Love Bytes says hello and welcome to author Ava Hayden joining us today to talk about new release “Highballer”.
Welcome Ava 🙂
When I started investigating tree planting as a possible topic for an MM romance, I found some online lists of tree planter slang. Interesting, but were they for real? I ran a few terms by a family member who tree planted for several years.
“Is ‘highballer’ a real word?”
He laughed. “Oh, yeah. Definitely is.”
The tree planters in my family planted many years ago, before smart phones, tablets, and internet access in camps. I did research to find out how an off-the-grid camp might function these days. A lot has changed in the tree planting world over the last couple of decades, but one thing hasn’t—it’s still one of the world’s toughest jobs.
Remy slipped out of the tent and secured the flap. He’d seen Levi watching him while he put up his tent. Remy was used to stares—one kind from straight guys, another from gay men. Women took one look at him and knew he wasn’t competition for their dating pool, except maybe for the few bi-and-out-about-it guys.
Levi was attractive with his tan and those black curls and matching eyes. But he gave off a broken vibe that made Remy wary. Just look at how Levi had responded when Remy offered to help. He took one look at me and decided the queer boy was hitting on him. Right. The last thing Remy needed was another train wreck of a boyfriend. He was here to make money. He needed to work his ass off and save. No romance. And for damn sure, no hitting on Broody McBroodface, who’s probably straight anyway.
Remy headed to the mess tent. Inside he located the charging station and plugged in his tablet. Like his phone, it was the cheapest one he could get, but he could study with it.
The camp had satellite internet running to a wireless router located in the mess tent. A hand-lettered sign laid out the rules: Respect your fellow planters. Save the big bandwidth stuff for town days. If it’s sloooowwww, try again later. People streaming video will be fed to grizzlies. Remy snickered at the final warning. When they went into town for days off, they’d be able to get a cell signal, but not here. He slipped his phone from his pocket, accessed the camp’s wireless, and thumbed in a text to John.
Remy: Arrived. Everything good so far. Thanks again for the ride.
He plugged in the phone to charge and then joined the dinner line. Lots of vegetarian and even vegan options. Will had told him to expect that. Boreal Siviculture cooks catered to the granola hippie crowd and the university students who made up the majority of their planters. “If you wind up based in a logging camp, it’ll look a lot different,” Will had added.
When Remy scanned the tent for a seat, Maggie waved him over to a table where their crew sat. Sarah sat across from Maggie, and Levi sat to Sarah’s right. Remy set down his tray at an empty seat between Maggie and Van, and she introduced the two crew members he hadn’t met yet.
“Kayla.” Directly across from him, Kayla had light brown skin and long black hair swept up in a messy knot. Her hazel eyes almost disappeared when she smiled.
“Dana.” To Kayla’s left, an Amazon with loosely braided blonde hair nodded at him. Remy didn’t miss that they sat thigh to thigh, holding hands with fingers laced. They weren’t trying to hide their relationship status: in love.
“You know Claude, right?”
Next to Dana, Claude grinned at Remy and nodded.
“Except he goes by Keith,” said Van.
Claude shook his head, still grinning. “Ignore him.”
“Keith?” said Remy.
“Because he looks like David Cassidy, right?” Van laughed when Claude flipped him off. “He’s our pull magnet when we go into town. Women flock to him.” Van gave Remy a calculating look. “And sometimes guys.”
Dana rolled her eyes. “Here we go again. Gee, it feels just like—oh, I don’t know—last summer?”
“Um, who’s David Cassidy?” asked Remy. He had flushed, but he wasn’t sure if it was due to not knowing something everyone else knew, or the casual way Van tossed out the possibility of attracting guys while looking at him.
“Dude, didn’t you watch crappy reruns when you were a kid?”
“No.” Everybody homeschooled in Eden Pax, and his parents thought television rotted the mind.
A planter carrying a heaped tray stopped beside Kayla to say hello, and Maggie and Sarah were quizzing Levi about how tree planting worked in Australia. Remy took advantage of the distraction to look around. Some of the planters were dressed as if they were responding to a casting call for a movie about a grunge band set in the nineties. Others affected a sort of boho tree-planter chic, and there were even a few older guys who could have participated in a Geddy Lee lookalike contest. He was grateful for Will’s fashion advice. He would have stuck out even more than he did without it. Note to self: Take Will a couple of cases of those kitschy craft ales he likes so much when this is all over.
What happens when the man is as tempting as the money?
Remy Delacour’s family doesn’t believe in mainstream medicine, and when Remy’s boyfriend reveals that Remy is majoring in nursing, they cut him off. He has to find money to finish his education—fast. And he is so done with boyfriends.
Levi Aronson met the guy of his dreams and followed him to Australia. He knew the chances for a lasting romance were slim—and boy, was he right. Now he’s back in Canada, a year behind in his university program, and short of funds. He needs money, not another man.
Tree planting is a way to make a lot of money fast, but it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. When Levi, an experienced planter, sees pretty, sloe-eyed Remy, Levi is certain he’ll never last.
They’ll have to pry Remy’s shovel from his cold, stiff fingers, because he won’t quit—or let anything take his eyes off the prize. When a storm brings Remy and Levi together, each finds the other a distraction from the big goal. But can anything develop between two men who have sworn off relationships?
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
Ava Hayden lives and writes in Alberta, Canada. When not writing, she loves reading yaoi manga and gay romance, baking, seeing plays, hearing live music, and hiking (even though she once came face to face with two grizzlies on a trail). Most of the time her life isn’t that exciting, and that’s fine by her.
More about Ava
Ava Hayden Writes: https://avahayden.com/
Ava Hayden on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/avahayden.ab/
Ava Hayden on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/avahaydenab/
Ava Hayden on Facebook: fb.me/avahayden.ab
Ava Hayden on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/avahayden
Ava Hayden on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Ava_Hayden
Ava Hayden at Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/ava-hayden-812