4. The problem with red flags is that I'm attracted to them

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ZARA

I wasn't sure what to make of Blaze's sudden change of heart. One moment, he was ready to hand me over to the Zodiac Council, and the next, he was inviting me to join forces with him.

My heart thudded as I slowly allowed myself to believe that he could actually be on my side. He was a Zodiac, no less, yet he was still willing to give me the benefit of the doubt.

"Time to catch a killer, dimples," he declared with a devilish glint in his eye.

I stared at him, my thoughts racing as I tried to process that he could be on my side. I had just told him that the killer was a Zodiac, and he had taken it in stride. And now he wanted to team up with me?

It was almost too good to be true.

I had no idea what his motivation was, but despite my reservations, I knew this was an opportunity that I had to take. I had to find out who was responsible for Zephyr's death, and I had a feeling that Blaze could help me to do that. Either way, I knew one thing for sure–I was in too deep now to turn away.

As I looked at Blaze's tall, lean frame, I couldn't help but feel drawn to him. His intense gaze threatened to reveal all my secrets, but there was an air of confidence that clung to him like a second skin, making him both intimidating and alluring. In spite of my better judgement, I had to admit that he was attractive.

He was also the kind of person I knew it was wiser to avoid. Everything about him was a red flag. Hell, everything about this situation was one red flag after another. But the problem with red flags was that I was attracted to them—after all, that was how I ended up in this realm. Dive first, think later.

You never learn, Zara.

Yet, a bad decision or not, this time I had no choice. I had to rely on Blaze's help to get to the bottom of Zephyr's murder, and I had to trust him with my life, no matter how much it irked me.

Still, the prospect of finally having an ally on this journey filled me with excitement. Blaze was a powerful Zodiac, and his knowledge of the Starfall and the Council were going to be invaluable. Plus, I couldn't help but be intrigued by his mysterious fire powers.

That didn't mean I wasn't wary. "What do you need from me?"

He leaned against the wall, his arms crossed and his gaze razor-sharp. "Tell me what you know about the murder."

Taking a deep breath, I recounted every detail of the day, from Zephyr's return from the Council to discovering him dead, to my desperate attempt to flee for my life. Blaze watched me intently, his face an unreadable mask, yet I could tell he was paying close attention to every detail I mentioned.

When I finished, the room grew deathly still as Blaze began pacing. His expression was stern and his frown was fierce, as though the answer was written on the surrounding walls.

"If what you say is true, then it's likely the killer used lunar venom," he murmured.

"Lunar venom? What's that?"

"It's a very powerful and dangerous type of dark magic, made using moonstone and the light of a full moon to amplify its strength. It has the power to disrupt and even drain elemental magic... and kill a Zodiac."

"So, what's the plan?" I asked, my voice trembling with urgency, hoping he had some sort of strategy in mind.

He let out a sigh, his lips pressed into a thin line. "We need to figure out who could have had access to lunar venom," he said. His tone was low, with a ferocity to it, clearly determined to get to the bottom of this.

My mind was already considering the possible ways to do that. "We should start by interrogating the members of the Council. Someone must have wanted him dead."

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