Swallowing hard, I glanced at Noah. The look on his face was a mixture of amazement and gut-wrenching pain. He knew as well as I did—as well as everyone in the room—that not only was Axton going to fit with the band, but that this guy was better than even he had ever hoped to be. The pain in my heart at the knowledge that I was even closer to losing Zander than I had been just thirty minutes ago, doubled at the pain my beloved brother was going through right then.
The Aerosmith song faded easily into the Skynyrd song, “Free Bird,” and even though Axton’s vocal range changed, it only showed just how talented he really was. I lowered my gaze to the floor, hiding the tears that were so close to spilling over. I wanted so hard to hate Axton, wanted it with every fiber of my being, but I couldn’t. None of the pain I was feeling was his fault. He’d just shown up to a freaking audition, unknowingly ripping my heart from my chest with that amazing voice of his, and shattered it into a million little pieces.
I couldn’t hate him. Not when he was going to help the man I loved succeed in his goals.
Skynyrd drifted seamlessly into Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” with Wroth’s talented fingers. Glancing at Zander, watching him keep beat with the bass, seeing how much he loved being a part of this music world, I lost the battle. One tear escaped from my eyes and was quickly followed by a hundred more. I stood, keeping my face averted from everyone as I went into the bedroom and shut the door quietly behind me.