The evidence against West Morgan in Celine St. Pierre’s death practically stuffed the valise she carried. Yet she lacked the most important: motive. Why had Morgan come to New Orleans? Why had he killed Celine? What circumstances had driven him to murder? Not that she needed a motive, but she’d learned juries preferred it.
Astonishingly, his attorneys had asked to meet with her.
“Mr. Morgan.” She glanced up from her notes. Eyes cold, calculating, and conceited gazed back at her through hooded lids. Celine St. Pierre hadn’t stood a chance.
“I only have a few questions.”
“Take all the time you need,” he answered. “I’ve nothing else on my agenda today.”
“Why did you kill Celine St. Pierre?”
“Didn’t you?” She glanced at the three attorneys, and suddenly she envisioned the three monkeys: see, hear, and speak no evil. “Then prove it to me.”
Removing the Stetson, he threaded his fingers through his hair. “Hell, Honey, I don’t have to. Remember? I’m innocent until you prove otherwise.”
Honey? She’d worked long and hard to get where she was. No one called her, “Honey.”
His hand was on the doorknob.
“Mr. Morgan, you agreed to answer some questions.”
After several anxious moments, Morgan shrugged off his attorney’s instructions not to answer. “Ask away.”
Glancing back at the note pad where she had listed the questions, she proceeded. “Why did you sell more than half of your assets before you came to New Orleans?”
He sat in the hard wooden chair at the end of the table, like a corporate giant ruling his boardroom. Crossing one leg over the other, he rested his ankle on his knee and his Stetson on the table. His long legs appeared to go on forever.
She asked again, “Why did you sell off your assets?”
“Ask my accountant.”
“I have.” She waited, hoping he would reply. Nothing.
“Why did you put all of it into checking accounts?”
“I’ve been to New Orleans before,” he said, and Claressa inched forward, anticipating his answer, the last puzzle piece. “Knowing your city’s reputation, I didn’t want to carry that much cash on me.”
Smart aleck. “And why would you need that much money during your visit?” At least this cowboy didn’t spurt four-letter words at her. Or lunge for her throat. Not yet, anyway.
Thankful for the civil atmosphere, she took a deep breath and a different route. “How long have you known Celine St. Pierre?”
“Mr. Morgan . . . “
“Mr. Morgan, why did you kill Mrs. St. Pierre?”
He shot forward so quickly that Claressa jerked back. West leaned as far as possible over the wide table and demanded, “Look at me.”
She tilted her chin defiantly, met his gaze, and tried to seem undisturbed.
“I’m successful. I’m rich. Why would I have to kill someone?”
“Rich people kill all the time. Don’t you read the news? Why would you kill Mrs. St. Pierre? What’s the connection?”