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love in the shadows

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By Agus Arief RahmanPublished about a month ago 3 min read

**Love in the Shadows**

It was a rainy Tuesday evening when Alex first noticed her. He was huddled under the awning of his favorite coffee shop, watching the city’s rush hour unfold like a chaotic dance. People were darting between puddles, clutching their umbrellas against the wind, and somewhere in that gray blur, she stood out.

She didn’t have an umbrella and didn’t seem to mind the rain, which was strange in itself. Her dark hair was plastered to her face, but she walked with such purpose that Alex couldn’t take his eyes off her. She paused briefly under a streetlamp, the golden light casting long shadows on the wet pavement, and then she disappeared into the alleyway beside the coffee shop.

Curiosity got the best of him. He had to know where she was going. The barista handed him his coffee with a curious look as he bolted out the door, clutching his cup to his chest. The rain soaked through his jacket immediately, but he didn’t care. He just followed.

The alley was darker than he expected, the light from the street barely reaching its depths. He could hear her footsteps echoing ahead and quickened his pace. When he finally saw her again, she was standing in front of a small, unmarked door, fiddling with a set of keys.

“Hey!” Alex called out, louder than he intended. She jumped, dropping the keys. They clattered to the ground, and she spun around, eyes wide.

“Sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said, taking a step back and raising his hands as if to show he was harmless. “I just... saw you from the coffee shop. You seemed...”

“Suspicious?” she offered, one eyebrow arched.

“Interesting,” Alex corrected, with a smile. “I was just wondering where you were going.”

For a moment, she seemed to consider him. Then, a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “You’re not going to believe me.”

“Try me,” he challenged.

She hesitated but then nodded toward the door. “It’s a speakeasy. You know, a secret bar. You have to know about it to find it.”

Alex’s eyebrows shot up. “In this day and age?”

“Yep,” she said, her smile growing. “Want to see?”

He nodded, more eager than he wanted to admit. She picked up her keys, unlocked the door, and they stepped inside. The contrast was jarring; one moment, they were in a damp, dark alley, and the next, they were bathed in the warm glow of low lights and soft jazz music. The air smelled of aged whiskey and leather, and there was a sense of time slipping away, replaced by a timeless atmosphere.

“I’m Lila, by the way,” she said, leading him to a small table near the back.

“Alex,” he replied, shaking off his damp jacket and sitting across from her. “How did you find this place?”

Lila leaned back in her chair, fingers tapping rhythmically on the table. “I work nearby. A friend told me about it. It’s where I come to unwind after a long day.”

Alex glanced around, taking in the cozy, intimate space. “It’s incredible. Like stepping back in time.”

She nodded. “That’s why I love it. You can hide from the world here. Just for a little while.”

They talked for hours, the conversation flowing as easily as the drinks the discreet bartender brought them. Alex learned that Lila was a writer, always searching for inspiration in the city’s hidden corners. She had a knack for finding beauty in the overlooked and the forgotten.

As the night deepened, the crowd in the bar thinned, and the shadows lengthened. Alex felt a connection with Lila that he couldn’t quite explain. It was as if they’d known each other for years, not hours.

Finally, the bartender gently reminded them that closing time was approaching. Reluctantly, they stood and made their way back to the alley. The rain had stopped, leaving the city washed clean under the dim glow of the streetlights.

“Thanks for showing me this place,” Alex said, shoving his hands into his pockets, suddenly unsure of himself.

Lila smiled. “Anytime. Maybe we’ll run into each other again.”

“I’d like that,” he said, meaning it more than he expected.

She nodded, turning to leave. “Goodnight, Alex.”

“Goodnight, Lila.”

He watched her walk away, her figure dissolving into the shadows of the city. As he turned back toward the coffee shop, he couldn’t help but feel that their paths would cross again. After all, in a city full of secrets, sometimes the best stories begin in the shadows.

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    AARWritten by Agus Arief Rahman

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