After one night at the tree house, and another night in Cambridge, Levi and Tiani closed up the townhouse not knowing how many weeks or months they’d be gone.
Having reconnected in the car after crying together, they came to the understanding that they were both a little homesick and that was okay. They were better able to support each other with open communication.
Along the road from Cambridge to Houston, Levi chose the nicest high-end hotels he could find and requested the presidential suite, or something close to it. What should have taken three days and two nights dragged out to four days of driving and three hotel rooms.
Tiani continued to love hot showers but had also discovered the luxury of Jacuzzi tubs. Levi wondered if spoiling her like this was a good idea. Once they returned to her village, she wouldn’t have these amenities. Or flushing toilets. Or running water. Or electricity. Maybe spoiling her was a good idea. She’d be more open to the idea of returning to the States if she missed modern conveniences.
One of the things she desired most was something they could take back to the village, education. And that was one thing Levi was well-prepared to provide. He loved learning almost as much as she did, and he was a good teacher. They spent hours every day reading and learning. As they drove, Levi would read the road signs out loud in English and translate them in Yucatec or Spanish, explaining concepts she didn’t understand.
By the time they arrived in Houston, Tiani had a basic fluency in spoken English and was quickly on her way to learning the written forms of English and Spanish.
Before checking into their hotel in Houston, Levi and Tiani drove straight to Nicholas and Becky’s house in the University Oaks subdivision. A favorite among faculty members, the neighborhood sported homes nicer than the townhouse Nicholas and Levi shared in Cambridge and much larger. Becky’s house even had a pool with a fenced-in yard. Children rode bicycles and couples walked dogs. A middle-aged man jogged past wearing earbuds and sweating through his T-shirt.
Pulling the Lamborghini into the middle-class driveway next door to a minivan on one side and a Volvo on the other was a little surreal. Levi opened the driver’s side door and stood beside the car, removing his sunglasses and tossing them into the cupholder. Tiani had grown accustomed to letting herself out of the passenger side without waiting for Levi to come around and open the door for her so she was already out of the car and stretching to shake out her stiff legs from the long drive.
The front door to the house opened and before Levi could register that his brother had come outside, Nicholas had him in his arms and didn’t let go. The twins stood there in the driveway for several minutes just holding each other.
Somewhere in the periphery of his mind, Levi heard Becky welcome Tiani and they hugged and talked for a moment before disappearing into the house. And still Levi couldn’t let go of his brother.
They must have looked like a couple of geeks standing there for that long, but Levi didn’t care. They didn’t talk. They didn’t cry. They just clung to each other. Levi wasn’t sure how long. Eventually his stomach growled from smelling the grill cooking burgers at a neighbor’s house and they both laughed, pulling back and looking each other up and down.
“I can breathe again,” Nicholas said.
“How are we supposed to live apart?” Levi asked.
“I don’t know if we can.”
“We have to,” Levi said. “You live in Houston now and I live… gosh, I don’t even know where I live.”
“You gonna keep teaching at Harvard?” Nicholas asked.
“I told Dr. Sedwick I’d be back for fall semester,” Levi said. “Do you think this will get easier?”
“I don’t know,” Nicholas admitted. “We’ll just take this a day at a time.”
“Dr. Stephenson?” a man spoke from the sidewalk, the same man Levi and Tiani had seen jogging near the entrance to the subdivision.
“Yes?” both Levi and Nicholas answered, and the man did a double take.
“Uh… there are two of you.” The man’s eyes were wide as if he’d never seen identical twins before.
“That’s what our mom said when we first popped out and our lives have never been the same.” They all chuckled at Levi’s jest and he stepped over to shake the man’s hand. “I’m Levi, the smarter of the geek twins.” Levi fought the urge to wipe his hand on his slacks. The guy was dripping in sweat.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Gary Peters. I teach in the biology department.”
“Harvard,” Levi said. “Linguistics.”
“Just visiting your brother?” Gary asked. “We’ve enjoyed getting to know Dr. Benson’s new husband these past two weeks. My wife and I live next door. She teaches elementary English.”
“Have we really been apart two weeks?” Nicholas asked, glancing at Levi with creased brows. “No wonder I’m feeling withdrawals.”
“Two weeks too long,” Levi mumbled then turned to Gary. “We should introduce our wives. Yours teaches English, mine’s learning English.”
“Really? What’s her native language?” Gary tilted his head.
“Yucatec,” Levi said. He could tell from the confusion on Gary’s face that he wasn’t familiar. “Mayan.”
“Oh, okay.” Gary wiped his brow. “The real reason I interrupted your little hug fest was to ask about this incredible car. Is it really a… Lamborghini?”
“Yeah, Lamborghini Urus.” Nicholas sighed, running his hand along the top of the car. “My brother brought my baby to me before he flies back to Guatemala after the wedding.”
“Wedding? I thought he said he was already married,” Gary said. “I’m confused.”
“My wife and I are having a wedding for our families, since we eloped six weeks ago,” Nicholas explained.
“That would explain why Dr. Benson left for the winter a single woman and came home with a husband.” They all laughed. “Anyway, I need to get a shower. Let me know when you want to get our wives together.” Gay pointed at Levi.
“And you let me know when I can take you for a drive,” Nicholas said with a gleam in his eyes.
“I’ll take you up on that, man.” Gary pointed at Nicholas as he walked backward across their adjoining lawn.
“Nice neighbors,” Levi said, patting his brother on the shoulder.
“Very nice.” Nicholas reached into the car and popped the locks then opened the trunk, lifting one of Levi’s suitcases out. Handing the case to his twin he said, “There’s no way you’re checking into a hotel tonight. I’m not letting you out of my sight until it’s time for your plane to leave for Guatemala.”
“You’ll change your mind in a few hours when Tiani starts undressing me with her eyes.”
“Shoot, she undresses you with her eyes all day long,” Nicholas mumbled. “But you’re right that I’ll change my mind later tonight. I’ll put your suitcases in the extra bedroom suite.”
“Dang, it’s good to be home,” Levi said. Even though he’d never been to Houston before, he knew his twin understood the sentiment. Home was wherever they were together.