I met her a week after arriving on the fish-shaped island called St. Kitts in the Caribbean Leeward Islands.
As the new editor of The Observer, a weekly newspaper that served the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, I was expected to travel around the islands and get to know the people. That was a pleasurable chore to me.
St. Kitts and Nevis were paradise. When Kenneth Williams, the publisher advertised the job opening in a media publication, he said he expected me to work hard, but that I would enjoy it.
'Here you will be living in paradise,' he said. 'I have rented a house for you near the ocean that is surrounded by mango trees and coconut palms. All you must do is perform a good job and I won't evict you.' He smiled to show he was kidding. I think.
Mr. Williams -- the other employees always called him that because of Caribbean protocol -- gave me the keys to a Honda a week after I started working for him. He handed the keys over on a Friday and suggested a couple of places for me to visit.
It was nearly impossible to get lost driving in St. Kitts. A main two-lane road circled the island, wending through villages like Basseterre, the capital; Old Town where Christopher Columbus landed his ships after discovering the islands which he named St. Christopher and Nevis, which means snow clouds in Italian. A dormant volcanic peak in the center of the island is nearly always encased in clouds which look like snow. No wonder Columbus was fooled.
'If you like gambling, there is a full casino at the Marriott Hotel at Jack Tar Village,' he said. 'The manager is a friend to this newspaper. Just mention you are editor and you will be able to dine in the main restaurant with the other guests.
'Before you go to the casino, you might want to visit Keys Village,' he added. 'It's six miles to the west of Basseterre. The road follows the beach and is quite beautiful. There's a bar called the Newfoundland where the locals lime and hang out. I think you'll have fun.'
About 20 people were gathered around the Newfoundland when I arrived. I parked off the road and walked up to the bar. It was an old round building with no door -- just space for an opening and a hole in the wall through which the owner pushed .35 cents a can Carib Beer or a mixed rum drink to his customers.
I ordered a beer, sat on the curb and listened to the boom-box hanging in a palm tree. Reggae music by Ziggy Marley, Bankie Banks and Israel Vibrations -- I would later meet and interview all of them -- poured from the loudspeaker.
Behind me a low feminine voice spoke up: 'Hi, Cowboy.'
I sturned around. Lynnette Pemberton was tall, stately, in her 20s and looked like she had stepped out of a Playboy Centerfold. She wore a wrap-around island sarong, was in her bare feet, and her long hair was done up in an island bun.
'Buy me a drink?'
For the next two hours, we drank, listened to music and talked. She told me she lived in a house next to the ocean with her mother, three sisters and four brothers. She even pointed to the house which was 500 yards away.
The evening was still young when I asked if she would like to accompany me to the Marriott and visit the casino.
Her eyes came alive and literally danced.
'I have never been to a casino,' she said. 'I would love to go if my Mommy will let me.'
What an incredible sweet reply, I thought as I accompanied Lynnette, who was 28, down the road to her house. There while her mother sized me up, the island beauty asked her Mommy's permission to go with me to the casino.
She nodded. 'He's okay,' she said.
That night I taught Lynnette how to play video poker. She was an excellent student. She listened to everything I said, mentally noted my suggested strategy. I financed her with a $20 bill (she promised to return the loan by braiding the hair of tourists on the beach) and then stepped back.
Lynnette began winning from the moment she pulled the handle.
The slot machine was one of the old ones. Instead of issuing paper slips that would be traded for money at the cashier, when the player scored a win, quarters fell out of the slot. By 1 a.m., closing time for the casino, Lynnette had won over $80.
As we walked to the bar, she jangled the bag for of quarters in the tropical night.
Smiling, she turned and gave me a hug, 'I am sooooooooo happy!,' she said. 'This is the happiest day of my life.'
I looked at the sky and the clouds around the moon and had to agree with her.