Absolution (The Titans of Founder's Ridge)
Copyright © 2020 by Nichole Greene
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the brief quotations in a book review. Resemblance to actual persons, things, locations, or events is coincidental.
Editorial Services: The Romantic Editorial Services
Cover Design: Mayhem Cover Creations
ABSOLUTION is a novella with dark themes, including human trafficking and abuse.
It should be read following the first two books of the Titans of Founder’s Ridge series.
Also by Nichole Greene
I asked a friend of mine to describe love. His answer blew my mind and inspired me in ways that I don’t think he could even comprehend. I’ll be forever grateful.
Love is friendship on fire.
This book is for those I burn for.
“I have to talk to you and Dad,” my sister, Claire, says as soon as I answer her call. She’s been released from the hospital following the brutal attack on her, my fiancé, and her best friend.
I stand up from the chair I’ve been glued to watching Lilith recover from her stab wound and surgery. She’s sleeping peacefully right now, her blonde hair plaited and swiped over her shoulder. I shoot a meaningful glance at my best friend, Griff, so he knows to keep an eye on her.
“Are you okay? Do you need a doctor sent to the penthouse?” I ask in rapid-fire succession.
“I’m fine,” she sighs in annoyance. “It’s about what I overheard in the van and on the boat.”
I don’t want to leave Lily, but I also need to hear this. As of now, all I know about who took them is that there were five guys and they spoke Russian. I poke my head back in the room and nod for Griff to come over.
“Okay, let me talk to Griff and make sure he can stay with Lilith. I’ll shoot you a text when I’m on my way.”
“We’ll be here,” she says as she hangs up.
I turn to face Griff; he looks almost as bad as I do. His usually styled hair is sticking up randomly, and red stubble covers his chin and neck.
“Can you stay here while I go home to talk to Claire and Dad? She wants to tell us what she overheard the guys who had them say.”
“Yeah, of course I’ll stay here with Lilith.” He looks over my shoulder and nods, “Lev’s here, too.”
I turn and see my other lifelong best friend walking down the hall toward us. His eyes narrow when mine meet his. He blames me for the girls being taken and hurt. I don’t disagree with him. He walks past me without a word but shoulder checks me before walking into Lilith’s room.
“He’ll move past this.” Griff says as I battle my natural urge to fight. “You guys are going to have to talk it out though.”
“Talk with our fists, more likely.”
“Whatever it takes,” Griff shrugs. “We’ll be with her if she wakes up, but she’s still on those heavy painkillers. She’ll probably be out until you get back.”
“Yeah,” my jaw ticks as I push off the wall. “I’ll be back soon.”
“Take a shower while you’re home,” he says to my back, “you look like shit.”
I throw my middle finger over my shoulder before taking the stairs.
I grab a taxi in front of the hospital, so I don’t have to wait for a driver, and text Claire to let her know I’m on my way. If I wasn’t worried about someone overhearing one of my family’s dirty secrets, I would have had them come to me so I wouldn’t have to leave Lily’s side.
When my dad immigrated to the United States, he did so to leave behind the mafia ties in Russia that his father and brother were so deeply entangled in. From oil, drugs, and weapons trafficking, he just wanted to build a legitimate business here. We’ve managed to do that, switching our focus from fossil fuels to renewable energy and engineering. We’re about to patent a new type of wind turbine that reduces noise and will hopefully make more people open to putting them on their land.
I toss some money at the driver when he pulls up in front of the headquarters of our company, Volkov Industries. Dad, Claire, and I each have penthouses here. There’s a few more employee residences for certain executives and those who travel from other offices. Dad’s penthouse takes the entire upper two floors, while Claire’s penthouse and mine split the level below his. I take the back elevator that goes straight to his penthouse and punch in the access code.
The elevator opens to Dad’s foyer. Our family’s crest is inlaid in the marble the same way it is at our house in Founder’s Ridge. I walk down the hall to the open kitchen and living room. Claire and Dad are on opposite sides of the couch. Claire is covered by a fuzzy blanket with her legs curled under her. Out of the three of our girls attacked, she came through with the least amount of injuries. She was only in the hospital one night, for hypothermia and exhaustion. She also has some stitches on her wrist from the zip ties she was bound in. Her long dark hair is loose and down instead of its usual bun.
“How are you feeling?” I ask as I sit in the chair across from her.
“I’m fine,” she answers with a sassy roll of her eyes. “How are Lilith and Ivy? They’re the two to worry about.”
“They’re both going to be fine. I think Lilith will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow.”
“Good,” Dad says to me before turning his attention to Claire. “We’re both here. What do you remember?”
She pulls the blanket around her tighter and looks