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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

What bound them together? Greed? Desperation? Was it just the knowledge that if one or all of them disappeared tonight, no one would come looking? Inej’s mother and father might still shed tears for the daughter they’d lost, but if Inej died tonight, there would be no one to grieve for the girl she was now. She had no family, no parents or siblings, only people to fight beside. Maybe that was something to be grateful for, too.

It was Jesper who spoke first. “No mourners,” he said with a grin.

“No funerals,” they replied in unison. Even Matthias muttered the words softly.

“If any of you survive, make sure I have an open casket,” Jesper said as he hefted two slender coils of rope over his shoulder and signaled for Wylan to follow him across the roof. “The world deserves a few more moments with this face.”

Inej was only slightly surprised to see the intensity of the look that passed between Matthias and Nina. Something had changed between them after the battle with the Shu, but Inej couldn’t be sure what.

Matthias cleared his throat and gave Nina an awkward little bow. “A word?” he asked.

Nina returned the bow with considerably more panache, and let him lead her away. Inej was glad; she wanted a moment with Kaz.

“I have something for you,” she said as she pulled his leather gloves from the sleeve of her prison tunic.

He stared at them. “How—”

“I got them from the discarded clothes. Before I made the climb.”

“Six stories in the dark.”

She nodded. She wasn’t going to wait for thanks. Not for the climb, or the gloves, or for anything ever again.

He pulled the gloves on slowly, and she watched his pale, vulnerable hands disappear beneath the leather. They were trickster hands—long, graceful fingers made for prying open locks, hiding coins, making things vanish.

“When we get back to Ketterdam, I’m taking my share, and I’m leaving the Dregs.”

He looked away. “You should. You were always too good for the Barrel.”

It was time to go. “Saints’ speed, Kaz.”

Kaz snagged her wrist. “Inej.” His gloved thumb moved over her pulse, traced the top of the feather tattoo. “If we don’t make it out, I want you to know…”

She waited. She felt hope rustling its wings inside her, ready to take flight at the right words from Kaz. She willed that hope into stillness. Those words would never come. The heart is an arrow.

She reached up and touched his cheek. She thought he might flinch again, even knock her hand away. In nearly two years of battling side by side with Kaz, of late-night scheming, impossible heists, clandestine errands, and harried meals of fried potatoes and hutspot gobbled down as they rushed from one place to another, this was the first time she had touched him skin to skin, without the barrier of gloves or coat or shirtsleeve. She let her hand cup his cheek. His skin was cool and damp from the rain. He stayed still, but she saw a tremor pass through him, as if he were waging a war with himself.