Chapter 26

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That night became a historic night. Not because it was Kevin's debut concert, not even because of the record-high number of disapproving comments Dad uttered under his breath, but because I discovered an earth shattering fact: Alexander, the Golden Boy of the Chinese-American community, Mr. Can-Do-No-Wrong, had a weakness after all. Stage fright. And he had it bad. I mean real bad.

I knew I shouldn't be laughing so hard at a guy who was clearly scared out of his wits. Fundamentally, it was an asshole move. But the sight of Alexander clinging to the wall while wobbling toward the backstage area was too much for me to handle. Also, whoever said I was a good person?

"What exactly...happened?" I asked as Kevin came running after Alexander.

My brother scowled. His forehead was beaded with sweat. "Not sure. Kid was practicing just fine, until he took one look at the audience out there and-well, you can see for yourself. Just lost his mind entirely."

"No, I didn't. I'm fine," Alexander twisted around to protest. "Uh...leg cramp," he added feebly, convincing nobody.

"Just take a deep breath and shake it off, man," Kevin commanded, clapping Alexander on the shoulder. This action could only be interpreted as a poor oversight on his part, as Alexander collapsed onto the ground under the force of Kevin's friendly pat. "Oops."

"'M alrigh'," Alexander mumbled into the carpet.

"You and I must have different definitions of 'alright'." Kevin sighed. He ran a hand through his gelled black hair and took a deep breath. If nothing else, it seemed he had recovered from the shock of seeing Mom and Dad here, at least. Or if he hadn't, he was doing a good job of pretending the last encounter with his parents hadn't happened.

Alexander propped up his head to reveal a face drained of blood. "Let's rock and roll," he said weakly.

"Kevin, I don't know about you, but that does not look like the face of somebody I'd want playing the keyboard at my debut," I put in helpfully.

"I said, I'll be fine," Alexander insisted. He took one peek behind the curtains at the audience and promptly began wobbling again.

My brother took one look at the guy and sighed, throwing his hands up into the air. "Fantastic. I have to replace my replacement keyboardist now? Where am I even gonna find another pianist on such short notice?" He paced back and forth, nearly tripping over the many power cords assembled haphazardly across the floor backstage. Then Kevin's eyes fell upon me and widened. "Come to think of it, you're a pianis-"

"Oh, no. Don't even think about it," I cut him off.

"But you didn't even let me fin-"

"Exactly."

"At least pretend to consider-"

"No!"

"Nancy, you're really killing me here."

I sighed loudly. "Think about it. Do you really want to put the fate of your band into the hands of your conniving, evil little sister?" I hated to admit it, but I was nowhere near confident enough in my skills to learn a whole performance in thirty minutes.

Kevin blinked. He scratched his head and itched his nose. It concerned me that he was actually considering that as an option. Then he shook his head and resumed his pacing, his brows furrowed in frustration. "You're right. I must've had a moment of insanity," Kevin said, more to himself than to me. "Your piano skills are trashy, anyway."

"Exactly-hey!"

Vanessa came rushing over then, looking all out of sorts with her hair flying every which way. "Where's Alexander?" she demanded, panting and glaring like no tomorrow. Everyone standing nearby avoided eye contact with her. "God, I can't believe it. I didn't even finish teaching him the part, and the kid just took off!"

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