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You can't fool me

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Rose Tyler has had enough of men after being abused by one and convinces her long suffering best friend Shareen to move with her to Broadchurch and pretend they are together to keep the men away.  They have been there two months when they get a new neighbour, DI Alec Hardy and when they have been out one night, Shareen goes off with a sailor who's on leave and Rose, who is slightly drunk disturbs Alec and they end up sleeping together after Rose invites him for dinner to thank him for helping her.


Based loosely on the David Tennant film: You, me and him.  Contains no spoilers.


Chapter 1
Rose had finally had enough of men and her friend Shareen almost felt the same so they sat down together and came up with a plan.  They pooled their resources, quit their jobs and looked for somewhere to move to, far away from London where no-one knew them.

Rose had a idea where to go.

"Not there Rose," Shareen complained when Rose mentioned the word 'Broadchurch' to her.

"Why not?  All the fuss will have died down, trust me," Rose tried to convince her.

So two weeks later, they arrived in the seaside town, just before the season started and had both successfully gained employment though Rose had only managed to get a job at the supermarket but she was on the lookout for something else.  They had been there two months when Rose heard a noise next door when it was her day off and she had seen a man go in, dragging some luggage behind him and supposed it was their new neighbour – not that she was interested in men.

They'd been out a few times, sat in a corner arm in arm and the locals so far had given them a wide berth, which was what they both wanted.  All was going well until Shareen started getting the urge to seek male company and it had caused a row, resulting in Shareen going off with a sailor and leaving Rose to stagger back home around the corner.

As she stood outside her next-door's neighbours cottage on the short row just behind the pub, she was frantically trying to find her key.  The light was still on so she risked knocking on the door to seek some assistance, since she'd no idea where Shareen had gone and she'd have to spin a tale to the neighbour.

She heard the door opening and the chain being put on, since it was after ten thirty by now.

"Who is it?" a Scottish male voice asked.

"Hi, it's Rose, from next door.  I can't find my key, I could use some help."

She heard him taking the chain off and the door opened.  Rose hadn't really seen much of their new neighbour, she assumed he was at work all day and had no desire to make any friends but she recognised him.

"Come in then," he invited her after looking her up and down and seeing she was on her own.

Alec Hardy had decided to come back after failing to get his daughter interested in starting over with him by moving back with him.  He'd left it in the 'I'll think about it' stage and after finding Broadchurch had a new CS, had put in for a transfer back.

Rose blinked as she stepped into the brightly lit room after peering in her handbag for ten minutes, using the light from her phone.

"Thanks.  Sorry, I know the key's in here somewhere," Rose apologised, Alec gesturing for her to pour the contents out onto the coffee table.

Rose flopped down on his sofa and took the hint.  Five minutes or so later, she found the elusive item stuck in the lining, which was why she'd been unable to locate it earlier.  She held it up, grinning at him.

"I'm glad you found it.  I'm Alec Hardy by the way and you are too trusting knocking on your neighbour's door late at night."

"I didn't have a lot of choice," Rose defended herself.

"What about your friend?" Alec asked, standing with one hand on his hip and the other fingering his beard, since he'd shaved it off a bit after Daisy said he was a grizzly bear.  

"My girlfriend," Rose corrected him, not that she was sure they could pull it off since they'd never really tried.

"Whatever.  Could you have not called her or knocked on the door?" he asked.

"Geez, if I'd woken her up, trust me, I'd have known about it.  We had a bit of a tiff, she left the pub before me so I assume she's in a mood with me.  Just 'cos I was talking with some friends from work."

Rose hoped it was going to work.  It seemed to do as she threw everything back in the bag and zipped it closed.

"Thanks Alec," she grinned at him.

"Well as long as you found it then?  You may be best putting it on a bigger keyring so you don't misplace it again," he suggested.

Rose did a mock salute.

"Yeah, thanks.  I know who ya are, I knew I could trust you.  I'd best be off then?"

"I will wait at the door until you get inside," Alec insisted.  "You said girlfriend?"

"Yeah, me and Shareen, we're, ya know, together.  I think she got a bit jealous because I work with mainly women."

"I see then?  She may not stay mad at you?" he asked.

Rose didn't really think that was the problem.  This was the first time either of them had mentioned it.

"Night then?" Rose turned as she unlocked the door, Alec stood in his doorway.

He nodded and went back inside.  He thought it was a shame she had a girlfriend but had she just been saying that for his benefit?

The next day, being a Sunday, Shareen must have dragged herself in at some point after Rose herself had got home and was making breakfast when Rose got downstairs.

"I met our neighbour last night," Rose told her as she buttered her toast.  "I couldn't find my key."

Shareen let out a laugh.  "I hope you stuck to our story?"

"Yeah, I made it sound like ya easily get jealous," Rose grinned.  "So are we going out today then?"

Next door, Alec had got up at his normal time and couldn't help thinking about the neighbour who'd knocked on his door last night but it seemed she was probably spoken for.  He decided he'd probably have a drive down the Weymouth or somewhere, just to look around and locate some different shops, now he had an actual wardrobe in his bedroom.  He was about to set off just as Shareen was waiting outside for Rose.

"Morning," Shareen called cheerfully as Alec stepped out.

"Yes," was all Alec could think of, since Miller had told him he wasn't a morning person.

It was just his luck Rose chose that moment to step outside.

"Oh hi Alec," she called out.

"Are you two going off somewhere?" he asked, thinking that was a bit of a stupid question.

"We're off for the bus, if it turns up," Rose replied, locking the door.

"I'm going down to Weymouth, if that's where you are going?  Maybe I can give you both a ride there?"

Rose and Shareen looked at each other, Rose grabbing her friend's arm.

"Hey thanks, that'll save us messing around, if it's no trouble?" she asked.

"It's no trouble, it will take twice as long by bus," Alec told them.

He unlocked his car and Shareen went to get in the back seat, Rose spying the driver's seat was well back and there was no way she was going to be cramped all the way there.  She got in beside Alec, getting a scowl from Shareen.  Once at their destination, Alec suggested they met back up in two hours or so and go somewhere for lunch.  Shareen didn't seem all that keen but as they walked around, Rose said they may as well.

"Don't you go getting friendly with him, remember why we're here," Shareen reminded her as they watched him walk off.

"It's only a ride ya know?" Rose objected, knowing Shareen was annoyed she'd sat in the front but it wasn't her fault that Alec Hardy was tall.

They met up for lunch and once back home, Rose decided to thank him.  As Shareen was opening the door, Rose stopped.

"Thanks again Alec.  I'm off on Wednesday, can I invite you round for a meal, to say thanks?"

Alec looked around to see Shareen had disappeared.

"Won't your girlfriend get jealous?" he asked, not being one for accepting dinner invitations after what happened at the Miller house.

"Nah, it's just a thank you, for helping me last night and for today.  Come round at seven then?" Rose asked, seeing he was having trouble making his mind up.

"Then I accept, I will bring a bottle shall I?" he asked, seeing he wasn't going to get out of it.

Having agreed, he went inside, seeing Rose walk past the window.  Something wasn't adding up with those two, or was he out of practice seeing if he could spot them?  If they were genuine, he'd soon find out when he went round on Wednesday night.

"You did what?" Shareen asked her when Rose told her she'd invited him round.

"Well we've met him now, he helped me last night and gave us a ride today," Rose defended her decision.

"Well you can entertain him but what if he finds out?" Shareen asked her.

"Then when he comes round, we'll just have to put a show on for him, won't we?" Rose smiled.

"We've not exactly told anyone else," Shareen reminded her.  "Maybe we should just forget it and just be selective who we go out with?"

"You changed your tune," Rose remarked.

"Well it was your idea, you and Mickey arguing all the time," Shareen replied.

"Don't remind me.  I'd just had enough of men, that's all," Rose told her.

"Well think about it then, it's mostly holidaymakers around here anyway, we should be okay."

Rose was going to add or next-door neighbours who were detectives but decided against it.

Since Rose never knew which department she was going to be working in from day to day, she decided she'd get the bus a bit later on her day off and find something easy to cook to impress their neighbour but Alec had seen her the day before when he'd been in but hadn't been sure if he should talk to her or not.

He was getting ready to leave on Wednesday evening when Ellie pulled him up.

"What's with you, leaving early, got more shopping to do?" she grinned at him, making the others smile.

"No, I went shopping last night, can't I leave early without all the questions?" he replied.

"Suit yourself then," Ellie laughed.  She waited for him to leave then turned to Katie.  "Bet it's something to do with his new neighbours."

"What makes you think that?" Katie asked her.

"He said there were two women living next door, work it out," Ellie replied.

"Seriously?  Why is he so grumpy anyway?" Katie dared ask.

"Look Katie, it took a lot of guts to come back here, can you imagine if you go home and it's not your home any more?"

"Doesn't mean he has to take it out on everyone though," Katie replied.

"He doesn't, you seem to bring out the best in him," Ellie answered her.

Rose was fussing over the meal as Shareen got back.

"Have you made enough for all of us or do I need to cook my own?" she asked Rose, not sure what was intended.

"There's enough for all of us," Rose assured her.  "It's only to say thanks.  I'm sure I saw him in the store as I was leaving last night."

"Shame he never saw ya, he would have given you a ride home," Shareen joked.

Rose knew her friend was getting a little jealous and at this rate, Shareen would give the game away before she did.  She just had time to go get changed, leaving Shareen to stir the contents of the pan and let Alec in.

"Well come in then," Shareen told him as he held the bottle out to her.  "Rose is getting changed, not that we normally dress up to eat."

"Neither do I," Alec replied.

He had just sat at the table as Rose came downstairs and he couldn't help but stare at her.  Now he had to find out if she was being serious about her friend and herself.  All seemed to be going well, Rose leaving the dishes to soak but noticed Shareen hadn't come back down after excusing herself.

"Seems your friend has deserted you?" Alec observed as he poured some more wine and thinking he should leave his car behind in the morning.

"She's not big on company when eating," Rose smiled, taking a sip.  "So what made you come back or have ya just moved addresses?"

"I went off for a while, to let the town settle down.  I had nowhere else to go when things never turned out how I wanted them to."

"Sorry, I wasn't being nosy, I know what happened here," Rose replied.

"It was hard to miss.  What brought you two here?" he asked, hoping she'd be honest with him.

"To get away and the fact no-one believed us that we'd had enough of men.  It made us realise we didn't need them."

Alec thought they must have both had bad experiences to drive them together.  He could see she didn't want to talk about it though.

"So are you off men for good?" he asked, thinking it was a fair question.

"I don't know, it's only been a few months.  We just felt more comfortable with each other," Rose replied.

"Are you going to ask your friend if she's joining us?" Alec wanted to know, since he'd not really seen how they reacted about each other.

"I'll leave her, she must have had a bad day at work, she works at telesales, she won't have got her target for the day," Rose told him.

"I saw you in the supermarket yesterday, when I was shopping," he admitted.

"Yeah, I thought it was you when I was getting ready to leave," Rose admitted.

Alec knew he was no good at this 'small talk', being at the Miller house should have taught him that.

"Rose, would you like to come back to my place with me, so we don't disturb your friend?" he dared ask.

"As neighbours?" Rose teased him.

"Yes, as neighbours.  I will be on my best behaviour," he promised.  "Bring some music with you."

Once Alec was back in his own cottage, Rose began to relax around him more.

"What is it with you and your friend eh?" he asked as they danced.

"I already told ya Alec."

"Then why don't I believe you?  You seem to forget that I'm a detective.  Did you both have bad experiences?"

"You could say that.  It was mutual, what we decided," she told him.

"Somehow, neither of you seem like you were treated right, that's why you moved away but I won't tell anyone Rose, if you are both putting on an act to scare men away."

Rose knew they'd been discovered, they'd only done it to get out of London, it wasn't like it was for real but could she give in that easily?

Alec stopped, Rose holding onto him.

"So, are you putting on an act?"

"It can't be that good then if you've found us out?" Rose asked him.

"So what really happened the other night?" he wanted to know.

"She went off with someone, I went home but I really did lose my key," Rose had to admit.

"How long did you both think you would get away with it?"

"As long as possible," Rose smiled.  "How did we know we'd end up living next door to a police detective?"

"Well you did and if the two of you are really not together, then I would like to ask you out, maybe Saturday night?"

"I don't know Alec?" Rose replied.

"Well what made you come back with me then?" he asked, trying to work her out.

"So we wouldn't disturb Shareen.  I'm not sure I'm ready to be seen out with a bloke."

Alec let go.  Maybe he'd got his wires crossed?

"Then think about it Rose, you can't hide forever.  Don't you get asked out when you go out with your friend?"

"No, we keep to ourselves, well apart from the other night, Shareen was showing off.  Can I think about it?"

He went to turn the music off, thinking she'd want to leave.

"I'll see you home then?" he asked, trying to hide his disappointment but what did he expect?  "Call round if you change your mind."

As Rose got inside, Shareen was waiting.

"So?" Shareen asked.  "Come on Rose, he fancies you, don't play coy with me."

"It's too much, we came here to get away from blokes," Rose replied.

"Yes, the blokes on the estate because they were the only blokes we knew.  I think a police detective's a bit different," Shareen told her.  "You'd be mad not to at least let him take you out, we haven't exactly advertised the fact we're pretending to be together."

That was the problem, their escape from the estate they'd grown up on when they had got to the stage where they never met any decent blokes who treated them properly.  Shareen continued.

"Rose, give him a chance."

Rose knew she wasn't going to win this one.

"Fine, I'll tell him tomorrow, I'll call on my way home, okay?"

"Good, now let's finish this wine and go to bed?" Shareen suggested.

Alec was sat, wondering how he'd got the signals mixed up.  From thinking his two neighbours were 'together' then realising it was a game they were both playing, he'd thought Rose was giving in to him and she'd at least let him take her out.  Maybe being seen out with him was a bit much?  Maybe he'd be best just inviting her around and he'd make something?

He made his mind up to call at the store tomorrow to see if he could offer a her ride home and ask if she'd at least dine at home with him.

Rose tried to forget about it, going to work the next day, hating the fact of getting a bus for a couple of stops but crossing the main road was a bit much at that time in the morning.  Alec was in the car park just before six, hoping to catch her.  He saw her talking to someone and getting out, leaned against the door.

"Hello Rose," he called as Rose came towards him.

"Hi, been shopping?" Rose asked, as if he'd come up here just to see her.

"Actually no, I came to ask if I could cook something for you, instead of going out on Saturday night?"

"Oh.  Well maybe then?" Rose replied, hoping he was going home or she'd miss the bus and end up walking anyway.

"I get the part you may not want to be seen out with me, if you are trying to establish you're not interested in men," he told her.

"It's not that, the last few blokes, well it ended badly, that's all.  I don't have something against all men."

"Just those who ask you out?" Alec smiled.  "May I offer you a ride home?"

Ellie had wondered why he'd left early again, it wasn't like him and she was determined to find out why he suddenly thought he should keep to office hours.

Chapter 2
Saturday soon came around and Rose was getting nervous, not that Alec wasn't as well.  He'd gone to the 'posh' supermarket down the end of the High Street because it would be embarrassing if Rose were to see him pushing the trolley around filled with the ingredients for the meal he'd invited her for.

Rose was sat having her afternoon break, the others talking about their boyfriends and what they had planned the following day and they all noticed when she didn't join in.

"What about you Rose, any plans?" one of the girls asked.

"Oh, I just met someone, he's cooking tonight," Rose admitted, glad she'd not been bold enough to say she was in a pretend relationship with her friend.

Would she ever have actually admitted it to everyone, in a strange small town?  They'd jumped into it without thinking it over she supposed, in their haste to leave London and their old lives behind them.

"Wow, lucky you, finding someone who can cook," one of the others laughed.

"Well I cooked for him the other night, he lives next door and he helped me out when I lost my key, it was just to say thanks but he invited me back.  I don't know if it's going anywhere," Rose replied.

"Just keep telling yourself that," the first one laughed as Rose got up.

Did she want more though?  Was she ready to start 'dating' again, not that living next door to the man who was asking you round for a meal would count as 'dating' she supposed.  Maybe she should have let him take her out after all?  At least though if things got awkward, she could back off and go home.

Alec had got home and was planning on surprising Rose by being in the car park again, since he'd nothing else to do after he put the meal in the oven for forty minutes, she probably wanted to get changed first anyway, giving him time to prepare everything.  He was out of practice with this sort of thing, the last time had been to prepare a simple ham salad when he'd dragged Ellie Miller round that time when he'd lived by the river.

She'd tried to find out what he was up to the night before but he'd given nothing away – well he hoped not but come Monday morning, he may want to tell someone.  He was going to ask Rose to go out with him the next day and hoped she wouldn't invite her friend, not that he had anything against her friend but he wanted to spend some time getting to know Rose, who he didn't even know her surname yet.

She had the advantage that he'd been all over the news for the past few years, though he was trying to forget that and had been relieved the town had got back to normal but he expected during the summer months, people would wander around the harbour trying to see where Danny had been found and visiting the crime scene.

He was messing with the car radio, remembering Ellie Miller smacking his hand a few times on their outings to Sandbrook and telling him to stop messing with it.  That had taught him since she'd made him tell her what happened the day he'd found Pippa.  He almost missed Rose as she came from a side door and he got out hurriedly and waved.

Rose stood looking at him, not expecting him to be waiting for her and wondering if he was breaking off their evening together.  Two of her colleagues were nudging each other as they recognised him.

"No way!  You live next door to him?" one of them whispered to her.

Rose ignored the remark and went towards him.

"See you Monday Rose, we want details," the other one laughed.

"Sorry, I seemed to have attracted some attention?" Alec asked as Rose reached him.

"Don't worry about store gossip," Rose replied as he opened the door for her.  "Been shopping again?"

"Actually no, I wasn't sure what time you'd get home and I started dinner so I thought I would offer you a ride home."

"I should get changed first," Rose smiled, putting the seatbelt on.

"By all means, take your time.  Do you normally catch the bus home?" he asked as he drove off.

"Yeah, though I have to wait ten minutes or so but it would take me that to cross the main road at this time," she told him.

He saw what she meant as he tried to cross the busy roundabout.  Once back at their cottages, Rose thanked him for the ride home.

"Just give me half an hour or so," Rose told him as they got out of the car.

"There's no rush," Alec assured her.  "What about your friend?"

"She knows I'm eating out," Rose smiled.

"So you were going to let me think you and your friend were, you know, more than friends?" Alec smiled.

"Sorry, we were just being careful.  Besides, you worked it out," Rose smiled back.

Rose went inside and to her room, Shareen was watching TV.

"Are ya gonna be late back?" Shareen asked her when Rose came back downstairs.

"Are you going out?" Rose wanted to know.

"Yeah, some of the girls from the office go across to the pub by the beach, I think I'll go over for a while.  I might meet another cute sailor," Shareen grinned.

"Alec figured us out ya know?" Rose asked her.

"I already gathered that Rose," her friend replied.  "Are ya gonna see him again after tonight?  It'll be a bit difficult to avoid him."

"Well if it doesn't work out I'll have to avoid him, won't I?" Rose asked.  "He was waiting outside the store again."

"Geez Rose, he must be keen or he wasn't sure if ya'd turn up tonight."

Rose thought it was more the latter.  She'd not seen him the day before but she supposed he could have been working late.  

He had been working late the night before, leaving Ellie wondering exactly what he was up to.  She'd even been in the office a few hours that morning, expecting him to be there but there had been no sign of him.  She'd gone to the supermarket before going home and had passed Rose several times, not knowing she was the reason Alec Hardy had been sneaking off early several times during the week.

Alec had put some flowers on the table, opened a bottle of wine and had placed a box of expensive chocolates on the coffee table, smiling to himself that Rose had emptied the contents of her handbag all over it just a week ago.  All that time he'd spent, wondering now that he'd come back if he should start dating again and Daisy setting him a profile up on a dating 'app' that he was now debating leaving since the free trial was almost up.

If his teenage daughter thought she was going to play matchmaker, she was in for a shock that he could choose his own 'dates' without any help and the answer had been next door.   Rose got up the courage to go knock on Alec's door and waited for him to answer, reminding her of just a week ago when she'd been seeking his help.

"Come in," Alec greeted her, taking in the fact she was wearing a silky red dress and a black jacket.  "You look very nice." 

Rose tried not to blush as he offered to take her jacket.  

"Make yourself at home, dinner is almost ready.  Would you like some wine?" he offered as he indicated for her to sit at the wooden slatted table and thinking he should have lit the candles before she'd arrived.

He opened the bottle and poured some wine out for her then went to get the gas lighter to light the candles, though it wasn't really dark but he supposed that was what people did, well that or fairy lights strung from the wall, maybe he'd get some for next time?

"So, whereabouts do you work in the store?" he asked as he placed the plate in front of her and went for his own, turning out the kitchen area light.

"I move around, since I'm new there, I don't really have a department.  They won't let me on the fresh foods counters though, I have to get a certificate to go on there and they never offered."

"Maybe they are waiting to send a few at a time for training?" he suggested.

"Yeah, maybe.  You're a good cook Alec," Rose smiled at him.

"My limit used to salad, ask my DS," Alec joked.  "Back when I was ill a few years ago, I had to be careful what I ate.  She bought me fish and chips one night at work and she thought I was being ungrateful."

"Well if you were ill, it's not surprising," Rose replied.

"I never told anyone, it only came out the night before I made an arrest.  So, what really brought the two of you to the town?"

Rose began telling him about Mickey, her now defunct boyfriend whom she swore she was never going to speak to again and the other various 'hopefuls' who had harassed her into going out with them every time she threw Mickey out.

"So it all ended badly?" Alec asked her, putting his knife and fork across the empty plate.

"Me and Shareen got in a rut I suppose?  We got to the stage we hated them all.  I daren't even take anyone home from work, a few blokes there asked me out but when they wanted to take me home, I had to avoid it.  Word spreads fast on an estate and if I'd taken anyone back more than once, the welcoming committee would have been waiting."

"Sounds like you had a tough time then?" he asked, pouring more wine into Rose's glass then his own.

"It started getting worse, Shareen had the same problem.  Me, I had someone who wouldn't take no for an answer when he kept trying to get me back," Rose admitted.

"Ah, well maybe a friendly warning would be in order?" he smiled.

"Stay out of it Alec, trust me, they're not worth it.  If I ever go back I'm staying away from the lot of 'em."

"Would you like some coffee and dessert?" he offered, getting up.  He held his hand out to help Rose and indicated for her to sit on the sofa.  "I hope you like Italian desserts?"

"How did ya guess?" Rose smiled as she sat down.

After their coffee and dessert, which Rose wanted to know where he'd got it from, he put some music on and helped her to stand up.  Before Rose had time to process anything, he was holding her close and began kissing her neck.

"Am I moving too fast for you?" he asked as she leaned into him.  "I mean if you've been avoiding men for a while."

"No, it's fine.  Non of them even bothered to ask.  I'm sorry about leading you on last week Alec."

"It's fine Rose, I can understand but how were you hoping to pass your friend off as your girlfriend?" he joked.

"Yeah, we never went into the finer details, it was just for show.  It was a daft idea but it got us out."

"No, you were just protecting yourselves, I can't blame you for doing so.  Your friend gave in first though?" he smiled.

"Yeah, it was bound to happen, we never really thought how it was gonna work.  We were just gonna mess around if any blokes were eyeing us in the pub but Shareen got annoyed when this cute sailor kept watching her and I told her she was gonna give the game away."

"Then you lost your key and came to me for help," he reminded her as another slow tune played.  "Did you know who I was?"

"Yeah, sort of.  I remembered that case here a few years ago, it was very sad.  You'd been away though?" Rose asked him.

"Yes, to try and win my teenage daughter back, she's still thinking about it but she may come down for a holiday.  That's why I took this cottage, instead of where I lived before."

"So where did ya live before then?" she asked him.

"Just around the back, by the river though everyone criticised it.  My daughter would not have been impressed had I gone back," he smiled.  "Rose, do you trust me?"

"What?  Yeah, I trust you Alec, I know you're not like the blokes on the estate who never grew up."

"Then you won't slap my face if I try to kiss you?" he asked hopefully.

Before Rose knew it, he kissed her gently to see what her response would be but she soon melted into it, Alec leading her to the sofa and trying to unfasten the zip of her dress.  Rose didn't seem to be minding so he pulled the dress off her shoulders, revealing a strapless bra then he continued kissing her neck.

"Had enough dancing?" he asked as he leaned her against the cushion.

"Whatcha think?" Rose teased him, wagging her finger at him to come closer.

They resumed kissing, Alec pulling her arms out of the dress and Rose going for his shirt buttons.  He kissed all along the top of her bra, Rose content to ruffle his thick brown hair and Alec being glad he'd shaved some of his beard off, though he didn't fancy getting rid of it altogether.  He reached around the back of her black silky bra and went for the clasp as Rose pulled his shirt loose.

The bra came away and he moved it out of the way, his now bare chest touching her delicate skin and he got a surprise when Rose smiled at him and putting her hands on his shoulders, began pulling the shirt down his arms while trying to get him to start kissing where she'd just taken her bra off.

Alec was only too willing to oblige, feeling her hands on his back as she tried to take his shirt off and trying to help her without losing contact with her cleavage.  Trying to toe off his shoes, Rose having already kicked off her black strappy sandals while they'd been kissing, he finished with his shoes and tried to climb on top of her to get a better angle at kissing her more than inviting cleavage that he was staring at in the light from the candles on the table behind them.

Rose twisted around, thinking he wanted her on her side but he held her steady, smiling then kissing her exposed skin.  He'd thrown his shirt on the back of the sofa, Rose was rubbing his shoulder with one hand and ruffling his hair with the other, making what Alec thought were contented noises.

"Mmm, Alec, this is nice," Rose managed to tell him, not that he hadn't already gathered that.

"Rose, would you maybe stay with me tonight?" he dared ask.

Rose thought it was a refreshing change she was actually being asked.

"I'd love to stay but you'll have to lend me a t-shirt," she teased him.

He looked at her in the candlelight.

"You need to borrow a t-shirt?"

"Well yeah, I can't sleep with nothing on," she replied, trying to sound serious.

"I knew you were teasing me," he replied, kissing her cleavage again.  "Let me help you on with your dress or do you want to borrow my shirt?"

"Your shirt's too big for me," Rose smiled at the thought of putting it on.

"That was the idea," he smiled back, taking her arm and trying to put it on her.  "I will just clear the dishes."

"Oh, let me help ya then?" she offered, trying to fasten a button before she stood up and the dress fell to the floor.

"You are my dinner guest," he reminded her, staring at the gap now she had his shirt on, since she'd only fastened two buttons so far, one too many for his liking.

Rose had to roll the sleeves up as they were too long, Alec insisting they left the dishes to soak.  Rose went to retrieve her clothes, Alec putting the kitchen light on and blowing out the candles.

"Do you like the chocolates I got for you?" he asked, since they were still on the coffee table.

"Yeah, thanks.  We could share them?"

"Save them for tomorrow eh?  Would you like to go out somewhere with me maybe?" he asked, leaning back on the chair.

"Yeah, I'd love to.  Alec, don't take it the wrong way, that I didn't want to be seen with you when you suggested we went out tonight, will ya?"

"I think no such thing.  You are new in town, everyone knows who I am, it's understandable."

"Well, I won't be shy if ya ask me to go out again," Rose promised.

"Then I am glad to hear it.  I thought you would be more comfortable dining in with me, I was not trying to impress the town by showing you off."

"I don't think I would have minded being shown off," Rose teased him.

"Now you tell me," he joked.  "After you and if you need to, you use the bathroom first."

"You're such a gentleman, I think you're really sweet," she told him as he waited for her to go upstairs.

He remembered to go check the door, though it locked on its own but he wanted to make sure.  This time last week, Rose had knocked on the door to seek assistance finding her key and now, she was going upstairs to his bedroom and hopefully a lot more than kissing and touching was on the menu.

Rose finished in the bathroom, trying to freshen herself up but she was worried.  She'd only half expected him to ask her to stay after a sort of second date, if the other night had counted as a date.  He kissed her cheek as she passed him on the landing and she went to get into his bed, Alec having turned the duvet down and tidied the bedside cabinet of all his junk.

She hoped he didn't want to get serious, she'd not been to the clinic after her arrival in the town, since she'd never intended to be picked up by a bloke, let alone her next door neighbour.  She'd have to be very careful if he wanted to make something of it but she knew she'd be okay for a while and she intended now to pay the clinic a visit on her day off.

As Alec climbed into bed, turning to unfasten the buttons of the shirt Rose was wearing, he turned out the bedside lamp and hovered above her.  In the light from outside, he could see her inviting cleavage and leaned down to begin kissing there.  That lead to other things, Rose letting him take the shirt off her, putting her arms around him and before either of them knew it, they were lost in each other.

Rose had pulled his briefs down slightly, he'd got her underwear off already and was teasing her, making her giggle as he tried to find out how far she'd let him go.  Then without warning, Rose whispered she wanted him to take his briefs off.

"Are you sure?" he asked, not believing his luck.

Rose wasn't expecting it either, that she wanted to.  As they tossed and turned, Alec turning her onto her side then she ended up on top of him, Rose thought she was going to burst with the sensations and she was still giddy when he offered her underwear back, which he'd grabbed from the headboard with his own.

"That was amazing Alec," Rose admitted as he lay on his back and she was resting her head on his chest.

"That was more than I had expected," he admitted.

"Did you never find anyone, I mean with living in the town?"

"No, I told you, I just came back Rose.  I went to try to make up with my daughter, dating was not on my mind but she tried to set me up on that dating site."

Rose giggled.

"That's not funny Rose," he told her, realising she was teasing him.  "So, are we now dating?" he asked.

Rose pretended to think about it.

"Yeah, I think we might be but I can't leave Shareen on her own too much, she only came down here for me."

"Then we compromise.  We can just see each other on your day off and at the weekend maybe?" he suggested.

"Yeah but there's just one thing.  I can't get to the clinic until Wednesday, if we go out tomorrow, you'll have to call and get something."

"You could have warned me," he replied.  

"Aw, don't worry, I'm fine for a couple of weeks, it's just I'll have to wait until I can take something.  I wasn't planning this when I moved here ya know?"

"I know, sorry.  Yes, I will take the responsibility for when you stay but you don't have to stay every night, not if you don't want to?"

"Yes, I do want to stay but maybe we don't have to have sex every time, if ya don't wanna use those things every time?"

"We will work something out, you are not trying to put me off are you?" he asked.

"No, it was just when I came here, finding a bloke was not of my list.  So, are we going out tomorrow?"

"Yes, we most certainly are then you can spend a few hours with your friend and come back round tomorrow night maybe?"

"Yeah, I can live with that," Rose agreed, snuggling up to him.

"Good, then so can I.  Have you made any more friends?"

Rose yawned.  "Not really, just some of the girls at work."

"Then I should introduce you to my DS, then if you need to moan about me, you'll have a sympathetic ear."

"You're not that bad Alec," Rose giggled.

"Then you can tell that to her.  She has been wondering why I have been leaving work early."

"Then I'd love to meet her and tell her why.  What's her name?"

"It's Ellie Miller, it was her husband who killed Danny, though he got away with it and they drove him out of town."

"Then good, he'd have probably got out for good behaviour, then what?" Rose yawned.

"I'm glad you see it that way.  We can talk in the morning, since you seemed tired," he suggested.

"I'm not too tired for more kissing."

"Yes, I can tell that."

Chapter 3
The following Wednesday, Rose took a walk up into the town and found the health centre, being able to register then went around the back to the clinic, being told to wait for her next monthly before she could start taking what she'd been given.

"If you need to, you can call at the pharmacy and get something," the nurse told her as she was leaving.

"It's fine, my boyfriend's sorting that," Rose grinned.

Rose had gone round every night, staying a few hours with her friend then leaving around ten thirty to spend the rest of the night with her now boyfriend, who had given her the spare key.

Now, she was making something to eat and waiting for him to get home so when he let himself in, she greeted him.

"That was some kiss Rose," he admitted when they parted.

"Yeah?  Maybe I don't have to go off every evening when you pick me up from work?" Rose asked.

"Really?  What about your friend?" he asked.

"I can just go round a bit later or why don't we eat there?" Rose replied.

That was something he'd not been expecting.

"Then why don't I drop you off, you go prepare something and I will come round later?" he suggested.

That sorted, Rose had to go break the news to Shareen.

"This is getting out of hand Rose," Shareen reminded her.  "What was the point in coming down here and pretending we were together?"

"Well I didn't know he was gonna move in next door, did I?" Rose replied.

"Are ya still paying half the rent?" Shareen asked.

"Well yeah, I've not moved in with him yet, have I?" Rose replied.

"Seems like it to me," Shareen told her.  "I hardly see ya these days."

"That's why if he comes round to eat some nights, I'll still see ya," Rose reminded her.

"I suppose I'll have to agree then, won't I?" Shareen asked.  "How did that happen so fast?"

Rose wondered the same, considering she'd been off men.  So Alec collected her from work every night and Ellie was still trying to work out why he was so keen to leave early.  She decided to confront him after a week went by.

"Have you got a girlfriend?" Ellie stood in his office doorway and asked him.

"Shut the door Miller.  Yes, her name is Rose, she lives next door to me," he admitted.

"Well it's about time you admitted it," Ellie laughed.  "So do I get to meet her?"

"I will ask but she works at the supermarket, you've probably passed her a dozen times," Alec replied.

So now, Ellie had made it her mission when she went shopping to look for likely candidates, thinking it could be any of the female staff but on seeing Rose, dismissed her as not being his type.  Alec had mentioned it to Rose, who told him to invite her round one night.

"That's not a good idea love," he told her a week later.

"Just put her out of her misery," Rose smiled.

So he gave in and Ellie knocked on the door on the Friday night, now she had her father staying with them and had a babysitter for Fred.

"These cottages are nice," Ellie admitted as Alec let her in, Rose in the kitchen area.

"Hi, you must be Ellie?" Rose greeted her, wiping her hands.

"I've seen you at the supermarket," Ellie admitted.

"Probably, I move around a lot," Rose admitted, feeling a bit off but not wanting to say anything.

They talked over their meal, Rose taking her time and Ellie noticed as she offered to clear up.

"Something wrong that you don't want to tell your boyfriend?" Ellie whispered to her.

It had now been three weeks since she'd had her first time with Alec that night, now she was getting worried since she was almost a week late.  She'd not said anything to Shareen, not that they talked much these days and she was sure her friend would pack up and leave.

Things were about to go downhill at a frightening speed.

"I don't know Ellie," Rose admitted quietly.  "It's probably just a bug going around at work but I can't afford to have any time off.  I share next door with my friend."

"What does she do?" Ellie asked her.

"She's in tele-sales, she's good at it," Rose replied.

"Then talk to her, I know we've just met but I want to be friends with you," Ellie told her.

"Thanks Ellie, I think my friend may quit on me and go home," Rose admitted.

"What brought the two of you here anyway?" Ellie wanted to know.

"To get away from the blokes on the estate, it ended badly, we were both mistreated so we pretended to be together when we got here.  Alec saw through our little game though," Rose managed to smile.

"Me and some of the others knew he must have got himself a girlfriend," Ellie told her.

"What gave me away Miller?" Alec joined in as he turned away from watching the news.

"All the signs were there," Ellie grinned.  "We thought you were using one of those dating apps."

"As if," Alec grumbled.  "I am still capable of getting a real girlfriend."

Rose went over to him, leaning over the back of the sofa.  He reached for her hands as she kissed his cheek, feeling something pull in her stomach so she retreated.

"Yeah, I'd say he can still get a girlfriend," Rose smiled.

"Well he's changed in the last few weeks," Ellie had to admit.

"For the better I hope?" Rose smiled.

Ellie couldn't disagree on that point.  After she left, Rose went to sit beside him.

"Have you something to tell me?" Alec asked, Rose thinking she and Ellie hadn't been quiet enough earlier.  "Have you miscalculated something maybe?"

"Oh, how did ya guess?  I was just a bit late, I got my visit from mother nature earlier, trust me," Rose bluffed.  "I have to go back next door to get a few things, I won't be long."

"Well if you are feeling off, we can just snuggle up in bed then?" he asked hopefully, since Tess had been a bit of a cow on her 'off' days.

"Yeah, we can do that," Rose agreed.  "Sometimes it just shifts a bit, maybe I got it wrong, it's not easy keeping up ya know?"

Rose went back next door to find Shareen had company.

"Oh hi Rose, this is Laura, from work.  We were just going out for a drink."

"Hi Laura, I'm Rose, nice to meet ya.  I just came back for a few things, I got caught out," Rose grinned.

Shareen followed her upstairs.

"What do ya mean?" Shareen asked her.  "I thought it was last week or was that just for show?"

"No, actually it wasn't then and it's not now, I was just telling Alec that.  Shareen, I think I got caught out that first time I was with Alec."

"Seriously?" Shareen asked, trying to keep her voice down.  "So what did ya tell him Rose?"

"That I just got it today, I have to be sure first, I got pains earlier and then when I leaned over," Rose admitted.

"Rose, you'd better check up then," Shareen told her.  "Now you have to pretend to be off for a few days, what will you do if you really do get your monthly?"

"Fend him off for a week?" Rose grinned.

"Well good luck with that then.  Seriously, get a testing kit," Shareen suggested.

"It's only just over three weeks Shareen, maybe I did get the dates mixed up?"

So going back and going through the pretence, which she hated doing, she waited until the following Wednesday and went up into the town to the pharmacy, not wanting to get a testing kit at work.  It would be four weeks on Saturday since she told Alec she was covered and she'd hated lying to him.  She took it back to what was still hers and Shareen's house and decided to sneak back later.

She went back, telling Alec she was just going to see Shareen for an hour, Alec agreeing she couldn't just abandon her friend and grabbing hold of Shareen, went upstairs.

She was right to be concerned, since she'd got a better brand of the testing kit.

"You have to tell him Rose," Shareen told her.

Rose sat on the bed, shaking her head.

"He's gonna be so mad."

"Well I'd say he's as much to blame as you are Rose," Shareen replied.  "Best go get it over with and show him the test."

Hugging her friend, she put the test in her shoulder bag and went back to what was now her second home, though she spent more time there than next door.

"Hello sweetheart, I wondered where you had got to," Alec smiled at her.

"Alec, we need to talk."

"Sure love, what's wrong eh?" he asked.

"I didn't have my monthly last week, I was scared to tell ya I was late."

"So why would I be mad at you?  You mean you were completely out and it's now?" he asked.

Rose went in her shoulder bag.

"No Alec, it's not now and it wasn't last week," she told him, pulling out the test.

"You're pregnant?" he asked, his hands on his hips.  "You told me that first time you were safe or was it after that?"

"It can't have been after that, you were wearing something.  I really thought I'd be okay."

"You should have told me Rose and you should not have lied to me last week."

Rose threw the kit on the sofa and ran upstairs.  She gathered her things she'd brought round over the last few weeks and threw them into her holdall.  Alec was waiting in the kitchen area, seeing the bag.

"Alec, I know you hate me right now so I'm going back next door.  I'll let you know what I'm having and I won't stop you having contact but Shareen and me may go back to London.  We won't be able to afford the rent when I have to give up work.  I'm sorry, I didn't mean to lie to ya."

"Rose, I can't deal with this right now," he admitted.  "I was going to tell you that Daisy wanted to come for a visit during the next holiday."

"Good, I'm glad she's thinking about it.  Bye Alec and if it means anything, I love you.  You were the one that made me feel all men weren't the same."

Before he could say anything, she was gone, leaving her key on the kitchen counter.

Six weeks later, Rose and Shareen had begged their mothers to take them back and Rose had told hers she was pregnant with Alec's child though the conversation had been a bit strained.

"I suppose I have no choice but to take ya back?" her mother asked.

"We can't stay here, I can't stay working at the supermarket much longer, I've had to tell the supervisor since I can't lift or bend and there's not much else I can do there, they had to train me for the self-service checkout but I'm on my feet all the time.  I'm gonna give my notice next week."

Daisy had been for a visit for a week and Rose had caught sight of her as she'd looked out of the window, thinking about Alec.  She'd thought he'd come round after a few weeks but she also thought he must have been really mad with her.  She handed her notice in at work and on the Monday night, knocked on Alec's door.

"Hi Alec.  I came to tell ya that me and Shareen are going back to London, sometime next week.  Here's my mum's address, I'll still let ya visit to see the baby."

She put the folded piece of paper into his hand and turned away, leaving Alec lost for words.  He'd wanted to tell her he wasn't mad with her, it had just been a shock but Daisy had told him he was responsible and should do the right thing before she'd left.

"Do you love her Dad?" Daisy had asked before she'd left.

Alec sat with his head in his hands.

"She was something else Daisy, I never expected to come back here and meet her but she lied to me, twice."

"But Dad, she was maybe scared to tell you?" Daisy suggested.

So now, Rose had gone back next door and she was leaving to go back home and have the baby on her own.  Couldn't he forget the fact she'd lied about being okay and pretending to have her monthly visit to throw him off the scent, so to speak?

Ellie had picked up on the fact the day after Rose had left him, she'd offered to talk to Rose but he'd told her to leave it.  Ellie though thought if she could get Rose on her own, she could tell her what a misery he'd been lately but every time in the supermarket, Rose was busy but the next day, Rose was on customer services and Ellie had gone in her lunch break and had spotted Rose leaving to take her break.

"Rose," Ellie called after her.

"Oh, hi Ellie, I can't stay long, I was just going for my break."

"Are you allowed in the café?" Ellie smiled.

"Yeah, okay.  I'll just grab a sandwich and a drink then."

"So did you two fall out?" Ellie asked her.  "Only he's been a real miserable git the last few weeks."

"I had something to tell him, he didn't take it very well," Rose admitted.

Ellie leaned over.  "Did you tell him you were pregnant?"

"Yeah, he didn't know how he felt about it so I left," Rose admitted.

"So why are you still not talking?" Ellie wanted to know.

"I was giving him time Ellie but I'm going back home next week, I just handed my notice in.  I can't stay here, I can't afford that cottage on my own and I won't get any help, being away from home."

"Have you heard yourself Rose?  Go see him."

"I did, last night.  I told him I was leaving and gave him my mum's address," Rose replied.

"That's it?  You didn't ask him if he was okay with it now?" Ellie asked her.

"It's up to him, he was the one who didn't want to accept it," Rose told her.

Ellie shook her head, meaning to knock their heads together since they were obviously both miserable without each other.  She got back to the station and closed the door to his office.

"What?" Alec asked, tapping his pen on the desk that made Ellie lean over and grab it from him.

"Go see her tonight," Ellie told him.

"Keep out of it Miller.  She lied to me, twice," he replied, remembering telling Daisy the same thing.

"Well I saw her a while ago.  She's going home."

"I know Miller, she's free to leave if she wants."

"You're just going to let her go, she's having your baby, Hardy, what's wrong with you?  So she didn't tell the truth, she was scared of telling you.  You said yourself she left home to get away from men, then you do something stupid like ignore her, proving all men are the same.  She probably thought you were different.  Go meet her from work and tell her you love her, you idiot."

Ellie went back out, leaving Alec staring into space.

"So did you find out?" Katie asked her.

"Yes, I proved what an idiot he is," Ellie replied.

She was watching him pretend he was busy but all he could think about was Rose going home and bringing his child up on an estate and struggling like her mother had done to bring her up.  Why was he still mad at her?  Could he really leave her when he could offer her a home and they brought the child up together?  Miller was right, he was no better than the men she'd come here to get away from.

He got up, put his jacket on and left without a word.

"Finally," Ellie called after him, making everyone look.

He got into his car and drove the short distance to the supermarket and parked where he'd see Rose coming out.  Rose had not been happy that Alec's DS was trying to patch things up between them but as she got her things and went out of the staff entrance, she saw Alec leaning on the car.

"Hello Rose.  Can I give you a ride home?  We need to talk."

Rose got in, not being too sure about using the seatbelt but she supposed other pregnant women used them.  They got back and Alec let them into his cottage.  He surprised her by turning and trying to put his arms around her.

"I'm sorry Rose.  Miller said I'm an idiot and she's right, for once."

"I'm sorry too Alec, I was waiting for you to say something but it doesn't alter the fact I'm leaving.  I can't stay here, I can't afford it and I quit my job."

"Then find another with less hours and stay with me?  You don't have to work though."

Six months later, Rose had a few false alarms during the night but Alec was getting concerned.  Daisy had been back and he'd been surprised how she and Rose got on and had helped him decorate the spare room with removable decals and put some pictures up.  Ellie had got Beth Latimer to donate some baby furniture which had saved them some money and now, there was only a few weeks to go.

They had met most lunchtimes across from the station, Ellie sometimes joining them and Alec had been taking great care of her.  Then one night, just after they got to bed, Rose having relaxed in the bath and Alec enjoying helping her out, she cried out.

"Alec, I'm not joking this time," Rose told him as she normally waited for it to pass.

"Stay calm love, I'll call the hospital and see what they say.  Are you getting pains?"

"Of course I am and they're not going," Rose complained as she pulled another face.

He explained to the nurse on duty and was told to take Rose in and was asked if she needed an ambulance.

"No, I can bring her," Alec insisted as Rose pulled another face about climbing into his car.

"You'd be just as bad climbing in the back of the ambulance love," Alec smiled as he helped her get dressed.

"Too late, I think my water broke, I can't go in the car now," Rose replied.

So he called for an ambulance and since she could just walk down the stairs, they got a chair to wheel her out into the street and lifted her inside, Alec getting in with her.  Once they arrived at the local hospital, two nurses took charge, leaving Alec to give Rose's details and show her medical insurance he'd put her on so she could get a room to herself.

He'd just come away from the desk when he could hear Rose yelling.  He opened the door to see the two nurses, one holding Rose's hand and the other checking her.

"Let me do that," Alec insisted, the nurses knowing who he was besides being Rose's partner.

"We've call the doctor in," one of the nurses told him.

"Can't you deliver the baby?" Alec asked indignantly, wondering why.

The nurse in charge pulled him to one side, Rose still in pain.

"We need the doctor, to give her something for the pain but I think there's something wrong, since she's not due yet.  Is she sure of the date?"

"Yes, she's sure of the date," Alec assured the nurse.  

"It's just the baby's heartbeat doesn't seem right, when was she last given a check-up?"

"She had a scan and she was fine," Alec replied, not happy about this.  "What are you trying to tell me?"

Two hours later, after Rose had been sedated, Alec was sat beside her, wondering how to tell her what had happened.  Something had gone dreadfully wrong and he was blaming himself despite the doctor saying it was no-ones fault.

"I'm very sorry Mr Hardy, we tried to revive the baby but she had a very weak heart, it just gave out," the doctor had told him.  "There's no-one to blame and nothing to stop her trying again.  We'll keep her in overnight and see how she is in the morning but she may want to just rest, she can stay here or go home."

Alec had already known Rose had been having a girl, having finally given in and being told the last time Rose had been for a scan.  It was four in the morning by now and he was still waiting for Rose to wake up and was dozing off himself.  He was going to call Ellie in the morning to tell her he wouldn't be in for a few days and he'd already booked some time off.

He had no idea how Rose would react when she woke up, she may want nothing to do with him and would pack up and leave.  He also had to break the news to Daisy and Rose would want to call her mother.  He suddenly felt his hand being squeezed as Rose woke up.

She didn't take the news very well as Alec climbed beside her and held her as she sobbed.

"It wasn't your fault love, the doctor will explain it to you when he comes to check on you."

"Was it because of those false alarms?" Rose wondered.

"I don't think so love, it was also not caused by the delay getting here, the baby just had a weak heart."

"I thought your heart problem developed on its own, was it passed from you?" Rose asked.

"I doubt it very much, I was not born with a heart problem love," Alec replied.

"Go get some rest Alec," Rose suggested.

"I'll be fine, I'm not leaving you."

Rose was allowed home in the afternoon, Alec having gone back to get the car and some more clothes for Rose.  They'd just got back when Ellie arrived, giving Rose a hug as she lay on the sofa.

"You're not giving up are you?" Ellie asked as Alec made some drinks.

"I think we'll leave it a while Ellie," Rose told her.

"Rose is right, it was a happy accident, next time it will be planned," Alec told her.

Well he hoped they would be able to plan it next time anyway, if Rose didn't decide she'd been put off but that remained to be seen.

The end!

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