Dead Ever After

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Penguin, 2014 - Fiction - 339 pages
79 Reviews
There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie, and could destroy her heart. Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte?s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance, and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated. Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime. But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she?ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough.
 

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User Review  - justagirlwithabook - LibraryThing

I absolutely loved this book and this series! I got involved with this series before True Blood became a show and I couldn't quit reading. I ended up getting all caught up and then had to wait each ... Read full review

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User Review  - NikkiK94 - LibraryThing

I absolutely love this series and I am sad that it has come to an end. However, I am very satisfied with the end of the novel. I loved it! Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
15
Section 2
23
Section 3
41
Section 4
54
Section 5
71
Section 6
81
Section 7
101
Section 8
114
Section 14
192
Section 15
213
Section 16
235
Section 17
242
Section 18
251
Section 19
261
Section 20
278
Section 21
288

Section 9
122
Section 10
141
Section 11
159
Section 12
171
Section 13
187
Section 22
299
Section 23
319
Section 24
323
Section 25
327
Copyright

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About the author (2014)

Prologue

JANUARY

The New Orleans businessman, whose gray hair put him in his fifties, was accompanied by his much younger and taller bodyguard/ chauffeur on the night he met the devil in the French Quarter. The meeting was by prearrangement.

“This is really the Devil we’re going to see?” asked the bodyguard. He was tense—but then, that wasn’t too surprising.

“Not the Devil, but a devil.” The businessman was cool and collected on the outside, but maybe not so much on the inside. “Since he came up to me at the Chamber of Commerce banquet, I’ve learned a lot of things I didn’t know before.” He looked around him, trying to spot the creature he’d agreed to meet. He told his bodyguard, “He convinced me that he was what he said he was. I always thought my daughter was simply deluded. I thought she imagined she had power because she wanted to have something . . . of her own. Now I’m willing to admit she has a certain talent, though nowhere near what she thinks.”

It was cold and damp, even in New Orleans, in the January night. The businessman shifted from foot to foot to keep warm. He told the bodyguard, “Evidently, meeting at a crossroads is traditional.” The street was not as busy as it would be in the summer, but there were still drinkers and tourists and natives going about their night’s entertainment. He wasn’t afraid, he told himself. “Ah, here he comes,” the businessman said.

The devil was a well– dressed man, much like the businessman. His tie was by Hermes. His suit was Italian. His shoes were custom made. His eyes were abnormally clear, the whites gleaming, the irises a purplish brown; they looked almost red from certain angles.

“What have you got for me?” the devil asked, in a voice that indicated he was only faintly interested.

“Two souls,” said the businessman. “Tyrese has agreed to go in with me.”

The devil shifted his gaze to the bodyguard. After a moment, the bodyguard nodded. He was a big man, a light–skinned African American with bright hazel eyes.

“Your own free will?” the devil asked neutrally. “Both of you?”

“My own free will,” said the businessman.

“My own free will,” affirmed the bodyguard.

The devil said, “Then let’s get down to business.”

“Business” was a word that made the older man comfortable. He smiled. “Wonderful. I’ve got the documents right here, and they’re signed.” Tyrese opened a thin leather folder and withdrew two pieces of paper: not parchment or human skin, nothing that dramatic or exotic—computer paper that the businessman’s office secretary had bought at Office Max. Tyrese offered the papers to the devil, who gave them a quick glance.

“You have to sign them again,” the devil said. “For this signature, ink is not satisfactory.”

“I thought you were joking about that.” The businessman frowned.

“I never joke,” the devil said. “I do have a sense of humor, oh, believe me, I do. But not about contracts.”

“We actually have to . . . ?”

“Sign in blood? Yes, absolutely. It’s traditional. And you’ll do it now.” He read the businessman’s sideways glance correctly. “I promise you no one will see what you are doing,” he said. As the devil spoke, a sudden hush enveloped the three men, and a thick film fell between them and the rest of the street scene.

The businessman sighed elaborately, to show how melodramatic he thought this tradition was. “Tyrese, your knife?” he said, looking up to the chauffeur.

Tyrese’s knife appeared with shocking suddenness, probably from his coat sleeve; the blade was obviously sharp, and it gleamed in the streetlight. The businessman shucked off his coat and handed it to his companion. He unbuttoned his cuff and rolled up his sleeve. Perhaps to let the devil know how tough he was, he jabbed himself in the left arm with the knife. A sluggish trickle of blood rewarded his effort, and he looked the devil directly in the face as he accepted the quill that the devil had somehow supplied . . . even more smoothly than Tyrese had produced the knife. Dipping the quill into the trail of blood, the businessman signed his name to the top document, which the chauffeur held pressed against the leather folder.

After he’d signed, the businessman returned the knife to the chauffeur and donned his coat. The chauffeur followed the same procedure as his employer. When he’d signed his own contract, he blew on it to dry the blood as if he’d signed with a Sharpie and the ink might smear.

The devil smiled when the signatures were complete. The moment he did, he didn’t look quite so much like a prosperous man of affairs.

He looked too damn happy.

“You get a signing bonus,” he told the businessman. “Since you brought me another soul. By the way, how do you feel?”

“Just like I always did,” said the businessman. He shrugged his coat back over his shoulders. “Maybe a little angry.” He smiled suddenly, his teeth looking as sharp and gleaming as the knife had. “How are you, Tyrese? ” he asked his employee.

“A little antsy,” Tyrese admitted. “But I’ll be okay.”

“You were both bad people to begin with,” the devil said, without any judgment in his voice. “The souls of the innocent are sweeter. But I delight in having you. I suppose you’re sticking with the usual wish list? Prosperity? The defeat of your enemies?”

“Yes, I want those things,” the businessman said with passionate sincerity. “And I have a few more requests, since I get a signing bonus. Or could I take that in cash?”

“Oh,” the devil said, smiling gently, “I don’t deal in cash. I deal in favors.”

“Can I get back to you on that?” the businessman asked after some thought. “Take a rain check?”

The devil looked faintly interested. “You don’t want an Alfa Romeo, or a night with Nicole Kidman, or the biggest house in the French Quarter?”

The businessman shook his head decisively. “I’m sure something will come up that I do want, and then I’d like to have a very good chance of getting it. I was a successful man until Katrina. And after

Katrina I thought I would be rich, because I own a lumber business. Everyone needed lumber.” He took a deep breath. He kept on telling his story, despite the fact that the devil looked bored. “But getting a supply line reestablished was hard. So many people didn’t have money to spend because they were ruined, and there was the wait for the insurance money, for the rest. I made some mistakes, believing the fly–by–night builders would pay me on time. . . . It all ended up with my business too extended, everyone owing me, my credit stretched as thin as a condom on an elephant. Knowledge of this is getting around.” He looked down. “I’m losing the influence I had in this city.”

Possibly the devil had known all those things, and that was why he’d approached the businessman. Clearly he was not interested in the businessman’s litany of woes. “Prosperity it is, then,” he said briskly. “And I look forward to your special request. Tyrese, what do you want? I have your soul, too.”

“I don’t believe in souls,” Tyrese said flatly. “I don’t think my boss does, either. We don’t mind giving you what we don’t believe we have.” He grinned at the devil, man to man, which was a mistake. The devil was no man.

The devil smiled back. Tyrese’s grin vanished at the sight. “What do you want?” the devil repeated. “I won’t ask again.”

“I want Gypsy Kidd. Her real name is Katy Sherboni, if you need that. She work at Bourbon Street Babes. I want her to love me the way I love her.”

The businessman looked disappointed in his employee. “Tyrese, I wish you’d asked for something more lasting. Sex is everywhere you look in New Orleans, and girls like Gypsy are a dime a dozen.”

“You wrong,” Tyrese said. “I don’t think I have a soul, but I know love is once in a lifetime. I love Gypsy. If she loves me back, I’ll be a happy man. And if you make money, boss, I’ll make money. I’ll have enough. I’m not greedy.”

“I’m all about the greed,” said the devil, almost gently. “You may end up wishing you’d asked for some government bonds, Tyrese.”

The chauffeur shook his head. “I’m happy with my bargain. You give me Gypsy, the rest will be all right. I know it.”

The devil looked at him with what seemed very much like pity, if that emotion was possible for a devil.

“Enjoy yourselves, you hear?” he said to both of the newly soulless men. They could not tell if he was mocking them or if he was sincere. “Tyrese, you will not see me again until our final meeting.” He faced the businessman. ̶

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