Home > My Heart Will Find You

My Heart Will Find You
Author: Jude Deveraux



   March 2020

   Henrietta Wilmont was sitting in the Kansas City airport when she first heard of the lockdown.

   She had a while before her connecting flight, so she’d bought a couple of magazines, both about cooking, and she was absorbed in them. She was thinking she’d like to visit Portugal and find out how they make pastel de nata.

   Since her phone was on airplane mode, the text didn’t ding. By the time she looked, there were six texts from her sister, Alicia. Each was headed with all caps words like, “URGENT” and “VITAL.”

   Etta’s heart started pounding. Something awful had happened. To Alicia? Her husband?

   Please no, not their daughter, Nola. Etta took a breath. It had to be their father. She’d left him at home in rural Pennsylvania, alone in that huge house, and he’d fallen down the stairs. It was all her fault.

   With shaking hands, she called Alicia’s number. “What is it?” she whispered.

   “California has been put on lockdown.”

   Etta had no idea what that meant. “Is Nola okay? Phillip? Is...?” She hesitated. “Is it Dad?”

   “Everyone is fine,” Alicia said. “Healthy. And we mean to stay that way.”

   “What does that mean?” Etta’s voice was rising.

   Alicia was a psychologist and was used to dealing with people in crisis. She turned on her calm-and-caring voice and explained that there was a virus running rampant throughout the world. It was attacking older people in particular and was said to be killing them almost instantly. People were being told to have no contact with anyone outside their immediate families. The lockdown would be in place for at least two weeks.

   Etta was so relieved her family was okay that she couldn’t be upset over a bit of isolation.

   “We’ll do it together,” she told her sister. “I’ll show you how to cook something besides pasta and—”

   “You don’t understand. You can’t come here. The borders of the state are closed.”

   “But my plane—” With her phone to her ear, Etta went to the departures board. Her flight had been canceled. There were other flights available, but none to California. “I’ll rent a car and drive. How far is it from KC to LA?”

   “Etta.” Alicia went into her therapist voice. “You can’t come here and you can’t go home. I don’t want you on a plane with lots of other people. You need to stay there. In Kansas.”

   Etta looked around the airport. It wasn’t very big, and she was seeing others who appeared to be as confused as she was. “I can’t stay in the airport for two weeks!”

   Alicia lost her professional tone and became the bossy younger sister. “Go to a hotel! Get one with a restaurant and stay there for as long as this lasts.”

   “Dad needs—”

   “He’s fine. I talked to him. I told him to go to the grocery store immediately and stock up on things, especially frozen foods.”

   “I filled the freezer before I left,” Etta said. “There isn’t room for more.”

   “Then he can get toothpaste and toilet paper. Whatever. The point is he can take care of himself. It’s you I worry about. Who are you going to take care of?”

   Etta laughed. “I’ll find a hotel with a spa and get massages and facials. It’ll be nice.”

   “I hope so. I’m going online now to try to find a place for you to stay. You do the same and call me.”

   “Sure,” Etta said and they clicked off.

   There was an older woman standing next to her, and she turned to Etta. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but you should know that all the cars have been rented. My granddaughter is picking me up and taking me home. I can give you a ride into Kansas City. You can get a hotel there.”

   “Thank you. I’ll call for a reservation.”

   “Uh-oh. I have to go now.” There was urgency in the woman’s voice. She waved to a young, frowning woman who was hurrying toward them. “Sorry, but Rachel has never had any patience. Not even as a child.” She straightened her shoulders as though preparing for a battle and faced her granddaughter. “We’re going to give this woman a ride to a hotel.”

   “I’ll just get my suitcase,” Etta said.

   The young woman looked Etta up and down as though she was the carrier of the disease. “We don’t have room for another suitcase.”

   For the first time, Etta realized the seriousness of what was happening. If California had been shut down, how long before the other states followed? People around them were now moving quickly, and a sense of panic was filling the air. Was she going to miss an opportunity to get transportation because of a suitcase? She had her roller bag and her laptop so she’d be fine.

   “Doesn’t matter,” Etta said. “I’m ready to go.”

   “We can’t—” the young woman began.

   “Rachel, please,” her grandmother said.

   Reluctantly, with a look of threat, Rachel gave a curt nod. “You’ll sit in the back.”

   “Glad it’s not in the trunk,” Etta mumbled and followed them outside. She didn’t say anything on the ride. She didn’t even ask if where they were going had any hotels nearby.

   As they drove, the buildings became taller. It looked like they were going into the city. Good. There’d be more places to stay.

   A text came from Alicia.

   Haven’t found anything yet. Hotels are filling up. Grocery shelves are empty. Rent an apartment if you have to. Do whatever you must.

   They were in a pretty residential area that was a combination of historical buildings and newer places.

   Rachel pulled to the side and stopped the car. “This is as far as we go.”

   “Rachel,” her grandmother said, “take her to a hotel. She’s not from here. She—”

   Rachel’s eyes narrowed. “You haven’t been listening to the news. This disease is killing everyone your age. You are in extreme danger. Every second that you’re exposed to outsiders, your life is in further jeopardy.” She looked in the rearview mirror at Etta with hard eyes.

   “I’ll get out here.” Etta clutched the handle of her roller case, got out, then leaned back in. “Could you point me in the direction of a hotel? I—”

   Rachel drove away so fast that Etta had to leap back to avoid being hit by the open door. It shut as the car sped away too quickly for the residential area.

   Etta was standing on a sidewalk in a city she’d never seen before. So now what should she do?

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