Invisible Thread | Feysand Urban Fantasy AU | Part 3
Comfortable and casual. After changing outfits five times, Feyre finally settled on a backless blue sweater, black leggings, and ballet flats. As Feyre assessed her outfit in the mirror, her gaze snagged on the purple flower Rhys had conjured the night before. She still couldn’t believe that Rhys had magic…or that he was High Vampire. Hybrids like Rhys were extremely rare, even in Prythian. In fact, she’d never heard of a vampire with magic as potent as Rhys’s appeared to be. He’d soothed the soul of their haunted house and conjured a flower out of nothing. It took some witches decades to learn that kind of magic. She suddenly wondered just how old Rhys actually was.
Feyre had never spent much time around vampires but read about them extensively. She knew all about the vampire’s long lifespan, their feeding habits, and their nocturnal tendencies, but one thing that had always intrigued her was the vampire’s notion of a mate. Vampires were individually blessed by fate with a mate; one person who is their equal in every way. This meant that at any given moment, a vampire could meet their mate and the rest of the world would pale in comparison.
The notion of a mate had always seemed romantic to Feyre. Witches abhorred the concept of fated mates and most chose to be a bit freer with their relationships, but Feyre thought it must be nice to not scrape and scour for a life partner like the rest the world. It would be so much easier to lock eyes with someone and instinctively know they were meant to be yours. Feyre still believed that matehood was likely the purest form of love that existed, but she also thought it seemed a bit unfair to anyone else a vampire is involved with. Not to say vampires shouldn’t date prior to meeting their mate, but any relationship they have with someone who isn’t their mate is ultimately a dead end. If she were with Rhys and he suddenly met his mate, Feyre would be cast aside without another thought.
Not that she and Rhys were together. And tonight’s dinner was not a date.
Feyre mentally shook herself and grabbed her purse before heading downstairs. She spotted her sister, Elain, at the kitchen sink with her hands deep in a potted house plant while an army of levitating watering cans tended to the remaining plants strewn about the room. This was a typical sight for her sister who was the most skilled Green Witch in Prythian. She had a knack for communicating with plants and urging them to grow and thrive. Some people collected stray animals; Elain collected stray plants. Almost every available surface in the house had some kind of plant on it, hence the need for magically levitating watering cans.
Elain’s golden-brown curls were piled on top of her head and her cheeks were streaked with dirt as she turned to smile at Feyre. “Feyre! You look beautiful tonight. And you’re wearing makeup!” she said as if she’d assumed Feyre was unfamiliar with the concept.
Feyre rolled her eyes, but found herself smiling too. “I’m going to dinner with some…new friends.” she explained. Feyre thought she could consider Rhys a friend. Sure, he was irritatingly arrogant and completely insufferable, but she felt she could add his name to her currently very short list of friends. And maybe after tonight she would be able to add a few more.
“I’m really glad you’re getting out, Feyre. Plants are good company for me, but you’ve been holed up in here too long.”
“I leave the house every day for work, Elain. And I went out last night. I’m not a hermit.”
“Yeah, but tonight you seem…lighter. Happier. And I–oh.” Elain murmured as her eyes glazed over and turned white. Elain was also a Seer which meant she periodically received visions of the future. She could be seeing what happens a month from now, next week, or even in the next five minutes. A small grin appeared on Elain’s face as the vision ended and her eyes returned to their normal, soft brown color. “Mm now I see why. Have fun tonight, Feyre.”
Feyre narrowed her eyes. “Why, what did you see?”
Elain just shrugged, turning back to her plants. “Oh nothing, just a tall, dark, and handsome man knocking on our door. Right. About–”
Not a millisecond later, there was a knock on the front door. Rhys. Goddess, she’d forgotten how perfectly timed Elain’s visions could be.
“Gee, I wonder who that could be!” Elain teased.
Feyre ignored her sister as she opened the door to find Rhys leaning against the doorframe on the other side. He was dressed in black once again. Did he have an aversion to other colors? She supposed it didn’t really matter because he looked damn good in the black suit obviously tailor-made to fit his body. Those violet eyes sought hers out immediately and a lazy grin graced his features as took her in. “Feyre darling, you look beautiful.”
“Told you I was good at casual and comfortable.” Feyre shrugged. His gaze traveled the length of her, lingering on her leggings as his grin turned absolutely feline. She hadn’t forgotten her mortifying comment about leggings the previous night, and it appeared Rhys hadn’t either. “Ready to go? I’m sure we don’t want to be late.” Feyre said hurriedly, hoping to avoid whatever smart comment was about to come out of his mouth about the leggings.
“Wait!” came Elain’s voice from the kitchen. A few moments later she rounded the corner wiping the dirt from her hands on the front of her apron. “Feyre, you forgot this.” Elain whispered as she slipped a small crystal into Feyre’s hand. Citrine for luck. Feyre nearly rolled her eyes because she was certain this was just a ruse to meet Rhys. When they were younger, Elain had bestowed protective crystals to Feyre and Nesta before they left the house in an effort to counteract things she saw in her visions, but they hadn’t done that in ages. Feyre was proven right when her sister’s eyes slid to Rhys who still stood in the doorway. Definitely a ruse. “Hi, I’m Elain, Feyre’s older sister.” she said, extending her hand around Feyre.
Rhys gave her sister a warm smile and took her hand in both of his. “It’s lovely to meet you, Elain. I’ll try not to keep Feyre out too late.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that! Keep her out as long as you want!” Elain laughed. Feyre’s eye twitched. She was going to kill her sister.
“Don’t tempt me.” Rhys said, throwing Feyre a wink that did funny things to her heart.
“Okay! We really need to get going, thanks Elain!” Feyre said quickly as she crowded Rhys out onto the porch. Feyre heard him chuckle as she threw a pointed look at Elain over her shoulder. Elain just wiggled her fingers at Feyre. “Have fun!” she called just before the front door closed on its own.
Feyre turned back to Rhys as they made their way down the front steps. “I like your sister.” Rhys laughed, obviously catching on to the whole “you forgot something” ruse.
“So, do I. Most days. I’m not certain that today is one of those days.” she replied jokingly. Elain was one of the kindest people she knew, but she sure had become somewhat of a mother hen over the past few months.
Feyre’s gaze snagged on a sleek black sports car parked on the street. She had anticipated a walk to the restaurant since Rhys said it wasn’t far from Velaris, but she instantly knew this car belonged to the vampire next to her. “Of course, that’s what you drive.” Feyre snorted.
Rhys whirled on her with a hand over his heart as if she’d wounded him. “What do you have against my car?” She could still detect a whisper of a grin on his lips.
“Nothing. It’s a very nice car. I just mean only you, with your fancy black clothes and egotistical personality, would bring the fanciest car to drive us just a couple blocks over.”
“Why do anything if you can’t do in style?” Rhys countered.
“Must be your life motto.” Feyre said with a roll of her eyes.
“You know you like it, Feyre darling.” Rhys grinned as they stopped in front of the car and he opened the door for her. She hated that he was right.
In a city of steel and concrete, Rita’s was a hidden, magical gem. The little restaurant was located on the bay and looked like something that belonged in a little seaside village rather than a big city. Faerie lights danced around the ceiling and cast a warm yellow glow across the inside of the restaurant while the aroma of delicious food filled her senses.
The second the hostess saw Rhys, a bright smile lit up her face and they were immediately led to a private room in the back. Feyre could hear raised voices on the other side of the door and she couldn’t stop the small sense of panic that took root inside of her. Feyre stopped just outside the door and was aware of Rhys who had to sidestep to keep from running into her. “Are you alright?” he asked softly, fingers barely grazing her elbow.
“Yeah. I’m fine.” she said, pushing away the anxiety as Rhys reached for the door handle.
“Don’t worry.” Rhys’s deep voice so close to her ear sent shivers across her body. “I guarantee they’re just arguing about something completely childish.”
Feyre almost laughed as he opened the door to reveal four people seated around an ornate wooden table. “No, I’m telling you, you’re wrong! Thor would win in a battle against Iron Man any day.” said a man with shoulder-length dark hair to the blonde woman across the table.
“As if!” scoffed the blonde. “Thor has nothing on Iron Man. Tony Stark is way too smart for the air-headed himbo who barely knows how to use his powers.”
“The man is a literal god. Az, back me up on this.”
The other dark-haired man at the table gave a slight shrug. “Sorry, but you’re both wrong. Vision is technically the smartest synthezoid in the room and has the most advantageous set of abilities.”
“I like the angry raccoon with the arsenal of weapons.” chimed the small, dark-haired woman at the end of the table, apparently speaking of Rocket as she held a goblet filled with red liquid to her lips. They were…they were all actually arguing about who was the best Marvel superhero.
“Told you it was something childish.” Rhys said from behind her. This time Feyre couldn’t stop from giggling.
At the sound of her laugh, the room became deathly quiet and four pairs of eyes zeroed in on her. Feyre backed up a few steps as the man and woman who’d been arguing both jumped out of their seats. They moved almost faster than her eyes could track and were in front of her in an instant.
The man with the shoulder-length dark hair shouldered his way in front of the blonde woman and grinned down at Feyre. “Rhysie, aren’t you going to introduce us to this beautiful lady?” he asked. Up close she could see that he was strikingly handsome with dark hair, golden eyes, deeply tanned skin. He was tall, towering over Feyre just as Rhys did, but he had a bulkier build which she could tell from the red t-shirt stretched across his chest and biceps. While Feyre appreciated his features, he did not appeal to her as Rhys did.
Rhys just chuckled. “This is Feyre Archeron. Feyre, this is my brother, Cassian.”
“Brother?” Feyre asked, quirking an eyebrow at Rhys. Her eyes flicked between Rhys and Cassian. She supposed there were certain similarities in skin tone and hair coloring, but she wouldn’t have assumed they were brothers.
“Brothers in all the ways that matter.” Rhys explained. Feyre swore she saw Cassian stand a little taller at Rhys’s words. That’s right, Rhys had said the dinner would be with his friends who were more like family. It was obvious these two men thought very highly of one another.
Cassian took Feyre’s hand and lifted it to his lips. “So nice to meet the woman who so obviously captivated our boy, Rhys.” Heat bloomed on Feyre’s cheeks as she felt Rhys stiffen behind her. Had she…captivated Rhys? Cassian continued as he leaned in closer to whisper-yell, “If you ever get tired of kicking it with this old man, I can show you some real fun.”
“You’re older than me, Cassian.” Rhys snorted.
“But I sure don’t look it.” Cassian said, giving Feyre a wink.
Feyre laughed at Cassian’s harmless flirting. “Wow, Rhys, I didn’t think it was possible, but his ego may rival yours.” Cassian barked out a laugh while Rhys blinked at her as if he couldn’t believe she’d just said. Then he gave her the most brilliant smile, giving her a glimpse of his fangs. Goddess, why was that so hot?
Before he could say another word, a hand shoved Cassian’s face out of the way and the blonde woman sidestepped him. “Please ignore the brute who didn’t even bother to comb his hair today.” Mor said, throwing a glare at Cassian before turning back to her. “Hi, Feyre, I’m Mor, Rhys’s cousin.” she said cheerily as she embraced Feyre.
The gesture surprised Feyre but she returned the hug. Mor was one of the most beautiful women she’d ever seen; blond hair fell in waves to her waist, her brown eyes were warm and kind, and her full lips were painted the same rich shade of red as the floor-length cotton dress she wore. “It’s really nice to meet you.” Feyre said. And she meant it. She’d been in the room with these people for all of three minutes, but she already liked them.
“Come and sit by me.” Mor said, slipping her arm into Feyre’s as she led them back to the table. Feyre sat down next to Mor as Rhys settled in directly across from her.
“The brooding quiet one over here is Azriel.” Mor said as Feyre turned her attention to other man at the table. Azriel was more classically handsome with his short, slightly wavy dark hair and sharp, chiseled features, but his golden eyes were a bit colder and he sat as if he were constantly on edge. Still, he turned towards her and offered her a small smile.
“Don’t tell me, another brother in all the ways that matter?” Feyre asked. Azriel laughed lightly and dipped his head toward her in confirmation. “It’s nice to meet you, Feyre.” Suddenly, a tendril of what Feyre could only describe as shadow curled over Azriel’s shoulder. Feyre stifled her surprise as she looked closer and saw that an almost indiscernible array of shadows swirled around Azriel’s tall frame. It seemed as though the shadows were somehow sentient.
“And the moody gremlin at the end of the table?” Mor continued. “That’s Amren. No blood relation either. She’s just old, grumpy vampire who occasionally offers bouts of profound wisdom.”
“And extreme sarcasm.” Rhys added from across the table, earning a laugh from Cassian.
Amren’s gaze shifted to Feyre over top of the goblet of what appeared to be full of blood, and Feyre noted the unusual, swirling silver hue of her eyes. She suddenly felt as if she were being studied beneath a microscope as Amren looked at her. “I sense great power in you, girl. Even now your magic tinges the air. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the same room as one of your kind.”
Feyre stiffened at her words. Amren must be very old; most vampires couldn’t sense magic, let alone determine the source or kind of magic. Yet somehow Amren knew Feyre was a Lunar Witch, one of the first in decades. Problem was, Feyre had barely felt her magic stir within her since the night she destroyed Tamlin’s estate. At least her magic was still present if Amren could sense it.
She caught Rhys’s questioning gaze from across the table. He’d seen her use her magic against the shifters at Velaris and had mentioned it a few times since then. Rhys was starting to catch on to her conversational redirects and Feyre knew it was only a matter of time before he pressed her about her magic.
“Rhys, please tell Cassian who the best Marvel character is.” Mor said to her cousin in an obvious attempt to break through the silence that had filled the room after Amren’s observation.
“Iron Man, no question.” Rhys said as he turned from Feyre, answering without hesitation. Feyre snorted. That checked out.
Rhys’s head whipped back to Feyre, pinning her in place with those violet eyes. “Well, Feyre darling, tell us. Who do you think the superior Marvel character is?”
Feyre thought it over for a moment. “I’d have to say Scarlet Witch. She’s ruled by her emotions, but I don’t think she can be faulted for that. Wanda’s young and even though she’s lost everyone she ever loved, she can still shove her pain and do what’s expected of her. Her magic is the most powerful and she has the potential to be the most powerful hero in the universe. In comparison, Iron Man is just a rich playboy with toys.”
Rhys stared at her with a look that bordered on amusement and pride. “But I suppose I’m also a bit partial to witches, Rhysie.” she said flashing him a small grin. For a moment she and Rhys were the only two people that existed in the room. When had banter with Rhys become so…fun?
The moment was quickly interrupted by Cassian’s boisterous laugh echoing off of the walls. “I like her, brother.” Cassian said, clapping Rhys on the back.
“Are we going to order anytime soon?” Amren inquired over top of Cassian’s laughter. “I don’t have all night to sit around and engage in arbitrary discussion with you children.”
“You got a hot date or something, Amren?” Cassian asked.
Amren chuckled. “I have prospects you couldn’t even dream of, boy. But at the moment, it just so happens I have a craving for Rita’s Florentine Steak and would like nothing more than to enjoy the meal I was promised before returning to my flat.”
“Yes, Amren, we can order now.” Rhys said, rolling his eyes as he motioned for the waitress.
The dinner went on as Feyre imaged it did every week and it was nice. Feyre realized she felt comfortable around this group. She was so used to fading into the background when she was with Tamlin’s friends, but these people welcomed her and seemed to genuinely want to hear what she had to say.
She also liked to see Rhys so relaxed around his family. It was obvious they all genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. There were inside jokes, and ridiculous arguments, a little bit of work talk, and the group certainly took every opportunity to poke fun at one another. At one point, Cassian made a joke about Rhys’s monochromatic fashion choices that nearly had Feyre in tears. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d laughed so hard.
Just after dessert was served, Rhys shed his suit jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves. The motion pulled Feyre’s attention and she suddenly found herself unable to look away from the exposed skin of Rhys’s muscular forearm. She had the sudden urge to sketch the fine lines of his arm, to recreate the elegant angle of his fingers. It was the first urge she’d had to draw in months and she suddenly wanted to know what the rest of Rhys’s body looked like beneath his clothes.
“See something you like Feyre, darling?” Rhys drawled, pinning her once again with a look that said he knew where her thoughts had just been.
“You wish.” she said, even as her cheeks flamed at having been caught staring.
His grin widened as Rhys leaned in closer to her across the table. The rest of the group were engrossed in another argument, this time about whether Cassian should get a pet. The general consensus was no.
No one was paying them any attention when Rhys whispered, “There’s something I want to show you. Do you want to get out of here?” Feyre surprised herself by nodding.
“Where are we going?” Feyre asked, wrapping her arms around herself as they stepped out into the cool night air. It took every bit of Rhys’s strength to keep from taking her into his arms to shield her from the cool breeze.
“Just two blocks up.” he replied, wanting to keep their location a surprise.
“Which is not an actual answer to my question.”
Rhys just laughed. “How about you answer a few of my questions first, Feyre darling?”
Her eyes shifted to him warily. “What do you want to know?”
Everything, he thought. “What do you do?”
“I curate an art gallery in the eastern end of the city. It’s…a pretty great job actually. I get to meet a lot of different artists and share their work with the rest of the city.” A smile graced her face as she spoke of her job.
“You enjoy art?”
“I love it. Art is the most personal and beautiful representation of emotion there is.”
“You speak as though you know from experience. Are you an artist?”
“I – not really, no.” Lie. She didn’t want to talk about her magic, and she didn’t want to admit that she was obviously an artist. Rhys had this burning need to know why she was denying herself, lying to herself, but he was trying to respect her boundaries. They still barely knew each other.
Rhys came to a stop just outside the quiet alleyway that millions of people passed by every day, unaware of the beauty inside. Feyre eyed the alley warily. “This isn’t where you murder me, is it? Because I’d like to point out that if you planned to murder me this whole time, it was incredibly stupid of you to introduce yourself to my clairvoyant sister.”
Rhys barked out a laugh. “And do I strike you as a stupid person, Feyre?”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“Then you’re just going to have to trust me when I say you’re going to like this.”
With a wave of his hand, the glamour used to disguise the alley fell away. The image of the dingy alley was replaced by the warm glow of a secret garden; a magical oasis hidden in plain sight and only accessible by those with magic. Greenery filled the space as did over two dozen species of magical flowers that charged the air with magic so potent he could practically taste it. Tall trees shot up between the buildings and provided an overhead canopy nearly dense enough to mask the fact that they were in a city. Faerie lights pulsed through the air on a current and cast a warm glow across the entire garden.
“What is this place?” Feyre asked, her voice full of wonder.
“It was originally a community garden space, but a few fairies have made it their home since. I come here to think sometimes.”
“It’s magical. Literally.” Feyre whispered, fingers grazing every plant, touching every stray bit of magic emanating from the flowers like pollen. Rhys followed behind Feyre as she wandered along the cobblestone garden path. “Elain would love this.” She laughed as the faerie lights floated down to swirl around her body.
Rhys was certain he’d never tire of hearing Feyre laugh. That damned invisible thread pulled tighter in his chest as he gazed at her, urging him to tell Feyre she was his mate. But how could he tell her now? She’d just got out of a relationship and he wasn’t sure how Feyre would respond to the idea of being his forever. Most species weren’t blessed with a mate like vampires were.
Just then, a stray breeze blew Feyre’s long hair to the side, giving Rhys a glimpse of her exposed back. His eyes were immediately drawn to the intricate tattoo of the moon phases along her spine. Rhys sucked in a breath as he realized what Feyre was and what Amren’s comment at dinner meant. Feyre was a Lunar Witch. Without even thinking, he reached out a hand to trace the design and immediately felt magic rise to meet his fingertips. The tattoo was a harnessing spell; most lunar witches get similar spelled tattoos to focus their often-potent magic. Rhys hadn’t heard of a Lunar Witch in decades, longer even. Something tugged at the back of his mind, something that didn’t sit quite right with Rhys, but Feyre turned to face him then and his mind went blank.
“Thank you for bringing me here, Rhys.”
“You’re welcome, Feyre darling.” he said as he tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear. Rhys slowly traced his fingers along her jaw and down the curve of her neck, across that damned pulse point that beckoned him. Feyre looked up at him through her lashes and he knew what she wanted, what she needed. When Feyre’s eyes fluttered closed, Rhys closed the distance between them and pressed his lips to hers.
He was finally kissing his mate. Feyre’s soft lips moved against his and Cauldron she tasted so good. Her arms slid up around his neck and Rhys gripped her hips softly, marveling at the feel of her. It felt so right to have her in his arms, to have her lips beneath his.
Suddenly they were all over each other. Her hands were in his hair as she pressed every inch of her body against his. A low growl escaped Rhys as his own hands roamed the exposed skin of her back and skimmed over the curve of her ass before he lifted her by the thighs. Feyre wrapped her legs around his waist and her small whimper nearly shredded Rhys’s self-control.
Rhys sat them down on a nearby bench so that Feyre straddled his lap as he planted kisses along her jawline, down her neck. His fangs grazed her skin and he felt Feyre’s breath hitch, but she didn’t pull away. Fuck, what he wouldn’t give for just a small taste of her blood. Rhys instinctively held her closer and fisted her hair to angle her head further to the side. Feyre’s moan told him that she would welcome his bite, that she wanted it, but Rhys forced himself to hold back. He was certain that if he bit her now, he would lose his control and then his mind, which was not what either of them needed right now. Rhys willed himself to remain calm, even as everything in him was screaming to claim, claim, claim.
Suddenly Feyre froze in his arms. “Rhys, what’s happening?” she breathed. Rhys opened his eyes to find that he’d unknowingly called on his darkness and Feyre now stared open-mouthed at the inky night that surrounded them like a cocoon.
“Wow. Your magic. It’s incredible.” she whispered, lifting a hand to sift through the darkness. Rhys’s heart swelled at her words, at the realization that Feyre wasn’t afraid of his darkness. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Rhys shrugged. “The best anyone can figure is that my powers are a manifestation of my mixed heritage. A vampire has to hide from the light, so my powers evolved and provided a way for me to wield the night.”
“You’re really…unexpected, you know that?” Feyre said, resting her forehead against his.
“Better than a stupid murderer I suppose.”
“Prick.” she muttered. Rhys thought he glimpsed a hint of a smile on her face.
Rhys was suddenly very aware of the fact that Feyre still straddled him and as much as he loved this position, it was late and if she didn’t move right this moment, he was going to ravish her completely.
He quickly lifted Feyre by the hips and set her on her feet. Rhys intended to pull away, but because he was a selfish bastard, he stole one more kiss from her before whispering, “Come on, I’ll take you home.” Feyre gave him another smile that melted his heart and as they exited the garden, Rhys noticed that she walked significantly closer to him.
Rhys placed his hand on the small of her back and as he caught another glimpse of her tattoo, the thought that had tugged at his mind earlier resurfaced. Tamlin’s possessiveness over Feyre didn’t make sense, nor did his desire to control the woman he claimed to love. The knowledge that Feyre was a Lunar Witch changed everything.
Tamlin’s family was cursed by the moon goddess to shift against their will under every full moon. Werewolves didn’t exist per se, but it was one of Tamlin’s family members who started the popular myth among humans. The story of Tamlin’s family curse wasn’t well-known throughout the magical community, but Rhys had needed dirt on the Rose family a few decades back and, after some digging, had discovered what most had forgotten.
Tamlin and his father had scoured the worlds for a way out of the curse, and it seemed Tamlin finally found a loophole. Anger bubbled up within Rhys as the pieces started to fall into place. Was it possible that Feyre’s lunar magic could somehow reverse or negate the effects of the curse? Had Feyre been nothing more than a pawn to Tamlin; an accessory? The urge to kill the shifter returned with a vengeance.
Rhys knew he should tell Feyre what he suspected. It was obvious she harbored no fond feelings for the shifter, but he didn’t want to ruin her night with such a revelation. Tonight, he’d glimpsed the Feyre he’d met at Velaris; the woman who had laughed and danced so freely, and had stirred something within Rhys. The shadows he normally saw in her eyes were gone and he just couldn’t bring himself to burden her with bad news. He would tell her. Just not tonight.
Part 1 | Part 2
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