The Uncut Wood by Slade James

Hank and Gunner are two lumberjacks at a seasonal gay clothing-optional campground, The Bear Mountain Lodge. As a way to drum up business during the off-season, they’re going to be competing in something they’re calling the Jackolympics, featuring various feats of sexy lumberjackness.

Hank decides that now is the perfect time to finally admit his feelings for Gunner.

But just before they compete, he kind of chickens out and his natural competitive streak takes over. If Hank wins, then Gunnar has to go on a romantic date with him. In a log splitting competition, they race to show off their dexterity with an axe. In the end, it’s apparent to everyone that Gunner is the superior axe man… but he lets Hank win.

That evening, Hank takes them through a section of the forest called The Uncut Wood to the most remote cabin on the property, which he has set up for their romantic date. They eat, and they talk, and they make love in front of the fire. It’s all very sweet and romantic and both of them are finally able to admit that they’ve been interested in each other for a long time but weren’t really sure how to go from friends/colleagues to something more.

Sometimes a friendly wager is all you need to get out of the friend zone.

The story of Hank and Gunner is a perfectly executed friends-to-lovers trope. Their chemistry is off the charts from the very beginning, and I loved watching them navigate their way to a very satisfying happily ever after.

The Uncut Wood is an introductory short that establishes the setting and side characters of the author’s Bear Camp series.