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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Being around Matthias made it easy to forget what he really was, what he really thought of her. She’d tailored him again just this morning, enduring his glowers and grumbling. No, enjoying them, grateful for the excuse to be near him, ridiculously pleased every time she brought him close to a laugh. Saints, why do I care? Why did one smile from Matthias Helvar feel like fifty from someone else? She’d felt his heart race when she’d tipped his head back to work on his eyes. She’d thought about kissing him. She’d wanted to kiss him, and she was pretty sure he’d been thinking the same thing. Or maybe he was thinking about strangling me again.

She hadn’t forgotten what he’d said aboard the Ferolind, when he’d asked what she intended to do about Bo Yul-Bayur, if she truly meant to hand the scientist over to the Kerch. If she sabotaged Kaz’s mission, would it cost Matthias his pardon? She couldn’t do that. No matter what he was, she owed him his freedom.

Three weeks she’d traveled with Matthias after the shipwreck. They hadn’t had a compass, hadn’t known where they were going. They hadn’t even known where on the northern shore they’d washed up. They’d spent long days slogging through the snow, freezing nights in whatever rudimentary shelter they could assemble or in the deserted huts of whaling camps when they were lucky enough to come across them. They’d eaten roasted seaweed and whatever grasses or tubers they could find. When they’d found a stash of dried reindeer meat at the bottom of a travel pack in one of the camps, it had been like some kind of miracle. They’d gnawed on it in mute bliss, feeling nearly drunk on its flavor.

After the first night, they’d slept in all the dry clothes and blankets they could find but on opposite sides of the fire. If they didn’t have wood or kindling, they curled against one another, barely touching, but by morning, they’d be pressed together, breathing in tandem, cocooned in muzzy sleep, a single crescent moon.

Every morning he complained that she was impossible to wake.

“It’s like trying to raise a corpse.”

“The dead request five more minutes,” she would say, and bury her head in the furs.

He’d stomp around, packing their few things as loudly as possible, grumbling to himself. “Lazy, ridiculous, selfish…” until she finally roused herself and set about preparing for the day.

“What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home?” she asked him on one of their endless days trekking through the snow, hoping to find some sign of civilization.

“Sleep,” he said. “Bathe. Pray for my lost friends.”

“Oh yes, the other thugs and killers. How did you become a drüskelle, anyway?”

Your friends slaughtered my family in a Grisha raid,” he’d said coldly. “Brum took me in and gave me something to fight for.”

Nina hadn’t wanted to believe that, but she knew it was possible. Battles happened, innocent lives were lost in the cross fire. It was equally disturbing to think of that monster Brum as some kind of father figure.