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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Inej’s stomach dropped. Was that what Kaz had meant when he said Geels might have the guards in his pocket?

Kaz glanced up at the roof. “Hiring city guards to do your killing? I’d say that’s an expensive proposition for a gang like the Black Tips. I’m not sure I believe your coffers could support it.”

Inej climbed onto the railing and launched herself from the safety of the balcony, heading for the roof. If they survived the night, she was going to kill Kaz.

There were always two guards from the stadwatch posted on the roof of the Exchange. A few kruge from the Dregs and the Black Tips had ensured they wouldn’t interfere with the parley, a common enough transaction. But Geels was implying something very different. Had he really managed to bribe city guards to play sniper for him? If so, the Dregs’ odds of surviving this night had just dwindled to a knife’s point.

Like most of the buildings in Ketterdam, the Exchange had a sharply gabled roof to keep off heavy rain, so the guards patrolled the rooftop via a narrow walkway that overlooked the courtyard. Inej ignored it. It was easier going but would leave her too exposed. Instead she scaled halfway up the slick roof tiles and started crawling, her body tilted at a precarious angle, moving like a spider as she kept one eye on the guards’ walkway and one ear on the conversation below. Maybe Geels was bluffing. Or maybe two guards were hunched over the railing right now with Kaz or Jesper or Big Bolliger in their sights.

“Took some doing,” Geels admitted. “We’re a small operation right now, and city guards don’t come cheap. But it’ll be worth it for the prize.”

“That being me?”

“That being you.”

“I’m flattered.”

“The Dregs won’t last a week without you.”

“I’d give them a month on sheer momentum.”

The thought rattled noisily around in Inej’s head. If Kaz was gone, would I stay? Or would I skip out on my debt? Take my chances with Per Haskell’s enforcers? If she didn’t move faster, she might well find out.

“Smug little slum rat.” Geels laughed. “I can’t wait to wipe that look off your face.”

“So do it,” Kaz said. Inej risked a look down. His voice had changed, all humor gone.

“Should I have them put a bullet in your good leg, Brekker?”

Where are the guards? Inej thought, picking up her pace. She raced across the steep pitch of the gable. The Exchange stretched nearly the length of a city block. There was too much territory to cover.

“Stop talking, Geels. Tell them to shoot.”

“Kaz—” said Jesper nervously.

“Go on. Find your balls and give the order.”

What game was Kaz playing? Had he expected this? Had he just assumed Inej would find her way to the guards in time?

She glanced down again. Geels radiated anticipation. He took a deep breath, puffing out his chest. Inej’s steps faltered, and she had to fight not to go sliding straight off the edge of the roof. He’s going to do it. I’m going to watch Kaz die.