The Association

The Association

by Bentley Little


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781587674648
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Publication date: 02/01/2016
Sales rank: 480,562
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.40(d)

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Chapter One

"It's perfect!" Maureen announced.

    Barry agreed, but he was glad the real estate agent wasn't there to hear it. She already had them pegged as a couple of suckers, and if she heard Maureen's unequivocal enthusiasm, she'd know that all she had to do was reel them in. They'd have no room at all to negotiate.

    But the agent—or "Doris," as she'd insisted they call her—had gone back to her car to gather the paperwork on this property (and, Barry suspected, give them time to talk), and the two of them were left alone to discuss matters among themselves.

    He and Maureen walked around the house's upper deck. The view was spectacular. They'd looked at other houses, newer houses, bigger houses, but none that had a location to match this one. It was on the side of a hill overlooking the town, and breathtaking scenery stretched all the way to the mountains on the horizon, taking in miles of forest and canyon in between. Even in this, the hottest part of the day, a slight breeze was blowing, rustling the pine needles in the tree on the deck's west side, ruffling the hair that he had combed so carefully in order to give himself a more respectable appearance.

    "We could expand the deck," Maureen said. "Wrap it around the front of the house, maybe put in one of those misters to cool it off during the day. I see, like, a little patio set—some chairs and a table—where we could have lunches or romantic dinners. And, of course, I'll put a lot of plants up here."

    "The deck'sway down on the priority list," he told her.

    "That's true," Maureen admitted.

    Barry shielded the sides of his face with his hands and peered through the screen door into the house. The interior was hideous. The previous owners had had no taste whatsoever, and every room was carpeted in bright orange, with walls and ceiling covered in the darkest paneling. It was like being in a cave, and the tacky 1970s furniture did little to dispel the air of tired sadness that hung about the rooms.

    No doubt that was why the house had not yet sold, why it had been on the market for so long with no takers, and it was why Barry felt confident that, if they did not tip their hand, they might be able to get the seller to drop the price.

    He looked away. "Tear off the paneling," he told Maureen, "repaint the walls, install new carpet, junk the furniture, no one would even recognize this place."

    "I like the windows," she said. "Whoever built this house planned it smartly."

    That was true. The trilevel house seemed to have been constructed in order to take full advantage of the breathtaking scenery. There were three bedrooms: a huge master bedroom with an adjoining deck directly below them that offered a view only slightly less spectacular than the one they were enjoying now, another smaller bedroom on the same floor, and, directly above that, on the top floor, the third bedroom, which had French doors opening on to a small balcony overlooking the driveway. The living room, through which a person entered the house, was the sole space on the middle floor, and the ceiling here was two-stories high, with extra tall windows facing the empty and heavily wooded lot on the up side of the hill. Twin carpeted stairways led either down to the bottom level or up to an open dining room/kitchen area on the top level.

    "I want to make an offer," Maureen said. "This is the house."

    "Just don't appear too eager. We need some wiggle room here."

    Maureen nodded. "I know."

    "They're asking a hundred and ten thousand."

    "We can probably get them to knock off ten or fifteen."

    From down in the driveway, they heard Doris' car door slam, and Barry motioned for Maureen to be quiet as they waited for the real estate agent to return.

    "Found them!" she announced cheerfully, entering the house and climbing the steps to the upper level.

    Barry opened the sliding screen and walked back into the house, and Maureen followed. The real estate agent spread a packet of papers across the top of the ugly dining room table. "As I told you before, they're asking one ten. There's a new septic system, installed just last year, that incorporates the latest technology, meets all federal standards, and has a service agreement that remains in effect until you pay off the mortgage. You have a quarter of an acre, and of course the ridge behind the neighborhood, as well as all of the land on the west side, out to the highway, is National Forest land. So no one can build. Your views will remain unobstructed. The house itself has a ten-year termite warranty, with free yearly inspection and, if necessary, fumigation. There's also a ten-year warranty for all plumbing and electrical wiring, which, believe me, is a godsend." She looked up. "You want me to go on?"

    "We're interested," Barry told her.

    Doris' face lit up, her already animated features suddenly invested with a new and even greater enthusiasm. She continued running down the attributes of the house and lot, the specifics of all attendant deal sweeteners, before Maureen finally stopped her and said, "I think we're ready to make an offer."

    Barry nodded.

    The agent smiled widely. "Let's go back to the office, then, shall we?"

    They went downstairs and outside, Barry and Maureen walking around the edge of the driveway, looking around at the pine trees and manzanita bushes on the property while Doris locked up the house.

    "Whoever buys this house is getting one heck of a good deal," the agent said as they got into her car, Maureen slipping into the passenger seat in front, Barry sitting in the back.

    "Well, not that good a deal," Barry said. "The house has been on the market for quite a while and no one's wanted it. If it was a real bargain, someone would've snatched it up."

    "The market's soft right now. But that's changing. This thing'll be worth two hundred next year." Doris guided the car down the sloping road, through the trees. She smiled. "Beautiful here, isn't it? Smell that air? Smell the pine? Nothing like it."

    They reached the wrought-iron gate blocking the foot of the street, slowing as they waited for hidden machinery to swing the gate open.

    Maureen looked out the rear windshield at the sandstone sign flanking the gateway, where the name of the development, "Bonita Vista," was spelled out in green copper letters.

    "That's the only thing I don't like," she said, turning back around. "It seems sort of ... snobbish. I don't really like the idea of living in a 'gated-community.'"

    "The homeowners' association only recently put that in," Doris admitted. "And there are quite a few people who don't like it. On the one hand, it offers you privacy and keeps up property values. But the fire chief opposed its installation because it blocks access. Although," she added quickly, "you should have no trouble escaping if there's a forest fire. The gates open outward, and you don't need to punch in a code to leave."

    Barry leaned forward. "There's a homeowners' association?"

    "Yes. I'm afraid you are required to pay homeowners' association dues. That's usually around a hundred or two hundred a year. I know a lot of people don't like associations, but in an area like Bonita Vista, they're a necessity."

    "Why?" Maureen asked.

    "Because it's unincorporated. You're outside the town limits, and since the county maintains only dirt roads, the association is responsible for paving the streets and all improvements like ditches, abutments, what have you. It's the association that put in the street lights, that maintains all ditches and storm drains, that will put in any sidewalks or signs."

    "What if someone doesn't want to join?"

    "It's not an option. If you buy in Bonita Vista, you are required to belong to the association. But there are other benefits too. There's a communal tennis court for members, and they're talking about putting in a clubhouse and swimming pool."

    The road wound between two low hills covered with old-growth ponderosas before hitting the highway. Doris waited for a roofing truck to pass before turning left and heading into town.

    Barry smiled. He liked the idea of having to go into town, of it being a town instead of a city. Hell, he liked the whole damn thing. When they'd first started talking about moving out of southern California, when they'd looked at their options and discussed their preferences, this had been exactly the type of place he'd imagined, and he could hardly believe their good fortune at having discovered such a picture-perfect location.

    Truth to tell, Corban wasn't much of a town. The population was somewhere around three thousand, and while there were a few restaurants and gas stations, a rundown hotel, a couple of shops, and a market, there was no Wal-Mart, no fast-food franchises, no tourist traps, none of the usual amenities that made rural America palatable to city dwellers like themselves.

    But he liked that.

    And he knew Maureen did, too. This wasn't Aspen or Jackson Hole or Park City, one of those co-opted communities that had turned into playgrounds for Hollywood's elite and the ultra-rich. This was a genuine small town in a nontrendy part of Utah, where real people had real jobs, a place where the wave of service industries cresting over the rest of the nation had not yet reached.

    The real estate office was a doublewide trailer across the street from a converted house that served as the Corban library, and Doris swung into the microscopic parking lot, braking to a halt with the skid of fat tires on gravel.

    Barry got out of the car and looked up at the hill where their house was.

    Their house.

    He was already starting to think of it as theirs, though they had not yet even made an offer. He wasn't sure if that was good or bad.

    The three of them walked up the rickety outside steps into the office, where an overweight man and an underweight woman sat at desks in the larger of the trailer's two rooms, unhappily staring into space.

    "Good afternoon all!" Doris announced cheerfully, and falsely happy expressions appeared on the faces of her partners. The man immediately picked up his phone and started dialing, the woman began shuffling papers.

    "Let's go into the conference room." Doris led the way past the desks and into the trailer's other room, a smaller space dominated by what looked like a dining room table.

    The agent closed the door as they sat down. "All right," she said. "As you know, the asking price is one-ten."

    "The price is a little steep," Barry said.

    "Especially for a house that ugly," Maureen added.

    "It needs a lot of work."

    "A makeover."

    Doris laughed. "I understand. How about I offer a hundred?"

    "How about you offer ninety-five?"

    "I have to tell you: there's no guarantee the seller will come down at all, let alone fifteen thousand. But let me make a few calls and see what we can do." She motioned toward a coffeepot and a pile of Styrofoam cups placed on top of a low bookshelf at the opposite end of the room. "Have some coffee if you want. I'll be back."

    They waited until Doris left, closing the door behind her.

    "How high are we willing to go?" Barry asked.

    Maureen met his gaze. "I like that house."

    "It's not a bad price even at full." He stood and started pacing around the room. "But it's a big decision. Should we be rushing into it like this? Maybe we should take a few days, think about it."

    "We have thought about it, And we've been looking for a while now. This is exactly the kind of place we wanted and, as you said, it's a fair price. And if we can get them to lower it even more ..."

    Barry looked out the small window. "You're right." He walked over to pour himself some coffee and grimaced as he took a sip. "How much you think they'll counter with?"

    Maureen shrugged. "Who knows? I'm hoping, after all the wrangling's over, that we'll at least be able to knock four or five off."

    They both sat back down at the table and waited for Doris' return.

    A few minutes later, there was a knock, and Doris pushed the door open, walking in. "I called the seller," she said, "and offered ninety-five."

    "And?" Barry prodded.

    Doris smiled. "You've got yourselves a deal."

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"You must read this book." —Stephen King

"Fast-paced, rock-'em, jolt-'em, shock-'em...terror fiction. Unusually clever." —Dean Koontz

Customer Reviews

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The Association 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
ladybug74 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite of all of Bentley Little's books that I've read so far. A couple moves into a gated neighborhood with a homeowner's association from hell. Nothing is allowed: children, friends of another race, homosexual friends, etc. Breaking the rules could mean death or worse. I could not put this one down. It was great from beginning to end.
harpua on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Here¿s a good one from Little. Starts off innocently enough, then grows into something more sinister. I felt drawn into the story and felt a twinge of anxiety each time I could sense something was about to happen. Not many novels draw me in like that anymore, so it¿s a pleasant surprise when I find a book like this that can lure me in and hold me. I can¿t drive by a gated community without thinking back on this story. Recommend!
sringle1202 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really like Bentley Little's books. I like the way that he takes things from real life that people have problems with (in this case, Homeowner's Associations) and makes them villainous. I have always been opposed to living somewhere with a homeowner's association and this cemented that decision for me. This story is a true chiller and thriller and will make you wonder if you made the right decision by moving into that gated community. I recommend this book.
HvyMetalMG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like his other novels, The Store and The Resort, this book takes a simple ordinary idea like a home owner's association and turns it upside down with some very bizarre incidents. The ending is so far out there, that it is almost comical. Typical Little and a very fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lindsie More than 1 year ago
Bentley Little is one of my favorite horror novelists today. From Laymon, Saul, and Ketchum his rank goes with theirs. 'The Association' is a clever horror story, based on events in which a gated community goes mad with ridiculous restrictions put together but weird board members. Although I did enjoy this novel, it was a bit different from his others that I have read. In his 'newer' novels their are a lot of grotesque scenes with a lot of profanity.. But this one was a bit more clean? Anyhow, if you are a fan of horror and/or Bentley Little I suggest you pick up this novel. Well done again Little.
TheBookResort More than 1 year ago
I know there will be lights left on all night after reading this horrific tale. Why do I know this? Because... I just do. That's all you're gettin' from moi. I have a small confession to make ~ it's a teeny, tiny one. Ready? I have never read a Stephen King novel. Yep, it's true. What can I say ~ I prefer his cheesy TV movies than actually picking up one of his novels. Carrie may be the reason for my aversion to most things Stephen -- I peeked @ the movie as a kid (after hearing cousins/friends/adults freakin' out while watching it). I LOVE Johnny T, but nope ~ I will not watch the movie ~ not even edited for TV!!! I "attempted" to read Stephen King 3 years ago. I rushed out to grab a copy of Cell the day it was released but... zzz ZZZ. I was quite ticked because I spent $$$ on that lemon that was better spent on toilet tissue -- although, I could of used the pages to ____. Y'know. lol. So, no King for me. I thought maybe the horror genre just wasn't for me. Hmmm... I started wondering... Could it be? Could it really be that I wasn't made for much stronger stock than "there is a body in the dining room ~ face down in the gazpacho soup" or "Let me call, Jessica". Hmmm... *Wheels churning*. How can that be? How? I love Dean Koontz. Bamm!!! It hit me... It's not that I don't get the horror genre. I don't get him. His face scares the coconuts outta me. There... it's out. Oh, please, I know others feel & think the same but don't have the bazoomas (thanks, Sophie @ So Many Books, So Little Time ) to 'fess up. LOL. Bentley Little & Dean Koontz know how to freak me the heck out. They have spooky, freaky deaky talent in spades. The Association was my terrifying introduction to Bentley Little. He is one knotted, inventive, macabre & chilling dude. Little is an author that writes from the deepest depths of twisted. Hmmm... Let me put it out there ~ I wouldn't want him over for dinner. Who am I kidding, I wouldn't want him anywhere near me. No offense to Mr. Ghoulish. I'm just satisfied buying his books - definitely no author events for me. I'm too 'fraid. Yes, I am a big 'ole fraidy cat. So, if you love to get your fright on... Bentley Little pens horror @ its frightening best. The Association may start slowly for some, but it builds & the goose bumps do make a cameo apperance. You won't be able to put it down. The Association displays a unique plot & one may wonder if they really want to live within a gated community. Hey! I'm just sayin'... When it comes to making every day existence seem so frightening, Bentley Little knocks it out of the box.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ColeJustify More than 1 year ago
This is the second book ive ever read of bentley little. Ive read the town and that was ok but I agree with the fact this book is much more readable and a great read at that. I'm just disappointed with the way he took the story towards the end because I feel he couldve given it a more realistic feel to it and still kept it just as scary if not scarier. The last half of the book seemed to take a very offbeat trail as opposed to the first half of the book. But again , like "the town" , for me personally , he treats his characters with being too naive alot of the times or maybe just plain dumb. I'm more used to the depth and personality of dean koontz's characters as opposed to little's but all in all I do enjoy the original ideas bentley comes up with. Pretty original and realistic enough to scare the wits out of the rest of the gated communities across country....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
i just loved this book read it in 2 days very scary...if you love a good scary book read this one...i fell in love w/bentleys writing..highly recommended
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a young apartment manager and this book reminds me of the previous apartment manager to the EXTREME! That' all I have to say about that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a waste of time and money. There is nothing scary about this story or plot. The story carries on and on with no thrills or chills.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i am in a homeowner association also, the neighborhood in which i live requires it. it does have advantages, but there are also things i dont like about it.this book really magnifies the 'less desirable aspects' of being in a home owner association, and then maximizes the problems to catastophic levels. i was spellbound by the chain of events. awesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge Stephen King fan but i decided to try out other books in the Horror genre. Bentley Little's 'The Association' was one of the best books I have ever read. I agree the ending could have been better but there wasn't much else wrong with it. There were parts of it I found quite amusing like being fined for going outside wearing a bath robe and the voyeurism. I think I'd be made into Stumpy cause I'd refuse to pay my fines. This is a type of read that makes one want to look for other titles from this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I originally bought this book because I live in a condo complex and yes, they can have ridiculous rules. I never heard of Bentley Little and decided, "what the heck". I could not put the book down. I recommended it to my brother and he said he "was up until 2-3 am reading this thing". He couldn't put it down and he is a HUGE Stephen King fan! We both agree, that it would make an awesome movie. I admit the ending was a little odd, but all in all, I really enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more of his books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Based on the reviews, I was hoping to enjoy a suspenseful, scary book. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more like a bad Twilight Zone episode. The characters weren't well developed, the "spooky" descriptions were ludicrous (a rose imbedded in a hunk of cheddar? - what's up with that?), and the "thrilling" ending was so lame I was kicking myself for having wasted my time reading this tripe. And what is with Stephen King giving rave reviews to every trashy horror novel published? I guess he feels generous because he knows these other authors can't hold a candle to him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read several of Mr. Little's books and this one again kept my attention until the very end. The ending was a little anti-climatic, however, and to me, it left a few loose ends that never get tied together..but I can't say more than that, less I give things away. All in all, however, another good one for Bentley Little!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought The Association was a great look at how idiotic and sometimes ridiculous Homeowners Associations can be. Of course, Little took it to the extreme, making the association into pure evil non-humans and the plot I thought was great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amazing page turner. This is my second book by Bently Little, and I literally couldn't put it dow. It's nice to have a new perspctive in the horror genre. He makes his characters believable, lovable, as well as incredibly evil. Can't wait to pick up a new one by the author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've just recently discovered author Bentley Little - The Association being my third book by him - and I must admit, I've really gotten into his style of writing and his creepy way of thinking. It's a nice break from King and Koontz, giving you a different perspective on the horror element. This book really was a page turner. With each chapter, Little cranked up the tension, compelling me to learn what happened next. Poor Barry and Maureen Welch, they have no clue as to what nightmares are waiting for them in the gated community at Bonita Vista. There were some very horrific scenes - such as the one with Stumpy. Imagine having your arms and legs cutoff and you're left in the woods to flop around. The Association really nails the occupants for some very minor offenses. When Barry was informed of not being able to write in his own home, even I was boiling with anger. There are many scenes which will have you laughing and then angered and then horrorstruck. Bentley really pulled out all of the stops in this one and I salute him. My only hesitation regards the books ending when we finally get to see the bad guy for who he really is. I had an inkling of an idea but wasn't even close. Jasper was a total mystery. So, I took the liberty of writing the author a letter and am awaiting a response. Other than that, it was a great horror novel. Two claws up for Little.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I read by this author. I think it was great. It kept me going. I didn't want to put it down. It makes me want to read more of his book someday.