the front of the police station.

"Thought you'd got a driver Alec?" Tess had asked him as they waited for Daisy. "Didn't she take the car on Friday night?"

"Leave it Tess," Alec had warned her. "She will be collecting me from tomorrow morning."

"That's going to give Daisy the wrong impression," Tess pointed out. "What if she looks out of the window and sees you getting in the front seat with a blonde?"

"Daisy knows the car Tess," Alec replied. "You brought it home enough times for her to recognise it as a police car."

"Well the car was doing nothing at the time," Tess huffed.

"Well it is doing nothing now so Tyler may as well use it," Alec told her. "Daisy, you are going to make us late," he told the almost teenager.

"Why are you going with mum?" Daisy wanted to know.

"Because I have a new driver who will be bringing me home," Alec replied.

"Oh, the new officer mum was complaining about," Daisy called after her, leaving Alec annoyed.

So before he had got out of the car outside the station, he had confronted Tess.

"Did you have to say anything in front of Daisy?" he asked Tess.

"Well really Alec, what do you expect?" Tess had told him.

So he had been annoyed as he'd gone to his office.

Rose got up to leave.

"Tyler," Alec called after her. "This may be a quieter place than your last posting."

"I know Sir," Rose turned and smiled, getting half a smile back.

Alec picked up his phone and called the chief.

"What is going on around here?" he asked when his call was answered.

"Good morning to you too Alec," the chief told him. "Don't tell me. Tess again?"

"She is making DC Tyler feel unwelcome," Alec replied. "I suggested to Tess that she gets a transfer to another department if she does not like someone else working with me."

"Then if you're serious, let me see what I can do," the chief had to agree to get some peace from the complaints about the two of them. "There is something that concerns me Alec," the chief added. "There are rumours going around."

"About what?" Alec wanted to know, as if he couldn't guess.

"Tess being friendly with a certain detective in another division. Were you aware Alec?"

"It came to my attention," Alec admitted. "Tess seems to have got careless since Tyler was assigned to work with me."

"Then talk to Tess about it," the chief insisted. "These things only make gossip worse Alec."

"Then make Tess move, don't give her a choice," Alec replied.

"She won't be happy," the chief reminded him.

"She is not happy now," Alec told him. "It cannot make things any worse."

"Maybe it would be playing into her hands, to put her with the other person the gossip is about?" the chief wondered. "Leave it with me. The only other thing is to transfer her to the other station."

"Then she will make me take Daisy to school," Alec complained.

"You can't have everything," the chief laughed.

Which was going to be best, Alec had to decide. It wasn't Tyler's fault, the problem was with Tess. Did he want her to go work in the same division as Dave Harris? If Tess was on the verge of having an affair, it may put them both off if they had to work together.

Rose joined her friends at lunchtime and as usual, the topic turned to Tess.

"Guess what I heard earlier?" Trish was dying to tell them.

"How come you hear all the gossip first?" Jo laughed.

"Never mind that. Tess was seen driving off to meet someone the other night. That someone was Dave Harris."

"Seriously?" Kate asked, Rose not knowing who they were talking about.

"Who's he?" Rose dared ask.

"Another DS, you've probably seen him," Jo told her.

"Tess was talking to someone in the corridor, I saw them last week," Rose admitted. "Is she for real?"

"They avoid each other in here," Trish laughed.

"What does Tess even see in him?" Kate wondered.

Rose glanced over to where Tess was about to sit with Alec.

"What do you want Tess?" Alec wanted to know as she sat down. "If you're complaining about Tyler again, don't bother."

"Charming Alec. I have to go see the chief after lunch, do you know what it's about?"

"How would I know?" Alec replied, putting his phone away.

They hadn't seen Rose was observing them. She was wondering now what Tess and this Dave Harris had been talking about. She should have maybe paid more attention.

A lot happened in the next few days. Everyone was surprised Tess was still there when word had been spreading she was about to be transferred. Tess had refused to be moved so the chief had warned her about her hostility towards Rose, to which Tess had complained but had to agree in order to stay.

At the end of the week, Rose had taken Alec out on a few calls and had continued to go back to the office at the same time, despite Rose offering to drop him out front.

"We can both go the same way Tyler," Alec had told her.

"Sorry but I still get the feeling like Tess is watching me," Rose had admitted.

"Just ignore her, she will soon get tired of it," Alec had tried to assure her. "Does it make you uncomfortable?"

"It gives me the creeps," Rose had laughed as she parked the car in the garage.

"Any more trouble with the traffic officer?" Alec nodded towards the office.

"Nah, I think he got the message," Rose replied. "I keep the keys with me."

"Sensible," Alec had to admit, holding the door open for her. "Tyler, have you heard any rumours about Tess?"

"I don't think I should say Sir," Rose told him as the lift arrived.

"That bad then?" he half smiled as he pressed the lift button.

"I just don't wanna add to it," Rose admitted.

As they got out of the lift, Alec stopped.

"Tyler. Just act normally when we walk into the office. Pay no attention to Tess."

"Won't that make her even worse?" Rose asked. Then she started to get what he was doing. "Oh. I did mean to ask if it had made things worse by me drivin' ya home."

"Trust me, it could not make her any worse Tyler. You objected to my calling you Tyler when you arrived," he reminded her.

"I got used to it," Rose replied, wondering why he was delaying them.

"Well maybe I can bend my rule slightly but only while we are out," he told her.

"Wow. I'd best not tell anyone, in case it gets back to Tess then?" Rose smiled.

"A wise decision, Rose," Alec actually smiled.

When Rose walked towards her desk, she passed by where her friends were.

"What are you smiling at Rose?" Trish wanted to know.

"Tell ya later," Rose laughed, making them even more curious.

Tess also wanted to know why the younger officer had a grin on her face, having seen Alec going to his office. He appeared to be in a good mood and she was dying to know why but the chief had warned her about mixing their personal lives with work. That had been part of her being able to stay.

Rose had noticed Tess was going into Alec's office less often and thought he must have said something to her. She hoped Tess would now pay less attention whenever herself and Alec returned. Her boss was now finally lightening up somewhat, which made her feel more at ease and if Tess was less hostile, she may even begin to feel like she belonged there.

She had been sad to leave her old station but she had wanted the promotion and to work with someone who could teach her a lot about being a detective. She just hoped something big would come along, to test her new skills.

When Alec got home, Tess was waiting for him.

"You took your time Alec," Tess started to tell him.

"Don't Tess," he warned her. "It's Friday, there was a lot of traffic and I left after you did. Is Daisy here?"

"Not yet, I was about to go get her. I don't suppose you're going instead?"

"Why?" Alec wanted to know.

Now was his chance to see if the rumours were true or not.

"Fine, I'll go then," Tess decided.

She hadn't yet arranged anything with Dave but there was still time to call him. He'd hardly spoken to her since the other day when he'd taken her by surprise but she had gone willingly into the back seat of his car again. Maybe he'd been disappointed that she'd stopped him from going too far.

She had felt all flushed as they had adjusted their clothing after going for each other hurriedly and she had got a little over-excited, which Dave probably was pleased with himself over that he had got her like that but was that all he wanted? She set off to get Daisy but stopped outside her mother's house to call Dave.

"Tess, why are you calling?" he wanted to know as he left the living room where his wife was watching an annoying soap opera.

"You hardly spoke to me today," Tess complained.

"What? It bothered you?" he sounded amused. "Come on Tess, we had fun the other night, let's leave it at that for now," he suggested.

"You used me," Tess was annoyed.

"Well you were annoyed with Alec," Dave reminded her. "You got your own back on him."

"You think I went with you to get my own back on Alec?" Tess was even more annoyed.

"Well if that wasn't the reason, what was Tess?" Dave replied. "Don't pretend it wasn't. Anyway, I can't keep meeting you after work, I'm running out of excuses for being late home."

"Fine," Tess huffed. "I was offered a transfer to your division," she admitted.

"Tess, that's not a good idea," Dave replied. "We can't be seen together, it's bad enough people pass us in the corridor. Mind you, there was that young blonde last week sometime who was paying attention. She probably fancied me," he laughed. "Don't get jealous will you?"

"Huh, I can attract other men you know," Tess told him. "I thought you were understanding? Seems I was wrong about you if you want to go chasing after some young blonde. Hold on, did she have shoulder-length hair?"

"Ah, is that the one you were complaining about?" he teased her. "You think she fancies your husband."

"Don't remind me. He didn't even bother shaving over the weekend, now he's got the makings of a beard. Maybe that will put her off?" Tess hoped.

Rose had got home after dropping Alec off where he lived having put the address in the satnav.

"You know how to use that thing?" he noticed on the way there.

"Yeah, they come in handy," Rose laughed.

Alec had just stayed quiet until he was getting out of the car.

"Night then Tyler, sorry, I meant Rose. Don't take it personally if I forget to use your first name."

"I'll try not to. Night Sir," Rose had just replied.

Now, she was wondering about his change in appearance. He was obviously trying to grow a beard but why? Was he doing it to annoy Tess or put other women off? If he wasn't very careful, he was going to fail on the last one.

Chapter 5

When Tess had left to get Daisy, he wondered again how long it was going to take her. Why was he even putting up with these excuses she kept coming out with? Right, time to retaliate, he decided. Let her stare as he went back into the office after Tyler, no he had to remember to start calling her Rose.

Rose didn't get along with Tess when she seemed to get on with everyone else and Tess had gone out of her way to instantly dislike Rose. So on Monday, he would see how things went and if Rose wanted to go out more, since it was fairly quiet, he may consider following some of the leads she'd come up with.

Then he'd see how Tess reacted and if she blew up about it, he was going to either get her transferred out or have Dave Harris moved to the other station across town, see how Tess liked that. He had no proof yet that Tess was actually cheating on him, only the fact she had kept making up excuses to not get Daisy on time recently.

Rose had been left wondering how come her boss had just decided to keep using her first name. She had been hoping he would but it had happened all of a sudden. Maybe his wife had something to do with it, like he was doing it to annoy her. Well if he wanted to do that, she was willing to go along with it for a laugh with her friends, they would find it amusing.

She hadn't thought Alec Hardy had much of a sense of humour but maybe he did have after all? It would make things interesting she supposed. She decided over the weekend she was going to explore the area and maybe tempt her mother to join her but the next morning, she had a surprise call from her mother.

"Rose, how are you sweetheart?" Jackie wanted to know.

"Fine Mum. Is something wrong?" Rose wondered.

"Well, ya asked me to come and visit, remember?" Jackie reminded her. "Are ya sure there's room for me?"

Rose wondered what had come over her mother suddenly. Was it because she'd mentioned driving her boss around? Why would that bother her mother? Then she realised what it was.

"Mum, this ain't got nothing to do with me saying I don't get on with my boss's wife?" Rose had to be sure.

Jackie tried not to let on.

"Well, I was just worried ya weren't settling down," Jackie had to admit. "Why don't I come down for a few days?"

Rose had to agree, her mother might not offer again.

"Yeah, that would be great Mum. Anyway, how's the hairdressing? Has it picked up?"

"Not really, don't know what to do about it. I suppose if I had a car it'd help?" Jackie wondered.

"Why not try working in a salon?" Rose suggested.

"Ya know I'm not keen on that, well not around here," Jackie laughed.

It had been a difficult Sunday so far for Alec. He was already bored and Tess didn't want to go anywhere when he suggested something. How much more was he able to put up with? So he was sort of glad when Monday morning came around and Rose was waiting outside.

"Before we set off, I have an unusual request," Alec told her as he put the seatbelt on.

Rose was curious so she just waited for him to continue.

"You can say no," he added when she looked at him.

"Well it depends what it is," Rose replied cautiously.

"Don't look so worried," Alec told her. "I thought maybe when we get back to the office after being out, well there is no need to suddenly stop talking when we go inside?"

"Oh," was all Rose could say, as if they said much anyway. "So ya want Tess to notice?" she wondered.

"Ah, well yes," Alec admitted. "Is that too much to ask?"

"Suppose not?" Rose mused, setting off or they would be late, since he liked getting there early. "No, I don't mind, she hardly can complain about me, can she?"

"No, not to me," Alec tried to assure her.

"Hey, maybe when we get back I can bring you coffee?" Rose smiled.

"Mmm, don't get too far ahead," Alec smiled at the thought of annoying Tess even more.

"Well it doesn't help when ya keep calling me into your office – Sir," Rose laughed.

Alec knew she was going to be trouble, now he was giving her some leeway. So as agreed, Alec insisted on going into the garage with Rose, daring the traffic officer to say anything and secretly hoping Tess would be early for a change instead of stopping to gossip to other parents outside Daisy's school.

He knew Tess always did it on purpose but she had crossed the line last week when she'd been early and warned Rose, Tess had no right to do so. What had been her point? Had it been she really was trying to get him to refuse to work with the young officer?

As they went up in the lift, Alec was already stuck for something to say, which wasn't going to help him when they got in the office at the same time. Rose's friends had seen Rose disappear through the door as they had come through the front door.

"Did I just see Rose with Hardy?" Jo wanted to know as they passed reception.

"I always thought she dropped him outside," Kate replied.

"Seems we were wrong," Trish laughed. "I bet they're doing it to annoy Tess."

"Well that should be fun," Jo laughed as well.

So for the rest of the week, Alec would continue to call Rose into his office, seeing Tess was trying to ignore the fact and Rose had started taking him a drink when they'd been out, Rose sometimes laughing at something as they'd gone back in. On Friday lunchtime, her friends wanted to know what was going on.

"It's nothing, really," Rose had insisted. "Well he just wanted to annoy Tess a bit."

"That's nothing?" Trish laughed, trying not to look at Tess, who was sat on her own.

Tess was on her own because she'd sent a text to Dave saying she wanted to talk to him. He appeared in the doorway and ignoring Alec looking up from his meal, sat opposite Tess.

"This isn't a good idea Tess," Dave warned her. "What was so urgent then?"

"You've been ignoring me," Tess complained.

"I said to hold off," Dave corrected her. "My wife was getting suspicious, I wanted to throw her off."

"What was I supposed to do?" Tess asked him. "Wait for you to call me?"

Dave was about to get up.

"Meet me after work then," he told her, then he went off.

Tess didn't like being treated like that but Dave had her hooked and he knew it. She had wanted to talk to him but knew he had more than talking in mind. She should break it off before things went too far but she needed him on her side.

Rose had been watching as the others talked.

"Are you with us Rose?" Trish wanted to know.

"What? Oh, yeah. Seems like Tess has fallen out with that detective."

"They were probably arranging something," Jo disagreed. "Be careful what you get involved with Rose."

"Yeah, she's right," Kate agreed.

"Hardy's the one who suggested giving Tess a taste of her own medicine," Rose reminded them. "Besides, he's lightened up a lot this last week."

"That's true," Trish agreed with her. "Looks like going along with him's paid off Rose."

Rose hoped so, it had been hard to judge what he was really like, since he stayed quiet most of the time. There had been awkward silences when they hadn't been discussing the reason they'd been sent out by the chief. At the end of the day, Rose went to ask Alec if he wanted picking up outside as usual.

"No, I will come down with you," he told her as he took his specs off.

"Can I ask ya something?" Rose wanted to know. Alec nodded. "It's just, well before I started taking ya home, ya always stayed behind."

"Don't worry about it," Alec replied. "I only agreed to leaving early as I did not want to keep you working late."

"Oh. Well I wouldn't have minded waiting a while for ya, except now, my mum's comin' for a visit so I can't now," Rose told him.

"Right. Well if I have to stay behind for any reason, I will make other arrangements," Alec decided, getting up and putting his jacket on.

He picked up his phone, letting Rose go out first. He noticed Tess had already left but that was usual for her. Tess was waiting for Dave down in the garage. The traffic officer was watching as Dave joined her.

"Meet me where we went last time," Dave told her as he opened his car doors with the remote. "You do remember where it was?"

"Yes, I remember but I needed to talk to you," Tess reminded him.

"Come on Tess, what's to talk about?" he wanted to know.

"We used to talk at lunchtime," Tess replied. "What's the harm in that?"

"When people pass us in the corridor?" Dave laughed. "Geez Tess."

He got in his car and Tess stood back. She was about to get in her car when Rose came through the door, laughing. Alec was following her.

"So your mother did not want to come down here with you?" Alec had been asking her as they waited for the lift.

"Nah, she didn't want to leave but she's worried about me now," Rose had admitted.

"Why, new boyfriend maybe?" Alec had raised his eyebrows again, making Rose smile.

"No such luck," she had laughed as the lift arrived, with several people already in it.

They had stood side by side, Rose dying to laugh again but waited until they were getting out, followed by Alec and those behind them. Tess had waited for them to pass by to the car Rose was using, seeing if Alec had noticed she was still there. He had but didn't stop by her car to talk to her.

"Right," Tess thought to herself. "If he wants to just ignore me and laugh about something with Rose Tyler, let him."

Alec heard Tess start her car, then screeching the tyres, she went off in a hurry.

"Blimey, what's wrong with her?" Rose asked as she started the car.

"Take no notice," Alec advised her.

"Was she mad ya didn't stop to talk to her?" Rose wondered.

"Don't get involved Rose," he told her as she drove off.

"Excuse me saying but I think I already am," Rose spoke up, since they were outside working hours. "At my last station, everyone was friendly but since I got here, she's gone out of her way to dislike me, without giving me a chance. Sorry, Sir."

"You don't have to call me sir outside work," Alec replied. "There is no need to be sorry Rose, Tess was annoyed the chief stopped us from working together. It did not bother me but she took it badly. The chief was tired of all the complaints. Tess was always arguing when we returned."

"Was that why you wanted us to be talking when we got back from anywhere?" Rose wondered as she stopped at some lights.

Alec didn't reply at first. "Leave it Rose," he insisted, seeing she was glancing at him through the mirror.

He ran his fingers through his hair, Rose thinking he looked tired so she let it rest but it wasn't over as far as she was concerned. She couldn't leave it, her boss was having trouble at home and it affected the way he worked. One thing she had learned was he didn't seem to have that many friends at the station, he was always sitting on his own at lunchtime and even Tess sat elsewhere.

She didn't see anything wrong with him but if he preferred being alone, nothing could be done about it. As she dropped Alec outside his house, she noticed there was only one car in the driveway, as did Alec.

"Night then Sir," Rose told him as he got out.

"Yes, have a good weekend Rose," Alec replied. "Any plans?"

"Just getting ready for my mum's royal visit," Rose laughed. "Extra shopping to get, she'll probably just turn up with no warning."

"See you on Monday then," he told her as he closed the car door.

When Rose got home, she made a list of the extra things she'd need from the supermarket and then made sure the spare room was tidy. It was only a single room but it would be comfortable enough, she had been lucky she'd got an apartment with two bedrooms.

When Alec got inside, he expected Tess had gone to get Daisy early for a change but in the back of his mind, he couldn't help thinking otherwise. Did Rose and her friends already suspect something else? He'd seen them talking at lunch time and had noticed Rose looked miles away. They must have noticed he and Rose had been talking when they'd gone back in the office, even if Tess was trying to ignore them.

Why had Dave Harris stopped to talk to Tess, he wondered. Had they thought he'd not noticed? If he said anything to Tess about it, she would be in a bad mood all weekend. Harris was getting bold though, maybe he should warn the man about it? Would it do any good though?

Jackie had been packing to go spend a few days with Rose and had called her friend Howard from the market to say she'd be away, since he had suddenly started offering to deliver what she bought from his stall on a Saturday. She had wondered if anything was going to come of it but nothing so far.

Rose was a bit surprised when told her mother would be arriving the following afternoon.

"How long are ya staying?" Rose wanted to know.

"Well, that depends," Jackie was telling her. "I mean since you're at work all day? I hope that boss of yours won't keep ya working late?"

"No, he doesn't Mum and if he does work late, he said he'd make other arrangements to get home," Rose assured her.

Tess had followed Dave to the remote spot they met in before and he was already out of his car.

"We'll have to go in your car Tess," he told her as she was about to get out.

"You're kidding Dave," Tess protested.

"If my wife suspects anything, she'll kick me out," Dave insisted. "Haven't you got a blanket in the back?"

Tess huffed and went to the back, bringing out a Tartan cover they'd got on a visit to Scotland when Daisy had been younger, seeing Dave grinning as he held the back door open and taking the blanket from her, spread it on the seat. Then he indicated for her to get in first, looking around the deserted spot to make sure no-one would be likely to wander nearby, even though they had parked behind some bushes that hid their cars from the opposite riverbank. Tess had left her work bag on the front seat and heard her phone ringing, she knew it would be either Daisy or Alec, both would be wanting to know where she was.

"Leave it Tess," Dave insisted as he went to kiss her roughly, fumbling for the zip of his trousers while Tess was trying to get back up.

"Whoever it is will keep trying," she told him.

"Well let them," Dave replied as he unbuttoned her shirt.

Afterwards, while Tess was trying to compose herself, Dave was already sat up.

"We'll have to keep this to once a week Tess," he told her.

"Huh, is that all I'm worth?" Tess was annoyed.

"We can go for a quick drink after work a couple of times," he offered as he watched Tess fasten her shirt buttons. "Maybe a quick snog if we park behind the pub," he then laughed.

Tess dug his side with her elbow.

"Hey, want to play rough?" Dave laughed even louder. "You'd better hope my wife doesn't do an inspection."

"Is she still off you?" Tess replied sarcastically. "You think I don't know why you're having sex with me in the back of a car?"

"Stop complaining Tess," Dave told her, trying to push her down again and put his hand up her shirt.

That had been the first time they'd done it properly and he'd want it that way now, Tess knew.

She tried to resist but he was too fast as he went for the zip of her trousers again. He succeeded and rubbed the top of her underwear and was about to pull both down when her mobile rang again.

"If I don't answer and it's Alec, I'll have some explaining to do," Tess insisted.

"Tell him you're out at the pub with your friends," Dave replied as Tess tried to move his hand.

She couldn't get him to move his hand as he went to lie on her again and kissed her roughly, his other hand trying to pull both her garments down at the front. Tess stopped struggling and went to do the same to him. When they finally got out of the car after getting dressed again, Tess stared at the clock on the dashboard.

"I'll have to call Daisy, she might have called Alec to get her," Tess complained.

"Chill out Tess, I told you what to say. Does Alec know any of your friends?" he asked her.

"Well not really," Tess had to admit.

"There you go then. I'd better go, unless you want another repeat?" Dave grinned.

"Go then," Tess huffed.

"Anyone would think you and Alec don't have sex any more," he laughed as he got out.

Tess felt like throwing something at the jerk, if she'd had anything nearby to throw at him. He was a smug, egotistical, self-centred something beginning with 'B'. He had also pinpointed the problem she had with her husband and she had half a mind to try to put that right over the weekend but Alec would then wonder what she was up to. Not that he didn't already suspect something as she checked her phone and discovered it had been him trying to call her.

She got in the front seat and tried calling him back.

"Where have you been Tess?" Alec wanted to know.

"At the pub, my friends were going so I thought I'd join them," Tess replied, seeing she was still flushed as she looked in the mirror.

Now, she did need a drink before she faced him or Daisy.

"I've been trying to call you and so has Daisy," Alec tried to keep his temper. "Don't bother going for her, I've already been to collect her. You could have said something Tess."

"It was spur of the moment Alec," Tess tried to tell him. "I never heard my phone ringing."

Chapter 6

As Alec ended the call, he was having serious doubts Tess was telling him the truth. Had she really gone to the pub with her friends or had she gone with Dave Harris? He also doubted Tess would admit anything else once she got home.

He'd had a concerned call from Daisy to say Tess had failed to collect her so he'd had to go back out again. He'd not been happy about it and neither had Tess's mother.

"Really Alec, this is getting out of hand, being late to collect Daisy," he had been told as he'd knocked on the kitchen door and let himself in. "If Tess can't get here on time, she should call you and say so."

He couldn't have agreed more.

"Don't worry, I will make sure she gets here on time," Alec assured her, not wanting to say anything about Tess claiming she'd either been here or at her sister's house.

So when Tess had finally called him, he'd not been happy. How would she like it if he were to do the same by going to the pub after work, if that was where she'd really been. He didn't really have anyone to go with though and Rose had said her mother was going to be visiting her so even daring to ask her was out of the question. Why would she want to anyway?

Besides, Rose might take it the wrong way and refuse to work with him and Tess would want to know why. When Tess got home, he didn't say anything to her, she would give herself away eventually.

The next morning, Rose was rushing around preparing for her mother to visit. Jackie had rung to say she was setting off for the railway station, Mickey having offering to take her to save paying for a taxi.

"So is Rose staying there then?" Mickey had asked on the way.

He had been hoping Rose wouldn't like it and would come back.

"Yeah, she seems to like it," Jackie laughed. "She's even got the use of a car already, she has to drive her boss around though."

"What? All the time?" Mickey was getting worried.

"Just at work," Jackie saw the look on his face.

"I hope so," Mickey grumbled. "Did she mention me?" he then wanted to know as they neared the station.

"Don't think so," Jackie replied. "Sorry Micks. She may get homesick though, her new boss's wife doesn't like her and Rose has to work with her.

"Well at least he's married," Mickey mumbled.

"I'll tell her you asked about her," Jackie assured him.

Jackie wondered if Rose had even thought about poor Mickey, the way she went on about her new boss. She hoped Rose hadn't got infatuated with a married man. Rose set off to meet her mother, wondering how much luggage she'd have with her. Knowing her mother liked to make herself at home, she knew there would be plenty and poor Mickey would have been roped in to taking her to catch the train.

Rose waited on the platform and the train from London was announced so she stood back to let people off and so she could spot her mother. Jackie only had two cases with her, since she hadn't decided how long she would be staying. She had been thinking about what Rose had said but she didn't want to work in a salon in London so maybe she'd see what was on offer while on her visit.

"Mum," Rose shouted and waved as Jackie stood in the doorway and she made her way there.

"Rose! Help me with my cases sweetheart," Jackie laughed as she picked one up and Rose took it, wondering how much was in there since it was heavy.

Jackie stepped down and attempted to pick up the other one while struggling with a big shoulder bag so a man also waiting to get off handed it to her.

"Oh thanks," Jackie blushed as he put it on the platform.

"Any time dear lady," the man smiled as Jackie blushed some more.

"What a charming bloke," Jackie stared after him.

Rose began to wonder if her mother had given up on the blokes around the estate and wanted to try her luck here.

"Mum," Rose laughed. "Well give me a hug then."

After calling at the supermarket again to get her mother a few things, they arrived at Rose's apartment and Rose hoped her mother wouldn't complain about the size of the bedroom or else she'd have to give up the larger one.

"It's fine sweetheart," Jackie told her when Rose opened the door. "I don't expect ya to give up your room."

Rose did wonder if her mother would change her mind, depending on how long she was here.

"Well, I half expected it," Rose laughed. "I was thinking of maybe treating ya to Sunday lunch tomorrow, to say welcome."

"Ya don't have to do that sweetheart," her mother assured her.

"Well, I get half the rent paid and I got a pay rise so yeah, I want to treat ya," Rose replied.

Jackie finally agreed and went to unpack, Rose wondering how she'd get all her things in the wardrobe. Knowing her mother, she'd need one the size of Narnia or one bigger on the inside.

"Rose, are ya sure someone else is okay to stay with ya?" Jackie called after Rose.

"It's fine Mum, there wouldn't have been two bedrooms if not. I did mention it when I asked about renting somewhere anyway. Why, are ya thinking about staying?" Rose wanted to know.

"Well, I don't know yet do I?" her mother laughed. "Depends if all the blokes are like the one who help me with my case."

They both laughed and Rose went off to make drinks and a sandwich for her mother, since Jackie had complained she couldn't get anything on the train and Mickey had cut it fine getting to the station. It hadn't given her enough time to call at the food stand in the forecourt.

"Micks asked about ya," Jackie told her when Rose went back with the tea and sandwich.

"Did he?" Rose mused. "I thought he would've moved on by now."

"Don't say that Rose, he was really down when he found out ya were moving away," Jackie reminded her. "He still hopes that ya go back to work in London sometimes."

"Well Mum, even if I do, I've got past that phase in my life, I'm older now. Did he expect me to stay with him after what happened?" Rose replied.

"Well he thought ya were gonna be at that police college a lot longer," Jackie defended him.

"I told him how long I'd be there Mum," Rose disagreed. "Anyway, I grew up a hell of a lot while I was there and I never promised Mickey anything."

"I know ya never had much to do with him, after he started going out with someone else," Jackie admitted.

"Yeah, Trisha Delaney, of all people. He never even used to like her 'til she went on a diet," Rose complained. "He blamed it all on me going away Mum, was I supposed to stay on the estate doing a dead-end job?"

"I've worked in shops," Jackie reminded her.

"I never meant it like that Mum. I just wanted to do something better, to help people especially after all those weird goings-on," Rose smiled at the thought.

"We got an explanation from the authorities," Jackie replied.

"Seriously Mum," Rose burst out laughing. "Shop window dummies coming to life, in the basement of the store I worked it, then the place blew up? I was lucky to get out of there ya know?"

"Yeah, that was a bit weird I suppose," Jackie had to agree. "I know they blamed it all on students, they always do."

"Well forget about that and Mickey Smith," Rose went to give her mother another hug. "Well tell me the latest gossip then."

Jackie Tyler never missed an opportunity to bring Rose up to speed on what was going on in the Powell Estate. From who was going out with who, who was pregnant or getting engaged, Jackie knew it all.

Alec's day had been less agreeable than Rose's had been. Tess and Daisy had gone off into town and insisted on getting the shopping on her own so Alec had left them to it but not before Tess had started an argument for no reason at all.

"You know you never want to go the same places as I do Alec," Tess had reminded him. "Besides, Daisy wanted something so she can come with me. Really Alec, do we have to go shopping together all the time?"

"Fine," Alec replied, as he couldn't be bothered arguing with her.

"You seem to manage without me during the week," Tess added sarcastically. "I saw you and Rose Tyler laughing about something as you were leaving last night."

"Really? I'm surprised you had time to notice Tess, since you went off in a hurry," he retaliated.

"Well you walked right past me without saying anything," Tess huffed.

"Oh, so I was supposed to stop and say something to you? How was I to know you were going to be late home huh?" he wanted to know.

"You never asked," Tess replied. "You were too busy."

"I give up," Alec decided.

"That's just typical of you Alec," Tess told him as she walked off. "You're more bothered about her."

He wanted to say she was more bothered about Dave Harris but he had no actual proof. He could hardly ask Tess's mother or sister if she'd actually been staying to talk to them without questions being asked and it getting back to Tess. Then there would be even more arguments.

Maybe he should listen for any gossip going around the station? He could always ask Rose to listen out, he supposed, she might go along with it but she might also think she shouldn't be interfering.

The next day, Rose chose a nice pub to treat her mother to Sunday lunch but little did she know that Tess had decided to also visit the same one, telling Alec that she wanted to go out for Sunday lunch for a change.

"Do I have to go?" Daisy was wanting to know when told to change into something more appropriate for a pub restaurant than the torn jeans and band t-shirt she'd put on.

"Yes," Alec told her firmly. "You are not old enough to be left on your own and make a decent meal for yourself."

Daisy went off in a huff, Alec daring her to object again.

"Why do you always make me out to be the bad guy?" he asked Tess when Daisy had gone to her room. "You could have said something."

"Why? You were doing a good job," Tess replied as she checked herself in the mirror.

Tess had been hoping that Dave might have gone there as well, since it was near where he lived but if his wife was with him, she'd have to be careful.

Rose and her mother had arrived and shown to a table near the window,

"Blimey, this is posh," Jackie remarked as she looked around.

"Anywhere's posher than where you always go Mum," Rose laughed as she handed a menu over. "Pick anything ya like, my treat."

"Well okay, if ya sure?" Jackie wanted to check before she dared look at the prices. "I think I'll just have the Sunday lunch special though. Looks like they do the full works."

Rose ordered two when the waitress came over plus some drinks. Over at the other entrance, Alec was asking for a table for three and Daisy was complaining it was too fancy.

"Why did we have to come here Mum?" she complained.

"Blame your dad, he chose this place," Tess told her.

"Excuse me, you said you didn't want to go too far," Alec reminded her as they were seated.

"Oh please don't start arguing you two," Daisy told them.

"I'm just going to pop to the ladies room," Tess decided, getting up.

She really wanted to check if Dave was in the bar but what could she do even if he was? She felt like she was Daisy's age having a crush on someone. Jackie had also decided to pay a visit while they waited for their meals to arrive.

"I won't be long," Jackie told Rose cheerfully. "I saw the sign on the way in."

Rose smiled as her mother went off but as she looked around, she was sure she had seen Tess. What would she be doing there, she wondered. That meant she wasn't there alone and she prayed Tess wouldn't notice her but sitting by the window, she would be in full view when Tess returned.

Then she was horrified to think her mother would start talking in the ladies room and blurt out who she was with.

"These toilets are posh," Jackie remarked as Tess followed her in.

"I suppose so? I've not been here before, my husband chose the place," Tess replied, wondering why anyone would think the toilets were posh.

Jackie went to the basins once she was out, Tess just behind her.

"I'm here with my daughter, she moved to the town recently. Thought I'd pay her a visit," Jackie told the stranger, never occurring to her that this was the woman Rose had been complaining about. "She's treating me."

Tess quickly excused herself before getting into further conversation. Since she'd not actually heard what Rose had been saying to Alec on the Friday afternoon, she had no idea who she had just been talking to though she did recognise the accent but since she'd never said much to Rose, didn't associate them.

Alec was thinking Tess was taking her time, since he was waiting to order and Daisy was nibbling on the breadsticks looking bored. Why had he agreed to come out? Tess was clearly in one of her moods, which she always seemed to be these days. At least they no longer went to Tess's mother's for Sunday lunch, like they did when Daisy was younger.

Alec could see out into the car park from where he was sitting and was sure he recognised the car Rose had been using parked there. She had said her mother was going to be visiting so she might have been having lunch here. He was just looking around when Tess was hurrying to the table.

"Checking up where I was?" Tess asked him, Daisy rolling her eyes.

"Do I need to?" Alec replied, indicating for her to look at the menu.

"Just order the Sunday roast Alec," Tess waved the menu away. "Why were you waiting for me, you could have just ordered and saved time. Now we'll have to wait, it's getting busy."

Alec thought since the pub was out of the way, it would be popular with no other pubs around.

"Well Daisy wants something else," Alec told her.

"She would," Tess turned to Daisy. "Don't eat all those."

"Mum, they're put there to eat," Daisy complained as Tess moved the breadsticks away.

Alec just shook his head and thought they'd stay home next Sunday, even if it meant he had to do the cooking. Anything was better than both Daisy and Tess in a mood. He caught a passing waitress and taking off his specs placed their orders, Daisy being fussy about what she wanted.

"Daisy, it's not polite to pick and choose," Tess reminded her. "Tell her Alec."

Alec had been distracted by a blonde woman who seemed to have followed Tess back into the dining area but who was looking around then seeing someone waving.

"You never got lost," Rose laughed as her mother sat down.

"Bloomin' place is big and it's got busier," Jackie complained. "Have you ever seen such a big dining area?"

"Well it has got a bit busier but it's bound to Mum," Rose replied. "I'm not sure but I think I just saw Tess, ya know, my boss's wife just before you came back." Then she saw her mother's face. "Mum, ya never talked to her? Tell me you didn't."

"Well I didn't know who she was, did I?" Jackie defended herself.

"Well what did ya say?" Rose wanted to know so she could limit the damage the next day at work if Tess bothered to say anything.

"I might have said I thought the loo was posh," Jackie blushed.

"Ya never?" Rose couldn't believe her mother would tell such a thing to a stranger. "Mum. Well if she's here, so is my boss."

Rose looked around cautiously and prayed he wouldn't see her but Tess had probably thought she was there anyway, the woman was paranoid.

"I bet Rose Tyler's here," Tess said to no-one in particular as Daisy was looking at the dessert menu, since the breadsticks were out of her reach.

"Give it a rest Tess," Alec told her. "Why would she be?"

"Are you sure you just picked this pub at random?" Tess replied.

"Don't fight you two," Daisy reminded them. "Mum, why would someone dad works with be here?"

"Exactly," Alec agreed as their drinks arrived.

"I wouldn't be surprised and besides, I just met a woman with a London accent in the ladies room," Tess seemed pleased with herself at putting Alec on the spot.

"So, what of it?" Alec wanted to know, wishing he didn't have to drink the watered down lager but Tess would never agree to swap her drinks so she could drive them home.

"She sounded common," Tess continued. "She remarked about the ladies room being posh, of all things."

Daisy started to laugh but Alec scowled at her, not wanting the girl to encourage Tess any further.

"Can't you leave it Tess, not even while we are out?" Alec told her.

"Oh, you weren't looking for me coming back, were you Alec?" Tess accused him. "You were looking to see if she was here."

"Why were you so long in the ladies room then? Looking for Dave Harris were you?" Alec replied instead of falling into her trap.

"Mum, Dad?" Daisy looked at both of them. "What's going on?"

"Nothing is going on," Alec tried to assure her. "Is there Tess?"

"Well not on my part," Tess tried to deny.

"Nor mine, you have a very suspicious mind Tess," Alec told her. "I was looking for you coming back so we could order," he reminded her.

"If you say so Alec," Tess replied, not satisfied with his explanation.

Who was he kidding, she thought as she took a drink. Of course that was Rose Tyler's mother in the ladies room, anyone local wouldn't have called the ladies room posh. Besides, she was sure she heard her saying about her mother visiting while she and Alec had passed by on Friday night now she thought about it.

She bet anything Tyler had even told Alec where she was taking her mother today and Alec had chosen this pub on purpose. Well if he wanted to play that game, then so would she. She wasn't going to feel so guilty about Dave and she was going to ignore the pair of them from now on when they came back into the office. See how Alec liked that.

"So, that was Tess?" Jackie was asking Rose as they ate. "She seemed a right stuck-up cow."

Rose would have burst out laughing and agreed with her mother, if she'd not had a mouthful and could only nod in agreement. Yes, her mother had got it in one. She was feeling more and more sorry for her boss, who had to put up with Tess not only at work but at home. She wondered how long he'd be able to do that.

Chapter 7

After ordering dessert since her mother seemed to want the whole works, Rose asked for the check as her mother went off to the ladies room again. Rose got up to follow her and got her bank card out to pay at the desk, seeing Tess and who must be their daughter go in the direction her mother had gone.

There were a few people waiting to pay and Rose wished they'd hurry up as she could do with paying a visit to the ladies room herself. She thought she'd have to hang on until Tess was safely out of the pub, she didn't fancy coming face to face with her on a Sunday, it was bad enough during the week at work.

"Well, I'm surprised to see you here," a Scottish voice behind her almost spoke in her ear and a hand tapped her shoulder.

Rose turned around as she stepped forward towards the desk.

"Sir?" Rose wasn't that surprised, she was sure Tess had seen her drive into the car park and told Alec to do the same.

"It's Sunday, you can call me Alec," he almost laughed. "So, that was your mother Tess met in the ladies room then?"

"She told ya?" Rose was sure Tess had just followed her mother again on purpose. "Geez, what can I say?"

"Nothing, you know what Tess is like?" Alec reminded her. "I hope you warned your mother if they met again?"

"She knew without me telling her," Rose smiled while the man in front got to the desk.

"Tess didn't want to go far but she then said I'd chosen this place on purpose when she realised that was your mother she met. Sorry."

"It's not your fault," Rose told him, really wishing the man in front would hurry but not wanting to be rude to her boss.

"That makes a change," Alec replied, being used to getting blamed for everything in the eyes of Tess.

"Was that your daughter with her?" Rose asked him, thinking what a stupid question, who else would it have been?

"Ah, yes, that's Daisy," Alec admitted, seeing the man in front of Rose move away and nodded to Rose.

Rose realised and stepped forward, handing the piece of paper over and waiting to pay.

While he waited, Alec mused that it had been less boring a visit due to the fact Rose's mother had annoyed Tess without her knowing it at the time. He bet the woman was giving Tess a hard time even now. He saw Rose getting her receipt and then she hurried off in the direction of the ladies room and hoped she didn't come face to face with Tess.

Tess had been insufferable throughout lunch, more than she normally was he thought as he handed over the check to pay. Tess had kept to the low prices but Daisy had outdone herself this time, going for the most expensive dessert.

In the ladies room, Jackie had been surprised at Tess following her in, since there had been a sudden rush and they had to wait.

"Oh, is that your daughter?" Jackie asked innocently. "I'm here with mine, did I say? She's in the police, just got promoted."

She didn't want to come right out and say who her daughter was.

"That would be Rose Tyler then?" Tess replied, looking at herself in the mirror.

"Is that the new officer you go on about Mum?" Daisy wanted to know.

"Daisy," Tess warned the girl.

"That's a nice name," Jackie remarked, moving aside to let a woman to the basins and moving forward one space. "Fancy that, you having a daughter with the name of a flower and working with one. Wish they'd hurry up in there," she added so everyone could hear.

Tess tried to ignore the woman, fussing over Daisy.

"Mum," the girl objected when Tess went for her hair, as if to warn her not to embarrass her in front of everyone.

Jackie was glad she was next in line as someone else came out of a cubicle.

"Ya'd think they'd have more than three," Jackie remarked. "In a place like this. Bet blokes don't have to queue up," she then laughed, getting a smile out of Daisy, who found it amusing that her mother was trying to ignore the fact that the officer she complained about constantly was in the same pub, let alone meet her mother.

"Are you from London?" Daisy asked innocently.

"Yeah, I just came for a visit but I might stay," Jackie replied, seeing Tess's face.

Tess hoped the woman wasn't being serious as Jackie disappeared.

"What?" Daisy asked as Tess scowled at her.

"Don't encourage her," Tess whispered back.

That just made Daisy worse as the girl tried not to laugh.

Just then, Rose tried to squeeze into the room as someone moved away from the door.

"Just what I needed," Rose complained as she saw three or four women in front of her.

"Yes, you would think there would be more cubicles," the woman who had moved replied. "They don't think about the lunchtime patrons."

Tess was trying to ignore Rose but Daisy turned around and saw a blonde.

"Is that her?" she whispered to Tess.

"Leave it, don't turn around," Tess whispered her reply.

"Can I go first Mum?" Daisy then asked as another woman came out.

She didn't wait for a reply and dived in before Tess could stop her, who was glad someone else then came out and that Rose had not spoken to her. That left the woman who had talked to Rose as Jackie finally came out.

"Rose!" Jackie greeted her. "Have ya been waitin' long?"

"It's fine Mum, don't worry about it," Rose told her, hoping she'd get away before Tess came out. "Just wait in the doorway for me, unless ya want the car keys?"

"Blimey, no," Jackie laughed as she shook her hands to dry them as Rose moved so she could get to the hand dryer. "I'll probably set the alarm off."

"Yeah, knowing you," Rose laughed. "Typical there's no queue now."

"Well ya should have gone earlier," Jackie told her.

"I had to go pay Mum," Rose reminded her.

She thought it best not to say she had been talking to her boss while waiting. Jackie went off as Daisy came out and Rose dived in before Tess emerged. Daisy could only stare as Rose closed the cubicle door and locked it. Tess came out and told her to hurry up.

"Come on Daisy, stop playing with your hair," Tess warned her as Daisy had got her hairbrush out of the shoulder bag. "Your father will be getting tired of waiting."

"It wasn't my fault there was a queue Mum," Daisy replied, putting the brush away.

"If you had tied your hair back, you wouldn't have to brush it," Tess reminded her.

Rose could just about hear them as she was about to leave but it was too late to stay behind the door as she unlocked it without thinking. She prayed they would leave as she emerged but as Tess was turning to leave, she heard a door opening. Rose went to the wash basins and tried not to look at Tess, whom Daisy was trying to grab hold of to drag her out.

"Come on Mum," the girl urged her.

"Don't think I don't know," Tess said to Rose as Rose glanced through the mirror.

"Excuse me?" Rose replied, not wanting a confrontation.

"You know what I mean, you bringing your mother here," Tess replied, ignoring Daisy.

"Where I bring my mum has nothing to do with anyone," Rose told Tess bluntly. "You can't order me around outside work ya know?"

"Really," Tess huffed. "Don't deny it, you knew we were coming here today."

"No, I never," Rose defended herself. "How would I know that?"

"You told Alec your mother was visiting, I heard you talking as you passed me on Friday night. Alec ignored me because he was talking to you," Tess stood her ground as Daisy tried to move her again.

She stopped when the woman who had been in front of Rose finally came out of the cubicle.

"Sorry, can I get to the basins?" the woman looked at the two of them. "Trouble?" she then asked Rose.

"No, not on my part," Rose replied as she pushed the button for the dryer, hoping Tess would take the hint.

Daisy gave up and went out to find Alec, who was now talking to Jackie as she'd seen him watching the door to the ladies room.

"Are you Rose's boss?" she'd asked him as she'd gone out to wait for Rose.

"Ah, yes. You would be her mother? I hope you enjoy your visit Mrs Tyler."

"Oh, call me Jackie," she laughed. "I met your wife in there, I hope she's not caught poor Rose," Jackie told him. "I mean I bet Rose gets bossed around at work by her?"

"Rose works with me, not my wife," Alec replied. "She's a good officer, she's been taught well. Why what did Tess say?"

"Nothing about Rose, good thing as well," Jackie told him as Daisy joined them.

"This is my daughter, Daisy. Daisy, this is DC Tyler's mother," Alec introduced them.

"I saw her in there," Daisy nodded to the ladies room. "Dad, mum was starting an argument with Rose is it?"

"She what?" Alec wanted to know. "Tell me she's not."

"Something about choosing the same pub," Daisy admitted.

"I'd best go back in and rescue her," Jackie told them. "Hope they're not fighting."

Alec could only watch as Jackie went back towards the ladies room, as the other woman came out.

"Are you with that younger woman in there?" Jackie was asked. "I think she needs rescuing, that older woman's having a real go at her, she's blocking the door."

"She is, is she?" Jackie went all serious. "I'll see about that."

"Do you want me to get the manager, in case of any real trouble?" the woman asked, seeing Alec approaching.

"What is going on in there?" Alec wanted to know, Daisy holding onto him.

"Do something Dad," Daisy urged him. "You know what mum's like, especially lately."

"Are you that woman's husband?" he was asked. "I'd go get the manager or something if I were you."

"I'm with the police," Alec admitted, going for his ID. "Jackie, will you check on them for me?"

"Yes Sir," Jackie obeyed him without questioning him as he seemed to have taken over.

Jackie shook her head, wondering what had just come over her as she tried to push the door open, getting some resistance.

"Admit it Tyler," Tess was going on at Rose. "You told him you were coming here. He ignored me because he was arranging it with you."

"That's rubbish," Rose was arguing. "Why would I do that? I was bringing my mum out as a treat, I've not seen her since I moved here."

"Yes and when you got here, you got yourself partnered with my husband. The chief did it just to spite me," Tess argued back.

"I was told I was being partnered with him to get the experience I need so I can put in for my sergeant's exam, that's all. What's wrong with you? You've been against me since I got here. What have ya been sayin' about me anyway? I saw ya talking to someone in the corridor a while ago.

"I wasn't talking about you," Tess hissed back.

Now Rose knew the things her friends had been coming out with were true.

"Good, I hope ya don't. Excuse me, my mum's waitin' for me," Rose tried to get past Tess, who was rooted to the floor and determined to have it out with the young officer while she had caught her.

"You can deny it all you want, I know you're up to something," Tess accused her.

"I'm not up to anything," Rose insisted. "I never arranged anything, he was asking about my mum, maybe he never even saw ya as we passed your car? Did ya ask him about it?"

"He'll just deny everything," Tess replied as Rose tried to dodge her again and grab the door handle.

Rose saw someone was trying to push the door open but Tess never moved.

"I'll get proof, I'll be watching the two of you," Tess told Rose. "Don't think you'll get away with it."

Rose laughed. "Get away with what?" she asked. "Say it all ya want, it won't make it true."

"Won't it?" Tess was determined to have the last word as Jackie pushed even harder, making Tess move this time.

Alec had been about to knock on the door himself and call Tess to come out.

"Why are they in there arguing Dad?" Daisy wanted to know as she saw Jackie trying to get in the ladies room. "What's going on?"

"That's what I want to know," Jackie agreed. "Why is your wife having a go in there at my daughter?"

"I would like to know that myself," Alec told her as the door gave way and Jackie gave one final push. "Tess," he shouted through the gap.

"Mum," Daisy also called out.

Tess had turned around to leave but came face to face with an angry Jackie Tyler.

"Oi you, what ya arguing with Rose about?" Jackie wanted to know as Tess tried to get past.

"Leave it Mum," Rose insisted.

"Tess? What was all that about?" Alec asked Tess as she joined him.

"You know what it's about Alec," Tess pushed past him, leaving him baffled.

He shook his head and was about to turn around as Rose came out.

"Are you okay?" he asked her, seeing she looked a bit shaken.

"I'm fine, thanks. Come on Mum, let's go home," Rose replied.

"I'm sorry, I have no idea what all that was about," Alec apologised.

Rose wanted to say it was about him but he might take it the wrong way. She thought he must have some idea anyway.

"Well I want to know," Jackie told them as they stared at each other.

"Forget it Mum," Rose insisted. "See ya in the morning Sir."

Alec thought she was being cautious not calling him Alec outside work and given the circumstances. He was going to get answers from Tess when they got home. He followed Rose and her mother out, Daisy taking his arm.

"What's wrong with Mum?" Daisy was confused. "I've never seen her as bad as that. Is it all over Rose?"

"I don't know Daisy. Your mum has never liked her since she arrived and I have no idea why," Alec replied, seeing a furious Tess standing by the car.

Tess was furious because Rose had gone to the other side of the car park, she knew Alec had been able to see into it from where they were sitting. So he had planned it then, she thought as she saw him and Daisy approaching.

"So why did you park here?" Tess wanted to know as he unlocked the car doors with the remote. "Couldn't find her car?" she hissed as Daisy got in the back. "Thought she'd backed out of your little arrangement?"

He saw the smirk on her face.

"Stop it Tess, I am not arguing with you, I am surprised you would confront Rose like that, in a public place. What is wrong with you?"

"You really want to know?" Tess snapped back at him as he reversed the car to get out.

Of course, he just had to be behind Rose's car as she waited to exit.

"So, does she live near us then?" Tess continued as Rose happened to turn the same way they were going.

"How would I know where she lives?" Alec wanted to know.

"You probably accessed her file when she became your DC," Tess replied sarcastically.

Alec glanced in the mirror to see Daisy had put her headphones on and was messing with her phone, thankfully. At least she seemed to have taken his side in all this, Tess had really shown them up today, in fact he thought she had excelled herself.

"Give it a rest Tess," he told her as they turned off from where Rose was going.

"Not following her then?" Tess continued her sarcasm.

Alec was determined he wasn't going to take the bait. Now, he had to apologise properly to Rose and her mother for Tess's behaviour. She really had gone too far this time.

Jackie had been quiet until they were nearly back at Rose's apartment.

"Well, she was a real piece of work," Jackie laughed. "What did she say to ya?"

"I don't want to talk about it," Rose insisted.

"Don't give me that," her mother told her. "I can tell she upset ya, even ya boss was concerned for ya, which means he knew what it would be about. So come on, tell me."

Once back at the apartment, Jackie made some tea and insisted Rose told her what had been going on.

"Well how bloomin' stupid is that?" Jackie had to laugh when Rose had told her. "Is she paranoid everyone's after her husband? Mind you, he's a bit of a charmer if ya ask me."

"Mum!" Rose had to laugh.

"Well he is and a good looker if ya ask me. She's a bit insecure then?" Jackie wondered.

"Seems like only where I'm concerned," Rose admitted. "I get on really well with him and well, she was working with him but the chief said he was always getting complaints they were arguing all the time and split them up. I just arrived at the wrong time."

"Well maybe that's it then?" Jackie wondered. "What's got her all riled up today then?"

"I told ya, she thought we'd arranged to go to the same pub for lunch but we did no such thing," Rose admitted.

"Well ya did nothing wrong then," Jackie decided. "That's her problem."

"If only," Rose sighed as she drank the remains of her tea.

"He'll tell her to back off, won't he?" Jackie asked.

"He's tried Mum. Well if she thinks she's gonna get rid of me, she can think again," Rose replied. "I'm gonna finish my training whether she likes it or not."

"That's my Rose," her mother laughed.

When Tess and Alec got home, Daisy went straight to her room, knowing her parents would start arguing. She had been embarrassed when her mother had shown them up in the ladies room. Alec had gone into the lounge and put the TV on the find the news channel.

"Stop ignoring me Alec," Tess complained as she stood in the doorway. "Why did you ignore me on Friday night? I'll tell you why."

"Whatever you think Tess, it had nothing to do with Rose, so leave her out of it," he warned her. "I was only asking about her mother's visit. What did you want me to say to you?"

"I can think of a few things," Tess replied. "Like asking if I was going to pick Daisy up or if I was going out with friends."

"Such as Dave Harris?" Alec turned around to face her.

"I told you who I was with Alec," Tess denied it.

"You should have said you were not going to get Daisy," he reminded her.

"Would you have taken any notice Alec?" Tess scoffed. "You were too busy talking with her, remember?"

Alec ignored her remark and went back to watching the news. He had no doubts that Tess was covering up the fact she was meeting Dave Harris, that was why she was trying to make it out that he was spending time with Rose and why she'd started accusing him of following her to a pub.

So, that was her little game? Was she having an affair with Harris or was the man just stringing her along? It was a well known fact the man was a womaniser, Tess was just his latest victim, only she didn't know it yet. The man would string her along until he got tired of her and dumped her.

Chapter 8

Tess had been furious that Alec was denying he'd followed Rose Tyler until she had turned off the main road and that he'd denied he knew where she lived. Tyler had only been using her mother's visit as an excuse, no doubt they would 'bump' into her again if they went out again.

She went upstairs and knocked on Daisy's room door.

"What Mum?" the almost teenager asked. "Don't ask me to take sides," she added before she was asked.

"I wasn't going to," Tess denied. "What did your father say when you went to find him?"

Daisy thought if that wasn't being asked to take her mother's side, then nothing was.

"He was talking to Rose's mother," Daisy replied. "Can't you just leave it Mum? Dad said he didn't choose that pub on purpose."

"You're taking his side," Tess told her.

"Mum, I told you, I'm not taking sides," Daisy reminded her. "Can't we even go out now?"

With that, Daisy closed the door before Tess could say any more. Alec knew she'd gone upstairs to try to get Daisy on her side but doubted she would.

Rose had tried to put the whole thing behind her, the last thing she needed was Tess starting on her the following morning so she hoped her boss would keep his promise to handle it. The next morning, she set off to pick Alec up as he was getting ready to leave. Tess was trying to get Daisy to hurry up.

"Daisy, you'll be late," Tess shouted to her again. "Alec, get her to hurry up."

"Why ask me?" Alec wanted to know.

"She seems to take more notice of you these days," Tess replied.

Alec shook his head and picked up his phone and keys.

"Well you should be more firm with her," he told her. "When you get to the office, stay away from Rose."

"You're defensive of her all of a sudden Alec," Tess replied sarcastically. "What's with calling her Rose all the time?"

Alec didn't reply as his mobile rang and saw it was Rose.

"Morning Sir," Rose greeted him as he got in the car.

"Yes," he just replied at first. "I can't apologise enough for Tess yesterday."

"It's okay, really," Rose insisted, seeing Tess come out of the side door.

Tess was staring as she ushered Daisy into the car.

"Mum, what are you doing?" Daisy wanted to know as Tess watched Rose driving off.

"Nothing. You should have hurried like I told you to, I'll be cutting it fine getting to work now," Tess complained as she reversed the car.

"We're no later than usual Mum," Daisy pointed out as she looked at the clock. "Did you want to get to work before dad did?"

"Don't be cheeky," Tess replied, knowing Daisy was on to her.

"You did!" the girl laughed. "Why?"

Tess refused to answer but Daisy smiled all the way to school.

"Please be on time tonight Mum," she told Tess as she got out of the car.

Rose was relieved she'd beaten Tess to work as they got out of the car.

"Hey Rose," she heard a voice calling her.

It was her friend Kate getting out of a car.

"Like my new car? I got it on Saturday. No more catching the bus. I'm just off to see if I can get a proper parking space instead of in the unreserved spaces. I'd heard you sometimes have to fight for one," Kate laughed.

Alec had gone on ahead, leaving Rose to talk to her friend. He'd wanted to say more to her, how could he make up for Tess's behaviour the day before? He'd had a feeling Tess had wanted to make more of it before he'd left home but she had better not start once in the office.

"There was already a reserved space for this car," Rose told her friend.

"Yeah, lucky you, driving your boss's fancy car," Kate laughed. "Wait until I tell the girls about the car."

"Yeah, they'll be surprised," Rose agreed, seeing Alec disappear through the door to go for the lift. "Oh, watch out for the sergeant over there. I had to be rescued when I first started coming down here," she warned her friend.

Rose went off and had to wait for the lift, knowing Alec would already be in his office. What could she say to him? Something needed to be done about the hostility she was getting from Tess and she didn't want to have to make it an official complaint and get the chief involved. If things got worse though, she would have to seriously think about it.

She'd just have to trust that her boss could handle it like he'd promised. All she wanted was to do her training and then see what happened, whether she'd stay or go back to London or even somewhere else. That all depended what her mother wanted to do. She made some drinks and went to Alec's office.

"Sit down Rose," he told her as she put the mugs on his desk. "Look, if Tess gives you any trouble at all today, come and tell me, then I can reprimand her and trust me, her being my wife won't stop me. That's the best I can do, sorry. Outside of work, all I can do is try and keep her away from you in future."

"Ya mean if ya don't choose the same pub next Sunday?" Rose smiled as she took a drink.

"I am glad you have taken it so well," he had to admit.

"What else can I do?" Rose replied. "I had to explain it all to my mum and trust me, that wasn't easy."

"I am sorry Tess showed you up in front of her and that other woman," Alec told her.

"I tried to avoid her, really I did," Rose apologised.

"Don't go taking the blame, Tess was determined to make something of it," Alec admitted.

"She said that we'd arranged it all on Friday night, 'cos you walked past her and ignored her," Rose explained.

"Ah, that maybe explains it then?" he wondered, since he'd not been taking much notice when he confronted Tess the day before. "She mentioned something about it. I only got her side," he managed a smile.

He suddenly changed his expression when he saw Tess arrive at her desk. It was strange, he knew how long it took to get Daisy to school, so Tess had either been taking her time talking to other parents or to Dave Harris.

"I'd best get to work," Rose realised as she saw him looking into the outer office. "I'll try to stay away from her."

"Yes, that would be wise," he told her as she got up.

"She might think we're in here plotting something else," Rose laughed.

Alec thought she wasn't far wrong, knowing what Tess was like recently. Rose had decided she wasn't going to tell her friends what had happened the day before, in case she was overheard, especially by Tess. She didn't want it going around the station, since her friends knew more people than she did.

Now, she bet anything that seeing Tess with that other detective, she was trying to cover something up by putting the blame on her husband and using herself as a scapegoat. Yes, putting the blame elsewhere seemed like something the woman would try.

"Hey Rose," Trish called her over. "Trouble?" she nodded to Alec's office.

"No, no trouble," Rose assured her friend. "Just talking. He doesn't say much on the way in really," she used the excuse.

Well that was mostly true, Rose thought as she went to her desk. He usually waited until they were nearly at work before he said much. She had a feeling that was going to change though. Surely he wasn't going to take all that rubbish from Tess and if he wanted to do something about it, she would be glad to help him.

Alec was trying to catch up with what had gone on over the weekend, knowing Tess would find some excuse to ask why Rose was in his office but he wasn't going to take the bait. He had to think of a way to get back at her and he thought Rose would now be willing to help him.

Tess had just managed to catch Dave before he'd disappeared.

"What do you expect Tess?" he'd laughed when she told him what Alec had done the day before. "I've seen that blonde he's working with, she's not bad."

"Dave, I saw him arranging it on Friday night before I left," Tess was annoyed with him.

"Let him Tess, the more you go on at him, the more he'll do it," Dave had told her.

"Thanks for your sympathy," Tess huffed. "I can't just ignore it."

"That's exactly what you should do Tess. By the way, I can't meet you for the next few nights, my wife got suspicious again, I tried to tell her I was just out with some mates but she'll be clock watching. She made me take her out for lunch yesterday," he laughed.

"Well I never saw you at that pub you live near," Tess replied.

"She wanted to go somewhere else. Why, is that where you went?" Dave asked her. "You weren't looking for me?"

"Why would I do that? I told you, Alec arranged it with his little blonde DC, to meet her there. Bet he didn't know her mother was going to be with her," Tess almost laughed.

Dave had let out a laugh as someone passed them, Tess hitting his arm.

"So, what did you do about it?" Dave had asked, putting his hand on the wall and leaning over her.

"I confronted her, in the ladies room," Tess tried to be serious. "What else was I supposed to do? She denied it of course, well she would. Then Alec had a go at me."

"You're priceless Tess, you really are," Dave laughed.

With that, he'd walked off, still laughing as he'd pictured the two women having a cat fight in the ladies room. His money was on the blonde. So Tess had been annoyed at him for giving her the brush-off for the rest of the week.

Tess was in even worse a mood as she went off to her office. That meant she either had to collect Daisy on time or really get her friends to go for a drink after work. She didn't even know if they went out after work, she would have to casually mention it at lunchtime and if they weren't going out, it meant she'd have to be on time for Daisy.

Later that morning, Rose and Alec had to go out and Alec thought if he was going to enlist Rose's help, he'd best do it sooner rather than later. So before they drove back to the station he stopped her starting the car.

"Sir?" Rose wondered what was going on.

"We are not in the station," Alec reminded her. "I wanted to talk to you. Rose, if you have heard anything about Tess, anything at all such as your friends saying anything, you would tell me?"

"Yeah, I suppose so? I mean they do say things but I didn't want to get involved," Rose admitted. "Sorry."

"I can understand that," Alec replied. "You thought Tess would blame you for starting any rumours?"

"Well yeah, I didn't know what she'd do," Rose told him.

"It's fine Rose, really," Alec assured her. "Remember how I said not to stop talking when we go back into the office? Have your friends said anything about it?" he wondered.

"I told them we were just winding her up," Rose admitted. "Why?"

"So they believed you?" Alec wanted to be sure before he asked her anything else. Rose nodded. "Then can I suggest something more? You can say no."

"Well, depends what it is?" Rose was curious. "I suppose we could stretch it a bit?"

"Yes, that was the idea," Alec had to admit. "Nothing to start rumours ourselves," Alec further assured her. "You can tell your friends."

"I'd have to," Rose smiled at the thought. "They'd go along with it, they think it's amusing but Tess doesn't seem to think so."

"That's true," Alec agreed. "She was furious over yesterday, she even tried to get our daughter on her side. She failed however."

"Aw, I think your daughter's sweet," Rose told him. "She was even laughing at Tess picking an argument in the ladies. She asked if I was from London."

"Daisy came out to tell me Tess had started a fight," Alec smiled. "I was talking to your mother at the time and your mother wanted to know what it was about. She was trying to get back in the ladies room."

"Tess was stopping me from leaving," Rose admitted. "Good job my mum came in before I told Tess where to go. I'd already told her she couldn't boss me around outside work."

"I am glad to hear that," Alec agreed, thinking Rose could certainly hold her own against Tess.

"So, what did ya have in mind?" Rose then wanted to know.

"Ah," Alec had to stop and think, since Rose seemed agreeable.

"Ya mean ya'd not thought of anything?" Rose teased him.

"Well, I did not think it would be that easy actually," he admitted. "It is not something I have done before."

"I was just teasin' ya," Rose laughed. "Why don't ya just leave it to me? When I've told my friends though, we don't want them thinking it's serious."

"No," Alec agreed. "I thought it would be more difficult. I mean you going along with it."

"If ya ask me, Tess is determined to make something out of us working together," Rose told him.

"I already know that," Alec replied. "It would have happened no matter who I had to work closely with. Rose, you have to promise me you won't go too far with playing along? I don't want to have to explain it to the chief, or Daisy."

"Aw, you could let her in on it, if ya want?" Rose smiled.

"Best not for now," Alec told her. "So, what is involved? More plotting to meet outside work?" he asked cautiously, not knowing how far she intended taking things.

He supposed it was his own fault if he gave her free reign over it, it had been his idea. He'd agreed to go along with what she came up with but was that a mistake? He'd soon find out. At least she wouldn't start anything before she told her friends.

They set off back and as usual, Alec went into the garage with her.

"So that was one of your friends this morning?" Alec asked her as they got out of the car.

"Yeah, she was gonna ask about a parking space, I warned her about the sergeant," Rose smiled.

"Well I am glad I have not had to rescue you again," Alec smiled back.

Rose thought he looked so different when he smiled, which he seemed to be doing more of lately. They went up in the lift, Alec hoping she wouldn't start anything just yet. He didn't fancy being the subject of gossip himself without any warning. There again, maybe Rose would think it was amusing to do so.

Rose thought they could maybe make a bit of a start as they went back into the office.

"My mum's deciding if she wants to stay or not," she began telling Alec as he held the door for her. "I hope she does, I'd missed her already. I miss going to bingo with her and going to the pub."

Rose added that bit as they passed near to Tess, who had already looked up as they'd entered and were talking.

"I hope she decides then," Alec replied so Tess could hear him. "Then you will have someone to go out with, I mean when you're not with your friends," he added.

"Yeah, that would be good, I've not made many friends so far, except here. They really cheer me up, we always have a laugh at lunchtime," Rose told him as they neared her desk. "Want a coffee Sir?" she smiled at him, since Tess was still watching.

"Ah, yes," Alec was wondering where this was going, hoping he wasn't going to regret this when he got home.

He could only hope Rose wouldn't go too far in going along with his idea of getting back at Tess. Had he given her the wrong impression? He didn't want to take things too far or he really would have some explaining to do.

When it came to lunchtime, Rose's friends had already been wondering what was going on after seeing her and Alec returning earlier.

"Do you think they're trying to tell Tess something?" Trish suggested.

"Well either that or Hardy's gone soft," Kate laughed. "Mind you, it makes a change from him being miserable, especially when he used to come back in with Tess."

"Yeah, anything's better than that," Jo agreed as she waved Rose over. "Well come on Rose, what have you got to tell us?"

"Watcha mean?" Rose was confused as she sat down and put her tray on the table.

"When you and Hardy came back in," Trish reminded her. "You were talking and I bet Tess was dying to know."

"Just about my mum's visit, honestly," Rose tried to play it down. "He'd said there's no reason to stop talking when we get back."

"Thought you said he didn't talk much?" Kate reminded her from earlier.

"Only on the way here," Rose replied, thinking she had slipped up. "My mum's deciding if she wants to stay or not, it'll be a big step for her if she does, since I don't know how long I'll be here."

"Why, won't you be staying?" Jo wondered. "You've only just got here."

"Yeah Rose, not giving up already are you?" Kate looked concerned.

"What? No, didn't ya know? I came here to get further training to put in for the sergeant's exam," Rose explained.

All three looked at her.

"Oh. You never said," Trish spoke first. "That explains why you're partnered with Hardy then?"

"Thought it was strange with you being new that you were partnered with him," Kate told Rose. "No wonder Tess is upset then?"

"I think Tess is a bit more than upset," Trish laughed, seeing Tess come in and head for the table her friends were sat at but not until she'd stared at their table sufficiently. "She's trying to guess if we're talking about her or not."

"Let her," Jo replied, finishing her meal. "Just proves she's paranoid."

"Do you think she knows?" Trish asked Rose, who was pretending she'd not seen Tess.

"What?" Rose snapped out of it and went back to her food. "Well she might have been told but if she hasn't, that explains it."

"I suppose it does?" Kate agreed. "Maybe only Hardy and the chief know?"

"I didn't ask for it to be a secret," Rose insisted. "I'm sorry, I thought you knew?"

"Don't worry about it Rose," Trish assured her. "It was an easy mistake, wasn't it girls?"

Kate and Jo both nodded their agreement to Rose.

"Well, good for you then, you must have impressed someone?" Kate wondered.

"There weren't many opportunities where I came from," Rose told her friend.

"Can't blame you for that," Trish agreed. "At least it took Tess down a peg or two, I think she's annoyed her husband got a promotion and she didn't."

"Ya think?" Jo laughed, the rest of them joining in.

Tess looked over at them, seeing Rose laughing with them.

"The new DC seems to have settled in," one of Tess's friends remarked as she saw Tess looking at them.

"A little too well," Tess replied. "She's certainly wormed her way around Alec."

"Worried?" Tess was teased.

"Why should I be?" Tess tried to bluff.

"Then why do you complain about her all the time?" she was reminded.

"Well, she annoys me," Tess replied. "Coming in here and getting partnered with Alec right away. Any of the other DC's could have got that position."

"They wouldn't have bothered you as much?" another friend asked her.

Tess didn't answer. Would they have done or was it because Rose Tyler was young, blonde and attractive?

Chapter 9

Rose wasn't sure how well her friends had taken the reason why she'd come here to Sandbrook. She should have told them on her arrival but with things being tense with Tess, she'd not even been sure as to whether she'd stay or just give up and forget about a career in the police.

Alec though had been encouraging her, giving her advice when they were out and given her the responsibility of getting them around. He'd insisted he was going to drive when they'd been going out on her arrival but had soon given in when she'd said she was supposed to drive him around.

Now, she could see Tess talking with her friends and was surprised at how many seemed to be listening to what she had to say. Tess had been out of line confronting her the day before, it was none of the woman's business where she chose to take her mother out for lunch.

Kate snapped her out of her daydreams.

"Earth to Rose," Kate laughed. "Take no notice of her, we don't," she nodded towards where Tess was. "Anything you want to tell us?"

"Yeah Rose, what's bothering you?" Trish wanted to know, looking concerned.

"It's nothing," Rose insisted as they all looked at her. "Well there was one thing but ya have to promise not to tell anyone else."

"Would we?" Jo asked her.

Rose looked around to see if anyone else was watching, Tess already had it in her head she was being talked about.

Well that was Tess's problem, Rose thought.

"I took my mum out for lunch yesterday and I only picked the same pub as Tess had gone to, didn't I?" Rose admitted.

"You never!" Kate tried not to laugh. "Were they there when you arrived then?"

"No, they came in after we got seated," Rose replied. "The thing is, my mum talked to Tess in the ladies room, she didn't know who she was talking to and that was when I saw Tess as she went back to her table."

"How embarrassing," Jo told her. "What did you do?"

"Nothing, we'd already ordered and there was no way we were leaving anyway," Rose replied. "It got worse though."

"In what way?" Trish wanted to know. "Don't tell me Tess went over to your table?"

"Worse than that," Rose sighed. "She followed my mum back to the ladies room after we'd finished eating, while I was queuing to pay. Then DI Hardy was behind me and he knew Tess had met my mum already."

"Oh, this just gets better," Jo laughed. "Tell us what happened."

Rose wasn't sure she should go into finer details.

"Well, I went into the ladies room and Tess started talking to her daughter when the girl asked if I was the new officer, Tess had been talking to my mum again."

"That didn't take much working out," Trish remarked.

"Let her finish," Kate insisted, looking at Rose, who was wishing she'd never said anything.

"When my mum came out of the cubicle, Tess was just disappearing and I'd hoped to sneak out before Tess said anything to me but she was about to leave while I was trying to ignore her when she turned back. Her daughter tried to get her to leave but Tess took no notice," Rose told them.

"So she started on you?" Kate asked. "Did she want to know what you were doing there?"

"Not only that, she accused me of going there on purpose," Rose replied, not wanting to say what really happened.

She trusted her friends but wasn't sure just how far.

"Why would you?" Kate wanted to know. "Did she think you were there just so you could annoy her or something?"

"She must have done," Rose admitted, hoping she could get away with it.

"Poor you," Jo sympathised. "I hope you told her you had better things to do than guess where she was?"

"She reckoned I saw their car and decided to stop," Rose replied. "I just said we'd got there first and she couldn't boss me around when we weren't at work."

"That told her then," Trish laughed. "You did right Rose, outside of the station it's none of her business what you do. Isn't that right girls?" she asked the others.

"Too right," Jo agreed, trying not to look over to where Tess was. "Why doesn't her husband do something about her?"

"Forget it," Rose insisted. "She's mad that I got partnered with her husband, that's all. Well I'm not gonna give up, whether she likes it or not."

"Good for you Rose," Kate told her. "If you came here to get more experience, don't let the likes of her stop you."

"Yeah Rose, you go for it," Trish agreed. "I guess you stand a pretty good chance, being partnered with Hardy. Did you know why Tess got to work with him?"

Rose looked at her friends.

"I guess she stopped anyone else?" Rose smiled.

"Something like that. She complained to the chief if there was even a rumour he was going to split them up," Kate told her. "No-one dared apply to work with him."

"How long have you three been here?" Rose wanted to know.

"Just over a year," Jo replied. "We were in uniform and suddenly, the big bosses gave the chief extra money towards giving more training so we went for it."

"Wish they'd done that where I came from," Rose admitted. "Then I could have stayed in London."

"Aw, never mind Rose, Hardy will make sure you get the training. Hey, you could be bossing us about," Trish laughed, the other two joining in.

"Just look at her," Tess began to complain as her friends had changed the subject.

"Why don't you leave it Tess?" one of them wanted to know. "Just ignore them."

"Easy for you to say," Tess replied. "You're not the one who has a husband training her."

"Tess, that's all it is, just training," another insisted.

"I tell you, they're talking when they come back in the office," Tess reminded them.

"Long as they're only talking," Tess was teased, the others laughing. "You're just being paranoid Tess."

"Well thanks for your support," Tess then huffed.

"Oh come on Tess, why are you so worried?" she was asked. "Your husband doesn't seem the type to have his head turned by a young officer he's training."

"What? When the officer in question is young and blonde? "Really?" Tess replied, now getting really annoyed her friends weren't being that sympathetic.

Her friends shook their heads and started to get up from the table.

"Huh," Tess replied as they left, folding her arms and adding she wasn't going to take the advice.

Did Tyler really think she was going to get away with it? She was so annoyed that she didn't see Alec approaching the table.

"Tess," he roused her from her thoughts and sat opposite.

"What?" Tess replied, pulling a face at her cold coffee.

"Why are you watching the table where my new DC is?" he wanted to know out of curiosity.

"Why do you think Alec?" Tess replied. "She and her friends are talking about me again."

"Come on Tess, why would they be doing that?" Alec looked in Rose's direction and seeing her friends leaving.

"You'd know all about that Alec, since you colluded with her to spoil our Sunday lunch," Tess huffed.

"I did not collude anything Tess," Alec protested. "You suggested we went out as I remember."

"And if I hadn't, you would have done," Tess insisted. "You knew where to go when we set off."

Alec knew he was going to lose this argument so why was he even bothering?

"I give up Tess," Alec shook his head and was about to get up when he saw Rose was leaving.

Tess wasn't paying any attention now Rose's friends had left, she was intent on getting her point across to her husband. Instead, she got up, picking up her cold coffee and brushing past him went to get more. Alec went off, trying to catch up with Rose, who was waiting for the lift. The door had just opened and someone was getting out as he caught up with her.

"We're you by any chance talking to your friends about Tess?" he asked her as he pressed the button for their floor.

"Should I have been?" Rose replied, hoping he wouldn't tell her she was talking out of place.

"Look Rose, I know she is paranoid, especially after yesterday and she will continue so I understand if you want me to ask the chief to partner you with another senior officer," Alec told her as the lift door opened.

He gestured for her to go first and asked her to wait a moment.

"Look Rose, this started long before you came here so do not think it is just you."

"I know, my friends just told me," Rose replied. "They didn't know why I was here though, it's not a secret is it?"

"No," Alec seemed surprised. "Unless Tess did not pass it on before your arrival, she was told the reason."

"That explains it then," Rose tried to smile. "Geez, what have I ever done to her?"

"I am sorry Rose," Alec replied, not knowing what else to say. "She objected to anyone taking her place when we were partnered, the chief tried several times but no-one would come forward. It was only when he got your application that he decided enough was enough."

"So it started before she'd even met me?" Rose wondered.

"I am afraid so," Alec told her, leaning with his hand on the wall next to her.

Rose looked up at him, wishing he wasn't so tall.

"Just my luck then?" Rose tried to brush it off.

"What I said before, you seem to have made a good start," Alec smiled. "She seemed suitably annoyed judging by her reaction when I left her."

"I didn't know how far ya wanted to take it," Rose smiled back.

The lift bell sounded and Alec stood up straight. The last thing he wanted was for it to be either Tess in the lift or someone she knew who would say they'd caught him and Rose getting friendly in the lift area. He knew what it would look like, he wanted to get back at Tess but wasn't sure how far it should go.

It was someone else who worked on their floor who got out of the lift and Alec nodded to them before they went through the double door.

"Phew, thought that was Tess then," Rose grinned.

"Yes, so did I," Alec agreed. "As I was saying, Tess had already complained about being cut off from going on callouts with me so she had made up her mind to put anyone off working with me. Your transfer came out of the blue and again, I apologise no-one knew why you were here. I will do everything I can to help you reach a level where you can get your promotion."

"Thanks. My friends said no-one had put in for one because they thought Tess would hold them back," Rose admitted.

"They did, did they?" Alec seemed surprised. "Well I will talk to the chief about it, there are other detective inspectors who can train those who apply to become detective sergeants."

"That would be great, I feel really bad that I got sent here for that reason and they all missed out," Rose told him.

"Ah, don't say anything just yet," Alec advised her. "Although I do not see a problem. I have no idea what Tess gives them to do, probably chasing up leads."

"I could have stayed doing that back in London," Rose laughed as the lift bell rang again. "That really could be Tess or her friends this time."

That gave Alec an idea as Rose was about to move.

"Stay there," he suggested. "Let us see what happens eh?"

Rose was quite willing to give Tess something to really worry about.

Tess had been taking her time down in the staff canteen, since Dave had wandered in and was sat at the side of her.

"All alone?" Dave had grinned. "You should start smoking then you could go outside with your friends."

"Is that where you've been?" Tess replied. "Out smoking I mean."

"Something like that," Dave joked. "What's wrong now? New girl giving you grief again was she?"

"Don't even get me going on that Dave," Tess replied. "Alec just followed her out not five minutes ago, if they're not up to something then why?"

Dave let out a loud laugh, Tess nudging him.

"Oh come on Tess, stop getting so worried. You have him just where you want him, he wouldn't dare try anything."

"I'm glad you think so," Tess replied. "Did I tell you what happened yesterday?"

"Remind me if you must," Dave told her, not recalling Tess's latest list of grudges.

He didn't always listen anyway, he knew what the grudges were about, they were virtually the same and included her husband and his new partner.

As the lift door opened on the floor Rose and Alec were on, Alec leaned on the wall again but this time closer to Rose, who looked up in surprise. She was quick to catch on as she began to talk to him again.

"My mum thought it was really funny what happened yesterday while we were out," she laughed as Tess's friends all got out of the lift.

Alec thought he knew what she was up to so he went along with it, looking down and smiling at Rose.

"She did? I am glad she found it amusing, she seemed fairly annoyed while I was talking to her," Alec replied.

"Oh, she never said," Rose told him. "We just laughed about it on the way home."

"I know Tess was not happy about it," Alec admitted as the women walked through the double doors.

Rose burst out laughing, Alec joining in. It was the most he'd laughed in years and he was enjoying it.

"Oh, I can't wait to see Tess's face when they tell her," Rose spluttered.

"You and me both Rose," Alec agreed, still with a grin on his face. "You, Rose Tyler are going to be trouble."

"That's my middle name," Rose laughed as he reached over her head to push the doors open.

She ducked underneath, Alec still smiling.

"Do you know something Rose?" Alec stopped suddenly.

Rose turned back to face him.

"What? Ya think it'll make trouble with Tess when ya get home?" Rose was worried.

"She has been late home recently. She said she'd either been at her sister's or her mother's when she had collected Daisy," Alec told her. "Then suddenly she was late and called to say she had been out with her friends."

"Oh, sorry, I shouldn't have asked," Rose apologised as they stood by the window.

"No, it's fine," Alec assured her. "The thing is Rose, do I believe that or not?"

"It's not my business," Rose blushed the colour of her name.

"Rose, I am not blaming you for what Tess has become, it's her paranoia. She chose to be like that, even Daisy has noticed. Daisy told me she had tried to get Tess to back away from you yesterday."

He leaned on the windowsill next to Rose, folding his arms.

"She could've been with her friends, she sits with them all the time in the staff canteen," Rose told him.

"She should have said before she went with them, instead of leaving Daisy. I had to go and collect her after Tess finally decided to call me," Alec replied. "Are the rumours true about Dave Harris then?"

Rose didn't know what to say.

"I could ask my friends to listen out for anything else, if ya want?" Rose offered as she tried to move up a little but there wasn't much room anyway.

Did he want to know, Alec asked himself.

Chapter 10

Rose thought it was time they moved, before Tess really did get out of the lift and find them both leaning on the window ledge as she walked through the double doors. They caught each other as they both got up at the same time, Alec stopping to let Rose go first.

He thought if he wasn't really careful, Rose would get the wrong idea and she really would ask for someone else to train her.

"Sorry," he told her as she realised.

Rose just smiled as they went back to the office.

"Good job Tess didn't get out of the lift," she giggled.

"Yes, then there really would have been trouble," Alec agreed. "Although what her friends will say to her is anyone's guess."

"Geez, how did it get to this?" Rose wanted to know. "She could ruin everything for me."

"No, I will not let her, do not worry," Alec assured her as he opened the office door.

Rose was surprised her friends were already at their desks and Kate called her over.

"Where have you been Rose?" Kate asked her. "We looked in the canteen and you weren't there, nor in the ladies room."

"How did ya get here before me?" Rose tried to evade the question.

"We came up the other staircase," Trish replied. "Well?"

"Yeah Rose, you just came back in with Hardy again," Jo tried not to laugh.

"I decided to take my time, then I went in the ladies on this floor," Rose tried to bluff.

Why was she trying to cover things up, she wondered. Couldn't she talk to her boss now?

"We'll believe you," Kate grinned, going back to the pile of folders on her desk.

Rose was about to sit down when Alec waved her to his office.

"This just came in," he handed a piece of paper to her. "Want to follow it up?"

"On my own?" Rose was surprised as she read it.

Alec raised his eyebrows.

"I am going to see the chief, about what we discussed earlier," he then told her. "Get one of your friends to help you, if you wish?"

"What will Tess say?" Rose was worried.

Alec looked up to see Tess just sitting down at her desk. What had been taking her so long, he wondered. Tess didn't even go outside with her friends to have a cigarette so had she been with Dave Harris? The best thing was, he wasn't even worried.

While Rose and Alec had been talking, Dave had whispered to Tess, saying for her to give him a minute then follow him to the back of the building. He waited for her then trying not to get noticed, they slipped into an unused part of the parking garage.

"I only said I couldn't meet you after work Tess," Dave teased her, going for her shirt buttons.

"You have a nerve Dave," Tess replied.

"Come on Tess, you know you can't get what I can give you from Alec any more?" he reminded her, going for her cleavage as he undid another button.

He went for her trousers zip then his own and told her to keep her noise down as he lifted her up when he'd pulled her towards the corner of the wall. Tess clung hold of him and tried not to make a sound. It was all over too quick for Tess's liking, wondering how things had gone so wrong with Alec yet Dave wanted her.

She could hardly complain to Alec that Dave treated her better than he did although he must suspect something by now.

"You need to be less tense Tess," Dave told her as he watched her fasten her trouser zip.

Tess called him a name, making him grin. He'd been called worse than a selfish son of a before now, mainly by his wife. He left without her, laughing to himself and going to the glass fire doors of the canteen that had been left open, acting like nothing had happened. Tess went the long way round, walking through the garage and hoping she wouldn't be spotted.

She got back to the office, seeing Rose in Alec's office. It was no use, she had to admit she had the jealousy bug despite cheating on her husband, which she could no longer deny she wasn't actually cheating with Dave. She was less than happy seeing Rose smiling as she came out of Alec's office with a piece of paper in her hand.

So, Alec was even passing notes to his DC now, was he, Tess thought. What were they planning now? Then she knew why Dave had so easily convinced her Alec didn't care for her and to think of herself instead. The only question now was, did she admit it to Alec or not? No, let him find out for himself, she then thought, watching Rose go towards the desks where her friends were.

Tyler had obviously been telling the three women about meeting Alec at the pub restaurant the day before and they were all laughing at her expense. Alec had taken the blonde's side and was defending her, now the chief wouldn't listen to her complaints any more. Alec had got Chief Wilson on his side, she was already convinced of that so going to him about Alec getting friendly with his DC was out of the question.

Rose went over to her friends again, making them all look up as she waved the paper at them.

"So, who wants to help me with this?" Rose grinned at them.

"What are you talking about Rose?" Jo asked her.

"I just got this to do from the boss," Rose replied. "He said I could get someone to help me."

She handed the printed paper to Kate, who read it quickly.

"He gave you this?" Kate was surprised. "You should be so lucky."

"Aw come on," Trish spoke up. "What is it?"

"Hold on," Kate insisted, reading it with more attention. "Is he being serious?"

"Hey, don't knock it," Rose replied, trying to get the paper from her as Kate passed it to Jo over the desks.

Tess was watching them with interest. What was the blonde and her friends up to now? Plotting against herself probably or had Alec put Tyler up to it? She wouldn't be surprised if he had done. Right from the start Dave had warned her and told her she shouldn't feel guilty of what had happened and she had felt tense earlier, hoping no-one would catch them.

Maybe it was time to think about herself and what she needed, Alec would notice no difference and would probably start fooling around with the young blonde. Sometimes she cursed the chief for taking Tyler on. How exactly had a young DC from London been transferred here in the first place?

What was so special about Tyler, coming in and getting trained by a senior detective when such as Tyler's friends hadn't bothered seeking promotion? She was supposed to be in charge of everyone below the rank of detective sergeant and even some DS's still answered to her, Alec being overall in charge but she had a free reign most of the time.

If only she was in charge of Tyler but Alec had told her in no uncertain terms the blonde was off-limits. Rose's friends were now deciding who was going to take up her offer.

"Look, I know it's not fair askin' ya to decide who comes with me," Rose was telling them. "Things will get better, trust me."

"How can you be certain, with Tess in charge?" Trish wanted to know, finally handing the paper back to Rose. "She has us where she wants us."

"Yeah Rose, you have no idea what it's been like," Jo agreed, Kate nodding her agreement.

"Then go to the chief about it," Rose suggested, wishing Alec hadn't told her to get someone to help her now. "What's stoppin' ya?"

"Easy for you to say," Jo complained, sitting back on her chair.

"Look, I'm sorry things are like they are but you could all go see the chief, tell him the reason ya were held back. He can't ignore three of ya," Rose replied, feeling sorry for what they'd had to put up with. "Don't let Tess treat ya like that any more."

"Be careful Rose," Kate warned her. "Even you're not immune to her, she's in charge of everyone below her rank."

"Not me," Rose said with confidence. "You can all get from under her if ya try."

"Sorry Rose, it's not that easy," Trish told her. "You've got Hardy on your side, we haven't. You came from outside, you've not worked your way up here. Hell, we've not even seen any new DCs come in here since we arrived, they all got put in other divisions. No-one even wanted to come to this one."

Tess had seen they had been talking for too long and got up to put a stop to it.

"What's going on here?" Tess wanted to know. "Tyler, I suggest you get back to your own desk instead of keeping your friends talking. Leave it until break time."

She knew she couldn't order Tyler around or the blonde would go crying to Alec but she could tell the others.

"You three get back to work," Tess then ordered them.

"Excuse me Ma'am," Rose spoke up. "DI Hardy told me to get someone to help with some enquiries he wants making, regarding a case that just came up."

"Did he now?" Tess seemed annoyed. "Well he should have told you to come to me first then instead of you offering to let your friends help you. There are other DCs in this office."

By now, everyone had stopped working to see what was going on.

"I doubt he told you to ask around the whole office," Tess continued.

Rose wished her boss would hurry up and come back from seeing the chief. She had seen him come out of his office, stop by Tess's desk then go off.

Tess had looked up as Alec had stood in front of her desk.

"Going off on your own?" Tess had asked sarcastically.

"I am going to see the chief, there are going to be some changes around here," he had told her.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Tess had asked him.

"You will see," Alec had replied and had walked off.

Now, Alec was discussing things with the chief.

"So that's the reason?" Chief Wilson was asking Alec as he leaned forward in his chair. "So basically, everyone is scared Tess will object if they want to take the sergeant's exam?"

"Putting it that way, then yes," Alec agreed. "I just found out from DC Tyler, who herself is afraid the same will happen to her."

"What makes her think that Alec?" the chief wanted to know. "Tyler is your responsibility isn't she? Tess does know that?"

"Yes, she does but she has tried more than once, trust me," Alec replied. "Tess tries to get to her in other ways. Remember how she was when she thought everyone would come between her and me working as partners?"

"Only too well Alec," the chief recalled. "Don't let me go though that again."

"I am trying my best," Alec assured him. "I came here to ask you to consider giving anyone who wants to be put in for a promotion the assurance there are plenty of senior officers to train them. It should now be easier anyway, since I am already training someone. By the way, I am sure Tess thinks you gave me Rose Tyler to train just to spite her."

The chief had to smile at the thought. He wanted to know more so Alec briefly told him that Tess had cornered Rose more than once but left out the cat fight the day before.

"Tess does seem to go overboard at times," the chief agreed. "Are you saying Tess is going out of her way to get to your trainee?"

"Yes, she is," Alec replied. "Hell, it's even spilling over at home when Tyler collects me in the mornings. Tess is always having a go at me."

"I can't do anything about that Alec," the chief told him.

"I know but it is already getting out of hand. All I can do is warn Tess off, which I have already told her that DC Tyler is off limits to her. It still makes Rose nervous around Tess though."

The chief ignored Alec calling Rose by her first name. As far as he knew, Alec Hardy didn't do the first name thing so it was either a slip of the tongue or the DI was getting soft.

"I will consider your suggestion about training Alec, leave it with me," the chief told him instead of asking which one it was. "Deal with Tess causing problems as you see fit."

Alec felt like replying with maybe getting Tess transferred to another station would be preferable.

"Oh, before you leave Alec, do you know of any particular thing that has set Tess against your new DC? I know she has done it with others when I ordered the two of you to sort out your problems with working together but DC Tyler is new to the area."

"It was nothing I can think of," Alec replied. "It seems to me Tess had made her mind up to dislike Rose before she even arrived."

"Yes, probably with her being an outsider," the chief agreed.

There, Alec had called her Rose again, he was going soft.

"By the way, I gave her a job to do on her own, see how she gets on," Alec added as he got up.

"Yes, good thinking Alec," the chief agreed. "I think it's a good idea, her training officer back in London speaks very highly of her. Apparently she put herself through college rather late so she could join the police."

Alec nodded and left, thinking good for her. Was he going to stand by and let Tess ruin the young officer's chances?

Rose had gone back to her desk as Tess scowled at her. Now, she'd either have to get her boss involved or risk her friends turning against her for getting them into bother for talking. Plenty of others chatted as they worked so what was Tess's problem then? It wasn't like they'd not been talking about work. Now, she may have to prove she could deal with what Alec had given her to do on her own.

She turned her computer screen on and got to work, if she could do this on her own then it would prove she was capable. Alec came back into the office and saw Tess looking pleased with herself so she must have upset someone. He only hoped it wasn't Rose or her friends but Rose was working away on her own so he guessed Tess had put a stop to Rose seeking some help.

Tess got up and followed Alec into his office, slamming the glass door behind her after getting a text message.

"What are you thinking of Alec? Getting Tyler to enlist the help of her friends for something you gave her to do?" Tess asked angrily.

"Hold on Tess," Alec told her as he put his jacket on the back of his chair. "You had better not have confronted her over it?"

He saw the look on her face as Tess stood her ground. He sat down and began messing with the papers on his desk.

"She was stopping her friends from working so I put a stop to it," Tess replied. "What did you tell her Alec? To disrupt everything?"

"Tess, I said she could get someone to help her," Alec tried to tell her. "In future, no interfering Tess, understand?"

"Well if Tyler's that good, she can manage to do whatever it was on her own," Tess replied sarcastically.

"Oh, so when you were seeking a promotion, you never asked for my help?" Alec wanted to know.

"Well you didn't have to tell her to get one of her friends to help," Tess complained.

"While we are on the subject of promotions, if I find out you have been holding someone back, there will be consequences," he then warned her.

"You have no proof of that Alec," Tess replied confidently, knowing those including Rose's friends wouldn't dare say anything.

"Don't I?" Alec challenged her. "Be careful Tess."

"Well you would get your little blonde friend to spy on me for you," Tess hissed. "I just had an interesting text from a friend in the next office."

Alec knew it wouldn't take long for her to find out.

"About what exactly?" he tried to bluff.

"You know very well what Alec, you and Tyler talking by the door, don't play innocent," Tess almost laughed.

Just as Alec predicted, she was onto the fact he and Rose had been seen by someone.

"Well you were late back yourself," Alec reminded her. "What were you doing eh? Rose and I were just talking."

Tess laughed and got up, knowing he was hiding something and she meant to find out what it was. If she went on the offensive, turn it back at him, the less likely he was to suspect about herself and Dave.

That was all about to turn sour for her though, the sergeant in the parking garage had seen her walking past all the cars after he'd been to check out a car that had just been returned from being loaned out. The sergeant had thought it was strange since he knew where she parked her car and she was nowhere near it.

He was also sure he'd seen someone going around the corner of the building and if he were to take a guess, DS Hardy had possibly been meeting someone secretly. He was tired of being warned by her husband for getting too friendly with the female officers and it had been the last straw when the DI had come to the rescue of the latest young officer to arrive.

Maybe it was time to get his revenge?

Chapter 11

Most of the time, those in the office just made their own drinks on their afternoon break so Rose and her friends sat around the three desks, keeping their voices down.

"What was that all about with Tess earlier?" Jo wanted to know.

"Don't ask me," Trish laughed as she sat on the corner of Kate's desk.

"Well she was upset about something," Kate agreed. "Well when is she never upset these days?"

"I think that's my fault," Rose admitted. "Sorry I got ya all into bother with her."

"You have nothing to be sorry for," Jo assured her. "It's Tess's problem, not yours."

"Yeah Rose, you were only trying to do us a favour. If you still want our help?" Trish told her.

"Well yeah, I was told I could have some help but I'd best go see DI Hardy first, I'm not gonna give Tess the satisfaction of asking her who I can chose," Rose replied.

"Too right," Jo agreed. "Why should you? Tess thinks you're trying to undermine her authority but technically, her husband's in charge, he just lets her get on with it."

"Yeah but only 'cos she thinks he's getting too friendly with the female officers," Trish reminded them. "Can't say I blame him for wanting to avoid conflicts."

"Well they still argue," Rose told them. "Sorry, I can't tell ya much but from what I can tell, the chief split them up for arguing didn't he?"

She knew she had to be careful what she said, Alec had told her things in confidence and she didn't want to betray the trust he'd placed in her.

"Yeah, we know Rose," Kate told her. "Wonder where she disappeared to? She used to stay here for the afternoon break."

"She probably got tired of seeing us talking about her," Trish laughed. "Ladies room anyone?"

"Better be careful, Tess might be in there," Jo laughed as she got up.

Rose was dying to tell them what had happened the day before but then, she'd really have some explaining to do. To start with, why Tess was acting that way and did Tess have something to worry about? As far as she was concerned, the woman was paranoid long before her arrival. Hadn't Alec already told her that?

When it came to home time, Rose was waiting in Alec's office doorway for him. Tess had been watching as she gathered her own things. Tess had thought she would delay her departure a few minutes to see what went on after she usually left. If Alec thought he could ignore her and walk past like he had done the week before, he could think again.

She was going to get him to go down to the parking garage with her, not his little blonde DC and if he didn't, there was going to be trouble.

"Sorry Rose," Alec apologised as he got his jacket from the back of the chair. "Come in and close the door."

Rose looked around nervously, she knew Tess was delaying on purpose.

"What's wrong?" he wanted to know as Rose sat down. "I know there's something, you were working on your own. Do your friends not want to help you?"

"No, it's not that. While you were seeing the chief, well I went to ask them who volunteered but Tess came over and told me to go back to my desk, well more or less. She didn't want to know that you'd said I could get someone to help me."

"She did, did she?" Alec raised his eyebrows as he leaned on the desk. "What exactly did she say?"

"That there were other DCs in the office and I should have asked her first," Rose told him.

Why should she cover up for Tess, Rose wondered. Tess never did her any favours, she went out of her way to cause trouble.

"She what?" Alec replied. "Not when I say for you to ask one of your friends to help you don't. You work with me, not her."

With that, he got up and went to the door, seeing Tess going off. Should he call her back or not? He didn't want Rose getting caught up in what would surely turn into an argument and none of it would be Rose's fault.

"Sir, I don't want to cause any trouble," Rose insisted.

"Rose, forget it, it's not any of your fault," he assured her as she got up.

"Ya know she'll be waiting down in the garage?" Rose replied.

"Then let her," Alec told her as he let her go first. "Apparently, she got a message from one of her friends earlier," he then smiled.

"Crumbs, now we're in trouble," Rose laughed. "I've had trouble not tellin' my friends what happened yesterday. If I did tell them, I can't promise ya it won't go any further."

"Don't worry," Alec assured her as they went through the double doors and he pressed the button for the lift.

As predicted, Tess was delaying getting into her car down in the garage. She wished she could park next to the car Alec used, then he'd have no escape. She had just unlocked her car with the remote when the traffic sergeant saw her and was making his way towards her, Tess too busy watching for the doors opening and Alec first followed by Tyler.

"Hello there Tess," the sergeant grinned at her, making her turn around.

"You gave me a fright then," Tess complained, not wanting to miss her husband and have him sneak off through the parked cars to avoid her.

"Watching for your husband then?" the sergeant grinned at her.

"How did you guess?" Tess replied sarcastically.

The sergeant ignored the remark. She seemed in a bad mood anyway, so now was the perfect time to stir up trouble.

"How come you never leave together these day?" he asked her as she resumed her watch. "He always leaves with that young blonde officer."

He waited to see if she would take the bait.

"Don't talk to me about her," Tess complained. "The chief made her Alec's DC and now she thinks she has to drive him to and from home as well as for work purposes."

"Poor Tess," the sergeant tried not to laugh. "So it was her idea to bring him to work and take him home then?"

"Well I'm sure the chief didn't suggest it," Tess replied, jumping when the doors opened but it was someone else.

What was delaying them, Tess wondered. She knew Alec had called Tyler into his office on purpose so he didn't have to leave at the same time.

"I'm sure he didn't," the sergeant agreed. "So, your husband lets her then?"

"Not for much longer," Tess told him. "I'll soon put a stop to it. I mean I don't know what the neighbours think of it, us going in separate cars and him having a female driver. It took some explaining to our daughter."

"I can imagine," the sergeant replied. "I used to think it strange when you both came in your own cars sometimes. Was that Dave Harris I saw you talking to the other night?" he asked, not wanting to say he'd seen them both at lunchtime.

"What do you mean by that?" Tess wanted to know.

"Just that I noticed the other night, they walked past you and they were chatting away," the sergeant replied.

"Well he's not getting away with that tonight," Tess told him.

They both heard the doors opening and heard voices. The sergeant disappeared before he could be seen otherwise his fun would be spoiled by the DI.

"Tess will wonder where we got to," Rose was telling Alec as they waited for the lift.

"Do not worry about it," Alec told her as he pressed the button again, making Rose smile at his impatience.

"Fine for you to say," Rose muttered under her breath but Alec heard her and smiled back.

"Rose, you worry too much," he then told her. "I will deal with Tess. Tomorrow morning, find out which one of your friends is to help you, never mind what Tess tells you, you are acting on my orders. Oh and if you see Tess in the morning watching you when you pick me up, just ignore her. Maybe we will give her something to complain about?"

He gave a little smile as he raised his eyebrows just as the bell rang for the lift.

"About time," he complained as they stepped inside, three others already in the lift.

It was only a small lift and Rose had wondered how they managed but a lot of the people who worked there took the stairs if they were going out of the front entrance or the other staircase if they were parked outside around the back. There wasn't a lot of room so Rose had to stand quite close to Alec but he didn't seem to notice. Rose did though and wondered how he was ignoring the fact.

As they got out and opened the doors to the parking garage, Rose was about to ask him if he thought Tess would be waiting for them but she saw her as Alec held the doors open.

"Now to face the music," Rose said in a low voice as others behind her were talking, which is what Tess heard as she waited not so patiently.

Alec heard her though and agreed with her. Well it would be Tess that started it, not them he thought.

"Alec," Tess called as they approached, the other three going off in different directions.

"What Tess? Are you not setting off to get Daisy?" he wanted to know as he stopped, Rose almost bumping into him.

"I'll go to the car," Rose decided, not wanting to be caught up as it seemed Tess was looking for an argument.

She felt sorry for their daughter having to put up with them squabbling all the time. She bet it was Tess who always started first. Having met Daisy, Rose had found it easy to like the almost teenager. The girl had tried to get Tess to back down the day before and had been able to warn Alec and her mother as to what was going on in the ladies room.

"Not so fast Tyler," Tess stopped her.

"Excuse me, it's Rose," Rose turned around to tell her. "You can't keep me here, it's after working hours."

Alec folded his arms and saw the look on Rose's face. Good, she was standing up for herself, he thought and let her get on with it.

"Alec, are you coming home with me or with her?" Tess wanted to know.

"Rose is my driver and my partner," Alec reminded Tess. "It's part of her job to drive me around, including driving me to and from work."

"Not every night, surely?" Tess replied, still watching Rose didn't get away so easily.

"You have Daisy to collect, you are always late for her, try to be on time just this once," Alec told her. "I ended up having to get her on Friday evening, because you say you were out with your friends."

Rose was sure she shouldn't be hearing this.

"I was," Tess insisted, daring him to say anything else in front of his DC.

Alec knew she was baiting him so he looked at Rose.

"Go start the car," he suggested to her. "I will be a few minutes."

Tess wasn't going to let him get away with that. She waited until Rose walked off before saying anything else.

"Really Alec, why do you always take her side?" Tess wanted to know.

"Really Tess? When you question why she was asking for help with something I gave her to do? Why did you not listen to her explanation eh?"

"Oh, she would go crying to you Alec," Tess scoffed. "You're forgetting there's more than her friends in the division, aren't you?"

"She knows them and besides, I have learned her friends and others in the office have held back from asking to be considered for a promotion. I hope that has nothing to do with you?" Alec replied.

He knew it was, Rose had been told but he was waiting to see what Tess had to say about it.

"That's not my fault Alec, maybe they're not ready?' Tess replied.

"If I remember correctly Tess, you never gave any of them the chance to try, did you? You objected to anyone working with me since the time the chief no longer allowed us to work together. You do know that sergeants can also take on the training of anyone who applies to take an exam?"

"Thanks for that Alec, yes, I do know so why did the chief put Tyler with you then?" Tess argued.

"Oh, as opposed to putting her with you?" Alec replied. "I have not seen any of the DCs rise above their existing rank, I wonder why? I know other divisions do the necessary training and while we are on the subject, Rose is the only DC who has joined us recently."

"Just as I said Alec, you keep defending her. Have your way then, let her take one of her friends to help her but if I need them back, they come back," Tess told him.

Alec shook his head.

"Only if there is any real need to take whoever it is back Tess. Now, I am making Rose late home and her mother will be worried about her," Alec told her.

"Her mother's still in town then?" Tess almost laughed.

"I give up Tess. I do not know what your problem is with Rose or her mother but I suggest you get over it. I know you are doing your best to put Rose off so back away and stop trying to order her around when she is not working or do I have to go to the chief to say you're harassing her?" Alec warned her.

"You wouldn't Alec," Tess replied.

"Wouldn't I?" Alec challenged her.

He left her to think about it and went to where Rose was sat in the car.

"I'm causing trouble again," Rose told him as he got in and fastened the seatbelt.

"No, you are not, you were standing up for yourself," Alec assured her. "Don't let her treat you like that, either in work or out."

They set off but just before Rose turned into Alec's street, he told her to stop the car.

"I can walk from here," he offered.

"Why?" Rose wondered. "Will she have got home already?"

"She may have said something to the neighbours," Alec warned her. "I would not like you to be gossiped about Rose."

"Seriously?" Rose laughed. "What has she got to tell them then?"

"I do not know, honestly," Alec admitted. "I don't seem to know her anymore and before you go blaming yourself, it started before you got here."

"Maybe but I've made it worse, haven't I?" Rose replied.

"No, don't think that," Alec insisted.

This was his problem, not hers.

"Yeah but things might have got better for ya," Rose suggested.

Would they, Alec wondered. The way things were going, he doubted it.

"Well should I drive the rest of the way?" Rose wanted to know. "I mean I wouldn't want to spread any more gossip," she smiled.

How could she possibly make things any worse, Alec thought.

"If you insist," he agreed as she started the car again.

"I saw Tess standing there watching us drive off this morning," Rose admitted.

"I noticed, don't let it worry you Rose," he replied as they drove around the corner.

"See ya in the morning then?" Rose told him as they stopped outside his house.

"Yes but maybe be ready for a quick getaway?" Alec joked. "Seriously though, maybe I should just drive myself in future unless anything urgent comes up and I need to go somewhere?"

"If that's what ya want? You're the boss," Rose tried to sound serious.

Alec managed a smile as he got out of the car.

"Well maybe pick me up in the morning? We can't have Tess thinking she won too easily, can we?" he replied.

He waved as Rose prepared to drive off, Rose setting the satnav for home. When she got there, her mother was preparing their tea.

"Hello sweetheart, had a good day?" Jackie asked cheerfully.

She noticed the look on Rose's face as she sat at the kitchen table.

"Boss givin' ya a hard time?" Jackie asked her as Rose put her head in her hands. "He seemed quite a charmer yesterday," she then laughed.

"Tess thinks I'm after him," Rose looked up for a moment.

"Oh," was all her mother could say. "Ya'd best be careful Rose."

Rose already knew that and was sure she'd said something to her mother before but maybe not?

"Mum, I just work with him, nothing else," Rose replied. "It's her, she's crazy."

"Maybe so sweetheart but that makes her even more dangerous. She could ruin ya career if she wanted."

"He promised me he'd take care of it but he might not be able to," Rose admitted. "I feel awful about it, she even objects to me driving him home or picking him up. She was staring after us this morning and then tonight, she was waiting in the parking garage and wanted him to go home with her. He had to remind her she had to pick up their daughter."

"Well maybe she feels threatened?" Jackie mused.

"She feels threatened?" Rose looked up again. "She's been holding everyone up in the office from going for a promotion just 'cos she doesn't want anyone else working with him."

"Why would she do that?" Jackie wondered.

"Even he doesn't know that Mum," Rose replied. "What's for tea then Mum? Something smells nice."

"Well, I've been looking around the local shops and there's a nice bakery and a mini market. I got some nice cream cakes as well."

Trust her mother to evade the question, Rose smiled at the thought.

"What do I do Mum? Do I stick it out or do I move again?" Rose then asked her.

"Ya stick it out sweetheart, ya can't let her think she's won. I thought she seemed stuck-up when I first talked to her yesterday," Jackie admitted. "Her daughter seemed nice though, when I saw her the second time."

"Yeah, she does Mum," Rose agreed. "Did she tell ya Tess started on me?"

Tess had gone to get Daisy and on the way back, Daisy wanted to know what was going on.

"Why are you and dad falling out over Rose?" she asked Tess.

"Keep out of it Daisy," Tess warned the girl.

"How can I Mum?" Daisy replied. "Rose seemed really nice and her mum did as well. What have you got against her?"

"Really?" Tess asked her. "The chief stopped me working with your father and every time I objected to someone else working with me he told me to stop complaining. Then what does he do?"

"I guess he took Rose on?" Daisy guessed. "She's from London though, what's she doing here then?"

That was a very good question, Tess thought as they reached home and Alec's car was there. What had brought Rose Tyler to Sandbrook and more importantly, what had the chief been thinking when he partnered her with Alec?

Chapter 12

The following week, Alec had told Rose she was doing well and it wouldn't be long before she could study for her sergeant's exam. They had got used to each other and Alec had decided to let her drive him to and from work just to annoy Tess, who was getting more and more distant as Dave had convinced her Rose was having an affair with her husband.

Tess wasn't feeling as guilty meeting with Dave as Alec wasn't going to bed the same time as her anyway, then she would pretend to be asleep to avoid him. She knew he wouldn't bother waking her, not like he used to do anyway when she'd gone upstairs before him.

She had been further convinced Alec was messing around with his DC when the traffic sergeant had dropped hints how they were taking their time when they got back after a callout and had heard them laughing. Daisy had noticed and Alec had tried to explain to her it wasn't anything to do with Rose.

So on Saturday morning, Tess had gone off shopping on her own and Daisy wandered into the front room.

"Are you leaving mum?" the teenager asked him as he read the morning paper.

"What makes you think that?" he asked, looking over the top of the paper at her, his reading glasses propped on his nose.

"Mum's in a worse mood than ever when she picks me up after school," the girl complained.

"Is she still late or does she stop and talk to your gran?" Alec wanted to know.

"What does she tell you?" Daisy asked cautiously, not wanting to get into trouble for telling tales on her mother.

"Never mind what she tells me," Alec replied as he put the paper down and took off his glasses.

"Will I get into trouble from mum?" Daisy wanted to know.

"No, just tell me the truth Daisy. What does she say on the way home then? I can tell she doesn't stop for long," he told her.

"She stops every so often but the rest of the time she's late, then she's in a bad mood if I ask her why she was late," Daisy admitted.

"Is she now?" Alec raised his eyebrows. "I will talk to her about it. Does she mention Rose at all?"

Daisy tried not to look guilty.

"Sorry Dad, I should have said I suppose?" she replied.

"Never mind, your mother told you not to say anything, did she not?" Alec guessed.

Daisy just nodded.

"Please don't argue with mum over it," she pleaded with him.

"Daisy, just tell me what she said about Rose eh?" Alec replied. "If it makes you feel any better, just tell her to stop and change the subject."

"I'll try Dad," Daisy promised. "She just goes on complaining that Rose spends too much time with you and she waits in your office at home time. Then she sees the two of you laughing and she's convinced it's about her. Is it?" Daisy wanted to know.

"Of course not," Alec assured her. "She's just convinced herself it's about her. Rose and I are just talking about work or about how her mother didn't want to go home and she might be coming back to stay. Rose just jokes about how her mother can't decide."

"Her mother seemed nice," Daisy replied as she seemed to take his explanation. "Did you see the way she was determined to see what was going on the other Sunday? Mum still says you planned that on purpose," she laughed.

"It was just a coincidence," Alec insisted. "She was convinced that was what Rose and I were talking about on that Friday evening, She will get over it," Alec hoped. "Daisy, you have to understand that if she continues, it will get more difficult for us to get on? Something will have to be done about it, it won't be fair on you."

"I know Dad I get it," Daisy told him.

He could only hope she did get it.

"Whatever happens, it will not be anything you have said or done," he tried to assure her.

"I liked Rose but please tell me that mum's wrong about her, that you're not planning anything," Daisy replied.

"I am not planning anything," Alec told her as Daisy sat beside him.

He gave her a hug and she seemed satisfied. He wondered if Tess was going to try and turn her against him, he wouldn't put it past her just to get back at him.

Tess had gone into the town centre and was just having a coffee outside a café when she saw Dave walking past with his wife. He'd told her several times that his wife was getting suspicious so they'd had to settle for spending a short time together at lunchtime alongside meeting at the remote spot they'd found if they both got off work slightly earlier. He'd said that was all he could do unless she wanted to leave Alec, then he'd promised he see about leaving his wife.

Tess had doubts he would actually do it but there was only one way she would find out and that was to threaten to leave Alec if he didn't stop messing around with Rose Tyler. Could she actually do it? Would Daisy choose to stay with her or with Alec?

Dave had seen her but had chosen to ignore her or his wife would question him over it. He knew Tess would never leave Alec, not unless something drastic happened, such as her catching her husband with his DC. It wouldn't surprise him in the least if the DI was messing around with the blonde, she was about the most attractive female officer in the building but Tess had been an easy target.

So, Tess was already in a bad mood when she got home. Daisy had gone to see her friend so she took the chance to confront Alec yet again. She began after putting the shopping away and wanted to see if he'd planned on meeting with the blonde.

"Are we going out tomorrow?" she asked him when she went into the front room.

"Why? Did you not get anything for Sunday lunch?" Alec wanted to know.

"Don't evade the question Alec," she reminded him.

"I was not planning on it," he replied, thinking she was trying to catch him out.

He knew what she was trying to find out. Rose had brought her friends into their plan to give Tess something to worry about and it seemed to be working, since Tess thought they spent all lunchtime talking about her. He had noticed that Tess was missing some lunchtimes though.

"Oh. So you're not planning on 'bumping' into Rose Tyler then?" she asked sarcastically.

"What is wrong with you Tess?" he asked her.

"With me?" Tess laughed. "I've heard how you always take your time in the garage when you both come back in."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Alec wondered what she meant by it.

"You know very well Alec," Tess huffed. "Hasn't she got an excuse this week then?"

"Why do you have to drag Rose into everything?" he then wanted to know. "Get over it Tess, I know you are still mad over the chief stopping us working together and he was right to do so."

"Oh, so you did agree with him over that?" Tess replied. "No wonder he accepted someone new."

"Yes and you objected until Rose came along," Alec reminded her.

Tess sat opposite him.

"That's why he accepted her to join our team," she realised. "To get back at me for stopping everyone else in the office working with you."

Alec thought she already knew that.

"You stopped anyone who dared to ask," he replied. "Then others never bothered even asking. Some of those who wanted to go for a promotion have been held back because of you."

"Don't go blaming me Alec," Tess told him. "You could have insisted we still worked together, if you'd wanted. Oh, you didn't want to?" she saw the look on his face.

"Tess, it was not working," he told her. "We argued all the time when we were out and it carried over to the office and you know it."

"So now you're getting back at me by having Rose Tyler as your partner?" Tess replied. "So you deny you're messing around with her?"

"What? No, of course not, we only work together," Alec told her. "Stop trying to put her off working towards a promotion."

"She may have joined us to get a promotion Alec but why did the chief have to put her with you? Weren't there any more new officers? He could have chosen anyone in the office if he'd wanted to."

"He tried and you complained," Alec reminded her. "Tess, is all this to cover something up?" he then dared ask her. "You think by blaming Rose for stopping you and I working together, he will change his mind about it?"

"I already tried that Alec," Tess admitted. "Remember you told me I could choose any partner I wanted?"

"Yes and did you even bother?" Alec replied.

"I wanted to but I knew what you would say," Tess replied. "I thought I'd told you I choose Dave Harris?"

So, Rose and her friends were right then, Alec thought. He had hoped that Tess disappearing at lunchtime was just her talking somewhere with her friends, he never stopped long enough to find out lately. Rose was busy talking with her friends and laughing about something and she was about his only ally in the place these days.

He wondered what Tess had been telling her friends and if they had speculated about what he and Rose talked about outside of the office. They'd obviously put two and two together and got five when one of them had sent that text to Tess about he and Rose laughing and talking in the corridor.

"Dave Harris is in another division," Alec reminded her, thinking Tess was trying to get a reaction from him of some kind.

"Didn't you say he could get a transfer?" Tess asked.

"You could always get a transfer to his division," he reminded her.

No, that would be too easy and she wouldn't be able to annoy him as much at work, he thought.

"Anyone would think you don't want to see me at work Alec," Tess replied. "Oh, so that's it? You don't want me to see you with your little blonde DC?" she added.

"Stop it Tess," Alec warned her. "Rose has nothing to do with it and you know it. You know how the chief feels about us working together, moving to another division would be of more benefit. You do know that from Monday that applications for training are being accepted?"

He knew already that Tess was mad about that and she would lose control of some of those working in the same office.

"You're just trying to undermine me Alec," Tess replied.

"No Tess, I am trying to encourage those who want a promotion," Alec told her, shaking his head. "I expect there will be a number of applications."

Rose and her mother had been shopping, Jackie happy to find some new shops to look in.

"So do ya like it here Mum?" Rose asked as they stopped at a coffee shop.

"Yeah, it's nice here, not as crowded," her mother laughed. "So, what happens here? Nothing bad I hope?"

"I've not been here that long," Rose laughed back. "From what I've been reading in the reports though, not much by the look of it. Hope it stays like this. I can't believe I got a case of my own to work on."

"Yeah, that was lucky," Jackie agreed. "How are ya gettin' on with it?"

"Fine, my boss says I'm doing well with it. It should all be cleared up on Monday. Bet that puts Tess in a bad mood."

They both laughed at the thought.

"Wonder if they've been back to that pub so she can see if we're there again," Jackie joked.

"Wouldn't put it past her," Rose replied. "I'm not going back there, just in case. Hope we don't see her at the supermarket, that's all I need. She didn't like it when I started standing up for myself."

"Yeah, bet she didn't," Jackie agreed. "Good for you sweetheart. When ya pass the exam, you'll be the same rank as her."

"Well, I'll be told when I'm ready, I have a good teacher," Rose replied. "Not sure if I have what it takes to be a DI though. Tess obviously doesn't have it," Rose smiled at the though.

"That's some consolation," Jackie laughed.

"Come on Mum, let's get the supermarket over and done with."

"Well at least the prices are cheaper here," Jackie replied.

The following week, Rose got praised for solving the case she'd been given, insisting her friend Kate deserved just as much praise. On the Tuesday morning, when everyone had arrived, Alec called for their attention. Tess was watching Rose's reaction to Alec standing in front of everyone. There was something going on, Tess had convinced herself.

Dave had told her to watch how Rose looked at Alec from now on and she would be able to tell if her husband was cheating on her. That lunchtime, they sneaked into the garage again but Tess had stopped him before he went too far, as usual.

"Tess, relax why don't you?" Dave had told her. "Geez, you're as bad as my wife, she won't let me go any further either. I may as well stick with her."

"You're a selfish s.o.b," Tess replied, adjusting her clothing. "What do expect against a garage wall?"

"I'm the one leaning against the wall," he reminded her. "Think yourself lucky the traffic sergeant hasn't caught us yet."

"Don't talk to me about him," Tess told him. "He's telling me all kinds of things about Alec and his little girlfriend when they park the car."

Dave couldn't help but burst out laughing when they got outside.

"What did I tell you Tess?" he laughed even more. "How long are they out? More than just asking questions, I'll bet."

"Stop it Dave," Tess was about to slap him.

"You don't still want to have sex with him?" Dave sounded surprised.

"None of your business," Tess replied, walking off towards the canteen as someone came out.

She tried to make it look like that she had not just been having sex with Dave in the garage but someone would notice something odd about them always using that door at the back if they weren't more careful about going in separately.

Rose was miles away as Jo nudged her when she saw Tess appear.

"What's she looking around for?" Jo asked them all.

"Yeah, she's always disappearing," Kate agreed. "Wonder what she's up to?"

"Bet she is seeing Dave Harris then?" Trish wondered.

"I wouldn't be that surprised," Jo replied, seeing Rose wasn't joining in. "What do you think Rose?"

"What?" Rose found her voice and snapped out of her stare. "Tess and Dave Harris? Probably. Mind you, if she is sneaking around with him, why is she always having a go at me?"

"What's she been saying to you Rose?" Kate asked her.

"She only tried to drag me into her grudges against DI Hardy on Friday night," Rose admitted.

"Again?" Trish asked her.

"Well I started just walking off if she's waiting," Rose told them. "I feel sorry for him. He keeps saying if she carries on, we'll give her something to complain about for real."

"Seriously?" Trish almost spluttered on her cup of coffee. "Didn't think he'd go that far."

"Hey, why not do it?" Jo nudged her again. "Just think how much fun we could have, just the four of us and Hardy?"

Alec had called in to get a sandwich and a drink and saw the four of them laughing. He hoped it was about Tess but as he was paying for the items, Tess spotted him.

"Not sitting with her then?" she nodded towards Rose, who had her back to them.

"Leave it Tess, I'm warning you," Alec replied, wanting to get back to his office but thinking why not stay just to annoy Tess.

Tess just huffed and went to rejoin her friends.

"Where have you been Tess?" one of them asked her.

"Never mind," Tess replied to try and not let on where she'd been.

Rose saw Alec get up again, the others not noticing.

"I'm off to the ladies room," she told the others.

"We'll be along," Kate replied as the others were checking their phones.

Tess saw Alec leaving, then Rose followed a few minutes later, thinking it was no coincidence.

"Ses you all later," Tess told her friends, meaning to find out what Alec and Rose were up to.

Rose caught up with Alec as he waited for the lift.

"Not staying with your friends?" he asked her.

"I don't have the need to check my phone like the others," Rose laughed as the lift bell rang and someone was just getting out.

The door closed just before Tess got to it, cursing to herself for not being faster or had Tyler closed the door on purpose? She wouldn't put it past her. She'd heard Rose getting praised by Alec for finishing off the case she'd been given, the two DCs had gone out earlier and returned to applause as everyone had heard two petty thieves had been booked and were to appear in court at a later date.

Rose had blushed the colour of her name but her friend had taken it all in her stride.

"You and your friend seem to make a good team," Alec broke the silence when they were in the lift.

"Yeah? Thanks. Those two clowns were idiots, it wasn't that hard to actually catch them," Rose insisted.

"Indeed," Alec agreed. "I thought you would be able to handle it, with a little help. See, you are already making a name for yourself," he smiled as they arrived at their floor.

"I think I saw Tess, just as the lift door was closing," Rose admitted as they got out.

"So you hurried to close it?" Alec raised his eyebrows.

"No!" Rose laughed as Alec opened the other door. "I wish I'd thought of that."

"I just bet you do," Alec replied as she stopped. "Don't let me stop you."

"Sorry but she asks for it, really she does," Rose told him as they carried on walking.

"I agree with you, she has changed a lot, for the worse," he admitted.

"Sorry," Rose tried to be serious.

"No matter. We had best move, she will be following us no doubt."

"Hasn't she got anything better to do?" Rose wondered.

"No, apparently," Alec replied.

"Well, I'm off to the ladies room, she'd better not decide to follow me, I'm just in the mood for her," Rose admitted.

"She will no doubt go to the office to see if we are sat talking," Alec told her.

"I never meant to get caught up in all this, honestly," Rose replied. "I'd best go."

They went their separate ways, both wondering why Rose had been somehow got caught up in it all, Tess being seemingly hell-bent on getting proof the two of them were having an affair.

Chapter 13

Tess was determined Rose and Alec would be heading for his office before everyone got back from lunch but just as she came out of the lift, being annoyed it had stopped on the way up, she saw the doors at the far end of the corridor closing. Should she follow and see if it was Tyler or go to Alec's office and find them together?

She supposed she could glance into the main office and see if Alec was on his own, then go confront Rose Tyler. She'd get the blonde officer one way or another but she knew the said officer would go crying to Alec. There had to be a way around this.

As she walked past their office, it suddenly dawned on her how to approach the matter of Alec cheating. Alec had accused her of stopping officers going for promotions so why wouldn't it work on Tyler? Threaten to hold the young officer back if she didn't stop messing around?

Heading for the ladies room, she had to quickly think of something. Rose was just washing her hands and was then going to comb her hair as the door opened. She jumped as she saw Tess through the mirror.

"I saw you leaving just after Alec did," Tess spoke first.

"So? What of it?" Rose replied, getting tired of Tess complaining about everything, big or small she did.

"You must have caught up with him then? I bet you closed the lift doors on purpose when you saw me?" Tess accused her.

Rose spluttered with laughter.

"You're kidding, right?" Rose managed to laugh back. "Geez, how was I to know you'd come running after me? You don't scare me Tess and yes, everyone else calls you that inside the station and during my lunchbreak, I'm off duty."

"Don't think you'll get away with it in the office," Tess huffed, wanting a showdown.

"Give it up Tess, there is nothing going on between me and Alec, get it into ya head," Rose replied, putting her comb away. "What is it with you? Are ya that insecure ya think every female officer in the station's after him?"

"Of course I don't," Tess denied it. "Only you, do I have something to worry about?"

"Don't make me laugh Tess," Rose turned to face her. "We just work together. I'm learning so much in doing so."

"I just bet you do," Tess laughed.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Rose wanted to know, thinking everyone would be coming in soon before returning to work.

"You know full well, don't pretend you don't," Tess replied, even more annoyed that the young DC was daring to call her by her first name. "And don't you dare call me Tess in the office."

"Ooh, now I'm scared," Rose laughed.

"You may think it's funny now but you have no idea what I can do," Tess told her.

"Such as?" Rose replied, inspecting her fingernails casually.

Then Rose pushed her hair on one side behind her ear, revealing her rather tame earrings she'd started to wear at work.

"Typical for someone from London," Tess pointed to them.

"Hey, I don't care who ya are," Rose retaliated. "We're equal until it's time to go back to work."

"Just remember that," Tess told her. "I don't know how Alec puts up with you. Oh, you don't act the same way with him do you?" Tess realised. "Even if you did, he'd not say anything, would he? You have him wrapped around your little finger."

"What?" Rose tried to be serious.

"No need to deny anything," Tess replied, hearing the sound of voices outside and knowing more female staff would be in shortly. "I'm warning you. Stay away from Alec when you're not working or I'll see you fail any tests you put in for to become a DS."

"You can't do that, it's nothing to do with you," Rose told Tess.

"You seem to forget that I'm in charge of the DCs and other staff in the office," Tess reminded her. "The fact you work with Alec is immaterial, it still comes down to me to give approval who is ready to be promoted."

Rose was about to say something when the door opened so she turned to leave before the room got crowded. What was Tess playing at, trying to intimidate her, Rose wondered as she saw her friends at the other end of the corridor. They waited for her to catch up.

"So that's where you got to?" Trish laughed. "Wondered why you suddenly left."

Rose tried to brush it off.

"Well, you three were busy with ya phones," she tried to laugh back.

"Yeah but we noticed the wicked witch of the west followed you," Jo tried to be serious.

"Don't worry, I saw her and closed the lift doors," Rose grinned, since Alec already thought she had actually done it.

"Don't blame ya," Kate agreed, seeing Tess emerge from the ladies room. "Don't tell me she was in the ladies room with you?"

"Please say you ignored her and didn't antagonise her?" Trish went serious.

"Would I antagonise her?" Rose asked, trying to look innocent.

"You did!" Jo laughed as they went into their office. "You can tell us all about it later and don't hold anything back."

"Would I do that?" Rose smiled as she went to her desk, seeing Alec look up when he heard voices.

When Rose hadn't come back from her visit to the ladies room, to him it meant one of two things. Either she was taking her time, which he knew all about how women liked to do that, what with combing their hair and fixing their makeup or Rose had been cornered by Tess again like the other Sunday. This time, Rose's mother wasn't there to rescue her, not that he thought Rose couldn't have handled that Sunday in the pub on her own.

He was getting worried that it bothered Rose she was getting caught up with Tess and her list of grudges. So he was relieved when Rose came back in with her friends, even though he wished she'd been quicker so Tess did indeed see them sitting talking. He was beginning to enjoy getting Tess all worked up at the slightest thing and he was sure Rose did close the lift doors on purpose earlier, even though she had denied it.

He waited a few minutes, then got up to call Rose into his office, just as Tess was returning. Tess was annoyed others had pushed in front of her as she watched Rose dodge them to get out and had to wait. Now, she was sure Rose would have used the time to get to Alec's office and tell him what she'd just been warned about. Alec would of course take the blonde's side.

"Everything okay?" Alec asked Rose as he motioned for her to sit after she'd closed the door.

"Yeah, Tess found me though," Rose bit her bottom lip. Alec wishing she'd stop doing that.

"I guessed she would have done when she did not follow me," Alec admitted, sitting back in his chair and Rose noticing his tie wasn't straight again.

When had he started to do that, Rose wondered.

"Did she give you any trouble?" he then wanted to know, trying not to say anything about her biting her bottom lip, since he shouldn't be looking.

"Sir, I can't come running to you every time she says something, can I?" Rose replied. "It was nothing, honestly."

"Then why don't I believe you it was nothing, knowing what she is like?" Alec told her.

"I told her she couldn't say anything since I was off duty," Rose tried to bluff. "She reckoned I'd closed the lift doors on purpose, that's all."

"I'm not so sure it was just that, was it?" Alec sat forward again, Rose wishing he wouldn't do that when his tie was like that and he'd just started unfastening his top button, like today.

Geez, Rose thought, trying to ignore it and to act normally.

"Just her usual, me working with you," she tried to get away with it.

"What else Rose, tell me," he insisted, leaning back in his chair again, Rose wishing he'd make his mind up which made him look more serious.

"I don't want to cause trouble between ya," Rose reminded him.

"I think we are a little past that," Alec told her. "Don't you? Look Rose, you can't cause any more trouble between Tess and I, she is determined to drag you into it all the time. The thing we have to worry about is how far she goes with it."

"I didn't come here to make trouble Alec, honestly. I came here because of the training I could get. You have no idea what it means to me, to get promoted to detective sergeant. I was always skipping school to mess around with my mates and ended up with a dead-end job."

"I read your file Rose, you have no need to explain," Alec insisted. "You have more than made up for it, just look where you are now."

"Yeah but I hadn't reckoned on coming up against a brick wall called Tess," Rose smiled.

"She cannot stop you going for promotion, not when I have the final say," Alec insisted. He saw the look on Rose's face. "What did she say about it? You may as well tell me."

"Yeah, then she'll go ballistic," Rose replied.

"We will see about that. Did she say she could block any chance of you getting promoted?" he asked her.

Rose just looked awkwardly at him and with that, he made her jump by getting up and yelling for Tess at the top of his voice, making everyone look up from what they were doing.

Tess was fuming when she heard Alec yell her name and everyone heard. She was also fuming that all eyes were on Alec, then her as she got up and Tyler was already in his office. The little blonde DC had told him what had gone on in the ladies room, had she?

She went in through the open office door, seeing Rose suddenly inspect her nails again and she slammed the door closed.

"Sit down Tess," he suggested, Rose trying to move her chair but there was nowhere for it to go.

Tess was the one to move her chair as she reluctantly sat down next to Rose.

"Really, did you have to do that?" Tess wanted to know. "What's she doing in here, aren't you sending her out?"

"Stop it Tess, you know why you are here," Alec told her.

"So she did come crying to you? That didn't take long," Tess replied sarcastically.

"Hey, I'm here ya know," Rose spoke up, getting a warning look from Alec as if to say he would deal with it.

"Yes, what exactly are you still here for?" Tess wanted to know, too busy looking at Rose to notice anything. "You told him about the conversation we just had then? I never thought you would have the nerve to."

"I insisted she told me what bothered her upon her return," Alec told Tess.

"Oh of course you would Alec," Tess almost laughed but she was too annoyed to laugh. "She easily gets sympathy out of you and you fall for it every time."

Rose was also getting annoyed with Tess but not more than Alec was.

"Stop it Tess, Rose did not have to say anything, I have a pretty good idea what was said by you. You tried to warn her against putting in for a promotion, just like you did with everyone else around here," Alec told her.

"Really, we shouldn't be discussing anything in front of a junior officer," Tess replied.

"If it involves Rose, then she stays," Alec insisted.

"You're supposed to be on my side Alec," Tess huffed.

"Not if you are holding officers back," Alec replied. "I have already warned you about that Tess and that includes Rose. Tell me exactly what she said to you Rose."

Rose wasn't so sure that was a good idea. Alec noticed she was reluctant to say anything in front of Tess.

"Whatever was said to you, just disregard it," Alec suggested. "Just tell me if you want to."

He knew it was beginning to get to her, despite the brave front she put on. Rose however came to the conclusion that if she didn't speak up, Tess may worm her way out of it and she had to do this for her friends, as well as herself.

"She warned me to stay away from you, outside of working hours," Rose told him reluctantly. "She can't do that, can she? Tell me who I can and can't talk to, I don't even report to her, do I?"

Tess was about to say something but Alec beat her to it.

"What do you have to say to that Tess? Do you deny you warned Rose? I already told you that it's part of her job to drive me to and from work," Alec reminded her.

"That may be so Alec but you're letting her get far too friendly about it," Tess replied.

"What?" Rose was getting tired of Tess going on at her. "Well excuse me for talkin' to him then," she turned to Tess, Alec seeing she was about to erupt.

"What do you have to talk to him about, outside work?" Tess wanted to know. "He's your superior officer, you don't have to be so friendly with him."

"Tess," Alec started to say but Rose got up suddenly, pushed past Tess and was out of the door before he could stop her, Rose not even closing the door.

Her friends had seen them all in Alec's office and were speculating what it was about.

"Geez, something's wrong," Jo had said to the others in a low voice.

"You're not kidding," Kate agreed. "Do you think it's something to do with Tess following Rose to the ladies room?"

"Has to be," Trish told them. "What happened in there?"

"We're about to find out," Jo replied as Rose came bursting out of the office.

Rose passed by the three of them, Alec calling her name after her.

"I'll go after her," Kate volunteered, loud enough so Alec could hear.

Alec just nodded and closed the office door.

"Really Alec, there's no need to go after her," Tess laughed.

"Get out of here Tess," Alec replied, looking even more annoyed than he already was.

"Well you called me in," Tess told him as she got up.

"Leave her alone Tess and no more threats or I will take it to the chief and I'll make sure you get transferred immediately. You wanted to work with Dave Harris, now you will get the chance."

"Don't talk to me like that," Tess turned back to face him. "Look what Tyler's doing to you, taking her side all the time over taking my side. When did you start wearing your tie like that anyway? I'll tell you when Alec, since she came here. I was right, you're trying to impress her," she goaded him.

"What?" Alec replied. "Since when did you take notice how I look Tess?" he raised his eyebrows. "Since Rose arrived eh?"

"Stop it Alec, can't you see what she's doing?" Tess asked him. "She's just like the rest of the hopefuls out there, always trying to get your attention. What was so special about her that the chief thought he was being clever by putting her with you, over picking someone from the office? I'll tell you what."

"Stop it Tess and get back to work," Alec insisted, picking up the desk phone to call the chief about her. "You won't have to worry about it much longer, will you?"

"You wouldn't dare get me transferred Alec," Tess laughed as he waited for her to leave. "You know very well the chief won't move me over her."

"Won't he?" Alec challenged her. "When he selected Rose to work with me when you insisted none of the others did? Why do you think he agreed to take her on? Why did no-one apply from another division? I will tell you why, they heard they were up against you."

"Huh," Tess huffed as she finally got up to leave and Alec's finger hovered on the dial of the phone.

"Leave Rose alone or I will have you in front of the chief for disobeying an order," Alec further warned her before she could protest further.

"Well, that proves one thing," Tess turned as she was about to leave. "You care more about her than you do me."

With that, she went off, leaving Alec to close the door. Who did he think he was talking to, Tess huffed further as she went to her desk, noticing one of Rose's friends was missing, probably gone after the little blonde. Well that proved it, Tess thought, Alec was having an affair with his DC, she didn't need any more proof.

Dave had been right, she was being made a fool out of by her husband and if she thought for one minute Dave would actually leave his wife, then she'd leave Alec and take Daisy with her, the teenager liking Rose was one thing but finding out her father was having an affair with her was another.

Kate had caught up with Rose, who was more mad than upset as Kate had entered the ladies room.

"What was all that about?' Kate asked her. "Come on Rose, it had to be something, the way you stormed out of Hardy's office."

"Her. What ya think?" Rose replied quietly, having yelled at herself in the mirror beforehand. "Sorry Kate, I don't wanna take it out on you or the other two."

"Don't worry about it Rose, we're your friends," Kate assured her, going to hug her.

"She makes me so mad Kate," Rose told her friend as they leaned against the sinks.

"She makes us all mad Rose, long before you arrived. How were you to know what she'd be like when you came here?" Kate tried to assure her. "What did she say to you?"

"She said I was gettin' too friendly with DI Hardy to start with," Rose admitted. "Earlier, in here, she warned me to stay away from him outside of work."

"Seriously?" Kate looked at her. "We shouldn't have encouraged you I suppose?"

"It's nothing to do with that," Rose tried to laugh. "He was just as bad, trust me. She wanted him to drive himself to and from work but he insisted I still did it, that got her even more madder at me," Rose admitted.

"You already told us," Kate reminded her. "What happened just now?"

"He threatened to have Tess moved to another division," Rose admitted. "He told me a while ago."

"Good, I hope he does," Kate laughed. "So why did you storm out of his office?"

"I told ya. She said we're gettin' too friendly," Rose looked away for a moment.

"Come on Rose, I promise I won't tell the others unless you want me to. Who else do you have to talk to around here?" Kate laughed.

"Promise?" Rose wanted to be sure. Kate nodded. "I think Tess might be right. I think we are gettin' a bit too friendly lately but I really want to go for that promotion and he's a really good teacher. I mean look at that case he gave me? He even encouraged me to get some help."

"Rose he didn't tell you to get help because he didn't think you could do it on your own," Kate told her. "He knew you could do it on your own, he just wanted to see how you worked with someone other than him."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right," Rose had to admit.

"Rose, he has every confidence in you, geez, we're all jealous you get to work with him, Tess put paid to that though. She has a lot to answer for, trust me. Now, we're all behind you because you helped us all to be able to apply for more training and you stick up for yourself," Kate told her further.

"Kate, it wasn't right you were all getting held back. Hardy had suspected that was the reason but he sorted that out, not me," Rose insisted. "What about what I just told ya though? What if I am startin' to get too friendly with him? What do I do about it?"

"Just be careful Rose, not just of Tess but your career," Kate warned her. "We don't want to fall out with you over it but if it gets out of hand, we'll try and stick by you, I promise."

Chapter 14

Alec was furious with Tess, what with her implying Rose shouldn't even be there and for making Rose storm off. He had to trust her friend could calm her down somewhat, he could hardly barge into the ladies room himself. For one, it would look odd and she may yell at him for doing so and tell him to get out.

Now, Tess may have done the damage she'd wanted to cause all along, that of Rose no longer wanting to work with him and she would have won. He hoped Rose wouldn't give Tess the satisfaction, she had been so strong about it up until now but it could be the final straw.

He saw Kate come back in and she waved to him and he nodded back, to hell with what Tess thought. If it wasn't for Daisy, he would leave and it may yet come to that but would it give Tess even more ammunition to fire at him? She could do more damage by implying he'd left her to spend more time with Rose and even turn Daisy against him.

He saw Rose come back in and go to her desk. It was crunch time, would she pack her things and walk out and ask to be put on leave until she could transfer back to London? He tried not to look like he was interested.

Rose was still mad at Tess but Kate had asked her not to give in.

"Come on Rose, are you coming back in with me?" she had asked.

"In a minute," Rose agreed. "I don't want Tess thinking she can walk all over me and that you dragged me back," she'd tried to joke.

"Yeah, wouldn't want that," Kate had laughed.

Kate had sat down at her desk and Jo leaned over to her.

"What's going on?" she asked Kate.

"Yeah, Rose looked like she was really mad," Trish agreed.

"She was," Kate admitted in a low voice. "Tess as usual, she'll tell you later, don't worry, I managed to calm her down."

"Good thing you did, we can't let Tess win, not anymore anyway," Trish told her. "We've had enough of that and won't have to put up with for much longer, thanks to Rose."

"Yeah, we should hear something soon, if Hardy kept his promise," Jo agreed.

"We still have Rose to thank for that," Kate replied as she noticed Tess looking at them. "I just invented a new nickname for Tess," she then whispered to Jo.

"Can't wait to hear it," Jo whispered back, then whispered to Trish, who had to stop herself from bursting out laughing when Kate scribbled on a bit of paper 'Wizard of Oz' and passed it to her.

Jo managed to pass it to Trish just as Tess got up and approached their desks.

"Any reason you've all stopped work?" Tess asked them with her arms folded. "Who gave you permission to go out after DC Tyler?" she then spoke to Kate.

"DI Hardy did," Kate turned to her. "Excuse me but since when did we need permission for going to the ladies room? DI Hardy nodded for me to follow Rose anyway."

"I never saw him," Tess replied. "I suggest you all get back to work."

Kate felt like saying well you wouldn't, would you but kept quiet.

Tess went back to her desk and the three of them had just about enough of the DS bossing them around.

"Huh, we should all go at the same time," Trish suggested.

After all, it had been Tess's fault Rose had stormed out in the first place, she then thought.

Alec saw what was going on but telling Tess to stop going after Rose's friends would be a waste of time. He knew what she was trying to do, by starting on Rose's friends, she hoped they'd get tired of it and blame poor Rose for it and they'd stay away from her. By losing her friends, Rose would then want to leave. Well he hoped Tess would fail and Rose's friends would stick by her.

At least Rose hadn't given Tess the satisfaction of coming back in with her friend, making it look like she'd been persuaded. He didn't really have anything much to do with running the office, Tess had taken charge even when she was still partnered with him but things had to change. Tess had stopped people applying for more training and that was about to end when the chief sorted it out so there would be less for Tess to boss around but until then, she seemed determined to make the most of it.

He turned his monitor off, grabbed his jacket and thought he would rescue poor Rose by making up an excuse to get her out.

"Rose," he called as he closed his office door. "We have somewhere to go."

Rose got her things and followed him, everyone watching her.

He knew that Tess would find some reason to complain when they got back but he'd deal with her later. They walked silently towards the lift and Alec pressed the button.

"Though you may need to get out," he told her as the lift arrived, thankfully with no-one already in it.

"Ya mean ya thought I needed rescuing?" Rose smiled as she pressed the button for the garage.

"If that is how you see it," he half smiled, glad to see she hadn't lost her sense of humour.

"I'm sorry but she really is a cow," Rose replied, leaning against the side of the lift as it descended.

"I already know," Alec told her. "It just took recent events to make me realise I already knew and I apologise, I should have seen it sooner."

"It's not your fault she's like that," Rose reminded him.

"Maybe not but I just let her get on with things in the office," he admitted.

"How did ya know she was gonna hold everyone back?" Rose wanted to know as they arrived in the basement.

"I'm the DI, I should have seen the signs," he replied as they got out of the lift.

He went to push the door to the garage open and allowed Rose to go first. It was then he realised Tess was getting information from the traffic sergeant, she had to be. He didn't say anything to Rose as they drove out of the garage, Rose then asking where they were going.

"Oh I don't know? What are you working on now?" he wanted to know.

"Back to cold cases," Rose smiled as she glanced at him through the mirror.

"I think we can find you something better than that," he replied, seeing her watching him and the road at the same time. "I bet I know where some of the provocation from Tess has been coming from."

"Really?" Rose sounded surprised as they stopped at some traffic lights. "Oh, ya think it's the traffic sergeant?"

"Don't you?" he asked as the lights changed.

"It makes sense," Rose agreed, wondering why he'd brought it up now. "Still doesn't tell me where we're going," she laughed.

"How would you like to do some spying on Tess?" he replied.

"Seriously?" Rose sounded surprised.

"See what detective skills you have learned," he teased her. "Why don't you pull in here?"

Rose indicated to pull into a roadside café parking area. Still confused, she sat for a moment when she'd driven into a parking space.

"What about gettin' you home?" Rose wondered.

"Don't worry about me," he told her.

"But she knows what car I drive," Rose reminded him.

"Then you need to learn surveillance techniques," Alec replied. "Are you getting out?"

Rose stopped staring in disbelief at him and took the seatbelt off.

"Have you never been shown how to follow someone from a distance? Besides, it may be too obvious if you follow her car. Why not start by following her to the garage and see who she talks to?" he suggested as he got out of the car. "She is always complaining about you waiting for me in my office, has she not?"

"Ah!" Rose giggled. "That I can do."

"Good. You can start tonight, we will make sure that we are back in time. You know I can't apologise enough for how Tess is treating you?"

"I know, it's not your fault," Rose replied. "She doesn't need any help anyway, she seems to do well on her own."

"Aye, she does," Alec had to agree. "She could have picked on anyone, it's not just you."

They found a table by the window and Alec said it was his treat so Rose ordered coffee and chocolate cake and Alec just the coffee.

"Sorry," Rose grinned as she saw the price of a slice of fancy cake.

"You can expect those prices," Alec let it go.

"Yeah, back home, ya could get a whole one for that price," Rose laughed.

"Even in London?" Alec wondered, raising his eyebrows, Rose still wishing he wouldn't do that.

She was beginning to think he did it on purpose, Alec thinking the same of Rose when she bit her bottom lip. He often wondered if she knew the effect it had but he shouldn't even be looking by rights. Rose knew he was delaying their return to have an effect on Tess.

When had he got to delaying going back, he wondered as they got back in the car.

"So, do we stay quiet when we get back?" Rose wanted to know as they set off again.

"That would give the game away, don't you think?" Alec replied. "Just act normally, now we know Tess will find out she made no difference."

"Yeah, I suppose so?" Rose agreed. "I'm sorry but I don't care what she thinks any more, my friends know about her and others will get tired of her, won't they?"

"I expect so," Alec replied as they headed back to the station. "Don't worry about it."

Tess had been even more furious that Alec had spoken to Rose then they'd gone out. Rose's friends however had smiled to themselves that Alec was on their friend's side.

"Tess looks like she's about to erupt," Trish whispered to Jo. "Don't know about you but I'm not putting my hand up to be excused to the ladies room. It's worse than being back at school or the academy."

"Even at the academy we were treated better," Jo replied.

When Rose didn't return, they went to make their drinks and sat talking at their desks.

"Don't really blame Rose for storming off earlier," Trish told them. "Wonder where she's got to?"

"Probably taking her time to get back at Tess," Kate smiled at the thought.

When Rose and Alec got back, Rose ignored Tess and went back to her desk, Alec already having reminded her about following Tess at home time.

"I can pretend I'm walking down with Kate," she had told him. "Then hide in the car so Tess doesn't see me."

"See, you already have the right idea," Alec had smiled on the way up in the lift. "You will be ready for stakeouts in no time."

"Hey hang on," Rose had laughed. "What about me and Kate following those two creeps we just arrested?"

Alec just let her out of the lift first, a smile on his face.

"That counted didn't it?" Rose asked as he held the door open.

"What do you think?" he replied dryly.

So, Rose still had a smile on her face as she entered the large office and knew her friends would be curious. She planned on following her friends out and give some excuse for doing so to them. She was very interested as to if she could catch Tess talking to the traffic sergeant. No wonder Tess had got worse than when she'd started there and that had been bad enough.

Maybe that Sunday in the pub had made her a bigger target though, she thought as she tried to get back to work.

When it came to home time, Tess was watching if Rose would go into Alec's office as usual and was surprised when she went to catch up with her friends.

"Hey, wait for me," Rose laughed as the three of them headed down the corridor, leaving a bemused Alec who thought Rose had the right idea.

"Hey Rose, not waiting behind tonight then?" Trish asked as she turned around.

"He said earlier to wait for him downstairs, he just had something to do," Rose replied, trying not to give the game away just yet.

"Yeah, where did you get to earlier?" Kate wanted to know as she pressed the lift button.

"Oh that?" Rose laughed. "He thought he'd get me out of the office before I started a cat fight with Tess."

"Never!" Jo laughed. "Oh, I'd have loved to have seen that."

"So would I," Jo agreed as the lift arrived. "Claws at fifty paces."

"Too right," Rose replied. "Trust me, I felt like it, she's a bloomin' liability."

"Be careful Rose," Kate warned her. "What did Hardy think of it?"

"Tell us tomorrow," Trish told her as they arrived at the ground floor.

"Yeah, I will," Rose agreed as Jo and Trish got out and she pushed the button for the basement.

"Come on Rose, you can tell me," Kate encouraged her.

They got out of the lift but didn't go through the other doors to the garage.

"He agrees she's got worse," Rose admitted.

"Well, that's something," Kate told her. "Why you though?"

"I don't know but it could have been anyone who actually became his partner. Trust me, I never asked for it, I just got told when I arrived," Rose replied. "Maybe because I'd just arrived, the chief thought DI Hardy was the best DI to train with?"

"Well he is I suppose?" Kate agreed, moving forward to open the double doors. "He probably thought since Tess knew the rest of us wanted to work with him, he'd sneak you in instead? You know everyone was envious of you when you first arrived?"

"Sorry, I never meant to step on anyone's toes," Rose told her.

"I told you, no-one blames you, we all knew we were up against Tess," Kate reminded her. "See you in the morning and we want all the details," she laughed.

"Kate," Rose called after her friend. "What do you mean by you were envious?"

"Seriously? Seeing how Tess treats you?" Kate wanted to know. "No-one wished that on you."

Kate went off and Rose decided she'd best wait in the car before either Tess came down or the traffic sergeant was on the prowl and it could be a while before Alec could rescue her again. She got in the car, tilted the seat back so she couldn't be seen easily and waited for Tess to arrive.

The traffic sergeant was sure he'd heard someone talking but glancing around, he only saw Kate getting into her car. He knew Rose now came down with Hardy every night, probably just to annoy him that he couldn't get the blonde on her own again, which was a shame. None of the other female officers were half as good as she was.

He bet that Hardy just wanted to keep her for himself. Still, it meant he could stir up trouble with his wife.

Rose thought Tess was delaying on purpose and had probably stormed into Alec's office to ask what was going on. She wasn't far wrong as Tess took the opportunity to find out just where Alec and Rose had been.

Chapter 15

As soon as Rose had left, Tess was up like a shot and marched into Alec's office just as he was closing down his laptop. He knew she meant trouble as she stood in front of his desk. He tried his best to just ignore her but failed as she began her long list of grudges.

"So, where did you get to earlier?" Tess wanted to know.

"Non of your business Tess," Alec replied, getting up to put his jacket on.

"Fine, I'll ask her then?" Tess challenged him.

"You leave Rose alone," Alec warned her as he then tried to straighten his tie, wondering why he was even doing it but it was a distraction from facing Tess.

He seemed to be doing that a lot lately, he mused.

"I know why you're defending her Alec, you can't fool me. You are having an affair with her," Tess told him.

"What?" he almost spluttered, making those who remained turn his way.

"So you're not denying it then?" Tess replied.

"Of course I'm denying it," Alec tried to recover from the direct accusation.

It was one thing to think Tess was trying to infer it but another to actually hear her saying it.

"Want to talk about affairs?" he then did recover.

"What are you on about Alec?" Tess wanted to know.

"What about you and Dave Harris then?" Alec replied.

"Seriously?" Tess almost laughed, wondering why she'd been found out.

Then she realised one too many people had seen her follow Dave back into the canteen through the always open fire exit. She bet anything that Tyler and her mates were trying to catch her out to get back at her.

"Oh, so your trying to cover it up and pin the blame on me?" Tess defended herself.

"Come on, you've been seen Tess," Alec tried to bluff to get her to admit it.

He knew Rose and her friends already suspected as much, what with Rose telling him about seeing Tess and Dave talking in the corridor when she'd first arrived.

"Oh, you want to talk about being seen then Alec? What about you and Rose disappearing from the canteen, then being seen near the lifts? I saw her myself going after you," Tess told him.

"Yes, fine, we were talking," Alec admitted it. "What of it? I was telling her she did good work on that case."

"Well I was told you were looking cosy for just praising her work," Tess replied.

"This is getting us nowhere Tess," Alec had decided he'd had enough and Rose was down in the garage, probably alone and the traffic sergeant would have noticed by now.

He'd had to rescue her before but he was sure Tess was delaying him on purpose, if she'd been talking to the sergeant. Was she laying a trap for Rose, in exchange for getting information from the man? If so, Rose could be in danger of being cornered with no-one to help if everyone had already left.

He got up suddenly, making Tess jump.

"I'm not finished yet," Tess protested.

"Oh yes you are," Alec replied, picking up his mobile and finding Rose's number as he squinted at the screen.

Why was the print so small, he asked himself as he found what he wanted. He started to leave, Tess still standing there shouting after him.

Rose was well aware people were getting in their cars and driving off as she lowered the back of the chair a bit more. The traffic sergeant would have noticed as well, now she was getting a bit worried. If Tess and been getting information from the man, she could have made some kind of deal and that's why she'd not come into the garage yet.

She heard a noise from around the other side and reached for her mobile as she cautiously looked around. She jumped as her phone rang and saw Alec's name.

"Hello?" she almost whispered. "Where are you?"

"Rose, be careful down there," Alec told her as he dashed towards the lift then pressed the down button repeatedly.

He'd been amused that it had made Rose smile every time he did it.

"Ya don't have to tell me that," Rose spoke a little louder. "Most cars have gone, can ya get a move on?" she asked him.

"I'm on my way, lock the car doors, now," he told her, pressing the lift button for the basement when it arrived. "Tess has been delaying me on purpose and if I am right, she made a deal with the traffic sergeant."

Why had he never bothered to find out the name of the man, he asked himself as the lift stopped at the ground floor and him silently cursing as an older woman got in and asked if he was going up.

"No, did the lift indicator not show in which direction it was going?" he snapped as he quickly pressed the basement button again as she tried to reach the second floor button.

"Well you don't have to be rude," the woman replied as she pressed the floor she wanted.

Alec assumed she must be one of the cleaners, didn't she know he had a reputation for being rude? Well maybe not quite as much since the arrival of Rose, he supposed as the lift descended again.

"Geez, I thought as much," Rose replied, pressing the door lock button and being grateful the car had one on the dashboard and waiting for him to reply. "Alec?" she panicked.

She heard another noise and the next thing she knew, the traffic sergeant was standing at the side of the car. She let out a short scream of surprise, panicking Alec and him wishing it was one of those express lifts as it slowly descended.

"Rose, what's happening?" he wanted to know, trying to stay calm but he was angry with Tess for delaying him and for her exchanging information to hand Rose to the sergeant on a plate.

The woman gave him a strange look as the lift arrived in the basement.

"Hurry up," Rose shouted into the phone, trying to ignore the man who was now tapping on the window.

Did he really think she was going to open the door, Rose wondered.

"I'll be there in a tick," Alec told her as the lift door opened and the woman just tutted.

"Well get a move on, he's already here," Rose told him.

She knew it would take him a few moments to reach where the car was parked. So much for trying to catch Tess out then, she thought as the sergeant peered through the window.

"No good hiding in there Rose," the sergeant told her through the tiny opening of the widow that Rose had forgotten about.

She panicked some more as she realised the gap in the window wouldn't be able to be closed, since the engine wasn't switched on.

"Go away, my boss will be here in a minute," Rose shouted back, trying to get the annoying sergeant to leave. "He'll kick your ass back to school crossing patrol if ya don't go away."

"Is that the best you can do?" the sergeant laughed at her as he leaned on the roof of the car.

Then all of a sudden, he tried to prise the window open as he put his fingers through the gap. Rose let out another scream as Alec weaved his way through the remaining cars, cursing Tess again for delaying him. He'd wanted Rose to watch what Tess was up to, to see if she talked to the sergeant and now, he was putting Rose in danger of being caught by the man.

Who knew how quick the man could be, he thought as he caught a glimpse of the car Rose was in and saw the man reach through the larger gap he'd managed to make. Rose was wishing she'd never lowered the back of the seat as she tried to move but the man had grabbed the neck of the sweater she was wearing.

"Hey, get away from the car," Alec shouted loudly as he was almost there, just seeing Rose being grabbed hold of.

The sergeant didn't stop as Rose called Alec's name.

"Go away Hardy," the sergeant shouted. "Why should you get to keep her for yourself?"

The man still held onto poor Rose, who couldn't get away but thankfully, the man hadn't managed to force the window all the way down – yet.

"What are you talking about man?" Alec shouted back, wishing other officers were still around.

Alec was almost at the front of the car, seeing the look on Rose's face as she was being held.

"Let her go – now," Alec demanded.

"Back off," the sergeant warned him as with one hand, he pulled his baton out of the holder and held it up in Alec's direction. "I mean it. Now leave."

"You won't get away with this," Alec told the man. "Just let go of her or things will be worse for you."

The sergeant just laughed, waving the baton at Alec while Rose tried to get out of his grasp but her sweater was still firmly being held. When she saw the weapon, she was just thankful the man hadn't tried to smash the window.

"Stay calm Rose," Alec told her as he held his hands up, looking for a chance to grab the baton and the man at the same time.

Where was everyone when he needed them, Alec wondered. Even Dave Harris would do at present. Rose managed to nod, staying quiet. She had been so glad to see and hear Alec, she could kiss him right now but that would just make things worse with Tess, she thought. Things were bad enough as it was without giving Tess more ammunition to fire at her.

"I mean it, back away," the sergeant reminded Alec as he tightened his grip on poor Rose, who wished now she'd never suggested trying to catch Tess out.

Now, it was backfiring on them, Tess had delayed Alec on purpose, Rose thought as she looked at Alec, who just nodded slightly.

Alec had a plan but how could he tell Rose to try to break free? If he could just get her to startle the other man long enough for him to grab the baton that was holding him off from rescuing Rose. Then with the element of surprise, he could force the baton onto the floor, grab the arm that was holding Rose and then handcuff him. Well that was down to Rose, if she could surprise the man in the first place.

She was looking at him and although Alec thought she was tough, he could see she was scared he'd back away and leave her at the sergeant's mercy. Surely she knew he'd never do that?

"Rose," Alec called to her. "Are you okay?"

"That's up to you Hardy," the sergeant told him. "Now back away, slowly."

Alec put his hands up again, wishing he could signal to Rose that he'd never leave her.

"You know you are finished here," Alec told the man. "Let her go and you will get off lightly."

The man just laughed, waving the baton at Alec again.

"What do I have to lose? I'll tell everyone about you and the blonde here, you're married, your wife already suspects the two of you are having an affair. Why should you care if I let this one go or not?"

"So, you have been talking to my wife?" Alec replied.

"Yes, I told her all about you and this one here, how you take your time getting out of the car. Look, what you get up to, I don't think it's fair you keep her to yourself," the sergeant told Alec.

"Hey, I'm not a possession ya know," Rose spoke up.

"Be quiet," the sergeant warned her.

"Bloomin' cheek," Rose replied as he pulled her up by the neck of her sweater.

Rose was looking for any sign from Alec that he was about to rescue her again. She'd had a narrow escape that time but now wasn't looking too good. She didn't want the man to attack Alec with his baton but she also wanted to get away. She thought maybe Alec had a plan but what was it?

Maybe if she distracted the man, Alec would be free to grab hold of him? She had learned a lot from Alec, the least she could do was help him with his rescue attempt. She looked at him again, screwing up her face, trying to tell him she knew what he'd planned.

Alec heard the doors opening in the distance but all the remaining cars were at the other end, no-one would even come down here, would they? He dare not turn around, in case the man fancied his chances. He didn't know it was Tess, who had waited for him coming back to his office after rushing out. She was even more annoyed he'd gone running after the blonde when he'd suddenly called her.

She thought she'd heard voices in the distance but didn't bother over it. Alec and his DC would be long gone by now, Alec had no idea what she'd told the sergeant, she thought as she got in her car. It was just his excuse to get to the blonde, he just wouldn't listen when she'd tried to confront him. Maybe he did suspect something about herself and Dave after all and was getting his revenge.

Alec heard a car starting in the distance and wondered it was Tess. It was all his fault Rose was trapped in the car, if he'd not suggested she tried to catch Tess talking to the sergeant but he had and Rose had agreed. Now, who knew what would happen if he did back away and leave her? He was sure she'd fight back but the other man was bigger than she was.

He saw the man turn to Rose as she slowly tried to get free without the man doing something drastic to pin her down even further. A dozen things were running through her mind, like what if he suddenly opened the car door, still holding Alec off and even worse, force her further back? He could easily release the lock

Would Alec just stand by, she thought as Alec seemed to move slightly towards her. Why hadn't he thought of going around the other side of the car and tried to pull her out of the sergeant's grasp or would the man expect Alec to do that?

Alec had thought about it, the man holding him off couldn't be in two places at once. Should he chance it or would it just make things worse for Rose? He didn't even know if she'd had chance to lock the car doors, maybe the sergeant had just assumed she had and not bothered checking? That would be too easy, he then thought.

Something needed to be done and quickly, he already knew that and the chances of someone coming down where they were standing were pretty slim. Maybe a noise would distract the sergeant?

Rose was staying as still as she could so as not to provoke the man holding her but she had to think of something to aid any attempts by Alec to help her. Normally if a bloke grabbed her, she would knee them where it hurt but she was at a disadvantage. Then she thought maybe she should try talking to the sergeant again.

"Hey, ya won't get away with it ya know," she reminded the man at the side of her. "He was already on his way down here when ya grabbed me and trust me, he wouldn't have come down without telling anybody."

"Shut up," the sergeant told her while still holding Alec back. "You think he came down here just to rescue you?" he then laughed. "He's just like the rest of us, hell, have you seen the way he treats his wife? You should hear her going on about it, she never stops."

Alec could see what Rose was trying to do, exactly what she'd come down here before him for. If she couldn't get anything out of Tess, then Tess would have bound to have complained to someone other than her friends if she thought she could get her revenge.

"She put you up to this then?" Alec asked the sergeant.

"That's an understatement," the sergeant laughed some more. "Do you think I'm bothered she gets herself into trouble from you?"

"Bloomin' cheek," Rose huffed. "She called ya and said I was on my way down here, on my own?"

Alec had wondered why Tess had just watched Rose walk off with her friends before she'd come into his office. What the hell was wrong with her that she'd put Rose in danger? Even if she had a grudge against himself and Rose, was there any need to go that far?

"That explains a few things," Alec then thought out loud.

"You mean you don't already know Hardy?" the sergeant sounded surprised. "Tess had plenty to say about you and your little friend here."

"Hey, I'm not little," Rose complained.

"I said be quiet," she was reminded.

Rose folded her arms in response, willing the man to let go of her for just a second, then she'd show him if she was little or not. Alec wished Rose wouldn't provoke the sergeant and make things worse for her. Surely someone else would be coming down here for their cars? Why hadn't he told any officers to follow him, he then cursed himself for coming down here alone.

Then he wondered if he could call the man's bluff and agree with what Rose had just said, about telling someone? How was the sergeant to know that he hadn't?

"Back away from the car and make it easy on yourself," Alec stood his ground, also folding his arms and looking like he meant business.

"Now ya gettin' it," Rose smiled to herself. "About bloomin' time as well."

Chapter 16

Rose had been annoyed at being trapped in the car for so long. The sergeant hadn't backed down when Alec had told him to move away but she had to remain calm and trust her boss to get her out of this.

Alec was equally annoyed at the sergeant, how did the man think he was going to get away with this?

"You should know I have told someone in the office if they don't hear from me," Alec tried to bluff, looking at his watch. "In another few minutes, the garage will be swarming with uniformed officers."

The sergeant let out a nervous laugh.

"Nice try Hardy," the man replied, looking around.

"He won't be kidding," Rose played along with Alec's bluff.

"Seriously?" the sergeant replied.

Alec was wondering why no-one else had ventured down yet, then when he saw the time, he knew it wouldn't be long before those out on routine patrols would be coming back in to sign off and the next shift would be getting ready. He just had to keep the man talking or risk making a sudden move and hopefully, Rose would be able to get free.

Rose suddenly had an idea of her own as Alec was deciding what else to do. If she could quietly unlock the passenger door, she might be able to surprise the sergeant by distracting him so Alec could get nearer. She guessed there was only one way of finding out but Alec would have to be fast.

"You may as well give up now," Alec warned the sergeant. "You know you are finished now?"

"I'll say I was provoked," the sergeant replied, glancing at Rose, who was debating if Alec would guess what she was up to. "I'll say she was teasing me by playing hard to get and she invited me into her car, then when I tried to get her to move over, you came along and she thought you'd get jealous."

Rose had to suppress a laugh at the idea.

"Yeah. Like they're likely to believe that story," Rose told him.

"Shut up," she was told.

"Huh," Rose replied, looking towards Alec, who couldn't help but smile.

He hadn't realised that Tess was so petty that she'd go that far in setting Rose up to be cornered by the traffic sergeant. If what the man had just said was partly true, then he needed to confront Tess when he got home and ask her if she really knew how far the sergeant would go.

Well what did Tess think the sergeant was going to do? Ask Rose out on a date? Now though, it was getting out of hand and it had to end, sooner rather than later, Alec thought.

"Just let her out of the car," Alec asked again.

"Then what?" the sergeant wanted to know. "You arrest me? I don't think so. I have a better idea. You walk away and me and Rose here can shall I say, discuss things?"

"You have to be joking," Rose laughed. "Do ya think I'm letting ya in the car?"

"That's not going to happen," Alec told the sergeant.

"It will and you know it Hardy," the sergeant replied.

Alec hoped the man hadn't realised what time it was. The first of the patrol cars should be coming in any minute now and when they did, the drivers would be coming down this end so that those coming on duty could get away quickly once they'd been briefed.

"Ya can forget it, I'm not discussing anything with you," Rose objected.

Who was he kidding, she had thought. She glanced at the door locking button on the dashboard and moved her other arm slightly while her captor was talking to Alec. She looked towards Alec, who she thought looked like he'd moved forward slightly.

Alec had taken a few steps while the sergeant hadn't noticed and he was sure he could cover the remainder of the distance if Rose kept on talking. So he nodded slightly towards her, they had got on fairly well as a team and he knew she had learned a lot in the short time she had been here.

"You won't have a choice," she was then told by the sergeant. "Now open the door and you Hardy, don't try anything, I'll be locking the doors behind me. Now move over," he told poor Rose.

He can't be serious, Rose thought out loud but hoping she wouldn't be heard. Then she thought if she was seen going towards the door button, he'd be watching and think he'd won and Alec should be able to knock the baton out of the man's other hand and grab them both and arrest him.

Well that was a plan, Rose thought to herself this time. Once free to move, she would slide over to the passenger seat and get out. She had a good mind to go around the other side of the car and slap the creep's face for thinking she'd give in so easily. She was a Tyler, no-one messed with the Tyler women.

Alec had to admire how Rose was taking this so far and he knew he couldn't let her down.

"I said open the doors, now," Rose was reminded, making her jump. "Or do I have to force the window down further and drag you out of there?"

That was it, Alec was already losing the little patience he had and this was the final straw. He wasn't just going to stand by and see anything happening to Rose. Tess was in so much trouble for this when he got home, just let her try to deny it. She had certainly delayed him from following Rose, just long enough for the sergeant to gain an advantage.

Rose slowly reached out to the door button, trying to free herself and pretending she couldn't reach while she was being held.

"Stop stalling," she was warned as he didn't release the grip on her. "Stop pretending you can't reach."

"Well I can't reach," Rose protested.

"Just get on with it," she was told as the sergeant glanced at her.

It was just long enough for Alec to dash over to the car as he shouted for Rose to stop as her hand reached out. He was dreading that he wouldn't be able to stop the sergeant from getting into the car once the door was released and that he'd be threatened with the baton the man was still hold onto.

Rose's hand hovered over the button but she heard Alec telling her to stop. That surprised the sergeant enough for Rose to get free and she ducked her head down as Alec reached the man and wrestled the baton out of his hand, the object falling to the ground.

"You are under arrest for threatening behaviour and attempted assault on a police officer," Alec warned the sergeant while getting the handcuffs out of his pocket.

Rose got out of the other door and went around to join Alec, just about to slap the man's face for what he'd tried to do.

"Rose, you can do the honours," Alec smiled as the handcuffs snapped into place.

"With pleasure," Rose smiled back. "Can I slap his face first?"

Alec tried to look serious.

"Be careful," he told her. "We don't want a counter accusation, do we?"

"It would be worth it," Rose replied. "You have the right to remain silent," Rose began to tell the sergeant his rights.

Just as she finished, still annoyed she hadn't slapped him, cars began to drive into the garage and she saw officers looking towards them. As the cars stopped, several officers got out and walked towards the three of them.

"Sir, what's going on here?" one sergeant asked Alec.

"The traffic sergeant here was threatening DC Tyler and trying to gain access to her car to assault her," Alec put on a serious face, since he'd smiled all the way through the arrest Rose had made, a little on the rough side on Rose's part but he had let it slide.

"Yeah, I just arrested him," Rose was pleased with herself. "Can ya take him upstairs to book him for me?"

"We certainly can," the other sergeant smiled back. "He's been harassing some of the female officers but we had no proof, until now."

"Well book him and lock him up, I'll deal with him in the morning," Alec told the other sergeant, who had handed the traffic sergeant over to one of the others and was being led away.

"I'll just deny it, remember what I said," the traffic sergeant shouted behind him to Alec.

"Ya have to be joking," Rose shouted back, getting a warning glance from Alec.

"If you ask me, he should have been caught a long time ago," she was told by the remaining sergeant. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, honestly," Rose told him, looking at Alec, who had picked the baton up off the floor, having put on a plastic glove he had in his pocket.

Rose had often wondered how he got so much out of his pockets, were they bigger on the inside or something?

"What about your statements," the remaining sergeant asked Alec.

"We will give them in the morning," Alec replied. "DC Tyler has been through enough for now. I was delayed at joining her and the traffic sergeant took advantage of her being on her own and everyone else had left."

"Yeah, he took me by surprise while I was waiting," Rose agreed, not wanting to say Alec had phoned her with a warning to be careful.

She knew for certain now that Tess had delayed Alec on purpose.

"Right you are, I'll let the custody sergeant know to detain the offender until morning," the sergeant told Alec. "Should I arrange a car to take DC Tyler home Sir?'

"No, I will take her," Alec replied.

"Then I should remind you not to discuss what happened," the sergeant smiled as Rose went to get in the passenger side of their car.

"I know," Alec told him. "I will make sure she is alright before I leave her."

Alec got in the driver's side, putting the seatbelt on and indicating for Rose to do the same as she seemed in a trance.

"Okay, let's get you home eh?" he told her. "I am surprised your mother has not phoned to find out where you are," he then smiled, remembering how Jackie had been at the pub the other Sunday when Tess was stopping Rose from leaving the ladies room.

"Yeah, so am I," Rose smiled at the thought. "How did ya guess?"

"Seriously?" Alec raised his eyebrows as he drove off. "Having met her?"

Rose had to laugh. "Yeah. How could I forget that? Some introduction that was."

"Indeed," Alec agreed as he stopped at the top of the ramp and set the satnav for Rose's apartment.

He had to smile that she'd set it as 'Home'. Rose stayed quiet on the way back, slumped slightly in her seat but it wasn't really surprising, Alec thought as he half watched her. Then, she suddenly spoke up as the car turned into the road where she lived.

"I don't know what I'd have done if he'd managed to get in the car before ya got there."

"Well, I would have been there sooner," Alec replied, trying to find which driveway her block of apartments was in as the satnav told him his destination was on the left.

"Next one," Rose pointed to hers. "Sorry."

"I do not suppose you need further directions," Alec mused as he indicated to where Rose pointed.

"Mum will think ya keeping me working late," Rose smiled as he pulled into the parking space she indicated was hers.

"You tell her I keep you working late?" Alec teased her.

"I was just kidding," Rose smiled as she took the seatbelt off. "Thank Tess for me when ya get home will ya?'

"Rose, I cannot apologise enough for my delay," Alec turned towards her. "I will be having words with her when I get home, don't worry. Do you know she actually came out and accused us of having an affair?"

"Ya never mentioned it," Rose replied. "Something kinda stopped ya."

"Yes, I know. I should have done something about him before it got to that stage," Alec admitted.

"How were ya to know what he'd do?" Rose asked him.

"Rose, we know Tess has been talking to him," Alec reminded her. "I never expected it to go that far. As for her accusing me of having an affair with you, it proves we are right about her and Dave Harris. Why else would she try to shift the blame?"

"Yeah, she must be feeling guilty about it," Rose had to agree. "Did ya ask her about it?"

"When I did, she told me not to put the blame on her," Alec replied. "I should let you get home."

"Yeah. Thanks again for the rescue," Rose smiled.

She then leaned over and kissed his cheek, Alec taken slightly by surprise, considering the accusations going around between himself and Tess. He absent-mindedly put his hand on her arm and Rose put her chin on his shoulder.

"Sure you will be okay?" Alec then asked her.

"Yeah, sorry," Rose told him.

"It's fine, it was bound to have affected you. Try not to tell your mother too much until you give your statement in the morning," he reminded her.

"I'll think of something," Rose assured him, moving away. "Hey, good thing I don't wear lipstick at work," she joked as she brushed the shoulder of his jacket with her hand. "We don't want Tess finding any evidence to use against ya."

"Rose, it is not funny," Alec tried to be serious but seeing her point. "She had better not go looking for any though."

He saw a stray blonde hair floating around as Rose moved her hand from his shoulder.

"I'll make my own way to work in the morning," Rose then offered.

"Don't do that, I will call for you," Alec insisted as Rose opened the passenger door.

"Thanks and thanks for bringing me home Alec."

Rose stood away from the car as Alec backed it out of the parking space. He gave her a wave as he put the car in the forward gear and Rose waved back. Now to face her mother, Rose thought as Alec drove off.

Rose went up to her apartment, wondering what to tell her mother.

"That boss of yours keeping ya working overtime?" Jackie laughed as she greeted Rose. "Ya should have called me."

"Mum, he wasn't keeping me working," Rose tried to tell her. "Ya know that traffic sergeant I told ya about?"

"What about him?" Jackie wanted to know. "Did he ask ya out? Thought ya didn't like him?"

"I don't Mum and no, he didn't exactly try to ask me out. I can't talk much about it but he tried to get into the car while I was waiting for Alec," Rose had to admit.

"Ya what?" Jackie stopped what she was doing and went towards Rose.

"It's okay Mum, he didn't get in, I locked the doors. Alec was on his way down and got there in time to stop the creep gettin' in. Anyway, I can't tell ya any more about it until I give a statement in the morning but I'll tell ya something, I won't have any more trouble from him."

"Why was he tryin' to get into the car?" Jackie wondered.

"What do ya think Mum?" Rose looked at her as Jackie clasped her hands over her mouth as she realised.

Jackie rushed up to her and pulled her into one of her famous hugs.

"Ya mean if ya boss hadn't got there when he did, that man would have got ya to let him in?" Jackie asked her.

"Not without a fight Mum," Rose replied as she held onto her mother.

"Well I hope they throw the book at him then," her mother replied. "So why was your boss late then?"

"I told ya about Tess, how she's always saying things," Rose reminded her. "Well we think she'd been getting gossip from the traffic sergeant and he's always complaining to her that when he tried to talk to me, Alec's always with me."

"So she delayed him so that man could talk to ya?" Jackie started to get it.

"Exactly Mum and Alec's furious about it. He called me to warn me but it was too late, that creep was already at the side of the car. Luckily I pressed the door lock but left the window open a bit but he forced it open wider. I don't know what would've happened if Alec hadn't arrived when he did."

"Knowing you, ya would've done something about it," Jackie joked.

"Too right," Rose replied when she thought about it but she still owed her boss for rescuing her.

Then, Rose realised it would be all over the station when she got there in the morning, especially if Alec was driving since he was picking her up in the morning instead of the other way around. She would never hear the end of it from her friends teasing her.

When Tess had called for Daisy, she was already in a bad mood from Dave not meeting her and then Alec walking out on her as she complained to him.

"What's wrong Mum?" Daisy asked her when she looked up from her phone.

"Nothing," Tess replied. "You could put that phone away though."

Daisy just grinned and put the phone in her school bag. Tess was home before Alec so she was surprised when he pulled up in his work car as she looked out of the living room window.

"So, what are you doing driving that for?" Tess asked him when he entered the hallway and put the keys on the dresser.

"As if you don't know," Alec replied, going into the kitchen.

"I have no idea what you're talking about Alec," Tess told him.

"Really? You thought by keeping me talking, you'd leave Rose to face that man down in the garage?" Alec asked her.

"Alec, I don't know what you're implying," Tess insisted. "You were the one calling her and dashing out, after you denied the two of you were having an affair," she then reminded him. "Don't bother denying it Alec, why else would you have run after her?" she wanted to know.

"Maybe to stop her being attacked by that traffic sergeant?" Alec retaliated.

"What? I never saw anything when I went down there Alec. I assumed the two of you had gone off somewhere to be alone," Tess scoffed.

Alec glared at her.

"No, that would normally be you going off somewhere with Dave," Alec replied, trying hard to keep his temper.

Then, they both realised Daisy was standing in the kitchen doorway.

"Mum, Dad?" Daisy looked at them. "What are you both saying? You're both having affairs? I hate the both of you."

With that, the teenager ran upstairs and slammed her bedroom door.

"Now look what you've done Alec," Tess hissed at him.

"What I've done?" Alec asked her. "Your accusations against me have no grounds, mine against yours have. You've been seen coming through the fire exit at the back of the canteen almost every lunchtime."

"Oh, so you and your blonde DC haven't been seen talking in the car or by the lifts then?" Tess told him. "You've been seen with her looking very cosy. As for what you accuse me of, I bet it's those friend's of Tyler's spreading lies."

"Tess, everyone in the canteen has seen you following Dave Harris out as soon as you have both eaten," Alec reminded her.

"Well Tyler has been seen following you out," Tess told him. "I'm not the guilty one here, you are."

"I don't think so Tess, you are using me as an excuse, to cover for yourself. You are always late home, leaving Daisy and I have had to go get her. When have I ever been late home eh?" he wanted to know. "I am going to talk to Daisy, think about it. I have more evidence than you have."

Chapter 17

Alec went to knock on Daisy's door and let himself in to find her lying on the bed.

"Daisy, this was not how it looked," he tried to tell her.

"That's why mum was always late picking me up," the teenager replied, wiping her eyes.

Alec got a tissue out of the box on her bedside table and passed it to her, sitting on the edge of the bed.

"I am sorry you had to hear that. Yes, I believe that is so, it would explain a lot," he admitted. "Given that several times she failed to show up."

"I think it was only once," Daisy told him. "Gran was getting a bit mad with her, especially when it was bingo night," she then managed to smile.

She sat up and leaned forward, resting her head on Alec's shoulder. It reminded him of earlier when Rose had done it but no, it hadn't meant anything then, had it? When was it he'd felt more protective of Rose, he wondered. He put his arms around Daisy, trying to forget about earlier.

There was more of a rift now between himself and Tess than there had ever been. It had been slowly getting worse but Tess's accusations had really made it worse.

"What will you do Dad?" Daisy wanted to know.

"Don't worry about it," Alec told her. "Don't let it get to you eh?"

"Easy for you to say Dad," Daisy tried to laugh. "Just tell me you're not getting divorced."

"Daisy, it has not got to that stage," Alec replied. "Although things are getting difficult between your mother and I."

"It started the other week, didn't it?" Daisy guessed. "When mum was in the ladies room with Rose."

"I guess that was the start of her getting worse," Alec admitted. "She had made her mind up about Rose when Rose first arrived here."

"But why Dad? What had Rose done to her?" Daisy wanted to know.

"That I cannot figure out," Alec had to admit. "I expect when Rose was made my DC, she felt like she would never get to work with me again? The chief had stopped her because she was always arguing about something and she put everyone else off working with me."

"So she was stopping everyone and Rose getting to work with you was what caused it all?" Daisy asked him.

"It seems so. It would have been the same with anyone, it just happened that Rose got the job, her being new," Alec told her.

"Poor Rose," Daisy replied. "She had no idea what she was walking into?"

"No, she didn't," Alec agreed. "None of it is her fault."

"I liked her, when I saw her and her mother's funny," Daisy smiled. "Did you see her face when she found out mum was holding Rose in the ladies room?"

"Yes, I would not like to get on her wrong side," Alec smiled back.

"Are you going to leave us Dad?" she then asked him.

"I hope it does not come to that but if things get a lot worse, there is a chance I will have to but try not to worry about that just yet."

As he left his daughter, he was already worrying about it. How much longer could he put up with Tess both at work and at home? That was down to Tess but maybe she already had it in her head that he was the guilty one as she tried to cover for herself and Dave.

Should he have it out with the other detective? The man had to be encouraging her, maybe he'd convinced Tess that Rose had encouraged himself and Tess should get back at him? He didn't feel like putting up with Tess and her complaints all night so he went to their bedroom and gathered what he needed for the night and for work and put them in the spare room.

Hopefully, Daisy wouldn't notice or he had some explaining to do, since he'd said he wasn't leaving. He went back downstairs and into the kitchen, since he was getting hungry. Tess didn't say anything to him as she was already at the kitchen table, Alec assuming she'd left his food in the oven or else he'd have to make his own.

He then sat at the table, Tess getting up with her empty plate.

"I hope you didn't tell Daisy anything," she suddenly told him.

"Only what I had to," Alec replied. "She is old enough to understand Tess."

"Oh, so that's okay?" Tess replied.

Alec just ignored her as he tried to eat the food that was now too hot. He didn't think Tess would really notice if he was in their bedroom or not, the mood she was now in. As usual, Tess went upstairs first so he took his time and hoped Daisy wouldn't catch him. The poor girl had grown up faster than she should have done recently.

The next morning, Daisy was talking away during breakfast, Tess was ignoring Alec and Alec was just nodding in agreement with what Daisy was trying to tell him.

"Dad, where's Rose this morning?" Daisy asked him as she was at the kitchen window. "Is she late?"

"I have the car," Alec replied before Tess could get a word in.

"Tell her why," Tess scoffed, looking pleased with herself all of a sudden.

"Dad?" Daisy turned to look at him.

"There was an incident as we were leaving last night so I drove Rose home," Alec tried to explain without going into a lot of details.

He was just waiting for Tess to say something.

"Is Rose okay though?" Daisy then wanted to know.

"I'm sure she's quite alright," Tess told her. "If you ask me, it was just an excuse to get your dad to take her home."

"Tess," Alec warned her.

"What does mum mean?" Daisy then asked Alec.

"Nothing, do you?" he looked at Tess.

"Well I still fail to understand why you need picking up for work anyway when you can come with us," Tess replied.

"I need to get going," Alec then told them both.

"Tell Rose I hope she's okay," Daisy called after him as he picked up his keys.

"Don't go encouraging her," Tess told Daisy.

"Why are you so mean to her?" Daisy then replied.

"Don't be so cheeky," Tess warned her.

"Well you were the one picking an argument with Rose the other Sunday," Daisy replied defiantly.

"Don't take her side," Tess further warned the girl. "What has your father been telling you? Get a move on or we'll be late."

Rose couldn't decide whether to wait downstairs for Alec or have further questions from her mother.

"You be careful today sweetheart," Jackie had told her as she got ready for work. "That'll be a new one, your boss coming to collect you," she had laughed.

"I'll be fine Mum, don't worry," Rose had assured her. "I'll have to give a statement, then it'll be up to the chief what he does about it."

"Well, he'd better get rid of that bloke," Jackie replied. "I mean if he lets him back to work, who knows what'll happen?"

"I think he'll be kicked out of that job," Rose hoped.

"I should think so. Will ya be able to say more when ya get home?" her mother then asked her.

"I might just wanna forget about it Mum," Rose replied, not wanting to give all the details.

She was more worried her mother would want to know everything than what her friends would say. She wasn't looking forward to explaining what had gone on, especially about what the sergeant had implied. She would have to ask Alec if she should include that in her statement.

The message tone sounded on her phone, the message saying Alec was downstairs. She hugged her mother goodbye and set off downstairs, Alec waving as she came through the door.

"This is odd," Rose smiled as she got in the car.

"Good morning," Alec replied as she put the seatbelt on. "Just don't get used to it eh?"

Rose looked in the mirror and saw he was smiling.

"Who'll be taking our statements?" Rose asked as they set off.

"Not your friends," Alec told her as he looked back at her through the mirror.

"Geez, what will they say? I mean if they hear about it before I get to work?" Rose wanted to know.

"Rose, it will have been going around the station all night," Alec replied. "A sergeant in the traffic division being held overnight," he reminded her.

"I can't face my friends, what will they think?" Rose asked him.

"If they are your friends, they will have every sympathy for you," he assured her.

"I hope so," Rose replied. "Hey I hope you didn't move the driver's seat?" she then joked.

Alec just raised his eyebrows as usual, Rose seeing him in the mirror. Alec saw her smiling at his reply.

How was it they got along so well, he wondered as they headed for the police station. Had Tess gone out of her way to argue with him all the time when Rose made a joke out of things that did go wrong? He had been determined not to get on with anyone if the chief decided he was in charge of who worked with who, not Tess dictating to him.

Yet after the first few days, he and Rose had already become a team and she was keen to learn his way of doing things, not contradict his orders as Tess had done. Rose had made more friends than enemies but stuck to the three women she had got close to and she never complained about working late.

She had also shown she was willing to work on her own on something but wasn't afraid to accept help. He had no doubts that it wouldn't be long before she passed her sergeant's exam and get a promotion. He just hoped Tess wouldn't spoil her chances but knowing what Tess was like, there were no guarantees.

When they arrived in the garage at the station, Alec noticed someone else was sitting in the sergeant's office, probably from the traffic division he thought as the officer acknowledge him. As they headed for the lift, Alec stopped for a moment and put his hand on Rose's shoulder.

"Ready for this?" he asked her.

"As I'll ever be," Rose managed to smile.

"Good, you have nothing to worry about. I will try to make sure someone from another division interviews you, not Dave Harris, obviously. He is in part responsible for what happened."

Rose nodded and pressed the lift button. Alec began wondering if it would have made any difference if he hadn't got held up last night that the sergeant wouldn't have had the chance to creep up on Rose suddenly. Tess was largely responsible, the woman stopping the lift just added to his delay. If only he hadn't told Rose to wait in the car for him or if her friend had stayed?

When they got out of the lift on the ground floor, Alec went straight to the desk sergeant.

"You know about the incident last night involving DC Tyler?" Alec asked the older man.

"Yes Sir. The chief wants DC Tyler to stay here until she's called," the sergeant replied. "The chief wants to see you himself."

Alec had half expected that.

"You make sure someone from another division interviews DC Tyler, understand?" Alec told the sergeant. "Under no circumstances allow her to be interviews by DS Hardy or DS Harris."

"Sir?" the sergeant looked puzzled. "What if they've been sent?"

"You call me and delay whoever is sent," Alec replied, looking at Rose who had gone to sit down at the side of the desk. "DC Tyler," he called over to Rose, who was wishing she'd got some strong coffee beforehand.

"Sir?" Rose looked up from staring at the floor.

"Do not go for an interview if it is to be conducted by DS Hardy or DS Harris, understand?"

"Yes, Sir," Rose replied, wondering why she needed reminding, as if she'd do it.

"Good. Sergeant, have a WPC take DC Tyler's statement," Alec turned back to the sergeant. "Where is the traffic sergeant anyway?" he then wanted to know.

He supposed he'd have to remember the man's name at some point. He'd seen the man's name badge often enough and had given him several warnings before Rose had arrived. It had seemed the sergeant hadn't heeded the warnings he'd been given, if he had done, Rose wouldn't have had any trouble.

He went off to face the chief, who would want to know why someone else had to be assigned to the garage at the start of the morning shift.

"Sit down Alec," the chief greeted Alec when he'd tapped on the door. "What the hell happened last night? Why wasn't Peters just sent home instead of him being locked up all night?"

"Because I expect DC Tyler would not have been protected from him, had he not been detained," Alec replied. "She was quite shaken by what happened."

"Well I only heard part of it so you'd better tell me the rest," the chief told him. "Why was DC Tyler alone in the garage anyway, where were you?"

"I was delayed by Tess, as usual," Alec replied. "Besides, Rose went off with her friends, one of them has a car. I expected them to be talking. According to Rose, the sergeant just crept up on her and tried to get into the car. She has had trouble with him harassing her before, as have several other female officers."

"Yes, I remember," the chief agreed. "I would have thought the man would have known better than to ignore the warnings. What was your involvement last night then?" the chief wanted to know.

"Tess decided to question my going out with Rose yesterday afternoon. Tess was putting pressure on her and her friends and I thought it best to get Rose out of the office, before she ruined her chances of promotion by losing her temper with Tess."

"What is with Tess then?" the chief asked him. "Why does she dislike DC Tyler so much?"

"Because you put a female officer working with me in her place," Alec reminded the chief.

"Really Alec, I would have thought Tess would have got over that by now," the chief laughed. "She's still that bad? Is it anything DC Tyler has done to make Tess worse?"

Alec thought for a moment. Had Rose done anything other than work with him?

"Rose is from a different station, she would not permit herself to be intimidated by Tess, who feels she is in charge of those who work in the office. I am afraid I let her but I had no idea what she was doing," Alec admitted.

"How could you have?" the chief replied. "I suppose I am as much to blame?"

"I'm the senior officer, I am responsible for those in the office," Alec replied. "The fact I let her just get on with it is no excuse. As a result, I let a female officer wait in the garage on her own when I knew the traffic sergeant had harassed her before."

Alec covered his face with his hands. He'd not shaved again that morning, his stubble was getting thicker and he thought maybe he'd let it grow into a beard. It seemed to annoy Tess anyway.

"Don't be so hard on yourself Alec," the chief told him. "From what I heard, it could have been any female officer on her own. Tell me what happened after she went off with her friends."

Alec began with Tess barging into his office after Rose went to catch up with her friends, trying as much as he could to miss out the part where Rose had agreed to try and catch Tess talking with the traffic sergeant but it was going to be difficult, if the said sergeant decided to try and get away with the incident lightly.

"So what made you call Rose and leave Tess in your office?" the chief wanted to know after Alec explained everything.

"She was not going to stop," Alec replied. "I called Rose to tell her I was on my way, trying to give Tess a hint I wanted her to go pick up Daisy. That was when Rose replied and I could hardly hear her but heard enough of her saying the sergeant was around then she told me the man was standing at the side of the car."

"So you left Tess to go see what was happening?" the chief asked him.

"When I finally got down to the garage, Rose was telling the sergeant to go away and she was not going to let him in the car," Alec continued. "Before I had finished talking to her on the phone, I warned her to lock the doors but she had not managed to close the window and the sergeant had forced it down."

Alec continued, missing out the sergeant making his threat.

"So he'd grabbed hold of Rose?" the chief was shocked to hear. "That sounds out of character Alec."

"Really?" Alec replied. "When I last told him to leave her alone, he was trying to ask her out."

"I see then?" the chief told him. "Well let's see what Rose says in her statement, then I will have another DI interview sergeant Peters and see what he has to say for himself. Let's hope he realises how serious his behaviour was towards a female officer."

Alec got up to leave but the chief hadn't finished.

"By the way Alec, when you said about Tess and there not being anything specific about her dislike for Rose. Is she jealous of any female officer or is it just Rose? If there's anything else you want to say, say it now."

Alec didn't want to say anything but if it was brought up in the interviews, then what? It would look bad for both Rose and himself and would make them look guilty of what Tess had accused them of. What exactly had Tess being telling the traffic sergeant though? The man clearly thought that whatever it was he'd been told was true or was it just he was jealous that himself and Rose were always seen talking when leaving the car?

Chapter 18

The chief looked straight at Alec, waiting for him to say something.

"Well?" the chief sat back in his chair and folded his arms.

"This goes no further," Alec replied, sitting down again, his hands on the desk.

The chief nodded his agreement.

"Tess thinks myself and Rose are having an affair," Alec got right to the point, to gauge the chief's reaction.

The chief seemed to take it well, Alec thought.

"Explain in more detail," the chief then replied. "On the basis of what? Is that why she's been acting the way she has?"

"It would seem so," Alec admitted. "She has been dropping hints, ever since we met up with Rose and her mother at a pub one Sunday. That did not end well, trust me," he smiled.

"I can only imagine," the chief agreed. "That explains some of it, carry on."

How much more did the man want, Alec wondered.

"Well, also because I decided to let Rose drive me to and from work, so she can get some use out of the car but mainly because Tess can be insufferable on the way to work and has to drop Daisy at school anyway," Alec continued.

"So, that's the only proof Tess needs then?" the chief asked him.

"Does she need more?" Alec replied. "Rose and I get on well, she is very keen to learn but also makes her own suggestions on things. She will soon be ready to take the sergeant's exam."

"I expect Tess will have something to say about that?" the chief joked. "So you want me to consider moving Tess to another team? She won't take it very well you know?"

"I know," Alec told him. "Why should Rose have to suffer because of her? She is partly responsible for what happened last night, her jealousy has gone too far. Rose could have either been hurt or worse if I had not arrived when I did."

"In what way is Tess responsible?" the chief wanted to know. Then he suddenly sat forward. "You mean she arranged something? With sergeant Peters? Whatever for?"

"To get back at Rose?" Alec replied, sitting back. "She kept me occupied in my office, so I would tell Rose to wait in the car. She has been getting information from Peters, who has seen Rose and I going out. He in turn saw it as a chance to get Rose on her own."

"Why though?" the chief asked him. "If Rose turned him down when he asked her out? Has he not had enough warnings from you?"

"It seems not," Alec replied. "It will be his last one, I want him suspended or out for misconduct."

"The latter is a bit drastic Alec," the chief smiled.

"After what he tried with Rose? Why does a female officer or any female not have the right to say no?" Alec wanted to know.

"I see your point," the chief had to admit. "Let's see what he has to say for himself, shall we? If he seems to regret his actions, then I can only suspend him, with a warning that if it happens again, he's out. Sorry Alec, then it will be up to a tribunal and if it happens to be Rose again, she would have to be there."

Alec thought if he had his way, he'd kick the man out, tribunal or not.

"I'll read both yours and Rose's reports Alec," the chief continued. "Try and keep Tess's part in it out or to a minimum."

Alec thought the chief had to be joking, Rose wouldn't want to even mention it. It would be bad enough with what the sergeant had said to the both of them.

"She will have to tell part of it," Alec admitted.

"Then advise her to keep it to a minimum," the chief advised him. "Don't stand for Tess taking either of your statements."

Alec didn't need reminding of that as he got up again to leave.

"Alec," the chief called to him as he was about to open the door. "Anything you both write down today will be confidential, unless of course it goes to a tribunal."

Rose had been taken into an interview room, a WPC giving her a statement sheet and she was trying hard not to put down certain parts of what had happened the night before, such as why she was even waiting in the car for Alec. She had wondered what was going on with her boss, knowing he'd have been called to see the chief first.

Upstairs, everyone was wondering where Rose and Alec had got to, Tess knowing they had set off for work but hadn't bothered seeing if the car was in the garage or not. She'd seen a different officer on duty as she driven in, wondering what had happened to the other one.

Had Alec been serious, she wondered. Had the sergeant done something last night? If he had, it would serve Tyler right, she thought. Then, she got worried she would become involved, if the sergeant said he'd been encouraged, in exchange for him telling what Tyler and Alec got up to down there.

Rose's friends had been getting worried more about her when she hadn't gone to her desk, plus their boss was absent.

"What do you think's happened to her?" Kate whispered to Trish.

"Didn't you say goodnight to her last night?" Jo asked.

"Yes, she said Hardy was doing something, a bit out of the ordinary," Kate replied, hoping Tess wasn't about to say something.

"Do you think she got corned by the traffic sergeant?" Trish suddenly realised. "We all know what he's been like."

"Oh no," Kate gasped, suddenly realising Trish could be right. "Now I am really worried."

"We don't know that," Jo reminded them. "They could have got a callout on the way here for all we know."

"Well I hope you're right," Trish told them as Tess looked across at them all.

Alec found out which room Rose was in and tapped on the door, making the WPC look around.

"How are you getting on?" he asked Rose.

"Okay I suppose? I mean I was a bit surprised at the time," she managed to smile. "I don't think I can say much more."

"Then if you have finished, sign your statement and wait for a senior officer but remember my warning earlier," he reminded her.

He watched as Rose signed her statement then as she left, he sat down to write his own. He wondered who would get the task of interviewing them both but as long as it wasn't Tess, he wasn't that bothered. Rose had been in trouble and as her boss, it was his duty to watch out for her.

Besides being his duty, he didn't fancy facing her mother questioning why he wasn't there for her. He could interview suspects all day long but Jackie Tyler was something else when it came to her daughter. Tess should have learned not to mess with the woman if she had any sense.

He had to be careful to omit certain parts of what had happened and hoped that the sergeant wouldn't bring them up but he doubted the man would have to admit where he got the idea from in the first place. If he had enough proof Tess had given him ideas, he'd involve her in the incident but getting her to admit anything would just make things worse, especially for Rose.

Rose waited for a while before another DI and his partner called her name, a file in the man's hand.

"Take a seat," Rose was told as she was led into an interview room.

She knew the formalities as the recording was started.

"So, you had a spot of bother last night I hear," the DI smiled at Rose. "DI Hardy had to rescue you?"

Rose wondered which way to take it, was the man being sarcastic?

"I would have got rid of that stupid sergeant," Rose insisted, sitting on her hands.

"Oh, I have no doubt," the DI agreed, grinning at his female partner.

"Just how did the sergeant force the window down then? It shouldn't have been that easy for him," the DI continued.

"Blame the car manufacturers," Rose replied. "The glass is so thin at the top on that model."

"Yes, I know," the female DS agreed with her, getting her a funny look from her boss.

Rose was glad she'd not got partnered with this DI but there again, he probably didn't have a jealous wife like Tess who worked with him.

"Why do you think the sergeant choose that particular occasion to confront you like that?" the DI asked her.

"Everyone else had gone?" Rose replied, trying not to sound sarcastic herself. "I can't think of another reason," she added.

"So he'd been waiting for the right moment?" she was then asked. "Why do you think that was?"

Rose had decided he was trying to be sarcastic but she wasn't going to let him get the better of her.

"DI Hardy had warned him before," Rose reminded him of what she'd put in her statement. "I was told the sergeant had annoyed the female officers before I'd even arrived here."

"So I've been told," the DI replied, looking in the file in front of him. "So, he'd asked you out just after you arrived? Did you give him an answer?"

Rose wondered what that had to do with her almost being attacked last night, if Alec hadn't got there when he had.

"I never got the chance, DI Hardy warned him off," Rose admitted, getting uncomfortable with his questioning. "Look, I never had anything more to do with him, I was never on my own when he was working. What's that got to do with last night?"

She felt like saying she felt she was to blame for it all, that he was acting more like he was defending the sergeant.

"Sir," his DS turned to him. "DC Tyler was almost attacked last night, we've all been approached by that sergeant since he got put in charge of traffic."

"Your point is?" her boss asked her. "Has he gone after anyone else like that?"

"No Sir but that doesn't mean he wouldn't have done, if DI Hardy hadn't stopped him last night," the DS replied. "Who knows who would have been next?"

"Yes, well thank you for that Lewis," the DI told her. "Who's to say it wasn't an isolated incident and DC Tyler here was the unlucky one?"

Rose felt like telling him thanks a lot for that.

"Excuse me," Rose spoke up. "Then why didn't he back off when he was told to?"

"She has a point Sir," the female officer agreed. "If he was having a bit of fun at DC Tyler's expense?"

The grin fell from the DI's face, Rose trying not to laugh. He went back to reading the rest of Rose's statement, then looked up again.

"Okay, DC Tyler, that's it for now, you can go back to work. We'll see what sergeant Peters has to say for himself," he told Rose.

"He's not gonna get away with this?" Rose asked him as she got up. "He's a menace."

The DI held his hands up.

"That's not down to me," he laughed as he got up. "If the chief considers that the sergeant is likely to do it again, then action will be taken."

He allowed Rose to go first, leaving his partner to turn off the equipment. Rose made her way back to reception and went to the lift. It was getting on for lunchtime and she wondered if it was worth it. Where was her boss anyway? As she waited for the lift, the DS who had been in the interview room caught up with her.

"Hi, it's Rose, right?" the DS asked her. "I'm Fiona, DS Lewis. Look, I'm sorry for what happened to you last night, really I am, it could have been any one of us. Once everyone's gone, that garage is creepy. Why were you even down there on your own?"

The lift arrived but Rose waited.

"I was waiting for DI Hardy," Rose replied. "I usually wait in the office for him but he was held up, by DS Hardy so he told me to go wait for him. I caught up with my friends and went downstairs with one of them. I said all that in my statement," Rose looked confused.

"I never got chance to read it all, sorry," the other woman smiled. "We're all behind you, we can't risk that sergeant Peters does it to someone else, who might not be so lucky and be rescued."

"Thanks. Everyone in the office will be wondering where I am," Rose smiled back.

"You might be just as well go for lunch early," Fiona told her. "If you want to talk, just look for me."

"Yeah, I will but I have some explaining to do with my friends," Rose replied.

"They'll have heard by now, it's all over the station," she was told. "You've got DS Hardy in charge of your office, right?"

"Yeah, worse luck," Rose grinned, thinking she wouldn't be any earlier going for lunch now. "She's never liked me since I got here."

"Not many people do like her, apart from her friends, then maybe they're scared what she'll say about them if they leave her alone," Fiona smiled. "Don't let me keep you Rose, your friends will be worried about you. It was nice to meet you and DI Hardy's a good man to work with. Tess stopped anyone who even applied to work with him."

"Yeah, I know," Rose replied as she pressed the button for the lift again. "When's DI Hardy's interview?"

"After lunch," Fiona told her as the lift arrived. "You can't discuss your interview with him before that," she then warned Rose.

Rose nodded and got into the lift, thinking she may as well just go get a table for herself and her friends, that was if they were still talking to her, if they'd already heard what had taken place the night before.

Her three friends had indeed heard when Kate got a text from someone she knew in booking. So when the morning break came around, she passed her phone to Jo then Trish.

"No way!" Trish almost shouted out loud but stopped herself just in time and covered her mouth instead. "Didn't you go into the garage with her last night?"

"Of course I did and there was no-one around. Do you think I'd have left her on her own if that creepy sergeant had been lurking around?" Kate asked her.

"Sorry," Trish patted her friend's arm. "We all know what that man's like though," she reminded them.

"Yes but Rose never said she'd had any more trouble with him," Jo reminded them.

"Well, she wouldn't would she?" Kate replied. "Hardy's always with her now. Do you think that's why he started?"

"Well maybe?" Trish wondered. "No-one else bothers though."

"That's true," Kate agreed. "Rose is fairly new though, maybe the sergeant wasn't getting the message?"

"Well he didn't get it if he went after poor Rose last night," Jo also agreed. "Wonder what's taking her so long though, if she had to give her statement?"

"As long as it takes?" Trish grinned. "Thank goodness Tess isn't doing it."

"I doubt Hardy would let her," Kate smiled at the thought of Tess grilling Rose and trying to put the blame solely on her.

"These things can take ages, we all know that," Jo reminded them.

They went back to work, trying not to watch the door to see if Rose returned. Tess was also now worried that she'd been found out, that Alec would have worked out she'd been talking to Peters. So what if she had though, she thought. It wasn't like she'd told the stupid man to try to attack Tyler, that was entirely down to him.

Still, that was no reason for Alec running off like he had done last night, when she'd been talking to him. Why had he suddenly called Tyler? He was paying far too much attention to his DC and less to herself. He might deny it but there was something going on between the two of them.

Then she had a sudden horrible thought. What if Peters had seen herself and Dave in that corner of the parking garage? Would the sergeant try and blackmail her into getting him out of any charges that were brought towards him?

Knowing Alec, if he got his own way, he'd throw the book at the man. She had noticed when she'd left the night before that Peters wasn't in his office so had he really been trying to catch Tyler on her own? From what she'd heard, Tyler wasn't hurt or anything and Alec had locked the sergeant up anyway and kept him overnight.

She bet anything her husband had driven Rose home but stopped somewhere on the way, to console her.

In the holding cells, sergeant Peters was pacing the small cell after being offered some breakfast but he'd been too furious to eat properly and only touched the toast and coffee. He'd not been happy at the officer who had opened the hatch to collect the plate an hour later.

"What's going on out there?" Peters had wanted to know.

"They don't tell me much," the young officer had replied.

"You do know Hardy's holding me here to get his revenge?" Peters had told him. "Just because I was trying to get friendly with his blonde DC?"

"You'll have to wait until you're called," the officer had told him.

As the young man was about to close the hatch, Peters called out him.

"Those charges are false, you ask around about Hardy," he tried to convince the officer.

Just wait until he was asked why he'd gone after the young blonde, he thought to himself, a smile creeping across his face. When he next saw Hardy, he was sure the DI would be interested in what he'd seen at midday in a corner of the garage no-one went in, well except for Hardy's wife and DS Dave Harris.

Chapter 19

Rose was waiting for her friends to arrive and they all were anxious to see if Rose would be saving a table for them. Jo ran over to her as soon as they spotted their friend, putting her arms around her shoulders.

"There you are! Are you okay?" Rose was asked as Jo sat next to her.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Did ya wonder where I'd got to?" Rose laughed, pushing her plate back.

She hadn't realised how hungry she was, not having much breakfast with being nervous.

"Of course we did," Kate told her. "What's going on Rose? We heard rumours going around."

"Let's get some lunch first," Trish suggested.

They all went off just as Tess wandered in, looking around for Dave but he wasn't there.

"Typical," Tess thought, seeing Rose on her own. "Just when I needed to talk to him as well."

Her other ally, the traffic sergeant had been arrested so where was she going to get the low-down of what Alec and Tyler were getting up to on their own in the garage now? What had the stupid idiot done to get himself locked up, she had wondered when she'd found out from one of her friends.

Alec had been vague to say the least, though he'd had plenty to say the night before, blaming her for everything but she had thought the chief would have freed the sergeant pending an enquiry. The man was still in custody though so she had to be careful she didn't get implicated any further.

Alec followed Tess, seeing her wave to her circle of friends then join the queue at the counter then he saw Rose and went over to her, grabbing a chair since her friends were still getting served.

"How did it go?" he asked as Rose finished the rest of her meal, which was going cold.

"I can't talk about it," Rose replied, trying not to smile.

"I know, you don't have to tell me everything," he joked.

"Okay I suppose? How come your interview's this afternoon?" Rose wondered.

"The chief will want to read your statement first," Alec explained. "Tess was looking concerned to say the least when I saw her coming here."

"She should be," Rose did smile this time. "I hope she does get pulled into it. Sorry."

"Don't be sorry, she knew what she was doing," Alec replied seeing one of her friends looking over. "I will see you later, your friends are heading this way."

He got up as Jo approached the table, getting out of the way.

"So, come on Rose," Jo nudged her as she put her tray down.

"I can't, not until later," Rose tried to tell her friend. "Something happened last night, down in the garage."

"We heard some rumours Rose," Kate admitted. "You mean after I left you waiting for Hardy?"

Rose nodded. "Ya could say that," she admitted.

"Geez Rose, I wish I'd waited with you now," Kate covered her mouth. "Seriously?"

The other two were looking at them.

"Why were you waiting for him on your own Rose?" Trish wanted to know, Jo nudging her.

"It's okay," Rose told them. "Tess went into his office as I was leaving so I left them to it."

What else could she say? She didn't want to make it all complicated and have to explain to her boss she was covering up the real reason why she had gone without him.

"Well, she would," Jo then laughed. "Doesn't she see enough of him at home?"

"I feel sorry for him, having to put up with her at home and at work," Kate agreed.

"Yeah, poor bloke," Trish joined in. "Does he complain to you about her when you pick him up or take him home Rose?"

Rose just smiled, if only they knew, she thought.

"Worse than that," Rose grinned. "She glares at me when he's getting in the car every morning."

The others laughed, just as Tess was sitting down at the table her friends were at.

"See, they're laughing about me again," she insisted.

"Oh come on Tess," one of them told her. "Maybe you're just imagining it?"

"Don't believe me then," Tess huffed. "Tyler and Alec have been missing all morning, as if you didn't know."

"We heard something was going on," another told her. "The traffic sergeant was missing this morning, someone else was on duty. What does that have to do with your husband?"

"Keep up," a third woman told her. "That sergeant's been locked up since last night, all due to Tess's husband."

It was only a matter of time before her friends found out what had happened Tess supposed.

"What exactly have you heard?" Tess then wanted to know, seeing Dave wander in and was looking for her.

He'd just have to wait, Tess thought, office gossip was much more important and she was getting tired of Dave rushing her to get 'It' over with in the corner of the garage. She felt a lump in her throat as she suddenly had a horrible feeling that the sergeant may use seeing her and Dave in exchange for getting away with going after Tyler.

"What's wrong Tess?" one of them asked her. "Do you know something we don't?"

"What?" Tess replied, hoping her mouth hadn't been open as she came back down to earth.

Alec had got a sandwich and a coffee and was making his way back to his office when Dave Harris got out of the lift.

"Alec," Dave nodded to him. "How's things? Heard about your DC last night, she's okay?"

"She's fine," Alec replied as he got in the lift, holding the door button.

"Good, heard that Peters got locked up, so he should," Dave told him.

Alec pushed the button for his floor before he got asked anything else. Harris was not the kind of person you had a casual conversation with, well unless you were called Tess.

As Rose's friends were about to leave, Jo suggested she went with them.

"No thanks," Rose laughed waving her hand like she was clearing cigarette smoke away. "I'll just pop up to the office until I get called again, the chief'll wanna interview me."

She went off in the opposite direction, her friends watching her.

"Thought Rose would have more to say," Trish told them. "Didn't you see anything last night Kate?"

"I already told you, there was nothing," Kate insisted. "No point in telling Rose we already know most of it."

"She'll fill the gaps in," Jo replied as they went outside. "Won't be outside long today since it's bloomin' raining as Rose would say," she laughed, the other two joining in.

Tess had waited as she saw Dave go off to another table where his mates were. She didn't fancy hearing what they would be talking about, it would no doubt be about what had happened last night. Why did everyone have to go making something out of it, she thought to herself.

Rose got back to the office, seeing Alec sat at his desk. He waved her over so she went to join him.

"Am I allowed?" Rose smiled as she sat down.

"I am in the same position as you," he replied. "At least you have got most of it over with. Don't worry, the chief is on your side, there was no excuse for what Peters did."

"So did Tess deny she had something to do with it?" Rose asked him.

"Yes, what else?" Alec told her. "She was blaming everyone but herself."

"Well, that's it now I suppose?" Rose complained. "I might as well give up and go back home with my mum."

She slumped forward on Alec's desk, her head on her folded arms.

"No, you stay and fight this Rose," Alec insisted. "Don't let Tess get the better of you."

"She always will though," Rose replied, looking up at him.

"Rose, you will soon be ready to take the sergeant's exam, trust me," he reminded her. "Then she can no longer tell you what to do."

"That's not the problem," Rose looked up at him again. "Whether I pass the exam or not, she'll still be the same."

"Come on Rose, don't give up so easily eh?" he encouraged her.

He would have got up and patted her shoulder but if Tess walked in, since he'd just seen Harris, Tess would be more careful after last night and he would just make things worse.

"Well okay, I suppose?" Rose told him.

"Good, I expect you to pass as well," he replied with satisfaction.

He did expect her to pass first time but would Tess try and spoil her chances? His phone rang and as expected, he was being summoned to be interviewed. Thankfully when he arrived, it wasn't Harris.

"You are still holding Peters?" Alec wanted to know as he sat at the table.

"It's a sorry state of affairs," the other DI replied. "One of our own turning on a young female officer. Whatever happened to make someone like him do a thing like that?"

Alec wanted to say the answer was Tess but didn't think it was wise to mention she may have encouraged the sergeant in question.

"That is what I intend to find out," Alec replied.

"Not until after you give your account of what happened and we've taken the sergeant's statement," Alec was told.

"No doubt the man will try and put the blame onto DC Tyler," Alec replied. "I was delayed after she went off to the garage, although she was with a friend but then she was left alone while she waited for me."

"I see then?" the other DI looked up from the file on the table. "DC Tyler has had a problem with the sergeant before?"

"When she first arrived," Alec recalled. "I had to give him a warning but it was not just her, he had warnings to leave other female officers alone as well."

"Sir, it has been confirmed that some of the female officers are cautious of the sergeant," Fiona Lewis told him. "I did some checking."

"Good, then Peters didn't just single out DC Tyler then?" the DI told her.

"Are you implying that DC Tyler encouraged the sergeant?" Alec wanted to know, leaning forward and putting his hands on the table.

"He never tried anything with the other female officers so why did he chose to with her?" Alec was asked.

"Look Greenwood," Alec sat back again. "There was no need for him to get so aggressive with her. She had told him to go away and she had called me and warned him I was on my way down. He forced the car window down to try and get to her and when I arrived, he was holding onto her."

"I did interview DC Tyler," Greenwood reminded him. "Tell me what was said between you and Peters."

Alec didn't know exactly what Rose had missed out concerning Tess so he would have to be careful.

"I had to be careful not to provoke him even more," Alec replied, folding his arms.

He knew Rose always grinned at him when he did that, she seemed to find it amusing.

"Did he take any notice?" Greenwood wanted to know.

"Not at first. I warned him that officers would be coming back in but it did not seem to get through to him," Alec admitted. "DC Tyler did nothing to provoke him, she remained as calm as she could under the circumstances."

"You mean after you went to her rescue?" the other DI replied smugly.

"She managed to call me before he tried getting in the car," Alec reminded him. "The chief has already been briefed about what happened."

Alec saw the disappointed look on his counterpart's face.

"Why didn't you let him go?" Greenwood then asked Alec.

"Are you serious man?" Alec replied, leaning forward again. "And let him intimidate DC Tyler when she came to work this morning? Anything could have happened, he could have delayed her by pretending to apologise and maybe even warned her to stay quiet."

"Come on Hardy, seriously?" Greenwood replied.

"DI Hardy's right Sir," Fiona spoke up. "He could have made up an excuse for her to stay behind."

"Thank you for that Lewis," Greenwood told her with a hint of sarcasm.

Fiona wished he wouldn't do that. She had considered asking to be put with another DI but only Alec had been without a partner since Tess had been banned but Tess had put everyone off, not just female officers.

"Is that all?" Alec then wanted to know after he recalled his part in the event, minus a few things like Peters insinuating he was keeping Rose all to himself.

He signed his statement and once out of the interview room, sent Rose a message.

Rose's phone buzzed and she glanced at the message from her boss that just read 'Meet me in the staff canteen'.

She supposed he didn't want Tess barging into his office the moment he got back and she couldn't really blame him.

"Where are you going?" Tess asked her as Rose put her work bag on her shoulder.

"Why?" Rose replied. "No-one ever says they're going to the ladies room do they?"

"Watch yourself, DC Tyler," Tess warned her as everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at her.

In the eyes of everyone in the office, Rose was the rebellious one. They thought she didn't care and that working with Alec excused her from answering to Tess.

"I just got a text from DI Hardy," Rose admitted. "We probably have to go out."

Hoping that satisfied Tess for the time being, Rose glanced at her friends, Trish waving to her.

"Wonder where Rose is really going?" Jo whispered to Kate. "Geez, I wish I had her nerve to talk back to Tess."

"We should all maybe try it?" Kate replied. "She can't get all of us fired. Besides, we might hear about a promotion, then Tess will have to find someone else to pick on."

"Yeah, pity anyone who takes our places," Trish agreed.

As Rose entered the canteen, Alec waved her over having already got them both some coffee.

"Was it that bad?" Rose smiled as she sat down. "I take it ya didn't want Tess asking ya a million questions then?"

"How did you guess?" Alec pulled a face at the thought of an angry Tess waiting for him going back. "Still she will only get me at home I expect?"

"Poor you," Rose grinned as she drank the coffee he'd got for her.

How had he remembered how she took it, she thought to herself.

"Just waiting for Peters to be interviewed, then the chief will want to see both of us," Alec told her. "Let us see what the man has to say but don't let him intimidate you."

"Too right I won't, not after last night," Rose agreed.

"Good and if he does not get at least suspended, I will not be happy," Alec replied. "Has Tess said anything to you?"

"Not really but she asked me where I was going when you'd sent me that text," Rose admitted. "I told her we probably had to go out."

"If you continually lie to her, she will get even more suspicious," Alec warned her, trying to sound serious.

Rose saw the look on his face and started laughing.

"Yeah, sure she will and ask me if I'm bothered," she replied.

"Seriously Rose, don't provoke her," Alec advised her.

"Sorry but ya see what I'm up against," Rose told him. "Are we gonna wait here for the chief to call us?"

"You would rather wait in my office and have Tess staring at us?" Alec raised his eyebrows at her.

"Good point," Rose admitted, leaning back on the chair. "Can I ask ya something?"

"Sure, just change the subject eh?" Alec replied.

"Do ya think I really have a good chance of putting in for the sergeant's exam?"

"I would not suggest you did otherwise," Alec told her. "I meant what I said Rose, you are keen to learn."

"Thanks, that means a lot," Rose admitted. "My mum can't decide if she wants to stay or not but she might do, if I get a promotion."

Alec was about to reply when he got a call on his mobile.

"We will be right there," Alec told the caller, beckoning Rose to get up as he did.

"The chief wants us now?" Rose asked as she grabbed her things. "Geez, it's like being called to the principle's office."

Alec let it slide as they both hurried to the chief's office, wondering how things were going to go. Would the chief really believe Rose had done nothing to encourage the traffic sergeant or had Peters already put all the blame entirely on her?

Peters had been taken from the holding cells to the interview room, where the smug look on his face had dropped when he saw who was going to interview him.

"Sit down Peters," DI Greenwood had told him.

"Why was I held all last night and this morning?" Peters had asked.

"You know why," Greenwood told him, looking at Rose's and Alec's statements. "What the hell were you thinking, going after Hardy's DC?"

"Why should she be any different from the rest of them?" Peters replied, eyeing Fiona, who was trying to ignore him.

"You should have heeded what Hardy told you and backed off," Greenwood told him. "Did you seriously think Hardy would go off and leave her with you, when you had her pinned down in the car? You deserve everything thrown at you."

"What happened to hearing my side of the story?" Peters had wanted to know.

"Really?" Greenwood laughed at the sergeant. "Tyler wasn't the first one you went after, was she? All the female officers go to great lengths to avoid you, what made you try with her?"

Peters had laughed at the remark.

"Why should I have let Hardy keep her to himself?" he told Greenwood. "Am I the only one thinks that's exactly what he's doing?"

"Come on Peters, that's a fairly big accusation," Greenwood replied. "You'd have to be a fool believing that."

"Am I? Just ask his wife, she thinks that's exactly what he's doing," Peters replied defiantly.

"You had better have some proof of that, before you drag Hardy's wife into it," Greenwood warned him. "That was no excuse for holding DC Tyler against her will, which is why Hardy had you locked up," he reminded the sergeant.

"What about the fact he was the one who came to rescue her? She was calling him when I stood at the side of the car," Peters replied.

"Anyone would call their boss if they thought they were being threatened," Fiona told him, making Peters' face drop.

Greenwood let it go as he looked at Rose's statement.

"She has a point," Greenwood agreed, making Fiona look at him in disbelief.

"Well she's not the one carrying on with Hardy behind his wife's back," Peters replied as he nodded towards Fiona and trying to put the blame entirely on Rose to get out of it.

"You have proof?" Greenwood wanted to know.

Peters now thought he had a pretty good chance of getting out of this.

"I'll tell that to the chief," Peters replied smugly, looking at Fiona again.

Greenwood got up and gathered the folders on the table.

"Write it all down," he told the sergeant. "You'll be taken back to the cells while the chief decides what to do."

"He'll take what I've just told you into consideration?" Peters asked him.

Greenwood didn't reply, thinking the sergeant had little or no chance of the chief believing the man over Alec Hardy but it would be interesting to know exactly what the sergeant knew about the other DI and DC Tyler.

Chapter 20

Rose left the safety of Alec's office as she heard everyone coming back after lunch and went to her desk. Tess was the last to return, which surprised Rose as she thought Tess would have been back first to have a go at herself and her boss.

Tess had been held back by Dave on her way out.

"Not so fast Tess," Dave had told her as he hurried to catch up with her. "Ignoring me today?"

"You were late," Tess used the excuse. "Besides, I needed to know what's been going on, why Peters had been locked up by Alec all night."

Dave had laughed, raising his hand to lean on the wall just where Tess was now standing.

"Come on Tess," Dave laughed. "He must have caught Alec with his little blonde DC."

"Shut up Dave," Tess didn't need reminding. "Can't you ask some of your mates what happened?" she then wanted to know.

"I suppose I can try?" Dave mused, a big grin on his face that made Tess frown at him.

She thought he was enjoying this a bit too much.

"See, I was right all along," Dave had then told her. "They must have got caught and Peters was trying to get DC Tyler for himself."

"Well the idiot got himself locked up, didn't he?" Tess reminded him. "A bit stupid of him if he didn't back off if Alec threatened him. Now I can't find out anything else about what Alec and Tyler get up to."

"Never mind Tess, did you really want any more proof?" Dave had laughed.

"Alec can deny it all he wants," Tess huffed, trying to dodge Dave's arm.

"I can tell him about us if you want?" Dave tried to look serious.

Tess would have slapped his face there and then but someone came out of the canteen. Dave just did a mock salute and gestured for Tess to go in front of him, Tess now even more riled at being reminded she'd been right all along about her husband.

Should she go straight to Alec's office and have it out with him or wait until they got home? Leaving it would only give Alec more time to come up with more excuses but in the office would attract everyone's attention. Just as she got back to the office, she saw Rose leaving Alec's office but Alec himself wasn't there.

Rose had just gone back to her desk when she got the message to join Alec. Tess was even more annoyed the way Rose had spoken to her and thought to herself that she wished Tyler wasn't Alec's DC and had to take orders from herself.

Should she start on Tyler's friends, she then wondered.

Rose and Alec were called to the chiefs office, Alec remaining standing then leaning against the wall. He thought Rose found that amusing as well, did she think all his habits were amusing? Well if she did, it was more than Tess had done, all she had done was either told him not to slouch, straighten his tie, fasten his top shirt button or tidy himself up.

The chief looked up from the statements he'd been reading.

"Rose, you did everything you could to discourage Sergeant Peters," the chief told her. "Do you want to press charges against him?"

Rose looked up at Alec.

"What'll happen if I do? Will there be an inquiry?" Rose wanted to know.

"He'll be brought before professional standards," the chief replied. "Since he harassed you and clearly wasn't going to let you go even when warned, he'll be disciplined anyway and at the very least be suspended and not allowed on traffic duty again."

"I should think so," Alec replied, standing up straight.

Did Rose smile to herself when he did that as well, he wondered. Why did it matter to him all of a sudden?

"I should take some of the responsibility for Rose being down there on her own," Alec then added. "Tess was keeping me talking, I told Rose to go ahead."

Rose didn't remember it quite like that but he was only trying to avoid making things worse.

"I was with a friend," Rose reminded him.

"If Tess had not delayed me, the sergeant would not have gone seeking you out," Alec replied.

"Don't blame yourself Alec," the chief told him. "Peters should not have been trying to force himself on Rose in the first place. What made him do so all of a sudden is strange though."

"Well I never encouraged him," Rose insisted.

"No-one's saying you did," the chief reminded her. "Maybe it was just all the warnings he'd been given?"

"I had to take the complaints against him seriously," Alec told the chief.

"Of course you did," the chief agreed. "I'll see what he has to say for himself but I strongly suggest you make a formal complaint Rose, not only for your own sake but for the others he's harassed."

"I'll see she does," Alec replied as Rose got up.

He gestured for her to go first and as he did so, the chief stopped him.

"Anything else you want to tell me Alec?" the chief asked as he raised his eyebrows. "For example if Tess has anything to do with this?"

To the chief, Tess was the root cause of most things in the station. She had succeeded in keeping anyone from working with her husband, until Rose Tyler had come along. Then it seemed to him that was when all the problems started.

From what he'd seen and heard about Rose, she was a force to be reckoned with. Not even Tess had put her off and she was doing a good job.

Alec thought he could easily drag Tess into this, things couldn't get any worse between them. Then he'd be sleeping in the spare room permanently.

"She may have," Alec admitted.

"In what way?' the chief asked, being used to the two of them.

He thought he'd solved the problem by letting Rose work with Alec but it had brought out the worst in Tess. Whatever had triggered Tess's hostility was clearly more deeply rooted than Rose's arrival. It seemed to him that Tess just wanted someone to blame and Rose had been it.

"You really want to know?" Alec wondered if the chief was being serious. "You know what Tess was like before Rose arrived, Tess is just annoyed she did not get someone else in the office to control."

"Then maybe it's my fault for taking Rose on and putting her with you?" the chief wondered.

"She would have just done it with anyone else," Alec reminded him.

"True," the chief agreed. "At least Tess hasn't come complaining to me every chance she gets," he then smiled.

"No, she takes it out on me," Alec half joked.

"Sorry Alec," the chief sympathised. "So, back to my question, was Tess somehow involved in what happened last night?'

Alec knew the chief was being serious. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to tell him some of it, to cover both himself and Rose?

"I think that Tess has been trying to get Peters to spy on myself and Rose when we go out and come back. You do know she thinks something is going on between myself and Rose," he then raised his eyebrows.

The chief let out a laugh and closed the folders on his desk.

"Why doesn't that surprise me Alec?" the chief replied. "I don't want to know about it, I take anything Tess does as getting back at you."

"Are you interviewing Peters?" Alec changed the subject.

"Shortly. It's best if you leave it to me Alec," the chief replied. "I take it that in exchange for so-called spying on you, the sergeant wanted something in return?"

"Yes, a chance to hold me back and leave Rose down there on her own," Alec told him.

"So you think last night, Tess was holding you up on purpose?" the chief wanted to be certain. "What had he given her in return, I wonder?"

"Anything she wanted to hear," Alec replied. "He was clearly making something up to get her co-operation."

"I gathered that," the chief smiled. "It will be interesting to know what made them decide to do something about it last night."

"It bothers me that Peters was so easily taken in by Tess," Alec admitted. "What did she really promise him or was it the other way around? Was Tess so determined to find me cheating on her?"

"Maybe?" the chief wondered. "Unless she's covering something up?"

"You don't know how close a guess that is," Alec agreed. "Rose and her friends are convinced Tess is acting strangely with Dave Harris."

"Seriously?" the chief laughed again. "More like Dave Harris is leading her on. You know his reputation for being the station's Romeo?"

"Don't I just?" Alec replied. "I'll let you get on with interviewing Peters then."

"Yes, get it over with," the chief agreed. "It's a sorry day when an officer attacks another. Thankfully it rarely happens."

He picked up his desk phone and instructed the duty officer to bring Peters to his office. Alec went off to find Rose but when she wasn't in the canteen, he sent her a message.

'I'm at my desk' Rose replied, wanting to add where do ya think I am? 'Tess is watching me'.

He just sent the reply 'Don't tell her I am on my way back'.

It was just about break time so she got up to make some coffee, passing by her friends' desks.

"Hey Rose," Jo called out to her, closing the open window on her screen.

They caught Tess's eye, making her scowl. She thought it a pity she couldn't say anything, since a few others started doing the same.

"You okay?" Jo asked her, putting her arm in Rose's.

"Yeah, suppose so?" Rose told her friend. "Wish it would all be over with, I might have to make a formal complaint."

"You do that Rose, don't let him get away with it," Kate told her as she caught up.

"I'm not gonna but I'll leave it up to the chief, he's on my side," Rose replied, getting a paper cup and putting it under the coffee dispenser.

She pressed the button for latte and waited, then went to one of the desks her friends used.

"Come on Rose, how did it go with your interview?" Trish wanted to know as she joined Rose.

"Okay but I didn't like the way the DI was enjoying himself too much."

Trish just laughed as the others joined them.

Tess was dying to know what the four of them were talking about but she bet most of it was about her. She saw Alec was still missing but even if he came back, he'd just shout at her if she said anything. She knew he'd be even more annoyed and he'd probably told the chief he thought she was involved. Why did that stupid sergeant have to go after Tyler?

Was he trying to impress her, since she'd complained to him about Alec and his DC? Well she'd not told him to go about attacking the blonde, had she? That was entirely his own fault for getting caught. Unless of course, Tyler had set herself as a target to get Alec to go and rescue her? Why was she doubting, of course she had, to get sympathy from Alec and then the whole station, plus throwing off any idea they were sneaking around.

"Wow, that's awful Rose," Jo was telling her as she quickly told them more of what had happened. "I always said that sergeant was creepy."

"Yeah, I heard of a few women he tried to hassle," Trish agreed. "Glad I don't have a car! Sorry Kate."

"I'm usually the only one down there," Kate replied. "Rose, I'm really sorry I left you on your own."

"Forget it Kate, it wasn't your fault," Rose assured her.

It was just then when Alec sent her a text. She excused herself and went back to her desk, asking Alec where he was. When he said he had been looking for her, he called her back.

"Are ya gonna see what the sergeant has to say for himself?" Rose wanted to know.

"He's just being escorted to the chief's office," Alec replied as he heard footsteps down the corridor. "What do you bet he tries to get himself out of it?"

"He can try," Rose replied quietly. "I'm not gonna let him off the hook, that's for sure. Tess is looking over at me, she was the last one back from lunch today."

"Was she now?" Alec was interested. "I saw Dave Harris as I was leaving the canteen. He must have kept Tess back. Then come downstairs and wait here to see the chief," he suggested.

Alec already knew he was right. Why had he not known for certain that Tess was messing around with Harris? That was why she was being so aggressive and insisting it was he who was having an affair with Rose. Maybe he should play her at her own game, really get Rose to act like it was true? Just inside the station and when Rose picked him up and dropped him at home.

He'd have to let Daisy in on it, get her to agree not to tell her mother. Rose had made her way downstairs, finding Alec sitting and waiting for her.

"Is the sergeant with the chief?" Rose wanted to know as she sat beside Alec.

Alec just nodded, not knowing what to say. He'd thought more of what action to take regarding Tess, Rose may go with it to a certain point but he couldn't get her too involved. There was her mother to consider to start with, then her friends here at the station. To be honest, it was her mother he was more worried about after seeing Jackie Tyler go for Tess.

Rose leaned forward, her hands under her.

"I hope he's gettin' a roasting from the chief in there," she grinned.

"Let us hope so," Alec agreed. "Did Tess have anything to say?"

"Not much," Rose told him. "Geez, why is this takin' so long?"

"These things do take time," Alec reminded her. "The chief has to hear all sides."

"It's like being in court," Rose joked. "Waiting for the jury to return their verdict."

"Indeed," Alec nodded his agreement. "Let us hope this does not come to that."

"Geez, I hope not either, my mum will go spare. She'd be in the front row," Rose replied.

"No doubt," Alec could only imagine. "Tess may side with Peters though."

"She would?" Rose realised. "Geez, I hope this gets settled here then."

The chief's door opened just down the corridor and the two officers waiting outside took custody of Peters again. Inside, the chief had said Peters could be released on police bail on the condition he stayed away from the station and in particular, Rose herself.

"So I can go?" Peters had asked, not getting chance to plead his case as he'd planned by blackmailing the DI into dropping the charges brought against him.

The chief had stopped him before anything could be said.

"Bear in mind that if you approach DC Tyler, you'll be locked up again, understand?" the chief wanted to make sure. "The female officers should be able to feel safe inside the station and that includes the parking garage. This is not the first complaint against you."

"Hardy took it too seriously," Peters insisted. "I was only being friendly."

"Maybe at first but your current actions resulted in a senior officer being disobeyed. DI Hardy had every right to detain you. You'll be suspended until all things have been considered, including if DC Tyler wants to bring charges against you."

That had knocked the smug look from the sergeant's face. As the other officers led Peters towards where Rose and Alec were sitting, Alec stared at the man and Rose tried to look away. Alec was daring the man to say something but Peters just went past silently.

Alec got up and gestured for Rose to go in front of him, wondering what the chief had decided.

"Have you suspended Peters?" Alec wanted to know.

"Yes and if I decide to let him back, trust me, he won't be placed in the parking garage again. He'll be lucky to ever get back there. Rose, do you want to bring separate charges against him?"

"Should I?" she then wondered. "I mean it wasn't just me who complained about him."

"Yes, you should," Alec told her. "Not only for yourself."

"He's right," the chief agreed. "Let me know the names of the female officers who complained about him Alec, then leave it with me."

As Rose and Alec left the chief's office, he told Rose she had done the right thing.

"I hope so," Rose told Alec as they walked back to the lift area. "Any chance of not going back to work?" she grinned at him pressing the lift button several times. "It won't arrive any faster ya know?"

Alec wished she didn't have an answer to everything.

"Wait down here if you wish, I will go finish off in my office, he suggested. "Don't go waiting in the garage on your own in future."

Just thinking about it made Rose shiver. Alec noticed as the lift arrived and touched her shoulder. Rose went to sit and wait for him, getting her phone out.

"Hey Mum, are ya home?" Rose asked when Jackie said hello.

"Yeah, been shopping, there are some good shops around here ya know? Are ya still at work or out somewhere?"

"Still at the station but I'll be home a bit earlier today," Rose told her. "Been all day writing reports and stuff and seeing the chief. Had my interview this morning, had to get a smart-ass DI on the case but his DS was nice, she was on my side."

"Well I hope it goes okay sweetheart," her mother told her. "See ya soon then? Why don't ya invite ya boss up for a cuppa?"

"Well, I don't know Mum?" Rose was somewhat surprised as her mother didn't usually like any of her male colleagues, well at her last station anyway.

"I was only being polite," Jackie reminded her. "He's your boss and he stuck up for ya, that says something about him."

"I'll ask him but he'll probably say no," Rose told her. "See ya soon then?"

Alec had gone back to his office, finally, knowing everyone would wonder where Rose was. It didn't take long for Tess to get up and join him as he closed his computer down and she appeared in front of him.

"So, where's Tyler?" Tess wanted to know. "What's happened about Peters?"

"Seriously?" Alec asked her. "He should have thought about his actions, before going after Rose."

"Oh come on Alec," Tess replied. "Don't tell me she's completely innocent."

"What is it with you Tess?" Alec wanted to know. "You encouraged him."

"In what way?" Tess replied. "I did no such thing Alec."

"You were getting information from him, did you tell him you would delay me so Rose was down there on her own eh?" Alec challenged her.

"How can you even think such a thing?" Tess pretended to be hurt.

"It does not take much working out," Alec replied. "Was Peters blackmailing you? Did he see you and Dave Harris down there?"

"What?" Tess looked at him, all the office watching what was going on when Rose didn't return.

Kate was whispering to her friends.

"Geez, I bet that's about Rose," she was telling them.

"Yeah, poor Rose again," Trish agreed. "Don't get me wrong but if she's not careful, that time she said she was going to lead Tess on about something going on between her at the boss will spread like wildfire. Then what will happen?"

Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33