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Wesley Hodge

"Hey good lookin'"

0 · 338 views · located in Modern Wild West

a character in “A Handful of Dust”, as played by Army.of.One

Description

Wesley Jarrod Hodge

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Name:
Wesley Hodge “Just call me Wes.”

Role:
Male 2

Age:
24

Occupation:
Works as a stablehand “When I feel like it…”

Likes:
+ Women “That’s a no brainer.”
+ Alcohol “It always leads to a good time.”
+ Horses “I wouldn’t work with them otherwise.”
+ Being the center of attention “And I normally am too.”
+ Competitions “What can I say, I like to win.”
+ Having fun “In any way that I can.”
+ Being dangerous “I have to impress the ladies somehow.”
+ Nighttime “I feel too exposed during the day.”
+ Running “It’s one of the few times a day I really get to myself. And it keeps me looking good.”
+ Being mysterious “No one really knows too much about me.”
+ Potatoes “Always been my favorite food. No competition.”
+ The Saloon “It has my two favorite things: women and booze.”
+ Maisy Cartwright “It’s like I hate her, but I love her…”

Dislikes:
+ Other strong personalities “I like to be the sole focus.”
+ Learning “Let’s face it, I’m not the brightest crayon in the box.”
+ Laziness “I’ve always got to have something to do.”
+ Getting too close to a girl “It always ends up badly.”
+ Talking about his feelings “I don’t like to expose my inner thoughts.”
+ Being made fun of “I’d rather be the one cracking the jokes.”
+ Shy people “They just can’t carry a conversation, it turns awkward fast.”
+ Seeing girls cry “Not because it tugs at my heartstrings, but because it is uncomfortable.”
+ Sweets “I’ve just never had a taste for them.”
+ Warm days “Cool weather feels so much nicer.”

Fears:
+ Everyone realizing he isn’t that great and losing his popularity.
+ A girl choosing his brother over him.
+ Scorpions. Those things are just gross. And deadly.
+ Having no one miss him when he dies.

Dreams
+ Out loud he would say it was to sleep with every girl in the entire town.
+ Deep down, he really wants to find a girl who accepts him for who he is, and doesn’t get tired of him. Someone that can’t live without him. He doesn’t really think it’s possible, though.
+ Owning his own stable one day, with tons of horses to groom, ride, and take care of.

Personality:
Everyone would describe Wes as a ladies’ man. And they would most certainly be right. He has gotten quite a reputation throughout the years, mostly for sleeping his way around the town, and he loves being known. He would rather be talked about than forgotten. He knows exactly when to turn on the charm, he can be extremely suave, and even be romantic. If he really tried, he could make some girl really happy, but it’s not a priority of his. He has never really been in a serious relationship, the closest thing ever being with Sophia Hope. After that, he doesn’t really desire to be in a relationship. At least that’s what he makes people believe. In truth, he wants to be loved just like everyone else. He wants to find a special someone who accepts him with all his flaws and chooses to stay with him.

Wes has no sense of family, and really despises his brother, the leader of the town, who everyone seems to look up to. He’s always felt inferior, even from childhood, and feels like if everyone had to choose one brother, they would choose Male 1. That’s why he always strives to make his brother’s life a living hell. It was even part of the reason he stole Sophia Hope away. Sure, he liked her too, but seeing the pain on his brother’s face was the sweetest part of all.

Everyone thinks Wes is a pretty simple man. No brains or complexity, just relying on his looks to get him what he wants. He uses that thinking to his advantage, becoming exactly what everyone thinks he is. If anyone really got to know him, they would be surprised just how deep and complex he actually is. He uses his runs every day to really think about things, like the future, the past, his plans, things he would never share with anyone out loud. He is actually a very hard working employee at the stables, mostly because he loves the horses, but it shows he can be determined and relied on as well.

Wes lives his life all about being wild and having fun. He brings a new life to the town that most people have lost. He has the ability to make people do things they normally wouldn’t do, and knows how to use persuasion when needed.

Background:
Wesley was born as the second child to some of the most helpful and cared about adults in the entire town of Dust. As a young boy, he had an extremely happy childhood, playing with the other kids in town and most often his older brother. His parents treated both boys with equal love and affection, and honestly Wes didn't have much to complain about. But as he got older, everything changed.

His parents began focusing more on his older brother, leaving him feeling alone and unwanted. Because of this shift of attention, his older brother became the voice of reason and fairness, developing him into a real leader. Wes became reckless and destructive, lashing out to try to draw some attention to him, but his efforts were futile. He spent more time with the law enforcement than with his actual family. He became the proclaimed 'bad boy' in town, and as it turned out he actually liked his new role.

When Wes was sixteen, a terrible sickness found its way into the rural city of Dusk, and it slowly took both of his parents lives, his father passing away only a month after his mother. By this point, his older brother was one of the oldest citizens, and because of his fairness, leadership skills, and likability, he became the leader of the town. Wes just kept his opposite point of view, and kept on being the boy that everyone loved and hated. As the years progressed, his scope widened from not just being reckless, but to sleeping around with many of the towns women. Some beds he frequented more than others, and he left many a broken heart behind him.

Soon, his brother had seemingly found the love of his life, and got engaged to a pretty lady named Sophia Hope. On the outside, the couple seemed blissfully happy. But Wes lived with his brother, so he was on the inside and knew exactly how imperfect things were. And, one night when things really escalated between the two, Wes put on his figurative armor and swept in to rescue Sophia. She fell for it, and ended up in his bed. Needless to say, his brother was furious, and kicked him out of their house. Wes got his own property, and casually dated Sophia for awhile, but he found he just couldn't get tied down. They didn't last too long, even though that was the longest relationship he had ever been in.

After that incident, many of the townspeople treated him differently. Not most of the women, which he was pleased about, but he got many more dirty stares from passersby. He spent most of his days in the saloon, drowning himself in alcohol, though strangely he didn't feel badly for what he had done. He became more reckless, taking frequent trips outside the city into the sands beyond. Presently, his life is mostly uneventful, except for the women and booze, and the only fun he has is what he creates himself.

So begins...

Wesley Hodge's Story

Characters Present

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?"

Characters Present

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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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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.

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: 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.

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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: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Maisy's cheeks burnt as she walked quickly away. She forced all thoughts from her mind, simply focusing on putting one foot in front of another. She didn't even know particularly where she was going, but anything was better than thinking. She was angry at herself. What a fool she'd just made of herself. How could she possibly expect people to see her as a valid leader if she couldn't even maintain a conversation with someone without running away. She hated to think what people were saying about her to each other now. And, even worse, what they were thinking. They must've seen right through her, into her thoughts. She was sure they knew how weak she was. The thoughts only made her feel more embarrassed, causing her face to flush even deeper than before,

But Maisy had no further time to punish herself, as she heard the sound of someone running up behind her. For a second, her heart froze in her chest. What if it was Wes, coming to tell her that he had spent his life making mistakes and that he no longer wanted to be the type of man who slept with everyone and anyone. That she was the only girl he wanted to be with, and she was worth all his trouble. She was worth giving up sex, until she accepted his proposal and married him. Maisy knew she had a tenancy to romanticise things, and that life wasn't the way her mind liked to pretend it was. In reality, Maisy was a dreamer. Her mind created fantasies from everything as it played out what could've happened. She was being stupid. Wes was joking. if she wasn't an easy job to bed, he would want nothing to do with her.

But as she saw a flash of short, blonde hair out of the corner of her eye, Maisy had no choice but to turn and look at who had come after her. If there was just a chance it was Wes... Suddenly, she felt and arm slip round her shoulder, muscular, the movement fluid, without unease or embarrassment. It was him. It was Wes.


"What's the rush, babe? 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." His tone was smooth and charming. There was no indication that he was nervous around her, but there was also nothing predatory about it that might suggest his motives to be completely impure,

"It Maisy, not babe," she corrected sarcastically, her reaction instinctively defensive.

She was all set to tell him she wouldn't lower herself to spending a night with a man like him and he must be stupid to think otherwise, but his use of the word 'date', made her own words catch in her throat, and suddenly, she couldn't say them at all. He was holding out in front of her something she'd never had before. She always envied those who received attention from men, especially considering most of the town's men probably hated her. But suddenly, Maisy's logical mind no longer controlled her actions or speech. Inside, all she could think of was the life she so desperately wanted for herself. She knew she had no chance of that with a man like him, but she couldn't bear to think she'd passed up an opportunity. She knew, later she would regret her weakness, but now, she couldn't stop herself.

"I never said I did have something more important to be doing..." she told him, her tone a little softer and more suggestive than she'd at all intended it to be. But the words had left her mouth now, and she couldn't take them back. All she could hope for was that Wes wouldn't notice. But, who was she kidding? This man was an expert in picking up every aspect of a woman's voice and demeanour in order to seduce them. She felt like a kitten, walking into the lion's den. She didn't stand a chance. She'd let Wesley get under her skin, and there was no way to go back.

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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: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Wes was delighted to see that Maisy didn't try to shrug his arm off of her shoulders, so he of course left it there. He even pulled her slightly closer, but not close enough to receive any of her wrath. They continued walking, their destination unknown, but Wes didn't really care. "It's Maisy, not babe," she corrected him, her tone snippy and defensive. He just smirked, wanting to chuckle, but he held it back. He was getting under her skin. "Excuse me, Miss Maisy," he said, emphasizing 'miss' and giving her some sarcasm of her own. "We'll keep it strictly professional from now on." He kept his tone serious, even allowing himself to sound slightly hurt, as if she had bruised his feelings. Did she really? No. It was typical Maisy. He was used to it. But he wasn't going to keep himself from pulling out all the tricks.

He wondered what exactly was going through Maisy's mind at that moment. Could she be playing him? Just to make him look like a fool? It didn't seem like something Maisy would do, but there were plenty of reasons for her to hate him. He quickly pushed that thought out of his mind. Maisy could be mean, but she was always straightforward. If she truly didn't want him to stay, she would bluntly tell him to his face.

If she wasn't thinking that, then what was she thinking? He knew her values, the vows of purity. Was she expecting him to do the same? Perhaps she was hoping he would change his... easy ways, and become as chaste as she was. He hadn't ever really thought about being in a relationship since it had ended with Sophia. Could he really be capable of it, for her? Become a normal gentleman, propose to her, and marry her? Even have a family with her?

He threw that thought out of an imaginary window. These were dangerous thoughts he was having. Thoughts that had never crossed his mind his entire life. What in the hell was Maisy doing to him? It was like all of his badness was fading away just being next to her. He wasn't exactly sure what was coming over him. Sure, him and Maisy had common ground -- hating his brother - but he had never imagined him actually going for her in a million years. She was too prim and proper, and he was too dirty. They'd talked to each other, had nice conversations about their similarities, but neither had ever seemed to have romantic feelings for the other. Was that what he was feeling? Romance?

And now that he thought about it even more, he never remembered seeing Maisy with a guy ever. Perhaps this was just the way it was meant to be. Something had caused him to get out of his chair and chase after her. And everyone knew that Wesley Hodge didn't chase after anybody. Women chased after him.

Even though he was most certainly a player, he wasn't planning on anything of that nature with her tonight. He would need to reassure her of that... eventually. He didn't want to ruin the special moment the two of them were now having.

"I never said I did have something more important to be doing..." she replied, her tone now softer and less vicious. It even sounded... dare he think it... suggestive? He most definitely had her now. At least for tonight, anyway. He removed his hand from around her shoulders, taking a few quick steps so he could turn in front of her and stop her in her path. He reached forward to grab both of her hands, and squeezed them gently. "So what are you going to say, Miss Maisy?" he asked, making sure to use her professional title of 'miss' in his question. He gave her a genuine smile. "Are you going to accept my offer of a date tonight?"

He didn't break eye contact with her, and stood his ground, still holding her hands.

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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: 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.

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Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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No sooner had the words left her lips did Wes suddenly remove his arm from around her shoulder. For a second, Maisy was worried. Had she said the wrong thing? Had he suddenly decided she wasn't worth the effort and given up on her. Maisy figured Wes was probably used to women falling about around him for even ten minutes with him. There were plenty of women in this town who wouldn't even let him finish his sentence before he'd asked. Maisy had always thought she was different. She was immune to Wes' charms and nothing would ever convince her that he was worth her time. But she wasn't. She was acting stupid around him, worrying if he liked her like all the other girls did.

Suddenly, Wes was stood in front of her, not next to her, and she was forced to stop where she was. Out of no where, he reached out and took both of her hands, squeezing them gently. Maisy stood still, unable to make some cutting remark or ask him what the hell he though he was doing.

"So what are you going to say, Miss Maisy?" he asked, using the title he'd previously given her. His expression was upturned in a genuine smile. Or, at least, she thought it was genuine. You could never be quite sure with Wes.

"Fine..." she said softly after a couple of seconds, her voice breathy. She had wanted her voice to come out sounded bored and disinterested, as though she were doing it as a favour for him and really, she'd rather not have to go. But instead, it came out sounding girlish and too keen.

He was still staring directly at her, hands in hers. The intensity of his gaze was startling to Maisy, especially coming from someone she didn't think even had any depth with which to muster intensity. Suddenly, Maisy was embarrassed at her show of weakness. She was Maisy Cartwright. She had been brought up to think for herself and value herself. She was strong and independent, and certainly not the type of women who fell over themselves to get a date with someone like Wes. His gaze was making her uncomfortable, and her cheeks flushed with evidence of it. Panicking slightly, she quickly pulled her hands away from him, folding her arms across her chest petulantly.

"But I'm not going to the saloon," she told him defensively, almost as if she was trying to make up for her lack of strength before. "I wouldn't go near that tasteless bar if you paid me," she said, her tone disparaging. "No. You can cook for me," she concluded, raising her eyebrows as if it were a challenge.

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Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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She was silent, and Wes didn't know exactly how to take it. Maisy had gone this long in his presence without completely blowing him off, and he hoped that trend would continue. He could only imagine what was going through her head, and as long as it wasn't an insult to throw at him, he could wait. If he was to guess, he figured she was just caught off guard. Men in the town of Dust didn't exactly throw themselves at Maisy's feet. With her superior attitude and self-entitlement, men normally completely avoided her. Wes, however, knew how to look past it. Hell, he slept with girls who had way more flaws than Maisy. And he had still slept with them.

Finally, she spoke. "Fine..." she responded, her voice extremely breathy. Something about that voice made Wes excited. She sounded like a young girl in love. And heck, she was still young, they both were, and she could potentially be falling for him... eventually. All in all, he was actually just very happy she had agreed to go on a real date with him. Thinking back, he couldn't remember the last time he had been on a date. He'd courted plenty of girls at the saloon, and gotten them back to his place, but he couldn't really call all those nights dates. They weren't more than one night, and he only had wanted one thing from each and every girl: sex. But with Maisy he wasn't seeking that, at least not tonight anyway. And even on future dates to come, if there were any in the future, he was sure he would get shot down.

Instantly, she pulled her hands away and folded them across her chest defiantly. Even though she was trying to look tough, Wes thought she just looked cute. Especially because her cheeks were flushed a rosy pink. He raised an eyebrow at her and smirked, wondering what was going on. "But I'm not going to the saloon," she finally said, although her words didn't match the strength she was trying to portray. "I wouldn't go near that tasteless bar if you paid me," He chuckled, putting his hands on his hips. "Oh come on Maise, you don't have to be like-" "No. You can cook for me," she interrupted him and raised her eyebrows, practically challenging him. His chuckle and light-hearted mood disappeared. His eyebrows narrowed as he stared at her.

She had just pulled the ball in her court, something he wasn't used to. Whenever he was dealing with women, he was always in charge. He should have expected this. She was completely different from everyone else in Dust. All of his tricks weren't going to work on her, and now he had nothing left for this situation. He felt off balance without the feeling of control. This was exactly what she wanted. He had a moment to look into the future, and saw that this would be a spot on example of how their relationship would be. A constant struggle for power. Neither of them would want the other to be in complete control. He didn't know how to feel about that.

Bringing himself back to the present, Wes thought about her proposal. No, that wasn't the right word. Demand. If he chose to fight with her about it, it could lead to her changing her mind and not going on a date with him at all. Really, his only choice was to agree. But he would get the ball back in his court. "Alright, cooking it is, Miss Maisy," he said, happiness coming over him once more. "But I suggest if you want something edible, we cook together." He chuckled, shaking his head slightly. He could still turn this into a date he'd prefer. Hell, Maisy would probably love ordering him around in the kitchen, and there were ways he could make it romantic. "One condition," he continued, smirking. "My place," he said, raising an eyebrow, this time challenging her.

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Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Maisy waited patiently for his answer, a smirk gracing her features as the morning sunlight beamed down on her, lighting up her face. She was quite pleased with herself, really. She'd managed to pull back the control that she usually held so close, but had briefly abandoned her. She was the one holding all the cards once more.

She watched Wes think before he replied, "Alright, cooking it is, Miss Maisy."

Maisy smiled triumphantly, glad for her victory. But Wes wasn't finished yet. "But I suggest if you want something edible, we cook together." Wes chuckled, shaking his head.

Maisy rolled her eyes, shaking own head. "Of course you wouldn't be able to cook," she said disapprovingly, but with humour to her tone. "Fine," she agreed curtly.

Besides, she was looking forward to telling him exactly what to do and chiding him for his mistakes. He was one of the most wanted men in the whole town of Dust, and she would spend tonight with him in the palm of her hand. She would remain perfectly in control, and there would be no opportunity for embarrassing slip ups like she had had in the cafe just a few minutes previously.

But Wes still continued, "One condition. My place."

Maisy froze. His eyes were on her, and eyebrow raised in a challenge, virtually mirroring her own previous expression. She wasn't stupid. She knew his reputation and she knew the relationship he had with most women. But she was Maisy Cartwright. She was in control. No one used her or persuaded her into anything she didn't want to do. Besides, she'd been brought up well by her father and she wasn't going to break her 'no sex before marriage' vow for Wesley Hodge, of all people. This was a challenge she could accept. He might have her in his house, but he would not lure her into his bed. She was not that kind of woman. And she was sure having her there was simply going to drive him mad, especially when he realised she wasn't as easily persuaded and bedded as the rest of the women he'd picked up before. She was too proper to tell him this in such simple terms, of course, but she would be sure to make it clear. Besides, at least he wouldn't dirty her beautiful kitchen with the mess he was more than likely going to make, based on how terrible a cook he probably was. If he wanted to marry her, she was certainly going to have to train him. And he sure had a lot to learn..., she thought disapprovingly.

But, despite having few objections to his proposal of 'his place', she couldn't just give in and let him think he had the upper hand. He had to know she was in charge, or he'd never get it.

She looked at him silently for at least ten seconds, as if she was merely considering his proposal and planning on simply dismissing it, rejecting him.

"Fine, but you can pick me up at my house," she countered. She moved a hand to her hip, watching him carefully, as if to warn him against challenging her again. Her expression stayed firm. She didn't allow herself to break into a smile or even shift uncomfortably.

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Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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"Of course you wouldn't be able to cook," she jested, rolling her eyes at him. She said it playfully, so he wasn't too insulted by her comment. He was a man who spent more time at the saloon and other women's houses than his own. Why in the hell would he need to know how to cook? It wasn't a trick that he kept up his sleeve, waiting to impress a woman. He had plenty of charm and charisma to get the job done without any tricks. "Fine," she agreed, keeping it short. Wes just liked to think that she wasn't pretending to be excited about their date.

When Maisy froze, Wes knew he had gotten under her skin once again. He was back in control of tonight, and she didn't like the rug being pulled out from under her. If she had any notions about this being her show, hopefully she was having second thoughts now. He'd let her win some battles, but no way would he let her win the war. She recovered quickly however, and stared at him silently. She seemed to be weighing the pros and cons in her mind, and he could sure guess what her number one negative would be. She'd be in his house and near his bed. He made a mental note to be a perfect gentleman on their date tonight. It would surprise her more than anything.

Finally, she broke her silence. "Fine, but you can pick me up at my house," she countered, placing her hand on her hip and looking at him defiantly.

The two of them together might not be the best pair. There may have been a reason they hadn't had very many conversations before today. Both of them were used to being in complete control, and there wasn't room in the relationship for both of them to wear the pants. Either way, he was going to see tonight through. If anything, it was most certainly going to be entertaining.

He held his hands up, as if in surrender, and chuckled. "Alright, alright, I'll pick you up," he said, shaking his head slightly. He leaned in a little closer to her. "I'll even be there at the exact time you want me to," he added with a wink and smile. "On time." He winked once more and then backed up once again. He would end their bickering here, at least for now. He had no doubts that they would be bickering and challenging each other the entire night. And most likely, if there was a second date, then too. He couldn't imagine Maisy backing down in any way, and it wasn't in his nature to be submissive to women. It definitely added some excitement to their conversation, though. He didn't know what was going to come out of her mouth next, and it was a nice change to girls giggling and twirling their hair around their finger. She had intelligence and spunk. He never would have realized he liked those characteristics in women before Maisy.

He stepped forward and grabbed her hand, pulling her along with him. "Well, we have some business to take care of then, Maisy," he said simply. He turned his head around to look into her eyes. "Miss Maisy, sorry," he said with a smirk before turning his head around to direct them to their location. He guided them through a few twists and turns before stopping that their final destination.

It was the local market. "I surely hope you weren't expecting me to buy food for tonight all on my own," he said, glancing over at her. He still hadn't let her hand go, and once again he pulled her forward and through the doors of the market. He stopped in front of the many aisles, feeling slightly overwhelmed. He only ever bought the necessities, and was extremely clueless of what was needed. He leaned in next to her ear and whispered, "I'll follow your lead."

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Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Maisy watched as Wes held his hands up, surrendering to her, gesture, although a joke, made her feel in control and proud that she had managed to get the town’s uncontrollable man under her control.

Wes shook his head and leant in closer to her. "Alright, alright, I'll pick you up. I'll even be there at the exact time you want me to." He paused. “On time,” he finished, winking at her.

“You better be,” she threatened bossily, raising her eyebrows at him.

At that moment, he took a step forward and grabbed her hand, pulling her along. “What?!” Maisy squealed, confused.

"Well, we have some business to take care of then, Maisy," he told her, although the answer was not going to suffice for her. He turned round, looking at her. "Miss Maisy, sorry.”

“Maisy’s fine,” she told him defiantly, fabricating ways in which he could be wrong, purely to try and regain some of control he’d taken from her by manhandling her. “It’s just ‘babe’ and other such names that I shan’t be responding to,” she said curtly.
He smirked, turning away and continuing towards his intended destination with her. They weaved through the town, passing other town members. As they passed, some gave them strange looks. For a moment, Maisy was puzzled by their reception. Then again, she realised, it probably was a pretty weird sight to see the town’s renowned player leading the town’s most uptight, conservative, self-righteous girl through the middle of town. They were about as strange as it got, in terms of couples. But Maisy didn’t allow herself to stop and mull over this. She couldn’t halt and think about the damage this was doing to her reputation, the closer it was pulling her to the edge of her morals. If she’d stopped, she might just realise what a huge mistake she was making and run immediately. So she simply didn’t stop.

The soon reached the local market. Wes glanced at her. "I surely hope you weren't expecting me to buy food for tonight all on my own."

Maisy shook her head, sighing. “Of course not…” she replied sarcastically.

Wes pulled her through the doors, halting in front of the aisles, a look of confusion painting his features. All of a sudden, he leant close to her and whispered, "I'll follow your lead."

His attempt at a moment of intimacy quickly dragged Maisy to her senses. Suddenly, she was hyperaware of how she could feel his breath against her face, the warmth of his body against hers, his hand in her hand. She flushed red, instantly, pulling her hand from his. She quickly scurried towards a box and grabbed a basket which she thrust into Wes’ arms.

“Right,” she told him, flustered, refusing to meet his gaze, “You can take this. Come on!”

She began to make her way down the aisles hurriedly. She was picking things up, turning them over, scrutinising them, before replacing them on the shelves.

“We’ll have spaghetti carbonara. I don’t think even you can mess that up,” she said accusingly. She began picking up ingredients and placing them in the basket, without even looking for Wesley’s approval, determined to be in charge.

In truth, Maisy had only picked carbonara because it was the dish she was most adept at making, and she wanted to be able to criticise Wes for doing it wrong, while being perfect herself. She’d learnt to make it very young, taught by her father. It was a relatively easy dish, and all the ingredients could be locally sourced, which was important when Dust was just starting up. The spaghetti could be made from just flour and water, and it was now sold at the market. The eggs, bacon and cheese were all sold by farmers, and you only needed garlic and pepper to flavour it.