The  coins are for her, but he decides their purchasing power. He pushes them round on the table as he does, sorting them by size.

‘2p for vanilla, 5p for a hand job, 10p for anal, and £1 for a blow job.’

‘What?! How is fucking my arse worth a tenth of fucking my mouth?’

He smiles, and tosses a pound coin in the air, snapping his fist closed around it as it falls.

‘Twenty-four days. Ten pound coins. You sure about that?’

She hates it when he outwits her.

‘Let’s stick with the original plan.’

She thinks it’ll be easy. There are twenty coins and although they usually fuck at least once a day, with Christmas parties, family visiting and work deadlines, she’s sure the coins will last the length of advent.

But he’s strict.

When they fuck that night, she drops to her knees from sheer habit, wrapping her lips around the thick length of his cock.

‘A pound down already,’ he says, as his cock pulses in her mouth. ‘Quite the little spender, aren’t we?’

She yanks her mouth free. ‘This is foreplay!’

‘Nuh-uh. My rules.’

December is still in its infancy and she’s £5.19 down. She hadn’t bargained on the way he’d play the game – rubbing his cock against her arse as she searches for something in the pantry, his parents just metres away, as if they were teenagers again. Nor, it seems, was she paying enough attention when he assigned the values, since there are only four 2p coins. Three and a half weeks, weeks in which she has to find a gift for her crotchety grandfather, along with at least twenty others, sew an angel costume for her youngest, and find time to attend rehearsals for her choir concert and she’s only allowed to actually fuck him four times? It’s the worst advent calendar ever.

Her cunt aches for him. She jerks him off one morning before work and her underwear is so soaked she has to change it.

‘Tonight?’ she suggests, as he tucks himself back inside his suit trousers, and straightens his tie. ‘Please can we fuck tonight?’

There’s only one 2p left.

He sips his coffee, and she waits, patiently. It still astounds her that he has this power over her – she has no patience for anything else: not for traffic jams, late people, cancellations or delays – but with him she’d wait forever.

‘Tell me how you want it.’

It rushes out of her. She’s been thinking about it for days. ‘I want you to hold me down, make me beg, my mouth filled with fingers and my cunt filled with cock. I need you to pull my hair, to bruise me, bite me. I want to do stuff I’ve never dreamed of.’

He leans in and nips at her neck with his sharp, white teeth. ‘My brother’s coming for dinner, remember?’

‘Not till 8. Leave work early.’

But he’s late; so late in fact that her frustration turns to anger, and her anger turns to worry. What if he’s been in an accident? She texts him, but there’s no response. Her calls go to voicemail. She burns herself on the roast chicken dish. What will she tell his brother?

There’s a knock at the door. She guesses she’ll tell him the truth; that she has no idea. She likes his brother, trusts him. It’ll be ok.

He’s brought flowers, and wine, and she hugs him, tighter than she might normally. ‘I’m sorry,’ she says, as he lets go of her, ‘It’s just I can’t get hold of Mike. I’ve tried calling but his phone – ‘

‘Shh, shh,’ he comforts, ‘He just called me. He’s on his way. But first he wanted me to give you this.’

And he drops two pence’ worth of chocolate into her hand.