Heyo. Again I’m gonna start this off by apologising for the lack of updates on this, I haven’t even been that busy, I’m just lazy like I have no excuse haha. Thanks to anyone still following this, I really do appreciate it and without messages and stuff this honestly wouldn’t have gone past the first chapter xx.
Feyre had been working for a few weeks at Mor’s coffee shop now. She worked most days when Tamlin was home, and every day when he was out of town for business. Mor loved having Feyre around to laugh with and had even told her last week that her coffee making skills had considerably improved, but Mor would still politely refuse when Feyre offered to make her a coffee.
It was long hours and the morning rush could be hectic at best, but Feyre enjoyed the challenge and it occupied her lonesome thoughts. When Tamlin was home he would disappear into his study for hours or be lost in his own thoughts when they decided to go out places for dinner. Feyre didn’t want to talk to him about his work though as she knew it would just worsen his mood, and he had made it very clear he hated talking about work with her.
Feyre had walked in one morning to see Mor attempting to decorate their specials board with crude attempts at stick figures. Feyre hadn’t meant to laugh but it caught her by surprise.
“I know I’m not very artistic but you know it’s bad when even your stick men get laughed at.” Mor huffed.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed but … does one of them have two heads?”
Mor sighed, “No, it was supposed to be a Christmas hat.”
Hesitantly, Feyre reached for Mor’s chalk, “May I?”
Mor looked surprised but handed the chalk over. She left to keep setting up chairs and tables while Feyre drew. She had a number of paints and canvas’s at home but she hadn’t felt any desire to paint lately, but Feyre got lost in her own drawing and hadn’t even noticed Mor peering over her shoulder.
“Oh my god it looks fantastic!” Mor squealed, making Feyre jump.
Feyre looked it over once, it wasn’t amazing. Done with cheap chalk and in just a few minutes, but it passed for a Winter wonderland scene with snowflakes, reindeer, and people huddled around a fire holding cups of steaming coffee. From then on Mor always got Feyre to decorate the boards after she had written on them.
Mor would sometimes leave Feyre alone for a few hours when it was quiet so she could run some errands and the trust Mor had in her blew Feyre away. Even if she wasn’t always left by herself. Most days Mor’s friends frequented the store such as Amren, a small but wicked looking woman who awed Feyre but also made her want to avoid eye contact. Amren was nothing but friendly towards Feyre and would always leave her an especially big tip so Feyre made an effort to make small talk. Amren owned her own jewellery store where she made her own accessories and was an old friend of Mor and Rhysand’s family.
Rhys’s brutish looking friends, Cassian and Azriel, were also usually hanging around the shop. Their favourite table was hidden away in a dark corner where Azriel would all but vanish in the darkness, but since Feyre had started working, Cassian would drag Azriel to tables that were closer to the counter so they could talk. Despite their imposing looks, Feyre found both of them to be quite friendly towards her and it wasn’t long before she found herself smiling before they had even entered the shop as she could hear their booming voices approaching from halfway down the street. They ordered the same thing every day, just a black coffee for Azriel, no sugar, and Cassian always had the most expensive and extravagant, whipped cream topped coffee they served, complete with chocolate and caramel syrup.
Rhys had so far kept his distance.
One morning after Lucien had dropped Feyre off for the day, Mor had been telling Feyre about an awful customer she had once had when the door swept open. Mor stopped mid sentence to beam at whoever had just entered. Feyre had her back to the door but she knew who it was was from the intensity of the gaze she felt was trained on her back.
“Well look who finally decided to come and check up on his shop.” Mor teased.
“You know I’ve been busy Mor. As I’m sure you’ve also been, training Feyre to make coffees that surpass even your own.” Rhysand purred.
Mor scoffed, “Who told you that?”
“Next time I’m locking him outside in the cold.” Mor laughed despite her icy tone. “Seriously though are you just passing through or staying for a bit?”
Rhys sighed, “I think I need to just sit down and clear my head. Wanna make me one of your famous coffees?”
“Coming right up!” Mor smiled.
“I wasn’t talking to you.” Rhys said, before flashing me a grin and taking his seat.
“How tragic. Disowned by my own cousin.” Mor said shaking her head. “He likes a cappuccino with two sugars.”
Feyre worked at the machine alongside Mor as she made other orders but Feyre could feel that violet gaze fixed only on her.
“How come Rhys hasn’t been around? Cassian and Azriel are always here.” Feyre asked Mor quietly.
“I think he’s just been really busy lately. He gets restless when he’s stressed so I doubt he wants to hang around here all day.” Mor replied as she turned on the coffee grinder.
The loud machine drowned out most sounds making Feyre nearly having to yell for Mor to hear her.
“Is it work related? The stress I mean.”
“Sort of. He works also as a spokesperson for the Illyrian community, making sure no one treats them badly.”
Feyre hadn’t had much experience with these Illyrians as she had only recently moved to town to be with Tamlin.
“Have people treated them badly in the past?” Feyre ventured.
“Oh Feyre, I wish I could say people in this town weren’t discriminatory but the world just isn’t like that.”
“I’ve never heard of Illyrians.”
“Well you live with Tamlin right? He lives in the flashy part of town, the opposite end to the Illyrian people so you probably haven’t ever seen them.”
Feyre finished making Rhysand’s coffee and moved to bring it out to him when Mor added, “He’s fussy about his coffees, sometimes I have to remake them a few times before he’s satisfied so don’t feel bad if he doesn’t drink it.”
“If he complains we’ll see how much he likes hot coffee poured in his lap.” Feyre said before freezing. Mor had turned the coffee grinder off just as Feyre had started to respond allowing Rhys to hear every word.
Deciding to play it off, Feyre continued on her path to Rhys and set the coffee down before him, arching her eyebrow in a challenge.
Rhys grinned up at her before painstakingly slowly, lifting the cup towards his lips. Feyre watched in anticipation and nearly screamed when he suddenly placed the coffee back on the table.
“It’s a little hot. I think I’ll wait for it to cool. Thank you.” Rhys said while giving her a cocky grin.
Swallowing her annoyance, Feyre marched back behind the counter with a grimace. Mor only laughed, before handing Feyre some new orders.
A few coffees later and Feyre looked up as an empty cup was set on the counter. She looked up to see Rhys gazing at her thoughtfully.
“… Was there anything else I could help you with?” Feyre asked, suddenly remembering that for all his jokes, Rhys was technically her boss.
“You changed the coffee.” Rhys said without any hint of emotion on his face.
Mor, who had been out the back gathering more stock, suddenly reappeared and miserably failed at looking like she wasn’t eavesdropping.
“I tried a different blend. Mor’s been encouraging me to experiment.”
Feyre felt the back of her neck dampen with sweat as Rhys failed to respond, only staring at her mutely.
“Did you like it? I can make another if you didn’t. I’m sorry, I know you like it a particular way-” Feyre babbled before Rhys cut her off.
“It’s okay. I liked it. Could you make me another?” Rhys asked, almost shyly. “Please?” He added as an afterthought.
Feyre nodded unable to speak she was so relieved. Rhys moved back to his table while Mor swooped in on her.
“That was incredible, you even got him to use his manners! I didn’t even see you change up the recipe.” Mor gushed.
But Feyre had already begun making a new coffee and wasn’t really paying attention to Mor.
“He always asks about you.” Mor said quietly.
“Nothing weird, just asking how you’re going at work. If you seem happy.” Mor continued.
Feyre said nothing as she went to take out the next coffee to Rhys. He smiled again at her as she placed it down and this time drank from it immediately. Mor watched them from the counter, an odd look on her face.
Over the next few days Rhys would come into the store and ask Feyre to make him a coffee. Sometimes he stayed to chat with her or Mor, other times he would have to leave quickly. Cassian and Azriel asked to try the special coffee that Rhys kept having but neither of them seemed to like it. When Amren asked to try it, she all but spat it back in the cup with an apologetic look at Feyre afterwards, “Sorry, I guess everyone likes their coffee differently.”
Feyre never made Rhys’s coffee for anyone else from then on.
One morning, Rhys was sitting in his usual spot by the counter where he could talk, and more often, tease Feyre, when Mor rushed in.
“I’m sorry I’m late Feyre! Everything’s been okay?” She asked.
“It’s fine, everything’s been going good today except for that weird guy who keeps trying to talk to me.” Feyre laughed while motioning at Rhys.
Rhys just winked and said, “I can’t start my morning without a coffee and your sweet face anymore Feyre Darling.”
Feyre responded with her usual, “Prick”, before turning away to serve a customer.
“She seems to have warmed up to you.” Mor said breezing past Rhys.
When there was no longer any people to serve, Rhys joined Feyre and Mor at the counter. He was staring at the specials board which still showed part of Feyre’s Winter wonderland scene and now also had a drawing of a coffee with a Santa face dusted in the foam.
“Now I know you didn’t draw this Mor.”
“First, I’m offended you think I have no artistic skills. Second, I’m impressed with how well you know me. Feyre is our resident artist.”
“You’re very good, ever think about doing an arts degree?” Rhysand said to Feyre.
“I have… but I don’t really think it’s for me.”
“Why not? You clearly have the talent for it.”
“I already told you, I can’t.” Feyre said angrily.
She turned from him and went to clear some dirty tables. When she returned Mor and Rhys abruptly stopped their conversation.
“Well I’m going to go do a stock order, Feyre do you think you could update the specials board? Thanks!” Mor said chirpily before disappearing out back.
Fear seized Feyre as she wiped clean the board. Rhys hadn’t said anything since she’d finished cleaning and she didn’t appreciate the way his keen eyes watched her. Feyre held up the chalk just inches from the board but couldn’t bring herself to write anything.
“What’s wrong?” Rhys asked, concern tingeing his voice.
“Nothing. I just don’t feel like doing this right now.” Feyre was horrified to feel tears beginning to well up.
Now Rhys seemed really concerned. “Feyre?” He asked. “Are you okay? Talk to me.”
Feyre couldn’t even look at him she was so embarrassed. She fought with herself for what felt like hours. On one hand she wanted to tell Rhys about her biggest weakness. But on the other, she knew she could be mocked for it or even worse, lose her job over it, and Feyre did not want to stop seeing her friends.
She almost said nothing. Almost brushed it off with an excuse. But when she looked up at Rhys’s face, his eyes were so open and trusting. Nothing but understanding touched his gaze and Feyre knew he had already guessed as much.
“I can’t read.”
Rhys nodded as if he knew all along. “Does Tamlin know?”
“And he never thought to teach you? Or get someone else to?” Now there was anger laced in his words. It instantly made Feyre recoil.
“It’s not like that. I’ve never really had to learn. And it’s not like I’m completely stupid, I’ve memorised a few basic words.”
“I’ve upset you. I’m sorry, I don’t think you’re stupid at all.” Rhys quickly apologised.
There was an awkward silence before Feyre spoke again. “I had only just started school when my mother died. My father lost everything to his grief. I dropped out of school to help out around the house. I did paper rounds to get money for food.”
“Where is your family now?”
“A few towns over. When I met Tamlin he wanted me to move in with him almost immediately but I couldn’t leave my family alone. So Tamlin promised they’d be looked after if I went with him.”
“Is that why you’ve never applied to college?”
Rhys pondered this. He started saying something before dropping it entirely. Taking a deep breath he tried a different tactic. “First, let me say that I think you’re incredible for putting your family over your own education. And while it makes no difference to me, and it doesn’t change who you are, but, if you’d like, I could teach you.”
Feyre was speechless. To her, providing and looking after her family had been second nature. No one, not even her father or sisters had ever really thanked her for it. And while it had never caused her regret, Feyre had always hated that small illiterate part of herself. She owned a phone but could barely use it. She had a job but only because it consisted of little reading. It was this that made her reach for Rhys’s hand to shake.
Rhys held her hand for just a little longer than was necessary but it didn’t feel odd to Feyre at all.