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We must stop meeting like this


This is not a new story - Blogger was refusing to save the other post when updated!

Rose Tyler, who never met The Doctor becomes a paramedic and is sent to the town of Broadchurch a few years before Danny is found on the beach. She has to attend and meets the gruff newly-arrived Alec Hardy but they keep on meeting and each time, Alec is more annoyed until Rose is the one who has to take him to hospital when he collapses in his bathroom, can she keep his secret?

The story is not updating so it's only available on fanfic or AO3.

Chapter 1
Rose Tyler, who never met The Doctor is newly qualified as a paramedic and is sent to the town of Broadchurch a few years before Danny is found on the beach. She is the one who has to attend and meets the gruff newly-arrived Alec Hardy but they keep on meeting and each time, Alec is more annoyed until Rose is the one who has to take him to hospital when he collapses in his bathroom. Can he convince her to keep his secret?

Based on Ellie telling Claire she met her husband when they were attending a traffic accident.

Rose is faced with giving evidence when her work partner turns out to be a child killer but she falls out with her friend when Ellie finds out Rose is being called as a witness for the prosecution.



Jackie Tyler was proud of her daughter, who after going back to college to finish her education, had taken an interest in joining the ambulance service and trained to be a paramedic. After six months of training, she had accepted a move to the coastal town of Broadchurch though when she arrived, she had no idea what she was walking into.

She had been there a year, being partnered with a man with a short fuse called Joe Miller but she liked his wife and their young son Tom though she never told Ellie Miller about the incidents where her husband had embarrassed her when on duty and when he offered her a ride home to her flat.

Then one day, he had some news for her.

"Hey Rose, Ellie said come over one night, she has something to tell you," Joe told her, Rose thinking he was in a better mood than usual for that time of day.

"Yeah, sounds interesting," Rose grinned as they approached the depot, glad he'd not been in one of his moods and wondered how his wife put up with him sometimes.

He'd never exactly been 'off' with her, probably because he'd thought she'd complain to Ellie about him so after checking everything was in order for the next shift, he offered her a lift but she said she was going shopping.

"That's okay Rose, I can go that way," he offered.

"Well okay then but I'll get a taxi home, thanks," she agreed, since it was a bit of a walk anyway.

Just as they turned left into the supermarket car park, the lights were about to change but he went through anyway just as a car was turning right and Joe sounded his horn at the driver, Rose clinging onto her seat as he applied the brakes.

"Moron," Joe shouted as he opened the window and the other car continued, leaving Joe stuck in the middle.

Then he realised as since nothing else was waiting to turn, continued.

"Sorry Rose, you okay?" he asked as he looked for a parking space.

"Yeah but the lights were changing Joe," she pointed out as he saw a few parking spots. "Maybe the lights at that side have a filter on them?"

"Don't think they have," he disagreed as he pulled in next to the trolley park.

"You could have dropped me by the door," Rose grinned as she picked up her shoulder bag from the floor.

"You can walk can't you?" Joe just grinned back.

Rose thought he was like Jekyll and Hyde sometimes, he could turn as fast as you could flip a coin.

"Well thanks for the ride and the scare," Rose replied, getting out.

"Don't blame me Rose," Joe told her. "Blame that moron, I was on the right side of the road, he was turning."

"Yeah, maybe? See ya on Thursday then?" she asked, trying to sound cheerful since it was her day off. "Ask Ellie when she wants me to come round."

"Yeah, I'll get her to call you. Have fun shopping, I can wait if you want?" he asked.

"Nah, I could be ages at this time, Ellie will wonder where you are," Rose smiled as she went to close the door.

Joe waved and checked behind him to reverse out, then he saw the car of the driver who had cut in front of him five minutes ago, Rose wondering why he was waiting. He stayed where he was and turned the engine off and as Rose was about to ask what he was doing, he got out.

"Go do your shopping Rose, I'm just going to leave a note on that moron's car windscreen," Joe told her.

"Aw come on, leave it Joe, he'll have learned his lesson," Rose replied.

"Maybe not but how many more drivers will he cut off eh?" he asked, leaning over and hunting for some paper in the glove box and not finding any.

He looked at Rose. "I haven't got any paper, I'm off," Rose laughed, leaving him to it.

"Thanks for your support Rose. Go on, I'll leave it, promise," he told her, closing the compartment.

So Rose went off into the store after getting a trolley, thinking nothing else about it and wondering what Ellie had to tell her. She could only think that her friend might be expecting but there would be a big gap between a new baby and their son Tom, whom she couldn't remember exactly how old he was but his friend Danny was the same age, though she'd only met him a few times.

She went round the store and half an hour later, she was just about to call for a taxi when something outside caught her eye as a few people were standing around looking to the car park at the side of the store. She was about to ask someone what was going on when two men ran across to where she was sure Joe had pulled into earlier but he'd told her he was leaving.

The next thing she knew, they were pulling two men apart and she was sure one of them was Joe Miller. Thinking she'd best stay out of it, she stood back and watched with everyone else, praying the police wouldn't be called as it would get back to Ellie, her being a detective, even if she was off duty. She heard some shouting as the men moved to one side and Joe was shrugging them off and getting into his car.

She knew she couldn't ask him about it the next time they were on duty, if he knew she'd seen some of it but she wondered if he'd waited for the driver of the other car coming out and get into the car and had either gone after him or shouted across to the other row of cars. She went back in the store and called a taxi and tried to forget about it.

When she got home, she got a call from Ellie.

"Hey Rose, were you late finishing today?" Ellie asked her.

"Not exactly, why? I went shopping afterwards though," she replied, wondering if Joe hadn't got back yet.

"Oh, it's okay, he just came in. Did he give you a lift there?" Ellie asked her.

"Yeah, sorry, he offered though, I didn't mean to worry ya if he was late back," Rose replied, hoping her friend asked no more awkward questions.

"Where have you been?" she heard Ellie ask her husband.

"I waited for Rose, I dropped her at the supermarket and offered to wait. How could she resist not paying for a taxi?" Joe was asking. "I know how long you women take at shopping."

"Sorry Ellie," Rose butted in. "It was entirely my fault, blame me. He said you had something to tell me."

"Yeah, come over tomorrow night, I'll make something nice. Get a cab though," Ellie joked.

"Yeah, 'course I will, I expect he was just doing me a favour?" Rose suggested.

Well if her covering for him meant he owed her a favour all well and good. She just hoped he appreciated her covering him for getting in a argument over something that was partly his fault to begin with but she supposed both drivers were to blame. She didn't know how the lights worked from the other side, she didn't drive.

After the news her friend was expecting a baby, she found out Joe had decided to be the one to stay at home and look after what turned out to be a boy, Rose playing the part of the doting 'Auntie Rose' when she visited. She was still a bit mad with Joe for not even thanking her for covering for him the time he'd been late home after the supermarket incident but she was relieved nothing had come of it.

Now though, she'd been partnered with another man who had a boyfriend called Jason and he couldn't wait to leave every night and she'd taken driving lessons and had qualified to drive the response vehicle, since she never actually referred to it as an ambulance.

It was now July 2013, Rose was one of the youngest serving paramedics in the county and she reckoned she deserved no more praise than any of her colleagues but something was about to happen one Friday morning that she would never forget and would change her life in more ways than one.

They were on one of their early shifts, the first week of July and Rose had elected to let Stephen drive since he'd sulk if she insisted every shift and they were called to a minor accident on the main A35 where a woman driving a small car had a bump with a 4x4 and Rose was checking her out.

"I called the police after you," the woman was telling Rose as they'd sat her in the back of the ambulance.

Stephen looked like he was about to ask what for when the other driver had gone off after they'd exchanged insurance details, which Rose only just saw as she got out at the scene.

"You did the right thing Mrs Peters," Rose had to agree, remembering other accidents she'd attended. "He should have waited for them."

Stephen looked like he wanted to say the police had better things to do, since he'd heard they'd got a new DI in the town and Rose had said her friend was away and expecting the job on her return. He expected Rose to take her friend's side when that happened and the new DI would be sorry he'd heard of the town.

She saw a patrol car pull up behind them, having seen it going up the other carriageway a few minutes earlier to turn around and Bob got out.

"Hello Rose, your turn again then?" Bob joked as he put his hat on. "I'm just showing the new DI around," he indicated to a tall man wearing a suit and a raincoat, which Rose thought was a bit odd for the beginning of the summer and who was getting out and already looked like he didn't want to be there.

Rose thought if he was Ellie's new boss, he'd have his work cut out when she came back from holiday.

"What's happened here then?" the new DI asked half-heartedly.

"Best tell us Rose," Bob encouraged her but the woman who Rose had just checked out proceeded to relay the events for her.

"So is she badly hurt then?" the new DI asked Rose as she helped the woman to her feet. "Is her car drivable?" he turned to ask Bob and without giving Rose chance to answer. "What happened, did she drive into the back of someone?" he continued as he went to look at the damage, since the car was just in front of the ambulance. "Why did the other driver leave the scene?"

Since he'd gone off to take a look, Rose just grinned at Bob.

"Blimey, is he always like that?" she asked him. "Just wait here Mrs Peters while they see if your car's okay to drive," she told the woman who wanted to be off, a plaster on her forehead where Rose had placed it and assumed she'd hit her head on the steering wheel but it didn't look like the airbag had deployed.

"How would I know?" Bob grinned back, "He only started yesterday but it seems like he's been here for a week already. I pity poor Ellie when she comes back."

"So do I," Rose agreed as she took the woman's arm and Stephen was trying to get a good look at the new DI, Rose scowling at him that he had a boyfriend already.

Bob went off to join the new DI, Rose and the woman following. The woman was allowed to drive off but Bob advised her to get the car checked out before she went anywhere else and Bob and the new DI walked back to where Rose and Stephen were closing the ambulance door.

"Is she okay to drive?" Bob asked Rose again.

"Yeah, I checked for concussion, she seems fine, just a bit shaken. She said the car in front slowed down suddenly and she tried to do the same, she said there had been no warning."

"Yes, she told me that and gave me the other registration number," Bob replied, putting his notebook away as the new DI was doing the same. "I'll follow up on it since she reported it."

Stephen had already got back in the driver's seat and was waiting for Rose.

"Come on Rose, we have another call," he shouted out of the window.

"Right, duty calls," Rose smiled as the new DI passed her to get back in the squad car. "So, who is he then?" she asked, thinking the man was a bit rude and did nothing but ask questions and gave no-one chance to answer.

"Oh, he's called Hardy, he just got a transfer, don't know from where," Bob replied, taking his hat off.

Rose waved to them both, a bit shocked the DI gave a little wave back then she got into the cab.

"Stephen, I'll tell Jason if you're not careful," she teased him, putting her seatbelt on and Stephen switching on the lights and siren while checking the road, the police car letting them go first.

"Rose Tyler, I don't know what you mean," he laughed. "You were the one who was watching him," he teased back.

"Was not," Rose denied. "Anyway, he won't last five minutes when Ellie gets back from holiday, he'll be on the first bus out of here."

"He might have a car Rose," Stephen replied as cars moved to let them through the roundabout.

"Do I look like I'm bothered?" Rose replied, checking where they were going, which was just at the other side and thankfully not the harbour.

"Yeah, not much," Stephen laughed as he turned off to where they wanted.

As Bob had driven off with the new DI and turned off to the harbour, he was asked if he knew all the ambulance crews.

"Yeah, pretty much Sir, they cover the harbour and the town and halfway to Lyme then down towards Axhampton, just before you get to Dorchester," Bob replied. "You had enough or are you staying with me a bit longer?"

"Just do what you'd normally be doing, if that includes going back to the station but if not, you can patrol around for a bit," was the reply.

"Right then Sir, I'll turn off on the coastal road then, the scenic route," Bob replied, seeing the new DI didn't look amused though he'd cracked half a smile and waved at Rose as she got back in the ambulance.

"I'm not here for the scenery, the sun or the sea," the DI informed him as they turned right before the harbour, him seeing a white cottage halfway up a cliff and wondered who the hell had thought of building it there and who would be stupid enough to live there.

He thought as if passing a blue chalet that stuck out by the side of the river wasn't bad enough, no-one would catch him living in either of them. While it was true he wasn't in the town for a holiday, he was there to keep his head down, stay out of trouble and hope he'd get away with his medical file being kept up to date by his friend and hoping no-one would find out about his heart condition.

Now he wasn't so sure he could keep out of the spotlight if he kept bumping into a certain female paramedic at call-outs, not because she may spot there was something wrong with him but because she was young and blonde – a deadly combination if ever there was one and she'd do nothing to help. As they drove to the next village and Bob turned left to go join the main road, he just hoped the ambulance she'd gone off in had finished wherever they'd gone and he wouldn't have to pass her again.

The chances of not bumping into her again were very slim in the fact there couldn't be all that many ambulances in the area and their paths would cross again sooner or later – he just hoped he could survive without it being her that was called if he didn't get his illness sorted out. His plan had been to get out of the spotlight and let Sandbrook die down then the coming bank holiday, he'd check into the hospital in Dorchester on the Friday afternoon, get his surgery then he'd have until Tuesday to recover – well that was his plan.

Little did he know events were leading up to him getting worse and having to put it off yet again after his friend had assured him now he was off a high profile case and moved to a quiet town, his chances had improved somewhat so he'd made his mind up to get it over with, spend six months here then go somewhere else. That was going to be easier said than done as they took the road back to the harbour and less than a week later, his plans would be spoiled and he'd have had several more encounters with whom the sergeant driving him had called Rose.

He knew he was already doomed, not that he fancied the blonde or anything, so he tried to tell himself.

Chapter 2
Rose tried to forget about her encounter with whom Bob had called Alec Hardy. She really hoped she wouldn't keep bumping into him but since it was unlikely the sergeant would be driving him around on his patrols once Ellie came back to work, she hoped to keep their 'meetings' to a minimum.

Steven continued to tease Rose about the scruffy detective as he called Alec Hardy but soon gave up when Rose refused to talk to him.

"Come on Rose, I was just having a bit of fun," he told her as they returned to the depot on the following Monday night.

"Okay then, truce but there's little chance if we bump into him again he'll even talk to me. You can make it up to me by letting me do the driving tomorrow or I might forget," she relented.

"As if," Steven laughed as he checked everything was in order. "You getting a taxi again?"

"Yeah, I should think about getting a car but the insurance would cost me more than the car's worth," she grinned, getting her locker key off her keyring attached to her belt loop.

"That's because you'll get no discount Rose," Steven laughed. "I bet you have to pay more in taxi fares?"

"Maybe but I don't have to find the money all at once," Rose replied, getting her jacket out.

"Bet you can afford it though, what do you do with all your money?" Steven joked. "When's your mum coming down again then? She's a good laugh in the pub."

"Maybe at the end of August, if I can get the time off?" Rose told him.

"You know there are plenty of reserves dying to make a bit of extra cash over the bank holiday," he replied, closing his locker. "Right, see you tomorrow then? Don't forget we're on late, I wish they'd sort these shifts out, the moron who came up with them should try working them."

"Good thing Jason's the understanding type," Rose replied, getting her phone out to call Budmouth Taxis, since they knew her but all the time she'd been using them, the friendly controller had never bothered giving her name though all Rose had to do was give hers and where she was.

She just wished it wasn't always that creep Clive, who preferred being called by his surname. She wondered if Alec Hardy preferred being called just 'Hardy' but where had that line of thought come from? She'd managed not to think about him since she met him at the traffic accident, until her work partner had kindly reminded her all day.

Unfortunately for Rose, after her day off on Thursday, her wishing they'd sort days off out as well as the hours, she was on early shift the following morning starting at six thirty and they had just got into the dispatch office to sign in when the operator called them.

"Got a call to go to Harbour Cliff Beach," Steven told Rose as he was handed the details, since that was part of their coverage.

"At this time?" Rose wondered, hoping to grab a coffee from the machine since the new catering manager had got a new machine that served her favourite brand in the red cartons. "So what's happened then?" she yawned, glad for once he was doing the driving though she meant to suggest they split it again as they'd done the other day.

Steven didn't really want to tell her when he read the finer details.

"Someone's been found on the beach, the caller didn't give a lot of details," he lied, putting the slip of paper on his clipboard that Rose always teased him about.

"Come on Steven, tell me, I'll just find out when we get there," she insisted.

"Then you'll find out when we get there Rose, the person who called it in didn't check, okay? Whoever it is could just be unconscious but the operator's called it in to the police station," he told her sternly.

Since he'd had more experience than she'd had, she knew when he wasn't joking around and since he'd not teased her about the new DI being the one who pulled the short straw, he meant business. She had decided after Joe Miller had left she would bow to her new partner's experience, she still could learn something from him, unlike her former partner.

Avoiding putting the siren on until they got near the harbour car park, he put it on as they approached the police cars that had been sent. Meanwhile, Bob had been sent to collect who everyone called the grumpy DI from his hotel to attend a farm break-in on the cliff top as Rose and Steven made their way to the beach.

As Alec Hardy was putting his notebook away after complaining the incident didn't need his attention at that time in the morning, Bob was taking the radio call.

"Well you wanted to know what was going on around here Sir," Bob told him as they got back in the patrol car. "Seems someone's been found on Harbour Cliff Beach, two units are already there and the ambulance has just arrived, they want you to attend."

"Really? Aren't there any junior officers around or is it too early for them as well?" Hardy replied sarcastically as Bob drove off.

"I expect whoever's on duty at this time are busy elsewhere Sir, from today your DS will be back and she'll have the pleasure of driving you around," Bob replied, hoping Hardy wouldn't reprimand him when they got back to the station.

Even though it was early, the sun was already out and Alec thought it was just his luck to get sent here of all places, near the water he hated since finding young Pippa in the overflowing river, what seemed like only yesterday. They arrived at the car park, Alec sincerely hoping whoever the ambulance crew were, the young blonde he only knew as Rose wasn't part of it.

He knew she was a paramedic and unless whoever had been found had been reported as unconscious, just an ambulance crew would have been called. As the police tape was held up for him and he dodged underneath it, Bob remained to help control the crowd that was already gathering, Alec noticing a woman looking disinterested and smoking away.

As he walked towards where he could see the ambulance crew, he knew one of them was Rose, unless the service employed more than one petite blonde and he doubted that somehow.

"Please don't let it be her," he mumbled to himself as he gripped his hands together, feeling the panic of an attack already coming on.

Then as the male attendant moved to one side, he could tell whoever was laid face down on the beach was only a boy, probably a bit younger than his daughter but around the same age as Pippa. Rose looked up as she shook her head at Steven as he'd examined the boy first and was about to cover him with a blanket. They had tried to revive the young boy Rose had immediately identified as Danny Latimer and Steven had taken over, knowing Rose would be upset.

As they'd got to where Danny was lying, Rose had gasped.

"It's Danny," was all she could manage to say, Steven holding her back and passing the bag and blanket to her, having left the trolley in the ambulance until they assessed whoever had been found.

Steven had crouched down and took the boy's wrist, shaking his head.

"We have to try Steven," Rose reminded him, going in the medical bag and getting an oxygen mask attached to a small canister out.

"I know Rose, let me do it but until the coroner gets here, we don't know when this happened. Look at the bruising on his neck though," Steven pointed out as he turned the boy over.

"Leave that for the police," Rose reminded him as she knelt at the other side, putting the mask on but she knew deep down they were too late. "I'm glad it's not our job to tell his parents, who could have just left him here?"

Steven couldn't answer but he'd love to get his hands on whoever it was and show them what it was like. He'd just got up, leaving Rose where she was as Hardy approached.

"So, what's going on then?" Hardy asked Steven, him thinking that must be the new DI's standard approach to everything.

"Sir, an eleven year old boy, we suspect he was already dead when we got here but we did try, both of us to revive him, since the person who called it in didn't know how long he'd been here. We thought at first he was unconscious but had only just expired, we had to try, just in case. Rose knows him."

Hardy got up and offered Rose his hand to help her up and Rose being dazed took it.

"Then who is he?"

She was about to answer when she saw Ellie approaching, who saw it was Rose in attendance and who was talking to who had probably just stolen her job from under her nose while she'd been away.

"No, no, no," Ellie was saying as Hardy turned around, trying to avoid getting dizzy and hitching a ride to the hospital while he had two paramedics on hand.

"Who let you through, get out of here now," Hardy insisted.

"I'm DS Miller, that's Danny, I know him. Rose, tell me he's not dead?" she asked her friend as she shoved her ID at Hardy.

Rose could only shake her head. "I'm sorry Ellie, there was nothing we could do for him, we did try," she replied as Hardy held Ellie's ID out to her.

"Alec Hardy, I'm the new DI," he said to Ellie, Rose thinking that was more than she'd got out of him last week.

"I know, you got my job," Ellie replied angrily, making Steven try to hide a smile as he'd known there would be trouble when the two of them eventually met.

"Really, are we going to do this now?" Hardy just replied as Rose realised she had been handed the green blanket and was covering the boy.

"Are you two gonna argue who got who's job all morning?" Rose asked as she got up again.

They both turned to her.

"Rose, was he dead when you got here?" Ellie asked her, ignoring the man who had taken her job.

She had stormed out of the chief's office after being happy to be back at work and had been expecting confirmation of her promotion. Now though, would she have wanted it since her best friend's son was lying face down on the beach, since Steven had turned him back over until they'd got him covered. Ellie though was not going to admit to who had fast become her annoying new Scottish boss that he could keep the job if it meant he'd take all the responsibility for finding out who killed Danny.

"So will someone tell me who he is?" Hardy turned to Ellie, then looked at Steven then not too quickly turned back to Rose.

"He's Danny Latimer, 11 years old. His family live in the town and he goes to school with DS Miller's son," Rose replied, recovering slightly more than her friend Ellie was doing at the moment.

Rose could see someone in a red dress duck under the police tape as the officers were occupied and knew immediately it had to be Beth, although Rose didn't really know her that well, not like Ellie did. She pointed beyond the other three and Ellie turned, running as best as she could on the stoney beach to stop her friend.

"No, not my Danny," Beth was crying out as Rose hadn't covered the boy's trainers, thinking that was the least important part of him to cover.

"Beth, you can't be here," Ellie told her as two officers, one of them being Bob tried to stop her but Beth was still calling her son's name.

"Get her out of here," Hardy was insisting, trying to grab Beth without hurting her and causing himself any harm.

Rose was blinking in the sunlight, wishing they were allowed to wear sunglasses while in attendance but since the situation involved only the police, got them out of her shirt pocket and put them on, Hardy now staring at her as he turned back, slowly. Beth was just being taken away when the coroner arrived, followed by a forensics team, Rose noticing Brian leading them and cringed.

She hated him as much as the cab driver, since she seemed to be the number one target for the creeps of Broadchurch. She knew she should get a boyfriend but with the hours she worked, no-one would put up with her, well maybe except the cab driver and the head CSI.

Eventually, the coroner decided they should take Danny back to the hospital, since technically Rose and Steven's job didn't include transporting the deceased and they'd only been sent partly because it was in the area they covered and partly because whoever had called the emergency number hadn't checked to see if the boy was alive or not.

Steven picked up the medical bag as Rose got the blanket back and he put his hand on Rose's shoulder.

"Back to work Rose, goodness knows how many calls we've missed, we'll have the other teams on to us," he grinned, trying to lighten the mood, not that he thought the DS and the DI looked too amused.

Hardy watched them walk off then began asking Ellie questions, Ellie wishing she'd stayed off another day, as if jet-lag wasn't enough to cope with, her new boss was already getting her annoyed and was irritating.

Steven checked in with headquarters and they were back in the real world, being sent to someone who had fainted in the supermarket, the same one Rose used where a few years ago, she'd seen Joe Miller lay into a bloke for jumping the traffic lights when he'd just done the same.

Steven was trying to cheer Rose up.

"Bet you someone's fainted over a price increase?" he laughed as he put the siren on, since people were still trying to find out what had happened on the beach and cars were stopped as the drivers thought spaces would miraculously appear when it was obvious the place was full. "Wish they'd all realise there are another two car parks," he huffed as he tried to get out of the road by the mini roundabout.

"Yeah but then they'd have to walk further to the beach," Rose tried to joke. "We might have to go back to treat them for exhaustion. You're not gonna tell on me for putting my sunglasses on at the scene are ya?"

Steven pretended to put on a serious face.

"I should do, being the senior paramedic. Aw, don't pull a face at me Rose, I'd have put mine on but I left them on the dashboard," he grinned, reaching for them as they reached the main roundabout.

Sometimes Rose had to wonder how he could drive and do other things at the same time, unlike Joe Miller who always gripped the steering wheel with both hands that made his knuckles go white and she thought she'd have to prise his hands off sometimes, not that she would have enjoyed doing so. She thought he may have believed if he let go the ambulance would drive itself and do him out of a job.

Ellie and Hardy were on top of the cliff after she got a call from Brian, who had gone off after organising his team putting up two tents. It amused Ellie that the new DI had done nothing but stare at Rose on the beach and had been gruff twice to Brian Young.

"A good morning would have been nice," Brian had greeted them on the cliff top after Hardy asked him if the boy had fallen but he'd doubted it.

"No, it's the wrong angle, not how the boy was found and the paramedics would have only turned him over to see if he was still breathing," Brian replied. "They would have put him back as they found him Sir. There's no sign anyone was at the edge of the cliff."

"It's a bit dangerous, why no fencing up here?" Hardy asked no-one in particular.

"It's the coastal path, everyone knows to stay away from the edge," Ellie replied, wishing he'd stop asking stupid questions.

Brian just shook his head, silently wishing her good luck at working with the new DI and glad he was out of the way. They walked off towards the next part of the beach as Ellie had driven round to the end of the caravan park that was there and were discussing how the boy had got on the beach when Hardy saw a man approach them, spying a badge around his neck.

"Ellie, DS Miller," the new arrival shouted as she and Hardy got to her car.

"Who's that?" Hardy asked her.

"No-one, ignore him," Ellie replied, unlocking the car doors remotely.

"Well he knows you," Hardy nodded towards the other man.

"No statement at this time Oliver," Ellie told him sternly and got in the car.

As they drove off, Hardy saw who Miller had just called Oliver in the rear mirror.

"So who is he?" he asked her.

"He's my nephew, he must have followed us," she replied, a bit annoyed.

"You don't say?" Hardy mused. "So you know the paramedics as well?"

"Only Rose, I don't know her partner all that well," she replied, not wanting to say too much. "Have you met them before?"

"Last week when I was being shown around, on the main road at a traffic incident," he admitted.

Ellie glanced at him in the mirror, wondering why he was asking. As if Rose would be remotely interested in a scruffy Scottish detective? Why had he got so annoyed about it though? He'd stared at Rose when she'd answered him and when she'd put the blanket on Danny. As they drove to the Latimer house, Ellie knew there was going to be trouble.

As they broke the news, Ellie made some drinks and Beth wanted to know why the paramedics were there.

"It seems whoever found Danny on the beach didn't know if he was just unconscious Beth," Ellie was telling her. "In those cases, they would have been sent to see."

"Was it Rose?" Chloe asked her.

"Yeah, she was very upset but she did her job," Ellie replied, looking at her new boss.

When they got outside, Hardy stopped Ellie.

"What was that about? Does everyone in the town know the female paramedic?"

"Most people know her around here, it's a seaside town, we get a lot of tourists who think they can attempt things like climbing the side of the cliff and have breathing difficulties or kids that stand on something on the beach or in the water, it's part of their area," she tried to explain. "Are you sure you only met her once?" she asked him.

Hardy shook his head. Why was the blonde getting to him? After a hectic weekend for the detectives, Rose having always got Sunday off but never knew when her other day off was, on the Monday morning she and Steven were called to an incident at the harbour newsagents when Jack Marshall had just had an argument with Hardy and he felt faint. Hardy had seen the ambulance head towards where they'd just come from when he and Ellie stopped to get a drink from one of the food stalls.

"What's the problem Sir?" Ellie asked him as he could just make out Rose going into the shop.

"Nothing, why have they been called there?" he wondered.

"Maybe he got annoyed with you asking him questions?" Ellie grinned as she finished her drink. "Why not go find out?"

Before she could protest, he threw the drink carton into the bin and set off back to the newsagents where Steven was checking Jack.

"What caused you to feel unwell?" Rose was asking him, having taken his pulse

"That damn new DI, that's who," Jack replied, feeling a bit better.

Steven suppressed a smile. "Seems he's ruffling a few feathers around here?"

"It's not our problem," Rose reminded him. "You'll be okay Jack, don't let him get to you. If everyone did, we'd be rushed off our feet. It seems DI Hardy is out to get annoyed with everyone he meets."

"Yeah, we've had first hand experience," Steven tried to joke. "Well at least Rose has, haven't you Rose?"

They gathered their things and were just going outside when Hardy was looking in the window.

"I might have known it would be you," Hardy told Rose as Steven went back to the ambulance, leaving her to it.

"This is our area, you'd better get used to it," Rose replied, hoping she sounded as rude as he was – he wasn't her boss. "You might want to go easy the next time you ask someone questions."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Hardy asked.

Steven beeped the horn at Rose, making her jump.

"You're a detective, you'll figure it out," Rose replied, making her retreat and leaving Hardy staring after her.

As she climbed into the cab, she thanked Steven for his support.

"Thanks for leaving me," she told him as she fastened her seatbelt.

"I didn't know you needed any help?" Steven just grinned as he reversed out of the parking space in front of the few shops. "So he does only get annoyed at you then? I wonder why?"

"How would I know?" Rose replied as Hardy stood by the post-box and watched them drive off.

Hardy was wondering exactly the same thing, why was she getting to him?

Chapter 3
A/N: Don't quote me on paramedic practices, it's just to fit in with the story. Also, events may be in a different order.

Hardy watched them drive off, noting the man with her hadn't put the siren on so they either didn't have another call and he was saving her from a confrontation or was afraid she would really lay into him. He shook his head then turned back where he'd just come from but why had he walked away from Miller just to see why the paramedic was at the newsagents?

Should he take heed of what she'd just said and go easy on people? He knew it never worked when he was nice to people – Sandbrook had taught him that and look where it had got him? A nasty divorce, a teenage daughter who barely acknowledged he existed and a heart condition, that if he didn't keep away from the blonde who had just told him off would only get worse.

He had a meeting with his friend later that night, wishing he'd mentioned to bring him some more pills but he would probably manage and if not, he'd just have to have a prescription posted to him and go to the next town to fill it, he didn't like small towns, everyone knew your business.

Rose and Steven took a break for lunch and Steven was asking what all that was about outside the newsagents.

"Whatcha asking me for?" Rose asked him in the staff canteen.

"Come off it Rose, you didn't have to stop and talk to him," Steven grinned.

"Well he stopped me, in case ya hadn't noticed," she reminded him.

"I hope you didn't tell him why we were there?"

"He's the police, if he'd asked, I was obliged to tell him but he didn't ask," she replied.

"Did you even give him chance?" Steven teased her. He saw the look on her face. "No, I didn't think so Rose. He's been here less than two weeks and you're letting him get to you."

"He is not getting to me," Rose tried to convince him but had she stopped thinking about Alec Hardy since the traffic accident where she'd first met him?

She had tried but was she trying hard enough? They would keep running into each other no matter how much they tried to avoid it and it would be just like him to go out of his way to do so. She could hardly call Ellie and ask her to keep her new boss busy enough to stop him turning up if they got a call out by the harbour and he happened to be out at the time or if he and Ellie got a call to attend.

Fortunately, they didn't get many calls where someone had died, it was only when a caller wasn't sure or if it happened while they were on their way. She was still trying to come to terms with trying to revive Danny and she was getting nowhere.

"Earth to Rose Tyler," Steven grinned. "Rose, I know finding Danny on the beach was hard, you should go see a counsellor, something like that doesn't go away easily, trust me. Did I tell you about that old woman who died at the scene when I was partnered with Vince, before we worked together?"

Rose shook her head, debating if she should go get another latte', damn that new catering manager opting to put a machine in that dispensed her favourite brand.

"We thought she had just passed out, no-one had attempted to check but it wasn't pretty when we moved her when she was slumped over the wheel and the other driver only had a few scrapes. What I'm trying to say Rose is that sometimes, it's unavoidable and so far, you've been lucky. They don't send any of us paramedics to the scene where it's certain someone has died, we just got unlucky last Friday. Are you getting another drink or not? You know what you're like when you have two," he grinned.

"I couldn't even talk to my mum about it, except the basics, I know the rules and trust me, she tried to get me to tell her," Rose tried to smile back.

"Yeah, I bet she did," Steven replied as he got up. "I guess she won't be coming down then?"

"Nope, maybe the late bank holiday, if the killer's been caught by then. Hardy must have been sent here for a reason though no-one could have known that was gonna happen," Rose replied as she got up, smiling at Steven fussing over clearing up and guessed he took charge at home.

"Well maybe it was just as well he did though I doubt Ellie would agree with you but I don't recall her being in charge of any murder investigations. I bet she's already rubbed it in Hardy's face about where he was before?"

"Yeah, I bet she did. I've not had the chance to talk to her and ask how her holiday went even, I would have caught up with her and when I worked with Joe, he'd have told me."

"Rose, remember you told me how he could easily lose his temper?" Steven reminded her. "You'd best let her contact you, if she's working all hours now, he won't thank you for going round and being nosy."

"Yeah, I know Steven. Come on then, let's go wait for a call."

"Cheer up Rose, you've got Wednesday off," he tried to cheer her up. "Use the time and get some help eh?"

"I'll think about it, it doesn't help all the time though but I might just go see Paul instead, it's less formal and he won't write a report," she smiled as they drove off.

Alec had gone back to the office and Ellie shook her head. She'd wondered why he'd been so interested in why the ambulance was by the shops and knew it was bound to be Rose and Steven. Maybe Jack hadn't liked the way her new boss had questioned him?

She made her mind up to call Rose later but with the hours Rose now worked, she never knew when it was safe to do so, which was why when Fred had come along, they'd decided it was too much and at least she herself worked regular hours. She didn't know why anyone put up with it but she was now faced with doing the same, thanks to a child killer.

They had to go out later and she took the chance to ask him.

"What's this Miller, an interrogation?" he asked.

"No, it was a simple enough question – Sir," she replied, trying to be civil, unlike him. "We don't have time to follow the paramedics around, just because you were at an accident scene at the same time," she reminded him.

"Who says I want to follow them around?" he asked indignantly, hoping she wasn't onto him that if he admitted it, which he wouldn't, he'd just wanted to know if it was Rose who was there and she'd taken him by surprise – which he'd had to cover when she came out.

Now he knew she covered that area and around where that accident had occurred, what seemed like ages ago, before all this had been dumped on him – revenge for screwing Sandbrook up but hang on, that was Tess who had done that and he'd been stupid enough to try to cover for her.

Well at least he'd been cleared on that score but not publicly and Claire Ripley had gone missing, he just hoped she'd not followed him. Right now, she was the last person he wanted to see, which was probably why the blonde paramedic had taken her place in the trying to annoy him department. Well unlike Claire, Rose was going nowhere so like it or not, they would keep coming across each other and he didn't even know her surname.

Rose was preparing to go home just after four, wishing someone would sort out the hours and take notice no-one liked them. She took the chance to call Ellie and see if she was free to talk.

"I'm a bit busy Rose, is it urgent?" she asked, turning some pages in a folder, annoyed that Hardy had asked her to bring Tom in to ask him about being friends with Danny. "Oh, we might need to ask you a few questions, when are you free? We'll need to talk to Steven as well."

"Oh, didn't you get the report we filed?" Rose asked, never being questioned before about any attendances they'd made but this was the first murder victim they'd come across.

"Yes we did but you know as well as I do Rose, not everything goes in a report," she reminded her friend. "We also have some more questions for you, about something that happened before Danny was found."

"Well I can come in on Wednesday," Rose offered.

"That's fine, would nine be okay, I'll call if we're not going to be in," Ellie replied.

"Don't you trust your boss to question me?" Rose joked.

"No, he doesn't trust me to interview you on my own, since we're friends," Ellie told her, wondering what she meant by that remark. "Is there something you want to tell me Rose?"

Rose knew she should have kept quiet but her surname was Tyler – it was something they failed at.

"Ah, no, I don't think so Ellie?" Rose tried not to laugh.

"Not even why Hardy turned around when he saw an ambulance earlier?" Ellie questioned.

"Nothing to do with me Ellie," Rose replied. "It's not my problem he's so nosy, is it?"

Ellie tried to suppress a laugh, her new boss was nosy, nosy wasn't a strong enough word and her husband was repeatedly telling her to be nice to him and annoy him even more.

"Well you'd met while I was away," Ellie reminded her.

"So? What's that supposed to mean?" Rose asked.

"Sorry Rose, things are just getting on top of me. Why don't you come over one night, when you know what hours you're working?" Ellie suggested, not wanting to lose a friend.

"Well I'd know what hours I was working if they got their acts together," Rose sighed. "Well at least we sorted days off, instead of messing around, that's something. So, what about your holiday?"

"It was fine, we should catch up sometime but Joe wasn't in a very good mood about something and I swore I'd saved up more than we actually had. I got you a present, it's still at home. I was so looking forward to coming back and getting that promotion Rose."

"Yeah Ellie, I'm sorry, I know you were," Rose tried to console her. "Yeah, I'll come down on Wednesday then, just don't leave me with your boss," she laughed.

"I'll try not to but the way he was when he saw you on the beach last Friday?" she teased her friend.

"Stop it Ellie," Rose protested.

"Well maybe when I know you're coming round for dinner, I'll take Joe's advice and ask Hardy at the same time," she laughed.

"I won't come round if ya do Ellie, you're not playing matchmaker with me, not after Olly," Rose warned her.

"I said I was sorry about that," Ellie told her, knowing the two of them had one date and Rose had sworn she had to restrain herself from punching him in the face. "How was I to know he wasn't your type?"

"Yeah, well he wasn't, he just grinned at me like a schoolboy all night then had the cheek to ask to go home with me so he wouldn't bump into his mother sneaking me in. Is he behaving now you've got a murder on your hands?" she asked Ellie.

"Not exactly, he released Danny's name on social media before Hardy told the press. Beth and Mark weren't happy about it and Hardy chewed me out in front of everyone. Then Joe tells me to ask him round for dinner. I have to go, see you Wednesday morning."

Rose wondered why she'd cut their conversation short. Hardy had gone to stand in front of her desk.

"I hope that wasn't a personal call Miller?" he asked, still not in a good mood after not finding out why the paramedics had been called to the newsagents and it wasn't likely Jack Marshall would tell him even if he asked.

"No Sir, I was asking Rose to call in on her day off since you wanted a statement from her and her partner. She's coming in first thing on Wednesday morning."

"Did you ask what they were doing at the newsagents earlier?" he asked, hoping she'd been able to find out to save him continuing to wonder about it.

"I wasn't aware I was supposed to?" she replied, wishing he'd go away and she'd only been working with him a few days.

"What about the other one?" he asked, wanting to get the full story. "Did you tell her what the other reason was?"

"No, I didn't think you'd want me to, considering it's to see if Mark's telling the truth about what happened when they were fishing," she replied.

Alec thought well at least she knew something, that of not revealing information and giving someone time to think about what they were going to say, unlike Mark Latimer's rubbish alibi that they'd pulled to pieces earlier.

"Well let's see what she has to say, get her partner in later on in the day, the more we know the better. Beth and Mark want to know why the paramedics were sent that morning and so do I. How does that work out?" he asked, wondering if it differed from county to county.

Ellie was about to say how was she supposed to know but her smart-ass boss would find out sooner or later.

"My husband used to be a paramedic," she admitted as people were leaving for the night. "He gave up because the shifts were being re-arranged. He and Rose worked together."

"Really? She seems very young to be doing that sort of work."

"She did her training, they don't deal with any real emergencies or any life-threatening situations though I can't speak for all health authorities. They would have been sent to the beach if the person who called hadn't checked Danny, which under the circumstances, they did the right thing. Otherwise, more fingerprints would have been found on him. That's why the coroner transported him. They deal with minor incidents, it cuts down on visits to the emergency department but it's never abused, they have a strict criteria before anyone's sent out."

"You mean if someone can't get a doctor's appointment or they fall down drunk coming out of the pub?" he tried to joke.

"Mostly but whether someone's drunk too much or not, they're treated if they get injured. Like I said, I can't say that's the case elsewhere but Joe worked in Liverpool before he came here, we actually met at call-outs."

That was all he needed, he thought.

"So they still transport anyone if need be?" he asked, just in case he ever needed their assistance but he prayed it wouldn't be Rose.

"Well yeah, though unless like with Danny, the call wasn't clear. Planning on using them?" she joked.

"No, any reason why I should?" he replied, wondering if she was onto him. "Right, we'll call it a night, I have to be somewhere. We also need to speak to your son, Tom was it? Get your husband to bring him in."

"Fine, I'll tell him then. Sir, what if the paramedics didn't attend to Danny like Mark said?"

"Then that raises a few questions Miller, ask Chloe first though," he replied.

"Why not just ask her anyway?" Ellie wondered.

Was he just making up excuses to get Rose in for questioning or was there something else behind it? He went off to his office to get his jacket, leaving Ellie to wonder why suddenly he was in a hurry to leave early.

"Have you spoken to the family?" he asked as he was about to leave.

"About what?" she wanted to know.

"That list you brought back, why would they do that?" he asked.

"They want some closure I suppose?" she replied.

Hardy stood and stared at her. "Is that directed at me? How long have you been going to bring that up?"

"You said that, not me," Ellie told him. "You let someone get away, people don't forget that easily."

"I'm not discussing it. Oh, by the way, we should organise a reconstruction of Danny's movements, jog people's memories. Thursday night, one week on, ask Tom to lead it."

"What? No, absolutely not, he's been through enough," she protested.

"Well ask him, it's up to him," he insisted.

"No, I'm his mother, I decide," she snapped at him.

"Oh so your loyalty to this investigation stops outside of work?" he asked.

"Sir, with respect, that's not fair, everyone is upset and Tom hasn't been sleeping so back off," she replied. She saw he wasn't looking that bothered, he must be used to it.

She put her head in her hands as he began to move away.

"You’re invited to dinner, pick a night," she continued, thinking maybe if she asked now, it would get Tom out of the reconstruction.

"What?" he asked, surprised she'd even asked, he wasn't high on anyone's social list. "Why?"

"It's what people do when someone new arrives, they ask their boss to dinner. Know many people around here?" she asked.

Alec thought maybe he didn't, he hadn't even got Rose's surname and she definitely wasn't on his social list.

"What would we talk about, work?" he hesitated.

"No, anything but, just say yes. I can invite Rose if you like?" she suggested.

"It's not a good idea Miller," he still protested, shuddering at the thought of his DS telling her friend then them both talk about him before and after the event.

"Do you have to be such an ass about it?" she asked, forgetting the 'Sir' since he was on his way out. "Just say yes."

He stood and thought about it, it would be an excuse to at least get Rose to talk to him without telling him he should go easy on people he talked to.

"Yes," he agreed reluctantly.

"What was so hard about that?" she asked. "I'll not ask Rose if it makes you uncomfortable."

"Yes, I'd rather her not be there, she chewed me out earlier," he admitted.

Ellie stifled a laugh, it served him right. "You probably deserved it," she replied. "Thought you had to be somewhere?"

He had but not until later, maybe he'd walk down to the newsagents and see if the man was willing to share? Yeah Hardy, he told himself, like that was as likely to happen as Rose agreeing to go to the Miller house and have dinner the same time as he was there. That was why he'd not been too keen.

He decided against it, went back to the hotel and actually eat there for a change then made his way back to meet his friend on the pier.

"This is a bit cloak and dagger Alec," his friend greeted him. "Why the secrecy?"

"It's a small town, everyone gets to know things," he replied. "So what did you think of what I sent you?" he dared to ask.

"It's not good Alec, now you've got yourself into the middle of a murder investigation, you have to go easy."

"I can't, I have to see this through, people remember what happened on my last case. Besides, they have paramedics here, I can call if I need to, they can't tell anyone what they treat me for," he replied.

"Seriously? That's your solution Alec?" he was asked.

"Well that and I forgot to ask you to bring me some more pills, can you send a prescription to the hotel?" he wanted to know.

His friend shook his head. "You know they have paramedics then? Met them already?" his friend laughed.

"Yes but not for personal reasons. The female one told me off today when I asked what she was doing at the newsagent's I was in earlier asking question," he admitted.

"Well that was a good start then Alec, best hope they don't send her if you need one. Sure you weren't flirting with her?" his friend grinned. "So do you like it here?"

"No, I hate it, too much water," he grinned back, staring into the distance. "The people are annoying, they're telling lies for each other already and it's only been a few days."

"So why stay Alec? I can get you out on medical grounds, I'll see you get full benefits."

"That's not me, I can't sit back and let another killer get away. Just send me some more pills," he replied.

"Well you'd best hope you don't need them before you can get to the pharmacy then Alec," his friend replied. "I could have brought some if I'd known."

"I never realised I was so low," he lied, the truth being he didn't want to admit he was so low on them.

"Well just because one of the paramedics is female, don't think that will save your ass," his friend laughed. "Take care Alec, I'll post one out to you first thing tomorrow morning but it's only any good if you actually go get them. If you don't, it's all over."

"Ah, you bloody doctors, do as I say or else," Alec joked.

"I mean it Alec, don't leave it too late or even the paramedics won't be able to save you."

Alec sat a while after his friend left, thinking about what he'd just been told. Did he actually want to risk his life by the paramedics, in particular Rose getting to him in time if he collapsed somewhere? Rose had seemed out of sorts on the beach last Friday at seeing Danny lying there, how would it make her feel to find him and not know if they could bring him round or not before they got him to hospital?

If he was found and someone called it in, they wouldn't know what his condition was, Rose and her partner would be sent, depending where he was but how would it make Rose feel if she was the one attending to him, since he'd only seen the man driving and would she ever recover if he died on her?

He got up and made his mind up that whatever happened, he couldn't keep putting his appointment off but the upcoming bank holiday was cutting it a bit close, maybe he could last until the later one, only in the UK could they have two holidays in the same month. He just hoped he'd last that long and he'd call the appointments office at the hospital tomorrow and change it yet again but would he keep it this time?

Rose had wondered why Ellie was a bit off, especially over their holiday and wished they'd had more time to talk but if she suggested Alec Hardy was invited for dinner at the same time, well she could soon go off people.

Chapter 4
A/N: Events may not take place in the same order as the series to suit the purpose of the story.


The next morning before he set off to work wishing it wasn't only Tuesday, he managed to call the hospital appointments line before he got put to number 99 or higher in a queue for his call to be answered. Since he was new to the area, he didn't get the usual woman answering with her attitude of 'not again Mr Hardy' when she heard his voice, let alone his name.

"No, I am not putting it off completely, I just want to put it back a few weeks, I'm in the middle of something right now," he insisted.

"Like a murder investigation?" the woman suggested. "Don't worry Mr Hardy, I'm sworn by ethics not to reveal your medical details to anyone but I doubt there's more than one Alec Hardy trying to find a child killer?"

Alec mumbled something he hoped she'd not heard.

"I can fit you in at 3.30 pm on Friday 25th," she suggested.

"August this year?" he replied, thinking she meant next.

"Yes Mr Hardy, you did say you wanted it to be a bank holiday weekend? Though it being late on, they may wish to keep you in overnight," she replied, wishing he'd stayed within the health authority he'd been under before he'd been passed to theirs and he wasn't even living in Devon but that was where he'd been transferred to, seemingly urgently by his hospital record, which should have him down as being evasive.

"Fine, yes, I'll take it then," he gave in, silently wishing them good luck keeping him in.

Maybe if he asked for transport, Rose may turn up to take him but he doubted somehow she did patient transfers, especially over the border to Devon.

That agreed, he left his room just after nine and if Miller asked why he was late, which wasn't down to her to point out, he could always say her annoying nephew caught him on the way out of the hotel, she wouldn't bother asking him. Why had Rose come into the equation? Why was he even thinking about her for no reason at all? Blame it on Miller, she said she could invite the blonde to dinner at the same time she'd invited him but maybe he'd brushed it off too hastily and Miller already suspected he had a 'thing' for the blonde paramedic?

He found the day boring, trying to keep his mind on other things than his pending doom if the surgery failed and who had to be an irritating blonde he fancied more than any woman in his life but she seemed to have already made her mind up she was going to chew him out every time they met, hence him not thinking sitting at the same dinner table was going to help his cause.

Maybe she'd already made her mind up she didn't like him but he'd probably been a bit abrupt with her the few times they'd met and if she knew Danny, she was bound to have been upset on the beach. Just before what everyone else called finishing time, Ellie knocked on his door.

"Tonight then, dinner?" she asked, too cheerfully for his liking and wishing she'd forgotten about it.

"Yes, fine then. Have you organised the reconstruction yet?" he asked.

"I'm still not happy about Tom leading it," she replied, since she'd hastily been trying to arrange it.

"He's the best one to do it Miller, who else was best friends with Danny?"

Ellie thought about it. Tom and Danny lived across the field from each other and she couldn't name any of Danny's other friends.

"Well okay then but it had better not be too late and something had better come of it. Here's my address," she replied, handing him a piece of paper. "I can still ask Rose but she might be working," she added, knowing her friend was coming in the following day.

She knew she couldn't, after what Rose had said about her matchmaking skills. How was she to know Rose was into more mature men who didn't act the fool all the time and that Olly was one of them? She knew Rose meant business but Hardy certainly wasn't one to act the fool. Maybe she should work on her friend, there was still time yet. She knew Rose worked awkward hours but sometimes she was finished at an earlier hour, goodness knew who had come up with those work patterns.

Alec was relieved to get the dinner invite over with but after tonight, she would have had enough of him and not ask him again.

Rose and Steven had drawn the late shift, not due to finish until midnight but if it was quiet, they'd probably get back early and there would be no changeover at that time, though she could still never work out why some shifts overlapped but she supposed it was so everyone wasn't in a rush and people were kept waiting.

"You look miles away," Steven told her just after six and they'd attended a boy in the skateboard park who'd been trying a new trick and his mother was worried he had concussion when he'd hit his head.

"No, I'm fine, it's just going in tomorrow and being interviewed," she admitted,

Steven laughed. "Come on Rose, it's more like you're getting goosebumps thinking of Hardy asking you personal questions."

"Is not," Rose insisted, forgetting she couldn't wear hoop earrings for work as she was going to twist one.

Steven noticed and smiled. "He's getting you all hot and bothered Rose, admit it. You pretend to chew him out but you have all the classic symptoms."

Rose refused to answer. "Ellie asked me to dinner tonight, she's trying to fix me up with him. Well I think she meant tonight, she never actually said but I could tell she was planning something."

"After that disaster with her nephew?" he laughed as they waited at some traffic lights and being tempted to put the siren on.

"Yeah, bloomin' cheek she has," Rose tried not to smile. "I wonder why he was outside the newsagents on his own when we went to see to Jack?"

"Maybe Ellie told him to keep out of it when he saw the ambulance and he was being nosey?" he suggested.

"Yeah, we know that. If they'd been concerned, they would have both gone."

"Maybe? Though maybe she was giving you two chance to make friends?" he grinned as they set off again.

"Good thing you're driving mate," Rose tried not to laugh. "Why's everyone ganging up on me?"

"You don't already know love? You're a single blonde female, he's a man. Work it out," he suggested as they stopped outside a block of flats, not where Rose lived thankfully.

Getting out and picking up the emergency kit from under the seat, Rose decided if Ellie kept on trying to play matchmaker she might just try to get a boyfriend on her own, just to keep her friend quiet of course.

Alec had got back to the hotel, after he'd stopped off at the mini-market to get flowers, wine and chocolates, not knowing what to give to your hosts for a dinner invite. Tess had organised that when they'd gone out and always had them waiting on the kitchen table when he'd got back from dropping Daisy at her gran's or Tess's sister's house.

Why had he even agreed to this? Was it because she'd hinted she may ask Rose to go, which she probably wouldn't do even if she wasn't working and she was going into the station to be interviewed about what had happened on the beach plus to verify what Mark Latimer had told them, which Miller had said she'd not mentioned to her. He'd purposely told Ellie not to mention it in case she was friends with the Latimers and Mark had the chance to call her and ask her to say she'd attended to Danny a few weeks ago.

How did he know though that she may have already been asked? Still, they could ask her but her work partner may not have been so agreeable about it, if it wasn't true. He was now actually looking forward to questioning her tomorrow, he may even send Miller on another mission but Rose may refuse to talk to him or chew him out again. Still, it might be worth it, he thought as he found himself outside the Miller house as the cab driver stopped.

Ellie stared at him when she opened the door.

"Oh, you're wearing a suit, you didn't have to dress up," she laughed as he held out the bottle of wine before he dropped it. "Are these all for me?" she added, looking at the flowers, then seeing the box of chocolates under his arm.

He felt like say no, they were for Rose, if she'd turned up despite him telling his DS he hadn't thought it was a good idea but Ellie took them from him.

Instead of saying he'd hoped to give at least one of the gifts to Rose and trying not to look disappointed she'd taken them all, she let him in.

"Come on through," she told him as he closed the door and followed her into the kitchen, expecting Rose to come out of a corner or something. "Joe, Alec brought wine, flowers and chocolates."

"You can come again," Joe laughed. "Ell, you didn't invite Rose did you?" he asked as she put the flowers down and thinking maybe Hardy had half hoped his former work partner and now family friend had turned up despite Ellie telling him when she came home that Rose had refused point-blank to be stitched up with another of her matchmaking attempts.

Alec knew she had still planned on it despite his insistence she didn't.

"No, she's working I expect," Ellie replied as an excuse.

Even if Rose finished early, she had no excuse to ask her again other then she felt outnumbered but her friend wouldn't have taken pity on her and would have told her it served her right for inviting him.

Ellie was talking to him but he was still waiting for a knock on the door and Rose would turn up.

"I can call you Alec tonight, not Sir, like here's your dinner Sir," Ellie laughed.

Alec thought she over-compensated sometimes.

"I never liked my name, I must have been given it because of a great-uncle or something," he replied. "You don't have to say my name all night, do you? If you hand me something or talk to me, I know who you mean, since there's only me."

He was going to say it wasn't like she'd succeeded in getting her friend to join them. He wondered if they did talk about him, it was just as well she wasn't there then, it would make them both even worse.

Ellie stared at him. "Well come through then, I'll show you the dining room, well it's the dining room when Fred's not got his toys all over the place," she added, thinking that wouldn't impress him.

Maybe if she'd actually talked Rose into joining them and put her boss off until the following evening, she might have done but would he have thanked her for it? There again, would Rose?

As they talked over their meals, Alec revealing he had a teenage daughter who lived with her mother, not that he needed reminding of that, he thought he'd got away with one glass of wine he'd sipped slowly all through the meal until Ellie excused herself.

Joe was trying to fill his glass that he'd let go of, him trying to protest.

"Come on, you can't just have the one, you're not driving are you?" Joe grinned.

He knew he should have borrowed a car but he'd been advised by his friend not to drive. He let his glass be filled then took a swallow, planning on leaving the rest of it.

"Does she like working with me?" Alec dared ask him, knowing the answer but trying to be polite, well polite by his standards.

"You’re here for dinner aren't you?" Joe laughed. "So, she's been trying to set you and Rose up has she?"

Alec didn't need reminding of that either.

"I guess so, she said you used to work with her?" he replied.

"Yeah, before Fred came along, she was newly qualified when she arrived here, she soon got into the job though," Joe told him.

"You must miss all the action though?" Alec wondered, trying to get more out of him about working with Rose.

Joe put his glass down. "Yeah, before I volunteered to be the one to stay at home, I wouldn't swap it now though, especially after they found Danny on the beach. Ellie said you'd met Rose before that morning?"

"At a traffic accident, then on Saturday morning, she chewed me out," Alec admitted

Joe started to laugh. "I'd have loved to have seen that then, what did she chew you out for?"

"She said I was too hard on people when I asked them questions," he replied.

"Are you?" Joe grinned.

"I'm saying nothing," Alec replied, knowing he was falling into a trap. Joe began laughing and Alec saw the funny side, just as Ellie came back in.

"What's so funny?" she asked Joe, then looked at Alec.

"Nothing," Joe smiled. "Just Rose chewing him out the other day."

"Outside the newsagents?" Ellie grinned. "Rattled your cage did she?" she asked Alec.

Alec refused to answer. A while later, he thanked his hosts for dinner and decided to walk across the field and cut across to his hotel but the wine and the night air were not mixing well. He knew he shouldn't have finished that last glass of wine but they had both been watching him and he couldn’t have his DS being suspicious of him. He reached his hotel, going to the side door as the woman from the caravan park shouted goodnight to him.

He could see everything turning hazy so without causing anything else, he got to his door, fumbled with his keys and staggered to the bathroom to get water to take his pills but as he reached in his pocket, he'd forgotten about the prescription his friend was sending him, that would probably arrive in the morning and he'd left the only full strip of them in his desk drawer, leaving him trying to get pills out of the pack that weren't there.

As he felt the dizziness taking over, he just prayed someone would hear him fall and send for help and prayed again it would be Rose, if he was going, he wanted to see her one last time.

It was just after ten when Steven answered the call to go to the Trader's Hotel as Rose had got him to let her drive for a change. Rose wondered if that was where Alec Hardy was staying but the call wouldn't be about him, would it? There had to be plenty of men staying there, who had fallen and hit their heads on the bathroom sink.

Steven was noting all the details while putting the siren on, Rose wishing he'd let her do that for a change as well.

"Get a move on Rose, the bloke's unconscious and there's blood from behind his ear, he must have cracked it on the edge of the sink as he fell," Steven told her.

"Did you get a name?" Rose asked as she knew the quickest way to the hotel.

"You heard the call, some woman said the hotel owner asked her to pick up the phone and call for us, I don't expect she stopped to get the details. The person on the floor below must have complained about the noise, got Becca and had gone to tell off whoever it was," Steven replied.

"Yeah, I expect so," Rose told him as she tried to put it out of her mind it was actually Alec Hardy but she had thought he'd gone to Ellie's tonight for dinner but was her friend fooling her and going to spring it on her tomorrow when she went to the station that she needed some moral support?

They stopped outside the hotel, Steven knocking on the front door as he didn't fancy waiting for anyone to open the side one. A flustered Becca Fisher answered.

"Hi, come in, he's on the second floor," she told Steven as Rose went in first, the green bag on her shoulder since he'd passed it to her.

"So, who is it?" Steven asked, seeing Rose looked anxious it may be the bloke she'd never admit she fancied from their first meeting.

"Oh, weren't you told?" Becca asked as she lead them upstairs and Rose hoping whoever it was, she'd left someone with him.

They reached a door that was propped open and one of the maids was standing in the bathroom doorway, Rose not being able to see who the long legs curled up belonged to but she swore Alec Hardy had been wearing the same colour trousers the few times they'd met. Then the woman moved and she could tell it was him, a pool of blood on the floor and a white towel now stopping him loosing any more stuffed behind his neck.

"His name's Alec Hardy," Becca offered. "I don't know what happened, I thought he'd just banged his head."

They both rushed over to Alec, Steven taking the lead and Rose getting things out of the bag they may need and holding the towel in place. Steven looked up at Rose as he checked Alec's pulse and checking his heartbeat.

"We'll have to take him to hospital," Steven told Becca, not being able to say what else was wrong with the man other than what she already knew. "Rose, I'll go get the stretcher, you stay with him in case he comes round but that wound needs stitches."

Rose nodded, glad there was a lift even though they'd come up the stairs, since it was around the other side. She glanced around the bathroom to see where he'd hit his head and spied the empty blister pack at the other side of the sink. She picked it up and put it in her shirt pocket as Becca came closer, the maid having gone down with Steven to let him back in.

"Is he going to be okay?" Becca asked as Rose put the emergency breathing apparatus around his head and placed it over his mouth.

"He's still breathing Becca, seems you'll have a job cleaning those towels," she tried to joke as the man she'd taken a dislike to but bothered the hell out of her was lying there and it he wasn't so infuriating, she'd have snogged him outside the newsagents for being so smug.

She heard the rattle of the stretcher as Steven came back in and they carefully lifted Alec up and out of the small bathroom and placed him on it.

"I've called it in Rose," Steven told her as she tried to put another towel behind where he'd been injured, thinking Becca wouldn't thank her for that.

They got into the lift and Rose handed Steven the empty blister pack.

"Heart medication," Steven told her. "He's only got a faint pulse though I wasn't going to say that in company. Sorry Rose, you'd best stay with him, I'll drive. If he comes round he'd rather see your face than mine."

"What do ya mean by if he comes round?" Rose asked as they exited the lift and made their way to the front door where Becca was waiting to let them out.

"Do you want me to go with him?" Becca asked.

"No, it's fine, we've got it," Rose assured her. "We'll get details later, we know his name."

"Yeah, well who wouldn't know it unless they've been on a parallel world?" Steven joked as he opened the ambulance doors.

Once inside, they set about stabilising Alec and knowing what medication he was on, Steven put a drip on him, as the ambulance wasn't only used by them and Rose hooked him up to the monitor after cleaning his wound and unfastening his shirt, something she wished she was doing other than saving his life.

"He'll be okay while we get him to emergency," Steven tried to assure her as he closed one of the doors. "If you start to loose him, yell and I'll break the speed limit even more. It's lucky the hospital's only ten minutes away."

Rose dreaded to think if the health authority had got its own way and transferred emergencies to Exeter or Dorchester as she sat beside him and took his hand, his ear now covered with tape holding some cotton wool in place but it seemed to have stopped bleeding. She was still worried as she glanced at the heart rate monitor and was glad Steven saw the urgency and the look on her face when she'd seen who was lying on the floor.

She felt Alec's hand moving and he was trying to take off the breathing mask with his other one.

"Stay where you are Alec," Rose tried to tell him, fighting to get the breathing mask back on and winning as he gave up.

"Where am I?" he managed to ask.

"On your way to hospital, you had quite a crack," Rose smiled as he seemed to settle down but she knew they were almost at the hospital as the street lights gave way to just the natural lighting of the hospital grounds with just a few decorative lamps scattered around.

As he lay back, trying to stay conscious, he could see her smiling at him but as she started to fade away, he just hoped he'd wake up to be able to see her again and admit he was an idiot.

Chapter 5
Steven saw the concern on Rose's face as an emergency team were waiting for them to arrive at the small local hospital. He went first to lift the trolley down as Rose held the breathing mask over Alec's face, he'd closed his eyes but Rose had just un-hooked him from the monitor and he was just about holding his own.

Steven informed the head of the team what they thought Alec's problem was and handing the empty strip to one of the nurses.

"I think he's got heart arrhythmia, his name's Alec Hardy, if he's had problems, you should already have a medical record for him."

"We'll check up once we stabilise him," one of the doctors informed him and Rose, who had let someone take her end of the trolley and was walking alongside.

"Was anyone with him?" the nurse asked Rose as they went through the emergency room door.

"No, he must have just collapsed when he realised he'd run out of his pills. He cracked his head on the sink, I've done what I can with it, it's stopped bleeding now," Rose replied.

The nurse smiled as Rose hung back while they put Alec on the table.

"Yeah, you did a good job there Rose, finding that empty blister pack helped a lot, we can get him back on the medication while we wait for his records to come through. You're on late tonight."

"Tell me about it," Rose tried to smile back. "I sort of know him, we've met a few times. No-one will say anything about who he is I trust?"

"Of course not, just as much as you won't say anything," the nurse, Judy, replied as the doctor was examining Alec while someone got the liquid form of Alec's medication in a drip and stuck the needle into Alec's arm once they fixed the flexible tube in place to administer it.

"You probably saved him by stopping the blood from his wound," the doctor told Rose, seeing she still had some blood on her hands.

She blushed and went to the sink in the corner and carefully washed it off.

"Come on Rose, leave them to do their jobs, we've done ours," Steven came up to her to tell her, the empty trolley at the side of him.

"He'll be okay, won't he?" Rose asked as she dried her hands on a paper towel.

"We've got him stabilised, once I get his records, we'll see what's been happening with him, then decide but he probably needs a pacemaker. He may already have an appointment for it, if he has, we'll have to try to bring it forward, maybe tonight if he gets any worse," the doctor told her as he went about listening to Alec's irregular heartbeat.

"You say you know him?" the doctor continued to ask Rose. "If he has any family, they should be informed."

"He had a wallet in his jacket pocket, there may be some details in there," Rose offered.

"We may not need them yet, where's his records?" the doctor asked another nurse who was at the computer terminal.

"Just coming through now Doctor Baines, I'm just printing them off."

"Time to go," Steven reminded Rose, who was watching as an orderly had taken Alec's shirt off, that Rose knew she shouldn't really be watching, making Steven smile.

He took her arm and tried to lead her out, pulling the trolley behind him.

"He's got no-one Steven," Rose told him sadly.

"Rose, we don't normally spend that much time in there," he reminded her as she went to the drinks machine.

"I know but what if something happens to him and they can't bring him round?" Rose replied, searching for some change in her pocket.

Steven went in his and brought out some coins and put them in, knowing she drank latte or hot chocolate and they didn't have the first and handing it to her. Rose grinned at him and took a drink after blowing on it.

"If we've got no other calls, let's go back to the ambulance station, then I'm getting a taxi back here to stay with him," she declared.

They only had about half an hour by this time so Steven felt sorry for her.

"I expect if we get any more calls, the next shift will cover them? You know if Becca hadn't told whoever called it in that he'd only cracked his head, we wouldn't have been sent?" he asked as they got outside. "Come on, I'll radio in that we got held up at the hospital then we'll do a check when we get back and you can come back. Want a ride?"

"Thanks Steven. I can't just leave him, even if he wakes up, he'll be better if someone's with him other than a nurse trying to boss him around," she smiled as she finished her drink.

"You mean you, a paramedic?" Steven laughed as he picked up the radio.

He told the dispatcher they were on their way back when they'd finished at the hospital, explaining their last call had been more complicated than thought and dreaded making the report when asked what had been the delay as he normally wrote on the call sheet what action had been taken, which he was doing while Rose was finishing her drink.

"The things I do for you," he joked, putting the clipboard on the dashboard and putting his seatbelt on. "Why are you letting Hardy get to you?"

Rose shrugged her shoulders as she put her own seatbelt on.

"I'll tell you why, Miss Tyler, though you already know," he replied as they set off.

Just under an hour later, Rose was getting dropped off outside the hospital again in Steven's car.

"See you on Thursday, got the start time?" he asked. Rose nodded. "I hope he's going to be okay but you two have a few issues to sort out, like why you get to each other."

"Yeah, I know. I'd best go though if they didn't know me I doubt I'd be let back in," she replied.

"You would if you told them you were his girlfriend," Steven grinned. "Go on, get in there."

Rose never even turned to see Steven driving off just after midnight as she walked back in the hospital and past the reception when the woman behind the glass just waved to her and never asked anything like where was she going at this time of night, on her own.

She went towards the room they'd left Alec in, the doors closed so she guessed he was still inside then five minutes later, Rose sat opposite, the nurse she'd spoken to earlier came out.

"Oh, what are you doing back here Rose?"

"I came to see how Alec Hardy was," Rose replied, feeling tired.

"Well he's stable, we're moving him to a side ward, that's what I'm off to sort out. They didn't fit the pacemaker, Doctor Baines consulted with the heart specialist and since an appointment's been made for the fitting, they decided to leave it but Alec's put it back by a few weeks, just recently."

Rose knew if she wasn't what she was, she would never have been told that much but who was she likely to tell? There was only Ellie but he wouldn't thank her if she did tell on him and he'd be out anyway. She doubted that despite her friend having been in the police for some time, she could have handled her first murder investigation on her own.

She carried on waiting until the nurse went back in, who smiled at her and probably wondering why she'd finished her shift and gone back to ask about a stranger. Five minutes later, Alec was being wheeled out on a bed so she followed the nurse and the porter she'd just seen go inside. Alec was taken to a small ward with just two spaces and he was hooked up to a machine that the orderly who had followed them had wheeled over.

"Won't be long Rose," the nurse smiled at her as she stood and watched.

Just a few hours ago, she'd been doing the same when they'd got him into the ambulance, not knowing then if he was going to make it to the hospital or not. She'd not had the time to think about it, she'd decided on the spot as they were leaving earlier she was coming back. How could she not?

They may have had a few gruff meetings but something kept them doing so and since Steven had recently brought the fact up of Joe Miller having a temper, was in two minds to mention it to Alec and see what he made of it, especially since only she and Steven knew how Ellie's husband had blown up over that incident in the supermarket car park that time.

Everyone began to leave apart from a nurse who sat herself in the corner at a small desk, never questioning Rose was staying but Rose didn't recognise the woman since she wasn't normally in the hospital taking patients in at that time of night.

"Can I get you anything?" the nurse asked, realising Rose had her uniform trousers still on even though her shirt was covered by her jacket.

Rose never bothered about changing at work, she always went ready to save time as a lot of the others did except if she was going somewhere but she'd only done it in the last few years since Joe Miller had left.

"Some tea, thanks, if it's no bother," Rose smiled as the nurse approached her.

"You're in the ambulance service?" she asked Rose.

"Paramedic. We brought him in earlier, there was no-one to inform so I finished work and came back. Did they say how long he'd be out?" Rose asked her.

"No, just he's been sedated to give him chance to recover and let the medication do the job. I heard he escaped having a pacemaker fitted. He must be doing okay or they would have done it on the spot."

"Yeah, they said. We sort of know each other, I figured having a familiar face would help when he woke up," Rose grinned as the nurse was about to go off.

Who was she kidding? Steven had joked with her on the way back but Alec would probably be furious about them bringing him to hospital, let alone her going back to stay with him. She wondered why he'd put back his appointment though, maybe it wasn't by that much and he may want to give himself time to find Danny's killer.

The nurse came back with a plastic cup filled with tea and went back to the desk. Rose sipped at the tea, feeling hungry after she'd eaten much earlier then they'd almost had to cut their break short for the call before the one they'd got that Alec was presumably unconscious after hitting his head.

She knew if Becca asked her about it, she had to stick with the story, he'd be really mad if she told the local hotel owner, who had a reputation of kissing and telling. She knew the Australian used to have a boyfriend who ran the hotel with her but he'd disappeared a good while back though while they'd been passing the hotel a week or two back, she'd seen Becca talking to Mark Latimer and they'd looked a bit friendly.

She had some room to talk though, her meetings with Alec could be taken one of two ways, especially outside the newsagents and she was surprised he hadn't grabbed hold of her and kissed her to shut her up. She'd no idea what time she dozed off after fighting to stay awake but she woke with something moving under her head and realised she'd put it on his legs at some point.

"Where am I?" a Scottish voice asked her as she sat up slowly. "You. What are you doing here? I vaguely remember seeing you when I was laying down with a breathing mask over my face."

"Yeah, I was rather busy trying to keep ya alive while we got you to hospital. No need to thank us," she replied as he was taking the breathing tube out of his nose and the nurse who had replaced the other one while Rose was asleep was now standing over him.

"Put that back in Alec, you're going nowhere just yet," the nurse grinned at him, then Rose. "Morning Rose, Sally said you'd been here all night, that has to be a first."

"What?" Alec butted in as the nurse tried to put the breathing tube back in and he waved it away. "Why would you stay all night? You brought me here, why didn't you leave?"

"I'm going to tell the doctor who's on duty you're awake. You two obviously know each other," the nurse laughed as she knew she'd never get him to put the tube back in.

Alec was looking at his arm where she'd just taken the drip out while he'd been wondering why the irritating paramedic had obviously come back after her shift had finished.

"Well?" he asked Rose, who was sat next to him and still feeling tired and dying for her favourite brand of coffee, which she was wasn't likely to get here.

"You had no-one with you. How do ya think I would have felt if I'd not come back and you died?" she replied.

"Don't be so dramatic, I just passed out," he admitted, wondering who had undressed him and hoped it hadn't been Rose in the ambulance but he bet she'd stayed to watch some male nurse or orderly do it.

"How can you be so casual about it?" Rose asked him as he finally lay back on the pillow in case the gown had big gaps in the back but he was relieved he was still wearing his boxer briefs.

Maybe if she'd stayed to watch him being undressed, she'd not got the show she'd wanted?

"What time is it and where are my things?" he asked.

"In the bedside cabinet I think the nurse put them there when they brought you from the emergency room. Your jacket's over the back of the chair and your shirt and trousers are on the chair but your shirt's got blood on it. You cracked your head when you collapsed, you made a mess on me too, trying to stop it."

"Sorry," he admitted quietly. "Rose, I need to get out of here, I need to go to work."

"Don't be daft, I know what's wrong with you," Rose replied in a huff.

"They should not have told you," he replied back.

"You forget who I am, I can't tell anyone anyway. I found the empty blister pack and showed it to Steven. He called ahead and they had your medication ready and they gave you it while your records were being retrieved. You put off having a pacemaker fitted, why?" she asked him, not believing how stupid that was in his condition.

"Why do you want to know? It was too soon, I have to find out who killed Danny. If I go for the surgery, I may not come out. Happy?" he asked, wanting to get out and for her to stop questioning him. "Weren't you being interviewed at nine?" he added.

"I'm gonna call Ellie and put it off until later. It's just gone seven, if they let you out you have time to get a clean shirt but you'll be lucky if they do."

"Then I will just sign myself out, let them try to stop me. Rose, trust me, I'll be fine, I just left my medication in my office, I was waiting for my GP to send me more, that's all."

"Yeah? Guess I'll have to believe ya then? Let the doctor see ya first, then I'll wait for ya and call a cab. I'm off home to get a few hours sleep after I call Ellie. As for you, I don't know how you're gonna get away with your ear all glued up," she smiled, Alec wishing she'd stop doing that.

"It's that bad?" he tried to joke. "I expect I'll get a worse grilling from Becca Fisher for messing up her bathroom floor?"

Rose let out a laugh. "Yeah, I expect so and you almost messed up my shirt sleeves, I had your blood all over my hands when I brought you in here. Alec, you have to get something done, Becca may not get to you in time again."

Alec wished she'd not said that and was about to reply when another doctor came in, followed by the nurse.

"Hello Rose, what are you doing here?" she was asked, Alec thinking the same and wondered if the entire hospital knew her, though they probably did. "Now then Alec, how are you feeling? We got you stabilised and I've got some more of your medication ready but you need that pacemaker fitting sooner than you put your appointment back to. I should report this to your superior officer but I expect she already knows what’s wrong with you?"

Alec thought he'd just go along with it, they could think what they wanted. The doctor continued.

"I'd like to keep you in for a while longer though to make sure?"

"I'll vouch for him," Rose spoke up, stifling a yawn and wondering what she was doing.

Alec seemed just as surprised as she was.

"Yes, she can vouch for me, just let me get dressed, I have a killer to catch."

The doctor looked at Alec's charts. "Very well, since she's qualified to keep an eye on you but any more signs you should come straight back. You were very lucky she kept you stable while they got you here."

"So I've been told," Alec replied as the nurse began to free him of tubes and wires.

"Rose, I'm holding you responsible for him. Get him back if he shows any signs he's getting worse," she was told.

Rose wondered if the doctor thought she was his girlfriend though she pitied anyone who got that job. Was she setting herself up for it though?

She waited while he got dressed as the nurse left them to it.

"I'll call Ellie when I've called a cab," Rose told him. "I'll drop you at the hotel to make sure you get there."

"Don't you trust me?" he called back as he fastened his shirt and still wondered if Rose had unbuttoned it in the ambulance or she'd been watching in the emergency room. "You go home first, it makes no difference, it won't take me long to get changed."

"Okay then, just don't do anything stupid. I'll go get your medication and discharge papers. Did ya say your GP was sending you more?"

"He was sending a prescription, it will probably arrive this morning though I'll have to go out of town for it," he admitted. "You can't tell anyone what happened," he reminded her.

"I said I wouldn't Alec," Rose replied as he came from behind the curtain when she came back.

The nurse had reminded her she was responsible for him as well.

"So how well do you know him then?" the nurse smiled as she took the medication.

"We've only met a few times, at incidents funnily enough," she'd admitted.

"Doesn't seem like that to me," the nurse had grinned.

Alec followed her to the main entrance and Rose got her mobile out to call a cab.

"Hi, it's Rose, can I have a cab outside the hospital emergency room?"

Alec wondered how they'd know who it was but he bet not just the hospital staff knew her, when she didn't give where she was going.

"I hope it's not Lucas, I'm not in the mood for him this morning," Rose told him when she'd hung up.

"One of the regular drivers?" Alec asked as they waited, him hoping Miller wasn't related to whoever this Lucas was, it was bad enough she was related to the town's junior over-keen reporter.

"Yeah, it'll just be my luck he's on the early shift, I don't know how many times I've told his controller but he gets away with it," Rose replied.

"What is so annoying about him?" Alec wondered as a red car turned in from the road and came towards them.

"Seriously? He's a creep who's asked half the women in the town out at some point and he has a wife and a step-son. You need to know more?" she replied as the cab stopped and she went to get into the back, leaving Alec to open the front passenger door.

"Hello darlin' going home?" the man asked, Alec figuring this must be Lucas since she obviously didn't want to sit beside the driver.

"Yeah, drop me first then he's going to the Trader's, aren't ya Alec?" she asked him, suddenly leaning over and kissing his cheek and almost making him have another attack. She whispered in Alec's ear, "Just go along with it," making it look like she was taking her time and Alec was just glad it wasn't the ear he'd injured last night.

They got to Rose's apartment block five minutes later.

"He's paying," Rose grinned at the driver. "See ya later Alec, I'll be down to see ya."

Alec hoped that she was just putting on an act for the driver and also hoped she remembered to call his equally annoying DS to say she'd be in later but before he could protest, she leaned over and caught the side of his mouth and without realising she was winding the taxi driver up, he turned towards her.

When she got out, the cab driver set off, eyeing his remaining passenger and Alec was wondering what the hell had just happened.

"So, Rose is your girlfriend?" Lucas asked a still stunned Alec.

Alec didn't know whether to reply it was wishful thinking on her part or not, was she just trying to give a message to the cab driver? If she was, did she have to use him to do so?

Chapter 6
Alec refused to answer the taxi driver's question for fear of incriminating himself. If the blonde paramedic had any designs on him, first he wasn't going to give her any grounds to think he was leading her on into thinking she was and second he wasn't going to admit it to a taxi driver who would spread the word to the whole town by the time he finished his shift.

How had he managed to get her and her partner to attend to him last night? He supposed it served him right for running dangerously out of his pills and collapsing on the bathroom floor but it could have been worse. He could have woken up with Becca Fisher sitting by his bed or rather laying her head on his legs when he woke up in hospital after vaguely remembering seeing a blonde staring over him in the back of the ambulance.

Had Becca insisted on going with him, she would have been told what was wrong with him, the other blonde could have told the hospital she was his wife or something and she certainly wouldn't have stayed all night, would she? No, it just had to be Rose, whom he didn't even know her surname when she had the advantage over him and he was too stubborn to ask his DS.

The taxi had arrived at the hotel and Alec fished a note out of his wallet, at least nothing had been disturbed but Rose must have been trying to get some basic details, like if he was married so the staff could inform his ex wife of his demise had they been unable to save him.

He got out of the cab, hoping the driver wouldn't say anything about Rose being familiar with him and making a show of kissing his cheek, well half kissing it and he'd be daft enough to half kiss her back but if she'd been making a point with the driver, she'd done a good job. He just hoped Miller didn't use that cab company when she needed a taxi.

Of course Becca was just coming out of the bar as he tried to sneak past but she would have locked his door last night as he'd been rushed off so of course, the key would be hanging behind the desk.

"Well you look a lot better than when you were taken out of here last night," she greeted him cheerfully, too cheerfully for his liking. "Care to tell what happened to you?"

"Went out to dinner and had too much to drink," Alec lied, thinking he'd best not stray too much from the truth, Joe Miller had insisted on that last glass of wine and that and his lack of pills were a deadly combination.

Becca seemed to believe him as she handed the key over.

"Yeah, tell me about it, been there and done that," Becca laughed. "I thought it must have been something like that? So have they just let you out?"

He was going to reply with a no, he'd got out and gone to work in the middle of the night but decided not to bother.

"They kept me in for observation," he replied, turning slowly to the stairs.

Well it was sort of true, Rose had been observing him all night until she'd fallen asleep on his legs.

"What time does the post arrive?" he continued.

"Soon, expecting something?" he was asked.

Would he be asking otherwise he thought?

"I'll get changed and get some breakfast, if there's anything for me I'll get it on the way out."

He went upstairs and thought the hospital would inform his friend, then he'd probably call and give a lecture that he should be more careful next time but at least he didn't have to be in a rush to get his prescription dispensed. Why had Rose said she'd vouch for him? Then she'd had the nerve to make it look like her saying in front of the cab driver she'd see him later like they had a date.

Rose was just wanting to go to sleep for a few hours after staying at the hospital all night but called Ellie's number. Ellie was trying to get ready for work and hoped Rose wasn't putting off her interview.

"Hi Ellie, about my interview," Rose started. "Can I put it back until later, say around one?"

"I thought you were cancelling it?" Ellie admitted. "Come in at one then, were you on the late shift last night?"

"Yeah, these stupid hours, I wish I could get a regular shift, some social life I have," Rose laughed.

"No male paramedics you fancy?" Ellie joked as Joe was putting Fred in his seat.

"Nope, even if I did, knowing my luck they'd either be on the same shift as me or going to work as I come off. See ya at one then?"

She thought she'd go down early and try and catch Alec, she had to tell someone what was on her mind about Ellie's husband besides Steven. It was his fault anyway for reminding her Joe Miller had a temper but would Alec just say she was wasting his time? Still, he owed her for getting him out of the hospital, she could have left him there but that wasn't her.

She set her phone alarm for half eleven and lay on the bed and was out like a light despite feeling hungry.

Alec tried to act normally once in his office, though it was just his luck Miller noticed the redness behind his ear when he made the mistake of showing her something on the monitor.

"Crikey, what happened to you?" she had to ask him.

"I slipped in the bathroom last night. Blame your husband, he kept filling my glass."

"You've been all glued up. Yeah, sorry, he tends to forget people have to get home, you should have told him you were driving," Ellie tried to apologise. "If I'd have got Rose to come as well, you could have said you were driving her home."

Alec wished she'd stop doing that. "She probably had other things to do," he replied.

"Oh, so how did you get to hospital?" Ellie asked him. "Don't say you never went or did the paramedics see to you?"

"Drop it Miller. I thought your friend was coming in for an interview?"

"She put it back, she was working late last night. Oh, she came to see to you, didn't she?" Ellie laughed.

Alec just made a face. "Get all the questions ready you have for her, about what Mark Latimer told us. Did you check with Chloe?"

"I've not had the chance and it's not fair I ask her until Rose confirms they attended. Chloe's got enough on at the moment, she's still in turmoil over what happened to Danny, then I'm quizzing her about the drugs and the money. She swore she knew nothing about the money though."

"So you said," Alec replied. "Come on, since your friend's put the interview back, we can make use of the time re-interviewing others."

Ellie moved. "And I thought we'd have a quiet morning in so I can catch up on the paperwork," she replied sarcastically.

"You can do that when we come back, I can interview her on my own."

Ellie thought as if she'd leave her friend alone with him, after their little display on the beach and then him going back to the newsagents when he saw an ambulance there. She knew he had to fancy Rose but she hoped her friend had already been put off him.

Once she was awake, Rose grabbed a coffee and some toast and called a cab to take her down to the harbour, it was a few minutes walk to the bus stop and one wasn't due and it took ages since it stopped at the bus station in the town first. She just hoped it wasn't Lucas, who would have been sure to ask Alec Hardy a few awkward questions when she'd been dropped off but she'd not been able to resist trying to get the annoying driver to stop being so gross.

Rose got dropped off, relieved it was another driver who stayed fairly quiet and she walked into the police station at twelve fifteen, hoping Alec was in. If not, she could go across the road and get a drink while she waited until one and catch him afterwards.

"Hello Rose, come for your interview?" Bob asked, since Ellie had left word. "Bit early aren't you?"

"Yeah, I was wondering if DI Hardy was in? Can you find out?" Rose asked him as Bob picked up the phone. "Just him, I don't want to see DS Miller just yet."

Bob held his hand over the phone speaker, giving her a questioning look.

"Sorry, he'll ask why," Bob told her.

"I have to tell him something he needs to know about and I'd rather not talk to DS Miller," Rose had to admit. "Please don't let her know."

Bob spoke into the phone when Alec answered, him being surprised Rose was early or was she checking up on him?

"So, what does she want?" Alec asked Bob as he took his specs off and rubbed his eyes, plus they were hurting his sore ear which was why he'd been squinting since they got back.

"Sir, she said she had something to tell you, not DS Miller. Should I get her to come back?" Bob asked him as Rose was now sitting opposite.

Rose could tell Bob was having a hard time convincing the detective it may be worth his while seeing her.

"Oh, okay, I'll be down but why just me?" he was asking himself more than Bob.

"She didn't say Sir, just she wanted to talk to you," Bob replied, glancing across at her.

Bob hung up and motioned Rose to the desk.

"He's on his way down. It's not a social call is it?" he grinned.

"Nah, it's to do with something that happened. Promise not to tell?" Rose asked, looking around. Bob nodded. "We had a bit of an argument over at the harbour newsagents the other day and I wanted to know why. I didn't want it to get in the way of my interview."

Well it was sort of true, she tried to convince herself. The stairs door opened and Alec came through, seeing Rose talking to the desk sergeant he thought was called Bob and hoped they weren't talking about him.

"You asked to see me?" Alec spoke up as he approached. "This way."

"See ya later Bob," Rose told him as she followed Alec to one of the informal interview rooms.

"This had better be good," Alec told her as she sat down and he closed the blinds to and the door.

"How's the ear Alec?" Rose smiled at him as he sat opposite.

"You came to ask me that? I thought you had something to tell me?" he asked.

"Yeah, I told Bob it was about the other day but it's not. I'm just concerned over something and Ellie's my friend so I'd rather not talk to her," Rose replied, wishing she'd now gone for that coffee instead.

"Then I would have thought she'd be the one you would talk to?" he questioned.

Rose shook her head. "It's sort of to do with her. Did she tell ya I used to be partnered with her husband before he stopped working?"

"She mentioned it, since she's always talking about you," he admitted. "Go on, you have an interview soon and Miller will come looking for you if the desk don't tell her you have arrived. So is it about her or her husband?"

"Both I suppose but she can't know I've spoken to you, promise?" she asked, looking serious.

"Since you probably saved my life last night and you got me out of the hospital, you have my word I won't tell her anything that's not directly to do with the current investigation, to a certain degree."

Rose thought that was all she was going to get out of him.

"Well Joe and I worked together when I got transferred here, I'd just qualified and I didn't know anyone. Ellie made friends with me, I'm her youngest son's godmother but it's nothing personal against her. It's just she may or may not know Joe's got a bit of a temper, well when I say a bit, sometimes I never knew if he was joking or not."

"Why would she not know her husband has a temper?" Alec wondered.

"I went to their house a lot, especially after Fred was born and there was no sign of it. She never said anything to me or asked me if he had a temper when I worked with him so I just assumed she wasn't aware," Rose explained. "Anyway, when we worked together, he was in charge but we could still laugh and joke a bit but sometimes, he'd slam on the brakes at the last minute at traffic lights if we weren't on a call, otherwise he'd expect drivers to move out of the way and he'd get really annoyed if they ignored us."

Alec raised his eyebrows. He'd seen no signs the man had a temper the night before.

"Carry on Rose. You do know I'll get to know your surname when we interview you formally?" he half smiled.

"You never asked before, you were too busy chewing me out on the beach and being nosy at the newsagents," Rose smiled back. "It's Tyler. So, like I said, he could get a bit mad but sometimes, he really creeped me out, when we'd get where we were going, it was like nothing had been wrong, if he'd turned the siren on to clear traffic even if it wasn't that much of an emergency."

Alec was getting more interested.

"Anyway, the day he was going to tell me Ellie was expecting, he'd said she had something to tell me and it was up to her and after work, he'd sometimes drop me at the big supermarket by the roundabout so we were heading there that night, a good few hundred yards from the traffic lights but as we approached to turn left, they changed to amber and a car was turning right. I thought he was going to slam the brakes on like he always did."

Alec folded his arms and motioned for her to continue as he looked at the time.

"Afraid I'll be late?" Rose grinned.

"No, go on," he insisted. "Did he slam on the brakes or did he go through the lights?" he asked, thinking this could be bad since the man was married to a detective.

Rose was dying to tell him to guess. "The car turning right may or may not have jumped the lights, I had no idea if there was a filter on that side but it didn't look like Joe was going to stop as they turned red. He went through and taking no notice, there was a few feet between the lights and the turn but suddenly, another car came from the right and Joe had to slam the brakes on to avoid colliding with it."

"What?" Alec asked, wishing he was writing this down instead of boosting his ego thinking she'd actually come to check on his welfare. "So did he stop in time?" he continued.

"Well I'm still here," Rose grinned back. "The traffic was still going forward in the other lane and on the other side of the road, I don't know much about those lights and if they have filters, we didn't go that way much, it wasn't on our route in the ambulance. Anyway, the other driver just carried on, cars were passing us and Joe was shouting out of the window at the other driver as he set off after a few seconds of sounding the horn."

"So what happened then?" Alec asked her, wondering if it was going to get more interesting or she'd demanded to be let out of the car and walked up to the supermarket.

"I'm gettin' to that bit," Rose reminded him. "Sure we're not gonna be late for my interview?"

"Miller will wait, she'll probably try calling you and she'll wonder where I went to," he replied dryly, thinking he'd get the blame anyway even if Rose hadn't come in early to see him.

"We carried on into the car park and he pulled into a parking space at the side of the supermarket, he usually stopped at the drop-off point. I joked about it and he said I was capable of walking and I think I said something like after he'd scared the life out of me on the way in and I told him he was partly to blame. I was getting out of the car and suddenly, he got out as well and looked across to the next row of cars and when I asked him, he pointed to the car that he'd almost collided with."

"He went across?" Alec asked her, really wishing he was taking notes but so far, Joe Miller had just flaunted traffic regulations when he wasn't working but it had to be a few years ago and there was no proof since she didn't know how the traffic lights had worked at the time and they could have been altered since then.

"The driver had already got out so Joe leaned over inside the car to the glove compartment and said he was looking for some paper to leave a note on the other car's windscreen. He couldn't find any and I joked I didn't have any so he said he was gonna leave it."

"Did he?"

Alec wanted to know the outcome now he'd listened so far and it was saving him going through endless witness statements yet again to see who was still lying where they'd been that night after Nigel Carter had messed them around, he didn't trust any of them.

"I just went off into the supermarket and assumed he had," she replied, wishing she'd never been there and now, wishing she'd kept it to herself but Alec Hardy was expecting there to be a point to this. "I was inside about half an hour and when I came out, I was gonna use the taxi phone when I noticed a crowd outside, more than usual."

"What do you mean? That they weren't waiting to be picked up or talking?" he asked her.

Rose shook her head. "They were all facing to the side of the supermarket where Joe had dropped me off. I went towards the door, keeping hold of my shopping trolley and suddenly, two men went dashing off."

Alec was getting restless in his seat. Now it was getting more interesting.

"What were they running towards Rose?"

"I couldn't tell at first but it was towards where Joe had parked earlier and I began to think he'd waited for the other driver coming back to say something to him but it had been just as much his fault and I'd told him that when he almost collided with the other car," Rose continued. "Anyway, the two blokes who'd run across were just pulling two men apart when I was able to see what was going on. One of them was Joe."

"It should have been reported at the time," Alec pointed out.

"You are kidding? Do ya know how many people argue in car parks over spaces and bad driving?" Rose asked him. "Joe was shrugging the man holding him off and the other bloke let the other driver go, they were just at the side of the trolley shelter and the other driver shook his fist at Joe, shouting something to him and walked back to his car. Joe went back to his and just got in."

"You should have called it in Rose, he was an ambulance driver," he reminded her.

"Yeah and Ellie would have come out to it, now ya know why I wanted to tell just you."

"That's all well and good Rose but I can't use any of this, not now and since you have no idea what the other car registration was, have you?" Rose shook her head. "So you never went over to him?"

"You're joking Alec? Get back in the car after that and ask him for a ride home, yeah, right," she laughed. "I just went back inside and called a cab and everyone was walking off when I went back outside. Joe had gone, well he'd moved but when I got home, I got a call from Ellie."

"Because he was late home?" Alec wondered, thinking at this rate he wouldn't get to hear if there was anything else to it before Miller started calling one or both of them to see where they were.

He just hoped if Miller called the desk, she wouldn't be told they'd gone off to another interview room without her.

"She asked if we'd been late finishing so I said he'd just dropped me at the supermarket, she knew he did sometimes but she knew he should have been home half an hour at least before then. Then she said he'd just walked in and she asked him where he'd been."

"He denied dropping you there in case someone had reported the incident?" Alec asked, giving up hope of Miller not looking for them, it was now inevitable unless he broke this off until later. "Rose, as much as I would love to hear the rest, I have to go wait at the desk for DS Miller. You wait here and I will tell her I saw you in reception and asked you to."

"Yeah, this could take a while longer if ya don't think I'm wasting your time?"

"I think no such thing but I can't do anything about it. Why are you telling me this?" he wanted to know.

"I know how Danny died Alec, someone obviously got violent with him and strangled him, someone he knew well enough to let get close to him and he was overpowered. Do ya think I'm telling ya all this for fun?" she replied.

"No Rose, I don't think anything of the sort but we should continue this later."

"Well after I get out, I'm off for something to eat, I'm starving. I missed my breakfast thanks to someone," she smiled.

"I never asked you to stay Rose. Allow me to buy you a late lunch and you can tell me the rest?"

"In a public place? I've got a better idea. Come round tonight and I'll cook something for us and you can tell me how you got ill and I'll tell you why I came to you about Joe. I'm worried Alec, he's got a temper and Danny knew him."

Chapter 7
Alec wasn't sure what Rose had been telling him about Joe Miller for, what could he do about it? He went off to reception and asked Bob to call DS Miller down.

"Was it important Sir?" Bob asked as he dialled Ellie's extension.

"Was what important?" Alec asked, leaning against the desk.

His time in hospital overnight was beginning to catch up with him and Rose yawning had not helped, though she had been trying to hide it.

Bob shook his head and Ellie answered, him asking her to come downstairs.

"Rose just showed up for her interview," Bob told her, remembering she'd not wanted the DS to know she'd come in early and asked for the disagreeable DI.

"Have you seen Hardy?" Ellie asked him, since she'd lost track of how long he'd been gone.

"He's down here already Ma'am, he asked me to call you," Bob replied.

He tried to ignore her comments and put the phone down.

"Are you waiting here for her or taking Rose to the other interview room?" Bob asked him, thinking it was a fair enough question.

"We'll collect her and take her to a formal interview room. Her work partner will be coming in at some point. Does everyone call her by her first name?" Alec wanted to know.

"We all know her, well most of the town know her so we just call her Rose. She never seems to mind and she's part of the emergency services."

Alec thought after last night, he was hardly likely to forget it and she wouldn't let him anyway. He wasn't sure what exactly she had meant by asking him to her place later, it was going out last night that had caused his problem in the first place. Ellie came through the stairs door, a folder in her hand.

"Well where is she then?" Ellie asked, forgoing the 'Sir' bit.

"She arrived early, she's in room one, I asked her to wait there," he replied, still wondering why Rose hadn't told the DS that her husband had a temper.

"So when did you see her then and why didn't Bob or you tell me she was early?" Ellie wanted to know.

"I'm not the one here for the interview Miller," Alec refused to fall for the trick of her trying to find out things.

He opened the door and Rose got up. She'd wondered why she'd spontaneously invited him for dinner when he'd kept her at the hospital all night but if he wanted to know more, she wasn't telling him over lunch. He'd not even said if he agreed. She had almost backed out while she'd waited for him to come downstairs and was just going to ask him how he felt after last night but she had to tell someone, Steven would just keep going on at her over it.

"Hello Rose, sorry to keep you waiting," Ellie started to apologise. "I wasn't told you'd got here early," she continued, looking directly at Alec. "We'll just take you to the other interview room, we have to record it, is that okay?"

"Yeah, whatever it takes if it helps. So do you want me to tell ya about when we were called out last Friday morning?" Rose asked.

"Partly," Alec replied, allowing her to go first. "We have some other questions for you and your work partner in connection with what happened. We just need you to clarify some points. We couldn't tell you earlier what it was about."

"Sounds mysterious," Rose smiled at Ellie, who had opened the other interview room door for her.

"Nothing mysterious Rose," Ellie smiled back as Alec closed the door. "We just needed to ask you both about it separately."

Rose wondered what they were both so worried about, that she and Steven would make things up between them? Yes, they talked about some of the things they'd seen but it never went any further unless they were concerned for someone's welfare and what looked like an accident could have been more. Then Steven would put another report in and leave it to the supervisor as to if it should be taken any further.

Alec switched on the recording equipment and asked Rose to say in her own words how they were called out that morning, him making notes.

"So, you only got the call because the person who found Danny had not checked on him?" Alec asked her.

"Yeah, otherwise they would just have sent one of the other ambulance crews or waited for the coroner. We turned him over after putting our examination gloves on and we followed procedure, trying to revive him, in case he had been unconscious and had only just expired. Steven decided there was no chance of saving Danny and said to stop. Danny's face was wet with the sand, that's why we couldn't tell at first."

"Then we arrived?" Alec asked her. "I mean uniformed officers were already at the scene holding onlookers away and I was joined by DS Miller?"

Rose wanted to say yeah, then he'd been a pain but she needed him to hear the rest about Joe Miller.

"Yeah, then the coroner took over and we left after Steven made his report. Sorry, it was rather upsetting, finding Danny like that and seeing Beth so upset. I should try to go see her."

"Rose, you had best stay away for now," Alec advised her. "She may start asking you questions, like why you couldn't save him."

"Yes Rose, it could get awkward," Ellie agreed, surprised she and her new boss could agree on anything. "You can't give her the answers she wants, she may put some of the blame on both of you."

"Yeah, okay then but I'll maybe just send a card? So, what else was there?" Rose asked, not wanting to cause Beth any more distress and Beth making her admit Danny was already dead when they'd got to him.

She had known the second they had seen Danny face down on the sands but it was their job to do anything they could and she wished she had never been on the early shift that morning. It was something she was never going to forget and she'd hoped to get over to see the vicar but of course, she'd chosen to go talk to Alec Hardy instead.

"Rose, were you called to another incident involving Danny, a few weeks ago?" Ellie was asking her.

"Yeah, we were. We got a call to meet Mark's boat at the harbour, we were told Danny had caught his foot on a fishing line and Mark was worried it may get infected. I cleaned his foot properly and bandaged it then told him to keep the wound clean."

"So you normally would be called to minor incidents as well as emergencies?" Alec asked her.

"Yes, if someone's reported as unconscious with no life-threatening conditions," she replied, Alec hoping she wasn't going to tell on him.

"Like slipping in the bathroom?" Ellie tried not to smile.

Rose could only assume that was what Alec Hardy had told his DS in order to cover the injury to his ear. She didn't think he'd admit to being taken to hospital over it and she'd promised him she wouldn't tell. She saw him glancing at her friend.

"We'd like you to just sign a statement then you can go," Ellie told her.

"Yeah, of course. Have I been helpful?" Rose asked.

"Yes, you have, we can't say just how much at this stage," Alec replied as Ellie got up.

"I'll go wait for your statement to be printed out. Are you coming Sir?" Ellie asked him.

"I'll wait, no need for both of us to go Miller," he replied, turning off the recording equipment.

He was thinking if he could get the paramedic to tell him the rest about Joe Miller, he might get out of her dinner invitation.

As the door closed, Rose leaned on the table.

"Thought she'd caught you out there Alec," she grinned at him and rested her head on her arms.

"I thought you were going to say you also took people who had collapsed on their bathroom floor because they were stupid enough to run out of their medication?" he replied, putting his pen and notebook away.

"Were you really stupid enough to run out of them?" she asked, glancing up.

"I had some left but they were in my office drawer, I neglected to retrieve them. My GP sent me a prescription, it arrived this morning."

"Bit late now?" she smiled. "You got some from the hospital and may I remind you, you'd still be there if I hadn't vouched for you?"

"No, you need not remind me. Do you want to tell me the rest about Joe Miller?"

"So you can get out of coming round later?" she teased him. "I don't want her to catch me talking about him Alec, I can't let her find out. What if she does know he's got a temper? She wouldn't want anyone else to know, would she?"

"Indeed?" Alec had to agree, seeing he wasn't going to get out of her making him a meal so easily if he wanted to hear the rest. "So, what time then?"

"Hmm, seven thirty, it's the middle block, number nine, think you'll be able to find it?" Alec just nodded. "Press the number then the intercom and I'll let you in. So, how did you get on with Lucas when you'd dropped me off?" she grinned.

"Silently," he replied as he heard the door opening.

Rose signed the statements and got up to leave.

"Anyone want to get lunch?" Rose asked as she'd got up suddenly before Ellie had seen her.

"I'm meeting Joe and the boys, I sent him a quick message," Ellie replied.

"What about you?" Rose asked Alec.

Alec was hoping she wasn't going to ask that, in front of Miller.

"I suppose I have to eat? After you," he indicated as Rose got up and Ellie put the statements in the folder.

They walked across the road and found a table at the far end, Rose grabbing a menu and hoping they were serving an all-day breakfast. Alec pulled a face when she asked if he wanted the same, opting for the healthy option as he got up to place their orders. He came back and sat opposite her.

"I figured it was my fault you missed breakfast," he told her as she tried not to blink in the sunlight.

She got up and sat beside him, more in the shade.

"I'll let you off," she smiled. "Did Joe keep trying to fill your glass?"

"You could say he insisted. Miller says he tends to do that."

"Yeah, he tried it a few times, Ellie had to keep reminding him. So, you weren't trying to back out of tonight?" she asked him.

"As long as you don't tell your friend? Rose, I thank you for rescuing me from the hospital but it's not a good idea for me to keep accepting dinner invitations from people I work with."

"You hardly work with me Alec," she reminded him. "So, we bump into each other at callouts and when I have to save your ass."

They were interrupted by their drinks being brought over.

"Sorry," she tried to apologise.

"It was my fault. Maybe if I'd not gone out last night and been in a hurry to leave my office, I may not have collapsed? I should have mentioned to Becca there was something wrong with me, she wasn't to know when she called for help."

"Alec, I saw Danny, in front of me and I couldn't save him. What if I'd not been able to save you and all because you'd run out of your medication? How do ya think I would have felt, even if I'd got ya to hospital? I saw the empty packet Alec, I would have known what had caused it, even if the hospital hadn't told me what was wrong with you."

"Was that why you went back? To make sure you'd not failed in your job?" he asked as the stallholder brought their meals.

Rose would have got up and slapped his face had her late breakfast not been put in front of her.

"You think you were just another patient last night?" she asked instead.

"Face it Rose, it could have been anyone who had been called out last night but no, it had to you," he replied.

Still debating whether she should leave or not, she started eating her toast.

"Yes it did. Who would have been there for you if you'd not made it Alec? How could I have just left you?"

"You leave everyone else there Rose, not everyone has someone with them."

"I knew it was serious when Steven said he'd called ahead, then when they said what was wrong with you. Hell Alec, Steven even dropped me back at the hospital and all you'd been was rude to me, asking me stupid questions like why the ambulance was outside the harbour newsagents."

"You still never told me," he reminded her, pouring out his tea.

"You never asked what was wrong with Jack or I would have told you, we're obliged to when asked by a police officer but you were too busy being nosy."

Alec supposed he had deserved that one, his curiosity and his annoyance for the blonde had got the better of him at the time.

"As I recall at the time, you told me it was my fault you had been called out," he replied.

"Partly, he got annoyed over it and panicked. You can't really blame him."

"You questioned my interviewing skills over the newsagent but you never bothered earlier," he told her.

"Ellie was there, what could I say? I bet she never knew the reason why you walked off at the same time we were there?"

"How did you know?" he asked, trying to eat at the same time.

"I saw her over the other side of the harbour, you plum. You had to have been out somewhere with her and she'd left ya to it."

"If you get tired of being a paramedic, you should join the detectives programme," he replied, putting his knife and fork down.

Rose thought just what she needed, him to start being even more sarcastic.

"Why did I invite you over tonight?" she reminded herself out loud.

"To tell me the rest of what you told me earlier," he replied. "What do you expect me to do about it Rose?"

"I don't know, I just had to tell someone, I thought I'd already said that?"

"You may have done but what does his wife have to do with it?" he wanted to know.

Rose put her cutlery down and placed her hand on his.

"I was gonna tell ya that later. Geez Alec, is this all because I was the one who saved your ass last night?"

"Shush, why not get a loudspeaker and tell the whole harbour?" he asked, moving her hand though it felt good, not that he was going to admit it. "No, it is not about that and you know it Rose. Hell, we’ve done nothing but get annoyed with each other since we met, I may as well have stayed where I was and have my ex wife keep reminding me why she took off with another man."

"She did?" Rose tried not to laugh and finishing her now cold latte.

"That's not meant to be funny Rose, hell, why do I keep repeating your name?" he partly asked himself.

"Why are you asking me?" she replied, sitting back and folding her arms. "Fine, don't come tonight then?"

"I never said I wouldn't come tonight, I just said it wasn't a good idea."

"Make your mind up Alec," Rose started to smile. "Bring some non-alcoholic wine with you, you'd best stay off the real stuff."

"Don't remind me. I only accepted last night to stop her nagging me and I expect she was doing that because I suggested her son Tom led a reconstruction of the night Danny died."

"When was that planned? I hadn't heard about it," she asked him.

"It will be announced on social media tonight and the local news, she's roped in her nephew as his punishment for giving out Danny's name before we released it officially."

"Yeah, that little toad will do anything for a story, trust me. I've lost count of how many times Joe used to get annoyed if Olly turned up anywhere we were called out and they're related."

"He lost his temper with his wife's nephew?" Alec wanted to know, thinking he should maybe go check Miller had actually got tomorrow night arranged, she'd already been trying to get out of it.

"It looked like that to me, sorry, I never said."

"Rose, I do want to hear what else you have to say and that's the only reason I will still come over tonight, got it?" he asked.

"Gotcha. You could look a bit more enthusiastic about it though," she teased him as he started to get up.

"I will try to be more enthusiastic upon my arrival. I still mean it though, I'm not accepting for any other reason."

"Yeah, just like you couldn't resist it when you saw the ambulance. You could make an exception and accept as a way of thanking me," she decided to tease him.

"You both saved me I suppose, you're not inviting him too are you?" he asked, wondering if the man was going to turn up for the interview before he got back, if Rose was ever going to let him leave.

"I don't think his boyfriend would approve, we don't see much of each other socially. Anyway, I was the one who went back to check on you and stayed with you all night, remember?"

"Yes, I do and I am going to be late back. I will see you later, give me your phone number in case I am going to be late."

"Yeah, tough guy," she laughed as he held out his hand to help her up.

"Rose, if you said you went back to the hospital because I had no-one, how were you not surprised when I mentioned my ex?"

"There was only a picture of a young girl in your wallet, not a family one or a woman."

"That was a picture of the girl who died on my last case. Her killer got set free because my cheating ex-wife lost vital evidence," he told her as they walked back towards the station. "I never told anyone that before or about the photo."

"Sorry, I had no idea," she replied as they came to the road, Rose hoping Steven wouldn't appear, he'd never stop tormenting her. "See ya at seven then?"

"Sure," was all she got out of him as he left her to cross the road.

Rose stood there for a while, wondering what the hell was going on. Why exactly had he just said it wasn't a good idea to have dinner with her than still say he'd go? Maybe that had been directed at Ellie though? She saw the bus as she walked around the corner and hoped it was going past the supermarket, she needed to impress her dinner guest though why she was bothering, she had no idea.

Alec got back to his office and Ellie followed him in.

"Enjoy your lunch Sir?" she grinned at him.

"When is Steven Price coming in Miller?" he asked, to avoid the question.

"At three, he called to say he'd be late, unlike Rose, who seemed to be early? Just what time did she arrive, Bob won't tell me."

"Then ask her, she's your friend. Did you get everything arranged for tomorrow night as I asked?"

"Yes, Olly's putting it on the paper's social media account though I told him he's not off the hook yet over releasing Danny's name," she replied as he pulled one of his faces, that of sucking on his bottom lip that annoyed the hell out of her.

She knew he hadn't forgiven her or her nephew over that. Now she was supposed to organise the whole reconstruction and had told Tom last night before Hardy had arrived that he was to lead it. Fortunately, he'd taken the news fairly well and he'd agreed to do it for his friend but she still wasn't happy about it.

"So, you're not going to tell me how lunch went with my friend or why she arrived early?" she tried again as he indicated for her to leave. "Sir, she's my friend and you running off the other day to see if it was her concerns me."

"Shut the door Miller."

Ellie did as he asked as he took his specs off. "You were the one that said it was a shame she couldn't have been there last night. So which is it Miller? Are you trying to tell me to stay away from her or play cupid?"

Chapter 8
Ellie stared at him.

"Well?" he asked, waiting for her to answer.

"She's my friend and I won't have you screwing her around. If you want to see her, then don't mess with her. Yes, I would have invited her last night if she'd not been working but any sign you are just stringing her along, I'll warn her. So, why was she here early?" she turned the tables on him, hoping not to get a reprimand for defending her friend.

"You think I'm going to screw her around Miller? As for her arriving early, she wanted to make sure there were no misunderstandings between us that would get in the way of her interview. Yes, we've had a few official encounters where we did not exactly get on but I would not have wanted that to get in the way of her helping us with our enquires," he replied, since Rose had inferred to the desk sergeant that was why she had come to see him.

"I hope that's it?" Ellie dared ask him. "So why did you go after her the other day?"

"That's none of your business Miller. It was nothing to do with her, we had just come from the newsagents earlier, if you remember?"

Ellie did remember – that he had been rude and asked Jack Marshall personal questions and the newsagent had been rude back.

"You thought you'd upset Jack and you were concerned about him?" Ellie dared grin.

Alec felt like telling her to take that look off her face.

"An ambulance was there Miller, how was I to know who was in attendance?" he replied.

Ellie wondered if he was trying to fool her or himself.

"Well I turned around when you headed back there, I was sure it was Rose you were talking to," she admitted.

Alec wondered about the two of them, both had been watching each other.

"So, what was wrong with him?" Ellie continued.

"Ask your friend," Alec replied, putting his specs back on. "Anything else? You have plenty of work to do and call me when the other paramedic arrives."

Ellie knew she'd get nothing out of Hardy. She knew he'd pulled the old 'I'm a police officer, tell me why you've been called out' trick on Rose, he wouldn't have tried it with her partner. He knew Rose would have to tell him if he'd asked her.

Alec tried to get on with his work, his head was still hurting from the fall last night but he couldn't let on plus he was wondering why the hell he'd accepted another dinner invitation just because he wanted a few more answers out of the blonde – especially since she had more to tell him about the Millers.

At least the dinner conversation may be more interesting than last night and she now knew not to get him to drink more than he was comfortable with but he wasn't going to cut her any slack, well maybe not at first, depending on what she had to tell him but he still couldn't use any of it.

If it was more to do with Mark Latimer, then maybe but the husband of his DS, who had a temper and had known Danny? It seemed an interesting point and she'd been right to raise her concern over it but it could only be a coincidence and she had no proof Joe Miller had any connection to Danny's death. He couldn't just dismiss what she had told him though – which was why he had agreed to hear the rest.

Ellie had gone back to her desk in a huff, if he messed Rose around, she'd make sure he knew about it – boss or no boss. Maybe she shouldn't have mentioned that she'd thought of inviting her friend over at the same time but she'd only been trying to even things out though Hardy hadn't talked much. Even Joe had said he was quiet while she'd gone off but she needed to have words with her husband about forcing drinks on guests, since Rose had also objected a few times.

After they had interviewed Steven, who had backed Rose up over the callout to see to Danny's injury a few weeks before, Alec had Ellie call the coroner to see if there were any signs of a gash on the bottom of his foot, since he'd not at first believed Mark Latimer, especially after forgetting the name of the 'friend' he'd claimed to be out with that night when all along it had been Becca Fisher, who had found him collapsed on his bathroom floor, as Rose had reminded him.

He sat back for a moment – both women had saved him in their own way but Rose had kept him alive to get him to hospital so he could at least accept her dinner invitation as a way of thanking her and not getting more information out of her. It could have been any of the ambulance crews who had been sent last night but as he'd already pointed out, it just had to be her.

He still couldn't quite understand why she'd chosen to go back and stay with him though, even when she'd claimed she didn't want to leave him on his own and he bet she had never done that before but to find her leaning on him when he'd woken up?

He thought of getting his DS to call the ambulance service and request a medical presence at the re-enactment the following night and to ask for Rose personally but she might know it was him who had requested her in particular. Maybe he should wait and ask her to volunteer but if he left it too late, they may assign a crew who were covering that area and he wasn't sure that would be her.

Instead, he got up and crossed to Ellie's desk.

"We should have an ambulance on standby tomorrow night, for those who find the walk too much," he announced without warning, Ellie jumping up since she was taking a drink and going over some information.

"Fine, I'll get on with it when I've finished all the other jobs before I go home then?" she asked him, making those around her smile.

"Well they won't have anyone to spare if we don't request assistance now," he reminded her.

Ellie wanted to say why didn't he just come out and ask her to get Rose to do it? She was surprised when he muttered something about he'd see to it himself and she knew who he was going to ask for. He'd be in for a shock if either Rose wasn't on duty at that time or they told him it would be whoever was nearby.

Alec got through to the supervisor and asked for their presence when he told them what it was for.

"Of course, DI Hardy, we'll make a crew available from that time but I could ask for volunteers of those who are due to finish around that time so as to minimise any disruptions," the supervisor told him.

Alec thanked him and was pleased he'd not had to ask for Rose by name. Now all he had to do was mention it to her later and hope she took the bait by volunteering herself and her partner. If it helped catch Danny's killer though she may suggest it herself, especially if she suspected Joe Miller had something to do with it. He needed more proof though and if he listened to her, she may be willing to help him, as long as she trusted him.

He had to trust her now though, she knew his secret but so did her partner and he would keep quiet since they weren't allowed to talk about patients they'd taken to hospital without being questioned officially so he was safe enough for now he supposed.

He was still working at six thirty as others were leaving , Ellie waving to them but then getting up herself, went to his office.

"I need to go home to see my boys," she announced, since she needed to talk to Tom about the following night.

"Fine, go then, everyone else is leaving," he agreed, Ellie thinking he would object.

She wondered if Rose had anything to do with it.

"You should leave too, since you took a whack to your head last night," she told him.

Alec was glad most of the staff had already gone.

"Do not go repeating that Miller. If anyone is to blame, it's your husband, he should not be encouraging police officers to drink," Alec replied.

"I told you I've already tried that, he takes no notice. We don't get many work colleagues as guests," Ellie replied.

Alec couldn't imagine why not.

"So did you invite Rose Tyler as a colleague of your husband at first?" he wondered out loud.

So he was trying to get information, Ellie mused.

"When she arrived in town, she didn't know anyone and Joe felt sorry for her so we invited her round. I soon made friends with her and introduced her to Beth and a few others. Even after Joe left to look after Fred, we stayed friends."

"So you saw a lot of each other socially?" Alec thought he'd ask, without raising any suspicions.

"Now and then, not all the time, we had our separate lives and Rose worked some funny hours," Ellie replied. "Which was why Joe choose to stay at home. It was okay for Rose, being on her own but the hours don't suit everyone. Until now, I'd always finished at five and my youngest is noticing I'm not there to put him to bed."

Alec wondered if he was meant to apologise for keeping her working late?

"We have the reconstruction tomorrow night, who will watch your youngest then?" he asked.

"I have a babysitter I can call. I'd ask Olly but he'll be covering for the paper. Anything else?" she wanted to know.

Alec wanted to ask all kinds of questions about Rose Tyler but he'd get no answers and Rose would get to know, probably before he arrived for his dinner date. He shook his head and leaned back in his chair, Ellie taking that as she was free to leave.

"Sir, I hope that reconstruction will do some good," she told him.

"It will, it will give the town something to focus on, that we're seen to be doing something instead of things going on behind the scenes."

"Did you get an ambulance crew?" she asked, Alec knowing she was trying to find out if he'd asked for Rose.

"They will ask for volunteers out of those going off duty. Goodnight Miller."

Ellie turned, smiling to herself. That was his way of saying Rose would get to know about it and volunteer just to annoy him, judging how irritated she'd been on the beach with him last week. She knew they were playing some kind of game with each other, pretending they couldn't stand each other but she still wondered what had gone on outside the newsagents and she doubted either of them would ever tell her.

Alec gave Ellie ten minutes before thinking about calling for a cab to take him up to the hotel, it was all uphill and he was still recovering from his brush with death last night. Then he had a better idea and going downstairs, asked if any patrol cars were going that way.

He got out in front of the hotel and looked across the street to see if the convenience store was still open. He went across and chose some chocolates to take with him and hoped he could sneak them past the hotel owner. After Rose had been in the hotel, even to rescue him, the woman might get suspicious or even worse, think they were for her after she found him and called for help.

He escaped Becca Fisher but not a certain Karen White, who after being refused a desk at the newspaper office, had camped out in the lounge. She'd seen him passing and got up, calling after him.

"So, come on then, got five minutes to spare for a quick interview as to how the case is going?" she asked, leaning in the doorway as Alec was about to take the stairs.

"You are not serious?" he replied, the chocolates under his arm.

"Don't tell me you've already spoken to the local reporter?" she asked, after she'd seen him cross the road earlier when he'd been talking to a blonde woman, who had gone off.

"Why would I talk to any reporter?" he wanted to know, wanting to get changed and make himself presentable for his dinner invite and the annoying reporter was delaying him.

"Going somewhere?" Karen tried changing the subject, nodding to the chocolates.

"Forget it Ms White, you won't get anything out of me."

"Got a date with a blonde? I saw you earlier, across from the police station," she tried to get him to admit.

"Try printing anything and see how fast your editor pulls the plug," Alec warned her. "Does he know you're here?"

He knew she was acting on her own when she didn't reply.

"Thought not," he gloated, as he began to climb the stairs, slowly.

He didn't want to get all worked up and her call for an ambulance, that would be the end of his career until he sorted himself, which he'd put off again. It wouldn't be Rose coming to rescue him this time, it would be another crew and whoever it was wouldn't stay all night with him.

"If you want to talk, you know where to find me?" Karen called after him as Becca came out of the bar.

"Everything okay?" Becca asked the reporter. "Was that DI Hardy going upstairs?"

"Yeah, he declined to talk to me," Karen replied, about to go back into the lounge. "I think he's in a hurry, he had a box of chocolates under his arm."

"Really? I've not seen him with anyone," Becca grinned. "Unless?" she wondered.

Karen was interested.

"No, it wouldn't be that," Becca dismissed it, giving her guest no information as she went back in the bar.

Becca thought she'd best not say maybe they were for her, after she found him in time last night? If she said anything to the reporter, the detective wouldn't thank her if Karen White printed that he'd been found on the bathroom floor and she'd called the paramedics. Maybe the chocolates were just to ensure her silence though?

She caught one of the staff and asked her to watch the bar and seeing Karen had gone back inside, went upstairs and knocked on Alec's door. Alec was just taking his shirt off to go get a quick shower since he'd not had the time that morning when he heard the knock. Quickly fastening a few shirt buttons in case the annoying reporter had bribed Becca into giving her his room number, he asked who it was as he opened the door slightly.

"Hey, have you got a minute?" Becca asked him, trying to avoid the fact his shirt wasn't fastened properly and kicking herself for admitting she was with Mark the night Danny had been killed and Alec Hardy knew about it.

"That depends if the reporter sent you," Alec replied, trying not to let her in.

"It's about last night. I didn't tell her you were taken to hospital, in case you were wondering?"

"I wasn't," Alec told her. "I'm in a hurry so if you would get to the point?"

"Well I just wanted to tell you that, well I wouldn't say anything about them taking you, not to anyone. I mean you're not in the habit of doing that are you, collapsing on the bathroom floor? Only they never said what was wrong with you."

"I thought I told you this morning? They stitched me up, I'm fine. I had dinner out and drank a little too much, that's all there is to it."

"Well, okay then. Going out again, on a date maybe?" Becca dared ask him.

Now Alec knew the reporter had sent her.

"Is this an interview?" he asked, wondering why otherwise she was the second person to ask him.

"No, sorry. I shouldn't keep you. You'll not be in the dining room then?"

Alec thought if he said no, she would definitely know he had a dinner date.

"No, I'm going out, which is why I am trying to get ready," he replied, which was his way of saying he didn't normally answer the door with his shirt unfastened, though if it had been Rose, he may have made an exception to see her reaction.

Who was he kidding though? She'd seen him last night while she was trying to keep him alive long enough to get him to the hospital, he had to remind himself, not that she would have been taking much notice unless she'd stayed to see the orderly get him changed into a hospital gown. He'd just been glad they'd not removed his shorts, not that she would have been able to see, since he was laid in bed.

Becca finally got the hint and left, assuming wherever he was going, the chocolates were for them and not for her. So much for him thanking her for not telling then, if she was in that frame of mind it would be round the town by morning but then he'd check out and she'd lose the police paying for him.

She saw Karen as she got downstairs.

"You had no luck either finding out where he was going?" Karen asked her.

Becca just shrugged her shoulders and hoped if Hardy had any sense, he'd be thanking Rose for also being discreet over his little incident. Unluckily though, Maggie from the newspaper had got to know through her friend at the hospital that the detective had been in and seen leaving with a blonde quite early but since she'd asked her friend to find out what he was doing there, she was keeping it to herself.

Alec finally made himself presentable, just as Rose was putting the finishing touches to the meal she'd been preparing. She'd been to get changed into a semi-decent red dress she kept in case she accepted a date, which was very rare. It was that one or the one she wore if she went to Ellie's or something to do with work. Well, it would have to do, it was just dinner to finish telling the annoying detective more about Joe Miller because he didn't want her to be late for her interview.

What had he expected, for her to carry on talking over at the food court? He could have at least seemed a little more enthusiastic about it before she'd watched him cross the road after they'd eaten. Why had he accepted, just to hear what she had to say? He'd already told her there was nothing he could do.

Alec ordered taxi to take him to where he'd dropped Rose off that morning, glad it wasn't the same driver and was soon there, since it wasn't that far, less than a mile but after the night before, it would have been foolish to try and find the place on foot. As he paid the driver, hoping he'd get the same one on the way back, he wished now he'd also got some flowers, since she knew he shouldn't be bringing wine.

He went to the entrance of the middle block, around the back since the driver actually went around, unlike the other one and located the intercom. It made Rose jump, even though she'd been expecting him but she'd thought maybe he'd back out at the last minute.

"Hello," Rose answer on the second ring.

Alec wondered who else she was expecting.

"It's Alec Hardy, had you forgotten your invitation?" he replied, despite telling himself on the way there he should try to be polite.

"Come on up, you remember where I told you?" she asked, wondering if he was going to be that gruff all night.

If he was, it would be a short dinner and she'd just tell him the rest she'd started earlier and hint he should leave. She could always use the excuse she was tired after staying at the hospital with him all night and that he himself could use the extra sleep.
She opened the door, waiting for the lift to arrive and hoped he wouldn't be stupid enough to climb the stairs. He hadn't as the lift bell went and he got out, seeing her watching him. He thought maybe she thought he'd get lost or stopped on the floor below and have the lift go back down again.

"Hi, come in," she greeted him as Alec approached the door.

He held the chocolates out to her, not the cheap ones either, since the store actually had a choice.

"Thanks, want to take your jacket off, dinner's almost ready. I made chicken casserole, hope you're hungry?"

Even though he'd had a late breakfast, which hadn't been as much as she'd eaten, he was feeling a little hungry.

"Anything I can help you with?" he asked as he hung his jacket up in the entryway.

"Oh, you can light the candles if you want and pull the curtains across? I hate being seen when I decide to actually eat at the table, unless I'm out somewhere, of course," she tried to joke.

Alec looked for something to light them with as Rose went into the kitchen, spying a lighter she must have already got out.

"Did you hear anything from DS Miller?" he asked as he pulled the curtains over. "She asked why you were already there, after I got back from lunch."

"No, she didn't call," Rose replied as she got the plates out and hoped the small potatoes were done enough in the steamer, along with the vegetables.

"I just wondered, she asked enough questions," he admitted, trying not to say his DS had also warned him.

Rose hoped he wasn't going to talk about Ellie all night when she wanted to tell him about what Joe had done, after the car park incident. It still bothered her after all that time that he'd used her to get out of admitting to Ellie that he'd got into an argument and he'd never even thanked her or explained where he really was. Did Joe see her there, watching him get pulled off the other man?

She kept silent about it as they ate, talking about trivial things and how long she'd been a paramedic, including what had made her settle in Broadchurch.

"Trust me Alec, after doing my training in London, I was just glad to get somewhere quiet," she smiled as she sat back. "I asked if I could complete my training on the job. I wanted my mum to come with me but she wouldn't leave. Anyway, they had a training scheme here so I got paired with Joe Miller."

Alec saw his chance to find out if the car park had really been the first time he'd lost his temper like that.

"I told ya Alec, he'd only got mad at drivers getting in the way and his nephew being nosy but something is bothering me," she admitted. "Want some dessert?"

"You are changing the subject again Rose," he reminded her.

"Sorry. It's just something occurred to me. I think he knew I was watching that evening in the car park."

Alec put his cutlery down.

"Then tell me the rest and why you think that."

Chapter 9
Rose seemed to Alec that she was reluctant to tell him any more.

"Rose," he began, reaching to touch her hand across the table. "I know I may have said there is nothing I can do about what you have already told me but I can listen. How long have you been bottling this up?"

Rose tried to move her hand but his was placed firmly on it.

"Since the day after the car park incident. When I got home, I got a call from Ellie asking if we'd been working late and that Joe hadn't got home."

"You told me that already," he tried to smile.

"Yeah, I know," Rose replied, giving up trying to move his hand. "Well the next morning, he never said a word to me about it. I could hear him telling her he waited for me coming out of the supermarket. He lied to her Alec, to cover what had really happened and she can't have found out about it. He didn't want her to know he'd lost his temper and he used me as an excuse."

"I get you feel he used you Rose," Alec told her, moving his chair slightly. "What you are trying to say is that you feel he should have apologised to you or at least thank you for playing along?"

"Well something like that. He'd never asked for me to cover for him before, goodness knows what he told Ellie when I'd hung up. He never said a 'thanks for covering for me last night' or gave me a reason why he'd told her he was waiting for me. It was like he'd totally forgotten about it but now, I wonder if he was waiting for me to say something and he suspected I saw what happened. What if he was daring me to tell Ellie?"

"Well maybe? Why though? If he lost his temper and thought you saw it and you told his wife, what was he expecting?" he asked her.

"I might be friends with them but not that much. Maybe that was the first and last time he did something like that but if she found out? If someone had called the police and she'd turned up?"

"Then maybe he should have thanked you? So what makes you think he knows you saw him? Do you think he was using that against you to ensure your silence?"

Rose tried to move back and he knew he had hit a raw nerve.

"Oh, you do? You think he was using that to keep you quiet, that you had seen what he was capable of and if he knew you'd seen him? Rose, that is mental blackmail, you should have told someone," he continued.

"I told Steven, just after Joe left and I got partnered with him. He felt sorry for me but all he could do was just tell me to try and forget it and that nothing had come of it."

"That's as maybe but now, you think if he had a temper and he knew Danny and that the boy maybe somehow crossed him? If like you said, Joe lost his temper at a man cutting him off when he was as much to blame, what did Danny say to him?"

He wasn't liking where this was going but without any proof as such, it was just Rose who was worried she may be right.

"Danny wasn't killed on the beach, was he?" Rose dared ask.

"What makes you think that?"

"You keep saying we work together?" she questioned him.

"No, we believe he was killed at the hut up on Briar Cliff, some time between 10pm Thursday night and 6pm Friday morning. So if you are right and you suspect Joe Miller had been somehow losing his temper, why did no-one see them meeting up there? How did his wife not notice he was gone?"

"Have ya asked her, if he went out?" she wanted to know.

Alec looked at her.

"So officer's husbands are not classed as suspects?" Rose tried to smile. "He'd worked a few crime scenes Alec, he knew how the police gathered evidence."

"What are you trying to say? That I should just ask her?"

"You could cover it up by asking all female officers where their husbands were that night," she replied.

"Do you know everyone there already hates me?" he asked, moving his hand to sit back.

He could see the look on her face that she'd not wanted him to move his hand.

"Can't you do it tactfully or is that not in your nature?" she teased him.

He knew he'd made a big mistake accepting her invitation but his curiosity had got the better of him.

"The chief would never agree. Are you trying to say you know he lured Danny up there and strangled him? For what reason?"

"I'm not saying that Alec. I knew he'd not been killed on the beach, if he'd been there overnight, someone would have spotted him before that, there would have been late night walkers. He had to have been taken there, someone probably used a boat, to get him from the hut, there are boats down at the bottom."

How had he missed that one? More importantly, why had she been the one to point it out?

"I'll have someone see if any boats are missing then? Whoever it was could have had access to one or cut a chain. Back to Joe Miller. I should not be discussing this with you."

"Who else have you to talk to? Ya can't talk to Ellie can ya?"

"Thank you for pointing that fact out. Why should I discuss it with you?" he wanted to know.

"Alec, you trusted me last night, to save you. Yeah, maybe you had no choice in it but I stayed with you and as you pointed out, I didn't have to. I said I'd tell no-one Alec, you can trust me enough to tell me things."

Maybe she was right? Who else could he trust? He'd done nothing but argue with her since the day they had met and she still kept coming back for more.

"Well okay then but just the basics and it goes no further – understood?" Rose did a mock salute. "Take that grin off your face and come over here."

"What?" asked a confused Rose.

"You need someone to confide in, about Joe Miller. I need someone to confide in that I put my surgery off for a reason. I may not get through it and I have to find out who killed Danny. I can't go to the chief with what you told me. If you are wrong, what then?"

"You know I'm not wrong about him, don't ya?" she asked, debating if she should get up as he moved his chair back.

They could carry on being enemies but that wouldn't help his condition.

"Do I make ya feel worse when you get mad with me?"

Alec looked just as confused as she was.

"Sometimes. What are we going to do about it? You don't help you know? Every time we meet you get me a riled up, you know that."

"Listen who's talking," Rose grinned. "Steven just rolls his eyes, I know he wants to say something. He'll end up telling me to do something about it, maybe he already has and I just ignored him."

"Miller told me not to mess you around, she gave me quite a lecture after I had lunch with you."

"Well she wouldn't have given ya one without a reason," Rose smiled. "Ya must have given her one?"

"I did no such thing," he defended himself, trying to remember if he actually had done. "She's your friend."

"That's no excuse Alec. What did ya say to her?"

"Forget it. Geez Rose, you're at it again. If I had never collapsed last night, we would not be having this conversation. So I put my surgery off and now I regret it, I have you on my case now as well as my own GP."

"Well excuse me for being concerned about you," Rose huffed, thinking now she was definitely not going to do as he had suggested and go over to him.

What did he even want her to go over there for anyway?

"I never asked you to did I?" he replied for what he thought was one time too many.

"Now who's at it again?" Rose huffed as she got up and pushed her chair back. "I'll go get dessert then?"

Alec was about to reply he would rather she was the dessert but in her present mood she would probably slap him – bad heart or no bad heart.

"Fine, then I will be out of your way," he called after her instead, knowing this had been a worse mistake than last night. "I had no inclination last night that Joe Miller had a temper," he added as she disappeared into the kitchen.

"Well I did, before he blew up that day," Rose called back to him as she went into the fridge.

Alec suddenly got up, willing himself not to get dizzy and Rose having to revive him yet again and went up behind her. He put his hand on her shoulder.

"Sorry, maybe I should just leave?"

"You don't have to. This is what we do, in case you've not noticed?" she asked him.

"Why is that? I mean I know the reason I get mad with you."

"I have no idea. Maybe I don't trust you enough?" she replied.

"Why not? Because I took your friend's job?"

"That's not fair Alec. Yes, she thought she was gonna get it and I was happy for her but the chief must have had a reason to give you it instead?"

"She did. I came here to lie low, on medical advice and instead I get a dead boy on the beach and you," he half smiled.

"That's supposed to make me feel better?" she asked him, turning around and resting her hands on the counter behind her.

"She was the only chief willing to take me on after my last case and if she found out I was ill, she would throw me out. You are the only other person who knows. I have no choice but to trust you but when we constantly get to each other? I could have stayed in Sandbrook and let my ex wife carry on having a go at me."

"She did?"

"Why do you think I was in a hurry to leave and take a job meant for someone else? I did not know it would be your friend who lost out to me, all I was told was that a vacancy had come up and I didn't get turned down for it. At that point, I was in no position to refuse it. Hell Rose, my own daughter's not even talking to me, how could I have stayed there?"

Rose suddenly straightened up.

"I had no idea, sorry. See, told ya I didn't help."

"You did, last night when you saved me because of me being stupid and putting off my surgery. I have less than a fifty percent chance of surviving it. I planned on solving this case and go for it in a month's time, if I don't put it off again. I was meant to go this Friday, then Danny was found on the beach."

"You should have gone for it. I heard what they said in the hospital Alec. Okay, Danny's death was a shock but no excuse to stop you from killing yourself trying to find out who did it but what if I'm right, about Joe?"

"I know you want to be right," he replied. "Hell Rose, what do you want me to do about it with no proof?"

"I don't know? Maybe find some? Let me talk to Ellie, I'll say I was thinking about the time Joe told her he was waiting for me that night, see if she'll tell me what happened afterwards?"

"That's not a good idea Rose. Do you want to fall out with her over it? She had just got back from holiday, right?" he asked.

"Yeah, they'd been to Florida, she took the extra week 'cos she was sure she was getting that promotion. Every time she goes on long flights she gets jetlag, she takes pills for it."

"So she takes them and goes to sleep, early?" he asked. "So, she does not know if her husband was there all night?"

Rose stared at him. What had she just started?

"No, she'd have had no idea. Alec, surely he wouldn't go out and leave the two boys? Tom's watched his younger brother for a few minutes but for Joe to sneak out and find Danny?"

"Rose, I should not tell you this but we have CCTV of Danny skateboarding down the High Street. He must have arranged to meet someone and maybe Joe Miller either was that someone or he knew who Danny was meeting?"

Rose looked at him. "Maybe Tom saw him leaving?"

"I doubt that, it was late but Danny sneaked out and his parents had no idea he was missing. If Joe knew his wife would not wake, it was safe enough for him to go out. If I take this to the chief, it could go either way. She would say if his wife was asleep that she could not prove if he was there or not and the CPS would question it, without further proof."

"There's a camera up by the hut," Rose replied.

"We know but he was not on it," he admitted, not willing to say that the boy's father was waiting for someone.

Then he had an idea, to ask Mark Latimer if he saw any lights on in the hut.

"What I told you would be enough proof," Rose replied.

"I'm sorry but it's very little to go on. No-one would remember a fight in the supermarket car park and even if they did, they may not be willing to get involved. If two men broke Joe and another man up, they are not likely to admit they did so. Rose, I wish that was enough but it's not, not on just your say so. I believe you are right, that he could have lost his temper with Danny but there is no proof he was even up there that night with Danny."

"I told ya, he knows about how evidence is worked," she reminded him.

"So does any other senior paramedic Rose. So does any female officer's husband or boyfriend if they talked about it, there is still nothing to say he was there. Don't get any dessert out for me, I have to be careful what I eat and I really should be going."

"Back to your hotel room to be on your own?" she asked him. "Should you even be on your own?"

"I could ask Becca Fisher to keep knocking on my door, if you insist?" he joked.

"Or you could stay a while longer? I'm still worried about you putting off your surgery. Can't ya get it changed again?"

"Then what hmm? No, I have to get whoever killed Danny locked up first. If I've not found out who that is by the time my appointment comes up, then I will have to risk putting it off again. I am not going to let another killer get away."

"You already are Alec. I told ya who I suspect but that's not what I meant. You may kill yourself in the process."

"You are over-reacting."

"Am I?" Rose asked him, leaning back on the counter again as Alec stepped nearer.

"Yes, you are. If you are so concerned about me, maybe I could stay as long as we are not going to keep talking about your theories?"

"You know I'm right? You said there was something else I wasn't telling ya."

"What? Oh I may have done but you are not going to tell me, are you?"

"I can't Alec. I can't get over finding Danny on the beach, that's all. Steven said I should get help but I don't want it getting back to my boss. I was gonna go see the vicar but I went to see you instead."

"That was your decision Rose."

"Well excuse me for trying to help ya see I think Joe Miller's got something to do with it rather than how finding Danny affected me."

She folded her arms then tried to move but he stood in front of her.

"Well go then, if ya'd rather be on your own all night but that was why I stayed with ya last night. I didn't want ya to wake up and no-one was there for ya."

He reached for her arm. Why did they keep doing this? He should leave, he knew he should so what was stopping him?

"I did thank you for staying with me, did I not? I brought you flowers and chocolates, to say thank you and yes, I should have accepted the invitation to dinner as such and I apologise for not doing so."

What was happening to him, he was actually apologising. She tried to shake his arm off, not too much, he was thinking. She was looking at him, then his hand was on her arm. She reached her other hand over and put it on top of his.

"Why do we keep fighting?" she asked him.

"You are asking me?" he smiled. "I know it upset you, finding Danny on the beach. Was he face down when you arrived?"

Rose nodded. "Steven turned him over, carefully, in case there was any chance Danny had only just stopped breathing."

"I know you both would have tried but he had been gone a while before he was found, the coroner confirmed that, I should have told you. What was he doing up at the hut in the first place and if you are right, why was he meeting Joe Miller?"

"Danny was Tom's friend, maybe Tom would know?" Rose suggested.

"Miller was bad enough when I suggested he led a reconstruction tomorrow night," Alec tried to smile.

"Oh, I hadn't heard anything," Rose replied, absent-mindedly stroking his hand.

Alec noticed but didn't say anything. "Miller was putting it out, if she remembered. Tom is going to skateboard from just above the Traders Hotel down to the harbour to see if anyone remembers seeing Danny. I requested an ambulance to be in attendance. What time are you on duty tomorrow?"

"You're looking for volunteers?" Rose smiled.

"The supervisor said he would see who was around at that time. Maybe you and your partner would say something?"

"I'll ask Steven when I get to work but yeah, it's the least we can do, since we found Danny."

Alec knew she wouldn't be able to resist it, he'd not even had to try to get her to do it.

"Rose, if you really are worried about me, why don't you start by telling me why finding Danny affected you so much?" He moved closer, putting his other hand on her shoulder. "Well?"

"I'd never found a child like that before, okay?" she replied, trying to move but not too much.

"It doesn't get any better Rose, trust me. I had seen children die before but until I found that girl in the river, well that was the worst I had faced and the man who left her in the woods is still walking around somewhere. I can't let someone else get away who left a boy on a beach to be found."

"I didn't know it was you who found that girl Alec, sorry. We had a job to do and it didn't hit me until afterwards. I thought I'd shake it off but it won't go away. Does it ever?"

He moved her hand and put his on her other shoulder. He leaned closer, brushing her hair with his nose, as if to whisper to her.

"No Rose but you have to try. It helps talking to someone who has been through it. You can talk to me, unless you would rather go see the Reverend Coates?"

"I expect he has a lot of experience with things like that? Not first hand though?"

"I doubt it. Why don't we sit down and you tell me how you feel about it?"

"Yeah, I've had you standing here all this time and I was telling you to take it easy. Sorry."

"I was as much to blame. Why do we keep fighting Rose?" he asked, now brushing her hair back with his hand.

She grasped his hand. "I have no idea but you said you know why you did it, care to tell me?" she asked, brushing her cheek against his hand.

"You annoyed the hell out of me because of the way you handled yourself. It reminded me of my ex, how efficient she appeared to be until she screwed up the investigation we were both working on. I never told anyone but she lost the only evidence we had to lock up the man who killed that girl, Pippa. She was twelve Rose, the same age as Danny and I can't let it get to me."

"It has though, hasn't it? Then they say I need help," she smiled. "Who's gonna help you? We could help each other, call a truce?" she suggested.

"And ruin my hard-ass reputation?" he smiled, touching her cheek with his finger, seeing it was having an effect on her as she didn't flinch. "Well maybe if you promise not to tell anyone I gave in?"

"That might be difficult," she smiled, turning to him. "Don't ya wanna know why I got irritated with you?"

"Then enlighten me, after you let me try to kiss you."

"You’re so full of it, Alec Hardy," she giggled.

"Maybe so but I can't ruin my reputation altogether, can I?" he asked, kissing her cheek lightly and seeing her reaction, repeated it. "So, are you going to slap my face and tell me to leave if I try?"

"There's only one way to find out, Alec," she teased him.

"Well in that case, if you don't slap my face, you have to promise to let me help you get over finding Danny."

"Only if I can help you and you can start by calling to get an earlier appointment for your surgery."

He moved away slightly, since Rose's arms had somehow got around his waist without him even noticing.

"I can't Rose, I have to solve this case."

"You will and you'll do it a lot quicker if you get better. I might not be the one to find you next time and if you died and I wasn't there, how do ya think that'll make me feel?"

Alec hadn't thought about how it would affect anyone, not even his daughter. Now here was this young woman who had annoyed the hell out of him trying to tell him she cared.

"Well?" she asked him as he considered.

"I will call them, on one condition."

"What's that?" she asked, half knowing what the answer would be. "You want me to go with ya?"

"Would you?" he asked, kissing her cheek again then touching it.

"What do ya think? I went back last night because I couldn't bear to think if you didn't make it, no-one would be there for you."

"You are a very caring person Rose. Now, are we going to stop talking long enough for me to kiss you?"

Chapter 10
Rose wasn't quite sure how he had changed the subject so quickly. One minute they're talking of him having surgery after he'd admitted what the hospital had already mentioned and the next, he was angling his face to judge her reaction.

"Hang on a second," she replied, after he'd gone for the kill and kissed her lips gently and she'd been taken aback slightly, since he'd not given her chance to reply.

"Do you always do that?" he asked, giving nothing away as to if he was annoyed she'd interrupted him or not. "Rose, you annoy the hell out of me and to my mind there are only two things I can do about it and that's either walk away and keep as far away as possible from you, which in this town would be extremely difficult to do and I have no chance of getting another transfer or we can both save ourselves time and accept the inevitable."

"The inevitable?" Rose questioned him, trying to back off but he still had his hand on her arm. "I should slap you right now Mister. Is this because I stayed with ya?"

"What?" he asked, now totally confused, since she'd made a point of repeatedly telling him she'd felt sorry for him last night. "Then why keep telling me why you stayed with me then? Geez Rose, what is it with you?"

"Well excuse me, for feeling sorry for ya," Rose replied, not bothering to move his arm.

"Well I just hope you are as confused as I am right now," he told her, letting go and wondering if she'd notice, since she hadn't been trying to move it.

"Huh, you're not as confused as I am," she replied, trying to remember how they'd ended up face to face and he'd just tried to kiss her, which she shouldn't have been so surprised at, since he'd hinted he wanted to.

"I knew I should have left," he thought to himself as she dodged him and crossed to the fridge. "I should get going, I could do with a walk."

"I didn't mean for ya to leave Alec," she replied, thinking maybe she'd been a bit hasty in dodging him trying to kiss her.

"Then what the hell do you mean Rose, eh? I'm just as confused over this as you are or did you not think about that? I can't walk away, if that's what you are going to tell me to do so that leaves the other option. Stop fighting me Rose. I know you're upset over finding Danny like that but I can help you with it. Unless you would rather seek the vicar's consolation?" he grinned slightly.

"Shut up," she half smiled as he stepped towards her.

"I can help you Rose, if you stop fighting me. I can stop being infuriated with you if you stop being so annoying."

"Geez Alec, that's a great way of getting me to stop. Did ya fail the psychology exam?"

"Who said I took one?" he asked, trying to put his arm around her and to try to kiss her again without actually getting a slap.

He somehow didn't think she would actually do it, given his condition but she knew how to confuse a guy.

"What do you say Rose? You did suggest a truce, if I heard you correctly. How about it? Forget my hard-ass reputation, the whole town will know soon enough if we keep annoying each other in public. Hell, Miller's already guessed there's more to it and so does your partner so who are we going to fool?" he asked. "I know you got annoyed on the beach, I can understand that but it affected you more than it did anyone else. Why Rose? Can't you tell me?"

"Because I was upset some disturbed person thought it was better to leave him on the beach to be discovered than leaving him where he was. Who does that sort of thing Alec? To have left him where he'd been killed, then I might have understood that but it was like he'd been put on display," she replied, wanting to give in.

Alec knew she did so he went to put his arms around her neck.

"Come here Rose, stop fighting me eh?"

"When we found Danny, I was hoping at first he'd got into trouble out at sea, despite being in the sea brigade but then I saw the marks on his neck. Someone either didn't know their own strength or got mad with him but either way, they killed him Alec. How didn't it affect Ellie?"

"We all react differently Rose, she had her husband to go home to, she's just better at covering it up than you are. You're a paramedic Rose, you're trained not to react when you see something but it doesn't make things any better when you know the victim. So, what's it going to be? Counselling from the local vicar or some advice from a friend, if you will let me be your friend? Will you stop fighting me?"

He took the chance to lean his chin on the top of her head, then kissed her forehead.

"Let me help you come to terms with it Rose? I had no-one when I found that girl in the river, things were already going wrong with my ex even then."

"Sorry, I didn't realise. No-one was there for ya then and no-one's here for you now you're ill?"

"I have you," he smiled, looking at her. Rose put one arm around his back. "You said you'd go with me for my surgery but if I back away from you, then you will be right, I will have no-one."

Why did he keep doing this to her she wondered. Did he have a talent for it?

"I said I'd go with ya Alec but if ya try to avoid me all the time, I won't know exactly when, will I?"

She did have a point, he thought.

"Come here Rose, I will help you all I can but you maybe need some professional advice? Sometimes though, talking helps. When I find out who did that to Danny, maybe I should just leave them to you and his mother eh?" he smiled. "When they are caught, I'm going to reopen that other case and get the person who left Pippa in the river or in the woods for what they did to her. You are right, who does that to a child? Who leaves them in a public place?"

"You're the detective Alec, you're supposed to tell me. It still haunts you? How long has it been?" she asked, finding herself not so mad with him now and her other arm now around him as he gestured for her to lean on his shoulder.

"Just over a year since she was found, three days after she and her older cousin went missing. Who leaves a child to be found instead of like you said, leaving them where they were killed? I know the answer Rose but it won't help, you don't want to know the answer," he replied as Rose tried to look up at him.

"I know what ya gonna say Alec. Whoever killed Danny and that girl were either wanting them to be discovered or they were showing off. Maybe in their sick, twisted minds they thought them being found faster would help? If so, then why kill them to begin with, if they didn't want to put their families through hell with them being missing?"

"I said you should become a detective Rose. Exactly, they were both killed to cover something up, there is no other explanation. With Pippa, I suspected she found out something about her neighbours, in particular about the man we think killed her. Maybe Danny had discovered something about his killer?"

"Was that why they were meeting up there then?" Rose asked him, liking the feeling of resting on his shoulder better than she should be doing, since she'd not let him actually kiss her yet.

"It could have been? Maybe they had arranged to meet and things got out of hand but who was he meeting? Another boy his age or an adult? You still think Joe Miller had something to do with it?" he asked her, kissing the top of her head without thinking.

"All the signs are there Alec, Joe has a temper, he knew Danny. I don't want to be right," she replied.

"I can't take him in for questioning on that alone Rose," he reminded her. "I also can't let you get further involved, not now."

"What's that mean?" she answered, trying to look up at him as he was kissing her hair, not that she minded.

He glanced down at her. "You know why. Hell Rose, what does it take for you to get that I care about you eh? If you start asking his wife questions about the time you worked with him, or anything connected to it, she will tell him. He has a temper, if it gets back to him you have talked to me about it, what then?"

Rose tried to move away but he held onto her.

"Don't back away Rose, you know I'm right. You have to be careful who you talk to, don't let on about him. You can't just ask about the time he was late back. If he thinks it's over and done with, then good, let him continue thinking that but the moment it's dragged up? He will know where it's come from, assuming he thought no-one in the car park that time remembers. I'm sorry Rose but he knows you are the only person likely to have known about it, if he suspects someone witnessed it that knew him. Yes, he used you as an excuse for being late home and you never corrected him, he'll take that as your silence."

Rose staggered back to lean on the fridge, Alec trying to support her.

"I never meant to scare you but you know I'm right, don't you?" he asked her. Rose managed a nod, wishing she was sat down instead of having him keeping her upright. "This has to stay between us for now, until we get more clues who actually killed Danny and as yet, there's not much to go on. Even if I take this to the chief, she will say the same."

"That I imagined it?" Rose asked as she leaned back, his arms still holding onto her.

"Rose, forget it now, I believe you. I meant that without proof and getting his wife involved with covertly investigating her husband. Hell Rose, what are we doing in here?" he tried to smile. "Come back and sit down, I promise not to leave until we've talked about this."

Rose nodded and he led her back to the sofa, ignoring the dishes.

"Got a dishwasher?" he asked her. Rose shook her head. "Then I will help you before I leave but since you are intent on not letting me be alone, I take it you want to keep an eye on me?"

Rose wanted to say something sarcastic back to him but that would only prove his smartass remark of her fighting him was true. Maybe it was time to call a truce?

Rose sat on the sofa, Alec taking her hand.

"You've gone quiet, for a change," he smiled.

Rose tried to dig him with her elbow.

"Shut up Alec. You're tryin' to say if he gets a hint you're investigating him, he'll know you got it from me and that he does know I was there that time? Why, it was a long time ago now. Why would he suddenly lose his temper and lash out at Danny?" she asked him.

"I've no idea but it's all making sense now. You never argued with him over him lying to his wife for being late home. Think about it," he replied.

Rose didn't want to, after all that time. He knew, he'd known when he got home, that was why he could lie so easily to Ellie.

"He knew I had to go along with it, I'd seen what he could do."

"I'm sorry Rose but yes. You may have thought you were far enough away or maybe it was as you were going back inside and the crowd was dispersing? He may have recognised you from behind and known you'd been watching. He would not have cared who else was there, they were all immaterial, they were only likely to tell someone there had been a fight in the car park but you know who it was."

He pulled her towards him, her head resting on his shoulder.

"Rose, he's been waiting for you to say something and you've kept quiet all this time. If I start asking him questions now, he'll know you told me what happened. Like you said, arguments happen all the time but now, if he argued with Danny, he may not have realised he was arguing with a boy and not another man. Accident or not, he would be held responsible. Do you think he may suspect you might tell someone about the car park?"

"Geez Alec, whatcha tryin' to do?" she asked him. "That's not helping me feel any better ya know?"

"I know but you may hold the key to this investigation Rose, whether you like it or not. What if he saw you there and drove off before you got back outside so you would not suspect you had seen him?" he suggested.

"That's obvious now," she replied, taking his hand and making him smile.

"Yes. So he waited until you had time to get home, enough to give the impression he'd dropped you home when his wife asked him where he'd been. You gave him the perfect alibi."

"Well he's not getting one if it was him up at the hut that night," Rose replied.

"I should hope not but neither can his wife, if she was asleep so it goes back to Tom. Even then, my chief would argue that any defence he gave, it could not be proved either way and they would use that. Even if you testified about his temper, he's been careful to show no signs of it since."

"What are ya tryin' to get at Alec? That if it gets back to him, he'll come after me to keep me quiet?" she asked him.

"It's too late Rose, you were already keeping quiet and you still are, well he thinks so and it has to remain like that."

"So, no truce then?" she managed to smile, playing with his fingers, Alec content to let her do so, since he knew she was nervous.

"Outwardly? Then absolutely not. If your friend finds out, it will get back to him but maybe he's sure of himself? Maybe despite us making friends he may not think you would say anything? Why should he when he's got the perfect cover of being married to a police detective? I may think of asking the female officers, except DS Miller, that should throw him off."

"What about you already being unpopular?" she asked him.

"Then it will prove a point, will it not?" he replied, leaning down and kissing the back of her hand and noticing she was beginning to relax, since she'd put her arm around his back without either of them being aware of it. "It will prove they are right, that I am annoying and irritating. Well you think I am," he smiled, pushing a strand of her hair back and kissing her cheek.

"And you think that by being annoying and irritating that's the way to attract someone's attention?" she asked him.

"Well it seems to have worked with you," he grinned, running his finger down her cheek.

"You are so full of yourself. Your wife must have been crazy to put up with you."

"She left me Rose, not the other way around," he replied, knowing what she had meant. "You have put up with me, you've not thrown me out yet, in fact I think you don't want me to leave, do you?"

Rose pretended not to answer, just pulling a face.

"Sorry, I didn't mean it like that," she replied eventually.

"It's nothing Rose, it was her choice and I would have fought for her if she'd not been seeing someone right under my nose. What about you? Did you leave anyone behind?" he asked, kissing her cheek as he did notice her hand was on his shirt buttons, not that he'd be so lucky she would unfasten them just yet. She shook her head, going for one of the buttons and starting to twist it, Alec hoping it had been sewn on properly. "So, no boyfriend since you've been here?"

"Where would I get a boyfriend from since I work stupid hours?" she asked him. "Why did ya think Joe Miller left when his wife was expecting a baby?"

Alec was sure she'd asked him that before.

"I understand Rose, Tess accused me of spending more time at work, even before that murder investigation. Maybe I did but only because we were beginning to argue, mostly over our daughter. What parents don't argue over a teenager? Well maybe she wasn't quite a teenager?" he added with a smile as a button came undone.

Rose realised and was about to fasten it but he stopped her.

"Mine," she replied, trying to move her hand. "I lost my dad when I was a baby."

"I meant no offence Rose. No-one goes around knowing who has both parents and who does not. I'll be working just as many unsociable hours, remember?"

"Yeah, sorry. I get asked out but it's okay a few times, then they think I'm making up excuses to dump them so they leave instead. It's not everyone who understands what a job does to your social life."

"I know, it's okay. Maybe we could use that to our advantage eh?" he asked hopefully. "Like I said, throw suspicion off the fact you have told me about Joe Miller. If your friend suspects nothing, she won't say anything to him, will she?"

Rose looked at him.

"You're very devious Alec. We still have to appear hostile towards each other though?"

"I would have thought you'd want that?" he asked.

"What? Seriously? You're right about one thing. No-one would ever suspect anything was going on."

"I'm glad you agree," he grinned, about to kiss her cheek then saw the look on her face that made him back off. "What?" he asked instead.

"They'll be right because nothing is going on Alec. Geez, what's the point?" she wanted to know.

"Rose, hold on a minute. What are you talking about?"

"You know exactly what I'm talking about Alec. We may just as well stay as we are," she replied.

"We should?" he asked, just to make sure he'd heard her right.

"Great, fine then. I'll call a taxi for ya unless ya wanna walk and give yourself another heart attack?"

"What?" he asked, totally confused and if she thought Joe Miller could flip a switch, apparently, he was not as fast as she was. "Just hold on. What are you talking about now?"

Rose tried to get up but he stopped her, a confused look on his face.

"Let me up Alec."

"Why? So you can call a cab and make sure it's that Lucas guy and he'll ask me questions about you all the way back to the hotel?" he wanted to know.

"He did that?" she asked, staying where she was, for now.

"I thought I already told you? Fine, I'll walk then. Rose, this is getting us nowhere and I thought we had made a little progress?"

"Have we? You keep saying I make you mad, then you agree we should have a truce and then you say we can't tell anyone?" she asked, just to make sure she'd got it right. "Then when I say so, you agree?"

"What? You've lost me this time Rose."

"Really. In what way have I lost you?" she wanted to know. "You either want a truce or not but if we call one, I'm not gonna still argue with ya in front of everyone just to satisfy my friend so she won't tell Joe."

"Good, that's what I was trying to say Rose. Geez, you know how to confuse someone," he replied, Rose sitting back.

"You're confused?" she burst out laughing. "Sorry, you lost me a way back. Go on then genius, explain it to me." Alec looked at her as if to ask what he was supposed to be explaining. "Ya said you agreed, about nothing changing if we carry on arguing in front of everyone."

"I did?" he asked, trying to remember, since they were going around in circles again and she thought he wasn't confused. "What I meant to agree with was that I can't fight with you in public, not any more."

"You can't?" she asked as she gripped the edge of his shirt and it came loose out of his trousers.

"What did you think I meant?" he asked, failing to remember who had said what, she'd totally lost him. "I think that's what I was agreeing on? You could maybe help me out? Okay, let's start again. What I said about not letting your friend tell her husband we had become friends and him thinking maybe you had told me about his temper. Are you with me so far?"

Rose nodded as her finger strayed under the gap between his last shirt button and the bottom edge, since she'd pulled it out even more while he'd been talking and trying to work out how they'd got into this conversation. He pretended not to notice and carried on, things were beginning to be on his side and his luck was changing, if she'd stop fighting him.

"Rose, I meant I agreed that I don't want to fight you in public but I'm afraid of what Joe Miller would do if he thinks you told me about his temper, so there's only one thing we can do and that's not me avoiding you, if that's what you thought I meant?" he asked her.

Now she was confused but let him continue. She shook her head.

"Right, good because I really don't want to fight you and yes, you got me mad for being so damn annoying doing your job but that was before I knew how it had an effect you, finding Danny. I will help you Rose, if you'll let me?"

"Yeah, can you help me with it Alec?" she asked as her fingers touched his belly through the gap she'd made, Alec trying not to flinch as he realised she'd undone one button and pulled the shirt out even more.

"Yes, if you promise me there will be no more fighting me? As for your friend, that's going to be up to you, she'll take no notice of me and you will have to convince her to keep it quiet, for now. Just tell her you don't want her nephew to know about us, with the investigation going on. Once things settle down or we find out Joe had nothing to do with it, it won't matter. Agreed?" he asked her.

Rose nodded her agreement as he leaned over to kiss her cheek.

"Good, now I seem to remember asking you to stay quiet long enough for me to kiss you. That includes unfastening some more of my shirt buttons, Miss Tyler and as for you working strange hours, that's not going to put me off, okay?"

"Yeah, okay, no more fighting then but I only did it because, well it doesn't matter now, it was just you coming on the scene and taking over, no-one ever bothered before," she replied.

"I get it Rose. Now come here and kiss me eh? You were concerned about me going back to my hotel room?" he asked.

"Yeah and I don't think Becca would appreciate checking on you every half an hour either," she smiled, pulling at another button.

"If you want that off, you only have to ask," he smiled. "Or would that spoil your fun?"

Rose smiled back at him, freeing her other hand to finish the job and admiring what she uncovered.

"Why do ya hide behind a beard Alec?" she asked, running her finger down where his shirt was parted and stopping at his belly button.

"I did it to annoy my ex then decided to keep it. Don't you like it Rose?" he asked her, kissing her neck, making her shiver.

She let go with one hand and put it around his neck. He was stalling too long for her liking now.

"Did ya say something about kissing?" she teased him, still with her fingers on his bare chest.

"You were the one delaying, I believe?" he teased her back.

"Are we starting to fight again?"

"Absolutely not. I don't want to fight with you Rose. Forget about finding Danny like that, if it was Joe Miller, I'll catch him, I promise and I won't let him go after you. Come here."

He leaned over her, resting one hand on the sofa arm as he pushed her gently onto the cushion. He touched her lips lightly with his own, enough to make her shiver again, then continued, knowing she wouldn't slap him now. The kiss deepened, Rose's hand still on his chest, trying to part the shirt even more then putting her arm around his bare back.

"Mmm, that was some kiss Alec," she smiled as she tried to look at him.

"Indeed? Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead and let you think about this?" he asked, seeing her face change. "Worried I'll invite Becca to keep an eye on me?"

"You’re still teasing me Alec. What do ya want me to say?"

"That maybe you want me to stay to make sure I'm okay and not do anything stupid to bring on another attack?" he suggested.

"Well maybe then? I would be worried about ya," she replied.

"It's a long time since anyone worried about me Rose. I'll warn you though, I still tend to wake as if I've just been dragged out of the river after finding Pippa."

"You do? Alec, you need as much help as I do. I keep seeing Danny's face as Steven turned him over, I don't think I'll ever forget it. Does it go away?" she asked him, leaning into his shoulder as he'd somehow got to the side of her.

"I wish I could say it did but maybe for you it will? Let me try and help you Rose? Then you can try and help me eh?"

"Yeah, if anyone can help me, it's you and maybe it would be just fun if we annoyed each other a bit when we're out, as long as we know we're puttin' it on?" she suggested.

"Then you say I'm the devious one? Now, are you going to stay quiet while I kiss you for longer this time?"

Chapter 11
Rose felt herself melting into him as they kissed longer this time, after a few short, sweet ones that to Rose felt like snowdrops melting but he was the one to initiate them to last longer each time until Rose gave in and she had to stop for breath.

"Wow, I've never been kissed like that before Alec," she admitted.

"Really? I would never have known," he smiled, something that he'd rarely done since Daisy was younger and they'd been a happy family.

Maybe it wasn't all over for him after all? Why should he keep fighting the inevitable, that of giving in and having his surgery instead of putting it back.

Rose didn't try to resist as he began kissing her neck.

"Still want me to stay?" he asked, to make sure she'd not changed her mind about it.

"Mmm. I'm not letting ya go now. Besides, it's getting late and I'd be worried about you. Why don't I give ya my spare key, then after the reconstruction tomorrow night, you can come over? I'll have to go back to the ambulance station afterwards."

"Rose, are you really ready to give me your spare key?" he queried, wondering why he suddenly felt better than he'd done in a long time.

"Well yeah, I've no-one else to give it to, I only got it for when my mum stays over and trust me, she won't be paying a visit while there's a killer on the loose. You should have heard her the other day going on about it. She wanted me to pack up and go home."

"That's understandable, she was concerned for you. Did you ever tell her about Joe Miller?" he asked, moving her hair to kiss behind her ear and Rose going into meltdown.

"How could I Alec? I'd not been here that long when it happened. What could I have done about it Alec? I could hardly go to the police station and report it, Ellie would have found out. I told ya, I didn't want to lose her as a friend and her turn on me."

"It's okay Rose, I understand. You've told me, that's all that matters and I wish I could do something. I already told you, when the time is right, I will investigate him further. There is one thing I could try though," he told her as Rose snuggled into his shoulder, trying to get him to take his shirt off but he wasn't getting the hint as she put her hand on his bare shoulder under it.

"What's that? Alec, are ya gonna take that shirt off?"

"Rose, this is serious. Yes, I'll take it off but maybe it's best we have this discussion while I am still in possession of it?"

Rose huffed a bit but maybe he was right?

"Oh, okay then. What can ya do Alec?" she asked, daring to kiss the part of his shoulder she could reach.

"Well when I said Joe Miller thinks you are the only one who could tell on him? What if I were to find the other driver?" he asked, smiling at her attempt to pull the shirt off his shoulder.

"After all this time?" she asked, pleased she was getting somewhere as he didn't try to stop her.

"Would you forget an argument with another driver? Maybe the other person put it to the back of his mind but if he were to be asked about it?" he replied, going further round her neck as she got closer.

Rose was too comfortable to move, it had been a long time since she'd got close to anyone and she'd never been all soft and close to Mickey like this and when she thought about it, they'd never been romantic about their relationship.

"I don't expect I would forget anything like that but how are ya gonna find him?" she asked, her chin now on his shoulder and her arm around his neck.

"I will get someone else on it, I can't investigate it myself Rose, that would be suspicious if Miller were to drag up the fact to her husband I was chasing after something not related to Danny's death and a car park incident at that. I will think of something, I promise. We should do the dishes Rose, before they dry up. You know if I stay I will have to leave early to go get changed? What would the cab driver think?"

Rose smiled at the thought then decided to see how far he wanted to take this.

"That you're my boyfriend?" she teased him.

He tried to look at her. They had both been playing a game of pretending they didn't care much for each other but it now seemed to have come to an end, unless he teased her some more? Did he want to tease her though?

"He will probably already think that, since I would not say anything this morning but being together two mornings in a row? Won't he spread rumours though?" he wanted to know, brushing her cheek gently with his finger.

He was making Rose shiver and he knew it.

"He probably does already think that, so what? He won't spread any rumours, he'll be upset I'm no longer a target. He's married Alec, he's a show-off and he's not cute like you are."

"Rose, I am far from cute," he tried to deny.

"Rubbish, you are cute so don't argue with me. Come on then, let's do the dishes then I can get that shirt off ya. I'll set my alarm early so ya can sneak into the hotel before Becca catches ya. If ya think Lucas seeing ya two mornings in a row near my apartment is bad enough, you've no idea what Becca will come out with," Rose laughed, reluctant to move.

"Rose, there is nothing for her to come out with," Alec tried to protest.

"Wanna bet? Sneaking into the hotel two mornings in a row and you being out both nights? Well she knows about last night and you'd better hope she doesn't mention anything, I heard she and the vicar are spending a lot of time together, if ya get my drift?"

Alec had already had several run-ins with the local vicar and he'd just been advising Rose to seek advice from the Reverend Coates.

"Rose, as long as she gets paid for her room, she will hardly care if I have been there or not," he replied. "Need some help getting up?" he smiled as he tried to move.

They got up and she volunteered to fasten his buttons but he declined, just fastening two in the middle so she'd take her eyes of his slightly hairy chest.

"Wow Alec, to say you're ill, you look quite 'fit'," she laughed as she watched him after taking notice, since she'd been too busy earlier to take notice.

"Looks can be deceiving Rose," he reminded her as he followed her to the table. "No-one can tell if something is wrong with a person when they appear to be normal. Rose, if you had not attended to me last night, you would have never known there was anything wrong with me."

Rose stopped what she was doing.

"Would you ever have told me Alec?" she asked him.

"No doubt I would have been taken ill at some point Rose, I was praying it would not be you that had to attend," he replied, taking the rest of the dishes from the table.

"How could ya hide something like that and get away with it?" Rose wanted to know.

"Rose, if my boss finds out, that's it, I'm out. This way, I get to keep my job unless she happens to find out. I can trust you can't I?" he asked.

"Yeah, I said ya could Alec. Can't the surgery be brought forward?"

"I just put it back Rose, they are hardly likely to be pleased if I ask them to change it again, are they?"

"Why not? I'd have thought they'd be glad you're not cancelling it altogether. Ya have to at least try Alec. If ya can't do it for your daughter, then do it for me."

"So you don't have to rescue me again?" he asked as he headed for the kitchen again and hoping they'd get the dishes cleaned this time.

"That's not fair Alec. I saved your ass last night and now ya can't even try to avoid me having to do it again?"

"Is this what it's all about?" he asked as she put water in the sink.

"I give up with you, can't you do a simple thing like save yourself from another attack Alec? No-one may find ya the next time or another crew might not get to wherever you are in time. I know it was close, I thought I was gonna lose ya but I never gave up Alec. We stabilised ya before we set off for the hospital because Steven saw what medication you were on."

He didn't want to be reminded of that, he was sure she'd told him that already but he could see it was bothering her. He put his hand on her shoulder as she put the dishes into the water.

"Rose, I thank you for saving me but what can I do eh? The appointments woman was not pleased when I put the date back, I should have gone this Friday but I'm not giving in before I find Danny's killer. There's another killer out there somewhere Rose, I can't let there be two. I failed the other two families, I'll not make it a third."

"They won't expect ya to kill yourself doing it Alec. Why are ya being so stubborn? Call and change it, you might be surprised."

"You mean they will be glad to get rid of me?" he half smiled, going to kiss her neck.

"Trust me, you won't be the only awkward patient Alec. Besides, I'm still responsible for ya or did ya forget about that?" she replied, trying to carry on.

"No, I had not forgotten but I would have left anyway after you did."

"What? Are you completely mad, Alec?" she asked him. "What's wrong with you, honestly?"

"Don't fuss Rose, I felt fine. Are you going to keep on my case about it?"

"Yeah, so tough. Promise me you'll at least try to get an earlier date. Why put it off so long?"

"I wanted a long weekend to recover so no-one would know. You said you would go with me Rose."

"Yeah and I will Alec. I'd rather do it when ya still have a chance. They may not be able to bring ya around next time."

Did she have to go bring that up, he wondered. He stepped back and she noticed.

"I know, I was told I may not even survive," he admitted.

Rose reached for the towel to dry her hands.

"You weren't gonna tell me that either, were ya? Seriously? That's why you're putting it off, to catch Danny's killer?"

He looked at her. "Yes. Even my daughter doesn't know and she can't."

"She deserves to know she might lose her dad, what were ya thinking Alec?"

"Geez Rose you sound like my ex wife. Just leave it, I will go when it’s time, I won't put it off."

"Ya say that now Alec but if you've not solved the case? What then? Let me help you, you great big 'nana, what is it with you?"

"I learned not to trust anyone after my last case Rose. Do you know how difficult it is for me to trust someone after that?" he asked.

"No, I don't pretend I do know Alec but I had to learn to trust a new partner after what Joe Miller did. Seeing someone blow up right in front of you like he did that day and hoping he'd not seen me. You wanted to know why I never told anyone?" she asked him.

He stepped back towards her and held his arms out, Rose looking at him.

"I think I know Rose. You were scared of him, of what he was capable of. You were caught between admitting you saw what he could do and your friendship with his wife. Stop thinking of what others think Rose, why did you choose to tell me, today?" he wanted to know.

"I can't do it any more Alec, that's why. I know most people at the police station, it would have got back to Ellie. Then you came along, pushing your nose in everywhere, asking stupid questions and bossing me around. Then after last night, despite me being mad with you, I couldn't leave you there on your own. Alec, my dad died on his own, I couldn't do anything to change that, I was a baby but I could do it for you, be with ya."

Alec had never been told anything like that before, no-one had bothered about him, no-one he knew except maybe Tess when they'd been married would have done such a thing for him and all he and Rose had done since they met was get on each other's nerves.

He was lost for words. "Rose, I don't know what to say. You saved me last night and maybe I fought that wee bit harder to come round because it just had to be you that had got me to hospital and kept me alive and I wanted to tell you it wouldn't change anything but it did Rose, it changed things."

Rose went up to him, letting his arms fold around her, still aware only two buttons on his shirt were fastened but she wasn't bothered. She needed someone and she knew it, just like he needed someone. She tried to glance up at him, putting her arms around his back.

"Yeah, I think it did Alec but when you woke up, I was just so relieved. I never told anyone about my dad, those back in London knew anyway and I've never had anyone here to tell. I had to tell someone about Joe Miller but I didn't know what you'd do about it. If ya go looking for the other bloke though, how are ya gonna connect the two things, that and Danny's death?"

"Leave that to me Rose, let me worry if we can find him. Can you remember the colour of the car?" he asked her.

"It's a long time ago Alec, I was busy trying to hang on when Joe put the brakes on. It might have been a red car though the bloke might not still have it."

"If you give the time and roughly the date, it will give me something to go on. Have a think about it eh? Are we finished in here?"

Rose nodded. "Yeah, sorry. So are ya staying?" she asked him as he led her out of the kitchen.

"If you insist? Rose, I meant what I said, things are changing, now I know why you were so concerned about me last night. They were already starting to, when you told me how you felt about finding Danny. I had no idea it affected you like that. I see things like that all the time but this time, it also bothered me. It was too much like finding Pippa in the river. You were busy, I know that but you never saw the look on my face as I approached the scene. I thought it was because you were there but now, I know it was because of how he was laid there, face down just like Pippa was in the river."

"Alec, I'm sorry. I had no idea about that when we were on the beach the other morning. Wanna do some more smooching?" she smiled.

"That would be very nice Rose. Are words like that still used? Only I'm out of practice."

"Yeah? You didn't do too badly earlier, you taught me a thing or two."

"Well it may just come back to me. Care to test my theory?" he asked as he sat her down again. "If you want me to take off my shirt, you only have to ask."

"Really? Why didn't ya say so earlier then?" she smiled.

"We were kind of busy talking Rose," he reminded her as she took a shirt button between her fingers.

After some more kissing, Rose went to get ready for bed, letting Alec use the bathroom first. It had been a long time since he'd been allowed to go first in the bathroom and now, he'd got used to not sharing.

"Alec, what time do ya need to leave in the morning?" she asked as she got a clean vest top from the drawer and some clean underwear.

He was sitting on the bed, taking his socks off after he'd got back in the bedroom and he'd thought he'd best wait for her to leave before taking off his trousers and asking if she had a spare hanger for them and his shirt.

"Around seven thirty so I can get changed, I can set my alarm. What time to you start work?"

"Not until twelve, I told ya I worked funny hours. I'll call Steven about tomorrow night, I'm sure he'll agree, then we'll just be going off duty at that time. I wish I could walk along with ya though?"

He got up and walked towards her, putting his hands on her shoulders.

"It's enough you being there Rose and being seen in the ambulance. It's only fitting you attend officially. I can call your supervisor and ask for you."

"What and make him suspicious?" she smiled.

She leaned on his shoulder.

"Oh, so we are going to hide the fact we are no longer fighting?" he teased her.

She reached up to kiss him.

"I don't know Alec, are we? I don't think I want to do that, do you?"

Alec shook his head. "So when I get a cab in the morning and if I am asked what I am doing leaving your apartment?" he queried.

"I told ya, if it's Lucas, tell him you're my boyfriend."

"If it's another driver?" he asked, kissing her cheek.

"Then tell him you're my boyfriend," she replied, holding onto him.

"Seriously?" he asked. Rose nodded. "Well, I guess I will be needing that spare key then?"

Ten minutes later, Rose got into bed, snuggling up to him.

"I won't break if you lie on me Rose."

"Just testing," she smiled as he turned out the lamp.

As he turned back, he lay on his back, his arms behind his head and Rose could make out the look on his face in the light from outside. He was more than cute and the way he looked at her, he knew it. He put one arm around her as she went to lie on him, then the other and he nudged her for a kiss.

"Just go easy on me Rose, I want to last tonight, I had enough of the hospital last night. I'm sorry to hear about your dad but he would be so proud of you, being a paramedic and saving people. I bet that's why you became one, am I right?" he asked.

"How did ya guess?" she wanted to know.

"It wasn't hard to work out love. Now, no more talking eh? No more fighting when we meet up at work either."

"What about spoiling your reputation?" she teased him, kissing his shoulder.

"Which one would that be?" he teased back, putting his hand up the front of her vest top.

He flipped her over and began kissing after he raised the top up, Rose with her hand on his shoulder.

"I never brought anything with me Rose," he teased her again.

"You're so full of it, Alec Hardy," she reminded him. "You almost died last night and you think you're gonna try your luck?"

"Am I wasting my time?" he asked her as he gently kissed her cleavage.

"Nope but I'm on top and no arguments, I'm not taking ya back again, one night seeing ya lying there was enough Alec and for the record, I'm covered."

"Good, I hate using those things but I would have made an exception just for you and just because I have a heart problem it would not stop me from trying my luck so just you remember that, Rose Tyler. Now are you going to make a start or shall I?" he asked as he went for her underwear.

Rose giggled as he helped her take them off then she went for his shorts.

"I don't think you are going to be needing this either," he told her as he went for her vest top.

She moved to lie on him as he wriggled out of his shorts and Alec thought he was already a goner before they really started as they both made moaning sounds together.

"Rose, if I go now, I just want you to know you just made me very happy."

"Well, you're not going anywhere Alec," she moaned again. "Just you remember who you are with."

"The woman who saved my ass last night," he reminded her.

He knew she had just become more than that – he'd just gained himself a girlfriend and he was determined he was now going to stick around for a good while longer, if she would have him.

Chapter 12
Alec didn't know how he'd managed not to have another attack as the sensations washed over him and judging by the look on Rose's face as she lay at his side that he could make out in the light from outside, she'd enjoyed it even more than he had.

"Rose," he said quietly in case she was actually asleep and not just trying to recover from their not quite sexual encounter but as near as they had dared go.

"Mmm, are ya okay Alec?" she asked him, her eyes still closed but with a smile on her face.

"Me? Oh I'm just fine though it is a miracle how I just survived. Maybe if we had actually gone further I still may have survived?"

"One thing at a time, Mister. If ya can survive a few more nights, we'll see how it goes but the slightest thing Alec, I'll know so don't you go forgetting it," she warned him.

"Anything you say darlin'. I take it you are going to be the boss around here? Well until I get my surgery anyway, which I promise you I will try to re-arrange again. I'm making no promises they'll get me in any sooner though, you may have to put up with me like this a while longer."

"Yeah? I just love a challenge. Let me up, I need to get cleaned up and you need to put ya shorts back on, just in case. After the procession tomorrow night, why don't ya go get a few things? Make sure ya sneak in and out though," she teased him.

"What? Come on Rose, are we back to that again? Really?" he asked.

"Chill, I was just messin' with ya. Geez Alec, it's not gonna be easy since all we've done since we met is goad each other. Actually, it could be fun, don't ya think?"

Alec pretended to consider it as Rose sat up, trying to remember where her underwear had been tossed as she found her vest top. "Are my knickers over your side?"

Alec had to smile. It had been a very long time since a young woman had asked him that. He could feel them with his foot but thought he would make things interesting.

"They are just by my foot. Care to come and find them?"

Rose burst out laughing and decided to tease him back.

"Nah, I'll go get a clean pair."

"Then I am disappointed," he replied, folding one arm behind his head as she turned around after putting her vest top on, which just covered the essentials.

"Geez Alec, how can ya be ill and look so sexy?" she asked him as she crossed to the drawer.

"I was not aware I was sexy," he replied, seeing the top of her legs then her bum as she leaned to get some clean underwear. "Beside, if you keep showing off your cute ass like that, you may still have to get me to hospital in a hurry. Since you do actually drive, why no car? Surely you pay more in cab fares?"

"Maybe? Actually, I never really thought about getting one, it's not far to the ambulance station and I'd just leave it there through my shift I never saw any point."

"Well why don't we see about hiring one, then you'll save on cab fares. You won't have to fuss about insurance and tax, just get one on contract hire. I will make some enquires, get one in both our names. What do you think Cupcake?"

He realised what he'd just called her. Geez, she would throw him out now.

"So I'm cupcake now, Pookie?"

"Pookie?" he queried as she stood straight though he could still see her cute ass as one side of the vest top was still raised.

It reminded him of an old black and white poster that used to be seen everywhere of a sexy female tennis player hitching up her tennis skirt and having no underwear on.

"How about Snookie or Snookie Bear when we actually start having sex?"

"You stopped me, remember?" he reminded her. "I could have got further, I only reluctantly agreed to stop you from making a fuss about it."

"Oh? You did, did ya? Well excuse me for stopping ya getting over-enthusiastic and me having to put ya shorts on when I've sent for an ambulance then?"

"Geez Rose, don't be so dramatic, you know what to do if something happens. Rose, you are the only person I feel safe with."

"You do? Well even so, I can keep ya alive while an ambulance crew get here, if the pills don’t start to work but honestly, having to put ya shorts on?" she giggled, trying to wind him up.

"Oh, so you don't mind getting them off me?" he replied, playing along to see how far she would go. "I may have felt your cute ass a few times and just seen it but you've not seen me yet. You may be in for a surprise."

"Geez, talk about an ego?" Rose replied, now dying to go to the bathroom all of a sudden.

She dashed out and he heard the bathroom door. Now what had he said? He'd sworn he'd never get involved with another woman after Tess had betrayed him but that rule had been blow of the window after he'd not been able to get enough of squeezing her cute ass and kissing her cleavage when he had finally got her to turn onto her back. She'd kept resisting, trying to stay on top but he'd whispered he wasn't going to attempt anything stupid.

Rose was cleaning herself with some wipes then went to put some cold water on her face. Geez, she'd blown it now, first not letting him flip her over in case he was actually going to be stupid and try to have proper sex then she'd more or less questioned why he'd called her 'Cupcake' then 'Pookie' had been the first thing in her mind as she'd heard someone saying it on TV a few nights ago. Correcting it to 'Snookie' was slightly better she supposed but they'd not yet got to the stage where they would call each other by their pet names as they got intimate.

If she kept on telling him not to attempt it either, they would never get to that stage. Alec had retrieved his shorts and put Rose's underwear on the chair, after feeling how soft and silky they were and hoped at some stage in their new relationship, she would actually let him watch her getting them on and off, preferably before she put her bra on. He knew at this rate, even though she'd not let him go too far that he'd not got as much time as he thought if he didn't bring his appointment forward. One way or another, Rose Tyler would be the death of him.

He went out and knocked on the bathroom door, since he was now out of bed.

"Rose, are you going to be long?" he dared ask, not that he'd dared when he still lived with Tess.

"I won't be long," she replied, drying her face. "Are you needing more pills?"

"No, I don't need any pills, do I have to tell you exactly why I am asking?" he replied.

He could hear her laughing. What had she done to him? They had got close to having sex and they still couldn't quit annoying each other. Still she was maybe right, who else would be able to save his ass if he had another attack? He knew he had fancied her after getting out of the squad car on his first day and on the beach that fateful morning, he was totally gone on her but something else about her made him determined she wasn't going to get the better of him, that he was the one who was going to be in charge and she'd fight him for it.

He needed that to get him through the current investigation. He heard the catch on the door being moved and stepped back.

"Sorry, I'm not used to sharing. When my mum stays, she's out like a light."

"I'm sorry too only I really need to go in there right now," he tried to smile as he disappeared.

Once back in bed, Rose made him keep his shorts on but only on the agreement she took her vest top off and they fell asleep, Rose snuggled into his side and he decided he'd take her up on her offer and let her give him the spare key, what did he have to lose? They obviously would keep having those moments when he or she would say something and get each other going but that was maybe how they both wanted it?

He needed someone to keep his secret and she needed someone who believed her about Joe Miller being capable of killing Danny. If she trusted him enough to confide her fears about it, he had to trust her she wouldn't give the game away but then there was her work partner. He doubted he had to worry on that score, Rose would make sure of that. He moved slightly but it disturbed her.

"Shush, it's okay love, go back to sleep," he told her as she said his name.

"Something wrong?" she insisted.

"Ah, no, sorry. Rose, don't take this the wrong way but I'm just not all that agreeable these days, not after Tess," he admitted.

"Well tough, I'm not agreeable all the time either so fight me. I don't care Alec, don't ya get it? Just let me take care of you until your surgery then see what happens? We might not be able to put up with each other after it."

"Why do you always have to make sense eh?" he wondered.

He was talking to himself, which was maybe just as well he supposed. Why was she putting up with him? He'd argued about coming over for dinner, he'd told her he couldn't take any action over Joe Miller so why was she staying with him? Maybe someone had also betrayed her and she knew how it felt or was it because she'd never told anyone she feared Joe Miller knew she'd seen him and now Danny Latimer had died, if it was him, she would be next if she told the police about it.

Then it hit him – that was it. Now, he had to keep her safe at all costs and the only way to do that was to move in with her and not say a word about what she'd told him earlier until he was confident that if he interviewed Joe Miller, he'd be locked up.

The next morning, Rose woke and Alec was missing. His jacket was still on the back of the chair though then she heard noise in the kitchen. She put her vest top on and went to see.

"You're awake," he stated, his shirt buttons not all fastened.

"Yeah, whatcha up early for?"

"It's almost eight, I was making you some breakfast, then I will have to dash back to the hotel, change and get to work. If I get funny looks from Becca Fisher, why should I care? I will give her the good news."

"What news is that Snookie?" she grinned, putting her arms around his neck.

"I am still invited to stay?" he asked, trying to get her to let go.

"Yeah, you 'nana so don't forget the key. I might be back at the same time though, I'll call and get some food on the way. Is there anything you should avoid eating though?"

"Almost everything," he replied, retrieving the toast. "I ignore the warnings though, or I would never eat."

"Geez, no wonder you're so skinny. So whatcha gonna tell Becca? Geez Alec, don't tell her ya moving in with me."

"Is it meant to be a secret love?" he wondered, going for the pot of strawberry jam.

"Well maybe for a little while, no-one knows we're even seeing each other yet. Just tell her ya moving nearer the station or tell her it's in case she's letting any reporters stay there," she suggested.

"There is a reporter staying there, she almost made me late seeing you last night," he replied.

"Well there ya go then, problem solved. So who's this female reporter then?"

"The woman who ruined it for me on the Sandbrook case so stay away from her Rose."

Rose looked at him. "Yeah, of course I will, if I knew what she looked like. If she's not friendly, she's no chance. Anyway, she has to see us together yet and even if she's there tonight, I'll be in the ambulance, remember?"

"Yes, make sure you stay there eh? The procession finishes at the harbour, ask your partner to hang around there for a while in case anyone found the walk too much."

"Including you?" she smiled.

"Rose stop worrying about me eh? The night before last was rare, hopefully I will not have a repeat of it, since I have you with me."

"Yeah, well it won't stop me worrying about ya at work and a late night walk. If this reporter comes along, you'll have to warn me. Don't forget Alec, we work together, we're allowed to talk."

He turned around as she took her plate to the table, picking up his own. A pot of tea was already on the table.

"Alec, can ya make me coffee next time?" she smiled, going to pour some out.

"Just habit love."

"Yeah, it's okay, just this once. Thanks, for making breakfast though."

"My pleasure, best get used to it unless you happen to start work earlier than I do some mornings?"

"I will, trust me. Now ya know why I never got a boyfriend."

"Then that's over with Rose," he assured her, putting his hand on hers. "I myself may have to go out at all hours, finding someone who is willing to put up with that is somewhat difficult."

"Is that why ya married a police officer then?" she asked, since they'd managed to get that far.

"Now I think about it, there were very few candidates to choose a girlfriend. I know Rose, it's not easy with the hours we are expected to work."

"Tell me about it. It's like when a decent bloke would ask me out and I was working until midnight the following day. It looked like I was making excuses."

"Then there's no need to worry on that score, I may be working that late myself, though I will try not to. Rose, just remember that eh?"

"Yeah, let's just try to do it at the same time then? Alec, I'll still be worried if ya work late though."

"Then I will do my best not to, Cupcake," he smiled as he drank his tea.

"Can ya quit calling me that? It sounds so cheap."

"Calling me 'Snookie' is not cheap?"

"Calling ya Snookie means that you're cute Alec."

"Oh. Well maybe I should call you something more suitable, Honey?"

"Yeah, I like that. Well, you had better get going, I'll call a cab for ya."

"As long as you don't see me out like that eh?"

"Yeah, guess I'll go put something on then? The cab number's pinned up on the board. Oh, the spare key's in the kitchen drawer, don't forget it, will ya?"

"I won't. Now I will finish getting dressed, maybe I can get to see your cute ass up close eh?" he smiled, getting up.

"Well ya felt it enough last night babe," she grinned as he helped her up.

He let the name slide, it was better than the one she was trying to give him, he supposed.

"Yes, I did love," he assured her as he took her by the waist and kissed her neck.

He lowered one hand onto her rear.

"Well, Inspector, you'll have to wait, you have to get going or be late. Are ya telling anyone about us?"

"If anyone were to ask, I will not deny it but not just for the sake of it. Rose, I'm not trying to hide it love, it's just not a good idea just yet. I have to be careful around Miller, if she tells her husband?" he replied.

"Yeah, I don't wanna even think about that, thanks. Alec, it's gonna be kinda difficult, not letting her find out, she's bound to notice, don't ya think?" she asked as they went into the bedroom. "You'd best get in the bathroom before me."

"Too late love, it’s all yours. I thought I could watch you getting dressed and see more of your cute ass than I did before we went to sleep."

Rose gathered her clothes, half watching him fasten his shirt.

"Hey, I just had an idea."

"What's that love? That I help you get dressed?" he asked hopefully.

"Ha, you wish loverboy," she teased him.

How many names was she going to call him? Did he actually care? Rose Tyler had just become his last night, well almost, it was just a technicality. She would be his if she allowed him to carry on where she'd stopped him but she was just being careful, he knew that.

He finished getting ready while she dashed into the bathroom and was just fastening his tie.

"Hang on, ya forgot something."

Wondering what it was, she took the tie from his hands and instead of fastening it all the way, left it slightly askew and left his top button unfastened.

"Rose, what you doing eh?" he wanted to know.

"The first time I saw ya, that's how ya looked," she reminded him.

"It was my fist day and I was being shown around."

"Yeah? Well what if I told ya it was because you looked like that, I fancied you?"

"You did? Rose, I can't go around like this all day," he told her.

"Give me one good reason," she replied, going for her phone.

When the radio controller answered the phone, Rose just said it was her and she wanted a taxi at her place and hung up.

"Do you always do that?"

"What? Oh, all the controllers know me. Here, take the number then ya can get one from the hotel later."

"Well if it’s the same driver, I am not letting him know I am considering moving in with you."

"Scared he'll talk to that reporter or to Olly?"

"Both," he replied as he picked up his phone. "I had best go down then?"

"Yeah, not without a kiss though."

He went to the kitchen to get the key and Rose jotted down the taxi number for him.

"You be careful Alec, go easy since you've got tonight as well."

"I know, I will take it easy. I can easily find some paperwork love."

He kissed her cheek and went to the door.

"Rose, just be careful eh?" he reminded her.

He went downstairs and had just got to the glass door to see a red cab pulling up and it just had to be the driver Rose had called Lucas.

"Oh, it's you again?" the driver grinned as Alec got in the front. "Going to the hotel?"

Alec just nodded as he put the seatbelt on. Well at least he didn't have to say where he was going he supposed.

"So, you and Rose then?" Lucas asked him as they pulled onto the main road.

"What about me and Rose?" Alec wanted to know, thinking it was too late, most of the town would know by now.

"Come on, you two being together two mornings in a row? It doesn't take a detective to work that one out. I saw you on TV, I know who you are," Lucas replied.

Alec was now wishing he'd left earlier and walked but he needed all his strength for later and not just for the reconstruction. He needed to prove to Rose he was still capable of having sex with her or was that all she had wanted and was using his illness as an excuse?

"If you know who I am, you know if any rumours are going around the town, I will know where to look?" Alec asked him as he could just see the hotel in the distance.

"Hey mate, don't go blaming me. If you sneak around, people will talk. All the time she's been here, I've never seen her in a cab twice with the same bloke. You must be something special. You okay on this side of the road only I got another job just a bit further down?" he asked Alec.

It was just Alec's luck there was a space outside the newspaper office and Olly Stevens was just coming out. He paid the driver and tried to make his escape. He had fifteen minutes to go upstairs, get changed and walk down the footpath and he wouldn't make it, not without setting himself up for another attack, then Rose would absolutely refuse to have sex with him until he got himself fixed. At this hour though, it would be another ambulance crew that came to rescue him and though he had every faith they would get him to hospital in time, no-one would hold his hand like she had done while he'd been in and out of consciousness.

Chapter 13
Reminder – events may not take place in the order of the series to suit the story's purpose.

He saw an excuse for being late but knew he'd regret it if he let Olly stop him as he was followed across the road, seeing as Olly seemed to have changed his mind and gone back inside but he'd only gone to tell Maggie he was going after the detective.

"I'm warning you Olly, if you keep getting in his way, he'll string you up from the tallest tree."

"I just want to ask him if he's seeing Rose Tyler, that's all," Olly told her.

"Like he'd tell you that," Maggie huffed as he walked out, wondering where he'd got the idea from.

He'd got it from a certain Karen White, whom he'd been keeping a close eye on and she'd just happened to let him buy her a drink last night, after he'd seen Hardy go out and since she was staying there, he'd thought even though Maggie wouldn't let her have a desk, they could join forces, so to speak. They'd done a bit more than that when they'd ended up snogging in the hotel lounge after closing time and she'd dragged him up to her room.

He'd only just got in the newspaper office before Maggie had done, then he'd had to pretend his slightly creased shirt had been missed out of the ironing pile though he could use the excuse his mother had not paid the electricity bill again he supposed.

"DI Hardy, have you got a minute?" Olly yelled after Alec as he'd dodged a car and a bus to cross the road.

"What do you want Stevens? Been talking to your friend Karen?" Alec asked, approaching the side door so Becca wouldn't ask stupid questions again.

"I may have been, if she saw you with Rose Tyler yesterday lunchtime," Olly dared reply.

Alec stopped, the key in his hand, hoping it was the hotel key and not the one Rose had just given him.

"What has she got to do with anything?" Alec replied, knowing he was certainly going to be late now and so at least Stevens would confirm they'd been talking, if Miller were to ask her nephew.

"So you don't deny it?" Olly grinned, though he'd fancied Rose since she'd got here but she didn't seem to like him, unlike Karen White. "So, had you been having lunch together? Karen saw the two of you talking."

"She had been giving a formal statement about finding Danny Latimer on the beach, we just happened to both go across the road, we did invite your aunt but she declined," Alec replied without thinking.

Sheesh, what had he just told Rose, that he would only deny it to Miller but she and the reporter were related so he convinced himself he was shielding Rose, for now.

"That's it?" Olly asked, looking disappointed. "What about outside the harbour newsagents the other day then? Nige was down there, he said the two of you looked intense," Olly grinned, looking pleased with himself.

"I was finding out what they were doing there, that's all. You are making me late for work," Alec told him, hoping now he'd complain to Miller that he was getting the blame.

"Sure you're not hiding something?" Olly dared to ask.

"What would I have to hide, Stevens?" Alec asked him, the door now open and him wishing he'd gone the other way where the steps weren't quite as steep.

No wonder he'd had an attack the night before last, the wine, the missing tablets and the stairs had all conspired against him. Then he had an idea and thought he would go through into the hotel and see if there was any mail for him to give him a good enough excuse.

Olly called after him as Alec avoided the steep steps and went around the side of them.

"It's a small town, if you are seeing her," he reminded Alec.

That was what Alec was afraid of. Despite him telling Rose he wouldn't let on to his DS about them, other people she knew would see them together. There was only one thing for it and Rose wouldn't be pleased about it. They either carried on arguing in public and him set himself up for another attack or they called the whole thing off until after the investigation was over. He himself didn't like either of them but it was the only way to stop Joe Miller finding out he and Rose were now involved and Joe Miller going after her to find out if she had seen him that time in the supermarket car park and how much she had said about it.

Either way, he couldn't let anything happen to her, she meant too much to him now, he was tired of fighting her, the one person in the town he now trusted with his life and if he lost her, what did he have to gain by going ahead with his surgery? No, if he lost her now, he'd just leave it until the day he was due to go in and cross his fingers he wouldn't be attending her funeral before his time was up.

He now knew Joe Miller had a temper and Rose was very convincing that the man was responsible for Danny's death so not liking the other two alternatives, maybe he could convince his chief Rose was right and get her some protection because if he hauled in DS Miller's husband, Joe wouldn't be the only one after Rose, half the town would be.

He made sure Stevens had gone, took the other staircase up to his room and sent a message to Ellie that her annoying nephew had held him up and to have a car outside the hotel in fifteen minutes. He just hoped she herself wouldn't be the one waiting for him.

Ellie huffed when she got the message and called her nephew.

"Olly, if you've been holding Hardy up, he'll just make your life worse," she warned him.

"I had a good reason to stop and talk to him Auntie Ellie," Olly started to explain.

"This had better be good Olly," she replied.

"Well he was getting out of a taxi opposite the hotel, so where had he been so early?" Olly asked her.

"How would I know? Oh, he just sent me a message he was running late, no explanation though," she admitted.

"Funny he was coming down towards the harbour, not away from it," Olly continued.

"Well he wants a car sending, I might just go get him myself," she mused. "Well, did you ask him where he'd been?"

"I'm not that daft. No, I asked him if it was true he was having lunch with Rose, the paramedic yesterday lunchtime? He said she'd been giving a statement."

"She was but when I got downstairs at the agreed time, she was already there and Hardy was looking smug about something. How do you know anyway?" she asked him.

"Well I saw them both talking the other day outside the newsagents," he admitted.

Ellie couldn't remember if he'd already told her or not, she'd been so busy she'd hardly seen her two boys, which was why she skipped lunch with Rose yesterday, not that she'd wanted Hardy's company. Maybe she should have just gone to rescue Rose? Still, Rose could look after herself, she'd managed quite well so far.

"Were you spying on them yesterday Olly?" she asked him.

"No, not me. Another journalist saw them," he replied.

"Hold on a second," she told him. "Frank, get a car up to Hardy's hotel, now," she shouted across her desk.

She thought it was a shame she wouldn't be able to pick him up, she could have asked him herself. By the time he got here, he would have thought of several excuses. She could ask Rose, maybe she'd be attending the reconstruction that night, either on duty or not. She had wondered though why Hardy had been in a slightly better mood when he'd come back yesterday afternoon. Surely Rose hadn't been responsible for that?

He'd been annoyed with her last Friday morning, on the beach so perhaps not? Why had Rose arrived early though and no-one had told her and Hardy being all secretive? She knew she'd thought of asking Rose for dinner at the same time as her annoying boss but on reflection, maybe it had been for the best? She still had to ask Rose what happened the night before, when Hardy had hit his head on something, Rose was bound by duty to tell her what had happened to him, if she was asked.

If Hardy though suspected she'd asked Rose what happened to him, he get even more annoyed.

"Aunt Ellie, are you still there?" Olly was asking her.

"Stay away from him and Rose, Olly, I'm warning you. They may have had lunch together but it doesn't mean anything," she told him.

"But Aunt Ellie, there could be a story here, to take everyone's minds off what happened to Danny," Olly insisted.

"Olly, did you not see there's a reconstruction tonight?" she asked him. "That’s the whole point of it, we don't want people to forget, we want them to come forward if they saw anything. If you print anything, Hardy will go crazy with you."

"Thanks for the warning but I'm still going to watch the two of them," he replied.

Ellie hung up, shaking her head. She missed picking her boss up because Olly thought it was big news Rose was seen having lunch with the grumpy new detective. Still, if they were seen together, others would jump to the same conclusion as Olly had. She just hoped the two of them knew what they were doing.

Little did she know the reason they were trying to keep it quiet was herself, if she got to know what Rose had told her boss. Rose had watched Alec being driven away, hoping Lucas wouldn't ask him any awkward questions. She thought she had best call Steven.

"Hello Rose, you don't normally call before we start work," he greeted her.

"Yeah, I know but have you heard about the reconstruction of Danny's last movements tonight?" she asked him.

"It's all over the place Rose, I could hardly miss it. So what about it?" he asked.

"I thought it would be nice if we volunteered to stay on duty and follow the procession, with it being us that found him," she replied.

"That's very commendable Rose. You want me to volunteer us to the supervisor?" he wanted to know. "Did Hardy put you up to it?"

"What?" Rose asked.

"Well you had your interview before I did, he could have mentioned it to you? I'm all for it if someone else hasn't been asked, we come off duty around that time."

"Yeah, thanks Steven. I did talk to DI Hardy, about Joe," she admitted.

"I hope you know what you've started Rose? Be careful, if he mentions it to your friend."

"I don't think he will, they don't really get on. Anyway, he said he couldn't do anything about it unless I know who the other driver was."

"Can't he put an appeal out then?" Steven wanted to know.

"Well he can't, it would get back to Ellie. Steven, I've got enough dealing with finding Danny, it's bothering me that Joe had a temper and he knew Danny. How am I supposed to just leave it?" she asked him.

"I know Rose, sorry. I'll call the supervisor and tell him I heard about it, if you insist on doing it?"

"It's the least we can do Steven. I have something else to tell ya but it a wait."

"Then I can't wait, although I bet it's about you and Hardy," he laughed.

"Stop it Steven," Rose told him.

"Come on Rose, how long do you think you'll be able to keep that quiet?" he asked her. "I think it's sweet, you two meeting at a traffic accident, it's almost too perfect and the fact you couldn't stand each other. Still, I bet something gave when you had to keep him alive so we could get him to the hospital?" he asked.

Rose knew she was going to regret this. If Alec had been serious about hiring a car and he came to pick her up, everyone would notice. She just hoped no-one who still knew Joe would tell him but the chances of that were pretty slim. Joe had not left on very good terms, so she'd heard though he'd not said anything to her at the time but the rumours had been that he had told the shift supervisor to go to hell with his stupid shift patterns and the person who had come up with them wanted shooting.

Most everyone felt the same way but had never voiced their opinions but now, the subject seemed to be re-surfacing. If she was insisting on Alec staying with her, she might have something to say about it herself. She dreaded to think of Alec coming out at midnight to pick her up and keeping a car at the ambulance station was a bit of a waste but she had to get herself there at all sorts of times.

She went to get ready for work after sorting her laundry, smiling to herself that Alec would have to get used to seeing her underwear drying in the bathroom but since he'd been married, he was probably used to it. He probably wouldn't be used to seeing the kind she wore though. She could just picture him handling them when she left them drying.

She got to the ambulance station, grateful that Lucas must have been off duty and went to her locker to put her uniform on.

"Rose," the shift supervisor called through the office door. "A word please."

Rose looked around, the others watching.

"What?" she asked them as they pretended to be doing something else. "Think I got called to the principle's office?"

"No-one said anything Rose," Paul, one of the others who was going off-duty told her as she zipped her jacket up. "It's probably about tonight, the police requested an ambulance be on standby for the walk retracing where Danny went last Thursday night."

Rose knew it could only be that but didn't want anyone to know she had volunteered herself and Steven to be the crew.

"You're coming off at that time," he reminded her. "It makes sense since you had to attend. Rose, we're all sorry it had to be you who got the call, with knowing him."

She saw the others nod in agreement.

"Sorry I snapped, it's just gettin' to me, ya know," she replied.

"We know, which is why the others have been turning it down, we felt it should be you. You should go see the counsellor."

"I thought about it but I might go see the vicar instead, I'd feel more comfortable. Best go then," she tried to smile as she saw the supervisor looking at her through the office window.

Rose went off and was asked since no-one else had agreed if she and Steven would do it.

"Did he call ya?" Rose asked.

"Ah, yes actually. Did you already know he'd volunteered you both?" the supervisor asked her.

"I had a police interview yesterday, the detective in charge mentioned it," she told him.

"Yes, I wasn't here but I've been told DI Hardy thought it would be a good idea to have an ambulance present, I wonder how your partner got to know?"

"He had an interview as well, he must have been asked," she replied, not wanting to give anything away.

"Right, that's you two doing it then, on your own time. Just call in at eight and tell whoever answers that you are attending a police event, I'll leave word," he told her.

She left the office and went to join Steven, who was checking the equipment and the supplies.

"Well, you got what you wanted, okay?" he asked her.

"Yeah, thanks. I just feel I want to be part of it, not just walking with everyone else, ya know? It could get a bit awkward with Beth though, she'll have all kinds of questions for us, like how we found him. I'm dreading it."

"Then tell her the police have asked you not to reveal anything," Steven suggested. "Get your boyfriend to back you up," he grinned.

"Stop it, he's not my boyfriend," she replied.

"You're only fooling yourself Rose, I know you are. Stop denying it, I won't tell anyone. I never said about us finding him the other night or the fact you two are all gooey-eyed at each other when you meet up," he teased her. "So, are you seeing each other?" he asked as he closed the doors.

"I invited him over for dinner last night. I went to the police station early to tell him about Joe. He says he can't do anything, he has to be careful Ellie doesn't find out and tell Joe. Steven, he thinks Joe knows I saw him and I'm scared of what he's capable of," she admitted.

"Geez Rose, that's serious," Steven replied as he ticked things off on a chart as he sat in the driver's seat. "Is he going to do anything about it?"

"Yeah, he told me to stay away from Joe. He might be able to get someone else to look into the incident without Ellie finding out but everyone's busy with Danny's death."

"He sounds worried about you," Steven replied. "Well, let's see what today brings eh?" he asked as he picked up the radio to say they were ready to go.

There was nothing for them so Steven suggested they made their way to the harbour.

"Were you asked about us seeing to Danny's foot?" Rose asked him.

"Yeah, I wonder what that was about?" Steven replied. "So, when are you and the cute detective seeing each other again?"

"At the reconstruction tonight," she grinned.

"Very funny Rose, you know what I mean. I'll find out you know?"

"I'm worried about him, no-one might find him next time Steven."

"So what are you doing about it?" he wanted to know.

Rose was rescued by a call coming through but after they'd got the details, she avoided the question.

Alec was in his office, going over some files when Ellie invited herself in.

"Are we going out this morning?" she asked him as he looked over the edge of his glasses.

"Do we need to?" he replied.

"So did you arrange for an ambulance crew to attend tonight?" she continued when he went back to what he was doing.

"I already arranged it Miller, I thought I had told you?"

"Well you've had me doing that much, how am I supposed to remember? I wonder if it'll be Rose?" she grinned. "Why did she arrive early yesterday? I asked Bob but he said he couldn't say. What's so secretive?"

Alec looked up. "If you must know, she came to clear the air, after Monday when we had words outside the newsagents. Satisfied?"

"If you say so? So it wasn't over what happened the other night, when you fell then? I told Joe he has to stop refilling people's glasses when they come over. I told him you'd had a little accident because of it and he said sorry."

Alec would have rather it had come from him.

"Enough said Miller. If there are any callouts, take what's his name, Frank with you."

"Are you trying to avoid going out with me?" she asked him.

"Nothing of the sort Miller but half of the callouts do not require a DI. There is still paperwork to go over."

He didn't want to say he'd promised Rose that was all he would try to do today but that wasn't to be. He went across the road to get some lunch, wishing Rose could have joined him but got Olly instead. Olly had gone back to the office to find Maggie all excited about something her friend had heard in the hospital.

"Olly, come here petal," she called him as he went to his desk. "You'll never guess what I just heard, from Yvonne?"

"No but I expect you'll tell me," he replied, still fuming about Hardy from earlier.

"Sometimes I hate the young," she muttered to herself. "Anyway, Yvonne was doing her meet and greet thing when she heard the staff talking about how not last night but the night before that Rose Tyler and her partner had taken someone into emergency who had fallen and hit their head but they saw her and went quiet."

"So, is that news Maggie?" Olly asked her.

"Maybe, when that someone was DI Hardy?" she grinned. "Why would they go all quiet when they saw her?"

"Maybe because they know she's friends with you?" Olly suggested.

"Don't be cheeky Olly. Well don't just stand there, go and find him and ask what happened. He's in charge of a murder investigation, people need to know if it was related to the case. They also need to know if he'd more than just fallen. Then tomorrow, find Rose when she's out and ask her, if he won't tell you."

"Rose hates me, she wouldn't even go out with me when my aunt Ellie tried to fix us up together. She won't tell me."

"Well put on the charm and offer to buy her dinner Olly," Maggie told him. "Start by smartening yourself up, look at your shirt."

"Ah, mum had a bit of a mix up with the electric bill again," he tried to make up an excuse.

"More like you met a woman and went back to her place," Maggie told him. "You've not been seeing that Karen White have you?"

"No. What makes you think that?" he asked.

"Maybe because I refused to give her a desk and you disappeared five minutes later?" she laughed. "Well go find Hardy then and don't leave it until tonight. I want a full report of the reconstruction Olly."

So Olly had wandered down to the harbour, seen an ambulance pass him and thought Rose was in it but he imagined she was in every one of them then he walked around towards the police station, hoping to catch either Hardy or his aunt going in or out. Then in the distance he saw who he thought was Alec crossing the road so he speeded up and half ran the rest of the way and around the corner, to see Alec waiting for some food.

"You had better not be following me again Stevens," Alec warned him.

"I wanted to ask you, about the other night," Olly replied. "You were seen at the hospital, care to give a statement?" he asked hopefully.

Alec's order was called so Olly waited.

"Go away," Alec warned him. "This is the second time you've bothered me when I told you to stay out of my way. Did your editor send you?"

"No," Olly lied. "So come on then, what happened? I could go ask Rose, you know her, don't you? You were seen having lunch yesterday, did she take you to the hospital?" he persisted.

"Did you ever think of joining the police, with all the questions you ask?" Alec asked him as he was about to cross the road.

"Why would I want to do that?" Olly asked. "So I'll go ask her then?"

Alec stopped and turned around.

"You leave her alone Stevens, understand? I told you, she had been to give a statement, we happened to go have some lunch, end of story," Alec insisted.

"Did she take you to the hospital then?"

"Look Stevens, she was just in the ambulance taking me there, I had a fall, nothing more so just leave it, do I make myself clear? If I hear you have been annoying her, I will be having words with your editor. Now go find someone else to annoy and not her."

Olly watched him cross the road and go up the steps. He knew the detective was hiding something. Maybe he'd have better luck asking at the hospital, to see why they really had stopped talking in front of Maggie's friend. Rose must have something to tell, maybe he could catch her later if she was going to the reconstruction? Then he thought maybe the reason the staff went quiet was because there was something else wrong with Hardy and he didn't want anyone to know about it but what if Rose had stayed to make sure he was okay?

He was still jealous of any man who got close to her, despite spending the night with his idol from a top London newspaper.

Chapter 14
Alec went back to his office, hoping Miller would take her time coming back. He wondered where Rose was, then regretted telling his DS to take someone else with her if anything came up but he could hardly call her back in and say if there were any accidents and Rose may be attending, then he'd go. He still wasn't sure it was a good idea for rumours to get around the station, everyone knew Rose and maybe eventually as they were seen together there would be no need for rumours.

He did wonder though where Stevens was getting his ideas from, had someone seen he and Rose leaving the hospital yesterday morning or had the cab driver given the game away? He didn't trust that man as far as he could currently throw him, his attitude would get him into big trouble one day though now, he may back off annoying Rose.

Ellie went out a few times, Alec wishing he'd not said anything but he monitored the ambulance call-outs once he'd found where they were and not thought any of them had involved Rose, she must have got all the easy calls today, he thought. Ellie excused herself early to go prepare Tom for the reconstruction later and Alec himself thought he'd have a rest before joining the parade or he really would need some help from Rose.

It was almost time for Steven to call in and say they were going to attend the reconstruction and he drove them around the back of the town to where Rose had roughly said they were starting from after she had time to call Ellie, not wanting to bother Alec and they saw a line of police cars with flashing lights and officers redirecting traffic. He assumed the road would also be closed from the harbour, there would be a lot of unhappy drivers but this needed to take priority.

He stopped behind a police car and Bob came forward and Rose got out. She thought Steven would have asked her by now if she wanted to drive the short distance but he'd not said anything so when he got out, she was surprised.

"Hello Rose, Steven," Bob greeted them. "I half expected you two would volunteer for tonight."

"Yeah, it just seemed the right thing to do, since we were just going off duty," Rose replied.

"Well we'll be following the walkers from a distance, you can follow us," Bob told them. "Everyone's gathering and DI Hardy will give the nod to Tom Miller to set off on his skateboard. Hope you can drive slowly Steven?" he joked.

Steven reached Rose and handed her the keys, it was a habit of his to take them out even if they were just standing by the vehicle.

"Ask Rose not me," Steven grinned, holding the keys out to her.

Bob just smiled, knowing it would mean a lot to her, what with knowing Danny and being the one to find him on the beach, almost a week ago. He did wonder though if Hardy had requested them, well Rose in particular in view of them meeting early yesterday. He had been telling the truth when DS Miller had asked why Rose had arrived early since she and Hardy hadn't seemed to get along but maybe that was all changing?

Alec gave the nod to Tom to get on his skateboard and everyone followed, Tom trying not to get too far in front, knowing his parents were following him. People were chatting amongst themselves, Ellie found Beth putting her arm in hers and they walked together, two mothers both affected by this reconstruction.

"Ellie, who found my Danny on the beach? I mean who attended, apart from the police? Was it Rose? Only I looked back a while ago and thought I saw her further back."

Ellie could hardly deny it, she would see Rose at the harbour but thought Beth had already asked her on the day. So much had happened though, she'd maybe forgotten.

"Yeah, it was them Beth, they did everything they could but Danny was already gone, sorry. We know he wasn't killed there, we're hoping for a big response from this reconstruction, things we didn't previously know."

"You know where he was killed though, don't you?" Beth asked her.

Ellie knew her boss would be trying to listen, despite Mark now walking beside him. She also suspected he'd been the one to request Rose and her partner to attend, maybe that was why Rose had arrived earlier yesterday but on the other hand, maybe there was another reason? Now, she wasn't so sure she had thought of inviting them both to dinner at the same time.

"We are looking at the possible scene Beth, that's all I can tell you until we are sure but we think Danny was transported to where he was found. They sent the paramedics because the person who called it in wasn't sure and they followed procedure. Rose has been affected by it more than her partner, she was in the station yesterday giving her statement."

"I'm glad it was her," Beth replied. "I know she would have done everything she could Ellie," Beth told her. "I've not had the chance to thank them yet, for trying."

"I'm sure they understand Beth," Ellie tried to assure her friend. "They'll be in the harbour car park after the reconstruction for a few minutes, in case anyone found the walk distressing, you may get chance to talk to them."

Mark was asking Alec a few questions as the procession made its way across the harbour. Alec hadn't been entirely sure why Danny had even skateboarded down the High Street just a week ago when the hut was in the opposite direction but maybe he'd been meeting someone in a car and been driven up there?

"Do you think this will do any good?" Mark was asking Alec.

"We hope so, someone coming from one of the pubs on the harbour may have seen Danny skateboarding or being picked up by someone in a car," Alec told him, feeling okay for now and glad he'd taken Rose's advice of going easy on himself for a change.

He'd glanced back a few times but couldn't tell from that distance who was driving the ambulance but he hoped her partner would let her have the honour. Everyone made their way to the car park where a few more police cars were stationed to stop overnight parkers, Alec had thought people may want to take their time and hopefully remember something themselves and talk to the officers who were there.

Ellie was still with Beth and Alec was watching the crowd then saw Rose driving the ambulance, which pleased him no end. He supposed in his capacity of being in charge, he would be justified being seen talking to her so he went over as she was getting out.

"Detective Inspector Hardy," Rose greeted him, trying not to beam from ear to ear.

"Miss Tyler, we must stop meeting like this," he half joked.

Steven though was dying to burst out laughing, they were fooling no-one by pretending to be coy with each other and he bet a week's wage they were already sleeping together, the way Rose had been so keen to attend the event.

"So, how's things going?" Rose asked him as Steven went to the back of the ambulance in case anyone needed assistance.

"Good so far," he nodded to where several people were talking with other officers. "We may not have enough people answering the phones tomorrow, care to volunteer?"

"Sorry, got work at ten, these stupid hours. How are we supposed to have a social life?" she replied, not wanting to give the game away. "I called DS Miller earlier to see where you were starting off from."

"You could have called the front desk for that," he replied dryly, hoping no-one would notice they looked a bit too comfortable around each other.

Rose tried not to laugh at his attempt to look like he wasn't really talking to her other than about the event. He'd noticed a few photographers and a film crew and didn't want to give any clues, well not yet as it could put Rose in the firing line, so to speak. Rose nodded to where Ellie was making her way towards them.

"Did you volunteer for this Rose?" Ellie started asking her. "Or were you requested?"

"Leave it Miller, I asked for a crew going off duty, they were obviously the nearest," Alec told her.

Ellie thought that was a likely story, he must have given her a hint yesterday. She went off, leaving Alec stubbing his toe on the gravel as Rose had gone off to see if Steven needed any help so Alec went to the back of the ambulance but he noticed the harbour newsagent was standing outside his shop. Maybe the man thought it would have been too much, since Rose had attended a few days ago, which was partly why they'd both ended up in bed last night.

He knew he wouldn't be able to keep their new relationship a secret but Rose was still worried about it getting back to Joe Miller, she was deeply affected by the thought plus she was upset she'd been the one to find her friend's son. He hadn't though seen Olly lurking around, who had sneaked a photo of them talking, for future reference, if the detective wasn't going to tell him anything.

"Something wrong?" Rose asked him as Steven was being asked something by a woman.

"No, I'm fine, I took your advice," he replied, since no-one seemed to be taking any notice of them. "Your friend apologised for her husband giving me more to drink than I was comfortable with, it seems he makes a habit of it," he replied, seeing Joe Miller with his son.

"Yeah, he was always trying it, I finally got him to stop when I used to go round, trust me, it wasn't easy. You are coming over?" she asked quietly.

"Yes, I will just collect a few things, I will probably be there the same time as you. I'd best go mingle," he replied.

He stepped away as Steven turned back and saw Olly, giving him a warning look but Olly just shrugged his shoulders.

"So what are you two up to?" Steven asked as he closed the back doors. "You may as well admit it," he continued, holding out his hand for the keys, which Rose had the sense to take out when she'd seen Alec.

"Don't know whatcha mean," Rose replied, going around the other side.

They drove off slowly, Rose giving a wave as she passed Alec, who waved back and hoped Stevens wasn't lurking around but most people were leaving so it seemed safe enough, he hoped. He caught one of the patrol officers and got a ride to his hotel, then remembered he passed a takeaway going towards where Rose lived and thought he would save her calling in so he sent her a message and hoped she'd get it before she left work.

As Rose and Steven were getting back to the ambulance station, Rose heard her message tone and sneaked a look.

"From loverboy?" Steven teased her. "Drop the act Rose, I know you too well. You're not fooling me so just admit it. He stayed last night then?"

Rose knew the game was up as far as he was concerned.

"Yeah, I'm worried about him being on his own Steven, no-one may hear him the next time," she admitted.

"Well it's up to him to get himself fixed Rose, you heard them at the hospital. How did it go when you got back there?"

"I dropped off to sleep and he woke before me," Rose grinned.

Steven was still laughing when they were doing the final checks.

Alec was caught sneaking back out by Becca as she had just got back, since the vicar had kept her talking.

"Are you going somewhere?" she asked as Alec had a bag under his arm.

"Yes but I would appreciate it if you told no-one," he replied, since it was almost likely he'd be moving out soon.

"Got yourself a girlfriend then?" she laughed.

"I seem to have done though at this stage I don't know how long for," he admitted.

Well that was true, if he got to his operation, it may still go wrong but if Joe Miller went after Rose, he probably wouldn't go for it or at least put it off but if something now happened to Rose, he had Joe Miller on both counts because he was considering getting Rose to make a formal statement, just in case. He'd been thinking about it most of the day, it was only a matter of time before his DS found out and she of course would tell her husband and that may be enough to rattle Joe Miller but he would never put Rose in danger.

He knew it wasn't really that far to Rose's place but he knew after that walk he'd best take it easy so he'd found the number of the takeaway then arranged for a cab, saying he needed to make a stop on the way. Lucky for him, it must have been Clive Lucas's day off. Alec let himself into Rose's block, not realising she had just arrived but heard a car driving off and saw her.

"Good timing," he greeted her, kissing her cheek as they waited for the lift.

"Yeah. Steven knows about us, I've worked with him too long, I can't hide it from him," she admitted. "Don't worry, he doesn't know Joe Miller."

"Good but I think your friend is beginning to suspect something. Did I mention she kept saying about you the other night, that she should have got you around at the same time?" he asked her.

"Mmm, I think ya might have mentioned it, good thing I was working though, for more reasons than one," she replied as the lift arrived, Rose wishing it wouldn't default to the fifth floor.

She supposed that was to deter those who got in by other means than using the code or being invited, like leaflet distributors or canvassers. After eating, they laid on the sofa, just in time for the news summary, where Rose smiled as it showed Alec in front with Mark and hoping she'd not been spotted or her mother would be straight on the phone. It showed them walking across the harbour, blue lights flashing behind the crowd and she spotted the ambulance as the newsreader went over the details again.

"I hope something good comes out of this," Rose yawned.

"So do I," Alec replied, going under her t-shirt with his hand. "Rose, I want you to make a formal statement about what you told me happened with Joe Miller. Can you do that?"

"I thought ya couldn't do anything about it?" she asked him.

"Not at present but I thought about it, you need to safeguard yourself, I don't want to take any chances Rose. You saved me the other night, I want to help save you."

"You're being serious, aren't you? You believe me that he may think I've told ya everything?"

"Yes and it worries me. When's the earliest you can do it?" he wanted to know.

"Well not tomorrow, I'll get next week's shifts on Saturday. Maybe one morning when I start at twelve again, they're not the same every week and everyone's complaining again."

"I should hope so, is nothing being done about it?" he asked, going to kiss her neck.

"There's a lot of talking going on, I think the union may get involved. Everyone would be happy just having the same shifts every week but who does what will be up for debate."

"Well best hope they do something soon then?" he asked as Rose snuggled up to him. "It makes no difference Rose, just as long as you don't get the midnight shift."

"No chance, Steven won't volunteer us for that. Don't worry, I may be home before you tomorrow," she smiled, nudging him for a kiss.

After being as careful as they could not to set Alec up another attack, they fell asleep, Rose draping herself half over him, which Alec thought was her way of saying he wasn't going anywhere if his phone should ring during the night. He couldn't really blame her though, she'd cared enough to go back and check on him in the hospital, how would she feel if she found him after chasing a suspect down a cliff? He hoped that would never happen but in his line of work, he never knew.

The next morning, after a bit of grunting and groaning from Alec as Rose played around, they had breakfast and Alec decided to risk calling for a car to pick him up, since Rose's address wasn't known to anyone except Ellie Miller and call in the personnel department and change his address and hoped the woman there wasn't a friend of his DS. Then later, he'd check out of the hotel and hopefully have a less stressful weekend than the last one with reluctant psychic telephone engineers who heard voices and Mark Latimer playing games with him and getting Rose involved as to the incident with Danny in his boat, which lucky for Mark Latimer, Rose could verify.

He had read through her statement of how they had got a call to meet the boat at the metal landing after Mark had radioed in an emergency as Chloe was unable to get the gash closed with the first aid kit on board the boat and Rose had told him Danny's foot was a bit messy when they'd met the boat and Danny had thought it was funny when Steven carried him off to the back of the ambulance to put a couple of stitches in it after Rose had cleaned it up and told him to keep it clean then put a bandage on it.

Now, he had to go talk to his boss and tell her he was worried about Rose because of what she had told him and hoped Elaine Jenkinson, who had told him on his arrival to keep a low profile and that had never happened, would agree. She would surely be pleased he thought he had to keep Rose safe. Maybe he shouldn't let her know he and Rose were already involved but they had been seen together last night so it may already be too late.

Rose had laughed when he got his phone and called the station instead of the cab company.

"Scared it'll be Lucas again?" she teased him as he waited.

Then he thought the phones may be busy after last night but someone answered with a gruff 'Broadchurch police, hold the line please' and he had shouted who it was before they had put the phone on hold.

"Sorry Sir," the desk sergeant apologised at Alec's name. "I thought you were already in your office."

"Never mind, I want a car to pick me up from Benson Court in ten minutes, it's down the other end of the High Street on the way out of town."

"Sir, I thought you were at the Trader's Hotel?" came the reply.

"I just moved, now get someone out to me and answer the other phones," Alec told him as he heard them ringing.

Rose was giggling to herself.

"That's not helping Rose," he told her as he put his phone in his jacket pocket and picked up his tie.

Rose wanted to help him but he declined.

"You are too stuffy, inspector," she teased him as she tried to loosen his tie, battling with his hands.

"Stop it Rose, I have to go, there must have been a big response from last night."

"Well you wanted a big response," she pointed out, still trying to get to his tie but Alec hadn't tried to put it straight again.

He was about to leave when his phone rang, seeing 'Miller' on the display and Rose offering to answer it.

"Rose, that would prove she was right," he reminded her. "Shush while I see what she wants."

Rose huffed and went to watch out of the window and hoped the neighbours didn't see Alec getting into a police car.

"Are you on your way in?" Ellie was asking him.

"I'm waiting to be picked up Miller, it's quicker than walking," he replied, trying not to let on it was further than the hotel.

"Well I have some interesting information, tell the driver to take you down to Ty's caravan park just down the coast, I'll meet you there. Since when have you needed a lift from the hotel – Sir?" she added.

Giving Rose a kiss, he made his way downstairs and just hoped whoever was picking him up didn't know Rose lived there, since everyone seemed to know her. Now this would delay him changing his address and seeing the chief about what Rose had told him.

After the woman who cleaned the hut where Danny had been found gave them the run-around, Alec saying it was a waste of their time, he told Ellie to go upstairs while he went to find the chief. He started to tell her that they might have a suspect without saying who it actually was.

"Really Alec, I need a name," the chief told him.

"I can't, not yet, the person who told me is afraid he will go after her," he replied, knowing he'd done it now.

"You'd better explain Alec," she told him.

"Someone came to see me a few days ago, she was worried because someone she used to work with had a violent temper she had witnessed on several occasions and when Danny was found, she got worried about it," he explained, giving the cut down version.

"I see. This person is now worried that the person who told you may have mentioned they had a temper and you would want to question them?"

Alec shook his head. This was getting complicated.

"Not exactly. The person who told me knows the man's wife and she's afraid if her friend finds out, it will get back to him and he will go after her, to find out how much she has said."

"Alec, you had better tell me the rest of it, it won't go any further than my office. If this is to do with Danny's death somehow, I need to know. Who told you this?" she asked him.

Alec just hoped when he told her, she wouldn't ask if they were involved but that had come after she'd told him but Rose had told him more later, on his insistence. He took a deep breath and risked telling his superior officer.

"It was Rose Tyler, one of the town's paramedics," he admitted.

"Then she is a credible witness Alec, did you get a statement about it?" he was asked.

"No, she came in to give us one about finding Danny on the beach when they were called to attend and verify a claim from the boy's father about some blood being found in his boat. She came in early because she had seen this person she used to work with blow up a few years ago over a traffic incident, she was a passenger in his car."

"Is this connected to Danny's death or not?" she wanted to know.

Alec could have sworn he'd just told her that.

Chapter 15
Alec just wanted to get this over with, since it seemed he was going to have to admit he was involved with who was now going to be a major witness and that could compromise the whole case so he had to think carefully and hope Rose wouldn't be upset if he denied things for the time being.

"Yes and no," he admitted. "Yes in the terms that she witnessed her old work partner have an altercation with another driver over them both going through amber traffic lights but she cannot swear the other driver had done so, there may have been a filter light as she was not familiar with that side of the road. She did admit her then partner had stopped then driven into the supermarket car park and she got out to do her shopping. She thought he was going to leave but when she came out, he was fighting with the other driver."

"This should have been reported at the time Alec, why wasn't it?" the chief wanted to know.

"As she pointed out, arguments in car parks are commonplace and no real harm was done, if it had, the other driver would have reported it," Alec replied, finding it difficult to withhold the fact if it had been reported, his DS may have got to know about it.

"Well I want that following up Alec, I know you have this murder investigation but if it has any bearing on this current case? Is she willing to give a statement now?" he was asked.

"Yes, I already contacted her about it, I thought she would be best doing so now, in case things get difficult," he replied.

"In what way?" the chief wanted to know.

Now he'd put his foot in it.

"I'd rather not say, for now," he replied, hoping she would go for it.

"Alec, you're not involved with her, are you?" she asked him. "If you are, you need to get her in now or as soon as possible, if the incident is related to Danny's death. So basically, she confided in you because she was afraid her ex partner is the one responsible?"

Alec saw he had no choice.

"Yes, she is and she is afraid if he finds out she spoke to us, he would get to know and as I said, she was friends with his wife," Alec replied, certain she'd already asked him that once. "It could make things very difficult for her, that's why I don't want any names mentioned at this time."

"Why not Alec, did she tell you who this person was?" she asked him.

"Yes, she did and when you find out, you will see why I am reluctant to reveal it," he replied.

"Very well, get her in as soon as you can Alec, if you’re involved with her, don't tell anyone. Does this person's wife know she's seeing you?"

"I think Rose said her friend has her suspicions, Ma'am," was all he was going to admit.

"Crikey Alec, do you know what this will do?" she asked him.

"She's aware of the friction it will cause, it wasn't an easy decision for her to come and tell me and just so you know, we only really got involved the night before last. We did not exactly get on before that time, ask the desk sergeant, he will confirm that we were rather hostile towards each other when we kept meeting whilst on duty," he admitted.

"I see. So she's worried?" he was asked.

"Yes, she is and just talking to me could make it more so. I can't say who it is that she's afraid of but in the meantime, she knows to stay away from him. Thankfully she finishes work early tonight, I can have her come down when she finishes and get it out of the way but I have a request to make."

"Yes, I thought you would have," the chief smiled.

"I do not want DS Miller on this, she is a friend of Miss Tyler's, it may do more harm than good," he told her.

He was thinking if that didn't give any clues nothing would.

"Please don't tell me she's involved?" she asked him. She looked at Alec's reaction. "Alec, get Miss Tyler in tonight, I want a full report on my desk in the morning and I will decide what to do about it, understood? Get a junior officer in the interview room with you although you shouldn't really be doing the interview but if someone is with you, I'll let it pass. Just one copy for now and I want you to deliver it personally to me in the morning so you'd better be prepared to come in early before DS Miller arrives, if she's Miss Tyler's friend?"

"Of course. I don't like this any more than you do," Alec replied, wishing he could just get to personnel but maybe that should wait? "I was planning on moving out of the hotel," he admitted.

"Please don't tell me where you're moving to Alec," she replied. "Leave it for now, if you're not needing the hotel paying for I take it you are going to be sharing with someone?"

Alec could only nod in agreement.

"Well if you are officially still at the hotel, no-one can claim anything, can they?" she asked him.

Alec couldn't agree more. At least it hadn't been as bad as he thought it would be. He'd been expecting to get chewed out and told to end his all too brief relationship with Rose but he'd hoped he would get away with it. He went to his office and sent a text to Rose saying he needed her at the police station and that he'd wait for her arrival.

Rose had started her shift, getting nods of thanks for her driving the ambulance last night when someone pulled her up about it.

"That took some doing Rose," she was told by someone who had been there. "I don't think I could have found him like that and been able to take part."

"Thanks Brenda, yeah, it wasn't easy, trust me but it was something I had to do."

When they got in the ambulance, Steven asked her why she never normally argued over who was driving. They were about to set off when Rose got a message from Alec.

"Trouble?" Steven asked her as he pulled out.

"Another police statement. It seems Alec saw his chief and she wants me to make one about the car park incident. Alec's just tryin' to get it out of the way before anyone finds out we're seeing each other. That way, they can't say he talked me into it."

"Best get it out of the way Rose," Steven agreed as he set the sat-nav for the address he'd just got on the radio. "I was proud of you last night, you were very professional, I half expected you and your new boyfriend to be all over each other," he smiled.

"Geez thanks Steven," Rose laughed. "I think he may move out of the hotel later, no sense in him staying there as long as I get that statement out of the way."

"It might be best if he doesn't Rose, surely?" Steven disagreed. "If he keeps the room, all the better and if he's getting cabs from your place, word will get round."

Rose hadn't thought of that. Maybe they should discuss getting a car as soon as possible?

Ellie had wondered where her infuriating boss had got to and caught him on his way in.

"Anything I should know about?" she asked as she followed him into his office. "I saw you talking with Rose last night, are you two actually dating?"

"Wow, how long have you been waiting to ask me that?" he wanted to know.

"Well Joe mentioned he saw the two of you talking as well, all I've ever seen is the two of you arguing or trying to get the better of each other – Sir," she replied.

"You've changed your tune Miller, if I recall, you were telling me not to mess her around?" he reminded her. "We may have done but maybe we have made peace with each other?" he replied, not wanting to admit anything, well not yet.

"Well I hope so, she's my friend and she works some awful hours, which was why Joe gave up working. She doesn't get much chance to go out. Maybe you'll be more understanding?" she asked him.

"I will Miller. Is that all?" he asked.

Ellie just hoped he would keep his word but now, he had to be more careful what he said. When it got to just after five, he thought his DS may find it odd if he sent her home early but he needed her gone before Rose arrived. He knew he could get someone to stay behind, even a uniformed officer would do at a pinch.

"Miller," he called from his half open door.

She got up and stood in the doorway.

"I hope you don't expect me to work late tonight?" she asked him. "I promised Tom we'd talk about last night."

Little did she know she had come to his rescue.

"Yes, you should go and talk to him Miller, tell him well done and he did right by Danny," Alec told her.

"Wow, got a date?" she asked him.

"Ah, yes, well Rose will be finished early, I thought I would maybe take her out. It can't have been easy for her either last night," he replied.

Ellie went off with a smile on her face – wait until she told Joe that her grumpy boss had finally got his act together, she might get home a bit earlier in future. Fortunately for Rose though, once she got home and started talking to Tom, she forgot all about it, for now anyway.

Rose was just getting finished and ordered a cab, meaning to maybe take Alec up on getting a car but who would be using it?

"Early start again tomorrow Rose, sorry," Steven told her as he came out of the office. "We have to swap so be back for six. I'm sure your new boyfriend will appreciate that?"

"No wonder I could never get dates," Rose complained.

"Well you don't have to worry about that now, do you?" he grinned.

"Shush, we haven't told anyone yet. If Ellie finds out, well she'll tell Joe, won't she?" Rose asked him.

"Rose, you're not going to be able to keep it quiet you know? She'll find out from him, won't she?"

Rose had to admit he was right and if Alec didn't want Ellie around when she was due to make another statement, he would have given Ellie some excuse or another. Her cab arrived and trust it to be her worst nightmare.

"Evening darlin' going home?" Lucas asked as she got in the back, having long since stopped getting in the front.

"No, I'm going down the harbour, thanks. I'm meeting my boyfriend, the new DI, you remember him?" she replied. "Ya can drop me opposite the police station, I'll probably have to go drag him from his office," she added for good measure.

Well that was as good a cover story as any she supposed. She smiled at the thought of marching into Alec's office and persuading him to leave. She saw Lucas watching her through the mirror and wondered why he was so vain he couldn't use his first name instead of his last.

Alec was already downstairs, he'd managed to swear a junior officer to secrecy by telling him they had a possible witness as to who could have killed Danny and the officer was keen to oblige.

"Not a word about this, do you understand?" Alec had asked the new DC on the way down.

"No Sir, of course not, if it helps catch the killer?"

"Well I am hoping so, Daniels was it?" Alec replied, wondering how he'd managed to remember his name. "You are going to hear some familiar names when the witness arrives, they are under no circumstances to be repeated or you will answer not only to me but the chief. Go set up in interview room one while I wait for the witness to arrive."

"Yes Sir," Daniels replied, wondering what was so secretive.

He was soon going to find out as Alec looked at the time as he watched the door. Thankfully, Bob had gone off duty or he'd have even more to explain. He was about to go sit down when the door opened, Alec wishing it was a clear glass door. He had to restrain himself from greeting Rose as she entered.

"Hi, you wanted me for that statement?" Rose asked him, seeing a different desk sergeant.

"Yes, this way Miss Tyler," Alec replied. "There will be another officer present."

Rose was glad about that, she didn't think he'd invite Ellie to join them.

"The other officer is under orders to reveal nothing of what you tell us so you can talk freely and the chief superintendent will read it in the morning but she may not be able to take it any further at this stage."

"Yeah, you already said that," Rose replied as they came to the interview room door.

"Rose," he started to say, his hand on the door handle. "She knows your friend is somehow involved but I'm sorry, you will have to give names or the chief will not take it seriously. Be warned though that if she does, your friend will have to be told and she will be removed from the case so the chief will take it very seriously if an officer is involved."

"I get that Alec and if it wasn't true, I wouldn't have come to you about it," Rose replied.

"I know," he assured her, touching her arm. "I know this took a lot of consideration on your part Rose but you can't keep it to yourself, it's too big a coincidence and I think the chief also believes that though she did not say as much. Ready?" he asked her. "I'll take you out afterwards, I gave that as an excuse to send your friend home early," he smiled as he opened the door.

Rose stopped him.

"Alec, does this mean we can't see each other any more?"

He pulled the door to, turning back.

"I can't say Rose, sorry but I'll know better tomorrow. Rose, I will speak up about it but the chief may not even consider it to be serious at this stage, this is just a precaution, in case your ex partner goes after you. We should go in."

Rose was seated and Daniels set the recording equipment going and got a large sheet of paper out of a folder a WPC had taken in while Alec was waiting for Rose to arrive. Alec did the introductions and the time and date.

"Rose, can you tell us in your own words what happened on the evening your then work partner offered you a ride to the supermarket?"

Even just glancing at the junior officer, Alec could see this was going to be trouble at the mention of the Miller surname and the look on the other man's face as Rose told them how her friend had called her to see where her husband had got to and him lying to her, expecting Rose to back him up.

After Rose stopped, Alec had a few questions, to make certain Rose wasn't covering anything up and he hated himself for doing it.

"Rose, you are certain it was Joe Miller and another man you saw first arguing in the supermarket car park then going for each other?" he asked her.

"Yeah, Joe was standing at the side of his car, I could see him when he half turned," she replied.

"Did you know who the other man was?" Alec continued.

"No, I'd never seen him before but I'd seen the car Joe had argued with just a few rows down in the car park, it wasn't really busy at that time."

"So as you watched, the two men started struggling with each other?" Alec had to ask, even though he'd heard it before.

"Not exactly, Joe started it," Rose replied. "When I got out of his car, he was gonna go leave a note on the other car but he'd no paper so I just laughed and went shopping. I just assumed he'd leave and he'd calmed down. Oh, he did joke when I said he could have dropped me outside the store and he joked that I could walk," she added.

Alec hadn't heard that bit.

"So you assumed it was over with and left him?" Alec wanted to know.

"Well yeah, how did I know he was gonna go ballistic when he saw the other driver? I didn't even get a good look at him, Joe put the brake on the car so suddenly, I wondered what was happening," Rose told him.

"Had there been other incidents Rose?" he asked her.

Rose went through them, including when Joe had told his wife's nephew to get out of his way or he'd be in the back of the ambulance. Alec hadn't heard that bit either but that had been his own fault for telling her he couldn't do anything about it.

"Rose, going back to your then partner getting you to cover for him, how did it make you feel?"

"Like he was using me as an excuse. I didn't exactly back him up, I just told his wife he'd dropped me at the supermarket, Joe was the one who told her he'd waited for me and then joked he knew how long women went shopping. He never even thanked me the next day either."

"Scrub that last part," Alec ordered the other man.

"Sir?" Daniels questioned him as he got up. "There's a camera as well."

"I know that," Alec replied as he'd stopped the recorder. "If asked, Miss Tyler needed to stop for a moment."

He poured out some water for Rose to make it look realistic while Daniels went back to where Rose had just said that last sentence. Alec knew he shouldn't but he could claim Rose was upset at having to relay the facts but the real reason was obvious to him – that it would look to anyone else, including the chief that Rose was getting her own back on Joe Miller for not thanking her for covering while he lied to his wife.

"Are you able to continue Miss Tyler?" Alec asked her a few moments later, hoping Rose had realised what she had just said.

"Yeah, it was gettin' a bit much, sorry," she replied, knowing he'd stopped the tape for a good reason.

Maybe he meant she shouldn't have added the last bit?

Alec had a few more questions as Daniels jotted down what she was now saying.

"We will just need you to sign your statement, if you could wait?" Alec asked her. "I will have a drink brought in for you."

"Thanks, it's been a long day and I'm on early shift tomorrow. Funny, it's the same time as we started last Friday morning, we had to swap with someone."

"Really?" Alec asked her. "You mean this week or last week?"

"This week. Oh, I just thought, it could have been any of the teams and it had to be me," she realised, putting her arms on the table and resting her head.

Alec turned off the recording equipment. He took the tape out and gave it to the DC.

"Have some tea brought in for Miss Tyler," Alec told him. Then he followed the other man to the door. "Not a word about what she said, when the recording was stopped. She's tired and upset, understand?"

Alec went back to Rose and since the camera was off, pulled a chair round.

"Okay love? When we get out of here, I will take you for something to eat. Rose?" he asked as she'd flopped down again with her head in her hands.

"Alec, I just wanna go home, I start early in the morning. Why did we get two early Fridays? I might not have been the one last week but no, they had to send us."

"Rose, no-one was to know. Want to know something?" he asked, getting a smile from her. "When I walked on the beach last Friday morning, I asked myself the same question, why did it have to be you and look at us now? Rose, you are not going to like this but the chief may now have some objections to us seeing each other, that's why I asked you to do this tonight."

"Alec, I can't get through this on my own," she told him.

"Well let us hope you don't have to love," he told her just as the door opened after a short knock.

When the WPC had gone, he continued.

"The chief guessed but until she has seen your statement and who is involved, let's just go home and call for some food on the way and I will see about hiring a car. Then if we are not supposed to see each other, I won't have to keep getting cabs from here or the hotel, will I?"

Chapter 16
The next morning, Rose tried not to wake her new boyfriend but failed, since he was used to waking up thinking he was drowning all over again.

"Alec, ya don't have to get up with me," Rose insisted just before five.

"Well I have to hand that report to the chief before your friend arrives," he replied, getting on his knees to put his arms around her as she sat on the edge of the bed.

"Well that's not for hours yet, I told ya, this is why I never bothered with a boyfriend, I'd either have to kick 'em out or sneak out of their place. No wonder Joe Miller left when they had two kids, it must have been hard on Tom as well. Alec, did ya interview Tom, about Danny?"

"No, should I have done?" he asked, moving since Rose was getting up. "You think he could tell me something?"

"Well yeah, he's a teenager, of course he can tell ya something," Rose laughed as she grabbed her clean underwear. "You're not moving out of the hotel, are ya?"

"Not until I see what the chief has to say love," he replied, waiting for her to move since she'd cleared a drawer for him. "Hopefully, your statement will satisfy her and as long as nothing is added to it, we should be able to still see each other but she suggested I officially keep the hotel room for now."

"Well ya said they were paying for it so it's their loss. Need the bathroom first?" she asked.

"No love, I can wait, I'll make you a quick breakfast and Rose, you be careful, okay? If your friend gets a hint you've talked about her husband, he’ll get to know but now, how am I going to get her to bring her son in?"

He guessed he would just have to make it seem like they were running out of ideas and were calling in anyone who knew Danny. He knew it wouldn't go down well, not after the other night. What did Miller expect though? That her family were exempt? He'd had to interview his now girlfriend, Miller would have to accept with Tom being Danny's friend that he would also have to be interviewed.

Great, now he had to tell Miller after facing the chief about Rose and if it went badly, he'd be in a worse mood than usual.

Rose got to work with ten minutes to spare, even though she had to put up with Lucas again and she thought he worked worse hours than she did but she'd got lucky with Alec just accepting it.

"You look tired Rose," Steven commented as they got ready.

"Yeah, I had to go give another interview last night, so Alec can judge what his boss thinks about us seeing each other. She'd better not stop us. I even got upset I thought it was Friday today."

"Well I wouldn't like to be her if she does," Steven joked. "Never mind, another day off tomorrow, you two should sneak out of town for the day."

"How? We'd have to get a bus, since they closed the railway station however long ago it was. Do they think everyone has a car?" she asked.

Steven smiled to himself that she looked slightly happier since she took up with the town's new DI. He was though disappointed there would be no more of them trying to get the better of each other, it had been the highlight of his day watching them complain about each other. Now he'd have to find something else for amusement.

Even though it was Saturday, the chief had deemed to go to her office just to sort out Alec's problem but she wasn't happy about it as Alec sat there after handing the folder over.

"Really Alec, that incident should have been reported. She works for the emergency services, if no-one else bothered, she should have done and she should have reported him to the supervisor."

"She was friends with his wife, what was she supposed to do?" Alec wanted to know. "Anyway, you have the name now, so what happens next?"

He thought she'd best not try to impose a ban on him seeing Rose.

"Well since no harm was done at the time, I expect it's too late to give them both a warning on causing a public affray? These smaller incidents though, him threatening his wife's nephew?"

"Have you met the nosy town reporter?" Alec wanted to know, seeing why the reporter was so unpopular first hand.

"Not personally Alec. This bit though about Rose Tyler saying Joe Miller used her as an excuse for being late back? Maybe he never really thought she would have the nerve to object, since he was doing her a favour going out of his way?"

"Really?" Alec asked. "He may have done but she never asked him to wait and get in a fight after going through a red light, did she?"

"I thought it was amber?" the chief corrected him.

"It was changing, he should have stopped if it was safe to do so but she states it happened so fast, she thought he was going to stop. It was his decision to break traffic regulations. He probably had got so used to doing so driving the ambulance," Alec replied.

"Yes, well, I expect most of the police drivers do that?" the chief half smiled. "I see no relevance at this time that he was involved in Danny's death though Alec. He may have run a red light and showed violent tendencies but until we have more on how Danny died? Leave it with me Alec, I can assure you I won't mention this to DS Miller."

"Yes, well about her, her son was Danny's friend, I think it's time he was interviewed. Danny may have been worried about something or mentioned if he had made any new friends lately."

"Alec, in case you had forgotten, the Millers were away the weeks leading up to Danny's death. If you somehow think her husband had anything to do with it, it's pure speculation. I think you should just come out and ask her to bring her son in, before you ask her if her husband was in all that night when they got back. Good luck with that though."

"It has to done, she can't pick and choose. So about Rose Tyler then?" he asked.

"You want to know if you can still see each other? Alec, keep the room at the hotel and don't tell anyone you are considering moving in with her – for now. Let's see where this goes? You said she was worried though?"

"She is but if DS Miller does not know she made a statement, even if Joe Miller finds out we are involved, he'll have no reason to think she's talked about him. It was a few years ago, maybe he has even forgotten about it? By the way, is there any chance of getting a car?"

"You never asked before Alec," the chief replied as she put the folder in her desk drawer. "Just for the weekend or longer? Someone will be upset come Monday morning, especially if you still choose to let someone else drive you around. Are you still wanting to find out who that other driver was?"

"Maybe? I can get someone to do it quietly. You think Joe Miller is entirely innocent in Danny's death?"

"I'm not saying that Alec. Just tread carefully, his wife did not take kindly to you taking her job, remember?" the chief smiled.

"Yes, all too well. Not only did she start on the beach over Danny's body but she's never stopped since. This is why I want her and Rose Tyler to remain friends. Having them falling out over something Rose reported is not ideal, it will affect how DS Miller works with me, at callouts if Rose is part of the ambulance crew."

"I heard she drove behind the procession the other night," the chief told him. "That was a nice touch, since they were called out that morning. Alec, I know you two will keep meeting up at incidents but try not to let your personal lives get in the way?"

Alec nodded and got up, going to his office and hoping Miller wasn't waiting for him after the day they'd had the previous Saturday. He began to wonder why Rose hadn't asked if he'd re-booked his surgery yet but there had been a lot going on so he resolved to do it on Monday morning. He had to be seen doing something about it, he couldn't keep depending on Rose to save his ass every time, even though they were now lovers.

He called the garage and told the traffic officer on duty he wanted a car waiting for him at twelve. Then he was going up to the supermarket, get something nice to make later since Rose was finishing early or maybe he should surprise her and they'd drive across into Devon and find a nice seafront hotel somewhere?

He looked at the town's map on the computer screen and made a note where the ambulance station was and the postcode, if the car he was borrowing had a satnav, which it should do and go meet her at around two and surprise her. Then they could pack a few things and set off, it would be nice surprise for her.

While he was planning that, he didn't see Ellie go to her desk.

"What are you doing in today?" Ellie asked him as her curiosity got the better of her.

"Catching up, same as you probably," he replied, taking his specs off. "I need to interview your son Miller, see if Danny confided anything in him, two teenagers, well almost teenagers would have had plenty to talk about."

Ellie stared at him.

"You're serious? Tom's already upset about the other night – Sir," she replied.

"Sit down Miller. What do you want from this investigation eh? Yes, I am being serious, we need to speak to him if Danny told him the slightest thing that may lead us to his killer. By the way, the night you got back from holiday, did Tom meet Danny?" he asked, trying the indirect method.

"No, none of us went out. Oh, Joe went out to get some basic groceries, milk, eggs and bread but he was only half an hour. I unpacked, loaded the washing machine and I was in bed by eight. I get terrible jet-lag, I have these sleeping pills I take."

"So you never woke until the next morning?" Alec wanted to know.

Ellie thought it was a bit of a stupid question.

"That was point in taking them – Sir. Then I get to work, find out I didn't get my promotion and had to face you on the beach and if that wasn't bad enough, my best friend's son was lying there face down and my other friend was arguing with you."

Alec remembered that only too well. Had it only been a week since he and Rose had still been arguing at every opportunity? They'd still been arguing on Monday outside the newsagents and only made peace the other night and he was considering moving in with her. Was he the one who was scared of collapsing again or was that just her?

"Sir?" Ellie questioned him as he looked miles away. "Are you still seeing Rose?"

"What? Yes, she does not work for the police, Miller, we are both single and no, her work hours have not made me forget it. Anyway, have your husband or an adult bring Tom in on Monday morning, arrange a time. Maybe something was bothering Danny and he told Tom?"

"I think Tom would have told me or his dad if that was the case," Ellie replied.

Alec doubted if Tom told his dad, Joe Miller would be likely to say anything. Getting Joe to bring Tom would kill two birds with one stone and save him time. He could covertly interview Joe at the same time and he'd never suspect, would he?

"Anyone else we should re-interview?" Alec asked Ellie as she got up. "Anyone not having an alibi for that night, we should arrange to get them back in. Are you going to the church again tomorrow?"

"I was thinking about it. What about you?" Ellie replied.

"I think I may take Rose out of town for the day, she's had a lot to deal with, she's still upset at finding him, that's why she was driving the other night. She felt she had to do so. When she worked with your husband, did he do all the driving?" he dared ask, thinking it was a simple question he'd get away with.

"When Joe's in a car or an ambulance, he hates being a passenger. Besides, I don't think Rose had passed her test back then. Whenever I've seen her and Steven, he's mostly been driving. Maybe Rose just got used to it?"

"Maybe? I never asked her. Speaking of alibis Miller, could your husband have gone out again after you went to bed?"

Ellie looked like she wanted to slap him.

"The boys were asleep, he'd never go out and leave them when I'd taken those pills. Are we getting that desperate you're asking about officer's husbands?" she asked him.

"Nothing of the sort Miller and if I was, I'd be asking every officer, not just you. I have work to finish, I want to meet Rose at two and surprise her, since I commandeered a car, at least for the weekend."

Ellie was surprised to hear he could actually drive so what was he doing getting her to do it all?

"When were you going to tell me you could drive?" Ellie almost laughed.

"The subject never came up Miller. I just want to take her off somewhere, she's still haunted by last Friday morning. I've tried to get her to seek help, she said she might go see the vicar about it."

"Well I hope she does but she's seen fatal accidents before, I'm surprised this one got to her so much."

So was Alec, when he thought about it. Why was this one so heavy on her mind?

Rose and Steven were taking a break down by the harbour. It was quite busy, considering what had happened only a week or so ago but Rose had remarked people will be nosy. She was about to nip into the pub to use the restroom when Olly had seen them. He was still puzzled to Alec's attitude towards him about the young paramedic.

"Rose," he called after her as she was outside the pub.

"Go away Olly, I need the ladies room. Go find someone else to annoy, I'm not going out with ya."

"I'm not asking you to but are you seeing Alec Hardy?" he grinned.

"Do you want a slap on the face Olly Stevens?" Rose replied, hoping Steven wouldn't get a call or she'd have to cross her legs when she got back to the ambulance.

"So you are then? Why be so secretive about it?" Olly wanted to know.

Rose stepped back, since some people were coming out of the pub.

"Maybe because we're both in the emergency services and we have to work together?" Rose suggested.

"Right. So you're not deny anything?" he asked as Rose tried to escape.

"Have you actually spoken to DI Hardy about it?" Rose wanted to know, glancing across as Steven put his sunglasses on. Olly remained silent. "Then back off Olly, there are more important things to report than if we are or not. If ya wanna know, you'll just have to wait until all this dies down. Now excuse me, I really have to go and I'd think twice about writing anything, if he catches you."

As she got back in the ambulance, Steven never said anything but by the grin on his face, Rose knew he wanted to. He did say something when they got back just before two and they passed a black SUV parked on the road and he'd seen a flicker of a smile on Rose's face as she realised it was Alec.

"So, he hired a car then?" Steven teased her. "Looks like a police vehicle."

"Maybe he just borrowed it for the weekend?" Rose wondered as they got out.

She glanced back to see Alec had got out and was wearing a pair of rather sexy blue sunglasses that she thought he had no business in his condition he should look so sexy in them. Was he trying to set her up for a heart attack or what?

"I can finish up here Rose, you go book off," Steven told her as Alec got closer. "Good afternoon, inspector, I can see you recovered from your little bump the other night?"

"Yes, thanks to the both of you for your prompt attention," Alec replied as Rose disappeared inside.

"Well I was just doing my job but I don't know about your new girlfriend?" Steven laughed as he went to check everything was in order for the next crew.

Alec just raised his eyebrows in agreement, maybe Rose had gone that little bit further with it being him, since he didn't think she made a habit of spending the night at a hospital bedside then the night after have him in her own bed. How had it happened so quickly?

"Hi, did you borrow a car or is it a rental?" Rose greeted him after she got changed and he'd gone back to the car.

"I borrowed it but if you like it, I could see about keeping it maybe? Anyway, I thought we could go pack a bag and drive over into Devon for the rest of the weekend? What do you say love?"

"That you shouldn't be driving?" she teased him as she got in beside him. "So how was your morning?"

"Just peachy love. I may have rattled Joe Miller's cage."

"I thought ya were tryin' to avoid that?" she asked as he turned around, thankful he'd been given an automatic.

"I just asked your friend to bring her son for an interview and thought I could get her husband at the same time? Maybe I will get lucky and there will be some tell-tale signs?"

"Geez Alec, ya'd better be careful about it. We didn't want him to know I'd talked to ya, remember?"

"I know that love," he replied as they neared Rose's apartment, thinking she was wasting her money on taxi cabs but he couldn't be there to pick her up all the time. "Think about it Rose, it's the ideal opportunity, to see his reaction. This way, he won't think you have said anything."

"Well I hope so. Good thing a parking spot came with the apartment, I've got a sticker upstairs, you'd best put it on the dashboard though visitors tend to use it, which I should say something about now. Ya don't wanna come back and have to arrest someone for parking there," she joked.

"I would if they took the space when there was visitor parking," he replied.

Rose believed he would as they went upstairs. Just over an hour later, they were driving into Sidmouth and Rose had been looking up places to stay and had found a little guest house on the seafront.

"I bet ya can see Broadchurch from here?" Rose wondered as he pulled into a driveway.

"Probably love but I thought we could use the time away from the place, yes?"

"Yeah, it was a nice thought Alec, thanks. Shame I couldn't do a booking online though, it was a bit short notice."

"Never mind. Leave everything in the car for now, then when we book in, we can go get a snack maybe? I was thinking of just getting something nice to cook then I had a better idea."

"Well I'm glad ya did, it's been ages since I went anywhere, not counting going home of course but my mum comes down more than I go up there, she uses any excuse to visit. Oh, I've not told her about us properly yet, sorry."

"That's understandable love, I know you are no longer trying to hide me," he smiled as they went inside.

Alec paid for a nice double room facing the sea and went to get their bags while the landlady showed Rose where the room was, since it was a maze and Rose thought the guest house was somehow bigger on the inside. She heard Alec downstairs and called to him where she was as she waited on the corner.

"Did she ask any questions?" Rose asked as he closed the door.

Alec shook his head as he put the bags on the bed.

"No love but had she done, I would have got my police ID out."

Ellie had got home and broken the news to Tom, about needing to answer some questions and she noticed her husband was less keen about it than she was.

"Is that really necessary?" Joe asked her when they left Tom in his room, Fred in his cot having a nap.

"Well my new boss seems to think so. He also wants to re-interview all those without an alibi that night as well. I thought we would have got somewhere by now but it's so slow, waiting for evidence to be processed. Why did whoever killed Danny have to pick such a public place to leave him? There's tons more to go through than there would have been."

Joe went to put his arms round Ellie.

"When you say those without an alibi, I hope that didn't include me?" he grinned.

"Well, I don't know about that," Ellie teased him. "Guess what? Rose and my new boss finally got their acts together and stopped fighting at callouts. He was in this morning, borrowed a car and he's taken her off for the rest of the weekend. This time last week, they couldn't stand being in the same space. I wonder what happened?"

"Well they won't tell us, will they? So who's taking Tom for his interview? You'll have to get someone to watch Fred."

"I can get a WPC to watch him in the other family room but Hardy may not want me there anyway, you'll have to do it. Maybe when all this dies down a bit, we can get Olly in overnight and we can sneak off somewhere?"

"Promises," Joe laughed.

Ellie couldn't see the look on his face as they hugged or that he was thinking Rose, his old work partner, who had witnessed him losing his temper several times, including the supermarket car park was now involved with the lead detective on the case.

Chapter 17
Back from their short weekend break, Alec was preparing what he was going to ask Tom Miller about his friendship with Danny and see just how much Joe Miller interrupted him by answering for his son. Ellie was getting ready for work, Tom making a fuss.

"Tom you were the one who asked me if you would need to be asked any questions," Ellie reminded him over breakfast. "You may get away with just a few, my boss went away for the weekend, he may be in a good mood," she told him, getting half a smile.

"Has he got a girlfriend?" Tom dared ask.

"Yes and you know her, it's Rose though goodness knows what she sees in him and he pinched my job while we were on holiday."

"Well I expect that's because he didn't take her job, did he?" Joe grinned as he tried to feed Fred.

"Easy for you to say, you chose to leave and Rose never tried to take your job," Ellie replied.

"She didn't drive back then Ell, she was just a trainee. I was surprised to see her at the reconstruction, driving the ambulance. I heard her latest partner prefers to drive. She was talking with your boss afterwards but they weren't giving anything away."

"I wonder if the chief knows about them?" Ellie mused.

"Are they keeping it secret?" Tom asked.

"No but with everything going on, they keep meeting up at incidents, it wouldn't look good if everyone knew about them," Ellie replied.

"That's not going to be easy," Joe told her.

"You should have seen them last Monday outside the newsagent's, Hardy saw an ambulance and went to see if it was her," Ellie laughed.

"Sounds like they've got it bad then? So why didn't she come with him the other night?" Joe asked.

"She must have been working and I didn't know then, did I?" Ellie replied. "See you at the station then and don't worry too much Tom, he'll just ask how Danny was before you went on holiday. You didn't sneak off to meet him that night did you?"

"Mum, I was tired, I was going round to see him the next morning," Tom told her. "I wish I'd gone now, Danny might still be here."

"Tom you didn't know what was going to happen," his mother assured him.

"Don't blame yourself," his dad joined in.

Rose had been relieved she was starting at ten again so she'd get finished fairly early. Alec had called in the hotel on their way back and got the rest of this things but told Becca the police were still paying for his room.

"You want me to keep the room when I'm turning guests down?" Becca asked him.

"Sorry but my chief wants me to keep it, I can't give you the reason though," Alec replied.

"Charming. Has she got to know I'm letting the press stay here and she doesn't want them to know you're here?"

Alec saw his chance.

"Something like that. If I get any mail, call the station and I will collect it."

"Fine, I'll just have to do that then?" Becca told him.

Rose had been waiting in the car, hoping Olly wasn't lurking around, it would be just like him to be doing so, even on a Sunday night. She wasn't quite sure why Alec's chief wanted them to keep quiet but if it turned out her suspicions about Joe Miller were right, they would be in the spotlight.

As they were getting ready for work the next morning, Rose asked how long it would take for his chief to consider what she had told about Joe Miller.

"I have no idea love, sorry. No bragging you have a new boyfriend eh?"

"If ya come and pick me up, everyone's gonna know Alec," she reminded him.

"Yes, I'm aware of that. We just have to keep things low-key for now. Don't talk to that reporter about us though."

"I don't anyway except to tell him to get lost," Rose smiled.

"It seems he never listens then?" Alec smiled, going for a kiss.

By Wednesday though, Rose's day off, it was apparent nothing was going to happen immediately so Alec went to see the chief again.

"Nothing is happening," Alec reminded her. "We've been seen together, no-one has said anything and the hotel owner wants to let the room. It's a good thing I did move out, the place is crawling with the press."

"You mean you have not already done so Alec?" the chief smiled. "Very well, I will inform personnel to tell the hotel owner to let the room go and I will cover it by saying you are paying your own costs. Just hope they don't know where your girlfriend lives."

Ellie still wasn't pleased how Alec had interviewed her son, well the tale she got out of her husband when she'd got home.

"Miller, what's going on at the hut?" Alec wanted to know. "Have they finished up there?"

"As far as I know. Do you think they missed something?"

"Did they? Did you hear about that scuffle outside the sea scout hut last night?"

"Joe said something about Nigel was shouting at Jack, something to do with what Olly started and when I see him, he's in trouble. I think someone put him up to it though, it's a bit much even for him. Hang on I've got a copy of the paper somewhere. Oh hi Bob, what do you want?" Ellie turned to ask the sergeant.

"Call from Jack Marshall. His shop's under siege from the press, he's a bit upset."

"Come on Miller, we need to ask him a few questions," Alec told her.

"How much do you bet he's sent for the paramedics?" Ellie grinned as they waited for the lift.

Alec was surprised she'd not added that it would be Rose but it was her day off.

"Is that supposed to mean something Miller?" Alec asked her as they crossed the harbour.

"Well you and Rose, I want to see if you still argue when you're on a call-out."

Alec thought he might have known. When he got home, he told Rose what had happened.

"There's gonna be more trouble then?" Rose asked as she served dinner.

"I think so love though your friend was upset you were not in attendance today. I got the chief to lift the ban of moving in with you, officially though."

"Great, then I won't get as many staring the next time ya call for me then?" Rose smiled. "Anyway, early start tomorrow, I'll get a cab."

"No, I will still take you. Nothing has changed Rose. I will try the appointments service again tomorrow, to see if there have been any cancellations though they said they would tell me if they had."

"Yeah, I know. Shame ya couldn't get the one ya had before."

"That would be Friday love. I'm not ready to leave you yet."

"Don't talk like that, I'm bringing ya home again Alec. Anyway, now it's only about four weeks away, ya said the end of August, right?"

"More like five love. As long as I chase no suspects, I will last until then. We will have to hire another car though, you can't drive the one I have now."

"Yeah, don't remind me. Alec, do ya mind if my mum comes down next weekend?"

That was what Alec had been dreading.

"Does she stay here?" he asked nervously, seeing the smile on her face.

The next morning though as Alec drove her the short distance, he had just left when he got a phone call.

"What are you calling at this time for?" he asked as 'Miller' came up on the screen.

"We're needed at the beach. Someone out early found Jack Marshall."

"I'm on my way. I hope Rose does not get the call, I just dropped her off at work."

"You'd best hope not then?" Ellie replied as she went to find her car keys.

As Steven was checking the ambulance, he saw two of their colleagues come towards them.

"Someone's been found on the beach. They think it's the harbour newsagent," Steven was told. "This is our call, it's too late for you."

"What's going on?" Rose wanted to know.

"Sorry Rose, they just found Jack Marshall on the beach. We have to sit this one out."

Steven noticed how quiet she had gone.

"Think your boyfriend will miss you being there?" Steven asked, trying to get a smile out of her as they were waiting for a call.

"Well he'll just have to argue with someone else," Rose replied. "Just as long as he knows he may not win."

"You mean you let him?" Steven laughed as a call came through. "Sorry Rose, we have to go some place else and your boyfriend is otherwise occupied."

Things were only going to get worse from that point.

Rose attended Jack's funeral with Alec a week later and her mother was arriving on the Saturday morning, knowing her way to Rose's place from the bus station so Alec had chosen to go to his office and stay there until Rose got off at two, having another early morning.

"Alec, I'm not stopping ya being home when my mum arrives. Why don't you pick her up from the bus station?" Rose asked him the night before. "You should have been to the hospital ya know?"

"How will I know her?" Alec panicked.

"Ah, don't worry, she'll find you," Rose teased him, kissing his cheek. "She saw ya on TV."

"Great, all I need now is for her to mistake me for that actor," Alec grumbled. "She knows I live here?"

"Yes, she knows Alec, she's fine on the sofa bed. Just remember to wear ya t-shirt when ya leave the bedroom."

"That's not funny Rose and yes, I am aware I should have been in hospital. What if I don't make it Rose? I put it off to give me time to find Danny's killer."

"Yeah and ya getting nowhere Alec and someone else dies, someone innocent in all this. See your chief again Alec and get Joe in for an interview."

"Rose, I can't justify it. If I get him in, I'll have to get other officer's husbands and boyfriends in."

"Then find someone who saw something that night. Alec, someone had to be around, the paramedics get called out at all times."

"You think one of them saw something?" he asked. Rose shook her head. "You mean someone else, say a dog walker?"

"Now ya gettin' it. You told me that woman was a bit odd when ya got the keys from her."

"Rose, I could find half the people in the town to be odd. I think I can justify asking her some questions and maybe I can find a way to get Joe Miller in? I've had someone finding out who got into that car park argument with him."

"Great. Just don't tell him I told ya about it," Rose replied as she got ready for bed. "So shall I text my mum that you'll meet her at one in the bus station?"

"If you make it worth my while love," he relented as he hung his trousers on the hanger.

"Hey, I saved your ass, remember?" she smiled.

"Yes, you did love. Shame you have no influence over appointments, now I want to bring it forward? Rose, I had a reason to put it back but if I get a cancellation, I promise I will take it but I may not survive a visit from your mother."

"She knows to go easy on ya Alec. She even questioned if ya should be driving so let's see about another car after the weekend, yeah?"

"If you say so love. We should practice being quiet for your mother's visit."

"Excuse me, you make all the noise ya know?"

"Then come and keep me quiet eh?"

Rose was only too willing to oblige without causing him to have another attack. As they lay afterwards, Rose still giggling to herself and Alec wondering why she put up with him when he had very little to offer her, he stroked her cheek as she snuggled into his shoulder.

"I never felt like this before," she admitted.

"You mean giggling all the time?"

"Well that and how you make me all giddy. Don't let my mum walk all over you tomorrow, I did warn her."

"You said already love. I'm sure she will settle in when you come home, I can leave her while I collect you then we can all go down to the harbour and get a late lunch."

"She'll want to go with ya, trust me. Just let her then we can go straight down. She'll want to catch up with Ellie as well while she's here so you should be warned. I'll call her and get her to call round. Has she said anything about you interviewing Tom?"

"She was not happy about it and she will be less happy when I ask her husband to call in. I will have to say we are trying to eliminate as many men as we can. She will just have to accept it and so will he. Hopefully, the other driver will be located soon but we have very little to go on. I put someone onto going back on social media for the last two years or so to see if anyone posted anything about it."

"Yeah, that's a great idea. Did you think of that?" she teased him, knowing he wasn't keen on using it himself.

"What do you think love? If we discover anything, we can ask that person to contact us. People can report the slightest thing if they find it amusing but there's a lot to go through. Watch out for your friend complaining I dragged her husband in but maybe I should wait and ask him about the incident at the same time?"

"Geez Alec, you're asking for trouble with that. So when he brought Tom to see ya, how did he act?"

"It was difficult to tell. Tom did keep looking at him though but I expect all boys would do that."

"So ya got nothing out of him? Well good luck getting Joe in. Shame about Jack though, you should arrest Nigel for inciting a riot."

"Do not tempt me Rose, I would if I were able. I have already had him in over something else but I can't say what that was. Get some sleep love, you have an early start tomorrow."

"Yeah, lucky me. I'm just glad I didn't get called to find Jack."

Alec knew that would have upset her even more and she had said nothing about seeking any help over finding Danny. Things were coming together but there was very little he could talk to her about including Nigel Carter being questioned when he was accused of dumping Danny on the beach but he suspected his estranged mother was just getting back at him.

After dropping Rose the next morning, Alec went to have a bit more rest before facing Rose's mother, whom he'd been warned was a bit of a handful when he'd told Ellie of her arrival. He was surprised Rose's mother hadn't wanted to stay longer but it was just as well he supposed.

Steven was teasing Rose about Alec meeting her mother.

"He'll be fine, he's used to dealing with people," Rose brushed it off.

"If you say so Rose but this is your mother we are talking about. Want to talk about the funeral you went to the other day?"

"No thanks. I just hope there aren't any more before Danny's. I bet Beth's not happy she can't bury him."

"I expect so. Nigel Carter should have known better, then he wonders why no-one likes him?"

Alec was getting ready to drive the short distance to the bus station and hoped Rose's mother would recognise him but Rose had told him her mother had blonde hair and would be watching for him. Jackie had got a lift from Mickey to the coach station and Mickey was surprised when she mentioned Alec was picking her up, since Rose had hurriedly sent her a text she'd found when she woke up.

"Is she serious?" Mickey was asking. "She's taken up with that detective? Aren't there rules about that, she must have to work with him?"

"Well she said his boss knows and they had to keep it quiet but how long is it gonna be before they catch the person? I don't think Beth will be wanting any visitors, I'll just catch up with Ellie while I'm there."

"So this detective, where does he live then?" Mickey asked as he drove into the centre of London.

"Rose said he's already moved in with her, there's something wrong with him and she worried about him being on his own. Trust her, she used to bring every cat on the estate home with her."

Alec had gone into the car park next to the bus station, using his police sign and had gone to locate where the coach from London would arrive, thinking maybe it would have been better had Rose's mother got off at the harbour. It was too late now though, that was where Rose had told him to go as she'd sent a text to him at the same time as her mother so now, there was only five minutes and he was getting nervous.

As the coach pulled in, Jackie was already looking out of the window for the likely candidate Rose had made her boyfriend in a short space of time, considering she used to moan about what a pain he'd been when she'd first met him at a call-out and he'd got her annoyed at every one since. She got up, getting her weekend case from the rack above and hoped she'd be able to find him.

It was Alec who found her looking around as the crowd gathered around, since the coach was carrying on to Exeter.

"Mrs Tyler?" Alec called to her. Jackie looked in his direction. "Rose asked me to meet you, I'm Alec Hardy."

"Of course you are, who else would be meeting me?" she asked him. "Have you got a car then?"

"Ah, this way. Rose finishes in about an hour, she suggested we meet her then go down to the harbour for a late lunch."

Jackie thought he could do with a bit more weight on him, no wonder he was ill. She got in the back seat, not sure about her daughter's boyfriend.

"You can get settled in before we go meet Rose," Alec told her as he got in. "She had an early start today. Did she tell you much about me?"

"A bit. Should you even be driving?" Jackie asked him.

"I take medication that keeps my illness under control. I go for surgery soon, did she tell you?"

"Only that you put it off. Watcha do that for?"

"Mrs Tyler, I have a young boy's killer to find, my surgery can wait but the longer this goes on, the more he is getting away with it."

"Well ya won't catch him if you get ill, will ya? I watch the news ya know, someone else died. Did ya take Rose to the funeral?"

"Yes, she was able to start later. She is still upset about having to attend when her friend's son was found. I'm doing my best to help her get over it, maybe she will talk to you while you are here?" Alec asked her, turning in towards the flats.

"So ya live with her then?" Jackie wanted to know.

"Rose was worried about me being on my own, she shows her caring side towards me, maybe that comes with the job?" Alec replied.

"She was always like that, you have no idea how many stray cats she used to bring home."

Alec smiled at the thought.

They went off to collect Rose, Jackie insisting on getting out to greet her.

"Has Alec been looking after ya?" Rose wanted to know, going to put her arms around him.

"I have been making sure she settled. We should go eat," Alec replied.

"Hey Mum, why don't I call Ellie and get her to meet us in the harbour café? Then ya can both catch up."

Alec thought it was just his luck he couldn't get a day off from his annoying DS.

Ellie was only too pleased, since Tom and Joe had gone to watch some football and was soon greeting Jackie, who remarked how much Fred had grown.

"Those two will be here all day," Rose smiled as they went to order.

"Yes, I can tell. Maybe we can sneak off and collect your mother later?"

Rose nudged him playfully.

"I'll make it up to ya," she whispered.

"I will hold you to that. So, where are we taking her tomorrow?"

"Ah, just find her some posh house and gardens to walk around," Rose smiled.

"Rose, I don't think that is a good idea. It may tire her out but it may finish me off."

"Ah, ya have plenty of time left Alec. Come on then, we'll sit at another table and leave those two alone."

Alec was glad when Monday morning came around and Jackie was getting ready to leave.

"I'll have to come longer next time," Jackie declared.

"Yeah, we can go more places but I can't get any time off yet Mum, I'll have to save it for when Alec goes in hospital. Let's see how it goes?"

"Well I suppose so. So ya getting another car?" Jackie asked.

"Yeah, so I can drive him to the hospital and back. Ya didn't talk to Ellie about him, did ya?"

"Of course not but she'll find out when he goes in," Jackie replied.

"That's why he's waiting Mum, for the next long weekend. No-one will even notice."

"Well Ellie may, she says he can be a bit of a misery."

"So would you if ya had a heart problem Mum," Rose told her. "Come on then, I have to go to work soon and I want to wave ya off."

As Jackie got on the coach, Alec put his arm around Rose.

"That went well," Rose told him as Jackie waved.

"Yes love, if I can survive a visit from your mother, I can survive my operation."

"Yeah? Well keep going on at them to hurry it up then 'cos ya may get some news about that incident and ya can finally get Joe Miller in for an interview."

Alec had a feeling once that happened, Joe Miller would get more suspicious than he probably already was and Rose could be in danger from him, if he was the one who killed Danny. He wanted the man to be interviewed but would rather keep him than let him go because he didn't want the responsibility of putting Rose in danger. He had to be sure Rose was right.

Chapter 18
Reminder – events may not be in the same order as the series!

Alec had been hoping when Rose's mother had said she'd come for longer next time that she hadn't meant it. They had glared at each other a bit he supposed and she had the advantage of knowing his DS so he had no idea what they had talked about as they'd met in the café and the following afternoon they had 'bumped into' Ellie and her younger son.

He just hoped Jackie had said nothing about him being ill or first thing Monday morning, he'd be in the chief's office getting ordered on leave.

"So, do ya need time to recover from my mum's visit?" Rose teased him as he went to take her to work, Alec having made up an excuse to be late for work.

"No love, it's fine, I should get you to work. Hopefully, there may be some news on that car park incident, I had someone working on it."

"Yeah, you already said. If there is, will I need to go back for an interview?"

"Not yet, I'll see where it goes. Don't worry so much, I will try and keep it from your friend."

"I hope so Alec, I'm already worried about it. Still, if no-one remembers it, you can't do anything, can you?"

"Sorry love but unless Joe Miller makes another mistake and loses his temper, there is very little we can do. Wait for me tonight Rose, okay?"

"Yeah, I will. Maybe we'll run into each other?"

"Well your friend hopes so, she wants to see if we still argue," Alec smiled as he pulled up outside the ambulance station. "We should see about another car as well."

"So, how did your boyfriend get on with your mother?" Steven teased her as they got ready.

"I just hope she doesn't tell everyone she had to go easy on him 'cos he's not well," Rose replied.

"You'd better hope not. Right, let's get ready for a busy day then?"

Alec got to work, avoiding his DS and hoping she wouldn't gossip he'd had a visit from his girlfriend's mother, since everyone now seemed to know about them. He called young DC Daniels into his office whom he'd given the task of finding out who Joe Miller had argued with that day since he'd been present at Rose's interview.

"I might have something Sir," Daniels told him, not daring to sit down. "I was in contact with a man who a while back mentioned he'd had another argument over cutting someone off at some traffic lights and complaining he was in the right so I'm waiting for him to send a private message over it. I did what you suggested Sir and told him it was in confidence if he told us what the other incident had been and roughly when."

"Good, keep on it then. Do not tell anyone what you find, understand?" Alec asked him.

"I know Sir. Is Miss Tyler now your girlfriend?"

"Yes but we are trying to keep it low-key under the current circumstances. If this person is the same one she reported about, I need to know the details, to see if it was the person she said she was with that day."

"I know Sir but if we have him in for a statement, won't DS Miller get to know about it?"

"Hopefully not. I got Miss Tyler in without DS Miller's knowledge."

Alec thought he was getting rather good at it too. They'd seen a lot of the locals over the weekend, he was sure his DS would tell Beth Latimer at least, since Rose had told him her mother had wanted to go visit Beth but hadn't thought it was a good idea with him investigating. He was also sure he wouldn't be seeing the last of the reporter either, since at Jack Marshall's funeral, he'd been asking a lot of questions and he must have seen Rose and himself together.

Since the chief hadn't yet called him to go see her, he assumed Jackie had kept quiet over his state of health. He'd made another call but had been told he was still booked in for the date he'd changed it to, now regretting doing so since Rose would keep on mentioning it.

He was getting rather anxious nothing new seemed to be happening over anything and no new details had come in over the weekend, like the town had suddenly forgotten the reconstruction and the death of who had been proved innocent newsagent but he knew forensics were still doing tests and that hadn't put whom he only knew as Brian in a good mood either.

Little did he know that was about to change. Daniels had finally got something out of the man he'd sent the message to and was coming in to make a voluntary statement the following day and Alec had instructed the DC to do it and call him if it proved to have involved Joe Miller.

Rose had got home, Alec saying they had a possible lead over the car park incident but it still could have been with anyone. He'd also got some quotes on hiring a car, not being too happy about it.

"Leave it then Alec," Rose suggested as they ate. "Are ya sure you are okay to keep driving though?"

"Yes, I can drive Rose. I will hand the car back the day before my surgery, we will have to get a cab to the hospital and back. We could see about a car in your name though, you may get a cheaper rate or why not get one on a lease?"

"Have ya seen how much mileage they allow?" Rose laughed. "I'd be lucky if they allowed me to work and back. Let's just leave it for now, yeah?"

"Yes, we can manage for now. Did your mother get home okay?"

"Yeah, I found a message from her. She's keen to come back," she teased him.

Alec hoped Rose was teasing him anyway but after they got to bed, Alec's phone rang just after four in the morning.

"Geez Alec, who's calling ya at this time?" Rose asked him as he tried to reach his phone and grabbing it for him.

"It had better not be another body on the beach," he replied. "Hardy."

"Sir, the coastguard reported there's a boat been set alight just off the harbour."

"Well tell them to bring it in and send a car for me, you have my new address," Alec replied, getting out of bed and knowing Rose would be ogling his rear as she always did as his shorts had a mind of their own and tended to slip down while he slept and he swore that was only since he'd been sleeping with her.

"I have to go love, a boat is on fire and since we know Danny was transported from the hut, it could be the one the killer used. I may not be back, it depends."

"Yeah, I just hope no-one was in the boat when it was set on fire then," Rose replied. "Want me to come with ya?"

"No love, go back to sleep, you have a late start today, remember?"

"Yeah, I wish I could get regular hours. I might stage a protest," she grinned, getting out of bed to get him a clean shirt when he went to the bathroom. "You be careful Alec."

Little did he know that was going to be the least of his problems as he argued with the officer who had collected him that he wanted the boat bringing in, not wanting for the tide to bring it in. What he didn't know was that Olly had colluded with his new friend Karen to do a feature on Beth over her son's death and it hadn't been what Beth had expected. It was Ellie who showed it to him as she wondered what he was doing in his office early.

"Not taking Rose to work?" Ellie grinned at him, putting the newspaper on his desk. "I had no idea Beth was going to do this."

"This is all we need Miller, what the hell was she thinking? Now all the lowlife will crawl out of the woodwork. You heard about the boat that was on fire?" he asked her.

"Yeah, Bob told me but why did they call you out?"

"Check your phone Miller, I was told you didn't answer," he replied, putting his specs on to read the article properly. "This is Sunday news."

"Well they were a day or two late," Ellie replied. "We told her to leave the press to us, I'll call her."

"Call all of them and get the press together for tonight at the school. I don't like this Miller. Let me know if forensics find anything."

His phone rang so Ellie took that as a sign to leave. It was Daniels to say someone had arrived about the car park incident and was about to give a statement but then Ellie went back in to say forensics were examining the boat that had been on fire. Alec thought Rose would go crazy he was taking on so much.

Once at the landing on the harbour, Alec was being shown what had been found on the boat.

"What do you bet this is the boat used to transport Danny?" Alec asked Ellie.

"That cheered you up," Ellie grinned, wanting to say almost as much as his new girlfriend seemed to have done.

"They are panicking now Miller, that's what we want. Find out if any boats have been reported missing, whoever it is may not realise and the killer would not use a boat they owned."

If Rose was right though, the Millers may not own a boat but they would surely know someone who did? They got back to the station and Daniels followed Alec into his office, handing him a report.

"You were right Sir, the man knew who it was but had chosen not to let on, in view of his wife but he knew people were watching and probably forget about it. He doesn't want to get involved further though so I told him it was just to verify the facts. What do you want doing now Sir?"

"Right, leave it with me and don't put in an official report, not yet. I'll let you know about it."

He had seen Ellie go off and wondered what she was up to but soon found out when she let herself in his office.

"I think that boat belonged to Olly's dad," she told him, taking a seat. "Olly went to where it was chained up and it was missing."

"Who knew it was there Miller?" Alec asked her.

"Loads of people, my sister hires it out," Ellie replied.

"Did Danny know it was there?" he asked, getting a funny look from her. "What about Tom?"

"Yes, so did half the town. Where is this going?" she wanted to know. "I've arranged a press conference at half six and I've told Beth and Mark."

"I will have to call Rose, I was supposed to collect her at one to take her to work, she's on a late start today."

"I'm sure she can get a cab," Ellie smiled. "Were you going to sneak off to get her then?"

"No Miller, I was going to take a lunch break and take her, she spends too much on cab fares."

"Then why doesn't she get a car?" Ellie wanted to know.

"To leave it while she goes off?" Alec replied.

"Well you leave the one you borrowed here and get people to drive you around," Ellie reminded him.

Alec shook his head. He sent Rose a message and she replied telling him not to worry when he said he'd collect her at ten. Then he realised it was the first time she'd worked late since the night she had finished at that time and gone back to the hospital to stay with him. That had led him to move in with her and he was glad he'd done so. What had he been doing getting annoyed with her all the time? They had done nothing but argue yet she had done that for him.

He got some more results from the burned-out boat then Ellie drove him to the school, Alec saying it was a waste taking two cars. He saw Olly and took him to one side.

"Where's your new friend then?" Alec asked him.

Olly just shrugged his shoulders as Alec followed him into the gym. The press conference over, they were about to get into Ellie's car when the newspaper editor approached her.

"What was that about Miller?" Alec wanted to know.

"The woman from the caravan park, Maggie thinks the woman used to go under another name."

"What does that have to do with us?" he asked.

Over the next few days, he was going to find out. Things started to add up in Alec's mind, foremost what Rose had told him and the admission from the other driver involved with the fight in the car park a few years ago.

A few weeks went by and the time was now approaching Alec going for his surgery. He'd been back to see the chief about Joe Miller and mentioned he had found the other driver involved but she still insisted it wasn't enough. Rose wanted to know why.

"Wait until after my surgery Rose, then I will go after him," Alec promised her.

"Yeah, I hope so Alec. You're not gonna be able to keep it from Ellie much longer ya know?"

"She is already asking questions. Well, a few more days love, I have a feeling with you there, I may just stand a chance eh?"

"Like when I sat by ya when you collapsed in the hotel?" she smiled at him.

"Shame you can't take me there in the ambulance then?" he teased her. "Do they allow patient transfers?"

"We should have got another car. How are ya gonna explain taking that one back?"

"Ah, well I may just keep it since it may seem suspicious?"

"Well ya not driving there so forget it," she reminded him as they got comfy on the sofa.

"I would not dare," he smiled. "Once I go back Rose, then I will make a move on Joe Miller and say I know he was involved with a car park incident, light a fire under him eh?"

"Maybe we should pay them a visit or why don't we invite them over, say next Wednesday?"

"That's not a good idea love. Let's see eh?"

Rose had booked a few days off, not saying why except to Steven, who had promised not to say anything in front of the part-time paramedic standing in for her. As she was leaving the day before Alec's surgery, he stopped her.

"Wish him good luck from me Rose, I hope it all goes well."

"Thanks, I'm sure it will since he's more confident now than he was a few weeks ago," Rose replied.

"Well he survived a visit from your mother, I guess that counts for something," he joked.

"Well he woke up the last time I was sitting at his bedside."

"What made you go back Rose, I mean that night when all you had done was argue?"

"I don't know Steven, I guess something inside me knew he was only putting on a show and so maybe I was?"

Steven thought that sounded about right, Rose always seemed to put that little bit extra into her work, he'd seen it loads of times including when they were called to see to Danny's foot that time when his sister had said he'd been hopping around and yelling before they had landed. Maybe that was why Rose was so upset when they found him on the beach, it was only a few weeks after the boat incident.

Now she was taking her boyfriend to the hospital and praying she'd be taking him home again. She had not admitted it but he knew they were living together, all the signs were there. He could see Alec waiting for her and wondered if the DI should still be driving.

"See ya on Tuesday then?" Rose called to Steven.

"Yeah, just bring him back Rose or saving him the first time was all for nothing."

"No, it wasn't. He's had all this extra time, with me and back then he had no-one to care for him."

"Well if that doesn't make him determined Rose, nothing will," Steven replied.

Rose got in the car and instead of kissing Alec's cheek, she put her hand on his cheek and turned his head.

"Hey love, I thought we had a no kissing rule outside where we work?" Alec grinned when she had given him a bigger than usual kiss.

"Well, I don't care now. Wanna go out for something to eat?"

"Well if you insist love? We are not treating it as a farewell meal, are we?"

"Alec, don't say that. Let's drive up to that pub by the big roundabout, we don't have to get dressed up to go there," she suggested.

"Whatever you want love? Should everything go well tomorrow, I think I will be having a few words with Joe Miller."

"Finally?" Rose teased him.

"Rose, you know I have been trying?"

"Yeah, I know, sorry. Any reason why ya gonna bring him in?"

"Yes, the chief had her budget cut, all the extra staff will be going over the weekend. That's what happens on a case that goes stale. All I can do is start re-interviewing but I will have to be careful," he replied.

"Well get a few in then? You suspected the vicar at one point," Rose smiled as he concentrated on the roundabout and wished he'd gone another way, since he had to double-back on himself to get to the pub car park.

Alec still half-suspected the vicar after he'd got Daniels to follow the Reverend Coates to Yeovil, not wanting to do it himself or explain to Rose why she had to make her own way home. After a nice meal and Rose opting not to drink since they had an early start the next morning, they got home and Alec wanted to be serious.

"Rose, there are some things you need to know, just in case."

"Ya mean telling your daughter?"

"Well amongst other things. Take this card love, it has my solicitor's details. Let's hope you don't need it eh? I had you put down as my next of kin Rose, for my police benefits but you will have to explain to my chief and apologise, for her not being told. Can you do that?"

Rose looked at him. That was the very least she could do for the man she'd fallen in love with who had told her she was annoying several times.

"Rose, if this is my last night, I want you, properly, no going easy on me."

"Well," Rose smiled, sitting astride him as they had kissed. "If that's how ya wanna go?"

"You know that Rose. I can trust you to get me to hospital if need be."

"Yeah, I think I know what to do. This isn't gonna be the last time though."

"Well I certainly hope not and when I come round tomorrow, I am going to ask you something."

"Yeah? What might that be then?" she teased him by running her finger down to the waistband of his shorts.

"Rose, it would not be fair if I asked you now and I did not make it tomorrow."

"Alec, just ask me. It's not fair leaving it either."

"Well this is not how I wanted to do it but Rose, if I make it tomorrow, I want us to get engaged. Will you marry me?"

Rose flung her arms around his neck.

"Really? Well yeah, I wanna marry you Alec. Shame we don't have time to get a ring?"

"Ah but I have been thinking about it for a while. Would you settle for me giving it to you now? Maybe I should have done it while we were out? I thought of giving it to you tomorrow before they take me for the pacemaker."

"Alec, that's not quite the romantic place, is it?" Rose smiled.

"Neither is you sitting on me in bed love. Let me up eh? If this is going to be my last time to have sex with you, I want to you have the ring and if I don't make it tomorrow, at least you know I would have made an honest woman of you before I went."

"Alec, you're gonna be fine," she tried to assure him, moving to let him get up.

He went to the top drawer and brought out the ring box containing a single diamond set amongst other stones that he'd bought before collecting her one night. He'd been thinking about it and the right time to ask her but this was almost his last chance. Rose held her hand out as he got the ring out of the box.

"It's beautiful Alec, I love it. When ya get out of hospital, I have to tell my mum and maybe set a date?"

"Yes love, we can set a date and I want you to know, I am going there tomorrow with every intention of coming out. Now, are you going to make me very happy now you have said yes?"

"What do ya think?" she teased him as they got back into bed.

"Rose, I got through your mother staying and if I survive tonight, well you are going to be stuck with me."

All Rose could reply as they came together was she hoped so.

Chapter 19
They were up early the next morning, Alec having survived as Rose went easy on him without him actually knowing she was, something she had found amusing that she was getting away with it for now but she suspected he'd say something once he was well again.

Rose was in the bathroom, admiring the ring on her finger, thinking she had been dreaming last night. Alec brought her back to reality as he tapped on the door.

"Come on Rose, the cab will be here soon love."

"Yeah, I know, I'll just be a tick."

"Good thing I beat you to it this morning," he replied, putting his jacket on and leaving his tie in his pocket. "Rose, I'm coming back, you know that?"

Rose opened the door.

"You'd better Alec Hardy 'cos don't think giving me an engagement ring is gonna get ya out of marrying me."

He went to put his arms around her.

"I know that love," he told her, kissing her cheek. "I hope we do not get that cab driver Clive or whatever he likes to be called all the way to the hospital."

"Well we'll just sit in the back and snog all the way there, inbetween looking at my ring."

"I just bet you will love. Don't forget the overnight bag in case you have to stay eh?"

"So ya not gonna make a fuss if they insist ya stay in then?" she wondered.

"Well you are qualified to look after me in a hotel room love," he smiled, letting go.

"Well best hope they agree then? You should have sent the car back yesterday."

"That would be admitting defeat love, don't you think?"

"I suppose so, shame I can't drive it?"

"You may be too upset to drive back love, then what? You would have to call Ellie Miller to come and collect you and the car."

"She'll find out anyway, won't she?" Rose insisted, picking up her bag as Alec got the small holdall with a change of underwear each, some toiletries and two t-shirts.

"Come on love, let's make a move eh?"

They were both relieved it was another driver that had been sent and relaxed in the back seat, just holding hands and Alec still daring the driver to watch them, Rose squeezing his hand. Alec paid the cab fare and Rose looked at the signs for the heart unit. Soon, they were waiting for Alec's name to be called and he had to go get changed, Rose waiting having taken all his personal belongings and turning his phone off.

"If your friend calls, don't tell her anything," he made Rose promise.

"So what excuse did ya make then?" Rose smiled as he was behind the curtain.

"None, did I need one?" he replied, putting his clothes in the blue plastic basket and trying to figure out how to put the hospital gown on though he'd refused to take his shorts off.

"Well won't she call then? If she calls me, what do I tell her?"

"Rose, leave it love eh? Only tell her if the worst happens and get her to come over for you, promise me?"

"Yeah. I promise Alec but this is not going to be the shortest engagement in history, got it?" she asked as he drew the curtain back and got into the bed.

A nurse appeared from nowhere and began setting up the heart monitor, attaching pads to Alec and Rose keeping out of the way.

"Can I go to the theatre with him?" Rose asked the nurse.

"Yes, you can follow him but someone will show you where to wait. I'll be looking after him before and after his procedure. Don't worry, it'll be over in no time and you'll be waiting for him to wake up."

Rose just hoped she was right as Alec had the wires hooked up to him.

"I'll be back in a few minutes," the nurse told them as she turned the machine on.

Rose went to sit beside him.

"Rose, just be here again if I wake up."

"You mean when ya wake up?" Rose corrected him. "So go on then, how did ya explain to Ellie where ya were going or did ya tell her it was me?"

"I told you the budget had been cut?" he asked her. Rose nodded. "Well I said I was going to chase up some leads and I would be out most of the day. I just hoped she believed me but if I don't call her husband and son back in, it will seem suspicious so I have to do so on Monday. It's the reason I need to question him again Rose, I just hope my DC has been able to make something out of that car park incident, I'd told him to leave it for now."

"Well I just wish that was over with Alec, that you can tie that with Joe's temper and him losing it with Danny. Why don't ya let me talk to Ellie?"

"Rose, I can't ask you to do that love, she will tell him. Wait until I speak to him then we will see eh? Now give me a kiss and promise you will call her if things go wrong and call DC Daniels and tell him I said for him to confront Joe Miller. He's guilty Rose, I know he is."

"Yeah, I'll tell him everything I told you Alec but you'll be there to bring Joe in. I love you Alec."

"I love you too sweetheart, remember that. Seems what they gave me is having an effect."

Rose looked at the drip he'd been put on as Alec was closing his eyes but still holding her hand. She gave his an extra squeeze and he just managed one back when the nurse and two orderlies came in.

"We have to take him now, we'll show you where to wait."

Back in Broadchurch, Ellie was staring at Alec's empty office when the chief entered.

"Where's DI Hardy?" Ellie was asked.

"He said he had some leads to follow since we've cut back on staff. I hope that doesn't mean he's going to bring my son and husband in again."

"Well he has to look at everything Ellie, I expect he's had half the town in several times?" the chief replied. "How has he been acting lately?"

"As infuriating as ever," Ellie told her. "If it wasn't for the fact my friend's living with him, I'd just ignore him but if he messes her around, he'll know about it."

"I know about that Ellie, he admitted it but maybe she's doing him some good? He's changed since his arrival."

"Maybe so but he doesn't have to include Tom and Joe in his elimination process," Ellie huffed.

"Ellie, he can't be seen favouring some and not others. I know he's even had the local vicar in so no-one is exempt. If he comes back, tell him I want to speak to him."

Ellie wondered if Rose was working so she sent her a message, asking if she knew what her boyfriend was up to. Rose had turned her phone off, mainly so her mother wouldn't keep asking her questions and so Ellie wouldn't ask what Alec was doing going missing.

Two hours later, Rose had closed her eyes and was leaning her head back against the wall when she heard noises. Two orderlies were bringing a bed out and Rose's own heart was working overtime as she saw Alec with a breathing mask over his face. She got up and the nurse came over.

"Are you Mr Hardy's next of kin?"

Rose looked in horror as the bed containing Alec was taken off.

"Yes, what's wrong? Is he okay?" Rose managed to say, thinking if he'd not made it, he wouldn't have a mask on.

"There were a few complications, the surgeon will explain but we're taking Alec to the ICU to keep a close eye on him. He'd had several recent attacks, so we were told."

"Yeah, I know about one of them, when were the others? I'm a paramedic in Broadchurch, I got him to hospital one night, a few weeks ago."

"Well it seems it was a good thing you did. The other reports were from a place called Sandbrook. Did he tell you about those?"

Rose was anxious to go join Alec.

"No but I knew something had happened before he arrived in Broadchurch, the staff at the hospital said he'd put his surgery off. Can I go to him now?"

"Yes, we're just setting the monitors up, it's just a precaution to see how he goes. We'll know better when he wakes up but you can sit by him, since you're down as his next of kin. You're engaged?"

"Yeah, just. He was worried so he asked me last night, I don't know how long he'd had the ring," Rose managed to smile.

"Well it seems he may not have had anything to worry about then? The surgeon will explain."

Ten minutes later, Rose was sitting by Alec's side again, thinking back to the night she'd probably saved him with help from Steven. Now, there was no way Joe Miller was getting away with his bad temper, even if Alec could only get him on the car park incident but she hoped they'd get him for Danny, if she was right but her instincts were telling her she was and Alec believed her.

Rose was leaning back in a more comfortable chair, trying to hold Alec's hand by avoiding the tubes and she suddenly opened her eyes when she felt his fingers moving. She leaned over to see him opening his eyes.

"Hi, welcome back."

"Rose. You kept your promise. How long have I been out?"

"A good while, must have been the good stuff they gave ya? How do ya feel?"

"Ask me when I stop feeling dizzy, it's worse than before," he replied, deciding moving was a bad idea.

The curtain began moving and another nurse appeared.

"Welcome back Alec, let's see how you're doing then?"

"When can I take him home?" Rose dared ask as the nurse took some readings.

"Do you have a way to go? It's best he just rests here for now, then the cardiologist will say. How do you feel Alec?"

"Dizzy and some pain. Can she take me home?"

"I'm a paramedic, I know how to look after him," Rose spoke up.

"I'll see if the cardiologist is free. Are you staying locally?"

"I can look up a nearby hotel for tonight," Rose replied. "Alec, just rest, yeah? I won't be long."

Rose went to the drinks machine then sat on one of the chairs, accessing the internet on her phone and seeing two messages, one from her mother and one from Ellie but they could wait, she knew what Ellie wanted. She tried a few hotels, looking on the map to see how far they were to justify getting a cab so Alec didn't have to walk too far as she doubted he'd want to be wheeled out. After securing a double room for the night and saying they would arrive as soon as Alec was discharged, she went back to see him propped up and about to be moved.

"We're just taking him to a side ward, he doesn't need to be in here now," the nurse explained as Rose picked everything up.

The specialist went to see him and argued for Alec to stay overnight but Rose assured him she was qualified to take care of Alec and get him back in a hurry if she had to. After getting his discharge papers and some painkillers, Rose took him downstairs and they waited for a cab.

"How are ya feeling?" Rose smiled at him.

"Better than I went in," he replied as Rose had made him sit down on the ledge. "I don't think he was going to let me leave."

"Good job I was convincing then?" she teased him as a cab pulled up. "I'd best call my mum, she'll be worried and I had a message from Ellie."

"I might have known," Alec replied as he went for the front seat, Rose figuring it would be easier for him.

The next morning, Alec assuring Rose he was fine to travel, they made their way back home then Rose went to get a few groceries but had the misfortune to bump into Ellie.

"So where did he disappear to yesterday?" Ellie asked her, wondering why Rose wasn't working.

"No idea Ellie, he doesn't tell me everything. Oh, I never said, we got engaged," Rose replied, holding out the ring.

"Wow, that was quick," Ellie replied, taking a look. "He never said anything."

"Well there was no need was there?" Rose told her.

Rose wondered if Ellie was going to notice the difference in Alec when he went back to work? He'd still seemed tired earlier but that was to be expected and why he'd chosen to have the surgery on a Friday. They had a quiet weekend, when Rose had got back, she'd crawled back into bed and curled up beside her now fiancé and let him sleep as he'd turned towards her and put his arm across her.

Tuesday soon came around, Alec felt much better and showed it on the Monday night, Rose not letting him go too far though he insisted he took the lead now. They were getting ready for work on the Tuesday morning, Rose was starting at midday and Alec was picking her up later.

"I'm going to bring Joe Miller in today love," he told her as they had breakfast.

"You're not gonna let him off then?" Rose smiled as he picked at his scrambled eggs.

"You know I can't now Rose, I know I can see this through now and there are going to be a lot of changes around the station. You might get a few complaints from your friend though."

"I can handle her Alec. Want me to get her to talk?" Rose offered.

"No love, leave it for now eh? She might call later and ask why I dragged him in again though, see if you can get her to say anything."

"Well okay, she might ask me anyway, if it was to do with that day. Do ya think he'll mention he'd dropped me there?"

"I would imagine so love? What other reason would he have had for being there, especially if his wife knew he was late home and he'd used you as an excuse?"

"I wish I'd said something back to him now," Rose said with regret. "I let him think I was going along with it, that I was staying quiet."

"Rose, you are not to feel guilty over it. He chose to tell her that, maybe he thought you were just trying to keep the peace? If he denies anything, I may have to bring up the fact you were in the car at the time but I will try and keep out the part where you saw him arguing. It could get very unpleasant but I will have Daniels with me, who will testify you gave a statement in front of him."

"I won't have to give another statement?" Rose wondered.

"No, we already have it unless the chief wants more details but you should be prepared for more questions love. Try not to worry about it, you knew it was coming."

"Yeah, weeks ago. If that other man had reported it at the time, maybe Danny would still be alive?"

"We don't know for sure love. The most that would have happened would be he got a warning, it may not have changed his attitude."

"No, maybe not then? See ya tonight, unless we meet up somewhere?"

"Rose, your friend is wanting that to happen, trust me."

"Yeah, I just bet she is?" Rose smiled as they cleared up. "Take it easy today, yeah?"

"I'm fine love and maybe you will let me show you tonight?"

"We'll see. Now I have to face everyone at work and they'll ask me how I got engaged when I was off work."

"I'm sure you will be able to tell them?"

Ellie was waiting to see if her boss was going to bother turning up, since he'd not even told his girlfriend what he'd been doing on Friday. She was surprised though when Joe called her to say Hardy wanted him at the station.

"What?" Ellie asked her husband. "What about Fred?"

"I'll have to bring him with me Ell but why now after all this time?"

"I intend finding out. Get the desk sergeant to call me when you arrive, I'll come down and get a WPC to watch him. If Hardy's interviewing you, I want to be there."

Alec heard the last bit and she put her phone away, looking at him.

"You can't be at your husband's interview Miller."

"You were at your girlfriend's – Sir," Ellie objected.

"Rose was a witness as to how Danny was found, nothing more," Alec replied.

"What was she talking to you about before I got there?" Ellie wanted to know.

"That was between Rose and I, you know that. She was worried and she came to me about it, that us working together would cause a problem after we had spoken outside the newsagents. That is completely different from you being present when your husband is being interviewed and if you had not jumped to conclusions, you would have found out why I called him in."

"You called him without saying what it was about?" Ellie asked him.

"I asked him to call in, nothing more. I have some questions for him, about another matter."

"So is it connected to Danny's death?" Ellie asked him.

"It may be Miller, the chief knows about it. I've been getting more information Miller, I may need to ask you some questions later."

"What? What have you got to ask me?"

"To confirm a few things," he replied, thinking he'd save Rose from asking her.

He knew Rose was worried her friend may turn on her and from the mood Miller was in now, he couldn't allow that to happen. An hour later, he was told Joe Miller was downstairs but Ellie was already missing and he hoped she was only looking after her youngest son. Daniels was already in the interview room, Alec passing the informal one and seeing his DS trying to entertain her young son and wondering where her oldest one was.

"So what does Hardy want with me now?" Joe Miller was asking Daniels.

The young DC had been instructed not to say anything, the folder containing all the information he'd gathered on the table in front of him.

"He'll tell you when he arrives Mr Miller."

"Then what's in the folder?" Joe nodded towards it.

Just then, Alec opened the door and Daniels switched on the recording equipment.

"I have some very interesting information about you Joe," Alec began as he sat down.

"What?" Joe asked. "What's this all about?"

"An argument in a car park a few years ago and you running a red light?" Alec reminded him.

"How am I supposed to remember?" Joe argued.

"Then let me remind you. You ran a right light at the same time as a car coming from the opposite direction then sought the driver out and began an argument with him. From the information I have, it took two men to pull you both away. Why did you just not report the incident if you were arguing it was not your fault?"

"Yeah and have my wife come out?" Joe grinned, not taking it seriously.

"Were you afraid your wife would find out you had a temper or you had a habit of running red lights?"

"Have you been talking to Rose?" Joe asked him.

"Where the information came from is immaterial and since I cannot book you for running a red light as there were no traffic cameras, let's concentrate on your argument. The other driver has been contacted Joe, he states you were the one jumping the lights as he turned then you waited for him coming out of the store and you confronted him. He said you just lost your temper."

"How did I know he was going to turn?" Joe asked.

"You argued when you were clearly committing a traffic violation?" Alec wanted to know.

"You have spoken to Rose, what did she tell you?"

"What I have just told you," Alec replied. "Except she went inside the supermarket and thought you were leaving when you had no paper to write a note and place it on the other driver's windscreen," Alec replied, trying to keep Rose's part to a minimum.

"She saw me with the other driver?" Joe asked.

"Let's keep her out of this Joe. She went inside the store, she had no reason to think you would remain after she did. Why did you have your wife believing you had waited for Rose?"

Joe began laughing. "What?"

"I can ask DS Miller about that night when you were late back and you put the blame on your then co-worker."

"Well she never said anything," Joe replied. "Why are you bringing this up now? Did the other driver make a complaint after all this time?"

"It was brought to our attention, we had to investigate. Are you in the habit of easily losing your temper, with maybe friends or relatives?" Alec asked him, Daniels looking at him and wondering what was different about him this morning.

"Do I need a solicitor?" Joe asked, trying to get up.

"I don't know, do you? Why drag your then co-worker into covering up for you?"

"Do you think I wanted to tell Ellie I got into an argument? Rose never said anything about it."

"Maybe she was afraid to, after you scared her by stopping suddenly to avoid hitting the other car?" Alec asked him.

"What did she tell you?" Joe asked, sitting back down again.

"Miss Tyler was interviewed about the incident when it was brought to my attention," was all Alec was going to admit.

"It was her who told you, wasn't it?" Joe asked him.

"We can't tell you that. Who else have you lost your temper with eh? Your wife's nephew maybe?"

Alec knew he had to stop short of asking about Danny, he wanted to save that for now.

"Olly can be a pain when he wants to be, I think at the time he was asking about an accident."

"That was not the only time, was it Joe?" Alec wanted to know. "So does your wife know you have a temper?"

"Leave Ellie out of this Hardy," came the reply.

"I'll take that as a no then? So she believed you when you blamed being late on her friend?"

"Why wouldn't she? Ellie and Rose are good friends though we don't see much of her now, thanks to someone," Joe replied a little too smug for Alec's liking.

"Maybe it reminds her of working with you?" Alec hinted, taking his specs off.

"Is that it?" Joe wanted to know.

"You can go for now, have you given a DNA sample yet?" Alec asked him, knowing so far he'd got out of it.

"Do I have to?" Joe replied as he got up again.

"It will eliminate you from the investigation, with you knowing Danny. Was Danny with Tom a lot, at your house?"

"They were best friends, they lived in each other's house," Joe told him.

Alec was thinking it that was the case, maybe Joe had formed a friendship of his own with Danny and maybe it had all gone wrong that night? Maybe Rose was right about it then?

Chapter 20
This chapter will skip forward slightly and may miss out some events

Joe Miller was allowed to leave, still refusing a DNA sample which made Alec even more suspicious as he thought the man would want to eliminate himself from the investigation and now he knew Joe had something to hide. He had time now, thanks to Rose staying with him and saving him that night, well she had been the one to keep him alive to get him to the hospital anyway.

Rose had got a cab to work, it not being Lucas as he preferred to be called but Steven noticed her ring right away.

"Someone's been busy while they were away," Steven grinned as they got ready.

"Actually, Alec gave me it the night before his surgery. He said if his time was up, he wanted to know I'd marry him."

"Well I guess he knows then?"

She was about to turn her phone on silent when she got a message from Alec that simply said 'He's guilty.' Rose already knew that, there could be no other explanation, it had to have been someone close to Danny and since Alec had told her the boy's father had a very good alibi, who else would Danny feel at ease with to be meeting in a cliff top hut? He would have trusted Joe, just as she had done and now Alec may have admitted she saw him lose his temper that day in the supermarket car park.

Joe had gone into the room Ellie was in with Fred.

"How did it go?" she asked him as Fred wanted to go to him.

"Your boss is a real charmer, asking me all kinds of questions about Danny," Joe replied, trying to miss the main reason out. "He even had the nerve to ask for a DNA sample."

"Did you give one?" Ellie wanted to know as she passed Fred to him.

"Not you as well?" Joe replied.

"He's just running out of suspects I suppose?" Ellie grinned.

Joe was just leaving when Alec caught up with Ellie.

"Did you ask Joe for a DNA sample?" Ellie turned to him.

"Why wouldn't I Miller? We have to eliminate everyone and he was reluctant to do so. I asked him regarding something else though, an incident a few years ago. Come to my office."

Ellie followed him and sat opposite.

"Think back to when Rose worked with your husband Miller."

"What has that got to do with this investigation?" Ellie demanded to know.

"Just answer the question. Joe was late back one night and you rang Rose to ask if she had been late finishing," Alec reminded her.

"That was a few years ago, I don't remember much about it. He wasn't normally late back."

"Then I would have thought it would be easy to recall it?"

"Hang on. I think I remember vaguely, he came in while I was talking to her and said he'd waited for her coming out of the supermarket. You had him in over that? Rose never said any different at the time."

"She could hardly not agree since she worked with him Miller," Alec replied.

"She could have said he was joking. What was so special about it?" Ellie asked.

"Ask your husband Miller, he should be the one to tell you."

"Why would I do that?" Ellie asked him. "If he said he waited for her, I believe him, why wouldn't I? If it wasn't true, why would she have agreed with him?"

Alec pushed the folder across the desk.

"Miller, your husband got into an argument that night, with another driver over running a red light. He dropped Rose and she thought he was leaving and the reason she never said anything at the time was because she did not want to cause any trouble."

"She and Joe got on okay," Ellie replied.

"Maybe so Miller but she was shaken up when he ran the red light as another car was turning right into the supermarket car park. The other driver claims the filter light was green on his side at the time, Joe should have stopped, not put his foot down then slammed the brakes on."

"You've still not said what this has to do with Danny yet," she reminded him.

"Ask him Miller. Have you ever known him to lose his temper?"

"Doesn't everyone?" Ellie replied.

"Just talk to him, I can't say any more at this stage but him not giving a DNA sample willingly raises some questions."

Ellie got up, not looking happy.

"Are you really that stuck for suspects? What's different about you today?"

"Really? Ask your friend Rose. I asked her to marry me the other night – she said yes."

"Then why hasn't she told me?"

"I'm sure she will when she has told her mother."

"Why didn't she say anything that night, if Joe had slammed the brakes on?"

"Maybe she was trying to forget it?" Alec suggested.

Ellie had just left when his phone rang, knowing it wouldn't be Rose just yet. It was the local vicar.

"You caught him smashing his computer up?" Alec repeated what he'd been told.

"Outside the church yard last night. I was deciding what to do with it."

"I will be right there, does he know you were calling me?"

"He threatened to tell his dad I hit him."

"Did he now? Is that true?"

"Do you want this laptop DI Hardy?"

Alec made his way downstairs after getting a car sent round, not sure if he should be driving on his own just yet and the vicar had just made it official business anyway. Why would Tom be smashing his laptop if he didn't have something to hide? Maybe something from Danny he wanted no-one to see or had his dad used it? If whoever had Danny's other phone would just switch it on, he'd have them but they weren't likely to do so unless they wanted to give themselves up.

He collected the laptop and called his friend to get the contents analyzed and if he had to get Tom in again, Joe was going to be very unhappy. Once he had sent it off, trying not to let Ellie see him doing so, he decided he'd ask her to bring the laptop in and see if Tom admitted anything.

He went off to what was now his home and started making something to eat, since Rose got finished at eight then set off to collect her, which Rose had got to like.

"So, how did it go then?" she wanted to know as they ate.

"Well, he would not give a DNA sample and he was very evasive," he replied. "I think I may have something else, I will have to wait and see."

"I know ya can't tell me what that is Alec. You do think he had something to do with Danny's death?"

"Rose, I have always thought that love," he smiled back at her. "Maybe I can prove to you later that I am almost recovered from my surgery?"

"I look forward to it," Rose grinned.

As they got to bed, Rose decided to tease him.

"So, how are ya really feeling?"

"I feel fine Rose, how about I show you eh?"

He did, by taking the lead and Rose told him he was amazing afterwards as he hovered over her as she lay on her front, him kissing her neck and shoulder.

"Alec, why did ya wait so long, to get yourself fixed?" she asked him as they put on some underwear.

"I wanted to bring the killer of that girl in, I let him get away."

"It's not worth it Alec, did everyone else give up then?"

"Tess lost the only evidence one night, betraying me. Well that was when I knew for sure, she was meant to go take the evidence back but she stopped off to meet him instead and her car was broken into. No-one knew it was her, I took the blame."

"No wonder you got ill? Well after you get Danny's killer, try again."

"I may just do that Rose, though getting Tess to re-open the case may prove difficult."

"Well maybe she owes ya for covering for her?"

"You are just too clever love," he replied, placing his hand under her vest top.

Ellie had not been happy when she got home and put her youngest to bed.

"I want the truth Joe, about the evening you dropped Rose at the supermarket."

"What? Not you as well Ellie?" Joe asked, trying not to raise his voice.

"Hardy told me to ask you about it."

"Just because he's now involved with Rose? Come on Ell, that's the only reason, she must have told him about it."

"They got engaged, sometime over the weekend and she never told me," Ellie replied. "So why was he going on about it? Did you wait for her?"

"Of course I did Ell, what else would I have been doing?"

"It's just him, I'd have thought he'd have been in a better mood if Rose agreed to marry him?"

Two days later, it was Rose's day off, her having changed it with being off on Monday.

"Rose, promise me you'll be careful today love? I asked your friend to bring Tom's laptop in today."

"Why should I be careful then?" Rose asked.

"Because he doesn't have it love, he was smashing it on a stone outside the churchyard."

"So Tom also has something to hide?"

"Why else would he smash his laptop?"

"Alec, go easy on Tom, he lost his best friend."

"I know love," Alec replied, putting his arm around her as they cleared up. "Joe Miller said the two boys lived in each other's houses."

"Yeah, Danny was always at Tom's house, I used to see him all the time. Alec, do ya think he went to Joe, if he couldn't go to his dad?"

"That's what I thought love. Well I will get the contents of the hard drive back shortly, I've arranged for Tom to come in at ten, his mother was not pleased."

Rose leaned over to kiss his cheek.

"Yeah, I bet she wasn't."

Alec went off, hoping there was a package for him from his friend back in Sandbrook containing printouts of Tom's emails and the broken laptop. He kept it behind his desk as Ellie tapped on the door.

"Did you bring the laptop?" Alec asked her.

Ellie shook her head. "He said he lost it but he never said anything."

"Do you believe him?"

Ellie sighed and sat opposite.

"No and I don't know why he said that. We searched his room, it's not there."

"Let me know when he arrives."

"I don't like where this is all going. First you ask Joe questions about something totally unrelated now you're more or less accusing Tom of something. Kids lose things all the time."

"Including laptops where he may have been communicating with Danny? What about his mobile phone?"

"What about it, you want that as well?"

"Not yet, I have the contents of Danny's, I know they were messaging each other but until we find the missing phone, those were older messages, nothing recently."

"Has it occurred to you they had nothing much to talk about?" Ellie asked him.

"They are boys Miller, of course they had something to talk about."

Ellie got up and went back to her desk, trying to get hold of her husband.

"Joe, tell Tom this is serious, ask him where his laptop is."

"Come on Ellie, he said he lost it at school, they've been back a few days now."

"Someone is going around with his laptop and you're not bothered?" Ellie wanted to know.

"Okay, I'll call the school when we get back, his teacher wasn't happy when I called to say he'd be late in, I had to say it was about Danny's death."

"Well if you're setting off, call me and I'll come down to look after Fred."

Alec had put his specs on and was reading the emails that had been sent, which gave a good picture of what had been going on so he decided to leave Tom's phone for now, he had the boy on the laptop and its almost destruction. His phone rang and it was his friend Alistair.

"I take it those results are what you wanted Alec?"

"Aye, they are, thanks for that. I have something else to tell you as well. I asked my girlfriend, Rose to marry me. I thought the night before my surgery I wasn't going to make it and I had to know if she'd say yes."

"Did she?" his friend laughed. "Well you survived Alec, what are you going to do about it?"

"Still marry her, Rose is something else. She saved my ass that night, getting me to hospital, I know that."

"Well I'd have thought you would have learned after Tess," his friend replied.

"Rose is nothing like her and we don't work together, well occasionally since she is a paramedic we do but we've had no call-outs at the same time lately. The last incident, it was her day off."

"Well I want an invite to the wedding," his friend laughed.

Alec got a call to say Tom had arrived but he'd noticed Ellie getting up from her desk anyway. Tom was in the informal interview room, a camera having been set up by Daniels earlier.

"Why doesn't he believe I lost it?" Tom was asking his dad, Daniels listening with interest as Alec had asked him to stay until he got there.

Joe was keeping quiet. "He'll tell you when he gets here Tom but you had better not be lying about it."

Daniels noticed the look on the boy's face but said nothing. Alec entered the small room and indicated for the DC to stay.

"So Tom, you lost your laptop eh?"

Tom nodded. "I didn't want to bother my mum with it, she's always at work."

"You could have told me," his dad replied.

Alec went in the drawer, Daniels having called for it after Ellie had left Alec's office earlier.

"Is this your laptop Tom?" Alec asked him.

"Where did you find it?" Tom asked, seeing his handiwork from a few days ago.

"Stop lying to me Tom, Paul Coates saw you smashing it against a stone the other day and you threatened him if he gave it to me."

"What?" Joe asked. "Tom, you threatened the vicar? Why?"

"It had my emails on it from Danny," Tom almost cried.

"These emails?" Alec asked, getting the sheets of paper and putting his specs on.

"Where did you get them from?" Tom asked, rubbing his eyes.

"They were stored on the server. Danny told you he had a new friend, how did that make you feel Tom?"

Tom looked at his dad.

"You said you hated him," Alec reminded the boy. "You also said you wish he would die."

"Oh come on," his dad interrupted. "It's just kids talking."

"I'm talking to your son, not you. Did you want Danny to die?" Alec continued, not liking asking the questions but this had gone on long enough now and they were both hiding something.

"No, Danny said he'd found someone who understood him better than I did, I was mad at him."

Joe suddenly got up.

"If you have anything else to ask him, I want a solicitor."

"Fine, you can go for now. Tom, you should not have kept quiet about this, it's only about how Danny died."

As they left, Alec was getting a clearer picture. Danny had found someone who understood him better and he bet anything that someone was older and his friend's dad, Joe Miller. He dialled Rose's number and hoped she wasn't out anywhere on her own but she was safe until Joe Miller got home at least.

"Want to meet for lunch sweetheart?" he asked when she answered.

"How did it go then?" Rose asked back.

"I will tell you later love, just don't be anywhere on your own but you should be safe enough during the day, he won't make a fuss if his youngest son is with him. I think I just lit that fire under him though, he suddenly got very defensive."

He got back to his office and Ellie came storming in, everyone looking up.

"What the hell was that just about?" Ellie asked him, forgetting he was her boss.

"Sit down Miller. Tom lied to you and his dad and to me. Did your husband tell you?"

"Yes, he did and he's considering contacting a solicitor, I tried to talk him out of it," Ellie replied, trying to calm down.

"Miller, he should have told you, about how Danny was feeling, maybe he wasn't lying about it but he was withholding it. If we'd known weeks ago, we would have had a better idea how Danny was acting the days leading up to his death. Miller, I think whoever he was meeting that night was the person Tom said Danny had made friends with. Can you think of anyone?" he asked, hoping to get her thinking about what he'd said before about her husband's temper.

"You should be asking his parents, not me. Are you accusing Tom of knowing who it was?"

"No Miller. I have copies of his emails, there was no mention of any names. Danny had only two contacts, one was Tom and one we are trying to identify. When we find the missing phone, you can bet it will be the same two contacts. Maybe Danny knew someone older or made friends with someone older if he couldn't talk to his dad."

"I still don't get why you asked Joe about what happened the night he took Rose to the supermarket. He told me he just waited for her in case she'd got a shock with him slamming the brakes on, though she should have been used to it in the ambulance."

"Yes but in the ambulance, the lights and siren would have been activated and cars would not have attempted to turn at the same time," Alec replied. "So why did he not just admit he ran a red light?"

"Oh come on Sir, drivers do it all the time, it's not just him."

Alec wondered what exactly her husband's version of the events had been? He didn't think he'd get any answers judging by the look on Ellie's face. He went to meet Rose and told her roughly what had been said and she agreed Joe could be the one Danny had replaced Tom with.

"Yeah, it makes sense Alec, I doubt it was anyone his own age, it would have been someone older who he thought he could trust. Kids don't realise, they're too trusting with people they know."

"Maybe at one time, kids could trust someone older, it's the way the world is today, sadly," Alec replied. "I am older than you yet you trusted me."

"Alec, that's completely different, Danny was only twelve."

"Sorry. I talked to my friend this morning, told him we were getting married. How did your mother take the news?"

"She wanted to know why it took me until this morning to tell her," Rose smiled. "I told her I was only just getting used to it. She wants to come down again, do ya mind?"

"No love, she can come down but how long before we set a date eh?"

"How about the end of this month? Is that too soon?"

"No love, it's not soon enough," he replied, taking her hand and twisting the delicate ring on her finger. "Rose, that was not how I wanted to propose to you, you know that?"

"I know Alec, it doesn't really matter to me. We could go out tonight and ya could ask me again though?" she teased him.

"Would you change your mind?" he asked.

"What do ya think?" she teased him again. "Want me to find somewhere to go?"

"Ah, you have an early start tomorrow love, best not eh? How about Saturday night instead? We could have another overnight stay somewhere?"

"Yeah, okay then? Alec, what are ya gonna do now, about Tom?"

"I have a feeling his dad will take matters into his own hands, he knows I am onto something about another friend, just you wait and see?"

Chapter 21
Alec was going to drop Rose outside the ambulance station the next morning but Rose said she'd get a cab when he got a message he was needed somewhere else.

"You be very careful love, Joe Miller will not be very happy today."

"Yeah, I know Alec, I'll be careful and I'll be with Steven all day. Do ya think it might prompt Joe into doing something drastic?"

"Maybe? You should be safe enough for now, he won't know what time you are starting. You are on an odd shift today though."

"Yeah, it happens sometimes, we get an overlapping shift. It's so there's still cover with crews going off duty. You get off then, I'll get a cab but I'll see ya tonight, if we don't meet up somewhere."

"You wish love," Alec joked, going to kiss her cheek.

"Now we have something to tell people when they ask how we met."

"There is not much to tell love, it's not very exciting, meeting at a traffic accident."

"Yeah but ya might have still carried on getting mad with me every time there was an incident. I'm glad we didn't get the one to attend Jack though."

"It cannot have been pleasant for the crew who did attend either," he reminded her. "I have to go."

"Yeah, I know. See ya later."

Rose called for a cab and was unlucky to get Lucas but she kept looking at her ring as he watched through the mirror.

"That an engagement ring then?" he asked her on the way.

"Well yeah, that's why I'm wearing it on that finger," she replied, not in the mood for him.

"Well you could have just chosen to wear it there? So, is it the detective?"

"Yeah, who else would it be?"

Lucas though had a bad habit of dropping her on the corner instead of driving into the car park and Rose was going to regret it as she got out and she recognised Ellie's car.

"Hello Rose, I've been waiting for you," Joe told her as he got out, leaving Fred in the car.

"What do ya want Joe, I'll be late for work."

"You sent your boyfriend after me, about that stupid car park fight."

"Go away Joe, I'm not talking to you, I have to give a statement now, thanks for that and no, I didn't put him onto it, the other driver did."

"He had to know who to look for Rose, now Ellie knows I lost my temper that night, she's not happy."

"You only have yourself to blame for that," Rose replied, trying to get past him. "I have to go to work."

"Come on Rose, you always get there early, you can't fool me with that excuse. So where's your boyfriend? Trying to get more on me is he?"

"You're paranoid Joe, let me past. What do ya want?"

"I want to hear it from you, did you see anything that night?"

"Like I'd tell ya if I had? I can't talk about it until I give my statement Joe, ya know that. You've been married to Ellie long enough. Do I have to call the police station?"

"You'll only call your boyfriend or should I say fiancé? Did he ask you already what happened that night?"

"I can't tell ya but you made me lie to Ellie for ya, using me as an excuse for being late."

"You agreed with me," Joe reminded her.

"I had no choice, Ellie's my friend. I'm not discussing this with you, go see to Fred."

Suddenly, as Rose thought he was going to give up he turned on her and backed her against a hedge. They were just out of view of the car park where everyone would be checking ambulances or getting in their cars and Rose was surprised no-one had passed them. She wasn't going to let Joe forget.

"Let me go, you know cars will be going in and out soon."

"No-one will take any notice. You are going to tell your boyfriend nothing, do you understand? I dropped you off, you went in the supermarket. Hold on. You did see the fight, didn't you? I saw a crowd, you had to be amongst them. That's why Hardy's suddenly interested in it. You are going to tell him you made a mistake about it being me or I might have to remind you of my temper," he told her, trying to grab her arm but Rose shrugged him off.

"You've really done it now Joe. Yeah, I know ya have a temper, even with Olly. Did ya lose it with Danny?"

"What are you talking about?" Joe asked her, trying again but she evaded him, getting past him and ready to run. "Come back here," he called as she backed away slowly.

"Huh, think I'm that stupid? Bet ya anything you lost your temper with Danny that night he was killed."

She could accuse him even if Alec couldn't.

He suddenly made another move, until he heard Fred through the open window call for him then Rose took the chance and turned away, running around the corner and seeing Steven coming out of the office.

"Rose, where were you, I was just going to call. You'd better be quick or had you forgotten what time we start?" he asked, pointing to his watch. "What's wrong with you, spent too long in bed with your boyfriend?" Then he saw the look on her face. "Rose, is something wrong?"

Rose shook her head and tried to get past him but he stopped her.

"You, Rose Tyler, are hiding something and you are always early. If you don't tell me, I will call the police station and ask your boyfriend. Did you have a lover's tiff?"

He saw she didn't find it amusing.

"Well say something?" he added.

"Joe Miller was waiting when I got out of the cab. Lucas always drops me on the corner, stupid idiot and Joe must have been waiting and got lucky. How the hell did he know what time I'd be working? Someone must have told him."

"His wife?" Steven suggested as they walked towards the building.

"How could she know? Oh, hang on, she started early, Alec got a call to join her I think. So Ellie called Alec and Joe somehow figured I was working and would get a cab?"

"Hold on Rose, what did he say to you?"

"To forget what I saw that evening."

"What? That was a threat Rose, call your boyfriend or I will. Go get changed, we have plenty of time since we're on the fill-in shift. Give me his number, I'll call him."

"No, leave it Steven, forget it."

"No way, your boyfriend would go crazy. I'm off to see the supervisor, you were just threatened Rose."

Try as she might, Steven wouldn't hear of leaving it and dragged her into the office. He quickly explained Rose was engaged to Alec and that Joe Miller used Rose a few years ago to cover up his argument with another driver.

"Rose, you should call DI Hardy, he needs to know this. We can manage for now. If you don't, Joe could go after you again but why now?" the supervisor wanted to know.

"Alec had Joe in for questioning, the other driver came forward," Rose tried to explain without bringing Danny's death into it.

"Give me his number Rose or do I call the police station?" the supervisor asked her.

Rose had to relent and reeled Alec's work number off.

"He was busy with something though, he had to go off. That's why I got a cab and it's Lucas's fault, he always drops me around the corner."

"Then Joe must have remembered?" Steven suggested as the supervisor waited for Alec to answer his mobile.

Alec wasn't in a very good mood for a few reasons, one being Rose had to get a cab to work, he'd been trying to stop her doing that when he was at home. So when his work phone rang with an 'Unknown number' he was even more unhappy.

"Hardy," he just answered out of habit because Rose wouldn't call him as she'd only just gone to work and she would text him anyway, since she knew he was going out early.

"DI Hardy? This is the shift supervisor at the ambulance station. Your girlfriend, Rose Tyler, she had a bit of a run-in with Joe Miller and apparently, she is right to be worried about it."

"What?" Alec asked, wondering why she'd not called herself but then thought it may have upset her. "Is she still there?"

"Yes. She's a bit shaken but otherwise okay. Can you come round, it appears Joe Miller was waiting for her arrival. Rose has told me a bit but insists she can't say any more at this stage."

"Yes, it's an ongoing investigation. I'll be there as soon as I can but if she gets called out, I will catch up with her and under no circumstances is Joe Miller to be let on your premises," Alec ordered.

"Mr Miller no longer works here, he won't be let onto the premises and I'll try to keep Rose here until you arrive unless there's a real emergency. I know you can't tell me any more than Rose can but you have our full co-operation. I remember Joe had a bit of a temper when he worked with us but this is the first time he's threatened anyone, especially Rose herself. Can she tell me why he would suddenly turn on her?" the supervisor asked.

"All I can say is Mr Miller was helping with our enquiries over a matter and now he seems to believe Rose put us onto him," Alec replied.

"I see then? Just get here as soon as you can DI Hardy, I'd rather not have Rose and her partner hanging around for too long, I'll try not to send them out but it may become unavoidable."

"Yes, fine. Just don't leave Rose on her own," Alec requested, trying not to let on to Ellie what it was about, now she was paying attention.

"What was all that about?" Ellie wanted to know as they walked to their cars at the end of the caravan site as Alec had insisted. "That was a waste of a visit."

"Yes, who sent us?" Alec reminded her. "I was trying to cut down on Rose using cabs before and after I start work. Now she's had a bit of trouble."

"Is she okay?" Ellie wanted to know.

"She is fine for now, it's part of an investigation I am looking into. I can't tell you any more Miller."

"Of course you can't," Ellie muttered under her breath as they reached the cars, Alec having gone straight there.
"I'm going up to the ambulance station to see what's going on," Alec told her as he unlocked his car and seeing Ellie's didn't have a remote control for hers.

"Sir, we have follow-ups to do," Ellie tried to remind him.

"Then get one of the other DS's to help you Miller, this is important," Alec replied, getting in his car.

"Just because it's your girlfriend calling," Ellie quipped, since she'd only heard part of the conversation.

"It was her supervisor and the problem is preventing her going out. Miller, was your husband at home when you left?"

"What?" asked a slightly stunned Ellie.

"Answer the question Miller because ten minutes ago, he was outside the ambulance station talking to Rose."

"Why would he be doing that?" Ellie wanted to know.

"That is what I intend finding out Miller. How does your son Tom get to school?"

"He goes with his friends. Why would Joe be going to see Rose?"

"I can't say, except it's to do with what we discussed before, about the car park incident."

"Did Rose see him that night?" Ellie asked, talking to him through his car's open window.

"You know I can't tell you that. Did you speak to your husband about it?" he asked her, starting the car engine to indicate he wanted to leave.

"He didn't say much but if someone cut him off, then he would have been mad at them but why now? Don't tell me, you can't say."

Ellie watched him reverse the car and drive off. Why was all this coming up now after almost three years or so and why would Joe go to see Rose? She had believed Joe when he'd said it was nothing and they had even laughed that Olly got him annoyed sometimes but Joe hadn't entirely told her everything.

Rose had got changed and they were doing their usual checks, getting looks from the other crews as they had been left until last and Rose hoping they wouldn't be asked any questions, since they were supposed to be the odd ones out today.

"Relax a little Rose," Steven advised her as he got coffee from the machine for her. "Can you tell me what Joe said?"

Rose shook her head.

"I'd best tell Alec first though he shouldn't be asking me questions. He'll probably call for his DC to meet him here but I hope I don't have to go to the station."

"You'd better hope not Rose," Steven tried to joke.

Alec drove into the car park and decided he qualified to park in the 'Official vehicles' only parking space that was empty but put his police sign on the dashboard just in case. He found the office entrance then the supervisor as Rose and Steven were in the break room and Rose knowing they would be very popular for keeping back.

"You must be DI Hardy?" the supervisor got up, taking his headset off. "I'll call Rose, Steven took her to the break room. Can you tell me why Joe Miller would go after her?"

"Not at present until I get her statement. My DC will be arriving shortly, where is the break room?"

The supervisor pointed down the corridor to a door at the end. Alec went towards it and on opening it, saw Rose leaning on the table. She soon looked up when the door opened and despite Steven being there, scraped her chair back and got up, putting her arms around Alec.

"Rose, are you okay?" Alec wanted to know before anything else. "Joe Miller just made a very big mistake," he told Steven as Rose leaned into his shoulder.

"I gathered that. I'll be in the locker room if you need me but if any crews come back, I'll try and keep them from coming in here."

"Thank you. Rose, sit down love and wait for Daniels to arrive, I can't take your statement and you can't tell me anything other than what happened before you saw Joe Miller."

"It was Lucas who was the driver this morning. He never drives into the car park, he always drops me on the corner and before I realised, Joe was getting out of Ellie's car."

"Rose, calm down love. Maybe he just guessed what time you started, unless he got the information from someone here but I doubt the supervisor would tell him. I think though his wife gave him a clue, since she had to call me early and he got very lucky. Why now though, apart from me interviewing him, what has he got to hide?"

"That he lost his temper with Danny? Sorry Alec but I said something to him about it, when he cornered me."

"Rose, you should be more careful love, you can't go up against him on your own."

"Alec, you can't ask him, someone had to ask him if he lost his temper with Danny."

"What did I say to you before you left eh?" he tried to joke.

"Well I didn't know the idiot taxi driver would drop me by Joe's car, did I? If it had been anyone else, they always come into the car park but not Lucas, he's a law unto himself. I should complain about him."

"You and everyone else love, then some notice may be taken? Let me see where Daniels has got to but you may still have to pay a visit to the station, when the chief gets to know. I still have to tell her how Miller's interview went yesterday but I guess that was what he wanted to confront you about?"

"You could say that? Alec, I'm a bit creeped out by it, he even had young Fred in the baby seat."

"Who does that sort of thing?" Alec wondered out loud, just holding onto her until Daniels arrived because as much as he wanted her to, she couldn't tell him what Joe Miller had said to her.

Daniels arrived and was shown to the break room, gently coughing so as to alert Rose and Alec of his presence.

"Sorry Sir, I got held up by DS Miller, she wanted to know where I was going in such a hurry."

"I hope you did not tell her where you were going?" Alec asked him, getting a scowl from Rose.

"No Sir, I just said I was doing something for you. So what happened Miss Tyler?" Daniels asked her.

"Tell him what happened Rose, then you can go back to work but when you finish, you may have to attend a formal interview, if this has any bearing on the death of Danny Latimer and the incident in the car park a few years ago you reported. According to DS Miller, her husband denies anything untoward took place that night."

"I know what I saw and so did the other driver," Rose replied.

"Well the other driver remembered the incident but did not know the name of the person he argued with. I will have to make it formal and ask him to identify the person in a line-up."

"Great, that will make him go after me even more."

"Rose, don't say that. If the man identifies Joe Miller, we can hold him on causing a public disturbance and possibly a traffic violation but there were no cameras there at the time. We can give a press release asking for anyone who saw what happened that evening to come forward."

Rose shook her head.

"Ellie will never speak to me again."

"Rose, you knew this was coming," Alec reminded her. "Now just tell Daniels what happened when you arrived at work."

Rose recalled what had gone on between her and Joe Miller, not that she had said much apart from asking if he'd lost his temper with Danny but she knew Alec would want her to leave that bit out. Joe was hardly likely to bring that up.

"So he warned you not to say anything?" Daniels wanted to know.

Rose nodded. "His youngest son was calling him so when Joe turned, I ran off. I was hoping someone would be going in or out of the car park and would see up but he scared me. I thought he was going to loose his temper with me, he hinted if I wanted to see him lose it."

"Did he now?" Alec interrupted.

Daniels gave him a look to say this was his interview.

"Is that all Miss Tyler?" Daniels finally asked.

Alec hoped it was, he was now even more concerned for his now fiancée.

Rose just nodded.

"Can I get to work now?"

"Yes, if you will just call at the station to sign your statement, you can do it tomorrow if you wish?"

"Yeah, I'll have a late start," Rose replied.

"Daniels, tell DS Miller nothing of what happened, let's see if Joe Miller tells her himself. Hopefully, she won't be working tomorrow. I will see you back at the station," Alec told him.

"Sir, I have to remind you not to talk about what happened until Miss Tyler signs her statement. Miss Tyler, do you want to file harassment charges against Mr Miller?" Daniels asked her.

"Can I let you know tomorrow?"

Daniels looked across at Alec.

"Yes, just tell the desk sergeant to call me and I'll come down," Daniels replied, thinking Alec shouldn't be saying anything.

"Sir, may I have a word?"

Alec nodded and stepped away from Rose.

"Sir, this is getting serious if Joe Miller is threatening her. Do you want me to pick him up?"

"Oh yes Daniels, I most certainly do want him picking up. He threatened my girlfriend but aside from that, he is asking her to cover up the fact he caused a disturbance in a public place. Now I have him on something positive. Miss Tyler did say something to him but it need not go in her statement but if he brings it up, you tell him it was not relevant to him starting to threaten her, understand?"

"Yes Sir, understood. Was it to do with Mr Miller's temper?"

"I can't say, she never told me, are you with me?"

Daniels nodded and put his notebook away. Once he'd left, Rose handed Alec some tea from the machine and got herself a fresh coffee and Alec took her other hand.

"Rose, I'm sorry, I should have insisted I still dropped you off this morning," he told her.

"I know Alec, it's okay, it's that stupid taxi driver. I'll have to insist next time he drives into the car park. Alec, what happens now?"

Alec took her drink and put it down alongside his.

"Now, I can get the truth out of him. I know you should have not said anything about him losing his temper with Danny but now, I can ask him that question. I have him Rose, I know I have."

Chapter 22
Joe Miller was not happy when Daniels knocked on his door, not long after he'd got back from giving Rose a warning about not telling her boyfriend about him and his temper. Fred was still in the car seat he'd taken out when he'd got back.

"What do you want now?" Joe asked Daniels. "My youngest is asleep, don't wake him up."

"Does he always sleep in the car seat Mr Miller?" Daniels asked him, seeing the boy in the hallway.

"I had to go out," Joe tried to bluff. "My wife won't be happy you keep harassing me, you and Hardy. So why are you here?"

"I have to ask you to come and answer a few questions at the station, do you want to call someone to watch your son for you?" Daniels wanted to know, thinking Joe's wife would ask all sorts of questions herself, like why her husband was being interviewed again.

"If you want to interview me, you'll have to wait until I call my solicitor, I've answered all Hardy's questions before, what can he possibly bring up about an old incident now?"

"This is nothing to do with the car incident, it's to do with your old colleague Rose Tyler. You were threatening her a while ago, DI Hardy wants to know why. Do I have to get a warrant for your arrest – Sir?"

"What are you talking about?" Joe asked him. "Get a warrant then but until you do, I'm getting some legal advice," Joe replied defiantly.

"Fine, I'll be back with uniformed officers then? What have you got to hide that you can't answer his questions when you threatened Miss Tyler?"

"Who said I threatened her? She called him, didn't she and made it up?"

"Her supervisor called DI Hardy, she was upset after you stopped her going to work. There's no point in denying it, we know you were outside her place of work, I'm sure the taxi driver who dropped her off will identify your car was there?"

"Are you going to leave?" Joe asked him as Fred was waking up.

"Fine, I'll be back then?" Daniels conceded, knowing his boss wouldn't be happy but why would Rose make something like that up?

He went off thinking Hardy was right, the man did have a lot to answer for and he was behaving very oddly. It seemed Joe Miller didn't want his wife to know he'd been warning his old work partner off but what was Hardy trying to prove?

Rose had gone out finally and Alec had gone back to the station, getting a look from his DS. It wasn't long though before she got a call.

"What?" she asked, raising her voice slightly.

"Calm down Ellie, it's nothing, Hardy can't find anyone else to pick on," Joe tried to bluff. "The detective who called round said he'd get a warrant but I can't see Hardy going that far."

"What does he want this time?" Ellie wanted to know, trying to turn to Alec's office.

"Nothing, just like the last time," Joe replied. "Would he go that far?"

"It wouldn't surprise me. Come down and I'll get him to drop it but what's it about?" Ellie wanted to know.

"Your friend, who else since she took up with your boss?"

"Why, what happened?" Ellie asked him.

"Nothing Ell, just tell him I'll be down later, you'll have to take Fred again, your chief will be getting tired of it."

Alec had been furious when Daniels had called to say Joe refused to answer any more questions.

"So are you getting a warrant Sir?" Daniels asked him.

"Let's give him a couple of hours to come in first. Did he deny he was there?" Alec wanted to know.

"More or less Sir and his youngest was asleep in the car seat so he'd been out somewhere."

"So why was he so bothered?" Alec asked his DC. "Right, give him until this afternoon, if not, I'll see the chief because this is all related to the car park incident, him trying to get her to be quiet about it. The next time, he may lose his temper with her and I am not going to allow that to happen. If the chief won't got for it, I'll get Rose to press charges though she will not like to do so."

"Yes Sir, I'm sure she won't. Sir, can you tell me why this is related to the Latimer case?"

"When you get back Daniels and it goes no further, understand?"

Alec had just ended the call when Ellie knocked on the door.

"Sir, I just had my husband on the phone again. What do you need him for now?"

"Miller, you should talk to him about it," was all Alec would say.

"He said he doesn't know why you keep asking him to come down and I know you got him here and tried to stop me finding out. What was all that for?"

"Did he not tell you Miller? The driver he argued with in the car park that time came forward. Now I have to ask your husband to attend a line-up as it seems he started it and the other driver maintains he was in the right and Joe just blew up when he approached the other man in the car park."

"Well he would say that. You want him to pick Joe out as the one he argued with? How can you be so sure?"

"I have Rose's statement and if the other driver picks him out, I can put out an appeal for more witnesses," Alec replied. "He is already denying it but if it was not him, why was he trying to get Rose to say she made a mistake?"

"What?" Ellie asked him. "When was that?"

"Not long ago, that's where I went Miller, he was waiting for her at work."

"Joe wouldn't do that, he was looking after Fred," Ellie insisted.

"Don't cover for him Miller, Daniels called round, your youngest was in his car seat."

"Why would he take Fred to meet Rose? How did he even know what time she was starting work?"

"Maybe because you called me to meet you at the caravan site down the coast?" Alec suggested.

"What would he want to meet her for?"

"To warn her to back off Miller, Rose witnessed his argument in the car park. Sorry but I have to get him identified by someone else but even going on what Rose said, I have enough to question him."

"You're just taking your girlfriend's side – Sir. Joe told me it was nothing in the car park, she's making something out of nothing," Ellie insisted. "He may had talked to the man but lost his temper?"

"Miller, that's two people who witnessed something going on and the other driver said the lights were on green for turning right on his side. He may do it in the ambulance but not in his car, he was in violation."

"Come on, we've all done it the odd time or two," she insisted.

"Maybe so Miller but not everyone starts an argument over it. I am still bringing him in, I advise you to get him to make it voluntary."

"He's already said he'd come down but I want it known I protest. What does the chief have to say about it?"

"She knows about the car park incident, Rose gave a statement when she had some concerns over it."

"Why would she have any concerns?" Ellie wanted to know.

"I can't discuss it with you, it concerns your husband. If you want to help him Miller, get him to admit it."

"Admit what exactly?" Ellie asked him.

"That he started the argument and warned Rose."

"I can't see how he'd warn Rose," Ellie refused to believe.

"You're too close to it, that's why," Alec replied.

"You can talk – Sir," Ellie objected.

"Miller, there's a difference. Rose didn't start the argument and now, she's a victim," Alec told her. "Are you saying she was making it up, about Joe warning her off? If so, think again Miller. Ask her partner if you don't believe it."

Ellie got up to leave. "He'll be here shortly but neither of us are happy about it."

"Neither is Rose, being confronted outside her place of work," Alec reminded her. "This is getting us nowhere Miller. Yes, Rose had some concerns, she came to me about them. She never said but maybe she's relieved to finally tell what she saw, maybe it has been bothering her all this time?"

"She should have mentioned it to me," Ellie replied.

"That was one of her concerns Miller. She did not know how you would react to being told your husband lost his temper easily. By the way, did I mention afterwards when your husband told you he waited for Rose coming out of the supermarket?"

"You may have done but why did she agree with him?" Ellie wanted to know.

"Think about it Miller, Rose had to work with him at the time, she was trying to keep the peace. Find out if he's on his way, let's get this over with."

"There's something different about you and it's not just Rose," Ellie told him as she was about to move.

"Oh yes Miller, though Rose is partly responsible but now, no-one and I mean no-one is above suspicion. I will be going to see the chief shortly and if your husband does not show up, I'll get a warrant and have him brought here, he refused to come in when Daniels called for him. If he does not give me some satisfactory answers as to why he was bothering Rose, I will place him under arrest. So, I suggest you get him to co-operate and maybe have a solicitor ready."

"That's going a bit far – Sir," Ellie objected.

"Is it? There's even more to come Miller so you had better be prepared and I will have other officers' husbands and boyfriends in for questioning, since they have escaped so far. I want to eliminate them from our enquiries and if they have any sense, they won't disagree like your husband seems to be doing."

"That's not fair, why Joe?" Ellie wanted to know.

"He worked with Rose, she was scared to say anything at the time. Work it out Miller, she agreed to go along with what he said and she told me she did not want to upset you at the time, if I remember correctly, he had just told her you were expecting or she was about to find out, she never really said but she must have assumed that was the news he told her you wanted to tell her."

"Yes, it was, I'd just found out but after that, Rose stopped calling round as much until Fred was born. She's his god-mother but why wouldn't she tell me?"

"Were you aware your husband had a temper?" Alec reminded her, raising his eyebrows that he knew sent Rose mad.

"I refuse to answer that, what man doesn't have a temper?"

"Well I don't, not a violent one that I would seek revenge on another driver when the incident was just as much my fault," he replied.

They were interrupted by his desk phone ringing and Ellie's mobile buzzing.

"Seems your husband has arrived," Alec told her as he acknowledge the caller.

"I just got a message, I have to watch Fred. See, you don't need to arrest him to get him here," Ellie told him.

"He still has to answer my questions yet Miller. By the way, any news on the missing phone of Danny's?" he asked, wondering if Joe Miller was in possession of it. "If you find a phone in your house that cannot be accounted for, I expect it to be handed in."

"What? Are you going out of your way today – Sir?" Ellie questioned him.

"Nothing of the sort Miller. Your son or your husband could have found it and not known whose it was. I will be asking everyone whom we've interviewed so far and those who I will be sending for. Go see to your youngest."

Alec picked up his desk phone, even though Daniels was just across the office and told him to take Joe Miller to the interview room.

"Sir, what if he asks for a solicitor?"

"Then make sure he has one, I have plenty of questions for him, starting with why he threatened my girlfriend this morning. Are you sure the baby was sat in a car seat when you called at Mr Miller's house earlier?"

"Yes Sir, I'm sure and the baby was asleep. I doubt he would have been put in there for that purpose, they had to have been out somewhere. What if he denies he was outside the ambulance station?" Daniels asked, seeing Ellie leave.

"Then let him, call Budmouth Taxis and ask for someone called Lucas, Rose said he was the driver this morning and ask him if he noticed a car parked where he dropped Rose off. If the moron had taken her into the car park, she would not have been confronted."

"Maybe not then Sir but if Joe Miller had wanted to confront her, he would have still done so another time."

"I know that Daniels," Alec replied, getting up. "Before that happened though, I could have warned him to stay away from her."

Now he regretted talking to Joe Miller about Rose the last time he'd hauled the man in because if the man lost his temper with Rose, he'd lose his temper with Joe Miller and being in the police wouldn't have stopped him. Now though, he had to go face the man who had just threatened his fiancée so he'd best let Daniels ask the questions.

Ellie had taken Fred and was talking to her husband.

"What's all this about?" Ellie asked him. "Did you go see Rose at work?"

"Don't be daft Ellie, why would I do that? Yes, I took Fred out, he wouldn’t settle when you left so we went for a drive. I may have stopped outside the ambulance station to see to him."

"Well what's Hardy going on about you confronting Rose then?" Ellie wanted to know. "Why would Rose say you did then?"

"Can't you see?" Joe asked her as Daniels stood opposite. "Hardy's trying to trick me, Rose is getting her revenge."

"Revenge for what? For covering for you about the night in the supermarket car park?" Ellie asked him.

"What? Look Ellie, I was waiting for her, I told you that and I might have had words with the driver who almost cut me off. I didn't want to bother you with it but the rest is nonsense, I didn't start any fights with him."

"That's not what I was just told," Ellie replied, looking at Daniels and knowing she shouldn't repeat what her boss had just told her. "I can't say what, you've not been interviewed yet. He did ask me though if I've seen any strange phones in the house."

"What would he do that for Ell?"

"Maybe Tom knew where Danny's phone was and he's hiding it? Did you know about Tom's laptop though?"

"Would I have searched under his bed if I had?" Joe replied.

Ellie thought about it, it was a reasonable assumption he didn't know.

"Then why was Tom hiding the fact? I think you'd better tell me everything about Tom's interview when I get home."

"What's this about Ellie? Don't you trust me to deal with it?" Joe wanted to know as Alec arrived.

"Daniels, escort Mr Miller to interview room one," Alec ordered the DC.

When they went off, Ellie was holding her youngest son.

"Go home Miller, this could take a while."

"What? No, I'm not going home, I'll take him across the road to get him a drink."

"Do that then but he may get restless. Take him home if you need to."

"I'd rather just call my sister to take him then."

Alec had to leave her to it, it also meant he may have to call for Rose to come down and get the other driver Joe had argued with back in today or tomorrow but that depended on Joe's co-operation. Since he'd been reluctant to come in, Alec doubted he'd get it.

Ellie watched her husband being led off and called her sister Lucy as Alec followed.

"What's Joe doing in the police station?" Lucy almost laughed. "Are you so desperate for suspects?"

"Stop it Lucy. Can you come and get Fred or not?"

"I still saw something that night Ellie, I'll tell you what it was if you lend me that grand."

"Stop it Lucy, fine, don't watch your nephew then and if you're in trouble, get your son to bail you out."

"Okay, give me ten minutes but you can pay the taxi fare. Have you got Fred's car seat?"

"Just fasten him with you for the time being, Joe or myself will come and pick him up. Look, if you saw something that night, you have a moral duty to report it. Think about it Lucy, it could have been Danny's killer. How would you feel if he gets away with it and you could have done something? Yes, Joe's being asked questions but not over Danny, well not yet but Hardy's getting all female officers' husbands and boyfriends in, Joe's just the first."

Well she hoped that was the case as she hung up and hoped Lucy would see sense but maybe lending her the money might make her tell what she saw that night sooner rather than later. She took Fred into the less formal interview room to await her sister's arrival and wondered what her boss could possibly be asking Joe.

Alec was not giving Joe Miller an easy time as he handed a folder to Daniels of what had happened earlier.

"So, are you in the habit of waiting for people and confronting them?" he asked Joe. "This is the second person that we know of."

"What are you even talking about?" Joe wanted to know. "I went out, so what?"

"To wait for Rose Tyler's arrival at work? Don't deny it Joe, we have a witness who saw your car parked outside the ambulance station."

"I already told my wife, I may have stopped there to see to Fred," was all Joe would admit.

Alec somehow didn't believe him, that was some coincidence he stopped at the same time he'd figured Rose could be starting work, how long had he been prepared to wait, with a young boy in the back? No, Joe Miller was guilty of threatening Rose, setting about the other driver that evening and now he had no doubt Joe had lost his temper with Danny over something. The man had a short fuse, no doubt about it.

"So, do you want a solicitor?" Daniels was asking Joe.

"Am I going to need one?" Joe grinned.

"This is serious Joe. I could charge you with several things at the moment, not including threatening your old work partner. Daniels, check on the cab driver I told you Miss Tyler said dropped her off this morning."

"Hold on," Joe interrupted. "Who said anything about you charging me? What for?"

"I could give you a list," Alec replied, seeing Daniels getting his phone out to check on the cab driver. "Just admit it, you were trying to get Rose to back down about what she saw that evening because you are afraid your wife will find out. What don't you want her to know? By the way, let me see your phone."

"What? Why do you need my phone?" Joe asked.

"I can get a warrant to let us examine it, if I need to," Alec replied.

Joe reluctantly got the phone out of his pocket, Alec putting his specs on to read the contacts list and seeing 'Danny'.

"Want to explain this?" he asked Joe, holding the phone screen towards Joe.

"He was my son's friend, of course I had his number in case Tom wanted to contact him," Joe replied.

"Your son has his own phone Joe," Alec reminded him, looking for Joe's own number. Then he noticed the call forwarding options. "Whose is this other number?"

Joe tried to get to his feet.

"Sit down Joe. Daniels, did you get the cab driver?"

"Yes Sir, he's coming down later to give a statement but a car was parked right where Miss Tyler was dropped off and he noticed a man and he was turning towards a baby seat."

"Why did you feel the need to get Rose to back off Joe?" Alec asked him.

Chapter 23
Joe was looking uncomfortable.

"I want to speak to my solicitor."

"Fine, do that," Alec replied, gathering the papers into the folder. "Come on Daniels, we have other witnesses to find."

"Hold on," Joe objected. "What's this about anyway? The car park or me allegedly threatening Rose?"

"Both," Alec replied.

"DI Hardy, what has any of this to do with my client?" Joe's solicitor wanted to know.

"Has he not spoken to you?" Alec asked. "I think you two have a lot of talking to do but the most serious charge is threatening someone to keep quiet over what she saw in the car park so yes, it is to do with him."

"Just because she's your girlfriend," Joe remarked.

"Mr Miller, whether Miss Tyler is DI Hardy's girlfriend or not, we'd take the threat seriously," Daniels told Joe.

"Don't say any more," the solicitor advised Joe.

"He didn't like that, did he?" Alec mused when they left the room. "Call Miss Tyler, see when she will be free or if not, leave a message at the ambulance station for her to get a cab down here when she gets back. She can sign that statement she gave to you from earlier amongst other things but he is not to be let go until she's here, understand?"

"Sir, do you think he'll go after her again? Would he be that stupid?"

"Yes Daniels, if he's hiding something else. I want a warrant to search his house for the missing phone and the computer he uses and I know DS Miller will object. If she's still here, do it quietly and don't let her find out, get the key from Joe Miller if you can. If not, she'll have to be told."

"She's not going to like it Sir," Daniels replied.

"I know that but this has gone on long enough and I can't be there to take my girlfriend to work and pick her up every day. Call that cab driver back, I want a word with him, this is partly his fault Rose was confronted this morning."

Daniels dialled the cab driver Lucas's number and passed his phone, Alec making sure the man understood that from now on, he had to stop being lazy and take Rose inside the compound.

"What's all this for?" Lucas dared asked.

"Because she was confronted by someone this morning all for the sake of you saving two minutes, that's why," Alec replied, having already met the other man and not liking him. "We will be calling your controller, if you don't comply. Understand?"

Lucas gave his word and Alec handed the phone back.

"I will try calling Rose, she may be on a break. If Mr Miller won't admit he was there, I'm charging him with obstructing an ongoing investigation."

Daniels knew he'd do it as well.

"Want me to get that warrant Sir?" Daniels smiled.

"We'll see if he gives his agreement first, if not, see to it."

Ellie had gone back to the office and stared at Alec's empty office. She wondered what the hell her husband had got involved in. Why would he go meet Rose at work? Was Hardy actually right? No, she couldn't believe that, Rose was obviously confusing Joe with someone else in the car park and just wanted some attention and an excuse to get Hardy to visit her when he'd been called out early. Besides, how did Joe know what time Rose started work and why was Hardy blaming her?

Alec went back into the interview room.

"Feel like talking now?" he asked Joe, who had a smirk on his face.

"My client denies both claims, that of starting an argument in a car park and threatening a Miss Tyler," the solicitor claimed.

"Right, Joe Miller, I am holding you in detention for obstructing police enquires. Daniels, get the custody sergeant and read him his rights." He turned to the solicitor. "Your client will be released when he co-operates. We are also going to apply for a warrant to search his home in connection with the death of Danny Latimer, namely to search for a missing phone belonging to the victim and for any traces he was contacting the boy via email. Joe, when you hand your belongings over, you can hand your house key over, if you don't want your wife to find out?"

Alec knew she'd find out anyway, one way or another. It would save time getting a warrant if the man gave the key and permission. Joe was being helped up by Daniels, since he was being handcuffed.

"You know Ellie will find out," Joe told him as Daniels led him away.

"I must object," the solicitor stood up.

"Your client will be charged, you should advise him to co-operate, we will have plenty of witnesses to the car park incident when we release the details and Miss Tyler's supervisor and partner will state how she acted when she'd been confronted."

"None the less, she is your girlfriend," the solicitor pointed out.

"Which is why DC Daniels will be asking the questions when she arrives," Alec replied, getting tired of this. "Mr Miller's not so keen on his wife finding out," he added.

"Then what has a missing phone and a laptop to do with things?" the solicitor wanted to know.

"We will get around to that later but I can say that so far, we have reason to believe Mr Miller was corresponding with Danny Latimer before he died and took the boy's phone to stop us finding out."

"These are completely different accusations," the solicitor argued as Daniels came back.

"No, they are connected, Mr Miller has a temper as Miss Tyler already gave a statement to and Danny was killed by someone close to him, who had a temper. I will prove that connection."

"Sir, Mr Miller won't give us his key or his permission to search his house for the items," Daniels informed Alec.

"Then get DS Miller in my office, I will be there shortly, I have to call Rose," Alec replied as the solicitor walked off.

Rose was taking a break just around the harbour, since they'd had a quiet day.

"Your boyfriend?" Steven smiled as Rose got her phone out.

Rose nodded. "Watcha Alec, miss me?" Rose teased him.

"Always but be serious Rose. When you get finished, get a cab to the police station, you need to sign that statement from this morning."

"Yeah, okay. Are you holding Joe ‘cos if that idiot Lucas is the driver, he'll make me walk out into the street."

"No, he's been told and no need to worry about Joe, he's been detained," Alec assured her.

"Really? Best news I've heard," Rose replied. "I'll be there just after three but how long can ya hold him?"

"Until his house has been searched and we may have to wait for a search warrant, unless your friend gives permission, since Joe won't."

"So he's got something to hide after all?" Rose mused.

"Rose, we suspected that since you first mentioned about him to me," Alec replied. "I have a feeling your friend will put all this on you so be careful love, okay?"

"She'll be mad with me for getting Joe locked up. Did she know he confronted me this morning?"

"She was told and does not believe he was even there," he replied.

"Yeah, she'll be mad at me then? Shall I ask for you or DC Daniels when I arrive?"

"Ask for Daniels love but I will be present though he will have to take over, to save any speculation. Joe Miller's solicitor was not happy his client was detained but I don't want him going anywhere near you. Just get here when you can eh?"

"Yeah, I will, see ya later," Rose replied.

"Trouble?" Steven asked her as he took the empty paper cups.

"Joe's been detained over this morning and other things," Rose told him.

"Best news I heard as well," Steven smiled. "Good thing we're off Sunday but your boyfriend may be working then?"

"I hope not, he can let Joe stew for a while if Alec doesn't let him go tomorrow."

Ellie was waiting for Alec and Daniels.

"What do you want to see me for?" Ellie wanted to know.

"Sit still Miller. Your husband has been detained for refusing to co-operate."

"What? Why are you holding him?"

"He refuses to admit anything and he's interfering with our investigations. Miller, your boy Tom smashed up his computer, he admitted it was because it had emails on it between him and Danny. We also found Danny's number on your husband's phone, what would he be doing with it?" Alec asked her.

"How would I know? Did you ask him?" Ellie replied.

"He made up an excuse I was not satisfied with. I have reason to believe he's in possession of Danny's missing phone, he refused to let us search the house. Will you allow us to?"

"You think Joe took Danny's phone? Why?"

"I can't say at present. Do I need to bother the chief and get a search warrant?" he asked her, nodding to Daniels, who was standing behind Ellie.

"This is rubbish. Go ahead, we've nothing to hide, I expect you want the key?" Ellie almost lost her temper.

"Daniels, get CSU up there, tell them what they are looking for and only to retrieve the two items, nothing else."

"What else are you looking for?" Ellie demanded to know.

"Your husband's laptop, he could have used it to email Danny," Alec admitted as Ellie got up to get her house key.

"Well I use it sometimes," she admitted.

"Recently?" Alec asked her. "Since you got back from your holiday?"

"No, I've been too busy – Sir," Ellie replied sarcastically.

Daniels tried not to let out a smile, those two really hated each other. He wondered how Hardy's girlfriend kept the peace between them outside work?

Daniels followed Ellie out and she went to get her key.

"I suppose you agree with this?" she asked him as he took the key.

"Sorry Ma'am but DI Hardy's right, your husband is hiding something otherwise he would have wanted to clear things up."

"Is Hardy going to charge him with anything?" Ellie wanted to know.

"Maybe? If your husband admits he bothered Miss Tyler, Hardy may go easy on him and with the car park incident. That depends on what CSU finds at your house."

"Well they won't find a phone, that's for sure, I'd know if Joe or Tom had brought one home. You're both wasting your time finding Danny's killer."

Although Daniels knew Alec hadn't said as much, he'd guessed where this was going and Hardy still owed him an explanation. Between Joe Miller's temper and his reluctance to answer Hardy's questions, they may already have the boy's killer locked up.

Alec decided to take a walk across the road and get a late lunch, though it wasn't the same without Rose being there but at least with Joe Miller locked up, he knew she was safe enough going around. All he could do now was wait for the CSU to get back from the Miller house and hope he'd been right, otherwise the chief would chew him out good and proper.

Then it would all be down to Rose and the other man from the car park incident because he knew he wasn't wrong about who killed Danny. Just after two, things began to go crazy. Ellie had been left at her desk, being given a warning from Alec she was to have nothing to do with what was currently going on and she had been sent to re-interview some witnesses, which she wasn't happy with and Alec got the phone-call he'd been waiting for.

"Sir," Brian from the CSU called him. "We're starting to examine Mr Miller's laptop but we're giving priority to a phone hidden in a dresser drawer."

"Good, do that first and go take fingerprints from Joe Miller, he refused earlier, I want them compared to anything found on that phone. If he refuses to give them, tell him we will get a warrant so he may as well save time. If he does refuse, he has something to hide."

Ellie had seen her boss on the phone and wondered if it was about Joe. What had Rose set him up for and why, when they'd been friends all this time? Was Hardy using Rose to pin the blame on Joe? If so, why was Rose playing along, was it because she and Hardy had got engaged? All sorts of things were going through her mind, most of all her sister coping with Fred and she'd had to send Tom a message to go to her house after school.

Alec was going through what Rose had told them about earlier when there was a tap on his door. It was Daniels, followed by who Alec knew as Brian.

"Sir, we got Joe Miller to give his fingerprints," Daniels told Alec after he'd closed the door.

"They're a positive match for those found on the phone we recovered," Brian revealed. "There was only one number in the phone, it was Joe Miller's."

Alec wondered what the call forwarding was for but was pleased so far.

"Right, go ahead and examine the laptop," Alec told Brian.

"We were going to – Sir," Brian replied, looking at Daniels, who had told him the DI was always like that.

Ellie was trying to find out what was going on when she arrived back at her desk, she'd caught Daniels but he'd said he couldn't tell her anything, which had got her even more annoyed. Alec got up and followed Daniels after calling the custody sergeant to have Joe Miller in the interview room.

"Got tired of holding me?" Joe tried to joke as he was placed opposite Daniels and next to his solicitor, who had been summoned while Daniels waited for Joe.

It was now two forty-five and Alec knew Rose would be there in around half an hour, he was hoping she wouldn't see Joe in the corridor, or her friend. He went into the interview room, the phone in an evidence bag.

"We found this in your drawer Joe," Alec declared. "It has been identified by the phone number as Danny's, from your own phone. You made a big mistake Joe, when I saw your phone, I had an idea that was what the call forwarding was for. There are also some emails on Danny's phone, I traced the email address, it's in your name. Is that what this was about, you and Danny? Were you secretly meeting him Joe?"

"You don't understand Hardy," Joe spoke up.

"Mr Miller, I advise you to remain quiet," his solicitor told him.

"It's no good," Alec persisted. "There are only yours and Danny's fingerprints on the phone Joe, we are examining your laptop, we'll find other evidence you were communicating with him. What happened that night Joe? Did Danny realise what was happening?"

Joe banged his fist on the table.

"None of you understand. I don't even understand so how can I explain it? Danny came to me when his dad hit him, we started talking and I said he could come to me any time."

"What about the night he was killed Joe? Did you meet in the hut?"

Rose had finished work, called for a cab and told the controller the driver was to come into the car park of the ambulance station and no excuses.

"I got a call from that detective," the woman told her. "It's that lazy Lucas, I've had other complaints."

Ten minutes later, Rose was being dropped off and went inside, going up to the desk, just as Ellie came downstairs.

"So, come to gloat Rose?" Ellie confronted her.

"What are you talking about Ellie?" Rose replied.

"He's being held on suspicion of something to do with Danny's death, I know he has," Ellie told her, not that she had been told but it had been pointing to that all day and it was partly Rose's fault.

"That's nothing to do with me Ellie, I just came to sign a statement from this morning," she tried to tell Bob on the desk.

"What's all this about?" Bob tried to keep the peace, since he didn't fancy breaking up a cat fight.

"Ask her boyfriend," Ellie complained. "He's had my husband either locked up or in the interview room most of the day."

That was news to Bob, who had only just started.

"I came to see DC Daniels Bob," Rose tried to tell him.

"He's in an interview, can it wait?" Bob told her.

"Of course he's in an interview," Ellie hissed back. "He's there because of what you claimed happened this morning."

"Ellie, I know you don't want to believe it but Joe did threaten me this morning," Rose told her.

"So you say," Ellie huffed, trying to keep her temper. "He said he wasn't even there, let alone anything else."

"Well he was, the taxi driver saw him," Rose replied, hoping Lucas wouldn't take offence she was always trying to get rid of him.

Just then, Daniels had been sent by Alec to see if Rose had arrived and to get a WPC to escort her to another interview room. He saw the two women were having a stand-off.

"Miss Tyler, this way please," Daniels told Rose. "DI Hardy won't be long."

"Is he letting my husband go?" Ellie wanted to know, which was why she'd come downstairs, since she didn't know Rose had been called in.

"Sorry Ma'am. DI Hardy has charged him with several offences, including the murder of Danny Latimer."

Ellie exploded, Rose thinking she was going to have to provide some medical assistance. Ellie managed to check herself and went to sit down.

"You're all wrong about him," Ellie insisted as Alec joined them, having handed Joe over into custody again and ordering his clothing and belongings to be examined.

"We're not Miller, he admitted it. He was trying to stop Danny leaving the hut that night and lost his temper. Rose was right, he just erupted like she described happened in the car park that night."

"No, you're just making him say that," Ellie insisted.

"Daniels, take DS Miller upstairs to collect her things and arrange to book her and her two sons into a hotel. I'm sorry Ellie, we have to search the whole house, the CSU are already on their way back."

"Don't you go calling me Ellie," she replied, getting up and brushing Daniels's hand away. "This is yours and your girlfriend's faults, you made him say that."

Alec shook his head.

"He threatened Rose this morning Miller," he replied, thinking it would be safer to continue calling her that. "In her statement, she told us he had her up against the hedge and he told her to remember his temper."

"She's making it up," Ellie was still insisting as Daniels pressed the lift button. "I hate you Rose, for doing this to Joe and my boys."

Rose went to sit down as Ellie was led inside the lift, Alec sitting beside her.

"Sorry love, are you okay?" he asked her, putting his arm around her and not caring who was around.

Rose managed to nod. "We've been friends, all that time. Why does she think I made it all up Alec?"

"I don't know love, sorry. She's refusing to believe her husband can just turn like that but he admitted what happened the night Danny died though we got nothing about the car park or this morning. We will continue to question him but we got him on that at least. Just wait until Daniels comes back, sign your statement and I'll get a patrol car to take you home, I still have a lot to do."

"I know you have Alec, it's okay. I know you can't tell me what happened to Danny. How are you gonna tell Beth and Mark it was their friend?"

That was something Alec was not looking forward to.

"Just stay here Rose, I have to go talk to your friend."

"I know, I'll be fine Alec, you go."

"Rose will be okay here Sir," Bob told him, remembering the day they met at the traffic accident and they had stared at each other.

When Alec finally got home several hours later, Rose had watched him making his statement on TV.

"How did Beth and Mark take it?" Rose asked him after they'd eaten the takeaway Alec had brought back with him.

"Seriously Rose, I am more concerned how it affected you. Yes, they were betrayed by a friend but so were you, you are just as much a victim as they are. They will not have to take the witness stand against him, well not like you will have to."

"Ellie's already mad with me but why is she so insistent Joe's innocent?"

"I don't know love, sorry."

Just then, there was a knock on the door. Alec got up to find it was Ellie, since she knew the code to get in.

"Miller, it's not a good idea you being here," Alec told her. "If you have come to apologise to Rose, then come in."

"She wants me to apologise?" Ellie almost shouted, remembering where she was.

Rose had joined him at the door but he was holding her back.

"It's okay Alec, Ellie, I'm sorry but it was all true, why would I lie about it?" Rose asked her.

"Oh, I can think of a few reasons," Ellie replied. "You're going to be the prosecution's star witness, you do know that? How can you live with it?"

"That's enough Miller. Rose has had to live with the knowledge your husband had a temper for over two years and you never even knew," Alec reminded her.

"It's only her word," Ellie replied, not wanting to go inside. "Now everyone will think I knew."

"You mean to say you really had no idea how quickly Joe could lose his temper?" Alec asked her, not believing it.

"Maybe it's other people who bring it out in him," Ellie glared at Rose.

"Hold on Miller, that had best not be aimed at Rose," Alec objected.

"Think what you like Hardy but I'll get Joe a good solicitor, just remember that," Ellie warned them as she left.

"She's just upset Alec," Rose tried to tell him.

"I know but she's on his side, I thought she would go all Bruce Lee on him and beat him up," Alec tried to joke.

Chapter 24
"That's not funny Alec," Rose tried not to laugh at the thought. "I thought I'd have to give her some treatment when she blew up. Why is she still even defending him?"

"You know her better than I do love," Alec replied. "She obviously can't accept he admitted it."

As Rose had been left in the station earlier, she had stopped him.

"I had best go see her, you finish down here and go home. Daniels will make sure you get a ride. I'm sorry you had to see your friend like that."

"Well I thought she would go crazy if we were right but at him, not us," Rose replied.

"I told her she was too close to this to act rationally," Alec replied. "Now I have to deal with her and go see the Latimers. I have no idea how they will react. I should call them and make sure they are all at home."

"Well I don't envy you having to tell them. Do ya want me to go with ya?"

"No love, Daniels will go with me. However they react, they will think their friend knew about him. How could she not see it though?"

"That's what I don't get. That's how he did it Alec, that's how he covered it all up, he knew how to deal with crime scenes through Ellie and attending incidents."

"Did you ever attend any other crime scenes besides on the beach that morning?" Alec wanted to know.

"No, not as such but he told me about a few. Did he clear everything from the hut?"

"Yes, that's when I had my suspicions, that it was someone who knew what to do. It was the perfect cover, your friend being out of it and not knowing if he was at home or not. If she believed him over the car park incident, she will believe anything he says now. Sorry love but it's best you stay away from her."

Rose could only nod her agreement and went off to sign her statement from that morning.

"Alec," she called after him. "Will this be added to the charges against him?"

"Yes, unless you want to drop them? It's up to you."

"What will happen? I'll already have to testify about his temper in the car park, now I may have to testify him threatening me. Won't there be a conflict?"

"We will have to leave that up to the prosecution service. Sign the statement and we'll see if they want to include it but the more we have, the better. We still have to get him to admit both incidents but if his wife gets him a different solicitor, things may be delayed."

Daniels had told her she was brave to stand up to Joe Miller at the time then took her to reception to wait for a ride home.

"We'll call you if there's anything else," Daniels had told her. "It must be a relief he's been locked up?"

"Yeah, just a bit but what if he won't admit this morning or the car park?"

"Then we will have to go by your statement and the other driver's. We'll also have to get more witnesses to come forward though I doubt we can charge him with anything other than causing a disturbance. We have no real proof he started the fight."

"No, I wasn't there, I thought he was gonna leave. All this time, I bet he knew I'd seen him. That was why he thought I'd stay quiet about it, so he wouldn't retaliate when I'd seen how he could lose his temper so fast."

"Well it's out of the way now and your boyfriend won't let anything happen to you," Daniels smiled.

That was Rose's only consolation. Up in Alec's office, things had not gone well as a tap came on the door to say Ellie's ride was waiting and her two sons were being taken to a local hotel.

"This is all your girlfriend's fault," Ellie was still claiming.

"Don't blame Rose for this Miller, your husband made the choice. It's still not clear what happened to Danny that night but we have enough with what he's admitted so far. We'll be interviewing him again shortly. Stay away from the press and that includes your nephew and stay away from Rose. I also doubt the Latimers will be pleased to see you."

"They won't believe it was Joe, you made him admit it, you and Rose."

"Miller, how many more times? Rose came to me because she was worried and she had a right to be. I worked on other facts and things were falling into place. Him threatening Rose this morning gave me the chance to confront him and he admitted he was with Danny that night."

"Well Danny must have said something to him," Ellie protested.

"Exactly Miller, I can't discuss it with you, you had best go join your boys. Go get them what they need, report to the head of the CSU."

"I can't stay in a hotel room, what about Tom and school?"

"Best let him go back, no-one but the Latimers and Rose know who we are charging with Danny's death. Let us know if you leave the hotel."

"I still think Rose is wrong about this morning and the car park," Ellie told him.

"She wanted to be but she's not. She got a genuine shock this morning, her partner told me and why would he lie?"

"I can think of a few reasons," Ellie replied as she got up. "If you'd not come here, this wouldn't have happened."

"Yes, it would and you would have been investigating your own husband, well you should have been but you would never have made the connection."

"Well it's not over, so don't go thinking it is."

"Then leave Rose out of it, she is just as much a victim in all this as Danny was. Your husband used her Miller, to cover himself in front of you."

"That's what you say."

"Go see your boys Miller," Alec had replied, since he was getting nowhere fast.

He knew she'd never accept any of it and he hoped she'd stay away from Rose. Miller was right though, they couldn't stay in a hotel room longer than one night but he doubted she would accept any further help from him. Now, he had to prepare a press statement and go see the Latimer family. He also needed more answers from Joe Miller and that would have to wait until tomorrow when the house had been searched.

Now he knew where Danny had got the money from that had been found in the boy's room, Joe must have given him it to pay for the phone, or to keep quiet – maybe both? He had picked up his desk phone and pressed the extension for the chief.

"So I heard," the chief told him when he said he'd made an arrest. "Are you certain you have the right person Alec? How did DS Miller take it?"

"She does not believe anything I told her. We are going to have to fight her, she will protest strongly. I will question Joe Miller more tomorrow but I have no other suspects at this stage. Just one thing though, how will the prosecution take the news their chief witness and I are engaged?"

"I have no idea Alec but since she gave her initial statement before you got engaged, it should be okay. How involved will she be Alec?" the chief wanted to know.

Alec wondered if she meant with the case or himself.

"Well, Rose witnessed Joe Miller's temper, which is what put me onto him in the first place, then he threatened her to stay quiet, proving she was right to bring her concerns to me."

"Well be careful Alec," the chief had warned him. "Goodness knows how Ellie will react and what she will tell his solicitor and if it comes to a trial, any defence he gives may tie it all back to you and Miss Tyler being involved. You'll have your work cut out Alec."

He already knew that when he'd begun his relationship with Rose. What had started out as rivalry between the two of them and trying to get the better of each other had led him to getting himself fixed and asking Rose to marry him. Nothing was going to stop that, not even a trial so his boss was right, he did have his work cut out for him. He was going to have to be very careful indeed his relationship with Rose didn't let Joe Miller get away.

He quickly wrote what he wanted about the arrest, then called for a car to take him to the Latimer house, taking Daniels with him. As they were getting out of the car, Daniels asked him how he felt about it.

"Well Rose is glad that part is over but she will be the star witness," Alec replied as they walked to the door.

"Sir, I can tell the family, if you want?" Daniels had offered.

"I have to do this," Alec replied.

Beth didn't want to know.

"We've arrested someone for Danny's death," Alec had told them all as they sat on the sofa.

"That's good," Mark tried to say calmly. "Is it someone we know?"

"Mark, Beth. It's Joe Miller," Alec replied.

"They only live across the field," Beth's mother replied.

"Are you sure?" Mark asked him, getting up.

"We are not looking for anyone else. We still have not got all the details but we believe we have the right person. We discovered he has a violent temper, through someone who came forward and it seems like he lost it with Danny that night though we don't have all the details. Did non of you ever witness Joe losing his temper?"

They all looked at each other and shook their heads.

"Do you know why Danny was out that night?" Beth asked him.

"We have yet to establish that but we found Danny's missing phone in Joe's possession. We also believe Joe gave him money to pay for it and Joe's number was the only contact plus there are emails between them."

"What?" Mark shouted. "They were meeting?"

"We believe so. We should have a better idea tomorrow when we've been through everything. We had a witness as to Joe's temper who made us suspicious of him, then another one came forward whom Joe had an argument with a few years ago."

"What about Ellie?" Beth asked, trying to hold back her grief.

"She claims she had no idea of her husband's temper," Alec replied.

Beth let out a nervous laugh. "You are kidding? She lived with him, why didn't she know?"

"It seems it was something extreme that set him off, like an argument or someone really annoying him," Alec told her, remembering Rose had said Joe had gone for his wife's nephew a few times.

"Why did he have to lose it with my Danny?" Beth wanted to know, Mark sitting down to comfort her.

"When can we have our boy back?" Mark managed to ask.

"I will see you are informed shortly. You understand you should not reveal what you were just told? I will be issuing a statement shortly but no name will be mentioned. I will contact the local paper, with the Miller's nephew working there but if it's his uncle, I doubt Olly will want to release his name."

"Why not, he was quick enough with Danny," Beth's mother snapped. "He's a relative inspector, he'll want to clear his uncle's name."

"I will speak to his editor, we won't let that happen. We have a very reliable witness who knows what Joe was like."

"You mean Rose?" Beth guessed.

"I cannot say at this time, sorry Beth."

"Ellie said you two got engaged all of a sudden," Beth replied.

"That has no bearing on this case. We have another witness don't forget."

Alec didn't see why he should have to explain his relationship with Rose to them. He knew though it was bound to be the subject of gossip once a trial was set, there was very little chance Joe Miller would go down quietly. He had left the Latimers, picked up his car and now he was trying to reassure Rose, who was worried after her friend's late night visit.

"Rose, get some sleep love, good thing you are not on an early shift tomorrow."

"Yeah. Are you working tomorrow?"

"I have to get the rest of Joe Miller's story love, he wouldn't say much today. Well at least he won't bother you again. He'll be held overnight, we get the rest of his story then he will be put on remand, over in Exeter probably. We are also waiting for the house to be searched. We found Danny's phone there on the first search. Go get ready for bed eh?"

After they showed each other this made no difference, Alec laid awake, his arm around Rose and thinking of the day's events. Rose had been upset several times, first Joe Miller approaching her and her friend turning on her, twice. What had come over his DS? Her loyalty to her husband would have been commendable had she not been involved in the case. She had picked her side, which would make things very difficult when the case went to court but he was also making things difficult, being with Rose.

The next morning, Alec went off to work, regretting he couldn't take Rose but she assured him she would be fine now. He got a surprise when Ellie was waiting for him in reception.

"What are you doing here?" Alec asked her. "I cannot discuss the case any further with you. Who is looking after your two boys?"

"My sister, who do you think?" Ellie replied, now he was no longer her boss, since she'd been told she was on suspension.

When Ellie had called her sister the night before as she wanted to go see Beth and try to explain she knew nothing about what had happened and that Joe claimed he was innocent in it all, her sister had thought it was amusing.

"I mean Ell, that family officer just turned up, Tom had just arrived and the man just bundled them into a waiting car. He wouldn't tell me what was going on. So, they arrested Joe then?"

"Hardy's wrong, he just wants the case closed. Can you believe Rose told him Joe threatened her this morning?"

"Why would he do that?" Lucy had asked her, not believing this.

"You tell me, why would he? Hardy said it was something to do with what happened a few years ago that he's been going on about. He's already had Joe in and tried to stop me finding out. Lucy, he thinks Joe killed Danny," she admitted, despite him telling her not to go around making it known but Lucy was family.

"You're not serious?" Lucy had asked her, aware her son was around somewhere.

"Lucy, can you both come over and look after the boys for an hour or so? I have to go see Beth and make her understand Joe would never do that."

"Yeah, of course, I'll get Olly. Ellie, it won't have been him but you never came back to me, about what I saw that night," Lucy had reminded her.

"Well things just got out of hand, this morning, Hardy went off to rescue his girlfriend after she claimed Joe threatened her. I had to give him the key to search the house, I know something was found, I can't say what but they made a mistake."

"Well if you can't tell me? I'll come over Ell but if you want to know what I saw, well it could be to your advantage, if you can lend me some money?"

Ellie had known she was going to regret it but if it got Joe off, what did she have to lose? So she had got her cheque book out and tried to settle Fred, who was half asleep after asking Lucy to call and get some food for Tom.

"What's going on Mum?" Tom had asked her.

"Just a mix up Tom, don't worry about it. Stay off school on Monday, I'm going to try to get us out of here, we'll book a caravan down the coast, they have a swimming pool there."

"Did dad do something wrong?" Tom had wanted to know.

"The police got it wrong and Rose helped them so DI Hardy believes her. You know I said they had got engaged?"

"Yeah Mum but Rose wouldn't do that, would she?" Tom wanted to know.

"I didn't think she would but if it closes the case, who knows?"

So as Lucy was handed a cheque for the amount she'd asked for, Olly was making a fuss over Fred, who was still half asleep and Ellie then had stood in the middle of the field between her house and the Latimer house, seeing flashing lights outside her own.

Chloe had been over, not believing what they had been told but Beth hadn't had it all sink in yet so she went to join Ellie.

"What are you doing here?" Beth had asked her as it was getting dark.

"Whatever Hardy told you, it wasn't Joe," Ellie still insisted.

"How can you be so sure Ellie?" Beth had asked her.

"He wants someone to blame, Joe would never hurt your Danny."

"Ellie, Danny sneaked out of the house in the middle of the night," Beth had reminded her. "He could have only been meeting someone he knew. Hardy said he and Joe had been meeting for a while."

"What? We were away, remember?" Ellie had asked her.

"Before you went away. Mark wanted more information and called Hardy's DC, he said Joe admitted it."

"That's not true and you know it Beth," Ellie had insisted. "They just want it to be."

"Stay away from us Ellie, I'm warning you," Beth had told her. "They have someone for killing my Danny, it's up to them to decide if it was Joe or not, you're bound to be on his side."

So Ellie had gone off to voice her displeasure at Rose and Hardy and now, she was standing in front of her ex boss in the station's reception area.

"What do you want Miller? For me to say I made a mistake?" Alec was asking her.

"Yes, you have made a mistake. I want to see my husband."

"That's against procedure and you know it," Alec reminded her, wanting to get down to grilling Joe again and get some more answers.

"What am I going to do, there are cameras everywhere," Ellie replied. "I know he's innocent and I'm going to prove it."

"Leave it Miller, go back to your boys. He'll be questioned again and we will get to the truth. A solicitor will be present."

"You mean you'll get the truth as you want it to be?" Ellie accused him, aware Bob was listening. "I bet you've already got everyone believing it was Joe?"

"Miller, what do you want me to say? Joe started to admit it and we have enough proof to charge him. He'll be held on remand, pending a hearing. If he admits it, he'll be spared a trial. Does he really want to face one and drag you into it?" Alec asked her.

"I don't care, a jury will believe him and that you got it wrong because you're going on the word of your girlfriend."

"Miller, this is not about Rose, not entirely. Ask your nephew about him, when he was bothering Joe about being called out to accidents."

"What? Don't be daft, he wouldn't turn on his nephew. What's Rose been telling you?"

"It doesn't matter Miller, we have the driver of the other car from that incident and I have people finding other witnesses as to how Joe has a temper. Miller, he hid it from you, I don't know why but you never saw that side of him but others, including Rose did. Danny was strangled in a temper, Joe knew him and they had been meeting. Those are the facts, like them or not."

"Well I don't like them, it's all circumstantial so far," Ellie replied.

"No, it's not. We found clear evidence he was communicating with Danny by text and email, we found Danny's missing phone with your husband's prints on it, in his drawer containing his personal items. What more evidence do you need?" he asked her. "I have to go, I can't tell you any more Miller."

He got Joe taken to the interview room again and waited for Daniels, who wasn't happy working yet another Saturday.

"Did DS Miller just leave?" Daniels asked Alec.

"Yes, she still doesn't believe it's her husband we have in custody. Have you found those other witnesses yet?"

"I passed it on Sir, I thought it was urgent and you'd be needing me here. It doesn't matter about keeping it quiet now, does it Sir?"

Alec thought he was beginning to like the DC even more. Joe was led in and the handcuffs released, the solicitor having just arrived.

"Right, no messing around this time Joe," Alec told him sternly. "You are being charged with the death by strangulation of Danny Latimer on the 12th of July this year and in addition with causing a disturbance, traffic violations and threatening an ex colleague. So, start talking and if I get a no comment out of you, you will be charged with impeding the investigation. When did you start meeting with Danny then?"

Chapter 25
Joe put his head in his hands, leaning on the table.

"You may as well tell me," Alec insisted.

"His dad hit him, he came to see Tom but he wasn't in so we talked," Joe admitted.

Joe tried to explain, Alec shaking his head.

"So the night you returned from holiday, you arranged to meet Danny at the hut? You left your wife and two sons, your wife was asleep," Alec asked him.

"She takes pills for jet-lag. I'd not seen him since before we went away."

"He was more important than your family?" Alec wanted to know, trying to understand.

"I told you that you wouldn't understand. Danny was going to spoil it, I couldn't let him."

"Then tell me what happened Joe. Did you lose your temper with him?"

Alec finally got up after Daniels called for an officer to take Joe away.

"I can't understand his reasoning," Alec told his DC.

"I know Sir, neither can I but we have him. Now his wife will have to believe it," Daniels replied.

"Will she? Take his statement and make sure everything's ready to hand over on Monday. Arrange for him to be taken into custody over in the remand centre. Make certain he has no visitors and that includes his wife."

"Yes Sir but she may try, since she knows everyone here," Daniels tried to tell him.

Alec thought she was bound to try. He still couldn't get his head round the fact Joe thought a young boy was more important than his own two sons.

"Sir, do you think he abused Danny?" Daniels asked as they were leaving.

"He says not but it may have got that far. We have to ask Tom if his dad worried him that way."

"DS Miller will like that even less," Daniels tried to joke.

"Yes, she may but it has to be done. Give her a call and get her to bring him in."

After some persuasion, Ellie agreed to bring Tom in. While she was waiting for Alec, Tom asked her what was going on.

"It's Hardy again, as if arresting your father wasn't enough," Ellie told him, after leaving Fred with her sister.

"We're not staying in that hotel room are we Mum?"

"No, we'll go down the coast to the caravan park, they have some vacancies. Tom, your dad didn't do anything, I know he didn’t."

"Danny went to talk to him when he called for me," Tom admitted.

"So? Did you go talk to Danny's dad while you were at their house?" Ellie wanted to know.

Tom nodded. "Well yeah. Does DI Hardy think dad killed Danny?"

Ellie had tried to explain it to him last night but everyone had been upset and Fred had given his cousin and his aunt a hard time while Ellie had been out.

"Did you see Mrs Latimer last night Mum?"

"Yeah, I tried to talk to her but Hardy had her convinced it was your dad. Don't worry, we'll get him a better solicitor, we'll try and get him released until the hearing. Tom, did you see or hear him going out that night?"

"No Mum, I was tired as well. He put Fred down in his cot, then he popped his head round my door and asked if I was okay."

Ellie was satisfied her husband hadn't gone out so why was Hardy so keen to prove otherwise? Alec entered the informal interview room and switched the camera on.

"You know why you are here Tom?" Alec asked him.

"Is this really necessary?" Ellie asked.

"We have to establish some facts. Your husband has confessed what happened that night."

"What? You mean you forced him to," Ellie replied angrily.

"Like it or not, we have his full statement from that night. Tom, you have to answer some questions and you may not like them. Did your dad ever do anything that made you feel uncomfortable?"

"That's it, we're out of here and I'm getting Tom some legal help. Why the hell are you asking these things?" Ellie shouted. "Come on Tom, we're leaving right now."

"Fine, get some legal advice but I still have to ask the same question. DS Miller, you have been suspended from duty, we can't prove you knew anything your husband was doing so you are on full pay until such times this is all cleared up. If you want to give a voluntary statement, you can call in any time," Alec told her.

"A voluntary statement? About what?" Ellie asked, trying to remain calm.

"Think about it Miller, his temper for one, how could you not have seen it? Then there was him getting Rose to cover for him losing it in the car park that night. She's lived with that for two years, she'd seen what he was capable of. He knew it and it ensured her silence."

"She never said anything to me, why wait all this time, just when she's getting cosy with you?" Ellie wanted to know.

"That has nothing to do with what happened, she was worried and she had been all that time. If you saw someone act like that, you would have been worried too."

"Well I've never seen him like that and I think I know him better than Rose," Ellie replied.

"Really? When you never even knew he was meeting Danny? That night wasn't the first time Miller, he admitted it."

"Only because you made him. When can I see him?"

"When he's sent on remand and not before. He confessed, I doubt there will be a trial."

After Ellie left, Daniels turned to Alec.

"Sir, don't you think if she gets to see him, she might make him change his mind?"

"Yes, I'm aware of that Daniels. He can protest all he wants, we have his confession but it will mean a trial and it will all rest on Rose giving her testimony. I never wanted that."

"I know you didn't Sir but she will testify, she's been holding his secret all this time to save her friend finding out. Not many people could do that."

"Yes, she is something else Daniels. Now I have to tell her she will more than likely have to become the prosecution's main witness. She will do it but it won't make her feel any better. I had better warn her. I'll go see the chief, if she's still here then I will go pick Rose up and break the news to her. I just hope DS Miller doesn't try to contact her again, she turned up at our apartment last night."

"Really?" Daniels asked. "I would have thought she would have wanted to stay away? It must be hard for her to accept though?"

"Rose thought Miller would be mad at her husband, not us," Alec admitted. "I told her to stay away from the Latimers as well, I hope she didn't go see them last night."

Daniels's phone rang and he acknowledged the caller by saying they would be right there.

"Seems we spoke too soon. Mrs Latimer is in reception."

Alec thought that was all he needed.

"Why was Ellie Miller round last night claiming her husband's innocent?" Beth wanted to know.

"Beth, calm down," Alec tried to tell her.

"She had better not try and talk him into retracting his confession," Beth told him.

"She can't do that, we have his signed statement. We also have too much evidence against him and several witnesses as to his temper. Go home Beth, there's no need for you to be worried," Alec told her.

"Then I hope you're right inspector, he can't get away with it."

"I know, he won't," Alec tried to assure her.

"Your last case got away from you. I met with Cate Gillespie, she warned me about you."

"Beth, she's angry but Sandbrook was different. The case is still open on that, it's not like Danny's case. Go be with your family, did you get Danny released?"

"Yeah, we were contacted earlier. Sorry, I'm just worried Joe will get away with it."

"We understand that Beth but he won't. I can't tell you any more, sorry. Just go ahead and arrange his funeral."

"Will you and Rose attend?" Beth asked him.

"Yes, Rose was very upset at being the one to be called to the scene that morning. She thought it best to keep her distance while the investigation was ongoing but I'm sure she will want to see you now."

"Yeah, tell her she's welcome any time and I'm sorry it had to be her. I wasn't taking much notice at the time," Beth admitted.

"We understand Beth. Has DS Miller been bothering you?"

"Not since last night. How could she not see what was happening?" Beth wanted to know.

"He covered it well. Rose saw it, she came to me about it just after it happened, she made me think about it. Beth, she had lived with the knowledge for quite a while, you should be thanking her for bringing it to my attention."

"Is that how you two got together?" Beth tried to smile.

"You could say that but we kept on meeting at incidents. She learned how Danny had died and made the connection with Danny's death but it took some proof and fortunately, another incident of his temper was witnessed by someone else. There is no doubt about it, we have the right person."

Beth seemed satisfied and went off. Alec went back to his office to wind things up and go meet Rose from work. Little did he know that while he'd been talking to Beth, Ellie had tried her luck at seeing her husband when the custody sergeant took pity on her.

"You can have five minutes Ellie," she was told, being led to the cells.

"Can't you let me in there?" Ellie asked.

"Sorry, you can only talk to him through the hatch. If Hardy catches me, I'll lose my job."

"Thanks Sam, I appreciate this," Ellie told him. "Tom, not a word about this."

The hatch was let down and she peered through, Joe getting up.

"Ellie, what are you doing here?" he asked her.

"Tell me it's not true Joe."

"I gave my statement Ellie, I've nothing more to say."

"You denied what Rose accused you of," Ellie reminded him.

"What could I have said?" Joe asked her.

"So you did lose your temper that day?"

"It wasn't like that Ellie, Rose told Hardy, she didn't see it all."

"But you argued?" Ellie wanted to know.

"Why are you really here Ellie? Is Tom with you?"

Ellie pulled Tom towards the door.

"Why are you here Dad?" Tom asked him.

"Take him home Ellie. Whatever you hear, I gave my statement."

Ellie wondered what he meant by that.

"Well, did you kill Danny?" Ellie asked him, hearing the other door opening and hoping Hardy hadn't found out.

"Just leave it Ellie, Hardy thinks I did."

"Well that's not good enough Joe, what about your solicitor?"

"I'll talk to him once they move me, see if I can get out on police bail, with you being a DS."

"I've been suspended Joe, Hardy saw to that. That's so I can't question him."

"Then go see the chief," Joe suggested.

"What for? She'll only take his side, he thinks he has Danny's killer, she won't let anyone prove otherwise, she was going over-budget."

"Sorry Ellie, you'll have to leave now," the custody sergeant told her.

"I'll still get you out," Ellie promised him, Tom trying to lead her away.

"Did you mean that Mum?" Tom asked her on the way out, hoping she didn't bump into her ex boss.

"Whatever happened that night Tom, if you know something, you have to say, if it gets your dad released."

Ellie hadn't got around to lending her sister the money she wanted last night, well not in front of Olly, he'd wonder what was going on but when she got back to pick up Fred, Lucy was on her own. Ellie took her into the kitchen.

"Wow, I thought you weren't going to help me out," Lucy told her, trying to hug her and Ellie trying to get free.

"Just tell me Lucy. Joe's locked up, I want to prove he's innocent."

"Well that night, I was just pulling my bedroom curtains over, it was after two, I'd been doing something online," Lucy began to tell her.

"Don't bother telling me what Lucy, I already know. Did you see something?"

"A man, opposite, he was dressed in black and he was putting something in a bin, it looked like some clothing."

"Why didn't you tell the police?" Ellie wanted to know.

"You think they would have done anything?" Lucy asked her.

Ellie thought probably not.

"I need to know if you saw the person Lucy."

While Alec had been dealing with Ellie and getting the rest of Joe Miller's confession, Rose had been very quiet and Steven had left her, until they took a break.

"So, they got the killer then?" Steven mused. "No need to ask who it is?"

"You know I can't say," Rose reminded him.

"Come on Rose, it has to be. Who am I going to tell? Were you there? I mean after what happened yesterday morning."

"Yeah and Ellie had the nerve to confront us at home. What is it with her she doesn't think he's capable? It was bad enough when she didn't believe what happened in the car park but she more or less accused us of framing him."

"Never?" Steven asked, looking surprised.

"I bet she's had another go at Alec this morning as well. We just hope she won't talk Joe into withdrawing his confession."

"Can he do that?" Steven wondered.

"Better hope not. Alec can't tell me any more anyway. Word will soon get round, he told Mark and Beth who it was, Olly will get to know, it being his uncle."

Before Alec left to pick Rose up, he called the newspaper editor.

"Is that reporter of yours around?" he asked Maggie when he got put through.

"He disappeared when his mother came in last night, before your announcement though. Why do you want to talk to him?"

He wondered what Miller had said to her sister, while she was waiting for her son to be collected. Did Miller expect her husband to be arrested?

"I don't expect to see any speculation in your paper about who has been arrested," he told Maggie.

"I already told you that the paper works with the police, detective inspector. If Olly prints anything, he'll be doing it on his own, I can't control what he puts on social media if it's not through the paper's account but if he uses that, I'll delete it. That's all I can do."

"Well keep an eye on it then, the town is going to be ripped apart if it gets out. We'll be giving a full statement shortly, we have just finished with the suspect."

"Care to give us an exclusive?" Maggie dared ask.

"As long as you don't send Stevens. Be outside the station at two, someone will be giving a statement, there will be a few reporters still in town I expect but if you come inside, I will give you more information but I can't stay long, I have to be somewhere."

"I heard you got engaged recently, to Rose. Congratulations, care to give us an interview?"

"Not yet, I don't want to spotlight taking off what happened to Danny, understand?"

Maggie appeared to be thinking about it.

"Very well, I'll give it a few weeks then if you happen to call in the office to announce it officially, maybe we can have a photo or two and the story of how you met."

"We'll think about it."

Alec wondered what Rose would make of it though, being in the paper. He went back to his statement, more detailed than the hurried one yesterday and hoped he was doing the right thing.

After the statement was read out, the chief making an appearance and Alec saying they were not looking for anyone else, he allowed Maggie inside and gave her a few details of how he'd been put onto the suspect, keeping Rose's name out of it.

"So, someone came to you when they were worried someone they knew had a temper?" Maggie asked him.

"Yes, the person cannot be named for legal reasons but they will play a big part when the case goes to court," he admitted.

"So this person will be the prosecution's main witness? You have a confession though?" Maggie wondered.

"Yes, we have a confession and the person who came forward is not the only one. I don't want it mentioned the suspect was caught because their temper gave them away though."

"I'll leave that out for now but it makes an interesting story," Maggie smiled.

"I have no doubt it does," Alec had to admit. "Maybe when the initial shock has died down?"

"I'll keep that in mind. Anything else you care to add? What about this witness, is it someone local?"

"That is irrelevant, the person came forward and I had to consider what I was told. This person had been living with the knowledge a long time though, now they have to face the person they were worried about in court."

"Are you afraid this person will back down?" Maggie wanted to know.

Alec thought about it. Would Rose back out when she confronted Joe after all this time and after what happened? He really hoped not but if she wouldn't stand up in the witness box and say it was him she saw that day and he finally threatened her, what else had they to go on, besides his confession?

Then if Ellie Miller talked him out of it and he persuaded his defence lawyer he made the statement under duress, would the case fall flat? No, he didn't think that would happen but should he be worried he was involved with Rose? He went to see the chief and then made his way to pick up Rose, who had stayed in the building until she saw Alec get out of his car.

"Rose, he's locked up love," Alec reminded her as she came out.

"Yeah, I know but after yesterday?"

"Let's go home, pack a bag and go up the coast? We'll find somewhere to stay wherever we end up."

"Yeah, sounds good. So did ya give another statement?"

"Yes and one to the local paper but there was no sign of Stevens, thankfully."

"Ellie's probably got him on her side anyway, he won't be able to think straight," Rose replied as she got in Alec's car.

"I expect not but something the paper's editor said bothers me. She said he disappeared before I gave the statement last night, which means your friend gave her sister information Joe had already been arrested."

"She's not my friend any more, is she? I expect she'll turn everyone against me now."

"She will do that with me but she won't persuade the Latimers. Forget it love, it does not matter. She can't do that unless she admits her husband has been arrested and she won't want to do that, even if she thinks he's been wrongly accused."

"Alec, that's just it, don't ya see? She'll want everyone to think he's been wrongly arrested, won't she?"

Alec didn't want to admit she may be right.

"You really think that?" he asked as he parked in his usual spot outside the apartments.

"She won't give up easily but once his name gets out, it could go either way. Either people will believe her or not but she won't give up easily. Can she make an appeal against him being arrested? I mean can he get bail?"

"It will take some doing, with his written confession but if he does, it will be with conditions. I'm not saying he will but we have to consider it. Sorry love, I know you thought it was over."

"Yeah, I was hoping so after all this time. Have you any idea what it was like Alec? Thinking that Joe knew I saw him that night and maybe he was daring me to say something? He must have suspected I would tell someone one day."

"Then I'm glad it was me," Alec smiled, pressing the lift button.

"Now, I'm gonna have Ellie to contend with."

"I've told her to stay away from you but if she doesn't, you may have to take action against her and get a restraining order."

"Geez Alec, it's almost as bad as expecting Joe to come after me. I'm still not free, am I?"

She leaned on him as he put his arm around her, getting out of the lift.

"Try not to worry too much love. She will be too busy trying to clear his name to go after you. What is she going to do?" he asked as he opened the door.

"Wait for me coming home?" Rose tried to joke. "Seriously though, does she think she's gonna make me retract my statement?"

"I don't know love but don't let her. Besides, we have your other statements and they were all made before we got involved. Daniels was there all the time, that's why I made sure he was. She can try love but she won't get anywhere."

"Well I hope you're right. So, are we packing a few things?"

"Yes love, then we'll just drive up the coast and find a small seaside town and try and forget the last few days eh?"

"Sounds good to me. So are we gonna announce our engagement?"

"Not yet love, let this die down first or Ellie Miller will have something to use against us, that I put you up to giving a statement or some other lie."

"You think she would?" Rose wondered as she went to find a holdall.

"You know her better than I do love," he replied as he went to put his arms around her from behind, kissing her neck.

"I thought I did, now it seems not. Alec, what if the prosecution won't accept my statement, with us being involved?"

"Don't think that love, it makes no difference. Wait and see what happens before we worry about that, eh?"

Rose thought that was easy for him to say as he turned her around to kiss her. He may be right though, she thought as she melted into him. All she had to think about was he would be there and if Ellie came after her, she'd end up in trouble herself but how many people would she get on her side, Olly could make things very difficult for both her and Alec.

Chapter 26
Ellie went back to the hotel, Tom still asking what she was going to do to get his dad out.

"I'm going to leave you with Olly, okay? Then I'll go see Beth again and tell her he didn't do it. Someone else must have been there and seen them."

She was already formulating a plan to get her husband off the hook. Plenty of men fitted the description Lucy had given her, including Nigel and Mark.

"What about Rose? Why did she tell DI Hardy about my dad?" Tom wanted to know as they waited for Olly to arrive.

"I don't know why she would do that, we all trusted her, she was a good friend. Well I thought she was. I'm just so annoyed with her, she told Hardy your dad got into an argument with another man over a traffic incident. Honestly, why tell Hardy after all that time?"

"Mum, is that why DI Hardy went after my dad?" Tom wanted to know.

Ellie thought about it. "I think so Tom. If you see her, don't talk to her, she's not our friend any more. I'll talk to Olly, he won't believe it all, I'm sure he won't."

Once Olly arrived, Ellie borrowed his car again and knocked on Beth's door.

"Ellie, you can't be here," Mark told her.

"I need to talk to you and Beth. Joe didn't kill your Danny, he wouldn't."

"We have to go by what the police say Ellie, you should know that," Mark replied.

"Well I'm telling you now, I'm getting him a good solicitor, if you don't believe me, there's nothing I can do about it. You know who put Hardy onto him?"

"Yes, we have a good idea," Mark told her.

"You agree she's a reliable witness, when she's involved with him?"

"Ellie, we don't know that's the reason she told him, she could have told him before they got involved, they're not likely to tell us, are they? Have you just been told?"

"Why would he tell me before? He's been sneaking around for weeks now, getting Rose in for interviews without me knowing. The first time, before they got involved, he tried to fob me off with a feeble excuse why she was there early before we were both due to interview her about when Danny was found on the beach. I should have known."

"It's best you go Ellie, I'll tell Beth you called, she's having a lie down on the sofa, it hit her pretty hard. I can't say she'll want to still see you though, it wouldn't look good if we still associate with you when Joe's locked up."

"You don't believe me, do you?" Ellie asked.

"Ellie, what do you want me to say?" Mark asked her.

"Fine but when he's proved to be innocent, don't expect me to talk to you again."

Mark went back inside to explain to Beth.

"She's got a nerve. Who do we believe Mark?" Beth asked him. "Ellie, whose husband's been locked up or Rose, who's engaged to the lead detective on the case? Some choice."

"We'll have to wait and see Beth. Olly will probably take her side, best not believe everything in the paper."

Olly had already talked to Maggie on the phone before he'd gone to meet his aunt.

"I had a call about you, from Hardy," Maggie warned him. "Don't you dare use the newspaper for anything about the case, or the social media account or you're on suspension, understand?" Maggie asked him.

"Yes, I get it Maggie but you can't stop me on my own account. My uncle wouldn't do anything like that."

"You want to believe that Olly, I know that but you have to put your personal feelings aside for now or your uncle won't get a fair hearing."

"My aunt Ellie will expect me to do something," Olly told her as he got ready to leave.

"Just be careful Olly, this is your only warning," Maggie reminded him.

A few weeks went by, everyone was trying to get back to some sort of normality. Rose persuaded Alec to go face the newspaper and announce their engagement after they found out Olly had distanced himself from The Echo and he was doing some freelancing for another paper while he supported his aunt and his cousin.

Rose got home one evening and Alec had some news for her.

"You'll be glad to know that Ellie Miller has moved away, across to Exeter."

"Well that's a relief I suppose? Did she get another job?"

"The chief cleared her for duty, at a reduced rank, she didn't go into details. Maybe we'll stay away from the place for now eh?"

"Yeah, good idea. When there's a hearing, will it be locally?"

"I doubt it, they will pick somewhere neutral but it could be a while. Rose, Joe Miller's on remand over there, she'll be given visiting rights and on remand, it's more than normal. Sorry love but she may get him to change his confession."

"Can he do that?"

"It depends but don't think about it until he does, he may wait for the hearing. Rose, it's time we set a date you know?" he reminded her, putting his arms around her.

"Won't we be best waiting until after the hearing? It's gonna be bad enough us being engaged, let alone being married," Rose reminded him.

"I know love but we could be waiting a good while. See if you can get a few days off and we'll go somewhere, what do you say?"

"Alec, can't we get married and keep it a secret until after the hearing?"

"Rose, I would like nothing better love but if your mother finds out we didn't tell her? Are you going to be able to handle her? If we invite her, she may tell someone."

"Yeah, she wouldn't be able to keep it quiet, trust me. Guess that idea's out?"

"Sorry love, we'd best just wait but we'll take that holiday. Where do you want to go?"

Three months later, Rose was considering her options. They had come back from a week in a Spanish resort hotel and after missing her monthly, discovered she was five weeks pregnant. Alec had been over the moon and they'd been out to celebrate but now, she had a meeting with her supervisor to see how long she could continue working and either cut her hours and work with someone else or carry on and Steven bring her back to change over.

Alec was wishing her good luck as he dropped her off.

"Don't worry about it love, we can manage if you have to give up or reduce your hours. I have my meeting with personnel later to get my housing allowance on the flat, then wherever we move to. I've not been claiming it all this time, I should have no problem."

"Yeah, I know that but what will I do all day?" Rose wondered. "No-one will want me as their partner if I can't do my job properly. Steven's been really good but I can't ask him to reduce his hours so if the supervisor won't go for me working regular hours and Steven calling in to swap partners, then I guess I'm done?"

"I know how you feel love, I wish I could help you decide but it's up to you. I just don't want you working late. Maybe they'll put you and Steven on a regular shift so you can do four hours a day and someone can take over for the other four hours?"

"Yeah, there are plenty on stand-by for holidays and anyone off sick and the holiday weekends, maybe someone will be glad of the extra hours? I'll have to give up in another few months anyway, maybe it's not worth the trouble? I'll get some maternity benefits and since we're looking to move, I suppose that'll keep me busy?"

"Yes love, it will. Once we find a place, we have a nursery to plan don't forget."

"Yeah, ya know I can't wait to do that, before I get too big. I don't wanna miss out too much ya know?"

"I already know that. Be careful today and let Steven do all the heavy work, okay?"

"Yeah, I know. See ya later."

She met Steven and they went into the office, since it involved both of them.

"So, if I put you both on a regular run, Rose, you can work four hours, morning or afternoons and I'll get someone to agree the other four, for now. What do you think Steven?"

Rose was relieved he agreed until she had to leave. They set off and Rose wondered if he was annoyed over it. They were about to set off back for Rose to finish early, since she'd been told she could start on her reduced hours when they got a call to go to Beth Latimer.

"What's wrong Beth?" Rose asked as they were admitted.

"She's been getting pains, she may need to go to hospital," Mark told them.

"Mark, I'm not going to hospital, I'm having an home birth, get that in that thick head of yours," Beth yelled at him.

Rose could see all was not right between the two of them, Alec was never like that.

"Well, we're not the experts on that Beth," Steven tried to tell her. "You'd best call your own GP, we can only do so much. I can check the baby's heartbeat and other things but that's all. Are you due for a scan?"

"I told you to call the surgery Mark," Beth reminded him as Steven crouched down to try to examine her.

"You're just at the stage you might get a few twinges," Rose tried to tell her, having paid attention to that part at the classes she and Alec were attending.

"You put on weight?" Beth tried to joke as she felt another pain. "I've a few months to go, I can't have this baby yet."

"You won't have it yet Beth, try to relax," Steven tried to tell her. "You've just been overdoing it a bit I expect?"

"Too right she has," Mark agreed.

"Oh well, if you men think that, of course that's what's wrong with me," Beth replied, seeing Rose was dying to laugh. "Hang on Rose, are you pregnant?"

They had told no-one, well except Steven, her supervisor and her mother, there was no-one else who needed to know but when the what was looking like a trial came around, if Alec was right, she'd be noticed then and was about six months and they had to wait.

"I didn't think it was obvious, I've not told anyone," Rose had to admit.

"Rose, you are going to be able to testify if there's a trial?" Beth wanted to know, trying to get up.

"Calm down Beth, Rose won't let us down, will you?" Mark asked her.

"As long as I can stand then no, it depends when it is. Alec's not heard anything yet and it'll get delayed over the holidays."

"Won't his defence pick up on the fact you're pregnant and the lead witness? Geez Rose, you're engaged to the lead detective, what do you think they'll make of that as well?" Beth asked her.

"Beth, we came to attend you, not question Rose being a witness," Steven had to remind her. "Just try to rest for a while and if you get any worse, call the hospital for advice. You may have to give in and go Beth."

"Not if I can help it," Beth hissed under her breath. "I'll call the midwife then. Mark, I don't know why you called for the paramedics anyway."

Mark saw them out.

"Sorry about that," he apologised. "Beth may be right though Rose, it's not going to look good if there's a trial."

"Personally Mark, it's got nothing to do with the court or the defence if Rose is pregnant," Steven replied for her. "Rose knows what she saw. How far on she is will prove she didn't get pregnant until after she'd given her statement to the police."

"Well I hope you're right then," Mark told him. "Thanks for coming anyway, I'll try to calm her down, sorry Rose."

She got home and thought she should mention it to Alec.

"What? What was she trying to imply?" Alec wanted to know.

"I don't know, maybe that my testimony won't hold? Anyway, we may be worrying about nothing if he maintains his guilt."

"Rose, his wife will have been visiting him, he may make an appeal at any time but he won't be released until it's all looked into and we've heard nothing yet. We should get a date soon love."

"I hope so. Well, I got my reduced hours ten until two though some of the others may not be too happy. It won't be for long anyway. How did you get on with your housing request?"

"Fine love, now you can cancel the rent payment, they will contact the agency. We should really be looking at houses now."

"Maybe we can wait a while longer? Unless we find something soon, we should wait until after the holidays anyway, it's only two weeks until Christmas and my mum's looking forward to coming down."

Alec just wished they were spending their first Christmas together alone.

"Ah, about that. Is there any way you can put her off love? I mean until the new year? Rose, this will be the only time we'll have the chance to be on our own, we'll have a baby next year, your mother can come down then. See what she says eh?"

"Well I'll try, unless you want to ask her?" she teased him.

"You know I'm not that brave love," he replied, putting his arms around her again.

To their surprise, her mother actually agreed to come down for the new year instead.

"Honesty Rose, I didn't expect to come down for Christmas. You two need some time on ya own."

"Yeah, so Alec pointed out," Rose grinned at him on the Sunday morning. "Come down early though, it'll be chaos on the 30th."

"Yeah, okay then. Found a new place yet?" Jackie wanted to know.

"Nah, we'll have to start being serious though or I won't be able to do anything. He keeps telling me not to worry though but he knows I still worry about him doing too much."

"Rose, I'm fine now and Daisy will come and help when we find somewhere," he reminded her.

"Isn't Daisy seeing you for the holidays?" her mother wanted to know.

"We were going up there the day after Boxing Day," Rose admitted.

"I'm gonna have to meet her, we're going to be related when you two get married."

"We know Mum, we'll arrange something when we get moved."

The holidays went well, Rose hadn't seen much of Daisy but they seemed to get on well when they met up and she agreed to spend some time with them when they found somewhere else to live. Ellie had been allowed to take her two sons to see their father and she reminded him she hadn't given up. The only problem was his legal aid. Since she was having to manage on her own, the court had appointed someone from London, who didn't pay Joe that many visits.

"They should have given you a local one," Ellie was insisting in the children's visiting room.

"I can't pick and choose Ellie," Joe reminded her, holding onto Fred.

"Dad, you're coming home soon aren't you?" Tom asked him.

"Yeah, don't worry about it eh? How's your new school?"

The day the letters from the court arrived, one for Rose to be summoned as the witness for the prosecution and Alec as the arresting officer if Joe didn't enter a plea of guilty, Rose was already nervous as they had known it was going to happen sooner or later.

"Rose, it's going to be fine," Alec tried to assure her.

"Well I'm glad they got our new address right, I was worried it would go to our old one."

"Who could forget a street name with a wildflower in it?" he grinned as he put her breakfast in front of her. "At least it doesn't conflict with your next scan love."

"We are gonna find out this time, yeah?" Rose asked him as he leaned to kiss her cheek.

"Yes love, we should avoid buying all the wrong things and while neutral colours are fine, we want some in the right one. Let's hope that he pleads guilty and get it out of the way."

"I hope so, I don't fancy standing there for a long time. Do ya think they’ll let me and Beth sit down, since she's further on than I am?"

"We'll ask when we get there love. Are you going to be okay, facing who were your friends?"

"I don't know. Ellie may have turned a lot of people against us that we don't even know about, I mean besides her sister and her nephew."

"Well, I've heard nothing so far so try to relax love."

Rose thought that was easier said than done. If there was going to be a trial, it would all be down to her if Joe pleaded not guilty. She had given up her job and had agreed to go back part-time after a reasonable time of maternity leave and Alec had reluctantly agreed to let her. They had decided to put the wedding back until after the hearing in order not to complicate things even more.

A few days later, Rose was being shown into a room to have her scan, Alec with a big grin on his face at the prospect of seeing their baby on screen again and seeing it growing. The attending nurse guessed he was looking forward to seeing it.

"So, we've booked you a date in the delivery suite Miss Tyler," the nurse was telling Rose as she was prepared. "Who's looking forward to this the most?"

"I think he is," Rose smiled as she felt the gel on her stomach was cold.

"Is that cold enough?" Alec teased her.

"It has to be kept cold I suppose?" Rose wondered as she felt the probe on her and sounds were coming from the machine.

All Alec could manage was a 'Wow' and went quiet again, Rose supposed because he didn't want to miss a single sound.

"So, you're five months, almost six?" Rose was asked.

"Yeah, I have another appointment next week," Rose replied, hoping she wouldn't have to cancel it. "How easy is it to change it?"

"Just call the appointments number, cancellations are high if someone is feeling sick or something, you shouldn't have too wait long for another one. Want to know what you're having?"

Once Rose was cleaned up and sitting on a chair, they were handed the photo.

"Congratulations, you're having a girl."

"Wow, another girl Alec," Rose grinned, nudging him. "We'll have to try for a boy next time."

The nurse looked at them in amusement.

"So it's not your first time?" the nurse asked.

"What? Oh, no, it's just he has an older daughter," Rose laughed.

"Are you implying I can only produce girls?" Alec wondered.

"Don't be daft Alec, who knows?" Rose teased him.

Once outside, Rose let him help her into the car.

"So did you mean what you said?" he asked her as he got in.

"About not just having a girl?" Rose smiled.

"Well yes, if you want but maybe we should have this one first eh?"

Rose just laughed. "Well maybe we'll wait a year or so then, after I've had this one? A year or so between them would be just right, don't ya think?"

They had just got home and Alec was about to go back to work when his mobile rang.

"What?" he asked, finding Paul Coates was calling him. "What do you mean?"

"Alec, what's going on?" Rose wanted to know.

"Yes, I'll be right there, whoever is in charge, tell them not to do anything until I get there." Then he turned to Rose. "I have to go love, there's a court order to dig up Danny's grave, from the defence team. What the hell do they hope to gain after all this time?"

"Do ya want me to come with ya?" Rose asked him, holding her hand out to be helped up.

"No love, you stay here, there's nothing you can do and besides, Ellie Miller has probably put them up to it and if Beth's there, well I don't need to paint a picture."

Rose knew what it meant.

"Maybe I'd best go then, to keep the peace? Beth might go into labour at this rate. What the hell are they playing at? Come on, I'm going with ya."

Alec knew when she was determined, nothing would stop her. They arrived outside the churchyard, a few police cars and Bob and the vicar waiting for him as a black coroner's van had the back doors open along with the forensics team. Brian came forward and Rose knew those two hated each other.

"Sir, we have no choice," Brian nodded towards two women.

"Give that here," Alec ordered as poor Paul was holding the piece of paper. "Who are those two?"

"The defence team. The younger one was assigned as Joe Miller's solicitor, the other one is her boss, a barrister. I expect Ellie will be here any minute, I think that's who they're waiting for. Didn't she move to Exeter to be nearer to him?" Paul asked him, seeing Rose behind Alec. "Rose, what are you going here?"

"To support Beth, what do ya think? She doesn't need this Paul, this could send her into labour. Go on then, is Ellie's name on the court order?"

Alec knew he shouldn't discuss these things with her but everyone else would get to know. He got his specs out and skimmed through the details.

"It's all in order," the barrister called over to him, looking pleased with herself.

"It may well be but this is not right. You come here and upset the family," Alec replied as Beth, Mark and Chloe all made their way over the churchyard to where a tent had been erected over the grave and they were followed by Nigel Carter, who had been to warn them.

"So, where is she then?" Beth shouted as Alec and Rose made their way over, handing the court order to Bob.

The forensics team were waiting for the grave diggers to finish their work but the diggers were taking their time.

"Beth, the court order is from the defence team," Alec tried to tell her.

"Yeah? Well Ellie put them up to it, I know she did," Beth replied, Mark trying to hold onto her. "What right have they got to dig my Danny up?"

"I know you're upset Beth," Rose tried to tell her. "Try to keep calm or you'll go into early labour."

"You're not a paramedic any more Rose," Alec reminded her.

"Well I might not be but Beth getting upset isn't a good thing, trust me. Why are we all waiting anyway?"

"The court order is for re-examining Danny to make sure nothing was missed and it's a complete waste of time. Who put you up to it eh?" Alec asked the barrister. "While we're on the subject, just why are you here? Isn't just a solicitor good enough for your client?"

"You shouldn't be speaking to me like that," the barrister reminded him.

"We're not in court yet, your status is not recognised, well not by anyone here," Alec replied, making Rose smile. "Answer the question."

Rose knew he meant business even though not long ago, he was marvelling at his unborn daughter on the monitor. She wished she'd got her phone out and taken a photo of the look on his face.

"I'm Sharon Bishop, QC, this is my assistant. You must be DI Hardy then? We want to make sure there were no mistakes made, my client will reveal his plea once in court. It seems to me you all have your minds made up already that he's guilty."

Alec just hoped Rose wouldn't blurt out the fact she was going to be the star witness but judging by the look on Rose's face, this wasn't going to put her off.

"Do ya realise the boy's mother is about to give birth any time? Don't ya know what she must be going through right now? You just don't care, do ya?" Rose asked the woman.

"I have no feelings one way or another. My client has been locked away for months, now he has a say in court. I'm just covering everything. Who are you anyway?"

"Leave it," Alec warned Rose, trying to get in front of her. "She's a friend of the Latimer family."

Rose thought a fat lot of good that would do when they arrived at the court together and were questioned. She knew she had two lots of questioning to look forward to, as the attending paramedic and the prosecution's star character witness. She'd read the letter she'd received and that was what the court had told her and it was a summons on that part, it wasn't voluntary.

She wondered why the prosecution hadn't asked to speak to her yet but little did she know she was going to get her wish shortly, as was Alec.

"I knew it," Beth called out as another car pulled into the already crowded car park. "How has she even got the nerve?"

Rose and Alec turned around to see Paul going up to Ellie.

"Ellie, you really shouldn't be here," he reminded her, trying to keep her back.

"Get off me Paul, I have every right to be here. If anything is found in a second autopsy, it could prove Joe's innocence."

"What?" Beth asked, trying to get away from Mark. "Get out of here Ellie, this is all your fault. How could you?"

Rose moved away from Alec and went over to Beth.

"You should let Mark take you home Beth, you should be resting," Rose reminded her.

"I'm fine, don't fuss Rose," Beth insisted. "As long as she's here, so am I, I can't let her get away with it."

"I know Beth but they won't find anything, will they?" she was about to ask Alec but maybe not in front of Joe Miller's defence team.

"No, they won't," Alec agreed, glad Rose wasn't holding his hand but the barrister had seen them get out of the same car, the damage may already have been done.

The grave diggers having finished and pulled the small coffin out, they laid it in an area they had prepared, ready for the coroner to take away.

"Why are forensics here?" Rose wondered.

"To make sure nothing is tampered with," Alec replied, hoping the defence were too busy to notice.

Beth was already crying into Mark's shoulder and Chloe was on the other side. Rose wanted to go to her.

"Leave her be Rose, unless you want to be the one to deliver her baby?" Alec tried to lighten the mood.

"Well I hope she doesn't have it in court, if she has to give evidence," Rose replied. "All that standing won't do her any good. I've just realised something. Shouldn't there be a hearing first, to determine if there's going to be a trial? I mean we all got a summons to appear."

"That's a good point but sometimes, on rare occasions, it just goes to trial, if the evidence is overwhelming that the accused is guilty. He'll be asked at the beginning of the trial, the first day is just formalities and a jury will be appointed if need be. It looks like we already know how he's going to plead then?"

He looked across at Ellie Miller, who was looking stern and had her arms crossed. Rose thought it reminded her of her own mother. Maybe she should ask her to come down during the trial to give some moral support?

"She looks like my mother, standing like that," Rose whispered to Alec.

She looked across as the coroner's assistants took the coffin away.

"That's my boy in there," Mark said quietly. "Can't you do anything DI Hardy?"

"I'm sorry Mark, I can't go against a court order but I'll make sure he's returned and the grave properly attended to. Young, I'm holding you responsible for overseeing that, understood?" Alec called to the forensics officer.

Rose could tell there was no love lost between the two of them. The Latimers began walking back the way they had come after talking to Paul for a few minutes and Ellie was about to go back to her car when Beth shrugged Mark off and turned around.

"I won't forget this Ellie, if you ask me, you're just as guilty as your husband was. How could you not see what was going on under your bloody nose?"

Rose was also wondering the same thing. Ellie hadn't been able to accept her husband's guilt despite the evidence to the contrary but Ellie wasn't about to give in as she turned back.

"Just because you think you have concrete evidence of Joe's guilt," Ellie shouted angrily. "Did you know it all rests on her?" she asked, pointing at Rose, making the defence look around.

"She's the prosecution witness?" Sharon Bishop asked, Alec glad he'd not put his arm around Rose's shoulder. "What were you two doing in the same car?" she asked Alec.

"She needed a ride, in case you've not noticed, she too is pregnant," he pointed out, Rose wishing he hadn't.

"So her being the star witness gets her special treatment?" Ms Bishop wondered.

"It does if she's his girlfriend," Ellie told her. "I tried to tell you."

"Yes but until now, I didn't know who that was, did I?"

"Blimey, you're a bit slow," Rose had to laugh, Alec scowling at her.

"That's not going to help Rose," he told her off.

"Well, it seems like this hasn't been a complete waste of time then, doesn't it?" Ms Bishop almost laughed.

Alec knew now there was going to be trouble and Rose would be in deeper than she was comfortable with.

Chapter 27
The next morning, Rose was not looking forward to waiting to be called as the main witness for the prosecution. She'd been relieved the defence had not been able to question her beforehand and a little surprised she'd not been summoned to see the prosecution, that was if Joe Miller hadn't changed his plea but on the way there, Alec said now, he was bound to have changed it.

"Sorry love but we all know what yesterday was leading to. His wife must have got to him and he's changed it already. Why else would the defence want to dig up Danny's grave?"

"Will they get the results in time?"

"Yes, it wouldn't have taken long if everything was already arranged and since they had a court order it would have been rushed through. Sorry love but it looks like you will be called to give evidence. We'll be allowed in to hear his plea then we'll have to leave. Sure you will be okay?"

"Yeah, if they let me sit down but I feel sorry for poor Beth. It's gonna tear her apart, listening to everything."

"I know love, let's hope he doesn't change his plea then?"

Joe had been transferred to the court and his solicitor was preparing him. Her boss had stayed behind in the hotel as she couldn't justify being at the hearing but she had been fairly confident it would go to trial.

"Does your boss think I'll get off?" Joe was asking.

"She wouldn't have taken your case if she didn't think she could. What made you change your plea Mr Miller?"

"My wife made me see sense. Did you meet Rose yesterday?"

"Yes although DI Hardy wasn't letting on who she was at first. It was your wife who pointed her out. So those two are engaged?"

"So Ellie told me. They must be trying to keep it quiet. Will it make any difference?"

"Maybe? She will have given her statement at an early stage though, before they got involved, judging by the dates anyway and we can't prove they were involved already at that stage. We'll ask around though, see if anyone saw them together prior to her giving it. Just answer with guilty or not guilty when you're asked to do so."

"I'm not changing my mind again, Hardy made me feel like I had to admit it, now I know where he got it from," Joe replied.

"Well we can only guess," his solicitor, Abby smiled. "It's not likely they're going to admit it."

Alec led Rose into the courtroom after going through the security check, Alec indicating he was a police officer and they found some seats near the newspaper editor, who had disowned Olly Stevens.

"Ready for this Rose?" Maggie asked her.

"What does that mean?" Alec asked her.

"Come on detective inspector, we all know Rose was friends with the Millers and she used to work with Joe. How do you think he'll plead?"

"Hopefully he will spare us going through a trial and keep to his original plea," Alec replied as everyone was settling down.

"Well I hope you got the right person though the way Olly over there has been behaving, I expect you have otherwise he wouldn't have been trying to prove his uncle's innocence. By the way, I did what I could to keep you both out of the paper."

"We appreciate that Maggie," Rose spoke up, seeing Olly sitting next to his mother and Ellie.

Mark got up and crossed over to Alec.

"How has she got the nerve to be here? Beth's going crazy about it," Mark asked him.

"We can't stop her being here Mark, sorry," Alec told him. "There's nothing to stop her."

"Well if she had any decency, she'd stay away," Mark replied, seeing the bailiff looking at him and indicating for him to go back to his seat.

Alec could see Nigel Carter trying to get Mark to sit down again. He knew everyone to do with the case was tense, Rose had dealt with it in her own way by staying quiet, much as he himself had done.

"I hope this doesn't send Beth into labour," Rose whispered to him.

"Well I hope not nor you love," he managed to smile as they were ordered to stand while the judge entered the court.

The bailiff read out Joe's name and the charges and everyone seemed to be holding their breath.

"Mr Miller, how do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?"

"Not guilty," Joe replied, making everyone gasp even though half of them had been expecting it lately, since news had spread Ellie was working in Exeter and being able to visit her husband quite often.

Mark lost it.

"You know you're guilty Joe, be a man and admit it," Mark yelled at Joe.

"Silence," the judge ordered, banging his gavel.

"No, he can't do that," Beth was calling out in tears, Chloe and Mark trying to calm her.

"I said silence," the judge reminded her. "Mr Miller, you will be held over for trial, beginning tomorrow morning, I suggest you get yourself a barrister."

"Your honour, he already has one," Abby spoke up.

"Very well, the court will resume tomorrow morning, 10am, in the meantime it is dismissed."

Rose thought what a waste of time. Abby was giving herself a pat on the back with a small cry of 'yes!' to herself and couldn't wait to call her boss when she got outside.

Mark and Chloe were trying to lead Beth out once the judge had left but Beth lost it as Joe was led out.

"You coward, face up to it and admit it," she called after him. "Ellie, what are you even doing here, have you come to gloat?"

"Beth, think what you like, Joe's going to prove he didn't do it," Ellie replied. "If you want to blame anyone, blame Hardy for listening to Rose, just because he was involved with her when Joe was arrested."

Abby was now gloating she was getting even more information to use when the court resumed.

"Leave Rose out of this," Alec joined in. "She told me what happened before we even got involved and I can prove it."

"You mean sneaking her in for interviews without telling me?" Ellie replied, Abby smiling as she gathered her folders.

"You will clear the court," the bailiff insisted, trying to get those that remained out, others having left, Alec thought probably to tell those who missed it what had just happened, Maggie being one of them.

"You know what she came to tell me," Alec replied to Ellie's accusation. "You think she could have talked in front of you? You know when that was, which proves we were not involved then."

"Does it?" Ellie replied as they followed the others out. "I saw you flirting with her on the beach that morning, you already knew each other."

"What?" Alec asked. "That's rubbish and you know it Miller."

"Leave it Ellie," her sister was trying to tell her. "You'll be able to tell that to the court."

Rose heard what was being said and stopped Alec.

"What if she tells that to the court?"

"We did nothing wrong Rose," he tried to remind her.

He led her to the coffee stand and sat her down, getting some drinks. The vicar came over to speak to Rose while Alec was waiting.

"I didn't think Ellie would be here either," Paul admitted. "You never came to see me Rose, about what happened to Danny. Why not?"

Rose was about to say she had Alec to talk to but maybe she'd best not admit it now.

"Yeah, I was going to but I never had the time, thanks anyway. Have you been to visit Joe?"

"I thought about it but decided it would look a bit odd and that I was on his side. I have to support Mark and Beth, I can't do both. I expect Ellie has seen him whenever she could but what's making her defend him?"

Alec had just come back.

"She's his wife, what other reason would she have?" Alec asked him.

"She worked with you yet she never suspected? Is that where Rose comes in?" Paul wanted to know.

"It will all be revealed now that there's a trial," was all Alec would admit.

"I don't know how he can put Beth and Mark through it, haven't they suffered enough?" Rose asked as Alec sat beside her.

"I know love," Alec tried to reassure her. "Yesterday didn't help them either. Shouldn't you be consoling them?" Alec asked Paul.

Once Paul had left, they finished their drinks and Alec led her to the car.

"Call your mother and get her to come down eh?" he suggested as Rose got in the car.

"She might not agree Alec. I can manage for now but I'll call her if things get too bad. Alec, what if Ellie brings all that up, about us?"

"She won't have the chance love," he tried to tell her as he started the car.

"Well she only has to tell his solicitor of anything she suspected Alec. She's already brought up the fact I went to see you that day before my interview about finding Danny on the beach. Now they'll ask me all kinds of questions and I could get him off."

"Try not to worry love, it's not good for you," he replied as they drove home. "Take my advice and don't say any more to her, she'll only tell the defence. It may not have had her name on the court order but she will have put them up to it."

"I figured that out Alec," Rose tried to joke. "Geez, what else has she told them? Did she tell them I went along with what Joe said that night, about him waiting for me? I dread to think what they'll make of it."

"The prosecution will object if they go too far love."

"Then why didn't they try and stop Danny's grave being dug up?"

"I don't know love but maybe the defence just went ahead and didn't inform them? The prosecution could have easily done the same but they have more respect for his family, the defence does not care who they upset. Well we know who the defence barrister will be, it all depends on the prosecution, it may not be the man that was there today. I wonder why that barrister wasn't in court today?"

"Maybe because they'd already told Joe to plead not guilty? They both looked a little smug yesterday. I thought the trial would go ahead today, with us getting those letters?"

"That would have been going on Joe's initial plea of guilty. We don't have to wait though, it was probably the judge giving everyone time to prepare. Don't worry love, you just tell them what you told me eh and we can prove we were not involved then."

"Yeah? Well I can think of a few things that may prove otherwise," she teased him.

"Such as?" he replied, trying to catch her out.

"You were flirting on the beach that morning plus you left her to talk to me outside the newsagent's shop. Need I go on?"

"You forgot the sneaking around at the police station love," he teased back as they drove into their street.

"We both lied to her Alec. Didn't you tell her it was me who wanted to clear the air after we'd talked outside the newsagent's?"

"I may have done? Still, you told her the same did you not? We can still maintain that but as for your concerns about Joe? You could say that was what you went for originally, that you were worried about Joe's temper then brought up the subject of things being tense between us I suppose?"

"Let's wait and see what happens?" Rose suggested.

"Rose, we won't have time to discuss it, if it comes up you know? It did clear the air between us though, if not for that, we could still be annoying each other."

"Don't remind me," Rose laughed as he helped her out of the car. "Geez Alec, I hope Ellie doesn't keep having a go at me every time I go to the court? If she does, I'll have to make an official complaint, I can't have her compromising my testimony, if we're seen having arguments."

"Try not to worry too much love."

"It's okay you saying that Alec but what do I do, if she has a go at me and tells me I shouldn't have told you about her husband's temper, especially as it seems she didn't know he had one? Geez Alec, he's like Jekyll and Hyde, she only saw the mild side of him."

"Don't forget her nephew was on the receiving end some of the time," he reminded her.

"Yeah but Olly's taken Ellie's side, what if he denies it or says he maybe deserved it? It's only my word then that Joe lost his temper."

"No love, we have the car driver he argued with and I'll put out another appeal for witnesses."

"Alec, that driver maybe won't want to get mixed up in a murder trial."

He went to make them a drink then sat beside her. Maybe she was right, was it fair to ask the driver to get mixed up with a trial? There was only one way to find out and that was to get Daniels to ask the driver.

"Rose, there is one thing in our favour though. My chief, I told her and she was the one who said to get you in to make a statement, it was her call so no, I don't think we have anything to worry about. I told her we were getting involved, that was why Daniels had to be there. Don't you see love?"

"Daniels was there all the time? Yeah but only in the station Alec, what if the defence imply we plotted to blame Joe?"

"What reason would we have? We had no motive to do so love," he reminded her. "Anyway, I think you rather forgot about someone love, someone who encouraged you to tell me."

"You mean Steven? Yeah, he may back me even though we don't work together and he knew it was bothering me. Paul asked me why I'd not been to see him, about getting over finding Danny, Steven also suggested I went to see Paul but then you and I got involved. Alec, Paul made a point of saying he never went to see Joe, why would he do that?"

"Why indeed?" Alec was wondering. "Do you think he did go see him?"

"Maybe before Ellie started to? Geez Alec, do ya think it was when Paul stopped going and Ellie did that it was all Ellie's doing, him changing his mind?"

"That's fairly obvious love but Paul would never be able to admit he was going to visit Joe, he is supposed to be impartial but Joe was one of his parishioners and maybe at first, he went to assure Joe that he was doing the right thing in confessing?"

"Yeah then Ellie started going on at Joe that he shouldn’t take the blame. Geez Alec, it's all her. What can we do about it when we can't prove it?"

"Find out who is going to be the prosecution barrister and tell them? It will be up to them what to do with it but maybe nothing will come of it or Ellie will be accused of coercing her husband into changing his plea. I don't know enough to be able to say if she can be charged with anything, it will be down to the judge to decide and that's if it's even brought up in court?"

"Alec, if the prosecution asks her in court, she can't deny it when she's under oath, can she?"

"I don't expect so. Well tomorrow when we find out who is prosecuting, we have to talk to them and I expect they will be pleased at what we have to tell them, if we are right. Maybe though we should see how things go first?"

"Won't it be best to get in first?" Rose wondered.

"Rose, they won't put the trial off so we can point out his wife told him not to plead guilty. I wish it was that simple love."

"Yeah, so do I," Rose smiled, going to lean on his shoulder. "We'll have to wait a while before we're called though, we might not even be needed tomorrow."

"I think I will, as the arresting officer in charge. Let's just hope everything was in order and they find nothing to pick at?"

Little did either of them know that Ellie had been allowed to see her husband in the police station or what her sister had told her about the night she saw a man putting something into a bin and that the defence were going to use those facts in court.

Everyone was waiting anxiously outside the court, the press hounding poor Beth, who was being shielded by Mark despite the arguments they'd had on the way there, especially him taking the company van when the car was in for repair and the fact she'd torn into him that his one-night affair with Becca Fisher would be dragged up in court.

"Leave it Beth," Mark had told her on the way there. "What do you want me to say? I can't take it back, I wish I could."

"Dad's right," Chloe agreed.

"You're no better Chloe, you knew about it," Beth complained.

"I only suspected, what could I say to you?" Chloe asked her. "I only knew it was true when dad wouldn't clear himself by saying where he was that night. I didn't want to be right."

"Leave her out of it Beth, it was all my own fault and I've had to suffer for it ever since," Mark told her as they drove into the court car park.

It was just their luck that Ellie was trying to get the ticket machine to part with her parking ticket as she hit it on the side several times until Olly went to help her.

"Don't take it out of the machine," her sister called over to her. "Save it for the court and who you thought was your friend."

"She's only switched sides because she's with Hardy," Olly agreed.

"I already know that Olly," Ellie replied, taking the ticket. "Oh great, here comes Mark."

"I'm surprised you have the nerve to be here again," Beth called to her.

"Why are you all convinced he did it?" Ellie shouted back, seeing the press by the entrance and hoping they'd catch on, since no-one had taken notice of what Olly had written, him being related to the guilty party.

Alec had just found a parking spot, using his 'Police' sign on the dashboard and Rose smiling.

"Are you allowed to do that, since we're in Devon?"

"It's still part of Wessex love, why not?" Alec smiled back at her, thankful he'd not had to pay since there was something going on by the ticket machine.

"Looks like trouble," Rose pointed out.

"Yes so be careful, once the press find out who you are, they will go for you. No holding hands again love, sorry, not until all his is over."

"Yeah, I know and if I'm asked, you just escorted me, if they find out who I am."

"You know it's for the best love. Let's get this over with, stay close but don't grab hold of me eh?"

"They're gonna see my ring Alec, won't it look suspicious?"

"You'll think of something love," he replied as he saw Mark, Beth and Chloe head towards all the reporters who were shouting Beth's name.

"Funny how Beth didn't want the press to forget Danny, now she'll be wishing they'd leave her alone," Rose remarked as they tried to sneak past.

"I would worry more about Ellie Miller saying something," Alec replied as they reached the security check.

"Ya mean because no-one's taking any notice of Olly? Do ya think she'll want to have her say?"

"Oh yes, I think she will, maybe not today since they don't seem to know who she is," Alec replied as he turned around to see Ellie, Lucy and Olly had joined the queue to get inside. "Keep away from them Rose."

Rose intended to but when they got upstairs and were waiting to be admitted, Ellie had other ideas.

"I know what you're up to Rose," Ellie whispered to her.

"What are you talking about?" Rose wanted to know.

"Back off," Alec warned Ellie.

"You know what I'm talking about, both of you. Think you can hide?" Ellie wanted to know.

"No-one is hiding," Alec replied, though he knew Rose would disagree.

Lucy tried to get her sister away.

"Leave it Ell, it'll all come out in court."

That was what Alec was half afraid of. What exactly would come out in court? It wouldn't take long for the defence to point out the star witness for the prosecution was engaged to the officer who arrested the defendant. Now, they had to convince everyone involved they didn't get together until after Rose had told him about Joe Miller and his temper. He'd given Daniels instructions to contact Steven and ask if he'd be prepared to back Rose up on her concerns about Joe, since he'd known her for a lot longer and also the man Joe had argued with and he was hoping they would both agree.

He had an idea Steven would and hoped that would be enough if the other man backed down.

"What did she mean?" Rose asked as they were allowed inside.

Alec didn't want to tell her.

Chapter 28
A/N: Remember – everything in the courtroom will be twisted around as Ellie defends her husband and the defence go for Rose's testimony, trying to discredit her by using her relationship with Alec against her.

They were allowed inside while the charges against Joe were being read out and the opening statements but then people were beginning to leave, including Rose and Alec.

"Won't everyone be wondering, I mean they saw me leaving with you," Rose asked him as they sat down.

"Don't worry about it. There will be other questions before either you or I will be called."

Ellie had followed them out and was sat away from them.

"Seriously, I hope she stays away from me, what if the court officials see her arguing with me?"

"Just stay away from her, if I have to go in before you. What I don't get is that we have had to come out yet others involved were allowed to stay."

"You mean like Beth and Mark?" Rose wondered.

Alec just raised his eyebrows. "If anyone asks, I'm just watching out for you, once you appear in court."

"Well I wish it was all over with. Do ya think they'll call Steven?"

"Yes, maybe not today, he'll have to give evidence about finding Danny on the beach and how he dealt with it. He was in charge Rose but they have his statement, he may be spared. I hope Daniels is talking him into backing you though."

"So do I," Rose tried to smile. "I hope Beth and Mark aren't getting pulled to pieces in there though."

"The defence will not be kind but I think the prosecution will go first."

A while later, people were coming out for a break and Alec saw Ellie's sister go up to her, hoping she wasn't telling his former DS what had taken place. He saw a woman in court attire cross towards himself and Rose.

"DI Hardy?" the woman asked him. Alec nodded. "There are some things we need to go over. Is this the witness for the prosecution?" she gestured towards Rose.

Rose was wondering why she'd not been asked before.

"This is going to be very awkward, since your ex work colleague is defending her husband. The defence are bound to make a play on that fact alone, however, I wouldn't be prosecuting if I thought Mr Miller hadn't got his wife convinced enough that she pleaded with him to change his mind about his guilt. Was she okay up to that point of her husband's arrest?"

"Ask Miss Tyler, they were friends," Alec replied.

"Miss Tyler, we really do need to go over your testimony, I apologise we haven't talked sooner but until Mr Miller changed his plea, I saw no need. It seemed though his defence council was not surprised."

"Did you know about them digging up Danny's grave?" Alec asked her.

"Yes, I'm sorry about that but until the day before yesterday, I wasn't sure I was taking the case, until I found out who would be defending him if he changed his plea. You had best both come and see me after court is adjourned, I doubt either of you will be called today but I need to know everything. There are rumours the two of you are involved."

"The defence has already found out," Alec regretted to say.

"I see? I expect they saw you both at the cemetery the other day?"

"Yes but until former DS Miller opened her mouth and told her Rose here was the star witness, the woman had no idea it was her."

"Ms Bishop is not going to be kind to either of you now she knows," they were warned. "I'll do what I can to point out the fact you are involved is immaterial if I have your assurance your relationship began after Miss Tyler gave you her statement."

"You have my word," Alec replied. "We had obviously met before since she and her partner were at the scene on the beach but it was after she came to see me with her concerns about Joe Miller that we started to get involved."

"You should have waited to get engaged," Ms Knight told him, seeing Rose's ring. "How far on are you Miss Tyler?"

"Around five months or so and no, that's not the reason we got engaged. We wanted to get married but we've had to put it off, thanks to Ellie Miller getting her husband to change his plea."

"Have you any proof of that?" Ms Knight wanted to know.

"No but I wish I had. She refused to believe her husband's guilty, she doesn't believe he has a temper."

"Well it's all dependant on you, since you worked with him and what you said in your statement. We'll be asking your last work partner since you said you mentioned your concerns to him."

"We expected that," Alec told the barrister. "So when do you want to see us?"

"I think I have enough for now, I'll call for you if I need more information. Just one more thing. I need both your assurances you won't discuss the trial at home, apart from your own parts in it. I know it will be difficult but stay away from Mrs Miller."

"I'm trying to but she makes a point of saying something to me," Rose told her.

"If it gets bad then tell me, I'll get a restraining order for her to stay away from you," Ms Knight told her.

When the barrister had walked off, Rose went to sit down again as people were going back into the courtroom.

"So who do ya think will be called first?" Rose grinned.

"I don't want to have to leave you out here if I am called first," Alec admitted, dying to take her hand. "I would imagine though it will be me."

The court broke for lunch, Rose thinking it had been a waste of time being there so far. She was about to regret thinking that as Alec was called.

"Good luck," Rose told him as he got up.

He had a feeling he was going to need it. He was asked various questions by the prosecution about how he came to the conclusion the defendant was the person responsible.

"DI Hardy," Ms Knight began. "Tell us how you were alerted that Mr Miller could have been responsible for Danny Latimer's death."

Alec knew this was it now, everyone would now know he and Rose were together, unless Ellie Miller had already told them.

"His former work colleague came forward to express her concern at Mr Miller's temper."

"Objection," Ms Bishop called out. "There is no proof that Mr Miller has a temper. Is this what he is being accused of?"

"Your honour," Ms Knight addressed the judge. "We have a witness who will attest to the fact Mr Miller showed he had a temper several times and if need be, we have another witness who will state Mr Miller started an argument in a supermarket car park with him. Plus, we have a statement from the witness's last work partner stating she raised concerns with him over Mr Miller's temper."

"Very well Ms Knight, you may continue," the judge told her.

Sharon Bishop just huffed and sat down again. Alec wondered if the barrister was just bluffing. He knew it had all been passed on to her for the prosecution to decide who was called but the man from the supermarket could still refuse, which was why he'd sent Daniels after the man. He knew there would be no problem with Steven.

"DI Hardy. Tell us your reaction to being told Mr Miller had a temper."

Alec wasn't really expecting that.

"It seemed an interesting fact. Danny Latimer was killed by someone in a temper, it was obvious he had argued with someone or he would not have stood there and let someone choke him to death."

"Objection," Ms Bishop stood up.

"Sustained. DI Hardy, please don't speculate, stick to the facts," the judge reminded him.

Alec knew he wasn't going to get an easy ride.

"Yes my lady," Alec had to give in.

"DI Hardy, you interviewed the person who claimed Mr Miller had a temper. When did you act upon it?"

Alec wondered how he was supposed to remember back months ago.

"I acted gradually and looked for more evidence Mr Miller had a temper."

Ms knight seemed to be satisfied though Alec knew the defence wouldn't be. He was asked some more questions then Ms Bishop got up.

"So, DI Hardy, did you look for more signs the defendant had a temper?"

"Yes, the witness told me of a fight he had upon entering a supermarket car park, I had someone find the person who was involved. They signed a statement to the fact Mr Miller waited for them and he laid into the man."

There, Alec thought, chew on that.

"Apart from that incident, did anyone else make a claim Mr Miller lost his temper with them?" Ms Bishop asked him.

"The witness who told me about him had seen him a number of times as he was driving the ambulance and also losing his temper with his wife's nephew."

He could see Ellie stirring in her seat. He bet she didn't even know about that, Olly wouldn't want to embarrass himself by telling on his uncle when he shouldn't have been asking him questions whilst on a call out. He also saw the look on Beth Latimer's face.

Ms Knight got up again. "DI Hardy, was it true a number of events eventually led you to arrest the defendant?"

Alec hoped he wasn't meant to list them all, how many did she want?

"Yes, when Mr Miller was arrested, his computer was examined and he had written a number of emails to Danny Latimer, about them meeting. When interviewed, Mr Miller admitted he had been meeting Danny."

He hated having to recall Joe Miller revealing what happened but he knew he had to. He was just glad Rose wasn't there, looking at Beth Latimer was enough as he recalled the event. He also hated revealing the fact Joe had threatened Rose outside the ambulance station, leading to his arrest.

He was eventually let go after Ms Bishop tried to trip him up.

"So, the witness claims she was threatened to drop the accusations against Mr Miller? Mr Miller maintains he went nowhere near her that morning."

"Well, he had clearly been out when I arrived at his home. He eventually admitted the fact," Alec replied. "He admitted he asked the witness to forget all that had happened, which proves he had a temper. She gave a full statement as to what Mr Miller had said to her."

Alec was relieved to be let go and as soon as possible, he was going to join Rose outside. Daniels was then called to the stand. He was asked various questions to back Alec up but Ms Bishop almost caught him out.

"So the witness was not alone with DI Hardy when she made her statements?"

"No, I was there all the time, except her first visit I believe was to give her statement about finding Danny on the beach but DI Hardy told me about it, then he was joined by the former DS Miller."

Alec breathed a sign of relief, hoping Daniels had got away with it.

Ms Knight had a few more questions for the DC but he was soon let go. The judge called a break and Alec went to join Rose, trying not to seem too friendly but most of the locals already knew about them, it was the jury he had to worry about.

"How did it go?" Rose asked as he joined her.

"Not as bad as I thought but it's early yet. Any trouble with your former friend over there?" he nodded towards Ellie, who had been joined by Olly and her sister.

"No, she's stayed away, she didn't have an audience, did she?" Rose tried to smile.

He knew she was going to be torn apart by the defence but Rose was strong, despite everything that had happened.

"Did they give ya a hard time?"

"No more than I expected. I'm more worried about when it's your turn."

He went back inside, hoping they would call Rose soon but the defence tore into Mark and Nigel, then Beth and the court was dismissed until the following day. Alec saw Ellie's sister talking and hoped she wasn't disclosing what had gone on.

The next day though, Rose was called early on, Alec already being inside.

"Miss Tyler," the prosecution began. "When did you become aware Mr Miller had a temper?"

"When I began working with him, over two years ago, almost three. He'd get annoyed if motorists wouldn't get out of the way when the ambulance siren was sounding and from there, when he was in his own car."

"How do you know it happened in his own car?" Ms Knight wanted to know, Rose thinking that should have been a question for the defence.

"I was a friend of his wife, he would sometimes give me a ride home when I'd been to visit. Then sometimes he would drop me at the supermarket on the way home."

"What made you worried Miss Tyler, about his temper."

"The way he would bang his fist on the steering wheel but it wasn't that that worried me," Rose replied.

Alec knew what was coming next.

"Miss Tyler, tell the court what worried you about Mr Miller's temper."

Rose told the court what she had told Alec, seeing the faces of Mark and Beth and trying to avoid Alec.

"Did you do anything about it?" Ms Knight asked her.

Rose shook her head. "No, he made me feel like I should leave it. The day after, he never said anything about it and I didn't want to upset his wife about it. Only part of what I heard him tell her was true. Once he'd dropped me at the supermarket, I assumed he was going home, I didn't expect to see him there arguing with someone when I got out. I phoned for a taxi, I didn't want him to see me."

"Just one more thing Miss Tyler," Ms Knight told her. "The morning he threatened you outside your place of work. What did you do?"

"I went into the building and my partner asked me what was wrong. The supervisor phoned the police at my partner's insistence."

"That subsequently led to the arrest of the defendant, did it not?" she was asked.

"I was just informed he'd been arrested," Rose replied, wondering if she shouldn't be asking Alec that question.

Ms Knight said that was all, now the fun was about to begin, so Alec thought.

"Miss Tyler, if you were concerned about the alleged temper of a colleague, why wait so long?"

"I was scared he would say something, I had to work with him," Rose replied.

"You were more scared he would tell your friend, his wife," Ms Bishop put to her.

"Yeah, I didn't know if she was even aware he had a temper, I couldn't say anything to her. I began telling my new work partner when Joe Miller stopped working with me. He told me I was best leaving it, at the time, until I admitted what happened in the supermarket car park. Then he said I should have reported it."

"But you never did and you waited until a boy had died, put the two events together and thought to blame Mr Miller for it," Ms Bishop replied.

"I did no such thing," Rose denied. "It did worry me so when I was called in to make a statement on finding Danny on the beach, I got up the courage to tell someone."

"That someone was DI Hardy, was it not? Was he your boyfriend at the time?"

Rose heard people mumbling.

"No, he wasn't. I told him my concern about Joe Miller and left it to him. I told him of the incident and that I felt like Joe had used me, to make his wife believe nothing was wrong."

"Miss Tyler, you are speculating," the judge reminded her.

"Sorry your honour. I heard him over the phone telling his wife I was the reason he was late home when she'd called me to see if we'd been late finishing. I felt to keep the peace I should just go along with it and the next morning, Joe never mentioned or said thanks for backing him up so I left it. It was in the back of my mind that I didn't want him to lose his temper with me."

"But he never lost his temper with you, did he?" Ms Bishop asked her.

"No but he made me feel like he could do, without any warning. He lost his temper with his wife's nephew, right in front of me, I knew what he was capable of. I didn't say anything to his wife, who was then my friend, I didn't think she would believe me."

Ms Bishop carried on. "Miss Tyler, when did you and DI Hardy begin your affair?"

There were more murmurings around the room.

"We weren't having an affair. We began seeing each other after I told him about Joe Miller's temper. Neither of us were married so as such, it wasn't an affair and I resent you saying it was."

"Miss Tyler, while you shouldn't address Ms Bishop like that, I tend to agree. Ms Bishop, you will refrain from calling any relationship Miss Tyler and DI Hardy have as such, understood?" the judge told the defence.

"Sorry, your honour. "Miss Tyler, did DI Hardy, once you were involved, ask you to change your statement?"

"No, every time I was interviewed, another officer was with him."

Rose hoped that would be the end. Ms Bishop sat down but the prosecution got up again.

"One more thing Miss Tyler. Please tell the court exactly how Mr Miller threatened you outside your place of work."

"Objection," Ms Bishop stood up. "Mr Miller denies he was at Miss Tyler's place of work that morning."

"Miss Knight, is there any proof Mr Miller confronted Miss Tyler that morning?" the judge wanted to know.

"Yes, the cab driver who dropped Miss Tyler at work saw Mr Miller's car parked just where she was dropped. The police interviewed him and he gave a statement that as he drove off, he looked through his mirror and saw Mr Miller approach Miss Tyler."

There were murmurings again and Rose wondered where that had come from. It seemed Daniels had dug further than she thought he had.

Ms Knight wanted to carry on so Rose told the court how Joe had threatened her, with his young son in the back of the car.

"Your honour, Miss Tyler feared for herself and still choose to go back to work after the police interviewed her. DI Hardy had enough on the defendant to detain Mr Miller, which then led to Mr Miller admitting the offence and that he was the one who lost his temper and killed Danny Latimer that night."

"Objection," Ms Bishop stood again, Rose wishing they would let her go. "My client has since informed myself he only admitted it because he felt he had to. Now he is proclaiming he is innocent and DI Hardy arrested him on the word of his girlfriend."

The judge had to call the court to order.

"Your honour, that is pure speculation," Ms Knight defended Rose. "As the prosecution, I defended the decision to hold Mr Miller in custody as he did not proclaim he was innocent until fairly recently. We have reason to believe he had his mind changed for him."

"That's a bold statement, Ms Knight," the judge told her. "Ms Bishop, may I remind you that your client admitted his guilt upon his arrest, it's for the jury to decide and therefore, the jury will disregard what has just been said. Mr Miller's lateness in changing his mind will have no effect on the proceedings. The police had enough evidence to arrest the defendant at the time. Miss Tyler, you may step down."

Rose was thankful someone had finally remembered she was standing there but she didn't think that would be the end of it. After lunch, Ellie was finally called and Rose knew neither Ellie or herself were going to enjoy this but she was wrong. This was a very different Ellie to the one she'd been friends with. She wondered though exactly why Ellie had been called to give evidence, Alec hadn't said anything about what they could possibly ask her about but Rose had thought Ellie was more into defending her husband by saying he never showed his temper at home.

So basically, it would be Rose's word against the defendant's wife and Rose didn't like where this was going and the prosecution would have their work cut out for them.

"Mrs Miller," the defence addressed Rose's old friend, since the prosecution had no questions for her. "Did your husband ever show any tendencies of having a temper?"

"No, never. I don't know why he's been accused of having one, by someone who used to be our friend."

Alec was moving in his seat, dying to take Rose's hand.

"Mrs Miller, why would your former friend turn on your husband, when she used to work with him?"

"She's DI Hardy's girlfriend, he believed her," Ellie replied.

"Silence!" the judge called out to those who started talking. "The jury will disregard any statements made about any personal feelings. Mrs Miller, kindly refrain from letting your personal feelings interfere."

Ms Bishop finished and Ms Knight stood up.

"Mrs Miller, is it true you went to see the witness for the prosecution and told her she had got it wrong about your husband and when you'd been to see DI Hardy, you got in to see your husband?"

That was news to Alec. Who the hell had let her in? Heads would roll for that.

"I went to see her because I didn't believe it when Joe told me that she'd turned on him. She was wrong, I've never seen him lose his temper."

"Mrs Miller, did you visit your husband and convince him to change his plea?"

"Objection," Ms Bishop called out. "The prosecution is leading the witness."

"Ms Knight?" the judge addressed her.

"Your honour, Mr Miller didn't change his plea until his wife began visiting him while he was on remand and an officer in the police station admitted letting you see him for a few moments. Was that to get him out by him changing his statement?" Ms Knight asked Ellie.

Alec already knew what he'd be doing when he got back – finding the idiot who had let her in. That though had probably not done the damage.

"I told him to tell me the truth, that he couldn't have killed Danny."

Alec thought no wonder Joe had changed his mind – he'd been brainwashed by his wife into believing it himself. Ellie was let go but then her sister was called, Alec wondering why.

"Ms Stevens, tell the court what you saw the night Danny Latimer was killed," Ms Bishop asked her.

"A man in dark clothing, in the back street. He was putting something into a bin."

"Did you see who this man was?" Ms Bishop ask her. "Was it the defendant, Joe Miller?"

"No, I never recognised the person," Lucy replied.

Lucy was feeling pleased with herself after Ellie had persuaded Joe's defence to put her on the stand. She knew her sister had been disappointed, hoping she'd actually seen who was at the bin in the middle of the night but she'd talked Ellie round by pointing out as long as it wasn't Joe, he had nothing to worry about.

"Your honour, what is the point of this line of questioning?" Ms Knight objected.

"That will become clear, your honour," Ms Bishop told her. "The prosecution are maintaining my client is guilty, I am trying to maintain his innocence. If the person who killed Danny Latimer was panicking, they would try and get rid of any evidence. Therefore, if it was indeed Joe Miller disposing of something, he would have been recognised."

"By his own sister-in-law?" Ms Knight objected, Alec thinking about time as well.

He could see the jury members writing down notes. He didn't see the look on Sharon Bishop's face. She was by no means finished though as she let Lucy Stevens go.

"Your honour, I wish to recall Rose Tyler to the stand," the defence barrister stated.

Alec wanted to squeeze her hand to reassure her but Rose just got up. He knew the defence were trying to catch her out.

"Miss Tyler, what made you finally turn on your friends? Why did you just suddenly decide to tell DI Hardy you claimed you witnessed Mr Miller losing his temper when my client stated there was no such fight in the supermarket car park."

"What?" Rose asked. She had thought that had been covered while she'd been absent.

"I'll remind you. You told DI Hardy that my client ran a red light and almost collided with another car, then when you got out, after you came back out again, you claimed he was fighting with another driver. I put it to you that it wasn't Mr Miller you saw, was it?"

"It was him, if I'd known he was gonna start a fight, I'd never have left him."

"Then if as you claim, you saw him fighting why didn't you try and stop him?"

"He's bigger than me and there were two of them, some other men went to split them up."

"Is it true his wife called you to ask if you had been late finishing work?" she was asked.

Rose was sure that had come up before.

"I was just telling her we'd finished as normal when he walked into his house and I heard him tell her he'd dropped me at the supermarket then waited for me."

"Then I put it to you, why would he have picked a fight, if he claimed he was waiting for you?"

Alec thought so that was why she was changing her tactics? He tried to recall exactly what Joe Miller had said at the time.

"Did you correct his statement Miss Tyler?"

"I kept quiet because I didn't want to upset his wife. I could hear him saying he knew how long women took in the supermarket."

"Then I put it to you that was what he did Miss Tyler, there was no fight, was there?"

"Well if there was no fight, why did I tell my work partner about it, then DI Hardy?" Rose replied.

"Miss Tyler, please refrain from asking questions," the judge warned her.

"Sorry, your honour. When I got out of his car, he was going to write a note to the other driver, he'd no paper so I got out and I went in the supermarket. There was a fight going on when I came out, loads of people were watching."

"Then why did no-one report it? You were in the emergency services Miss Tyler, why didn't you report it?"

"I was scared of what he'd say afterwards, I had to work with him. Both him and the other driver went off and the next day, he never said anything about it. It bothered me all that time and if he was capable of erupting in a supermarket car park, then when I found out how Danny had died, I couldn't just keep it to myself any more."

"Your information led to my client being arrested Miss Tyler, didn't that bother you, the fact you were all friends?"

Ms Knight interrupted. "Objection, the witness's feelings are immaterial."

"I'll allow it, I'm sure the jury will want to know," the judge replied, Rose thinking she shouldn't have expected any less really.

"Yeah, I felt a little guilty but only for my friend, not Joe. I had to live with that, it was a relief to tell someone and the only reason I kept quiet was for my friend's and her kids' sakes. My partner kept saying for me to do something about it, when I told him but I left it."

"Your honour," Ms Knight interrupted. "Her last partner in the paramedics is willing to testify that Miss Tyler did tell him everything that happened in the supermarket and the fact she was worried what Mr Miller would do if she told the police. He will also testify that the day Mr Miller did threaten her, she was very upset and he encouraged the supervisor to call the police when Miss Tyler wanted to leave it."

"I see then," the judge replied. "Ms Bishop, where is this line of questioning going?"

"Just one more thing your honour. Miss Tyler, you were seen several times with DI Hardy, before Danny Latimer died. I put it to you, you were both involved before that day on the beach and you were trying to get your revenge on Mr Miller and since you were involved, DI Hardy believed you."

"What?" Alec muttered, the same time as Rose.

"Yes, we'd met at a few incidents, he'd just arrived in town, it was bound to happen," Rose replied, Alec covering his face.

"According to former DS Miller, he left her one afternoon when they had seen an ambulance to go see if it was you. Is that correct?"

Rose shook her head. "We were outside the harbour newsagents, he came to ask what was wrong, that's all. DS Miller could have asked me what had happened, if she had wanted. As a paramedic, we're obliged to reveal the nature of a callout if asked by a senior police officer. She never asked."

Alec suddenly felt proud of her.

"Did DI Hardy ask what happened?" Ms Bishop wanted to know.

"He wanted to know why we were there. The newsagent, who is now deceased was complaining of a shortness of breath. DI Hardy never asked what was wrong with the man and I wasn't obliged to say what was wrong with the newsagent."

She was sure Alec would be smiling as he recalled the event.

Sharon Bishop seemed like she'd run out of questions – for now. The court was finally dismissed for the day and the next day, the closing statements would begin, so the judge informed them. Once outside though, Alec couldn't stop Ellie having another go at Rose.

"Why are you still insisting Joe started that fight?"

"Leave her alone," Alec warned her, trying to get between them. "She never said he started it, only he was fighting. Oh, that's what he told you and you're trying to hide it?" Alec asked her, just as Ms Knight was looking for them.

"What was that?" Ms Knight wanted to know. "That didn't come up in the questioning so there's only one way you could have known that," she told Ellie, whose sister was trying to lead her away. "He told you he started the fight, Miss Tyler couldn't have known that, when she was in the supermarket. He said at first he left afterwards but you got him to tell you, didn't you? Then you told him to change his plea. You do know you could be charged?"

"Leave it Ellie," Lucy was telling her.

"Joe wouldn't kill Danny, he was just going to warn him," Ellie began. "I didn't know about his temper, I still can't believe he has one. He said he got annoyed with Danny when he was trying to leave the hut. He knew Rose would pick up on it, after he suspected Rose saw him in the car park."

"I think you had better come with us," Alec told her, calling a WPC over. "Caution PC Miller and take her back to Broadchurch, have her write out a statement until Daniels and I get there."

The WPC nodded and took Ellie's arm, just as Daniels came along.

"See to Tom and Fred for me," she told her sister and Olly, who had just joined them and wondered what was going on, his aunt being led away.

"Will she get charged?" Rose asked as they left the building.

"That's up to the chief but she started in front of the prosecution. It may hold things up tomorrow, the defence will get to hear about it though, they may change tactics again and get him to change his plea again, if it all comes out Ellie made him change his mind because she couldn't accept he was capable, the jury will have no choice other than to find him guilty."

"So it could be over tomorrow?" Rose asked as he helped her into the car. "Can we get married then?"

Alec got in and leaned over to kiss her.

"Yes love, best have your mother get ready to come down eh? The town will need cheering up after tomorrow."

He dropped Rose at home then went to join Daniels, who was reading through Ellie's statement.

"Why did you turn on Rose?" Alec wanted to know.

"She told you about Joe's temper and she never told me," Ellie replied.

"Rose was trying to spare you. She thought if he didn't show his violent side at home, you'd be best not knowing about it. She was only thinking of you and you turned on her, not the other way around."

"Will you tell her I'm sorry?" Ellie asked him.

"She knows, she doesn't really blame you. It was only natural you believed your husband over her but he mislead you, you chose to twist it and got him to go along with it but in reality, you were doing exactly what he wanted you to do. I don't think we can charge you with anything other than you being his wife, you were defending him."

"He kept insisting he wasn't there and all along, he was. He told me you made him confess."

"I know, that's because Rose and I are involved. He thought he could use it against us and he got the right defence barrister to believe him. Once the judge sees your statement, she will order the defence to get him to change his plea."

Feeling more relaxed that night than they had in a while. Rose was falling asleep after gently making love, Alec trying not to squash her and said it would be good to get back to normal again.

"We've never done normal," Rose teased him. "When you came to town, all we did was get each other annoyed."

"Then we'll just have to make a new normal then love," he replied, kissing the top of her head. "So, are we having a quiet wedding?"

The next day, there was a delay in the court as the judge read through Ellie's late statement, Alec having sent copies to both barristers as well.

"Ms Bishop, Ms Knight. I have no choice but to not accept Mr Miller's plea of not guilty and therefore, I am going to direct the jury to bring in a verdict of guilty. He lied to yourself, Ms Bishop but it seems you didn't do too much to ask him why he changed his plea. Bailiff, the court may now proceed and I will address the jury."

Rose wondered what had been going on. Ellie was absent but Alec had told Rose her friend wasn't going to be charged with anything.

"I didn't want to fall out with her," Rose was telling him as they sat.

"I know love but maybe she's too embarrassed to come back here today. Why not send her a wedding invitation eh?"

"Sure ya don't mind?"

Alec just smiled and kissed the back of her hand.

"You were friends with her before you met me love. Seems like we are being allowed inside."

A short time later, they were all coming back out. There had only been one closing speech and that was given by the judge, without naming anyone but the Latimers and some of the others knew who had encouraged Joe to change his plea. The jury foreperson stood and declared they had found the defendant guilty, the judge to pass sentence at a closed hearing.

Rose went over to Beth when they got out, putting her arm around her friend as best as she could.

"Did you know she was covering for him?" Beth asked her.

"Alec thought it was something like that but she twisted everything because she didn't think he was capable, even after I stood up and said what happened while I worked with him."

"You had to live with it, all that time?" Mark wanted to know. "Well thanks for doing the right thing and telling on him. We'd never had got to the truth otherwise."

"We would have done but it would have taken a lot longer," Alec told him. "Rose and I are getting married soon, we'd like you to come."

"Yeah, we'll be there, if I'm not in labour," Beth joked.

"Well don't call me, I'm not a paramedic any longer," Rose laughed. "Beth, don't take it out on Ellie, please."

"We'll try not to, if she wants to be friends," Mark replied.

Two weeks later, they were on their honeymoon, Alec never telling Rose that he'd been to get the marriage licence before the trial had taken place because he'd wanted no delay once it was over. They just went down to Cornwall for a few days. The day after the wedding, Alec told her Joe Miller had received a stiff sentence and the Latimers and other people of the town had decided if he ever came back, they would run him out of town.

"Would they really do that?" Rose asked as they lay in bed.

"Well that or they will make life unpleasant for him so he'd want to leave. I don't think Ellie will come back, not now. Time to put it behind us now love, you have the baby to worry about and yes, I'm glad Beth had her baby, I wouldn't want her sending for you by mistake, in the middle of the night. Just one thing though love."

"Mmm, what's that?" Rose yawned.

"I'm glad you never told the court what really happened when we kept getting callouts."

Rose just giggled and replied, "So am I, I almost told ya we must stop meeting like this."

"You would have done if you'd not been so mad with me," Alec smiled.

"Then I guess you'll never know, will ya?"

Alec thought he could live with that.

The End!

Sorry for the long chapter!