Once Upon a Rainbow, Volume Two

Once Upon a Rainbow, Volume Two

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Overview

Once Upon a Rainbow, Volume Two by Jennifer Cosgrove, Tray Ellis, Sita Bethel

Your favorite stories from childhood have a new twist. Eight fairy tales of old with characters across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

Coming Home by Jennifer Cosgrove – No one ever expects to be Prince Charming.

Snow Fox by Sara Codair – Jealous Queen E’s attempts on Snow Fox’s life are trending.

Deathless by Emmalynn Spark – Love means finding new ways.

At Her Service by K.S. Trenten – Dancing to her true desire.

Finding Aurora by Rebecca Langham – Setting out to save the sleeping princess does not go as planned.

Master Thief by Sita Bethel – He became the greatest thief in the world so he could steal his squire’s heart.

The True Love Curse by Tray Ellis – True Love would be wonderful, but the curse keeps getting in the way.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781947904989
Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC
Publication date: 01/26/2018
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.71(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

"I REALLY DON'T want to go." Scott fiddled with his bow tie and glared at his reflection. He glanced up to include his father in the hard look but sighed as he took in the resignation on his own face in the mirror.

"I know. But you knew this was coming," his father said.

Unfortunately, that was the truth. It'd been inevitable. Scott just didn't have the balls to disappoint.

"At least you're going with a friend."

That was also true. It was known among the society in which they lived that Scott was gay, but it would be a step too far to bring a guy as a date to his sister's "coming out" gala. The irony wasn't lost on him, but it wasn't like he was dating anyone anyway. And it wasn't worth the attention. The lip service to "support" and "inclusion" was laughable, but he'd gotten over letting them get to him a long time ago. Besides, it wasn't like he was the rebel son who got his picture taken stumbling out of a club at two o'clock in the morning, though that might have been more fun.

"You're right." Scott turned around so that his father could straighten the bow tie for him. "At least Lizzie seems pretty happy about it."

His father rolled his eyes, and they shared a grin. "I'll be just as glad as you when this thing is over." Lizzie, or Elizabeth as she insisted on being called, had been a nightmare to be around the last few weeks. Everything was overdramatized; the smallest thing going wrong was the end of the world. It had been enough to force Scott and his father to contemplate an extended trip to Europe, but his mother had put a stop to that.

They turned as the elevator dinged, and Scott sighed with relief. "Ah, there's Molly."

Molly entered the sitting room just as they walked in. She smiled when she saw them. "You two look great."

"And you look lovely as always, Molly dear." Scott's dad stepped forward to kiss her cheek. "Are you ready to get this over with?" Molly laughed. "Oh, it's not so bad. I survived mine." Hers had been two years ago, and Scott had been her escort then as well. Now Molly had a boyfriend, who was unfortunately out of town for work. The lucky bastard. This worked well for Scott, but he knew Molly would rather Michael be there. Scott liked Michael and was glad Molly had found someone who treated her with the respect and love she deserved. He hugged her quickly, careful not to smudge her makeup.

"Nice dress." Scott took her hand and held it up so she could twirl around. "Your design?" Molly was a budding designer, just starting to make a name for herself. In fact, getting the nod to design Lizzie's dress had been a bit of a coup. It was the only decision of Lizzie's Scott had agreed with in regard to the whole damn thing. At least Molly would get some good exposure.

"Of course." She smoothed down the dark blue fabric. "I know it's gauche to wear the same designer as the special girl, but since I am the designer —" She shrugged. "Oh, well." Molly looked Scott over with a critical eye. "All right, your turn. Spin." He rolled his eyes, and she snapped her fingers at him. "Come on, we don't have all day."

Scott held out his arms and turned around. She brushed over his shoulders and ran a hand down his lapel before giving his pocket square a tug to return it to the correct angle. It coordinated with her dress exactly, which wasn't a coincidence, since she had tailored that as well.

"Do I pass?"

She patted his cheek and then tweaked his nose. "You'll do, I guess."

He crooked his arm and she took it.

"Ready, Mr. Prince?"

Scott's dad was watching them with amusement. He knew his parents had expected them to become a couple someday. They'd been sure Scott and Molly would end up married and living happily ever after, because who better to marry than your best friend? That was before Scott had realized the reason he didn't look at Molly as anything more than a friend, of course.

To their credit, Scott's parents had mostly taken it all in stride. Scott was grateful for their support, though his mother had been a tougher nut to crack. Scott had expected that, to be honest. She was far more concerned with what everyone would think than anything else. He had never been able to tell if it was worry for him and how society would treat him or for herself and her standing with her peers. She'd relaxed a bit when she realized no one really cared, at least on the surface.

"Sure. The car's waiting downstairs." His dad pushed the elevator button. When the doors opened, he turned to them both. "Once more into the breach."

"Lead on, MacDuff," they both repeated dutifully.

THE PARTY ITSELF wasn't nearly as bad as Scott had expected. The food was excellent, of course, and many of the people weren't entirely horrible. The crowd was a mix of Lizzie's friends from school and the up-and-coming that wanted to be seen. It wasn't his preferred crowd, but the people he was close to where a very small group: his family, Molly ... and not really anyone else. Scott frowned down at his drink. The excuse was that going to university kept him busy. The reality was he took it far more seriously than the majority of his peer group. He didn't want to just slide by on his parents' dime, which made him the exception to the rule.

He walked around the outskirts of the room, champagne in hand. Molly had disappeared earlier, a dress emergency or something like that pulling her away with a promise to be back as soon as she could. He hated being alone at events like this. He was inevitably cornered by someone who either "forgot" he wasn't interested in girls and wanted to introduce him to their daughter, or businessmen who wanted to talk him up to get close to his father. Molly had told him that he should learn to trust people a little more, but it was hard to let himself do that. He wanted to be more than a name.

Scott shook off the thought and continued his way around the room, sipping at his drink. He didn't even like champagne, but it kept up appearances and gave him something to do with his hands. He looked up just in time to catch his mother's eye and braced himself as she headed his way. He hadn't seen her since earlier in the afternoon when she and Lizzie had disappeared to do whatever they needed to do to get ready. The quiet had been nice.

He put on his best smile and brushed a kiss to her cheek. "Everything looks great, Mom."

"It does. You look very handsome." She squeezed his hand. "Did you speak to Ms. Vanderhook? Or Ms. Smith-Masterson?"

Scott fought the urge to roll his eyes. Ms. Vanderhook was one of those who was convinced that her daughter was perfect for him and he would "change his mind" if he would just give her a try. It was more than a little insulting to both of them. He didn't know much about Ms. Smith-Masterson, except that she also had a few daughters and he wanted to avoid her.

"Mom, I —"

She squeezed his hand again. "I know, darling. I know. But, if you would just talk to them to be polite." Be polite. How many times had he heard that in his life? Scott sighed.

"Fine. I'll be polite. Just for you." He was playing it up, but it was worth it for the small smile she directed his way. "I see Ms. Vanderhook now. Might as well get this over with." He finished off his champagne and grabbed another glass off the tray of a dark-haired waiter without a second glance, his eyes on Ms. Vanderhook and her daughter. Here goes nothing.

WELL, THAT HAD been awful. Scott had managed to dodge all of the less-than-subtle hints that he should ask Tiffany Vanderhook out on a date, but it had been exhausting. He'd managed to escape without seeing Ms. Smith-Masterson at all. He pushed his way through the kitchen and out the back double doors, ignoring the looks the staff gave him. He hated getting in the way, but he needed a few minutes alone.

The doors opened up into an alleyway, flanked by a dumpster on one side and a recycling bin on the other. It was fairly clean as far as alleyways went, but he had to walk past the dumpster to find somewhere to lean that wouldn't mess up his tux jacket. What would his mom say then? Or Ms. Vanderhook?

Scott snorted at the thought and immediately started to cough from a lungful of cigarette smoke that had snaked around the side of the dumpster.

A voice followed it. "Oh man, I'm sorry!" A young man about his age stepped from the dark corner where he'd been squatting to keep out of sight. "I'm not even supposed to be smoking." He stubbed out the cigarette on a brick and flicked it into the dumpster, waving his hand to clear the remaining smoke away.

Scott cleared his throat and glanced up to get a better look at the man as he stepped into the light. His breath caught, which almost triggered another coughing fit. The light behind the man seemed to make his skin glow, pale against dark hair and an even darker shirt. The lack of a jacket only accentuated his broad shoulders and —

"Are you okay?"

Scott's gaze flicked up to meet pale blue eyes full of concern. He nodded, clearing his throat again. "Yeah. I'm fine." Realizing he was staring, he looked away and shoved his hands in his pockets. "You're not going to get in trouble, are you?"

"For what? Smoking? Nah." The man grinned at him, and for a split second, Scott had the giddy thought that he'd do anything to make him grin like that again. It was cocky and wonderful, and nothing like what he was used to. The man mirrored Scott by putting his hands in his own pockets and leaning against the wall on one shoulder. He seemed totally at ease with himself and utterly unfamiliar.

Scott had been convinced he knew all of the children of the so-called elite, but he couldn't remember seeing this man before. He was fairly certain he would have remembered.

"You didn't have to stop on my account."

That got another grin.

"I mean, I'm better off when I know it's coming."

The man raised his eyebrows and Scott backtracked.

"I mean, um. Shit." He rubbed the back of his neck, and the man laughed at him, but it wasn't mocking at all. If anything, he sounded delighted at Scott's inept flirting, such as it was.

"It's okay. I've been trying to quit anyway." The man's eyes crinkled in the most adorable way, and Scott wanted to find out more. He hadn't asked him if he was "Edwin's son," while knowing full well who he was. That happened more often than it should. "Hey, I was —" He was interrupted by a beeping coming from his phone. He dragged it out of his pocket and turned it off. "Shit. Sorry, I've got to go back inside. Maybe I'll see you around?"

"Sure. See you around." Scott waved like a dork, pulling another smile from the man's expressive face. The door closed behind him, and Scott slumped against the wall, resisting the urge to beat his head against it. He hadn't even gotten the man's name. The man had to be inside somewhere. Maybe he could just find him again. Scott tried the door handle, but it had automatically locked behind the man. He must not have closed it all the way before or missed something propping it open. He sighed and looked down the alley. He'd have to walk around the block to get back to the front. At least he would be able to put off talking to whoever else his mother decided to put in his path. He smiled to himself at that thought and started walking. The memory of the mysterious stranger's crooked grin kept him company.

"WHERE HAVE YOU been?"

Scott had just returned to the main event room when Molly found him. She tucked her hand in his elbow and marched him toward the front of the room, never losing the pleasant smile on her face. The grip on his arm told a different story.

"What the hell, Molly?" Scott leaned toward her, also keeping the well-practiced public face firmly in place. "I was only gone for a few minutes."

"Your mother is making me crazy and I need you." She sighed and loosened her hold on him. "Sorry."

"What's going on?" Scott was listening, but he was also looking around the hall for the man from the alley. It would be just his luck if he'd already left. Molly was telling him something that she had to fix on the dress, and he should have been paying attention but he couldn't help it.

"— and then she wanted me to sew bells all around the bottom."

Scott blinked back to her, and she laughed.

"You haven't been listening to a word I've said."

"Sorry." He was sorry. Molly was a good friend, and she deserved his attention. "What were you saying?"

Molly tilted her head and looked up at him. "What's going on with you?" She had an uncanny sense when something was off, and he knew she wouldn't drop it until he gave up the goods.

He huffed out a breath and led her over to an empty corner, snatching up two more glasses as they went. He wasn't buzzed yet, but he was getting there. Plus, he needed a drink for the amount of teasing he was about to get. She raised her eyebrows as he drank half the glass in one go and then grimaced.

"Okay. So Mom made me talk to Ms. Vanderhook —"

"Ugh. And Tiffany? No wonder you disappeared." Molly sipped her drink. "Where did you go?"

"I ducked out through the kitchen to get some fresh air —"

"And hide."

Scott rolled his eyes. "Yes. And hide." He couldn't help the grin on his face. "Anyway, there was this guy out there."

"A guy? Please tell me this doesn't involve your dick."

"Molly!" Scott glared at her, and she smiled sweetly. "It does not involve my dick. God."

She gestured at him to continue.

"He was nice."

"Oh, really?" She was smirking now. "He was nice?"

Scott grinned down at his feet. "Yeah. I don't think he knew who I was."

"Oh." She lost the smirk and curled a hand around his, lacing their fingers together. It was something they'd always done. For comfort, for support. She understood exactly what he was saying. "What was his name?"

"I have no idea."

"You didn't get his name?" Molly squeezed his hand. "Why the hell not?"

"I was going to, but he had to go." It sounded lame even to Scott. "He's got to be here somewhere."

"You haven't seen him since?" Molly looked around like she would magically be able to pick him out of the crowd. "What did he look like?" "About my height, dark hair, light blue eyes." He grinned to himself. "Great smile."

"Wow. We really need to find him." She tapped her glass to his. "Mission accepted."

IT DIDN'T HAPPEN that night. Lizzie was officially introduced to society in what Scott and Molly agreed was an antiquated tradition that they would both be happy to see the back of. Scott went to bed feeling like he had lost something. Even though they'd only spent a minute or two together, he really wanted to find this new mystery man. He winced at the thought; if he'd said that out loud, he'd have sounded like a stalker.

At least his bedroom ceiling wouldn't judge. It was still early, and he didn't feel like getting up in the slightest. There was coffee steaming on the side table, and he didn't need anything else at the moment. It was Saturday. The only things he had on the agenda were a dumb essay that was due Monday and moping over the mystery man. He sighed when there was a knock on the door. That would be Molly.

The door opened, and she huffed in annoyance as he kept his eyes fixed on the ceiling.

The bed dipped as she clambered onto it and slid to sit against the headboard so she could glare at him properly. "What are you doing?"

"Sleeping?" Scott looked over as she drank a sip of his coffee and opened his laptop, which had been abandoned beside him on the bed. "Just make yourself at home."

"Please. I've been at home here since the third grade." She typed in his password without blinking, rolling her eyes before he could protest. "Don't even. You are way too easy." She pulled up a website with a few keystrokes and turned the screen toward him. It was an article about a charity event, something that would be a mix of his peers and his parents. "What do you think?"

"What do I think about what?"

Molly stared at him like he was dense.

"What?"

She scrolled down to the end and looked at him expectantly. When he didn't react, she sighed heavily. "We need to go to this. Tonight."

Scott stared at her questioningly. "Don't we hate those things?" Molly flicked him on the ear. "There'll be a good chance of your mystery man showing up. Wouldn't you like to see him again? And actually get his name this time?"

Scott opened his mouth and then closed it again. That ... wasn't a bad idea. If the guy was there, it would be a second chance to talk to him, and if he wasn't, then it would be an event that his mother would love for him to go to. And for him to attend without her asking would just be the icing on the cake.

"Yes. Let's do that. Can we get a last-minute invite?"

Molly laughed. "I just happen to have an invitation. You can be my plusone."

"Aren't I always?" He knocked his elbow against hers. "At least until Michael gets back."

"God, I miss him." She sighed and dropped her head onto Scott's shoulder. He made a gagging sound and she elbowed him, probably harder than necessary.

"Ow! I was just kidding." He put an arm around her. "He'll be back soon."

"I know." Molly sat up straighter and grinned. "At least playing fairy godmother for you will keep my mind off things."

Scott groaned and turned away from her, then slid down and pulled the covers over his head. She wouldn't let this go until he had the guy's number. Or a restraining order.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Once Upon a Rainbow, Volume Two"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Cosgrove.
Excerpted by permission of NineStar Press, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Coming Home by Jennifer Cosgrove,
Snow Fox by Sara Codair,
Deathless by Emmalynn Spark,
At Her Service by K.S. Trenten,
Shattered Glass by Lina Langley,
Finding Aurora by Rebecca Langham,
Master Thief by Sita Bethel,
The True Love Curse by Tray Ellis,

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