“He’s going to say everything in Yucatec so I’ll just translate on the fly,” Levi said. They were standing together in the middle of the little village near the chief, waiting for Becky to return from Tiani’s bridal makeover. “Just think of the whole thing as if it’s a shaman’s blessing.”
“I’m not worried about it, man,” Nicholas said. “If this makes him happy, and Becky’s happy, I’ll go along with it. You might want to pay close attention to the ceremony though, because it’s going to be identical to yours in a few months when you marry your Princess Tiani.” Surrounding them stood half the tribe and the entire team of archaeologists. No pressure.
“Think about it. Between the two of them we’re combining everything we ever thought we wanted in a wife,” Levi said.
“Speaking of which”—Nicholas tapped his twin’s shoulder and they turned in the direction of the largest hut in the village where Tiani emerged with a triumphant smirk as if she personally had transformed Becky into a bride.
Becky walked out with her hand through the arm of Dr. Timothy Cathcart, her boss, and their excavation director. Nicholas almost laughed out loud at the fitting substitute for Becky’s father. He kept reminding himself this wasn’t real.
That colorful tribal gown Tiani had loaned her was not the elegant white dress he’d imagined. The ring of flowers placed as a crown on her head was not what she would have chosen. Still, she looked beautiful and he was honored to be marrying her, however strange the whole situation felt.
The tribal chief-slash-prince-slash-shaman welcomed the ladies to stand with him and Becky took Nicholas’ hand, facing him the way the chief directed. A tribal member stepped forward and startled them by blowing into a large conk shell like a horn.
As the chief spoke in Yucatec, Levi translated, and the words were very sweet and down-to-earth, literally, calling upon mother earth and the sky and the elements of nature. He asked permission from the four cardinal points, handed Nicholas and Becky each a seed and explained that the seed represented the starting of their new life together. He blessed them with abundance, love and positive intentions. He explained that when they cast the seeds upon the land and into the water, they will get what they wish for in their relationship.
This didn’t seem like a wedding, more like a shaman’s blessing, as Levi had mentioned. The ceremony ended with women from the tribe bringing rose petals and tossing them over Nicholas and Becky as a way of dropping positive intentions.
The entire ceremony involved burning incense, and drums, and blowing conk shells, and eventually morphed into a celebration where everyone was dancing and smiling and laughing.
Nicholas could envision his twin brother embracing this celebration as the perfect wedding, but Nicholas vowed to provide Becky with a white dress and cake and her parents and friends and family in attendance. They might be married in the eyes of the tribal chief, but Nicholas was going to watch his bride walk down an aisle on the arm of her father. Someday.
* * * * * * * * *
Entering the tent they’d shared the first two nights felt strange. Now that the chief had declared them married there was this unspoken expectation that tonight they would magically flip a switch between not having sex and having sex. But the reality was not as straightforward.
Nicholas sat on the bedroll and met Becky’s eyes with apprehension. He cleared his throat. “That wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured our… wedding.”
“Me neither.” Becky bit her lower lip, brow furrowed and a tension in her shoulders that was visible from where Nicholas sat two feet away.
“This doesn’t feel right.” Nicholas lowered his gaze and fiddled with the sleeping bag he was sitting on.
Becky let out a breath that sounded like relief. “I agree.”
“You do?” Nicholas lifted his gaze again, feeling hope. “I was afraid you’d be disappointed if we didn’t…”
“Have sex tonight?” Becky finished his sentence.
“I was afraid you would be disappointed,” Becky said. “I mean, I haven’t showered in, like, four days, we have zero privacy, and I kind of have this romanticized vision of taking our time and getting to know each other’s bodies and, and… making love to each other, not just having sex because we’re supposed to have sex on our wedding night.”
“I agree one hundred percent.” Nicholas opened his arms and reached for Becky. She came to sit on his lap. Snuggled into his arms they both sighed simultaneously. “As hungry as I’ve been for you, I am seriously content to just hold you in my arms tonight.”
“Me too,” she whispered.
“Let’s take this marriage thing slowly, at our own pace,” Nicholas said. He pulled back a little and looked down at her. “I love you so much, and I’ve loved getting to know you these past few months since you showed up on my doorstep. When I make love to you for the first time, I want that experience to feel right and to be on our terms.”
“Thank you,” Becky said. “For understanding. For loving me. For being the kind of man I’m proud to call my husband.”
“I like the sound of that.” Nicholas leaned forward and kissed Becky as she reached for him, wrapping her arms around his neck and shoulders.
Nicholas laid her down on their bedroll and kissed her more passionately then they probably should have when they’d just stated definitively that they weren’t ready to have sex yet. He found himself very content with just that and his body surprisingly agreed.
Eventually they fell asleep in each other’s arms, relaxed and happy, all pressure gone, the weight on their shoulders lifted, able to merely be together.