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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Inej was lithe, all muscle and fine bones, built like an acrobat. The knife had entered beneath her left arm. It had been a very close thing. A little deeper and the blade would have pierced the apex of the heart.

Nina knew that if she simply sealed Inej’s skin the way she’d done with Wylan, the girl would just continue to bleed internally, so she’d tried to stop the bleeding from the inside out. She thought she’d managed it well enough, but Inej had lost a lot of blood, and Nina had no idea what to do about that. She’d heard some Healers could match one person’s blood to another’s, but if it was done incorrectly, it was as good as poisoning the patient. The process was far beyond her.

She finished closing the wound, then covered Inej with a light wool blanket. For now, all Nina could do was monitor her pulse and breathing. As she settled Inej’s arms beneath the blanket, Nina saw the scarred flesh on the inside of her forearm. She brushed her thumb gently over the bumps and ridges. It must have been the peacock feather, the tattoo borne by members of the Menagerie, the House of Exotics. Whoever had removed it had done an ugly job of it.

Curious, Nina pushed up Inej’s other sleeve. The skin there was smooth and unmarked. Inej hadn’t taken on the crow and cup, the tattoo carried by any full member of the Dregs. Alliances shifted this way and that in the Barrel, but your gang was your family, the only protection that mattered. Nina herself bore two tattoos. The one on her left forearm was for the House of the White Rose. The one that counted was on her right: a crow trying to drink from a near empty goblet. It told the world she belonged to the Dregs, that to trifle with her was to risk their vengeance.

Inej had been with the Dregs longer than Nina and yet no tattoo. Strange. She was one of the most valued members of the gang, and it was clear Kaz trusted her—as much as someone like Kaz could. Nina thought of the look on his face when he’d set Inej down on the table. He was the same Kaz—cold, rude, impossible—but beneath all that anger, she thought she’d seen something else, too. Or maybe she was just a romantic.

She had to laugh at herself. She wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t be rid of.

Nina brushed Inej’s straight black hair back from her face. “Please be okay,” she whispered. She hated the frail waver of her voice in the cabin. She didn’t sound like a Grisha soldier or a hardened member of the Dregs. She sounded like a little girl who didn’t know what she was doing. And that was exactly how she felt. Her training had been too short. She’d been sent out on her first mission too soon. Zoya had said as much at the time, but Nina had begged to go, and they’d needed her, so the older Grisha had relented.