“There is absolutely no need for thunder to be that loud,” Rose grumbled as she crouched down, fretfully rubbing at the wine she’d spilled when she’d jumped.
Despite her efforts, the stain refused to budge, and the offending sound of nature continued to taunt her. The weather was relentless. Rose had experienced thunderstorms while she’d lived in London, but she had never endured a storm of this scale since moving to Broadchurch.
Alec Hardy, Rose’s husband of three months, held out his hand to help her stand. “You say that every time there’s a storm. It’s a consequence of living on the water.”
Rose harrumphed as she made her way to the living room window. After their honeymoon, she’d moved into Alec’s house, a gorgeous two-story cottage. She pulled back the curtain to look tentatively out over the backyard that ended with a wooden deck extending over the water. On a normal day, the sight would have filled her with a sense of peace and contentment. Tonight, the sky was swirling with black clouds and gusts of wind blew the rain in every direction. White caps dotted the heaving surface of the water, and Rose shivered at the ominous sight.
Strong hands cupped her shoulders. “We’re safe, lass. I know it sounds like the wind will blow the roof off, but I assure you, we’re safe. We would be hunkered down if there were any chance you or Daisy could be hurt. We definitely wouldn’t be standin’ in front of a window.”
Covering his hands with her own, Rose leaned back against Alec’s lean frame. “I know, love. I just can’t help how nervous I get with these storms. Have you heard from Daisy?”
Alec placed a kiss on the side of her neck. “Aye, she’s havin’ a ball at the antique festival with mum and Granny.”
She smiled. “I never thought I’d see a teenager so excited to go antique huntin’.”
“Mum got her into it. However, I’m not sure I like why she went. She’s lookin’ for a certain book for Bill’s birthday.”
Rose chuckled. “It’s Will, you wanker.”
She knew Alec was trying to distract her; he always did when the storms were particularly fierce. He would hold her and talk about the littlest things that he’d normally avoid. Or he’d become all sex-god and shag her brains out.
She didn’t mind either tactic.
“Aye, wee Willy! But his name doesnae matter.” His voice was petulant. “He’s still the little shite I caught snoggin’ our daughter on the porch.”
Rose couldn’t help but chuckle as she replayed that fateful event over in her mind.
Alec had walked over to see what Rose was peeking at through the window. “What’s got you so interested, lass?”
“Daisy’s back. Her and Will are talkin’.”
He had pulled the curtain back and almost choked on his own tongue at the sight that had greeted him. “Tha’ is no’ talkin’!” He had barged to the front door and yanked it open, becoming incensed when he’d gone unnoticed by the otherwise occupied teens. “Hands where I can see them!”
Rose’s chuckle became a full belly laugh as she recalled how the two teens had sprung apart when they’d finally noticed him. “I think poor Will made a puddle when you scared them!”
Alec tried to keep the grin off his face, but he couldn’t help but enjoy the moment with his wife. He laughed. “Aye. The look on his face was well worth Flower not talkin’ to me at breakfast the next day.”
An explosion and a flash of light interrupted their laughter. Darkness and silence enveloped them as the lights and hum of a running household were cut off. The wind had never seemed louder.
“What happened?” Rose whispered as she clutched onto Alec’s arms.
“We’re alright, love.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “That was just the sound of a transformer gettin’ knocked down.”
“An’ that’s why the power’s out?”
“Aye. Unfortunately, it’s not just a simple power outage. It’s gonna take a wee bit of time to fix.”
Rose released a shuddering sigh and backed up from the window, turning to burrow against Alec’s chest. Now that it was dark and quiet in the house, the storm seemed so much more powerful.
“I’m gonna grab my radio. Make sure it’s called in.” He took her hand. “C’mon, lass. Let me help you over to the couch.” Alec knew his wife was properly scared when she didn’t protest his help. His lass was an independent one. He maneuvered them around the living room furniture fairly quickly. “Alright, darlin’, wait here.”
He listened as she shuffled around on the couch and, in his mind’s eye, he could see her pulling the tartan blanket around her shoulders.
Rose gave a weak chuckle. “You’d think this wouldn’t bother someone who spent so much of their childhood in the dark.”
Alec’s heart broke a little at the thought of how financially rough Rose’s upbringing had been. The night Rose and Daisy had met for the first time, he recalled the story Rose had told his daughter. Whenever her parents hadn’t been able to afford the electricity bill and the power had been cut off, her dad would get torches and they would explore the flat, pretending they were on alien planets.
In the next flash of lightning, Alec fumbled his way to the kitchen. The windows rattled with the clap of thunder that followed, as he rooted around in the kitchen’s miscellaneous drawer for a torch. After locating the blasted light, he found his radio and made the necessary call to dispatch.
As he turned back towards the living room, the light beam reflected off a colander. An idea began to form…
Rose had listened as Alec had called in the power outage, but now there was only silence and the sound of rain lashing against the windows. She tucked her legs up under the blanket, feeling irrationally alone.
She yelped at the sound of metal hitting the ceramic tiles and shot off the couch ready to run even if she couldn’t see shit. “Alec?”
Her husband mumbled a curse and the flashlight cut off. “I’m alright. Just dropped somethin’.”
She stifled a giggle. “Do you need any help?”
“No. Don’t look!”
“I couldn’t even see you if I tried!” She listened as he blundered around. It sounded like he was collecting an assortment of items. “How are you moving around without the torch?”
Over the sound of the rain, she heard Alec dragging something across the floor.
“I’m a trained professional of the law.” The table in the hallway on the way to the stairs rattled ominously. “Fuck!”
There was no holding her laughter back this time. “Are you alright, love?”
“Yeah,” he grumbled. “I didn’t need that bloody toe anyway.”
“Some trained professional, you are.”
“Shut your geggy, Rose Ty… Hardy.”
She listened as he made even more noise that stopped at the foot of the stairs. The wind masked the sounds of his steps causing Rose to properly scream when he came up behind her and laid a hand on her shoulder.
“Jesus, Alec!” She shouted over his exclamation of, “Sorry!”
She relaxed into his hold, willing her heart rate to slow. He ran his hand up and down her back. “I’m sorry, lass. I didnae mean to frighten you.”
Sighing, she spoke into his chest. “I know. I’m sorry. I hate being such a ‘fraidy cat.”
He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “There’s nothin’ to apologize for. I came over to give you this.” He pressed the torch into her hand. “I need to do somethin’ upstairs. I’ll be fine without the light. You just sit tight and I’ll be right back.”
“Okay,” she whispered, tilting her head up for a kiss. His lips were warm as they brushed hers but, before she could deepen the kiss, he pulled away and disappeared up the stairs, into the darkness.
Snuggling back down on the couch, Rose thought about the last three months. She absolutely loved being married to Alec Hardy. He was such a sweet husband, willing to give her anything her heart desired. He could still be his cranky self, but she loved that about him. They’d had a major row in the first few weeks after returning from their honeymoon, but they had worked through it and had been living in wedded bliss ever since.
“Rose! Come up here. I need your help!” Alec didn’t sound like he was in distress, but she still hopped up quickly wanting to see what he needed.
Her hands shook slightly as she turned on the torch and cautiously made her way up the stairs. Once she was at the top, she paused. Lightning flashed followed by thunder. “Alec? Where are you?”
He didn’t answer and she began to worry. Maybe something waswrong. Daisy’s bedroom door was shut so she ignored it in favor of the nearest guest room. The rain hammered the ceramic tile roof harder as she pushed the door the rest of the way open. Stepping in, she swept the torch light around the room. A rattling sounded from behind her and she spun to face the noise.
Her grip on the torch tightened as a tall figure with a domed head loomed over her. Her brain was whirling, trying to make sense of what she was seeing. “Alec? Is that you? What are you do-ahhh-Alec!”
A sudden flash of lightning illuminated the strange figure in a ghastly light, and Rose stumbled back as it lurched toward her.
“No, please! Help!” she screamed. “Alec, help!” She raised the flashlight like a police baton, ready to strike, but before she could land a blow, Alec appeared from behind the strange intruder, his face cast in weird shadows in the indirect torchlight.
“Never fear, fair Rose!” he announced with unexpected theatrical flair. “I’ll save you from the… the… erm… What did you say? D’Alecs? Is that really what you used to call them?”
“What?” Taking a deep, calming breath, Rose scrambled to collect her thoughts. She shone her light on Alec. He wore the most adorable grin, like he had a secret and he was just waiting for her to catch on.
She turned her attention and the light to the figure. At first glance, it had appeared to be some type of disfigured being, but upon closer inspection, she discovered it had been cobbled together with one of the tall bar stools from the kitchen island which had a colander perched on the back , and a whisk and a plunger sticking out from the rungs.
As her heartrate returned to normal, she looked up at Alec, bemused. What was wrong with her husband? Had he hit his head? “You alright there, mate? What the hell is all this?”
He shrugged. “I’m no’ sure. I’ve never seen any alien like it.”
Brows furrowed, Rose worked to understand what was going on. Why was Alec talking about aliens and saving her from them…?
Then the penny dropped.
If Rose hadn’t already been one thousand percent in love with Alec Hardy, she was very much so now.
Her voice shook with unshed tears. “You remembered.”
He cupped her cheek. “Aye, that I did, lass. Shall we explore the rest of this planet?”
Tears spilled over her cheeks as she grabbed his hand.