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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“Have they been like that the whole time?” Inej asked, looking between Nina and the Fjerdan.

Jesper nodded. “It’s like watching two bobcats circle each other.”

Inej made a little humming noise. “But what do they mean to do when they pounce?”

“Claw each other to death?”

Inej rolled her eyes. “No wonder you do so badly at the tables.”

Jesper steered her toward the rail, where they could make an approximation of a promenade without getting in anyone’s way. “I’d threaten to toss you into the drink, but Kaz is watching.”

Inej nodded. She didn’t look up to where Kaz stood beside Specht at the wheel. But Jesper did and gave him a cheery wave. Kaz’s expression didn’t change.

“Would it kill him to smile every once in a while?” Jesper asked.

“Very possibly.”

Every crew member called greetings and well wishes, and Jesper could sense Inej perking up with every cheer of “The Wraith returns!” Even Matthias gave her an awkward bow and said, “I understand you’re the reason we made it out of the harbor alive.”

“I suspect there were a lot of reasons,” said Inej.

“I’m a reason,” Jesper offered helpfully.

“All the same,” said Matthias, ignoring him. “Thank you.”

They moved on, and Jesper saw a pleased grin playing over Inej’s lips.

“Surprised?” he asked.

“A bit,” she admitted. “I spend so much time with Kaz. I guess—”

“It’s a novelty to feel appreciated.”

She released a little chuckle and pressed a hand to her side. “Still hurts to laugh.”

“They’re glad you’re alive. I’m glad.”

“I should hope so. I think I just never quite felt like I fit in with the Dregs.”

“Well, you don’t.”

“Thanks.”

“We’re a crew with limited interests, and you don’t gamble, swear, or drink to excess. But here’s the secret to popularity: risk death to save your compatriots from being blown to bits in an ambush. Great way to make friends.”

“As long as I don’t have to start going to parties.”

When they reached the foredeck, Inej leaned on the railing and looked out at the horizon. “Did he come to see me at all?”

Jesper knew she meant Kaz. “Every day.”

Inej turned her dark eyes on him, then shook her head. “You can’t read people, and you can’t bluff.”

Jesper sighed. He hated disappointing anyone. “No,” he admitted.

She nodded and looked back at the ocean.

“I don’t think he likes sickbeds,” Jesper said.

“Who does?”

“I mean, I think it was hard for him to be around you that way. That first day when you were hurt … he went a little crazy.” It cost Jesper something to admit that. Would Kaz have gone off on that kind of a mad-dog tear if it had been Jesper with a knife stuck in his side?

“Of course he did. This is a six-person job, and apparently he needs me to scale an incinerator shaft. If I die, the plan falls apart.”

Jesper didn’t argue. He couldn’t pretend to understand Kaz or what drove him. “Tell me something. What was the big falling out between Wylan and his father?”