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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 


Monday morning brought an exodus toward Denver. Sebastián and Rosario had the Hawaiian Islands as their eventual destination. The Chicagoans were headed home joined by Rod and Taisha. Randy and Ty planned a New Year’s Eve party CJ and Owen had declined the invitation to, wanting to spend more time with Ritch and the fathers.

As soon as the airport transport left, Ritch tackled cleaning the room his aunt, Melissa Griffon, would occupy when she arrived later in the day. The relative Brett and César had searched for in vain when Ritch’s parents died, had surfaced during his first year at the Air Force Academy. Win and Sara Bender, his roommate Will’s parents, had invited him and their friend, Melissa to Thanksgiving dinner. The fortuitous reunion had rippled through the family.

The fathers had been apprehensive of her intentions but a discrete background check revealed the woman was exactly what she claimed to be: a hard worker delighted to unearth a nephew whose existence she had never considered. Over the subsequent year, after discovering her existence, Ritch had remained in contact with her. She had seen pictures of everyone and briefly chatted with some when Ritch called her while in D.C. But she had yet to meet any of the others in person.

The previous year, Melissa had gifted Ritch a T-Rex tooth she had recovered during a fossil-hunting dig. He had it mounted for display, and it currently resided on a shelf by the fireplace. Ritch ran a rag over it and the other items exhibited nearby.

“Stop cleaning, bro. You’ve dusted that thing a dozen times already.” While waiting for their new guests to arrive, CJ and Owen sat on the floor playing with Liebe. The girl was fascinated by the brightly colored geometric forms she tried to fit into their proper slot on a cube. The toy had been one of her Christmas presents.

Ritch sighed and collapsed in an armchair. “I just want them to get here already.” Moments later, when a car horn blared outside, he jumped. “I’ll get it!”

Ritch propelled himself from where he sat and was by the front door a moment later. A blast of frigid air blew in as soon as he opened it; the weather forecast predicted a severe temperature drop, strong winds, and snow by nightfall. “Damn, it’s cold.” Ritch had not been outside that day yet. “Did you have a good drive?” Melissa and Will had texted him when they left Wyoming some six hours earlier. “Where’s your luggage?” The visitors each carried a bottle of bourbon, but he did not see any bags.

CJ was amused by his brother’s antics. “Bro! You’re babbling.”

“RITCHIE! Let them the fuck in and close the damn door. Are you trying to heat the outside or freeze us?” Sporting a wide smile, Brett approached the new arrivals. “Will! Dude! You’re looking well, you little shit.” Fist bumping the young man he had spent time with while visiting the Air Force Academy, Brett turned his attention to the woman standing next to the cadet; she seemed hesitant to say anything. Brett turned on the charm. “Welcome to Falcons Lair, Melissa. So very nice to meet you. I’m Brett Davenport, one of your nephew’s dads.”

She exhaled and seemed to relax. “You’re the Marine. Even if I didn’t know it before, barking orders the way you just did would have clued me in. How the fuck are ya, Cap?”

Ritch, along with everyone else, lost it. The laughter was hearty. CJ loved the banter and left his seat to join the group at the entrance. “Oh, I like her already. I haven’t seen anyone shock Papa like that in a long time. Ritch was right: you’ll fit right in with this bunch. I’m CJ, in case you forgot what I look like.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah…” She hugged CJ and winked at Ritch as they disengaged. “I know who you are, but who I really want to meet’s your daughter.”

“Uhhh, burn, bro. Nobody cares who you are these days.”


Liebe had been sitting on Owen’s lap, when he placed her on the floor, she ran-stumbled towards the group at the front door, chastising her father for using a grownup word.

Before CJ could reply, Melissa snatched the girl up. “You’re even cuter in person.”

“You shouldn’t have done that, Melissa.” Brett grasped the woman’s shoulder and gave it a shake. “You’re now fair game for these fuckers.”

Self-appointed the family’s language monitor, Liebe criticized Brett’s choice of words too.

CJ ran a hand down his daughter’s back to soothe her. “We’re sorry, Liebe. We’ll try not to use grownup words when you’re around again. Forgive us. I got excited. Grandpa’s just stupid. I’m sure Grandad will put him in time out later.”

“And on that note…” César had approached the group and extended a hand to Melissa. “Abandon all hope of sanity, ye who enter. César Abelló, the other father.”

Melissa smiled, handed Liebe to Ritch, and hung her quilted, full-length coat on one of the racks by the door. She and Will followed César to the kitchen after he offered them refreshments.


The adults, except for Aba who remained inside with Liebe, huddled under the deck’s gas heater, bundled up against the cold. “Jarhead, we need another unit.” César shivered. “I’m going on Amazon and ordering one.”

“Whatever. I’m feeling warmer by the minute.” Brett took another sip and picked up the Widow Jane bottle on the table. “This is excellent, Melissa. I’d never tasted it before. Thank you.”

Cocooned in the family’s security, Ritch had eagerly accepted a drink when Brett offered. He encouraged Will to do the same. Both declined the Cuban Cohibas CJ and Owen had carried from Mexico, but the rest of the men lit up, and a blue haze soon surrounded them.

“You’re welcome. Thank you for inviting me down.” Melissa choked up and dabbed at her eyes with a napkin. “And I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for Ritch. I’m not sure if he told you, but I nearly fainted when I first saw him. He resembles his father at a young age so much.”

“Yeah, but my brother’s not a dick like yours was.” CJ later admitted meeting the woman had brought back painful memories. Memories he had previously claimed did not bother him any longer.

“CJ! Don’t be an ass!” Owen punched his husband’s biceps. “That’s a horrible thing to say!”

Melissa chuckled. “Don’t be too hard on him, Owen. He is right. My brother was a dick when he was young, and it sounds as if things didn’t change much. Talking to Ritch over the past year”—she pointed at Brett and César“I’ve figured out you two raised him right.” Melissa sipped from her tumbler. “Although looks and smarts are inherited, the way he treats others with respect is learned behavior.”

“Yeah, he treats everyone with respect except when cougar hunting. Then he’s a beast.” Will high-fived CJ who had repeatedly teased his brother after hearing about Ritch hooking up with a woman ten years his senior.

“You’re dead, Bender.” Ritch shook his head and nodded at his brother. “And you… you better not give me any more shit. Isn’t Ozzie ten years older than you too?”

“Fuck you, mate. It’s only six.”

César raised his hand. “I’m six years older than Brett. In case anyone cares.” His crooked grin elicited a couple of chuckles. “Anyway, Ritch, don’t you have something for your aunt?”

“Oh, shit, yeah. Almost forgot.” Reaching into his coat, he withdrew an envelope. “Just so you know, yesterday we changed the family foundation’s name. Mr. A said it doesn’t matter for this check anyway.”

Melissa closed her eyes and appeared deep in thought. “It’s been the CBC Foundation for a bit, right? I read the little history included with the contribution you made last year.”

“Yep. But since there’s five of us, and only three had their initials on the name, Ozzie and I decided it wasn’t fair. So we pushed for it to revert to the original: The Davenport Family Foundation.” Ritch appeared glad Melissa seemed to follow his convoluted explanation. “Anyway”he slid the envelope towards her“that’s a little something for the rescue center.”

“Thanks, guys. Really, thank you.” As she spoke, she glanced inside the unsealed envelope, and her eyes widened. “Holy, fucking, shit! A hundred grand?” Flanking her, Ritch and CJ were probably the only ones able to hear the immediate apology over language, thanks to their companions’ raucous response.

Through the commotion, César was somehow capable of uttering a few words. “We hope you can put it to good use.”

“Are you kidding?” She leaned over and planted a noisy kiss on Ritch’s cheek. “Thank you. Our medical shed’s falling apart, and this will ensure we can rebuild and improve it. Thank you.”

“Okay, enough of the sappy gratitude.” Brett raised his glass. “A toast. To Melissa and Ritch finding each other, and to the Bar Nunn Rescue Center.”

“Hear, hear!” CJ leaned against Owen and squirreled around until his head rested on his husband’s shoulder. “One of these days we’ll have to go see it.”

“Yes!” Melissa nearly jumped out of her seat. “All of you. All of you have to come for a visit.”

“I’d like that.” Brett glanced at César, who nodded. “Listen, what about we follow you home and check the place out? Once we get rid of the geezer and the children, the two of us have a few days before we have to be in Washington.”

Between leftovers and the microwave, everyone pitched in to cobble together a meal. Later that evening, CJ, Owen, Ritch, and Will found themselves in the hot tub, sipping bourbon, and planning the remainder of their vacation.


“You can’t let go of my hands, Liebe.” CJ tightened the grip on his daughter so the excited child could not escape him.

Although too young to enroll in ski school, the girl now owned some of the smallest boots and skis Rossignol manufactured. CJ had insisted on buying them, even though it would be a year or two before they properly fit her.

“Good to go, Ceej.” Owen pointed the phone at his husband and daughter, ready to capture her initial effort on skis.

While the rest of their group had dispersed as soon as they arrived, CJ, Owen, and Aba had found a picnic table on the heated, outdoor terrace facing the bunny slope. CJ stuck his daughter’s feet into the boots, stood her on the skis until the bindings clicked, and straddled her.

Owen leaned over the railing separating the eating patio from the edge of the slopes. “Don’t let go of CJ, Liebe.”

The girl smiled at him before tilting her head back to stare at her other father.

“You ready?” CJ grinned and stared at the camera when Liebe nodded. “She ready. Let’s do this, munchkin.” CJ moved his right foot forward, taking a large step. “Okay, Liebe, you slide the same foot.”

The girl tried to lift her right leg.

“No, no, Liebe. It’s hard to lift your foot when the skis are on. Shuffle. Like we do at home when we wear socks.” Stockinged feet sliding over hardwood floors was a common event and the girl grasped the concept.

“You’re doing it, Liebe. You’re doing it.” Owen sounded as excited as his daughter acted. “Look at her, mate. We got us a little skier!”

“I go alone.” After half a dozen slides, the girl apparently imagined she had mastered snow skiing. She wrenched her mittened hands out of her father’s, tried to move, and promptly landed on her behind.

Once again, as she had done after slipping on slick sidewalks and falling, Liebe laughed. Encumbered by the skis, she was unable to flip over and stand. CJ came to her rescue.

“See why I said don’t let go of my hands?” CJ stood her and again straddled her. “It’s more fun if we do it together, okay?” Liebe nodded.

By the time Ritch and Will joined them, CJ and Owen had switched positions a few times, constantly repeating the process to Liebe’s delight. However, she showed signs of tiring out.

“Bro, you and Oz go do a run. We’ll hang with Liebe and Aba while you do.” Ritch’s offer was accepted, he and Will ordered hot cocoa they surreptitiously fortified from Ritch’s flask, and CJ and Owen headed toward the lift.

Shortly after noon, they stopped at the ski shop for a few minutes, before the group headed back to the house. Lunch and rest were on the agenda for the afternoon.

Due to Heinrich’s limited capacity, the distance involved, and the lateness of the return trip, Brett hired a shuttle bus and driver for the outing. Liebe’s noise-canceling headphones came in handy inside the raucous Ball Arena. Denver’s National Basketball Association’s franchise, the Nuggets, faced off and defeated the Sacramento Kings.

By the time they re-boarded the hired vehicle, Liebe had been on everyone’s lap. Active during the first half of play, she dozed off during the break. Olga had cradled the toddler for the final quarter.

When she made a move to reclaim her great-granddaughter, CJ shook his head. “I’ll take care of her, Aba. Thanks, but you’ve already done more than your babysitting share tonight. Way more than we expected.”

“Bah! I like looking after her.”

“Did you enjoy the game?”

“It was fun. I’m so used to you guys watching on TV and screaming at the screen, seeing the game live was a good experience. You’re not the only crazy ones when it comes to sports.”

If CJ was surprised his seventy-year-old grandmother had enjoyed a professional basketball game, his eyebrows nearly met his scalp when she announced she wanted to go horseback riding with them the following morning. “I haven’t done it since I was a kid in Cuba. Might as well try it once again before my time’s done.”

Nobody complained when Owen suggested the activity, and Melissa, Will, and Ritch showed up properly attired wearing cowboy boots. CJ tsked. “I’ve seen some nice ones in Mexico; Ozzie and I may have to go shopping when we get back.”

If Olga’s willingness to mount a horse left him flabbergasted, when she moved from walking to trotting to a canter, he lost it. “Yee-haw! Cowgirl up.”

Her sense of adventure faltered later in the day; she had no interest in skiing, much less doing so under artificial lights. She remained at Falcons Lair with Liebe and Melissa who claimed her night vision was not good enough. The men headed to Keystone. CJ profusely thanked Ritch and Will for insisting he purchase proper goggles the previous day. He took both with him and the difference between regular ones and the specialized set was marked. “It’s like night and day,” he commented to everyone’s boos for the lame joke.

If Olga astonished everyone by wanting to go horseback riding in snow, when she agreed to ride behind Ritch on a snowmobile the next morning, jaws dropped. “I think we may need a priest.” CJ’s comment caused additional confusion.

“Say what? My heathen husband wants a priest?” Owen was visibly finding it difficult to maintain his composure. “Next thing we know, you’re gonna want to go to church.”

“Only if it’s architecturally significant. Right now we need an exorcism. A wild demon has taken over Aba.”

Olga still complained about the cold temperatures, but bundled in multiple layers and with battery-powered warmers inside her mitts and boots, she claimed she could manage. Because Ritch had his grandmother, and CJ had strapped Liebe in front of him, the brothers rode sedately. Even at the low speeds, a couple of hours spent following their guide left everyone tired but in good spirits.

In the late afternoon, CJ, Owen, Ritch, and Will once again headed to Keystone for slope time under the lights. Back in Vail, they found César and Brett in the hot tub, cocktails by their side, and cigars in their hands. The four young men stripped to their underwear and joined the fathers.

While blowing a perfect smoke ring, Owen smacked his forehead. “Crap! We forgot about Penn State, Ceej.”

“You’re right. Dad, I left one contribution we made out of the list I sent you.”

César handled the foundation’s disbursements, including matching donations made by board members. “Penn State? What made you give them money?”

“Cody White. He’s an archeologist we met in Tulum. We bumped into each other at the gym, we mentioned we were touring the Mayan ruins that afternoon, and he offered to go with us.”

“He’s working at Chichén Itzá as part of an advanced degree from the school, so we sent a donation to the archeology program. I’ll email you the details. Can you send them a check?”

“Will do.” César dropped his cigar butt in the ashtray resting on the deck and stood. “I’m done for tonight. Going to bed now, guys. I want to go skiing with you tomorrow morning.”


“Dammit, Ozzie! Stop moving around.” Ritch’s frustration was a result of trying to adjust the helmet camera atop his brother-in-law’s head. Will had already strapped another one on Brett. The goal was to record the cadets bombing the mountain.

“Why am I wearing this damn thing? Shouldn’t your brother be doing it instead?”

“You know I’m allergic to helmets, Oz.” Anticipating his husband’s reaction, CJ slid out of reach of Owen’s pole.

“This is too complicated for me.” Brett sounded frustrated. “What happened to just getting on the board and hurtling down the mountain as fast as you can.”

“We’ll get there, Cap. We’ll get there. But by doing this, we might end up with a cool enough video for social media.” It was obvious this was not Will’s first time using the device. When he turned to look at Brett, he moved his head slowly to avoid jarring images.

“It’s a generational thing, Jarhead.” César had been watching the process with an amused expression. “If whatever they’re doing doesn’t get a certain number of likes, it didn’t happen.”

“And it might help us get laid if we show it to some rando in the future.” Ritch’s cavalier attitude towards sexual encounters had earned him plenty of ribbing, but he appeared oblivious to what CJ called testosterone overload behavior. “We ready? Go, dads!”

As previously agreed, Brett and César were the first down the mountain. When they could no longer be seen, Ritch and Will took off, with CJ and Owen following as close as possible. The plan was for the fathers to reach the bottom, turn around, and immortalize the cadets’ approach. CJ and Owen would record their slide from behind, while Will’s camera captured the ground ahead.

Skiers and boarders usually weaved right and left to control the speed of their descent and maneuver around others on the mountain. Whether it was due to the lateness of the hour, or the fact it was New Year’s Eve, there weren’t a lot of people around; a collision was not as much of a worry as during peak time.

Ritch and Will took off in a straight line and barely deviated from it. Owen tried to keep pace, but CJ decided to hold back and leisurely watch the whole thing. As the cadets flew down the slope, their speed increased until they were a blur. Their goal was to reach the bottom as fast as possible. Hitting anything going as fast as they were could easily be fatal but the two youngsters had obviously been spending a lot of time boarding. They effortlessly maneuvered around any obstacles.

Their run was flawless, and CJ marveled at the control they exhibited. There was no way he could match their moves. He wasn’t sure if Owen slowing was due to caution or fear, but as the run’s conclusion neared, the cadets pulled away.

Near the end, with Ritch and Will constantly exchanging the lead, both threw their arms up in a victory salute. Unbalanced, they stumbled, crashed into the snow, and rolled the last twenty yards or so. Clumps of snow flew in every direction, and powder rose, coalescing into an enveloping mist.

CJ was certain they were fine, but bent his knees deeper and accelerated toward the fallen boarders. By the time he skidded to a stop, adding to the cloud of frozen matter, Ritch and Will were standing.

Hanging onto each other, they tried to jump and chest bump. CJ laughed when all they accomplished was another tumble to the ground. He kicked off his skis, lifted his sunglasses, and walked the few steps to where his fathers stood. “What do you think?”

César winked at CJ. “Brett’s jealous.”

“Damn right I am! I’m sticky with all this jelly.” When Brett turned to look at his husband and son, his expression presaged one of his zingers. “Either that or I got so excited I spooged.”


CJ high-fived the retired marine. “What? You can’t do what a couple of cadets can?”

“Nope. Not unless I spent a year boarding as much as those two. Man, I thought I could move. But that shit? That was next level. Fucking awesome.”


Because Ritch and Will were both underage and unable to drink in public, New Year’s Eve was low-key. Unlike the previous year, CJ did not insist on keeping Liebe up for midnight. The girl fell asleep at the restaurant and did not wake up until the next morning.

She was the chirpiest first thing January 1; her fathers, uncle, and his roommate had polished off an entire bottle of tequila while watching the festivities on TV. The day was spent recovering. Eating, hot-tubbing, and college football occupied the remainder of their time.

Sunday morning Falcons Lair emptied. Ritch and Will returned to Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy. Brett and César, driving Heinrich, set off after Melissa towards Wyoming and a visit to the Bar Nunn Animal Rescue Center. CJ, Owen, and Liebe headed to Denver International Airport and their return flight to Mexico City. Aba accompanied them; her Miami flight left soon after theirs.


CJ tapped the magazine Owen had been reading. “You looking forward to it?”

“Are you serious? That’s over ten years away!”

“Never too early to start planning. We’ve got twenty-eight covered because of the Malibu house, but we’ll have to find a place to stay in thirty-two.”

The cover had drawn Owen’s attention when they stopped at the airport newsstand; the sports magazine promised an in-depth look at plans for the 2032 Summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee had awarded the games to Brisbane. In 2028 Los Angeles would be the host city and the family planned to use the beach house as their base of operations. Everyone was interested in attending.

Owen shook his head and grinned. “It still amazes me how my life has changed since I met you.”

CJ was not about to let the opening be wasted. “You’re now deliriously happy all the time?”

“Wanker. No, but it’s often enough. What I meant was not only all the people I’ve met because of you but the fact we’re sitting here, discussing attending the Olympic Games ten plus years from now as if we were planning to go see a movie.” Owen handed the publication over. “Look at the last article. Even more than attending events, that one illustrates what I’m feeling. Who would have thought an Australian farm boy would become an attorney and end up getting mentioned in national magazines.”

“What?” CJ had no idea what his husband was talking about.

“You get a mention too. It’s a profile of Luke Prokop, he credits Riley and Phil with influencing his decision. The author included a quote from Phil, mentioning you and me as friends who influenced how he and Riley have become active in the community.”

In 2020, Riley Knight and Phil Martinez had been selected by the National Football League’s Washington and Baltimore franchises respectively. The same year, Canadian teenager Luke Prokop was drafted by the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators.

After signing a contract in the summer of 2021, Prokop came out.

“You’re shitting me.” CJ opened the magazine and scanned the table of contents. “I hope he makes it, and we get to meet him.”

“Pretty cool all these gay athletes are feeling comfortable enough to leave the closet.”

“That it is. But to be honest, I hope it stops being such big news sometime soon. I mean, players don’t proclaim their heterosexuality when they’re drafted, and I hope one day being gay won’t lead to headlines.”

Copyright © 2021 Carlos Hazday; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you to my support team, you improved the story. Any remaining errors are my responsibility. And thank you to all readers for supporting me. I hope to hear from you.
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Story Discussion Topic

I miss interacting with readers. And since CDMX won't be published for a while, how about a look at part of chapter one?  
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