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You can't fool me

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Rose had finally had enough of men and her friend Shareen almost felt the same so they sat down together and came up with a plan. They pooled their resources, quit their jobs and looked for somewhere to move to, far away from London where no-one knew them.

Rose had a idea where to go.

"Not there Rose," Shareen complained when Rose mentioned the word 'Broadchurch' to her.

"Why not? All the fuss will have died down, trust me," Rose tried to convince her.

So two weeks later, they arrived in the seaside town, just before the season started and had both successfully gained employment though Rose had only managed to get a job at the supermarket but she was on the lookout for something else. They had been there two months when Rose heard a noise next door when it was her day off and she had seen a man go in, dragging some luggage behind him and supposed it was their new neighbour – not that she was interested in men.

They'd been out a few times, sat in a corner arm in arm and the locals so far had given them a wide berth, which was what they both wanted. All was going well until Shareen started getting the urge to seek male company and it had caused a row, resulting in Shareen going off with a sailor and leaving Rose to stagger back home around the corner.

As she stood outside her next-door's neighbours cottage on the short row just behind the pub, she was frantically trying to find her key. The light was still on so she risked knocking on the door to seek some assistance, since she'd no idea where Shareen had gone and she'd have to spin a tale to the neighbour.

She heard the door opening and the chain being put on, since it was after ten thirty by now.

"Who is it?" a Scottish male voice asked.

"Hi, it's Rose, from next door. I can't find my key, I could use some help."

She heard him taking the chain off and the door opened. Rose hadn't really seen much of their new neighbour, she assumed he was at work all day and had no desire to make any friends but she recognised him.

"Come in then," he invited her after looking her up and down and seeing she was on her own.

Alec Hardy had decided to come back after failing to get his daughter interested in starting over with him by moving back with him. He'd left it in the 'I'll think about it' stage and after finding Broadchurch had a new CS, had put in for a transfer back.

Rose blinked as she stepped into the brightly lit room after peering in her handbag for ten minutes, using the light from her phone.

"Thanks. Sorry, I know the key's in here somewhere," Rose apologised, Alec gesturing for her to pour the contents out onto the coffee table.

Rose flopped down on his sofa and took the hint. Five minutes or so later, she found the elusive item stuck in the lining, which was why she'd been unable to locate it earlier. She held it up, grinning at him.

"I'm glad you found it. I'm Alec Hardy by the way and you are too trusting knocking on your neighbour's door late at night."

"I didn't have a lot of choice," Rose defended herself.

"What about your friend?" Alec asked, standing with one hand on his hip and the other fingering his beard, since he'd shaved it off a bit after Daisy said he was a grizzly bear.

"My girlfriend," Rose corrected him, not that she was sure they could pull it off since they'd never really tried.

"Whatever. Could you have not called her or knocked on the door?" he asked.

"Geez, if I'd woken her up, trust me, I'd have known about it. We had a bit of a tiff, she left the pub before me so I assume she's in a mood with me. Just 'cos I was talking with some friends from work."

Rose hoped it was going to work. It seemed to do as she threw everything back in the bag and zipped it closed.

"Thanks Alec," she grinned at him.

"Well as long as you found it then? You may be best putting it on a bigger keyring so you don't misplace it again," he suggested.

Rose did a mock salute.

"Yeah, thanks. I know who ya are, I knew I could trust you. I'd best be off then?"

"I will wait at the door until you get inside," Alec insisted. "You said girlfriend?"

"Yeah, me and Shareen, we're, ya know, together. I think she got a bit jealous because I work with mainly women."

"I see then? She may not stay mad at you?" he asked.

Rose didn't really think that was the problem. This was the first time either of them had mentioned it.

"Night then?" Rose turned as she unlocked the door, Alec stood in his doorway.

He nodded and went back inside. He thought it was a shame she had a girlfriend but had she just been saying that for his benefit?

The next day, being a Sunday, Shareen must have dragged herself in at some point after Rose herself had got home and was making breakfast when Rose got downstairs.

"I met our neighbour last night," Rose told her as she buttered her toast. "I couldn't find my key."

Shareen let out a laugh. "I hope you stuck to our story?"

"Yeah, I made it sound like ya easily get jealous," Rose grinned. "So are we going out today then?"

Next door, Alec had got up at his normal time and couldn't help thinking about the neighbour who'd knocked on his door last night but it seemed she was probably spoken for. He decided he'd probably have a drive down to Weymouth or somewhere, just to look around and locate some different shops, now he had an actual wardrobe in his bedroom. He was about to set off just as Shareen was waiting outside for Rose.

"Morning," Shareen called cheerfully as Alec stepped out.

"Yes," was all Alec could think of, since Miller had told him he wasn't a morning person.

It was just his luck Rose chose that moment to step outside.

"Oh hi Alec," she called out.

"Are you two going off somewhere?" he asked, thinking that was a bit of a stupid question.

"We're off for the bus, if it turns up," Rose replied, locking the door.

"I'm going down to Weymouth, if that's where you are going? Maybe I can give you both a ride there?"

Rose and Shareen looked at each other, Rose grabbing her friend's arm.

"Hey thanks, that'll save us messing around, if it's no trouble?" she asked.

"It's no trouble, it will take twice as long by bus," Alec told them.

He unlocked his car and Shareen went to get in the back seat, Rose spying the driver's seat was well back and there was no way she was going to be cramped all the way there. She got in beside Alec, getting a scowl from Shareen. Once at their destination, Alec suggested they met back up in two hours or so and go somewhere for lunch. Shareen didn't seem all that keen but as they walked around, Rose said they may as well.

"Don't you go getting friendly with him, remember why we're here," Shareen reminded her as they watched him walk off.

"It's only a ride ya know?" Rose objected, knowing Shareen was annoyed she'd sat in the front but it wasn't her fault that Alec Hardy was tall.

They met up for lunch and once back home, Rose decided to thank him. As Shareen was opening the door, Rose stopped.

"Thanks again Alec. I'm off on Wednesday, can I invite you round for a meal, to say thanks?"

Alec looked around to see Shareen had disappeared.

"Won't your girlfriend get jealous?" he asked, not being one for accepting dinner invitations after what happened at the Miller house.

"Nah, it's just a thank you, for helping me last night and for today. Come round at seven then?" Rose asked, seeing he was having trouble making his mind up.

"Then I accept, I will bring a bottle shall I?" he asked, seeing he wasn't going to get out of it.

Having agreed, he went inside, seeing Rose walk past the window. Something wasn't adding up with those two, or was he out of practice seeing if he could spot them? If they were genuine, he'd soon find out when he went round on Wednesday night.

"You did what?" Shareen asked her when Rose told her she'd invited him round.

"Well we've met him now, he helped me last night and gave us a ride today," Rose defended her decision.

"Well you can entertain him but what if he finds out?" Shareen asked her.

"Then when he comes round, we'll just have to put a show on for him, won't we?" Rose smiled.

"We've not exactly told anyone else," Shareen reminded her. "Maybe we should just forget it and just be selective who we go out with?"

"You changed your tune," Rose remarked.

"Well it was your idea, you and Mickey arguing all the time," Shareen replied.

"Don't remind me. I'd just had enough of men, that's all," Rose told her.

"Well think about it then, it's mostly holidaymakers around here anyway, we should be okay."

Rose was going to add or next-door neighbours who were detectives but decided against it.

Since Rose never knew which department she was going to be working in from day to day, she decided she'd get the bus a bit later on her day off and find something easy to cook to impress their neighbour but Alec had seen her the day before when he'd been in but hadn't been sure if he should talk to her or not.

He was getting ready to leave on Wednesday evening when Ellie pulled him up.

"What's with you, leaving early, got more shopping to do?" she grinned at him, making the others smile.

"No, I went shopping last night, can't I leave early without all the questions?" he replied.

"Suit yourself then," Ellie laughed. She waited for him to leave then turned to Katie. "Bet it's something to do with his new neighbours."

"What makes you think that?" Katie asked her.

"He said there were two women living next door, work it out," Ellie replied.

"Seriously? Why is he so grumpy anyway?" Katie dared ask.

"Look Katie, it took a lot of guts to come back here, can you imagine if you go home and it's not your home any more?"

"Doesn't mean he has to take it out on everyone though," Katie replied.

"He doesn't, you seem to bring out the best in him," Ellie answered her.

Rose was fussing over the meal as Shareen got back.

"Have you made enough for all of us or do I need to cook my own?" she asked Rose, not sure what was intended.

"There's enough for all of us," Rose assured her. "It's only to say thanks. I'm sure I saw him in the store as I was leaving last night."

"Shame he never saw ya, he would have given you a ride home," Shareen joked.

Rose knew her friend was getting a little jealous and at this rate, Shareen would give the game away before she did. She just had time to go get changed, leaving Shareen to stir the contents of the pan and let Alec in.

"Well come in then," Shareen told him as he held the bottle out to her. "Rose is getting changed, not that we normally dress up to eat."

"Neither do I," Alec replied.

He had just sat at the table as Rose came downstairs and he couldn't help but stare at her. Now he had to find out if she was being serious about her friend and herself. All seemed to be going well, Rose leaving the dishes to soak but noticed Shareen hadn't come back down after excusing herself.

"Seems your friend has deserted you?" Alec observed as he poured some more wine and thinking he should leave his car behind in the morning.

"She's not big on company when eating," Rose smiled, taking a sip. "So what made you come back or have ya just moved addresses?"

"I went off for a while, to let the town settle down. I had nowhere else to go when things never turned out how I wanted them to."

"Sorry, I wasn't being nosy, I know what happened here," Rose replied.

"It was hard to miss. What brought you two here?" he asked, hoping she'd be honest with him.

"To get away and the fact no-one believed us that we'd had enough of men. It made us realise we didn't need them."

Alec thought they must have both had bad experiences to drive them together. He could see she didn't want to talk about it though.

"So are you off men for good?" he asked, thinking it was a fair question.

"I don't know, it's only been a few months. We just felt more comfortable with each other," Rose replied.

"Are you going to ask your friend if she's joining us?" Alec wanted to know, since he'd not really seen how they reacted about each other.

"I'll leave her, she must have had a bad day at work, she works at telesales, she won't have got her target for the day," Rose told him.

"I saw you in the supermarket yesterday, when I was shopping," he admitted.

"Yeah, I thought it was you when I was getting ready to leave," Rose admitted.

Alec knew he was no good at this 'small talk', being at the Miller house should have taught him that.

"Rose, would you like to come back to my place with me, so we don't disturb your friend?" he dared ask.

"As neighbours?" Rose teased him.

"Yes, as neighbours. I will be on my best behaviour," he promised. "Bring some music with you."

Once Alec was back in his own cottage, Rose began to relax around him more.

"What is it with you and your friend eh?" he asked as they danced.

"I already told ya Alec."

"Then why don't I believe you? You seem to forget that I'm a detective. Did you both have bad experiences?"

"You could say that. It was mutual, what we decided," she told him.

"Somehow, neither of you seem like you were treated right, that's why you moved away but I won't tell anyone Rose, if you are both putting on an act to scare men away."

Rose knew they'd been discovered, they'd only done it to get out of London, it wasn't like it was for real but could she give in that easily?

Alec stopped, Rose holding onto him.

"So, are you putting on an act?"

"It can't be that good then if you've found us out?" Rose asked him.

"So what really happened the other night?" he wanted to know.

"She went off with someone, I went home but I really did lose my key," Rose had to admit.

"How long did you both think you would get away with it?"

"As long as possible," Rose smiled. "How did we know we'd end up living next door to a police detective?"

"Well you did and if the two of you are really not together, then I would like to ask you out, maybe Saturday night?"

"I don't know Alec?" Rose replied.

"Well what made you come back with me then?" he asked, trying to work her out.

"So we wouldn't disturb Shareen. I'm not sure I'm ready to be seen out with a bloke."

Alec let go. Maybe he'd got his wires crossed?

"Then think about it Rose, you can't hide forever. Don't you get asked out when you go out with your friend?"

"No, we keep to ourselves, well apart from the other night, Shareen was showing off. Can I think about it?"

He went to turn the music off, thinking she'd want to leave.

"I'll see you home then?" he asked, trying to hide his disappointment but what did he expect? "Call round if you change your mind."

As Rose got inside, Shareen was waiting.

"So?" Shareen asked. "Come on Rose, he fancies you, don't play coy with me."

"It's too much, we came here to get away from blokes," Rose replied.

"Yes, the blokes on the estate because they were the only blokes we knew. I think a police detective's a bit different," Shareen told her. "You'd be mad not to at least let him take you out, we haven't exactly advertised the fact we're pretending to be together."

That was the problem, their escape from the estate they'd grown up on when they had got to the stage where they never met any decent blokes who treated them properly. Shareen continued.

"Rose, give him a chance."

Rose knew she wasn't going to win this one.

"Fine, I'll tell him tomorrow, I'll call on my way home, okay?"

"Good, now let's finish this wine and go to bed?" Shareen suggested.

Alec was sat, wondering how he'd got the signals mixed up. From thinking his two neighbours were 'together' then realising it was a game they were both playing, he'd thought Rose was giving in to him and she'd at least let him take her out. Maybe being seen out with him was a bit much? Maybe he'd be best just inviting her around and he'd make something?

He made his mind up to call at the store tomorrow to see if he could offer a her ride home and ask if she'd at least dine at home with him.

Rose tried to forget about it, going to work the next day, hating the fact of getting a bus for a couple of stops but crossing the main road was a bit much at that time in the morning. Alec was in the car park just before six, hoping to catch her. He saw her talking to someone and getting out, leaned against the door.

"Hello Rose," he called as Rose came towards him.

"Hi, been shopping?" Rose asked, as if he'd come up here just to see her.

"Actually no, I came to ask if I could cook something for you, instead of going out on Saturday night?"

"Oh. Well maybe then?" Rose replied, hoping he was going home or she'd miss the bus and end up walking anyway.

"I get the part you may not want to be seen out with me, if you are trying to establish you're not interested in men," he told her.

"It's not that, the last few blokes, well it ended badly, that's all. I don't have something against all men."

"Just those who ask you out?" Alec smiled. "May I offer you a ride home?"

Ellie had wondered why he'd left early again, it wasn't like him and she was determined to find out why he suddenly thought he should keep to office hours.