Levi bit his tongue and reminded himself to breathe. This was Chief Gabor and Itzel’s first time away from home. Although the chief had travelled to the nearby trading villages and rode in the Jeep down to Flores, he was uncomfortable about the four-hour flight to Cancun.
His wife, Itzel, had a very difficult time adapting. She’d never travelled outside the village even to shop at the trading villages. She got sick on the airplane, plastered her face to the window of the limousine trying to see the Atlantic Ocean, was afraid to walk on the concrete sidewalks at the resort, and decided the bed in her suite was too soft before she even sat on it.
When Tiani tried to show her mother the running water from the sink in the bathroom, Itzel was terrified. They spent an inordinate amount of time explaining the indoor latrine, afraid Itzel would try to use the bushes outside her suite beside the patio.
After an afternoon of trauma, they ordered room service and sat together for a meal at the little table in Gabor and Itzel’s suite, where Gabor discovered television.
Tiani helped her mother get ready for bed in her new and strange environment while Levi helped his new father-in-law learn how to use the remote control, a difficult feat even for people who had grown up with modern technology. Thankfully some of the stations were Spanish language or this would have been a short trip back to the village.
When Levi and Tiani were satisfied that her parents weren’t going to pee in the bushes or burn down the hotel, they said goodnight and snuck next door to their own suite.
They’d barely gotten the deadbolts in place before Tiani was dragging Levi toward her favorite modern amenity, the shower.
If anything in the world convinced Tiani to move back to civilization it would be the shower. She loved standing under the cascading water and breathing the moist, steamy air even before she discovered how much fun they could have taking a shower together.
The king-sized bed was also a dream come true. Sleeping on the ground in the middle of a jungle for weeks was better than being crammed into a small bed with a thin wall between them and her parents, but having enjoyed the spacious townhouse in Cambridge, they knew what they were missing. And this was it.
Lying in each other’s arms, soaking wet and not even caring that they’d likely need to request housekeeping bring them new bedding, Tiani smiled up at Levi from the crook of his arm and he leaned down to kiss the tip of her nose.
“Don’t make me go back to the jungle,” Tiani teased. “I want to sleep in a bed with you every night for the rest of eternity.”
“We can sleep anywhere you want, as long as you are by my side,” Levi said.
“Admit it, that was way more fun than the jungle floor.” Tiani reached over and tickled Levi playfully.
“You want to do it on the floor?” Levi teased right back, pulling her and the blankets to the edge of the bed. “If you insist.”
“Don’t you dare,” she squealed.
“Oh, I dare,” he said, rolling off the side, being careful to make sure he landed first to break her fall. With as many downy blankets and pillows that followed along with them, it wouldn’t have mattered.
“You brat!” She hit him playfully and he could tell she wasn’t really angry.
“This plush carpeting is softer than anything we’ve slept on in weeks anyway.” He rolled over so that he was looking down at her and he brushed the strings of hair away from her face, grateful she’d thought to bring her lemongrass oils and combs along on their trip. For a moment they just stared at each other with soft grins. “You’re so beautiful. How did I get so lucky to have you choose me for your husband?”
“My father chooses who I can marry,” she teased. “I had no choice, remember?”
“Oh, you had a choice. You chose to place your hands on my chest, knowing that action would set into motion your carefully-planned lure to get me to the altar.”
“I couldn’t help it.” She whispered as she placed her hands on his chest once again. “I didn’t plan that, or choose that, I just couldn’t help it.”
“Fate brought us together,” Levi whispered back.
“I’m still sleeping up on the bed tonight,” she said with a playful gleam in her eye.
“Not quite time to go to sleep though, is it?”
“Definitely not.” Tiani wrapped her arms around Levi’s neck and pulled him down for another long kiss.