Early Access: The Taste Of A Smile Part 28 ‘Cold stuff’ Excerpt


Hello, my friends,

I hope you are well! I am grateful I get to share this excerpt with you today.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments.



Lex’s knuckles were white from holding on to the chair. The doctor’s assistant had just popped outside for a minute to get some bagels. She had offered to bring Lex something, but Lex had declined with a tired groan.

Just the thought of food made her stomach turn. She hadn’t been able to eat anything since yesterday afternoon. That’s when whatever was happening to her had begun.

It had started with a queasy stomach. Lex had shrugged it off and skipped dinner. By sunset though, Lex couldn’t get up without losing her balance.

A night of sleep hadn’t helped. When Lex had tried to get out of bed early this morning, the floor had seemed to slide away from under her feet. After catching her breath for a few minutes, Lex had given it another try.

This time, she had managed to stumble into her living room. There, instead of switching on the coffee machine as planned, she had let herself fall onto the couch. The hair on her neck had been damp. This was when she had started to get worried.

Half an hour later, with no improvement, Lex had had to admit to herself that it was time to call doctor McMillan. She had had the same family doctor her whole life and she didn’t know who else to call.

Now, sitting in his waiting room, Lex was surprised she had managed to make it here. She guessed she could have made things a bit easier on herself by asking someone to accompany her. Someone to lean on. Literally.

There were only two people she could think of: Hannah and Mary. Calling Hannah had been out of the question. Her cousin already had enough on her plate with Lucile. It had taken Lex a bit longer to decide against calling Mary, though.

Lex had been looking forward to seeing Mary all day on Sunday. She ached to hear Mary’s voice, to feel her comforting touch. But she could hardly ask Mary to drop everything and come hold her hand. They didn’t know each other that well.

So Lex had sent Mary a quick message instead to tell her she couldn’t make it into work this morning. She would send another message with more information as soon as the doctor had told her what was wrong with her.

Lex slowly straightened her back, wincing. She had no idea how long she had been sitting here. She was too tired to grab her phone from her pocket to check the time.

“Electra,” a loud voice boomed. “Please do come in.”

Lex’s head snapped to the side, startled by the doctor’s sudden appearance. Everything around her instantly started moving.

“Fuck,” she muttered, placing her feet wide apart.

“Now, now,” doctor McMillan said, walking over. “I’m sure your mother wouldn’t approve of that language.”

Lex took in a shaky breath. “My mother isn’t here.”

He chuckled and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Let me help you up.”

With the doctor’s arm around her, Lex felt a bit less uncertain. She leaned into him and let him guide her into his office and onto the examination table. The room smelled of his aftershave and Lex found it oddly calming.

“There you go,” McMillan said, grabbing her shoulders as she settled onto the table.

Lex looked up at him with a grateful smile. The doctor’s hair had turned completely white since the last time she had seen him. It made him look less stern. His brown eyes were as sharp as ever, though.

“I feel off balance,” Lex blurted out, eager for him to fix this.

He smiled. “I can see that.”

He held his finger in front of her eyes. “Follow my finger.” He moved it to the left and right. “Does the room start moving again?”

“No,” Lex said, shaking her head. Another mistake. The examination table soon felt like the deck of a ship on rocky sea.

“Okay, it does now,” Lex groaned, tightening her grip on the table until things calmed down.

“Right,” the doctor. “I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on but let me check your vitals first.”

He picked up his stethoscope from a nearby table. “Are you still a workaholic?” he quipped.

Lex looked away. McMillan frequented the same golf club as her parents. Had he not heard about her fall from grace? She found that hard to believe.

“No,” she croaked. “I have a new job and cut back on my hours.”

He pointed at her shirt. Lex pulled it up.

“Careful, cold stuff coming up,” he said and winked.

Lex couldn’t help but smile a little. McMillan had said that exact same thing to her since she was a toddler. She didn’t giggle like she used to when he placed his stethoscope on her chest, though.

“Alright,” he mumbled and straightened. “Can you take your shirt off for a moment? I need to take your blood pressure.”

Lex did as told, making sure she didn’t make any sudden moves this time. McMillan attached the cuff to her arm and started pressing the bulb. Lex focused on her breathing while she waited for the cuff to inflate and deflate.

“Your blood pressure is a bit high,” the doctor commented, pulling at the velcro.

Lex frowned. “I guess I’ve not been eating as healthy as I should have lately.”

He nodded, putting the device back in its place. “What about stress?”

“Stress?” Lex asked and rubbed her upper arms.

He nodded at her T-shirt. “You can put that back on.”

Lex grabbed her shirt and slowly pulled it back over her head.

“So,” McMillan continued, “Have you been stressed lately?”

Lex pursed her lips. It was a bit of a silly question, wasn’t it? She had been stressed her whole adult life. It was part of what she did. Or used to do.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” McMillan said.

Lex protested, “No, I’m fine. I hit a bump in the road a while back, but that’s all behind me now.”

The doctor lifted his chin. “Your body says otherwise.”

“What?” Lex muttered again. “No, it must be the burgers and fries.”

He chuckled. “Those don’t help, but I doubt they’re causing your vertigo.”

“V-vertigo?” Lex asked, scratching her lower arm.

McMillan nodded. “Yeah. The tiny particles in your inner ear are no longer properly aligned. That’s why you feel like everything is spinning. I might be able to make you feel better but we won’t know for sure until I try.”

“What will you do?” Lex asked, already dreading the answer.

“I’m going to throw you around a bit,” he said with sparkling eyes. “Even if it does help, you’re going to have to take it easy for a while. lf you don’t, it’ll come back fast.“

Lex sniffed. “How fast?”

He shook his head in disbelief. “Very fast. Lie down, please.”


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