Chapter 1: Remembrance
Chapter One Remembrance
Rose whimpered as she sat back from her perch over the toilet. Of all days, of course this would be the day she caught the stomach bug that was harassing the residents of Broadchurch. It had run rampant through the kids and staff at the dance studio, Daisy being one of the last to get it. But no matter how many cans of disinfectant spray and bottles of hand sanitizer she had gone through, Rose had succumbed to the dreaded illness.
She’d been up vomiting since five in the morning. She had wanted to call Alec, but had been torn; on one hand, she wanted him to take care of her, but, on the other hand, she didn’t want him to see her this way. As it turned out, it didn’t matter because she had remembered Alec and Ellie had to go to a deposition in Sybil, the next city over. In the end, the only phone call she had made was to Amy, letting her know she wouldn’t be teaching that day.
She had already known today was going to suck. Her mobile would be going off soon with calls from Donna and Granddad as it did on this day every year. But this bug, on top of everything, took the cake.
Ten years ago, Rose’s parents had died in the London Rail train crash.
The anniversary had always left her feeling bereft and today was no different. She remembered it like it was yesterday. She had gotten out of school and had been heading home to grab her bag for gymnastics practice. She’d had a tournament coming up and had been going to the gym, getting in extra practice time with her coach. Her parents had gone to visit Grandma Prentice in the new nursing home she had been set up in and they had planned on stopping at the gym to collect Rose. From there, the Tyler family of three were to have stopped for a dinner of fish and chips.
Rose had heard the ringing of the telephone through the door as she had rushed to unlock it. Breathlessly, she’d picked up the phone and uttered a quick hello. Words no one would ever want to hear echoed in her brain.
“…Miss Tyler, there’s been an accident…”
Everything had been a blur from that point: calling Rita-Ann to take her to the police station; the chaos in the station of all the family members trying to find out about their loved ones; and finally being led to the overflowing morgue.
She tried to shut the painful images out, but they kept popping up behind her closed eyes. Identifying her parent’s bodies had been the hardest thing she’d ever had to do.
She wanted Alec; wanted to cuddle up into his arms and tell him all about that horrible moment. She’d never told anyone about how she had collapsed onto the floor, sobbing and screaming for her mum and dad. Whenever anyone would ask, she’d just shake her head.
Maybe she would tell him when she was feeling better. Besides, his case load had been hectic lately and Rose didn’t want to waste his precious time.
Rose broke out in the tell-tale cold sweat that signaled more vomiting was coming. She released a tiny cry as she launched herself over the toilet bowl. Her stomach had long since been emptied, except for little sips of water, and what minuscule amount she was able to drink refused to stay down. Painful cramps squeezed her stomach, forcing the water out.
After an excruciating round of dry heaves, Rose lay down on the cold tile floor using a folded flannel as a pillow and a towel as a blanket. She stared at her cup of water, debating on whether or not she should take a sip. Rose knew she should try to hydrate herself, but the thought of maybe getting just a teensy bit of sleep won out. She was exhausted. She could drink something once she was rested.
Detective Inspector Alec Hardy burst through the wooden doors with his partner, Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, hot on his heels.
“That prosecutor didn’t know his brain from his balls! How’d he even get the job?”
Ellie sighed. The young prosecutor had been a bit green and she’d be lying if she said she hadn’t gotten frustrated with him, but Hardy snarking at the lad ‘the next time you even think about asking me a question, I expect you to be out of nappies’ had been a bit harsh.
Deciding it was best if her boss had no further interaction with the staff here at the Sybil courthouse, she went to make sure they were good to leave. Once being assured their presence was no longer needed, Ellie found Alec pacing in the small reception area. A small telly was hanging on the wall, playing the local news.
“Alright, sir.” Alec stopped his agitated movement and turned at the sound of Ellie’s voice with his hands on his hips. “They said they’d contact us with any further questions.”
“I’m almost sorry we helped catch the armed robber. He’s gonna walk free because of the little twerp in there and I don’t want us associated with it. This whole trial will be nothing but an embarrassment!”
Ellie folded her arms across her chest. “I don’t think it’ll be that bad.”
Alec shot her a smirk that said, ‘if you say so’,and turned to leave. Images of a train crash flashing across the television screen caught his attention and he stopped to listen.
“Today marks the ten-year anniversary of the London Rail train crash that claimed sixty-three lives making it the deadliest railway accident since the Longstrain disaster in 1913. The Prime Minister unveiled a monument made from the wreckage with the names of the victims. All morning long, family members, friends, and citizens of London have been leaving flowers in honor of those who lost their lives.”
“Bollocks.” Alec’s curse was too loud for the public space. His poor Rose, what she must be feeling. She must have known what day it was and, if he was being honest with himself, he was a bit hurt she hadn’t spoken to him about it. This had to be a hard day for her. Why hadn’t she come to him? Ultimately, the answer to that question didn’t matter. He was going to make sure she was alright and give her all the comfort or space she needed. “C’mon, Miller. We need to get back. Now!”
Alec was still ten minutes away from the police station when his phone rang. He worked to pull his mobile out of his inner suit pocket, grateful when Ellie held the wheel steady for him. He didn’t want to take his eyes off the road, so he bypassed the caller ID and answered.
“Hello, Alec. It’s Wilf.”
Alec’s stomach clenched with worry and fear; this was not just a social call. In true Hardy fashion, he skipped all bullshit and dove straight in. “Wilf, what’s wrong?”
“Have you heard from Rose today? Donna and I have tried to reach her several times and she’s not answering our calls or texts.”
Alec could hear the distress in the older man’s voice. “No, I haven’t. I’ve been in a deposition all morning. I’m on my way back now to check on her. I saw the news.”
Wilf sighed. “So, you know. It’s always been a hard day for Rose, but she still answers our calls. I know she has her phone off when she teaches but, it’s just not like her to not call back.”
Now Alec was really worried. What if something had happened to his Rose. No! He would not let his mind go down that road. There had to be a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why she wasn’t picking up.
“I’m almost to the station to drop my partner off and then I’m heading over there. I’ll call you as soon as I see her.”
“Thank you. You’re a good man, Alec.”
Tossing his phone into the center console cup holder, he accelerated.
“Is everything alright?” Ellie asked. Since her boss had been in a romantic relationship with Rose, she has noticed a more human aspect to the DI. He laughed more, went on family outings with Ellie and her kids, and took a very active role in raising Daisy (even if it meant missing work). He could still be a proper arse, but less so to those closest to him.
“Today is the tenth anniversary of the London train crash. Rose’s parents were on that train.”
“Oh, the poor dear. And no one’s heard from her?” Alec grunted out an affirmative answer. Ellie turned to look out the windscreen. “Rose wouldn’t even consider doin’ something like self-harm, so I wouldn’t worry about that.”
“I know that, Miller.” There was the condescending shitface everyone knew and loved. “But something is definitely not right.”
“Just let me out at the corner then.” Ellie pointed at an upcoming intersection. “It’s a nice day; I don’t mind the walk.”
“I’m not doin’ that.”
She turned to face him. “Why?”
Alec’s shoulders went up to his ears. “Because I’m just not, alright?”
A slow Cheshire grin spread across Ellie’s face. “Do you care about my safety, sir?”
“What? No, course not. My gran would tan my hide if I didn’t escort a lady to her destination. ‘S just outta respect for her.”
“You’re such a softie.”
“Shut up, Miller.”
Using the key Amy had allowed Rose to give him, Alec got in through the side door and took the stairs two at a time. He pounded on the door.
“Rose? Open up, it’s me!” He knocked again. “Rose!” Still no answer. “I’m comin’ in.”
The flat was dark and quiet. He flipped on the light by the door and his sharp eyes took in every detail. He focused his gaze on the entryway to the loo and his heart stopped.
Rose’s foot was sticking out from where she was obviously lying on the floor.
“Rose!” Alec rushed over, squeezing into the small area, and folding down next to her. She was breathing, thank God, but she was so pale and cold. Her hair was dirty and the strands tangled in a bun were matted to her neck. What little clothing she had on was damp from what he assumed was sweat. There was an almost full glass of water sitting under the sink and a stained flannel next to it. She must have contracted the stomach bug.
Cupping her cheek with a delicate hand, he turned her head towards him. “Rose? Wake up for me, love.”
Her brows furrowed, and she whimpered.
“Come on, Rose. You need to get up off the floor.” Alec grabbed the towel that was covering her but backed up in surprise when she jerked it out of his hands with what little strength she had.
Not once did she open her eyes. If he wasn’t so bloody relieved that she was relatively okay, he would have snapped back. Seeing she was not so keen on getting up, Alec quickly planned what to do. He needed to stay with her, but he also needed to be home for Daisy. So that left one solution: get Rose to his house.
Leaning over, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I’m gonna pack you a bag so we can go to my house. Alright, lass?”
“Don’t wanna move.”
“I know, darlin’, but you have to. I’ll be right back.”
She moaned, and he took that to mean ‘okay’. He set about collecting her accessories and some clothing. She had a good bit at his house, so he didn’t need to pack much. He growled as he shoved her yoga pants in the bag. If Rose would just let him talk with Tess about their living arrangements they wouldn’t be having this issue. But no, Rose had decided it would be better to wait until after they’re married so they wouldn’t even have to deal with the cow.
Alec knew without a doubt Tess would agree to Rose moving in simply because she needed Alec’s approval for her boyfriend, Garrett, to move in with her. The divorce agreement stated unmarried cohabitation could not occur, for Daisy’s sake, without the other parent’s approval. Since Garrett Kelly used to be a good mate of his, he knew the other man’s view on marriage: Garrett was one hundred percent against it. Tess had tried to get away with having Garrett live with her while she had custody of Daisy, but Alec had called her out on it.
Rose’s reluctance to further discuss their living arrangements had not only hurt his feelings, but had brought up his old insecurities of being too old for his younger lover. He didn’t believe she intentionally set out to upset him so he pushed his feelings on the matter to the side.
Peeking in on Rose one more time to make sure she was still sleeping, Alec brought her bag down to his car. He tossed his jacket and tie in the backseat along with her bag and rolled up his sleeves. He sent Daisy a quick text telling her Rose was sick and he was bringing her home.
He was back at his love’s side in a heartbeat. “Rose, I need to get you dressed.” A low grunt was his answer. Carefully, he maneuvered her so he could slip the loose sweatpants over her lower half. He pulled her up until she was sitting, cradling her body against him for a moment to steady her. Bleary, brown eyes met his. He brushed her hair away from her face. “There’s my lass.”
“I don’t feel good.” Rose nuzzled herself closer to his warm body.
“I know.” He draped a cardigan around her shoulders. “Do you think you can stand?”
“Yeah, I should be good.”
Keeping an arm around her waist, he helped her to stand. The endeavor seemed promising, but one step in and she was wavering. He scooped her up in a bridal carry, thankful he had started swimming again. The increased strength in his arms was coming in very handy, right now. Besides, it was important for him to keep healthy. It had absolutely nothing to do with wanting to stay on top form so he could keep Rose satisfied in the bedroom. Nope!
“How is she?” A soft Scottish burr made him turn towards the door leading directly to the studio. Amy walked towards him. “I’ve just now been able to come up and check on her.”
“I just got here myself. Can you help me get her down to my car?”
Amy handled the doors for Alec and he had Rose in his car in no time. “Thanks, Amy. I doubt she’ll be in tomorrow.”
The ginger woman gave the DI a hug (something he was still getting used to) before stepping back in the shelter of the building, protecting herself from the biting wind. “That’s fine. I’ll lock up her flat. Just have her text me tomorrow and don’t hesitate to call if you need anything, Detective Inspector Hardy.”
Alec took the smoothest route possible to his house, wanting to disturb Rose as little as possible. The sight of a concerned Daisy standing in the doorway of their house melted his heart. Rose and his daughter had grown quite close. Tess had all but abandoned Daisy for unfounded reasons and Rose had taken the teenager under her wing, showering her with the maternal love Daisy craved.
He walked over to Rose’s side of the car, opened the door, and knelt in front of her. She gave him a weak smile which he returned. “We’re here. Wrap your arms around my neck.”
She did as she was told, and he hefted her light frame up into his arms. Daisy appeared, grabbing Rose’s bag and Alec’s clothes before closing the car doors.
“‘M tired,” Rose mumbled.
“I know, lass. You can go back to sleep in just a bit.” Alec may have been in the best shape of his life but, right now, he was grateful his bedroom was on the ground floor. He set her down on the bed and went about removing the cardigan and sweatpants. “Okay, love, you can lie down now.”
She surprised him by shaking her head. “Nuh-uh. ‘M all manky. Don’t wanna get the bed dirty.”
Alec didn’t get a chance to argue with Rose. Daisy came in with a plastic tumbler. “Hey, Rose. I got you some ginger ale here for you to sip. We had it left over from when I had the bug. It shouldnae be too rough on your stomach.”
“Ta, sweetheart.” Rose sipped the ice-cold beverage praying whatever she drank would stay down. She hadn’t thrown up in a while and was hopeful she was on the mend. The liquid felt heavenly going down her sore throat.
A car horn honked, close to the house. “Who the bloody hell is that?” Alec grumbled.
“It’s probably Matilda’s dad. He’s giving us a ride to dance. I figured you’d wanna stay here with Rose.”
“Oh. Well, I’ll walk you out, Flower.” He turned to Rose. “I’ll be right back, lass.”
She waved at the Hardys and resumed nursing the ginger ale.
Rose looked so young and small sitting on his bed and it reminded him of his promise to call Wilf.
He saw Daisy off and went in search of his mobile. It took him a minute to find where Daisy had tossed his jacket, but he was ringing Wilf shortly after.
“She’s fine, Wilf. She’s caught the stomach virus that’s been goin’ ‘round. ‘S why she didnae answer. I have her here at my house.”
“Thank God she has you to look out for her. Could you tell her me and Donna send our love and that we’ll call her tomorrow?”
With a promise to relay the message, Alec rang off. When he entered his bedroom, Rose was nowhere to be seen, but he heard her piddling around in the en suite. He knocked on the partially closed door.
“You can come in.” He entered just as she turned on the tap. She was perched on the side of the tub. “Just gonna take a quick bath. I don’t think I could stand long enough in a shower.”
Once the water was at her preferred temperature, Rose plugged the drain and stood. The bending and standing was too much for her fragile physical state. She stumbled to the side, too unsteady to correct herself.
Alec was there, wrapping her up against his side. “Whoa, now. I’ve got ya.”
Rose pressed her face into his chest. “Sorry. ‘M just so dizzy.”
Pressing a kiss to the top of her head, he cautiously had her stand on her own. “I know, love. Let me help you, alright?”
She looked so precious, nodding and rubbing one eye. His lass was so tired. Undressing her went quickly since she’d had on little clothing. He waited until she was lounging in the tub before he tackled the mess that was her hair, gently working the elastic out.
“Thank you, Alec,” Rose whispered, eyes closed.
He leaned over her and kissed her forehead. “Don’t thank me, Rose. Not for something I’m happy to do. I’m just sorry you’re sick today of all days. Wet your hair for me.”
Rose slipped below the water’s surface, saturating the strands. She stayed quiet until Alec began working the mango scented shampoo into a lather. “Today’s always bad, but it bein’ the ten-year anniversary, everyone’s makin’ it a big deal again. ‘S all bein’ shoved in my face.”
He massaged her temples for a minute before bringing up the thing that had been bothering him since he saw the news. “Why didn’t you remind me? I would’ve taken the day and spent it with you.”
She ducked down and rinsed out the shampoo. When she emerged, she sat up hugging her knees and resting her cheek on one leg. “Can we talk about this later? Please?”
“Yeah. Sure.” He left the bathroom to get her a towel, trying to hide his hurt feelings. Alec had been more upfront with her than he had ever been with anyone. He trusted her and he’d thought she trusted him. Why wouldn’t Rose talk to him?
Chapter 2: Invitations
An emotionally heavy chapter, but there is fluff!
TenRoseForeverandever is the best beta ever!!!!
Chapter Two Invitations
Rose did not want to wake up, but the hunger pains were becoming insistent. Rolling over to her other side, she snuggled down further into the fluffy covers. Her stomach growled quite loudly making her wrinkle her nose. She was going to have to get up; there was nothing for it.
The stroke of fingers over her hair made her jump. The fingers stopped, but the hand stayed resting on her head, calming her.
She pried her sleep-heavy lids open and met the concerned gaze of her fiancé. She had completely forgotten she was at Alec’s house. She smiled up at the sight of him shirtless, and propped up on a few pillows with his glasses on and a book in his other hand.
“Hey.” Her whisper was extremely soft due to her raw throat. “What time is it?”
“Just after two a.m. How’re you feelin’?”
“Tired an’ hungry.”
“I made you some chicken soup. It’s Granny Daisy’s recipe and has been known to cure just about anything. Want me to warm you some?”
“That would be lovely. ‘M gonna go to the loo. I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”
Alec marked his spot in his book and removed his glasses, setting them on top of the tome. “I can bring it to you in here.”
Rose sat up slowly with, she was pleased to note, only a mild bout of dizziness. “Thanks, but I wanna get up. Move around, you know.”
She took her time making her way to the loo, not wanting to risk passing out. She hated feeling weak. Cautiously, she ran her hand along the wall as she ventured on shaky legs towards the front of the house. When she finally entered the kitchen, she sat at one of the stools, and studied Alec. He was stirring what she assumed was her soup in a small pot on the stove.
Rose wasn’t blind. She could tell Alec had been hurt by her not calling him in her time of need. She’d had every intention of talking to him about the anniversary of the train crash and the invitation she’d gotten regarding the memorial, but he had such a hectic and unpredictable schedule.
She sighed. She needed to talk to him, but if she waited for the right time, she probably would never get the chance. The kettle’s piercing whistle snapped her out of her thoughts.
“I wasn’t tryin’ to shut you out or anythin’.”
Alec said nothing. She watched him as he prepared their tea, wondering what was going through his head. He sat next to her at the kitchen island and they both stared at their mugs. Tapping her fingers on the warm ceramic, Rose summoned her nerve to continue.
“I was plannin’ on talkin’ to you after we were both off work, but then I woke up sick as a dog. I wanted to call you, but I knew you had that thing for court. Didn’t think I’d be as sick as I was.” She gulped down some tea, enjoying the feel of it warming her insides, and soothing her throat. Setting down her mug, she leaned her head on his shoulder. “I didn’t want to bother you. You have such an important job, yeah? I feel bad for takin’ you away from it.”
It was a relief when Alec pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I used to put everyone and everything second. Never again, Rose. You and Daisy are my everything. I love you.”
“I love you, too, an’ I’m sorry I hurt you. I didn’t mean to.”
He blessed her with another kiss. “I know that now. Thank you, lass. Let me get your soup.”
She talked as he moved around the kitchen. “I got somethin’ in the mail a couple weeks ago. The CEO of the train company sent out invitations to the family members of the victims. They’re having a banquet this Saturday and it’s gonna be followed by a candlelight vigil around the new monument.”
Alec set a bowl of soup in front of her. “Do you wanna go?”
Stomach growling, Rose fed the starving beast. She moaned as the flavor exploded in her mouth. “God, Alec, this is so good!” Another bite. “Sooooo good!”
He chuckled. “I’m glad you like it, lass.”
“Like it?” She asked with a mouthful of noodles. “There’s no like about it. I’m gonna call Granny Daisy and thank her myself for teachin’ you to make this.”
Silence filled the kitchen as Rose devoured her soup and Alec munched on a ham sandwich he’d made.
Fatigue was started to drag her down again, slowing her movements. Alec noticed. “You alright?”
“Yeah, just gettin’ tired.” She wiped her mouth. “Weren’t we talkin’ about somethin’?”
“Huh?” Alec leaned on his arms and looked at her as he replayed their earlier conversation in his head. “Oh, yes. The banquet. Did you wanna go?
Rose was about to respond when a jaw-cracking yawn interrupted her. “Sorry,” she breathed out. “Yeah, I think I would. Would you go with me?”
“Aye, lass. It would be an honor to accompany you. Now, go on. Go get back in bed. I’ll clean this mess up and join you.”
She stood and kissed the crinkles near his left eye. “Don’t be long, my love.”
Alec made quick work of the kitchen, wanting to get to bed himself. He was exhausted. He’d been unable to sleep after Rose had drifted off. He had been too worried over her possibly waking up to vomit, but he’d also been upset over the fact that she had pushed away his attempt at talking with her. He felt relieved she wasn’t doing it on purpose. She hadn’t wanted to bother him and that had been a misconception he had been quick to squash.
He turned out the kitchen light and ran upstairs to peek in on Daisy. Seeing his little girl was sleeping soundly, he made his way back down to Rose.
His love was already out. He climbed in the bed, spooning up tight behind her. He said a quick prayer for Rose to keep her food down before drifting off himself.
A ringing mobile woke Alec up for the second time that morning. The first had been Amy calling to check on Rose. He didn’t know who was calling now, but he was cursing them as he reached for the phone.
“Hardy,” he growled into the offending piece of plastic, glass, and metal.
“Imagine my surprise when I call the Broadchurch Police Department to speak to yeh and I find out yeh took a personal day! There’s no way Hardass Hardy took a personal day, no sir!”
The raspy Scottish brogue made Alec smile. “Vicious Victor, to what do I owe the pleasure of you actually using a phone?”
Victor Campbell was Alec’s former partner in Sandbrook. They had been an unstoppable team, having an unprecedented ninety-seven percent success rate getting full confessions. They had been working together less than six months when they were christened with their nicknames: Hardass Hardy and Vicious Victor. The pair were infamous for their roles as “bad cop” and “worse cop”. To this day, the Sandbrook Police Academy used audio examples of their interrogations for training classes.
“Well since yeh couldnae be arsed to call me since my heart attack four months ago, I figured I’d be the bigger man.”
“You always were the bigger man. ‘S what led to the heart attack, aye?”
“You’re such a bastard. God, I miss yeh!” Victor cleared his throat and spoke before Alec could respond. “Enough blatherin’. I called yeh for a reason, but I havetae ask: why the bloody hell are yeh taking a personal day?”
“Rose was sufferin’ from a stomach virus.” He looked over at the object of his affection, taking in her slumbering form and grinned. “I couldnae leave her.”
“Awww, aren’t yeh a sweet little lover-boy. But I’ve no room to talk. ‘Tis the reason I’m callin’. ‘M gettin’ married.”
“Really? What poor lass did you con into marryin’ you?”
“Gemma? The woman you dated, what, ten years ago?”
“Aye. After the heart attack I knew I needed to get back in shape. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy. Not even Tess!”
Victor never made his dislike for Tess a secret. He had tolerated her for his partner’s sake, but her betrayal was the final nail in the coffin.
“It must’ve been rough.” Alec lowered his voice some more when Rose shuffled around a bit.
“Aye, it was. I signed up with a personal trainer two months ago and imagine my surprise when Gemma came walkin’ out. It was like we’d never separated. We’re both in better places now than we were back then an’ don’t wanna be without one another.”
“Congratulations, Victor. I’m happy for you.” Alec really was happy for his friend. Finding love again after losing hope was like being reborn. He knew that first hand.
Rose snuggled closer to him, burrowing until she worked her way under his arm. Throwing her own arm around his waist, she kissed his chest. Her voice was thick with sleep. “Who we happy for?”
Alec tilted the mobile away from his mouth. “Victor’s gettin’ married.”
“That’s wonderful,” Rose slurred, dozing back off.
Smirking, he returned to the conversation with his friend. “Rose just woke up a bit, said she’s happy for you.”
“Make sure yeh bring her to the weddin’ since yeh’ll be there as my best man. I wanna meet this lass of yers.”
Alec was honored Victor wanted him as his best man. After all, Victor had been his when he married Tess. He had actually asked in the same manner: simply stating it as fact.
Alec had walked into the department’s break room to make a cup of coffee while Victor had been eating a scone.
“You’ll need to press yer kilt, Victor. You’re tae be my best man so get on it.”
“Just tell me when and where and we’ll be there.”
“The invitation is goin’ out tomorrow.”
“You know what? I think I changed my mind. I don’t wanna go in. Let’s just head back to the hotel and pick up Daisy. It was stupid to come to London.”
Alec closed the door to the atrium he’d been holding open and turned to Rose. She stood back from the entrance, by a raised flower bed, fisting her hands into her skirt. It was one of his favorite dresses on her: solid navy-blue wrap-style top with a full skirt with white and navy flowers. He didn’t want her to ruin it, so he walked over and pulled her hands from the fabric.
Rose had been wavering back and forth since they’d left Broadchurch that morning. She wanted to see the monument with her parent’s names on it but sitting at a table with a bunch of strangers, with whom she had only a horrible tragedy in common, didn’t appeal to her. Everyone would want to talk about whom they had lost, where they had been that day, and how it had affected their lives. She’d finally told Alec the whole story and that had been emotionally exhausting. In no way did she want to relive the experience so soon.
“Rose.” Alec squeezed her hands in his, urging her to look up at him. Tears lined her eyes, threatening to spill over.
“I know. You must be so cross with me. I mean, I dragged you an’ Daisy down here for nothin’. I’m sorry. I thought I could do it, but I can’t. ‘M afraid. And-”
Alec shook his head as he wiped a stray tear from her cheek. “If you would shut up for one second, lass, you’d find out that I’m no’ cross an’ that I have an idea, aye?”
Rose sniffled and nodded.
Alec kissed the top of her head. “Wait here.”
She watched as he disappeared into the atrium where the banquet was being held, chewing her thumbnail the entire time he was gone. Nodding politely to the patrons who passed her, she waited for Alec. When he exited, he simply held out his hand and said, “Come on.”
She didn’t ask what he had done, just followed, trusting whatever Alec had planned. As they neared his car, Alec pulled out his mobile and placed a call.
“Hello, Flower. Rose and I are on our way back to pick you up. I’ll call when I’m pullin’ up to the hotel… Everythin’s fine… Yeah, it was. Alright, darlin’. See you soon.”
Rose watched him with curious eyes. Alec never ceased to amaze her. He was absolutely brilliant, intelligent, and cunning. He could be so blunt and rude, and didn’t suffer fools lightly, but deep inside, he really did have a heart of gold. In the year they’d been together, she got to see firsthand the love and loyalty he held for those closest to him. She had also witnessed him running himself ragged trying to solve a case, giving his all to the individual who had been wronged. The depth of his character knew no bounds.
Picking up Daisy from the hotel and arriving at their destination didn’t take long. Upon exiting the car, Rose took in her new surroundings: a flower garden in the middle of a park, multicolor blooms spread throughout the space. News cameras and reporters were barricaded behind metal gates. Security officers combed the area, making sure nothing was disturbed. Everyone’s focus surrounded a white marble double layer platform that had a matching arch.
Sitting under the arch was a metal patchwork heart. The structure had been made from the wreckage and displayed an assortment of colors: steel gray, blue, and black. Some pieces had rusted over the years while others were marred with dents and scratches. In the center of the heart, a sparkling ball of reconstructed broken glass reflected the lights shining down on the monument. All around the solid heart were the names of the victims, forever etched in history.
Seeing the tribute to the people lost on the train caused Rose’s heart to swell with more emotions that she knew what to do with. She took in a deep breath, hoping to keep her tears at bay.
Alec excused himself and made his way to the nearest uniformed officer. Rose smirked at his ‘detective swagger’ as she had dubbed it. It had sounded so much cooler than ‘aggressive, self-confident strut’.
A few words were exchanged, and Alec waved Rose and Daisy over. The three of them skirted around the barricades and traversed the rest of the way to the monument in silence. Alec grabbed onto Daisy’s hand, pulling her to his side, letting Rose approach the monument alone.
Alec had done this for her. He had set up a private moment for her, knowing it was what she needed. God, she loved this man.
The closer Rose got to the monument, the harder her tears fell. It had been ten years but, on certain days, it felt like she’d lost her parents only yesterday. Being bombarded by news clips, the invitation to the banquet, and now standing before actual wreckage of the crash that had taken her mum and dad, the wound was as fresh as it had been the day they had died.
Searching the names hadn’t taken but a second. Her eyes were drawn to them: Peter and Jacqueline Tyler. Rose covered their names with her hand and wept.
Alec watched as sobs racked his love’s body and could hold back no longer. She’d had her moment alone and now she needed him. He rushed over to her and cradled her to his chest.
“It’s okay, lass. I’m here.” Alec kept his voice low, pressing kisses to the top of her head. Daisy picked that moment to wrap her arms around Rose from the other side. Alec gave his beautiful daughter a small smile. “We are here. You’re not alone anymore, Rose. We love you so much.”
“Da’s right. You’re a part of our family now.”
Rose cried harder, completely overwhelmed by the love she had for Alec and Daisy. Oh, how she wished her mum and dad could see her. She knew, without a doubt, they would be proud of her and so happy for her. Alec reached his arms around Daisy as well and gave them both a squeeze.
“Ouch!” Rose pulled back, rubbing above her left breast. “What do you have in your pocket?”
“I forgot! Here.” He reached into his inner pockets and pulled out three small, silver, square plates that were engraved with the date. He handed them out, Rose holding what would be his plate, while he dug in his side pocket of his jacket. In his large hand he held three small tea light candles. “I picked up one for each of us at the banquet. I thought we could have our own candle light vigil.”
He placed a candle on each plate. “Matches, Flower?”
“Aye.” The teen reached into her handbag, rummaging around until she pulled out a plain black book of matches.
“Why on Earth do you have matches?” Rose asked incredulously.
“Da’ said to always have matches because you never know when you’ll need to start a fire.”
“That’s right, darlin’. I’ll get you some for your handbag, Rose.”
Rose shook her head in fond exasperation as Alec lit the three candles.
Together, as a family, they stepped forward and sent their love to those who Rose had lost, and mourned the two souls Alec and Daisy would never meet. And not a single one of them were aware of the photographers capturing the moment.
Rose stepped out of the en suite, fresh from the shower and rubbing moisturizer on her face. She smiled at the scene before her. The hotel had two queen beds and on one lay Alec and Daisy, on their stomachs, as she showed him a video on her mobile.
“Whatcha lookin’ at?” Rose asked, sitting on side of the bed.
“I’m showin’ Da’ the video of me practicin’ for the Christmas pageant. I know it’s, like, three months away but I want it to be perfect. Granny Daisy’s comin’ to see it.”
Rose brushed the young girl’s plait off her shoulder. “She will love it no matter what because you’re in it. You could stumble and fall, and she’d cheer you on.”
“Don’t say that, Rose!” Daisy fussed, getting up on her knees.
“Why not? It’s the truth. Perfection doesn’t exist. Do the best you can do ‘cause that’s what makes the dance yours.”
Alec stood from his spot on the bed. “I think Rose is right.”
“Of course you do,” Daisy laughed.
“The dance was gorgeous, Flower. I can’t wait to see it live. Now, go on an’ get in bed. We’re gonna have to get up early if we want to see some of Rose’s old home before headin’ out.”
“Da’, I’m fifteen now. I think I can stay up a wee bit later. I wanted to watch a movie on my mobile. I’ve got headphones.”
“Fine, but if you’re more difficult to wake than Rose, you’ll be sorry.”
“Oi!” Rose exclaimed as she was getting her and Alec’s bed ready.
“Come on, Da’. Nobody is harder to wake than Rose.”
“I’m right here!”
Alec and Daisy laughed at Rose’s pout. They laughed even harder when she stuck her tongue out at them.
“Ha. Ha. Hilarious Hardys. When’s the comedy tour?”
“I’m thinkin’ after the New Year.” Daisy commented nonchalantly as she put her earbuds in.
“Cheeky girl.” Rose blew Daisy a kiss and climbed in bed just as Alec walked over to her. He leaned down to kiss her. “Oh, no you don’t, Detective Inspector! You can take your sarcastic Scottish arse right into the shower.”
He tackled her on the bed, rubbing his coarse beard against her turned cheek. Rose squealed with laughter, absolutely loving when Alec got all silly.
He held her down on the bed, pressing his forehead to hers. “I’ll have my kiss now.”
She huffed in faux exasperation. “Alright, fine!” Puckering her full lips, she gave him an obnoxiously loud smooch.
Alec gave her another kiss, this one tender, before he heaved himself up and strolled into the en suite. Rose smiled to herself as she settled in the white fluffy linen.
“You two are so cute. ‘S kinda disgustin’ actually.” The teenager had sat up and was now staring at Rose with a furrowed brow.
Rose rolled her eyes. “Good night, Daisy.”
Daisy turned off the lamp by her bed and lay down. “Night, Rose… love you.”
Head jerking up, Rose met the teen’s eyes. It was the first time Daisy had said the words herself. Alec had told Rose his daughter loved her, but the sentiment had never been said just between the two of them. A soft grin spread over Rose’s face. “Love you too, darling.”
Daisy smiled before rolling over to face the other side to watch her movie.
Rose plopped down in bed. What a day! They had left the memorial just as more reporters had started showing up. She had been hesitant to ask, but Alec had been more than willing to take her to visit her parent’s graves. Once there, she’d knelt down on the ground and picked the weeds around the dual headstone. Surprisingly, she’d shed no tears; she’d simply told her parents she loved them.
Having been emotionally spent, the three of them had decided to eat a quick dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. Daisy had expressed interest in seeing where Rose had grown up, and so they’d decided to do a mini tour in the morning before heading back to Broadchurch.
Having the support of Alec and Daisy meant the world to Rose. Lying there, in a bed in a London hotel, she realized she wanted to be with them always. She was ready to give up her flat and move in with them. She was ready to be his wife and Daisy’s step-mum.
She knew every time she’d put off discussing the wedding with Alec it had hurt him. He’d eventually stopped bringing it up. She hadn’t been ready. Fear had held her back. The last time she had lived with a bloke had been an epic failure. She had thought she’d been in love and had trusted her heart only to be robbed and evicted. She had been stupid, plain and simple. Not anymore.
All she seemed to do was hurt him when that was the absolute last thing she’d want to do. It was time for that to change. She would tell him tonight.
Rose jumped when Alec wrapped his arms around her from behind.
She turned in his arms and placed her hands on his chest. “Yeah. Was just lost in thought, I guess.”
Alec pulled the duvet up around them and they snuggled deep into each other’s embrace. Breathing in her lover’s scent, Rose spoke her desire.
“Let’s get married next month.”
Pushing up on his elbow, Alec studied her face in the dark and she hoped he saw all the love she felt for him there in her eyes that shone with tears. He threaded his long fingers into her hair. “You mean it?”
Cupping his bearded cheeks, she pulled him down until their lips were mere centimeters apart and whispered, “Yes. I don’t wanna be without you any longer.”
If Alec had seen in her eyes how much she loved him, she definitely felt how much he loved her in his kiss.
Chapter 3: Unstoppable
Fluff and some NSFW smut. These two are head over heels for each other!
TenRoseForeverandever beta'd this. I know I say it a lot but I don't care: She is AMAZING inside and out!
Chapter Three Unstoppable
Daisy and Rose sat in the coffee shop next to the hotel to wait for Alec. He had stayed behind to check them out of the hotel and load up the car. The waiter brought over their drinks and pastries, eyes flickering between the two of them just a bit too long for Rose’s taste. She frowned at the man. Honestly, she didn’t care if he stared at her, but she didn’t like how he kept looking at Daisy. Before she could comment, the door swung open and Alec strolled in like he owned the place, a newspaper in hand. The young waiter nodded at her and scurried away.
Daisy leaned over and whispered to Rose. “That was weird. People‘ve been givin’ us looks all mornin’.”
“I know. I have no idea what’s goin’ on.” She smiled up at Alec, accepting the quick peck to her lips. “All set?”
“Aye. I take it the two of you didnae see the paper?”
Rose furrowed her brows. “No, why?”
Alec sat and plopped the paper down in front of the girls. Front center page had the title ‘A Picture of Love’ above a photo of Rose, Alec, and Daisy holding each other at the memorial. The photographer had caught the moment Daisy had joined the embrace. Alec had his lips pressed to the crown of Rose’s head and his arms around both of them. You couldn’t see too much of Daisy’s face because of the angle of the picture, but what you could see of the teen was serene. Rose had her head buried into Alec’s chest with her hand still over her parent’s names. Tears coated Rose’s cheeks as she let loose her grief. The overall effect was breathtakingly beautiful; a picture of a family giving support to one another.
Rose stared, open mouthed, at the front page. It had been one thing to livethe wildly emotional moment, but to see it was another. The way Alec held her and Daisy, it was obvious to all who laid eyes on the photo that he cherished these two beings more than life itself. And that was exactly how Rose felt: cherished.
“No wonder people‘ve been starin’ at us all mornin’.” Daisy mused.
“They have?” Alec looked around the coffee shop. “Has anyone approached you?”
“No, Da’. Stop worryin’.” Daisy laid a hand on Rose’s arm, startling her. “Sorry, Rose. Are you alright?”
Rose blinked and looked up at both Hardys. “Yeah. Yeah, ‘m fine. ‘S just a gorgeous picture. It explains why that bloke asked us if he could use any pictures he wanted for his article.”
“Well, as Daisy is a minor, he had to ask for permission. You’re not angry?”
Rose looked at her fiancé incredulously. “Why on earth would I be angry? Do you think if we contacted the paper, we could get a digital copy? I’d love to have this framed.”
A slow smile spread across her handsome Detective Inspector’s face. “I’ll work on that. The article itself is nice, but we can read it later. We’ve got to get movin’.
She grabbed his arm as he started to stand. “Hold on, mister! I’m gonna finish my breakfast first. Trust me, the tour of my childhood won’t take long at all so sit.”
“Fine,” he grumbled. “At least you got me my favorite scone.”
“And it was the last one. Nearly had to fight off that old lady over there.”
“It’s not every day you’d find a lass willin’ to break someone’s hip for you. How did I get so lucky?”
“I gave you a second chance.”
Alec nodded and bit into his scone. “Amen to that.”
The large, six story, concrete square of a building loomed over them. The bright yellow paint had faded even more so since Rose had been a teenager. Most of the windows were cracked or broken, with some even boarded up. As if she had never left, Rose was able to locate her old window and smiled when she saw a young child’s drawings taped up in the distance.
The playground in the courtyard had overgrown grass throughout. When she had lived there, the swing set had always been crowded, all four in use, but now only one swing remained. Broken chains marked were the other three had been. The slide had rusted through in spots. She had such wonderful memories of playing with her parents on sunny days. One of her favorites was when she and her mum sat on one end of the see saw and her dad sat on the other. Tears started to pool in her eyes as she got lost in her thoughts.
Alec’s voice brought her back to the present. “It got a little worse for wear over the years, aye?”
“Yeah, but honestly, it hasn’t changed that much. Mainly just the play park.” With one last look, Rose started towards the car. “C’mon an’ I’ll show you where I used to teach.”
“I’m almost done here, lass. Did Daisy and the girls leave yet?” Alec asked into the mobile perched between his shoulder and ear. He was quickly putting together the finishing touches on a domestic disturbance, in a rush to get out of the office. He and Rose had the whole weekend coming up to themselves.
“Yeah, Amy was runnin’ around pullin’ her hair out, as usual. For someone so organized, she flips at the last minute. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever understand that girl.”
“I don’t think you’re the only one who thinks that.”
That weekend, the ballet company were traveling to London to participate in a workshop. While Rose did teach ballet, the ballet company had been a special project of Amy’s, and Rose had reassured the ginger that she didn’t mind sitting this one out. Alec had been glad for that. He was selfish and wanted his Rose to himself since last weekend had been spent sharing a hotel room with his fifteen-year-old daughter. But, besides wanting to be alone with Rose, he was extremely proud of Daisy for making the company.
“Yeah, well. She’s good at what she does. Oh, I wanted to tell you Rory did get off, so he is driving them.”
“Good.” He smirked when Rose sighed over the line. The argument between him and Rose about women being capable of going somewhere without a man had been an interesting one. “What time do you want me to pick you up?”
“Would you mind meeting me at the athletic club later? I landed wrong during one of my private lessons and wanted to take advantage of their hot tub.”
“I don’t see why not.” Alec checked his watch. “I might actually get a few laps in myself.”
“Gonna wear the swimsuit I got ya?”
He could hear her tongue touched grin and flushed. “Rose…”
“You promised, Alec,” she whinged.
He signed heavily. “Fine, ya manipulative besom!”
“You know you love me.”
“Aye. See you soon, lass.”
Rose sank down into the hot, bubbling water and fought back what was sure to be an inappropriate moan… for public consumption anyway. She rolled her right shoulder, hoping that, in conjunction with the heat, would work out the tightness in her muscles.
The room was full of thick, warm steam coming from not only the jacuzzi, but the heated indoor swimming pool as well, causing the large wall of windows facing the rest of the gym to fog over.
Rose couldn’t wait to see if Alec actually wore the swimming costume she had gotten him. When she found out he’d been swimming in baggy trunks she had gone online and ordered him a suit. It was a boxer-board-shorts mix in navy blue with a white band at the top. The suit hugged his delectable bum and stopped well above mid-thigh. He had modeled it for her, and with the glare he tossed at her and his scruff, he looked like one of the men in those work-out magazines. Rose wasn’t ashamed to admit she may have drooled a bit.
Now that she had time to really think about it, it might not have been a good idea to buy her sexy Detective Inspector a swimsuit like that.
The door leading to the pool room opened and Rose turned her head, hoping it would be Alec. She was not disappointed, but she had to stifle a laugh at the larger-than-large towel he had wrapped around his waist.
“What’s with the towel?”
Alec stood near the locker room door and winced. “I don’t think I can wear this, lass. It shows an awful amount of, of… of me.”
Turning fully, Rose climbed to her knees and rested her elbows along the edge of the hot tub. “The only difference from your green one is the leg length. You look amazin’ in it, but if you’re really uncomfortable, change. I’ll never make you do somethin’ you’re not alright with.”
He studied her, and she could see the indecision in his eyes. He looked down at his lower half then back at her. “You sure I look alright?”
She reached out for him. He walked over to her and took her hand. “I wish you could see how gorgeous you are.”
Alec sighed, but still unwound the towel from his waist. At the sight of his trim abdomen and toned legs, Rose bit her bottom lip. Fuck, he’s sexy… and hangin’ to the right today. She had been correct: she shouldn’t have gotten him the suit; at least to wear in public.
A deep chuckle rumbled in Alec’s chest as he used his thumb to free her lip from her teeth. “I take it you still like the suit?”
“Mm-hm. I’m just wondering who else is gonna like it the way I do.”
“Now you know how I feel about you.” He ran his hungry gaze over her plain red halter style two-piece. With a buss to her lips, he dropped his towel next to hers on a chair she had commandeered and gracefully dove in the pool.
Content to watch her lover swim, Rose relaxed back in the hot water. She admired the flex and pull of the muscles in his back and strong arms. She couldn’t wait for those arms to hold her tonight.
Rose missed him during the week. They saw each other as much as they could, but she found she couldn’t wait to be Mrs. Hardy. To wake up to his gorgeous face every morning and fall sleep wrapped up against his body was all she wanted.
She started feeling lightheaded, and realized she’d been in the jacuzzi too long, and got out. Her shoulder was still sore, but the tightness had gone. Alec was still exercising so Rose walked to the edge of the pool and sat, legs dangling in the lukewarm water.
Thinking back to a conversation she’d had with Donna earlier that day, Rose pondered what Alec would want their wedding to be like. They hadn’t really talked about details yet and Donna’s questions made Rose realize they needed to start discussing it soon if they were to be married next month.
What kind of wedding did Alec want? She had to admit she was nervous to ask him about what he had in mind for their nuptials; or if he had any ideas. Had he had a role in planning his wedding to Tess? He didn’t seem the type to fawn over flowers or cake fillings and Donna had asked her about both.
Alec popped up directly in front of her, scaring and splashing her. She swatted at his shoulder as he laughed and gripped her waist, pulling her closer to his body.
“What are you doing?” Rose joined in with his laughter.
“You were a million miles away, lass.”
Rose wrapped her arms around his neck and crossed her ankles behind his back. “So, you thought to swim over here and scare the beegeezes outta me?”
“Swim over to you, yes. Scare the beegeezes out of you? I don’t even know what those are. What’s on your mind, love?”
Running one hand through his beard, Rose took a deep breath. She could do this. After their first major fight, they had promised to talk and be honest with each other. “Donna called today an’ asked if we had made any decisions on our wedding yet.”
He searched her eyes, frowning at what he found. “And you’re afraid to talk to me about it, am I right?” She nodded. “Why, Rose? Are you having second thoughts?”
“God, no! Alec, I love you an’ I was actually thinkin’ about how I can’t wait to be your wife.” She smiled when he did. “It’s just… you’ve done this before…”
Rose let her sentence hang in the air. Her gut tightened when Alec sighed in resignation.
“I thought this might come up. Come on, lass. Let’s get changed and go home. We can talk while we eat dinner, aye?”
Rose couldn’t meet his eyes, but she did warm at the thought of his house being theirs. “Yeah, alright.”
When she moved to stand, Alec tightened his hold on her.
“Rose, look at me.” He waited until she raised her eyes to his. “Everythin’s fine. I just want to be cuddled up with you in private when we have this conversation.”
She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “Yeah, okay. I’ll meet you out front?”
Alec stood outside under the overhang of the gym. When he’d dressed, he had just put his trousers and oxford back on. He would never confess to taking his time rolling up his sleeves, making sure his forearms were on perfect display for his Rose. For reasons he still didn’t understand, she went mad over it.
He dropped his bag next to his feet and crossed his arms. He knew the fact that he’d been married would come up at some point while planning his wedding to Rose. With Tess, she had asked his opinion but had ultimately gone with what she’d wanted, and he had been fine with that. He had wanted Tess to have whatever her heart desired. It had been a nice ceremony and he’d enjoyed it.
He wasn’t a very showy person but, when it came down to it, he wanted Rose to have the wedding of her dreams. It didn’t matter to him that he had done this before. He knew it mattered to her. But, his Rose was so compassionate and giving, she would absolutely take into consideration his feelings on the subject. If he said he wanted it to be just the two of them she would do it.
It’s not what he wanted. His wish for them was to have a wedding they both loved. He cringed at the thought of having to work with Donna though. Their personalities didn’t mesh very well.
“Well, as I live and breathe. Alec Hardy.”
Oh, he recognized that voice. Years old humiliation flowed through him as he turned to see Becca Fisher standing behind him. Alec had never forgotten his offer and her rejection. He hadn’t seen her since she’d left town after Joe Miller’s trial. She’d put on a bit of weight, but that didn’t take away from her attractiveness. She was no Rose, that’s for sure.
He still wore his frown from when he thought about wedding planning with Donna. “When did you get back?”
Becca laughed. “Still as rough around the edges, I see. I got in yesterday. I’m visiting my cousin Abbey. She took over running the Trader’s when I left.”
Alec nodded, content to let the encounter end, but it seemed Becca wasn’t finished.
She ran her eyes appreciatively over Alec’s tall form. “You look good considering you were knocking on death’s door last time I saw you.”
“Had a pacemaker put in.” He thought if he kept his answers short, she’d get the hint. All he wanted to do was go home and start his weekend with Rose.
“Oh, wow. Good for you. Don’t you have a daughter? I bet she was happy you did that.”
Becca checked her watch. “Damn, I need to get going. Promised Abbey I’d meet her for dinner, but it was nice seeing you. Would you maybe wanna go get a drink? Catch up?”
Was she chatting him up? Surely she wasn’t, not after she had turned him down. He was opening his mouth to decline when he heard Rose speaking behind him.
“Sorry I took so long. I wanted to dry my hair a bit.” Rose smiled up at him as she grabbed his hand. “Ready to go? I’m half starved.” Rose looked over and noticed Becca. “Oh, hello. Did I interrupt somethin’?”
Alec looked down at Rose. Her tone indicated she was concerned she had caused a problem somehow, but being the impressive DI that he is, he didn’t miss Rose giving the other, older blonde a quick once-over.
“Not at all,” Becca said somewhat reluctantly. “I was just seeing if Alec had time to catch up. I’m Becca. I met this lump when he first moved to Broadchurch.”
Rose frowned at Becca’s description of Alec. “Well, this lump has plans with me. ‘M Rose, by the way.”
Alec fought down a grin. Rose was staking her claim and it was downright sexy as hell.
“Oh!” Becca snapped her fingers. “A flower name! You’re his daughter!”
Alec’s heart sank. He was certain in his feelings for Rose and hers for him but hearing someone assume she was his daughter was a hard right hook to his self-esteem.
Rose hugged Alec’s arm to her chest. “No, no. ‘M not his daughter. In one month I will be his wife.”
Becca looked dumbstruck. “Wife?”
Alec leaned down and picked up his bag without dislodging Rose’s hold on him. He felt his confidence build with Rose’s proud announcement of her place in his life. “Aye, this gorgeous woman has agreed to marry me. Daisy and I couldn’t be happier. Come on, love.” He pulled his car keys from his pocket. “Enjoy your visit, Becca.”
Rose leaned her head against his arm as they walked to his car. He hummed in his throat and leaned over and pressed a kiss to her crown. “That was quite the display. But I like that you were a little possessive. Means ‘m doin’ somethin’ right if you wanna keep me to yourself.”
“Not just somethin’, you do everythin’ right.”
Alec shuddered at her sultry tone. He couldn’t wait to get her home.
Rose giggled as she ran down the hall to Alec’s bedroom. She heard the front door slam and the deadbolt turn.
On the way home, Alec had told her about his embarrassing attempt to pick up Becca. She hadn’t teased him, and it broke her heart that he had expected her to. Instead she’d told him how happy she was that Becca had turned him down. If the woman had taken Alec up on his offer, he might not have been available by the time Rose came to Broadchurch, and she couldn’t imagine her life without him.
She had teased him a bit by palming him through his trousers as he drove and telling him how she wanted him to take her in the shower. When he’d pulled up in his driveway (crooked, mind), she’d leaped out of the car and told him “last one to the shower is an old man”, knowing he would not be happy with that and ‘punish’ her.
She’d had her key already in hand, making quick work of the lock. Now she ran through his en suite door shouting, “I win!”
She reached her hand into the stand-up shower and started the water. Alec barreled through the door and caged her up against the opposite wall. He didn’t give her a change to speak, taking her lips in a fierce kiss. The strokes of his tongue lit a fire within her core and she was positively aching for him between her legs.
Just when she thought she was going to have to push him away for air, he pulled back to peel her clothes off. “You think I’m gonna let you get away with tha’ old man remark? You should know better, lass.”
“What’re you gonna do about it?” She challenged, one eyebrow arched, not shy about her nakedness.
Alec stayed as close to her as possible while still removing his clothes. Once he was as bare as she was, he groped her breasts. She moaned as he roughly fondled her flesh. He eyes were so dark, the thick steam in the room making him look like a heathen. She cried out when he pinched her nipples harder than he’d ever done before.
His eyes devoured her. He stepped back from her and when he spoke, his voice was a low, feral growl. “Get in. Now.”
The breath left her body in a rush and she did as she was told. He followed her in, shutting the shower door with force. She stood still as stone, his gaze pinning her to the spot. She waited for his next order.
He took his hard cock in hand and gave himself a few tugs. “Ready to see what an old man can do?”
She gave him a tongue-touched smile. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
His hands shot out and grasped her upper arms turning her around and hauling her back to his chest. He rubbed his cock along her backside. “Too bad you’re not gonna see anythin’. Bend over and place your hands on the bench.”
Rose was dripping wet, both from the shower and Alec’s attentions. She knew he would let her come but not right away, maybe not until much later. This was how it always played out when she called him ‘old’. When others made comments about their age difference (like Becca had) it bothered him but, when she did it, he loved proving her wrong.
As soon as her hands were braced on the shower bench, Alec thrust in with a grunt. Rose could tell by his wild, frantic pace that he was aiming for a rapid coupling. His long, thick length felt exquisite pumping in and out of her, filling her up. She wouldn’t come like this, but she knew he would take care of her eventually. For now, she just enjoyed the sensation of him taking his pleasure and worked to give him more.
Rose focused on squeezing her inner muscles, gripping his cock tight. When she brought her thighs together, it was just the stimulation he needed, coming deep within her.
“God, lass. Fuck!” His words were said around ragged breaths. He stepped back, slipping from her body, and pulled her back against him. “How’s tha’ for old.”
She chuckled. “You know ‘m gonna call you that all the time if you’re gonna fuck me like that.”
Alec ran his hands up her torso, stopping at her breasts. He kneaded her tender flesh before one hand journeyed down to the junction of her thighs. Swiftly, he inserted two long fingers in her core. “How about I fuck you like this?”
That was the last coherent word from Rose’s mouth for quite a while.
Chapter 4: Making Plans
Some fluff and sexy times!!
TenRoseForeverandever is the best beta EVAH!!!!!
Chapter 4 Making Plans
Alec threw the blanket over their legs. After he and Rose had actually used the shower for its intended purpose, they had eaten leftover beef stew for dinner, and now found themselves snuggled under the same red blanket he’d gotten for their date so long ago. The tan oversized chair was the perfect size for them, the ottoman adding support for Alec’s long legs.
“Mmmmm, this is nice.” Rose closed her eyes and rubbed her cheek against Alec’s t-shirt clad chest.
“Sure is. I love you.” He whispered, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.
“I love you, too.”
Alec picked up her left hand and twirled her engagement ring around her finger. “I can’t wait to marry you, lass. An’ I know me bein’ married before has you worried about our wedding, but please don’t let it. Our wedding will be exactly that: our wedding.”
“What was yours like?” Rose asked, biting the cuticle of her thumbnail. She hated talking about Tess and Alec together in any way.
Alec exhaled a long breath through pursed lips. “Tess and I got married in a church she’d been a member of since childhood. Pretty straightforward. The reception was at a popular wedding venue tha’ I don’t even think is there anymore. But, still… it was a lovely day.”
Rose processed this information. It sounded like it had been a typical wedding ceremony. Rose had never been to church. Her parents had taught her about religion and having faith, and she had used that as a sort of moral compass to guide her. But did she see herself getting married in a church? It didn’t seem right.
“I don’t wanna get married in a church,” she admitted, keeping her eyes on Alec’s long fingers which were still fiddling with her ring.
“I don’t really, either.” He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her palm. He then placed her hand on his chest, covering it with his warm one. He shifted a bit so he could look into her honey-hued eyes. “Do you have anythin’ particular in mind?”
Furrowing her brows, Rose thought long and hard, back into her childhood, when most little girls dreamed about their nuptials. Her parents had gotten married at a justice of the peace, with only a few family members present, because they’d had no money for a big wedding, but the way her parents had reminisced about the day, it had been perfect because it had been them, Jackie and Pete, together.
Rose realized that was all she wanted: she and Alec pledging themselves together in front of their close family and friends. “I really don’t. Something small and intimate.”
He gave her a sweet smile. “Alright. What would you say to getting married outside?”
Studying the way his eyes lit up, she grinned. “You’ve somethin’ in mind already, don’t you, Detective Inspector.”
“Aye, I do.” He pulled her head back down to his chest and combed his fingers through her hair. “When I was a wee lad, I was out in the woods with my da’, gatherin’ sticks and such for Burns Night. We came across an old Birnam Oak, with its thick gnarled trunk and branches almost as thick that reached out for miles.” Rose giggled. He tugged on her hair a bit. “Well, at my age, it sure seemed like they did.
“Anyway, I remember runnin’ over an’ climbin’ up to sit in a hollow in the trunk, fully prepared to jump out an’ scare the beegeezes outta my da’.”
Rose wrinkled her nose at Alec’s use of her earlier term. “You were a right terror.”
“Oh, of course! And my parents knew it, too. So my da’ wasna surprised in the slightest and caught me as I jumped down. He said he’d known that was exactly what I was gonna do. When I asked how, he pointed up to the spot where I’d been sittin’ an’ said, ‘Twenty-eight years ago, I was out here doin’ the same thing we are now and some little hellion jumped out, shriekin’ like a banshee. Caused me to fall flat on my arse. When I got my wits about me, I looked up to the most beautiful little lady laughin’ her fool head off.’ Turns out, jumpin’ outta trees an’ scarin’ him runs in the family. That’s where he met my mum. Always thought that tree would be a nice spot for a wedding.”
Rose had teared up during the story, knowing where he had been heading with the tale. She pushed up onto her hands. “I think that sounds absolutely wonderful, Alec. You’re sure the tree’s still there?”
“Aye, my parents have a picnic there every year on the day she’d started terrorizing him. His words, not mine.”
She laughed, a few tears escaping. “That’s it then. That’s where I want to marry you.”
Alec cupped her cheek and pulled her to him, giving her a very enthusiastic snog. After deciding they both needed to breathe, he released her. “Think Donna can make it happen?”
“Donna can make anythin’ happen, love. She doesn’t take no for an answer. You know that.”
He gave her a grave look. “Aye, I’m well aware of her… tenacity.”
“I plan on askin’ her to stand with me. In all my life, Donna has been there for me from the get go.” Thunder rumbled in the distance and Rose looked out the window. “Here comes that storm the news was talkin’ about. Think it’ll be bad?”
Alec followed her gaze and watched as a bolt of lightning flashed over the water. “Are you scared, lass?”
She burrowed down into his arms and he pulled the blanket higher around them. “The storms out here are just so different from the ones in London. I’ll be fine. Let’s get back to wedding planning. Are you gonna have anyone stand as your best man? Victor maybe?”
“No, not Victor.”
“Oh? He won’t be upset, will he?”
“He’s not. I talked to him about it when I called to ask if I needed to press my kilt or not. He understands.”
“Oooooo, your kilt! You’ll be wearin’ it when we get married, right?”
Alec laughed. “Sounds like that’s somethin’ you wanna see.”
She sat up and threw a leg over his lap so she was straddling him. She grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders. “That is definitely somethin’ I wanna see. Thought I was gonna get to see it at Victor’s wedding, but he just wants you to wear a borin’ old suit.”
He kissed the pout from her mouth. “Rest assured, lass, I’ll be in fancy dress for our wedding.”
Her tongue-touched grin blinded him. Stars above did he love this woman.
He had to admit that he’d been a bit nervous to talk to Victor about his former partner not being his best man. Victor had laughed him off, telling Alec, ‘If I had more friends, I’d’ve picked someone else too’.
“So, if not Victor, who?”
Alec wrapped his arms around Rose’s waist, settling his hands on her bum. “I was gonna ask Miller.”
Rose’s eyebrows jumped to her hairline. “Ellie? Alec, that’s brilliant! I know she’ll be touched.”
“You don’t think she’ll hug me, do you?
She leaned forward and kissed the end of his nose. “Yes, darling, she will most definitely hug you.”
He groaned. “I’ve been afraid of something like that happening.”
“When’re you gonna ask her?”
“Well, now I don’t think I want to.”
Rose laughed. “You big baby. Hand me my mobile. ‘M gonna send Donna a text with the location. Do you have an address or general idea of where?”
He grabbed her phone, opening her text app. “It’s actually on my Granny Daisy’s property. I’ll put in the info.”
She watched as he typed out the text, tongue out and touching his upper lip. “I hate to interrupt you, but what good is the location if we don’t have a date?”
His thumbs stopped moving over the screen and he looked up at her. “That might help with planning.”
“Just a bit.” Rose stretched and grabbed his mobile since he had hers. She used his passcode to unlock his phone and pulled up the calendar app. Scrolling over to October she read over the dates. “How about the last Saturday in October? That way it’s far enough that we have time to plan but close enough to where the time will fly by.”
“How about the first Saturday?”
She pressed a kiss to his lips, giddy with the fact that he wanted to marry her so soon. “That gives us little over a week to plan, Alec. Besides, that’s when Victor’s weddin’ is.”
“Fine. Last Saturday it is. What’s the date so I can tell the ginger heathen.”
“I’m gonna tell her you said that.” She laughed at his mock horrified gasp. “October twenty-eighth will be our wedding day. Now, morning, noon, evening, or night?”
There was no hesitation when Alec spoke even when he didn’t look up from typing. “Just before sunset.”
Her heart melted, and she took the phone out of his hands.
“What’re you doin’?”
Pulling him down by the back of his neck, she took his lips in the slowest, sweetest kiss ever given. She hummed in pleasure when his hands ran a path up the skin of her back, pulling her flush against him. Alec opened his mouth, welcoming Rose into him, and letting their tongues gently stroke one another. After enjoying a few more seconds of bliss, she pulled away, and rested her forehead against his.
“You’ve thought about this, haven’t you? Our wedding.”
Alec swiped his thumb over the apple of her cheek, wiping away a tear she hadn’t know was falling. “Since I knew I wanted to ask you.”
A cross between a laugh and a sob left her lips before she pulled him to her again. Eventually, he got around to sending Donna the text, excitement stirring in her as she saw the little bubble indicating Donna was responding.
“So, what did Donna say?” Alec asked as he looked through the stack of DVDs on the shelf in his bedroom.
Rose glanced back at her mobile, opening her texts. “I never checked. I forgot because after you sent it, Daisy called, and I went off to make the popcorn. She said, ‘Sounds incredibly romantic. Send me Granny Daisy’s number and I’ll call her tomorrow’.” She squealed. “We’re getting’ married, Alec!”
He put in a DVD and walked over to his side of the bed, clad only in his red boxer briefs. Pulling the sheets back he climbed in beside her and snagged a handful of popcorn. “That we are, lass.”
The wiggled their way under the covers, Rose laughing out loud when the movie started. “Robin Hood: Men In Tights? You like this movie? No… you own this movie?”
He turned to look at her, completely offended. “Why is that such a surprise? I’ll have you know Mel Brooks is a comedic genius!”
“I’m well aware of that, love. But I just never figured you for someone to watch satirical comedies.” Alec threw some popcorn at her. “Oi! And why am I findin’ this out now?”
He picked a kernel out of her hair. “I had to make sure you were the one before I imparted my darkest secret. Can’t have it bein’ common knowledge.”
Rose rolled her eyes but refrained from commenting. As they were getting situated in bed, a strong clap of thunder shook the windows that were being pelted with rain. Eyes wide, Rose whispered, “I don’t like that very much.”
His poor lass. Alec knew storms along coastlines and bodies of water were worse than those in the cities. He hated how nervous Rose got whenever they had a squall.
He picked up the popcorn bowl and set it on his nightstand. “C’mere.”
Rose scrambled over into his arms, sitting between his spread legs. Once she covered her legs with the duvet, she grabbed the popcorn bowl and placed it in her lap. The storm raged on, but Rose felt calmer surrounded by Alec. Settling against his chest, she signed in contentment.
“Better?” Alec soothed into her ear.
“Mmmmm, much better.”
The opening credits were still playing when Alec asked. “So, lass, what are the plans for this weekend?”
“I do need to find a dress for Victor’s weddin’. You can come and help me with that.”
“Do I have to?”
Rose tilted her head, contemplating her answer. His stomach sank when her smile mimicked a cat who got the canary. “Well, you can either come with me or go talk to Ellie about bein’ your best man.”
Alec grumbled just for show. He knew Rose was kidding; she would never order him around like that. “I’ll call Miller in the mornin’ and invite her to lunch.”
Seagulls flew over the house making an ungodly racket but, before Alec could grumble about the noise, fingers began carding through his hair. Rose. He loved waking up with her near.
Opening his eyes, he was met with the sight of his lass sitting on the bed next to him with a steaming mug held in the hand that wasn’t buried in his hair.
“Mornin’.” Rose slid her hand down along his cheek and ran her thumb along his bottom lip. “Got some coffee for you.”
His heart stuttered at the overwhelming love flowing through him. She was here with him, wearing his t-shirt, making him coffee, and appearing happy to do it. Alec shifted up onto his elbow and reached out for the mug.
“Careful, it’s very hot.”
Her warning was unnecessary because he grabbed the drink only to set it on the nightstand. Right now, he needed something more potent than caffeine.
Without saying a word, Alec gripped her under her arms and pulled her on top of him. The friction of her soft body alone against his had his cock at half-mast. She straddled his hips, lying down so their torsos were touching, but he wanted more. He hardened fully as he hiked up her shirt causing her bare breasts to press against his chest.
He kneaded her bum as she rolled her hips against his erection. The only sounds in the room were their soft moans and heavy breathing.
Suddenly, much to his disappointment, Rose sat up. Wanting to pull her back down, he reached for her. She shook her head and whipped off her shirt. His hands shot out to cup her breasts and he watched, mesmerized, as she undulated over him, rubbing his cock in a delicious way.
Her hips picked up speed and the resulting friction had him feeling the heat burning at the base of his spine.
Alec rolled her nipples and her head fell back, a downright filthy moan escaping her throat. He needed to be inside her. Reaching down, he hooked the damp crotch of her knickers and yanked them to the side. Getting the hint, Rose lifted enough to tug down his pants.
In a well-practiced dance, he was sheathed inside her in seconds.
Apparently, Rose decided she wasn’t in a hurry, and began a leisurely rock. He couldn’t say he minded one bit. Holding out his hands, she grasped them, and interwove their fingers. He supported her as she moved, bringing them both unspeakable pleasure.
Holy fuck, my lass is gorgeous! His eyes roamed her body taking in her plump bottom lip caught in her teeth, her pink tipped breasts swaying, her neatly trimmed sex glistening with arousal where they were joined.
He felt his orgasm building, knowing it would be languid but still as intense as if they were having a frantic coupling.
Rose was close; he could tell by the way she ground her hips down on his pelvis, stimulating her clit. Three more grinds and his love threw her head back, keening as she came around him. She continued to ride him, the jerk of her hips slow and deep, sending him over the edge.
They continued to move together, wanting to prolong each other’s pleasure for as long as possible.
Working to catch her breath, Rose collapsed on his chest, working to catch her breath. Alec wrapped his arms around her with his hands spread out against the damp skin of her back. They stayed pressed together until their hearts slowed their frenzied pace.
Slowly, Rose sat up, smiling at Alec. “Shower then breakfast?”
He shook his head. “Coffee first, then shower and breakfast.”
Rose swiftly locked the door behind Alec as he set out to meet Miller for lunch. It was freezing outside, and she was just in her t-shirt and knickers. Still needing to get ready, but wanting a cuppa, she grabbed Alec’s red jumper from the laundry basket and slipped it on. She would have claimed the jumper as hers, but she loved seeing him wear it.
The kettle started to whistle when there was a knock on the door. Turning off the hob, she headed to see who had stopped by. She didn’t think twice about what she was wearing when she opened the door.
Olly Stevens stood on the porch, mouth wide open and not blinking. A gust of wind blasted her and that is when she realized what she was wearing. The jumper covered her to mid-thigh so she just went with it. However, she didn’t plan on talking to this weasel long.
“Can I help you?”
Olly snapped out of his lusty gaze and looked Rose in the eye. He cleared his throat, looking sheepish at getting caught. His contriteness didn’t last long, quickly morphing into cold calculation. “I’d like to speak with Detective Inspector Hardy. He and DS Miller spent a lot of time helping Sybil catch the armed robber only for the suspect to be released on parole. I’m just looking for an exclusive about yet another one of his failures.”
Rose bristled. As if Olly ever had a chance, he still should know that insulting Alec would not be the way to get brownie points with her. She had turned down his advances months ago because he came across as smarmy, but she had lost all respect for the guy after hearing him call her boyfriend ‘the worst thing about the town’.
“I don’t see how that would be his failure. It was only with his and Ellie’s help that they even caught the guy. Sounds like the court system failed.”
“How are you so blind to his flaws? Why are you wasting your time on him?”
Rose stepped farther out onto the porch, hands on hips. “Why do you hate him so much?” she snarled, her fury boiling over. “Because he calls you out on all your bullshit? That’s not a flaw on him. That’s all on you!”
She spun around, ignoring his stuttering attempts at a comeback. Lucky for him. If the douchebag had been able to say anymore, she wouldn’t have been able to keep from punching him in the face. Frankly, she wanted to hit him anyway, but took out her aggression on the front door instead, slamming it in the fucking git’s red face.
Rose stomped into the kitchen, hoping the tea she had started to make would calm her nerves. She loved that she was one of the only ones to appreciate what an amazing person Alec was, so passionate and kind, but sometimes she wished others would look past the gruff exterior. Alec didn’t care what others thought of him, but she couldn’t deny the overwhelming instinct to protect and defend the man who would soon be hers in every way.
The ability to leave the past in the past just escaped some people and she knew she and Alec would run into those individuals in Sandbrook next weekend. Didn’t matter. She would put them in their place just as she had with Olly.
Doing it in a killer dress and heels would just make it sweeter.
Alec stepped into the Rusty Anchor diner, heading to the farthest table in the back. That was their table. The partners often sat at that particular table when they were knee-deep in a case but still needed to find the time to eat, even if Alec never actually ate, despite Ellie’s infernal badgering. Today, he’d be a good chap and eat a proper lunch with her.
Ellie was making her tea as he sat. Making eye contact with the waitress, Gertrude, he signaled for his usual: tea with a splash of milk.
“You know,” Ellie said, picking up a menu from the holder near the wall, “I think I’ll try something different for once.”
“No you won’t.” Alec gave Gertrude a nod in thanks when she set down his mug. He held eye contact with Ellie when he spoke to Gertrude. “I’ll have the turkey club and she’ll have the open-faced tuna sandwich with pickles on the side.”
Ellie folded her arms, glaring at Alec who sat there with that infuriating left eyebrow arched. She blinked, growled, and looked up to Gertrude. “What he said.”
Gertrude laughed as she headed back behind the counter. Alec smirked as he doctored his tea.
“Oh, I do hate you.”
“Now, Miller, is that any way to speak to your superior?”
“Ugh, why are you in such a good mood?”
“Why are you in such a bad one?” He took a tentative sip, careful not to burn his tongue.
Ellie looked at him in disbelief. “Are you seriously asking me that? How can you be so chipper after getting that email this morning?”
“The one from DI Ramon. That prick of a prosecutor choked. The kid got off with parole.”
Alec abruptly sat back in his chair. He knew that inexperienced toddler of a lawyer was not competent enough to prosecute anyone much less an armed robbery suspect. He and Ellie had worked tirelessly with Sybil’s police department to catch that criminal. All for nothing.
“And I was havin’ such a lovely mornin’. Fuckin’ glaikit…” Alec let his sentence hang. There was really no use in getting upset. Hadn’t he said this would happen? Rose’s voice popped into his head: Focus on the positive. He sighed. “Nothin’ we can do about it now. There’s a reason I asked you here.”
Ellie studied his rigid posture and tense facial expression. “Oh, God. Are you dying? Is your pacemaker failing?”
“Wha’?” Alec winced at the high pitch of his voice. “Why would you think tha’, Miller?”
“You look like you’re about to give me the worst news in the world and if it’s not the bugger of a case we helped with, it’s gotta be something more serious.”
Alec put his head in his hands, elbows resting on the table, and groaned. “Jesus, Miller. It’s nothin’ like that.” He sat up, his accent and temperament calming. “You know Rose and I decided to get married next month.”
“Yeah.” She was still wary.
He took a deep breath. “Well, I wanted to ask you to be my best man.”
Ellie stared, unblinkingly, mouth agape. It was Alec’s turn to be wary. Why is she just starin’ at me? He mentally shrugged. At least she’s not huggin’ an’ greetin’ like a wee bairn.
Losing his patience with the one-sided staring contest, he asked, “Are you gonna say somethin’ or not?”
Gertrude picked that moment to bring their lunches. Sensing there was some unusual tension between the detectives, she beat a hasty retreat.
“You want me, me, to be your best man?”
Why was this so difficult? “That’s what I said, wasn’t it?”
“Oh, you great, big wanker!”
“Is that a yes?”
Alec was dismayed to see tears shining in Miller’s eyes. He flinched when she shot out of her chair. He stood in a feeble attempt to flee from her emotional display, but she caught him. Standing on tip toes, she threw her arms around his neck and squeezed. Alec’s hands fumbled a bit, but he ultimately relented and placed his hands on her back.
When Ellie answered, her voice was a broken whisper. “I don’t think you know how much this means to me.”
“I do.” Alec spoke quietly. Miller’s friendship had rehabilitated him in a way. From the beginning, she had never taken his shite and had often thrown it right back in his scowling face. She challenged him on everything. He thought there was no good left in people. She made him start seeing the world in a slightly better light, reminding him that there was good in people and the world. Hell, she even made him a better detective. Ellie Miller was one of the greatest human beings in his world. “It means just as much, if not more, to me.”
Chapter 5: Hotel Sex
Title says it all. Alec and Rose go to Victor and Gemma's rehearsal dinner!
TenRoseForeverandever is very dear to me. I love her!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chapter 5 Hotel Sex
Rose walked side by side with Daisy as they left the studio. “Are you sure you wanna stay at Ellie’s house while me an’ your dad are in Sandbrook? You could come with us an’ visit your Grandmum. She’d love to see you.”
Daisy rolled her eyes. “Tell Da’ to stop makin’ you do his dirty work.”
Laughing, Rose steered the teenager towards the Italian restaurant where they were meeting Alec. “He’s not makin’ me do anythin’. As if he could. I just thought you might like to see her. You know she doesn’t agree with how your mum’s treatin’ you.”
Daisy sighed. “I know an’ I miss her, but it’ll just turn into a talk about the whole situation and ‘m over it.”
“Alright, but do give her a call, yeah? She’s called twice this week to see how you are.”
Mrs. Henchard was the exact opposite of her daughter, Tess. Rose had been very surprised at the pleasant nature of the older woman who had called to check on Daisy. When she had voiced her surprise to Alec, he’d admitted he still loved his former mother-in-law, and that it had been the late Mr. Henchard who had been a tyrant. Alec had even enlisted Mrs. Henchard’s help to attempt to talk some sense into Tess, but to no avail.
“I will. You think Grandmum would come here to see me? That way we wouldn’t risk runnin’ into my mum.”
Rose brushed Daisy’s braid behind her shoulder. “I think she would love that.” They walked in silence for a block, before Rose spoke. “So, I guess this means you’ve decided to stop tryin’ to contact Tess?”
Daisy didn’t answer, and Rose didn’t push. Rose really couldn’t stand the woman as she had never been one to tolerate selfish cows, but she just could not understand why Tess was being this obstinate. All the while she was hurting Daisy, Tess could only see the ‘hurt’ Daisy was causing her.
The restaurant came into view along with Alec’s car parked out front. He had wanted to pick them up from the studio, but Rose had declined. She had wanted to talk to Daisy about staying with her Grandmum. At first, Alec had been surprised at the interest Rose was taking, but quickly realized he shouldn’t be. Rose loved his daughter; truly cared about her thoughts and feelings.
Rose reached to open the door when a hand on hers stopped her. She met Daisy’s tearful eyes.
“Thank you, Rose, for talkin’ to me about this. For thinkin’ about me.” The teenager took a deep breath. “I have decided to stop reaching out to my mum. It’s up to her now an’ while it upsets me, I can’t be too sad because I have you.”
Tears dampened Rose’s eyes. “Oh, Daisy. You’ll always have me.”
The young ladies entered the restaurant hand in hand.
Alec held their hotel room door open so Rose could slip past. He followed, dragging their suitcase behind him.
Rose opened the closet and hung up the garment bags with her dresses and his suits. “How long we got ‘til we meet Victor and Gemma for the rehearsal?”
He made short work of setting the suitcase on the baggage holder before flopping face down on the king-sized bed. His blood warmed at hearing Rose’s laugh.
Rose crawled over him and perched herself on his bum. “Are you tired, love? Need a nap?”
“Aye,” he mumbled. “Long drives always tire me out. But to answer your question, we have enough time to freshen up an’ that’s about it.”
“So, hotel sex will have to wait then. Bugger.”
Alec rose up and rested on his elbows, turning his head to peer at Rose over his shoulder. “Hotel sex? Is that different from sex at home?”
“Uh, yeah! Hotel sex is loud an’ messy. Just shag ‘til you’re too tired to move an’ fall asleep. To hell with clean up.”
Rolling over and dislodging his lass, Alec sat up only to pull her back on top of him. “This is a whole new side I’m seein’, Rose Tyler.”
She crossed her arms behind his neck, her lips millimeters away from his. “Are you complainin’?”
“Not at all.” He captured her lips with his. Her warm, wet tongue felt so fucking good sliding against his, but he had to pull back when his cock started to come to life. “We don’t have time. We’ve got to get ready.”
Rose pouted as she ran her fingers through his hair.
“Don’t do that, lass. Let’s get ready and when we get back, we can have your hotel sex.”
She beamed at him. “You’re gonna love it, Detective Inspector!”
“If you say so.”
Rose climbed out of the car, smoothing out her green high-neck sheath dress. She watched Alec walk around to her side and resisted the urge to drool. He had gone for a more casual look, wearing a light gray suit with a white oxford open at the collar and no tie. She couldn’t wait to see him in the formal suit he had gotten for tomorrow. She had been surprised when he had said he’d bought the suit out right instead of renting it. He’d told her he’d had a feeling once she saw him in it, she wouldn’t want him to bring it back.
He took her hand. “Ready to cross?”
Rose bit her lower lip; she was incredibly nervous to meet Alec’s former partner and close friend, but if Alec liked him then Rose was sure she would too. She took a cleansing breath. “Yeah, let’s go.”
The two crossed as quickly as Rose’s shiny, beige heels would allow, coming right up to the front of the restaurant. Walking into the stone cottage style building, the hostess took their names, and ushered them down the stairs to the wine-cellar-like banquet room.
They no sooner entered the room when a shout rang out. “Hardass!”
A blonde, middle-aged man came barreling towards Alec, picking him up in a bear hug. Alec’s greeting was warm, but much less exuberant.
“Long time, Victor.” Alec clapped the man on the back.
Victor let go to take his friend in. “I’m happy to see that yeh no longer look like death!”
“Wish I could say the same about you.” Alec reached out for Rose’s hand, gently pulling her towards him. “Victor, I’d like you to meet my fianceé, Rose Tyler.”
Rose held out her hand. “It’s very nice to meet you, Victor.”
He took Rose’s hand in his and placed a delicate kiss to the back. “Christ almighty! Alec, yeh said she was beautiful but yeh failed to mention she was a livin’, breathin’ angel.”
Rose blushed. Victor wasn’t what Rose would call handsome, but she wouldn’t call him downright ugly. He bore the burden of a serious job in the lines of his face. His slightly crooked nose told a story of being broken one too many times. She could tell he’d been overweight because he had loose areas of skin from weight loss.
Before Rose could even respond, Alec wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her flush against him, her back to his front. “That’s because she’s my angel. Where’s Gemma?”
“Oh, she’s on the phone with her mother. Old besom got lost on the way here. I told Gem not to get the bat a GPS, that it was too high-tech.”
“It’s not too high-tech, you arse.” Gemma Burns came walking into the room. She was a homely looking lady, tall and thick. Rose had to admit to being a little bit jealous of the woman’s biceps that were displayed by her sleeveless peasant dress. She marched over to Alec, who had let go of Rose, and hugged him. “Great to see you again, Hardy. I ran into Alice last week.”
“Aye, she said she saw you.” He repeated the action of pulling Rose to him. “Gemma, this is my Rose.”
“Hello, Alec’s Rose. My, you’re a wee lassie! I hear you’re a dancer.”
Rose smiled. “Yep. I am a dancer, but I don’t perform, I just teach.”
“My mum put me in dance when I was five, but I couldn’t get past the stage fright.”
“Yeh realize we’ll be dancin’ in front of a large group of people tomorrow, don’t yeh?” Victor teased Gemma good-naturedly.
Gemma punched him in the arm. “That’s different, you infuriatin’ scrotum!”
Rose leaned against Alec’s side, smiling wide. “Aren’t they sweet?”
Before Alec could make what Rose was sure was going to be a sarcastic comment, an older woman with jet-black hair, inch long silver roots showing, came charging in. “Alright, I’m here! Let’s rehearse the beginnin’ of the end of my only daughter’s life!”
Victor rolled his eyes and sighed. “Ladies and gentlemen, introducin’ my mother-in-law.”
Despite the argument that had broken out at the arrival of Gemma’s mother, Jessica, the rehearsal went swimmingly. The large cellar held white backed chairs in rows with a white runner dividing the room in half. Garland made to look like woven twigs lined the top of the walls supporting the fairy lights. Bundles of fragrant flowers were strategically placed around the room, with candles posted in their center. The overall effect was elegant but simple.
Rose liked the cozy intimate feeling, but in her mind, nothing would beat her and Alec’s wedding plans.
After practicing the ceremony, the party was relocated back above ground to the restaurant for dinner. Victor had worked a case for the owner a few years prior, with successful results, and she was more than happy to loan out the use of her restaurant for the wedding. Other patrons were present, but the establishment would close for the wedding.
Gemma was telling Rose how the reception was going to be held upstairs and pointing out where the cake would be set up and where the dance floor would be located, when Rose looked up to find Alec. He and Victor were in deep conversation near the coat rack, brows furrowed. She hoped everything was okay.
“Alec, I need to speak with yeh for a second.”
Victor had intercepted Alec as he was making his way to get his coat. He was still a little peeved that Rose had chosen not to wear one, thinking it absolutely ridiculous to forgo much needed warmth for the sake of fashion.
Alec stopped and crossed his arms. “Sounds ominous. Nothin’ wrong, I hope.”
“Och, it depends on how yeh look at it. So Gemma’s cousin was invited to the weddin’ an’ originally wasn’t gonna be able to make it. Today, he informed her he’s able to come. Him an’ his partner.”
“And?” Alec inquired, eyebrow arched. “Does he have a criminal past or a warrant?”
“No, worse, actually. Gemma’s cousin is Garrett Kelly an’ you know who’s comin’ with him...”
“Tess. Fuck.” Alec whispered the swear and closed his eyes. How did he not remember Garrett was Gemma’s cousin? Just what he needed.
“Trust me, Alec, if I could get away with tellin’ them to fuck off, I would.”
One of Alec’s hands dropped to his waist, the other ran through his hair. “No, no. It’s fine. I know how to deal with Tess, an’ Rose can hold her own. She’s put Tess in her place more than once.”
Victor chuckled. “I knew I liked that fiery flower.”
“I’m just worried about Tess causin’ a scene. I don’t want that for you and Gemma.”
Victor clapped Alec on the shoulder. “Don’t yeh worry one wit about tha’. Cousin or no, I’ll send the bitch packin’.” Alec smirked. “Now, go get Rose and go do what every male and some females have been wantin’ to do since they laid eyes on your lass. How do yeh deal with it, man?”
Alec slapped Victor lightly on the cheek. “Because I know who’s bed she’ll be warmin’ and it’s not theirs.”
“God, Alec! Y-you’re so good at THAT!”
Alec raised his head from its place between her legs and let out a dark chuckle. They hadn’t been in the room a minute when he’d hiked up Rose’s dress, pulled down her knickers, and dropped to his knees.
“A little louder, lass. I don’t think the floor below us heard.” He slipped two long fingers in her core causing her head to bang back into the wall she was leaning up against.
“Well,” she panted, “if you get back to it, I’ll make sure the people across the street hear how bloody amazin’ you are.”
“Get on the bed,” he growled.
He took off his jacket as he watched her climb on the bed. Tossing his cufflinks on the dresser, he began rolling up the sleeves of his oxford. Rose spread her legs wide open and bent her knees in invitation. Rolling up his sleeves became a thing of the past.
Wrapping his arms around her exposed thighs, he jerked her towards him, burying his face in her wet warmth. With each flick of his tongue, she writhed beneath him. With each pump of his fingers, she pulled his hair. And when he took her clit between his lips and sucked hard, she screamed his name, coming long and hard.
Fuck, she was gorgeous, lying there flushed and sweaty. Alec had his trousers open and down with his pants below his arse in no time. His cock was hard as steel and weeping for his lass.
Rose was still trying to catch her breath when he covered her and thrust inside. His lass was so wet and it was all because of him. He lost himself in the sensation of sliding in and out of her.
Her moans of “harder, Alec” had him setting a punishing rhythm, not stopping until he came with a guttural cry that had the people next door pounding on the wall.
Foreheads pressed together, they held onto each other, laughing at the outrage of their neighbors.
“I guess they don’t know the pleasures of hotel sex,” Rose mused.
Alec pressed a lingering kiss to her lips. “Don’t be too hard on them, love. I just found out the pleasures of hotel sex myself.”
“And? What is your deduction, Detective Hardy?”
“Well, I haven’t finished investigating. I mean, we’ve done the loud. Now, we’ve got to cover the messy. But, a shower is in order.”
Rose laughed. “Get clean to get messy?”
“Detective work isn’t always cut and dry.”
“It’s not? Best get on it then.”
“Aye, aye, Sarge.”
Rose slid back into bed after using the loo. She had fallen asleep while still on top of Alec, his cock spent inside her, but her need to pee didn’t let her rest long.
She snuggled down into the covers on her stomach, enjoying the ache and the stickiness between her thighs. She smiled when Alec slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her prone form closer to him.
“You got up.” His voice held a hint of accusation. “You didn’t clean up, did you?”
“Nope. Still just as messy as you. I needed to have a wee.”
Alec inched closer to her, pressing his length against her bum. He was firm and getting harder. “I don’t know, lass. You seem awfully clean. Might need to mess you up a wee bit.”
Rose arched her back, pushing her bum back up to him as he covered her body with his. He slicked her up with his leaking cock. Once he was satisfied he’d prepared her enough, he rested on his forearms, bracketing her shoulders. Pressing a kiss to the side of her neck, he pushed in.
Rose smiled into the mattress at Alec’s shout. She loved it when he would get loud. Unfortunately, with a teenager at home, they couldn’t indulge in that little kink often.
He began to move, deep and slow, adding to the perfection with a roll of his hips that had Rose moaning.
The position left Rose with little to do but just enjoy her lover fucking her. And enjoy she did. When her orgasm came, the languid warmth spread all the way down in her bones, leaving her sated and exhausted. She was on her way to dreamland when Alec pressed as deep as he could, spilling inside her.
He turned on his side, pulling her with him causing him to slide out of her. The last two things she was aware of was his seed coating her inner thighs and Alec whispering his love for her.
Rose checked her appearance one more time, nervous as hell that her dress was too much. Normally, Rose wouldn’t give a damn, but Alec had told her that Tess was going to be at the wedding and, Lord knows, Rose didn’t want to give the bitch any more ammo.
But Rose knew she looked good.
She went with the smokey eyes and lip gloss with a pinkish tint, keeping her make-up simple. Hair, too. Beachy waves flowed down to her elbows.
The dress. She had been so excited to find this dress on sale. It was fancier than anything she’d ever worn, and she loved the way the satin lining felt against her skin. The hem stopped five inches above her knee. The overlay of the dress sported cap sleeves and a plunging neckline, the deep V ending at the end of her sternum, the rounded swells of her breasts perfectly and tastefully displayed. Champagne-colored beading sparkled in the light, and the band below the bust line accentuated the dress with bronze and chocolate sequins. She had found some bronze strappy heels that matched, and had accessorized the ensemble with simple gold stud earrings that she’d borrowed from Daisy.
She couldn’t wait for Alec to see her. At Gemma’s mother’s demand, he had gone to Victor’s house to get ready. ‘It’s for photographs, obviously.’ Rose snorted at the memory of Alec’s impression of the old bint.
The sound of the key card in the lock had Rose turning and striking a pose.
Her pose was completely forgotten once Alec Hardy stepped in the room.
Words. Thoughts. Rose was pretty sure she was supposed to have them, but nothing was coming forward. He had trimmed his beard and used product in his hair, giving him a nice, clean side part.
But his suit!
The fabric was dark blue and had an almost iridescent sheen to it. The cut was exact, fitting him to a tee. The trousers accentuated his long, lean legs. The white oxford was crisp and, dear God, there was a matching blue waistcoat. He had the suit jacket unbuttoned displaying said waistcoat and a yellow tie. Fucking sex in a suit!
“You are bloody gorgeous, Alec!”
He shook his head in disbelief. His future wife was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. And that dress! It hugged her body in all the right ways, accentuating her curves. Speaking of curves… his gaze lingered on her décolletage. He really didn’t want anyone else seeing the tantalizing view, but Rose was a goddess, and belonged on a pedestal. She was stunning and she was his.
“Rose, you look… I don’t think there’re words adequate enough to describe your beauty.”
Rose looked down at her feet, blushing from her forehead down to her toes. She gave him a coy smile. “I think you did just fine.”
He held out his hand. “Ready, lass?”
She picked up her wrap from its spot at the end of the bed and took his hand. “As ready as I’ll ever be. Alec, please be honest, is the dress too much?”
Rose had wanted to wear something fantastic, so Alec could show her off to his friends and former peers, but she hadn’t wanted to overdo it. It was all really petty and a bit narcissistic of her, but she honestly wanted Alec to be seen as a desirable man, not the unhealthy and unkempt one they had last been privy to.
“Not at all. You’ll be the envy of every woman there.” He shut the door to their room, checking the lock. “I won’t be able to be with you at first, but after the ceremony, I won’t leave your side.”
“I understand, love. ‘M just gonna find a seat on the groom’s side in the back and ogle you from afar.”
He held the hotel door open for her. “Well, then, make sure you ogle my good side.”
She gave him a tongue-touched smile. “Unfortunately, your bum won’t be facing me.”
Chapter 6: Drinks, Anyone?
Rose is the talk of the reception!
TenRoseForeverandever is my lovely beta! She makes me better! I know I say that all the time but it's true!!
Warning for some inappropriate sexual comments!
Chapter 6 Drink, Anyone?
Rose watched the ceremony with a smile. Victor and Gemma were so in love. She wondered if she and Alec would look that sweet on their wedding day. As if sensing her thoughts were on him, Alec met her eye, and gave her the soft smile he reserved just for her.
Since they had arrived at the restaurant, Rose had received several appreciative looks and her fair share of dirty ones. Alec had been welcomed with open arms by his former coworkers that had reached out to him after the truth about the Sandbrook case was known. He had still been his gruff and abrupt self with them, but he’d kept a gentle arm around her waist until it had been time for him to stand with Victor.
Tess and her partner, Garrett, had been one of the last few couples to show up, giving Rose a reprieve from the bitter woman.
Now, the smiling newlyweds were walking down the aisle to cheers and whistles followed by Alec with Gemma’s sister-in-law on his arm. Rose winked at him when he passed her, loving the smirk he sent her way. Now that the wedding party had passed, she decided to hang back and let everyone else file up the stairs to the main dining area.
Once the majority of the crowd had exited, she made her way upstairs. Alec was still occupied taking pictures, keeping a scowl on his face for all of them. Oh, how she loved her grumpy Detective Inspector!
Wanting to keep her distance from Tess and all the other catty women who’d been giving her nasty looks, Rose made her way over to the bar. There were two older men sitting there, and from the looks of them, they had been enjoying themselves since this morning. Alec did say most Scots liked their whisky.
“What’ll yeh have?” The barkeep was a redheaded woman with a kind smile.
Rose perused the stock behind the bar. “Um, I think I’ll have a glass of wine. Whatever white you have open will be fine.”
“Comin’ right up. I love yer dress.”
“Thanks!” Rose opened her clutch and slipped a few notes into the tip jar before picking up the wine glass. She perched herself on a barstool to wait for Alec.
A throat clearing quite close to her caught her attention. One of the older men at the bar sat on the stool next to her. “Yer a very bonnie lass. Yer no’ here alone, are yeh?”
She gave the man a polite smile, thinking he looked familiar. “No, I’m here with my fiancé.”
“Fiancé. Riiiiiight.” He gave her a lewd wink, “Och, yeh don’t need to play coy wi’ me, lassie. How much fer a wee bit o’ yer time, eh?”
Rose choked on her wine. “Excuse me?”
“Name yer price.”
Rose was fuming. She knew damn well what this man was implying and it was taking everything she had to keep herself from knocking the old perv off the stool. “You’re making a mistake. Leave me alone.”
He leaned closer to her and she moved back. “Wha’ about suckin’ me off out back?”
Angry tears pooled in her eyes as she stood. “Listen here, you nast-“
Hands circling her waist made her flinch and spin around, ready to hit whoever was touching her.
“Whoa, lass! It’s only me.”
She sagged in relief and rested against his chest, working to dry her eyes without him seeing. “You scared me, Alec Hardy.”
He rubbed his hands up and down her back. “I’m sorry, love. Ruby, I’ll have a glass of what she’s havin’. Thanks.”
“Well, if it isn’t Alec Hardy. How’ve yeh been, lad?” The old man’s voice made Rose’s insides crawl. She wanted to get away from him, but she didn’t want to cause a scene and upset Alec.
“Just fine, Mr. Kelly.” Alec’s tone was one he used for individuals he’d normally deal with at work.
Kelly. Why did that name ring a bell to Rose.
“Now, don’t be like tha’! You an’ Garrett used ta be inseparable, even as adults. We’ve shared plenty a’meals together.”
“Once Garrett started sleeping with my wife, it was easy to separate, with him an’ Tess.”
Rose wanted to laugh. She had just been propositioned by Tess’s partner’s father. She didn’t know what was worse, that she was mistaken for a prozzie or that the slime ball had been an important part of Alec’s past.
“Well, yeh seemed to’ve done well for yerself. Who’s this lovely lady?” Mr. Kelly smiled at Rose, who had situated herself to Alec’s side. She clenched her hands into fists to keep from slapping the man.
“This is Rose, my fianceé.”
Rose smirked as the color drained from Mr. Kelly’s face and he mumbled something about dancing with his niece. Neither she nor Alec said goodbye to him.
“Ready to eat, love?” He pressed a kiss to her temple.
Rose tucked her hair behind her ear. “Yeah, where we sittin’?”
He gestured with the hand holding his glass. “We’re at the bride and groom’s table.”
“Fancy,” she drawled. Keeping his arm around her waist, he led them to their seats.
“Are you alright? You seemed a bit tense back there.”
“Nah, just felt a bit outta place, but ‘m fine now.”
True to his word, Alec never left her side. They participated in small talk with the other occupants of their table, with Alec, Gemma, and Victor the only ones who paid Rose any attention.
Victor and Gemma took to the dance floor after supper for their first dance. Rose wrapped her arm around Alec’s and smiled. “We get to do that in a few weeks.”
He turned to whisper in her ear, which was easier than usual due to her heels. “Aye, an’ I’ll get to call you Mrs. Hardy.”
She still had to stand on her toes to reach his lips, but she did so, pressing a gentle kiss to his mouth. “I can’t wait.”
“You two could try to control yourselves.
The time had come. Rose sighed and turned to face Tess and Garrett. Rose had only ever seen pictures of him, but he still looked the same, shifty and rodent-like. Just like his father.
Alec nodded to each of them. “Tess. Garrett.”
The silence was smothering. Garrett took the initiative and smiled, making his pointy nose turn up some. “You must be Rose. Nice to finally meet you.”
Having listened to Daisy complain about the man’s snarky remarks to her and how he made her uncomfortable, Rose found it difficult to return the smile, and she only managed an even smaller one than she had given his father. The wankers.
“Nice to meet you as well.” Rose looked at Tess, who was glowering at her ex-husband. She wore a black halter dress that made her look somewhat human. Rose tried to be the bigger person. “You look nice, Tess.”
“And you look like a little girl playing in mummy’s clothes.”
Fuck, that stung. It seemed Tess knew right where to strike to hurt Rose. Feeling too young and inadequate for Alec still often plagued her mind.
“Is there a reason you came over here?” Alec growled. Rose squeezed his arm, trying to keep him calm. She told him before they arrived not to waste his energy on his ex-wife. Still, it took effort for him to control his temper when Tess insulted her.
Tess looked out at the dancing couple and frowned. Not making eye contact, she asked, “Where’s Daisy?”
“She’s spending the weekend at Miller’s.” Alec watched as Tess’s eyes flashed with anger and jealousy. “I asked her if she wanted to come, but she didn’t want to.”
“She still dancing?” Tess took a sip of her drink, staring daggers at Rose.
Alec moved his arm and took Rose’s hand in his, linking their fingers. “She is. You should see her, Tess. She belongs on the stage.”
“Dancing next to little Miss Priss? No, thank you. How are her grades?”
Alec wanted to get away from Tess. He wanted to get Rose away from Tess. She had done nothing to earn this woman’s vitriol. “Not that it’s any of your business, but she’s a straight A student.”
Tess turned four different shades of red at once. “It’s not any of my business? I am her mother!”
“Then act like it,” Alec snarled. He turned his attention to his Rose, letting her surround him. “Let’s go, love.”
He pulled Rose out onto the dance floor and took her in his arms, gently swaying to the music. Deep breaths. How dare that cunt try to show interest in the child she had ignored for months? His Flower had tried to reach out to her and had been heartbroken for her troubles. How many times had he held Daisy while she cried?
A small, soft hand brought him out of his thoughts. He looked down at his love.
“Hey, come back to me, yeah?”
He grasped the hand on his cheek and brought their now joined hands to rest against his chest. “Have I told you how excited I am to marry you?”
“Not as excited as I am.”
“Not possible, lass. Not possible.”
Rose sat at in her seat while Alec went to the restroom. They had shared a few more dances. Victor had wanted a dance with her. He really was a funny man and, like Alec, a lot sweeter than he would have people believe.
She was interrupted from refreshing her lip gloss by Jessica (mother-of-the-bride who happened to put bridezilla to shame), and a woman just as flashy.
“Rose. It is Rose, right?” She didn’t give her a chance to answer. “This is my closest friend, Charlotte. We were just admiring your dress.”
Rose looked down at her dress, getting an eyeful of her cleavage. “Oh, thank you! Can you believe I got it off the clearance rack? I couldn’t believe my luck.”
“The clearance rack? My, my, dear. Alec must not be as well off as you thought.” Jessica laughed.
Rose felt her hackles raise. “I beg your pardon?”
Jessica waved her hand. “Oh, don’t act all hurt. Why else would you be shaggin’ that miserable sod?”
Do not throw your drink in her face. Do not throw your drink in her face. Maybe one drink….NO! Rose you are better than that!
“Because I love him, that’s why.” She looked at the smug cows and couldn’t help but be a little wicked. “But the fact that he’s hung like a horse and could out-shag any man half his age does help.”
Rose stood and turned her back on the two wrinkled old bags who she left gaping like fish.
Needing something stronger than wine, Rose made her way to the bar, relieved to see no one else sitting there.
“Hello, Ruby.” Rose had gotten to know the friendly woman over the course of the night. “What’s the strongest drink you got?”
She pulled a bottle from under the counter and set it on the bar top. “A dram of this Bruichladdich and Alec’ll be carryin’ yeh outta here.”
Rose slapped her hand on the bar. “Let’s have it then.”
“Been rough, huh? I’ve seen it first hand, lassie. This drink is on the house.”
“Bless you, Ruby.”
While she waited for her drink to be poured, she scoured the room for Alec. Surely, he wasn’t still in the loo? Finally, she spotted him. He had been snagged up by some old ladies who looked like they were giving him a firm talking-to. Great, I wonder what they’re sayin’ about me now.
“Here you go, Rose.” Ruby held out the short glass with the liquor.
“Ta.” Taking a sip, she enjoyed the burn all the way down to her toes.
“There yeh are! Been lookin’ all over for yeh!”
Rose turned to see a man who had obviously just become of legal age coming toward her. She groaned. What the fuck did he want? She didn’t know how much more she could take. She was either a prostitute or a gold-digger. Rose had never been closer to losing her shit than she was at that exact moment.
“Can I help you?” She asked with very forced politeness.
“Yeh shure can, yeh wee thing.” He slurred, leaning heavily on the bar. “‘Ve got a probl’m. My boaby is screamin’ for me to schtick it ‘tween yer chebs an’ I don’ have any money on me. It’s 2018. Whore’s take cards now, aye?”
Rose was shaking as she slammed the glass down and pulled her arm back ready to break the kid’s nose. She hadn’t noticed Ruby coming from behind the bar to intervene until the woman stepped in front of her.
“I’ve got this, lassie. Go. Take your drink an’ get some fresh air.” She handed Rose her glass and nudged her towards the door. “Go on.”
As she stalked to the patio door, Rose heard the kid yelling at Ruby. “Why’dya do tha’, Ruby? I’s gonna score!”
The freezing temperature was a shock to her system and helped to cool some of the anger burning in her blood. Was this what her life was going to be like with Alec? Everyone assuming she was only shagging him so he’d take care of her? Or assuming he was paying her to play his fiancée?
All she’d wanted was for Alec to be looked upon with favor, but she’d probably made him look worse. “Stupid, Rose! Stupid!”
She took another sip of her drink, shuddering at its strength. The cold finally started to get to her, so she drank some more in an effort to warm her up. Once she’d finished her drink, she told herself, she would go back and face the fuckers. Her eyes wandered over the patio. It was similar to the banquet room in the basement with the fairy lights laced in the thin branches of garland. She could see a fountain in the distance, turned off due to the weather.
Fabric slipping over her shoulders startled her. She turned her head to see Alec draping his jacket over her. “That’s the second time tonight you’ve scared me, Detective Inspector.”
Alec wasn’t in the mood to tease. He wrapped his arms tightly around her and pulled her back to his chest. “Why didn’t you tell me what people were sayin’ to you?”
She sighed. “‘Cuz, I wanted you to have a nice night an’ not worry about anythin’. I knew comin’ here was gonna be hard enough. I shoulda jus’ stayed home. Bein’ here made everythin’ worse.”
The alcohol was making her natural accent heavier and Alec would have said she’d never sounded more adorable if it weren’t for the words spilling from her lips.
“No, Rose. No.” He spoke directly into her ear in a soft burr. “You bein’ here with me made this night bearable. You make livin’ life bearable. Just havin’ you by my side, holdin’ my hand or havin’ you in my arms. Doesn’t matter. Your love gives me strength.” Rose sniffed and his heart sank. “Don’t cry, love.”
“I love you, Alec. So damn much!” She turned in his arms to face him. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be than by your side.”
Now he felt the need to tease her. “Except maybe on a stage.”
She didn’t hesitate with her answer. “No. If I had to give up dancin’ or you, I’d never dance again.”
Alec lungs ceased all movement. To someone listening to their conversation, what Rose had said would just be idle words; a silly little turn of phrase. But he knew, he knew, what her words meant. How could she love him so much? How did he get so lucky as to have this fantastic lass who wanted to be by his side forever?
“Rose.” Her name came out as a prayer and a sob. Tears spilled over his rough cheeks as his lips crashed to hers, gently coaxing her tongue with his. They kissed like there was no one else on the Earth, taking and giving their love freely between them.
A song began playing over the PA system, and Alec led them in a circular motion, keeping no space between them.
When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love
When the evening shadow and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
Oh, I’ll hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love
Rose raised her head from his chest when the lyrics brought up a memory she’d wanted to share with him. “Remember when I was comin’ home from Wilf’s? After our fight?”
“Aye. You finally told me that you loved me. That’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
“I heard this song on the train. And I felt it.” She began quietly singing the song to him.
I know you haven’t made your mind up yet
But I will never do you wrong
I’ve known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong
“You’ve got such a beautiful voice, lass. I love it. I love you.”
“Can this be our song?”
“Aye, that it can, lass.”
Chapter 7: A Family Moment
What the title says, folks. This chapter would be incredibly short and dull if it hadn't been for TenRoseForeverandever. She helped me capture the teenage essence and just made it overall better. Much of the dialogue is hers. She is amazing!
The next chapter is going to be the last one, but I'm still working on it. So, don't worry, I will be posting it... It just might be more than a week. Sorry!
Chapter 7 A Family Moment
“This cannot be happening!”
Rose peered into the mirror in her tiny bathroom and sure enough there it was: the beginning of a breakout.
She should have known this was going to happen. She’d been so stressed over planning the wedding and packing up her flat, a breakout was inevitable. She was rummaging through a box of her skin care products when her mobile starting ringing. Abandoning her search, she answered.
“Has Daisy called you?” Alec’s voice was frantic, causing Rose’s stomach to clench.
“No. What happened?” A frustrated sigh was her answer. “Talk to me, Alec.”
“We had an argument after she got home from school, an’ she stormed out sayin’ she was goin’ to your place.”
Rose walked over to the window to watch for Daisy. She had seen it coming. Since being out from under Tess’s thumb, Daisy had been slowly rebuilding her confidence and, well, she was Alec Hardy’s daughter. She had been waiting for the moment when the two eventually butted heads. She sighed. Of course, it had to happen the week of the wedding.
“What was the fight about?”
“It wasn’t a fight. It was a… disagreement.”
Rose rubbed her forehead, trying to work out the tension. She was about to have a disagreement with Alec if he didn’t start talking. “Tell me what it was about.”
The line was quiet, but she knew her lover. She pictured him pacing in his kitchen with a hand tugging at his hair. She was just about to tell him off when he spoke.
“Some boy asked her out. For a date.”
“Oh, Alec. She’s fifteen now an-“
“Don’t you start!” He growled. “She’s my daughter-“
“Oi!” She cut him off, first because he was on dangerous ground, and second because she could see Daisy approaching her building. “You might’ve been able to talk to Tess like that, but that shit’s not gonna fly with me. I see Daisy comin’, so she’s safe. Get your attitude straight and we might call you later.”
Rose ended the call, tossed her mobile on the coffee table, and went down to meet her future step-daughter. Here we go… my first solo parenting experience.
Daisy walked up, arms wrapped around her waist, sniffling. “Da’ called you?”
“Yeah, he did.” Rose put her arm around Daisy’s shoulders and lead her to the stairs. “You shouldn’t’ve run away, Daze.”
The teen sighed, sounding so much like her father. “I know. He just made me so… urrrrghh... He wouldn’t listen. Just kept sayin’ ‘no daughter of mine is gonna date some sex-crazed, hormone-addled gillie.’”
Rose smirked at Daisy’s dead-on impression of Alec but didn’t dare laugh. She didn’t want Daisy to think she wasn’t taking her seriously.
“I tried to tell him, Will’s not like that, but I couldn’t even get a word in edgewise.” She rolled her eyes. “He just kept bletherin’ on an’ on.”
“Sounds like him. Let’s get upstairs, make a cuppa, and talk.”
A little over ten minutes later, Rose and Daisy were curled up on the sofa, one on each end so they could face each other. Rose blew the steam from her tea away. “So, tell me about Will.”
Daisy smiled like the love-sick teenager she was. “He’s my chemistry lab partner an’ he’s a genius, Rose. He’s, like, super smart. I didnae find him attractive at first, but his personality makes him that way. Does that make sense?”
“Perfect sense. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My mum always told me that. Tell me more.”
“He’s a wee bit shorter than me, but I dinnae mind. Has dark hair with blue eyes. He tells the funniest jokes, mostly bad puns, but he’ll have me laughin’ so much my sides hurt. What else? He’s in his church’s choir an’ he helps support his parents and sister by workin’ at Strickland’s.”
Rose thought for a minute about the last time she had been at the chemist buying tampons. She vaguely remembered a young man restocking the shelves, but she couldn’t picture his face. “I think I might’ve seen him there once, but I can’t recall what he looks like. Why does he have to help support his family?”
Daisy took a sip of her tea, then another. “This is really good, Rose. Sorry, got sidetracked. His sister has Down-Syndrome an’ she was bein’ bullied at the middle school, so now they pay to send her to a different school. It’s just verra expensive.”
“That’s very sweet of him.”
“He is! Verra sweet. But Da’ won’t listen! He thinks all Will is interested in is sex!”
Rose sighed as she set down her mug. “Ok, Daze. ‘M about to tell you some things that’ll prob’ly make you upset, but just here me out, yeah?”
The teen frowned but nodded.
“Boys at that age are only interested in one thing.” She held up her hand when Daisy started to protest. “Nope, listen. There are definitely good guys out there but, even then, their minds an’ bodies are strugglin’ with the confusin’ signals they’re gettin’. My dad told me the same thing an’ I used to think it was complete rubbish, but thinkin’ about it, even the nice boys at my school were lookin’ for ways to get some. An’ really, who better to tell us this than someone who lived it.
“Now, onto why your dad is so against it. Think about what he does for a livin’. Most of the time he deals with the worst of humanity. It makes it difficult for him to see the good when he sees so much bad.”
“I can understand that. Really, I can. But Will is such a good person. I can’t see him just wantin’ to have sex with me.”
“I am sure Will is interested in you for you, Daisy. Your dad, an’ even me, just want you to realize what’s goin’ on in the background. Your dad’s tryin’ to prepare you for life in the real world. That bein’ said, I think he still needs to hear you out-“
Daisy huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. She flopped back in her seat. “Yeah, like that’s ever gonna happen…”
“Daze, he will. Really. But…”
“Ugh, there’s always a ‘but’.”
“I was just goin’ to say,” Rose shot Daisy a sharp look, “you both have to be willin’ to compromise.”
“Compromise?” Daisy looked wary. “On what?”
“That’s a conversation you need to have with him.”
“But you’ll be there, aye? I have a feelin’ we’ll need you to keep us calm.”
Rose laughed. “Of course, darling. Wanna stay here for a bit?”
“If it’s alright. I didn’t interrupt anythin’, did I?”
“Nah. ‘M just lookin’ for somethin’ to help stop this breakout from takin’ over my face. Don’t wanna be all pimply for the wedding.” Rose walked back over to the box she had been digging through when Alec had called.
“How’d you get to know so much?”
Rose was picking up different bottles and containers. “Had to grow up quick.”
Daisy nodded as she walked up and peeked into the box. “Nothin’ you have in there is gonna help, ya know. You have any honey and cinnamon?”
Rose walked over to her tiny pantry and began searching. “I know I’ve got honey. Not sure ‘bout the cinnamon.” Rose perused the ingredients she had yet to pack up. “I have ginger, but, nope, no cinnamon. Will that do?”
“Nah, it’s gotta be cinnamon.”
“Tell ya what, though…” Rose grinned at her stroke of inspiration. “Daze, you think Strickland’s has cinnamon?”
Daisy beamed. “Maybe? Wouldn’t hurt to go check.”
Thankfully, Strickland’s was only three blocks over, so the girls bundled up and braved the cold, early evening wind to the small store. When they entered, Rose looked up at the signs lining the aisles.
“Okay, I need to go back there.” She pointed to the back-left corner of the store where the sign said ‘Cooking/Baking’. “Why don’t you go look around an’ see if you find anythin’ you like?”
Daisy leaned over to whisper, “He might not even be workin’.”
Rose gave her a little shove. “Just go look, yeah?”
Without another word, Rose took off to the small food section. Hopefully, the young man would be working, and she could assess the situation. If she had something to go on, it might make talking to Alec about the boy a bit easier.
Seeing there was a very limited selection of spices, she let out a quiet ‘yes’ at finding they had cinnamon. She picked a container off the shelf and went in search of Daisy. When she found the teen, she was leaning against a shelf of paper towels talking with a young man who was restocking the toilet paper. When Daisy giggled and the boy flushed, Rose knew this had to be Will.
He was cute! Will was short… compared to Alec and Daisy. He looked to be taller than Rose. He was thin, had pronounced cheekbones, and had his dark hair spiked up in the front.
Rose had come to the point in her life where she could spot a scumbag within a fifty foot radius. This kid was a good kid, blushing and fidgeting in front of the girl he fancied. Time to speak to him.
“There you are, Daisy. I got what we need.” She walked up to the two red-faced teenagers. “Who’s this?”
Daisy gestured to the young man. “Um, this is m-my friend, Will.”
Rose stuck out her hand and Will took it eagerly. “It’s nice to meet you, Will. ‘M Rose.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Ms. Rose. Daisy talks about you all the time.”
It was Rose’s turn to flush red. “That’s good to hear.”
“Rose is marrying my Da’ this weekend comin’ up. So, we’ll be in Scotland.”
The disappointment on his face was noticeable. “Oh. Okay. So, you won’t be able to talk much, huh?”
“No! No, I’ll still be able to talk. We do have wifi up there, ya know. An’ I’ll be back late Sunday night. I’m gonna be stayin’ with Ms. Ellie while Rose and Da’ go on their honeymoon.”
“Oh, okay. Brilliant!” Will was grinning, ear to ear, with unabashed adoration for the young woman in front of him.
With Daisy’s equally besotted smile, Rose knew she wasn’t on either of the kids’ radar, so she slipped away to pay for her cinnamon. After her transaction was complete, she sent a text to Daisy, letting her know she would be waiting at the front of the store.
She looked through her text app and noticed a missed text from Alec.
[AH]: I’m sorry. Please call me.
[RT]: In a bit.
[AH]: Ok. I love you.
[RT]: Love you too, DI
“Hey! Sorry. I’m ready.” Rose jumped as Daisy’s voice jerked her back to the present.
Rose pocketed her phone and smiled. “Already? ‘M in no rush.”
“Nah, he’s busy. Besides, we need to get back and do our masks.”
Rose sucked in a breath at the cold that assaulted them outside. “Mask?”
“Yeah. Granny Daisy always said if you felt a pimple coming on, mix two tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon. It makes a paste that you use as a mask.”
“Are you sure? I am marrying your father in less than a week. I don’t wanna look like a mutant when I walk down the aisle.”
“It’ll work. I used to get breakouts all the time living with my mum. This trick helped me out a lot.”
“Well, if Granny Daisy says it works, then it works.”
Fifteen minutes later, Daisy was mixing up the paste when Rose’s mobile rang, Alec’s face staring back at her. Impatient man.
“You didn’t call.”
“Because Daisy and I are busy.”
She couldn’t stand how dejected he sounded. “What’s wrong, love?” When he didn’t respond, she rolled her eyes, momentarily forgetting he couldn’t see her. He could be such a baby sometimes. “Alright then. I’ll walk Daisy home after dinner, yeah? See you.”
Rose pulled the phone away from her ear, when she heard Alec shout, “Wait! Rose!”
She sighed. He was going to give her gray hair. “What?”
“I could bring over pizza. If you lasses wanna see me, that is.”
He was trying; she knew that. And maybe he and Daisy could talk this out.
“Lemme ask Daze.”
At the sound of her name, Daisy offered her a questioning look.
“Your Dad is offerin’ to buy pizza. What do ya say?” Rose covered the microphone to speak privately to Daisy. “He’s tryin’, sweetheart. Give ‘im a chance?”
The teenager shrugged, but then nodded, an apprehensive smile on her lips. “Yeah, alright then.”
“Okay, DI Hardy,” Rose told Alec, “seems like you have a deal. But I want jalapeños on my pizza and Daze wants a pan of their fudge brownies.” She shot Daisy a wink making the teen giggle.
“Aye. See you soon.”
“What’s your assessment, Detective Inspector?”
Alec sighed as he and Rose strolled down Main Street. Two nights ago, when he and Daisy had had their disagreement, they’d talked it through which had led to Alec agreeing to meet Will. It had helped the lad’s case when Rose said she’d met him and felt he was genuine.
So, tonight, he and Rose had had dinner with Daisy and Will. Alec prided himself on his ability to read people and Rose had pointed out that he was a human lie detector. The kid had been nervous throughout the meal but had answered every question Alec had thrown at him.
“I think he’s a good kid. He pulled out Daisy’s chair, was very attentive to her. He’s still a teenage boy, but he obviously respects her. His parents seemed alright from the brief amount of time I spoke with them.”
Will’s mum, dad, and baby sister had wanted to meet Daisy as well and offered to pick up the kids and take them for ice cream. Alec had allowed it since the teenagers would be chaperoned.
“I still think she’s too young to go out on dates alone with him.”
Rose nodded thoughtfully. “I agree with that.”
“I never did thank you, lass. For talkin’ to Flower an’ helpin’ us come to an understandin’.” He kissed the top of her head. “You are a wonderful mother to Daisy.”
Rose hummed as that one compliment sent her thoughts spiraling out of control.
Alec noticed her lack of a verbal response and the frown marring her beautiful face. “Rose?”
How was she going to respond without sounding like a cow? How could she tell him about the rush of worries and fears she’d just experienced when he called her Daisy’s mother?
Alec stopped walking and pulled her to a stop. She couldn’t meet his eyes just yet, so she surveyed their surroundings. They were next to the park, not far from the playground. Silently she tugged him towards the seesaw. Walking to one side of her favorite childhood pastime, she got into position, ready to sit, and gave her love a beaming smile.
Alec’s notorious left eyebrow arched. She really wanted to seesaw with him? He knew she was trying to work up the nerve to say something, and his stomach was in knots. His intuition was telling him that this was going to be an important conversation. Maybe playing on the seesaw would help her to open up. Feeling like a certifiable loon, he joined her.
They teetered back and forth in silence, until Alec had had enough. He relaxed his legs and let his weight bring him all the way down. Rose squealed as she shot up into the sky, bouncing when she came to a stop.
His chuckle was soft and, once Rose stopped laughing, he spoke. “Talk to me, lass.”
Rose sighed. “Let me down a bit first.”
Alec resumed the rhythmic swinging from before.
“When you told me I was a wonderful mother to Daisy, it overwhelmed me a bit. I teach children and love doing it; I just never thought I’d have any of my own. But, all of a sudden, I have a teenage daughter, and I’m only eleven years older than her! It’s a lot to take on.”
Alec abruptly stood. “Rose, love, I never meant to pressure you…”
She held up her hand. “Shut up, Alec. ‘M not finished. Come on, keep seesawing. I’ve missed this.”
He shook his head in fond exasperation. “What am I gonna do with you?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know. Anyway! After my initial panic, I thought about how it would be not havin’ Daisy in my life an’ I don’t want that life. I want to be her mum.” Alec smiled, his heart so full of love. However, at the sight of her furrowed brows and tears, his smile slipped. Rose bit her lip and spoke without meeting his eyes. “But, then it brought up another thought. What about children of our own? Is that somethin’ you would want with me?”
Alec hated the fear of rejection he could hear in her voice. It was time to put an end to her doubts. “You make me so happy, lass. Happier than I ever thought I could be. I know I’ve told you so before, numerous times. Only thing that could top that would be seein’ you holdin’ our wee one in your arms.”
The husky warmth of his Scottish burr and the love shining in his eyes was just what she needed. She hopped off her seat, causing an unsuspecting Alec to plop unceremoniously on his backside. He never even got a chance to right himself. Rose threw her arms around his neck, tackling him to the grass.
“I was so scared that you wouldn’t want to have a baby with me,” she mumbled into the skin of his neck. “I’m not gonna lie, I’m nowhere near ready to have one right now… maybe in a few years, but just to know that it’s a possibility for us, makes me so happy.”
He squeezed her tight. “Well, I’m not gettin’ any younger, but we’ve got time. Let’s just concentrate on getting married in three days. Aye?”
Rose’s answer was a toe-curling, pants-tightening snog.
Chapter 8: Mr. and Mrs. Hardy
Here it is! The wedding and slightly honeymoon with definite sexy times!
Sorry it took so long. I really struggled getting this chapter written.
TenRoseForeverandever, what can I say that hasn't been said. You are wonderful and I love you! SO much heart and talent! *mwah*
Chapter 8 Mr. and Mrs. Hardy
“Look at mah boy,” Adelaide Hardy cooed, much to her son’s embarrassment. “You are so handsome, Alec.”
Tears bloomed in her eyes as she covered her mouth with both hands. A rush of affection for his mother flowed through Alec, and he stepped forward to embrace her.
“For God’s sake, Mother, I’m thirty-nine years old,” he chuckled. “An’ it’s not like it’s my first go ‘round.”
“Shut yer geggy! This may not be yer first go ‘round, but it’s the first time I’ve seen true happiness in yer eyes since wee Daisy was born.”
Alec squeezed his mother tight and ended the hug. “It took me a wee bit longer, but I found it.”
Adelaide wiped the moisture from under her eyes. “Found what?”
“A love like you and Da’ have.”
She grabbed the lapels of his black Prince Charlie jacket under the pretense of straightening it out. “Yeh know,” her voice broke and her bottom lip trembled, obviously emotionally overwhelmed. “I do believe I’m gonna need a drink. See yeh by The Tree, my son.”
He smirked at his mother. She’s a special one. Just like my lass. But Rose handled affection better than his mother did.
Rose. He couldn’t believe today she would become his wife. Last night he hadn’t been able to sleep so he’d sent Rose a text and had been secretly delighted to find that she hadn’t been able to sleep either. They had talked on the phone for hours, telling stories they’d never gotten around to telling, him sharing his family’s history, and in between the silence, just listening to each other breathe. He had woken up with the phone in his hand, unable to remember when exactly he had drifted off. He smiled as he adjusted his sgian dubh, thinking of his love falling asleep, drooling on her mobile.
Someone knocked on the door of his childhood room at his granny’s. “Come in.”
“We’re going to be late. Are you ready yet?” Miller walked in wearing an emerald green pantsuit with a ivory, silk blouse. With her hair and make-up done, she looked beautiful. Alec decided he should let her know.
“You clean up good, Miller.”
Ellie laughed. “You really know how to flatter a girl, sir.” She gave him the once over. “Don’t you look like a proper Scotsman.”
“I think the word you’re looking for is authentic.”
Her confusion was evident as she attempted to work out what he had meant. While she pondered, Alec placed his wallet and keys in his sporran. “Come on. We’re goin’ to be late.”
He walked around her, heading towards the car. He could almost feel Miller’s gaze on his arse as she followed. And…three…two…one!
“OH! I did not need to know that! Bloody bastard!”
Alec’s laughter echoed through the house.
Rose grinned as she heard Alec laughing. She ran over to the window, trying to catch a glimpse of him in his kilt, but she couldn’t see him from where she was. She and Donna had slept in the guest cottage that had once been the original outdoor kitchen, separated from the main house in case of a fire. She’d learned that and more about the history of Granny Daisy’s house from Alec last night.
“Oh, no you don’t, Rose Marion Tyler!” Donna grabbed the bride by her long, curly ponytail.
“Oi! Don’t mess up my hair!” She slapped at Donna’s hand. “I just wanna see him.”
“You’re gonna see him in less than twenty minutes. Now, come on. Let’s finish gettin’ you ready.”
She adjusted the skirt of her emerald, one shoulder gown, and knelt before Rose. “Leg.”
Dutifully, Rose exposed her right leg for the lace garter that had been her mum’s. It was the only thing she’d had from her mum and dad’s wedding.
She steadied herself on the bedpost as Donna helped her into her royal blue ankle boots. The footwear had been a gift from her new friend, Jack Harkness. The two had just clicked when they’d met. Jack’s Dresses and More held the contract as the dance studio’s costume supplier and, since then, Jack and his business-partner-husband, Ianto, had been part of many group dinners.
Boots on, Rose studied her appearance in the mirror. Side-swept bangs framed her face with the rest of her wavy hair pulled back into an elegant ponytail that cascaded over her shoulder that was exposed by the strapless, white satin dress. The skirt belled out just enough to cover her shoes. There were no accents, beading, or lace. Amy had teased her in the bridal store, telling her: It’s amazing how you can make a plain dress look like the most beautiful gown. I’m convinced you could wear a bin bag and make it look high class.
There was a reason she had picked a ‘plain’ dress. She had her something old with her mum’s garter; new and blue with her boots; as for borrowed…
She smiled as Donna draped Granny Daisy’s tartan wrap around her shoulders, the only accent the dress needed.
Thick blue stripes on green wool made up the signature squares of the plaid. A single red line and double white lines added to the design with a faint pink dotted strip traveling between the white ones. The fabric was crossed over her chest and wrapped around to tie at the small of her back in a square knot. Donna draped the excess tartan down the back of Rose’s dress.
Donna stepped back to admire her handiwork. “Oh, Blondie. You make such a beautiful bride!”
Rose met her maid-of-honor’s reflection and gave her a watery smile. “Thank you, Cousin, for everything. I can’t wait to do all of this for you in March!”
The door creaked open and Wilf peeked his head around. “Oh my. Look at my girls.” Both women were blushing as he stepped in, looking dapper in his gray morning jacket. He picked up Donna’s ivory cashmere wrap. “Here, darling, put this on. It’s quite cold out there. Will you two be warm enough?”
Rose laughed. “You sound like Alec.”
Wilf held Donna’s wrap as she fastened the front closed. “Great minds and all that.”
Once Donna had her shoulders covered, she grabbed her flowers, and handed Rose her own bouquet. “Ready?”
Was Rose ready? She thought of the conversation she and Alec had had last night. They talked for hours about everything and nothing at the same time. One thing he’d said had stayed with her all day.
“I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life lovin’ you.”
She had immediately teared up and whispered her love for him. She was more than ready. Giving her family a wide smile, she nodded. “How fast can we get there?”
Wilf laughed as he led the blushing bride to the car. Donna helped stuff Rose into the back seat while shaking her head and smiling. “You got it bad, Blondie.”
Alec stared at the scene in awe. Donna had outdone herself. White fairy lights had been wrapped around the sweeping branches. Paper lanterns hung from the Birnam Oak, swinging in the breeze. A wreath of ivory roses and purple heather was fastened to The Tree trunk behind the officiant. Close family and friends were seated on what appeared to be chairs made from tree branches. How Donna had managed to find chairs like that astounded him.
Instead of the obligatory white runner between the groups of chairs, a light brown one that looked as if was made of hemp stretched out before him. Miller appeared at his side.
Alec sighed, unable to meet his best friend’s eyes. “You can call me Alec… Ellie.”
Ellie took a deep breath before opening her mouth to speak, but no words came.
“I’ve made this awkward, haven’t I?” He asked, looking everywhere but at her.
She nodded with a heavy exhale. “So awkward, sir.”
“Forget I ever said it.”
The reverend beckoned the pair forward.
Alec sighed in relief. “About bloody time.” He held out his arm to his best man. “Come on, Miller.”
Being the ever-observant detective that he was, Alec took in his surroundings as he and Miller reached their positions at the front of the congregation. Seated in the front row of the groom’s side sat his parents, Granny Daisy, Daisy, and Mrs. Henchard. Alec had thought nothing of inviting his former mother-in-law. She had been honored at being invited and had spent the night, sharing a room with her granddaughter. Daisy had cried in happiness when she’d seen the older woman.
Behind them sat his sister, Alice, and her friend, Stacey. Alec was smarter than his sister gave him credit for but kept the fact that he knew Stacey was more than his sister’s friend to himself. On the same row as his sister was Dirty Brian, Tom, and Fred. And on a row by themselves, Victor and Gemma were huddled together, the new husband wanting to keep his bride warm.
The front row of Rose’s side was empty except for Donna’s fiancé, Lee, who was watching the back hoping for a glimpse of Donna. Keep Calm and Dance On made up the second row: Amy and Rory on the end, and Clara and Danny sandwiched in between Jack and Ianto.
Every person present had to be driven to the edge of the woods. From there, they’d walked the short distance to the site. Everyone had been thankful the weather had held out that week and the ground was dry.
The crunch of leaves caught Alec’s attention and his stomach swooped. This was it! He was so excited to marry his lass, but he was also a wee bit nervous about the surprise he had planned for Rose.
Turning, he wondered when the ivory trifold screen had gone up at the end of the aisle and who the hell had put it up. That’s when he noticed two young lads from the town, dressed in suits, standing on the either side of the screen, and their sister standing next to some music equipment. When he saw the young woman nod and turn to the stereo, Alec faced the screen, impatiently waiting for his Rose, and her response to his surprise.
Rose’s laugh filled the clearing when Moonlight Sonata began playing. The sound was music to his ears (pun intended) and his smile stretched wide as he thought back to the night they’d first made love. Sitting with her under a cover of stars and fleece, he’d known that night he would do everything in his power to hold on to his precious lass. This song, however melancholy, brought him joy whenever he heard it.
Rose was still laughing when Donna stepped around the screen and began her descent down the aisle. Alec smiled at the ginger woman who, he had to admit, sometimes worked his nerves. He mentally shook his head at her impractical dress. At least she has a wrap. Silly women and their irresponsible fashion decisions!
He stepped up to Donna and reached for her hand. He led her over to her spot. Pressing a kiss to her cheek, he whispered in her ear, “Everything is perfect. Thank you, Donna.”
“It was my pleasure. Now, shoo. Here comes your bride.”
He returned to his spot. Taking that as their cue, the boys moved the screen. Alec covered his mouth with his hand, tears pooling in his eyes.
His Rose. Standing there on Wilf’s arm was the most gorgeous woman he’d ever seen. Her smile was wide and tongue-touched, her eyes were glistening, and she was positively radiant in his granny’s clan wrap.
He dropped his hand, beaming at his bride as she floated towards him. In no time at all, she was at his side reaching out for his hands.
He leaned down to whisper softly in her ear. “You look so beautiful, lass.”
Before he could pull back she breathed, “My Detective Inspector. So handsome.”
The ceremony went by rather quickly. Before he knew it, it was time for them to recite their vows. They had chosen to say their own, and Alec had his paper in his sporran. Rose had requested to go first.
Blowing a breath out through pursed lips, Rose unraveled a piece of paper, and met his eyes. “Our first encounter ended with me telling you to piss off...” she paused for laughter, making him give her a smirk. “… even if I did think you were very attractive. We were given a second chance an’ you let me in. Now, I get to see the real you, the man behind the gruff exterior, an’ I’ve never seen a more beautiful soul. I can’t wait to see where our life together takes us. I can handle anythin’ with you by my side. I love you, Alec Hardy.”
He watched, completely overwhelmed, as she folded her paper and passed it over to Donna. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He knew she loved him, but seeing her in his family’s colors, framed by the sunset, and declaring her love for him in front of their family and friends was his undoing.
Rose turned back to him, tongue perched at the corner of her smile, watching him expectantly. Right! His turn.
With shaking hands, Alec fumbled with his sporran, and removed the piece of paper he’d ripped out of his pocket notebook.
He sniffed, cleared his throat, and looked at Rose. His beautiful Rose. The lump that had formed in his throat suddenly got bigger. How could he begin to explain how he felt about her?
He attempted to clear the ‘obstruction’ from his throat again. “Ro-Rose… I…” Sniffing, he looked down at his paper, and a tear splattered on the tiny lines. The words were blurring together. He shook his head, knowing he wasn’t going to get through this. Looking at his Rose, he decided to speak the words that kept his heart beating. “I just… I love yeh, lass.”
He waved his hands in an attempt to convey there was more to it but, thankfully, Rose knew him. She nodded through her tears. Cupping his cheeks, she pulled him down for a chaste kiss.
Behind them, not one person had dry eyes.
The full moon illuminated the lake next to the cottage that belonged to the newlyweds for the week. Rose, clad only in Alec’s dress shirt, sipped her tea as she watched the tree tops sway in the wind. She’d been sleeping quite soundly in her husband’s arms when a clap of thunder had startled her awake. The proprietor had warned them a storm was approaching and had made sure to show them where the extra supplies such as candles and torches were held.
After the wedding, the small party had retreated to the same restaurant Victor and Gemma had married in. They didn’t rent the place out, but Donna had reserved the cellar banquet room. Rose had been overjoyed to see Ruby, her hero of a bartender, again. Ruby had made sure that neither Rose nor Alec had an empty glass the entire night.
Dinner had been a buffet of various Scottish and English dishes. Everyone had talked, laughed, and enjoyed plenty of wine. When it had been time to cut the cake, they had fed each other small bites of their non-traditional chocolate cake.
Their first dance as husband and wife had been perfect. Alec had held her close to his body, almost cradling her. She hadn’t been able to hide her surprise when he’d quietly sung the lyrics to her. She had never heard him sing before, and she’d later told him he had made a big mistake because now she’d want to hear him sing all the time.
“If it would make you happy, I’ll sing everyday.”
She smiled into her mug as she replayed his words. Her husband was wonderful.
Long, warm arms encircled her from behind, making her squeak in surprise. Alec chuckled. “What are you doin’ outta bed, Mrs. Hardy.” The newlyweds flinched at the flash of lightning cracking, immediately followed by the deep, rumbling thunder. “Never mind. Why didn’t you wake me?”
Snuggling back into his nude body, Rose hummed in contentment. “I didn’t want to disturb you, but I have to admit, I’m glad you’re up.” He squeezed her tight, pressing his front to her back. She felt his cock coming to life. “Mmmmm, looks like somethin’ else is up too.”
He released one arm from around her to unbutton the top four buttons of his shirt. Once he had made an opening, he cupped her breast, rubbing his thumb over her nipple. Using his other hand, he swept her hair away from her neck, pressing warm, open-mouthed kisses that made her shiver.
“You, my bonnie wife, look bloody delectable in nothin’ but my shirt.” He pinched her hardening nipple, and the sensation shot right to her sex. She cried out, accidentally dropping her mug on the plush rug. She probably should have picked it up, to keep the tea from staining the fibers, but the only thing Rose could think of was snogging Alec to within an inch of his life.
She turned her head, unlatching his lips from her neck, and lifted her mouth to his. She thrust her tongue inside, moaning when he sucked on the tender muscle. His hand had stopped its delightful torture of her breast, so she covered his hand with hers, encouraging him to handle her roughly.
When she reached back, encircling and stroking his weeping cock with her free hand, Alec broke the kiss to growl in her ear. “On the bed. Now.”
The thought of having him inside her caused wetness to seep from her core. She knew exactly how she wanted him.
“No,” she purred. “You get on the bed.”
He smirked. “What do you have in mind, Mrs. Hardy?”
She devoured that smirk with her lips. “Sit up against the headboard and you’ll find out.”
Now, she sported her own smirk as her befuddled spouse clumsily assumed the position. Seeing him there, hard, and ready for her had her uncoordinated in her approach as well. She straddled his lap, just shy of where they both wanted. Their eyes met, and they started laughing.
“So much for tryin’ to seduce each other.” Rose nuzzled Alec’s nose with hers, smiling wide at the level of trust and intimacy they shared. Being able to laugh in bed at their most vulnerable was something she cherished.
Alec’s left eyebrow arched as he looked down at his rock-hard erection. “I dunno, I’d say it was a very successful seduction.”
She licked her lips and stroked him as his hands went to her chest. “Mm-hm.”
She felt herself growing slicker by the second and couldn’t wait any longer. Rising on her knees, she closed the distance, and took him inside her. When he was as deep as he could possibly be, Alec grabbed her hips, holding her in place, and buried his face in the crook of her neck.
Rose began to rock, squeezing her inner muscles around him. Grunting, Alec lifted his head, and tore the shirt open, baring her fully. Bending slightly, he latched onto her left nipple, suckling fervently. She slid one hand in his hair, gripping the strands at the back of his head to hold him to her chest, and placed the other on his right shoulder for leverage.
When he began kneading her bum and his carnal treatment of her breasts became aggressive, Rose began to undulate faster above him. He was losing control and she loved it; it made her orgasm so much more forceful.
She was getting close, the muffled moans coming from him as he worshipped her chest combined with the wet sounds of their coupling, spurring her on. Letting go of him to grip the headboard, Rose rode him with abandon, crying out. “Fuck, Alec! Yes, please! Bite me, love. Mark me,” she pleaded breathlessly.
Happy to comply, he kissed his way up from her breasts, sucking the skin where her neck met her shoulder into his mouth, beginning his sign of possession.
Rose was whimpering as he forcefully bucked his hips up into her and, four hard thrusts later, he pulled her down onto his cock as he sank his teeth into her tender skin. He held her so tightly as he spilled into her, all she could do was grind herself on his member, getting off from the pain and the intensity of their passion.
He removed his mouth and placed tender kisses over the love bite. It was the most violently he had even bitten her, but he knew his wife enough to know she enjoyed it. His Rose was a fiery lass.
Her head fell to his shoulder, her nose pressed against this throat. He kissed the top of her head and stroked his hands over her back as they came down from their high. Once their heart rates had slowed and the rain had started, Rose removed the shirt, and they lay down and huddled close under the duvet.
Alec had tried to go to the loo for a flannel, but she had stopped him. “No, stay.” She giggled. “What we just did was waaaay better than Hotel Sex.”
He chuckled as he pressed a kiss to her luscious lips. “That is because, my darlin’ wife, we just had Honeymoon Sex.”
She hummed and attempted to burrow further into his arms. “I like the sound of that. I gotta say, I like feeling you between my legs. An’ when ‘m all sticky when I wake up, it reminds me of how it got there.”
Alec groaned. “Rooooose, you cannae say things like when we’re about to go to sleep. Thank fuck for the pacemaker, because otherwise you’ll be the death of me, lass.”
She rolled her eyes. “Piss off, Hardy.”
“I’ve got a better idea.”
Rose squealed as he rolled on top of her and snogged her silly. Honeymoon Sex beat Hotel Sex hands down.