“You still here, little brother?” Nicholas asked, patting Levi on the shoulder and sitting beside him at the breakfast table. He reached to grab a tortilla, leaning across Levi with a grin.
“I wasn’t planning on trekking back through that tunnel without you, big brother,” Levi said to his twin, the guy who had been born seven minutes earlier than him. “Where’s your bride? Sleeping in?”
“Nah, just getting ready for the day, using the bathroom, that kind of thing. Whatever it is women do in the morning. Can you hand me those potatoes? I’m starving. We’re coming with you over to the temple pyramid today, don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried,” Levi said. “I just didn’t want to spend the night that far apart from you again. I suppose we’ll have to get used to sleeping apart if you move to Houston, huh?” Levi felt his throat catch. This was ridiculous. They were almost thirty-one years old. Time to cut the umbilical cord.
“I get it,” Nicholas said. “Some identical twins never live apart, even after they’re married. I didn’t like being that far away from you either. I’m glad you moved your tent back into the village. We will need to figure this out though, especially if you plan to move to Guatemala.”
Levi nearly spit his juice out and started coughing. Nicholas patted him on the back. Levi managed to choke out, “What makes you think I’m moving to Guatemala?”
“I don’t think your little princess is going to want to move to Houston with you,” Nicholas said.
“Who says I’m moving to Houston?”
“Dude, you couldn’t even spend two nights apart with a twenty-minute walk between us. How are you going to stay in Cambridge when I live in Houston?”
“It took me a day to chop through that jungle, not twenty minutes,” Levi defended. “I didn’t even know about the tunnel until the following day. I was so mad at you for staying in the village I volunteered to use the machete in the point position most of the day. Then I spent the night having an anxiety attack.”
“Sorry about that, man.” Nicholas lowered his voice. “Seriously though, when you get married, you’ll understand. You can’t think about anything else besides her for days.”
“I can barely think of anything else but her and I’ve never even held her hand,” Levi mumbled. “Nor am I going to. It’s against their tradition for a man and woman to touch each other before marriage.”
“Might wanna get in good with her daddy then, because the way you two look at each other makes me think it ain’t gonna be long before you want to touch each other.”
“That sucks,” Levi mumbled.
“Worth it,” Nicholas said. “Speaking of…” Nicholas stood from his seat to welcome Becky with a quick kiss.
Becky sat with Nicholas but leaned across to smile at Levi. “Good morning.”
“Good morning.” Levi started shoving food to her side of the table, assuming she was just as hungry as her husband.
“Thank you, I’m starving.” Becky opened the packet of tortillas. “Ooh, they’re still warm.”
“Yeah, the chief’s wife is a fantastic cook and she just keeps bringing out food.” Levi had never felt so spoiled in his life. For all their talk about the scientists invading the village and threatening the temple pyramid, the villagers sure welcomed the group with open arms, or at least open kitchens. They still didn’t seem to understand why the scientists were there in the first place, but hopefully they would in time.
“Please thank her for us,” Becky said.
“She understands Spanish,” Levi said. “You can tell her yourself. As soon as she realizes you’re out here she’ll probably bring more food.”
“Where is the chief?” Nicholas asked. “And Tiani.”
“I don’t know,” Levi said. “I haven’t seen them yet this morning.”
“When do you want to go back over to the temple again?” Nicholas asked.
“I was just waiting for you.” Levi shrugged.
“What if we didn’t get out of bed again today?” Nicholas grinned.
“Then I would have been annoyed while I waited.” Levi tried to keep a straight face but failed and chuckle snorted.
“You two are seriously addicted to each other, aren’t you?” Becky asked, her hand holding her fork in midair.
“Let me see if I can explain it,” Nicholas said to his wife. “It’s like ripping my heart out of my chest, throwing it over to the other side of the mound and asking me to sleep over here and my heart to sleep over there. Am I wrong?” He turned to Levi.
“Not at all.” Levi cringed. “Sorry, I just couldn’t try to sleep over there again.”
“You don’t need to be sorry,” Becky said. “I’m the idiot who married one half of an identical set of twins. I just didn’t realize you were this extreme. How come you were able to sleep just fine?” She turned to Nicholas.
“You wore me out, woman.” Nicholas leaned over for a kiss and Levi fought the urge to gag.
“We just need to get your brother married off and then we won’t have this problem.” Becky returned Nicholas’ kiss.
“I’ll get right on that,” Levi grumbled, knowing the reality of his situation wasn’t quite that easy. He either needed to ignore the connection he had with Tiani or find a way to live on two continents at the same time. “For now, we need to get to work. I’m sure the team is quite annoyed that their archaeologist, linguist, and science manager are all on the wrong side of the mound.”
They finished eating, packed up some food and water to take with them to last through the day, grabbed some flashlights, and braved the scary, dark tunnel without the benefit of a guide. The scary, dark tunnel that allowed them to live in luxury while their team roughed it in the jungle. If sleeping in tents in the middle of a village that didn’t have modern facilities, running water, or high-speed internet could be considered living in luxury.