Early Access: The Taste Of A Smile Part 8 ‘Burden’ Excerpt



It’s a holiday here. We’re leaving for a nice hike in a bit. Couldn’t enjoy the outdoors without sharing an excerpt first, though!

Hope you enjoy.



Lex didn’t notice the rain until a big drop splashed onto her nose.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” she cursed and wiped it off with her sleeve.

Lex adjusted the collar of her leather jacket. She really needed to start wearing a thicker coat in this cold weather. Menacing clouds filled the sky, blocking the sun and giving the city a gloomy atmosphere. On any other day, Lex would have halted a cab.

Tonight, she needed the ice-cold air to stop her from freaking out entirely. Because boy, had she fucked things up today. Mary Alexander was probably on the phone with Hannah right now, telling her everything. There would be no way back after that.

“Fuck,” Lex said again, louder this time.

She had lost her temper today. She didn’t understand why it had happened. She used to be as cool as a cucumber. No one got under her skin. No one. After losing her job, though, she got thrown off balance far too easily and far too frequently.

Lex turned onto 5th avenue, wiping her cheeks. The raindrops were falling hard and fast now. Her hands were shaking from the cold. She zipped up her jacket all the way up to her neck. With her luck, Lex would get pneumonia on top of everything else.

No use worrying about the weather, she thought. She had five more blocks to go and needed that time to come up with an explanation for Hannah. The truth was she had utterly failed her cousin. And at the worst possible moment.

Lucile, Hannah’s mother, was finally out of intensive care, but things were still scary. The doctors said she had been extremely lucky. It had been a pretty severe stroke.

This was the first evening Hannah would spend at home after days of camping out at the hospital. She had called Lex to tell her the good news this morning and to invite her over for a drink that night.

Lex had cried softly in the bathroom afterward. She was ashamed to admit she hadn’t really let it sink in before. She couldn’t even begin to imagine how Hannah was feeling.

This had been Lex’s chance to be there for her cousin, and she was only giving her a bigger headache. She assumed Hannah would be waiting for her, furious. Or worse: disappointed. There would be no toast to Lucile’s improving condition.

Lex kept replaying the disastrous scene in her head. It had happened in Mary’s small office a few hours ago. Lex had been pacing around the room, humiliated after the situation with the register.

“I was doing fine out there!” Lex had yelled.

“No, you weren’t,” Mary replied, shutting the door with her shoulder.

Lex walked up to her. “You’ve been trying to embarrass me from the moment I set foot in this store,” she hissed.

Mary held her ground, narrowing her eyes. “That’s a ridiculous thing to say, and it says more about you than it does about me.”

Lex scanned Mary’s face, momentarily perplexed by her reply. She took a step back, running her hands through her hair.

Part of her was considering a hasty retreat. “Just go outside for a walk and calm down,” the adult voice in her mind urged.

“I think your promotion has gotten to your head,” she said instead. She pointed at the picture of Hannah and Lucile. “You forget this is a family business.”

Mary’s chest went up and down a few times before she spoke softly. “What is that supposed to mean?” 

Lex locked eyes with her, doubling down against better judgment. “I’m part of the family. Hannah put me here for a reason. You don’t get to belittle me like you do other people.”

Mary’s eyebrows shot up. “What?!”

“Yeah,” Lex replied, tucking her hands in her pockets. “Your team is immature and that’s on you. You run this place like it’s a daycare center instead of a business.”

Mary flinched and averted her gaze. Her voice was shaky when she said, “You’re the only one acting immaturely here.”

She took in a deep breath and walked to the desk. “And if this is what Hannah has in mind for the. future of Leroy, giving jobs to incompetent family members …” She huffed. “Then I don’t want to work here anymore.”

This was the moment when Lex had realized she had seriously, immensely, fucked up. She had made her cousin’s favorite employee in the whole damn company want to quit. And she had done it in less than 48 hours.

Lex hadn’t said another word. She had shut her mouth and left the room. After hiding in the bathroom for over an hour, she had quickly left the store through the back door. No one would miss her, she knew.

Now, she was on her way to see Hannah. She expected Mary had given her a call by now. She might have already resigned. Lex didn’t see how Hannah would ever forgive her for this. Especially given the circumstances.

Maybe Hannah had been able to convince Mary to stay. Lex definitely hoped so. But she would be out of a job again by the end of the evening. This time, she truly deserved being kicked out, though.


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