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A Handful of Dust

Modern Wild West

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a part of A Handful of Dust, by supertoastgirl.

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supertoastgirl holds sovereignty over Modern Wild West, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Modern Wild West is a part of A Handful of Dust.

11 Characters Here

Wesley Hodge [22] "Hey good lookin'"
Maisy Cartwright [21] "I will protect what Daddy started."
Sophia Hope [19] "I suppose destiny sees something different for me."
Marley Larson [19] "I don't feel rejected, but I feel neglected."
Aaron "Sullivan" [16] "Try undertsanding something before accusing."
Jack Lake [15] "I world is closing in on me."
Hannah Lake [15] "Please, just hear us out..."
William Hodge [12] "I must do what is right."
Eleanor Isis Roden [7] "It's funny how my biggest mistake is the only thing I've ever done right."
Peter Cross [5] Don't waste my time.

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Characters Present

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.

Characters Present

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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sophia Hope Character Portrait: Marley Larson Character Portrait: Aaron "Sullivan" Character Portrait: Wesley Hodge Character Portrait: William Hodge Character Portrait: Maisy Cartwright
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Aaron "Sullivan"


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Aaron began walking up the steps, then like a bat out of hell, Maisy made her way out the cafe door and walking down the street, to which he stepped aside to let her go. Will then stepped inside as they both went to grab something to eat for breakfast.

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

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

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

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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.

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Character Portrait: Eleanor Isis Roden Character Portrait: Hannah Lake Character Portrait: Jack Lake Character Portrait: Peter Cross
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Eleanor smiles at Peter, she had known he'd be here, of course she had but still, it was like the ghost from her past coming back to haunt her - Maybe she should have come?
Shaking her head, she realizes that, that was out of the question, eventhough she couldn't give them much she had some things and hopefully they'd be grateful.

"Hello Peter," She smiles, looking at where he was staring at her baby, she almost burst out laughing at the next thing he says:
"It's been awhile."
Eleanor shrugs and smiles a little, patting her precious baby on the head "Yeah, it really has." She mutters, looking to see if there were any signs of Jack or Hannah.

Before she had the time to ask Peter if he knew where they were, Hannah appeared from around the corner and greeted her.
Eleanor allowed herself to take in the size of Hannah, she really was almost ready to have this baby.
"Whoa Hannah, you look fit to burst." She jokes and smiles at the girl, knowing that she must be so excited.

"Peter, Jack and I are just going into town. Send out a search party if we're not back before dark." Eleanor laughed, of only to make the fact that the place she lived in, was so cruel they wouldn't help a heavily pregnant woman.
She also smiles at Jack, he was a very kind husband and Elle wishes more than anything she'd had someone like him around when she was with child - Making it all OK and telling her she still looked beautiful even with fat beads of sweat and weighing twice her usual weight.

Suddenly Eleanor remembers why she came here, the baby clothes! but by that time, Hannah had already gotten to the road and Elle didn't want to have to call her back, especially not in the condition she is.
Instead, she turns back to Peter and holds up the bag "Baby clothes," She says, "It's not much but it's all I can give at this time." She tells him, knowing or hoping he'll understand.
Pulling Lily-Mae out of her holder, she passes her to Peter and laughs a little, "Don't worry - She won't bite." Eleanor says and then walks into the house so she can put the bag of clothes down.

Characters Present

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.

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Character Portrait: 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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Soon enough, Aaron found the newcomers not only being discussed, but walking in through the door of the cafe. He watched as Hannah stood, and he could read into the situation that Hannah was trying to look needy. In Aaron's mind, she shouldn't have to feel she needs to look desperate to arouse something from the town, her acceptance as a member of the town shouldn't be voted on, and neither of them should feel as if they can't pull up a chair themselves and just sit down at a table. There was so much wrong with the situation, his mind couldn't understand the simple question of why. However, Aaron sat back and analyzed the situation further and as it developed. Many times has he made a decision ill-informed or in a brash manner, and he's developed this habit of waiting to avoid problems. Soon enough, Will got up and spoke.

"Hannah, you should sit down. You can have my chair, I need to be heading out anyway. It's customary that I walk the perimeter of Dust every morning." He thanked Sophia for the food, and headed out elsewhere. Unfortunately, Will didn't get to talk to him as he wished, but Will also knew that Aaron guarded in and around the south side of town. If he so decided, he could find Aaron there.

Thinking to express something rather brilliant, he watched as Hannah went to sit. He looked at Jack for a moment, saying "Why don't you pull up a chair too, Jack?" Using his first name, hopefully he would ease the divide between him, as a member of the town, and the other newcomers. He then looked at the rest who were around him, including Sophia, trying to bring everyone's attention in. His eyebrows were furrowed, his face having a look of condescending speculation. Finally, he spoke up.

"How did the town get to be so... wrong?"

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

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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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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.