No witness protection Part 2

Read part one here

Chapter 26
Rose was standing waiting for the line-up to be completed with Jenkins, who noticed she looked a little apprehensive.

"You've done it before," he pointed out to her.

"Yeah but it doesn't get any easier.  I just wish it was all over."

"Don't we all?" Jenkins smiled back, thinking his boss was a very lucky man to have Rose Tyler as his girlfriend.

"What's taking so long?" Rose wondered.

Ricky Gillespie was the reason it was taking so long.

"You're wasting your time Hardy, you got the people locked up who killed my Pippa," he was protesting.

"This is not about who killed Pippa," Alec told him.  "This is about you, being there that night when you claimed you were at that wedding.  If you'd come out and admitted it, we would not be doing this.  I have some questions afterwards."

"Ask all you want Hardy, I'm saying nothing else," Ricky insisted as his solicitor arrived.

"DI Hardy, I must protest you keep harassing my client," the solicitor told Alec.

"Well tell your client to stop messing about and just admit he went back that night," Alec snapped back.

"He doesn't deny he went back but he doesn't have to tell you why he went back," the solicitor replied.

"He does when it involves how his daughter was taken and killed," Alec replied.  "We have a witness who saw him come out of the Ashworth's house, we want your client to stand in the line-up, then I want an explanation why your client wouldn't admit it.  This is only about who killed Pippa, if you were cheating on your wife at the wedding, that's up to you, I have no interest."

"Hold on," the solicitor protested.  "You can't throw these accusations at my client."

Alec shook his head.  "Well tell that to his wife, she believes now he was messing about, she admitted she didn't see him all the time."

Alec saw no harm in shaking the tree and see what fell out.  Cate had admitted to Tess that he could have sneaked off with a female guest.  While they had been waiting for Ricky to arrive, Alec had looked through Tess's notes and found a multitude of trivia he'd previously not seen and he'd made her write it all out for him.  He'd been annoyed how she'd scribbled several question marks against Rose's first statement when Tess had talked to her the day after.

Alec entered the room Rose was in and Jenkins switched on the laptop.

"Just take your time Rose," Alec told her, touching her shoulder.  "I want you to be sure who the person is who came out of the Ashworth's house late that night."

Rose followed the camera, showing no signs of recognition until it reached Ricky.

"That's the man who came out and he's also the man who stood outside next door that morning and got into a taxi," Rose told them.

"Are you certain?" Jenkins asked, Alec giving him a scowl.

"I'm positive," Rose insisted.  

Jenkins spoke into the microphone, telling number five to remain.  Ricky looked angry.

"He must think Shareen's here?" Rose asked Alec as Jenkins switched the screen off.

"He thinks he knows she's here," Alec confirmed.  "Let him keep thinking that, it's keeping you out of it and your friend is tucked away safely somewhere for now.  I'm going to launch an appeal for her to come forward."

"Sir, won't that give the game away?" Jenkins questioned him.

"We know she's moved away from the area, Ricky Gillespie suspects she's moved away," Alec replied.

"Then isn't it best she stays hidden?" Rose asked him.

"Yes and no.  Rose, you need someone to back you up.  Your friend might have been drinking but she can verify other events, like the disturbance out in the street, maybe she knew that Gary Thorpe through Lisa?  She will know if he'd been hanging around, Lisa may have said something to her.  All these things were not relevant the last time she was interviewed.  Sorry Rose but we need her now, I can't allow her to stay out of the way, she knows too much."

"Then Ricky will know there's someone else," Rose pointed out.

"Jenkins, take him to the interview room and wait for me," Alec told his DS.

Alec knew what Rose was going to say.

"I'm sorry love, she's had all this time to come forward on her own.  They had a reason to move away, to stay out of it but I have to find out what they know.  Yes, Ricky will know there was someone else there but he has no idea who that is."

"Well I hope Shareen never gave Lisa my name, if she talked to Ricky or Lee," Rose replied worriedly.

"We would know by now, Ricky would have brought the subject up, trust me.  All he's ever mentioned is the fact Lisa talked about her friend having a visitor," Alec replied.

"What if they saw me going in and out of Shareen's?" Rose asked, not being happy about it.

"The Gillespies left early that morning, it's very doubtful they saw you and besides, both lounges face onto the gardens, they would have only seen you if they had been in the kitchen when you were going in and out.  I'll get someone to take you home."

"Not in a marked car I hope?" Rose managed to smile.

As Rose went off with one of the female DCs, Alec went to try to get more out of Ricky Gillespie.

"My client says he admits to going back to check on his daughter and niece that night," the solicitor told Alec.

"Yes, he's already said that," Alec replied.  "So, were they in the Ashworth's house?"

Ricky shook his head.  "That witness of yours only saw half of it Hardy and you know it.  I went to check on the girls then went next door to warn Ashworth to leave them alone.  Your witness saw me coming out after I'd already checked on the girls."

"Were you so concerned that you felt you had to leave the wedding?" Alec asked him.

"Cate thought I'd gone off with one of the bridesmaid, I let her think she was right.  Lisa threatened to tell Cate I'd been checking up on her, we argued and I told her to stay out of next door."

Alec knew this wasn't adding up but let it slide for now.

"Can my client go now?" the solicitor asked.

"Just one more thing.  Do you know a Gary Thorpe?" Alec asked Ricky.

"No, I don't think so, unless he's the creep who keeps hanging around looking for Lisa?  Do you think he has anything to do with what happened that night?" Ricky asked.

"We are still trying to find him.  So what time did you leave and what made you come back later with your van?" Alec asked, hoping to shake things up a bit.

"What?" Ricky asked, looking at his solicitor.  "I've told you, I wasn't the one with the van."

"DI Hardy, I must protest," the solicitor spoke up.

"We'll find out it was you so you may as well admit it.  All I want to know is what you and Ashworth took out of his house that night then where you went, why you went back again and went off with Claire Ashworth."

Ricky began whispering with his solicitor.

"All my client is prepared to say is Mr Ashworth asked him to move some old floorboards."

Alec thought that could explain what Rose saw wrapped up in sheets.

"When he was on his way back to a wedding?" Alec queried. 

"I was in no hurry to get back to the wedding," Ricky replied.

"What about Claire?" Alec thought he'd ask again.

"She wanted a ride to the off-licence," Ricky answered.

"They had a car, which they used later to carry your daughter out of their house.  Where did they take her Ricky?"

Ricky got up, banging his fist on the table and knocking the chair over.

"We're done," the solicitor announced, gathering his papers.  "If you have any more questions, you'll have to make it a formal interview.  This interview is over, it was only supposed to be about him being seen leaving his neighbours house."

"Fine," Alec replied, noting the time and speaking into the recorder.

"That rattled his cage Sir," Jenkins grinned.

"Well I'm tired of all this, all this covering up for each other.  He's just as guilty as the Ashworths, trust me," Alec replied.  "Let him stew for a while, I'm off to see the chief."

"To tell him you lit a fire under Ricky Gillespie?" Jenkins asked.

"No, to find the neighbours who moved away, they hold the key to this Jenkins, they saw more than they were letting on."

"Then Miss Tyler was right, they'll know someone else was there that night," Jenkins replied.

"I know that, it's a risk we'll have to take.  They could all refuse to say anything or confirm Rose did indeed drink too much that night but Ricky's reaction told me had had more to do with it than moving floorboards.  Why choose that time of night to get rid of floorboards though?  Where did they take Pippa?  We know she didn't come back, that's why both the Ashworth's are locked up."

Then a dreadful feeling came over him.

"Sir, what's wrong?" Jenkins asked him.

"What if they were taking Lisa out?"

"What?" Jenkins asked.

"We were concentrating on her being missing Jenkins.  Yes, she's still missing but they know where she is, or at least Ricky Gillespie knows.  What the hell happened in that house that night?"

"I wish we knew Sir," Jenkins admitted.  "Just be glad Rose Tyler and her friend weren't there."

"We have to find Shareen Costello, urgently.  I don't care who finds out we're looking for her, it's vital we get her version of what happened that night."

"But Sir, she could ruin Miss Tyler's testimony," Jenkins protested.

"She's had time to think about it Jenkins.  She may have been mad at the time but now, I reckon this Ken is preventing her from coming forward.  He must have convinced her somehow to stay out of it."

Alec went off to try to persuade the chief he was right.

"You are joking Alec?" the chief asked when told he thought Lisa was what Rose had seen being carried out.

"Why wrap floorboards in a sheet?" Alec asked him.  "All this time and no-one even questioned what she saw being carried out."

"Did you discuss the fact with her?" the chief asked him.

"I told her Lisa may not be still alive but did any of us even want to think it was her being carried out that night?"

"I don't suppose any of us did Alec," the chief had to admit.

"It stands to reason if that was Lisa being carried out, they had already done something to Pippa," Alec told him, not liking where this was going.  "I lit a fire under Ricky Gillespie, let's see what happens but I want an appeal for Shareen Costello to come forward."

"Then get on with it Alec, things just changed or am I imagining things?  We'll treat Lisa's disappearance as a murder enquiry until we can prove otherwise.  I want everything stepped up, understand?" the chief asked.

That was exactly what Alec wanted.

"What about Rose being protected?" Alec asked before he went off.

"You seem to have undertaken her safety Alec," the chief managed to smile.

"I meant in court, her name being kept out of it."

"I spoke to the prosecution to say we might have something on Ricky Gillespie but everything's still up in the air about that," the chief reminded him.  "They'll do their best to her name out of it Alec, just try to keep her from running off."

"Now you know why I wanted her down here with me, how can I watch out for her if she'd stayed where she was?" Alec asked him.

"I know you're worried about her but she'll only be in any danger if any of them get off," the chief told him.

"We don't want any of them getting off," Alec replied.  "What about delaying the court case to add Ricky Gillespie to it?"

"They won't go for it as such Alec.  The best they can do is go ahead with the pre-trial and see if the judge agrees it can be put off to see if we can get anything on Ricky," the chief replied.  "Sorry Alec, that's all I could do.  So Rose identified him?"

"Yes, she did.  Once we put an appeal out for Shareen Costello to come forward, he'll know it wasn't her though so I thought rather than name her, I would put out another appeal for witnesses and see if she'll come forward," Alec told him.

"Makes sense I suppose," the chief had to agree.  "Do that then, see if she'll come forward.  So, what did you say to Ricky Gillespie?"

Tess caught him when he got back to his office.

"What the hell did you say to Ricky Gillespie?" Tess wanted to know.  "I've had Cate on the phone."

"So?" Alec asked.  "I lit a fire under him, he's just as involved as the other two."

"That's no reason to suggest he was off with one of the female guests," Tess replied.

"Come off it Tess, she must have thought that, unless she knew he was going home?"

"Why would she know that?" Tess asked him.

"Well she can't prove where he was all night and now, he's admitted he went there.  It's up to him if he tells his wife or not.  Tess, we're treating Lisa as missing presumed deceased, chief's orders.  Now we treat it as a murder enquiry."

"What?  What brought that on?" Tess wanted to know.

"Gillespie admitted to carrying out floorboards from Ashworth's house that night.  I don't believe him, I think Rose saw Lisa being carried out in the sheet."

Tess stumbled to the chair and sat down.

"Why now, after all this time do you think it was Lisa?" Tess asked him.

"Why do you think Tess?  It must have crossed your mind at some point," Alec told her, glancing through the notes Tess had been withholding.  "Put another appeal out for witnesses but no mentions we think Lisa was killed at the same time."

"You never told me what you said to Ricky, he looked fuming on his way out," Tess reminded him.

"So he should be, he's been messing us around all along, all three of them were involved.  I hate to think if Rose and her friend had gone over there that night, what the hell went on?" Alec asked.  "Put an alert out for Gary Thorpe, I want him brought in for questioning."

"We tried before," Tess replied.

"Well try again, finding him and the neighbours are now top priority," Alec told her.

Rose was watching the early evening news when Alec appeared, he was reading a statement that new evidence had come to light and the police wanted any neighbours, past and present who saw anything that night to come forward and that Gary Thorpe should contact them urgently and he wasn't in any kind of trouble, they needed to speak with him urgently.

Rose smiled to herself – yeah, that was gonna put the bloke at ease and come forward.  She was about to start dinner when her phone rang.  She almost dropped it when she recognised the number.

"Shareen!  Hi," was all Rose could manage.

"Rose?  I can't talk for long but what the hell is going on?" Shareen asked her.

"Listen Shareen, you have to contact DI Hardy or DS Henchard, urgently," Rose told her.

"I can't Rose, Ken would go crazy if I did.  He convinced me and mum to move away, he said even being associated with you could be trouble," Shareen admitted.

"Let me call one of them for ya?" Rose offered.  

"No, you're involved, aren't you?" Shareen asked.

"Yeah, I had no choice Shareen.  Two people are already locked up due to the statement I gave to the police."

"That was your choice Rose.  You should have kept out of it, now, me and mum daren't even watch the news but I just caught it and saw that detective on TV.  What the hell did ya see that night?"

"I can't tell ya Shareen, honestly.  Just call the police station, please.  Whatever Ken's got ya scared of, they'll help ya."

"I can't tell them anything Rose, you saw it all," Shareen replied.

"Yes, I know I did but I asked you questions, like what the Ashworths looked like, remember?  You told DS Henchard we'd been drinking that night, she didn't believe me but DI Hardy contacted me, he believed me.  He'll also believe you.  Where are you?" Rose asked her.

"Not in Sandbrook," Shareen replied sadly.  "All I can tell ya is we're somewhere in Portsmouth, for now but now they're appealing for witnesses again, Ken could move us again."

"Why has he got ya so scared?" Rose asked her.

"We're scared because we know what Lee Ashworth's capable of Rose, I know things about him and Lisa, she told me.  I never wanted to admit it to you."

"Shareen, let me get someone to call ya back, please?" Rose begged her friend.

"Tomorrow, when Ken's at work, not before but I'll only talk to Hardy, understood?" Shareen asked her.

"Yeah, I promise.  Shareen, I'm here, in Sandbrook," Rose admitted.

"What are you doing there, are you crazy when you're a witness?" Shareen asked her.

"I'm in sort of witness protection," Rose smiled to herself.  "I can't tell ya any more than that but I'm safe enough, they don't know about me seeing everything that went on that night."

"Now ya know why I hid," Shareen replied.  "Do ya think we could have stayed there, when we'd be the first ones they would think had told on them?  I know you got Claire and Lee locked up, it could have only been you.  You don't know what you've done Rose.  Have Hardy call me tomorrow, I'll only talk to him."

With that, Shareen hung up.  Rose waited for Alec getting home and almost pounced on him as he came through the door as she told him excitedly her friend had contacted her.

"So she's willing to talk to me?" Alec was making sure.

"Yeah, she said she would.  I didn't tell her anything Alec, she doesn't know I'm with you," Rose replied.

"It's okay love.  I'll call her in the morning but did she say why they left?" Alec asked her.

"They knew the neighbours would blame them when they got caught, she didn't say anything else about it," Rose answered.  "Did ya find that Gary Thorpe?"

"No, not yet, he'd still hiding away somewhere.  Rose, I don't want to upset you but you should know we're now presuming Lisa was killed that night and it was her you saw being carried out to what we are now sure was Ricky Gillespie's van.  He admitted coming back, before you saw him."

Rose sat down.  "I didn't want to admit I thought it might be her," Rose told him sadly.

He sat beside her and put his arm around her.

"I'm sorry love, I wanted to be wrong."

"I know you do Alec.  So did ya keep Ricky?"

"We let him go for now, he will slip up, he knows we are onto him.  Rose, did your friend say anything else to you?"

"Just that Lisa told her stuff, about Lee."

"Did she now?  That should be interesting.  Where is she Rose?"

"I promised I wouldn't say but she just said somewhere in Portsmouth."

"I'm not going to say you told me love," he assured her.  "Did she say what kind of things Lisa told her?"  He saw the look on her face.  "About Lee or Claire as well?"

"She never said but she was friendly with both of them.  Alec, she may not want to believe what I told her because of their friendship.  That must be why she fell out with me?" Rose wondered.

"Because you broke that spell they had over her?"

"You make it sound like she was involved Alec," Rose told him, feeling uncomfortable.

"I'm not saying that she was involved Rose but she could have had a idea what was going on?  Maybe this Ken found out and that's why they moved away?  I think he found out and had a go at Lee Ashworth, after it all kicked off."

Rose didn't want to believe it.

"What the hell did she get mixed up with Alec?  She almost dragged me into it, if it hadn't been for that bloke hanging around."

"Calm down love.  Just be grateful he was hanging around that night.  I bet anything Ken found out and warned Ashworth off and he got Shareen out as fast as he could.  Had they known Ken long?" Alec asked her.

"A few years maybe?  I didn't see a lot of Shareen's mum but he must have something, to make her want to leave the estate and take Shareen with her?"

"Well he can't have known what he was moving into?  The houses have only been up about two years, they all must have the first to move in?  I hate to ask you love but do you think Ken has some sort of hold, over Shareen and her mother?"

Rose leaned towards him.

"I don't know Alec, really.  Maybe he's just protecting them?  Maybe Lee tried it on with both Shareen and her mother?"

"Yes, maybe but why prevent Shareen telling what she knows though?"

"I wish I'd never come here that weekend," Rose sighed into his shoulder.  "So have you told Lisa's parents you're treating her as missing presumed dead?"

"Not yet, I'll go with Tess tomorrow and tell them, they deserve to know.  Cate Gillespie should know as well but it will get back to Ricky but that may be a good thing."

"Why's that?" Rose asked as he pulled her closer.

"I lit a fire under him earlier," Alec smiled.  "He got annoyed and stormed out."

"You rattled his cage then?" Rose smiled back.

"You could say that.  Seems now I was right to do so?  Was your friend still using the same number?"

"Yeah, she was and she's expecting you to call her tomorrow, she'll only talk to you."

"Maybe because Tess brushed her off?" Alec wondered.

"Can't say I blame her then?  What did ya find out from Tess's notebook?" Rose asked him.

"Plenty.  You saw me on TV earlier?"

"Yeah, ya look good on TV Alec," Rose grinned.

"I was not on to look good," he reminded her.  "Let's hope Gary Thorpe now comes forward or someone knows where he is."

"You've wasted a lot of time, haven't you?" Rose asked him, pulling his tie off.

"Yes, partly due to Tess and what she held back."

"At least you know now," Rose replied.

"Yes love.  Why don't we go out tonight then?" he asked.

"I'd rather stay in with you," Rose smiled at him.

"I knew there was a reason I loved you," he smiled back.  "Tomorrow, we start afresh on the case, now we know more and Gillespie will slip up, you just watch."

Chapter 27
Alec was right, he had lit a fire under Ricky Gillespie but it was a slow-burning one and the pre-trial went ahead before they could arrest him for anything.  Rose had tried to convince Alec's chief that Ricky was the one she'd seen bringing who now everyone believed had been Lisa out of the house.

"He's still denying it," the chief told her, the day before she was due in court.  "I tried the prosecution again but she's convinced the judge won't go for a delay."

Rose had been upset at the thought it was Lisa she had seen being carried out.

"He's playing with us," Alec told the chief.

"I know Alec, I wish I could do something," the chief agreed, putting a folder down.  "Let's see if the Ashworths are willing to give him up.  Any luck finding Gary Thorpe?"

Alec shook his head.

"I had some luck with Shareen Costello though, she's willing to come in and make a statement, she'll be here soon."

When he'd called her the next day after she'd called Rose, he'd convinced her to come forward but she wasn't sure about appearing in court.  Rose had talked to her first.

"Shareen, DI Hardy's here with me, he needs you to tell him what we did that night," Rose had told her.

She'd passed the phone to him.

"It's important you tell me everything you know about Lisa Newberry and your neighbours," Alec had told her.

Alec had learned plenty, writing it all down.

"So, she mentioned this Gary Thorpe to you?" Alec asked her.

"Yeah, his dad runs an agricultural business in Portsmouth, Lisa told me," Shareen admitted.  "I can't go to court, you've no idea what Claire and Lee will do if they get off."

"They will also go after Rose," Alec reminded her.  "Don't blame her for getting mixed up in it."

"That's why I stayed away from it," Shareen confessed.  "Lee has a real temper, so does Claire, Lisa told me."

"You never saw for yourself?" Alec asked.  "You wanted to introduce Rose to them, why?"

"They knew how to have a good party," Shareen admitted.  "I knew Lisa would probably sneak in after Pippa went to bed.  I went into town with her, the day Rose was arriving and all she did was go on about him and she was looking out so see if we passed him working somewhere."

"Shareen, this is important.  Was Lisa involved with him, sexually?" Alec asked.

Shareen went quiet.  "No, I don't think so but she talked about him like she wanted to be," Shareen replied.  "She told me that Claire used to talk about it, how they liked to flirt with Ricky and Cate and she said her uncle used to look at her in a funny way.  They'd had a row about it."

"Had they now?" Alec asked.  "So that night, you were disappointed about not going across to the Ashworth's house?"

"Yeah, a bit, thanks to that idiot Gary Thorpe.  Lisa had told him to leave her alone and that she'd tell her uncle about him.  Ken told me later he'd seen Lee chasing him off, Lee had waved to him while shouting after Gary, something about what he'd made Lee do."

"Did he mean lost his temper?" Alec asked.

"I'm not sure, Ken never said but I suppose Lee could have hit him?"

"Why did you move away?" Alec wanted to know.

"Ken knew something would happen, when the police were there all the time and when you took Lee away, I told him what Rose had said.  He sold the house to one of those agencies and moved us," Shareen replied.

"Tell me the truth Shareen, was Rose really drinking as much as you that night?"

Rose was sat watching him.

"I wasn't keeping count," Shareen told him.  "She didn't seem to be but I won't swear to it."

"Can you come in and make a statement?" Alec asked her.

"Yeah but I can't face Rose, not after I ignored her," Shareen replied.  "Besides, she still could have told me when it was happening, I'm still mad at her."

Alec had turned to Rose.

"Sorry love, she'll make a statement but she does not want to see you."

So after the meeting with the chief, Alec went to interview Shareen, Rose watching from his office.  She looked up when Tess walked in.

"Does he know you're watching that?" Tess asked her.

"Yeah.  She won't talk to me though," Rose admitted.

"Does she still say you were drinking that night?"

"I know what you think Tess.  If she was drinking, she probably assumed I was keeping up with her."

"Were you?" Tess wanted to know.

"No, I already said I wasn't, what is it with you?  Alec believes me."

"Well he would.  I need to talk to him when he's finished, if you see him before I do," Tess told her.

Alec had taken Jenkins with him to ask Shareen to tell them what happened that night.

"So after you went upstairs, you went to sleep?" Alec was asking Shareen.

"Yeah, Rose was at the window asking a bunch of stupid questions like what did Claire look like.  I mean if she'd wanted to meet them, we should have still gone over after that creep left."

"Then you and Rose would have got caught up in whatever happened," Alec reminded her.  "That guy in the street probably saved you both from getting involved or maybe even hurt.  What Rose described to us has got your two neighbours locked up."

"Yeah and they probably think I gave them up," Shareen pointed out.

"They have not made any accusations who told on them," Alec tried to assure her.

"Then I hope you're right.  Did you find that Gary then?" Shareen asked.

"The place where his dad worked was closed up, we have officers in Portsmouth looking for him, we'll find him," Alec replied.

"Well if he was after Lisa that night, he may have seen her.  She is still missing?"

Alec had already decided no-one else was going to know they suspected Lisa had been killed before Pippa.  They had no proof it was her wrapped in that sheet Rose saw being put into the van but he bet he knew the van's destination now.  He let Shareen go, asking if she wanted to see Rose.

"She's here?" Shareen asked as she got up.

"In my office, she's under my protection," Alec told her.

"She's in danger?" Shareen wanted to know.

"Yes, from Ricky Gillespie as well as the Ashworths.   We're keeping her identity quiet until the trial takes place.  If you testify, we can keep your name out of it," Alec offered.

"You won't tell them where you got what I just told you from?" Shareen asked worriedly.

"It will be confidential, the source will not be revealed," Alec confirmed.  "They will think it all came from the same place, they may still be blaming you."

"Great, now I'm definitely not going on the witness stand, they know me."

"We are aware of that.  The prosecution may be prepared to accept your testimony without you appearing, it is only to back up what Rose already told us.  It would be better if you faced them though, they won't have anything against you once they find out about Rose," Alec tried to assure her.

Shareen wasn't sure about that.

"Ken's gonna be so mad I talked to you.  Can you explain it to him?" she asked Alec.

"Sure, I will say how important it was we spoke to you," Alec replied.  "What you have told us is just background, most of it will be kept out of the court but I will speak to the prosecution about not letting the defence get hold of your statement."

Ms Knight was not impressed Alec was trying to keep another statement under wraps.

"It was all I could do to keep Miss Tyler's testimony from falling into the hands of the defence, they're not going to be happy that there's even more."

"I realise that," Alec told her.  "They will both back down otherwise, trust me."

"Then leave it with me, I'll put it to the judge," Ms Knight told him.

So now it was the day of the pre-trial.  Alec had found out what Tess wanted, just to say there was no-one at the address they got for where Gary Thorpe had worked but they were trying to get a court order to search the place, in case Ricky Gillespie had taken Lisa there.  Alec had argued he'd not had the time to get to Portsmouth and back.  Tess though got him thinking that he could have left her in the van and gone later.

Rose was waiting in a small room inside the court, drinking coffee and wishing Alec would come back.

"He shouldn't be long," Jenkins was telling her.  "The judge will just be going through things."

"Yeah, they'll be arguing about me," Rose thought out loud.

"Amongst other things," Jenkins smiled.

"So Ms Knight, you expect to keep your witness anonymous and you want me to put a press ban in place?" the judge was asking her.

"I object to that," the defence spoke up.  "This is a high profile case your honour, the public have a right to know."

"I'm not prepared to put a full press ban in place but for the duration the witness is giving testimony, then they will be asked to leave.  Is that satisfactory to you both?" the judge asked.

"Yes your honour," they both said at once, eyeing each other.

Alec was shaking his head, wondering why he'd been included.  He soon found out.

"So, Detective Inspector Hardy, you're the one pushing to keep your star witness quiet?" the judge asked him.

"Yes your honour, she's putting herself at risk and has already stated if her name is revealed she will back out of this," Alec replied.

"Very well.  Bailiff, ask the witness to join us," the judge ordered.

Rose was outside waiting to be seen, the court bailiff was waiting for the judge to wave them in.  The judge looked up and nodded and Rose was escorted in by the bailiff and Jenkins.  She tried to show no emotion as she stood next to Alec in front of the judge.

"So, do you know why you are here today?" the judge asked her.

"Yes your honour," Rose replied.

"Then tell me in your own words what happened that night," the judge replied.

Rose had not been expecting that.

"Your honour, may I have a word with the witness?" Alec dared ask.

The judge nodded and Alec took her to one side.

"You can do this Rose," he tried to assure her.

So Rose quickly recalled what had happened from the moment she'd gone to Shareen's bedroom and the events had unfolded before her.

"I see," the judge told her.  "You understand what you are getting into?" the judge asked her.

"Yes, I know, your honour," Rose replied.

"Your request to remain nameless is granted and no reporting will be done on your testimony.  I can't however stop the press from going after you before and after your appearance, it's down to the police to keep you out of that.  Now, we just have to set a date unless the defendants want to change their plea?" the judge asked the defence.

"They still maintain their innocence," the defence replied.

Alec thought they would but would they crack if they saw Ricky Gillespie in the public gallery?

"Your honour, there is one more thing," Ms Knight spoke up as Rose was allowed to leave.

"Of course there is Ms Knight," the judge shook his head.

"To add credibility to the witness's testimony, we have a statement from the friend she was staying with that night.  This friend also wishes to remain anonymous as she lived in the area and is familiar to both the Ashworths and the Gillespies."  

The judge looked over his rimless glasses.

"Is this vital to the evidence your witness has Ms Knight?" he asked.

"We believe so, your honour."

The defence were not happy with this news.

"Your honour, I must protest.  There are enough secrets going on around here."

"I'm aware of that but I have already granted anonymity to the witness," the judge replied.

"Yes your honour but another witness just to back her up?"

"Let's see where this goes?  You have this new witness's statement Ms Knight?" the judge asked.

"Yes your honour.  DI Hardy managed to locate the other witness."

"Very well, it can be entered into the proceedings Ms Knight and your other witness can also remain anonymous as a backup.  You'll all be informed of a court date, you are all dismissed."

Once outside, Rose breathed a sigh of relief but she knew it wasn't over.

"I still have to be questioned, don't I?" Rose asked as they left the building.

"There will be cross-examination by the defence, yes," Alec agreed.

"Will Shareen have to appear?  They all know her."

"The judge never said, Ms Knight will be informed," Alec replied.  "They may just read it out unless the judge orders her to appear."

"Shame we couldn't get Ricky Gillespie at the same time," Rose smiled as they went into the station café, since that was the nearest.

Alec didn't know how to tell her that despite their best efforts, Ricky was still denying anything else.  All they had him on was going back that night but Alec had a trick or two up his sleeve to trip the man up.  He was just waiting for the right moment to use them.

A few days later, Alec had gone to see Cate Gillespie, since Tess was having no luck with her.  He took Jenkins with him.

"What do you want?" Cate asked the two of them, a glass in her hand.

Alec thought no wonder she didn't want to talk.

"Cate, this is very important if you want your daughter's killers putting away," Alec began.

"You have them locked up," Cate reminded him.

"Yes but we believe Ricky knows more than he's telling us," Alec replied tactfully.  "We need to know that he told you he left the wedding that night to check on the two girls."

"He admitted it, he said you'd found out because you had a witness who said he came back so he decided to tell me.  I still think you're wrong and he's covering the fact he was with one of the bridesmaids."

"What makes you still say that?" Alec asked her.

"He took a hip-flask with him, you can guess what was in it?  We argued before we left, he said if I was going to drink all night he might just use it."

"Was he in a habit of doing so?" Alec asked, raising his eyebrows.

"I don't know, do I?  He gave some to Lee, I do know that but he was bragging all evening he was looking for a willing participant.   I told him if he did, it was all over, well it practically is anyway, we've separated, legally."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Alec replied.

"It's been heading that way, the same as you and Tess.  She said you had a new girlfriend?  She must be something if she can put up with you working this case."

"She's more understanding than Tess," Alec admitted.  "The morning after, was Ricky with you?"

"He must have crawled in at some point, we came home and the patio doors were open, the girls were gone."

"It took you almost an hour to report they were missing," Alec reminded her.

"We checked all their friends first and next door, though Claire only stuck her head out of the bedroom window and swore at Ricky for waking her," Cate replied.

Alec recalled a similar response from Claire during the investigation.  He was still convinced Claire had stolen the pendant.

"Cate, that pendant of Pippa's, you said Claire gave it to her?" Alec asked her.

"How many more times?" Cate snapped.

"Did Claire ever say where she got it from?"

"I never asked but she could have told Lisa I suppose.  Why are you asking now?" Cate asked.  "You lost it, so I heard."

Alec wondered if Tess had told her, it would be a bit ironic, since it was her car it had been stolen from.

"We are still looking for it, there was an incident but we still have a good case against the Ashworths, an eyewitness from that night who is very reliable," Alec admitted.

"You mean that Shareen?  Well Ricky reckons it's her, who else could it have been?" Cate asked.

Alec wondered if he should say otherwise?  Was it fair to let them think it was the neighbour?

"Did Lisa say anything that morning before you went to the wedding?" Alec asked her.

"No, Ricky warned her not to take Pippa next door and they argued.  He didn't like the way she kept going on about him."

"So Ricky was against her being friends with them?" Alec wanted to know.

"When we weren't there," Cate admitted.  "She defied him though and kept going in with Shareen, she thought he didn't know."

"Well thanks for your time," Alec told her, putting his notebook away.

"Lisa said something about Shareen having a friend staying with her.  Was she there that night?" Cate asked.

"I can't say, sorry," Alec replied.

"If someone else was there, they could back Shareen up to say she saw Lee carrying my Pippa out that night," Cate told him.

Alec wondered exactly how much Tess had told her.

"Just one thing, did the Ashworths have a spare key?" he asked her.

"No, why?  Unless Ricky gave them one to keep an eye on the girls that night?" Cate replied.  "I doubt it though."

Alec thought so Rose was right, whoever was driving that van had given Claire the key?  Now it almost proved Ricky was the one with the van and he knew he was being observed and kept his back to whoever he thought was watching but why do any of it, if he knew or suspected Shareen was watching him then why deny he was there?

They were now getting more questions than answers and he didn't like it.  He got back to the station and called Rose, since he'd been checking on her twice a day.

"Hey love, how are things?" he asked when she greeted him with a 'Hi sexy'.

"Boring and I wish you could come home," Rose replied.

"So do I love but I have to work.  I went to see Cate Gillespie again, she confirmed the Ashworths never had a spare key, well as far as she knows so once I've asked Ricky the same question, well it could prove he was the one you saw," he told her.

"Great, maybe you're finally getting somewhere?" Rose asked.  "I always wondered what took so long, now I know it's suspects messing around."

"Yes love, that's usually the problem," he admitted.  "Now though, if Ricky never gave a key, it still might not prove he gave them one that night."

"How do ya mean?" Rose asked.

"Claire could have got it from Lisa I suppose?" he asked.

"That would just prove she'd been there that night, wouldn't it?" Rose replied.

"I guess so?" he wondered.  "This is getting us nowhere," he had to admit.

"Want me to come down and cheer you up?" Rose teased him.

"Don't you see enough of the police station?" Alec joked.

"I suppose so?  I'll go down to the supermarket and get something nice for dinner, yeah?"

"Yes love, you do that eh?  I have to go, I need to talk to Ricky again and he won't be happy about it," Alec replied.

He was right when Ricky answered his phone.

"You stay away from Cate," Ricky answered.

"You know I can't do that during an ongoing investigation," Alec replied.  "Did you ever give the Ashworths a spare key?"

"Why would I do that?" Ricky asked.  "Lisa was capable of watching Pippa."

"Cate said you argued with Lisa about her going next door," Alec told him.

"They all thought I didn't know what was going on," Ricky replied.

"What was going on Ricky?" Alec wanted to know.

"I'm not saying, not without my solicitor, it was only what Lisa told me," Ricky answered.

"Then why do you need a solicitor?" Alec asked.

"I've got nothing else to say," Ricky replied, hanging up on Alec.

What the hell had been going on, Alec wondered.  At this rate, he was never going to find out, the Ashworths would never confirm or deny anything was going on with Lisa and Pippa and now possibly Shareen, if Lisa had dragged her into it.  Then it hit him, why Shareen had been told to stay away and why she was so reluctant to say anything.  Lisa had somehow got her involved, maybe not a willing participant but she knew why Lisa kept going back.

He just hoped that whatever it was, Pippa had not been dragged into it but she'd never been examined for any abuse.  He got up and went to see the chief.

"Alec, you have to be joking," the chief told him when he suggested Pippa may have been abused.

"I need a court order for another examination.  If she was abused, we have Ashworth on another charge," Alec insisted.

"What if you're wrong?" the chief asked.  "Ricky has already complained about you."

"Do I look like I care?" Alec asked him.  "Does he not want to get to the truth?"

"You find out his daughter was abused?  That's a bit harsh Alec, even for you," the chief replied.

"I also want a warrant to search the Ashworths house again, if Claire stole that pendant, she'll have stashed it somewhere and I have an idea where."

Chapter 28
It was the day of the trial.  Rose had arrived early at the court, being put in a room before the press arrived in their droves and Alec was pacing up and down, making her even more nervous.  The prosecution had told them to show no emotion they were involved with each other and they were hoping Shareen wouldn't let them down, since they'd had no contact with her since she made her statement which had been meant to support what Rose had to say.

Alec had no luck finding the pendant, the Ashworth's house had been searched from top to bottom, including the hiding places Alec had suspected, since the pendant had been in a plastic bag and all water sources had been checked such as pipes and the water tank in the loft.  He'd not given up though, he was confident Rose's testimony would be enough, even though now, it would come out evidence had gone missing.

"I wish you'd sit down Alec," Rose smiled at him while they were waiting for Ms Knight.

"Sorry, this is getting to me.  Something must have held her up."

The defence had held her up as she'd been called to the judge's chambers.  The defence were still trying to get the name of the star witness.

"She was promised, no press release of her name or revealed to the jury," Ms Knight was telling her adversary.

"Ladies, we've been through this before," the judge was telling them, knowing the two of them didn't get on at the best of times.  "We've been through this before, I agree with Ms Knight, there is no need at this stage to reveal the name of the witness.  It would serve no purpose," he added.

"I want it known that I protested," the defence replied.

"Noted.  Now I suggest you go prepare yourselves and Ms Knight, I trust you have instructed your key witness?"

"Yes, your honour, I was just going to double-check," she replied, wanting to say this was another delay tactic by the defence.

After she'd spoken again to Rose, Alec risked putting his arms around the nervous witness.

"You will be fine.  Once I'm called, I'll be able to sit in on the proceedings but don't keep staring at me eh?" he smiled.

"Are they calling Tess?" Rose wondered.  "She'd better not say she thought I was too drunk to know what was going on."

"There is no need to mention it, unless the defence have somehow found out?  We also have Gary Thorpe now, he admitted being there that night and Lee chased him off.  He saw Lisa in the doorway, it proves she was there at that time."

"Yeah but not what took place after he ran off.  I feel so alone in this Alec," she admitted, leaning into him.

"I know love.  Hopefully you will be called today, after the opening speeches and after Tess and I give evidence."

"I expect they'll ask me to tell everything I saw before they ask me any questions?" Rose asked nervously.

"I expect so.  Just answer truthfully though I wish we could be certain it was Ricky that came back.  They will both be out there Rose and Ricky knows someone saw him the first time that gave the game away, try not to let it bother you."

"That'll take some doing, trust me," Rose tried to smile.

"I know love.  We did everything we could to prove he was involved.  Him coming back is not now in question, we just have no proof of anything else but if anything does come to light, there's the option to re-open the case."

He was about to kiss her when he heard the door opening and Tess walked in.

"I just had to dodge the press," Tess told him, looking at him holding onto Rose.  "They're going to be even worse when those allowed in the courtroom get kicked out."

"Well they are down the other end, Rose does not have to face that way and they'll be asked to leave before she goes in there."

"Well I hope you're ready for this Rose, we're all depending on you in there," Tess told her.

"So you finally accept we'd get nowhere without her?" Alec ask sarcastically.  "I trust you not to bring up the fact you almost let her get away?"

"Will you two stop it?  I'm here ya know Tess," Rose snapped.

Tess went off, Alec leaning against the large table.

"Sorry love.  When I have to give evidence, I'll send Jenkins in to keep you company."

An hour later, Alec was called and Rose wished him luck.

"I've done this before," he smiled as Jenkins waited in the doorway.

Rose sat down, trying to stop being so nervous.

Alec wasn't given an easy time by the defence, who were trying to pick holes in the investigation but when the prosecution questioned him, at least she was on his side.  Tess was next, giving her version of events that morning they were called to the Gillespie house, they didn't even touch on the events of finding Pippa in the river though Alec suspected they were saving that.

"So, DS Henchard," the defence addressed her.  "You were married to the lead detective at the time?"

"Yes, we divorced, some time ago," Tess replied.

"Did you divorce over the case?"

"Not entirely but it didn't help when we were working all hours," Tess replied, hoping to get away with it and seeing Alec shuffling in his seat.

She wondered why he'd not gone back to his girlfriend but she supposed he wanted to hear what she had to say.

"Did you have anything to do with the eyewitness DS Henchard?"

"Yes, I was the one the eyewitness spoke to initially but at that time I told the person we would get back to them."

"You did get back to the person, several weeks later, did you not?" the defence gloated.  "Why the wait?"

Alec wanted to shake his head in despair, he couldn't trust Tess not to say she thought Rose had been drunk at the time.

"We were pursuing other lines of enquiry," Tess replied, hoping she'd get away with it.

The defence were not going to give her an easy ride.

"I would have thought an eyewitness would be important?" the defence asked her.

"The eyewitness had been staying with a friend opposite, we were trying to find that friend to corroborate the statement.  The friend had moved out of the area, DI Hardy however decided to pursue the eyewitness and got the person to give a full statement, which led to the arrest of the two defendants," Tess replied, seeing Claire was staring at her through the glass.

Tess didn't know if they believed her or not at this stage but Alec would never forgive her for putting Rose right in it, before she'd even been called.

"DS Henchard, at the time the eyewitness was contacted again, had your divorce gone through?"

"Your honour, I object to this line of questioning," Ms Knight called out as she got up.  "It has no relevance on the case."

"I agree.  The defence will withdraw the question unless it is relevant," the judge ordered.

"Yes your honour, it is relevant," the defence replied.

"Approach the bench," the judge told them.  "What is the relevance?" he asked the defence.

"It affected how the enquiries were made.  If both detectives were in the process of a divorce, it could have affected how my clients were dealt with."

"Meaning?" the judge asked.

"That they were trying to turn the defendants against each other because of their marital status."

"Your honour," Ms knight interrupted.  "The detectives marital problems bare no relevance whatsoever, it would not have rubbed off on the defendants."

"I agree with the prosecution, I see no point in dragging up what the detectives were going through at the time."

"Thank you, your honour," Ms Knight half smiled at her opponent. 

Tess was relieved, she didn't fancy digging up the past, that she was cheating on Alec during that time, which had prompted him to retaliate and take up with their star witness.  She'd only half believed that Rose wouldn't have anything to do with him until she'd found out he was getting divorced.  She still suspected that weekend he'd disappeared, he'd gone to see Rose.

"DS Henchard," the defence continued.

After another ten minutes of questioning from both sides, Tess was allowed to step down and the judge declared a recess.  Tess stood in the doorway.

"Going to rescue her?" Tess asked, pointing to the door of the room Rose was in and seeing all the reporters gathering.

"I'm going to get some refreshments and take them to her, there is no point in her trying to hide from that lot," Alec replied, seeing the reporters trying to take photos and the court officials waving their hands at them.  

Fortunately, there was a sandwich bar two doors down, Alec thinking someone had the right idea and he was soon back, ignoring calls for a statement.

"Jenkins, take a break," Alec told him, he and Rose sat at opposite ends of the table, Rose with her head in her hands.

He put the small plastic bag and the holder with two drinks on the table.

"Eat your lunch love, you are going to need it," he smiled.

"What happened?" Rose asked as she tried to open the lid of the hot drink.

"You're not supposed to take the lid off," Alec pointed out.  "I can't tell you what happened but the defence tried to trip Tess up but failed."

Rose smiled at the thought.  "Long as she didn't tell anyone about me, when I first contacted her?"

"I expect she thought about it," Alec replied.  "The defence did try to drag something else into it but got turned down, the fact about mine and Tess's divorce, they were fishing."

"They'd be so low as to drag that into it?" Rose asked, thinking she'd die of starvation before getting into the sandwich wrapper.

Alec reached out for it, since he'd done his.

"Yes, they were trying to say our failing marriage had an influence on the Ashworths, that because we were on the verge of splitting, we tried to turn them against each other."

He wondered if he should be telling her this but it was nothing much to do with the case really.  The defence had hit low and it had backfired on them.

"Will they ask me if we're involved?" Rose wondered, staring at how easily he'd opened her sandwich.

"Just try to avoid answering, you're a witness, you may get away with it," Alec smiled.

Rose hoped he was right.

After their break, Alec decided to stay with her unless he was recalled to the stand, since Tess had gone in and she'd tell him anything he needed to know but it was Jenkins's turn to give evidence and he didn't know Tess had been trying to avoid answering personal questions.

"Were you aware the two lead detectives were on the verge of divorce at the time of the investigation?" the defence asked.

"There were rumours going around, I saw no evidence at the time," Jenkins replied.

"In your opinion, did it affect the way they worked?" he was asked.

"No, it made no difference, it was about finding who killed a young girl," Jenkins answered.

"The witness who came forward, did you interview the person?" he was asked.

"Yes, along with DI Hardy, the witness told us everything that went on that night outside the two houses opposite."

"Both houses?" the defence queried.  "What was going on outside the victim's house?"

Jenkins wanted to say plenty.  He described what Rose had seen but the defence didn't seem too pleased.

He was then questioned by the prosecution and allowed to step down.

"Do you wish to call your eyewitness Ms Knight?" the judge asked.

She still didn't know if the defence were putting the defendants on the stand or not but since Claire had changed her story several times, maybe it was for the best?  She may give yet another explanation why she came home early that night and helped her husband get rid of Pippa's body.

In the waiting room, Rose was wondering if Shareen had turned up.

"I should go check but she may not have been asked to appear until you take the stand," Alec told her.

"Yeah, I suppose so?  I wished they'd hurry up."

"I know love.  After all the waiting, to find yourself on the verge of being questioned starts to get to you," he smiled, reaching for her hand.

The judge ordered a short break after saying he advised the prosecution to call the witness.  So Ms Knight left the courtroom and knocked on the waiting room door.

"You're next Miss Tyler.  DI Hardy, you can be present if you wish?" Ms Knight told him.

Alec nodded and the barrister left them.  Ten minutes later, the judge was clearing out any reporters who were hoping he wouldn't notice them.  The court bailiff went to get Rose and she was led along the corridor, ignoring shouts for her to turn around.  She was sworn in and was excused giving her name.

"For the benefit of the jury, the witness's name will not be revealed," the judge addressed them.  "She will be referred to as Miss X when being addressed.  Ms Knight, you may commence your questioning."

Rose was asked to tell the jury how she came to be in the area that night, explaining she'd not seen her friend for a while.

"So you never met any of the neighbours?" Ms Knight asked her.

"My friend pointed out Lisa and Pippa on the Saturday afternoon, they were in the street and she told me Pippa was the one riding the bike," Rose replied.

"Did you see anyone else out of the street during the day?" she was asked.

"Yes, I saw a man and a woman waiting outside and they got into a taxi that morning.  My friend said it would have been Cate and Ricky Gillespie."

Cate nudged her almost ex husband, not knowing they'd been seen arguing over him taking a hip-flask to the wedding.

"You saw Ricky Gillespie later that night?" Ms Knight asked her.

"Yeah, he came out of the house next door, just after ten and walked off," Rose replied.

"What happened after he left?" Rose was asked.

Rose recalled what she'd watched that night, finishing with Claire going inside the Gillespie house after being handed what she thought was a key.

It was getting late so the judge ordered that the court would resume in the morning and dismissed the jury for the day.

"How am I gonna get past the press?" Rose asked Alec as he waited for the court to clear.

"We find the back door?" he suggested, Ms Knight walking towards him.

"The bailiffs will clear the press, just wait a few minutes but you may want to walk behind DI Hardy," she told Rose.

Rose had no problem in doing so, ignoring the fact they were trying to get a photo of her.  When they got home, they lay on the sofa, just trying to get back to normal.

"There will be even more questions from the defence," Alec warned her.

Rose buried her head into his shoulder.

"Don't go reminding me, I just wish it was over.  Why did I ever get involved?"

"You would not have met me had you not got involved love," he reminded her.

"Yeah but I'd have got to know you sooner if Tess had believed me from the start," Rose replied.

"Ah, yes but she still may have taken over and we would never have got involved, well not right away."

"I hope no-one got a photo of me when we were leaving," Rose wondered.

"I don't think they did love, you were behind me and they would not have bothered so much about me.  I will go get some take-out, if you are hungry?"

The next day, they set off early again but there was still no sign of Shareen as Tess followed Alec and Rose into the waiting room.

"I think our other witness changed her mind," Tess told him as they stood by the door.

"It's up to the prosecution to make sure she attends when she is called," Alec replied.

"Well I think she's gone back into hiding, maybe she didn't want to get involved after all?" Tess asked.

"She'd attend if she could," Rose butted in, wondering if someone had got to her.

"You think someone's put her off?" Tess asked.  "You know her better than us."

"Yeah, I thought I did, now I'm not too sure," Rose replied.  "I tried calling her last night but she never answered."

"Are they calling Gary Thorpe?" Tess wondered.

"I doubt it, it has no bearing on what happened after he left.  Unless someone complains about him hanging around, there's not much we can get him on," Alec told her.

Tess went off and Jenkins arrived with some drinks.

"They're just going in," Jenkins told Alec.  "I'll stay if you want to see what's happening," he offered.

"No, it's fine, I'll wait," Alec replied.

He didn't have long to wait as they just finished their drinks as the bailiff came in.  Rose knew it was the defence's turn to question her.  Alec squeezed her hand and she followed him out, Jenkins behind her.  The reporters were calling Alec's name but he ignored them, there would be time for a statement when he saw Claire and Lee locked up for as long as the law allowed.

Rose entered the witness box, the judge had been waiting for the reporters to own up and leave the courtroom though Alec suspected they'd try to talk to those in the gallery.

"Miss X," the defence began, Alec thinking they were already trying to put her off-balance.

"How did you know who was standing outside waiting for a taxi that morning?" Rose was asked.

"The friend I was staying with told me who they were and they were standing outside where she had pointed out that it was her friend's aunt and uncle who lived there," Rose replied.

"Anyone in the street could have been waiting for a taxi," the defence argued.

Ms Knight stood up.  "Your honour, it's already been established who was waiting for a cab that morning, I see no relevance."

"Indeed Ms Knight.  The defence will withdraw the question, Mr and Mrs Gillespie are not the ones on trial here, unless there is another explanation for your questioning?" he asked.

Rose wished they'd stop messing her around, trying to catch her out.

"Your honour," Ms Knight continued.  "The witness has stated exactly what she saw that night, I see no need of her answering questions about it."

"Your honour, my clients have the right to question what the witness saw," the defence objected.

"May I remind the defence that the witness's testimony was enough for the defendants to be arrested," Ms Knight replied.

The judge thought about it.

"The witness has been very clear about what she saw that night but the third person she saw is still up for debate.  If the defence has questions about the third person, I will allow it."

Rose knew he had them there, the defence was hardly going to suggest it was Ricky Gillespie, was she?

"Miss X, is it true that earlier in the evening you were considering visiting the defendants with your friend?" the defence asked, changing tactics.

"Yes, there was something going on outside so we were advised not to go out, by my friend's mother's partner," Rose replied.

"So what did you do instead?" the defence asked, Rose thinking they'd been talking to Tess.

Rose then wondered if the defence had turned Shareen into a witness for them?

"You must answer the question," the judge reminded Rose as she stared at the defence.

"We all had a drink and talked, my friend and I hadn't seen each other for a few years," Rose replied.  "I found out there were rail delays the following day so I was planning on leaving early, I hardly had anything to drink," Rose replied.

Alec was wishing she'd not said that.

"In your statement, you said your friend had a considerable amount to drink and once in her room, she went to sleep after you asked her a few questions.  If you were watching what was happening in the street, why did you not call her to witness it with you?" the defence asked her.

Rose thought it was a bit of a strange question for them to be asking.  Then she found out why.

"I put it to you that you had the same amount to drink as your friend.  Your friend gave a statement saying she assumed you had drunk as much as she had done and therefore, what happened outside may not be as you recall."

Rose could hear mumblings amongst those who were watching and the jury members.

"I didn't have as much as my friend," Rose objected.  "I had a bit of a headache but it wasn't from drinking.  My friend and her mother were drinking sherry, I hate sherry.  I saw what I described in my statement."

"If that's so, why did you not see the third person you claimed was there?" the defence asked.

Alec was almost on the edge of his seat, Tess trying to pull him back.

"Because the person had his back to me," Rose replied.

"How very convenient," the defence replied.  "My clients insist they were only clearing some old floorboards out that night yet because of your testimony, they were arrested.  Miss X, you claim you saw Mr Ashworth carrying a young girl out to his car a short time later.  How do you know it was the girl who died?"

Rose looked around, people talking again and the judge was trying to bring order.

"Because my friend had pointed her and her cousin out to me earlier in the day," Rose replied as the judge was calling for order and banging his gavel on the desk.

"Did you see the defendant come back with her?" Rose was asked.

"No, he came back on his own," Rose admitted.

"Then I put to you that since he was alone, he had returned the girl to her parents at the hotel they were staying at," the defence told her.

"Objection, your honour," Ms Knight interrupted.  "If that was what happened, why did they report the two girls missing the next morning?"

Alec could see where this was going – the Ashworths were trying to put the entire thing onto the Gillespies and they had somehow got hold of Shareen Costello's statement.

Chapter 29
The judge was trying to restore some order to the proceedings as the court erupted.

"I will have order or the court will be cleared," the judge shouted over the noise.  "Where is this line of questioning going?" he asked the defence.

The defence was quick to respond, Alec thinking this was what they had planned all along, to somehow turn the tables and make it out the Ashworths were totally innocent in all this, which he knew wasn't true.  He was now dreading them bringing up that the police had lost the only piece of real evidence – the pendant.

"Your honour, there is no proof otherwise," the defence spoke up.  "I put to the court that the defendants were concerned about the girl and after Mr Gillespie left their house, the girl wanted to be taken to her parents."

"Your honour, there is no proof that actually took place," Ms Knight objected.  "Are the girl's parents on trial here?"

"The defence are trying to make it out they are," the judge replied.  "Get back to the facts if you will?"

"Of course, your honour," the defence smirked, looking pleased.  "Miss X, it's true is it not that you did not see the young girl again that night?"

Rose was feeling sorry for the young girl's mother though she'd not asked Alec where Lisa's parents were.

"No, Lee Ashworth came back on his own but his wife also went out, in the van that was there earlier," Rose replied.

"With the mysterious driver?" the defence goaded her.

Alec was shaking his head, they were going around in circles with this and getting nowhere, like a dog chasing its tail.

"Yeah, with the driver who purposely kept his back turned," Rose replied.

"Miss X, do not presume why the other person did not turn around," the judge told her.

"Sorry, your honour," Rose apologised.

Alec thought well what did they expect?  It was the Gillespies or Rose who were on trial here.  He now wished he'd been able to get something out of Ricky instead of having to let him go.

"Miss X, tell us what happened after Mr Ashworth came back," the defence asked her.

Rose could have sworn she'd already told them that once but proceeded to say it again.

"Miss X, I put it to you that the events you saw were clouded by the fact you too had been drinking earlier," the defence told her.

"What's going on here?" Rose asked.  "No, I was not drinking, I already explained my friend and her mother were doing the drinking, I had to leave early the next morning, why would I drink?"

"Miss X, please refrain from asking questions," the judge reminded her.

The defence were not going to ease up on her.

"You had a drink and to amuse yourself, having seen one of my clients taking something out to a van, you made the rest of it up," the defence continued.

"Objection," Ms Knight called out as she got up.  "The witness's statement has never been in doubt with the police or the prosecution," she reminded the court.

"Your honour, Miss X got my clients arrested, they have a right to contest what the witness told the police," the defence replied.

The judge stopped for a moment.  "I am familiar with what the witness claims she saw that night, the police were satisfied she had not had too much to drink and was competent enough at the time."

"You honour, I have reason to believe that one of the investigating officers dismissed her statement when Miss X first contacted the police.  In fact, it explains exactly why there was a delay in her being contacted again," the defence claimed.

Alec was wriggling in his seat, trying not to look at Tess or Rose.

"Where is your proof?" Ms Knight asked.

"The witness's friend, she says she told the police they had all been drinking that night including Miss X," the defence replied.

Ms Knight continued.

"Your honour, if the witness's friend had been drinking, she may have misjudged how much Miss X had to drink, there is no way of knowing so I put to the court that the witness knew what she was seeing at the time.  Your honour, the details are too clear for her to have made it up."

"Yes, I tend to agree Ms Knight," the judge replied, Rose thinking they were talking like she was the invisible woman or something.

"The defence needs some concrete evidence of the fact Miss X had been drinking too much that night," the judge told the defence.

"You'd better not have said anything to them Tess," Alec whispered to her.

"I wish to let the witness step down and call her friend, Shareen Costello to the stand," the defence announced.

Rose looked shocked, not only that Shareen's name had been revealed but it looked like they were going to use her to discredit herself.

"Very well, you can step down Miss X, you will be escorted to the waiting room," the judge addressed Rose.

"Don't I get to hear what she says about me?" Rose asked the judge.

"You will leave now, Miss X, before you are in contempt of court," the judge ordered.

Alec thought that was a bit harsh, maybe he should leave too, he didn't want to hear the defence twist Shareen's words to suit their purpose.  As Rose was being led out, Alec got up, Tess trying to stop him.

"You won't do any good going after her Alec," Tess hissed at him.

"I'm not staying to listen to the lies the defence will come out with," he replied as Shareen was being escorted in.

He went off, Jenkins about to follow but Alec told him to go back inside.

"Sir, you shouldn't be in there with her," Jenkins told him.

"Let them try to stop me," Alec growled back, passing the bailiff who had escorted Rose.

Alec went inside and Rose rushed to him.

"They're gonna pull me apart in there," Rose told him, on the verge of losing it.

"I know love, sorry.  We half expected it though," Alec told her.

"Don't ya wanna know about it?" Rose asked him,

"Tess will tell me, I think it's more important my being here with you.  I did tell you to be careful how you answered," he smiled as he held her.

Back in the court, Tess was trying to figure out how the defence had managed to call Shareen as a witness and not the prosecution using her to back Rose.

"How did this happen?" Ms Knight was asking her assistant.

She thought though that keeping Shareen's name a secret was a bit pointless since both the Ashworths and the Gillespies already knew who she was but how had they turned her?

"Miss Costello, the night your two friends went missing, what had you been doing?" the defence asked her.

Shareen began saying that they'd been going out until the disturbance outside, then they'd taken to drinking.

"Did your friend, known only as Miss X drink with you?" she was asked.

Shareen looked around, seeing Tess willing her not to say anything but she'd been the one who had believed her at first then changed her mind.

"Yes, she drank with us but I lost count after a while.  We were catching up on what had been going on where we used to live," Shareen replied.

"So your friend's claim she hardly drank anything may not be entirely true?" the defence asked her.

"I'm not certain, she could have drank the same as me," Shareen admitted.

"Objection," Ms Knight interrupted.  "Is there any point to this when it still can't be proved how much Miss X drank that night?"

"Your honour, I am simply trying to establishe Miss X could have had just as much that night and what she mostly saw outside could have been fabricated," the defence replied.

"Go ahead, objection over-ruled," the judge told them.

"Miss Costello, is it true that you were interviewed the next day and you told DS Henchard that you and your friend had been drinking?"

"That wasn't the name of the detective I spoke to," Shareen replied.

"I'm sorry, I meant DS Hardy, who has since gone back to her maiden name," the defence smiled, Tess not liking where this was going and Alec had sneaked out.

"Yes, I told her, then she came to interview me again and I told her the same," Shareen replied.

"So it must have been true, for you to tell her twice?  Did your friend tell you what she saw that night?" the defence asked her.

"She asked me a few questions then I fell asleep," Shareen told them.  "She said nothing when she was leaving the next morning.  It was only when it had been on the news she called me."

"Did you believe her, when she told you?" the defence wanted to know.

Shareen looked around the court.  "No, I didn't believe her," Shareen admitted.

The judge called for order.

"No more questions," the defence gloated, knowing the damage had been done.

Ms Knight however was determined to repair the damage.

"Miss Costello, is it true you moved away from the area shortly after?"

"Yes, we moved," Shareen replied, looking nervous.

"Why was that?" Ms Knight asked her.

"We didn't want to get involved with the police investigation because I'd known the two girls," Shareen replied.

"Really?" Ms Knight asked her.  "Is it not true that on the night in question, you had no idea if your friend had drunk as much as you since you admitted in your statement you went to bed and was asleep during the entire period your friend was watching the events going on outside?"

There were murmurings again around the courtroom.

"Yes, she asked me what Claire Ashworth looked like," Shareen admitted.  "I thought she was watching for Lee, since we'd not gone to see them."

"Why did you not go see them, if you had planned to?" Ms Knight asked her.

"There was some trouble in the street, my mum's partner advised us not to go out," Shareen told her.

"Did your friend ask anything else?" Ms Knight continued.

Shareen was beginning to realise she was being trapped.  It had come back to her that she'd actually told Rose she didn't seem to be drinking much but it was still a bit fuzzy even now.

"She asked about Lisa and Pippa, I asked her if she was going to stay at the window all night or something like that," Shareen replied.

"Did you speak after that?" she was asked.

"I don't remember," Shareen claimed.

Alec was trying to calm Rose down over what may be happening in the court.  He'd been out for some drinks and he'd sat next to her.

"I dread to think what she's being asked in there," Rose admitted.

"It may not be that bad love," Alec tried to convince her.

"How can the defence have got her to turn?" Rose asked, finishing her drink that was going cold.

"I don't know, maybe they saw an opportunity and the prosecution failed to secure her as a witness for them?" he suggested.

"Yeah, looks like it," Rose had to agree.  "Where does that leave me?"

"In the hands of the jury," Alec replied.  "Sorry love, they are clearly trying to discredit you and put the blame on the Gillespies."

"You tried getting to Ricky," Rose reminded her.

"I know love but without the Ashworths admitting anything, I can't get to him."

"No-one's gonna win this Alec."

"You don't have to tell me that, they've yet to bring up the fact of the missing evidence," Alec told her.

"Well I hope they've forgotten about it," Rose smiled.

"If only love," Alec smiled back.

Back in the court, Shareen had been excused and she'd gone to find the ladies room, hoping to be told she could leave the building but the defence caught up with her.

"Why did you call me for your side?" Shareen asked.  "I betrayed my friend in there."

"Really?" the defence asked her.  "You were just stating what happened."

"Maybe but it goes against her now.  Can I leave the building?" Shareen asked, trying to keep her temper in check.

"For now but don't leave the area, you may be recalled."

"I've nowhere to stay and I can't afford to keep coming here, do I get to claim expenses?" Shareen asked hopefully.

"Ask your friend to put you up, I hear she moved here," the defence replied, hoping to get that confirmed as she was sure Miss X and the lead detective had something going on.

She just wished she could prove it but she'd trip them up at some point.  She was sure the ring the witness had been wearing was on the wrong hand.

Rose was recalled after lunch and wasn't having an easy time as she was being questioned, going over the same things from different angles Alec thought and it was like a slow torture having to watch her answer.  They were let out for the day and Alec led her outside, keeping her behind him and was about to get in his car when they saw Shareen.

"Can we talk?" Shareen asked as the press were being kept back.

"What for?" Rose asked, trying to get in the car.

"I'm sorry, they tricked me.  They never said they were going to use me against you," Shareen admitted.

"Then whatcha think they were gonna do?" Rose asked her.

"Give her a chance," Alec urged her, waiting to close the door.

"You two are together, aren't you?" Shareen asked.  "I didn't need the defence to tell me but she suspects it.  I might be called again but I can't afford to keep coming backwards and forwards, can I stay with you?"

"What?" Rose asked, a bit surprised her once friend had the nerve.

"Now love, don't be hasty," Alec told her.  "She said she was tricked.  How did they manage to do that?" Alec asked Shareen.

"Can I stay with you or I'm gonna have to go back and I won't be attending if they call me again," Shareen asked her.

"I live with Alec, it's up to him," Rose replied.

"It's not a good idea, you are both on opposing sides," Alec reminded them.

"I won't let the defence use me again, I'll go to the prosecution in the morning and tell them they tricked me," Shareen replied.

"Rose and I share a one-bedroom flat, there's only a sofa-bed my daughter uses if she stays over," Alec told her.  He saw the look on Shareen's face.  "Well okay, just for tonight but you go to the prosecution in the morning," he relented.

Shareen got in the back and Alec drove them home, Rose not saying a word.  When they got back, Rose wanted to know what was going to happen if her friend tried to swap sides.

"It will be an advantage," Alec told her as they ate.  "I don't know what the defence will say, though the damage may have already been done."

"They think I made it all up and you helped them believe it Shareen," Rose told her.

"Rose, you can't blame her," Alec tried to tell her.  "The defence used her and twisted it to suit them.  I'll call Tess again and see what else was said."

He'd already spoken to her when they'd got back though he had neglected to tell her Shareen was staying with them.

"I told you Alec, the defence somehow knows I didn't believe Rose at first," Tess admitted.

"How are they getting this?" Alec wanted to know.

"Maybe they're getting it from the station?" Tess suggested.

Alec thought if it was Jenkins, he'd kick his ass back to school crossing duties.  It seemed unlikely though, it could be anyone on the team or even the janitor, Rose had been around enough for anyone to see Tess and Rose didn't exactly get on.

"Alec, they brought up the subject that we're divorced," Tess continued.

"Why would they do that?" Alec asked.

"I think they were fishing, Shareen was asked about me changing my name back, well they said my name and she didn't know it was me, then the defence corrected herself.  Alec, they may have caught on about you and Rose," Tess warned him.  "At the very least, they'll drag us being divorced into the proceedings that we didn't agree on everything and maybe that will be how they bring the missing evidence up?"

Alec hoped she was wrong, about everything.  Rose lent Shareen some pyjamas and they all tried to get some sleep but Rose was too wound up for hers and Alec's nightly activities and he noticed.

"You are too tense love, relax a little," he encouraged her, trying to lift her vest top.

"What did Tess mean?" she asked after he'd told her about his phone conversation.  "What if they come right out and ask me if we're involved?"

"Shush love, I'll talk to Ms Knight in the morning, get her to object if they do.  I think though they may not bother, well not yet, I think tomorrow they will start putting the blame on the Gillespies even more."

"Why didn't they object?  They just sat there," Rose reminded him.

"I know that love, maybe they will get their own legal help?  I think though that Ricky has somehow convinced Cate that he had something to do with it but not exactly what."

"Why would he do that?" Rose asked as he succeeded in lifting the top.

"He may have admitted to her he went to check on the girls.  It was a shame you never noticed when he arrived though, it must have been a good while before you were looking out of the window?  I'll have to check the taxi times again.  Now, are we going to debate this all night love?" he asked.

"You'd best keep your grunting down," Rose teased him.

"Excuse me, you are the one who giggles louder than I make noises," he teased her back.

As he coaxed Rose into resuming what they normally did, little did they know how the next few days were going to put even more of a strain on their relationship.  They were about to find out the next morning when they got to the court even earlier and Shareen went in first to see Ms Knight.

Shareen tried to explain she'd been tricked and Ms Knight had told her not to answer any more questions outside the courtroom and to tell the defence she was no longer going to be their witness.

"What if they get funny about it?" Shareen asked.

"Keep quiet and find a bailiff and tell them the defence is badgering you into something you are uncomfortable with.  The bailiff will inform the judge," Ms Knight told her.

"Well I hope it won't get me into trouble," Shareen replied.

"Miss Costello, did you tell the truth in there yesterday?" Ms Knight asked her.

"Something came back to me, about that night.  I vaguely remember asking Rose why she wasn't drinking much," Shareen admitted.

"You're not certain though?" she was asked.

"I'm sorry, really I am.  It was all my fault, I knew Rose had to leave early the next morning and she wouldn't want to drink much but I probably tried to encourage her.  I'm also sorry I told that detective Rose had as much as me but I was angry that Rose didn't ask me to watch what was going on with her.  She knows what I'm like when I've had a few drinks," Shareen half smiled.

"Never mind that now, the defence did too much damage over that but if you are recalled and asked again, you could say you were jealous about her witnessing the events and that now you are not sure how much either of you had to drink," Ms Knight advised her.

Shareen left and Rose and Alec went in, just having enough time.

"Yes, what is it?" Ms Knight asked Alec as she went to the wardrobe to get her gown.

"I think my ex may get tricked into saying about the divorce," Alec admitted.

"I wouldn't worry about that," Ms Knight told him, trying not to smile.

"Yes but she suspected I was seeing Rose before the divorce was finalised," Alec admitted.

"I see?  You'd best hope she keeps quiet then?" Ms Knight asked, going for her wig.

"Trust me, Tess does not like keeping things quiet, I'm surprised she defended her actions by not saying she believed Rose was drunk that night and she covered it up by saying she was trying to back up Rose's story."

"Well be thankful she did," Ms Knight told him.  "Anything else I should know about?"

Alec shook his head and they left, hoping to avoid the press again.  As they hurried along the corridor to the waiting room, they turned the corner and saw flashes of light from cameras and phones and Rose tried to bury her head under her jacket.  Alec called for security, who tried to move the crowd back and led her into the waiting room.

"I hope they didn't get me," Rose told him.

"They don't have your name though," Alec reminded her.

"Well it won't be long before they get it, will it?  Someone's bound to recognise me."

"They may not have got a good picture of you love.  I hate to say though that you being with me may do some harm."

"That's just great," Rose complained.  "I need coffee."

Alec called Jenkins and told him to bring some drinks but he hoped the DC wasn't the one who had been giving the defence any information.

The defence had found someone else to pick on so neither Rose or Shareen were needed until later, Rose wondering where her friend was.

"She's probably sitting out of the way of the press," Alec suggested.

"I hope so.  I swear if the defence has another go at me I'll say something," Rose told her.

Alec smiled and leaned over to kiss her forehead.  The bailiff came in without knocking, which was why they always sat at a distance.  Rose was led back to the courtroom, not seeing Shareen but by the look on some of the faces, she wasn't in for an easy time.

"Miss X," the defence began, Alec wishing she'd stop doing that to try to put Rose off.  "When did you begin your affair with DI Hardy?"

Alec could hear chattering and saw everyone look at him, thankful he'd not got a seat next to Tess.

"What?" Rose asked.  "Do I have to answer that?"

"Your honour, there is no proof the witness and the lead detective are involved," Ms Knight objected.

"The defence will provide proof of the accusation," the judge ordered.

"We weren't having an affair," Rose protested.

"You are under oath Miss X," the defence reminded her.  "Did the affair start after your first visit to Sandbrook police station or before?"

Chapter 30
(Sorry, the next bit may go along the lines of the accusations and proceedings in Broadchurch series two)

Rose was trying to recover and not give anything away.  Still, they didn't intend hiding forever but Rose didn't think it was a good idea to come out and admit it.

"We didn't start an affair," Rose replied, which was true, sort of since Alec was getting a divorce at the time.

When he'd gone to see her that time, she'd been assured the divorce was almost complete.  There was still chattering in the public gallery.

"Your honour, where is this line of questioning going?" Ms Knight got up and asked, Rose thinking it was about time.

"Indeed Ms Knight.  Well?" he asked the defence.

"Your honour, if I am allowed to continue, it will become apparent," was the reply.

"Very well, I will allow it, for now," the judge decided.

Rose wished he'd not said that.

"Miss X, I put it to you that you and DI Hardy started an affair and he encouraged you to fabricate what you saw that night."

"No, he didn't need to get me to say anything.  I gave some of my statement before I even met him," Rose replied, thinking she'd seemed to have forgotten that.

"Ah, yes.  Your statement to DS Henchard that she dismissed at the time?" the defence asked.

"That wasn't my fault, if she didn't believe me," Rose replied.

"Maybe not but all the same, she did dismiss it.  Is it true that it was a long time before DI Hardy contacted you?"

"It was a while, yes," Rose told her.

"Then he asked you to give your statement in person.  Was that when he initiated the affair?"

"What affair?  An affair assumes one or more people are still married," Rose replied.

The judge was about to say something but let it go, since she was right.

"Miss X, assuming it is not an affair, is it not true you now live together?" the defence tried asking.

"I'm staying with him yes, I couldn't afford to keep coming down here to answer questions," Rose replied.  "We're not having an affair."

"Your honour, this is pointless," Ms Knight pointed out.

The judge could see that was true.

"The defence will get to the point, if there is one," he ordered.

Rose thought it was just a cheap trick to discredit her – again.

The defence seemed satisfied she'd done some more damage, Alec thought.  They knew they couldn't win but didn't want the prosecution to do so either.

"Miss X, just answer the question, are you living with DI Hardy?" Rose was asked.

Rose had no choice.

"Yes, I'm staying with him but he never asked me to lie about my statement," Rose told her.  "Why would I lie about what I saw?"

Alec knew what the defence was up to.  Rose was far too clever for them though.

"No more questions," the defence told her.

Ms Knight got up.  "No questions."

"You may step down Miss X," the judge told her.

Rose was escorted out, Alec thinking he'd best stay where he was and nodded to Jenkins to follow her.  Rose saw him enter the room behind her and turned around.

"It's true, isn't it, about you and Hardy?" Jenkins asked her.

"You know it is but I didn't have to admit it, did I?" Rose asked.  "Like I said, an affair means one or more persons are already married, Alec was in the middle of his divorce.  How did they get to know anyway?"

"Don't look at me," Jenkins raised his hands and grinned.  "I'm on your side.  He's been completely different since you moved here."

"Really?  So what was he like?" Rose wondered.

"On edge, like he couldn't wait for your next visit," Jenkins replied.  "The defence was out of order."

"Yeah, they're trying to discredit my statement, they know they can't win any other way," Rose told him.

As Rose had left, the prosecution was giving her closing speech, which surprised Alec somewhat, he thought there would be more questions but no-one else had been called.  He wondered now why the two defendants hadn't been called.  The prosecution was about to bring that up.

"You've heard the eyewitness from that night, we know she was actually there as her friend attested," Ms Knight began.  

Alec was paying close attention as she went through everything, pointing out that the defendants had not been called to take the stand.  As she closed, saying that the two defendants should be found guilty as charged as they had been seen disposing of the young girl, since she'd not been taken back and been found three days later in the nearby river.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," Ms Knight finished.  "You have heard all the facts but you have also heard the defence trying to discredit the only real witness.  I urge you to make your own minds up as to if the witness saw everything as she described."

MS knight nodded to the judge then sat down.  Alec thought now the fun was going to begin.  He wasn't going to be wrong.

The defence got up and surprised everyone by saying she wanted to recall Tess, who looked surprised, since she thought it was over.

"Very well," the judge agreed at the request.

"DS Henchard, did you suspect there was something going on between the witness and DI Hardy?" she asked.

"There was no proof there was anything between them," Tess answered.

"I'm more interested in your personal opinion," the defence replied.

"I had no personal opinion, I was in the middle of getting divorced, what my ex husband was doing was nothing to do with me."

Alec thought if that was meant to not only discredit Rose but also him, it had failed to do so.  He thought the defence had decided to use that as a last minute attempt but they had wasted their time.

"DS Henchard, you may step down," the judge decided before the defence could object.  "The defence will begin their closing speech."

Alec thought it was getting a bit late but the judge didn't appear to mind it was almost lunchtime.  The bailiff though approached the bench to remind him.

"On second thoughts, there will be a recess," the judge decided.

Alec was one of the first out, despite what had been said earlier and he entered the waiting room, asking Jenkins to fetch their lunch.

"Do ya ever pay him for all the drinks?" Rose smiled.

"He will get it back.  You did well in there love, I was proud of you," he told her going towards her.

"I didn't give much away did I?  Can you tell me what happened when I left?"

"Sorry love, all I can say is the defence tried a last minute trick and it failed."

"Will that be enough?" Rose asked.  "I mean have they finished with me in there?"

"It's just the closing speeches, Ms Knight gave the jury something to think about.  Let's hope the defence don't go overboard eh?"

After lunch, Alec asked if Rose could be there for the closing speech and the bailiff went to ask the judge.  She was allowed to attend but both of them were going to regret it as the defence began.

"You've heard the testimony of the witness who claims she saw what went on that night," the defence began.  "There is no proof that was what actually happened.  Yes, she may have seen the father of the girl who died, yes, she may have seen one of the defendants taking something out to a van but there is no proof it was anything untoward.  The witness also claims one of the defendants carried the young girl out to a car but we have no proof as to why she wasn't brought back," the defence claimed.

Rose so wanted to take hold of Alec's hand but that would just prove what she'd been trying to deny.  The defence continued going through a list of the events.

"The witness also claims she wasn't drinking earlier that night but her friend says otherwise.  Can we believe the witness actually saw those events clearly or did her imagination take over?  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I put it to you that it was fabricated and that after the witness claims to have finally gone to bed, the girl was brought back and that her own father came back and he took her where she was found three days later."

The court erupted as Ricky Gillespie shouted it was all lies.  The judge was trying to restore order.  

Alec whispered to Tess. "I knew they'd try that."

"There will be order or the court will be cleared," the judge shouted.  "The defence will continue."

Ricky though hadn't finished.

"Lies, why would I take my own daughter out to the woods and leave her there?" he asked.

"Sit down, Mr Gillespie is it?" the judge asked.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," the defence continued.  "There is compelling evidence that the girl's father came back to check on her and her cousin but no evidence he didn't return later, took the girl then went back to his hotel, returning the next day to claim the girl was gone and her cousin had disappeared.  I also put it to you that the girl's cousin was told to disappear so she couldn't tell the police."

More murmurings came from around the room.  Cate Gillespie sat stone-faced, Alec thinking maybe she believed it.  The judge tried to restore order again.

The defence went on to say the Ashworths were merely victims caught up in the imaginings of a stranger to the area who had been drinking and their former friends and neighbours taking the easy way out and blaming them for their daughter's death and that Ricky Gillespie was known to have been there that night and wanted to put the blame onto the Ashworths. 

"That concludes the case for the defence."

The judge banged his gavel again.  "The jury will now retire to begin their deliberations.  Please follow the bailiff to a private room."

The jury left and the judge got up, everyone else standing until he'd left.  The Ashworths were led out but Rose could feel Claire was glaring at her as she turned.

"I knew it," Alec turned to Rose, taking her arm.  "I'll take you back to the waiting room."

"Not much point now, is there Alec?" Tess asked him.  "Are you sure she'll remain protected?"

"She had better be, until the verdict comes in," Alec replied as everyone else was leaving, except Ricky Gillespie.

"So, this is the witness?" Ricky asked, coming up behind them.

"This is not appropriate Ricky," Alec told him.

"I just got accused of killing my daughter, because the Ashworth's don't want to accept they did it," Ricky told him.

"You are letting the defence get to you, go calm down," Alec replied.

"You tried to get me before Hardy, were you getting the information from her?" Ricky asked, staring at Rose.

"Don't you think you should go find Cate, this must be hard on her," Tess suggested.

"She knew it would be hard, I told her not to come," Ricky replied.  "If they get away with this, it will be your fault for making it up," he told Rose.

"Leave her alone Ricky, she's the only one who did see what happened, you actually believe she made it up?" Alec asked him, the bailiff trying to make them leave.  

"I'm not saying she wasn't there," Ricky replied.  "We've only got her word the drink wasn't making her see things."

"In case you forgot, we have proof you went back that night," Alec reminded him.

"You all have to leave," the bailiff interrupted them.

Alec nodded and led Rose out, avoiding people who turned as he led Rose back to the waiting room.

"You can't use that room any more," the bailiff told Alec.

"Why not?  She's still a witness until the trial is over, surely?" Alec asked.

"The room was only made available until her testimony was complete," the bailiff replied.

"What am I supposed to do then?" Rose asked.

"Sorry Miss, those are the rules," the bailiff told her.

"Come on Rose, I'll wait in the ladies room with you," Tess offered.

Alec wondered what had come over his ex wife.  Was it because she was gloating he and Rose were actually tripped up over their affair?

"No, I don't want to wait in the ladies, thanks," Rose replied.  "Are the reporters still here?"

"They will all be waiting around the corner but now, I doubt they will be kept back," Alec replied, spying a spare seat across the other side as a lot of people had gone outside to smoke, well he assumed that was where everyone had disappeared to.

"I can't believe they tried to pin it on Ricky Gillespie," Rose told him as they sat down, Jenkins looking around for them as he came back inside.

"That's what they do, look for an alternate killer," Alec replied.

"What now though?  I'm not under the court's protection any more, am I?" Rose asked.

"Sorry, it does not look like it," Alec replied.  "Where did your friend go?"

"She probably went home if she's any sense," Tess told him.

"Anyone want a drink?" Jenkins asked.

Just before four, the bailiff informed everyone the judge had sent the jury home and the proceedings would start again the next morning.

"So we just have to come back and wait again?" Rose asked. 

"I'll just go see the prosecution, about getting you back in the waiting room," Alec told her.

"It doesn't matter, does it?" Rose replied.

"I still need to see her.  Tess, take Rose back to the station please," he asked.

Rose reluctantly went with Tess and Jenkins, since Tess had her car outside and Jenkins had walked.

"Are you worried now?" Tess asked her as they drove off, Rose in the back seat.

"Yeah, what do ya expect?" Rose asked.

"I stuck up for you in there," Tess told her.  "They brought up the fact I didn't believe you at first because you admitted you'd been drinking."

"Then thanks but it doesn't alter the fact that's what ya thought," Rose replied.

"I know, what do you want me to say?" Tess asked as she drove into her parking space outside the police station.  "Rose, I made a judgement, maybe I was wrong but it was appropriate at the time.  Your friend agreed you could have had too much to drink, she is just as much to blame in all this."

"Maybe?" Rose had to agree as Jenkins opened the door for her and offered to help her out, Rose shrugging him off.  "Shareen's been seen by them now."

"I wouldn't worry about her," Jenkins told her.

"That's enough," Tess told him.

"Whatcha mean by that?" Rose asked as they went inside.

"Well she didn't point the finger at the Ashworths or Ricky Gillespie," Jenkins continued, getting a scowl from Tess.

"That was uncalled for," Tess warned him, glad he was Alec's DC and not hers.  "You can wait in Alec's office," she told Rose.

Alec had gone into the prosecution's office and waited while she stepped from behind the screen, unlike before but Rose had been with him then.

"I know what you want," Ms Knight told him.  "If they get off, it's up to you to keep her safe."

"I know, I'm prepared for that," Alec replied.  "What are the chances they'll walk free?"

"I'd say the odds are in their favour, the way they tried to discredit your witness.  It did a lot of damage but so did putting the blame on Ricky Gillespie, that was low, even for her," Ms Knight told him.

"What I never get is a solicitor trying to get someone off who is clearly guilty.  How do they live with themselves afterwards?" Alec wondered.

"Who says they can live with themselves?" Ms Knight asked.  "We just need a majority if the jury can't all agree, it's not over yet.  Her friend didn't help much, she was tricked by the defence."

"Yes, I know, I encouraged her to see you but the defence accusing me and Rose of having affair, was that a stab in the dark that paid off?"

"A lucky guess, they must have seen you two together or they listened to office gossip, take your pick," she told him.

Alec thought it didn't take a genius to see how they looked at each other, maybe they'd given the game away themselves?  He drove the short distance back to the station, meaning to just take Rose home but as he got to his office, Rose was on the phone to her mother.

"Mum, I don't know how it went, the jury got sent home for the day," she was telling Jackie.  "It could still go either way.  Anyway. Alec's back, I'll call ya tomorrow."

"Well I hope the jury have the sense to find them guilty," her mother told her.

"So do we," Rose agreed, smiling at Alec.

"Come on, let's go home.  Have you heard from your friend?"

"No, she won't be talking to me now, she'll blame me for seeing what I did.  Alec, why didn't they believe I was there?"

"They did believe you were there but not how you recalled what happened love.  It was just unfortunate you had a drink that night but compared to the alternative?  Rose, you could have found yourself in the dock, you and your friend could have got caught up in what happened."

Rose fell into his arms, not caring anyone was outside.

"It's okay love, if they get off, I will keep you safe."

"They missed a lot out Alec, they never asked me half the questions I thought they would."

"Aye, they never even touched on the missing evidence but maybe the prosecution thought they had enough with you?" Alec wondered.

"You'd have thought they would have wanted to prove Pippa was in that car that night," Rose asked him.

"It would then have been embarrassing that the pendant had been stolen.  I still say Claire has hidden it somewhere, it had to have been her."

As they drove home, Rose trying to get Shareen to answer her phone but it just went to voicemail, Alec was wondering why half of it had been left out but maybe he was right?  Bringing up about the lost pendant wouldn't help either side really but the prosecution had chosen to put their faith in Rose, it wasn't her fault the defence had gone after her to discredit her.

The next morning, Alec had to take Rose though the masses of reporters again and once inside, they joined Tess and Jenkins, since there was no-one else to talk to.

"So we just wait around?" Rose asked.

Tess could have sworn she asked that yesterday but Rose seemed even more nervous than the day before and rightly so.

They were suddenly told the jury were going back in to ask questions so when everyone was ready, the bailiff passed a note to the judge.

"One question from the jury is was there any physical evidence to say the girl who died was in the car the witness had seen drive off?" the judge read out.  

"Yes, evidence was found but it has not been entered," Ms Knight replied as he directed the question at her.

"Is there any reason for that Ms Knight?" he asked her.

"It was never in dispute that the girl was in the Ashworth's car that night," Ms Knight told him, hoping to get away with it without admitting the pendant was still missing.

Alec still wasn't sure if the defence knew about it or not.  The jury seemed to accept the answer though, thankfully since it was Tess who'd lost it.

"The second question is, was the girl's father interviewed by the police?" the judge read out, looking through his notes and not at Ms Knight this time.  "The answer is yes, several times but although it was proved he went back that night, there was no other proof he had been further involved with the events."

The jury foreperson acknowledged the answers with a nod and they were led back out.  Out in the corridor, Alec sent Jenkins to get drinks, wondering why the man hadn't asked for the money back and why he always seemed to have change for the machine over at the far side.  Maybe he was just always prepared?

"I thought Ms Knight was gonna say something else," Rose smiled to Alec.

"Good thing she didn't," he replied.

Tess had gone off to talk to someone as Jenkins came back and they finished their drinks in silence.  Nothing was happening and Alec was tempted to go back to the station but he knew the jury could decide at any time.  Just before twelve, the bailiff announced the jury were going back in.  Alec could only imagine what they'd been discussing – either his and Rose's 'affair' or her being an unreliable witness.

Everyone was seated, the defendants were brought back in and the bailiff asked the jury foreperson if they had reached a verdict.  When she answered "Yes" she was asked if it was unanimous or a majority.

"A majority," came the reply as the judge had told them he would accept that if there was some division as to the defendants guilt.

"The defendants will rise," the bailiff told them, Rose wishing they'd just get on with it and reached for Alec's hand, not caring this time.  

It would soon be over one way or the other and Alec squeezed her hand back and whispered to her.

"Whatever happens, you know I love you."

"Do you find the defendants Claire and Lee Ashworth guilty or not guilty?" the bailiff asked.

Chapter 31
A/N: I know nothing of court procedures, only what I've seen on TV and Broadchurch series 2, which I've based most of the courtroom scenes on.

The foreperson looked directly at the bailiff.  Rose was gripping Alec's hand without realising, Alec was on the edge of his seat and they'd all somehow ended up sat at the side of Claire, who had been glancing at Rose ever since she'd been called to the witness stand but Alec hadn't allowed her to sit right next to the enclosed area.

Rose thought it was the longest few seconds of her life as everyone waited for the jury foreperson to speak up.

"We find the defendant, Claire Ashworth guilty of aiding and abetting Lee Ashworth in disposing of Pippa Gillespie and the disappearance of Lisa Newberry."

The court erupted and Rose thought the judge rather enjoyed banging the gavel on the desk.

"Order," he shouted above the raised voices, Ricky being one of them as Cate was disowning him. 

"We also find the defendant, Lee Ashworth guilty of the murder of Pippa Gillespie and the disappearance of Lisa Newberry."

"Thank you Madam foreperson," the bailiff replied, not that anyone could hear him and the woman assumed she could sit down.

"Silence," the judge shouted.  "Claire and Lee Ashworth, you have both been found guilty.  Claire Ashworth, for your part in what happened that night, that of you aiding and abetting your husband in the disposal of Pippa Gillespie, I sentence you to eighteen months, time served will be taken into consideration.  Lee Ashworth, I sentence you to ten years for the unlawful killing of Pippa Gillespie and disposing of her and in connection with the disappearance of Lisa Newberry."

There was still a lot of talking going on as the judge thanked the jury and dismissed them but as Claire was being led away and stood up, she could see Rose.

"I'll get you, whoever you are," Claire shouted in her direction, Alec trying the steer Rose out.

He knew Claire wasn't talking to either him or Tess.

"Go on Rose, let's get out of here," Alec told her as the judge was leaving.

Rose half turned.  "I heard what she said Alec."

"Take no notice, she's just annoyed she got what she deserved," Alec replied.

Tess stopped him.  "Alec, you heard what Claire got, she won't forget and she won't serve eighteen months."

"Thanks for that Tess, you think I don't know that?" Alec turned towards her.

Once outside the courtroom, he could see the reporters had got nearer and were shouting for Rose, well there were shouting for Miss X, trying to get their microphones and cameras nearer.

"What do you think of the decision?" one was asking her.

"Is it true you and DI Hardy had an affair?" a woman asked.

Alec wondered how they'd heard Rose being asked that, it was obvious someone in the public gallery had said something and the press had overheard.

"Miss X has no comment at this time," Alec replied for her, trying to get her away.

"DI Hardy, are you satisfied with the sentence the defendants received?" another asked him.

"No comment at this time, there will be a statement released to the press," Alec told them.

Rose was sure by now someone had got a decent photo, that was all she needed, for someone to put a name to her face.

Alec steered her towards his car and was just helping her get in when Ricky approached him.

"You screwed up Hardy," Ricky told him.

"Were you not there when they both got sentenced?" Alec replied, closing Rose's door.

"They'll make a appeal because you were screwing around with your main witness," Ricky goaded him.

"They have no grounds for appeal, we did not have an affair, we waited until I was divorced and don't you dare repeat that," Alec warned him.

"Even so, the speculation will have put doubts in people's minds Hardy.  The judge was too easy on them, Claire will be out in no time," Ricky complained.

"They got what the law allows.  Think yourself lucky you were not with them," Alec told him.

"You can't prove anything Hardy and you know it," Ricky goaded him.

"Time will tell, one of them may decide to tell the truth about that night to get a reduction in their sentence," Alec replied.

"Leave it Ricky, it's over," Cate called from behind him.  "This won't bring our daughter back or find Lisa."

"Listen to her Ricky," Tess urged him as she crossed over from her car to see what was going on and wondering why the press weren't taking notice.

"That's easy for you to say, you still have your daughter," Ricky replied.

Rose was trying to stay out of it, she couldn't open the window so she opened the door slightly.

"That's not fair," Rose spoke up.  "They wouldn't have got what they deserved if I'd not been there that night.  Lucky for you I couldn't prove it was you who came back later."

"Stay out of this love," Alec warned her, almost giving her name away.

"Well it wasn't me you saw," Ricky denied.  "How would you know anyway, we'd never met before."

"Weren't you listening?" Rose asked.  "I saw you both that morning, I knew it was you the first time you went back."

"That was your own fault, Ricky," Cate told him.  "I told you we should have waited inside for the taxi and if you'd not been arguing with Lisa over going next door she wouldn't have been able to identify you, would she?"

"What did they argue over?" Alec asked, wishing she'd told him that before but there again, he'd never thought of asking.

"Don't say anything," Ricky warned Cate.

"It doesn't matter now, does it?" Cate asked.  "He warned her about taking Pippa around without us, I saw the way Lee was looking at Lisa."

"You were just jealous," Ricky scoffed.

"So there was something between Lisa and Lee?" Tess asked.  "Cate, why didn't you say anything?"

"I didn't want to believe it, now I know, since she ran away, he probably made a move on her and she knew she'd gone too far," Cate replied.

"We could have used that," Alec told her, trying to get Rose to close the car door.

"It won't help find Lisa or bring Pippa back," Ricky told him.

"You have my deepest sympathy over Pippa but you acted very suspiciously that night.  Had you not behaved like that, you would not have been questioned.  Why did you argue with Lisa that morning?" Alec asked him.

"I'm not talking to you Hardy, if you want an answer, send for me, I want a solicitor present," Ricky replied.

Rose thought that if that wasn't incriminating himself, she didn't know what was.  Ricky went off but as Alec was about to get in the car, Ms Knight caught up with him.

"I just heard, Claire is about to be set free," she told him so Rose couldn't hear.

"What?  How is that even possible?" Alec asked.

"She's served some time, her solicitor went straight to the judge, luckily I followed and I was told since she's served a few months and it was mostly circumstantial, he gave the ruling.  She just has to go back for processing," Ms Knight told him.  "I'm just as disappointed as you are but there's something else."

"There would be," Alec replied.

"I think she'll talk, to get her husband off and goodness knows what she'll bring up, maybe about you asking about the pendant that Pippa lost that night."

Rose was sat in the car, wondering what was going on so she opened her door, since Ricky had gone.

"What's wrong Alec?" she called across to him.

"You'd best tell her.  Look after her, detective inspector," Ms Knight told him.  "I'm going to see if any more damage has been done."

Alec indicated for Rose to get back in the car but he saw Tess talking to the prosecution barrister, Tess looking about as happy as he was.

"Claire's being released, for time served," he told Rose as he got in, seeing Tess head towards him.

"What?  I thought she'd get another few months," Rose replied.

He put the key in the ignition and opened his window.

"I've just been told about Claire," Tess told him.

"I know.  I'm going to take Rose home then we'll see what damage has been done.  You heard her threatening Rose?"

"She may forget about it, since she's getting off," Tess replied.

"Maybe but her husband may now appeal, Ms Knight just mentioned about the missing pendant.  If Claire raises that point, that it was lost, it may go in Lee's favour."

"Why didn't she just admit it to the court?" Rose asked.

"Why bring it up?  They were going mostly on your testimony," Alec reminded her.

"Yes Alec but they will both be claiming now that it was circumstantial," Tess reminded him.

Alec was beginning to realise what it meant already – that Lee would make an appeal and if it were to be revealed the pendant had been recovered then lost, by Tess, it would give him grounds to also get off with a lighter sentence.

"Let's worry about that when it happens?" Alec suggested.

"So I still have to keep a low profile?" Rose asked.

"Maybe not, Claire will be too busy trying to get Lee released to worry about getting her revenge," Alec replied.  "She has no reason to go after you yet."

"What do ya mean by yet?" Rose panicked.

"Calm down love, it could take her a while to get her husband out.  She doesn't know your name or where you are staying," Alec tried to assure her.

"Yeah but she'll soon find out, if the papers have got a picture of me," Rose replied.

"Maybe they didn't get a clear one?" Tess suggested.

"They'd better not have done," Rose huffed.  "Can we go to the café, I need coffee."

"I'll see you at the station," Tess told him.  "We can discuss what happens next, if Lee is going to make an appeal.  The Gillespies won't be happy when they find out."

"You think I don't know that?" Alec asked.

He set off to drive the short distance to the railway station café, seeing a parking spot and put his police sign on the dashboard, making Rose smile.

"How did ya know I meant this one?" she smiled.

"I thought this was your favourite love?" he asked.

"I suppose so, it's become my favourite.  Alec, do ya think I should go back to London?" she asked as she got out.

"What?  No love, I don't want you to go back, you know that.  You can change your ring over now anyway, the defence will surely bring that up again in any appeal." 

"They have to know but I didn't actually lie in court," Rose replied.

"I know love, that was very clever of you, it made them think," Alec smiled as he led her around the corner.  "Ms Knight will keep us informed but the appeal hearing may not be made public, we may not get a say in it, it could be down to the two solicitors to argue it out."

"Great, we won't even know what's being said about us then?" Rose asked as they went inside.

He went to get the drinks and Rose wanted a snack so as they waited, he took her hand over the table.

"Do you want to go home?" he asked, hoping she didn't.

"No, you know I don't want to.  Why would they come after me now?" she asked.

"Because you still know too much love," he replied as the waitress came with Rose's order, a ham and cheese toastie.

"Want some?" Rose smiled as he let go of her hand.

Alec shook his head.  "You still know the truth about that night and what did Ricky mean?  Why did he argue with Lisa that morning?"

"You'll have to question him again," Rose reminded him.

"The chief will tell me to drop it love.  Officially, the case is done with, except Lisa is still missing.  Maybe she took off somewhere?  What if she knows what happened to Pippa and got scared?" he asked, watching Rose eat.

"Alec, I would have seen her leaving," Rose pointed out.

"Not if she was waiting for them coming back, after you went to bed?" he wondered.

"You mean even more went on after I stopped watching?" Rose asked.

"Possibly?  Rose, I know what the defence is up to, they are going to appeal on the grounds you never saw what happened after the Ashworths got back, that Lisa left, that he took Pippa to her parents but with Ricky denying everything, that has to be proved.  They were clearly trying to put the blame on Ricky."

"Yeah, I noticed," Rose tried to smile.  "So, Claire won't bother with me?"

"Not yet, well not until she gets Lee off.  Sorry love but they know what you saw was true, they just got their solicitor to try to convince everyone you were unreliable.  If he gets an early release, then we'll have to leave town, go somewhere else."

"Geez Alec, how did this happen?  They both got found guilty and within minutes they're trying to get off."

"Calm down love, I know and I am sorry.  Maybe I expected too much of you?" he asked.

"Don't say that Alec.  Maybe if I'd stayed at the window a bit longer, I may have seen Lisa leaving?"

"No, I'm beginning to think you already did love – in the sheet that was being carried out.  We dismissed it before but what if I am right?  Think about it Rose, that was why Ricky did not want anyone to see him, that's why he claims anyone could have borrowed the van to help Lee.  Sorry but I believe it was her they were carrying out."

"Then what about Pippa?" Rose asked.  "You think she saw what happened and they drugged her or something?"

"Maybe she heard and Ricky gave her something but Lee finished the job while Ricky was away getting the van?" he suggested.

"I don't like this Alec.  The court case may be over but it's not over for me.  I have to live with knowing what I saw and now you think it was Lisa being carried out?  I should have called the police when I first saw it."

"What would you have said at the time?" Alec asked.  "Rose, if you had rang and said there was something going on, they may have sent someone or ignored it.  It would still have come out that you and your friend had been drinking.  Then Tess would have still dismissed it and maybe even got me to believe you were unreliable.  No Rose, you did the right thing coming forward when you did."

"It doesn't feel like it.  Can you get me another latte?"

He patted her hand.  "Sure love then I'll take you home, unless you want to wait for me while I do some boring paperwork?" he smiled.

"I'll give that a miss, thanks," Rose tried to smile back.

Rose was devastated a few days later when Alec called with the latest news.

"Ms Knight called to say Lee Ashworth's solicitor wants a meeting with the judge.  She thinks Claire has said something about the missing evidence.  If that gets out, I don't need to tell you what it implies."

"Are you allowed to attend?" Rose asked after trying to take it in.

"I don't know love, sorry.  It may be just them but my chief is far from happy about it," Alec replied.

He had gone to tell the chief before he broke the news to Rose.

"How is this happening?" the chief asked.

"That's what I want to know," Alec replied.  "The prosecution thought Rose's testimony was enough, now, the defence has dragged out what the prosecution didn't declare – the missing evidence."

"You don't have to remind me Alec, I expect she thought it best to keep that out?  Now, if that gets out, what else will they drag up again?  I hope you have not been going after Ricky Gillespie again?" the chief asked him.

"You know there are a lot of unanswered questions," Alec reminded him.  "Tess agrees that it could have been Lisa they carried out that night."

"I know that's what you both think," the chief replied.  "Proving it is another matter.  Stay away from him Alec, that's an order, it will serve no purpose going after him, not unless by some miracle the Ashworths turn against him but if they did, they'd have to implicate themselves.  Be prepared for Lee Ashworth to be released and keep your girlfriend safe."

"I might have to ask for a transfer, unless they leave the town but they'll most likely be celebrating for a while but afterwards?  It's not our fault they got around it, the prosecution was wrong to withhold the fact of the pendant.  I bet you anything Claire still has it hidden."

"Well if she has, you can't go after her Alec.  It's over, I'm not authorising anyone to work on the case.  If you want to dwell on it, I don't want to know but bear in mind your girlfriend's involved.  If you have any case files, I recommend you return them but if you've misplaced any?  I'm not condoning you working on the case in your own time Alec, just don't let it interfere with anything else you are asked to work on."

Alec got the message.  Was it going to stop him though?  Rose had been disappointed her friend had gone back into hiding, Shareen was not answering her phone again but he didn't blame her for getting out.  He'd just finished talking to Rose when Ms Knight called.

"There's an application for a review from Lee Ashworth's solicitor, consisting of evidence that wasn't submitted – amongst other things," she told him.

"Why did you not admit about the pendant?" Alec asked her.

"I was trying to spare you the embarrassment, what do you think?" she replied.

"Well Claire was bound to say something sooner or later, maybe she was asked, after the defence brought up the subject?"

"That's obviously where this is going," she told him.  "I'll do what I can but once it comes out that the evidence was lost, your girlfriend's testimony will also be put in doubt.  They will probably try and claim you have no real evidence, so his sentence will be greatly reduced.  Unless you can prove he took the girl and left her in the woods?"

"You know I can't, after they left the estate.  What about Rose identifying them?"

"She still can't prove what they were doing," Ms Knight replied.

"Ricky Gillespie admitted he was arguing with Lisa that morning but he won't say why.  He was probably warning her about being alone with Lee and taking Pippa with her," Alec told her.

"Would he be willing to make a statement?" Ms Knight asked him.

"It's doubtful.  They are all involved, we just don't have any solid evidence.  Keep me informed, I need to know how Rose will be affected."

Alec had to go home and tell Rose the Ashworths may now both soon be free.  He'd had no word what happened to Claire after her release, he doubted she had gone back home except to collect any remaining belongings, Cate wouldn't let her stay there anyway.  Now he had to worry about Lee getting an early release.

"What's gonna happen Alec?" Rose asked him as they lay on the sofa.

"I'll apply for a transfer but Tess messing up with the evidence will go against me, I was in charge.  That's if it's brought up at the appeal.  You don't seem too good love, anything wrong?" he asked.

"Oh, just a nutter out there who helped her husband dispose of a young girl who told me she wouldn't forget I'd spoken up against them," Rose smiled.

"Don't worry about her love, she's too busy getting her husband released," Alec tried to assure her.

"Great, then what?" Rose wanted to know.

"We'll be gone by then.  So, where do I apply?  Anywhere special?" he asked.

"Alec, I'm not sure but I think I might be pregnant."

"What?  Seriously?  Since when?"

"Since the other week when we cut it a bit fine," Rose managed to smile.  "You forgot to get some more, remember?"

"I hadn't realised we went that far," he grinned.

"Must have been far enough then?  Give it a few more days, I could be wrong."

She wasn't.  Alec made her go get a test when they went shopping and when they got back, he wanted to be serious.

"We should set a date," he told her.  "How about sometime in June?  If I can arrange a transfer just after, we can make a fresh start.  What do you think love?"

"That you said you'd ask me properly, when the Ashworth's had been locked up," Rose recalled.

"Yes, I know and I also recall your mother was coming to the trial but she never did," Alec reminded her.

"You know why Alec, it would have just made things worse and she knew it.  So, are ya gonna ask me properly then?"

"We will go out tomorrow night, somewhere romantic," he teased her.

"Then let's go out tonight, yeah?" Rose suggested.  "We have two things to celebrate now.  We'll maybe have a Christmas baby, well just before.  Just think Alec, a baby to fuss over but it'll mean mum will have to come to us, wherever we go."

Alec was going to ask her not to remind him but thought better of it.

"If we don't go too far away, maybe Daisy can visit?  Let your mum come for Christmas, Daisy for the new year?"

A week later, his chief putting out for any vacancies Alec would be suitable for, no-one had anything but Alec suspected it was due to what rumours were going around – that Lee Ashworth was about to be released.  He was called to the chief's office the following Monday morning to find it was all over.

"Sorry Alec, I just got told Lee Ashworth's solicitor gave the judge enough room to doubt it was a solid conviction.  I didn't get all the details but the sentence was reduced to a year and he's served a lot of it.  He'll be out in a few months."

That was what Alec had been dreading and now Rose was pregnant, he had the two of them to keep safe but would Claire at least keep to her threat now they'd been released?  All he could do was hope someone would take him on before Lee was set free, he couldn't really risk it but would all the chiefs be against him?

Maybe not all of them, there could be someone who took pity on him.  He'd not been the one to have lost the evidence after all but he was still in charge of the investigation.  All he could do was hope it would go through before he had chance to find out how Lee Ashworth would react at getting set free but he was about to find out how Ricky Gillespie had taken the news before that.

Chapter 32
Everything was about to erupt when the news got out that Lee Ashworth would soon be walking free as Ricky burst into the station demanding to see Alec.  Rose had called her mother to give her the news and that Alec was looking for somewhere to take him on, since they couldn't stay there much longer.

"Rose, I'm sorry I never came down for the trial," her mother told her.

"I know mum but had you been there, someone could have tried to find out who you were."

"Yeah, I thought about that," Jackie admitted.  "I hope you're not moving too far though?"

"It depends how many chiefs are willing to overlook what happened though it's not Alec's fault.  I'm sure someone will see that."

Ricky had burst into Alec's office before Jenkins could stop him.

"You're a failure Hardy, first Claire gets set free while we were talking outside the court, now he's getting out," Ricky shouted at him as Jenkins tried to grab his arm.

"Get him out of here," Alec shouted back.  "You only have yourself to blame Ricky, you know what went on that night and one day I will prove it."

"You have no proof and neither does your little girlfriend.  The defence were right, you were too busy with her to care what was going on," Ricky replied, trying to free his arm.

"I did know what was going on, I never got involved with her until my divorce went through and every time she was questioned and made a statement, someone else was present.  It was you she saw come back that night, no matter how much you keep denying it.  What went on inside the Ashworth's house Ricky?  How come she saw you giving Claire a key to your house?"

"Your girlfriend didn't know what she was seeing, she'd had too much to drink," Ricky mocked him.

"You want to know something?" Alec asked him as he put his hands on the desk to get up.  "I believe her over you any day and while you claim she was drinking, she wasn't, her friends were drinking sherry, she hates it, her mother confirmed it."

"Then why didn't she defend herself in court?" Ricky asked.

"She didn't want to drag her mother into it.  You'll make a mistake Ricky and when you do?  Just watch out for Lee when he gets out.  You walked off while he had to serve some time, he won't be happy."

Alec then saw the look on Ricky's face.

"You think I'm bothered by a punk like him?" Ricky asked him.

"Yes, I do and you know why.  You trusted him to keep your secrets, he trusted you to keep his, that's the only reason he never gave you up," Alec told him.  "Don't bet on him staying quiet, he may still give you up, maybe he's made a deal to get an early release?"

"Get off me," Ricky shouted, making everyone turn towards Alec's office as he tried to shrug Jenkins off.  "You'd best get out of town Hardy, you'll get nothing on me, just take your girlfriend and get out, there's nothing for you here, I'll make sure of that."

"Get him out, now," Alec told Jenkins.  "Arrest him the next time he comes here."

"You heard him," Jenkins told Ricky.

"Don't think I never heard what Claire told your girlfriend, she meant it," Ricky turned to tell Alec as Jenkins led him out.

"You think she bothers me?" Alec asked him.

"She should do, you have no idea what Claire is capable of," Ricky warned him.

"Wait," Alec told Jenkins.  "What did she do to Pippa?"

"How would I know?" Ricky asked him.  "When I went back neither Lisa or Pippa were there, that's all I have to say."

Alec knew he had plenty more but it would incriminate him.  The Ashworths and Ricky Gillespie should have plenty to say about each other, he just had to get them to talk.  He also knew Ricky was lying about when he went back, if Pippa hadn't been there, how had Lee carried her out not long after he left?

He knew he couldn't give up completely, it would always bother him but Ricky still wasn't saying anything, which meant he was right.  He couldn't keep Rose here much longer, once Lee was released and he was back with Claire, they wouldn't think twice about going after her one way or another.  Ricky had more or less confirmed Claire had a temper and who knew once she got her husband back what sort of revenge she was seeking.

What bothered him the most was Claire was still the key to making the charges stick.  She still had the pendant that proved Lee had taken Pippa that night and if it was the last thing he did, he'd get it back but how?  He was interrupted by Tess standing in the doorway.

"How did he get in Alec?" she asked him as she'd seen Jenkins 'escort' Ricky out.

"That desk sergeant will be walking the streets if he lets him in again," Alec replied.

"Well, what did he want?"

"Nothing, he still won't admit anything other than he did go back that night but now he's saying neither Lisa or Pippa was there in the Ashworth's house."

"He never mentioned that before did he?" Tess asked.

Alec shook his head then ran his fingers through his hair.  "No so why mention it now?  He also admitted he knew Claire had a temper.  Tess, what if Pippa and Lisa were innocent in it all?"

"You think Lisa was innocent?" Tess laughed.

"Yes, that Lee led her on and Ricky got around the back of the house, saw them together and burst in?  What if he lost his temper and killed Lisa by accident?"

"Then what about Pippa?" Tess asked.

"She must have heard it, Rose said he had a flask with him when she saw him leaving that morning but I bet it wasn't alcohol."

"If we'd known Alec, we could have tested her for it," Tess told him.

"It would have been too late by then Tess, she'd been in the water too long.  If he drugged his own daughter though, did he leave Claire or Lee to finish the job?" Alec asked.

"Maybe he told Claire to give her whatever it was, then she saw the chance?  Alec, what if Pippa did tell Claire what she heard, she thought the girl would tell the police so she gave her too much on purpose?" Tess suggested.

"Why didn't we know all this before Tess?"

"Maybe because Ricky never gave us any clues?" Tess replied.  "So, if Lee Ashworth gets released, how are you going to protect Rose?"

They got the news two weeks later that Lee had been released and Alec was no nearer getting a transfer out of the town so he had someone watching who had seen the pair of them get on a motorcycle so he'd followed them to the port of Dover and saw them driving onto a ferry.

"That's good news then?" Tess asked him when he'd called Rose to tell her.

Rose, being two months pregnant was relieved but was still worried.

"Rose doesn't think so, Ricky is still in town, what if we reopen the investigation and the judge believes Rose this time?  No, I still have to get her out," he told Tess.

"Maybe you worry to much?" Tess wondered, leaving him to it.

Just as Alec was about to give up on getting a transfer, he heard a vacancy had come up on the south coast but he'd upset another officer who was about to get a promotion.  He talked it over with Rose, who was now almost five months and was almost due to go for another scan.

"Well if it upsets someone, maybe you best leave it?" she asked when he mentioned it.

"I need to know you are safe love.  The other officer will get over it, once they find out why I applied for it.  Anyway, you have other things to think about, the baby for one and what you are going to wear for the wedding," he teased her.

Rose pretended to grab a cushion to throw at him.  Mickey had agreed to bring Jackie down, they were just having a registry office ceremony, Daisy was going to be Rose's bridesmaid and Jackie and Mickey were being witnesses but the day before the wedding, Alec had decided to take the job – in a town called Broadchurch.

So as they were alone in the hotel Alec had booked them in for the night, he broke the news to her.

"I have to take it love and when the DS who was after the job sees you, they'll know why.  I have to think what's best for you love.  What if they ever decide to come back?  They won't bother with the fact you are pregnant."

"Are you trying to scare me even more?" Rose asked, trying to get comfortable and hating that she had to limit her movements.

"No love, I'm trying to keep you safe, you know that," he replied, leaning across to kiss her growing baby bump.

"Well, I suppose you have to take it then?  When do ya start?"

Alec gave notice on the apartment, arranged storage for their possessions in the nearby town of Dorchester and rented a caravan for the two of them right on the harbour, since he didn't want Rose walking up and down stairs of a hotel or an apartment.

It was mid July, the season was just getting started in the seaside town as Rose and Alec sat on the seafront eating icecream and watching a speed bike going up and down, well Rose was.  It still bothered him but his options had been limited but as long as Rose didn't drag him on a boat, he felt he could cope with it, that of walking out of the caravan park and seeing the sea and the nearby river that ran into it.

"We have to start looking for a house love," Alec reminded her.

"Yeah, before I can't do much," Rose grinned.

"Well we need three bedrooms, so your mother and Daisy can stay over.  The police agreed to pay for the caravan, they should cover most of the cost of a house."

"We'd better hope so," Rose replied, leaning on his shoulder.

What happened less than a week later was something neither of them could have predicted as the town was turned upside down, Alec battled with the DS whom he'd taken the job from and Rose had been worried Alec wouldn't be able to cope.  She'd tried making friends with Ellie Miller by waiting for her when she'd gone in and asked to see her and Ellie had only said she'd think about it.

Alec was tired when he got back to the caravan that first night, Rose had seen him promise to find the killer and she had every faith in him but Ellie had dragged up the past before they'd left for the night.

"Why take this job?" Ellie had asked him a few days later.  "You wanted to just bring your pregnant wife here?"

"No, that was not the reason.  You know about my last big case, how the two suspects managed to walk free?" he asked her as she was driving him back from a visit to the Latimers.  

Ellie just nodded, wondering why he was living in a caravan and why his wife had agreed.

Alec continued.  "The woman, she threatened Rose when she was leaving the court, Rose was the witness who got them caught."

"She was the witness?" Ellie asked in disbelief. 

"Well we weren't married then, she contacted us the day after it all kicked off and my ex dismissed her as she admitted her and the friend she was visiting had a drink.  I only found out months later and was in the middle of my divorce.  Rose came down to give her statement but the condition was, her name was kept out of it."

"So that accusation you were having an affair was true?" Ellie asked.

"No, Rose would have nothing to do with me until she knew my divorce as almost through.  I made the first move, the second time she visited the station.  I was seeing her off on the train and I said something stupid to her.  I took a risk and went to see her, it paid off," he admitted.

"I don't think I want to know," Ellie replied as she turned into the caravan park, waiting for directions.

"Drop me here," Alec told her, not wanting to reveal where they were living.

"Fine, see you tomorrow.  Ask your wife if she wants to come over for dinner."

"What?  Why?" he asked.

"Because you two are new in town, it's what people do.  Is she still worried those two will come after her?"

"No, she's calm at the moment.  Miller, I apologise for taking your job but I had no choice, I couldn't risk them coming back to the town looking for her.  I have someone watching out for them, they left the country and hopefully they will stay gone."

"You'd better hope they do," Ellie replied, realising she was blocking the road.  "How do you get out of here?"

"Take the next left, then left again it brings you back on the main road.  You live here Miller."

"Well it's got a no entry sign, how am I supposed to know?" Ellie told him.  "I don't take notice where there's a no entry sign."

"My wife will wonder where I am.  She could use a friend Miller."

"I was a bit off with her, I should apologise," Ellie admitted.

"Then you can make it up to her, I'll ask her about your dinner invitation," he replied.

"How far on is she?" Ellie asked as he was about to get out.

"Five months or so.  She's due at the end of November."

"Aw, just think, a baby to fuss over for Christmas."

"Yes, we worked that out but I hope to be able to rent a house before then.  I left it the first week we were here, now I wish I hadn't."

"The park closes at the end of October, didn't they tell you that?" Ellie asked him.

"No, I just booked it ongoing and told them the police were paying," he replied.  "I have to go, Rose will be worried."

"Yeah, sorry.  See you tomorrow."

Alec walked up the roadway to their caravan, seeing Rose looking out of the window and waved.  After their visit to the Miller house, Alec thought Rose was being a little paranoid when she told him Joe Miller seemed a bit odd but some weeks later, after resources had been cut, he was beginning to believe her.  The day he arrested his DS's husband, no-one had wanted to be more wrong than Rose, for pointing it out.

She'd become friends will Ellie, who had given her some baby advice and had told her the moment they got a house, she could use the baby equipment but she'd promised it to Beth, who was no longer talking to her but Rose had been due a few months before Beth anyway.  Rose and Alec were about to go to bed when there was a knock on the caravan door and Ellie stood there after she'd been to see Beth.

After Danny's funeral, Ellie told them she was leaving town and since her house was going to be empty, asked if they wanted to rent it.

"What do you think love?" Alec asked Rose after meeting Ellie on the pier later that night.  "It's all furnished but there would be room for our things.  It needs decorating though.  Do you think your friend Mickey would come down to help?"

Mickey was only too pleased and in just a few weeks, the place was ready to move into but as Alec was arriving with the van he'd hired to get everything from the storage room, Nigel Carter had seen him pass and got out of his van to see where Alec was going.

Rose had seen Alec and she went out to meet him, as Nigel stood opposite the house.  Alec took no notice as he greeted Rose, who was now around seven months and she kissed his cheek.

"Alec, who's that?" she asked as Nigel stood across the road.

"Carter, what are you doing watching my house?" Alec asked him.

"Your house?" Nigel asked, Rose thinking he was a bit slow since Alec had got out of a van, the car parked in the driveway.  "That's the Miller's house."

"Geez, you're bright," Rose said sarcastically.

"Shush love, go inside," Alec told her.

"Are you moving in with your bird then?" Nigel grinned.

Alec crossed over.  "What?  That's my wife you are talking about Carter so watch your mouth.  Now get out of here before I have you arrested."

"What for?" Nigel asked.

"Stalking my wife for one," Alec replied.

That took the smile of Nigel's face Alec thought.  He watched the man walk off back to his van and Alec went back to what he should have been doing, wishing Rose's friend was still there to help.  Nigel though drove off round to Beth's house, bursting in.

"Nigel, you can't just come walking in," Beth told him.

"That detective, Hardy, he's moving into Ellie's house," Nigel panted.

"What?" Mark asked as he came out of the kitchen.

Before he could stop Beth, she was out of the door and walking across the field.  She saw the van still there since Alec was taking it back in the morning and getting a taxi back home and knocked loudly on the door.

"I'll go love," Alec told Rose.  "Beth, what are you doing here?" he asked her.

"Nigel said you were moving in, why?" Beth asked him.

"Well it's no-one's business where my wife and I live," Alec told her.

"Ellie told me you were married but why here?"

"We needed a house, DS Miller has moved away so we are renting it.  We have no quarrel with you," Alec told her.  "Just tell your friend Nigel to mind his own business, I'll not go so easy on him next time."

It was the day Rose was booked to go into the local hospital and Alec was putting her bag into the car, then he went back to help her out to find her on her phone to her mother.

"Come on love, we have to go," he told her.

"I'll be fine Mum, Alec's on leave now," Rose was telling her mother.

So as Rose was getting booked in, Alec was acting the nervous expectant father and trying not to ring the station to tell them again he was no longer on duty.  Rose turned around from the desk and saw the look on his face.  He was hoping the baby would put in an appearance on time or Rose had got the date wrong.  He was somewhat relieved when just twelve hours later, after a lot of yelling from his wife, Shareen Hardy was being cradled by Rose, Alec taking a photo to send to Jackie.

"I'm glad you agreed with the name," Rose smiled as she played with the baby's fingers.

"How could I not?" Alec asked her.  "I'm sorry your friend never called you again love."

"She must have been really scared Alec."

"Well, they would have come back now, had they wanted their revenge," Alec replied, sitting on the edge of the bed, since Rose had her own room, being on his health insurance.

"Yeah but she doesn't know they went away Alec."

"I know love but she may have seen the message you sent her," he replied.

All over the Christmas holidays, Jackie made a fuss of her new granddaughter and when Daisy arrived for the new year, she didn't want to leave so Rose and Alec had a decision to make, Alec calling Tess.

"You want her to stay there?" Tess asked him just after they had settled the baby down for the night.  "Alec, you have a new baby in the house."

"Yes but Daisy is old enough now to make her mind up.  If she asks if she can stay or come back, I want her to know that you agree," Alec told her.

As Alec was about to drive Daisy to the coach stand at the bus station, he told her the good news.

"I will have to secure you a place at the local school but I can't see that being a problem.  So, what do you say?" he asked his daughter.

Daisy was soon back, fussing over her baby sister and giving her dad and stepmother a ready-made babysitter whenever they wanted one so on the day of Joe Miller's hearing, Rose went to give Alec some moral support and hoping Ellie would be there.  They stood downstairs waiting for her but Ellie was running late.

"She'll be here," Rose was telling him as they walked up the stairs, Alec sending yet another text to Daisy to see how their now three month old baby was.  Rose smiled.  "Leave her be Alec, she's looked after Shareen before."

Alec looked guilty and put his phone away, Rose taking his arm.  "She wants him locked up as much as anyone," she whispered to him as they followed Maggie and Olly inside.  They had just sat down, Alec saving a seat for Ellie when she walked in and he called her over.

"How's Devon?" he asked.

"Awful.  How's the baby, I got your message."

Alec got his phone out and showed her the picture on the lock screen.

"Aw, she's gorgeous, congratulations.  How are you Rose?" she leaned across to ask, just as the judge came in.  

Then Joe Miller was led in, him looking around and Ellie telling him not to look at her.  Everyone erupted as Joe stood and pleaded not guilty, forcing the judge to order him to be remanded, pending trial.
Chapter 33
The judge was calling for order, reminding Rose of when they'd been in Sandbrook.

"Mr Miller, it seems your own council were not expecting that plea you just entered," he told Joe as his young council stood up.  "Would you please repeat your plea?"

"Not guilty your honour," Joe repeated, Alec putting his arm around Rose and Rose reaching for Ellie's hand.

"Very well, you will be remanded back into custody to await a trial date Mr Miller, the court is dismissed," the judge replied, looking annoyed and Rose thinking Joe was wasting his time.

Ellie got up and rushed out, Rose following her but Beth reached her first and tried to grab Ellie's arm.

"Get off her," Rose defended her friend.

"What's it got to do with you?  You come here with your then boyfriend and take her house," Beth spat, pointing to Ellie.

"Leave it Rose," Alec told her when he caught up.  "Beth, he won't get off that easily, we have solid evidence."

"Says you who let two other killers walk free not that long ago," Beth hissed at him, Mark trying to calm her down.

"He's right Beth, this isn't helping.  You'd best take your wife and friend home, detective inspector, Beth's just upset."

"Aren't we all?" Rose spoke up, looking around as everyone stared at the small group and Mark trying to hold his friend Nigel back, whom both Rose and Alec disliked intensely after he'd told Beth where they were living.

"They have no right to be living where they are," Beth reminded her husband.

"Who are you to say where we can live?" Rose wanted to know.  "You'd best calm down, do ya want to have that baby here?"

"Don't you go telling me what to do, just because you had yours.  Sure he's the father?" Beth pointed to Alec.  "I know you were pregnant when you came here with him but there's no actual proof."

"That's enough Beth, yes, the baby is mine now you'd best leave unless you want to find yourself in front of the judge for slander?" Alec asked her, his patience wearing thin, not that now Joe Miller had pleaded innocent he had much left anyway.

"I felt sorry for you," Rose told Beth.  "We came to this town and my heart broke for you when your son was killed but it's made you bitter.  Let's go home Alec.  Ellie, are you okay?"

Ellie just nodded and went towards the ladies room, Alec nodding for Rose to go after her.

"That was completely uncalled for Beth," Alec told her.  "Rose is right, we needed a place to rent, what business is it of yours where we choose?  We needed a large house because my eldest daughter came to live with us and Rose's mother likes to visit her new baby granddaughter.  As for two other killers walking free, they were convicted, they wormed their way out of it using fancy defence tactics but they'll slip up one day and they'll be back inside, trust me."

Rose had caught up with Ellie, who was looking in the mirror.

"You didn't have to stick up for me Rose," she told her friend.

"That's what friends are for Ellie.  We'll get through this.  Want to come and see the baby?"

"So Alec's other daughter lives with you?" Ellie asked, grabbing a paper towel.

"Yeah, for a while now, she's looking after Shareen.  We called her that after my friend who I lost contact with.  Beth's not the only one who lost friends because of a court case, me and the other Shareen had known each other forever then one visit to her ruined everything.  That night I witnessed what went on about those two girls changed both my life and Alec's and it got Shareen so scared she shut herself off.  Now I'm hiding because one of the suspects threatened me Ellie.  Alec had to shield me from the press on the way in."

"I'm sorry Rose, thanks for sticking up for me but it's not your fight," Ellie told her.

"Ellie, you're not alone in this, Alec and I will be there for you.  We just have to convince everyone we want Joe locking up as much as they do.  Alec will be so mad Beth brought his old case up now.  Come back and meet the girls, yeah?" Rose smiled.

Alec was pacing up and down, everyone else had gone downstairs and their barrister was talking to them, Alec thinking they must be debating who should represent them at the trial.  He just hoped it wasn't Jocelyn Knight, who to him hadn't done a good enough job after the Ashworths got off so easily.

He still didn't get how they had both got off after the defence must have persuaded the judge that Rose's testimony hadn't been solid enough but this time, they had Joe Miller and the man knew it but he hoped the man wouldn't hold a grudge against his wife for her losing her temper and hitting him, something he'd not even told Rose about.

Rose and Ellie emerged from the ladies room and Alec thought it would be wise to follow the Latimers out and dodge the cameras, making Ellie smile.

"Got something against the press?" Ellie asked as they tried to sneak past where the reporters were following Beth and Mark, who was trying to hide Chloe.

"You could say that," Alec replied.  "Rose is not supposed to get in the papers after Sandbrook, I told you about it."

Ellie followed them back to Broadchurch, since she'd expected to be held up in court anyway and she was soon making a fuss over the three month old baby, who was awake when they got home.  Alec went to make some tea while Ellie fussed over baby Shareen.

"Does this bring back memories?" Rose asked her friend as Daisy had gone to help her dad.

"Yeah, when I brought Fred home, sorry.  How could he have done that to Danny?  It makes no sense, he never showed any tendencies for that sort of thing.  I'm seeing a counsellor, over in Exeter, I've got an appointment later, she'll have her work cut out today.  Rose, why did Beth say those things?"

"She got mad we'd moved in here, she came over the day we moved in, their friend Nigel saw Alec unloading the van," Rose told her as Ellie handed the baby back when Daisy came back in.

"So what happened in court?" Daisy asked.  "Dad won't talk about it."

"He pleaded innocent.  This is Ellie, it's her husband that's gonna be on trial," Rose told her stepdaughter.

"Sorry, I didn't realise.  He won't get off will he?" Daisy wanted to know.

Rose looked at Alec as he set the tray down.

"No, he's not getting off, we have too much evidence," he replied, trying to get Rose to hand his new daughter over.

Rose smiled and let him take her, since the baby was yawning.

"We thought that last time when you had me as a witness," Rose replied.

"Maybe you'll do better without witnesses?" Ellie asked.

"Yeah, maybe?  Daisy love, you're gonna hear a few things, about what went on this morning so Alec, tell her."

"That wasn't very nice of her," Daisy told them when Alec explained what Beth had said about him being baby Shareen's father.

"She was just upset," Ellie tried to tell them.

"That was no excuse to get personal," Alec replied as Rose passed his drink.

"If you put her down Alec she won't disappear," Rose smiled.

Alec just raised his eyebrows, as he did when he knew his wife was right.

"I just hope we don't get Jocelyn Knight as the prosecution," he replied, playing with the baby's fingers.

"I know that name, she used to live in the town.  Did you get her in Sandbrook?" Ellie asked.

"Yeah, she was the one who got the judge to agree to keep my name out of it but then, she let the defence walk all over me when I was in the witness box," Rose told her.

"Yes love but then she let the two of them walk free," Alec reminded her.  "It wasn't us that got them off, it was her."

"Well I don't know if she came back or not," Ellie told them, eyeing the baby and seeing how possessive her ex boss was.  "I'm sorry Beth said those things to you, she was never like that before."

"Don't apologise for her, she was angry but there was no need to get personal," Alec replied.

Ellie went off to her appointment and Alec suggested they all went for a walk down to the harbour and get some late lunch, him and Daisy arguing who was going to push the stroller, which amused Rose.

"Take it in turns you two," she laughed as Alec placed the baby in the stroller and Daisy was trying to grab the handles.

After a nice afternoon out, everything was going to change in a very short while as a few mornings later, Alec got a call from the local vicar to say the new defence team had arrived to dig up Danny's grave just as Alec was leaving for work, since he didn't really need the time off.  It all went downhill after that, Alec learning it was indeed Jocelyn Knight who had taken the case and they'd not been too happy at meeting again when she called for Alec and Ellie to see her.

Ellie looked at the two of them when Jocelyn invited them in.

"Oh, you've already met?" Ellie grinned.  "When did you come back?" she asked Jocelyn.

"Does it matter?" the barrister asked.

"Did you follow me here?" Alec wanted to know as she told them to sit down.

"What makes you think that?  I've been back a while, not because of you and your wife.  Yes, I know you got married and you have a baby.  She must have been pregnant back in Sandbrook, during the trial?"

"Why did you ask us here?" Alec wanted to know.

"I think DS Miller knows the answer to that," Ms Knight replied.

When they all were informed they had to attend the trial, Daisy couldn't get time off so Rose had to be content sitting outside the courtroom, just to give Alec some support while he waited to be called.

"This is all we need," Alec told her as he was holding the baby.  "I hope the news hasn't reached France that I'm here."

"It might be already too late Alec, they'll know you led the investigation," Rose replied.

"Yes but they don't actually know you are with me," he told her.

"Who are we trying to fool Alec?  They knew we were together, they're just taunting us.  Now all this is about to kick off, they'll know we're still here but why didn't they come after me before?"

"Don't say that love, you know why I brought you here and they still don't know your name."

"It's no good Alec, I'm with you, they don't need to know my name, do they?"

"Nothing is going to happen love, I promise.  I'll know if they come back, I have someone watching for them, I was not going to leave it to chance."

Rose just hoped they would stay where they were.  Alec was finally called, Ellie going to sit with her as she'd not been sure about being with them.

"Why didn't you join us earlier, instead of being on your own when your sister went in?"

"I thought you'd have things to talk about.  I could have watched the baby while you went in," Ellie reminded her.

"He doesn't want me in just in case the defence recognises me and drags me into it.  It's bad enough we know the prosecution.  If Beth had been talking to me, I'd have warned her to get someone else.  She let me down Ellie and she let Pippa's and Lisa's mothers down."

"Not their fathers?" Ellie asked, watching the now sleeping baby, well now Alec had put her in the stroller.

"Ellie, didn't you know Alec thought it was Pippa's father who helped Lee Ashworth that night?" Rose asked quietly.  Ellie looked at her.  "I saw him clearly but he claimed he was checking on the girls then went back to the wedding but he denied he came back with a van and helped Lee carry something out.  Ellie, we think they were carrying Lisa out but we could never prove it."

Ellie's mouth was open in disbelief.  "Rose, you can't talk about it here love.  I'll come back with you and I want to know everything, he never talked about it."

"He couldn't Ellie, he was trying to keep me safe after Claire threatened me.  I had the baby to think about, I'd only just found out.  I hope Alec's not getting pulled apart in there?  He let me in for the hearing but he doesn't want to risk me being in there now."

"That's understandable Rose, he's protecting you and the baby.  Does he ever put her down?" Ellie smiled.

"Not much, when he gets home me and Daisy give up.  He only puts her down to eat and I swear he'd eat one-handed if I let him.  When do ya think you'll get called?"

"That's anyone's guess," Ellie replied.  "Would the Ashworths be so stupid to come after you now you're married?"

"Alec seems to think so but he won't let his guard down where his family is concerned.  We have Daisy to think about as well."

"It's nice you both get on.  Me and Lucy didn't used to get on so well until all this.  It's changed a lot of people, some for the worse."

"Yeah, I experienced some of it," Rose reminded her, smiling at her daughter letting out a funny noise.  "Beth must be almost due now, surely?"

"Yeah, it looks like it, maybe it will change her back?"

"How did ya get on?" Rose asked Alec as he came to join them.

"I can't say until Ellie's been called love.  Did Shareen wake up?"

"Just to be fed, you missed it," Rose smiled.

"Blame those two barristers, I swear they know each other and are trying to get the better of each other," Alec replied.

"Alec, Ellie wants to hear what I saw that night.  What do ya think?" Rose asked him as Ellie had gone off for drinks and sandwiches.

"It's up to you love," he told her as he was dying for the baby to wake up again.

"Maybe she can help Alec?  A new prospective on the case?  It can't do any harm."

"If you want her to love?  We gave up on Ricky, maybe she can trip him up?"

When they all got back, Daisy had taken her baby sister into the other room and Alec explained how the Ashworths had got off so easily.

"So that woman prosecuting let the other defence get their own way?" Ellie asked him.

"She was all for keeping Rose's name out and banning reporters but the minute it was all over, she'd given the defence the chance to get Claire's conviction overturned, then worked on her husband getting off.  If we could get Ricky Gillespie to admit he killed his niece and helped Lee Ashworth carry her out, we can take it back to court.  That and what Rose told the court originally should be enough to lock all three of them up for good."

"You don't want much do you?" Ellie grinned.  "Okay, I'm in, tell me more, it was all kept secret before."

"That's because I was being protected but after it was over, if I hadn't been with Alec, they'd have just left me to fend for myself.  It seems they forget you once you've served your purpose," Rose told her.  "There's no such thing as witness protection."

Alec took her hand.  "Yes there is, even though it's unofficial and I would not do it for anyone else."

"You two are so soft," Ellie laughed.  "So go on then, how did you get together, if Rose was a witness?"

"You tell her love, you're better at it than I am," Alec told Rose.

"Well you never told me what made you go after me," Rose teased him.  "Was it as I was leaving the first time and you told me your divorce was almost through?"

Ellie was dying to laugh.  "You never?"

"Yeah, he did Ellie.  A few weeks later, he came up to London and he was waiting for me outside where I worked.  That was after he kept finding excuses to call me at work."

"Yes, it worked did it not?  Then the prosecution got to know, as did my boss and we had to stay apart for a while, since the case was being built," Alec told Ellie.

"We sneaked off at Christmas," Rose smiled.  "That's when we got engaged, then I got pregnant."

"Oh, so when Claire Ashworth threatened you, she'd seen you two together in court and maybe she noticed you were pregnant?" Ellie asked them.

Alec sat up.  "What?  How would she know that?" he asked Ellie.

"See, you were too close to it," Ellie replied.  "The defence team must have found out, you mentioned it Alec, when we worked together that the defence accused the pair of you of having an affair and Rose spoke out, that it can't be an affair if neither of the persons are married.  She must have been taking notice and realised you were involved.  It doesn't take much working out."

Alec wished his old DS wasn't so smart.  Ellie hadn't finished though.  "Did anyone ever check if Claire was pregnant?"

Rose and Alec looked at each other.

"Not that I know of, it never came up," Alec admitted, wishing he could get back to his baby daughter and not go through the case yet again.

"Alec, what Ellie says makes sense.  What if she lost it or got rid of it while Lee was in custody?" Rose asked him.

"You think that was the case?" Alec asked her, ignoring Ellie.

"Think about it, it would explain a lot," Rose told him.

"Don't mind me," Ellie reminded them.

"I'll call Tess, ask her if the subject ever came up.  Rose, that night Claire turned up the TV volume for an hour, do you think she may have gone to a clinic?" Alec asked her.

"What about Claire turning up the TV volume?" Ellie wanted to know, since they'd not told her Claire had disappeared for a while, leaving Cate to think she was just trying to annoy her.

"Cate, Pippa's mother thought Claire was trying to annoy her by turning up the TV, the night the evidence got stolen from Tess's car," Alec explained.  "We could never prove it, the pendant as you know was never found and we searched her and the house several times.  Would she have got seen to in an hour though?"

"It depends how far on she was, if she'd just found out, it wouldn't take long but it would have been very emotional," Ellie told him.  "I've done sexual offences training, I've never had to take anyone though, thankfully.  If she got rid of it, why?"

"Maybe she really did know Lee killed Pippa and didn't want him to be a father?" Rose suggested.

"Rose, of course she knew Lee killed Pippa love," Alec reminded her.

"Maybe she suggested it but it didn’t mean she thought he'd actually do it," Rose replied.

"Hang on.  So Pippa's father killed Lisa, maybe in a fit of temper, he went to get his van, they carried Lisa out and he drove off?" Ellie asked, just to make certain.  "Rose, think back to that night.  Are you sure it was him who came back?"

"As sure as she could be," Alec replied for her.  "He deliberately had his back turned, even when he came back but Rose saw Claire get into the van and go off somewhere with him, then when they got back, whoever it was gave her a key for the Gillespie's house.

"Who else could have given her a key?  So why wasn't Rose believed?" Ellie asked.

"Because she admitted she and her friend were drinking that night, even Tess dismissed her statement for months and hid it from me," Alec told her.

"Why would she do that?" Ellie wanted to know.

"She was getting back at me, we were just getting divorced and she was trying to take all the credit if Rose's statement checked out but at the word 'drink,' she wrote it off."

"So how did you get to know about Rose?"

"I got Tess to admit she'd taken statements she hid from me in an old notebook so I contacted Rose," Alec told her.

"So Tess wasted all that time hiding a witness?  Unbelievable," Ellie replied.  "Just to get back at you?"

Alec nodded, he was spending too much time away from the baby and Rose could see he was itching to go take her from his eldest daughter.

"So what else did Tess hide?" Ellie asked him.

"Plenty," Alec just replied.

Chapter 34
"So, you want my opinion then?" Ellie asked him.

"The question is, do you want to get involved?" Alec replied.

"Is Rose still in danger?" Ellie wanted to know.

"I believe if they ever come back, they will look for her and I've been in the news too much lately.  They will probably start with me even if they never realised we were involved back then," Alec told her, putting his arm around Rose.

"Claire had to know," Rose agreed.  "Even if she never got the chance at first to tell her husband, she'll have told him by now, unless she wants me to herself?"

"Don't say that love," Alec disagreed.

"If she realised in the courtroom that I was pregnant and she got rid of hers, she may never have told Lee about it and she's been bottling it all up.  Maybe she didn't know how far on I was but she'll have worked it out by now."

"Rose is right," Ellie had to agree.  "We don't want her to be right though.  It's likely Claire will come back sooner or later to get her revenge."

"Great, just what I needed to hear," Rose tried to smile.

"Sorry love, Ellie may be right but I don't think she'd go for the baby though, not if she lost one but we don't know for sure that she did."

"Can't we contact clinics in the Sandbrook area and see if they treated Claire?" Ellie suggested.

"Only if I get Tess involved, officially and so far, I doubt she'll re-open the case since they both got off," Alec replied.  "You know as well as I do that compelling new evidence has to be produced and even if she agrees, there's not a lot to go on.  It's only a guess that's what made Claire threaten Rose, we don't know for sure.  Say if she did go to the clinic that evening?  Then who broke into Tess's car and stole the pendant?"

"Ricky Gillespie?" Rose suggested.

Alec turned to her.  

"We never thought of that," Rose continued

"You have to consider it," Ellie agreed.  "What if the baby wasn't Lee's?"

Alec took his arm from around Rose and buried his head in his hands, wishing he'd never started this, it was never going to go away.  Ellie continued.

"You wanted a fresh look at it," she reminded him.

"She's right Alec," Rose agreed.  "We don't know anything about them before that night, except the few things the other Shareen told me."

"Well I don't know about them, tell me," Ellie replied.

"I'll leave you two to discuss it," Alec told them, getting up, Rose knowing he wanted to go to the baby more than anything else.

Ellie had to laugh when he closed the door behind him.

"He's got it bad," Ellie laughed.

"Tell me about it, it's like he gets withdrawal symptoms if he's away from her for too long, why do ya think he's in a hurry to leave the court?  So, how are you getting on in Devon?"

"I'm not on holiday there Rose," Ellie reminded her.  "So, go on then, what did your friend tell you about her neighbours?  You might have missed something out."

"I told Alec everything but I bet Shareen didn't tell me a lot.  I think she was scared before she disappeared but one thing I noticed, first she was keen to take me to meet Lee and Claire, then it was like she changed her mind because when we were warned not to go out, she never bothered.  I mean, if she was so keen she'd have laughed it off and dragged me over."

"Maybe she was more scared of her mother's boyfriend?   You knew nothing about him Rose.  If he made them move away, what was he up to?  I bet it was more than not wanting Shareen to get involved when the police were looking for witnesses," Ellie told her.  "Do you know if Tess interviewed him?"

"I think Alec said Ken didn't say much because he'd just got back that morning, he left around the same time as me and Shareen but he was going in the opposite direction.  Then I think when Tess went back, Shareen was on her own but didn't tell Tess that much more but I don't know what she was asked.  Maybe it was the wrong questions, Tess wouldn't have known at that stage how complicated it was between the Gillespies and the Ashworths."

"So Tess didn't follow up on them either?  Seems like she was really out to get Alec back for something, maybe more than the fact they were on the verge of divorce.  So, tell me what your friend told you."

As Rose recalled what her friend had said about her neighbours, Alec had sat in the rocking chair he'd bought for them to sit and rock the baby in as Daisy had just fed her.

"How's it going in there Dad?" Daisy smiled, sitting opposite.

Alec had moved the large dining table to the window to make more room for a bit of the furniture they'd brought with them.

"Slowly.  Miller wants details," he grinned as the baby was dozing off and was trying to grip his finger.

Daisy smiled and picked up her phone to take a picture.

"I never thought I'd have a baby sister, when you and mum were arguing all the time," she admitted.

"Neither did I but that was before I met Rose.  You took it all well, considering," he replied, giving a smile for the camera and trying to turn his baby daughter, who didn't want to oblige.

"You can't blame me Dad.  Anyway, at least I know why you sent me shopping with mum on my birthday," Daisy smiled.  "What would have happened if Rose had sent you home?"

"I wouldn't be sat here with your baby sister, would I?" he grinned.  "Daisy, you know there might be some trouble, now I'm back in the news again?"

"Yes, I know we can't leave Rose alone, especially with the baby.  I know that Claire's a nutter, mum used to say she never knew which version of her story she believed.  You were right to be mad with mum though, for hiding Rose from you.  Maybe she thought she was saving the police time by discarding her statement?"

"That was not her call," Alec replied as he stopped rocking now baby Shareen had fallen asleep.

"Rose is right, you never want to put her down," Daisy smiled as he stared at the tiny miracle that was his new daughter.  "I was thinking, when Shareen gets older, maybe I should start called Rose 'Mum' in front of her.  Do you think she'd mind?  I wouldn't refer to her as it to others, just she's my stepmum  but Shareen will get confused."

"I'm sure it would make Rose very happy if you were to do so," Alec replied.  "She never hesitated when you asked about living with us.  I still can't decide if Rose planned to have the baby or it was an accident, she never said anything.  She knows whatever it was, I couldn't have been happier.  I just wish things had got better and we could have stayed where we were, with a bigger house though."

"Rose likes it here, we go for lots of walks around the harbour, I bet she wouldn't move back," Daisy told him.  

"Well when you go out again with her, you watch out for a woman with brown hair and a Welsh accent.  If you hear someone talking, tell Rose right away if she doesn't notice.  I doubt Claire will try anything in public but she may follow and if you both suspect someone is, you call the emergency number, even if Rose doesn't recognise the person, Claire may get someone else to do the following."

"I've learnt enough from you and mum about staying safe," Daisy replied.

"I know but still be careful, at least until I can find out if they are both still over in France."

"Want me to take her?" Daisy offered.

"I'm fine, I'm giving Rose the chance to tell DS Miller what happened that night, Rose may still have forgotten to tell me something," he replied, even though his arm was aching but he'd never say anything, it could be dropping off and he wouldn't give up the little bundle he was holding.

Daisy thought she may as well give up asking, no-one got a look in when he was around, not even her new grandma Jackie, who was almost as bad once she took possession of her new granddaughter, making Daisy wish she was a baby again, she didn't remember being treated like her baby sister.  There was no question of jealousy though, Alec had told her half of it was because he was working and the other that she apparently had cried every time he took her – unlike Shareen.

As Rose was telling Ellie about what her friend had said about Lee and Claire, well mostly Lee, Ellie was taking it in.

"So you think the couple encouraged the three girls, well not that I'm classing your friend as a girl but you know what I mean?  Was your friend one for having a lot of boyfriends?" Ellie asked her.

"Not really, we both knew the same blokes, then after she moved away, well it must have been a novelty and maybe she got led on by Lisa?  I wish I'd got to talk to her that day but when we saw her in the street, we had no reason to know what was gonna happen," Rose replied.

"Of course you didn't," Ellie told her.  "How could you possibly know but Shareen must have suspected what was happening?"

"Maybe she got in too deep?" Rose suggested.  "Maybe it was more than she had bargained for and wanting me to go over, she wanted to know what I thought."

"Think yourself lucky you never went over.  Goodness knows what would have happened, the four of you there, if Pippa was indeed there at that time?  So if Claire took the key and went in the other house, there must have been a way around the back, she got Lee to let her in through the patio door?" Ellie asked.  "The Gillespies say the door was open when they returned and assumed the girls had gone out.  Do you know if they checked next door before calling the police?"

"You'd have to ask Alec that.  Still, if they didn't, that means at least Ricky knew for certain they weren't there and he could have only known if what I saw was the girls being taken out."

"You two are convinced it was Lisa who was wrapped up and put in the van, aren't you?" Ellie asked.

"It's become more obvious but I couldn't stand up in court and swear it, could I?  I'd give anything not to have seen what happened that night Ellie, if I'd just gone to bed?"

"They would never have got that far without you Rose.  Okay, maybe they would have suspected but once they lost the only evidence they had?  Those two would have walked, if they'd even arrested Claire.  It seems a very complex situation to me.  What you said though, about it being Ricky who stole the pendant, why would he?  How did he know about it?" Ellie wondered.

"Claire must have told him the police were onto Lee's car?" Rose suggested.  "If she had an appointment at the clinic and she couldn't get it back, she could have called Ricky?"

"We'd best wait until Alec comes back, if it's not been suggested before.  So when Lee was about to walk, Alec got desperate and Tess confessed about your statement?" Ellie asked her.

"Yeah, it was a bit of a shock after all that time when Alec contacted me.  Trust me Ellie, I wanted to keep on at the police but who would listen to me?  I didn't know why at first but when Alec told me, I was fuming."

"So are you going to admit how you got together?" Ellie was dying to know.

"I thought he'd told you?" Rose smiled.

"Not all of it.  He admitted he took a gamble going to see you that weekend, did he actually tell you on your first visit to Sandbrook that he was getting divorced?" Ellie grinned.

"Something like that.  He asked me to come down once and Daisy turned up just before he was setting off.  He had to convince her he was taking me to a hotel, I'd gone down to meet with the judge and the prosecution, though I didn't know the defence would be there," Rose replied.

"I bet Daisy got a shock when she found out?" Ellie joked.

"Alec told me he was gonna find a way, we got warned to stay away from each other, that's why we sneaked off that Christmas.  It was all for nothing though, we got accused anyway by the defence.  I stood in the witness box and denied it, I didn't look at it as being an affair, Alec didn't do anything until he was sure his divorce was going through, that's not an affair, not in my book."

"Rose, you don't have to justify it to me, I agree with you.  Once the defence brought that up, they thought you'd admit it," Ellie told her.

"Tess accused him as well, she wasn't all that nice to me when I first started going down there.  Never mind, it's done with now.  I should go rescue Daisy, Alec will be in the rocking chair but Daisy might have gone to her room, if he's fallen asleep with the baby," Rose smiled.

"He does that a lot?" Ellie asked.

"Often enough.  Ellie, have you thought about moving back to Broadchurch?"

"No, not yet.  I need to talk to Alec, well you as well.  I want to know how he feels about buying the house."

"Oh.  Well we didn't really expect to rent this house forever Ellie.  We always thought you may want to come back at some point."

"I can't Rose, there are too many memories and I know Tom will be against it," Ellie replied.

"I'm sorry Tom's not talking to you, why don't you ask Alec to go see him?" Rose suggested.

"Let's see what happens at the trial first.  It must be a bit of a strain, you having to wait outside?" Ellie asked.

"He won't let me go in Ellie, I already told ya, especially since it's the same prosecution.  He said she wasn't happy to see him."

"Yeah, when we got called to see her, they were a bit off with each other," Ellie recalled.

"We thought she was on my side Ellie, then when it was over, I was just left to fend for myself.  What if Alec hadn't offered to help me?"

"Well he did, look where it led you?" Ellie smiled.  "You have a beautiful baby and a home and Alec got Daisy back.  No-one could ask for more than that."

"Yeah.  Let's go rescue Shareen."

"That was sweet of you to name your baby after your friend Rose," Ellie told her as they got up.

"I hope I'll see her again some day Ellie, that she'll come out of hiding."

"Rose, you have to consider that it wasn't her choice.  You knew nothing about the man she was living with, did you?"

"Yeah but Ellie, she was old enough to make her own mind up," Rose replied.

"You chose to stay at home," Ellie reminded her.

"You try renting a place of your own in London," Rose smiled as she picked up the empty mugs.  "I can't understand how Shareen never got a steady job, she was always more clever at school than I was.  It was strange though how Shareen and her mum just left suddenly.  The next thing I knew, she'd called me to tell me where they'd gone but they seemed just like an ordinary family."

"Maybe so but like I said, you know nothing about that man they were with.  Did the police not follow up on him?" Ellie asked.

"Let's go ask Alec?" Rose suggested.

"Like you'll get anything out of him," Ellie smiled as they went into the other room to see Daisy playing on her phone and Alec holding the baby, his eyes closed.  "Aw, never thought I'd see him like that."

Daisy took her earphones out and smiled at Rose as she nodded to her dad.

"I'm not asleep," Alec spoke softly, opening his eyes.

"Let me put her in the crib," Rose suggested.

"Still using that?" Ellie smiled.

"For now, she'll soon grow out of it, not that she goes in it much, when you're around Alec," Rose replied, taking the baby as Alec loosened his grip.

Ellie felt like grabbing baby Shareen while she had the chance but then saw her chance to ask Alec what she'd tried to ask Rose.

"Before I go, I was saying to Rose, what if Claire did get rid of a baby, just not her husband's?" she asked when Daisy had gone off.  "What if that night the evidence was stolen, Claire did go to the clinic but called Ricky to see where the police were and he followed Tess?"

"Miller," Alec started to say, making Rose smile.  "I can't do anything, I'm no longer on the case and getting it re-opened on theories is going to take some doing."

"Well you wanted some fresh ideas," Ellie reminded him.

"Sorry, it was all my fault," Rose told her.  "It's just so annoying they all got away and I still don't know if any of them will come after me."

Alec got up and put his arm around her.

"If we were sure, I'd call Tess but what do I say?  That we've all been theorising what could have happened?"

"Ellie was asking if anyone followed up on Ken?  When you found out about Tess hiding my statement, was she hiding theirs as well?"

"Yes, I hate to think what else she'd been hiding from me, well besides her affair.  I'm sorry love, I'll try to talk to Tess but she may not go for it."

"Yeah, knowing her," Rose sighed.

"Maybe you'd best just leave it then?" Ellie suggested.  "The only way you'll find out the truth is to get them to confess and since they got off, you're hardly likely to get it from them.  You went after Ricky I expect?"

"Yes, he talked his way out of it, as obviously the other two did," Alec told her.

"Alec, if you could get Cate to swear Ricky wasn't with her all night, that he went back later than he said he did?" Rose suggested.

"He admitted he'd been back?" Ellie asked him.

"Not at first but Cate did say he was missing at some point.  Then he only admitted he'd been to check on the girls, not that he went back with a van.  He claimed a lot of his employees had access to it.  Go see your boys Miller."

Rose shook her head, after all they'd been through, he still only occasionally called her Ellie.  Rose walked her to the door.

"Thanks for trying Ellie."

"I'm sorry but maybe it's too late now, no matter how much you think about it?" she asked

"Yeah, all I can do is wait and see if they find me, Alec won't leave me on my own, he insists someone is with me.  I think I'd just glad to be on my own for once."

"I'm sure if he thought it was safe, he'd let you but I can understand his concern Rose."

"Give Fred a big hug from me," Rose smiled.

Alec was stood in the dining room doorway.

"It wasn't such a good idea to get her involved love," he told her as he put his arms around her and kissed her neck.

"I know.  Alec, I just wish I knew for sure they weren't coming back."

"I heard what you said, about being on your own.  You only have to say and I could drop you off somewhere, as long as it's like a spa or something.  Why don't you book one for yourself, Daisy can watch Shareen."

"Alec, I think we should stop leaving Daisy on her own with the baby," Rose replied.

"We don't leave her that often love but why do you say that?"

"If Claire lost a baby, she could still be jealous because I got her husband arrested.  The defence in the case would have kept her informed Alec, even though no details were given but in the court, she faced me."

"Stop worrying love, have you ever considered she was playing with you?"

"What?  You mean she was just trying to scare me, make me think she'd come after me?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I have started thinking.  Rose, I was in the news over Danny's murder, now the court case, they will have been keeping up with it even in France.  Trust me, they would have been back by now."

"I don't think I believe it Alec.  So I'm in no danger?"

"I don't think so now I think about it but I still don't want you going out on your own entirely but I think we can relax a bit.  I think they got off and it was enough and since neither of them liked me for arresting them and you helped convict them, they may see it as we deserve each other," Alec smiled, going for a kiss.

They were interrupted by Alec's phone, Rose hoping it wouldn't wake the baby.

"It's Tess," Alec mouthed as he answered.  "What do you want Tess?"

"Nice to speak to you too Alec.  How's your court case going?"

"I'm sure you never called to ask about that," Alec replied.

"No.  How soon can you and Rose get up here?" Tess asked him.

"We're in the middle of a court case Tess, why?" he replied.

"Because I have some news for you.  I had a call from Cate earlier, she was going through the dresser drawers, guess what she found?"

"Ricky had the pendant?" Alec snapped as he listened, Rose thinking if that wouldn't wake the baby, nothing would.  "Rose was right then, she just said what if Claire was pregnant, went to have it terminated and she told Ricky that we were onto Lee's car.  Did you ask her where the car went?" he asked Tess.

"No, it was Jenkins, I knew it was a mistake," Tess replied.  "She must have been keeping an appointment at the clinic and sent Ricky then?  Why did she get him involved?"

"You'd best ask him but do you have enough to charge him?" Alec wanted to know.

"Oh yes, I do.  I think he'll finally tell us what he's been hiding all this time."

"Rose thought that Claire being pregnant, it wasn't Lee's.  Remember Ricky saying about Claire?" he asked Tess.

"Well we know she had a temper, she didn't like being woken up that morning it all started," Tess replied.

"Yes, I know that Tess.  Let me know what he tells you."

It was the last day of evidence over at Wessex Crown Court.  The defence had tried to discredit everyone except who they had called and Alec was glad this time he'd not been accused of having an affair, even more so it hadn't supposedly been with Miller but he had a solid alibi for every night, his now wife.  The jury were sent to deliberate but it became apparent they were divided and they were sent home.  Alec had been sat with Rose and the baby then had been called back in.  They were then on their way home when Alec answered the hands-free device.

"Tess, any news?" he asked, glancing in the mirror as baby Shareen was gurgling and trying to get her foot in her mouth, making him smile.

"We need Rose back to give evidence, the current prosecution thinks we have a strong case, with what we had before.  Lee and Claire are being escorted back from France as we speak," she told him.  "Can you pull over, I can tell you're driving."

Alec saw a sign for a lay-by and pulled over a few hundred yards further down.

"Go ahead," he told Tess.

"I'm sorry but Ricky was advised by his solicitor if he knew about Lisa to tell us.  You were right, Rose did see her being carried out that night, he's been charged, he told us where he'd taken her though he claimed it was an accident but it was her, there had been a funeral earlier, the grave wasn't hard to open up and leave her there.  I'm expecting Claire and Lee to start talking, Ricky told us their parts in it."

"Thanks for telling us Tess.  We'll talk later, someone wants feeding soon and Rose used the other bottle earlier," Alec replied as he glanced back, the baby wide awake.

"Will you be bringing Daisy with you?  I miss her," Tess asked.

"I'm sure she will get away with taking a few study days."

They got home and Alec broke the news to Daisy, that the missing girl had been found.

"How did Rose take it?" Daisy asked him.

"She was upset, naturally since she feels she could have maybe stopped it, if she and her friend had gone over there that night but I told her she was lucky she didn't go," Alec replied.  "She's hoping now the news has broken, her friend may contact her."

Daisy went to put her arms around him.  "I hope so too Dad."

The next day, since the jury couldn't decide, the judge directed them to make a majority decision, which resulted in Joe Miller being released and though Rose felt sorry for Ellie, they had to pack for their trip to Sandbrook for Rose to go over her statement again.  Tess had called back to say Claire and Lee had been given up by Ricky and they were being questioned.

"I hope we can put them behind bars for good this time," Rose told Alec when they got to bed.

"So do I love but if you'd not been there that night, we may never have discovered the truth and you would never have been contacted, though it was somewhat delayed," he smiled as he hovered over her.

"Hey, have you forgotten something?" Rose giggled as he went to lower her underwear.  "You know I have to get back on something so you had better not have."

"Ah but love, now would be a good time to start planning on another would it not?  We don't want too big a gap between them."

"What do you mean by them?" Rose wanted to know.

"Come here and I'll enlighten you."

Rose tried not to giggle too loudly as he whispered in her ear that it may take them some time.

The End!