Detective Arc knew the protocol but made the decision anyways. Cyrus closed the door to The Love Room. Sophia stood near the door and scanned the room, filing every detail into her mind. The sunroof high above the bed, peaking into the dark sky. The light from the stars, years away, a distance so far that death sometimes lies at the other end. She looked down to the bed, a California King with a white, fluffy mattress. Decorative orange and blue pillows contrasted the white. She stared down at the Persian rugs and wondered how the commune earned money for such luxuries. Stolen, she thought. She stared at the bare white walls and then saw the wooden wardrobe against the far, left corner. The wood was carved with an intricate floral pattern. Cyrus sat on the bed. He had long black hair and wore it in a tight ponytail. He was clean shaven with a sharp jaw line and dark eyes. He looked at Sophia and with his right hand, patted the bed, gesturing her to sit. Her heart raced and she could feel her palms sweating. She focused on her breath, each inhale thinking about Charlotte and each exhale thinking about Samantha (Ivy). She knew what she had to do. Sophia smiled and said, "What a beautiful room." "The Darius says that The Journey to the Light is made up of three stages. The Entrance, The Love, and The Free. Once we complete The Free altogether as one then we reach The Light, true freedom," said Cyrus. "You mean like Enlightenment?" Sophia asked. "I knew I brought you here for a good reason. Everyone at Freedom House is on this journey and together we will all reach enlightenment. We are different than the Outside." Cyrus said. "But we all came from the Outside." Sophia said. "Yes, but The Darius says there are special people on the Outside and, like magnets, attract to one another," Cyrus said this in a tone full of logic and seriousness. Sophia stared into Cyrus's eyes with a forced seduction that passed as truth. She thought, Complete brain wash horse shit. How do these people just believe The Darius’s every word and thought? "Well, I felt that attraction when I saw you." Sophia said. "I felt it from you too. I feel it from everyone here at Freedom House. This Love Room is all part of our journey to reach enlightenment, to become free. The Love stage is a practice of kindness and compassion and an opportunity to experience a love that is free of judgement. Something you can never get on the Outside." Sophia knew. She knew and she just thought about Charlotte. She heard the ice cream truck song echo in her head and saw the police lights flashing along her neighborhood street those 20 years ago. "Zoe, you okay?" Cyrus asked. Sophia blinked and Cyrus came into focus, the echo of the ice cream truck song and the police lights became a distant memory again, like the stars above her. I'm Zoe, I'm Zoe. She thought. "Never been better." She said. "Well I think The Darius is going to be happy that you're joining our Journey to the Light. As your mentor, I will show you The Love stage but so will The Darius on a different night. He does this with every member of Freedom House. I will prep you for him. He is very particular." --- I walked into the tent and Sky zipped it close. I heard her footsteps as she walked away, a light crunch of leaves under her shoes. The inside wasn't as big as it looked on the outside. Rugs were laid out on the floor and a mattress was to the right, sprawled on top was a large white blanket and four small orange pillows. To the left side of the tent, 2 pillows lay on the floor side by side, a place for meditation. The Darius sat on one of the meditation pillows. His hair was pulled out of his face by his bandana. He wore a white robe tied closed. "Sit with me Ivy," he said. I sat on the pillow next to him. We faced one another. The Darius picked up my hands into his and held them with a gentle, almost innocent touch. "Breathe with me Ivy. Close your eyes. Inhale deep into your body, into your soul. Take in all your worries. Now exhale into freedom." We meditated for a while. My nerves and mind calmed. I didn't know meditation could change my life until The Darius. He had a magic and a power about him that touched my heart. "Open your eyes Ivy." The Darius said. I opened my eyes and there he was, staring at me with a kindness that I never knew until that moment. "I am going to kiss you now Ivy," he said. He held my face in his hands and leaned in. His lips massaged mine and moved at a slow pace. He showed me the real meaning of love and compassion. His kiss felt wet and his rough tongue swirled inside my mouth like the coy fish, reaching far down into my throat. I knew it was all for the Journey to the Light. The Darius stopped. "Now what would you like to do Ivy?" he asked. I wasn't sure what he was asking but something inside me knew what he wanted the answer to be. Something in his tone reminded me of The Love room with Miles. I didn't know the words to explain it. "Did you enjoy The Love room Ivy?" he asked. "Of course." I said. "Would you like to practice more love and compassion with me?" he asked, a look of innocence, almost sadness crossed his face. I could only say one phrase, "Of course." "That's my girl." The Darius smiled.