As soon as Rose got off the train and made her way down towards the hotel she'd booked, she thought she was just going to spend five nights at a small holiday resort and spend her days on the beach, trying to forget her past life and the fact she had been adopted by Pete Tyler and was now rich and reasonably famous. That's why she had chosen a small holiday town, not one of the more popular ones, she should be able to stay there undetected. Or so she thought.
Wheeling her suitcase and trying to keep both her shoulder bag and purse from constantly falling down her arm, she arrived outside 'The Traders' and when she entered saw a woman sat behind a small desk. She gave her name and the woman welcomed her, saying she was the owner, Becca and gave the room key to her.
"Sorry, no porter, it's a bit quiet here yet. Will you be able to manage, your room's on the second floor."
"I'll be fine, don't worry about me. What time is the evening meal?"
"Six thirty, you can sit where you want, we're not that busy yet. I'm not expecting it to get busy until the weekend, there are only a few guests here so far. There's just one other guest on the same floor as you, watch out for him, he's a bit of a recluse, doesn't talk much, especially to women."
"Thanks for the warning. I plan to spend most of my time on the beach though, I won't be here much of the day. I'll try to avoid him."
Rose went up to her room, wishing she'd waited for the lift instead of being enthusiastic about taking the stairs. It was already three so she planned to do some unpacking then go for a walk and find the beach. She walked downstairs and was just going out when she nearly collided with a tall man who had just come around the corner. They both muttered a 'sorry' and tried to dodge each other, the same way until the man stopped, leaving Rose room to pass. Becca saw what was happening and smiled to herself. If this new guest, who had booked in under the name of Rose Prentice, (her mother's maiden name so she wouldn't be recognised and intended not to use her bank card in any of the shops and only in the cash machine) had met the infamous detective then she hoped she had better luck with him than she'd had since she turned him down once and he never asked her again.
Once outside, Rose turned around just as the man turned around wondering where she had seen him before. She carried on and walked down the High Street until she came to the harbour and the beach. Finding it rather inviting, she took off her shoes and walked in the sand down to the water. She sat down and leaned back on her arms, enjoying the afternoon sun on her face. It felt good to get out of the city and the rigours of working in an office, studying alien artefacts and finding a way to get back to her own universe. Nothing had worked, Torchwood had lost interest, even at the thought of being able to get their hands of the most famous alien expert in any world. They had to rely on her and Mickey.
Mickey of course had tried to re-kindle his interest in Rose now she wasn't following the Doctor around but she'd made it clear she wasn't interested. They hardly talked at all these days outside work. She was rudely interrupted from her thoughts by a male voice behind her.
"Do you mind if I join you?"
Rose squinted her eyes, cursing she'd come out without her sunglasses and covering them with her hand. It was the man she'd been dodging in the doorway of the hotel. What was he doing here, following her? She shouldn't encourage him, he could be anyone. She didn't know whether to get up and run for the nearest Policeman or to stay where she was. There were plenty of people on the beach so she figured she was relatively safe for now.
The man sat himself down away from her and said he was sorry if he'd startled her. "I'm sorry about almost bumping into you back there, I wasn't looking," he said in a soft Scottish voice.
Rose turned to him and said it was ok. "You didn't have to follow me down here to say that, you could have said it at the hotel."
"Well, I needed a walk anyway and I spotted you from back there." He nodded to the path leading to the beach.
"You must have good eyesight to pick me out or be very observant then."
"I have, I'm a Police Detective, I'm observant by nature. I'm Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, Broadchurch Police."
"Oh yeah? Anyone can say that," Rose replied. "Show me your ID then or I might have to go complain about you to the real police." She was now sat up, hands around her knees.
The man, who was just in his trousers and shirtsleeves, his jacket now beside him, fished in his jacket pocket and pulled out his ID card and showed it to her. "Satisfied?" he asked.
Rose nodded and said "S'pose so" as she relaxed a bit. "So why did you follow me? Are you going to take me in for questioning for dodging you in the hotel doorway?" She was smiling now, burying her face into her knees and trying not to let him see.
He half suspected she was trying to wind him up, the way she sat, he could tell there was a smile on her face. "Well, if I suspected any reason why you would be trying to dodge me, I may have to think about it. You're not on the most wanted list are you?"
"Wouldn't you know if I was, you being a Detective and all?" She was trying not to laugh out loud now and failing badly.
Alec Hardy began to smile. She was definitely trying to wind him up and had certainly brightened his so far dull day and had been worth the effort of trying to catch up with her and standing five minutes at the start of the beach trying to spot her. She had stood out a mile when he'd looked in the right direction.
"Ice cream?" he asked.
"What? Oh, ok, if you're paying, didn't bring anything with me," Rose replied, pointing to her skimpy top and shorts as she was sitting on her thin jacket.
He got up, after putting his eyes back in their sockets and asked if he could leave his jacket beside her while he went to find an ice cream vendor. Rose squinted up at him again, shading her eyes from the sun. He picked up his jacket and took a pair of sunglasses out of the top pocket and handed them to her. She took them and put them on. They were too big and slid down her nose as she laughed, pushing them back on and tilting her head back to balance them, Alec noticed as she did he could see the top of her very low cut bra and tearing his eyes away again, put his jacket down.
He smiled to himself as he walked away, thinking this had to be his luckiest day since arriving in this boring town almost a year ago. A tough year, having had to solve a murder case and face a life-threatening illness and its subsequent cure – a touch and go heart operation for a pacemaker but today, he, Alec Hardy thought it had all paid off. Chatting up blondes on the beach was something he'd never really gone in for until now. Sure, he'd fancied women since his disaster of a mock marriage but never got anywhere because of his illness and he'd not long since got over the fact he was now able to pursue physical activities without fear of collapsing and now it was all new to him again. Maybe it was time to test the waters, so to speak.
A few minutes later, he was standing in the queue waiting to buy ice cream when a familiar voice came up behind him. It was Tom Miller, Ellie's son. They said hello, Tom was getting ice cream for his mum and his little brother. He told Alec they were down the other end of the beach and asked if he wanted to join them. Alec politely turned him down, saying he was with someone. Tom asked if he was still coming for Sunday lunch the next day, he looked forward to having a football kick-around in the back garden of his new house when Alec came round and the talk with him afterwards.
Alec knew he was in for trouble now. Ellie would get to know and would ask awkward question like if the someone he was with was blonde or brunette but he'd tell her not to be so nosey of course. Alec bought the ice creams and made his way back to the blonde, who, he kicked himself he'd not managed to even get her name and he was supposed to be a Detective. Give yourself a kick, Hardy, he told himself.
Rose was now laid out of the beach, the borrowed sunglasses somehow managing to stay on her nose once she had pinched together the pads on the nose of the glasses, her arm across his jacket like she was either protecting it from being pinched or she was fantasising about the wearer, he hoped it was the latter. He stood over her, blocking the sun to get her attention before the ice cream melted. Rose propped herself up on one arm and accepted one. The way she delicately licked the cone made Alec want to melt, let alone the ice cream itself, wishing he was the cone. He sat down beside her and asked her to hold the cone and began to unfasten his shirt buttons and roll up his sleeves, then took the cone from her once he'd sat down, nearer to her this time, having moved his jacket out of the way and hoping she might move her arm again, across him this time. He knew he was getting way too ahead of himself.
"So, well, you know my name, are you going to tell me yours or do I have to start a full scale enquiry?" he asked.
Rose was sat up, one arm holding onto her knees and the other with the cone halfway to her mouth. Alec could definitely see down her top from where he was sitting and was more than admiring the view and she knew it. It was like she was doing in on purpose.
"Rose" was all she said.
"Nice to meet you, Rose, that's a suitable name for you." Then he wished he'd not opened his big mouth and put his big foot in it as she turned to him.
She didn't say anything, just smiled and raised the cone back to her mouth, licking around the edge and the ice cream that was beginning to melt slightly. Alec stared again at the way she was doing it, it was driving him mad and he was forgetting about his as some dripped onto his chest. Rose smiled even more, Alec was hoping she would offer to wipe it away but she didn't and he was disappointed. He wiped it away and decided he'd best finish ogling his new love interest and eat the cone. The said cone was eaten and he lay back on his arms, his shirt open, hoping Rose was paying attention to him. She was, then she got up and said she was going to stand in the water to cool her feet off. Alec was cursing that he still had his shoes and socks on and the burden of his jacket.
Still, it was only a few feet to the water's edge, if he half turned he could see his jacket and Rose's things and there weren't that many people around so he took his shoes and socks off and rolled up his trousers and got up, joining Rose in the water. She had her back to him, just standing there, staring out to the sea. Alec stood beside her, facing her so he could still see the beach and where they'd left their things. Rose realised he was there and turned to face him. He took a gamble and held out his hand as the waves gently poured over their feet. She took it and he squeezed hers and smiled at her.
That single moment was to change their lives forever. The simple gesture of taking her hand would leave them both with questions unanswered until they were both ready to let go of their pasts. They stood facing each other as he took her other hand and pulled her nearer. Then he led her back to where they'd been sitting and asked her, "Rose, what's bothering you? You can tell me. I'm not being a Police Officer now. I'd like to be your friend, if you'll let me?"
Rose nodded and sat down and looked over the sunglasses as they were slipping down her nose again. Alec reached out a hand and pushed them back on and she took his hand.
"Yes, Alec, I could really do with a friend right now but I don't feel much like talking, maybe we can just sit for a while?"
Alec nodded an 'ok' and she let go of his hand and leaned back again. He put his arm around her shoulder to support her as she sank back. "Whatever it is Rose, I can help you, if you want?"
She didn't answer, she just leaned back into him and put her head on his bare shoulder and Alec knew she definitely wasn't teasing him now, this was serious. Something was troubling her.
"I came here for some peace and quiet, away from work and my family, I wasn't looking for a friend, I'm only here for a few days, after that I have to go back to my life and my job. I'll probably never see you again, then what? I didn't come here looking for a holiday romance, I swear I didn't. You shouldn't get involved with me, Alec Hardy."