AN Someone requested a new story with the kids starting off young. This is my concept. It is AU. It is different than my other stories. Let me know what you think.

Lena sighed as she looked at the paperwork on her desk. She had just ended a relationship with her long-term girlfriend after Gretchen had cheated on her. Since Gretchen had cheated with Lena's best friend, it seemed like the perfect time to get a job halfway across the country to get a fresh start. A nice charter school right on the beach was looking for a vice principal and to Lena it seemed like the perfect opportunity for her and her young daughter, Callie.

Gretchen had provided a different level of support for Lena and Callie. In fact, ever since they had adopted Callie as a toddler, Lena had been able to stay home with her baby. The break up changed everything and now Lena was working part-time this summer and would start full-time in the fall when Callie would be old enough to enter preschool. Fortunately, the preschool teacher didn't mind watching Callie during the hours Lena had to work over the summer. It gave her a few extra dollars and had already helped Callie bond with her teacher for the fall.

This afternoon, Principal Sanchez mentioned that a mother was going to be coming in for a tour and Lena would need to lead it. She was glad that she had trailed along on the last few tours given as this would be her first solo tour. After the tour she would get to pick up Callie and relax for the whole weekend with her little girl. Those thoughts would have to be enough to get her through the tour.

She heard a knock at her door and glanced up to see a lovely blond police woman standing in the doorway in uniform. "May I help you, Officer?" She asked standing up and approaching the woman.

"Yes, I am Stefanie Foster and I am looking for the Vice Principal… I think Ms. Adams. Is that you?" Lena nodded. "Well, I am here to tour the school. My son, Brandon, will be entering preschool and I have heard great things about this school."

Lena went over and shook Stef's hand. She felt an immediate connection to the woman. Lena tried to keep her feelings in check as she knew nothing about this woman. She, herself, was fresh from a break up and not really ready to let her heart get hurt again so soon. "Welcome. I am Ms. Adams, but you can call me Lena if you would like. I am new her this year also. My daughter is also entering preschool this year. The teacher, Ms. Roberts, is one of the nicest people that I know."

XXXXX

At the end of the tour the two women went back into the office to talk a little more. "I am guessing you and your husband will need a day or two to decide if this is where you want Brandon, but I can send an enrollment packet home with you today if you would like."

"Um, thanks. My husband, or rather soon to be ex-husband, isn't really in a place to help me make a decision right now. He is, well, sort of taken up drinking since we separated. We were fighting a lot before then… I can't believe I am tell you this as a stranger. I haven't even really told my father yet…"

"That's okay, Stefanie. I don't mind listening if you need to get some things off of your chest. How long were you married?"

"You can call me Stef, if you want. Everyone else does. Mike and I were married for about a year happily and then the last three unhappily. All we have is Brandon. We stayed together this long because of him. Are you married?" Lena sighed. "I am sorry, that was probably too personal…"

"No, it's fine, Stef. No, I am not married. I just got out of a long-term relationship myself. My partner, Gretchen, and I adopted Callie. I think it was really over before we adopted, I just thought it would save it, you know? Now, I am a single mother."

"I am sorry to hear that. Maybe we could get our kids together to play one day soon? I think it would be good for Brandon to meet someone from his new school so that he will have friends before he starts."

"That would be good for Callie, too. Are you free for lunch tomorrow? I noticed there is a park just a few blocks from here. Callie and I would love to pack a picnic lunch for you and Brandon. Then we could talk more as the kids play."

"Tomorrow is actually my day off, so that would be perfect." Stef shook Lena's hand again before she left with the enrollment packet.

Lena gathered up the things she needed to take home and walked to her car a little happier since she had met Stef and knew she would see her again the next day. Still, Lena guarded her heart some as she knew that Stef was still married to a man. She probably was not a lesbian. As Lena got closer to her car, she noticed a note left under the windshield wiper:

"Dear Lena, I am very glad that I got to meet you today and I look forward to our time tomorrow. I realize that I forgot to give you my phone number in case you need to call. It is 342-8732, feel free to call anytime. Stef"

Lena smiled again to herself with her heart a little lighter. Not only did she meet someone new today and set up a time to see her again tomorrow, but she also gave her a phone number. The only way the day would get better is by seeing her little Callie girl.

Lena got into her car and drove to her apartment where Brenda Roberts was keeping her little girl. She walked up the stairs and opened the apartment door. Four-year old Callie dropped her crayons and ran all the way to Lena. "Mama! I missed you so much today. Ms. Roberts said you would be home soon, but it felt like so long!"

"Yes, Baby, I will always come home to you." Lena picked up her daughter and kissed her cheek. "Were you good for her today, Cals?"

"Yes, Mama. I am always good for her. She is teaching me to write my name better, do you want to see?" Lena took Callie back over to where she had been coloring. Indeed, Callie had been practicing writing her name on every page. It was looking nice. "I can write Callie really good. The Adams part is a little harder."

"You can write Callie well, Sweetheart. Not good, but well." Lena gently corrected.

"Okay, Mama, I can write Callie well. Ms. Roberts showed me how. We also counted today. I showed her that I can count all the way to twenty!"

Lena looked over at her friend, Brenda and winked. "Thank you so much, Ms. Roberts. I am so glad you were able to come over and play with Callie today. She is already learning so much with you, it makes me look forward to the fall… By the way, I met a mother of another one of your students this morning. We are getting our kids together for a playdate tomorrow so I can let you know what I think of him next week…"

"It is never a problem to play with Callie. I am also looking forward to having her in class this fall. Callie is a quick learner."

Lena hugged Brenda as she left and then sat down on the floor with her daughter. "So, Callie, like I was telling Ms. Roberts, tomorrow you are going to meet a new friend. His name is Brandon and he is going to be in preschool with you next year. His mommy is very nice and I didn't meet Brandon, but I think he will be a nice boy. We are going to make a picnic for all of us and we can go to that park you like so much."

"Does Brandon like to swing? The swings are my favorite."

"I don't know what he likes. We will have to ask him tomorrow. If he likes the slide best, can he still be your friend?" Lena asked.

"Yes, Mama. Friends don't have to like all the same things. Just like Bert and Ernie are friends. Bert likes boring stuff and Ernie likes duckies, but they are best friends. But sometimes two people can like the same things and not be friends, right Mama?"

"I guess so, why do you ask?"

"You and Mommy both like me, but you aren't friends anymore. Mommy still likes me, right Mama?" Callie looked up at Lena with her big brown eyes.

This was a complicated question. Callie called Gretchen Mommy, but in reality Gretchen was never very interested in the little girl. They adopted her to appease Lena's want of a child. Lena spent the first two years with Callie assuring her that her Mommy loved her also. After the break-up, Gretchen had made no attempt to speak with Callie even before the move. Lena was glad that Callie was only given her last name, but now wondered if Gretchen had always planned it that way.

Lena had paused too long and now Callie was looking at her pleadingly. "Isn't it right, Mama? Mommy didn't move with us, but she still likes me."

"Of course, Baby. Mama and Mommy aren't together, but both of us love our baby, Callie." Lena was pretty certain she was lying which made her uncomfortable. "Well, how would you like to watch a movie with me in my big bed?"

"I don't want to take a nap, Mama. I want to keep playing…"

"We are just going to lay down together and watch a movie. If you go to sleep it is because you are tired. Mama is feeling kind of tired."

"Okay. You can have a nap while we watch Cinderella."

Lena scooped up her little girl and grabbed the movie. Within the first few minutes they were both asleep.

XXXXXX

Stef picked up her Brandon from her father's house. She had many mixed feelings in her head since the meeting she had with the Vice Principal at Anchorage Beach Charter School. Two things she knew for sure: she was definitely enrolling Brandon there and she was very glad Lena had invited them for a picnic. She left her number on what she hoped was the right car hoping that Lena would also call.

Brandon was in a talkative mood, which sort of helped Stef to not have to think quite so much. "Mommy, do I have to go back to Grandpa's house tomorrow or can we just spend the day together?"

"I have good news for tomorrow, B! I have the day off. The two of us will have all day! Actually, I went by your school for next year and met the Vice Principal Ms. Adams. Tomorrow we are going to go to the park and meet her and her little girl, Callie. She is just your age and will be in your class when school starts. What do you think about that?"

Brandon thought for a moment. "Will she be my friend at school even though she is a girl?" This was a lot for a four-year old to process.

"I think so. If she is like her mommy she will be a very good friend for you. She just moved to town, so you can be extra nice to her, right Buddy?"

"Yes, I can. Is she pretty?"

"I am not sure, Buddy, I just met her mommy today. Her mommy is very pretty." Stef answered remembering how attractive she found Lena earlier.

"May I bring my cars to play with at the park? I will share them so that Callie can play with them, too. Please, Mommy?"

"You can take a few, Brandon, but you will have to share just like you said. Last time you took toys to the park you did not do a good job sharing if I remember right."

"Those kids weren't my friends. Callie is, so it will be good this time." Brandon answered happily. "When can I see Daddy?"

"If Daddy is feeling well, you will be able to see him this weekend." Stef had an agreement with Mike that he could see Brandon every other weekend based on whether or not he was sober. She explained it to Brandon as an illness.

"Okay. When will he get to move in? I told Grandpa that he was sick and had to leave. Grandpa asked if he was in the hospital. Is that where Daddy is?"

"Daddy is not moving in with us, B, our apartment is just for the two of us. He isn't in the hospital and I had not told Grandpa that he was sick, yet." Stef knew that her dad would be calling in a little while and now knew why he seemed to want to talk when she picked up Brandon. "Daddy and I are getting a divorce. So, it is just going to be me and you for a while. Is that okay with you?"

"Yes, Mommy except tomorrow we will play with Callie and her mommy so it won't just be us, right?"

"Right, Brandon." Stef pulled in at their apartment complex and got Brandon out of his booster seat. He had taken the divorce better than she thought that he would. Him and Mike had been close, but her and Mike had not been close for a long time. Stef took Brandon's hand and walked up the steps to their one bedroom apartment. It was small, but all she could afford at the point she decided it was time to leave. The bedroom was set up for Brandon and she crashed on the couch. Eventually she would need more, but for right now it was good. As she entered the door, her phone was ringing. "Okay, B, go play in your room right now while I talk to Grandpa."