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Sophia Hope

"I suppose destiny sees something different for me."

0 · 456 views · located in Modern Wild West

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

Description





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Name: Sophia Hope I’ve always thought it was a cute name.
Role: Female 4
Age: Twenty Two Apparently I don’t look quite that old, though trust me, I feel old.
Occupation:
She had her own little bakery/cafe I find it so amazing, finally I can show my own little recipes to the people of Dust.


Likes:
+ Flower arranging, using small and colourful flowers to bright up an area is always something she loves to do. I mean, it just brightens up a place pretty darn quickly.
+ Making up recipes and creating new and unusual ways of making traditional foods. This is probably one of the best things, even though she prefers baking than anything else. After all, my cafe must be stocked up with new delicious goodies!
+ Reading, anything really. She was known as the reading nerd when she was younger, reading up to 10 books a week. Though she has no specific genre that she likes, she secretly has a love for romance and fairytales. Ever since she was a little girl, she one day hoped that she would one day find her own prince and have her own ‘happily ever after.’ I’m a secret dreamer *sighs*

Dislikes:
- Loud and arrogant people, those who are full of themselves and vain, only see one way and never look at other people due to a lack of class or status. Judging people, without even knowing them on a whole. Pretty self explanatory to be honest.
-Social events and such that considers her having to be bright and open, is not a fan of parties and attention grabbing scenes that can make her uncomfortable. Though I can put on a show to please everyone, just secretly not a big fan.
- The future. Or thinking about the future, this scares her and is a no go topic that even the closet of friends can never bring up in a conversation. This is probably due to her lack of certainty and her current life situation. I can’t even think about that...
- The dark, or to be more specific, being alone in the dark. It’s not childish!
- People that have too much authority, or people with authority that abuse their power. Also, they tend to make her feel nervous. They are just more likely to abuse their power.
- Crowded places, it makes her feel overwhelmed and claustrophobic.
I won’t be able to breathe.

Fears:

- Achluophobia, Fear of darkness.
- Aichmophobia, Fear of needles or pointed objects.
- Monophobia, fear of being alone.

Dreams
~ Finding the ‘one’ Every little girl wants that, but I suppose I’ve always felt the need to have that special person besides me, to love me. Though this doesn’t seem that possible at the moment, I can always dream.

Personality: Sophia is very much her own person, as someone who has always been quite motherly around those around her, she has a tendency to be too kind at time which can be mistaken as naive. She is a kind soul, and likes to give people the benefit of the doubt. Though her sweet natured personality is somewhat of a way to show her innocence, she’ll quickly slip into the background and become ‘invisible’ due to her such colourless attitude. As one who believes that if positive and caring enough, life may give you a treat, it’s fair to say that this girl hasn’t yet grown up quite as quickly has others around her has hoped.
Sophia is a cheerful person, and cannot stand to see someone cry or appear uncomfortable, because that will make her feel uncertain and uncomfortable as well. Thus, she tries to constantly keep up the spirits of all with her optimistic, nature and a fixed smile. She has concerns of her own, of course, fears and worries, but prefers not to think about them, favouring turning the attention towards others instead. Although she is quite honest and blunt at times, she much rather be tell the truth than keep up with lies, though this doesn’t mean she is a saint and may lie to others to show herself as someone who is happier than she really is.
She’s shy and worried to approach people, in fear of rejection. But at the same time, she yearns for human contact and to form a connection with someone. She needs others to survive; her entire existence depends on them. Acceptance is the key, and she’ll do anything to get and keep it if she can. Sophia holds those she clings onto high on a pedestal, thinking they can do no wrong, and as long as she follows their desires, she’ll be alright. She’d go to hell and back in compliance with their wishes, and is just about the most loyal friend you could dream of having at your side. Even if she doesn’t agree with what’s happening, she’ll go along with it for the sake of keeping others happy, and never doubts the decision of her supporter.

However, this being said, it seems that her smile these days is been much brighter...much more fake around everyone due to her lack of love. Once a little girl who dreamed of finding love and living ‘happily ever after.’ This dream doesn’t seem to be happening and quickly seems to be showing it hidden cracks. Nonetheless, she shows her kindness and gentle compassion but in secret seems to be displaying rather sad and negative traits, as one who is always perfect on the outside; it seems that she is losing control of herself and her emotions day by day.

Background: Sophia was born on the night of the 1st January, marking the new year for her parents with a bit of a surprise, after all, she was a little ‘miracle’ child. After years and years of trying to conceive a child, Sophia was quite a happy surprise to her mother Arina and her father Cedric. Though the couple never had another child, they put all their love and attention to their one and only.

The little blonde girl was brought up in a loving and caring household where she saw the love between her parents every day. Her father never stop being a romantic, always giving flowers and massages, making sure her mother was always happy and walked on the side where the road and the pavement meant, he was a true softie and thus fuelled the girl’s dream to find ‘the one’ for her which could show the love that she used to see every day.
Though the family’s income was quite low and it meant that sometime they didn’t even have enough money to keep them warm, they stuck together, endlessly singing songs, making up stories and watching the stars together at night.

Not only did Sophia have a loving childhood, she also become independent quickly, trying to stabilize her family’s financial situation more by doing odd jobs for little money. Her passion for cooking truly came through as she entered small competitions at the fair like best cakes or sometimes selling her own sweet treats. It finally came across that the young girl passion to find love and keep those around her happy shortly after her mother died where she instantly become the mother or the women of the house, keeping her father at bay and trying to do everything herself, after all, she would do anything for her father.
As the situation became tighter, she tried everything to keep positive, and so her happy nature never seemed to take a dip even after the death of her father did she only cry in secret, in private did she show her true emotions before putting a bright smile to those around her. But because of this she become one of the brighter people in Dust, continually bringing positivity.

It was going to be her happily ever after when she fell hard for [Male 1], everything was set in her mind, the wedding was to be perfect and finally could she just rest and not work so hard. However, it became a nightmare instead of a dream and soon they broke up. But this didn’t stop her trying to fulfil her dream and soon [Male 2] came along, and she thought she would be happy loving him, maybe fate had tested her enough, but as things didn’t work out, her dreams finally shattered, and though she fixed it, there are still hidden cracks everywhere.
Although Sophia seems happy and content, her search for love as finally ended in a way that she never expected at first, the love ending she wished for was now next to impossible and her parents were a rare example of true love.






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So begins...

Sophia Hope's Story

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Sophia yawned quietly as she popped her head out of the main door to her cafe; it was a slow day, though she had known this and so should have really had a lie in, those extra hours of sleep would do her good, but the young woman simply released a soft sigh before sitting down on one of the small chairs at the front. Leaning against the chair, she wriggled a little for her body to become used to the strong stature before finally settling down, her hands resting on her thighs.

Blinking under her large lashes, her eyes skimmed the surroundings. Though Dust was a very quiet and deserted town, most of the time there would be some people around, some sort of noise...at least in the distance. But today was something else; it was still morning, yes, very early indeed, yet seeing no one in sight left her with a slightly calm feeling. Though she had always secretly been a very longing person, who craves human communication or at least interaction, she still by some means allows herself to have alone time.

Preventing a yawn from escaping, she wondered how long it would be before everyone was up or at least about. After all, she had always opened the small cafe early for breakfast, making fresh breads and pastries, everything really. All hand made with extra care. Looking down at her painted fingernails, she began to mindlessly hum to herself, trying to keep her mind for wavering. Perhaps something new will be brought today in Dust. Something exciting or unpredictable, although a big part of her dismissed the silly idea.

The humid breeze strengthened a little only to die back down again, strands of her blonde locks escaped onto her eyes. Carelessly she blew on the wisps of hair before giving up. Sophia was always trying to think positively, in rare occasions did she allow her negative feelings to break out from her mind, there wasn’t a time when she wasn’t smiling and so it almost became second nature to the girl. But these days she felt the hop in her step vanish, the smile a little too bright, the sleeps a little rough. Not that anyone knew the rough time she was having. And no one will she thought to herself, smiling slightly.

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Maisy turned over in her bed, eyelids gradually fluttering open as she awoke. Her bed was probably one of the most comfortable in Dust, and a double. Then again, it should be. It had been shared by her parents before her; the founding family. And the founding family deserved only the very best. When the rest of her family gradually departed, people suggested to her, some more subtly than others, she could give the house up. There was Jessica Harston, who’d become a mother at just seventeen, and now she had four children under the age of ten. She’d recently remarried, after the death of her first husband, and the man she was with now had two children of his own. The Harston’s house wasn’t small, but there were three children to a room and Jessica and her husband slept in an alcove connected to the sitting room. Maisy’s house had three bedrooms, one with a double bed. It had a sizeable sitting room, kitchen and two bathrooms. It was no mansion, but it was by far the best and largest house in the village. Yet she lived there, all alone, with much more space than she needed. She knew she could give it up. But, it was her family home. All her memories were here. And what if, one day, she had a family of her own? She was sure Jessica Harston wouldn’t give the house back to Maisy when she needed it.

Maisy sat up in bed, allowing her legs to hang over the edge of the mattress so they just brushed the floor. She glanced towards the window to see light creeping round the corners of the curtains. It was the kind of bright, fresh light that told Maisy it was still very early in the morning. She stood up, making her way over to the window and gently pulling back the curtains. The room was flooded with pale light and Maisy gazed out across beyond Dust, out across the sandy plain to where the sun was just coming up in the distance. It was at this time, Maisy thought, that the new world looked the prettiest. She loved sunrise. Often, she’d get up early and just sit outside, watching the sun slide up from under the horizon, symbolising the start of a new day. The temperature first thing in the morning was perfect. By midday the village would be basked in scorching sunlight and it would be far too hot to do anything useful, but in the morning while the sun was just coming up and a light breeze blew gently through, it was beautiful.

Maisy washed her face and brushed her hair out with a small, makeshift comb her father had made for her out of materials he found lying around. Then, she slipped into a sweet little summery dress she had just finished making for herself a few weeks before and put some pale, red shoes on her feet. Maisy didn’t spend much time on her appearance and she wasn’t especially vain. She didn’t need to look nice when her reputation spoke for itself.

She opened the door to her house, allowing the light sunshine to bask down on her tanned skin. It really was beautiful. She closed the door of her house behind her, but didn’t lock it. None of the houses here had locks; it was a policy of her father’s when he first set up the town. He was trying to build a community based on trust and goodwill. You couldn’t do that if people lived behind locked doors.

Maisy followed the path through town, simply enjoying the morning, without a particular destination in mind. Her gaze flicked towards the distance, beyond the town lines. Her expression darkened slightly at the sight of Aaron Sullivan, making his way back towards town. He’d left town about two days ago, and had slept out there. Maisy strongly disapproved of people leaving town, and especially sleeping out there. How could they possibly keep their town safe when people came and went as they pleased? Besides, Aaron was meant to be the town guard. How could he guard the town if he was off, roaming around the wilderness? Every time he left, he put the town in danger from the disease, strangers and intruders. William Hodge must be stupid to let him do that; then again, he’s not exactly a proper leader, she told herself bitterly.

Her gaze skimmed past Aaron, on to the tiny, broken house that stood a little way from the rest of the town, almost over the town lines. Maisy had been saying for years that they should take the house down and rebuild something else in its place. It was a horrible little home, built poorly with the worst materials, not even big enough for one person to exist in. No member of Dust would live there, and it was hardly fit to be a home to anyone. However, five days ago the horrible shanty had finally come into its own, when a small group of rag-tag travellers had arrived, begging to stay in town. There were two men and a heavily pregnant woman, contesting that if they didn’t stay, she’d die. Maisy had been completely against letting them stay. She wasn’t cruel, and of course she felt pity for them. But this was their town, and they had to protect it from outsiders. If they let some people in, more would arrive, and soon their town would be overrun and destroyed. And how could they know that they wasn’t all some big ploy to get inside the town? And once they were in, they could take everything, kill everyone and destroy their tiny slice of safety in this cruel, new world. Maisy’s father would never have wanted that, and she had to protect what he had started, no matter the cost. If it had been up to her, she would’ve turned them away immediately and sent them on their way. But some of the town’s people took pity and wanted to let them stay, and so the people had been given refuge in the tiny shanty on the edge of town. The people of Dust were due to make their decision in a week from now, and Maisy knew exactly which way her vote would go.

As she made her way through town, she spotted Sophia Hope sat outside her café, smiling into the sun. Maisy approached her, sitting down on one of the small chairs next to Sophia’s. She gave the girl a smile as a greeting. Sophia was one of the few girls in Dust Maisy didn’t have a problem with. She was fairly quiet, sweet girl without very strong opinions, which suited Maisy just fine. Though Maisy highly doubted Sophia saw her as a friend, Maisy liked the girl and would count her as one of her friends, even if the feelings weren’t reciprocated.

“Can I have a pastry, please?” Maisy asked, her tone was polite and respectful, yet still held her air of superiority that she carried with her. “One of the ones with raisins. They were Daddy’s favourite, you know.”

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Sophia closed her eyes for a moment, these days silence seemed something she avoided, trying to do everything in her power to never leave herself alone in only her thoughts. It seemed that once she began thinking, she truly realized whole sad she was. And thus it fuelled herself to push harder, keeping every little negative attitude deep at the back of her mind. Perhaps it would be better for her to be alone for a while, after all, she never really grew up alone, her parents would always be with her as a child, and once they had died, her friends replaced them. A never ending cycle of human interaction. Though it was safe to say she craved attention, but this didn’t mean she was attention seeking, no, it was more that she needed human communication, couldn’t be by herself for very long and feared the silence as if it could kill her.

As her eyes remained closed, she leaned back so her head was resting on the top of the chair. Her blonde hair was messily gathered to the front, blowing against the humid air. How she missed her parents, the days were Dust filled with people, or at least more than was it is now. She could remember her mother’s gentle smile when she would bake crotons, pretending not to notice many of them go missing before they reached the dinner table. Her father’s never ending singing; coming home every day with a fresh bunches of flowers, always something different. Even when they were left together while she slept upstairs, the house was never truthfully silent. It seemed that the bubble of love never popped, not even when she watched her parents slowly pass away.

A small sigh escaped through her mouth. It had been hard once her mother had died, even though her father never showed it, she knew that he was silently in pain. Although he was classed as dying by a heart attack, she secretly knew it was due to his broken heart and somehow, she didn’t feel upset to see him go. “He’s with mama...” She whispered gently to herself.
Of course it was true that Sophia had always wished for a little sibling, it didn’t matter if it was a brother or a sister. Just a little baby would of made her happy. But her parents weren’t financially stable, and just one daughter was hard enough. Even now does she wonder what it may be like, to have someone younger than her, would they be trouble? Hard to control? Or maybe even a little bundle of joy like her parents believed she was.

It was only when she opened her eyes that she realized that what she was thinking about was the past. And now she should be concentrating on her future. Not even with someone to share it with... She thought to herself desolately.
Soon her small frown was replaced with a larger smile; she sat up straight and playfully flicked herself as to say ‘cheer up love’ before looking around. From the distance she saw a figure slowly approaching, when the person was close enough, she smiled gently and recognized that it was Maisy. The brunette returned the smile and took a place next to her. Maisy was someone who she looked up to, after all, she had a large job and as someone who was able to do everything her father did, she was very strong.
”Good morning!” Sophia exclaimed happily.

“Can I have a pastry, please?”As she nodded, she stood up, stretching her legs slightly as she did.

“One of the ones with raisins. They were Daddy’s favourite, you know.” Smiling at the thought, she headed into the cafe, but before she did she grinned, ”He used to always have them for breakfast, couldn’t keep his hands away from them!”
Walking inside, she smelled deeply, the fresh sent of bread fragranced through the air as she strolled to the main kitchen door were she kept the newly baked pastries to keep them warm, she pulled out a tray, using tongs, she gently picked up a large pastry, the ones with the raisins and settled them onto a delicate plate. She wondered if Maisy would like something to drink, and as it was quite hot out, she pulled out a fresh mug of ice cold lemonade, freshly squeezed of course before walking outside and placing everything down, she motioned towards the lemonade as she poured a glass.

”How are the travellers doing?” She asked kindly, she was speculating whether she should bring in some of her freshly baked to them, she knew the female was heavily pregnant, and perhaps some tea would be good. After all, she had a tea for everything, including soothing a pregnant woman.

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Wesley's eyes opened slowly, and he cringed at the light. It was way too early. He brought his arm up to shield his eyes from the light, and it brushed the skin of someone else. For a moment, his heart skipped a beat, wondering who was in his bed. He looked at the ceiling and saw the beams, which looked way more rotted than normal. He looked to his right, and wondered where the hell his dresser was. Then his brain finally woke up. He shifted his attention to the left and saw none other than Miss Cheyenne Houston wrapped up in the sheets. He grinned and let himself bask in the glory for one minute. She had been playing cat and mouse with him for months, but last night she just couldn't resist his charm any longer, and he had ended up at her place. Oh what a night it had been.

Except it was morning now. "Shit!" he whispered, instantly bolting upright in bed. He had just broken his number one rule. Never sleep over. There was no way he could let her wake up and find him here, or she would think this was way more than it actually was. That he had feelings for her, which was just completely ridiculous. Feelings and love were two words that were most certainly not in his dictionary. He was extremely careful as he scooted out of bed, trying his hardest not to disturb her. He successfully made it out of bed, and quickly scrambled to gather his clothes that were scattered across the entire room. He didn't even bother trying to get dressed in the room with sleeping beauty, and walked out of the bedroom and into the hall. He found the bathroom and quietly shut the door. He threw his clothes on the ground and focused his stare into the mirror. His hair was extremely disgruntled, but the look suited him. He flexed his muscles, smiling at himself. It was no wonder most of the women couldn't keep their hands off of him.

"Wes?" A female voice called for him from the hallway, and he knew Cheyenne had woken up. That kicked him into high gear, and he dressed in his simple white tank top and black jeans within seconds. He didn't even bother putting his shoes on his feet. The bathroom thankfully had a window and he found himself throwing it open and hopping out of it. He could only imagine what people would think if they saw him. Actually, he knew exactly what they would think, and their thoughts would be spot on. He had a reputation around the town; everyone knew how he was. He sprinted away from the small house, darting in between buildings so she couldn't spot him from her windows. Only after a couple blocks did he stop and finally put his boots on, since the sand was rather hot on his bare feet.

Now he had to begin the trek across town back to his little home, which would take him through the center of Dust and all the shops. It still wasn't too hot outside, so he figured he would take it slowly and enjoy the day before it was unbearable. There wasn't too much activity, as most of the townspeople still were in their beds. It's where he wished he was right now.

As he walked, he hoped he wouldn't see the one person that would ruin his entire day. His brother. As the self-proclaimed town leader, he was normally up early walking the streets and making sure Dust was safe. The two brothers avoided each other as much as possible, Wes trying a little harder than Will. He normally stuck to the saloon, which Will refused to enter. And his nights were almost always with a woman, either at his house or hers. Their lives were so vastly different, that it was practically impossible for them to even run into each other. Wes preferred it that way.

He had made it to the center of Dust, and finally saw his first two townspeople of the day. And what a pair they were. First there was Sophia, who Wes had been close to a while back. She was what had caused him and Will's relationship to crack and break into a million pieces. Of course, he had stolen Sophia away from Will while they were engaged, but that was only a small detail. She was someone that Wes respected, and he generally enjoyed being in her company. She was probably the one female he had no interest in sleeping with - anymore, that is - so they could actually be friends.

Second there was Miss Maisy Cartwright, the one person in town who might just be more hated than he was. That's what made them such a great pair. Most of the townspeople had rejoiced when Will had stepped up and took the role of leader of the town. That meant everyone except Wes and Maisy. Her morals made her unattainable to him, and that just drew him in more. He found her fascinating, even though sometimes she really got on his nerves. Way less than every other girl in this town, however.

Wes debated walking by, but just couldn't resist sitting down with the pair. Not to mention the pastries smelled absolutely delicious. So he strode over, and pulled a chair out at their table. "Good morning, ladies," he said, smiling at the both of them. "You both look absolutely lovely today." Yeah, he was turning up the charm. But he couldn't help it when he was around women. "Sophia, would mind getting me a cup of tea? It's a little earlier than I'm used to. And one of your pastries, they smell delicious." After she ran off, he turned to Maisy. "So, Miss Maisy, how are you this particularly early morning?"

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Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Sophie smiled at Maisy. She was always so cheerful, with this sunny smile painted across her features whenever Maisy saw her. In some ways, Maisy disproved of Sophia. She had been engaged to William, and, as much as Maisy hated William, how could someone walk away when they already had a ring on their finger? It just wasn't right, and completely contradicted Maisy's traditional beliefs. And then, to rub salt into the wound and condemn herself even further, sealing her fate as the town harlot, she fell into bed with the brother of the very man she'd been engaged to. The actions were unladylike and lacked the decorum Maisy thought proper for a young woman. Marriage was not just something you agreed to on a whim and, even though they weren't technically husband and wife yet, it was an unforgivable act Sophia had committed. But Sophia's meek, too eager to please attitude made it hard for Maisy to treat her with contempt, and so she was friendly to Sophia.

Sophia walked off towards the cafe, pausing as she reached the door to look back at Maisy. ”He used to always have them for breakfast, couldn’t keep his hands away from them!”

Maisy laughed softly, smiling sadly as she thought back to her father. He would be so disappointed over the way things had turned out. So disappointed.

Maisy waited patiently for a minute or two, before Sophia re-emerged from the cafe, holding a plate and a jug of lemonade with a glass. She set the plate down in front of Maisy before pouring a glass of lemonade, motioning to it.

"Lemonade? How nice of you. Thank you," Maisy told her politely, smiling. Maisy had been brought up, taught to always be sweet to everyone. She was taught good manners, and though she didn't always choose to use them, she was superficially charming to most people who hadn't offended her in the past.

”How are the travellers doing?” Sophia asked, her voice filled with genuine kindness.

"I wouldn't know," Maisy stiffened, eyes darkening. She lifted the pastry to her lips, taking a bite. "I keep away from them. You should too. They're bad news. The sooner they're gone, the better." Her tone held resolve. There was nothing that was going to change her mind about these intruders. They shouldn't be here. They were a danger to the town and anyone who sympathised with them was ridiculous.

Suddenly, out of no where, Wesley Hodge sauntered over, pulling out a chair beside Maisy and sitting down. A little close to her, for her comfort.

"Good morning, ladies," he said, his tone smooth and friendly. Wesley was another she, in some respects, disapproved of. His attitudes towards women and his disregard for traditional values were, frankly, inappropriate. However, he stood up to his brother, unlike most in this town, which was a quality Maisy very much respected. But, there was also something Maisy found irresistible about the man. His charm and that smile was difficult to ignore, whoever you were. But Maisy's father had taught her that sex before marriage was prohibited, and her father's wishes were simply something Maisy had to abide by. Wes was one of the few men in the town Maisy had any respect for though, and, somewhere, in the back of her mind, she wished he was the type to want a traditional relationship with her. She wanted to marry and have children, but there were few candidates in this town that Maisy would ever be interested in. And Wes was definitely not a marriage and a family kind of man.

"Good morning, Wes," Maisy replied, keeping her voice even, smiling at him.

Wes smiled at them both, "You both look absolutely lovely today." His tone was charming and Maisy sat perfectly still, trying not to let her expression give away any of her thoughts

"Thank you," she answered.

"Sophia, would mind getting me a cup of tea? It's a little earlier than I'm used to. And one of your pastries, they smell delicious." With that, he turned to Maisy. "So, Miss Maisy, how are you this particularly early morning?"

"I'm very well, thank you, Wes," she told him, raising her eyebrows slightly as a smile played on her lips. She tried to avoid smirking at him, attempting to keep her expression polite and unaffected by his charm. "Although, I would be better if we didn't have the threat of those intruders looming on our doorstep..." she told him, her tone sharpening with distaste, finding a grievance to complain about in order to divert her mind's attentions from Wes.

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Sophia smiled; she stayed standing up as she decided to leave the jug of lemonade with a few glasses out on the table, just in case. "Lemonade? How nice of you. Thank you," Shaking her head, as if to say, ‘No need to thank me,’ she looked back at Maisy once again.

Once she had asked the questions about the travellers, she could see Maisy stiffen. "I wouldn't know," about to say something, Maisy added to her point. "I keep away from them. You should too. They're bad news. The sooner they're gone, the better. Biting her tongue gently, she nodded, whispering incoherent words that seemed to make out ‘I see.’

She wondered what she would do, of course she knew that Maisy disliked them, but she felt sorry, an almost heart wrenching thought of a pregnant woman who could die. It seemed that the right thing to do was to help them, but of course she didn’t want to cause trouble. Perhaps she would simply give them some of her bakes, just for a sign of goodwill.

About to sit down, she stopped as she heard a familiar voice, "Good morning, ladies," blinking harshly, she tilted her head to see Wesley, and once she did see him, her heart dropped. She had gotten over him, -yes, she had- it was certain. Yet every time she saw him, she saw her mistakes, the heartbreak she caused his brother, and the failure of love she tried to gain. Even though she felt like this, it didn’t stop her from smiling back at Wes, and replying. “Morning.” She spoke happily; after all, they had been friends, -good friends- long after the incident.

"You both look absolutely lovely today." She felt herself roll her eyes playfully, there was Wes, back to his old charming ways, things have gotten back to normal then.

About to ask if he would like anything, he simply answered her question before she asked. "Sophia, would mind getting me a cup of tea? It's a little earlier than I'm used to. And one of your pastries, they smell delicious."

”Yes of course.” Sophia replied and without another moment of hesitation, she ran off into her cafe. Sighing gently, she walked into the back room, she took out the tongs and plucked a warm pastry out of the oven, something she was making last minute and gently placed it down onto a plate. She then walked behind the counter where she made her drinks, -tea, coffee and such- before settling down a hot batch of tea. As she placed everything on a tray, she balanced it gracefully and was about to walk out when she decided to stay for a bit, not wanting to intrude on Maisy’s and Wesley’s conversation that is.

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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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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."

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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: 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.

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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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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.

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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.

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.