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I Wish You Dead

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Chapter 2

I depart from the Clifton residence without accepting Mariana’s offerings of refreshments. I look up the names Mariana gave me in the criminal database, no arrests on either of them. I write down their addresses and decide to visit Nicky first. She’s about the same age as Andrea, she’s the daughter of a lawyer, somebody I was surprised his mother wouldn’t want him to be involved with, she seemed like a nice person, going to one the bigger local universities to her get her own degree in law.

Her house like the Cliftons' is a mansion. I approach the house looking up at the balconies coming off the second floor into patios. I look at the blue and black Lexus in the driveway. I approach the door and knock before looking back at the car again still amazed.

The door creeks open and a young woman is looking out at me, chestnut brown hair and dark green eyes.

“How can I help you?” she asks looking me up and down.

I guess considering the richie area, I do look kind of out of place with my white shirt, jean jacket, and black jeans.

“Are you Nicole Hernandez?” I question.

“Yes, what is this about?” she continues quizzically.

“Detective Jairo Cambridge, I’m investigating the disappearance of Andrea Clifton,” I reply.

“Mariana Clifton said you used to be friends,” I explain.

“Yeah, we still are. She just doesn’t know,” she replies.

We still are. Did she know where Andrea was?

“She also mentioned a Trent Rivers,” I continue. “What do you know about him?”

“He and Andrea were dating, but they broke up. It just wasn’t working out for them as boyfriends, they’re still friends,” she explains. “He’s here if you want to talk to him.”

“Sure,” I reply. “Did Andrea’s family know about his sexuality?”

“Yeah, his father accepted him. He loved Trent like his own son when they were trying,” she looked off to the side sadly.

“And Mariana? Henry? What did they think of it?” I continue.

“Mariana, was different. She didn’t like it. It was why she did like me, because I was being supportive of his lifestyle. It’s also why she didn’t like Trent,” she explains. “Henry’s never said much about it all.”

“Do you know of any enemies Andrea may have had?” I ask.

“No, he was nice. Aside from Mariana, people didn’t really have issues with him,” she answered.

“I’ll go get Trent,” she replied and disappeared back inside the house.

The man that comes back seems tired, and worried. He looked a lot more broken up about Andrea’s disappearance that Mariana had.

“Trent?” I asked.

He nodded.

He had pitch-black hair and sky-blue eyes with a pale skin tone.

“When was the last time you saw Andrea?” I asked.

“He called me around midnight the night before he disappeared,” Trent replied trying to keep it together. “He told me his father was dead and I tried to comfort him.”

I hang up with him around 1:30 am in the morning.

I was getting a clearer timeline.

“Did anything seem strange over the call? Any noises?” I asked.

“No,” he sniffled.

“And you Nicole?” I ask.

“I saw him a few days before I heard his father was dead from Trent,” she replied.

“Does he have any other ex-boyfriends that you know of? Or people who didn’t like him?” I ask him.

“No, I was his first relationship. It took Andrea a while to come to accept his sexuality because his stepmother spoke so much about how she disliked homosexuals. He told his father in private before he came out fully. He didn’t make friends easily either because of his family’s status,” Trent answers.

“Have you heard about the several other disappearance and dead bodies?” Nicole asks.

“No, Mariana hired me, and I only started today,” I answer turning my attention back to her.

“You should look into them. It might be a serial killer. The victims disappear and show up dead soon after,” Nicole explains. “They were all male about the same age as Andrea.”

“And they were part of the LGBTQ+ community,” Trent spoke quietly.

He looked scared now.

I hadn’t heard anything about this. Maybe the police didn’t have any solid evidence or leads so they hadn’t made a public statement, yet.

“Right, thank you. I’ll look into them,” I reply.

I couldn’t promise them anything. Private investigators usually didn’t get involved in big multi-victim cases, mainly because of limited resources and the amount of evidence.

“Can you remember anything else?” I ask finally.

Trent shakes his head without a word.

“No, sorry,” Nicole replies.

“Here’s my card if you think of anything, okay?” I reply holding out one of my cards.

“Right,” she replies nodding. “Thank you for looking into this.”

“Just doing my job,” I reply turning.

“Thank you, still,” she repeats.

I nod and make my way back to my car as they go back inside.

If Trent was the last one to talk to Andrea that meant he either left or was taken after 1:30 am. An odd time for someone grieving the loss of a parent to leave their house but not unheard of, he could have gone out to clear his head. There honestly wasn’t much else to go on, it made me consider an inside job more. But did Mariana really dislike her stepson that much? Who was in line to inherit the business if Andrea wasn’t found alive? There were only a few people who would know that. Andrea and the lawyer who handled Angelito’s will.

I called Mariana and got their lawyer’s number. I called the guy and he agreed to meet me in my office. I made the drive back to the office and he was there waiting for me.

“Hello, Matthew Harbour,” he introduced himself.

“Jairo Cambridge, Mariana hired to me to investigate her stepson’s disappearance,” I explained. “I wanted to know who was set to inherit the business if Andrea were not found alive, that may provide motive and insight.”

“As much as I disliked it, Henry Sailor, his stepbrother,” he replied. “This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen a sibling kill to get what they thought belonged to them.”

“Henry seems quite timid for something like that, his mother’s the one raising red flags to me,” I answer. “Why do dislike them? Aren’t you their lawyer, too?”

“Before I was ever their lawyer, I was Angelito’s friend. My alliance lies with him and Andrea. Angelito was my best friend, if it does come out that they had anything to do with this, I am not defending them in court and I highly doubt Angelito would want me to,” he exclaims.

“Is this why he left his business to Andrea and not Mariana? I just think he’s kind of young to handle a million-dollar business at twenty-two,” I continue.

“He trusted Andrea to continue the business, Mariana was always just interested in the money the paintings garnered rather than having an actual appreciation for the paintings, artists, and history like they did,” he explains.

“Do you really think Andrea could handle all that though? Losing his father and having to run the business?” I question.

“They discussed it at length before his passing, they had plans and ideas in place and I was to help or take over if it became too difficult for a short while,” he answered.

“What do you think of Nicole and Trent?” I ask out of the blue.

I didn’t want to give him a chance to make up something if they could have been involved in some way still.

“His friends? He loved them. They wouldn’t hurt him. Andrea trusted few people, not just because of his status in society and the money he had but because of his stepmother’s opinions.”

“About his sexuality?” I question.

“How did you know?” he asks with narrowing eyes.

“Saw magazines in his room and I asked Nicole about it,” I reply.

“Even before he said anything she was saying he was and calling him the f-word and making fun of him. Saying he’d never grow up to be a man and he didn’t deserve his status or his father’s money,” he replied.

“Why did Angelito marry her?” I ask.

“I think love blinded him. He knew who he was but he loved Mariana. He supported Andrea regardless of what Mariana had to say, either way, I think it was another reason he left the business to Andrea rather than Mariana. He wanted his business and love of art to be shared with the world, he didn’t care who or what you were, if you loved art in some form or way he would strike up a conversation with you, he wanted someone running the business that had the same care-free attitude, not someone who was going to poke fun at the art and the people who came to see it,” he answered. “It doesn’t mean he wasn’t human. He obviously made mistakes.”

I nodded.

“He knew he had made a mistake marrying her, but it was too late. He also kind of felt sorry for Henry because he had to live with her 24/7. Can you imagine if he’d been gay and had to live his whole life with all those slurs being thrown at him with no support at all? I think that’s why he’s as quiet as he is. He’s trying to disassociate himself from her, but that exceptionally hard when your family owns a multimillion-dollar company and is in the spotlight constantly not to mention the fact that Angelito just died and Andrea is missing,” he continued.

“So, you have no idea where he could have gone?” I ask. “Where’s his cellphone?”

Both Matthew and Trent had called him the night he disappeared, so where was his cellphone?

“I think it’s at the house. Nothing was found to be missing from his room. If he’d taken things I could see that maybe he went somewhere but he left everything,” Matthew exclaimed.

“There are no places he could have gone that you can think of? He didn’t have his own place, an apartment, or anything? He lived in that mansion 24/7?” I inquire.

“He does have a bungalow,” Matthew replies holding up a key.

“I have a spare. Angelito had one, too. Mariana may have it now, I guess,” he explains.

“Does he have a personal car?” I ask.

“It’s at the bungalow. I don’t think there’s anything there. But I didn’t check it, yet. I don’t know if the police know about it, either,” he answered dropping the key in my hand.

Why hadn’t he checked the bungalow? I knew he was busy as a lawyer and all, and why would no one tell the law enforcement about the apartment he may have disappeared from rather than the mansion?

“Thank you for answering my questions. I’ll call you if I have anything else,” I reply pocketing the key.

He nods and gets back in his car and leaves.

I guess I had to check out Andrea’s bungalow next.

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