Early Access: The Taste Of A Smile Part 27 ‘It’s complicated’ Excerpt


Hello, my friends

It’s great to see you again after two busy days. I’m going to grab some coffee so we can enjoy this Wednesday Excerpt Day together.

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Mary stared at the clock. Time was passing too slowly. It was only 6.30 AM. She had already read and replied to every single email in her inbox. Mary had hoped Lex would have been here by now.

Catching up on work had been an excellent excuse to come to the store early. What Mary had really wanted, though, was to see Lex as soon as possible. And Lex had told her she’d be in early too.

Mary sighed. It had only been 36 hours since she had left Lex’s apartment but it felt like a lot longer. If only Mary had stayed Saturday night. She had regretted leaving the moment she got home.

Looking back, Mary understood why she had run away. There had been so much more between them in that bed than just mind-blowing sex. She had opened up to Lex so much and so fast.

It had all felt right while they were making love. Soon after, though, things had started to get complicated again. Lex had suddenly seemed a bit distant and it had brought back the feeling of dread Mary had been trying to ignore all night.

And so she had told Lex she needed to go home. Much to her disappointment, Lex hadn’t tried to stop her. By the time Mary had gotten out of the bathroom, she had decided it really was best that she had some time alone.

She had needed to think about everything that had happened. She couldn’t do that as long as Lex was with her. That’s why she had told Lex they’d see each other on Monday.

Oh, how Mary regretted putting up her tough act. She had been too stubborn and too scared to tell Lex what she really wanted. To see more of her, not less. To be closer, not further apart.

The wait for Monday had been excruciatingly long and painful. Mary had spent most of her Sunday morning staring at her phone, wondering why Lex hadn’t texted her.

Then again, why hadn’t she texted Lex? She really wanted to hear from Lex. But she also wanted Lex to be the first to reach out. As the hours had passed, without anything from Lex, Mary had finally started to think about the past week.

On the one hand, she was over the moon. She couldn’t remember ever being so crazy about someone she had just met. There was no doubt: she had fallen head over heels in love with Lex.

Every time she closed her eyes, she saw Lex’s face. Every time she let her mind wander, she ended up replaying scenes of their lovemaking. Every time she heard a love song, her heart swelled and ached for Lex.

If she could, she would tell the whole world about Lex. But most of her friends worked at Leroy. She knew her grandmother would ask a lot of questions she wouldn’t be able to answer. And so she had to keep all of this to herself.

Worry and doubts were increasingly clouding her mind. She was annoyed that they hadn’t talked about what they would do today, for example. Mary assumed they were going to pretend nothing was going on between them while at work.

They had already agreed to that more or less, right? But how far exactly were they going to take this? Mary didn’t like having secrets and she definitely didn’t want to lie.

But she already had several times. She had lied to her grandma on Saturday morning. She had purposefully withheld her name from Mildred North on Saturday afternoon. She had lied to Lex on Saturday evening.

Why on earth had she done all that? It wasn’t like her at all. Was this how she was going to behave when she was with Lex? She didn’t want to be that person. What worried her even more, though, was that Lex might actually be that kind of person.

Lex hadn’t introduced Mary to Mildred North after all. And she had been visibly relieved that Mary hadn’t mentioned her name to Milly. To make matters worse, she hadn’t brought it up at all afterward. Neither had Mary.

None of this was sustainable. Mary knew she had to confront Lex about the unspoken rules that already seemed to direct their interactions. This wasn’t a healthy way to start a relationship.

If that is what they were doing, of course. Mary didn’t know what Lex’s intentions were. Hell, she wasn’t even sure if they had a shot at something that could resemble a normal relationship.

A few other things had become apparent to Mary. She didn’t know all that much about Lex. They clearly lived in different worlds. Lex’s couch alone probably cost more than three months’ worth of Mary’s rent.

Mary had been gobsmacked by the size and luxury of Lex’s apartment. It was as if she had temporarily forgotten who Lex was and what family she was part of. Mary couldn’t see herself fit into that kind of upper-class lifestyle.

She rubbed her chest and picked up her phone. Lex had texted her yesterday after all. The text was short but sweet. “Can’t stop thinking about you today.” Her reply had been sort of honest: “Same here.”

Mary let out a long, frustrated breath. She had always snorted whenever she saw someone changing their relationship status on Facebook to ‘It’s complicated.’ Yet here she was, desperately in love with someone she barely knew and things were indeed complicated.

Mary’s door swung open, making her jump. She nearly dropped her phone onto the floor.

“Oh!” Karen said in a high pitch, “You’re already in!”

Mary covered her heart. “Damn! You scared the shit out of me!”

“I’m sorry,” Karen laughed, “I guess I got used to this being my office real fast.”

Mary grinned up at her friend and co-worker. “Like my chair that much?”

Karen rolled her eyes. “You’re way too fond of that chair.” She rapped her knuckles on the desk. “We had a terrific week last week.”

Mary pointed at the laptop screen. “Yeah, I just took a look at the numbers. The spring gift boxes are a huge hit!”

“So were the specials at the café,” Karen commented, sounding less excited.

“Right, I saw those sold out?” Mary asked. She woke up her laptop and opened the sales analytics tool.

“I’m sure you can guess why,” Karen sighed, pulling back a chair.

Mary looked up. Karen sounded unusually annoyed.

“Oh, not again!” Mary said, her shoulders dropping. “Steven?”

Karen leaned back in the chair and folded her arms. “Yeah, didn’t order enough of the herbal mix.”

Mary moved her cursor on the screen and clicked. The last sale of the spring special hot chocolate had been on Tuesday afternoon.

“Come on,” she muttered angrily. “We talked about this.”

“Yeah, I had to have another chat with him,” Karen said, “Especially after he didn’t place an emergency order the moment the special sold out.”

Mary slowly turned in her seat. “He didn’t?!”

Karen shook her head. “Said he would do it later.”

“Damn it,” Mary cursed.

“You and Lex are going to have to deal with him soon,” Karen said.

“Lex?” Mary asked, straightening her shoulders.

Karen tilted her head. “Yes? She’s the one who’ll be working with him long-term.”

“Right!” Mary replied too loudly. “Of course.”

She glanced at the clock. “Lex should be here any moment.”

“Oh, an early meeting?” Karen asked, surprised.

Mary knew it was a perfectly reasonable question but she still felt her cheeks heating up. “Yes,” she said, “We wanted to go through some of the ideas we captured at the conference.”

Another lie. Mary’s chest quickly filled with guilt and dread. It was suffocating. She couldn’t do this anymore. She wasn’t good at it, nor did she want to be. She would tell Lex that as soon as she got here.

A notification from her phone rang through the small office.

“Maybe that’s her,” Mary mumbled, opening the message.

Karen got up with a groan. “Alright, I need some more coffee. You want anything?”

Mary didn’t respond. Her gaze was fixed on the screen of her phone instead. Alarm bells started to ring in her ears. She squeezed her eyes shut and slammed the phone onto the desk.


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