New in the “addicting” New York Times bestselling series featuring Sookie Stackhouse.
After the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the manmade explosion at the vampire summit, everyone—human and otherwise—is stressed, including Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse, who is trying to cope with the fact that her boyfriend, Quinn, has gone missing.
It’s clear that things are changing—whether the weres and vamps of her corner of Louisiana like it or not. And Sookie—Friend to the Pack and blood-bonded to Eric Northman, leader of the local vampire community—is caught up in the changes.
In the ensuing battles, Sookie faces danger, death, and once more, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood finished flowing, her world will be forever altered.
And with HBO's launching of an all-new show, True Blood, based on the Southern Vampire novels, the demand for Charlaine Harris and Sookie Stackhouse is bigger than ever.
Watch a QuickTime trailer for the HBO original series True Blood.
About the Author
Date of Birth:November 25, 1951
Place of Birth:Tunica, Mississippi
Education:B.A. in English and Communication Arts, Rhodes, 1973
Read an Excerpt
Ace Books by Charlaine Harris
The Sookie Stackhouse Novels DEAD UNTIL DARK LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS CLUB DEAD DEAD TO THE WORLD DEAD AS A DOORNAIL DEFINITELY DEAD ALL TOGETHER DEAD FROM DEAD TO WORSE MANY BLOODY RETURNS edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner
Berkley Prime Crime Books by Charlaine Harris
The Harper Connelly Mysteries GRAVE SIGHT GRAVE SURPRISE AN ICE COLD GRAVE The Lily Bard Mysteries SHAKESPEARE’S LANDLORD SHAKESPEARE’S CHAMPION SHAKESPEARE’S TROLLOP SHAKESPEARE’S COUNSELOR The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries REAL MURDERS A BONE TO PICK THREE BEDROOMS, ONE CORPSE SWEET AND DEADLY A SECRET RAGE
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
This is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2008 by Charlaine Harris, Inc.
All rights reserved.
1. Vampires—Fiction. 2. Supernatural—Fiction. 3. Louisiana—Fiction. I. Title.
Though she can’t walk or see quite as well as she used to, my mother, Jean Harris, remains the most complete person I have ever met. She’s been the bulwark of my existence, the foundation I was built on, and the best mother a woman could have.
A tip of the hat to Anastasia Luettecke, who was a perfectionist in supplying me with Octavia’s Latin. And thanks to Murv Sellars for being the go-between. As always, I owe a great debt of thanks to Toni L. P. Kelner and Dana Cameron for their valuable comments and the gift of their time. My one and only minion, Debi Murray, assisted me with her encyclopedic knowledge of the Sookie universe. The group of enthusiastic readers known as Charlaine’s Charlatans gave me moral (and morale) support, and I hope this book will serve as their reward.
If this was The Lord of the Rings and I had a smart British voice like Cate Blanchett, I could tell you the background of the events of that fall in a really suspenseful way. And you’d be straining to hear the rest.
But what happened in my little corner of northwest Louisiana wasn’t an epic story. The vampire war was more of the nature of a small-country takeover, and the Were war was like a border skirmish. Even in the annals of supernatural America—I guess they exist somewhere—they were minor chapters . . . unless you were actively involved in the takeovers and skirmishes.
Then they became pretty damn major.
And everything was due to Katrina, the disaster that just kept on spreading grief, woe, and permanent change in its wake.
Before Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana had a flourishing vampire community. In fact, the vampire population of New Orleans had burgeoned, making it the place to go if you wanted to see vampires; and lots of Americans did. The undead jazz clubs, featuring musicians no one had seen playing in public in decades, were special draws. Vamp strip clubs, vamp psychics, vamp sex acts; secret and not-so-secret places where you could get bitten and have an orgasm on the spot: all this was available in southern Louisiana.
In the northern part of the state . . . not so much. I live in the northern part in a small town called Bon Temps. But even in my area, where vamps are relatively thin on the ground, the undead were making economic and social strides.
All in all, vampire business in the Pelican State was booming. But then came the death of the King of Arkansas while his wife, the Queen of Louisiana, was entertaining him soon after their wedding. Since the corpse vanished and all the witnesses— except me—were supernaturals, human law took no notice. But the other vampires did, and the queen, Sophie-Anne Leclerq, landed in a very dicey legal position. Then came Katrina, which wiped out the financial base of Sophie-Anne’s empire. Still, the queen was floundering back from those disasters, when another one followed hard on their heels. Sophie-Anne and some of her strongest adherents—and me, Sookie Stackhouse, telepath and human—were caught in a terrible explosion in Rhodes, the destruction of the vampire hotel called the Pyramid of Gizeh. A splinter group of the Fellowship of the Sun claimed responsibility, and while the leaders of that anti-vampire “church” decried the hate crime, everyone knew that the Fellowship was hardly agonizing over those who were terribly wounded in the blast, much less over the (finally, absolutely) dead vampires or the humans who served them.
Sophie-Anne lost her legs, several members of her entourage, and her dearest companion. Her life was saved by her half-demon lawyer, Mr. Cataliades. But her recuperation time was going to be lengthy, and she was in a position of terrible vulnerability.
What part did I play in all this?
I’d helped save lives after the pyramid went down, and I was terrified I was now on the radar of people who might want me to spend my time in their service, using my telepathy for their purposes. Some of those purposes were good, and I wouldn’t mind lending a hand in rescue services from time to time, but I wanted to keep my life to myself. I was alive; my boyfriend, Quinn, was alive; and the vampires most important to me had survived, too. As far as the troubles Sophie-Anne faced, the political consequences of the attack and the fact that supernatural groups were circling the weakened state of Louisiana like hyenas around a dying gazelle ... I didn’t think about it at all.
I had other stuff on my mind, personal stuff. I’m not used to thinking much further than the end of my fingertips; that’s my only excuse. Not only was I not thinking about the vampire situation, there was another supernatural situation I didn’t ponder that turned out to be just as crucial to my future.
Close to Bon Temps, in Shreveport, there’s a Were pack whose ranks are swollen by the men and women from Barksdale Air Force Base. During the past year, this Were pack had become sharply divided between two factions. I’d learned in American History what Abraham Lincoln, quoting the Bible, had to say about houses divided.
To assume that these two situations would work themselves out, to fail to foresee that their resolution would involve me, well ... that was where I was almost fatally blind. I’m telepathic, not psychic. Vampire minds are big relaxing blanks to me. Weres are difficult to read, though not impossible. That’s my only excuse for being unaware of the trouble brewing all around me.
What was I so busy thinking about? Weddings—and my missing boyfriend.
I was making a neat arrangement of liquor bottles on the folding table behind the portable bar when Halleigh Robinson rushed up, her normally sweet face flushed and tear-streaked. Since she was supposed to be getting married within an hour and was still wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt, she got my immediate attention.
“Sookie!” she said, rounding the bar to grab my arm. “You have to help me.”
I’d already helped her by putting on my bartending clothes instead of the pretty dress I’d planned on wearing. “Sure,” I said, imagining Halleigh wanted me to make her a special drink— though if I’d listened in to her thoughts, I’d have known differently already. However, I was trying to be on my best behavior, and I was shielding like crazy. Being telepathic is no picnic, especially at a high-tension event like a double wedding. I’d expected to be a guest instead of a bartender. But the caterer’s bartender had been in a car wreck on her way over from Shreveport, and Sam, who’d been unhired when E(E)E had insisted on using their own bartender, was abruptly hired again.
I was a little disappointed to be on the working side of the bar, but you had to oblige the bride on her special day. “What can I do for you?” I asked.
“I need you to be my bridesmaid,” she said.
“Ah . . . what?”
“Tiffany fainted after Mr. Cumberland took the first round of pictures. She’s on her way to the hospital.”
It was an hour before the wedding, and the photographer had been trying to get a number of group shots out of the way. The bridesmaids and the groomsmen were already togged out. Halleigh should have been getting into her wedding finery, but instead here she was in jeans and curlers, no makeup, and a tear-streaked face.
Who could resist that?
“You’re the right size,” she said. “And Tiffany is probably just about to have her appendix out. So, can you try on the dress?”
I glanced at Sam, my boss.
Sam smiled at me and nodded. “Go on, Sook. We don’t officially open for business until after the wedding.”
So I followed Halleigh into Belle Rive, the Bellefleur mansion, recently restored to something like its antebellum glory. The wooden floors gleamed, the harp by the stairs shone with gilt, the silverware displayed on the big sideboard in the dining room glowed with polishing. There were servers in white coats buzzing around everywhere, the E(E)E logo on their tunics done in an elaborate black script. Extreme(ly Elegant) Events had become the premier upscale caterer in the United States. I felt a stab in my heart when I noticed the logo, because my missing guy worked for the supernatural branch of E(E)E. I didn’t have long to feel the ache, though, because Halleigh was dragging me up the stairs at a relentless pace.
The first bedroom at the top was full of youngish women in gold-colored dresses, all fussing around Halleigh’s soon-to-be sister-in-law, Portia Bellefleur. Halleigh zoomed past that door to enter the second room on the left. It was equally full of younger women, but these were in midnight blue chiffon. The room was in chaos, with the bridesmaids’ civilian clothes piled here and there. There was a makeup and hair station over by the west wall, staffed by a stoic woman in a pink smock, curling rod in her hand.
Halleigh tossed introductions through the air like paper pellets. “Gals, this is Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie, this is my sister Fay, my cousin Kelly, my best friend Sarah, my other best friend Dana. And here’s the dress. It’s an eight.”
I was amazed that Halleigh had had the presence of mind to divest Tiffany of the bridesmaid dress before her departure for the hospital. Brides are ruthless. In a matter of minutes, I was stripped down to the essentials. I was glad I’d worn nice underwear, since there wasn’t any time for modesty. How embarrassing it would have been to be in granny panties with holes! The dress was lined, so I didn’t need a slip, another stroke of luck. There was a spare pair of thigh-highs, which I pulled on, and then the dress went over my head. Sometimes I wear a ten—in fact, most of the time—so I was holding my breath while Fay zipped it up.
If I didn’t breathe a lot, it would be okay.
“Super!” one of the other women (Dana?) said with great happiness. “Now the shoes.”
“Oh, God,” I said when I saw them. They were very high heels dyed to match the midnight blue dress, and I slid my feet into them, anticipating pain. Kelly (maybe) buckled the straps, and I stood up. All of us held our breath as I took a step, then another. They were about half a size too small. It was an important half.
“I can get through the wedding,” I said, and they all clapped.
"Over here then,” said Pink Smock, and I sat in her chair and had more makeup reapplied over my own and my hair redone while the real bridesmaids and Halleigh’s mother assisted Halleigh into her dress. Pink Smock had a lot of hair to work with. I’ve only had light trims in the past three years, I guess, and it’s way down past my shoulder blades now. My roommate, Amelia, had put some highlights in, and that had turned out real good. I was blonder than ever.
I examined myself in the full-length mirror, and it seemed impossible I could have been so transformed in twenty minutes. From working barmaid in a white ruffled tux shirt and black trousers to bridesmaid in a midnight blue dress—and three inches taller, to boot.
Hey, I looked great. The dress was a super color for me, the skirt was gently A-line, the short sleeves weren’t too tight, and it wasn’t low cut enough to look slutty. With my boobs, the slut factor kicks in if I’m not careful.
I was yanked out of self-admiration by the practical Dana, who said, “Listen, here’s the drill.” From that moment on, I listened and nodded. I examined a little diagram. I nodded some more. Dana was one organized gal. If I ever invaded a small country, this was the woman I wanted on my side.
By the time we made our way carefully down the stairs (long skirts and high heels, not a good combination), I was fully briefed and ready for my first trip down the aisle as a bridesmaid.
Most girls have done this a couple of times before they reach twenty-six, but Tara Thornton, the only friend I had close enough to ask me, had up and eloped while I was out of town.
The other wedding party was assembled downstairs when we descended. Portia’s group would precede Halleigh’s. The two grooms and their groomsmen were already outside if all was going smoothly, because now it was five minutes until liftoff.
Portia Bellefleur and her bridesmaids averaged seven years older than Halleigh’s posse. Portia was the big sister of Andy Bellefleur, Bon Temps police detective and Halleigh’s groom. Portia’s dress was a little over-the-top—it was covered with pearls and so much lace and sequins I thought it could stand by itself—but then, it was Portia’s big day and she could wear whatever she damn well pleased. All Portia’s bridesmaids were wearing gold.
The bridesmaids’ bouquets all matched—white and dark blue and yellow. Coordinated with the dark blue of Halleigh’s bridesmaid selection, the result was very pretty.
The wedding planner, a thin nervous woman with a big cloud of dark curly hair, counted heads almost audibly. When she was satisfied everyone she needed was present and accounted for, she flung open the double doors to the huge brick patio. We could see the crowd, backs to us, seated on the lawn in two sections of white folding chairs, with a strip of red carpet running between the two sides. They were facing the platform where the priest stood at an altar decked in cloth and gleaming candlesticks. To the right of the priest, Portia’s groom, Glen Vick, was waiting, facing the house. And, therefore, us. He looked very, very nervous, but he was smiling. His groomsmen were already in position flanking him.
Portia’s golden bridesmaids stepped out onto the patio, and one by one they began their march down the aisle through the manicured garden. The scent of wedding flowers made the night sweet. And the Belle Rive roses were blooming, even in October.
Finally, to a huge swell of music, Portia crossed the patio to the end of the carpet, the wedding coordinator (with some effort) lifting the train of Portia’s dress so it wouldn’t drag on the bricks.
At the priest’s nod, everyone stood and faced the rear so they could see Portia’s triumphal march. She’d waited years for this.
After Portia’s safe arrival at the altar, it was our party’s turn. Halleigh gave each one of us an air kiss on the cheek as we stepped past her out onto the patio. She even included me, which was sweet of her. The wedding coordinator sent us off one by one, to stand reflecting our designated groomsman up front. Mine was a Bellefleur cousin from Monroe who was quite startled to see me coming instead of Tiffany. I walked at the slow pace Dana had emphasized and held my bouquet in my clasped hands at the desired angle. I’d been watching the other maids like a hawk. I wanted to get this right.
All the faces were turned to me, and I was so nervous I forgot to block. The thoughts of the crowd rushed at me in a gush of unwanted communication. Looks so pretty . . . What happened to Tiffany . . . ? Wow, what a rack. . . . Hurry it up, I need a drink. . . . What the hell am I doing here? She drags me to every dog fight in the parish.... I love wedding cake.
A photographer stepped in front of me and took a picture. It was someone I knew, a pretty werewolf named Maria-Star Cooper. She was the assistant of Al Cumberland, a well-known photographer based in Shreveport. I smiled at Maria-Star and she took another shot. I continued down the carpet, held on to my smile, and pushed away all the racket in my head.
After a moment I noticed there were blank spots in the crowd, which signaled the presence of vampires. Glen had requested a night wedding specifically so he could invite some of his more important vampire clients. I’d been sure Portia truly loved him when she agreed to that, because Portia didn’t like bloodsuckers at all. In fact, they gave her the creeps.
I kind of liked vampires in general, because their brains were closed to me. Being in their company was oddly restful. Okay, a strain in other ways, but at least my brain could relax.
Finally, I arrived at my designated spot. I’d watched Portia and Glen’s attendants arrange themselves in an inverted V, with a space at the front for the nuptial couple. Our group was doing the same thing. I’d nailed it, and I exhaled in relief. Since I wasn’t taking the place of the maid of honor, my work was over. All I had to do was stand still and look attentive, and I thought I could do that.
The music swelled to a second crescendo, and the priest gave his signal again. The crowd rose and turned to look at the second bride. Halleigh began moving slowly toward us. She looked absolutely radiant. Halleigh had selected a much simpler dress than Portia’s, and she looked very young and very sweet. She was at least five years younger than Andy, maybe more. Halleigh’s dad, as tanned and fit as his wife, stepped out to take Halleigh’s arm when she drew abreast; since Portia had come down the aisle alone (her father was long dead), it had been decided Halleigh would, too.
After I’d had my fill of Halleigh’s smile, I looked over the crowd who’d rotated to follow the bride’s progress.
There were so many familiar faces: teachers from the elementary school where Halleigh taught, members of the police department where Andy worked, the friends of old Mrs. Caroline Bellefleur who were still alive and tottering, Portia’s fellow lawyers and other people who worked in the justice system, and Glen Vick’s clients and other accountants. Almost every chair was occupied.
There were a few black faces to be seen, and a few brown faces, but most of the wedding guests were middle-class Caucasians. The palest faces in the crowd were the vampires’, of course. One of them I knew well. Bill Compton, my neighbor and former lover, was sitting about halfway back, wearing a tuxedo and looking very handsome. Bill managed to seem at home in whatever he chose to wear. Beside him sat his human girlfriend, Selah Pumphrey, a real estate agent from Clarice. She was wearing a burgundy gown that set off her dark hair. There were perhaps five vamps I didn’t recognize. I assumed they were clients of Glen’s. Though Glen didn’t know it, there were several other attendees who were more (and less) than human.
My boss, Sam, was a rare true shapeshifter who could become any animal. The photographer was a werewolf like his assistant. To all the regular wedding guests, he looked like a well-rounded, rather short African-American male wearing a nice suit and carrying a big camera. But Al turned into a wolf at the full moon just like Maria-Star. There were a few other Weres in the crowd, though only one I knew—Amanda, a red-haired woman in her late thirties who owned a bar in Shreveport called the Hair of the Dog. Maybe Glen’s firm handled the bar’s books.
And there was one werepanther, Calvin Norris. Calvin had brought a date, I was glad to see, though I was less than thrilled after I identified her as Tanya Grissom. Blech. What was she doing back in town? And why had Calvin been on the guest list? I liked him, but I couldn’t figure out the connection.
While I’d been scanning the crowd for familiar faces, Halleigh had assumed her position by Andy, and now all the bridesmaids and groomsmen had to face forward to listen to the service.
Since I didn’t have a big emotional investment in this proceeding, I found myself mentally wandering while Father Kempton Littrell, the Episcopal priest who ordinarily came to the little Bon Temps church once every two weeks, conducted the service. The lights that had been set up to illuminate the garden glinted off Father Littrell’s glasses and bleached some of the color out of his face. He looked almost like a vampire.
Things proceeded pretty much on the standard plan. Boy, it was lucky I was used to standing up at the bar, because this was a lot of standing, and in high heels, too. I seldom wore heels, much less three-inch ones. It felt strange being five foot nine. I tried not to shift around, possessed my soul with patience.
Now Glen was putting the ring on Portia’s finger, and Portia looked almost pretty as she looked down at their clasped hands. She’d never be one of my favorite people—nor I hers—but I wished her well. Glen was bony and had darkish receding hair and major glasses. If you called central casting and ordered an “accountant type,” they’d send you Glen. But I could tell directly from his brain that he loved Portia, and she loved him.
I let myself shift a bit, put my weight a little more on my right leg.
Then Father Littrell started all over again on Halleigh and Andy. I kept my smile pasted to my face (no problem there; I did it all the time at the bar) and watched Halleigh become Mrs. Andrew Bellefleur. I was lucky. Episcopalian weddings can be long, but the two couples had opted for having the shorter form of the service.
At last the music swelled to triumphant strains, and the newlyweds exited to the house. The wedding party trailed after them in reverse order. On my way down the aisle, I felt genuinely happy and a weensy bit proud. I’d helped Halleigh in her time of need . . . and very soon I was going to get to take these shoes off.
From his chair, Bill caught my eye and silently put his hand over his heart. It was a romantic and totally unexpected gesture, and for a moment I softened toward him. I very nearly smiled, though Selah was right there by his side. Just in time, I reminded myself that Bill was a no-good rat bastard, and I swept on my painful way. Sam was standing a couple of yards past the last row of chairs, wearing a white tux shirt like the one I’d had on and black dress pants. Relaxed and at ease, that was Sam. Even his tangled halo of strawberry blond hair somehow fit in.
I flashed him a genuine smile, and he grinned back. He gave me a thumbs-up, and though shifter brains are hard to read, I could tell he approved of the way I looked and the way I’d conducted myself. His bright blue eyes never left me. He’s been my boss for five years, and we’ve gotten along great for the most part. He’d been pretty upset when I’d started dating a vampire, but he’d gotten over it.
I needed to get to work, and pronto. I caught up with Dana. “When can we change?” I asked.
“Oh, we have pictures to do yet,” Dana said cheerfully. Her husband had come up to put his arm around her. He was holding their baby, a tiny thing swaddled in sex-neutral yellow.
“Surely I won’t be needed for those,” I said. “You-all took a lot of pictures earlier, right? Before what’s-her-name got sick.”
“Tiffany. Yes, but there’ll be more.”
I seriously doubted the family would want me in them, though my absence would unbalance the symmetry in the group pictures. I found Al Cumberland.
“Yes,” he said, snapping away at the brides and grooms as they beamed at each other. “I do need some shots. You got to stay in costume.”
“Crap,” I said, because my feet hurt.
“Listen, Sookie, the best I can do is to shoot your group first. Andy, Halleigh! That is ... Mrs. Bellefleur! If you-all will come this way, let’s get your pictures done.”
Portia Bellefleur Vick looked a little astonished that her group wasn’t going first, but she had way too many people to greet to really get riled. While Maria-Star snapped away at the touching scene, a distant relative wheeled old Miss Caroline up to Portia, and Portia bent to kiss her grandmother. Portia and Andy had lived with Miss Caroline for years, after their own parents had passed away. Miss Caroline’s poor health had delayed the weddings at least twice. The original plan had been for last spring, and it had been a rush job because Miss Caroline was failing. She’d had a heart attack and then recovered. After that, she’d broken her hip. I had to say, for someone who’d survived two major health disasters, Miss Caroline looked ... Well, to tell the truth, she looked just like a very old lady who’d had a heart attack and a broken hip. She was all dressed up in a beige silk suit. She even had on some makeup, and her snow-white hair was arranged à la Lauren Bacall. She’d been a beauty in her day, an autocrat her entire life, and a famous cook until the recent past.
Caroline Bellefleur was in her seventh heaven this night. She’d married off both her grandchildren, she was getting plenty of tribute, and Belle Rive was looking spectacular, thanks to the vampire who was staring at her with an absolutely unreadable face.
Bill Compton had discovered he was the Bellefleurs’ ancestor, and he had anonymously given Miss Caroline a whacking big bunch of money. She’d enjoyed spending it so much, and she had had no idea it had come from a vampire. She’d thought it a legacy from a distant relative. I thought it was kind of ironic that the Bellefleurs would just as soon have spit on Bill as thanked him. But he was part of the family, and I was glad he’d found a way to attend.
I took a deep breath, banished Bill’s dark gaze from my consciousness, and smiled at the camera. I occupied my designated space in the pictures to balance out the wedding party, dodged the googly-eyed cousin, and finally hotfooted it up the stairs to change into my bartender’s rig.
There was no one up here, and it was a relief to be in the room by myself.
I shimmied out of the dress, hung it up, and sat on a stool to unbuckle the straps of the painful shoes.
There was a little sound at the door, and I looked up, startled. Bill was standing just inside the room, his hands in his pockets, his skin glowing gently. His fangs were out.
“Trying to change here,” I said tartly. No point in making a big show of modesty. He’d seen every inch of me.
“You didn’t tell them,” he said.
“Huh?” Then my brain caught up. Bill meant that I hadn’t told the Bellefleurs that he was their ancestor. “No, of course not,” I said. “You asked me not to.”
“I thought, in your anger, you might give them the information.”
I gave him an incredulous look. “No, some of us actually have honor,” I said. He looked away for a minute. “By the way, your face healed real well.”
During the Fellowship of the Sun bombing in Rhodes, Bill’s face had been exposed to the sun with really stomach-churning results.
“I slept for six days,” he said. “When I finally got up, it was mostly healed. And as for your dig about my failing in honor, I haven’t any defense ... except that when Sophie-Anne told me to pursue you . . . I was reluctant, Sookie. At first, I didn’t want to even pretend to have a permanent relationship with a human woman. I thought it degraded me. I only came into the bar to identify you when I couldn’t put it off any longer. And that evening didn’t turn out like I’d planned. I went outside with the drainers, and things happened. When you were the one who came to my aid, I decided it was fate. I did what I had been told to do by my queen. In so doing, I fell into a trap I couldn’t escape. I still can’t.”
The trap of LUUUUVVVV, I thought sarcastically. But he was too serious, too calm, to mock. I was simply defending my own heart with the weapon of bitchiness.
“You got you a girlfriend,” I said. “You go on back to Selah.” I looked down to make sure I’d gotten the little strap on the second sandal unlatched. I worked the shoe off. When I glanced back up, Bill’s dark eyes were fixed on me.
“I would give anything to lie with you again,” he said.
I froze, my hands in the act of rolling the thigh-high hose off my left leg.
Okay, that pretty much stunned me on several different levels. First, the biblical “lie with.” Second, my astonishment that he considered me such a memorable bed partner.
Maybe he only remembered the virgins.
“I don’t want to fool with you tonight, and Sam’s waiting on me down there to help him tend bar,” I said roughly. “You go on.” I stood and turned my back to him while I pulled on my pants and my shirt, tucking the shirt in. Then it was time for the black running shoes. After a quick check in the mirror to make sure I still had on some lipstick, I faced the doorway.
He was gone.
I went down the wide stairs and out the patio doors into the garden, relieved to be resuming my more accustomed place behind a bar. My feet still hurt. So did the sore spot in my heart labeled Bill Compton.
Sam gave me a smiling glance as I scurried into place. Miss Caroline had vetoed our request to leave a tip jar out, but bar patrons had already stuffed a few bills into an empty highball glass, and I intended to let that stay in position.
“You looked real pretty in the dress,” Sam said as he mixed a rum and Coke. I handed a beer across the bar and smiled at the older man who’d come to fetch it. He gave me a huge tip, and I glanced down to see that in my hurry to get downstairs I’d skipped a button. I was showing a little extra cleavage. I was momentarily embarrassed, but it wasn’t a slutty button, just a “Hey, I’ve got boobs” button. So I let it be.
“Thanks,” I said, hoping Sam hadn’t noticed this quick evaluation. “I hope I did everything right.”
“Of course you did,” Sam said, as if the possibility of me blowing my new role had never crossed his mind. This is why he’s the greatest boss I’ve ever had.
“Well, good evening,” said a slightly nasal voice, and I looked up from the wine I was pouring to see that Tanya Grissom was taking up space and breathing air that could be better used by almost anyone else. Her escort, Calvin, was nowhere in sight.
“Hey, Tanya,” Sam said. “How you doing? It’s been a while.”
“Well, I had to tie up some loose ends in Mississippi,” Tanya said. “But I’m back here visiting, and I wondered if you needed any part-time help, Sam.”
I pressed my mouth shut and kept my hands busy. Tanya stepped to the side nearest Sam when an elderly lady asked me for some tonic water with a wedge of lime. I handed it to her so quickly she looked astonished, and then I took care of Sam’s next customer. I could hear from Sam’s brain that he was pleased to see Tanya. Men can be idiots, right? To be fair, I did know some things about her that Sam didn’t.
Selah Pumphrey was next in line, and I could only be amazed at my luck. However, Bill’s girlfriend just asked for a rum and Coke.
“Sure,” I said, trying not to sound relieved, and began putting the drink together.
“I heard him,” Selah said very quietly.
“Heard who?” I asked, distracted by my effort to listen to what Tanya and Sam were saying—either with my ears or with my brain.
“I heard Bill when he was talking to you earlier.” When I didn’t speak, she continued, “I snuck up the stairs after him.”
“Then he knows you were there,” I said absently, and handed her the drink. Her eyes flared wide at me for a second— alarmed, angry? She stalked off. If wishes could kill, I would be lifeless on the ground.
Tanya began to turn away from Sam as if her body was thinking of leaving, but her head was still talking to my boss. Finally, her whole self went back to her date. I looked after her, thinking dark thoughts.
“Well, that’s good news,” Sam said with a smile. “Tanya’s available for a while.”
I bit back my urge to tell him that Tanya had made it quite clear she was available. “Oh, yeah, great,” I said. There were so many people I liked. Why were two of the women I really didn’t care for at this wedding tonight? Well, at least my feet were practically whimpering with pleasure at getting out of the too-small heels.
Excerpted from "From Dead to Worse"
Copyright © 2009 Charlaine Harris.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
From Dead to Worse is the 8th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series and I really enjoyed the latest book. So much action taking place in this novel, lots of different plots going on. Sookie's boyfriend Quinn has disappeared in this book and is no where to be found. Vampires Eric, Bill and Pam are back. Bill is still asking Sookie to forgive him and Eric is remembering the time he spent alone with Sookie. There is a Werewolf War and a hostile Vampire takeover. Sookie still has a roommate that has the cat (man) that she used magic on to turn into said cat and can't change him back. The action opens up right away along with the many twists and turns in this book, it is sure to keep your interest until the end. I am looking forward to book 9.
Very good book. I loved the characters. The cover. can't wait to read more
I thought Sookie was really one dimensional in this book. In her others I have found her to be lacking in emotion and way too deep in denial about things but the books were quite enjoyable. This book however had me thinking of her as a completely unforgiving, emotionless, self-centered snot. For someone who started off as being non-judgmental and compassionate to others "crosses to bear" she sure isn't portraying that in this book. Also, aside from pretty much ostracizing all the men who care for her right out of her life, there are no romantic moments...none. She just keeps finding reasons (very selfish ones at times) to keep dumping on the men who want to love or at least like her.
I don't know, maybe Charlaine wanted to show how jaded she is becoming by being indebted to all the Supes. This book had too many plots going on, and because of that, it was rushed and had no feeling.
I'm sorry, but this was not nearly as good as the prior books.
After really enjoying books 1-7 this book, From Dead to Worse, was a disappointment. Don't you hate it when a good character, one you really think you've come to know, goes sour? In this book heroine Sookie seems off-key, shallow, definately less likable than earlier books - frankly out of character with the sweet, southern gal personna. The plot is very busy but large and small things seem to get the 'light' treatment equally, there's no build up or depth and since most of the action is fairly early in the book, it almost feels more like an info dump than a complete story. More noise than substance. There's no romance in this installment, just Sookie dumping on the men who still - inexplicably - like her. New readers to this series will wonder why. For example, it's 'too soon' for Sookie to say if she loves Quinn, he saves her life, takes a bullet for her and worse, crawls on broken legs to kill a wounded vamp who poses some sort of threat to Sookie's future freedom (not exactly heroic)- but it's not enough because this fairly new boyfriend won't forsake his family? Aren't the good guys suppose to love their mamma and defend their little sisters? In some ways it feels like this plot got so crowded that the important things didn't get enough attention and perhaps the writer lost track of what made her main character engaging. There are contradictory issues with secondary characters too, perhaps editing errors. The end is so anticlimatic that this book feels more like an installment than a complete story. Ealier books in this series were good enough to stand alone, this one really isn't. I don't plan to buy the next book but might read a library copy.
ISBN-13: 9780441015894 I have to admit I found this addition to the Sookie Stackhouse series less than stellar. The writing is solid, of course, and Harris is excellent at creating real-feeling character as usual. But there wasn't any overlapping plot, instead there were a series of wrap ups of ongoing plots, like a checklist, one after the other. First, Sookie discovers a long lost relative who approaches her through Eric. Then on the way home someone tries to kill her, revealing a full scale assassination attempt not just against her, but against everyone linked to the warring local werewolf packs. By 140 pages in the whole packs-at-war situation is mostly resolved, thanks to Sookie, but the vampire situation flares up. This conflict too, not only ends far before the actual end of the book, but there's a closed-eye approach to the adventure and fight scenes that renders them weak. The book isn't bad, as far as furthering the adventures of Sookie, and reflecting the massive changes that she and the people around her are going through while trying to recover from Katrina. But it's not necessarily interesting to people who aren't already emotionally invested in Sookie and her crew. Perhaps From Dead to Worse is a cleansing book, clearing away the slate of old loose ends and making way for dramatic new adventures. But it just feels like the progress is minimized and halting rather than being an exciting new volume of a typically bardic tale.
This book read like a sitcom. Each chapter wrapped up like a nice episode of the HBO series. I love the books and have read them all so far, but have to admit I was disappointed in this one. If you are a "real" fan you'll have to suck it up and read this one like me just to keep up with all of your favorite characters and hope the next one will rise above!
In the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, we find Sookie caught in the middle once again as both the Were Pack and the Louisiana vampires face threats from the outside. In the midst of all the turmoil, Sookie still has to deal with small town dynamics, her confusing relationships with Eric, Quinn, and Bill, a flighty witch living in her home, and her regular shifts at the bar.
I love this series, I really do. There were many things I liked about this installment, particularly learning more about Pack/shifter politics and inner workings. Ditto the vampires and the witches. And I know poor Sookie has been put through a lot in the last few books, but that's probably why I felt things were a little too easy in this one. Still, I'm a big Sookie/Eric fan, so all the little flashes of that were wonderful for me, and I always like more insight into Pam, which we get. There was a lot of good Sam stuff, as well.
I was a little put off by the Jason/Hotshot parts, though. Yes, the Hotshot weres are strange, and Crystal is a bit skanky, but I never really found Jason hateful before, and I felt he was this time around. The other aspect of the book that I didn't care for was all the "Ooh, look, I'm current references" to Carrie Underwood and so on. It just jolted me out of the world Harris had created a little bit, and I think in the long run will date the series a little, whereas before it was a bit more timeless.
Overall, though, I always love to return to Bon Temps and Sookie's life, and this was no exception. When I finished, I wanted more, and for me that's the ultimate test.
This was the 8th in the Charlaine Harris, Sookie series for me. I found this one my favorite of the 8. There is more of Eric and Sookie in the back ground and I find them hotter and more real then the Bill and Sookie romance. In this we see the result of a deadly Vampire political take over and discover Sookie has more relatives then she thought. Her sleezy brother Jason remains selfish and causes her more pain with his weaknesses. She finds out her family has some surprising genetic make up that explains a lot. The ending left me wanting for more and more is coming on May 5, 2009. All though the ending wraps up almost every issue left standing, it doesn't tell us what happens with Eric and Sookie, although she saves his life as well as that of the new Vampire King. Sookie's affair with Eric is one that I hope continues in the 9th book. I couldn't put this one down as each book gets better and better.
I love, love, love this series by Charlaine Harris but this book was a bit of a disappointment. Although it did have a few good moments, I finished the book in a funk. This is not the Sookie Stackhouse I have come to know and love. Sookie seems to be in a perpetual bad mood throughout the entire novel. Eric's character was, well, kind of boring. It's as if he was hit with a stupid stick. I usually love his character because he is really sharp and occasionally sarcastic. Where was the humor?!?! One of the main reasons I love this series is because they are funny - this book made me, like an earlier reviewer, laugh out loud only once. By no means is this a terrible book. It's just not Harris' best to date.
Love the Sookie books. However, they are starting to get a bit old to me. I like this one a lot better than #7, mainly because of Sookie and Eric renewing their relationship in a sense. Hope that keeps up til the end. LOVE ERIC! Love how Sookie finds out about the fairie history in her family and the very last chapter brought tears to my eyes.
I want to pretend like this book never happened. It was like someone else entirely had written this installment. Sookie was nothing but an utter b**ch for most of the book; nothing like what she was in the previous ones. She brakes up with Quinn cause she wants someone who puts her before anyone else. But all he did was try and protect his family (like she would do herself if her grandmother was still alive and needing her) - completely unreasonable. And she's flippant with Eric when he's nothing but nice to her. And what's up with her great-grandfather being a fairy, and on top of that also a Prince? I liked it better when she was just a simple girl with a gift.
I've really enjoyed the other books in this series: a little fantasy, a little romance, a little humor, a little horror. In this book, however, I found Sookie a little self-centered, a little sulky, a little unsympathetic, and more than a little unlikable. If Harris' objective is to broaden or deepen the character, there are better ways to do it than turning her into the Ice Maiden. Not a bad read, but not on a par with the others in the series.
For a long time now, Sookie has been pushed and pulled into various and dangerous events that go on in the Supe world, with those characters showing little regard for her. This book starts off much the same, but soon you see a Darker Sookie - one with just as little regard for some of them. I'm glad to finally see Sookie show a little of the callousness, which was inevitable, from the horrific things she seen... and done. While keeping some of her core values, Sookie is also able to realize that she will never be the same wide-grinning fool for whom she was taken.
Overall, the book is a fast read (literally, took about 5 or 6hours) but really jumps in its pace compared to the other books. What would have once been a short book in the series, became merely a few chapters, like the 'war scenes.' With that, a lof of drama was lost and time seemed to almost stand still (in the Sookie 'verse), but the book does move rapidly. While I'll miss some of the characters we said good-bye to in this book, this book really feels like a primer to the next one, which I'm *anxiously* awaiting and which sounds like will drastically alter the Sookie 'verse. Realize that there is a lot going on and, like the True Blood series, this books isn't all about Sookie the way the books have been in the past.
For those of you who adore the love scenes, you won't be finding that in this book, but I'm thinking that it might get made-up to you in the coming book. Plus, our favourite Vamp and were-animal boys are to be found, and you are not lacking in the drama department there. I would say that this book really is a different feel for all the Sookie fans out there who love to see our gal always come out with a smile; be prepared to learn that Sookie's no saint. But, as my father would say, every saint has a past and every sinner has a future - and we'll see Sookie's future in May- are you ready for The Revelation?
This series is wonderful. You will be saying, the two main male vamps, can bite you after you start reading the books. I can't say enough great things about this series. I'm a member of some message boards and most people agree they can't get enough of the books. Charlaine, did super job at bringing a new light to the world of super nautrals. These are not your normal Vampir books.If you do a search, I'm sure you will find great statments about this series as well. I would say they make for easy reading and are very addicting! I was given books 1-7 for x-mas. I started the first book Jan.6th 2009 and completed book#7 Jan 24th 2009.I enjoy reading but, it's rare when I come across a series I can't put down!
Ok I have a few things I don't care about this series. I feel there is to much time in refreshing your mind, about events from other books.Maybe she was wanted to recall events in case you didn't have the book before. I only have one more complaint. This is that I have the box set and some of my pages were very light, I almost couldn't read the some pages. I'm aware this is nothing to do with Charlaine, its her printing companies fault.
I found out about this series from HBO. They started a mini series called "True Blood". HBO has done a pretty good job about keeping on track with the books. The first season of "True Blood" started last fall.You would be able to watch season one, read the books and be informed before next season starts. "True Blood" is the only reason we have HBO! I hope I was able to help you decide to read the books!!
I was so excited to read this book. I thought the readers would finally get all the answers we have been waiting for. I was also excited to see if Sookie's and Eric's relationship would progress. Every time they started to discuss their relationship it got put off for another time and eventually dropped. I also wonder if the author even realizes who her most important characters even are? There were so many characters and situations going on it got confusing and boring. I think leaving Eric to such a limited role was a mistake.
What really disappoints me, is this book could have been great. It has characters who are masterpieces and a storyline that goes beyond creative. Every little scrap of passion was abruptly sizzled out. I felt very let down.
I remember when the Sookie books were captivating in a can't-put-it-down way. The previous book seemed to recapture some of the old spark and left me with high hopes, but the newest in the series was dead dull! Ms. Harris plods along from one tepid scene to the next, the only semi-exciting scene in the book dealt with in a get-it-over-and-done-with manner. The suspense and charm of the first few books is altogether missing here, not to mention the wit and grace that Sookie normally possesses. This is one to check out of the library.
How disappointing! I waited with baited breath for this book to come out. I found it overshadowed completely by a foul-mood Sookie. I've never seen her in such a bad mood for so long. there was only one part that I even laughed out loud at. The characters did not seem themselves. 'Eric' did not sound/seem like Eric until almost the end and then the promise of a conversation about their time together never happened. I don't know why it seems the author wants us to like bill again. I felt the Quinn-Vegas-Vampire thing was hurried -- almost as if the author rushed to get that story line closed. I hope this book is merely a bridge --- tying up loose ends and introducing characters to make the NEXT book as fabulous as 'some'of the others were. The pattern seems to be one phenomenal, 2 OK, then back to phenomenal. 1, 4 & 7 are by far my faves. Hoping this was just a burp.
I must say that I was disappointed in this, the latest sequel to Charlaine Harris' 'Sookie Stackhouse' series. There were too many sub plots, and not enough interaction with all the characters we have come to know and love. The great grandfather plot was strange from the start. I kept waiting for the real Sookie to stand up, but it never happened. I noticed the same thing in her last Harper/Grave series. Please return to your original format - I love Ms. Harris' books, but I felt that I had waited a year for a book written by someone else.
4.5 stars From Dead to Worse is the eighth full-length novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series by popular American author, Charlaine Harris. Sookie attends the society wedding of the year, expecting to go as a guest, but ending up as a bridesmaid and a barmaid. Enlisted for her telepathic powers, Sookie’s efforts to reconcile opposing factions of the Shreveport weres deteriorate into a battle that sees many dead. She also finds herself in the middle of a hostile takeover of the Louisiana vampires, a takeover that results in several of her vampire friends permanently dead. Spells are cast, a killer exposed and a fledgling relationship ends. Sookie breaks a finger (but not one of hers), does a bit of mediating and saves quite a few lives. There are several attempts on her life by the end of this instalment, so Sookie is surprised and rather satisfied to find herself now under the protection of three powerful individuals. And after her brother Jason’s disappointing behaviour, Sookie is pleased to learn she has two more living relatives of whom she was unaware. Questions remain unanswered so there’s plenty to be going on with in the next book, Dead and Gone, but the last few pages will warm the heart of the most cynical reader. Another entertaining read.
I have read the series up to this book so far in about 2 weeks, and I found this book is on of my favorite from the series. There is non-stop action in it and just when you think thats all the action your gonna get, here comes some more in a different way. I think that Sookie has had so much going on in the since she met her first Vamp that she is starting to think things through a little better before jumping on her feelings like she has in the past about some of the other characters. She is still mad at Bill and I don't blame her, he has done her wrong in more than one way. Eric regains his memory of his time in Sookie's house and I think that that plays a part in his easy decision with the new king. IDK, I could be wrong about that but that was what I was thinking. Everytime he calls her "lover" I melt and I most look forward to parts that have Eric in them.
It's been six years since the Great Revelation, when the vampires of the world made themselves known to humans. Sookie's boyfriend Quinn, the were-tiger, is missing. The big Bon Temps event, the double wedding of Portia Bellefleur to Glen Vick and Andy Bellefleur to Halleigh, is finally happening. So far things are going perfectly and without a hitch. Well there is one hitch. Sookie is asked to be one of Halliegh's bridesmaids, when one faints and is riding an ambulance to the hospital. Sookie feels better being in the wedding, but she still has to work the bar with Sam at the reception. Bill pleads to Sookie to accept his apology and explanation of what happened because of the Queen of Louisiana orders. He asks that she give him a chance and take him back. How could she? Who is the beautiful withered man that Sookie sees at the wedding? Eric takes Sookie to a very fancy restaurant to meet her great-grandfather, face-to-face. It turns out that he is the fairy prince! But more dramatic than that, on their (Eric and Sookie) drive home, they are pulled over by a cop. Only it's not a cop, but a Were shooting to kill Sookie. Eric takes a bullet for Sookie, saving her life. To complicate matters more between Sookie and Eric, there is the blood bond between the couple. Eric confesses to Sookie that he remembers everything from the time that he lost his memory and was staying (hiding out) at her house. The next morning, Sookie reads in the newspaper that Maria-Star was murdered. Who would have a motive to murder the Were photographer? Octavia finally shows at the Sookie's front door for Amelia. Her roomie rushes to the shocking awakening to meet her punishment, and expecting the worst. There is a war brewing in the Were community between Alcide and Furnan. With the help of Octavia and Amelia, Sookie finds out that one of Furnan's men are responsible for Maria-Star's death. Furnan's wife has been kidnapped, and the only one he believes to have the motive is Alcide. In one of the most tense and exciting fight scenes since the packmaster competition, Sookie is wounded (bitten) by Priscilla, the homeless female Were packmaster, responsible for the killings. With the Queen of Louisiana incapacitated for the time, (she's in the painful process of growing her legs back), the weakened territory of Louisiana is ripe for the taking. The answer to who would take the opportunity could lay behind the identity of the new Asian vampire Jonathan, who Sookie meets at the double wedding reception. When Frannie shows up at Sookie's door, will she be able to save Quinn from the trap that the vamps have waiting? My opinion is that Sookie will not settle with Quinn. The blood bond between her and Eric, and her hatred towards Bill lessening, confuses her decision on who she wants to be with. I believe that she will finally end up with Bill Compton or Eric Northman. But who will she choose?
This book felt like a filler to me. I adore the Sookie Stackhouse books, and found myself so disapointed by this one. Sookie has a bad attitude most of the book, swearing and using language that didn't seem genuine to her character. She breaks up with Quinn, the one person who selflessly cared for her the most, for a BS reason, but is willing to accept mistreatment doled out by all other characters. So much stuff was jammed into this single book, yet it feels like nothing happened - like the purpose was just to tie up loose ends. I'm not happy with any of the turns this book took, most of all I'm not happy with the changes to Sookie's character. I'm going to take a break before venturing on to the next installment. :-(
Not quite as great as the others, but it at least keeps you updated with your favorite characters. Love the series. Love it on HBO. Love the humor too.
I have been looking for a book series to get into since reading harry potter and I am so happy to have found Charlaine Harris' books. I enjoy reading Sookie Stackhouse stories and try tounfold the misteries. This is an engaging series worth of reading. I have read 8 books on the past 7 days and i cant wait for more.
I love the Sookie Stackhouse novels but it seems with each new book, the more Harris tries to pack into it. My only guess for it is she wants Sookie to feel more and more over her head with the sups but it is becoming too much. I felt exausted after reading it. I still liked the book but I wish some of the plot lines were spread over two books instead of cramed into one.