You Taught Me to Fly - Book cover

You Taught Me to Fly

T.E. Dowling

Age Rating


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+

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22 Chapters

Chapter One

“You’re gawking again,” my sister, Autumn, pointed out.

She was adopted into our family about four years after my twin brother, Dave, and I were born. She was only a year younger than us.

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

Anyway, the most sought-after guy in school had just walked into the cafeteria from lunch.

He was a senior in high school, just like me. We were both nineteen due to our late birthdays which had us starting school a year later than most.

Being a senior meant he could leave campus for lunch, as long as he was back before the bell rang. I had the same privilege, I just chose not to use it.

Elijah Rhodes, my crush, was back twenty minutes early, which was…odd. He usually didn’t return until five minutes before the bell.

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

Oh, I’m Lucas; Lucas Sullivan.

I watched, captivated, as Elijah walked confidently in his faded skinny jeans, converse sneakers, and tight white tee-shirt under an open plaid button-up shirt.

His hair was dark and messy, always looking like he had just had wild sex. He wasn’t muscular, but I loved that.

Everyone in school knew he was gay. That’s why I was so smitten with him.

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

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

Her nudge did two things: snapped me out of my 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, sitting in embarrassed silence.

“You really should eat,” my sister suggested softly. “Gym is next and you know how tough your coach is.”

I grimaced at the meatloaf, my stomach turning at the thought of eating it. “If I eat it, I’ll definitely throw up next period.”

“And if you don’t, you might faint.”

“I’d rather faint than throw 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 fool,” 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, jerk.”

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 any sense, but I think she understood. I have a habit of over-explaining things, and I’m not sure why.

“So, you’re not mad?”

I kissed her fiery red hair.

“Not at all, sis. Are you riding home with me?”

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

I gave her a grin.

“No problem. Show ’em who’s boss.”

She smiled and headed off towards the band room, and I finally got my escape from school for the day.

That night, as I was getting ready for bed, Dave walked into my room. Well, our room; we shared it and a bunk bed.

He climbed up to the top bunk where I was sitting, sat beside me, and asked the question I’d been dreading.

“Who are you taking to the homecoming dance on Friday?”

My mind instantly went into panic mode. If I said no one, he’d ask why, and I’d have to lie more.

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

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

There was no real reason for my mind to jump to that conclusion 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--especially not 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 think I was superficial.

I stressed over this for a while before realizing how ridiculous I was being, letting my anxiety get the best of 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 tripled.

I thought that somehow he’d made the impossible connection. In reality, I was just overreacting…like I usually do.

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

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

He just had no interest in it. Science, on the other hand…

I’m getting off track.

“Dave, there’s a whole space behind the curtain at the back of the stage, 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, I couldn’t help it. The look on his face quickly stopped my laughter, though. I put an arm around him and gave him a squeeze.

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

He groaned, rolled his eyes, and playfully pushed me away.

“Oh, get off it.” He climbed down the ladder to the floor 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 get ready for bed. I let my mind wander about what tomorrow afternoon would bring.

I was always excited at the thought 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 couldn’t come soon enough.

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