A Simple Love Story

Chapter 4

The kids were immersed in the movie in no time, although they spent most of their time talking about what was coming next and whether it was their favorite part. It was easier than either Erica or Callie had anticipated slipping out of the living room and into the kitchen.

"Coffee?" asked Callie. "I make a pretty decent cup, although a little on the strong side."

"That would be great," said Erica spreading her arms along the countertop of the large island and leaning forward.

Erica was nervous. She was having inappropriate reactions to Callie's innocent behavior and she needed to quell that. She tried not to think about their interactions this evening, because if she did she would convince herself that Callie had been flirting with her ever since she walked into Callie's house after the impromptu hunt for a phone number at the house across the street. It had been nothing but friendly banter and conversation all day as they were driving around various neighborhoods, but here in Callie's space, something had changed.

The casual touches started from the moment Erica stepped into the house. Callie met her at the door, a look of excitement on her face. She placed a hand on Erica's stomach as if stopping Erica's forward motion. Erica was in the process of removing her jacket and Callie's touch was electric. Erica had looked down at the hand touching her, slowing her movements as she stared. That seemed to distract Callie who removed her hand and started helping Erica take off her jacket. After that it was getting pulled into the kitchen, Callie's hand around her wrist, Callie imploring her to sit, hands on her shoulders, a hand at her back as Callie inspected her chopping skills while she stood cutting carrots into bite sized strips for their pre-dinner snack. It was driving Erica nuts, especially since she wanted to reciprocate. It seemed natural to place her hand at Callie's waist as she reached around her to retrieve the small dishes for the carrots or bumping into Callie as they both stood putting the raw veggie appetizer together. Despite the touches, the woman was still straight and therefore not interested. Erica needed to remember that.

Callie was bustling around the kitchen, but looking at Erica's distracted face. "So, how long has he been calling you Mom?" she asked casually.

Erica's eyebrows went up.

"Noticed that, did you? I don't know. A couple of weeks maybe? I haven't really said anything to him about it." She frowned. "I don't know what I should do about it so I guess I've just done nothing."

"It's natural," said Callie. "You are his parent now, so it's natural. Does he talk about his mom and dad at all?"

The coffee started percolating as Callie asked the question. She stood with her back to the coffee maker, facing Erica who was nervously tracing illogical patterns on the marble counter-top.

"A little. He'll pick up a book and tell me how his mom or dad would read it to him. He was quiet for a long time. He wouldn't talk about anything. He saw a therapist for awhile because God knows I didn't know how to deal with it. I could barely deal with my own grief, so I thought I better let a professional handle him. It was good for him, for both of us actually. We had a few sessions together where we talked about what happened. I found out things that made the adjustment easier. He was scared that he wouldn't be able to stay with me because he thought that people that didn't have kids didn't really want them and that I didn't really want him." She ran her hands through her hair.

"Anyway, we worked out a lot out. I still don't know what I'm doing. Like this Mom thing. I don't know if I should say anything to him about it."

"Do you respond to him when he calls you Mom?"

"Yes, but I don't know if I should. Does it just confuse him? I don't want him to forget his Mom or Dad. I want to respect their memory, but I want him to be comfortable and if he feels comfortable calling me Mom, who am I to argue?"

Erica pushed away from the island. She looked at Callie

"Am I screwing up? Should I be clarifying it for him?" she asked.

"No, just do what you've been doing. Like I said, it's natural for him to call you that. He seems like a really smart kid. Right now, Mom is a role. It's a role you're playing now. He won't forget his Mom and Dad, especially if you still talk about them. But you're obviously his Mom now, so you should let him call you that. I think if you tried to challenge him, it would confuse him."

"Thanks. I appreciate that. I'm usually lost in the mom department."

"Give yourself more credit. You seem to be doing fine."

Callie turned to check on the coffee which was emitting a wonderfully strong, rich smell that Erica thought was laced with just a touch of sweetness. Since they were getting pretty personal and the question had been nagging at her, she decided to ask it.

"You can tell me it's none of my business, but is Allie's dad in the picture?" asked Erica, unsure if she was crossing a line.

Callie smiled. "That's okay. No, he's not. It's um...a long story if you're up for it. I hope you like milk because I do a killer Mexican cafe con leche."

Erica's eyes brightened. "I don't think I've ever had that, but it smells delicious."

Callie busied herself heating up milk as she started her story. It was unusual for her to tell the story or to even want to tell the story. The only people that really knew were her family and a few friends from med school that she was no longer in contact with. Addison had been her closest friend at Seattle Grace until she moved to Los Angeles and even she didn't know everything. Callie didn't like talking about it. She hated going back to that time, always managing to feel the same fear and disappointment that had been a constant companion during her pregnancy whenever she told the story. But Erica was being open with her about Lucas and it just felt right sharing. It was like having a real friend again, one of those really good girlfriends doesn't judge; the kind of friend you could be vulnerable with and they would just know what you needed.

"I met him my first year in med school. He was very, very attractive and incredibly charming. I mean Adonis attractive and for some reason he was interested in me. As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm not beauty queen material and I think I just fell for him because it was such a fantasy. I thought it was impossible for someone like him to be interested in me, but he was." She was stirring the milk slowly and paused in the telling to check the temperature.

"You're beautiful Callie," she heard Erica say in a tone that sent shivers down her spine and warmed her body in interesting ways. She looked at Erica, not quite believing she actually meant it. She saw a serious and what she was sure was a slightly lusty look on Erica's face. It was there for a second and then it was gone.

"Trust me on this," said Erica trying to sound casual.

Callie laughed. "Okay, whatever."

She removed the milk from the stove, pulling small coffee cups down from the cabinet and began the process of mixing the hot milk and coffee.

"Anyway we embarked on a very intense involvement in our first year of med school. I was head over heels in love with him and completely expected that we would live happily ever after. What I didn't know and to this day I don't know how I didn't know, was that he had a drug problem. And when I say problem, I mean he was a dealer."

She purposely did not look at Erica's face for a reaction. She didn't want to see it. She never wanted to see people's reactions to that news. Instead she set a steaming cup of cafe con leche in front of Erica and switched gears.

"Try it and tell me what you think, but be careful because it's hot."

Erica was staring at her, but said nothing seeming to sense Callie's need for a distraction from the serious conversation they were having. She took the hot cup and started carefully blowing on it. Callie smiled at her and switched gears again.

"He was also occasionally a user and I am convinced that something he was using reacted with my birth control and I got pregnant. When I found out I was scared, but I was happy too, you know? I had this stupid idea that we would be a cool hip family of doctors. It didn't exactly work out. When he found out he went through the roof and just disappeared on me for awhile. He was still registered for classes, but he stopped showing up. I had no idea where he had disappeared to or where to even look for him. He eventually came back, but by that time it was becoming clear that things were not at all like they seemed. He was flunking out of med school and eventually I started to pay attention to the rumors about his extracurricular activities. How's the coffee?" she asked noticing that Erica had managed a few sips as she told her story.

Erica took a moment to answer as she finished sipping. "It's fantastic!" she exclaimed. "Seriously what is in this?"

Callie laughed. "A little cinnamon and a special ingredient to sweeten everything." She took a sip of her own coffee. "I'm going to just mix the whole batch of coffee with the milk I heated if you don't mind. I didn't want to do it before in case you didn't like it."

"Mind? I'm even more anxious to get that house across the street if it means I can come over and have coffee like this."

Callie smiled that full smile again and blushed slightly.

"I'm really glad you like it."

Without thought to transitions, she picked up her story again. "I hadn't really made any decisions since he had disappeared. His reaction made me go into denial. I thought when he showed up that we could finally talk, but he didn't want to talk. He wanted me to get an abortion. I was stunned, not because I think abortion is wrong, but because I thought it was wrong in this instance. I thought we loved each other. I refused and he went through the roof again. He threatened me, told me he never loved me and all sorts of other very hurtful things. Hey do you want some more coffee?" she asked Erica.

"Not yet," said Erica in a very controlled voice.

Callie looked at the cup Erica was holding and how tightly Erica's hands were wrapped around it. She reached over and touched Erica's fingers.

"Hey, you okay?"

Erica looked at her. "How could he do that to you? Jackass!"

"Yeah, he was a jackass and I was slowly coming to that realization, so I told him to leave, that I didn't want to see him again. It was a crazy time, trying to get through school, thinking about residency programs. The timing was good though. She was born at the beginning of my second year. My mother came out and helped me with her. If it wasn't for her, I don't think I would have gotten through my second year of med school. Allie was a year old when I started my internship at Seattle Grace. But David wasn't done with me. Before my residency program started, he got busted and he needed money for a lawyer. Somehow he found out..." She rubbed her face.

"I hate telling people this, but...my family is very wealthy. I mean, very wealthy. I have a trust fund and so does Allie. He started threatening to take the baby away if I didn't help him. He was going to jail so I didn't really pay attention until I got served with papers. His mother was suing me for custody, claiming that my career would not allow me to take care of the baby. It was more of a nuisance than a real threat, but my Dad ended up giving him money anyway, which was a mistake. He's tried to sue me for custody three times and my Dad has given him money all three times to get rid of him. The funny thing is that he's never asked to actually see Allie. He didn't graduate obviously and the last time I saw him things got ugly. He um threatened me with violence. I got attacked the next day. Someone stole my purse. I don't know if it was coincidence or him, which is a little uncomfortable, but he doesn't live in Seattle, so that's a bonus. It's been three years since I heard from him. I hope he's just given up."

Erica finished her coffee as Callie ended her story. Her face was taut, lips pursed. Callie could tell she was angry, really angry. She saw Erica close her eyes and shake her head getting up from her seat and engulfing Callie in a hug.

"I'm so sorry you had to go through that," she whispered into Callie's ear.

Callie hugged back. How long had it been since she hugged someone that wasn't six? She held on tight enjoying Erica's body this close to her. She let out a breath and tightened her hold when she felt Erica start to pull away.

"Thank you," she said. After a few minutes she let Erica go and stepped back giving her a shy smile. "Thank you for listening and not judging."

Erica was perplexed. "How could I judge you? He's the jerk Callie."

They were still holding hands, wanting to maintain contact. How can you feel this close to someone after knowing them such a short time?

They heard singing coming from the living room and both sets of eyes looked in that direction. "I guess the movie's done," said Erica recognizing the Randy Newman tune.

"Yeah," said Callie not really wanting the moment to end.

Erica gave Callie's hands one last squeeze before letting go and walking to the doorway of the kitchen. She looked at the kids in the living room who appeared to be either marching or doing their version of a dance to the closing credits. She laughed.

"You have to see this," she said to Callie who walked over immediately. She leaned into Erica to get a better view and smiled.

"She never dances in front of anyone," said Callie.

"I'm not sure that qualifies as dancing…for either of them," answered Erica. They stepped back into the kitchen letting the kids enjoy the music.

"We should get going, but I'd like to see you again," she stopped, laughing. "Sorry that sounds kind of like...it's not how I meant it."

Callie smiled. "That's okay. Hey do you want to take some of this coffee with you? I have to-go cups. And that way," she said looking at Erica, "You'll have an excuse to see us again."

"Right," said Erica blushing slightly. Callie proceeded to fill a to-go cup.

"Well I also owe you a dinner or two or ten..." said Erica watching her. "I'll hold you to that," said Callie handing her the warm cup.

"Okay, it'll be a date," said Erica playfully as she walked out of the kitchen.

"A date," said Callie out loud watching her walk into the living room to gather Lucas.

She rolled her eyes. What are you doing Torres? You are totally and completely flirting with her. You shouldn't do that. It's misleading. Still it was an intriguing idea - a date with Erica Hahn.

They parted shortly after with Erica promising to call her the next day with any news about the house. With a lingering look at Erica's car as she backed out of Callie's driveway, Callie closed her front door. Tomorrow was Sunday, her day off. It was rare for her to have two days off in a row, but she had asked for this Saturday specifically. She frowned. Erica would not be calling her tomorrow about the house unless the real estate agent was desperate enough to have weekend hours. She sighed. She was looking forward to Erica's call. She briefly considered a brunch invitation and was halfway to her phone when she stopped, remembering how good it had felt to hug Erica and how she had reacted to Erica at Rumors. She shook her head and immediately dismissed the brunch idea as overly clingy and co-dependent. She was an intense person, so her desire to see someone she so clearly liked was unsurprising, but other people were not as intense as she was and did not feel things as acutely as she did. She would be patient. For once, she would wait for Erica to call her.

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