“Hey, Mom, great to hear your voice,” Levi said into the speaker of the satellite phone. “I have Nicholas with me. Is dad home too? We want to talk to both of you.”
“Oh! My boys! How are you? Yes, dad is here. I’m hurrying to the other side of the house to find him. I think he’s watching a baseball game in the den. Are you still in Guatemala?”
“Yep, we’re still here,” Levi said, glancing up at the colossal pyramid temple steps away from him, cleverly concealed by a jungle canopy so thick no explorer would find its location without the use of modern-day LiDAR technology.
“Hi, Mom,” Nicholas said.
“Oh, Nick! How are you?”
“I’m good. We have some great news, but we want to tell you both at the same time.”
“Henry! The boys are on the phone!”
Levi loved how his mom still called them ‘her boys’ even though the twins were thirty years old.
“Put it on speaker phone so we can both hear,” their dad said. “Hey, guys, how are you?”
“Good, Dad, how are you?” Levi asked.
“The Red Sox are winning,” their dad said. “Can’t get any better than that.”
“How about a couple of daughters-in-law?” Nicholas asked. “Would that be better than the Red Sox winning?”
Their mom squealed so loud she caught the attention of some of the scientists on the other side of the clearing where they were documenting stela.
“Whitney, calm down,” their dad said. “We knew they’d eventually find women crazy enough to marry them. Did you guys find a set of identical twins?”
“Nope, Becky and Tiani couldn’t be more different than each other,” Nicholas said. “Polar opposites.”
“Ooh, ooh! Let me guess,” their mom said. “Becky is engaged to… Levi, and is a brunette with adorable freckles and works for, like, the peace corps or something that deals with humanitarian things.”
Becky giggled and spoke up. “Hello, Mrs. Stephenson, this is Becky. I can’t wait to meet you. Sadly, you are wrong on pretty much everything you just said.”
“Oh! You sound so beautiful!” their mom said. “You can call me Whitney. Tell me everything about yourself!”
“Okay, well, my full name is Dr. Rebecca Benson. I have a PhD in Geography & Environment, I work at the University of Houston in the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, but I met Nicholas when we were both grad students at Boston University. I’m blonde with blue eyes, and we got married five days ago.”
“Married?” she shrieked again. “You eloped and didn’t tell me?”
“Calm down, Mom,” Nicholas said. “There was a very good reason why we had to get married immediately.”
“You got her pregnant?” their dad said with an air of disappointment. “Have I taught you nothing about protection?”
“Actually, we waited until we were married for that.” Nicholas sounded annoyed. “Not that it’s any of your business.”
“Your son was a perfect gentleman, Captain Stephenson.” Becky impressively remembered to include their father’s high commission in the Army. “We were strongly encouraged to get married by the local Mayan tribal leader and he performed the ceremony himself.”
“Is that even legal?” their dad asked.
“Maybe…” Becky bit her lower lip and turned the conversation back over to Nicholas.
“Probably not,” Nicholas said. “Which is why her parents are scheduling us a real wedding next month where Becky can wear a white dress and have friends and family surrounding us, and pictures and flowers and cake.”
“I do love cake.” Becky giggled again.
“I love you,” Nicholas whispered, and they leaned closer to give each other a quick peck.
Levi took that as his cue to change the subject. “Do you guys want to hear about Tiani now?” Levi heard the emotion in his own words, and he smiled at the elegant woman by his side. She had no idea what he just said, other than her own name.
“Yes, tell us about Tiani,” their mom said. “I’m not even going to try to guess anything since apparently I’m so far off I’m on the wrong continent.”
“Actually, you are on the wrong continent,” Levi said. “Tiani was born in a small village in Guatemala and is the daughter of our previously-mentioned Mayan tribal leader, His Highness, Prince Gabor Sayid.”
There was no sound from his parents for a long moment and Levi wondered if the line had gone dead. Finally, their dad cleared his throat. “Did you say… Sayid?”
“Yes, Sir, I did,” Levi said with respectful confidence. “My future father-in-law is the great-grandson of Prince Marcos Sayid of Madain Saleh, father to Prince Benjamin.”
“No flippen way,” their dad said. Levi was impressed how well his father hid the inappropriate word he would have used if he’d been talking with a group of soldiers instead of his wife and sons.
“So, you’re not married yet?” his mom asked. “Can you still get out of the engagement? I don’t want you moving to some jungle village in a third world country. I’ve been there and it’s not pretty.”
“Mother, Tiani is standing right next to me. Thankfully she doesn’t speak English, so she won’t have understood the insulting way you just dismissed her. I’m going to encourage her to say hello to you in Spanish, since you likely wouldn’t understand her native Yucatec. I would encourage you to be polite, if not welcoming.”
Levi turned to Tiani and invited her to say hello to his parents in Spanish.
“Hola me alegro de conocerte,” Tiani said. “¿Hablas español?”
“Si, Nosotros hablamos español.” their father confirmed that they could understand her speaking Spanish. Then he told her they were glad to meet her as well.
“Anyway, you’ll have a chance to meet her in person when you come down for our wedding,” Levi said.
“Wait, what?” their mom stopped him. “You want us to come down there for you to get married?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Levi choked out, no longer confident his parents would join him on what should be the happiest day of his life.
“When?” she squeaked out.
“Tomorrow, if possible.” Levi met his twin brother’s gaze and Nicholas inherently knew it was his turn to interject.
“Mom, dad, it’s Nicholas,” he said. “This is important to us. We’d really like for you to join us. But he’s getting married tomorrow whether you’re here or not.” Nicholas nodded to Levi in confirmation. At least the most important member of Levi’s family would be at his side.
Tiani brazenly tucked herself into Levi’s arms and he pulled her close, letting a tear or two fall into her beautiful hair. He wanted to reassure her that she wasn’t the problem.
“They don’t want me to move to Guatemala,” Levi said in Yucatec so only she understood him. “They will miss me.”
“We can go visit them,” Tiani said, looking up at him with innocence in her deep brown eyes.
“Yes, we can.” Levi fought the overwhelming urge to lean down and kiss her. He was already crossing about a hundred lines by holding her in his arms and kissing the top of her head. One more day. He only had to wait one more day. And then he could kiss her every minute of every day from now until eternity.
“We can’t just uproot our lives and fly off to Guatemala at a moment’s notice, you know,” his mom said.
“That’s okay, Mom,” Levi said. “We understand. Hey, I gotta go. I have… uh… work to do. I’ll let you talk to Nick.” He didn’t even wait for his parents to say goodbye, just kept one arm around his bride’s shoulders and walked with her toward the tunnel, intending to go speak to her father and schedule their wedding for the following day.
Levi’s happiness with Tiani wasn’t contingent upon the approval of his parents. But he needed to obtain approval from her parents or there wouldn’t be a wedding at all.