“We’ll have that out to you in about a half hour,” the man at the pizza place said.
Magnus balanced the phone against his shoulder while gesturing at Catarina to put down the orange silk before she wrinkled it. This project was supposed to be done tomorrow and they were nowhere near ready. If Tessa hadn’t insisted he order a pizza he would have just worked straight through—one does not become the top designer in Brooklyn by stopping for silly things like food and sleep. “Great, thanks, love you.”
“Love you too,” the guy said.
Magnus hung up and turned back to his work before the words caught up to him. He froze, ears going hot as the sound of his two friends laughing broke his concentration. “Did I just…?”
Tessa was wiping her eyes as she nodded. “I told you you needed a break!”
“He said it back!” Magnus said, throwing up his hands.
“Then you’re probably not the only one going crazy from overworking yourself,” Cat said, still grinning. “Did he at least have an attractive voice?”
“I wasn’t paying attention,” Magnus muttered, trying to focus on the fabric. He had had an attractive voice. A very attractive voice, really.
“That much was obvious,” Cat agreed. “Now explain to me why I’m not allowed to touch this?”
Alec wasn’t freaking out. He wasn’t . It was just—well, it was just that he hadn’t gotten a chance to apologize. It had just been an automatic response—and they guy on the phone had said it first!—but now he wasn’t sure if the guy thought he was some kind of creep, or something. The guy—two pepperoni and olive, at least once a week, never at the same time of day—was a regular, and the little pizza place Alec ran with his siblings wasn’t such a booming business that he wanted to alienate such a reliable customer. To make it worse, Jace had heard him, and he could practically feel his brother’s laughter as he carefully set down the phone and started on the order. Alec was not going to turn around and face that until he was sure he wasn’t blushing. Which would probably be tomorrow.
“Something you want to tell me, Alec?” Jace said, coming to stand right next to him.
Alec jumped at the proximity and then sighed. “No, definitely not. He was just—distracted and I—it was automatic!”
Jace chuckled, moving back to the counter and pounding out another crust. “So, not a secret paramor that Izzy will kill you for not telling her about?”
“What am I killing Alec for?” Isabelle asked, coming into the kitchen. “What’s he gotten up to now?” She noted his red face. “Ooh, big brother, did you finally get laid? Who is he? When do we get to meet him?”
Alec threw up his hands. “No, I am still hopelessly single, thank you very much for the reminder.”
“He had a customer end the call with ‘I love you’,” Jace explained. “And he said it back.”
“Oh my god.” Izzy laughed. “Did he at least sound hot?”
Alec covered his face with his hands and sat down on the stool they kept in the corner. “It was the two pep and olive guy.”
“Oh, he is hot.” Izzy, who was hopeless in the kitchen, did deliveries for them. “And almost certainly into guys.”
“Is that supposed to be helpful?” Alec asked, lifting his head to glare at her. “It was an honest mistake and now he’s never going to order from us again because I’m a hopeless idiot.”
Izzy and Jace rolled their eyes in sync. It was a little creepy. “Alec,” Jace said calmly, “if anyone was an idiot, it was him for telling the pizza man that he loves him, not you for saying it back. He might stop ordering from us out of embarrassment, though.”
“What’s this about losing customers out of embarrassment?” another voice asked. Alec couldn’t contain a groan. Their other driver, Simon, was back. The young man immediately noticed Alec’s discomfort. “Oh, did you have to turn down another adoring female? Must be rough, having so many chicks ask for your number.” He caught the expression on Izzy’s face and backtracked quickly. “Not that I want girls numbers either! Um.”
“It wasn’t a girl, idiot,” Jace told him. “Pep and olive guy told him he loved him.”
Simon’s eyes went round as saucers behind his glasses. “Oh, dude, you should go for it! He’s really hot.” Another look from Isabelle. “If, you know, you’re into that sort of thing. Which you are. I don’t notice anyone but Izzy.”
Izzy gave him a predatory grin. “Too right you don’t.”
“As much as I appreciate the encouragement,” Alec said as sarcastically as he could, “I cannot ‘go for it’, as you say, because he is not actually interested . He was distracted, he said ‘I love you’, and then I, like an idiot, said ‘I love you too’. He’s never going to order from us again. If anyone has a solution, I’d love to hear it.”
“Well,” Izzy said thoughtfully, “you could always deliver the pizza yourself. Clary should be here before you’d need to leave, and we hardly need all three of you until after five anyway. You could apologize in person, since it has you so worked up.”
“Or you could just ask him out in person,” Simon added.
Alec glared at him, but nodded. “Okay, that isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Maybe I can convince him to forget the whole thing.”
Magnus had been ordering from Lightwood Pies pretty much since they opened two years ago. Over the years he’d gotten pretty familiar with the boy and girl who did the deliveries—even had a couple conversations with the girl about fashion. She nearly always complimented him on something, and he was impressed at how far she managed to stretch the boundaries of what could still be considered her uniform (based on the boy, it was supposed to be a black tee with the company logo and black pants. Isabelle always has the logo and the black, but he was pretty sure he’d never seen her in anything most people would consider a t-shirt. He’d barely seen her in anything most people would consider pants). Her brothers, she’d told him, ran the kitchen along with a girl he was pretty sure one of them was dating. It was very much a family business, and he was happy to support them. Plus, they made the best pizza in Brooklyn and they were always pretty fast about it, though that could be because he lived only three blocks away.
He wondered whether whoever came with the pizza would mention anything about his confession—given how tight they all were, he was sure all of them knew by now. Hopefully he hadn’t made the man he’d talked to too uncomfortable. He liked their pizza too much to give up on it over a silly mistake, and he really didn’t want Isabelle to yell at him about sexually harassing her brother.
He was so concerned about this, in fact, that when someone pressed on the buzzer he made Cat go and answer the door. They couldn’t yell at him if they couldn’t get to him. She gave him a look that said she knew exactly what he was doing but didn’t say anything as she opened the door. There was a brief murmur of conversation and she took the pizzas before turning and yelling, “Magnus! This gorgeous boy wants to talk to you!”
Magnus had a moment to be grateful that it wasn’t Isabelle before he realized that the boy standing in the door was not, as he’d assumed, Simon, but instead a very tall and indisputably gorgeous young man who bore a strong family resemblance to his usual delivery girl.
“Hello,” Magnus said, startled.
The stunning man stared at him for a second before looking down and rubbing the back of his neck. “I, uh, I, look, I—I wanted to apologize. About earlier? On the phone?”
Magnus blinked at him in surprise. “What on earth do you have to apologize for? I was half expecting your sister to come yell at me about harassing you.”
His eyes widened as he looked back up at Magnus’s face. “Why would she yell at you? Has she yelled at you before? She’s not supposed to yell at customers.”
“Because I told you I loved you? She’s never yelled at me, no, although we have had a few nice chats. She strikes me as fairly protective—not,” he added, looking the man up and down and taking in his toned muscles, broad shoulders, and the tattoos winding up his arms and poking tantalizingly out of his collar, “that you look like you need protecting.”
The man’s face turned red as he noticed Magnus’s gaze, but he smiled. “Yeah, she can be. She can be a bit much for some people, so I worry. Usually we try to send Si out to new customers, he’s better with people than the rest of us, other than Jace maybe, but Jace is the one who knows how to make the heavenly pizza dough. Clary and I stick to sauce and toppings.”
“So that means you must be Alec.”
“Yeah. Sorry—I should have led with that. Uh.”
Magnus grinned, holding out a hand. “Magnus.”
Alec shook his hand, flushing even more. “It’s, uh, it’s good to meet you properly after all this time.”
“I certainly wish we could have met sooner.” Magnus let his hand linger in Alec’s, intentionally holding eye contact.
Alec seemed unsure what to do or say to that. “So, I, uh, I just wanted to come by and, uh, you know, make sure there were no hard feelings about the, uh, thing on the phone. You’re one of our best customers.”
Magnus watched as he shifted from foot to foot in the doorway and considered his response to that. Alec’s eyes kept flicking to his mouth and then away, and his blush was burning steadily in his cheeks. Well, it was worth a shot at the very least. “How about you make it up to me? Let me take you out this Friday.”
Alec’s eyebrows shot into his hair and his mouth fell open slightly. He’d been flushed before but now he was bright red, and it took him at least ten seconds to get his mouth to work. “Like—take me out? Like a—?” He broke off and gestured vaguely. “Like a date?”
Magnus couldn’t keep from smiling. “Exactly like a date, Alexander.”
A grin spread slowly across Alec’s face. “Well,” he said slowly, eyes twinkling, “if that’s what it takes.”