Death s Excellent Vacation


Chapter One

"SO why are we going to Tunica?" I asked Pam. "And what are we supposed to do when we get there?" "We're going to see the sights and gamble, " Pam said. The headlights of a passing car glinted on Pam's pale, straight hair. Pam was paler than her hair and approximately a hundred and sixty years old, give or take a decade. She'd become a vampire when Victoria was still a young queen. "It's hard to believe you'd want to go to Mississippi. For that matter, it's hard to believe you'd want to take me along. "

"Are we not friends, Sookie?" "Yes, " I said, after a little hesitation. Though it didn't seem polite to say so, I was closer to being a friend of Pam's than I was of any other vampire. "Somehow, I got the feeling you really didn't think enough of humans to want to claim one as a friend. " "You're not as intolerable as most, " Pam said lightly. "Thanks for the glowing testimony. " "Oh, you're quite welcome. " She grinned, flashing just a bit of fang. "I hope this is fun, considering I'm using my two days off to make this little trip. " I sounded a little grumpy, with good reason.

"It's a vacation! A chance to get out of your rut. Don't you get tired of Bon Temps? Don't you get tired of hustling drinks at Sam's bar?" Truthfully, no. I love my little Louisiana town. I feel as comfortable as a telepath can be among the people I know so well (better than most of them will ever understand). And I love working for Sam at Merlotte's. I'm a very good waitress and barmaid. My life brings me enough excitement without me having to leave town to get more. "Something always goes wrong when I go out of town, " I said, trying not to sound whiny. "Such as?" "Remember when I went to Dallas? All those people got shot? When I went to Jackson, I got staked. " Which was pretty ironic, since I'm human. "And when I flew up to Rhodes with you-all, the hotel got blown up. "

"And you saved my life, " Pam said, suddenly serious. "Well, " I said, and then could think of nothing more to add. I started to say, You would have done the same for me, but I was by no means sure that was true. Then I started to say, You would have been okay, anyway, but that wasn't true, either. I shrugged, at a loss. Even in the darkness, Pam saw me. "I won't forget, " she said. "So, we're really just going to see the casinos and gamble? Can we go see a show?" I wanted to change the subject. "Of course we'll do all those things. Oh, we do have one tiny errand to perform for Eric. " Eric and I are--I'm not sure what we are. We're lovers, and in an unofficial vampire way, we're married. Not that I had anything to do with that; Eric maneuvered me into it. He had good intentions. I think. Anyway, it's not a straightforward situation, me and Eric. Pam is gung- ho Eric, because she's his right hand. "So what do we have to do? And why do I need to come along?" "A human is involved, " Pam said. "You can let me know if he's sincere or not. " "All right, " I said, not caring one little bit that I sounded reluctant. "As long as I get to see all the casinos and a good show that I pick. " "It's a promise, " Pam said. As we went up Highway 61, we started to see casino billboards flashing by in the night. Pam had been driving since darkness had fallen . . .

That had been at five thirty, since it was February. Though I remembered February as being the coldest month when I was a child, now it was an eerie sixty degrees. Pam had picked me up in Bon Temps, then we'd gone through Vicksburg to turn north on Highway 61. There were a few casinos in Vicksburg and a few more in Greenville, but we kept driving up the western side of Mississippi. It was flat, flat, flat. Even in the dark, I could tell that. "Nowhere to hide, here, " I said brightly. "Even for a vampire, " Pam said. "Unless one found a bayou and crouched down to