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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Inej tried to quiet the unease roiling through her, and listened as Geels and Kaz made small talk in the square while their seconds patted each of them down to make sure no one was carrying.

“Naughty,” Jesper said as he removed a tiny knife from Elzinger’s sleeve and tossed it across the square.

“Clear,” declared Big Bolliger as he finished patting down Geels and moved on to Oomen.

Kaz and Geels discussed the weather, the suspicion that the Kooperom was serving watered-down drinks now that the rent had been raised—dancing around the real reason they’d come here tonight. In theory, they would chat, make their apologies, agree to respect the boundaries of Fifth Harbor, then all head out to find a drink together—at least that’s what Per Haskell had insisted.

But what does Per Haskell know? Inej thought as she looked for the guards patrolling the roof above, trying to pick out their shapes in the dark. Haskell ran the Dregs, but these days, he preferred to sit in the warmth of his room, drinking lukewarm lager, building model ships, and telling long stories of his exploits to anyone who would listen. He seemed to think territory wars could be settled as they once had been: with a short scuffle and a friendly handshake. But every one of Inej’s senses told her that was not how this was going to play out. Her father would have said the shadows were about their own business tonight. Something bad was going to happen here.

Kaz stood with both gloved hands resting on the carved crow’s head of his cane. He looked totally at ease, his narrow face obscured by the brim of his hat. Most gang members in the Barrel loved flash: gaudy waistcoats, watch fobs studded with false gems, trousers in every print and pattern imaginable. Kaz was the exception—the picture of restraint, his dark vests and trousers simply cut and tailored along severe lines. At first, she’d thought it was a matter of taste, but she’d come to understand that it was a joke he played on the upstanding merchers. He enjoyed looking like one of them.

“I’m a businessman,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”

“You’re a thief, Kaz.”

“Isn’t that what I just said?”

Now he looked like some kind of priest come to preach to a group of circus performers. A young priest, she thought with another pang of unease. Kaz had called Geels old and washed up, but he certainly didn’t seem that way tonight. The Black Tips’ lieutenant might have wrinkles creasing the corners of his eyes and burgeoning jowls beneath his sideburns, but he looked confident, experienced. Next to him Kaz looked … well, seventeen.

“Let’s be fair, ja? All we want is a bit more scrub,” Geels said, tapping the mirrored buttons of his lime-green waistcoat. “It’s not fair for you to cull every spend-happy tourist stepping off a pleasure boat at Fifth Harbor.”

“Fifth Harbor is ours, Geels,” Kaz replied. “The Dregs get first crack at the pigeons who come looking for a little fun.”