About Thickness of Blood
George is obsessed with finding the man who raped his daughter.
Searching the southern states in the 1970s, he tracks down James but
also finds Lila, another girl victimized by his daughter’s rapist.
George holds himself responsible for not getting there sooner, not
preventing Lila from becoming pregnant at fifteen and exiled by her
family. Unable to abandon her, George gives Lila a new home, a new
family. In the process, they both discover that some ties are thicker
Thickness of Blood
Lila nearly fell off her chair when a hand touched her elbow on the table. Really, she was on her own only hours and she’d forgotten all her etiquette. Setting the toast down, she met George’s brown eyes and licked crumbs from her lips.
He looked uncomfortable. “Do you … Do you know what you plan to do now, Lila?”
She felt her throat tighten. He knew she wasn’t going home, but she hadn’t told him she couldn’t. The truth was that she had no idea what to do next. She had a vague idea to go to another city, maybe as far as Nashville, and try to find work. That would mean living in the street, not the hardest thing at this time of year, she expected, but she didn’t have the faintest idea how or where to start. She’d never had to take care of herself before.
“No,” she answered honestly, breaking eye contact to look at and turn her toast with a finger. “I thought I’d go somewhere else. Start new.”
His smile, soft before, broadened now. “I think that’s a good idea. Are you particular where you go?” The smile slid a little, something else in his eyes now, worry? Fear?
She shook her head. “No. My first thought was Nashville, but I’m not picky at all. I can’t go to family,” she muttered, picking up the toast to cover her hands shaking in anger. Her eyes met his. “You know, don’t you?”
“About a possible baby?” he said, cocking his head to one side. “About being kicked out of your house? Yes, Lila. Grace gets word fast, and she heard that this was likely to happen, if …” he broke off. Smile gone completely now, a growl entered his voice, “If James had defiled you. I swear, Lila, if I had known this would happen …” He covered his eyes with one of his hands and his broad shoulders slumped.
He’d only been kind to her, this strange man. Showing her more care and love than anyone she had known before, she felt the overwhelming need to comfort him now. She stood, her chair scraping on the wood floor, and rounded the table to put her arms around his shoulders, hands barely meeting on the far one. He lifted one hand to touch her elbow, and she thought she heard him sob.
“George?” she asked. She had never seen a man cry before.
“He got you, Lila. I shouldn’t have been the only one looking for him. If I’d told someone …” he cried again, and this time Lila saw the tear fall.
“He didn’t hurt me, George. He just left me,” she tried to explain.
“Lila, you didn’t want what he did to you, did you?” he asked, turning those sorrowful eyes to her. “You didn’t chase him, did you?” His lip trembled a little.
Her throat caught, remember that first day, a year ago. He had definitely been chasing. “No,” she answered in a whisper.
George’s chair scraped as he pushed it out from the table. He put an arm around her waist and hugged her back. “Neither did Daphne.”