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The kidnapping of Kelly Hardy


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Rose Tyler (who never met The Doctor) and Alec Hardy moved to Broadchurch with their 3 yr old daughter Kelly after he was offered a promotion when Kelly was a baby. They lived happily until one day after Kelly started nursery school, Alec gets caught up in the disappearance of his own daughter when someone from Rose's past kidnaps her. Lots of O/C's involved.


An alternate reality story





Rose Tyler (who never met the Doctor) and Alec Hardy moved to Broadchurch with their 3 yr old daughter Kelly after he was offered a promotion when Kelly was a baby.  They lived happily until one day after Kelly started nursery school, Alec gets caught up in the disappearance of his own daughter when someone from Rose's past kidnaps her.  Lots of O/C's involved inc. Jackie and Claire.

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Chapter 1
A/N: Takes place before and after the Sandbrook case which Alec Hardy in this story never got involved with so times and dates do not coincide with either series.  Inspired by the Gracepoint episode where Tom Miller goes missing and Ellie thanks Carver for his help, I wondered what it would be like for Alec to have to investigate his own daughter's disappearance. There are no specific years these events took place and no years were mentioned in the series either except on Danny's gravestone and Danny's death may or may not take place in Alec's future after the events of my story, I wanted to explore something more personal to Alec being at the centre of something, loads of stories cover the events of the two series, including a lot of my own.   Rose has never met the Doctor.

When Rose met Alec Hardy while training to be a hairdresser in the town of Sandbrook, she thought he was the most gorgeous bloke she had ever seen and reminded her somewhat of a certain actor she had a crush on, like she was ever gonna meet him but Alec Hardy, already a detective sergeant and freshly divorced from his nightmare of a marriage when he found his wife, also a DS was having an affair with another officer on the team walked into the salon one Wednesday afternoon and Rose's life was never going to be the same.  He had fought for custody of their twelve year old daughter but she had won in the end stating she could offer the girl, Daisy, a stable home with her new boyfriend and Alec only had a tiny one bedroom flat but they agreed he would see her every other week though an overnight stay was out of the question and since Daisy wasn't keen anyway, all that mattered to Alec was that he got to see her.

Rose Tyler, fed up with her life and her useless loser boyfriend Mickey Smith, applied for a hairdressing apprenticeship after leaving collage in a town called Sandbrook and finding some cheap digs that cost her £75 a week with a pittance of a breakfast included (cereal and toast and cheap coffee) and since she had nothing else to find except lunch and tea, managed on what her new boss, Claire Ripley offered to pay her plus she got to keep any tips the clients gave her.

Then one day, Alec Hardy, disappointed his favourite barber had retired and shut up shop, was passing by Claire's salon which was aptly called 'Dragon Scissors' with Claire being from Wales, he was tired of searching for a replacement and went inside and took off his overcoat, though why he needed it in July, he didn't know, it was a bad habit of his and he sat down next to another man waiting after seeing no appointment was necessary.

Claire had seen the man and thought how much he looked like someone and since Rose had just finished giving another man a trim, pointed her in his direction but Rose just shrugged her shoulders, knowing someone else was in front of him and she wouldn't get to do his hair.

''Rose sweetheart, get me a coffee will you, I'm parched,'' Claire smiled, knowing Rose was due to do the other man's hair but Sarah had just finished and Carlo, the male stylist was doing his 'thing' and showing off to a man who was clearly getting hot under the collar at getting so much attention.

Rose obliged and when she handed Claire her cup, her boss winked at her.

''Next please'' Rose stated as she prepared her kit for who she knew for a fact wasn't actually the actor himself, what would he be doing in Sandbrook of all places unless he was filming nearby and Rose kept up with his schedule and knew exactly where he was.

''Good afternoon sir, what can I do for you today?'' Rose asked politely, noticing his thick brown hair almost looked chestnut when the sun caught it and he had the faintest of designer stubble on his face and chin that Rose thought looked rather sexy.  Was she certain she knew where that actor was?  This man seated in her chair was his exact double right down to the brown pimple under his chin and the way his top shirt button was undone and his tie not quite straight.

''Just a trim if you will,'' he stated in a Scottish accent.

That was it, Rose was convinced it was actually HIM.  She calmly trimmed and styled his hair and showed him the back in the hand mirror she held.  He just nodded and Rose took the cape from him and brushed the back of his neck.  He followed her to the desk and paid the £7.50 and told her to keep the change from the £10 note he handed her and gave her the most brilliant smile.

''Thank you Rose,'' he said, looking at her name badge.  ''This will be my permanent hairdressers from now on, I hope you get to cut my hair next time I visit.''

''Thank you Sir, have a good day.''

''Oh I'm sure I will now Rose, thank you.''

Everyone teased Rose for the next few weeks.  Sometimes he would pass by the salon and if he saw her turn around, he would first nod then after a few times he would wave and one day when it was quiet, Rose was sat at the desk going through appointments when there was a tap on the window.  Rose turned and Alec was standing there smiling at her and popped his head around the door.

Claire looked over at Rose who tried to ignore him but Claire was trying to hint to her lovestruck assistant to go talk to him but instead, he came over to her.

''Hello Rose.  Can I make an appointment with you for Wednesday afternoon?''

The appointment made, Rose couldn't wait until the following Wednesday and made sure everything was ready for his arrival.  She was getting teased something terrible, including from Carlos who said he would gladly do the gentleman's hair if Rose were to find herself with another client.  Rose had given him a hasty 'no thanks' and now she had his name, well his surname – Hardy.

The time came for Alec's appointment and he was taking the afternoon off, hoping he could entice the young hairdresser to go out for a late lunch with him after his haircut.  He didn't know her surname, just she was the most beautiful woman he had ever met, far outdoing his ex and why he'd married her, he had no idea, the stupid cow had got herself pregnant after a night out and failing to inform him she was off the pill for a few days.  He had felt he had to do the right thing but twelve years later, it was no long viable to keep up the pretence.

He arrived on time, hung up his coat and jacket and sat in Rose's chair when she called him over.  They talked for a while, Alec asking what she did in her spare time and revealed he was a police detective sergeant and was just about to take the detective inspector's exams the following Monday.

Rose wished him good luck and he said if he passed, would she like to go out with him to celebrate?

''I'd love to Mr Hardy, thanks.''

''It's Alec, though I don't care much for the name really, a cruel joke by my parents I expect.  Are you free when you've finished with me?''

''I'm due to go to lunch soon.''

''Then allow me to accompany you perhaps?''

Rose didn't know what to say, he had invited her for lunch and to celebrate if he passed his exams.  Claire was encouraging her whenever he purposely passed the salon as were the other girls but Carlos was getting a bit jealous until Claire told him to grow up and the detective definitely didn't seem to sway in his direction since he was clearly interested in Rose.

Over the next few weeks, Alec would often call and take Rose to lunch and he passed the DI's exams with flying colours and was now waiting for a transfer since now he was seeing Rose on a regular basis, his ex was making life difficult.  Poor Alec had to agree that on the Saturdays he saw Daisy, Rose was not to be with him.  They started looking for a house or a flat after being together over the new year, Rose had moved into his one bedroom flat and it was just big enough for the two of them, cosy, Alec called it.

He met Rose's mother, Jackie and they got on reasonably well when they went for a visit for Christmas and stayed in Rose's old room in her mother's flat for two nights. Mickey of course had to put in an appearance and almost ruined things when he had too much to drink on Christmas Eve but Alec knew better than to listen to a jealous ex-boyfriend.

So on Christmas night after her mother's dinner, Alec giving her the pink paper hat he'd won in the Christmas cracker they had pulled together and a party in the evening, Rose knew it was almost her monthly but Alec said he didn't care, he wanted to show her how much he loved her and although Rose insisted he was the one to take precautions, he said he knew what he was doing and would take the blame if she got pregnant.

A month later, they had found a two bedroomed terrace house on the outskirts of the town and having to buy an extra single bed and a bit more furniture, moved in then Rose told him she was late and went to get a pregnancy test.  It was positive, she was five weeks pregnant.  Alec was more than over the moon, more than he had been when Tess had announced she was having Daisy, who was now thirteen and had decided she wanted to meet her dad's girlfriend much to her mother's dismay.

So Rose quit her job when she had two months to go, just short of a year since she had met Alec in the salon which had been the happiest day of Rose's life so far, that only going to be outdone when she gave birth to what they now knew was going to be a girl since neither of them could wait to find out and the spare room had been turned into a baby girl's nursery with Jackie sending all kinds of pink items down for her granddaughter including pink dresses and babygrows and of course lots of pink woollen knitted items that half of the estate had been knitting for weeks.

Alec was so excited, he almost missed the entrance to the maternity entrance to the local hospital when Rose had got herself there when she got pains after he had left for work one morning, two days before she was due and he had already booked leave to take her in on the day but as he received her frantic call saying she was getting strong contractions and she had called a taxi rather than wait for him to get home or wait for an ambulance.  She had presented herself to reception and since there was a queue, shouted out she was going into labour, which got her a funny look from those in front of her but being the partner of a detective inspector, Rose didn't really care as a nurse brought a wheelchair and took her through to a delivery suite.

''You'd better let my partner know where I am when he arrives, he's a Police Detective, he won't mess about asking where I am.''

''Don't worry Miss Tyler, someone will tell him when he arrives.  Just get undressed and onto the bed and we'll time your contractions.  Do you need anything for the pain yet?''

''No ta, I'm ok for now, Alec will be the one that needs something, he's more nervous about it than I am.''

The nurse smiled and left Rose to get changed.  She got a message from the man who had got her into this asking where she was.

'Hospital, where do you think I am?' she replied which got her a 'Don't be smart Rose, I know that'

He finally found her and after snogging her senseless asked how far on she was.  He soon found out.  Two hours later, Rose was cradling her new born daughter, whom they had decided to name Kelly, not wanting any more names of flowers in the family.  Rose was moved to a ward and after school, Alec went to collect Daisy to see her new baby step-sister.

Daisy sat on the chair nearest to Rose holding the baby carefully, her little finger being held while Alec sat on the bed, propping his partner up as he had done throughout the delivery and he had only then gone out to call Jackie.  He had laid with Rose for an hour while Kelly was sleeping, after taking lots of photos and sending them to Jackie and some to his colleagues, getting him loads of congratulations messages except from Tess of course, who was now feeling miserable since her not so new boyfriend she had divorced Alec for had never once mentioned the word 'partner' let alone the 'M' word and certainly not anything about having kids.

Rose was home after a few days, Alec had a few weeks leave and Daisy came round whenever she could then shortly before Kelly's first birthday, Alec came home with some news – he had been offered the lead detective's job in a town called Broadchurch, down on the coast of Dorset and he would be in charge of a team of local detectives, no-one over him except the chief superintendent and since it was right on the coast, it would be a great place for Kelly to grow up.

So they took a week's holiday in Broadchurch, renting a two bedroom caravan right on the harbour and Alec went to see his new boss to agree they would get help with housing costs since he was moving and he could get a weeks leave to settle his family in when they found a suitable place.  A month later, everything was packed and the Hardy family followed the removal van down to Broadchurch, which wasn't really that far and they arrived in front of their new home, overlooking the sea on the side of the cliff and just above the High Street.  When they looked out of their bedroom window, they could see the harbour and the other golden cliffs and once settled, though it was now into October but quite mild, they would take their daughter down to the beach then get fish and chips from one of the stalls and Kelly loved the bright lights of the amusement arcade and laughed as she was put on the kiddie rides, Alec taking photos of her and Rose would pretend to get on with her which got a 'No' from her when she learned to talk then later, when she was two, it was, 'Mummy's too big' so Rose would ask if daddy could go on so Alec would attempt to sit behind while Rose took the photo of him tickling his daughter until she almost fell off laughing even more.

The little family were extremely happy, Rose had made some friends, DS Ellie Miller and Beth Latimer being two of them she spent the most time with since Ellie had another boy just after Rose and Alec's arrival but had gone back to work and her husband had stayed at home.  Rose said Alec would never agree to that but she was only a hairdresser and since Kelly went to a private nursery in the mornings when she turned two, Rose had got a job two hours a day in a salon on the High Street just washing hair and doing trims but it brought in some extra money since Kelly was growing out of her clothes and Rose swore the girl was going to be tall just like her dad.

Then the following September, Kelly was due to start nursery at the local school and the house was in chaos that morning.  Alec was going with his partner and daughter for her first morning, just part time for a few weeks for her to get used to it.  They finally made it with five minutes to spare, Alec parking on a yellow line and putting his police sign on the dashboard and daring the school crossing lady to challenge his choice of parking spots – she knew the DI and what he was capable of so she had thought better of it.

After lots of hugs and kisses and talking to their daughter's new nursery teacher, Alec giving Miss Carter a lecture that no-one was to collect Kelly except for himself or Kelly's mum and if someone were to be asked to collect their child, one of them would inform the school as to whom it would be and would more than likely be a Police Officer or DS Miller and to call if someone were to attempt to take the young girl and stop them.

Rose went back to the car with him.

''Was that really necessary Alec, I'm sure they already have plans in place, the head explained all that when we went to see her.''

''I'm not risking it Rose, do you want to?''  He raised his eyebrows, like he always did that made him look so sexy when he did it.

''You know I don't Alec.  I'll be back before she comes out, don't worry.  I love you scruffy.''  Scruffy was his daughter's nickname for him since he didn't shave all his beard off.

''I love you too pussycat, when I get home tonight I want to talk to you about something.''

''I look forward to it.''  Then she whispered in his ear, ''Hope it involves me, you and lots of sex.''

''Naturally pussycat, doesn't it always?  See you later.  I love you Rose.''

''I love you too Alec.''

They never parted without telling each other that, in Alec's line of work, they never knew what could happen and the worse was about to happen although neither of them knew it.  Claire Ripley was going through a bad time, her husband, Lee Ashworth had been accused of killing a twelve year old girl and kidnapping a nineteen year old woman, both cousins and Alec's ex wife Tess, had arrested him and Claire had given him an alibi and he had got off but he had disappeared to France somewhere, with the excuse they should keep apart until it all blew over.

Claire had sold the salon and was wondering what to do with herself and decided leaving Sandbrook was her best option so she had moved to a small village just outside Broadchurch called Abbotsbury and had learned the local Police had an DI by the name of Hardy.  She was interested and learned it was the same man her apprentice Rose Tyler had gone off with after they had a daughter together and he had got a promotion and since she still blamed Tess Henchard for Lee going off, she couldn't help but try to get even with the DS even though she and Hardy were divorced and he had taken her best stylist away after getting her pregnant.  She was hatching her plan as Rose collected her daughter at the end of her first morning and Claire was watching from across the playground as Rose and Kelly walked the short distance home.  Claire's salon had gone into decline after Rose had left three years ago and Claire was now blaming her for it so she was going to get her revenge and kill two birds with one little girl.
Chapter 2
Rose and Kelly were laughing as Alec came home that evening, Kelly was bursting with excitement over her first day at school, how she had made a new friend called Becky but wanted to know why her other friend, Fred, Ellie Miller's youngest couldn't go with her as well and Rose had tried to explain he was too young to go yet.  She had made a drawing and told Rose it was daddy standing by his police car. She was the envy of the class that her dad was the town's lead detective and been asked how many times she had ridden in his police car. She had to make it up of course, Alec had a plain car but wouldn't let her in a squad car anyway.

She had rushed to greet him when he walked into the kitchen, jumping on him and he picked her up.

''Hey my little princess, how was school?''

''It was great daddy, I made lots of friends when I told them who you were.  I made you a picture.  Mummy, show him my picture.''

Rose held it up and put his daughter down, then putting his arm around Rose as he studied the picture, he noticed the beard was a bit too long.

''Kelly sweetheart, my beard is not as long as that, is it?''

Kelly laughed.  ''Mummy said your beard tickles when you kiss her.''

Rose looked at her daughter.  ''Tell-tale Kelly.  Why don't you wash your hands for tea while I find out how much daddy's beard tickles?''

Alec was already kissing Rose's neck.  ''Yuck Daddy, mommy doesn't like that, do you?''

Alec looked around from snogging his ever gorgeous partner who looked just as good to him as the day he had met the shy hairdresser four years ago and he still loved her just as much and tonight, when their daughter had gone to bed, he was going to ask her something really important.  They had never discussed getting married, it never seemed important to either of them.  Kelly had his name, something Rose had insisted on before she was even born and now, they had become officially partners with Rose named as his next of kin in everything legal and for his police benefits.

''Well young lady, there are two choices, I do it to mommy or I come and tickle you.''

Alec let go and Rose smiled as he crept over to the kitchen sink where Kelly was standing on her stool waiting for someone to turn on the water for her.

''No Daddy, no, get mummy, she does like it.  You're a scruffy.''

Alec picked her up and swung her around then put her back on the stool and ran the water for her, showing her how to wash her hands, putting the liquid soap on.

''You finish up while I get mummy again.''

''Ah, Ah, scruffy, I'm getting the food out, you can tickle me some more later.''

Rose turned towards the oven and Alec tapped her behind.  ''Always Rose, don't you forget it.''

After they both put their daughter to bed, they relaxed on the sofa and Alec had more than one thing to say to Rose as he pulled her top up and began kissing the soft parts of her, pulling up the cups of her low cut bra and taking his time.

''Do I really tickle you?''

''Mmm but in a really good way.  You said you had something to discuss, I hope you mean s.e.x 'cos that I'm very interested in except for the talking about it bit, less talk detective and a lot more action if you don't mind.''

She unfastened his shirt and slid it over his shoulders.  There was no fear of Kelly coming down to disturb them, they made good use of the baby listening device that their daughter knew she only had to call for them and they would be right there, Alec usually getting there first as his legs could carry him two steps at a time where their baby was concerned.  She was still his baby to him, she always would be, Kelly was his life and soul next to Rose and Daisy who he loved equally but Daisy was getting older and came down during the holidays as often as she could but she had exams next year so it wouldn't be as often as they all liked.

Kelly loved her big step-sister coming to visit, she also loved it when nanna Jackie came down to see her and they would all go out down to the harbour and catch crabs and watch Jackie squirm at the sight of them that Alec would accidentally let one wander onto her legs and she would chase him halfway down the slipway and everyone would be watching and laughing at the detective being chased by his mother-in-law.

Ellie and her boys often joined them while her husband and Alec went off for a drink at the pub nearby then they would all go back to Ellie's for a barbecue and Beth and her family would come over on some Sunday afternoons, Beth often saying to Rose she would love to have another baby.

Alec was now well and truly gone as he pulled his partner's underwear down slowly, taking his time kissing across her tummy as she ruffled his hair.

''Alec,'' Rose gasped as he got to kiss her right where she loved him to as she lost her underwear and curled up slightly.  ''You'd better hope your daughter doesn't decide now is the time she wants a drink or teddy is telling her he wants to play and make noises.''

''Rosie baby, she's your daughter as well you know, she wouldn't be here without you my love.''

''I know babe, you know, maybe it's time we thought about having a little brother or sister for Kelly to grow up with.  I know you and Daisy grew up on your own and so did I, let's not make it the same for our daughter.  What do you think, scruffy?''

''How did you know that was what I wanted to talk to you about?  That's exactly what I was going to suggest.  We'd have to move but maybe we can still afford it if you go back to work for a few months and we still have all Kelly's baby things in the loft.  We can look around for somewhere that's about the same rent, I should get a bigger allowance from the police.  So what to you think?  Come off the pill next time?''

Rose put her arms around her partner, her soul mate.  She had never loved a man the way she loved Alec Hardy.  He was a good, kind man and a loving father to both their daughter and Daisy and she had felt so sorry for him when they had first met that his ex wife had betrayed him and stopped him seeing Daisy.  Now Daisy was part of their family even though she lived a few hours away, they would drive up when they could if she couldn't come to see them.

Before either of them knew it, they were making love on the sofa, a blanket now wrapped around them in case Kelly did make it down the stairs after teddy had dared her to and as Rose reached the point of no return, so did Alec.

''Mmm, I love you scruffy and yes, I want another baby with you, as soon as we can.''

''I love you too pussycat, let's get in plenty of practice then.''

Three days later, it was Thursday morning, Rose was getting ready for Alec to drop them at school and then Rose was going to work from nine thirty to eleven thirty which gave her time to walk back in time to wait for Kelly to come out at lunch time.  They had talked about Rose doing extra hours once the girl went full time and Rose's boss had agreed she could do another two hours a day and they would work something out for the school holidays but Ellie had suggested since her husband watched young Fred, it would be no problem for him to look after Kelly at the same time so Rose and Alec were considering it.

Alec always now got them there early to avoid parking on the zig-zag lines by the school crossing and always got out of the car to kiss Rose and his daughter goodbye.

''Bye princess, you have a good time today, ok?  What did daddy tell you?''

The girl looked up at her impossibly tall father, she probably thought he was as tall as a tree.

''I know Daddy, you told me.  Only you or mummy meets me and not to go with anyone else except Auntie Ellie or Auntie Beth or a police man or woman and only if Miss Carter tells me it's ok.  Did I get it right Daddy?''

Alec bent down and picked his daughter up.  ''That's right princess now give me a kiss.''  He turned and she kissed his cheek.

He held onto the girl's hand while he kissed Rose goodbye.  ''You have a good day too, I'll see you both tonight, maybe we'll go for a walk on the beach before tea, ok you two?''

He got a yes from the both of them and giving Rose one last kiss, told her he loved her and got into his car.  Someone was watching from across the road.  Claire had got an early bus up to the Broadchurch infants school that was attached to the junior school and she had watched the last few mornings, seeing Hardy kiss his daughter and then his girlfriend goodbye, Claire knew the two of them had never married.  She also knew with Hardy being a detective, he would have drilled it into his daughter not to leave the school with just anyone and had seen Rose arrive five minutes before the new arrivals had been collected at lunchtime.

She had noted that the girl, whom she now knew was called Kelly, was always talking to another girl of the same age and the other girl's mother always got there early and sometimes took her daughter away early and Kelly had looked disappointed when her friend left.  Maybe the girl would get tempted to go after them and then she would follow them.  Even if it meant she had to come up every day, it would be worth it but she didn't want to get caught and if she was challenged outside, she would say she was waiting for a friend.

She had seen Hardy pick his daughter up after talking to her, probably making sure the girl always waited for one of them but kids were kids and the girl would be easily swayed once outside the school grounds.  Maybe Hardy had only told the girl about inside the school playground.  Claire went off and decided to find out where Rose went.  Maybe she had got herself another job or simply going shopping but Claire then spotted her former employee going into a hair salon and surmised she had got herself another job.  Luckily for Claire, there was a cafĂ© opposite so she went in and ordered a latte and waited for Rose coming out but by eleven, Claire was getting bored and knowing it was about a fifteen minute walk to the school, decided to set off walking and see if the girl did actually come out early and wait.

Claire also knew how busy the teacher and her assistant could get at lunch time, organising those who were being collected and with it being a new term, determining who was who and relying on the children to recognise their parents or relatives that were collecting them.  Claire knew enough about Rose to tell the girl all sorts of believable tales, she even knew a little bit about Hardy as Rose had always talked non-stop about him – her hero, rescuing her from mundaying life and whisking her off to the coast to live happily ever after with their baby daughter.

Claire felt jealous, she always had been, Lee had never wanted kids, why would he when they could borrow Pippa from next door and send her back when they'd had enough?  Pippa had practically moved in with them, she had shown the girl how to do her hair and put some make-up on, her mother was too drunk to notice most days towards the end and her father hardly came home.  Then Lee had betrayed her with Pippa's older cousin and that was the end of it but she didn't regret her part in it all, it had to be done, Lee was her husband and wives didn't let their husband's get arrested especially when someone else had started it all.

She and her next door neighbour held each other's secrets that could never be told, it was mutually agreed, if one told on the other.  Claire spotted a woman she recognised as the other girl's mother Kelly had been talking to the day before and the woman opened the door to go inside, probably to catch a word with the teacher or something.  She could sneak inside, pretend she was looking for a niece or nephew and pretending she had got the wrong classroom, everyone was new, it wouldn't seem suspicious as long as she mentioned no names.

Clare entered the cloakroom, the woman who had gone in before her was standing around looking at her phone and nodded to Claire.

''You new here too?'' the woman asked, putting her phone in her pocket.

Claire just smiled and nodded.  ''Yeah, hope I've got the right place, I'm collecting my niece for her mum who got held up at work.''

There, she had established an alibi if she had to come back, the woman would be gone and forget about it.  The girl she recognised as the woman's daughter waved at her mother from the open classroom door as the teaching assistant lined those up who were going home.  Good, Claire thought, she probably didn't know who Kelly's mother was.  A few minutes later, the other girl was told she could go since her mother was there, Kelly was holding her friend's hand and laughing.

''My mummy is taking me to the park Kelly, can you come with us?''

Kelly looked around for her mum, Rose had indeed got caught up with an awkward customer and had only just left, hoping desperately she wouldn't be late but the teaching staff wouldn't just let her daughter leave until she got there and she would just make it for twelve.  She thought of calling Alec but if he was out, he wouldn't make it either and she could always hail a cab if she found herself further delayed so Rose had quickened her pace and hurried along the road out of town.

Kelly went forward with Becky, the teaching assistant was trying to stop two boys from pushing each other and Kelly followed her friend, recognising her coat.

''Hello Kelly, where's your mum?'' Becky's mother asked her.

Claire saw her chance.  ''Oh, it's ok, I was waiting for Kelly.  Do you want to go with your friend to the park?''

The girl nodded eagerly, grinning at her friend.

''You remember me don't you Kelly?  Your Auntie Claire from where you used to live, your mummy and I are cousins.''

The girl thought the woman looked vaguely familiar, Rose used to take her to Claire's salon for her hair cutting before they had left for Broadchurch.

''Yes Auntie Claire.  Can we go now?''

Becky and her mother were leaving and no-one was taking any notice since the two boys were taking some pulling apart and Claire took the girl's hand and followed the other woman.  Becky was looking back for her friend as they walked to the back of the school and across the playing fields to the park behind the school and calling Kelly's name and both girls laughed and headed for the swings as soon as the playground gate closed behind them.  Claire made sure to sit apart from the other woman so she wouldn't have to answer any awkward questions and smiled at the girl when she wanted her swing pushing and got up.

Rose got there just on the dot of twelve and searched for her daughter's coat, not seeing it she assumed the teacher had put it on Kelly pending her arrival.  She looked in the classroom since no-one was waiting outside as usual and saw Miss Carter.

''Hi, where's Kelly?''Rose asked.

''Oh, is she not with you Miss Tyler?  Miss Stevens was with her and Becky about five minutes ago but two boys were pushing each other around and she came to help me pull them apart.  I think Becky's mother was there.  Miss Stevens, have you see Kelly Hardy?''

''She was here five minutes ago, holding Becky's hand and laughing then I said Becky could go with her mother and then I came to help you.  There was another woman there but I never saw Kelly leave with anyone.''

Rose had burst past the two women and frantically searching for her daughter. Miss Carter was going around asking the other children if they had seen Kelly and other parents were taking their children away, wondering what was going on.  Miss Stevens went to check the girls bathroom but no-one was inside and Miss Carter picked up her desk phone and called the head teacher.  Rose burst out into the playground, shouting Kelly's name at the top of her voice and other parents were looking around, some asking Rose if she was looking for her daughter.

One woman came up to her.  ''I saw two women more or less follow each other about ten minutes ago, I was just coming in the gate when I saw them walk around the back of the school, each with a little girl, the girl in front was looking behind her at the other one, I assumed their mother's were taking them to the park together.''

''Where's the park?''

''Go around the back of the school, across the playing field and it's at the end.  Oh my word, was one of them your daughter?  I am so sorry, I really had no idea, both girls looked perfectly ok.''

Rose had her phone out as the head teacher was making her way across the playground towards her, followed by Miss Carter.  Rose asked the woman if she could stay while she called her partner, Kelly's dad at the Police Station.  The woman nodded.

Alec answered after three rings.  ''Hello sweetheart, everything ok?  Miss me already?''

''Alec get to the school now and bring whoever you can with you, Kelly is missing.''

The phone went dead and tears were streaming down Rose's face as she told the head teacher to tell the police and Alec when they arrived she had gone to find her daughter and headed off in the direction of the park.

Alec hung up in silence, stunned.  Ellie noticed him staring at his phone as he stopped to think for a minute then he yelled, ''Miller, get every available unit to the infants school – now.  My daughter has gone missing.''
Chapter 3
Claire led the young girl into the kitchen of her rented cottage.  Her money was running out, the place cost her £400 a month and she had no job but if Lee came back he could get odd jobs to support them.  She made the girl some fishfingers and beans then went into the living room switching the local TV station on.  It had been just over an hour and she was expecting to see something about the girl being missing very soon, they must be surely searching for her by now.  No-one had seen her sneak the girl in, well she hoped no-one had.

''You ok in there sweetheart?'' she called to the girl.

''Yes Auntie Claire.  When's my mummy finishing work?''

''Soon I expect, she knows where you are, I just sent her a message to say I'd brought you here.''

The girl got down from the chair and went to sit by who she thought was a friend of her mum.  Her mum had lots of friends and she had lots of aunties and uncles though she suspected they weren't real ones but that was what she had to call them when they came to visit.  She liked Auntie Ellie the best though.  Claire was sending a message to Lee, who was still over in France so that was going to use up her credit so she had told him to call her.  The phone rang and so switching the TV to the cartoons, she patted the girl on the head and went into the kitchen.

''What is it now Claire?  I thought we'd agreed to leave it a bit longer?''

''I need you to come back.  Remember Tess Hardy?''

''Of course I remember that bitch, she locked me up.  What about her?''

''Remember that woman who used to work for me, she went off with Tess's ex husband, Alec?  Rose was my best hairdresser, it was all her fault the business went down.  Well they're both in Broadchurch, just up the road and I sort of borrowed their daughter.''

''What?  That girl must be fifteen by now, are you crazy?''

''No, not her, Rose had a baby daughter when they left Sandbrook, she's three now.  I took her from the school before her mum came to collect her.''

''Claire, you are completely mad, do you know what they'll do if they find her with you?''

''Relax.  No-one knows it was me, come back Lee, we can be a family again.''

''Now I know you're mad Claire, after what happened with Pippa?''

''That was different and you know it.  I was protecting you, cleaning up after you like I always did and I still love you, despite what you did to Lisa.  Come back Lee.''

''I'll think about it, maybe.  You'll just get tired of her, then what?  Do the same again?''

''I won't get tired of her, she's so sweet Lee, you'll love her.''  Claire knew full well how much her husband loved young girls but this one, he wouldn't be able to just hand back.

Back at the Broadchurch Police Station, Rose was getting frantic two hours after their daughter's disappearance.  She had lost count of how many cups of coffee people had offered her and Ellie kept glancing over now and then and smiling at her.  Alec had gone out to join the search for his daughter after the missing leaflets got circulated and the local paper had got involved.  Someone reported seeing a woman and a girl waiting at a bus stop around twelve thirty near the woods but didn't take much notice, they thought the young girl may have been Kelly but there were two or three buses served that road, it was impossible to guess which one and where they had got off.

Alec knew the longer it went on, the less chances there was they would see their daughter again.  He had worked missing child cases before and they rarely ended happily enough for him.  The lucky one's were traumatised for a long time after their return but Kelly was younger than most kidnap victims he had dealt with.

He called Rose again around four to tell her what he had just been told.

''Rose, sweetheart, don't get upset but she may have been taken on a bus somewhere though we have no idea which one.  I'm getting someone onto the bus company to announce to all drivers to be on the lookout for her and getting someone to check with drivers who have reached their destinations to see if they remember her.  We know which direction she was being taken in so that narrows it down slightly.  How are you holding up?''

''Me?  Peachy.  I should call my mum, she deserves to know.''

''If it makes you feel better.  I'm going to call the chief, if she's out of the area, it should go on the TV and radio. Rose, we'll find her, I know we will.  This is not another Sandbrook but I'm going to call Tess, she's had the experience with this and Daisy needs to know.''

''Ok, if you think you should.  Are you coming back soon?''

Alec didn't want to but it would do no good, it was almost four hours now.  ''I'm coming back in now.  Hang on Rose, don't give up.  I love you sweetheart, you know that.''

''I know that Alec, I love you too.  She'll be ok, won't she?''

Alec wanted to say yes. ''Of course she will Rose.''

Alec got into the squad car and called Tess.  She wasn't happy to hear from him but when he told her why he was calling, she relented.

''I'm sorry Alec, what can I do to help?''

''I'll tell Daisy, just any advice you can give me, you handled Sandbrook, I'm thinking this all may have something to do with it.''

''What?  Seriously?  You weren't involved with it in any way.''

''I know that but I was married to you, you hauled a lot of people in Tess, some of them may have held a grudge.  What about that main suspect you had?''

''Lee Ashworth?  He's out of the country and I'd know if he was back.  His wife disappeared, she was too afraid he'd come back and get her for testifying against him.''

''Well that's out then.  I'm on my way back to the station, Rose won't go home.''

''I can't say I blame her.  Alec, I'm really sorry, I know we've had our differences but I would never wish this on you.  I'll make enquires about Ashworth, see if he's sneaked back in without me knowing and I'll try to find out where his wife, Claire went to.''

''Thanks Tess.  I'll call Daisy.''

Alec never put the pieces together that Claire was the name of Rose's old boss, he'd never even known the woman was married, he and Rose never socialised with her.

Alec pulled the blinds over in his office and went to comfort Rose, she buried her head in his shoulders and cried.  He let her.

''Rose, I've spoken to Tess, this could be related to her old case, the suspect who got away, the one she thought had killed that twelve year old girl and the older one going missing, you remember?''

Rose looked up and put her arms around his neck.

''Yeah, what has that got to do with it?  You had no part in that.''

''Yes but if he knows I was once married to Tess, he might be out to get his revenge. Rose, what was the name of your old boss again?''

Rose pulled away from him.  ''Claire Ripley, why?''

Alec shook his head.  No, not unless she had got divorced and had been using her maiden name or what if she had kept her name for professional reasons?  He didn't want to upset Rose further by suggesting anything just yet.  He got his phone out again, maybe Ashworth had nothing to do with this after all.

''Tess, this wife of your suspect, what name did she go by?''

''What are you getting at Alec?  Hang on a second.''

''Rose, this Claire, I vaguely remember her from when I used to come in, did she ever mention she was married?''

Rose tried to dry her eyes.  Their daughter was missing and he thought Claire had something to do with it?

''I never asked, she never mentioned it, we never got personal.''

Tess came back on the line.  ''Alec, she went under the name of Claire Ripley.''

''Hold on Tess.  Rose, Claire Ripley was the wife of the main suspect in the Sandbrook case.  She knows Kelly from when she was a baby.''

Rose collapsed on the leather sofa.

''Did I hear you right Alec?  Rose knows her?''

''Yes, she was Rose's boss at the salon she worked in.''

''Claire Ripley left Sandbrook after she agreed to testify against her husband, that much you already know but if she knows Rose and possibly blames her for her salon going under, who knows what the woman is capable of?  She's had all this time to plan her revenge.''

Rose was crying again, tears flowing down her cheeks.  How could her old boss do such a thing?  Alec was at a loss what to say to her.

''Thanks Tess, you'll let me know if you find out where she went?''

''Of course I will Alec.  Tell Rose I am really sorry this has happened.  That woman was totally unstable when she left here, she changed her alibi for Ashworth a few times but I don't think she would hurt a child, she was never suspected of helping her husband, if indeed he was actually guilty.  If you find her, I want a word with her when you've finished with her, she might be more willing to talk about Sandbrook.''

''Oh believe me Tess, you won't get her for a while, not until I've finished with her.''

Ellie knocked on the door and Alec shouted for her to come in.  He was holding a tearful Rose again as she sobbed into his chest.  Ellie looked at the two of them and wondered why Hardy was showing such restraint, she had seen a tear in his eye as he had chosen a photo of his daughter, he worshipped the ground Kelly walked on, the young girl and Rose were his life.

''Sir, we just had a call, from a bus driver on the Exeter to Dorchester route, he got back to the depot and saw a poster we had sent out and he thought he recognised her.  He said a woman with a young girl got on his bus just after twelve thirty and asked for one adult ticket to Abbotsbury, that's not that far away but he remembers because the woman took the girl upstairs, which is unusual since it's awkward for a youngster but the bus goes through a couple of other places but he also remembered the bell rang and it took them a bit of time getting downstairs, the woman telling her to hurry up.  He did remember her because she spoke with a Welsh accent.''

''It's Claire, she's Welsh.''  Rose got up.  ''Well come on, let's get down to Abbotsbury then.''

She was out of the door before Alec or Ellie could stop her.  It was now getting on for five, Kelly had been missing almost five hours.

''Miller, get every available unit down there now and have them go house to house through the village.  Someone might know her – the woman's name is Claire Ripley.  Then get onto the local radio and have them give out we believe a missing child had been taken there but don't have them give out any names, just for anyone who has seen a non-resident of the village with a young girl.  No on second thoughts, forget the radio, she might move Kelly before we get down there.''

Rose was waiting outside for Alec, she would go on her own if she had to but what could she do?  Alec had to give instructions if they wanted to get their daughter back.  He soon joined her and they went down in the lift to find a car waiting for them, Alec choosing to get in the back for a change despite there being less room but Rose needed him, holding her hand tightly as they followed two more squad cars, others were already on their way.  They met in the car park at the centre of the village and Alec was given a map and more leaflets had been printed.

Ellie organised the units into groups but soon, people returning to their cars were curious as to what was going on and volunteered to search the surrounding area. Rose thanked them and went to sit in the back of the car they had ridden in.  Alec got another call from Tess.

''Sorry Alec, we got nowhere trying to find out where Claire has gone, she had very few friends here.  We even went to see Cate Gillespie, the mother of Pippa and she didn't know where Claire had gone, not that she knows much, she was well out of it. Claire used to rent a house next door.''

''We got a lead, we're down in Abbotsbury, a bus driver thinks he recognised Kelly and he said the woman who she was with had a Welsh accent.''

''Then it has to be Claire, there can't be that many people from Wales around that part of the country.  Are you doing house to house?''

''Yes, we've got six units and there are some coming up from Dorchester.  It's not that big a village but there are a lot of tourist attractions around here and just because they got off the bus here, they could have just been to one and gone off again.''

''Maybe not Alec, if Claire wasn't working and she's paying rent somewhere, it will soon go, from what I've been told she sold up in a hurry, she may not have got the asking price for the shop and business.  I don't think it's even a hairdressers now, I don't go to that part of town much.  I should just concentrate on the village for now, maybe she rented a cottage or something there.  Are there any caravan sites near there?''

''Quite a few on the coast and inland.  Rose is getting frantic, she's crying again in the back of the car.  She wanted to go out and search the nearby areas, people who have been visiting the village are going out to the tourist attractions with leaflets to see if anyone has seen her, they've been really good but Rose is exhausted, emotionally, she's in no state to go out.''

The car park was near a pub, officers had already been in but no-one recognised her or heard a woman with a Welsh accent.  Alec had made arrangements with the pub landlord for people who had been searching to use the pub's washrooms when they came back from searching, he was only too happy to agree and wished Alec good luck.  Alec did not say it was his daughter that was missing.

In Claire's cottage, Kelly was watching cartoons when she said she was hungry again just after five thirty.  Claire wondered where the girl put it all and went to find a tin of soup she had bought, not the best thing to give a growing child but it had vegetables in it.  Kelly had asked again where her mummy was.

''Auntie Claire, if my mummy is still working then where's daddy?  Can I talk to him?''

''Sorry sweetheart, I don't have your daddy's number but I just called your mum, she says she won't be long, eat your soup before it goes cold, ok?''

''Can I have some water Auntie Claire?''

Police units were now on the outer edges of the village limits, there were not all that many areas still to cover.  Rose had tried to describe Claire as best as she could remember but all officers now knew she had a welsh accent, a key factor that would make the woman stand out.  Alec had given instructions that if any such woman answered the door, to keep her talking long enough to make sure of the accent and not to try to gain entry to the house without his say so, then if she was located, Ellie would approach the woman again and try and gain entry to the house.

Alec also said that if Ellie was refused access, then they had the right person and the chief would apply for a search warrant but at getting on for seven in the evening, was going to prove somewhat difficult but they had one advantage – someone who didn't need a warrant to go into a house to look for a child, her child. He didn't want to put Rose in danger but once she had gained entry, it would be easy to get himself and Miller in with backup and seize the woman.

Rose had tearfully agreed and asked if anyone had been able to gain Claire's phone number, she had tried her old one but it was disconnected.

''I'm sorry sweetheart, we checked the phone companies but if she's on a pay and go tariff, they don't have to be registered, they are already activated when you first make a call, it's all changed now.''

He knew she was now getting desperate and so was he, it had been seven hours but if indeed it was the same Claire, he didn't think somehow she would hurt his daughter.  Maybe it had been a spur of the moment thing but how did she know who Kelly was and where she would be?  The girl had only just started school and they had been lucky to get her in since her 4th birthday was a week away.  They had planned to take her to the fun centre just down the coast on the Saturday and have a little party for her on the actual day, Thursday.

Rose's mother was coming down and staying until Sunday, something he didn't mind since Rose didn't see her that often and he got on reasonably well with who was virtually his mother-in-law – well apart from when he accidentally dropped crabs on her leg instead of in Kelly's clear bucket and she would chase him down the pier, Kelly would shriek with delight when he did that.

He felt a tear in his eye at the thought and looked over at the car.  Rose was getting out, pointing to the pub and he nodded for Ellie to go with her.  He didn't want her in there alone, he knew she would break down once she was away from him.  Ellie caught up with her.

''Hey Rose, I could use a visit myself.  How are you holding up sweetheart?''

''I'm not really.  I had to call my mum and tell her.  Maybe Alec should put it on the news?''

''It's not a good idea Rose, if this Claire isn't actually in the village, she could move again.  Let him handle it, he knows what he's doing, there's no way he will stop until he gets her back.''

When Jackie Tyler had got a call around four and learned her granddaughter was missing, she was straight on the phone to Mickey, Rose's ex boyfriend and he had agreed to drive her down even though it was over a hundred miles away.  Mickey reckoned they should get there around six thirty, depending on traffic.

Rose's phone rang when she was leaving the ladies room with Ellie.

''Rose, I'm nearly there.''

''Where Mum?''

''In Broadchurch, where else would I be going?  Mickey's driving me.''

''Mum, we're not in Broadchurch, tell Mickey to turn off for Abbotsbury and follow the sign for parking, I'll tell the officers on the entrance to the car park to let you in. Has Mickey still got the black mini?''

''Yes and I don't like it much either but it was that or the coach.''

Rose went to find Alec and told him.  He called an officer over and told them if an old black mini came along to let it in.

''Alec, how many houses are left around here?'' Rose asked wearily.

''Sweetheart, there's all the outlying areas the bus route does not cover, they could have walked from the main road, there are a lot of holiday cottages.  We've got almost thirty officers now, we're asking people who are coming back to their cars at the tourist attractions, showing them Kelly's photo.''

He put his arms around her and she clung hold of him.  ''Mum should be here soon, she must have set off just after I called her.''

''Well she would not just sit at home waiting for news, I can see you take after her.''

He didn't care they were in the middle of a crowded car park, he leaned down to kiss her long and hard.  Rose buried her head in his shoulders and they stood there, just holding each other for a few more minutes, people not even bothering.  The volunteers and officers from out of town had seen Rose and surmised Alec was the missing girl's father even though he had been careful not to let on.

Chapter 4
People were coming back into the car park on foot, all looking at Rose and Alec standing beside a squad car, holding onto each other.  Some asked Ellie if the man was the girl's father, they knew about Rose, she had been thanking people who said they would go out looking for her daughter.  Ellie saw nothing wrong in admitting Hardy was Kelly's father and the lead investigator, it was natural the man would stop at nothing to get his own daughter back but Ellie told people he would do the same for anyone's child.

Claire had sent another text to Lee, begging him to come over.  He had sent one back saying he would decide in the morning and get a ferry back if he was coming and told her she was a stupid cow for pulling such a stunt.  Claire had smiled.  Kelly was getting tired and falling asleep in front of the TV.

''Auntie Claire, my mummy's a long time getting here, how long will she be?''

Claire surmised it was nearing the girl's bedtime, it was seven thirty.

''I just got a message, she said since you seemed to be having fun here, why don't you sleep over?  Would you like that sweetheart?  You are having fun watching the cartoons after all.  I'll make you some warm milk and then you can sleep in the spare room and then in the morning, your daddy can drive down and get you but maybe Uncle Lee will get here first and we can take you out before they get here.  OK?''

The tired girl just nodded.  She knew her parents loved her, her dad told her a dozen times a day and would playfully rub his beard across her chin and make it tickle and her mum always put some cream on her chin afterwards and pretend to smack his arm and they would all laugh.  Kelly was getting too tired to ask any more questions.

''Come on sweetheart, let's get your hands and face washed, we'll have to go get you a toothbrush in the morning when Uncle Lee gets here.  You can have the day off school tomorrow, I'll get your mummy to call them.''

Ten minutes later in just her underwear, Kelly was curling up in the spare bed and was falling asleep.  It reminded Claire of when Pippa used to stay over and she would play with the girl's hair and hold her until she fell asleep.  Why did Lee never want kids of their own?  Maybe there was something wrong with him and he had never wanted to let on or maybe he was scared it would ruin their tempestuous love life. They were like wildfire when they were together.

Mickey was driving into Abbotsbury village car park just after seven having taken longer than he'd expected, getting caught in traffic around Dorchester and almost missing the turnoff and Jackie stopping to use the ladies room at a garage and taking her time as he filled the small petrol tank up with fuel.  He would have to give the car a rest before attempting to drive back, surely Rose would put him up for bringing her mother down when Jackie's granddaughter was missing?  Kelly might be Alec's child but Rose was his ex girlfriend and they had been close at one point until Rose left to move to Sandbrook and met Hardy.  He was jealous of the man whom Rose had committed to having a child with as he and Rose had never talked about kids or getting married and she still hadn't got married, choosing to just live with the man she claimed she loved.

Rose saw his familiar black mini being let in by officers who were only letting cars leave unless authorised by Ellie or Alec and Jackie was out of the car before Mickey had put on the handbrake.

''Rose!  Oh Rose, have they found my little angel yet?''

She threw her arms around her daughter and gave Alec a quick nod as if to say why the hell hadn't they told her sooner and why the hell hadn't he been there to pick his daughter up from the school if Rose was going to be late?  Rose had told her she got there dead on twelve but Kelly must have been gone a good ten minutes before she had got there.  It had been a fluke she'd had to stay behind but Rose never walked out on a client, even an awkward one but she'd had to get another girl to take the customer's money or she would have been even later.  Rose had called her boss to say what had happened but she already knew, it was all over Broadchurch High Street thanks to Olly Stevens.

''Mum, thank goodness you're here.  Mickey, thanks for bringing her.  You remember Alec don't you?''

Mickey nodded at Alec and held out his hand but Alec was not keen on Rose's ex boyfriend but since the present situation called for a truce, he was willing to instigate it.

''Mickey, thanks for bringing Jackie down, we appreciate it.''  Alec turned to Jackie. ''We've got thirty officers searching for Kelly, there are still volunteers searching the tourist attractions that are still open, they've given leaflets out to those leaving and asking if they pass Kelly or the woman we believe she's with on their way home to call Broadchurch Police Station.  We've set up a hotline for any calls and I'll get a call right away if she's spotted.  Kelly will be tired by now, whoever has her and we think we know who it is, maybe has her in a cottage or somewhere and will be letting Kelly go to sleep.''

Mickey spoke up.  ''What can I do to help?''  He was tired but he wouldn't rest now until Rose's daughter had been returned to her.

''Thanks, go see DS Miller over there, she'll tell you where we've already covered. Jackie, why don't you take Rose into the pub and get something to eat?  The pub landlord will look after you, he's spoken to Rose a few times.''

He got his wallet out and gave Jackie some money.  Rose shook her head.

''You need something too Alec, when did you last eat?''

He couldn't eat even though he'd only managed to grab a sandwich earlier which was more than he imagined Rose had.

''Never mind me, go on, even if it's only a snack.  I'll go talk to Miller and come and join you, I promise.''

Rose let go of her mother and into his open arms.  He kissed her again, Mickey looking back and seeing them in their embrace.  His jealousy returned but this was Rose's daughter that was missing, it was about her, not his feelings he still had for Rose even after all this time.  She would never give up this man she was with now.

Rose allowed her mother to lead her into the pub, which was quite busy with people having a drink and something to eat after being out for hours searching for Kelly.  A lot had moved their cars to allow the Police more room but they all looked up as Rose walked in supported by whom they supposed was her mother and they walked up to the bar.  The landlord himself went across to serve them and gave them the menu.

''Mrs Hardy?''

Rose didn't correct him, she was too tired.

''How's the search going, any news yet?''

Jackie spoke for her, not bothering to correct the man either, they'd get married sooner or later, maybe sooner once Kelly was reunited with them.

''There are still people out looking for her, thanks for asking.  How long will the food take?'' Jackie asked.

He spoke directly to Rose.  ''I'll make yours a priority.  Will your husband be joining you, he's never stopped once, well I did actually see him come in at one point but that was hours ago, he still has to eat and so do you.  You must be both exhausted.  If it helps, we have rooms here, if you'd like to have a rest, you and your husband.''

Alec came to join them having been virtually shoved inside the pub by Miller.

''Thanks for your offer Mr James.  Rose, why don't you and your mother have something to eat and then you go have a rest?''

He knew she was exhausted from all the crying she had been doing.  The landlord then noticed Rose was not wearing a wedding ring but the way she looked at Alec, he knew they didn't need to be, it was only a piece of paper, they were married in their own minds.  Alec ordered food for the three of them, making sure he got something light for the two of them, Rose's mother could eat a horse at times.  They found an unoccupied table in the corner, away from prying eyes and Jackie went off to the ladies room, Alec put his arm around his partner.

''Have something to eat love, then go have a rest, please?''

''How can I Alec?  My baby's out there somewhere, how can I rest?  How could Claire do this to us, I worked for her all that time, we were friends, she was the one that saw you come in the salon that day, it should have been someone else who cut your hair but she delayed me taking the man in front of you.  She's partly the reason we got together and she never even let on she was married.''

''Rose, sometimes we don't know people as well as we think we do but that's not your fault, you were not to know.  Look at me Rose, I didn't see what was going on in my own house, Tess sneaking around and working late but if not for that, I wouldn't be with you, with our beautiful little daughter.  You and Kelly are my life Rose, we will get her back, I don't think Claire will hurt her.''

He didn't want to say that if Ashworth came back into the country, things may well change, if indeed he was responsible for killing a young girl and involved with the disappearance of another.  Jackie came back just as their food arrived, Alec thought trust her, his mother-in-law liked her food and he thanked the server for their prompt service, others who had ordered were still waiting but didn't complain at them being served before them, they thought the poor woman whose child was missing must be frantic.

As they finished eating a few people came over and shook Alec's hand and said they hoped he would find his daughter and Alec knew Miller must have said something but it was now after eight and it would be dark soon and they would have to scale things down for the night when it got to around ten, even the Police were mindful some people went to bed early and there were still houses on the furthest reaches of the village bordering onto the next and the outlying farms and cottages to be searched.  It was not looking hopeful Kelly would be found tonight and Rose knew that by the way she was looking at Alec.

Alec kissed Rose and went back outside.  Ellie had gone home exhausted, glad to get a ride back in a squad car and said for her to be alerted the minute they found the girl, no matter what time it was.  A few cars had gone, squad cars had been moved outside the village for officers to reach the furthest edges but the ones from Dorchester and a few that had come further had all gone back, Alec had thanked them personally before they had left.

Mickey had come back and Alec told him to go get something to eat and that Rose was still inside.

''Listen Alec,'' Mickey said to him.  ''I know how much Rose means to you and Kelly and I want you to know, I'm not going back until you find her.  She's Rose's daughter and that's good enough for me.  Are you going to take her home?''

''Thanks Mickey but she won't go home.  The pub landlord offered her a room here.  If no-one has found Kelly before ten, we'll have to scale back, leave a few units in the car park and have them do patrols of the area around the bus stop where they got off earlier, to see if the woman makes a move to go back towards Broadchurch but the last one will be passing through soon, a unit is already watching.  We think it's a woman called Claire but I doubt she'll bring Kelly out at this time of night.''

''Maybe she'll get wind the police are in the area and stay indoors.  If she's in a B&B, someone will notice in the morning, surely?''

''We've covered most of them and parents with young girls have been eliminated so it's looking like a holiday cottage or maybe a caravan.  We'll start the caravan sites first thing tomorrow when most of the village had been covered but it could be a caravan on a farm, the farms are way out but we'll get to them.  All the bus drivers will be on the lookout in the morning, Kelly's photo is going out to every driver.  I'm just glad the woman didn't have a car or she could be anywhere in the country right now.''

Alec was feeling tired himself.  Kelly had been excited that morning, the novelty of school and she had chatted non-stop over breakfast that he had hardly read his paper.  Not that he had minded, he loved listening to her.  How could he take Rose back home to their empty house?  He went back inside the pub, Jackie was on her own, the pub mostly empty now.  It was almost ten as he sat down at the table and Jackie took his hand.

''How are you doing Alec, you didn't say much, it's not like you.''

''I just want my baby girl back and to take her home Jackie.  Did Rose ever go missing when she was younger?''

Jackie smiled at her almost son-in-law who was almost her own age.  Why Rose had taken up with a man ten years older than her she had never known but Rose loved him, that was what mattered the most.

''Not for long, a few hours maybe when she went to a friend's flat without telling me but nothing involving a full scale search and you have done everything you possibly could to get your daughter back.  I pity that poor woman who took our baby girl from us, when Rose gets her hands on her, old boss or not.''

''I know Jackie, I just don't want to have to charge my partner with assault or attempted murder but no judge would find her guilty, she's just a mother wanting her baby daughter back.''

Jackie squeezed his hand.  ''If anyone can get her back you can.''

Rose came back just as the landlord came over and Mickey came back from the bar having only just been able to assure himself a quick snack when he said he was with the detective and the missing youngster's mother.

''DI Hardy?  There's a room ready for you if you want it?  It's just a small room but you and your partner are more than welcome, no charge.  That way you'll be on hand first thing.''

''Thanks. Rose, you go up, I'm just going to finish outside before they all go.  Jackie, take my key and you and Mickey go to our house, it's only a 15 minute drive, you know where it is.  We'll see you in the morning.''

''We understand Alec.  Come on Mickey, it's not far.  Rose sweetheart, try to get some sleep ok?  I'll be back in the morning.''

Jackie took the key and gave Rose and Alec another hug then Alec took the key from the landlord and were shown the room.  It was small but with a double bed and a shared bathroom but all Rose wanted was to try and sleep for a few hours, she was close to collapsing.   After checking with the remaining units, Alec took his shirt and jacket off and hung them up with his suit trousers and took off his t-shirt, turning it inside out and offered it to Rose to wear in bed, she smiled at him and got undressed.

They wearily fell into bed, Rose sobbing quietly under the covers, trying to keep warm and Alec had tried unsuccessfully to get the heating to work and gave up, getting another blanket out of the small wardrobe.  Still, it was free, they could hardly complain.  They huddled together, there was no question that nothing was going to happen that night, they were both too upset and they had nothing to prove to each other.  They were both asleep by eleven, Alec setting his alarm for six thirty but was going to let Rose sleep a bit longer if she wanted to.

Jackie and Mickey had got to Rose and Alec's house, Jackie found a spare duvet and Mickey settled on the large sofa and Jackie getting him first to put the guest bed up in Kelly's room.  Not that Jackie wanted to sleep in the missing girl's room but she didn't want to sleep in Rose and Alec's bed either, even if they did wash the sheets regularly.

Claire meanwhile was pacing her bedroom, wondering why there had been nothing on the news or on the radio about the girl, who was fast asleep in the middle of the spare bed.  Maybe she should move the girl as soon as Lee arrived, if he was coming and they could move up the coast into Devon somewhere and live as a family.  She was sure he would agree to a ready made daughter if he wasn't actually involved in raising one from a baby or actually creating one.

Lee Ashworth had been wondering what the hell Claire had been thinking snatching Tess Hardy's ex husband's youngest daughter.  She was always a bit on the crazy side, that was why he loved her, that and the wild sex they always had. So he decided at first light he would get on his motorbike and head for the ferry terminal and get the first one out.  He would be in Dover in a few hours and would ride up to where Claire had told him she was living and see what all the fuss was about but it would be a few years before Claire could start grooming the girl, it might be worth the wait like it was with Lisa.

Rose thought she heard a noise when Alec's alarm went off.  He tried to get Rose to move off him gently but he still disturbed her.

''Shush love, go back to sleep.  I'm just going to call the station, see what time the units are coming down.''

''No, I'm awake now and you need your t-shirt back.  You use the bathroom first, slip your shirt on for now.  Alec, I'm sorry, for being late picking her up, it wasn't my fault I got held up but if I had gone off and left Mrs Price, she would have complained and I might have lost my job.  I had to slip out while she was getting her coat and scarf on.''

Alec took her back into his arms.  The room had warmed up now the sun was beginning to come through the thin curtains.

''Shush Rose, it's ok, it's not your fault.  You were there on time, you can't keep blaming yourself.  Claire was one step ahead of you.  I'm going to get a unit back to the school and ask around if anyone saw her hanging about over the last few days, she may have been watching you and maybe seen us dropping her off and you picking her up.''

''How can I not blame myself?  I should have got a taxi or called you, if I thought I would be late.''

''Come here.  I don't blame you, blame your customer if you want to blame anyone. I'll be paying a visit to her for keeping you and don't think I'm joking Rose.  If she hadn't been fussy, you would have been there and Claire would have backed off if she saw you.  That stupid customer of yours is going to get charged for the bill of getting all these extra units and all the manpower and extra hours they've had to put in.''

''You wouldn't would you?''

''Don't bet on it Rose, at the very least I'll haul her in and ask her if she thought her hairdo was more important than you picking up your daughter from school.  I hope her hair falls out.''

Rose cracked half a smile.
Chapter 5
''Rose, I'm going to have to call the local radio and TV stations now, I can't avoid it if nothing happens by midday.  You may be asked to be interviewed but I'll be there with you, I promise.  OK?''

Rose nodded and held onto him.  Alec got washed and dressed and made his way outside after calling the CS just as the first squad cars arrived, one blocking the entrance to allow them more room and to direct any visitors to other car parks.  The pub landlord laid on breakfast for Rose and Alec and wished them all the best and Alec said they were going to the media about it since they now had no alternative and for him to expect a lot of extra customers once he opened.  Alec then rang Miller who said she was already on her way and had got all the names of the caravan sites in the area and would organise the units once she got there.  More squad cars were arriving, Mickey and Jackie were up early, Mickey insisting they ate something and raiding Rose's fridge of eggs, sausages and bacon and the largest mug he could find full of tea.

Mickey was allowed in the car park again, Rose now sat in the back of a squad car and Olly Stevens from the Broadchurch echo had just arrived, Ellie allowing him in since he was her nephew though sometimes she felt like disowning him.  Rose got out of the car and she and Alec agreed to give a short interview on the understanding it didn't yet go to the national newspapers but he would get the exclusive when Kelly was found.

Kelly was waking up, Claire was making the girl some toast but was running out of food.  Lee had just rode off the ferry and was on his way up the coast, sending Claire a message and her telling him to call and get some basic groceries.  Claire looked at the girl, still in her school uniform.  Once Lee arrived, she would slip down to the superstore in Dorchester and get the girl some clothes but what she was going to do about school yet, she didn't know, they would wait until they got her out of the county but the girl knew her name, convincing her to change it was going to be tricky.

''Auntie Claire, has my mummy called yet?  Why aren't they coming for me?''

Claire smiled at the girl.  ''Well, Uncle Lee will be here soon then we'll go out and go down and see all the swans.  Would you like that?''

The girl nodded, not that she wanted to miss school but she loved swans, they were her favourite bird.  Claire thought a few hours down at the swannery would get the girl out and take her mind off asking where her parents were.  Lee had estimated he would be there around ten, it was quite a way from the ferry terminal.

On the advice of the chief super, Alec had decided to let her call the local radio station, to cover the surrounding towns and villages in case the woman was deciding to go anywhere.  Units were put in place at the visitor attractions, showing people a photo of Kelly as they started going in just after nine and telling people to dial the emergency number if they thought they had spotted her.

Jackie was sat with Rose in the back of the car, Alec had persuaded her that once the pub opened for business, they would be more comfortable inside and the landlord had agreed.  The local radio station arrived and Ellie allowed them into the car park but were told under no circumstances was it to be mentioned where they were interviewing Rose from, that was to be kept out of it or Alec would pull the plug on it right away.  He did not want Claire to know if she was actually listening.

The local TV station were alerted but asked not to broadcast anything just yet but a film crew were on standby for an interview, inside the pub so as not to give away the location.  The radio interviewer gave the signal she was ready for Rose and after telling the listeners briefly that the daughter of a local senior Police Officer and his partner had been missing for almost 24 hrs, Rose gave a tearful appeal for whoever had taken her out of school yesterday lunchtime to return her to the local Police Station in Broadchurch or call the number just given out with any information.

Alec added his own words, choking them back and careful just as Rose had been not to reveal where they were or whom they believed was responsible.

''To the person or persons who took our daughter from her school yesterday lunchtime, please, just return her to us and end this now.  Kelly is only three years old, she'll be four next week and she won't understand why she is not at home with her family.  Kelly darlin' if you are listening now sweetheart, tell the person who is looking after you that you just want to go home.  Your granny is with us, she came down when she found out you were missing and your mum and me, we miss you.  Whoever has our daughter, wherever you are, I will not stop until I get her back.  I will find whoever has taken her way from us, there will be no escape.''

Alec then added.  "We have police units and volunteers searching the county and I urge anyone who has recently rented out a caravan or a room to anyone with a young girl with them, please, call the local police station if you have any information.''

He had to give up, Rose was crying again as he put his arms around her and the female interviewer put her hand on his shoulder, it had been one of the most distressing interviews she'd had to ever conduct.  She promised Alec it would be broadcast with the next available news update in about fifty minutes time.  It was now just after nine and Rose thought she felt like she had been up all night as she climbed back into the car.  Alec was over with Ellie again, looking at caravan sites on the map and Ellie sending the extra units that had arrived from Dorchester again to the locations.

Claire was waiting Lee's arrival, Kelly was watching cartoons again after Claire promised her they would go out.  She went into the kitchen and put the radio on, to catch the news and heard Rose's voice just after ten, then Alec's promising whoever had his daughter, he would find them.  Claire smiled to herself and thought not likely, not once Lee arrived.  She would get him to sell his bike and buy a second hand car and they would be away by tomorrow, it sounded like the police didn't have a clue where she was, right away at the bottom of a track and the end cottage that was almost hidden from view, it looked like an extension to the cottage next door.

Just after eleven, Ellie allowed the TV crew into the car park and Rose and Alec went inside the pub, which was filling up as patrons used the other car park and were coming back to see if they could help again and the TV crew set up in a corner and motioned for Rose and Alec to come forward.  Normally, things would be held more formerly, police signs would be put up but his CS had just arrived and was talking to Ellie.  CS Jenkinson knew Rose well and came towards her as she clung to Alec, waiting to be interviewed.

''Rose, how are you holding up?  You don't have to do this, Alec and myself can handle it but I think it's best if you do, to let Alec do most of the talking.  If you feel the need to get up and leave then do, these things are very traumatic.  Before I left the station, the phones were ringing, people asking how they could help but I couldn't tell them which area to search, in case it was Kelly's abductor even though we know she's got a Welsh accent, we have to be careful.  Are you ready for this?"

More members of the press were now arriving at the CS's request, the more people who knew now the better but it had been her final decision yesterday to keep the press out of it for now so as not to alert the woman they were on to her.  Elaine stood in front of the cameras and explained what had happened yesterday lunchtime. Then she handed over to Alec and finally a now tearful Rose whom Alec had to now prop up.

Claire didn't see the broadcast just after eleven and was too busy wondering where Lee had got to.  He had arrived in the village to see car parks full of cars and police wandering around and he didn't want to be seen or DS Henchard would be on his tail.  He passed by a car park to find it blocked off and just squad cars then he saw media vans and thought the stupid cow had really blown it now.  He had a good mind to march up to them and tell them where she was hiding the girl.  She was three years old and he would have to wait far too long for Claire to groom her.  He drove past, trying to find the lane Claire had told him about and finally found it but as he turned in there was a police car parked halfway down.  He sat for a minute, deciding what to do.  They could have already knocked on her door but if they had, they would already have other units down here by now and Claire would be in the back of one of them.

He knew she wouldn't get out now and he was not going to get hauled in for interrogation again, especially after she had been stupid enough to kidnap a police detective's daughter.  He had heard of Alec Hardy through him being hauled in for questioning but Hardy had already moved away after divorcing his ex and getting some employee of Claire's pregnant.  He decided to cut his losses as two officers came out of the second cottage, it seemed they were getting serious if they were going inside and Claire was two doors away from getting caught.

Claire didn't deserve his help, her turning against him had got him dragged into court and if he hadn't got the stupid bitch to break into the car, he'd be inside instead of living quite happily in France with Jeanne, why had he been persuaded to come back and leave it all behind he didn't know.  Still, the dumb blonde he had left behind probably didn't even notice he had gone, it wasn't like they were exclusive, only when the mood took him and he looked her up.  He waited for the officers to go into the next house and turned around, heading back to Dover and never looked back.

Claire thought she heard a motorbike and thought he had taken his time getting there.  The girl was saying she was hungry again and so she had given her some cereal but used the last of the milk up so she couldn't have any coffee until Lee got there.  She tried to look out of the window but the cottage was set back, maybe he had parked up the lane so as not to alert anyone.  There wasn't even a back door to this place for him to sneak around to, only a side door that led either to the lane or the back garden and the back garden had hedges all the way around, there was no way in or out.

Kelly was at the kitchen table, kneeling on a chair and eating her cereal.  She didn't like it because there wasn't much milk on it.  Claire heard a knock on the door and thought Lee had finally got there but instead, two uniformed officers, a male and a female were standing there.  The woman spoke to her.  It wasn't quite midday yet.

''Good morning Madam, we're conducting house to house enquires about a missing three year old girl from the local area.  Do you live alone here?''

Claire wasn't sure she wanted to answer them.  ''Yes, for now, I'm waiting for my husband to join me here.  How can I help you?''

''We'd just like to ask you a few questions Madam, may we come in?''

Claire tried not to panic.  ''If it's all the same, you can ask me them out here, the place is in a mess.  What did you want to know?''

The WPC knew they had the right woman, the accent was so strong, there was no doubt.  She had seen Hardy's distraught partner earlier giving a tearful radio interview and this woman here was responsible for it but Hardy's instructions were clear, report back and leave it to him and DS Miller.  If the woman wouldn't invite them in, she had something to hide and they would need a search warrant.  The CS had a judge on standby already to sign when they got the address and it would take them about twenty minutes to get it here and the woman would not get out of the house.

Both officers knew now it was just the matter of getting the warrant but the child's mother was only a few minutes away, she wouldn't wait that long and she didn't need one like they did, none of the officers would charge Rose for forcing her way in to get to her child.  The WPC got her notebook out and went through the questions she had asked at all the other houses they had been to and Claire answered them. WPC Peters was sure she heard a child saying something inside but gave no indication and thanked Claire for her time.

Claire closed the door and stood behind it, seeing Kelly coming out of the kitchen and being thankful she had not appeared two minutes ago.  Were those officers suspicious?  She tried to look out of the window but saw nothing, the girl was tugging on her tunic.

''Auntie Claire, when are we going out, where's mummy?''

''Soon sweetheart, as soon as Uncle Lee gets here.''

She just hoped Lee had the sense to wait until the squad car had gone.

The two officers got back in the car and drove up to the end of the lane, out of view if the woman came out to look but there was only the one way out unless she went across the fields and up a hill which with a small child, didn't seem very likely.  The WPC was straight on the radio, getting patched through to Alec.

''Sir, we believe we may have found your daughter.  A woman answered a door, she had a strong Welsh accent and she wouldn't let us in and I'm sure I heard a child's voice inside.''

Alec never hesitated as he raised his hand for everyone inside the now crowded pub to hush.

''Give me the address and wait there.  Do not try to get inside but if she comes out with Kelly, do anything you can to prevent them leaving but do not put my daughter in danger.''

Rose had gone to stand beside him as he called for Ellie who had just come inside. ''Miller, call the chief and get that warrant for this address.''

He scribbled down the address he had just been given.  Miller got her phone out, the chief had barely just left but before she could turn, Rose and Alec were already out of the door hand in hand, leaving a puzzled Jackie behind.

''Charming, they just go off and leave me,'' Jackie complained to no-one and everyone at the same time, crossing her arms and giving the famous Jackie Tyler glare to all in the room.

''Mrs Tyler, come with me, I'll take you there but you must remain in the car until the search warrant arrives,'' Ellie offered.

Jackie nodded and left Mickey standing at the bar getting her another pot of tea. Rose was willing the car to get there faster but Alec said sirens would just alert Claire, they were so close to getting their daughter back now, he didn't want to panic the woman to the point of desperation she would harm Kelly in some way, that was unthinkable.

Alec got a call to say the warrant had been signed and someone was on their way with it, they were fifteen minutes away but Alec was going to get Miller to try to reason with the woman.  They reached the top of the lane and they both got out, Alec talking to the two officers and more units that had been diverted there from the tourist attractions.  There was no way Claire was getting out of there, if she used the girl as a hostage, Alec had someone on standby to negotiate with her, he would have done it but he was in no fit state to reason with the person who had taken his daughter away from him.

He knew once the woman was in custody, protocol called for Miller to conduct the interview as to why, what earthly reason she had taken Kelly out of school yesterday.  Rose was looking around, seeing Ellie get out of another car and her mother in the back seat.  She knew it was best she stayed there and let Alec and Ellie handle it.  Ellie came over and Alec told her to go ahead and try to gain access to the house and not to trick her but say they had a strong reason to believe she was holding Kelly Hardy and to give the girl up and that she knew who Claire was.

Ellie got in the car Rose and Alec had been in and the driver took her almost to the door.  Claire was looking out and panicked.  Ellie got out and went up to the door, knocking loudly.

''Claire Ripley, this is DS Miller from Broadchurch Police.  Open up, we know who you are, we believe you have Kelly Hardy in there with you.  Let her out then come out peacefully or we will break down the door.  We have a warrant to enter your premises.''

Technically, they only needed the owner's permission to enter but Alec was taking no chances, his CS had already found out who the owners were but they were unobtainable.  It would be them that would have to repair any damage if Claire didn't open the door without a warrant.

''Go away, there's no-one here with that name, I'm Mrs Ashworth.''

''We know who your husband is Claire, now come out with the girl.  Kelly, are you in there sweetheart, it's Auntie Ellie.''

Claire had left Kelly in the kitchen and closed the door.

''I told you cop, there's no-one called Kelly here.  Go away.''

''Come on Claire, there are dozens of officers at the top of the lane and when the warrant is served, you have to let us in or we will break down the door.  You have no choice in this.  So come out now, with your hands behind your head and tell us where the girl is.''

Rose could see Ellie was getting nowhere, she just wanted to run down and break down the door herself, she and Alec had walked down the lane arm in arm and were standing a few feet away, both waiting for Kelly to come out so the first thing she would see was them waiting for her.

''Alec, should I try talking to her?'' Rose offered tearfully.

''It may do more harm then good sweetheart.  Just wait for the warrant then some officers will force the door and I can go in and get her.''

Kelly couldn't understand why Auntie Claire and closed the kitchen door on her and she couldn't twist the door handle, the ones at home pulled down, not twisted so she could always get out.  She thought she had heard her Auntie Ellie's voice calling her a few minutes ago but she wasn't sure.  She just wanted to go home to her mum and dad.  She couldn't even reach the window to see outside.  If her Auntie Ellie was here, why hadn't she come in?  Didn't she know Auntie Claire and where was daddy?

A car had arrived with the search warrant and the driver went down the lane and pulled up behind Alec and Rose.  The two officers got out and handed the paper to Alec.  He called Ellie back.

''Right, you two, break that door down now, Miller, you grab Claire and I'll ram that search warrant down her throat if she doesn't tell me where Kelly is.  Rose, wait here, please love, I'll bring our daughter out, I promise.''

He kissed her let her go.  Other officers had now joined them, alerting the neighbours as to what was going on and asking them to stay indoors.  Claire knew the game was up.  If Lee had been on his way, all the police cars would have made him turn around, his revenge for her turning on him back in Sandbrook.  Maybe she should just open the door, she could talk her way out of anything, say the girl looked lost and she was just looking after her for a while and was going to bring her back.  Rose wouldn't be that mad at her, would she?

Alec was running out of patience.  Another bang on the door.

''Claire, this is DI Alec Hardy, you know me, Rose used to work for you.  Open the door Claire and send Kelly out.''

Kelly knew she had heard her dad's voice, it was unmistakeable.  She called out at the top of her voice.  ''Daddy!''

That was it, Alec moved aside and the two officers broke down the door off its hinges and one officer grabbed a startled Claire.

''Kelly darlin' where are you?''

''Daddy, I think I'm in the kitchen.''

He followed his daughter's voice and twisted the loose door knob, almost pulling it off which still would not have stopped him, he would have kicked it open if he'd had to.  Rose was now behind him, after she slapped Claire's face and called her a heartless bitch, but Rose didn't care, the officers would say they never saw it, Claire couldn't prove it.

Alec opened the door and Kelly was kneeling on a chair, wondering what all the noise outside was.  ''Daddy!  Mummy!''

She got down just as Alec reached her and picked her up, handing her to Rose and putting his arms around them both, kissing the top of Kelly's head then kissing Rose and Kelly in the middle, trying to hold both of them.

''Mummy, where have you been?  Auntie Claire said you told her to bring me here, was that ok?''

Rose didn't have the heart to say anything.

''Kelly darlin' we're taking you home now, Auntie Claire has to go with the Police Officers.  Are you hungry darlin'?" Alec asked, taking his daughter from Rose.

Ellie was now standing in the doorway, smiling at the family reunion and wishing that never happened to her family.

''Sir, a car is waiting to take you home and Kelly's grandmother is outside demanding to be let in.''

''Is nanna Jackie here?'' Kelly asked.

Rose kissed her daughter's forehead.  ''Yeah, Uncle Mickey's here too, they came down to see you.  Kelly, we didn't know Auntie Claire was going to keep you here, we thought she was bringing you home.  It doesn't matter, we're all here now.  Let's go home then tomorrow, Auntie Ellie might want to talk to you about Auntie Claire, is that ok honey?''

The girl nodded as Alec carried his daughter outside to cheers from the officers and the neighbours and the TV crew had heard where everyone had gone and were waiting for them.  Alec waved to them then passed his daughter to her mother.

''I'd just like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped get our daughter back and a special thank you to the landlord of the local pub for his hospitality towards my wife and I and all the people who volunteered both today and yesterday to go look for Kelly.  As you can see, she's safe and well and just wants to go home.  Thank you.''

Alec took Rose's hand and kissed the back of it and putting Kelly and Rose in the back of the waiting car after Jackie gave the girl a big hug and saying she would see her at home.  A crowd of people were waiting for them, including Olly from the local paper, taking a picture as Rose handed Kelly to Alec and everyone cheered and waved, Kelly thinking it was funny as Alec rubbed her chin with his beard that had not been trimmed since yesterday morning.  He thought he may just keep it like that, it always got a laugh out of his young daughter.

Once the excitement had died down, Alec said he was going to help Miller question Claire but Rose got him into the kitchen while Mickey was making Kelly laugh by pulling funny faces.

''Hold on Alec Hardy, you just told thousands of people I was your wife, was that just for their benefit?''

''No pussycat, that was something else I was going to talk about after you so willingly agreed to have another baby.  Let's do it right Rose, Kelly has my name, I want you to have it too.''

He put his arms around her waist and reached down to kiss her, daring for anyone to come in and interrupt him.

''Marry me Rose, I know we're married in our own minds but I want it official, it's time, don't you think?  You've put up with me for four years already.  What do you say?''

''What can I say Alec?  I'd love to marry you, it never seemed important before but Kelly's getting older, she'll want to know why my name is different to hers so yes, I will marry you.''

They kissed deeply and never heard the door open and Mickey was standing there. He made himself known.

''Hmm.  Alec, your phone has been ringing, I suggest you answer it before Jackie does, you might regret it if it's your boss.''

Rose laughed.  If her mum told Alec's CS off for bothering him when his daughter had just been found, he would be back in uniform or doing the school patrol.  After speaking with his boss, Alec excused himself after they told Jackie and a disappointed Mickey they were going to get married, Kelly asking what it meant and Alec leaving it up to Rose to explain to an almost four year old what it actually meant.  Rose said she would get him back for it later.  Claire was not very forthcoming, sitting across the interview table from Ellie and another officer, a solicitor sitting beside her.

She was denying she took the girl without her mother's knowledge and that she fully intended to bring the girl back after lunch and go catch a bus back to Broadchurch.  Ellie asked her if she knew where the girl lived.  She couldn't answer. Then when Alec entered the room, she got scared.  The look on his face was deadly, he was not a man to be toyed with and she knew it.  Her feminine charms may work on her husband and other men but this one was different, she had made a big mistake and taken his youngest daughter, she wouldn't be able to play him easily.

Claire asked for a deal involving the now DS Henchard from Sandbrook, her only card left, that she would plead guilty to kidnapping Kelly Hardy and holding her illegally in return for leniency if she gave up the missing evidence from the Sandbrook case that would incriminate her husband and tell them where he had been hiding in France.

She knew if that moron had come back last night like she asked him to or even earlier that morning, they would have been over the county border by now with the girl so she was going to pay him back for getting caught.  When Alec called Tess, she was more than interested.

The following Thursday, Kelly woke up early, all excited and ran into her parents bedroom.

''Get up you two, it's my birthday, teddy said so.''

She normally called out and waited for one of them to go in to her but she wasn't waiting today.  Alec had been warned to put his t-shirt on last night, Kelly always giggled when she saw his hairy chest, especially when they went swimming or in the sea when it was warm enough.  She jumped on Alec, who was pretending to still be asleep then made her jump and giggle.

''No Kelly baby, you got it wrong, Saturday is your birthday,'' he joked.

Rose smiled.

''You're wrong Daddy because teddy is right, it is today and I'm having a party, aren't I Mummy?''

Finally, Rose managed to get her dressed and ready for school, a week after their nightmare ordeal.  Alec had paid a visit to the salon and made it clear to Rose's boss that she was to leave dead on eleven thirty and if that Mrs Price complained Rose left without finishing her hair properly, there would be more than her hair to worry about.  Jackie was arriving early afternoon, on the coach this time after saying she would never get in Mickey's car again as long as she lived and Rose and Kelly went down the harbour to meet her then waited for Alec across from the Police station.

The party was a success and on Saturday morning, they waited for Daisy to arrive and they all went down to the fun centre, Jackie just lying on a sun lounger while Rose and Alec took Kelly in the water and Daisy took her on the various slides.  Kelly didn't want her nanna to leave but she was told they would go up to London for Christmas and see all the lights in the main areas.

Claire Ripley had got transferred to Sandbrook and interrogated after giving up the missing evidence.  Lee had got caught trying to leave the country and had already been taken there before his wife's arrival and he and Claire were on remand, being held in separate facilities pending trial, the charge of kidnapping Kelly Hardy added to the growing list when the truth came out.

Rose and Alec fixed a date for the wedding, November 25th at Broadchurch Town hall, just family, Ellie and Beth and their families and Mickey, reluctantly being Alec's best man and Rose had announced she was five weeks pregnant the week before their wedding, Alec was as pleased as punch and they got Chloe Latimer to babysit while they went out to celebrate.  The wedding turned out to be bigger than they planned with some of Jackie's family wanting to travel down and Becca from The Traders kindly let them use the ballroom of the hotel for the reception and only charged them for the drinks since she had been so happy Kelly was safe and well and back with her parents.

Jackie stayed a few more days while Alec and Rose went off to Torquay for their honeymoon for five days and the following July, Rose was rushed to the hospital at seven in the evening as she went into labour, Alec calling an ambulance and dropping Kelly off at Ellie's house on his way as he followed in the car.  Just after midnight, they were nursing their new baby son, a little brother for Kelly, naming him Jason.  Alec had woken Jackie to tell her the news, getting him a telling off for not telling his now proper mother-in-law that Rose was even in hospital.

Alec knew he could never win where Jackie Tyler was concerned and vowed never even to try.  He loved Rose and no matter what Jackie threw at him, he would always be ready to take it, for the sake of his daughter and now his newborn son, being fed by his beautiful wife.

The End!


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