Early Access: The Taste Of A Smile Part 24 ‘Miss North’ Excerpt


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“Can Milly see us?” Lex wondered.

She and Mary had taken their seats for the last act just a few minutes ago. They were in the 10th row of a mostly empty theater. There was no crowd to disappear in.

She knew it was ridiculous to think anyone was paying attention to them. The eyes of the staff and other attendants were all focused on the stage.

Mary too seemed consumed by the high-pitched singing of a handsome countertenor paying tribute to the beauty of a blonde soprano.

This opera was quite the spectacle. Lex had never heard a countertenor sing live before and it had messed with her head for the first 30 minutes of the show.

Then there was the impressive transformation of Milly. Lex had seen her perform in recitals and other operas. But Milly’s role in this opera was the most interesting one yet.

First, there was Milly’s outfit. She was in a glossy three piece suit with her hair smoothed back under a thick layer of wax. Her attitude was as slick as her hairdo.

Milly played the insecure, sadistic Nerone in this opera. The character was highly unlikeable and Milly was doing a fantastic job at impersonating it.

“What an asshole,” Lex kept thinking, then reminded herself she was talking about Milly, who was practically family.

Mary was in absolute awe of Milly’s performance. Or maybe just Milly in general. During the break, Mary had talked about her so much, Lex hadn’t gotten a word in edgeways.

That was okay, though. Lex was thrilled that Mary was enjoying the experience so much. She was proud of herself for making it all happen.

Apart from the fact that she hadn’t exactly thought everything through. She should have known that Milly would want to meet with her.

Lex had been so blinded by her wish to see Mary again during the weekend, she hadn’t taken into consideration what the consequences of this date were going to be.

Surely, Milly knew who Mary was. She must have heard about her from Hannah. Mary was Hannah’s favorite employee after all.

Milly would connect the dots immediately. Then she’d race home and tell Hannah about Lex’s date. Or at least about who Lex had been hanging out with during the weekend.

And then the questions would start. Even though Hannah had no reasons to suspect any romantic involvement, she wasn’t stupid.

At best, she would be amused about Lex’s 180 degrees turn when it came to Mary. At worst, she would grill Lex about it until Lex had no other choice than to tell her the truth.

Why hadn’t she asked Mary to go see a movie or something? That would have been safe! They could have held each other’s hands. Grab some dinner afterward.

Lex glanced to her side and saw that Mary was smiling from ear to ear. She doubted any movie could do that. Maybe this was worth all the hassle.

Mary was so incredibly beautiful, Lex thought. Making her smile was quickly becoming her favorite hobby. It made Lex feel so warm and fuzzy.

She reached for Mary’s hand, fed up with holding back. Mary’s fingers immediately entwined with hers. Their hands rested in Mary’s lap, hidden by darkness.

Lex soon lost herself in the mesmerizing mix of Mary’s touch – Mary was running her thumb up and down Lex’s wrist – and the melancholic sound of the music.

She was no longer paying attention to what was happening on the stage and yet she could feel every tone that came out of the orchestra pit resonate deep inside.

That’s why she was surprised when everything and everyone was quiet all of a sudden.

Mary leaned over and whispered, “Do we applaud?”

Lex blinked, struggling to adjust to the changed atmosphere in the theater. The director was getting up, shouting things to other staffers.

The large curtains were still open, but the singers were gone. The conductor thanked the musicians and instruments were put back in their cases. The rehearsal was over.

“No, apparently not,” Lex said hesitantly.

“I wanted to clap. It was so beautiful!” Mary beamed. “I loved every minute of it.

Lex was struck again by Mary’s innocent, joyful face. She couldn’t get a single word out. All she wanted to do was kiss her.

“You didn’t like it?” Mary asked, arching her eyebrow.

“No, I had a wonderful time,” Lex said, squeezing the words out. “I just can’t believe we’re here. It’s amazing.”

She wasn’t talking about opera. But Mary didn’t know that.

“Right? I’m just completely overwhelmed,” Mary babbled, raising her hands. “To see this performance in an almost empty theater… It was magical.”

Lex saw the director, a tall guy with curls, talk to the conductor. His arms were swinging in all directions. The conductor’s forehead glistened in the light.

“It sure is a unique experience,” Lex admitted.

Mary pointed to the door discreetly. “There’s our tour guide,” she said.

Lex turned in her seat. The young man who had let them into the building was waving.

“Right, time for the backstage experience,” she said, wringing her hands.

“Oh my God,” Mary whispered, “I’m so nervous!”

“Sounds like your favorite part of this date is meeting Mildred North,” Lex teased, only half kidding.

Mary’s eyes narrowed, but Lex could see the light in them. “Jealous, are you?”

Lex promptly pushed herself up. “No, I know I don’t stand a chance next to a woman who can pull off a three piece suite like that.”

Mary squeezed Lex’s leg just above the back of her knee. “I think you don’t give yourself enough credit,” she said.


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