Share on Tumblr

Rose Tyler has taken up photography and moved to the town of Sandbrook after she sets her up her own studio.  Alec Hardy has gone back after finally solving a failed difficult case and still trying to win his teenage daughter back.  Her mother wants some nice photos of their daughter so Alec makes an appointment at Rose's studio.  Needless to say, he is smitten by Rose and starts making up excuses to go back and see her.

Based loosely on 'Single Father' . Rose has never met The Doctor.  The character of her ex boyfriend James is based on the duplicate Doctor.

Scroll down to read each  chapter
Chapter 1
Alec Hardy had finally redeemed himself, despite being ill and had taken a cab to the nearest train station and gone back to Sandbrook, finally being able to face the locals after locking up two killers and an accomplice.  He doubted Claire would stay quiet and would protest her innocence and say it was all Lee's idea but her husband would take her down with him.

He got through the trial, thankful the three of them didn't get the same defense team as Joe Miller and started making his peace with his sixteen year old daughter, who was almost seventeen and due to start at the local college in September.  He had found a small studio flat near his new station, not the same one where Tess worked as he couldn't face her and Dave all the time but his new chief had accepted him and he'd kept his rank.

So one Saturday lunch time, he was meeting Daisy in the town as he'd promised she could start staying on his sofa bed and see how they got on overnight.  She was waiting outside a fast-food restaurant, not his favourite but it was marginally better than most and at least the chicken didn't have fancy names.

Daisy was checking her phone, leaning on the window.

"How many times have me and your mum told you not to do that?" Alec asked her as she took her earphones out.  "I could have been anyone and snatched the phone from you," he complained.

Daisy reached to kiss his cheek, wishing he'd get rid of his scruff permanently but no amount of dropping hints had worked so far.

"I saw you Dad, stop going on.  Who'd want this phone?" she smiled, holding up the phone in a pink plastic cover.

"They could take it out," Alec huffed back.

"It's old Dad, why do you think I keep it in the case?" Daisy asked him.  "Can I get a new one?" she asked cheekily as they went inside, Alec thinking it wasn't a good idea as kids were climbing everywhere.

He indicated to a quiet corner and went to claim a seat.

"How long have you had that phone?" he asked, putting his specs on and peering at the board on the side of the counter as Daisy took a seat.  He already knew what she wanted.

"I've had it almost a year Dad," she replied.

"Then think yourself lucky it's not on a 36 month contract and no, you can wait for your birthday, if your mother agrees," he told her firmly as he went off to join the queue.

"So, how's school?" he asked as he put the what he called 'tacky' tray on the table almost ten minutes later.

"I'm in the sixth-form Dad," she reminded him.  "I wish you'd not made me stay on."

"You could have applied for college, if you'd got your grades," he reminded her.

"You promised you'd drop that," she told him.

"Well concentrate this time and now you're away from that crowd, you'll do better."

"They were my friends Dad, I hardly see them now and when I do, they won't let me hang out with them," she told him sadly.

"Daisy, you don't need friends like that.  What would you have done if your mother had not bailed you out?" he asked as he stirred his tea.

"Yeah, well she did and they got into trouble, why do you think they don't want anything to do with me?  Now you know why I don't want to go to college."

Alec thought he may as well give up.

"Well I will qualify for a transfer soon, think about going with me eh?" he asked hopefully.

"Where to?" she asked.

"Anywhere, make a fresh start?  We could go back to Broadchurch, now the dust has settled.  No-one will know you there and they will have forgotten about me, well hopefully."

"What about that woman who you worked with Dad?  You left without telling her, she'll hardly be happy if you go back, will she?" Daisy smiled.  "Mum said it wasn't true, what that defense team said about the two of you.  She said having met her, you argued with your DS more than you did with her."

Alec would rather forget about that.

"Yes, well, she had to live there and she did not need me there.  Have you nearly finished?" he asked, trying not to be reminded of being accused of a non-existent affair.

He didn't even know what had happened to Miller, she could have finally got that promotion, it had been almost two years.

Daisy dragged him around a few shops, to see what he would buy her then they went back to his apartment, Daisy inspecting it.

"Your mother has already approved," Alec told her as Daisy put her overnight bag on the sofa.

"I never said anything Dad," Daisy smiled.

"Well you did not have to, the look on your face says it all.  Is there something you want to tell me?" he asked.

"Should there be Dad?" Daisy answered defensively. 

He moved her holdall and motioned for her to sit down.

"This is me, not your mum so if something is bothering you, tell me.  I want to help you," he told her, taking her hand.  "I know things were difficult but those friends, they were not really friends if they encouraged you to get into trouble.  You do know that?"

"I've not made many new ones, some of those in the sixth form know the others.  It's not easy Dad."

"I know love, then think about going back to Broadchurch with me then?  Get your exams prepared for, you could always take them when we move, I can arrange for that.  The school have been very good about it and how the others got to stay in college is a miracle.  If I'd been in charge, I would have thrown them out."

"Yeah, I know you would Dad," she managed to smile.  "I think it was because they were older than me, sorry I caused all that trouble."

"Never mind.  When you go back tomorrow, I will talk to your mum, see what she thinks?" he asked.

Daisy moved away.  Alec knew there was something neither she or Tess were telling him.

"Can we watch TV?" she asked, trying to sit back.

While they had been eating and discussing the finer points of Daisy's 'friends', Rose Tyler was just finishing setting up her photography studio with the help of her old boyfriend, who had driven her down.

"Think yourself lucky your mother didn't want to inspect the place," Mickey Smith grinned.

"She saw the photos," Rose grinned back.

"Yeah, well she'd probably think it was tacky enough to get away with.  So when are you opening then?" he asked, picking up an album of some of her work back in London where she'd learned under a professional photographer who had told her she couldn't teach her any more and she was ready to go out on her own.

He looked around at the red brick walls, the red leather sofa and a small drinks fridge, wishing it had some bottles of lager in it, he'd have to tell her when he took her shopping.  There was a silver backdrop and some white lights above it and she had just set up the camera that had cost her a fortune on the tripod and her laptop was open.

"I hope those business cards arrive on Monday, then I can take some around, pin some to notice boards and I've still got those postcards to print out," she told him, since he'd just set up the printer for her.  "I'd better be able to pay for all this lot."

"Chill Rose, you'll do fine.  I said I'd help for a few days next week, we can go online and put small ads in the local classifieds section of the papers.  You said there were only a couple of other studios in the town.  This place has parking, it's an advantage when there are screaming kids in cars who don't want their picture taken."

"Yeah, just what I need thanks Mickey, screaming kids.  I hope I've made the right decision?  I mean I have to make a go of it, I have that business loan to pay back.  Good thing there's a studio flat above though."

"Yeah, you got a good deal and since everything's included.  Why did that other bloke want to get out in such a hurry?" Mickey asked.

"I dread to think, I hope he wasn't into nude photography, I don't want teenagers turning up asking for him."

Mickey laughed.  "Come on then, we'll go shopping since there's no lager or coffee," he suggested.

As Rose was just starting to get a few bookings a week later, Alec had talked Daisy into telling him what was wrong and he and Tess had been arguing again when he'd taken her back the following Sunday evening, since her house was nearer to the school.

"Why did you never tell me Tess?" he asked angrily.

"Like you would have done anything about it Alec," Tess argued back.

"I would have, had I known at the time.  So you thought you would leave it and let it all die down?"

"It has, more or less," Tess told him.

"Not for Daisy it hasn't.  I wanted to talk to you anyway, since you were out last Sunday when I brought her back.  She needs a fresh start Tess, somewhere where she's not known.  I was thinking of asking for my old job back in Broadchurch.  I spoke to my boss, it'll be another month or so but he said he would ask.  They have a new chief there now."

"Your old one probably got thrown out for allowing you to use her booking facilities for your old case," Tess smiled.

"That's not fair Tess.  Daisy's studying for her exams, I know that but if I can get the high school in Broadchurch to agree to let her take them there?  Then she can come back the odd weekend and holidays," he suggested.

"You mean turn the tables on me?" Tess wanted to know.

"This time's different Tess.  She needs this and she told me you don't have much sympathy for her situation.  It still bothers her you know?" he asked her.

"What do you want me to do Alec?  She was with me after you left here and it never bothered you," Tess argued.

"Who ran off with another man eh?  You think that helped?  I'm through arguing and Daisy is over sixteen, she can choose who she wants to live with and this is what she wants.  Don't make things difficult Tess."

"I'm not being difficult Alec.  If that's what she wants?  Try and keep her out of trouble there then."

"Is that all you have to say about it?" Alec dared ask.

"Well if you're taking her off, do me a favour and go have some nice photos taken of her, professionally, not from your camera phone and printed at the supermarket.  I want them suitably framed, well cardboard ones I can put into a glass one and some smaller ones I can give to my mother and one to put on my desk.  Can you do that?  I heard there is a new photography studio opened, not far from where you are and they have a special opening offer.  I picked up a card somewhere."

Tess went into her handbag and produced what to Alec looked like it was a little fancy for a new photo studio.  He took it and squinted at the print.  One side had red roses with silver lettering 'Red Rose Photography' plus the address and phone number and the other side giving the proprietor's name – Rose Tyler and the business hours.

"I will call and make an appointment then, I expect even with opening offers it will be expensive and some woman will expect a big order to qualify giving a discount," he huffed.

"Yes, well you can hardly blame anyone when they have a new business Alec.  Make it for next Friday afternoon after school or Saturday morning, Daisy can meet you there, I'll drop her off," she offered.

Alec shouted goodbye to his daughter, hoping she would agree to her mother's wishes of having her photo taken and not take it the wrong way that it was some kind of photo shoot to become a model.  He also hoped the studio owner, a Rose Tyler wasn't either old and would come onto him or too young to know what she was doing.  He made his mind up to call the number the next morning and hope for the best.

Chapter 2
The following morning, Tess informed her daughter she wanted some nice photos of her if she was determined to go back to Broadchurch with him.

"Mum, I'm not even sure I'm going yet," Daisy insisted.

"Well he seems confident you will, have you discussed it?" Tess asked her.

"Not properly, he thinks I'll do better at school if I leave it all behind but I won't know anyone at all Mum," Daisy told her.

"Well if you ask me, that's a good thing, really Daisy, why do you want to be friends with them again?  Why did you insist I kept most of it back from him?"

"He'd just got here Mum, I wasn't sure about him then," Daisy admitted.

"Yes, well, I suppose he's only got himself to blame for that but he wanted to make his peace with you, I suppose he made an effort?  Think very carefully Daisy, leaving town may not be the right thing to do."

"What do you want me to do Mum?  I can't just find a new set of friends here, can I?  I have to go to college, they won't forget easily," Daisy reminded her. 

"I don't know what else I can do Daisy, I tried my best to keep you from getting a juvenile record," Tess replied.

"That's the problem Mum, why they won't talk to me," Daisy tried to tell her.

"I give up, let your father sort it out for a change," Tess gave in.  "I still want photos, he'll call when he gets an appointment, a new studio opened near where he lives."

"Great, so he won't have far to drag me then?" Daisy asked.

Alec had some time to himself when he got to his office and brought out the card Tess had given him.  Why did she suddenly want photos?  There were a few school ones around the house even before he'd left and he'd spotted a few new ones on his recent visits, not that he went inside much.  He supposed some done properly wouldn't go amiss but why did he have to take her?  He dialed the number on the card, hoping miraculously they were fully booked.

Rose had been doing well with bookings, wishing she could afford someone part-time just to keep up with them but since most were using the online booking system she'd subscribed to, she hadn't had that many actual calls apart from enquiries as to if she did baby portraits. She swore she had already mentioned that on the website she'd proudly made herself. The calls for bookings she had taken on Friday, she'd easily logged in and made them while they waited.  

She was just setting up for the day, Mickey had persuaded her to invest in some professional background images and between them, they'd figured out how to take the images she took and once downloaded, put them onto the backgrounds.  She also had an arrangement with a specialist printers who would print them and set them in cardboard frames or onto canvas, for a price but when she'd worked out her prices, she'd made allowances.

Mickey had tried to persuade her to buy an expensive printer but she'd argued before he left she wouldn't have time to do it herself, the print shop had sent someone round with samples, which she'd displayed.  Before Mickey had left, he'd promised to come back and bring her mother.

"Mickey, I'm not sure I'm ready for a visit from my mother just yet," she'd told him as he was leaving.

"Well if she insists, I'm hardly likely to stop her, am I?" Mickey had asked.

"Where's she gonna stay?  You were uncomfortable on that sofa bed," she argued.

"Well you have a double bed, you can share," Mickey suggested, not keen on telling Jackie Tyler she couldn't come with him next time.

"Great Mickey, thanks for that.  Don't you dare go suggesting that to her.  Well maybe you can get a cheap hotel and I'll sleep on the sofa?" Rose wondered.

"Sure you can manage?" he'd asked as he zipped up his holdall.

So now, she'd just made a cup of coffee and had logged in to see what appointments had been made over the weekend when the phone rang, a withheld number, which to Rose suggested it was someone trying to sell her something or to make a claim.  Either that or they didn't want anyone ringing back.  She answered and was surprised to hear a male Scottish voice. 

"Red rose studio," Rose had answered cheerfully that Alec thought sounded a bit bright for five past nine in the morning.

"Yes, I want to make an appointment, preferably late Friday afternoon or Saturday?" he asked, without trying to hint the woman on the other end of the phone sounded too cheerful.

"Hold on, I'll just check," Rose replied.  "Is it for yourself?" she asked, hoping he wasn't a male model or anything.

"No, for my teenage daughter, I don't like having my photo taken," he replied, having enough the last time the local newspaper editor had taken it on the beach after an interview.

"Oh, sorry, it's usually mother's that make appointments for their daughters and the dad's have to pay," Rose replied.

Alec was now wishing Tess had kept the card and called herself.  The chance would be a fine thing, now he had to book the appointment and pay.

"So have you any appointments for either of those days?" he asked again, hoping she'd say no.

"How about Friday at four thirty?" Rose asked him, thinking maybe she could fit another one in.

Well it would be a rush and he'd have to leave early but he didn't want to mess around.  He wouldn't mind Tess being in a rush to collect their daughter and get her there in half an hour or so.

"Fine, she will have to come from school, is there somewhere she can get changed?" he asked, thinking Tess wouldn't want her in her school uniform, such as it was.  

He swore young girl's skirts had got shorter than when he was at school but Daisy would tell him that was in the dark ages – the 70's and 80's.  His teachers had despaired at him because he was unsociable but he wasn't one for getting into fights or joining in after-school clubs, he preferred to go home and write his comic-book stories.  He'd shown his teachers when he'd qualified to be a police detective, skipping being on the beat.

He snapped out of it as Rose was asking his daughter's name after saying there was somewhere to change.

"Her name is Daisy Hardy, she's almost seventeen and she is sure to object to posing," Alec answered.

"Oh, it's okay Mr Hardy, six month old babies don't want to oblige either, trust me.  I got plenty of them at my old studio," Rose told him, booking the extra appointment before someone else saw it had become vacant.

"You've had plenty of experience then?" Alec asked her, thinking maybe she wasn't new at this after all.

"Yeah, I worked for a studio in London, I've just branched out on my own but I don't normally tell people that," she admitted, wondering why she was telling a complete stranger but the name Hardy and Sandbrook rang a bell.

She thought she'd best not admit she knew the name and wondering if she was right – he was the detective that had finally brought an old case to rest and more recently let another killer walk free but she didn't expect he'd want to be reminded of that and he may cancel and choose another studio.

"Then I promise not to spread the word Miss Tyler.  It is 'Miss' is it not?" he asked, seeing people stare in his direction because he was on the phone and not staring at the computer screen.

Why was he even asking?

"Yeah, it's Rose," Rose felt herself blushing, not that he could see her.  "So, see you both on Friday or will her mother be bringing her?" she asked, remembering something about he was divorced and had been ill.

She thought it not so surprising since he'd been accused of losing evidence then it had all come out he was covering for an unnamed detective, probably his ex wife if she were to take a wild guess.

"No, her mother is the one who wants the portraits, I'm the one who will be paying for them," Alec admitted but surely it made no difference?

"Well just press the buzzer when you arrive, there's parking outside, hopefully all the spaces won't be taken at that time.  I thought having parking would be an advantage but it gets full of shoppers until around four.  Thanks for your call."

"Thank you for fitting her in that late, until Friday then?" Alec asked, hoping it hadn't sounded like he'd just made a date with her, not that he had any idea how she looked but she had sounded young and bright and not annoyed someone had rung instead of making an online booking. 

He'd just found her website while pretending to do some work to stop the others wondering what he was doing, since the card had the website in small print and he'd not had his specs on but anyone could have missed it.  Well he had but Daisy was forever telling him it was trendy to wear rimless glasses.

"Yeah see you both Friday and you can either pay upfront or a deposit but I only take card payments," Rose replied.

"Very sensible in these times," Alec had to admit, even though it was in one of the better parts of town, young women working alone had to be careful.

He thought maybe he could give her a few pointers to improve her security but that would mean he'd have to admit what he did for a living but even in London, she must have read about his infamous cases.  Still, she probably had security cameras and a monitoring service and he really shouldn't go barging in and telling her where she could improve, Daisy would only complain.

Rose hung up, wondering why he'd not booked online but there again, not everyone liked doing so.  She got ready for her first appointment, twins who were just nine months and she was glad she'd been to the market and picked up a few cheap toys to amuse her younger portrait sitters, as she liked to call them.

Alec hung up and sent a message to Tess, saying he'd meet her there since she'd implied she knew where it was.  He was surprised when she rung him instead of just texting back.

"So you took notice then?" Tess asked him, smiling at Dave as he passed by her office and motioning him inside.

"Yes, meet me there at four twenty and bring her a change of clothes unless you want her wearing her uniform?" Alec replied.

"Well it's a bit of a rush but if she leaves her things in the car I can just make it.  You'll have to finish early as well."

"I'm aware of that, I will say I'm following a lead," he snapped back, the chance being a fine thing since there were no urgent cases that required his attention.

He thought this place was worse than Broadchurch but it was marginally better than being stationed with Tess, who made him feel sick at the thought of her leering at he still married boyfriend all day.  Why his old chief had not split them up was beyond him.  He thought now was a good time to remind his current boss he was serious about a transfer back to Broadchurch.

He never thought he'd see the day he preferred the seaside town to where he'd made a home with Tess and Daisy but she needed a change of scenery and coming here had not been one of his better ideas.  Daisy was still shy of him though the last two weekends had gone reasonably well but suggesting she moved with him an hour or two away from her mother was a big step for both of them.

He got up and made his way upstairs to the chief's office and knocked on the door, still not being used to waiting when he'd just barged his way into Elaine Jenkinson's office but she was gone, probably for letting him get away with working while not declaring an illness and conducting an investigation from another police force in her town.  Well he wasn't apologizing for either.

CS Barton looked up from his monitor.

"Alec, have a seat.  Bored again?" Alec was asked.

"Better than being in the middle of another murder investigation.  I want to follow up on that transfer, did you look into it for me?" Alec replied, thinking he'd best be civil if he wanted out of here.

"Yes, I called the new chief in Broadchurch, though it seems she's been there a while.  Did you drive the other one out?" Chief Superintendent Barton asked.

The chief knew Alec hated being addressed by his first name, something he'd insisted on many a time while he'd been here.

"Since she left after me, I can hardly be blamed," Alec replied dryly.  "So, what did she have to say?"

"Well DS Miller is already back there, she got her old job back and a new DI took over, riding out his last few years before retirement it seems and he's due to leave within 4 to 6 weeks.  CS Clark was at a bit of a loss whether to put DS Miller back in for a promotion in view of what happened but when I suggested you wanted to go back, well she wasn't sure about that being a good idea either."

"For what reason?" Alec asked.

Since there were several good ones he could tick off, he shouldn't be that surprised she'd be reluctant.

Chapter 3
By Friday, Alec was climbing the wall.  He'd heard nothing back about his transfer, Tess had called several times to say Daisy was complaining about having her photo taken, saying she'd got over that in primary school so Friday lunchtime, Alec had to call her to say it had all been booked and it wouldn't take that long.

"Why does mum even want photos?" Daisy complained again.

"You know what she can be like," Alec reminded her.

"Have you even got your transfer yet?" she asked him.

"No, I'm still waiting to hear back but the DI who took over is retiring, who else would they give it to since I had the job before?" he replied.

"Your old DS?" Daisy smiled as she sat at a table outside the school.

"I doubt that, given the circumstances.  I will ask again on Monday but be there tonight, if I can't get that job, there will be others."

"I'm still not sure about leaving Dad," she told him as a few of the friends she still had left came towards her.

They were still her friends mainly because they'd been left out and felt sorry for her.

"I have to go Dad, does mum know where we're going?" Daisy wanted to know.

"So she says, don't make her late eh?" he suggested.

He hung up and decided to go drop a few hints to the chief to put a rocket under the CS in Broadchurch.

Rose had been having a good week.  Bookings had been constant, some had been taken up until the following Wednesday, she was taking Tuesdays off since Saturdays would be busy.  She had just finished with two boys who wanted to constantly push each other and was preparing for her final sitting – the Scottish man who'd phoned on Monday about his daughter.

She'd seen the detective's name and photos in the newspaper she'd looked up online, surely there was only one Scottish detective in the town with that name?  She could hardly ask him as he'd just be in the waiting area while the photos were being taken and only look at the backgrounds, if they wanted one.  She'd decided to charge extra for that since it took time.

Tess had huddled her daughter into the car outside the school, having to find an excuse to leave early and Alec had done the same after his meeting with the chief hadn't gone the way he wanted.

"I'm sorry Alec but she's just not made her mind up yet.  If I keep calling her, she'll think I'm trying to palm you off on her," his chief told him.

"Well tell her I'm volunteering for the job, if someone is leaving," Alec pointed out, since the man didn't seem to want to let him go.

"I'll try her again on Monday Alec but maybe the DI who's retiring hasn't decided when he's leaving yet?" the chief suggested.

"I need to make plans soon," Alec told him.  "Daisy will have to apply for college, I need time to get it sorted."

"I understand that Alec, I'll do my best," the chief promised.

So Alec was checking his watch again, waiting by his car in the parking area outside where the studio was.  He saw Tess's car approach but someone had just got the last parking spot so Tess stopped on the approach and Daisy got out, going in the back seat and coming out with a plastic carrier bag.

Daisy had been complaining her top she'd finally chosen to wear would be creased.

"Well blame your dad," her mother had told her on the way, hoping she wouldn't get caught in traffic with it being school home time.

"Well I still don't see why I need to have them done, are you going to forget what I look like?" 

"Don't be cheeky Daisy, I just want some nice ones if you're going to go stay with your dad," Tess told her.  "Your gran will want one as well, try to look like you're interested."

Alec stood away from the car as Daisy approached.

"Your mother was cutting it fine," he told her as she reached him.

"I didn't want to come here Dad," Daisy reminded him.

"So you keep saying, we had best not let the photographer think you have backed out," he told her.

He pressed the buzzer and waited.  He couldn't fault the woman so far with her security, no-one could blame her for keeping the door locked.  It wasn't a bad area really but you could never be too careful.  Rose was expecting someone shortly, whether he'd just drop his daughter and leave she had no idea, plenty of dads had been in with their younger kids but so far she'd had no older teenagers.

She'd grown up without her dad and the 'uncles' her mother had kept bringing home never showed that much interest in her being there.  So when the buzzer did finally go, she went to answer it, since the door was blacked out.

"Hi, who's there?" Rose asked as she always did, it could have been someone else she supposed.

"I've brought my daughter for an appointment, Daisy Hardy.  I believe you are expecting us?" a Scottish male voice replied.

"Yeah, come in," Rose replied cheerfully.

So it wasn't just a first thing in the morning cheerfulness then, he thought as the door buzzed and he opened it, allowing Daisy to go first.

Daisy looked around to see where she could get changed, Rose pointing to the curtained area in the corner where Mickey had put the rail up for her.

"So, has business been good?" Alec asked as she indicated for him to sit on the red sofa.

"Yeah, surprisingly.  It was a studio before I took over, I guess people already knew about it.  Did you see my website or did someone recommend me to you?" Rose asked as she got ready, guessing she wouldn't need the toys.

"My ex wife got your card from somewhere," Alec replied as Rose looked busy.

"Right.  Well help yourself to a drink Mr Hardy, there's light beer in the fridge or the coffee maker over in the corner, its not been there long."

Alec didn't really drink either but he preferred coffee since the car was outside and he had to take Daisy back to her mother's, since the arrangement was still for her only to stay one night.  Maybe he should start insisting she stayed Friday nights as well until they got moved.

"So you run this by yourself then?" Alec asked, at a loss as to what to say.

"Well yeah but I send everything to a print shop, there are some frames over there if you want the photos framing or they can put them onto canvas.  There's a folder and the prices are displayed and if you keep the reference number, they do photo gifts.  You'll get that with your order.  So are you wanting the photos on a plain background?" she asked, indicating to the backdrop.

"You have others?" he asked, wondering if there was a cord that brought down another curtain on the wall.

"Oh, they're done digitally, once you pick out the shots, I can show you them but that's extra, the price list is by the door," Rose replied, wondering what was taking the teenager so long.

Alec also noticed his daughter was taking her time.  He had to get used to having a teenager around.  Daisy finally pulled the curtain back, Alec questioning her choice of jeans and a white blouse but it was too late now, he doubted there were any spare clothes around the studio.

"Ready?" Rose smiled as Daisy sat on the stool in front of the silver backdrop.

"I suppose so.  Are all the photos going to be the same?" Daisy asked.

"We'll do a few different shots, see which you like best," Rose replied as Alec got up to watch, putting down the folder and taking his specs off.

Rose thought he sort of looked cute in them, though why, she had no idea.

"Then are they all going to be plain?" Daisy continued, determined to delay so there would be less time to take them.

"No, I told your dad, I can put them onto different backgrounds once you've decided which ones to use.  We can talk about that after.  Right, we'll make a start then?" Rose smiled, something telling her the girl was there under protest.

Twenty minutes later, Alec was looking at the various backgrounds Rose presented them, sliding through each one and Daisy picking out a wheat field with the sun shining through the stems.

"Good choice," Rose smiled at Daisy as her dad took off his specs, Alec wondering how much this was going to cost him.  

Before he knew it, Rose was listing their requirements, according to the sizes and the cardboard frames and he was shown the final price.  It wasn't as bad as he'd expected, a small price to pay for Tess not raising any further objections for him taking Daisy with him, wherever and whenever that was.

"So do I pay now or when they come back?" Alec asked, not sure if he'd already asked.

Rose was sure she'd already told him but maybe not, she didn't get that many people phoning for an appointment

"I only take cards – did I mention that?" Rose smiled as Daisy went to retrieve her school uniform, Rose thinking it was almost as bad as hers used to be – when she'd attended school.

That was why she'd gone back to college after taking a job at a department store that blew up one night just after she'd set off home, not being able to find the CEO, Wilson and left the lottery money with the security guard on her way out.  Maybe he'd flipped a faulty switch but she hoped no-one had been left in the basement.

Alec got his wallet out, thinking he may as well get it over with and pay for them.  The background had cost extra but since the woman went to the trouble to explain how it was done it was worth it.  He'd chosen some brown cardboard frames with gold edges for the two large ones Tess had wanted and a set of 4 smaller ones in various poses, hoping he'd get to keep one of them placed in white folding paper wallets.

Rose printed out his proper receipt after giving him one for the payment and she pointed out the reference number if he wanted more or some gifts, which he was sure he didn't want but didn't like to seem to be rude by not taking a leaflet with the prices on.  No doubt if Tess saw it, she'd have him ordering all kinds of things from a keyring to a mug.

He wondered why the woman didn't do the printing herself but being on her own, she probably didn't have the time.

"So, they'll be back by Wednesday," Rose promised, knowing she'd come to an arrangement with the print shop owner, Manny when she'd been to see him and told him she'd give him regular work.  "Do you want them posting or are you collecting them?"

"If you are still open at five thirty, I will call round," Alec told her.

She wasn't usually still open at that time but she supposed she could find something to do and wait for him, since the other customers that day wanted theirs posting.

"Fine, I'll expect you then," she smiled, wondering if he'd seen the opening hours on the side of the door but just assumed she'd make an exception for him.

"See Daisy," he turned to his daughter who'd sat herself on the sofa while she stuck her nose in her phone as her dad was chatting up the photographer.  "That was not so bad was it?" he asked as he pocketed the printed receipt, wondering if Tess wanted to pay towards them but doubting it.

"Suppose not," Daisy mumbled, getting up.  "Can we go now Dad?"

Rose smiled again, Alec thinking she must see that all day, awkward kids and teenagers who did not want to be there.

"See you on Wednesday then Mr Hardy," Rose told him as they walked to the door, Rose trying to indicate her opening hours but she was already late closing because she'd squeezed them in.

She had decided to open on Saturdays and see how it went though she'd only got two the following morning so far and since she was taking Tuesdays off, having made allowances with deliveries, she could do double the following day since the post office was only around the corner.  She wondered if the print shop dealt with sending orders out, she'd have to ask but they may charge more for it than doing it herself.

"Yes, I will try to be on time," he agreed, seeing the times and that she'd have to stay back but he was sure she had to tidy up and do other tasks.  

When they got outside, Daisy was standing by the car as he opened it.

"Dad, did you get anywhere with a transfer?" she asked him again.

"Not yet, the chief is chasing it up," he reminded her as they got in.  "Going home or your gran's?"

"Home.  If you insist I move with you, maybe I should stay over Friday nights as well?  We'd have to get used to it if I'm going to live with you."

"Yes, I was going to suggest that and maybe we could try over the Easter holiday weekend, come over Friday and I'll take you back on the Monday night?" he suggested as they set off.

He was surprised when she didn't tell him that was pushing things.  After he and Daisy had left, Rose decided to get the photos finished and sent the email containing the work off so there'd be no delay in getting them back with the others.  She didn't expect the man who'd just been in would be patient if the photos were late back.

Once they were sent, she went back to the search engine and typed in his name, since she vaguely knew who he was.  She had already found out about what had happened to two young cousins a few years back and how their killers had been finally caught but she was left guessing why the detective had decided to come back.  She could only assume he'd felt guilty about leaving his daughter behind.

The weekend came and went, Rose closing early and would decide on Monday if it was worth putting out available appointments for Saturday afternoons if they were going to be scattered.  Daisy's visit with Alec went well, they'd gone bowling on Saturday night, something they'd not done since she was ten.  Daisy had noticed he wasn't quite with it when they'd got back.

"Out with it Dad, what's wrong?" she asked him as they made a snack.

"Why should there be something wrong?" Alec asked, wondering himself why he felt different and it wasn't his health this time.

"You've been like this since I had my photos taken," Daisy remarked.

"Have I?  Been keeping an eye on me then?" he tried to smile.

"Yeah, it wouldn't have anything to do with that photographer would it Dad?" she grinned as they sat down.

Chapter 4
Alec looked at his daughter.

"What?  Why do you think that?" he asked, puzzled she could even suggest a thing.

"You want a list?" Daisy grinned at him.  "The way you were paying attention while she was taking photos of me and the way you let her more or less talk you into the frames you chose."

"You chose the backgrounds and shots," he defended himself, not wanting to admit she maybe right, he had easily gone with the woman's choices, hadn't he?

"Yeah, I'm surprised you let me though.  So, what do you have to say for yourself Dad?" she asked cheekily.

"Nothing, why?" he asked innocently.  "Just because she suggested something I agreed with does not mean I was distracted by her, not then and not now," he tried to bluff but if he admitted it, he had got the woman to agree to wait for him on Wednesday so he could collect the photos.

Why had he even suggested she stayed behind after she had in a subtle way pointed out the opening hours, which showed him she closed at five.  What was she doing fitting them in at four thirty then if it meant working a bit later?  Had he sounded desperate enough she'd taken pity on him and she'd squeezed them in?  He supposed he could have gone on Saturday if she'd insisted she closed at five.

He wondered if so far she'd done it for anyone else?  Daisy was staring at him again.

"Come on Dad, it was more than that, why do you think I waited for you to finish talking to her?  Well say it's nothing then, time will tell," she replied.  "So what are we doing tomorrow?  Can we go to Portsmouth to do some shopping?"

"Why there?" he asked, finishing his tea.  "What's wrong with the shops in the town?"

"I see them all the time, I wanted a change.  So is Broadchurch a big place then?" she asked hopefully.

He thought if she was bored here, he just hoped she wouldn't get there and demand he took her back.  If his chief didn't hurry up, there would be nowhere left to rent, the holiday lets would be all booked up and he'd have to get an unfurnished place.

Rose had got finished early and gone shopping and was quite pleased with herself she'd actually made a profit and had some money to spend.  She'd got the studio and flat above for twelve months then it was four weeks notice after that, should she decide she needed a bigger studio.  She still wasn't in a position yet to take someone on for Saturdays but since the bookings had so far been dismal, it wasn't like she needed anyone urgently.

She called her mother the next day to say how her week had gone.  Jackie Tyler wanted all the details.

"Yeah, it's been a good start Mum," Rose was telling her mother.  "You'll never guess who I met the other day?"

"Gone on then, who do you know who lives there, have you made any friends yet?"

"No, I've not had the chance Mum but I was gonna tell ya, that detective from the murder case here a few years back, the one who solved that other boy's murder as well.  He came into the studio with his teenage daughter on Friday."

When her mother started asking questions, she knew she'd made a big mistake in mentioning it.

"Mum, he was only here for about half an hour," Rose insisted when her mother asked when he was coming in again.

"Well is he collecting the photos himself or getting them posted?" Jackie wanted to know.

Rose finally got away with saying if he came in again she'd be sure to ask him what had brought him back to the town but she'd already guessed that.

Monday, Rose was waiting for the delivery from the printers, having the card-backed envelopes ready so she could get them done between sittings.  Alec was in his office pretending to be working on something though he was actually looking up the retiring DI who'd taken his job over to see if it mentioned anything.

His boss was on the phone to the chief in Broadchurch when Alec had given him a funny look earlier at the morning briefing.

"Sorry to bother you again but I've had Alec Hardy asking me what's the position down there," he told the Broadchurch chief.

"Well, the DI concerned is just waiting to hear when he can officially leave," he was told.  "What's DI Hardy's hurry then?" she asked.  "He could have come back, so I was told, once he'd passed his medical."

"He came back for his daughter I believe, so he mentioned which is why he's keen to go back, with her apparently.  She had a bit of trouble and he wants to give her a fresh start," his chief explained.

"I see then.  Well as soon as I get to know, I'll get back to you but you know his reputation?" she reminded him.

"Yes but he was forgiven for not declaring his illness, I let it go and I would have thought any chief would, considering it almost killed him bringing in two other killers from his old case.  So can I give him some assurance his name will go forward for the job?" he asked hopefully, to get Alec off his case.

"Well since he knows the area and the people here, I'll give him first refusal then, he could still change his mind since DS Miller is still here," CS Clark told him.

"Then I'll pass that on to him, he wants to sort things out for his daughter to start college though I suspect he's already started making enquiries."

"I heard he's not one to delay things," CS Clark admitted.  "Very well, if he still wants the job when the other DI leaves, it's his pending any objections from the chief constable."

"I'm sure the chief constable will be pleased you got someone to take over with the minimum of fuss," CS Barton told her.

He finished the call and sent for Alec.

"So the job's yours if you want to wait Alec," he told him as Alec sat down.

"Then I will start making plans, I can wait.  I can get onto the college there, I still have some contacts who can point me in the right direction," Alec replied.

"Such as Ellie Miller?" the chief smiled.

"Well her and a few others and I have the number of a letting agents, I can get everything in place and once I get a date I can give notice on my place here.  I'll get onto personnel and leave the finances to them."

With that news, he could now tell Daisy and Tess something definite.  He wasn't that bothered that his chief would now have to find a replacement for him but there were a few DS's due for promotion, they would jump at the chance.  By four thirty, Alec was fidgeting in his seat again and getting up, put his jacket on and called his DC over.

"I'm going to check on something," he told Sandra Hunter, who drove him almost everywhere when the need arose, not that he'd been out much lately and she wasn't as annoying as Ellie Miller, though they'd sort of made their peace before he'd left.

"Again Sir?" she smiled.

"Meaning?" he asked, wondering what excuse he could come up with this time, he was always using Tess or Daisy, everyone was used to him by now.

"See you tomorrow then Sir but can I just say something?"

He raised his eyebrows.  "If you must," he replied, looking at his new 'smart' watch Daisy had persuaded him to buy that had a fitness 'app' and a heart rate monitor, which was her way of saying he should still be careful.

Sandra looked around, everyone pretending to be busy.

"You've been like this all day Sir, is there something wrong?" she dared ask.

"What makes you think something is wrong, DC Hunter?" he asked indignantly but he'd have done the same had someone on his team been acting funnily, which if he admitted, he must have seemed a little odd all day.

Why was he feeling odd?  Was it what Daisy had teased him about the other night?  No, he'd only met the blonde photographer the once and talked to her on the phone and now he intended getting to her studio before it closed to see if Daisy's photos were by any chance back early.  He knew it was doubtful but on the off chance they were but what then?

Sandra brought him out of his daze.

"I know you've put in for a transfer Sir, it's all over the office.  Are you that anxious to leave?"

"Is nothing sacred around here?" he huffed, knowing this was delaying him and Miss Tyler would already have left by the time he'd driven there at this rate.

"Sorry Sir but yeah, there's talk.  Have you heard anything yet?" she asked him, seeing him looking like he wanted out of the place as soon as possible.  She wondered why he'd even come back in the first place but didn't expect to ever find out.

"Then you will all find out when I do Hunter, now I have to be somewhere and I am being delayed.  Tell your friends if they start a bet when that will be, there will be trouble."

Sandra smiled again.  "Yes Sir, I'll put a stop if I hear of such a thing and who will be your replacement."

"You do that.  See you tomorrow Hunter," he almost smiled back at the dark-skinned around his age woman.

She looked around, grinning as everyone watched him leave.  When the door closed behind him, he knew his leaving early again would add more fuel to the fire he couldn't wait to leave and was finalizing  his plans to do so.

"Back to work everyone," DS Mills, who was odds-on favourite to take over when Alec finally left, not that they thought he ever wanted to be there in the first place told them all.  "You heard what he said, no bets, unless I'm included."

"Sir, if you ask me, that's going to be soon, I've never seen him this jumpy all the time he's been here.  Do you know why he never went back to his old station when he was declared fit for duty?" Sandra asked him, knowing everyone wanted an answer to that.

"Like he said, we can't speculate that's the reason why he's been acting oddly all day.  Maybe he found out he's got his transfer but doesn't know exactly when?" Barry Mills speculated.  "So, who's taking the bets?"

Alec got to the car park and thought about calling the photography studio instead of hoping to catch Rose but what would he say?  Should he just say he wondered if they'd come back early, given she was closed on Tuesdays?  He had looked at the opening times when she'd hinted at them on his way out and made a note that was why she'd said Wednesday for the photos to be back.  He didn't expect it took too long to do them since they were only being put in cardboard frames, Tess could choose her own fancy ones, she'd only scoff at his choice.

He drove towards his flat then towards the shopping area, seeing a space where he'd parked on Friday, the blue painted studio with the shutter still opened at two minutes to five but he expected to see her either come out and pull it down or press a button to do it automatically.

There were shops either side of the studio, one being a general store and one a bakery, then a gap and several other various businesses but if she were to see him and he lost his nerve, he could say he was getting basic groceries, which wasn't really a lie since he needed some bread and teabags with Daisy's weekend stay but there was a shop nearer where he lived.

He got out of the car and headed for the grocery store as Rose came out to pull the grill halfway down while she finished off, just in case the stray parent wanted to make enquiries.  She saw Alec heading towards her and stepped outside of the studio doorway.

"Hello Mr Hardy, your photos didn't come back today, sorry," Rose apologized.

"No worries Miss Tyler, I was just going in the grocery store on my way home.  I did not think they would be back today," he lied, in case she thought his visit wasn't really about groceries.

"See you Wednesday then?" Rose smiled as she stepped back in the doorway and half pulled the grill down.

He watched her go back inside, noting the buzzer and intercom were still accessible.  He went in the store and got what he wanted, annoyed he'd had to pay for something to put the loaf of bread and teabags in and Daisy had told him to keep some carrier bags in the car for such occasions, she said he could provide the shops himself with the amount he had in the kitchen cupboard.

The grill was still halfway down so he took his things back to the car, put them on the back seat and stood leaning on the car roof.  Should he go press the buzzer and make up some excuse he'd forgotten to ask her something?  Either that or could he change his mind about what frames they were in or order an extra one?

Rose was just finishing sending her final order for the day, she liked to do them as she got them and didn't know if the printer wanted them all at once, she'd have to phone and double-check.  She turned off her laptop and unplugged it and took it to the security cupboard, her camera and other valuables already inside and locked it.  She was just checking everything was turned off when the buzzer sounded.

Since she had to go to the door anyway, she pressed the answer button.  She wasn't that surprised to hear a Scottish male voice on the other end, since she'd just seen him outside.

"Yes Mr Hardy, can I help you?" Rose smiled to herself as Alec got up the nerve to say her name.

Alec then lost his voice as he thought of a suitable reply and a reason why instead of getting in his car and driving home after she'd told him his photos hadn't arrived, he'd locked the car and found himself pressing the door buzzer.  What was happening to him?

Chapter 5
Rose thought he'd changed his mind and gone back to his car.  He must live nearby if he was using the store next door or just happened to be passing and thought he'd call in.  She called out again, pressing the talk button.

"Are you still there?" she asked, wondering whether to just open the door since she was leaving anyway.

Alec snapped out of his trance.

"Yes, sorry for disturbing you Miss Tyler but I just wondered if I could talk to you for a moment?" he got up the courage to ask her finally, thinking the woman would probably just open the door to see if he'd gone or not.

"Well I was just leaving but yeah, come in," Rose replied.  

What did she have to hurry home for anyway?  Maybe she should get a cat to keep her company since there was a grassed area and paving behind the shop, which was how she got to her flat via the steps at the end.

She buzzed Alec in and stepped back, allowing him inside.

"Was I disturbing you?" he asked, wondering why she hadn't told him to come back tomorrow since that was when she'd told him and how did he think they'd be back so soon after the weekend anyway?

He'd told himself he was justified in asking, there was no reason why they wouldn't be back early, was there?

Rose indicated for him to sit down but he remained standing near the doorway, Rose thinking he wanted a quick exit if she told him off for being impatient.

"Well I was just going home but never mind.  Sorry, I switched the coffee maker off but there's some light beer in the fridge," she offered.

"No, I'm fine.  I was wondering if maybe I could order an extra large photo or is it too late?" he asked, wondering how he could justify disturbing her.

"No, I said there was a reprint number on your receipt but since they're not back yet, I can just email them and get another one printed off," Rose replied, though she hadn't planned on sending any orders on her day off.  "It might be a day later though," she added.

"That's no problem, I thought I may as well get one for myself without my daughter thinking I was going soft," he admitted.

Well it was as good an excuse as any he supposed though what Daisy would think was anyone's guess.  She may well think he'd gone soft and ask why he needed one since she was meant to be going with him but if she changed her mind about going with him when he told her he had something definite, he would need it.  He looked around and noticed her laptop was gone.

"When would you want payment?" he asked.

"Oh, well you can pay when you collect the others Mr Hardy," Rose smiled, knowing now she'd have to retrieve the details to send it off, it was a good thing she could access her account from her home laptop and hoped she could find his order.

"It's Alec but I suspect you already know that?" he half smiled.  

He didn't have to be a detective to know why she'd fitted him in at a more convenient time and was staying back for him to collect his photos.

"Sorry, I did recognize you when you came along the other day and I'd already thought there couldn't be that many Scottish men in the town with the same name," Rose smiled.  "Please, call me Rose."

Alec thought that had been a giveaway, he was probably the only Scottish person in the town, well almost.

"I was not trying to hide who I was, Rose," he told her, breaking his rule of using first names except for family and close friends, not that he had many these days, unless Ellie Miller was counted and he'd not relented to use her first name even though she'd solved his old case with him.

"I never said you were," Rose grinned, doing that thing she did when she got nervous of poking her tongue out slightly.  "I'll give you a discount though you should have ordered it with the others to qualify, Alec," she told him, breaking her own rules of a discount if three were purchased at the same time.

"Then I thank you, Rose for the offer.  Well, I should let you get home, do you have far to go?" he asked, hoping to sound casual.

"No, just upstairs.  The flat came with the studio, I got a good deal," she admitted, seeing he would be disappointed if he was going to ask if she wanted a ride home.

She got up from the sofa, wishing he'd sat down as he leaned against the wall.  She still hadn't decided if she was going to get the walls plastered where there was still bare brickwork but she kind of liked it.  Tomorrow she was going to print out her own photos she'd taken in London of buses and taxis plus maybe a few other things like the London Eye and some phone boxes and was going to the discount store to look for a set of A4 size frames and some photo quality paper.

She thought if people asked about them, she'd consider selling copies.  She knew she'd also have to get some photo hangers at the same time and was glad Mickey had bought a few tools and left them in the other cupboard.  That would keep her occupied tomorrow.

Alec was looking at her and offered to press the buzzer to open the door.  Rose smiled again and indicated which button to press, since his finger was hovering between the door release and the talk button so as she turned out the lights, she let out a laugh.  He let it go as the door was released and he opened it, offering to let her out first, the door locking behind him.  She thought it made a refreshing change from Mickey, who had no manners whatsoever and she'd often despaired at him for his lack of social skills.

As they stepped outside, Alec offered to pull the grill back down as Rose had rolled it back up and he waited while she locked it.  He was about to let her walk off but stopped her.

"Rose, would you care to get something to eat?" he asked, seeing a takeaway across the road with some seating at the window.

Rose didn't take much persuasion since she'd be cooking for herself again.  She missed her mother's company, she'd definitely benefit from some other company who didn't want to tell her about their kids being photo shy or Mickey talking about football.

"Yeah, I'd love to, I was just gonna make myself something, probably chicken," she smiled as Alec checked the car as they passed, wondering if it would be okay.  Rose saw he looked worried.

"It'll be fine," Rose indicated to the sign that said no overnight parking.  "Residents park around the back but no-one will bother, even when the shops close.  People going to the takeaway use it."

Alec gave her a smile, was he that worried about getting a parking ticket, the wardens finished at six but it depended if it was a council or private car park.  He hoped there were no hidden clamping notices, not that he planned being there too long.

They got their orders and found a table by the window, Alec getting tea and Rose orange soda with their meals.  Alec was again at a loss what to say, he only ate out with Daisy, who was usually going on about everything and nothing at the same time.  She saw he looked nervous.

"So Alec, what brought you back to Sandbrook then?" she decided to ask, since her mother also wanted to know.

"My daughter, for one," Alec admitted as he ate his chicken fillet sandwich, which was more dignified than getting his hands greasy with chicken pieces, which to him were a bit of a waste.  "I was at a loss what to do after the trial was over of my last case and I decided to try to make up for leaving her.  She seems to have finally forgiven me.  So, I'm not the only one who is far away from home then?"

"Me?" Rose smiled, taking a drink.  "I wanted to go out on my own, I spent a long time learning the photography business and it was too expensive to stay in London.  I looked around at a few places and this isn't that far away from home really but a lot cheaper a place to live.  The studio was ready to move in to, people remembered it even though I changed the name."

That out of the way, they ate in silence, Rose staring out of the window.  Alec got up and put all their litter on the tray and Rose got up to leave.  She thought if he felt awkward, so did she.  They crossed back over the road and reached Alec's car, Alec wondering if hers was the flat directly above the shop.  He doubted she was going to point it out though.

"See you on Wednesday then?" Rose asked him for the second or was it the third time?

"Yes, I will let you get back to what you would have been doing," he had to agree.

He watched Rose walk around the corner before going back to his car.  Since when did he get all tongue-tied with a woman?  He'd often told Miller she constantly over-compensated.  Rose let herself into her flat, wondering what had just happened.  She and Mickey had been over to the takeaway a few times after their arrival but Mickey had never stopped talking.  She just saw him drive off as she got to the window, Alec having waited until she was out of sight, wishing he'd had the courage other than to ask her to get something to eat with him.

Rose thought that Alec Hardy had been shy to say the least, to say he'd probably driven out of his way to visit the store, if that was the real reason?  Was he trying to chat her up she thought as she shook her head and switched on the TV and tried to get the idea out of her mind.  At least it was sort of her day off tomorrow but she'd still be sort of working to brighten up the studio and order the extra print of Alec Hardy's daughter for him.

She had to smile at the thought he'd only decided to order another on the spur of the moment, as an excuse for being there.  He'd probably half expected to see her leaving as he'd been going into the store next door, that much she'd gathered earlier but now she knew for definite he'd driven back down the road towards the town.  She didn't need his detective skills to work things out.

Alec had driven back home, retrieving his few groceries from the back seat and still wondering what had come over him to invite her to get something to eat with him then hardly say a word after establishing why they were both in the town.  He was certainly lacking in the art of talking to women apart from those he worked with or those he was interrogating.  

Now, he was expecting her to give some of her day off up to order an extra print, which he had no idea how he was going to explain to Daisy he'd ordered.  No, Rose wouldn't be thanking him for that, would she?  Why was he even calling her that so easily?

He called Tess to say that things were beginning to fall into place for the move but she had sounded less than pleased about it.

"I'm not sure I want her to leave Alec," Tess admitted.

"We've talked about this Tess.  She's unhappy here, we both know that," Alec told her.

"I know but now it's starting to happen?  What if she can't settle?" Tess asked him.

"She can't settle here Tess, that's the whole point of taking her away," Alec replied.  "Tess, let's not argue about this, we should do what's best for her."

"Don't you lecture me about what's best for Daisy," Tess snapped at him.  "You could have made more of an effort after you solved the Broadchurch murder."

"Why are you even bringing that into it Tess?  You know now I was ill back then, Daisy was barely talking to me and neither were you, seems you have forgotten that eh?" he snapped back, rubbing the back of his head and wondering why he was bothering.

He shuddered at remembering telling her he missed her as he'd admitted he was going for heart surgery the following day.  He'd already known what the answer was going to be.

"It's always the same with you Alec," Tess began telling him.  "Now you're taking her away, getting your own back on me for not telling her it was me who lost that evidence, even when I told you, well you know what I told you the day before your pacemaker operation and you took it as a sign I wanted you back."

Alec wasn't that surprised.  "So you never meant it when you said you loved me for taking the blame then?" he asked, relieved now they'd never tried to make a second go of it, if it was going to make them fight again.

Now they just tolerated each other for Daisy's sake and to get two killers and an accomplice locked up.  Now all that was over, she was showing her true colours.

"I'm not going into that with you on the phone Alec.  Fine, if you want to go ahead and go back to Broadchurch, then make your plans but I don't want to know about them.  Just make sure you bring her back once in a while so I don't forget what she looks like, like you probably did."

Then she wondered why he'd been reluctant to tell her of his surgery, he knew the answer when he'd asked her if it would have made any difference had she known.  Now he just had to convince Daisy she was doing the right thing by making a fresh start in a new town.  That he would face tomorrow after she got out of school.

The next day, Rose accessed her account with the print shop and ordered Alec's extra photo then set off to get the bus into town to get what she needed for the studio.  She decided to splash out and get a taxi home with her purchases and opening the studio but pulling down the grill, set about printing out her photos.  She'd just got some nice gold painted frames and was soon starting to hang them up, pleased with her efforts.

While she was doing that, Alec was trying again to get on with some work, trying to cover up the fact he couldn't get Rose Tyler off his mind.  When he went to collect his photos tomorrow, he needed to apologise for being quiet last night and admit he'd gone out of his way just to get to see her when she'd told him earlier that day his photos hadn't come back but what would she think if he admitted such a thing to her?

Chapter 6
Rose had finished what she was doing and caught up with her paperwork, well what to send off to the accountants anyway, which could all be done online since she'd thought it a wise move to engage the services of one.  She was watching some late afternoon TV, one of her favourite American detective shows when her mother decided to call.

"So, did ya find out what that detective's doing in the town?" her mother asked her.

Rose thought she could have given her a chance.

"Not really, just his daughter lives here Mum," Rose could only tell her.

"Well I suppose that's a good enough reason," Jackie agreed.  "So did ya make friends with him then?"

"Mum, I only met him once and again last night, he was going into the store next door as I was leaving," she admitted, already regretting it.

"So he lives near you then?" her mother wanted to know.

Jackie knew Rose and Mickey would only ever be friends now, whatever they had was long since over so if a now single detective was in the same town as her daughter, well Rose could do worse than taking up with him.

"So when's he coming to the studio again?" Jackie continued.

"Tomorrow," Rose had to admit, mainly to keep her mother quiet.  

She saw no need in telling her he'd have to call back for a hastily added extra photo, she'd never hear the end of it.  Just before five, she found herself getting up and standing by the window to see if his car pulled into the car park but why would he be there again if he knew the studio was closed?  She made herself sit down, she was making a mountain out of a molehill of him calling at the store.  

He could have chosen the store for numerous reasons such as there may not be one near where he did live although she recalled passing a few down the road towards town or it may have been closed.  She knew she had to stop this, after he picked his photos up she'd either not see him again or he'd find excuses to keep calling in but that could either mean she wouldn't get rid of him or she'd get used to it.  Did she want him to keep calling in though?  That was the ultimate question but he was just another client, wasn't he?  

Alec finished work and he'd resisted going past where he lived and calling at the store near the studio, it was her day off and if she'd been ordering the extra photo he'd decided to order at the last minute, she would have done so first thing.  She had no reason to think he'd be hanging around again would she?  Had she got suspicious last night and thought he'd made a point of going out of his way despite him knowing his order wouldn't be back?

He got in and decided to call Daisy to tell her things were moving along with leaving town and going back to Broadchurch.  He'd looked up the rental agency's website and noted a few rentals still available but with not having an actual date, the choices had been limited.

He could only hope some were left or some new ones would come available but at least there was the caravan park nearby, he could take one for a few weeks until they got sorted.  He got in and decided to call Daisy while he thought she'd still be around instead of studying or out with the few friends she had left, after what had happened.  He was still annoyed Tess had left it all until she'd dealt with the problem, did she think he couldn't handle it?

"Hi Daisy," he greeted her as she answered.  "Has your mum told you I should get a date for my transfer soon?"

"She mentioned something last night.  So it's really happening?"

"Yes, as soon as I get a final date, we can make our plans but I'm going to call the college down there tomorrow then I'll have to call your present school and inform them," he told her.

"Don't you trust mum to do it?" Daisy asked him.

"She's not keen on you leaving now the time's near," he had to admit.  "Daisy, why did you never come to me when you got into trouble?" he asked, never being given a proper answer.

"Mum told me not to say anything, she said if you'd not been here, she would have had to deal with it anyway.  I wanted to tell you Dad."

"I know you did but by the time I found out, well I expect she dealt with it how she saw fit.  So, I looked for somewhere to live though we may have to take a caravan for a week or two, it will just be like being on holiday."

"Yeah Dad, with you working," Daisy managed to laugh.  "That's just it though, we won't be on holiday, will we?"

"Daisy, your mum works too you know?" he reminded her.  "I may not have been here but I always asked about you every time I spoke to her but I expect she never bothered telling you?"

"Leave it Dad, you're here now," Daisy told him.  "So, see you on Saturday then?  Are you collecting the photos tomorrow, only I want to give one to gran."

"Yes, I will have them tomorrow," he agreed, not wanting to admit he was getting one for himself.  "Are you not staying on Saturday night?"

"Yeah, I'll take it to her on Sunday Dad.  Why, got a date or something?" she teased him.

"No, don't you go starting that again, I am just picking up the photos, nothing more," he tried to convince her and himself.

"If you say so Dad, though if you think you're fooling me?" she asked him.  

He knew she was right, who was he trying to fool?  Yes, he would go collect his order tomorrow and try to apologise for being quiet last night, then he'd have an excuse to call the following evening, hoping his extra photo wouldn't arrive at the same time, well it had better not be there.  Still, there was no reason why he couldn't find a excuse to go back, if he lost his nerve and didn't ask her out for more than something to eat across the road.

He manage to resist the rest of the evening from getting in his car and driving down the road on the pretence of calling at the store again.  She may be looking out of the window and think he was doing it intentionally, though she was probably already on to him and seen through his little plan of trying to catch her before she left last night, even though he had not intended driving there until he'd been almost at his street and driven straight past.

The next day was no better for either of them after a restless night.  For Rose, she hoped if she sat by the window he'd pull up and see her, since she'd not indicated where she lived last night and for Alec, he wished he'd waited until he'd had some indication which was her flat before driving off.

Rose had a full day ahead as she opened and prepared for the sittings, plenty of young kids and babies again who were not quite of nursery age and she checked the bookings to see a few more had booked on Friday afternoon and into the following week but Saturday still hadn't gone beyond one.  She figured people had other things to do and maybe the other studio owner had closed on Saturday afternoons so she'd give it another week and then take the appointments away after twelve and just open in the morning.

By lunchtime, Alec was counting how long it was before he could justify leaving early again.  He'd convinced himself that he shouldn't keep Rose after hours just waiting for him to collect his order and since almost everyone in the office had been expecting him to sneak off early again last night, he didn't want to disappoint them two days in a row.  His DC had given him a funny look whenever she'd got up and he wondered what the betting was now.

It had gone from if he was going to get a transfer to who guessed who the unlucky chief was who he'd worn down to take him, unless the CS at his old station had been unlucky enough to have that pleasure.  DS Mills was favourite as he'd been convinced Alec missed his old work colleague whom it had been suggested they'd been having an affair.

When Alec went for his lunch, trying to resist the urge of going where he'd taken Rose on Monday night, which was really out of his way, DS Mills had announced he was bound to win the bet.

"No way Sir," Sandra had told him when everyone looked at him.  He shushed everyone as they started to agree with her.  "Sir, he never even talks about her," Sandra continued.

"Yeah, of course he doesn't," the DS told her.  "That's why he wants to go back, he still misses her.  We'll see who's right," he scoffed.

"Sorry Sir but how are you going to do that, he won't admit it," Sandra reminded him.

"We'll see Hunter," he replied smugly.

Sandra went back to work, there was no way Hardy would ever admit the real reason he wanted to leave, she could only think it was because things weren't going well with the reconciliation with his daughter and he'd finally admitted defeat.  Either that or she was going with him she supposed.

By four in the afternoon, Alec was once again climbing the wall, trying to convince himself Rose would stay open until he got there, since she was still there the other night just after five and he could justify leaving at half four without too much fuss.  How he'd managed to drive straight home last night, he didn't really know and he'd spent most of the evening regretting it.

Once he'd collected his photos, he only really had one more excuse of collecting the extra one then what would he do?  He'd have to come right out and ask her out, properly, not to the fast-food chicken place though everyone started somewhere but he couldn't even hold a conversation for thirty minutes, let alone take her out for a proper meal.  He told himself to get a grip – she may not even want to see him again after tomorrow, since he'd made a nuisance of himself and given himself an excuse to call round an extra day.

Rose was finishing with her last sitting, a cute six month old baby girl dressed in a pink and white dress who had been giggling and trying to crawl away.  She let the mother and baby out then started tidying up, leaving the coffee maker on in case Alec wanted a drink but she remembered he drank tea the other night.  She had prepared his invoice for the extra photo, giving him discount and hoping the accountants wouldn't question it.

Just before five, Alec had made his excuses, causing everyone to start laughing at his futile attempts to cover up the fact he either was chasing a woman or he was packing to leave, the favourite now being the first.  Sandra was still trying to defend him for some strange reason.

"Come on Sandra, what's he been like the last few days?" Maria Bates, a young civilian secretary asked her.  "I tell ya, he's got a woman stashed away somewhere and he's sneaking off to meet her from work or something."

"Well he didn't leave early last night," Sandra reminded her, wondering why she was defending the DI when all he did was complain about her driving and she'd had to stop herself suggesting he drove around on his own in future.

Maybe she would once they found out exactly when he was leaving.

"Well maybe he didn't want to give the game away?" someone laughed.

"You lot got nothing else to do?" DS Mills asked, making himself a coffee in the break area.

It had taken Alec twenty minutes or so but it was only ten past five and he found a parking spot.  Would he be brave enough to ask her out properly, maybe Friday night, before he completely blew any chance she might be interested in him?  Daisy had almost seen through his reason for asking if she was staying on Saturday night, she was on to him.

Rose was sitting staring at her laptop, waiting for the buzzer and Alec's arrival.  She felt all funny, like she was nervous and excited all at once but all she could think about was she wouldn't maybe see him again after tomorrow, unless he went into the store again, which was very unlikely.  If he'd wanted to ask her out, he'd have done more than take her across the road and clam up after ten minutes of small talk, wouldn't he?

As if she wasn't expecting the buzzer being so loud, she jumped as she heard it and almost toppled the chair to go answer.  She thought she'd be careful, just in case it either wasn't him or she'd sound too keen.

"Hello," she answered, trying not to sound like she was bring too enthusiastic about it. 

"Hello, it's Alec Hardy, you were expecting me?" he asked hopeful, as if she didn't already know it was him at this time – she was being as coy about this as he was and maybe it was time to do something about it?

Rose pressed the talk button again.  "Yeah, come in, I'd not forgotten," she replied, smiling to herself.

Alec noticed the tone of her voice as he heard the door being released.  How could she have forgotten when she'd told him at least three times she'd see him today?

"Hi again," Rose smiled, trying to hide behind the sleeve of her pink hooded top whilst leaning on the corner of her now tidy desk, the laptop open.

"Hello again, Rose.  Hope I haven't kept you waiting?" he asked, knowing full well he had but she'd been willing to do so.

"Nah, I had some work to do, like preparing your invoice for the extra photo, which will be back tomorrow.  I can post it, if ya want?" she offered, wondering if he'd be willing to offer his address, not that she'd have the nerve to go around or anything.

"I would not want to put you to any extra trouble Rose," he smiled.  "I can finish early tomorrow, I can be here for around ten to five, save you waiting," he offered, getting out his bank card as Rose offered the card reader to him and pressed the key to print the invoice out.

"Yeah, great.  So, here they are," she tried not to blush as she picked the package up and he took them, touching her hand in doing so.  "Hope you like them?"

He took the plastic bag which Rose had passed to him and glanced at the top one then opened the bag to see it properly, the two large ones being identical so Tess and her mother couldn't argue who had the best one.  He supposed he could have taken one of the four smaller ones, had he not been so bothered she'd think he was hanging around on purpose the other night, which he had been really.

"These are really good," he told her, opening the four smaller ones.

"Thanks, glad you like them, I've never had any complaints," she grinned, settling back on the desk again.

"I'm sure you haven't Rose," Alec had to agree.  "So, I will be back tomorrow then you will finally be rid of me."

"Aw, don't say that," she smiled.  "You've been one of my best customers."

"Really?" he asked, thinking she was just saying that.  "You've had worse?  I mean those coming around before the photos were due back?"

"I post most of them Alec.  I only get a few parents who pop in while they're shopping or getting their kids from school, then I think they get embarrassed while the kids are fighting while they look at them," she replied, seeing he was getting distracted looking at the walls.

"Did you also take those photos?" he asked.

"Yeah, when I worked in London, well of course they're of London," she laughed.

Alec had to smile back.  If he wasn't quick enough, she'd meet someone else and that would be that so he told himself to get a move on and ask her out but since she was working, where else would she meet anyone?  Well maybe expect men coming into the studio, as he had done and taken an instant shine to her.

Chapter 7

Alec took another look around, there were no security cameras visible but maybe she'd think he was forever on duty if he were to mention their absence.

"So, I'll see ya tomorrow, for your other photo?" Rose asked, since it was time she went home, not that there was any rush she supposed.

"Yes, tomorrow then?  Like I said, you will be rid of me then," he smiled, folding the plastic bag.

Rose wondered why he thought she'd be glad to get rid of him, he was the one who'd clammed up the other night.  She knew he was stalling but maybe she was just imagining it?

"I was wondering whether you would maybe like to go out on Friday night, for a proper meal?" he finally asked as she turned her laptop off and unplugged it.

"Oh, right.  Yeah, that would be nice, I don't go out much really, being new around here.  I think there are a few pubs up the road that do meals," Rose replied.  "On one condition though," she teased him.

"What might that be?" he asked as she locked everything away then switched off the coffee maker.

"That maybe you'll talk a bit more?" she smiled, turning around.

"Yes, I apologise for that but I am really only used to talking to a teenager while eating.  My daughter usually does all the talking, I just nod," he smiled back.  "I believe that's what all dads do with teenagers?"

Rose stopped on her way to the door, following him out.  He turned around since she wasn't beside him at the door.

"Rose, is something wrong?" he asked, sounding concerned.

"What?  Oh, well it's just I wouldn't know, my dad died when I was a baby," she had to admit.

Alec walked back to where she was standing and touched her arm.

"Then I am very sorry to hear that, I had no idea that was the case.  Some of my work colleagues talk amongst themselves about their teenagers, that was all I meant."

"It's fine Alec, you weren't to know.  It's like getting tons of junk emails about buying presents for father's day, they don't care you may not have one.  Sorry, I'm just rambling."

"Rose, I lost my mother when I was a teenager but I got to spend a lot more time with her than you did your dad.  Mine's still up in Scotland, he moved to a remote island to live with my aunt.  We don't communicate very much," he admitted, realizing he was still touching her arm.

He gently rubbed her arm and then moved his hand.

"I try not to let it get to me," Rose told him as he went to open the door.

"I'm a good listener," he smiled as the door was released.

"You don't want to listen to my problems," Rose smiled as he offered to pull the grill down.

"Well it seems I'm a better listener than a talker," he smiled back as she offered the padlock to him she had in her hand when he pointed to it.

"Well, the offer is there, you may not see me after you accept my invitation, you may get tired of doing all the talking," he warned her as they stepped away from the studio.  "So, is that your apartment just above?" he asked, pointing up at the purple blinds.

"Yeah, how'd ya guess?" Rose grinned.  

"Since it's over your studio?" he suggested.

"Okay, I'll give ya that one," Rose laughed as they turned back, Alec's car a few feet away.

Alec was stubbing his toe on a stone, thinking of something to say back when he thought he would either put her off altogether or show a bit more interest in her before someone else did.

"So, is there anywhere else to get food around here apart from across the road?" he asked, since he didn't fancy going home and making something.

"The Chinese at the end there," Rose pointed.  "They do a mean mushroom omelette and the chips are gorgeous, I keep meaning to go back."

Alec saw his chance.  "Then maybe now is the time, if you are hungry?"

She only nipped out to the bakery for lunch.  "Yeah, I only take half an hour for lunch.  They should be quiet at this time, if ya wanna wait?"

"Then after you," he gestured, now seeing the familiar yellow sign most takeaways had.

"You're taking it home or eating in your car?" Rose teased him, something she was liking.

Alec thought she was trying to find out how far away he lived and if his visit to the store had been justified the other night.

"I will take it home unless I get a better offer?" he teased her back as they crossed the roadway to the other part of the shopping area.

Rose thought she could take a hint.  "Well I suppose I could offer you a drink to go with it?"

"Then I accept, if you don't mind some company?  You did say I had to make more of an effort to talk?" he replied as they reached the takeaway and Alec got his specs out to read the menu in the window.

"Don't fancy the omelette then?" Rose smiled, thinking he looked cute wearing the rimless glasses.

Alec had long since given up being vain about wearing them.

"I find some of them are not to my liking," he replied, wondering what the difference between an omelette and egg fu yung was.

"I said they were okay Alec, some are thin and flat but these are nice, they put onions in and fold it around the mushrooms but I can never eat a whole one, my friend came down to help me set up, we shared," Rose told him, not wanting to elaborate too much and send him running.

"When you say friend?" he dared ask.

"My ex, we're still friends.  He's back in London, you're safe," Rose grinned as he took his glasses off and folding them, put them back in his top pocket.  "Mind you, he got most of it."

Alec wondered why he'd suddenly thought he may have a rival.  "Care to share then?" he suggested, since she'd invited him back to eat.

"Why not?" Rose smiled as they entered.

Alec left it to Rose to order but offered to pay so while they waited, they sat on the window seat.

"Rose, you wait here and I will go to the store and get a bottle of something?" he suggested, hating waiting around for food.

"Yeah, how about some sparking wine?  That goes with anything really and not really alcoholic."

"Sure, I will go and you can wait for me on the corner?" he asked.

"Yeah, you get to my flat behind the shops, there's some steps and a balcony," she told him, not fancying waiting on the corner since residents would be coming home, those that didn't work there.

"Fine, I will find you if you are there before me," he agreed, heading for the door.

He walked back to his car and put the photos on the back seat, face down and wondered why he'd not done it before going in the takeaway but his suggestion had been spontaneous, like going to the store the other night in the hope of seeing Rose.  He knew she'd been trying to find out where he lived, he'd not offered his address since he wanted to collect the photos so he now had an unfair advantage.

He looked around to see if Rose had got out and not seeing her, went into the store, going to the drinks section and finding a non-alcoholic wine and picked up a box of chocolates on his way to the checkout.  As he was getting served, Rose had collected the order and started walking back, hoping he wouldn't change his mind and drive off but it had been his idea.  She could have refused or made him eat in his car but that would have got her nowhere, he had invited her out on Friday night after all.

She saw Alec coming out of the store and waved and he waited on the corner for her to catch up.  She led him around the back of the shops and up the steps, stopping at her door.  Alec took the plastic carrier from her as she went to open the door, some letters behind it.  Rose glanced at them since most of them had no actually address on the front, not that anyone would be writing to her about the studio when she had a business address.  She'd also noticed Alec had something under his arm.

He followed her into the kitchen, putting everything on the round table next to her letters she'd thrown down.

"For you, for inviting me in," he smiled, offering her the chocolates as she went to get some plates and glasses.

"You paid for the food," she called back at him as he took the carton out after trying not to let the chips fall onto the table.  

He put them on the red chequered tablecloth as Rose came back to the table.  He helped her dish out the food, seeing she had a point about large portions, there was plenty for both of them and he opened the bottle and poured out the drinks.

"So, no talking about teenagers or dads then?" Alec smiled as they ate.

"Yeah, bad subjects.  My mum said I was a rebel when I became one, with not having anyone to stop me," Rose told him.

"I let her mother bring her up from the age of twelve, we were fighting and I moved out.  Then we got divorced, a case fell apart and I then moved away," Alec admitted, thinking he may as well get it out of the way.  "So why Sandbrook of all places?"

"I looked around, this had the potential since it had only recently closed," Rose admitted.  "So you came back to make up with your daughter?  Did it bother you, since you must have left for a few reasons?"

"You mean letting a killer walk free?" he asked, raising his eyebrows as he took a drink.

"You got them in the end, I looked it up yesterday," she admitted.  "What brought you here in the first place then, you're a long way from home?"

Alec never really talked about his reasons but Rose seemed interested.

"Maybe I should leave that so I have something to talk about on Friday night eh?" he replied.

Rose saw his point since she had given him a hint earlier she expected him to talk to her if he took her out again.  She smiled across the table at him, Alec taking it that she agreed it would give him something to talk about.  The meal finished, he offered to help clear up, he'd already taken his jacket off before he'd sat down.

"So, you think your daughter will be pleased with her photos?" Rose asked as he washed the plates.

"I doubt she'll be wanting one," Alec admitted.  "One is for her mum, one for her gran and the others, her mother will probably take one to work to put on her desk and the others for various relatives of hers."

"Good thing you ordered another then?" Rose smiled as she picked up the cutlery and Alec went to dry his hands.  "Was that your intention when I saw you the other night?"

"Truthfully?" he asked as he crossed back to the kitchen chair to retrieve his jacket.  He thought he'd best not overstay his welcome.  "Well you took me by surprise when you came outside, I was going to press the buzzer and just ask if by any chance the photos were early."

"So you lost your nerve when you saw me?" Rose grinned, resting on the chair next to him.

"Not exactly, I thought if I came out and asked you, you'd get annoyed and say it was too early and you'd told me when they were back," he admitted.

"Thought I did?" Rose laughed, tipping the chair slightly.

Alec saw the funny side, resting his hands on his jacket and moving one to stop her falling as she recovered.  He raised his eyebrows and saw now the difference he'd made to Daisy.

"Yes, well I never was one for taking any notice of what I was told.  So, why did you think I was there?"

"When you pressed the buzzer when I said see ya on Wednesday?" Rose grinned, trying not to tip the chair again.  Alec nodded, going back to leaning on the chair.

"That maybe you were apologizing for being a bit keen?  That or you, I don't know, needed your photo taken," Rose teased him, poking her tongue out slightly at the side of her mouth.

"Why would I want a photo of myself?" Alec tried to ask seriously.  "My daughter does not need reminding of what I look like, her mother however seems to think she needs reminding what her daughter looks like."

"Aw, I'm sure that's not the case Alec, if you asked her?  It was Daisy wasn't it, her name?"

"Yes, though before I came back she did not seem to know I existed, well until she got a reminder," he replied, remembering Daisy suddenly took an interest when she found out he'd gone back to his old case.

"So I can't tempt you then?" Rose asked him, deciding she was asking for trouble tipping the chair since he was watching her.

"You would be wasting your time Rose," he smiled, finally going for his jacket.

That made Rose move away from the chair.

"I'm sure you have better things to do Rose?" Alec asked her, putting his jacket on.  "Enjoy your chocolates and thank you for making me welcome."

"It was nice to have some company.  I was thinking about maybe getting a cat, since there'd be no point getting a dog," she admitted.

Alec was wondering why half the male population in the area weren't already making a move on her.

"Yes, cats tend to look after themselves, so I've been told.  See you tomorrow then?  Thank you again, I may go back to the takeaway again at some point but Friday, I will look up places to go, if you still want to?"

"Yeah, I said it would be nice to actually go out.  Friday's fine Alec," Rose assured him.

They walked to the door and Alec opened it, going out onto the balcony.

"So, residents park down there?" he nodded to the row of cars and saw an empty spot.

"Yeah, some cheat and try to take mine, I told them good and proper it was my space, even though I don't have a car, I pay for it," Rose told him.

"I can see your point Rose," Alec smiled as she joined him at the railing.  "Your friend may pay you a visit?"

"Yeah, Mickey's a bit spontaneous, I should tell him to give me warning if he's gonna visit, especially if my mum gets him to bring her as well."

"You need warning if your mother is going to visit?" Alec joked.

"Oh, trust me Alec, if you met her, you'd know why," Rose giggled.

"Thank you for the warning," he smiled, taking her hand and kissing the back of it.

"Night then.  See ya tomorrow, for your photo," Rose reminded him, blushing slightly as he held onto her hand.

"My photo?" he asked, sure he'd made it clear he didn't want it taking, well maybe not yet.

That depended on Friday night, if he needed another excuse to pay her a visit or if she took more than a liking to him as he had done her.

Chapter 8

Rose saw the worried look on his face and covered her own, trying not to laugh.

"I meant to collect your other photo, Alec," she assured him.

That was a relief to him.  "Yes, sorry.  I was sure I told you I did not require my own photo taking just yet."

"Just yet?" she asked hopefully.

"Well there may come a time I suppose, not that I can think of one just yet," he tried to not sound like he was saying no full-stop.

"Right.  Night then?" Rose replied, wondering why he was taking his time again.  

He was about to turn to go down to his car when she called after him and he turned back.

"Since you'll be calling for your photo tomorrow, maybe I can cook something for you, well maybe not at that time but you could come back?  Since you took me out the other night and bought the food tonight, I mean as a thank you?" she asked him, leaning on the doorframe.

"That's most kind of you Rose.  Since I will be going home to cook for myself, then I accept your invitation.  I will collect my photo and give you time to prepare something then," he agreed.

He thought why not?  She hadn't yet run away from him though after Friday she may do, if he got up the courage to ask her out further and tell her he could be leaving town in a few weeks time.  Until then though, Rose would be pleasant company, if she agreed to continue seeing him without him making up excuses all the time.

"It won't be much," she added as he was about to turn again.

"I'm sure it will be fine, don't go to any trouble," he half blushed at her going to get something special to impress him.

"I'm sure I can find something.  See ya around five tomorrow then, yeah?" she asked him.

That agreed, Alec went off back to his car, seeing Rose's space was empty and maybe when he came back tomorrow night, he'd park there as a warning to her neighbours to tell their visitors not to use it.  Rose went through to the lounge and watched him drive off.  She'd been worried he was just stringing her along, he'd made two excuses up to come round and she thought he was going to do nothing about it but going out on Friday with him would make a nice change.

As Alec got home, he decided he should come clean with her, well after Friday, since he may not have that problem after then.  If she wanted to see him again, he had to make it clear Daisy came first on Saturdays but he'd wanted her to start staying on Friday night as well but since she'd been teasing him about Rose, she may accept Rose coming around for a meal to see how they'd get on.

He wished he'd dared asked her for her personal phone number, he'd not offered his though but maybe tomorrow they may exchange them.  Rose was tempted to call her mother with the latest development but thought she'd see how they got on tomorrow night – he may not like her cooking and there wouldn't be much to tell.

The next morning, Rose decided to go to the store early and get some pasta sauce and some desert for Alec's visit but as she was going to take her shopping back, a blue car passed her going towards the parking area and as she got to the corner, the car was in her space, even though there was clearly a residents only sign.  Rose waited as the man got out and she didn't know him.

"Hey, that's my space you know?" Rose called to him indignantly, pointing to the sign since he'd covered the painted number on the ground.  "This is residents only mate, use the front car park."

"Don't see a car there love or I wouldn't have parked there, would I?" the man replied as he bypassed her and headed to the other block.

"Hey, move it mate or do I call the police?  Actually, no, I'll just call my friend, he's a detective and he'll send someone.  If ya visiting someone over there, park it their spot."

"Come on love, it's just a parking spot, no big deal," the man laughed.

"Then move it or I'll follow ya and tell the person you're visiting I'll report them to the landlord," Rose persisted, thinking this was going to make her late, since she had things to do.

Just then, a woman leaned over the other railing.

"Hey, Carl, what's going on?" the woman asked.

"I don't know, ask your picky neighbour, she told me off for parking in her spot," the man replied.

"Tell your friend to park in the other car park," Rose called up.  "If ya don't. I'm calling the landlord, I pay for that space, I don't know you or him so he moves or I make the call."

"Geez, chill love, I'll move, if there's any spaces at the front but you can't blame anyone if you don't have a car parked there," the man huffed, getting his car key out and pressing the remote button.

"Well my friend won't be pleased if he comes round and you've taken his space, trust me," Rose huffed back, thinking it unlikely but she'd not been expecting him on Monday night either, he was more spontaneous than Mickey was.

She went upstairs, put the shopping on the table and the dessert in the fridge and went back out, as the man was going up the other steps.  She thought she'd call the rental agency anyway to complain, though she didn't expect they'd do much about it.  Now though, she'd told two people Alec was a friend, she just hoped he wanted to do something about it because she found herself wanting to.

As she got to the bottom step, the man called over to her.

"Happy now?  I wasn't staying long."

"Well I never know when he's coming round, he's liable to call a traffic warden and give ya a ticket," Rose warned him, not thinking Alec would but she didn't know him that well – not yet anyway.

She got around to the studio, looking at the no overnight parking sign but seeing nothing that gave a time limit.  She doubted wardens would come around late at night to check but residents may complain to the council if a car was there at an early hour.

She had just finished with her first sitting when the buzzer sounded that the man from the print shop had arrived, it was that time.

"Hi Rose," he greeted her as she let him in.

"Hi, sorry, you never gave me your name," Rose grinned as he made her sign for the delivery.

"It's Steve, I've been coming for a while now," he laughed.  "So, you settling in then?" he asked, looking at the photos on the wall.  "They brighten the place up," he added.

"Yeah, some of my earlier work.  I really have to get these ready for posting," Rose told him as he turned away from them.

"You should sell them, give us more work," he grinned.  "Do you fancy maybe going out for a drink sometime then?  Since you're new to the area?"

"Sorry, I'm seeing someone already, we met last week when he came in," Rose replied, well she was sort of seeing Alec, if all went well.

"No worries but if you change your mind?" he asked, going for the door buzzer.

As he left, Rose thought that was three people she'd told before her mother, it would be all over the town before she got around to telling her at this rate.  Still, Alec may want to make nothing out of it but she didn't fancy Steve like she did Alec.

Everyone noticed Alec again, he hadn't been in quite as bad a mood the last few days and rumours were running riot around the office that he most definitely had got himself a girlfriend and DC Hunter had been elected to find out.

"No way, I'm not asking him," she'd told everyone when they looked at her before Alec got there.

"Well he talks to you more than he does any of us," someone called out.

"Who does?" Alec asked as he walked in and went to make a drink.

Sandra thought if he was so clever, he'd work it out.

"Nothing Sir, morning," Sandra muttered as she went back to work.

"I should hope not either and you lot, I told you not to bet when I was leaving.  You could get far worse than me," he told the office in general, looking at Mills.

Sandra had to stop herself from laughing as Alec went in his office.  Last week he would have bitten everyone's heads off.  Alec decided to leave it until Monday before annoying his boss again about his transfer.  He'd just met Rose and now he had to tell her he'd only be here another six weeks at the most, once the other DI got to know when he was leaving.

Did he still want to go?  Daisy needed a fresh start and Tess was beginning to start arguing again even though he was in better health.  He couldn't go through that again even for Daisy to stay here but she was unhappy about moving out of the safety of the school and catching up with her so-called friends who'd got her into trouble.

By the time he could sneak out again, he'd heard nothing about his transfer and the CS must have been relieved he'd not asked about it, the CS would surely think he'd either changed his mind or he'd found a reason to delay and wasn't in that much of a hurry to leave after all.  Perhaps he wasn't now he'd met Rose?

Rose had done her post and had it ready to take down the road, which was why she only got half an hour for her lunch, less if the post office was busier than normal, then she had to buy something and eat it later.  She went out just before twelve and saw the car she'd told the driver of it to move earlier and smiled at her small victory but some other prize idiot would try it at some point.  She got back and entered the bakery, the woman she'd argued with earlier being served so Rose tried to ignore her as another assistant asked what she wanted.

"You didn't have to tell him to move," the woman goaded her

"It's the principle of it," Rose replied.  "He could have parked in front and walked around, he looked like he was able to.  Think yourself lucky I've not called the agency."

"Well you don't have a car," the woman continued.

"What's wrong now?" the older woman behind the counter asked as she came back from making her sandwich.

"Oh, just non-residents having the nerve to pinch someone's parking spot," Rose informed her as she chose a pastry.

"Everyone knows, it's resident's only," the woman agreed.

"Well she doesn't have a car," the resident repeated for the other woman's benefit.  "She says her friend parks there."

"Well visitors can use the spaces with the resident's permission," the other assistant joined in.

Rose thought for a newcomer, she was getting defended against an older resident.

"Well I have a car but I don't live above," the older assistant informed them as Rose paid her.  "I use the front."

"You're stopping shoppers then," the argumentative resident continued as she got her change.  "Which is why my friend came around the back in the first place," she huffed as she picked up the white paper bags and walked out.

Rose burst out laughing.

"You can't win with people like her dear," the older woman told Rose.  "How are you settling in?"

"Fine, apart from meeting her," Rose managed to reply.

She wondered if she should get a traffic cone and leave it there then wondered if Alec could sneak one out for her.  

Alec was just leaving around four thirty when the chief entered his office.

"Alec, I got a call from your ex-wife earlier, asking when your transfer was going to be."

"What?  She didn't want anything to do with the arrangements I was making," Alec told him.

"Well I told her it was up to you to inform her, not me.  So, she's that bad is she?" the chief asked, feeling sorry for Alec.

"She has her moments," Alec replied, trying not to make it look like he was sneaking off again.

"Has it put you off for good then?" the chief asked, looking like he was staying.

"Off women?  No, I just met someone actually though it's early days yet," he admitted, thinking the chief had been elected to find out or he'd started the rumours.

"Not early enough you've been finishing early though?" the chief questioned him.

"I had to go collect some photos my ex wife insisted I had taken of our daughter and the studio closes at five," Alec told him.  "I have an extra one to collect, I cut down on my lunch break to make up for the time," he added.

"Then don't let me stop you," the chief smiled, getting up off the corner of the desk.  "So if you met someone, does she know you're leaving?"

"Not yet, she may get tired of me before then anyway.  I still want the transfer," Alec replied, putting his jacket on.

"I know, maybe you're getting it for the wrong reasons though?" the chief asked him as he went to the door.  "Don't let your ex wife drive you away.  You came back for your daughter, not for her if I recall?"

"Yes and I don't want my daughter to see us arguing again," Alec replied, thinking Rose would now wait for him anyway.

"You think getting a new girlfriend is going to change things?" the chief wanted to know.

"Maybe?  She accepted her mother's married boyfriend," Alec replied, knowing it wasn't a secret what Tess had done.

"Then have they met?" the chief asked, thinking that should be fun.

"Yes, my daughter has met her but Rose has not agreed to be my girlfriend yet.  Like I said, it's in the early stages," Alec admitted, thinking it was a good thing Rose was used to him being late.

"You sound confident she will be," the chief told him.  "I've heard the bets that are going around, put a stop to them one way or another Alec.  I know you can't settle the when you are being transferred one but stop the one where it's about you having a girlfriend or not."

"Then if you let me go, Sir, I will go collect the extra photo I ordered of my daughter to put on my desk," Alec told him.

"How's that going to stop the rumours?" the chief wanted to know.

"Because my prospective girlfriend is the one who took it – she's the photographer," Alec admitted, hoping no-one had heard him.
Chapter 9
Alec thought there – he'd admitted he was pursuing Rose and he could be forgiven for the pun she had captured his mended heart.  He wasn't yet going to admit anything to those in the office, let them guess a bit longer but he'd put a stop to the betting.

He stood in the doorway as the chief walked off and waited until everyone looked up.

"The chief super is not happy about you lot betting as to if and when I am leaving or now, that I have a girlfriend," he stated as the last one put the phone down.  "Hunter, who started the betting?" he put poor Sandra on the spot.

"That would be me," Mills spoke up.  "It's not betting if no money's changed hands Sir, it's just a bit of office gossip."

"Really?" Alec asked, crossing his arms and thinking he'd keep Rose waiting even longer now.  "Well keep it that way Mills, you're in line to get my job when I do go so don't screw it up.  As for the other part, I have made a friend but she has not yet agreed to be my girlfriend so nothing has happened yet, not that I'll tell if something does.  It could go either way, now get back to work."

Sandra dared to follow him into his office as he put his jacket on.

"Sir, I didn't start those rumours, just so you know but you have been different the last few days and everyone's noticed," she told him.

"I never said it was you who started them Hunter, since you’re my DC, I would have thought you would know who did?  If you must know, I am in a better mood because my daughter agreed to go with me when I get my transfer," he admitted.

"That's good news sir," she replied.  "If you are leaving and you're thinking of asking this woman to be your girlfriend, well that puts paid to that, doesn't it?"

"Does it?  She's not my girlfriend yet, we've only met a few times.  I am taking her out tomorrow, she will probably run."

Sandra stood back as Alec passed her, nodding for her to close the door.  As soon as he'd left, DS Mills leaned on his desk.

"So much for that then?" he asked.  "Who's in line to win anyway?"

Alec drove towards Rose's studio, having to bypass the town centre and hoping it wouldn't be busy as he took the exit home then drove past his street and wondering why he was still in denial.  He hoped they could make something of it but Rose would probably tell him she couldn't get involved if he was leaving in a few weeks.  He thought if she wanted a long-distance relationship, she would not have agreed to let him take her out if she'd left someone behind.

Rose didn't know why she was getting nervous as she pulled the shutter halfway down since it was well after five.  She knew Alec would be able to reach the buzzer when he did arrive, as he'd done before.  She also knew this was getting to be a habit of her waiting for him but she sort of liked it and he must be sneaking out early to avoid being even later.

The photo was all ready for Alec, he'd paid for it so she'd put everything away except for her main camera, hoping he'd change his mind about letting her take some.  She thought if he saw the camera, he might take the hint.  She almost jumped again as the buzzer sounded.

He spoke before she had chance to.  "Hi, it's Alec," he spoke up, not that he usually introduced himself other than Hardy or DI Hardy.

"Yeah, come in Alec," she told him as she pressed the button, smiling as she remembered he'd almost gone for the wrong one the other might.  "Hi," she greeted him as she saw him half pull the grill down after him.

Rose had been thanking the previous occupant it was a light-weight grill, not one of the heavy ones or she'd never have managed.

"Hi, I got held up as I was leaving, sorry," he apologized, looking around again at no visible cameras because it now bothered him she was working alone.

"Something wrong?" Rose smiled as she picked up the photo of Daisy.

"No.  Well maybe the lack of a security camera?" he dared ask, thinking she'd tell him to stop being a detective.

"Yeah, I should get one maybe?  I've no idea about them though," she admitted.

"Then maybe I could point out a few things?  You only really need a webcam and place it on the wall, if you get a wireless one.  Your laptop should pick it up if you have an in-built camera or it will come with software.  I'm no expert but I could ask someone and maybe help you?" he suggested.

Rose thought he was definitely still trying to still find excuses to pay her a visit even though she'd invited him around later and he was taking her out tomorrow night.

"Well I could go ask at the store and tell them what I want it for but I could use some help setting it up?" she smiled.

"Then I would be happy to do so," he smiled back as he took the photo.  "Are you ready to leave, only you have left your camera out."

"Oh, I thought you might change your mind, about having your photo taken?" she grinned.

"I had enough of that Rose, being in the newspapers and the last time I posed, the Broadchurch Echo was doing an article about me just before the Joe Miller trial, some time ago.  I told you, there is no reason."

"What if you go back and leave your daughter here?" Rose asked.

Alec wondered if he should just admit it, then she'd tell him to forget about later and their 'date' tomorrow night.  Did she consider it as a date as such though?

"If I were to leave, I would hope she would go with me, things are not going so well for her here," he admitted.

"Sorry, it's non of my business.  I was always in trouble when I was her age, trust me."

"You had no-one around Rose, I left before she was a teenager, her mother had her own ideas of raising her.  She's also a police officer and if not for that fact, Daisy would have been in serious trouble.  The friends who got her into it have not forgiven her and are making it difficult for her," he admitted, thinking it not such a good idea to go into further details.

"Sorry.  Sure I can't tempt you for a photo?" she smiled, crossing to the camera.  "I could take it but not get it printed, then if you change your mind?"

Alec put Daisy's photo down on her now tidy desk.  He knew she wouldn't stop until he agreed.

"Well okay then, just take one and keep it somewhere, if I ever leave without my daughter, she can ask you to print it out," he relented.

Rose smiled and indicated for him to sit on the stool and moved the chair out of the way.

"I don't need a background either," he continued as he fastened his top button and adjusted his tie but Rose stopped him.

"Take the tie off Alec, it's not an ID photo," she joked.

He unfastened the tie again and two shirt buttons and ran his fingers through his hair.

"You should have given me some warning Rose," he smiled as he perched on the edge of the stool and thinking he was almost as bad as Rose had been with the chair.

"Where's the fun in that?" Rose replied, looking through the viewfinder to get the best angle.

Alec shook his head and tried to look like he wanted to do this.  If it had been anyone but Rose, he wouldn't have entertained the idea.

"Just keep looking away from the camera if it helps?" she suggested as she took a few shots to see the lighting was right.  "Don't look so nervous."

"Easy for you to say.  Are you still cooking tonight?" he asked nervously.

"Yeah and you'll never guess what happened this morning when I went back to take my shopping before work?" she asked him.  Alec shook his head.  "Some bloke had the cheek to drive past me and park in my parking bay.  I gave him a right telling off and the woman he was visiting had a go at me in the bakery at lunchtime," she continued, cutting a long story short.

"Did you get him to move?" he asked, wondering if he'd have to come back to the front car park later.

"Yeah, he moved, he was still there at lunch time and he said he wasn't staying that long.  He had the nerve to say it was only a parking space," she told him.  "Right, I'll download these to my laptop, come and take a look."

He'd not realised she'd finished as she took the small digital card out and placed it in the card reader.  He got off the stool and joined her, leaning on the back of her chair.

"You take good photos Rose," he smiled, getting his specs out of his pocket as he stared at a dozen or so shots, all of him looking more relaxed than he'd actually felt.

Then he remembered back to when Daisy had been in and Rose had kept her talking and realised how she worked, getting people to not actually think they were posing.

"Works every time," Rose smiled.  "Try telling two year old twins not to move or two older boys not to push each other, I just let people be natural."

"I see it works," he had to agree as Rose labelled the folder as 'Alec' without his surname.

He thought she must intend remembering him even if their date tomorrow night ended in disaster but she'd probably just delete them.  She closed down her laptop and went to put it away with her camera.

"Seriously Rose, go get a camera and I will put it up for you on Monday.  I'm surprised your friend did not install one for you," he told her.  "What if men come in on their own?"

"Like you?" Rose smiled.

"That's not the point Rose.  You could get a student who fancies his chances or someone comes back on a false pretence."  Then he realised that could be him and saw Rose looking at him then bursting out laughing.  "Okay, yes, I am guilty of coming back under false pretences but you see what I mean?"

"Yeah, I get it.  The guy who delivers the photos came in again this morning and asked if I wanted to go for a drink with him," she admitted as she turned off the coffee maker.

"You took him up on his offer?" Alec asked worriedly, thinking he maybe had a rival.

He shouldn't have been so surprised he was the only one trying to make a play for her.

"Nah, I told him I was seeing someone," Rose smiled as Alec opened the door and she switched off the lights.

Alec felt his mended heart skip, something he'd forgotten what it felt like.  Had she left someone behind after all or had someone been in and beaten him to it?  If so, what was she doing eating out with him and inviting him back tonight?  He watched her after he pulled the grill down and took the lock.

"I see then?" was all he could think of.  "So is it wise you inviting me to eat with you again?"

"What?  Oh, you took it the wrong way Alec, it was just a polite way of telling him I wasn't interested.  What did ya think I meant?"

Alec wasn't sure what she meant.  "That you are already seeing someone?  What else?  Have you already met someone?" he had to know before he made more of a fool of himself.

"What?  No, geez Alec, I was just tryin' to get rid of the guy and besides, I only meant I was sort of seeing someone."

"Sort of?  What does than mean?" he asked, still confused what she actually meant.

"Well you went to get something to eat with me the other night and came back to eat with me last night, so I suppose we're sort of seeing each other or did I get it wrong?" Rose replied, aware they were still outside the studio.

Alec let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding.  "We are?  I mean yes, we have met a few times these last few days," he admitted, not daring to ask if she considered them seriously.  "So if that means seeing each other than yes, I suppose we are and no, you did not get it wrong, well not on my part."

"Good, glad we sorted that out," Rose smiled.  "I should go start dinner, if ya still coming?"

"Yes, most definitely," Alec agreed, relieved he'd not already told people he might get Rose to be his girlfriend before establishing she wasn't already seeing someone.

He was about to say he'd see her later.

"You could come up now, if ya wanted?" she asked cautiously, not sure where exactly they were going with this.  "There's still some wine from the last night left."

"Then maybe we should make use of it but I can only drink a little.  So is your parking space empty?"

"It had better be or I'm gonna order a traffic cone and put it there for idiots who drive past the resident's parking only sign," she grinned.

"Maybe I can help with that?" he smiled as they walked to his car.  "You go ahead and if the woman from earlier is looking out then all the better.  Is that car still here?" he asked, looking at the few cars that were left and hoping to call a traffic warden to put a ticket on the offending vehicle.

Rose shook her head.  "It's gone but next time I might let his tyres down, not that I'll admit anything if asked."

"Rose, he will guess it's you.  I could always ask the traffic division for a police one and say someone is parking illegal in my parking space," he suggested, leaning on the car roof.  "I will just not say it's not where I live."

Rose giggled.  "I don't think he'll bother again but if I'd let him stay there, others might get the same idea."

"Then they can see my car and you waiting for me to show your consent to it being there," he suggested.  

Rose set off around the corner, Alec driving slowly past her and into the marked parking space.  Rose walked up to the car and waited behind it, dying for the woman from earlier to be looking out of her kitchen window.

"I told that woman someone would be parking here later," Rose told him as he locked the car.  "Now she'll have to believe me."

"Did she think you were just saying that?" Alec asked as they walked to the steps.

"Probably but she made the mistake of confronting me in the bakery, the two assistants agreed with me.  Never mind, he'll think twice next time," Rose smiled as he let her go first.

As Rose let them in, Alec was already planning on getting a police traffic cone just to prove a point.

"Mind you," Rose continued as he followed her inside.  "I did tell her I wouldn't bother calling the police and said I already had a friend who could send someone round."

Alec raised his eyebrows as Rose put water in the kettle.  "You did?" he asked.  "A friend?"

Alec was hoping that maybe after tonight if he stayed a bit longer and not thinking he was overstaying his welcome, they may become a little more than just friends because he planned at the very least to kiss her for the first time and find out exactly where he stood with her.  

As if she read his mind, Rose was thinking she hoped he'd at least try to kiss her and establish they were seeing each other and just hoped she'd not been presumptuous in fending off Steve from the print shop, who wasn't nearly half as cute as Alec was. 

Chapter 10
A/N – the next few chapters will contain an element of a song Rose likes and will lead to them to getting closer

Rose switched the kettle on.  

"I thought we'd established that?" she smiled.

"Well yes, I suppose we have then.  So you considered me a friend even though we had only sort have gone out twice?" he dared ask as he took his jacket off.

"Well yeah but I suppose it just came out when I got mad over my parking space," she admitted as she put teabags in two mugs.

"Remind me to get you that traffic cone then?" he joked.

Well Rose thought he was joking, she couldn't tell if he was or not and he'd taken it seriously that she'd told a bloke she was seeing someone and he thought she meant someone else and not him.  He wasn't the only one who was confused.  What had started out last week as fitting him in late was becoming something else.

"So, hope you're gonna like my cooking and not have to resort to going to the takeaway again?" Rose joked back.

"I'm sure whatever you make will be fine Rose.  I could have gone home first."

"Well it's not really worth it, have you far to go?" Rose asked him.

He knew she'd been trying to find that out since Monday.

"Not far, just down Dorchester Road, though why it's called that when it's nowhere near the town," he admitted.

"I suppose at one time it might have been a good idea?  Loads of streets and roads are nowhere near any of the towns they're named after.  I saw a programme set in Wales and there was a Filey Road," she laughed.

"You have a point.  You've been trying to find out since Monday if I went out of my way to go to the store below and I've already admitted I did.  I was not trying to avoid giving my address but I saw no need, it was easier to collect the photos."

"Most people prefer to have them posted, you were one of the rare ones.  I see you put it in your car, the one you just collected?" she asked, thinking that was rather obvious.

"I've decided to get a frame for it and place it on my desk.  I never intended ordering another one, it was the only excuse I could think of for being outside your studio on Monday.  I never intended to scare you or make you think I was there just to catch you coming out."

"Well I was a bit surprised to see ya there, never mind, I wasn't gonna ask for your address to stalk ya or anything," she smiled.

"I never thought you would Rose," he smiled back as she handed him the mug of tea.  "When you said earlier, about putting that delivery guy off, well I have something to admit."

He thought he may as well confess, since she'd used him as an excuse to fend someone off.  She may just tell him to leave now.

Rose sat opposite him.  "Well you may as well tell me then?"

"Those who work in the office, they think I have been acting oddly the last few days."

"Really?  Well I suppose you have, hanging around here and finding excuses to come back, like offering to put that webcam up for me," she teased him.

"Do I need another excuse for that?" he asked.

"Maybe not?  Now we've established a few things?"

"We have?  Right, that we are seeing each other?  Well about that then.  They started betting I had a girlfriend so I put a stop to it."

Now she did wonder about him.

"So what was all that we just talked about then?" she asked, about to get up.

"You misunderstand Rose, I told them I did not know if you would agree, since we had only met a few times."

"You meant me?" was all Rose could think of saying.

"Who else?  They noticed the difference in me," he had to admit.

"Why, were you a grump or something?" Rose tried to smile.

"Or something.  So, are we both agreed that we are seeing each other at least?" he asked, hoping he'd made a start.

"Yeah, I think so.  I'd best start making something to eat or you will be going back to the takeaway."

"I don't mind Rose, if you don't want to cook?" he replied.

"Well you'll have to taste my cooking sooner or later, won't ya?  So are ya asking me to be your girlfriend?"

"Do you object?" he asked as she got up.  He grabbed her arm as she was passing.  "You could do worse than me Rose."

"Like Steve from the print shop?  I just said it on the spur of the moment Alec, sorry.  I didn't want him to come in every morning and keep pestering me.  If he had, I may have had to call the manager and get someone else to bring my orders round."

"That is exactly what I meant by you getting a security camera Rose," he reminded her.  "Working on your own, well I would be worried about you now, not that I wasn't before.  I will feel happier once you get one installed."

"I said I'd get one Alec, I'll go into town on Saturday.  Maybe I could meet you there?"

"I see Daisy on Saturday lunchtime, sorry.  I just got her used to it.  I doubt she will want to tag along buying webcams?"

"It was just an idea, I can ask in the store.  So does she stay the weekend?"

"Yes, it took me a long time to get her to stay overnight, like I said, I missed a few years of her growing up and I'm trying to make up for it," he told her as he let go of her hand, having moved his from her arm.  "I was trying to persuade her to stay on Friday night as well, she's thinking about it.  If she does, we could meet earlier and I can go collect her maybe?"

"I don't want to be in the way Alec, not if you're trying to get her to trust you again?  Was it so bad, why you left?" Rose wanted to know.

Alec indicated for her to sit on his lap, Rose doing so and putting her arm around his neck.

"It was a bad split from my ex, I got too involved in the case I was working, she sought company with another team member, I found out eventually but she turned Daisy against me," he explained.

Rose rested her head in his shoulder.

"Sorry, it must have been difficult?  That's why you went away?"

"Yes, I was also ill but I hid it from everyone.  I finally came to my senses and got myself fixed and came back.  Now though, Daisy got into trouble and she needs a fresh start and I'm trying my best to give her it."

"Well you're doing your best Alec, no-one can say you're not.  We don't have to see each other every night."

"Well I think Saturday is enough, give me time to talk to her about Friday.  Maybe you could come to my place and meet her next Friday?" he suggested.

Rose looked up.  "Maybe then?  See what she thinks but I don't want her to think I'm butting in."

"She was teasing me last weekend, she'll not be that surprised.  When I last spoke to her she teased me then as well," he admitted.

Rose giggled and put her other arm around him.

"Well we'll just have to make plans then?  We still have our first real date to get through tomorrow night.  I'd best get something to eat, I only got pasta and sauce though."

"That's fine, really, you only had short notice.  About those photos you took of me though?"

"Oh, what about them?" she smiled as she tried to get up, his arm still around her.

"You won't go using them will you?"

She rested her chin on his shoulder and eyed him.

"Okay, I promise.  We have to swap phone numbers though, before you leave."

"Naturally Rose, I expect you'll want another picture then?" he smiled.

That agreed, Rose got up to prepare the food and Alec wandered into the lounge and switched on the TV to catch the news.  After they'd eaten, he helped her clear up again and they went to sit on the sofa, Alec putting his arm around her shoulder.  Rose reached for his hand.

"We could walk up to the pub?" Alec suggested, at a loss of what to do next since he was out of practice.

So was Rose as she agreed.  "Yeah, we could see what food they do, if we're going there tomorrow night?"

"We could go further away tomorrow night, I will look up some other places.  I can only have one drink though, not that I drink that much except the odd occasion."

Rose got her jacket and a small shoulder bag after quickly getting changed and they walked up the road.  Alec found out what she really liked to drink and she had two to his bottle of light beer.  They set off back just after nine thirty, Rose now with her arm in his and relaxing more as they talked.

"It's been ages since I went out like that," Rose admitted.  "Going with my ex when he came to help me set up didn't really count."

"So you are just friends?" Alec asked, wishing she'd put her arm around him instead.

"We stopped being more a long time ago, not that we were really serious, growing up together on the same estate as teenagers.  You've nothing to worry about from Mickey."

Alec was glad to hear it.  Rose let them into her flat, hoping Alec wasn't going to be leaving early, well not without kissing her anyway.  She'd been dying for him to do something while they'd been out but all he'd done was kiss her cheek and run his finger down it as they talked about everything and nothing such as what she liked and disliked, which he agreed on most of it.

Rose decided she wasn't going to let him go just yet as she indicated for him to take his jacket off.

"Wanna dance with me?" she smiled as she went to the mini hi-fi unit and chose a CD from the pile, one that had slow tunes.

"I am somewhat out of practice," he admitted as Rose put the CD in and set it to play random tracks.

They swayed to the tunes for a while, Alec resting his head on her shoulder and Rose leaning into him, her arms around his back until Alec saw his chance as she looked up at him.

"May I?" he asked as Rose was a fraction away from him.

She could only nod then gave in as his nose touched hers and she angled her head to touch his lips briefly.  That gave way to a short kiss, making Rose gasp for more.

"Alec, do that again?" she asked.

"With pleasure Rose."

The kisses became longer, the music still playing as they stopped to get their breath back, Alec thinking he'd never have been able to do that a few years ago and not remembering kissing Tess like that.  When he thought about it, he and Tess had been pushed together by working in the same station and time off being difficult, had latched onto each other.   

He'd thought at the time better her who was in the police than someone who wouldn't understand he worked all hours that he couldn't go on 'dates' as such, well not back then, he'd learned his lesson since.

"Mmm, that was nice," Rose smiled as a song came to an end.

She was about to suggest they sat down when her favourite came on – 'Dream a little dream of me' and she began to sway in time to the music again, joining in the words and looking at him.  Alec smiled as she sang along, seemingly knowing all the words as she sang 'sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you'.

That being the last song, Alec led her to the sofa.  It was getting late and they both had to work the next day.

"I should be going Rose," he regretted, going to kiss her again.

"Yeah, I had a nice evening Alec.  You can text or call me when ya get home, if ya want?" she asked hopefully.

"Of course but you forgot to take a photo of me," he smiled.

Rose got up for her phone and took his picture, Alec doing the same of her.

"Night then," she smiled as they walked to the door when Alec put his jacket on.  "Don't forget to dream a little dream of me, will ya?" she teased.

"How could I?" he asked, trying to remember the words she'd sung to him.

They kissed goodnight as Rose reminded him.  "Say nighty-night and kiss me then?" she smiled.

As Alec unlocked the door, he turned back to say, "Sweet dreams Rose."

She watched from the balcony until he got downstairs and he walked over to his car, turning to wave to her before he got in.  Now he was more determined than ever that despite him leaving in a few weeks, he'd somehow convince her to remain his girlfriend, he could manage a long-distance relationship if she could but first he had to tell her.

At least he'd made a start he supposed by saying Daisy needed a fresh start but how was he going to justify going with her?  Maybe he should make a start tomorrow night by saying she was going away to college and why her mother had wanted the photos of her, which if she'd not asked for, he'd never have met Rose.  He'd already made his mind up on Monday he was going to make a play for her and he'd thought earlier someone had beaten him to it and he hadn't liked the idea.

Would he have just kept making up excuses until he'd worn her down?  He saw Rose watching as he reversed out of the parking spot and waved to her, Rose waving back and decided first thing tomorrow, he would go to the traffic division under the pretence someone was pinching his parking spot and maybe he'd admit it was at his girlfriend's place, not his own.

As Rose watched him drive off, she then locked the door and sat on the same chair Alec had done while she made herself a hot drink and waited for him to call or text her when he got home.  She now knew he didn't live that far away, she'd passed the road on the bus a few times.  Was he wanting to be serious she wondered?  He'd sounded like it, saying Saturday's were out but she couldn't expect him to let his daughter down now they were getting close again.

She just hoped the teenager wouldn't think she was trying to take Alec away from her.  She'd not spoken much to Daisy the other day but she hoped they could be friends.  Was he intending to come round every night, well expect for Saturday and maybe Friday next week, if Daisy didn't want her there?  The kettle boiled, she made some hot chocolate and was just taking it into the lounge when she got a message.

Alec had got in and was debating to call or text her, she'd said either.  He put his specs on and sat at the kitchen table, thinking of what to say.  Thinking she would think he'd forgotten already, he started to compose a text, suddenly remembering some of the words she'd sang earlier – 'Sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you as well, my fair Rose.  I will be sure to dream of you – Alec xxx.'

Rose got the message and smiled.  He'd been so nice and not taken too long to ask her out but she knew she wanted something with him so she just wrote back – 'Nighty night, wish you were still here to kiss me – Rose xxx.'

Chapter 11
Alec had to smile when he saw her reply.  They had made some progress at least and he'd got her to agree to being his girlfriend – at least for now anyway.  He had no idea how she would react when he finally admitted he was going back to Broadchurch.  Should he delay it or think again?

If he did, he'd have to find an alternate college for Daisy which would involve travelling and she still wouldn't get out of the town.  She would still have to face teenagers who had sided with those who had got her into trouble.  As he got ready for bed, he was tempted to send another message but thought he'd best not.  Now he just had to tell her how he felt about her and hope it would be enough to persuade her to give it a go despite him leaving.

Rose smiled as she got into bed, wondering if he was going to send a last message.  She knew she liked him and was happy they'd established a few things but they had both nearly ruined it by admitting they had told others before they had told each other.

Alec gave in, putting his specs on as he reached for his phone – 'It was a pleasant evening – night Rose xxx' not bothering to put his name, she had his number now.  He never normally used his name so much as the last few days, Rose calling his name like she'd been doing made hearing it bearable – unlike when Tess now said it to get to him.

The next morning, as Alec got to the office, he wondered why Rose hadn't sent him a message back but he supposed she could have been asleep when he'd sent it, it had been over an hour of debating whether he should send one or not.  When Rose had woken, she found it and smiled.  She got into the studio just after nine and sent one back – 'Looking forward to tonight.'

Alec got it as he was making his morning mug of tea.  He had the misfortune for DC Hunter to be passing as he squinted at the message.

"Don't let me stop you reading that Sir," Sandra grinned, trying to find out if it was from his potential girlfriend.

"You won't Hunter," he replied, trying not to show any emotion that Rose had obviously only just got the message.

He took his tea back to his office, replying with 'So am I.'

Rose was doing fine until Steve from the print shop showed up.  As she signed the slip, he grinned at her.

"So, you have a boyfriend then?" he tried to ask casually.

"Yeah, you caught me by surprise yesterday," Rose admitted.

"So is it serious?" he asked, in case she'd just been saying that.

"Well Steve, I've only been here a few weeks and I've only known him for a week but yeah, I'm seeing someone.  I wasn't just saying that," Rose assured him.

"Well I did think that," Steve grinned.  "If you change your mind?"

Rose was too polite to tell him there was no contest between a rather cute police detective and someone who worked at a print shop but each to their own she supposed.

Alec decided that despite climbing the wall before lunch that he was not going to leave early again, even though everyone was looking to see if he was going to.  Sandra had been dragged into it again when he'd gone for his lunch.

"He got a message first thing but it could have been from anyone," she had to admit as they cornered her.

"He's got a daughter, right?" someone asked.  "It could have been from her but why has he been leaving early?"

"To get her from school or college would make sense," Sandra suggested, trying to get them to drop it.

"I still say he's sneaking off to see a girlfriend though," Mills offered, since he wanted to win the bet.

Alec wandered down to the parade of shops near the station and located a discount store, going to the household department and finding a nice silver frame for the photo of Daisy he'd acquired.  Taking it back with his lunch in a carrier bag they had the cheek to charge him for with the store brand name on, which to his mind customers were advertising for the company so they should be free, he collected the photo from his car and closed his office door behind him after making some tea.

He placed the photo on his desk then wondered if Rose would have one printed out of herself and maybe he'd ask her once they'd been out tonight and he'd not scared her off by saying he was leaving town in a few weeks time.  He thought about getting a traffic cone to put in Rose's parking space.  Even if she left him, he could make sure no-one parked there again.

Just before leaving time, he went to the parking area to find the traffic officer on duty.

"DI Hardy. What can I do for you Sir?" the officer asked as he was hanging up some keys.

"I need a traffic cone, some idiot keeps trying to park in my girlfriend's parking space despite a sign and her telling them," he admitted, hoping the man didn't talk to Hunter and company.

"Well we don't normally just hand them out Sir," he told Alec, getting a frown.  "You could officially requisition one though, for parking control," the officer suggested.

"Yes, that then," Alec replied, thinking it was a good thing he was picking Rose up later and she wasn’t waiting at the studio for him.

He waited while the officer brought one from a pile in the corner of the garage and was asked to sign it out.  He was grateful he didn't have to put a reason.

"How long do I have it for then?" Alec asked as he handed the clipboard back, having thought he'd be leaving in a few weeks and they'd want it back.

"Whenever it's returned Sir," he was told.

Alec put the cone in the back of his car and drove off, calling at the florist just down the road for a nice mixed bunch of flowers and went home to change his shirt.  Then he decided to call Daisy.

"Hi Dad, not cancelling tomorrow are you?" she asked, since her mother had been fussing about her going every weekend now she was likely to leave town.

"No, why even ask?  I've still not heard about when I get my transfer, I left it today," he told her, having thought he'd best stay away from the chief after yesterday and trying to fasten the top button of his shirt for a change.

"Well are you making the arrangements Dad?" Daisy asked him.  "Mum's been going on about it, saying if you want to take me with you, it's down to you."

Alec thought that was just typical of his ex wife to leave it all to him.

"Well I will make a start as soon as I have a date but I will call the school on Monday and tell them so they will be ready to pass your details on.  Have you thought about maybe staying Friday night as well next week?" he asked, hoping he could talk her into having Rose round for diner.

"Mum's already going mad about Saturday night Dad," Daisy reminded him.

"Well what's she going to do when you leave eh?  Is she the one willing to move with you?" he wanted to know.

"No, I suppose not," Daisy had to admit.  "So, you've got those photos for mum and gran?"

Alec thought she'd already asked him once.

"Yes, you can get them tomorrow.  I need to know about Friday because I have something to ask you, well maybe."

"Such as?" Daisy wanted to know.  "Are you seeing the photographer, Rose was it?"  Alec didn't answer.  "You are, aren't you?  Are you taking her out tonight?"

"Yes, we have a date and we went for a drink last night," he admitted.

"Is that all?" Daisy laughed, thinking he was a bit slow.

"Well after she invited me to stay to eat with her," he had to admit or she'd keep going on about it.

"You mean when you collected the photos?" she asked.

"Well no, Wednesday, we had a Chinese, then she wanted to cook for me last night since I bought the takeaway."

Daisy giggled.  "So you've already had a couple of dates?  Admit it Dad, you do like her."

"I wouldn't call them dates, as such," he tried to deny.  "Tonight is an actual date."

"So you asking me about Friday nights?  You want me to say no so you can take her out?"

"No, I wanted to ask you if you did, if you would object to me inviting her round to have dinner with us," he replied.

"Oh.  Well if I decide to stay, then yeah, I suppose so?  I can hardly stop you inviting someone round, can I?  What about going away?  Does she know?" Daisy asked him.

"No, not yet but I will tell her, if it goes well tonight," he admitted.

"You can't just string her along Dad," she told him.

"I don't intend to, it could all still fall through if that detective changes his mind or delays his retirement," he replied.

"Then what do I do about college Dad?  I can't stay and go to one here."

"I know Daisy, if Broadchurch falls through, there will be other vacancies before the end of summer.  See all the trouble I'm going to?  I can't see your mother doing that," he told her.

"So you're still willing to go even if Rose agrees to go out with you?  That's hardly fair Dad."

Alec knew she was right.  "She may be willing to put up with me coming back at weekends and holidays.  You could come back and see your mum," he suggested.

"Yeah, that depends how much she's going to miss me then?"

"Well she wanted the photos of you," Alec reminded her.

"Well you'd never have gone to that studio and met Rose," Daisy teased him.

He knew he'd never hear the end of it now if he failed to keep Rose interested enough in him and agree to having a long distance relationship, now he'd asked her to be his girlfriend.  It was better he told her after asking her than before, at least now she knew when was being serious.

Rose had got finished a bit earlier since a baby decided to scream and the parents wanted to leave in a hurry so she tidied up, half wishing Alec was calling round after he'd finished.  Why was she feeling so giddy?  Ever since he'd come round on Monday night, she'd felt differently and when he'd made the excuse up to call an extra night, she knew he was wanting to ask her out.  She got home, had a shower and was choosing what to wear.  She hoped now this was a proper date, they wouldn't both be coy around each other.  

Alec was getting nervous, he'd been fine the last two nights, it had just been casual and the kisses last night had been short and sweet, more than he'd expected and the sentiments of the song she seemed to like had added to the end of the evening nicely.  Maybe she would want to dance and a bit more tonight, he hoped.

Rose forbade herself to watch out of the window for him to park up, wondering if he'd just park at the front and not bother driving into her parking space, which thankfully was empty as word must have got round she'd had a go at someone.  She was quite within her rights to do so, whether she had a car or not.  She smiled as she remembered what Alec had said but didn't think he'd follow up on it, about putting a cone there.

As Alec pulled into the front car park, he couldn't resist looking up to see if Rose was watching out for him.  He thought about the traffic cone and didn't fancy carrying it around and hopefully, it would be late when they got back so he turned around and drove around the back, stopping in front of her parking space but blocking the car next to it.

He deposited the police cone at the start of Rose's parking space and got his phone out.  Rose jumped as her phone rang with 'Alec' on the display.  She walked to the living room window but couldn't see his car and answered with "Watcha Alec."

"Hello to you too Rose, care to open the door for me?" he asked as he crossed to the steps and hoped the person wouldn't want to move the car he'd blocked.

He wasn't planning on going inside anyway, just handing her the flowers and wait in the car for her if he needed to move.  Then she would see the traffic cone.  Rose got her jacket and her shoulder bag from the back of the kitchen chair and opened the door, putting her phone away.

"Hi, you should have stayed around the front," she greeted him, kissing his cheek as he held the flowers behind his back.  

"It would be rude if I did not collect you personally Rose, this is meant to be our first proper date," he reminded her, handing her the flowers and kissing her cheek.

"Aw, they're lovely Alec, thanks," Rose smiled, giving him a peck on the lips for his troubles.

While he'd had nothing to do earlier, he'd looked up places to take her for their first proper date, one where he'd called to collect her from home, not get her out under false pretences or after he'd been to the studio.

"Glad you like them.  We should get going, I have blocked someone's car in," he smiled, wondering if he should mention the cone.

"I'll put these in the sink in some water and sort them out later then?" she asked, putting them in the bowl and turning the cold water tap on.  "They must have been expensive," she added, smelling them and noting the small card with her name on, meaning he'd not got them from the supermarket or garage.

"You are worth it love," he replied, wondering if calling her that was a bit presumptuous of him.

"So are going back to that pub?" Rose asked as they went to the door.

"No, an Italian place just outside town, I made a booking for eight, give us time to get there and have a drink first, well you can have one.  Did you have a good day?" he asked as she let him lock the door.

"Steady, lots of crying kids," she smiled as he let her go first, Alec noting no-one was waiting for him to move.

"I got something else for you as well," he admitted as they crossed to the car and steering her around the other side.  Rose laughed.

"You didn't?  I thought you were joking?" she asked as she put her arm in his.

"It will show them you are being serious and if anyone complains, tell them to call the station, I will give you the number later.  I had to sign for that."

"So did ya say it was for your place or mine?" Rose giggled as he held the car door open for her.

"I may have admitted it was for here, I have nothing to hide," he replied as he got in.

"Neither have I, I told that guy from the printer's when he asked me again if I was seeing someone," Rose had to admit as he drove off.

"Did he think you were just saying that?" Alec asked as he drove back towards the town centre.

"Maybe?  Never mind that, from now on if I'm asked I'm not gonna deny it, I'll have to face my mum when I call her.  You'd best hope she doesn't get the next train down to check you out."

Alec didn't know if she was being serious or not, considering the other warning she had given him.

"Everyone in the office is trying to guess," Alec admitted as he turned off to bypass the town centre but away from where he worked.

He wished he'd have been able to go back to his old place of work but Tess and her loser boyfriend made that impossible, too many people knew what had happened.  When he'd first come back to the town, people still remembered him but at least all those responsible were locked up, unlike Joe Miller.

"So do they know?" Rose glanced at him sideways.

"They will, I am not going to spoil their guessing games until Monday and I was waiting to see how tonight turned out, you may be glad to get rid of me."

Rose put her hand on his leg as they stopped at some traffic lights.

"Don't say that, I'm still here after you made excuses up to see me," she smiled at him.

"Yes, you are but you don't know me that well yet Rose," he replied as he set off again, seeing the restaurant that used to be a pub in the distance.

"Well we have plenty of time for that," Rose replied as he turned into the car park and found a parking spot.

Alec thought this was going to be awkward.  What had he set himself up for when he knew he was leaving in four to six weeks time?  How was he going to tell her now?

Chapter 12
The evening went pleasantly, Alec being the perfect gentleman by paying her every bit of attention and slowly sipping a glass of wine so as not to have to leave his car plus he wanted a clear head for later, just in case he decided to come clean with her.

Rose wasn't going so easy on the wine but knew her limits even though Alec was really cute and she wanted to have more of the kisses from last night.

"This is a nice place Alec," Rose remarked as they waited for their desert to arrive.  "I've never been anywhere this fancy before."

"Then you have dated the wrong men," Alec declared.

"Mickey was the only really serious one and he's the least romantic person I know," Rose smiled as she let Alec fill her glass.  "Football on the big screen TV at the pub was his idea of a date, I spent more time talking to my friends."

"Well I can assure you, I am not into football or spending all evening watching it at the pub," Alec declared, thinking he already didn't like her ex without even meeting him.

Rose decided to find out more about him.

"So come on then, did you just come back for your daughter?"

"That and I wanted to be around when the court case came up of the killers of the two girls.  You read about that?" he asked, nodding to the waiter as he put the dishes in front of them.

"Yeah, I was sad the other cousin wasn't found alive.  What sort of a person does that?  I mean leave a young girl in the river?"

"She may have been left on the riverbank and the killer expected her to be found quickly but it had been really bad weather, which hampered the search.  I don't normally tell people it was me that found her."

Rose reached her hand over the table.

"I'm sorry Alec, it never said who'd found her.  It clearly affected you, was that how you became ill?"

"It did not help but I finally got justice for them.  That was why catching the other killer became everything to the point I neglected to take care of myself.  Did you read I'd been ill?" he asked, not recalling telling her.

"I looked up about the case here, it mentioned Broadchurch and you being ill.  It gave no details though.  I figured you would tell me."

"I had to have a pacemaker fitted before it was too late.  I came back to spend time with Daisy, to try to make up for not being there and because she had no idea I was ill."

"You never told anyone?" Rose gasped, not quite believing he could have died.

"Well I'm still here, the six million dollar man," he smiled, taking her hand as she put her spoon down.

He half expected her to ask who that was.

"Yeah, seems so but it's only your heart that got something done to it.  Me and mum used to watch the re-runs when I was a kid," Rose smiled.  "You are okay now though?"

"Yes, I'm fine Rose.  Do you want to move to the bar area and maybe get some real Italian coffee?" he suggested.

"Yeah, maybe a latte though?  I think Italian coffee's a bit strong and comes in tiny little cups."

"You speak from experience?" Alec smiled as he got up to move her chair back for her.

"Nah, not me.  I only went on a school trip to Paris, I wasn't old enough to drink coffee," she smiled back as she got up.

Just before nine thirty, Rose not believing how long they had been in the restaurant, Alec helped her into his car and since they would be passing the end of his street, he wondered if she'd object to him inviting her to his apartment.  There was only one way to find out.  If she agreed, he could take the other route.

Getting in the driver's seat, he thought he had nothing to lose by asking her.

"Since you were trying to find out where I lived, we could call in before I take you home?" he asked hopefully.

"Yeah, okay then but I wasn't being nosy, I just wondered how far you'd gone out of your way to pay the store next to where I work a visit."

Alec actually believed her.  He took the other turn-off that led him to the other end of the road where he lived and came to a small block of apartments, turning into the driveway and thankfully, no-one had taken his space or he'd have to go get another traffic cone.

"Here we are then," he told her, Rose looking at the four-storey white building.

"At least no-one's claimed your parking spot," she teased.

Ten minutes after they got in, they were on the sofa, picking up where they left off last night as Rose got his tie off and half a dozen shirt buttons undone as they nipped at each other's lips as she tried to pull the shirt from the back of his trousers, Alec putting his arm around his back to help her.

"Mmm, this is really nice," Rose hummed as she got all fingers and thumbs with the rest of the buttons.

Alec couldn't have put it better himself as they continued kissing and he decided it was time her floral dress with the low-cut back came off.  Rose didn't seem to be objecting as he pulled it over her shoulders, revealing a black lacy low-cut bra and he was dying to know if her underwear matched or not.

Alec shuffled around, pushing her to the back of the sofa and trying not to get tempted to pull the sofa out into the bed Daisy slept on.  She wouldn't thank him for it if she found out.

"Have you got any music?" Rose asked as she nipped at his neck while both arms were around it.

"I have a few CD's, I don't play them much, Daisy doesn't like my taste of music," he admitted.

"Let's dance then?" Rose asked, running her fingers down his now bare chest since she'd undone all the buttons.

Alec carefully got off the sofa to avoid falling off it, Rose staying where she was as he looked at the measly stack of CDs and thought he should get some more before he met Daisy the following day.  He found a double one of forties and fifties songs and put it on.

"I love all the old songs," Rose admitted as he helped her off the sofa.

Now he seemed much taller since she'd kicked her shoes off earlier.  He switched off the main light after putting on the lamp and they began swaying to the music, Rose reaching up to put her arms around his neck after he fastened her dress for her.  He put his arms around her waist and she leaned into his shoulder.

Neither of them were bothered about the time as the first CD finished with 'Moonlight Serenade' and Rose reluctantly let go.

"I should take you home," Alec suggested before this went any further, for a first proper date.

Rose went to sit on the sofa, wagging her finger at him.  He followed her and sat next to her, taking her hand and leaning her back against the cushion.

"This has been a really lovely evening," he told her, brushing back a strand of her hair and kissing her cheek.

Rose ran her finger down his chest, since he'd not bothered fastening his shirt back up.

"Yeah, we survived our first proper date and I'm still talking to ya," she smiled.

That was a relief to him, though she may not be once he'd confessed.  He thought maybe he shouldn't ruin the evening since they'd both enjoyed it so much.  The short kisses intensified, leading to Alec unzipping her dress again and putting his arms around her shoulder, Rose putting hers under his shirt and around his back and before he knew it, she was pulling him on top of her.

"Alec, this is really nice," Rose managed to sigh as he placed kisses along her neck and the top of her one size too small bra, well he thought it was one size too small as he was now wanting to relieve her of it since it was too tempting. 

His fingers wandered around her back and reached their destination and he wondered if she would notice.  She did.

"Mmm, I said it was nice Alec," she smiled, tapping his hand, which he withdrew slowly in case she changed her mind.

"Well you unfastened my shirt at the first opportunity," he reminded her as he propped himself up on the cushion and flicked a strand of her hair.

"Yeah, sorry, it was silly of me," Rose admitted, biting her lip.

"No, it was more than I hoped for," Alec disagreed, running his finger along the top of her bra.  "Rose, I want to be serious with you, you do know that?"

"I gathered, when you asked me to be your girlfriend.  Sorry, it's just going from a few casual dates to this, it's rather a big jump."

"No, maybe I was moving too fast?  I can't see you tomorrow night Rose, so think about it eh?" he asked hopefully.

Rose nodded and put her hand back under his shirt.

"We can do other things, like what you were just doing," she grinned up at him and putting a finger on his chest.

Alec's face lit up.  "Really?'

"Yeah, you 'nana, I wasn't objecting to that, was I?" she asked him.

How was he to know?  He was definitely out of practice, spending the last few years on his own, mostly, except for a few one-offs he'd met while investigating something and he'd asked a woman out afterwards but he'd not got as far as he'd just done with Rose, whose finger was making circles on his bare chest.

She wagged her finger at him and he leaned closer, putting it on his chin.

"I really like you Alec and yeah, maybe by Sunday I'll realise what I'm missing but we only met a week ago, and you were all coy about asking me out," she reminded him.

"Well, I had Daisy with me at the time, I could hardly ask you out then?  Could I?" he asked, rubbing her shoulder.

Rose freed her other arm and put them both around his neck.

"Then come here and ask me to stay?"

"You want to stay?" he asked, taken by surprise.

"Well unless ya wanna drive me home and leave me there?" Rose asked.  "I believe you said not seeing me on Saturday night would be enough but if you want to just see each other a few times a week?" she suggested.

Alec thought about it. This was getting way out of hand and he was too much of a coward to tell her it would be short-lived if she hated the fact he was leaving.  Could he live with the fact he didn't get it over with and see what she thought about it?  Maybe he should just come out with it, if she didn't like it, at least they'd not got round to having sex and better now than when they had he supposed.

"Rose, I want to see you every night, well apart from maybe Friday if Daisy doesn't want to have you round, if she decides to stay over two nights.  If she doesn't, well, I could spend a few hours with you and collect her later, maybe?" he asked hopefully.

Rose pulled him down for a kiss.

"Yeah, she's a teenager, I can imagine she could be a bit off with her dad having a younger girlfriend?" she smiled.

"She was teasing me, about asking you out so maybe that's a good sign eh?" he asked, kissing her neck.

"Yeah, if not, well, she'll come round, won't she?"

Alec thought it had better be quick then.  This was it, before Rose really hated him.

"Well, that depends on a couple of things," he started to admit.

He tried to prop himself up again, Rose's arm around his waist and he stroked her hair.  What was he thinking?  Getting involved with her when he had to leave?  How did he feel about getting her hopes up of maybe a long-term relationship that was only going to last a few weeks?

If he were inclined, he could use her to take out his sexual frustrations on her for a few weeks then just leave but he wasn't like that and besides, he really did like her and maybe he was beginning to fall for her in a big way.  He hated men who thought they could use a woman for a few weeks then dump her, especially when Tess had dumped him.

"What kind of things?" Rose asked, trying to pull the shirt off his shoulders.

"Well, I told you Daisy is having problems?  She stayed on at school because of something that happened a while back with some of her older friends from the local college.  She can't go there Rose, or to the ones nearby."

"Sorry Alec, I didn't know it was that serious.  That's why you have her over on Saturday night?  You don't have to explain it to me," she assured him, his shirt hanging off his shoulders.

"That's only part of it," he admitted, trying to get his shirt back on, which was a bit awkward with Rose's hands being on it and not wanting him to.  "She can't stay on at school another year so I'm having to try to get her in somewhere else but although her mother dealt with it and the school head teacher was sympathetic about it, it went on her school record."

"It must have been serious then?" Rose asked, sounding concerned.

"Yes, I promised her no-one would ever find out about it that they would hold it against her but I know I can trust you but first, you have to meet her properly and I can get her to agree for me to tell you."

"Yeah, I understand Alec, don't worry about it, yeah?" she asked, finally winning the battle as he stopped trying to pull his shirt back on.

He knew he'd made the right decision to pursue her after he'd met her last week.  Maybe now she was sympathetic about Daisy, she would understand he had to get her away from the town but would she understand it had to be Broadchurch?  He supposed there was only one way to find out.

"Rose, like I said, I can't send her anywhere around here and her mother, well she reckons she did her part getting Daisy out of trouble and since I've been insisting Daisy stayed with me at weekends, well, that was for two reasons," he admitted.

Rose looked at him.  She really did like him and if he came with a troubled teenager, then so be it, the girl would be going away to college by the sound of it.

"I said you don't have to explain it to me Alec, she's your daughter and I told ya, she's lucky to have you, I'd have given anything to have my dad around when I was her age.  I used to wish I had a time machine to go back and see him," she smiled, rubbing his bare shoulders.

Alec smiled.  "Rose, if I had a time machine, there is nothing I would rather do than take you love."

"Yeah?  I just bet you would as well because you, Alec Hardy, are the most decent man I have ever met.  So, come on then, where are you trying to get her into college?  Is that why you want her to stay the whole weekend?  Because she's going away?"

"Partly but also partly because, well, I will be taking her," he admitted, trying to break it to the woman he was falling for gently.

"Oh, ya mean to settle her in?  Yeah, I knew you were a good dad," Rose smiled.

"Rose, yes, I will be taking her, her mother's left it to me, she said it's time I took some responsibility and she was right," he admitted.

"Well, that's not until September, is it?" Rose giggled as she poked her tongue out slightly.

"Ah, well, the thing is Rose, she has exams soon and I'm trying to get a college to take her early, since she should have started last term," he admitted, hoping Rose wouldn't get up and run.

"Oh?  Well yeah, stands to reason I suppose," Rose agreed.  "So, where are you sending her?  I mean is she ready to leave home?"

"Not exactly but she won't be on her own," Alec finally admitted, knowing he couldn't hold off much longer.

"You mean student accommodation or sharing?" Rose asked, wanting to get back to snogging him.

"Sharing, yes but she's not ready for that.  She was so confident Rose, what happened destroyed her, it affected her badly so at least for now, I can't just abandon her and her mother's not interested in going with her so it's down to me."

There, he'd almost told her.

"So, well it won't be far, will it?" Rose asked.

"That's just it Rose.  Finding somewhere willing to take her and I know a place that may just take her on, with some careful negotiations.  Somewhere that knows me."

"Oh.  Are you taking her back to Scotland?" Rose asked, her heart leaping.

"No, I'm taking her to Broadchurch Rose, I got my old job back and I know a lot of people there, even though the killer walked free but people will help me get her in the college there."

Rose pushed him away and scrambled into her dress and he just knew she was going to demand he took her home and he'd lost her before they'd even got started.

Chapter 13
Rose looked at him.  "So what was all that then, you asking me to be your girlfriend?" Rose asked, looking confused.

"Rose, I applied before I even met you," a just as much confused Alec tried to explain as Rose tried to fasten her dress.

"Were you planning on telling me the day before you left?  What were you gonna say then?  A 'sorry but I'm leaving to give my daughter a fresh start, it's been nice' speech?" she asked, trying not to get upset.

"Rose, let me explain?" he asked as she tried to get off the sofa, Alec moving over.  "How was I to know I was going to go to your studio and meet you?  No, I was going to tell you, I just never knew how.  I thought we had something Rose, that despite me saying I was going away, we can continue to see each other."

"For how long?" Rose asked, biting her lip, some old memories coming back to her.  "How long were ya gonna string me along?"

"I was not stringing you along Rose, I promise.  I've not even got a date for my transfer yet," he replied as he leaned over to help her.

Rose pushed his hand away.  "Oh, so that makes it better?"

"No, it's just the DI who took over from me is retiring and the job's mine when he does, he's just not been told when.  I told you, I have to get the school or college there to take Daisy, they may still refuse.  Rose, I explained she can't stay here and go to college, she has her heart set on going and not just leaving and making nothing of herself.  Her mother has made no effort."

"So you made a point of telling me," Rose replied, thinking she should at least let him explain.  "So that's why she wanted the photos then?"

"Yes, for her and Daisy's grandmother and goodness knows how many relatives.  I told her it's not like she'll never see her daughter again.  Rose, I meant it, I still want to see you and I was going to come back for Daisy to see her mother every other week, we can still see each other, if you want?" he suggested, touching her shoulder.

Rose didn't move it.  "What?  Every two weeks?" she asked, trying to calm down.

"Well, now I've met you, well maybe you could come down the other weekends?" he asked hopefully.  He thought well at least she'd not stormed out or demanded he took her home.  "You did say you’d not had many bookings on Saturdays."

"Yeah, I suppose not.  I was thinking of taking them off and opening on Tuesday instead but you should have told me Alec," she relented.

"I was going to, I just didn't want to spoil a really nice evening.  Are you mad at me?  Do you want to go home?" he asked, hoping she would still stay.

Rose looked at him, he couldn't tell what her answer was going to be, she showed no emotion, giving him, a detective, no clues as to what she was thinking.

"Yes, I'm mad at you.  I was going into town tomorrow, maybe look in the pet shop and get a kitten, I could take it to the studio with me.  I just wanted someone to go home to and you Alec, you were waiting for me or you were calling round to the studio.  I thought I'd finally found someone."

"You have, we could see each other at weekends and holidays.  I don't know what Daisy wants to do during the summer, we've only just discussed her going to live with me, that's why I want her to stay over on Friday nights, to make it easier for her.  What do you think?  It will be at least four weeks, maybe more before I have to leave."

"That long?" Rose tried to smile.  

He thought at least she wasn't lashing out at him.

"So, I think we could make it work, there will be long weekends, I could bring Daisy up on Friday night, drop her off then come round, since I'll have to give this apartment up.  I won't have to leave until Sunday evening.  Yes, I think it's worth a try.  Say something Rose?" he asked as she leaned back again, a funny look on her face.

"What do ya want me to say Alec?  I don't know about a long distance relationship, I've never even tried.  I don't know if I can do it."

That much was true, her last experience of someone leaving her had never given her the chance.

"Rose, neither have I love," he replied, leaning with his hand on the back of the sofa and putting his other hand on her shoulder.  "I thought I had finally found someone as well Rose.  When I met you last week, well by Monday, I couldn't wait until I was supposed to collect the photos and Tuesday, well it was all I could do not to make up another excuse to leave early and catch you coming out of your studio.  Everyone in the office thought I was going to sneak off early again, they have a bet going on," he smiled, pleased she'd not made him move again.

"Yeah?  That you were sneaking off to meet someone?  I think you already said Alec," Rose half smiled.

"Did I?  I don't remember Rose, was that when I asked you to be my girlfriend?" he grinned, hoping she would come round to the idea.

Rose pretended to hit his arm.

"So you'd come up one weekend and I'll go down there the other then?" she asked.  Alec nodded.  "What if Daisy doesn't like me that much?  She hasn't even agreed to meeting me next Friday yet."

"I know but if I tell her how important you are becoming to me, she never liked her mother's boyfriend when we split up but she just about tolerates him but he's a bit obnoxious.  I think that's why Tess chose him," he grinned.  "She knew I couldn't stand him."

"Great Alec, that makes me feel a whole lot better.  I'm one up from your ex wife's obnoxious boyfriend then?" Rose sighed.

"No, I didn't mean it like that," he replied in his defense.  Then he saw a smile creep across her face.  "That was not fair Rose."

"Gotcha!  Seriously though, you're asking a lot Alec, it's a long way to travel down to Broadchurch."

"I know but at least consider it?  You don't have to agree right now, think about it."

"I don't know if seeing you all weekend, I'd be able to watch ya leave or get on a coach to come back here," she admitted.

"You don't know until we try Rose, how do you think I will feel as well?" he asked.  "It will be just as difficult for me you know?  We can call each other every night or do a video call?" he suggested, hoping she'd agree.

"You know how to video call?" Rose smiled.

"Yes, I used to call Daisy, when she started talking to me again.  Are you suggesting I am not up to date with these things?" he smiled, daring to shuffle closer.

"No, I expect Daisy taught you a few things?  How's she gonna react then, me coming down at weekends, if I agree?"

"Well, you have a few weeks to make friends with her," he replied.  "She seemed to like you, I told you she was teasing me about you."

"Yeah, so ya said.  I don't know Alec, it's not what I was expecting when you asked me to be your girlfriend and we were deciding not seeing each other on Saturday nights was gonna be enough."

"I know love, I should never have got carried away with that when I knew I was leaving but we still have a few weeks before I have to leave, we could stick to what we planned.  So, what do you think?  Do you want to go home and decide?"

Rose didn't move, wondering what to make of it.  She was really beginning to think she'd finally found someone, had got excited at the prospect of meeting a man who treated her right and he was going to be leaving.  Could she let him go after the last time?  She tried to sit up.

"Well.  I guess I'd best forget about the kitten then?" she smiled, holding her arms out.  "Good thing Saturday turned out to be a bit of a flop."

"Really?" Alec smiled, letting go of the back of the sofa he hadn't realised he was griping and moving it to the sofa arm behind her.

"Yeah, you 'nana, though it was a bit of a shock but I'm not ready to give you up that easily.  Okay, we can at least try but I don't know how good I am at having a boyfriend who’s a fair bit away.  Before you say anything, that's not why I split up with Mickey, we've not gone out for years."

"We'll manage and I gathered you were not still seeing him.  Are you sure about it?" he asked, not certain he'd heard her right.

"Yeah, I let someone go once Alec, not Mickey but I'm not gonna make the same mistake again.  I thought you were just gonna use me for a few weeks then say goodbye, when ya told me."

"I'm sorry Rose, there was no easy way of putting it and trust me, I've been trying to get up the courage all week," he smiled, feeing relieved. 

"Were ya?  Well Tuesday night, I sat at the window wondering if ya were gonna find another excuse to come round," she admitted as she leaned on his shoulder.

"You were disappointed?" he asked, kissing her neck.  Rose nodded.  "I regret not doing so but I might have given you the wrong impression."

Rose smiled.  "So, now we've got that out of the way, I did ask if I could stay?  Can I borrow a t-shirt?  I mean, we've only got four weeks or so before ya go away.  Do ya think you'll get Daisy accepted there?"

Alec looked at her, it had gone a lot better than he'd expected.

"With some persuasion, my old DS has a son around Daisy's age, she may be able to help.  Yes, I have a t-shirt you can borrow but you slapped my hand when I went for your bra strap," he reminded her, grinning.

"I'm just shy and I didn't know where this was going.  I suppose we'll have to speed things up then?"

"I expect so?  This is all new to me as well you know?  We can just get to know each other better for tonight, you could still change your mind when you see how grumpy I am in the mornings."

"Huh?" she asked, trying to get up.  "You don't get to be grumpy in the morning if I beat ya to it," she teased him.

"Oh, so you're grumpy as well then?" he teased back.  "We shall see."

He helped her up and went to his bedroom, getting a grey t-shirt out of the drawer and thought he must get some more.  He held it out to her as she stood in the doorway.

"I'll just go get changed," Rose smiled, accepting the t-shirt.

He tried not to show his disappointment as she turned.

"Alec, it's just for tonight, I mean until we get used to each other," she assured him, seeing the look on his face.

"Sure, whatever you're comfortable with and I'm sorry for almost ruining everything."

She turned back to him.  "I'm glad ya told me now and not as you were leaving."

"I would never have waited that long Rose.  I was going to tell you, if you'd let me come over on Sunday night when I drop Daisy off."

"Of course you can, just bring some food with ya," she smiled as she went off to the bathroom.

Alec watched her walk away and stood with his hands on his hips, something he tended to do when he was nervous or worried and he'd been both.  Now, he'd got that out of the way, he could go for her just staying tonight, they could still hate each other in the morning.  She was way too young for him but Tess had chosen an older man, what was the difference?

Rose got changed, leaving her underwear on after freshening herself up with some wipes she found and looked in the mirror, her face looking a little flushed.  When he'd come out and said he was leaving, she thought he was just as bad as a certain history professor who had left her to travel the world and never came back to her.

The last she'd heard of him was seeing his book in the bookstore near where she'd worked, his picture all over the window display that he was signing copies, the photo she'd taken of him a year before and fallen in love with him.  They'd had six months together then James Noble had said he was going off to get his new book together, on ancient world customs and wanted to make it authentic.

He'd never even asked her to go with him more than once and he'd never even sent her a postcard when she'd said she couldn't just take time off like he could so he'd gone off anyway.  She'd never bothered the day he was making an appearance, seeing the queue to get a signed copy and he'd not bothered calling in the studio he'd been to several times to ask for her to get a better picture of him.

If she'd known then what it was for and what would happen, she'd never have obliged him and given in to him asking her out.  When Alec had started taking an interest in her, it should have warned her off.  Now Alec would wonder why she'd got upset that he was going off as well.  She shouldn't have fallen for Alec's excuse about an extra photo but he was cute and she'd tried to ignore the fact that apart from the shorter hair that didn't have a mind of its own and the beard, Alec could be James's double.

Running out of excuses to stay in the bathroom, she took her things from the side of the sink and thought this was it.  Alec was going off yes but they'd made a compromise, more than James had been willing to do and if Alec could stick to the arrangement, then so could she, or at least give it a try.

She went back into the bedroom, Alec sitting nervously on the edge of the bed in a white t-shirt and a clean pair of shorts.  He got up and whispered he'd be back in a minute, having let her use the bathroom first.  As Rose waited for him coming back, she got into bed and sat hugging her knees.

Alec was looking at himself in the mirror, glad he'd got himself sorted out and no longer looking like death warmed up with red eyes and a frown.  Rose was waiting for him and if she didn't want sex on their first proper date, he could live with that.  He'd almost lost her before they'd got started.  As he went back in the bedroom, she looked up and smiled at him and he knew they would somehow manage when he went back to Broadchurch as he turned out the lamp and she moved over to him.

Chapter 14
After some kissing, Alec losing his t-shirt and Rose getting comfortable on him, they fell asleep.  It had been a pleasant evening and Alec was glad he'd got his going away settled and she was willing to give it a chance.  Before they'd fallen asleep, Alec's arm around her, he asked how she really thought he'd not tell her until it was time.

"Alec, I didn't know what to think," she admitted.  "It was a bit of a shock."

"You said someone else had left you, not this Mickey you talked about."

"I don't wanna be reminded Alec, it's over and done with.  He dumped me – end of story.  I can tell ya why I was a bit suspicious you making up excuses though," she offered.

Alec kissed the top of her head.

"You don't have to explain it to me Rose, if you say it's over, that's the end of it.  You were suspicious of me?"

"Well yeah, after you ordered last Friday, since your daughter looked like she didn't want to be there.  Alec, it's just the man I lost, James, well that's how I met him, he came into the studio I worked in for some photos.  He was planning on just using them for the college he worked at, then he told me he was leaving, to travel around to write a world history book."

Alec moved her slightly.  "Rose, I am so sorry, no wonder you got upset when I said I was going away.  He never came back?"

"Yeah, he came back and never bothered to let me know.  The next thing I knew, his book was going on sale and he used the photos I took to publicize it, even on the back cover."

Alec almost laughed, just checking himself in time but Rose knew and hit his arm.

"Sorry, you have to admire his nerve I suppose?" he replied.  "Then why did you insist on taking my photos?" 

"To prove not all men were using me like he did.  We were together around six months, I thought we were happy and even though he went on about the book he wanted to do, I thought he'd do the research online, not actually go off.  Then he had the nerve to do a book signing near where I worked, he never even came to see me."

Alec pulled her closer.  "Did you go confront him?"  Rose remained silent.  "Rose, I had no idea I was going to be lucky enough to meet you when I applied for a transfer back to Broadchurch."

"Well I'll not ask if you would have still done so."

"I would have talked to you about it first.  I know we can make it work," he assured her.  "So, meeting Daisy again is the first step."

"Yeah though I'm not used to getting a teenager's approval to date her dad, my mum never bothered asking me what I felt when she brought her male friends home.  I can't tell ya how many 'uncles' I had."

Alec smiled at the thought, then remembered he would probably have to meet the woman at some point.  "Well, this will be the first time Daisy has been asked, you should get on well."

When Rose woke up, she was alone but hearing noises from the kitchen, the bedroom door slightly open, she grabbed his t-shirt he'd lent her and put it over her vest top she'd gone to sleep in.

"Rose," he called from the kitchen.  "Are you awake?"

"Yep, whatcha doing?"

He appeared in the doorway with a tray.  "Making breakfast for you."  

He put it on the dresser and closed the door.

"Aw, that was sweet of ya.  Are you wanting to impress me so I'll come back?" she smiled as he kissed her cheek.

"Do I need to?  Eat before the toast goes cold and then I'll take you home.  What time's your first appointment?"

"Not until ten, I've only got three, I took the Saturday ones off.  I can use the time to catch up on my orders and working Tuesdays will mean I won't have to rush around the next day.  Funny though, I thought Saturday would be busy."

"Maybe it would have been?" he wondered as he handed Rose the tray and got back into bed.

"Well I can't hang around all day just to get the odd one or two.  Don't worry, I won't insist I spend the day with you, I know you meet Daisy."

"Sorry, it took me a while to get her to agree but I don't meet her until twelve.  Next Friday though, if she stays over, well I won't be able to see you until Sunday night."

"Alec, it's fine, honestly, don't change your plans for me."

"You're being very understanding love.  I'll talk to her today but we'll wait until you meet before I ask how she feels about you maybe staying over.  Since it will only be for a few weeks, she may agree but when we leave, I'll tell her you will be coming down, she'll have to get used to it."

He put the tray by the side of the bed and Rose snuggled up to him.

"Can we say good morning properly now?" she smiled, putting her arms around him.

"If you give me my t-shirt back," he replied, going for the hem.

After some fooling around, they got dressed and he went to get his car keys, taking another key from the hook.

"Take this, then if you want, come over one night and start making dinner," he offered.

"If I get some appointments for Tuesday, I might not be here before you," she replied, hesitating to take it.  "I'll have to get the bus down."

"Well okay, leave it for now," he agreed, thinking maybe it was a bit soon anyway but he wanted her to trust him.  "It's there if you want it.  Will you be working anyway on Tuesday?  Won't you have to inform the printers?"

"Well yeah, I'll have to put up with that bloke coming an extra morning," Rose smiled as he put his arms around her shoulders.

"Then tell him you are spoken for," he replied, going for a kiss.

"Yeah, now I can say it for certain," she agreed, reaching up.

Alec drove her home just before nine, making a point of going around the back and feeling pleased with himself the traffic cone was still there and the neighbours would get used to his car, even though it would only be for a few weeks.  Now he was regretting his decision to go back to the town that had caused him problems in more ways than one.  He got out of the car and Rose assumed he was going to help her out, which he did.

"See ya Sunday night then?" Rose asked him, kissing his cheek.

"Yes, I will pick up some food then?  I'll call from the takeaway and I'll be sure to pick up some more wine on the way."

"Then I'll look forward to it," she smiled, putting her arms around his neck.  "Bye then, have a good weekend with Daisy."

"Yes, bye love, I'll miss you and you know I'd make time if I could?  Maybe next Friday, if she doesn't want to stay, I'll come over here and we can spend the morning together?" he asked hopefully, since Daisy may still be a bit reluctant.

"Yeah, we'll do that then?  Bye Alec, I had a great time last night.  When you come over tomorrow night, we'll have to talk about how often we see each other."

"I thought it was going to be every night, apart from Saturday?" he asked, thinking maybe he was assuming too much.

"Oh, right?  Yeah, okay then since we should make the most of the time we have?" she replied, holding his jacket lapels then going to straighten his tie.

Alec smiled.  "Yes, we should and I will do my best with Daisy," he promised.

They kissed goodbye and he watched her walk up the steps, Rose turning when she got outside her door and she waved and blew him a kiss.

Alec smiled to himself as he got back in his car, he'd have lingered a little longer but a man was coming along the balcony and Alec assumed a car would be his destination.  He could have offered to stay until she went round to her studio but they had to give each other some breathing space or it could all be over by the time his transfer went through, then he wouldn't feel so guilty about leaving her behind.

As he drove off, resisting the temptation to wait for her walking round, all the tension that had built up when he'd started having feelings for her was disappearing.  From him not knowing if she even wanted to be his girlfriend then wondering how to tell her it may be a short relationship, it had gone to her taking the news well, despite her having someone who'd gone off and left her.

He wondered how long ago that had been, was that the real reason she'd ended up in the same town he was in?  Well whoever had left her was the loser in it and when he had time, he would look up who had written a history book in the last few years, with his photo Rose had taken on the back cover.  How many history books could there have been recently?

As Rose got changed to go to the studio for a few hours, she hurriedly made a list of things she had to do on Monday, if she'd got enough bookings for Tuesday to justify changing her opening hours she'd have to call the printers.  She crossed to the bedroom window, half expecting Alec to be sat there but he wasn't.  She was a little disappointed but he did have to get ready for his daughter's visit, tidying the bed to start with.

She knew he was being brave, taking on his teenage daughter when they'd been apart couldn't be easy.  Most of her mother's 'boyfriends' hadn't even acknowledged her half the time to the extent she'd totally ignore them back when she was old enough to get away with staying in her room.

She did regret mentioning James's name but surely Alec wouldn't look him up?  Well she hoped not but they didn't look that much alike, did they?  She was sure she was just being paranoid but the other coincidence of them both coming to her for photos should have put her off dating Alec but it wasn't.  She was getting over James nicely until Alec walked into her studio.

She should have known she'd be attracted to him when she'd opened the studio door to him last Friday but she'd kept herself in check and tried to ignore the fact they could have been twins, well to her anyway.  Her mother had never even mentioned it, which was something for Jackie Tyler, who should have been the first to point it out to her and Mickey, well if he got to know she was with Alec, he'd no doubt have something to say about it.

She opened the studio, half expecting Alec to creep up behind her again but he was at home, making sure Rose hadn't left anything behind and taking his time before going off to meet Daisy.  He connected to the internet on his phone, meaning to pick up one of those tablet PCs at some point, Daisy telling him to get a certain brand and typed into the search about recent history books, getting thousands of results and not knowing what he was looking for.

Then he remember she'd called the man James but he still got loads of results for first and surnames and it was almost time to set off.  When he'd found a space in one of the car parks, he made his way to their usual meeting place, Daisy looking miles away as usual but since he was in a good mood after seeing Rose in only her skimpy underwear, he let it slide as she looked up.

"Hi Dad, you're early," she greeted him, reaching up to kiss his cheek.  "Well?"

"Well what?" he asked, kissing her cheek back as she put her arm in his after putting her phone away.

"You know what Dad," she grinned as they walked off.  "Well how did your date go last night?"

Since when did his teenage daughter get to ask about his love life?  Well he supposed he now had one, considering Rose had stayed with him last night and he'd been the perfect gentleman and kept his shorts on.  He just hoped she'd be agreeable they needed to speed things up and forget the 'dating' part due to him leaving.

"It went fine, we went out, we had an enjoyable evening," he replied, not wanting to go into details.

Daisy however wanted them.  "Come on Dad, I'm pleased you found someone, have you told her?"

"Yes," he admitted as she dragged him into a shopping arcade.  "Those tablet things you were telling me about, are they expensive?"

"It depends what you want?  You could probably get one free with your phone plan, mum let me get one but I have to pay seven pounds a month for it."

"Is that all?" he asked, trying to remember what network he was with now since he'd changed it when he'd discovered Lee Ashworth had stolen a bunch of letters.

He spotted the phone shop and Daisy smiled.  She thought it was about time she modernized him, the photographer didn't seem anywhere near his age.  After checking his account and Daisy saying she had a model just like it, half an hour later he stepped outside, Daisy carrying the paper carrier bag and they headed to get some lunch.

"I'll show you how to download all the apps," she told him as they ate.  "You'll want a chat one and video calling.  You got loads of data with the plan."

"I don't think I'll use it all," he admitted, putting his specs on as she passed it to him.

"What about when we move?  What did she say about it anyway?" Daisy asked him as he squinted at the screen.

"I thought she was mad at me but she took it quite well.  Daisy, I can't just leave her behind," he admitted, thinking he'd be better turning the screen around to make it wider.

"Then why go out with her?  Oh, you mean to carry on seeing her then when you bring me back?  She's okay with that?"

"Yes, I was surprised since we'd only just established a few things," he replied, passing the device to her.  "Where's this video calling thing then?"

Daisy smiled at him.  "What things?  Did you ask her to be your girlfriend?" she teased him.  Alec looked at her.  "You did!" she laughed.

"Yes though we both admitted it other people before we actually agreed," he admitted.

"Geez Dad, how did you do that?" she asked, starting to scroll through the various 'Apps'.

"I mentioned it to someone at work and she, well she told the printer's delivery man she had a boyfriend."

Daisy giggled.  "So, what are you doing about it?  Just seeing each other when you bring me back?"

"Well that depends," he replied, knowing he wouldn't get the device back and she'd use all the data up in one go.

"On what?  I'm okay with you seeing her while I'm with mum," she assured him, still flicking through what she thought he needed.  "Honestly though, is she okay with it?"

"So she says but I had to promise her something to get her to agree to still being my girlfriend when I leave."

Daisy stopped what she was doing.  "Such as?  You didn't ask her to visit when we go to live there?"

Alec was about to say yes when he saw the look on her face.

"Why, is that a problem?" he dared ask.

If it was, what could he say to Rose?  She'd just agreed because he'd said she could visit but if the two of them didn't get on?

Chapter 15
Daisy grinned at him.

"What do you want me to say Dad?" she asked as he put his new toy back in the box and took his specs off.

"That you would be agreeable, it's only every other weekend," he replied, wondering what she was getting at.

"It's been bad enough putting up with Dave," she sighed, finishing the last of her milkshake.  

"Is that partly why you agreed to come and live with me?" Alec asked, thinking maybe it was a bit much to expect her to welcome Rose's presence the weekends she wasn't going to see her mother.

"Well, yeah, partly but I wanted to say sorry, that I completely ignored you for something you'd not done and it made you ill.  I never expected to have to share you though," she replied, Alec still wondering which way this was going to go.

He had nothing to lose by asking her as they got ready to leave.

"So, what do you think?  Why not meet her properly next Friday night, see how you get on?" he asked hopefully.

"I suppose so?  I'm glad you found someone but with going away, I thought you'd finish it?"

"I would have done, had it just been the odd date but I've seen her most of the week," he admitted as Daisy put her jacket on.

"I thought it was when you were just picking my photos up?  Hang on, how did you get to see her the other night if last night was your first date?"

"Ah, well, I happened to be passing on Monday when she was leaving the studio," he started to explain.

"Dad, what are you like?" Daisy laughed as they got outside and she put her arm in his.  "Go on, what happened after you went to get something to eat?  Did you see her on Tuesday?"

"No, I saw her on Wednesday when I went to get your photos, we got a takeaway," he admitted, trying not to let on about the extra photo.  "Then she invited me round for a meal after I invited her out last night."

"Wow, you didn't waste any time, did you Dad?" she laughed as they went back to his car.  "So, do you really like her then?"

"I think I do," he smiled as they reached the car.  "I asked her to be my girlfriend, providing she survived last night, going out properly and she did.  She came back to my place last night."

"She did?  It must be serious then?  So why are you asking if I'm okay with it?"

"I have to give you a choice or I'd be no better than your mother," he replied.  "So, will you meet her on Friday night then?" he asked as they set off to his flat.

"I hope you tidied up, if she stayed last night," Daisy grinned.

"What makes you think she'd stayed?" he asked.

"She went home?" Daisy laughed.  Alec didn't answer.  "Thought not.  I hope you didn't use the pullout bed?"

"Daisy, not that it's any of your business but no, we did not get that far.  She stayed but nothing happened."

"Yeah, okay, I'll believe you.  So, you want her to visit the weekends we don't come back here then?  You never even said before how often."

"I was going to make it once a month but I can't expect Rose to travel down on her own the other three weekends.  You could stay with your gran the other weekend?" he suggested.

Daisy was trying to keep a straight face but was failing.

"Okay Dad, I get it.  You won't be able to stick to seeing her once a month and mum sees Dave a lot.  I'm just glad he's not moved in with us."

Alec thought the man already had, considering Tess turned him down flat the day before he had his pacemaker fitted.  He'd been surprised she'd turned up at the hospital.

"Did you think he had?" Daisy asked him as he didn't reply.

"The thought crossed my mind, I thought he would have done by now," he admitted as he turned into the driveway of the small block of flats.

"Geez Dad, trust me if he had, I'd have come to live with you when you first came back," she smiled.

"Why didn't you say?  I would have told your mum to go ahead and invite him," Alec smiled back.  "So, you never answered me."

Daisy got out of the car and Alec stood resting his hands on the roof.

"Do you need an answer now Dad?" she asked him.

"I'd like one before I take you back tomorrow night," he replied locking the doors.

"Why?  When are you seeing her again?"

"Tomorrow night when I've dropped you at your mum's.  She understands I see you at weekends but I thought if you were agreeable, she could come round for a while on Friday nights, for you to get used to each other," he suggested.

"For when she stays the weekend with us?" Daisy asked as they went up to his flat.

"Well that was the idea.  What do you think?" he asked, thinking it could still go either way.

"I'll give it a try I suppose?  I know you'll just sneak off to see her anyway.  Just one thing though," she added.  "She's not staying overnight is she?"

"No, not next week anyway, I'll just take her home.  Why?" he asked, thinking he needed something stronger than the tea he was about to make and thinking they'd best go out again to the supermarket.

"Well if she does, I don't want to hear you both, I might be older now but still, sharing with your dad and his girlfriend is a bit much to get used to."

"Well how do you put up with Dave then?" Alec wanted to know as he made his tea.

"Why do you think I escape at weekends?" she grinned, going for a soda in the fridge.  "Are we going shopping?" she asked as she took the last one.

Rose had got finished for the morning and got the bus into town, meaning not to forget the security camera Alec had not mentioned before he'd left, which she found a bit strange after he'd gone on about it before.  He didn't need any more excuses to call at the studio if they were going to see each other every night except Saturday and maybe only for a few hours on Friday if his daughter didn't like the idea.

Before either of them knew it, evening had come around and Alec was itching to try his new device out to call Rose, after Daisy reminded him what to do.

"You'd best call her first Dad," she warned him.

"Right, of course, she might not answer," he grinned, picking his phone up.

Rose was watching TV just after seven when her phone rang to the tune she'd assigned to Alec's number, having resisted the one they'd danced slowly to the other night.

"Hiya, how's Daisy's stay going?" she greeted him, curling up in the chair.

"Fine love," he replied, aware Daisy was grinning in the other room, him going in the kitchen when he'd got up and was being all nervous.  

"I got that camera you said you'd fix for me on Monday, not that you need any excuses to come round any more."

"No, I don't suppose I do?  I got a new device today, thought I'd try it out by video calling you."

"Yeah?  Okay then, has Daisy been showing you how to use it?" Rose asked.

Alec smiled to himself.  "Somewhat," he had to admit.  "I have made video calls before."

Almost an hour later, Alec having retreated to the bedroom when Daisy put her earphones in and pulled faces at him, they said goodnight.

"Night then Alec," Rose smiled back at him.  "Hope you didn't use up all your data?"

"No, Daisy said I get a generous allowance and who do I have to video call except you?" he asked.

"Well, I have no-one to call either, my mum doesn't know how and I don't know how many times Mickey and I showed her.  So, see ya tomorrow night then?"

"Yes, I look forward to it love and maybe we can do some more dancing?" he asked, thinking since when did he actually look forward to dancing?  "Maybe to the song you seem to like the most?"

"Yeah, I've always loved that song, it seemed just right the other night," Rose told him.

"Yes but you missed out the first few sentences," he reminded her.

"I know, I wasn't sure you'd like my singing," Rose grinned.

"Was that the only reason?" he asked, remembering she seemed to be a good singer.  "Maybe something else was stopping you, like a certain three words?"

Rose looked at him, wishing he was actually there and not a mile or so down the road.

"Well, I wasn't sure what you would think if I did," she confessed, feeling herself blush and hoping he wouldn't notice.

"Then maybe tomorrow night you can bring yourself to sing it from the beginning?" he asked, knowing now how he felt about her and things seemed to be going well.

He thought maybe she'd not wanted to spoil the mood the other night as they'd danced and it had given him the excuse to send messages when he'd got home.

"Maybe you can dig out another song, one that goes along the lines of saying something stupid?" he asked, hoping she wouldn't hang up on the call.

"Oh.  Well I think I have that one a CD somewhere.  I keep meaning to get one of those music players but I've never got around to choosing one," Rose replied.

"Ah, well I had thought of getting one of these tablets but I took the plunge today, since Daisy said I could get a free one with my phone plan and just pay monthly," he admitted.

What he didn't want to confess was that he wanted a bigger screen so he could talk to her when he moved away because he was going to miss her terribly and more than he cared to admit.

Rose went quiet then spoke up.  "I'd best let you go then, Daisy will think you've gone to sleep," she smiled as he'd made a point of revealing he was in the bedroom.

"Yes, I came in here because she was making faces and I wanted to talk in private.  So, think about what I said, will you?  I mean about that song.  Rose, sometimes, things get awkward to say and we have to find a way around it and if it means by using a song, then that's fine, it's been used millions of times to express feelings."

"Yeah, I suppose so then?  Things have happened so fast this last week Alec," she replied.

"Tell me about it," he smiled at her.  "I can't remember the last time I left work early on a feeble excuse to see someone and have everyone guessing what I was up to.  I also can't remember being shy about admitting I had a girlfriend either."

"Oh, I never had that problem, I was always denying I was with Mickey," she laughed.

"What was it with you and him then?  Were you ever serious?" Alec wanted to know, mainly if there was any chance the other man would get jealous and pay her a visit.

"Now I think about it, no.  We grew up together and just got thrown together when I was old enough.  James was the one I thought I would settle for, I suppose it was because he was smart and funny and didn't treat me like Mickey used to, assuming everything was about him.  Sorry, you don't want to know about that."

"Yes, I do Rose.  You can tell tomorrow night, when you sing the beginning of that song but I want you to be able to mean it, not just sing along because I ask you.  Think about it."

"I will Alec, I'm just a bit overwhelmed, things are happening so fast and that's what happened before, with James.  It was like dating a whirlwind, he never stopped for a minute.  There was only Monday nights we didn't see each other, he took an evening class at the college and trust me, I needed that to recover," she half smiled.

Alec thought what an idiot he was in suggesting they only avoided seeing each other for one night, he was as bad as this James had been in rushing her and assuming she wanted to spend all her evenings with him.  He had an excuse though – he was leaving in a few weeks but there again, the other man hadn't even told her.

"Then maybe Friday nights, well just this next Friday you can meet Daisy but we could leave it after that, if you prefer?" he asked.

"What?  No, it's fine Alec, you're leaving soon, we'll be going a week without seeing each other," she replied, looking disappointed at the suggestion.

"Sure?  Rose, I didn't know your last boyfriend crowded you."

"Yeah, the oncoming storm, that was James.  At least you told me you were going away, he just sprung it on me and said he'd intended going on the tour all along but hadn't decided exactly when."

"He used you Rose, I am really sorry I never told you on Monday that I was leaving."

"It's okay Alec, it's just when you did tell me, well it reminded me and I was just getting over it."

"It was fairly recent then?" he wondered out loud.

"Yeah, six months ago, I started to try and get back to reality after he left but when he came back and didn't even want to make up, I started looking for a studio of my own, my boss told me I was ready, in more ways than one and staying in London wasn't an option."

Alec felt sorry for her.  She was trying her best to get her life back together after someone had left her and he was going to do the same to her.  How could she want to be with him and he'd not had the courage to tell her from the start he was going away?  Well he suppose at least he'd had the guts to finally tell her and suggest they kept seeing each other, which was more than the other man had.

"So, you're prepared to take me on even though I don't know when I'll be leaving?" he asked after they stared at each other.

"Yeah you plum, you're not James but you might not like something about him."

Alec already didn't like him.  "What might that be?  Do I remind you a lot of him?  I can live with that Rose, really, unless you say I'm his double or something?  Then I'd have serious doubts."

Rose was guilty by her silence as he looked at her, thinking hell, what had he just implied?  He continued.

"Rose, do I look like him or just remind you of him?" he asked, trying not to sound angry.  "I need to know if I do and if so, just how much?"

"Alec, I'm sorry, I can't do this right now," she replied.

"So am I Rose, I thought you were the one but if you agreed to see me as some sort of compensation for your ex leaving?"

"What?  You seriously think that just because I was getting over him, I took comfort in you?" she asked, trying not to get upset.

"You're right, we shouldn't talk about this via a video call, even if it is private.  I'll come and fix your camera on Monday night, we can discuss it then and if you want to back out, then maybe it's for the best?  Goodnight Rose."

Before she could answer, his end went static and she threw her phone on the sofa after disconnecting the call.  Why had she gone and ruined everything?  He was nowhere near anything like James had been, Alec had been honest with her about him leaving, well only after a few 'dates' but at least he'd come out and told her.  

She knew when he came round on Monday, he would fix the camera then leave, maybe it was best he did so before they embarked on a long distance relationship because she wasn't sure she could do it.  She had to face it, she had fallen in love with him after she'd promised herself she'd never love anyone after James.

Alec was angry as he disconnected the call to Rose.  He should have known it would be something like that, women like Rose Tyler didn't attach themselves easily to him just like that.  He'd seen the tears in her eyes as he'd ended the call.  She should have just come out and told him but he was just as guilty over it, leading her on like her ex had done that they could have a stable relationship when they'd both known they were going to be leaving her.

He tried to convince himself maybe it was for the best, before they got too involved and hurt each other because he for one would have found it hard to go away and leave her behind, even if Daisy was agreeable to Rose visiting every other weekend.

He opened the bedroom door and Daisy looked up.

"Dad, what's wrong?" she asked, turning the TV off.

"I think I may have just done something really stupid," was all he would admit.

Chapter 16
Daisy got up and faced him.

"What have you done Dad?" she asked, thinking she was just getting used to the idea of him being serious with Rose, even when they moved away.

"Nothing, no matter, it's too late now, the damage has been done," he replied, not wanting to talk about it to a teenager.

She followed him into the kitchen.

"Tell me what happened Dad, you were acting like you couldn't wait to talk to her earlier, being all coy about not letting me hear you so out with it.  What did you say to her?" she demanded to know.

"I didn't say anything," he protested, wishing he'd given in and bought a bottle of Scotch while they'd been at the supermarket but not thinking it was a good idea with her being there, not that he usually drank for the sake of it.

Now though, he wished he did, he'd ruined everything by not hearing Rose's explanation but what could she say to make it any better?  Her ex of not that long ago had looked like him, was she just using him to get over it?  In hindsight, he could have let her answer but what was he supposed to think?

"Well it seems to me one of you said something that upset the other," Daisy observed.

"Well thank you, agony aunt Daisy," he tried to smile.  "Since when did teenagers know more than their parents?" he mused out loud.

"I could take offence at that Dad," she replied.  "So, she said something and you took it the wrong way?" she guessed, not really needing an answer since it was written all over his face.

"Something like that," he replied, waiting for the kettle to boil.  "I don't want to talk about it.  Do you want to go bowling tomorrow?" he asked, trying to change the subject.

"Not if you're going to be a misery the rest of the weekend," Daisy grinned, leaning back on the chair.  "Seriously, call her back and sort it, it can't be that bad, you seemed to be getting on really well with her, what changed?"

"Her ex – she admitted I sort of look a bit like him," he admitted.

"Is that all?" Daisy giggled.  "So, that's a problem?"

"Yes, what if she's just using me to get over him?" he asked, going in the fridge for the milk, not that he really wanted the tea in the first place but it was something to do and his mouth was dry with the lump in his throat.

Why had he got so jealous, if it was jealousy?  Rose was hardly likely to make up with a man who had dumped her to go off travelling, was she?

"Have you heard yourself Dad?" Daisy asked.  "Trust me, I see it all the time at school, a boy will dump one girl because he sees another blonde.  So how much alike do you resemble her ex?"

"I never asked, it was enough she told me," he replied, leaning against the counter.

"It might not be by that much then Dad, you should give her a chance."

"Maybe, I'll think about it.  So, bowling tomorrow?" he asked, trying to get her to stop questioning him.

"I thought you were seeing her when you'd taken me home tomorrow night?" she asked him.

"She won't want to see me when I told her she could back out if she wanted," he had to admit.

"Seriously?  What did you say that for?" Daisy wanted to know.  "You said she could back out of being your girlfriend?  What sort of choice is that?"

"Hang on," Alec protested, putting the mug down.  "Whose side are you on?  A while ago you were questioning why I'd asked her when I knew I was leaving.  Aren't you supposed to take my side?"

"Not when you're being unfair," Daisy replied. 

"I'm being unfair?" he asked, a little confused as to why she'd changed sides suddenly from her not wanting Rose to visit when they moved.  "She did not have to tell me about her ex."

"Well she did and maybe she didn't want to hide anything from you or for you to find out when it got more serious.  You can hardly blame her for that Dad."

Alec wondered since when did he take advice from his daughter but Daisy was growing up fast, despite her problems.

"I promised to install a security camera in her studio on Monday evening, I'll think about it."

"It might be too late by then Dad.  What then?" Daisy asked.  "Are you going to bed?  I can't go until you do, remember?"

Daisy went off to the bathroom and he considered what she'd just said.  Maybe he and Rose needed some time to think about this, Rose had been right, a lot had happened in a short time.  A while later, he adjusted his phone alarm and got into bed, thinking back to when Rose had stayed the night before and that he might never see her again if she called or sent a text to tell him not to bother with the camera.

They could have had something good despite him leaving but he'd blown any chance of that now, she'd surely hate him for refusing to listen and discuss it before he'd hung up on her.

While Alec had been talking to Daisy, Rose had been stunned by his reaction, wishing she'd never told him about James.  Was he right though, had she taken to him because of who he reminded her of?  She thought of calling her mother but it was getting late and she probably wouldn't get any sympathy out of her anyway.

All her mother would say was stop picking a man who looked like James and it was her own fault and if she went back to Mickey, the problem would go away.  She thought she'd just sleep on it and decide tomorrow if she still wanted Alec to fix the camera for her and discuss what she'd told him but it had hurt.

She had thought she could trust Alec, he'd taken it well that she'd had someone who had left her to travel around and if she'd not been honest with him about them looking alike, she wouldn't be feeling like this now, upset and angry that Alec thought she was using him.

The next morning, Alec was a misery, not having got much sleep thinking of the big mistake he'd made in not letting Rose explain things to him or had he been right to be annoyed?  Tess had used him to keep a roof over hers and Daisy's heads while she'd been having an affair right under his nose and it had hurt.

Did that make Rose any better than his ex wife?  He decided to see how things went and if she called to say not to bother about the camera, the least he could do was fix it for her even if she didn't speak to him, it would still worry him she had no security in the studio.

As he and Daisy had breakfast, Daisy glaring at him, he decided enough was enough.

"Just leave it Daisy, I said I'd think about it," he told her as they cleared up.

"Well I hope you'll come to your senses Dad," she replied, already growing tired of the prospect he'd go back to the days when he'd been ill and be a proper grump.

"Well that's not down to me, is it?" he asked.  "Rose may not forgive me for hanging up without listening to her."

"So you just give up?" Daisy replied.  "You have to at least try.  I know I wasn't keen on the idea of you and Rose but if this is a sample of what you're like without her, I hope you can both make up."

They set off to the bowling alley situated by the new shopping mall just after eleven, Alec finding a parking space easily between the two buildings and made their way inside.

Rose had got up and decided against telling her mother about what had happened, she didn't need reminding she always fell for the wrong man and she'd let Mickey go but after she'd turned twenty, she'd wanted more than Mickey could ever offer but why did she keep doing this to herself?

Thinking a shopping trip would do her more good than sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she got the bus in the opposite direction and rode out to the new shopping and entertainment complex about a mile away and went inside.  She'd seen posters for it, it was only recently opened and now seemed like a good time for a visit.

She wandered around the first floor then made her way down the escalator to the ground floor, smelling food from the food court and feeling a little hungry but she avoided the stand of the place she'd been to with Alec last Monday night.  As she was about to leave, Alec and Daisy had joined the queues each of them wanted but they never Rose.  That was until Rose came out of the rest rooms and saw them at a table, Daisy teasing him over something.

"Daisy, I am not going to even try what you are eating," Alec protested at some dish she'd got from the noodle bar while he'd swallowed his pride and gone to the chicken franchise despite it making him think about Rose.

"Suit yourself, this is great," Daisy mumbled as she swallowed a huge chunk of her meal, Alec pulling a face.

Rose stood at a distance, wondering if she should go over to them but it might annoy Alec even more, depending on if Daisy had taken his side or not.  She turned to wander out of the food court but not before Daisy had seen her.

"Dad, look, is that Rose just over there?" she asked him as she'd looked up from her plate.

"Where?" he asked, trying to scrape back his chair and almost spilling his drink, Daisy grabbing it before he actually did.

"She just left, towards the shops.  Thought you didn't want to see her?" she grinned.

He sat down again.  "Well she's gone now, she could be anywhere," he admitted disappointedly. 

"Then finish up, she might not have left the mall yet," Daisy told him.  "Geez Dad, you're acting more my age."

"Then what?  No, best leave her, if she saw us, she would have come over," he told her, trying to convince himself mainly.

"Would she?" Daisy asked, finishing her drink.  "Not if she thought you didn't want to see her again.  Right, when you drop me home tonight, you'd better go round and see her or I won't come and live with you in Broadchurch."

"What?" he asked, knowing she was trying to force his hand.  "What makes you say that?"

"Because if you go away and don't make up with her, you'll be unbearable and I refuse to live with you.  I'd rather face everyone who got into trouble with me than live with you if you leave her."

Alec pulled one of his faces, knowing his daughter meant it but what could he do?  They wandered around for a while, Daisy getting him to buy her a new t-shirt she'd taken a liking to, mainly because she'd dragged him in every fashion shop on the pretence he owed her for being a misery and hoping they'd bump into Rose.

Rose however had got a few things and gone out to the bus station outside the mall, waiting half an hour for hers but couldn't bring herself to go back inside in case she'd been spotted and Daisy was dragging Alec around looking for her.  Well that was if the teenager hadn't told him it served him right for getting a girlfriend who was younger than he was and it would never have worked out.

She thought maybe it was for the best, the flirting had been just that, him making excuses to see her had been a novelty to him and he couldn't accept that she'd gone out with someone before him who just happened to bear a resemblance to him.  Her mother had always told her everyone had a double, Alec though was one of triplets if a certain Scottish actor was included but he was well out of her reach, she'd often teased James about it, which could have contributed to him going off and leaving her she supposed.

Daisy finally had enough and they went back to Alec's flat but just before six as he was getting ready to take her back to her mother's she stood in the doorway.

"I meant it Dad, go make up with her or I won't go to Broadchurch with you, I'll take my chances here," she declared, looking defiantly at him.

"Daisy, I can't.  She'll be mad at me, she'll never take me back."

"You don't know that unless you try Dad.  You were going to see her after you drop me off so go, she can only close the door on you but at least you'll have tried," she replied.  "I thought she'd said you could call round after I'd gone home?"

"Yes, she did, if I took some Chinese food with me," he almost smiled as he remembered what Rose had said.

"Then stop being an idiot and go take her some," Daisy grinned at him, going to hug him.  "I want to go with you Dad, I know I can't go to college here but if you break up with Rose, well I don't think living with you would be such a good idea, you won't find anyone else like her."

"You think you can put up with her visiting every other weekend?" he asked.

"Yes, if it makes you happy Dad," she replied, kissing his cheek.  "So go smarten yourself up, go get her a Chinese takeaway then go tell her you were an idiot for hanging up on her last night."

"Is that an order?" he grinned, going into the bedroom to put his tie on, fastening it as he always did and Daisy grinning.

"Yes, go say you're sorry for not letting her explain, she may have told you for a very good reason."

"Such as?" he asked as she straightened his tie and he tried to stop her.

"How do I know Dad?  I'm just a teenager.  It doesn't matter what I think, does it?"

So he drove Daisy back to her mother's, the teenager reminding him of her threat if he backed out then he drove in the direction of Rose's flat, pulling into the car park outside the takeaway and ordering the omelette and chips he knew Rose liked and hoping she wasn't looking out of the window as he left his car where it was.  He walked around the row of shops and to the stairs and getting to the top, felt like a schoolboy on his first date, the plastic carrier in his hand.

He stopped outside Rose's flat and with his fist, got ready to knock on the frosted glass panelled door but stopped.  This was it, this was the moment he had to ask her to forgive him for hanging up and not wanting to listen to her explanation as to why she'd admitted such a thing.  As he knocked before he ran off to avoid her, he waited until he saw her approaching and felt another lump in his throat but this time, it was due to the apprehension she'd either slap his face or let him in and as she opened the door, it could go either way as she stood there.

"Alec," was all she said, looking at the white plastic bag in his hand.

"Rose.  You said I could call round if I brought food."

She stood back to let him in, which to Alec meant maybe he was halfway there.

She went into the kitchen, Alec following her.

"I wasn't expecting you," she admitted as she got some plates from the cupboard.

"I wasn't going to call round but I couldn't just leave things until tomorrow," he admitted as Rose opened the carton after getting the chips out.

"Are you trying to bribe me into forgiving you for hanging up on me?" she asked, not giving anything away.

Alec was guilty by his silence as they sat down, after he picked up the remainder of the wine and two glasses from the draining board.

"Maybe?  Will it work?" he asked hopefully.

Chapter 17
Rose wasn't sure about this.  He had doubted her motives why she was with him and it had hurt.  Ever since he'd hung up on her last night, she'd told herself it wasn't going to work with him going away, even if they made up but here he was, trying to make up for it.

When she'd seen him in the mall, her heart had leapt and she felt like the first time she'd met him just over a week ago.  Ever since then, he'd made her happy, even him telling her he was going away hadn't been too bad, he'd said they would manage and she'd agreed.  He would have found out about James sooner or later, her mother would have pointed it out if Mickey hadn't beaten her to it.

Alec was watching her as she ate.

"Well I was hoping you might say something Rose," Alec spoke up as they'd eaten in silence.  "Daisy saw you at the mall today."

"Did she?  I thought neither of you had seen me?" Rose finally broke the silence.

"You had disappeared, she dragged me around the fashion shops looking for you," he grinned, sipping on his wine.  "It cost me a t-shirt."

Rose almost laughed.  "Sure it wasn't the other way round so you could tell me it was over?"

"Rose, I'm sorry for hanging up on you last night, I was wrong to do so.  I should have let you explain."

"Yeah, you should have Alec, I wanted to get it out of the way, before you met my mum, she'd have just come and said it, not so tactfully and if Mickey had beaten her to it, well, I won't even go there."

Alec put his glass down.  "You were being honest with me and I was the one who should have told you I was leaving, before I actually did and you took it better than I expected.  Please Rose, can you forgive me?" he asked hopefully.

Rose pretended to consider.  After she'd got back from the mall, she'd been debating whether to call him or not, to ask if it was all over.  She'd thought she'd finally found someone and then he'd announced he was leaving but unlike James, he was prepared to still see her.

So when he'd arrived unexpectedly on her doorstep, she'd been surprised and had just let him in.  She'd only half expected him to turn up the following evening to fix the camera in the studio and if he had, she knew he would say it was all over but he was apologizing, how could she not give him a chance?

"Well, maybe then but I suppose it must have been a bit of a surprise?" she had to admit.

"Yes, you could say that and I was unfair about it, I know that now.  He left you and I expect you were upset when I said I was leaving town, that it sounded like I was doing the same as he had done to you?"

"Yeah, a bit," Rose smiled.  "Let's just forget it then?"

"I can do that.  There's only one more thing, no, two more things to settle then?" he asked, getting up to collect the plates.

Rose got up to help.  "Yeah, what are those then?" she smiled, glad they'd made up.

"Well, when I find out when I'm leaving, I'll have to give a month's notice on my apartment."

"Oh and if it's more than a month before you can leave?" she asked.

He put the plates on the side of the sink and went to put his arms around her shoulders.

"Well I was hoping you may be able to help me out with that?  Am I presuming too much?"

"What about your visits with Daisy?" Rose asked, putting her arms around his waist.

Alec looked at her.  He'd almost pushed her away last night and she was more concerned about him still seeing his daughter.

"I can see her during the day, it may only be for one weekend.  So, what do you think?" he replied.

"What's the other thing?" Rose wanted to know, leaning on his chest.

Alec kissed the top of her head.  "That if we dance to that song you like, you may be able to sing the first two lines?"

Rose smiled.  "You mean 'Something Stupid'?"

"No, you know the one I mean Rose but I told Daisy last night after I ended that call that I had maybe done something stupid," he had to admit.  "I'm really sorry love, for hanging up last night."

"I know you are Alec, I know how you felt.  James admitted to me that before we met, he had this French blonde girlfriend."

"Really?  So you thought he either had a liking for blondes or you reminded him of her?  I should never have said what I did, I was in error.  So am I forgiven love?" he asked, nudging her for a kiss.

"You plum, yeah, I forgive you, we'll get over it."

"Then we will do the dishes and you can find that song.  Oh, I need to move my car, it's around the front."

"Yeah?  Did ya think I wouldn't let ya in?" she asked, giving in and kissing him.

"The thought did occur to me," he replied.

"Well go move it and I'll move the cone," she offered.

"It's heavy, I will move it before I get my car, that's if I'm staying for a while?"

"What do ya think?" she asked him.  "If you're not sure when your transfer will come through, we should agree how much we see each other."

"I think Saturday night apart is enough, for now but when I move?  Well Daisy will have to get used to sharing me when you visit us.  We'll see what happens on Friday then?"

"Yeah.  Well I'll clean up while you move your car then?  Unless you want to go out?"

"I missed you last night love, I would rather stay in and dance with you."

That agreed, Alec insisted on helping clean up then went to move his car.  They danced to a few other tunes, including the one Alec admitted he'd done last night, that he'd said something stupid and it wasn't the fact he'd said he loved her.

"Daisy was going to refuse to stay the weekend because of what I said last night," he told her as they danced.

"You told her?" Rose asked, draping her arms around his shoulder.

"I told her I had done something really stupid," he smiled, kissing her cheek as the song came to an end.

Rose moved away and went to the CD player to find the one she wanted, going back to him and as the song started, she sang along.  As it ended, he whispered to her.

"I love you Rose and I'm sorry I almost drove you away, twice."

"It's okay Alec, I love you too and I thought you were going to leave me like James did."

"I should have been more understanding, that he left you and I said I was leaving."

"It doesn't matter Alec, you're still here and we'll make it work.  So, you come over every night or I'll go to your place after work, yeah?" she asked.

"I will come and pick you up.  So you are working on Tuesdays then?"

"Yeah, I might have already got a few bookings when I check.  Look, if Daisy doesn't want me over every Friday, it's fine."

"She'll get used to it love," he tried to assure her, kissing her neck as they stood.  "Once we get moved, she will feel differently."

Well he hoped so anyway and if not, she would be paying more visits to her mother than she had reckoned on.

Alec stayed over, setting his alarm early so he could go get changed but leaned over as they got into bed.

"No more fooling around Rose, we have six weeks, maybe less before I leave and I don't want to waste them, do you?" he asked.

Rose put her hand on his bare chest.  "No, I don't either Alec, last night, I thought I wouldn't see you again."

"Then come here and I’ll show you how sorry I am for being a total ass and not listening to your explanation.  Seriously love, just how much do I remind you?"

"Not that much Alec, he had no beard, well except once or twice when he didn't have chance to shave and he had a London accent, not Scottish.  Sorry, I shouldn't have said anything."

"Best get it out of the way but while I was trying to find a way to tell you I was leaving, you were also holding something back," he reminded her.

"Yeah, what was I supposed to say Alec?  I didn't know how to without coming out with the fact you could be his twin.  Then you would have left anyway.  I thought we were over it?"

Alec thought for a second.  They were both as bad as each other.

"Yes, we are, now, sure you are covered, only I couldn't go get anything with Daisy dragging me around the mall looking for you," he smiled as he turned out the bedside lamp.

"Sure it wasn't the other way around?" Rose decided to tease him.

"You got me love," he admitted as he flipped her over and reached under her vest top.  "She was right, I was being a misery and she told me I should stop being an ass and go find you."

"I went out to wait for the bus back home, I couldn't face going back inside," she told him as he raised the garment.

"I'm sorry Rose."

Unlike Friday night, he wasted no time in removing the vest top and almost hesitated at her underwear but she helped him pull one side down then the other.

Then she whispered to him.  "I'm covered Alec, I want to be with you."

"So there will be no more late night texts except Saturday nights until I move then?" he asked as she helped him take her underwear off.

"No, there won't be," she promised as she help him take off his shorts.

Rose sighed as they touched, wrapping her legs around his as he moved her to where he wanted her.

"I wouldn't have objected if you'd brought something with you," she told him as she felt him touching her inner thigh gently with his fingers as he tried to adjust himself.

"Why spoil things love, it would only get in the way of us being together properly.  Now shush, I want you Rose."

They changed places a few times, Rose clinging hold of him as they moved and making contented noises as Alec let out his own sounds, telling her she was doing everything right as she responded to his guidance, complying with him moving her.  As they finally tumbled over the edge, Rose grabbed his shoulders, almost marking him.  As he slowly moved away from her, she tried to pull him back.

"Later love, this is the first time since I was ill."

"Sorry, you should have said," was all she replied.  

"I never found anyone I wanted to even try to have sex with until now.  You were just perfect Rose.  It's not polite to tell the woman you love that she is the first in a long time."

"I wouldn't have minded, I know you've been ill Alec," she tried to assure him as she moved onto him and he put his arms around her.

"Sorry love, I guess I'll have to work up to making it last a little longer eh?"

"Don't think that wasn't enough Alec, it was more than I expected after I thought I'd lost you.  Besides, that was quite something."

"Really?  Guess I am somewhat out of practice at knowing when a woman is satisfied then?"

"Yeah you plum, you must be.  We have to get used to each other."

"Yes and we will.  Friday night was good but that was better.  So now, we have a lot to discuss before I have to move.  I wish I could back out of it and stay now I have you."

"Yeah, like you said though, Daisy can't stay here and you don't seem really happy here."

"I only came back for her, there was nothing else to come back for but when I go, I'll have a reason to come back every other weekend."

"Just you remember that," Rose laughed, reaching for a kiss.

"I will and if Daisy objects, well she will be the one having to travel, she will soon get the idea but seriously, she encouraged me to go find you at the mall."

"Then I suppose I should thank her?  Does she know you got that extra photo?" Rose asked as she tried to get up.

"No, she would think it rather odd, then I would have to admit it was just a ruse to get to know you.  Going somewhere?" he asked as she tried to get out of bed.

"To get cleaned up and put my underwear on," she replied.

"Why?  I told you I wasn't finished with you yet," he replied, going for her arm.

"I'm not off to the bathroom with nothing on," she giggled.  "You'll just have to remove them when I get back, won't you?"

"You can be sure of that, don't be long then."

Rose hurried back and they resumed where they had left off, Rose insisting she went on top and he was hardly able to stop her.  He made his mind up he wasn't going to upset her again, he'd almost lost her because he couldn't accept she'd loved someone before him who could have been his twin.

He should have known she meant no harm by telling him, she'd agreed to stay with him even after he'd told her he was moving away.  Most women would have said for him to go then but not Rose.  They finally fell asleep, having put their underwear back on but when they woke early, wasted no time in fooling around after they had kissed.

"I want every morning to be like this Alec," Rose told him as they got out of bed.

"So do I love and I will tell Daisy you are staying on Friday nights, well maybe not this Friday but she'll have to accept it.  It's one thing her telling me to go after you but something else actually sharing the same apartment."

"Yeah, I know the feeling when my mum brought her men friends home," Rose laughed.  

She turned round and suddenly got back on the bed and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"I love you Alec.  Bring some things around tonight so you don't have to leave so early in the morning."

"Don't want to stay at my place then?" he asked, turning to kiss her.

"You have that camera to fix babe," she reminded him, kissing him back.

"Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten?" he asked, since it had been his idea.

He left after Rose made him some breakfast, saying he would be round sometime after five.  As they stood at the door, she decided to tease him.

"Not gonna spark any more rumours and sneak off work early then?" she grinned, her arms around his neck after they'd kissed.

"Rose, there are already enough rumours going around love," he replied.

"Then give them something to talk about, admit you have a girlfriend.  When you come round tonight, I'll take some photos of us and get them printed, then you can put one on your desk.  Is that where Daisy's is?"

"Yes, I got a frame for it.  I can get one to match," he told her.

As she watched him walk across to his car, moving the traffic cone then waving as he'd backed the car out, he realised he had been an ass in almost losing her and he may just admit when he got to work he had a girlfriend after all despite him knowing who was going to win the bet.

Chapter 18
Rose watched him drive off and went to get ready for work, happy they had made up.  She had almost let him go, thinking she'd made another mistake, the first one being agreeing to try a long distance relationship but she'd just made a bigger one, letting on he looked like her ex.

She supposed at least he seemed to have accepted it - now all she had to do was admit to her mother who her new boyfriend looked like.  She'd purposely not told her over the weekend because her mother would ask questions and she'd almost had nothing to tell her anyway.  Now, she had to not only admit who Alec looked like but he was leaving in a few weeks.

She knew how her mother would take it.  She went off to work happier than she'd been because she knew they had got past the worst of it.  She was also happy Alec had agreed to her taking some photos later.

Alec got to work in a better mood than all the time he'd been back and his DC noticed as he said 'Morning' to her as he passed her desk that she thought something was wrong with him.  Everyone looked her way but she just shrugged her shoulders as if to say 'don't ask me, I don't know what's wrong with him today.'

"Come on, you must have some idea," someone goaded her.

"How would I know?" she just replied, getting up as he motioned her to go into his office.

"Well find out," she heard from who may probably become the DI when Hardy left.

"Right, I want a stop to all the speculation," Alec told her before she had chance to say anything.

"But Sir, they won't take any notice of me," she protested.

"Well they seem to be asking you all the questions," Alec told her, nodding in their general direction, where everyone was pretending to be busy and not in the least bit interested in why he'd seemed in a reasonably good mood, something he'd not been in since he'd arrived and no-one could even remember how long that had been although most of them thought it was far too long.

He let her go and smiled to himself.  Let them think what they wanted, he would be gone in a few weeks anyway and as soon as Rose took some photos of them and he put one on his desk next to the new one of Daisy, it would give them something else to talk about.  It would also give him something to smile about and give them more reason to be puzzled as to why he was in such a good mood.

He knew he'd almost screwed it all up but he'd managed to come to his senses, well with some help from Daisy, who before he had dropped her back at her mother's had told him in no uncertain terms she refused to go with him if he didn't make up with Rose.  He smiled as he recalled the conversation as Daisy had got out of his car the evening before.

"So Dad, you'd better go round and see her and apologise for being an idiot or I mean it, I'll stay here and take my chances or leave school," Daisy had told him.

"Okay, I will try but she may not even let me in," he'd replied, knowing she was as stubborn as he was and she meant it.

"Well call and get her favourite food, that'll be a start," Daisy had smiled as she kissed his cheek.

"Have you said anything to your mother, about Rose?" he dared ask.

"No, should I have done?  That's your job Dad, if I tell her, she won't believe me."

"Why not?" he'd asked.

"Geez Dad, you're a detective, work it out," Daisy had cheekily replied.

He shook his head as his DC left and called the chief, saying he was on his way to see him.

As soon as he entered the office, the chief knew why he was there and had beaten him to it, having already called his counterpart in Broadchurch.

"Any news yet on that DI retiring?" he'd asked half an hour earlier.

"Yes, it just came through this morning, they cut it to five weeks since he's due a week's leave. Tell Hardy if he still wants it to report to me five weeks from today.  Is he still wanting it?" she'd asked him.

"Are you joking?  He can't wait to get out of here.  There are all kind of rumours going around, the consensus is he's got a new girlfriend though but she may be willing to travel there with him."

"Well DS Miller will be happy to hear that, after what happened at Joe Miller's trial a few years ago."

So now, Alec's chief was about to tell him.

"Yes Alec, five weeks, if you still want to go?"

"Why wouldn't I?" Alec asked, wondering how many of the rumours he'd heard.

His chief looked at him as if to say he could already think of a few reasons, Hardy having a new girlfriend for starters.

"I'll let her know you still want the job then?  So, are the rumours true, you have a new girlfriend?" the chief asked.

Alec felt like replying it was called having a private life for a reason.

"Yes but that will not stop me moving, we will see each other at weekends, my daughter will still want to see her mother and my girlfriend will visit me the other week.  I'm putting a stop to all the speculation."

"I hope so Alec, you don't want word getting back to your ex wife."

That was the last thing he wanted but Tess would find out sooner or later.  They'd not discussed any other arrangement than Daisy going back once a month, how was he going to tell her it was now going to be every two weeks.  Maybe Tess would be annoyed and bundle their daughter to her gran's for the other weekend, with Tess, anything could happen.

If the worst came to the worst, Daisy would have to stay with them, Rose wouldn't mind, it all depended how they got on this Friday.  Now, he could start making arrangements.

"Can I get some time off to move?" Alec asked, since he'd not taken any time off for a while.

"The new chief down there wants you to report to her on the Monday but you can have the Thursday and Friday off, I'll tell personnel.  What are you doing in the way of finding somewhere to live?"

"I'll take a caravan if I have to and look when I get there, getting a school or college sorted out will take more doing.  So, who is in line as my replacement?" Alec asked, hoping it wasn't the DS who was ahead in the promotion stakes but that was their problem, not his.

"I wouldn't have thought that would bother you Alec," the chief remarked.

"No, it's not but it would be a mistake if it were to be who is the current favourite.  Trust me, he's not DI material," Alec replied, getting up.

"Well it's him or bring someone from outside, any suggestions?" the chief asked.

"My ex would do a better job. I know she screwed up once but she redeemed herself.  Maybe you can put in a good word?"

"What's come over you Alec?  You didn't want to go back to your old station because she was there," the chief reminded him.

"Well I'll be gone, I still won't have to work with her, will I?" Alec replied.

"That girlfriend of yours must be softening you up Alec," the chief smiled.  "So, what's her name then?"

Alec stood with his hand on the door handle.

"Her name is Rose, she's a photographer and before you ask, I've not ask her to leave what she does to come with me."

"She must be something then?" the chief asked him.

"Aye, she is, she puts up with me," Alec replied.

Once back in his own office, he sent Daisy a text to say he had a date for leaving and sent one to Rose, hoping now he knew, neither of them would back out, he could live with Daisy backing out but Rose?  Could he leave her behind altogether?

Maybe he could have done last Saturday night when he'd found out about her ex but not now.  He sent one to Rose asking for her to call him when she wasn't busy.  He then wondered if the chief would act on his recommendation of promoting Tess, was she DI material?  Well she was certainly bossy and almost as good as he was at keeping secrets.

Rose hadn't had a very good morning, her mother had called just as she got to the studio, making her late checking her bookings and her mother hadn't been too kind.

"So how are ya gettin' on with that detective?" she'd asked Rose.

"Fine Mum, we're seeing each other, you wanted me to start dating again," Rose had reminded her.

"Yeah, well I mentioned it to Mickey, he remembers the bloke from that murder in Broadchurch.  Mickey says he looks like James, now he thinks about it."

"Great Mum, thanks for reminding me," Rose sighed, trying to log into her work laptop.

"Well you must have noticed Rose," her mother told her.

"You were the one who told me to find out about him Mum," Rose reminded her.

"Well don't ya think it's a bit soon, to be chasing after someone else and who looks like James?  Are you sure you're ready?"

"As I ever will be Mum and he knows, I decided to tell Alec, good thing I did, I knew Mickey would say something to you."

So getting away from her mother, she was pleased to get a message from Alec but had to wait to call him back, since her first sitting was almost due and she had things to sort out.  She finally got the chance but the door buzzer went, she'd forgotten it was time for her delivery.

"Morning Rose," Steve greeted her as she let him in to sign for her order.  "So, you still seeing someone then?" he grinned as Rose signed to say she'd taken delivery.

"Yeah, nothing's changed over the weekend," Rose replied, thinking if it had, she'd still wouldn't have said yes to him anyway.

"That's a shame then, if it doesn't work out, well maybe we could go out?"

"You'll be in for a long wait," Rose thought to herself.  To Steve, she just said, "No offence but if it didn't work out, I think I'd be a bit put off blokes."

"Right, good point but even so, you won't be off them for long, will you?" Steve asked.

"I have work to do and my next sitting's in ten minutes.  I also have to call my boyfriend."

As he hesitated in leaving, Rose thought the bloke couldn't take no for an answer.  Little did she know he wasn't going to give up so easily though.

She finally got the chance to call Alec, meaning to ask if Daisy might want a job after school and Saturday's printing out photos.  It wouldn't work out though and she didn't have time herself unless she took some appointments off the booking schedule but if she did, she'd save money having them printed so she'd be no worse off.

She'd almost got a full day on Tuesday, she was surprised people had snapped them up, which proved families had other things to do on a Saturday.

"Hi Sweetheart," Alec answered as he saw her picture come up on his screen.

Rose was getting to like being called that.

"Sorry I took so long, my mother rang and I've been trying to catch up."

"Never mind love, just thought I would tell you I have a date for my transfer."

That was not what Rose wanted to hear.  Alec noticed.

"Rose, are you still there?" he asked.

"Yeah, I heard.  So it's final then?"

"Yes, I found out earlier, five weeks, I get a few days off for moving, I'll need to settle Daisy at her new school.  I'll be calling them later, now I know.  I'll tell you everything tonight."

"Yeah, there's something I want to talk to you about."

Alec thought this was it, she'd changed her mind about trying to make it work.

"I hope it's nothing serious?" he asked, needing to know.

"What?  Well yeah, I suppose it's serious?" Rose had to admit, knowing she'd mentioned Steve before.

Alec swallowed.  When he'd asked, he hoped he'd been wrong but she'd realised after they'd both kept something back, it would always be at the back of their minds there was something else.

"We'll talk tonight love?" he asked hopefully, thinking maybe he was imagining things.

"Yeah, don't forget I'm gonna take those photos and there's something I want to ask you," she replied.

He knew she was going to ask him if he thought it would work once he'd left.  Did he know the answer?

"Fine love, I will try not to be too late then," he replied, thinking if Rose said about the photos, maybe she wasn't breaking up with him or she was trying to break it to him gently, have something to remind each other what might have been.

No, he'd ask her first, before she took them, it would just make things worse if he let her, wouldn't it?  Maybe if he did and he was wrong about it, it would make things worse.  No, she was worth fighting for, if she wanted to break up, he had to convince her they would make it work.

It bothered him the rest of the day and everyone noticed the change in his mood, which put paid to at least one of the bets.
Chapter 19
When the time came for him to leave to go fix the camera for Rose, he was feeling apprehensive to say the least.  The rest of the office watched with interest as he put his jacket on and checked his phone, wondering if he'd broken up with whoever had the misfortune to get involved with him in the first place.

Alec didn't care as they stared after him, it would be all over with him and Rose later if neither of them could get over their revelations, just when he'd thought it was all settled.  He could have imagined trying to make it work, seeing her at weekends since he tended to throw himself into his work but they'd seen each other almost every night and had agreed to carry on doing so until he left.  Could he really have settled for less?

He got into his car, wondering if as Rose had suggested to take a few things with him for an overnight stay which was now probably on hold, even if she wasn't breaking up with him.  He could easily imagine what the rest of the office were talking about but now, he didn't really care.

His DC was trying to fend everyone off.

"Look," she turned to everyone after they'd thrown all kinds of questions to her the moment the door had closed.  "He told me in no uncertain terms to quash all the rumours so get your information elsewhere, I'm not going to be a part of it."

"Oh come on Sandra, you're our main source of information," DS Mills laughed.

"I'm going home and from tomorrow, I'm out of it, I don't care what you all say.  We have to put up with him until he leaves, whenever that is so get used to it.  You lot spreading rumours isn’t helping his sour mood," she replied, closing her laptop down.

"Didn't he give you any clues when that was?" Mills asked her, leaning on the corner of her desk.

"No but the sooner the better, then neither of us will have to put up with all your questions," Sandra told him bluntly.

"I could order you to tell us," Mills smirked as she nudged him out of the way to get past him.

"Yeah, then he would get to know, wouldn't he?" Sandra protested.

She got to the ladies room and kicked the nearest door, letting out a scream at the way they had all easily turned to her when it had become apparent Hardy was leaving.  Why had she put up with all the questions and not stopped it earlier?  More importantly, Mills would make a terrible DI and she thought she herself would put in for a transfer, just not to wherever Hardy was going.  Still, they could do worse than Mills, they could get Hardy's ex wife, she'd heard of DS Henchard's reputation but at least she wouldn't talk about her ex all day.

Rose was also getting nervous.  Even at lunchtime when she'd taken all her mail to the post office and gone to get her sandwich from next door, they'd noticed she didn't look right.

"Everything okay Dear?" the older woman asked as Rose's sandwich was being prepared.

Rose shook herself out of her daydream, wondering why Alec had seemed a little 'off' when she'd spoken to him earlier.

"What?  Oh yeah, sorry, been a bit of a mad morning," she tried to smile.

"You seem to have become popular," the woman remarked.  "We sometimes get them in here when they come out of your studio, we should pay you commission," she laughed.  "No more trouble with illegal parking then?"

"No, my boyfriend got me a police traffic cone," Rose replied, trying not to let it sound like she was joking.

"He took it seriously then?" the younger woman asked as she came out of the back area.

"Well yeah, since he wanted to park his car there, why should some other idiot be too lazy to walk around from the front?" Rose asked.

She said goodbye after paying for the sandwich and the cream cake she decided to buy to cheer herself up just as the woman she'd argued with over the parking space was coming in.

"Think you're clever?" the woman goaded her.

"Don't know whatcha mean," Rose huffed, trying to get out otherwise her lunch would have to wait since the post office had been busy.

"You know what I mean, getting that police cone.  I saw him putting it there the other night," the woman scoffed.

"Good," Rose snapped back.  "So you know he means business."

She pushed past the woman and went back to the studio, wondering if Alec was going to be in a better mood when he came round later.  He'd been in a good one when he'd left but watching him drive away, could she let him go knowing she wouldn't see him for almost another week?

So now, Alec was on his way there and Rose was putting everything away except her camera and fixing it to the tripod and attaching the timer so she could take some photos of them both, if he'd not changed his mind.  She knew partly why his mood had suddenly changed, she'd not given him any clues as to what she had to ask him.

Maybe he'd thought the worst, especially after she'd also said she had something else she wanted to talk about, that being the persistent Steve.  She knew she had to tell him before he thought the worse and left after fixing the camera for her and told her it would never work out.

Alec pulled into the front car park and sat for a few minutes.  He thought he should give her a chance to say what she had to say and not jump to the conclusion she was going to say it was all over.  He thought maybe he should have stopped off and bought her some flowers but then she would think he was breaking up with her so he was rather stuck.

As he got out of the car and turned toward the studio, Rose having already pulled the grill halfway down, he looked at himself in the wing mirror and told himself to get his act together and beg her not to say it was all over because she was worth fighting for.  As he approached the door, he thought back to the previous Monday when he'd been trying to think of excuses for being there.

They'd already become lovers, despite her knowing he was leaving and he couldn't let her go without at least trying so he pressed the buzzer and waited.  Rose jumped, even though she was expecting him but in the back of her mind, she thought it could just as easily be Steve, still being a pest.

"Alec?" she just asked as she answered, hoping she was right.

"Expecting someone else?" Alec tried to joke, wondering if she was.

She pressed the door release and he ducked under the grill to pull it back up slightly as Rose opened the door for him but it wasn't quite the reception he'd expected as she had barely let him in before throwing her arms around him and going to kiss him before he knew what was happening.

"Hi!" she grinned as he had put his arms around her to kiss her back and he tried to close the door with his foot.

"Hello Rose, that was quite a greeting," he had to admit, trying to figure out if it was a goodbye kiss or a glad to see him kiss.

She led him towards her desk and leaning on the corner, pointed to the box containing the camera.

"I hope I got the right kind," she smiled, the laptop still on.

"I'm sure it will be fine," he replied, picking it up and getting his specs out of his pocket.

"I wasn't sure but I said what I wanted it for," she smiled as he put his specs on the edge of his nose.  "Aw, you look cute in those."

Alec raised his eyebrows, thinking she had a funny way of breaking up with him if it was going to go that way.  He started reading the instructions and opened the box, handing her the installation disk then looking around for the best place to put it.  Rose was smiling at him, as if that didn't un-nerve him if this was her way of breaking up.

"Alec, when we spoke earlier, well I was a bit mysterious, wasn't I?" she asked, staring at the disk.

"A little," he had to admit as he got everything out of the packaging.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to, it's just I didn't know how to tell ya something," she replied.

"That it's not going to work?" he asked as he surveyed the opposite wall and holding up the camera.

"What?  Did I get the wrong camera?" she asked.  "I'll take it back and complain then."

Alec turned back, taking his specs off one-handed then putting the camera on the desk.

"No, I meant you and me, my going away and you agreeing to seeing each other at weekends.  Isn't that what you really meant Rose?" he blurted out without thinking but that was him – no nonsense was his best policy only this time, it was about to backfire on him.

"What?  What do you mean by that Alec?" she asked, standing up to face him.  "Oh, you thought that was what I mentioned earlier?" she smiled.

Alec wondered why she was not being serious, until she took his hand.

"You really are a plum, Alec Hardy.  No, I didn't know how to tell ya that Steve from the printer's was bothering me again when he came in this morning.  I've already told him I have a boyfriend but I don't think he believes me."

Alec could only stare at her.  "So that's why you wanted to take photos, as well as me going away?" he had to ask as she rubbed his hand.

"Well yeah, to put him off.  I did tell ya about last week, I told him I had a boyfriend before we'd actually established that," she grinned, touching his cheek with her other hand.

Alec recalled.  "Yes, though it seemed we were already heading that way, before we did establish it but that was before I said I was leaving town," he replied.

"Yeah and it made no difference, did it?" Rose wondered as he found himself putting his arm around her waist.

"I thought it hadn't but has it Rose?  Have you changed your mind about us, about agreeing to give it a try?  If you have, say now and I'll fix the camera and go now, no sense in putting it off."

"What are you on about Alec?  No, I've not changed my mind, have you?" she asked cautiously.

Alec didn't know what to think of it, he'd gone there convinced this was her way of saying it was over but by the look on her face, it was far from it.

"Daisy was right, I'm an idiot," he admitted.  "I thought you had changed your mind."

"Really, when the only alternative is Steve?" she giggled, kissing his cheek.  "It's you I want Alec but it seems we both had our wires crossed.  Can we please get this settled?  Did ya think I was breaking up with ya?"

"The thought crossed my mind but that's me Rose, after my ex left, I never trusted another woman but I should have known that did not include you.  I'm sorry love, I thought the worse and I am an ass.   Let me fix this camera then we'll talk properly."

Rose rubbed his arm.  "Don't know about talking Alec, I'd rather be kissing you amongst other things," she grinned at him.  "Me saying I had something to ask ya didn't help either, did it?"

"Not really, you have no idea what I was thinking the rest of the day," he had to admit, kissing the top of her head as he pulled her closer.

"Hope ya didn't take it out on everyone in the office?" she giggled into his shoulder, holding onto him.

"Just my DC, she'll be glad when I do leave and she probably started all the betting," was all he would admit.

"Well I won't be glad when ya leave, we do have things to sort out Alec but us breaking up is not amongst them.  What I wanted to ask was if ya think Daisy would want a Saturday job or a job after school, helping me print photos so I can stop using the print shop."

Alec let go slightly.  "That was it?  You really had me worried love, I thought you were going to ask if I thought we could make it work when I left."

"As well as me breaking up with you?" Rose giggled, looking at him.  "You're a real idiot, aren't ya?"

"Well what was I supposed the think when you are being all cryptic on the phone?" he asked.

"Blimey, I didn't mean to sound like that but Steve had just left and I was a bit worried when the buzzer went that he'd come back."

"Really?" he asked, his police detective side coming out.  "Maybe you should tell me exactly where he works so I can have a few words with him then?"

"Leave it Alec, he'll get the message when I put some photos up, just like you putting one of us together on your desk.  I'll just have to put up with him until then, since he'll be round tomorrow after I told the manager I wanted a delivery on Tuesday.  That's why I'm thinking of printing my own and Daisy could help.  I was gonna close an hour early to get them done myself, I can still order my supplies from the printers though."

Alec was so relieved he'd been wrong since their phone conversation, he just held onto her, forgetting the real reason he was there until after kissing and saying he was sorry, he finally went to get the ladder out and told Rose to set up the software on her laptop.

Once she had a good view on the screen and Alec agreeing it was the best place to put the camera, Rose led him to the curtain where the other camera was.

"Rose, we could leave this until another day love," he tried to convince her as she set the timer.

"Nope, the sooner I send these off the better so Steve gets the message," she protested as she leaned against him and he put his arms around her neck and her waist and kissed her hair.

"Just how many photos are you going to take love?" he smiled as the camera flashed and clicked.

Rose showed him as she climbed onto his lap and put her arm around his neck, kissing his cheek.

"Enough to make sure he gets the message but if I cut my opening hours next week, that won't be a problem, will it?" she asked, smiling as another photo was taken.  "I won't lose any money, I'll save it on the actual printing, even having to buy better paper."

"Are you going to print these out yourself?" Alec asked as she posed him for another picture.

Rose had a wicked smile on her face.  "Maybe I should have them done professionally, until I get the right photo paper?"

"You are very devious love but be careful, if you intend that Steve sees them before you get them.  If he bothers you tomorrow, promise you will call me with his work details."

"Yeah.  Now shut up and kiss me," Rose smiled as another flash appeared and all Alec could hear was the click of the camera as she kissed him.

He just hoped she was right, that it would warn the other man off but little did either of them know it was going to have the opposite effect.

Chapter 20


Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

No comments: