"Rose, I think it would be a good idea to take a trip to the seaside, that little town that's been in all the news where that poor boy was murdered," Rose's editor of the gritty 'Libra' magazine, Miss Stevens said, looking over her laptop as Rose sat trying to look interested.
Rose had only just returned from holiday after a rather annoying assignment of following some Scottish bloke around who was kicking up a fuss with older actors about bringing his screaming fans to the serious theatre and lowering the tone. Not to mention the fact he'd repeatedly tried to chat her up and wouldn't take no for an answer when she really didn't fancy him and she was glad to get away after snogging him a few times to keep him quiet.
"Oh come on Rose, this is the perfect assignment for you. A male Detective Inspector, heart condition, nearly died on the case plus, his case before that was thrown out because evidence was lost and now he's taking all the glory for solving that poor boy's murder when it was someone close to home who actually committed it. It's right up your street. To make things better, you get a couple of weeks by the sea, all expenses paid. Get Lisa to fix a place for you to stay and get yourself down there. Any questions?"
"Yeah, just one, if the detective in question is Scottish, can I quit now?"
Miss Stevens laughed. "I'll warn you now Rose, he is Scottish, his name is Alec Hardy and he's nothing like your last assignment. He's shall we say more complex. He won't speak to the press and only gave one interview to the town paper after their reporter dug some dirt up on him. You'll have your work cut out for you, just how you like it."
Rose smiled, she liked a challenge so long as the assignment wasn't inviting her to his hotel room every night. ''Ok, I'm in, when do I leave?"
"Soon as you get things arranged. The trial starts soon so you'll catch the detective in an anxious mood wanting to get it over and done with, he won't be in a very good mood and it will make a good story. You could call it the anger after the storm, get the low-down on him and see what makes him tick, the usual stuff."
Rose smiled to herself, just her kind of assignment then, all mean and moody and definitely not wanting a reporter following him around everywhere, unlike the last one who insisted she attended his theatre performances and offered to let her into his dressing room afterwards. She had just about got over that.
With that, she went off to get the arrangements sorted and phoned her mother to tell her she was going away again. She was hardly home these days, travelling around all over the place, sometimes having to follow her assignment around if they were touring or working away. She didn't just cover actors and other personalities, sometimes she followed self made celebrities who had actually got an audition on a TV reality show and been thrown out and they'd made a fuss and got more famous for going to the papers with their sob story of how they were cheated of their potential fame. Still, that was life and her job and she loved it, especially if she annoyed someone along the way and she couldn't annoy the last one as much as she tried, it just made him go after her more.
Right then, this new assignment was going to get the works, detective inspector or not, this Alec Hardy was going to get very annoyed with her and there would be very little he could do about it – so she thought - she hadn't met Alec Hardy.
Alec Hardy sat at his desk, well his temporary one, someone else was sitting in his old office, taking charge until he could regain his status and he was determined now that wasn't going to be long. Another DI had been drafted in from a nearby town while he was supposed to be on medical leave but he had bribed his way back a few hours a day, saying he could make himself useful by clearing paperwork from the case he had just solved and that the chief owed him that much for doing so, he could help prepare the case for the upcoming trial. His ex partner had left town to give her kids a new start but he planned to stay in touch with her and stick by her during the fiasco that was to follow.
The last of the mob of reporters had just left town and he was looking forward to having a little peace and quiet to gather his strength, what he had left, to give evidence at the trial which was why he had asked to go back to work otherwise he'd go crazy sitting in his hotel room staring at the walls and contemplating asking Ms Fisher to reconsider her answer. He felt better, now he was taking regular medication and not when he felt like it and the pressure was off, he no longer had to hide the fact he was practically terminally ill, it was sort of a reprieve. Taking it easy, just sitting at a boring desk going through everything and giving testimony at the upcoming trial, he could do that. Stay out of trouble he'd been told by the doctor at the local hospital he had walked out of several times, yeah right, him, Alec Hardy stay out of trouble, it had followed him from his last case.
He had been doomed to have trouble follow him so this was going to be his biggest challenge yet, keep calm, take his medication and give evidence a few minutes a day. The court had his medical report from the police CMO, stating he could give evidence for short periods and there was to be no hostile cross examination and a medical team would be standing by and that was all under the understanding he was to have an operation afterwards. They had practically said there wasn't much of a case without his testimony but if need be, he could give written evidence if he became too ill to appear in person. As for his ex partner, well he didn't know what was happening there but could hazard a guess, she just wanted to put it behind her and support her two boys.
The three hours he spent in the temporary office passed quickly but he was under strict orders not to put in any overtime under any circumstances so he closed his laptop and went to get his jacket. It was just gone two so he thought he'd walk to the café across the harbour and get a late lunch then take his time walking back to the hotel and try to charm Becca and see if she was interested in taking him on for a while, nothing too strenuous but she knew his condition and might be up for a bit of fun. Crikey, he was desperate, not for choosing her of all people when he knew about her affair with a married man but because he was prepared to take anything he could get. He did not know a certain Miss Rose Tyler had checked into the hotel just after 2pm and would turn his quiet life upside down.
Rose arrived at The Trader's hotel just before two and went to check in before dragging her cases to her room. She had noticed with amusement that Alec Hardy's name was on the register. It seemed a decent place as hotels go, she had been in some really bad ones and she found the owner to be fairly pleasant, Australian by the sound of her accent and Rose thought she may get on well with her. Becca apologised for the lack of staff to help with her luggage but Rose was used to that. It didn't take long for her get her two cases into her room and start unpacking though why she had two small cases instead of one large one she didn't know, it was just a habit. Her shoulder bag contained her laptop and charger and mobile internet for hotels that didn't offer free wi-fi access but she had asked about access and had been given the password.
She started her article, just going over what she already knew about the man she was going to hound for the next two weeks but this one she was going to have to go easy on due to his condition so she was going to have to be tactful and handle him with care or he might get stressed out and she would be in trouble if she caused him to end up in hospital.
Feeling hungry, she went down to the dining room just after six and spotted an empty table then she spotted her prey, Alec Hardy, sat on his own studying the menu wearing a pair of rimless glasses but looking over the edge of them. Since he wasn't eating, she thought it was the ideal opportunity to introduce herself, she liked her victims to know who she was before pouncing on them and following them everywhere. Just her luck to have been booked into the same hotel but now she was going to take advantage of it.
She walked boldly up to him as he put down the menu and put his specs in his top pocket. "Hi, I'm Rose Tyler, I just arrived today and you are Alec Hardy?" She hoped to catch him off guard.
"Well, you seem to know me but I don't think we've met before," Alec replied sarcastically.
"May I join you a moment Alec? Can I call you Alec?"
He was about to say this young blonde women could call him anything she wanted but thought better of it until he knew what she wanted. He gestured for her to sit opposite.
"Alec, I'd like to make an appointment with you to interview you for a magazine, can I do that?"
He shook his head – bloody reporters, he'd just got rid of the bane of his life Miss White and here was another one although this one at least had the decency to ask him first and she was far more attractive. "I don't give interviews and I don't speak to the press. When are you reporters going to leave me alone?"
He picked up the glass from the table and poured some water, taking a sip. He was supposed to take his pill before he had his evening meal along with the one he took at breakfast. He fumbled in his inside jacket pocket and brought out a strip of tablets and tapped one out and swallowed it, quite oblivious that he still had company or simply not caring she saw him, he supposed if she were the press she was aware of his condition so there was nothing to hide.
"Now if you'll excuse me Miss Tyler, I'd like to order my meal." He waved for the waitress to come over and take his order. Rose didn't move but shook her head when the waitress turned to her and said she would be moving tables shortly and asked her to come back.
Alec tried to ignore her but she wasn't going away. He frowned at her.
"You gave an interview to the local reporter here in Broadchurch but I'm not a reporter as such, I'm an investigative journalist and I do articles on infamous people, not that your infamous as such but you solved that recent case against all odds after your other case failed and came back from the brink so to speak. I just wanted to get some insight into how you solved the case and battled your illness. I can do the article with or without your help, I like to be polite and ask first. So, have you changed your mind?"
Alec shook his head again, there was no way he was doing this to himself but he was under no illusions she would back off and would do the article whether he liked it or not but she wasn't going to get any help from him. "I told you, I don't speak to the press and that includes articles from newspapers or magazines. Now I'd like to eat my meal if you don't mind."
Rose got up to leave as the waitress approached and indicated to a vacant table but before she left she turned back to him. "Well, I did ask so if you see me following you around, don't be surprised. I won't bother you in your own time, just when you're working so I won't be invading your personal life. Nice to meet you Alec."
She walked across to the empty table and looked at the menu. Alec Hardy was indeed going to be a challenge and the tougher the better, just how she liked it.
Alec was annoyed, very annoyed that someone else was bothering him just when the media circus had finally left him alone but they would be back for the trial but since the trial was out of town, he'd be able to commute and stay out of their way, it was only a thirty minute car ride across the border into Devon to the court and he was to be driven there and back each day. What was this Rose Tyler wanting to interview him for? Didn't she have anyone else to pick on? What had he done to deserve her unwanted attention? He risked a glance across the dining room at her, she was certainly attractive, there was no doubt about it. He shook the feeling off and continued his meal, contemplating approaching Becca, she hadn't been there when he'd got back. He could go for a short fling with her, nothing serious of course, she knew it would kill him but just a casual thing wouldn't harm, he was lonely and just wanted some female company.
Rose saw him looking at her, wondering if he had changed his mind. Maybe he was annoyed she had bothered him at dinner. So she decided to try another approach and confront him at the Police Station the next day. She went back to her room and looked at what she had written so far. It was all jumbled up, just random sentences waiting to be made sense of but she added some personal thoughts of her initial meeting with him and concluded he was just lonely and grossly misunderstood. She switched off her laptop and turned on the TV to watch one of her favourite programmes and tried to forget about him.
Alec had no luck finding Becca, she must have gone out for the evening. Oh well, there was always tomorrow, he could even have changed his mind by then and not bother. He'd lasted this long, maybe he could wait until after his operation when he could actually do something about it instead of just thinking about it but he had these sudden urges every now and then that needed something to be done about them, anything apart from pleasing himself, that he'd never do in a million years, he had to take a very cold shower instead but just something to relieve the tension until it passed but finding a woman who understood was not easy. Becca understood, she knew having sex would probably result in him being in hospital but just taking the edge off it until he was well again would help but would she be willing to oblige?
Well at least he wouldn't be embarrassed or insult a woman by not actually going the whole way and risked getting slapped or worse. It seemed Ms Fisher was unobtainable at least for tonight but maybe she had found herself another man anyway and wouldn't be interested in what little he had to offer. So it was the cold shower again for him tonight, something he should be used to by now. It never occurred to him that his answer lay with the woman who had just interrupted his dinner and put him in a bad mood.
Rose was determined the next morning to follow the detective to work so she settled herself in the guest lounge with her magazine and her phone and waited for him to go out. It was ten thirty before he put in an appearance and walked past the lounge and stopped at reception and talked to the woman behind it, Becca. Rose couldn't hear what they were talking about, probably about room prices or he was complaining about something, probably her for interrupting him last night and was going to get the woman to throw her out or politely tell her to get the hell out of his face at dinner.
Rose put her phone away and got up, making sure he had left and walked up to Becca. "Watcha, tell me Becca, is there anything interesting to do around here, I might be a journalist but I want a social life as well, it's not all about work," Rose laughed, leaning on the desk casually.
Becca glanced up. She knew Rose was a journalist and had read several of her articles, the last one in particular that had just been published in the fortnightly magazine and she had found it amusing to say the least. "Well, there's not much to do on the seafront at night but there are a few places up in the town you might want to try."
Rose thanked her and went out, trying to make it look like she wasn't following the detective, she was good at that when potential victims of her articles didn't want attention and wished her last one had been one of them. Honestly, she must have been the only female in the UK who wouldn't want to get up close and personal with the bloke. He was tall, Scottish and fit, very fit and charming to say the least but she just didn't see anything special in him. Was there something wrong with her? He'd even tried several times to give her his personal mobile number which she had declined and the last few days before she had finished following him around, he'd cornered her and tried to snog her and she'd given in after the second attempt and found he wasn't bad at it but had refused to give him her number but they had parted amicably. She had regretted it afterwards though, she should have resisted a bit more furtively. Still, he had been slightly better than the toad who had tried to corner her a few months before that. She had just slapped him, reality TV star or not.
Rose made her way to the Police Station and walked up the few steps and into the front lobby. It was a strange building, round at the front with a square bit added to the back, well large square bit added plus an underground car park but it looked tiny from the front. She asked at the desk for Detective Inspector Hardy and conned the desk sergeant into believing he was expecting her by flashing her press badge at him and batting her eyelids and was told he had his office on the second floor, turn left when she got out of the lift and it was the second door on the right, just before the door marked CID. Rose assured the poor sergeant there was no need to inform the Inspector of her arrival and she almost felt sorry for the man who would surely get a roasting from Hardy for letting her up there.
She found her mark's door. It was a glass door with glass either side and pull down blinds that were open and she could see Hardy sitting at his desk, looking at a pile of papers. She tapped lightly on the door and he shouted, "Come in" before he had even looked up. His face dropped when he saw who it was.
"Oh not you again, Miss Tyler, who let you up?" he said, getting up to show her out of his office.
"Before you say anything Inspector, just hear me out?"
He stood with his hand on the door, ready to throw her out. "Look, I don't know why anyone would even want to do an article about me but I'm not remotely interested in taking part. I know I can't stop you if you don't harass me outside work but if you approach me again, I'll have to think about doing something about it. Now please leave before I have that idiot of a desk sergeant remove you and I kick his ass out of the building for letting you in." He held the door even wider, waiting for her to move.
Rose stood her ground. "Just hear what I have to say, please?" Hardy stood at the door, his arm outstretched to grab hold of her and remove her from his office. "Listen, I'm going to do the article anyway so why don't you just give me five minutes to ask you a few questions?" She continued while Hardy was looking slightly more flustered. Rose knew she'd have to leave soon or she would be calling for an ambulance.
"I just want five minutes of your time, not now, maybe later in the hotel bar? I just want an insight into how you solved the case and your reactions now it's over," she persisted. She could see he was getting even madder now.
She turned around and Hardy was careful not to touch her arm as she stopped while he tried to usher her out as fast as he could. "So you won't change your mind then? she asked hopefully as she crossed out into the corridor. Hardy shook his head. "OK, I'll leave for now but my invitation stands if you let me buy you a drink later." Rose walked back to the lift, hearing his glass door slam behind him and wondered why the thing didn't shatter into millions of pieces on impact. "Must get used to him slamming it then," she thought as the lift arrived.
Hardy went back to sit at his desk and tried to calm himself. Who the hell did she think she was turning up at his office? She must have been waiting for him to leave, he thought he had seen her in the guest lounge before he'd spoken to Becca before he left. That had been a waste of time, talking to Becca. She had told him in no uncertain terms she had a new man in her life and she couldn't go for a bit of fooling around with him anyway, well why should she when she could get the real thing elsewhere? He buried himself back in the papers he was reading before he had been so rudely interrupted and was going to have 'words' with the desk sergeant before he left and kick his arse for letting the journalist in. If it meant he had to take an extra pill then so be it, he would some satisfaction out of it for that idiot letting her in and getting him all worked up about it.
Why the hell couldn't she just leave him alone and what trashy magazine was interested in writing a piece about him? A newly reprieved detective who had taken weeks to solve a murder when he had sat across the dinner table with the culprit. It had been pure luck he had finally discovered the truth and he wasn't proud about how long it had taken him, if he had been well, he would have cracked it in days, not weeks. That's what you get for being a prat and letting your own now ex wife handle valuable evidence then taking the blame.
Why was he even getting this riled about that woman? He had a good mind to tell her exactly what he thought of her, well that or screw the life out of her – if he even could.
Rose was not deterred in the slightest. She had got him riled up but not enough to make him ill thankfully, she never intended it to go that far, she always knew when to leave. Maybe she could lure him into the bar and buy him a drink but did he drink, if he had a heart condition? Maybe not. All she wanted was five minutes to ask how he had finally cracked the case wide open and how he felt now it was over, coming back from the jaws of disaster after a failed case then back into glory. At no stage was she ever going to mention his illness, well not to its full extent, he had come clean about it to the local press so there was no point in pursuing the subject. His personal life didn't come into it. She knew all the facts though, she had done her homework looking at the interview he gave locally. Her job wasn't to dig up old dirt from his past, she left that to the trashy papers, Alec Hardy didn't deserve that, he had come through a lot at his own health's risk and he had got through but that was part of her job, whether she liked the subject of her article or not. She wasn't there to put them in a good or bad light, just to let people make up their own minds whether they were. Alec Hardy was no different. Was he?
Getting dinner early was a good idea, Hardy wouldn't think she was following him again but tomorrow, she was going to have to sort out the notes she had made and put them in order and get somewhere with it. Her usual subjects were pretty keen to give their side of the story, the downtrodden would-be star who got kicked out, the secretary of a celebrity who never got noticed etc. Why was Hardy so reluctant and so adamant he wasn't going to talk to her? Tomorrow, she would casually go out the same time as him and see if he went anywhere or maybe she would sit in the café across from the Police Station and see if he spoke to anyone. He couldn't arrest her for sitting in a café, could he? She didn't even know what hours he worked. Well if she didn't get an interview with him soon, she would just have to write the article from her observations and piece things together herself, if he liked it or not. Her editor would want the opening paragraphs in the next day or so and it was already Wednesday, what with her wasting time on Monday and it not being worthwhile coming down.
She saw Hardy come in and sit down, trying to ignore her. He was probably still mad with her from earlier but he looked a lot calmer than he had when he had practically thrown her out of his office. At least he couldn't get her thrown out of the hotel, could he? There were plenty of other hotels but the magazine had of course got the best deal in the available accommodation, cheapskates. Just why did they pick the one Hardy was staying at?
She finished her meal, drank her tea and thought she may as well have a drink at the bar, there was no point in going out. Maybe she would get Hardy's attention by sitting on a barstool and hitching her dress up and showing her legs off. Blimey, she wished she would have got rid of that last bloke, what's is name, David something or other that easily. She hadn't even had to do anything to get his attention even when his screaming fans had been waiting backstage for him to sign autographs, he had been turning to watch her leave the theatre.
It didn't work though, he never came past the bar, he must have gone out for a walk or something so she finished her drink and since she was on the second floor usually took the lift but decided she needed the exercise. She reached her floor and was just passing the other staircase from the side door when she saw Hardy on the last few steps. He looked up and saw her as she carried on to her door. She stopped to get her key out, not knowing if he had to pass her door or not. He stopped as she turned around and she felt him behind her, too close to be just passing. Her heart raced. Maybe he was going to say he would give her that interview after all but one thing she didn't do was sleep with a bloke to get one and there were no exceptions to that rule, she had her reasons.
She was just about to put the key in the lock when he brushed up against her and taking hold of the arm that she was holding the key with, he suddenly spun her around as she let out a faint "What the?" as he pushed her up against the door, now holding both her arms against the door. She could feel his hot breath on her face and she thought he was going to tell her in no uncertain terms to leave him the hell alone or else but instead, he got even closer until she could feel his chest pressed up against her as he leaned down – then he kissed her, roughly as she tried to fight him off but he held her arms tightly against the door. He let go and she caught him off balance and freeing her arm, she slapped his face. If her mother had taught her one thing, it was how to slap a bloke's face but he quickly grabbed her arm again, pinning it back with the other and he forced a kiss on her lips again as she tried to fight against his but she gave up and instead, leaned into it and melted into his lips.