Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Geels shook his head. “You’re a young one, Brekker,” he said with an indulgent laugh. “Maybe you don’t understand how these things work. The harbors belong to the city, and we have as much right to them as anyone. We’ve all got a living to make.”
Technically, that was true. But Fifth Harbor had been useless and all but abandoned by the city when Kaz had taken it over. He’d had it dredged, and then built out the docks and the quay, and he’d had to mortgage the Crow Club to do it. Per Haskell had railed at him and called him a fool for the expense, but eventually he’d relented. According to Kaz, the old man’s exact words had been, “Take all that rope and hang yourself.” But the endeavor had paid for itself in less than a year. Now Fifth Harbor offered berths to mercher ships, as well as boats from all over the world carrying tourists and soldiers eager to see the sights and sample the pleasures of Ketterdam. The Dregs got first try at all of them, steering them—and their wallets—into brothels, taverns, and gambling dens owned by the gang. Fifth Harbor had made the old man very rich, and cemented the Dregs as real players in the Barrel in a way that not even the success of the Crow Club had. But with profit came unwanted attention. Geels and the Black Tips had been making trouble for the Dregs all year, encroaching on Fifth Harbor, picking off pigeons that weren’t rightfully theirs.
“Fifth Harbor is ours,” Kaz repeated. “It isn’t up for negotiation. You’re cutting into our traffic from the docks, and you intercepted a shipment of jurda that should have docked two nights ago.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I know it comes easy, Geels, but try not to play dumb with me.”
Geels took a step forward. Jesper and Big Bolliger tensed.
“Quit flexing, boy,” Geels said. “We all know the old man doesn’t have the stomach for a real brawl.”
Kaz’s laugh was dry as the rustle of dead leaves. “But I’m the one at your table, Geels, and I’m not here for a taste. You want a war, I’ll make sure you eat your fill.”
“And what if you’re not around, Brekker? Everyone knows you’re the spine of Haskell’s operation—snap it and the Dregs collapse.”
Jesper snorted. “Stomach, spine. What’s next, spleen?”
“Shut it,” Oomen snarled. The rules of parley dictated that only the lieutenants could speak once negotiations had begun. Jesper mouthed “sorry” and elaborately pantomimed locking his lips shut.
“I’m fairly sure you’re threatening me, Geels,” Kaz said. “But I want to be certain before I decide what to do about it.”
“Sure of yourself, aren’t you, Brekker?”
“Myself and nothing else.”
Geels burst out laughing and elbowed Oomen. “Listen to this cocky little piece of crap. Brekker, you don’t own these streets. Kids like you are fleas. A new crop of you turns up every few years to annoy your betters until a big dog decides to scratch. And let me tell you, I’m about tired of the itch.” He crossed his arms, pleasure rolling off him in smug waves. “What if I told you there are two guards with city-issue rifles pointed at you and your boys right now?”