Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
He could make the decision for her. He owed her that much. He reached down and yanked her to her feet, and they limped together off the beach.
They headed what Matthias hoped was west. The sun could play tricks on your senses this far north and they had no compass with which to navigate. It was almost dark, and Matthias had begun to feel the stirrings of real panic when they finally spotted the first of the whaling camps. It was deserted—the outposts were only active in the spring—and little more than a round lodge made of bone, sod, and animal skins. But shelter meant they might at least survive the night.
The door had no lock. They practically fell through it.
“Thank you,” she groaned as she collapsed beside the circular hearth.
He said nothing. Finding the camp had been mere luck. If they’d washed up even a few miles farther up the coast they would have been done for.
The whalers had left peat and dry kindling in the hearth. Matthias labored over the fire, trying to get it to do more than smoke. He was clumsy and tired and hungry enough that he would have gladly gnawed the leather off his boot. When he heard a rustling behind him, he turned and almost dropped the piece of driftwood he’d been using to coax the little flames.
“What are you doing?” he barked.
She had glanced over her shoulder—her very bare shoulder—and said, “Is there something I’m supposed to be doing?”
“Put your clothes back on!”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m not going to freeze to death to preserve your sense of modesty.”
He gave the fire a stern jab, but she ignored him and stripped off the rest of her clothes—tunic, trousers, even her underthings—then wrapped herself in one of the grimy reindeer skins that had been piled near the door.
“Saints, this smells,” she grumbled, shuffling over and assembling a nest of the few other pelts and blankets beside the fire. Every time she moved, the reindeer cloak parted, revealing a flash of round calf, white skin, the shadow between her breasts. It was deliberate. He knew it. She was trying to rattle him. He needed to focus on the fire. He’d almost died, and if he didn’t get a fire started, he still might. If only she would stop making so much damn noise. The driftwood snapped in his hands.
Nina snorted and lay down in the nest of pelts, propping herself on one elbow. “For Saint’s sake, drüskelle, what’s wrong with you? I just wanted to be warm. I promise not to ravish you in your sleep.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” he said irritably.
Her grin was vicious. “Then you’re as stupid as you look.”
He stayed crouching beside the fire. He knew he was meant to lie down next to her. The sun had set, and the temperature was dropping. He was struggling to keep his teeth from chattering, and they would need each other’s warmth to get through the night. It shouldn’t have concerned him, but he didn’t want to be near her. Because she’s a killer, he told himself. That’s why. She’s a killer and a witch.