Some Kings live in glass castles and rule large corporations instead of
kingdoms. They have power and money but they crave more. Some Kings
live in the woods in log cabins where no one bothers them and that is
the way they like it.
Most twins have a link to each other. One knows what the other is
thinking or feeling at any given moment. If one is hurt, the other
feels the pain. If one is on the other’s mind, they feel that
Creed King and his identical twin brother Legend are also like this but
they also live separate lives and have separate ideals and moral codes
that they live by. One chose a righteous path when he graduated from
high school. He joined the military and became a Marine. He wanted to
separate himself from the King family business as much as possible, not
the same path that his twin brother chose.
Legend King went to the University of North Carolina and graduated with
a degree in International Finance. He got his MBA immediately following
his bachelor’s degree. A year later, he took over the family business
from his father, Jericho who wanted only to care for Dannie, the
twins’ mother who was dying from cancer.
He was twenty-five and sitting as the head of the second largest crime
family in North Carolina after Rab Guryev of the Guryev Bratva, the
Russian mob. Legend wanted to be number one.
Legend King wanted no one to stand in his way when he took over King
Enterprises. He had his own ideas about how things should be done and
he had proven that he could be successful in the five years since
Jericho had stepped down. Their distillery was a legitimate business
and was more successful under his leadership than it had ever been under
Jericho but his father was more prosperous as the crime leader.
Like any organized crime family, he had his finger in both legal and
illegal activities that had earned his family their money. Their
whiskey distribution was a billion-dollar empire since he had taken
over. Under his guidance King Bourbon and Whiskies was distributing in
countries besides the U.S.
His office in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, overlooked the
mountains above the city. The ten-story building in the heart of
Asheville gave Legend a gorgeous view of the city through thick glass
that was impenetrable. It had to be because many men wanted the life of
the head of the King family empire.
Their family rivaled those of the largest crime families in Asheville
and Legend thrived on it. He wanted their family to dominate Asheville.
Like Jericho, he wanted the Russians out of North Carolina. What Irish
didn’t want that? More than anything, Legend King wanted to be on top
something Jericho hadn’t accomplished during his reign.
He was ruthless, a trait his father also possessed as did Arley and
Anson King. Will before them. Creed seemed to be the only King lacking
the stomach to get in the family business.
Nikolai Guryev had been pursuing many legitimate businesses himself
increasing the wealth and the power of the Guryev family while his
cousin, Rab ran the crime family now. Legend King was formulating a
plan to topple the Guryev’s as the most powerful family in North
Carolina. He had steadily moving towards that goal for two years.
While Legend craved power, Creed wanted nothing but the solitude of his
mountain cabin high above Asheville. Discharged from the military after
an injury that left him blind in one eye with a leg that often gave him
Creed hid and lived in the mountains as many of his ancestors had before
him. He loved the mountains and had as a small child while Legend was
more interested in workings of the businesses.
The isolated cabin had belonged to his grandfather built in 1920 as a
place to escape when his great-great grandfather, Will and his wife,
Sadie were arguing which according to their son was frequently. It was
the only thing that kept them from killing each other, according to
Anson King who at one hundred years old was the oldest member of the
King, crime family alive today.
William or Will King as he was known was twenty-one when he built this
cabin with his own hands, on King land where Creed King hunted every day
since he was a child. When he was younger it was most often with his
dad or grandfather, one of his uncles or cousins but now it was always
alone. None of the Kings came to the mountains but him.
Legend had never liked getting his hands dirty. That made him perfect
to take over as head of the family when their father wanted to step
down. Legend gave the orders and someone else carried out his dirty
work, Creed assumed. He didn’t really know and he didn’t really
Both brothers were responsible for men dying just on different
continents and in different capacities in the name of their jobs. One
struggled with it, one did not.
Their family history was passed down from generation to generation to
ensure it was never forgotten. Will had married, Sadie at the tender
age of eighteen when she became pregnant with their first children. His
great-grandfather, Anson and his twin sister, Adeline were born six
months later. They had seven children before Sadie and Will were done.
All their names beginning with the letter A for some odd reason that
Creed nor Legend were ever told. Neither of them cared to ask either.
Their father, Jericho remembered Will well. Will’s temper most of all
but he had heard the stories of the passionate nature of Will and Sadie.
It was what kept them together and sent them apart for days. They
couldn’t live with each other but they couldn’t live without each
Sadie was Cherokee, the daughter of the local tribe’s chief, Black
Hawk and his wife, Little Foot. She wasn’t supposed to marry at age
fourteen, the son of an Irishman off the boats from Dublin in 1907. She
was supposed to marry one of her own.
Will King had only been in America for ten years so the thick, Irish
brogue of his native Ireland had intrigued the young, Indian girl when
he met her in Cherokee passing through to his town of Hell’s Korner
just outside of Asheville.
Sadie had fallen in love with it and him and he fell in love with her
tawny skin and nearly black hair. Her beautiful golden eyes, the story
went. They produced beautiful children with her coloring and his pale,
blue eyes that had carried down through the generations.
Sadie died at the age of fifty-three of sepsis from a boil that had
grown to the size of a lemon, the poison seeped into her blood. No one
even knew she had it one her until she was dead.
Everyone kept telling Will he was young at only fifty-seven that he
should find another wife. His grandchildren and his youngest daughter,
Aurora who was only twenty-three when his wife died kept him company.
She reminded him of Sadie but with a sweeter disposition.
The townsfolk considered Will and Aurora’s relationship strange. She
never married, preferring to stay with her father and care for him.
At age thirty-five, Aurora gave birth to a child who became fodder for
the town gossips. They liked to guess who the father of that baby was
but small towns are like that and the Kings learned to ignore their
People were mean. They liked to spread rumors, no matter how hurtful it
was to Aurora and her son, Jeremiah. Will outlived his daughter dying
at age one hundred. His grandson Jeremiah continued to care for him
after Aurora passed away.
The family tree didn’t fork with many branches but who’s did in this
area? Creed’s great grandfather, Anson married Laurel Lightfoot, the
daughter of Sadie’s sister, Ama and her husband, Red. They were first
Creed didn’t worry about the fact that his grandfather, the man he
knew and loved was married to his first cousin, Laurel. What was the
sense in it? Many family trees didn’t have forks in them in these
parts of North Carolina. Probably like that in many parts of the
country considering the time. Only Legend worried about appearances.
His brother wore expensive, tailored suits and paid a fortune for his
haircuts. He shoes cost more than Creed’s entire wardrobe. He
didn’t know what a barber chair was anymore. He shaved his own head
when his dark locks were too long then let them grow again until he
couldn’t stand it anymore then he would shave them again.
His clothes were simple and worn. He didn’t care about labels even
though he could afford them. Creed had his own money. Old money, they
called it in Asheville. Money made during the prohibition era by Will
King through illegal bootlegging activities.
In the 1920’s, their family had earned millions which continued when
booze became legal again. Gangsters of the prohibition era, they called
the Kings. The illicit liquor trade was the most profitable business of
Will King was the most feared man in the South. His name was well-known
in many states and he had senators and governors in his pocket. To see
him, you would not have suspected that he was a wealthy man.
In pictures that Creed had seen of him, his hair was as long and white
as his beard. He usually had on overalls with plaid shirts in winter
and plain white t-shirts in summer. He wore boots all year round
because tromping through the mountains of North Carolina he never knew
when he might come across a diamondback or a copperhead. He wasn’t
interested in dying young.
Will’s stills were deep in the woods that he used to make moonshine
high in the mountains above Asheville. He was smart. He knew how to
evade the police and run his alcohol across state lines without getting
Few law enforcement wanted to traipse high into the mountains where they
might encounter a bear, a cougar or a wild boar to catch Will King at
his illegal moonshine activities. He just wasn’t worth it.
It only took a few boar attacks or a wild bear to chase or kill a
federal agent looking for Will’s stills before they gave up and went
after the easier targets, lower in the mountains.
Will was a mean son-of-a-bitch who passed his wealth and his knowledge
to his son Anson. Anson took over the family business as was expected
of him when Will was seventy and ready for some peace and quiet.
He lived in the cabin part of the time and in the house on the outskirts
of Ashville in Hell’s Korner a small town, where the Kings eventually
created the gated compound where they now lived.
Anson married Laurel and had four sons. Most worked in the family
business in some compacity or another. Legend and Creed had heard the
stories. They both knew that Grant, the oldest was killed in a drive-by
shooting by a rival gang.
No one knew if it was the Russian or Italian mafia that went after
Grant. They hoped to bring down the Kings who at that time were the
most powerful family in the area. Arley, the twins grandfather took
over the family as was expected of the second son.
The women of the King family held true to form. Laurel met with an
untimely demise. Natural causes were listed on her death certificate.
She was only sixty-eight years old.
Creed knew the town considered them cursed for their unnatural ways.
Will’s wife Sadie was only fourteen when she became pregnant with the
twins. Then Will and Aurora’s unusually close relationship. Anson
and Laurel being first cousins. No one dared question the King’s to
their faces, fearing their demise.
If Creed had listened to the gossip he might have given a shit but he
never paid them no mind. Anson never remarried after Laurel’s death
and lived with his father Will, Aurora and Jeremiah at the compound.
Then there was his grandfather Arley King who married an outsider. That
was as big a sin as marrying ones’ first cousin. Celia Hart King, had
captured Arley’s heart when he met her at a diner in Asheville. She
gave him six sons, one of which was the twin’s father Jericho. She
also died at the young, age of sixty-four of a heart attack.
The town gossips, the old biddies whose ancestry could be traced back to
pre-civil war times whispered that it was the curse. No woman could
outlive a King man.
Sean King the oldest of Arley and Celia’s sons should have been head
of the family when Arley decided to step down. Fate seemed to have
plans for Legend and Creed King.
Sean was shot dead on the steps of Saint Mary’s church after Sunday
services with his wife by his side. They were expecting their first
baby. She was lucky she wasn’t killed as well by the spray of
bullets. She gave birth a few months later with Dannie, their mother by
her side for support.
When Arley stepped down, Jericho King knew he would take his father’s
place sealing the fate of Legend or Creed. They were royalty in
Asheville. Doors were opened for them because of who they were. The
heir and the spare to the King, empire.
You weren’t given a choice of whether you would become the head of the
family. You were raised with the knowledge that one day it was possible
you would become part of the King organized crime family.
As it turned out, Legend was more than happy to become head of the King
crime family. Creed didn’t give a damn. He deferred to his younger
brother by minutes and joined the Marines as soon as he turned eighteen.
As the other King women died before their time, their own mother was no
exception. Dannie King died at age forty of breast cancer. His father
shouted at anyone who brought up the King Curse. “No God damned curse
gave Dannie breast cancer.”
As soon as Legend graduated college and worked for Jericho for a year,
he was appointed head of the family as the youngest mafia crime boss in
the history of the King family. He was only twenty-five then.
The King men were hard on their women or so it seemed to the outsiders
of Hell’s Korner, North Carolina where the mountains reached the sky
at the top of the tallest peak before the Smokies’ familiar haze
covered their glorious beauty.
They were a small community outside of Asheville where the Kings
conducted their business. The legal distillery the bulk of their
monies. The illegal activities, money laundering, gambling, weapons
were a pittance but necessary evil to stay in the game.
Creed loved the mountains. The solitude he chose for himself. He too
had lost the love of his life. Hell, he hadn’t even made it the
alter. They were eighteen years old, wanting nothing more than loving
each other and growing old together.
He was young then and naïve. That was when Creed King believed that
happily ever after really existed and he could be different than the
Kings who fought the other crime families of Asheville. Fighting for
what, he wondered? He never had understood the power struggle over the
city of Asheville.
Now, he lived on a hillside surrounded by woods. To say his cabin was
isolated was not even an exaggeration but he liked it that way. Why he
lived like this was no one else’s business but his own.
The sun rose in the sky casting light between the limbs that were no
longer covered by leaves. Shadows played across the ground and around
the objects on the terrain at his feet.
He was tracking a deer and had been for weeks. It would provide food
for him during the long winter months that were coming faster than he
To the side of his single-story cabin, he had grown a small vegetable
garden that was now harvested and canned.
After Lily’s death in a car crash he left for boot camp like he had
planned. Nothing was holding him in Hell’s Korner after her death.
He wanted away from everything that reminded him he was a King.
Out in the woods, alone and tracking the deer he felt more alive than
anywhere. His military training provided him with the skills that he
needed to be invisible yet he hadn’t been able to get the deer after
weeks of hunting. Something always seemed to scare it away; a snap of a
twig by another animal most often.
His jaw was covered in dark, thick whiskers because he hadn’t shaved
in weeks. It didn’t matter to anyone if he shaved or bathed. The
deer sure as hell didn’t care if he stank although he had showered
this morning. No one else saw him up here. No one knew about this
cabin but his grandfather, Anson who owned it now.
When he passed away, it’s ownership would transfer to him and his
brother Legend. His father and grandfather didn’t care. They were
more interested in the business that Legend ran than the land. The
dollars that were filling their bank accounts were more important to
Slipping behind the tree to his right, his icy-blue gaze piercing and
intent. The buck, a twelve-pointer stood in the distance. Its
magnificence almost making Creed second guess himself about pulling that
trigger. He needed the meat or he would be making a trip down the
mountain to buy food, something he didn’t want to do.
His breathe was obvious in puffs of freezing air in front of his face.
His cheeks felt raw from the cold that blistered his skin. It was damn
frigid for late November. The temperature in the single digits when the
cold spell came in yesterday. He didn’t let it bother him. He shut
it out like he did everything else.
Creed lifted the rifle to his shoulder. Slowly, he moved around the
tree. He had the deer caught in the crosshairs. His finger itched on
the trigger. He was less than one hundred yards; the closest he had
ever been to him.
An easy shot for Creed but he took his time. He didn’t want to miss
the kill shot and have the buck run into the woods wounded. No one
wanted to see any wild animal run off into the woods and die, a
senseless kill. Creed killed for food, not for pleasure.
A chilling scream pierced the air. He whirled around with the rifle
still resting on his shoulder, his finger twitching on the trigger of
the gun. Adrenaline coursed through him. His heart slammed against his
ribcage while he looked through the trees with his good eye searching
for the source of that sound.
He calmed his breathing so that he could hear the slightest movement.
The only noise was the terrified buck as it crashed through the woods.
Creed lowered his weapon to his side. He strained to hear anything as
his booted feet moved silently, in the direction where he had heard that
scream come from.
No one came up here. Hell, not even his grandfather anymore who loved
this mountain and these woods. Anson wasn’t able, confined to a
wheelchair now and Arley and Jericho weren’t as thrilled with hunting
as they once were.
Although the boots were heavy on his feet, they made no noise as he
moved from tree to tree. His eyes focused on his surroundings. At
least, his one good eye was. The other was covered by a filmy haze
injured and useless.
Various animals poked their heads out of their hiding spots, Creed
didn’t miss them. He left not a trace of himself as he moved about
searching for the woman who had screamed.
The frantic beat of his heart, rang hard in his ears with every thump
against the wall of his chest. His hands were covered in gloves with
the just the tips of his fingers exposed to the elements. His body
covered in camouflage concealed him in what was left of the brush and
bushes that had not died as fall became winter soon.
He glanced down at his feet making sure of the path where he walked.
Creed didn’t want to give away his location by tripping or snapping a
twig. Then he scanned the area and tucked the rifle to his side,
pointing it down at the frozen ground.
He saw her coming. Terrified of something or someone chasing her. She
looked ready to collapse. Her face was dirty and she wasn’t wearing
enough for this kind of weather.
Her t-shirt, torn at the shoulder exposed creamy skin that was marred by
bruises. Her shorts were dirty and her knees were scraped and bloody
from falling most likely.
He grabbed her when she ran by his hiding place then he covered her
mouth to prevent the scream that would have inevitably come sooner or
“You’re all right,” he reassured her. “My name is Creed.”
She still fought against him. “Stop fighting me. Whatever or whoever
is chasing you will find us,” he declared.
She immediately stilled in Creed’s embrace. She tucked herself into
him and he realized that she was more afraid of what was out there than
of him now. “I won’t hurt you,” he promised her.
She nodded her head rapidly letting him know she understood. He
uncovered her mouth and she tilted her head up gazing at him, taking him
Her eyes were blue like his, nearly colorless. Her hair appeared to be
blonde but was so dirty he couldn’t be positive. She was terrified.
He could see it in her gaze that was focused on his face. “Come on,”
Creed told her. “I’ll take you to my cabin. You can clean up and
Excerpted from "BloodWar (Smoky Mountain Series Book 5)" by Lee Wardlow. Copyright © 2017 by Lee Wardlow. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.