Title: DARK CIRCLES
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 95,000
In seventeen-year-old Rachel's world, casting magic on another person is more intimate than a kiss: if you're not sure how you feel, the spell won't work.
As they plummet from the highest tower in the city, tumbling through the rushing air, Rachel's losing her grip on Stefan Hart -- the man who rescued her from prison, who she saved from agonising death, the man who forced her to oppose a deadly cabal of magicians -- and her spells aren't working.
She needs to decide how she feels about him. Before they hit the ground.
The stink of smoke and decaying leather. A dark sky low over empty fields. I sat in the dull compartment, knees together, gloved hands in my lap, and managed not to cry.
Dania's dead, the train chattered. Dania's dead, Dania's dead, Dania's dead.
It didn't say I'd killed her, but enough people were saying that already.
They came at breakfast time: two members of the University Guardia in their grey coats. The older one raised the seal of the Chancellor so we could all see it.
"Rachel Aeyrs, please come with us."
Ella, who'd opened the door, didn't meet my eyes. Dittany stared at the seal, her mouth open. Neither of them spoke. I stood, my legs uncertain beneath me, smoothed my skirt to hide the trembling of my hands.
The younger guard frowned. "Dr Aeyrs?" He glanced at Ella and back at me, clearly expecting someone older.
"I'm Dr Aeyrs," I said, pleased by how calm my voice was. "Ella, you'll need to unlock the lab." I passed her the key chain I wore around my waist, and let the Guardia take me to the Circle Room.
Five people -- all professors -- sat behind the long table. I was relieved to see Professor Samson, but when I looked at him, he looked away. Professor Napier, in the centre, frowned until I sat down.
"The student died, is that correct?"