Check out our episode here! Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Sookie Stackhouse is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 25 year old waitress at Merlotte's, the bar in her small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. She describes herself as very pretty, but with a disability, the ability to read minds. She never reads the thoughts of her boss, Sam, or her friends, or anyone if she can help it. One night, a new patron comes into the bar, which rarely ever happens. This patron is a vampire. A few years ago, vampires "came out of the coffin" and revealed themselves to the rest of the world. Sookie is ecstatic to meet her first vampire and takes his order. They don't have any of the new synthetic blood yet, so the vampire orders red wine, but doesn't drink it.
A couple sitting at a nearby table, Mack and Denise Rattray, or as Sookie calls them, The Rats, are the worst kind of people. They've been in jail, they sell drugs, they're just garbage people. Soon Sookie realizes that they've left their table and are now sitting with the vampire, Denise showing off her neck and just being trashy. Sookie gets on with the rest of her waitressing duties, but often glances over at the vampire. She and her friend Arlene talk about the vampire and about Arlene's boyfriend/ex-husband Rene, and then Jason, Sookie's brother, comes in. When Sookie next goes to the vampire's table, she listens in on the Rats and learns that they are vampire drainers and they're planning to do the same tonight.
Shortly after they leave, Sookie follows, but not before asking Jason if she can borrow the chain he keeps in the bed of his truck. She sneaks through the Merlotte's parking lot and discovers the Rats draining the vampire, his wrists and ankles wrapped in silver. She attacks and they fight back, Mack coming at her with a knife, but she flings the chain and it wraps around his neck. The couple runs off and Sookie frees the vampire, who she learns is named Bill, but then the Rats come flying by in their car, trying to run Sookie down. Ugh. Garbage. Sookie realizes she can't hear Vampire Bill in her mind and is so pleased. Vampire Bill is stunned by Sookie's lack of fear and the fact that she doesn't want to take his blood since it can heal and increase sexual arousal. He asks her what she is. Well... she's a waitress.
When Sookie gets home that night, to the house she shares with her grandmother, Adele, who she's lived with since her parents died when she was seven, she tells her about meeting a vampire. Gran, who is a member of the Descendants of the Glorious Dead, is excited to hear there is a vampire in town. Jason comes by the house the next day, angry at Sookie because Rene heard that Sookie attacked the Rats the night before. She tried to come back and tell him, but he was busy with one of the other girls at Merlotte's. And plus, did Rene tell Jason that Mack and Denise were draining a vampire in the Merlotte's parking lot and then they pulled a knife on her and then tried to run her over? Jason might be pretty to look at, but he is not very smart.
Jason also tells Sookie and Gran that someone killed a girl, Maudette, that he used to mess around with. That's literally every girl in town though, honestly. Then he talks about girls who prostitute themselves to vampires and how Maudette had vampire bites. Good, wholesome lunch conversation, Jason. When he leaves, Gran asks about Vampire Bill and whether or not Sookie thinks he'd come to one of her Descendants meetings. She says she'll ask.
Sookie goes to work later and gets shaken by Sam, both physically and mentally. He grabs her shoulders, upset that she faced the Rats on her own, and when he touches her, she can't help but read his mind, and it's not like anyone else's. She only gets feelings instead of thoughts and one of those feelings is attraction. Sam likes Sookie! She cannot handle that, so she just ignores it. She likes Sam, sure, but he's her boss, so having sex with him wouldn't be a good idea. Sex with anyone isn't a good idea for Sookie though, what with the mind reading. That would just be awkward.
Rene and another guy, Hoyt Fortenberry, who are friendly with the Rattrays and who like to gossip, have told Sookie that the Rats have been saying nasty things about her, but she knows they're trash, so it's to be expected. Rene is in Merlotte's often, but everybody's been in a lot since Maudette was murdered, spreading rumors and gossip. Rene is not in the bar a couple days later though, and Sookie is glad because Vampire Bill has come back! She asks him to meet with her after she gets off work.
When that time rolls around, Sookie doesn't find Bill, but she does get violently beaten by the Rats. They snuck up on her at her car and nearly beat her to death. Sookie hears a dog that comes running up and attacks her attackers, but then she starts fading. The dog licks her face and then Bill shows up, gets rid of the Rats and feeds Sookie his blood, which heals her. He partakes of a little of her blood from her wounds, and she asks if she tastes different than other people. Yes, she does. Bill asks again what she is and she finally tells him she's telepathic. And asks him to come to her Gran's meeting. He agrees and asks if he can call on her some night. He plans to come by her house in a couple days.
The next day, Gran gets a gossipy phone call and learns there was a tornado that touched down last night at the trailer where the Rats lived and they're dead. Well, that's, uh, not how tornadoes work and also Sookie knows that Bill killed the Rattrays. This must be his way of covering it up. It's busy at Merlotte's when Sookie goes in later on account of all the deaths and when an out-of-towner grabs Sookie's leg, Rene is there in a second to make the guy apologize and leave. Rene doesn't want anybody bothering a friend of Arlene's or anyone else working at Merlotte's, plus Sookie reminds him of his sister. It's weird that Rene stood up for her, but she appreciates it.
The next day is the day that Vampire Bill calls on Sookie. They chat with Gran and Bill agrees to speak at one of the Descendants meetings, then he and Sookie take a walk. They are very comfortable with each other, Sookie because she can't read Bill's mind, Bill because Sookie has no fear of vampires, and they talk about a lot of things. They talk about their abilities and how Bill can levitate and glamor people, but when he tries, it doesn't work on Sookie. She can see him glowing, though, which no one else can. They talk about her telepathy and how her whole life has been terrible because of it and they talk about Bill's past and how he's fixing up his old family home that is right across the cemetery from Sookie and Gran's. They end the night with a long kiss and plans for Sookie to call workmen around town to get them to help with the house repairs.
The next day, Sookie makes those calls but then gets a call from Sam asking her to cover a shift at the bar. Dawn has not shown up for work. Frustrated, she goes into work on her day off and accidentally reads Arlene's mind and learns she thinks she is pregnant and gives her a hug. Arlene knows Sookie read her mind and isn't happy, so Sookie gets upset. Sam comes to check on her and tells her she can read his mind if she wants to, but no! She can't do that. She leaves for the night, but Sam's offer still stands.
Sookie goes to Bill's to talk to him about the workmen, but there are other vampires there, too, Malcolm, Liam and Diane, and they are sleazy. They're visiting from Monroe and they've brought some human feeders with them. Sookie does not like these vampires, mostly because they're not trying to mainstream, or act like a human, like Bill is. They're acting exactly like you'd expect vampires to act. They want Sookie like they want the other two humans in the room, but Bill declares "Sookie is mine," and they leave her alone. As they get ready to drink from one of the humans, Sookie looks into his mind and sees that he has a form of AIDS that will kill vampires and she shouts for them to stop. The human lunges and strangles Sookie, then Bill breaks his wrist. The other vampires don't know what to make of what just happened and they leave, taking their humans with them. Sookie is ready to go home, to forget about vampires for a while, and so she leaves, leaving Bill a list of workmen that are willing to work on his house.
The next day, Sam calls Sookie for help again. This time he asks her to go over to Dawn's place and see why she's not at work. Well, it's because she's dead. Rene lives across the street and sees Sookie, so he comes over to investigate. When Sookie discovers Dawn's body, she yells for Rene to call the police and soon two cops, Kevin and Kenya, arrive at the scene, and so does Detective Andy Bellefleur, and Sam because he owns the duplexes where Dawn lived. Andy begins interrogating Sookie, asking about Dawn and Sam and why Sam made her come to Dawn's and about Bill. He says she'll need to come to the station so they can talk more, but she has to go to work. She insists that he come to Merlotte's instead.
It's very busy at Merlotte's when Sookie goes in. Sam called in Terry Bellefleur to tend bar for him while he continued dealing with the crime scene. When Sam arrives, he tells Sookie that the police told him that Dawn had old vampire bites just like Maudette did. Sam maybe thinks that Bill had something to do with their deaths and when she asks him about his concerns, he says that Bill's not human. Well, neither is he! Sookie says back. She works hard that night, frustrated with everything that's going on. When she gets home, Bill is waiting and she tells him that he should be worried because both of these girls have been murdered and they've also been with vampires. But, he suggests, they weren't killed by a vampire because they weren't drained of blood. Sookie tells Bill that both girls liked to go to the vampire bar in Shreveport and asks if he'll take her. Yes, he will.
Jason comes by Gran's later and is very worried. The police are interested in him as a suspect because he's been with both the girls who were murdered. Sookie and Gran suggest he needs to not act so worried and go to work like usual. Sookie then gets ready to go to Fangtasia, the vampire bar. She puts on a dress that's a little shorter and more revealing than she'd normally wear and then goes to pick up her paycheck at Merlotte's. Everybody in the bar is astonished at her outfit, even Lafayette the cook, though he, with his beautiful eyeshadow and false lashes, is more interested in where she bought the dress than how she looks in it. Before heading out, Sam comes up and... sniffs her? That's an odd thing, but a bunch of weird stuff has been going on lately, so she just leaves.
Bill picks Sookie up later and they drive to Fangtasia. She's out of place there in her white dress. Everyone else is either wearing black or some sort of vampire costume. Sookie asks the bartender, Long Shadow, if he's seen Maudette, Dawn or Jason in the bar. Yes to the ladies, no to Jason. They sit for a while and four fang-bangers, humans who let vampires feed on them, approach Bill, but he rejects them all. Then they go see Eric, a magnificently tall, blond, handsome vampire who owns the bar and his associate, Pam. They have seen both girls there before. Eric seems particularly interested in Sookie, but when Bill proclaims that Sookie is mine, they return to their table. Shortly after, Sookie reads the mind of a policeman who has just called in a raid at the bar, so she, Bill and Eric and Long Shadow leave. She tells Eric that she read the man's mind, which makes him even more interested in her, but then she and Bill drive off. They make out a little ways down the road, but are stopped by an officer, and then go home. Sookie is oddly cool with Bill after this and says she won't call on him again.
A few days pass and then it's time for the Descendants of the Glorious Dead meeting with Bill. Sookie had decided not to go, still upset with Bill, but when Sam asks her if she'll go with him, like a date, she agrees. Gran excitedly gets everything ready and heads to the meeting early and then Sam arrives to pick up Sookie. At the meeting, Bill tells about his time in the Civil War and talks about people he knew at the time whose family members are sitting there, listening intently. After the meeting, Sam and Sookie go for coffee, but it gets pretty awkward when Sam tells Sookie he likes her and she says only after someone else showed interest first. When Sam drops Sookie off, she goes inside but immediately knows something is wrong. She checks every room, looking for her Gran, and finds her dead in the kitchen in a pool of blood.
Sookie calls Bill who comes over immediately. Then they call the police and Jason and Sam. Everyone gets there quickly. Sookie decides that the same person who killed Maudette and Dawn killed her Gran. It looked like only Sookie was home since her car was in the driveway, but Gran had parked around back to bring things in from the meeting. Sookie was not even supposed to have been at the meeting, she had said she wasn't going to go, but then she did. Gran died in her place. When she says this, Jason gets angry and lashes out about Gran leaving Sookie the house in her will and then he slaps her. Bill and Sam are on him in a heartbeat while Detective Bellefleur just looks on. Later, Bill tells Sookie that if anything ever happens to him, she should be with Sam.
Soon after this, they have a funeral. Everyone in town is there, except for Bill because it's daytime, and after it's over, a lady Sookie can't place asks where her Uncle Bartlett is. She and Jason aren't in touch with him anymore, but Jason says they'd better tell him what happened. Sookie makes him do it. She stays away from work for a few days and Arlene comes over and helps clean out Gran's room that is now Sookie's room. Sookie has a bath and tries to relax and then Bill comes over. He brushes Sookie's hair and then they begin making out. Bill then carries her to her room where they have sex, for Sookie's first time. And then her second. Bill feeds on her as he climaxes and Sookie feels over the moon.
The next day at Merlotte's, Sookie is on top of the world, until Sam pulls down her collar and exposes her bite marks. Most everyone is okayish about Sookie and Bill, but not Sam. He says he's worried about her, but she yells at him that he's just mad and he never got in line to date her before. She gets to work and soon enough, the tension goes away, for now. Jason is at the bar, upset over being interviewed by the police over and over about Dawn and Maudette, and Sookie suggests he get a lawyer, which is something Rene suggested too. Then everything goes to hell when Malcolm and Diane, the Monroe vampires, come in. Bill is there, too, but separately from those two. They make a scene and Bill sides with Sookie, letting everyone in the bar know that he's not bad like these two vampires are. Rene yells at them to leave, and they do, but they're not happy.
After work, Sookie goes to Bill's where they have sex in his spa-like bathroom. The next night, they have conversations about their childhoods and things get serious. Sookie tells Bill about her Uncle Bartlett who sexually abused her when she was just a child, back before her parents died when she was seven. She tries to go home after this, but Bill insists that she stay, so she does. He's not there when she wakes up, however. Jason is though. He's come to pick her up and tells her that someone murdered their uncle. Sookie doesn't put it together right away, but she is relieved that that monster is dead. Jason tells her to get over what happened to her and expects her to be sorry he's dead, but she's not. She goes home and gets ready for work. And then it clicks that Bill killed Bartlett for her.
Sookie confronts Bill about Bartlett, about how he can't just kill everyone that bothers her, and after they declare they love each other, Sookie tells Bill she needs some time to decide what to do, so they separate. She goes to work where she overhears everyone thinking about killing the Monroe vampires. Everyone. It's like someone is riling everyone up. Bill comes into the bar later with a young vampire friend who is planning on visiting with Malcom, Diane and Liam, and Sookie only tells Bill to "watch out." She regrets it later when she finds out that the angry townsfolk burned the vampires' house and four coffins were found inside.
Sookie goes to the scene and worries she'll find Bill there, but the corpses are just ashes so she'll have to wait until nightfall to see if he's still alive. Sam goes with her back to her house and makes her clean it top to bottom to keep her mind off Bill. When the sun sets, even though it's raining, Sookie runs through the cemetery separating their houses, screaming Bill's name. He unearths himself and they have sex right there in a mud puddle. Bill carries Sookie back to his place after that and they bathe together again. Now that they're back together, things are better, but they're also worse because what if the mob burns Bill's house down too? They spend almost all their time together after that.
Everyone in town is still on edge about the murders and Jason keeps getting hauled in to talk to the police. Now he's in trouble because they found out that Jason had been making sex tapes with Maudette and Dawn. In desperation, he asks Sookie to read the minds of everyone in the bar to see if she can find the real murderer. She goes home later, overwhelmed at what Jason has asked her to do and decides not to go to Bill's because she's upset. He comes over to make sure she's okay and to tell her that Eric has asked for her assistance at Fangtasia the next night. He suggests she drink his blood to gain some strength to prepare and she does while they have sex.
At Fangtasia the next night, Eric asks Sookie to read the minds of the humans that work for him because someone has embezzled $60000. She does, and says she'll do it whenever he needs her to as long as they go through proper channels and turn the responsible person over to the police. Then she has a flash inside Eric's mind, that he could make her do whatever he wants by threatening Bill, but then she's out of his mind and back to focusing on her job for the night. She interrogates the humans and finds out that it wasn't one of them who stole from Eric, but instead it was Long Shadow, who realizes she knows just as she figures it out. He attacks and bites her arm right before Eric stakes him and he explodes into a puddle of blood and goo. She gets his blood in her mouth and it turns all the vampires in the room on. She and Bill are able to make it out of there even though Bill is also feeling the bloodlust. After she gets home, she decides she's through with vampires for a while.
At Merlotte's the next day, everyone has eyes for Sookie. Drinking so much vampire blood has made her healthier and even prettier than usual. She gets to work, both literally and figuratively. She does all her waitressing duties and also listens to everyone's minds, trying to find out who the murderer is. She doesn't learn anything though, but comes back that night after her shift and tries again. She sits with Jason most of the night, still listening, until Bill comes in with a girl. This sets Sookie on edge until Bill tells her that this girl was a gift from Eric that he needs to return. Jason offers to drive the girl back to Monroe and Bill and Sookie talk. Eric is going to want more from her and there's not much Bill can do about it because Eric is older and stronger than he is. Plus, Sookie jokes, is he like, the head of Vampire Region Ten or something? That's actually not too far off...
The next day, Arlene asks if Sookie will watch her kids, Coby and Lisa, that night so she and Rene can go on a date. Rene brings them by later and then Bill comes over, too. They have a good night and then, when Arlene and Rene come to pick the kids up, another vampire comes out of the woods. This vampire looks very familiar to everyone, but his name is definitely Bubba and not what you think it is. Even though that is exactly who he is and why there are always sightings of him everywhere. Bill has asked Bubba to stay in the woods and keep watch over Sookie because he has to go to New Orleans on business for a few days. This is weird, but okay. It's also weird that Bubba likes to drink cats instead of humans. Something's not right about Bubba.
The next day at Merlotte's, Arlene talks about Bubba a little and how good Rene was when talking to the vampires the night before. Apparently he doesn't like vampires at all because his sister got mixed up with them. Sam asks if Sookie will look over some waitress applications. He needs to hire someone new and so Sookie sorts through and finds a good fit. Then she sees a cup from the gas station where Maudette worked and then gets nervous that it is Sam who has been killing everyone. But no. Couldn't be.
Sookie goes home, but is uneasy all night. She tries to call Jason, but he's not home, or at Merlotte's. Sam's not in either. He's got Terry working for him again. Terry calls back a little later saying that Jason is there now, so Sookie goes up there to see him. But he's not there and hasn't been there. Terry says so, but maybe he's just having an off night. Sookie goes back out to her car and there's a collie waiting there. She brings the dog home with her and, after she's sure he won't pee on anything, names him Dean and gets in bed. Dean joins her.
When Sookie wakes up the next morning, Dean is still in bed with her, except it's not Dean, it's Sam! And he's naked! Sam explains that he's a shapeshifter and can turn into the last animal he looks at. Why didn't he tell her this before?! Sookie finds Sam some of Jason's old clothes but as he's getting dressed, Andy Bellefleur drives up. Sam turns into the collie again and the detective comes inside, exhausted. He wants to know if Bill was here the night before or if Sookie has heard from Jason. Andy says that another girl was killed, the same girl that Sookie picked out for Sam to hire at Merlotte's. Sookie convinces Andy to take a nap while she runs some errands and then she and Sam, who is fully dressed and human again, leave.
Sookie drives Sam to Merlotte's and they see Jason's truck in the parking lot. He's inside, but is drunk or drugged or something, and bloody. And there's a new video tape. Sookie tells Sam to call an ambulance just as Arlene pulls into work. Jason gets checked in to the hospital, still unconscious, but the doctor promises to call as soon as he wakes up. Andy is gone when Sookie gets back home. He's at the hospital now, too, and he's going to arrest Jason when he comes to. Sookie knows her brother and knows he would never kill anyone, but the evidence is stacked up against him.
Sookie calls Bill at his hotel in New Orleans, but he doesn't return her calls. Then she talks to Jason's lawyer and tells him she wants Jason out on bail and that she believes someone has set him up because they are jealous of how many women he sleeps with. Jason is bailed out and Sookie spends the day in Merlotte's, creeping out the bar patrons by listening intently to everyone's thoughts. Sam sends her home and she's not there for very long before she hears a yowl outside. She checks on Bubba, but he doesn't respond. Then she tries to call the police, but the phone line has been cut. She decides to grab the keys to Bill's house and the rifle her Gran kept and run to Bill's to call the police. The rifle is gone though. Someone has been inside her house.
Sookie sneaks through the woods and comes upon Bubba's body, unconscious or dead she's not sure. There's also a dead cat nearby, and Sookie surmises that someone drugged the cat to feed to Bubba. Someone who knew Bubba preferred to eat animals. Then Sookie opens her mind and hears and sees terrible things. Hate, black, red, Dawn being punched and strangled, Maudette naked and beaten, another naked woman covered in bruises, her Gran fighting for her life in the kitchen. Arlene's kids playing. She is inside Rene's mind. Then she sees herself through his eyes and runs.
She takes off through the cemetery and hides, then calls out to Rene, asking if his sister is still alive. No. She is not. Sookie sees that Rene killed his sister when she wouldn't stop seeing the vampire she was with and then he violated her corpse. When Sookie leaves Rene's mind, he's upon her and punches her in the face. They fight, Sookie much stronger than she should be, what with all the vampire blood she's had recently. Rene still manages to knock her down and begins strangling her, but she reaches to his belt and finds a knife there. She stabs him in the gut. He staggers around and falls over, and Sookie manages to walk to Bill's and call the police before passing out.
Sookie wakes up in the hospital with the police and Andy tells her that Rene was talking about how he was trying to kill her and was upset that he didn't when they found him and that he's still alive. Oh great. Jason comes by then, upset that his sister had to fight his battles for him. That makes her want to kick him, but she's too weak for that. Then Arlene comes in, crying that her friends were killed and attacked by her boyfriend/ex-husband. Jason and Arlene leave together, talking about Rene and how they both trusted him.
Sookie gets a flower delivery a little later and sees some from Merlotte's, and some from Jason's lawyer and one oddly sexual-looking arrangement from ... Eric. Nothing from Bill! She dozes off and has terrible dreams, then wakes up to Bill standing at her bedside. She's mad that he never returned her calls, but he says he wanted to tell her what he did in person. He thought, in order to make their relationship more protected from Eric who could basically order Bill to stop seeing Sookie if he chose to, that he should run for a vampire office, making him more powerful in Eric's eyes, so he did. And he won! He's now the Investigator for Region Five, whatever that means.
Now that he's back, all Bill wants to do is kill Rene, heal Sookie with his blood, and take her home. But she refuses all those things. She'll get to go home from the hospital soon enough and she'll heal just fine. She doesn't want anyone else to be murdered, so she asks that Bill just let Rene either die on his own in intensive care or to let the police handle him. She just wants things to be normal again. As Bill goes to turn off the light, a collie trots by her hospital room and Eric flies outside the window. Sure, Sookie, things will get back to normal soon enough.