In Trail of Dreams:
After a fire destroys their family business, eighteen-year-old Lissa Whitaker unwillingly heads to Dakota Territory with her parents and younger brother. They rescue Lars Oleson, the very man who gave her father the outrageous idea to leave the comforts of Philadelphia.
Though her father hopes for a fresh start, Lissa can only think of the civilized life she has left behind, until dangers on the trail force her to set aside her regrets and face the perils of the journey.
The hardships and vengeful Indians force Lissa and Lars to rely on each other as they race the frigid winter coming on.
The light hurt his eyes. Lars had never had such an ache in his head--except when that horse-thieving farmer in Ohio hit him with a pole thick enough to hold up a barn. He'd brought that on by letting his attention wander to remembering the pretty girl in the grass of Pennsylvania, with her pert little backside sticking up like a flag that had made him stop.
He groaned and tried to raise his arm to cover his eyes. His shoulder was on fire and pain shot across his chest.
Arrows. He'd been shot by those thieving Indians. Where were they now? He popped his eyes open, but nothing came into focus. He reached up to push away something that covered his forehead. Next to him a figure moved. They had shot him, and now they were coming to scalp him. Lars lunged for the figure and rolled off onto a hard floor with a thud. He grunted as pain shot through his shoulder.
"Lars!" a strange high-pitched voice cried.
He blinked his eyes, trying to focus, but the pain pulsed in his head and filled his vision with sparks of light. The figure under him struggled to get away. Lars held on with one arm. His other hurt too much to move, but he didn't have much strength. Holding his attacker down with the weight on his body, he grabbed the varmint's throat and squeezed.
"Lars...," the high voice said, struggling to get the word out past his vice-like grip. "Lars, stop! You're hurting me."
He stilled. "How do you know my name?" He lowered his face so he could rub the sweat from his eyes on his sleeve.
He struggled to raise his head again and finally could make out the face inches below his.
"Lissa?" He saw the face of his rescuing angel, and he had just tried to kill her. He jerked his hand from her throat and leaned his elbow on the floor. "You?" He gave into his exhaustion and dropped his forehead to her shoulder. She smelled like warm sunshine. "What are you doing sneaking up on me? I could have killed you."
"Sneaking up? I've spent most of two days sitting next to you trying to take care of you while you decided whether you were going to wake up and join the living or not."
He tried to push up on his good arm and swore in Norwegian when he got nowhere.
"What is it? Your shoulder? Did you open the wounds?" She wiggled her arm free from under him and laid her hand on his aching shoulder blade and checked it for fresh blood. Her thigh moved against him as she twisted and evoked an intimate movement in his groin that startled him. How could his body be reacting to how much he wanted her when he was in such pain? His gaze darted to her face, but she did not seem to notice the movement against her thigh. Or she chose to ignore it.
His breathing was going lickety-split, and he felt dizzy. His head was pounding, but he was alive, thanks in no little part, he was certain, to her. And there he was, lying right on top of her, feeling every soft, luscious inch of her, and yet she did not cry out for help. "I do not scare you, overpowering you like this?"
She frowned. "Did you know I was sitting beside you when you first woke?"
He shook his head and immediately regretted it because of the pain. He shut his eyes and waited a moment for the pounding to pass. "No, I thought you were one of the Indians who shot me."
"That's what I figured. That's why you didn't frighten me." She grinned broadly. "But I sure am thankful you recognized me before you strangled me."
"Me too." He stared into her pale gray eyes and thought how much they looked like the smooth surface of a clear lake just as dawn breaks. Her hand rested against his chest and he wondered if she realized she was making little movements with her fingers. What would she do if she slid her fingers to the hard nubs she had made of his nipples?
"Can you get up, or should I call Pa to help?"
"No," he said more sharply than he had intended. "I think I can do it. Give me a minute," he urged. He took another minute to enjoy the soft curves he felt pressed against him. When his body hardened more, he forced himself to move away from the beautiful temptation. He pushed on the floor and raised himself up on one hand and his knees. His arm, tired from supporting him, trembled.
"Um...You'd better move off of me and get back on the pallet before you collapse." She raised her hand to brush aside his hair and feel his cheek with her palm. She laughed softly, but her smile did not reach her eyes. "Besides, if Pa catches us like this, you'll be marrying me in the morning and that would be a great disappointment to the bride you have coming from Norway next spring."
Lars had to laugh despite his pain. "Ya, you right about that." Marrying him was the last thing this beautiful angel of mercy would want. All he did was cause her trouble and more work.
He noticed her lower lip quivering. Shuffling backward on his knees, he worked hard to ignore the fact that one of his knees was between her thighs. As quickly as he could, he pulled himself up to the pallet. Too tired to do other, he lay down.
Lissa rose quickly. She brushed off her skirt and long apron as she moved to the rear of the wagon. "You must be thirsty. Do you feel hungry?" she asked as she poured water into a tin cup from a pitcher.
"Enough to eat a whole steer."
She grinned, holding the cup to his lips. He put his hand over hers to tip it. "That's a good sign. I'll fix you something bland to eat until we're sure you're up to eating more. But you feel all right? And...and things don't look all blurred to you?"
"Just a headache and my shoulder is on fire."
Her breath caught and her smile disappeared in an instant. Her eyes swam with tears.
"What's wrong? What did I say?"