Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
He could feel the Dregs’ eyes on his back as he headed over the bridge. He didn’t need to hear their whispers to know what they would say. They wanted to drink with him, hear him explain how he’d known Big Bolliger had gone over to the Black Tips, listen to him describe the look in Geels’ eyes when he’d dropped his pistol. But they’d never get it from Kaz, and if they didn’t like it, they could find another crew to run with.
No matter what they thought of him, they’d walk a little taller tonight. It was why they stayed, why they gave their best approximation of loyalty for him. When he’d officially become a member of the Dregs, he’d been twelve and the gang had been a laughingstock, street kids and washed-up cadgers running shell games and penny-poor cons out of a run-down house in the worst part of the Barrel. But he hadn’t needed a great gang, just one he could make great—one that needed him.
Now they had their own territory, their own gambling hall, and that run-down house had become the Slat, a dry, warm place to get a hot meal or hole up when you were wounded. Now the Dregs were feared. Kaz had given them that. He didn’t owe them small talk on top of it.
Besides, Jesper would smooth it all over. A few drinks in and a few hands up and the sharpshooter’s good nature would return. He held a grudge about as well as he held his liquor, and he had a gift for making Kaz’s victories sound like they belonged to everyone.
As Kaz headed down one of the little canals that would take him past Fifth Harbor, he realized he felt—Saints, he almost felt hopeful. Maybe he should see a medik. The Black Tips had been nipping at his heels for weeks, and now he’d forced them to play their hand. His leg wasn’t too bad, either, despite the winter chill. The ache was always there, but tonight it was just a dull throb. Still, a part of him wondered if the parley was some sort of test Per Haskell had set for him. Haskell was perfectly capable of convincing himself that he was the genius making the Dregs prosper, especially if one of his cronies was whispering in his ear. That idea didn’t sit easy, but Kaz could worry about Per Haskell tomorrow. For now, he’d make sure everything was running on schedule at the harbor and then head home to the Slat for some much-needed sleep.
He knew Inej was shadowing him. She’d been with him all the way from the Exchange. He didn’t call out to her. She would make herself visible when she was good and ready. Usually he liked the quiet; in fact, he would have happily sewn most people’s lips shut. But when she wanted to, Inej had a way of making you feel her silence. It tugged at your edges.