Entranced (The ROGUES Billionaire #1) - Tracie Delaney



I entered the club via a set of stairs covered in threadbare carpeting that stuck to my shoes, evidence of years of spilled drinks and trodden-in food. As the narrow stairwell gave way to a large open-plan space, the first thing to greet me was a thick blanket of smoke, the orange tips of cigarettes lighting the room like a bunch of concertgoers holding up their mobile phones on command. The acrid smell sank into the weave of my bespoke Alexander Amosu suit and burned the back of my throat. Through the haze, I made out an outline of a half-naked woman gyrating around a pole, a bunch of sweaty men watching her with their tongues hanging out. One made a grab for her calf, but she nimbly slipped out of reach.

The United States got many things wrong, but banning smoking wasn’t one of them. Unfortunately, not every country had yet capitulated; Japan—my current location—being one of them. A toothless law had been bound into the constitution a couple of years ago, but it paid lip service to the problem. The tobacco industry exuded far too much power for a blanket ban.

“Change number one. Enforce a smoking ban,” I yelled to my best friend and business partner, Elliot Bancroft, over the heavy beat of dance music. I fanned my hand in front of my face to try to clear my vision. “This is my favorite suit, yet now I might have to dump it in the trash the second I get back to the hotel room. Even a miracle worker won’t get the stench out.”

Elliot sniggered. “Turnover will take a hit. Smoking is entrenched in the very fabric of Japan.”

I shrugged. Made no difference to me. I liked swimming against the tide. Not conforming to societal rules attracted curiosity. Besides, when I converted this club from a sleazy, rat-infested hovel to a classy dance joint worthy of the Poles Apart brand, if it fell on its ass, it wouldn’t even make a dent in the number of zeros in my bank account. Hell, if every business I owned went into liquidation tomorrow, I’d still have more money than ninety-eight percent of the world’s population.

How had I amassed such wealth at the tender age of twenty-eight, you might ask? A stroke of luck as it turned out. Six college buddies, bored with what the education system offered, dabbled in gaming apps. The thrill of creating a fun product from scratch was a far more interesting pastime than sitting in lecture halls listening to dull professors blather on as they tried, in vain, to impart information that was about as useful in the real world as my cock to a lesbian.

The first few apps crashed and burned. Then, for a reason none of us have ever managed to figure out, one of them took off, went viral, and ROGUES. Inc was born. Now, seven years later, me and five of my closest friends were among the richest men in the world, living the ultimate dream.

In case you were wondering about our company name, ROGUES simply spelled the initials of our first names. Me (Ryker), Oliver, Garen, Upton, Elliot—my current companion and best friend since kindergarten—and Sebastian.

The acronym, though, holds more than a modicum of truth. We are rogues. Every one of us.

Except for one.


But that was a very long, complicated story without a happy ending.

The rest of the fabulous five? Testosterone-fueled young men with the world at our feet and, hell, do we take advantage of our privileged positions.

If we’d taken more time to brainstorm, we might have come up with something slicker, but after the money started rolling in, we’d had to create somewhere to funnel it, and quick. Elliot originally floated the idea of playing around with the initials of our first names, and Sebastian figured out the order to form a suitable word.

I hadn’t always had money to burn. Far from it. Growing up, it had just been Mom and me after my father died before I could talk. She’d worked three jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. She might not have been around as much as I’d have liked, but I knew I was loved. And besides, the lack of material possessions had lit a fire within me, a desperate burn to achieve success. I worked my ass off at school, achieved a scholarship to college, and the rest, as they say, is history.

This was my first trip to Japan. I tended