Witness - The White Bridge Crime Series, Book 3

 

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Chapter One

“Tommy!” Freddie Glover called through from the bar to the manager’s office.

“Yeah?”

“Can you add a bottle of vodka to this week’s stock order, please?”

“Yep.”

Tom Harwood made a note on a post-it and threw his pen down onto the desk. He rubbed his eyes wearily, before shutting down his computer and locking up the office.

He went out into the restaurant, and saw Freddie Glover, his partner of seven years, crouched behind the bar, running his finger down a long list of beverages and checking off the number of bottles he had left.

“About ready to go?” Tom asked, walking over and ruffling Fred’s hair affectionately.

“I think so. I just have to cash up.”

“I’ll do that.”

Tom went across to the till on the bar and started quickly counting the cash. He added up piles of notes and coins, kept two hundred pounds in various denominations inside the till for the next night’s float, and put the night’s bar takings into a little plastic bag, along with a cash-receipt and a note with the date on it. He shoved the bag into a little plastic box and put the box down the tube that led to the underground safe.

By the time he’d finished, Freddie had finished taking stock of the bar, and was cleaning the curved marble bar-top.

Tom quickly pushed all of the bar stools under, and fished his key ring from his pocket.

“Alright, I’m done,” Fred said finally, wiping his hands on a towel.

Tom smiled at him.

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah,” Fred said, looking around for anything he’d missed.

“What about there?” Tom asked innocently. “You missed a spot on the bar.”

“I did?”

Fred leant over to inspect the bar.

Grinning triumphantly, Tom slipped up behind Fred, sliding his hands down to cup Fred's hips.

“Here,” he whispered, licking Freddie's neck gently.

“Tom,” Fred wriggled.

“What?”

“Adrian told us to stop having sex in the restaurant. It’s a violation of the health codes.”

“No, he told us to stop having sex in the restaurant while there were clients. We’re the only ones here now.”

Tom let his tongue caress the helix of Freddie's ear.

Fred moaned softly.

“Tommy,” Fred twisted in Tom's arms, so that they were face-to-face.

“What?” Tom whispered, stealing Freddie's next breath with a deep kiss.

“I forgot,” Fred admitted, his fingers busily working on the buttons of Tom's shirt.

“Good.” Tom yanked Fred's shirt over his head and pulled him close.

Tom let his fingertips trail over Freddie's back, lightly digging into Fred's spine.

“I love you,” he murmured softly.

“I know.” Fred kissed Tom tenderly.

Freddie looped his arms around Tom's neck, and lifted his legs to wrap around Tom's waist.

Tom lifted Freddie easily and set him upon the bar-top.

Fred moaned softly as Tom's hips ground gently against his own. Tom fumbled with Fred's zip for a moment, before he lifted Freddie off the counter and slid away his jeans and underwear.

Freddie lay back against the cold marble bar-top, wriggling his hips a little in anticipation.

Tom kissed his way down Freddie's chest, spending a few moments to tease his nipples unmercifully, before he slid down to Freddie's hips. He blew lightly over Fred's tip, causing his lover to groan lustfully, before taking the tip into his mouth.

Fred's fingers twisted into Tom's dark hair, guiding his movements.

Tom obediently sped up, as Fred's hand demanded. He started moving further down as Freddie's hips started to move with his mouth.

Finally, Tom drew back with a soft moan, licking his lips lewdly.

Fred's dark eyes were hooded with lust.

Pushing Freddie's legs up and open, Tom leant down and drove his tongue deep into Fred.

Fred growled, his hands once more clamping around Tom's head, pulling him closer.

“Christ,” Fred grunted. “More, Tommy.”

Tom drew back and lightly nipped Freddie's thigh. Tom pushed down his trousers and boxers; Freddie sat up a little and ran a loving hand over Tommy's length. He leant over and kissed Tom's chest, nibbled his neck, caressed his back.

Tom stood for a moment, humming with enjoyment at Fred's actions, before he pulled his lover off the bar-top, span him around, and pushed him back onto the bar.

Freddie groaned loudly when Tom pushed inside him.

“God, you’re so tight,” Tom murmured.

He dug his fingers into Fred's hips, making him wriggle and moan.

“So good, Freddie.”

Tommy reached up and threaded his fingers into Freddie's hair, pulling his head back so that Tom could kiss him.

Fred grunted as Tom thrust deeply into him.

Tom started moving slowly, taking his time to build Freddie's pleasure.

When Freddie was trembling with his need for release, crying out with every thrust, and clawing at the bar in desperation, Tom finally allowed himself to move harder and faster, his fingers clutching Freddie's hips so that he couldn’t escape.

“Tommy!” Freddie squealed suddenly. “Tom, I can’t-” His exclamation was cut short by his scream of pleasure as he orgasmed violently.

Tom groaned as Freddie milked his length, gasping as he came.

“Jesus,” Tom panted, resting his forehead on the small of Fred's back.

“You’re good at that,” Freddie murmured.

“I know.” Tom laughed softly.

He kissed the back of Fred's neck gently, before hugging him tightly.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Fred twisted around so that he could kiss Tom.

They drew slowly apart and dressed.

“Do you fancy going out tomorrow night?” Tom asked.

“What for?”

“Well, it’s our anniversary next week, and we’re both working that night. I thought we could celebrate tomorrow instead.” He hesitated. “My friend Mark works at Chez Francois. He can get us a reservation, tomorrow at seven thirty.”

Freddie shifted on his feet.

“Chez Francois,” he said. “That place is really expensive.”

“I know,” Tom said. “But… I’ve been saving some of my salary for the past couple of months. I thought I could treat you.”

“Oh…”

Freddie rubbed his ear awkwardly.

“Can I… think about it?”

Tom stared at him.

“It’s not difficult, Fred,” he said coolly. “Either you want to have dinner with me to celebrate our anniversary, or you don’t. And, judging from your reaction to me telling you I can get us reservations at the most expensive restaurant in town without having to book seven months in advance, I’m guessing you don’t want to.”

“Tom-”

“Never mind,” Tom interrupted him coldly. “Let’s lock up and go home.”

“Tommy-”

“Leave it, Fred,” Tom snapped.

After hesitating for a moment, Freddie stepped out of the darkened restaurant.

Tom turned off the last of the lights and locked up, before joining Fred outside.

They stood in an awkward silence for a moment, before turning and heading for home.

The pair lived six streets away from The Dinner Table, in an old Victorian terraced house.

The house had originally been Tom's, and after two years of persuasion, Freddie had finally agreed to move in with him. The house had three storeys and a large cellar. After Freddie had moved in, they had converted the cellar into a home cinema, with racks of DVDs on neatly aligned wooden shelves, and a projector mounted onto the ceiling. A comfy black leather sofa sat against the back wall.

The ground floor housed the kitchen, a utility room and a small downstairs bathroom. The second level was the living room and a small bedroom, which had been converted into an office for Tom. The third story housed the master bedroom and en-suite, the main bathroom and a small spare bedroom, and the attic had been converted into a bar room. A pool table stood in the middle of the room, and a wooden granite-topped bar curved along the back wall, fully stocked with drinks, glasses and mixing flasks. Six bar stools stood around the edge of the bar.

“I’m… going to have a shower, alright?” Freddie said tentatively after Tom closed and locked the front door and flicked the hallway lights on.

“Fine,” Tom said, his voice monotone.

He disappeared into the kitchen.

Fred followed him, a slight frown on his face.

“Ar-Aren’t you going to ask to join me?” He asked tentatively.

“No,” Tom said coldly.

“Oh…”

“What’re you so upset about?” Tom asked. “You know you don’t give it up more than once a night anyway.”

Fred blinked, looking hurt.

“Fine,” he said, his voice trembling. “Good night.” He turned for the door, when Tom's scathing voice stopped him.

“FYI, when your partner of almost eight years makes an effort to ‘woo’ you, you respond to said ‘woo’ with a yes. And a little bit of enthusiasm.”

“Tom-”

“You do this every year,” Tom barked out suddenly, his control apparently snapping. “I plan something romantic for the pair of us every year, which most partners would be thrilled about, by the way, and you try to wriggle out of it, always.”

“So why do you keep trying?” Freddie asked churlishly.

“Because I love you, for fucks sake!” Tom roared. “And that’s what you do with someone you love; you spend time with them, and you do things that make each other happy.”

“I let you fuck me in the restaurant,” Fred said.

“Are you equating sex to happiness?” Tom asked.

“Well… No, but…”

“‘But’ what?”

“Never mind,” Freddie said tiredly. “I’ll have dinner with you tomorrow.”

“No, thanks. I’ve gone off the idea,” Tom said, turning away.

He yanked open the fridge and pulled out a bottle of milk. He poured a generous amount into a saucepan, turned the stove on, and put the saucepan onto the heat.

“Aren’t you going to ask if I want some warm milk?” Freddie asked.

“No. I didn’t realise you could even stand having a drink with me.”

“Tommy, for Go-”

“Don’t ‘Tommy’ me,” Tom snapped.

“Fine,” Freddie said. “Good night.”

He turned and was about to leave the kitchen, when Tom's voice stopped him again.

“You know, sometimes I wonder if you even like me.”

“Of course I like you, Tommy.” Freddie sighed. “I just… I’m not demonstrative like… well, everyone else we know.”

“Having dinner isn’t demonstrative. It’s dinner.”

“Look,” Fred said. “We spend a lot of time with Dom and Aidy, and Rex and Eli. They’re very… touchy-feely. I’m not comfortable with being so open around other people.”

“You’re not comfortable with anything,” Tom snarled. “It took me two years to convince you to move in with me.”

“Did it not occur to you that perhaps I didn’t want to live with you?” Fred growled.

He immediately regretted his statement when he saw the look of hurt on Tom's face. He ran a hand over his face tiredly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”

“It’s fine,” Tom said indifferently. “You’re right. I should have seen that.”

Turning off the stove and tipping the milk down the sink, Tom snatched his keys off the side, shoved past Freddie, and stormed out of the front door.

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Chapter Two

Freddie switched off the shower and wrapped a warm, fluffy towel around his waist with a sigh.

He went into the bedroom he shared with Tom, and pulled a clean pair of pyjamas from his dresser. He dried off and pulled on the soft pyjamas, before clambering into bed.

He flicked off the lights and closed his eyes.

The bed felt empty without Tom.

Tom usually fell asleep first; for two years, Freddie had fallen asleep to the sound of Tom snuffling gently in his ear.

Freddie didn’t mean what he said; he loved living with Tom.

He loved Tom.

He just hated showing it, because he knew it was all a lie.

Rolling over, Freddie cuddled closer to Tom's side of the bed, hugging Tom's pillow to his chest.

He didn’t want to keep lying to Tom, but how could he tell him the truth after so long.

He wasn’t allowed to tell the truth.

*

Tom unlocked his car with trembling fingers, and slid into the driver’s seat.

A sob burst from his throat as he started the engine. Tears started tumbling down his cheeks as he pulled out of the driveway and onto the road.

After a while, he had to pull over; the tears were falling so thick and fast he couldn’t see where he was going.

He pulled onto the verge and flicked his hazard lights on so that other drivers would see him, before burying his face in his hands and letting his cries overwhelm him.

*

Freddie awoke the next morning feeling cold and lonely in the large bed.

He rolled over and glanced at the clock, before stumbling out of bed and heading for the bathroom. He showered quickly, before returning to the bedroom to dress.

After a moment’s consideration, he decided to wear one of Tom's shirts; it always excited Tom to see Freddie wearing his clothes.

He went downstairs and ate a quick breakfast of cereal and orange juice, before going out to his car.

Tom's was still gone from its usual spot.

When he arrived at work, Fred found Adrian was already there.

His boss looked up as he came in.

Are you alright, Freddie? You look… ill.”

“I’m fine. Just… fought with Tom.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Just… Are you going to fire me if I get drunk at work today?”

Adrian smiled sympathetically.

“Why don’t you save it, and come over for dinner tonight. You can tell me all about it.”

“Alright.”

Freddie went over and switched on the till. He unlocked the alcohol cabinets and put a bottle of champagne requested for a birthday dinner later into a bucket of ice in one of the fridge’s to chill.

He checked all of the glasses were clean and neatly organised on their various shelves and racks, before taking out a damp cloth and wiping the bar-top.

Glancing over at the spot where he and Tom had made love the previous night, Freddie felt tears spring to his eyes, and quickly brushed them away.

“Hey,” He felt Adrian’s arm slip into his, and tug him gently away from the bar.

Fred followed Aidy unresistingly into the kitchen.

Adrian quickly made him a mug of tea, and found him some ice cream in the freezer. Adding chocolate sauce and chopped nuts, Adrian handed the bowl to Freddie.

“Thanks,” Fred said miserably.

“What happened?” Aidy asked gently.

“I… I told Tom I didn’t want to live with him.” Freddie frowned.

“What?”

“I… We had sex on the bar, last night,” Freddie said, and continued quickly, seeing Adrian’s look. “Afterwards, he asked me to go to Chez Francois tonight, for our anniversary.”

“Okay.”

“I… wasn’t overly enthusiastic.”

“Because it’s so expensive?”

“I-” Fred hesitated. “Yeah. Tom didn’t take it very well, which I guess is understandable. When we got home, I said I was going to take a shower. Usually, he joins me, and I thought it would… cheer him up a bit. He said no. Instead, he said I never had sex more than once a night, and that I tried to wriggle out of every romantic thing he’d ever planned for us. Then, he said he didn’t know if I even liked him. I’m not demonstrative like you and Dom, and Rex and Eli are, and Tom said dinner wasn’t demonstrative, it was just dinner. He said I wasn’t comfortable with anything… that it took him two years to convince me to move in with him, and I just snapped at him that perhaps I didn’t want to live with him in the first place.”

Freddie finished the ice cream and wiped away his tears.

“I didn’t mean that. I love living with him.”

“Can I ask, why did it take two years for him to persuade you? When Dom asked me to move in permanently, I said yes immediately.”

“I… didn’t want to let him in,” Fred whispered. “Living together would just let him into my life more.”

“Why didn’t you want to let him in?” Aidy asked, confused.

Freddie looked at him for a moment, before he shook his head.

“I can’t tell you,” he murmured.

“Freddie, it’s me. You can tell me anything.”

“Not this. Please, leave it alone, Aidy.”

“Alright. You need to talk to Tom. Tell him you didn’t mean it, and go to dinner with him.”

“He said he wasn’t interested in dinner anymore.”

“Well, make him interested again.” Aidy patted Freddie's shoulder reassuringly. “Everything will be fine.”

“Thanks, Adrian.” Fred got to his feet and put his bowl and mug in the sink.

“Oh, and Fred?”

“Yeah?”

“Have sex on my bar again, and I will fire you both, okay?”

Fred grinned sheepishly.

“Sorry.”

Adrian disappeared towards the manager’s office, shaking his head.

Freddie went back out to the bar and waited for the first customers to come in.

The breakfast rush usually started at around nine in the morning. There wasn’t a lot for Freddie to do, aside from making tea and coffee, until the lunchtime rush came in, and more people ordered wine or cocktails with their dinner.

Most of the evening was spent mixing spirits and more cocktails.

Fred worked until six, when the new barman, Justin, arrived.

After realising Freddie was working every night of the week except Mondays, and Tuesday to Saturday daytimes as well, Adrian had hired a new barman and sent him on a training course, so that Freddie had some help.

“Hey, Justin.”

“Hey, Fred.”

Justin slipped behind the bar and came over to the till.

“Any open orders?”

“Just a vodka and coke on table nineteen, a bottle of lager, any type, on table seven, and the champagne in the fridge goes to table ten when the Cooper party arrives.”

“Got it. Have a good night.”

Freddie nodded, although he knew he wouldn’t, and grabbed his keys from behind the counter.

Adrian saw Justin had arrived and came over to Fred, pulling his jacket on.

“Ready to go?”

“Yeah.”

They went out to their cars, and Freddie followed Adrian home.

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Chapter Three

“Hey, babe.”

Adrian was accosted by Dom as soon as he walked through the door.

Aidy let Dom kiss him, before gently pushing him away.

“Fred and Tom had a fight. I invited him over for dinner.”

Dom nodded.

“Well, it’s just about ready. I made that pasta-thing you taught me to cook last month.”

“We don’t have any pork and apple sausages,” Adrian said.

“I know. I used those frankfurter sausages from the jar instead.”

“You used- You used those frankfurters in my pasta?” Aidy asked, looking shocked.

“What? They’re sausages,” Dom said defensively.

“Hardly,” Adrian snorted. “I wouldn’t feed them to the dog. When did you even buy them, without me knowing?”

“Rachel and I have hot dogs on Thursdays when you work late.”

“Oh, God, this is horrifying.” Aidy moaned. “There’s non-food in my house.”

“They taste fine, and they’re cheaper than the pork and apple sausages.”

“So?”

“So, we’re saving at least three pounds fifty a week on sausages. That’s one hundred and eight two pounds per year we save.”

“But you’re eating non-food,” Adrian protested. “The one hundred and eight two pounds spent on good sausages is well worth it.”

“Not really,” Dom argued.

“Hey, guys,” Freddie butted in. “I’m so hungry, I’ll start eating the dog’s dinner in a moment.”

“You will be if you eat Dom’s sausages,” Adrian grumbled.

He rolled his eyes and kicked off his shoes, before stepping into the kitchen.

Dom stirred the pasta one more time, before separating it into three plates and slathering sauce over the food.

They sat down to eat.

Dom’s old Newfoundland dog, Mia, settled down at Freddie's feet with a sigh, resting her massive head against his leg.

He reached down and handed her a piece of sausage.

She licked his fingers tenderly.

“So, what happened with Tom?” Dom asked as they ate.

“We just had a fight. It was stupid. I just need to talk to him,” Fred said. “Did he come here last night?”

“No. He must’ve gone to Rex and Eli’s.”

“Can I ring them after dinner?”

“Sure.”

Freddie finished his dinner in silence, wondering what he could say to Tom.

How could he make this better?

After dinner, he went into the living room and called Rex and Eli.

“Hi, Rex, is Tom there? Can I speak to him?”

“Hi, Fred. Tom's not here.”

“Did he leave?”

“No, he never was here. Did you two fight?”

“Yeah. I need to talk to him. Are you sure he didn’t come by?”

“I’m sure.”

“Oh. Thanks. He must’ve gone to his mother’s.”

“Alright. Talk to you later.”

“Bye.”

Freddie hung up, and dialled Tom's mother’s number.

“Hi, Mrs Harwood. It’s Freddie. Is Tom there, please?”

“No, Fred, honey. Tom was supposed to come over this weekend.”

“So he’s not there?” Fred asked.

“No.”

“Alright. I’m sorry to bother you.” Freddie hung up, nibbling his lip uncertainly.

“Did you get through to him?”

Adrian and Dom came in, bringing Fred a cup of tea.

“No. He wasn’t at his mum’s, or Rex’s.”

Adrian frowned.

“Where else would he go?”

I have no idea.” Freddie sighed.

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Chapter Four

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Chapter Five

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Chapter Six

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Chapter Seven

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Chapter Eight

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Chapter Nine

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Chapter Ten

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Chapter Eleven

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Chapter Twelve

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Chapter Thirteen

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Chapter Fourteen

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Chapter Fifteen

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Chapter Sixteen

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Chapter Seventeen

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Chapter Eighteen

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Chapter Nineteen

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Chapter Twenty

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Chapter Twenty One

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Chapter Twenty Two

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Chapter Twenty Three

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Chapter Twenty Four

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Chapter Twenty Five

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Chapter Twenty Six

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Chapter Twenty Seven

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Chapter Twenty Eight

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Chapter Twenty Nine

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~

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