Early Access: The Taste Of A Smile Part 36 ‘Free’ Excerpt


How are you doing today?

It’s been wonderful to chat with you in the comments about this scene with Lex, Mary and Elza. I’m very excited to share more of it with you today. Can’t wait to hear what y’all think!

Before we get to the excerpt, though, I’d like to point you to a conversation on our community. We’re talking about how the whirlwind of news and developments is making us feel. Please don’t hesitate to join the conversation. ‘Lurking’ is fine too. 😉

Much love,



Lex didn’t know if she should get up or stay on the couch. She could hear Mary talk in the hallway, but couldn’t make out what she was saying. She assumed that was the point.

“Fuck,” she thought, “What am I going to do if that’s her grandmother and she steps inside?!”

Lex wasn’t sure how much more she could handle. She had been super nervous all day after Mary’s invitation. She’d been convinced Mary would cancel. On her way over, she had kept checking her phone for a last-minute message.

But Mary hadn’t canceled. She had invited Lex into her apartment. They were talking and it was going well. Mary had even touched Lex’s hand. Lex’s spirits had been soaring until that damned knock on the door had startled them both.

Lex was terrified of meeting Mary’s grandmother. She sounded like a lady who could smell bullshit from a mile away. What if Mary’s grandma hated her and told Mary as much?

“Hey, Lex,” Mary squeaked as she stuck her head back in the room. “I’d like you to meet my grandma, Elza.”

She flashed Lex a quick, apologetic smile before stepping inside and holding open the door. Lex’s ears starting ringing. She jumped up and nearly stumbled over her own feet.

A surprisingly energetic woman stepped into the room. She was wearing sweatpants and a fleece sweater. Her grey hair was long and she had tucked it behind her ears.

“Hello there,” Elza said, adjusting a pair of red reading glasses on the tip of her nose.

Lex stepped forward, stretching out her hand. “I’m Lex. I’m very pleased to meet you, ma’am.”

Elza’s eyebrows shot up. Her green eyes sparkled with amusement. She waved dismissively and said, “Elza, please.” She shook Lex’s hand surprisingly hard.

“Grandma’s out of milk,” Mary said, pointing at a door at the other end of the living room. “I have some in the kitchen.”

Lex’s eyes flicked to the kitchen door. She fidgeted nervously with the seam of her sweater. How long would it take Mary to get the milk? And was she leaving her alone with Elza in the meantime?

“Grandma, come and have a look? I have several flavors,” Mary asked.

Lex threw her a grateful glance.

But Elza shook her head. “No, honey, anything you have will do.”

“Okay, I’ll be right back then,” Mary said, her eyes drifting from Elza to Lex.

Lex’s cheeks were hot. She tucked her hands in her back pockets and smiled uncomfortably. Elza returned the smile and tilted her head a little. She didn’t say anything, though.

“What should I say?” Lex thought, panicking. She heard a cabinet door open and close in the kitchen. In the meantime, Elza kept staring at her, still smiling. Her glasses looked a bit crooked, Lex saw.

“Soy okay?” Mary yelled from the kitchen.

Elza turned around and replied, “Perfect.”

Mary came rushing back into the living room, holding two cartons of milk.

“Thank you,” Elza beamed. “I haven’t had enough soy lately.”

Mary handed her grandmother the cartons. “I have more if you need it.”

“No, no,” Elza said, “I’ll make sure to do some grocery shopping after my gym class tomorrow morning.”

“Your what?” Mary blurted.

“Oh, I haven’t told you?” Elza responded, spinning around to face Lex again. She smiled and said, “I signed up at the local gym to protect my bone density.”

Lex didn’t have time to think before she said, “Very wise! After menopause, your bones….” She abruptly shut her mouth. Okay, maybe talking about menopause wasn’t the way to go with an elderly lady you just met.

Elza gasped, “Exactly!” She wagged her finger. “I’ve been telling Mary to keep an eye on her hormones but she won’t listen.”

Lex burst out in a laugh and quickly covered her mouth.

“Grandma,” Mary said, between gritted teeth.

“What?” Elza asked, addressing her granddaughter. “All sorts of things get thrown out of whack if you don’t pay attention to your hormones.”

Mary looked as if she wanted the ground to swallow her whole.

“Anyway, thank you, honey,” Elza chirped. “I’ll leave you two to whatever you were doing!”

Mary’s face turned an even deeper shade of red. Lex too could feel her cheeks burn again.

“It was nice to meet you,” Elza said to Lex and headed for the door.

“Very nice to meet you too,” Lex croaked and waved shyly.

She stood frozen in her spot until the front door fell shut. It took Mary a few seconds to reemerge from the hallway. Her hair was tousled and her face was still flushed.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

“I – I probably shouldn’t have mentioned menopause,” Lex stammered.

Mary ran a hand through her hair and laughed. “Actually, I think my grandma liked that.”

Lex shook her head in confusion. “Really? That’s…”

“Weird, I know!” Mary chuckled. “My grandma just likes honest people.”

“Right,” Lex grimaced uncomfortably. “I might still get into trouble with her then?”

Mary’s smile faded in an instant. Lex didn’t panic, though. This was why she had come here: to have the conversation they needed to have. She sat down on the couch.

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