Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
“Go away, Matthias. I have a patient to see to.” She focused on checking Inej’s body temperature.
“Will she live?”
“Do you care?”
“Of course I care. She’s a human being.”
She heard the unspoken end to that sentence. She’s a human being—unlike you. The Fjerdans didn’t believe the Grisha were human. They weren’t even on par with animals, but something low and demonic, a blight on the world, an abomination.
She lifted a shoulder. “I don’t know, really. I did my best, but my gifts lie elsewhere.”
“Kaz asked you if the White Rose would send a delegation to Hringkälla.”
“You know the White Rose?”
“West Stave is a favorite subject of conversation in Hellgate.”
Nina paused. Then, without saying a word, she pushed up the sleeve of her shirt. Two roses intertwined on the inside of her forearm. She could have explained what she’d done there, that she’d never made her living on her back, but it was none of his business what she did or didn’t do. Let him believe what he liked.
“You chose to work there?”
“Chose is a bit of a stretch, but yes.”
“Why? Why would you remain in Kerch?”
She rubbed her eyes. “I couldn’t leave you in Hellgate.”
“You put me in Hellgate.”
“It was a mistake, Matthias.”
Rage ignited in his eyes, the calm veneer dropping away. “A mistake? I saved your life, and you accused me of being a slaver.”
“Yes,” Nina said. “And I’ve spent most of this last year trying to find a way to set things right.”
“Has a true word ever left your lips?”
She sagged back wearily in her chair. “I’ve never lied to you. I never will.”
“The first words you said to me were a lie. Spoken in Kaelish, as I recall.”
“Spoken right before you captured me and stuffed me in a cage. Was that the time for speaking truths?”
“I shouldn’t blame you. You can’t help yourself. It’s your nature to dissemble.” He peered at her neck. “Your bruises are gone.”
“I removed them. Does that bother you?”
Matthias said nothing, but she saw a glimmer of shame move over his face. Matthias had always fought his own decency. To become a drüskelle, he’d had to kill the good things inside him. But the boy he should have been was always there, and she’d begun to see the truth of him in the days they’d spent together after the shipwreck. She wanted to believe that boy was still there, locked away, despite her betrayal and whatever he’d endured at Hellgate.
Looking at him now, she couldn’t be sure. Maybe this was the truth of him, and the image she’d held on to this last year had been an illusion.
“I need to see to Inej,” she said, eager to have him gone.
He didn’t leave. Instead he said, “Did you think of me at all, Nina? Did I trouble your sleep?”
She shrugged. “A Corporalnik can sleep whenever she likes.” Though she couldn’t control her dreams.