The landlord came over shortly after they called him, and Amanda and Patrick made it clear to him that they wanted to move. At first, they thought the guy was going to give them a hard time.
“But you guys have a lease,” he said.
“We understand that, sir,” said Patrick, “but with no way to know who placed these cameras in the vents or why, we don’t feel comfortable here.”
“Well, let me take a look at those cameras. Pretty sure the last girl in here was the one that set them up. She said something about an ex-boyfriend stalking her.”
“Wait!” Amanda spoke up. “Wouldn’t it be best to keep our fingerprints off the cameras in case the ex-boyfriend put them there and bring them to the police?”
The landlord looked at her. Patrick couldn’t see from his point of view, but Amanda could see faint traces of craziness sparkling in his eyes. “That’s exactly what I want to do. Because it’s happened in a building I personally own, I feel it’s my obligation to do the right thing and get the authorities involved. I’m wearing gloves since it’s so cold out. That’ll keep any prints off.”
“So you’re okay with us breaking the lease?” asked Patrick.
The landlord turned back to face him. “If you let me handle the cameras and the authorities, yes. Wouldn’t want you to stay where you weren’t happy.”
“Would you be willing to put that in writing?”
“Sure,” the landlord said nodding his head. He confiscated the cameras and left a few minutes after writing and signing his permission for them to break their lease on a piece of paper Patrick tore from a pad of paper.
“That was easy,” Amanda exhaled when the guy left. “Maybe a little too easy.”
“I hope he’ll be true to his word and that we didn’t make a mistake by giving him those cameras.”
“Me too, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do a little investigating on our own.”
Patrick studied his girlfriend and then smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand. “Oh, yeah, duh. This is the age of the internet.”
Amanda nodded. “I think we were just too freaked out last night to think clearly. Let’s jump online and see what we can find on Mr. Edward Rollins.”
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to find something. You’d be surprised by how many people have the same name that’s kind of unique, so Rollins is bound to bring us tons of hits.”
“Actually, let’s hope we don’t find anything,” said Amanda. “No news is good news.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” Patrick agreed.
However, they found plenty, and it wasn’t good either.
“Holy shit,” Amanda exhaled.
“Yeah, holy fucking shit. Why didn’t we think to look this guy up beforehand?”
“I don’t know. I guess one doesn’t automatically assume their landlord is going to be shady in any way, let alone a suspect in a disappearance and a murder.”
“He was also under suspicion in a few sexual assaults. My God, why is this guy walking the streets?”
Amanda shrugged. “Friends in high places? Loopholes in the system? I don’t know but I’m really scared now, Patrick.”
“Don’t be, babe,” Patrick said pulling his girlfriend close to him. We’ll get the fuck out of here.”
“We shouldn’t have let him have the cameras. What if he really put them there?”
“It doesn’t matter anymore. We’re gone, girl.”
“Damn right. I’m going to gather some essentials so we can get over to my parents’ place ASAP and then we’ll figure out where to go from there.”
“Okay. I gotta go downstairs and get something out of my truck. I’ll be back up in a sec.”
“What do you need?”
“Just a charging cord I took to work. I want to charge my other phone while we’re gone.”
“Okay, but hurry,” Amanda urged as she jumped up and headed into the bedroom to pack some clothes as well as some items from the bathroom.
Five minutes later she had a suitcase stuffed to the max. Although she couldn’t see the door from where she was, she heard it open and someone step inside the apartment. She automatically assumed that someone was Patrick.
“I’ve got a suitcase packed and ready to go. Is there anything you can think of that you want to take which I might have not packed?”
“Hey, Patrick, where are you?”
A cold feeling suddenly settled over Amanda.
Why wasn’t he answering her?
Amanda was just about to step out of the bedroom when she was confronted by what had become her worst nightmare.
“Mr. Rollins,” Amanda exclaimed. “You scared me. Where’s Patrick?”
“Just downstairs in his truck.”
“Oh,” Amanda said shakily, trying to keep her breathing and her voice under control. Yet something was wrong, and she knew it.
“What brings you back here? Is everything all right?”
“Sure,” he said gazing at her with insanity and rage in his eyes. “Everything’s just dandy.”
“Then what’s going on? Why are you here?” Amanda asked. Rollins slowly began walking toward her and she began to back up.
Rollins’s fists were clenched, and his head and jowls began to shake.
“Patrick and I need to go somewhere, so what do you want, Mr. Rollins?”
“Oh, just to fuck your conceited, spoiled little bitch brains out,” he hissed through his teeth angrily as if Amanda had done something so horribly awful to the guy that was beyond forgivable.
Amanda’s heart began to pound like never before as fear seized her body. If she had any doubts left about the guy, they were certainly gone now. “Don’t touch me!”
But it was too late to run. The big burly psycho was charging toward her, calling her a slut and every other nasty name invented as if she’d personally done something so terribly offensive to him.
“Don’t you fucking touch me!” Amanda screamed helplessly. Horrified, she looked in the doorway, desperate for her boyfriend to appear but smart enough to know he’d be no match for Rollins if he did.
The beast of a landlord shoved her roughly onto the bed as he grappled with his belt buckle.