Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
She heard the ping of metal as Kaz dropped one of the screws. She peered at the wagon floor and kicked it back to him, trying to ignore the pounding of her heart.
Kaz crouched down to replace the second hinge. He was breathing hard. She knew he was working in low light, by touch alone, in those cursed leather gloves he always insisted on wearing, but Inej didn’t think that was why he seemed so agitated. She heard footsteps on the right side of the wagon, one guard shouting to another. Come on, Kaz. She hadn’t taken the time to sweep away their footprints. What if the guard noticed? What if he pulled on the door, and it simply fell off its hinges, revealing Kaz Brekker, unhooded and unchained?
She heard another ping. Kaz cursed once under his breath. Suddenly, the door shook as the guard gave the chained padlock a rattle. Kaz braced his hand against the hinge. The crack of light beneath the door widened. Inej sucked in a breath.
The hinges held.
Another shout in Fjerdan, more footsteps. Then the crack of the reins and the cart surged forward, rumbling over the road. Inej let herself exhale. Her throat had gone completely dry.
Kaz took his place beside her. He shoved a hood over her head, and the musty smell filled her nostrils. He would put his own hood on next, then lock himself in. Easy enough, a cheap magician’s trick, and Kaz knew them all. His arm pressed along hers from shoulder to elbow as he locked the collar around his neck. Bodies shifted against Inej’s back and side, crowding up against her.
For now they were safe. But despite the rattle of the wagon’s wheels, Inej could tell Kaz’s breathing had gotten worse—shallow, rapid pants like an animal caught in a trap. It was a sound she’d never thought to hear from him.
It was because she was listening so closely that she knew the exact moment when Kaz Brekker, Dirtyhands, the bastard of the Barrel and the deadliest boy in Ketterdam, fainted.
The money Mister Hertzoon had left with Kaz and Jordie ran out the following week. Jordie tried to return his new coat, but the shop wouldn’t take it, and Kaz’s boots had clearly been worn.
When they brought the loan agreement Mister Hertzoon had signed to the bank, they found that—for all its official-looking seals—it was worthless paper. No one knew of Mister Hertzoon or his business partner.
They were evicted from the boarding house two days later, and had to find a bridge to sleep under, but were soon rousted by the stadwatch. After that, they wandered aimlessly until morning. Jordie insisted that they go back to the coffeehouse. They sat for a long time in the park across the street, but when night came, the watch began its rounds, and Kaz and Jordie headed south, into the streets of the lower Barrel, where the police did not bother to patrol.