Ten years ago, I was a newly-married, recently-enrolled college freshman with a very sick nephew and no clue how I was going to pay for four years of school. I had big dreams, and none of them included a full-fledged writing career. I was going to complete my college degree and then go to law school, all in the name of assisting mentally ill offenders sentenced to prison. And then I met Clara on a scholarship website.
Like me, she was a college student with big dreams and the willingness to work for it. We disagreed as often as we agreed, but we quickly became friends. Over the next few years, we worked side by side, assisting other college students as they worked diligently to bankroll their own dreams. We wrote. We edited. We spent an ungodly amount of time explaining why it's not okay to bully others just to “win” an argument.
Somewhere along the way, our dreams changed. Clara's goal shifted from teaching history to becoming a parenting coach and counselor, then again to an author coach. Mine shifted from law school to social services. We both decided that maybe publishing a novel or two wouldn't be so bad either. But, if you look closely, little pieces of who we were then still shine through.
When I first read Heir of Elendri, one of the things I loved most was the rich history in Clara's fictional world. The world-building is phenomenal, and the history of the world plays such a big role in shaping her characters, their beliefs, and the direction of the story.
All Over You is my eighth novel, and every single one of them is full of the things I loved when I first met Clara: criminal justice, romance, and mythology. You can find my characters fighting for love in a world full of injustices. Whether they're cops, shapeshifters, or angels…the beliefs that helped shape me are front and center. My characters are struggling to right wrongs, battle demons (be they human or supernatural), and remember who they are when everything around them goes a little crazy.
In All Over You, a cop (Cameron) agrees to help a murder suspect (Ivy) clear her name, only to fall in love with her along the way. Ivy is terrified she's going to ruin Cam's life, but staying away from him is a lot easier said than done when she's falling for him, too. To find their happily ever after, they have to convince Cam's coworkers that she isn't a murderer, find the frightening cyberbully who's framed her for murder, and survive when the truth is finally revealed.
I drew on my education, as well as my time working beside Clara for inspiration for the novel. People can be so cruel to one another online! I learned that lesson ten years ago when Clara and I fought the good fight, trying to teach a brand new generation of college kids that you don't have to bully others to get your way.
I never would have suspected that what I learned then would play such a huge role in my life for so long, but it has. Those experiences stuck with me, and helped me create a story that I think we can all relate to in some way.
Having Clara along for the journey has just been an added bonus. 🙂
Ivy Kendall's only plan for her life was to teach, but then it all fell apart…
When Rory Clark disappears from UCLA after a lengthy online relationship with a “catfish” pretending to be Ivy, the sassy former model turned kindergarten teacher is forced to dive headfirst into the mystery in order to clear her name. The catfishing phenomenon meets good, old-fashioned police work when Cameron Lewis, a bossy San Francisco detective with a dominant streak, offers to help her uncover the awful truth about her stolen identity and Rory's disappearance.They've barely scratched the surface when Ivy is charged with a murder she swears she didn't commit. As the evidence against her piles up and the intense attraction between her and Cameron deepens, Ivy wants nothing more than to lean on the tattooed detective. He's already seen her at her worse. Now she has to find the courage to trust him with her heart. But how can she when she's terrified doing so will ruin his career?Her greatest fear becomes reality when the ugly truth is revealed and their lives come tumbling down around them. Betrayed by the one person she never suspected, Ivy makes a reckless decision that puts her in the sights of a murderer and jeopardizes Cameron's career. He will do whatever it takes to save the woman he loves…even if that means becoming a killer himself.Will he be able to reach her before it's too late, or will Rory's catfish take more than just one life? All Over Youis a completely standalone sister novel to the All Falls Down duo, intended for readers aged 18 and over.
My gaze falls on the papers he's scattered across the top of the desk. I start flipping through them. Most are class notes, each letter small and tightly spaced. One page sticks out from the others, the corner worn as if held often. Even upside down, the writing is familiar.
I tug the paper from the stack and then turn it so it's oriented properly. My throat threatens to close as my gaze scans across the page. It's a song, or a rough draft of one, and it's mine. I know because I wrote it three months ago.
“Cam,” I whisper, completely stunned.
“What is it, kitten?” he asks, glancing up from the book he's thumbing through.
I hold the paper out toward him, my hand trembling. “I wrote this,” I mumble.
He frowns, his gaze moving between me and the piece of paper in my hand. “It's yours?” he asks.
“Someone copied it?”
“No.” I choke on the word.
He must sense my distress because he takes the sheet of paper from me and steers me toward the bed, forcing me to sit. I take a deep breath and then another, trying to calm the nerves suddenly clamoring. My hands are shaking so hard, I have to ball them into fists to still them.
Cam sinks to his knees in front of me. “Talk to me,” he says.
“It's a song I started writing three months ago. I thought I lost it,” I whisper, swallowing in an attempt to work moisture back into my dry mouth. The action doesn't help. “Why is it here?”
“Where did you last see it?”
“At school, maybe?” I shake my head. “I don't remember. I was just messing around after parent-teacher conferences, waiting for some of the other teachers to finish up so we could go out for drinks, and the song came to me, so I jotted down the lyrics. When I looked the next morning, the sheet wasn't in my bag. I figured it must have fallen out at some point.” Clearly, I was wrong because it's here, in Rory's room…the absolute last place it should be.
“Did anyone else know about it?” Cam asks me.
“I don't think so. I never had the chance to show anyone.”
“It's a love song,” he says, his eyes scanning across the page as if he's reading the words.
“Yes.” It is a love song. Or the beginnings of one, anyway. The song is about two people grasping for more without even knowing one another. I started it after reading a novel about two people who meet in a club and throw caution to the wind. Given that I was supposedly in a long distance relationship with Rory at the time I wrote it, it's incriminating as hell, lending credence to the theory that we were dating.
Cam's smart enough to grasp what the song seems to imply without me spelling it out for him. He's silent for a long moment. Too quiet. Unease is painted across his face, hesitation plain in his gray eyes.
“It's not about Rory,” I mumble, my stomach roiling at the look on his face, like he's questioning whether I've been honest with him. Like, maybe, I've been playing him this entire time.
“What?” His gaze darts to mine, his brows furrowed.
“It's not about Rory,” I say again, a little louder this time. “I didn't write this for him or about him.” The words feel like glass in my throat, abrading it. The thought that Cam doubts me is a crushing blow, sucking air from the room. I push to my feet, causing him to stumble back before he catches himself and rises gracefully, like a big cat.
“I didn't write this for him, and I didn't send it to him.” I feel caged in, the walls pressing in on me. In an attempt to ease the panic squeezing air from my lungs, I pace around the small dorm room, taking deep breaths. My heart is racing, pounding so fiercely, I think it's going to beat right out of my chest. “I didn't do this, Cam. I didn't.”
“Kitten, stop.” He tosses the page to the bed and grabs for me, yanking me into him.
My body collides with his. He wraps his arms around me, caging me against his chest. I struggle for a moment, trying to fight my way free of him, but I can't. As always, he's too strong, too big. Too there. And, perhaps for the first time since he met me, he now has a reason to doubt me.
“Let me go,” I cry out, desperate to get away before he says the words out loud and breaks me. I've been so worried about breaking him that I never stopped to consider that he could do the same to me. But he can. He has me, all of me. I think he has since the very beginning. And he can destroy me.
Knowing I can't get away from him unless he lets me go of his own volition, I stop fighting. A whimper breaks from my lips before I can stop it. I shudder in his arms, trying not to completely lose control as the truth crashes over me like a tidal wave.
I'm falling in love with him. And there's absolutely nothing I can do to convince him that I didn't write that damn song for Rory, not when it's here…in his dorm room.Not when it's my writing.
Ayden lives in the heart of Arkansas with her childhood sweetheart/husband of twelve years, and their five furry minions. When not writing, she spends her time hiking, reading, volunteering, causing mischief, and building a Spork army. Ayden graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology in 2009 before going on to complete her graduate degree in CJ and Law. She currently puts her education to use in the social services and CJ field.
Ayden also writes Young and New Adult fantasy under the penname A.K. Morgen.