Zoe loves Christmas, and being a mum has only given her reason to love it even more. It’s difficult to say who is more excited, her or daughter, but Zoe would argue it has to be her, because while her daughter is mainly looking forward to what she’ll get from Santa, Zoe has the excitement of both getting stuff from Santa but also being Santa and knowing that she is actually the one responsible for her daughter’s delight.
That said, Christmas is not the only reason for her excitement, because Zoe also has a new(ish) boyfriend. If it feels like he’s newer than he is, it’s because she’s only just introduced him to her daughter and, as a result, he’s started staying over, which is life-changing – if you’d told Zoe when she was a teenager that sex at thirty-two could involve just as much sneaking around as sex at fifteen, she’d never have believed you.
The boyfriend, Nick, is also the reason why she’ll be getting stuff from Santa for the first time in years – it was Nick himself who suggested they do stockings for one another, and Zoe found herself falling for him even harder.
And so, at 3pm on Christmas eve, she sits in the kitchen wrapping presents for the two most important people in her life – her daughter, who’s at her dad’s, and her boyfriend, who’ll be over when he finishes work. Her wrapping is exquisite – there’s a whole colour scheme and she’s spent the best part of a week’s salary on ribbon.
When her daughter is dropped off later that evening, she and Zoe put out a Sherry for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer. ‘Where will Santa leave my presents, mummy?’
‘He puts them at the end of your bed, darling – that way when you wake up, you’ll know straight away that he’s been.’
Nick, meanwhile, gets two stockings (three if you want to be precise) – the one she’s stuffed for him, and the ones she’s wearing. It’s the early hours of Christmas day before they’re sated and she drifts off in his arms.
She wakes to the sound of her daughter’s tears. ‘Mummy, Santa hasn’t been!’
The temptation of cock has stolen Christmas.