Author's Note: Just a little fluff for Valentine's Day. I hope to have 3 chapters for this - 3 different Valentine's Days over the course of Clay & Emma's relationship. I'm going to try my best to have all 3 posted before the 14th, but I may get held up as I actually have real work this week. Enjoy!

In the winter twilight, Emma trudged back to her dorm from her individual performance critique. A sharp wind whistled between the buildings and cut through her heavy coat, blowing needles of snow against the exposed skin of her face. Winter still held a tight grip on New York, which added to her dejection.

Hit by a blast of warmth as she entered the lobby of her dorm, she dragged off her beanie by its pom pom. Immediately her staticky hair floated up in the dry, overheated air. She ran her hand over the clingy pieces in an effort to smooth them down. She hated wearing winter hats, but the weather in New York made them a requirement sometimes.

Her assessment had been an hour of torture. Bad enough the only possible time her TA could schedule with her was late on a Sunday afternoon, but then he nitpicked every aspect of her piece, from her song choice, to her breathing, to her tone. Seeing Emma's gloom at the end of the session, he made an effort to assure her he criticized her because of her talent. While she appreciated his encouragement, his words did nothing to improve her mood.

"Emma!" When Emma thought her day couldn't become any worse, Tiffany, from one of the suites down the hall from hers, called out.

With an internal sigh, Emma turned to respond. "Hey, Tiffany. What's up?"

"Oh, you know, not much. It was a good day to stay in and catch up on my class work. Even if it is Valentine's Day." Tiffany shot Emma a smirk. "But you know how it is. I know you have a boyfriend, but it's like you don't since he 'travels' so much."

Emma's hand twitched at her side with the urge to slap the expression off the other girl's face. "That's good you got work done."

"Yeah, but now a group of us are getting together in my suite to watch some movies and eat chocolate. Kind of an anti-Valentine's Day party for those of us without boyfriends." Tiffany pursed her lips for a moment. "You're welcome to join us, if you want. You could be an honorary single person since your guy is never around."

Lifting her chin, Emma plastered a fake smile to her face. "That's so nice of you, maybe I'll stop by. I'd love to chat more, but I need to get to the office. I got a notification a delivery arrived for me, and they're about to close. See you later."

With a wave, she started down the hall before Tiffany could say anything else. According to Anna, Tiffany's obnoxious comments stemmed from a deep jealousy of Emma. Tiffany wanted to be in the music program at Tisch but couldn't get in or wasn't allowed to apply by her father, depending on who you listened to. Anna also believed, from some comments she overheard when Clay helped Emma move into the dorm in September, Tiffany found him attractive and resented Emma because of it.

Approaching the counter where students picked up packages and deliveries, Emma pulled out her school ID. The work study assistant behind the desk looked up from her laptop.

"Hi, I was told something was delivered for me."

The clerk took Emma's identification and glanced at it. "Emma Hayes, right, yeah. Someone loves you."

Emma's eyebrows rose. "What do you mean?"

"Valentine's Day, you know? So tons of deliveries, but your box is definitely the biggest one I've seen today." The young woman disappeared into the storage area.

Shaking her head, Emma pushed her ID card back into the side pocket of her bag. She assumed Clay sent her this impressive-sized box, even though they had agreed not to do anything special for Valentine's Day. She sent him cookies she baked in the kitchen of Anna's home on the Upper East Side, along with a framed photo of them taken during her winter break.

The girl returned carrying a long, white, rectangular box tied with a red bow. A label from a local florist with Emma's name was stuck to the top. Placing the box on the counter, the girl grinned. "There are some serious flowers in this box."

Eyes widening, Emma took the box in her arms. It was heavier than she expected. She smiled at the young woman. "Thanks. Happy Valentine's Day."

The clerk's face fell as she realized Emma wouldn't be opening the box there. "Yeah, Happy Valentine's Day."

Heading down the hall to the elevators, Emma cradled the box in her arms. As far as she knew, Clay was still on a mission. He must have ordered the flowers before he left town. Entering one of the cars, she tapped her foot as she waited for it to arrive at her floor.

Finally, the doors opened at her destination. She hurried down the hall towards her suite. Entering the common room, she found Anna and two of her suite mates, Abbie and Chloe, perched on the furniture. Emma could have sworn they were waiting for her.

Chloe sprang up from her chair. "Hey, is that a box from a florist? What'd you get?"

"Flowers, I guess, but I haven't opened it yet, so I don't know what kind."

"Here, sit on the couch and pull that cover off." Abbie swept up the books and papers in the way.

Emma settled at one end with the box on her lap. Her bag landed by her feet. She worked the ribbon up to the top of the box, avoiding untying the bow. Pulling off the cover, she revealed two dozen long-stemmed, red roses. Stunned, she at first didn't notice the card tucked inside.

The perfume of the flowers' scent wafted up to Emma's nose. She traced a finger along one of the delicate buds. "They're beautiful."

Leaning forward, Chloe peeked into the box. "Wow, those are gorgeous."

"I don't have anything to put them in." Emma plucked the card out from among the baby's breath tucked in with the roses.

"I have something you can use," Anna said.

"You do?" Opening the envelope, Emma raised an eyebrow at her roommate.

"Yeah, don't worry about it. Read the card. I'm sure there's a lovey-dovey message from Clay."

"Oooh…" Chloe and Abbie teased in the background.

Emma blushed at their ribbing as she scanned the card. The handwriting did not belong to Clay. Someone at the florist shop probably wrote it for him. While sweet, the message wasn't as romantic as Anna predicted, most likely because he dictated it to a stranger.


Sorry we can't be together for Valentine's Day.

I love you,


"I should put these in water. Where is the vase?" Standing, Emma turned to Anna.

"Oh yeah, it's in our room."

From the corner of her eye, Emma caught a glimpse of Abbie and Chloe exchanging secretive grins. She opened her mouth to ask what was going on with them, but before she could speak, Anna started tugging at her coat sleeve.

"Let me take your coat." Anna kept pulling until Emma slid her arm out. "Now the other one."

"What are you doing? I can take my own coat off." Swapping the florist's box to her sleeve-free arm, Emma turned to her roommate.

"Helping you out, that's all."

Emma's brow furrowed. Something was going on here, and she wanted to know what it was.

Finally dragging the coat off Emma's other arm, Anna pushed the garment into Chloe's hands. "Wait, Emma." Anna stepped forward and began smoothing Emma's hair. "Let me just fix this. Your hair is messy from wearing a hat outside."

"Anna! What is going on? Do you want to lick your thumb and clean my face too?" Ducking away, Emma backed up to the door to their room.

"Just trying to neaten you up a little."

"Why? Something's up. What is it?" A feeling of hope bubbled up in Emma. There was something, or someone, waiting for her in the other room.

"Nothing. Nothing's going on." Anna's words tumbled out too fast to be believable, and Chloe and Abbie's identically nodding heads did nothing to help convince Emma. "Why don't you get the vase?"

Shaking her head, Emma turned away from her friends and headed for their room. She grasped the doorknob and pushed open the door. Only their desk lamps cast any light, and Emma froze for a moment upon entering the dim glow. Her eyes scanned the room, but no one was present. Her heart sank.

A hand at the small of her back pushed her the rest of the way in and closed the door behind her. She studied the room again and noticed Anna's laptop sitting open on her desk. Quiet music played from the computer, and a plate with food sat in front of it. The computer screen showed a connection to Skype.

Emma approached the setup. The smell of steak tips drifted in the air, and there on the screen was Clay.

He smiled as she came into view. "Hey, there. I wondered how long they would take to get you in here."

"Clay? What is this? I thought you were spun up." Emma went to pull out her desk chair and realized she still held the box of roses in her arms.

"I got home this morning, so I figured we should enjoy dinner together since it's Valentine's Day."

"You organized all this today?" Emma set the roses down on her bed before settling in front of the laptop. "And thank you for the roses. They're beautiful, but you shouldn't have. I'm sure they cost way too much."

"I had to give my girl roses on our first Valentine's Day, especially because we couldn't be together." He shrugged and smiled. "Anna helped me put the dinner part on your end together though."

"Anna knew all day? She hid it well, until now. It was obvious something was going on when I got back here from my critique."

Clay laughed. "I called her around lunchtime with my idea and some suggestions of places to buy from, and she ran with it."

"She did. There's everything you'd want for a fancy dinner." Emma took a moment to examine it all. There was the plate of steak tips, mashed potatoes, and asparagus, along with a buttered roll. To the side of the computer sat a plastic champagne glass with a mini bottle of Prosecco next to it. On the other side, she found a piece of chocolate cake with raspberries. "Is your dinner ready too?"

"It is." He tilted down his laptop camera to give her a view of his plate. His meal was almost identical to hers. Instead of asparagus, his vegetable was broccoli. "We should eat before the food gets cold, but let's make a toast first."

"Okay." Emma began opening her Prosecco.

Once they each had their drinks poured, Clay held up his glass. "Happy Valentine's Day. I hope the first of many."

"Me too. Happy Valentine's Day." Emma tapped her glass to the screen near the camera, and Clay did the same.

Then they each started enjoying their meals while chatting and catching the other up on their lives.

Out in the common room, Anna, Chloe, and Abbie, lounged on the couch and chairs.

"I think Emma will be occupied for a while. What should we do?" Anna stood and placed Emma's bag and coat by the door to their room.

"Tiffany is having people in her suite for an Anti-Valentine's Day movie night. We could join them?" Abbie offered the idea with an uncertain shrug.

Anna rolled her eyes. "No, thank you."

"Snack bar will be open in the cafeteria soon. I think we should go buy a bunch of junk food, onion rings, fries, wings, whatever, and come back here and watch Bridgerton again on Netflix." Chloe grabbed her own bag and started looking for her school ID. "If I can find my ID."

Abbie shook her head. "You lost it again?"

"Not lost exactly."

"Great idea. Let's do it." Anna watched Chloe search her wallet. "I have a ton of points on my meal plan. I can cover you if you can't find your ID."

Abbie gestured with her chin towards the door to Emma and Anna's room. "You think she'll be okay while we're gone?"

"I think so, but wait…" Anna put her finger to her lips and quietly opened the door to peek inside.

The sound of Emma's laughter drifted out to their ears. "He doesn't really think that. But you could come visit and I'll take you around to see everything here. Then you can tell him what it's like."

Gently, Anna shut the door again. "I think she'll be just fine."