Meet Bethany Hazard

From Legacies Unmasked, book 5 of  Not the Same River.

***

A multicoloured girl sat on a multicoloured sofa, watching us. As we fanned out, Albert towards a shelf of tiny painted soldiers, Lucifer towards a giant, wind-up snow globe, and me towards the windows to figure out where the light came from, the multicoloured girl’s gaze settled on Lucifer. She squinted at him, then scratched frantically at the pad on her lap.

War spun round. “God’s balls, Bethany, you need to stop blending in like that.”

“I’m the middle child, Dad,” she said, her voice low and husky. “It’s my job to blend in.”

War rolled his eyes. So, this was Button—Bod’s sister. And War was … Bod’s dad? Bethany looked about fourteen, with waist-length blonde hair, every strand of it showing faded evidence of past experimentation with various shades of dye.

“Are you drawing?” I said.

“Collecting,” she said.

“She writes,” said War.

I looked down at her scratchy, upside-down writing. “What are you collecting?”

She stretched her legs along the sofa, her bare toes burrowing into a cushion. It took me a moment to realise she was wearing leggings and wasn’t actually tattooed from hip to ankle with skulls and roses.

Finally, she said, “People.”

“Will you collect me in there?”

She picked an eyeball off one of her rubber wristbands and frowned at it, then poked it into the small chest pocket on her shirt. The other wristband had spiders on it. I pitied whoever had to go through her pockets when they did the laundry.

Bethany said, “If you ever do anything interesting.”

Albert made a strangled choking sound.

“What’s the black page for?” I said.

“This?” She pulled out a floppy, shiny sheet. “Carbon paper. It makes a copy on the page underneath. It’s how I know if I’ve missed anything.”

“Right.” I had no idea what she was talking about. “If you’re the middle child, how many of you are there?”

“I’m number six.”

“There’s eleven of you?”

“No, there’s one of me. The rest are different.”

“My grandmother has seven. I thought that was bad enough. But eleven?”

“Filthy, isn’t it?” she said, standing up next to her dad, shooting him a look of mild contempt.

She was almost as tall as War, which wasn’t difficult since she was approximately eighty percent leg and he couldn’t have been more than five-four. She looked both sparky and sullen, with fuse-lit blue eyes and a querulous pout.

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