The Association

Traverse City, Michigan: population 14,894
Correction: population 14,890

Four girls are dead. In this small town, murder is not a familiar term; however, in the last three years it has been. Four girls are dead. All four had three things in common. One, the girls went to the same high school. Two, they were in the same grade. Three, the four all dated Liam Payne before their deaths. The Payne's along with two other families, the Tank's and the Yule's, have "run" Traverse City for generations now. What they say goes. No, they are not the mob. These families make up something worse than the mob. The Payne's, Tank's, and Yule's make up The Association. Liam is supposed to continue the family tradition, but first he has to find the right girl to lead with. What happens to new girl, Kate Holler (population 14,891), when Liam's got his eyes set on her? Is she the one or will she face the same road that the four other girls did?

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2. Rumors and Gossip

"Lucy we have eaten enough pizza,"  I groan rubbing my stomach that is about to burst at the seams.  "Now stop stalling and tell me who the hell Yank, Tool, and Wayne are?"

"You mean Tank, Yule, and Payne,"  she laughs as she stares at the last two pieces of the pie.

"Whatever, you know what I mean."

"You sure you don't want these?"

"Come on,"  I whine.  "It's been driving me crazy all night not knowing who you and Vin were talking about."

"Well knowledge isn't always a good thing.  Plus even if I don't tell you tonight by the end of the school day tomorrow you will definitely know who those pigs are,"  Lucy spits in disgust.

"But isn't it better to find out in advance so I am prepared and who better to learn from than you Luc?"  I butter her up.

She wriggles in her seat, fumbling her fingers with the strings of her navy sweatshirt.  Her green eyes are focused on the hundreds of tiny crumbs on her plate and the grease that is oozing from her third slice that her stomach refused to consume.  Lucy taps her foot which is always her give away that she is nervous.  But for what reason does she have to be nervous for?  Telling me the truth?  How bad can it be?  These people are probably just the school bullies or playboys.

"Fine,"  she mutters, grabbing our plates furiously and rushing towards the sink.

"So you will tell me?"

Nervously Lucy pulls her silky blonde hair up into a high pony tail and turns on the facet; running the water over the dirty dishes.  She hangs her head low as she nods her head yes confirming my question.  With a frustrated sigh she turns off the facet and turns to face me.

"This is going to take a while,"  Lucy enlightens.

"I have time,"  I say eagerly.

"Okay well you know that Traverse City has always been a small town right?"

I nod.  It is a small town, but it is bigger than my hometown Onsted.

"Well the past couple of years it's been getting smaller," she mentions.

"What does that have anything to do with Tank, Yule, and Payne?"

"You see Tank, Yule, and Payne aren't their first names; they're their last names."

"I assumed that."

"Alright so there is Will Tank who has a fourteen year old brother named Jacob.  Then there is Alex Yule who has a twin sister named Beth who is also popular, but a lot nicer and has more class than her brother.  And lastly there is Liam Payne who has a twenty-two year old sister named Clara and a seven year old sister named Scarlet.  Will, Alex, and Liam are our age and go to the same school as us.  They are all cousins too and their family has been in Traverse City for generations,"  Lucy explains.

"Fine but that still doesn't explain the decrease in population or why you hate them so much,"  I point out.

"Their great-grandparents, Jay and Anne Payne, moved here sometime in the 1920s and started selling alcohol illegally."

"But the 1920s was in the middle of the prohibition.  How did they not get caught?  How didn't they get arrested?"

"They were very skilled business people and speakers.  As a couple they made friends very quickly and became close to people high in society.  Anne became close friends with the wife of the mayor at the time.  Soon the Paynes associated with the mayor too and was invited to very exclusive parties.  At these parties other members of government were invited as well so the couple connected with them too.  At one of these parties Jay bumped into the chief of police and they too became close friends.  By the time the couple's three children were born they knew the ins and outs of Traverse City."

"That is unbelievable!  It sounds like a plot to an Oscar winning film,"  I exclaim in shock.

"I know, but that's not all.  Because of their illegal business the money started rolling in; even the mayor and his family were buying liquor from them!  Once the Prohibition ended Jay and Anne's business came out of hiding which only made the family richer because now people could buy alcohol whenever the hell they wanted to.  By the time their oldest son, Liam's grandfather, was five years old they weren't rolling in money; they were bathing in it!  Everyone in town knew them; they were the celebrities of Traverse City.  Everyone loved them; people thought they were the perfect family.  Everyone wanted to be like the Payne family.  They were kind, popular, rich, and a tightknit family with three children, a boy and two girls.  Some folks believed they were the ideal family as if God just sent them down from heaven," she tells.

"Well they do sound like angels in a strange way."

"Oh they are no angels.  Don't judge a book by it's cover.  On the Payne's cover they were great people, but when you read the pages in their book they are not good people.  Then once you read in between the lines your whole view of them totally changes."

"So I'm guessing you read between the lines,"  I joke.

"Cover to cover.  Remember Jay and Anne knew the ins and outs of town.  Soon they were pulling the strings.  The words and orders coming out of the mayor's mouth weren't his, they were the Payne's.  The demands coming from the chief of police weren't his either, they were also the Payne's.  Once Liam's grandfather was fourteen his father started to teach him the 'family business'.  Will and Alex's grandmothers were soon taught as well.  Once Jay and Anne's children turned twenty-one they were all married off."

"So they had arranged marriages?"

"Yep; Will's grandmother married the chief's son Jacob Tank and Alex's grandmother married the mayor's son Mark Yule.  This only gave them more of an advantage and more insight of the ways of the town.  The three couples all had sons the same year; Liam's, Will's, and Alex's fathers.  Since birth they were 'trained' so by the time they were eighteen they were in control.  All three also had arranged marriages at twenty-one and had their children.  It is rumored that having at least one son in the family is necessary so he can lead with his cousins; but only the oldest son can lead.  So Liam, Will, and Alex's destiny since they were born is to lead and take control together,"  Lucy says.

"So will Liam, Will, and Alex also have arranged marriages?"

"Arranged marriages are completely outdated so no.  However it is very important that the whole entire family likes the chosen girl.  Three years ago when the boys were in the 8th grade our population was at our highest, 14,894 people!  That was also the year that the three boys were permitted to start dating.  Girls started throwing themselves at them because who wouldn't want to date the handsome, dashing, rich, and popular Liam, Will, and Alex?  Will and Alex started to become playboys having dates every night.  Liam on the other hand was taking it a bit slow.  He met this one girl and started dating her.  They soon formed a relationship and became a couple.  She met Liam's family about a week into their relationship and bam two days later she breaks up with him!  He was devastated and a week later she was dead.  Liam started dating around more but not like Will and Alex though.  In freshman year in high school he met another girl and she too soon became his girlfriend.  She met the family but the next day Liam broke up with her.  The day after that she was dead.  In sophomore year things changed with Liam; he started to pick up his cousins habits.  I would see him in the hallways making out with this one girl when another girl was sucking on his neck; it was repulsive!  Then he started to pay more attention to one of his girls than the other ten of them and soon she became his girlfriend.  She also met the family but that night she was dead.  Same exact thing happened to Liam's last girlfriend he had last June.  Of course people think these are all just coincidences, but how can they be?  As of today the three pigs don't have girlfriends and just have girls.  They are popular, rich brats that think they control the school; but in a way they do."

"That is insane!  It sounds like the freakin' mob!"  I shout in a whisper afraid that someone might hear me.

"No it's worse than the mob.  They call it The Association and the Payne, Tank, and Yule families run it.  In just a matter of years Liam, Will, and Alex will get married and lead. My question is how many innocent girls have to die before they find the one?"  Lucy questions.

"Wow, I don't know.  Do these people not have hearts?"  I ask abhorrence over the fact that these people killed four girls and got away with it.

"They are heartless people with no souls who only care about themselves."

"Is anyone else in The Association?"

"Of course!  You see the Tanks, Yules, and Paynes might control everything but they can't do everything by themselves so they summon people.  Usually they give you an offer that you can't refuse in return for you doing their dirty work.  Although they respect the person enough that they don't pressure you into becoming a part of The Association since it is a very dangerous position to be in; but once you are in you are in for life,"  she enlightens.

"That is absolutely despicable!"  I shout.

"Tell me about it.  Why do you think I don't talk to my mom anymore?"  Lucy mutters.

"Wait your mom is a part of The Association?"

"That is what really pushed my parents to get a divorce.  My dad was offered a lot of money if he sold his hardware store to the Yules."

"Why did they want Uncle Derek's hardware story?"

"They said it was valuable property whatever that means.  Anyway Dad knew that this whole deal was a bit shady and it could get our family into trouble one day so he refused the offer.  However my mom was desperate to get rich and she knew that more offers had to come later on once she was in The Association.  Dad and Mom fought for days and finally my dad said if you want to become a part of that gang fine, but leave me and my kids out of it.  So she left and a couple of days later my dad got divorce papers in the mail,"  Lucy states.

"I can't believe it,"  I say in disbelief.  I knew my aunt was selfish, but I didn't think she would do this.

"Telling stories again Lucy?"  Uncle Derek says as he waltzes his way into the kitchen. 

"Sorry Dad, I was just filling Kate in,"  Lucy apologizes.

"It's okay darling, but its late.  You two should get to bed.  Tomorrow is a big day."

"Alright, come on roomie lets get to bed."  Lucy grabs me from my chair and pulls me to our room.

"I love you girls!"  Uncle Derek calls after us. 

"Love you, night!"  We both say in unison.                         

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