"You can't make me do it," Voss Potter sneered. He was getting good at that expression, but he had no choice in the matter. If his mask slipped his uncle would walk all over him.
"Yes, I can. I'm your guardian and you'll do as I say." His uncle folded his hands in front of him and expected to be obeyed. They'd had this argument before and it wouldn't be the last time either, unfortunately. Why couldn't he just have his uncle's love? They needed each other, but something about Uncle Basil had changed.
"No, I will not." Voss stood his ground. He couldn't appear weak even for a second. He'd learned that the hard way. The last time he'd given in to his uncle he'd been forced to stay in his room for a week, and by forced he didn't mean sent to his room without any supper, but sent there with guards blocking his way. They wouldn't budge no matter how much he begged and tried to bribe them--they probably thought he was a royal brat getting his just desserts. He couldn't blame them. Not one of them had been in the original security detail that he'd known since he was born. His uncle had fired all of them and replaced the team with his own men a few months after Voss' parents had been killed. That's when things had started going crazy around his house.
"Go to your suite. I'll deal with you later when you will marry who I tell you to--so get yourself prepared." Not one inch of the man was in disarray. Voss wanted to muss him, but refrained, not letting his anger get the better of him.
"You just want control of my estate. You don't care about me or my feelings. I will stand against you on this. I'm not ready to marry some stranger of your choosing." Voss crossed his arms over his chest, but didn't back down.
Great, now I sound like a spoilt brat. All I need to do is stomp my foot and pout.
That's probably why he kept getting sent to his stupid room like a child.
Basil slapped him. "Leave my presence. Now. Before I really lose my temper."
He should have seen it coming, that wasn't the first time he'd been hit, but at least this time it was a slap and not a punch. He rubbed his cheek, but didn't respond to his uncle in any other way. It was best to keep his silence on this one if he didn't want more than a hit to the face. Oh, he'd leave all right, but it wouldn't be to his rooms. Captain Rodrick was due to leave port and when he did, Voss would stow away. Anything was better than being on a planet without his parents. Since their death Uncle Basil had kept trying to push him onto someone else he could control. That wasn't the only change he'd noticed. His uncle was more irritable and quick to anger and it didn't seem to be through grief. Voss' parents were never spoken of. That was the hardest thing for him because he needed time to grieve, but couldn't because he was too busy staying one step ahead of the marriage train his uncle was on.
He had his own craft, but it wasn't like he could fly the damn thing and Voss had no idea who he could trust now that his family retainers were all gone. He had no way to contact them even if he wanted to. They'd left in the middle of the night and Voss had never got their personal information because they were always at the house if he needed something. The whole situation was just about hopeless.
It didn't help that he had to have someone shadow him at all times. He couldn't be caught alone with any interesting men--or women for that matter--because he would be compromised and forced to marry and right now he couldn't even have a hint of scandal or his uncle would take advantage of it. It was a dumb rule that was put into law millennia ago when there had been wars over estates. Someone needed to change it. At twenty-one he would be free to live his life how he wanted. That scared the crap out of his uncle because it meant Voss' trust fund would go bye-bye, and Basil would be forced to fend for himself. It couldn't come fast enough for Voss. Some days he wished he'd been born into a lower class because then he wouldn't have to worry about the archaic rules. The society on Adair would do what it must to protect their precious money, but the class rules were stupid and Voss didn't fully understand it anyway. His birthday couldn't get here fast enough. Not that he'd throw his uncle out and Basil should know that Voss wanted him in his life. His uncle would always be welcome even after all the stuff the man had put him through. Family stuck together.
Despite the crazy way Basil was acting, Voss still loved him. Uncle Basil was the only family he had left and Voss treasured that. Maybe not right this second, when his cheek still stung with the slap, but later, when he calmed down, Voss would remember the good times.