Benny has lived her life in the shadows, avoiding the public eye. Her life as a recipe blogger pays the bills and lets her socialise, but she is about to get the assignment of a lifetime.
Her boss orders her into a one-week ride-along with agents of the XIA, the eXtranormal Investigation Agency. It is the anniversary of the agency, and they need to improve their exposure with the general public.
Against her objections, she is paired with a standard set of agents—a vampire, a shifter and a fey. They are willing to work with her, and it is only when she signs the waivers that she learns why. They all read her column.
A week doesn’t seem like much time to learn about an organisation that deals with things most folk don’t enjoy thinking about, but it whips past when the assignments go from casual crime to murders that have one pivot point. Benny.
Benny hated assignment meetings. They were intolerable, as those selected for the lackluster jobs tried to squirm out of them. Today was no exception.
“I don’t see why I am up for this particular assignment, Julian. Doing a week of ride-alongs with the XIA is not my idea of scintillating reporting. What am I going to do? Get stuck in a black van for a week?”
The gathered reporters were all staring at her with amusement and relief that it wasn’t them.
“Benny, you have basic magic senses and two years of mage studies at the university. You are the most capable of seeing if the XIA is actually worth the money we have put in over the last fifty years or if the anniversary is celebrating mediocrity.” Julian rubbed his green-scaled hands together. “Add to that the fact that you are human and it makes you the perfect foil to the extranatural officers that you will be dealing with.”
Benny scrubbed her hands through her hair. “This isn’t a good idea. I just want to write the recipe articles and information on how to carve pumpkins for the best light distribution at Halloween.”
Julian drummed his nails on the table, and he let out a gust of air. “Do you want me to spell this out?”
He waved at the selection of reporters in the room and on displays. “None of us can pass for human, and therefore, the XIA would consider us a suspect if they forgot we were there for the article.”
Benny covered her eyes with one hand for a moment before glaring at the occupants of the room. “They don’t do that.”
Freddy was next to her, and she nodded. “They do think we are up to no good.”
Benny gave her friend a sideways look. “In your case, they are right.”
Freddy shrugged. “I have to be me.”
“Freddy, it is when you take someone else’s identification that you have a problem.” Julian sighed. “Right. Settled. Benny, you are on the XIA, and they are expecting you for the nightshift. Go home, get some sleep and take notes on everything you can. They aren’t allowing photos, but that is to be expected. I trust your memory and your common sense. Everyone else. As we have stated, get to it.”
He pushed himself to his feet and walked over to Benny, she turned so he was staring at her face. “Take care and don’t do anything that Freddy would do.”
From behind her, Benny heard, “Hey!”
“For a full week?”
“It is the fiftieth year of the XIA. It needs a full week of examination, and we are the only news agency they are willing to deal with. More to the point, you are the only reporter they are willing to deal with. Apparently, they like food.”
Benny nodded, grabbed her notepad and her tablet and got to her feet, topping the goblin by close to two feet. He didn’t have a problem being even with her boobs, and she didn’t even notice it after a few years.
Freddy linked arms with her and asked, “So, did you want to start happy hour a little early?”
“No. I have to run this past Mom and Dad. You know how they feel about the XIA.”