Chapter 2

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Ding. The elevator reached her destination with a note that cut through her thoughts. As the doors opened, Amara quickly checked her hair and outfit. Dense, black hair twisted around her head and neatly framed her, mossy eyes. Her onyx wardrobe was dark and she loved that. Focusing on the mundane, she put everything out of her mind, took a long breath, and entered The Glass Chateau.

It was a restaurant with three distinct levels. The hosts at the front were dressed in clean, white outfits and readily directed customers to whichever section they desired. Stretching forward was a normal dining experience. Nothing elaborate or bombastic. A simple, tasteful array of glassy floors, soft booths, and long tables. The upper section, however, had an incredibly tall ceiling with walls that were massive windows, which overlooked the South Atlantic Ocean and gazed at the surrounding mountainsides. A great deal of breathing room.

As Amara stepped forward, she asked for the lower section and the hostess nodded. Guiding her along, they wound down a short flight of glassy stairs to a more intimate arrangement. The booths in this section were encased by protected screens that flowed various images together in order to set the mood. Currently, the screens were interweaving the dim glow of a campfire across its screens. No matter where someone sat, the picturesque campfire was wonderfully depicted.

Walking across the floor resembled her stepping over bright cinders, the walls emanated with the virtual images of rising embers, and the ceiling projected a starry, night sky. The speakers vibrated with the sound of wispy breezes and the occasional snap of burning wood. Finding a secluded booth at the back, the hostess placed her thumb on the edge of the table and the menu was projected across the glass table.

Amara left her name with the hostess so Kato could find his way to her. She smirked to herself once she was alone. He must've checked online to see what they were projecting today. It was sweet of him to find something that would appeal to her.

Before long, she saw Kato approach from the corner of her eye and she rose to meet him. Wearing a scarlet button-up with sharp khakis, his dark skin accented the outfit well. Several tasteful earrings were looped through each ear and his smart glasses were situated around his neck. The faint beginnings of crow's feet stretched from each eye, but they only added to his features. They hugged, shared a quick kiss, and stepped back into the booth.

"It's been about a week, I was starting to think you disappeared," he said with an exaggerated wistfulness. She shook her head and set her glasses aside.

"Aw, were you worried?" she asked.

"About you? No," he said with a pearly smirk. "More worried about whoever has to put up with in the afterlife."

"Oh, thanks," she chuckled.

"So," he selected what he wanted and swiped the menu away, "what have you been up to?"

"Mostly meeting up with and working alongside people in that community," she leaned back. "And working, always working."

He raised an eyebrow, "You mean the neo-mystics? That hinduist group that mixes up science, technology, and nature?"

"Yup, the very same. Yet we're not all hinduists."

"Any progress?"

"Some days, but not usually," she shrugged. "I mean, we're stringing all those fields together with analog computing. It just takes time to build links between theory and practice. Not only that, but we're beginning to dabble in new areas of analog computing."

"How so?" She internally swelled at his question. These conversations never happened with Stefan and Kato was always elated to have them. She loved it. "Start with the basic version."

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