What was taking so long? Levi fidgeted, standing at the center of the village, near where he and Tiani usually sat beside the community campfire each evening. An arbor of sorts had been decorated near the edge of the clearing and incense burned lazy plumes of smoke all around.
He hadn’t seen Tiani since the previous evening when some women, including her mother, had guided her away to prepare her for her wedding. Maybe Nicholas was right. Maybe Tiani would know more about what to expect than he did.
This wedding was a much bigger event than the hastily prepared and forced union between Becky and Nicholas. The tribe’s princess was getting married. The daughter of the chief.
Oh my gosh! What the heck was he doing marrying the daughter of the chief? He didn’t have the proper bloodline to be marrying a princess! He started sweating and grew nauseated. He took several deep breaths. He asked himself again, what was taking so long?
Most of the tribe and the team of scientists stood or sat nearby. Everyone else was waiting also but they didn’t seem nearly as nervous. Nor should they. He was the only man in this village who would be getting married today. If his bride ever showed up.
Maybe she would bail. Maybe she had already run off into the jungle crying for this crazy, American geek to stop crushing on her. Maybe her mother and father were in their home right now discussing how best to break the news to him. How best to tell Levi that their daughter had changed her mind and didn’t want to marry him.
Nicholas had long since stopped trying to calm him down and Levi had long since stopped asking what was taking so long. He felt a sincere sense of remorse to his parents for all the times he’d ever muttered the annoying phrase, “Are we there yet?” while driving in a car.
Levi’s attention was pulled in the complete opposite direction from where he expected to see Tiani appear when a conch shell sounded from somewhere far away in the jungle.
“Finally,” Nicholas said, stepping to Levi’s shoulder. “I thought they wouldn’t get here in time.”
Levi was confused. Why would there be some sort of wedding processional from down the jungle path? That wasn’t even in the direction of the temple pyramid or anything sacred. More in the direction they would take if heading into one of the trading villages near Tikal. The conch shell sounded again, closer this time.
“They made it,” Chief Gabor said in Spanish. Levi startled to find the chief at his other shoulder. Maybe he was worried his daughter had changed her mind as well.
When the processional drew closer to the edge of the clearing, Levi began to see men, warriors, at least five of them, no wait, there was one smaller person, a woman. Thank goodness. He couldn’t wait to see his bride. Not sure why she would be trekking in from the jungle surrounded by warriors. This must be part of some ritual the tribe had.
“I’m so glad they came,” Chief Gabor said in Yucatec, his words filled with emotion. “You deserve to have your family here at the time when you are joining yourself to my family.”
“Huh?” Levi turned to his soon-to-be father-in-law. The chief offered a rare smile and put his hands upon Levi’s shoulders, turning him back around to face the incoming processional.
The woman in the processional was not Tiani. Levi’s breath caught. “Mom?”
Levi took off running in the direction of the group of warriors as soon as he realized the two people at the protected center were his parents.
“Dad? Mom? You made it!” Levi flung himself into their arms, tears pouring down his face. “You made it. You made it.” His words caught in his throat as sobs racked through his body. His whole family was here.
His parents had left their home in Massachusetts, taken several connecting flights, driven at least an hour and trekked four hours on foot through a jungle to make it here in time for his wedding.
No wonder the wedding had been delayed. They were waiting for two very special guests of honor to arrive. Now that his parents were here, Levi was anxious to get this wedding started. But where was Tiani?