He emerged from her skirt, stood, and backed her toward the catacombs wall, his hands still in the same intimate places. "Anna?" he asked. This was not the way he'd have chosen to say goodbye to her-he'd meant to say it that night in the comfort and safety of his bed-and he still could not quite believe she wanted this, here and now.

She nodded several times, silently, and pushed his trousers and boxers down off his hips.

He moved his hands and wrenched the bottom of her skirt upward, hearing it tear at the slit in the back. He slid a hand along the underside of her thigh and lifted it up toward his hip. She stood tip-toe on her other foot, and he bent his knees and thrust up into her, entering her.

Anna wrapped her legs tightly around Duke; she crossed her arms behind his neck, clutching him. He wedged one hand between her tailbone and the stone wall, his other arm cushioning the length of her spine, his hand cradling the back of her head.

"Anna…," he whispered while he moved inside her. "I love you…. I do…. I always will…. I'm sorry…."

"Shhh…," Anna hushed again, and they both lost themselves in the base physicality of their lovemaking.

Gravity increased the friction between them, their bodies and souls rubbed raw by their desperate circumstances. Duke panted and grunted as his thrusts pinned his arms between Anna's body and the jagged rock. He deserved that discomfort, he thought, and it was small price to pay for the pleasure of holding her and being inside her. She felt so good that he had no idea how he would ever manage to leave her and let her go.

Held off the ground, Anna could not move except to wrap all of herself more tightly around Duke and hold on while he fucked her hard against the cold, damp cave wall. She abandoned herself to his rough thrusts, short but deep, her clit riding hard against the very root of his cock. Time seemed to slow down to the seeping geologic drip-drop of the stalactites above them. Maybe, Anna thought, she and Duke could just go on and on like this, buried alone underground together forever, and they need never be separated….

Her soft gasps joined his huffs of exertion, quickening until finally she could not keep quiet as she came again. Her cry echoed through the caverns of the catacombs just as the ecstasy reverberated through her body and soul. Her tremors of pleasure multiplied and amplified, her last moments of union with Duke becoming the most intense he'd ever given her.

Duke joined her, growling ferally with release and clenching his teeth around a mouthful of her hair that flowed down past her neck, like an animal biting the scruff of his mate. In the moment, he thought that all the pain he and Anna had suffered was worth it-this shared rapture outweighed all of it. Surely she must feel and believe that, too. Their delight in each other could overcome any sorrow….