Twenty years ago, 1999 Atlanta
The living room of the loft apartment was hot and stifling, even with the windows open for air, the heat from the day hung thick and heavy leaving everything feeling sticky. A light breeze moved thru the open living room window moving the curtain slightly as deep shadows were cast across the floor by the setting sun of yet another long hot day.
The marble balcony was already started to cool as Copper descended from the sky above perching on the railing as his golden eyes adjusted to the fading light.
His gaze fell upon the massive city that he had called home for over ten years. His thoughts fell to his beloved.
Casandra had been missing for three nights now, and with each passing moon, Copper had become more concerned. She had never been away for longer than a full day for any reason.
Pulling his massive wings into his back, he ducked his head as he passed thru the doorway of the balcony.
The apartment smelt light of cedar and sandalwood that had been left to burn in the bazors that had been placed in the corners to clean and cleanse the space. His eyes quickly adjusted as he searched the room for signs of his mate.
The large living area with its highly polished marble pillars held up the vaulted ceiling making the room more of a cathedral than the top floor of an apartment building, with a little help of dragons own magic space had been turned into more of a palace than a meagre two bedroom flat.
Nothing it seemed was out of place. She had not come back this day either. He ran one massive hand thru his hair pushing the tight red curls to one side. He still felt a connection to her, so she was alive where ever she was.
Sighing, he pulled off his tee shirt tossing it on a nearby chair as he made his way to his bedchamber, his exposed golden skin rippled with every muscle, every movement. He needed a shower and to get ready for his business meeting with some new vampire that wished to open a night club on the other side of town.
Copper distrusted vampires but even more, he found it odd that Casandra would convince him to allow this particular vampire to stay in his territory and even more, open an upscale night club.
Cassandra had been acting very strange since the newcomer had breezed into town one month prior.
As he climbed the three steps to his private chamber, his thoughts drifted from one to another. Mostly thoughts of Casandra, the way her golden amber eyes looked at him with love, the sweet smell of her honey scented hair, the smooth feel of her perfectly scaled skin.
As he reached the golden handle that opened the door to the grand bathroom that was just as massive as the bedroom itself, he growled and froze in place.
Ascent he had never noticed came drifting into his nose. It smelled like sweet jasmine. He growled again as his eyes shifted around the room.
Whoever had left the scent was long gone but nothing was out of place. Copper's eyes glowed as he took in his dwelling, the extra large king bed was neatly made as the light breeze lifted the window curtains causing them to shift.
The grandfather clock in the corner chimed eight o'clock. Its loud chime brought his thoughts back to the business at hand.
Pushing open the door and moving thru the archway, Copper suddenly found himself in a well-dressed navy blue suit, freshly showered and standing in the night club that was already in full swing.
The music was loud, the crowd was even louder. A group of very attractive women, a redhead, a blond and a brunette stopped to giggle at him before moving to a corner table with their drinks.
The brunette looked him over a few times Copper had noticed as she suggestively sucked on her straw smiling at him as she sat down with her friends. The delicate scales that lined the back of his neck ruffled slightly at the thought of waking up to her beautiful cat shaped emerald eyes.
He brushed it off and kept moving forward down the two steps that led across the dance floor to the VIP area. Her scent came rushing forward in a crashing wave causing him to stop.
Copper looked around quickly, calmly, as he scanned for signs of his beloved. She was here, but where? The crowd of people was thick as they all danced in a mass to the beat of the techno DJ. Arms and raver lights lit up the dance floor.
He brushed off the sensation of his mate's scent. She had been gone for too long. He was starting to feel her absence deeply.
Returning to his original mission, Copper turned back to the door leading to a much quieter space.
Upon entering the large room, normally reserved for higher elite vampires and their familiars, the chatter seemed to dim with his presence.
A shorter fatter vampire, with graying hair and a thinner hairline than his waistline, sat to one side of a large plush red velvet couch. A long-legged blonde happily sat in his lap as he drew a long slow drag from his Cuban cigar letting the smoke waft past his lips and into the air.
The dragon smirked slightly at the thought of showing this lower being just how unimpressed he was. The movement to the right caught his attention causing Copper to turn and look at a well dressed dark haired blue eyed men.
The gentleman who stood up unbuttoned his navy blue suit jacket as he approached placing one hand in his pocket outstretching the other in Copper's direction in a gesture of goodwill.
"I'm very glad that you were able to make it for this meeting. I hope this isn't cutting into your personal time to meet me after dark, sensitive skin you know." The room started to vibrate with the chuckling of the other vampires present.
Copper quickly looked around at the other bodies that lined the space, most were armed thugs guarding other vampire dignitaries, some guarding the exits. All were well dressed and looked down upon his kind with discussed.
"Well, what do you say ol' man? Do you think we can come to an agreement?"
Copper returned his attention back to the leader. Jasmine scent again, stronger, closer.
As he blinked, the room emitted a light blue glow, now leaving the two men standing alone.
The smell sent Coppers head reeling from the familiarity, it was safe, warm.
When he looked back at Christian, the vampire held his Casandra in an intimate embrace as he ran his fingers over her neck and back.
Copper roared his rage at the sight, as he blinked once more, his beloved wife's heart was being held out to him in Christian's bloodied hand.
Jasmine. That smell! It caused his rage to soften and subside. Casandra's cold dead eyes stared up at him from the floor, surprise filling the dark void where once there was light and life.
Copper woke with a start. He had been holding Carolyn's hand the entire time he had been sleeping.
He ran his free hand over his face, lingering around the goat tee he had grown in at her request.
Hobbs had been endlessly seeking answers while he held watch over the sleeping form that was his beloved Phoenix.
Cooper readjusted the red shroud that he had pulled off in his sleep doing his best to keep her comfortable.
The candles in the room had been relit and the many stacks of books had been readjusted. For two days, Hobbs had been coming and going from his private study with many different books trying to find answers or at least a way to wake her long enough to stop her reset process.
Carolyn had reset a total of five times in two days and each time was more intense than the last. Hobbs wasn't sure how long the angel wards would hold if this kept up. He had transferred his most prized books out of the store to a secure location to protect them.
The translucent scales on the back of Copper's neck started to ruffle as the air around him became charged again. It was happening.
His body was starting to become accustomed to the way the air sparked and sizzled right before her reset. He braced himself against the far wall, away from Carolyn's body, and away from any flying debris that was sure to follow her blast.
The blue light that filled the space as her eyes opened and glowed became more intense with each reset, like the white hit glow if a dying star in the darkest nebula.
The blast came and went, leaving Copper and the book shop no worse for wear.
"His goes the battle?" Hobbs appeared from a stack of books brushing small bits of plaster from his shoulders. He pushed his reading glasses up on his nose further as he tucked the book he was carrying under his arm.
Pulling on his waistcoat to readjust it, his gaze fell to where Copper stood in the corner.
The green tee shirt he wore had been ripped across the chest in the last blast as well as the blue jeans.
"If we don't wake her soon, I'm going to run out of clothes."
Hobbs gave a half smirk as he arched an eye brow, "Really?"
Copper growled slightly at the response, "I'm tired of repairing my things."
"She's not worth a few pieces of ripped clothing?" He began to stroke his silver beard as he placed the book he was carrying next to Carolyn.
"She's worth death itself." The words came in the form of a growl but did not fall on deaf ears.
"Well my scaly friend, death is what it's going to take. I've found something that might help us."
Copper turned his attention back to the shorter manas he thumbed thru a few pages. Stopping in what he was looking for, Hobbs turned the book so Copper could read what was written on its pages in fancy gold lettering.
"It's an ancient ritual to touch death but not become death. This will take time to prepare but you must understand that this is not a guarantee to reach your destination."
Copper glanced up, his eyes glowing softly as small wafts of smoke left his mouth, "Let's do it."
"I'll be right back then." Before Copper could ask, Hobbs had disappeared and he was left alone.
He leaned down placing a kiss on Carolyn's forehead gently as his eyes glowed fiercely, a single tear escaped.his eye falling on her cheek.
Resting his forehead to hers he took deep steady breaths to calm his body that had begun to shake.
"Hold on my Firebird, just hold on a little longer."