Ally would later say that, technically, it was Trish’s fault anything happened in the first place.
Decked out in bunny pajamas, the two were binge-watching Netflix and anxiously munching popcorn. “Let’s order a pizza,” Trish whispered just as the haunting background music reached a crescendo, and Ally shot her an incredulous look after the hairs on the back of her neck settled.
“Right now? In the middle of the scene?”
Trish nodded, dark curls bouncing. “Thanks for volunteering.” Her eyes were glued to the screen, and therefore didn’t catch the dirty look her best friend shot her. If looks could kill . . .
Tiptoeing out of the room to grab the phone, Ally impatiently pressed the button for the speed dial. She shivered, craning her neck to see the TV. “Hello?”
“Moon’s Pizza Palace, how may I help you?” Instead of the upbeat tone that the regular guy, Dez, always spoke with, the voice that greeted her was a generic, boring male voice that hinted at a layer of sarcasm underneath.
Ally just barely refrained from rolling her eyes. Newbie. “I’d like a medium sized pizza, half pepperoni and half mushrooms and red peppers.”
“Okay,” he said, and then added, voice slightly distant, “Who orders mushrooms and peppers on a pizza?”
Eyes narrowing, Ally straightened her back. “I do, for your information. It’s perfectly normal.”
“Gee, no need to get defensive. I get it. You like vegetables. You’re not normal. Wouldn’t be surprised if you hated pancakes.”
Her head reeled from the sudden change in topic, but she was able to get a denial in. “I don’t!”
“Well. . ."
This time, Ally really did roll her eyes, not even bothering to contain the annoyance in her voice. “Anyway, can I hang up now?”
“No." He sighed loudly. "You ordered half pepperoni, half mushrooms, and half red peppers. I'm stupid, but I'm not that stupid. Half plus half plus half is not one."
A sudden giggle from Trish in the room next to the work room made Ally realize she was missing the movie, and she gave a little anxious jump, toes cold on the tiled kitchen. “No, I mean one half is pepperoni, one half is mushrooms and red peppers.”
“I’m guessing the boring side is yours?” She heard the distant scritch-scratch of a pencil on a notepad, and was relieved that at least he was trying to cooperate.
Ally took a deep breath and counted to three. “Just ask for my address already. That's what the regular guy does.”
“Dez is out today, so I'm the one who has to get the phone and deal with people like you.”
She sputtered, looking desperately for a clever response that could still be rated PG. She came up empty handed. Her voice rose several octaves, almost a squeak. “Well, you’re just raining on people’s parades today, aren’t you, Mr. Positive?”
“What does that mean?”
“Never mind.” Then she gave Trish’s address, eyeing the door and wanting to get back to the movie as soon as possible. “Love you, bye.”
As she hung up, her last words suddenly rung in her head and a rush of blood flooded her cheeks. She rose a hand to her forehead as the temperature in the room jumped up, suddenly dizzy with humiliation. Had she really told that jerk she loved him? It was her mother’s fault, always drilling in the “leave on a positive note” rule. At least she didn’t have to face him. Next week, Dez would be back at the register, and Ally would never have to deal with him again. It was the only thing that kept her scream internal.
The doorbell rang ten minutes later. She hadn't been paying much attention to the movie in the first place, too busy dwelling on her embarrassment. She could just die in a hole from it; gah, she wanted to. Her eyes darted to Trish. “Can you get it?”
“Ally, what do you think I am? A servant?” Trish briefly looked away from the TV to glare at her friend.
A tinge of annoyance crept onto her back, coming out of her mouth as sarcasm. “Yeah, Trish, I’ll just leave here and go miss the best part of the movie just like I did when I ordered the pizza.”
“I don’t even know why I’m friends with you.” With a sigh, Ally pulled herself out from underneath the blanket and padded to the doorway to retrieve the pizza. When she opened the door, a blond boy stood there, looking awkward with the white trademarked “Moon’s Pizza Palace” tailored hat sitting askew on his head.
He looked at her, face unreadable. “Nice pajamas.”
“Uh.” Then she recognized his voice. It definitely didn’t sound so plain and generic in real life. “Great. Can I just have the pizza now?”
“Hey, you were the girl on the phone,” the boy said, a smirk beginning to travel over the bottom half of his face. “The one who doesn’t like pancakes.”
Ally’s mouth dropped open. “I never said that! I do like pancakes!” She thought for a second. "And besides, that doesn't matter. Just - just give me the pizza." She made a half grab at it, her toes poking the threshold, and her fingers just barely brushed at the box before the boy pulled it away.
“Mmm, I’m not surprised if you think waffles are better.” He made a face, as if just the mention of the food made his stomach curdle.
“Is there anything wrong with that?” The last two words were a squeak. It was cold outside.
“If a girl’s gonna love me, she’s gotta love pancakes more than waffles.” His eyes danced with satisfaction, grinning as she turned red.
Her face burned. “Just give me the pizza. It was a mistake anyway.” The only thing she took comfort from was that it was Trish’s house and he didn’t actually know where she lived.
“Love you, bye,” the boy called, mocking, and she slammed the door in his face, relishing the loud noise it made. Trish did not.
“Wow, what’s got you so mad?”
“Just the delivery guy,” Ally muttered, and Trish paused the movie, looking interested that her friend had finally poked her head out from under her anti-guy rock. At her best friend’s prompting, Ally then proceeded to describe all the words of their conversation, down to every cringe-worthy detail that made her wince as she retold them. “He was so annoying,” she finally said as she opened the pizza box. She almost dropped it.
A paragraph was scrawled onto the top half in black marker, so messy that she had to squint to distinguish the letters.
To the weird girl who ordered mushrooms and red peppers-
Love you too, bye.
And then, below that note, were a line of numbers. Ten of them.
Trish's shout in her right ear made Ally jump. “Oh my gosh! He said the-”
“Trish, shut up,” she snapped, cheeks ablaze, but her best friend just leaned back and laughed, handing her the phone all the while. “Go on and call. You know you want to.”
"I don't," Ally whined, but took the phone anyway.
“Hey, it’s Ally.” At the non-answer she got, Ally suddenly realized that she’d never told him her name. “I mean, the pizza girl. I mean, the healthy girl." She paused to turn away from Trish's smug smile and to collect her thoughts. "Wait, I’m the mushroom and red peppers girl with the bunny pajamas." Could this get any worse? “So, yeah," she finished lamely.
The boy laughed. the sound sending a shiver down her spine. “I’m Austin Moon. My parents own the pizza place you were calling.”
“Oh,” was her lame answer. Not a newbie after all, then.
“Yeah. Anyway, I’m still driving back to the pizza place, but I was wondering, um,” he paused and cleared his throat. It thrilled some part of her that he sounded just as nervous as she was. “What’s your last name?”
Ally had a good idea on what he really wanted to say, and settled on smiling crazily instead of remarking on it. “Dawson.”
“Ally Dawson,” Austin Moon repeated. “That’s a cool name. I, er, I have one question. Wait, I mean two.”
Leaning back onto the counter, she repressed a scream. His voice was so perfect, not annoying at all. “Mmm.”
“Do you like pancakes more than waffles?”
“Yes,” Ally said, eagerly awaiting for the next question, and Austin didn’t fail her.
He cleared his throat. “Ally Dawson, will you go out with me?”
“I don’t know,” she said, a false air of calm surrounding her body, and she swore she heard him swallow loudly. “Well, okay, yeah.”
"So I've got my own waffle girl?" Austin asked, and she positively jumped when she heard the smile in his voice.
"I guess you do."
Ally hung up and finally squealed as loud as she could, hopping up and down like the floor was on fire. "He asked me out and called me his waffle girl," she screamed.
Trish clapped her hands, hooting. "Waffle girl?"
"It's an inside thing," she responded, feeling warm all over. Her cheeks hurt from smiling.
They never did finish the movie.
"You're still my waffle girl, right?" Austin asked, and she pushed his hair out of his eyes.
"Yeah, definitely," she said, smiling, and kissed him. His fingers traced over the silver band on her fourth finger and she felt his lips curve against hers.