With the added help of the siren on the car, Michael and Detective Oliver are only gone for fifteen minutes, but it is the longest fifteen minutes of James’ life. By the time they finally burst back in through the door, he is close to clawing at his own face again.
Amelia trails in behind them, hanging her head in hands and sobbing. James stares at her. She’d been working at the agency for the last three months. She was one of the new hires since they started signing new clients. “Sit down,” Michael says roughly. He looks like is he ready to punch something. Or someone. “Stop crying and tell us everything. Start at the beginning.”
“Here,” Detective Oliver says, gentler than Michael. She offers Amelia a chair. “Sit down. Take a deep breath. Explain what happened slowly and carefully.”
Amelia takes a shaky breath in. She avoids looking at James.
“I-I-I didn’t know what they were going to do,” she says, sniffing. “I swear to you I didn’t. I thought, I thought they were just going to broadcast what he was doing.” She glances up at James. Her bottom lip trembles. “I thought we’d just get to see you, you know. Writing. Playing your guitar. Making vegan pancakes. Getting sneak peeks of your next project. I didn’t know, I didn’t…” She dissolves into tears.
“It’s okay,” Detective Oliver says.
“No it’s fucking not,” Michael says under his breath.
“Tell us what happened,” Detective Oliver says gently, shooting Michael a warning glare.
“They came to me one day as I was leaving work. They said they were fans, that they were obsessed with the Heat series.”
“Who did?” James whispers. He can barely hear over the sound of the blood rushing in his ears.
“Two men and a woman. They said a lot of people would pay to watch a livestream from your house…They offered to give me a cut…” She dissolves into tears again. “I didn’t do it for the money,” she sobs. “I did it because I love you. Because I just wanted to be near you, always. See what you were doing. Listen to you breathing.”
“You’re a fucking nutcase,” Michael mutters.
Amelia doesn’t seem to hear him. She turns to Detective Oliver. “When you questioned me yesterday I was too afraid to admit what I’d done. I was too scared of going to jail, but maybe…Maybe that’s what I deserve.”
“That’s definitely what you deserve,” Michael says.
“Michael,” his mom says, cautioning him. He crosses his arms across his chest and doesn’t say anything more.
“What can you tell us about these men??” Detective Oliver asks. “What did they look like? Do you know how to contact them??”
Amelia nods and pulls out her phone. “They gave me a number to call on the day the house was empty. On the day they could come and install the cameras. I only called it once. I don’t know if it is still connected, but…” She scrolls through her contacts and finds the number.
“Here,” she says, passing the phone over to Detective Oliver. “This is it.”
“Call it,” James whispers. “Call the number.”
Detective Oliver looks over at Detective Roberts.
“Get the tech guys over here immediately,” she says. “We need to trace this call the second it connects.”
Detective Roberts nods and pulls his phone from the holster on his belt, dialling a number and leaving the room. Detective Oliver turns back to Amelia, who is hugging her arms to her body and shivering.
“I’m going to have to take you into custody,” she says. “You are very brave for coming forward, but what you did…”
Amelia nods and wipes her eyes. “I know.” She turns to James. “There’s nothing I can say to express how sorry I am,” she says, blinking against the tears flowing freely down her cheeks. “Knowing that I played a part in hurting you…” She shakes her head. “No punishment they give me will be great enough.”
James doesn’t say anything. He is paralysed by something much more terrifying than fear.
Detective Roberts returns.
“They’ll be here in five. I took the liberty of calling in some unis too. We’re going to need all the backup we can get.”
Detective Oliver nods. “Good. A few of them can stay here and watch over…”
“No way,” Michael interrupts. “I know what you’re going to say and it’s not happening. I’m not staying here.” He looks over at James. Frail, barely-keeping-it-together James. He knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that leaving him behind will destroy what little is left of his heart. “We’re coming,” he says firmly. “All of us.”
“Fine,” Detective Oliver says as Detective Roberts opens the door to the tech guys and the uniformed officers. “But you do exactly what I say.”
Michael nods. “Fine.”
A few minutes later, Amelia’s phone is tapped and she is handcuffed, placed in the back of a police car and driven away. James stares at her phone, silently praying that the number she provided has not been disconnected.
“Okay,” Detective Oliver says. “Show time.”
Everyone holds their breath.
She brings up the number and selects call.
The phone starts to ring.
Somebody picks up.
“Hello?” they say. He says.