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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“I can’t believe he just turned tail!” jeered Rotty. “He had a loaded pistol in his hand!”

“Tell us what you had on the guard,” Dirix begged.

“Can’t be the usual stuff.”

“I heard about a guy in Sloken who liked to roll around in apple syrup and then get two—”

“I’m not talking,” said Kaz. “Holst could prove useful in the future.”

The mood was jittery, and their laughter had the frantic serration that came with near disaster. Some of them had expected a fight and were still itching for one. But Kaz knew there was more to it, and he hadn’t missed the fact that no one had mentioned Big Bolliger’s name. They’d been badly shaken by his betrayal—both the revelation and the way Kaz had delivered punishment. Beneath all that jostling and whooping, there was fear. Good. Kaz relied on the fact that the Dregs were all murderers, thieves, and liars. He just had to make sure they didn’t make a habit of lying to him.

Kaz dispatched two of them to keep an eye on Big Bol and to make sure that if he made it to his feet, he left the city. The rest could return to the Slat and the Crow Club to drink off their worry, make some trouble, and spread word of the night’s events. They’d tell what they’d seen, embroider the rest, and with every retelling, Dirtyhands would get crazier and more ruthless. But Kaz had business to attend to, and his first stop would be Fifth Harbor.

Jesper stepped into his path. “You should have let me know about Big Bolliger,” he said in a furious whisper.

“Don’t tell me my business, Jes.”

“You think I’m dirty, too?”

“If I thought you were dirty, you’d be holding your guts in on the floor of the Exchange like Big Bol, so stop running your mouth.”

Jesper shook his head and rested his hands on the revolvers he’d reclaimed from Dirix. Whenever he got cranky, he liked to lay hands on a gun, like a child seeking the comfort of a favored doll.

It would have been easy enough to make peace. Kaz could have told Jesper that he knew he wasn’t dirty, reminded him that he’d trusted him enough to make him his only real second in a fight that could have gone badly wrong tonight. Instead, he said, “Go on, Jesper. There’s a line of credit waiting for you at the Crow Club. Play till morning or your luck runs out, whichever comes first.”

Jesper scowled, but he couldn’t keep the hungry gleam from his eye. “Another bribe?”

“I’m a creature of habit.”

“Lucky for you, I am, too.” He hesitated long enough to say, “You don’t want us with you? Geels’ boys are gonna be riled after that.”

“Let them come,” Kaz said, and turned down Nemstraat without another word. If you couldn’t walk by yourself through Ketterdam after dark, then you might as well just hang a sign that read “soft” around your neck and lie down for a beating.