direction. "I have no doubt we'll get married one of these days, right at Pemberton Point perhaps. Emilio's
an absolute doll. No head for business, but he's very good at other
things." She laughed again. "Hey, how about a drink tonight? See if
we can shake up this sleepy old town?"
"Good idea," said Mark, as the sound of a gavel rang through
the room. "I'll have my people talk to your people."
Peyton laughed again and strutted back toward Emilio, her
heels clicking on the polished wooden floor.
"So," whispered Mark as he leaned toward Darby. "That's Peyton Mayerson. Do you think my ancestors are rolling over in their
graves when they contemplate her at the helm of their precious
"Pemberton Point will never be the same."
"Let's hope not."
His words had an unexpectedly bitter ring. Darby looked up,
but he had turned away and she could not read his expression.
The gavel sounded and the room grew quiet. The man wielding it called for order, and then ran his committee through several
agenda items in quick succession. "Now we come to Pemberton
Point Weddings, Inc., looking for a change of zoning for the property known as Fairview, over there on the Point, and along with
that a liquor license." He cleared his throat. "I think we've gone
over this request enough and I feel comfortable voting to grant
what the buyer, Ms. Mayerson, needs."
"All those in favor-"
The door to the committee room burst open and Darby, along
with the rest of the crowd, spun toward the commotion. A powerfully built man filled the door frame. He wore a white T-shirt that
showed off his bulging biceps, jeans, and black combat boots. His
face was clean-shaven, with a jagged scar over one cheek, and he
sported a short, military-style buzz cut. He surveyed the room as
if looking for possible threats, his cold eyes taking in each person.
Darby recognized those eyes-they belonged to the man who'd
assaulted her at the ferry terminal. Soames Pemberton. Her anger turned to fear as he reached into the pocket of his jeans and began
pulling out an object...
There was a horrified gasp from the audience, and then a low
chuckle from the intruder. "What are you scared of? Think I got
a weapon, or something?" He pulled a piece of paper from his
pocket and brandished it before the room. "I thought you'd like to
see this little item I found in my great-granddaddy's things."
Soames Pemberton moved deliberately toward the planning
board members and held the paper up as if taunting them. Slowly
he unfolded it and pretended to read it for the first time. "Why
look at this. It's a deed from Thaddeus Pemberton to his son, Josiah, written about a hundred years ago."
He paused for effect and scanned the room. "My great-grandfather was a Methodist, deeply devoted to the Lord. He believed
in the devil and all the ways he could lead us astray." A slow smile
crept across his face. Darby felt her palms grow clammy.
"That's why he decided, all those years ago, that any Pemberton lands had to be free of alcohol, dancing, and wild women. Old
Thaddeus put that right here, in writing." He waved the paper and
said softly, "There isn't going to be any fancy resort on Pemberton
The room erupted in conversation, punctuated with a shriek
that Darby suspected came from Peyton Mayerson. The man with
the gavel banged it repeatedly, to no avail.
The gavel banged again and Soames Pemberton chuckled, raising the hair on the back of Darby's neck. "I've got copies for all
of you," he said, making his way toward a table in the back of the
room. He picked up a stack of paper, approached the planning
board, and began passing sheets out.
Darby's throat felt dry and she avoided making eye contact
with Soames. She heard the rustle of paper and saw Mark accept a
copy. After a cursory glance, he handed it to Darby.
Quickly she scanned the photocopied document. It had the
look of an original deed, plus the archaic language, but this