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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Kaz shook his head, amused and impressed at how quickly Nina dropped the wise Grisha priestess act. She’d missed her true calling on the stage. “Was that Van Aakster, the merch?” Kaz asked.

“Yes.”

“His wife died a month ago, and his business has been a wreck since. Now that he’s visiting you, can we expect a turnaround?”

Nina didn’t need a bed because she specialized in emotions. She dealt in joy, calm, confidence. Most Grisha Corporalki focused on the body—to kill or to cure—but Nina had needed a job that would keep her in Ketterdam and out of trouble. So instead of risking her life and making major money as a mercenary, she slowed heartbeats, eased breathing, relaxed muscles. She had a lucrative side business as a Tailor, seeing to the wrinkles and jowls of the wealthy Kerch, but her chief source of income came from altering moods. People came to her lonely, grieving, sad for no reason, and left buoyed, their anxieties eased. The effect didn’t last long, but sometimes just the illusion of happiness was enough to make her clients feel like they could face another day. Nina claimed it had something to do with glands, but Kaz didn’t care about the specifics as long as she showed up when he needed her and she paid Per Haskell his percentage on time.

“I expect you’ll see a change,” Nina said. She finished off the last cake, licking her fingers with relish, then set the tray outside the door and rang for a maid. “Van Aakster started coming at the end of last week and has been here every day since.”

“Excellent.” Kaz made a mental note to buy up some of the low stock in Van Aakster’s company. Even if the man’s mood shift was the result of Nina’s handiwork, business would pick up. He hesitated then said, “You make him feel better, ease his woe and all that … but could you compel him to do something? Maybe make him forget his wife?”

“Alter the pathways in his mind? Don’t be absurd.”

“The brain is just another organ,” Kaz said, quoting Van Eck.

“Yes, but it’s an incredibly complex one. Controlling or altering another person’s thoughts … well, it’s not like lowering a pulse rate or releasing a chemical to improve someone’s mood. There are too many variables. No Grisha is capable of it.”

Yet, Kaz amended. “So you treat the symptom, not the cause.”

She shrugged. “He’s avoiding the grief, not treating it. If I’m his solution, he’ll never really get over her death.”

“Will you send him on his way then? Advise him to find a new wife and stop darkening your door?”

She ran a brush through her light brown hair and glanced at him in the mirror. “Does Per Haskell have plans to forgive my debt?”

“None at all.”

“Well then Van Aakster must be allowed to grieve in his own way. I have another client scheduled in a half hour, Kaz. What business?”