Rose was trying to put everything behind her, the fact she had been so reluctant with this Alec and she had to face the reality this was her adopted world and she was like Alice down the rabbit hole, in a changed world that she had helped create and she was never going to see Pete, Tony, Jake or Mickey again but what bothered her most was another version of her mother, what if this Jackie didn’t even know her or they’d fallen out? Alec was looking at her as they sat arm in arm eating icecream in the late afternoon sunshine in the Devon resort of Sidmouth.
“You look miles away love, what’s wrong?”
“Aw, nothing. We should be getting back soon before we hit the traffic, you know what that road’s like going back into Broadchurch, some farmer will be out on his tractor.” That had been who she thought was the other Alec’s pet hate when they had been out somewhere.
Now it was slowly sinking in it had been this one all along, this was her changed Alec and it was taking some getting used to. All the decisions everyone made that made a difference, how could she be so sure this wasn’t another altogether different version? She was so confused and she only had the man sitting next to her, in his sexy sunglasses eating a chocolate ice lolly and Rose just wanted to lick it with him, this Alec was very dangerously close to her giving in to him.
She had loved the version of him she’d spent six months with, she had been ready to give up everything and marry him, live in their blue riverside chalet and spend the rest of his life with him, however long he had, if he’d kept his word and got himself fixed. Maybe that was why she loved him so much, he was broken, quite literally and this Alec was just as opposite as you could possibly get.
“Earth to Rosie baby?”
“Come on, let’s go back to the car since you are convinced we are going to get stuck behind a tractor. I’ll put my siren on if we do, how’s that?”
“Why not? I’m sorry Alec, all this is still throwing me off, I don’t mean to spoil our day out.”
He leaned over and kissed her cheek, his lips were cold from the icecream.
“It’s ok Rose, I get you are all mixed up right now. Let’s go home then, we still have things to talk about and I’m sorry as well, I can’t fix this love, I wish I could, I would do anything for you but it’s out of my league. I’m good but I’m not that good.”
He took her hand and helped her up, walking arm in arm to where he’d parked the car.
No traffic on the way back, Rose thinking he was disappointed he didn’t get to use the siren. She stretched out on the sofa with her legs over Alec’s as he watched the news channel, promising her that they would go out for a drink later and Rose saying he had to also promise not to bust Nigel Carter’s nose again.
“I was only trying to impress you love,” he chuckled, going for her bare toes.
“Yeah, I know you were but I could have decked him myself, you didn’t have to go Rambo on him.”
“Forget it, he was a mercenary in a string of really crummy films, a bit like Chuck Norris.”
“I’ve heard of him, never heard of Rambo, you need to be careful what you say.”
“I know, I feel like Alice in wonderland.”
Alec shook his head.
He was too busy playing with her toes, discovering he actually liked it.
“The Wizard of Oz?”
“Was he in Harry Potter?”
“No you plum, it was a film. Glad you’ve got Harry Potter or I’d go crazy. You’ve never heard of Alice?”
“No, should I? I’m not an expert in girl’s names or is that a boy’s name?”
It was her turn to shake her head. “It’s like an anagram of Alec with an ‘I’ in it,” she mused.
“I’ll try and remember that then, for future reference. Are we going out to eat?”
“Can we just get takeout? You could order, nip up to the mini market and get some more wine and we can stay in, spare Nigel Carter.”
“He asked for it, trying to steal my girlfriend.”
“I wasn’t your real girlfriend then, was I?”
“You mean you are now?”
“I thought we’d established that Alec?”
His hand wandered up her leg and under her black skirt, she’d taken her black tights off when they’d got back. Then he leaned over and she put her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss.
“Look at us, being all domestic.”
“Really? Is this what it’s like, being a couple, not shouting and arguing? Not being accused of things you’ve not done?”
“Yeah, like it?”
He gave her his answer as his hand reached the top of her leg and stopped, like he was waiting for her to slap it away but she didn’t. He carried on under the fabric and leaned down to kiss her again.
“In a hurry to eat Rose?”
Twenty minutes later, he was getting off her and Rose was adjusting her underwear, Alec pulling up the zip on his jeans, a big smirk on his face. He knew she was close to breaking, since they had now started taking a shower the last two mornings but he knew they couldn’t do that when he had to go to work, he would be late but would go to the station with a smile on his face.
After they had eaten and Rose had drunk two glasses of wine to Alec’s one, they were dancing to some slow tunes, Rose’s arms under his open shirt, Alec’s around her waist, his hands resting on her rear, his fingers trying to reach under her short skirt but falling that bit short but didn’t stop him trying.
He finally whispered he wanted to go to the bedroom and Rose readily agreed. As they tossed and turned under the duvet, they had no idea what they were going to wake up to in the morning. Alec woke first to the sound of his mobile buzzing and it wasn’t his alarm, it was his chief who had been woken early by her boss. The digital edition of The Broadchurch Echo was online just after seven and Rose and Alec were front page headlines, not only about their new relationship but a complaint from Nigel Carter about the bloodied nose he’d got the week before.
“Rose, you have to wake up,” he called out, shaking her.
He’d got out of bed and gone into the bathroom to avoid disturbing his now girlfriend. Elaine Jenkinson had been less than kind, telling him to get his ass into the station, pronto but he wasn’t worried about getting chewed out for the complaint from Carter now he’d read the headlines on his phone. Now he was worried about protecting Rose.
“Get dressed Rose, we may have to leave,” he told her as he got into his trousers, having tried to fasten his shirt one handed while trying to find his friend Alistair’s number in his phone contacts.
“Alec, does this mean Pete Tyler’s supporters may come after me?”
“What do you think Rose? I know we thought all that would go away now, if we were right about this world springing up around you but it may take more time than we thought.”
“But why me? What has the local reporter got against me?”
“He’s after me, you were just a bonus Rose, he’s known Carter a long time, I’m fairly new. I’m going to call my friend and get him to pull a few favours in, get me a job up in Scotland somewhere and a place to stay. He’ll take care of everything. Pack our cases Rose and I’ll be back before you know it. It may also get special Branch interested in you again.”
“I can’t do this Alec, go on the run.”
“I’m coming with you Rose, don’t worry, we’ll sort this love.”
He leaned down to kiss her then let her get dressed.
He got through to his friend and briefly told him about Rose, who people thought she was and the trouble they were finding themselves in.
“Leave it to me Alec, I still have contacts though I doubt they’ll take you back in Glasgow. I know the chief up in Fort William, I’ll give him a call.”
“Thanks Alistair, this may be over nothing but I can’t take the chance, not where Rose’s safety is concerned.”
“She’s really got to you then?”
Alec remained silent. Alistair continued. “I’ll call you, just get packed and I’ll leave it to you how you get up here.”
After kissing Rose goodbye and telling her not to open the door to anyone, even if they said he’d sent them unless he called her, he walked the short distance to the station. Elaine was waiting for him, a printed copy of Olly’s damning article. Alec tossed it on the desk.
“You actually believe that garbage Elaine?”
“The chief constable does. Really Alec, I did try to warn you, taking up with a woman called Rose Tyler. The tests proved nothing conclusive, now he wants her out of the county, we don’t want any trouble with special Branch, they will come back now.”
“Let them, I’m not worried about them, that moron just told the remains of Torchwood who supported Pete Tyler where she is, we were trying to keep that quiet.”
“Well, if she’s innocent and not really her, she’s got nothing to worry about. You have her test results and I expect you printed out a statement to say we don’t think she’s the one who is wanted?”
She saw by the look on his face she was right, she’d expected nothing less from him, since it was obvious he was even more involved with her now.
“As for Nigel Carter, I’ve tried to persuade him not to press charges but now he’s told his side, it will be difficult to clear you, the whole town will back him.”
“The man is an idiot, he went after my girlfriend, what was I supposed to do, let him take her outside and assault her? Ok, if he wants to play it that way, I’ll have Rose come in and make a complaint about him, see how he likes that.”
He got his phone out. When Rose answered he said, “Rose, will you come over to the station and make an assault charge against Nigel Carter?”
Rose was a bit surprised but the man wasn’t going to go accusing Alec for defending her.
“I’ll be right over.”
Rose was also amused, she’d read the article and was halfway filling the case Alec had bought her and had some of his clothes out on the bed. She left what she was doing and walked across to the station, stopping at the front desk.
“I want to make a complaint.”
The desk sergeant expected it was about Hardy even though he’d seen the two of them together and half the station knew they were living together. Maybe she’d finally had enough of him. It had been quiet for the last week and all good things come to an end.
“Don’t tell me, against Hardy?”
Rose shook her head. “No, Nigel Carter, he tried to force me outside the pub with him. He said I should go outside with him and when I told him no, I thought he was going to drag me out and I was scared. Alec Hardy came to my rescue and now, he’s been accused for defending me so I’m pressing charges against Nigel Carter.”
The desk sergeant got a complaints form out and handed it to her.
“I’ll send a WPC to interview you, just wait there.”
He called the CS and was told to inform her when Miss Tyler had been seen.
“Well Alec, if she goes ahead, the odds may change to your favour, I doubt the CPS will take it any further, it’s counter productive. As for the other matter, I can’t do anything about that, you’re on your own with that one.”
“I know Elaine, I’m always on my own except this time, I’ve got Rose. Was there anything else?”
“No, once she’s made it official, we’ll bring Carter in, it may persuade him to drop the charges against you. Trying to entice a young woman to go with him is a serious offence and though he’s not squeaky clean, I doubt he’ll want attempted sexual assault charges bringing against him.”
“I would imagine he would want to avoid that. I have things to do then I need to take a leave of absence, I have three weeks holiday due, I want them from lunchtime. I’m taking Rose away for a while until all this dies down, she’ll be safer there. I’ll keep the house for now, we may need somewhere when we come back, if no-one finds her and if they do, you’ll be locking me up for murder because that reporter is not going to get away with this, putting her in danger.”
He went downstairs to find out where Rose was and told the WPC to leave just as Rose was signing the complaints form. After the officer left with the form, Alec switched off the recording equipment and pulled a chair around.
“Are you ok Rose?” he asked, putting his arm around her.
“Yeah, just a bit surprised. Do I have to wait?”
“No, officers will bring Carter in, he’ll be told a counter complaint has been made about him and he will probably withdraw the one against me. He won’t want to be branded in the same light as I used to be.”
“So since he’s made that complaint, are you afraid the women here will want their complaints taken seriously?”
“I expect so but you know that was not the reason I wanted you to press charges against him, he will just do it again and me, I’ve learned my lesson now, I have you. I never actually did anything Rose, you believe that don’t you? If Carter had got you outside, well he would have been serious about it, he would have sexually assaulted you, you realise that?”
“Yeah, I know but he would have got a kick where it hurt the most before it got to that, he’s gross.”
Alec smiled and leaned over to kiss her cheek.
“I’m taking some leave as of lunchtime, we finish packing and leave in the morning, we should be safe for now but I’m going to pay Olly a little visit.”
“No Alec, please, don’t get into more trouble, he’s not worth it. Let’s just leave.”
“No Rose, I can’t let it rest, he’s endangered your life. Ok, you can come with me, if it makes you feel better?”
“Yeah. I’ll go finish packing, I’ll leave things out for morning though. Are you keeping the house?”
“It’s paid for another three weeks, we’ll know if we are coming back or not by then. I’ll post the key back if I have to. Now, how about a three week holiday in the Highlands of Scotland love?”
Rose reached to kiss him. “Sounds good to me, bring some lunch back with you will you?”
“For you, anything.”
Rose left the station, unaware she was being followed by Olly. He’d seen her crossing the bridge from the new office of ‘The Echo’ and hadn’t been surprised she’d gone to the station, probably to ask for protection against Hardy. Why was she even hanging around with him? He was quite proud of the article he’d put together, after seeing Nige in the pub last night and encouraging him to go make a complaint but he was more proud of how he’d put together why Rose Tyler was in the town in the first place.
He had surmised she was hiding from those left from Torchwood but as to how she’d hooked up with the detective, he could only make wild guesses. His Aunt had said how Hardy had claimed Rose thought he was someone else she used to know and they had just taken up with each other after Hardy had almost arrested her. He’d also learned Special Branch had been to see her and there was little proof she wasn’t the one who was wanted.
He had no idea what he’d just messed with once Alec got hold of him and it would be all Rose could do to stop her lover from tearing into him. Rose was just turning down the path to the home she now shared with Alec when she was aware of someone behind her. She turned around to see a man with a badge around his neck and a digital recorder in his hand. Rose was more than capable of dodging reporters when she wanted to, something she had learned very early on when she’d arrived here, well the other version of it.
“Miss Tyler? Care to make any comments about my article?”
“No thanks, I’ll give it a miss. Why don’t you crawl back into the hole you came from?”
“You do know Ellie Miller is my aunt?”
“Yeah but she’d never tell you anything, you’re just bluffing.”
“Oh, well how did I know you came here thinking Hardy was someone you used to know and that people are after you, whether you’re the wanted Rose Tyler or not?”
Rose was horrified Ellie had betrayed her trust. She’d told her other things, what had she revealed to her nephew?
“I’ve got nothing to say now get out of here before my boyfriend comes back because I can’t guarantee he’ll be so calm about it. You know what he’s capable of but I will say this, the charges against him are false, ask Nigel Carter what he was going to try and do to me if he’d got me outside. Do you condone him committing sexual assaults against women?”
Olly suddenly found the ground was very interesting. Nige had always bragged about how many women he’d got behind the pub but had never said they hadn’t gone willingly.
“Alec said for me to put a complaint in about your mate, we’ll see how that goes shall we? Alec was just defending me and he didn’t hit him outside the pub, Carter followed us home and threatened Alec, I also put that in my statement so maybe you should get your facts right before publishing.”
Olly started to turn away but changed his mind. “Well maybe Hardy had reason then but it was no excuse he harassed all the female officers in the station.”
Rose was getting mad. “He apologised to them and he didn’t harass them, he just wanted them to go out with him, he didn’t know anyone in the town. Anyway, he’s got me now. They just took it the wrong way because a few turned him down. How many women have you tried to chat up and failed?”
Rose was the one to turn away and opened the door, relieved she’d got away from him, he was a bit of a creep as well.
As Alec was finishing up, he got a call someone was downstairs waiting to see him. “Well send them up, who is it then?”
“Says he’s Inspector James, Special Branch.”
That was all he needed and that had been fast, he must have seen the article when it was first published. He said for the Inspector to be sent up but it meant he wouldn’t get away for twelve so he sent Rose a message to say he might be late. Rose replied with an ‘OK lover’ making Alec smile. They’d come a long way in just over a week but they still had the final hurdle to get over. Once they were in Scotland and Rose felt safe, she would give in to him.
Inspector James was shown into Alec’s office.
“I thought you were keeping us informed Hardy? Why did I have to read in the local paper that you got into a fight over her?”
“Who says it was over her? The man threatened me outside my home, I was defending myself and he’d tried to assault Miss Tyler inside the pub. I saw what was going on and intervened. She never even thanked me, just told me she could have handled it herself. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry I can tell you that much. Then I get an assault charge against me, the man is crazy. You came all this way to ask me that?”
“I came to see Miss Tyler, where is she?”
“Safe for now but that idiotic reporter just told the entire former Torchwood where she is and they’ll be after her, whether she’s innocent or not.”
“That’s not my problem and I didn’t think it would be any concern of yours, unless you’re not telling me something?”
“You told me to keep an eye on her, she doesn’t make it easy, you heard her when she was being interviewed last week, she won’t let me near her.”
That was half the truth, she’d not let him do much the last time he’d been asked to watch her. It was none of Special Branch’s business how he kept an eye on Rose.
“I’m sure you could find a way, given your reputation with the ladies in the station.”
Alec raised his eyebrows. “That’s over with now, I apologised. Now, I’m focusing my attention on Miss Tyler, strictly officially of course but you never know.”
“Well don’t have her bring charges of stalking against you, we won’t bail you out. Like I said before, good luck with that one, you’ll need it.”
Rose had to go and choose that moment to call him.
“If that’s all, I have to take this. My travel agent, I’m taking some time off.”
“What about watching Miss Tyler?”
Alec smiled. “I’m working on it, why do you think I’m taking time off? I’m hoping a free holiday will help her change her mind about me.”
Rose was panicking, she’d looked out of the bedroom window and seen two men hanging around by the low wall Alec had pushed Nigel Carter into.
“Come on, come on,” she hissed into her phone. He finally answered.
“Alec, you need to get back here now, there are two men by the wall, they’ve been there about ten minutes.”
“Calm down Rose, they may be Special Branch, I just had one of them here who came last week. I’ll be right there but if you are worried, call the station and they’ll send someone but I’m just leaving now, I’ll bring a uniform with me.”
“Please don’t be long. I doubt they are waiting for someone, only me, to go out.”
“It’s ok Rose, I’m just clearing my desk, I’ll call reception and have someone there in a few minutes.”
He said goodbye and picked up his desk phone. Rose had sounded really upset and he wasn’t having any of that.
The desk sergeant answered. “This is Hardy, get two uniforms round to my place, now, two men are hanging around and scaring my girlfriend.”