Bay just asked me if I'm her father.
Hannah has impeccable timing. She's on the phone with her boss, or pretending to be, the moment that she hears Bay's voice.
"Yes," I say. I don't intend to lie to Bay. It wasn't my choice not to be involved in her life from the beginning.
She brings the glass of juice to her lips with two hands and finishes the drink. "More juice?"
"Does your mom let you have more juice?" I ask.
Bay's lips close, but her smile grows wider as she tilts her chin up at me. I'm guessing that's a no. "Please?"
I refill Bay's glass halfway with orange juice. It beats having to talk about being her biological father with her. That's a conversation for Hannah to partake in when the time is right.
Bay brings the glass to her lips with two hands and sips at her orange juice.
Hannah breezes back into the kitchen and hands me back my cell phone.
"Is everything okay with work?"
"Yeah, I have to go in later this afternoon to cover a shift. Any chance I can have you swing by the preschool and pick Bay up?" Hannah tugs her bottom lip between her teeth.
Is she nervous, asking me to look after Bay?
"I think I can handle that," I say. "Assuming the school lets me take her home."
"When I drop her off this morning, I'll make sure to add you to the pickup list."
"And remove Mark from that list."
I don't want him showing up and kidnapping Bay. The man is already unhinged. Any opportunity that he has to get to Hannah and hurt her, I wouldn't put it past him.
Bay finishes her glass of orange juice, and then the three of us head to the car. There's an extra booster seat in the garage from Mikhail's sister's kids, the twins, who lived at the compound.
I grab the booster and secure it into the backseat before Bay climbs into the car.
"You just happen to have a spare booster seat?" Hannah's brow is tight, and she folds her arms across her chest.
"Like the toys I gave to Bay the other day to play with, the booster seat was for Mikhail's niece and nephew. There used to be twins running around the halls."
Hannah smiles weakly. "I can't imagine. Although the house does seem more child-proof than I would have thought." She climbs into the front seat passenger side once she's satisfied that Bay is buckled into the booster seat.
The car is a push button, and I start the engine, waiting for Hannah to buckle her seatbelt. "Do you want me to swing by the grocery store to pick up a few breakfast items now, or do we have time to grab a bite out to eat?" I don't know what time Bay is supposed to be at preschool.
"Just stop at the grocery store and I'll run in really quick," Hannah says.
I'm not thrilled about her going anywhere alone, but I doubt Mark will be there. I've already run my plans by Mikhail, taking the day to help Hannah. He was agreeable, especially after last night and Mark showing up at the compound.
I exit through the gates and head onto the main road, ensuring that we're not being followed.
"Are you sure he won't be at the house?" Hannah asks, glancing at me as I head toward the grocery store.
She fidgets with her hands. I can sense she's anxious, and while she's trying to portray that she's calm and collected for Bay, I see right through the charade.
"If he is, he won't stick around." I have a spare gun in the glovebox. I'm not packing heat on me. The last thing I want is for Hannah to ask questions and grow fearful of what I do for a living.
Besides, I don't plan on leaving Hannah alone until I drop her off at work, and even without a weapon, I can take out Mark's ass single-handedly.
"I hope you're right," Hannah whispers. She glances out the side window and emits a soft sigh.
"Do you want to stay in the car while I run into the grocery store?"
She smiles weakly and shakes her head. "That isn't necessary. I'll be quick. In and out in just a few minutes."
I'd have asked one of Mikhail's other guards to come with us if I was worried, but Hannah will be fine.
I keep glancing in the rearview. There's traffic but no vehicles following us. It also helps that I ditched the sim card for Hannah's phone because I'm sure that's how Mark tracked her down last night.
I pull up to the front of the store and unlock the vehicle. Hannah hurries out and straight inside through the automatic doors.
In under five minutes, she's back with two plastic bags of groceries. "All that for breakfast?" I ask as she climbs back into the car.
"Bay is going to need to bring a bagged lunch to preschool. And I'll have her eat breakfast when she gets there, too, rather than have her wear yogurt and get it all over your car."
I chuckle. "The car can be detailed. It's not a big deal. What time do I pick her up?"
Hannah grabs the seatbelt and yanks it across her chest, snapping the buckle into the latch. "Pick-up is at 2:30."
"I'll make sure I'm there early. Relax," I say and reach over, resting my hand on her arm. "I can handle looking after my daughter."
Hannah inhales a sharp breath.
"What?" I ask.
She glances back at Bay, who doesn't seem even slightly interested in our conversation. "What did you say when she asked if you were her—"
"Daddy?" I repeat Bay's earlier remark. "Yes. I wasn't going to lie to my daughter, but I also didn't get into an explanation about it."
"Okay, good." Hannah's shoulders relax.