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Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #4)

Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #4)

4.6 2141
by Charlaine Harris

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Psychic Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full with an amnesiac vampire in the fourth seductive novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

When cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse sees a naked man on the side of the road, she doesn’t just drive on by. Turns out the poor thing hasn’t a clue who he is, but Sookie does.


Psychic Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full with an amnesiac vampire in the fourth seductive novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

When cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse sees a naked man on the side of the road, she doesn’t just drive on by. Turns out the poor thing hasn’t a clue who he is, but Sookie does. It’s the vampire Eric Northman—but now he’s a kinder, gentler Eric. And a scared Eric, because whoever took his memory now wants his life.

Sookie’s investigation into why leads straight into a dangerous battle among witches, vampires, and werewolves. But a greater danger could be to Sookie’s heart—because the kinder, gentler Eric is very difficult to resist...

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Dead to the World, the fourth novel in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire saga (Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, and Club Dead), begins with everyone's favorite telepathic waitress, Sookie Stackhouse, making a New Year's resolution: to not get beaten up by supernatural beings. Yeah, right!

Sookie's life is at a crossroads. Her former boyfriend Bill, a strikingly handsome 137-year old vampire who has arguably been the source of most of her problems, has left for the country on a fact-finding mission for the vampire Queen of Louisiana. For the first time in a long time, Sookie has control of her own life. She duly resolves to stay out of trouble with supernatural beings, but on the way home from work, she sees a naked blond man running down the road. Being the kind-hearted soul that she is, Sookie stops to help. The man turns out to be Eric, a powerful vampire who not only owns Fangtasia, a popular tourist bar in Shreveport, but is also one of the most influential vampires in the region.

After taking him home, Sookie quickly realizes that the blond vampire has amnesia. She calls Eric's trusted subordinates and is stunned by what she hears -- the area has been invaded by a coven of shape-shifting witches bent on controlling all supernatural groups! To complicate matters, Sookie's only brother, Jason, is missing. Can Sookie keep Eric safe and find her brother without breaking her New Year's resolution? Of course not!

Overflowing with vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and witches, Dead to the World epitomizes escapist literature -- a little bit of fantasy, a little bit of mystery, and a whole lot of fun. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Fans of Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake looking for a lighter version of the vampire huntress should cotton to Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic Louisiana gal who really wants to be normal, but suffers from a huge self-confidence problem, a case of permanent bad luck, difficult relatives and a penchant for attracting unsavory characters of the not-quite-human kind. In this fourth quirky installment in this hitherto mass-market series (after 2003's Club Dead), Sookie finds that her bad luck has taken a new turn for the worse. Sookie's love interest, Bill the vampire, runs off to Peru to do research. In his place, Sookie is stuck with Eric, Bill's boss (and head vamp for the district), who appears out of thin air buck naked with no memory of who he is or what he does. Coincidentally, Sookie's brother Jason goes missing. Less coincidentally, but more ominously, a coven of witches (who also happen to be shape-shifters and vampire blood addicts) comes rolling into the nearest big city, looking for trouble. Consistent, well-built characters and a strong, action-packed plot that will keep readers guessing to the end distinguish this frothy fusion of romance, mystery and fantasy. Agent, Joshua Bilmes at Jabberwocky. (Apr. 27) FYI: Harris is also the author of Poppy Done to Death (2003) and seven other titles in her Aurora Teagarden mystery series. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
Praise for #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels

“It’s the kind of book you look forward to reading before you go to bed, thinking you’re only going to read one chapter, and then you end up reading seven.”—Alan Ball, executive producer of True Blood

“Vivid, subtle, and funny in her portrayal of southern life.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Charlaine Harris has vividly imagined telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse and her small-town Louisiana milieu, where humans, vampires, shapeshifters, and other sentient critters live...Her mash-up of genres is delightful, taking elements from mysteries, horror stories, and romances.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“The series continues to be inventive and funny with an engaging, smart, and sexy heroine.”—The Denver Post

“Blending action, romance, and comedy, Harris has created a fully functioning world so very close to our own, except, of course, for the vamps and other supernatural creatures.”—The Toronto Star

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Series
Sold by:
Penguin Group
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File size:
581 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

The New Year’s Eve party at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill was finally, finally, over. Though the bar owner, Sam Merlotte, had asked all his staff to work that night, Holly, Arlene, and I were the only ones who’d responded. Charlsie Tooten had said she was too old to put up with the mess we had to endure on New Year’s Eve, Danielle had long-standing plans to attend a fancy party with her steady boyfriend, and a new woman couldn’t start for two days. I guess Arlene and Holly and I needed the money more than we needed a good time.

And I hadn’t had any invitations to do anything else. At least when I’m working at Merlotte’s, I’m a part of the scenery. That’s a kind of acceptance.

I was sweeping up the shredded paper, and I reminded myself again not to comment to Sam on what a poor idea the bags of confetti had been. We’d all made ourselves pretty clear about that, and even good-natured Sam was showing signs of wear and tear. It didn’t seem fair to leave it all for Terry Bellefleur to clean, though sweeping and mopping the floors was his job.

Sam was counting the till money and bagging it up so he could go by the night deposit at the bank. He was looking tired but pleased.

He flicked open his cell phone. “Kenya? You ready to take me to the bank? Okay, see you in a minute at the back door.” Kenya, a police officer, often escorted Sam to the night deposit, especially after a big take like tonight’s.

I was pleased with my money take, too. I had earned a lot in tips. I thought I might have gotten three hundred dollars or more—and I needed every penny. I would have enjoyed the prospect of totting up the money when I got home, if I’d been sure I had enough brains left to do it. The noise and chaos of the party, the constant runs to and from the bar and the serving hatch, the tremendous mess we’d had to clean up, the steady cacophony of all those brains . . . it had combined to exhaust me. Toward the end I’d been too tired to keep my poor mind protected, and lots of thoughts had leaked through.

It’s not easy being telepathic. Most often, it’s not fun.

This evening had been worse than most. Not only had the bar patrons, almost all known to me for many years, been in uninhibited moods, but there’d been some news that lots of people were just dying to tell me.

“I hear yore boyfriend done gone to South America,” a car salesman, Chuck Beecham, had said, malice gleaming in his eyes. “You gonna get mighty lonely out to your place without him.”

“You offering to take his place, Chuck?” the man beside him at the bar had asked, and they both had a we’re-men-together guffaw.

“Naw, Terrell,” said the salesman. “I don’t care for vampire leavings.”

“You be polite, or you go out the door,” I said steadily. I felt warmth at my back, and I knew my boss, Sam Merlotte, was looking at them over my shoulder.

“Trouble?” he asked.

“They were just about to apologize,” I said, looking Chuck and Terrell in the eyes. They looked down at their beers.

“Sorry, Sookie,” Chuck mumbled, and Terrell bobbed his head in agreement. I nodded and turned to take care of another order. But they’d succeeded in hurting me.

Which was their goal.

I had an ache around my heart.

I was sure the general populace of Bon Temps, Louisiana, didn’t know about our estrangement. Bill sure wasn’t in the habit of blabbing his personal business around, and neither was I. Arlene and Tara knew a little about it, of course, since you have to tell your best friends when you’ve broken up with your guy, even if you have to leave out all the interesting details. (Like the fact that you’d killed the woman he left you for. Which I couldn’t help. Really.) So anyone who told me Bill had gone out of the country, assuming I didn’t know it yet, was just being malicious.

Until Bill’s recent visit to my house, I’d last seen him when I’d given him the disks and computer he’d hidden with me. I’d driven up at dusk, so the machine wouldn’t be sitting on his front porch for long. I’d put all his stuff up against the door in a big waterproofed box. He’d come out just as I was driving away, but I hadn’t stopped.

An evil woman would have given the disks to Bill’s boss, Eric. A lesser woman would have kept those disks and that computer, having rescinded Bill’s (and Eric’s) invitations to enter the house. I had told myself proudly that I was not an evil, or a lesser, woman.

Also, thinking practically, Bill could just have hired some human to break into my house and take them. I didn’t think he would. But he needed them bad, or he’d be in trouble with his boss’s boss. I’ve got a temper, maybe even a bad temper, once it gets provoked. But I’m not vindictive.

Arlene has often told me I am too nice for my own good, though I assure her I am not. (Tara never says that; maybe she knows me better?) I realized glumly that, sometime during this hectic evening, Arlene would hear about Bill’s departure. Sure enough, within twenty minutes of Chuck and Terrell’s gibing, she made her way through the crowd to pat me on the back. “You didn’t need that cold bastard anyway,” she said. “What did he ever do for you?”

I nodded weakly at her to show how much I appreciated her support. But then a table called for two whiskey sours, two beers, and a gin and tonic, and I had to hustle, which was actually a welcome distraction. When I dropped off their drinks, I asked myself the same question. What had Bill done for me?

I delivered pitchers of beer to two tables before I could add it all up.

He’d introduced me to sex, which I really enjoyed. Introduced me to a lot of other vampires, which I didn’t. Saved my life, though when you thought about it, it wouldn’t have been in danger if I hadn’t been dating him in the first place. But I’d saved his back once or twice, so that debt was canceled. He’d called me “sweetheart,” and at the time he’d meant it.

“Nothing,” I muttered, as I mopped up a spilled piña colada and handed one of our last clean bar towels to the woman who’d knocked it over, since a lot of it was still in her skirt. “He didn’t do a thing for me.” She smiled and nodded, obviously thinking I was commiserating with her. The place was too noisy to hear anything anyway, which was lucky for me.

But I’d be glad when Bill got back. After all, he was my nearest neighbor. The community’s older cemetery separated our properties, which lay along a parish road south of Bon Temps. I was out there all by myself, without Bill.

“Peru, I hear,” my brother Jason, said. He had his arm around his girl of the evening, a short, thin, dark twenty-one-year-old from somewhere way out in the sticks. (I’d carded her.) I gave her a close look. Jason didn’t know it, but she was a shape-shifter of some kind. They’re easy to spot. She was an attractive girl, but she changed into something with feathers or fur when the moon was full. I noticed Sam give her a hard glare when Jason’s back was turned, to remind her to behave herself in his territory. She returned the glare, with interest. I had the feeling she didn’t become a kitten, or a squirrel.

I thought of latching on to her brain and trying to read it, but shifter heads aren’t easy. Shifter thoughts are kind of snarly and red, though every now and then you can get a good picture of emotions. Same with Weres.

Sam himself turns into a collie when the moon is bright and round. Sometimes he trots all the way over to my house, and I feed him a bowl of scraps and let him nap on my back porch, if the weather’s good, or in my living room, if the weather’s poor. I don’t let him in the bedroom anymore, because he wakes up naked—in which state he looks very nice, but I just don’t need to be tempted by my boss.

The moon wasn’t full tonight, so Jason would be safe. I decided not to say anything to him about his date. Everyone’s got a secret or two. Her secret was just a little more colorful.

Besides my brother’s date, and Sam of course, there were two other supernatural creatures in Merlotte’s Bar that New Year’s Eve. One was a magnificent woman at least six feet tall, with long rippling dark hair. Dressed to kill in a skintight long-sleeved orange dress, she’d come in by herself, and she was in the process of meeting every guy in the bar. I didn’t know what she was, but I knew from her brain pattern that she was not human. The other creature was a vampire, who’d come in with a group of young people, most in their early twenties. I didn’t know any of them. Only a sideways glance by a few other revelers marked the presence of a vampire. It just went to show the change in attitude in the few years since the Great Revelation.

Almost three years ago, on the night of the Great Revelation, the vampires had gone on TV in every nation to announce their existence. It had been a night in which many of the world’s assumptions had been knocked sideways and rearranged for good.

This coming-out party had been prompted by the Japanese development of a synthetic blood that can keep vamps satisfied nutritionally. Since the Great Revelation, the United States has undergone numerous political and social upheavals in the bumpy process of accommodating our newest citizens, who just happen to be dead. The vampires have a public face and a public explanation for their condition—they claim an allergy to sunlight and garlic causes severe metabolic changes—but I’ve seen the other side of the vampire world. My eyes now see a lot of things most human beings don’t ever see. Ask me if this knowledge has made me happy.


But I have to admit, the world is a more interesting place to me now. I’m by myself a lot (since I’m not exactly Norma Normal), so the extra food for thought has been welcome. The fear and danger haven’t. I’ve seen the private face of vampires, and I’ve learned about Weres and shifters and other stuff. Weres and shifters prefer to stay in the shadows—for now—while they watch how going public works out for the vamps.

See, I had all this to mull over while collecting tray after tray of glasses and mugs, and unloading and loading the dishwasher to help Tack, the new cook. (His real name is Alphonse Petacki. Can you be surprised he likes “Tack” better?) When our part of the cleanup was just about finished, and this long evening was finally over, I hugged Arlene and wished her a happy New Year, and she hugged me back. Holly’s boyfriend was waiting for her at the employees’ entrance at the back of the building, and Holly waved to us as she pulled on her coat and hurried out.

“What’re your hopes for the New Year, ladies?” Sam asked. By that time, Kenya was leaning against the bar, waiting for him, her face calm and alert. Kenya ate lunch here pretty regularly with her partner, Kevin, who was as pale and thin as she was dark and rounded. Sam was putting the chairs up on the tables so Terry Bellefleur, who came in very early in the morning, could mop the floor.

“Good health, and the right man,” Arlene said dramatically, her hands fluttering over her heart, and we laughed. Arlene has found many men—and she’s been married four times—but she’s still looking for Mr. Right. I could “hear” Arlene thinking that Tack might be the one. I was startled; I hadn’t even known she’d looked at him.

The surprise showed on my face, and in an uncertain voice Arlene said, “You think I should give up?”

“Hell, no,” I said promptly, chiding myself for not guarding my expression better. It was just that I was so tired. “It’ll be this year, for sure, Arlene.” I smiled at Bon Temp’s only black female police officer. “You have to have a wish for the New Year, Kenya. Or a resolution.”

“I always wish for peace between men and women,” Kenya said. “Make my job a lot easier. And my resolution is to bench-press one-forty.”

“Wow,” said Arlene. Her dyed red hair contrasted violently with Sam’s natural curly red-gold as she gave him a quick hug. He wasn’t much taller than Arlene—though she’s at least five foot eight, two inches taller than I. “I’m going to lose ten pounds, that’s my resolution.” We all laughed. That had been Arlene’s resolution for the past four years. “What about you, Sam? Wishes and resolutions?” she asked.

“I have everything I need,” he said, and I felt the blue wave of sincerity coming from him. “I resolve to stay on this course. The bar is doing great, I like living in my double-wide, and the people here are as good as people anywhere.”

I turned to conceal my smile. That had been a pretty ambiguous statement. The people of Bon Temps were, indeed, as good as people anywhere.

“And you, Sookie?” he asked. Arlene, Kenya, and Sam were all looking at me. I hugged Arlene again, because I like to. I’m ten years younger—maybe more, since though Arlene says she’s thirty-six, I have my doubts—but we’ve been friends ever since we started working at Merlotte’s together after Sam bought the bar, maybe five years now.

“Come on,” Arlene said, coaxing me. Sam put his arm around me. Kenya smiled, but drifted away into the kitchen to have a few words with Tack.

Acting on impulse, I shared my wish. “I just hope to not be beaten up,” I said, my weariness and the hour combining in an ill-timed burst of honesty. “I don’t want to go to the hospital. I don’t want to see a doctor.” I didn’t want to have to ingest any vampire blood, either, which would cure you in a hurry but had various side effects. “So my resolution is to stay out of trouble,” I said firmly.

Arlene looked pretty startled, and Sam looked—well, I couldn’t tell about Sam. But since I’d hugged Arlene, I gave him a big hug, too, and felt the strength and warmth in his body. You think Sam’s slight until you see him shirtless unloading boxes of supplies. He is really strong and built really smooth, and he has a high natural body temperature. I felt him kiss my hair, and then we were all saying good night to each other and walking out the back door. Sam’s truck was parked in front of his trailer, which is set up behind Merlotte’s Bar but at a right angle to it, but he climbed in Kenya’s patrol car to ride to the bank. She’d bring him home, and then Sam could collapse. He’d been on his feet for hours, as had we all.

As Arlene and I unlocked our cars, I noticed Tack was waiting in his old pickup; I was willing to bet he was going to follow Arlene home.

With a last “Good night!” called through the chilly silence of the Louisiana night, we separated to begin our new years.

I turned off onto Hummingbird Road to go out to my place, which is about three miles southeast of the bar. The relief of finally being alone was immense, and I began to relax mentally. My headlights flashed past the close-packed trunks of the pines that formed the backbone of the lumber industry hereabouts.

The night was extremely dark and cold. There are no streetlights way out on the parish roads, of course. Creatures were not stirring, not by any means. Though I kept telling myself to be alert for deer crossing the road, I was driving on autopilot. My simple thoughts were filled with the plan of scrubbing my face and pulling on my warmest nightgown and climbing into my bed.

Something white appeared in the headlights of my old car.

I gasped, jolted out of my drowsy anticipation of warmth and silence.

A running man: At three in the morning on January first, he was running down the parish road, apparently running for his life.

I slowed down, trying to figure out a course of action. I was a lone unarmed woman. If something awful was pursuing him, it might get me, too. On the other hand, I couldn’t let someone suffer if I could help. I had a moment to notice that the man was tall, blond, and clad only in blue jeans, before I pulled up by him. I put the car into park and leaned over to roll down the window on the passenger’s side.

“Can I help you?” I called. He gave me a panicked glance and kept on running.

But in that moment I realized who he was. I leaped out of the car and took off after him.

“Eric!” I yelled. “It’s me!”

He wheeled around then, hissing, his fangs fully out. I stopped so abruptly I swayed where I stood, my hands out in front of me in a gesture of peace. Of course, if Eric decided to attack, I was a dead woman. So much for being a good Samaritan.

Why didn’t Eric recognize me? I’d known him for many months. He was Bill’s boss, in the complicated vampire hierarchy that I was beginning to learn. Eric was the sheriff of Area Five, and he was a vampire on the rise. He was also gorgeous and could kiss like a house afire, but that was not the most pertinent side of him right at the moment. Fangs and strong hands curved into claws were what I was seeing. Eric was in full alarm mode, but he seemed just as scared of me as I was of him. He didn’t leap to attack.

“Stay back, woman,” he warned me. His voice sounded like his throat was sore, raspy and raw.

“What are you doing out here?”

“Who are you?”

“You known darn good and well who I am. What’s up with you? Why are you out here without your car?” Eric drove a sleek Corvette, which was simply Eric.

“You know me? Who am I?”

Well, that knocked me for a loop. He sure didn’t sound like he was joking. I said cautiously, “Of course I know you, Eric. Unless you have an identical twin. You don’t, right?”

“I don’t know.” His arms dropped, his fangs seemed to be retracting, and he straightened from his crouch, so I felt there’d been a definite improvement in the atmosphere of our encounter.

“You don’t know if you have a brother?” I was pretty much at sea.

“No. I don’t know. Eric is my name?” In the glare of my headlights, he looked just plain pitiful.

“Wow.” I couldn’t think of anything more helpful to say. “Eric Northman is the name you go by these days. Why are you out here?”

“I don’t know that, either.”

I was sensing a theme here. “For real? You don’t remember anything?” I tried to get past being sure that at any second he’d grin down at me and explain everything and laugh, embroiling me in some trouble that would end in me . . . getting beaten up.

“For real.” He took a step closer, and his bare white chest made me shiver with sympathetic goose bumps. I also realized (now that I wasn’t terrified) how forlorn he looked. It was an expression I’d never seen on the confident Eric’s face before, and it made me feel unaccountably sad.

“You know you’re a vampire, right?”

“Yes.” He seemed surprised that I asked. “And you are not.”

“No, I’m real human, and I have to know you won’t hurt me. Though you could have by now. But believe me, even if you don’t remember it, we’re sort of friends.”

“I won’t hurt you.”

I reminded myself that probably hundreds and thousands of people had heard those very words before Eric ripped their throats out. But the fact is, vampires don’t have to kill once they’re past their first year. A sip here, a sip there, that’s the norm. When he looked so lost, it was hard to remember he could dismember me with his bare hands.

I’d told Bill one time that the smart thing for aliens to do (when they invaded Earth) would be to arrive in the guise of lop-eared bunnies.

“Come get in my car before you freeze,” I said. I was having that I’m-getting-sucked-in feeling again, but I didn’t know what else to do.

“I do know you?” he said, as though he were hesitant about getting in a car with someone as formidable as a woman ten inches shorter, many pounds lighter, and a few centuries younger.

“Yes,” I said, not able to restrain an edge of impatience. I wasn’t too happy with myself, because I still half suspected I was being tricked for some unfathomable reason. “Now come on, Eric. I’m freezing, and so are you.” Not that vampires seemed to feel temperature extremes, as a rule; but even Eric’s skin looked goosey. The dead can freeze, of course. They’ll survive it—they survive almost everything—but I understand it’s pretty painful. “Oh my God, Eric, you’re barefoot.” I’d just noticed.

I took his hand; he let me get close enough for that. He let me lead him back to the car and stow him in the passenger seat. I told him to roll up the window as I went around to my side, and after a long minute of studying the mechanism, he did.

I reached in the backseat for an old afghan I keep there in the winter (for football games, etc.) and wrapped it around him. He wasn’t shivering, of course, because he was a vampire, but I just couldn’t stand to look at all that bare flesh in this temperature. I turned the heater on full blast (which, in my old car, isn’t saying much).

Eric’s exposed skin had never made me feel cold before—when I’d seen this much of Eric before, I’d felt anything but. I was giddy enough by now to laugh out loud before I could censor my own thoughts.

He was startled, and looked at me sideways.

“You’re the last person I expected to see,” I said. “Were you coming out this way to see Bill? Because he’s gone.”


“The vampire who lives out here? My ex-boyfriend?”

He shook his head. He was back to being absolutely terrified.

“You don’t know how you came to be here?”

He shook his head again.

I was making a big effort to think hard; but it was just that, an effort. I was worn out. Though I’d had a rush of adrenaline when I’d spotted the figure running down the dark road, that rush was wearing off fast. I reached the turnoff to my house and turned left, winding through the black and silent woods on my nice, level driveway—that, in fact, Eric had had re-graveled for me.

And that was why Eric was sitting in my car right now, instead of running through the night like a giant white rabbit. He’d had the intelligence to give me what I really wanted. (Of course, he’d also wanted me to go to bed with him for months. But he’d given me the driveway because I needed it.)

“Here we are,” I said, pulling around to the back of my old house. I switched off the car. I’d remembered to leave the outside lights on when I’d left for work that afternoon, thank goodness, so we weren’t sitting there in total darkness.

“This is where you live?” He was glancing around the clearing where the old house stood, seemingly nervous about going from the car to the back door.

“Yes,” I said, exasperated.

He just gave me a look that showed white all around the blue of his eyes.

“Oh, come on,” I said, with no grace at all. I got out of the car and went up the steps to the back porch, which I don’t keep locked because, hey, why lock a screened-in back porch? I do lock the inner door, and after a second’s fumbling, I had it open so the light I leave on in the kitchen could spill out. “You can come in,” I said, so he could cross the threshold. He scuttled in after me, the afghan still clutched around him.

Under the overhead light in the kitchen, Eric looked pretty pitiful. His bare feet were bleeding, which I hadn’t noticed before. “Oh, Eric,” I said sadly, and got a pan out from the cabinet, and started the hot water to running in the sink. He’d heal real quick, like vampires do, but I couldn’t help but wash him clean. The blue jeans were filthy around the hem. “Pull ’em off,” I said, knowing they’d just get wet if I soaked his feet while he was dressed.

With not a hint of a leer or any other indication that he was enjoying this development, Eric shimmied out of the jeans. I tossed them onto the back porch to wash in the morning, trying not to gape at my guest, who was now clad in underwear that was definitely over-the-top, a bright red bikini style whose stretchy quality was definitely being tested. Okay, another big surprise. I’d seen Eric’s underwear only once before—which was once more than I ought to have—and he’d been a silk boxers guy. Did men change styles like that?

Without preening, and without comment, the vampire rewrapped his white body in the afghan. Hmmm. I was now convinced he wasn’t himself, as no other evidence could have convinced me. Eric was way over six feet of pure magnificence (if a marble white magnificence), and he well knew it.

I pointed to one of the straight-back chairs at the kitchen table. Obediently, he pulled it out and sat. I crouched to put the pan on the floor, and I gently guided his big feet into the water. Eric groaned as the warmth touched his skin. I guess that even a vampire could feel the contrast. I got a clean rag from under the sink and some liquid soap, and I washed his feet. I took my time, because I was trying to think what to do next.

“You were out in the night,” he observed, in a tentative sort of way.

“I was coming home from work, as you can see from my clothes.” I was wearing our winter uniform, a long-sleeved white boat-neck T-shirt with “Merlotte’s Bar” embroidered over the left breast and worn tucked into black slacks.

“Women shouldn’t be out alone this late at night,” he said disapprovingly.

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, women are more liable to be overwhelmed by an attack than men, so they should be more protected—”

“No, I didn’t mean literally. I meant, I agree. You’re preaching to the choir. I didn’t want to be working this late at night.”

“Then why were you out?”

“I need the money,” I said, wiping my hand and pulling the roll of bills out of my pocket and dropping it on the table while I was thinking about it. “I got this house to maintain, my car is old, and I have taxes and insurance to pay. Like everyone else,” I added, in case he thought I was complaining unduly. I hated to poor-mouth, but he’d asked.

“Is there no man in your family?”

Every now and then, their ages do show. “I have a brother. I can’t remember if you’ve ever met Jason.” A cut on his left foot looked especially bad. I put some more hot water into the basin to warm the remainder. Then I tried to get all the dirt out. He winced as I gently rubbed the washcloth over the margins of the wound. The smaller cuts and bruises seemed to be fading even as I watched. The hot water heater came on behind me, the familiar sound somehow reassuring.

“Your brother permits you to do this working?”

I tried to imagine Jason’s face when I told him that I expected him to support me for the rest of my life because I was a woman and shouldn’t work outside the home. “Oh, for goodness sake, Eric.” I looked up at him, scowling. “Jason’s got his own problems.” Like being chronically selfish and a true tomcat.

I eased the pan of water to the side and patted Eric dry with a dishtowel. This vampire now had clean feet. Rather stiffly, I stood. My back hurt. My feet hurt. “Listen, I think what I better do is call Pam. She’ll probably know what’s going on with you.”


It was like being around a particularly irritating two-year-old.

“Your second-in-command.”

He was going to ask another question, I could just tell. I held up a hand. “Just hold on. Let me call her and find out what’s happening.”

“But what if she has turned against me?”

“Then we need to know that, too. The sooner the better.”

I put my hand on the old phone that hung on the kitchen wall right by the end of the counter. A high stool sat below it. My grandmother had always sat on the stool to conduct her lengthy phone conversations, with a pad and pencil handy. I missed her every day. But at the moment I had no room in my emotional palette for grief, or even nostalgia. I looked in my little address book for the number of Fangtasia, the vampire bar in Shreveport that provided Eric’s principal income and served as the base of his operations, which I understood were far wider in scope. I didn’t know how wide or what these other moneymaking projects were, and I didn’t especially want to know.

I’d seen in the Shreveport paper that Fangtasia, too, had planned a big bash for the evening—“Begin Your New Year with a Bite”—so I knew someone would be there. While the phone was ringing, I swung open the refrigerator and got out a bottle of blood for Eric. I popped it in the microwave and set the timer. He followed my every move with anxious eyes.

“Fangtasia,” said an accented male voice.


“Yes, how may I serve you?” He’d remembered his phone persona of sexy vampire just in the nick of time.

“It’s Sookie.”

“Oh,” he said in a much more natural voice. “Listen, Happy New Year, Sook, but we’re kind of busy here.”

“Looking for someone?”

There was a long, charged silence.

“Wait a minute,” he said, and then I heard nothing.

“Pam,” said Pam. She’d picked up the receiver so silently that I jumped when I heard her voice.

“Do you still have a master?” I didn’t know how much I could say over the phone. I wanted to know if she’d been the one who’d put Eric in this state, or if she still owed him loyalty.

“I do,” she said steadily, understanding what I wanted to know. “We are under . . . we have some problems.”

I mulled that over until I was sure I’d read between the lines. Pam was telling me that she still owed Eric her allegiance, and that Eric’s group of followers was under some kind of attack or in some kind of crisis.

I said, “He’s here.” Pam appreciated brevity.

“Is he alive?”




A long pause, this time.

“Will he be a danger to you?”

Not that Pam cared a whole hell of a lot if Eric decided to drain me dry, but I guess she wondered if I would shelter Eric. “I don’t think so at the moment,” I said. “It seems to be a matter of memory.”

“I hate witches. Humans had the right idea, burning them at the stake.”

Since the very humans who had burned witches would have been delighted to sink that same stake into vampire hearts, I found that a little amusing—but not very, considering the hour. I immediately forgot what she’d been talking about. I yawned.

“Tomorrow night, we’ll come,” she said finally. “Can you keep him this day? Dawn’s in less than four hours. Do you have a safe place?”

“Yes. But you get over here at nightfall, you hear me? I don’t want to get tangled up in your vampire shit again.” Normally, I don’t speak so bluntly; but like I say, it was the tail end of a long night.

“We’ll be there.”

We hung up simultaneously. Eric was watching me with unblinking blue eyes. His hair was a snarly tangled mess of blond waves. His hair is the exact same color as mine, and I have blue eyes, too, but that’s the end of the similarities.

I thought of taking a brush to his hair, but I was just too weary.

“Okay, here’s the deal,” I told him. “You stay here the rest of the night and tomorrow, and then Pam and them’ll come get you tomorrow night and let you know what’s happening.”

“You won’t let anyone get in?” he asked. I noticed he’d finished the blood, and he wasn’t quite as drawn as he’d been, which was a relief.

“Eric, I’ll do my best to keep you safe,” I said, quite gently. I rubbed my face with my hands. I was going to fall asleep on my feet. “Come on,” I said, taking his hand. Clutching the afghan with the other hand, he trailed down the hall after me, a snow white giant in tiny red underwear.

My old house has been added onto over the years, but it hasn’t ever been more than a humble farmhouse. A second story was added around the turn of the century, and two more bedrooms and a walk-in attic are upstairs, but I seldom go up there anymore. I keep it shut off, to save money on electricity. There are two bedrooms downstairs, the smaller one I’d used until my grandmother died and her large one across the hall from it. I’d moved into the large one after her death. But the hidey-hole Bill had built was in the smaller bedroom. I led Eric in there, switched on the light, and made sure the blinds were closed and the curtains drawn across them. Then I opened the door of the closet, removed its few contents, and pulled back the flap of carpet that covered the closet floor, exposing the trapdoor. Underneath was a light-tight space that Bill had built a few months before, so that he could stay over during the day or use it as a hiding place if his own home was unsafe. Bill liked having a bolt-hole, and I was sure he had some that I didn’t know about. If I’d been a vampire (God forbid), I would have, myself.

I had to wipe thoughts of Bill out of my head as I showed my reluctant guest how to close the trapdoor on top of him and that the flap of carpet would fall back into place. “When I get up, I’ll put the stuff back in the closet so it’ll look natural,” I reassured him, and smiled encouragingly.

“Do I have to get in now?” he asked.

Eric, making a request of me: The world was really turned upside-down. “No,” I said, trying to sound like I was concerned. All I could think of was my bed. “You don’t have to. Just get in before sunrise. There’s no way you could miss that, right? I mean, you couldn’t fall asleep and wake up in the sun?”

He thought for a moment and shook his head. “No,” he said. “I know that can’t happen. Can I stay in the room with you?”

Oh, God, puppy dog eyes. From a six-foot-five ancient Viking vampire. It was just too much. I didn’t have enough energy to laugh, so I just gave a sad little snigger. “Come on,” I said, my voice as limp as my legs. I turned off the light in that room, crossed the hall, and flipped on the one in my own room, yellow and white and clean and warm, and folded down the bedspread and blanket and sheet. While Eric sat forlornly in a slipper chair on the other side of the bed, I pulled off my shoes and socks, got a nightgown out of a drawer, and retreated into the bathroom. I was out in ten minutes, with clean teeth and face and swathed in a very old, very soft flannel nightgown that was cream-colored with blue flowers scattered around. Its ribbons were raveled and the ruffle around the bottom was pretty sad, but it suited me just fine. After I’d switched off the lights, I remembered my hair was still up in its usual ponytail, so I pulled out the band that held it and I shook my head to make it fall loose. Even my scalp seemed to relax, and I sighed with bliss.

As I climbed up into the high old bed, the large fly in my personal ointment did the same. Had I actually told him he could get in bed with me? Well, I decided, as I wriggled down under the soft old sheets and the blanket and the comforter, if Eric had designs on me, I was just too tired to care.



“What’s your name?”

“Sookie. Sookie Stackhouse.”

“Thank you, Sookie.”

“Welcome, Eric.”

Because he sounded so lost—the Eric I knew had never been one to do anything other than assume others should serve him—I patted around under the covers for his hand. When I found it, I slid my own over it. His palm was turned up to meet my palm, and his fingers clasped mine.

And though I would not have thought it was possible to go to sleep holding hands with a vampire, that’s exactly what I did.


Meet the Author

Charlaine Harris is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse and Midnight, Texas, fantasy/mystery series and the Aurora Teagarden, Harper Connelly, and Lily Bard mystery series. Her books have inspired HBO’s True Blood, NBC’s Midnight, Texas, and the Aurora Teagarden movies for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. She has lived in the South her entire life.

Brief Biography

Southern Arkansas
Date of Birth:
November 25, 1951
Place of Birth:
Tunica, Mississippi
B.A. in English and Communication Arts, Rhodes, 1973

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Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #4) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2141 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book that I found was really great. The best of the series. I couldn't put it down. And it killed me when I finished it. It is a book where you don't want the story to ever end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never thought I would enjoy this series, but right from the first chapter of book 1, I was hooked!! This is not the kind of book I would ordinarily buy, but book 1 was given to me by a friend. she had not read it & said she bought it by mistake. I happened to open it up when I had nothing else to read & "BAM" I was hooked!!
I find Sookie an absolute delight. I love reading about each & every new & different species she manages to come across. She is serious where she should be & light hearted where it's appropriate.
I'm so happy that Sookie & Eric get together in this book, since I've always been rather partial to him.
I look forward to the other books in this series and I sure hope they all stay as good as the first four. I was not disappointed with this installment.
Heidi-Tieman More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Eric is my favorite love interest of Sookie's. Mysterious with a hint of danger. His sense of humor is so much better than Bill's. I can't wait to see what happens next now that he has his memory back! Another great book to an awesome series. Keep them coming Charlaine! If you love this series, check out True Blood on HBO. It strays a bit from the books but still a great show to watch!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best Southern Vampire novel in the entire series! This is of course my favorite installment and I hated to see it end and savored the last pages with gusto. Sookie Stackhouse is still mourning her breakup with Bill when he tells her that he's off to Peru to meet with some vampires there. But Sookie isn't able to think about Bill much when, on her drive home from work, she finds vampire Eric, scared and vulnerable, wandering the streets in the middle of the night with almost no clothes on. He's lost his memory, has no idea what has happened to him, so Sookie decides to look after him. She is shocked to find that he is no longer the no-nonsense vampire trying to get into her pants that he'd once been. It appears that some witches have put a spell on Eric and are planning to wreak havoc among the supernaturals in Shreveport. To make matters worse, Sookie's brother is missing. This is the fourth book in the series, and finds Sookie back in Bon Temps still fuming at the perfidy of her ex-boyfriend Bill the vampire (yes, I said Bill). In fact all that Sookie wants to do is wait on tables, watch cable, and not get beaten up by yet another supernatural creature. In fact, when Bill announces he is bound for Peru to do research, she is even a bit pleased. But nothing lasts, and while driving home one night she finds Eric, the Area 5 vampire sheriff wandering around in various states of undress, and lacking any memory of who he was. Harris introduces new story lines in Dead to the World that I loved. The addition of the werecreatures further developed the paranormal world that runs alongside the quiet human one that we live in every day. The werecreatures felt like a different type of paranormal nightmare: if the vampires are the elite, the werecreatures are the motorcycle gang. The different mentality created a tension in the plot and Sookie herself that kept the pace moving quickly. Great read. Don't bother with HBO.    
Openbooksociety_dot_com More than 1 year ago
Second Read Through Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi The fourth installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series takes us to a new year in Bon Temps. Sookie’s New Year’s resolution is to stay out of trouble and not get beat up. That is one that probably will be thrown out along with all the resolutions people make to lose weight and quit smoking pretty early in the year. On her way home from work, Sookie finds a half naked Eric running down the road. She pulls over to see what’s wrong and what he’s running from and she discovers that he doesn’t remember her or anything else about his life. Eric was cursed by a powerful were-witch that feeds on vampire blood (could we involve anymore sups into this character?) when he wouldn’t give her what she wanted; him and his business. Thanks to Jason, Sookie ends up hiding Eric at her house until the vampires can’t straighten out what’s going on and can get the spell lifted from Eric. Soon after Sookie takes custody of Eric, Jason disappears from his house in a way that screams foul play. Now Sookie has to divide her time between finding out what happened to her brother and trying to help Eric get his memory back, even though a part of her likes this new Eric better! She also must discover if the two incidents are connected. Could the witch that cursed Eric be responsible for kidnapping Jason? This is actually a re-read of this book for me. It was originally my favorite of the entire Sookie Stackhouse series. What can I say? I love Eric! I had started liking him in the previous books, but let’s face it I was never a Bill fan and I wanted Sookie with anybody, but him so I welcomed Eric with open arms. Eric was always so good at hiding his true nature that it was nice to see him completely exposed in this book. He had no choice, but to show Sookie how he really felt about her as he didn’t have his usual methods about him to cover up his real feelings. And what was left was a sweet guy even if he was a little lost and you just have to love his honesty. “I should be concerned about your brother, because I love having sex with you, and I should want you to think well of me so you’ll want sex, too” And let’s face it, Eric with amnesia is HOT! And if you still aren’t sold on him, watch an episode of True Blood, the actor that portrays him, Alexander Skarsgard will definitely get your juices flowing! The Jason storyline really didn’t interest me that much, but then again you really didn’t know what was going on while he was away so it’s hard to glean much from it. I have to admit that I didn’t like this book as much the second time around. Maybe because I remember it being my favorite and my expectations were too high…and that is always dangerous!! I was debating on giving the story a lower rating this time around, but the book was still good and I decided to go ahead and give a rating to reflect my original thoughts on this book; Five stars This review and more at openbooksociety dot com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't judge the series based on the HBO show. The books are so rich and this ohe is great. This book made me love Eric Northman. Highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book will bow you away. The amazing part about this book is that eric is in better sperits and amazingly enough has feelings!!!!! This book will make your heart race to the max and when you read you might want to remember to breath.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the tv show but the books are proving to be so much better
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im loving the series but this is hands down my favorite book. I couldnt put it down and read through it very quickly, which is saying something since im not the fastest reader. Im so curious to see how things work out for sookies love life in the end.
DeniseB320 More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book! I have read the entire series but this one is the one I always go back to!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thrilling, funny, and sexy all rolled up in one great read! It's fun to hear Johanna Parker narrate, and I believe it makes the story that much better. This is a must listen!
Ashley Starr More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Eric in this one!! I think this one might have been my favorite.
Brent Tedder More than 1 year ago
I am a HUGE Eric fan so i enjoyed her idea on this story.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Dead To The World is the fourth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series by popular American author, Charlaine Harris. After the painful events in Jackson, Mississippi, a few weeks earlier, telepathic cocktail waitress, Sookie Stackhouse has vowed off all involvement with vampires. Her ex-boyfriend, vampire Bill, has gone to Peru when, driving home just after New Year, Sookie finds his boss, Eric, (vampire) Sheriff of Area 5, wandering, half naked, on the road near her home, with a convincing case of amnesia. What else can she do but take him home? Then, to complicate matters further, her brother, Jason goes missing. This instalment sees Sookie encountering vampires, shifters and Weres (as usual), but also Witches, Wiccans and a Fairy. She manages to get on the right side of a Were packmaster, get a marriage proposal from a shifter, save a Werewolf’s life, joins the residents of Bon Temps in a search through the woods, get shot at, witness a battle between a bunch of supernaturals, and kill two people. Sookie discovers that she may not be popular with regular guys because of her gift, but the supernaturals find her attractive in spite of, or sometimes because of, it. Lots of fun!
cmodrzejewski More than 1 year ago
Like the others, it's a fun read!
HBT More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book from the start. After reading this book I am undecided which character I would like to see Sookie end up with. Alcide, Eric, Sam, and Bill have their strengths and faults. I think Sookie judges Eric too strongly and would like to see her get knocked off her high horse. I mean after everything he has done for her in this book, she should not judge him the way she does. I also liked that Charlaine Harris explained why the Vampire Bubba could enter places he was not invited into. It was not a strong explanation in my opinion but it is better than nothing. One thing I have not liked in all of the books in this series so far is how facts of the characters are repeated all the time. For example the death of Sookie's parents, her gift/disability, Tara's childhood, the relationship of the cops and more that I have not listed. I am going to go and buy the next two book in the series, I want to know what is going on with Sookie's brother Jason and Eric. I hope he remembers the time he spent with Sookie in this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-town cocktail waitress in Louisiana. She is a human with the special talent of telepathy. Since the Great Revelation, when vampires announced their presence to the world, everyone's eyes have opened. Sookie's first real boyfriend, Bill Compton, came around shortly thereafter. Since vampires are dead, it is tough for Sookie to hear their thoughts. It made Bill perfect for her. Until Bill cheated on her (last book) and they broke up. Through Sookie's adventures with Bill, she learned that Vampires are not the only supernatural predator in the world. But Weres, Fairies, Shifter, and the like, still did not want their presence known to humans. ............................. Bill is off to Peru, on assignment, for a couple of weeks. The New Year's Eve celebration finally ends. Sookie's resolutions are to not get beaten up and to stay out of trouble. (Har-de-har-har!) The night is not even over and Sookie is driving home when she spies a man running, nude, down the road as if someone or something is after him. Turns out that he has amnesia. He has no memory of why he is tunning in the nude. He does not even know his name. Sookie does, of course. It is Eric! He is still scary and sexy, but no longer cruel and sly. ......................... A coven of powerful witches have moved into the area. They plan to take over the businesses of the vampires. The leader, Hallow, cursed Eric with amnesia, but did not expect him to vanish. The witches put a huge bounty out for information on Eric's location. Sookie has the task of keeping Eric hidden in her home, until the evil witches are dealt with. Sookie knows this is dangerous, but she is more worried about how alluring the new, nicer Eric is. At the same time, Sookie's brother, Jason has disappeared. ........................ **** If you do not read the previous books in this series, you will find yourself wondering why Sookie is worried about a few things. This book picks up a few weeks after the last one left off. As usual, the novel begins and ends the major plot of the story. But a few juicy sub-plots are left dangling, to be continued in the next. Those on-going tid-bits are one of the wonderful things the fans of this series enjoys very much! But this book does not touch on the Sookie, Bill, and Eric triangle as much. Bill is demoted to a minor character this time around. ......................... The author is just as witty in her writing as always. Jason, Sookie's brother, is finally being pulled into the Supernatural mess as well. Lively (no pun intended), witty, intense, and just plain fun reading. Wonderful! ****
Wicked_Storm More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey name is brian i am 34 yrs old swm iowa usa and i would like to meet a swf vampire do ypu know any
pococolo More than 1 year ago
This my favorite of the first four books because of the Eric/ Sookie stuff. During the course, Sookie loses Jason but finds Eric. Witches run roughshod for a while culminating in a great action sequence. The events in the book are different and BETTER than the T V series. Eric has lost him memory but Harris is very clever in showing us several glimpses of Eric's personality shining through the amnesia. IMO Eric and Sookie are the "it" couple of this series. Just wish Harris agreed.
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