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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“Right,” said Nina. “I can feel just how much you hate sleeping next to me. I feel it every morning.”

Matthias flushed bright scarlet. “Why do you have to say things like that?”

“Because I like it when you turn red.”

“It’s disgusting. You don’t need to make everything lewd.”

“If you would just relax—”

“I don’t want to relax.”

“Why? What are you so afraid will happen? Afraid you might start to like me?”

He said nothing.

Despite her fatigue, she trotted ahead of him. “That’s it, isn’t it? You don’t want to like a Grisha. You’re scared that if you laugh at my jokes or answer my questions, you might start thinking I’m human. Would that be so terrible?”

“I do like you.”

“What was that?”

“I do like you,” he said angrily.

She’d beamed, feeling a well of pleasure erupt through her. “Now, really, is that so bad?”

“Yes!” he roared.

“Why?”

“Because you’re horrible. You’re loud and lewd and … treacherous. Brum warned us that Grisha could be charming.”

“Oh, I see. I’m the wicked Grisha seductress. I have beguiled you with my Grisha wiles!”

She poked him in the chest.

“Stop that.”

“No. I’m beguiling you.”

“Quit it.”

She danced around him in the snow, poking his chest, his stomach, his side. “Goodness! You’re very solid. This is strenuous work.” He started to laugh. “It’s working! The beguiling has begun. The Fjerdan has fallen. You are powerless to resist me. You—”

Nina’s voice broke off in a scream as the ice gave way beneath her feet. She threw her hands out blindly, reaching for something, anything that might stop her fall, fingers scraping over ice and rock.

The drüskelle grabbed her arm, and she cried out as it was nearly wrenched from its socket.

She hung there, suspended over nothing, the grip of his fingers the only thing between her and the dark mouth of the ice. For a moment, looking into his eyes, she was certain he was going to let go.

“Please,” she said, tears sliding over her cheeks.

He dragged her up over the edge, and slowly they crawled onto more solid ground. They lay on their backs, panting.

“I was afraid … I was afraid you were going to let me go,” she managed.

There was a long pause and then he said, “I thought about it. Just for a second.”

Nina huffed out a little laugh. “It’s okay,” she said at last. “I would have thought about it, too.”

He got to his feet and offered her his hand. “I’m Matthias.”

“Nina,” she said, taking it. “Nice to make your acquaintance.”

*   *   *

 

The shipwreck had been more than a year ago, but it felt like no time had passed at all. Part of Nina wanted to go back to the moment before everything had gone wrong, to those long days on the ice when they’d managed to be Nina and Matthias instead of Grisha and witchhunter. But the more she thought about it, the more surely she knew there had never been a moment like that. Those three weeks were a lie that she and Matthias had built to survive. The truth was the pyre.