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You Taught Me to Fly

Lucas Sullivan has a massive crush on one of the school’s most popular guys: Elijah Rhodes. Trouble is, the only person he’s come out to so far is his sister. And what are the chances Elijah could return his feelings? He barely even knows Lucas exists! But when fate throws the two seniors together, they discover they’ve been harboring mutual feelings for each other for a while. This is just the start of their love story!

Age Rating: 18+ (Homophobic abuse)

Warning: this book contains material that may be considered upsetting of disturbibng. Reader discretion is advised.

Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.

 

You Taught Me to Fly by Terran Dowling is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

Summary

Lucas Sullivan has a massive crush on one of the school’s most popular guys: Elijah Rhodes. Trouble is, the only person he’s come out to so far is his sister. And what are the chances Elijah could return his feelings? He barely even knows Lucas exists! But when fate throws the two seniors together, they discover they’ve been harboring mutual feelings for each other for a while. This is just the start of their love story!

Age Rating: 18+ (Homophobic abuse)

Warning: this book contains material that may be considered upsetting of disturbing.

Reader discretion is advised.

Original Author: Terran Dowling

Note: This story is the author's original version and does not have sound.

“You’re staring again,” Autumn, my sister, said to me.

She’d been adopted by my parents about four years after me and my twin (not identical) brother, Dave, had been born, just a year younger than us.

She was as much my sister as Dave was my brother, because family isn't always blood.

Anyways, the most popular guy in the school had just entered the cafeteria on his way back from lunch.

He was a senior in high school (same for me; both of us were nineteen years old due to our birthdays causing us to start school a year later than most).

Being a senior meant, if he wanted, he could go off campus for lunch, as long as he was back before the bell rang. I could do the same, I just chose not to.

Elijah Rhodes, that being my crush by the way, was twenty minutes early, which was…unusual. Normally he didn’t get back until five minutes before bell.

So…yes, I was staring. No, I didn’t want to admit it. Nobody knows I’m gay, except my sister.

Oh, I’m Lucas; Lucas Sullivan.

I watched, unable to look away, as Elijah strode oh-so-confidently in his faded skinny jeans, converse sneaks, and tight white tee-shirt underneath an open button-up plaid shirt.

His hair was dark and unruly, perpetually always looking like he was just coming from having wild sex. He wasn’t muscular, but I loved that.

It was known to the whole school that he was gay. That’s why I had such a crush on him.

That and, whenever he smiled, which was often, it would light up his baby blue eyes, plus several other reasons.

Autumn lightly kicked my shin with her foot (we sat on opposite sides of the booth) after a few minutes of me watching Elijah.

Her kick did two things: brought me back from my incessant daydreaming, and made me notice his friends, a couple of them, starting to notice my stare.

I looked away, down at the untouched meatloaf on my tray where I sat in embarrassed silence.

“You really should eat,” my sister advised quietly. “Gym is next and you know how brutal your coach is.”

I made a face at the meatloaf, my stomach churning at the thought of eating it. “If I eat it, I’ll throw up next period for sure.”

“And if you don’t, you might pass out.”

“I’ll take passing out to throwing up, thanks.”

She sighed heavily. “Did you bring any allowance money with you?”

I looked up into her eyes to give her a do you not know me look. Of course I hadn’t brought my allowance money.

That was stashed in…a safe place…for emergencies only. This was hardly an emergency. I’d had a big breakfast! I was fine!

My stomach growled.

Okay, maybe I wasn’t so fine.

Autumn gave me a look of I told you so.

What was I to do? I certainly wasn’t going to—

“Here, you stubborn pillock,” Dave said, tossing a bag of my favorite brand of nacho chips into my lap as he slid into the booth beside our sister.

Grateful for the chips, I looked at him, smiled, and said: “Thanks, twat.”

Dave and I often called each other these names. It was our thing. No, I have no idea why.

He grinned in response, and then asked how our days had gone so far. After we replied, he filled us in on his eventful morning.

“Leilani asked me out after third.”

Autumn and I gasped aloud at the same time. That was as far as our identical outburst went, however.

While she said: “Oh my god, that’s great!”

I said: “Shit, no way!”

Which…apparently…was the wrong thing to say.

While Dave had dismissed it, my sister gave me a dark look.

“‘Shit, no way’?” She repeated, incredulous. “Really, Luke?”

My brain stalled, shocked by the venom in her gaze. She continued without a response from me.

“Do you mean to say that Dave is incapable of getting a date?”

“No!” I exclaimed. If anything, he was the most capable of the whole school.

“Oh! So, then you think women can’t ask men out, is that it?!”

Dave and I both stared at her as if she had three heads. Both of us exclaimed:

“Of course not!”

I added on: “Sis, what’s going on? Why are you attacking like this?”

She didn’t reply, only staring down at her tray. Dave and I exchanged a silent glance, and decided to let it go. She’d talk to us when she wanted to, or she wouldn’t. That was that.

I looked at my brother again and said quietly:

“I really think that’s great, bro.”

“Thanks,” he replied. We cast one final uneasy glance our sister’s way and then let the silence settle around us.

Later on, after school, just as I was about to exit the building and head towards my car, she approached me.

“Hey, Autumn,” I greeted her.

She looked surprised. “You don’t seem mad.”

Now I was surprised. Well, actually more confused than anything else.

“Why would I be mad?”

“The attack at lunch.”

Oh, yeah, that.

I shrugged. “It’s okay, just a misunderstanding.” I started on my way once more towards the exit.

She placed a hand on my arm, stopping me just before I made it. My mind rebelled just a little bit at being stopped so close to freedom.

“Luke, it’s not okay. You didn’t deserve that. I should’ve known better. At the very least, I should've acted better.”

I looked at the ginger-haired girl standing beside me looking so sad and went to hug her.

“Sis, I love to death how you jump to Dave’s defense the way that you do. It’s comforting to know he will always have at least one ally to defend him at all times no matter where he’s at.

“And by that I mean if he’s out with you he’ll have you, and if he’s out with me, he’ll have me.”

I wasn’t sure if I was making a lick of sense but I think she got it. I tend to over-explain things, not sure why I do that, either.

“So you’re really not mad?”

I pressed a kiss to her bright red hair.

“Really, really, sis. You riding home with me?”

“No, I have band practice.” She kissed my cheek, noticeably cheerier. “Thanks, Luke.”

I offered her a grin.

“No problem. Show ’em who’s boss.”

She smiled and started off towards the band room and I finally got my freedom from this school for the day.

That night, as I was winding down for bed, Dave came into my room. Well, our room; we shared the room and a bunk bed.

Still, he climbed up to the top bunk where I sat, sat beside me, and asked me a question I’d dreaded for a while he’d ask.

“Who are you taking to Friday’s homecoming dance?”

Immediately my brain began to panic. If I said no one, he’d ask why, and I’d have to lie further.

If I told the truth and said I’d be working Friday night with Elijah and the rest of the theater crew.

Elijah was not a jock, he was a theater actor, and I worked on, like, the sets and stuff, I worried my brother might start to wonder if I had a thing for the lead actor.

There was no real reason for my brain to think he'd make that leap but…still.

I wasn’t ready for him to find out that I did indeed have a thing for another guy–if he somehow made that leap–let alone the most popular one in our school.

I also worried about being judged for it, fearing that he and anyone else who found out would consider me superficial.

I agonized over this for a quite a bit before realizing the idiot I was to agonize over this at all, as it sunk in just how far I was letting my anxiety take me.

“I have to work Friday night, on sets, while the cast rehearses.”

He looked confused, and for a good half a minute, my panic absolutely skyrocketed, three times stronger than before.

I thought that somehow he’d made that impossible connection. In truth, I was just overreacting…you know…like I do.

“Don’t they need the stage to rehearse?”

He had never been in the theater, and probably never would be, even to save his life. It wasn’t that he hated theater or anything.

He simply held absolutely no interest for it. Science however…

I’m getting off course.

“Dave, there’s a whole space behind the curtain at the back of the stage, which is where I build the sets while the cast rehearses in front.”

He looked shocked.

“Wait…there’s not a wall right behind that?”

I laughed, unable to help it. The responding look on his face cut my laughter short, though. I put an arm around him and squeezed.

“Bro, the theater is a magical place full of many secrets.”

He groaned, rolled his eyes, and playfully shoved me away from him.

“Oh, get off it.” He maneuvered his way down the ladder to the ground and looked up at me. “Wish you were coming to the dance, though.”

He loved those social events but I hated them.

As for Elijah…well, all I really know is that he takes his art seriously. He probably likes dances? He seemed social enough.

I couldn't say for sure, as I'd never bothered to go to any of these social events.

I forced a smile at my twin, and made a promise I already regretted:

“Maybe I’ll stop by if rehearsals end early.”

The reason my schedule was so tied into the rehearsals was because I was only allowed to work on the set as long as the cast was rehearsing.

I guess either group wasn't allowed to work on their own without the other? I’m not sure why the director wanted it that way, but…that’s how it’s always been at this school.

Dave, seeming to accept my promise, gave me a smile and left the room to go get ready for bed. I began to let my mind wander about what tomorrow afternoon would entail.

I was always thrilled at the prospect of Elijah being so close…just on the other side of that curtain. Almost as if I could just reach out and…

I sighed. Friday afternoon wasn’t getting here fast enough.

 

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2

Minutes seemed to tick by at an agonizing slow pace Friday (when it’d finally arrived), and I tried everything I could think of to distract myself from what this afternoon might entail.

When lunch finally arrived, the day now half over, I expected (or rather hoped for) it to go faster.

That didn’t happen. Instead of counting the minutes to the end of last period, I began counting the minutes to when Elijah might show up.

It was the longest forty minutes of my life, but worth it when he walked in again fifteen minutes earlier than his usual (twenty minutes before the end of lunch), causing my heart to leap into my throat.

It didn’t help when his gaze slid my way for a split second, his lips twitched towards a smile before he was gone seconds later. The only downside was that his friends had immediately begun snickering.

I couldn’t breathe.

Did he really just send a smirk my way?

“Dude, did you SEE that?!” Autumn exclaimed. Slowly, I looked at her, and slowly my brain became painfully aware of the fact that that had really happened.

“Wait, you saw…”

“Elijah give you a grin as he passed, yes!” She was looking so excited.

“And I…”

“Stared right back.”

Fuck!

“So he saw…”

Her smile began to wane. “You’re looking panicked.”

She wasn’t wrong there, though “panicked” didn’t seem adequate enough somehow. No, this was far more intense. Was there a word for that??

Elijah wasn’t supposed to, like, see me staring at him.

His friends before this had no doubt whispered rumors of it, I’m sure he knew, but like…I don’t know…it was different when the subject of your crush actually fully sees you staring at them.

Oh god, what have I done?!

I felt a hand on my arm and jumped at the touch. It was just my sister; her hand stayed.

“Hey,” she said soothingly, “it’s okay, Luke. I’m sure he’s flattered.”

I shook my head. No, he would not be flattered. He’d be horrified. He was simply nice enough not to show it…around me. Hence why his friends had immediately started snickering.

I folded my arms on the table, letting out a groan as I rested my head against them. It was all over now.

When the time came for rehearsals, a time that had once been taking forever to get here had now gotten here way too fast, I stood paralyzed at the closed theater doors, all too painfully aware of what…or rather who…was on the other side.

My anxiety-riddled brain went through scenario after scenario of what could happen the minute I stepped through those doors, all of them unpleasant, all of them ending with everyone in the theater laughing and making fun of me.

Reality was that I walked in and…nothing happened. Nobody looked up, Elijah least of

all. He didn’t start in on how someone like me dared to crush on someone like him. Nobody pointed, nobody laughed.

The only significant thing that happened was the director expressing his relief that I was here.

I didn’t dare look at Elijah as I headed towards the back of the stage. At this rate, it was going to be a long afternoon.

Around five, the director called all of us, cast and crew near the stage, to “try something new” as he put it.

What it entailed, much to my horror, was the cast was to run lines with people they’d never run lines with before, which involved the crew.

He left us to pair off and everyone in the group found a partner, except Elijah…and me.

“Is there really nobody here who’s never run lines with Eli?” the director asked.

That’s when Elijah’s gaze fell on me.

That’s when my brain fully realized the truth.

I was the only one.

Apparently he’d already run lines with the crew outside of class, having taken initiative to challenge himself creatively (which only served to add to my attraction to him).

I stood absolutely frozen in fear.

The director noticed Elijah’s stare, and looked at me. He began to smile.

“Found him?” He asked, looking back to Elijah.

He nodded, his eyes seeming gentle, though his expression was serious.

Oh god, I chanted in my head, oh god, oh god, oh god…

“Alright, guys! Get to it!”

Cast and crew spread out through the theater; Elijah headed towards his bag on one of the center theater seats in the front row.

I remained, still frozen by the steps to the stage, knowing I should go down them and meet him halfway so he didn’t do all the work, but my body refused to do a thing.

He approached slowly, holding two scripts, looking like he felt as awkward about this as I did, but then, in a blink of an eye, he offered a smile and a script, and said:

“I don’t bite, you know.”

I forced a laugh that sounded too obviously forced, took the script, and said:

“I know. I’m just…not good at…uhm…”

His eyes grew softer still with a total non-judgmental understanding.

“All you gotta do is read the cues. I have them highlighted as such.”

I opened the script and saw what he meant.

I could do this.

…If I didn’t focus on the fact that I was standing two feet away from the one guy in the whole school that I had a massive crush on. Heh. I could totally do that…yeah.

“So, we’re going to, if you don’t mind, start with scene three. It’s the one I have the most trouble remembering.”

I nodded, found scene three, and saw I started first with a cue and so we began. My hands shook so badly and despite trying with everything I had to get them to stop, they did not.

By the time we got to the end of the script though, about forty minutes later, I had relaxed and realized I was even having a little bit of fun.

Oh, I had absolutely no career in acting, but I got to watch his expressions up close, which enabled me to marvel over how beautiful each and every one of them was.

I got to see what he looked like when he was concentrating. I even got to share some laughs with him when he got lost in the moment and over gestured or spoke too loudly and then become self-conscious about it.

His passion was limitless. His passion was marvelous. I was completely enthralled.

Just as we finished the script entirely, the director said it was time for the cast to come back together for more practice.

Truthfully? I was sad about this, knowing I was likely never going to get another chance like this again.

It was the perfect moment to say something, but I froze once again, said my goodbyes, and went back to work. It was hours before the director let us go.

When that came, a glance at my watch told me it was nearing nine in the evening. I mean, it was Friday, so that was okay homework-wise, but still, it always shocked me how late we went sometimes.

Just as I was about to leave the area where I'd stored my bag, a seat in the front row on the left side of the auditorium (when facing out from the stage), Elijah approached me, sending my heart massively aflutter.

“Hi,” I said quietly, unable to hold his gaze for long.

I’d noticed the warmth in his expression, though, the kindness shining within those beautiful blue eyes.

“Hey. So, I had a lot of fun running lines earlier.”

I looked at him, utterly shocked. He’d had fun? With me?? There was no way.

“How?” I blurted. Immediately I regretted it and didn’t know how to rectify it.

He laughed. “That right there is how. You’re not a snob. You don’t judge me for not knowing my lines already.

“And you don’t try to out-act me. Don’t get me wrong, I love this group, but a lot of them are insanely competitive.”

I’d noticed. This time I kept my silence, it was the most strategic choice. Who knew what other stupid thing I’d say?

“So, anyways, I wondered if you…maybe…wanted to go again tomorrow? Outside of school?”

My heart became far too loud; over it, I barely heard myself agreeing. Of course, my mind instantly began to panic over the prospect of being with him outside of school.

What would people think?? Still, I wanted to go.

“Yeah?” he looked…was that relief? “I mean, that’s great!”

I was so confused by how–I decided it was relief–relieved he had looked.

“Don’t most want to practice with you?”

He shrugged, his expression shutting down a bit.

“It’s Saturday, most want to be having fun on the weekends which really sucks because there’s a lot of lines to memorize and not a lot of time and I—”

“I’d be happy to help any way I can,” I interrupted, immediately berating myself for interrupting. “Sorry, that was rude.”

He smiled a little bit. “I appreciate it, though. I. Uhm. I guess we should exchange numbers?”

Oh, god. Oh, god. Oh, God.

You need to breathe; a voice in my head reminded me.

Easier said than done, I retorted.

With trembling hands that I hoped he didn’t notice, I offered him my phone so he could put in his number.

When he offered me his phone afterwards, I felt like I was going to pass out. It was a miracle I didn't drop it, in all honesty.

Was this really happening?? Or was I just daydreaming again?

With my number in his phone (which I had to triple check to make sure I’d put it in right, boy I was so nervous), I handed it back and pocketed my phone.

I completely blanked on what to say next.

“So, thanks for your help today.” God, his eyes were so blue up close. “I’ll text you later?”

“Are you going to the dance?” I asked in response instead of responding in a way a sane, normal person would respond.

I'd even had the correct words in my mind but somehow that got turned into a question about an event I used to not care about? My mind was…weird.

He blinked. “There’s a dance?”

At first I thought he was being serious and couldn’t understand how he’d missed all the posters, and I mean all the posters, plastered on every bulletin board and then some around the school.

Then he grinned, and I realized he was just yanking my chain. I really needed to get a grip.

…That sounded wrong.

Oh, crap, now all I could think about was—

Luke! I yelled at myself.

I forced a laugh; aloud to him I said: “You got me!”

He was smiling again and man, if that wasn't such a beautiful sight to see so up close.

“Seriously, though,” he replied, “yeah, I was thinking of going even though I don’t have a date.”

I bit my tongue so hard on that one, refusing the desire to ask him myself. No way was that ever happening.

“You’re the most popular dude in the school. Everyone’s gonna be thrilled that you showed up. Plenty will dance with you.”

He nodded with a little shrug. “You’re not wrong there. Are you going?”

“I wasn’t planning on it.” His look of surprise had me adding on: “Because I have social anxiety and…it’s just…”

Wait. Had I just admitted…out loud…that I was mentally incompetent in any way? Why had I done that?! Something about him was melting my defenses. …I kind of liked it.

“Oh, I understand. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen you at any of the dances.”

I nodded at him. “Social anxiety.”

He smiled yet again, his eyes were so kind, and his lips looked so soft. I bet he was a good kisser.

Ooh, to kiss him…to just…lean in, and feel those lips on mine while his arms pulled me in closer…

Luke…stop it.

“You helped me today,” Elijah was saying, “so I wanna help you. Will you grant me one dance tonight?”

And there went my breathing again.

“Y…you want to…dance…”

He nodded. “It’s a lot of fun, I promise.”

“But…yer friends…”

“Yes, they will give me shit, but it’s my life, and you should experience at least one high school dance.”

Oh god. Oh god.

Oh. My. God.

Now I had to be hallucinating.

Then he touched my arm, sending me further into my frenzy. “Please, Lucas?”

Ohhh, to hear him say my name. This was officially too much.

I heard myself saying “Yes, of course, sounds like fun,” before I could think up an excuse as to why I couldn’t.

Elijah beamed, looking so adorably thrilled. What is air??

“Okay. I need to go home to change but I hope to see you soon.”

I just nodded and then he was walking away.

As soon as he was gone from the auditorium, strength left my legs and I collapsed into one of the nearby seats, breath heaving out of me.

My hands were shaking so badly. My whole body was, actually, and there was only one person in the whole world that I could talk to about any of this: Autumn.

It…just…took me several minutes before I got my fingers to work to text her to pick me up.

 

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