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think, but dare not speak

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The king has always stayed at the McKittrick.

By turn, his son has also always stayed at the McKittrick. You know Malcolm. You've known him since he was young, though you were not much older the first time you saw him. He was thin, dark haired and not quite grown into his arms and legs. Even then, he was striking.

Even then, his eyes could find yours in a crowd.

It was always impressed upon you, the importance of the king's stay being perfect. There were standards to be upheld.

To work in a hotel is to keep the secrets of its tenants. You collect their secrets like stamps in a book. You know who takes with prostitutes, who drinks too much, and who beats their wife. You know which wives hit their husbands back. You know the king's son prefers the company of men.

You never speak a word.

You never speak.

Your knees and your jaw ache. This is not a service strictly provided by the McKittrick.

In and out, again and again. It's a simple choreography. You try to change the steps, but Malcolm's hands are wrapped around the back of your head and you're at his mercy. He is the prince, you suppose, and if this is how he wants it done, then you shouldn't complain. On the other hand, contemplating social statuses at a time like this seems to be missing the point of the experience.

He finishes and releases you. You swallow and wipe the corners of your mouth with your thumb. You stare up at him until he finally realizes he has another move to make, and startled, he reaches his hand out to you.

You stand with his help and hold onto his hand a moment too long. Or not, as his eyes linger on the bulge in the front of your trousers.

You're not sure how long you're supposed to wait for him to make a move. You're about to step away when he finally reaches for your zipper. His hand disappears into your trousers and you tense when he touches you.

You lean into him, resting your hand on his side. He's trembling. You press your mouth to his ear and he makes a noise like a caged animal. He moves his hand on your cock the same way he had guided your mouth on his. Up and down, again and again. But he's handsome and he smells good, and he's the prince for the god's sake. It doesn't take you long to finish.

You move to kiss him and he turns his face away. Your lips brush against his cheek.

"No," he says. He removes his hand from your trousers and shoves it in his own pockets.

You take a step back and he looks at you.

"You can't tell anyone," he says. "No one can know. My father can never know."

You nod. What's one more secret for your collection?

Once, you asked Malcolm if he wanted to be king.

"For me to be king, my father would have to die." He looked up at you with his somber eyes. "I never want to be king."

It's been a year since the king's last stay at the McKittrick. You're there to receive his party and when you see Malcolm, he already has his eyes on you.

He seems to have grown into himself, finally. He's still thin, but his arms and legs don't seem too long for his body anymore. His hair is slicked back from his forehead and he wears a suit like his father's. He looks like a man now, and no longer like a boy just playacting as one.

You haven't longed for him, though you have thought about him. There's a stirring when he looks at you. It's nice to be remembered.

When he passes, he slips a note into your hand. You put it in your pocket. It's not until hours later that they're settled and you have a moment to yourself.

Meet me at midnight, says the note.

There are no other instructions. He doesn't say where to meet him.

Peculiar. Frustrating.

When you finish your work for the night, you head to your room. It's still early, just past eleven, and maybe you can remember someplace you had met before, but it doesn't matter. You turn the corner and Malcolm is standing in front of your door.

"I made a mistake," he says. "My note was incomplete."

You don't reply. You don't ask how he found your room. You simply reach into your pocket for your keys and open the door. You let him inside.

He smiles, amused by your modest accommodations. It's a small room with a narrow bed, and a single lamp on a desk. It's everything his room in the royal suite is not.

Malcolm turns to you and grabs your wrist. "Here," he says, dropping a small item into your palm. "Wear this."

You open your hand to reveal a black tube of lipstick. You stifle a laugh. "Do you think it will help?"

His jaw tightens. "Yes."

There's no sense in teasing him if you want him to stay, but you're still smiling when you turn to the mirror on the wall. Your eyes meet Malcolm's in the reflection. He stares at you so intensely, so desperately, you sober up long enough to open the tube. It's a wine color that will go well with your complexion. He put effort into his gift.

You glance up once more at Malcolm's face in the mirror before you carefully apply the lipstick. It goes on smoothly, the lower lip first and then the upper. You touch your finger to the corner of your mouth to wipe away a smudge. It's your first time, you can't expect it to be perfect, but you can try. You run your tongue along the inside of your lip.

It looks good. You like it.

"Thank you," you whisper.

He grabs you by the shoulder and spins you around to face him. He shoves you against the wall and pushes his fingers into your hair. His hand curls into a fist and he jerks your head toward him. His mouth is hot as he kisses you.

If this is what a little lipstick will do, you wonder how he'd react to stockings.

Malcolm pulls away and the color doesn't look as good on him. He slides to the floor, his hands touching you the entire way down. His hands tremble on your hips. "Tell me what to do."

Five words have never been more arousing. Is this what it feels like to be royalty? To have someone bow to you? To have a servant at your call?

You smile. This, you can do.

The next time the king's party arrives, Malcolm isn't with them. You casually ask after him to one of the king's men, like any concerned citizen.

"Malcolm has left the court," he replies. "He's gone out to make his own way for a while."

You raise your eyebrows. "How did the king react?"

"King Duncan is very understanding. He's proud of his son."

It's a shame, you think, that Malcolm doesn't seem to know this.

Time passes. The McKittrick changes. Employers leave and you're promoted until there are no other porters. You change. You take on debts you cannot repay. You fall in love with men who will never have you, but you can't stop yourself from loving them. You make bargains and deals until you're in so deep you're drowning. You hate yourself until it aches and all you can do is wipe the dust away. There is no salvation. There is no truth.

And sometimes, you see Malcolm walking through the hotel lobby. Sometimes, he looks at you. His eyes can still find yours in a crowd.

He never says anything, but his eyes are pleading. Do not speak a word. Do not speak.

His secrets are not yours to tell. To work in a hotel is to keep the secrets of its tenants. You tuck his secrets in your book and close the cover.