<![CDATA[Susan Haught, Author - Haught, INK]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:23:07 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Cheaper than a Divorce...]]>Sun, 26 Mar 2017 22:51:55 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/cheaper-than-a-divorcePicture
Last summer I came face to face with a huge dilemma: My writing space had been invaded by an alien—the dreaded non-writer husband.

Writers need our own space. It’s a right of passage. A given. An essential part of this crazy puzzle we call writing. Whether it’s a corner in a bedroom, the office den, or a special seat at Starbucks, we need a space for our creativity to come alive. One writer I know uses a vacant closet. I can’t feature a closet with nothing in it, but whatever works, right?

My DH (darling husband) retired last May. I was worried about him going bonkers (he's used to thirty fifth-graders vying for his attention). I needn't have worried--he adjusted quite nicely. I didn't. This man doesn't know how

to whisper to the dog, the TV, or himself. Perhaps it’s from years of teaching, but his “inside” voice is equivalent to a cheerleader with a megaphone. He’s a smart cookie, but somewhere along the line he forgot the meaning of “Do Not Disturb” even when there’s a sign on the door of our home office that says, “Writer at Work—Do Not Enter Unless You’re Tall, Dark, and Handsome”. What part of this statement does he not understand? One day while in my writing “bubble”, he opened the French doors (both tightly closed with said warning attached), whispered he wasn't going to disturb me, tiptoed across the den and stuffed a handful of documents in the shredder.

I was done playing nice.

I’m not opposed to throwing tantrums when it comes to my writing time, and I pitched a doozy. Poor guy gaped at me like I’d lost my mind, which probably wasn’t far from the truth. Besides, it worked. He asked me to think about what we could do about it (bless his heart) and he’d try to make it happen. However, he did say he was against a laryngectomy, shock collars, going back to work (darn) or moving out, although those thoughts had crossed my mind. After forty-two years together, a little “space” was a viable option. Then it hit me. Space. Not a man-cave, but a she-shed. I had seen them on the internet: backyard sheds turned into a special place for a variety of activities—from a gardener’s potting haven, a knitters cozy yarn shop, a crafter’s hobby room, to a quiet miniature library to read.

Why not a writing space?

When I approached him with the idea, he nodded enthusiastically and said he liked the idea, and mumbled something about it adding home value and being a hunk cheaper than a divorce. 

The Tuff-Shed was delivered, erected, and ready to finish the inside. My DH enlisted the help of our neighbor and by my birthday in late October, I had my own writing cave, complete with Wi-Fi, heating & cooling, bookshelves that cover one wall, a coffee, tea & wine bar, a comfy reading chair, and a writing desk with a 27" additional monitor. I chose to decorate my space in a beach theme and nicknamed it “No Boyz Allowed”, and gave strict instructions as to what that meant. Unless blood is gushing from a main artery or the house is being consumed by fire, do not disturb means--No visits. No texts. No email. Zero interruptions. Period. He’s a boy. He’s not allowed.
I love my quiet little beach getaway, especially when it’s raining or snowing. There’s nothing better than the patter of rain on the roof, or the stillness of falling snow. And I truly do love my husband despite the devious thought I wish he’d signed just one more teaching contract. 

He’s very proud of his accomplishment. I am too. He’s a teacher, not a carpenter, and for him to go the lengths he did to provide me a special space speaks louder than words ever could. My writing space “puzzle” may be a bit frayed around the edges, but it’s not missing any pieces. It’s a soothing, comfortable, quiet retreat, and my DH hasn’t found my stash of wine. Or chocolate. Double WIN! And to top it off, we celebrated our forty-third anniversary in December, our marriage intact. Mission accomplished.  

All is well at the “No Boyz Allowed” beach cottage/writing cave. Now, if it had a bathroom—well, that’s a tantrum for another day.

Wishing you rainbows of happiness & wishes come true for 2017 and beyond.Happy Reading, Happy Writing, 

<![CDATA[A Sense of Fall Magic]]>Tue, 20 Sep 2016 19:57:04 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/a-sense-of-magic-in-fallPicture
The leaf showed up at my feet, not by the wind, not by human hands, but almost by magic. My grandpuppy, Ryleigh, dropped it at my feet. 

Ryleigh is constantly flinging her toys at our feet, so at first I wasn't paying attention. But when I saw what she'd left for me, my stomach did a little jittery thing. After all, it's been eleven years. I wonder if Ryleigh knew? Did she sense the magic of fall? Of family? The connection? 

The leaf is from our Autumn Fantasy maple we planted in October of 2005 in honor of my mom who passed away on October 16 of that year. My mother

lived in Greeley, Colorado, and one week before she passed, I wheeled her around the nursing home despite her not wanting to go. I thought it would do her good to get some fresh air. She didn't say much on the walk, but as we headed back she sighed and said, "This is God's paintbrush at work, Susan. Isn't it lovely?" More concerned for the welfare of Mom, I hadn't really noticed, but when I did, my breath caught. The entire grounds were ablaze with fall colors, mats of gorgeous leaves on the ground, the crisp scent of musty leaves, and the dampness of recent rain. I put my hand to her shoulder, and she placed hers on mine.

No words were needed. My mother was my gift from God, and I'm sure I was hers. And he'd painted a beautiful landscape for us to share one last time. One week later, my mother left to take her place by His side. No more emphysema. No more COPD. No more pain. 

Every spring when the Autumn Fantasy bursts forth with new life, I'm reminded of the promise of tomorrow. And every year when it bursts forth in its brilliant colors, I'm reminded of her.

I love you, Mom--always the angel on my shoulder. 

Until we meet again--
Happy Autumn,
<![CDATA[Letting Go...]]>Thu, 21 Apr 2016 18:25:10 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/may-02nd-2016Picture
I let his fingers slip from mine.

His lower lip trembled and tears filled his eyes. He begged me not to leave him, but I knew I had to before I lost it too. The door to his kindergarten class closed and God how I wanted to turn around and drag him away, back to me, back home where he belonged. 

I don't remember walking to the car or starting the engine, but I do remember I cried all the way home. Later, my son came home with a brilliant smile and handed me a crazy Crayola picture. Through my tears

I couldn't make out what it was, but it was beautiful. Simply beautiful, just like him. And in that moment I knew he'd be okay, and I would be too. Thank you, Mrs. Stevens, for making his first day a pleasant one--for him and me.

If we love someone, we learn to let them go, even if they're only five years old on their first day of Kindergarten or their first time on a bike without training wheels. Though the circumstances are different, the ache of loss is the same whether you're facing the end of a shattered relationship, or holding the hand of a loved one whose time is at an end.

Letting go never gets any easier. 

Leaving my son that first day of kindergarten nearly broke my heart, but the day we left him for college seemed far worse. We'd had him for eighteen years. Letting go meant our time apart would stretch from hours to weeks, and that nearly ripped my heart out. I couldn't do it. But I did. And when he graduated from Arizona State at twenty-two and left to start his career hundreds of miles away in Los Angeles, I wanted to crumble into a little ball and disappear at the thought of not seeing him for months at a time. 

Every time I let go, it's that same sinking feeling, as if you're letting go on that first day of kindergarten. Being a parent isn't for the faint of heart. No, it never gets easier each time his fingers slip from mine.

Until next time, 
Happy Reading~
<![CDATA[A Ticket to Fear]]>Thu, 15 Oct 2015 20:41:23 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/a-ticket-to-fearPicture
I never win anything. Ever. I donate my money to worthy causes and someone else takes home the loot. I know this, and I'm okay with it. 
So, when Orly announced my name at the Women's Fiction Writers Association Retreat as the winner of the critique from agent Carly Watters of PS Literary, I almost wet pants. And then I panicked. And stalled. For two weeks.

A writer's biggest obstacle is fear. Fear no one will read their work. Fear they will, and hate it. Fear it's not

worthy of publication. Fear of criticism. Fear they don't measure up, or their story is crap. And even the fear of success. It's an ominous demon, one I allowed to rule every thought since winning the critique. I became the perfect hostess to this uninvited guest, and boy did he take advantage--following my every move, breathing down my neck, and turning my stomach inside out. 
My work in progress (WIP) was ready, and I knew it. But I couldn't push my fear aside long enough to think clearly. Everything else seemed much more important--until I ran out of excuses. Then I really panicked, knowing I had to face this demon head-on. And I had to do it NOW! 

After several false starts (lunch, reheating my coffee, a snack, the dog needed feeding and a delivery at the door) I finally buckled down. It didn't take long for me to become immersed in the story again once I decided to ignore the incessant tapping of a grotesque demon on my shoulder. 

I love my story. I love my characters. And this time, I refused to give in.
I made a few minor changes to the first chapter of A Promise of Fireflies, polished it for errors, tidied up the synopsis, held my breath and hit the send button. 
Swoosh. Gone. 
Oh crap...I think I'm going to hurl.    
Definitely beer time. 

Until next time, 
Happy Reading~

Busy Woman image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Woman Hiding behind Computer courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Redd's Apple Ale image courtesy of Miller Brewing
<![CDATA[Loving a Soldier...]]>Sun, 25 Jan 2015 23:14:25 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/loving-a-soldierPicture
I knew that look.

Wave after wave of cold gooseflesh shivered over my skin, then settled as a sort of squeamish feeling in the pit of my stomach—one I couldn’t describe as dread, but not exactly fear either. But the feeling was as distinct and as sharp as I’d experienced over thirty years ago. 

A few nights ago my husband and I ventured to the movie theatre, a rare treat as he

isn’t big on going “out” to the movies. It was Friday, and although Friday is my one day alone to write, I jumped at the chance. Besides, everyone was raving about the movie we chose to see and I’m a huge Bradley Cooper fan. 

I knew there’d be scenes that would be hard to watch and it didn’t take long for tension to sizzle through the theatre as if an exposed electrical wire snaked its way along the backs of the seats. My heart thudded. My limbs trembled. And several times I had to force myself to take a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. Intense isn’t gritty enough to describe the atmosphere across the sea of faces. 

And then the soldier came home. To safety. And you’d think to the normalcy of home. But to Chris Kyle, home was the foreign field. He’d been trained to listen, to feel, see, smell, even taste the enemy. When seconds mean the difference between life and death, when shadows come alive and turn deadly, and when nothing seems to be what it is, instinct takes over and it’s hard—if not impossible—to turn those instincts off, to block them out. 

I know. I’ve seen it first hand. 

Chris Kyle sat in front of a television set staring at nothing, yet the scenes played out in his mind as if he sat in the deserts of Iraq in the midst of war. When he looked at his wife, my blood ran cold—for that look was the same one my husband gave me some thirty years ago. 

Distant. Blank. Cold. Unseeing. 

I can’t begin to explain how disquieting that look can be. Yes, both men were there in body, but not completely whole. Somewhere along the way, they left something behind. My husband never went to war. He merely trained for it. That’s what the military does. Yet he came home from Basic Training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) missing something—a tiny piece of his soul I’d seen every day when he looked at me through eyes I knew so well—eyes that had been trained to see something entirely different now.

My husband and Chris Kyle have absolutely nothing in common except their age at enlistment, their deep sense of duty and patriotism—a love and pride for their country few people feel so deeply. Through this movie, we’re asked to witness, to “feel” the cost of serving, and you could have heard a pin drop through its entirety, the silence a heavy weight as acute as any words. This isn’t a movie about war—it’s a movie about the man who served, and we see a glimpse of him through Cooper’s portrayal, yet what’s brought to the screen is a mere speck of what lived inside his head. Over the years, my husband returned to his old self. We were lucky. Some never do.  

Few words were exchanged after the movie. I knew what my husband was thinking without his ever saying a word. He didn’t have to. Though my memories of that time are somewhat different than his, I do remember. Vividly.  

And the only thing as difficult as being a soldier—is loving one. 

The movie is over, Chris. Time to truly come home. 
Rest in peace (1974-2013) 


Photo courtesy of 
American Sniper (2014) - IMDbwww.imdb.com
<![CDATA[Vicious Circles]]>Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:58:30 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/vicious-circlesPicture
The following 2,800 word short story placed as a "short-listed" finalist in the Writer's Village International Short Story Contest, Summer 2014. 
The story is an excerpt (revised to fit contest guidelines) from Dragonflies, a full-length work-in-progress and deals with the harrowing cycle of abuse, duplicity and possessiveness abused women often find impossible to break free of, as in the case of Alexandra (Zan) one of the three main female characters in Dragonflies:

Vicious Circles:
A short puff of breath chuffed from her lungs. She drew in another and held it. Still, the bed sheet trembled like the flutter of leaves on a quaking aspen against

her bare skin. 
     Footsteps tapped across the hardwood floors from the kitchen to the rear door. Twenty-three. Twenty-four. Twenty-five confident Gucci strides. Always Gucci on Wednesday. Never Prada or Mauri. He switched Italian leather shoes as often as he did women. 
     The door closed with a soft click, and the Audi thrummed to life. After a moment’s pause the drone of the engine faded, the garage door groaned then thumped against the concrete. The purr of silence steeped through the empty stillness.
     She allowed herself to relax and take in a full breath.  
   Zan squeezed her eyes and swallowed through the thick paste stuck to her throat. A black and white image formed behind her eyes like the negative from an old photograph, and for a moment—a shadow of memory—the other side of Nic Peretti stared back at her. The shiny side. The one she’d fallen in love with. And trusted. The longing for what once had been spilled warmly from her eyes.
     Zan eased the sheet from her naked body and lowered her legs over the side of the bed. She reached under a heap of blankets to pet her little dog, and stared curiously at her wrists as her fingers stroked Lexi’s head. Dark bracelets of reddened skin circled the slender wrists. As if examining a foreign object, she turned her hands over, wincing as she caressed each one in turn between breasts, the bare skin a cooling balm. She rose and took a step. Air hissed through her teeth as raw pain throbbed between her legs, a bitter companion to the souvenir around her wrists. Forcing the tacit reminders to the back of her mind, she walked discreetly to the bathroom. 
     Fully dressed in workout clothes, she cinched her Brooks with a symmetrical knot and pulled a pair of pink Nike wristbands over her wrists, the soft cloth soothing as it embraced the inflamed skin. With a quick twist, she pulled long, patent leather hair into a tight ponytail and hurried to the kitchen, the little Shih Tzu at her heels. She paused. Her usual half of a plain bagel had been smeared with a thin layer of peanut butter. She tapped the counter with a manicured nail at the rarity. 
     “Why peanut butter today, Lexi?” Lexi’s ears perked, big brown eyes anxious. Zan shoved another bite into her mouth and washed it down with orange juice, precisely measured with enough ice cubes to imitate a full glass. A frown crept between her eyes. “Why’d he bother? It’s so thin it looks like baby poop.” She fed the little dog the last bite of roll. “I’m late, Lexi Girl,” she said, ruffling the little dog’s head. She blew Lexi a kiss and left for the gym, pausing at the hall mirror to wipe her eyes of the remnants of a shadowed night. 
     Zan jogged through the doors of Il Salotto Med Spa of Scottsdale fifteen minutes late and spotted Carmine pacing through the ellipticals, his face locked in hard concentration. Their eyes met briefly. He pulled his cell phone from his front pocket, spoke quickly, then stuffed the phone back in his pocket. Puzzled by his demeanor, Zan slowed.
    Carmine acknowledged her with a wave and despite the towel wrapped around taut shoulders, he wiped beads of sweat from his brow with a sleeve stretched around a mountain of biceps. She’d been late before, but it hadn’t caused him so much as a ripple of uneasiness. 
     A simulated smile curled her mouth. “Sorry I’m late Carmine, but I failed miserably navigating a new short cut and got caught in traffic anyway,” she said, swallowing the lie. 
     “Let’s get started.” His jaw tensed. “And don’t take short cuts. Ever.”
      A pause lengthened between them as she digested the words. “Are you all right?”
         “You need to warm up. And weigh in.” He checked his watch.
      “I don’t want to warm up!” She threw one leg over the nearest weight bench and sat, arms crossed defiantly. “What the hell is wrong with you today?”
       “God, Zan,” he hesitated, raking his hand through a thick copse of dark, damp hair, “you’ve got to get moving. Nic…” Carmine pushed the towel over his face as if to wipe away whatever questions sparked between them. “Let’s go.”
     Color drained from his face. “Zan, please.”
   “Or what?” She straightened. “What are you going to do if I refuse?”
     The corrosive nature of her own question startled her, and surprise froze on Carmine’s face, her intent to extract the truth mistaken for brashness. Carmine deserved better. Nic had arranged for him to train her, and once an athlete himself, he’d made it perfectly clear a toned wife pleased him. Carmine had busted his butt (and hers) to make it happen. 
       She raised an eyebrow.
       “It’s not me I’m concerned about.”
     She stood. “What’s that supposed to mean?” She inched closer, the spontaneous bravery moments from failing. “Who then? Me?” Her legs threatened to collapse beneath her. “Who’d you call, Carmine? What’d he want?”
       “Don’t ask,” he cautioned, “it’s none of your business.”
   Zan closed the distance between them. “When it concerns my husband,” she said, poking a finger into her chest, “it is my business.” 
      “Please. Just do your workout.”
      “Not until you tell me what Nic said.”
   The thin line of his lips parted, then pressed together as if guarding the truth. Tension fueled his muscles, but the storm left his eyes. 
    The calloused hard body softened. Beneath the Goliath surface, one muscle resisted the vigorous workouts. A curly redheaded four-year-old had once unzipped the tough guy armor and compassion had softened the battle gray eyes. Those same eyes locked with hers today. Zan pounced on the loose thread and prayed he’d unravel.
       Carmine visibly relaxed. “I called Nic.”
       “That much was obvious. What’d he want?
    He met her eyes with a momentary pause, the cadence of footfalls and whir of treadmill motors creating a buffered wall around them. “Okay.” He threw up his hands. “He’s shadowing you.” His Adam’s apple bobbed with each word.
       “That’s nothing new.”
      “You don’t get it, Zan. This is crazy shit. Stalking is more like it. I have to check in with him when you get here and when you leave.”
        Disbelief soured her spit. 
       Carmine lowered his eyes and picked at an imaginary nick in the gym floor with the toe of his Nike’s. “I didn’t want any part of this Zan, but God he can be persuasive.”
        She lowered her eyes. “You have no idea.”
     “He installed some sort of high tech GPS on your car bumper. Tracks routes, times. Has access twenty-four-seven.”
        Zan exhaled loudly. “Nothing but the best for my Nic.”
       The veins in his neck bulged. “It’s a fucking invasion of privacy!” 
        She shrugged. 
      “Said he’d know if I lied to him,” he said with an overexaggerated swallow, “and insinuated I’d be sorry if I didn’t play along.” An abrupt survey of the gym brought his eyes back to her. “I have a daughter, Zan.” Carmine took her arm, his brow furrowed. “Who is this guy you’re married to?”
       “I don’t know anymore.” Zan swallowed the bile rising in her throat. “He’s…different,” she said, her hands falling to her side, “he’s got a lot on his mind with this international merger.” 
       “You can make excuses for him Zan, but it’s still wrong. You’re his puppet, and the fucking devil’s pulling all the strings.”
     Bitter realization stung her eyes as she grabbed her things. “Thanks for telling me the truth,” she said, blinking back tears. “He’ll never know you told me. You have my word.” She forced a smile and gripped his forearm in an unspoken pact. “Call him. Tell him I wasn’t feeling well and left early.”
      “Be careful, Zan.” Carmine cupped her cheek and acknowledged the agreement with a restrained nod. “I don’t trust him.”
    Alexandra Peretti set her shoulders and left the gym, exaggerated strides waning as uneasiness mounted. She’d settled into Nic’s generous lifestyle as easily as a sailboat rides a steady current. Pinpointing exactly when things had changed was impossible. Was it the first time he chose her meals? Her clothes? When the name Alexandra wasn’t good enough? Or last night?
       He called her Zan. Exotic, he’d said. Narcissistic, she’d groaned and they’d laughed. He’d taken her right then, aroused by the mere whisper of the exotic name. Ten years later, he chose intensity over intimacy. Rarely, if ever, was he amused. 
       She approached the X5, stooped and reached behind the bumper. Her chin dropped to her chest and she shook her head to dispel the ridiculous idea of some sci-fi tracking device attached to her car. Surely Carmine was mistaken. 
       Zan settled herself into the BMW’s leather seat and turned onto Scottsdale Road, her thoughts a cocktail of confusion and doubt. Her body tensed, a shield against the truth of what she must do.

                                                * * *

      Nic Peretti placed himself above foolishness, but in a moment of mental amnesia, he’d lowered his guard and the angst of reckless stupidity tormented him. He paced the floor of his Phoenix office suite, tan Armani jacket pulled back behind hands planted firmly on his hips. He plowed a hand through thick, dark hair as disheveled as his tie, and kicked at nothing but air.
     Blame could be placed on too much whiskey and the preoccupation with his first international merger. Or maybe the blame was hers. Or the sex. God, he’d wanted her the instant waves of dark hair spilled over her bare shoulders, down her back and through his fingers like honey-scented strands of silk. Hungry eyes stroked her endless legs from the tops of her flawless thighs to the strappy heels she’d worn—the black ‘come fuck me’ shoes. She’d consumed him with her perfection—a rough-cut diamond transformed into a brilliant Marquis solitaire—ten years in the making. A flawless merger of time and perfection. 
        But he’d carelessly allowed lust to dictate his actions. He knew the rules. They’d made it clear from the day he’d become a partner. Whores tended nights of reckless abandon—not the wife of a Kimberly-Denton-Peretti partner. 
        Unfamiliar with the ugly pangs of self-doubt, Nic grappled with the insecurity of his misadventure. Hell, wasn’t he an artful genius with business proposals? He perfected every angle of financial chicanery necessary to deliver a packaged deal sweet enough for the palettes of any company’s governing board, but last night’s mindless blunder needed favor before the cancerous tumor spread.
      The fine lines of thirty-six years dug furrows across Nic’s brow. He straightened his tie, and with the movement reminiscent of his football days, swung the office doors wide open. Waving off a sputtering assistant, he left the nineteenth floor of Kimberly-Denton-Peretti.
     Nic pulled to a stop from the underground parking garage and paused for a break in Central Avenue traffic. The tires squealed as he grabbed the first gap and engaged the Bluetooth.
      Angelo answered on the second ring. “Hey Nic, what’s hangin’ big guy?” he said, smacking his lips. 
       Nic bristled. “Got a job for you.”
     “Sure buddy,” Angelo mumbled, his mouth obviously crammed with some artery clogging poison.
     “I’ll be there in twenty minutes.” A visit to the repulsive man-toad was necessary. Liking it wasn’t.
     Nic entered the landfill Angelo called an office five minutes sooner than expected. One misplaced fat cell from genius, Angelo wallowed in digital filth and chose to park his overabundant ass behind a computer screen. 
       Angelo’s eyes disappeared into the folds of a broad smile. “Whoa, buddy,” he said, sucking bits of tuna from sausage-like fingers, “you’re way early.”
       “By the time you wipe that shitty grin off your face and clean the crap out of your teeth, I’ll be right on time.” Nic checked his Rolex. “You’ve got two minutes.”
         Angelo shimmied into his computer chair, poked a stick of gum in his mouth and swiveled around—a hairless toad who hacked computers and pissed people off. The digital hit-man triggered Nic’s inner radar into high alert—the sole reason he’d remained an anonymous number on his payroll. 
       “Okay, dude. I’m all ears.”
       “How fast can you get me the data from her computer, iPhone and the Beemer?”
        “How soon ya need it?”
        “Anything particular?”
        “Everything. Shopping sites. Travel.”
         Fat fingers clicked the keyboard. “Got lady troubles, do we?”
       Nic slapped his hands on the counter and leaned forward. “Shut it, you little prick.” Air hissed through flared nostrils. “Send the info to my personal iPhone. You’ve got the number,” he said with painful restraint. If the repulsive man-toad had been within reach, he’d have chosen a more persuasive message, preferably with a wad of his shirt twisted in his hands three inches from his bulbous face. 
         “Sure, big guy. I didn’t mean anything—”
        “I pay you more money than your sorry ass is worth to keep your mouth shut and ask no questions. Got it?”
        “Sure thing, buddy,” he croaked, tapping away. “Couple of hours max.”
       Nic leaned over the monitor. “And I’m not your ‘dude’, your ‘big guy’ or your fucking ‘buddy’.” 
          Angelo raised his hands. “Sure. No problem, Nic.”
        Nic slapped the monitor before the man-toad could piss him off any further, shoved the door with both hands and left, the blast of winter air a cool salve on simmering nerves.

                                                 * * *

     Zan brushed bronzer over her cheeks, more to please Nic and calm her nerves than to hide any non-existent flaws on what Nic referred to as perfect, porcelain skin. A spritz of Coach perfume between store-bought cleavage and like most conquests in Nic’s flawless world, she was primed and ready. 
      She adjusted the swooping folds of material draped from a single shoulder, smoothed the lines of the deep blue sequined gown and entered the living room at the precise time the groan of the garage door announced his arrival. She inhaled a long, deep breath and smoothed the waves of dark hair over the bare shoulder, then placed four small, crystal clear ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass and several in another. Over the four she poured enough Crown Royal XR to cover the ice plus exactly one finger more. The ice tinkled as she poured herself two shots of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and added a splash of Diet Coke; her rendition of the simulated courage needed to implement the first leg of her plan and steady her trembling hands. 
       Nic’s footfalls grew louder and his voice more demanding as he approached through the hallway. She raised her glass to air. Welcome home. 
    “Take care of it before morning,” he barked at someone he obviously considered a moron. Zan sipped her drink, the spicy warmth surging through her limbs. Nic rounded the corner into the living room, smiled and laced an arm around her waist. She forced a smile and against her own inclination, leaned into his touch.
          "My Crown ready?” 
       “Of course.” Zan handed him the drink. Their eyes met. Dark discs of cold distance melted into medallions of warm chocolate. No. She lowered her lashes. “Dinner’s almost ready. Salmon. I thought we could eat in tonight.”
       “Perfect.” He took a long drink and set both their glasses aside. “I’ve missed you,” he said, his breath a warm whisper. He brushed the hair from her shoulder and pressed his lips to the exposed skin. A shiver feathered her spine. No.
         “Can we talk before dinner?”
        Nic’s dark eyes scanned her body. “Mmm. Whatever you want.”
         The shiny side.
       “I’d like to spend some time at the cabin. Alone.” She rubbed a hand across the pebbles of gooseflesh spreading over her arms, his touch chipping at the mental armor.
      He pushed her to arm’s length and took her hands in his. “Alone?” 
      “Yes. Just Lexi and I.”
    Nic brought her wrists to his mouth, closed his eyes and showered the vicious circles with tender kisses, the deep crimson bracelets dotted with patches of putrid yellow-green. “We’ll talk after dinner. I have a surprise for you.”
      No. Zan frowned. “I don’t need anything.”
      “Sometimes needs aren’t what they seem,” he said, and pulled her into his powerful embrace. “You need time? After the Anderssen deal closes, I’m taking you to Italy. Reservations are pending.”
      Words failed her. The cabin. Her plans. A smile curved the corners of her mouth to mask the inner turmoil. 
       “There’s my girl.” He brushed a finger over her nose. “Now, how’d you fix the salmon?” 
      He eased her head into the familiar curve of his shoulder, the pulse of his heart a steady rhythm against her ear. “The way you like it. Blackened with a bit of Cajun,” she breathed into his jacket. 
      “Hot and spicy.” One hand cradled her chin and drew it upward, his eyes heavy-lidded, and dark. His lips closed around hers with a kiss deep and possessive. “Like the evening I have planned,” he breathed, the pungent aroma of whiskey a heady punctuation to his words.  
        His fingers feathered her skin with skilled proficiency, tracing the line of her bodice from one breast to the other, then his mouth sought the same pleasure. Her skin purred beneath the touch of his lips to the generous swell. She gasped. “You’re perfect, Alexandra. And you’re mine.”
        Nic took both wrists and kissed them tenderly. She answered his quiet testimony with a subtle smile. 
         A tarnished coin polished to original luster.
         The shiny side. 
          And he said he was sorry.
          Didn’t he?

(copyright 2014 Susan Haught)
Photo courtesy: By fotographic1980, published on 15 August 2012
Stock Image - image ID: 10097127
<![CDATA[Wasn't Our Decision...]]>Fri, 09 May 2014 21:07:17 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/wasnt-our-decisionPicture
It wasn’t our decision to have only one child.

On Valentine’s Day—fifteen years into our marriage—my doctor found irreparable damage to my fallopian tubes and I was told I would never bear a child. If I did conceive, the result would most likely end in a tubal pregnancy.

Twenty-six years ago, I cried for days. Twenty-six years ago, I thought my dream of becoming a mom was over. Twenty-six years ago, there were few options. And no one understood. How could they? Everyone I knew had children.  

Technology was in its infancy and in-vitro fertilization was considered “experimental”— and insurance 

rarely covered infertility treatments, especially ones considered experimental. When a lifetime dream is dealt such a devastating blow, adoption was the furthest thing from our mind. The wound was still too fresh. Too painful. You can’t know or begin to understand the horrible thoughts that pass through a normally sensible mind. Why would my husband stay with me if I can’t bear him children? Why me? Why were unfit parents granted babies and we weren’t? The pain of our loss kept my stomach in a constant state of turmoil. I no longer tried to explain why we didn’t have kids. I simply told them we were happy the way we were without them. It was easier that way.

In a twist of fate one year later, state government agencies (the one I worked for included) switched to a new insurance company. One that paid for the majority of in-vitro fertilization costs. One that allowed three cycles of treatment. One my doctor accepted. We wasted no time diving in with both feet on the ground and our spirits in the clouds. But this too, wouldn’t be easy. 

I thought labeling myself infertile would be the worst thing to ever happen. I assumed wrong. Several months later after our first attempt at in-vitro, I was told the transfer of four fertilized embryos was successful only to be crushed by the test results a few days later. The doc said the fertilized eggs implanted, but for some reason my body rejected them. He cried with us, and said to return in a few weeks to try again.

For twenty-five days I wept. For twenty-five days I asked God why? And for twenty-five days I crossed off one day at a time, each day a little easier to get out of bed and get through the day. It was difficult—if not impossible—to pretend nothing was wrong. We lost four babies. 

The second attempt was a brand new treatment regimen and by the time the twice-daily injections, tests, and blood draws were over, I was in so much physical pain I was almost glad it didn’t take. Until the pain in my body gave way to the pain in my heart. 

Twenty-five more days passed through a conglomerate of physical and emotional heartache. Twenty-five days passed in panic, wondering if the last attempt would be the absolute end of the journey. And twenty-five days I spent wondering if miracles ever truly happen. I needn’t have questioned God’s perfect timing. 

Twenty-one days later God proved miracles do happen. The tests were positive. Twenty-one days after the first tests, I was still pregnant. And twenty-one days after that I was sicker than a dog. I wondered if God’s miracle was really worth it. 

If you’re a parent, I don’t need to answer that. It’s a given. Every child is truly a miracle—all ten pudgy little toes, tiny fingers that wrap around yours, a perfect line of eyelashes and smiles that melt your heart. 

Twenty-four years ago I celebrated my first Mother’s Day with a six-month old baby boy and eyes filled with tears of joy. He’s been away from home for almost six years now. First there was college, an internship with Disney in California , then a short stint at home while he saved his money and prepared to hit the ground running. But he was always home for Mother’s Day.

But something happened while he was at Disneyland. He fell in love. Not with a gorgeous California beach girl, or even a stately aspiring actress.  

He fell in love with California.

This year, Mother’s Day will come and go without my twenty-four year old son here with me. He’s living in California and won’t be here to give me one of his bear-hugs. Or grill his famous country-style ribs. Or allow his mom to choose which movie to watch. So, twenty-four years after his birth, I’m once again shedding tears.

Today, twenty-four hours after my little self-indulgent pity-party, the most beautiful fruit bouquet arrived from my son with a heartfelt note. No, he’s not coming home and I will spend my first Mother’s Day without him. I’ll still shed some tears, but my heart is full.

This time they’re not sad tears, but happy ones. He truly is our miracle baby and an amazing young man. Though he won’t be here to grill my favorite meal or argue that I’ve chosen a wimpy movie, he’s with me in every sense of the word. My son lives in a different state now, but his heart resides right next to mine.

Always has. Always will. 

It wasn’t our decision to have only one child. But God chose to make up for it with one outstanding individual I call my son. His father and I are truly blessed. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends who someone calls “Mom”. Though your children may be separated from you by many miles, the love that connects you can never be severed. Hug yourself for me. And give yourself an extra one from my son. He wouldn’t hesitate if you were in the same room. And no matter how far apart you are from your children or from your own mom, always remember ~ Love is Ageless and has the power to change lives, even when our precious little ones grow up and move away. 

Until next time,

Happy Reading, Happy Writing,


(aka Mom)

Infant image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.netTest tube image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
California vintage postcard by Gerry Kubler

<![CDATA[Chocolate Baseballs...]]>Fri, 07 Feb 2014 21:43:40 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/chocolate-baseballsPicture
Ahhh…Valentine’s Day. 

Some love it. Some hate it. 

I love it. 


I'm a romance author so anything to the contrary would be on the hypocritical side, don't you think? I'm a hopeless romantic, even though when I fell in love, I did so

with a man who prefers tacos and an Arizona Cardinals game over a romantic dinner any day. Candles? Love notes? Cuddling on the sofa?

Not a fat chance during sports season. And sports happen All. Year. Long.

Candles are for lighting a path to the Doritos when the power goes out or filling the kitchen with the aroma of sugar cookies; love notes consist of a hastily written text to tell me he’s watching the local high school baseball game; and cuddling? Sheesh. Doesn't happen. When it does, his head bobbles worse than a Randy Johnson Bobble Head because he's trying to catch that last strike, or lean into that all-important touchdown, or help create a downdraft for Team USA swooshing through the slalom poles. 

But that’s okay, because I create characters who DO love to do these things. It satisfies my inner romantic and I’m okay with that. I know hubby loves me, and that’s all that matters—even if my Valentine’s Day surprise is a box of chocolates wrapped to look like baseballs.
It’s the thought that counts. 
BTW--ever noticed those yummy chocolate Easter eggs bear a remarkable resemblance to footballs?
Yeah. Me too.   

I adore happily-ever-afters. I adore endings that make me cry. And I adore the inescapable twinges in my tummy that a good romance will undoubtedly provide. And I especially adore the timeless story of love that endures through this rough road we call life. So that’s what I read, and that’s what I write. A character-driven story will always top my list of favs and if there’s romance involved, I’m so there.

I think we all seek what true love really means. I think we all deserve to know. It’s not always in the outward gestures we associate with “romance”, or the lavish gifts or expensive dinners. Sometimes it’s the little things. Like little baseball chocolates. A considerate text to say he’ll be late. Fulfilling a last wish. Or holding the same hand you’ve held for more years than you remember how to count. 

Yep. I’m a hopeless romantic. I write the mushy stuff.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Cherish the day with the one you love. And remember--Love is ageless and has the power to change lives. 

Happy Reading--



Valentine Card With Bubble Stock ImageBy digitalart, published on 07 August 2011
Stock Image - image ID: 10052956

Easter Egg Candy Stock PhotoBy Maggie Smith, published on 30 January 2014
Stock Photo - image ID: 100231645

Wine Glass Stock ImageBy digitalart, published on 02 May 2011
Stock Image - image ID: 10039889

Silhouette Hand In Heart Stock PhotoBy tiverylucky, published on 19 June 2013
Stock Photo - image ID: 100177453

<![CDATA[My Writing Process]]>Mon, 03 Feb 2014 03:04:04 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/my-writing-processPicture
Hello? Is anyone there? OH! There you are. I’m a little nervous, can you tell?

Hi! I’m Susan Haught. Since we're acquainted now, please call me Susie. Sounds younger, don’t you think? Besides, I didn’t begin this writing journey until I had more gray hair than brown, so anything to set the time clock back a bit certainly helps. Even if it’s temporary. 

I’m new at this “blog hop” deal and this one sounded fairly simple to get my feet wet. Technology and I usually end up in a battle of wits with the frustrating techie guy inside the computer (or wherever he hides) having the last laugh at my expense, my son gives me an over-exaggerated eye-roll and my sweet little Shih Tzu tiptoes out of the den with a cautious backward glance. Given the fact I’m gung-ho to stick my toes in the icy water on this February day, let’s get the show on the road, shall we? 

Arlene Hittle invited me to blog hop with her, but I bet she didn’t realize she’d have to hold my hand and guide the technologically challenged. I met Arlene through Northern Arizona RWA when I joined (with my introverted subconscious kicking and screaming) three years ago. We were both as yet unpublished and when I was elected as Secretary for NARWA and Arlene President, we spent time together as board members and then as friends and colleagues. Low and behold, we received publishing contracts within weeks of each other! We cheer each other on and she is one my biggest conspirators when it comes to keeping me focused. We both maintain full-time jobs outside writing, and sometimes it’s a rough road to navigate when you’re pulled in multiple directions, so she grabs my hand when I feel like I’m sinking in quicksand. Thanks, Arlene! 
You can find out more about Arlene and her books at www.arlenehittle.com

What am I working on?

It’s been a busy few months since I sold my first story in September and second in December 2013. Between my Administrative Assistant job with the Arizona Department of Transportation, the holidays, deadlines for both stories and the completion of the third story in the series, I managed to wade through the debris and finally come up for air. 

At this point, I’ve chosen to trade some of my writing time to spend with my son who will be relocating to California to begin his career. And for me to sulk. Besides his leaving, he’s taking my grandpuppy. The one I insisted he not bring home. The one he insisted he needed. And the one I fell in love with. Darn kids. 

In the next months, I’ll be working on a manuscript I completed months ago. I believe knowledge is an ongoing process and honing the craft of writing an imperative part of that process. I’ve learned a ton over the last year or so, and I plan to incorporate that knowledge as I rewrite, edit and delve deeper into the characters' psyches to produce a better product. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

In the autumn of the year my mother passed away, the elderly men and women she shared a wing in the nursing home intrigued me. Some smiled. Some frowned. Some stared into space. And when one couple held hands, my heart stuttered. I wanted to know their story. But what was it? We all grow old, but we don’t cease to feel emotion. The sensuality, maturity and intimacy of enduring love or the older couple finding love and starting over appeals to me in a much different way than the fearless, spirited abandon of young love. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading and writing both, but I find the older individual has a lot more baggage to sort through.Their needs and desires are basically the same, yet fraught with the wisdom of happiness and heartache the pages of their lives are written on. They have a lot to offer. They haven't disappointed me yet.  

Why do I write what I do?

It’s very simple. I love it. I love the romance and women’s fiction genres and if I can find the words that make readers laugh, cry, smile, gasp, cringe, or prickle their skin, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than diving into the psyche of a character and watching what happens to them, or dig deeper into the hidden places of the mind to find out where they’ve been and discover their story. It’s an incredible journey. I hope you’ll join me.  

How does my writing process work? 

I’m a pantster by nature. When Stephen King (my all-time favorite author) admitted he never plots, I’m pretty sure I performed my best happy-dance ever! In a recent interview Mr. King said it’s impossible to plot when the characters were the only ones who know the story, so for him, it was a waste of time. I tend to agree. I tried it once and thought—no, I knew—I was slowly sinking into the deep purple abyss portion of the mind where no one should venture. Ever. Kelly Clarkson sings of it…you know…the dark side? 

I start with a title. Don’t ask, because I have no clue why this happens. A title will pop into my head, then scenes will develop—usually the ending before the beginning. I guess you could say I work backwards. I’ve done this whole writing thing backwards by starting so late in life, and I write backward stories too—working from the older mind back to their youth. Yep, backwards. Story of my life. 

Oh, and I don’t adhere well to the “write every day” mantra. When life gets in the way, I let it. I try not to stress about it. Need more words? I’ll find them at some point. It may be the wee hours of the morning on the weekend, an extra day off work, or driving home from a long road trip, but they’re there. Lurking. Waiting. I’ll find the little boogers. Because there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than inside the bubble of my fantasy world. Except maybe curling my toes into the sand on the Outer Banks.  

Thanks for joining me today, and I hope you visit these other fine authors' sites and give their books a peek. Have a great week, and Happy Reading! 
Arlene Hittle is a Midwestern transplant who now makes her home in northern Arizona. She suffers from the well-documented Hittle family curse of being a Cubs fan but will root for the Diamondbacks until they run up against the Cubs. Longtime friends are amazed she writes books with sports in them, since she's about as coordinated as a newborn giraffe and used to say marching band required more exertion than golf.


Arlene is the author of Diva in the Dugout and is her first release in the "All is Fair in Love & Baseball" series. Beauty and the Ballplayer is due out March 2014. And for a quick, fun holiday read check out Home for the Holidays, Arlene's holiday novella.  

I'm pleased to add Anna J. McIntyre to the blog hop! Be sure to check her post February 10, 2014.

"Mystery and romance author Anna J. McIntyre will be releasing the fifth book in her Coulson Series – Coulson’s Reckoning – in March 2014."

Visit Ann J. McIntyre at                                           http://annajmcintyreauthor.com/

<![CDATA["Twas the Night Before Christmas..."]]>Tue, 24 Dec 2013 20:44:51 GMThttp://susanhaught.com/haught-ink/twas-the-night-before-christmasPicture

All is well.
May all your dreams come true...


Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net
Merry Christmas Stock ImageBy digital art
published on 14 May 2011
Stock Image - image ID: 10041551