Levi was awakened by an insistent knocking on the door to his suite. He glanced at the digital clock beside the bed, which read 2:03 a.m. Only one person would be bold enough to bother him in the middle of the night.
He slipped on a pair of sweats and pulled the door to their bedroom closed to offer his sleeping wife a little privacy. He padded out to the main door of the suite and opened it to find his twin brother, still wearing parts of his tux, the tie loosened and hanging around his neck, top button undone, cummerbund missing and jacket long abandoned.
“What?” Levi asked.
“I came to apologize,” Nicholas said.
“At two in the morning?”
“This is the soonest I could get away.” Nicholas pushed his way inside.
“Have you been drinking?” Levi asked. “You smell like a brewery.”
“Dude, you know me better than that. Becky spilled a glass of beer and it got all over my coat and some on my pants and her dress was soaking wet.”
“Where is your lovely bride?” Levi didn’t even try to hide his sarcasm.
“Passed out in our suite,” Nicholas grumbled.
“Some wedding night,” Levi said.
“Our wedding night was seven weeks ago,” Nicholas said. “This was merely a party for her snobby friends and family.”
“You married a winner,” Levi complimented with a sneer.
“Becky’s not like that,” Nicholas defended his bride. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen her drink, which is probably why she got drunk so easily.”
“Tiani has asked me to take her home from this wretched country where people are catty enough to treat others that way.”
“They were drunk. They won’t even remember what they said in the morning.”
“Well, my wife remembers, and will always remember, and deserves to be treated better than that.”
“I agree, and I’m sure Becky agrees. When she realizes what they said, she will feel terrible.”
“I’m sure her hangover will be punishment enough.” Levi stood. “Look, I’m going back to bed. We have a flight to catch in the morning and you need to take care of your drunk bride. I’ll see you in a few weeks or months or… sometime.”
“Levi, don’t do this,” Nicholas said. “We’re identical twins. A bond stronger than any other relationship in the world.”
“No, Nicholas, our relationships with our wives are stronger than our relationships with each other. Now you need to go take care of your wife, and I need to take care of mine. This is the way life’s meant to be. Time to cut the cord and go our separate ways.”
“What if I don’t want to go our separate ways?” Nicholas sounded like he was going to cry. Levi needed to soften this goodbye.
“That’s not a choice we get to make anymore.” Levi pulled his brother into his arms and they held each other. “Maybe sometime soon we’ll live in the same town again, or at least the same country. But right now, we need to do what’s best for our families. Your family is Becky and my family is Tiani.”
“I’ll miss you,” Nicholas said.
“I’ll miss you too.” Levi pulled back and they looked each other in the eye, mirror images. “I’ll have my satellite phone and we’ll call each other frequently. Plus, we still have 260 stelae to interpret. That’s going to require us to stay in close contact. You may even need to come to Guatemala for an expedition. I can offer you a nice place to stay. We won’t have running water or electricity, but we’ve got the best food this side of the equator.”
They both chuckled and Nicholas reached up to dry his eyes. Levi strode over to the door and held it open. Rip off the bandage.
“Goodnight, my brother,” Levi said.
Nicholas met him at the door with one more hug. “I love you, Lee.”
“I love you too, Nick.”
They released each other from their hug and Nicholas stepped out into the hall. Levi watched through the peep hole as his twin hesitated by the door then continued down the hall.
With his back against the door, Levi slid down to sit on the plush carpet of the finest suite of the resort and sobbed.