Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
“Petting that bit of fuzz isn’t going to make it grow any faster,” Rutger said with a loud laugh.
Joost tried to summon some dignity. “I need to finish my rounds.”
Rutger elbowed Henk. “That means he’s going to go stick his head in the Grisha workshop to get a look at his girl.”
“Oh, Anya, won’t you use your Grisha magic to make my mustache grow?” Henk mocked.
Joost turned on his heel, cheeks burning, and strode down the eastern side of the house. They’d been teasing him ever since he’d arrived. If it hadn’t been for Anya, he probably would have pleaded with his captain for a reassignment. He and Anya only ever exchanged a few words on his rounds, but she was always the best part of his night.
And he had to admit, he liked Hoede’s house, too, the few peeks he’d managed through the windows. Hoede had one of the grandest mansions on the Geldstraat—floors set with gleaming squares of black and white stone, shining dark wood walls lit by blown-glass chandeliers that floated like jellyfish near the coffered ceilings. Sometimes Joost liked to pretend that it was his house, that he was a rich mercher just out for a stroll through his fine garden.
Before he rounded the corner, Joost took a deep breath. Anya, your eyes are brown like … tree bark? He’d think of something. He was better off being spontaneous anyway.
He was surprised to see the glass-paneled doors to the Grisha workshop open. More than the hand-painted blue tiles in the kitchen or the mantels laden with potted tulips, this workshop was a testimony to Hoede’s wealth. Grisha indentures didn’t come cheap, and Hoede had three of them.
But Yuri wasn’t seated at the long worktable, and Anya was nowhere to be seen. Only Retvenko was there, sprawled out on a chair in dark blue robes, eyes shut, a book open on his chest.
Joost hovered in the doorway, then cleared his throat. “These doors should be shut and locked at night.”
“House is like furnace,” Retvenko drawled without opening his eyes, his Ravkan accent thick and rolling. “Tell Hoede I stop sweating, I close doors.”
Retvenko was a Squaller, older than the other Grisha indentures, his hair shot through with silver. There were rumors he’d fought for the losing side in Ravka’s civil war and had fled to Kerch after the fighting.
“I’d be happy to present your complaints to Councilman Hoede,” Joost lied. The house was always overheated, as if Hoede were under obligation to burn coal, but Joost wasn’t going to be the one to mention it. “Until then—”
“You bring news of Yuri?” Retvenko interrupted, finally opening his heavily hooded eyes.
Joost glanced uneasily at the bowls of red grapes and heaps of burgundy velvet on the worktable. Yuri had been working on bleeding color from the fruit into curtains for Mistress Hoede, but he’d fallen badly ill a few days ago, and Joost hadn’t seen him since. Dust had begun to gather on the velvet, and the grapes were going bad.