For the fourteenth time that day, I flipped open the manilla file and stared at the black-and-white transcript. For the first time that day, I retrieved a yogurt from my bag and ate something.

Spoon hovering inches from my lips, I attempted to focus on the latest additions to the file recently assigned to my division. The words I'd long-since memorized, but I had to be missing something. I read them over again. No. There was still nothing of substance, nothing that warranted the clinching of my jaw at the mere sound of his name.

"Raleigh Braxton?"

I jumped and the dollop of strawberry yogurt perched on my spoon wiggled free and fell onto my copy of Braxton's folder.

"Shit," I cursed, scrambling for a napkin in the center of the table and wiping frantically at the pink stain. When I'd successfully expunged the yogurt I was left with the smirking face of Raleigh Braxton. I had to resist the urge to stick out my tongue at his photo. I mean, who smirkedin their mug shot?

"Sorry," Shelby said, a smile in her voice as she dropped her bag on the table and slid into the seat across from me. "Didn't know you were so focused."

"Focused on what?" a second voice asked. I didn't have to look up to know it was Paul Reed. When I did, however, he wasn't paying Shelby or I any attention. Instead he was reading something on his phone. "Looks like Ryan's skipping out early today."

Shelby shook her head, her smile broadening. "Yeah. Said he needed to shower before his date tonight."

Although Shelby was grinning enough for the both of us, I couldn't help but smile too. We'd all thought Ryan Sumner would end up one of those old, grumpy agents with no life outside of his very demanding job. But then he'd been assigned to watch over a college student seven months ago and the stoic agent had opened up, just a hair, but enough to do things like leave work early to clean up for a date. It was incredibly surprising for someone like Agent Sumner, someone who never bent the rules, and it gave hope to the rest of us singletons trapped in the 24/7 task of taking down the nation's top criminals.

Paul pushed his phone into his pant's pocket and took the empty seat at Shelby's left. "So it's just me and the girls. Again."

"Oh Paul, you know you love us." Shelby winked. In return Paul shot her a jaded look.

"I tolerate you."

"Whatever." She rolled her eyes and pulled her bag towards her. "I'd take the time to argue the contrary, but I'm famished."

Shelby was my closest colleague. It was difficult not to be drawn to her, she was all bright and vivacious and curves - from her full lips to dark ringlets to her round hips - and though she was ten years my senior she led the social life of an eighteen year old coed. While I was more on track to be the old, single cat lady. Or at least that's how it felt sometimes.

Paul, on the other hand, was my ex-boyfriend. My now happily married ex-boyfriend and the father of two beautiful children. Our breakup had morphed to an easy friendship due to us working in the same department, and sometimes it was difficult to remember that he was the same guy I'd hooked up with in a handicapped bathroom four years ago.

"What're you reading?" he asked, pulling me away from thatparticular memory, and glancing at the folder to find Braxton's stupid smirking face. "Oh."

"Yeah," I agreed, wrinkling my nose and studying the features of an otherwise handsome man, had he not been a criminal of the most annoying calibre. While he wasn't a terrorist or mafia henchman or a psychotic murderer, he was sly and smart and always capable of sliding away before paying for his crimes. And he took a lot of joy in gloating about doing so. "We think Braxton's planning something local. Again."

"I don't know what you're complaining about," Shelby chimed in. "Raleigh Braxton is sex on a stick and I for one love any excuse to work on his cases." She shot me a wink. "I've heard his dick is ten inches long and his abs cure cancer."

Paul rolled his eyes as he unzipped his bag and pulled out three cans of soda. He set one in front of Shelby before sliding one across the table. I caught it and popped open the tab with a sigh. "I don't know why I let him get under my skin." Reaching into my tote under the table, I grabbed two yogurts and tossed them across the table. Shelby caught hers easily while Paul missed and had to retrieve it from the ground. "And for the record," I continued, "there's no way his dick is ten inches long." A memory of Raleigh Braxton standing beneath the security light of the Dallas Museum of Art flashed and I hated how my eyes had lingered on the way the too-tight black t-shirt had hugged his impossibly broad shoulders and accented his well-defined frame. "We're still waiting on the verdict of his abs..."

Laughing, Shelby retrieved three sandwich bags and lobbed one in my direction. It hit the laminate cafeteria table with a soft thud. "Thank god. I was starting to wonder if you were a lesbian."

"I don't really see what's so great about him," Paul commented through a mouthful of roast beef. Shelby shot him a glare.

"Yes, because you'resuch a catch."

Paul swallowed the bite and shrugged. "I guess it's because I'm a dude, but I don't see it. He's an ass."

"I won't disagree with you there," I said, tearing at the crust off my sandwich. "But I also can't blame Shelby for finding him attractive." Because he was. Criminally so.

Laughing, Shelby replied, "We need to get laid Livi. And fast."

"Please," Paul cut in, his face paling slightly. "Can we not do this? I don't have Ryan here for side conversation about the weather and the new line of Ford pickups."

"And he was supposed to bring carrot sticks," Shelby sighed, as though physically mourning the loss of our daily vegetable. "So, what updates are there in Braxton's file?"

Paul visibly relaxed as I quoted the newest additions to his file. It wasn't much, but it was enough to distract from the whole 'we need to get laid' comment. Because truer words had never been spoken.

You see, I don't do boyfriends. It's not really feasible in my line of work. Sure, for people like Ryan and Paul there are rare exceptions, but I honestly think it's harder for women in our profession to have stable dating lives.

And it wasn't like not having a boyfriend meant I didn't have relationships in my life. There was an easy friendship between Shelby and I. Although strange, Paul had taken the words "let's still be friends" to heart and hadn't left my side since our breakup. And there was the deli employee that had my sandwich ready the moment I stepped inside. Of course, the only relationship that really mattered in my life was Moose, a forty-pound lab, border collie mutt of pup I'd rescued from the local shelter.

So what if my mother remarried and started a new family without me, or my father was a bit of a jerk that sometimes, maybe sent a card on my birthday and usually called on Christmas Eve? I had plenty of stable relationships in my life and the one guiding rule to keeping my heart unbroken and my head from venturing into crazy-girlfriend-territory was simple: don't sleep with the same guy twice. Don't fall hard. And definitely don't look twice at anyone who's totally and completely wrong for me. If they didn't fit in my life, there was no need to force them.

Those guiding principles were easy. Following them, however, was going to prove difficult in the months to come. And the reason for that was smirking right under my nose.


"Yo, Braxton."

Raleigh Braxton hated the word 'yo'. It was stupid and unprofessional and was it really so difficult to say 'hey' to get your boss' attention? Hiding his grimace, Raleigh cocked a brow in Neil's direction.

"Yes?"

"Seems we've got a phone tap," Neil Harrawitz replied. Neil was a computer-wiz, and though Raleigh didn't particularly like hiring his type on for these sorts of jobs it was becoming critical to have someone on board who knew a thing or two about technology. "I'm tracing it now."

Neil was a thief of the computer-hacker verity. He dabbled in credit fraud and other low-brow crime but Turner, Braxton's go-to headhunter, had assured him Neil was a loyal son-of-a-bitch and the best at what he did. So he'd been promised a share of the takings if he kept an eye on security cameras and museum correspondence and, of course, the Feds.

And just as Braxton suspected, Neil frowned and spelled out what he'd secretly been hoping for. "It's the FBI. The local branch. It's coded, but these tracers have bureau fingerprints all over them. Bunch of mediocre, no-good..."

The remainder of his words were mumbled, low and fast and Braxton didn't bother attempting to overhear the hacker's rant. A smirk tugged at one corner of Raleigh's mouth and an image flashed in his mind. An image of a panting woman, cheeks flushed and brows narrowed, eyes alight under the DMA's security lights. She'd had the gall to chase him, on foot, and actually thought she'd be successful in catching him red handed like he was some sort of amateur.

And he was not an amateur.

No, it seemed most on the FBI's watch list were unimaginative embezzlers and conmen, modern criminals that brought no flair, no excitement to the trade. Raleigh Braxton was nothing of the sort.

Braxton wasn't in the business for the money. Okay, so that was a lie, but he certainly wasn't in it strictly for the payout. He was a smart guy, a good businessman and he worked damn hard for what he got. If he wanted money he could go out and make an honest living, but where was the fun in that? Braxton was in the business for the glamor and prestige of his crime. Gem snatches, art heists, museum pilfers. There's nothing fun in computer hacking, no dramatics in insurance fraud, and no flair to bank robbery - not the robberies of today with ski masks and loaded guns. Raleigh always looked forward to the theatrics and the planning, and he especially looked forward to the look on Agent Olivia Hunt's face when he pulled off another job right under her crumpled little nose.