I've lost count of how many resets I've been through.
My first five stand out most in my mind- Maddy Grey, Liam Bataille, Julian Bataille, August Flynn, and Bradley Jones. I dated them all, but the one I most fell in love with was August.
It was a strange realization, that a former FBI agent had fallen deeply in love with a serial killer, and even a serial killer who admitted to me that he was, in fact, a killer before the towers rose. Even so, I can't see him as an evil person. I'd venture to call him a vigilante instead of a serial killer, because the people he killed committed crimes behind the scenes. He's more like Dexter Morgan than Hannibal Lecter.
So, this time, I decided enough was enough.
I skipped the van scene, I'd seen it too many times now and it wasn't important. I banged on the door of Steve's store and went through that ridiculous conversation again.
I deal with Jones for the millionth time, and I drag him toward where the towers will rise. I want to hurry up and 'meet' August again.
This time, however, when August holds the glass to Bradley's neck, my gun stays holstered.
August looks so different now than he will after spending so much time together. He looks like a cold-blooded killer with his cold, hard gaze, but I know who he is underneath it all.
I've chosen him, time and time again. I accept him for who he was, and who he is. We've moved seamlessly without communication to get Bradley on his back when he held us at gunpoint.
I've seen him become angry with me for choosing other people to be with, especially when they were vampires. I've seen him become something more than human, and I've seen him become more human than anyone else I've ever met. I've killed the entire Bataille family with him, except Liam, so many times. We've lived in the mansion, we've gotten together along with Maddy, and after all this time, after spending so many time loops going through this same scenario, he's who I want.
I hold his cold gaze as I unholster my gun and toss it away from me.
The surprise on his face is palpable.
"Erika, what're you do--" Jones breaks off with a choked cry when August presses the glass into his neck, causing a small trickle of blood to drip down his neck.
"Please, August." I'm surprised at the amount of desperation in my own voice, "Kill him or throw him away, but come with me before we're trapped here."
I'm not surprised at the suspicious narrowing at his eyes, but I continue,
"I need you to listen to me." I swallow a hard lump in my throat as I go on, "I've been in a time loop and I've lost count what number this loop is." August's face morphs into his considering face, so I know he's at least listening to what I'm saying.
"I don't expect you to believe me right away, but out of the many resets I've been through, there's only three where I didn't choose you as my life partner."
"Wha-- Erika?!" Jones' voice cuts off again as another trickle of blood drips down his neck with a slightly sharper press of the glass against his neck.
"And why should I believe you?" August asks.
"Because you feel it and I know you do. Something big is going to happen in this town, and nobody will be able to leave. Our only connection to the outside world will be an automated train that brings in supplies from the outside to this backwater, hick town filled with bigots, conspiracy theorists, and vampires. It won't take long for you to get antsy and want out, I've seen it repeatedly. I want a new adventure with you." I take a small step forward and he presses the glass deeper into Jones' throat, but I don't take my eyes off those ocean blue eyes of his.
"I really don't care if you kill Bradley." I ignore the look of panic on Jones' face, "I just want you. I want to grab your hand, run to my car, and hightail it out of this town before we're stuck here with 700 people. I don't even want to hand you over to the government. I renounce being an FBI agent." To prove it, I pull out my badge and throw it away in the opposite direction of my gun. "Let's go on the run, together. As far as the rest of the world will know, we're stuck here with everyone else in Bataille."
He watches me for a few moments, then he lets out a growl and throws Jones aside.
Jones lands hard on his wrist and I can hear a crunch. I don't care.
As soon as August is free of Jones, I run towards August with my hand outstretched to him. Relief floods my body when he grabs my outstretched hand and I hurriedly lead him towards my car. We don't have much time.
This time, I had purposefully left my car outside of the future barrier. We both jump into the car and I immediately put the car in reverse and floor it before August even has his door closed.
He lets out a surprised yelp, but grips the suicide handle until I stop several yards away from the barrier.
August turns towards me and opens his mouth to say something, but then that awful sound of the towers cuts him off and he watches wide-eyed as they rise.
On the inside of the towers, nothing on the outside is clear. It's all distorted.
On the outside of the towers, it's slightly more clear than inside, and we watch Bradley run towards the towers and his head explode.
"You weren't kidding..." August finally breaks the silence.
"I wasn't kidding." I say softly, glance over at him and blink back tears.
Finally, August and I will be free of the confines of the towers. I have no idea what we'll face out here, but I'm just so happy to have freedom with the Heartbreaker, August Flynn, by my side.
"So... You're Erika?"
I smile at him with tears shining in my eyes.
"Yes, I'm Erika."