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Alec Hardy and the maths tutor

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Rose had been delighted to be finally offered a place in one of the best universities in the country after her college professor said she should apply. She had started her studies late after going in several directions and finally settling on wanting to be a mathematics teacher so she had enrolled at a local college and passed all the relevant exams to go ahead. Packing wasn't going to be easy, she had managed to get a room at one of the campuses but she had heard about how cramped and over-priced they were but when she finally arrived, it wasn't so bad.

Settling in on her first day having checked her schedule, Rose decided to go find the library since she couldn't afford all the extra books she needed so she was going to have to get a weekend job to pay for some and make do with borrowing them for now. The library was busy for a Monday evening, term started on Thursday, rather oddly Rose had thought but supposed there was a reason for it. She had opted to arrive early to find her way around the city and since she lived on campus, she wouldn't have to pay for transport unless she wanted to go somewhere.

Her first year went smoothly, she made some friends, had a couple of dates, nothing serious and went home for the summer holidays. Arriving back early again, she thought about the vast amount of books she still had to purchase and thought now she had one years experience behind her, she could offer her services to frantic parents whose children were struggling with their maths, since they would all be going up a class and the maths problems would get more difficult.

So she put an ad in the local shops and the university's library and waited to see if anyone wanted to engage her expertise.

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Alec Hardy was tired of all the fighting at home, thinking he would be best just moving out, if it hadn't been for his daughter that was. He only stayed for her. He remembered what it was like for him, growing up with his parents fighting and hiding in his room or under some cliffs he remembered from a childhood holiday, somewhere on the south coast of England. He spent his off duty time helping his 13yr old daughter Daisy struggle with her maths homework, everything else she was really good at and at 13, she was virtually impossible to tell to get on with it and when he was there, he banned her from watching TV and then she would get her mother to take her side, which ended in another round of arguments.

When his wife deemed to be at home at the same time as he was, they avoided each other, Alec had moved into the spare room, well box room, just space for a bed and a wardrobe and Tess would always let her daughter off lightly for leaving any homework until the last minute and it was always him that had to go explain to the teacher why his daughter's grades were low. Daisy was about to start a new school year and her new teacher may not be as understanding as her last one.

His daughter's maths teacher, Mrs Adams turned out to be keen to help where she could but the school had a policy of no keeping pupils after hours to catch up so she suggested that he advertise for a maths tutor or look one up in the phone book or on the internet. Failing that, if they were too expensive, she suggested he looked up the ads in the university library or the papershop just near the building where the students often placed ads offering to tutor each other in exchange for being taught another subject or for payment.

Taking her advice, on one of his next days off, he decided to go to the library, which was quite near where he lived and seeing if anyone was offering maths tuition and saw a card on the crowded notice board and pulled it off to look at it and write the number down. The name read Rose Tyler and she was offering help with maths related homework and it said rates negotiable so he was very interested. He thought she would be the geeky type if she was a maths student but it didn't matter as long as she could get Daisy in the right frame of mind to catch up to her new class.

He had just noted the number down in his notebook when he heard a voice behind him.

"I hope you're gonna put that card back you know, I intended it to reach more than one person and if you walk off with it, I'll have to replace it."

Alec turned around, putting his pen and notebook back in his jacket. There behind him stood a very pretty five foot something blonde haired woman with hazel eyes and a grin that would melt a block of ice, staring at him.

"Excuse me? This is your advert? For your information, Miss Tyler, I did intend putting the card back once I had noted your details. Do you make a habit of keeping an eye on who picks your advertisement up?"

Rose tried not to blush. "Not usually, I was just on my way to study. I can't afford the extra books, that's why I'm offering tuition. I'm in my second year, I reckon I can solve any secondary school maths problems."

"I've no doubt you can. What about 13yr olds with problems that they don't actually want to do their maths homework?"

Rose widened her grin. "Oh, I specialize in those."

"Then you're hired Miss Tyler," Alec said, handing the card to her after scribbling his address on the back with the pen he withdrew back out of his pocket.

"Why don't you come along tonight around five and I'll introduce you to the guilty party? I'm Alec Hardy by the way and the reluctant pupil is my daughter, Daisy. Can you find your way there?"

"Sure, I know where that is," Rose replied, turning over the card and reading the address.

"So about your fees? Why don't you tell me how many books you need and we can work something out? You give Daisy lessons say, three days a week for an hour but starting at four, tonight you just come round and meet her and it will give you chance to change your mind."

"Why, is she really that bad?"

"You think back to when you were that age and then tell me."

Rose laughed. This was going to be a challenge. "Well I'll make a list of books I need then and work out how much they cost, I can buy second-hand ones."

"Good. I'll see you at five then. My wife should be home by then, not that you need her approval."

Rose was rather relieved he was married, she didn't fancy having to fend him off. When she had seen him take her ad off the board, she thought he was one of those types that just did it to rile the person who had placed it and had no intention of making any use of it but she had been thankful that he was going to give her a job, one that might mean her work would be cut out for her if his description of his daughter was accurate. She remembered what a terror she and her cousins used to be at that age. She was now 25 and it seemed a long time ago.

Alec walked off, slightly pleased with himself that it had been so easy to find someone. She seemed smart and had a sense of humour and he was sure his daughter would relate to her. She seemed to be in her early to mid twenties and not at all the geeky type, not that he really knew what one actually looked like.

When he got home, his wife was still on duty and no doubt would take her time coming home as usual, when he had gone through all the usual persuasion methods to get Daisy to do her homework. He had strong suspicions Tess was seeing someone at the station, he had received a few looks like everyone knew apart from him.

He looked in the mirror. He needed a shave but it was one of his days off, to hell with it. He was no longer trying to impress anyone, certainly not his wife. He had taken to the spare room because she ignored him anyway and purposely hogged all the space in bed and he could no longer put up with it. They had both agreed to keep it to a minimum when Daisy was around but Alec suspected the girl knew there was something which was probably why she didn't want to do her homework.

Daisy came home from school and threw her bag in the hallway and went to see what she could find in the fridge. Alec got the usual, "Mum always had snacks for me," or "Mum always made me a sandwich," when she was perfectly old enough to be making her own. Alec had decided he was not going to pamper her.

"Daisy, what homework do you have tonight?"

The girl stopped in her tracks. "Some English and some maths. I'm not doing the maths, you know I don't like it, I'm rubbish at it. Why do I even have to do it, it's not like I'm ever going to need that stuff anyway."

"You will if you want to go to college. Do you even know what you want to do yet?"

He got no answer. "Well, I hired you a maths tutor, to help you catch up. It will make the subject less daunting."

The girl rolled her eyes. "Are you kidding me dad? Seriously? Some old woman who will stand over me and rap my fingers if I get a sum wrong and I have to go to and from someone's house every night."

"For one, your new tutor is coming here and secondly, she's not old, she's a university second year student who knows enough about what you're being taught in your class. You can meet her in about an hour. Her name is Rose Tyler so be civil to her and don't be cheeky."

Rose had finished her class and went back to her room to get changed to go and meet Daisy Hardy, supposed troublesome 13yr old who didn't like maths and she hoped she would be able to present the subject in an enjoyable way but she wasn't going to put up with any nonsense with the girl and she was going to tell the girl's father as much. She might not be that much older but she was going to get some respect out of the girl.

Just before five, Rose was outside the Hardy family home, not far from the university and she rang the doorbell. A young brown-haired girl answered.

"Hi, are you Daisy Hardy? I'm Rose Tyler, your dad asked me to call and see you about tutoring you in maths."

The girl shrugged her shoulders, taking a bite out an apple. "Dad, the tutor's here," she called, showing no interest.

Rose thought she may just be wasting her time here but she needed those books or it meant even more hours spent in the library and getting thrown out at closing time.

Alec came out of the kitchen to see his daughter had left the woman standing on the doorstep.

"Daisy, where are your manners? I'm sorry Miss Tyler, please come in. Daisy, get your maths homework and show Miss Tyler what sort of work you're doing."

"Whatever Dad." The girl slouched her way up the stairs.

Alec showed Rose into the living room. "I apologise for her, she's getting worse but I suppose it will get much worser. Now, about your rates, did you bring that list of books you need?"

Rose went in her shoulder bag and brought out a piece of paper and handed it to him. The total came to over £200. He thought at that rate, she would have to work two months to earn enough even if she came three times a week.

"Look Miss Tyler, why don't I meet you at the university book store and pay for these, then you'll have them and you can work it off? That way, you won't have to wait for them."

"But you don't know me, Mr Hardy and I may not get on with your daughter."

"You'll do fine. If it gets so bad, you can pay me off for the books then you're free to leave. Deal?"

Rose knew she wouldn't get a better offer. "Deal."

Daisy came in with her homework and Alec left the two of them. Soon, he heard laughing coming from the living room and just hoped they were actually doing some work. He needn't have worried as Daisy came in to show him when she had finished.

"Rose is a lot of fun Dad, she showed me an easy way of doing it and then I did it all by myself. Can she come again? I need help with all the homework I never finished, then I can get my grade."

Alec smiled. Yes, Miss Tyler could indeed come over again, she had performed a miracle with her, she didn't seem like the same girl and he wondered what else the woman would be able to change in her. Daisy didn't have a lot of friends, well not that he approved of anyway. He just hoped Tess wouldn't object when she came home and Daisy told her. He could just imagine it now. His wife would use any excuse to get to him and having a young blonde woman in the house for an hour a day, three times a week was giving her ammunition. He just needed to get some proof that she was cheating on him then he would be out.

He had just made himself and Rose a cup of tea when the kitchen door opened and in walked his wife. Daisy had apparently told her that Alec was in the kitchen with her new maths tutor.

"So, who's this then Alec? Isn't she a bit young for a maths tutor? What else does she teach then? And she's drinking my tea."

Rose got up to retrieve her shoulder bag and held her hand out. "Hi, I'm Rose Tyler, I was tutoring your daughter with her maths, she did quite well."

"Oh are you now?" the other woman asked. "Why didn't you consult with me before you hired anyone and does she have to be so young?"

Rose thought she had become invisible and decided to try to sneak out while she could. The woman she believed was Mrs Hardy, was glaring at her.

"Because I only hired her today. You're not helping Daisy do her maths homework, do you want her to fail all her exams again? Rose will bring her up to standard so she won't miss out on her grades. Rose happens to be a second year student at the university."

"Oh, so that's where you found her?"

"Oh come on Tess, be reasonable. Rose is coming here three times a week for an hour, that's all. She needs the money to buy books. I'm sorry Rose, perhaps it's best you leave now, I'll see you at five on Wednesday."

Rose was about to say she thought he had originally said four but wasn't going to argue. Maybe he was going to make sure she wasn't left alone with his jealous wife, not that there was absolutely anything to be jealous of, they had just met and he was employing her. He had said nothing about getting her books for her and she didn't even know what line of work he was in, whether he was well off or just struggling along like everyone else but he had offered to buy her books for her up front.

When Rose had left, his wife turned on him again. "Well if you think I'm going to be here while she is, forget it Alec. I can find some extra work to do at the station. Oh and by the way, the chief wants to see you in the morning so you had better smarten yourself up, you look like you haven't shaved for two days."

"Well that's because I haven't. Can't I do what I please on my day's off? Geez. What does he want to see me for, have there been any new developments in the case?"

"Don't ask me, find out for yourself tomorrow and that Rose had better be gone on Wednesday when I get back. I don't want her influencing Daisy."

"If anything, she'll do her some good. I can't keep covering up for her with her maths teacher and Daisy actually enjoyed herself earlier."

Rose was there to tutor their daughter for three hours a week and Daisy would be there the whole time. He should be the one to be jealous if anything, her getting 'extra' work at the station? It was just an excuse to stay away from him and now he was even more certain she was seeing someone behind his back. His suspicions were about to be confirmed the next day.