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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Rojakke touched his fingers to the ugly bruise forming on his cheek, looking surprised and a bit betrayed. “I thought we was friendly,” he protested.

The sad part was that they were. Inej liked Rojakke. But right now, he was just a frightened man looking to feel bigger than someone.

“Rojakke,” she’d said. “I’ve seen you work a deck of cards. You can get a job in almost any den. Go home and be grateful Kaz doesn’t take what you owe him out of your hide, hmmm?”

He’d gone, a bit wobbly on his feet, still clutching his cheek like a stunned toddler, and Jesper had sauntered over.

“He’s right, you know. Kaz shouldn’t send you to do his dirty work.”

“It’s all dirty work.”

“But we do it just the same,” he said with a sigh.

“You look exhausted. Will you sleep at all tonight?”

Jesper just winked. “Not while the cards are hot. Stay and play a bit. Kaz will stake you.”

“Really, Jesper?” she’d said, pulling up her hood. “If I want to watch men dig holes to fall into, I’ll find myself a cemetery.”

“Come on, Inej,” he’d called after her as she passed through the big double doors onto the street. “You’re good luck!”

Saints, she’d thought, if he believes that, he really must be desperate. She’d left her luck behind in a Suli camp on the shores of West Ravka. She doubted she’d see either again.

Now Inej left her tiny chamber in the Slat and headed downstairs by way of the banisters. There was no reason to cloak her movements here, but silence was a habit, and the stairs tended to squeak like mating mice. When she reached the second-floor landing and saw the crowd milling below, she hung back.

Kaz had been gone longer than anyone had expected, and as soon as he’d entered the shadowy foyer, he’d been waylaid by people looking to congratulate him on his routing of Geels and asking for news of the Black Tips.

“Rumor has it Geels is already putting together a mob to move on us,” said Anika.

“Let him!” rumbled Dirix. “I’ve got an axe handle with his name on it.”

“Geels won’t act for a while,” said Kaz as he moved down the hall. “He doesn’t have the numbers to face us in the streets, and his coffers are too empty to hire on more hands. Shouldn’t you be on your way to the Crow Club?”

The raised eyebrow was enough to send Anika scurrying away, Dirix on her heels. Others came to offer congratulations or make threats against the Black Tips. No one went so far as to pat Kaz on the back, though—that was a good way to lose a hand.

Inej knew Kaz would stop to speak to Per Haskell, so instead of descending the final flight of stairs, she moved down the hallway. There was a closet here, full of odds and ends, old chairs with broken backs, paint-spattered canvas sheeting. Inej moved aside a bucket full of cleaning supplies that she’d placed there precisely because she knew no one in the Slat would ever touch it. The grate beneath it offered a perfect view of Per Haskell’s office. She felt slightly guilty for eavesdropping on Kaz, but he was the one who had turned her into a spy. You couldn’t train a falcon, then expect it not to hunt.