Rose Tyler, reporter, was never one to give up. She had watched two families fall apart in a courtroom in a town called Sandbrook because one miserable detective inspector lost a vital piece of evidence and she was going to make sure he never forgot it. She had stayed in the town after it all fell apart and finally said goodbye to the mother of the youngest victim, whom she had become good friends with but her editor wanted her back - pronto.
She had settled back down to life, writing press releases and supposed it was some sort of punishment for failing to get the story she had thought was going to make her a big name but when that reckless detective had screwed things up, she had promised him she wouldn't forget and the next time she heard his name, he'd know about it.
She had her phone constantly on a social networking site, looking for his name because if he screwed up again, she would be there but she didn't need the news-feed to tell her something was going on, she saw it for herself on the afternoon news as the name 'Detective Inspector Alec Hardy' flashed up on screen.
Rose was straight in to her editor, begging to be sent down to cover the story.
"When are you going to stop pursuing the man Rose?" she was asked.
"Are you kidding? You know what he did. I can drive down there first thing and get the low-down, there won't be that many reporters there yet, we could get a good story out of this. I can interview the parents, see how they're coping and warn them about Hardy."
"He might make a complaint against you Rose, you barely got away with it the last time and you know it."
Rose remembered. "Aw, that was nothing, I think he just fancied me."
"Yeah, of course he did," Donna laughed. "You and your blonde hair distracted him and made him lose the evidence. Are you sure it wasn't you he was meeting when his car was broken into?"
Rose blushed. She could have fancied the bloke if he hadn't been so obnoxious towards her. She would have gladly had a fling with him, his marriage was on the rocks, that had been clear, there had been nothing to stop her. He, on the other hand, had felt entirely different about it, telling her in no uncertain terms to get the hell out of his face and if he saw her again, it would be too soon.
Rose took that as a sign he didn't want to take her to bed and shag her senseless.
"Miss Noble, I have no idea what you're talking about," Rose grinned, knowing what the redhead meant.
Donna laughed. "Get out of here Tyler, pack your bag and book a cheap and nasty hotel preferably as cheap as possible and get me a story. No big story by the end of next week and you're back here, get it?"
Rose did a mock salute. "Yes Ma'am."
Then Donna wondered why her gramps used to call her 'The little general'.
So Rose made her way back to the flat she still shared with her mother to pack for a week in Broadchurch. She'd never heard of the place until it came up on the news. How on earth had Hardy managed to con someone into taking him on after what he did? Some unsuspecting chief had been ordered to let him in, she could bet on that, no-one would have taken him voluntarily, that was for sure. Rose got home and started to pack, her mother watching from the doorway.
"Can't you let it rest Rose?"
"Don't know what you mean Mum."
"That Alec Hardy, he was on the news again, you're letting him get to you all over again. I thought that had all died down."
"Never Mum, not while Lisa is still missing and Pippa's family don't know who did it. Hardy should have been kicked out, everyone knows it. I'm going to make sure he doesn't do it again. He slips up, just once and I'll be there."
"Are you sure it's not just because you fancy him?" Jackie laughed.
"Not you as well? I had enough of that from Donna, thanks very much. No, he had his chance, he told me to get out of town, so I did. No reason to think he'll have changed his mind and I've not changed mine, by bringing him down if I have to. Donna's given me a week to get a story, hope it doesn't take him as long as it did on his last case or I'll be stuck in a dead-end seaside town."
"Maybe I should come with you then? You're getting your room paid for."
"If only mum but you know the paper's policy, I wish you could come, that jerk will be rattling my chain and I could do with the moral support but Donna won't go for it. She reckons that having someone with you distracts you from your job and I can see her point, especially if you take a girlfriend or boyfriend with you."
After Rose had left, Donna picked up her desk phone and called her hapless brother and deputy editor, James, who she knew had a crush on the blonde who had just left her office and who now she thought about it, did look a little like the detective in question though she thought Rose had hardly noticed, since she went out of her way to ignore James, making him even more nervous. Donna just wished he would get his act together, there were plenty of girls who would jump at the chance to go out with him.
There was Martha, the dark skinned copy writer, there was Sophia from accounts who always tripped up when she saw him, his lanky frame and his hair sticking up all over the place and last but not least, Christina, the dark haired daughter of the owner, who graced them with her presence whenever she had dumped her latest filthy rich boyfriend and tried to prey on poor James again, leaving him a bit overwhelmed that he would bump into things, last time the photocopier and had bashed his toe against it, hopping all over the place that even Rose had laughed.
That had made him even worse, Rose witnessing his unwitting encounter with a machine. He had gone off to his office and tried to forget about it. Unfortunately for him, if Rose sat in the right position, he could just about see her. He pined over her and when she was away on assignment, he would just pretend she had gone for coffee or something – for a week or so. The last time she had been away, in Sandbrook, he had been downright miserable even his gramps hadn't been able to cheer him up.
James Noble, 38 yrs old, two failed long term relationships under his belt and no current girlfriend, he was waiting for Rose Tyler, in fact he was saving himself for Rose Tyler. Not that Rose Tyler even knew he existed, except for stubbing his toe on the photo copier the last time that Lady Christina had graced the office and tried to get him in the janitor's closet, a narrow escape he'd had from that encounter when she had underestimated the time the janitor would be starting work. That had been his lucky day and hopefully, she would have found another victim.
Donna pressed her brother's office number. He answered.
"Hey Dumbo, get in here, I'm going to do you a huge favour and send you on an assignment – with Rose Tyler."
James dropped his phone. Was Donna winding him up again? She knew he worshipped Rose Tyler, the very ground she walked upon. He managed to answer.
"Be right in Sis, this had better not be one of your jokes, I'm not going to fall for it."
"Just get in here or she'll be halfway to Broadchurch."
"Where the hell is Broadchurch? Never heard of it."
"Well get in my office and I'll tell you spaceman."
"Be right there." He hung up and made a point of going by Rose's desk, to see her rummaging through her desk drawers.
"Hiya Rose, how's it going?"
She didn't answer. He didn't expect her to. Rose went off home while James was talking to Donna. Donna gave him all the details and got her secretary, Astrid, to book two single rooms at the cheapest hotel in Broadchurch and filled her clueless brother in.
"Go pick Rose up in the morning and drive down together to save fuel. I'll call her now and break the good news to her."
"But Donna it's over 100 miles away, I won't survive. Can't I go down on my own?"
"No, don't be such a girl and get over it. You're just two reporters getting a story about a boy who's been murdered, nothing else."
"But why me? Can't Rose go on her own?"
Donna laughed. "Are you kidding. The last time she met Alec Hardy, sparks flew, I'm surprised they didn't kill each other or shag each other. They share a mutual hatred of each other and I don't trust her to go alone. You're her boss, you keep her in line."
James thought that was easy for her to say. He could barely put a sentence together when Rose Tyler was around, let alone spend a week in a seaside town, in the same hotel plus the fact the weekend was almost upon them and there wouldn't be much going on. He supposed Donna wanted them to get the background story before the whole thing blew up next week. Still, a nice week by the sea, staring at Rose over breakfast and dinner wouldn't be too bad. It could be a lot worse, Donna could be sending Christina, the predator with him.
Donna called Rose, who was busy packing after her mother pleaded with her not to go getting messed up with the detective again. Jackie Tyler knew the state Rose had been in when she had got back from Sandbrook. Rose had kicked everything in sight, infuriated with the man and Jackie half suspected it was because she was hopelessly in love with him but she wouldn't admit it. Rose had ranted and raved for weeks about him and had just finally stopped being so angry with him but no, the man had to get himself in the middle of another child's murder and Rose was on a vendetta against him – again.
Jackie knew it was going to end in tears, Hardy didn't seem the type of bloke who would be tamed by a young blonde female. Jackie had read he'd got divorced, she kept an eye on him, to save Rose getting upset, though he did look a bit of alright and too old for her daughter but too young for herself and she wouldn't go after a bloke Rose fancied, whether she would admit it or not.
Jackie just wished Rose would settle down and go out with Mickey, the boy she grew up with but nothing had ever come of that, Rose treated him like a big brother, there was nothing romantic about it, much to Mickey's and hers dismay. Looking at the TV and the detective, Jackie noticed he'd grown a scruffy beard and hoped it would put Rose off for good. She knew there was the deputy editor, James Noble, who fancied Rose something rotten.
She had seen him at last year's Christmas party, sat in the corner nursing the same drink all night, dying to ask Rose to dance with him but she had stuck with her friends all night, that Martha and the stuck-up Sophia, who had eyed poor James all night that he'd crept out at some point and Rose hadn't even noticed he'd been there, let alone that he'd left. Funny though, Jackie thought, he could be the twin of this Alec Hardy though not so much now he had a beard she supposed.
Rose answered her phone, trying to ignore the name 'Donna' on the display but since she was the boss, she wouldn't just ring off.
"Hiya Donna, sorry, my phone got buried under a pile of clothes. Did you want something?"
Donna knew that was a feeble excuse if ever she had heard one and she had heard them all – mostly from Rose herself especially when she had pulled the plug on Sandbrook and forced Rose to stop her obsession with the gruff detective by bringing her back down to earth.
"Yeah, whatever Rose. I 've got some good news and some bad news for you, which first?"
"Can you just get on with it, please?"
"The good news is I'm sending someone with you so you don't have to take your car, they're driving. The bad news is - it's James."
"What? What have I done to deserve that Donna? Don't you trust me?"
"In a word – no, not when it comes to Alec Hardy. I know what he did to you last time and I'm afraid you'll both go too far on this one. You're still angry with him over that case and he's probably still angry with you for stitching him up over it and will probably arrest you for harassment or interfering with an investigation, probably both. Either that or he'll shag the life out of you or you will him, one or the other. Face it Rose, you're obsessed with the bloke."
"Am not, that's completely untrue, I am not and never have been obsessed with Alec Hardy."
Jackie raised her eyebrows and left the room. Who was Rose trying to fool?
"Anyway," Donna continued. "James will pick you up in the morning, just after nine so be ready. Astrid had got you two rooms at The Trader's Hotel, got a good rate so you've got a double room each. Seems the hotel owner was grateful for the custom since she had some cancellations. You never know, Hardy might be staying there, you can have adjoining rooms and sneak in and out without anyone seeing," Donna sniggered.
"Stop it Donna, like that's ever gonna happen. So you're sending your lovesick brother to look after me? Just what I need. We barely talk, you know that?"
"Maybe on your part, he never shuts up about you. Have you even given him a try? No, you've been so fixated on Hardy that you haven't seen the way James acts around you. All the two years he's been here, he's turned woman after woman down, wanting you to notice him and he's drawn the attention of every female here but he's only got eyes for you. You could make an effort while you're away, at least be friends with him. You do know he looks a bit like Hardy?"
Rose went quiet. "Can't say I've noticed who either of them look like, well maybe except that scrumptious actor that I like, a bit I suppose. Are you playing matchmaker on me Donna Noble?"
"Me? What gave you that Idea? Just get on with it and give the poor bloke a break will you?"
Rose had to concede. "Yes boss!"
"Don't be cheeky or I'll personally call Hardy and tell him you fancy him and want to snog him to death."
"You wouldn't dare!"
"Either that or I'll tell James the reason why you avoid him is because you're madly in love with him," Donna giggled.
"Ok, stop it Donna. See you in a week then, when do we come back?"
"Next Saturday or before, depends on what you two get. James will get all the background information, you get the family's and Hardy's stories plus any witnesses and don't tread on anyone's toes."
"Do I ever do that Donna?"
"No, only Alec Hardy's," came the reply. "He won't know what hit him."
Alec Hardy was sat in his office after giving the media the details of the gruesome find on the beach that morning. It had been bad enough that the DS he had supposedly stolen the job from had chosen to bring up the subject at the murder scene, then the mother of the boy had got past the police tape and had to be dragged away. Then he'd had to break it to them officially and Miller, well, she had been too 'nice' with the family for his liking and it turned out they were best friends.
Still, he supposed, it was no worse than working with his then wife on the Sandbrook case and now he was well rid of Tess though he'd had to sacrifice his relationship, such as it had been with his daughter. He knew he'd done the right thing to protect her by taking the blame for the case falling apart but he didn't think he deserved to be sent to this one horse seaside town and have a week of chasing petty criminals then be thrown head-first into a murder, especially when it was probably the town's first and the personnel were nowhere near equipped to deal with this.
He didn't think that if Miller had got this job, she would have either the experience or the stomach to solve the murder and they would have had to draught a senior experienced officer in anyway and he would have probably landed the job so it was a good thing he was already here but the circumstances were too close to home, another murdered child. His only consolation was this time, another teenager was not missing. He swore if he got through this, he would finish the other case, get it re-opened, with or without going through official channels.
He thought about Sandbrook, the complicated relationships between the families and the neighbours, the wife of the main suspect changing her testimony suddenly and pleading for his help but he'd had to refuse, he was already disgraced, he couldn't get caught up in that and in the end, she had disappeared. He just hoped the Latimers were not going to turn out the same. It was punishment, for screwing up big time and all he needed now was for Rose Tyler to get wind of what was going on and fly down on her broomstick and come and taunt him with her incessant questioning and her 'I said you were a failure' speech.
He knew it was going to be inevitable she would show up, unless her boss prevented her, after last time. She probably ended up polishing press releases after she failed to return after she was supposed to. The murdered girl's mother had said that the reporter had stayed around afterwards and had promised her she would get justice, one way or another. He just hoped it wasn't going to be at his expense.
If Rose Tyler showed up here, she would find out his health situation and it would be all over.
The reporter was relentless and he half blamed his condition on her and half on his ex wife but if the truth was to be told, taking a dip in that icy cold river was mostly responsible, the two women were just scapegoats. Only time would tell if the female vulture would show up and go after him again. If she did, he would be ready for her and this time, he wouldn't let the case collapse and he wouldn't let Rose Tyler get the better of him, he couldn't afford to.
This case was going to make him or break him. If he failed again, he would be out permanently and he might as well give up and go get that operation, get invalided out of the force because police work was his life and be branded the cop that let two killers get away because of it. He might be able to worm his way back in somehow but not on active duty, they would bury him so deep, teaching cadets or something equally boring that it would send students and himself to sleep.
No, he was not letting this one get away and he was not going to let Rose Tyler get to him. If they had met under different circumstances, he would have taken her to bed, when he was able, and shagged the life out her but she was public enemy number one in his books and he wasn't going to forget that easily what she had done to him. Well maybe not.