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The Broadchurch Affair

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DS Rose Tyler has been promised a promotion on return from her two weeks away which was to try to save her marriage to Mickey Smith, only to find a grumpy Alec Hardy, new to Broadchurch beat her to it.  Despite their initial hate for each other, they quickly begin an affair behind her husband's back when she suspects he's responsible for a local boys death and thinks he's cheating.







DS Rose Tyler (who never met The Doctor) has been promised a promotion on return from her 2 weeks holiday to save her marriage to Mickey Smith, only to find a grumpy Alec Hardy, new to Broadchurch beat her to it.  Despite their initial hate for each other, they begin an affair when she suspects her husband is responsible for a local boy's death and thinks he's the one cheating.

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Chapter 1
Retelling of Broadchurch series one, going into series two minus the Sandbrook case, Mickey and Rose got married, Rose never meeting The Doctor but Rose is terribly unhappy despite working her way up through the Police ranks and moving to the south coast.  Mickey has been acting suspiciously when they get back from their holiday, having gone to try to rekindle their marriage but it just made things worse and Rose begins to suspect he had something to do with Danny's death or he was having an affair but he has been helping out a good mate and it has made Rose jealous. 

Inspired by the defence teams suggestion in series two that Hardy and Miller were having an affair during the murder investigation.

Rose was tired, had a splitting headache more like a migraine and they were only three days into their holiday to try to save their marriage.  Rose Tyler-Smith was lying by the pool in the resort hotel and the sun was suddenly blotted out by her husband, Mickey standing over her, in his swim shorts and t-shirt.

''Come on babe, let's walk into town, I'm bored.''

Rose peered over her sunglasses, she had found a shady spot and was trying to get rid of the thumping headache she was sure was turning into a migraine.  Had she been at home, she would have visited her GP or gone to the pharmacy but she wasn't going to risk going to one here since she didn't speak Spanish, she could end up worse.  She had noticed a farmacia across the road from the apart-hotel just outside Lloret-de-Mar on the way to the beach and thought she was going to have to give in tomorrow if it hadn't gone away because there was no way she was getting back on that plane until it had gone.

''Mickey, I just want to rest, you go, if this headache's not gone tomorrow, I'll do something about it, it's probably just the heat.''

Mickey sulked and went off to get a drink from the poolside bar and came back, not bothering if his wife wanted one or not.

Rose just closed her eyes and imagined he wasn't there, tapping the side of the wooden lounger to the beat of the music playing from the loudspeaker that Rose wished would go silent but she couldn't sleep at night, Mickey was driving her nuts. If he didn't keep pestering her to have sex with him, which she had completely gone off recently, he was complaining about anything he could think of.  She wondered why she still bothered, she knew she had made a big mistake getting talked into getting married two years ago.

It wasn't like she had got pregnant even, they didn't have to get married but they were the product of a London council estate, Rose had been bright and got good grades at school, went to college to join the police and at twenty six she was already a detective sergeant and when she got back, her boss hopefully would tell her she had been successful in get her promotion, she had just passed the detective inspector's exams and was next in line.  Her mother had been proud of her, which was partly why she had agreed to go on holiday though now, she wished she had brought her mother, Jackie Tyler like to lie in the sun as much as she herself did but her marriage to Mickey was going sour and so she had agreed to trying to patch it up.  She wondered if that was why she had the headache.

The only thing she was glad of was that she had kept her name for professional reasons, she was still DS Tyler at Broadchurch Police Station.  Monday soon came around, she had got a cold compression pack to put on her forehead and she felt slightly better.  She wasn't happy the holiday began and ended on a Thursday but that was Mickey for you, getting the cheapest price, it wasn't like they couldn't afford it, Rose got a good salary and their housing cost was subsidised with her accepting a post away from home.

Wednesday, Rose did their packing before dinner, Mickey wanted to go to the disco later.

''Mickey, I just about getting rid of my headache, I'm not going dancing.''

''Rose, you've been a right misery ever since we got here, you only went out a couple of times and in the evening, all we did was stay in the bar.  We were supposed to be trying to get closer but you're pushing me away.''

''That's not fair, I couldn't help it if I got a bad headache.  I was quite happy sitting by the pool, you were the one that wanted to go wandering around.''

''Fine, I'll go on my own then,'' Mickey huffed.

Rose knew he wouldn't actually pick anyone up and if he did, they were going home tomorrow afternoon, good luck to him.  He just wanted to show off on the dance floor, not that you could call it dancing as such, just fancy footwork.  So Mickey went out and Rose had a quiet drink on her own then she started talking to another woman around her own age and they ended up comparing husband and boyfriend.

Mickey was slightly drunk when he got back, waking her up and trying to get her interested in him but she wasn't and she didn't know why she was feeling that way. Maybe she should make an attempt but not when he'd had too much to drink.

The flight home was dreadful, not only had they had to pay extra taxes to get a reserved seat on the plane going back to Exeter airport, Mickey claimed the inside seat, leaving Rose sat in the middle with a man on the other side who had a screaming youngster that didn't want to go to his mother sat with another child opposite and the flight attendant wouldn't let them all sit together as she offered to let the couple change places.  Mealtime was the only time the boy was quiet.

Picking up her car at the airport when they had landed, just after four in the afternoon, she got Mickey to drive, not that she liked his driving in particular but her headache had come back.  She wished she had booked an extra day off to recover but was going back on Friday and working Saturday to catch up.  Then if she got her promotion, she would start that on Monday.

Little did Rose know that while she had been away, CS Jenkinson had been asked to consider another candidate for the post of DI in her station, that of a certain DI Alec Hardy, who not that long ago had let a suspect walk free from court on the grounds that vital evidence had been lost.  His old CS had tried to keep it low-profile and had even cleared the man of any misconduct charges but it was a noose hanging around his neck and there wasn't a rush of chiefs willing to take him on.  Elaine had been asked to consider him and she had sort of felt sorry for him, after she learned that it was someone on his team that lost the evidence and he had taken responsibility for it, the man did have some integrity.  So she had contacted Sandbrook and said she would take him and she would have to appease Rose Tyler when she got back from what she had described as a last ditch attempt to patch up her failing marriage.

Elaine had talked to Rose before she went off, the news she was up for the DI's job had cheered her up but now, the young woman was going to be extra disappointed to not get the job and it would be worse if she hadn't made up with her husband but there was nothing she could do about the latter, only promise her the next promotion or find another station willing to take her.

Alec Hardy was preparing to leave his small one bedroom flat he had called home since his divorce almost a year ago the day Rose and Mickey set off for their holiday destination and arrived at the hotel they had put him in until more suitable accommodation could be found.  The cheery Australian hotel owner greeted him and showed him to his room, he thought about maybe seeking her company at some later date, if his condition didn't worsen but his GP had told him to get out of the big city and take it easy and given him the doom and gloom lecture about changing his lifestyle and this dead-end town he found himself in seemed a safe enough option.

That was what he thought. He made himself known to the chief who had taken him on and got his ID badge sorted when he arrived, he was not looking forward to facing the DS who had been passed over for promotion despite completing their exams, he didn't even know if it was a man or a woman, not that he was really bothered.  Six months and he would be out of there, one way or another, a man might complain and there would be some rivalry between them since he would have the job of accompanying him and driving him around once returned from holiday and a woman, well, the claws would come out but he'd had enough experience with his ex to deal with that.

As he ate dinner on Thursday night, circumstances were plotting against him to ruin his quiet life.  He noticed after he'd finished that Becca was absent, shame, he was going to ask her to his room for a bit of fun, relax a little and see what happened, not that anything would.  It had been boring the last few days, petty crimes and catching up with ongoing cases had made him long to be back in Sandbrook, had it not been for the fact his ex was still there.  Rose and Mickey had got home, Rose had unpacked while Mickey went to the supermarket to get what they needed urgently and a Chinese takeaway on the way home and by eight, Rose decided she'd had enough, took two painkillers and went to bed.

Mickey was annoyed again so he went out to the pub down by the harbour, the one Nigel, Mark and Joe always went in but when he got there, only Nigel was sitting at the bar.

''Ok Mickey?  How was your holiday mate?  How's that little wife of yours?  Made up did you?''

''Holiday was terrible, waste of time, we might as well have stayed at home, things aren't any better.  Where are the other two?''

''Dunno.  Mark was a bit funny earlier and Joe and Ellie just got back from holiday too, he's probably unpacking or something.''

''Yeah, hope he had a better time than I did then.''

''Didn't you enjoy seeing your missus by the swimming pool in her bikini?''

''That was it, it's all she wanted to do, just lie there when I wanted to go into the town then she wouldn't go dancing.  Said she had an headache.''

''Oh, I'd watch out for that mate, you know what that means eh?''

Mickey knew full well.  Perhaps it was time to have a chat with his mother-in-law, Jackie was always on his side, she had helped him get Rose to finally say yes to getting married since they had been going out since Rose was seventeen and they had grown up together, Mickey was six years older than Rose.  If anyone could sort out their marriage, Jackie Tyler could.

Mickey had a few drinks and got a taxi home, Rose was still asleep so he knew better than to try and wake her.  Rose was up early the next morning, feeling better and ready hopefully for a promotion.  She had a few presents for the people who were on her team so parking up, she entered the station and cheerily said hello to everyone and getting a load of 'welcome back's' in return.

''What have I missed then?  Any juicy gossip while I've been away?''

She should have known when their faces dropped to the floor that something was amiss.  She was about to sit down when the CS stood in the doorway.  Rose raised her eyebrows to her co-workers.

''Can I see you in my office Rose?''

She got up and followed, keeping her fingers crossed.

Alec Hardy had not been pleased when he'd got a call around 7am to go to a clifftop farm where the barbed wire fence had been cut and diesel drained out of a tractor. He told the local farmer he would get someone on to it to which the man had asked if that was it.  Alec had chastised the uniformed officer who had been waiting in a car outside his hotel ten minutes after he got the call.

Why hadn't a DS been sent but he supposed they all had the sense to turn their phones off, a practice he detested but might consider shortly.  He knew he was supposed to have a partner but she wasn't due back until later and she would surely be pissed at him for stealing her job but she'd get over it, he'd had enough with his ex.  If she couldn't get along with him, he'd request another partner and there was no way he was getting involved with this one, he had learned his lesson working with Tess.

He wondered if things would have been any different had Sandbrook not been such an issue.  The officer he was with was on the radio.

''Sir, there's been an incident on Harbour Cliff Beach, I have to take you there now.''

Just what he needed, bloody sea, sand and the never ending sky.  They made their way down and Alec walked onto the pebble beach, ducking under the yellow warning tape.  As he got nearer, he could see other officers and an ambulance crew covering someone up with a green blanket.  No, how could this be happening again? He cursed as he felt dizzy, it was all coming back, finding Pippa in the river, seeing her every night in his dreams lying in the river, staring at him.

''Please no, not again,'' he muttered to himself as he could make out by the trainers and clothing it was a teenage boy.  A yellow skateboard had been planted next to where the boy laid.  He'd crouched down to move the blanket when he heard a noise behind him.  It was Rose.

The CS had tried to break the news gently to her.

''I'm sorry Rose, we gave the job to someone else, while you were away.  I got asked to take someone on from another division, it was rather hurried.''

''What?  What happened to 'we need more female senior officers?  Who was it, another woman DS?''

''No, a man, Alec Hardy, he started last week.''

''So you tell me before I go away the job's more or less mine then when I get on a plane, you take someone else on?  Alec Hardy, where do I know that name from?''

''He was in charge of the Sandbrook case.''

Rose shook her head – everyone knew about him, he had botched the trial of a murder suspect and the killer had walked free, how the hell had he got another job? Wait until that reporter got to know, Karen White would have a real good time dragging his name through the mud again and she would assist in every way she could.  The nerve of some people, taking jobs meant for someone else.

She stormed out of the chief's office and went to the ladies room and called her mother.  She didn't want to talk to Mickey, he would just tell her to get on with it and stop complaining, she might get more sympathy from her mum.

Jackie agreed it was not very fair to go behind her back and give away the job earmarked for her.

''Never mind sweetheart, you'll get the next one.  How was your holiday anyway?''

Rose didn't want to talk about it.  ''I had a headache most of the time and Mickey was a complete jerk.  I don't know what I'm gonna do Mum, it's just not working, I thought the trip to Spain would help patch things up but I don't think it helped.''

''You've got to work at it Rose, you've got to want to make up sweetheart, you can't expect Mickey to do it all.  You've only been married two years, give it time.''
Rose thought her mother was the last person to be giving her marital advice since Rose's dad had died not long after he and her mother got married.

''I'll try mum but now this has happened, I don't think it's going to improve my mood any.''

She was interrupted by a banging on the cubicle door.

''Go away, I'm in here, do you mind?''

''Sorry Rose, you got a call, you're needed down at Harbour Cliff Beach.''

''Gotta go Mum, got a call.  Love you.''

Rose made her way down, electing to get a lift from a squad car parked outside rather then go get her car.  When she arrived, the beach was sealed off and she could see a tall man in the distance, looking down at a body.  Then she saw it was that of a child, a boy by the looks of the clothing and trainers.  As she got closer, she thought she recognised him.

''No, not Danny!  Please not Danny.''

Alec turned around and tried to hold her back.

''Who let you though?  Get off this beach now.  Officer, get her off here now.''

Rose had forgotten to pin her badge to her trousers waistband and fished it out of her jacket pocket.

''DS Tyler.''

Alec held out his hand, he might have known, young, blonde and emotional, just what else he needed at this present moment.

''Alec Hardy.''

''I know who you are, you got my job.''

''Are we really going to do this now?  Seriously?  You know who the boy is?''

''Yes, he's my friend's son, Danny Latimer, 12 yrs old, his mum is one of my best friends, I see him all the time, he delivers my husband's newspaper.''

''Good,'' Alec thought, she's married, lessen the temptation and she wasn't married to him.

They heard screaming from behind them.

''No!  Danny, please not my Danny.''

Rose rushed back to where a brunette was wading her way across the pebbled beach in her bare feet, two officers trying to catch up with her, unsuccessfully.  Rose reached her and stopped her.

''No Beth, please go back, you can't be here.''

''Rose, tell me it's not Danny.''

Rose wanted to but Alec had caught up with her, as had the two officers.

''Please Beth, just go with the officers, I can't tell you anything.''

''You're my friend Rose, tell me.''

No matter how much she wanted to be Beth's friend right now, she had to do her job and be a detective sergeant though she was bitterly disappointed at the man with the permanent scowl and the Scottish accent who was now staring at her.

Beth broke down, screaming at her friend to tell her the boy on the beach was not her son as she was dragged towards a police car.

''Tell me about the boy DS Tyler.''
Chapter 2
A/N: I will be leaving out the murder enquiry from the Latimers point of view for obvious reason since I and other authors have covered it enough times and this chapter will be following mainly Rose's point of view. Events may not be in the same order.

Rose had got home on that first night, exhausted and the headache coming back. Her new boss had caused most of her problems, between him demanding being driven around, dragging her out and working late, all she needed was another argument with Mickey.  Lucky for her, he had already gone out, sending a message telling her not to wait up, it was pool night.

Trust him not to go missing out when he had just got back, she bet he had sneaked out last night when she had gone to bed early.  She could really use a friendly face right now and wondered whether to call Ellie but she was probably too wrapped up in her family and worried about Tom, who was roughly the same age as Danny.

She was grateful she and Mickey had chosen not to start a family, unlike it seemed most of the estate they had come from had but her career was important to her and Mickey didn't seem to push the subject, just as well the way things were going.

Mickey had gone out again on Saturday, bumping into his friend Joe Miller.  Rose had wanted to stay in again, he'd offered to let her go with him but she'd said she'd had a difficult day.

''Hey Joe, hope you had a better holiday than I did mate.''

''What, with a screaming toddler?  Don't think so.  Hey, you still owe me a favour, I need to call on it.''

''Sure mate, what is it?''

''I need you to say you were with me on Thursday night.''

''What?  I was down at The Bay with Nige.''

''Well if someone asks you, how do they know that?  I'm asking you as a friend Mickey, it's important.''

''Sure, whatever but can I ask why?''

''I'd rather not say but I'll still owe you.  You still having trouble with Rose?''

''Huh, aren't I just, she's still cranky, won't talk to me and avoids me in bed, don't know how much more I can take of this, we were supposed to have gone away to improve things.''

''Well I'll give you some advice then mate, go out every night, make her jealous, say you were with me.''

''Well I was going to cut all that out, make an effort to stay in with her but since this murder investigation started, last night she only came home to get changed and she's been working all day.  Yeah, I might just take you up on that.  Where were you that night then?''

''I was with a friend and before you say anything, I was helping someone out, someone who's a bit down and I don't want to get Ellie involved.  I want to prove I can still sort out problems.''

Saturday morning for Rose was no better, having to work with Hardy, who was getting insufferable when a telephone company installation man said he had some information.  Rose got chewed out for it then had to suffer more when taking the DI to a press conference on Sunday evening and it went downhill from there, until Tuesday morning when he suddenly noticed Rose was not paying him any attention when they caught up with the postman whom the local newsagent had thought he had seen arguing with Danny.

They were getting back in Rose's car.

''Did you not hear what I said Tyler?''

''Sir?''

''Can't you pay attention Tyler?  I said, don't reassure people by telling them they have nothing to worry about, I want them to be worried.''

''Well excuse me but you don't live here, I do, I've been here for two years, these people all know me and you come along and tell me how to do my job, that's on top of you coming in and taking jobs meant for other people – Sir.''

Rose slammed the car door shut and waited to see if he got in the passenger seat or if he was going to walk – after he fired her for insubordination.

''Ok Tyler, out with it.''  He got in the passenger seat and put on the seat belt, looking over at her.

Rose sat still, not attempting to start the car.  She'd just about had enough with Mickey being out again last night, she had never even heard him come in for the last few nights, she had hardly been home, Hardy had been firing questions at her all morning on the way to find the postman and her mother had been on the phone, saying Mickey had called to say he had hardly seen her since Friday morning and she was worried.

''We are not leaving here until you tell me what the hell is wrong with you.''

''It's personal, you wouldn't understand, it's none of your concern.''

''It is my concern, you're my partner, it affects me as well so tell me what the problem is.''

''I'll work it out, no need for you to get involved.''

''I read your personnel file, you're married.''

''So?  What has that got to do with anything?  Tell me you're not against women in high profile jobs and they should stay all at home?''

''No but I've worked with women before, one happened to be my ex wife and I know all the signs something is wrong.''

''Must be the detective in you then – Sir.''

''Don't be smart Tyler.  We have work to do.''

Rose drove off back to the underground car park but he stopped her getting out.

''I may be your boss Tyler but you can come to me, with any problems.''

''I'll bear that in mind if I have any.''

They worked through the afternoon, keeping the Latimer family updated and finally got back just after six so Rose, being hungry, went in search of food and remembered the takeaway around the corner was open late.  She wondered if she should get some for her grumpy boss.

Feeling guilty she would be eating alone, she opted to get the same as she was getting and asked for them in cartons.  Tossing a parcel on his desk after knocking, he looked up from his monitor and shook his head.  Rose got up, taking hers with her and went back to her desk calling him a miserable git who couldn't accept any food. She had wasted money on a coffee yesterday morning and now he had turned his nose up at food.  Well let him starve, he was already thin enough.

She got her phone out to call Mickey though she didn't see why she had to explain to him she had to work late, it was her job.  She got his answerphone.  She'd already got a message it was karaoke night at The Bay Hotel, she was just glad she wasn't there, his singing rivalled his dancing in the awful category.  She looked up, about to finish her supper.  Hardy was standing there, a mug in his hand and put it on her desk.  She had chastised him a few days ago for making one for himself and leaving her standing there when he walked off.  He pulled a chair over from another desk and sat opposite her, his office door still open.  She wondered what had brought him out of his office or as everyone else called it his ivory tower.

Alec Hardy never apologised to anyone but something had told him that his DS was well and truly pissed with him, for what reason, he could only guess.  He knew she was from London, moved here two years ago after marrying a Mickey Smith and he couldn't figure out why she still was called Tyler, guessing it was for professional reasons.

''Sorry, about the food business, it's just I have to be careful what I eat.''

''Seriously?  You watching your figure or something?''

She cracked half a smile, Hardy twitched his left eyebrow and decided to let it slide, he could get her back later.

''You first.  Tell me why we've done nothing but argue since last Friday morning on the beach.  If you have a problem at home, fix it, don't bring it to work unless you want to explain it to me.''

''Fine, I'll leave it at home then, thanks for being so understanding.''

''I told you Tyler, don't be smart.  Seriously, I know all the signs and maybe talking to someone who's been through it will help.  Don't let it get out of hand.''  He got up and was about to close his office door.  He didn't feel like going back to his hotel room just yet, he only kept going back to catch a few hours sleep and drown all over again.  He turned around.  ''My door is open if you want to talk.''

Rose got up and put her empty carton in the trash can by the kitchen area then washed her mug.  She went back to put her jacket on and tapped on his door.  If he was putting in the effort, so should she and she had an idea to keep her husband at home for at least one night.

''Sir, I'm gonna get off now.  Will you come to dinner, at my house, Thursday night?''

''What?  Why?''

''It's what normal people do, they have their bosses over to dinner and it might actually keep my husband at home for the evening.''

''He's out every night?''

''You could say that, he has a very busy social calendar, darts, pool, snooker, karaoke, a night with the boys and quiz night and anything else he can find on the other night, maybe that could be Thursday, stopping in with his wife for a change.''

Hardy shook his head.  ''Well I wouldn't want to ruin a night in with your husband for you.''

''Don't worry, you won't, I just want to see if he's actually worried about me bringing my boss back for dinner,'' she smiled.

''So I'm just a domestic experiment am I?  Thanks, I feel really welcome.''

''I didn't mean it like that.  Hell, think whatever you like, yes or no?''

''I'm not coming just for you to prove a point with your husband Tyler and just why aren't you DS Smith?''

''That's a bit personal Sir.  Seriously?  There are 100s of DS Smiths around and I chose to be known as Tyler-Smith, it was easier to keep Tyler at work.''

Alec really didn't want to know that, why should he but she was making an effort so against his better judgement, he found himself agreeing.

''Fine, what time?''

''Seven thirty, bring a bottle of white wine, I'm gonna get totalled after you leave.''

Hardy raised his eyebrows again, that might just be worth seeing.

Rose got home, wishing she hadn't just told her boss she was going to get wasted. Mickey had kept to his word as was now usual and was still out so she made a drink then got ready for bed, hearing the door downstairs being opened then Mickey's voice calling her.  He opened the bedroom door and came over to her.

''Go away Mickey, you're drunk.''

He tried to put his arms around her waist but she moved away.

''Huh, what's wrong with you, we never have sex these days, what's wrong with you?''

''Really?  You go out every night and expect me to put up with you when you get back?  Seriously?  Don't make me laugh.  Go sleep in the spare room, I'm not putting up with you tonight.''

''Fine but this isn't finished with Rose, you're out as well.''

''Me?  In case you hadn't noticed, we're in the middle of a murder investigation.  Our friends' son was killed and I have to find out who did it or are you not bothered?''

''Of course I'm bothered but does your boss have to keep you working late?''

''We don't do a 9-5 job Mickey, you know that.  Sometimes we have to go out late or information comes in and we have to interview late.  Hardy was still in his office when I left.  Do you think you could actually manage to stay in on Thursday night?''

''Why?  No, got a pub quiz, me, Nige, Mark and Joe.''

''Brain of Britain challenge is it?  You lot can't even point to Germany on a map.''

Rose knew there was no danger of that team winning but Mark seemed to know a fair deal, he was the real brains.  Mickey huffed and picked up his pyjamas and left her in peace.  So, he was not interested in meeting her boss?  Well he could get stuffed then, she would show him.  Why was she even still trying?  The next morning, Mickey was arguing with the toaster so Rose ignored him and worked around him to get out on time.  She was making coffee in the kitchen area when Hardy walked in, he grunted something that resembled 'morning' so Rose made him a tea, put her coffee on her desk and took it in to him.

''Morning Sir, hope I got this right, tea, milk, no sugar?''

''It will do at a pinch.  Look at this report that came in Tyler, they found three identical cigarette butts by Danny's body.  Who stands there and smokes over someone lying on a beach?''

They went off in search of the person who had been identified as having smoked them who just happened to turn out to be the same person who had the keys for the hut where they had discovered Danny may have been killed.  Hardy sat back and let Rose ask the woman in question why she had stood there and smoked over the boy.

Rose stormed out at the end of the interview.

''Don't make me do that again, she's horrible.  How could she do that?''  It had been the second time he had put her on the spot that week, the first on Monday morning when new staff had been brought in from other divisions and he had made her brief them.  She had almost slapped his face afterwards.

''Don't get emotional over it Tyler, some people are just like that.  Come on, we'll go back up to the hut, see if we've missed anything.  If she cleans up there, that's why they found her fingerprints but we need to find out what actually happened that night.''

''Are we so sure Danny was actually killed inside?  I know there was blood but the killer may have taken him back inside, since a car was already in the car park, we know Mark Latimer was there waiting for someone and we now know who he met. Who would have believed that?''

Rose set off, smiling to herself, she could think of Beth for starters but now she was investigating her friend's boy's death, there had been no time for social calls.  The last time she had seen Beth privately was late on Friday when they had met at the beach and Beth had asked her why she couldn't conduct the enquiry.  Rose wished she could have told her she would if it had been her that got the DI's job but that couldn't come into it now.

''Did you hear me Tyler?'' Hardy was asking her as she drove down the narrow lane to the hut, who would want to drive down there at night?  It was scary enough during the day, no-one in their right minds would go down at night and Hardy wittering on at her wasn't helping.

''Sorry, it's just this road, I really hate it, I don't know how they get all the holiday caravans down here.  What are you hoping to find here?''

They pulled into the car park which was quite full despite it being the scene of a murder but the yellow tape was still around the hut.

Hardy took the key out of his pocket.

''I thought you gave that back Sir?''

''I wasn't happy about something.  It may have been confirmed Susan Wright cleaned here but I still don't trust her shall we say?  After you Tyler.''

He indicated for her to go in, Rose handed him a pair of blue gloves and he accepted them, not bothering to actually put them on so neither did she, some example he was.  He started firing off questions like he expected her to keep up, which she would have done had she not been in such a mood with Mickey.

''Keep up Tyler.  I was asking you about the shoe sizes of the prints found around the hut.''

Rose had memorised the man's size 10, the same as Mickey's and in particular, Nigel Carter, Joe Miller and Mark Latimer all took the same size, a joke amongst the married trio's wives of them all having big feet.

''Size 10 but we've already established two have that size shoe plus there's Joe Miller and my husband.''

''What?  Who's Joe Miller?''

"Ellie Miller, his wife was the DS I took over from when I came here, she stayed at home after she had her youngest son, eighteen months ago.''

''He's not been interviewed, he wasn't on that list Beth Latimer gave you, was he?''

''No Sir, he's a family friend but then neither was my husband.''

''Then I need to see both of them, you take Miller, I'll take your husband.  Why am I just finding this out Tyler?  Did you not think this important that two other men Danny knew all take the same shoe size?''

''No Sir, not at the time.  The Millers were away the same time as we were, I think they got back around the same time.''

''Then I need to ask Miller's wife where he was the night he got back and I have to ask you Tyler, where was your husband the night you got back from your holiday?''

''What?''

''You heard Tyler, I told you, trust no-one.  Now answer my question, where was your husband between 2200 and 0700 on the night of Danny's death?''

Rose blinked, staring at her boss.  Damned, she had no idea where Mickey had been and here was her boss, designer stubble, unkempt hair who could have been a distant cousin of a certain American fictional detective, down to the raincoat except Hardy's was black, not grey and he had an annoying Scottish accent but his tie and his top shirt button were undone, Hardy must have watched a lot of episodes to get the same look.

''What are you suggesting, that Mickey's involved in this somehow?  He may have been up here, we have lots of rows, he goes out, I don't know where the hell he goes to.  Since we came back from holiday, he says he's going to one event or another at the pub, it's called The Bay Hotel, just by the harbour by the mini roundabout, it's painted a funny shade of blue.  They all hang out in there.''

Hardy moved closer but Rose stepped back.  ''You've not answered my question, Rose.''

Rose stared at him.  Now he was using her first name after almost a week?  ''Don't call me Rose.  No, I don't know where he was for a fact, I went to bed early, my head was killing me, I had a headache for most of the holiday and it came back on the flight home, I was sat next to Mickey snoring on one side of me and a bloke with a screaming kid on the other, it was the worst flight I've ever been on.''

''What time did you go to bed?''

''That's a bit personal,'' she half smiled, then changed her mind.  ''After we had something to eat, around eight or so, I can't remember exactly.''

Hardy let her off – again.  ''So you don't know what time he went to bed?''

''No.  I woke up at seven when my alarm went off, he wasn't there so I got ready for work and he was already downstairs, having a fight with the coffee machine.  I don't know why he bothered buying it, he only makes tea with it.''

''Back to the point Tyler, I don't need to know your domestic arrangements.  Well, call him, arrange for him to come in this afternoon after work then call your friend and ask her where her husband was and get his phone number and I'll ask him to come in tomorrow, see what they have to say for themselves.  So, back to Danny. He was strangled, we know that, there are no female footprints apart from the cleaner's and only Danny's blood.  The place was wiped clean, someone knew there were cleaning materials up here.''

Rose shook her head in despair.
Chapter 3
Rose was staring blankly at him.  He noticed and went back to what he was saying.

''So, say Danny was secretly meeting with someone he had to know or he would never have been in here.  They must have argued, Danny maybe tried to get out, there were footprints over by the wire fence, we know Danny had a cut on one of his fingers.

Before Rose realised what was happening, Hardy had backed her up against the wall and was continuing.

''A man, twice the boy's size is shouting at him to tell no-one about their meeting or maybe this wasn't the first time, then the boy freezes as his attacker puts his hands on the boy's throat.''  He was inches away from Rose's throat, his arms outstretched as he looked at her.

Hell, if she wasn't so infuriating and married he would have kissed her there and then.  Rose ducked out of his grip.

''Then maybe he was persuaded to go back inside but – oh, yes, they weren't just meeting Tyler, they were secretly meeting which means one thing.''

It dawned on Rose.  ''Tell me you're not serious?''

''Come on Tyler, it's obvious.  Danny was being groomed.  He realised what was going on, tried to get away, was persuaded to come back inside and whoever killed him backed him into a corner and was probably trying to tell him to keep the whole thing quiet and didn't realise his own strength.''

Rose shook her head.

''See Tyler, now we have a motive and an opportunity.  The means was his attacker's bare hands.''

''Great Columbo, do you happen to know who did it as well?''

Hardy was really running out of reasons to let her off so easily.

''Come on Tyler, out with it, what happened?''

''I thought we'd just established that?''

''You know I don't mean about what happened here.  I almost accuse your husband of being involved and it never bothered you, I want to know why?''

''You think he's capable?  Mickey is a snivelling coward, yes, he knew Danny but this?  No way and do you know why?  Because we grew up together on the same estate, he watched out for me when we were kids, he's six years older than me and he never once asked me out or anything until I was sixteen.  He used to look after me when my mum went to bingo, he's not into kids, male or female.''

''I don't want to be right Tyler.  Help prove me wrong then but tell me what the problem is between the two of you and maybe I can help.  I've been through it and if I can stop one person from going through the same anguish and humiliation I had to go through, then I will.  Talk to me Rose.''

Rose sat on the two-seater sofa.  Hardy sat next to her.

''I told you, don't call me Rose.  It's fine, it's my problem not yours and I am going to do something about it.  I need to give him one last chance to stay in tomorrow night when you come to dinner.  Since before we went on holiday, things have been getting worse, we went to try and patch things up but I got a headache while we were away and he thought I'd done it on purpose.  Then I come back to this, so since I'm out working, he's been going out every night.''

''I had to ask Tyler, it bothers me when someone I work with is troubled.  That's how it started with me, when I found out after everyone else did my ex was seeing someone else.  Maybe his going out is innocent Rose but you have to find out, one way or another, don't let him play you for a fool.  Call him, tell him to come to the station tonight and I'll see what I can find out but don't expect me to go easy on him because he's your husband.  By the sounds of things, he doesn't deserve you.''

He touched her cheek as he saw a tear form in the corner of her eye.  ''I'm here, if you want to talk.''

Rose didn't bother moving his finger from her cheek.  It had been months since she and Mickey had any sort of physical contact, Rose had found it a burden, she had always doubted her feelings for him in that way.  When they had just been going out, it had been fun but even after they married, it didn't seem any different and the last time had actually taken a lot of effort on her part.  Maybe she had never really loved him, she had just chosen the safe option.

Alec watched, judging by the look on her face, she had come to realise a few home truths.  All was not right in the Tyler-Smith household.  He tried to convince himself he shouldn't get involved, she was still married, even though now it seemed unhappily.  Rose shook her head and gathered her thoughts.  She was sitting on a sofa with her boss, who was now looking at her and wiping a tear from her cheek. She wanted to move but it felt comforting.

''Talk to me Rose?  Do I make you feel uncomfortable?''  He put a hand on her shoulder and rubbed his thumb over it.  ''I meant it, I want to help you.  I know I act tough but that's how I felt after my divorce, I was angry she had got away with it for so long and I hadn't seen it.  I had no-one to give me any advice.  Let me help you.''

He leaned forward, the finger that was touching her cheek began stroking if gently and Rose touched his arm as he pulled her forward.  He half expected to get a slap on the face for his troubles but she let herself be moved forward and he pushed back a strand of hair that was on her wet cheek.  Rose looked at him through her tears.  She had no idea why she was doing this in front of the man who had stolen her job from right under her nose.

''Come here Rose, promise me you'll do something about it, don't wait another two years, get out while you can.  Do you love him?''  He stroked her cheek again, wiping more tears.
Rose shook her head.  ''I don't know, I thought I did but now, I don't know why I let myself get talked into getting married, it was my mum who said I would never get a better offer, it was good for my career, being married and I suppose I was just playing it safe.  What do I do?''

Alec put an arm around her and moved closer.  ''We'd better get back, we have some interviews to conduct but promise me you'll talk to him and tell him either it's over or you want some time to think about it.  Is your house in both your names?''

''No, it's in mine, I get it subsidised with being away from home.''

''Then tell him you want him to leave while you think about it, I mean it.  If you think you made a mistake when you got married, it's not too late to do something about it, don't leave it until it is.''

He got up and offered her his hand, which she accepted.  Before she knew what was happening, she stepped forward and kissed his cheek.

''Thanks, you're the first person who actually understands without telling me I chose to get married so I'm stuck with it.''

As she tried to move away, he caught her arm.  ''You're welcome Rose.  You didn't get mad I called you that.  I hate my name because of the way my ex wife used to say it.''

Rose smiled.  ''Well I could always call you Columbo.''

Alec let her go.  ''I'm not that bad am I?'' he asked, looking at his attire and trying to straighten his tie.

Rose giggled.  ''Mmm, you're halfway there.  I'd better call that disappointment of a husband of mine before he makes plans to disappear for the evening.''

''You could always spend it with me, I can find plenty of work for you to do you know, DS Tyler.''

''I'm disappointed now, I thought that was an invitation?''

''Don't get ahead of yourself Tyler.  You do something about that excuse of a husband of yours first.  Seriously, why did you marry him?  Apart from you obviously getting talked into it.  Safety?  Security?''

''He was the most decent bloke on the estate and none of the other girls were that interested in him when he started dating me, we got stuck with each other.  I can't believe that was almost ten years ago.  How am I gonna do this?  I mean it should be obvious to him things haven't been going well but I think we both got stuck in a rut. This is gonna be awkward to say the least.  It's like I've just suddenly woken up.''

Alec took the arm away he hadn't realised she was still holding on to.  ''Welcome back to the world Tyler, now can we actually get some work done now you've woken up?''

''Ok, you're the boss – Sir and thanks again.''

''I'm only doing it for a quiet life Tyler, you were driving me crazy.''

''Sorry but you were the one being the grumpy boss, you didn't exactly help you know.''

''I was grumpy?  I wasn't the one who complained about someone taking my job, which by the way turned out to be the right decision the chief offering it to me, how many child murders have you actually solved on your own?''

Rose thought about slapping his face, something she'd been taught well by her mother.  ''That's not fair.''

''Well you were driving me crazy, not keeping up with me, you came from the big city, you should be used to your boss barking orders at you.''

''They weren't as disagreeable as you.''

''I'm disagreeable?  You were the one moping about with your marital problems instead of concentrating on the job Tyler.''

''Well I suppose you wouldn't have done that when you found out your wife was cheating on you then?''

She knew she had gone too far and would get chewed out.

''This isn't about me Tyler.  If I'm so infuriating, why did you invite me over to dinner?''

''You don't know anyone and you must be tired of eating takeouts or hotel food and sitting on your own all night in your office or your hotel room.  I thought you might actually want to have a proper conversation but perhaps I was wrong?''

She turned but he put his hand on her shoulder.  ''So am I still invited or can't you put up with me for a whole evening outside work?''

''You're still welcome if you want to come round.''

''I'd like that Rose but I'd like to see you get wasted even better.''  He stepped up and cupped her cheeks in his hands.  ''So, is it a formal evening where I call you Tyler all night and you call me Columbo?''

''No, just as long as you don't actually wear the grey raincoat.''

He closed the gap and his lips brushed hers for a few seconds.  Rose tried to move but she was suddenly glued to the spot and found herself kissing him back.  They moved apart after what to Rose seemed like the best kiss of her entire life, after only kissing Mickey and that loser Jimmy Stone, after she had started going out with Mickey, that had been it.

''I should not have done that, I'm sorry.''

''No, it was nice.''

''I meant it Rose, this can't go anywhere until you do something, I'm sorry but you are married, I know what it does to a person.  I know I've never met him and even if you think he might be cheating on you, I don't want you to make another mistake.''

''I won't.  You made me realise I do have a choice.  You made me see some sense. Maybe we should go back to the real world now?''

Rose drove them back and they never talked about what had happened.  Rose had called Mickey and given Alec Joe Miller's phone number.  The call to Mickey went down extremely well.

''I need you to come down to the station Mickey,'' Rose had told him when he finally answered his phone.

''What for?''

''My boss needs to ask you some questions about the night Danny died.''

''Seriously?'' Mickey huffed.  ''Does he think I had something to do with it?''

''Mickey, it's not just you, we're bringing lots of people in, just answer his questions and answer me one.''

''You as well?''

''Will you be in tonight?''

''Told you, I'm out tonight and tomorrow it's quiz night.  Why?  What do you need me in for 'cos you invited your boss over, he's your boss, not mine.  You work late every night.''

''That's beside the point and before you go out tonight, we need to talk.''

''About what?''

''Forget it.''  Rose wasn't going to tell him, Hardy had been right.  She didn't think Mickey really loved her after all, they had given in to the pressures of the estate and followed everyone else of their age.

Alec had called Joe Miller and he was coming in the next morning before his shift as a paramedic started.  Rose went into Alec's office.

''Sir, you do know that we should interview some of Danny's school friends?  Tom Miller and Danny were close, maybe you should ask his mother to bring him in?''

''Good idea Tyler, I knew you would come in useful.''

Rose didn't know how to take that, as a compliment or otherwise since a few hours ago they had just shared a moment.  A short time later, Alec got a call to say Mickey had arrived.  Rose decided to stay out of the way.

Mickey stared at Alec over the desk.  ''What?'' he thought to himself.  ''This is my wife's boss?''

''So, Mr Smith, where were you on the night Danny Latimer died?''

''Why don't you ask my wife?''

''I did, she said she went to bed early with a headache.''  He was going to add that Mickey had probably caused it in the first place but decided not to.

''Ok, so I went out, so what?  We'd just got back from holiday, I went for a drink at The Bay and met Nigel Carter.''  Then he remembered Joe Miller had asked him to say he was with him.  ''Joe Miller was there too.''

''What time did you leave?''

''Around ten, called at The Traders on the way back.  What's all this about?  Am I under suspicion then?''

''We're just eliminating people from our enquiries, we'll be checking with the two men you said you were with.''

Alec thought Nigel Carter was mixed up in this somehow, he had failed to give his employer an alibi for the evening so now he was supposed to have been with Tyler's husband.  He made a note and carried on until he was satisfied Miller was going to come up with the same excuse.  Maybe all three of them had been involved and his theory had been wrong.  Carter's mother had said he was in with her but wasn't sure, he'd gone out to his garage around eight so maybe he had been at the pub with Smith for some of the time but Mark Latimer had been caught on camera on Briar Cliff Car Park so the mystery was deepening and depended on what Joe Miller had to say tomorrow.

''So Smith, did you go straight home when you left The Traders Hotel?''

''Yeah, Rose was asleep when I got back, I know better than to wake her up, she'd been in a mood all the way back on the plane.''

Alec was about to say he wasn't surprised given the man had been snoring next to her all the way home.  He wasn't going to act as marriage guidance councillor though.

''Just one more thing, what size shoe do you take?''

''What?  Size 10, why?''

''Just elimination.  Have you ever been up by the hut on Briar Cliff?''

''Yeah, went to see to a car up there before we went on holiday.  The guy wasn't around so I went up there to see if he was inside the hut, he'd gone behind it, if you know what I mean?  He came round the other side as I was looking for him.  Plus I go up there sometimes to walk, when me and Rose…'' He stopped.

Alec thought he didn't need to hear any more and was glad he had encouraged his DS to do something but he couldn't just forget what had happened earlier.  He had wanted to kiss her since the day she had chewed him out for taking her job.  This man sitting before him didn't seem to appreciate her.  Rose had been right, maybe they had been following the estate herd and got married for the sake of it.  He tried to justify his actions earlier, if she didn't love her husband, maybe never loved him, was it wrong to make a play for her?  He knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of things but was Smith actually bothered?

Alec got up, he needed his pills after this.  ''You can go for now.''

''So Rose invited you for dinner tomorrow night then?  You keep her working late you know.''

''Do you think I enjoy working my staff late Smith?''

Mickey got up.  ''I don't know, do you?  You like keeping my wife working late, then she wonders why I go out.''

As Mickey walked out, Alec thought he was a jerk.  He quickly got a drink of water from the dispenser and took his pills then went back upstairs.  It was after five and Rose was still working, having just got off the phone asking her friend Ellie to bring her son in tomorrow.  He walked into his office, Rose followed him and closed the door.

''So how did it go then?''

''You want my personal or professional opinion Tyler?  Professionally, he's hiding something, he used Carter as an alibi, he needs some new friends.  Personally, he's a jerk, I don't know what you saw in him.''

Rose sat across from him.  ''Neither do I.  I told him we needed to talk and he asked about what.''

Alec picked up a folder.  ''I rest my case Tyler.  He complained I keep you working late and that gives a licence to go out every night.  Do I keep you working late?''

''Only a couple of times, I've worked later.   He's just using it as an excuse, I know that now and I am gonna talk to him when I get home, if I can keep him in long enough.''

''Go on, get out of here, go catch him before he goes out and get it over with.  You know where I am if you need me.''

''Sir, are you ok?''

''What?  Just because I showed you a bit of sympathy earlier?  Don't get used to it at work Tyler.''

''I didn't mean that.  Sometimes I get the impression you're hiding something from me.''

''I don't want to discuss it with you, see to your own problems first.  See you in the morning.''

She knew she would never get him to discuss their brief but wonderful kiss earlier. She had definitely not been expecting it was but it wasn't unwelcome and as first exploratory kisses went, it wasn't bad either.  Rose went to her car and decided since she had got out early to call and get something for her dinner guest tomorrow night.  By the time she got out of the supermarket, Mickey was already stuffing his face with fish and chips he had got on the way home.  Why was she surprised?

''Mickey, we need to talk.  Seriously.  I think you should stay in tonight, I mean it. We both know this is going nowhere Mickey and I think we should talk things out.''

''Can't now, got a darts match in half an hour.  You should have got the pretty boy boss of yours to let you out early.''

''Mickey, this is not funny.  I want some space, I think you should move out for a while.''

That made him stop in his tracks.  ''What?  Where did that come from?  I've given you nothing but space since before we went on holiday.''

''It's not helped because you've been driving me insane, going out to this, that and the other, hogging the coffee maker and the toaster every morning, leaving your dishes, do you think they clean themselves?''

Mickey blinked.  ''You're using me Mickey, I'm tired of it, I want to be on my own for a while to think things over.''

''Fine, whatever, I'm gonna be late, can I take your car?''

''Mickey, no, you're not listening to me.  Just get your things and go, I need some time.''

''You complain about me going out then tell me to leave?''

''Yeah because we do nothing but argue when you come back and I'm tired of it Mickey.  This whole getting married thing was a huge mistake.  I mean nothing is happening, it's like we still are just going out except we live together.  I don't know why I let my mother talk me into this.''

''But Rose, don't you love me?''

''I might have done but getting married, I don't know any more.  We've tried for two years Mickey, it's time to quit.''

''Who have you been talking to Rose?''

''Someone who understands and has been through it all and told me I don't have to put up with it.''

''Who was that then?''

''A friend.''
Chapter 4
Mickey slammed the door on the way out saying it was unreasonable she threw him out when he had nowhere to go.  Rose had said fine, he could use the spare room until he found somewhere but she wasn't going back to him, it was finished as far as she was concerned.  She sat down and wondered whether to call her mother or not, she probably wouldn't get any sympathy from there, Jackie Tyler was always on Mickey's side.  Maybe Mickey had successfully persuaded her mother to get her to give in and marry him.

She scrolled through her contacts on her phone and stopped at 'Hardy Alec' and paused.  Without realising, she pressed the green button and was surprised when he didn't answer her in his usual gruff voice.

''Hardy,'' he simply said, then realising the display said 'Tyler'

''I'm sorry to bother you but you said, if I wanted to talk, your door was open.''

''I meant it.  Have you talked to him?''

''Yes.  Can I come and see you?''

''Meet me in the hotel bar in twenty minutes, I just got in myself.  Oh and Tyler, you did the right thing.''

''I hope so, see you then.''

She hung up and went to put her jeans and a top on and a hooded zipped sweatshirt since it was cool in the evenings and picked up her car keys.  It was only a five minute drive but opting not to park in the car park which could be a pain to get in to, she parked outside the newspaper office, not the smartest of decisions since she was meeting her boss to moan about her husband.

Walking into the small bar, hoping very much Mickey wasn't going to be there but it was very unlikely, she said hello to Becca.

''Hi Rose, what are you doing here?  I've not seen Mickey tonight but I expect he'll be in later.''

''I'm meeting my boss actually, we have some things to go over and we didn't want to seem too keen to keep working in the office or the chief super will think we'll be claiming overtime.  What time does Mickey come in?''

Becca smiled.  ''Around ten, he's been complaining you always work late.''

''Well do me a favour Becca and don't tell him I was here or I'll never hear the end of it.''

''Sure Rose, how was the holiday anyway?  Mickey didn't really say much.''

''I had a headache most of the time, must have been the heat.''

Rose got herself a white wine with plenty of lemonade, she was allowed one drink and now wished she had got a taxi but she could make up for it tomorrow night, after all, Hardy had said he'd like to see her get wasted.  She saw him in the doorway and got off the stool as he motioned her to go into the sitting room, then ordered a light lager for himself, forgoing the glass.  Becca took no notice, Mickey had been right to complain, didn't Rose see enough of her grumpy boss?

Alec closed the door and sat in the chair beside the sofa.  ''You wanted to talk Tyler.''

''We're not working, you called me Rose earlier.  I told Mickey I wanted him to move out.''

Alec took a swig from the green coloured bottle.  ''And has he?''

''Not exactly, says he's nowhere else to go, I can't throw him out on the street, I'd have to arrest him.  I told him he could have the spare room until he finds somewhere which knowing him will take some time.  He might decide to go back to London but I've told him it's all over, he didn't put up much of a fight.''

''I'm sorry to hear that Rose, I really wanted to be wrong about it.''

''It's ok, it's been two years in coming, told you I made a big mistake, geez did I make a mistake.''

Alec put the bottle down and made her move over.

''Well it's over now, make the most of it.  Drink up Rose or did you bring your car?''

''Huh?  Oh yeah, I never thought, I didn't want to presume you would want to spend all evening with me since I cornered you into coming over for dinner tomorrow night.''

''You didn't corner me, you kindly invited me and I was rude to delay in taking you up on the offer.  Maybe I should just get you some tonic water then?  You can make up for it tomorrow night.''

He got up before she could argue.  He came back and put the drink in front of her, taking the seat next to her again.  Neither of them knew exactly where it came from but they began by Alec taking her glass away from her hand when she had just taken a drink and he ran his thumb over her cheek.  He just prayed no-one would bother coming in since the door was open and they were sitting behind it now as Rose raked her fingers through his hair and his arm was on her back and almost touching her bra strap under her pink top as he leaned her against the cushion and they were kissing for all they were worth.

They broke apart when the sound of a familiar voice was heard outside and she froze, putting her finger to her lips.

''That's Mickey,'' she whispered, getting up suddenly and Alec getting up with her.  ''I hope Becca keeps her word or she thinks I've left, I never realised we'd been here this long.''

Alec looked at his watch.  ''It's only nine thirty, where was he going?''

''Darts or pool or something equally stupid.  You have to sneak me out of here Alec.''

''Come on then, we don't pass the bar to go out by the back stairs but we have to go up one flight, my room's on the second floor though,'' he offered hopefully.

''Just get me out of this sitting room first.  Then I'll show my gratitude.''

''What does he look like again?  I wasn't taking that much notice earlier.''

''Don't worry, his voice will give him away,'' Rose grinned, getting her phone and showing a rare photo she had of him, fairly certain Mickey had taken it himself.

''Right, stay behind me and I'll sneak you out but we continue this in my room.''

''Well you'd better hope he doesn't see my car when he goes back out, it's parked across outside the newspaper office.''

''What did you leave it there for?''

''Because it's awkward getting into the pub car park and I didn't think I was gonna be here so long, I got a bit distracted.''

''Really?  Can't imagine how you managed that.''

Rose glared at him.  He glanced out into the corridor and seeing the way to the stairs was clear, grabbed her hand and pushed her in front of him, still facing him and wrapped his arms around her so her face was buried in his shoulder and shielded her from view of the bar if anyone happened to be looking out, which Mickey was since Becca mentioned she had seen Rose earlier when Mickey asked, then Becca had cursed herself but she thought Rose had gone ages ago.

Mickey was just saying ''so Rose said she was meeting her boss?  I met him earlier, I don't like him.''

''You and half the town mate,'' someone Mickey had never been sure of the name of offered up.  ''I'm sure I just saw him a minute ago, I think he was trying to sneak a woman up to his room, they were just getting cosy in the hallway.''

'That'll be a first,'' Becca mused.  Rose must have gone when Hardy said his girlfriend was coming over.

Mickey picked up his pint and thought nothing of it despite Rose telling him earlier she was through with him, she wouldn't take up with her boss, she had done nothing other than moan more about Hardy than she had about him and hogging the toaster and coffee machine every morning.  He sat down and thought about what she had said, maybe they had gone wrong somewhere but they had gone out for a number of years, it was only natural they would get married but perhaps Rose had taken some persuading.  Still, she had agreed in the end but could he honestly say she had been happy?

Maybe he should try and make up to her?  Maybe he should stay in tomorrow night when her boss came for a meal?  Nah, not tomorrow, his mates were relying on him for the pub quiz, maybe another night, she wasn't going anywhere.  She was, up to Alec's room as fast as they could get there.  Throwing off her already unzipped hooded top, Alec took off his jacket hurriedly as Rose took off her top then hungrily pulled him towards her as they began kissing, trying to unfasten all his shirt buttons in one go but missing half of them, nipping down and kissing the uncovered parts of his slightly hairy chest until the last button came undone.  Alec had done most of them, Rose was all fingers and thumbs and giggling as she let go and began pulling down her jeans after he unbuttoned them and slid down the zip.

Rose was pulling his shirt over his shoulders as her jeans slid to the floor and he lifted her out of them, heading for the bed.  They landed on it as Rose fumbled with the zip of his trousers, Alec sincerely hoping he wasn't going to need any extra pills but he wanted her so badly right now and she was willing to participate when all she had come here for was a drink and to tell him she was leaving her husband. That was enough for him and if she hadn't ever really loved him, that wasn't like he was breaking up her marriage, she was leaving the jerk who clearly had not treated her well.

Rose lay back against the pillows as she reached out and pulled his trousers over his hips and he reached around to unclasp her pink silky bra.  Rose smiled and licked her lips as he wriggled out of his trousers, tossing them on the floor, hell, he would sort them out later.  He let out a low growl as her bra was tossed over the headboard and he dived down to kiss where it had been as she raked her fingers through his hair.  He was glad now he'd had a bit of a shave earlier in an attempt to smarten himself up, just in case Rose decided to follow up on their impromptu kiss in the hut earlier.  He didn't want her complaining she was kissing his beard and not him.

Rose was making soft contented noises under him as he kissed and licked his way across her soft skin and she reached around his back, lowering her fingers to the waistband of his boxers.  He moved a hand away and tried to stop her, he wasn't ready to go into that territory just yet and he certainly wouldn't survive if he even attempted it.

He looked up from what he was doing, no words had been spoken since he had closed the door firmly behind them, their lips already glued together.

''Rose, just wait, I've not finished with you yet.''

''Mmm, I hope not, I've been neglected for rather a long time and I want you to be the one to put that right.  In fact, you've already made a big impression on me.  I never realised it could be like this.''

Alec looked up again.  ''I hope you're not being serious?  You were married for two years.  I know you said things were going wrong but you mean he never touched you like this?''

Rose shook her head, not expecting his reaction.  ''No, it's been months since we had sex and it wasn't like this, I mean even before we got married that's all it was, just the act and I don't know why now.  Is there something wrong with me Alec?  Why do you make me feel like this?''

''We need a serious talk Rose but not now, let me finish showing you what you've been missing out on first.''

''I think you'd better but I'll have to leave soon before he sees my car.''

Alec bit her gently and she let out a sigh.  ''So what if he does?  Stay with me Rose?''

''Not tonight Alec, this is really nice but now you've given me something to think about, that rat of a husband of mine was holding out on me.  I thought it was normal.''

''Oh Rose, you have no idea and if you need time, then that's ok.  It's not just about the sex, it's what it means, taking your time with each other, appreciating each other and finding out the things you like but that's only a part of it.  Maybe you two went out for too long and you just felt the pressure, doing what everyone else was doing, you shouldn't get married just for that.  Me, I made a mistake too but I didn't know she was going to go off with someone else.  With me, it was work.''

He was now leaning on one arm, admiring her features and stroking her soft fleshy parts then kissing them.

''But didn't you both work together?  Aren't you afraid it will happen again?''

''Rose, you are so different from her.  I know we didn't get on when I first came here and I took your job and I am sorry for that, I don't normally apologise but I had to get away, the chief was forced to take me, there weren't that many vacancies.''

'It's ok Alec, I understand.  I was just taking it out on you because I know now my marriage was failing and we couldn't make up while we were away, it was a waste of a week's holiday.  Maybe I would still have got mad with you though.''

He leaned down to kiss her again then reached over to the headboard and handed her bra to her.

''I'll walk you to your car, just in case your husband is lurking around.  Maybe I can arrest him for neglect?''

Rose smiled.  ''Best put your trousers on first detective.''

Alec looked on the floor, he was so going to regret throwing them down there but he didn't regret what almost happened just then, the time would come when she was ready.  Maybe he should wait until she left her husband but he didn't deserve her, she was far too young for him and was sorely lacking experience.  Was it fair he should be the one to teach her?

They got dressed, it was almost ten thirty and after he picked up his keys and mobile, he took her down the back stairs and they crossed over the road quickly. Rose's phone hadn't rung so she assumed Mickey was still inside the hotel or he hadn't noticed when leaving, maybe talking to someone.  Alec took her into the doorway of the newspaper office, shielding her from the road.  He leaned down to kiss her, putting his arms around her.

''Goodnight Rose, I'll see you in the morning, get some sleep.  Call me if you need me, ok?''

Rose nodded.  ''I'm sorry I got a bit carried away earlier, I'm not used to a man wanting to take his time over me.''

Alec smiled.  If this was going to happen, he needed to tell her something he had omitted to tell the chief but would she turn him in?  They kissed for a few minutes, never noticing three men coming out of the hotel.  The man with grey curly hair nudged Mickey.

''See, I told you, the new detective's got himself a girlfriend, can't keep his hands off her by the look of it.''

Mickey grinned, too busy watching to notice his wife's car parked opposite, there were loads of the same models in the police department.  If Rose had met the detective earlier she would be home by now, maybe he could try talking to her and what would she be doing with Hardy anyway?

Rose was smiling all the way home, the way he had touched her had sent shivers down her and she had nearly blown it thinking he just wanted to have sex with her.  Boy had she been with the wrong men on the estate, first that loser Jimmy Stone then straight to safe Mickey.  Maybe it had been her bad experience with Jimmy that had made her think all men were like that but not Alec Hardy, he had shown her otherwise and she wanted to learn more.

Rose had only been home ten minutes when Mickey walked in.

''Move your things out of the bedroom Mickey, before I go up.''

''Come on Rose, let's talk about this.''

''I gave you a chance earlier, you were in too much of a hurry to get out, you weren't listening to me.''

''Well I'm here now aren't I?  And what were you doing at The Traders with your boss?''

''Mind your own business.  He called me with some theories he wanted to discuss, I wasn't there long.''

She knew she couldn't trust Becca Fisher, the woman had given one of their suspects an alibi but there were three more, all around the same height and build and could have been up at the hut.  They just needed a witness who saw the person responsible putting Danny on the beach and maybe the woman from the caravan site saw more than she was letting on.  She would have to talk to Alec about it tomorrow.

Rose turned around, not noticing Mickey coming up behind her, grabbing her waist.

''Come on babe, at least give me a kiss?''  He tried to turn her face but she screwed it up at him and dodged out of the way.

''Get off me you big loon, I told you, I'm not interested, get out of here before I change my mind and throw you on the streets and I can't be bothered locking you up for vagrancy.''

''You changed Rose, what happened to you?''

''I married you and it was a mistake, I know that now.  I listened to you and my mother, telling me what was best for me and my career and what did it get me? Two years of misery and I still have respect despite sticking to my maiden name, damn it Mickey, half of the town probably doesn't even know I'm married except for this plain ring I wear, you never even bought me an engagement ring. If I remember correctly, all you said was 'do you need one?'  Well if we'd got engaged, maybe I would have seen sense and not bothered.''

''Come on Rose, what brought all this on?  We were ok, you agreed to marry me. Why all of a sudden?''

''Does it matter?  Don't tell me you've not thought it was a mistake?  All I've done is clean up after you, cook for you and you're home just as much as I am, you can't even wash out your mug properly, you never could.  You treat this house like your old flat back in London, just go back there Mickey, I'm done with it all.  You have until I get out of the bathroom to move your stuff out of the bedroom.''

''Not even an 'I'm sorry?'''

''For what?  We made a mistake Mickey, we followed everyone else on the estate but I got us out by being good at my job and now, I almost screw it up by arguing with my boss because I can't deal with you and the endless rows so I'm getting out before I lose my job altogether, I have a child killer to catch.  Hardy told me you couldn't give him a reasonable alibi as to where you were that night after you left the pub, don't expect me to say you were here because I don't know and I told him that.''

''I told him where I was, I came home after leaving The Traders, Joe Miller was with me, we left at the same time.''

''Yeah?  Well Ellie doesn't know where he was either, are you giving each other an alibi?''

''No, 'course not.''

Rose thought he was a bit hasty to refute that statement but since she couldn't prove they weren't actually with each other, she had to let it go.

She went to the bathroom then caught Mickey with a handful of clothes coming out of what had been their bedroom.  Neither of them spoke as Rose went into the larger of the two, they'd only got a two bedroomed house so her mother could come down and stay and every time she did, she always took Mickey's side.  She wondered if Alec had gone to bed yet and risked sending him a message.

'It was nice earlier, thank you.  Sorry I had to go, wish I had stayed now, I'm miserable on my own.'

She got one back a few minutes later.  'Yes, it was nice and I have so much to teach you, maybe tomorrow night?'

She replied with 'Yes please :)' and got into bed, a smile on her face as she imagined Alec laying above her, smiling down and kissing her bare flesh and running his fingers across her tummy as she ruffled his hair.   She had almost blown it by trying to get his shorts off, Mickey had always been in a rush, like it was a race and she had almost done the same upon reaching Alec's hotel room, trying to get his shorts off but maybe like Alec said, it's not just about sex, it's about taking your time and enjoying yourself and she had certainly done that a short while ago and she hoped Alec had done too.
Chapter 5
A/N: Events may not take place in the same order as the series

The next morning, Rose set off early hoping to catch Alec in his office before most of the others arrived and saw him sitting at his desk.  He motioned her to go in and she sat opposite him.

''Morning Sir, did you have a pleasant evening?''

He smirked across the desk.

''Don't forget the white wine tonight, will you?''

''Wouldn't dream of it Tyler.  You got rid of your husband yet?''

''No but he told me something inadvertently.  Claims he was with Joe Miller until closing time at The Traders the night of Danny's death.''

''I already knew that.''

''No, it was the way he said it, like he was being defensive, you know, a bit too quick to answer.  I asked if they were providing alibis for each other and he was a bit too quick to say no.  Since Miller's wife can't vouch where he was either, I had to let it go.  I think we should talk to Susan Wright again, I think she saw more than she's letting on.''

''Very good Tyler, I'll make a detective out of you yet.  You get her back in here, I've got Miller coming in then call his wife, have her bring her boy in, what's his name?''

Rose smiled. ''Tom, he was Danny's best friend.  I know the family, maybe I should interview him?''

''Suit yourself Tyler but don't think you're taking over this investigation just yet.''

''Wouldn't dream of it Sir.  There's just one thing, Ellie Miller has two sons, someone will have to watch the youngest.  I'll set the video up in here and maybe you could watch him in the other office?''

''What?  Very amusing Tyler.''

Alec had just finished with Joe Miller, getting more or less the same story as from Mickey and Alec was getting suspicious.  He had just finished and wandered into the interview room Rose was questioning Susan Wright in.  Rose excused herself for a moment and went outside with him.

''She saw a figure, on the beach that night, dressed all in black, came ashore in a boat and took something out, she reckoned it was Danny then whoever it was threw the skateboard onto the sands and got back in the boat.''

''Well done Tyler.  The killer must have stolen the boat from below the hut, find out if any are missing or if anyone has reported one missing.  A call came in while you were in the interview room, there's been a disturbance down at the newsagents, that nosey reporter has been stirring up trouble.  Have you finished with her?''

''For now, I'll just tell her she can go.  You want me to come with you?''

''That was the idea Tyler, tired of my company?''

''No, are you tired of mine?  I'll pick you up outside in ten minutes unless you want to walk?''

''You think I can't walk anywhere Tyler?  If I can't keep up with you I'll buy you an ice-cream.''

''Make it a coffee and you're on.''

Alec smiled and went to wait in the lobby.  Rose nipped back upstairs to get her shoulder bag she used for work and joined him and walking down the steps, they set off.  Jack Marshall was not happy, complaining about Olly Stevens insinuating things about his past and soon Rose was writing his statement and Alec was telling him it would all blow over.

The interview with Tom went reasonably well, after they got back from the harbour café and Rose had to pay for the drinks since she couldn't keep up with his long legs.  Alec found someone to watch Ellie's youngest boy while he observed.  She was good at her job, he had to give her that.  Just before three, he suggested going back out to the hut, Rose should have known it wasn't to do with the investigation as Alec locked the door and made sure the blinds were closed, pulling Rose towards the sofa.

''You're not going to demonstrate how to strangle a young boy are you again?'' Rose enquired as he hungrily nipped at her exposed skin after he unfastened the last few buttons of her blue blouse that was already undone by two buttons at the top so it didn't take long.

''Shut up Tyler, I'm experimenting what might have gone on that night.''

It was her turn to raise her eyebrows.  ''I doubt very much they were doing what you're doing now.''

''I'm improvising.''

He unzipped her trousers, inadvertently pulling her underwear down at the same time and not really caring, he hadn't got near far enough for his liking in his room last night.  He put his hand down the back as she unfastened his zipper then reached her hand down the back.

''Just don't make a lot of noise Tyler, there were a few cars down there, the drivers might come back.''

Rose tried to protest but all witty remarks she had lined up flew out of the window as before she realised, he had pulled her underwear further down and managed to get his trousers down at the front to have an impact on her as when he climbed on her, skin touch skin and Rose quivered beneath him on the small sofa.  He knew she had never done this in such a way before as she whimpered an 'Alecccc'' into his neck and held on to avoid them falling on the floor as he moved against her, moving her legs where he wanted them and making her shiver again and whispering ''gawd, Alec, what are you trying to do to me?''

Whatever it was, she definitely did not want it to ever stop as she wriggled under him as he continued to lay on top of her, not wanting to try to do any more than he was already doing but he needed some release from all the tension that had been building up, even before he had met the beautiful woman now giggling like crazy under him, he loved hearing that sound, he felt like joining in.  Rose was begging him to stop, she couldn't take any more and was giggling uncontrollably beneath him but the more she begged him and continued moving, the more he found he couldn't stop until he heard a noise outside.

He looked up and put his finger over Rose's lips and motioned her to shush.  He moved away, Rose sulking at being deprived of the pleasure he had just been giving her and he quickly zipped himself up and motioned Rose to do the same then pulled her up and went to the window, thankful he had made sure all the blinds were down.  The noise had stopped and he decided it must have been people looking around and being nosey.

Then he heard another sound and motioned her to go into the kitchen at the side and slowly moved the blind on the door.  Rose didn't think it would be the killer returning in broad daylight, no-one would be that stupid, well not unless it was actually Mickey.  Alec saw a man walking away and opened the door.  The man turned around.

''Who are you?  What are you going inside my property?''

''You must be the owner, I'm DI Hardy, Broadchurch Police.  My DS and I were inside checking some things out, you do know this is a crime scene?''

The yellow tape was still around, they had dodged under it again but the police patrol had been removed once forensics had finished.

''I wondered why I couldn't get my key in the lock.''

Alec grimaced, he'd just turned the key in a big rush to finish what they had almost got started in his room last night, he had been dying to get inside her knickers since they had met and he had almost lost control when he had, although not by purposely pulling them down with her trousers but the end result had been the same.  The man continued.

''The woman who cleans up here, she said you still had the key, what's going on?''

''We're just trying to figure out what happened.  Forensics have just finished, we were going over a few things.''  More like going over a few of Tyler's things, he thought, one being her cute ass for a start that he'd kept staring at whenever he allowed her to walk in front of him.

''I see detective inspector.  When do you think you'll be finished?  My wife and I are anxious to get a week here before the end of the summer.''

Rose was listening, how could anyone want to have a week here after what had happened?  Mind you, she had some room to talk, she had just been groping her boss's arse for a good twenty minutes, it had felt good too.  What the hell had she been missing out on?  First thing Monday morning, she was going to the local court to get a divorce started on grounds of two years of neglect in that department.  Hell, never mind Monday, she would make a start tomorrow, Alec would surely give her time off or she could take an extended lunch break, not that they ever took one anyway, maybe they should start?

''We have your contact details Mr Ryan, as soon as our investigation completes, you'll be notified.  Meanwhile, we'll hold on to the keys, we are getting more information all the time.''

The man huffed and went back towards the car park, wondering whether the DI's partner was male or female.  Rose giggled when Alec went back inside and locked the door again.  She whacked his arm playfully.

''Moron, we nearly got caught then.''

Alec frowned, rubbing his arm.  ''Well we didn't, did we?  You weren't doing much objecting before we were interrupted, were you Tyler?  You were too busy groping my arse.  I hope you didn't leave any incriminating evidence on that sofa?''

''Huh?  Cheek!  It was your idea to come here, we could have gone to your hotel.  I've been thinking.  If I take an hour off tomorrow, I could go up to the court, see what I need to begin divorce proceedings.  Is it difficult?''

''I don't know, Tess did it all, I just signed the papers, it never came to divorce lawyers.  Why wait until tomorrow?''

Rose looked at him.  ''I'm gonna do it Alec, I know I never loved him now, I was fooled all this time but like you said, it's not too late to realise your mistakes.  I owe you.''

''Do you?  Do you think I'm actually pleased to be breaking up your marriage?  Even if you don't, as you say now, love him, he could make things difficult for you.''

''Why?  I never changed my name for a lot of things, my bank for one and my driving licence, even my passport, I never got around to it though I got a funny look when we went away the other week, told them I hadn't got around to changing it.  I suppose it was my way of keeping my independence.  If you don't want to keep seeing me, I understand.''

''Why wouldn't I?  My faded reputation is already against me Rose, sticking by you through a divorce can't make it any worse and I do feel responsible, partly, for encouraging you.  Get it over with, trust me, don't let it drag on by going into denial.  We pretended everything was alright because of our daughter, I even took the blame when my ex lost some evidence, I didn't want her knowing her mother was meeting another man when her car got broken into.''

''That was a brave thing to do Alec, take the blame for something that clearly wasn't your fault.  I just don't want to drag you into this.''

He put his arms around her, leaning down to kiss her.  ''You already have Tyler. Now back to work before I kick that cute ass of yours back down to the car.''

''Yes Sir, you'd know, you stare at it often enough.''

He let her go first to prove his point, she did have a nice ass and hoped he'd get to see it close up pretty soon.

They never got to hear much about another incident after they both left the station for the evening, Rose to prepare dinner for Alec and Alec himself to go buy white wine as per Rose's instructions and to find a florists, not the local supermarket but was out of luck so he had to settle for a nice box of chocolates.  Alec had got a uniformed officer to keep an eye on the harbour newsagent after earlier but a scuffle broke out after a group of men led by Nigel Carter confronted the man outside the sea scout hut.

Mickey had come home and found Rose cooking.

''You staying in then?'' Mickey asked casually.  ''Not meeting your boss again?''

''I told you he was coming over for dinner.  You've obviously got better things to do.''

''Can't let the team down but I don't know if they'll be there now, Joe rang to say he'd run round to Mark's to tell him something about Nigel, he was on his way to the harbour, don't know what it was about though, he never said.''

Rose wasn't too worried what that bunch of stupid apes were doing down by the harbour, she was more interested in entertaining her far too cute boss.  Mickey disappeared out, asking again to use her car but she told him to get lost, after telling him she going to make enquiries about separation and he had until Monday to get out and he telling her he wouldn't fight it if she let him stay until he found a place.  She had to agree, she didn't really want to drag Alec into it and if Mickey was agreeable, it could all be over in a few weeks.  Now she just had to tell her mother without saying she had been encouraged by her boss who wanted to take her husband's place.

Did he though?  Did Alec Hardy actually want to take her husband's place?  She didn't want to push him on the subject, she might drive him away and now she realised she needed him, not because of earlier, which had been unexpected and most welcome but she was beginning to care about him and was sure he was hiding something because twice they had come really close, even closer a few hours ago and he'd stopped short of them actually having sex.

Maybe that was just her though, that was what she expected of a bloke, to just do the act then crawl away and snore their heads off.  If Alec asked to stay with her tonight, she wasn't going to say no this time but it couldn't be here, she didn't want to complicate matters and name Alec in the divorce, she couldn't do that to him, he had a teenage daughter and it would destroy the girl to see her father named in another woman's divorce proceedings and it could mean one of them would get transferred immediately.

If she kept it quiet, got Mickey to sign, then he couldn't add it later and if he found out, which he probably wouldn't since he was a bit slow on the uptake she had been with Alec last night and he'd probably witnessed her snogging him in the doorway of the newspaper office as she was sure someone had come out as Alec had chosen that moment to back her into the corner and tried to get his hand down her knickers, then it would all go through and people would be none the wiser as only her closest friends and a few colleagues actually knew she was married to Mickey.

The doorbell rang and Rose went to answer, seeing Alec standing there with a bottle in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other and a grin on his face.  He greeted her with a kiss on the cheek as he passed the wine bottle to her.

''You said white did you not?  I'm looking forward to watching you get wasted later so don't disappoint me Tyler.''

''I don't really have a reason to now, I should be celebrating instead.  I wouldn't want to disappoint you though, since you were looking forward to it so much but not here, I've got a feeling Mickey will be back early, he said his mates were down by the harbour over something earlier.  We'll just eat then let's go to your hotel room, I want to be the one divorcing him, not the other way around.''

''I told you, I don't care about getting caught up in it.''  He took her left hand after putting the chocolates down on the kitchen table.

''Do you still need this?''

Rose looked at him and backed off.  ''Look Rose, I know it's a daunting subject but if you are going ahead, you have to start somewhere.  Think about it.''

Rose showed him into the living room which was tidy for a change after they had eaten and she brought in tea and cake she had bought for the occasion and putting his cup down on the empty plate he touched her cheek.

''Are you mad at me for some reason Rose?  You've hardly spoken.  I know I'm not one for starting a conversation but I would really like to talk.  It seems your dilemma over your husband is at an end.  Do you think he's still seeing someone himself?''

''It would account for where he was that night.  I'm sure Mark wasn't the only one who could find himself another woman and now I don't care if he was or is still seeing someone.  I'm sorry Alec, I dragged you into all this because I couldn't deal with the case and Mickey at the same time and now, there's only the case to deal with, I feel like I've involved you for no reason at all.  You must really hate me now for making a fool of myself in front of you.''

''Is that what you think?  I wanted to help and I still do.  Come back to my hotel Rose, stay with me tonight.''

''I don't know Alec, you gave me a lot to think about you know.  I'm all mixed up right now, I get the feeling you think I was just using you.''

''Were you?''

''No, I just needed someone to talk to and you were willing to listen.  You taught me being with a man isn't just about having sex.''

''Oh Rose, I could teach you so much more, if you would let me and I don't think you were just using me.''

''I thought that's what was holding you back, you know, when you stopped me last night and when we just touched back up there in the hut.''

Alec smiled.  If only she knew.  Maybe it was time to share his secret but could he trust her enough not to get him thrown out of her house and his job?

''Rose, that was not why I was holding back.  Yes, I do want to have sex with you and what we did earlier was more than pleasant, I'd like to take things further with you.''

''Really?  Maybe we should wait until I get Mickey to sign the divorce papers, then I won't feel so guilty about it.''

''Aye then, if that's what you want but I still want you to spend the night with me.''

''I'll grab a few things and we'll leave but if Mickey comes back then I can't stay, he'll know.''

''Well what are you waiting for Tyler?''

Rose smiled and they kissed.  She went to clear the dinner dishes away and went to her bedroom, throwing clean underwear, her trousers for work and a clean white blouse into a small overnight bag and went downstairs.  They were just getting into the car when Mickey showed up, just after nine thirty.

''Where are you going?'' Mickey asked, eyeing Alec putting his seat belt on.

''I'm dropping my boss at his hotel then I'm staying at Jen's''  'Jen' was a work colleague that Mickey had never met and therefore couldn't ask any questions but Rose had mentioned her a few times, like the night all the girls went out and got totalled.

''What you going there for?''

''Because I don't want to stay here with you.  I meant it Mickey, I want you out so don't drag your heels over finding somewhere, I want my house back.''

''I'm not stopping you from living here am I?  Does it bother that much all of a sudden?''

''Yes, it does actually.  I'm not staying in the same house with you and I'm not paying for you to stay here either.  Where you go is down to you.  You have a week or so until the divorce papers arrive, after that, you're on your own.''

She got into the car, Mickey stepping out of the way and watching her drive off.  He wondered what the hell he had done to bring this on all of a sudden.  Surely she wasn't having an affair with her boss?  That would be career suicide, she liked her job here, she wouldn't get tangled with him and risk getting moved but maybe that was why she was in a hurry to get him out.  He thought about it. Nah, she wouldn't do anything stupid like that, her mother would disown her.
Chapter 6
A/N: Don't quote me on divorce proceedings, I made them all up for the purpose of the story (I think!)

They got to the hotel and Alec took them through the side entrance and up to his room.  Putting her things on the chair, Rose was suddenly not as confident as when she had left.  The confrontation with Mickey had clouded her better judgement and she was beginning to have doubts she could go ahead with this.  Alec had noticed.

''Not backing out are you Tyler?'' he asked, walking up to her and putting his arms around her neck so she raised her own arms and put them around his slim waist.

She looked up at him.  ''No, 'course not, it's just he fazed me out a little bit, you know.  I was confident until he came back, if we'd got away a few minutes earlier, I wouldn't have seen him.''

''Don't let it put you off Rose, come on, forget about him.  Tomorrow, you'll have the papers, get him to sign and you're free.  Don't make the same mistake I did, pretending you can put things right.  He's still playing on your feelings, it seems to me that's all he ever did.  Let me ask you something.  You can tell me to mind my own business if you want?''

''Ask me, I don't want any secrets between us.  I just can't tell anyone, that's all.  I want to, I want everyone to know but if anyone finds out, Mickey won't sign.  How are we gonna keep all this quiet?''

He held her tightly.  ''Rose, I told you I don't care about that.  Maybe, if he does find out, it will make him realise he was just using you.''

''Yeah and it might go against me, complicate things.  I can't see him being able to afford a fancy divorce lawyer though, Mickey likes to spend his money, I'm the one that keeps us afloat.  He'll probably end up in a cheap B&B somewhere at the back of town, I only pay half rent, I get the rest paid since I'm away from home.  I told him he could stay until I give notice on the house but after that, he might use that against me, say I threw him out.''

''Rose, once he's signed, he can't do that, trust me and once he has signed, he can't name me either, not unless he gets a lawyer and even then it will be hard to prove. Just go to the court tomorrow and get the paperwork, I'll help you fill it all in or they can do it for you.  Take your time, then all he has to do is sign, he can't claim he doesn't know what to fill in.  What are you going to do about your house, once you've given notice?''

''I'll have to wait until the month's up, get my allowance transferred.  I'll just have to go back there and put up with it.  I can't stay here.''

''Well it may cause a few problems but I can still sneak you in ever night,'' he smiled, leaning down to kiss her.  ''Anyway, there was something else I wanted to ask you.  Besides Mickey, was there ever anyone else?  I mean come on Rose, you had absolutely no idea what I was doing to you, did you?''

Rose leaned into his chest, wishing she had unfastened his shirt buttons first.  She shook her head.

''There was someone Alec, when I was sixteen.  I left school to go live with him, he was in a band and I thought I was special to him until he started coming home and hitting me for not having his tea ready or because I had my period or even because he came home drunk and couldn't even see straight.  After six months, he went out one night after he hit me and told me he'd kill me if I was there when he got back so I grabbed my stuff and ran back home.  My mum called the police and they paid him a visit but it was my word against his.  They couldn't so anything.  He told my mum if she called them again, he'd beat her up as well.  Some of her friends paid him a visit and roughed him up and he never came near after that.''

Alec shook his head.  What the hell had happened to her?  And yet, she had overcome it all and was a detective sergeant, well detective inspector in all but name, she had passed her exams and he had come along and deprived her of the promotion.  He felt like a complete ass for doing so.

''Tell me his name Rose, I want to know who did that to you.  You ran from him and went to Mickey?''

''No.  Not at first, it took me almost a year until I agreed to go out with him.  I went to collage and enrolled as a cadet in the Metropolitan Police.  I was lucky, a sergeant there took me under his wing and encouraged me because I swore no-one would ever do that to me or any other young women again.  He encouraged me not to mess about being an ordinary WPC and got me into the detectives programme, I was a DC by the time I was 22.  Got my promotion to DS and got a transfer down here, just after we got married.  I think Mickey saw that as his way out.''

''Maybe but men have used you Rose, you deserve a new fresh start.  Let me help you?  Let me take care of you love?''

He kissed her forehead and Rose pulled herself closer, beginning to feel tears in her eyes.  Alec was the kindest man apart from Sergeant Morley back in the academy, he had been like the father she had never known to her, supporting her all the way through the academy and cheering the loudest at her graduation.  Then he had wasted no time in getting her trained further, taking advance classes.  She had worked hard to get where she was today and had been angry with Alec for stealing her job, quite rightly.

He sensed she was crying now and put his finger under her chin.  ''Look at me Rose, please.  Tell me his name because I swear, he'll regret what he did to you.''

''The men from the estate took care of him, he won't be fooling any other young girls into playing house with him.  Leave it Alec, he's not worth it.''

She knew he wouldn't let it rest now.

''OK, for now but I'll get it out of you one of these days.  Let's get you settled then tomorrow, while you're at the court, I'll find us some alternative accommodation. What about those apartments around from the station?''

Rose tried to dry her eyes as Alec reached for a tissue from the bedside table.

''They're mostly holiday apartments, a bit expensive I think.  There's always the caravan park, there are some really nice ones and I expect they'll have plenty of vacancies.''

''I'll look into it then, just as a temporary measure until I find something else.''

Rose managed a smile, he was cheering her up already.  ''There are those riverside chalets across from the caravan site.''

''I don't think so Rose, I don't like water.  Except for the shower that is.''

''Why, what happened?''

''What makes you think that something happened?''

''I don't know but I do know something happened to you, what are you afraid of Alec?''

''I'm afraid you'll ask me too many questions.  Maybe I'll tell you one day?''

She was going to make sure he actually did.  ''Aw and I thought if we went to the caravan site I'd get you in the swimming pool.''

''I never said I'd object to watching you if you're wearing a bikini, did I?''

''Only if we were on our own Alec.  I'm tired, can we have an early night?''

''Sure, anything you want but go easy on me, I've had a tough day.''

Rose went into the bathroom after borrowing a t-shirt and some boxers, forgetting to pack her pyjamas, Alec saying she had done it on purpose.  While she was in there, he took his pills and hoped they would be enough, he had neglected to take them earlier and vowed to take them as a precaution, not as an afterthought.  Rose was going to take some keeping up with but he was determined he was going to look after her from now on so he had to make the effort.

Rose came out of the bathroom and climbed into his bed while he went in and then he climbed in beside her.

''I hope that you're staying tonight Tyler, no excuses you have to get home, right?''

Rose snuggled up to him.  ''Mmm, I've got nowhere to go, I'm not going back there except to get some more stuff.  Looks like you've got yourself a room mate.  I'd best warn my friend Jen I've told Mickey I'm staying with her.''

''Oh, she's real then?  I thought you had made her up or that was your new name for me,'' he smiled, checking she had nothing under the t-shirt she had 'borrowed'.  He might just claim his boxers back as well later.

Rose giggled as he leaned on his side and began by lifting the grey t-shirt up and kissing her tummy then worked his way up as he leaned over more and began kissing her soft parts, slowly, taking his time on one then the other and inbetween. Rose's head was spinning when he began working his way down and moved the waistband of her borrowed shorts then gave her a wicked smile, it suddenly dawning on him they were his shorts and why they were designed as they were.

He thought she would protest as he moved his fingers through the gap, making her flinch at first as he touched her, his other hand now on her inner thigh, just under the leg of the shorts.

''Rose, may I touch you?''

''Alec, please, you don't need to ask me.''

''Oh but I needed to Rose, that would make me no better than the others would it?''

''Then you don't need to ask me again. I trust you Alec.''

He moved until he was astride her and lowered the boxers over her hips after he touched her in all the right places, making her move around.  There was no giggling like there had been earlier on the sofa in the hut and Alec knew he must be doing something right as he pulled down his own boxers and lay on her.  Rose wrapped her legs around his waist, letting him move them where he wanted them then he lay on her gently and she let out a gasp as a repeat of earlier, only much better Alec thought took place as he moved against her, never attempting any more.

Rose was whispering beneath him, calling his name as he urged her to do what she was doing earlier, groping him as they touched.  He began calling her 'love' as he asked her to move again, Rose letting him guide her where he wanted her.

Finally, Rose shuddered at something he did, causing him to stop.

''Are you ok love?'' he asked, sounding concerned.

''Mmm, sorry, I startled you, it was just, well you must have caught a rather sensitive spot I never knew I had.''

Alec smiled.  ''Really?  Do you remember exactly where it was?''

Rose smacked him playfully.

''Careful love, I may get used to you smacking and groping my ass.  Are you tired?''

''Mmm, a little but we can fool around some more, you can let me go on top now maybe?''

He moved onto his side.  ''Be my guest love.''

She slid over him until she was hovering over him, Alec making out her best features in the light from outside the room since he hadn't pulled over the curtains. He put his hands on her hips, tracing her curves.  He couldn't believe how men had treated her.  After kissing over his chest, she settled on him and sprawling herself out, fell asleep after they both pulled up their shorts, Alec saying he would get the ones she was wearing back off her in the morning.

They were rudely woken just after six by Rose's mobile buzzing on the bedside table. Alec was swatting his hand thinking it was a flying insect that had got in the room as Rose's eyes opened and she saw the display 'Station' on the screen.  She reached over him to sit up after retrieving the offending object that had deprived her snuggling up to her boss and now apparently her lover after the best night she had experienced in her life.

Alec had just registered she was talking into her phone when she just said, ''Tyler''
She listened, horrified and said to the caller after they asked if she wanted them to call Hardy.  ''No, I'll call him and collect him.  Tell forensics to wait until we get there and cordon off the area.  Give us twenty minutes or so, I'll have to go down and collect him and he'll be a right grumpy arse this time in the morning.''

She grinned at the man who was staring at her, daring her to suggest he was grumpy in the mornings.  Then he realised she couldn't just come out and say she had been groping his grumpy arse last night.

''So that's what you lot call me is it?  Care to tell me what other aliases I go by at the station?''

She could think of a few.

''Ok.  Maybe I don't really want to know, just don't tell anyone you sampled my grumpy arse last night or I might suddenly remember where I hit your sensitive spot last night.''

''Yes Sir, best get your arse out of bed then.''

''I seem to remember twenty minutes or so to get down there, that gives us ten minutes to spare since you don't have to call me and kick me down the stairs.''

Rose giggled as he put the phone on the bedside table and lifted the t-shirt and put his hand through the gap in the shorts.

''From now on, you wear those in bed and how did you get that t-shirt on?''

''While you were still opening your puppy brown eyes, I'm not talking on the phone without any clothes on.''

''Seriously?  They can't see you, did you think you would hit the video call button by mistake?''

''Anything's possible after you left me in that state last night.''

''Really?  I left you in a state?''

''Shut up Hardy, you're wasting time.  You never even asked why we're going out at this time.''

''Well it had better be good, I was quite looking forward to taking my shorts and t-shirt back.''

''Trust me, someone found Jack Marshall on the beach at first light, seems he walked into the sea.''

''Oh and you don't think that's important enough?''

He started to get out of bed and Rose thought she had well and truly blown any chance of romance with him out of the window.  That was until he turned and said, ''Well I suppose it saved you time, being here.''

Then he reached down to kiss her.  ''Come on Tyler, let's show them how efficient we are and get there on time.''

''I thought you were mad at me?''

''Don't be daft Rose, geez, you'd best get used to me.  I'm still going to get my t-shirt back.''

They arrived at the beach, standing over the still form of the harbour newsagent.

''I should have taken more notice,'' Alec said.

Rose just wanted to put her arms around him and hug him.

''Those morons, Mickey said something was going on at the sea scout hut last night. They must have threatened him, they drove him to this.''

''We don't know that Tyler, we'll get a full report at the station, let forensics do their job.  Remember, you have to go to the court later.''

''Yeah but I don't want to leave you to do all the work.''

''Forget it, I'll delegate.  We'll call and get some breakfast on the way back to the station.''

''There's nowhere open yet, it's only seven.''

''Small towns,'' Alec muttered as the ambulance took Jack off the beach.

There was no point in going back to the hotel so Rose drove them up into the town, remembering a café that opened early and Alec ordered breakfast for them both. Sitting at the back of the café, they talked quietly, Alec taking her hand as she sat beside her.

''I was looking forward to waking up properly with you this morning Tyler.''

''Mmm, I was looking forward not to be fighting over the toaster and you retrieving your underwear.''

''It will wait.  We'll go back to the station then you can go up to the court, I'll have people locating his ex wife, then I want you to visit the newspaper and find out exactly what Stevens had on him and why he didn't get all the facts.''

Rose was looking at someone reading a newspaper and got up.  She took out her badge and asked if she could borrow the daily newspaper.  The headlines were about Jack.

Alec shook his head.

''No wonder, he must have seen them when he went to collect his deliveries.  Why couldn't they just leave him alone?''

Since they were already in the town and going back to the hotel was futile, they both decided to pay a visit to the newspaper office but Alec had seen Rose's reaction to the newspaper headlines and knew she had taken it personally.  If he wanted to get through this investigation, he was going to have to let her go ahead and take some of the slack.  Besides, if the town's junior reporter had done some research and kept to the facts, this would never have happened and if DS Tyler was going to tear a strip off Olly Stevens, he wanted a front row seat.

Rose stormed into the office just after eight thirty.

''Hello Rose,'' Olly greeted her, getting up.  He had always fancied her and thought she didn't belong with that clown Mickey.

Rose barged her way in, not all the staff had arrived yet.  Alec hung back, knowing she was about to lose it.

''What the hell have you done Oliver?''

''I don't know what you mean Rose, about what?''

Maggie, the editor had heard Rose's raised voice and came out of her office.

''What's the matter Rose?'' she asked, looking at the fiery blonde who everyone in the town knew had a temper when she was riled, especially after she had dragged her husband home from the local.

''Don't say you know nothing about this Maggie?  Oliver's little story about Jack Marshall all over the nationals?''

Maggie looked at Hardy as if to ask who was doing the questioning here and it clearly wasn't him.

''Oliver?  What's Rose talking about?''

''How do I know?''

Rose looked at Alec, who nodded slightly, the news would come out later that day anyway.

''Jack killed himself last night because of you, setting that mob on him.  Jack was not a suspect, he told us what happened, his previous conviction and you screwed it all up, twisted it and sent a mob of crazed men after him.  For goodness sake Olly, you should have checked your facts before going with this story.  He was innocent in all this and you drove him to it.''

Rose was getting even madder and Alec put his hand on her shoulder.  He didn't envy the snivelling reporter nor her husband once she had the divorce papers served on him.

''Come on Tyler, that's enough now, I think he got the point.''

''I'm sorry Rose, I had no idea this would happen, we'll print an apology,'' Maggie assured her.

''Tell that to his widow Maggie.''

She turned around and Alec followed her out after telling Olly, ''I'd stay out of her way if I were you, believe me.''

He intended to make sure he stayed out of her bad books himself.

Rose was waiting in her car, hands on the steering wheel, gripping it tightly.  Alec would have kissed her if they weren't in full view of the full High Street.  Instead he put his hand on her knee.

''Come on Rose, forget it, drop me at the station and you get off to the court.''

She managed to turn and smiled at him.  ''You still want me to go ahead with it after seeing me lose my temper?''

''Tyler, you have no idea how proud I am of you right now, your temper almost rivals mine but I've been holding back.  When you've got your divorce papers signed, there's something I have to tell you.''
Chapter 7
A/N: I repeat that all this to do with divorce is made up by me for the purpose of the story.  If it happens in real life, it is purely coincidental.

Rose dropped Alec at the station then went back up to the Town Hall.  While she was there, Alec was busy trying to find out more about where Jack Marshall had come from and issue his apologies to the man's ex wife.  Rose had softened him up somewhat, a far cry from when he had arrived there, just over a week ago.  She had fought with him, coming in that first morning when he had been there a few days when she had arrived on the beach and complained to the chief about him then she had moaned about driving him around all day, made her feelings known about him taking her job and now he knew part of the reason.

She had been unhappy to start with and him coming in and taking her job had been the icing on the cake.  Well at least he had put that right, she had seemed happy last night, even after the confrontation with her soon to be ex husband.  Now he just had to find out exactly how she had been treated and who the other man was who had hurt her.  He was certain there was more than she had told him and he would get to the bottom of it.

Rose was waiting her turn behind a couple who apparently needed a divorce more badly than she did.  Finally she was called forward and handed her money over to get the form filled in.  It was worth the extra to get it rushed through and checked. All Mickey had to do was sign his name, there could be no excuses it was 'complicated'.  Pleased with herself and assured the papers would be served to him and putting her contact details as the police station as her preferred address, at least until she got something sorted, she went to the rental agency and gave a month's notice on her house.

The agent, Sally, asked if there was anything wrong with the place, since they had been there over two years.  Rose wasn't quite sure what to say.

''No, there's nothing wrong with it, I can't say much else really.  I just need to move so I'll be looking for something else, what have you got?''

She looked at a few properties in the window but pretended she didn't like any of them, not sure now what her plans actually were.  She was just glad not many people knew of her marriage to Mickey, she had the house in just her name for the sake of getting the allowance paid since she never changed her name when she moved here.  What would Alec make of it though?  Would he want anything permanent?  What if he just wanted her to leave Mickey then not do anything else? Well at least she would be single again, that was one good thing.  Why had she ever got talked into it?

He phone rang, it was Alec.

''Aw did you miss me?'' she asked cheerfully, about to get into her car.

''What's taking you so long Tyler?  Get your ass back down here or I may have to come and find you.  Are you going to meet me at the caravan park?''

''Which one?''

''The one on the harbour, where did you think?  I'm not going to the one down the coast, not where that woman lives.  Meet me there in ten minutes.''

''Alec, it's not a good idea us both going.  People know me around here, what's it gonna look like?''

''That my DS is helping me find alternate accommodation, what else?  A nice two double bedroom wide berth caravan should be sufficient, I'll say I'm expecting my teenage daughter to come and stay with me and put you down as a visitor since you'll be picking me up to take me places.  Do I have to do all the thinking Tyler?''

''You have it all planned, don't you?  You think you're so impressive detective inspector.''

''Maybe I am, you never thought of that Miss cute ass.  I'll not tell them you're moving in with me then?''

''Don't you dare, I had enough trouble trying to convince the letting agent I was looking for a new house to rent before the notice was up on this one.  I'll meet you in five since you're practically next door to the caravan site.  We'll ask for one on the first road and I want a free swimming pass.''

''Don't be cheeky Tyler.  Then you'd have to admit you're moving in with me.  Do they know you though?''

''They may have seem me around but like I said, not many people actually know I'm married and it won't matter in a few weeks, I paid extra to rush everything through.  Will you come with me tonight to get my things?  Then we'll go get yours from the hotel.  Do you think we'll get a caravan today?''

''Why not?  They won't exactly be short of them given the mood down here.  I'll pay for it to cover until Monday morning, then personnel can sort it out, it will be cheaper for the weekend than two nights in the hotel.  The accountants won't grumble at saving money, I'm getting the full amount paid on the hotel and if you're moving out, that will also save them money, they'll be celebrating.''

Rose was now using her handsfree device to talk while she drove the short distance to the harbour caravan park.  She was just pulling in, passing Alec at the entrance and went to park up, only just finding a space.

''I hope you weren't driving and talking at the same time Tyler,'' Alec remarked as she met up with him outside reception.

Rose just made a face at him by poking her tongue out, something Alec thought was kind of cute but she wasn't going to get away with it.

''Grow up Tyler.''

She thought she would get him back later as she followed him into reception.  Just her luck the woman cheerfully greeted her with an, ''Oh hello DS Tyler, what can we do for you today?''

Alec stood back.   ''Hi, this is DI Hardy, you've probably seen him on TV, he's in charge of finding Danny's murderer.  He's looking for a place to stay, there are too many reporters staying at his hotel and this is a perfect place for him to lose them in.  Have you got any caravans he can move straight in to, maybe this afternoon? Preferable on the first road to the side of the complex?''

Alec scowled behind her, why was she so clever?

''We'd be only to pleased to help.  Would this be on a permanent basis?  If so, we can give you a good deal if the Police Authority are paying but we would need a deposit.''

Alec stepped forward.  ''I'll pay until Monday, then someone will contact you.  I need a two double bedroom one, I plan on having my teenage daughter join me and I need a pass so DS Tyler can come and go without having to show her badge if she's keeping an eye on my daughter for me if I'm working.''

''Of course, that's no problem.  If you come back after four, I'll have one of our best extra-wide new models for you at no extra cost, what's your daughter's name?''

''Daisy but I'm not sure when she'll be joining me.  Don't worry about DS Tyler coming and going or seeing her car there, we keep getting told about working late at the station.''

The woman smiled.  ''I'm sure we have something off the first road, I'll make a note there may be a car there but if I put her name down, there won't be a problem.''

Alec got his bank card out and paid the weekend rate, making sure he got a receipt Rose noted and smiled to herself.  At least they hadn't been asked any questions and she doubted any of the staff there knew Mickey, unless they got their cars repaired where he worked and she sincerely doubted they went there, she didn't even get hers done there, even with discount.

Alec decided to go wait in the seating area of the caravan park and get a drink while Rose took her car back to the underground car park.  He had a pot of tea and two cups waiting plus some sandwiches when she got back, not realising it was past noon.  The news of Jack Marshall's demise hit the town hard and just made the press even worse.  Alec was glad he was out of the hotel.

It was after five before he came out of his office.  ''Come on Tyler, you can move me into my new place then you can have the weekend off.  You don't have to put up with me again until Monday, unless you want some overtime?''

She saw others looking over at them.  Why was this so difficult?  She would be glad when they could drop the pretence or were they really fooling anyone?

''I don't think so Sir.''

She couldn't think of anything witty to say.  She just wanted to get her things and get out.  That was going to be easier said than done.

''Why don't you drop me at the hotel then come and pick me up?'' Alec suggested.

''I thought you were coming with me?''

''After last night?  No thanks, did you see the way he glared at me?''

''Alec, he stares at everyone like that.  Please, come with me?  Just say you're helping me then I'll come and help you.''

''OK then but I may have to arrest him if he annoys me.''

They had just got in after Alec had collected the keys from the caravan park earlier, getting a map of the park and where the caravan was and Rose was putting some stuff from the living room into some cardboard boxes she stopped off at the supermarket for, getting essentials like tea and milk and other bits and pieces they thought they would need overnight.  Alec was sitting on the sofa as Rose busied herself, after she got him to stop snogging her before Mickey really did catch them.
She hadn't realised the divorce papers would go through so quickly as she had given Mickey's place of work.  That was what you got for paying extra.  He had been so stunned when just before five, his boss had called him from underneath a blue mini and a man in a suit handed him a brown envelope with the court seal and stamp on it and told him he'd been served divorce papers.  His boss had patted him on the back and told him ''Hard luck'' mate, never quite believing the stunning and petite blonde detective sergeant was actually his wife.  Now she wasn't, not any longer.

She had meant what she had said and he thought she had been joking.  Well he wasn't giving up without a fight and persuading her to forget about him signing. That was until he got home to find her boss sat looking quite at home on his sofa but Mickey never was one for putting two and two together and actually coming up with the right answer.

Rose was in the kitchen as Mickey opened the living room door.

''Wot you doing here?''

''Oh, it's Rickey, isn't it?''

Mickey shook his head.  ''No, it's Mickey and answer my question.''

''You only think it's Mickey and I'm the one that asks the questions around here, in case you forgot.''

''Huh?  Rose?  Wot's your boss doing here?  I thought you made him dinner last night?''

Then he saw the empty boxes and the one that was filled with photos of Rose and her mother and other things that were personal to her.  She came out with some of her favourite snacks and other goodies in a carrier bag, the most important being her jar of hot chocolate and a can of whipped cream.

''Wot's going on Rose?  This guy just waltzes into the garage with this.''  He waved the papers in front of her, looking at Alec, who was trying to stay out of it.

''I told you.  I'm not mucking about Mickey, you said you'd sign, you have four weeks to get out so don't say I'm not playing fair.  I'm off upstairs to get my clothes and stuff from the bathroom.  If I forget anything, I'll come back.  Alec, would you pack that laptop into the bag for me with the charger?  Thanks.  Oh and that radio's mine too, shove that in as well will you?''

Alec got up and Mickey looked at him.

''Hold on, why are you calling him Alec?''

''Don't be so daft Mickey, we work together but don't expect me to call him 'Sir' out of hours.''

Mickey shook his head, disbelievingly, Alec raised his eyebrows and did what she had asked.  Rose ran up the stairs before she lost the courage to go through with it and let Mickey talk her into staying.  That had been her problem all along, him and her mother telling her she was doing the right think by marrying only the second man she had been out with, if you could call Jimmy Stone a man.  She dreaded telling Alec the real truth about that, he would go ballistic.

Twenty minutes later, Rose was cramming the last of her clothes into the smallest case, there was only one left that was Mickey's plus a holdall, not that he had many decent clothes, then rushed into the bathroom.  She would have to come back once Mickey moved out and clear the bedding and other stuff, that's if she actually wanted it but if she was getting another place, she wasn't going to buy more than she needed.  She called downstairs when she was ready.

''Alec, can you help me with the cases please?''

Alec got up, hoping they weren't heavy but this was Rose, he shouldn't expect any less.  He grabbed his chance to throw Mickey off the scent.

''Make yourself useful and go help her.''

All he got was another ''Huh?''

Mickey went off.  Rose was at the top of the stairs, waiting hopefully for Alec then thinking maybe it would be Mickey after all.  They hadn't even been to the caravan yet, it could be totally unsuitable but it was too late now.  If the worst happened, they could stay at his hotel tonight and sort it out tomorrow.

Mickey looked at her and took the heaviest case, checking to see if her boss had followed him.

''So.  You're really leaving then?''

''Bit of a stupid question even for you Mickey.  I've rented a caravan down the coast until the notice on this is up.  Leave your key in the kitchen and lock the door by the latch behind you when you leave.  There's no point in dragging things out Mickey, it's time to move on.''

''For you maybe but what about me?''

''You should have thought about that.  It's no use, it's never gonna work and you know it and you're not gonna talk me into staying.  I should never have listened in the first place, I've done quite well under my own name thanks.  Do you want to get yourself a divorce lawyer?''

''Nope, how can I afford one?  Do I need one?''

''I don't know, do you?  Where were you that night Mickey?  Did you really come home when you said?''

''Why should I answer you?  You've made your mind up already that I wasn't here. Ask Joe Miller.''

'''We did, he said he left you and went home and that's what made my boss suspicious.  If you two are giving each other alibis, I'm not getting caught up in it thanks.  Do you realise what position you put me in?  Did you even think about it?''

''I'm not giving him an alibi, we were all together, with Nige.''

''Not according to his mum but I'm not arguing with you.  You can send the signed papers back to the court, mine's already filed.  I expect you out of here before the lease is up and before the divorce is signed off and finalised.''

''Where am I supposed to go?''

''Anywhere Mickey, you can go back to London, I'm sure you'll get plenty of sympathy, especially from my mother who thinks we were made for each other.  Do you mind?  I'm kinda in a hurry.''

''Ok, but I'm still thinking about the actual signing.''

''You said if I let you stay for now, you'd sign.''

''That was before.''

''Before what?''

''Before you came around with your boss, stopping me from talking to you.''

''Just take the cases down Mickey, there's nothing to talk about whether my boss is here or not.  We were both miserable Mickey, just face it, it's over.  Just sign, don't drag this out.  If you don't sign, I'll just get a lawyer, I know plenty who help out at the station who will take me on.  You're just delaying the inevitable, to have a reconciliation takes two, it's not one sided.''

''Would you still be going ahead if Danny hadn't died?''

''Yes I would, eventually, it's just speeded things up.  That holiday was the worst I've ever been on, it was a nightmare and you know it.  Did you enjoy it?''

Alec was now getting worried.  He could hear voices but couldn't tell what they were saying.  He thought he'd best just keep out of it though until he heard Rose calling his name.

''Alec, can you please tell Mickey to bring my cases down?  He's refusing.''

''No I'm not, I'm just saying, can't we work this out?''

''What part don't you get Mickey?  Do you want me to draw pictures.  It's over, finished, caput, finito.''

''You heard her Smith so just man up to it and bring down her cases.  Don't make me come up there.''

''Keep out of this Hardy, this is between me and Rose.''

''Not any more Smith, it's over, did you not hear what she said?''

''It's ok Alec.  Mickey, get out of the way, I'll take them down myself, I have things to do, Alec, can you take that off Mickey please?''

That did the trick as Mickey picked the large case and dragged it down the stairs. Alec nudged past him and went to get the other one, not betraying Rose's look at him.

''Allow me Rose?''

He really shouldn't but it seemed fairly light and Rose followed him back down. Mickey was standing by the front door, Rose's boxes were stacked there and Alec wondered if she would get it all in the car, since they still had to go get his stuff.

''Really Mickey, just grow up, you can't detain two Police officers.''

Alec shook his head and put the case he was carrying on it's end and pulled up the handle to wheel it out.

''If you're going to stand there Smith, I'm going to have to move you.''

Mickey moved and Rose opened the door, they got the last of the boxes in the back plus Rose's smaller case and put the big one on the back seat.  Just as she turned around to get in the driver's seat, Mickey grabbed her arm.

''Don't go Rose, I'll make it up to you, get a better job, we can even go back to London if you want?''

Rose moved his arm.  ''Get off me Mickey, just sign the papers and have done with it.''

Alec was about to get back out of the car, illness or not, he wasn't going to let Mickey persuade Rose to stay.
Chapter 8
Rose managed to free herself from Mickey's grip before Alec had to get out of the car. Neither of them could let on in front of her husband that they were involved, not just yet so Rose drove off but as they pulled up in front of the hotel, Alec stopped her getting out.

''Are you ok Rose?  What's wrong with him, can't he just accept what happened?''

''It doesn't seem like it, I think I'm gonna have trouble getting him to sign now. What happens then?''

''I don't know except for you to call a divorce lawyer on Monday morning.  I heard you talking on the stairs, what was it about?''

''He wants a reconciliation, he has to be kidding after that.  I told it takes two to make that happen and I'm not interested.  He's put me in a bad position anyway, I'm sure he's covering for Nigel Carter or Joe Miller, maybe even both.  Alec, I think they may be all involved, I don't think Mickey is having an affair, I think they are covering something up.''

''Maybe you're right but we can't do anything tonight and I promised you the weekend off.  Are you waiting out here?''

''Do you want to be seen with me in the hotel again?'' Rose managed to smile.

''Just say that you came to help me move, it worked with your husband.''

They walked into the hotel and Alec broke the bad news to Becca.

''Oh then, maybe it's just as well, I got three more bookings from news agencies.  I know it's not ideal but I needed the money.  That's on top of the one's that just arrived today.  Where are you moving to?''

''Do you need a forwarding address?  Just put Broadchurch Police Station but if you really must know, I'm moving to one of the caravan sites down the coast, out of the way.  All I have to worry about there are kids kicking a football around, not coming face to face with a reporter.  Is that Karen White still staying here?''

''She hasn't checked out but I've not seen her around much but maybe she sneaks around like you were doing, using the side entrance.  Hi Rose, come to help your boss?''

''Yeah, no rest for the wicked, I must have done something wrong somewhere.''

Becca laughed but Alec wasn't amused.  It was one thing them bantering between the two of them but now, it hurt when she said something and supposed anything he said about her would hurt as well.

''Well, I'll let you two get on then, I'll still have to charge for tonight, if you change your mind.''

''No, I've already got the caravan keys.  I need my space and now I feel closed in and don't want to have to dodge reporters every time I come downstairs.''

They went off, Alec packing his case as Rose lifted everything out of his wardrobe then giggling when she picked up his shorts from the drawer.  She found a plastic carrier to put his washing in and then Alec went to the bathroom to clear his toiletries.  He picked up the shaving kit he hadn't used in the last few days and considered using it, spying himself in the mirror.  Rose didn't seem to complain though but he could make the extra effort.

Rose's phone rang with the theme from Star Wars Darth Vader's march and knew it was her mother.  Alec had to laugh as she answered.

''Hi Mum, what's up?''  She wished she had never asked.

''Rose Tyler, what have you done? Mickey just called, says some bloke just delivered divorce papers, why didn't you say something?''

''Because I just decided this morning, I told you things were bad but you never believed me, taking Mickey's side.''

''Rose, can't you work it out?''

''No, we already tried and I took someone's advice and got out while I could.  It's no use, things aren't gonna get any better, best quit while I'm ahead.  I've already moved out.''

''He told me, says you got a caravan somewhere.  Why didn't you stay at the house?''

''Because I told Mickey he could stay there until the month's notice is up and I'm not staying with him.  Besides, it looks bad on the divorce papers if we're at the same address.''

Her mother went quiet.  ''I told him to think before he signs, think what you're throwing away.''

Rose was annoyed and Alec could now see it as he put his things into a holdall.

''Mum, how could you?  There's nothing to think about, I've already signed and filed mine, there's no going back, no reason to delay it, it's over.  I don't want to think about it or make up with him.  I made a mistake and now I'm putting it right.''

''I just want what's best for you Rose, staying with Mickey is the best thing to do.''

''No it's not, get over it Mum, I'm not sixteen any more, a lot has happened since then.''

Alec wondered what she meant.  He had already gathered she had married Mickey the idiot for safety but she was grown up now, a DS and no-one would get the better of her again.

''Such as?  Listen Rose, I'm not encouraging Mickey to sign, you should go back and think about it.''

''Mum, just listen to yourself, you're interfering.  If he won't sign, I'm getting a divorce lawyer and at least get a separation until Mickey does sign, I'm done with it.  Stop running my life for me, I don't need it.''

She was dying to say she had already found someone but that would give Mickey the ammunition he needed not to sign but Alec had thought it may encourage him but she didn't want to drag him into the middle of what was going to be a battle to get him to sign.  She hung up and Alec went up to her and put his arms around her.

''It's ok Rose, can't she accept it's over between you two?''

Rose shook her head and he held her tighter.  ''No, I told you Alec, I know I was forced into marrying Mickey now but she can't accept it was wrong.  She's gonna encourage Mickey not to sign.  If he's not signed by the time the notice is up on the house, he'll turn it against me and say I threw him out.''

''Well Monday morning, we go and pack all his stuff, you hand the keys in and we'll dump his cases where he works.  Don't give in to it Rose, you have to be strong.  If the house is paid for another month, just cut your losses, don't let him have the benefits.''

Rose looked at him.  ''Alec, we're in the middle of a murder investigation and for all I know, Mickey could be part of it.''

''Then that's exactly why you should get out while you can Rose, before we have to arrest him, if you are so sure he's caught up in it somehow.  Rose, if he's arrested and charged with something, being separated or divorced goes far better for you than doing nothing about it and remaining married to him.  Go back to the court, say he won't sign and get a separation order.  If you don't, things could get very complicated if it's implied he was involved, no matter how slightly.  Maybe you should go see the chief on Monday before she finds out for herself and I'll come with you, she needs to know about us.''

''Is that such a good idea?  Do you still want this now Alec?  If Mickey won't sign?''

He leaned down to kiss her forehead.  ''Yes Rose, I want this with you, no matter what.  I'm involved with you now, I encouraged you and I'm not backing out because he won't sign.  We'll get through this together but if we come clean with the chief, we won't get worried about being hauled in and one of us getting fired.  I'll back down, let you take the lead.''

''No way, I'm not ready to take over, I can't do this on my own Alec.''

''Listen love, there's something I have to tell you, about my health.''

''What?  What's wrong with you?''

''Just promise if I tell you to keep it to yourself. Rose, I want you to take over, unofficially, I'll still be sort of in charge, tell you how to do things but you give the impression to everyone else that you are in charge and I won't make a fuss over it. Elaine doesn't think I should be in charge in any case, after what happened in the last place I was in.  I'm going to tell her she was right and I'm stepping back on the condition I still pull the reigns from behind the scenes and you take over publicly. So this business with your husband needs resolving and quickly and if it's just a separation, which he can't refuse, then we'll have to settle for that but Elaine will have to be told your situation.''

''What's wrong with you?''

''Short version?  I need a pacemaker.''

Rose suddenly felt her legs give away from under her.  Alec steered her to the bed and sat her down.  Time was getting on, it was well after seven with them getting delayed by her clown of a husband.

''Rose, listen love, I'm fine for now.  If you take over, it will relieve some of the pressure from me.  It's all from my last big case when something happened to me and they found out what was wrong with me.  I'd been getting dizzy and getting headaches since I pulled that girl out of the river.  I gave in and went to my GP and got sent for tests.  A simple operation to have a pacemaker and I'll be as right as rain.''

''Then what's stopped you?''

He didn't want to admit he was scared to death of not coming around afterwards.

''Come on Rose, it's not that bad, I'll be fine with you looking after me.  Just do this for me, please love?  Take charge of the case and when it's over, I'll go for the surgery, what do you say?''

He was hoping she wouldn't ask any awkward questions.  She seemed to let it go for now.

"We'll go see the chief on Monday then but I'd best go to the court first, get a separation order, that means more expense.  What about clearing my house?''

''Leave that to me.  I'll go see him at work on Monday and tell him you want your key back or, better still, tell him we're conducting a search and that his version of events for the night of Danny's death don't add up.''

''No, don't do that, not until I serve the separation order on him, please Alec?''

''Ok, go to the court, then call me and we'll go get his stuff.''

''No Alec, I don't want you there, I'll go on my own and if he won't give me the key, I'll tell the letting agents, they'll go collect it, I'll tell them where he works.  He'll have to go get a B&B for the night, it's not my concern.  If he signs the papers all well and good but you're right, why should I pay to let him stay there?''

''Come on.  Let's get these things to you car, if you left any room.''

He helped her up and leaned over to kiss her.  ''You're not thinking of backing out and getting your own caravan down the coast are you?''

Rose smiled.  ''Nah, you're kinda stuck with me but seriously Alec, do you need to take anything?  What's exactly wrong with you?''

''I have an irregular heartbeat, it's maintained by heart medication, which I suppose now I have no need to hide from you, have I?''

''No and don't you go finding excuses not to take it, we have a murder to solve.''

Being sure nothing was left behind, Alec handed in the key and Rose drove them to the caravan site, calling to get a takeaway on the way back and them dragging everything into the caravan.  Rose was pleasantly surprised to find they had got one of the newer models, decking at the front leading to a sliding patio door with proper steps leading up and two lounger chairs set out and a round table to the side and another door leading to the kitchen area at the side of the van, which Alec said they should use to get everything in.

Rose had parked at the side since she had free access to the place, Alec handing her a pass and Rose had left the car registration number with security since there didn't seem any point now in denying she would be there at all hours.  Alec couldn't quite believe how advanced caravans had become.  They had got two double bedrooms and found there was a bathroom and a separate washroom with just a basin, Alec laughing at least Rose couldn't hog the bathroom in the mornings.

After they had eaten, Rose went to hang everything up and said in the morning, she would locate the laundry and get everything washed, wishing she could just go back to the house and do it but the less she saw of Mickey the better.  Tired but a lot happier, Rose got ready for bed, opting to still wear Alec's shorts despite unpacking her nightdresses and pyjamas and put on a floral vest top, Alec whistling as he entered the bedroom that had fitted wardrobes and a bit more room than the average bedroom of a caravan.

''Hey love, you look cute, come here.''

He scooped her up and they kissed, then he lay her on the bed having pulled back the bedclothes.

''Just think Rose, we have the whole weekend to ourselves, forget everything, what do you say?  We'll go out of town on Sunday, best go to the supermarket down in Dorchester tomorrow, we don't want to bump into the Latimers doing their shopping or Mickey buying cans of lager.''

Rose smiled.  That would be all Mickey would be living on but it was no longer her problem.  They began kissing, Rose being mindful of what she had learned a few hours ago that he was ill but it didn't dampen his ardour.  He let Rose lay on him as he asked again for permission to touch her, Rose insisting he didn't have to ask again as he gave her sensations that made her shiver as they fell asleep, Rose getting herself spread out across him and saying he had a squishy belly which amused him as she rested her head on it.

The next morning, they went to the camp bar to get breakfast, Rose saying she had eaten too much and wondering where Alec put it all, he was so skinny.  Alec insisted on driving down to the next large town then driving into the town centre to have a look around then after lunch, getting the groceries they needed but since the fridge only a had a small freezer compartment, they had to buy fresh produce for a few days and Rose would then have to stock up.  She thought of the large freezer full of food in the house and wished she could raid it but bumping into Mickey in order to do so did not enter the equation.

It was just their luck to bump in the local Broadchurch vicar, who knew Rose very well.  They had just got into the checkout queue and Paul Coates joined the next line.

''Hello Rose, what are you doing down here?  Where's Mickey?''

''Oh hi Paul, I'm just helping my boss do his grocery shopping.''

Paul didn't look that convinced.  He hadn't noticed Alec as he looked up from the shopping trolley.

''DI Hardy, I was going to come and have a word with you.''

''Really?  I'm off duty, come and see me on Monday.''

Rose had to smile as Alec was putting the items on the conveyor belt, hoping Paul wouldn't notice there was enough on there for two people.

He did but had something to say first.

''I told you about Jack, you failed to protect him.''

Paul had cornered Alec when he had been on his way to collect the keys and passes for the caravan.

''I'm not discussing that here with you, we sent someone to keep an eye on him until he went home.  Why don't you save the speech for your congregation tomorrow morning?  It was them that went after him, not me.  Now if you'll excuse me, I would like to finish paying for my shopping.  Rose, have you put your things in with mine?  You can pay me later.''

Rose was quite relieved he had put it that way instead of blurting out they should get it all home.  Paul wasn't too sure how to take that, wondering why the two were out shopping together but the DI was new in town and the pair had probably been working so he let it go.

''I'll be making a formal complaint,'' Paul added.

Rose butted in.  ''Paul, no-one knew how Jack would react, it's not DI Hardy's fault. He's right, why don't you talk to Nigel Carter?  Mickey said Mark was going down to the harbour the other night because Nigel was up to something, we found there had been an incident and Nigel was leading a group of men, shouting at Jack.''

Alec wanted to tell her stop giving away information but she was right, the blame was not theirs to take, a mob and the press had driven the harbour newsagent into taking his own life rather than face the humiliation and the herd mentality who would have made the man's life a misery no matter if he had been proved totally innocent or not.  A lot of people had come to Broadchurch to start new lives, he and Rose being two of them and now they had each other, he knew he was making the right choices ridding her of the millstone around her neck in the guise of a marriage to a man she clearly didn't love and just maybe, they could have a new life together.

Paul turned his attention to his groceries, Rose wondering what he was even doing down in Dorchester.  Alec paid for the groceries with his bank card while Rose stacked the bags back into the trolley, meaning to get a store card next time if this was going to be a regular thing and picked up an application form since she had noticed on the way in they had a system for scanning your shopping as you went around the store, meaning no more seeing the residents of Broadchurch in the queue, sparing them the embarrassment of explaining why her groceries were in with Alec's.

They drove back to the caravan, Rose put the shopping away and gathered the laundry and they went to find the laundrette.  While they waited, Rose went to look at the swimming pool and was amazed it was a fairly new building and looked nice inside.

''You are still not getting me in the water Rose,'' Alec smiled, leading her away and back towards the amusement arcade.

''We'll see babe.  I'm sure once I'm in my swimming costume, you'll change your mind.''

Alec was sure he would, he was getting that all he wanted was to see Rose dressed in her skimpy underwear and couldn't help wonder how this obsession with her had got started so quickly.  She was smart, beautiful and she was willing to take a chance with him.  He knew she had been treated badly, he had seen it in her eyes the first few days after they were thrown knee-deep into a murder investigation. He was now glad he had got her to confide in him and the other afternoon up at the hut when he had first kissed her, his already unstable heart was doing funny things to him.

He was somewhat relieved he had shared the fact he was ill with her, she would stop him doing anything stupid and if the chief would let him, he would put Rose in charge and save his strength to be with her because she was going to need him to get through her divorce.  He'd had no-one to help him through his.  The least he could do was to make it through and hold her hand and she would be there to hold his when he took the plunge to go get himself sorted.
Chapter 9
A/N: The events of the investigation have been speeded up and changed around to suit the storyline so please bear this in mind.  It doesn't cover the series blow by blow.

After the laundry was sorted, Rose cooked them a meal and they went for a drink in the site's bar, Rose wanted to go into the club room to watch the show and Alec put up with her playing bingo, to which she won a line and saying her mother would hear her shouting up in London, which got him a friendly kick.  They even had a go at the music quiz, beating a team of four and she got a prize.  As they settled back to watch a show of music from the 1980's he couldn't help wondering if Rose would finally see him off to an early grave.  What had he been thinking taking her on or rather Rose taking him on?

She was much too young for him, he would be the envy of every man they came across, some of the holiday makers had already looked several times at them as Rose laughed when he had suggested a wrong answer for the quiz and when she had shouted 'Bingo' and he had pretended he wasn't with her.

The show was over and the camp host put some music on and some people got up to dance, Alec getting dragged out but said it was too fast for him so as he went back, Rose went to request something a bit slower and just went after him then dragged him back to dance to 'Hopelessly devoted to you' which made Alec go a little red she had requested it and the host said it was dedicated to him from Rose.

They were just like any other couple there on holiday, no-one knew them, even if Alec had been on TV more than once, Rose hadn't.  As they danced slowly, holding onto each other, Alec realised she was the best thing that had ever happened to him so he leaned in and whispered in her ear, ''I love you Rose.''

Rose looked up at him and when the song finished they went back to their table at the back near the bar and moved to one at the side in the larger room and Rose whispered back in his ear, ''I love you too Alec, let's go back to the caravan.''

That night, despite Alec having to take it easy, they showed their love for each other and forgot everything that had happened recently in the short space Rose had discovered she had no feelings for Mickey, even though there may have been some when she was seventeen, almost ten years later there were none whatsoever now and hadn't been all the time she had been married.  She should put it down to experience and was now discovering what real love actually was, with Alec Hardy.

She wasn't the only one who'd had their life changed in less than a week.  Alec had wanted to fight with his young DS but something had made him want to find out why she was fighting him and had been appalled she had been treated the way she had and how easily she had stopped fighting him apart from the now friendly chiding they gave each other to keep up the pretence they were still enemies but he was going to stop that apart from defending her from gossip if it got around the office she was cheating on her soon to be divorced husband.

As far as he was concerned, they had done nothing wrong.  She had stated she was seeking a divorce, left her home and served the divorce papers and that was good enough for him to continue his pursuit of her.  Now it was up to her and if she couldn't get her husband to sign the papers, a separation was what he had to accept.
The next morning, Alec said he would bring her breakfast in bed and they then set off to go down to Weymouth for the day, Alec insisting on driving there, Rose driving back because she was worried he was overdoing it.  As they sat on the seafront, Alec said he was going to contact his own doctor again about surgery.

''You wanted to know why I never did anything about my illness Rose, I'm scared I won't survive and now I have you, it scares me even more because I don't want you to think that I'm abandoning you by getting you to seek a divorce.  Do you think that?''

''No Alec, I don't.  You wouldn't do that but you need that operation and soon.  I didn't want to take over the investigation but if it helps your health, I'll do it.  We'll see the chief tomorrow and tell her the truth but she might take one of us off the case altogether, I don't know her policy on personal relationships amongst senior officers.  There are some uniformed ones that are married but on different shifts because of kids and such but I've never been in the position to find out.''

''Well the worst she can do is put one of us on another team and especially if you tell her my suspicions about Mickey being involved.''

''I suspect him too don't forget.  He's hiding something and those pathetic excuses of going out every night made me think he was seeing another woman but I don't think that's the case now.  He is covering for one of them or maybe the other two are covering for him, all three of them look guilty, Nigel more so because of him lying about Mark.  I just hope Beth hasn't found out and is keeping it to herself, she doesn't talk to me any more.  Maybe I should go and talk to her, she must be feeling that everyone is deserting her.''

''Rose, darlin' you need to sort out your own problems first, she has her family, you have no-one if your mother has taken his side.''

She leaned her head on his shoulder and looked up.  ''I have you.''

''Aye, you do and don't you forget it either, Miss hard-ass, you're not as tough as everyone else thinks you are.  I may not have known you for long but I know enough.  We'll get through this and I've been thinking Rose, I don't want to hide this any longer.  Once we tell Elaine, if anyone asks then we won't deny it.  People in the office are bound to gossip if we don't annoy each other and you slam the door behind you and don't think you were fooling Becca Fisher either with the tough act.''

Rose blushed slightly.  He did want to make something of it but it did make her more determined to go to the court in the morning and get a separation order, even if she had to sit there all morning and wait for a magistrate to sign it, Alec would cover for her.  He kissed her cheek and helped her up off the bench they had been sitting on at the far end of the promenade.

''Come on, we'll have a look around the shops before we go.  Rose give me your hand, your left one.''

Rose held it out and he slid the wedding ring off her finger and put it in his jacket pocket.  ''I don't think you'll be needing that any more love, will you?''

Rose looked at him, he was right.  Why was she still even wearing it after Thursday?  She thought of asking him what he meant to do with it, in his present mood probably take it and throw it in the sea they were facing but the tide was out.

''You trust me don't you Rose?  I want you to be my girlfriend, properly, no more hiding and if people notice your ring has gone then you can tell them.  I'll stick by you love, even if he won't sign the papers and now, well it doesn't matter if he finds out because you filed first.  I want to get you a present, not a ring, just a plain gold chain and you can wear the ring around your neck if you feel you need to or would you rather I held on to it and give him it back?''

Rose smiled.  ''No, I don't want to be reminded of it, I'll give him it back when I dump his belongings where he works tomorrow after I get the separation order signed. Like you said, he can't ignore that and he'll know I mean business.''

''I'm glad I'm on your side sweetheart, I'd hate to cross you for real.  So just a chain then?  Maybe a silver one with a heart or a rose?''

She put her arm in his and they walked back towards the main shopping area, finding a jewellery shop and Alec choosing a chain with a butterfly on instead when she said a rose one was too cheesy.  When they got back, later in the evening, he volunteered to take her to play bingo and go dancing again but she just wanted a quiet night in watching TV and curling up on his lap, falling asleep that he carried her to their bedroom, very awkwardly down the narrow passageway beyond the kitchen area that he had to go sideways.

Rose had opened her eyes and was clinging around his neck and giggling but not letting him put her down.

''Mmm, I love you Alec but maybe carrying me in here isn't such a good idea?''

''You know what they say Rose, where there's a will?  I'm going to make a call tomorrow and try to get to see a heart specialist, find out what my options are.  If I can stay on the medication for now, get this all over with then go for some tests, will you come with me?''

''Do you really need to ask?''

He knew he didn't.  No matter what happened tomorrow, they were together and nothing would get in the way but events were going to conspire against them eventually, if not immediately.  The next morning, Alec said he would cover for her while she went back to the court, asking to have separation order signed.  The court clerk remembered her.

''DS Tyler, back so soon with your husband's papers?''

''No, he won't sign, my mother's told him not to and he takes more notice of her than I do.  Can I apply for a separation order?  I can wait.  It's just something's come up at work and I really need for him to sign but he's refusing despite saying he would when he got the divorce papers.  Can I ask some questions?''

''Go ahead.''

Rose asked what she and Alec had been talking about, such as Mickey couldn't ignore the order and making sure if he did sign, it would go against him, not her. The clerk answered her and said if she waited, she could get the order once the magistrate was free to sign it and since she had filed her papers, it would go in her favour.  Almost an hour later and two coffees from the vending machine plus three calls from Alec asking how she was getting on and they had somewhere to go when she got back, she walked out with the order in her hand.

The somewhere to go was the chief super's office.  Elaine Jenkinson was in for a few not entirely unexpected surprises, since gossip was already going around that the two of them were no longer arguing in front of the desk sergeant since Thursday and the owner of the hut they suspected Danny had been murdered in had complained his cleaner had not got her key back from the DI yet despite him being up there allegedly with his DS investigating new information.

Alec almost had to plead guilty to that.

''We were investigating, we think we figured out what happened, we just need proof who actually did it, we have three main suspects which is why Rose has something to tell you.''

''Really?  I'm dying to hear it.  What is it with you two the last few days?  You complained about him Rose and said you couldn't work with him when he first arrived and you came back from holiday.  In fact, you came back in a worse mood than you went away with.  Any reason?''

''Yes, I've filed for divorce and since he won't sign, I've got a separation order.  You don't need the full details do you Ma'am?''

Elaine smiled.  ''Have you more to add to that?''  It wasn't what she expected.

''DI Hardy suspects and so do I that my soon to be ex husband had something to do with covering up Danny's murder.  Like he said, we have three suspects, all similar ages, height, build and they are all providing alibis for each other but we can't prove it yet.  I'd already decided I was leaving Mickey but now, I want to be as far away from him as possible if he is involved.  He's been acting funny all last week and DI Hardy asked me what was wrong when we were arguing all the time so I told him.  He made me see sense so I went to file the divorce papers.''

Elaine knew there was something more and Alec came to the rescue.

''I encouraged her to go ahead, I admit it but not only to get her out of an unhappy relationship but to separate her from what may happen if he is involved.  It won't look good if she's still married to him and I have to charge him with something so I advised her to do something about it.  I also have something else to tell you.''

Elaine should have known what was going to happen next.

''Are you two involved with each other?'' Elaine asked, looking at Rose then Alec.

''Yes, we are but only after she told me she was getting a divorce and I want her to take over the investigation.  You were right, I need to step down and run it from the sidelines so I want Rose to front it, under my guidance unless you want her to move to another team?''

Elaine was amused at the prospects of the two lead detectives in a high profile case being able to dodge the press but since she had been informed by the HR department Alec had moved out of the hotel and was staying next door at the holiday park, she hardly thought he would bump into a reporter at breakfast.  She was willing to give it a try.

''Very well but on the understanding you keep it strictly professional between the two of you and no sneaking off to the hut on Briar Cliff and you hand the key back but since you practically live next door and I suspect you have both moved in there together, I doubt you need to now.  Anything else while you're at it?''

The couple remained silent and Elaine smiled.  ''Well Rose you look a lot happier than you did upon your return to work and if that's what it takes?  Go get some work done you two before I change my mind and if people still talk about you, just admit it, it's not like it hasn't been done before.  I seem to remember you worked your last case with your ex-wife Alec?  Don't go making the same mistakes that's all, the two of you working closely together.''

Alec looked at Rose, the new love in his life and he still had a lot to tell her.

''That was different, we were arguing at home.  That's not the case with Rose and I, we might have done when we first met but I know she was unhappy at home.  It's completely different now.  So we have your blessing to continue the case together?''

''For now but let it be seen Rose is taking the lead, it will get the press off your back after Jack Marshall.  The local vicar made a complaint against you earlier, I assured him you did everything you could to protect the man but suggested it was pack mentality that did it in the end, I'm not holding you two responsible so don't take the blame for it, either of you.  What are your next moves?''

''To bring all three suspects back in again one by one though I'm leaving Smith until Rose had dealt with him, I want him to know he's severely jeopardised her position here by possibly lying to me for someone else.''

''What about the woman who claims she saw someone on the beach?''

''It was dark, it could have been any of them or someone we've not yet come across. I'm getting her back in, see if Rose can get her to talk.''

Yes, Rose would just love that after the last time but that was when they had been arguing all the time but maybe it wasn't the best way of strengthening their relationship.

So Alec went to organise getting the three main suspects back in and eliminate them one by one by discrediting them, starting with Joe Miller.  Joe had just finished his shift as a paramedic and found Alec waiting for him at the ambulance depot.  He had got a patrol car to take him since Rose was waiting for Susan Wright to turn up since she hadn't been at her caravan when a unit went for her.

''Mr Miller, I'd like you to come and answer a few more questions if you will?''

''Not without my solicitor, my wife says you can't keep brining me in for questioning without a good reason.''

Alec vaguely remembering Rose mentioning she had taken over from Miller's wife as DS around two years ago, still, she didn't know everything.

''I can if I have reason to believe you are impeding a police investigation.  We can do this now or you arrange a time to come in and see myself or DS Tyler.''

''She wouldn't keep questioning me, she knows I was with her husband.  I was with him every night since they got back from holiday.''

''Really?  Are you certain you don't want to change that statement because I happen to know certain facts.  Where did you go every night?  Did Smith and you talk about your wives or the fact you both claim they were both asleep the night the murder took place?  Seems a bit of a coincidence to me.''

''You have a suspicious mind Hardy, just because you're not married, don't go hassling other blokes.  I was with Mickey, Mark some nights and Nige Carter.''

''And you didn't talk about your wives?''

''Why should we, apart from the obvious like how they like putting us on diets and spending all our money,'' Joe laughed.

Alec knew he had him, Mickey would have complained about Rose serving him the divorce papers on Friday night and would have moaned about his holiday.

''I still need you to come in and provide a DNA sample, everyone's getting checked to eliminate them.''

Since the other morning when a burning boat had been discovered out at sea, they were waiting for forensics to finish testing it for blood and DNA samples.

''I'll come in after I've spoken to my solicitor.''

Alec closed his notebook.  ''Fine, don't leave it too long.''

He just hoped he would get the man to panic and slip up.

Rose was now interviewing Susan Wright again, Alec observing and would get him back for it later.  She had found a flaw in the woman's previous statement after Ellie Miller had just marched her son Tom into the station with Danny's missing skateboard.  She had ordered it to be sent to forensics and taken a statement from Tom who said the woman from the caravan site down the coast was in the amusement arcade and took him to feed her dog then handed the skateboard over to him and his mum had brought it straight in.

When told, Alec thought it strange it was the Miller's that kept bringing evidence in, first Danny's mobile phone handed to Ellie Miller by Beth when Jack Marshall had turned up at their house with it last Sunday and something Rose had mentioned about she thought she had seen Danny with a smart phone when she had been at their house before going away.

Alec had just got back and ordered a unit to following them to pick her up but she still wasn't there.  Then Rose got a phone call from the newspaper editor to go up to her office and they found Susan Wright and she was taken back to the station, shouting her dog had gone missing.

She then refused to speak until she knew her dog was returned.

''I've been to that spot Susan, you can't seen directly down from the top of the cliff without leaning over so where were you, really?  If we find your dog, we may have to turn it over to animal welfare, anything could happen.''

Alec raised his eyebrows.

''I was on the beach, the boat came in, I was in the shadows and a figure got out, placed the boy and his skateboard on the beach and got back in the boat.  I saw his face.''

Rose was surprised.

''It was Nigel Carter.''

Alec was out of the door ordering a car to go pick him up, the woman was detained and Rose drove them to Nigel's house.  Nigel was already in cuffs in the back of the patrol car, Rose went to speak to his mother and Alec heard a dog barking from the back garden, opening the gate and finding what he presumed was the woman's missing one.  He told one of the officers to take it back to the station and hold it until they released it's owner.

It was the middle of the afternoon, Rose really wanted to go and wave the separation order under Mickey's nose to prove she hadn't been fooling about but now there was no chance today.  She would have to go round tonight and give him an ultimatum, get out on his own or send the letting agency after him because they wouldn't take just one key back.

Rose went to resume interviewing Susan Wright and Alec was asking Nigel Carter what was so funny about looking after a dog who he claimed he didn't know the owner of the animal.  By the time both detectives had finished, there had been a few revelations.  Nigel finally admitted where he was that night, receiving a caution for poaching and stealing diesel from a tractor and impeding a murder investigation and Susan Wright got cautioned for withholding evidence after she took the skateboard while no-one was looking from the beach.

Poor Tom Miller got a lecture from his mother for going to a stranger's caravan even though he did bring back Danny's skateboard but there were still a lot of missing pieces before they could get to the bottom of Danny's murder.
Chapter 10
A/N: Once again, the storyline has been speeded up and the end results will be put differently to cover Alec and Rose's relationship because I don't want to go through the series blow by blow so a lot has been cut out.

Finally, Rose got out for the day.  Alec was walking home and Rose was going to tell Mickey she had the separation order and wanted him out.  He didn't have the bargaining chip any more.  Alec of course had wanted to go with her but she refused, saying for one thing she didn't want him getting all worked up and have Mickey complain about being harassed and another because she needed to prove she could face him.  So after kissing goodbye as Rose got into her car, she went off to face him.

Even when he moved, she still had everything to clear out, including any food left but she doubted there would be much, Mickey barely got the basics.  She got there just before he arrived back and she sat waiting for him.  She was going to go back and retrieve the linen and other odds and ends including mirrors and pictures when he had given her the key but if he refused, Alec said they should have some time tomorrow to clear up, after the hectic day they'd just had.

She braced herself when she heard the door opening.

''Huh?  Have you come back then?''

''No, only to tell you to pack your things and get out.  You won't sign the papers, I'm not letting you stay here, that was the only reason.  I'll be back tomorrow and you'd best have your things out or I'll get the agency to get the key from you at the garage.  I'll be back to clear up, you'd better not be here and in case you thought I wasn't being serious, you may want to take a look at this.''

She thrust the copy of the separation order she had got for him.

''It makes no difference if you sign or not.  This more or less says we're divorced and I can go ahead, I don't need you to sign.''

She was only bluffing but Mickey would never be bothered checking up.

''Where am I supposed to go?''

''I don't know, try one of your so-called mates but not Nigel Carter, I think you'll find he's not exactly talking to anyone at the moment.  By the way, your alibi after you left 'The Bay' is rubbish.''

She gave it a minute to sink in.

''So are you leaving on your own or do I have to come up tomorrow and pack for you?  You can't deny this wasn't coming.''

''I'll leave the key tomorrow night, let me find a B&B first.  What happened to you Rose?  We were nice, we were happy.''

''You might have been, getting my mother to encourage me to marry you but I've not been happy for a long time.  You could go back to London, I'm sure she'll take you in.  Make sure you tidy up before you leave.''

Rose drove back home but stopped before she got to their caravan and took stock. Alec was pacing their newly rented caravan, worried she had not called even to say she was ok.  If he had gone out onto the decking, he would have seen her leaning over the steering wheel in a parking space two caravans down on the opposite side, wondering if she was doing the right thing in trusting Alec Hardy, her boss and now her lover and a sickly one at that.

They had talked very little about what his actual diagnosis was and she had meant to look it up but they had been too busy with one thing and another so she had to get him to open up about it and what his chances were and what his life would be like once he'd had the pacemaker inserted but most of all, what it would be like if he was too stubborn to get it.  She didn't even know how long he had been like this but little did she know she was about to find out the hard way.

She let herself into the kitchen area, Alec had taken the front patio door key since it would be Rose bringing in any groceries they were going to need.  Alec immediately stopped his pacing and hardly gave her time to close and lock the door behind her when he heard the car engine.

''Rose darlin' I was worried about you.  I put some pasta on, there's just the sauce to stir in.  Is everything ok?''

He enveloped her in his arms as she sank into him.  It had been a rough day what with waiting for the separation order to be signed but that had been worth every second she had waited then getting the truth out of Nigel Carter.

''It's fine babe, don't worry.  Are you ok?''

''I'm fine love.  As soon as this is over, we need a serious talk Rose, I mean it.  Did you give him the order?''

''Yeah, you should have seen the look on his face.  He thought I had gone back and didn't look like he was pleased about it.  Maybe he was cheating on me after all.  He says he'll be gone by tomorrow night.  So, never mind all that, what did you want to talk about?''

''Us, what did you think?  I know it's been less than a week but that doesn't matter.  I meant it the other night Rose, I love you and when you're free, I want to make more of it, after a respectable period of whatever time you need to get over it but no matter how long it takes, I'll be waiting for you and I want you to tell me what happened to you, really when you were sixteen.  Something you and Mickey were talking about.  You went to him after a bad relationship, I know that much but I need you to tell me how bad it was.''

''Please, just leave it, it's over with.  Yes, I went with Mickey after I got over it because Mickey was safe and I trusted him.  I just never imagined he'd use that and get me to marry him.  I had other offers before I finally said yes to going out with him but I wasn't ready.  He took advantage of the fact I was still scared of men in general, the only man I trusted besides Mickey was my mum's then boyfriend, the one who took care of things when I'd been hurt.''

''Just how badly were you hurt, physically?  I need to know love, I want you to go back and press charges, get some compensation because the police should not have backed down if there was evidence.''

''We got justice Alec, estate justice, they deal with their own and believe me, if you've never grown up on one, you can't understand how everyone bands together. I was scared, I couldn't admit I was wrong to my mother that going off wasn't a good idea but she took me back and the men took revenge.  He never hurt me where it showed.''

This was tearing Alec apart.  If she wouldn't tell him, he would find out what estate it was and go from there.  He was not letting this rest as easily as his counterparts in London had.  He supposed once Rose had withdrawn her complaint, they had no choice but he wasn't letting it go even if the men from the estate dispensed their own kind of justice, he had seen evidence of it on the estates in Glasgow when he had been a young DC.

''Maybe that was why she was so keen for me to marry Mickey, maybe she thought she was doing it for me.''

''It was forced marriage Rose, that's grounds enough for not needing him to sign.  I'll come with you to the court tomorrow, this needs resolving and don't think I won't use my authority because I will.''

Rose leaned back on him as they sat down.  ''I love it when you get all bossy.''

''Just you remember that Tyler.  I'm not giving up.  Now let me finish making dinner then you can go play bingo, I might even join in but maybe no dancing tonight?''

''Not even a slow one?''

He kissed her cheek and got up.  ''Maybe you could twist my arm, I like people staring at us when I put my hand on your cute ass.''

The following morning, neither of them winning at bingo but still having a good night out, Joe Miller came in and Alec took a DNA sample from him and tried to get him to talk about that night but he still refused and had only provided the sample on his solicitor's advice to eliminate him.

They got called in for a meeting with the head of forensics, Brian, who had found traces of Danny's DNA and blood on the burned boat plus some hair but it was still being tested.  Other men were being asked to provide DNA samples including a disgruntled vicar and Mickey, who ignored Alec and wanted Rose to administer it which Alec was proud of when he observed her, showing no signs of emotion as she did it.

''My own wife thinks I'm a suspect,'' Mickey remarked, mainly to Alec.  ''Well do you Rose?''

"It's DS Tyler, I'm no longer your wife according to the piece of paper I handed to you last night and you might want to know, I don't actually need you to sign the papers, not when I've had an interview with the magistrate later on today but if I told you what about, it would spoil things.''

''You wouldn't, you need me to sign.''

Alec had sworn to Rose he wouldn't interfere but he was finding it difficult to stay quiet.

''Have you finished DS Tyler?'' Alec asked instead.  ''We have more important things to do than you getting domestic with your ex husband.''

''You are, aren't you Rose?  You and your boss?''

''Don't be stupid Mickey, we're working here, as if I would admit anything in an interview room.  If you think I'm gonna back down, think again.  I filed for divorce, last week so don't go thinking you can use anything against me to get out of it. You're free to go, don't forget I'll be at the house tonight and your stuff had better be gone and your keys on the table.''

Mickey huffed, glared at Alec and got up.  He had been blind not to see it but there was a glint in Hardy's eye that told him he was right.  Well he definitely wasn't signing now, he wasn't going to give the detective the satisfaction.  What could Rose possibly do to sway the magistrate?  He had nothing to worry about and if Rose wouldn't go back to him, Hardy wasn't getting her, separation or not, legally they were still married.

Rose remained where she was, glad they had not switched on the recording equipment because Mickey had come in on his own accord.  Alec sat beside her and put his arm around her.

''Don't let him get to you Rose, he's just trying to deny you've already won.   Let's go get some lunch then we'll go to the court and make an appointment with the magistrate or maybe we could just wait.  If you say you need this divorce because Mickey is somehow involved in this enquiry, you have a good chance.  He is involved Rose, I can feel it.  Maybe he didn't commit the murder but he's hiding something.  We have to talk about this at home, there may be repercussions if he gets bitter about it.  I want you to know I'm here for you.''

Rose took his hand, they never got personal at work.  ''I know Alec, thanks.''

They went off to the court first, figuring they may be able to go back after lunch and Rose got an appointment for two thirty.  The town clerk was getting to know her, thinking the poor woman must be desperate and maybe her husband was a major suspect.  Over lunch, Alec reassured her he was with her all the way, no matter what happened.  Rose said she wanted to go to the appointment on her own but he insisted he went as her boss for moral support and promised to keep quiet.  He said if needed, she should contact one of the solicitors they used at the station.
They went back to the station for a short while so it didn't quite look like Rose was spending more time on her personal affairs than the investigation but they went off at two fifteen and were being shown into the magistrate's office dead on two thirty. Mr Justice Mason looked at Alec, questioning his presence.

''DI Hardy is my boss. I filed for divorce last week then later that day, my husband became a person of interest in the investigation into Danny Latimer's death and as my boss, he advised me to seek a separation because my husband is refusing to sign the divorce papers.  You signed the separation order yourself yesterday your honour but events have changed and even now he won't sign.  There's something else you should be aware of.''

The magistrate looked up from his copy of the separation order he signed plus Rose's filed divorce application and a copy of Mickey's unsigned one.  This woman was clearly in a very difficult situation but he didn't want to appear to be too hasty.

''Go ahead DS Tyler.  I notice you don't use your married name, is that for professional reasons?''

''Yes Sir, it was easier to keep it when I got married.  Can I explain how it was I agreed to get married?  I don't want you to think I'm using it as an excuse but I'm going to tell you the truth.  I married him because I let myself get talked into it after a bad relationship.  I was abused by a former boyfriend, it's documented, I made a compliant about it to the police but the charges were dropped by my mother after we were threatened and we didn't pursue it.  After that, she was worried about me and when I started seeing my now husband, she made me believe it was what I had to settle for, that I was safe with him and I wouldn't get hurt again and I believed her.''

Alec was finally getting vital information he needed.

''Go ahead.  So you now believe the marriage you entered into was to safeguard you from future abuse?  How old were you when you were abused by your then boyfriend?''

''Sixteen.  It was over a year before I could even face going out with anyone else.  I'd known my husband all my life and I suppose I felt safe with him.  My mother said I should marry him for stability and since I was about to get a promotion within the police, at the time I thought she was right.  Even now she's taking his side and encouraging him not to sign.  I would have still filed for divorce even if this investigation had not arisen, we've tried to make it work but it isn't, it's just getting worse.''

''I see.  You are in a difficult situation and I should really hear his side of the story. Maybe he did think he was protecting you but that's no reason to force you into a marriage you say you were talked into.  People do get married for the wrong reasons and ends in divorce so I will take that into consideration but since he clearly does not want the marriage to end, there is no easy way to resolve this so I will make the decision for you.  You will need to leave it with me.  If I decide in your favour, I will sign the divorce off for you and if you do decide to reconcile which judging by your reaction is not very likely, you will need to re-marry.  I will make my decision and inform you with seven days.  In the meanwhile you have your separation order.  Do you now have a permanent address?''

''No your honour, I'm just having my mail forwarded to the Police Station, I've given up the house and he's moving out, I put his work address down.  I've rented a holiday caravan for the time being, it suits me for now, it's next to the Police Station.  I don't want him to know where I've moved to.''

The magistrate had heard worse stories in his career and did actually feel sorry for her but without seeing the other party, it was going to be a difficult decision to make but since he had not made the effort to contest it or sign the papers, he concluded the man was not that bothered or he would be hot on his wife's heels saying she was being unfair and he wanted her back and their solicitors would be involved.  Since that didn't seem to be the case, his decision may not be that difficult to make after all.

Rose felt better as they left the court, making out they were not actually 'together' in front of any officials.  Alec hoped they wouldn't be remembered if they were to take things further in the future but he supposed it was inevitable, they just seemed to belong together and hoped Rose felt the same way.  He hoped things went well though he didn't want her to think he was probably doing exactly the same as her husband did.  Mickey may have loved her at one time but he had a funny way of showing it, getting her to give in and get married.  He vowed he would never do that, if the subject came up and he hoped it would when all this was over.  That was if he survived.

He still hadn't told Rose his condition was terminal and only a slight chance of a reprieve if the pacemaker implant was successful.  She had enough to worry about, she didn't need that at present, she needed to get this divorce over with and they had a murderer to put away but the matter was going to be taken out of his hands. He just didn't expect anything to happen before everything was over, he didn't want to leave her, he had promised to take care of her.

Alec had been the one to send for Mickey, whom he had expected to be hostile but was he now suspecting there was something between himself and Rose?  They got back to the station, mindful of what they had been told about hiding their relationship and not to start rumours and were waiting for forensics to get back to them when Rose got a phone call from the vicar, Paul Coates.

''Rose, can you come over to the vicarage?  I just caught Tom Miller outside the churchyard trying to smash up his laptop.''

''What was he doing that for?''

''I'll tell you when you get here.  Do you have to bring your boss with you?''

Rose smiled across at Alec, who was looking at his computer screen.

''Sorry, we come as a pair, if I leave him behind, he'll just complain.  We won't be long.''

She went in to tell him.

''Well don't stand there Tyler, let's get going.  Did he give any indication why the boy would be doing that?''

Rose shook her head.  They found Paul waiting for them, a cardboard box under his arm.

''I should tell you that Tom threatened to tell you I hit Danny during computer classes.''

''And did you?'' Alec asked, taking the box.

''No.  Now you know why I didn't want you to bring him Rose.  Is he always like that?''

''He has his moments.  Did Tom say why he was smashing it up?''

''I didn't ask.  I approached him and picked it up.  He said if I gave it to you, he'd tell you I forced him to give it to me and tell you I hit Danny, then he ran off.  I know he's upset and losing his friend but I thought maybe there was something on there he didn't want anyone to see.''

''Tell me, have you ever been in a boat recently?'' Alec asked.

Paul looked at Rose.  ''Only in Olly's boat, I borrowed it once, thought I'd try my hand at fishing and caught nothing.''

''Ok.  Can you come down to the station and provide a DNA sample?  We're asking everyone who knew Danny to do the same.''

''Even your husband Rose?  I saw him, he's not happy, he says you threw him out and you're divorcing him.  Is that true?''

Mickey and his big mouth.  ''It's no-one's business Paul, it's a well known fact we haven't been getting on but I don't talk about my personal life unlike he does.  I expect it's all around town by now.  I'd appreciate it if you didn't spread the word, you know what the gossips are like, I don't need it advertising if we are getting divorced but I will tell you we've separated.''

''I won't say anything Rose, it's not my place but people will find out eventually.  I'm here if you want to talk about it or I can put you in touch with a marriage guidance councillor.''

Alec butted in.  ''She doesn't need that, just a good divorce lawyer.  If she wants to talk she can talk to me.''

Paul looked at him and was going to say something.  ''Very well and yes, I'll call at the station since it seems even I'm under suspicion.  Rose, I hope you know what you're doing.''

''What does that mean?'' Alec asked, turning back as he was about to go back to the car.

''Make what you like of it detective inspector.''
Chapter 11
Alec tucked the box under his arm and got his phone out and called his friend who still worked for the station back where he had come from.

''Hi, it's Alec.  Can you get data from a hard drive even when it's damaged?''

''Hello to you too Alec,'' his friend's voice replied.  ''Yes, the data should still be there, what were you looking for?''

''Anything, photos, emails, contacts.''

''The emails will be still on the server, I'll find out who the provider is if I can't download them but if the password is still there, I can print them out.''

''Just send them to my personal email address along with who's in the contacts list. Thanks, I owe you.''

''No problem, how have you been since all that started?''

Rose had just joined him after pacifying Paul that Alec wasn't always like that.

''Fine, got myself a girlfriend to keep me out of trouble.  I'll introduce you sometimes if you promise not to steal her from me.''

His friend laughed.  ''You know me and pretty women, I'll give you a run for your money Alec Hardy.''

''Oh just you try.''

They got back to the station and logged the evidence had gone for independent specialist testing and Rose contacted the messenger service that the station always used.  With that out of the way, it was after five and Rose was finishing up.  She didn't notice that Brian from forensics was also just finishing up.

''So Rose, another rough day out with misery guts?''

''He's only miserable because a child is dead Brian, we all are.  People are not making things any better.''

''Oh well.  Anyway, fancy a drink perhaps?''

''What?  There's no-one else here unless you're inviting Hardy?''

''No. I was thinking maybe just you and me?''

Rose thought he had to be joking and someone had put him up to it to see if she was still married, fooling around with Alec or both.

''Do you want me to report you to him?''  She nodded towards Alec, who had just looked up and seen the man half perched on Rose's desk.  Alec got up and opened his door, Brian never moved.

''Did you want something Young?'' Alec asked, looking at Rose, who was doing her best not to laugh at been chatted up by someone who was even older than Alec.

The man got up, unaware Alec had crept up silently behind him.

''No Sir, I was just leaving.''

''See you do and don't pester DS Tyler again.''

The man scurried away and Rose let out a giggle.

''You know you've gone and confirmed everyone in the offices' suspicious now, don't you?''

''Do I look like I care Tyler?  What did he want?''

''He implied he wanted me to go for a drink with him.  I think he must have noticed I'm no longer wearing a wedding ring which reminds me, you still have it.  What are you going to do with it?''

''Melt it down, toss it in a volcano, I've not decided yet.  You're avoiding the question.  Why did he ask you out?''

''You're not the only one who'd had their eyes on me you know.''  She saw the look on his face and got up, putting her arms around his neck.  ''Aw, you're jealous!  You're so cute when you look like that and thanks for rescuing me but I really didn't need it, as if I'd look at him once let alone twice.  It will be all over the office by morning now, he was just trying to see if it was true, you just told him it was and don't think you fooled Paul Coates either, he knew things were strained between me and Mickey but you stuck up for me.  He won't gossip though.''

Alec moved her arms from around his neck and placed them around his waist and put his arms around her neck, kissing just below her ear as she leaned into him.  He hadn't noticed the cleaners going past and nudging each other.  They stood a few moments in their embrace then he let her go.

''Let's go home Tyler, we have things to talk about, like I want to know who that guy was who hurt you because I've given you time to tell me and it's up.  I'm going to find out, one was or another, even if I have to search for it, it can't be that difficult to find records of a Rose Tyler involved in a complaint about an assault around ten years ago.''

''Please Alec, just leave it alone will you?''

She tried to get out of his grip but he wouldn't let go.

''How can I Rose?  I love you and when you get your divorce, I've already told you I want to take things further, if you do.''

''You know I do Alec, I love you.''

''I love you too darlin' and it pains me someone hurt you, not only mentally but physically.  Mickey never hurt you that way did he?''

''No, he never hurt me like that, he knew what happened, that's why he took advantage of my feelings about getting close to someone again.''

''You should have told the magistrate that but no matter.  I'm going to do this with or without your help so save me the time and tell me his name.''

Rose looked up at him.  She did love him, the last few days had meant more to her than the last two years of being married to a man she knew she had never really loved.  She had been scared of being mistreated again and took her mother's advice because she had survived and didn't want to ever repeat it.  No wonder it had taken all that time to agree to getting married.  Now here was Alec, looking at her with determination in his eyes that he would do it, with or without her help and nothing would stop him until he got some satisfaction.

Alec was ill, he didn't need this along with the case so she had no choice but to save him searching.

''Let's go get my keys back from Mickey first, see if he's packed up and left.  Then I'll tell you.''

They made their way to where Rose had lived and found no traces of Mickey, even the TV and hi-fi were still there, Rose had bought them and she was surprised.  Then she went to check the keys were on the kitchen table but they weren't.

''Alec, he's not left the keys where we arranged.  I should go check he's cleared his clothes out.  If he's not left the keys, it means he's coming back and he'll try taking the things I bought.  Is this what it's gonna be like?''

Alec joined her in the kitchen and put his arms around her.  It was only just after five thirty, maybe he'd not had time to pack yet, Rose thought.

Just then, the kitchen door lock went and they sprung apart just as Mickey came in.

''What's he doin' here?  Can't come on your own?''

''Stop it Mickey, he's here to see you leave, I want a witness you don't take anything that doesn't belong to you.  Just pack your case and go and leave me the keys.''

''I had to borrow a mate's car because of this, how embarrassing is that?  Don't you trust me not to take anything that's not mine?''

''I wanted to but can I?  What have you been telling the vicar?''

''The truth, you left me and threw me out.  Don't tell me you haven't done the same?''

''I'm not proud of it Mickey, it's just a game to you.  Alec, can you unplug the TV and stereo, the games console is his, he can have that.  I'll go bring the car to the kitchen door.''

''It's ok, I can carry a TV to the front of the house, just unlock the back door for me please.''

While Alec took the TV out, Rose sorted out her CD's and DVD's and wondered what to do with the extra furniture they had collected including a wall unit and a coffee table as well as a reclining chair.  There was no room in the caravan.  She regretted not keeping the place on now but she couldn't expect Alec to want to live there.  She would just have to get a removal van and put it in storage, which would be expensive then she thought she could maybe get someone to lend her a van and go to the self-service storage down in Dorchester.  Maybe she should just make a complete fresh start and give it away.

Mickey had gone upstairs, making as much noise as he could until finally, everything that could be stored in the spare bedroom of the caravan was in the car and Rose made sure Mickey left.  She was certain he'd be back since he made excuses so she said she wanted the keys and if he wanted anything else to meet her there on Saturday morning when she would be cleaning up and sorting things out.  She was right about the food though.

Once they had connected the hi-fi in the living area and Alec stowed everything else in the spare bedroom, pulling over the curtains so no-one would get any ideas, he went out for a takeaway while Rose tidied the other things away.  When he got back, just going around the corner, Rose told him she had decided to start from scratch and give away the furniture that hadn't come with the house.

''A wise move love, albeit an expensive one but I know it would cost more in storage charges than to buy new things.  Anything else there that was yours?''

''A few kitchen things, we'll get them on Saturday.  I'll call the charity furniture shop tomorrow, get them to call on Saturday afternoon when I've cleaned up and I'll do the laundry while we're there, you'll come with me, won't you?''

''Yes, you know I will, why do you keep asking me?  There's no need Rose, whatever you decide, just say.  Now are we going out or are you going to finish telling me what happened to you?  Save me the trouble of looking it up like where you used to live, the station who dealt with your complaint and most of all, the name of the person who did that to you.''

Rose looked at him, this was it, time to really make a fresh start with him, if he still wanted her after what she had to tell him.  She took a deep breath.

''I lived on the Powell Estate in south east London, my mum called the police from Peckham and the WPC took me to the hospital to get me checked over but he never sexually abused me, he used to punch me where no-one would see.  They documented my injuries but despite that, when he warned us off and I said I didn't want to press charges, they just left it.''

''Rose, let me do this for you, let me bring charges against him?''

''I told you, he had his punishment.''

''Then tell me, I need to know.  Please love?''

''Jimmy Stone.  Please Alec, just leave it.  I'm fine, I got over it and I don't want to drag it up again or face him in court.  He could still hurt my mum.''

''Ok, for you, I'll let it go but no-one will ever hurt you again, you know that.  Come here, why don't we watch some TV and we'll go out for a drink later?''

''I just want to stay in, if that's ok with you?''

''It's fine with me.  Why don't you get changed into one of your nightdresses or better still, those shorts and vest and we'll get comfy?''

She kissed his cheek and went off to the bedroom, happy he had accepted her not so brilliant past.  She got changed, put on her pink silky robe and walked back out to find Alec watching the TV with all the lights out and she went to lie next to him.  He soon forgot what he was watching as he untied the robe and saw the revealing blue floral vest top and a new pair of silky underwear she had bought.  He let out a low growl and flipped her onto her back, running his hand on her leg, trying his best not to fall off the seat as they huddled up in the corner.

''Mmm, Alec, I think we need to talk some more about your condition, I'm not doing it any good am I?''

''Rubbish, you are doing me the world of good Rose, you know you are.  No more talking about me, I'll be fine until I get this investigation out of the way.  Now lay still while I give you my full attention.  We can have an early night if you want?''

''Fine with me, we're gonna need it with tomorrow, the press are gonna show up at Jack Marshall's funeral and I don't want that reporter going after you again.  Have you got a black tie?''

He looked up.  ''I have a grey one, that will have to do.  Let me carry you to the bedroom sweetheart.''

''You don't have to keep carrying me everywhere, this caravan isn't ideal for that you know.''

She tied her robe back up and Alec got off the seat, holding out his hand and as soon as she was up, he unfastened the robe again and put his hands under her vest top, snuggling into her neck.

''My sweet Rose, I would carry you all the time if it was at all practical.  Let's just kiss all the way to the bedroom?''

Rose giggled and he went to turn off the TV, Rose putting the hallway light on beyond the kitchen area.

''Alec, bathroom first,'' she reminded him.

He was waiting for her in bed in just his shorts.

''You take far too much time you know, good thing we have two bathrooms.  When we get a proper place, we're going to have to find somewhere where there are two or an en-suite.  I was thinking, since you're going to get your housing allowance back, we can get a bigger place, if you want to share that is?  I'm not presuming you want to share once your divorce comes through.''

''Alec, I don't want to be on my own, let's just stay here for now?  We have the spare room for my things and if your daughter does come down, we'll find room for them, I quite like it here, don't you?''

''It's ok for now but we can't stay here forever, we'll have to move eventually.  Tell you what, the bank holiday is coming up soon, why don't we go off for a few days, away from everything?''

''OK.  That would be nice.  We'll decide where to go, maybe we could get the ferry from Weymouth and go over to Jersey?''

''You know I'm not keen on boats, you saw me when we had to go examine Mark Latimer's.

Rose smiled as he hovered over her and slid his hand under her vest top.

''You'll hardly know you're on it and you'll be with me, they're not the same as the little boats in the harbour.  Why don't I check up tomorrow and book the car on to it and book a hotel in the capital?''

''Ok but promise me you won't let go of me all the way there and back?''

''Ok sexy but if I get you on the ferry, you'll have to promise me you'll let me help you getting over your dislike of water, deal?''

''Deal sweetheart and less of the sexy.''

''Ok cuddles.''

Alec wondered what else she had in store for him as he gently eased down their shorts and lay on her.  The next morning, they made their way to the station, Rose dropping him on the corner since it was a one-way road out of the camp and she went into the underground car park.  They weren't fooling anyone though as she made her way upstairs to see Alec reading the morning newspaper with the headlines ' Is this the worst cop in Britain?'

Rose began sniggering and Alec frowned at her as she closed the door behind her.

''Aw, poor thing but we'll show her – after I get you a t-shirt with it printed on.''

''Be serious Tyler, do you think it's true?''

''Sir, in a word no and if we weren't at work, I would prove it to you so can we just go to the funeral?''

''Ok and remember, watch everyone because Danny's killer will be amongst the mourners plus those who were responsible for Jack's death, I hope they're pleased with themselves.''

''Don't get stressed.  Have you got any results back from Tom's computer yet?''

''No, I'll get them emailed to me.  When I get them back, you arrange to have his dad bring him in, see how they react together.  Tom may well have been hiding something.  Stay focused at the funeral and tell me if anyone looks out of place.''

''Got it Sir.  Are you ready to go?''

''You ok Tyler?'' he asked, putting on his jacket and checking his phone.

''Not really, my husband might be there, he knew Danny and Mark is his friend.''

Alec wanted to put his hand on her shoulder to reassure her but everyone in the office was waiting to find out if there was actually something going on between them and doing so would just confirm it.  Brian Young had already gathered that when the office misery had snapped at him last night.  It was a clear 'shove off' message and Rose was fair game since her wedding ring had disappeared over the weekend.

Waiting outside the local church, Alec and Rose watched everyone pass them, Alec watching each and ever male who dared look his way.  The newspaper headlines was not helping his cause.  Rose saw the Latimers approaching, the cameras were flashing and they tried to follow them.  Rose stepped out and stopped them, flashing her badge.

''Put your cameras away, you should all be ashamed of yourselves, this is a funeral that you lot helped take place, have some respect.  If I see you're here when everyone comes out I'll have you all arrested for invasion of privacy.''

She turned away and slammed the gate behind her.  Alec took her arm and pulled her away.

''I'm definitely never going to cross you Tyler.''

Mickey had passed and Rose had averted her eyes but Alec had glared at him, surprised the man owned a shirt and tie but even though Rose and Alec sat at the back, Mickey kept turning around before the service began and Rose was very careful not to stare back at him or show any signs she and Alec were together.  She dreaded to think what was going through his mind.

The service over, everyone retreated to the graveside, well not everyone, some skulked off, Rose suspecting the men who had driven Jack to take his own life being amongst them but at least Mickey hadn't taken part in it, which was some consolation to her.  They walked into The Trader's bar, Rose getting she and Alec a cup of tea and they began walking around.  Rose saw the vicar and Tom sitting on the stairs she and Alec had hurried up the week before in haste to get to his room. Alec had seen them as well and made his way across from the bar just as Paul moved.  Alec went to sit beside the boy.

''Are you ok?''

''Yeah, thanks.  I'm just a bit sad, losing my friend and the sea scout master.''

''What were you and the Reverend talking about?''

''Nothing, he was making sure I was ok.''

Alec sincerely doubted that seeing as the man had just handed in the boy's smashed up computer.  Rose was keeping her distance but saw Joe Miller walking towards them and she followed.

Joe approached Alec.  ''What's going on?''

Alec got up.  ''I saw the vicar talking to Tom, I was just making sure your boy was ok.  Paul Coates had his hand on the boy's knee, are you not concerned?''

''I never saw, I only saw you talking to him without my permission.  You ok Tom?''

''Yeah, I'll just go play with my game.''

Joe and Alec were having a staring contest until Rose approached.

''Joe, DI Hardy was just concerned, I saw Paul talking to Tom and he looked a bit too friendly, I asked him to check up, blame me if you have to blame anyone.''

''I'll let it go this time, seeing it's you Rose but keep your boss away from my son.''

Ellie had seen but was taking no notice, she had heard of Hardy's reputation and was glad it was Rose working with him when it could have so easily been her if she hadn't taken the time off to look after her youngest.  She silently wished her friend good luck having to put up with him.  She noticed something different about her friend though.  For one, she had ignored her husband all morning and then she realised - Rose's wedding ring was missing.  Maybe that was why Joe had told her he was keeping Mickey company the night Danny died, their marriage had been on the rocks since before they had gone on holiday to try to patch things up.

She was just relieved everything was ok in their household, Joe was a terrific father and husband and she was glad she had been the one to stay at home when they couldn't decide who was going to stay off.
Chapter 12
Mickey had been observing his wife, the sneaky looks she was giving Hardy, the way she had handed him the cup and saucer and had followed him across to where he had been talking to Tom.  What did Hardy have that he didn't?  Rose had never looked at other men since they had been married and even before that, she had been scared of leaving because of what had happened to her.  Was this the sudden reason why she had served him with the unexpected divorce papers and thrown a separation order at him?

He tried to shake it off as Mark approached him, putting his hand on Mickey's shoulder.

''I heard what happened mate, tough luck.  Maybe you spent too many nights down the pub with Nige & Joe eh?''

Mickey tried to laugh it off.

''Well she's had a lot on lately, what with finding out who killed your Danny and she was working late, what did she expect me to do?  She even had the nerve to bring her boss back with her to make sure I only took from the house what was mine, can you believe it?''

''Well she is a policewoman, it's her nature to be suspicious.  Have you signed the papers yet?''

''No and I don't intend to, not without a fight.  I don't want to let her go Mark, I don't know why she's even doing it, turning all hostile towards me, I've had to get a mate to put me up, she won't let me back in the house.''

''So she's still living there?''

''No, I think she's rented a caravan down the coast somewhere, she wouldn't tell me. She's clearing the house on Saturday and handing the keys back early, I think she's trying to make a point, get me to sign but I talked to her mum, she's on my side.  I think she's seeing someone else.''

Mark laughed.  ''What?  Your Rose seeing someone else?  Maybe she's just busy with all this?  She won't have time to see anyone if her boss keeps her working late all the time.''

''Won't she?  Maybe she's seeing her boss, they looked quite friendly when they were waiting for me last night, they're on first name terms with each other.''

''You're worrying too much Mickey, they work together, I wouldn't read too much into that.  It's just the stress, when it all dies down, she'll come back.''

''I dunno mate, she said she was going to see the magistrate, maybe she's in a hurry to get it over with but I'm still not signing.  How's Beth been with you?''

''Don't ask, she found out and I had to swear to her it was all over, it was the biggest mistake I ever made.  Look, if Rose is seeing someone, it's hardly likely to be her boss is it?  I've seen the two of them at my house, they barely tolerate each other.  Relax Mickey, it's not him, I'm sure of it.''

''I hope you're right Mark.''

Someone else was curious about the detectives as the reporter from 'The Herald' observed the two of them talking after she came back in from speaking to Beth and they were standing by the stairs.  She hadn't seen much of Hardy, whom she knew had been staying there but maybe he was just keeping out of the way of the press. She had done research on DS Tyler, finding out she was married to a car mechanic and they had got married shortly before Rose had taken up the DS post here after DS Miller opted not to return to work.

She had heard Mark Latimer talking to another man and heard the DS's name mentioned so she followed Mickey, who had decided to take the full day off with the excuse he didn't know how long the funeral was going to be and he wanted to try to make up with his wife, now everyone in the garage knew about it since his 'mate' had lagged on him.  Karen White approached Mickey as he was getting another drink from the bar.

''It's Mickey Smith isn't it?''

''Yeah, who wants to know?''

''You're married to one of the lead detective's in the Danny Latimer case.  How's it going?''

''I wouldn't know she doesn't talk to me about it, she doesn't talk to me full stop.''

The reporter was interested.  ''Oh, why's that?''

Mickey looked around the bar, there was no sign of Rose.  ''You'd have to ask her that. Why are you so interested?''

''She works with Hardy, him I am interested in, did you agree with the description of him?''

''I dunno, what one was that?''

''In this morning's papers?''

''Haven't read them today, enlighten me.''

''Don't you think they should have solved the case by now?  It's been two weeks and they've got nowhere, now an innocent man has died and they're here instead of out catching Danny's killer.  Does your wife put in a lot of hours?''

''Yeah, you could say that, she was never home.''  He had no idea who he was talking to but since Rose had thrown him out and wanted a divorce, why should he care?

''She moved out then told me to get out, I've no idea where she went.  Are you a reporter?''

''What makes you think that?''

''You mentioned this morning's papers and if you are, I'm not saying anything else to you, you'd have to talk to her about it.''

''So she does all the talking does she?  Is that why she left you or did you leave her?''

''I think I've said enough.''

Karen let him go, she had enough and if need be could ask around.  She walked around and saw Tyler and Hardy by the back door looking quite at home with each other, who were they trying to fool?  Still, she could save that for a rainy day, she had to get her disgruntled editor to agree if she gave him Beth Latimer's story to let her stay here.

Rose and Alec had moved around and ended up by the back door, just seeing Chloe Latimer and who Rose assumed was her boyfriend though she doubted the girl's parents knew about it sneaking out after Tom seemed to be upset about Chloe saying he used to be her brother's best friend and he had stormed off, Rose had been unable to hear what had been said.

''How much longer do we have to stay here Alec?'' Rose asked, thinking if he still had a room here they could have gone to it.

''We'll leave shortly, I think it's been rather productive, don't you?  Those men in the lounge seemed a bit too jovial for a funeral, I'd bet they were the one's who hounded Jack Marshall and as for Joe Miller not being concerned that the vicar had his hand on Tom's knee, I find that very concerning unless he knows something we don't, that Paul Coates is not responsible for Danny's death.  There's only one way he could actually know that's true.''

''Yeah, I know, Ellie would have gone crazy if you'd told her, vicar or not.  When do you expect those results back?''

''Hopefully not too long, then you ask your friend to ask Tom for his computer and bring him for another interview, preferable by his dad.  I want to see both their reactions when I produce Tom's laptop.  Come on then Tyler, let's get back to work, we can't hang around here all day.''

Rose smiled.  ''Ok, I just want to offer my condolences to Jack's wife, you go ahead.''

''Aye, give her mine as well will you?''

Rose knew her influence on him had made him go soft.  They got back to the station and after a while, Alec called her into his office.  He had got copies of Tom Miller's emails he and Danny had sent each other.  He told Rose to make the call.  He also got on the phone to get someone to trace the number Danny's phone had been forwarded to and if any calls were made or received to it, he wanted to know right away.

Rose got through to Ellie, who had just got back from the funeral, her sister had been watching her youngest son.

''Hi Ellie, we were wondering if you could ask Tom to let us look at his laptop?  Only we've been going through Danny's and we know the two of them were emailing each other.  Can you ask him to bring it in tomorrow?  You or Joe can bring him in.''

Alec had told her to give the option of either parent bringing him in but he suspected it would be the boy's father after today.  He already had copies of Danny's emails to Tom but was curious to see Tom's reactions when confronted with the damaged computer which he was expecting back shortly by courier.

''I'm not happy about the whole thing Rose, Joe only provided a DNA sample to stop getting asked questions, do you think he's actually involved?''

''As a friend, I can say this Ellie, half the male population in the area are suspects, we have to rule everyone out and establish alibis.  You were asleep, you admitted it and so was I, I can't give Mickey one either.''

''But do you want to give Mickey an alibi? I noticed you weren't wearing your wedding ring or do you always take it off at work?''

''Has Joe not said anything to you?  Mickey said he's been spending a lot of time with him lately.''

''He doesn't tell me everything.  What happened Rose?''

''I left him, I moved out and I've given notice on the house, I thought Mickey had told half the town by now, Paul Coates knew.''

''Well I didn't know until I saw you today without your ring.  Joe's not been out that much anyway, he's been on shifts.  I'll get Tom to bring his laptop in tomorrow, any particular time?''

''Make it around ten and I'll make sure we're in.''

''Joe doesn't like your boss you know, me, I don't know enough about him.   I'll bring Tom in myself.  Why don't you come around one night for dinner?''

''Not a good idea Ellie, not under the circumstances, maybe when all this is over yeah?''

Rose hung up and went to tell Alec what she had just learned – that Joe Miller had not been out as much as Mickey had claimed he was.

''The thing is though, every night until I moved out, Mickey was careful to include Joe Miller's name in every topic, like what night it was at the pub and then there was how he added his name as an afterthought for the night of Danny's death.  It's like Joe Miller has been asking him to cover for him.''

''We already suspected that, they seem to have an arrangement and they are both similar in build, since we've established Nigel Carter was elsewhere, I think it's safe to say if was one of them.  How does that make you feel Tyler?''

''Like I'm glad I filed those divorce papers, how do you think I feel?''

Alec tried not to let a smile slip, it wouldn't do his reputation any good amongst the rest of the office.

''Whichever one it is, they will slip up Tyler, just be prepared for the worse because if it is Mickey, well let's just say you might only have me on your side.  Can you cope with that?''

''Do you have to ask?  Despite my filing for divorce, I don't think it was Mickey but if it is, I'll act as professional as with any other suspect, if he needs interrogating.''

Alec's desk phone rang.  It seemed Paul Coates was downstairs for a DNA sample taking and Alec was going to enjoy this, forgoing Rose's offer to be the one to administer it.  He got up, putting his jacket on.

''Oh no Tyler, this one is mine.''

''Don't go causing trouble with the church Sir, the chief won't be pleased if you do.''

''Who says there will be any trouble Tyler?''

''Oh, you pick a fight with him when he hands you a piece of evidence then try and stir up trouble between him and Joe Miller and have the nerve to ask him to volunteer a DNA sample.  Need I say any more Sir?''

''Stop being so smug Tyler, you're not right all the time.  Sign for that package if it comes back and leave it on my desk.  Oh and I've put a trace on that number Danny Latimer had his phone forwarded to.  Maybe tomorrow someone may be tempted to turn it on eh?''

''Yes Sir.''

Alec went off and finally let a smile slip once he had gone through the outer door. He did enjoy taking a cheek swab from the vicar and was glad Rose wasn't there to witness another confrontation but no doubt she would get the hear about it after he'd asked earlier if the sermon at Jack Marshall's funeral was directed at him.

After what seemed like an endless day, Tom's laptop being returned and stashed in the bottom of Alec's desk drawer along with a stack of papers with the emails printed on he had got someone to do for him, Rose picked him up outside the station and they drove the short distance back to their caravan.  Alec just stretched out on one of the lounger chairs on the decking as Rose went to make some tea and sat opposite him.  He took her hand behind the table and squeezed it.

''It's all coming together Rose, we just need that phone to be switched on and we have the killer.  I just wish I knew for definite which one of them it was.  Let's get Mickey in first thing before Tom Miller comes in and try and get him to admit he was covering for his friend, if you are so convinced it wasn't him?''

''He starts work at eight thirty and I'm not sure how much more his boss is going to put up with him taking time off.  He could lose his job over it.''

''Well I'll just call his boss and say he's helping us with our enquiries and now, after this morning's headlines, I'm no longer backing down, I can't let that bitch win.''

''I don't expect you to, that would mean she was right and she isn't.  Are we going out tonight?''

''Got the bingo bug have we?''

Rose smiled and put her hand on his leg.  ''Careful Rose, I had to reprimand the vicar for doing that to Tom Miller earlier.''

''Did you say something when you took that DNA sample?''

''I may have done, after I asked him if his sermon this morning was directed at me.  I heard something interesting as well this morning, I forgot to mention.  I overheard someone saying they had seen him at an AA meeting over in Yeovil the other night.  So what was he doing over in Somerset?''

''Did you ask him?''

''No darlin' I'm leaving that task to you, you're good at things like that.  You can interview Mickey as well, I'll interview Tom and hopefully his dad, I doubt he'll allow the boy's mother to bring him in, not now.''

''Alec, you're making a lot of enemies, be careful, especially with you being as you are.  When are you going to call the hospital?''

''I've been busy love, I'll call tomorrow, I promise and with any luck, it will all be over soon.  Maybe we should just wait until it is?''

''You're putting it off again.  Why don't you call tomorrow, no excuses?''

''We'll see, now are we going out?''

She leaned over and kissed his cheek, never mind anyone looking out of the caravans opposite or anyone passing such as Mickey, on the next row down, searching for Rose's car.  He had figured she wouldn't take a caravan down the coast when she worked practically next door to one and had started on the first road before Rose had driven them back.  He was just walking back down from the top on the next row and thought he saw Hardy come and sit out on the deck though he couldn't see a car parked at the side.

He had waited and then he could swear he had seen Rose joining him and he had waited a while, hidden by a wooden fence where the waste disposal area was and some parked cars and he hoped no-one would question why he was there.  Then he saw Rose getting up and kissing Hardy's cheek.  He had been right but what could he do about it?  Legally they were still married but she had already filed her part of the divorce papers so there was only one thing he could do, call Jackie Tyler to talk some sense into her daughter.  He walked back to the car he had borrowed across the other side of the harbour and got out his phone.

''Jackie, Rose threw me out last night, I meant to call you but I thought since she was clearing the house out on Saturday, she would change her mind but I've seen her today, at a funeral and she wasn't wearing her ring still but I know now, she's seeing someone else.''

''What?  My Rose is cheating on you?''

''Well yeah, technically we're still married 'cos I've not signed the papers yet and I'm not gonna now, she even stuffed a separation order on me the other night and then she had the nerve to come around and make sure I didn't take anything that wasn't mine, she and her new boyfriend were waiting for me last night.''

''Well you idiot, who is he?''

''Oh.''  Mickey had forgotten in his anger to tell his mother-in-law who the culprit was who had stolen his wife away from right under his nose.

''Her boss, Alec Hardy, I just saw them together where they're staying.  She tried to tell me last night he was there to make sure I didn't take any of her stuff then I saw the way they were acting at that funeral.  What do I do Jackie?''

''You leave her to me Mickey Smith, that's what.  I'll talk some sense into her.  What the hell is she playing at?  It will end in tears again and I'm not going through all that with her again, she settled with you after that other disaster, hasn't she learned her lesson after that?''

''Seems not to me but seeing her there, there were on the decking of their caravan and she got up and kissed his cheek then he pulled her back onto his lap and they were kissing properly.  He's not just her boss now.''

It was lucky he had gone off when he did, Alec had given her a thorough snogging, neighbours or no neighbours then as she had got up, tapped her bum to which she had smiled.

Mickey hung up and drove back to his mate's house, getting a pat on the shoulder and a can of lager thrust into his hands and the words, ''Never mind mate, plenty more woman around here on holiday, take your pick.''

He sat down on the sofa and contemplated his options but Rose had beaten him to everything, filed first, got the separation order, probably had her meeting with the magistrate.  She was a DS, she knew the law and he was just a car mechanic.  The rate she and her boss boyfriend were going, if they kept bringing him in to answer questions, he not only was going to lose his wife, he would also lose his job.

Jackie Tyler in the meantime was fuming.  How could her daughter do a thing like that and cheat on her husband, filing for divorce or not, she was still married to the man who had helped her get over that six months ordeal with that loser Jimmy Stone that she thought she would never recover from.  All those bruises that had been carefully hidden away and Rose crying herself to sleep every night after she was free from it but not mentally.  It had left a deep invisible scar on her and Mickey had been patient with her and given her space to think before suggesting they started dating.

She had been relieved when Rose had finally agreed to go out with him but it had taken a long time to finally persuade her to marry him, to convince her she was safe with him and it would help her career.  She had been proud the way Rose had thrown herself into the Police Force and got where she was today but now, she was putting it at risk by cheating on her husband with a detective inspector, her boss. Well she would give Rose the choice of ending it and going back to Mickey or report him to his superior officer and see how he liked that.
Chapter 13
Alec was trying his best at bingo but neither of them won and they narrowly missed out at the quiz by one point but they were up against a loud-mouthed group of six whom Rose thought were obnoxious.  She and Alec had decided they were going to be known as 'The Detectives' as their team name on the answer paper and tonight, she blamed him for not knowing the capital of Croatia in the general knowledge quiz, stating he was older than her and he should know.  He made it up to her once they got to bed but only after she made him promise to swot up on his general knowledge and he said he had better things to do with his time, like snog her to death out on the decking.

They were unaware that Rose's mother was fuming after the call she had received from Mickey, she decided to calm down and call the next morning or she might have said something she regretted if she had called once she had finished talking to her distraught son-in-law.  Rose was woken up by Alec bringing her the usual morning cup of coffee, he always had tea and wondered how she could drink it first thing.

''Morning gorgeous, ready to catch a killer today?''

He got back into bed like he always did and she snuggled up to him after drinking half the contents of the mug.

''I hope so Alec, this is dragging on and I don't like it.  I hope we've been right about this, I mean if I get Mickey to confess he's been covering for Joe Miller, we still have to prove it was him.''

''Relax love, I'm 99% certain it's him, the way he reacted yesterday, it wasn't normal for him to react like that over his son, like you said, his mother would have gone crazy, vicar or not.  Miller had to be assured he knew for a fact it wasn't Paul Coates.  Now come here and snog me before we go to work.''

Rose pretended she wanted to finish her coffee but Alec won in the end as he pulled her back to him and pinned her down, taking nips out of her as he moved her vest top out of the way.

''You are gorgeous Rose Tyler and I don't know why you settled for me.''

''I do, you're so cute detective inspector and I wouldn't have had the courage to split from Mickey if you hadn't been there for me to cry on you.''

''You said you would have left, eventually.''

''I would, yeah but I would have had an awful time without you being here.  It's been a week since you kissed me that afternoon, that was the best kiss of my life.''

Alec smiled and nipped at her exposed skin again.  ''Mine too, you tasted of lip gloss and smelt of that strawberry shampoo and I knew one kiss was not going to be enough.  Why did you come to the hotel that night?''

''I sat down and thought about it, why I was still there, putting up with what had been handed to me.  I didn't want to get married, I know that much now.  That kiss was so nice, you took the time to kiss me properly.  Plus, you took the chance of going back up there and we almost got caught, I can't believe you actually did that!''

Alec looked up and smiled at his new girlfriend, married or not, he still loved her and she would soon be free but he knew he had to give her time to get used to being free and she had to make her own mind up if she wanted to stay with him, a sickly older than she was man who had been broken before he met her.  He had to give her the choice and if she chose to stay, then he would be happy but how would he cope if once she got her divorce, she decide she wanted to be independent and leave him?

No, she wouldn't leave until she knew he'd had his operation but he knew he couldn't delay that much longer, the visit from his GP a few nights before Rose had come to his hotel room had told him that plus collapsing on the bathroom floor after Rose had left that night, if she found out, she would never forgive him for not telling her and he'd made Becca Fisher promise she wouldn't say anything.  Luckily, he had no outward signs he had fallen and bumped his head and the hospital staff had been less than pleased when he'd woken up at six thirty and discharged himself the next morning.

Then he had been stupid enough to get Rose back to the hut to fool around on the sofa with her and it had been the best afternoon of his life, she had felt so good against him, kissing and touching her and her pretending to get mad at him for almost getting them caught but she had gone back with him that night to his hotel and they had almost finished what they had started earlier, despite her having a confrontation with her husband.

He had to let her go as she squirmed and said she desperately needed the bathroom and grabbed her robe and disappeared into the smaller one.  He got up, knowing they didn't really have time to take things further anyway, as much as he would have liked to try.  He supposed she really stayed with him because he wasn't forcing her into anything, what they were doing was much more than just nice and once they had Danny's killer locked up safely and Rose's divorce came through, he was going to finish what he knew at present he couldn't, as much as he wanted to.

He had promised her he would call the hospital and he deeply regretted he hadn't done so already, he should have said something to his GP when they had met late one night before his first kiss with Rose and his almost fatal visit to the local hospital.  He was scared it wouldn't all go in his favour but he was more scared of losing Rose, now they were living together, albeit in a posh caravan but Rose seemed to be at home here, it was rather spacious as caravans went, better than the tent he and his parents had camped in for a week when he was about twelve, up on the cliff top.  He had looked for the campsite when he'd arrive but all the cliffs here looked the same to him and it was a long time ago.

He went into the other bathroom and washed his face and tried to dry his beard.  It was getting thick again but Rose always giggled when he leaned down to kiss her belly or something else and said it just ticked.  He looked at his shaving kit, then at his watch.  Hell, it would only take him five minutes to rid himself of some of it and would prove he was trying to please her.  He had given up years ago trying to impress women, they either took to him or not, mostly not.

He looked at himself almost ten minutes later, some of that with the can of shaving foam in one hand and the foam in the palm of his other hand.  Maybe he should have invested in a battery or electric razor, he wouldn't have had the choice then but he suddenly put the foam on his face and picked up the razor and thought it was now or never.  He had already heard Rose come out of the other bathroom and she would wonder what he was up to.

She tapped on the bathroom door as she passed, having got dressed and wondered why he was taking his time.

''Come on loverboy, are you making yourself pretty in there?''

He would have answered if he'd not be concentrating on not cutting himself.  He wondered why he wasn't so out of practice at shaving that he hadn't entirely forgotten how to actually do it but the end result pleased him but not the cleaning of the sink before Rose told him off for leaving his facial hair in it, he knew all too well what his ex had been like and as much as he now knew he loved Rose, he didn't think she would spare him over it.

Satisfied, he finished up and headed for the safety of the bedroom before she had seen what he had done.  There was only about a day's growth there now, he couldn't bring himself to part with it altogether, unless Rose complained tonight it was too rough on her skin then he would tease her and offer to put some lotion where it had rubbed.  That fired his imagination of where he would kiss her to find out her reaction.

He finished getting dressed while Rose got breakfast on and she had just put it on the round dining table when she heard the bedroom door opening, noting he had taken longer than usual this morning but they would hardly be late, it only took two minutes in the car, even going back around the mini roundabout outside the campsite and dropping Alec on the corner and going back to the roadway into the underground car park.

She was beginning to think it would be easier to leave the car parked at the side of the caravan and go back and get it if they needed to go somewhere.  It would be even easier if the camp didn't have a one-way road system but she was hardly in a position to dictate to the manager that it was purely for her benefit.  Maybe one morning she would get her flashing blue light out and go speeding down the wrong way but it may get them thrown out.

Alec never said a word as he sat opposite her and she looked up from her breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast.  She just stared at him.

''Wow, no wonder you took so long, you were making yourself look pretty.  You look good Alec, it makes you look younger and less tired.''

''I do feel less tired, I even lost the bags under my eyes and they look normal, not red like they were.  You made me change Rose.''

''Go on, blame me!  Seriously, you need to keep that look, it really does suit you though why keep some of it?  Couldn't bear to part with it all or do you still want it to tickle me when you kiss me?''

He smiled.  ''Well I wouldn't want you to suffer the loss of the feel of my beard when I kiss you all over love, would I?''

She was about to say something back when her personal phone rang, she had not yet put it on 'silent' before setting off for work.  Alec knew the tune, that one for her mother and since he had finished eating, gathered the plates and took them to the sink, trying to give Rose some privacy, not that he thought she had anything to hide from him but some mother and daughter conversations were not for the ears of men, especially when it was about them.

''Mum, hi.  How have you been?  Sorry I've not called, I've been busy.''

''What with Rose?  Work and your new boyfriend?''

''What?  What do you mean?''

''You know very well what I mean young lady, you dumped Mickey, slapped a divorce on him and moved in with your boss, that's what I mean.''

Rose went silent.  How the hell did she know she and Alec had moved in together, unless Mickey had been spying on them after the funeral yesterday?

''What has Mickey been telling you?''

''I know it all Madam, you serving him the divorce papers, handing him the separation order, which he thought was a bit much and you swanning off to get the local magistrate on your side.  You never gave him a chance Rose.  What happened to you sweetheart?  Don't go getting caught up with anyone else, see some sense and go back to Mickey while you still can.''

Rose noticed Alec had moved away but she didn't want to drive him away if she discussed this in front of him but he already knew most of it.

''Mum, I gave him every chance, two years and more of it.  I told you how things were and you couldn't accept it.  It's over, can't you understand that?  I'm moving on and yes, I'm moving on with Alec, he's not just my boss any more, he's much more than that and before you say anything, yes, he knows what happened to me and although he's not happy about it, he accepts it and he's promised to look after me and protect me.  He wanted me to press charges against Jimmy Stone but I told him it had been dealt with and it was over and done with and he accepted that too. You and Mickey made my choices for me Mum and I know they were wrong now, Alec made me see that.''

That was a big mistake.  ''Rose, listen to yourself, you're letting this Alec Hardy run your life for you now, how is that better or any different to what you accused me and Mickey of doing?''

''There is a difference Mum, I love Alec, I never knew if I loved Mickey or not, the two of you never gave me chance to think.  I have to go, I have a young boy's killer to catch, in case you'd forgotten.''

''Rose, just talk to Mickey, talk things out with him and he'll forgive you for going off with your boss, put it down to this case you're on.  He'll take you back, he told me he would, he doesn't want this.''

''Well I do Mum and I'm sorry you feel like I've failed at it but we both did.  You knew how things were going badly before all this started and I didn't go to Alec until I had filed my divorce papers, he wouldn't start anything until I had assured him I was ending my marriage to Mickey.  He's divorced himself, he remembers what it was like for him.  You've always taken Mickey's side in things, I don't expect you to be on my side now and I'll be having words with him for spying on me because there is no way he knew I'd moved in with Alec unless he saw us here and no-one knows where we live.''

''Well you can't blame him Rose, he told me how you were acting with your boss when you went to throw him out of the house.''

Alec had his jacket on and was pointing to his watch, mouthing, ''Come on Rose, we'll be late.''

She covered the speaker of the phone.  ''You go ahead, I'll meet you in the office, I won't be long.''

He moved in front of her and kissed her cheek and brushed her hair behind her ear. ''Are you sure love?''

''Yeah, no need for us both to be late, you can chew me out when I get there.''

He kissed her and said, ''Oh you had better believe it Tyler, I'm looking forward to it.''

She smiled at him and he picked up his key, locking the front patio door onto the decking behind him as he waved and blew her a kiss before going down the steps. Like he thought, he didn't want to hear her discussing his finer points with her mother or listening to her saying good things about him as opposed to her husband. He certainly didn't want to hear her defending him and when Smith came in later, he was going to maybe charge him with spying on them.  He had to have seen them either go out last night or sitting together on the decking for half an hour and him snogging the life out of Rose, which she seemed to have enjoyed immensely judging by the low moaning sounds coming out of her mouth when they kept stopping to breathe every now and then and sometimes into his own mouth.

He loved it when she did that, the mere fact he could still keep a young blonde interested in him and judging by her reaction to him shaving, he still had it but now he only had eyes for her.  He just hoped he had done the right thing and left her to talk to her mother but it wasn't like Rose was still sixteen and listening to her mother's advice.  How could she go back to her husband now?  More importantly in his mind, how had she allowed herself to be talked into marrying him in the first place?

Rose was having no luck with her mother.  ''Mum, I'm sorry, I really have to go and I've got nothing else to say about it.  If Mickey won't sign the divorce papers, I'm still legally separated from him.  The magistrate is deciding what to do if Mickey refuses to sign anyway, I'll have to go by what he rules.  I'm still not going back and you may as well know that Mickey is impeding our investigation by giving a suspect an alibi for the night of Danny's death.  Now you know why I was in such a hurry to distance myself from him.''

''You suspect Mickey has something to do with it?  Your own husband Rose?''

''Only technically my husband but he's covering for someone, we know he is and it's nothing to do with our marriage break-up, we suspected before that.''

''Do you know how that sounds Rose?  Does your boss even know about you two?''

''Yes, she does.  We told her on Monday morning, we had to and I'm taking the lead in all this, Alec is just keeping back.  I don't think Mickey killed Danny and neither does Alec but if he's covering up, I have to keep out of it.''

''Rose, don't abandon him if he's involved, he maybe did it for a reason.''

''Yeah, to get back at me for ruining his holiday and for us arguing all the time.  I know why he did it Mum, because of what I am, he expects me to protect him from questioning – well I can't.  For your information, I didn't throw him out of the house either, he said last week he'd sign the papers and I told him he could stay until the month's notice was up then he changed his mind so I went to get the keys back.  I'm going now, believe me or not.''

She hung up and picked up her work bag and key for the kitchen door plus her car keys and drove around to the station and then made her way to the office.  Alec got up when he saw her coming to her desk and went to open his door.

''Tyler!  My office – now!''

He slammed the door behind him and everyone looked and if there were any bets the two of them were shagging each other's brains out, a vast amount of people were going to be losing it seemed.  Rose looked around sheepishly and opened his office door.  She was only ten minutes or so late, what was so bad about that?  Still, she supposed he had to at least make it look good until her divorce came through or not and if it didn't, people had better get used to the fact Alec Hardy was playing around with a married woman because they both knew they couldn't give each other up even if Rose was only separated.

''What time do you call this Tyler?'' he demanded to know, motioning her to sit opposite and loud enough for those nearby to hear him.

Rose was doing her utmost to keep a straight face and not burst out laughing and set him off as well.  ''Sorry Sir, a personal matter but you wouldn't get that, would you?''

''Don't be insubordinate Tyler.  We have Tom Miller coming it at ten, the vicar is on his way and I called your husband's boss to tell him we need him to come for another interview, he didn't sound too happy about it and neither did your husband, he'll be here soon.  You can interview him and the vicar, I'll watch.''

He knew they had already discussed this but it was for the rest of the offices' benefit. Rose wanted to smile at him but she knew she could be seen from the corner of the glass fronted office and pulling the blinds down would seem a little odd so she shifted the chair and smirked at him.

''Don't look so pleased Tyler, I know you'll get some pleasure out of interrogating your husband so take that look off your face and don't think I'm handing this investigation over to you either.''

''The thought never crossed my mind Sir.  Are you interviewing Tom Miller up here?''

''Yes, I'm going to video it, the camera is all set up.  When you've finished with your husband, come and join me and Tyler, don't mess about with him, I want the truth out of him, he's played us for fools for too long, I want some results.  Is that clear?''

''Perfectly, Sir.''

There was a knock on his office door.

''Excuse me DS Tyler, your husband is down in interview room one.''

''Thanks Frank, care to join me?''

She got up then to Alec she said, ''Are you coming to watch Sir?''

''Can I trust you?''

She never replied as she closed the door behind her.  She was just glad he was putting on a show for the others or she would be close to tears by now.  Frank walked down the stairs with her.

''Don't you get tired of him goading you all the time Ma'am?''

''Stop calling me that.  He's just doing his job, keeping us all in line to solve this case. It doesn't matter anyway, once this is over, he'll lighten up.''

''Maybe but we all think he comes that way.  Making you keep interviewing your husband's a bit cruel though.  He's a bit sadistic.''

''I don't need you to stick up for me, I'm quite capable of interviewing my husband. You're gonna hear some things in there so you might as well know before you go in, we've split up so don't go spreading it around the office or I'll kick your ass back to the ranks.  Got it?''

They had just reached the interview room when she got a ''Yes DS Tyler'' out of her colleague.  They were of the same rank but Rose had a higher grade.  As she opened the door to the interview room, Mickey was sitting across the other side of the table, his arms folded, expecting an easy ride since he had told his mother-in-law about Rose and her boss snogging out of the deck of their love nest.  He was in for a big shock.
Chapter 14
Rose sat down opposite who she sincerely hoped would soon be her ex husband. Whatever had she seen in him?  He looked so smug and arrogant, like he knew her mother would have called her and told her to have a re-think about the divorce and he was fairly confident he would get her back.  He didn't know just how wrong he was.

Rose did the introductions on the recording and got down to business.

''Right, stop messing about Mickey because we already know that you're covering for Joe Miller.  His wife says he's not been out as much as you make out so why don't you just admit you were covering for him?  Did he ask you or did you volunteer? We know he wasn't with you the night Danny Latimer died.''

''Huh?  How do you know that?''

Rose smiled, she had just won round one.  Then he realised she had tricked him. Since when could she do that?

''Come on Mickey, it's obvious, you're sticking up for each other why?''

He looked at the solicitor who had been provided for him.

''Do you really want to know?''

''Yes Mickey, this has gone on long enough.  Tell me who you were really with that night?''

''This is about where you think I was that night, well I'm not having an affair if that's what you think, unlike some people around here.''

''Then tell me where you were between 10.30 pm and 6.30 am the night Danny died.''

''I was with Nige Carter, then I went off to The Traders until just after ten thirty.  I left there and went home.  You were asleep, in the middle of the bed so I went in the spare room.  You never sleep in the middle of the bed and I know what you're like if I'd woken you up so I went in the spare room.  I even tidied the bed when I got up so you wouldn't get mad at me.  There, are you satisfied now you've made me tell everyone?''

''So you weren't with Joe Miller that night?''

''No, not until the following night, I saw him and he asked me to say he was with me the night before and if I needed an excuse to be out he'd say I was him.  You drove me to it.''

''Leave me out of it, this has got nothing to do with me, you knew what you were doing.  Do you know how much time has been wasted because of your stupid petty games?  Just to get back at me?''

She got up and stormed out and called a WPC to take his statement.  Then she went back in.

''Write everything down and sign it, DI Hardy may want to charge you with obstructing a police investigation. Think yourself lucky I can't charge you with stupidity.  This was completely unnecessary and you've wasted a lot of valuable time but I'll leave that up to him.  You can go when you've finished giving your statement.''

She walked out again and straight to the ladies room and closed the cubicle door behind her.  He hadn't been cheating on her, he was getting back at her for working late and ignoring him on holiday.  She had been the one who was cheating, admittedly only when she had decided she was going to leave him but the kiss last week, hours before she told Mickey she was leaving, it was sort of cheating but she knew she had never loved him the way she loved Alec.

She got her act together and had just come out when she bumped into Alec.

''Well done Tyler, I heard.  Now come and interview Tom Miller with me and then we'll find out what the vicar has been hiding, he's not coming in until later.  We were right but I'm sorry, I got you into leaving him, when you thought he was cheating but he wasn't.''

''Yeah but he was acting all suspicious, what was I supposed to think?  It doesn't matter now, the magistrate will decide if he still won't sign.''

''I'll stick by you Rose, no matter what happens, ok?''

There was no-one around so he leaned down and put his finger under her chin and lifted it up, then whispered in her ear, ''I love you Tyler.''

She smiled at him.  ''Now everyone knows Alec, it was recorded.''

''What recording?  I may have accidentally hit the delete button after listening to it.  He's gone by the way, I'm still deciding whether to charge him or not but if I don't I'm only holding back because of you, until everything's decided.  Come on, let's go spring our little surprise on Tom Miller shall we?''

The interview was going fairly well.  The boy sat and lied to Alec and his father, whom Alec had expected to come with him, telling them he'd had the laptop stolen and his reaction when Alec produced it was not that surprising, considering he had threatened the vicar about handing it over but the printed emails gave him away.

''So Tom, you and Danny had a falling out?''

''He said he didn't want to be my friend any more, he'd got another friend.''

Alec was watching his reaction through the camera lens as Rose sat beside him.

''So how did that make you feel Tom?  Angry, upset?  Angry enough to want to hurt him?''

Alec watched Joe's face rather than the boy's.  Joe got up, pulling Tom with him.

''That's enough. If you want to ask any more questions, I'm bringing our solicitor in.''

''Fine, we're done, you can both go.  Oh Tom, what size shoe do you take?''

''Size six.''

''Thanks.  Have you ever been up at the hut on Briar Cliff?''

''Sometimes.''

''Ok, you can leave now, thanks for coming in.''

The two of them left, Joe with his arm around the boy and Alec turned off the camera.

''Tell Paul Coates not to bother coming in, did you see his reaction?  I said it was him.''

''Yeah, now all we need is to prove it, well done Columbo.''

''Watch it Tyler.''

Rose smiled, even though half the office probably saw her but suddenly she didn't care.  They'd had a very productive morning and now all the needed was to track the missing mobile phone, the last piece of evidence and the key to the case.

The rest of the day was spent going over the evidence from the boat and Rose had to go down to interview Olly Stevens, who came in to say his dad's boat had been stolen.  Alec was just annoyed he had not suspected the town's junior reporter amongst all the other's they had hauled in at some point.  They hadn't realised what time it was as Rose knocked on his door and asked if he was ready to leave.  She had already been out for some food and hadn't reckoned they were going to be so late, there would be no going out tonight.

Suddenly, her phone rang and she burst into his office.

''Sir, someone just rang in to say they saw torchlight up at the hut.  I've sent a unit up there, telling them no lights or sirens and another to the boatyard at the bottom of the cliff.''

''I told you Tyler, he's panicking, trying to clear any signs of him being there he may have missed.  Well don't stand there, come on.''

It was already after eight, they didn't normally work that late but Rose had been out earlier to find the woman from the caravan site again but she had cleared everything out.  She had wanted to get Susan Wright to admit she hadn't seen Nigel Carter that night.  They rushed down to the car park and Rose was making her way carefully down the narrow lane she hated towards the hut, almost at the car park, Alec warning her to approach carefully.  She had something to say to him.

''Don't you dare go chasing anyone Alec, leave that to the uniforms and me.  If whoever is in there makes a run for it, don't you get any ideas.''

''Who put you in charge Tyler?'' he asked, getting out of the car as two uniformed officers came towards them.

He directed them where he wanted, one around the back with himself and one with Rose.

''Be careful Tyler.''

''You too Sir.''

Rose made her way around the front with the officer she knew as Bob and carefully approached the door.  She looked through the window as far as she knew, whoever it was, Joe Miller or not, someone was still in there.  She hoped whoever it was hadn't noticed the sofa cushions after she and Alec had made out on it.  Suddenly, the door burst open and someone pushed past her, knocking her into the other officer.

She shouted out ''Stop!'' to whoever it was as she and Bob chased after the figure dressed in black and Alec and the other officer ran from the back and joined them. Rose barely had the time to register Alec had been running but he seemed ok to her. He was but as they ran down the track to where the boats were chained up, then towards a chain-linked fence, she realised Alec was faltering although it wasn't really that far.  She turned around to see him leaning on the side of a boat, the two officers now joined by the other two that were waiting down there.

Suddenly Alec clutched his chest and slid to the ground.

''Alec, are you ok?  Where are your pills?''

''Pocket, it's too late Rose, I love you darlin'.''

He closed his eyes but Rose was having non of it as she yelled out, ''Get an ambulance up here now, quick,'' and saw Bob get on his radio.

She loosened Alec's top button and tie.  ''Get some water, quickly,'' she ordered, grabbing his pills from his pocket.

In the torchlight, he looked pale and Rose hardly recognised him from the expression on his face, gasping for breath.

''Oh no you don't, you're not dying on my Alec Hardy, I need you to get me through my divorce, you're the reason I'm doing it.''

She didn't care if anyone was listening.  She was handed a bottle of water and took two pills from the blister pack but Alec just lay there, barely breathing as she tried to lift his head to put them in his mouth.

''Come on love, just swallow them for me, please Alec, I can't lose you, not now.''

He grabbed her arm but as she tried to get him to swallow the pills, he went still, his eyes staring at her.

''NO!  You are not dying on me, do you hear me?''

She leaned down to open his mouth, remembering her training and breathed into it, then pressed the required number of times on his chest, then went back to breath for him again, then repeating it but there was no response, the pills lying on the ground where they had been dropped.  She hadn't realised but Bob was checking his pulse, holding Alec's wrist.

''Ma'am, I've got a slight pulse, not much but it's there.''

They heard the siren, Rose just praying it was the ambulance and a few minutes later, the crew were at her side, Bob pulling her away as they put a breathing mask on her lover and lifting him gently onto the folding trolley.  Rose looked up as one of the medics asked if she wanted to go with them.

''Yes.  Bob, take my keys and have my car taken back to the station and not a word of this to anyone, say he slipped and he's getting checked over, I'll tell the chief in the morning but if he comes round from this, he won't thank you for telling everyone.  He'll be ok, he has to be.''

She climbed in the ambulance and let the crew member close the doors and the medic was monitoring him, getting him on a life-support machine.  She was asked a few questions and they said since he was stabilised, they were taking him down to Dorchester where a team would be waiting for him, they didn't want to risk taking him locally after last time.

Rose looked up.  ''What do you mean last time?''  She was holding Alec's hand.

Alec had remembered collapsing by the side of a boat on a stand and Rose telling him not to die on her but he had no control over it but he felt her holding his hand. He squeezed it and she looked at him, smiling.  He felt the breathing mask covering his face and a beeping sound and movement but that was all.  He tried to take the mask off but Rose stopped him.

''Don't get any funny ideas about taking that off, you're on your way to hospital.''

He was going to try to say think again but closed his eyes again, he knew Rose would never let him win, that all he wanted to do was close his eyes and that was it but he loved her and had promised he wouldn't leave her and that was what his body was trying to do.  His mind and determination had other ideas.

Rose had given the symptoms of his condition, the medic said he had attended Alec before, a few weeks ago.  Rose asked if he had been picked up from The Traders Hotel and was told it was the other Wednesday night.  Rose knew it must have been just after she left and kicked herself for leaving him that night but back then, he had given her no indication he was so gravely ill.  She was going to be so mad with him when he came round for not telling her.  The medic also said Alec had discharged himself the next morning.  Rose thought just let him try this time.

They arrived at the hospital's emergency entrance and Rose got out first to allow the crew to get Alec out.  The machine was still beeping though not very loud but Rose thought they could have turned it down so as not to alarm her, or Alec.  He had opened his eyes again, Rose had squeezed his hand and told him he was going to be ok.

Alec had registered what she was telling him but he knew it was a lie, it was his time and he knew it and he couldn't even tell her he loved her and didn't want to leave her.  He was taken into a cubicle and hooked up to the monitors, Rose being asked who she was, her showing her badge just in case they had any ideas about throwing her out.

His records were quickly retrieved and he was giving his medication in a drip which had been hastily put into his arm which seemed to be calming him down. The doctor who was attending him now was asking Rose some questions.

''Is he taking his medication as prescribed DS Tyler?''

''Yeah, since he told me, he's taking it in front of me and I'm not just his work partner, I'm his girlfriend.  He only told me what was wrong with him a week ago and I've been keeping him out of trouble, until earlier when the stupid idiot starting chasing a suspect in a murder investigation, despite me warning him not to.''

''Well we have him back on his medication and a heart surgeon will be here shortly, we've called one in.  You know he should have had that pacemaker inserted eighteen months ago?''

Rose thought he had neglected to bother telling her that, he had put it off longer than he had let on to her.

''It doesn't surprise me, I might be his girlfriend but he never told me that bit.''

''Well I'll let the surgeon talk to you, if DI Hardy can't sign, someone will have to sign the consent form.''

Rose looked shocked and glanced over at Alec, who had a bit more colour in his cheeks and was looking closer to normal than when he had been on the ground.  He still had his eyes closed but she knew her lover could hear a pin drop five miles away, especially when she tried to sneak from under him in the mornings, the slightest move woke him up.

''What consent form?''

''I'll be honest you, sorry what was your first name?''  Dr Blake didn't want to sound so formal with what he was about to tell her.

''It's Rose.  You'd best tell my why I have to sign a consent form for him.''

"I'm sorry Rose but if we don't insert the pacemaker now, he won't survive next time.  You saved his life back there, the ambulance crew said you revived him but he's suffered a massive shock, the next one and it's all over, it will be too late to put the pacemaker in then.  He's just holding on but he doesn't have much time.  The surgeon will do everything he can but there are no guarantees.  I'll have the nurse bring the forms then we'll prep him for surgery, all we can do is pray he'll survive but the surgeon is one of the best, he's done the operation numerous times, Alec has every chance of pulling through but if he has another attack now, at least he's here and we can keep him alive and hope there's no further damage been caused.''

Rose sank back down onto the chair beside Alec's still form lying there and let it sink in.  She knew she had saved him, when Bob had said there was a pulse, which meant he'd not had one when Bob took hold of his wrist, she had been too busy giving Alec CPR.

The doctor spoke to a nurse, who went off to get the forms, then another nurse came to tell him the surgeon had arrived and was preparing the operating theatre.  He then turned back to Rose.

''As soon as you sign the form we'll take him down and you can follow, the nurse will show you where to wait.  I have to go now, I wish him luck.''

''Thank you.  Do you know how long it will take before I know if he's going to be ok?''

''It varies, there's more preparation than anything though and it may seem like longer for you.  Alec may come round, it will be about twenty minutes before we take him down.''

He was handed a form and passed it to Rose, who looked at Alec, his eyes still closed. He wouldn't thank her for signing it and making the decision for him despite him saying he would get himself sorted.  He had admitted he was scared of losing her but she was even more scared of losing him.  How did he think she would feel if she let him die?

She looked at him and didn't know if he could hear her or not.  ''I'm sorry Alec, maybe I'm being selfish but I can't let you die if they can save you, please forgive me.''

She put the form on the bedside table and signed her name where the nurse had indicated and trusted if he came out of it he wouldn't leave her for doing so.  She handed it back and the nurse said someone would come to prepare him shortly.  He now just had a breathing tube in his nose instead of the full mask so Rose pulled the curtain around, determined she was going to give him what may well be their last kiss.  She brushed his lips lightly with her own and he opened his eyes, realising there were only her lips covering his mouth and not the mask from earlier but he had been in no position to argue over it anyway.

''Rose?''

''Hi, just lie still Alec, you're in the hospital, they're taking you down to the theatre soon so you'd best snog me while you have the chance.''

''What theatre?  Where am I?''

''Dorchester, the ambulance brought you here, you collapsed chasing Joe Miller, I think it was him, I was a bit busy trying to save your life at the time.  You died on me Alec.''

He managed a weak smile.  ''Sorry love, I'll try not to do it again.  Why are they taking me to theatre?  Rose, no, don't let them cut me open, don't let then put the pacemaker in, please Rose, promise me.''

''It's too late, I signed the consent form, you were out of it.  I'm sorry Alec, they told me the next time you have an attack, no-one will be able to bring you back, it's the pacemaker or….''

She couldn't bring herself to say or you die.  ''I can't let you go without a fighting chance Alec, I need you.  I love you too much to not sign it and watch you die, I had enough of that earlier when you died on me.  Why didn't you tell me you collapsed that night I left your hotel room?''

He knew she had him.  ''We weren't dating then, we'd only kissed the once, I didn't want to worry you, I'm sorry Rose but I'm not going to survive an operation, I was told there was very little chance I would, that was why I kept putting it off love, I wanted to be with you.''

''Shush, don't talk like that, we'll have lots of time together and I'll get that no good Mickey to sign the papers, one way or another.''

''It doesn't matter Rose.  Promise me you'll go back to him when I'm gone and make up with your mother.''

"You're not going anywhere Alec, not without me.''  The tears were flowing freely down her cheeks as she leaned down to kiss him.  ''I'm sorry Alec, I can't go back to him because I want to be with you.  You promise me you'll fight to come back to me, do you hear?  Because when you get out of here, I want you properly.''

If that didn't give him the incentive, nothing would, they had come so close, Alec's condition being the only thing stopping them for fear it would end in him collapsing but it had taken chasing a killer to do that, not the passionate nights and mornings they had been spending together for a week.

''Ok Tyler, I'll do my best, one more kiss but if I don't make it, I love you Rose Tyler, it's been the best week of my life.''

''You taught me what it was like to love Alec, real love, when you get out of here, you can show me because up until now, I know I've never had my first time and I want it with you.''

''Oh Rose, I can't tell you what that means to me love.  Aye, I'll fight to come back to you and I might forgive you for signing the consent form, if you forgive me for not telling you I collapsed that night.  Deal?''

Rose leaned down to kiss him awkwardly. ''Deal.  I love you Alec.''

He just managed to say, ''I love you too darlin''' when they came to take him to the theatre.

Rose followed with the carrier his clothes had been put in, she had already put his mobiles and wallet and his caravan key in her shoulder bag.  As they wheeled him into the theatre, all she could do was pray the surgeon and Alec himself would get him through it.
Chapter 15
It was getting late, Rose glanced at her watch having turned her phones off when in the cubicle with Alec and not wanting to turn them back on, Alec's were off too.  It was after ten, he had been in the operating theatre for about half an hour or so, him being brought in just before nine but it had seemed to Rose like hours ago now.  The last thing she had wanted was her mother calling to moan about taking Mickey back again.

She thought about what Alec had tried to get her to promise, she could make up with her mother if she could but she could never go back to Mickey, not now she had been with Alec.  If he didn't make it, she would go ahead with the divorce but settle for the separation but she would never love anyone again the way she loved Alec.  What she had told him before they took him was true, he had taught her what it was like to be really loved.

She must have dozed off because before she knew it, a nurse was trying to wake her.

''DS Tyler?''

''Yeah, that's me.  Is there any news of Alec Hardy?''

''That's what I came to tell you, he's in the recovery room, he's going to be fine. Come with me and I'll take you to him, the surgeon will come and talk to you when he's finished up.''

Rose got up.  ''Thank you.  Were there any complications?''

''You'll have to ask the surgeon that.  Alec is still unconscious but he'll come round soon.''

They had reached the recovery room, a curtain around Alec's bed.  The nurse continued.  ''I'll leave you here, just call if he comes round, there's always someone here.''

Rose looked around and saw another nurse in the corner and considering the time of night, had probably just been assigned there.  Rose went past the curtain and put the bags down she was carrying and pulled the chair as close as she could so she was facing him then leaned down on his arm and shoulder.  He looked better, a lot more colour than earlier and was just breathing steadily, the breathing tube still in his nose.  All that mattered to Rose now was him waking up and telling her he loved her.

It had made Rose even more determined to get the divorce now and if Mickey wasn't going to sign, she would have to play the ace she had been saving and appeal to the magistrate if he ruled against her as much as it would be embarrassing to her and shameful to Mickey but she would talk to Alec about it first because she didn't know how it would affect him if she just admitted it to a magistrate and not to him.  It had slowly dawned on her over the past week that her being married to Mickey was not a real marriage, that she already knew but a few nights with Alec had proved something else and she felt Alec knew what that was before she had just told him she wanted her first time with him, that it didn't mean quite that, it would be her first time full stop.

She must have closed her eyes again as she felt movement under her and an arm around her shoulder.  She shot up, looking at Alec directly.

''Hey, you're awake love,'' he smiled at her.
She was the one who was supposed to be waiting for him to wake up.  She moved in her chair and was almost sat on the bed, leaning over.

''Alec, hi, how do you feel?''

''Considering I died on you, fairly good.  I'm really sorry Rose and thank you for saving my life.  Come here and kiss me then I know I really made it.''

She leaned down and their lips touched, then they heard the curtain being pulled over from the other side.

''I thought I heard voices.  How are you feeling Alec?''

''Fine, when can I get out of here?''

Rose chastised him.  ''Alec, it's almost eleven at night, we're miles away from home and I've got no car.  Just stay in overnight and I'll get someone to come and pick us up first thing in the morning.  That's if I can stay here?''

''We can move him up to the ward.''

''No sense in disturbing anyone at this time, can't we just stay here?  I'll sleep in the chair, if you've got a more comfy one and we'll be out of your way in the morning. Has the surgeon been back?''

''He called in while you were asleep, he'll have someone check on Alec in the morning.  He didn't want to wake either of you and yes, you can stay here I suppose, I'll just check with the night sister but it should be ok.''

''If it helps, tell her we're both police officers and we insisted,'' Rose smiled.

The nurse went off and since she didn't come back in, they assumed it was ok as Rose slipped off her shoes and Alec moved over as far as he could, Rose just managing to lay on her side, Alec with his arm around her as she leaned over to kiss him.  Just after six the next morning, the nurse was about to go off duty and since they had been quiet all night, assume the DS had fallen asleep in the chair but smiled to herself to see the two of them curled up together.

After she woke them up and Rose apologised, Rose went to call for a taxi to take them home rather than call for a patrol car while Alec was getting discharged, being given some painkillers now they had worn off and where the pacemaker had been inserted was causing a bit of pain but he was told it would wear off in a few days.  So just after seven, they were on their way back to their rented caravan and Rose had to go face the chief.

Alec wanted to go with her.

''No Alec, you're staying right here, I can deal with it.  Just rest, either in bed or maybe out on the lounger but you need to take it easy.  I thought I'd lost you last night.''

He put his arms around her waist.  ''It takes more than that to get rid of me Tyler. You know that was Joe Miller last night?''

''Yeah and if you had died on me, I was going to charge him with your murder as well, for making you run after him.  I told you to leave it to us to chase whoever it was but no, you are so stubborn Alec Hardy.''

He kissed at her neck.  ''I may be Rose but I'm still here and I still love you darlin'. Just be careful, he's getting desperate now, after last night.  Maybe he was caught and he'll be waiting in the cell?''

''OK Columbo, I hope you're right.  I've just got time to make some tea and toast for you then I'll have to go face the chief.  You have the weekend off and you can see how you are on Monday.''

''I'll be fine by Monday, don't fuss love.  Are you going to tell her?''

''I have to, I can't lie to her, she'll check the hospital but if I tell her you're ok, she maybe will make you have a medical and you might have to cut your hours but we can manage for now, I'll get my housing allowance put on the caravan for now but maybe you'll still get it paid, it's cheaper than the hotel anyway.''

She kissed him then went to get his things for him, handing back his phones, wallet and his key, though she thought about keeping that so he wouldn't go anywhere but he just smiled and held out his hand for the keyring it was on, one with the Loch Ness monster on that Daisy had bought for him on a family trip to Scotland before he and Tess had split up.  Then he realised, he may have died and never seen his daughter again.  Now he had to contact her plus he wanted her to meet Rose, hopefully free of her marriage to Mickey the idiot.

Rose just had time to grab a coffee and some toast, kiss Alec goodbye and walked around to the station, hoping to catch Bob, if he was on duty.  She wanted to thank him for his help last night but if he had already reported to the chief, she may save explaining it herself but everyone would know she had called Alec by his first name, understandably considering he was lying on the ground but two officers had heard her call him 'love' and that wouldn't be so easy to explain.

She was half hoping as she walked in that the desk sergeant would tell her someone had been locked up last night and was waiting to be interviewed but she had no such luck.  He did call her over though.

''DS Tyler, is Hardy Ok?  I heard what happened last night.''

''He's fine, he's resting up, slipped and banged his head against a boat, trust him.  Is the chief in?''

''Yes Ma'am, she said to tell you she wants to see you as soon as you got in.  We didn't catch anyone last night but forensics are up there again, just in case.''

Rose just hoped she wouldn't have to explain how maybe hers and Alec's prints may be up there but Alec would cover that some other time.  She walked along to the chief's office and knocked.

''DS Tyler, how's Hardy?  Is he seriously hurt?''

''No Ma'am, he's fine, I made him stay off today.  Did you hear what happened?''

''Yes and I don't want the version from you that you told Bob to tell everyone else, though that can stand for now I suppose.  Out with it Rose, how bad was he?  Bob said he had no pulse at one point and you revived him before the ambulance arrived, well done.''

''I almost lost him.  I told him not to go chasing whoever was in the hut but he took no notice.  I'll be honest with you, he had a heart condition and before you fire me for not telling you, he was going to get something done about it as soon as this case is solved and I've only known about it less than a week.  I've been making sure he took his medication but last night, they took him for emergency surgery, they inserted a pacemaker or he would have died.''

The chief looked at her, she knew Rose and Hardy were living together but covering up his illness must have torn her apart, that and her impending divorce.  She should be mad at her detective sergeant and reprimand her but she must have had a rough night if Hardy had been in hospital.

''So they let him out, already?''

''Yeah, I had to vouch for him so I've made him stay at home.  I hear whoever it was up at the hut last night got away, I take full responsibility for it Ma'am, I stopped to give DI Hardy CPR and another officer assisted me.''

''Forget it Rose, I'm not putting the blame on anyone, except that stubborn man himself, how long did he think he would be able to hide it?''

''I don't know but since we've been together and he told me, I've been trying to get him to call the hospital but last night, he had no choice and I had to sign the consent form for them to operate.  He never thought about how I would feel if he didn't get himself fixed.  Still, you don't want to hear about that.''

''I do Rose but it will wait, we still have a killer to catch and you were close last night.  Have you got a trace on the missing phone?''

''Alec did, I'll have to get it sent to my phone now and if he comes in to work, he's in serious trouble from me.''

Elaine smiled and let Rose go to work.  She didn't have long to wait after she had the trace diverted to her work phone as she got a call and followed the signal, half expecting where it would lead her.  She had wanted to call Alec, go pick him up but he was in no fit state to arrest someone so she got a patrol car to take her and Frank. They had been right and pulled up outside the Miller home.  Ellie answered the door.  Alec was going to be furious but she had no choice, the chief had ended their conversations with the words he had to see the CMO on Monday before he could go back to work.

''Rose, what are you doing here?  Joe and Tom were interviewed yesterday, do you want to speak to me now?'' Ellie asked.

''No Ellie, were here to see Joe, we think.  Is he in?''

''He's out in the garden, in the shed fixing Tom's skateboard.  Why?''

''Can we come in and ask some questions?  Frank, would you go get Mr Miller from the shed please?''

She motioned for the two remaining officer to wait outside in case Joe Miller decided to climb over the garage roof or between the narrow gap and run off.  They were let in, Rose saw Tom with his younger brother in the front room watching cartoons as Ellie led them into the other room.

''Ellie, can we see Tom's phone please?''

''Sure.  Tom, come in here please and bring your phone,'' Ellie called back to her son.
The signal was still strong on Rose's phone as she looked at Tom's that was on the lock screen.  She turned to Ellie, who got the hint and showed her phone to Rose, hers was not in use either.

''Are there any more phones?''

Just then, Frank called from the back door, ''DS Tyler, you'd better come out here.''

An hour later, Rose had called Alec to take a walk to the station, she wanted him to be in on this, it wasn't fair he missed out when the case had almost killed him twice, once him dying in her arms.  She had arranged for the family liaison officer to take Ellie and the boys to a hotel just off the harbour and forensics were all over the house.  She had walked into the station, Joe Miller in handcuffs and those around her had stared in disbelief but as she got him to confess on tape that he strangled Danny Latimer that night to cover the fact he was having an affair with the young boy, Rose almost collapsed into Alec's arms as he was taken to the cell but had carried on.

They had gone up in the lift after being congratulated by the chief, telling Alec off for even being there and then saying he deserved to be in on it at the very end but Rose was to do all the work.  Rose had informed the press she would be making a statement later that day and they had been to see the Latimers, Alec looking a little pained but he wanted to be there as much as Rose did and he deserved it.

After reaching his office, which was to be hers until he was cleared for full duty, they were clapped and cheered by the team.  Alec decided to speak up.  Divorce or no divorce, he wasn't going to deny her the glory of bringing in the killer.

''Right everyone.  You all know what happened, DS Tyler has got a confession from Joe Miller and no-one is to leak this to the press until she makes a statement.  You probably know she's taking over for a few days, I expect you to co-operate fully with her until I come back and yes, I was taken ill last night but since I'm here, you haven't got rid of me just yet.  You might also have been speculating that there is something going on between DS Tyler and myself, well there is and yes, she is getting a divorce from her husband for those who knew she was married so no more taking bets.  Nothing has changed around here.  There is going to be a hole ripped in this town and it's going to be turned upside down and the last thing we want is the fact our private lives are of more importance that Danny's killer being caught.''

Alec dismissed them and went into his office, soon to be Rose's until he'd had a week's rest and cleared by the CMO, his only concession for getting back.  Rose closed the door behind them.

''Well done Tyler, you deserve to take all the credit.''

''No, we both take it and when I give the news statement, which you are going to write for me, I'm making it for both of us.  I'm going to arrange for Ellie and the boys to go to the other caravan park down the coast, being holed up in one room in a hotel isn't ideal and I don't think she'll want to stay so close to the town.  She didn't know Alec, I'm certain of that.''

''I know, you do what you think is best.  I'd better get back home, are you coming?''

It was now after two and she realised she hadn't stopped since getting there.  ''Maybe some lunch is due, I've got loads of paperwork to do.  Care to join me across the way?''

After lunch, she walked Alec back to the caravan, using the footpath at the side of the caravan park's supermarket that was almost level with theirs and kissing him goodbye, went to prepare the press statement.  She just hoped no-one would ask where Alec was and was glad when it was over and hoped they wouldn't get wind that Ellie had tried to attack her husband as he was being put into the police car saying she wanted to kill him.  Rose was assured by the CMO there was no permanent damage, just a few bruises but he had documented it just in case Joe Miller chose to make more of it.

The press conference over, she drove the short distance to the caravan and found Alec dozing in a lounger on the decking and kissed his cheek. He had put a thick dark blue jumper on, even for late August, it got a bit chilly being right on the harbour in the evenings.

''Hey love, how did it go?'' he greeted, grabbing her hand and pulling her onto his lap.

''Fine, did you see me on TV?''

''Yes I did and you were a natural, I only just came out here to get some air.  We have the whole weekend to ourselves now.''

''No we don't, remember?  I have to clear the house tomorrow.''

''Leave it love, you deserve a rest.  Let's eat and have an early night, you didn't get much sleep last night.''

''Mmm, I wonder why?  Curling up on the side of a hospital bed is not my idea of fun.''

''Are you still mad at me?''

She leaned down to kiss him.  ''No, you came back to me but you almost didn't.  You said you were scared of having the operation Alec but how do you think I felt when you stared at me with a blank expression and I thought you'd died on me?''

''I didn't though because you brought me back Rose and there is no way I could ever repay you for that, not ever except for me to say how much I love you and no matter what, if you don't get your divorce, I'll never leave you, we'll move away if we have to, you still have the separation order.''

''Alec did you hear what I said to you last night, before you went for surgery?''

''I thought I heard lots of things Rose, you telling me you loved me, me telling you I loved you, that you needed me to get through your divorce because I was the reason you were getting it.  Am I?''

She tried to move but he wouldn't let her.

''You gave me the courage to do it now, I would have done sooner or later but yes, you were the reason I went ahead with it when I did because I knew you wouldn't kiss me again if I didn't do something and I wanted you to.  Did you hear me saying anything else?''

''Only something about you wanted your first time with me,'' he smiled.  ''Do you really Rose?  You want us to have our first time together, we've only waited because I wasn't able to.''

''Yes Alec but I didn't just mean it like that.''

''What?  Are you being serious?  What about Mickey?''

She did get up this time and went inside, Alec followed and closed the patio door.

''Don't run away from me Rose, tell me the truth.  Did you and Mickey consummate your marriage?''

He went up to her and put his arms around her shoulders.  He already knew the answer, he had thought it was just her being shy with him but he should have guessed really, her reactions and the way she was so eager to be with him.

''You didn't did you?  Rose, that's grounds for divorce with no arguments, especially after over two years.  Go to the magistrate and tell him on Monday, he'll sign the papers there and then.''

''Alec, have you any idea what that involves?  I'll have to prove it which means we have to wait.  It's also embarrassing to admit to a magistrate.''

''Rose, it will be even more so for Mickey to have to admit he failed to perform his obligations as a husband, you have him, tell him to sign or you bring it all up in court.''
Chapter 16
They successfully managed not to talk about the subject for the rest of the evening, Alec was feeling tired after his night in hospital and still couldn't take it in that he had survived.  He knew Rose waiting by his bedside had given him the determination to fight back, that and the fact Rose had clearly said she wanted their first time together and now, as he had suspected, she really wanted her first time to be with him.  She was prepared to prove the fact to get her divorce, she must be reasonably sure she hadn't already but the fact she was abused by that other man was planting the seeds of doubt in his mind.

What if that brute had knocked her unconscious and violated her?  He shuddered to think of that happening but she had slowly told him of the abuse, the hitting and punching plus the mental abuse, things that would remain with her.  Though she had gone through it, she never flinched as she enjoyed him touching her so he had figured that at least Jimmy Stone hadn't violated her that way.  Maybe all the hitting was to cover up the fact he couldn't 'perform' and it was his way of showing it, taking it out on Rose.  She had been sixteen and knew no better, not having a father to rely on, how did she know all men were not the same?

They lay together when they got to bed after Rose cooked a simple meal for them and Rose prepared herself to confront Mickey the next day giving him the ultimatum, to sign or disclose he had been a failure.  She knew by the way Alec touched her that she had never had those feeling before but there were gaps in her memory from her time with Jimmy when she had woken up from when he had hit her.  Her mother had insisted on a full check-up when she was taken to hospital but it was never followed up since she had insisted she had complied and that it wasn't all about that.  She had rebelled against her mother, wanted to be out on her own and he had provided the means of escape.

The next morning, Rose made some breakfast and went out to the supermarket to get the local paper, seeing her own picture on the front page as the detective who found Danny's killer.  Alec smiled, not even being jealous but his name was also mentioned at Rose's insistence he had led the enquiry throughout.  She had also avoided revealing he had just escaped death, something Alec was more than grateful for.  He wanted to go with her to clear the house, something she didn't want to put off considering they wanted to go away the next weekend and she had arranged for a van to collect the donations she was making to the local charity furniture store.

Alec held out his arms around her as she was about to leave.

''Please love, let me come with you?  I should be there when you tell him.''

''No, I can do this on my own, I just put a killer away, I can face my husband Alec. I'm just worried now the case is over, the magistrate won't find so much of a hurry to sign, I don't want to resort to discussing Mickey's failure with him to get it, it was mainly to distance myself from Mickey being caught up in Danny's death and now, well he might make me wait to get Mickey to sign.''

''Well why don't you ask Mickey one more time and if he refuses, see what the magistrate says before you have to resort to telling him about Mickey?''

''Won't he find that a bit odd?  I mean, he either rules in Mickey's favour and makes me wait until he signs or he'll think I'm making it up and send me to prove it.  I'm sorry Alec but what if I'm wrong about it?''

She clung hold of him tightly and held her close.  ''You seemed fairly certain it wasn't with Mickey, was it the other one?''

''I don't know Alec, I really don't.  I used to pass out sometimes when he hit me but the times he did want me to have sex with him, it didn't seem to go well, he would just punch me and get out of bed.  I didn't know any better, my girl friends used to brag about their exploits and I just used to play along.''

''Rose, I'm sorry for what you had to go through, all I can say is it's all over now, I'd never hurt you.  So if Mickey won't divorce you, like I said, we'll go away and start again where no-one knows us.  I'm sure I can find someone else to take me on after I just redeemed myself, with some help of course.''

She reached up to kiss him.  ''You should have taken all the glory Alec, you deserved it.  I'm going to make sure everyone knows that you were injured during the chase the night before and that was the only thing preventing you giving the statement last night.  We'll stick to the story you bumped your head and needed hospital treatment if anyone asks.''

''That's my Rose, always thinking of someone else.  Well don't go easy on that husband of yours if you won't let me go with you eh?''

''Don't worry, I think just the threat of airing his marital failures will make him change his mind.  I'm surprised my mother hasn't rung again, even to congratulate me on catching a killer.  She would have done if not for Mickey, he doesn't realise what damage he's done.  I have to go now, I've loads to do and I don't know what I'm gonna do with all that stuff.  I think I'll bag it all up and give it to the charity shop, all the useless ornaments Mickey used to bring home and the kitchen stuff, I'll just throw it all in and let them take it when they come for the furniture.  Then I'll have to empty the fridge and freezer, I'm so not looking forward to this.''

Kissing him goodbye, Rose drove back to the house, calling to get some more boxes and a roll of bin bags and set about bagging the bedding to take to the laundry, not wanting to wait for it doing in the washing machine, then she gathered the clothes she had left behind and towels and things, leaving the remainder of Mickey's stuff. She looked around the bedroom, she couldn't truly say she had been happy there, it was just a house, the caravan she now shared with Alec seemed more like home now.  She heard a knock at the door and assumed it was Mickey since the charity van was coming later.  She left what she was doing and went to the kitchen door, Mickey was standing there.

''I've come for the rest of my stuff.  Good thing you arrested someone Rose, I almost lost my job.  So who was it?''

''You know I can't tell you that Mickey so don't bother even asking.  Get your stuff and go.  If you want any of those tacky ornaments you can take them or any of the kitchen stuff, the furniture's going to charity.''

''Yeah, well you wouldn't have room for that in that caravan you share with Hardy, would you?''

Rose wanted to slap him but restrained herself, she didn't want him to claim she had hit him, domestic violence was not her thing or Mickey's, his apparently was emotional.

''Well you'd know since you spied on me, who gave you the right to do that?  You hindered our investigation for your petty game Mickey, it's over, there isn't a cat in hell's chance I would ever go back to you, with or without Alec and turning my mother against me, that's low even coming from you.  She won't even talk to me without telling me to give you another chance.  If anyone's ended this marriage Mickey, it's you.  I'm going to give you until Monday morning to sign and file the papers with the court, then it's down to the magistrate to decide and I have something to tell him that will decide the matter for him, something you can't get out of.''

''Oh yeah?  What's that then?''

''You really don't know do you?''  She could tell he didn't.  ''Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise Mickey but you rather failed in the bedroom department and I can prove it.''

''What?  You mean you went with Hardy?''

''No, for your information we haven't crossed that line yet because I've been saving myself to have any test the magistrate orders for me to prove you and I never consummated our marriage.''

Mickey looked surprised to say the least.  ''We didn't?  Well I'm still not signing, you wouldn't dare go tell a magistrate that and I bet if it wasn't with me it was that Jimmy Stone or even Hardy, you're just saying it to get me to sign.''

''You are so childish Mickey Smith.  Then you wonder why I never took your name. Suit yourself, I'll go get a test done then now get your stuff and go.''

She wanted to call Alec and get him to come around after all, she felt like bursting into tears but she wasn't going to let Mickey have the satisfaction.  She started clearing the fridge of stuff that was almost out of date and then the freezer, there wasn't much left and nothing she would share with Alec so she just threw it away and then began throwing things in a box that could go to charity.  She never even noticed he had left until the van arrived to collect the furniture and Rose told them what they could take, the house had come part furnished and she got them to take the two double duvets and the boxes.

She drove back to the caravan and went to lay of the seating with Alec, who was watching an old film.

''Hey love, everything ok?''

She answered by crying into his shoulder.  ''He didn't believe I'd do it Alec, he still won't sign.  I'll wait to see what happens on Monday.''

''Never mind that love, come here.''

He got up and pulled the curtains over and the lay beside her, lifting her top and kissing her.  ''I'm feeling better now, what do you say?  Shall we give it a try?''

''I have to wait now because of that idiot.''

''Rose, it doesn't matter to me, you say it's true but I don't want you to have to go get a court order to have any tests, let's just leave it?''

''I want to be free Alec, I don't want to be branded that I'm cheating on my husband, no matter where we go and what about Joe Miller's hearing?  If he doesn't plead guilty and there's a trial, it will all get dragged out but if I'm divorced by then, it can't be dragged up if Mickey gets called as a witness.''

''I know what you're saying Rose, I really do but Joe Miller confessed.''

''I never told you Alec, Ellie attacked him when he was getting in the police car.  The CMO came to see him before you arrived.''

''Great. So he was in police custody when she attacked him?''

''Well yeah, I'd already arrested him on suspicion of Danny's death.''

''Well you had best hope he doesn't change his plea then.  What happened?''

''She rushed past me and started hitting and kicking him, saying she wanted to kill him, she was pretty upset and Frank had to pull her off.  We had to wait for forensics turning up and Pete from family liaison, I was asking her some questions when she broke loose and ran out.''

Alec ran his fingers through his hair and his beard, which was starting to grow back.  Maybe it wouldn't have been that different if he'd been there anyway, Rose wasn't to blame.  Little did he know that a friend of the Latimers had allowed Mark a visit to the cell last night, after they had been to tell the family who had killed their son and that he was seen on camera.

He knew Rose had got a solid confession though, she said he was standing in his garden shed holding the phone that was still switched on.  Forensics would prove only his and Danny's fingerprints were on it and he had already seen there were only two contacts in it.  What worried him more now was Miller changing his plea since his wife attacked him and the prospects of Mickey churning up his wife's affair.  He was guilty on that score and he was trying to convince Rose not to do the one thing that could gain her total freedom but he couldn't force her not to go ahead.

Was she willing to go that far?  Rose was snuggled in his side, kissing his neck and trying to tell him she wanted him to shave again but he had missed his beard, just a little.  After spending Sunday just taking a walk around the harbour and the Esplanade, they had lunch in the caravan park's bar and had a visit from Ellie, who had left her two boys with her nephew down in the caravan.  Ellie had called Rose as she and Alec were snuggling down semi-naked on the seating, both in just their underwear with a sheet covering them just in case.  They had hurriedly got dressed when Ellie had borrowed Olly's car after Rose told her where she was and Rose saying she had something to tell her when she got there.

Ellie knocked on the kitchen door of the caravan since Alec had not yet pulled the curtain back on the patio door.

''Hi Ellie, come in.  Did you get moved to the other caravan park?''

''Yes, thanks for that, the boys would have gone crazy in the hotel.  Pete said you had arranged it and thanks for not putting us in this one although your caravan's a bit larger, we just have a double and twin roomed one, the boys are sharing.''

She hadn't yet noticed Alec sitting in the corner, hidden by the kitchen partition.
''A bit large for one person Rose?''  Then she saw Alec.  ''Oh, you already had company, you should have said, my problems would have waited.  I know you told me you'd left Mickey but do you still have to work overtime?  What sort of boss are you then, making her work Sunday when she just caught my husband for Danny's murder?''

''Why are you really here Ellie?  I'm sorry it had to be him but he made his choices, he didn't have to strangle Danny, he was twelve years old and at the most, Joe would have been brought in and questioned, maybe had to be charged with something but now, he's going to have a criminal record and get locked up and Mark and Beth are having to bury their son.''

''Don't you think I know that Rose?  What does that make me?  The ex-detective who slept next to a murderer all this time and no, I'm not sorry I attacked him yesterday, I hope it hurt.  Are you going to arrest me for that?''

Rose shook her head and sat next to her.  ''No Ellie, you were angry, no-one could blame you for that.  You weren't to know and you can blame that idiot of a husband of mine for providing an alibi.  Did Joe say he was out with him?''

''Sometimes, the night Danny died, he said he was with Nigel and Mickey but he wasn't was he?''

''No, he asked Mickey to say he was with him and like an idiot, he agreed.   That's partly why I left but I'd already made my mind up before then and we suspected he was covering for Joe or Nigel but we got the truth out of Nigel, that left them two.  I suspected, rather we suspected Mickey was involved, at least covering for someone and I wanted to distance myself from him.''

''So you two, are you involved?''

Rose got up and sat by Alec, who now had a pair of black jeans and a grey t-shirt on and took his hand.

''You'll find out sooner or later and no, I didn't want to lock Mickey up for murder, I knew he wasn't capable but you probably didn't think Joe was either, it goes to show we never really know anyone.  Mickey won't sign the divorce papers, he's not letting go and moving on but he never was the type to give something up.  I'm just a possession to him, that's all and if he can't have me, no-one can.''

''I'll have to think about what I'm going to do now.  I'll have to go back to work, not here but once Joe's salary stops, I have to think about the boys.  Can you talk to your boss for me, maybe get me back in somewhere?''

''I'll try Ellie, we both will.  If you maybe move over to Devon, make a fresh start, it shouldn't take much to get you re-instated.''

''What am I going to do Rose?  I can't make sense of what he did.''

Alec spoke up for the first time, not really knowing the woman who had been Rose's friend.

''He said he can't make sense of it either, how are you supposed to understand it if he can't?  Go back to your boys, they're going to need you and tell Tom not to let it get to him, I didn't want to catch him out, that's not my style but he gave me no choice. I only wanted to bring Danny's killer in.''

''To make up for your last case?  I read the papers you know.''

Rose was surprised.  ''That's not fair Ellie and you know it.  That's got nothing to do with this.  Sandbrook almost killed him and so did this.''

''Leave it Rose,'' Alec requested, squeezing her hand.

''No Alec, you almost died on me the night before last because Joe couldn't face up to what he had done, in fact Ellie, he did die on me, in my arms until I revived him, chasing your husband.  Alec had a heart condition and he collapsed and if I'd not been there….''

She trailed off, got up and ran to their bedroom.  Ellie got up.

''I'm sorry, tell Rose I didn't mean to upset her and I'm sorry you almost died.  It's all so confusing.  It doesn't matter if you speak to the chief or not, I'll go see her myself tomorrow.  Are you going back to work?''

''I have to take a medical tomorrow and take some time off, Rose will be in charge, like she should have been before I took her job and lured her away from her husband.  I encouraged her because I fell in love with her when we met but we never did anything about it until she filed for divorce.  I'm sure she would have told you that had your husband not been a suspect.''

''I've only known Rose a few years, well not that well really, she was friends with Beth more than me, it was our husbands who were drinking mates.  Tell her I'm sorry Mickey got roped into it, maybe they'd still be together.''

''No, then she wouldn't be with me.  I don't know how much Rose wants you to know but she came to me with her problems and I was a bit too personal with her, I made her tell me and I made the first move.  Smith doesn't deserve her, she's just a trophy to him.  If you had a good marriage with your husband, would you have left him to have an affair and seek a divorce?''

''No, I suppose not.  What are you going to do if she doesn't get it?''

''Rose has a trick up her sleeve but I don't want her to play it unless she has to, it affects both of us.  I'll only let her use it if she really has to and then, I don't know how it will be between us, it could tear us apart.''

''It's that bad?  Must be some trick then if she's willing to sacrifice your new relationship.  If it's any consolation, she never looked happy with him and seeing you two together for ten minutes, that's the happiest I've seen her.  Make sure you stick by her will you?''

He got up and opened the patio door, Ellie followed him out.

''Wish our caravan was like this but thank Rose again for getting us out of the hotel, she was right, it's best I stay out of town even though not everyone knows yet, Mark and Beth won't be able to keep it quiet for long, then there's my nosey reporter of a nephew to keep quiet, he's only keeping back because of the boys, he's like a big brother to Tom and he needs that right now.  Nice to meet you properly Alec Hardy.''

''And you, Ellie Miller and don't let your husband drag you down with him, it's down to him to accept what he did.''

''I know but I'm having to face this alone, at least Rose has you and I meant it, she looked happy with you.''

Alec locked the door and checked the kitchen door and went into the bedroom.  Rose was sobbing quietly on the bed and he laid down beside her and turned her over to face him.

''Rose, we are getting through this, no matter what and I know you think bringing that up before the magistrate may destroy what we have together because of what it entails but I'm telling you now, Rose Tyler, I love you and when you get that divorce, I'm not going to pressure you into getting married again but when you are ready to think about it, I'd be honoured if you'd consider marrying me.''

Rose just looked at him.
Chapter 17
Had she just heard Alec right?  Maybe she had fallen asleep and was dreaming? They had only been serious for just over a week and he wanted to make plans, long term ones at that.  Her marriage to Mickey was a disaster of major proportions and there was no way she was going down that road again in a hurry, even if she did eventually get Mickey to sign or the magistrate was on her side.  Now there was very little chance of that, not now the threat of being associated with him as a suspect in a murder investigation had passed and the real killer been brought in.

What was going through Alec's mind?  He knew what she would have to go through to get her divorce, humiliation because that rat Mickey couldn't let go and now Alec was lying next to her, pressing his lips to her collarbone and unfastening the buttons of the top she had hastily thrown on when she had got Ellie's call.

''Rose, where were we earlier?  Do you want to continue or do you want to go out?''

It was now after six, Rose hadn't realised the time.  "Do you feel like going out for a while?  No dancing though and no shouting 'Bingo!' at the top of your voice and looking at me over your sexy rimless specs.  You do know I have a hard time keeping my hands off you when you're wearing them?''

Alec chuckled.  ''Really?  I should wear them more often then?  Just say the word darlin' and I'd wear them all the time to please you.  We still have an hour before they start selling bingo tickets you know?''

Rose smiled.  How could she not love him?  He had risked everything to be with her including getting one of them taken off the case and had ignored her warning to stay back and let her do all the chasing but his instincts had taken over when he had seen her running off she expected and he must have found it difficult to let her run off after the killer despite other officers being with her.  He had been willing despite his illness to protect her and it had almost cost him his life.  Now he was talking about waiting for her.  How long would she keep him waiting?

''Mmm, an hour you say?  We're wasting time then and tomorrow, if the ruling goes against me, we'll talk again before I do anything because I know it's going to affect you as well.  I'm really surprised that didn't get Mickey to give in and sign, there must be something wrong with him and why hasn't he gone to the magistrate himself and dragged you into it since he knows about us?''

''Forget it Rose, just for tonight eh?  I do feel better and I know you want to wait but when we get back, let's pick up where we left off the other night and be as close as we can.  What do you say?''

They managed to get to the club before it was time for bingo, Rose won again and the quiz though Alec said they were cheating since most of the answers were the same as last week and when they got back, Rose allowed him to find out what a good job had been done on his pacemaker.  He was just lying above her and looked at her in the dim light.

''Rose, I do feel different now, a big difference and it's time I started proving it to you once we get the question of your divorce out of the way and any tests you have to take so Rose, we'll wait until then, I promise but it won't change the way I feel about you whatever happens and if you want to tell the magistrate tomorrow, at least let me come with you, as your boss.  No-one need know about us.  You didn't tell him you wanted to be with someone else did you?''

''No, of course not, I wouldn't do that and I wouldn't say it was you even if I had.  It's not a good idea to come with me, Mickey may still turn up with the signed papers but if he doesn't, I'll hold off for now and wait to get a decision, I doubt he'll see me without an appointment, the court clerk will call me.''

''Well while you go there, I'll go have my medical and clear my desk for you, see how long I really have to stay off.  Maybe I could just work as a consultant?''

''If it keeps you out of trouble but I'm still in charge, got that?''

''Yes love, I get it now are we going to talk all night or am I going to rid you of the last of your underwear?''

The next morning, Alec went off to face his medical and Rose said she needed time for a personal matter and went to the Town Hall.  The clerk behind the desk figured she was really getting desperate now but congratulated her on catching Danny's killer.

''DS Tyler, well done.  Are you here to see the magistrate?''

''Will he be able to see me without an appointment?''

''I'll see if he's free for you, can you wait?''

Rose nodded and went to sit down.  She got a call from Alec.

''Hey babe, how's it going?''

''Ok, the CMO says I need a week off but can do light duties if the chief agrees.  I'm just going to see her.  How are you getting on?''

''Waiting to see the magistrate.''

''Do you want me to come over love?''

''Nah, I'll live.  Don't get any ideas about taking your office back.''

''Wouldn't dream of it, you deserve it, even if it is only for a week or so.  I told you, whatever happens today, we'll get by, we'll make it work.''

The court clerk was waving her over.  ''I have to go, the magistrate will see me now.''

''Good luck darlin' tell him, if you have to.''

She came out more disappointed than when she went in.  The magistrate had already made his decision.

''DS Tyler, please understand, this has been a difficult decision to make on both your behalves and not one I've easily reached.  I would have had someone contact you tomorrow anyway but I'm afraid I can't rule in your favour.  It has only been a week since your divorce petition was filed, I need you to give him time to sign or a reconciliation.  I'm sorry but now you have solved the case and I take it that it wasn't your husband you arrested then the concerns you have had somewhat dissipated unless you have actually charged him with something?''

''Only with impeding a police murder enquiry and providing a false alibi, I wish I could have charged him with stupidity because his persistence of not signing the divorce papers led him to providing someone with an alibi for the night of Danny Latimer's death and set us back.  If he hadn't been so stubborn to accept our marriage is over, we would have made an arrest earlier.  He was just getting back at me for leaving.''

''Yes, well, I'm sorry about that but you are to be congratulated on the killer being caught but I'm afraid you'll just have to give your husband time to sign.  You have your separation order.  Is there any other reason you may still want to still rush this through?  Do you suspect your husband is having an affair?  If so, you both need to get a good divorce lawyer.  Perhaps you have a reason yourself if you are already involved with someone else?''

Rose hadn't discussed that with Alec, admitting she was the one having the affair but a divorce lawyer would be expensive and unnecessary, she would just be able to afford one but Mickey wouldn't unless he got legal aid and did she want to drag Alec's name into it?

There was only one thing to do.  ''Your Honour, what if I could prove my marriage was never consummated?''

''That's a very bold statement Mrs Smith, do you know what that entails?  The tests to prove it are very intrusive and rare after two years of marriage, usually, one party comes forward after a few weeks or a few months and the marriage can be dissolved on those grounds but it has been two years, why would you say that now?''

''I just want to be free again, I explained I was talked into it and up until now, I never really thought about it.  I have a friend who's been helping me through this, a close friend whom I don't wish to name.  That's all he is though, now I realise I want more with him, I don't want a reconciliation with my husband and before I filed for divorce, I wasn't involved with anyone, I made my own mind up.''

''So you are wanting your freedom to pursue someone else?  I'm sorry but even if I were to order you prove to me the marriage was never consummated, the tests are expensive and delicate and I wouldn't want you to have to submit to it in order to gain your freedom in such a hurry.  All I can do is rule that if in six months time, your husband has still not signed or come to me himself to plead his case then I will look again into granting your divorce.  If you both wanted it then I would sign but that just is not the case.  Take my advice and don't do anything drastic to get him to sign, it can become very bitter and cause more heartache than you already seem to have, even with someone by your side.  It seems you don't want your friend involved in the case so it is best it stays that way unless it becomes no choice.''

Rose wanted to crawl into a hole.  She wished she had let Alec come with her now but he was holding the fort until she got back so all she could do was agree to wait six months.

''Thank you Your Honour, I'm sure it was difficult for you to decide our fates.  I'll try not to have myself brought before you for any domestic disturbances.  It will be difficult but what you're asking is not impossible, my friend will stick by me and I do have the separation order, thank you for that.   In other circumstances, I probably would have just waited until my husband got tired and signed but I'm not going to make it easy for him, the only way he'll have it easy is if he goes back to London.''

''You have my sympathy, I know it can't be easy for you if you are determined you don't want to go back to your husband, especially if like you say you were more or less pressed into it but you signed the marriage certificate and it's just not as easy as it is made out to be to get out of it, too much time had passed for an annulment.  I hope that in six months time, I'll be able to sign it off for you, with or without your husband's consent.  I will mark it on my calendar to review your situation and inform you of my decision if your husband has not contacted me.''

Rose left the magistrate's office after thanking him for his time and drove the short distance to the station.  Alec was sitting behind his old desk waiting for her, the chief had already told him off twice but he said he wasn't leaving until Rose got back and said she was seeing about her divorce.  He had challenged her to kick him out for just sitting there waiting for his girlfriend to come back and officially, he hadn't handed over to her yet.  Elaine just smiled to herself and left him to it.

Rose walked up to the squad room and got a few looks when she entered what was to be her temporary office and Alec looked up, getting up as Rose closed the door and pulled down all the blinds, which normally remained open.  He crossed over to her as she leaned on the door after she pulled down the roller blind and put his arms around her, kissing the top of her head.

''I take it that you didn't get the ruling in your favour then?''

Rose looked up, her head buried in his shoulder.  ''I have to give Mickey another six months to sign or make an appeal then if not, the magistrate will look at it again and if Mickey doesn't make a move, he'll sign.''

''We'll manage love, I told you we would, it's not like he said no.  It may take that time to get Joe Miller's case to court anyway, he's been remanded, Elaine told me earlier while the CPS prepares the case and gathers all the evidence, that could take months, there are a lot of other cases waiting to be tried then there will be a hearing for him to make his plea and since he already confessed, it should be open and closed again.  Then everyone can go back to some sort of normality.''

''I know.  I got asked if I was involved with someone but I never gave your name.''

''It's ok Rose because from now on, we are not hiding this, ok?  I don't care who knows now, it's different and if it's shameful to Mickey that he can't keep his wife, then so be it.  I know how it feels to be on that end Rose and all I wanted to do was get out when they stopped hiding and everyone knew so I just signed the papers and left. Hopefully, he'll have it made clear to him and he'll sign rather than face everyone. I don't care who you tell Rose, don't hide me.  Promise?''

''I promise.  I love you Alec.  I asked, about taking a test but he wasn't keen on me going down that route, he says proving it to get a divorce in six months anyway wasn't worth what I'd have to go through.''

''Aye, I wouldn't really want you to go through it love, not just for the sake of it. We'll try the other approach of not hiding and see how he takes it.  You need to call your mother, tell her you are not backing down and that we are living together. Now I had better go before I really do get thrown out of here.  I officially hand over to you, DI Tyler, you've earned it.''

Rose smiled and kissed him.  ''Then get out of my office Hardy, I've been waiting ages to say that.''

''Just as long as you don't call me Columbo.  I'll go back and I'll book the ferry for Friday afternoon to Jersey and a hotel for a couple of nights in what's it called?  The capital?''

Rose laughed.  ''You don't even know the capital of Jersey?  No wonder you didn't know what the capital of Croatia was.''

He sounded indignant.  ''Do you?  That ferry had better not hit any heavy seas on the way over or I'll be spending the time locked in the rest room hanging on or by the life rafts.  I'm taking a big risk for you undertaking such a long journey and I'm not watching 'Titanic' before we set off either.  I hope it's going to be worth it darlin'?''

He put his arms back around her.  ''Yeah, it'll be worth it now get out of here before the ferry is all booked up, ok?  Get the fast sailing if we can take the car.''

''Do you want to take the car?  We could hire one when we get there if it saves time?''

''I expect you'll want to drive anyway and you don't seem to like my car much.''

''You never let me drive it and besides, if we hire one, we won't stick out as tourists. I'll check when I get back, I'll take your laptop into the bar and use their free wi-fi. I'll see you at home then?  Maybe I'll look up somewhere to rent as well, what do you think?''

''That I'm in no hurry to move yet, let's find something we both like yeah?''

''Anything you want.  Call me when you're going to lunch and I'll order something for you at the bar.''

They kissed goodbye and Alec got a few funny looks when Rose raised the blind on the door but he thought they had been warned and they had better get used to it whether they liked it or not, he wasn't seeking their approval.

The rest of the week went smoothly, Alec booked them two passenger tickets to St Helier on the fast ferry which took over three hours but faster than the conventional one and he was grateful they only had to travel to Weymouth and leave the car rather than travel further down to Poole and wondered what would happen if the ferry company decided to pull out and people had to travel further, no-one would be happy with that arrangement if they ever did.

They set off on Friday afternoon and got parked near the ferry terminal that offered long stay parking for such purposes and got on board.  Alec was amazed he didn't feel faint even stepping on board like he used to, maybe his heart condition had been the main cause but having Rose there helped.  They had taken their passports so they could take a trip over to Brittany on Sunday and Monday they would go take a walk around the island of Sark for a few hours before setting off back on the evening ferry to Weymouth.  They had decided just to hire a car when they got there, Alec pre-booked it so it was waiting for them but they were soon driving around the island after they got there, stopping at a pub near the lighthouse and having their evening meal.  They looked out as the sun was going down, Alec told Rose how much he loved her.

''Rose, let's decide if you are going to take that test or not?  I need to know love, please.  You said you wanted our first time together?''

He was holding her from behind, his arms around her waist and turned her around.

''If you can wait for me to get my divorce without resorting to that then yes Alec, I want my first time, not just with you but you'll have to take precautions.''

''I thought you did?''

''I do but just not at present, if you want to do this, it's this weekend or you'll have to wait a bit longer.''

''Oh, I never realised.  Yes, ok, tomorrow I'll go get something, if you can wait that long?''

Rose smiled.  ''Ok Mr impatient, tomorrow night it is then?''

Alec tried to look serious but his beaming smile said otherwise.  ''Or maybe we can wait until afterwards?  Have out first time properly, not something getting in the way?''

''Get something tomorrow and we'll see what happens, yeah?''

He decided he could live with that and he wasn't going to be disappointed and neither was Rose as the following night after touring the island and going to the zoo for the afternoon then driving back to their holiday accommodation, they had dinner and a walk around the harbour and sat watching the boats until it was dusk.  Rose got ready for bed and Alec sat watching her from his vantage point propped up on the pillows, as Rose undressed to her underwear and slipping on a thin silky nightdress, climbed into bed.  By the time they had finished kissing, Alec offered to make use of his purchase but Rose whispered for him to forget it, they would take the risk, she wanted the night to be special and it was, they thought it was more than special.

''I hope you weren't disappointed Rose, that it was worth waiting for?''

''Yes Alec, it was worth it, I was a bit scared, I hope it didn't show?''

''Oh no Rose, I expected you to be a little scared but it was really special, you did everything right.''

They fell asleep in each other's arms and to say just over a week ago Alec had just about died on her, they were both happy and Rose said they would live with the consequences of their actions but it was a 50/50 chance they had both been ready to take for one night truly together.  The next morning, they arrived at the ferry port and joined the day trip to Brittany, a coach was waiting to take them around for the day though Alec found it a bit cramped and got some funny looks when he had to stretch out his long legs, making Rose smile and squeeze his hand.

The time came for them to leave, handing back the hire car at the ferry port and Alec carrying their bags onto the ferry back to Weymouth.  Rose drove them back to Broadchurch since he had been driving all the weekend and never complained when she said she was going to be out of commission for a few days but he was content with them snuggling together when they got to bed and he hoped they hadn't been too hasty to cement their relationship so close to her monthly.  He would have waited but she had been just as insistent as he had been that night.
Now he had two things over Mickey Smith, one was his wife and the other, the part of her she had never been able to give her husband.
Chapter 18
Six months had passed since Rose and Alec spent their first weekend away as a couple and she had not got away with it during their first time together.  It was the end of February, Danny Latimer had been laid to rest, his family had closure thanks to them and Rose was about to find out if the magistrate at Broadchurch Town Hall had made his decision but if she had to go face him in person, he might be misled into thinking she'd reconciled with her husband, she was six months pregnant and Joe Miller's hearing was at the beginning of March.

Rose was hoping that she would be free of her marriage to Mickey just in case the worst happened and the guilty party changed his plea.  Neither she nor Alec were aware things were plotting against them in that respect.  They had both been looking forward to Rose's second scan just hours before she was to be informed by the clerk at the Magistrate's if the ruling had gone in her favour and the papers were finally signed and sealed.

She knew Mickey had gone back to London, her mother had made sure of that, saying she was having to rent Rose's old room out to him while he got a place of his own.  Jackie hadn't been kind to her, causing Rose to cry herself to sleep in Alec's arms the night she had told her that she was pregnant with his child when she had told her that they were together and no longer hiding it.  Rose was also due to give up working full time and just do a few hours a day for another six weeks, the court case of Joe Miller permitting and if not, she was going on maternity leave if there was going to be a trial, which they were all hoping was not going to take place.

Both Rose and Alec had been pleased at Rose's suggestion that Ellie Miller take her place, Ellie had been taken back in the Exeter traffic division and she had hated every moment.  There were people who were not happy with the arrangement but they would have to get over it so the morning Rose was to get a decision, Alec decided to take the morning off since she was going back for a scan anyway and they were debating to find out what the baby was going to be, having declined the last time.

''Come on Rose, we have to get going soon.  So are we going to find out or not?''

''I know you want a boy, don't you?''

He stepped up beside her as she looked in the wardrobe mirror, they were still in their caravan but time was running out for them to find a place they could both walk in to and say they wanted to live there.  Either Rose didn't like the kitchen layout or Alec hated the pink bathroom suite or the fact the garden was a mess, they decided to keep them both calm by staying where they were, which pleased the caravan park's manager since it wasn't open for new bookings and they were making money on it instead of it being empty.

There were still some residents on site up on the top road, privately owned ones with fancier decking than theirs and some had fencing around and made them look like bungalows rather than caravans.  The park had security at night and now, access was restricted but the bar was open which meant they could still go out without going to the pub and they could still eat out when they chose to.

''Rose, I don't mind, really love but it just means we know what to buy.  With you going on maternity pay, we can't buy things we don't need and I know there are lots of things that will do for either but think, you could be buying all those cute little girl outfits if you knew.''

Rose turned to him, getting as close as she could.  ''Yeah, I could but maybe not right away, just pink babygros and outfits for this weather, I'm sure she'll grow as tall as you.''

Alec chuckled into her neck.  ''Well I hope she doesn't look like me, now there's a terrifying thought.  Don't forget, it's your last full day, Ellie Miller comes in this morning for you to spend some time with her.  She had better not be as bossy as you are.''

''I'm not bossy, I just like to keep you in line, Columbo.  Come on then let's find out what this baby is going to be and no flower names if it's a girl, Daisy won't be pleased if we do, she thought it was bad enough you had chosen me as your girlfriend.  I hope we don't have to go to a trial, I was looking forward to her coming down during the Easter holiday, it was a shame she couldn't come last week, maybe you should have gone up for her?''

''She wasn't ready to spend a week with us yet, she'll get used to us being together. Maybe we can go up for the weekend when we have to go to Exeter but the long Easter weekend, Friday until Monday will just be enough and we might have found ourselves another place by then.  I'll check on the agency websites again, something new may have come in, even if we have to buy a few things.''

''Ok, come on then, let's get this over with then I may get a call from the court.  I hope I don't miss it.''

''I'm sure they will call back love, this scan is just as important.''

Just over an hour later, they were being handed a photo of the baby, a girl, it was confirmed.  They had just got out to the car to go to the station when Rose's phone rang.  It was Mickey.  Rose's own heart stopped.  Alec saw and took the phone from her and answered it.

''Smith, what do you want after all this time?''

''Is Rose there?''

''She doesn't want to talk to you, don't you think you've done enough to her by having her go through waiting six months for a magistrate to make the decision you're not man enough to make?''

''I'm not talking to you Hardy.  I know the magistrate makes his decision today, I was informed a few days ago though Rose could have at least told me.''

''Well you went off back to London, turning her mother against her when Rose needed her.  Why should she tell you anyway?  There was nothing stopping you from going there yourself.''

''What makes you think I didn't?  What makes you so clever, Mr detective inspector?''

''Where do I start Smith?  She told you the magistrate was going to decide for you when she asked you to sign, you've had six months or more, you did nothing.  I rest my case.''

''Huh?  Who says I'm not man enough Hardy?  I didn't want her to leave, she didn't give me a choice.''

''I'm not having this conversation with you Smith.  It will all be over in a few hours and as for you not being a man and running away when it got all over town we were together, you could have ended it.  In case you forgot, I'm the one who got her pregnant.''

Alec hung up and handed the phone back to Rose.

''Why do you let him get to you Alec?''

''He just does, geez Rose, whatever did you see in him?''

''We've already been through that Alec, I wasn't lucky enough to know you back then, was I?  Besides that, you were already married.''

''I was getting my divorce, well rather Tess was.  Just think Rose, if I had been down here then, we could have met.''

''I was still in London, remember?''

''Yes but you'd just got married, it would have been easier for you to get a divorce then.  Keep your fingers crossed love, the call should come soon, it's nearly eleven.''

Alec drove them back to the station where Ellie was waiting for them.

''Thought you two had got lost,'' Ellie greeted them as she followed them into Alec's office.

Alec had already started calling her 'Miller' which had made Ellie and Rose roll their eyes and laugh.  Rose had told her not to take it personally and he still called her 'Tyler' even at home and she, six months pregnant with his baby.

''It's gonna be a girl Ellie, we got the scan photo, here.''

She got the photo out of her shoulder bag and handed it over, surprised she had been able to retain it and Alec hadn't already got a frame for it, which she knew he would later.

''I remember getting my scan photos, we were so happy then.  Sorry you two, don't mind me.''

Rose went to sit beside her friend on the leather sofa as Alec watched his partner. She was incredible, she always knew what to say despite probably being jealous of her friend already getting her divorce since her ex husband was in prison for killing a young boy.  He wondered how Rose had managed to keep it all together since Ellie got the papers and had been amazed Joe Miller hadn't even had to sign.  He wished now he had been able to charge Mickey with something other than being stupid enough to provide the killer with an alibi.

''Sorry Ellie, I should have known better, it's just we're so excited over this since we didn't want to find out last time and we came to our senses about it.  It was all Alec could do to not request a second photo.''  She grinned at her partner, who was looking over at her.

''Who says I didn't?  I could go back and get one.''

''Well congratulations to you both.  Maybe you'll have some more good news soon? Listen Rose, I know it's a difficult day as well as a happy one, don't be too upset if you get turned down, I didn't think I'd get mine so soon but I suppose my circumstances were different.  You think when you get married it should be forever and it should but you never know what's going to happen.  How could I remain married to a killer?''

''I know but you did love Joe when you got married, I didn't know if I loved Mickey or not, I just went with it.  I don't like talking about it Ellie but I let myself get talked into it, I didn't know what I was doing.''

''It's ok Rose, you don't have to explain it to me, if you didn't love him, then you didn't love him but you entered into it blindfolded, you shouldn't have to suffer for it.  They always say you should stick by your husband or wife no matter what they have done but I have my boys to think about, Tom barely speaks to me even though he's come back home, he just locks himself away in his room and he's always getting into fights since we came back, we would have done better staying in Exeter, at least the kids didn't know him there.''

''I'll go speak to his teachers Miller, tell them to keep a close eye on him and I could talk to Tom for you.''

''Maybe not Alec, I should talk to him, I was at his house, I arrested his father, he should be taking it out on me,'' Rose interrupted.

''No Rose, you were just doing your job, he could have repeated what he did if you hadn't stopped him,'' Ellie replied.

''Well Rose, show Miller what you have been working on and let's all get back to work shall we?''  Alec suggested before he had two crying women in his office.

Rose he could cope with after what they had gone through but Miller was a different matter altogether.  The job, or rather him taking Rose's job had been what had got them together in the first place, that afternoon up in the hut when he had first kissed Rose after demonstrating how Danny Latimer may have been strangled, not the most romantic way of making advances towards your married (although unhappily) DS but it had worked and now, just over six months later, she was going to have his child.

He got up to help Rose off the sofa, something he was used to these days, after she was told to let herself be helped up off chairs, sofas and most of all, out of bed, something Alec enjoyed although it took a bit longer than was necessary when she would pull him down on her side and snog the life out of him before reluctantly allowing him to gently help her out.

After giving her a kiss on the cheek, something the rest of the office had got used to and now ignored, not that they showed each other much affection at work, Rose went through the open cases with Ellie and was waiting anxiously for an important phone call.  She still hadn't received it when they all went out for lunch and Rose was getting worried.  Alec held her hand as they waited in the café just in front of the station, not wanting to go all the way over to the harbour one and it was too cold to sit across the road even though one of the catering stalls was already open, it was late February, the weather was sunny but still chilly and there were a few visitors around.

Their lunch had just arrived when Rose's mobile rang and Alec squeezed her hand.

 ''Go on love, I have a good feeling about this.''

Rose answered and listened to the caller, ending with a "Thank you for letting me know.''

Alec was dying to hear the other end of the one-sided conversation but Rose remained solemn faced which could be interpreted as either good or bad.  Either it was bad news or it hadn't sunk in she was finally free as he took the phone from her.

''Well, did you get a decision Rose?''

''Yeah, sorry, it's over Alec, the magistrate is signing the papers.  I can't believe it. The clerk said I'll be able to pick them up later today, before the office closes or have them sent to me.  A copy is being sent to Mickey, once I give them his current address.  He did nothing Alec, he just left it, he never objected or went to plead his side of the story, I told you he never really cared, I was just a possession to him. Maybe he did it for the right reasons, who knows?''

''I'm so pleased Rose, it's not before time,'' Ellie butted in, seeing they really wanted to be alone but they had all sat down together.

This was Rose's last full day, she was going to start part-time from next week.

''Thanks Ellie.  Will you be ok if I skip off after lunch?''

She didn't know that a surprise had been arranged for her before she left for the day.

''Maybe you'd just best go back to get your things since Ellie is taking over your desk love?'' Alec suggested, having been let in on it.

''Ok then, just for a while, I want to get up to the Town Hall before it closes though, it's best I go on my own, I'll get a taxi.''

''No, I'm going with you, even if I have to wait outside.''

They finished lunch and Rose had to go to personnel to sort out her new working hours and got a surprise.  The CS had intervened and suggested Rose take early maternity leave and she didn't have to go back if she didn't want to and if she did, she could choose her own hours and still get full pay for another six weeks.  She said she would talk to Alec about it but she knew his feelings on that and considering the hearing was coming up, she may as well take advantage of it.

Alec was all for it as they got into the car to go to the Town Hall, Rose coming out with the signed divorce papers firmly in her hand.  The clerk recognised her and she could no longer hide her baby bump and got a look for him but he never said anything as he put the signed papers into a brown envelope, Rose giving her mother's address in London as Mickey's current one.  She figured if he had moved out, Jackie may not forward it to him but even her mother could no longer deny the marriage was well and truly over.

Now all that remained was to decide where she and Alec went after all this.  He was the one who stuck beside her throughout all this, albeit he was partly responsible for her present condition.  He kissed her cheek as he got out of to help her back in the car and made sure the padding for the seat belt was over her tummy.

''So, are you going to take advantage of not having to go to work any more?'' Alec asked her as he drove back towards the station.

''I think I may go crazy staying in all day.  Maybe I could just come in a few hours and share your office?''

''Sounds good to me love, maybe you could just come in a few days a week, not every day?''

''I'll see how I feel.  It's only another week until the hearing.  I just hope it turns into nothing else.''

''So does everyone else. I just need to go back to my office for a few minutes, coming?''

He knew Ellie was setting something up.  The office and some of the other staff who knew Rose had all collected and were getting a stroller that converted to a baby seat for the car and a crib that would last until the baby was around nine or ten months and would save them buying one and hopefully they would be moved anyway by the time the baby came along though if they kept falling out over kitchens and bathrooms, they may still be in the caravan that had been their home for over six months.

''Are you coming in love?'' he asked as he pulled up in the car park behind the station.

''Ok but it's such a pain getting out of the car.''

''I won't be long and I don't like leaving you in the car park.''

They took the lift up to Alec's office, he taking the chance to send Ellie the five minute warning that Rose was on her way.  She had gone off to get the things from the superstore down in Dorchester earlier on some pretence she had an errand to run.  Rose's face as they walked in was a picture.  They had put the crib and stroller up outside Alec's office and everyone clapped as they went in.

Ellie went up and gave her a hug, as did the other women and Ellie handed her a card signed by them all.

''We had to do this in a hurry you know, we though we'd have another six weeks.''

''Well I'll be popping in for a few hours for a while, just to annoy him,'' Rose laughed, nodding to Alec.

A voice called out ''Well someone has to'' from the back and Alec frowned, getting him a nudge from Rose.

''Don't you go back to being a grump when I'm not around, Sir,'' she joked.

''I'll make sure of that, don't worry,'' Ellie laughed.

''Huh, who says I'm a grump when you're not around?''

He got a few stares back as Rose smiled and gave him a hug as she thanked everyone for the gifts.  Alec wondered where they were going to keep them for another three months but Ellie had a solution saying she had room for them in her loft for which they were grateful.  So taking the crib off it's stand, she helped Alec carry everything down to the car and they stopped by her house.  They had already cleared the spare room in the caravan and were storing things in Ellie's garage, she said she didn't mind since now Alec's daughter was at least talking to him and they had seen her just before Christmas, they needed the room if she decided to visit.

''Thanks again Ellie,'' Rose said as Ellie and Alec got everything out.

''It's fine really, no point in you paying to have it stored. I would have waited but everyone wanted to be there to show you what we'd bought.''

The baby goods stored in the loft, Ellie had to go back to pick up young Fred and Tom from their aunt's house, Ellie was now paying her sister to pick up Fred from nursery and Tom made his way there after school, Olly collecting him in view of the bullies who had been Danny's friends and wanted to take it out on him.  Alec was going to keep his word next week and pay a visit to the school and get them all in the assembly hall and give the pupils a lecture on forgiveness and not to blame it on Tom, how did they think the poor boy felt about it?

They got back to the caravan and as expected, Rose got a call from her mother in view of Mickey's call earlier.

''Rose, I'm very disappointed. Mickey got a call to say your divorce has been granted.  How can they do that without him signing?''

''You know that Mum, I said the magistrate would decide, Mickey's done nothing to make him decide not to sign.  I was told six months it would be looked at again and it was.  It's over.  Can't you forget about it?  I need you Mum, I have the baby in three months.''

''Why did you go to someone else for that?  You said your career was too important to give up to have a family.''

''I said no such thing.  What lies has Mickey been telling you?  We never even talked about it.  I'm not having this discussion with you, I'm done.  If you're interested, it's going to be a girl and I'd like for her to know her grandmother but that's up to you now.  Either stay on Mickey's side or be on mine but while ever he's there turning you against me, you're gonna be missing out.  Can't you see it Mum?  He never used to be like that but he's turned us against each other, after he couldn't get me to marry him on his own, he used you.  Just think about it, call me when you decide whose side you're really on.''
Chapter 19
A/N:This chapter will only cover parts of the trial concerning Rose and Alec's affair during the investigation.  Also, it is the prosecution that makes the suggestion they had been having an affair, the defence then takes advantage of it to suggest an alternate killer.

Now the divorce was behind them, they spent the weekend and the beginning of the following week preparing for the upcoming hearing of Joe Miller.  Alec went to face the pupils at Tom's school, saying the boy needed their support, not their bullying, he was as much a victim of his father as Danny had been, his father had let him down and left him and a few days later, Rose and Alec collected Ellie and they all drove over to the court together, Alec saying there was no sense in taking two cars.

Ellie spoke up.  ''Thanks for talking to Tom's school, he came home on his own last night and said things had been better and he didn't run off to his room.''

''Good, he needs his friends.  When we get there, the press will be waiting, don't talk to them, either of you.  They'll be after the Latimers but you especially Ellie and Rose may be of interest if they find out about us, especially in her present condition. Who knows if divorces are of public interest?  You didn't mention it to your nephew did you?''

''Are you kidding?  You two are my friends and he might be my nephew but he's a reporter above all, I wouldn't talk to him about my boss and his girlfriend's private lives.  Maybe word may have already got out though, if it has, I'm not responsible for it.''

''Don't worry Ellie, you can't help it if anyone finds out, everyone's seen us out together, it's not like we were hiding it any more.  Looks like you were right Alec, the vultures are here already.''

Rose pointed to a group of reporters on the paved area by the parking bays.  Alec found a spot near the entrance, putting his police sign on the dashboard and going round to help Rose out once he had switched off the engine.  Ellie was in battle mode, ready to fend off any reporters that strayed her way.  Alec put his arm around Rose and escorted her towards the entrance, Ellie on the other side of Rose.  A few tried taking photos of them but Alec held up his badge and shielded Rose's face from the cameras.  Once inside the building, Alec located where the case was being held and hoped the CPS had done everything they could to secure a conviction.

He had been informed Joe Miller had legal council, who would surely advise him to plead guilty since evidence was overwhelming, plus his confession to Rose upon his arrest.  It seemed most of those concerned that Joe Miller was about to be locked up for a long time were already there.  Nigel Carter was looking daggers at Rose and Alec, having learned they were together and since Mickey had been his mate and the detectives had given him a police record, wasn't pleased to see them but kept his distance.

Rose was amused to see Becca Fisher getting cosy with Paul Coates over on the seating area and wondered how long that had been going on, she and Alec had been so wrapped up in each other and the baby and since her now ex husband no longer went in The Traders, it could have been a while by the look of it.  She nudged Ellie and pointed and Ellie asked where she had been for the last three months and had she been on another planet or too busy shagging her boyfriend and Rose must be the only person in town who didn't know about the local vicar and the hotel owner.

Alec pretended he wasn't interested, considering the vicar's treatment of him over Jack Marshall and figured the two deserved each other.  They were all called into courtroom number 2 and Alec allowed Rose in first but then realised she would be seated right next to where Joe Miller would be placed and hastily swapped places. Ellie smiled weakly at him, thankful she didn't have to sit next to her ex husband or her new boss and grabbed Rose's hand and squeezed it for reassurance.

The Latimers were seated across the other side of the judge, Beth herself heavily pregnant, a bit further along than Rose by about two months and non of them showed any recognition towards Ellie, Rose or Alec.  Rose knew it was a traumatic experience for them, finally getting to see the killer of their son face to face after all that time.

The judge entered and the court was ordered to stand.  The charges were read out and Joe Miller named, not that everyone in there didn't already know who he was. They had tried to keep it quiet but word had spread too quickly which was why, to get a fair hearing, it had been switched over into another county.  Rose grabbed Alec's arm and looked at him as if to say, ''this is it'' and they held hands as Joe was asked how he pleaded.

Even his solicitor was clearly not expecting his response of ''Not guilty'' as everyone tried talking at once and the judge ordered the court to be silent.

''Mr Miller, it seems your response is somewhat unexpected so I give you another chance to make your plea.''

He gave the same reply, quite clearly as ''Not guilty Your Honour.''

After being directed to gain the services of a qualified barrister and that a prosecuting barrister would be appointed, the court was cleared and Joe Miller was held for trial.  Ellie led Rose out as Alec tried to help her up, Beth Latimer looking threateningly over at them and once outside, Beth exploded, about to almost give birth or not.  Alec tried to get between them as did her husband and Rose was trying to keep out of the way, shouting at Beth to leave Ellie alone.

''You didn't help either Rose Tyler,'' Beth shouted at her.

''Hey, leave Rose out of this,'' Alec quipped, holding Rose behind him.

''And you Hardy,'' Beth continued.  ''Her husband gave him an alibi, I heard about it, then she leaves him for you.''

''Leave us out of this Beth, what her ex husband did was childish, to get back at her. It's been proved he was lying so just leave it and they're divorced now, she's with me.''

''Yes, we know, the whole bloody town knew you two were shagging each other before she even told anyone she was pregnant but it doesn't change anything.  Now we have to get us a prosecution barrister.''

''One will be appointed for you,'' Alec calmly informed her, now holding Rose by her shoulders and pulling her close.

''Well I don't want one who's doing it because they have to, I want someone who will fight for my Danny.''

Maggie, the newspaper editor stepped up to Beth.  ''I know just the person for the job but getting her to agree is another matter.  Leave it to me.  Don't take it out on Rose or Ellie Beth, it's clearly what Joe intended, to break up the community.  We all have to stick together.''

''It's ok Maggie,'' Rose said.  ''I know she's angry and so am I.  Now my ex will get dragged down here, do you think I want that?  It's taken me six months to finally be free of him and now the defence will drag him here and find out if he really was with Joe that night and the prosecution will want to know why he lied and I'm stuck in the middle.  You're not the only one around here who's pregnant Beth, I don't want my ex down here gloating that all the hard work we put into catching your Danny's killer has gone to waste just because he was stupid enough to think he was getting back at me.  Yes, we would have got Joe sooner if Mickey hadn't been playing games with us but what was just said in there wouldn't have changed, Joe still would be trying to get out of it, it's up to the prosecution now to prove he's guilty, we did our jobs.''

''Even when you two were going behind your husband's back Rose?''

''That's not fair Beth, Rose had a difficult time, I'm sure you were in the same position,'' Alec butted in.

Beth quickly got his meaning since her husband had been with the hotel owner the night of Danny's death.  Alec continued in his defence of his partner.

''Rose was in a difficult position which is not open for discussion, it's personal to her, she chose to end her marriage partly because of he was being childish but as for him providing an alibi for Joe Miller, he had a choice, he chose to be petty and get back at Rose.  Come on, that's enough Rose, just leave it, the trial is going to be bitter and he knows it, that's why he's denying what he did was wrong, the jury will see him for what he is.''

He didn't want to say much in front of Ellie, he was going to have to continue working with her but Beth wasn't finished.

''What are you doing back in Broadchurch Ellie?  We don't want to back there.''

''She has the right to live where she wants and she's now working with me so back down Beth,'' Alec said in her defence.

''Here, don't go telling Beth to back down, no-one told Ellie to come back,'' Mark said defensively.

Rose was having enough and let go of Alec and stormed off.  Alec motioned Ellie to go after her to the ladies room then turned to Beth.

''Now see what you've done.  Rose has been through just as much as you have.  You were able to make up with your husband, she's been trying for six months, before we got together to get rid of hers because he wasn't ready to admit he was wrong in them getting married in the first place.''

With that, Alec went off to wait outside the ladies room for Rose coming out.  Ellie was trying to calm her down.

''I'm just so mad Ellie, I know this is mostly about Danny but she needn't have a go at me when I was the one who arrested his killer.  I'm sorry I had to arrest your ex, we wanted to be wrong, I told you it was between him and Mickey in the end, they both tripped themselves up by badly giving each other an alibi.  We could have easily arrested Mickey by mistake, believe me, the way he was behaving, it was all I could do not to have Alec arrest him for not signing the divorce papers, he's not a patient man but he did wait for me, he stuck by me.''

''I know you two don't like talking about your relationship and I don't blame you with the gossips in this town but everyone could see after a couple of weeks you were gone on each other, especially when you took your ring off.''

''Alec took it off just after we moved in together, he probably tossed it in the sea since there are no volcanoes around here that I know of.  He said I didn't need it and when I got my divorce, I was free to choose what I wanted and I'm still here.  Didn't know I was gonna be six months pregnant when I go it though, it was that weekend we went off to Jersey.''

Ellie smiled.  ''I think I worked that one out already Rose.  When I came to your caravan that Sunday afternoon after you'd arrested Joe, I could tell he cared about you and I didn't mean to upset you that day.''

''I know, it's ok.  Best go out before he sends armed guards in to find me, he's very protective of me lately.''

''Only lately?'' Ellie half joked.

Alec took her in his arms when she came out and mouthed a 'Thanks' to Ellie.  They drove back to Broadchurch to get themselves prepared for the now upcoming trial which no-one except maybe the killer was looking forward to.  It was over a week before they all received summons to give evidence but they were all brought together when the new defence team ordered a re-examination of Danny's body. Alec took Ellie to the church yard, making Rose stay at home which was a good thing considering Beth almost lost it and went into labour, he didn't want Rose doing the same since she now had just over two months to go.

On the first day of the trial, Rose and Alec had to wait outside before giving evidence and sat hand in hand then as witnesses were cross-examined, Mark and Becca's affair became the topic of the day again, Nigel Carter was discredited and almost arrested on the spot as an alternate killer by the defence, amongst all that was a surprise appearance by Susan Wright, who had still insisted she had seen her estranged son on the beach that night.

Alec gave his evidence, having to admit Rose had done most of it and it came to light that Mark had been admitted to visit Joe on the night of his arrest, which was news to him but there was nothing about anything improper between him and his then married DS.  Once he had given his side, he was allowed to witness Rose's questioning, first by the prosecution.  Rose knew of Jocelyn Knight though she had never met the woman but she wasn't getting an easy ride.

''DS Tyler, is it true that your own husband provided the accused with an alibi?''

Rose stared at her, the woman clearly hadn't been informed they were divorced. She turned to the judge.

''Your Honour, may I make it clear he is now my ex husband?  The divorce was granted a few weeks ago now.''

The judge nodded and said it was to entered into the records as Ms knight proceeded.

''DS Tyler, please answer the question, did your as you say now ex husband provide the accused with an alibi?''

''Yes, he did, they were friends and the accused asked him to say he was with him on the night Danny Latimer died.''

''DS Tyler, is it also true that your ex husband provided him with one readily to get back at you?''

Rose glanced at Alec all too briefly.  ''Yes, we were having marriage difficulties and he was trying to get back at me when he was offered an alibi back by the accused to say if I asked where he had been or was going, to say they were both out together.''

''Then if your ex husband had not been jealous of the fact you were spending more time at work than with him, the accused would never have had a what seemed at the time a solid alibi?''

''It was never a solid alibi, DI Hardy and myself suspected they were doing it to cover for each other.''

''And why did you suspect that, DS Tyler?''

''Because neither myself nor the accused's ex wife were able to honestly say our now ex husband's were with them the night Danny Latimer died.''

She knew she had now given the defence the ammunition to provide Mickey as another suspect and the wrong one had been arrested.  She had to act quickly to salvage this.  Hell, this was supposed to be the prosecution, why was she on the defence's side?  She risked another glance at Alec, who was trying to hide behind his hands.  He was wondering exactly the same thing, how had this been twisted around, surely it wasn't in the prosecution's interest to go down this line of questioning?  Their fears were soon allayed though as the next question came but the damage may now have been already done.

''DS Tyler, is it true that your ex husband stated, and I quote from his statement to yourself on the day of his questioning, 'You were asleep in the middle of the bed and I knew better than to wake you' and also 'You never sleep in the middle of the bed' proving he was actually at home the rest of the evening, being seen earlier at two local public houses until after ten thirty and he said was doing it to get back at you for you thinking he was having an affair.''

''Yes, he said that in his statement.''

''And were you asleep that night in the middle of the bed DS Tyler?''

''Yes, I was annoyed with him and I had a bad headache from the journey back from our holiday and he wanted to go out.''

''So did you think he was having an affair?''

''I see no relevance in the question Your Honour,'' Rose turned to the judge.

The judge thought otherwise or she really enjoyed juicy gossip.

''Answer the question DS Tyler.''

''At the time, yes, it occurred to me.''

She was excused and went to sit beside Ellie, Alec glancing at her.  They had already been seen sitting together but the court officials may have assumed she was pregnant with her ex-husband's baby at first glance.  Only time would tell that and she didn't think that was going to be the end of it.

Rose was right as time went on and the defence did indeed use it their advantage, first with Alec, whom they somehow got to know about him making the first advances towards Rose.

''DI Hardy, when did you and DS Tyler begin your affair?''

Alec was having none of it.  ''I fail to see what business it is of the court whether DS Tyler and myself were involved at the time the investigation was taking place.''

He rather thought the prosecution would have been asking him that.  The judge intervened again, Rose thought she was really out to get some gossip out of this trial.

''If you are implying DS Tyler and I started an affair before she began divorce proceeding then no, we didn't but I still fail to see what it has to do with anything.''

''It has everything to do with it DI Hardy.  You were seen on occasions staying behind in your office together and I suggest it was at your insistence DS Tyler sought a divorce.  I also suggest it clouded your judgement of my client as you wanted an early arrest.''

Now he knew where they were going with this.  ''It had no bearing on our investigation, the accused was found with the deceased boy's phone, in his hand by two detectives, his confession was given to those same two detectives.''

''DI Hardy, my client was not given the benefit of the doubt he was trying to return the phone to your detectives when he turned it on.''

''All he had to do was call us and say he had it, not switch it on as an afterthought, two weeks after it went missing.''

Rose tried not to smile at him, he could do this all day and enjoy it, she should know, they'd had enough practice and still often worked like that.  There was a sound of coughing from around the room, Rose trying not to be one of them but failing.  Ms Bishop tried not to look too put out.

''Maybe he just found it DI Hardy?  Moving on, is it true your two DS's allowed the defendant's wife to attack him whilst in their custody?''

''Technically, the defendant had been read his rights, he was not at the time under arrest.  He had been taken from his home, his now ex wife had been asked some questions by DS Tyler and she lost control and ran out after her then husband when she learned he was being detained in connection with the death of her friend's son. She attacked him as an angry wife, nothing more.''

''And did DS Tyler call for medical assistance once he was taken into custody at Broadchurch Police Station?''

''Yes, shortly after his arrival, the duty medical officer was called and Mr Miller's injuries, although minor were treated and documented.  The two DS's asked him if he required further assistance but he declined. He then gave and signed a statement as to what happened on the night Danny Latimer was killed.''

Alec was soon told he could stand down but it was only the beginning as they were to find out the next day as more details of their affair came to light when after a quiet night in, carefully showing their love to each other, Rose was to face her now ex husband who had brought her mother with him for support and Alec would know the wrath of one Jackie Tyler which would put his and Rose's relationship to the ultimate test.
Chapter 20
Rose had no idea what they were in for when they arrived and parked up outside the court the following morning.  Mickey had got a cheap car and had driven himself and Jackie down overnight and they were already parked and waiting inside the building as Rose, Ellie and Alec went through security checks, Rose being treated a little differently as was Beth and she grabbed hold of Alec's arm as he came up behind her, pointing to Mickey and her mother.

''I take it that's your mum then?'' Ellie remarked, to which Alec gave her his 'look'.

''I can't face them Alec, not now, not if I'm gonna be asked more questions or if they ask Mickey about our marriage.''

''It's ok love, you don't have to worry, it's official now, just be calm.''

''Easy for you to say,'' she mumbled as they walked across to find a free bench and sat down.

It was Jackie that got up, wondering why her own daughter was ignoring her, not that they had spoken much after the last phone call.

''Rose, you're so – big, how far on are you?''

''Nearly seven months now, not long to go.  How have you been then?''

''Worried sick, that's how I've been.  You having a baby and no husband.''

''Leave it Mum, Alec is with me, I just got divorced, how am I supposed to do anything about that?''

''You should have stayed married then.  So go on then, introduce me.''

Alec got up.  ''Mrs Tyler, a pleasure to meet you at last.  I'm Alec Hardy, Rose's partner.''

''What sort of partner?  You were supposed to be working together, not getting my daughter pregnant.  I hope you're taking responsibility for her?''

''Mum, just leave it, Alec takes good care of me, I've nothing to worry about.  I just finished work, when this trial is over.  This is our friend, Ellie.''

She didn't want to say her last name given it was still the same as the man on trial, Ellie didn't want the boys to have a change of name.

''Ellie works with Alec now I've given up.''

''Nice to meet you Mrs Tyler,'' Ellie said as she got up, holding out her hand.

''Yeah, well Rose worked with him and look where that got her then, I hope he doesn't go around making a habit of breaking up marriages.''

''Mum, this is not the place and I broke it up, not Alec.  I'd decided I was leaving Mickey before I started seeing Alec, I told you that.  Come on Alec, let's go upstairs and wait to be called in, this is getting us nowhere.''

''Oh yes madam, run away like you did from poor Mickey, he was heart-broken.''

Rose glanced over but Mickey always looked the way he did now, arms crossed and sulking.

''Yeah Mum, 'course he was, I was all broken up about it.  I'm doing what I want for a change, not what you two think I want to do.  It might have worked at one time but not now, I'm over it, I have a life with Alec now and our baby when she comes.''

''You know what you're having?''

''I thought I told you?''  She was positive she had.  ''Don't you want to be able to see your granddaughter?  We could come up and see you, if you want?''

She could see the change in her mother's attitude but it was to no avail.

''Rose, I can't forget what you did.  You agreed to marry Mickey and less than three years later, you've left him.  Is that what you're gonna do with him?''

Rose broke away from Alec and went running off and Alec knew he'd heard quite enough.

''I think you should try to be a little more understanding with your daughter Mrs Tyler, don't you?  She's emotional enough right now and she doesn't need you being hostile in front of her, it's bad enough he's here and you having a go at her over the phone but to come down here, with her ex and still support him instead of her, I'm really surprised.  Now excuse me while I see if I can calm her down before the trial starts again.''

Alec went off before he lost his temper but knew he wasn't going to win this battle. Rose was tucked away under the stairs, trying to hide when he found her.

''Come on love, let's get you up to the court, eh?''

''I'm sorry Alec, she never used to be like that, I don't know why she's still so hostile.''

'Maybe she just wants what every mother does, for her daughter to be happy, it doesn't mean you have to be married to be that.  Did she never see you two together?''

''Not much, just Christmas and after we got married, we only spent one of them with her in London.''

''Then let's show her Rose, we stick together through this, ok?  I love you Rose, remember that when we go in there.  Now are you getting in the lift or am I carrying you up those stairs, Tyler?''

''I'd like to see you try Columbo.''

He kissed her cheek and she put her arm in his.

Ellie saw them talking, under the glass staircase and figured they needed a moment alone as Alec had his arms around a very pregnant Rose.

Jackie was looking as well, when she wasn't watching Mickey look at them.  Where had it all gone wrong, Jackie wondered.  She couldn't remember the last time she had seen Rose relax like that with Mickey, her head leaning into Alec's shoulder as he led her towards the lifts.  Mickey got up and stood beside his now ex mother-in-law.

''Where did I go wrong Jackie?  She never looked at me like that, what's he got that I haven't?''

Ellie overheard and thought he really didn't have a clue and that it was obvious, Rose and Alec were actually in love with each other and no-one had to tell them they belonged together, they just knew.

The prosecution had more questions for witnesses that were recalled, then she called Mickey.  He had decided if he was going down, Rose was going with him, wife or not.  She had ruined everything by getting a separation then getting pregnant by that Alec Hardy when she never wanted a family with him, well he'd show her and everyone would know what had happened.

It seemed he was the only one who was bothered as Rose clung hold of Alec's hand.

''Mr Smith, you were at the time married to DS Tyler, will you please tell the court the reason you gave Mr Miller an alibi for the night of Danny Latimer's death?''

Rose thought that was rather direct and to the point, something she'd like to know as well, maybe it hadn't all been about their marriage break-up.

''He was a friend, he said he had been out helping someone and didn't want his wife to know about it.  I'd been away, I had no reason to doubt him.''

''And when was that?''

''On the Saturday night.''

''Did you see Mr Miller on the night in question?''

''No, I didn't see him that night.''

''Then why did you agree to say you were with him that night when you knew you hadn't been with him?''

Rose stared at him, she knew what was coming.

''He said he would cover for me if my wife asked what I had been doing that night.''

''And did you do anything that night?''

''No, I went home, my wife was asleep so I went in the spare room, I knew what she would be like if I woke her up.''

''So you deliberately told a lie to police, including your then wife?  Why exactly did you do that?''

''She was leading the investigation, she was working late and I wanted to get back at her.  I saw no harm in saying my friend was with me that night, she asked me where I was, I didn't want her to know I'd gone home early.''

''Is it true she thought you may be having an affair by you saying you were with your friend when you clearly were not?''

''Yes but she never came out and asked me, she just implied it.''

''We have heard from DS Tyler that you are recently divorced, is that the reason? Because you were out and she thought you were seeing someone else?''

''You'd have to ask her that.''

''Were you the one having the affair Mr Smith?''

Mickey looked straight at Rose, Alec glancing at her, thinking she would run out.

''No, I wasn't the one that was having an affair.''

He knew he should have just said it was Rose that was guilty of that.

''So when you found out it was your then wife that was having an affair, you kept to your story of giving Mr Miller an alibi, to get back at her?''

''Yes, she served the divorce papers and a separation order so I wasn't going to withdraw my alibi.''

''Were you ever charged with providing a false alibi?''

''No, I received a caution for it and said I wasn't with Joe Miller that night.''

''Was this after you received a copy of the separation order?''

''Yes, she made me tell her when she said she knew I wasn't with him that night.''

''And just how did she do that?''

''She knows I'm not that good at keeping up with something, she guessed.  Maybe because it was her that was having the affair, not me and she knew it.''

Rose turned at looked at Alec.  He just took her hand and squeezed it.

The defence had nothing to add, Joe Miller's only other alibi for that night had been dis
proven but they went down a different route.

''So Mr Smith,'' Sharon Bishop declared, ''since you say we weren't with the defendant on the night in question and your then wife was asleep, how do we know it wasn't you that was Danny Latimer that night?''

''What?'' Mickey asked.

She obviously was taking advantage of what she had just learned.  People began whispering to each other.  The prosecution stood up.

''Your honour, Mr Smith is not the one on trial here, we have already established facts it was Mr Miller who was with Danny Latimer that night, Mr Smith's DNA was not found in the hut and we have a confession given to police.''

''Quite right Miss Knight. Miss Bishop, please do not speculate.  The jury will disregard that question.''

''Yes your Honour.''

Rose was thinking she thought it was at least worth a try but now those who didn't know it at the time knew she had been having an affair but not who with, although that was now quite apparent as they sat together and it was clear Alec was the father by the way he fussed after her.

''Mr Smith, you were a friend of the defendant?''

''Yes, we were mates.''

''Then why did you agree to say he was with you that night then let him down when your then wife allegedly guessed you hadn't been?  Did you always do as she suggested?''

''No.''

''Then I suggest to you that you backed down because you discovered your wife was having an affair and you wanted to get her back by giving her no reason to go ahead with your divorce so I ask you again Mr Smith, were you with the defendant on the night Danny Latimer died?''

''No, I wasn't.''

''So you didn't back down because you were ashamed your wife was having an affair and you wanted her back?  Did you want her back?''

He looked across at Rose, then Alec, who were still holding hands.

''Yes, I wanted her back, I never wanted her to leave but she did, without any explanation until I followed her one night and found she had moved in with another man but I didn't want to get into trouble and get charged with hindering the investigation so I told the truth.''

''Even after you found out the man she was having the affair with was her boss?''

Alec sat up straight, letting go of Rose's hand but she took it back as if to say she wasn't bothered.  Why should they hide it?

''Did you want to get back at her then?  Were you indeed with the defendant on the night in question Mr Smith?''

''Objection, the defence is leading the witness.''

''Sustained.  Miss Bishop, you are leading the witness into perjuring himself since he has stated he was only covering for his friend.  The jury will disregard.''

''Yes Your Honour, no more questions.''

Mickey was excused and went to sit with Jackie, she could have saved everyone from guessing who Rose was having the affair with if they had asked her.

It was getting late and Rose thought the court would adjourn until the next day as thankfully it was Friday but Rose was suddenly re-called to the witness stand.  She was tired and in no mood to answer the defence's stupid questions about her affair with Alec.

Miss knight began by asking her, ''DS Tyler, how did you know your then husband was not telling the truth about being with Mr Miller that night, if you were asleep?''

''I knew him, the way he was behaving.  I knew him all my life before we got married, I think it's safe to say I know him better than the defendant as to if he can be trusted to keep up a lie.''

"Indeed.  So you are confident he was telling the truth when he retracted his alibi for the defendant on the night in question?''

''Yes, absolutely.''

''No more questions.''

''DS Tyler, is it true you never took your then husband's name?'' Sharon Bishop asked.

''I kept my own name for professional reasons, what has that to do with anything?''

''You wanted to discredit your then husband's alibi for the defendant in order to get a result so you could spent more time with the man you were having the affair with, didn't you?''

''That's absurd, why should I?  I'd moved out of the house I was living in with my ex husband, it made no difference how much time I was working.''

''Is that because you were having the affair with your boss, DI Hardy?''

Rose looked around the courtroom, who did this woman asking her questions think she was?  Half the town already knew, what was the point?

''Yes, I was but we didn't start the affair until I began divorce proceedings, on his insistence.''

''So he had some morals then?''

Alec wanted to get up and knock her flat on the floor but he never raised his hand to a woman but for her he would make an exception.

''That's not fair, it was mutual.  I was unhappy at home and he asked what was wrong with me, it was affecting our working relationship.''

''And did your CS know about your affair?''

''Yes, we were allowed to continue working together.  We were in her office and we told her.  The investigation took longer because my ex husband was holding a grudge against me.''

''Then perhaps if you had not been having the affair, you may not have assumed it was the defendant who killed Danny Latimer and you may have had other suspects, such as your own then husband?  Is it true DI Hardy had an incident when chasing a suspect?''

Rose wondered where that had come from but she had already admitted it to the CS, there was no cover up.

''Yes, he was taken ill during a pursuit and taken to hospital, I carried on the investigation.''

''Indeed but since you stopped to administer CPR to DI Hardy, the person you were chasing got away.  If you had not stopped because he was your lover, you may have caught the person and it may have been revealed it was not Mr Miller as speculated.''

Rose was furious, she didn't know how Alec felt but she was fuming.

''Was I supposed to just let anyone die?  I was the only one there trained in resuscitation methods, whether I was involved with him or not, was I supposed to ignore him?  Other officers were also in pursuit, are you inhuman?  Don't you care he could have died on the spot?  I'd hate to be somewhere where you let a person die to chase a suspect, you're just sick.''

Even the judge was looking at her at Rose thought she was going to be in contempt of court.

''DS Tyler, we understand your involvement with DI Hardy made you slightly more concerned with his safety than if it was another officer but you did save his life that night and you are to be commended.  As such, your CS did not lay the blame of the loss of the suspect on either you or DI Hardy.  Miss Bishop, you are instructed to withdraw that remark and the jury are to disregard it.''

Rose was excused and went to sit next to Ellie and Alec leaned over to take her hand and squeeze it.  He would not be sitting in the courtroom listening to a lunatic defence barrister if it hadn't been for chasing the defendant in the first place and being saved by Rose.  They were let out for the day and hoped the next day would be better.  There was only the deliberation to go through and the jury to retire to consider the verdict which could go either way.

They made their way downstairs, Rose and Alec taking the lift and came face to face with Mickey and Jackie.  Mickey had been told he was no longer required and was going home, Jackie was now torn between going with him or visiting Rose so she was trying to talk him into stopping off in Broadchurch on the way back.

''I don't want to go back there Jackie, I can drop you off if you want but do you really want to talk to her now everyone knows what she did?''

"I dunno Mickey, she is my daughter.  Let's stay here tonight and see what happens tomorrow?  Don't you want to know if your friend was guilty or not?''

''I suppose so.  We'll go into Exeter and find a cheap hotel then, come on, I don't want to hang around here any longer than I have to.''

Jackie looked at Rose as they were getting out of the lift, Alec's arm protectively around her.  Jackie thought at least he paid her some attention but she decided to go off after Mickey.  Alec noticed and tried to ignore it, he knew what it was doing to Rose, her own mother taking her ex's side.  They left the court and dropped Ellie at her house to get her car and drove back home, stopping to get a takeaway and Alec had just finished cleaning up when Rose was laying on the seating area and her phone rang.  She ignored it since it was her mother but Alec went to pick it up.

''I don't want to talk to her Alec.''

''Fine, I will then.''

He walked off into the bedroom so as not to upset Rose.  ''Mrs Tyler, Rose is rather tired right now, she's had a long day and what with being questioned again.''

''Why won't she answer her own phone?''

He wanted to say something smart such as because the woman was sticking up for her ex but decided not to.

''I'll tell her you called.''

''I want to see her, will you at least tell me where you are?''

''I thought Mickey would have done that, since he came spying on us.  We're in the caravan park right on the harbour, the first road to the left as you come in, number 12, there's decking in front with some loungers outside.  Are you still over in Exeter?''

''Yeah, Mickey got us in a B&B for the night though he made me pay for my own room.  I mean, he drags me down here and then makes me pay.''

''Well it seems to me you're the one taking his side, maybe you should be thinking more about your daughter and the fact she was forced into marrying him.  If you want to see her, I won't stop you but he stays away from her, I'll not have her getting upset again, understand?''

''Yes.''

Jackie realised this Alec Hardy was a force to be reckoned with much as herself.
Chapter 21
''What did my mum want Alec?'' Rose asked as he joined her in the lounge, putting her phone on the coffee table.

''She wants to see you.  I said fine as long as she doesn't bring Mickey with her, she never said when though.  Do you want to go out?''

''No, I'm tired after standing in that box, you'd think they would let me sit down?''

''Well there should be no more questions, it should be all over tomorrow.  I hope the jury really didn't really take any notice of the defence.  She was a real piece of work.''

''I couldn't believe that she suggested I left you to die and chase the suspect instead.''

''If there had only been us Rose, what would you have done?''

''Are you even being serious?  We knew who it was, we would have got him sooner or later, I wouldn't have left anyone to die Alec.''

She sat up and leaned into him as he put his arms around her, getting as close as they could.

''I know, I'm sorry.  That's what you do Rose, you care about people and maybe that was what finally made you decide to marry Mickey, because you felt guilty he had stuck by you all that time and waited for you.  We have to forget all that now.  Why don't you lie down and we'll watch some TV for a while or do you want to do some snogging?''

Rose giggled and stretched out, leaning back on the corner cushion and putting her feet across his legs.  Then she waggled her finger for him to lean over her and he put his arm behind her and pulled her close.  After kissing her senseless, they settled to watch TV then he had something to ask her, putting his hand on her tummy.

''We should really think about names now, we've put it off long enough.  I'm serious Rose, we decide now but one thing is certain, she has my surname, agreed?''

Rose looked at him and stroked his chin, the little bit of his beard soft under her fingers.  Then she pulled him forward and they kissed again.

''Wouldn't have it any other way, Columbo.  Did you think I would object?''

''You mean considering you never took Mickey's name?  I've been thinking about that Rose, I thought it was what you told everyone else, it was for professional reasons but it wasn't was it?''

''Mmm, less of the detective work and rub my feet, please but I want another snogging session first.''

''You'll have one later because I've worked something out.  It was always in the back of your mind, that you made a compromise, to marry him to keep the peace, maybe even for stability but it was so you get out of it easier with very little fuss like changing your name back.  I got you there Tyler.''

''You are too clever for your own good, do you know that?  It doesn't mean I was ever happy about it though, I got tired of all the nagging, I just wanted a quiet life and everyone knew me.  We never even moved off the estate when we moved in together, do you know that?  We would have stayed there if I hadn't got that promotion and moved us down here.  Can you imagine what that was like? Everyone knew I was with him, no-one else would have asked me out, they were all his mates and me being in the police, they all stayed away from me.  I was going nowhere with it Alec so when I took the exams, I said yes but I was keeping my name.  That was my only concession.''

She leaned into him and if he could have picked her up and carried her to their bedroom, he would have gladly done so.

''It's ok Rose, I don't blame you.  People get married for all sorts of different reasons, years ago, women were forced to marry for money, for business and it still goes on but you're free now, free to make up your own mind and when you're ready, we can talk about it.  I love you Rose, I'm not going anywhere.''

''I know Alec, I love you too.  So, shall we go to bed and do some more snogging then?''

''Oh no, you are not getting out of naming this baby, come on, think of some names.''

''Can't we go and get a book of baby names and their meanings?''

''We could use your laptop, I'll connect it to my phone but what about something simple?  She's due in May so why not have that form part of her name?''

''Yeah, that would be nice.  Are there any family names you might like?''

''I had a great aunt called Hannah, never saw much of her, she lived right up on the Island of Mull, my mum used to tell me about her.  We went once, had to go on the ferry, it took all day to drive to Oban, we stayed overnight then went to visit.''

''Hannah May Hardy?  Mmm, I like it.  Agreed?''

''Agreed.  Now there's only one thing left to discuss?''

''Really?  I thought we'd just about covered it?''

''I want you to think about something Rose.  I said I wanted to take things further, when you were free and we never anticipated you'd be pregnant when you first filed for your divorce but I do Rose, I want to take things further, if you do?  The baby will have my name, I wouldn't want you to feel left out so think about this. Rose, think about taking my name?''

Rose didn't know what to say, the ink on her divorce papers was hardly dried and he may have been right about why she hadn't wanted to take Mickey's name, that a tiny part of her had been rebellious and against giving her own name up.  He was looking at her, she loved him, she knew she did, he was completely in love with her, there was no doubt about it and there were two months to go before this baby made them a real family.  She had grown up without her father, their daughter was not growing up with hers and even if they didn't get married, he would still dote on the baby growing inside her.

''Alec, I'm not saying I'm against it but I don't know how long I'll have to wait before I can even go there, legally and the fact I'm free for the first time I think since I met Mickey, well at least since he first suggested we got married.  It's just a lot to think about.''

''I know love, that's why I was giving you time to think about it but the baby will be along in around another two months and I know you agree she has my name so all I want is for you to consider it and I'll say no more about it, we'll still be together, that's what counts.  Let's get you ready for bed eh?  You still want your feet rubbing?''

Rose smiled as he took her shoes off and began rubbing her aching feet.  She swore if she got called to the witness stand once more she was going to insist she sat down, couldn't they see it was a strain having to stand there?  Alec helped her get undressed, pulling her nightdress down and putting his hand on her tummy, feeling the baby moving and smiling then helping her into bed.  Once he joined her, they got as close as they could, Rose whispering she missed him so he made a suggestion that may enable them to be together, not by too much so moving her gently, he swung her legs so they were across him and slowly pulled her underwear down, then did the same to his.

They both gasped as they touched and Alec called her name.

''Rose, trust me?'' he asked.

''Do you need to ask?  I miss you Columbo.''

''I miss you too Tyler, I hope soon I might be calling you Hardy?''

Keeping her legs where they were, he moved onto his side and the gasped again as they touched and gently made love.

When he turned away so he could reach over to kiss her, he whispered, ''I love you Rose.''

''I love you too and yes, I want you to call me Hardy.  Why didn't we think of this before?''

''I didn't know if you still, you know, wanted to?  I thought you might have gone off it?''

''No Alec, it was only the fact we couldn't really get close, I told you I missed you.  I'm not sure how much longer we can actually do this but we can just get close enough to touch and it's only for a little while.  Did you actually hear what I said?''
''Oh, you mean you want to be Mrs Columbo?''

Rose giggled.  ''No you idiot, no-one ever saw her, well maybe once, I can't remember.  I meant yes, I want to take your name.''

''Really?  Don't you need time to think about it?  I don't want you to think I'm trying to talk you into it, you had enough of that the last time.  I want you to make your own mind up.''

''I have, I don't need anyone to talk me into it.  Maybe while we're in the court tomorrow, we can find out how long I'll have to wait.  So does that make us official then?''

''Rose, we were always official, you being married was just a technicality and yes, we'll get there early tomorrow and go and ask, just bring your divorce papers with you and we can get the forms while we're there.''

''Whoa, can't we at least get engaged first?''

''We'll get engaged, it will be a few weeks, we'll go into the town after the court gets out and you can choose a ring, is that ok?''

She put her arms around his neck.  ''Yeah, ok Columbo and yes, this time I will use my married name because I finally got something right.  Best not set off too early in the morning, we still have Ellie to call, she'll have to make her own way there or go ring shopping with us.''

Alec chuckled.  ''She would just love that wouldn't she?  You can call her and break the news to her but we'd best stay away from her nephew all the same.''

They were up early the next morning, Alec helped Rose out of bed and she called Ellie, just saying they had something to do but Ellie guessed and said she had better be invited.  They both made sure they had their divorce papers with them and arrived at the court and made their enquires and they were pleasantly surprised since the magistrate had signed off personally and the divorce was final since Mickey had only raised verbal objections but done nothing legal about it.  As they came away from the counter to discuss if they were going to go ahead right away or not, Ellie was waiting.

''Hey you two, don't do anything too hasty, don't you think you'd at least better get engaged first?''

''You been talking to Rose, Miller?  We are getting engaged, we've got plenty of time before the baby comes, we still have to find another place to live yet.''

''That's not gonna stop us is it?''

''No, I was just saying.  It's not practical to still be in the caravan when the baby comes, that's all.''

''Why not?  It's big enough for the three of you.  Why not move into a three bedroom, you can both claim housing allowance with a baby on the way, Rose hasn't left altogether, you're going back aren't you?''

''Only part time but we may lose the allowance soon, I mean we're both more or less permanent now.''

''You're both away from home, you should still get it, have you been claiming yours Rose?''

''No, it's gone on Alec's.''

''Then go see them on Monday, get them both put together then get an upgrade, tell the management you want room for a crib.''

''Is that what you want Rose?'' Alec asked.

''It's not a bad idea you know, most of the caravans up at the top are residential, they may move us up there.  If we get a three bedroomed one, they can move some of the beds out of the way, they must fold up then we can get the crib in.''

''Why don't you two just organise it then?'' Alec joked, leading Rose back out into the main area in time to see Mickey and Jackie.

Rose thought they would have gone home by now but her mother had rung last night, wanting to see her and now she had told Ellie before her mother that she was considering getting married again so soon.  Was it too soon?  Perhaps they should get engaged and put it off for a while, surely Alec would agree to that?  She took his hand and he led her to the lift and they all went to the next floor and waited to be allowed inside the courtroom, hopefully for the last time.

Alec went to get Rose some tea, Ellie declining and they shared the drink since they both took it the same way, them having lots of things in common and just as they finished, they saw Beth and Mark coming out of the lift, holding a new baby.  Rose nudged Ellie.

''Blimey, she's just given birth and she's back here, I wonder when that happened?''

''I don't know, she doesn't look in too bad a way though.''

''I hope I'm like that when I have mine.  Did I tell you we'd decided on a name?''

Ellie looked at Alec.  ''No, you neglected to mention that when you told me to make my own way here and you two went off to make your arrangements and then planning on sneaking off afterwards to get engaged, I hope we can all go out later, I'll get Olly to look after the boys.''

Rose really wished Ellie had kept quiet as there were people within hearing distance.

''Go on then, tell me it's not going to be another name of a flower?''

Rose smiled and Alec put his arm around her, taking the empty cup from her.

''Hannah May, what do you think?'' Rose asked her friend.

''It's lovely Rose, she couldn't have better loving parents, you're going to be great at it so get your acts together and don't think you have to rush into anything, neither of you are going anywhere anytime soon.''

Rose squeezed her now fiancé's hand.  ''She's right Alec.  We don't have to rush to prove anything, let's have some time being engaged?''

''Whatever you want Rose, you already said yes.''

''Well sort of, you still have to do it properly.  Maybe tonight, we'll go out and celebrate and we can make it public?''

''I could just stand here and do that now Rose, if you want?''

''Don't you dare!''

Alec smiled and leaned over to kiss her cheek.  ''Relax Rose, I don't want this baby to be two months early you know.''

They were called to go into the courtroom where both the defence and prosecution made their closing statements, Rose relieved she wasn't called to the witness stand again and they were ushered out when the jury went to make their deliberation. They were called back in but the jury couldn't reach a majority so they were all sent out again, being directed they needed at least ten to make the same decision. Since it was lunch time, everyone had to wait and Jackie took the chance to cross to where Alec was fussing over Rose and Ellie was pretending she wasn't with them.

''Honestly Alec, you fuss too much over her,'' Ellie observed.  She looked up at Jackie approaching.  ''Mrs Tyler, will you join us?  I was just leaving, I have to check on my youngest son.''

Ellie got up and Jackie took the empty seat.

''How are you Rose?''

Alec was sat sideways holding both her hands, imagining seeing a diamond ring on her finger in a few hours time.

''I'm fine but I'll be glad when this is all over.  Why are you still here?''

''Mickey wanted to see what happened to his friend I suppose, we're going back afterwards but I wanted to see you, see where you were living.''

''I told you where we were last night Mrs Tyler, you can visit on your own at any time.''

''Well I was still here last night, wasn't I?  I was gonna get Mickey to stop for an hour after we get out of here so I could come and visit with you.''

''We have somewhere to go after we leave here.''

''Alec, can't we leave that until tomorrow?  We could go down to Dorchester in the morning.''

''Ok, if that's what you want.''

''What's so important you have to do today?''

Rose would rather not tell her but Alec apparently had no qualms about it.

''I'm buying Rose an engagement ring if you must know, we have no reason to hide the fact we are together.''

They were interrupted by the court being re-convened so Alec helped Rose up.  The sooner they got out of there, the sooner he could buy Rose that ring and hoped her mother wasn't going to tag along but if anything was going to put her off, that piece of news certain would.  Everyone in the court was stunned when Joe Miller was declared innocent, only two people had decided he was guilty and Alec was furious after all that work they did to see it go to waste.

As they exited, an angry Beth Latimer launched herself at Ellie, Alec only just managing to get between them as Mark tried to hold her back.

''I hope you're pleased now Ellie,'' she cried.

''No I'm far from pleased, I have to keep him away from my boys now, I'll never be able to rest.  I swear if he comes anywhere near them I'll kill him myself.''

Alec intervened.  ''Calm down Ellie, it's not doing anyone any good by saying things like that.  It's up to all of you now to make sure he stays away from you and Broadchurch, if you get my meaning?''

Mark and Nigel were already formulating a plan since Nigel owed him no favours for being hauled in by the two detectives on several occasions and he had lost revenue by not being able to steal any more pheasants, Alec had warned off the local butcher himself but it wasn't his concern, he would leave them to it and take no action if any complaints came from the newly released defendant, he deserved any and all punishment from the town residents.  All he was concerned about was Rose and seeing Beth being handed her new baby by her older daughter made him wish the two months Rose had still to go would hurry up and if she was his wife then, he'd be happy and if not, she would still use his name wherever she could and they would be engaged, a promise from her she would be one day, he could live with that.

They went off together after he got Rose something to eat and found a jewellery store and found just a single solitaire Rose took a liking to and getting it put in a box for later, they drove back home and had arranged to meet Ellie around eight in the caravan park's bar and Jackie would call.  They had just got back around five when Rose got a call from her mother.

''Rose, are you back home yet?''

Rose didn't think her mother sounded so good.

''What's wrong Mum, where are you?''

''Well I don't know, I'm in Broadchurch somewhere, Mickey dropped me off and I thought he was going to get out of the car but he drove off without me and he's not been back, I've been here for hours.''

''Mum, tell me where you are and Alec will come and find you.''

Alec was already picking his car keys back up.

''I'm on a street, just by a hotel, The Traders.  I've just come out of a café because they were closing.  I didn't want to call before since you said you were going somewhere.''

''Mum, just stand by the side of the hotel, ok?  Alec will be there in five minutes, he drives a black SUV type car, just watch out for him.''

''I'm sorry Rose.''

''It's ok, he's leaving now, it takes a few minutes to get out of the caravan park, just stay there.''

Alec was ready to leave and despite rejecting her, Jackie Tyler was still her mother. He kissed Rose and set off to get who was most likely to become his mother in law and soon had her back.  They had something to eat in the bar and Ellie came to join them then Alec slipped the ring onto Rose's finger to clapping from nearly everyone in the bar when Ellie told him to do it properly and get down on his knees.  They hadn't wanted to make a fuss out of it but it ended up that way.

ooooooooo{silversurfer60}ooooooooo

Two months later, Rose had just a few days to go, she was booked into the local hospital, her mother was arriving later that day, Alec meeting her at the railway station and Daisy had been for a visit over the Easter weekend, Alec pleased how she and Rose got on together.  They had moved into a three bedroomed caravan, with their combined housing allowances more than covering the cost so they had got two doubles and a twin room, the staff having taken away the mattress in the large room and folded the bed out of the way and Alec with some help from Ellie, got the crib all set up and Ellie had bought some toys for what was going to become the nursery.

Alec was about to finish work when the CS called him into her office, he was on six weeks leave and Ellie was taking over, Elaine already having spoken to her.

''So Alec, the big day approaches?  Your lives are going to be turned upside down.''

''I have done it before you know, it's not that long ago.  I just wish her mother wasn't coming down, I'm nervous enough and with her hovering around, I'm going to be worse and I'm not sure if my scheme is going to work.''

''Of course it will, since Ellie is clearly in on it, it will work.  What have you told Rose's mother?''

''That we're all going to Weymouth for the day and Ellie is meeting us there.  I just have to get them into the venue, it wasn't easy getting the room at short notice for such a small party.  I just hope my daughter gets down in time, her coach cuts it close but she gets dropped off at the bus stop with an hour to spare and she knows where to meet us, it's all arranged.''

''Well good luck and send me a photo of you getting married and some of the baby though I'm sure Ellie will have plenty.''

''Aye, she will.''

So Alec went off to meet Jackie at the station and filled her in on his little scheme and Jackie agreed to go along and Alec was really hoping Rose wouldn't go into labour during the ceremony, that would be all they needed and before he went into the caravan, he checked with Daisy she was all ready.

''Don't worry Dad, I'm sixteen now, I can get to Weymouth on my own,'' she assured him.

''Well that coach had better not be delayed or they'll get a complaint from me, right?''

He went in after Jackie and just hoped she wouldn't tell Rose and ruin the surprise. They were getting married at two, he had been down to Weymouth and got a special licence, having to sneak out Rose's divorce papers though they should have been on record he would have thought and arranged for a registrar to meet them at a sea front bar that had a function room for free hire and had paid for the drinks and a small buffet and since it was in the afternoon, there was no rush for them to leave.  So he had informed the registrar and he had agreed.

Now all he had to do was get Rose dressed up without her noticing and thinking she was having some time out before going into hospital, he just hoped she didn't wonder why he would be wearing his suit on a day out at the end of May, the bank holiday was coming up which was why Daisy had been able to get away as she was on study leave.

Not saying a word to Rose as they went to bed and acting normal, well normal for him anyway, Rose never suspected and Jackie had got settled in the double room, Alec getting the mattress back for the weekend and the crib would have to somehow stay in the lounge since Rose probably wouldn't get out hospital until Daisy left the following Monday.

The next morning, they set off for Weymouth, Alec parking by the railway station just after eleven and Jackie wanted to go get yet another teddy bear, in pink for the baby, they sat on the sea front after lunch, an hour before the ceremony and Alec was looking at his phone, hoping for a message to say Daisy had got off the coach and she was meeting them by the bandstand, which would be easy for her to find and just across from the wedding venue.

Rose was looking at him.  ''Alec, why are you even wearing that suit?  You don't normally.''

''Can't I wear a suit now darlin' it's not that warm really.''

His tie wasn't quite fastened, which was usual for him since he never fastened the top button and he then heard his phone buzz with the message that Daisy was off the coach and heading their way, she was just going to grab a sandwich from the bakery she was passing but Alec knew they had plenty of time still and at least she was there.

''Alec love, I could really fancy an ice-cream, can you get me one of those strawberry cones?''

''Ok love but don't let it melt down your dress, will you?''

Rose smiled at him over the top of her sunglasses, she always made him melt when she did that as he pushed them back on her nose then kissed the tip of it.  She was wearing a pink flowery dress and Jackie had opted for floral cotton trousers and a white top and she just hoped Rose hadn't noticed she had two boxes of confetti in her handbag, one for Daisy as Ellie was bringing her own plus a red rose buttonhole for Alec and a small bouquet of pink and red flowers for Rose.  Ellie was meeting them at one thirty, just after Daisy should get to them so her eating would delay them though how Rose was going to react when she saw the girl, Alec just hoped he wouldn't be getting a taxi to the local maternity unit.

He wished he'd told Daisy to eat where she was now, he could delay Rose with the ice-cream.  He went off across the road to the stall and came back with three strawberry cones and spied Daisy walking towards Rose and her mother.  Ellie should also be showing up shortly so the game would soon be up anyway.  He waved to Rose but Daisy thought he was waving to her and waved back and just as he checked the road was clear, she was almost at the bench they were sitting on and Rose just happened to turn her head as Alec reached the pavement and turned towards his daughter.

''Someone's here to see you Rose.''

''Daisy, what are you doing here honey?''

''Surprise!  Didn't think I'd miss out on you having that baby did you?  She's my half-sister.''

''Alec, this has you written all over it, bringing me here and saying we were having a family day out.''

''Ok, you got me but that's not the only reason so eat your cone before it does melt all over your dress.''

Rose was doing as he asked when Ellie saw them from across the road and waved. Rose stopped eating.

''Ok, Columbo, what's going on?''

Jackie and Daisy had got used to her calling him that.

''Eat up and you'll find out love.  Ellie, hope you brought your own ice-cream?'' he quipped as she sat beside Jackie, Alec still standing and Daisy sitting holding on to Rose's hand.

With twenty minutes to go, Alec stood in front of Rose and held out his hand but crouched down so she didn't have to stand up.  She clasped hold of it and he really didn't have to say anything, she knew why Daisy and Ellie were there.

''Rose, we've been engaged for two months and I know we said we'd wait, that I said it was up to you but the baby is due any day now, hopefully not actually today but see that bar over there?  The town registrar will be arriving soon so, Rose Tyler, will you marry me, today?''

Rose looked in his brown eyes, eyes she could get lost in and knew she loved him and she had delayed her decision to marry Mickey because she wasn't sure but she was sure about him, Alec Hardy, father of the baby she could have any minute now and she no longer wanted to wait any longer.  If you know something is right, you don't keep putting it off.

The three women were all looking at her as was probably everyone passing by, wondering what was going on.

Rose let him help her up and Ellie brought out a bouquet from a carrier Rose hadn't even noticed and handed it to her.  Rose had a tear in her eye.

''Yes Alec, I would love to marry you today and you have waited, long enough.  I know what I want, I want you, the father of this baby who I hope will at least wait until after our wedding night.  You mean that bar over there?''

They exchanged vows and the certificate was signed and giving Jackie the key, Ellie drove Daisy and Jackie back to Broadchurch, Alec booking himself and Rose into a hotel he had reserved for the night, a few doors down from the bar.  It wasn't easy but they got as close as they could, Rose saying they could make up for it when she ok again and Alec knew she would keep her word.  The next morning, they were getting ready to leave the hotel when Rose felt a twinge and Alec rang ahead to the hospital, not wanting to go to the one where they were but when they were almost in Broadchurch, Alec already calling ahead to tell Jackie to bring the bag from their bedroom that had Rose's things in it, they were approaching the main roundabout which was always busy, Alec reached for the siren and plugged it in, making Rose forget the pains she was getting and making her smile.

They got to the hospital as Rose announced she thought the baby was about to make an appearance and as she was taken to the ward, Jackie and Daisy joined them.

Two hours later, with Alec holding her hand all the way through and never letting go, Hannah May Hardy made her appearance, her proud parents, Rose and Alec Hardy posing for photos they got one of the nurses to take.

The End!


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