I open my mouth to scream at him to get out when I realize that Bay is in his arms. Her face is red and splotchy.
"Bad dream," she sniffles and climbs out of Luka's arms.
After setting her feet down on the floor, he grabs the towel from the bathroom counter. "Sorry about interrupting you."
He's more gentlemanly than I thought, minus invading the bathroom with Bay. I thought I had locked the door, but he must have used a key to unlock it.
"I was done," I say. I'd spent long enough soaking in the water.
Grabbing the towel from his hands, I gesture for him to turn around.
I wrap the fluffy white towel around myself and unplug the tub.
Luka doesn't leave the bathroom. Although the space isn't crowded, his presence makes it feel smaller.
"Do you mind giving me some privacy?" I ask. I'm not quite ready for him to see me naked.
"Sure, I'll be just on the other side of that door." Luka heads out of the bathroom and quietly closes the door behind himself.
"Mama," Bay whines, and I bend down, hugging her and giving her a kiss. I'm trying not to get her pajamas wet, but she doesn't care.
I dry off as quickly as possible and toss my clothes on from earlier before lifting Bay into my arms as we head out of the bathroom.
Luka is seated at the edge of the bed. "I didn't know what to do with her."
"How'd you know she had a nightmare?" Bay was asleep on the second floor. I swear if he went downstairs and woke her so that he could steal a peek at me in the bath, I'll kill him.
"She climbed out of bed and started crying out in the hallway. One of the guards, Nikita, found her, and when he couldn't locate you, he came knocking on my door."
Bay rests her head on my shoulder and buries her hands against my chest as she snuggles up against me. I'm doing my best to keep my voice calm. I don't want to startle Bay. She's finally settling down and hopefully about to fall back to sleep.
"Why would he do that?" I ask.
"He knows about my relationship to you and Bay," Luka says.
There's no reason to hide it, but I'm surprised that word travels fast among Luka's colleagues. "Does everyone know?" I ask.
Luka shrugs. "Does it matter?"
He's right, it shouldn't, and soon enough those who don't know will find out. "It's late. We should be going to bed." I rub Bay's back, and she wiggles against me. Her breathing deepens, and I hope she'll fall asleep quickly once we get back to bed.
"Would you like me to walk you back to your room?"
"I think we can find it," I say. I head for the bedroom door, and Luka opens it for me.
"Let me carry Bay down the stairs."
As tempting an offer as that is, I doubt Bay will agree, and she's finally quiet. "I don't want to upset her. We'll be fine. Thank you, Luka."
I stroll out of his room with Bay in my arms and carefully navigate the stairs back to our bedroom. I tuck Bay under the covers. She instantly rolls onto her stomach, and her eyes shut as she drifts back to sleep.
It takes me longer to fall asleep, but it's late, and in a few hours, I'll have to be up and awake for Bay.
* * *
Dawn breaks before I'm ready to face the day. Bay has other ideas, bouncing on the bed, attempting to tickle me and making sure that I'm awake with her.
"Come on, let's get you ready for preschool."
After I shower and dress, I help Bay get out of her pajamas and put her in a romper. Brushing her hair, I style it into pigtails to keep it from getting tangled.
We hurry downstairs when we're finished getting ready, and I lift her onto the stool to sit at the counter for breakfast.
"Looking for something?" Luka asks.
I didn't hear Luka come into the kitchen. I glance back at him. He's already dressed in a classy black suit and tie with a crisp white shirt underneath.
"Cereal. Yogurt. Oatmeal. Something to feed Bay," I say, hoping that he'll have at least one of those items in the fridge or pantry.
"There's pancake batter. Eggs and bacon are also in the fridge."
Bay scrunches her nose and sticks out her tongue. None of those sound desirable to my kid. She's incredibly picky, and it doesn't matter how many different foods I encourage her to try; she always sticks to the same things.
"We can swing by the store this morning on the way to your apartment and pick up something she'll eat," Luka says.
"I need to drop her off at preschool before going to the apartment."
Luka steps farther into the kitchen, past the island and counter. He opens the fridge and grabs a bottle of orange juice. "Do you like this stuff?" he asks, shaking the bottle and eyeing Bay.
She nods vigorously, a huge grin spreading across her face.
"She doesn't get juice that often," I say.
"What mother doesn't give her kid orange juice?" Luka asks.
I fold my arms across my chest. "Are you questioning my parenting choices?" He's known he's a father for a weekend, and already, he thinks he knows what's best for my daughter.
With the orange juice bottle in one hand, Luka holds his arms up in surrender. "I didn't intend for this to be a fight."
I fumble through the cabinets, searching for drinkware. After opening the fourth cabinet, I reach for the smaller-sized juice glass and place it on the counter.
"Is this for you or Bay?" Luka asks.
"Bay," I say.
He fills the glass halfway before sliding the orange juice across the counter.
"Can I borrow your phone before we head to the apartment?" I ask.
"Depends on who you plan on calling."
Does he think that I'd reach out to Mark? I didn't get enough sleep last night. I'm doing my best not to pick an argument with Luka, but everything seems to piss me off this morning.
"My boss at work. I missed yesterday's shift, and I'd like to explain to her what's going on. I would have gone in this morning to speak with her, but I should probably grab a few things from the apartment."
"What do you need from your place? I'll pick it up for you," Luka says.
"That isn't necessary. I can swing by after I drop Bay off at preschool."
Luka retrieves his cell phone from his pocket and unlocks the device before handing it to me. "I'll watch Bay while you talk to your boss."
"Thank you," I say, taking the phone from his grasp. I head out of the kitchen and dial the phone number for work. I press the phone to my ear, and just as I reach the hallway, Bay's voice carries across the room.
"Are you my daddy?" Bay asks.
I glance over my shoulder as Bay stares up at Luka and hear a rough "Hello?" on the opposite end of the phone.