On shaky legs, just in case the landlord was in the apartment below and might hear her footsteps, she crept up to the living room window as quietly as she could and looked down at the driveway below.
The landlord’s car was gone.
Exhaling a huge sigh of relief, Amanda quickly called Patrick at work. He answered right away.
“You got a minute?” Amanda asked, not hiding the panic in her voice.
“Always for you, babe. What’s up? Something wrong?”
Amanda filled him in as quickly as she could.
“Wow. Did he leave a note explaining why he entered the place?” Patrick asked when she was done.
Amanda hadn’t thought to look for one. She scanned the kitchen counter and table quickly and said, “No. Nothing. Patrick, I swear he opened one of the dresser drawers.”
With her smartphone to her ear, she hurried into the bedroom and opened the top drawer of her dresser which contained her bras and panties. “I’m looking in the drawer now and while I don’t notice anything missing, it’s not like I keep a close inventory of my intimates to begin with.”
“You don’t need to, babe. That’s my job.”
“This isn’t funny Patrick.”
“I’m not laughing.”
“What do we do? It’s not like I can call the office and say hey, while I was hiding in the cabinet, what the fuck were you doing snooping around our apartment?”
“Yeah, I get you. Let me think a moment and run it by dad and see what he thinks.”
“Okay. Meanwhile, I’m getting out of here until you get in.”
“I’ll be home in just another hour or so. I’ll Skype you when I’m on my way. For now, instead of jumping back in the cabinet if he comes to the door, go lock yourself in the bathroom but be sure to take the phone with you. That way, if he lets himself in, you can see if he calls out his presence to you and if not, we’ll call the office saying you heard someone in the apartment and that it wasn’t me.”
“I’ll be out of here before that can happen. I’m grabbing my keys and heading out now. I need to get a few things at the grocery store for dinner tonight anyway. We’re out of butter and potatoes.”
They ended their call and Amanda quickly left the apartment and scurried down the stairs. To her dismay, the landlord pulled back in as soon as she stepped off the last stair.
He parked and exited his car, Amanda hoping for an explanation as to why he’d entered their apartment.
“Hi there,” she said trying to act natural. “Are we getting new neighbors soon?”
He shook his head and said, “You sure are in and out a lot.”
“Yes,” said Amanda. “That I am. Is everything okay?”
“Sure,” he said leaning his forearms on the roof of his car as he gazed in her direction. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
Amanda gave a nervous chuckle, “We’ve been fine. Just noticed you around downstairs more often lately and thought we would be looking forward to new neighbors soon.”
“No,” he said coming around to the front of his car, closer to Amanda. “A few people have asked about it, but I don’t really have anyone in mind at the moment.”
“Oh,” was all Amanda said as she moved closer to her own car. Why did she have a feeling the unit’s emptiness had something to do with her? “Well, maybe soon then.”
The landlord’s expression was slowly morphing into his creepy one. His eyes bore into her with laser-like intensity. It was as if he was studying her inside and out. She wasn’t sure what to make of his mood at the moment. Just what was the guy feeling? Angry? Determined? Curious? She just couldn’t read this weirdo.
“Sounds like you like the idea of having some neighbors,” he finally said.
“Well, sure, why not?” Amanda said with a shrug. “Some company would be nice.”
“I’m around if you ever want company,” he said, making her regret her words in an instant.
Amanda chuckled nervously once again and said, “That’s okay. I know you have better things to do and we’re not home much these days anyway.”
“Oh,” the landlord said almost in a tone that suggested he thought she was full of shit.
“Anyway, it was nice chatting with you. Gotta get over to the grocery store.”
“Yes. The dinner ingredients aren’t going to materialize on their own.”
He made a slight sound that was a cross between a snort and a chuckle. For a second, he almost seemed more relaxed and as if he was amused.
But then those laser eyes bore into her with God only knew what was on the guy’s mind as Amanda said goodbye and took off, trying not to appear nervous or in a hurry.