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Marley Larson

"I don't feel rejected, but I feel neglected."

0 · 1,138 views · located in Modern Wild West

a character in “A Handful of Dust”, as played by supertoastgirl

Description

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theme songs

Much Too LongOpen




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Name: Marley Juniper Larson
Role: Female 3
Age: Twenty-three
Occupation: Works in the saloon as a bartender and occasional showgirl

Likes:
- Working, it distracts her
- Fire, and she’s gotten in trouble for her fascination
- Hanging with the boys, she isn’t one for the ladies
- Traveling outside of Dust, the world’s an exciting place
- Shooting, Marley is a remarkable shot and enjoys practicing
- Riding, horses and men
- Children, there aren’t many kids around but she truly has a motherly insticts
- Scaring people, sometimes she purposely acts strange to startle people
- Acceptance, she doesn't feel rejected but neglected
- The wilderness, Marley would rather be part of the “Wild Wild West” not boring Dust

Dislikes:
- Female 2, they do not get on in anyway, they believe in completely different things
- Love, after Male 6 leaving her she tries to avoid all emotional attatchments
- Dresses, she can’t get anything done with the things on
- Rain, mud gets everywhere when it rains, plus it’s cold
- Farm work, living in Dust most everyone does farm work
- Drunk men, she has had too many bad occurrences with those under the influence
- Women in general, they look down upon her and her ways of living
- Boring people, she cannot stand to have a conversation with someone unable to hold interesting conversation
- Judgemental folks, a lot of Dust residents make false assumptions about her


Fears: Marley fears, although she shows otherwise, of being thrown out of Dust permanently. Though she made a good life for herself in the wilderness she fears that she would go mad without social interaction. Marley is deathly afraid of choking to death in a dust storm. Her parents were caught off guard while hunting when she was just twelve years old and suffocated in a dust storm, having no proper shelter. Though Marley would readily deny it, she is afraid of dying alone. She very much needs love and affection, however stoic she may seem.

Dreams: Like most people in this day and age, Marley wants to eventually find the man who will make her happy. She wants children, and little home away from the structured life of Dust, that way her kids will learn to make their own decisions. Marley wants a free-ranged life, full of little feet pattering against the floorboards and security from the love of her life.




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Personality: Marley is spark, a kick to the pants; wild. A strange little light she is, and she isn’t afraid to make others uncomfortable. She just wants to live a life that will make her happy, even if that means leaving Dust and living in the wilderness. She is constantly seeking new activities and jumping into the most dangerous business. She’s one of the boys, a tomboy. Though she may get along with the men much better than other women she is also strangely graceful, witty, and charming. If her life had been different, Marley would have turned out be a true lady. She works hard and enjoys working hard, she believes it builds character. She is received on all kinds of levels, to some she is quiet and mysterious, to others a burst of energy and overbearing.

Background: Marley is one of the many orphans that have roamed in Dust. Her parents were diligent, loyal Dust leaders, but unfortunately died when she was the fresh age of twelve. Thankfully though, with such an abundance of parentless children, Dust had formed an organized way to provide for the children. Those without guardians would live in a house for a couple of months then move to another for a period of time, in a cycle. With that being said, Marley truly had the opportunity to get to know everyone in town. She knows the six others that truly run the town very well, having lived with each and everyone of them at one point.

Though she was grateful for the system when she was a young kid, by the time she was sixteen she decided to live on her own. She took the abandoned one bedroom home at the edge of town and converted into her own. She worked at the saloon and soon found herself able to provide for herself and others. Once she was of age she took part of the program that supports orphans and often has a child harbored in her small house.

Even with her “criminal” records, Dust still lets her foster children. The reason to Marley’s temporary leave was due to an age old fight between her and Female 2. When the two had eyes for the same boy Female 2 teased and made Marley a fool. So, Marley, blind with anger lit Female 2’s precious carriage on fire.

Marley is not one to be messed with. She a bit irrational and regrets nothing.

So begins...

Marley Larson's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan"
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Miss Larson sat with her legs crossed on the counter of her extremely small home. She, like few others did not have a family to raise, nor did she care to at this point. Her house was small, just big enough for herself. Maisey would have thought it should be destroyed, like the other tiny house.

Soon she would need to leave to prep the saloon. The place opened at noon and ran until about two in the morning. Thankfully, Marley did not own the saloon, she just worked there. In fact, she was a trusted employee and often times opened and closed the bar. With that being said, she did not work during all hours of the day; Marley generally opened the saloon, stayed for a couple of hours then worked the last shift of the night and closed the saloon.

She was the only woman that worked at the bar anymore. Mostly because they didn’t put on as many shows, but also because the women of Dust were becoming fragile ladies. They were judgmental and staunch, strangely conservative and sheltered. The saloon, apparently, was too rough for women to work in. Most of the people in Dust believed that women should be taken care of, and they should in turn take care of the children. Don’t get me wrong, Marley loved kids, but that didn’t mean she was ready to have one of her own or devote her life to it. Her eyes watched the sun rise at it’s slow tempo, every morning she did this; took a moment to think.

Today she was dressed a simple outfit, suiting her personality; it was slightly disorganized and rough. She needed sleep, but refused to waste the beautiful day. A free hand ruffled through her hair, leaning even farther back into a totally relaxed position; her legs tangled around themselves. In her other hand was a hot cup of jo, completely black. She had grown assumed to the bitterness of the coffee, and there wasn’t anything around here to sweeten in it anyway. This usually was her time to relax before going on with her everyday life. But today was different, her mind could not stop replaying itself. She was thinking about Peter, one of the outsiders, one that she knew all too well.

When she had been kicked out of Dust, Peter and Jack and Hannah were the ones who took her in. They were unmistakably the most gentle and caring people she had ever met. And Peter, don't even get the little lady started on Peter. All the feelings that she had tried to forget were teasing and torturing her once again. They were here in Dust. She never thought she’d see the day. They were wilderness loving people, and as far as she knew they wanted to stay that way.

Her bare feet smacked against the hardwood floor suddenly and she decided to leave her thoughts behind. Marley quickly gathered her socks and shoes and put them on. Within a split second she was out the door and headed down the street. She lived on the edge of town and had to wind her way through to get to the saloon every morning. Generally, she tried to ignore the main road, seeing as the most proper of women set foot on it. But instead of taking a loop around the general store then to the saloon she took an entirely different route. Though she tried desperately not to seem obvious, Marley carefully and slowly trailed next to the shanty that Peter and his family were staying in.

She felt bad for them, she didn’t want this sort of thing to happen to such good people. At least Jack and Hannah. Her blues eyes grew wide as she realized what she was doing. Marley could not let Peter, that boy get in the way of her happiness. After all, he made his decision. He had the choice to come with her but didn’t. That was his choice to make; though Marley believes his choice to be the wrong one, she tries to convince herself she’s better off without him. It was his loss. Right? Right.

Thankfully the sight of Aaron ahead suddenly caught her attention. He had leisurely walked past her, seeing as she was hidden behind a house from his angle. The sight of this old friend made her feet veer toward his direction. Marley considered him to be one of her own, an outcast and a dear friend. A smile smeared across her face as she tried to sneak up behind him. Soon, she could no longer contain herself, “AaaAAaaron!” she yelled, with a wild laugh following it. As she did this she sprang at him, clinging to his back like a child. Marley was creating more ruckus than usual in the morning. Surely she would be chastised.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake
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Jack’s blue eyes scanned over his lovely wife as she rose out of bed. He wanted to help her, seeing that the weight of the baby was creating some trouble, but knew that if helped her in every small deed she would soon be offended. Jack knew Hannah, she was very much her own person and slightly stubborn in the ways of being helped. She wanted to know that she could do it herself, and Jack respected her for that. He certainly would have a hard time being married to woman who expected to be waited on.

A crooked smile lit his face as Hannah led him out of the small living space and into the open air. It was nostalgic feelings came over him as his arm was stretched outward and attached to his leading wife. Memories of Hannah leading him through long desert stretches to a secluded water hole, and memories of her leading him to their bedroom were alive in his mind. Though he was natural born leader, he could not help but be directed by the woman he adored most.

Outside was much cooler than in the house, mostly because a morning breeze still existed. Hannah was now leaned against the side of house, Jack cooed at her beauty. There was a certain light that radiated from her when she was pregnant. A mother’s glow, he supposed they called it. Even with all the complications they had experienced before, she was shining as brightly as ever.

Hannah into his arms in a fluid motion, and Jack responded the same. He stretched her arms around her, still able to the clasp his hands together even with the baby between. He prayed that in a few months time, they would be able to be as they were now. The two of the close together with their child between them. Jack’s stubble shuffled some of Hannah’s brown locks as he nestled against her.

“How are you feeling?” He asked simply. Honestly, Jack wanted to ask more than this, he wanted to ask her about the town, the child, and all of her thoughts. He knew she was on edge, but he didn’t want to make her more upset by asking her about her emotions.

A couple of people were now out. Marley being one of them. Just down the road a bit she was playfully attacking another young man that lived in the town. His eyes only stayed on her for a few moments. He was never sure of that girl. Sometimes she was just too much.

His attention was drawn back to his wife within seconds though, eager to know how she was dealing with things.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Marley had not expected that. Aaron had fully turned around before she could even finish her pounce. He had caught her like one of those princesses in the books her mother used to read her. A small chuckle escaped her lips as she thought of this. Marley was far from a princess, and Aaron was no prince charming either. “You’re goood!” She said cheerfully, referring to his quick reflexes and ability to catch a leaping woman. As Aaron put Marley down, she answered his question, but in the way that one might expect. “I just thought you’d need more of a welcome back then a couple of glances.”

Her statement was true. Most people didn’t pay attention to Aaron. He was different, and always had been. The townsfolk didn’t exactly detest him, but they weren’t especially fond of him either. As far a Marley knew, even though he was a constant protector of these people, the people in Dust didn’t trust him because he spent nights in the wilderness. And apparently, only God knows what actually happens out there.

It was such a joke to Marley. The wilderness might have a little more deception and little more violence, but there was also freedom and people who were full of life and love. It was definitely difficult to live outside of town, but Marly had managed with the help of Jack, Hannah, and Peter. Good people always get you through the toughest of times. Marley truly believed that.

Feet crunched the particles of dirt below them as Mar’s gaze traveled over to the shanty. Jack and Hannah were at the side, embracing each other in almost a disgustingly sweet manner. Then her green eyes found Peter. He was at the front door, answering to Elle. His features were exactly as she had remembered them, no older and no more tired. He looked pleasant, happy, unscaved. A pang of regret, and some jealousy came over her as she watched Peter interact with Eleanor. Since they came here, Marley had spoken no more than a couple of words to him. After that, she feared that he was ignoring her, though Mar herself made no efforts to speak with the man.

Suddenly Marley looked back to Aaron, nodding her head. Though her eyes were elsewhere, she was still listening to his words. There was no time to lose then. The most logical place to go would be the cafe... But that also meant that Marley would have to acknowledge and maybe even speak with Maisy. Oh the dread. There was some food at the saloon, but she doubted that Aaron would want his first meal back to be alcohol and toast. “To the cafe then!” She said abruptly. Soon she was marching toward the center of town where the saloon and cafe were across the street from each other. Without even looking back to see if Aaron followed Marley interrupted the conversation between Wes and Maisy.

Normally Marley wasn’t too keen on being playful with Wes, but anything to disrupt Maisy’s parade was a risk she was willing to take. “G’morning, Wesley.” She said sitting down next to him, crossing her legs gracefully. “You’re looking handsome as ever.” Her behavior was not unusual, in fact she was rather flirty with the town’s playboy. What else was she to do? She sold drinks to him on a regular basis, and outside of the bar they were good friends, though she never felt the desire to sleep with him like so many of the other girls in Dust. Wes was a dangerous figure, able to make women weep for weeks, and Marley surprisingly knew better than to get involved that way. Anyway it was much more fun to just play games with the boy.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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It was early, but William had been awake for hours. Sleep wasn't coming to him easily. These newcomers to town had turned everything upside down. He wanted to do what was best for the townspeople. He had sworn to protect them at all costs. Sure, these scrappers didn't seem threatening, but it wasn't that easy. He wanted to be fair, but there were so many angles to this problem. If they were dangerous to the town, how could he throw them out, knowing the female was heavily pregnant and ready to give birth any day. He would be sending her out to her death. He didn't know how to make the right decision for everyone involved. Someone was going to get hurt, and it was going to fall on his shoulders alone.

When they had first appeared, he had felt sympathy. They seemed sincere in their plea for help, but how could he trust them? The pregnant woman and her husband weren't his concern. It was the third traveler, the woman's brother that truly gave him pause. He seemed slightly more wild and less willing to follow the rules. He would have to be watched. But as they showed up on the outskirts of Dust, it had been up to William to give an order. So he had done the only thing he could think of at the time. Leave it up to the townspeople to vote. It was only fair, and allowed everyone to have their voice heard. But he knew those who were disappointed afterwards would trace the blame back to him.

Running his hands through his hair, he pushed himself away from his desk and out of the chair, and began pacing back and forth in his cramped office. He swore his hairs would turn gray by the end of this week. He left the office and headed for his room, deciding it was finally time to start his daily morning walk of the town. It wasn't required of him, but it made him feel like he was actively keeping everyone safe by patrolling the border. It felt as if it was the right thing to do. So he quickly prepared himself for the day and stepped outside. Thankfully it was still cool, and he preferred to be up and have the perimeter walked before it got too warm outside.

His house, which was his parents before, was located directly in the center of town. It certainly wasn't the biggest, but he liked being located where everywhere was easily accessible, and he could watch the comings and goings at the shops. He certainly didn't need a large house anyway, sine it was only him. He had once hoped to start a beautiful life with Sophia in that house, but things had definitely not turned out that way. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind, not wanting to relive that memory so early in the morning. He decided to start his walk by the little shack the newcomers had decided to inhabit, so he started in that direction. The walk would take him directly past the shops, and most importantly Sophia's cafe, and he hoped he would get the chance to see her. Perhaps even talk to her alone.

But fate was not going his way today.

Not only was Sophia's cafe bustling with activity, but his brother Wes was there. His own brother who had stolen Sophia from him. He could feel the anger rising in his stomach, and felt the urge to go over and yell, "Why? Why would you do that to your one and only brother?!" He still didn't understand, and it had happened long enough ago. To make things worse, Wes was sitting with the one person William truly despised in this town. Maisy Cartwright. She was a young girl who felt entitled to everything just because her 'daddy' was the founder of the town. In truth, she had done nothing to actually help progress the town, and spent her days walking around acting like she had authority.

Wes and Maisy seemed to have formed a bond over their hatred for him. There wasn't a pair that deserved each other more, in his opinion. Breaking his train of thought, Marley ran into the picture and plopped down beside Wes at the table. Will felt a pang of loneliness, watching them all sit together. He knew he couldn't walk over, because he wouldn't be welcomed. That's how it was for most of the townspeople. He couldn't become their friends, because he was also their leader. He made himself look away, and saw Aaron a little ways away. Just the perfect man William wanted to see. Someone he could just talk business with.He quickly made his way over, and gave Aaron a small clap on the back. "Good to see you're back." He knew Aaron left frequently, and while he openly discouraged it, he wasn't going to tell the man he couldn't leave. That wasn't the ruler he wanted to become. "I need to pick your brain, if you don't mind."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Aaron "Sullivan"


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Aaron walked behind Marley as she ran into the cafe, however, William's presence came to be more immediate as Marley ran inside. Will was competent and virtuous indeed, and as he was in a way thrown into the position of leading the town, Aaron never thought that Will fully understood the present circumstances of reality. Though, Aaron knew it was more important to stabilize town supplies before altering the government structure, and never spoke much of his views of the town. Whoever led Dust held, politically, absolute power, and if abused, may lead to the unfortunate event of townspeople being discontented and result in some sort of physical rebellion. After the society-destroying pandemic, no one could afford this.

"Good to see you're back," Will said. Aaron knew he disapproved of his traveling, he'd call it, but it didn't make a difference to him. "I need to pick your brain a bit, if you don't mind." Perhaps the situation was coming a bit worrisome to Will and he was just looking for advisory of some sort. It didn't make a difference to Aaron, he'd be glad to help with whatever Will needed of him.

"Not at all, Will, just I need to eat something before I do much else. I haven't eaten breakfast yet but I just walked six miles back to the town. C'mon, let's go get something; I was about to go eat something with Marley, and we can talk over food or whatever, doesn't make much of a difference to me. Besides, I bet you haven't eaten either," Aaron said, leading Will towards the cafe.

Having studied history in his free time, Aaron knew that the line between being a leader and part of the group you're leading takes away from the informality you can resort to with them. He experienced this as a town guard, as some of the people he lived with as a child did get into trouble later in life, perhaps with alcohol or overreacting, and he couldn't deal with them as a friend, he had to diffuse the situation as more of a professional. He kept notes on everyone in the back of his mind, because at any time he could be called upon to restrain or incapacitate someone. The town's structure didn't exactly work out for Will, as everything rested on his shoulders always, and no one put effort to try and change it, not even Aaron, and he knew it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Maisy replied first, "Good morning, Wes," and Wes decided to give her a small wink. He knew deep down she had to feel something for him, and just longed to see her actually express it. Maisy was very traditional, however, and flirting most certainly wasn't her style. She much preferred to express her opinions rather than her feelings. Either way, sometimes he could just see it in her eyes, and he was always extremely pleased when he did.

“Morning.” Sophia was being her normal bubbly self, even though it was extremely early. And after his next comment, he saw her roll her eyes playfully. He chuckled at the sight, glad to see she could still mess with him as well. Sometimes (not very often), he felt bad about the whole Sophia incident. Not because of what he did to his brother, but because of what he did to her. After they had ended, he'd never really seen her with anybody else. He certainly hoped he hadn't ruined the idea of love for her. She knew how he was before they had gotten involved, and she really shouldn't take it personally. He just wasn't the relationship kind of guy. Any woman who ever expected him to be monogamous was in for a rude awakening.

"Thank you," was the only response he got from Maisy. She was being quite reserved with her answers this morning. He wondered if she was in a bad mood, or she was just trying to hide her feelings. Either way, that wasn't going to stop him easily. Sophia agreed to get him his tea and a pastry, and she shot up from the table, leaving him alone with Maisy. She told him she was well, and he finally got a smirk out of her. He couldn't help but grin back.

Maisy then once again decided to turn serious, very much against his wishes."Although, I would be better if we didn't have the threat of those intruders looming on our doorstep..." Wes had of course heard the buzz about the newcomers, but hadn't spoken a word to any of them since they arrived. He wasn't exactly sure where he stood on the subject, so he had avoided all talk of it so far. Maisy's intentions were pretty clear however. That was probably the one and only similarity she had with his brother. Not that he would bring it up of course. "Oh Maise, don't let those newcomers get you down!" He'd never really had a nickname for her before, but decided to roll with it.

He paused for a second, searching for the right words. He was about to tread on very dangerous ground. He hadn't really thought about his plans for the night up until that exact moment, but seeing Maisy made him quickly decide. "You know, I'd love to help you get your mind off of all these serious thoughts..." he began, giving her a slight smirk. "I thought maybe we could get a few drinks at the saloon and the-"

“G’morning, Wesley.” He turned without finishing his sentence to see Marley sit down next to him. Talk about bad timing. But either way he placed a hand on her shoulder and gave it a little squeeze. "Good morning yourself, Marley. It's too god awful early for me."

“You’re looking handsome as ever.” That got an actual laugh from him. Marley worked at the saloon, so the two knew each other quite well, considering he spent practically every single night there. She regularly flirted with him, and he did the same back. It had never gone farther than that, and seemed to almost turn into a game for the both of them. Not that he was against sleeping with her, because he most definitely would. However, he wasn't so quick to jump into that when it might mean losing someone he actually got along with. He would either have to be extremely drunk or tempted...which happened more often than he wanted to admit. Okay, maybe he would actually be quick to jump into it. But he really didn't think it would ruin friendship.

"And you look downright dashing, my dear," he replied, letting a little chuckle escape again. If there was one girl who always surprised him, it was definitely Marley. He never really knew what to expect with her.

He peeked over to Maisy, wondering what was going through her mind. He wondered if she was going to respond to his half-attempt of asking her out, or just ignore the fact that he had said anything. Knowing her, she would probably pretend he had never said a word. Oh well, that just meant he would have to get her alone once again.

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Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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"Oh Maise, don't let those newcomers get you down!" Wes told her playfully. Maisy simply frowned. How could he not be suspicious of them? They were bad news, through and through. Letting them stay would only bring disaster for their little town.

Wes paused, looking at her. He smirked, and then out of nowhere, he spoke again, his tone slow and lazy and… There was something else to it. Something, Maisy supposed, you’d call seductive. Not that she approved of any of that. "You know, I'd love to help you get your mind off of all these serious thoughts...”

Maisy sighed. Typical. Of course, he’d turn anything she said into a way of suggesting she should act promiscuously and go against her father’s wishes. Disgusting. But what could she expect? He had no depth and no sense of decorum. Or… At least that’s what she kept telling herself.

Wes continued, ”I thought maybe we could get a few drinks at the saloon and the-"

“G’morning, Wesley,” another voice entered the scene, cutting Wes off. But Maisy barely even noticed. She was too caught up in her own thoughts.

Her heart leapt. Was that… Wes asking her out? …On a date? A mess of thoughts and feeling flooded her mind as she tried to sort through them without letting it show on her face. But to no avail. Her heart began to thud in her chest and colour flooded her cheeks. She’d never actually been on a proper date, and she’d never kissed anyone either. Despite swanning around, exuding the aura that everybody wanted her but she was simply too good for them, she’d never actually been out with anybody. When her father was alive, he’d instilled the value in her that no one was good enough for his little girl and she had to be sure that, before she accepted an offer, the man was a perfect gentleman. And then, after he died, she’d been so wrapped up in the idea of falling in love in the traditional way and having her own family that no one had ever been good enough to fulfil that dream. Besides, most of the men in the town were either too scared of her to even suggest going out with her, or hated her self-righteous, entitled attitude too much to want to date her.

In the background, Maisy could hear Wesley and Marley, who’d arrived, much to Maisy’s annoyance, exchanging greetings. But Maisy wasn’t really paying attention, still wrapped up in her own dreams.

Of course, she was just being stupid. Wesley was known for being the town player. Any interest he showed in her was simply self-serving. All he wanted was sex. In fact, anyone would’ve done. He was probably only asking her because she was here, not because he liked her. She highly doubted Wes was choosey about who he took to bed. She should just shoot him down with some sarcastic, degrading comment about why she would never lower herself to going out with him anyway. But, something stopped her. What if, just maybe, he was serious? What if he really was serious? Maybe he’d only been such a player before because he’d never found the one he loved? What if she was the one who could change him? Her mind filled with images of a romantic evening at the saloon together. Wes would be that perfect charming gentleman she knew he knew how to be, without any ulterior motives towards sleeping with her. They’d go out on dates for a while, and then he’d ask her to marry him. Then, and only then, they would sleep together. And they’d have children, and she’d finally have a justification for keeping that big house. She’d have the perfect family, all of her own. And her sister, Jennifer, would come back, and she’d see just what a perfect life Maisy had made for herself here.

Maisy glanced up, only to find Wes looking right at her. Her cheeks flushed, hot and red. It was almost as if he knew she was thinking about him. She stood straight up quickly, the chair banging noisily against the ground as she did, the table wobbling slightly.

“I um need to go,” she said all in a rush, flustered. And she walked off, leaving the half eaten pastry on the table, forcing herself to herself not to glance back at Wes as she left.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge
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After what seemed only a few seconds, she popped her head around the door to see a few more people around. Instead of Maisy with Wes, her seat seemed to be empty now with only a half eaten pastry, she frowned for a few moments as she thought. Maisy wouldn't have just left like that nor left without finishing to be honest. But she shook her head at the thought, pondering that perhaps she had something important to do. Her eyes left the empty seat to see that now Marley was sitting beside Wes, engaged in a conversation. Quickly, she added a few more pastries with some of her hand baked croutons next to Wes’s pastry, and got a glass of lemonade as well. Balancing the tray, she stepped out of the shadows of the door and towards the table, placing down the tray gently.

”’Morning Marley! She exclaimed as she stood besides the table. ”Wes, your pastry and tea, and for Marley, a glass of cool lemonade with a few things to eat.” She carefully picked up the plates, placing them besides the right person; she then did the same with the drinks until the tray was empty. Holding the tray with one hand, she rested the other on her side.

”Where did Maisy go..? She looked over at Wes, grinning, ”You didn’t scare her off did you?

As she waited for a reply, her gaze fell upon two men who were walking towards them now. Aaron, the Town Guard who she hadn’t seen in a while and William, the Town Leader, who seemed to be also engaged in conversation. Without breaking her smile, she waved at the two, even though she felt slightly uncomfortable to see William. It was merely to do with her; after all, she did break his heart...with his own brother. And till this day, she hasn’t forgiven herself for the horrendous incident. Every time she saw him, she felt sad and somewhat angry with herself. But of course this was never shown through her body language or expression; in any case it seemed after the whole disaster occurred, her emotions, or at least negative ones, where until lock and key. These days, she herself didn’t know if she was truthfully okay.

Tilting her head slightly, she returned her gaze back to Marley and Wes. It seemed that her cafe was getting busy fairly quickly, and her eagerness to try and give her bakes to the travellers would be slightly overdue, after all the customers come first. Smiling to herself at the thought, she stepped back; everyone had their own little lives to look after, their own little conversations and interactions. Though Dust often gave the impression of a strong and steady town however small it was, but surreptitiously, she always thought that it was filled with as many problems as a big town, perhaps even more at times. As she felt herself go into a daze, she quickly blinked harshly to returned herself back to reality.

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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As Wesley gently grabbed her shoulder she instinctively rubbed his knee, almost as if she were a grandmother of sorts. The action was not entirely strange, but was far more friendly than she had intended it to be. Marley was always affectionate, though not always in the ways that she wanted to be.

To her surprise, Maisy quickly excused herself. Marley’s face contorted to a slightly confused expression, it was unlike Maisy, the all empowered, the beautiful, the confident Maisy to just up and leave a conversation. Marley hadn’t thought her presence would be that much a of a disturbance. Her head bobbed to looked over at Wes, her eyes looking for something that might explain why the girl ran off. She then shrugged her shoulders innocently before turning her attention to Sophia.

Sophia was coming back from inside the cafe carrying a tray of multiple goodies. At the sight of the food made Marley’s stomach softly growled. The girl had seemingly forgotten about her friend Aaron by now, seeing that she was caught up in conversation with William. She often forgot to eat real food at her own house, and never realize how hungry she was until she came face to face with food. Marley smiled at Sophia, she knew the drama between her and the Hodge boys but she had never judged her for her choices. She was a lovely girl, but Marley did not know her like she knew some of the other people in town. If asked if they were friends, Marley would reply yes. They were not close though, and may be that was Mar’s fault. Who knows.

“Thank you.” Marley mumbled before digging into the pastry in front of her. If there was one thing that Marley could say about Sophia, it was that she was a wonderful cook. No matter the occasion, she always enjoyed eating the cafe owner’s food. After Sophia remark to Wesley, Marley quickly swallowed to interject. Almost choking she bursted out, “Must have!” with a large mischievous grin.

As much as women loved Wesley, they also despised and feared him. The latter usually being the first emotion. He was so good-looking that women were often too intimidated to approach him. Then, once they had started a conversation, most had trouble keeping it. Wesley truly enchanted women with that wit and charm of his. Later, once he had them wrapped around his finger or once he had slept with them maybe once or twice, they despised him. It was then, after his goal was achieved, that they were all like the rest; used.

Marley wasn’t quite sure how she felt about the whole thing. Many people in town thought it was disgusting how he smooched and mooched off of the young women in town. Her opinion was mostly indifferent, every single woman in this town knew of Wes and his reputation. It was their own fault for falling for such antics.

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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William stole a glance at the cafe, feeling his palms becoming sweaty. He really shouldn't be this nervous about just going over and having to talk with people. Except he was extremely nervous. Not only was he worried about making a good impression in front of Sophia, which he always attempted to do thew few times they were together, but one wrong word or move could mean the destruction of his leadership and authority. And with his brother over there, it was highly likely it wouldn't end pretty. He looked back at Aaron, who finally responded. "Not at all, Will, just I need to eat something before I do much else. I haven't eaten breakfast yet but I just walked six miles back to the town. C'mon, let's go get something; I was about to go eat something with Marley, and we can talk over food or whatever, doesn't make much of a difference to me. Besides, I bet you haven't eaten either."

Well... that totally backfired William thought as he watched Aaron take off for the cafe. That was the one place he didn't want to have to go. Yes, it was true, he was extremely hungry. But why couldn't they have eaten practically anywhere else in the entire town of Dust? Even eating at the little shack with the newcomers sounded preferable right about then. But, he could't exactly get out of it. So, with a large sigh he started over towards the cafe. Just as he was walking over, he saw Sophia emerge from inside with a bunch of good-looking pastries. He knew she was the best cook in the entire town of Dust, having gotten to eat her meals every single night when they were engaged.

She looked absolutely beautiful - he thought she always did - and he paused for a second just to watch her. She had a smile on her face, and was happily chatting with everyone. Even though she had been through so much hurt in the past few years, she still managed to be positive. She was still one of the brightest lights in the entire town, and it was hard not to feel comfortable and happy in her presence. Of course, it hadn't always been sunshine and rainbows in their relationship either. Behind closed doors they had some of the worst fights. Even now, Will regretted some of the things he had said to her in his anger. Parts of him understood why she left him, but others wished she had never left.

He continued walking until he made it over to the table. Out of some stroke of luck, Maisy had gotten up and left the table while he had been reminiscing of Sophia. He turned to see that she was hurrying away from the cafe, and wondered what had happened. Her normally calm demeanor had shattered. He would bet money that Wes had something to do with it. He was always getting those sorts of reactions from women.

Will would have preferred to sit at a table alone, but knew Aaron was going to want to sit next to Marley, so he grudgingly sat down at the crowded table, leaving a seat empty on either side of him. This is going to be torture... He pushed all his negativity out of his mind and gave the group a small smile. "Good morning, everyone," he said, slowly meeting eyes with everyone at the table. Sophia had brought quite a few pastries out, and just the sight of them made his stomach growl with hunger. So he quickly grabbed one and took a bite, savoring just how delicious it was.

He kept his eyes down towards his plate, slowly eating his pastry. He wanted to talk with Aaron, but not with so many people around. He wanted to discuss the newcomers, but didn't exactly feel like hearing everyone's opinions right now. He heard a chair scooting out, and looked up to see Wes was standing. In his eyes was a look of pure hatred. They just stared at each other for a few seconds, as if willing the other to say something. Wes was the one to break the stare, as he turned and ran off without saying a word.

William's body relaxed; he hadn't even realized how tense he was. Now he only had to worry about Sophia, and it would be much easier to be a gentleman with his brother out of the picture. He looked up at her and smiled warmly. "This is really delicious, Sophia," he said, trying to start any sort of conversation with her.

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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As Wes looked over at Maisy, he noticed warmth spreading throughout her cheeks, and he smirked. She abruptly stood up, practically knocking the chair over, and the smile disappeared from his face. What was she doing? The prim and proper Miss Maisy was falling apart in front of his eyes. “I um need to go.” She spoke hurriedly and then turned and walked off. She didn't even finish her food. He had expected her to ignore his pursuit, but this reaction was a complete surprise. Women just didn't behave that way around him. He felt the urge to go after her, but something held him in his chair.

Just then Sophia returned with his tea and pastry, and she set it down in front of him. He grabbed the cup and took a sip of the tea, really needing the caffeine. His eyes drifted back towards Maisy, who was now getting farther and farther away from the cafe. ”Where did Maisy go..?" The sentence made Wes turn his eyes to Sophia, to notice she was staring at him with a smile. ”You didn’t scare her off did you?" Secretly he knew that it was indeed himself that had caused her to leave, but he certainly wasn't going to admit it.

“Must have!” Marley piped in, grinning just as big as Sophia. The pair of them were enjoying this just a little too much. He feigned a look of shock. "Why Sophia, Marley, why would you ever think it was me? I attract girls, not repel them!" He chuckled, sipping more of his tea. He set the cup down on the table with a little clink, and leaned back into his chair, looking comfortable. He smirked, focusing on Sophia. "Maybe your pastry just didn't agree with her stomach." He reached forward and took a bite of his own, chewing slowly and savoring it. After he swallowed, he paused, looking from Marley to Sophia, and back again. "She's crazy, though, because it's amazing." He laughed, then leaned forward and took another bite.

His good mood instantly shattered when his brother came into view and sat down at his table. Immediately his smile disappeared, a frown taking its place. "Good morning, everyone." Wes didn't hesitate. He jumped out of his chair, knocking it over. William's eyes rose, and their gazes locked. Wes had the urge to jump forward and give his brother a swift jab to the face. But he just stood still, staring back. Finally, before he did anything rash, he grabbed his tea, chugged it quickly, grabbed his pastry and stalked away from the table.

For a moment, he was blinded by his rage. He always avoided his brother, and William did the same. Wes had no idea what would have made his brother sit down at that table. They hadn't spoken one word to each other since the night Wes had been kicked out of their family's home. Hell, he'd barely even seen his brother in the past few years. Just seeing him made every negative feeling regarding his brother. All of the jealousy and anger as a child, when his parents chose to spend all their time with Will instead of him. And after Sophia had chosen Wes, Will had so much hatred. But only for his brother, not for Sophia. It was a mutual relationship. Yet it was apparently only Wes' fault.

After walking a few feet, he relaxed. He refused to let his brother get to him. He looked ahead and saw Maisy in the distance, and instantly took off after her. He was a very persistent man. He jogged to catch up to her, and when he did he slowed and began walking next to her.

"What's the rush, babe?" he asked her, placing his arm around her shoulders as they walked. "You won't be able to convince me that there is something much more important for you to do than answer my question about a date." Oh yeah, he was throwing on the charm. But, he was also being sincere. Maisy was a breath of fresh air to him. And for once, he wanted to have a different night. He didn't know what sparked this sudden change, but he knew for a fact he wasn't going to let Maisy out of his sight until she agreed.

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Sophia smiled warmly as Marley mumbled a ‘thank you’ before tucking in. She relaxed her shoulders, laughing a little as Marley added “Must have!” to her little remark. It wasn’t long before Wesley replied, "Why Sophia, Marley, why would you ever think it was me? I attract girls, not repel them!" feigning a dramatic shock expression, fit for any performance.

"Maybe your pastry just didn't agree with her stomach." She playfully punched his arm, rolling her eyes. But before she could answer, he quickly complimented her, which meant that she couldn’t make a joke. "She's crazy, though, because it's amazing." Smiling, she glanced upwards to see that Aaron and William were now much closer.

As they approached, they both took their seats around the already crowded table, William greeting them all, "Good morning, everyone." She felt herself automatically hold her breath without conscientiously knowing, only to see the reaction between the two brothers. Silently she prayed that nothing big would happen, all in the hopes of them at least trying to get along, but it was clear as day that their relationship was ruined, and all because of her it seemed. Wesley had stood up, drank up his tea and grabbed his pastry, only to stalk away from the group. Trying to relieve a little of the tension, she shouted out a ‘Goodbye’ towards the direction Wesley was headed and sighed quietly.

She had almost forgotten that Marley and Aaron sat there, and as her eyes fell upon William, she noticed he had already started to eat her pastries. Holding the empty tray tightly, she kept her smile. Opening her mouth to start a conversation, William had already beaten her too it. "This is really delicious, Sophia."

Looking over at him, Sophia returned the warm smile, nodding slightly as her blonde locks brushed against her cheek. ”Thank you, freshly baked as always! She exclaimed, grinning ever so slightly.

After a few seconds, she looked at Aaron, ”It’s been a while, how have you been?” She asked, having to raise her voice by a little as a sudden gust of wind howled into her ears. The Town Guard and Sophia didn’t really have a conversation in a long time, it seemed they were too busy and didn’t see of him much, he was pretty much a mystery. Though she knew some amount of his background, it still left her with more questions than answers really.

As she waited for a reply, she gently started to pick up the dishes, Maisy’s empty glass of lemonade, her half-eaten pastry, Wesley’s tea and plate. Again, she reminded herself about the travellers. I need to give them the bakes! It’s would be a nice thing to do...I do hope they come out around Dust, she thought to herself.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Aaron began walking up the steps, then like a bat out of hell, Maisy made her way out the cafe door and walking down the street, to which he stepped aside to let her go. Will then stepped inside as they both went to grab something to eat for breakfast.

"Mmm, delicious digesitbles," he said, forcing his voice to be lower than it is naturally to make it a more humorous comment. He then took a pastry from the tray Sophia had just put down, and without hesitation began eating. He watched as Will went to take a seat at the table everyone else was sitting at. Aaron thought Will would've wanted a slightly more private setting, but if he's going to be open about his concerns then it only said something about his strength.

"Good morning, everyone," he said, looking at the others sitting at the table. Will's words caused his brother to jump up from his chair, it falling over. For a moment they locked sight of each other, as if a battle of wills to determine the fate of the universe had occurred and ended within five seconds as Wesley took his leave without further notice. After seeing Wesley simply walk out of the cafe, Aaron walked over to his fallen chair, stood it up again, and took his seat.

"What a nice guy," Aaron said sarcastically. He then took another pastry, having finished his first, eating this one a little more slowly. He then waited for someone else's reaction, letting the situation settle down, or perhaps boil over again.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Eleanor Isis Roden Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Peter Cross Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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A soft chuckle came out of Jack when Hannah became playful with him. There was the girl he adored, he knew that sarcastic piece of her was still in there. Pregnancy couldn’t have changed her that much. Jack had her smooth hand in his as they walked around the house to inform peter of their plans. It was always safe to tell others where you were going in this world. It was too often that people got lost, or dehydrated, or mugged. The sight of Eleanor made Jack smile, she had been one of those ragtag travelers they'd taken in once, and unlike Marley, Jack actually liked Elle.

While Hannah spoke frankly with her brother, Jack nodded toward Eleanor, taking particular notice in the very young girl in her arms. It was almost as if Jack and Hannah’s minds worked in tandem. He immediately thought of how he and Hannah could be bundling a precious child of their own.

Feelings of frustration and excitement ran over him. Excitement for parenthood, for the life they could be living. Children were always something he wanted, and even more so with Hannah. Frustration for the way that the town was treating them. Dust was the only thing in the way of their dreams of a family.

With that, Jack and Hannah left toward the center of town. He had only been here once before, he was a child and his family was only passing through, and thankfully they were easily forgotten. He really knew nothing about the town, beside their private club attitude. He both envied and pitied the people who lived here.

Soon the two were in what one might call downtown. There were a small collection of shops, a cafe, and a saloon. Two strangers, a man and woman were heading away from the cafe as they were closing in on it. Outside there was a group of townsfolk sitting around a couple of tables, chowing on some pastries. Would it be too forward to just introduce themselves? Marley was there, he could see that much. That was comforting... Kind of. Will was also there, maybe he could get to talking to the man.

With a gentle squeeze Jack led his wife toward the cafe. They could kill two birds with one stone; they could both eat and socialize. Boldly, Jack approached the table and casually greeted the group. “Good morning.”

Hopefully no one would be offended, or find it awkward that they joined the people.

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Marley was too caught up in her pastry to realize that the entirety of who was at the cafe changed. Instead of sitting with Wesley, making remarks about Maisy with Sophia, Aaron and Will were beside her. She wondered if Wes went after Maisy, that wasn’t unlike him. He would do nearly anything to get what he wanted. Even if that meant actually courting the most snob ridden girl in town. A sigh almost escaped her as she took another pastry, surely she would hear about it later in the saloon.

It was a much different feel with these two men in the area. It was no longer a light, flirtation that linger in the air. It was more like a protective, down to earth feel. Aaron and Will were good guys, putting the safety of Dust front of their own.

She had no hard feelings toward Will, in fact she thought he was a splendid leader. Anyone was better than Maisy, that was for sure. Otherwise this place would be buried in old traditional ways. The world was constantly changing and the old ways of Dust were no longer applicable. Don’t get her wrong, tradition was nice and all, but she couldn’t stand the strict rules and regulations. Marley watched as William and Sophia locked eyes and spoke in polite voices.

Quietly, she watched their body language toward each other. After another drink of her lemonade Marley watched as Sophia moved her attention to Aaron, almost dismissively. It was then that Marley decided to nod toward the leader of the town and say “Good morning, Willum.” Somehow, Marley had developed nicknames for a lot of the townspeople, even if they weren’t close friends.

“I see you left the town to vote on whether the Lakes should stay..” She said quietly, trying to make some kind of conversation, “are you sure that’s a good idea?” The majority of the town was of the first generation, growing old with tradition and security in mind. They were the kind of people who didn’t care if the newcomers were in real need. Marley was only petitioning with Will for Hannah and Jack’s sake. She could care less about what happened to Peter. Or at least that’s what she kept telling herself.

Almost as if on cue, the two love birds approached the cafe. Marley smiled toward the two of them, but had no way of welcoming them into the conversations that were taking place. Without another words she stuffed the rest of her pastry into her mouth. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to speak with them, she just knew that Jack thought her a fool. It was just better if she let Jack do his thing. If Marley tried to help he would probably just get frustrated. Jack liked to do things himself, and Marley assumed that they were here to speak with William.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Eleanor Isis Roden Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Hannah felt a small smile play on her lips as she thought about Eleanor's observance of her. As she and Jack made their way towards town, hand in hand, fingers laced together, her thoughts turned to the way Eleanor had cradled her baby in her arms. The gesture was easy and comfortable. Of course, it was loving and she clearly treasured her daughter, but there was no fear to it, and no concept that her child's life might be ripped from her at any moment. Eleanor had fallen pregnant young, and almost certainly by mistake. Yet it had happened for her instantly, while Hannah had struggled to conceive for months. And when it finally did happen, she'd lost two babies, one after the other. Two babies she'd desperately wanted. And now she felt brutally close to losing this one. How was it that Eleanor got to have a baby she didn't even want without any complications while Hannah struggled with heartbreak after heartbreak? The world was so unfair. The second the thought had crossed her mind though, Hannah felt a pang of guilt overwhelm her. Her own emotions, intensified by hormones and the physical and mental strain she was currently under caused tears to spring into her eyes. She turned her head away from Jack so he couldn't see in a clear indication that she didn't want to talk. She didn't feel like sharing this particular thought with him. Eleanor adored Lily-Mae and she would be devastated if anything happened to her. Hannah should be finding an affinity with the woman over her own struggles with motherhood, even if they were not of the same nature as Hannah's, rather than being jealous of her.

By the time they had nearly reached town, Hannah had composed herself and felt she could enter and present a good front, the way she needed to. Just as they reached town, Hannah saw a man and woman leaving the cafe, the man's arm slug loosely round the woman's shoulders. As they passed by them, Hannah saw the woman look both she and Jack up and down once with a particularly disdainful, hostile gaze. To which, Hannah offered a nervous smile, although she was unsure it had helped in any way. It took Hannah a couple of seconds to recognise the woman as the daughter of the founder, someone who'd show particular dislike for them since their arrival. From the back of her mind, Hannah recalled her name to be May-something. Maya? May? Macie? No... Maisy. That was it. The man beside her was the brother of the town leader, though Hannah wasn't sure she'd been formally introduced to him. He seemed too distracted with whatever he was saying to the woman to pay any real attention to them.

As they got closer to the scene, Hannah felt Jack gently squeeze her hand in a comforting gesture. She squeezed his back, to give reassurance that everything would be alright. She quickly took in the scene before her, noting the town leader, Will, sat talking with another man Hannah hadn't seen much of since she'd arrived, though she thought he was one of the people responsible for the security of the town. A blonde girl, who Hannah hadn't really spoken to, although thought seemed remarkably friendly for this town, was stood over them, collecting dishes. Hannah's eyes then fell on Marley, who was leant in, talking to William. Hannah gave her a friendly smile, glad to see someone familiar here.

Jack approached the table people were sat around, offering up a friendly, “Good morning.” Hannah stood close beside him, her grip on his hand tightening. She slipped her other hand to right underside of her swollen stomach, rubbing it gently in an effort to emphasise to everyone just why she needed to be there. Not that it wasn't instantly obvious, the moment they'd entered the cafe.

"Hi," Hannah added, her tone less bold than Jack's, holding more reservation and shyness, as if she was just testing the water. She knew she had to make a good impression on these people, and what she did and said now would be vital to the outcome of the situation. Although, frankly, based on how friendly most of the older members of this town had been to her so far, Hannah just prayed she delivered before the vote in a week, as she was certain they would throw her out. And though she didn't fancy their prospects out there with a newborn baby, she knew it was the actual birth she almost certainly wouldn't survive without this town.

Despite the fact that almost everyone else was sitting down, Hannah made no movement to do so. Though she desperately needed to sit down and take the weight of her slim frame, she didn't dare take a seat, for fear of offending the townspeople and making them feel as though she was intruding. She simply hoped someone would be kind enough to think she might be struggling and offer her one.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Eleanor Isis Roden Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: Peter Cross Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Sophia gave him a wonderful smile back, which made Will feel warm inside. "Thank you, freshly backed as always!" she replied enthusiastically. Her warmth, openness, and positivity were contagious. She was always this way, and it was one of the reasons he had so easily fallen in love with her, and why he still loved being around her today Of course his love had never stopped, but that was besides the point. Every time he saw her, he had the urge to spill all of his feelings for her. He always held back, however, because he knew how much hurt the both of them had gone through the first time. And he had no doubt in his mind that she would reject him pursuing her again. She wouldn't want to risk getting hurt again. And he really couldn't blame her.

Will's thoughts got sidetracked - thankfully - by Aaron getting up to walk over and pick up the fallen chair Wes had toppled over. "What a nice guy," Aaron commented, fixing the chair upright once more. Will wished he could deny Aaron's claim, after all Wes was his brother, yet he wasn't particularly nice, so he couldn't say the comment was untrue.

"Good morning, Willum." He turned his eyes to look upon Marley, who had addressed him. Even though she had left the protection of Dust, there was something about her that was truly endearing, and Will couldn't dislike her. Not that he wanted to, of course. "I see you left the town to vote on whether the Lakes should stay..” she began, almost in a whisper. This is what he had been afraid of. Having to discuss the situation of the newcomers before he was ready. This was why he had wanted to walk and talk with Aaron before the rest of the town. But he had insisted on breakfast at this cafe first. Marley continued on. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” He thought on the words, wanting to give the right answer.

"Well, Marley, I may be the leader, but this is everyone's town, so I figured the right decision wa-" His sentence was broken up by a new voice entering the conversation. "Good morning." That was Jack speaking, the so-called leader of the newcomers to town. He seemed to be the most in control and level headed of the group. Will was sure a conversation with Jack was going to happen at some point within the next week. He looked strong, and confident. His wife Hannah, however, didn't seem as comfortable. She held on to him with an iron grip and seemed to protect her swollen belly with her other hand. Just looking at her, and how close she was to giving birth, gave Will a pang of sympathy. "Hi," she muttered quietly, obviously not feeling as if she belonged in the group.

Will began to feel slightly overwhelmed. He had too many thoughts banging around inside his head. He really needed to sort through them all before this conversation took place. He stood up, moving away from the table. "Good morning to both of you," he said to the Lakes, a pleasant smile on his face. Even if he wasn't sure about the newcomers, he had to show them kindness and respect as the leader. "Hannah, you should sit down. You can have my chair, I need to be heading out anyway." He moved a little farther away, but gestured to the chair he had just left empty. "It's customary that I walk the perimeter of Dust every morning," he explained, not wanting them to think their presence had made him suddenly choose to depart.

He turned his attention to the beautiful Sophia once again. "Thank you so much for breakfast," he said quickly before turning and leaving the others. After he had gotten away from them, he felt it was easier to breathe. He hated not being prepared, and tended to always pre-think about every question he could be asked. He didn't like being caught off guard, and that was precisely why he took his perimeter walk every morning. He was able to think about the day, and sort every single thought in his head. Just seeing Hannah made him sad. If the vote didn't go the newcomers way, everyone who wanted them to stay would blame Will himself. They wold be upset he hadn't just made the decision for them to stay. And he honestly didn't know how he was going to live with the fact that he was possibly killing to human beings by sending the three back out into the desert. He was set into tradition, of course, but sending a young woman and her baby out to die didn't seem right to him either. Yet he couldn't find a middle ground either.

Will reached up to rub his temples. He could feel a headache beginning to form. He was just now reaching the tiny shack on the outskirts of Dust, where Jack, Hannah, and Peter were living. And strangely enough, there was Eleanor at their front door. Talking to Peter, the one William was most worried about. He seemed untrustworthy. The two seemed to be having a conversation, and Will made a mental note to ask her about it at a later time. For now, he walked past the shack to the perimeter of Dust. He began to walk parallel to it, attempting to organize all of his thoughts into something intelligible.

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Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Jack was not expected the townsfolk to be the least bit welcoming, when both he and his wife were offered seats at the cafe table a sudden feeling of ease came over him. However distant and dismissive William’s walk away was, Jack still appreciated it. Perhaps it was only the older folks they should be wary of. After all, most everyone that was at the cafe was young, full of life, and as far as he could tell, level headed.

A simple nod was thrown to Will before he marched away. Jack did not fully understand William’s responsibilities, but he had no doubt that they were stressful, especially now. Perhaps later he would catch up with the man to have a discussion. Not a discussion about his party’s staying, but something that would stir genuine interest and friendship. Jack supposed this was the best way to get what he wanted; become friends with or at least liked by as many people as he could.

“Thank you,” Jack said toward the guard, his name was escaping him. Jack slid a chair next to his wife then planted himself in it. His posture was neither proper or otherwise. He remained polite though, with erect posture and a pleasant facial expression. “Uh.. Aaron is it?”

Jack was charismatic is a television kind of way. He looked and acted presentable, he was charming without effort, and could answer questions with nice language and pose. He was exceptionally well trained for a scrapper. Or so he had been told. However, he lacked conversation starters, especially with people he knew nothing about. He had no idea what kind of lives they led here. What events were held in town, if any, and what the people were interested in.

He had only heard slight rumors about people when walking through town, but other than that his information was limited. Finally something came to him. “You don’t strike me as a townsman.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: William Hodge
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Suddenly, the leader of the town stood up and moved away from the table. "Good morning to both of you,” he greeted them, his smile genuine.

Hannah smiled back shyly, hand still firmly in her husband’s, where she felt safe.

"Hannah, you should sit down. You can have my chair, I need to be heading out anyway."

“I-“ Hannah began, instantly panicking that he was only leaving because of their arrival. If the leader of the town hated them so much that he couldn’t even bear to be in their presence for more than ten seconds, it did not bode well for the longevity of their stay in Dust.

But, almost as if he read her worries from her mind, William told her, "It's customary that I walk the perimeter of Dust every morning.” Then he turned to Sophia and thanked her before taking his leave. As he made his way away from the scene, Hannah saw her husband throw him a nod of thanks.

Hannah decided to take the town’s offer of hospitality and sit down in the now vacated seat. It was only polite. And, besides, between the walk to town, carrying much more weight than she was used to, and the way the baby was now moving inside her, she could no longer bear to stand.

"Why don't you pull up a chair too, Jack?" the town guard offered to her husband. At his suggestion, Hannah felt some of the tension she hadn’t even realised was in her body dissipate. "How did the town get to be so... wrong?" Aaron asked out loud.

”Thank you,” her husband told Aaron, taking a seat next to her. Hannah immediately reached for his hand under the table once more, that she’d been forced to let go of in order to sit down. Her grip wasn’t as tight as before, but she still wanted the physical reassurance that he was there.

“Uh… Aaron is it?” Jack asked. “You don’t strike me as a townsman.”

Hannah decided not to say anything. She didn’t want to interrupt Jack’s bid to achieve favour within the town. Instead, she turned to Marley, who she’d found herself sitting beside. The girl had just finished a pastry and had a glass of lemonade stood on the table in front of her. The sight of the food reminded Hannah she hadn’t had breakfast that morning. Although, strangely, she didn’t really feel hungry. In fact, she felt a bit sick; with nerves, she figured. Hannah hadn’t really spoken with Marley much since their arrival, and as one of the people she was already familiar with, Hannah was more than keen to make sure she had Marley’s support.

“Hey, Marley,” she greeted her friend with a smile, leaning against the table.