The Bastard's Bargain


By Katee Robert

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 30, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The New York Times bestselling author of Neon Gods delivers a "deliciously gritty, darkly romantic, drop-dead sexy and thoroughly engrossing" mafia romance. (USA Today, Happy Ever After)

Married to the enemy.

When Keira O'Malley was a child, she used to picture her perfect wedding. The flowers. The dress. Her husband. But nothing could have prepared her for saying "I do" to Dmitri Romanov-cold, domineering, and always one step ahead of everyone else in the ever-shifting power plays of New York City. She agreed to his bargain to secure peace for her family, and she may want the bastard more than she'd ever admit, but she'll be damned if she'll make this marriage easy for him.

Dmitri knows better than to underestimate Keira for one second. Molten desire smolders between them, a dangerous addiction neither can resist. But his enemies are already on the move, and he needs every ounce of his legendary focus and control to keep them alive. Keira could just be his secret weapon-if she doesn't bring him to his knees first.

"A tension-filled plot full of deceit, betrayal, and sizzling love scenes will make it impossible for readers to set the book down." —Publishers Weekly on Forbidden Promises



Writing a book isn’t done in a vacuum, and writing and publishing a series takes a small army of people to do so successfully. I’ve been very, very fortunate in working with an amazing team who has loved and supported and cheered on the O’Malleys from the very first moment that Callie appeared on the first page of The Marriage Contract.

None of it would have mattered without the support of my readers. It was your love and excitement that made this book, specifically, possible, and I cannot thank you enough. I never planned on Dmitri Romanov turning into such a force to be reckoned with, and I certainly never saw him and Keira coming. Thank you for your trust that I would bring our bad guy full circle and ensure that he actually deserved a happily ever after.

This series wouldn’t be half as good without my amazing editor Leah Hultenschmidt cheering me on and pushing me to make these books even better than I could have dreamed. Thank you for getting my vision, even when I had trouble executing it. This series will always be so incredibly special to me because you trusted me to run with it, and reeled me back in when I ran a wee bit too far.

Thank you to the team at Forever. Your support from amazing covers all the way to getting these books into readers’ hands has been wonderful. I appreciate you! Big thanks to Danielle Barclay at Barclay Publicity for helping push this series from day one. You are a rock star!

Hugs and many thanks to Piper J. Drake for always being there to help me keep my eye on the prize when reality threatened to kick me in the teeth. You are an amazing friend, and I am so thankful we found each other at RWA nationals that year for breakfast.

Special thanks to my reader group, the Rabble. I hope Dmitri was worth the wait! Being able to share bits of him and Keira with you early made all the difference in the world for me. Thank you for loving him just as much as I did long before you were able to read his story in full.

As always, I don’t know if I’d survive the process of getting a book out into the world without the love and support of my husband and family. Tim, Terri, Hilary, Kristen, John, and all the various kids. We might not be a family by blood, but you are the family I choose and I love you more than anything.

Chapter One

Keira O’Malley stared at the empty bottle of vodka next to her bed. She had a second one stashed in her closet, but the effort to climb off her mattress and retrieve it was beyond her. Lethargy sapped what little strength she had, though she couldn’t blame that on the alcohol any more than she could blame it on the weed. No, it was all her. She glanced at the digital clock painting red patterns across the clear bottle. Almost four in the morning—there would be no sleep tonight. Again.

She didn’t sleep much these days—and not at all without some kind of liquid help—but this was worse than normal. Tonight, while she lay here with alcohol buzzing through her system and watched the smoke curl above her face with each exhale, she waited for news.

She hated that when shit hit the fan, her older siblings sent her to her room while they dealt with the crisis. She was twenty-one, and they treated her like a child.

Or a bomb about to go off.

She inhaled again, smoking her joint slowly, wishing the burning in her lungs could ease her racing thoughts. No one had come to update her since the whole house was put on lockdown. Right now, one of her brothers could be dead, bleeding out in the street, and Keira would be the last to know.

Like Devlin.

Pain slashed through her despite the barrier of numbness she’d carefully cultivated with weed and alcohol. One brother dead because of their family’s “business” dealings, another in immediate danger, and nothing she could do but lie here and feel sorry for herself.

A buzzing vibrated against her hip, and her heartbeat picked up even as her stomach dropped when she realized it wasn’t her normal cell. Not news, then. It was the burner phone Dmitri Romanov had given her, the one he used to contact her directly without leaving a trace for her family to find.

Her thumb hovered over the call reject button. She needed to be here for when news came in…but Dmitri often surprised her by knowing more than he should. Maybe he had news for her.

And maybe pigs will fly. You want to answer the call because you want to talk to him. It has nothing to do with noble motivations.

The phone buzzed again, and she answered before she could talk herself out of it. “Do you even know what time it is?”

“Are you still wearing my ring?” Dmitri’s voice rasped through the line, his Russian accent making her stomach do a slow somersault.

She looked down at the giant diamond winking in the low light. Two weeks ago, he’d cornered her in a bathroom and slipped it on her finger. It wasn’t the proposal she’d dreamed of when she was a little girl, but six-year-old Keira O’Malley never would have imagined a man like Dmitri. There was nothing innocent about him, nothing noble or even a little bit good. He was the villain of this story. The man who would take down her family—unless she became his bride.

And yet, Keira hadn’t taken the ring off, though she couldn’t begin to explain the impulse that had kept the jewelry in place. Liar. That ring is nothing more than you deserve, and not because it’s worth a small fortune. It’s a promise that you’ll do what it takes when the time comes…and the time is now.

There was only one reason Dmitri was calling her at four in the morning, while her oldest brother was headed to a dangerous meeting in New York and the rest of the family was otherwise occupied, facing down a threat coming from a different direction. Clever Russian. He’s making his play.

She swallowed hard. “Yes.”

A pause, as if she’d surprised him with her honesty. Keira sat up and took another hit of her joint. She needed all the bolstering she could get for what would come next.

When Dmitri spoke again, his tone was cool and distant. “Your brother intends to break his word to me and cancel our engagement.”

She froze. “What?” Surely she’d just heard him wrong. Aiden was too smart to risk the safety of their family and the people who depended on them for her. She was expendable. The youngest of seven—six, now—siblings, it only made sense to sell her to Dmitri. They’d fought too hard to prevent a war to start one now. Her family had dealt him three political blows in as many years. If the O’Malleys reneged on this, Dmitri would see every single one of them taken out. She had no doubt about it.

“You can stop it, Keira. Come with me now and I’ll forget that he was going to break his word.” If the devil existed, he had a Russian accent and used that coaxing tone when offering his bargains. Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly. I’ll eat you whole, but you’ll like it.

She suspected it was even the truth.

She was safe in her room. He wouldn’t bash in, shoot everyone, and take her. It wasn’t Dmitri’s style, no matter what anyone thought of him. But if she didn’t go with him now, the O’Malleys and Romanovs would go to war. Nothing would be able to prevent it.

Nothing but her.

Have to play this right. “If I come with you now”—her voice hitched, but she pushed on—“promise me there will be peace. Give me your word.”

He barely hesitated. “I give my word that I will do nothing further to antagonize your brother and the situation.”

She’d been around too many power plays in her life not to know hedging when she heard it. “But if he comes after me, you’ll finish what he started. No. I’m not signing Aiden’s death warrant.”

He cursed in Russian. “I will do everything in my power to broker peace if you come with me right this moment. The clock is ticking, Keira.”

He’d keep his word. Dmitri might be borderline evil with a dose of psychopath, but he had his own code of honor. That promise was as good as she was going to get. If she said no now, she might very well be sentencing her family to war. Maybe they could win, but not without casualties. I can’t bury another sibling. “Give me two minutes.”

“Be quick.”

Keira hung up and grabbed a bag. She kept an overnight one packed for emergencies. She paused and looked around her room. There wasn’t a single damn thing that she couldn’t live without. The jewelry her mother gave her hadn’t been touched in well over two years. Her books lay unread. She finally snatched a picture of her and her siblings from the dresser and shoved it into the pack, followed by her bag of perfectly rolled joints and two bottles of vodka. Dmitri was Russian—he no doubt owned stock in vodka—but she’d rather have her own stash close at hand.

And then there was nothing else holding her to this place. She shoved the window open and climbed out. It was a route she’d taken more times than she could count, no matter how often her brother threatened to install bars to hold her in. She swung out of the window and climbed down the tree to the ground.

A bitter wind kicked her hair into her face and made her wish she’d thought to bring a sweatshirt, but it was too late to worry about it now. Keira shrugged her bag over her shoulder and started down the street toward the black town car and the man who stood next to it as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

As if he wasn’t in the very heart of enemy territory, stealing her out from under her family’s nose.

Dmitri Romanov was striking in the way of fallen angels, his face a little too rough for perfection, his mouth a little too calculating and made for spilling lies, his gray eyes a little too icy to be anything other than exactly what he was—a cold-blooded killer who manipulated people to suit his purposes.

Against her better judgment, she picked up her pace, drawn to him despite everything that had happened between them—and everything that hadn’t.


Dmitri moved. One second he was several feet away, and the next he pulled Keira to him—behind him. She blinked and peered around his shoulder to find her middle brother standing on the sidewalk, a gun in his hand.

A gun pointed at Dmitri.

“Put the gun down, Cillian.” Dmitri spoke softly, his hands out to his sides.

Shielding me.

More like protecting his investment.

“I don’t care if you helped Aiden and Charlie, you are not taking my sister anywhere.”

Keira bit down angry words. Right now, the only thing that mattered was defusing the situation. Her brother wanted to protect her—she got that—but he was putting everyone they cared about in danger with this bullshit. She opened her mouth, but Dmitri spoke before she had a chance.

“You owe me a favor, Cillian O’Malley.”

“The fuck I do.”

“Break your word and our deal is null and void.”

Oh God. If Cillian did that, it would be even worse than shooting Dmitri right then and there. Keira stepped around Dmitri and put her hand on his chest. “Cillian, please. Just let me go. I’m choosing this. I’ll be okay. I promise.” Soft and easy. Lie with your words and tone and body.

Cillian relaxed. The gun inched lower, finally aiming safely at the concrete at her brother’s feet. “Aiden is going to come after you, Keira. You know that.”

He couldn’t come after her, because if he did, Dmitri would have the ammunition he needed to attack. She leaned forward, her voice low and fierce. “He promised to respect my choice.” She had to get her message across or this would all be for nothing.

She turned and walked away, now gripping Dmitri’s shirt to tow him after her. If she didn’t, the boys were liable to whip out their cocks just to see whose was biggest. Better to remove Dmitri from the temptation of poking at her brother—something he had a long history of doing, given that Cillian was living with Dmitri’s half sister. Keira held her breath the entire time, waiting for Cillian to push the subject, waiting for Dmitri to made a snide comment. But, miracle of miracles, both men stayed silent.

It wasn’t until they were in the backseat that Keira relaxed enough to slouch against the leather and close her eyes. We made it. I fulfilled my end of the bargain and no one got killed…yet. “How long until we get to your place?” The sooner they got out of Boston—and O’Malley territory—the better it would be for everyone. Even Aiden would think twice about coming to New York where Dmitri had home-court advantage.

“We’re not going to my place.”

Goddamn it, she would strangle him herself if this was yet another game. What am I talking about? Of course it’s all a game. Game playing is what Dmitri does best. She took a breath, and then another, striving to keep her reaction under control. Finally, when she was sure she could pull off the belligerent tone without the slightest hint of fear, she opened one eye. “Then where are we going?”

“A chapel.”

*  *  *

Dmitri Romanov didn’t permit himself to breathe a sigh of relief. This was only the first step in a path that could potentially span years. It didn’t matter. Keira was here—was his. He had time.

He watched her look around the inside of the town car, cataloging everything with those witchy hazel eyes of hers. The faint scent of pot filled the car, giving evidence to what she’d been up to when he called. The woman was a mess, but he’d known that from the moment he met her. Dmitri didn’t do projects. He preferred to be the one holding all the cards—it allowed him to anticipate how the people around him would act in any given situation.

He’d never been able to anticipate Keira. Not from the moment she picked his pocket and walked away from him as if she didn’t give a fuck about the danger he posed to her.

Likely because she has a goddamn death wish.

He’d deal with that, just like he’d deal with the rest of Keira’s issues. In time.

Right that moment, time was the one thing they didn’t have. Keira’s oldest brother would be returning to Boston within hours, and Dmitri fully intended to marry her before Aiden realized she was gone. It was significantly more difficult to oust a wife than it was a fiancée.

He had Keira now. He wasn’t going to let anyone take her.

She kicked her feet out, propping her chunky black boots on the seat. The long line of her bare legs drew his gaze up to her tiny sleep shorts. They were barely more than underwear, hugging her hips and ass. Her shirt wasn’t much better, for all that it was long-sleeved. It revealed a slice of pale stomach and was fitted enough that he had absolutely no doubts about the fact that Keira wore no bra. Her small breasts pressed against the fabric, and she shivered beneath the weight of his gaze.

Get control of yourself. He leaned forward and nudged her boots back to the floorboard. Taking Keira was part of the plan—fucking her in the backseat was not. “There’s no need for an adolescent tantrum.”

She laughed, the sound rough and pain filled. “God, would you listen to yourself? You just showed up at my window to lure me into the night—to a chapel—and now you’re bitching about my shoes on the seats? Russian, you have your priorities seriously out of order.” She flicked her long hair off her shoulder. She’d dyed it a harsh blond that seemed designed to highlight how unhealthily skinny she’d become in the last year.

She’s spiraling.

Not anymore.

“Our current situation is no reason to throw propriety out the window.” He sounded stuffy, and he hated it, but with her sitting so close, wearing clothing she’d just been sleeping in…Dmitri dragged in a breath. “Keep your shoes on the floor.”

“Or what?” She turned to face him. The move pulled her shirt even tighter against her chest, revealing the faintest outline of her nipples. Keira saw where his gaze went, and gave a bitter smile. “All the games, all the bullshit, and that hasn’t changed.” She leaned forward and hooked his collar with her finger, drawing him closer despite himself. “Tell me something, Romanov.”

“Hmm?” He dragged his gaze up to her mouth. The wicked curve of her lips was matched only by the words she threw into the space between them with such abandon. The woman wouldn’t know caution if it slapped her in the face.

“You’re dragging me to your cave to be your Bride of Frankenstein.” She shifted closer, her bare leg sliding over his slacks until her thigh came into contact with his cock.

He should move her. Set her back and explain that no matter what she thought of the situation, she wasn’t in control. But the ring he’d put on her finger winked at him, a reminder that Keira wasn’t the sister of his enemy anymore. She was his.

Or she would be in a few short hours.

He bracketed her thigh with a hand, keeping her in place, but didn’t touch her anywhere else. There was no masking his reaction to her, not in their position. Dmitri didn’t bother trying. “Calling me Frankenstein is more than a bit dramatic.”

She looked up at him, her eyes holding a question he didn’t have a satisfying answer to. “I think it’s time to stop being in denial, don’t you?”

He recognized the direction she was headed. “You know I want you. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t.”

Just like that, the shutters slammed down on her expression. She sat back and he let her go, watching her pull herself together. Her spine went ramrod straight, and she stared at the back of the driver’s head rather than at Dmitri. She crossed her arms over her chest. “No lies between us. That’s what you said. You want me, sure, but don’t pretend any of this bullshit has to do with sex. You need to prove what an international badass you are by marrying the sister of your enemy. An eye for an eye—a wife and a sister. Remember?”

He knew exactly what she was quoting. The note he’d had delivered to Aiden O’Malley just over a year ago. By my count, you owe me both a wife and a sister. I’ll be content with one of yours. He hadn’t realized Keira had seen it.

Twin possibilities spun out between them. She was scared and vulnerable, and if he told her that it was her he wanted and not what she represented, she would believe him. It would even be the truth, at least in part. He hadn’t been able to get Keira out of his head from the moment he met her, and he’d manipulated events to ensure they reached this exact moment.

Telling her that wasn’t telling her the full truth, though. This wasn’t some great love story where he’d been pining for her while her family kept them apart. Dmitri wanted her, yes. He craved the feeling of her body beneath his hands, her taste on his tongue, and her smart mouth around his cock.

But his craving her had no real relevance in the grand scheme of things. He needed one of the O’Malley daughters to regain his status after the blows the family had dealt him over the last two years. Keira was the only option left.


It didn’t matter what the truth was, full or otherwise. What mattered was ensuring Keira toed the line. He sat back, trying to ignore the throbbing of his cock, and studied her. “You knew what this was when you climbed out your window and stepped between me and your brother.”

She finally met his gaze, her hazel eyes fiery in their defiance. “Yes, I did.” Keira turned back to the window. “I’m tired. Wake me when we get to New York.” She slumped against the seat and, for all appearances, passed out cold.

Dmitri watched her for a long time. He waited for her breathing to even out in actual sleep and for the last of the tension to bleed from her body. It was the first of many battles to come. He had no illusions about that. Keira wouldn’t submit. She’d make him work for every single goddamn win, and she’d begin fighting again the second she recovered.

If he had any sense, he’d order Mikhail to turn the car around and dump her back on the O’Malleys’ front doorstep. There were other women who would be suitable wives. Docile, biddable women who would trip over themselves to give him whatever he desired.

None of them were this woman, though.

He shrugged out of his jacket and draped it over her. It would have been simpler to turn up the heat in the backseat, but Dmitri liked the look of Keira wrapped in something of his. He might cultivate the gentleman-murderer mask, as she liked to call it, but he wasn’t above the baser things in life.

Keira O’Malley. My wife.

But not yet.

He glanced at his watch. They had several hours left until they reached the courthouse. He’d set up a private appointment with a judge who owed him a favor. They would be married with the paperwork filed before Aiden returned to Boston, and then there was nothing the O’Malley could do. Everything was going according to plan.

It didn’t combat the uneasiness that rose in him with each minute that passed. He’d gotten what he wanted, but the battle was far from over. The very thing that attracted him to Keira in the first place—her unpredictability—might very well be his downfall.

Another glance at his watch. A grand total of a minute had passed. Dmitri leaned forward and tapped the glass separating them from Mikhail. His man lowered it. “Yes, boss?”

“Drive faster.”

Chapter Two

Keira thought she’d hit rock bottom ages ago. She was pretty damn sure of it, in fact. She’d spent the last two years bouncing from one high to another, doing whatever it took to keep her numbness firmly in place. From that, there was nowhere to go but up, right?

So fucking wrong.

Rock bottom was signing her name on that marriage certificate.

When Keira was a little girl, she’d spent hours upon hours planning her wedding. The flowers would be purple and white hyacinths. They’d have cupcakes instead of one massive cake—more purple and white. She’d design her own dress and it’d be the most beautiful thing anyone had ever seen.

Instead, she was married in a dirty courthouse room with one flickering light, the faint smell of piss, and an official who couldn’t be bothered to have the vows memorized. This wasn’t a marriage. It was a goddamn business transaction, and not one that she’d come out on top of.

Dmitri jerked his chin at the two men he’d had act as witnesses, and then led the way out of the room. The courthouse passed in a blur, and she shivered as they stepped out into the September night. Keira clutched Dmitri’s suit jacket closer around her. She should have thrown it in his face the second she woke up wearing it, but it was too cold for pride to have a foothold. And it smells like him. Considering it was his fault she was here in this situation, she shouldn’t find his scent comforting, but her body didn’t give a fuck about circumstances. It hadn’t gotten the memo that wanting Dmitri Romanov was bad for both her health and what little sanity she had left.

“It’s done.” She hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but the words were there and the sky didn’t fall. She’d married Dmitri Romanov and the world hadn’t ended. Go figure. “I suppose you have a victory parade planned to shout your superiority from the rooftops.”

His lips twitched in something that was almost a smile. “The parade will have to wait. We have work to do.”

“Oh man, is there a tiny slice of New York that you don’t already own? Tragic.” She shivered, her teeth clicking together, ruining a perfectly good snarky comment.

“Expanding my territory will have to wait, too.” He touched the small of her back, guiding her down the steps toward where the car waited. “Having my wife freeze to death on our wedding day might put a damper on things.”


I am Dmitri Romanov’s wife.

It didn’t feel real. No, that was a lie. It felt entirely too real. As if her darkest fantasies had come to life and were playing out in front of her eyes. That was the problem with fantasies, though, they weren’t real. Dmitri hadn’t married her so he could orgasm her into submission and they could spend their days figuring out new ways to fuck.

He’d married her because he needed an O’Malley wife to prove to his enemies that he was the baddest motherfucker in town. He didn’t want a partner. He wanted a trophy.


  • "For the first time I could relate to someone for falling for such a really very, very bad boy, because Dmitri is irresistible but oh so dangerous! THE BASTARD'S BARGAIN might be the best book in this outstanding series."—Fresh Fiction
  • "Robert writes fantastic character-driven romances with the most unforgettable heroines and the most compelling antiheroes."—USA Today, Happy Ever After on The Bastard's Bargain
  • "Off the charts hot! A Desert Isle Keeper."—All About Romance on The Bastard's Bargain
  • "The O'Malley series is one of my all-time favorites. The stories are fast-paced, gritty, sexy and downright riveting."—USA Today Happy Ever After

On Sale
Oct 30, 2018
Page Count
368 pages

Katee Robert

About the Author

Katee Robert (she/they) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Entertainment Weekly calls their writing “unspeakably hot.” Their books have sold over a million copies. They live in the Pacific Northwest with their husband, children, a cat who thinks he’s a dog, and two Great Danes who think they’re lap dogs.

Learn more about this author