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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

She could leave Kerch anytime she wanted. She could stow away on a ship bound for Novyi Zem. She could go back to Ravka and search for her family. Hopefully they’d been safe in the west when the civil war broke out, or maybe they’d taken refuge in Shu Han. The Suli caravans had been following the same well-worn roads for years, and she had the skills to steal what she needed to survive until she found them.

That would mean walking out on her debt to the Dregs. Per Haskell would blame Kaz; he’d be forced to carry the price of her indenture, and she’d be leaving him vulnerable without his Wraith to gather secrets. But hadn’t he told her that she was easily replaced? If they managed to pull off this heist and return to Kerch with Bo Yul-Bayur safely in tow, her percentage of the haul would be more than enough to buy her way out of her contract with the Dregs. She’d owe Kaz nothing, and there would be no reason for her to stay.

Sunrise was only an hour away, but the streets were crowded as she wended her way from East to West Stave. There was a Suli saying: The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true. Her father had liked to recite this when she was training on the wire or the swings. Be decisive, he’d say. You have to know where you want to go before you get there. Her mother had laughed at this. That’s not what that means, she’d say. You take the romance out of everything. He hadn’t, though. Her father had adored her mother. Inej remembered him leaving little bouquets of wild geraniums for her mother to find everywhere, in the cupboards, the camp cook pots, the sleeves of her costumes.

Shall I tell you the secret of true love? her father once asked her. A friend of mine liked to tell me that women love flowers. He had many flirtations, but he never found a wife. Do you know why? Because women may love flowers, but only one woman loves the scent of gardenias in late summer that remind her of her grandmother’s porch. Only one woman loves apple blossoms in a blue cup. Only one woman loves wild geraniums.

That’s Mama! Inej had cried.

Yes, Mama loves wild geraniums because no other flower has quite the same color, and she claims that when she snaps the stem and puts a sprig behind her ear, the whole world smells like summer. Many boys will bring you flowers. But someday you’ll meet a boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won’t matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does. Only that boy earns your heart.

That felt like a hundred years ago. Her father had been wrong. There had been no boys to bring her flowers, only men with stacks of kruge and purses full of coin. Would she ever see her father again? Hear her mother singing, listen to her uncle’s silly stories? I’m not sure I have a heart to give anymore, Papa.