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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“I’d kill for a bath,” she taunted. “You could wash me.”

“Don’t talk to me,” he growled, already stalking toward the door.

He hadn’t returned, and they’d gone without fresh water for the next three days. But when the storm hit, that tin cup had saved her life.

*   *   *

 

Nina’s chin dipped, and she jerked awake. Had she nodded off?

Matthias was standing in the passage outside the cabin. He filled the doorway, far too tall to be comfortable belowdecks. How long had he been watching her? Quickly, Nina checked Inej’s pulse and breathing, relieved to find that she seemed to be stable for now.

“Was I sleeping?” she asked.

“Dozing.”

She stretched, trying to blink away her exhaustion. “But not snoring?” He said nothing, just watched her with those ice-chip eyes. “They let you have a razor?”

His shackled hands went to his freshly shaved jaw. “Jesper did it.” Jesper must have seen to Matthias’ hair, too. The tufts of blond that had grown raggedly from his scalp had been trimmed down. It was still too short, bare golden fuzz over skin that showed cuts and bruises from his last fight in Hellgate.

He must be happy to be free of the beard, though, Nina thought. Until a drüskelle had accomplished a mission on his own and been granted officer status, he was required to remain clean-shaven. If Matthias had brought Nina to face trial at the Ice Court, he would have been granted that permission. He would have worn the silver wolf’s head that marked an officer of the drüskelle. It made her sick to think of it. Congratulations on your recent advancement to murderer of rank. The thought helped remind her just who she was dealing with. She sat up straighter, chin lifting.

Hje marden, Matthias?” she asked.

“Don’t,” he said.

“You’d prefer I spoke Kerch?”

“I don’t want to hear my language from your mouth.” His eyes flicked to her lips, and she felt an unwelcome flush.

With vindictive pleasure, she said in Fjerdan, “But you always liked the way I spoke your tongue. You said it sounded pure.” It was true. He’d loved her accent—the vowels of a princess, courtesy of her teachers at the Little Palace.

“Don’t press me, Nina,” he said. Matthias’ Kerch was ugly, brutal, the guttural accent of thieves and murderers that he’d met in prison. “That pardon is a dream that’s hard to hold on to. The memory of your pulse fading beneath my fingers is far easier to bring to mind.”

“Try me,” she said, her anger flaring. She was sick of his threats. “My hands aren’t pinned now, Helvar.” She curled her fingertips, and Matthias gasped as his heart began to race.

“Witch,” he spat, clutching his chest.

“Surely you can do better than that. You must have a hundred names for me by now.”

“A thousand,” he grunted as sweat broke out on his brow.

She relaxed her fingers, feeling suddenly embarrassed. What was she doing? Punishing him? Toying with him? He had every right to hate her.