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Miss Broadchurch

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In the aftermath of the murder investigation, the Broadchurch town council hastily organize a beauty pageant to bring the visitors back.  Rose Tyler and her mother are taking a cheap late break and Rose decides to enter.  Alec Hardy is put in charge of overseeing the event but doesn't know he's part of the prize - he has to dine with the winner and present the £500 prize money.

Chapter 1
Rose had got a surprise when the personnel officer called her into the general office, everyone having looked at her when she had been summoned and speculation was rife.

"What do they want you for Rose?" one of the girls asked her.

Rose shrugged her shoulders and went to see what her fate was.  Had she been singled out for getting rid of if the store was making cutbacks?

"Rose, take a seat," Miss Foster told her, Rose thinking she was creepy to say the least and looked like she was from somewhere far out in space.

"It's come to my attention you've taken no holiday this year, any reason?" Rose was asked.

"Not really, me and my mum can't afford holidays during peak times but we keep saying if anything cheap comes up we may do."

"Well you have two weeks paid holiday to come so take my advice and take at least one week, you know the manager disapproves of paying out anything that is owed?"

"So when should I take them then?" Rose asked as the woman made it clear the interview was over.

"Just give me a date," came the reply as the woman clicked her pen, Rose thinking it was annoying and wondered if it was more than a pen.

Avoiding her workmates, she got home after she had sneaked a holiday brochure from the travel department on her break, one for a famous caravan holiday company and after she'd checked it, found it was quite cheap the first week of October – just three weeks away.

"So watcha think mum?" Rose asked her mother who was turning to the page Rose had folded over for a holiday park in Dorset.

"Rose, why there?  That's where that boy was killed recently.  What about the one near Weymouth?" she suggested.

"Mum, the one in Broadchurch is right on the harbour.  Ya just step out and the beach is a few yards away and besides, the killer's locked up, they did that interview with that detective.  He'd been taken ill, remember?" Rose asked her.

"Yeah, what was he thinking by hiding it?" her mother wanted to know.

"Well he got the person so it has to count for something?  He's probably left town by now anyway.  So shall I ring up and book before those cheap caravans get taken up?"

Alec Hardy wasn't pleased when the leader of the town council had somehow got his phone number and he was waiting for the weekly meeting to break up after he'd been asked to attend.

"So, we propose a beauty contest to be held the first week in October?" the leader was asking.

"Yes but where will the evening session be held?" one member objected.

"I suggest we contact the caravan park manager and see if we can use their entertainment centre for the evening.  I know it's members only but it will give them a boost.  We can issue free tickets and people will buy drinks, it will give them good publicity.   It shouldn't really be cold, it was worse in August."

Alec was thinking this was a waste of time, why had he been asked to attend when his chief had said he was still on staff for emergencies until a start date for him going to the academy to teach new recruits, since her friend ran it and the chief medical officer had cleared him for light duties pending surgery, not that he'd bothered arranging it yet.

"DI Hardy, we've asked you here because we believe you would be ideal to compare the show and hand out the prizes."

"What?" he asked, wishing he'd never come now.

"Well the afternoon event, the holiday park entertainment staff will want to take over the evening.  You could just present the winners afterwards and have a few photos taken for the local paper, the town needs cheering up after what happened, don't you agree?"

Alec was just glad Miller had left town or he'd never hear the end of it.  Reluctantly he agreed, since it was only a matter of standing to the side of the stage that would be hired on the Esplanade or the beach and giving out each contestant's details, hoping that wouldn't include their measurements.

Rose had excitedly booked over the phone and was looking up the place on her mobile and saw the newly added event appear on the local newspaper's social media account, ran by @broadchurchecho and a certain Olly Stevens, who hoped to take the photos at both events, the twelve finalists chosen from the afternoon event to battle it out in the evening.

"Hey Mum, I think I might enter the beauty contest, watcha think?" Rose asked.

"Why not?  There won't be a lot taking part, surely?" her mother asked.  "So what's the prize?"

"Wow, it's five hundred quid, it's worth it.  Don't know what the other prizes are though.  I still might not win."

"Don't say that Rose, you have as much chance as anyone else does.  Find out who's presenting it and get well in," her mother joked.  "Still, it might be that sickly detective if he's got nothing else to do."

Rose was wishing she'd never said that.  So the next week or so, Rose was checking the train times to Dorchester, then they had to get a bus that went all along the coastal road into the town itself but dropped them off a few yards from the caravan park.

Notices were hastily being printed, the local paper had a front page spread of the upcoming event and everyone, apart from Alec was looking forward to it.  It had been arranged with the caravan park manager that entries would be taken before and on the date and not exclusive to young women who were staying there but the deadline was 10am to give them time to make a list and print it out to give to Alec, who had been contacted again to say the stage would be on the beach, which he wished it wasn't but it was to allow more room for visitors, who would hopefully come from nearby towns.

Unknown to Alec though, he had no idea one Rose Tyler would be taking part, as she was packing her swimsuit, hoping it wouldn't be cold and a new dress she got from the 'Reduced' rail that her manager swore hadn't been there before but couldn't actually prove it.

So Rose and her mother were travelling early on the Monday morning, Rose having booked Monday to Friday and the beauty contest was on the Wednesday, Rose being thankful it wasn't on the Friday or she would have missed out.  On the train going down, her mother was planning what they would do the rest of the days, saying she wanted to go to at least Weymouth and Lyme Regis if nowhere else.

"Mum, that's all we will get to go places," Rose was telling her, watching the landscape go by, backwards since they'd got a table seat to themselves.

"Yeah, with you planning something for Wednesday.  So Lyme on Tuesday and Weymouth on Thursday then?"

Rose thought her mother already had it planned.  After getting off the train and going to the bus stand with their two cases and a shoulder bag, they were on the way to Broadchurch, getting on the Exeter bus and her mother wishing they had more time.

They arrived on the harbour just by the amusement arcade and having to pass some food stalls, Rose saying they still had a bit to wait to get the caravan keys but said they'd go try their luck and see if they were there early.  They were as they were handed their entertainment passes and Rose wondered why the beauty event wasn't being held in the swimming pool, since she was handed a leaflet advertising the contest.

"So how do I register for the contest then?" Rose asked the woman.

"You can do it now," was the reply, being handed a clipboard with a list and Rose seeing quite a few names.

"Don't ya want any details?" Rose wanted to know, her mother keen to get settled.

"No, you'll just be asked your name, age and where you're from on the day.  Then you'll be introduced.  The final's being held here later in the evening."

Rose already knew most of that so getting away after adding her name to the list, they wheeled their cases a few rows down and entered the caravan, Jackie giving it a quick inspection and going to claim the double room, which Rose thought was typical and may just sleep in the lounge area.

"I'll go find the camp shop Mum then call and get something to eat at one of those stalls," Rose called out, thinking she'd just hang up her new dress first in the limited space, since she thought the twin bedroom was meant for kids.

"Okay, don't be long and stay out of the amusement arcade," came her mother's reply.

After getting the essentials, she walked back across the road bridge and went to one of the food stalls and while she waited, leaned on the low wall at the side, spying an odd-shaped blue chalet with the door open and what looked like a man in just his shirt sleeves sitting on the step reading something.

"Wish we could have afforded that," Rose thought to herself as the man seemed engrossed in what he was doing to notice someone was staring at him.

Then she wondered if by any chance it was the detective who just caught that boy's killer?  She decided maybe not as her order was called and she picked up the carrier bag of groceries and went back to the caravan.

Alec was sitting outside, a pile of old folders behind him and going over old reports from his last disastrous case, taking no notice someone was sat on the wall staring in his direction.  He knew he should really watch out that the main suspect hadn't got back into the country and found out where he was living.  With the suspect's wife just down the coast but avoiding any contact with him, it was only a matter of time he supposed before Lee Ashworth went looking for her.

He was surprised she'd not heard about the beauty contest and entered it just to annoy him by coming to the town after she'd agreed to minimum contact.

"Seems a nice place," Jackie was telling Rose as they ate, wishing they'd got a caravan with a patio like the one they'd passed finding theirs.

"Yeah, wanna got for a walk later?" Rose suggested.

"As long as we don't go past the police station," Jackie laughed.  "We saw enough of that on TV.  So where's the contest taking place?"

"On the beach I think.  We should walk around the front and on the pier, if we're going out tomorrow?"

As they sat on the sea wall before it got higher, Rose thought she had seen the town's ex detective but dismissed the idea, of course he was going to be around but why would he want to talk to anyone?  Jackie wanted to go back and catch her soaps on TV and start preparing a simple meal Rose had chosen from the limited range and her not so affluent bank account but she still had to check her balance to see if her holiday pay had gone through when they went out tomorrow.

Rose didn't fancy watching her mother's programmes.

"I think I'll take a look around the other side of where we got off the bus.  What time are we going out?" Rose asked as her mother put the TV on.

"When's bingo?  We need to be there when tickets go on sale."

Rose thought that was just typical.  She set off down the roadway and out onto the harbour, turning left and passing where she'd been earlier and without realizing, looked to see if anyone was sat outside the blue chalet again but saw the door was closed.  She got to the end where the pub was by a wall and fancied getting a latte so she ordered and sat at one of the metal tables at the side, just as Alec was walking over the footbridge.

He saw a blonde sitting at one of the tables as he walked over the footbridge and thought while waiting to order some food, would find out if she was on holiday and if she was entering the beauty contest he'd been roped into comparing, though he still didn't know why they'd picked on him.  Maybe it was because they knew he was on limited duties after his boss had initially told him to clear his desk, not that there had been anything to clear.

Rose had just turned around as she put her drink on the table and almost collided with him as he stepped off the bridge.

"Be careful Miss," Alec addressed her as she tried to recover.

"Sorry, I wasn't expecting anyone to be behind me," Rose replied, sitting down before she bumped into him again.

"That's a footbridge, it stands to reason someone may be crossing it," Alec told her.

"Well it only seems to go to that fancy restaurant," Rose tried to argue, beginning to realise who she was talking to.

"It's also used by people who live there.  Forget about it.  Did you spill your drink?"

"No, thankfully.  Sorry, maybe it was my fault, I only arrived a few hours ago," she admitted, thinking why would he be bothered?

Alec decided he should maybe quit while he was ahead so he went off to order but his curiosity got the better of him as he went back to where Rose was sitting playing with her phone and sending a 'wish you were here' to Shareen, who she'd been unable to persuade to go with them.

"So where are you staying?" Alec decided to ask but assumed it would be the caravan park as the pubs seemed a bit pricey.

"Oh, me and my mum have got a caravan.  Sorry, you're that detective, aren't you, from that boy's murder?"

"You have been doing your homework.  I'm sort of retired at the moment, I have something I need to sort out," he admitted.

"I saw that newspaper report, you had something wrong with you," Rose replied, wondering why whatever it was, he'd not got himself fixed.

"Yes, so the news reached to wherever you come from?" Alec wanted to know, wondering where his order had got to and he really must get a taxi to the supermarket.

"Yeah, that would be London," Rose smiled.  "As if ya couldn't tell."

"So are you taking part in the beauty contest?" he asked, popping his head around the corner in case he'd missed the call his food was ready.

"Well I put my name down, don't know about winning it," Rose replied with a grin.

She was only doing it really so her mother wouldn't drag her to another town in the area since they had to depend on the bus company.

Alec was thinking as he went around the corner on hearing his order being called that she would give the other contestants a run for their money.  He had been going back to his chalet to eat but ordered a carton of tea and hoped the blonde hadn't taken off while he wasn't looking – this could be interesting but if he was seen talking to her, he may be accused of favouritism once the contest took place.

Rose had been about to leave when he sat down opposite her.  It occurred to him that he had no say over the judges so what harm would there be?  If she won, all well and good but if not, maybe she would need consoling?

Chapter 2
Rose had been about to get up and leave as Alec sat opposite her again.  She debated if she should make her excuses and leave him to it but if he'd wanted to be on his own, he would have gone to sit somewhere else.

"So you are hopeful of winning then?" Alec wanted to know.

"Honestly?  I suppose it depends how many take part, I'm number twenty two on the list.  Why are you so interested then?"

"Ah, I was asked to introduce the contestants at the afternoon event.  I have no say over the judges though," he added, just to make it clear.

Rose thought that was a relief then, if they were observed talking when she'd just arrived.

"So how did ya manage to get that job then?" Rose smiled across at him.

"I was summoned to the town council, they thought it was a good idea.  I just have to introduce each contestant then in the evening give out the prizes."

He knew it had been a mistake and he should have left town but Daisy was showing no signs she wanted to talk to him let alone him being in the same town.

"I thought ya would have left after that boy's killer was locked up," Rose replied.

"He is not locked up yet, the case has to go to court yet.  The council decided to take people's minds of what happened though they had best hope the weather holds.  So you are taking a late break?" he asked her.

"Yeah, me and my mum.  Well it was sort of forced on me, the pushy personnel officer at work hinted I should use some leave up.  The caravan park had some bargains."

Alec was wishing he'd taken a caravan now, since if the river flooded, he'd be stuck unless he could somehow negotiate the narrow space at the back of the property though why someone had added a door there, he had no idea.

"Sorry about bumping into ya and yeah, I saw those chalets by the river.  Wish we could have afforded one.  Which one's yours then?" she asked since he'd said people lived there.

"The blue one, I took it a week or so back to get out of the hotel I was in.  So do you have a name, since you seem to know who I am?"

"Um, yeah, it's Rose.  Nice to meet you, Alec.  We followed the case, my mum was upset about it and how I got her to agree to come here is anyone's guess but she liked the fact the caravan park was right on the harbour instead of miles away."

"Yes, that is an advantage though there is one just down the coast right on the beach.  Am I keeping you, Rose?"

"Nah, though I should get back to the caravan.  Mum will be watching TV though, that's why I escaped, I was off to look over the other side of the harbour."

"Would you like some company maybe?" he asked hopefully.

"Yeah, why not?  I don't want to get lost, do I?" Rose smiled.  "So are you okay to walk around then?  The newspaper never said what was wrong with ya."

"A heart condition but I am now on regular medication, unlike before when I was hiding my illness from my boss.  There's not much here though, beside the harbour and the beach and it's rather late in the season to be sunbathing."

Rose giggled.  "Yeah, a bit but when I saw about the contest, I packed my swimsuit and bought a new dress.  My manager swore it hadn't been on the reduced rail when I took it to pay for it."

"You should not be telling me that," he half smiled.

"No, maybe not?  Well someone else would have asked for a discount, why shouldn't it be me?  Ready for a walk?" she asked as Alec gathered the empty cartons, including Rose's.

"After you," he indicated, going to the waste bin.  "Maybe a walk on the harbour pier?"

He'd noticed the cottage on the side of the cliff had been vacant when he'd taken the chalet but there were just too many steps and he was in no condition to climb them in his state of health but was anyone?  Well at least it wouldn't need a boat to get to it if the river flooded.

They walked across the road, unaware that Olly from the newspaper had been trying to cheer up his younger cousin Tom in the amusement arcade since Tom had refused to move to Devon with his mother and younger brother.

"Olly, is that DI Hardy across there?" Tom asked him.

"Looks like it.  Come on, I'd best get you back to get changed, your mother's coming to visit you later," Olly told him.  "You have to think about moving with her Tom, it's not her fault what your dad did, he had a choice.  Hang on, was Hardy with someone?"

Tom had to smile.  "Yeah, it looked like it. Want to follow them?"

"It's probably someone on holiday and I thought he'd be leaving town.  What's made him decide to stay though?" Olly wondered.

"You're always working Olly," Tom reminded him, leaving the empty tub his change had been in on the cashier's desk.

Rose and Alec had got to the end of the pier and sat down.  

"So do ya like it here then, if ya decided to stay?" Rose asked him, keeping her distance for now.

"I hated it when I arrived, mainly because it reminded me of where I had moved from and my last case."

"Those two girls?  Wasn't one found in the river?  Sorry."

"Yes, I was the one who found her.  It doesn't go away so easily.  Then I find myself living by the side of the river, by the sea."

"Are ya tryin' to punish yourself?" Rose smiled.

"I suppose I am really?  As soon as the case goes to court and I get myself fixed, I'll be able to get a transfer.  In the meantime, I am waiting to take up a post teaching at the police academy at the end of the month."

"Give the benefit of your experience to new recruits?" Rose mused.  "So when do ya get yourself fixed?"

"I was told six to eight weeks though if I get worse or there is a cancellation, I will get in sooner.  Don't look like that," he replied, seeing her face.

"What's with the wait?"

"I'm not the only one waiting for a pacemaker Rose," he told her, wishing she didn't know so much about him.

"What about going private?"

"I voided my police insurance by not declaring my illness.  I'm on half pay but I get my accommodation paid for, I suppose I could manage to pay for it myself though it may not work."

Rose looked alarmed, Alec really wishing he'd not started this with a woman he'd just met.  She didn't like where this was going.

"I'm scared to ask why," she told him.  "Maybe I should just go, ya don't sound like ya wanna talk about it?"

"Yes, I agree, I'm sorry I wasted your time Rose."

"What?  No, ya haven't wasted my time Alec.  You don't look like you want anyone to know, that's all.  Who am I gonna tell?  I go home on Friday."

"Yes, you do and you will forget all about me," he replied, about to get up.

Rose grabbed his arm.

"Is that what ya think?  Geez Alec, someone must have really upset you that ya don't want to talk about it to anyone?"

"You mean beside my ex wife not knowing and hiding it from my co-workers and my boss while working on a case?" he asked.

This was getting more complicated by the minute, Rose thought.

"Hold on a minute.  You came here, knowing you were ill, took a job and a boy just happened to get killed, like your last case and ya had no-one to help ya?"

"I'm not looking for any sympathy Rose.  I got through it, end of story and I will either survive surgery or not.  If you feel sorry for me, that was not my intention."

"Well it might not have been but honestly, there was no-one to care about ya?"

"No.  If I had told anyone, I would have been out.  Now I'm on sick leave but I can take light duties, which apparently covers teaching new recruits.  That's my punishment for chasing a suspect down a cliff and collapsing."

"Crikey Alec, ya could have killed yourself.  Didn't anyone know?"

"Just my own GP, he filled out the paperwork.  May I walk you back to your caravan, well part of the way if you don't want to be seen with me?" he asked.

"Ya said ya were just introducing the contestants Alec, ya not a judge, are ya?"

"No, I'm not a judge, thankfully.  Would you maybe be seen out later this evening with me?"

"Well mum wants to play bingo, I can sneak off maybe?" she replied, Alec getting up and holding his hand out to help her.  "Should ya be drinking though?"

"The bar serves other drinks Rose.  I understand if you want to stay with your mother though?"

"I didn't say that, did I?  So are ya gonna show me where ya live?"

"You will have seen it, crossing over the road bridge," he replied, thinking this had been a bad idea.

What did he have to lose though?

Rose followed him over the narrow footbridge and around the side of the wooden restaurant then though a gate.

"Don't ya ever get lost around here?" Rose teased him as he got his key out.

"You wanted to see where I lived," he reminded her, wondering why he'd even agreed.  "Sure you want to come in or do you want to find your mother and play bingo?"

"Ah, there's plenty of time, we'll be getting something to eat first.  Why don't ya come round, we were just gonna do a ham salad and some boiled potatoes, we had a late lunch."

That would mean meeting her mother, wouldn't it, he thought.

"Thank you for the invitation but maybe another time?  I have just eaten myself Rose."

"Yeah, sorry then.  Why don't I meet ya around eight in the other bar?  I could get ya an entertainment pass though if ya want one?"

"Rose if I wanted to go where it was members only, I could use my ID.  How would you get another pass though?"

"We paid for the caravan, my friend was gonna come but she backed out and besides, as long as ya tell them, it makes no difference.  We were going up to Lyme tomorrow, wanna come with us?"

"No, there is a big hill there, I would rather not.  You are supposed to be here with your mother," he reminded her.

"Yeah, she likes looking in the shops.  We were going to Weymouth on Thursday though, you could come with us then?"

"Rose, after the contest on Wednesday, you may not want to even see me again."

"Oh.  Why's that then?" she asked, sitting on the rather battered sofa.

Well most women tended to avoid him these days, not that he'd even tried after Becca Fisher turned him down.

"Well I only asked you for a drink tonight and you are talking about Thursday.  Why do you want to spend your time with me?"

Rose could think of a dozen reasons but telling him he was cute would chase him away.

"You think I came here looking for a holiday romance?" Rose tried not to sound insulted.

"Did you?  Maybe you are trying to avoid playing bingo with your mother and watching the entertainment?"

"Maybe I am?  Alec, I'd pick a bloke up in the bar if I wanted a holiday fling."

He went to sit beside her, making Rose move up.

"Do you want a holiday fling Rose?" he asked, going for her hand.  "Especially with a sickly ex detective?"

"Stop puttin' yourself down Alec.  No-one would know ya were ill if ya didn't tell them.  Maybe ya should try and bring that pacemaker forward, then ya'd see ya can still get a woman interested in ya."

"Do I have someone interested in me?" he dared ask.

"Yeah, me, ya plum.  Geez Alec, it must have been a while?"

"It's almost eighteen months since my wife left me for another DS whom we worked with.  I never trusted anyone after that although I tried it with the hotel owner, who turned me down."

Rose let out a giggle.

"Yeah?  Well more fool her then?  Alec, I'm not lying when I said I wasn't looking for a holiday romance but you're not here on holiday, are ya?"

"Technically?  You came here to enter a beauty contest and stop your personnel officer reminding you that you had some leave to take.  You could have gone anywhere Rose but you chose to come here.  Were you expecting me to still be here?"

"I had no idea Alec but ya are.  No, I didn't want to pick a bloke up in the bar.  I have an on/off boyfriend whom I'm getting tired of because that's all he wants, someone to go to the pub with him and hang around with.  He just doesn't get it."

"That is a real shame Rose," he sympathized, touching her cheek with his finger.  "So if you don't want a holiday romance, what do you want?  I told you, my operation could go either way."

"Is that why ya put it off then?" Rose wanted to know, leaning back on the cushion.

"Partly.  I was going though my old case to see what I had missed.  I wanted to catch that killer as well as lock up Danny Latimer's so I convinced myself I could wait.  If I were to call and see if I could get in sooner?"

"What are ya asking me Alec?" Rose wanted to know as he leaned in closer and even though he didn't appear to want to shave, he was still wearing cologne.

"That if you have some more leave, you would maybe agree to go with me?"

"Well I wasn't planning on doing anything with the other week.  If it got you to have your surgery earlier?"

"That would mean staying in touch when you leave, Rose," he hinted as he almost kissed her cheek, touching it very lightly and making her shiver.

"Why couldn't I have met someone like you back home?" she asked him as he did it again.

"Because I got sent here?" he smiled, something he didn't do so much of.  "Why did you come here Rose?  To see the crime scene or the detective who solved the murder?"

"Honestly?  I was half hoping ya were still here but I didn't think I'd actually meet ya.  There, I admit it."

"Then maybe it was just as well that I stayed?" he asked, trying not to lose his balance.

He was just about to kiss her cheek properly when her phone rang and broke the spell.

"Crikey, I didn't realise how long I'd been out.  She'll think I got lost."

"Then what are you going to tell her?  That you lost track of time or you came back with me?"

"Alec, she'll go crazy if I don't answer and I can't.  I'll have to tell her but not now, okay?"

Alec nodded and sat back while Rose answered.

"You took ya time Madam, where are ya?"

"Hi Mum, I'm just out.  I'll be back soon, why don't ya put the potatoes on to boil?"

Then she covered the phone and asked Alec if he'd join them, him shaking his head.

"I promise I'll tell her where I'm going later," Rose whispered.  "Mum, I don't fancy playing bingo, do ya mind playing on ya own?"

"Why?  What are you up to Rose?  Oh don't tell me?  You met him, didn't ya?"

Rose was thinking of a suitable excuse.

"Just tell her Rose," Alec encouraged her.  "Just don't tell her you are having a holiday fling with me."

"Well Rose?" her mother reminded her as Rose leaned over and kissed his cheek.

"Well I was having a latte when he almost bumped into me as I was turning around," Rose started to explain.

"Well that didn't take ya long, did it?" her mother asked.

Rose supposed it hadn't, considering he could have left town but there he was, one arm around the back of the sofa and just touching her other shoulder and his other hand going for her free one.

"Rose, don't be long and bring him over with ya."

"Not now mum, I'll introduce ya to him later but go easy on him, ya know what happened."

Rose got off the phone and he pulled her to his shoulder.

"So everyone knows what happened to me?" he asked.

"She felt sorry for ya.  Do ya mind meeting her later?" Rose wanted to know.

"As long as she doesn't want my autograph," he smiled, kissing her cheek.  "So if we are not having a holiday fling?"

Rose couldn't think of a suitable name for a non holiday romance as he leaned over.

"Well it can't be a holiday fling if I'm coming back, can it?" she asked him.

"So you would come back just to go to the hospital with me even though I may not come out?"

"You had better come out, making me travel back to go with ya."

"Then I will offer to pay your train fare for the occasion but maybe you can come down the day before and stay with me while I recover?  Rose, I had not even considered that having someone go with me would make me think about recovering.  There is just one thing though, about the beauty contest?"

"What's that then?" she asked as she fingered his scruffy beard.

"Well if you win or not, why would a Miss Broadchurch contestant be wanting to be seen around with the worst cop in Britain?"

"Well whoever called ya that, I'll sort them out."

Alec smiled – it wouldn't be too bad having maybe the future Miss Broadchurch at his side when he woke up in the hospital.

Chapter 3
Rose eventually had to leave to go see her mother.

"I will meet you in the other bar around eight then?" Alec asked her after they had kissed for a while.

"Yeah, then we can go for a walk if ya want?" Rose suggested.  "I'll have to collect my mum to walk her back to the caravan though, you could come with me?"

"To leave you at the door?" he asked her, raising his eyebrows.

"Mum will be fine on her own and I have the other key, unless you weren't gonna ask me to come back with ya?"

"I did not think you would want to Rose."

"Have you seen those caravan bedrooms?" Rose laughed, trying to get up but not wanting him to fasten his shirt buttons, she was enjoying the view.

"Have you seen mine?  Rose, it's only a small bed, just a touch over a single one.  I tend to wake up, I may hit you or at least make you jump, then you would bang your head on the window."

"Is that supposed to put me off?  Well I could put ya down for the caravan and we can sleep in the lounge?  My mum tends to make a noise in the mornings though."

Alec knew there was no easy way.  When he'd taken the chalet, he was not expecting any company, especially female.

"Then I will come to the caravan office with you, then at least I can stay until your mother gets settled?  They may know who I am though."

"Great but how can anyone in the town not know who ya are?" Rose smiled.  "Well come on then, before the office closes."

Alec was wondering how he'd managed to get into this.  He wondered if she made a habit of picking men up who were ill and volunteering to look after them?  He still had to be careful who saw them together though, with the contest coming up but if anyone objected, he would just have to say he wasn't one of the judges, was he?

It was easier than he thought as Rose dragged him into the site office, asking for another pass since she had put down for three people, hoping Shareen would have changed her mind.

"Well we don't usually allow anyone to take someone else's place," the woman was trying to tell her.

"Yeah, well I didn't know I was gonna bump into an old friend while I was here," Rose replied, trying to make it look genuine.  

"I know who he is," the woman smiled.  "Which is why I'll make an exception this time.  Aren't you taking part in the contest though?" she asked Rose.

"Yeah, he's not one of the judges," Rose replied, Alec trying to stay out of it for now.

Alec got his pass and Rose led him to the caravan.  He knew this wasn't a good idea but it seemed to be pleasing his new friend, or the woman he was not having a holiday fling with.  How had this happened in a few hours?  Rose opened the caravan door, wishing her mother hadn't left it unlocked but there didn't seem to be that many people around.

"Mum, we have company.  I brought Alec to meet ya," Rose called out as her mother was in the kitchen area.  "Sure ya don't want anything to eat?" she asked him.

"Maybe just the salad?" he replied, thinking he must make the effort.

Jackie proceeded to fuss over him, making Rose smile.

"Are ya coming out with us tomorrow?" Jackie asked him.

"No, I will give that a miss.  I don't want to interfere with your plans," he replied.

"Well you're a friend of Rose's, I had to ask ya," Jackie replied, glad he was eating something even if it was only ham salad.  "I did say to call me Jackie," she reminded him as he'd not said her name.

He wasn't much on names, as his DS had found out before she'd disappeared.

"Yes, I will remember that," he replied, going for his drink and wondering how he'd managed this when earlier in the day, he was hoping maybe he'd bump into someone on holiday who was willing to take him on for a few days and he'd spotted one Rose Tyler but she came with a chatty mother who had been determined to feed him.

He was lucky he got away with salad, goodness knew what else she may produce were he to accept tomorrow night.

They walked down to the entertainment centre after Rose went to get changed.

"So are ya coming back tonight?" Rose was asked.

"I'm gonna stay with Alec tonight Mum but we'll walk ya back to the caravan?"

"I can get back on my own Rose, I might find someone to talk to anyway unless ya coming to watch the show later?"

Alec was hoping they could give that a miss.  Much to his relief, Rose agreed.

"We'll be in the other bar Mum, just come and look for us," Rose replied as they reached the entrance.

As her mother went inside, Rose took Alec's arm.

"So, are we going for a drink or a walk?" she asked him.

"Maybe a walk first?" Alec suggested, wanting to get a few things straight.  

He was now used to being on his own and this would only last for a few days unless Rose kept her promise to come back for his surgery, whenever that would be.  They crossed the road and walked to the end of the stone pier, sitting on the round wall at the end.

"Was that too much for ya?" Rose asked him.

"No, I've had worse.  Rose, you should know I was married and I have a teenage daughter, did I tell you?"

"Alec, it's fine, don't worry about it, everyone comes with a past," she smiled.  "Me, mine was called Mickey, he was my first real boyfriend and we still remained friends.  I got over him Alec but I never had a steady boyfriend after that."

"So that is why you are willing to have a little holiday romance?" Alec smiled, taking her hand.

"Well it's better than a holiday fling," Rose smiled back.

"I never meant it to sound like that Rose.  You said you would come back, I won't hold you to it though."

"Don't say that Alec.  Now I know about it, I'd be worried you had no-one to go with ya.  Just let me know when it is.  Anyway, I probably won't win the contest on Wednesday, I may need consoling."

"Well I am sure I can manage that, Rose," he tried to assure her, going to kiss her since there was no-one around.

They walked back to the campsite bar, both having non-alcoholic drinks until Jackie went to find them and once back at Alec's chalet, Rose set her alarm to meet her mother the next morning, having taken a few things with her.

"Did I warn you I may wake up?" Alec smiled as they got into bed, him cringing how small it was and thinking maybe they would be better in the caravan, despite her mother being there.

"Don't worry about it Alec, you'll be fine if ya have someone with ya," Rose tried to assure him.

Alec could only hope she was right since she only had her pyjama shorts and top on as he got in beside her.  Rose surprised him by going to lie on him.

"Do ya want me to move?" Rose asked as he flinched slightly.

"What?  No, I do not want you to move Rose, sorry.  It has been a while since someone actually wanted me."

"Aw, poor you.  Well maybe ya just need a reminder?  In case you're worried, I do take precautions Alec."

He was most glad to hear that, not that he had planned any of this when he'd woken up that morning, this had been a nice surprise as Rose began to move on him and he let out a moan, making Rose giggle.

"Wow, let's both enjoy this?" she suggested.

Alec couldn’t have agreed more.  He was surprised there was enough room in the bed but Rose seemed to be managing just fine as she let him remove her pyjama bottoms and she his shorts and Rose let out some contented noises.  As she lay on him afterwards, having scrambled back into their underwear, they kissed some more then Rose suggested they got some sleep.

"I usually have a problem sleeping Rose," Alec admitted.

"Well not while I'm here Alec.  What happened to ya?"

"An old case, finding a young girl in the river or my wife cheating on me, take your pick Rose."

"Well forget about it while I'm in town Alec, can ya do that?"

He went to kiss her neck.

"Yes, I can do that but what about when you are gone?"

"We have three more nights Alec, let's make the most of them, yeah?" she asked.

"Yes, I can do that Rose, I will try not to wake you."

"Alec, it's okay, wake me if you need to, yeah?"

"I don't deserve all this attention," he replied as Rose got comfortable without a wooden slat of the blind catching her.  "Maybe we should change places?" he offered.

The next morning, they walked over to the caravan for breakfast and Rose asked him what he was going to do.

"I think I will bluff my way into the station and catch up on what is happening with that case.  All I will be doing is sitting at a desk.  Call me when you get back eh?"

"Well if ya feel like going in, why are ya taking a teaching job?" Rose asked as they walked across the road bridge.

"That is a very good question.  Maybe I will see about that?"

He walked Rose and her mother to the campsite entrance and Rose kissed his cheek.

"Want anything bringing back?" she asked him.

"No, I will see you later, have a good day out."

As they walked off, Jackie saying it was just like her to take on a sickly detective, Alec went to see the chief.

"So can I come in for a few hours?" he asked hopefully.  "Just in the morning maybe?"

"Well as long as someone is there I suppose I can allow it?"

"Then I appreciate it.  I have something to do tomorrow though," he admitted.

"Yes Alec, I heard about that, you comparing the beauty contest.  Be thankful DS Miller has left town or you would never hear the end of it."

Alec already knew that.

"There is something else.  I am going to chase up the hospital and get myself sorted."

"The last I heard was you refused to settle on a date," the chief replied.

"Well now I have a reason.  I met someone, she said she would go with me," he admitted.

"She must be someone important then?"

"Well she is here on holiday but she said she would come back when I got a date for it."

"She's only here on holiday?' the chief asked.  "Don't tell me she's taking part in the beauty contest?' the chief smiled.

"What if she is?  I'm not one of the judges," he replied, getting tired of repeating the fact.  "So can I stay until around midday?  I can supervise anyone being sent out if need be."

"Well as long as you promise not to go with them?  I suppose it's better than you being on your own but where is this woman you met?"

"She's here with her mother, they have gone out for a while.  She is only here until Friday but I may ask her to stay a few extra days."

"You said you had just met her Alec," the chief reminded him.

"I know but she made a big impression on me and I have a feeling I would do better if I had someone on my side.  Can I have my old office back then?"

"Well we have a part-time DI coming in and luckily, he is only here in the afternoons.  I'll tell him when he arrives.  Are you going through the Latimer case?"

"That was the idea.  I may not need that teaching job then?"

The chief had to smile at his nerve after she had more or less thrown him out not so long ago.

"I'm sure they will miss the benefit of your experience Alec."

He went off to his old office, noticing there was more room in the outer office as a lot of desks had gone.

"So you're back then?" Frank asked him.

"For now.  You are in charge of going out, I'm not allowed.  Have the files from the Latimer case brought up here."

Rose and her mother were enjoying looking around the various shops and Rose smiled when she got a message from Alec to say he had wormed his way back into his old office a few hours a day and she had written back for him to stay out of trouble.

"So are ya serious about him Rose?" her mother asked over coffee.

"While I'm here?" Rose wondered but what about when it was time to leave?

"Well what do ya think I meant?  Honestly Rose, you might have had a few casual boyfriends near home but this is a long way from home."

"I know that Mum.  He needs someone to go the hospital with him and I have more leave to take, what else am I gonna do with it?  He's been through a lot Mum, he has to know someone's on his side."

"Well you seem to think that's your job, I just hope ya know what ya doing Rose."

"Yeah, I know Mum but I can't just abandon him, can I?"

Jackie shook her head.  "I'm not gonna see much of ya then, am I?"

"Don't say that Mum, that's why I got him a pass, so we could make sure you got back at night.  You wouldn't like it if I invited him to stay with us."

"No, I don't suppose I would then?  Are ya sure it's not gonna interfere with ya taking part in the beauty contest though?"

"No Mum, he's not a judge and I don't really expect to win anyway, it's just for a bit of fun."

Alec was getting ready to leave his temporary office when his mobile rang.  It was the council leader.

"Ah, DI Hardy, we have another favour to ask of you, if you would agree?"

Alec listened to the request.  "What?" he asked, to make sure he'd heard right.  "You want me to take the winner out for a meal afterwards?"

"Well yes, any objections?" he was asked.  "We've arranged it at the pub next to the campsite, they'll be expecting you between eight thirty and nine, to give the winner chance to get changed.  It's just a meal Inspector, it's not a date."

"Well I hope not, I have a girlfriend now, well while she's in town," he admitted, hoping he wouldn't be asked if she was a contestant and now hoping she would win.

"I understand Alec," the leader replied, Alec wondering why his first name was now being used.  "I'm sure you can make it up to her?"

"Well I had best hope so, she may get annoyed though, I'd best not tell her just yet."

He left the police station and made his way home, well his temporary one and wondered if he should call the rental agency.  If Rose agreed to come back, he needed something else but when she did come back to go to the hospital with him, would she want to stay?  He got back and tried the appointments number again, having hung up several times earlier was he was twenty something in the queue to be answered.

After a five minute wait, he finally got through, giving the person his reference number and being told they had been waiting for him to contact them.

"We can give you the 30th of October at 3pm," the woman told him.

That was less than a month, was that too short notice for Rose to go with him?  The woman was waiting for a reply.

"Yes, I will take it then," he had to agree and hope he wouldn't be going alone because now he'd met Rose, he didn't think he could.

At least now he could tell her when she got back and she could come down the day before and they could take a cab ride over to Exeter the day after.  That gave him a few days to recover but she would probably be leaving on the Saturday or Sunday.  That gave him an idea though, that of asking her to stay until this Sunday, would she agree to that?

Rose left her mother at the bus shelter and made her way across the narrow footbridge to Alec's blue chalet, wondering what had made him take it or if he'd done it as punishment and reminding him of the river he'd found that young girl in.  She was at least going to try to persuade him to move out before winter came along and for the beginning of October, it wasn't really bad.

She knocked on the door and waited, not knowing he'd nodded off to sleep after he'd made his phone call.  She tried again and was about to phone him when she saw the door handle moving.

"Hey, were ya having a rest?" Rose smiled at him.

"Yes, you could say that," he replied, letting her in.  "Maybe it was because I went back to work for a few hours?"

"Are ya sure ya should be?" Rose asked him, going into the kitchen to make a drink.

"Don't fuss Rose, I would have been here going over my other old case otherwise.  Had a good day out?" he asked, going to kiss her cheek.

"Yeah and ya were right about that hill," she smiled.

"Rose, I got a date for my surgery, the 30th of this month.  Is that too short notice for you?"

"No, I'll put in for that week when I get back then.  That was quick though."

"Yes, they were just waiting for me to contact them but why did they not just send me it?"

"Maybe they thought you wouldn't turn up?" Rose smiled as she made some drinks.

"Maybe I would have turned it down had you not offered to go with me?  Rose, would you consider staying a few more days, say until Sunday?"

"Wow.  Well if my mum will go back on her own?  We got single tickets though, it worked out cheaper though I don't know how."

"Then let me pay for it?" he offered, going in his trousers pocket for his wallet.

"Alec, I don't want your money," she insisted.  "I'd still have to pay whatever day we go back."

"Rose, I insist I pay when you come back then," he replied, putting his wallet away.   "If you need anything though, I would be happy to help."

"Well since ya have a washing machine, I'll need to do my laundry on Friday," she teased him.

"Well that is the least I can do.  Rose, about the contest tomorrow, are you sure you still want to take part?" he asked, wondering how to break the news to her he had to take the winner out for a meal and it may not be her?

Chapter 4
After 'escorting' Rose's mother to the entertainment complex, Rose wanted to walk along the sea front and they stopped at the end.

"Alec, you asked me if I still wanted to be in that contest?  Any reason?"

"Actually, there is.  While you were out earlier, I had another call from the organizer.  I get to present the prizes but they want me to take the winner out for a meal afterwards.  I did not know how to tell you."

"Oh.  I still might win though," Rose replied, hooking her arm in his.  "What did ya tell them?"

"I had to agree Rose and I regret doing so.  I wanted to take you out afterwards, in case you did not get a prize."

"Aw, I met you, didn't I?  It's only for a meal, yeah?"

"Yes, that is all it will be Rose, I promise.  I will make it clear if you are not fortunate to win and I will call for you afterwards.  I don't know what time that will be though."

"I guess that means I have to play bingo with my mum then?" Rose smiled at him.

Alec was relieved she had taken it so well.

"I will make it up to you on Thursday night, unless you want to spend it with your mum, since she goes home on Friday.  How did she take you saying you were staying a few more days?"

"Not as bad as I thought she'd be.  I thought she would be really mad, since I've spent last night with you.  I'll be really busy tomorrow anyway and we'll have to stay away from each other at the contest so no sneaking kisses," she smiled.

"Got it, no sneaking kisses then?  Sure you are not mad about me taking someone out?"

"As long as ya not gonna have a holiday fling with the winner?" she teased him.

"I would never do that love," he replied, moving in front of her and putting his arms around her.  "I have never had a holiday romance before though you don't like me to call it that.  You are right not to call it such, considering you agreed to stay a while longer.  If all goes well with my surgery, what then Rose?"

"What do ya mean?  I only have another week's holiday Alec, I'll have to go back but I don't know how I feel about a long distance relationship, do you?"

"No, I do not like the idea but we just met Rose, you need time to think about it so when you go back, you have to decide what you want, if you want more with me maybe?"

"I already do Alec, why do ya think I agreed to stay?  How will we manage though?  Do ya intend coming up to visit me?"

"Well maybe you can think of moving down here?  You could easily get a job or are you worried about your mother maybe?"

"Well yeah.  She'd never leave though and lose all her friends but she may settle for coming down for holidays.  Can we talk about this later?  It's all a bit sudden Alec, I wasn't expecting to meet anyone while I was here."

"I know, sorry.  It is a lot to think about and if you only come back for my surgery then leave again, just know that I won't let you leave so easily, Rose Tyler."

He leaned forward to kiss her, hoping no patrols or locals had made it to the far end of the esplanade.  They walked back arm in arm, Rose pointing out the holiday homes and the blocks of flats.

"What made ya choose that chalet?" she asked him.

"It was on one level, I don't need to climb stairs every night," he replied.

"Well good thinking then but ya could have got a caravan."

"The site will be closing soon love, then what?" he asked.

"They might do long-term rentals, I'm surprised they close, they must lose a lot of money?"

"I expect it's to do maintenance?  I could ask I suppose but I will not need one if my surgery goes well."

"Well do ya fancy getting a boat to your chalet when the river bursts its banks?" Rose reminded him.

"I don't want to think about that love," he replied as they turned the corner and passed the police station. 

Rose smiled as they crossed the road and into the camp site bar, Rose saying she wanted some hot chocolate.  Once her mother joined them and they walked her back to the caravan, Rose invited him to stay.

"You left some things at my place, remember?" he asked her as her mother went to the kitchen area.

"Well we can just use the seating area and pull it out?  It'll be easier in the morning," Rose told him.

"Well make ya minds up you two," her mother called over to them.

"Well just for tonight maybe?  What time do you have to be there tomorrow?"

"An hour before it starts but mum's gonna do my hair for me, then I have to get ready.  What time were you told?"

"Ah, the same to get a list of the contestants and being shown things I expect and meeting the judges.  Rose, it makes no difference if we talk or not, I expect everyone will be talking to one another?"

"Yeah, maybe and you won't have any influence, will ya?"

"No so it will be safe to talk in general.  I expect everyone will be nervous?"

"Even you?" Rose teased him, going to pick up two mugs of tea.

"Well we have something in common, it is a first for both of us, you taking part and me introducing everyone.  Maybe you had better talk to me to keep the others away, I don't want you getting any more jealous." 

"What do ya mean by more jealous?" Jackie asked.

"Alec has to take the winner out for a meal after the evening contest," Rose replied with a smile.

"So whose idea was that then?" 

"Mum, it's not his fault, it's what the organizers want as part of the prize.  He's not gonna run off, are ya?" Rose teased him.

"I can assure you Mrs Tyler that Rose is the only one I am currently seeing, the winner, whoever she is will not turn my head.  It will be just a meal then we go our separate ways, me to call and collect Rose wherever she is."

"Well I hope so then," Jackie replied, sipping her tea and trying to watch the news.

Alec was already feeling a little uncomfortable and wondered when Rose's mother would call it a night and go to bed and now wishing he'd not agreed to stay.  It was dating Tess all over again, under her mother's scrutiny.  Jackie finally gave up just before eleven and Alec breathed a sigh of relief.

Rose went to get the spare duvets while Alec tried to work out how to convert the seating, avoiding the coffee table, which he had to move.  Rose was giggling as she tried to put a sheet over the cushions and Alec complained they could have stayed in his single bed in the chalet.

"Well I added you as a guest," Rose reminded him.  "You may as well stay one or two nights."

"Two nights?" he repeated, thinking one was bad enough, especially if her mother woke early and began making a noise in the kitchen area.

He was just thankful he had a t-shirt under his shirt, since it got a bit colder in the evenings.

"I will have to leave early to change my shirt," he reminded Rose as he came out of the bathroom, having waited until Rose had finished.

"Yeah.  So are ya working a few hours in the morning then?"

"I may as well.  We could all meet for lunch maybe, across from the police station, around twelve or is that too late?"

"No, I can be ready then just make my way to the event but we might gets some funny looks if we arrive all together?"

"Yes, well you and your mother make your way there and I will follow and we had best hope no-one else is eating there."

They had to settle for just kissing and a bit more since Alec swore her mother would hear them if they attempted anything else and he was not happy being on caravan seating cushions anyway.  He'd taken his pills and he hoped he wouldn't wake either of them up if he dreamt he was drowning again but he'd not done so the night before.  Maybe Rose had a calming effect on him or the fact he wasn't alone?  Maybe all he'd needed was someone to talk to about it if he did wake and Rose had seemed more than willing to do so.

What did she want long term though?  Could he expect her to leave the big city and live in a Dorset coastal town with him?  Would she want him to move up to London or a bit nearer than they would be?  Well he'd have to wait and see if he survived his surgery first of all, it was no good offering her something long term when there wasn't going to be any.

He woke up with Rose's arm over him and her hair all over the place and tried to get onto his back so as not to wake her then squinted at his watch.  It was just gone seven and he had no idea what time her mother would be around and he would rather not be found in his shorts and t-shirt by any woman's mother, let alone Jackie Tyler.

"Mmm, Alec, what time is it?" Rose suddenly yawned at him.

"Relax love, it's just gone seven.  Got a kiss for me?"

"Hey, don't let my mum catch us," Rose teased him, after a few short ones.

"Rose, she knows we are sharing love," he reminded her.

"Yeah but it doesn't mean she actually wants to see us.  Anyway, we have this seating to sort out, she'll be inspecting it."

Alec looked at her until she burst out laughing and gently nudged him.

"Gotcha!"

"Really Rose, don't do that eh?  Well we had best move then and tonight, it's back to my place, got it?"

"Yes Sir, got it," Rose giggled as she tried to move.

They were both making something to eat as her mother came out of the double bedroom, Alec thinking he'd just got away with it.

"See you both for lunch then?" he asked just before nine.

Rose went outside with him and kissed him goodbye.

"No chasing suspects," she reminded him.

"I know, I am there in a supervisory role only.  Good luck Rose, you know I can't say that later?  I hope it will be you I am taking out tonight but if not, I will make it up to you."

Rose put her arms around his neck and hoped neither her mother would be looking out of the window or no-one was passing by.

"Aw, ya don't have anything to make up Alec.  I'll talk to mum, about when I come back, I'll tell her I might stay or at least go back for my things and give my notice at work but like ya said, it's a lot to think about."

"Yes, it is.  I have to go now, hope you at least get to the final tonight love."

"So do I," Rose smiled back.

Rose went back inside to go wash her hair so her mother could cut it a bit and style it for her after Rose went to put her swimsuit on then a t-shirt and jeans over the top.

"I don't know how ya can't be nervous Rose," her mother told her as she took a few rollers out of Rose's hair.

"I'm not 'cos I know Alec's gonna be there.  I don't know how it happened so fast Mum, really I don't.  I have to be there for his surgery, I promised him."

"Yeah, I know you did Rose but maybe staying afterwards?"

"Mum, think of all the free holidays ya'd get," Rose reminded her.

"Well I suppose there's that then?  You are serious about him?"

"Yeah Mum, I am.  It was like when we met the other day, him almost bumping into me.  He sort of told me it was my fault but he still came back to sit with me.  You know I don't chat blokes up just like that."

"Chance would be a fine thing Rose," her mother replied, fluffing Rose's hair up.  "I'm gonna have to do it again later if ya reach the final."

Alec had found the morning quite boring, wishing it was time to meet Rose for lunch despite her mother being there, then getting to see her in her swimsuit.  He just hoped none of the other contestants would try to show off and talk to him.  He'd been out of practice on that score, since Becca had turned him down and he'd not bothered again, until Rose almost collided with him and he'd blamed her for it.

Now, she was staying a bit longer when he'd asked her and he had a reason to get his pacemaker and survive.  He went across the road, Rose and her mother already there so they had to make it casual in case people saw him on stage in an hour or so.

Jackie almost gave the game away but Rose managed to stop her.

"So are you looking forward to the contest?" he asked as he sat on the next table when Rose was discussing it with her mother.

"Well yeah, I suppose I stand as much chance as the others," Rose replied, trying not to smile too much and call him Alec.

"Well I hope it goes well for you," was all he could reply.

"Yeah, thanks.  I hope you're not one of the judges?" Rose laughed.

"No, you are safe.  I am the one introducing the contestants though."

"Oh well, no-one can say I'm tryin' to bribe ya then?" Rose replied.

"Indeed not.  Don't let me make you late," he smiled back.

Rose nudged her mother as Jackie looked like she was going to ask what they were playing at.  As they made their way towards the tent and the stage that had been hired for the event, her mother did say something.

"That was a bit risky Rose, talking like that."

"No it wasn't Mum, he has no say over anything," Rose reminded her.

Some seats had been put behind a long table and Jackie sat on one while Rose went to give her name, then Jackie was told some more seats were being put up and asked her to move, Jackie huffing.  Alec had arrived, still waiting for the final list and tried to remember what number Rose had said she was.  Then he wondered if anyone had dropped out, giving Rose a better chance.

People were gathering on the beach, the seats had all been taken and Jackie wasn't giving hers up at the end of the first row for anyone.  Rose had brought a hooded top with her in her canvas bag and had put it over her costume, others though were trying to keep warm even though it was quite mild for October and the sun and decided to show itself.

Alec had his reading glasses on, looking at the names and trying to remember not to favour Rose when it was her turn.  He knew he could do it, even though he had never done anything like this before and hoped if Olly was going to take photos, he would somehow miss him out because he'd never hear the end of it from Miller or Tess.  

Olly of course was trying to get photos of the crowd in general and was asking people if they were looking forward to the contest and of course, Jackie being on the end caught his attention but she was spared as a DJ from the local radio station came on the stage to get everyone's attention just before two.

"Welcome to the Miss Broadchurch beauty contest 2013," the DJ began, getting a cheer from the crowds that were gathering.

"While the girls are getting themselves ready, a reminder of the prizes," he continued.  

He gave the second and third prize details then looked at the new information he'd been given.

"The lucky winner not only receives the title of Miss Broadchurch and a prize of £500 but will also get to have dinner with none other than the detective who recently caught the killer of young Danny Latimer.  The council have informed me that there will be a collection box available for those who want to donate to the sea scouts Danny belonged to so please, dig out your spare change.  I will now hand you over to Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, who will introduce our twenty two lovely contestants."

Alec decided to admit he needed his glasses to read the names out, since he didn't want to get any of them wrong.  Olly was told he could only take photos of the contestants when they were all on stage and when the eight finalists had been chosen to go forward to the evening event, which Alec thought would be rather short but Rose had told him they were expected to tell the audience a bit about themselves so he'd thought it would maybe take an hour or so, since they would all be lining up afterwards and waiting for the results.

As he introduced them one by one, just asking their ages and where they came from as they stood beside him, they then went to the other side of the stage and he didn't envy them in their skimpy swimwear having to do so.  He finally got to Rose, who was embarrassed about Alec asking her questions when she'd not told him how old she was and he would probably never want to see her again afterwards, even if she did win.

"So, our final contestant today is Miss Rose Tyler," Alec introduced her.

Rose took the stage, a number on her wrist and trying not to look nervously at the crowds that had gathered but what had she expected?  It was meant to boost the town after the tragedy that had taken place a few months ago and it looked like it was working.

"Rose, tell us your age and where you come from," Alec asked her.

"Hi, I'm from London and I'm twenty six," Rose replied, hoping he wouldn't throw the microphone on the floor and walk off the stage.

"Thank you Rose, would you join the others?" he replied.

Rose just nodded, seeing her mother sat on the edge of a chair and as she joined them, one of the organizers indicated for them all to parade back across the stage, leaving Rose at the far end and them all showing their numbers.

"Now we wait the judges decision as to which eight of the contestants will appear in the final tonight across at the holiday park complex just on the harbour.  Entry is by ticket only unless you have an entertainment pass."

Alec wondered as he waited for the results how the council had managed to persuade the camp's manager to host the event but he supposed that was the only place there was really.  He'd managed to get someone to bring him a chair earlier so as the girls all stood there trying not to look frozen, he sat down and hoped Rose would make it to the final and she would be the one he was dining with and not the woman with shoulder-length black hair who had purposely taken her time giving her details and who was now facing him.

He was just thankful Claire hadn't turned up since she'd gone back to her maiden name, if she and Lee Ashworth had actually got married, which he sincerely doubted after all the trouble they had caused.   Finally, the judges had made their choice and the DJ took the list and gave it to Alec, who didn't have time to skim through the final eight names.  The DJ took the list from him and made the crowd cheer but Alec had half expected them to make a big deal out of it.

"We have our final eight," the DJ called out to cheers, since wolf-whistling in Alec's book should be a criminal offence.

He called the first seven numbers, the contestants having stepped back a few paces and now seven, including the one with black hair stood forward and Alec's heart was skipping more beats than what was normal for him.

"Our last finalist is – Rose Tyler, number twenty two," the DJ announced, Alec now glad he'd not had to read it out as Rose stepped forward and he could hear her mother cheering.

"We will see you all tonight at seven thirty, in your evening wear and good luck to all of you," the DJ concluded.  "Thanks also to DI Alec Hardy, give him a cheer everyone."

Alec wished he'd not done that, having to get up and give a wave, not too enthusiastically though.  Would he dare go call for Rose and hope no-one saw him?  He was about to get off the stage when the woman with black hair, who he thought was called Cindy turned around, Alec hoping Rose was busy.

"I look forward to the dinner date if I win, Detective Inspector."

Alec was already dreading it and would even fake a heart attack to get out of it if wasn't Rose who won but he couldn't do that to Rose, the younger than he thought woman he was falling for and was willing to spend her holiday with him and go get his pacemaker fitted and he somehow doubted the woman who had just walked off would offer to do so.  Maybe after the evening contest he should make a show of kissing Rose in front of everyone if she didn't win to tell his would-be dinner date he was not on the menu?

Chapter 5
Rose was putting her jeans and t-shirt on, her mother having joined her in the changing tent.

"I just saw him talking to someone Rose," Jackie informed her.

"Leave it Mum, Alec's not likely to chat anyone else up, is he?" Rose asked her.  "He has to talk to other people."

"That woman who was picked first with the black hair?"

"Stop it Mum.  Alec said he had to take whoever won out for a meal, then he was coming to get me, end of story."

"Well why did he agree when he's going out with you?" her mother wanted to know.

"Well he didn't want them to know, did he?" Rose asked.  "I trust him Mum."

Alec had made his way back towards his chalet, stopping at a food stall and sending Rose a message to meet him.

"I'm off to meet him Mum.  I'll be back to get changed in time."

"I've hardly see ya the last few days Rose.  I hope we're going out tomorrow?"

"Yeah, I said we would Mum.  I don't think Alec would want to sit on the bus with us though."

"That's if ya see him tonight Rose," her mother reminded her.

"Well I'm off to see him now anyway so stop it."

"Aren't ya gonna get changed?" her mother asked.

"I can change in his bathroom Mum, see ya later."

Rose stared at the contestant with the black hair she assumed had been talking to her new boyfriend.

"Think you have a chance of winning?" the woman sneered as Rose passed by.

"Yeah, as much as you luv," Rose replied, getting a frown from her mother.

"Come on Rose, it's not worth it," she was reminded.

"Well I'm confident, that detective's quite cute," the woman replied.

Rose wanted to slap her and tell her to keep her hands off, Alec was spoken for.

"Well I'd be careful if I were you, he might be married or have a girlfriend," Rose replied, being an expert in cat fighting.

"Yeah?  Then what's he doing taking the winner out then?"

"It's business luv, what else would it be, especially if you won," Rose huffed as she walked off.

"You'd best hope she doesn't see you with him," her mother hinted as they walked off the beach.

"Have ya got my purse and my phone Mum?" Rose asked as they got on the pavement.

Jackie passed the items to her.

"Don't be late back, we have to eat before the contest starts, not that your boyfriend will be wanting anything?  He's not staying tonight is he?"

"No Mum, I think he felt a bit awkward last night, maybe it wasn't such a good idea?"

"It wasn't one of your best," her mother replied as they were opposite the camp site.

Alec was waiting around the corner for her, where they had met on Monday, Rose wondering how she'd managed to get a boyfriend so quickly when she wasn't looking for one.

"Hi Alec, been waiting long?" she asked as she joined him, a carton of coffee waiting for her.

"No love, I only sent a message as I got here.  Is there something wrong?"

"Oh, just a bit of a tiff with that woman with the black hair.  She thinks she's gonna win the contest."

"I hope not," Alec grinned.  "She spoke to me earlier."

"Yeah, my mother made a point of telling me," Rose tried to smile.  "Alec, I don't know if I can do a long distance thing?"

"I asked you to come back Rose, what else can I do?  Whoever I take out tonight, she will not compare to you love.  You have nothing to worry about.  I will get my surgery sorted, you just promise to be here for it, agreed?"

"Yeah, sorry.  I'm not used to fighting off the competition," she tried to joke.

"Then come back to my chalet and I will prove you have no competition," Alec smiled.

"Yeah, sorry, it was just her being so smug about it.  We have to talk Alec, I'm just gonna be sad to leave."

"I know love, you have nothing to worry about though."

"Aw, I think I know that," Rose replied as they got up and Alec cleared the litter.  "You're so different from my other boyfriends.  I just kept going back to Mickey but that's all over, has been for a while though we're still friends.  I expect my mum will get him to collect her when she gets back on Friday."

"I am well and truly over my ex, no worries there," Alec told her as they walked across the footbridge.

"Bit of an odd place to put a bridge?" Rose laughed as they stepped off.  "You'd have thought they'd make a way up to the main one from here?"

"Maybe they will one day?  Rose, I am going to look for something more suitable, this is not the ideal place.  When you come back, I may have found something.  I have a few weeks to do so and you have a few weeks to decide.  Rose, think about coming back to stay?"

"It's a big decision Alec, I told ya that.  I will think about it Alec but the season's over, how will I find a job?"

"Rose, I can take care of you, I will be back at work after my surgery.  There may still be jobs up in the town though.  Let me worry about it eh?  Now, we have a few hours before you get ready for the final, what are we going to do with them eh?"

As they carefully shared something special, Rose was laid on him and Alec was holding her tightly, wondering why he was remaining so calm.  He knew after her saying her age on the stage she was too young for him but if it worked for other couples, why not them?  Had she half expected him to leave her when he'd found out?

"Rose, why did you not tell me your age?"

"I didn't know how serious it was gonna get, did I?"

"There is a big gap in our ages Rose.  My daughter is fifteen, the same as how many years are between us, does that bother you?"

"I don't know Alec, Mickey, my ex is older than me but I don't really let age bother me.  Maybe it's because I had no dad when I was growing up?"

"I am sorry to hear that love," he replied, touching her cheek gently.  "Rose, if you decide to stay, I will look after you."

"Yeah, I know you would Alec," she replied, snuggling up to him.  "I have to go get ready soon."

"I look forward to seeing you in the dress you chose love."

"Well that woman with the black hair needn't think she's gonna win so easily."

"Well if she does, trust me Rose, she will know it's only a meal.  I was planning a little something should you not be fortunate enough to win."

"Oh, such as?" Rose smiled, trying to get out of bed and him trying to stop her.

"Ah, that is a surprise, just you wait and see eh?"

After they got dressed, Rose stuffing her swimsuit into her shoulder bag, Alec walked her to the end of the bridge.

"There will be too many people around now who may be attending the contest tonight," he told her as he was locking the door.

"I know, it's okay.  I'm just gonna call mum and I'll take some food back with me."

"Rose, about you coming back, let me pay for your ticket?"

"Well if ya insist?" she smiled, hidden from the road.

"I do.  Now give me a kiss and I wish you good luck for later."

"I'll just do my best then?"

"You do that love.  I will see you after whoever wins is certain that it's only a meal and nothing else."

He had already planned that if she didn't win, he would tell her the judges didn't know what they were talking about.  Rose got hers and her mother's orders, sitting on the wall at the side of the food stall with Alec, thinking it should be safe enough as they were out of the way.

After saying goodbye again, Rose went off and he started crossing the footbridge, still being able to see her walking across the road bridge.  How had he been so lucky to meet her on her first day in the town and literally bumped into her, albeit initially blaming her for it?  Now all he wanted was after Friday, she wouldn't feel guilty about leaving her mother alone and they'd have almost three days together but would he be able to see her off?

Rose got herself ready for the final, glad she didn't have to parade in her swimsuit again and she set off with her mother to get there in plenty of time, hoping Alec would be able to talk to her.  She'd sent him a message to make sure he was okay and showed the man on the door she was in the contest and was directed backstage, Jackie getting a table near the front.

Alec had arrived and was sitting further back until someone called him, since the camp compare was taking over his job anyway and he'd be called forward to make the presentations and he didn't fancy sitting with Rose's mother for the event.  Rose was just standing around since she was all ready and the other seven were doing the same.

"Why did we have to be called so early," Rose's would-be rival for Alec suddenly asked, checking her nails.

"Maybe so we'll all be here on time?" Rose suggested, the others laughing.

One of the entertainment staff came to tell them to stand at the side of the stage in ten minutes, then they would be called in number order, having put the bands back on their wrists.

"Getting nervous?" the black-haired woman Rose couldn't remember the name of asked her as they took their places.

Another of the staff had gone to find Alec, who wondered why he'd got there so early and he was told he would be called as the judges made their final choice.  Alec thought it would take less than an hour to go through everything then get the meal over with and collect Rose around nine, he was going to try to tell her how he felt once the presentations were over and he'd made a show of telling whoever won if it wasn't her that he was already involved with Rose.

The contestants were interviewed one by one, being asked what their hobbies were, what they did for a living and posing in front of the judges and Rose was getting more nervous by the minute, knowing her mother and Alec were out there waiting for her.  Rose was finally called and she tried to calm herself by thinking she may be the one Alec would be taking out shortly.

As Rose told the judges and the audience about herself, she stopped to pose for a few moments then went to join the others.  Alec by this time had edged his way nearer to the stage for two reasons – to get a closer look at his new girlfriend and so it would be easier to get on the stage, hopefully to present a prize to her, which he assumed the council had arranged how to pay them.  Jackie spotted him but thought she'd best not invite him to sit at her table until the event was over.

Alec was called forward by one of the staff and made his way behind the stage to where the contestants were waiting for the results.  He saw no harm in talking quietly to Rose, since she was at the end.

"Nervous?" he asked her.

"Yeah, a bit but at least I got to the final.  I hope my mum doesn't show me up if I win."

Alec had to smile at the thought.  The compare was handed the results and called Alec forward.

"Well, the judges have selected the three winners and we have the town's former DI, Alec Hardy to present our winner and two runner-ups.  Third prize goes to Miss Rose Tyler, Rose, come on stage and collect your prize."

Rose was a bit stunned she'd actually got somewhere but disappointed Alec wouldn't be taking her out.

"Congratulation Rose," Alec told her, going to kiss her cheek and hoping he wouldn't have to do it to the others.

Rose was asked to step to one side and the second place prizewinner was announced, Alec hoping it was the woman with black hair but it was another blonde and he could hardly hide his disappointment when she was the winner.

"As well as the prize money, the lucky winner gets to be taken by DI Hardy for a meal at a local restaurant.  Well done to our finalists and all those who took part."

The winner paraded up and down a bit, having been given a bouquet of flowers larger than Rose and the other contestant received from Alec as he was handed them and he assumed he would wait in the entrance to escort his dinner date.  Instead though, he followed them off and caught Rose, just as the woman he was taking out was following him, having passed her flowers to someone she knew.

"Rose, sorry you didn't win love."

"It's okay Alec, I'll see ya later then?"

"Hang on," the woman who had won spoke up.  "You two knew each other?"

"Yes, Rose is my girlfriend and since she did not win and I had nothing to do with the judges, I saw no need to mention the fact.  If you are ready, I will meet you across at the pub or you can walk across with me?  See you later love," he turned to Rose, giving her a kiss.

"Huh," the winner huffed.  "Don't be in such a big hurry then."

Alec didn't intend to be.  He saw the woman leaving and said goodbye again to Rose.

"I'll join my mum for a while, don't worry about me."

"I know love, sorry.  Will you be here or at the caravan?"

"I'll wait here, see ya soon then."

Alec went off and found the woman, Cindy, waiting for him.

"Well you can at least walk me over there."

"Fine, let's go then," he replied, not looking forward to it but when he'd agreed to this part, he was hoping he would be taking Rose.

"She seems a bit young for you, Alec is it?" Cindy asked him on the way there.

"Age does not matter to us.  We met the other day and she agreed to see my while she was here but now, she will be coming back in a few weeks time."

"So you're serious then?" he was asked.  "Still, getting involved with one of the contestants wasn't a very good idea."

Alec thought she had some room to talk as they reached the pub across the bridge.  Alec went to the bar, hoping they knew who he was but needn't have worried as he was told to just order from the menu and it would be taken care of.

"We donated the prize," the woman behind the bar told him as he took two menus from a pile.

"So, no chance of ditching your girlfriend and coming up to my room?" Cindy asked him hopefully.

"Sorry, no.  Rose and I are serious, she is coming back soon.  I have to go for surgery and she is going with me."

"There's something wrong with you?" he was asked as they looked at the menu.

"Did you not read about the murder inquiry here a while ago?" Alec asked her, wondering where she'd been hiding.

"Oh, you're that detective then?  I thought something had happened to you."

"Well I am still here," Alec replied, feeling a bit insulted as Rose had known who he was right away.

Their meals arrived and Alec really didn't know what to talk about since Cindy seemed reluctant to ask any more questions but she wasn't about to give up as she came back from the ladies room.

"So, want to change your mind?  I'm staying here."

"No, Rose will be waiting in the club for me, she has a caravan and I am staying with her at present," he replied, not wanting to say where he lived in case she went looking for him.

"Well I'm here until Saturday, if she's going home," Cindy hinted.

"Actually, she is staying until Sunday, only her mother leaves on Friday.  Goodnight then and congratulations on your win."

He knew he was being a bit rude but what did she expect?  For him to ditch Rose for the night when he wasn't interested in her?  He made his way back to the entertainment complex, not needing to show his pass and found Rose where her mother had been sitting earlier.

"Hey, want to come and dance?" Rose asked as some music was playing since the entertainment had been cancelled for the evening.

"Yes, I would like very much to dance with you Rose.  I have something to talk to you about later, if you are coming to my place?"

After a few dances, they walked Jackie back to the caravan and Rose got changed then they walked back over the river, Alec wishing there was an easier way as he could see his chalet.  Rose made a drink once they got inside and Alec wanted to talk.

"Rose, when you come back for my surgery, have you consider staying yet?"

"Alec, I don't know.  I'll book that week off and see if I can use it as my notice if I have to, then I'll make my mind up.  It's a big decision.  You might have my mum coming down all the time though."

"I can live with that if it means you stay.  Let me pay the fare for you coming back at least."

"You already offered Alec," Rose reminded him.

The next day, Alec declined going to Weymouth with them and spent a while looking for somewhere to move to, declining a cottage on the east cliff because it had too many steps but found one that would be vacant from the end of October right on the beach just next to the large pink cottage that stood out so he asked the personnel department to sort it out and was told they would see if he came back full time most of it would be paid for.

Alec took Rose and Jackie out that night and Rose promised they would see Jackie off the next morning.

"Sure ya don't want me to go to Dorchester with ya?" Rose asked her mother over their meal.

"Rose, the bus drops me right outside the train station, I can manage.  So are ya really gonna stay next time?"

Rose looked across at Alec and knew she would.

*A few weeks later.*

Alec was pacing his new living room, he'd got the cottage keys a few days early and he was waiting for his taxi down to Dorchester station to meet Rose, two days before his surgery.  She had talked to the replacement personnel officer since the other one had seemed to disappear suddenly and said she would take the holiday but may call to say she wasn't coming back.

Rose was on the train, nervous since she didn't know if she was going to choose to stay or not and knowing Alec wanted a decision before he went into hospital.

"Hi Alec, have ya set off yet?" Rose asked as she neared her destination.

"Yes love, the taxi has just arrived, I should be there as your train gets in, I will ask the driver to wait.  When I get well, I will get a car."

"Yeah, well you may need it if my mum comes to visit."

"How often was she planning on visiting?" he asked as he got into the cab.  "Does that mean you will stay?"

Rose sat looking out of the window, smiling to herself.  "Yes Alec, I might just stay but no more Miss Broadchurch contests."

"Oh no Rose, next year, you may not even qualify."

The End!

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