She walked backstage during the intermission of the Christmas concert at the American Opera Center. Major donors and benefactors sat with self-satisfied contentment in the audience. Gemstones and furs were encapsulated by the theatre's light and held, for a moment, suspended in a perfect moment in time.
Luca waited in her dressing room. Jasmine had just sung his new composition, a sensual and haunting rendition of "Oh Holy Night". The music caressed her lips, tongue and lungs. It filled her body with such completion that she'd imagined a world where people loved one another, gave generously of their time and resources - a world without guns and automatic weapons and the deaths of children, who were the closest to heaven. Children and animals, she thought, the unsullied.
Luca's violet eyes stopped her breath as he searched her golden eyes. His lips curved in a congratulatory smile, his right lip tilted slightly higher than the left. The cleft in his chin firm and deep. His arms found her immediately and he inhaled the tender scent of her body, the exhilaration from her performance and her more sensual, darker notes that caused his body to strengthen and formed his resolve to protect her above all else. Jasmine, for him, was sacred.
The dressing room door rushed open and a frosty current of air froze the room. Phisto's powerful presence filled the space. And the two powerful beings consumed all of the air and energy so that remaining in their presence was insupportable. Jasmine understood that they disliked each other. But she had no knowledge of the feud that had begun during the Renaissance and which was about to consume them all.
"You were a magical storm, my darling. The audience wants more of you. Come, you don't have time to tally with nonsense the intermission will soon be over. I want you to rest."
"Your conducting was superb, Phisto. Thank you."
"You inspire me, my dear. We will do great things together." Though he didn't look at Jasmine as he spoke, his cobalt eyes challenged Luca.
"She will be prepared for the second half of the program. I will deliver her safely to the stage." Luca said in a still, deadly voice.
"You have done your part, composer. She has brought the notes on a page to life. I have helped her to bring your notations to life. Now it is time that she and I prepare for the remainder of her triumph."
"Are you dismissing me?"
"If you want to call it that. Go play with your notes. We have music to make."
Luca's eyes pulsed deep purple and his right hand clenched and unclenched as he absorbed Phisto's words. He stepped forward, his powerful shoulders moving gracefully beneath the exquisitely tailored Armani tuxedo.
"It is you who are superfluous. Her talent needs no instruction though you are intent on taking credit for her success."
"Careful composer. You and I have business but now is not the time."
Luca closed his eyes briefly and focused intently on an inner vision. Phisto grasped and fell onto the coach where Jasmine had rested earlier. He grew pale and shook his head as though to dislodge an unbearable sound.
A battle was being waged that Christmas Eve. Visions of angels and saviors had been demolished. All that remained was the feral scent of two immortal beings who would fight to the death to avenge their past and to accompany Jasmine through her mortal life.