As soon as she arrived at Northanger Abbey, Catherine realized that there was something strange about the habits of the Tilney family.
Catherine had often read that people of high rank kept town hours in the country, but sleeping in very late and staying up all night seemed an extreme of fashion that Catherine had not even seen in Bath. The family also had a very curious dislike of garlic (which the General said was because he had spent so much of his life fighting the French, a tangle of associations Catherine could not even begin to comprehend) and seemed to eat so little of all the wonderful food laid out upon the tables at dinner— the only meal they took together, for they all breakfasted in their rooms, and Catherine was often too tired to stay up and take a midnight supper with the rest of the family. The Tilneys drank a good deal more red wine than Catherine thought was good for them, but never showed any signs of drunkenness.
Then, too, there was General Tilney’s quite tyrannical policy on windows. They could be opened at night, but never during the day. Catherine— whose only company during the day tended to be the stone-faced servants sleepwalking through their tasks— was not allowed to open the window-curtains or the shutters of any room in the house but her bedroom. Despite this, Catherine could have sworn she saw bats flying about the abbey. General Tilney said everything was locked up so tightly to avoid a yet greater infestation of bats, and because the sunlight would damage all the priceless paintings and antiques and tapestries on the walls. He then bored Catherine very much by taking her around the abbey and detailing the history of every single object. Seeing her interest flag, he had added, “I think too, of the complexions of yourself and my daughter. The complexation of a young lady is a treasure that ought never to be tarnished by the sun.”
True, General Tilney did not allow Miss Tilney out of doors unless it was overcast, and she was almost completely covered up, and with a parasol on top of that. The whole family seemed to take the most extraordinary care of their complexions as well. Captain Tilney never went in the sun, as far as Catherine could tell, and even Mr. Tilney took his long walks— both with Catherine and Eleanor and with his hunting dogs— wearing a very broad-brimmed hat, gloves, and a knitted muffler. If she, Catherine, had so enviously, fashionably pale a complexion as all the Tilneys, she supposed she would also go to great pains to preserve it, but not to this extent.
If one added this all up, one (or, at least Catherine) was left with one obvious conclusion.
The Tilneys were all vampires.
Catherine was frightfully delighted by the idea. She had never rated herself highly enough, or thought herself interesting enough to be the guest of vampires. But with this returned the consternation she had felt upon first arriving in Bath, that she was not entirely sure how she ought to act in such company. Vampires were quite her favorite creatures to read about and she knew very well that they had a sophistication, a sense of elegance, that even dukes and duchesses could not hope to achieve.
It was a dark and stormy midnight, with great peals of thunder nearly shaking the edifice of the building, when Catherine decided she really ought to read up on vampires, so she did not show herself up badly to hosts who had so graciously welcomed her to their home. Ever since the joys of baseball and rolling down the hill at the back of the house had faded, she had longed to meet a real vampire. To have her visit cut short because of her gaucheness struck her with absolute horror.
The violence of the storm had frightened her sufficiently that she had not blown out her candle, so she rose and donned the requisite garments of a heroine. She had, while in Bath, equipped herself with these, though this was by more mischance than actual application. The flimsy, yet voluminous white muslin nightgown was a gift from Isabella. After James and Isabella had confirmed their engagement, Isabella and Catherine had immediately celebrated their impending sisterhood by taking over the task of sewing each others’ body linens. They had only managed to finish nightgowns for each other before this grew rather tiresome, but they had finished something , and that was an impressive feat for two young girls with all the splendors of Bath society to distract them.
The nightgown Catherine had made was easy to wear and wash, and cut and sewn along a pattern as practical and sensible as Mrs. Morland, who had taught it to her. The nightgown Isabella made was… not. Indeed, it was so fine and flimsy a garment, trimmed with so much discounted lace, Catherine could not actually sleep in it. She felt a little foolish slipping out of her regular, untrimmed nightgown for something made to be seen in, rather to be slept in, but had to admit— it billowed so nicely as she practiced running swiftly across the room, away from danger.
The long, trailing dressing gown of white silk, held fast about the waist with a silken cord that never seemed to be knotted securely enough, was an old one of Mrs. Allen’s. Mrs. Allen had kindly bestowed it upon Catherine, as well as a pair of heeled slippers, after Catherine had accidentally upended an ink bottle on her dressing gown from home— a very sensibly cut brown flannel that was very warm, but had never even aspired to be pretty.
Catherine shook her dark hair loose, until it hung prettily about her shoulders, picked up her candle, and crept her cautious way out of the corridor and into the library. Northanger Abbey was properly gloomy and dark at this hour of the night. There were no lights on the first floor; none but the little sphere of light from her candle. She wondered where the Tilneys were. Catherine had left them conversing in the drawing room, but the room was dark and deserted. It was quite possible they were out feeding.
She was touched anew at their graciousness in feeding her so well, when they themselves had to wait so long for their dinner, and marveled at their good manners. When she had to wait too long for her dinner, she could be quite vicious with any younger sibling who dared annoy her. Vampires were always said to be very good hosts, until one woke up from fantastical nightmares with two little holes in one’s neck and a curious, yet deliriously pleasant weakness pervading one’s limbs.
This idea gave Catherine pause. No one had bitten her yet. Had she done something to offend the Tilneys? Oh but fancy if Mr. Tilney should bite her! Catherine was sure she would swoon away into his arms at once. She had never fainted before in her life, despite her best efforts, but Catherine was entirely convinced that if Mr. Tilney would take her into his arms and feast upon her blood, she would have the most wonderful swoon of any girl in England.
This cheerful hope caused her to be more diligent about her research in the library than any she had undertaken for the schoolroom. Catherine looked for the novels she knew to be about vampires first. These she stacked on a table to take up to her room later. Then she manfully looked in the histories, even though she hated them, for she knew there was often a family history somewhere that would provide the key to the mystery. It took her several anxious minutes, but soon her eye fell upon a book that seemed different from the others, for it was very curiously placed. There was no dust on it or before it, quite unlike its fellows. She reached up a hand to it.
It seemed stuck.
Catherine gripped her candle tightly, and pulled on the book. The bookcase, and the little half-circle of stone floor on which she had been standing, smoothly revolved a hundred and eighty degrees, taking Catherine out of the library and into a secret passageway.
“Northanger Abbey is the most wonderful house!” she exclaimed. “A secret passageway, just where one should be!”
The passageway led to a long and gloomy corridor— delightful!— all gothic arches and vaulted ceilings and cobwebs. Catherine was so happy she skipped down it. The corridor led, of course, to a strange old door with medieval metal fixtures and a huge iron ring on it instead of a handle. It took all of Catherine’s strength— and she had even to set down the candle for a moment and grasp it in both hands— but at last she pulled the door open to reveal a windowless chamber, with only an antique settee before a fireplace framed with tapestries, with four coffins leaning against the opposite wall.
The Tilneys were vampires!
Catherine went eagerly into the room for a better look before realizing it was very rude to intrude on the family bedroom, and turning around. However, when she turned, she was struck with a large portrait above the fireplace, of a very lovely woman, with a mild and pensive countenance and two white fangs hanging over a full lower lip. This must be Mrs. Tilney. Catherine was a little disappointed that this was not the very image of Eleanor or of Mr. Tilney, or even of Captain Tilney, and had to stare at it for quite two minutes trying to find similarities between that of the fair subject and her probable children. There was a strange sound; a slight movement to the right of the fireplace, where a faded hunting tapestry hung.
This quivered as if in an unknown breeze and then drew back.
With a feeling of terror and excitement intermingled, she fixed her eyes upon it. In a few moments that crept by like hours, it gave Henry to her view. “Mr. Tilney!” she exclaimed in a voice of more than common astonishment. He looked astonished too. “Good God!” she continued, not attending to his address. “How came you here?”
“There is a staircase back here from the game room,” said Mr. Tilney.
“You were out hunting, at this hour?”
“I have more success at night than during the day,” said Mr. Tilney, with an ironic little smile. There was a smear of something— blood?— on the usually crisp white collar of his shirt. She supposed him to have been successful and though she drew back a little, she comforted herself with the knowledge that he could not be very hungry. And even if he was, he would not actually kill her— and indeed, it might be quite pleasant—
“And may I not, in my turn,” said he, looking in her countenance for that explanation which her lips did not afford, “ask how you came here? This is an extraordinary passage through which to find your own room.”
“Through the library,” said Catherine. “I wanted to look up something, and pulled on a book—”
“Ah.” Mr. Tilney shut the hidden door behind him and was occupied, for some moments, in fixing the hang of the tapestry. “I suppose then, that there is no use hiding the family secret from you any longer. We are vampires.”
“You are ?” Catherine cried rapturously.
Mr. Tilney seemed both bemused and amused by her reaction. “I have often heard that said, but never in that tone of voice.”
“But how can that be?” demanded Catherine. “This is the nicest surprise I have ever had! I have always longed to meet a vampire. Everyone at home was always telling me, ‘Kathy, you must remember that vampires are only in books, they are not real,’ but I had always hoped they were real. You… are real?”
“All evidence points to it,” said Mr. Tilney. He was so obviously amused by her that Catherine felt a little cowed, but she supposed if one was a very sophisticated vampire so naïve a question as ‘are you real’ must be terrifically funny.
“But… you are a clergyman,” faltered Catherine. “Surely you… that is to say, most novelists say that when a vampire steps on consecrated ground, they burst into flame.”
“Only if they drink human blood, and human blood alone,” said he. “I do not and feel no discomfort at all in churches, except when the ladies’ floral committee tracks me down to settle an argument about the quality of the daffodils Mrs. So-and-so has been supplying.” It seemed he had been slowing himself down for her human eyes, for in a pale blur he was before the fire, tossing logs onto the ashes. “I never feel the cold, but I am sure you must. Let me build up the fire for you.”
Catherine happily handed him her candle so that he might light the tinder, before settling herself on the settee. She longed to sit with her legs drawn up under her chin, as she had listened to horrible ghost stories as a child, but that, she felt, would not suit the dignity of a vampire. She made herself sit very upright and prim, and— after a moment’s struggle, managed to get all the tangled folds of dressing gown and nightgown adequately settled. “You know, this is what I wished for above all things, to meet vampires, but I cannot think you all have been longing to meet me for years. Why was I invited to Northanger Abbey?”
“My father never tells us of his reasoning,” said Mr. Tilney, arranging twigs and newspaper in the hearth, “but Eleanor and I believed that it was because she is so often alone. She has had no female companion since our mother died, and is often without any companion at all, when I am called away on parish duties, and my father and brother to their division.”
“How can they be soldiers and vampires?” asked Catherine.
“Theirs is a very particular regiment,” said Mr. Tilney, “that only fights at night, and is only deployed with the utmost secrecy. However, they have never yet lost a battle, and many join because it is a very easy way to find one’s food without having to search for it.”
“I’ll have the fire going for you in a moment,” said Mr. Tilney. “But to return— I believe you were invited in particular because Eleanor likes you, and our father doubted you would stumble upon our secret.”
Catherine felt rather pleased and proud of herself. “Well, I have. I won’t bring it up to him if it is rude, or even to Miss Tilney if it will make her uncomfortable, but will you tell me more? Like— is that a portrait of your mother?”
Mr. Tilney, still crouched before the kindling fire, glanced up at the painting. “It is.”
“I take it she is no longer with you.”
“No.” Mr. Tilney lowered his gaze and his shoulders came up a little, as if to protect his bowed head. “She was killed some years ago— staked through the heart in a power struggle among our old coven. We retreated here. Other vampires could not follow us because—”
“Oh, because this used to be an abbey,” said Catherine eagerly. “Oh that is so very clever! And I suppose the danger is decades or even centuries past if your father and brother are out fighting— but if they are doing so, and drinking human blood, then how can they reside in Northanger Abbey comfortably?”
“As with many things in life, it is all to do with proportion and moderation.” The fire was now blazing away in the hearth. Mr. Tilney stood and turned to face her. “A mixture of the two will do no harm; it is only when it is out of proportion that stepping in the abbey begins to feel like walking on a beach with bare feet, and it is only when one drinks human blood exclusively that one bursts into flame and finds crucifixes an eyesore.” He gestured at the settee. “Might I sit with you Miss Morland? I have been out hunting this evening, and have grown rather weary.”
“Not at all!” she cried, blushing with her enthusiasm for the idea. “You poor man— poor vampire! It must be very vexing, having to drink the blood of animals, for I could not imagine even a full deer would be sufficient for a grown man— or grown vampire, I suppose— for more than a day.”
Mr. Tilney sank onto the settee with a faint groan, and stretched his booted legs out towards the fire. “A deer will get me through the day, true enough. It is sometimes tiresome work, but it is by no means onerous. The country always offers something to hunt, and I am fond of dogs, and training them to hunt."
“But animal blood cannot be as nice as human blood, I am sure.”
Mr. Tilney looked at with a faint smile. “It is far nicer for Eleanor and I to eat what humans in our positions would eat, albeit in our own, idiosyncratic manner— if one means ‘nice’ to refer to morality or one’s sense of normalcy. But for my father and elder brother’s definition of nice… no, I cannot argue with you there.”
A voluptuous shiver worked its way through Catherine’s limbs. How deliciously frightful this all was. Mr. Tilney was such a nice vampire— by which she meant he encapsulated her idea of a vampire so well while being such a kind sort of gentleman. This was much better than the sort of vampire who ripped out throats and dripped blood everywhere. There was a control, a delicacy that appealed. “You must stop me if I am being rude, Mr. Tilney, but has it… has it been a very long time since you’ve drunk human blood?”
“And do you….” Her throat was very dry; when she swallowed it made a horribly embarrassing little clicking noise. “Do you ever wish to drink human blood?”
“Every day,” said Mr. Tilney, after a moment, “but throughout the lives of anyone, be they human or vampire, there are… certain urges we must not act on.”
Catherine could not hide her disappointment when she asked, “Ever?”
Mr. Tilney laughed at her a little. “You are the most unusual young lady I have ever met, Miss Morland. You seem almost disappointed that I do not rip out the throats of strangers and drain them dry.”
“Can you do that?” Catherine asked, quite astonished.
“In theory, yes,” said Mr. Tilney, “but in practice, no, I never have. Why, have you an enemy you wish to see exsanguinated?”
“I haven’t got any enemies,” said Catherine, frankly. “Sometimes I have wanted a nemesis, but only when I am really lost in a book where the heroine has one. When I have finished reading, I usually think how uncomfortable it must be to have a blood feud or a lifelong vendetta. I am so unhappy when I quarrel with my brothers and sisters for more than two days, I do not really think I could stand having a nemesis. But you have distracted me!”
Mr. Tilney said, imperturbably, “I intended to distract you. I find killing people for sport or for the table distasteful in the extreme, and can only conquer as strong a craving as a vampire's for human blood by ignoring it completely.”
“Surely,” said Catherine, unconsciously shifting a little closer to him on the settee, “you do not need to kill someone to drink their blood?” When Mr. Tilney sat upright and turned to stare at her, as if he had not heard her correctly, she felt so self-conscious she began to incoherently justify herself. “Why, in the books one reads, the victim— or perhaps I should not say victim— but the person a vampire feeds on— she does not die at once, but weakens gradually, and if the person is only fed off of once, she recovers by the end of the third volume. And breathing a vein is so often practiced when one is feeling poorly that I cannot imagine a very little blood drinking would really injure a person. Even if it did happen more than once….”
She trailed off, feeling the full weight of Mr. Tilney’s unblinking gaze upon her. Catherine became very aware that she was in her night things. They were her very nicest night things (by which she meant the finest), but there was no denying that her nightgown was so fine (by which she meant sheer) that it left very little to the imagination. If her silk dressing gown was to slide off her shoulders, or to become untied, it would puddle to the floor, and Mr. Tilney would see… quite everything. The idea frightened and thrilled her at once, and she found herself very grateful Mrs. Allen had given her this pretty silk dressing gown. It would have been too dreadful to be talking to a real vampire, especially one as appealing as Mr. Tilney, in a stained brown flannel.
“Miss Morland,” said Mr. Tilney, in luxuriously low tones that seemed to rumble through her, “if I quite understand what you are suggesting….”
Catherine herself had not known what she was suggesting until this moment. A blush rose up her neck to her face; she looked away, quite ashamed of herself. “I only meant that— you are so good , and yet you talk as if you are capable of such great wickedness. I cannot think it would be distasteful or immoral if no one is killed, and the other person is willing.”
She felt the tip of a cold finger lightly touch the underside of her chin; she let it guide her, and turned her head to look at Mr. Tilney again. His nearly handsome face wanted only midnight and mystery to make him actually handsome.
Catherine could not look away from him, could not help but drink in the intent look he directed at her, the increased rapidity of his breath, the expression that suggested a man exerting iron control over himself. As cold as the finger was on her chin, it burned through her.
“You do not know the wickedness of which I am capable,” said Mr. Tilney, in a soft, low voice that pulled her in, half-hypnotized her, “because I myself do not know. I make it a point of personal pride not to give into that part of my character.” He lowered his hand. Catherine was deeply, obscurely disappointed that he had done so. “I try to be a good man. The circumstances you have outlined— those are the only circumstances in which I would give into that particular urge.” His dark eyes locked onto hers. His voice softened even more, wrapped itself like silk about her. “Are those the circumstances in which we find ourselves, Miss Morland?”
“Yes,” breathed Catherine.
Mr. Tilney leaned closer to her, without seeming to realize it; Catherine felt his knee brush against hers and shivered. “You are willing, Miss Morland?”
“Very willing,” said Catherine. “I— I do try to be a good person, Mr. Tilney, but….” She could become lost in those eyes, thought Catherine, feeling herself lean towards him, feeling every part of her long for the touch of his teeth on her neck. “I do have the wickedest dreams.”
Mr. Tilney tilted his head down; his laugh ghosted across her lips. “And I suppose this is one of them?”
The touch of his breath seemed to rob Catherine of hers. She let her blush speak for her.
“You are a wonder, Miss Morland.” His arm crept around her waist; she drew in a sharp breath, half-worried and half-hoping that the unsteady, rapid rise of her chest might loosen the silk dressing gown yet further. “I will have to hold you like this— is that acceptable?”
“Oh, very much,” Catherine said eagerly, flinging her arms about Mr. Tilney’s neck. She had not meant to speak, or to grasp him with such obvious desire, but it made Mr. Tilney laugh again, and drop his head down, so that his hair brushed against the bare skin exposed by the neckline of her nightgown and dressing gown. It tickled in the most thrilling way.
Catherine managed to get out, “Will you— I think you might have to undo my dressing gown, Mr. Tilney, and move it a little to—”
“If you permit it, Miss Morland?”
As soon as she nodded, he used his free hand to deftly untie the sash, before pushing both her dressing gown and her nightgown off her left shoulder. Mr. Tilney pulled her closer again, and brushed his lips across her newly bared neck.
Catherine gasped and tiled her head back, her eyes fluttering closed. She had meant to watch, really, but the touch of his lips thrilled through her with such intensity, built up the anticipation so wildly, she could hardly bear it.
“The moment you begin to feel dizzy,” breathed Mr. Tilney against her neck, “you must tell me. Will you, Miss Morland?”
“I will,” she said, starting to tremble. “But Mr. Tilney! I want— please , I want you to— so badly —”
“As you wish, Miss Morland,” said Mr. Tilney, and he sank his teeth into her neck.
The sharp sting of the vampiric fangs piercing her skin was nothing compared to the rush of pleasure that followed. She felt gooseflesh raise up and down her arms, felt such a rapturous shiver work through her that she arched closer. What a strange and heady bliss! What a peculiar lightness filled her! Her heart beat wildly, feeling less like some vital organ and more like some imprisoned bird desperate to break from her ribcage, where it had been so cruelly confined. The shock of the bite had caused her hands to slide down, so that she was clinging to his shoulders, and Catherine was suddenly very aware of the cold, coiled strength of them, how she could feel the muscle tense when she strengthened her grip on him and he on her. Mr. Tilney held her so close , far closer than any man had held her before. She was so thrillingly aware of her body, and where it touched Mr. Tilney’s. The knees pressing against her own, the powerful arm wrapped around her waist, imprisoning her in his embrace, the hand still tugging down the neckline of her nightgown, the press of his chest against her own, his mouth on her neck, the faint press of his tongue against those two little wounds—
She had dreamed of this so often (far more often than she admitted even to herself) it felt almost unreal: the trembling private ecstasy of a guilty midnight, not reality. How wonderful it really was! Her head was swimming— oh.
“Mr. Tilney,” she got out, reluctantly.
“Yes?” he asked, into her neck.
She did not want him to stop. Even this dizziness was wonderful. She wanted to chase it, give into it. But— “Mr. Tilney, I do feel dizzy, a little. You said— ”
Mr. Tilney pulled away. “I did.”
There was blood, her blood, smeared a little across the fangs that had come out, and on his lower lip and the corner of his mouth. The sticking plaster Mr. Tilney then took from his pocket and gently affixed to her neck somewhat ruined the dark romance of it all, but was a very kind thing to do, and Catherine had to admit that the whole experience would have been ruined if she had gotten blood all over her nicest dressing gown.
“You have a little…” said Catherine dreamily, waving a limp hand at his mouth.
“I beg your pardon,” Mr. Tilney said. He politely turned away a moment, to allow his fangs to retreat back into his gums, and thumbed the blood off his lower lip. After a second's thought, Mr. Tilney popped his thumb in his mouth, with a faint noise of appreciation. It gave Catherine the most exquisitely odd feeling to watch it, to know how much Mr. Tilney had enjoyed it as well. “How are you feeling, my dear Miss Morland?”
“ Wondrous ,” she breathed, sagging limply backwards. He had not removed his arm. She was glad of it. It felt as if he had sucked out every bone in her body, not merely a surgeon’s recommended amount of blood, for fever or inflammation.
“Ah,” said Mr. Tilney, with a laugh in his voice, “I was forgetting— it’s been so long I hadn’t recalled the effect it might have on you."
"What effect?" she asked, rather hazily.
Mr. Tilney did laugh at her then, but very affectionately, and he pulled her nightgown and dressing gown back over her shoulder with great tenderness. "This. The state in which you have fallen. It is commonly believed it is God’s way of allowing us to live, by keeping the victim from fighting back or running once we bite them. There is some comfort, I suppose, in knowing that if one did kill, one’s victim would die in a state of transcendent ecstasy.”
“I don’t think I’m dying,” said Catherine muzzily.
“You aren’t,” confirmed Mr. Tilney, quite cheerfully. “You are merely going to have a very lovely night.”
Catherine let out a soul-deep sigh of pure bliss. “The loveliest. ”
“And now, Miss Morland, I think you had better get back to bed.”
Catherine tried to tell him, not very coherently, that she would much rather sleep here.
“You will not like waking up here in the morning, I assure you,” said Mr. Tilney. “I daresay you cannot walk at present, so if you have no objection, I’ll carry you back to your room."
“Won't I be too heavy for you to lift?” she asked doubtfully.
“One of the benefits of being a vampire,” said Mr. Tilney, putting one arm under her knees, and the other around her waist, "is increased strength. You are light as eiderdown to me. All the same, if you would be so obliging as to put your arms around my neck?”
Catherine did so in a dreamy haze, still marveling to herself that this had happened, that even now, Mr. Tilney was cradling her in his arms, and she was resting her head against Mr. Tilney’s shoulder; that he really was a vampire, that the mark of his fangs was on her neck, under the sticking plaster. It was all too thrilling for words. “That was so nice ."
“I do pride myself on my neatness,” said Mr. Tilney. “For a vampire, I am particularly fastidious. I fancy I am the only one to carry sticking plasters in his pockets.”
“You do not like ‘nice,’ Mr. Tilney? No, I was forgetting that you do not like the word— but thank you for not dragging Mr. Johnson and his dictionary into it. I feel a little as if I am floating, and it would bring me down to the schoolroom floor if you started quoting definitions at me. Perhaps I ought to say that that was thrilling , or that it was delightful, or delicious—”
“That last one, I suppose,” said Mr. Tilney, sounding amused, “is your attempt to describe my experience?”
“No, I found it delicious,” said Catherine, still rather dreamily. “I suppose that is a strange thing to say, but you must agree that this was a strange evening.”
Mr. Tilney laughed again. “You are truly an original, Miss Morland.”
He felt warm now— the effect, she imagined, of having drunk her blood so recently. Catherine couldn’t resist tightening her arms around him. She wished this walk to her room would go on forever. “Did you enjoy it?”
Mr. Tilney paused in a pool of moonlight, spilling through an open window through which a bat flew into the night. Catherine looked up at Mr. Tilney, and saw not merely the amusement with which he usually regarded her, but a ferocious hunger, veiled with tenderness. It seemed to waken an answering appetite in her— a half-frightened, half-ecstatic longing she sometimes felt when reading the horridest books, and a feeling that there were perhaps, other wicked desires that Mr. Tilney could meet for her, and she for him. “Enjoy,” he said, in low, liquid tones, “is too limited a word to describe my feelings. I do not think any word could capture them at this moment."
“Oh, Mr. Tilney!” Catherine let her head fall back against his chest, feeling limp with satiated desire. “By every definition, you are the nicest vampire!”