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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Inej shook her head. None of this seemed possible.

“Inej, let me be very clear with you. If you skip out on your contract, Haskell will send people after you, people who make Tante Heleen look like a doting grandmother. And I won’t stop him. I’m putting my neck on the line for this little arrangement. It’s not a position I enjoy.”

“If this is true,” Inej said slowly, “then I’m free to say no.”

“Of course. But you’re obviously dangerous,” he said. “I’d prefer you never became dangerous to me.”

Dangerous. She wanted to clutch the word to her. She was fairly sure this boy was demented or just hopelessly deluded, but she liked that word, and unless she was mistaken, he was offering to let her walk out of this house tonight.

“This isn’t … it isn’t a trick, is it?” Her voice was smaller than she wanted it to be.

The shadow of something dark moved across Kaz’s face. “If it were a trick, I’d promise you safety. I’d offer you happiness. I don’t know if that exists in the Barrel, but you’ll find none of it with me.”

For some reason, those words had comforted her. Better terrible truths than kind lies.

“All right,” she said. “How do we begin?”

“Let’s start by getting out of here and finding you some proper clothes. Oh, and Inej,” he said as he led her out of the salon, “don’t ever sneak up on me again.”

*   *   *

 

The truth was she’d tried to sneak up on Kaz plenty of times since then. She’d never managed it. It was as if once Kaz had seen her, he’d understood how to keep seeing her.

She’d trusted Kaz Brekker that night. She’d become the dangerous girl he’d sensed lurking inside her. But she’d made the mistake of continuing to trust him, of believing in the legend he’d built around himself. That myth had brought her here to this sweltering darkness, balanced between life and death like the last leaf clinging to an autumn branch. In the end, Kaz Brekker was a just a boy, and she’d let him lead her to this fate.

She couldn’t even blame him. She’d let herself be led because she hadn’t known where she’d wanted to go. The heart is an arrow. Four million kruge, freedom, a chance to return home. She’d said she wanted these things. But in her heart, she couldn’t bear the thought of returning to her parents. Could she tell her mother and father the truth? Would they understand all she’d done to survive, not just at the Menagerie, but every day since? Could she lay her head in her mother’s lap and be forgiven? What would they see when they looked at her?

Climb, Inej. But where was there to go? What life was waiting for her after all she’d suffered? Her back ached. Her hands were bleeding. The muscles in her legs shook with invisible tremors, and her skin felt like it was ready to peel away from her body. Every breath of black air seared her lungs. She couldn’t breathe deeply. She couldn’t even focus on that gray patch of sky. The sweat kept beading down her forehead and stinging her eyes. If she gave up, she’d be giving up for all of them—for Jesper and Wylan, for Nina and her Fjerdan, for Kaz. She couldn’t do that.