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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Who was Per Haskell? Does it matter? said a voice inside her. He’s a man who buys women. That’s all you need to know.

Inej’s distress must have been obvious because Tante Heleen laughed lightly. “Don’t worry. He’s old, disgustingly old, but he seems harmless enough. Of course, one never knows.” She lifted a shoulder. “Perhaps he’ll share you with his errand boy, Mister Brekker.”

Kaz turned his cold eyes on Tante Heleen. “Are we done?” It was the first time Inej had heard him speak, and she was startled by the rough burn of his voice.

Heleen sniffed, adjusting the neckline of her shimmering blue gown. “We are indeed, you little wretch.” She heated a stick of peacock blue wax and affixed her seal to the document before her. Then, she rose and examined her reflection in the looking glass that hung above the mantel. Inej watched Heleen straighten the diamond choker on her neck, the jewels glinting brightly. Through the din of confusion in her head, Inej thought, They look like stolen stars.

“Goodbye, little lynx,” said Tante Heleen. “I doubt you’ll last more than a month in that part of the Barrel.” She glanced at Kaz. “Don’t be surprised if she runs. She’s faster than she looks. But maybe Per Haskell will enjoy that, too. See yourselves out.”

She swept from the room in a billow of silk and honeyed perfume, leaving a stunned Inej in her wake.

Slowly, Kaz crossed the room and shut the door. Inej tensed for whatever was to come next, fingers twisting in her silks.

“Per Haskell runs the Dregs,” Kaz said. “You’ve heard of us?”

“They’re your gang.”

“Yes, and Haskell is my boss. Yours, too, if you like.”

She summoned her courage and said, “And if I don’t like?”

“I withdraw the offer and go back home looking like a fool. You stay here with that monster Heleen.”

Inej’s hands flew to her mouth. “She listens,” Inej whispered, terrified.

“Let her listen. The Barrel has all kinds of monsters in it, and some of them are very beautiful indeed. I pay Heleen for information. In fact, I pay her too much for information. But I know exactly what she is. I asked Per Haskell to pay off your indenture. Do you know why?”

“You like Suli girls?”

“I don’t know enough Suli girls to say.” He moved to the desk and picked up the document, tucking it in his coat. “The other night, when you spoke to me—”

“I meant no offense, I—”

“You wanted to offer me information. Perhaps in return for help? A letter to your parents? Some extra pay?”

Inej cringed. That was exactly what she’d wanted. She’d overheard gossip about a silk trade and had thought to make some kind of exchange. It was foolish, brash.

“Is Inej Ghafa your real name?”

A strange sound escaped Inej’s throat, part sob, part laugh, a weak, embarrassing sound, but it had been months since she’d heard her own name, her family name. “Yes,” she managed.