"You could say that, yeah." My voice was steadier now. I crawled off his lap and waited for my footing to steady upon the ground before I glanced towards the house. "But perhaps we should go indoors."
James didn't argue as he stood up and followed me to the front door of the house and up the stairs into my room. I seated myself on my bed, crossing my legs, and eyed him as he sat in the rocking chair across the room. He cleared his throat and let his hands rest in his lap. I raised my eyes to look at his face and met those piercing green eyes for the longest moment I think I've ever experienced.
"Would you like to ask the questions or should I just start at the beginning?"
"The beginning sounds good."
"All right, then." He took a long, unnecessary breath and leaned back in the chair. He began rocking softly, watching me closely.
"I'm sure you remember the first day we met. I was traveling with Laurent and his lover, Victoria. We heard your old friends playing baseball and thought it would be quite a bit of fun if we could join. As soon as Laurent caught wind of you, I'm afraid that is where everything went wrong. Laurent was brilliant, in the worst way really, and had never had a problem getting what he wanted. The moment he saw your friends react so possessively towards you, it was a challenge to him. When he said he wanted to hunt you, I left. You were clearly important to your friends, I wasn't about to make any enemies. I started trying to find you, so I could warn you. I was having terrible luck with that, so I switched then to trying to find your family. It didn't take me long to realize they were watching me and once I realized that it occurred to me that Laurent had probably sent them on my trail as a distraction. So I tried to find you, hoping that you would be more sympathetic to my side of the story. I could never catch up to you without your family. By the time I'd discovered Laurent had tricked you, he was dead and you were in the hospital.
"But I knew Victoria would come after you. You don't separate a vampire from it's lover. So I stayed here in Forks, watching over you from a distance. I waited for her to make her move. I couldn't alert you to my presence because it would alert her. She had kept as close of an eye on you as I did. I had to risk you not knowing, even though I was terrified you would think it dishonest. Everything else, I suppose as they say, is history. I wasn't hunting you, Bella. Quite the opposite. You have to believe me."
I watched the movements of his eyes, the subtle shift of his features, closely the entire time he spoke. His eyes never wavered, never left my own. His honesty was palpable. I sighed to myself and nodded. What was there to say? There was a long moment of silence, I suppose he was waiting for me to speak. I mulled the entire situation over. He had stayed behind to protect me. He knew I was still in danger, even when the Cullens didn't. For that, I supposed I was grateful. If it weren't for him, I'd be dead. For the first time in a few months, I wasn't sure if being dead was what I wanted. I laid back on the bed, my legs still crossed, and rested my head upon my hands.
"Why are your eyes green instead of red or topaz?" The question came out suddenly, without any real thought on my part. But there it was, hanging between us.
"I am... ancient."
"Ancient? You mean like the Volturi?" His chuckle startled me. I lifted my head to look at him, the genuine amusement plain on his face.
"Much, much older than the Volturi, Bella."
"I thought they were the oldest."
"They certainly think they are." Now I was even more curious. I sat up again, stretching my legs out and letting them hang casually off the side of my bed.
"Tell me." His smile was soft as he leaned forward in the chair, the rocking forgotten.
"As far as I know, I am one of the first fifteen vampires ever created. I was turned in the early 4 BC." I knew my eyes became enormous. Four BC?
"How old are you?" His chuckle returned, along with a gentle shrug.
"I have stopped counting, Bella. You're welcome to calculate and tell me, but it has become of little interest."
"Well, those of us that were created originally have... evolved differently. The same way animals adopt traits to help them survive in environments, so we have. My eyes remained the same color as my human form simply because for the first few hundred years I was alive, I drank nothing except pure blood. Pure ancient blood. To be simple, I drank no human blood until I was well over six hundred years old. I turned no one until I was over a thousand. The blood coursing through my veins is that of the purest of all vampires. I am one of the originals.
"There are only five of us left. I let those like the Volturi assume they are the oldest and most powerful simply because it suits me. I have no desire to control other vampires or take over all of the humans. I simply am waiting out my time here."
I was shaking my head repeatedly, my palm pressed to my forehead again. I had tried to imagine how much power it took to kill someone without even coming near them. That was my first mistake. Then I imagined what it was like to live as long as James has lived. The numbers baffled me and immediately I had a migraine. I felt the cold of his skin before I even realized he had moved. He slowly seated himself beside me on the bed and lifted my chin with a single finger until I was gazing into his eyes. I stopped breathing.
"I think perhaps now is time for a break, you should have some lunch." He stood and extended a hand out to me. "Come, we will get something for you." I stood, taking his hand and following him downstairs. I was surprised when he led me straight passed the kitchen and out the front door. He stopped almost suddenly and turned to me, an expression similar to sheepishness upon his charming face. "May I drive your truck?"