Alec Hardy had finally redeemed himself, despite being ill and had taken a cab to the nearest train station and gone back to Sandbrook, finally being able to face the locals after locking up two killers and an accomplice. He doubted Claire would stay quiet and would protest her innocence and say it was all Lee's idea but her husband would take her down with him.
He got through the trial, thankful the three of them didn't get the same defence team as Joe Miller and started making his peace with his sixteen year old daughter, who was almost seventeen and due to start at the local college in September. He had found a small studio flat near his new station, not the same one where Tess worked as he couldn't face her and Dave all the time but his new chief had accepted him and he'd kept his rank.
So one Saturday lunch time, he was meeting Daisy in the town as he'd promised she could start staying on his sofa bed and see how they got on overnight. She was waiting outside a fast-food restaurant, not his favourite but it was marginally better than most and at least the chicken didn't have fancy names.
Daisy was checking her phone, leaning on the window.
"How many times have me and your mum told you not to do that?" Alec asked her as she took her earphones out. "I could have been anyone and snatched the phone from you," he complained.
Daisy reached to kiss his cheek, wishing he'd get rid of his scruff permanently but no amount of dropping hints had worked so far.
"I saw you Dad, stop going on. Who'd want this phone?" she smiled, holding up the phone in a pink plastic cover.
"They could take it out," Alec huffed back.
"It's old Dad, why do you think I keep it in the case?" Daisy asked him. "Can I get a new one?" she asked cheekily as they went inside, Alec thinking it wasn't a good idea as kids were climbing everywhere.
He indicated to a quiet corner and went to claim a seat.
"How long have you had that phone?" he asked, putting his specs on and peering at the board on the side of the counter as Daisy took a seat. He already knew what she wanted.
"I've had it almost a year Dad," she replied.
"Then think yourself lucky it's not on a 36 month contract and no, you can wait for your birthday, if your mother agrees," he told her firmly as he went off to join the queue.
"So, how's school?" he asked as he put the what he called 'tacky' tray on the table almost ten minutes later.
"I'm in the sixth-form Dad," she reminded him. "I wish you'd not made me stay on."
"You could have applied for college, if you'd got your grades," he reminded her.
"You promised you'd drop that," she told him.
"Well concentrate this time and now you're away from that crowd, you'll do better."
"They were my friends Dad, I hardly see them now and when I do, they won't let me hang out with them," she told him sadly.
"Daisy, you don't need friends like that. What would you have done if your mother had not bailed you out?" he asked as he stirred his tea.
"Yeah, well she did and they got into trouble, why do you think they don't want anything to do with me? Now you know why I don't want to go to college."
Alec thought he may as well give up.
"Well I will qualify for a transfer soon, think about going with me eh?" he asked hopefully.
"Where to?" she asked.
"Anywhere, make a fresh start? We could go back to Broadchurch, now the dust has settled. No-one will know you there and they will have forgotten about me, well hopefully."
"What about that woman who you worked with Dad? You left without telling her, she'll hardly be happy if you go back, will she?" Daisy smiled. "Mum said it wasn't true, what that defence team said about the two of you. She said having met her, you argued with your DS more than you did with her."
Alec would rather forget about that.
"Yes, well, she had to live there and she did not need me there. Have you nearly finished?" he asked, trying not to be reminded of being accused of a non-existent affair.
He didn't even know what had happened to Miller, she could have finally got that promotion, it had been almost two years.
Daisy dragged him around a few shops, to see what he would buy her then they went back to his apartment, Daisy inspecting it.
"Your mother has already approved," Alec told her as Daisy put her overnight bag on the sofa.
"I never said anything Dad," Daisy smiled.
"Well you did not have to, the look on your face says it all. Is there something you want to tell me?" he asked.
"Should there be Dad?" Daisy answered defensively.
He moved her holdall and motioned for her to sit down.
"This is me, not your mum so if something is bothering you, tell me. I want to help you," he told her, taking her hand. "I know things were difficult but those friends, they were not really friends if they encouraged you to get into trouble. You do know that?"
"I've not made many new ones, some of those in the sixth form know the others. It's not easy Dad."
"I know love, then think about going back to Broadchurch with me then? Get your exams prepared for, you could always take them when we move, I can arrange for that. The school have been very good about it and how the others got to stay in college is a miracle. If I'd been in charge, I would have thrown them out."
"Yeah, I know you would Dad," she managed to smile. "I think it was because they were older than me, sorry I caused all that trouble."
"Never mind. When you go back tomorrow, I will talk to your mum, see what she thinks?" he asked.
Daisy moved away. Alec knew there was something neither she or Tess were telling him.
"Can we watch TV?" she asked, trying to sit back.
While they had been eating and discussing the finer points of Daisy's 'friends', Rose Tyler was just finishing setting up her photography studio with the help of her old boyfriend, who had driven her down.
"Think yourself lucky your mother didn't want to inspect the place," Mickey Smith grinned.
"She saw the photos," Rose grinned back.
"Yeah, well she'd probably think it was tacky enough to get away with. So when are you opening then?" he asked, picking up an album of some of her work back in London where she'd learned under a professional photographer who had told her she couldn't teach her any more and she was ready to go out on her own.
He looked around at the red brick walls, the red leather sofa and a small drinks fridge, wishing it had some bottles of lager in it, he'd have to tell her when he took her shopping. There was a silver backdrop and some white lights above it and she had just set up the camera that had cost her a fortune on the tripod and her laptop was open.
"I hope those business cards arrive on Monday, then I can take some around, pin some to notice boards and I've still got those postcards to print out," she told him, since he'd just set up the printer for her. "I'd better be able to pay for all this lot."
"Chill Rose, you'll do fine. I said I'd help for a few days next week, we can go online and put small ads in the local classifieds section of the papers. You said there were only a couple of other studios in the town. This place has parking, it's an advantage when there are screaming kids in cars who don't want their picture taken."
"Yeah, just what I need thanks Mickey, screaming kids. I hope I've made the right decision? I mean I have to make a go of it, I have that business loan to pay back. Good thing there's a studio flat above though."
"Yeah, you got a good deal and since everything's included. Why did that other bloke want to get out in such a hurry?" Mickey asked.
"I dread to think, I hope he wasn't into nude photography, I don't want teenagers turning up asking for him."
Mickey laughed. "Come on then, we'll go shopping since there's no lager or coffee," he suggested.
As Rose was just starting to get a few bookings a week later, Alec had talked Daisy into telling him what was wrong and he and Tess had been arguing again when he'd taken her back the following Sunday evening, since her house was nearer to the school.
"Why did you never tell me Tess?" he asked angrily.
"Like you would have done anything about it Alec," Tess argued back.
"I would have, had I known at the time. So you thought you would leave it and let it all die down?"
"It has, more or less," Tess told him.
"Not for Daisy it hasn't. I wanted to talk to you anyway, since you were out last Sunday when I brought her back. She needs a fresh start Tess, somewhere where she's not known. I was thinking of asking for my old job back in Broadchurch. I spoke to my boss, it'll be another month or so but he said he would ask. They have a new chief there now."
"Your old one probably got thrown out for allowing you to use her booking facilities for your old case," Tess smiled.
"That's not fair Tess. Daisy's studying for her exams, I know that but if I can get the high school in Broadchurch to agree to let her take them there? Then she can come back the odd weekend and holidays," he suggested.
"You mean turn the tables on me?" Tess wanted to know.
"This time's different Tess. She needs this and she told me you don't have much sympathy for her situation. It still bothers her you know?" he asked her.
"What do you want me to do Alec? She was with me after you left here and it never bothered you," Tess argued.
"Who ran off with another man eh? You think that helped? I'm through arguing and Daisy is over sixteen, she can choose who she wants to live with and this is what she wants. Don't make things difficult Tess."
"I'm not being difficult Alec. If that's what she wants? Try and keep her out of trouble there then."
"Is that all you have to say about it?" Alec dared ask.
"Well if you're taking her off, do me a favour and go have some nice photos taken of her, professionally, not from your camera phone and printed at the supermarket. I want them suitably framed, well cardboard ones I can put into a glass one and some smaller ones I can give to my mother and one to put on my desk. Can you do that? I heard there is a new photography studio opened, not far from where you are and they have a special opening offer. I picked up a card somewhere."
Tess went into her handbag and produced what to Alec looked like it was a little fancy for a new photo studio. He took it and squinted at the print. One side had red roses with silver lettering 'Red Rose Photography' plus the address and phone number and the other side giving the proprietor's name – Rose Tyler and the business hours.
"I will call and make an appointment then, I expect even with opening offers it will be expensive and some woman will expect a big order to qualify giving a discount," he huffed.
"Yes, well you can hardly blame anyone when they have a new business Alec. Make it for next Friday afternoon after school or Saturday morning, Daisy can meet you there, I'll drop her off," she offered.
Alec shouted goodbye to his daughter, hoping she would agree to her mother's wishes of having her photo taken and not take it the wrong way that it was some kind of photo shoot to become a model. He also hoped the studio owner, a Rose Tyler wasn't either old and would come onto him or too young to know what she was doing. He made his mind up to call the number the next morning and hope for the best.
The following morning, Tess informed her daughter she wanted some nice photos of her if she was determined to go back to Broadchurch with him.
"Mum, I'm not even sure I'm going yet," Daisy insisted.
"Well he seems confident you will, have you discussed it?" Tess asked her.
"Not properly, he thinks I'll do better at school if I leave it all behind but I won't know anyone at all Mum," Daisy told her.
"Well if you ask me, that's a good thing, really Daisy, why do you want to be friends with them again? Why did you insist I kept most of it back from him?"
"He'd just got here Mum, I wasn't sure about him then," Daisy admitted.
"Yes, well, I suppose he's only got himself to blame for that but he wanted to make his peace with you, I suppose he made an effort? Think very carefully Daisy, leaving town may not be the right thing to do."
"What do you want me to do Mum? I can't just find a new set of friends here, can I? I have to go to college, they won't forget easily," Daisy reminded her.
"I don't know what else I can do Daisy, I tried my best to keep you from getting a juvenile record," Tess replied.
"That's the problem Mum, why they won't talk to me," Daisy tried to tell her.
"I give up, let your father sort it out for a change," Tess gave in. "I still want photos, he'll call when he gets an appointment, a new studio opened near where he lives."
"Great, so he won't have far to drag me then?" Daisy asked.
Alec had some time to himself when he got to his office and brought out the card Tess had given him. Why did she suddenly want photos? There were a few school ones around the house even before he'd left and he'd spotted a few new ones on his recent visits, not that he went inside much. He supposed some done properly wouldn't go amiss but why did he have to take her? He dialed the number on the card, hoping miraculously they were fully booked.
Rose had been doing well with bookings, wishing she could afford someone part-time just to keep up with them but since most were using the online booking system she'd subscribed to, she hadn't had that many actual calls apart from enquiries as to if she did baby portraits. She swore she had already mentioned that on the website she'd proudly made herself. The calls for bookings she had taken on Friday, she'd easily logged in and made them while they waited.
She was just setting up for the day, Mickey had persuaded her to invest in some professional background images and between them, they'd figured out how to take the images she took and once downloaded, put them onto the backgrounds. She also had an arrangement with a specialist printers who would print them and set them in cardboard frames or onto canvas, for a price but when she'd worked out her prices, she'd made allowances.
Mickey had tried to persuade her to buy an expensive printer but she'd argued before he left she wouldn't have time to do it herself, the print shop had sent someone round with samples, which she'd displayed. Before Mickey had left, he'd promised to come back and bring her mother.
"Mickey, I'm not sure I'm ready for a visit from my mother just yet," she'd told him as he was leaving.
"Well if she insists, I'm hardly likely to stop her, am I?" Mickey had asked.
"Where's she gonna stay? You were uncomfortable on that sofa bed," she argued.
"Well you have a double bed, you can share," Mickey suggested, not keen on telling Jackie Tyler she couldn't come with him next time.
"Great Mickey, thanks for that. Don't you dare go suggesting that to her. Well maybe you can get a cheap hotel and I'll sleep on the sofa?" Rose wondered.
"Sure you can manage?" he'd asked as he zipped up his holdall.
So now, she'd just made a cup of coffee and had logged in to see what appointments had been made over the weekend when the phone rang, a withheld number, which to Rose suggested it was someone trying to sell her something or to make a claim. Either that or they didn't want anyone ringing back. She answered and was surprised to hear a male Scottish voice.
"Red rose studio," Rose had answered cheerfully that Alec thought sounded a bit bright for five past nine in the morning.
"Yes, I want to make an appointment, preferably late Friday afternoon or Saturday?" he asked, without trying to hint the woman on the other end of the phone sounded too cheerful.
"Hold on, I'll just check," Rose replied. "Is it for yourself?" she asked, hoping he wasn't a male model or anything.
"No, for my teenage daughter, I don't like having my photo taken," he replied, having enough the last time the local newspaper editor had taken it on the beach after an interview.
"Oh, sorry, it's usually mother's that make appointments for their daughters and the dad's have to pay," Rose replied.
Alec was now wishing Tess had kept the card and called herself. The chance would be a fine thing, now he had to book the appointment and pay.
"So have you any appointments for either of those days?" he asked again, hoping she'd say no.
"How about Friday at four thirty?" Rose asked him, thinking maybe she could fit another one in.
Well it would be a rush and he'd have to leave early but he didn't want to mess around. He wouldn't mind Tess being in a rush to collect their daughter and get her there in half an hour or so.
"Fine, she will have to come from school, is there somewhere she can get changed?" he asked, thinking Tess wouldn't want her in her school uniform, such as it was.
He swore young girl's skirts had got shorter than when he was at school but Daisy would tell him that was in the dark ages – the 70's and 80's. His teachers had despaired at him because he was unsociable but he wasn't one for getting into fights or joining in after-school clubs, he preferred to go home and write his comic-book stories. He'd shown his teachers when he'd qualified to be a police detective, skipping being on the beat.
He snapped out of it as Rose was asking his daughter's name after saying there was somewhere to change.
"Her name is Daisy Hardy, she's almost seventeen and she is sure to object to posing," Alec answered.
"Oh, it's okay Mr Hardy, six month old babies don't want to oblige either, trust me. I got plenty of them at my old studio," Rose told him, booking the extra appointment before someone else saw it had become vacant.
"You've had plenty of experience then?" Alec asked her, thinking maybe she wasn't new at this after all.
"Yeah, I worked for a studio in London, I've just branched out on my own but I don't normally tell people that," she admitted, wondering why she was telling a complete stranger but the name Hardy and Sandbrook rang a bell.
She thought she'd best not admit she knew the name and wondering if she was right – he was the detective that had finally brought an old case to rest and more recently let another killer walk free but she didn't expect he'd want to be reminded of that and he may cancel and choose another studio.
"Then I promise not to spread the word Miss Tyler. It is 'Miss' is it not?" he asked, seeing people stare in his direction because he was on the phone and not staring at the computer screen.
Why was he even asking?
"Yeah, it's Rose," Rose felt herself blushing, not that he could see her. "So, see you both on Friday or will her mother be bringing her?" she asked, remembering something about he was divorced and had been ill.
She thought it not so surprising since he'd been accused of losing evidence then it had all come out he was covering for an unnamed detective, probably his ex wife if she were to take a wild guess.
"No, her mother is the one who wants the portraits, I'm the one who will be paying for them," Alec admitted but surely it made no difference?
"Well just press the buzzer when you arrive, there's parking outside, hopefully all the spaces won't be taken at that time. I thought having parking would be an advantage but it gets full of shoppers until around four. Thanks for your call."
"Thank you for fitting her in that late, until Friday then?" Alec asked, hoping it hadn't sounded like he'd just made a date with her, not that he had any idea how she looked but she had sounded young and bright and not annoyed someone had rung instead of making an online booking.
He'd just found her website while pretending to do some work to stop the others wondering what he was doing, since the card had the website in small print and he'd not had his specs on but anyone could have missed it. Well he had but Daisy was forever telling him it was trendy to wear rimless glasses.
"Yeah see you both Friday and you can either pay upfront or a deposit but I only take card payments," Rose replied.
"Very sensible in these times," Alec had to admit, even though it was in one of the better parts of town, young women working alone had to be careful.
He thought maybe he could give her a few pointers to improve her security but that would mean he'd have to admit what he did for a living but even in London, she must have read about his infamous cases. Still, she probably had security cameras and a monitoring service and he really shouldn't go barging in and telling her where she could improve, Daisy would only complain.
Rose hung up, wondering why he'd not booked online but there again, not everyone liked doing so. She got ready for her first appointment, twins who were just nine months and she was glad she'd been to the market and picked up a few cheap toys to amuse her younger portrait sitters, as she liked to call them.
Alec hung up and sent a message to Tess, saying he'd meet her there since she'd implied she knew where it was. He was surprised when she rung him instead of just texting back.
"So you took notice then?" Tess asked him, smiling at Dave as he passed by her office and motioning him inside.
"Yes, meet me there at four twenty and bring her a change of clothes unless you want her wearing her uniform?" Alec replied.
"Well it's a bit of a rush but if she leaves her things in the car I can just make it. You'll have to finish early as well."
"I'm aware of that, I will say I'm following a lead," he snapped back, the chance being a fine thing since there were no urgent cases that required his attention.
He thought this place was worse than Broadchurch but it was marginally better than being stationed with Tess, who made him feel sick at the thought of her leering at he still married boyfriend all day. Why his old chief had not split them up was beyond him. He thought now was a good time to remind his current boss he was serious about a transfer back to Broadchurch.
He never thought he'd see the day he preferred the seaside town to where he'd made a home with Tess and Daisy but she needed a change of scenery and coming here had not been one of his better ideas. Daisy was still shy of him though the last two weekends had gone reasonably well but suggesting she moved with him an hour or two away from her mother was a big step for both of them.
He got up and made his way upstairs to the chief's office and knocked on the door, still not being used to waiting when he'd just barged his way into Elaine Jenkinson's office but she was gone, probably for letting him get away with working while not declaring an illness and conducting an investigation from another police force in her town. Well he wasn't apologizing for either.
CS Barton looked up from his monitor.
"Alec, have a seat. Bored again?" Alec was asked.
"Better than being in the middle of another murder investigation. I want to follow up on that transfer, did you look into it for me?" Alec replied, thinking he'd best be civil if he wanted out of here.
"Yes, I called the new chief in Broadchurch, though it seems she's been there a while. Did you drive the other one out?" Chief Superintendent Barton asked.
The chief knew Alec hated being addressed by his first name, something he'd insisted on many a time while he'd been here.
"Since she left after me, I can hardly be blamed," Alec replied dryly. "So, what did she have to say?"
"Well DS Miller is already back there, she got her old job back and a new DI took over, riding out his last few years before retirement it seems and he's due to leave within 4 to 6 weeks. CS Clark was at a bit of a loss whether to put DS Miller back in for a promotion in view of what happened but when I suggested you wanted to go back, well she wasn't sure about that being a good idea either."
"For what reason?" Alec asked.
Since there were several good ones he could tick off, he shouldn't be that surprised she'd be reluctant.
By Friday, Alec was climbing the wall. He'd heard nothing back about his transfer, Tess had called several times to say Daisy was complaining about having her photo taken, saying she'd got over that in primary school so Friday lunchtime, Alec had to call her to say it had all been booked and it wouldn't take that long.
"Why does mum even want photos?" Daisy complained again.
"You know what she can be like," Alec reminded her.
"Have you even got your transfer yet?" she asked him.
"No, I'm still waiting to hear back but the DI who took over is retiring, who else would they give it to since I had the job before?" he replied.
"Your old DS?" Daisy smiled as she sat at a table outside the school.
"I doubt that, given the circumstances. I will ask again on Monday but be there tonight, if I can't get that job, there will be others."
"I'm still not sure about leaving Dad," she told him as a few of the friends she still had left came towards her.
They were still her friends mainly because they'd been left out and felt sorry for her.
"I have to go Dad, does mum know where we're going?" Daisy wanted to know.
"So she says, don't make her late eh?" he suggested.
He hung up and decided to go drop a few hints to the chief to put a rocket under the CS in Broadchurch.
Rose had been having a good week. Bookings had been constant, some had been taken up until the following Wednesday, she was taking Tuesdays off since Saturdays would be busy. She had just finished with two boys who wanted to constantly push each other and was preparing for her final sitting – the Scottish man who'd phoned on Monday about his daughter.
She'd seen the detective's name and photos in the newspaper she'd looked up online, surely there was only one Scottish detective in the town with that name? She could hardly ask him as he'd just be in the waiting area while the photos were being taken and only look at the backgrounds, if they wanted one. She'd decided to charge extra for that since it took time.
Tess had huddled her daughter into the car outside the school, having to find an excuse to leave early and Alec had done the same after his meeting with the chief hadn't gone the way he wanted.
"I'm sorry Alec but she's just not made her mind up yet. If I keep calling her, she'll think I'm trying to palm you off on her," his chief told him.
"Well tell her I'm volunteering for the job, if someone is leaving," Alec pointed out, since the man didn't seem to want to let him go.
"I'll try her again on Monday Alec but maybe the DI who's retiring hasn't decided when he's leaving yet?" the chief suggested.
"I need to make plans soon," Alec told him. "Daisy will have to apply for college, I need time to get it sorted."
"I understand that Alec, I'll do my best," the chief promised.
So Alec was checking his watch again, waiting by his car in the parking area outside where the studio was. He saw Tess's car approach but someone had just got the last parking spot so Tess stopped on the approach and Daisy got out, going in the back seat and coming out with a plastic carrier bag.
Daisy had been complaining her top she'd finally chosen to wear would be creased.
"Well blame your dad," her mother had told her on the way, hoping she wouldn't get caught in traffic with it being school home time.
"Well I still don't see why I need to have them done, are you going to forget what I look like?"
"Don't be cheeky Daisy, I just want some nice ones if you're going to go stay with your dad," Tess told her. "Your gran will want one as well, try to look like you're interested."
Alec stood away from the car as Daisy approached.
"Your mother was cutting it fine," he told her as she reached him.
"I didn't want to come here Dad," Daisy reminded him.
"So you keep saying, we had best not let the photographer think you have backed out," he told her.
He pressed the buzzer and waited. He couldn't fault the woman so far with her security, no-one could blame her for keeping the door locked. It wasn't a bad area really but you could never be too careful. Rose was expecting someone shortly, whether he'd just drop his daughter and leave she had no idea, plenty of dads had been in with their younger kids but so far she'd had no older teenagers.
She'd grown up without her dad and the 'uncles' her mother had kept bringing home never showed that much interest in her being there. So when the buzzer did finally go, she went to answer it, since the door was blacked out.
"Hi, who's there?" Rose asked as she always did, it could have been someone else she supposed.
"I've brought my daughter for an appointment, Daisy Hardy. I believe you are expecting us?" a Scottish male voice replied.
"Yeah, come in," Rose replied cheerfully.
So it wasn't just a first thing in the morning cheerfulness then, he thought as the door buzzed and he opened it, allowing Daisy to go first.
Daisy looked around to see where she could get changed, Rose pointing to the curtained area in the corner where Mickey had put the rail up for her.
"So, has business been good?" Alec asked as she indicated for him to sit on the red sofa.
"Yeah, surprisingly. It was a studio before I took over, I guess people already knew about it. Did you see my website or did someone recommend me to you?" Rose asked as she got ready, guessing she wouldn't need the toys.
"My ex wife got your card from somewhere," Alec replied as Rose looked busy.
"Right. Well help yourself to a drink Mr Hardy, there's light beer in the fridge or the coffee maker over in the corner, its not been there long."
Alec didn't really drink either but he preferred coffee since the car was outside and he had to take Daisy back to her mother's, since the arrangement was still for her only to stay one night. Maybe he should start insisting she stayed Friday nights as well until they got moved.
"So you run this by yourself then?" Alec asked, at a loss as to what to say.
"Well yeah but I send everything to a print shop, there are some frames over there if you want the photos framing or they can put them onto canvas. There's a folder and the prices are displayed and if you keep the reference number, they do photo gifts. You'll get that with your order. So are you wanting the photos on a plain background?" she asked, indicating to the backdrop.
"You have others?" he asked, wondering if there was a cord that brought down another curtain on the wall.
"Oh, they're done digitally, once you pick out the shots, I can show you them but that's extra, the price list is by the door," Rose replied, wondering what was taking the teenager so long.
Alec also noticed his daughter was taking her time. He had to get used to having a teenager around. Daisy finally pulled the curtain back, Alec questioning her choice of jeans and a white blouse but it was too late now, he doubted there were any spare clothes around the studio.
"Ready?" Rose smiled as Daisy sat on the stool in front of the silver backdrop.
"I suppose so. Are all the photos going to be the same?" Daisy asked.
"We'll do a few different shots, see which you like best," Rose replied as Alec got up to watch, putting down the folder and taking his specs off.
Rose thought he sort of looked cute in them, though why, she had no idea.
"Then are they all going to be plain?" Daisy continued, determined to delay so there would be less time to take them.
"No, I told your dad, I can put them onto different backgrounds once you've decided which ones to use. We can talk about that after. Right, we'll make a start then?" Rose smiled, something telling her the girl was there under protest.
Twenty minutes later, Alec was looking at the various backgrounds Rose presented them, sliding through each one and Daisy picking out a wheat field with the sun shining through the stems.
"Good choice," Rose smiled at Daisy as her dad took off his specs, Alec wondering how much this was going to cost him.
Before he knew it, Rose was listing their requirements, according to the sizes and the cardboard frames and he was shown the final price. It wasn't as bad as he'd expected, a small price to pay for Tess not raising any further objections for him taking Daisy with him, wherever and whenever that was.
"So do I pay now or when they come back?" Alec asked, not sure if he'd already asked.
Rose was sure she'd already told him but maybe not, she didn't get that many people phoning for an appointment.
"I only take cards – did I mention that?" Rose smiled as Daisy went to retrieve her school uniform, Rose thinking it was almost as bad as hers used to be – when she'd attended school.
That was why she'd gone back to college after taking a job at a department store that blew up one night just after she'd set off home, not being able to find the CEO, Wilson and left the lottery money with the security guard on her way out. Maybe he'd flipped a faulty switch but she hoped no-one had been left in the basement.
Alec got his wallet out, thinking he may as well get it over with and pay for them. The background had cost extra but since the woman went to the trouble to explain how it was done it was worth it. He'd chosen some brown cardboard frames with gold edges for the two large ones Tess had wanted and a set of 4 smaller ones in various poses, hoping he'd get to keep one of them placed in white folding paper wallets.
Rose printed out his proper receipt after giving him one for the payment and she pointed out the reference number if he wanted more or some gifts, which he was sure he didn't want but didn't like to seem to be rude by not taking a leaflet with the prices on. No doubt if Tess saw it, she'd have him ordering all kinds of things from a keyring to a mug.
He wondered why the woman didn't do the printing herself but being on her own, she probably didn't have the time.
"So, they'll be back by Wednesday," Rose promised, knowing she'd come to an arrangement with the print shop owner, Manny when she'd been to see him and told him she'd give him regular work. "Do you want them posting or are you collecting them?"
"If you are still open at five thirty, I will call round," Alec told her.
She wasn't usually still open at that time but she supposed she could find something to do and wait for him, since the other customers that day wanted theirs posting.
"Fine, I'll expect you then," she smiled, wondering if he'd seen the opening hours on the side of the door but just assumed she'd make an exception for him.
"See Daisy," he turned to his daughter who'd sat herself on the sofa while she stuck her nose in her phone as her dad was chatting up the photographer. "That was not so bad was it?" he asked as he pocketed the printed receipt, wondering if Tess wanted to pay towards them but doubting it.
"Suppose not," Daisy mumbled, getting up. "Can we go now Dad?"
Rose smiled again, Alec thinking she must see that all day, awkward kids and teenagers who did not want to be there.
"See you on Wednesday then Mr Hardy," Rose told him as they walked to the door, Rose trying to indicate her opening hours but she was already late closing because she'd squeezed them in.
She had decided to open on Saturdays and see how it went though she'd only got two the following morning so far and since she was taking Tuesdays off, having made allowances with deliveries, she could do double the following day since the post office was only around the corner. She wondered if the print shop dealt with sending orders out, she'd have to ask but they may charge more for it than doing it herself.
"Yes, I will try to be on time," he agreed, seeing the times and that she'd have to stay back but he was sure she had to tidy up and do other tasks.
When they got outside, Daisy was standing by the car as he opened it.
"Dad, did you get anywhere with a transfer?" she asked him again.
"Not yet, the chief is chasing it up," he reminded her as they got in. "Going home or your gran's?"
"Home. If you insist I move with you, maybe I should stay over Friday nights as well? We'd have to get used to it if I'm going to live with you."
"Yes, I was going to suggest that and maybe we could try over the Easter holiday weekend, come over Friday and I'll take you back on the Monday night?" he suggested as they set off.
He was surprised when she didn't tell him that was pushing things. After he and Daisy had left, Rose decided to get the photos finished and sent the email containing the work off so there'd be no delay in getting them back with the others. She didn't expect the man who'd just been in would be patient if the photos were late back.
Once they were sent, she went back to the search engine and typed in his name, since she vaguely knew who he was. She had already found out about what had happened to two young cousins a few years back and how their killers had been finally caught but she was left guessing why the detective had decided to come back. She could only assume he'd felt guilty about leaving his daughter behind.
The weekend came and went, Rose closing early and would decide on Monday if it was worth putting out available appointments for Saturday afternoons if they were going to be scattered. Daisy's visit with Alec went well, they'd gone bowling on Saturday night, something they'd not done since she was ten. Daisy had noticed he wasn't quite with it when they'd got back.
"Out with it Dad, what's wrong?" she asked him as they made a snack.
"Why should there be something wrong?" Alec asked, wondering himself why he felt different and it wasn't his health this time.
"You've been like this since I had my photos taken," Daisy remarked.
"Have I? Been keeping an eye on me then?" he tried to smile.
"Yeah, it wouldn't have anything to do with that photographer would it Dad?" she grinned as they sat down.
Alec looked at his daughter.
"What? Why do you think that?" he asked, puzzled she could even suggest a thing.
"You want a list?" Daisy grinned at him. "The way you were paying attention while she was taking photos of me and the way you let her more or less talk you into the frames you chose."
"You chose the backgrounds and shots," he defended himself, not wanting to admit she maybe right, he had easily gone with the woman's choices, hadn't he?
"Yeah, I'm surprised you let me though. So, what do you have to say for yourself Dad?" she asked cheekily.
"Nothing, why?" he asked innocently. "Just because she suggested something I agreed with does not mean I was distracted by her, not then and not now," he tried to bluff but if he admitted it, he had got the woman to agree to wait for him on Wednesday so he could collect the photos.
Why had he even suggested she stayed behind after she had in a subtle way pointed out the opening hours, which showed him she closed at five. What was she doing fitting them in at four thirty then if it meant working a bit later? Had he sounded desperate enough she'd taken pity on him and she'd squeezed them in? He supposed he could have gone on Saturday if she'd insisted she closed at five.
He wondered if so far she'd done it for anyone else? Daisy was staring at him again.
"Come on Dad, it was more than that, why do you think I waited for you to finish talking to her? Well say it's nothing then, time will tell," she replied. "So what are we doing tomorrow? Can we go to Portsmouth to do some shopping?"
"Why there?" he asked, finishing his tea. "What's wrong with the shops in the town?"
"I see them all the time, I wanted a change. So is Broadchurch a big place then?" she asked hopefully.
He thought if she was bored here, he just hoped she wouldn't get there and demand he took her back. If his chief didn't hurry up, there would be nowhere left to rent, the holiday lets would be all booked up and he'd have to get an unfurnished place.
Rose had got finished early and gone shopping and was quite pleased with herself she'd actually made a profit and had some money to spend. She'd got the studio and flat above for twelve months then it was four weeks notice after that, should she decide she needed a bigger studio. She still wasn't in a position yet to take someone on for Saturdays but since the bookings had so far been dismal, it wasn't like she needed anyone urgently.
She called her mother the next day to say how her week had gone. Jackie Tyler wanted all the details.
"Yeah, it's been a good start Mum," Rose was telling her mother. "You'll never guess who I met the other day?"
"Go on then, who do you know who lives there, have you made any friends yet?"
"No, I've not had the chance Mum but I was gonna tell ya, that detective from the murder case here a few years back, the one who solved that other boy's murder as well. He came into the studio with his teenage daughter on Friday."
When her mother started asking questions, she knew she'd made a big mistake in mentioning it.
"Mum, he was only here for about half an hour," Rose insisted when her mother asked when he was coming in again.
"Well is he collecting the photos himself or getting them posted?" Jackie wanted to know.
Rose finally got away with saying if he came in again she'd be sure to ask him what had brought him back to the town but she'd already guessed that.
Monday, Rose was waiting for the delivery from the printers, having the card-backed envelopes ready so she could get them done between sittings. Alec was in his office pretending to be working on something though he was actually looking up the retiring DI who'd taken his job over to see if it mentioned anything.
His boss was on the phone to the chief in Broadchurch when Alec had given him a funny look earlier at the morning briefing.
"Sorry to bother you again but I've had Alec Hardy asking me what's the position down there," he told the Broadchurch chief.
"Well, the DI concerned is just waiting to hear when he can officially leave," he was told. "What's DI Hardy's hurry then?" she asked. "He could have come back, so I was told, once he'd passed his medical."
"He came back for his daughter I believe, so he mentioned which is why he's keen to go back, with her apparently. She had a bit of trouble and he wants to give her a fresh start," his chief explained.
"I see then. Well as soon as I get to know, I'll get back to you but you know his reputation?" she reminded him.
"Yes but he was forgiven for not declaring his illness, I let it go and I would have thought any chief would, considering it almost killed him bringing in two other killers from his old case. So can I give him some assurance his name will go forward for the job?" he asked hopefully, to get Alec off his case.
"Well since he knows the area and the people here, I'll give him first refusal then, he could still change his mind since DS Miller is still here," CS Clark told him.
"Then I'll pass that on to him, he wants to sort things out for his daughter to start college though I suspect he's already started making enquiries."
"I heard he's not one to delay things," CS Clark admitted. "Very well, if he still wants the job when the other DI leaves, it's his pending any objections from the chief constable."
"I'm sure the chief constable will be pleased you got someone to take over with the minimum of fuss," CS Barton told her.
He finished the call and sent for Alec.
"So the job's yours if you want to wait Alec," he told him as Alec sat down.
"Then I will start making plans, I can wait. I can get onto the college there, I still have some contacts who can point me in the right direction," Alec replied.
"Such as Ellie Miller?" the chief smiled.
"Well her and a few others and I have the number of a letting agents, I can get everything in place and once I get a date I can give notice on my place here. I'll get onto personnel and leave the finances to them."
With that news, he could now tell Daisy and Tess something definite. He wasn't that bothered that his chief would now have to find a replacement for him but there were a few DS's due for promotion, they would jump at the chance. By four thirty, Alec was fidgeting in his seat again and getting up, put his jacket on and called his DC over.
"I'm going to check on something," he told Sandra Hunter, who drove him almost everywhere when the need arose, not that he'd been out much lately and she wasn't as annoying as Ellie Miller, though they'd sort of made their peace before he'd left.
"Again Sir?" she smiled.
"Meaning?" he asked, wondering what excuse he could come up with this time, he was always using Tess or Daisy, everyone was used to him by now.
"See you tomorrow then Sir but can I just say something?"
He raised his eyebrows. "If you must," he replied, looking at his new 'smart' watch Daisy had persuaded him to buy that had a fitness 'app' and a heart rate monitor, which was her way of saying he should still be careful.
Sandra looked around, everyone pretending to be busy.
"You've been like this all day Sir, is there something wrong?" she dared ask.
"What makes you think something is wrong, DC Hunter?" he asked indignantly but he'd have done the same had someone on his team been acting funnily, which if he admitted, he must have seemed a little odd all day.
Why was he feeling odd? Was it what Daisy had teased him about the other night? No, he'd only met the blonde photographer the once and talked to her on the phone and now he intended getting to her studio before it closed to see if Daisy's photos were by any chance back early. He knew it was doubtful but on the off chance they were but what then?
Sandra brought him out of his daze.
"I know you've put in for a transfer Sir, it's all over the office. Are you that anxious to leave?"
"Is nothing sacred around here?" he huffed, knowing this was delaying him and Miss Tyler would already have left by the time he'd driven there at this rate.
"Sorry Sir but yeah, there's talk. Have you heard anything yet?" she asked him, seeing him looking like he wanted out of the place as soon as possible. She wondered why he'd even come back in the first place but didn't expect to ever find out.
"Then you will all find out when I do Hunter, now I have to be somewhere and I am being delayed. Tell your friends if they start a bet when that will be, there will be trouble."
Sandra smiled again. "Yes Sir, I'll put a stop if I hear of such a thing and who will be your replacement."
"You do that. See you tomorrow Hunter," he almost smiled back at the dark-skinned around his age woman.
She looked around, grinning as everyone watched him leave. When the door closed behind him, he knew his leaving early again would add more fuel to the fire he couldn't wait to leave and was finalizing his plans to do so.
"Back to work everyone," DS Mills, who was odds-on favourite to take over when Alec finally left, not that they thought he ever wanted to be there in the first place told them all. "You heard what he said, no bets, unless I'm included."
"Sir, if you ask me, that's going to be soon, I've never seen him this jumpy all the time he's been here. Do you know why he never went back to his old station when he was declared fit for duty?" Sandra asked him, knowing everyone wanted an answer to that.
"Like he said, we can't speculate that's the reason why he's been acting oddly all day. Maybe he found out he's got his transfer but doesn't know exactly when?" Barry Mills speculated. "So, who's taking the bets?"
Alec got to the car park and thought about calling the photography studio instead of hoping to catch Rose but what would he say? Should he just say he wondered if they'd come back early, given she was closed on Tuesdays? He had looked at the opening times when she'd hinted at them on his way out and made a note that was why she'd said Wednesday for the photos to be back. He didn't expect it took too long to do them since they were only being put in cardboard frames, Tess could choose her own fancy ones, she'd only scoff at his choice.
He drove towards his flat then towards the shopping area, seeing a space where he'd parked on Friday, the blue painted studio with the shutter still opened at two minutes to five but he expected to see her either come out and pull it down or press a button to do it automatically.
There were shops either side of the studio, one being a general store and one a bakery, then a gap and several other various businesses but if she were to see him and he lost his nerve, he could say he was getting basic groceries, which wasn't really a lie since he needed some bread and teabags with Daisy's weekend stay but there was a shop nearer where he lived.
He got out of the car and headed for the grocery store as Rose came out to pull the grill halfway down while she finished off, just in case the stray parent wanted to make enquiries. She saw Alec heading towards her and stepped outside of the studio doorway.
"Hello Mr Hardy, your photos didn't come back today, sorry," Rose apologized.
"No worries Miss Tyler, I was just going in the grocery store on my way home. I did not think they would be back today," he lied, in case she thought his visit wasn't really about groceries.
"See you Wednesday then?" Rose smiled as she stepped back in the doorway and half pulled the grill down.
He watched her go back inside, noting the buzzer and intercom were still accessible. He went in the store and got what he wanted, annoyed he'd had to pay for something to put the loaf of bread and teabags in and Daisy had told him to keep some carrier bags in the car for such occasions, she said he could provide the shops himself with the amount he had in the kitchen cupboard.
The grill was still halfway down so he took his things back to the car, put them on the back seat and stood leaning on the car roof. Should he go press the buzzer and make up some excuse he'd forgotten to ask her something? Either that or could he change his mind about what frames they were in or order an extra one?
Rose was just finishing sending her final order for the day, she liked to do them as she got them and didn't know if the printer wanted them all at once, she'd have to phone and double-check. She turned off her laptop and unplugged it and took it to the security cupboard, her camera and other valuables already inside and locked it. She was just checking everything was turned off when the buzzer sounded.
Since she had to go to the door anyway, she pressed the answer button. She wasn't that surprised to hear a Scottish male voice on the other end, since she'd just seen him outside.
"Yes Mr Hardy, can I help you?" Rose smiled to herself as Alec got up the nerve to say her name.
Alec then lost his voice as he thought of a suitable reply and a reason why instead of getting in his car and driving home after she'd told him his photos hadn't arrived, he'd locked the car and found himself pressing the door buzzer. What was happening to him?
Rose thought he'd changed his mind and gone back to his car. He must live nearby if he was using the store next door or just happened to be passing and thought he'd call in. She called out again, pressing the talk button.
"Are you still there?" she asked, wondering whether to just open the door since she was leaving anyway.
Alec snapped out of his trance.
"Yes, sorry for disturbing you Miss Tyler but I just wondered if I could talk to you for a moment?" he got up the courage to ask her finally, thinking the woman would probably just open the door to see if he'd gone or not.
"Well I was just leaving but yeah, come in," Rose replied.
What did she have to hurry home for anyway? Maybe she should get a cat to keep her company since there was a grassed area and paving behind the shop, which was how she got to her flat via the steps at the end.
She buzzed Alec in and stepped back, allowing him inside.
"Was I disturbing you?" he asked, wondering why she hadn't told him to come back tomorrow since that was when she'd told him and how did he think they'd be back so soon after the weekend anyway?
He'd told himself he was justified in asking, there was no reason why they wouldn't be back early, was there?
Rose indicated for him to sit down but he remained standing near the doorway, Rose thinking he wanted a quick exit if she told him off for being impatient.
"Well I was just going home but never mind. Sorry, I switched the coffee maker off but there's some light beer in the fridge," she offered.
"No, I'm fine. I was wondering if maybe I could order an extra large photo or is it too late?" he asked, wondering how he could justify disturbing her.
"No, I said there was a reprint number on your receipt but since they're not back yet, I can just email them and get another one printed off," Rose replied, though she hadn't planned on sending any orders on her day off. "It might be a day later though," she added.
"That's no problem, I thought I may as well get one for myself without my daughter thinking I was going soft," he admitted.
Well it was as good an excuse as any he supposed though what Daisy would think was anyone's guess. She may well think he'd gone soft and ask why he needed one since she was meant to be going with him but if she changed her mind about going with him when he told her he had something definite, he would need it. He looked around and noticed her laptop was gone.
"When would you want payment?" he asked.
"Oh, well you can pay when you collect the others Mr Hardy," Rose smiled, knowing now she'd have to retrieve the details to send it off, it was a good thing she could access her account from her home laptop and hoped she could find his order.
"It's Alec but I suspect you already know that?" he half smiled.
He didn't have to be a detective to know why she'd fitted him in at a more convenient time and was staying back for him to collect his photos.
"Sorry, I did recognize you when you came along the other day and I'd already thought there couldn't be that many Scottish men in the town with the same name," Rose smiled. "Please, call me Rose."
Alec thought that had been a giveaway, he was probably the only Scottish person in the town, well almost.
"I was not trying to hide who I was, Rose," he told her, breaking his rule of using first names except for family and close friends, not that he had many these days, unless Ellie Miller was counted and he'd not relented to use her first name even though she'd solved his old case with him.
"I never said you were," Rose grinned, doing that thing she did when she got nervous of poking her tongue out slightly. "I'll give you a discount though you should have ordered it with the others to qualify, Alec," she told him, breaking her own rules of a discount if three were purchased at the same time.
"Then I thank you, Rose for the offer. Well, I should let you get home, do you have far to go?" he asked, hoping to sound casual.
"No, just upstairs. The flat came with the studio, I got a good deal," she admitted, seeing he would be disappointed if he was going to ask if she wanted a ride home.
She got up from the sofa, wishing he'd sat down as he leaned against the wall. She still hadn't decided if she was going to get the walls plastered where there was still bare brickwork but she kind of liked it. Tomorrow she was going to print out her own photos she'd taken in London of buses and taxis plus maybe a few other things like the London Eye and some phone boxes and was going to the discount store to look for a set of A4 size frames and some photo quality paper.
She thought if people asked about them, she'd consider selling copies. She knew she'd also have to get some photo hangers at the same time and was glad Mickey had bought a few tools and left them in the other cupboard. That would keep her occupied tomorrow.
Alec was looking at her and offered to press the buzzer to open the door. Rose smiled again and indicated which button to press, since his finger was hovering between the door release and the talk button so as she turned out the lights, she let out a laugh. He let it go as the door was released and he opened it, offering to let her out first, the door locking behind him. She thought it made a refreshing change from Mickey, who had no manners whatsoever and she'd often despaired at him for his lack of social skills.
As they stepped outside, Alec offered to pull the grill back down as Rose had rolled it back up and he waited while she locked it. He was about to let her walk off but stopped her.
"Rose, would you care to get something to eat?" he asked, seeing a takeaway across the road with some seating at the window.
Rose didn't take much persuasion since she'd be cooking for herself again. She missed her mother's company, she'd definitely benefit from some other company who didn't want to tell her about their kids being photo shy or Mickey talking about football.
"Yeah, I'd love to, I was just gonna make myself something, probably chicken," she smiled as Alec checked the car as they passed, wondering if it would be okay. Rose saw he looked worried.
"It'll be fine," Rose indicated to the sign that said no overnight parking. "Residents park around the back but no-one will bother, even when the shops close. People going to the takeaway use it."
Alec gave her a smile, was he that worried about getting a parking ticket, the wardens finished at six but it depended if it was a council or private car park. He hoped there were no hidden clamping notices, not that he planned being there too long.
They got their orders and found a table by the window, Alec getting tea and Rose orange soda with their meals. Alec was again at a loss what to say, he only ate out with Daisy, who was usually going on about everything and nothing at the same time. She saw he looked nervous.
"So Alec, what brought you back to Sandbrook then?" she decided to ask, since her mother also wanted to know.
"My daughter, for one," Alec admitted as he ate his chicken fillet sandwich, which was more dignified than getting his hands greasy with chicken pieces, which to him were a bit of a waste. "I was at a loss what to do after the trial was over of my last case and I decided to try to make up for leaving her. She seems to have finally forgiven me. So, I'm not the only one who is far away from home then?"
"Me?" Rose smiled, taking a drink. "I wanted to go out on my own, I spent a long time learning the photography business and it was too expensive to stay in London. I looked around at a few places and this isn't that far away from home really but a lot cheaper a place to live. The studio was ready to move in to, people remembered it even though I changed the name."
That out of the way, they ate in silence, Rose staring out of the window. Alec got up and put all their litter on the tray and Rose got up to leave. She thought if he felt awkward, so did she. They crossed back over the road and reached Alec's car, Alec wondering if hers was the flat directly above the shop. He doubted she was going to point it out though.
"See you on Wednesday then?" Rose asked him for the second or was it the third time?
"Yes, I will let you get back to what you would have been doing," he had to agree.
He watched Rose walk around the corner before going back to his car. Since when did he get all tongue-tied with a woman? He'd often told Miller she constantly over-compensated. Rose let herself into her flat, wondering what had just happened. She and Mickey had been over to the takeaway a few times after their arrival but Mickey had never stopped talking. She just saw him drive off as she got to the window, Alec having waited until she was out of sight, wishing he'd had the courage other than to ask her to get something to eat with him.
Rose thought that Alec Hardy had been shy to say the least, to say he'd probably driven out of his way to visit the store, if that was the real reason? Was he trying to chat her up she thought as she shook her head and switched on the TV and tried to get the idea out of her mind. At least it was sort of her day off tomorrow but she'd still be sort of working to brighten up the studio and order the extra print of Alec Hardy's daughter for him.
She had to smile at the thought he'd only decided to order another on the spur of the moment, as an excuse for being there. He'd probably half expected to see her leaving as he'd been going into the store next door, that much she'd gathered earlier but now she knew for definite he'd driven back down the road towards the town. She didn't need his detective skills to work things out.
Alec had driven back home, retrieving his few groceries from the back seat and still wondering what had come over him to invite her to get something to eat with him then hardly say a word after establishing why they were both in the town. He was certainly lacking in the art of talking to women apart from those he worked with or those he was interrogating.
Now, he was expecting her to give some of her day off up to order an extra print, which he had no idea how he was going to explain to Daisy he'd ordered. No, Rose wouldn't be thanking him for that, would she? Why was he even calling her that so easily?
He called Tess to say that things were beginning to fall into place for the move but she had sounded less than pleased about it.
"I'm not sure I want her to leave Alec," Tess admitted.
"We've talked about this Tess. She's unhappy here, we both know that," Alec told her.
"I know but now it's starting to happen? What if she can't settle?" Tess asked him.
"She can't settle here Tess, that's the whole point of taking her away," Alec replied. "Tess, let's not argue about this, we should do what's best for her."
"Don't you lecture me about what's best for Daisy," Tess snapped at him. "You could have made more of an effort after you solved the Broadchurch murder."
"Why are you even bringing that into it Tess? You know now I was ill back then, Daisy was barely talking to me and neither were you, seems you have forgotten that eh?" he snapped back, rubbing the back of his head and wondering why he was bothering.
He shuddered at remembering telling her he missed her as he'd admitted he was going for heart surgery the following day. He'd already known what the answer was going to be.
"It's always the same with you Alec," Tess began telling him. "Now you're taking her away, getting your own back on me for not telling her it was me who lost that evidence, even when I told you, well you know what I told you the day before your pacemaker operation and you took it as a sign I wanted you back."
Alec wasn't that surprised. "So you never meant it when you said you loved me for taking the blame then?" he asked, relieved now they'd never tried to make a second go of it, if it was going to make them fight again.
Now they just tolerated each other for Daisy's sake and to get two killers and an accomplice locked up. Now all that was over, she was showing her true colours.
"I'm not going into that with you on the phone Alec. Fine, if you want to go ahead and go back to Broadchurch, then make your plans but I don't want to know about them. Just make sure you bring her back once in a while so I don't forget what she looks like, like you probably did."
Then she wondered why he'd been reluctant to tell her of his surgery, he knew the answer when he'd asked her if it would have made any difference had she known. Now he just had to convince Daisy she was doing the right thing by making a fresh start in a new town. That he would face tomorrow after she got out of school.
The next day, Rose accessed her account with the print shop and ordered Alec's extra photo then set off to get the bus into town to get what she needed for the studio. She decided to splash out and get a taxi home with her purchases and opening the studio but pulling down the grill, set about printing out her photos. She'd just got some nice gold painted frames and was soon starting to hang them up, pleased with her efforts.
While she was doing that, Alec was trying again to get on with some work, trying to cover up the fact he couldn't get Rose Tyler off his mind. When he went to collect his photos tomorrow, he needed to apologise for being quiet last night and admit he'd gone out of his way just to get to see her when she'd told him earlier that day his photos hadn't come back but what would she think if he admitted such a thing to her?
Rose had finished what she was doing and caught up with her paperwork, well what to send off to the accountants anyway, which could all be done online since she'd thought it a wise move to engage the services of one. She was watching some late afternoon TV, one of her favourite American detective shows when her mother decided to call.
"So, did ya find out what that detective's doing in the town?" her mother asked her.
Rose thought she could have given her a chance.
"Not really, just his daughter lives here Mum," Rose could only tell her.
"Well I suppose that's a good enough reason," Jackie agreed. "So did ya make friends with him then?"
"Mum, I only met him once and again last night, he was going into the store next door as I was leaving," she admitted, already regretting it.
"So he lives near you then?" her mother wanted to know.
Jackie knew Rose and Mickey would only ever be friends now, whatever they had was long since over so if a now single detective was in the same town as her daughter, well Rose could do worse than taking up with him.
"So when's he coming to the studio again?" Jackie continued.
"Tomorrow," Rose had to admit, mainly to keep her mother quiet.
She saw no need in telling her he'd have to call back for a hastily added extra photo, she'd never hear the end of it. Just before five, she found herself getting up and standing by the window to see if his car pulled into the car park but why would he be there again if he knew the studio was closed? She made herself sit down, she was making a mountain out of a molehill of him calling at the store.
He could have chosen the store for numerous reasons such as there may not be one near where he did live although she recalled passing a few down the road towards town or it may have been closed. She knew she had to stop this, after he picked his photos up she'd either not see him again or he'd find excuses to keep calling in but that could either mean she wouldn't get rid of him or she'd get used to it. Did she want him to keep calling in though? That was the ultimate question but he was just another client, wasn't he?
Alec finished work and he'd resisted going past where he lived and calling at the store near the studio, it was her day off and if she'd been ordering the extra photo he'd decided to order at the last minute, she would have done so first thing. She had no reason to think he'd be hanging around again would she? Had she got suspicious last night and thought he'd made a point of going out of his way despite him knowing his order wouldn't be back?
He got in and decided to call Daisy to tell her things were moving along with leaving town and going back to Broadchurch. He'd looked up the rental agency's website and noted a few rentals still available but with not having an actual date, the choices had been limited.
He could only hope some were left or some new ones would come available but at least there was the caravan park nearby, he could take one for a few weeks until they got sorted. He got in and decided to call Daisy while he thought she'd still be around instead of studying or out with the few friends she had left, after what had happened. He was still annoyed Tess had left it all until she'd dealt with the problem, did she think he couldn't handle it?
"Hi Daisy," he greeted her as she answered. "Has your mum told you I should get a date for my transfer soon?"
"She mentioned something last night. So it's really happening?"
"Yes, as soon as I get a final date, we can make our plans but I'm going to call the college down there tomorrow then I'll have to call your present school and inform them," he told her.
"Don't you trust mum to do it?" Daisy asked him.
"She's not keen on you leaving now the time's near," he had to admit. "Daisy, why did you never come to me when you got into trouble?" he asked, never being given a proper answer.
"Mum told me not to say anything, she said if you'd not been here, she would have had to deal with it anyway. I wanted to tell you Dad."
"I know you did but by the time I found out, well I expect she dealt with it how she saw fit. So, I looked for somewhere to live though we may have to take a caravan for a week or two, it will just be like being on holiday."
"Yeah Dad, with you working," Daisy managed to laugh. "That's just it though, we won't be on holiday, will we?"
"Daisy, your mum works too you know?" he reminded her. "I may not have been here but I always asked about you every time I spoke to her but I expect she never bothered telling you?"
"Leave it Dad, you're here now," Daisy told him. "So, see you on Saturday then? Are you collecting the photos tomorrow, only I want to give one to gran."
"Yes, I will have them tomorrow," he agreed, not wanting to admit he was getting one for himself. "Are you not staying on Saturday night?"
"Yeah, I'll take it to her on Sunday Dad. Why, got a date or something?" she teased him.
"No, don't you go starting that again, I am just picking up the photos, nothing more," he tried to convince her and himself.
"If you say so Dad, though if you think you're fooling me?" she asked him.
He knew she was right, who was he trying to fool? Yes, he would go collect his order tomorrow and try to apologise for being quiet last night, then he'd have an excuse to call the following evening, hoping his extra photo wouldn't arrive at the same time, well it had better not be there. Still, there was no reason why he couldn't find a excuse to go back, if he lost his nerve and didn't ask her out for more than something to eat across the road.
He managed to resist the rest of the evening from getting in his car and driving down the road on the pretence of calling at the store again. She may be looking out of the window and think he was doing it intentionally, though she was probably already on to him and seen through his little plan of trying to catch her before she left last night, even though he had not intended driving there until he'd been almost at his street and driven straight past.
The next day was no better for either of them after a restless night. For Rose, she hoped if she sat by the window he'd pull up and see her, since she'd not indicated where she lived last night and for Alec, he wished he'd waited until he'd had some indication which was her flat before driving off.
Rose had a full day ahead as she opened and prepared for the sittings, plenty of young kids and babies again who were not quite of nursery age and she checked the bookings to see a few more had booked on Friday afternoon and into the following week but Saturday still hadn't gone beyond one. She figured people had other things to do and maybe the other studio owner had closed on Saturday afternoons so she'd give it another week and then take the appointments away after twelve and just open in the morning.
By lunchtime, Alec was counting how long it was before he could justify leaving early again. He'd convinced himself that he shouldn't keep Rose after hours just waiting for him to collect his order and since almost everyone in the office had been expecting him to sneak off early again last night, he didn't want to disappoint them two days in a row. His DC had given him a funny look whenever she'd got up and he wondered what the betting was now.
It had gone from if he was going to get a transfer to who guessed who the unlucky chief was who he'd worn down to take him, unless the CS at his old station had been unlucky enough to have that pleasure. DS Mills was favourite as he'd been convinced Alec missed his old work colleague whom it had been suggested they'd been having an affair.
When Alec went for his lunch, trying to resist the urge of going where he'd taken Rose on Monday night, which was really out of his way, DS Mills had announced he was bound to win the bet.
"No way Sir," Sandra had told him when everyone looked at him. He shushed everyone as they started to agree with her. "Sir, he never even talks about her," Sandra continued.
"Yeah, of course he doesn't," the DS told her. "That's why he wants to go back, he still misses her. We'll see who's right," he scoffed.
"Sorry Sir but how are you going to do that, he won't admit it," Sandra reminded him.
"We'll see Hunter," he replied smugly.
Sandra went back to work, there was no way Hardy would ever admit the real reason he wanted to leave, she could only think it was because things weren't going well with the reconciliation with his daughter and he'd finally admitted defeat. Either that or she was going with him she supposed.
By four in the afternoon, Alec was once again climbing the wall, trying to convince himself Rose would stay open until he got there, since she was still there the other night just after five and he could justify leaving at half four without too much fuss. How he'd managed to drive straight home last night, he didn't really know and he'd spent most of the evening regretting it.
Once he'd collected his photos, he only really had one more excuse of collecting the extra one then what would he do? He'd have to come right out and ask her out, properly, not to the fast-food chicken place though everyone started somewhere but he couldn't even hold a conversation for thirty minutes, let alone take her out for a proper meal. He told himself to get a grip – she may not even want to see him again after tomorrow, since he'd made a nuisance of himself and given himself an excuse to call round an extra day.
Rose was finishing with her last sitting, a cute six month old baby girl dressed in a pink and white dress who had been giggling and trying to crawl away. She let the mother and baby out then started tidying up, leaving the coffee maker on in case Alec wanted a drink but she remembered he drank tea the other night. She had prepared his invoice for the extra photo, giving him discount and hoping the accountants wouldn't question it.
Just before five, Alec had made his excuses, causing everyone to start laughing at his futile attempts to cover up the fact he either was chasing a woman or he was packing to leave, the favourite now being the first. Sandra was still trying to defend him for some strange reason.
"Come on Sandra, what's he been like the last few days?" Maria Bates, a young civilian secretary asked her. "I tell ya, he's got a woman stashed away somewhere and he's sneaking off to meet her from work or something."
"Well he didn't leave early last night," Sandra reminded her, wondering why she was defending the DI when all he did was complain about her driving and she'd had to stop herself suggesting he drove around on his own in future.
Maybe she would once they found out exactly when he was leaving.
"Well maybe he didn't want to give the game away?" someone laughed.
"You lot got nothing else to do?" DS Mills asked, making himself a coffee in the break area.
It had taken Alec twenty minutes or so but it was only ten past five and he found a parking spot. Would he be brave enough to ask her out properly, maybe Friday night, before he completely blew any chance she might be interested in him? Daisy had almost seen through his reason for asking if she was staying on Saturday night, she was on to him.
Rose was sitting staring at her laptop, waiting for the buzzer and Alec's arrival. She felt all funny, like she was nervous and excited all at once but all she could think about was she wouldn't maybe see him again after tomorrow, unless he went into the store again, which was very unlikely. If he'd wanted to ask her out, he'd have done more than take her across the road and clam up after ten minutes of small talk, wouldn't he?
As if she wasn't expecting the buzzer being so loud, she jumped as she heard it and almost toppled the chair to go answer. She thought she'd be careful, just in case it either wasn't him or she'd sound too keen.
"Hello," she answered, trying not to sound like she was being too enthusiastic about it.
"Hello, it's Alec Hardy, you were expecting me?" he asked hopeful, as if she didn't already know it was him at this time – she was being as coy about this as he was and maybe it was time to do something about it?
Rose pressed the talk button again. "Yeah, come in, I'd not forgotten," she replied, smiling to herself.
Alec noticed the tone of her voice as he heard the door being released. How could she have forgotten when she'd told him at least three times she'd see him today?
"Hi again," Rose smiled, trying to hide behind the sleeve of her pink hooded top whilst leaning on the corner of her now tidy desk, the laptop open.
"Hello again, Rose. Hope I haven't kept you waiting?" he asked, knowing full well he had but she'd been willing to do so.
"Nah, I had some work to do, like preparing your invoice for the extra photo, which will be back tomorrow. I can post it, if ya want?" she offered, wondering if he'd be willing to offer his address, not that she'd have the nerve to go around or anything.
"I would not want to put you to any extra trouble Rose," he smiled. "I can finish early tomorrow, I can be here for around ten to five, save you waiting," he offered, getting out his bank card as Rose offered the card reader to him and pressed the key to print the invoice out.
"Yeah, great. So, here they are," she tried not to blush as she picked the package up and he took them, touching her hand in doing so. "Hope you like them?"
He took the plastic bag which Rose had passed to him and glanced at the top one then opened the bag to see it properly, the two large ones being identical so Tess and her mother couldn't argue who had the best one. He supposed he could have taken one of the four smaller ones, had he not been so bothered she'd think he was hanging around on purpose the other night, which he had been really.
"These are really good," he told her, opening the four smaller ones.
"Thanks, glad you like them, I've never had any complaints," she grinned, settling back on the desk again.
"I'm sure you haven't Rose," Alec had to agree. "So, I will be back tomorrow then you will finally be rid of me."
"Aw, don't say that," she smiled. "You've been one of my best customers."
"Really?" he asked, thinking she was just saying that. "You've had worse? I mean those coming around before the photos were due back?"
"I post most of them Alec. I only get a few parents who pop in while they're shopping or getting their kids from school, then I think they get embarrassed while the kids are fighting while they look at them," she replied, seeing he was getting distracted looking at the walls.
"Did you also take those photos?" he asked.
"Yeah, when I worked in London, well of course they're of London," she laughed.
Alec had to smile back. If he wasn't quick enough, she'd meet someone else and that would be that so he told himself to get a move on and ask her out but since she was working, where else would she meet anyone? Well maybe expect men coming into the studio, as he had done and taken an instant shine to her.
Alec took another look around, there were no security cameras visible but maybe she'd think he was forever on duty if he were to mention their absence.
"So, I'll see ya tomorrow, for your other photo?" Rose asked, since it was time she went home, not that there was any rush she supposed.
"Yes, tomorrow then? Like I said, you will be rid of me then," he smiled, folding the plastic bag.
Rose wondered why he thought she'd be glad to get rid of him, he was the one who'd clammed up the other night. She knew he was stalling but maybe she was just imagining it?
"I was wondering whether you would maybe like to go out on Friday night, for a proper meal?" he finally asked as she turned her laptop off and unplugged it.
"Oh, right. Yeah, that would be nice, I don't go out much really, being new around here. I think there are a few pubs up the road that do meals," Rose replied. "On one condition though," she teased him.
"What might that be?" he asked as she locked everything away then switched off the coffee maker.
"That maybe you'll talk a bit more?" she smiled, turning around.
"Yes, I apologise for that but I am really only used to talking to a teenager while eating. My daughter usually does all the talking, I just nod," he smiled back. "I believe that's what all dads do with teenagers?"
Rose stopped on her way to the door, following him out. He turned around since she wasn't beside him at the door.
"Rose, is something wrong?" he asked, sounding concerned.
"What? Oh, well it's just I wouldn't know, my dad died when I was a baby," she had to admit.
Alec walked back to where she was standing and touched her arm.
"Then I am very sorry to hear that, I had no idea that was the case. Some of my work colleagues talk amongst themselves about their teenagers, that was all I meant."
"It's fine Alec, you weren't to know. It's like getting tons of junk emails about buying presents for father's day, they don't care you may not have one. Sorry, I'm just rambling."
"Rose, I lost my mother when I was a teenager but I got to spend a lot more time with her than you did your dad. Mine's still up in Scotland, he moved to a remote island to live with my aunt. We don't communicate very much," he admitted, realizing he was still touching her arm.
He gently rubbed her arm and then moved his hand.
"I try not to let it get to me," Rose told him as he went to open the door.
"I'm a good listener," he smiled as the door was released.
"You don't want to listen to my problems," Rose smiled as he offered to pull the grill down.
"Well it seems I'm a better listener than a talker," he smiled back as she offered the padlock to him she had in her hand when he pointed to it.
"Well, the offer is there, you may not see me after you accept my invitation, you may get tired of doing all the talking," he warned her as they stepped away from the studio. "So, is that your apartment just above?" he asked, pointing up at the purple blinds.
"Yeah, how'd ya guess?" Rose grinned.
"Since it's over your studio?" he suggested.
"Okay, I'll give ya that one," Rose laughed as they turned back, Alec's car a few feet away.
Alec was stubbing his toe on a stone, thinking of something to say back when he thought he would either put her off altogether or show a bit more interest in her before someone else did.
"So, is there anywhere else to get food around here apart from across the road?" he asked, since he didn't fancy going home and making something.
"The Chinese at the end there," Rose pointed. "They do a mean mushroom omelette and the chips are gorgeous, I keep meaning to go back."
Alec saw his chance. "Then maybe now is the time, if you are hungry?"
She only nipped out to the bakery for lunch. "Yeah, I only take half an hour for lunch. They should be quiet at this time, if ya wanna wait?"
"Then after you," he gestured, now seeing the familiar yellow sign most takeaways had.
"You're taking it home or eating in your car?" Rose teased him, something she was liking.
Alec thought she was trying to find out how far away he lived and if his visit to the store had been justified the other night.
"I will take it home unless I get a better offer?" he teased her back as they crossed the roadway to the other part of the shopping area.
Rose thought she could take a hint. "Well I suppose I could offer you a drink to go with it?"
"Then I accept, if you don't mind some company? You did say I had to make more of an effort to talk?" he replied as they reached the takeaway and Alec got his specs out to read the menu in the window.
"Don't fancy the omelette then?" Rose smiled, thinking he looked cute wearing the rimless glasses.
Alec had long since given up being vain about wearing them.
"I find some of them are not to my liking," he replied, wondering what the difference between an omelette and egg fu yung was.
"I said they were okay Alec, some are thin and flat but these are nice, they put onions in and fold it around the mushrooms but I can never eat a whole one, my friend came down to help me set up, we shared," Rose told him, not wanting to elaborate too much and send him running.
"When you say friend?" he dared ask.
"My ex, we're still friends. He's back in London, you're safe," Rose grinned as he took his glasses off and folding them, put them back in his top pocket. "Mind you, he got most of it."
Alec wondered why he'd suddenly thought he may have a rival. "Care to share then?" he suggested, since she'd invited him back to eat.
"Why not?" Rose smiled as they entered.
Alec left it to Rose to order but offered to pay so while they waited, they sat on the window seat.
"Rose, you wait here and I will go to the store and get a bottle of something?" he suggested, hating waiting around for food.
"Yeah, how about some sparking wine? That goes with anything really and not really alcoholic."
"Sure, I will go and you can wait for me on the corner?" he asked.
"Yeah, you get to my flat behind the shops, there's some steps and a balcony," she told him, not fancying waiting on the corner since residents would be coming home, those that didn't work there.
"Fine, I will find you if you are there before me," he agreed, heading for the door.
He walked back to his car and put the photos on the back seat, face down and wondered why he'd not done it before going in the takeaway but his suggestion had been spontaneous, like going to the store the other night in the hope of seeing Rose. He knew she'd been trying to find out where he lived, he'd not offered his address since he wanted to collect the photos so he now had an unfair advantage.
He looked around to see if Rose had got out and not seeing her, went into the store, going to the drinks section and finding a non-alcoholic wine and picked up a box of chocolates on his way to the checkout. As he was getting served, Rose had collected the order and started walking back, hoping he wouldn't change his mind and drive off but it had been his idea. She could have refused or made him eat in his car but that would have got her nowhere, he had invited her out on Friday night after all.
She saw Alec coming out of the store and waved and he waited on the corner for her to catch up. She led him around the back of the shops and up the steps, stopping at her door. Alec took the plastic carrier from her as she went to open the door, some letters behind it. Rose glanced at them since most of them had no actually address on the front, not that anyone would be writing to her about the studio when she had a business address. She'd also noticed Alec had something under his arm.
He followed her into the kitchen, putting everything on the round table next to her letters she'd thrown down.
"For you, for inviting me in," he smiled, offering her the chocolates as she went to get some plates and glasses.
"You paid for the food," she called back at him as he took the carton out after trying not to let the chips fall onto the table.
He put them on the red chequered tablecloth as Rose came back to the table. He helped her dish out the food, seeing she had a point about large portions, there was plenty for both of them and he opened the bottle and poured out the drinks.
"So, no talking about teenagers or dads then?" Alec smiled as they ate.
"Yeah, bad subjects. My mum said I was a rebel when I became one, with not having anyone to stop me," Rose told him.
"I let her mother bring her up from the age of twelve, we were fighting and I moved out. Then we got divorced, a case fell apart and I then moved away," Alec admitted, thinking he may as well get it out of the way. "So why Sandbrook of all places?"
"I looked around, this had the potential since it had only recently closed," Rose admitted. "So you came back to make up with your daughter? Did it bother you, since you must have left for a few reasons?"
"You mean letting a killer walk free?" he asked, raising his eyebrows as he took a drink.
"You got them in the end, I looked it up yesterday," she admitted. "What brought you here in the first place then, you're a long way from home?"
Alec never really talked about his reasons but Rose seemed interested.
"Maybe I should leave that so I have something to talk about on Friday night eh?" he replied.
Rose saw his point since she had given him a hint earlier she expected him to talk to her if he took her out again. She smiled across the table at him, Alec taking it that she agreed it would give him something to talk about. The meal finished, he offered to help clear up, he'd already taken his jacket off before he'd sat down.
"So, you think your daughter will be pleased with her photos?" Rose asked as he washed the plates.
"I doubt she'll be wanting one," Alec admitted. "One is for her mum, one for her gran and the others, her mother will probably take one to work to put on her desk and the others for various relatives of hers."
"Good thing you ordered another then?" Rose smiled as she picked up the cutlery and Alec went to dry his hands. "Was that your intention when I saw you the other night?"
"Truthfully?" he asked as he crossed back to the kitchen chair to retrieve his jacket. He thought he'd best not overstay his welcome. "Well you took me by surprise when you came outside, I was going to press the buzzer and just ask if by any chance the photos were early."
"So you lost your nerve when you saw me?" Rose grinned, resting on the chair next to him.
"Not exactly, I thought if I came out and asked you, you'd get annoyed and say it was too early and you'd told me when they were back," he admitted.
"Thought I did?" Rose laughed, tipping the chair slightly.
Alec saw the funny side, resting his hands on his jacket and moving one to stop her falling as she recovered. He raised his eyebrows and saw now the difference he'd made to Daisy.
"Yes, well I never was one for taking any notice of what I was told. So, why did you think I was there?"
"When you pressed the buzzer when I said see ya on Wednesday?" Rose grinned, trying not to tip the chair again. Alec nodded, going back to leaning on the chair.
"That maybe you were apologizing for being a bit keen? That or you, I don't know, needed your photo taken," Rose teased him, poking her tongue out slightly at the side of her mouth.
"Why would I want a photo of myself?" Alec tried to ask seriously. "My daughter does not need reminding of what I look like, her mother however seems to think she needs reminding what her daughter looks like."
"Aw, I'm sure that's not the case Alec, if you asked her? It was Daisy wasn't it, her name?"
"Yes, though before I came back she did not seem to know I existed, well until she got a reminder," he replied, remembering Daisy suddenly took an interest when she found out he'd gone back to his old case.
"So I can't tempt you then?" Rose asked him, deciding she was asking for trouble tipping the chair since he was watching her.
"You would be wasting your time Rose," he smiled, finally going for his jacket.
That made Rose move away from the chair.
"I'm sure you have better things to do Rose?" Alec asked her, putting his jacket on. "Enjoy your chocolates and thank you for making me welcome."
"It was nice to have some company. I was thinking about maybe getting a cat, since there'd be no point getting a dog," she admitted.
Alec was wondering why half the male population in the area weren't already making a move on her.
"Yes, cats tend to look after themselves, so I've been told. See you tomorrow then? Thank you again, I may go back to the takeaway again at some point but Friday, I will look up places to go, if you still want to?"
"Yeah, I said it would be nice to actually go out. Friday's fine Alec," Rose assured him.
They walked to the door and Alec opened it, going out onto the balcony.
"So, residents park down there?" he nodded to the row of cars and saw an empty spot.
"Yeah, some cheat and try to take mine, I told them good and proper it was my space, even though I don't have a car, I pay for it," Rose told him.
"I can see your point Rose," Alec smiled as she joined him at the railing. "Your friend may pay you a visit?"
"Yeah, Mickey's a bit spontaneous, I should tell him to give me warning if he's gonna visit, especially if my mum gets him to bring her as well."
"You need warning if your mother is going to visit?" Alec joked.
"Oh, trust me Alec, if you met her, you'd know why," Rose giggled.
"Thank you for the warning," he smiled, taking her hand and kissing the back of it.
"Night then. See ya tomorrow, for your photo," Rose reminded him, blushing slightly as he held onto her hand.
"My photo?" he asked, sure he'd made it clear he didn't want it taking, well maybe not yet.
That depended on Friday night, if he needed another excuse to pay her a visit or if she took more than a liking to him as he had done her.
Rose saw the worried look on his face and covered her own, trying not to laugh.
"I meant to collect your other photo, Alec," she assured him.
That was a relief to him. "Yes, sorry. I was sure I told you I did not require my own photo taking just yet."
"Just yet?" she asked hopefully.
"Well there may come a time I suppose, not that I can think of one just yet," he tried to not sound like he was saying no full-stop.
"Right. Night then?" Rose replied, wondering why he was taking his time again.
He was about to turn to go down to his car when she called after him and he turned back.
"Since you'll be calling for your photo tomorrow, maybe I can cook something for you, well maybe not at that time but you could come back? Since you took me out the other night and bought the food tonight, I mean as a thank you?" she asked him, leaning on the doorframe.
"That's most kind of you Rose. Since I will be going home to cook for myself, then I accept your invitation. I will collect my photo and give you time to prepare something then," he agreed.
He thought why not? She hadn't yet run away from him though after Friday she may do, if he got up the courage to ask her out further and tell her he could be leaving town in a few weeks time. Until then though, Rose would be pleasant company, if she agreed to continue seeing him without him making up excuses all the time.
"It won't be much," she added as he was about to turn again.
"I'm sure it will be fine, don't go to any trouble," he half blushed at her going to get something special to impress him.
"I'm sure I can find something. See ya around five tomorrow then, yeah?" she asked him.
That agreed, Alec went off back to his car, seeing Rose's space was empty and maybe when he came back tomorrow night, he'd park there as a warning to her neighbours to tell their visitors not to use it. Rose went through to the lounge and watched him drive off. She'd been worried he was just stringing her along, he'd made two excuses up to come round and she thought he was going to do nothing about it but going out on Friday with him would make a nice change.
As Alec got home, he decided he should come clean with her, well after Friday, since he may not have that problem after then. If she wanted to see him again, he had to make it clear Daisy came first on Saturdays but he'd wanted her to start staying on Friday night as well but since she'd been teasing him about Rose, she may accept Rose coming around for a meal to see how they'd get on.
He wished he'd dared asked her for her personal phone number, he'd not offered his though but maybe tomorrow they may exchange them. Rose was tempted to call her mother with the latest development but thought she'd see how they got on tomorrow night – he may not like her cooking and there wouldn't be much to tell.
The next morning, Rose decided to go to the store early and get some pasta sauce and some desert for Alec's visit but as she was going to take her shopping back, a blue car passed her going towards the parking area and as she got to the corner, the car was in her space, even though there was clearly a residents only sign. Rose waited as the man got out and she didn't know him.
"Hey, that's my space you know?" Rose called to him indignantly, pointing to the sign since he'd covered the painted number on the ground. "This is residents only mate, use the front car park."
"Don't see a car there love or I wouldn't have parked there, would I?" the man replied as he bypassed her and headed to the other block.
"Hey, move it mate or do I call the police? Actually, no, I'll just call my friend, he's a detective and he'll send someone. If ya visiting someone over there, park in their spot."
"Come on love, it's just a parking spot, no big deal," the man laughed.
"Then move it or I'll follow ya and tell the person you're visiting I'll report them to the landlord," Rose persisted, thinking this was going to make her late, since she had things to do.
Just then, a woman leaned over the other railing.
"Hey, Carl, what's going on?" the woman asked.
"I don't know, ask your picky neighbour, she told me off for parking in her spot," the man replied.
"Tell your friend to park in the other car park," Rose called up. "If ya don't. I'm calling the landlord, I pay for that space, I don't know you or him so he moves or I make the call."
"Geez, chill love, I'll move, if there's any spaces at the front but you can't blame anyone if you don't have a car parked there," the man huffed, getting his car key out and pressing the remote button.
"Well my friend won't be pleased if he comes round and you've taken his space, trust me," Rose huffed back, thinking it unlikely but she'd not been expecting him on Monday night either, he was more spontaneous than Mickey was.
She went upstairs, put the shopping on the table and the dessert in the fridge and went back out, as the man was going up the other steps. She thought she'd call the rental agency anyway to complain, though she didn't expect they'd do much about it. Now though, she'd told two people Alec was a friend, she just hoped he wanted to do something about it because she found herself wanting to.
As she got to the bottom step, the man called over to her.
"Happy now? I wasn't staying long."
"Well I never know when he's coming round, he's liable to call a traffic warden and give ya a ticket," Rose warned him, not thinking Alec would but she didn't know him that well – not yet anyway.
She got around to the studio, looking at the no overnight parking sign but seeing nothing that gave a time limit. She doubted wardens would come around late at night to check but residents may complain to the council if a car was there at an early hour.
She had just finished with her first sitting when the buzzer sounded that the man from the print shop had arrived, it was that time.
"Hi Rose," he greeted her as she let him in.
"Hi, sorry, you never gave me your name," Rose grinned as he made her sign for the delivery.
"It's Steve, I've been coming for a while now," he laughed. "So, you settling in then?" he asked, looking at the photos on the wall. "They brighten the place up," he added.
"Yeah, some of my earlier work. I really have to get these ready for posting," Rose told him as he turned away from them.
"You should sell them, give us more work," he grinned. "Do you fancy maybe going out for a drink sometime then? Since you're new to the area?"
"Sorry, I'm seeing someone already, we met last week when he came in," Rose replied, well she was sort of seeing Alec, if all went well.
"No worries but if you change your mind?" he asked, going for the door buzzer.
As he left, Rose thought that was three people she'd told before her mother, it would be all over the town before she got around to telling her at this rate. Still, Alec may want to make nothing out of it but she didn't fancy Steve like she did Alec.
Everyone noticed Alec again, he hadn't been in quite as bad a mood the last few days and rumours were running riot around the office that he most definitely had got himself a girlfriend and DC Hunter had been elected to find out.
"No way, I'm not asking him," she'd told everyone when they looked at her before Alec got there.
"Well he talks to you more than he does any of us," someone called out.
"Who does?" Alec asked as he walked in and went to make a drink.
Sandra thought if he was so clever, he'd work it out.
"Nothing Sir, morning," Sandra muttered as she went back to work.
"I should hope not either and you lot, I told you not to bet when I was leaving. You could get far worse than me," he told the office in general, looking at Mills.
Sandra had to stop herself from laughing as Alec went in his office. Last week he would have bitten everyone's heads off. Alec decided to leave it until Monday before annoying his boss again about his transfer. He'd just met Rose and now he had to tell her he'd only be here another six weeks at the most, once the other DI got to know when he was leaving.
Did he still want to go? Daisy needed a fresh start and Tess was beginning to start arguing again even though he was in better health. He couldn't go through that again even for Daisy to stay here but she was unhappy about moving out of the safety of the school and catching up with her so-called friends who'd got her into trouble.
By the time he could sneak out again, he'd heard nothing about his transfer and the CS must have been relieved he'd not asked about it, the CS would surely think he'd either changed his mind or he'd found a reason to delay and wasn't in that much of a hurry to leave after all. Perhaps he wasn't now he'd met Rose?
Rose had done her post and had it ready to take down the road, which was why she only got half an hour for her lunch, less if the post office was busier than normal, then she had to buy something and eat it later. She went out just before twelve and saw the car she'd told the driver of it to move earlier and smiled at her small victory but some other prize idiot would try it at some point. She got back and entered the bakery, the woman she'd argued with earlier being served so Rose tried to ignore her as another assistant asked what she wanted.
"You didn't have to tell him to move," the woman goaded her
"It's the principle of it," Rose replied. "He could have parked in front and walked around, he looked like he was able to. Think yourself lucky I've not called the agency."
"Well you don't have a car," the woman continued.
"What's wrong now?" the older woman behind the counter asked as she came back from making her sandwich.
"Oh, just non-residents having the nerve to pinch someone's parking spot," Rose informed her as she chose a pastry.
"Everyone knows, it's resident's only," the woman agreed.
"Well she doesn't have a car," the resident repeated for the other woman's benefit. "She says her friend parks there."
"Well visitors can use the spaces with the resident's permission," the other assistant joined in.
Rose thought for a newcomer, she was getting defended against an older resident.
"Well I have a car but I don't live above," the older assistant informed them as Rose paid her. "I use the front."
"You're stopping shoppers then," the argumentative resident continued as she got her change. "Which is why my friend came around the back in the first place," she huffed as she picked up the white paper bags and walked out.
Rose burst out laughing.
"You can't win with people like her dear," the older woman told Rose. "How are you settling in?"
"Fine, apart from meeting her," Rose managed to reply.
She wondered if she should get a traffic cone and leave it there then wondered if Alec could sneak one out for her.
Alec was just leaving around four thirty when the chief entered his office.
"Alec, I got a call from your ex-wife earlier, asking when your transfer was going to be."
"What? She didn't want anything to do with the arrangements I was making," Alec told him.
"Well I told her it was up to you to inform her, not me. So, she's that bad is she?" the chief asked, feeling sorry for Alec.
"She has her moments," Alec replied, trying not to make it look like he was sneaking off again.
"Has it put you off for good then?" the chief asked, looking like he was staying.
"Off women? No, I just met someone actually though it's early days yet," he admitted, thinking the chief had been elected to find out or he'd started the rumours.
"Not early enough you've been finishing early though?" the chief questioned him.
"I had to go collect some photos my ex wife insisted I had taken of our daughter and the studio closes at five," Alec told him. "I have an extra one to collect, I cut down on my lunch break to make up for the time," he added.
"Then don't let me stop you," the chief smiled, getting up off the corner of the desk. "So if you met someone, does she know you're leaving?"
"Not yet, she may get tired of me before then anyway. I still want the transfer," Alec replied, putting his jacket on.
"I know, maybe you're getting it for the wrong reasons though?" the chief asked him as he went to the door. "Don't let your ex wife drive you away. You came back for your daughter, not for her if I recall?"
"Yes and I don't want my daughter to see us arguing again," Alec replied, thinking Rose would now wait for him anyway.
"You think getting a new girlfriend is going to change things?" the chief wanted to know.
"Maybe? She accepted her mother's married boyfriend," Alec replied, knowing it wasn't a secret what Tess had done.
"Then have they met?" the chief asked, thinking that should be fun.
"Yes, my daughter has met her but Rose has not agreed to be my girlfriend yet. Like I said, it's in the early stages," Alec admitted, thinking it was a good thing Rose was used to him being late.
"You sound confident she will be," the chief told him. "I've heard the bets that are going around, put a stop to them one way or another Alec. I know you can't settle the when you are being transferred one but stop the one where it's about you having a girlfriend or not."
"Then if you let me go, Sir, I will go collect the extra photo I ordered of my daughter to put on my desk," Alec told him.
"How's that going to stop the rumours?" the chief wanted to know.
"Because my prospective girlfriend is the one who took it – she's the photographer," Alec admitted, hoping no-one had heard him.
Alec thought there – he'd admitted he was pursuing Rose and he could be forgiven for the pun she had captured his mended heart. He wasn't yet going to admit anything to those in the office, let them guess a bit longer but he'd put a stop to the betting.
He stood in the doorway as the chief walked off and waited until everyone looked up.
"The chief super is not happy about you lot betting as to if and when I am leaving or now, that I have a girlfriend," he stated as the last one put the phone down. "Hunter, who started the betting?" he put poor Sandra on the spot.
"That would be me," Mills spoke up. "It's not betting if no money's changed hands Sir, it's just a bit of office gossip."
"Really?" Alec asked, crossing his arms and thinking he'd keep Rose waiting even longer now. "Well keep it that way Mills, you're in line to get my job when I do go so don't screw it up. As for the other part, I have made a friend but she has not yet agreed to be my girlfriend so nothing has happened yet, not that I'll tell if something does. It could go either way, now get back to work."
Sandra dared to follow him into his office as he put his jacket on.
"Sir, I didn't start those rumours, just so you know but you have been different the last few days and everyone's noticed," she told him.
"I never said it was you who started them Hunter, since you’re my DC, I would have thought you would know who did? If you must know, I am in a better mood because my daughter agreed to go with me when I get my transfer," he admitted.
"That's good news sir," she replied. "If you are leaving and you're thinking of asking this woman to be your girlfriend, well that puts paid to that, doesn't it?"
"Does it? She's not my girlfriend yet, we've only met a few times. I am taking her out tomorrow, she will probably run."
Sandra stood back as Alec passed her, nodding for her to close the door. As soon as he'd left, DS Mills leaned on his desk.
"So much for that then?" he asked. "Who's in line to win anyway?"
Alec drove towards Rose's studio, having to bypass the town centre and hoping it wouldn't be busy as he took the exit home then drove past his street and wondering why he was still in denial. He hoped they could make something of it but Rose would probably tell him she couldn't get involved if he was leaving in a few weeks. He thought if she wanted a long-distance relationship, she would not have agreed to let him take her out if she'd left someone behind.
Rose didn't know why she was getting nervous as she pulled the shutter halfway down since it was well after five. She knew Alec would be able to reach the buzzer when he did arrive, as he'd done before. She also knew this was getting to be a habit of her waiting for him but she sort of liked it and he must be sneaking out early to avoid being even later.
The photo was all ready for Alec, he'd paid for it so she'd put everything away except for her main camera, hoping he'd change his mind about letting her take some. She thought if he saw the camera, he might take the hint. She almost jumped again as the buzzer sounded.
He spoke before she had chance to. "Hi, it's Alec," he spoke up, not that he usually introduced himself other than Hardy or DI Hardy.
"Yeah, come in Alec," she told him as she pressed the button, smiling as she remembered he'd almost gone for the wrong one the other might. "Hi," she greeted him as she saw him half pull the grill down after him.
Rose had been thanking the previous occupant it was a light-weight grill, not one of the heavy ones or she'd never have managed.
"Hi, I got held up as I was leaving, sorry," he apologized, looking around again at no visible cameras because it now bothered him she was working alone.
"Something wrong?" Rose smiled as she picked up the photo of Daisy.
"No. Well maybe the lack of a security camera?" he dared ask, thinking she'd tell him to stop being a detective.
"Yeah, I should get one maybe? I've no idea about them though," she admitted.
"Then maybe I could point out a few things? You only really need a webcam and place it on the wall, if you get a wireless one. Your laptop should pick it up if you have an in-built camera or it will come with software. I'm no expert but I could ask someone and maybe help you?" he suggested.
Rose thought he was definitely still trying to still find excuses to pay her a visit even though she'd invited him around later and he was taking her out tomorrow night.
"Well I could go ask at the store and tell them what I want it for but I could use some help setting it up?" she smiled.
"Then I would be happy to do so," he smiled back as he took the photo. "Are you ready to leave, only you have left your camera out."
"Oh, I thought you might change your mind, about having your photo taken?" she grinned.
"I had enough of that Rose, being in the newspapers and the last time I posed, the Broadchurch Echo was doing an article about me just before the Joe Miller trial, some time ago. I told you, there is no reason."
"What if you go back and leave your daughter here?" Rose asked.
Alec wondered if he should just admit it, then she'd tell him to forget about later and their 'date' tomorrow night. Did she consider it as a date as such though?
"If I were to leave, I would hope she would go with me, things are not going so well for her here," he admitted.
"Sorry, it's non of my business. I was always in trouble when I was her age, trust me."
"You had no-one around Rose, I left before she was a teenager, her mother had her own ideas of raising her. She's also a police officer and if not for that fact, Daisy would have been in serious trouble. The friends who got her into it have not forgiven her and are making it difficult for her," he admitted, thinking it not such a good idea to go into further details.
"Sorry. Sure I can't tempt you for a photo?" she smiled, crossing to the camera. "I could take it but not get it printed, then if you change your mind?"
Alec put Daisy's photo down on her now tidy desk. He knew she wouldn't stop until he agreed.
"Well okay then, just take one and keep it somewhere, if I ever leave without my daughter, she can ask you to print it out," he relented.
Rose smiled and indicated for him to sit on the stool and moved the chair out of the way.
"I don't need a background either," he continued as he fastened his top button and adjusted his tie but Rose stopped him.
"Take the tie off Alec, it's not an ID photo," she joked.
He unfastened the tie again and two shirt buttons and ran his fingers through his hair.
"You should have given me some warning Rose," he smiled as he perched on the edge of the stool and thinking he was almost as bad as Rose had been with the chair.
"Where's the fun in that?" Rose replied, looking through the viewfinder to get the best angle.
Alec shook his head and tried to look like he wanted to do this. If it had been anyone but Rose, he wouldn't have entertained the idea.
"Just keep looking away from the camera if it helps?" she suggested as she took a few shots to see the lighting was right. "Don't look so nervous."
"Easy for you to say. Are you still cooking tonight?" he asked nervously.
"Yeah and you'll never guess what happened this morning when I went back to take my shopping before work?" she asked him. Alec shook his head. "Some bloke had the cheek to drive past me and park in my parking bay. I gave him a right telling off and the woman he was visiting had a go at me in the bakery at lunchtime," she continued, cutting a long story short.
"Did you get him to move?" he asked, wondering if he'd have to come back to the front car park later.
"Yeah, he moved, he was still there at lunch time and he said he wasn't staying that long. He had the nerve to say it was only a parking space," she told him. "Right, I'll download these to my laptop, come and take a look."
He'd not realised she'd finished as she took the small digital card out and placed it in the card reader. He got off the stool and joined her, leaning on the back of her chair.
"You take good photos Rose," he smiled, getting his specs out of his pocket as he stared at a dozen or so shots, all of him looking more relaxed than he'd actually felt.
Then he remembered back to when Daisy had been in and Rose had kept her talking and realised how she worked, getting people to not actually think they were posing.
"Works every time," Rose smiled. "Try telling two year old twins not to move or two older boys not to push each other, I just let people be natural."
"I see it works," he had to agree as Rose labelled the folder as 'Alec' without his surname.
He thought she must intend remembering him even if their date tomorrow night ended in disaster but she'd probably just delete them. She closed down her laptop and went to put it away with her camera.
"Seriously Rose, go get a camera and I will put it up for you on Monday. I'm surprised your friend did not install one for you," he told her. "What if men come in on their own?"
"Like you?" Rose smiled.
"That's not the point Rose. You could get a student who fancies his chances or someone comes back on a false pretence." Then he realised that could be him and saw Rose looking at him then bursting out laughing. "Okay, yes, I am guilty of coming back under false pretences but you see what I mean?"
"Yeah, I get it. The guy who delivers the photos came in again this morning and asked if I wanted to go for a drink with him," she admitted as she turned off the coffee maker.
"You took him up on his offer?" Alec asked worriedly, thinking he maybe had a rival.
He shouldn't have been so surprised he was the only one trying to make a play for her.
"Nah, I told him I was seeing someone," Rose smiled as Alec opened the door and she switched off the lights.
Alec felt his mended heart skip, something he'd forgotten what it felt like. Had she left someone behind after all or had someone been in and beaten him to it? If so, what was she doing eating out with him and inviting him back tonight? He watched her after he pulled the grill down and took the lock.
"I see then?" was all he could think of. "So is it wise you inviting me to eat with you again?"
"What? Oh, you took it the wrong way Alec, it was just a polite way of telling him I wasn't interested. What did ya think I meant?"
Alec wasn't sure what she meant. "That you are already seeing someone? What else? Have you already met someone?" he had to know before he made more of a fool of himself.
"What? No, geez Alec, I was just tryin' to get rid of the guy and besides, I only meant I was sort of seeing someone."
"Sort of? What does than mean?" he asked, still confused what she actually meant.
"Well you went to get something to eat with me the other night and came back to eat with me last night, so I suppose we're sort of seeing each other or did I get it wrong?" Rose replied, aware they were still outside the studio.
Alec let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "We are? I mean yes, we have met a few times these last few days," he admitted, not daring to ask if she considered them seriously. "So if that means seeing each other than yes, I suppose we are and no, you did not get it wrong, well not on my part."
"Good, glad we sorted that out," Rose smiled. "I should go start dinner, if ya still coming?"
"Yes, most definitely," Alec agreed, relieved he'd not already told people he might get Rose to be his girlfriend before establishing she wasn't already seeing someone.
He was about to say he'd see her later.
"You could come up now, if ya wanted?" she asked cautiously, not sure where exactly they were going with this. "There's still some wine from the last night left."
"Then maybe we should make use of it but I can only drink a little. So is your parking space empty?"
"It had better be or I'm gonna order a traffic cone and put it there for idiots who drive past the resident's parking only sign," she grinned.
"Maybe I can help with that?" he smiled as they walked to his car. "You go ahead and if the woman from earlier is looking out then all the better. Is that car still here?" he asked, looking at the few cars that were left and hoping to call a traffic warden to put a ticket on the offending vehicle.
Rose shook her head. "It's gone but next time I might let his tyres down, not that I'll admit anything if asked."
"Rose, he will guess it's you. I could always ask the traffic division for a police one and say someone is parking illegal in my parking space," he suggested, leaning on the car roof. "I will just not say it's not where I live."
Rose giggled. "I don't think he'll bother again but if I'd let him stay there, others might get the same idea."
"Then they can see my car and you waiting for me to show your consent to it being there," he suggested.
Rose set off around the corner, Alec driving slowly past her and into the marked parking space. Rose walked up to the car and waited behind it, dying for the woman from earlier to be looking out of her kitchen window.
"I told that woman someone would be parking here later," Rose told him as he locked the car. "Now she'll have to believe me."
"Did she think you were just saying that?" Alec asked as they walked to the steps.
"Probably but she made the mistake of confronting me in the bakery, the two assistants agreed with me. Never mind, he'll think twice next time," Rose smiled as he let her go first.
As Rose let them in, Alec was already planning on getting a police traffic cone just to prove a point.
"Mind you," Rose continued as he followed her inside. "I did tell her I wouldn't bother calling the police and said I already had a friend who could send someone round."
Alec raised his eyebrows as Rose put water in the kettle. "You did?" he asked. "A friend?"
Alec was hoping that maybe after tonight if he stayed a bit longer and not thinking he was overstaying his welcome, they may become a little more than just friends because he planned at the very least to kiss her for the first time and find out exactly where he stood with her.
As if she read his mind, Rose was thinking she hoped he'd at least try to kiss her and establish they were seeing each other and just hoped she'd not been presumptuous in fending off Steve from the print shop, who wasn't nearly half as cute as Alec was.
A/N – the next few chapters will contain an element of a song Rose likes and will lead to them to getting closer
Rose switched the kettle on.
"I thought we'd established that?" she smiled.
"Well yes, I suppose we have then. So you considered me a friend even though we had only sort have gone out twice?" he dared ask as he took his jacket off.
"Well yeah but I suppose it just came out when I got mad over my parking space," she admitted as she put teabags in two mugs.
"Remind me to get you that traffic cone then?" he joked.
Well Rose thought he was joking, she couldn't tell if he was or not and he'd taken it seriously that she'd told a bloke she was seeing someone and he thought she meant someone else and not him. He wasn't the only one who was confused. What had started out last week as fitting him in late was becoming something else.
"So, hope you're gonna like my cooking and not have to resort to going to the takeaway again?" Rose joked back.
"I'm sure whatever you make will be fine Rose. I could have gone home first."
"Well it's not really worth it, have you far to go?" Rose asked him.
He knew she'd been trying to find that out since Monday.
"Not far, just down Dorchester Road, though why it's called that when it's nowhere near the town," he admitted.
"I suppose at one time it might have been a good idea? Loads of streets and roads are nowhere near any of the towns they're named after. I saw a programme set in Wales and there was a Filey Road," she laughed.
"You have a point. You've been trying to find out since Monday if I went out of my way to go to the store below and I've already admitted I did. I was not trying to avoid giving my address but I saw no need, it was easier to collect the photos."
"Most people prefer to have them posted, you were one of the rare ones. I see you put it in your car, the one you just collected?" she asked, thinking that was rather obvious.
"I've decided to get a frame for it and place it on my desk. I never intended ordering another one, it was the only excuse I could think of for being outside your studio on Monday. I never intended to scare you or make you think I was there just to catch you coming out."
"Well I was a bit surprised to see ya there, never mind, I wasn't gonna ask for your address to stalk ya or anything," she smiled.
"I never thought you would Rose," he smiled back as she handed him the mug of tea. "When you said earlier, about putting that delivery guy off, well I have something to admit."
He thought he may as well confess, since she'd used him as an excuse to fend someone off. She may just tell him to leave now.
Rose sat opposite him. "Well you may as well tell me then?"
"Those who work in the office, they think I have been acting oddly the last few days."
"Really? Well I suppose you have, hanging around here and finding excuses to come back, like offering to put that webcam up for me," she teased him.
"Do I need another excuse for that?" he asked.
"Maybe not? Now we've established a few things?"
"We have? Right, that we are seeing each other? Well about that then. They started betting I had a girlfriend so I put a stop to it."
Now she did wonder about him.
"So what was all that we just talked about then?" she asked, about to get up.
"You misunderstand Rose, I told them I did not know if you would agree, since we had only met a few times."
"You meant me?" was all Rose could think of saying.
"Who else? They noticed the difference in me," he had to admit.
"Why, were you a grump or something?" Rose tried to smile.
"Or something. So, are we both agreed that we are seeing each other at least?" he asked, hoping he'd made a start.
"Yeah, I think so. I'd best start making something to eat or you will be going back to the takeaway."
"I don't mind Rose, if you don't want to cook?" he replied.
"Well you'll have to taste my cooking sooner or later, won't ya? So are ya asking me to be your girlfriend?"
"Do you object?" he asked as she got up. He grabbed her arm as she was passing. "You could do worse than me Rose."
"Like Steve from the print shop? I just said it on the spur of the moment Alec, sorry. I didn't want him to come in every morning and keep pestering me. If he had, I may have had to call the manager and get someone else to bring my orders round."
"That is exactly what I meant by you getting a security camera Rose," he reminded her. "Working on your own, well I would be worried about you now, not that I wasn't before. I will feel happier once you get one installed."
"I said I'd get one Alec, I'll go into town on Saturday. Maybe I could meet you there?"
"I see Daisy on Saturday lunchtime, sorry. I just got her used to it. I doubt she will want to tag along buying webcams?"
"It was just an idea, I can ask in the store. So does she stay the weekend?"
"Yes, it took me a long time to get her to stay overnight, like I said, I missed a few years of her growing up and I'm trying to make up for it," he told her as he let go of her hand, having moved his from her arm. "I was trying to persuade her to stay on Friday night as well, she's thinking about it. If she does, we could meet earlier and I can go collect her maybe?"
"I don't want to be in the way Alec, not if you're trying to get her to trust you again? Was it so bad, why you left?" Rose wanted to know.
Alec indicated for her to sit on his lap, Rose doing so and putting her arm around his neck.
"It was a bad split from my ex, I got too involved in the case I was working, she sought company with another team member, I found out eventually but she turned Daisy against me," he explained.
Rose rested her head in his shoulder.
"Sorry, it must have been difficult? That's why you went away?"
"Yes, I was also ill but I hid it from everyone. I finally came to my senses and got myself fixed and came back. Now though, Daisy got into trouble and she needs a fresh start and I'm trying my best to give her it."
"Well you're doing your best Alec, no-one can say you're not. We don't have to see each other every night."
"Well I think Saturday is enough, give me time to talk to her about Friday. Maybe you could come to my place and meet her next Friday?" he suggested.
Rose looked up. "Maybe then? See what she thinks but I don't want her to think I'm butting in."
"She was teasing me last weekend, she'll not be that surprised. When I last spoke to her she teased me then as well," he admitted.
Rose giggled and put her other arm around him.
"Well we'll just have to make plans then? We still have our first real date to get through tomorrow night. I'd best get something to eat, I only got pasta and sauce though."
"That's fine, really, you only had short notice. About those photos you took of me though?"
"Oh, what about them?" she smiled as she tried to get up, his arm still around her.
"You won't go using them will you?"
She rested her chin on his shoulder and eyed him.
"Okay, I promise. We have to swap phone numbers though, before you leave."
"Naturally Rose, I expect you'll want another picture then?" he smiled.
That agreed, Rose got up to prepare the food and Alec wandered into the lounge and switched on the TV to catch the news. After they'd eaten, he helped her clear up again and they went to sit on the sofa, Alec putting his arm around her shoulder. Rose reached for his hand.
"We could walk up to the pub?" Alec suggested, at a loss of what to do next since he was out of practice.
So was Rose as she agreed. "Yeah, we could see what food they do, if we're going there tomorrow night?"
"We could go further away tomorrow night, I will look up some other places. I can only have one drink though, not that I drink that much except the odd occasion."
Rose got her jacket and a small shoulder bag after quickly getting changed and they walked up the road. Alec found out what she really liked to drink and she had two to his bottle of light beer. They set off back just after nine thirty, Rose now with her arm in his and relaxing more as they talked.
"It's been ages since I went out like that," Rose admitted. "Going with my ex when he came to help me set up didn't really count."
"So you are just friends?" Alec asked, wishing she'd put her arm around him instead.
"We stopped being more a long time ago, not that we were really serious, growing up together on the same estate as teenagers. You've nothing to worry about from Mickey."
Alec was glad to hear it. Rose let them into her flat, hoping Alec wasn't going to be leaving early, well not without kissing her anyway. She'd been dying for him to do something while they'd been out but all he'd done was kiss her cheek and run his finger down it as they talked about everything and nothing such as what she liked and disliked, which he agreed on most of it.
Rose decided she wasn't going to let him go just yet as she indicated for him to take his jacket off.
"Wanna dance with me?" she smiled as she went to the mini hi-fi unit and chose a CD from the pile, one that had slow tunes.
"I am somewhat out of practice," he admitted as Rose put the CD in and set it to play random tracks.
They swayed to the tunes for a while, Alec resting his head on her shoulder and Rose leaning into him, her arms around his back until Alec saw his chance as she looked up at him.
"May I?" he asked as Rose was a fraction away from him.
She could only nod then gave in as his nose touched hers and she angled her head to touch his lips briefly. That gave way to a short kiss, making Rose gasp for more.
"Alec, do that again?" she asked.
"With pleasure Rose."
The kisses became longer, the music still playing as they stopped to get their breath back, Alec thinking he'd never have been able to do that a few years ago and not remembering kissing Tess like that. When he thought about it, he and Tess had been pushed together by working in the same station and time off being difficult, had latched onto each other.
He'd thought at the time better her who was in the police than someone who wouldn't understand he worked all hours that he couldn't go on 'dates' as such, well not back then, he'd learned his lesson since.
"Mmm, that was nice," Rose smiled as a song came to an end.
She was about to suggest they sat down when her favourite came on – 'Dream a little dream of me' and she began to sway in time to the music again, joining in the words and looking at him. Alec smiled as she sang along, seemingly knowing all the words as she sang 'sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you'.
That being the last song, Alec led her to the sofa. It was getting late and they both had to work the next day.
"I should be going Rose," he regretted, going to kiss her again.
"Yeah, I had a nice evening Alec. You can text or call me when ya get home, if ya want?" she asked hopefully.
"Of course but you forgot to take a photo of me," he smiled.
Rose got up for her phone and took his picture, Alec doing the same of her.
"Night then," she smiled as they walked to the door when Alec put his jacket on. "Don't forget to dream a little dream of me, will ya?" she teased.
"How could I?" he asked, trying to remember the words she'd sung to him.
They kissed goodnight as Rose reminded him. "Say nighty-night and kiss me then?" she smiled.
As Alec unlocked the door, he turned back to say, "Sweet dreams Rose."
She watched from the balcony until he got downstairs and he walked over to his car, turning to wave to her before he got in. Now he was more determined than ever that despite him leaving in a few weeks, he'd somehow convince her to remain his girlfriend, he could manage a long-distance relationship if she could but first he had to tell her.
At least he'd made a start he supposed by saying Daisy needed a fresh start but how was he going to justify going with her? Maybe he should make a start tomorrow night by saying she was going away to college and why her mother had wanted the photos of her, which if she'd not asked for, he'd never have met Rose. He'd already made his mind up on Monday he was going to make a play for her and he'd thought earlier someone had beaten him to it and he hadn't liked the idea.
Would he have just kept making up excuses until he'd worn her down? He saw Rose watching as he reversed out of the parking spot and waved to her, Rose waving back and decided first thing tomorrow, he would go to the traffic division under the pretence someone was pinching his parking spot and maybe he'd admit it was at his girlfriend's place, not his own.
As Rose watched him drive off, she then locked the door and sat on the same chair Alec had done while she made herself a hot drink and waited for him to call or text her when he got home. She now knew he didn't live that far away, she'd passed the road on the bus a few times. Was he wanting to be serious she wondered? He'd sounded like it, saying Saturday's were out but she couldn't expect him to let his daughter down now they were getting close again.
She just hoped the teenager wouldn't think she was trying to take Alec away from her. She'd not spoken much to Daisy the other day but she hoped they could be friends. Was he intending to come round every night, well expect for Saturday and maybe Friday next week, if Daisy didn't want her there? The kettle boiled, she made some hot chocolate and was just taking it into the lounge when she got a message.
Alec had got in and was debating to call or text her, she'd said either. He put his specs on and sat at the kitchen table, thinking of what to say. Thinking she would think he'd forgotten already, he started to compose a text, suddenly remembering some of the words she'd sang earlier – 'Sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you as well, my fair Rose. I will be sure to dream of you – Alec xxx.'
Rose got the message and smiled. He'd been so nice and not taken too long to ask her out but she knew she wanted something with him so she just wrote back – 'Nighty night, wish you were still here to kiss me – Rose xxx.'
Sorry for the delay in the update!
Alec had to smile when he saw her reply. They had made some progress at least and he'd got her to agree to being his girlfriend – at least for now anyway. He had no idea how she would react when he finally admitted he was going back to Broadchurch. Should he delay it or think again?
If he did, he'd have to find an alternate college for Daisy which would involve travelling and she still wouldn't get out of the town. She would still have to face teenagers who had sided with those who had got her into trouble. As he got ready for bed, he was tempted to send another message but thought he'd best not. Now he just had to tell her how he felt about her and hope it would be enough to persuade her to give it a go despite him leaving.
Rose smiled as she got into bed, wondering if he was going to send a last message. She knew she liked him and was happy they'd established a few things but they had both nearly ruined it by admitting they had told others before they had told each other.
Alec gave in, putting his specs on as he reached for his phone – 'It was a pleasant evening – night Rose xxx' not bothering to put his name, she had his number now. He never normally used his name so much as the last few days, Rose calling his name like she'd been doing made hearing it bearable – unlike when Tess now said it to get to him.
The next morning, as Alec got to the office, he wondered why Rose hadn't sent him a message back but he supposed she could have been asleep when he'd sent it, it had been over an hour of debating whether he should send one or not. When Rose had woken, she found it and smiled. She got into the studio just after nine and sent one back – 'Looking forward to tonight.'
Alec got it as he was making his morning mug of tea. He had the misfortune for DC Hunter to be passing as he squinted at the message.
"Don't let me stop you reading that Sir," Sandra grinned, trying to find out if it was from his potential girlfriend.
"You won't Hunter," he replied, trying not to show any emotion that Rose had obviously only just got the message.
He took his tea back to his office, replying with 'So am I.'
Rose was doing fine until Steve from the print shop showed up. As she signed the slip, he grinned at her.
"So, you have a boyfriend then?" he tried to ask casually.
"Yeah, you caught me by surprise yesterday," Rose admitted.
"So is it serious?" he asked, in case she'd just been saying that.
"Well Steve, I've only been here a few weeks and I've only known him for a week but yeah, I'm seeing someone. I wasn't just saying that," Rose assured him.
"Well I did think that," Steve grinned. "If you change your mind?"
Rose was too polite to tell him there was no contest between a rather cute police detective and someone who worked at a print shop but each to their own she supposed.
Alec decided that despite climbing the wall before lunch that he was not going to leave early again, even though everyone was looking to see if he was going to. Sandra had been dragged into it again when he'd gone for his lunch.
"He got a message first thing but it could have been from anyone," she had to admit as they cornered her.
"He's got a daughter, right?" someone asked. "It could have been from her but why has he been leaving early?"
"To get her from school or college would make sense," Sandra suggested, trying to get them to drop it.
"I still say he's sneaking off to see a girlfriend though," Mills offered, since he wanted to win the bet.
Alec wandered down to the parade of shops near the station and located a discount store, going to the household department and finding a nice silver frame for the photo of Daisy he'd acquired. Taking it back with his lunch in a carrier bag they had the cheek to charge him for with the store brand name on, which to his mind customers were advertising for the company so they should be free, he collected the photo from his car and closed his office door behind him after making some tea.
He placed the photo on his desk then wondered if Rose would have one printed out of herself and maybe he'd ask her once they'd been out tonight and he'd not scared her off by saying he was leaving town in a few weeks time. He thought about getting a traffic cone to put in Rose's parking space. Even if she left him, he could make sure no-one parked there again.
Just before leaving time, he went to the parking area to find the traffic officer on duty.
"DI Hardy. What can I do for you Sir?" the officer asked as he was hanging up some keys.
"I need a traffic cone, some idiot keeps trying to park in my girlfriend's parking space despite a sign and her telling them," he admitted, hoping the man didn't talk to Hunter and company.
"Well we don't normally just hand them out Sir," he told Alec, getting a frown. "You could officially requisition one though, for parking control," the officer suggested.
"Yes, that then," Alec replied, thinking it was a good thing he was picking Rose up later and she wasn't waiting at the studio for him.
He waited while the officer brought one from a pile in the corner of the garage and was asked to sign it out. He was grateful he didn't have to put a reason.
"How long do I have it for then?" Alec asked as he handed the clipboard back, having thought he'd be leaving in a few weeks and they'd want it back.
"Whenever it's returned Sir," he was told.
Alec put the cone in the back of his car and drove off, calling at the florist just down the road for a nice mixed bunch of flowers and went home to change his shirt. Then he decided to call Daisy.
"Hi Dad, not cancelling tomorrow are you?" she asked, since her mother had been fussing about her going every weekend now she was likely to leave town.
"No, why even ask? I've still not heard about when I get my transfer, I left it today," he told her, having thought he'd best stay away from the chief after yesterday and trying to fasten the top button of his shirt for a change.
"Well are you making the arrangements Dad?" Daisy asked him. "Mum's been going on about it, saying if you want to take me with you, it's down to you."
Alec thought that was just typical of his ex wife to leave it all to him.
"Well I will make a start as soon as I have a date but I will call the school on Monday and tell them so they will be ready to pass your details on. Have you thought about maybe staying Friday night as well next week?" he asked, hoping he could talk her into having Rose round for diner.
"Mum's already going mad about Saturday night Dad," Daisy reminded him.
"Well what's she going to do when you leave eh? Is she the one willing to move with you?" he wanted to know.
"No, I suppose not," Daisy had to admit. "So, you've got those photos for mum and gran?"
Alec thought she'd already asked him once.
"Yes, you can get them tomorrow. I need to know about Friday because I have something to ask you, well maybe."
"Such as?" Daisy wanted to know. "Are you seeing the photographer, Rose was it?" Alec didn't answer. "You are, aren't you? Are you taking her out tonight?"
"Yes, we have a date and we went for a drink last night," he admitted.
"Is that all?" Daisy laughed, thinking he was a bit slow.
"Well after she invited me to stay to eat with her," he had to admit or she'd keep going on about it.
"You mean when you collected the photos?" she asked.
"Well no, Wednesday, we had a Chinese, then she wanted to cook for me last night since I bought the takeaway."
Daisy giggled. "So you've already had a couple of dates? Admit it Dad, you do like her."
"I wouldn't call them dates, as such," he tried to deny. "Tonight is an actual date."
"So you asking me about Friday nights? You want me to say no so you can take her out?"
"No, I wanted to ask you if you did, if you would object to me inviting her round to have dinner with us," he replied.
"Oh. Well if I decide to stay, then yeah, I suppose so? I can hardly stop you inviting someone round, can I? What about going away? Does she know?" Daisy asked him.
"No, not yet but I will tell her, if it goes well tonight," he admitted.
"You can't just string her along Dad," she told him.
"I don't intend to, it could all still fall through if that detective changes his mind or delays his retirement," he replied.
"Then what do I do about college Dad? I can't stay and go to one here."
"I know Daisy, if Broadchurch falls through, there will be other vacancies before the end of summer. See all the trouble I'm going to? I can't see your mother doing that," he told her.
"So you're still willing to go even if Rose agrees to go out with you? That's hardly fair Dad."
Alec knew she was right. "She may be willing to put up with me coming back at weekends and holidays. You could come back and see your mum," he suggested.
"Yeah, that depends how much she's going to miss me then?"
"Well she wanted the photos of you," Alec reminded her.
"Well you'd never have gone to that studio and met Rose," Daisy teased him.
He knew he'd never hear the end of it now if he failed to keep Rose interested enough in him and agree to having a long distance relationship, now he'd asked her to be his girlfriend. It was better he told her after asking her than before, at least now she knew he was being serious.
Rose had got finished a bit earlier since a baby decided to scream and the parents wanted to leave in a hurry so she tidied up, half wishing Alec was calling round after he'd finished. Why was she feeling so giddy? Ever since he'd come round on Monday night, she'd felt differently and when he'd made the excuse up to call an extra night, she knew he was wanting to ask her out. She got home, had a shower and was choosing what to wear. She hoped now this was a proper date, they wouldn't both be coy around each other.
Alec was getting nervous, he'd been fine the last two nights, it had just been casual and the kisses last night had been short and sweet, more than he'd expected and the sentiments of the song she seemed to like had added to the end of the evening nicely. Maybe she would want to dance and a bit more tonight, he hoped.
Rose forbade herself to watch out of the window for him to park up, wondering if he'd just park at the front and not bother driving into her parking space, which thankfully was empty as word must have got round she'd had a go at someone. She was quite within her rights to do so, whether she had a car or not. She smiled as she remembered what Alec had said but didn't think he'd follow up on it, about putting a cone there.
As Alec pulled into the front car park, he couldn't resist looking up to see if Rose was watching out for him. He thought about the traffic cone and didn't fancy carrying it around and hopefully, it would be late when they got back so he turned around and drove around the back, stopping in front of her parking space but blocking the car next to it.
He deposited the police cone at the start of Rose's parking space and got his phone out. Rose jumped as her phone rang with 'Alec' on the display. She walked to the living room window but couldn't see his car and answered with "Watcha Alec."
"Hello to you too Rose, care to open the door for me?" he asked as he crossed to the steps and hoped the person wouldn't want to move the car he'd blocked.
He wasn't planning on going inside anyway, just handing her the flowers and wait in the car for her if he needed to move. Then she would see the traffic cone. Rose got her jacket and her shoulder bag from the back of the kitchen chair and opened the door, putting her phone away.
"Hi, you should have stayed around the front," she greeted him, kissing his cheek as he held the flowers behind his back.
"It would be rude if I did not collect you personally Rose, this is meant to be our first proper date," he reminded her, handing her the flowers and kissing her cheek.
"Aw, they're lovely Alec, thanks," Rose smiled, giving him a peck on the lips for his troubles.
While he'd had nothing to do earlier, he'd looked up places to take her for their first proper date, one where he'd called to collect her from home, not get her out under false pretences or after he'd been to the studio.
"Glad you like them. We should get going, I have blocked someone's car in," he smiled, wondering if he should mention the cone.
"I'll put these in the sink in some water and sort them out later then?" she asked, putting them in the bowl and turning the cold water tap on. "They must have been expensive," she added, smelling them and noting the small card with her name on, meaning he'd not got them from the supermarket or garage.
"You are worth it love," he replied, wondering if calling her that was a bit presumptuous of him.
"So are going back to that pub?" Rose asked as they went to the door.
"No, an Italian place just outside town, I made a booking for eight, give us time to get there and have a drink first, well you can have one. Did you have a good day?" he asked as she let him lock the door.
"Steady, lots of crying kids," she smiled as he let her go first, Alec noting no-one was waiting for him to move.
"I got something else for you as well," he admitted as they crossed to the car and steering her around the other side. Rose laughed.
"You didn't? I thought you were joking?" she asked as she put her arm in his.
"It will show them you are being serious and if anyone complains, tell them to call the station, I will give you the number later. I had to sign for that."
"So did ya say it was for your place or mine?" Rose giggled as he held the car door open for her.
"I may have admitted it was for here, I have nothing to hide," he replied as he got in.
"Neither have I, I told that guy from the printer's when he asked me again if I was seeing someone," Rose had to admit as he drove off.
"Did he think you were just saying that?" Alec asked as he drove back towards the town centre.
"Maybe? Never mind that, from now on if I'm asked I'm not gonna deny it, I'll have to face my mum when I call her. You'd best hope she doesn't get the next train down to check you out."
Alec didn't know if she was being serious or not, considering the other warning she had given him.
"Everyone in the office is trying to guess," Alec admitted as he turned off to bypass the town centre but away from where he worked.
He wished he'd have been able to go back to his old place of work but Tess and her loser boyfriend made that impossible, too many people knew what had happened. When he'd first come back to the town, people still remembered him but at least all those responsible were locked up, unlike Joe Miller.
"So do they know?" Rose glanced at him sideways.
"They will, I am not going to spoil their guessing games until Monday and I was waiting to see how tonight turned out, you may be glad to get rid of me."
Rose put her hand on his leg as they stopped at some traffic lights.
"Don't say that, I'm still here after you made excuses up to see me," she smiled at him.
"Yes, you are but you don't know me that well yet Rose," he replied as he set off again, seeing the restaurant that used to be a pub in the distance.
"Well we have plenty of time for that," Rose replied as he turned into the car park and found a parking spot.
Alec thought this was going to be awkward. What had he set himself up for when he knew he was leaving in four to six weeks time? How was he going to tell her now?
The evening went pleasantly, Alec being the perfect gentleman by paying her every bit of attention and slowly sipping a glass of wine so as not to have to leave his car plus he wanted a clear head for later, just in case he decided to come clean with her.
Rose wasn't going so easy on the wine but knew her limits even though Alec was really cute and she wanted to have more of the kisses from last night.
"This is a nice place Alec," Rose remarked as they waited for their desert to arrive. "I've never been anywhere this fancy before."
"Then you have dated the wrong men," Alec declared.
"Mickey was the only really serious one and he's the least romantic person I know," Rose smiled as she let Alec fill her glass. "Football on the big screen TV at the pub was his idea of a date, I spent more time talking to my friends."
"Well I can assure you, I am not into football or spending all evening watching it at the pub," Alec declared, thinking he already didn't like her ex without even meeting him.
Rose decided to find out more about him.
"So come on then, did you just come back for your daughter?"
"That and I wanted to be around when the court case came up of the killers of the two girls. You read about that?" he asked, nodding to the waiter as he put the dishes in front of them.
"Yeah, I was sad the other cousin wasn't found alive. What sort of a person does that? I mean leave a young girl in the river?"
"She may have been left on the riverbank and the killer expected her to be found quickly but it had been really bad weather, which hampered the search. I don't normally tell people it was me that found her."
Rose reached her hand over the table.
"I'm sorry Alec, it never said who'd found her. It clearly affected you, was that how you became ill?"
"It did not help but I finally got justice for them. That was why catching the other killer became everything to the point I neglected to take care of myself. Did you read I'd been ill?" he asked, not recalling telling her.
"I looked up about the case here, it mentioned Broadchurch and you being ill. It gave no details though. I figured you would tell me."
"I had to have a pacemaker fitted before it was too late. I came back to spend time with Daisy, to try to make up for not being there and because she had no idea I was ill."
"You never told anyone?" Rose gasped, not quite believing he could have died.
"Well I'm still here, the six million dollar man," he smiled, taking her hand as she put her spoon down.
He half expected her to ask who that was.
"Yeah, seems so but it's only your heart that got something done to it. Me and mum used to watch the re-runs when I was a kid," Rose smiled. "You are okay now though?"
"Yes, I'm fine Rose. Do you want to move to the bar area and maybe get some real Italian coffee?" he suggested.
"Yeah, maybe a latte though? I think Italian coffee's a bit strong and comes in tiny little cups."
"You speak from experience?" Alec smiled as he got up to move her chair back for her.
"Nah, not me. I only went on a school trip to Paris, I wasn't old enough to drink coffee," she smiled back as she got up.
Just before nine thirty, Rose not believing how long they had been in the restaurant, Alec helped her into his car and since they would be passing the end of his street, he wondered if she'd object to him inviting her to his apartment. There was only one way to find out. If she agreed, he could take the other route.
Getting in the driver's seat, he thought he had nothing to lose by asking her.
"Since you were trying to find out where I lived, we could call in before I take you home?" he asked hopefully.
"Yeah, okay then but I wasn't being nosy, I just wondered how far you'd gone out of your way to pay the store next to where I work a visit."
Alec actually believed her. He took the other turn-off that led him to the other end of the road where he lived and came to a small block of apartments, turning into the driveway and thankfully, no-one had taken his space or he'd have to go get another traffic cone.
"Here we are then," he told her, Rose looking at the four-storey white building.
"At least no-one's claimed your parking spot," she teased.
Ten minutes after they got in, they were on the sofa, picking up where they left off last night as Rose got his tie off and half a dozen shirt buttons undone as they nipped at each other's lips as she tried to pull the shirt from the back of his trousers, Alec putting his arm around his back to help her.
"Mmm, this is really nice," Rose hummed as she got all fingers and thumbs with the rest of the buttons.
Alec couldn't have put it better himself as they continued kissing and he decided it was time her floral dress with the low-cut back came off. Rose didn't seem to be objecting as he pulled it over her shoulders, revealing a black lacy low-cut bra and he was dying to know if her underwear matched or not.
Alec shuffled around, pushing her to the back of the sofa and trying not to get tempted to pull the sofa out into the bed Daisy slept on. She wouldn't thank him for it if she found out.
"Have you got any music?" Rose asked as she nipped at his neck while both arms were around it.
"I have a few CD's, I don't play them much, Daisy doesn't like my taste of music," he admitted.
"Let's dance then?" Rose asked, running her fingers down his now bare chest since she'd undone all the buttons.
Alec carefully got off the sofa to avoid falling off it, Rose staying where she was as he looked at the measly stack of CDs and thought he should get some more before he met Daisy the following day. He found a double one of forties and fifties songs and put it on.
"I love all the old songs," Rose admitted as he helped her off the sofa.
Now he seemed much taller since she'd kicked her shoes off earlier. He switched off the main light after putting on the lamp and they began swaying to the music, Rose reaching up to put her arms around his neck after he fastened her dress for her. He put his arms around her waist and she leaned into his shoulder.
Neither of them were bothered about the time as the first CD finished with 'Moonlight Serenade' and Rose reluctantly let go.
"I should take you home," Alec suggested before this went any further, for a first proper date.
Rose went to sit on the sofa, wagging her finger at him. He followed her and sat next to her, taking her hand and leaning her back against the cushion.
"This has been a really lovely evening," he told her, brushing back a strand of her hair and kissing her cheek.
Rose ran her finger down his chest, since he'd not bothered fastening his shirt back up.
"Yeah, we survived our first proper date and I'm still talking to ya," she smiled.
That was a relief to him, though she may not be once he'd confessed. He thought maybe he shouldn't ruin the evening since they'd both enjoyed it so much. The short kisses intensified, leading to Alec unzipping her dress again and putting his arms around her shoulder, Rose putting hers under his shirt and around his back and before he knew it, she was pulling him on top of her.
"Alec, this is really nice," Rose managed to sigh as he placed kisses along her neck and the top of her one size too small bra, well he thought it was one size too small as he was now wanting to relieve her of it since it was too tempting.
His fingers wandered around her back and reached their destination and he wondered if she would notice. She did.
"Mmm, I said it was nice Alec," she smiled, tapping his hand, which he withdrew slowly in case she changed her mind.
"Well you unfastened my shirt at the first opportunity," he reminded her as he propped himself up on the cushion and flicked a strand of her hair.
"Yeah, sorry, it was silly of me," Rose admitted, biting her lip.
"No, it was more than I hoped for," Alec disagreed, running his finger along the top of her bra. "Rose, I want to be serious with you, you do know that?"
"I gathered, when you asked me to be your girlfriend. Sorry, it's just going from a few casual dates to this, it's rather a big jump."
"No, maybe I was moving too fast? I can't see you tomorrow night Rose, so think about it eh?" he asked hopefully.
Rose nodded and put her hand back under his shirt.
"We can do other things, like what you were just doing," she grinned up at him and putting a finger on his chest.
Alec's face lit up. "Really?'
"Yeah, you 'nana, I wasn't objecting to that, was I?" she asked him.
How was he to know? He was definitely out of practice, spending the last few years on his own, mostly, except for a few one-offs he'd met while investigating something and he'd asked a woman out afterwards but he'd not got as far as he'd just done with Rose, whose finger was making circles on his bare chest.
She wagged her finger at him and he leaned closer, putting it on his chin.
"I really like you Alec and yeah, maybe by Sunday I'll realise what I'm missing but we only met a week ago, and you were all coy about asking me out," she reminded him.
"Well, I had Daisy with me at the time, I could hardly ask you out then? Could I?" he asked, rubbing her shoulder.
Rose freed her other arm and put them both around his neck.
"Then come here and ask me to stay?"
"You want to stay?" he asked, taken by surprise.
"Well unless ya wanna drive me home and leave me there?" Rose asked. "I believe you said not seeing me on Saturday night would be enough but if you want to just see each other a few times a week?" she suggested.
Alec thought about it. This was getting way out of hand and he was too much of a coward to tell her it would be short-lived if she hated the fact he was leaving. Could he live with the fact he didn't get it over with and see what she thought about it? Maybe he should just come out with it, if she didn't like it, at least they'd not got round to having sex and better now than when they had he supposed.
"Rose, I want to see you every night, well apart from maybe Friday if Daisy doesn't want to have you round, if she decides to stay over two nights. If she doesn't, well, I could spend a few hours with you and collect her later, maybe?" he asked hopefully.
Rose pulled him down for a kiss.
"Yeah, she's a teenager, I can imagine she could be a bit off with her dad having a younger girlfriend?" she smiled.
"She was teasing me, about asking you out so maybe that's a good sign eh?" he asked, kissing her neck.
"Yeah, if not, well, she'll come round, won't she?"
Alec thought it had better be quick then. This was it, before Rose really hated him.
"Well, that depends on a couple of things," he started to admit.
He tried to prop himself up again, Rose's arm around his waist and he stroked her hair. What was he thinking? Getting involved with her when he had to leave? How did he feel about getting her hopes up of maybe a long-term relationship that was only going to last a few weeks?
If he were inclined, he could use her to take out his sexual frustrations on her for a few weeks then just leave but he wasn't like that and besides, he really did like her and maybe he was beginning to fall for her in a big way. He hated men who thought they could use a woman for a few weeks then dump her, especially when Tess had dumped him.
"What kind of things?" Rose asked, trying to pull the shirt off his shoulders.
"Well, I told you Daisy is having problems? She stayed on at school because of something that happened a while back with some of her older friends from the local college. She can't go there Rose, or to the ones nearby."
"Sorry Alec, I didn't know it was that serious. That's why you have her over on Saturday night? You don't have to explain it to me," she assured him, his shirt hanging off his shoulders.
"That's only part of it," he admitted, trying to get his shirt back on, which was a bit awkward with Rose's hands being on it and not wanting him to. "She can't stay on at school another year so I'm having to try to get her in somewhere else but although her mother dealt with it and the school head teacher was sympathetic about it, it went on her school record."
"It must have been serious then?" Rose asked, sounding concerned.
"Yes, I promised her no-one would ever find out about it that they would hold it against her but I know I can trust you but first, you have to meet her properly and I can get her to agree for me to tell you."
"Yeah, I understand Alec, don't worry about it, yeah?" she asked, finally winning the battle as he stopped trying to pull his shirt back on.
He knew he'd made the right decision to pursue her after he'd met her last week. Maybe now she was sympathetic about Daisy, she would understand he had to get her away from the town but would she understand it had to be Broadchurch? He supposed there was only one way to find out.
"Rose, like I said, I can't send her anywhere around here and her mother, well she reckons she did her part getting Daisy out of trouble and since I've been insisting Daisy stayed with me at weekends, well, that was for two reasons," he admitted.
Rose looked at him. She really did like him and if he came with a troubled teenager, then so be it, the girl would be going away to college by the sound of it.
"I said you don't have to explain it to me Alec, she's your daughter and I told ya, she's lucky to have you, I'd have given anything to have my dad around when I was her age. I used to wish I had a time machine to go back and see him," she smiled, rubbing his bare shoulders.
Alec smiled. "Rose, if I had a time machine, there is nothing I would rather do than take you love."
"Yeah? I just bet you would as well because you, Alec Hardy, are the most decent man I have ever met. So, come on then, where are you trying to get her into college? Is that why you want her to stay the whole weekend? Because she's going away?"
"Partly but also partly because, well, I will be taking her," he admitted, trying to break it to the woman he was falling for gently.
"Oh, ya mean to settle her in? Yeah, I knew you were a good dad," Rose smiled.
"Rose, yes, I will be taking her, her mother's left it to me, she said it's time I took some responsibility and she was right," he admitted.
"Well, that's not until September, is it?" Rose giggled as she poked her tongue out slightly.
"Ah, well, the thing is Rose, she has exams soon and I'm trying to get a college to take her early, since she should have started last term," he admitted, hoping Rose wouldn't get up and run.
"Oh? Well yeah, stands to reason I suppose," Rose agreed. "So, where are you sending her? I mean is she ready to leave home?"
"Not exactly but she won't be on her own," Alec finally admitted, knowing he couldn't hold off much longer.
"You mean student accommodation or sharing?" Rose asked, wanting to get back to snogging him.
"Sharing, yes but she's not ready for that. She was so confident Rose, what happened destroyed her, it affected her badly so at least for now, I can't just abandon her and her mother's not interested in going with her so it's down to me."
There, he'd almost told her.
"So, well it won't be far, will it?" Rose asked.
"That's just it Rose. Finding somewhere willing to take her and I know a place that may just take her on, with some careful negotiations. Somewhere that knows me."
"Oh. Are you taking her back to Scotland?" Rose asked, her heart leaping.
"No, I'm taking her to Broadchurch Rose, I got my old job back and I know a lot of people there, even though the killer walked free but people will help me get her in the college there."
Rose pushed him away and scrambled into her dress and he just knew she was going to demand he took her home and he'd lost her before they'd even got started.
Rose looked at him. "So what was all that then, you asking me to be your girlfriend?" Rose asked, looking confused.
"Rose, I applied before I even met you," a just as much confused Alec tried to explain as Rose tried to fasten her dress.
"Were you planning on telling me the day before you left? What were you gonna say then? A 'sorry but I'm leaving to give my daughter a fresh start, it's been nice' speech?" she asked, trying not to get upset.
"Rose, let me explain?" he asked as she tried to get off the sofa, Alec moving over. "How was I to know I was going to go to your studio and meet you? No, I was going to tell you, I just never knew how. I thought we had something Rose, that despite me saying I was going away, we can continue to see each other."
"For how long?" Rose asked, biting her lip, some old memories coming back to her. "How long were ya gonna string me along?"
"I was not stringing you along Rose, I promise. I've not even got a date for my transfer yet," he replied as he leaned over to help her.
Rose pushed his hand away. "Oh, so that makes it better?"
"No, it's just the DI who took over from me is retiring and the job's mine when he does, he's just not been told when. I told you, I have to get the school or college there to take Daisy, they may still refuse. Rose, I explained she can't stay here and go to college, she has her heart set on going and not just leaving and making nothing of herself. Her mother has made no effort."
"So you made a point of telling me," Rose replied, thinking she should at least let him explain. "So that's why she wanted the photos then?"
"Yes, for her and Daisy's grandmother and goodness knows how many relatives. I told her it's not like she'll never see her daughter again. Rose, I meant it, I still want to see you and I was going to come back for Daisy to see her mother every other week, we can still see each other, if you want?" he suggested, touching her shoulder.
Rose didn't move it. "What? Every two weeks?" she asked, trying to calm down.
"Well, now I've met you, well maybe you could come down the other weekends?" he asked hopefully. He thought well at least she'd not stormed out or demanded he took her home. "You did say you'd not had many bookings on Saturdays."
"Yeah, I suppose not. I was thinking of taking them off and opening on Tuesday instead but you should have told me Alec," she relented.
"I was going to, I just didn't want to spoil a really nice evening. Are you mad at me? Do you want to go home?" he asked, hoping she would still stay.
Rose looked at him, he couldn't tell what her answer was going to be, she showed no emotion, giving him, a detective, no clues as to what she was thinking.
"Yes, I'm mad at you. I was going into town tomorrow, maybe look in the pet shop and get a kitten, I could take it to the studio with me. I just wanted someone to go home to and you Alec, you were waiting for me or you were calling round to the studio. I thought I'd finally found someone."
"You have, we could see each other at weekends and holidays. I don't know what Daisy wants to do during the summer, we've only just discussed her going to live with me, that's why I want her to stay over on Friday nights, to make it easier for her. What do you think? It will be at least four weeks, maybe more before I have to leave."
"That long?" Rose tried to smile.
He thought at least she wasn't lashing out at him.
"So, I think we could make it work, there will be long weekends, I could bring Daisy up on Friday night, drop her off then come round, since I'll have to give this apartment up. I won't have to leave until Sunday evening. Yes, I think it's worth a try. Say something Rose?" he asked as she leaned back again, a funny look on her face.
"What do ya want me to say Alec? I don't know about a long distance relationship, I've never even tried. I don't know if I can do it."
That much was true, her last experience of someone leaving her had never given her the chance.
"Rose, neither have I love," he replied, leaning with his hand on the back of the sofa and putting his other hand on her shoulder. "I thought I had finally found someone as well Rose. When I met you last week, well by Monday, I couldn't wait until I was supposed to collect the photos and Tuesday, well it was all I could do not to make up another excuse to leave early and catch you coming out of your studio. Everyone in the office thought I was going to sneak off early again, they have a bet going on," he smiled, pleased she'd not made him move again.
"Yeah? That you were sneaking off to meet someone? I think you already said Alec," Rose half smiled.
"Did I? I don't remember Rose, was that when I asked you to be my girlfriend?" he grinned, hoping she would come round to the idea.
Rose pretended to hit his arm.
"So you'd come up one weekend and I'll go down there the other then?" she asked. Alec nodded. "What if Daisy doesn't like me that much? She hasn't even agreed to meeting me next Friday yet."
"I know but if I tell her how important you are becoming to me, she never liked her mother's boyfriend when we split up but she just about tolerates him but he's a bit obnoxious. I think that's why Tess chose him," he grinned. "She knew I couldn't stand him."
"Great Alec, that makes me feel a whole lot better. I'm one up from your ex wife's obnoxious boyfriend then?" Rose sighed.
"No, I didn't mean it like that," he replied in his defence. Then he saw a smile creep across her face. "That was not fair Rose."
"Gotcha! Seriously though, you're asking a lot Alec, it's a long way to travel down to Broadchurch."
"I know but at least consider it? You don't have to agree right now, think about it."
"I don't know if seeing you all weekend, I'd be able to watch ya leave or get on a coach to come back here," she admitted.
"You don't know until we try Rose, how do you think I will feel as well?" he asked. "It will be just as difficult for me you know? We can call each other every night or do a video call?" he suggested, hoping she'd agree.
"You know how to video call?" Rose smiled.
"Yes, I used to call Daisy, when she started talking to me again. Are you suggesting I am not up to date with these things?" he smiled, daring to shuffle closer.
"No, I expect Daisy taught you a few things? How's she gonna react then, me coming down at weekends, if I agree?"
"Well, you have a few weeks to make friends with her," he replied. "She seemed to like you, I told you she was teasing me about you."
"Yeah, so ya said. I don't know Alec, it's not what I was expecting when you asked me to be your girlfriend and we were deciding not seeing each other on Saturday nights was gonna be enough."
"I know love, I should never have got carried away with that when I knew I was leaving but we still have a few weeks before I have to leave, we could stick to what we planned. So, what do you think? Do you want to go home and decide?"
Rose didn't move, wondering what to make of it. She was really beginning to think she'd finally found someone, had got excited at the prospect of meeting a man who treated her right and he was going to be leaving. Could she let him go after the last time? She tried to sit up.
"Well. I guess I'd best forget about the kitten then?" she smiled, holding her arms out. "Good thing Saturday turned out to be a bit of a flop."
"Really?" Alec smiled, letting go of the back of the sofa he hadn't realised he was griping and moving it to the sofa arm behind her.
"Yeah, you 'nana, though it was a bit of a shock but I'm not ready to give you up that easily. Okay, we can at least try but I don't know how good I am at having a boyfriend who's a fair bit away. Before you say anything, that's not why I split up with Mickey, we've not gone out for years."
"We'll manage and I gathered you were not still seeing him. Are you sure about it?" he asked, not certain he'd heard her right.
"Yeah, I let someone go once Alec, not Mickey but I'm not gonna make the same mistake again. I thought you were just gonna use me for a few weeks then say goodbye, when ya told me."
"I'm sorry Rose, there was no easy way of putting it and trust me, I've been trying to get up the courage all week," he smiled, feeing relieved.
"Were ya? Well Tuesday night, I sat at the window wondering if ya were gonna find another excuse to come round," she admitted as she leaned on his shoulder.
"You were disappointed?" he asked, kissing her neck. Rose nodded. "I regret not doing so but I might have given you the wrong impression."
Rose smiled. "So, now we've got that out of the way, I did ask if I could stay? Can I borrow a t-shirt? I mean, we've only got four weeks or so before ya go away. Do ya think you'll get Daisy accepted there?"
Alec looked at her, it had gone a lot better than he'd expected.
"With some persuasion, my old DS has a son around Daisy's age, she may be able to help. Yes, I have a t-shirt you can borrow but you slapped my hand when I went for your bra strap," he reminded her, grinning.
"I'm just shy and I didn't know where this was going. I suppose we'll have to speed things up then?"
"I expect so? This is all new to me as well you know? We can just get to know each other better for tonight, you could still change your mind when you see how grumpy I am in the mornings."
"Huh?" she asked, trying to get up. "You don't get to be grumpy in the morning if I beat ya to it," she teased him.
"Oh, so you're grumpy as well then?" he teased back. "We shall see."
He helped her up and went to his bedroom, getting a grey t-shirt out of the drawer and thought he must get some more. He held it out to her as she stood in the doorway.
"I'll just go get changed," Rose smiled, accepting the t-shirt.
He tried not to show his disappointment as she turned.
"Alec, it's just for tonight, I mean until we get used to each other," she assured him, seeing the look on his face.
"Sure, whatever you're comfortable with and I'm sorry for almost ruining everything."
She turned back to him. "I'm glad ya told me now and not as you were leaving."
"I would never have waited that long Rose. I was going to tell you, if you'd let me come over on Sunday night when I drop Daisy off."
"Of course you can, just bring some food with ya," she smiled as she went off to the bathroom.
Alec watched her walk away and stood with his hands on his hips, something he tended to do when he was nervous or worried and he'd been both. Now, he'd got that out of the way, he could go for her just staying tonight, they could still hate each other in the morning. She was way too young for him but Tess had chosen an older man, what was the difference?
Rose got changed, leaving her underwear on after freshening herself up with some wipes she found and looked in the mirror, her face looking a little flushed. When he'd come out and said he was leaving, she thought he was just as bad as a certain history professor who had left her to travel the world and never came back to her.
The last she'd heard of him was seeing his book in the bookstore near where she'd worked, his picture all over the window display that he was signing copies, the photo she'd taken of him a year before and fallen in love with him. They'd had six months together then James Noble had said he was going off to get his new book together, on ancient world customs and wanted to make it authentic.
He'd never even asked her to go with him more than once and he'd never even sent her a postcard when she'd said she couldn't just take time off like he could so he'd gone off anyway. She'd never bothered the day he was making an appearance, seeing the queue to get a signed copy and he'd not bothered calling in the studio he'd been to several times to ask for her to get a better picture of him.
If she'd known then what it was for and what would happen, she'd never have obliged him and given in to him asking her out. When Alec had started taking an interest in her, it should have warned her off. Now Alec would wonder why she'd got upset that he was going off as well. She shouldn't have fallen for Alec's excuse about an extra photo but he was cute and she'd tried to ignore the fact that apart from the shorter hair that didn't have a mind of its own and the beard, Alec could be James's double.
Running out of excuses to stay in the bathroom, she took her things from the side of the sink and thought this was it. Alec was going off yes but they'd made a compromise, more than James had been willing to do and if Alec could stick to the arrangement, then so could she, or at least give it a try.
She went back into the bedroom, Alec sitting nervously on the edge of the bed in a white t-shirt and a clean pair of shorts. He got up and whispered he'd be back in a minute, having let her use the bathroom first. As Rose waited for him coming back, she got into bed and sat hugging her knees.
Alec was looking at himself in the mirror, glad he'd got himself sorted out and no longer looking like death warmed up with red eyes and a frown. Rose was waiting for him and if she didn't want sex on their first proper date, he could live with that. He'd almost lost her before they'd got started. As he went back in the bedroom, she looked up and smiled at him and he knew they would somehow manage when he went back to Broadchurch as he turned out the lamp and she moved over to him.
After some kissing, Alec losing his t-shirt and Rose getting comfortable on him, they fell asleep. It had been a pleasant evening and Alec was glad he'd got his going away settled and she was willing to give it a chance. Before they'd fallen asleep, Alec's arm around her, he asked how she really thought he'd not tell her until it was time.
"Alec, I didn't know what to think," she admitted. "It was a bit of a shock."
"You said someone else had left you, not this Mickey you talked about."
"I don't wanna be reminded Alec, it's over and done with. He dumped me – end of story. I can tell ya why I was a bit suspicious you making up excuses though," she offered.
Alec kissed the top of her head.
"You don't have to explain it to me Rose, if you say it's over, that's the end of it. You were suspicious of me?"
"Well yeah, after you ordered last Friday, since your daughter looked like she didn't want to be there. Alec, it's just the man I lost, James, well that's how I met him, he came into the studio I worked in for some photos. He was planning on just using them for the college he worked at, then he told me he was leaving, to travel around to write a world history book."
Alec moved her slightly. "Rose, I am so sorry, no wonder you got upset when I said I was going away. He never came back?"
"Yeah, he came back and never bothered to let me know. The next thing I knew, his book was going on sale and he used the photos I took to publicize it, even on the back cover."
Alec almost laughed, just checking himself in time but Rose knew and hit his arm.
"Sorry, you have to admire his nerve I suppose?" he replied. "Then why did you insist on taking my photos?"
"To prove not all men were using me like he did. We were together around six months, I thought we were happy and even though he went on about the book he wanted to do, I thought he'd do the research online, not actually go off. Then he had the nerve to do a book signing near where I worked, he never even came to see me."
Alec pulled her closer. "Did you go confront him?" Rose remained silent. "Rose, I had no idea I was going to be lucky enough to meet you when I applied for a transfer back to Broadchurch."
"Well I'll not ask if you would have still done so."
"I would have talked to you about it first. I know we can make it work," he assured her. "So, meeting Daisy again is the first step."
"Yeah though I'm not used to getting a teenager's approval to date her dad, my mum never bothered asking me what I felt when she brought her male friends home. I can't tell ya how many 'uncles' I had."
Alec smiled at the thought, then remembered he would probably have to meet the woman at some point. "Well, this will be the first time Daisy has been asked, you should get on well."
When Rose woke up, she was alone but hearing noises from the kitchen, the bedroom door slightly open, she grabbed his t-shirt he'd lent her and put it over her vest top she'd gone to sleep in.
"Rose," he called from the kitchen. "Are you awake?"
"Yep, whatcha doing?"
He appeared in the doorway with a tray. "Making breakfast for you."
He put it on the dresser and closed the door.
"Aw, that was sweet of ya. Are you wanting to impress me so I'll come back?" she smiled as he kissed her cheek.
"Do I need to? Eat before the toast goes cold and then I'll take you home. What time's your first appointment?"
"Not until ten, I've only got three, I took the Saturday ones off. I can use the time to catch up on my orders and working Tuesdays will mean I won't have to rush around the next day. Funny though, I thought Saturday would be busy."
"Maybe it would have been?" he wondered as he handed Rose the tray and got back into bed.
"Well I can't hang around all day just to get the odd one or two. Don't worry, I won't insist I spend the day with you, I know you meet Daisy."
"Sorry, it took me a while to get her to agree but I don't meet her until twelve. Next Friday though, if she stays over, well I won't be able to see you until Sunday night."
"Alec, it's fine, honestly, don't change your plans for me."
"You're being very understanding love. I'll talk to her today but we'll wait until you meet before I ask how she feels about you maybe staying over. Since it will only be for a few weeks, she may agree but when we leave, I'll tell her you will be coming down, she'll have to get used to it."
He put the tray by the side of the bed and Rose snuggled up to him.
"Can we say good morning properly now?" she smiled, putting her arms around him.
"If you give me my t-shirt back," he replied, going for the hem.
After some fooling around, they got dressed and he went to get his car keys, taking another key from the hook.
"Take this, then if you want, come over one night and start making dinner," he offered.
"If I get some appointments for Tuesday, I might not be here before you," she replied, hesitating to take it. "I'll have to get the bus down."
"Well okay, leave it for now," he agreed, thinking maybe it was a bit soon anyway but he wanted her to trust him. "It's there if you want it. Will you be working anyway on Tuesday? Won't you have to inform the printers?"
"Well yeah, I'll have to put up with that bloke coming an extra morning," Rose smiled as he put his arms around her shoulders.
"Then tell him you are spoken for," he replied, going for a kiss.
"Yeah, now I can say it for certain," she agreed, reaching up.
Alec drove her home just before nine, making a point of going around the back and feeling pleased with himself the traffic cone was still there and the neighbours would get used to his car, even though it would only be for a few weeks. Now he was regretting his decision to go back to the town that had caused him problems in more ways than one. He got out of the car and Rose assumed he was going to help her out, which he did.
"See ya Sunday night then?" Rose asked him, kissing his cheek.
"Yes, I will pick up some food then? I'll call from the takeaway and I'll be sure to pick up some more wine on the way."
"Then I'll look forward to it," she smiled, putting her arms around his neck. "Bye then, have a good weekend with Daisy."
"Yes, bye love, I'll miss you and you know I'd make time if I could? Maybe next Friday, if she doesn't want to stay, I'll come over here and we can spend the morning together?" he asked hopefully, since Daisy may still be a bit reluctant.
"Yeah, we'll do that then? Bye Alec, I had a great time last night. When you come over tomorrow night, we'll have to talk about how often we see each other."
"I thought it was going to be every night, apart from Saturday?" he asked, thinking maybe he was assuming too much.
"Oh, right? Yeah, okay then since we should make the most of the time we have?" she replied, holding his jacket lapels then going to straighten his tie.
Alec smiled. "Yes, we should and I will do my best with Daisy," he promised.
They kissed goodbye and he watched her walk up the steps, Rose turning when she got outside her door and she waved and blew him a kiss.
Alec smiled to himself as he got back in his car, he'd have lingered a little longer but a man was coming along the balcony and Alec assumed a car would be his destination. He could have offered to stay until she went round to her studio but they had to give each other some breathing space or it could all be over by the time his transfer went through, then he wouldn't feel so guilty about leaving her behind.
As he drove off, resisting the temptation to wait for her walking round, all the tension that had built up when he'd started having feelings for her was disappearing. From him not knowing if she even wanted to be his girlfriend then wondering how to tell her it may be a short relationship, it had gone to her taking the news well, despite her having someone who'd gone off and left her.
He wondered how long ago that had been, was that the real reason she'd ended up in the same town he was in? Well whoever had left her was the loser in it and when he had time, he would look up who had written a history book in the last few years, with his photo Rose had taken on the back cover. How many history books could there have been recently?
As Rose got changed to go to the studio for a few hours, she hurriedly made a list of things she had to do on Monday, if she'd got enough bookings for Tuesday to justify changing her opening hours she'd have to call the printers. She crossed to the bedroom window, half expecting Alec to be sat there but he wasn't. She was a little disappointed but he did have to get ready for his daughter's visit, tidying the bed to start with.
She knew he was being brave, taking on his teenage daughter when they'd been apart couldn't be easy. Most of her mother's 'boyfriends' hadn't even acknowledged her half the time to the extent she'd totally ignore them back when she was old enough to get away with staying in her room.
She did regret mentioning James's name but surely Alec wouldn't look him up? Well she hoped not but they didn't look that much alike, did they? She was sure she was just being paranoid but the other coincidence of them both coming to her for photos should have put her off dating Alec but it wasn't. She was getting over James nicely until Alec walked into her studio.
She should have known she'd be attracted to him when she'd opened the studio door to him last Friday but she'd kept herself in check and tried to ignore the fact they could have been twins, well to her anyway. Her mother had never even mentioned it, which was something for Jackie Tyler, who should have been the first to point it out to her and Mickey, well if he got to know she was with Alec, he'd no doubt have something to say about it.
She opened the studio, half expecting Alec to creep up behind her again but he was at home, making sure Rose hadn't left anything behind and taking his time before going off to meet Daisy. He connected to the internet on his phone, meaning to pick up one of those tablet PCs at some point, Daisy telling him to get a certain brand and typed into the search about recent history books, getting thousands of results and not knowing what he was looking for.
Then he remember she'd called the man James but he still got loads of results for first and surnames and it was almost time to set off. When he'd found a space in one of the car parks, he made his way to their usual meeting place, Daisy looking miles away as usual but since he was in a good mood after seeing Rose in only her skimpy underwear, he let it slide as she looked up.
"Hi Dad, you're early," she greeted him, reaching up to kiss his cheek. "Well?"
"Well what?" he asked, kissing her cheek back as she put her arm in his after putting her phone away.
"You know what Dad," she grinned as they walked off. "Well how did your date go last night?"
Since when did his teenage daughter get to ask about his love life? Well he supposed he now had one, considering Rose had stayed with him last night and he'd been the perfect gentleman and kept his shorts on. He just hoped she'd be agreeable they needed to speed things up and forget the 'dating' part due to him leaving.
"It went fine, we went out, we had an enjoyable evening," he replied, not wanting to go into details.
Daisy however wanted them. "Come on Dad, I'm pleased you found someone, have you told her?"
"Yes," he admitted as she dragged him into a shopping arcade. "Those tablet things you were telling me about, are they expensive?"
"It depends what you want? You could probably get one free with your phone plan, mum let me get one but I have to pay seven pounds a month for it."
"Is that all?" he asked, trying to remember what network he was with now since he'd changed it when he'd discovered Lee Ashworth had stolen a bunch of letters.
He spotted the phone shop and Daisy smiled. She thought it was about time she modernized him, the photographer didn't seem anywhere near his age. After checking his account and Daisy saying she had a model just like it, half an hour later he stepped outside, Daisy carrying the paper carrier bag and they headed to get some lunch.
"I'll show you how to download all the apps," she told him as they ate. "You'll want a chat one and video calling. You got loads of data with the plan."
"I don't think I'll use it all," he admitted, putting his specs on as she passed it to him.
"What about when we move? What did she say about it anyway?" Daisy asked him as he squinted at the screen.
"I thought she was mad at me but she took it quite well. Daisy, I can't just leave her behind," he admitted, thinking he'd be better turning the screen around to make it wider.
"Then why go out with her? Oh, you mean to carry on seeing her then when you bring me back? She's okay with that?"
"Yes, I was surprised since we'd only just established a few things," he replied, passing the device to her. "Where's this video calling thing then?"
Daisy smiled at him. "What things? Did you ask her to be your girlfriend?" she teased him. Alec looked at her. "You did!" she laughed.
"Yes though we both admitted it other people before we actually agreed," he admitted.
"Geez Dad, how did you do that?" she asked, starting to scroll through the various 'Apps'.
"I mentioned it to someone at work and she, well she told the printer's delivery man she had a boyfriend."
Daisy giggled. "So, what are you doing about it? Just seeing each other when you bring me back?"
"Well that depends," he replied, knowing he wouldn't get the device back and she'd use all the data up in one go.
"On what? I'm okay with you seeing her while I'm with mum," she assured him, still flicking through what she thought he needed. "Honestly though, is she okay with it?"
"So she says but I had to promise her something to get her to agree to still being my girlfriend when I leave."
Daisy stopped what she was doing. "Such as? You didn't ask her to visit when we go to live there?"
Alec was about to say yes when he saw the look on her face.
"Why, is that a problem?" he dared ask.
If it was, what could he say to Rose? She'd just agreed because he'd said she could visit but if the two of them didn't get on?
Daisy grinned at him.
"What do you want me to say Dad?" she asked as he put his new toy back in the box and took his specs off.
"That you would be agreeable, it's only every other weekend," he replied, wondering what she was getting at.
"It's been bad enough putting up with Dave," she sighed, finishing the last of her milkshake.
"Is that partly why you agreed to come and live with me?" Alec asked, thinking maybe it was a bit much to expect her to welcome Rose's presence the weekends she wasn't going to see her mother.
"Well, yeah, partly but I wanted to say sorry, that I completely ignored you for something you'd not done and it made you ill. I never expected to have to share you though," she replied, Alec still wondering which way this was going to go.
He had nothing to lose by asking her as they got ready to leave.
"So, what do you think? Why not meet her properly next Friday night, see how you get on?" he asked hopefully.
"I suppose so? I'm glad you found someone but with going away, I thought you'd finish it?"
"I would have done, had it just been the odd date but I've seen her most of the week," he admitted as Daisy put her jacket on.
"I thought it was when you were just picking my photos up? Hang on, how did you get to see her the other night if last night was your first date?"
"Ah, well, I happened to be passing on Monday when she was leaving the studio," he started to explain.
"Dad, what are you like?" Daisy laughed as they got outside and she put her arm in his. "Go on, what happened after you went to get something to eat? Did you see her on Tuesday?"
"No, I saw her on Wednesday when I went to get your photos, we got a takeaway," he admitted, trying not to let on about the extra photo. "Then she invited me round for a meal after I invited her out last night."
"Wow, you didn't waste any time, did you Dad?" she laughed as they went back to his car. "So, do you really like her then?"
"I think I do," he smiled as they reached the car. "I asked her to be my girlfriend, providing she survived last night, going out properly and she did. She came back to my place last night."
"She did? It must be serious then? So why are you asking if I'm okay with it?"
"I have to give you a choice or I'd be no better than your mother," he replied. "So, will you meet her on Friday night then?" he asked as they set off to his flat.
"I hope you tidied up, if she stayed last night," Daisy grinned.
"What makes you think she'd stayed?" he asked.
"She went home?" Daisy laughed. Alec didn't answer. "Thought not. I hope you didn't use the pull-out bed?"
"Daisy, not that it's any of your business but no, we did not get that far. She stayed but nothing happened."
"Yeah, okay, I'll believe you. So, you want her to visit the weekends we don't come back here then? You never even said before how often."
"I was going to make it once a month but I can't expect Rose to travel down on her own the other three weekends. You could stay with your gran the other weekend?" he suggested.
Daisy was trying to keep a straight face but was failing.
"Okay Dad, I get it. You won't be able to stick to seeing her once a month and mum sees Dave a lot. I'm just glad he's not moved in with us."
Alec thought the man already had, considering Tess turned him down flat the day before he had his pacemaker fitted. He'd been surprised she'd turned up at the hospital.
"Did you think he had?" Daisy asked him as he didn't reply.
"The thought crossed my mind, I thought he would have done by now," he admitted as he turned into the driveway of the small block of flats.
"Geez Dad, trust me if he had, I'd have come to live with you when you first came back," she smiled.
"Why didn't you say? I would have told your mum to go ahead and invite him," Alec smiled back. "So, you never answered me."
Daisy got out of the car and Alec stood resting his hands on the roof.
"Do you need an answer now Dad?" she asked him.
"I'd like one before I take you back tomorrow night," he replied locking the doors.
"Why? When are you seeing her again?"
"Tomorrow night when I've dropped you at your mum's. She understands I see you at weekends but I thought if you were agreeable, she could come round for a while on Friday nights, for you to get used to each other," he suggested.
"For when she stays the weekend with us?" Daisy asked as they went up to his flat.
"Well that was the idea. What do you think?" he asked, thinking it could still go either way.
"I'll give it a try I suppose? I know you'll just sneak off to see her anyway. Just one thing though," she added. "She's not staying overnight is she?"
"No, not next week anyway, I'll just take her home. Why?" he asked, thinking he needed something stronger than the tea he was about to make and thinking they'd best go out again to the supermarket.
"Well if she does, I don't want to hear you both, I might be older now but still, sharing with your dad and his girlfriend is a bit much to get used to."
"Well how do you put up with Dave then?" Alec wanted to know as he made his tea.
"Why do you think I escape at weekends?" she grinned, going for a soda in the fridge. "Are we going shopping?" she asked as she took the last one.
Rose had got finished for the morning and got the bus into town, meaning not to forget the security camera Alec had not mentioned before he'd left, which she found a bit strange after he'd gone on about it before. He didn't need any more excuses to call at the studio if they were going to see each other every night except Saturday and maybe only for a few hours on Friday if his daughter didn't like the idea.
Before either of them knew it, evening had come around and Alec was itching to try his new device out to call Rose, after Daisy reminded him what to do.
"You'd best call her first Dad," she warned him.
"Right, of course, she might not answer," he grinned, picking his phone up.
Rose was watching TV just after seven when her phone rang to the tune she'd assigned to Alec's number, having resisted the one they'd danced slowly to the other night.
"Hiya, how's Daisy's stay going?" she greeted him, curling up in the chair.
"Fine love," he replied, aware Daisy was grinning in the other room, him going in the kitchen when he'd got up and was being all nervous.
"I got that camera you said you'd fix for me on Monday, not that you need any excuses to come round any more."
"No, I don't suppose I do? I got a new device today, thought I'd try it out by video calling you."
"Yeah? Okay then, has Daisy been showing you how to use it?" Rose asked.
Alec smiled to himself. "Somewhat," he had to admit. "I have made video calls before."
Almost an hour later, Alec having retreated to the bedroom when Daisy put her earphones in and pulled faces at him, they said goodnight.
"Night then Alec," Rose smiled back at him. "Hope you didn't use up all your data?"
"No, Daisy said I get a generous allowance and who do I have to video call except you?" he asked.
"Well, I have no-one to call either, my mum doesn't know how and I don't know how many times Mickey and I showed her. So, see ya tomorrow night then?"
"Yes, I look forward to it love and maybe we can do some more dancing?" he asked, thinking since when did he actually look forward to dancing? "Maybe to the song you seem to like the most?"
"Yeah, I've always loved that song, it seemed just right the other night," Rose told him.
"Yes but you missed out the first few sentences," he reminded her.
"I know, I wasn't sure you'd like my singing," Rose grinned.
"Was that the only reason?" he asked, remembering she seemed to be a good singer. "Maybe something else was stopping you, like a certain three words?"
Rose looked at him, wishing he was actually there and not a mile or so down the road.
"Well, I wasn't sure what you would think if I did," she confessed, feeling herself blush and hoping he wouldn't notice.
"Then maybe tomorrow night you can bring yourself to sing it from the beginning?" he asked, knowing now how he felt about her and things seemed to be going well.
He thought maybe she'd not wanted to spoil the mood the other night as they'd danced and it had given him the excuse to send messages when he'd got home.
"Maybe you can dig out another song, one that goes along the lines of saying something stupid?" he asked, hoping she wouldn't hang up on the call.
"Oh. Well I think I have that one a CD somewhere. I keep meaning to get one of those music players but I've never got around to choosing one," Rose replied.
"Ah, well I had thought of getting one of these tablets but I took the plunge today, since Daisy said I could get a free one with my phone plan and just pay monthly," he admitted.
What he didn't want to confess was that he wanted a bigger screen so he could talk to her when he moved away because he was going to miss her terribly and more than he cared to admit.
Rose went quiet then spoke up. "I'd best let you go then, Daisy will think you've gone to sleep," she smiled as he'd made a point of revealing he was in the bedroom.
"Yes, I came in here because she was making faces and I wanted to talk in private. So, think about what I said, will you? I mean about that song. Rose, sometimes, things get awkward to say and we have to find a way around it and if it means by using a song, then that's fine, it's been used millions of times to express feelings."
"Yeah, I suppose so then? Things have happened so fast this last week Alec," she replied.
"Tell me about it," he smiled at her. "I can't remember the last time I left work early on a feeble excuse to see someone and have everyone guessing what I was up to. I also can't remember being shy about admitting I had a girlfriend either."
"Oh, I never had that problem, I was always denying I was with Mickey," she laughed.
"What was it with you and him then? Were you ever serious?" Alec wanted to know, mainly if there was any chance the other man would get jealous and pay her a visit.
"Now I think about it, no. We grew up together and just got thrown together when I was old enough. James was the one I thought I would settle for, I suppose it was because he was smart and funny and didn't treat me like Mickey used to, assuming everything was about him. Sorry, you don't want to know about that."
"Yes, I do Rose. You can tell tomorrow night, when you sing the beginning of that song but I want you to be able to mean it, not just sing along because I ask you. Think about it."
"I will Alec, I'm just a bit overwhelmed, things are happening so fast and that's what happened before, with James. It was like dating a whirlwind, he never stopped for a minute. There was only Monday nights we didn't see each other, he took an evening class at the college and trust me, I needed that to recover," she half smiled.
Alec thought what an idiot he was in suggesting they only avoided seeing each other for one night, he was as bad as this James had been in rushing her and assuming she wanted to spend all her evenings with him. He had an excuse though – he was leaving in a few weeks but there again, the other man hadn't even told her.
"Then maybe Friday nights, well just this next Friday you can meet Daisy but we could leave it after that, if you prefer?" he asked.
"What? No, it's fine Alec, you're leaving soon, we'll be going a week without seeing each other," she replied, looking disappointed at the suggestion.
"Sure? Rose, I didn't know your last boyfriend crowded you."
"Yeah, the oncoming storm, that was James. At least you told me you were going away, he just sprung it on me and said he'd intended going on the tour all along but hadn't decided exactly when."
"He used you Rose, I am really sorry I never told you on Monday that I was leaving."
"It's okay Alec, it's just when you did tell me, well it reminded me and I was just getting over it."
"It was fairly recent then?" he wondered out loud.
"Yeah, six months ago, I started to try and get back to reality after he left but when he came back and didn't even want to make up, I started looking for a studio of my own, my boss told me I was ready, in more ways than one and staying in London wasn't an option."
Alec felt sorry for her. She was trying her best to get her life back together after someone had left her and he was going to do the same to her. How could she want to be with him and he'd not had the courage to tell her from the start he was going away? Well he suppose at least he'd had the guts to finally tell her and suggest they kept seeing each other, which was more than the other man had.
"So, you're prepared to take me on even though I don't know when I'll be leaving?" he asked after they stared at each other.
"Yeah you plum, you're not James but you might not like something about him."
Alec already didn't like him. "What might that be? Do I remind you a lot of him? I can live with that Rose, really, unless you say I'm his double or something? Then I'd have serious doubts."
Rose was guilty by her silence as he looked at her, thinking hell, what had he just implied? He continued.
"Rose, do I look like him or just remind you of him?" he asked, trying not to sound angry. "I need to know if I do and if so, just how much?"
"Alec, I'm sorry, I can't do this right now," she replied.
"So am I Rose, I thought you were the one but if you agreed to see me as some sort of compensation for your ex leaving?"
"What? You seriously think that just because I was getting over him, I took comfort in you?" she asked, trying not to get upset.
"You're right, we shouldn't talk about this via a video call, even if it is private. I'll come and fix your camera on Monday night, we can discuss it then and if you want to back out, then maybe it's for the best? Goodnight Rose."
Before she could answer, his end went static and she threw her phone on the sofa after disconnecting the call. Why had she gone and ruined everything? He was nowhere near anything like James had been, Alec had been honest with her about him leaving, well only after a few 'dates' but at least he'd come out and told her.
She knew when he came round on Monday, he would fix the camera then leave, maybe it was best he did so before they embarked on a long distance relationship because she wasn't sure she could do it. She had to face it, she had fallen in love with him after she'd promised herself she'd never love anyone after James.
Alec was angry as he disconnected the call to Rose. He should have known it would be something like that, women like Rose Tyler didn't attach themselves easily to him just like that. He'd seen the tears in her eyes as he'd ended the call. She should have just come out and told him but he was just as guilty over it, leading her on like her ex had done that they could have a stable relationship when they'd both known they were going to be leaving her.
He tried to convince himself maybe it was for the best, before they got too involved and hurt each other because he for one would have found it hard to go away and leave her behind, even if Daisy was agreeable to Rose visiting every other weekend.
He opened the bedroom door and Daisy looked up.
"Dad, what's wrong?" she asked, turning the TV off.
"I think I may have just done something really stupid," was all he would admit.
Daisy got up and faced him.
"What have you done Dad?" she asked, thinking she was just getting used to the idea of him being serious with Rose, even when they moved away.
"Nothing, no matter, it's too late now, the damage has been done," he replied, not wanting to talk about it to a teenager.
She followed him into the kitchen.
"Tell me what happened Dad, you were acting like you couldn't wait to talk to her earlier, being all coy about not letting me hear you so out with it. What did you say to her?" she demanded to know.
"I didn't say anything," he protested, wishing he'd given in and bought a bottle of Scotch while they'd been at the supermarket but not thinking it was a good idea with her being there, not that he usually drank for the sake of it.
Now though, he wished he did, he'd ruined everything by not hearing Rose's explanation but what could she say to make it any better? Her ex of not that long ago had looked like him, was she just using him to get over it? In hindsight, he could have let her answer but what was he supposed to think?
"Well it seems to me one of you said something that upset the other," Daisy observed.
"Well thank you, agony aunt Daisy," he tried to smile. "Since when did teenagers know more than their parents?" he mused out loud.
"I could take offence at that Dad," she replied. "So, she said something and you took it the wrong way?" she guessed, not really needing an answer since it was written all over his face.
"Something like that," he replied, waiting for the kettle to boil. "I don't want to talk about it. Do you want to go bowling tomorrow?" he asked, trying to change the subject.
"Not if you're going to be a misery the rest of the weekend," Daisy grinned, leaning back on the chair. "Seriously, call her back and sort it, it can't be that bad, you seemed to be getting on really well with her, what changed?"
"Her ex – she admitted I sort of look a bit like him," he admitted.
"Is that all?" Daisy giggled. "So, that's a problem?"
"Yes, what if she's just using me to get over him?" he asked, going in the fridge for the milk, not that he really wanted the tea in the first place but it was something to do and his mouth was dry with the lump in his throat.
Why had he got so jealous, if it was jealousy? Rose was hardly likely to make up with a man who had dumped her to go off travelling, was she?
"Have you heard yourself Dad?" Daisy asked. "Trust me, I see it all the time at school, a boy will dump one girl because he sees another blonde. So how much alike do you resemble her ex?"
"I never asked, it was enough she told me," he replied, leaning against the counter.
"It might not be by that much then Dad, you should give her a chance."
"Maybe, I'll think about it. So, bowling tomorrow?" he asked, trying to get her to stop questioning him.
"I thought you were seeing her when you'd taken me home tomorrow night?" she asked him.
"She won't want to see me when I told her she could back out if she wanted," he had to admit.
"Seriously? What did you say that for?" Daisy wanted to know. "You said she could back out of being your girlfriend? What sort of choice is that?"
"Hang on," Alec protested, putting the mug down. "Whose side are you on? A while ago you were questioning why I'd asked her when I knew I was leaving. Aren't you supposed to take my side?"
"Not when you're being unfair," Daisy replied.
"I'm being unfair?" he asked, a little confused as to why she'd changed sides suddenly from her not wanting Rose to visit when they moved. "She did not have to tell me about her ex."
"Well she did and maybe she didn't want to hide anything from you or for you to find out when it got more serious. You can hardly blame her for that Dad."
Alec wondered since when did he take advice from his daughter but Daisy was growing up fast, despite her problems.
"I promised to install a security camera in her studio on Monday evening, I'll think about it."
"It might be too late by then Dad. What then?" Daisy asked. "Are you going to bed? I can't go until you do, remember?"
Daisy went off to the bathroom and he considered what she'd just said. Maybe he and Rose needed some time to think about this, Rose had been right, a lot had happened in a short time. A while later, he adjusted his phone alarm and got into bed, thinking back to when Rose had stayed the night before and that he might never see her again if she called or sent a text to tell him not to bother with the camera.
They could have had something good despite him leaving but he'd blown any chance of that now, she'd surely hate him for refusing to listen and discuss it before he'd hung up on her.
While Alec had been talking to Daisy, Rose had been stunned by his reaction, wishing she'd never told him about James. Was he right though, had she taken to him because of who he reminded her of? She thought of calling her mother but it was getting late and she probably wouldn't get any sympathy out of her anyway.
All her mother would say was stop picking a man who looked like James and it was her own fault and if she went back to Mickey, the problem would go away. She thought she'd just sleep on it and decide tomorrow if she still wanted Alec to fix the camera for her and discuss what she'd told him but it had hurt.
She had thought she could trust Alec, he'd taken it well that she'd had someone who had left her to travel around and if she'd not been honest with him about them looking alike, she wouldn't be feeling like this now, upset and angry that Alec thought she was using him.
The next morning, Alec was a misery, not having got much sleep thinking of the big mistake he'd made in not letting Rose explain things to him or had he been right to be annoyed? Tess had used him to keep a roof over hers and Daisy's heads while she'd been having an affair right under his nose and it had hurt.
Did that make Rose any better than his ex wife? He decided to see how things went and if she called to say not to bother about the camera, the least he could do was fix it for her even if she didn't speak to him, it would still worry him she had no security in the studio.
As he and Daisy had breakfast, Daisy glaring at him, he decided enough was enough.
"Just leave it Daisy, I said I'd think about it," he told her as they cleared up.
"Well I hope you'll come to your senses Dad," she replied, already growing tired of the prospect he'd go back to the days when he'd been ill and be a proper grump.
"Well that's not down to me, is it?" he asked. "Rose may not forgive me for hanging up without listening to her."
"So you just give up?" Daisy replied. "You have to at least try. I know I wasn't keen on the idea of you and Rose but if this is a sample of what you're like without her, I hope you can both make up."
They set off to the bowling alley situated by the new shopping mall just after eleven, Alec finding a parking space easily between the two buildings and made their way inside.
Rose had got up and decided against telling her mother about what had happened, she didn't need reminding she always fell for the wrong man and she'd let Mickey go but after she'd turned twenty, she'd wanted more than Mickey could ever offer but why did she keep doing this to herself?
Thinking a shopping trip would do her more good than sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she got the bus in the opposite direction and rode out to the new shopping and entertainment complex about a mile away and went inside. She'd seen posters for it, it was only recently opened and now seemed like a good time for a visit.
She wandered around the first floor then made her way down the escalator to the ground floor, smelling food from the food court and feeling a little hungry but she avoided the stand of the place she'd been to with Alec last Monday night. As she was about to leave, Alec and Daisy had joined the queues each of them wanted but they never saw Rose. That was until Rose came out of the rest rooms and saw them at a table, Daisy teasing him over something.
"Daisy, I am not going to even try what you are eating," Alec protested at some dish she'd got from the noodle bar while he'd swallowed his pride and gone to the chicken franchise despite it making him think about Rose.
"Suit yourself, this is great," Daisy mumbled as she swallowed a huge chunk of her meal, Alec pulling a face.
Rose stood at a distance, wondering if she should go over to them but it might annoy Alec even more, depending on if Daisy had taken his side or not. She turned to wander out of the food court but not before Daisy had seen her.
"Dad, look, is that Rose just over there?" she asked him as she'd looked up from her plate.
"Where?" he asked, trying to scrape back his chair and almost spilling his drink, Daisy grabbing it before he actually did.
"She just left, towards the shops. Thought you didn't want to see her?" she grinned.
He sat down again. "Well she's gone now, she could be anywhere," he admitted disappointedly.
"Then finish up, she might not have left the mall yet," Daisy told him. "Geez Dad, you're acting more my age."
"Then what? No, best leave her, if she saw us, she would have come over," he told her, trying to convince himself mainly.
"Would she?" Daisy asked, finishing her drink. "Not if she thought you didn't want to see her again. Right, when you drop me home tonight, you'd better go round and see her or I won't come and live with you in Broadchurch."
"What?" he asked, knowing she was trying to force his hand. "What makes you say that?"
"Because if you go away and don't make up with her, you'll be unbearable and I refuse to live with you. I'd rather face everyone who got into trouble with me than live with you if you leave her."
Alec pulled one of his faces, knowing his daughter meant it but what could he do? They wandered around for a while, Daisy getting him to buy her a new t-shirt she'd taken a liking to, mainly because she'd dragged him in every fashion shop on the pretence he owed her for being a misery and hoping they'd bump into Rose.
Rose however had got a few things and gone out to the bus station outside the mall, waiting half an hour for hers but couldn't bring herself to go back inside in case she'd been spotted and Daisy was dragging Alec around looking for her. Well that was if the teenager hadn't told him it served him right for getting a girlfriend who was younger than he was and it would never have worked out.
She thought maybe it was for the best, the flirting had been just that, him making excuses to see her had been a novelty to him and he couldn't accept that she'd gone out with someone before him who just happened to bear a resemblance to him. Her mother had always told her everyone had a double, Alec though was one of triplets if a certain Scottish actor was included but he was well out of her reach, she'd often teased James about it, which could have contributed to him going off and leaving her she supposed.
Daisy finally had enough and they went back to Alec's flat but just before six as he was getting ready to take her back to her mother's she stood in the doorway.
"I meant it Dad, go make up with her or I won't go to Broadchurch with you, I'll take my chances here," she declared, looking defiantly at him.
"Daisy, I can't. She'll be mad at me, she'll never take me back."
"You don't know that unless you try Dad. You were going to see her after you drop me off so go, she can only close the door on you but at least you'll have tried," she replied. "I thought she'd said you could call round after I'd gone home?"
"Yes, she did, if I took some Chinese food with me," he almost smiled as he remembered what Rose had said.
"Then stop being an idiot and go take her some," Daisy grinned at him, going to hug him. "I want to go with you Dad, I know I can't go to college here but if you break up with Rose, well I don't think living with you would be such a good idea, you won't find anyone else like her."
"You think you can put up with her visiting every other weekend?" he asked.
"Yes, if it makes you happy Dad," she replied, kissing his cheek. "So go smarten yourself up, go get her a Chinese takeaway then go tell her you were an idiot for hanging up on her last night."
"Is that an order?" he grinned, going into the bedroom to put his tie on, fastening it as he always did and Daisy grinning.
"Yes, go say you're sorry for not letting her explain, she may have told you for a very good reason."
"Such as?" he asked as she straightened his tie and he tried to stop her.
"How do I know Dad? I'm just a teenager. It doesn't matter what I think, does it?"
So he drove Daisy back to her mother's, the teenager reminding him of her threat if he backed out then he drove in the direction of Rose's flat, pulling into the car park outside the takeaway and ordering the omelette and chips he knew Rose liked and hoping she wasn't looking out of the window as he left his car where it was. He walked around the row of shops and to the stairs and getting to the top, felt like a schoolboy on his first date, the plastic carrier in his hand.
He stopped outside Rose's flat and with his fist, got ready to knock on the frosted glass panelled door but stopped. This was it, this was the moment he had to ask her to forgive him for hanging up and not wanting to listen to her explanation as to why she'd admitted such a thing. As he knocked before he ran off to avoid her, he waited until he saw her approaching and felt another lump in his throat but this time, it was due to the apprehension she'd either slap his face or let him in and as she opened the door, it could go either way as she stood there.
"Alec," was all she said, looking at the white plastic bag in his hand.
"Rose. You said I could call round if I brought food."
She stood back to let him in, which to Alec meant maybe he was halfway there.
She went into the kitchen, Alec following her.
"I wasn't expecting you," she admitted as she got some plates from the cupboard.
"I wasn't going to call round but I couldn't just leave things until tomorrow," he admitted as Rose opened the carton after getting the chips out.
"Are you trying to bribe me into forgiving you for hanging up on me?" she asked, not giving anything away.
Alec was guilty by his silence as they sat down, after he picked up the remainder of the wine and two glasses from the draining board.
"Maybe? Will it work?" he asked hopefully.
Rose wasn't sure about this. He had doubted her motives why she was with him and it had hurt. Ever since he'd hung up on her last night, she'd told herself it wasn't going to work with him going away, even if they made up but here he was, trying to make up for it.
When she'd seen him in the mall, her heart had leapt and she felt like the first time she'd met him just over a week ago. Ever since then, he'd made her happy, even him telling her he was going away hadn't been too bad, he'd said they would manage and she'd agreed. He would have found out about James sooner or later, her mother would have pointed it out if Mickey hadn't beaten her to it.
Alec was watching her as she ate.
"Well I was hoping you might say something Rose," Alec spoke up as they'd eaten in silence. "Daisy saw you at the mall today."
"Did she? I thought neither of you had seen me?" Rose finally broke the silence.
"You had disappeared, she dragged me around the fashion shops looking for you," he grinned, sipping on his wine. "It cost me a t-shirt."
Rose almost laughed. "Sure it wasn't the other way round so you could tell me it was over?"
"Rose, I'm sorry for hanging up on you last night, I was wrong to do so. I should have let you explain."
"Yeah, you should have Alec, I wanted to get it out of the way, before you met my mum, she'd have just come and said it, not so tactfully and if Mickey had beaten her to it, well, I won't even go there."
Alec put his glass down. "You were being honest with me and I was the one who should have told you I was leaving, before I actually did and you took it better than I expected. Please Rose, can you forgive me?" he asked hopefully.
Rose pretended to consider. After she'd got back from the mall, she'd been debating whether to call him or not, to ask if it was all over. She'd thought she'd finally found someone and then he'd announced he was leaving but unlike James, he was prepared to still see her.
So when he'd arrived unexpectedly on her doorstep, she'd been surprised and had just let him in. She'd only half expected him to turn up the following evening to fix the camera in the studio and if he had, she knew he would say it was all over but he was apologizing, how could she not give him a chance?
"Well, maybe then but I suppose it must have been a bit of a surprise?" she had to admit.
"Yes, you could say that and I was unfair about it, I know that now. He left you and I expect you were upset when I said I was leaving town, that it sounded like I was doing the same as he had done to you?"
"Yeah, a bit," Rose smiled. "Let's just forget it then?"
"I can do that. There's only one more thing, no, two more things to settle then?" he asked, getting up to collect the plates.
Rose got up to help. "Yeah, what are those then?" she smiled, glad they'd made up.
"Well, when I find out when I'm leaving, I'll have to give a month's notice on my apartment."
"Oh and if it's more than a month before you can leave?" she asked.
He put the plates on the side of the sink and went to put his arms around her shoulders.
"Well I was hoping you may be able to help me out with that? Am I presuming too much?"
"What about your visits with Daisy?" Rose asked, putting her arms around his waist.
Alec looked at her. He'd almost pushed her away last night and she was more concerned about him still seeing his daughter.
"I can see her during the day, it may only be for one weekend. So, what do you think?" he replied.
"What's the other thing?" Rose wanted to know, leaning on his chest.
Alec kissed the top of her head. "That if we dance to that song you like, you may be able to sing the first two lines?"
Rose smiled. "You mean 'Something Stupid'?"
"No, you know the one I mean Rose but I told Daisy last night after I ended that call that I had maybe done something stupid," he had to admit. "I'm really sorry love, for hanging up last night."
"I know you are Alec, I know how you felt. James admitted to me that before we met, he had this French blonde girlfriend."
"Really? So you thought he either had a liking for blondes or you reminded him of her? I should never have said what I did, I was in error. So am I forgiven love?" he asked, nudging her for a kiss.
"You plum, yeah, I forgive you, we'll get over it."
"Then we will do the dishes and you can find that song. Oh, I need to move my car, it's around the front."
"Yeah? Did ya think I wouldn't let ya in?" she asked, giving in and kissing him.
"The thought did occur to me," he replied.
"Well go move it and I'll move the cone," she offered.
"It's heavy, I will move it before I get my car, that's if I'm staying for a while?"
"What do ya think?" she asked him. "If you're not sure when your transfer will come through, we should agree how much we see each other."
"I think Saturday night apart is enough, for now but when I move? Well Daisy will have to get used to sharing me when you visit us. We'll see what happens on Friday then?"
"Yeah. Well I'll clean up while you move your car then? Unless you want to go out?"
"I missed you last night love, I would rather stay in and dance with you."
That agreed, Alec insisted on helping clean up then went to move his car. They danced to a few other tunes, including the one Alec admitted he'd done last night, that he'd said something stupid and it wasn't the fact he'd said he loved her.
"Daisy was going to refuse to stay the weekend because of what I said last night," he told her as they danced.
"You told her?" Rose asked, draping her arms around his shoulder.
"I told her I had done something really stupid," he smiled, kissing her cheek as the song came to an end.
Rose moved away and went to the CD player to find the one she wanted, going back to him and as the song started, she sang along. As it ended, he whispered to her.
"I love you Rose and I'm sorry I almost drove you away, twice."
"It's okay Alec, I love you too and I thought you were going to leave me like James did."
"I should have been more understanding, that he left you and I said I was leaving."
"It doesn't matter Alec, you're still here and we'll make it work. So, you come over every night or I'll go to your place after work, yeah?" she asked.
"I will come and pick you up. So you are working on Tuesdays then?"
"Yeah, I might have already got a few bookings when I check. Look, if Daisy doesn't want me over every Friday, it's fine."
"She'll get used to it love," he tried to assure her, kissing her neck as they stood. "Once we get moved, she will feel differently."
Well he hoped so anyway and if not, she would be paying more visits to her mother than she had reckoned on.
Alec stayed over, setting his alarm early so he could go get changed but leaned over as they got into bed.
"No more fooling around Rose, we have six weeks, maybe less before I leave and I don't want to waste them, do you?" he asked.
Rose put her hand on his bare chest. "No, I don't either Alec, last night, I thought I wouldn't see you again."
"Then come here and I'll show you how sorry I am for being a total ass and not listening to your explanation. Seriously love, just how much do I remind you?"
"Not that much Alec, he had no beard, well except once or twice when he didn't have chance to shave and he had a London accent, not Scottish. Sorry, I shouldn't have said anything."
"Best get it out of the way but while I was trying to find a way to tell you I was leaving, you were also holding something back," he reminded her.
"Yeah, what was I supposed to say Alec? I didn't know how to without coming out with the fact you could be his twin. Then you would have left anyway. I thought we were over it?"
Alec thought for a second. They were both as bad as each other.
"Yes, we are, now, sure you are covered, only I couldn't go get anything with Daisy dragging me around the mall looking for you," he smiled as he turned out the bedside lamp.
"Sure it wasn't the other way around?" Rose decided to tease him.
"You got me love," he admitted as he flipped her over and reached under her vest top. "She was right, I was being a misery and she told me I should stop being an ass and go find you."
"I went out to wait for the bus back home, I couldn't face going back inside," she told him as he raised the garment.
"I'm sorry Rose."
Unlike Friday night, he wasted no time in removing the vest top and almost hesitated at her underwear but she helped him pull one side down then the other.
Then she whispered to him. "I'm covered Alec, I want to be with you."
"So there will be no more late night texts except Saturday nights until I move then?" he asked as she helped him take her underwear off.
"No, there won't be," she promised as she help him take off his shorts.
Rose sighed as they touched, wrapping her legs around his as he moved her to where he wanted her.
"I wouldn't have objected if you'd brought something with you," she told him as she felt him touching her inner thigh gently with his fingers as he tried to adjust himself.
"Why spoil things love, it would only get in the way of us being together properly. Now shush, I want you Rose."
They changed places a few times, Rose clinging hold of him as they moved and making contented noises as Alec let out his own sounds, telling her she was doing everything right as she responded to his guidance, complying with him moving her. As they finally tumbled over the edge, Rose grabbed his shoulders, almost marking him. As he slowly moved away from her, she tried to pull him back.
"Later love, this is the first time since I was ill."
"Sorry, you should have said," was all she replied.
"I never found anyone I wanted to even try to have sex with until now. You were just perfect Rose. It's not polite to tell the woman you love that she is the first in a long time."
"I wouldn't have minded, I know you've been ill Alec," she tried to assure him as she moved onto him and he put his arms around her.
"Sorry love, I guess I'll have to work up to making it last a little longer eh?"
"Don't think that wasn't enough Alec, it was more than I expected after I thought I'd lost you. Besides, that was quite something."
"Really? Guess I am somewhat out of practice at knowing when a woman is satisfied then?"
"Yeah you plum, you must be. We have to get used to each other."
"Yes and we will. Friday night was good but that was better. So now, we have a lot to discuss before I have to move. I wish I could back out of it and stay now I have you."
"Yeah, like you said though, Daisy can't stay here and you don't seem really happy here."
"I only came back for her, there was nothing else to come back for but when I go, I'll have a reason to come back every other weekend."
"Just you remember that," Rose laughed, reaching for a kiss.
"I will and if Daisy objects, well she will be the one having to travel, she will soon get the idea but seriously, she encouraged me to go find you at the mall."
"Then I suppose I should thank her? Does she know you got that extra photo?" Rose asked as she tried to get up.
"No, she would think it rather odd, then I would have to admit it was just a ruse to get to know you. Going somewhere?" he asked as she tried to get out of bed.
"To get cleaned up and put my underwear on," she replied.
"Why? I told you I wasn't finished with you yet," he replied, going for her arm.
"I'm not off to the bathroom with nothing on," she giggled. "You'll just have to remove them when I get back, won't you?"
"You can be sure of that, don't be long then."
Rose hurried back and they resumed where they had left off, Rose insisting she went on top and he was hardly able to stop her. He made his mind up he wasn't going to upset her again, he'd almost lost her because he couldn't accept she'd loved someone before him who could have been his twin.
He should have known she meant no harm by telling him, she'd agreed to stay with him even after he'd told her he was moving away. Most women would have said for him to go then but not Rose. They finally fell asleep, having put their underwear back on but when they woke early, wasted no time in fooling around after they had kissed.
"I want every morning to be like this Alec," Rose told him as they got out of bed.
"So do I love and I will tell Daisy you are staying on Friday nights, well maybe not this Friday but she'll have to accept it. It's one thing her telling me to go after you but something else actually sharing the same apartment."
"Yeah, I know the feeling when my mum brought her men friends home," Rose laughed.
She turned round and suddenly got back on the bed and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"I love you Alec. Bring some things around tonight so you don't have to leave so early in the morning."
"Don't want to stay at my place then?" he asked, turning to kiss her.
"You have that camera to fix babe," she reminded him, kissing him back.
"Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten?" he asked, since it had been his idea.
He left after Rose made him some breakfast, saying he would be round sometime after five. As they stood at the door, she decided to tease him.
"Not gonna spark any more rumours and sneak off work early then?" she grinned, her arms around his neck after they'd kissed.
"Rose, there are already enough rumours going around love," he replied.
"Then give them something to talk about, admit you have a girlfriend. When you come round tonight, I'll take some photos of us and get them printed, then you can put one on your desk. Is that where Daisy's is?"
"Yes, I got a frame for it. I can get one to match," he told her.
As she watched him walk across to his car, moving the traffic cone then waving as he'd backed the car out, he realised he had been an ass in almost losing her and he may just admit when he got to work he had a girlfriend after all despite him knowing who was going to win the bet.
This will be the last update for a week or so as I'll be away.
Rose watched him drive off and went to get ready for work, happy they had made up. She had almost let him go, thinking she'd made another mistake, the first one being agreeing to try a long distance relationship but she'd just made a bigger one, letting on he looked like her ex.
She supposed at least he seemed to have accepted it - now all she had to do was admit to her mother who her new boyfriend looked like. She'd purposely not told her over the weekend because her mother would ask questions and she'd almost had nothing to tell her anyway. Now, she had to not only admit who Alec looked like but he was leaving in a few weeks.
She knew how her mother would take it. She went off to work happier than she'd been because she knew they had got past the worst of it. She was also happy Alec had agreed to her taking some photos later.
Alec got to work in a better mood than all the time he'd been back and his DC noticed as he said 'Morning' to her as he passed her desk that she thought something was wrong with him. Everyone looked her way but she just shrugged her shoulders as if to say 'don't ask me, I don't know what's wrong with him today.'
"Come on, you must have some idea," someone goaded her.
"How would I know?" she just replied, getting up as he motioned her to go into his office.
"Well find out," she heard from who may probably become the DI when Hardy left.
"Right, I want a stop to all the speculation," Alec told her before she had chance to say anything.
"But Sir, they won't take any notice of me," she protested.
"Well they seem to be asking you all the questions," Alec told her, nodding in their general direction, where everyone was pretending to be busy and not in the least bit interested in why he'd seemed in a reasonably good mood, something he'd not been in since he'd arrived and no-one could even remember how long that had been although most of them thought it was far too long.
He let her go and smiled to himself. Let them think what they wanted, he would be gone in a few weeks anyway and as soon as Rose took some photos of them and he put one on his desk next to the new one of Daisy, it would give them something else to talk about. It would also give him something to smile about and give them more reason to be puzzled as to why he was in such a good mood.
He knew he'd almost screwed it all up but he'd managed to come to his senses, well with some help from Daisy, who before he had dropped her back at her mother's had told him in no uncertain terms she refused to go with him if he didn't make up with Rose. He smiled as he recalled the conversation as Daisy had got out of his car the evening before.
"So Dad, you'd better go round and see her and apologise for being an idiot or I mean it, I'll stay here and take my chances or leave school," Daisy had told him.
"Okay, I will try but she may not even let me in," he'd replied, knowing she was as stubborn as he was and she meant it.
"Well call and get her favourite food, that'll be a start," Daisy had smiled as she kissed his cheek.
"Have you said anything to your mother, about Rose?" he dared ask.
"No, should I have done? That's your job Dad, if I tell her, she won't believe me."
"Why not?" he'd asked.
"Geez Dad, you're a detective, work it out," Daisy had cheekily replied.
He shook his head as his DC left and called the chief, saying he was on his way to see him.
As soon as he entered the office, the chief knew why he was there and had beaten him to it, having already called his counterpart in Broadchurch.
"Any news yet on that DI retiring?" he'd asked half an hour earlier.
"Yes, it just came through this morning, they cut it to five weeks since he's due a week's leave. Tell Hardy if he still wants it to report to me five weeks from today. Is he still wanting it?" she'd asked him.
"Are you joking? He can't wait to get out of here. There are all kind of rumours going around, the consensus is he's got a new girlfriend though but she may be willing to travel there with him."
"Well DS Miller will be happy to hear that, after what happened at Joe Miller's trial a few years ago."
So now, Alec's chief was about to tell him.
"Yes Alec, five weeks, if you still want to go?"
"Why wouldn't I?" Alec asked, wondering how many of the rumours he'd heard.
His chief looked at him as if to say he could already think of a few reasons, Hardy having a new girlfriend for starters.
"I'll let her know you still want the job then? So, are the rumours true, you have a new girlfriend?" the chief asked.
Alec felt like replying it was called having a private life for a reason.
"Yes but that will not stop me moving, we will see each other at weekends, my daughter will still want to see her mother and my girlfriend will visit me the other week. I'm putting a stop to all the speculation."
"I hope so Alec, you don't want word getting back to your ex wife."
That was the last thing he wanted but Tess would find out sooner or later. They'd not discussed any other arrangement than Daisy going back once a month, how was he going to tell her it was now going to be every two weeks. Maybe Tess would be annoyed and bundle their daughter to her gran's for the other weekend, with Tess, anything could happen.
If the worst came to the worst, Daisy would have to stay with them, Rose wouldn't mind, it all depended how they got on this Friday. Now, he could start making arrangements.
"Can I get some time off to move?" Alec asked, since he'd not taken any time off for a while.
"The new chief down there wants you to report to her on the Monday but you can have the Thursday and Friday off, I'll tell personnel. What are you doing in the way of finding somewhere to live?"
"I'll take a caravan if I have to and look when I get there, getting a school or college sorted out will take more doing. So, who is in line as my replacement?" Alec asked, hoping it wasn't the DS who was ahead in the promotion stakes but that was their problem, not his.
"I wouldn't have thought that would bother you Alec," the chief remarked.
"No, it's not but it would be a mistake if it were to be who is the current favourite. Trust me, he's not DI material," Alec replied, getting up.
"Well it's him or bring someone from outside, any suggestions?" the chief asked.
"My ex would do a better job. I know she screwed up once but she redeemed herself. Maybe you can put in a good word?"
"What's come over you Alec? You didn't want to go back to your old station because she was there," the chief reminded him.
"Well I'll be gone, I still won't have to work with her, will I?" Alec replied.
"That girlfriend of yours must be softening you up Alec," the chief smiled. "So, what's her name then?"
Alec stood with his hand on the door handle.
"Her name is Rose, she's a photographer and before you ask, I've not ask her to leave what she does to come with me."
"She must be something then?" the chief asked him.
"Aye, she is, she puts up with me," Alec replied.
Once back in his own office, he sent Daisy a text to say he had a date for leaving and sent one to Rose, hoping now he knew, neither of them would back out, he could live with Daisy backing out but Rose? Could he leave her behind altogether?
Maybe he could have done last Saturday night when he'd found out about her ex but not now. He sent one to Rose asking for her to call him when she wasn't busy. He then wondered if the chief would act on his recommendation of promoting Tess, was she DI material? Well she was certainly bossy and almost as good as he was at keeping secrets.
Rose hadn't had a very good morning, her mother had called just as she got to the studio, making her late checking her bookings and her mother hadn't been too kind.
"So how are ya gettin' on with that detective?" she'd asked Rose.
"Fine Mum, we're seeing each other, you wanted me to start dating again," Rose had reminded her.
"Yeah, well I mentioned it to Mickey, he remembers the bloke from that murder in Broadchurch. Mickey says he looks like James, now he thinks about it."
"Great Mum, thanks for reminding me," Rose sighed, trying to log into her work laptop.
"Well you must have noticed Rose," her mother told her.
"You were the one who told me to find out about him Mum," Rose reminded her.
"Well don't ya think it's a bit soon, to be chasing after someone else and who looks like James? Are you sure you're ready?"
"As I ever will be Mum and he knows, I decided to tell Alec, good thing I did, I knew Mickey would say something to you."
So getting away from her mother, she was pleased to get a message from Alec but had to wait to call him back, since her first sitting was almost due and she had things to sort out. She finally got the chance but the door buzzer went, she'd forgotten it was time for her delivery.
"Morning Rose," Steve greeted her as she let him in to sign for her order. "So, you still seeing someone then?" he grinned as Rose signed to say she'd taken delivery.
"Yeah, nothing's changed over the weekend," Rose replied, thinking if it had, she'd still wouldn't have said yes to him anyway.
"That's a shame then, if it doesn't work out, well maybe we could go out?"
"You'll be in for a long wait," Rose thought to herself. To Steve, she just said, "No offence but if it didn't work out, I think I'd be a bit put off blokes."
"Right, good point but even so, you won't be off them for long, will you?" Steve asked.
"I have work to do and my next sitting's in ten minutes. I also have to call my boyfriend."
As he hesitated in leaving, Rose thought the bloke couldn't take no for an answer. Little did she know he wasn't going to give up so easily though.
She finally got the chance to call Alec, meaning to ask if Daisy might want a job after school and Saturday's printing out photos. It wouldn't work out though and she didn't have time herself unless she took some appointments off the booking schedule but if she did, she'd save money having them printed so she'd be no worse off.
She'd almost got a full day on Tuesday, she was surprised people had snapped them up, which proved families had other things to do on a Saturday.
"Hi Sweetheart," Alec answered as he saw her picture come up on his screen.
Rose was getting to like being called that.
"Sorry I took so long, my mother rang and I've been trying to catch up."
"Never mind love, just thought I would tell you I have a date for my transfer."
That was not what Rose wanted to hear. Alec noticed.
"Rose, are you still there?" he asked.
"Yeah, I heard. So it's final then?"
"Yes, I found out earlier, five weeks, I get a few days off for moving, I'll need to settle Daisy at her new school. I'll be calling them later, now I know. I'll tell you everything tonight."
"Yeah, there's something I want to talk to you about."
Alec thought this was it, she'd changed her mind about trying to make it work.
"I hope it's nothing serious?" he asked, needing to know.
"What? Well yeah, I suppose it's serious?" Rose had to admit, knowing she'd mentioned Steve before.
Alec swallowed. When he'd asked, he hoped he'd been wrong but she'd realised after they'd both kept something back, it would always be at the back of their minds there was something else.
"We'll talk tonight love?" he asked hopefully, thinking maybe he was imagining things.
"Yeah, don't forget I'm gonna take those photos and there's something I want to ask you," she replied.
He knew she was going to ask him if he thought it would work once he'd left. Did he know the answer?
"Fine love, I will try not to be too late then," he replied, thinking if Rose said about the photos, maybe she wasn't breaking up with him or she was trying to break it to him gently, have something to remind each other what might have been.
No, he'd ask her first, before she took them, it would just make things worse if he let her, wouldn't it? Maybe if he did and he was wrong about it, it would make things worse. No, she was worth fighting for, if she wanted to break up, he had to convince her they would make it work.
It bothered him the rest of the day and everyone noticed the change in his mood, which put paid to at least one of the bets.
When the time came for him to leave to go fix the camera for Rose, he was feeling apprehensive to say the least. The rest of the office watched with interest as he put his jacket on and checked his phone, wondering if he'd broken up with whoever had the misfortune to get involved with him in the first place.
Alec didn't care as they stared after him, it would be all over with him and Rose later if neither of them could get over their revelations, just when he'd thought it was all settled. He could have imagined trying to make it work, seeing her at weekends since he tended to throw himself into his work but they'd seen each other almost every night and had agreed to carry on doing so until he left. Could he really have settled for less?
He got into his car, wondering if as Rose had suggested to take a few things with him for an overnight stay which was now probably on hold, even if she wasn't breaking up with him. He could easily imagine what the rest of the office were talking about but now, he didn't really care.
His DC was trying to fend everyone off.
"Look," she turned to everyone after they'd thrown all kinds of questions to her the moment the door had closed. "He told me in no uncertain terms to quash all the rumours so get your information elsewhere, I'm not going to be a part of it."
"Oh come on Sandra, you're our main source of information," DS Mills laughed.
"I'm going home and from tomorrow, I'm out of it, I don't care what you all say. We have to put up with him until he leaves, whenever that is so get used to it. You lot spreading rumours isn’t helping his sour mood," she replied, closing her laptop down.
"Didn't he give you any clues when that was?" Mills asked her, leaning on the corner of her desk.
"No but the sooner the better, then neither of us will have to put up with all your questions," Sandra told him bluntly.
"I could order you to tell us," Mills smirked as she nudged him out of the way to get past him.
"Yeah, then he would get to know, wouldn't he?" Sandra protested.
She got to the ladies room and kicked the nearest door, letting out a scream at the way they had all easily turned to her when it had become apparent Hardy was leaving. Why had she put up with all the questions and not stopped it earlier? More importantly, Mills would make a terrible DI and she thought she herself would put in for a transfer, just not to wherever Hardy was going. Still, they could do worse than Mills, they could get Hardy's ex wife, she'd heard of DS Henchard's reputation but at least she wouldn't talk about her ex all day.
Rose was also getting nervous. Even at lunchtime when she'd taken all her mail to the post office and gone to get her sandwich from next door, they'd noticed she didn't look right.
"Everything okay Dear?" the older woman asked as Rose's sandwich was being prepared.
Rose shook herself out of her daydream, wondering why Alec had seemed a little 'off' when she'd spoken to him earlier.
"What? Oh yeah, sorry, been a bit of a mad morning," she tried to smile.
"You seem to have become popular," the woman remarked. "We sometimes get them in here when they come out of your studio, we should pay you commission," she laughed. "No more trouble with illegal parking then?"
"No, my boyfriend got me a police traffic cone," Rose replied, trying not to let it sound like she was joking.
"He took it seriously then?" the younger woman asked as she came out of the back area.
"Well yeah, since he wanted to park his car there, why should some other idiot be too lazy to walk around from the front?" Rose asked.
She said goodbye after paying for the sandwich and the cream cake she decided to buy to cheer herself up just as the woman she'd argued with over the parking space was coming in.
"Think you're clever?" the woman goaded her.
"Don't know whatcha mean," Rose huffed, trying to get out otherwise her lunch would have to wait since the post office had been busy.
"You know what I mean, getting that police cone. I saw him putting it there the other night," the woman scoffed.
"Good," Rose snapped back. "So you know he means business."
She pushed past the woman and went back to the studio, wondering if Alec was going to be in a better mood when he came round later. He'd been in a good one when he'd left but watching him drive away, could she let him go knowing she wouldn't see him for almost another week?
So now, Alec was on his way there and Rose was putting everything away except her camera and fixing it to the tripod and attaching the timer so she could take some photos of them both, if he'd not changed his mind. She knew partly why his mood had suddenly changed, she'd not given him any clues as to what she had to ask him.
Maybe he'd thought the worst, especially after she'd also said she had something else she wanted to talk about, that being the persistent Steve. She knew she had to tell him before he thought the worse and left after fixing the camera for her and told her it would never work out.
Alec pulled into the front car park and sat for a few minutes. He thought he should give her a chance to say what she had to say and not jump to the conclusion she was going to say it was all over. He thought maybe he should have stopped off and bought her some flowers but then she would think he was breaking up with her so he was rather stuck.
As he got out of the car and turned toward the studio, Rose having already pulled the grill halfway down, he looked at himself in the wing mirror and told himself to get his act together and beg her not to say it was all over because she was worth fighting for. As he approached the door, he thought back to the previous Monday when he'd been trying to think of excuses for being there.
They'd already become lovers, despite her knowing he was leaving and he couldn't let her go without at least trying so he pressed the buzzer and waited. Rose jumped, even though she was expecting him but in the back of her mind, she thought it could just as easily be Steve, still being a pest.
"Alec?" she just asked as she answered, hoping she was right.
"Expecting someone else?" Alec tried to joke, wondering if she was.
She pressed the door release and he ducked under the grill to pull it back up slightly as Rose opened the door for him but it wasn't quite the reception he'd expected as she had barely let him in before throwing her arms around him and going to kiss him before he knew what was happening.
"Hi!" she grinned as he had put his arms around her to kiss her back and he tried to close the door with his foot.
"Hello Rose, that was quite a greeting," he had to admit, trying to figure out if it was a goodbye kiss or a glad to see him kiss.
She led him towards her desk and leaning on the corner, pointed to the box containing the camera.
"I hope I got the right kind," she smiled, the laptop still on.
"I'm sure it will be fine," he replied, picking it up and getting his specs out of his pocket.
"I wasn't sure but I said what I wanted it for," she smiled as he put his specs on the edge of his nose. "Aw, you look cute in those."
Alec raised his eyebrows, thinking she had a funny way of breaking up with him if it was going to go that way. He started reading the instructions and opened the box, handing her the installation disk then looking around for the best place to put it. Rose was smiling at him, as if that didn't un-nerve him if this was her way of breaking up.
"Alec, when we spoke earlier, well I was a bit mysterious, wasn't I?" she asked, staring at the disk.
"A little," he had to admit as he got everything out of the packaging.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to, it's just I didn't know how to tell ya something," she replied.
"That it's not going to work?" he asked as he surveyed the opposite wall and holding up the camera.
"What? Did I get the wrong camera?" she asked. "I'll take it back and complain then."
Alec turned back, taking his specs off one-handed then putting the camera on the desk.
"No, I meant you and me, my going away and you agreeing to seeing each other at weekends. Isn't that what you really meant Rose?" he blurted out without thinking but that was him – no nonsense was his best policy only this time, it was about to backfire on him.
"What? What do you mean by that Alec?" she asked, standing up to face him. "Oh, you thought that was what I mentioned earlier?" she smiled.
Alec wondered why she was not being serious, until she took his hand.
"You really are a plum, Alec Hardy. No, I didn't know how to tell ya that Steve from the printer's was bothering me again when he came in this morning. I've already told him I have a boyfriend but I don't think he believes me."
Alec could only stare at her. "So that's why you wanted to take photos, as well as me going away?" he had to ask as she rubbed his hand.
"Well yeah, to put him off. I did tell ya about last week, I told him I had a boyfriend before we'd actually established that," she grinned, touching his cheek with her other hand.
Alec recalled. "Yes, though it seemed we were already heading that way, before we did establish it but that was before I said I was leaving town," he replied.
"Yeah and it made no difference, did it?" Rose wondered as he found himself putting his arm around her waist.
"I thought it hadn't but has it Rose? Have you changed your mind about us, about agreeing to give it a try? If you have, say now and I'll fix the camera and go now, no sense in putting it off."
"What are you on about Alec? No, I've not changed my mind, have you?" she asked cautiously.
Alec didn't know what to think of it, he'd gone there convinced this was her way of saying it was over but by the look on her face, it was far from it.
"Daisy was right, I'm an idiot," he admitted. "I thought you had changed your mind."
"Really, when the only alternative is Steve?" she giggled, kissing his cheek. "It's you I want Alec but it seems we both had our wires crossed. Can we please get this settled? Did ya think I was breaking up with ya?"
"The thought crossed my mind but that's me Rose, after my ex left, I never trusted another woman but I should have known that did not include you. I'm sorry love, I thought the worse and I am an ass. Let me fix this camera then we'll talk properly."
Rose rubbed his arm. "Don't know about talking Alec, I'd rather be kissing you amongst other things," she grinned at him. "Me saying I had something to ask ya didn't help either, did it?"
"Not really, you have no idea what I was thinking the rest of the day," he had to admit, kissing the top of her head as he pulled her closer.
"Hope ya didn't take it out on everyone in the office?" she giggled into his shoulder, holding onto him.
"Just my DC, she'll be glad when I do leave and she probably started all the betting," was all he would admit.
"Well I won't be glad when ya leave, we do have things to sort out Alec but us breaking up is not amongst them. What I wanted to ask was if ya think Daisy would want a Saturday job or a job after school, helping me print photos so I can stop using the print shop."
Alec let go slightly. "That was it? You really had me worried love, I thought you were going to ask if I thought we could make it work when I left."
"As well as me breaking up with you?" Rose giggled, looking at him. "You're a real idiot, aren't ya?"
"Well what was I supposed the think when you are being all cryptic on the phone?" he asked.
"Blimey, I didn't mean to sound like that but Steve had just left and I was a bit worried when the buzzer went that he'd come back."
"Really?" he asked, his police detective side coming out. "Maybe you should tell me exactly where he works so I can have a few words with him then?"
"Leave it Alec, he'll get the message when I put some photos up, just like you putting one of us together on your desk. I'll just have to put up with him until then, since he'll be round tomorrow after I told the manager I wanted a delivery on Tuesday. That's why I'm thinking of printing my own and Daisy could help. I was gonna close an hour early to get them done myself, I can still order my supplies from the printers though."
Alec was so relieved he'd been wrong since their phone conversation, he just held onto her, forgetting the real reason he was there until after kissing and saying he was sorry, he finally went to get the ladder out and told Rose to set up the software on her laptop.
Once she had a good view on the screen and Alec agreeing it was the best place to put the camera, Rose led him to the curtain where the other camera was.
"Rose, we could leave this until another day love," he tried to convince her as she set the timer.
"Nope, the sooner I send these off the better so Steve gets the message," she protested as she leaned against him and he put his arms around her neck and her waist and kissed her hair.
"Just how many photos are you going to take love?" he smiled as the camera flashed and clicked.
Rose showed him as she climbed onto his lap and put her arm around his neck, kissing his cheek.
"Enough to make sure he gets the message but if I cut my opening hours next week, that won't be a problem, will it?" she asked, smiling as another photo was taken. "I won't lose any money, I'll save it on the actual printing, even having to buy better paper."
"Are you going to print these out yourself?" Alec asked as she posed him for another picture.
Rose had a wicked smile on her face. "Maybe I should have them done professionally, until I get the right photo paper?"
"You are very devious love but be careful, if you intend that Steve sees them before you get them. If he bothers you tomorrow, promise you will call me with his work details."
"Yeah. Now shut up and kiss me," Rose smiled as another flash appeared and all Alec could hear was the click of the camera as she kissed him.
He just hoped she was right, that it would warn the other man off but little did either of them know it was going to have the opposite effect.
Alec helped her to put everything away and they figured out how to record any movements from the security camera so there wouldn't be hours of near darkness though it was a low-light camera. They went across the road to eat, Rose smiling as they sat at a table.
"What's so funny love?" Alec asked her as he watched her.
"This time last week, when you were finding excuses to come and see me," she reminded him.
"Yes, well it paid off did it not?" he asked, finishing his chicken sandwich he'd chosen in contrast to Rose choosing the chicken strips and running out of clean napkins.
"Yeah, it did. I still can't believe it's only been a week. So, we're sorted then?" she asked, trying to sneak a napkin he wasn't using.
"Yes love, I think we are and I'm sorry I thought the worse after we spoke this morning. Now we only have one hurdle to get over," he smiled, putting his finger on the spare napkin and sliding it to her.
Rose went for it and he put his hand on hers.
"You mean your daughter?" Rose smiled.
"Yes, it could still go either way but we are not letting that put us off, right?" he asked as Rose wiped her fingers then took his hand.
"We might be worrying over nothing but I know how she feels. I never knew who my mum was going out with and who were just her friends but if this is a first time, at least that goes in our favour."
"Are you trying to find out if I've had other girlfriends while I have been back here?" he smiled, letting go of her hand.
Rose looked at him and grabbed his hand back.
"You can tell me if ya want to but I won't pry. I don't need to be a detective to work out Daisy's not used to you seeing anyone Alec," she smiled.
Alec thought maybe she meant nothing by the remark.
"Yes, well, I've hardly had the time between work and trying to win Daisy back and no-one at the station would take me on," he replied dryly.
Rose was trying to suppress a giggle as he frowned at her.
"Aw, poor baby, not so popular with the women at work?"
"Not exactly but the last few days they may have seen an improvement in my mood, well until earlier when I'd talked to you and I got the wrong end of the tale," he admitted.
"Sorry, I should have said what I wanted to talk to you about, it's my fault but I'd already mentioned Steve, I sort of assumed you'd know. So what about Daisy coming to work with me then?" she asked, finishing her drink.
"It's too far away for coming every night, let me talk to her about Saturday but it will only be for a few weeks love," he told her.
"Well if you're coming round every night, you could take her back?" Rose asked as he put the rubbish onto the tray.
"Maybe but would an hour be enough for you to get your orders printed out? Why not open later and do them in the mornings then finish off later?" he suggested as Rose put her empty drink carton on the tray.
"I suppose so," she agreed as they got up. "I could take the first two appointments off, I'd save money printing my own photos and maybe slip an extra one in late afternoon."
"Like you did for me?" Alec smiled as he placed the tray on the top of the bin.
Rose took his arm as they walked outside.
"Yeah, I felt sorry for ya," she giggled as they crossed the road and seeing his car. "Gonna moved that?" she nodded at it.
"I was unsure what would happen, how do you put up with me?" he asked.
"You have to ask? I'll go move the cone while you drive round, it can't be that heavy?" she suggested.
"Well just roll it to the back of the parking space then, it has a heavy rubber base to stop it falling over. Any more trouble?" he asked as he unlocked the car doors with the remote.
"Just that silly cow I had an argument with last week. She saw you putting the cone there."
"Well she knows you mean business then," he replied as he got in.
"Yeah, that's what I told her," Rose smiled as he opened the window.
He let her walk behind the shops and set off slowly, seeing her trying to drag the traffic cone and hoping she wouldn't try to lift it. He wouldn't have been able to lift it two years ago either but perhaps next time, he'd place the cone in the middle and make it easier to move it to the back. Rose stepped out of the way and he got out of the car. They walked arm in arm to the steps and he let her go first, putting his hand on her rear, making her smile.
Once inside, they kissed again and Rose went to the dresser drawer, getting the spare key out.
"Have this Alec, I know it's only for a few weeks but still, I've no-one else to give it to, especially not that disagreeable woman across the way."
"Are you sure love? Then you take my spare one, for now," he offered.
Rose smiled. "Yeah, if I can remember the address."
He leaned on her shoulder. "Well if you came to my place every night, I would have to bring you back every morning love."
"Did ya bring your stuff?" she asked as they stood holding each other.
"No, I came straight over, I didn't know what to expect love," he had to admit. "I will just have to leave early but I will bring some things round tomorrow night, if the offer is still open?"
"Yeah, of course it is you plum, sorry, I gave ya the wrong idea earlier, you thought I wanted to break up."
"Never mind love, we can make up later in bed, yes?" he suggested.
Rose smiled into his shoulder. "Yeah, we can make up. What you said, about you giving your place up, still want to give early notice and stay with me?"
"Very much so, if you still want me to but I was thinking if my ex still wants Daisy to stay with me at the weekend, you might have to agree to let her stay love?"
"If she would think about it but we can work up to that Alec, she has to accept me yet. Does your ex know about me?" Rose asked him.
He moved slightly, which told her he hadn't.
"It was hardly the topic of conversation when I'd been arguing with her on the phone about Daisy love," he admitted. "Was I supposed to say oh by the way I have a new girlfriend and she's agreed to still see me when I move?" he asked her.
"Well you'll have to tell her before Daisy does," Rose replied. "You're not keeping us a secret are ya? I can understand at work but Daisy will talk about me after this Friday, especially if she doesn't like the idea."
"I know love," he told her. "I'm sure you two will get along just fine, you are probably more nervous about it than she is and you are right, I don't make a habit of introducing her to anyone, you are the first."
He moved his head to kiss her then led her to the sofa and the kissing intensified until he lost his shirt and Rose was down to her underwear. They all but had sex on the sofa, Alec saying they should wait until they got into bed but he made her happy non the less by moving around on her and trying not to let his arm slip off the edge of the sofa, making her giggle.
They moved onto their sides, Rose wrapping her legs around his and Rose was moving her fingers through the hairs on his chest as he made circles on her breasts.
"So, no more misunderstandings then?" he asked as she smiled at him.
"Nah, we were both to blame really but I am worried Steve will be persistent."
"You can't let it worry you love, if it does, he will have won and make you doubt. He's trying to pressure you into going out with him, you need to make him understand that will never happen. What time does he come around?"
"The times vary but around ten thirty. I'll just point the camera out to him."
"Yes, make sure he sees, make a point of telling him I insisted you got a security camera and show him and also tell him I will be reviewing it when I come round after you close. That should warn him off but if you get worried, you call me. If I don't answer, call the station and ask for DC Hunter and tell her to get a unit out to you."
Rose smiled at him taking it so seriously.
"I don't think it will come to that Alec but it's really sweet of you. What would your DC think?" she teased him.
"That I'm Human after all and you are real," he smiled. "Once I have that photo of us on my desk, they can hardly deny your existence, can they?"
Rose kissed a spot on his chest, making him smile and kiss the top of her head.
"So which photo are ya gonna chose?" she asked him.
"The one where you are standing with my arms around you," he smiled. "You chose a good background for that, with the castle. Anyone would think we were actually there."
"That's the idea Alec. The kids love the jungle ones with the animals in the background peering through the long grass and the one where it looks like they've been on a water ride at the amusement park. I was gonna buy some more, they're not really too expensive, there are loads of free ones but these are high resolution and I wanted them to look realistic."
"They do love, especially the sunset one I chose where we were kissing," he teased her.
They resumed kissing and Rose moving and putting her arms around him and later, they were getting ready for bed and Alec asked her if she was serious about him bringing some of his things round.
"Yeah, I meant it Alec, we only have about five weeks you said. I want to spend it all with you, well except Saturday nights."
"Well if all goes well with you and Daisy, maybe the last few weeks she could be persuaded to let you stay if she spends the daytime with me then Sunday, we could all go out somewhere before I take her home," he suggested.
"Yeah, we can try, see what she thinks and like you said, once you move, I'll be there all weekend when I visit you."
In just her vest top she had chosen to wear in bed and a pair of PJ shorts, she went to put her arm around him as he sat on the bed to take his socks off.
"Alec, it is gonna work out, when you move?"
He finished what he was doing and turned to her.
"Yes love, stop worrying, everything will work out fine. There will be long weekends and I can take some leave when Daisy is on holiday and come up and see you. We will make it work love, just don't get tempted will you?" he teased her.
"No way Alec, he's nothing compared to you. I thought I'd never get over James, he made me feel like it was all my fault and he used me."
"No, it was not your fault he was an ass and left you to go off. It's his loss and my gain. Now, are you keeping that vest top on? Only if you are, I'm going to have to remove it."
"I thought you'd enjoy doing so?" she teased him back, kneeling on the bed and trying to get in while he stood up, Rose watching him.
They finally fell asleep after they both assured each other nothing was going to make either of them seek other company while they were parted all week once he moved. Alec had laid awake, wondering why she did put up with him but if her ex had just dumped her to go off and he was more or less doing the same, except the dumping bit, it was no wonder she was reluctant to accept they could and would make it work.
He wondered also if this James had the intention of going off and leaving her when they'd met but he himself was no better. He knew he was leaving yet he'd let himself fall for her but at least he'd asked her to stay with him. When he woke up, Rose was missing but he heard her moving around in the kitchen so just putting his trousers on, he went to see what she was doing, walking up behind her and putting his arms around her.
"Morning love, you should have woken me."
"You looked so cute. I didn't want ya to be late for work if you go get changed. That was the idea of you bringing some clothes with ya."
"I know love but I did not know how things would go last night, did I?" he replied, turning her so they could kiss.
"Never mind. I'll wait in the studio tonight then you can see if the camera's been in the right place but I'll be dodging it most of the time."
"You take all the fun out of it love," he teased as he put his hand on her rear.
They kissed goodbye and she watched him move the traffic cone then put it in the middle of the parking space then waved as he got back in his car. They both felt a lot happier now they had cleared things up and Rose even waved to the irritating woman she'd argued with as the woman was emptying her rubbish bin.
Alec got home, well it was for now but he thought Rose was right, they should spend all his remaining time here together so he packed what he needed for the rest of the week and hoped Rose would offer to do his laundry for him. After putting his holdall in the back of his car, he went off to work and thought he'd upset anyone who was now betting he'd split from his girlfriend by going round all day with a stupid grin on his face.
Rose got to work, switching the security program on and leaving it in the corner of the desktop then accessed the appointments for the following week and took off those that weren't already booked for the first two sittings. Now all she had to do was inform the printers she wanted to order their best photo paper and a supply of cardboard frames and she would be all set to do her own.
At least once she was able to start doing them, she wouldn't get nervous near the time of her daily delivery and hoped the security camera would be enough to put Steve off. That theory was about to be tested when she heard the door buzzer after a couple and a baby had just left and there was a twenty minute gap in the appointments so she could make a start with getting the photos ready for posting.
Rose was not looking forward to the delivery from the printers as she answered the buzzer. It couldn't be anyone else but the now annoying Steve unless it was Alec checking on her or a customer on the off-chance she could fit them in. She smiled as she remembered Alec's persistence that he couldn't have waited two more days to see her as Steve's voice came over the intercom as she remained silent.
"Are you going to let me in?" Steve asked impatiently.
Rose thought Alec would never say that, well not in that tone and Steve clearly sounded annoyed for some reason. She wondered if Alec had rung all the print shops in the town to find out who employed someone called Steve, she wouldn't put it past him.
"Yeah, come in," Rose had to reply, since she wanted to get on with her orders and now wishing she'd opted to print her own photos like Mickey had suggested.
The door opened and Rose made a point of standing where the security camera would pick her up, something that would make Alec smile.
"Hello Rose, thought you were gonna keep me outside all morning," Steve told her as he walked past her and put the plastic bag with the name of the studio on down, glancing at her.
"Sorry, I was a bit distracted. Let me sign for them and you can be on your way," she replied, trying to keep in line with the camera.
"I'm not in that much of a hurry," he suddenly grinned as he held the clipboard out for her to sign. "Have you maybe reconsidered what I asked you?"
Rose knew she had to put a stop to this one way or another. Whilst she had welcomed Alec's keenness to get to know her, she didn't welcome Steve's attempts.
"Nope and I won't be. Look Steve, I'm happy with my boyfriend, I won't change my mind."
"I can wait, if you get tired of him," Steve replied, putting the pen in the metal clip.
"I don't think so Steve, I told ya, he's a detective and last night, he fitted a security camera for me, you're on it now and he'll be looking at it when he calls later," she hinted, looking across at the webcam.
Steve looked a bit annoyed and stood back out of view.
"Don't you trust me or something?" he asked, stepping nearer to her.
"He doesn't like me working alone, it's for everyone's protection, not just mine. I ordered some signs for the door and the wall."
"From us?" he asked, wondering why he hadn't brought them.
"No, online, I didn't think your place would do such things," Rose replied, thinking she'd best order some the first chance she got or he'd think she had lied, not that she really cared.
She wondered if she should say he wouldn't be bringing her orders for much longer anyway but it might get back to the owner and she wanted to negotiate her paper and frame supplies, preferably to keep deliveries to a minimum or have them posted.
"You should have asked," he replied, leaning against the partition by the side of the door. "So I can't change your mind then?" he asked, seeing if the camera was the kind that moved and judging where he wouldn't be seen, Rose trying to stay in line with it to show Alec she was seriously not even considering giving Steve a chance.
Rose shook her head. "What part of no, I won't change my mind don't ya get?" Rose asked, thinking she would now be behind with what she had to do if he didn't hurry up and leave.
Steve glanced at the camera, judging if he was out of view or not, which worried Rose that Alec hadn't thought about that.
"I have things to do so if you'll excuse me, I'll let ya get on your deliveries. Don't let me keep you," she continued.
Steve passed her to go let himself out but kept his back to the camera.
"You're not keeping me, not really and I'll see you tomorrow. I'll wear you down eventually," he replied cockily.
Rose shook her head, to show Alec she'd tried her best to get Steve to back down and wished she'd put the sound option on now.
"I don't think so, you'd best give up now unless you want me to complain to your boss?" Rose asked him, thinking it was best she didn't say after today Alec would call whether she liked it or not.
"You wouldn't want to do that Rose," Steve smirked, his finger on the door release button.
Rose thought that sounded a bit like a threat but didn't say anything.
"See you tomorrow then?" Steve continued as the door was released, Rose wishing he'd just go and debating if she should call Alec but she couldn't run to him all the time when another bloke wouldn't take no for an answer.
She let out a sigh of relief as Steve left, closing the door behind him and leaning back on it when it finally clicked. She knew she should get on with her orders but went to the security program and went back like Alec had shown her. Steve had been very careful to stay out of sight, which worried her more he could do it.
That did it, tomorrow she wasn't even letting Steve inside, she would sign at the door and warn him the camera had been moved, Alec would probably move it now anyway. She made a start with one order and then had to be ready for the next client but she was going to call Alec at lunchtime as she was now worried Steve would force his way in the following day and she really didn't want to call his boss. It would be better coming from Alec.
After her next client left, she pressed on with her orders and got most of them ready but ran into her lunchbreak but she was only ten minutes late setting off so she hoped the post office would be quieter today, since she didn't normally go in on Tuesdays. After collecting her lunch, she'd no appointments for half an hour as not everyone had taken advantage of her new opening hours, she called Alec.
Alec had enjoyed keeping the office and the betters guessing when he was in a fairly good mood, since they must have noticed his change of mood last night. When he'd left the night before, he would have placed a bet himself that he'd messed things up and Rose would leave him.
He'd just got back from lunch when his phone rang to the tone he'd assigned for Rose, Daisy having shown him how and closing his office door, answered her.
"Hi sweetheart, this is an unexpected pleasure," he greeted her.
Rose thought it was better than how Steve had greeted her earlier and was glad Alec had beaten him to her.
"Yeah, hi Alec, I'm not disturbing ya am I? You're not busy?" she asked, not sure how to come out with the fact Steve had been a bit strange earlier.
Alec smiled to himself, if she had been, he wouldn't have minded being interrupted by her, she wouldn't ring during the day for no reason. Then he remembered what he'd told her about the irritating delivery guy from the printers.
"Rose, is something wrong?" he asked, getting his notepad and pen out of his jacket pocket because if she said that she'd been bothered again, he wanted details.
"Yeah, sort of. When Steve came earlier, well he was acting a bit odd and when I told him about the security camera, he kept out of the way, why would he do that?"
Alec was scribbling down what she was telling him, wanting more details.
"Go on love, what else did he do? How long was he out of the camera range?" he asked, wishing now he'd put it in a better place or she had got a proper camera that moved. "Did you rewind the recording?"
"Yeah, you can't see much of him. He asked me again and I told him you'd be looking at the recording when you came round tonight but I'm worried Alec."
Alec thought she had a right to be. What was she doing letting the man in after he'd asked her several times before?
"Rose, listen carefully love. Tell me the name of the print shop and I will call them and tell them he doesn't deliver any more unless he stays at the door."
"Yeah, that's what I was gonna do from tomorrow. Don't bother calling them Alec, I still need to deal with them even when I start printing my own photos. I won't let him in tomorrow Alec, I promise," she assured him.
"Well okay then, for now but if he tries to get in tomorrow, you call the emergency number and tell them to contact me and get someone right out to you, promise me Rose."
"Yeah, I promise but it worried me, it's not like I didn't make it clear to him I wasn't interested, even if I hadn't met you," she told him.
"I know you did Rose, I'll look at the recording tonight. Stay in the studio until I get there, I won't bother calling for my things, you come over to my flat tonight or I'll have to leave early again."
Rose smiled to herself. "You'll still have to bring me back. No, you call and get your things, I'll go upstairs. There's nothing much to see on the recording since he stayed out of the way."
"Well I still want to know where he works so text me the address and the name of the business. I will call and get his name and say you have been worried he's been delaying leaving when you work on your own."
"Great Alec, that'll just make him worse," Rose thought out loud.
"Well what do you want me to do love? I'll just give them some friendly advice about making deliveries. Do you want me to call at the takeaway then when I get there?"
"Yeah, I'll text the number then you can order before you leave to come here," she replied, feeling a bit better.
Alec said goodbye and told Rose he loved her then called his DC into his office.
"Get onto the call centre Hunter and tell them if a Miss Rose Tyler calls from Red Rose Studio and makes a complaint someone is bothering her, they are not to ask any questions and get a car straight out to her, understand?" he asked, knowing they would all enjoy learning his girlfriend's name when he'd been denying her existence for a week.
They would soon find out she was real when he put the photo on his desk and he hoped he'd get a matching frame.
"Understood Sir, is she a friend of yours?" Sandra dared ask, thinking if she told the rest of the office they would leave her alone but on the other hand, it could make them worse and make Hardy mad with her.
Alec thought he'd have to admit it sooner or later.
"Yes, she's my girlfriend and she works alone. Someone has started bothering her whilst making a delivery and I don't want it going any further, I want a stop to it and don't you go telling everyone her name Hunter, understood?"
"No Sir, I've been trying to get them to stop, I told them I was having nothing else to do with their stupid gossip. I'll get right onto it but when you say bothering?" she asked.
"They only need to know she may need some assistance Hunter," Alec insisted, knowing this was becoming a mistake.
Sandra went off and Alec knew they'd get it out of her later but who was he to spoil their fun if she didn't want to play along with them? Now he'd got that organized, since he'd nothing better to do and Rose had sent him more details, along with the takeaway number, he called the print shop manager, who was call Manny.
Manny had wondered what was wrong when Steve had got back earlier, Steve saying it was nothing but he'd overheard several of the others laughing during their lunch break and Steve bragging he was wearing down a young blonde at the photo studio at the other side of town and would get into her underwear and her bed by the end of the week.
Manny didn't usually interfere with his employees but sexually harassing a female customer wasn't good for business if they reported the guilty employee. He'd decided to leave it for now and hoped Miss Tyler would either give into Steve voluntarily or Steve would get tired of waiting and find someone else to replace his last girlfriend who had obviously seen him for the cheat he was.
That was until he got a phone call, his secretary saying she insisted he took it and not pretend he was out or he was busy as it was the police. Alec had thought if a unit had to be sent to Rose's studio, it was best he made it official.
"This is DI Hardy from Sandbrook police, are you the manager?" he asked when Manny had the phone thrust in his hand when he tried to argue about it.
"I'm not covering for ya Manny," Maureen had told him as she put Alec on 'Hold' while she argued yet again with her boss.
"Fine, if it's nothing, I'm docking your wages for wasting my time," he had huffed at her as he pressed the button and asked who it was.
"So what can I do for you, detective inspector?" Manny asked calmly, wondering if was about someone Steve had already upset or he'd not been forthcoming with his progress on the blonde from the photo studio and she'd got annoyed with him.
"You have someone call Steve works as a delivery driver?" Alec asked, thinking it was a dumb question but he had to make sure he had the right person.
"Yeah why?" Manny wanted to know. "If it concerns an employee, I'm not responsible for what they do when they're out," he defended himself, thinking he shouldn't maybe leave them to do what they like but how could he stop them?
"Really? What about when they harass your customers, particularly female customers?" Alec asked him, thinking maybe he'd have to pay a visit.
After Alec said Manny was responsible for anyone in his employment when they were working inside or outside the premises, Manny went off to wait for Steve getting back, an annoyed look on his face.
"Steve, a word," Manny told him as Steve got out of the van. "Have you been harassing women while you've been out?"
When Manny had finished giving him a lecture, Steve was even more determined to get into the young blonde's underwear, policeman boyfriend or not because he would make sure he had an alibi and get Maureen to cover for him. Then he'd wait for the bimbo to come out and drag her back inside because he'd figured out where her security camera was aimed and he could avoid it while he got her behind her desk.
As Alec was trying not to leave early, Rose was packing up after looking at the security recording again and was going to ask Alec to maybe move the camera, Steve was debating whether to go back to Rose's studio again. He decided he'd give her one last chance and if she didn't comply, he'd go back the following evening and she wouldn't get a choice in the matter and he just hoped her boyfriend wouldn't go moving the camera.
Just as Steve was about to go home, he was going through the following day's deliveries, trying to rearrange the one for Rose so he'd have more time to try to persuade her one last time to spend some time with him since that morning, someone had held him up and had got him annoyed.
He'd not meant to snap at the blonde, it wouldn't help his cause in getting her into bed he supposed although he only wanted a bit of a fling with her since Caroline had dumped him when he'd been getting friendly with one of her friends on Saturday night at the pub. He thought she had some nerve getting mad with him when she'd refused to have sex with him the night before because he'd drunk too much.
He saw Rose's delivery, today had been a bonus since it now appeared Rose had changed her opening hours and he'd got to see her an extra day. Now he planned on getting her into bed a few times then suggest they toned it down and string her along while he found a replacement for Caroline, the blonde would fill the gap nicely, since he never got serious with one of the print shop's customers.
When Manny had been waiting for him, it had put him in a worse mood because he thought someone had complained about him. Now he was staring through the plastic at a photo of the blonde and some older bearded bloke almost kissing and he flung the bag back on the pile as Manny came back in.
"Thought you'd be gone by now Steve," Manny stated, it not sounding like a question.
"Just sorting out for tomorrow, I don't want you having another go at me, do I?" Steve asked.
"I wasn't 'having a go' with you as you put it but getting calls from police detectives is not good for business Steve. She sounded like she was his girlfriend so just be careful. I don't want him around here with uniformed officers arresting you for harassing her."
"Did he say she was his girlfriend?" Steve asked, thinking that was rather obvious but the photo could have been just in fun, maybe for his benefit to get him to back off and Rose was just giving him a few hints.
Not that it was going to put him off.
"It sounded like it," Manny had to admit. "Just be careful, she must know the inspector to have mentioned it to him suddenly, it's doubtful she would have gone into the police station to complain and him taking it seriously. They would have sent a uniformed officer first before he got involved, unless you're not telling me something?"
Steve shook his head. "I was just having a bit of fun with her Manny, just chatting her up, I wasn't going anywhere with it. She's new in town, I just asked her to go for a drink with me," Steve tried to bluff, since Manny didn't seem to want to drop the subject.
"Well just you be careful," Manny warned him, seeing the top of the pile of deliveries and wondering if that was Miss Tyler and the inspector who had called him.
Steve turned to leave as Manny called after him.
"I don't want to hear any more about this Steve, I mean it."
Back at the studio, Rose had locked the studio door, after looking around several times to make sure Steve wasn't hanging around and thought of asking Alec about a camera on the intercom to see who was at the door. Since when had she got so paranoid? Had Alec made her so, with him not liking her working alone? She smiled as she turned to go to her flat and thought she'd have to thank him if he had.
She had picked up the software disk for the webcam so she could install it on her own laptop if Alec wanted to view the footage from earlier, even if was only to see how evasive Steve had been. Alec had been right, she shouldn't be so trusting letting Steve in again after the last few attempts to ask her out.
When Alec had left the station, everyone rounded on poor Sandra, after she'd been making some phone calls and they'd not dared say anything while Alec had been watching them carefully from his office, them all wishing he'd pull the blinds down and pretend he was doing something other than thinking about his girlfriend.
Alec had been thinking about Rose but only because he'd been worried about her and wished he'd dared to leave early to catch her before she left the studio but he couldn't be with her all the time and he had to trust she could handle herself should Steve bother her again. Now he had to think about her safety even more and thought maybe he should consult a security expert to fit proper cameras and a video intercom.
He just hoped Rose wouldn't think he was being over-protective and didn't trust her. As he left, he knew Hunter would be getting questioned about what he'd had her arranging earlier but she could look after herself and she'd already told him she was no longer subscribing to office gossip. Just as long as she wasn't giving them even more information but Rose's name would come up more sooner or later.
Sandra had pretended not to notice everyone looking in her direction.
"Come on Hunter, the game's up," Mills told her, sitting on the edge of her desk. "What's Hardy been having you doing for him? I hope it was police business and not personal?"
"I can't say Sir, he just asked me to arrange something for him and it wasn't personal," Sandra tried to explain as Mills picked up her empty coffee mug and she hoped he wouldn't break it since her son had made it in pottery class.
She took it from him and placed it out of his reach.
"If you say so Hunter but we need more, we all depend on you and you were making what sounded like an important call earlier, something about if someone rang the call centre. Come on then."
Sandra got up, making him jump. "I don't care, I'm not being your spy so report me. It's his business, not anyone else's and I'm not getting caught up with it."
Alec had driven home, wondering what the rest of the office thought about Hunter making a call for him but he had to be prepared in case Rose really did need some assistance. He knew the call centre handlers would take their time getting someone out to her but he had every right to be worried if the man could just be admitted somewhere, he may be a danger to other lone workers although Rose was his main concern.
He got his large holdall and began filling it, remembering the last time he'd used it – leaving Broadchurch to be near Daisy and maybe hoping to make peace with Tess, enough to let him spend time with them both but Tess had rejected him again though fortunately, Daisy had been willing to try.
Now he was going back and was beginning to regret leaving Rose behind, it was like leaving Daisy all over again. He called the takeaway near Rose's studio and then checking he had everything for a few nights stay at Rose's flat, set off and hoped things were now going to work out between them.
He collected the food then drove his car around the back of the shops, seeing a woman from the other balcony watching out of her kitchen window, just waving to her and making her move and he wondered why she was so upset he'd stopped her friend from parking there. Surely the woman had her own parking space?
He got the key out Rose had given him that morning before he'd left but thought he'd maybe knock this time as he didn't want to spill the takeaway cartons and make a mess of his suit and he didn't want Rose to think he was keen to use it just yet, let her get used to it.
Rose had got changed and stopped herself staring out of the window and waiting for him to arrive. She almost jumped at a tap on the door but as she went to open it, she could tell it was him through the rippled glass.
"Hi, forget I gave you the key?" Rose grinned as she let him in.
"I had my hands full love, sorry. I'll use it next time eh?" he asked, going to kiss her cheek as he handed her the white plastic bag that was getting hot from the steam.
They busied themselves getting the food out and sat down, Rose getting to like him being there and wishing she'd not been so stupid as to assume he was going to break up with her.
"So, apart from your nuisance caller, how did things go today love?" Alec asked as Rose giggled he'd caught a bit of food on his slightly shaved off beard and went for it.
Alec tried not to look embarrassed.
"Nothing much, I was gonna ask ya if I should maybe invest in a video intercom?" she replied.
"Yes, I was going to suggest it love, you can't be too careful who you let in. You promised you would keep him at the door tomorrow but if he tries to force his way in, well the camera needs moving slightly."
"I installed the software on my own laptop before you got here," she told him, pleased it seemed to have installed properly but not sure of the IP address it had been set up under.
"Then I'll take a look at earlier. Do you think he was avoiding the camera on purpose?" he asked as he finished wiping his face and thinking a bit more of his beard could come off, well maybe.
"I don't know but he's not getting in tomorrow, I can tell ya that much," Rose insisted.
"Well I had a word with his boss, in general and hopefully he'll be told to just deliver and then leave, as he should," he told her.
"Yeah, I hope so. I don't want him hanging around when I leave work either at lunchtime or evening. If I had video on the door, I'd maybe be able to see if he was there."
"I will get some advice tomorrow and get someone round to install one, you should get a discount on your insurance for the studio," he replied, taking her plate. "Now show me what happened this morning, after you give me a proper kiss."
He finally put the laptop on and selected the camera, since the internet connection found other sources and played back the recording, smiling at Rose's early attempts to dodge being seen and grinning when she'd made a point of letting him see her.
"Talk about him dodging the camera love," Alec laughed as she grinned back at him. "Yes, I think it could do with moving but I will contact someone tomorrow and arrange for them to point out the best place and install the intercom. You can still keep your old one for opening the door, no need to change that."
"Yeah, okay but I hope it's not too expensive though?"
"You will get a discount on your insurance love, I can also use my influence to get the installer to keep the costs down, I'll ask at the station who the safety officer recommends. Have you had the smoke alarm tested?"
Rose thought he was maybe going a bit far with this safety stuff.
"Yeah, there was a record of it when I moved in, for the studio and the flat. It's stuck on the fuse box. Are ya gonna turn that off so we can get down to doing some snogging or we can dance if you want?"
After 'smooching' in one spot as the music played then getting on the sofa, Rose almost loosing her underwear but managing to persuade him to wait until they got into bed, Alec was sitting up in her bed, arms behind his head and propped up on a pillow.
Rose came back in after insisting he used the bathroom first, she was wearing just a loose vest top and knickers and Alec moved one arm to hold it out to her, leaning forward.
"Come here love," he encouraged her, holding the duvet back for her to join him. "Rose, I want to say sorry again for yesterday, I was a complete ass. I should have let you explain first. Now I'm worried about you being on your own."
"I'll be fine, he was just being obnoxious, I bet he's fallen out with his girlfriend or trying to cheat on her. I can fend him off if he doesn't get in the studio, there are always people around."
"Maybe in the morning love," he replied as she put her arm around him and snuggled into his arms. "What about when you leave eh? I would prefer for you to wait in the studio for me, I can be here earlier if I had to."
"What about those in your office, you'd be giving them even more to talk about," she smiled, kissing his shoulder.
"Let them talk, it won't be for much longer," he replied, then thought maybe she didn't need reminding of that fact. "Sorry love, I know that's a sore point. We'll make the best of it in the time we have. I was thinking maybe you were right, I should stay here during the week and you come and stay with me at the weekend? I'll talk to Daisy about it."
"We should see how I get on with her first before we make plans Alec," Rose reminded him, kissing an interesting place on his chest and making him shiver.
"If you keep doing that love, never mind what she thinks," he replied as she did it again. "She'll just have to get used to having you around love, when you come for visits, she won't be able to avoid you."
"I don't want to force her to like me Alec," Rose told him, putting her finger gently on the spot she'd been kissing to go to the other side.
"No-one will be forcing her love, she's old enough to know that me and her mum are never getting back together. I tried, when I first came back here but she turned me down yet again. I'd asked her when she used to visit Broadchurch over that old case."
"Aw, poor Alec," Rose sympathized, kissing the spot gently then getting bolder as she glanced up at him.
"What are you doing to me?" he laughed, enjoying the sensation. "You are going to make it difficult to leave, you know that?"
"Yeah but I won't stop ya, you're doing it for Daisy, I respect that. I wish my dad had been around when I was her age, I was a proper rebel."
"I just bet you were," Alec laughed as he tightened his grip on her. "Seriously Rose, do you want to stay here? When I leave? Neither of us knew we were going to meet when we made our plans."
"I can't get out of my lease Alec, I took it for twelve months to see how I got on."
"Well you seem to be doing okay, it seems popular enough but does it matter who runs it?" he asked as she reached up for a kiss.
"Whatcha mean? You mean get someone in to run the place? Alec, I made the decision to start on my own and I like it, I can't just give it up, not so soon. I have a loan to pay back and other things to consider."
"Rose, I promised myself I would never ask you to give up your career but surely you can work from anywhere? Think about it love, there's a few weeks before I leave here, you could get a manager in to run the place or better still, take on a partner or someone who wants to buy you out."
Rose tried to prop herself up, giving him the advantage of putting his hand up the front of her baggy vest top.
"Maybe you're right, I just chose this place at random because it had just become vacant and people knew it before. How am I gonna find something in Broadchurch in time? This took me ages to find and settle on, I turned a few others down."
"Well now you have an incentive to find another place love. Just consider it, it will make no difference who runs the place, just take a step back, say you are branching out," he suggested.
"I suppose I could always try advertising? It might take a while though."
"Well the sooner you get started? Rose, I would never ask you to give it all up love but if you find somewhere else? You only left because of your ex, did you not?" he asked, feeling her breasts with one hand, his other on her bare shoulder.
Rose took his arm, trying to keep her balance.
"Yeah, how could I have stayed, James was a constant reminder of what an idiot I let him make out of me. I know you wouldn't ask me to give everything up Alec but I may still have to stay behind."
"We'll manage love, if we know it's not going to be for long. Now come here for me and let me show you what it will be like if I stay over every night."
Rose giggled as he moved his other hand to her rear, sliding his fingers under her skimpy underwear and squeezing her bum.
"Yeah? Even when I stay at your place?"
"Well you will have to learn to stay quiet, won't you?" he suggested, rubbing her inner thigh.
Rose grabbed his hand and he thought she was going to move it. She did, to where she wanted it as she put an arm around his shoulder.
"Best get some practice then?" she smiled as he reached over to turn out the lamp without her falling over.
The next morning, Alec waking first and waking her gently by running his fingers under the leg of her underwear and making her wriggle, they still had a few things to talk about but they were both in good moods.
"So you call the rental agency first and inform them you are taking on a partner or a manager and that nothing will be affected by you moving," Alec suggested as they held each other as he was about to leave.
"Yeah, then when I get chance, I'll start to look for anyone who might be interested. I think it would be better taking on a partner, they'd have more incentive and can take over the running of the place. So, see ya tonight then and use your key this time."
Alec did a mock salute as he moved his hand from her rear where he'd been rubbing it without thinking.
"Yes Ma'am," he joked. "Wait for me in the studio if you want?"
"Nah, I'll be fine and I want to cook for you tonight," she replied, patting his rear. "Nice bum Alec."
"Yes, well you would know after last night love but I have to go now, you be careful today love and I will get a security expert to contact you."
"Yeah, okay then. See ya later."
They kissed goodbye, Rose standing on the balcony and waving as he moved the traffic cone.
As Alec set off, a bit later than he'd been doing, Steve had got to work and was rearranging the deliveries so he could spend more time talking Rose into dumping the man with the beard and thinking despite him being in the police, there was very little he could do as long as he himself kept Rose out of view of the webcam.
Rose went to the store then went to work, little knowing what Steve had planned if she didn't give in to him.
Steve was about to set off when Manny stopped him.
"Remember what I told you last night Steve. Get the customer to sign and leave, I just got a complaint from Thompson's that you were late delivering their leaflets."
"That wasn't my fault, that woman had parked her car where I usually stop and I couldn't get near, not without getting fined for double parking," Steve protested.
"Well you should have put the sign in then made it quick before the traffic warden saw you, loads of other delivery drivers manage. Anyway, don't hang around the photography studio any more."
Steve shrugged his shoulders, he'd had a good look at the photos Rose was waiting for before Manny had caught him and he was even more determined he was going to lure her away, one way or another. He planned on being friendly to her, like he'd not seen the photos then go back and wait for her at five by phoning Manny's assistant and saying he was going to take the van for cleaning and take it home with him.
Everyone in Alec's office were wondering where he was as he called into the safety officer's small office, to ask about Rose getting a camera on the door. That meant admitting his concerns for his now girlfriend.
"We don't often see you around Hardy," Inspector Walker told him as he gestured for Alec to take a seat.
"Yes, well I've had no reason until now. I need the name of a reputable security company to fit a door viewer where my girlfriend works. She just has an intercom and she needs to be able to see who's there."
That was news to Barry Walker – that Hardy had a girlfriend. He'd heard the DI had been married to a DS previous to him leaving then coming back several years later and he'd also heard talk in the canteen but not subscribed to the betting that was going on.
"Well, sounds like she can't be too careful. It shouldn't be too expensive for her and her insurance will benefit from one being installed." He went in his desk drawer where he kept his leaflets and contact's business cards.
"Do you want me to pay her a visit?" Barry offered.
Alec wasn't sure about revealing to the rest of the station what his girlfriend looked like but she would surely get the photos back today and he had to display one of them on his desk.
"Sure, I'll give you the address. Maybe you can meet a supplier there later?"
That arranged, he set off back to his office, sending Rose a text, hoping it would reassure her he was taking it seriously. It did reassure her as she made a drink and sent a message back and she wasn't now quite as worried when the time came for Steve to bring her order.
She just had time to make a note of what she'd need to start printing her own photos before her first sitting then got her card-backed envelopes re-ordered from the auction site and had her list of photos to go out. Steve was pulling into the car park at the opposite side as it was fairly busy, him wondering if half of the cars were left by various people who found it cheaper to get the bus into town rather than pay the high car-parking charges.
He pressed the buzzer and waited to be admitted to Rose's studio, unaware she was onto him and been warned by Alec not to let him in. Little did Steve know that Barry Walker had contacted a friend of his who installed cameras and since he'd not been busy, was just getting off the phone with Rose as Alec had given him her shop number.
"So Miss Tyler, I'll see you around eleven then?" he'd asked her. "I'll give you my best advice and DI Hardy is right, you are asking for trouble taking the word of someone who says they are bringing a delivery."
That didn't reassure Rose too much, she already knew that. "Yeah, I was warned," she tried to laugh. "I'll be free from eleven thirty but it won't take long will it? I have to get my orders ready."
"I'll give you some safety advice and a qualified security expert will show you the best product for your place of business. See you then," Barry told her.
Rose had just got off the phone when the buzzer sounded and she knew who it was. Now was the time to make a few changes, since people were now aware of her situation and it wouldn't help if she ignored the advice and still let Steve in. Customers, she'd just have to trust, since she had their names and who would be with them.
She pressed the intercom, trying to pretend she wasn't bothered. "Who is it?" she asked quietly.
"Come on Rose, it's my usual time," Steve spoke back, wondering what had come over her the last few days.
Rose thought maybe it was but it always varied by a few minutes, depending on if the car park was busy or not and wondering where all the car occupants went.
Rose was ready to stop the door being opened fully, one hand already on the door handle as she released it and Steve tried to push it open, him feeling some resistance of Rose's foot being also behind it. He saw her looking back at him.
"What's wrong, not gonna let me in?" Steve asked as it was just wide enough for her to see her order and his clipboard.
"Well I can sign for my order here, I'm busy this morning and I don't have time to mess around," Rose told him, holding her arm out towards her package, seeing the plastic bag was facing the other way and not on the side with her details, like she normally received it.
She knew Steve had done it on purpose, that he'd been looking. Well maybe now he'd get the message and back off. She had no idea it was going to be just the opposite. Steve tried to act normally even though he was getting mad.
"Suit yourself, I haven't got all morning either, I get into bother for being late with the other customers," he huffed back as he held out the plastic bag then the clipboard. "I thought I was doing you a favour, you being new to the area but I can take a hint. Be on your own then if your new boyfriend doesn't work out."
Rose looked up from signing, trying to hand the clipboard back.
"I don't think it's a good idea if I let you in any more, it holds me up so I'll be signing out here from now on," Rose tried to say calmly, even though her heart was racing.
Steve gave her a glare. "Don't you trust me then?" he asked, taking the pen back.
"It's not just you, I got some advice and I'm just following it," Rose tried to tell him. "I told ya about the camera I had installed."
Thinking she was over-reacting at his hints to take her out, he tried to laugh it off but it still annoyed him.
"See you tomorrow then, if you're not gonna let me in," he tried to sound normal.
Rose breathed a sigh of relief as he turned to leave, closing the door. She now hoped he'd give up now she was no longer letting him in the studio and wished she'd stopped him after the first time he'd asked her, before she'd even been sure Alec was going to ask her out, let alone her saying he was her boyfriend.
She took the photos out, smiling at the top one of her and Alec almost kissing and put them in the drawer until later, she would have to look for some wall frames on Saturday and wondered if she'd be looking at the same time as Alec, if he somehow convinced his daughter to let her stay on Friday night.
She knew she had to give him some time alone with Daisy, it wasn't fair he introduced the two of them properly as her being his new girlfriend then pushing for her staying, let alone spending the weekend with them but he was right, once he moved, the teenager would have to get used to it although Daisy would have him to herself the rest of the week – unless someone could be found to run the studio.
That was now another thing she had to do which cut into her already busy schedule and any spare time she'd had the day before, she wished she had every day but her Tuesday opening wouldn't always be so quiet as the first one. She now wondered if it was such a good idea to sacrifice an appointment for the sake of saving a bit of money printing her own photos. At least now, Steve had been told he was no longer going to be admitted and once she got the door camera fixed, Alec would be on to him if Steve did try anything.
She had just finished with a woman and a toddler and was seeing them out when two men were approaching the studio just on half eleven, seeing a blue van with ladders on top and a security sign on the side.
"Miss Tyler?" she was asked, a man in a suit going into his jacket pocket and pulling out an ID card. "DI Hardy asked me to call, we spoke earlier."
"Yeah, hi, come on in," Rose replied, forgetting everything she'd been told but surely Alec hadn't meant don't let the police and a security expert in?
Walker asked Rose a few question while his friend Alan pointed out where Rose would be best having the camera Alec had put up for her pointing at the door slightly to catch anyone standing there, at least until she got a video intercom fitted, which he said he'd give her a special rate for since it was through the police.
While Rose and the inspector were talking, his friend went to get his own ladder and said he'd move the camera slightly and arranged to call on Friday morning to fit the door camera. Rose thanked them even though she was now late with her orders, the post office would be busy and she'd have to wait not only there but in the sandwich shop but as Alec had pointed out, she was asking for trouble if she didn't at least try to improve her security.
She wished now the door wasn't one with the glass blacked out and wondered if it was worth changing it. It may have been but after they'd talked about her getting someone in to take over, maybe not, she could manage with an extra camera for now and it would go in her favour with the insurance.
Alec had been pleased when Walker called him back to say him and a security installer were going out to visit Rose later as that was one less thing for him to worry about. Now all that remained was to break the news to Daisy that Rose may be staying with them at weekends and hope she wouldn't get mad at him and refuse to move. He'd only agreed to move for her benefit but who was he trying to kid?
Things were becoming unbearable again with Tess, who was being a bit of a cow over Daisy leaving, now she knew how he'd felt years ago when he'd had to leave their daughter behind and try to get his life back together again. He now also had to worry Daisy would admit to her mother that his new girlfriend was joining them at weekends and if they could manage it, that Rose would be going to live with them in Broadchurch.
Now he was looking forward more to going back there and starting over yet again, with Rose and Daisy, if Rose didn't change her mind or she couldn't get anyone to run her studio. What then though? She wouldn't give it up for him would she? One man had already left her, now he'd contemplated doing the same but had managed to salvage the situation.
He'd got a message from Rose that she'd not let Steve in the studio so he'd sent one back saying she'd done the right thing and that he loved her. He'd also said he was going to speak to Daisy before he came round later and break the news to her – that Rose might be going with them or joining them on a permanent basis later and see if Daisy ran away from the idea.
Steve had to drive back past where Rose's studio was but thought nothing of a blue van parked in the parking area, why should he? He was sure she was confident enough with him not pushing his way inside when she'd clearly been told by this detective not to let him in but now he knew if he waited until later, she'd maybe turn the camera off when she was ready to leave or he'd keep low so neither of them could be seen.
Then it would be her word against his, he'd say she'd changed her mind and had let him in and was trying not to let her new boyfriend see she'd been on the verge of dumping him. Pleased with himself, he set off back for a late lunch and to convince Maureen that the van needed a good clean and he'd take it after work. He wasn't going to say well after work and not bother going back there and use the late opening van and car wash after he'd dealt with Rose.
He'd try to charm his way in but if she refused, well he wasn't opposed to forcing her back inside, there would be less people around at that time and since the camera she had pointed towards her desk and where she took photos, he could dodge under it, taking her with him. It would serve her right for refusing to have a drink with him and her police detective boyfriend would think she was compliant and leave her for letting someone in after closing time.
Rose had finally got caught up, leaving her visit to the post office until later and finding it quieter, Alec had heard back from Walker and was pleased Rose had easily agreed to spending a bit of money for her own safety, even though hopefully, it would only be for a few weeks but better safe than sorry and it took some of the worry of her being alone away, though not completely.
He decided to call Daisy just after four when she should be home and hoped she'd accept that things had changed between him and Rose and that she was no longer just a friend. It went better than he'd hoped as he told her.
"I'm glad it worked out Dad," Daisy told him as she'd just got in and was looking in the fridge. "Mum's not home yet so if you want to talk about Rose?"
"Yes, well with you agreeing to have her over on Friday night, well maybe not this week but over the coming weeks, maybe you wouldn't object to her spending more time with us?" he asked hopefully, aware he was being watched.
"I'll have to think about it Dad," Daisy replied, knowing before all this trouble she'd got herself into, she wouldn't be so keen to spend the weekend alone with him, let alone move away with him.
"Yes, you do that then but I already told you, she will be coming down for visits," he replied, not sure if he should add he'd already more or less asked Rose to come and live with them when they got there.
"Just how serious are you two then?" Daisy asked, since she needed to know. "Does mum even know about her, apart from Rose taking the photos?"
"Are you coming right after school?" he asked nervously, not sure since they'd arranged no actual time and trying to avoid answering her.
"Yeah, why don't you pick me up after work then you can call at the studio for Rose?" Daisy suggested.
This was going to be easier than he imagined, Alec was thinking.
"We'll do that then but Daisy, don't say anything to your mum eh? What's she going to think me picking you up and calling for Rose?"
"She'll find out Dad," Daisy had to laugh. "Best tell her or she'll be mad with you."
"Well let her be mad at me then, it won't change anything, will it?" Alec asked. "She can't stop you going with me, you've not changed your mind have you?"
"No, not yet but Dad, seriously, if you've got involved with Rose, where does that leave me?"
"Daisy, nothing will change, we'll still go back to Broadchurch and as for Rose?" he started to say.
"What about her Dad? Can you both just see each other at weekends? Maybe you could but if you're both getting serious?" Daisy asked him. "You're going to ask her to move with us, aren't you?"
What could he say? He could hardly deny it. "We'll talk about it on Friday, she may not be able to move anyway, because of the lease on her studio. Just be open-minded to the idea Daisy, give her a chance. You've put up with Dave all this time, what's so different?" he asked.
"That's just it Dad, you had no time for me, you left and mum took up with Dave. What am I suppose to think?" she asked, sounding upset.
"You'll like Rose, I promise and she understands. It's just someone left her, not so long ago and I want to prove I'm not going to do the same. She knows how important it is I spend time with you. Nothing will change. We'll talk more on Friday."
Daisy agreed and Alec sat back, rubbing his face and leaving Sandra to wonder if it was over his girlfriend or his teenage daughter. She wasn't however going to ask, blow to the rest of the office, they could get their own information on their boss, who suddenly looked vulnerable and more Human than when he'd arrived.
As he got ready to leave, little did he know Steve had missed his break, phoned Maureen with his lame excuse and she'd not questioned it, though she'd wondered why he was actually bothered the van suddenly needed cleaning, she usually had to smack his arm a few times to get him to grudgingly spend the time taking it.
Rose was packing up, happier she was getting another camera, even though she'd be on a tighter budget and may have to think about fitting a few more appointments in, not making less. She had left the camera on, now catching most of the door where it opened and was about to turn off the lights, checking everything else was switched off.
There was a glow from the red light on the camera, the infra-red kicking in so it would pick anything up in the dim light, Steve had got out of his van and was walking across the car park, having watched Rose lower the grill earlier but she'd not noticed his van parked at the side of a larger delivery one and just as she came out, she turned around and saw him.
Her heart leaped as she instinctively knew he wasn't there making another delivery and him leaving so easily earlier had lured her into thinking he'd given up. She knew she had to face up to him.
"What are you doing back here?" she asked as she was about to lock the door behind her but delaying.
"You've no excuse now Rose so are you going to let me in or do I have to drag you in?" he replied, going for her arm.
Rose knew she only had a second to break free as he grabbed her arm.
"Whatcha think ya doing?" Rose shouted, loud enough for anyone passing to their car would hear. "I've had the camera moved, you step one foot inside and it'll pick ya up."
"Shut up Rose, you think I'm going to fall for that trick?" Steve hissed as Rose tried to struggle free.
"Yeah, you'd better, my boyfriend will have you locked up and throw the key away. Now get off me and leave while ya still can," Rose replied defiantly, thinking his grip was strong but he'd forgotten her other arm was fairly free, her shoulder bag just hanging on it as it had slipped down.
"Shut up and get inside or do I have to drag you?" Steve persisted, trying to push her.
Rose saw her chance, let her shoulder bag drop lower and as Steve pushed her against the door, she pulled free of his grip, swung the bag, tipping him off-balance and breaking free pushed the door that hadn't locked properly. Steve recovered quickly, trying to grab her shoulder bag as Rose tried to close the door behind her, thankful she'd not completely locked it and with all her strength she heard the door click and swearing coming from outside as she'd caught his finger when he'd not moved it in time.
She heard banging on the door, hoping by now someone would have noticed him and think it was strange but Alec had been hanging around a few nights last week, would anyone think it was unusual or think she'd invited yet another man in after she'd closed the studio? Rose reached for the light switch, just the front lights and got her phone out, forgetting calling Alec and dialed the emergency number.
Sandra's call to them paid off as Rose told the operator where she was and someone was trying to get in her studio, Steve now pressing the intercom and telling her if she didn't let him in, he'd be waiting when she came out so she reached for the 'Off' position of the intercom and waited for the operator, who told her a car was on its way and asking if she was safe for now.
"Yeah, he can't get in but he just said on the intercom he'd wait for me going out. Is he stupid enough to think I wouldn't report it? Can you get the officers to hurry up? I hope someone spots him and asks what he's doing," Rose told the woman.
"Someone will be with you shortly, don't answer the door until the officers identify themselves, is your intercom still on?" the woman asked her, seeing the message Sandra had left and seeing Alec's name had been used for authorizing a rapid response if Rose called.
"I turned it off but I'll hear anyone else out there. I'm having a video intercom installed on Friday, my boyfriend advised me to get one," Rose told the woman calmly.
"That would be DI Hardy?" the woman smiled, knowing there had to be a reason the instructions had come from him.
"Yeah, why, had he already said I might need some help?" Rose asked.
"We had instructions to give you priority if you called. Do you know the name of the man outside?"
"I just know his name's Steve and he works at Manningham Printers on the other side of town, he delivers my photos I have printed there."
She assumed the operator was typing as it went quiet on the other end and Steve was mumbling outside, she could still hear him. Then she could hear a siren in the distance and prayed Steve wouldn't think it was for him so he could drive off before they got there.
"Are you still there Miss Tyler?" the woman asked her.
"Yeah, I can hear sirens, thanks. I should call DI Hardy, he'll have left the station by now," Rose replied, hoping he'd stop the car and answer her call, not being sure if there was a hands-free device in his car.
"You do that Miss Tyler, I'll give you a crime number in case there are any more disturbances."
Steve stopped pressing the intercom, reckoning she'd turned it off and leaned against the wooden panel in the small entranceway, having pushed the metal grill all the way up, Rose only ducking under it, which had been part of the reason she'd got away from him.
He was furious she'd slipped out of his grasp. The door hadn't closed behind her as she'd come out – had she been half expecting him? Maybe he should have waited until the following evening then but she might have alerted her boyfriend and he'd leave work early so that was out. People were getting in their cars but taking no notice of him, they probably thought he was waiting for her coming out – which he was. She couldn't stay in there all night – she had to eat to start off with.
He heard a siren in the distance but it was home time, anything could be going on but a few minutes later, the siren got louder and he wondered if she'd dared call her boyfriend but would he have thought it that important to send a squad car? He was about to try the intercom again when the siren stopped and a marked police car pulled up at the entrance to the small car park and he panicked.
He quickly moved away as the two officers, a male and a female were talking on the radio and he dodged into the store next door. Rose in the meantime had called Alec, who'd stopped the car and had people sounding their horns at him, Alec just telling them where to go and shouting out of the window he was the police when someone called out and said he needed reporting.
"Bloody stupid drivers," he cursed as he answered when he heard Rose panicking saying Steve was trying to get in, before he'd even had chance to say anything. He put the hazard warning lights on and told Rose to calm down.
"Rose, are you okay? Did you dial the emergency number?" he asked, trying to calm down himself or his pacemaker may not be able to cope.
Rose heard the siren getting closer then stop. "Yeah, I think a car's here, there was a siren but it's stopped and I think Steve's gone away," Rose tried to assure him.
"Let the officers in love, I'll be there in a few minutes, I got held up on my way out," Alec explained.
He had got caught by the chief, who told him not to contact the call centre and give priority to his girlfriend if she called so he'd had to explain.
"I would not normally do so," Alec had to tell his chief. "She's being pestered by a delivery driver and I told her if he got violent with her to call the emergency number."
"Yes, I understand your concern Alec but we can't choose who to give priority to, that's up to the call-handlers," the chief told him.
"Well I would think if someone is trying to force themselves on a woman who had plainly told him several times she already has a boyfriend and won't take no for an answer is a priority, if he threatens her," Alec replied, trying to get away. "She works alone, she has to know her call, if she needs to make one, will be treated urgently."
The chief wasn't about to let it go. "It will just make the rumours going around stronger if word gets out Alec, let's hope she never has to make such a call and in future, tell her to get some security," the chef replied.
"I have, the safety officer called to see her this morning, she's getting a video door entry system installed," Alec replied, thinking this was a waste of time.
"Good, then she won't let anyone in she doesn't want to," the chief told him.
So now, he was sat in his car, about five minutes away, hearing a siren in the distance and hoping it was going in her direction and listening to Rose telling him roughly what had happened.
"Rose, just let the officers in and keep them there until I arrive, I'm only five minutes away love. Are you okay?"
Rose relaxed a little and went to her desk, sitting down since the police hadn't yet knocked on the door. She'd given a brief description of Steve and hoped it would be enough but she didn't know he'd dodged into the store next door as the bakery was already closed and Steve had been watching out of the window, seen his chance after buying some chewing gum when he couldn't think of anything else to buy and had slipped unseen back to his van.
Now, he'd driven off to the van wash and hoped no-one would believe the blonde but now, he had to find an excuse not to go back to the studio in the morning. He would somehow have to get Dave, the other driver to take her order and he'd no idea how he was going to do that. If he could have just got her inside and told her if she didn't keep quiet and do as he wished, he would tell her boyfriend she'd done it willingly and that would have kept her scared enough to still worm his way in every day.
His other plan, which now, he thought was a bit on the tame side was to convince her she would be better off with him and what did she want with a police detective? Well that was half the plan – the other half was take her out every night, get her drunk so she'd take him home and he'd string her along for a couple of weeks then tell her he'd had enough. Maybe she'd take a break-up or not, she still had to get her orders delivered.
Rose was just telling Alec the officers were taking their time when there was a loud knock on the door, Rose forgetting to switch the intercom back on.
"That will be the officers love," Alec told her, hearing the knock at the other end. "Go let them in, I'm setting off again now," Alec assured her, putting his mobile on the speaker and indicating to pull out.
He knew he had to get in the habit of switching the car's inbuilt hands free kit on every time he got in and would have to see if he could get a model that switched on with the ignition. The call disconnected and Alec fished in the glove compartment before he pulled out, leaving everyone guessing if he was pulling out or not and got his small blue light and siren out, sticking it one-handedly on the dashboard and switching it on, since it was already plugged into the USB plug, which did get switched on when the car started.
Rose was being questioned by the WPC, her colleague switching the rest of the lights on.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Rose was asked.
"He just grabbed my arm and tried to get me inside but I managed to get away," Rose began to explain, wanting to wait until Alec got there so she didn't have to go through it twice. "Can we wait? Only my boyfriend will be here in a few minutes."
"He'll have to wait until we've finished questioning you Miss," the WPC told her, looking at her partner, who had moved away to take a radio message.
"It's okay Palmer, control says it's gone to non other than DI Hardy, he's on his way here," the male officer told her.
Alec had thought to call the control room himself before setting back off to tell them the officers had to wait for him. He knew they were kept busy but he wanted to make sure Rose was taken seriously.
"Well her boyfriend will still have to wait, until Hardy's seen her," the WPC told him, wondering why Rose was now smiling then realizing the rumours going around the station were true – the hard-ass detective did have a girlfriend.
"Yeah? I wouldn't keep him waiting outside if I were you," Rose smiled, resting her head on her hands which she'd put on the desk then glancing up.
"She's his girlfriend Palmer," the male officer assumed from the look on Rose's face.
"Yeah and you'd better switch the intercom on or he'll be banging on the door," Rose told him.
Alec turned his light and siren off after getting a parking spot someone had just left, well he assumed they were leaving and not gawking at the police car as he indicated he wanted to park there, leaving the male driver enough room to reverse out. He looked around to see if there were any likely vehicles Steve may have been using but couldn't see any in either part of the car park so he got out and went in his jacket pocket for his ID.
He pressed the intercom and a male voice answered.
"It's Hardy, let me in," Alec replied when the male officer answered with an 'Who is it?'
Rose wanted to get up and greet Alec as he opened the door and faced the male officer, Rose not even knowing his name.
"Have you looked for the man?" Alec asked him, glancing at Rose, who was now sitting up.
"Yes Sir, no sign of anyone fitting the description but we didn't go next door, we would have seen him."
"Would you?" Alec questioned him, raising his eyebrows. "If he heard the siren and dodged in then left before you noticed?"
Rose had to smile. Now she knew why she loved him. Alec continued.
"Go next door and ask if he went in, what's your name?" he asked the male officer.
"Green, Sir but he was quick if he got in and out without us seeing him," he defended himself.
"Well go ask anyway. You stay with us," he told WPC Palmer, thinking it wasn't good to be seen breaking procedure that if you knew a victim to be alone with them.
He went to stand opposite Rose but she got up and went to him, putting her arms around him and Palmer trying not to notice.
"Are you okay Rose?" he asked, trying to remove her arms.
Rose just grinned and moved them, looking at the WPC. "Yeah, he just grabbed my arm and tried to force me back inside but I got away and slammed the door on him."
"Good, you got the camera moved?" he asked, looking around. "It may have picked something up."
"I don't think so, only me and possibly his hand, I think he caught his finger in the door as it closed. I had to push on it, he was still trying to get in then he pressed the intercom and told me to let him in, like I'd be stupid enough to do that."
"You did fine. Now give your statement to the officer while I go see if anyone noticed anything," he told her, knowing he couldn't be present while she did.
He'd made a few exceptions before but thought Rose would say more to the female officer, once she'd done that, they could talk about it later and he couldn't be accused of prompting her.
He let Rose kiss his cheek then let himself out, joining Green.
"Sir, the store manager said a man came in, looked around then just bought some chewing gum, about ten minutes ago. He said the man looked a bit odd and was looking out of the door as he got served."
"I know who it was and where he works. Call it in and tell control I want a unit to meet me at the printers, first thing in the morning," Alec told him. "Did Miss Tyler give the name of the printers?"
Yes Sir, I'll get onto them now. Do you want us to stay?" Green asked him.
Alec shook his head. He just wanted to be alone with Rose and make sure she hadn't been hurt.
"No, she doesn't know his surname, just where he works and he's going nowhere, let him think he's got away for now, I've got a number for the print shop. I told his boss yesterday to have a word with how he made his deliveries but he chose to ignore it by the looks of it. We'll go back inside and see if the CCTV picked up anything," Alec suggested.
He wished she'd got that video intercom fixed today instead of it being fitted on Friday. He pressed the intercom and the WPC let him and Green in, Rose just getting her laptop out. The two officers smiled to themselves as Alec took charge and went into the camera recording so easily but after checking the last half hour or so, it only showed Rose leaving then appearing again a few minutes later, the camera trying to adjust to the lighting and her leaning on the door after turning around.
Then she had moved, probably to switch the lights on and call for help. Alec thanked the officers and closed the door, Rose behind him and falling onto him.
"I tried to tell him Alec, I said the camera had been moved," Rose started to tell him.
"It's okay, you did the right thing. I would have been here if the chief had not stopped me on the way out."
"You didn't know Steve was gonna be so stupid and try anything else," Rose replied, going for a kiss.
"Maybe not love but I should have insisted you had that door intercom fitted today."
"It would only work when it was pressed Alec, he came up behind me when I was coming out."
After seeing her come out of the studio a few times, he thought she was risking it a bit.
"Find out how much a automatic grill would cost," he suggested.
"Alec, I'm stretching my budget having another intercom fitted as it is," Rose replied, leaning on his chest and playing with his shirt button, Alec glad the camera had been moved.
He knew now he couldn't just go off and leave her when the time came to move, he had to get her to agree to go when he and Daisy went – one way or another. She was leaving herself vulnerable and Steve going after her had proved it but how was he going to get her to agree?
"I was gonna reconsider printing my own photos," Rose admitted, twisting a shirt button as Alec leaned against the partition, still holding her. "Now I'm not so sure. There's another printers but they were more expensive."
"Don't worry, they will be looking for a new driver after tomorrow, I can promise you that. I'll be waiting for him when he arrives at work, we'll take him in for questioning and give him a caution. It's up to his boss if he keeps his job or not but I'll be making a few provisions to him not being arrested this time."
"Will I have to go to the police station?" Rose asked.
"I'll have my DC contact you, she'll want to go through your statement with you but I can't be there until she has. You do understand?" Rose nodded as he kissed her forehead. "It's just to make sure you told the officer who was here the same as you tell her. Since he's not actually on camera trying to force you inside, I can't arrest him. Most likely he'll deny it and it will be difficult to prove. I do believe you and you should mention he's tried to ask you out several times."
"Yeah, I already mentioned it," Rose smiled as a button came undone. Alec moved her hand. "Can we go home now?"
"Yes but show me the recording from earlier."
"Got that covered," Rose smiled, letting go and getting the small disk out of her pocket.
Alec smiled and put his arms around her neck. "Ever thought of joining the police love?"
He closed the laptop lid, leaving it on and put it in the cupboard then turned out the lights as Rose opened the door. As Alec locked up, he knew he had to start insisting she waited here for him at night, lunchtime he could do nothing about but it would be busier. He'd just have to put up with the speculation he was leaving early to meet her, it was only for a few more weeks but he wasn't going to give them too much about his love life, he had to still keep them guessing.
"Have you got those photos love?" Alec turned to ask her.
"Yeah, I hope they didn't get damaged when I swung my bag at Steve," she grinned as he reached for her hand.
"I hope you didn't hurt him love?" Alec smiled as they passed the closed bakery. "I'd really hate to have to arrest you as well."
Rose smiled back as she saw Alec's car. "Gonna move it later?" she asked.
"Yes and now your neighbour has got the message, maybe I'll move the cone from your parking place?" he replied.
"Spoilsport," she giggled as he let her go up the steps first.
He got his key out she had given him, making Rose smile and decided that was it. From now on, he came home with her every weeknight and Friday's he call for her then Daisy, not the other way around. There was no way this Steve would get the chance to go after her again but now, he was even more worried she'd be left behind when he moved. He could try and delay his transfer but he'd been the one pressing for it so they'd have to come to a compromise – whatever that might be.
Alec wanted to prove to Rose that what had happened was serious and he was going to do something about it. He didn't however want to tell her that he'd told her something was bound to happen but she beat him to it.
"I should've listened to you," she told him, throwing her arms around his neck.
"Yes love, you should but although it couldn't have been avoided if he chose to wait for you outside, there was very little you could have done to predict he'd do such a thing," Alec replied.
"After you were waiting for me last week, I thought people nearby would think he had a genuine reason for hanging around," Rose reminded him.
"Yes, well I behaved out of character, I don't normally wait around for a woman coming out of work," he admitted as Rose leaned into his neck. "I don't make a habit of it but from now on, you wait inside for me to arrive."
"Oh come on Alec, if I do that, he's won," Rose replied, not wanting to lose her independence, though it seemed now that she had.
"Just for now love. We will go pick him up in the morning, first thing so I will have to leave earlier and get the address and meet officers there. I'll take him in for questioning but another officer will have to be present. Since it wasn't witnessed by anyone else, all I can do is give him a warning."
"So no-one else will believe me?" Rose asked, looking up at him.
"I'm not saying that love, he could turn around and say he was having a bit of fun with you and you took it the wrong way and he didn't mean anything by it. Does the camera record sound?"
"I have it turned off on the laptop but it could have recorded but he was just shouting through the door for me to let him in and that he'd wait for me to come out. Did he really think I'd do nothing about it? He knew you were a detective."
"He got over-confident and assumed I wouldn't take it seriously," Alec replied, going to sit her down. "You are risking it Rose, coming out on your own, you need a camera outside as well."
"Geez Alec, why don't I just get an armed guard?" Rose joked, sitting on his lap on the kitchen chair.
"Be serious love. Yes, there are still people around but how many took notice? The only one I saw was too busy watching the police car when I wanted the parking spot."
Rose giggled into his shoulder. "Okay, I'll wait but what about when you leave?"
"Well if he doesn't lose his job, which he might, I'll get him stopped bringing your orders. Are you still going to print your own?"
"I don't know, it's a bit of a rush as it is, I was late taking them to the post office today though it was quieter at that time but there's so much to consider, unless I do them at night?"
"No, not just to save a bit of money, just carry on with the printers then but he won't be delivering, why not have them posted to your customers instead? Find out tomorrow," he suggested.
"Yeah, if they don't tell me they won't do the work any more," Rose replied.
"Well I'm sure they can find another driver," Alec tried to assure her. "Drivers can be replaced, losing customers is not good for business, word gets around. I will make sure the owner does not refuse to do your work."
"Can ya do that? I mean since I'm your girlfriend and you're hauling in his driver for trying to attack me?" Rose asked him.
"I can recommend it will be bad for business if he refuses. Rose, it's either that or you take someone on to do it. I know you wanted Daisy to help but that will only be for a short time anyway and will make you behind with your orders. Work it out love, see which will be more economical but it will take her half an hour to get here after school, it will make you late in finishing."
"Yeah but if I have to wait for you anyway? See what she says but with all this going on, I doubt the owner will insist I give them notice, maybe I can start from Monday? Ask her then."
That agreed and them spending the next ten minutes or so just kissing, Rose got up to start making something to eat.
"I could go to the takeaway love," Alec suggested as she went to the cupboard.
"We can't live off takeaways every night," Rose smiled. "I could think you don't like my cooking."
He went up behind her, putting his arms around her neck.
"Wait until you taste mine then," he grinned, kissing her cheek. "I only used to make salads, back when I was ill and I made Miller eat one, when we were investigating my old case."
"I bet she loved that," Rose laughed. "Will she know you're going back?"
"She will be told but I've not contacted her. I figured she'd had enough, putting up with me and dragging her into my failed case."
"I bet she didn't think that," Rose smiled, turning towards him. "Has she tried to contact you?"
"Why would she? Besides, I changed my number, I got a better deal on another network when I got a new phone. She'll probably ask for a transfer when she's told I'm going back."
"Bet she won't," Rose teased him. "I did read up on the trial, it wasn't true, was it?"
"Not you as well?" he smiled, knowing what she meant and he'd have to thank Olly Stevens for being the first to break it on that social network about his own aunt.
"Aw come on, you have to admit the defence did their homework," Rose giggled, trying to undo more shirt buttons since she'd taken his tie off earlier.
"Not well enough," he replied, going to help her. "Thought you were making something to eat?"
After they'd eaten, Alec went to move his car, debating whether to take the cone back or not then just after nine, he got a call from the station.
"This had better be good," Alec scolded the desk sergeant.
"Yes Sir, I've got the address of the printers for you and two officers will meet you there at nine in the morning. Will you be bringing the young lady in whom he attacked?"
Now he knew word had got around and there would be no end to it, not that he'd wanted to deny it, he just wanted to keep them guessing a bit longer and not reveal who she was.
"She will make her own way there at some point, make the arrangements for the man to be interviewed, I will be observing," Alec replied, looking over at her.
"Yes Sir," the desk sergeant replied," wishing he'd joined in the bets now but had laughed it off saying the grumpy detective had only come back to the town to make up with his ex wife.
"Do I really have to go through it again?" Rose asked as he put his phone away.
"You want him stopped?" he asked as Rose got comfy on him again.
She looked up at him. "Why couldn't he have just taken no for an answer?"
"You don't know the answer to that?" Alec smiled. "Rose, any man in his right mind would do anything for a date with you."
"Yeah but it doesn't mean I have to go out with them, does it? What is it with blokes who won't give up?"
"I never gave up," Alec reminded her, kissing her neck.
"No, you were worse than Steve," Rose giggled.
"Oh, I was, was I?" he smiled. "Maybe you should have been firmer with me?"
"Maybe I didn't want to be? There's a difference between you and Steve."
"Is that so?" he asked.
"Yeah, you're cute and I fancied you when you brought Daisy in."
"Who am I to argue with that?" he asked, lowering her bra strap and kissing her shoulder, since she'd unfastened his shirt.
After they got into bed, Rose laid on her side, fingering the hairs on his chest.
"Just how ill were you, back in Broadchurch?" she asked him as he kissed her neck.
"Rose, just leave it love, I'm here."
"Yeah but I want to know what it was like for you, I wish I'd been there."
"So do I love but it's quite a while now, you were back in London."
"Yeah, having James chat me up. I never told you the full story."
"I don't need to know love but you did the right thing, getting away and making a fresh start. That's what I was trying to do but with Daisy, not my ex."
"Well at least you got somewhere with her. I couldn't believe James preferred to go travelling on his own. I could have gone with him and taken photos for him, he never even asked me."
"Maybe he had a reason? Maybe he thought you wouldn't agree to go? Rose, I was reluctant to ask you to go with me, I can see why he never asked you."
"Would you leave me here Alec?" she asked him, fingering his beard.
"I thought I could Rose, I thought seeing you at weekends would be enough, once I realised I couldn't, then I had to give you the choice. He never even gave you a choice and I can see why you were so reluctant to let me get close to you once you found out I was leaving. You thought I would do the same."
"Yeah," Rose whispered. "I should have known you wouldn't but what was I supposed to think?"
"I know love, let's leave it, we have already agreed, have we not? Now, I'm not sure I can go on my own, I'm worried about leaving you."
"We can manage Alec, I never got time to see about getting someone in. Why don't I start advertising and Daisy can help me for now?"
"Can you afford anyone full-time though?" he asked, moving her vest top.
"Well once I move and they take over, yeah. I could set someone on the week before but get them in for me to show them everything. Will it be easy to find a place in Broadchurch?"
"If you get somewhere by the harbour, you could offer a one hour service for the tourists," he suggested. "Get some seaside backdrops or take your own, you'll be a big hit love."
"Yeah? I should have done that before buying some, I never thought but there's not much around here," Rose replied as she took his hand and guided it up the front of her top.
"You could use the photos you took of London love," he replied, eager for her to move her hand so he could kiss where he wanted.
"Alec, enough talking about work," Rose grinned as she pushed him onto his back. "Turn out the light."
"I'd rather leave it on to see your reaction," he teased her.
"Well good thing I got a lamp that dims then."
The next morning, after cutting down on the kissing and 'groping' as Alec called it, he had to set off early to catch Steve before he set off.
"I will call when we need you at the station love but don't cancel any sittings," he told her as he was leaving.
"I'll be okay after four, I can get the bus there," Rose replied.
"Get a taxi love, I'll pay, then I can bring you back. It will take a while longer on the bus. Get a receipt, I'll charge it to personnel, they can claim it back from him, since he's to blame."
"I tried to get him to go away," Rose reminded him, putting her arms around him, Alec putting his arms around her waist.
"I know love, when your door intercom is changed see about putting the camera some place else and get that door made clear, you can put a curtain across when you are taking photos. Is it just painted over?"
"Yeah or it's some sort of film, I'll have a look and see if it'll come off, I can pin something to it for now. Sorry I caused all that bother last night."
"Rose, it wasn't you, he chose to come back, now he'll pay for it. I have to go or he'll have left. I'll see you at the station, ask for me or DC Hunter, she'll be the one who calls you."
"Alec, what if he comes round when you let him go?"
"He won't, I'll get the owner to agree he'll send someone else. I promise love. If he does come back later, call the emergency number and give the reference number from last night. Oh, where's that photo?"
Rose went to get it from the hallstand.
"I'll get a frame on Saturday but for now, I'll put it in the frame I got for Daisy's."
"Are you sure? If they find out what happened last night?" Rose asked him.
"Yes love, it will be all over the station by now, the chief will want me to step back and let someone else take the lead but I'll insist I have some say in it."
She let him go, giving him another kiss then following him downstairs to move the traffic cone. As Alec was driving towards the printers, Steve had got there early to catch the other driver as they collected their deliveries.
"Want to swap a few?" Steve asked as Dave was picking up his pile and the list.
"What's wrong with you today?" he asked Steve. "Did that blonde turn you down again?" he laughed.
"Thought you'd like a change?" Steve replied, thinking back to the photos he'd seen of Rose and the bearded detective and what did she see in him?
Dave shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe tomorrow then, since the lists have been done? You'll have to see Maureen tonight, she'll be annoyed if you mess her around."
"Well why not just swap lists then?" Steve asked hopefully before Manny realised what he was up to and hoping to get going.
"Come on Steve, what's the real reason?" Dave asked him as he picked up his orders.
"That blonde, well she might have taken things the wrong way, she practically threw me out yesterday," he admitted, not willing to say she'd never even let him in.
"Is that all?" Dave laughed. "It wouldn't be the first time a woman threw you out."
"Come on Dave, gimme a break? I'll buy you a drink after work?" Steve offered.
"It's worth more than that. We'll swap tomorrow, she'll have to put up with you another day. You blew it then?"
Steve shook his head. How was he going to get out of this? He'd have to just get her to sign and hope she'd forgotten about last night, it was her word against his, he could say she took it the wrong way. He picked up his orders and was about to follow Dave out when he caught sight of a police car and hoped it hadn't come for him.
Alec had pulled up just after the marked car got there, two officers waiting for him. Maureen had glanced out of the other window.
"Hey Manny, there's a cop car outside, what was that call about the other day?"
"Never you mind. Sure they're coming here and not next door?" Manny asked, thinking if it was about Steve, he'd just get rid of him to save all the trouble.
He heard the door buzzer go and went through to the small counter used for personal callers. Alec was standing at the counter, the two officers behind him.
"DI Hardy. I called you about a driver named Steve," Alec stated, indicating for one of the officers to watch outside in case he tried to leave.
"I told him not to hang around the studio," Manny insisted. "If he takes no notice, she needs to make a complaint."
"She has. Call him back, I'm taking him in for questioning," Alec told him.
"He'll be loading his van. Maureen," he shouted, turning around. "Stop Steve from leaving."
Alec nodded for one of the officers to go outside.
"Stop his van from leaving," Alec ordered.
"There's two of them parked at the side Sir," the other officer replied.
"Well go stop them both from leaving," Alec replied.
"What's he supposed to have done, besides asking the woman out for a drink?" Manny asked.
"He attacked her last night as she was leaving the studio," Alec told him.
"What? Steve wouldn't do that. He might be a bit of a ladies man but he wouldn't go that far."
"Really?" Alec asked as the two officers went back outside. "Tell that to her when he grabbed hold of her and tried to force her back inside. Fortunately, she locked herself inside and called for help."
"Are you arresting him?" Manny asked. "If you are, he's out, I have an image to maintain that my customers aren't getting their orders by anyone with a record."
"That's up to you, I need to ask him some question at the station," Alec told him.
The two officers had just stopped the two vans from leaving, Dave indicating which one of them was Steve when they were asked. Alec had already told them the other driver could go.
"Thanks a lot Dave," Steve shouted as he was made to get out of the van.
They led him inside and Steve found himself face to face with the detective in the photo he'd seen of Rose. Then she'd wondered why he'd lost his mind and tried to get her back in the studio. He'd only gone to ask her to change her mind but something had come over him when he thought about them posing together when it could have been him, not that he normally got to the stage he had photos taken with a girlfriend.
Alec turned around while Manny went to tell Maureen to get one of the other lads to take Steve's deliveries and if he didn't get locked up, which in Manny's opinion he should for being an ass, he could take over at lunchtime while he decided on Steve's future with the company.
As Steve was cautioned by one of the officers, Alec told them to take him to the station and thanked Manny for his cooperation.
"So, you're her boyfriend then?" Steve asked as he was being put in the back of the police car.
"Even if I were not, it's no excuse for her being attacked outside of her place of work. Put him in the interview room and inform DS Mills, he should enjoy asking the questions," Alec replied.
He knew Mills could be an ass but he hated men who forced themselves on women – even if the woman was now his girlfriend.
There was a buzz going around the station and unfortunately for Alec, a few of the female officers knew Tess. When word got around Alec was bringing a man in for questioning over an incident the night before involving a female photographer, Tess got a call.
So as Alec was on his way back after assuring Rose that the problem was being taken care of and it would be another driver bringing her order and still not to let anyone in, he got a call from Tess.
"What's this I hear Alec?" Tess greeted him.
He knew she would find out sooner or later when Daisy began spending time with Rose and they all moved to Broadchurch.
"About what Tess, I'm busy right now," he replied, reluctantly putting the speaker on so he didn't get caught for using his phone while driving.
"Some scuffle outside a photographers last night, was that the one you took Daisy to?" Tess asked him.
"Yes, what of it?" he asked, approaching the station and seeing Steve being taken inside.
"Why are you involved? I have a friend there who says you attended last night and you were bringing someone in for it? Why did you get involved?" Tess asked, hoping to catch him out since Daisy wasn't very forthcoming about who took the photos she'd brought home from her dad's after the weekend.
"Because I was on my way home and the studio is just down the road, he'd already sneaked away when officers got there so we got the details and I went to arrest the man. End of story Tess," he replied, picking his phone up to get out of the car.
Then he realised, he was still in denial but bringing in your new girlfriend's would-be attacker was not the best way of telling your ex wife you had found someone else. When he thought about it, she must have noticed a few changes in Daisy after the weekend.
"So what happened then? Was it the woman who took the photos or not?" Tess asked, wishing now she'd suggested somewhere else since her friend mentioned one of the attending officers last night had just told her Alec was a bit friendly with the complainant.
"Yes, it was," Alec had to admit as he went inside and waved Mills over, who was waiting for him. "I'll tell you later, I have to go now."
Tess was fuming, since he was reluctant to admit anything and was determined to get to the truth and get him to admit it, that he'd somehow got involved with this female photographer and had dragged Daisy into it. Perhaps she might get more out of the teenager when she got home from school?
While Steve was being processed, Alec was talking to Mills.
"Sir, you know I have to ask the questions?" Mills reminded him. "So, was it this mysterious girlfriend of yours who he went after?" he asked as Steve was taken to the interview room.
"Yes," Alec had to admit. "So now, she's not mysterious, is she? Would you want your involvement with someone all over the station?"
"Too late for that Sir and I'm not responsible for it," Mills grinned as they stood outside the interview room.
Alec knew he'd dug himself into a big hole now and the only way out was bringing the photo of Rose in and putting it in the photo frame and reluctantly admitting he was involved with someone, now Tess had found out. He knew it could have only got to her through the female officer last night, who must have mentioned to someone he knew how to retrieve the CCTV and he was friendly with the victim.
Mills set the recorder going and introduced himself and Alec, Alec thinking that despite Mills acting the fool most of the time, he was good at his job as Mills picked up the new folder.
"So, Mr Harwood, I'm DS Mills, this is DI Hardy and you're here following a complaint from a Miss Tyler that you have several times harassed her at her place of work and she has warned you off. Not only that, you were warned by your employer to deliver her order and leave but you deliberately ignored the warning and went back to her studio last night. Care to explain?" Mills asked him.
Alec was also interested why the man had ignored the warning and had chosen last night to go after Rose, when she'd told him on more than one occasion she was spoken for.
"It's a free country, the last time I checked," Steve replied. "How was I to know she was being serious when she said she had a boyfriend? Do you know how many women say that to give a bloke the brush-off?"
"You should have taken her word for it," Alec interrupted, knowing he couldn't ask any questions but he could say anything else and daring Mills to stop him. "So do women brush you off on a regular basis?" Alec asked him.
Mills didn't particularly like Alec's style but he was still amused, having been with him on other interviews and Alec always won.
"Answer the question Harwood," Mills told him. "So if a woman says no to you, instead of leaving it, you wait outside their place of work and try to force them back inside and tell them to shut up? That's an odd way of getting a woman to agree to go out with you."
Alec hadn't read all of Rose's statement she'd given to the WPC but picked up the folder, daring Mills to stop him. They'd not talked about it much in view of it was being taken seriously and he had to step back and when she came in later, he would have to get Hunter to interview her and he wouldn't be able to be there, he'd have to watch on the camera.
"How was I suppose to know the stupid bitch would take it the wrong way? I was only gonna persuade her to ditch whoever she was going out with and have a drink with me," Steve replied.
"So is that how you treat all women?" Alec asked, wanting to get up and punch the arrogant sad specimen of a man.
He hated men like that and he knew Mills did as well.
"So when you found out who her boyfriend was, that didn't put you off?" Mills asked Steve, reading that Rose had said she'd told Steve several times her boyfriend was a police detective and there was a CCTV camera pointing at them.
"I don't give up that easily," Steve scoffed, eyeing Alec. "So when are you gonna let me go? I didn't even get back in the studio so you can't hold me on anything."
"Oh, I think we can," Alec replied. "DS Mills, get an officer to lock him up until Miss Tyler makes her statement, I'll not have him free to visit her again and try to 'persuade' her to drop the charges against him. Mr Harwood, if you have a solicitor, I suggest you make a phone call and get them here."
"What?" Steve asked. "What charges? Come on, I was just having a bit of fun, it's not my fault she takes it the wrong way."
Alec did get up, almost tipping the chair over.
"Mills, turn that recorder off – now!" Alec ordered him.
"But Sir, it's against regulations in an interview," Mills protested.
"Well the interview is over, lock him up while we decide how many charges we are going to make against him, depending on what Miss Tyler agrees to. Mr Harwood, I put men like you away for a living, you are a sexual predator in no uncertain terms and you are a danger to other woman. There is no guarantee if I let you go you won't go harassing her or any other woman so until we bring formal charges, I'm detaining you under several sections, which will be read to you when your solicitor arrives. Get him out of here," Alec told Steve and Mills, who was getting up to call a custody officer.
"You can't do this Hardy," Steve complained as the handcuffs were being put on his wrists and his arms around his back. "You can't hold me for going after your girlfriend."
"Yes, I can because when you first asked her and she said no, she was not then my girlfriend," Alec replied, knowing Mills would make a meal of this and not caring. "She said she told you that because she didn't like you enough to take you up on your offer of going for a drink with you."
He could already see the grin on the DS's face but didn't care. He had to stop denying he and Rose were involved and he also had to face Tess at some point but all he had to do was remind her she'd betrayed him, not the other way around.
Steve was led away and Mills switched off the recorder.
"That was a bit harsh Sir," he told Alec.
"Was it?" Alec asked him, putting the papers back in the folder that had got spread on the table when he'd almost lost his temper, now he could get angry again without ending up in hospital. "Would you like him coming onto your wife or girlfriend Mills?"
"No Sir, you know my views on men like him but he should be released on police bail until Miss Tyler comes in to make her formal statement," he reminded Alec.
"So he can go after her again? I promised her she would have no more trouble from him, I keep my promises. Find out about him, she can't be the only woman he's pestered, I want names and I want uniforms to get them in to give statements because I'm going to throw the book at him," Alec declared, getting his phone out and indicating Mills should leave. "Get onto his workmates, find out who else he's been bragging about. He must have bragged about her so he's maybe mentioned anyone else he's tried to get to go out with him."
"Yes Sir, I'll get right on it," Mills replied, intending on getting others onto it more like but he knew if he said anything about it being personal to the DI, then Hardy would bust his ass back to helping old people and kids across the road.
Alec was dialling Rose's number, handing the folder to Mills.
"Mills," he called after the DS. "This had better not get around the station. Yes, it is personal to me but I'll not be the one charging him, you will. If you want my job when I do leave, do this right."
"Yes Sir," Mills did a mock salute, Alec letting it slide as Rose answered, him half expecting her not to if she was busy. He was surprised it was now after ten.
"Alec, I hope ya have some good news for me?" Rose asked as her first clients had just left.
"Yes love, he's being detained pending your statement and him getting a solicitor. You should have someone else calling but don't let them inside," he reminded her.
"I've learned my lesson Alec," Rose replied, a smile on her face and wondering if he'd have gone to that much trouble for anyone else. "So what'll happen to him?"
"I've got people finding out if he's done it to anyone else," Alec replied, sitting on the corner of the table, now the camera was off. "He's a waste of space if you ask me, he's dangerous, I could not have let him back out there with a clear conscious and hope he would just leave you alone love."
"Yeah. He'd been coming with my orders for a few days, before I even met you and he never said anything, I wonder what made him start?" Rose asked him.
Alec thought that was rather obvious, it had made him go after her but in a better manner than the other man had. He'd not forced her back into the studio to start off with, he'd not had to, she'd invited him in but with him being a police detective, she must have thought she could trust him. Even so, she still needed to be more careful in the future.
"Well you did tell him you had a boyfriend before you told me," Alec smiled, wishing he'd taken more notice on the previous Friday and gone and asked her out then.
What could he have done about it though? It would have been Sunday night before he could ask her out, asking her the same night might have been a bit much but when he'd gone there unintentionally on Monday night, they had sort of gone out but there was a difference between him and that moron Steve.
"Yeah, I just said it as wishful thinking plus to get rid of him. He's not as cute as you are," Rose replied.
"Well make sure you get a taxi over here, you know where the station is?" Alec wanted to make sure, just in case she got the one where Tess was.
"I'll find it, I can leave just after four, my later appointment cancelled, the baby was sick," Rose told him, having assured the frantic mother of the baby it was no problem.
Alec could hear the buzzer in the background.
"You'd best get that love but don't let him talk to you about Steve or I'll be sending someone to sort whoever it is out," Alec joked.
Rose thought he was being serious. "Gotcha, see ya later then."
Rose went to answer the buzzer as it went again.
"Who is it?" she asked nervously, like she'd not believed Alec had locked up Steve, pending her statement being accepted.
"It's the print shop with your order," Mick, who had been picked by Maureen to take that moron Steve's place replied.
He thought the idiot deserved it first for being stupid and second for stringing women along, one of them being his ex.
Rose opened the door carefully even though the camera was behind her.
"I'll just sign here, if ya don't mind," Rose told him as he held her order and the clipboard, Rose wondering why they didn't have a device like the postman and other delivery drivers had these days.
"Yeah sure," Mick replied, seeing the camera behind Rose and knowing Steve had been an idiot, bragging he was wearing the blonde down. "Here you go," he added as he held out her order.
"Thanks," Rose called after him as he turned, wishing Steve had been like that then she wouldn't have had to get Alec to arrest the idiot.
She got on with her orders, thinking about what Alec said but she'd have to get customers to agree to her passing their address onto the printers but it would save a day, they might be grateful and she'd been given that option when she'd first agreed to let them do the work for her. She decided to leave the post office until later, giving her more time to get finished and have her lunch and wishing she could call Alec.
They'd more or less agreed they wouldn't call each other at work, only in emergencies but Alec was sat in his office after explaining to the chief why he'd locked Steve up. Alec had stood in front of the chief's desk.
"He's a danger to women in the town, what more reason do I need?" Alec had asked, his ID clipped to his belt and one hand on his hip and the other holding the folder with Rose's statement and the notes he and Mills had made.
"This had better not be personal Alec," the chief had told him. "I know you admitted she's your girlfriend and you were right to put Mills in charge but even so, you have to take a back seat on this and assure me it's not just about her."
Alec took a seat as he knew he made the chief nervous when he paced the office.
"It's not just about her but that does not help. I've got people finding out if he's harassed any other women in the town, this can't have just happened when he picked on her. The man needs stopping, who knows what he'd have done if she'd not managed to lock the door on him and there was a camera there. She pointed it out to him and told me she'd noticed he'd looked at it earlier, like he was judging where he couldn't be seen. I had her get it moved facing the door, if he'd got inside, it would not have picked him up."
"I get you were concerned for her safety Alec," the chief told him, seeing Steve had no previous record but it didn't mean he was wholly innocent, he could have just been on the verge of making the transition. "See what you can get on him then. Has he called a solicitor?"
"Yes, I told Mills to sort it out. He and Hunter can work on this but I sit in when Harwood's being interviewed again," Alec insisted. "He's not getting away with this."
"I agree he may be a danger to other women but if none are willing to come forward, I'm afraid Miss Tyler's complaint will be dealt with and he'll get off with a caution. You'd best hope your staff find someone."
Alec couldn't have agreed more when he'd got back and sent his DC and another male one out to the printer's to talk to Steve's workmates.
He was about to go to lunch when the two DC's came back and went into his office.
"Well?" Alec asked, leaning back in his chair sideways and tapping a pencil on the desk, which always amused DC Hunter.
"Several we spoke to said he'd been bragging about a blonde at a studio they did work for and we found out he just split from his girlfriend, a Caroline Price who works at a coffee shop in the town, we'll go see her later, she starts at twelve Sir," Sandra told him.
"Right, you do that and ask her if she was aware he went around harassing any of her friends," Alec told her, sitting up.
It also amused Sandra how easily he could change his mood and his tone of voice, wondering how his ex DS in Broadchurch had put up with him and if he was thinking of going back, the woman should get a transfer. Still, he was better than Mills and she was praying he wouldn't get Hardy's job.
Sandra was back before Rose was due to arrive, having got a few names off Steve's unhappy ex who spilled all the dirt about him chatting her friends up while they were out that she'd got to the point she was totally fed-up with it and had kicked him out.
"Right," Alec told her and Mills. "Mills, you and I are going to have another few words with our friend who likes to hit on women and you Hunter, take another DC and interview Miss Tyler, who will be here some time after four when she gets away from her studio. Are these women willing to make a complaint against him?"
"I've not contacted them yet Sir," Sandra replied, wishing he'd give her chance to get back. "His ex was a bit annoyed at being asked about him but she was willing to give us their names and where we can find them, I have their phone numbers, I'll get onto it before Miss Tyler comes in. Sir, can I ask you something?"
Alec indicated to Mills for him to leave then putting his hands on the desk, leaned forward.
"You may as well Hunter. You think I am taking this too seriously?"
"Maybe, Sir. I know you're trying to protect your girlfriend and no-one can blame you," she replied, hoping he wouldn't chew her out. "Are you going to keep him locked up?"
Alec thought about it. Maybe putting the man on remand until he could get Rose out of the town was a good idea but he'd have to get her to speed up getting someone in to run the studio, it wasn't impossible.
"I was considering it. The man's a pest Hunter, I would be doing everyone a favour but that's up to the chief. I'll settle for whatever keeps him off the streets."
Sandra thought she bet he would go a little bit further than he would have gone normally with this type of complaint. Alec went off with Mills to have another go at Steve, who was still not co-operating even after getting advice from a local solicitor who had advertised his firm represented those in custody who thought they shouldn't be there.
"Mr Harwood," the solicitor addressed him just before Alec and Mills got there. "These are serious charges."
Sandra had hurriedly put together names of the women she'd contacted and who were willing to make a complaint.
"Really?" Steve asked casually, wondering what he'd started with the blonde but she'd made him go after her more because he liked the challenge.
"Well I would advise you that if they offer to let you out on police bail that you go nowhere near Miss Tyler's studio, then she might be willing to drop the complaint," the solicitor told him.
He was about to answer when Alec and Mills entered the room and Steve saw the look on Alec's face that told him the detective meant business.
Alec was just in the mood for dealing with the likes of the almost sure to be fired delivery driver.
"Right, this is what's going to happen," Alec began, putting another folder on the table. "This folder contains a list of women who are willing to make a complaint against you for sexual harassment and that, added to the charges Miss Tyler is prepared to make is grounds to appeal to the court to issue a warrant for your arrest. We will let you out on police bail on the condition you stay away from them and Miss Tyler. Do you understand?" Alec asked, Mills a bit annoyed Alec had taken over the interview but under the circumstances and since it now involved more than Alec's girlfriend, he let him.
Steve nodded. "They never complained before," he replied, finding the table interesting and wondering what was actually in the folder Alec had his hand on.
"That does not give you the right to continue to force yourself on women who have clearly said no to you and I don't know what you believe is acceptable behaviour but threatening a woman and telling her to shut up and go back inside her place of work with you in anyone's book is not normal acceptable behaviour. If it were up to me, I'd lock you away for a very long time and if you break the conditions of the police bail, that's exactly what will happen. Do you understand?" Alec asked him.
"I get it," Steve replied, wondering if his recent ex was amongst those who had complained and that his so-called workmates had ratted on him since Mick's ex was one of them.
He knew this DI meant business.
"DS Mills here is going to go with you to your place of work after you are released and explain to your boss you are under no circumstances allowed anywhere near the photography studio, he will have to get another driver to do your route. He's sure to be happy about that," Alec told him.
Steve consulted with his solicitor, who told him he'd best accept it or face further charges.
Rose had just paid the taxi driver and was waiting for DC Hunter, who came downstairs with a male colleague.
"Hi, are you Rose Tyler?" Sandra asked as the desk sergeant nodded towards Rose.
"Yeah, DI Hardy asked me to come and confirm my statement from last night," Rose replied.
"This way, I'll take you to the interview room but it's just an informal meeting to go through what happened last night. I have to ask you again if you were hurt in any way?"
Rose shook her head as the door was opened for her. "No, I got away, he'd grabbed my arm but I pulled the door grill down on him, the door was still slightly opened 'cos I'd turned when I sensed someone was behind me," Rose replied, not wanting to really go through it again as she and Alec hadn't spoken much about it.
"Good, I'm glad you weren't hurt but if you had been, we could have added further charges," Sandra told her. "Before I start recording, I know you are involved with DI Hardy so when we go through your statement, you should refer to him as that, is that okay Rose?" she asked, trying to put Rose at ease.
Rose nodded, eyeing the male officer and hoping he wasn't going to interview her.
"Will DI Hardy see the recording?" Rose asked, looking up at the camera.
"He is permitted but with being involved with you, he's not allowed to interview you. You were interviewed by a WPC last night for that reason, he knows the procedure," Sandra told her. "Right, we'll make this as short as possible and afterwards, you'll be permitted to see him but you cannot discuss anything other than what took place at this interview, do you understand Rose?" Sandra asked as she switched the recording equipment on.
Alec had let Mills go off with Steve, telling him not to go easy on the man as Steve was put in the back of a marked car.
"Bet you wanted to lock him up and throw the key away Sir?" Mills joked as he told the uniformed officer to wait for him.
"If I had my way then yes," Alec had to agree. "Make sure you tell his boss to keep him away from the studio because if I catch him near the place again, you'll be arresting me. Got it Mills?" Alec asked him.
Mills smiled. "Got it Sir and I can see why it got you annoyed when everyone was talking about you, I'll make sure it stops," Mills assured him, now he'd most certainly won one of the bets as he'd glanced Rose being led away by Sandra while he was waiting for Alec.
Alec went back to his office, just in time to see Sandra going through Rose's statement. Once they'd finished, Sandra said she could either wait there or near the desk for Alec. Alec was already on his way downstairs and caught up with the two DCs.
"Sir, you won't do anything to compromise her statement, will you?" Sandra asked as a reminder.
"I know the score Hunter and yes, I was watching. You did a good job in there," Alec told her.
Sandra knew for certain her boss was stuck on Rose Tyler. Rose turned around when she heard the door opening and got up.
"Can we go home now?" Rose asked, not certain if the camera was still on.
"Yes love, forget about it, he's been let out but he steps one foot near you, he'll be back here and his feet won't touch the ground." Alec assured her. "Come on, I'll take you home and what you said, I'll come over every night but you don't have to wait in the studio for me but promise me you'll be more careful love," he asked her as she leaned on him.
It made no difference to them once they got back to Rose's flat after calling at the takeaway across the road since it seemed a universal thing all Chinese ones were closed on the same day, like it was a national holiday.
"You would think they would take it in turns to open," Alec remarked as he nodded across the road while waiting to be served. "I remember when it was compulsory for shops to close for a half day on Wednesdays."
"Was that back in the stone age?" Rose joked, nudging him since it was their turn.
"Watch it love," he whispered as the assistant pressed a few buttons on the register.
Rose looped her arm in his as they approached the counter and decided to eat in instead of taking it with them.
"So did ya put the photo on your desk then?" Rose asked as she played with the rest of the French-fries.
"I never had the time love but I will tomorrow. Don't forget you are meeting Daisy tomorrow. I will call for you first though."
"Aw, it's okay, go get her first and bring her up. She'll have to get used to my place, I mean if you give yours up before your transfer's complete. We still have to talk about that."
"Yes, we do love because now, I don't think I can leave you behind without knowing when you'll be joining us," Alec replied, putting the rubbish on the tray.
"You're very domesticated Alec," Rose smiled teasingly. "I didn't have time to see about an ad either but tomorrow, I'll get onto it and I'm gonna call the printer's, if they're still talking to me and ask about them sending the orders out. What do you think?" Rose asked as he got up.
He held his other hand out to help her off the stool at the counter they'd sat at.
"That it's one of the best ideas you've had," he replied, tipping the rubbish in the bin and placing the tray on top. "You get that door camera tomorrow do you not?"
"Well I don't know now," Rose replied as they waited to cross the road, Alec wishing the crossing wasn't further down. "Do ya think I should go ahead or change it and have the door cleaned or whatever. I can put a curtain over the glass."
"Well does the door camera have remote access?" he asked as they crossed the road.
"Gonna keep an eye on me?" Rose laughed as they reached his car.
"Always love," he replied, unlocking his car. "Still need that cone around the back? I'll take it back tomorrow."
"Yeah, I think they got the message," Rose replied, getting in beside him and kissing his cheek.
The next morning, Alec deciding he was making breakfast, he told her once more to be careful who she let in the studio.
"Yeah, I got it," Rose grinned as they ate. "So, a big day then? Me and Daisy meeting properly?"
"Yes love but she's bound to talk to her mother. When I was on my way to the station after arresting that annoying Steve, I had to bluff to Tess, sorry. I wasn't trying to deny anything, it just wasn't the best time to admit anything," he told her.
"Yeah, it's okay Alec, I get it. Why did she call?" Rose asked.
"She'd heard, probably from that WPC the other night that I'd gone to the call-out. She still has friends who work at my station, she'll get to know things but it surprises me that the rumours going around never got back to her."
"Maybe whoever told her was gathering more evidence?" Rose smiled, taking the plates and dishes.
"Probably then. I have to get going love, I do not live above my place of work," he smiled, going to kiss her.
"Alec, tonight, when I meet Daisy properly. How do ya think she'll react?" Rose asked as he put his jacket on.
"You'll be fine love, don't worry about it but she may get asked questions by her mother now she's heard I was involved with what happened the other night," he warned her.
"Great, she's hardly likely to thank me for that is she?" Rose asked.
"She can't give much away, can she?" he replied, checking his phone.
"Well she will after tonight, won't she? Are ya gonna ask her if she minds if I stay or do ya wanna leave it this weekend?"
"No love, see how it goes eh? See you a bit later when I've picked her up. Sure you want me to bring her up with me?" he asked.
"Yeah, that way you can go off with her if we don't hit it off. I understand if she doesn't want to be friends," Rose told him.
Back at Tess and Daisy's, Daisy had got ready for school and Tess was looking at her.
"Those photos were really nice Daisy, what did you think?" Tess asked her as tactfully as she could to see if the teenager would say anything. "So, was the photographer nice?"
Daisy knew when her mother was fishing for answers, having grown up with two police detectives.
"Yeah Mum, she was really good, since I didn't want to be there," Daisy replied, trying not to say much as her dad wouldn't thank her for blurting out he had invited Rose round to his place tonight for them to meet properly.
She thought it could go either way but if her dad was stuck on the photographer and had hinted about her staying tonight plus moving to Broadchurch with them, she could hardly avoid it. He was right, she couldn't really stay here and Rose being around couldn't be any worse than when Dave was around.
Tess wasn't happy her daughter wasn't willing to talk much but if the other rumours she'd heard were to be believed, she didn't want Daisy to be let down with the promise of moving to get away from what had happened if her father was taking up with someone. Maybe she'd get more out of Daisy on Sunday night, if Alec dared introduce the two of them properly. It would be just like a teenager to find it a novelty her dad had a new girlfriend.
Rose took the time to phone the printers and had persuaded Maureen to get her boss to talk to her.
"Miss Tyler," Manny addressed her when Maureen shoved the phone in his hand and told him she wasn't talking to the woman who Steve had been annoying.
"It's your place to talk to customers who have complaints," she reminded him.
"Yeah, hi. I wanted to ask about having my orders sent directly to customers," Rose answered.
Manny was a bit surprised the woman still wanted any work done, in view of what had happened. He'd not been happy when Steve had got back late yesterday afternoon with another detective who had told him to swap Steve's route and keep a check on where Steve went in future and confiscate use of the van after working hours, something Mills had thrown in for good measure after asking Steve if he had his own car.
Manny quickly replied before he lost her custom.
"Yeah, we can do that for you but you'll need to start that from next week, today's are being sent to you. I'm sorry for the trouble you've been having, I thought you would be cancelling your contract," Manny admitted, getting a funny look from his assistant, who'd been told before Steve got back that he wasn't staying on the same delivery route, if it were decided he'd be let back.
"Yeah, well it's not your fault he's a moron, just keep him from making today's delivery and I'll have to inform customers they'll receive their orders from you. Just out of curiosity, you don't know of any photographers in the area who are looking for work I suppose?" Rose thought she'd ask, since it was more than likely they did printing for other photographers in the area.
"Are you thinking of expanding?" Manny asked hopefully, at the prospect of getting more work.
"Well not yet, I may want someone to help run the studio eventually," Rose replied, not sure if it was a good idea to say she was probably moving away, depending on Daisy.
"Well if I hear of anyone, I'll put them in touch with you. Thanks for staying with us. Anything else I can do?" Manny asked, Maureen wondering what had come over her boss suddenly.
"What?" Manny asked as he ended the call. "Steve's not to be given any deliveries near that studio and he's not to take the van home, what was his excuse the other night?" Manny asked her.
"He said he was going to the van wash," Maureen admitted. "I thought it was a bit odd though, I've normally got to kick his ass for him to do it."
"You should have told me, you're almost as bad as he is," Manny replied, picking up his mug of almost cold coffee and slamming his office door behind him.
He thought Steve was lucky he still had a job and if he wasn't careful, one more complaint and he'd be out on his ear.
One less thing off her mind, Rose got to work then thought about calling the rental agency but decided to leave it until Monday. If things didn't work out too well tonight with Daisy, it would be pointless finding out if she could transfer the rental agreement and also hoped Manny wouldn't give her work number to anyone who owned a camera.
Alec had got to work, remembering the photo of he and Rose he'd left in the car and taking the frame from his desk, put that one in and put Daisy's in his top drawer. He looked up when Sandra knocked on his door.
"Sir, how was she when you took her home last night?" Sandra asked, sounding concerned.
"Fine and thank you for going easy on her. She's having more security fitted today, her studio doors and windows are blacked out so she's getting a two-way door camera system," Alec admitted.
"Good, it can't be easy working on her own. She'll be okay now you gave that man a warning," she tried to assure him.
"Let's hope so Hunter and I know they all ganged up on you out there, I was unfair to put the blame on you," he admitted.
Sandra wondered if his lesser evil twin had taken his place this morning but he had lightened up lately she supposed.
Rose got a call from the camera installer he'd be with her at one so she had to dash to the bakery and leave her posting until later, which from Monday wouldn't be a problem and she'd already informed the last few clients their orders would be sent from the printers and remembering to add the address in the form she used for each order as the customer's, not her own.
Now she wished she'd done that all along but Alec wouldn't have come round twice the other week and she wouldn't be considering moving with him. How had it happened so fast, she wondered.
Daisy had got home from school early instead of delaying and had packed her weekend bag ready for Alec picking her up but Tess had decided to leave early and try and get back before they left. Alec had just stopped outside the house as Tess pulled in behind him.
"Back to say goodbye to her for the weekend?" Alec turned and asked her.
"If that's what you think Alec," Tess replied as she let them in. "Daisy, where are you?" she shouted upstairs since the lounge and kitchen doors were open.
"I'm coming down Mum, what are you doing home early?" Daisy asked, leaning over the banister.
"Well excuse me," Tess huffed, putting water in the kettle. "Staying Alec or are you in rush?"
Alec did that thing that annoyed her so much by sucking on his bottom lip. He knew she hated him doing that.
"No, should I be?" he asked, watching her sort out the post and tossing the envelopes on the table.
"So have you got a date for moving then? Daisy hasn't said much."
"Not an actually date but around another four weeks or so," he replied, leaning on the back of the chair. "Once I have a date, I will get the school or college sorted. You did tell me to sort it," he reminded her. "Think I can't do it?" he added as he heard Daisy come downstairs.
"I'm ready to go Dad," she told him, getting her jacket from the hall-stand.
Alec was praying she didn't ask if they were calling for Rose or not.
"Yes, right, we'll be off then," Alec replied, getting his car key out. "I trust the photos were suitable?" he asked Tess as Daisy picked up her holdall.
"I suppose? So did you pay full price or get a discount?" Tess asked, Daisy looking around. "Oh, you did?"
"Dad, can we call at that store on the way?" Daisy asked, knowing there was one near Rose's studio and she assumed they were going to call for her, since he'd come here first.
"Which store's that then?" Tess asked, making a drink and not bothering to offer him one.
"The store near dad's place," Daisy replied, hoping her mother wouldn't ask for the name of it.
Tess knew when she was being given the run-around from the pair of them.
"Daisy, put your things in the back of the car," he told her, holding the key out to her.
Daisy knew when to disappear when they were about to have yet another argument and he didn't even live there any more.
"Did I get near the truth Alec?" Tess asked him as she sat opposite him. "So, this photographer, the one from that incident, is she now a friend of yours?"
"Since when do I answer to you Tess?" he asked, knowing this was making him late getting to Rose.
"Since you drag our daughter into it Alec. She's very impressionable at her age and you're chasing a female photographer? Don't think I didn't hear those other rumours."
"That's all they were," Alec replied, hoping Rose didn't choose that moment to ask where he was. "Some joker in the office thought it was amusing to use my DC to get information but it all backfired on him."
"So you've admitted it to them or did that happen when she had some trouble?" Tess asked him.
"A delivery guy tried it on with her, she refused him so he went back the other night and tried to force himself on her by getting her back in the studio. You expect me to sit back and do nothing, hmm?" he asked. "It's quiet at that time near the studio, no-one was taking any notice until the uniformed officers arrived."
"Would you have responded if it had been anyone else?" Tess asked.
"Leave it Tess. You want the truth? Yes, I am seeing her, happy now? Since when did I need your permission, since you were the one who left me? I'm away now, she's expecting us and yes, I am introducing them properly and if you have a problem with that, think back how I felt when you started seeing Dave eh?" he asked her.
He decided to leave, since it would do no further good by debating the finer points of their divorce that she had taken the first move in. Daisy was waiting for him, playing with her phone.
"Was mum being awkward again?" she grinned at him.
"Leave it Daisy, she knows now, I promised Rose I would not hide us from anyone and that includes your mother but thanks for trying to cover."
"No problem Dad. So, it's now official is it? Good, I'm tired of you messing around, you needed to get your act together, I'm sure we'll get on. Do you think she'll like me though?"
"She knows about you but I've not told her what happened. Maybe you should tell her, if you want?" he suggested as they set off.
"I'll see, she might not want to know," Daisy replied.
"You’d be surprised," Alec replied, pressing her number and putting it on the speaker.
"Rose, we're on our way," he told her when she answered.
"Glad to hear it and tell Daisy I'm looking forward to meeting her properly."
"She heard you, we'll see you soon," he replied, Daisy pressing the 'End Call' button.
"Look at you Dad, you’re acting more my age," Daisy smiled.
"Maybe I am, everyone in the station thinks I've had a personality change."
"Well maybe you should thank Rose for that?" Daisy asked him.
"I will," he replied.
"Then she must be really something and I'm glad you made up with her. I won't object if you want her to stay tonight but don't embarrass me, it's only a small flat. Will she be leaving in the morning?" she asked him as they neared the studio.
"Yes, she understands you spend the weekend with me but Daisy, that will have to change once we move, you know that?"
"Yeah, I get it but will she be moving with us?" Daisy wanted to know.
"I don't know but I don't like having to leave her, not now. Here we are, I park round the back now, I hope no-one took her parking spot, I had a traffic cone there but I took it back this morning."
Daisy laughed as they went around the back of the shops.
"Thought you wanted to call at the store?" he asked as they got out.
"That was just to rescue you from mum, you owe me," she laughed as she took his arm. "Come on then, no kissing in front of me, I'm not ready for that just yet. Why say you don't want to leave her now?"
"There was some trouble, now I'm not sure I can just leave her behind but she has a lease on the studio and the flat to get out of," he replied as they climbed the steps.
Daisy stopped him. "Dad, if you delay moving, I might not get in college," she reminded him.
"Yes, I'm aware of that," he replied, trying to keep his voice down. "I have to do what's best for both of you but Rose was trying to find someone who could either manage the studio for her or take over the business here and she'll start another in Broadchurch."
"Cool, do you think she'll let me help out?" Daisy asked, leaning on the rail.
"She asked if you wanted to help out until you leave," Alec replied, wondering if Rose could hear them.
"Did she? Yeah, I'd love to but how do I get here?" Daisy grinned.
"Directly from school?" he asked, going up to Rose's door and getting his key out, Daisy watching him.
"What?" he asked as he put it in the lock.
Rose heard the door opening.
"Hi, thought you two had got lost," she greeted them, going towards Daisy then going to hug the teenager. "Hi, nice to finally meet you again."
"Hi," Daisy grinned as Rose let go, thinking her dad's new girlfriend was a big hugger. "Dad's told me all about you."
"All good I hope?" she asked Alec, since it was his turn.
She saw the look on his face that said not to give him the usually greeting so she kissed his cheek, both her arms around his neck.
"Of course love. Ready to go?" he asked.
"Yeah, so am I coming back tonight?" she dared ask, trying to also look at Daisy.
"There's no need but we've had our warning," Alec replied, trying to move her.
"Gotcha, best behaviour then?" she smiled.
Daisy was already liking her but this was going to be difficult, not to talk about Rose in front of her mother, who had already been trying to get information out of both of them. She just hoped her dad was just as good at avoiding questions as he was at asking them.
When they all got back to Alec's flat, Rose and Daisy insisted they made something to eat, leaving Alec wondering what he'd been so nervous about the two of them meeting. He suggested they took Rose home in the morning and talk about Daisy maybe helping out for an hour or so every night.
"Are you still going to print your own photos or not?" he asked Rose.
"Well I started sending the addresses of the last few customers directly with their orders. That will keep some of the costs down and I'll only need one more delivery," Rose told him. "I'm not sure about printing my own, unless I got a better printer and that means more expense so I won't save anything."
"See how it goes then, if the customers are willing to pass their addresses on," Alec replied as they cleared up. "I suppose it will be down to them to send them out when you get someone to take over, no sense in getting started then changing again."
Rose agreed. "Yeah, I'll just let them do it then? Did ya ask Daisy about helping out?"
"There was no need love, she already asked me when I mentioned when you join us in Broadchurch you will be looking to open a studio there."
"Great, it'll have to be quick, I still have things to pay," Rose replied. "I never thought I'd be leaving so fast. I wanted to make a go of it here."
"You are love but think of all the tourists in Broadchurch. Just put a backdrop of the cliffs and the harbour and you will make a fortune and taking them yourself will save you buying them. Why don't you and Daisy talk about it?" he asked, putting the drying cloth down and going up to her. "Rose, I don't want you to worry about costs, I can help you but why not try and get someone to buy out the lease or at least be willing to take over all the costs?"
"Yeah but I still have the business loan to pay back and I can't unless I get somewhere quickly. If I can get someone to buy it, I can pay off the loan. I never thought I'd be wanting to do that."
"Not regretting anything are you?" he asked, his arms loosely around her neck and hoping Daisy wouldn't come into the kitchen.
"No, of course not Alec but I have things to consider and it could take a while and we only have four weeks. I asked the print shop owner if he knew anyone who might be interested and I'll put an ad in the paper but the studio was vacant for a while before I took it," Rose told him.
"Well you may have beaten someone to it love, you never know," he replied, pulling her closer. "If someone missed out, they may still be looking for somewhere"
"Yeah, maybe. So, what do you two have planned tomorrow then?" Rose asked, changing the subject.
"Ah, grocery shopping, now you are here," he grinned.
"Same for me, now you'll be coming around most nights. We could go together?" she suggested. "Saves me getting a taxi back then you two can go off somewhere."
"Let me talk to Daisy about that, she may agree to you coming with us, wherever we go," he replied, resting his chin on her head.
"No, you two spend some time together," Rose replied, resting in his shoulder.
"Rose, she already knows that when we move, she won't have the exclusive. I thought at first she would but she realises how important you are to me. Let's do the grocery shopping and see how it goes?"
"Yeah, okay then. So, are ya giving notice on this place then?" Rose asked.
"Yes, first thing on Monday and if whoever I am replacing is not quite gone, I'll have to come and stay with you," he smiled.
"Thought ya already were?" Rose laughed.
They ended up with Rose staying over on Saturday night after they went to see a film, Alec sitting in the middle and holding the popcorn, which he wasn't keen on but it made both Rose and Daisy laugh and Rose kept missing the popcorn and touching his leg, which made Daisy giggle and getting shushed.
After they dropped Daisy at her temporary home, Alec warned her not to say anything to her mother.
"Geez Dad, do you actually think I want mum asking me loads of questions?" Daisy asked as he walked her to the kitchen door. "It's going to be awkward though and I can't deny Rose was with us but I'll try and miss out the bit where she stayed shall I?"
"That would be appreciated Daisy but don't worry, I know you'll have to mention her. So are you going to find out how to get to the studio after school a few nights a week?" he asked her.
"Yeah, I'll look it up, she said she'd pay my bus fare," Daisy replied. "Are you coming in?"
"To be asked a load of questions?" Alec joked. "No thanks. See you on Friday and if you stay at the studio until I get there I will bring you home, okay?"
"Yeah, thanks Dad. Bye then."
Alec went back to the car after they hugged goodbye, Rose seeing him come around the side of the house.
"Well that went better than I thought it would," Rose admitted as she leaned over to kiss his cheek. "Will she get asked loads of questions?"
"She will but she's almost as good as me at avoiding them," he replied as he started the car. "Your place love?" he asked.
"Yeah, since you put some more stuff in the back of the car," Rose laughed.
Over the next few weeks, Daisy would make her way to Rose's studio on Tuesdays and Fridays and they would all go back to Alec's flat on Friday nights. Saturdays, they agreed Rose would go off for a few hours and they'd all meet up again and everything was going fine.
Since she had no more deliveries to worry about, Alec relaxed a little on his way to Rose's studio every night and they all got into a routine. Tess though had got some information out of Daisy and two weeks after Rose started staying weekends with them, Tess had something to say when he called to collect her.
"Don't blame Daisy," Alec told her. "If you want to know anything, you ask me, not her and yes, Rose is staying with us at weekends. It's no different than when you have Dave around and before you say anything, you chose the arrangements over that. Just because Rose and I choose to spend all our time together, don't bother trying to find out from Daisy if she stays overnight with us."
"Well does she? Dave goes home during the week," Tess reminded him.
"Well you wanted that," Alec replied. "It's only two weeks or so before we get ready to leave, I still have a few things to sort out but DS Miller has agreed to help get Daisy in the same sixth form as her son Tom."
He'd given in and called Ellie at Rose's suggestion the week before.
"So you really are coming back Hardy?" Ellie had asked him. "After all this time? What made you apply for your old job back?"
"Do you need details?" Alec asked as Rose began to smile. "Well, my daughter for one, things aren't going so well for her plus this place doesn't feel like home."
"Neither did here," Ellie reminded him.
"Well no but there is something else to consider, her education for one and I was hoping maybe you could help with that? Things are awkward for her here, she needs to get away."
"Well I'm making no promises but I'll see what I can do but Tom's not exactly popular with what went on, I'll let you know. What do I tell them?" Ellie asked.
"That I will call them and explain, they will get her school record," Alec replied. "Besides, it has nothing to do with the school she's at now, she got in with a bad crowd and it's holding her back from college."
After finishing talking to Ellie, Rose told him he'd done the right thing.
"Doesn't feel like it love," he replied as he held her close.
"So why didn't ya tell her about me?" Rose asked him.
"She'll find out when you get there, it should give her a shock to see I can get myself a girlfriend," he smiled.
Rose had taken several ads out for someone who would either run the studio or take it over completely and so far, she'd only had one person who had been interested but wasn't decided as he'd looked at another studio. Now, there was less than a week before Alec and Daisy were due to leave and Rose was getting upset so on the Thursday night, Alec had cooked for them and they were lying on her sofa.
"You knew this was coming love," he reminded her as they kissed. "You never know love, he might get back to you if the other studio does not work out."
"Yeah but I'll hardly have time to change things over and you and Daisy will be leaving on Saturday."
"There's still time love, we can wait until Sunday, I can call the caravan park and say we won't be there on Saturday or come with us."
"I can't and you know why Alec. You know I won't be able to leave, it's not fair on any of us. It's best that I stay, we decided that," Rose reminded him, curling up.
"I know love, I was just giving you the option," he tried to smile, not wanting to go without her. "We'll have to make the most of tonight and tomorrow night but I can put Daisy off coming over tomorrow night, she won't mind, under the circumstances."
"Yeah, she'll understand, call her in the morning then you can pick her up on Saturday morning," Rose agreed. "How have the last few weeks gone so fast?"
"No good asking me love," he tried to joke, unfastening the buttons on her shirt. "I love you Rose, it won't be for too long, someone else may get interested in the studio. You can always ask the print shop manager if he wants to expand his business?"
"Not funny Alec," Rose replied as she went for his shirt buttons. "Early night then?"
Tess was having one last go at getting information from Daisy, who was getting nervous now the time was approaching to leave home, albeit with her dad whom she'd had to get to know all over again after his absence in her life. That hadn't been either of their faults and she felt like her mother had deliberately put her off seeing him and had made him out to be the bad guy in what had happened and she had realised he'd been a victim as much as she had been.
"So are you sure you can cope with living with your dad and what's her name, Rose?" Tess asked as Daisy was packing a few more things in a holdall as her pink floral case was jam-packed.
"Yes, I'm sure Mum but you're making me nervous so please stop asking me," Daisy replied.
Alec had warned her that her mother would try and get her to change her mind about leaving and she'd been determined not to let it get to her.
"Well you are coming back for visits aren't you?" Tess wanted to know.
"Not that often Mum, school holidays maybe?" Daisy suggested, trying not to give the game away that Rose was going to be living with them in the caravan Alec had booked until they found somewhere.
"I thought your dad would be coming up every other weekend or has that changed?" Tess asked. "That was the plan wasn't it?"
"You'll have to ask him Mum, I can't say, I don't know what he's arranged," Daisy tried to reply tactfully, since Alec had told her Rose still had to find someone willing to take the studio over.
"I thought you said she'd be going down there every other weekend?" Tess reminded her. "Oh, she's going with you?" Tess suddenly realised. "Why doesn't that surprise me? He still won't tell me anything except he's got you into a school for now and he's rented a caravan. No wonder he didn't want to tell, I should have guessed the last time I confronted him, he was being evasive as usual."
"Mum, she's nice, we get on really well but if you think she's trying to take your place with me, she's not. She's been teaching me how to take good photos and how to deal with customers, she's really good with the kids who don't want their photos taken," Daisy told her.
"Is she now?" Tess mused. "You didn't want your photo taken at first," she reminded her.
"I know but she put me at ease," Daisy admitted.
"I bet she did. Do you know how your father ended up with her?" Tess wanted to know.
"He never said, why does it matter?" Daisy asked. "Mum, you have Dave so why are you so bothered about Rose? I bet dad would say it works both ways."
"Dave has nothing to do with this and you know it Daisy," Tess replied, knowing she'd get nothing more out her daughter. "Are you going to your dad's tomorrow night or staying here? You should go see your grandma and your aunts."
"I will, dad will be getting ready to leave," Daisy told her, not wanting to say he'd already moved out of his flat.
Tess thought more like he'd be getting ready to leave his girlfriend but was she going down there to live with them or not?
All day Friday at work, neither Rose or Alec could concentrate and Rose had that sickly feeling all morning. She had put extra appointments on since there was nothing to do in the way of sending photos out and the extra money came in useful. She was about to get ready to go get her lunch when the buzzer went. She went to answer it, hoping Alec was paying a surprise visit and praying Steve hadn't broken the conditions of him being let off.
"Who is it?" Rose asked cautiously as the picture came into view.
"It's me, Brian Riley," the man smiled at her. "Do you have a few minutes to spare?"
Rose thought if he'd come to say he'd take on the studio she could delay her lunch.
"Yeah, come in," Rose replied, releasing the door.
"Thanks," he replied, very aware of the camera and that her boyfriend was in the police force. "I just wanted to ask how much of a hurry you're in to let the studio go?"
"Well, as I said, as soon as possible, what did ya have in mind?" Rose replied, staying in the doorway as Alec had told her to.
"Well, can we come to some sort of arrangement? I've seen how busy you are around here and the other studio I looked at seems a bit quieter to this, you've done really well. So, if you were willing, what if the name stayed the same and I took over everything, rent and all that plus paid you off for what you're asking. Then if all goes well, take over the lease from you?" he suggested, watching for her reaction. "I'd give you a deposit as a sign I'm serious about it."
"Right, so how soon would that be?" Rose asked, Alec having warned her not to say when he was actually leaving.
"I could get everything sorted by say a week on Monday? I have things in place, I just need to tie up a few things. Is the flat also free? You never said when you were moving out."
"Yeah, it comes with the studio. If you come back tonight when my boyfriend's here, you can look around if ya want?" Rose suggested.
"I'm sure it's fine. So, I'll get everything arranged then? I can come by a few days next week to see how you do things, like your booking system, I'm very interested in that and the arrangement you have with the printers."
Rose couldn't believe it was going to be that easy.
"Yeah, great. We'll do that then I'll tell the accountants you'll be taking over. Do you have your own?" Rose asked.
"Ah, my partner sees to the business side, you'll have to ask him," Brian grinned.
Rose thought maybe she should have known. Alec had got worried over nothing.
"I'm sure he can work with your accountants to pay things like the printer's and other costs and it would be easier to keep the studio name for now. So, I'll come back later and see the flat. Do you mind if Ashley comes with me to see? He has his own place but, well I won't bore you with the details," Brian grinned.
"Yeah, come round after six then Alec will be back. He gave his place up 'cos we didn't know when we'd be moving so he gave notice so that wouldn't delay things," Rose admitted, relieved Alec had nothing to worry about her showing him how she did things.
"Fine, we'll see you around six then. Do you want anything legal drawing up?" he asked her.
"I'll see what the accountants say about it, they should be able to tell me," Rose replied.
She thought about calling Alec, who had been a real misery all morning so everyone had stayed out of his way. It came to the attention of the chief, who had picked up his phone and told him.
"Go home Alec, you must have things to do," the Chief told him. "Did your ex give you a hard time when I gave your job to someone else?"
"She never said anything, just she'd been short listed as my replacement. I'm just glad you did not give it to Mills," Alec replied. "Fine, I'll gather my things and let everyone breathe again."
"Wise decision Alec, does that include the photos?" the chief asked him.
Alec had finally got around to getting an identical frame for Daisy's photo, since he'd gone to the trouble of getting one and ending up moving in with Rose, well practically moving in. He'd already got Sandra to bring him a brown box from the storage room to put his few things in so he got it from the shelf behind him and carefully laid the two framed photos face down in the bottom and opened his desk drawer.
Sandra noticed and got up, getting a frown from Mills.
"So do you know who got his job then?" he asked her.
Sandra shook her head. "We'll find out on Monday but I bet it's not his ex though. You know he had no say in it, it was down to the chief," she reminded him.
She tapped on Alec's office door and went in.
"Leaving already Sir?" she asked, seeing the photos were already gone and him rooting in a drawer.
"The chief seems to think I am distracting everyone, I'm sure you agree with him," Alec replied, getting the mousemat with a picture of him, Rose and Daisy that Rose had got the printers to make for him off the desk and placing it in the box. "So if you have anything planned, forget it."
"DS Mills would just say you were trying to get out of buying the drinks," Sandra grinned at him. "Well good luck going back to Broadchurch Sir."
"Thanks Hunter and it was nothing personal, it was just after what happened here before and Broadchurch, it never pays to get friendly with those you work with," Alec told her.
He got up, put his jacket on and picked up the box lid, placing it on top. Then he held out his hand to shake Sandra's.
"You could possibly get someone twice as bad as me but be thankful it's not anyone out there," he nodded towards Mills, who was trying to ignore seeing the two of them talking.
"I doubt that we were ready for DS Mills to take over Sir," Sandra replied.
"Aye, well be thankful it wasn't my ex either," Alec told her as she opened the door for him.
"Right, I'm away," he declared to anyone who was listening.
Mills surprised him by standing up.
"Good luck in your new job Sir, on behalf of everyone," Mills told him, the others nodding their agreement.
Alec suspected they were all relieved to see he was going after the last few weeks when he'd been disrupting the whole office with his moods, especially when he'd not known what was happening over Rose leaving with him.
He went straight to what had become his and Rose's flat above the studio and saw who he thought was the man who'd been debating whether to take the studio over or not getting into a car so he parked up and walked back round to the studio, seeing the grill was halfway down so he went to the bakery and saw her waiting at the counter. Rose turned when the doorbell went.
"Hi! What are you doing here?" she asked him, reaching for his hand. "Want something to eat?"
Getting back to the studio, they kissed then Rose went to make a drink.
"Did I see that man who was interested in the studio leave here a while ago?" he asked her.
"Yeah, we came to an agreement," Rose replied, trying to keep a straight face. "Another week Alec, he'll take over a week on Monday."
She turned and sprang herself on him, Alec just catching her.
"That's great news love. I'll tell Daisy later then? See, I told you it would work out. Why don't you come with us tomorrow and see the town?" he suggested.
Rose's smile faded. "I won't want to come back Alec, it's best I don't go but will you come up for me next weekend?" she asked, seeing his smile also fade.
"You don't need to ask me that love, we'll come up on Friday night then you can hand over on Saturday morning."
Rose went to kiss him. "Sounds like a plan to me."
After a tearful parting the following morning, Alec opting to pick Daisy up afterwards as he didn't want them both setting off getting upset, Rose walked him down to his car.
"I'll call when we get there," he promised, his arms around her neck. "We'll video call, yes?"
Rose managed to nod. "Yeah, it won't be too bad. Maybe before I get there you can keep an eye out for a suitable place for a studio?"
"We will and don't worry about finances, you said the accountants had sorted everything," Alec told her. "We can manage until you find somewhere. There are not a lot of properties around the harbour though, you may end up in a beach hut," he tried to joke.
"Then I don't care. Bye then, see you next Friday? Don't keep Daisy waiting, she seemed nervous enough."
"Just as long as she did not tell her mother everything but Tess will get to know someone's taken over the studio sooner or later," he replied. "Bye love, I'll miss you next week."
"I'll miss you too and Daisy. Bye then."
She watched him drive off after he reversed out of what had become his parking space and he saw her waving through the mirror. What had started out with trying to give Daisy a new start had turned out to be a new start for the three of them. He saw Rose with her phone in her hand and he'd just got to the exit of the car park when the message tone went.
There was no-one behind him so he flicked the screen to see what she had sent the message about. It simply read 'Smile!'
Six months later
Rose had been lucky that the office the Broadchurch Echo had occupied hadn't extended the lease and Rose had inside information and had got it quickly. She used the upstairs part as the studio, darkening the windows with heavy black roller blinds and using the downstairs as a waiting room. Daisy helped out after college and Alec had helped her by suggesting she bought a better printer so she could offer a twenty minute service which meant she could carry on taking photos and they were sent directly to the printer then she just popped them in a white folded frame she'd had designed and she was doing really well.
They had settled in a house just behind where the studio was and she was considering taking on another staff member to see to the orders so she could take more photos. That was when Daisy decided she wanted to do it.
"So can I leave college then?" Daisy asked them both a week before she was due back.
"It's not that I don't want ya to help," Rose assured her almost stepdaughter as Alec had proposed to her on her birthday. "What do ya think Alec?"
"Rose is right, you should finish your education first but why not compromise? Just take the subjects you are really interested in then you'll have more free time?" he suggested. "Besides, it will be quiet now the season's over."
"Wanna bet?" Rose smiled. "Most of the customers say their friends had some done, seems my own backdrops have been a success."
"So you are glad I suggested it then?" he smiled back.
"Yeah, I have to give ya that one," Rose laughed. "So you extended your six month contract?"
"Yes though Miller wasn't as bad as I thought she would be," he had to admit. "Anything to do with you?" he asked Rose as they cleared up after their evening meal.
Rose and Daisy looked across at each other, not wanting to tell him she'd shown Ellie the photos she'd taken of him that he somehow had forgotten about – or had he?
Hope you enjoyed the story! Thanks for all the kind comments - they were much appreciated.