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Rose and Alec's first meeting

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Rose just had enough money for the bus fare to the Dorset coast and a week in a bed and breakfast establishment then she'd have to find some employment, any employment or she'd be walking back to the Powell Estate admitting her failure. She'd cleared out her savings and had managed to get the week's pay she was owed after her place of employment went up in smoke but only after her mother went to the Police asking how she got it and contacted the store's head office. She'd had to wait two weeks to get it.

All the way down on the coach, she'd been thinking back to the night the store was destroyed by fire, how she'd been attacked by shop window dummies, then attacked in her own home by a plastic arm and the fact that a strange man wearing a leather jacket and sporting a northern accent had somehow got her in the middle of a battle as more dummies came to life. He'd taken her inside an old fashioned 1950's Police Box and they'd somehow moved location and then he'd had the nerve to ask her if she wanted to go with him. Had he been serious?

To make matters even worse, her boyfriend, well her on/off sometimes boyfriend had fallen out with her over it, accusing her of leaving him to be captured by these 'Living' dummies and left to die and she'd gone swanning off with this bloke, which she hadn't. So she'd had enough of the accusations and her mother and gone off to seek a quiet life. Her coach fare would get her as far as a place called 'Broadchurch' because she'd researched that holiday accommodation was cheaper there than neighbouring seaside towns.

She did have one fallback though, a friend of her mother's, Ellie Miller, who was a Police Detective no less, had heard what had happened and said if she got really stuck, she would help her out. Rose used to call her 'Auntie Ellie' when she was younger, she used to come up to London to visit every Christmas before she'd had her son Tom but she and Rose's mother had kept in touch and being in the police, she'd naturally known all about the invasion of the shop window dummies.

The coach dropped her off by the harbour and Rose checked her phone for the address of the B&B and set off with her two cases and a shoulder bag. She saw the Police Station and thought about seeing if Ellie was there but thought instead she'd call her later to let her know she'd arrived and she'd been invited to dinner, Ellie told her to get a taxi and she'd pay for it. She sat by the sea wall wondering whether to ask for directions, it was already after four and she was tired from the boring journey.

She'd just got out her phone to ring the B&B to ask directions when a man with a beard stopped in front of her. He saw her two cases and bag and she thought he must have assumed she was either lost or homeless. She was one and would be the other if things didn't work out. She looked up from her phone as he held out a police ID card out to her but didn't notice his name. She'd only thought that uniformed officers stopped and questioned people if they looked like they didn't belong there and she certainly thought at the moment she didn't.

"Are you lost, Miss?" the man said in a Scottish voice, not what Rose had expected, being in Dorset. "You can't sit there all night, it's a town by-law. Do you have somewhere to go?" Rose nodded. "Then you need to be on your way, it will be dark soon, I can't let you stay there."

Rose got up and picked up her shoulder bag and took the handle of one case to balance getting hold of the other when he stopped her and took it from her.

"Tell me where you're staying and I'll help you," he offered.

So Rose told him the address of the B&B and he knew where it was so she set off after him, struggling to keep up with his fast pace until they turned up a side street with a row of tall houses and found the one she wanted. He asked if she'd be ok now and she nodded again, not knowing exactly what to say apart from a 'Thank You' so he waited for her to go inside, probably making sure she was actually staying there and not going to take up residence on the nearest bench then turned and went on his way.

Rose got settled in her small but reasonably comfortable room, having negotiated a rate for just the room for seven nights, she saved money and could get a cheap breakfast out somewhere while looking for a job and unpacked her things and phoned her mum to let her know she'd arrived. Then just after seven, she ventured out of the B&B to find a taxi rank and gave them Ellie's address, saying someone would come out and pay.

Ellie came out and greeted her with a warm hug and paid the taxi driver and took her inside. Rose had never seen a photo of Ellie's younger son, Fred and he'd gone to bed but Ellie took her upstairs to see him as he was still awake and she remarked how Tom looked different from the photos she'd seen of him and asked him how he was doing at school.

They chatted over dinner, Rose filling them in on how her mother was doing and omitting the part where a madman in a Police Box had offered to take her away, otherwise she'd have got locked up in a padded cell. Ellie told her all about their last holiday and how she'd been disappointed she'd not got her promotion and it had gone to a bloke, from Scotland no less but she'd made her peace with him. He'd just solved the murder of her best friend's son and had been taken ill in the process and he'd originally been taken off duty but had been let back on light duties pending him going and having an operation.

Rose took a wild stab in the dark and asked if this Scottish bloke was tall, with brown hair and a scruffy beard. Ellie couldn't understand how she could have described him so accurately except she'd missed out the bit about him being grumpy with it.

"Rose, how on earth could you know who I'm talking about? You've just arrived or did you see him all over the news when the case was going on?"

"No, I didn't even know about that poor boy's murder, don't watch the news much then there was all that trouble the other week and I was sort of pre-occupied. Plus, my sort of boyfriend left me so I've been out of it. When did that happen?"

"The boy, Danny, was murdered a few month's ago but we only caught the killer 3 weeks ago. Hardy, that's the Scottish bloke to you, collapsed twice while on the case and our boss had suspended him the day he discovered who the killer was so he got a reprieve on the condition that he get himself sorted and was confined to desk duty, nothing too strenuous. Apparently, he has to go up to Glasgow for his operation, it's too delicate for the local surgeons. You still haven't answered my question if you didn't see him in the news. I'm surprised you didn't, they labelled him the worst cop in Britain when he failed to catch the killer after a few weeks. It took a lot out of him and he nearly sacrificed himself and they still won't leave him alone."

Her husband chirped in that even Ellie had been against him at first but had finally taken pity on him.

Rose was looking slightly guilty, this had to be the man who had wheeled her case over to where she was staying and he shouldn't have been helping her. Ellie looked at her, asking what was wrong.

"Ellie, he helped me with my case when I'd got off the coach. I was sat by the sea wall, about to phone the B&B when he came up to me and asked if I was lost. Then he asked me where I was staying and escorted me there. What's wrong with him anyway? He did look a bit off come to think of it."

"It's his heart, some kind of irregular heartbeat, he needs a pacemaker but it could kill him, he's only got a 50/50 chance."

Rose looked horrified at the thought she may have caused him to suffer further. He'd not said much on the way over to where she was staying. No wonder. Now she just hoped he was ok, he might not have been. "Ellie, can you ring him and make sure he's ok, I feel really awful for getting him to help me. Please tell him I'm sorry."

Ellie saw she looked really worried and dialled Hardy's number, saying he wouldn't be happy to get a call from her at nine o'clock at night but said she'd risk it for Rose's benefit.

He was gruff when he answered, thinking it was an emergency, which he shouldn't be getting calls about anyway. Ellie explained that the woman he had helped earlier was a friend down from London and wanted to thank him for helping her. She left the bit out about Rose being concerned. Hardy didn't like his personal business being spread to strangers. Satisfied he was his usual grumpy self, she ended the call and asked Rose if she was satisfied.

She asked Rose if she had enough money to last her a week, Rose said she'd paid for a room for seven nights in advance and that she had a roof over her head until next Sunday night and hopefully, she'd get a job and book another week and find somewhere more permanent but it was only £75 for the week with it being just after the season had ended so she might stay there a few weeks and save up. Ellie said it was a good idea and if she was careful and ate sensibly she'd make her money last.

Just as Rose was leaving, Ellie asked her to wait for a few minutes and went back in to talk to her husband. She came back out and said she'd talked it over and they insisted that if she could make her way to their house, she could have her evening meal with them and she'd drive her back. Rose thanked her and pulled her into a hug. That would save her a lot of money. Rose said if they did, she insisted she helped with the dishes so Ellie said it was a deal and if she ran out of money to get a room for the next week, she'd loan her enough to pay for the room.

Ellie drove her back and on the way suggested a few places she might find a job but she'd left it late in the season and all the summer jobs were finished. Rose said she'd not exactly planned this, how was she supposed to know her workplace would be going up in smoke? They both laughed and Ellie wished her luck the following day and said she'd see her tomorrow night. She asked Rose if she'd be able to find her way back to her house and she said she'd manage, it didn't seem far. Ellie said it was quicker up the coastal path and across the field but not in the dark. Rose said she'd manage but was told if she got lost, to ring.

Rose settled down to her first night in Broadchurch, enjoying her new found freedom away from her mother. Tomorrow, she would have to start looking for a job. She was going to try some of the bigger hotels or some of the cafés, hoping people had gone back to university or college and there might be some vacancies. Failing that, try one of the agencies up in the town as a temp or something. The following morning, she was out early, deciding to go have a proper breakfast then wait until her meal with Ellie, that would also save her some money.

She tried some of the hotels, looking in the windows for staff wanted but had no luck so she walked up into the town to look in the shops and was just going to try the supermarket when she saw a newsagents window and looked at the postcards in the window. She made a note of a few flats that were reasonably priced, in case she did find a job and was just turning away when she almost bumped into the Scottish Detective she had met the day before, who according to Ellie was called Hardy and had something wrong with him. He held his arms out to stop her and caught hold of her as she caught her balance.

"Are you ok, Miss?" he asked as she straightened herself. She nodded, something she was getting good at around him. "Did you settle into your accommodation?"

"Yes, thanks, sorry about nearly knocking you over just now. I didn't notice you behind me." She remembered what Ellie had told her, she really should have been more careful, given his condition but she couldn't let on what she'd learned. "I was looking to see if there were any jobs, I've come down here to live, hopefully, I'm not just on holiday."

"Right, that explains a lot, looking for a job can be so distracting that you don't look behind you before you actually turn," he said sarcastically.

Rose tried to get past him but he was blocking her way. "So, listen, I'm really sorry, it's just I need to find a job in a hurry and I've been looking all day, not even had time for any lunch." A slight exaggeration but it was worth a try. It was gone three and she was hungry but would have to wait until at least seven thirty when she got to Ellie's and she was going to have to do this for some time. She didn't think she was going to be able to do it.

He looked at her and pointed to the café a few doors down and said, "Then let's go get you something to eat, my treat, you need a full stomach for job hunting."

He led the way to the café and they sat down and he looked at the menu. Rose just picked a jacket potato with cheese and salad or she wouldn't eat at Ellie's and he ordered a ham salad.

"So, since we've not been properly introduced and you probably didn't read my ID yesterday, I'm Alec Hardy, Detective Inspector."

Rose held her hand out and said, ''I'm Rose Tyler, nice to meet you.''

They finished their lunch and he insisted on paying, saying for her to call him Alec, although he said he really hated the name but hated being called Inspector even more when he was off duty. He asked Rose what type of job she was looking for and she said any, she just needed one.

"Well Rose, I'm just moving into a rented house, up in the town and I need someone to help get it ready then look after it, I can't do everything myself, I'm waiting for an operation. I've got furniture arriving and the decorators have just finished but it needs cleaning. Are you interested by any chance?"

Rose couldn't believe her luck, not only had he bought her lunch but was offering her a job, well at least a temporary one, if what Ellie had said was true and he might not need anyone once he got well but it was a start.

"I'm moving in next week but I won't have it ready if I do it on my own. It's two bedrooms and a bedroom sized attic with a dormer window, not technically classed as three bedrooms but I've had that decorated too, I was going to use it as a study but if you take the job, you can live in, do the cleaning, cooking and shopping and I'll pay you as well. What do you think? I am a Police Officer, you can trust me and I know now you're friends with Ellie Miller, she told me this morning. She said you felt bad having me wheel your case over to where you're staying when she told you there was something wrong with me. Don't be, I try to pretend there's nothing wrong with me, it helps if you forget."

Rose didn't quite know how to thank him, he didn't even know her but had taken Ellie's word that she was trustworthy enough to secure her employment with him and if she couldn't trust someone of his rank, then who could she trust? She only knew the Millers and she didn't want to put on Ellie too much. She had a roof over her head until Monday anyway and she would have the rest of the week to clean his house and get it ready, much better than walking the streets. So she said yes.

He said he'd get another key cut and she could start tomorrow, giving her the address. He went to the cash machine and gave her some money to buy cleaning materials and a vacuum cleaner plus a wage advance so she could buy her own lunch and said he'd meet her there around ten tomorrow to give her the key then come back at three to see how she was getting on. He walked her back to where she was staying and said he'd see her in the morning and they'd discuss their working relationship and payment. She rang her mother to say she'd got a job as a live-in housekeeper for a Detective Inspector who worked with Ellie and Jackie said she'd been lucky she'd landed on her feet and was expecting her back when she'd run out of money. Sometimes Rose wondered exactly what she'd done wrong for her mother to turn against her since losing her other job.

Rose treated herself to a taxi to Ellie's feeling much better now she had a job and she was sure they'd get on together despite Ellie saying her was a grump. She told Ellie what had happened and asked if she'd had anything to do with it. She admitted some involvement, just putting the two of them together, Rose needed a job and he needed someone to look after him, simple. Rose said she was really grateful for what she'd done.

The next morning, she was awake early, had some breakfast and went to the supermarket to get her cleaning things and a lightweight vacuum cleaner and got a taxi to the address Alec gave her. She had just a few minutes to wait until he arrived and let them in, handing her the new key he'd had cut. There was nowhere to sit so they sat on the window ledge that looked out onto the back garden. He suggested she went back out and got a kettle and some cups etc and something to drink and he'd be back later. Before he left, he told her what to expect as his housekeeper.

She promised if she was working for him that even though he said for her to call him Alec, she had to remember who was the boss, which she had no problem with. He'd ordered extra furniture for the attic room anyway and so it wasn't a problem but they'd have to work out other rules such as personal space. She would be allowed to have the freedom of the house even when he was in but he was going to use one of the bedrooms for his study and not to disturb him if the door was closed but until his operation, she had to knock every half hour to make sure he was ok but he'd only go in if he needed some privacy.

He left to go to work, he said he only did four hours a day until his operation because he couldn't sit still behind his desk for any longer. Rose went back out to the store and bought the rest of the items and got on with the cleaning when she got back. She did the living room and kitchen and was about to start on the bathroom when he came back so she made some tea and they sat on the window ledge again.

He asked her about where she came from and what had led her to Broadchurch and he laughed when she told him what had happened with the shop dummies because he'd heard about it but had never believed it but here was Rose, living proof that it had all been true. His admiration for her increased and he told her how he'd nearly died and that he was faced with having an operation or losing his job permanently and maybe losing his life in as little as a year or even less. Then his chances were pretty slim of surviving having the pacemaker fitted which was why he was going to have to go to Glasgow where a new technique had been tested which would give him a 60/40 chance of survival which was better than 50/50. Rose agreed that he had to at least try.

He said he had every intention of surviving now he'd got the house and it had given him something to live for, something substantial, rather than staying in the hotel he was in and he had planned to advertise for a housekeeper before he moved in but Ellie had made him see that Rose was more than deserving of the post. They discussed payment which included her full board and food and he said he'd draw up a contract for her to sign and his accountant would sort everything out.

Rose spent the next few days getting the house finished and had just done her room when she heard Alec come in and he shouted for her. He came upstairs and said he couldn't believe how much better it looked now it was clean. Everything was being delivered the next day, he'd brought it forward and asked her to go with him to get soft furnishings such as bedding so they got a taxi to the supermarket and got everything they needed, getting a few funny looks from some of the locals. They got some food on the way back and ate off the new plates they'd bought.

They agreed to meet at eight the next morning and soon the furniture arrived and directed to where it needed to be. Alec had employed a handyman team for the day to put up wardrobes and the beds and move things around if they got in the wrong rooms. Engineers arrived to install the phoneline and internet and the digital TV service and Rose was putting the bedding on as the beds were made up. Alec went back to his hotel for the night, he was moving everything out the next day and Rose was moving in Monday morning, getting all the food shopping and anything they'd missed after she'd brought her things from the B&B.

Sunday morning, Alec came back in a taxi with his belongings, Rose hung everything up for him in his wardrobe and tidied his room then she started vacuuming the carpets as Alec was watching the news on TV, when he asked her to stop a minute and come and sit down and asked how she was getting on. She said fine, she was actually enjoying herself keeping busy and didn't realise housework was a full time job. They both laughed and Rose said she should finish the cleaning and start getting lunch ready but Alec stopped her.

"You've been working hard these past few days, I couldn't have moved in without your help so, I'll treat us to Sunday lunch down at the pub by the harbour. We can walk down and get a taxi back."

"Are you sure you should be walking that far, I know it's all down hill but you should be resting. I can easily make us something."

"Rose, I'm fine, really. I need the exercise if I'm to have my operation in a few weeks time. I'm taking regular medication now, unlike I did before when I only took it when I needed it and it helps. Why don't you go get changed then we'll go out?"

Rose did as he asked and they set off at a slow pace, talking and Rose said she hoped she didn't seem too familiar with him and for him to put her in her place if she did. She said she wasn't used to working for anyone in a situation like theirs. He assured her he'd tell her to back off if he felt uncomfortable with anything and told her she had to do the same if she thought he had made her feel uneasy. After lunch, he told her she might as well go collect her things from the B&B while they were nearby, she was leaving in the morning anyway and he'd come and help her and they'd get a taxi back.

She let herself into her room, Alec staying in the doorway when he got a funny look from the owners because he'd been recognised and assured them that she wasn't in any trouble, he was helping her as a friend, not wanting to say too much, then they got a taxi back and he told her to take the rest of the day off and sort her room out and have some time for herself. She agreed but only if he allowed her to make him a snack later on and could she watch a programme on TV she liked to which he agreed and said she should buy herself a TV and she could get a link to the TV service for it and he asked if she had a laptop. She said yes so he gave her the code for the internet access.

She got up early the next morning, Alec said he got picked up at ten thirty by a police driver and had said he'd have his breakfast at nine on the dot so she had everything just about ready when he came down. She'd popped out to get him a newspaper and he told her it wasn't necessary but it had been welcomed just the once. By the time Alec came back just after three, she'd got the kitchen properly organised and was preparing a casserole dinner that would take a few hours. Something they hadn't discussed was their eating arrangements. Rose wanted to eat in the kitchen and leave Alec to eat in the lounge but he insisted they ate together. He said he was tired of eating alone at the hotel and welcomed her company.

Over the next few nights as they ate dinner, they relaxed a bit more around each other and Rose told him all about her upbringing on the Powell Estate in London and he told her about Glasgow and how he'd got to be a senior officer and how in the end his problems with his heart had started. Rose felt sorry for him that he'd had no-one to look after him. On the Friday night, Alec told her to come and have a drink with him, he was allowed one glass of wine a night and he'd not had any all week. So they sat talking and he said he needed a serious talk with her.

He was going for his operation a week on Monday and was travelling by train up to Glasgow next Sunday. He said he'd paid for the house for three months in advance and given instructions to his solicitors to keep Rose employed looking after the house for that time in the event he didn't survive the operation. Rose looked shocked at such a suggestion, that he wouldn't make it was unthinkable. He said that they had instructions to take care of everything and gave her their card and she was to contact them right away if he died in the operating theatre or while in hospital and they'd do the rest. He said he thought he'd got everything covered.

Rose had tears in her eyes at this point. She knew he was ill but never thought he'd be talking this way to her. They'd only known each other a short time but they had become friends as well as employer and employee.

"What are your chances Alec?" she asked. "Ellie said it was 60/40 so that's good and you have a house to come back to and.." She trailed off, wondering whether she dared count herself as a friend. "You have friends, Ellie and me," she finished as she drank the rest of her wine.

Alec moved over onto the sofa where she was sitting and took her empty glass from her and took her hand. "Thanks," he said, kissing the back of it. "I'm off to bed now, stay and watch TV if you want. After breakfast tomorrow, you can have the day off until dinner."

He'd got up and said goodnight when she spoke up. "Do you have anyone in Glasgow to be at the hospital with you?"

He turned around. "No, I don't need anyone anyway. I'll either survive or not. If I survive I'll have to spend a few days in hospital and a few days in a hotel until I can travel, if not, you know what to do. I'm only taking what I need and my things will be collected from the hospital. I'm only booking one night at a nearby hotel, I'll find something if I make it through. I'll give the hospital your name and phone number to contact you one way or the other."

He was making it cold and impersonal and Rose didn't like it. He'd been good to her, taken her in and befriended her and he was talking like he didn't mean to come back and like he wasn't bothered whether he did or not. She couldn't just let him die, couldn't let him be on his own with no-one to care about him. She was supposed to be looking after him so she put their working relationship to the test, thinking he'd either agree or terminate her employment on the spot, either way if he didn't make it, she'd be out of a job in less than three months.

"Let me come with you."

"I told you, I don't need anyone."

"Yes you do, you need someone at the hospital with you and you employed me to look after you and you never said it was restricted to this house so take me with you. I can keep your hotel room for you and look after your stuff while you're in hospital and come and visit you every day and take care of you on the journey home because you are coming back," she said tearfully.

He looked at her and saw the tears and the determination on her face as she said it like it was an order and he realised she really cared about him, she was actually willing to take her duties as his housekeeper to such a length. If someone he had met and taken in not two weeks ago could care about him, he had to care about himself.

"You might be coming back on your own you know."

"No I won't, you're coming back with me," she replied.

"OK, you can come but don't say I didn't warn you."

Rose took the day off after breakfast the next morning. Alec was quiet, like he was a bit annoyed with her that she'd taken her duties a bit too seriously so Rose said she was going down to Dorchester on the train for the day and asked if he wanted anything bringing back and to call her if he could think of anything.

She walked around the shops and had some lunch, enjoying the fact she actually had some money to spend. While she was in the café, she was thinking about Alec, how good he'd been to her since her arrival and that he didn't deserve to have been dealt such a cruel fate. She couldn't have let him be on his own, her dad had died on his own after being knocked down by a car when she was only six month's old and she'd never known him, her mother had told her he died on his own. Alec had been the kindest person to her in a long while and she wouldn't let him die on his own if it had to be that way. Maybe if she was with him, he'd have a reason to fight to survive.

While she was out, Ellie called her to see how she was getting on. She told her she was great, the job was interesting and that not to tell Alec she'd told her that she was going with him. Ellie asked her why she was doing it and Rose reminded her of her dad and she said she could understand now. Ellie invited her for Sunday lunch and Rose said today was her day off and she'd be cooking for Alec but Ellie said they could both come and she'd ring him about it. Rose said fine if he wanted to go.

Rose got back just before four and Alec said Ellie had rung him and invited both of them to lunch if Rose wanted to go. They didn't talk much over dinner but Alec said he'd booked two open return tickets from Broadchurch to Glasgow Central changing at Exeter, saying it was just as cheap to book returns as it was one return and one single anyway, for next Sunday leaving at nine in the morning. He said it would take most of the day to travel and he'd booked two rooms in a hotel near the hospital for the Sunday night, keeping one room for another five nights if needed and they would be all paid for however many nights she stayed if he wasn't coming back with her.

Rose couldn't believe how well organised he was, he'd thought of everything but if the worst happened, she resolved that she would stay and attend his funeral, she could at least do that for him even if she had to pay extra herself to stay, she wouldn't let him be on his own with no-one attending.

He told her he had an ex-wife who had remarried and his solicitor would inform her if the worst happened, Rose wouldn't have to contact her or anything and not to worry if she turned up at the hospital, Rose was to tell her she was his housekeeper and tell her to contact his solicitor if she didn't believe it. He didn't want it to cause Rose any problems.

They watched some TV after dinner and he noticed Rose wasn't her usual cheerful self and thought he must have depressed her with all this talk of his impending demise so he said they'd go to lunch at Ellie's the next day and if she wanted, they'd go for a walk on the beach down the coastal path from her house and go have a drink at the harbour pub, trying to cheer her up. Rose agreed and said if he didn't need anything else, she'd go to her room and said goodnight. She got upstairs and sat on her bed and found herself crying. She didn't know now if she could actually go through all this with him, he was her employer but he had become her friend and she had to face the fact that he may not be coming back from Glasgow with her. She told herself she had to, she couldn't let him do this alone after everything he'd done for her.

They went to lunch at Ellie's the next day, telling her nothing about his plans for if something went wrong and while Rose was helping Ellie clear the dishes she asked her if he'd said anything else about his operation. Rose said no but he'd provided for her if he wasn't coming back and his solicitor was taking care of everything. Ellie took her out into the garden as she could see Rose was getting upset and didn't want Alec to see them.

"He's starting to grow on you, isn't he?" Ellie asked. Rose nodded. "You shouldn't let him get to you like that. I didn't like him at first but we've sort of become friends and I now hate the thought of him not surviving but if he doesn't, I'll miss him too. He told me that if he doesn't have the operation, he's finished in the police, he'd be put on forced retirement and he'd go nuts, it's what he lives for, being a DI. His doctor gave him six months, perhaps a bit more but his condition will worsen and he'll have to go into hospital. He told me he has no-one, his ex-wife remarried. If you go with him Rose, at least he'll have someone with him if he doesn't make it and not be on his own, I wouldn't wish that on him."

They went back inside, trying not to make it obvious they'd had such a serious talk and Rose and Alec left, thanking Ellie for the lunch. Ellie took Alec to one side and said she'd better be seeing him again for more Sunday lunches. He was taking the week off before they went to Glasgow and Ellie wasn't sure she was going to see him again. She told him to go before he set her off and called Rose over telling her she'd better bring him back with her. Rose said she was and that he'd have her to answer to if he didn't. Alec just told Ellie not to get too comfortable in his office, he wanted it back. Rose smiled, thinking he was now sounding more positive about it and he'd survive just to stop Ellie getting his job.

They walked slowly down the coastal path towards the harbour, it wasn't far but they stopped at a bench as Alec said he wanted to talk to her. He asked her what she'd been talking to Ellie about. Rose brushed it off, not wanting him to know they'd been getting all soppy about him. He didn't believe her when she said it was nothing and said he wanted to know if had been about him.

"We're both just worried about you," she said. "We both want you to come back. If you don't want Ellie getting your job, you have to come back and take it from her. If anything, that should make you determined to get through it, just to spite her."

He smiled, something he'd not done much of except when they'd gone out to lunch the previous Sunday and they'd laughed at something but not really smile, not for no reason in particular. They got up and Alec took her hand asking if it was ok if they walked like that down to the pub. He said it was to reassure her that he was going to do his best to come back and stop Ellie getting that promotion. They both smiled.

Over the next week, Rose was taking extra special care of Alec, he'd been told by his doctor he needed 100% rest which included no work, no alcohol, no physical assertion, a daily walk of no more than an hour at most and that would increase his chances by at least 10%. So from Monday, she was taking him breakfast in bed and he'd get up late and watch some TV then when Rose had finished the housework, they'd get a taxi down to the harbour and go for a walk and they'd both sit outside the pub drinking lemonade or something similar and get a taxi home.

Rose put him on a healthy diet and so he wouldn't get jealous, she ate whatever he was having. If she stayed up watching TV, she had his permission to check on him before she went to bed, he would leave his door open so she'd hear him if he called out or if he got out of bed and collapsed. She was taking no chances, she wanted him to be ok for the long journey up to Glasgow.

On the Saturday, Rose checked all their packing was done, they had their train tickets and he had his admission letter and where he was going in the hospital. He was being admitted on the Monday morning and his operation was first thing Tuesday. Rose planned on staying with him right up to him being taken to the operating theatre and was going to wait there until it was over, no matter what happened. She knew he'd want her to go once he got settled in but she was going to defy him.

They had to leave early on the Sunday morning so a taxi had been ordered and their bags were in the kitchen ready to go. She made a light breakfast at seven, cleared the fridge of anything that would spoil while they were away and checked all the doors and windows. Ellie said she'd stop by every day and check on the place and would phone Rose on the Tuesday to see how he was doing if she didn't ring her first.

They got on the train to Exeter and would have a forty minute wait for the Glasgow train, allowing for any possible delays. When they arrived at Exeter, they found the platform and Rose checked their train was on time and went to get some hot drinks. The train was on time and they got their seats, which Alec had reserved in the quiet compartment to avoid any noise of crying babies or screaming kids or 'big kids and loudmouths' he'd said and they settled for the long journey. They talked occasionally in a low voice, had a few hot drinks and Alec closed his eyes for a while but Rose didn't dare even though the journey was tiring, she fought to stay awake. She had made it her job to get him to the hospital and bring him home and that was what she intended to do.

They had about another hour before they got to Glasgow, Alec had moved and was leaning on her arm, she didn't mind. He opened his eyes and noticed and took her hand and squeezed it and smiled at her. He sat up straight but kept hold of her hand and Rose just squeezed his back, telling him it was going to be ok. After they got off the train, they got a taxi to the hotel and checked in and said they'd meet for dinner but Alec still had to be careful what he ate. They talked while eating and Alec said he needed to talk to her before she went to her room so she went to his and he sat her down on one of the chairs and sat across from her.

"Rose, please don't come to the hospital with me tomorrow."