Ties That Bind

 

As the only daughter of an Italian family living in America, Alexandra Dinapoli has everything she could ever wish for except what she really wants.

Leaving everything behind, Alexandra moves to the City where she bumps into the enigmatic Gabriel Harland but their budding love affair is cruelly cut short when someone from Alexandra's past surfaces in Gabriel's life, threatening to reveal what she has tried so hard to hide.

Will a relationship forged in a moment of panic spark a love that will conquer all? Find the answers in a story told from both sides.


 

Snippet from Ties That Bind

 

Prologue

Fourteen Years Ago

Alexandra…

“Get. Off. Me. Sal!” I shout as loud as I can.

Sal is sat on the backs of my legs and he's holding my arms behind my back with only one of his hands.

He’s older than I am; he's just a year off being an adult and is already stocky and strong. He has me pinned down in the long grass at the bottom of the garden while my four year old younger brother Dante watches, with fear in his eyes.

I struggle like hell against Sal's grip and I manage to kick my leg back, my heel hitting Sal's spine. I know I've hurt him because he pushes back down on my legs. Crap.

Sal slaps the side of my head from behind me. I don't see it coming and I wince. He knows how not to leave a mark.

“Leave my sister alone!” Dante shouts, starting to cry.

"Shut it, shrimp, or you’re next.”

Dante stops crying, Sal punches me in the ribs, hard and I gasp for air.

I can hear Mamma calling us for dinner and without another word Sal gets off me, stands up and strides away, heading back towards the house.

“I’m telling Mamma,” I manage to call after him, rolling over onto my back and folding one arm around my ribs, the other around my head.

“I don’t think so,” he calls back.

He knows I won’t tell, the last time I told I ended up with a broken arm after he snapped the brake cable on my bike. At 13 I've learnt to keep quiet.

Dante sinks to his knees besides me and rubs at my head with his stubby fingers.

“Sorry.”

“S’not your fault,” I say, taking my baby brother in my arms and hugging him protectively.

Dante is not like Sal, he's not like me either. He's gentle, caring, kind, the sort of child who has to have a full funeral ceremony when he finds a dead baby bird in the garden.

I know that he would never be able to stand up to Sal, so I do it for him; I take the thrashings from Sal that would otherwise leave Dante with more than an aching head and tender ribs.

Dante pushes out of my arms and gets up. He turns on his heel and runs out from the long grass, across the lawn and towards the house.

"Sal, Sal, wait for me…"

I turn and watch them over my shoulder. As Dante reaches level with my brother, Sal stretches out and pushes him to the ground, a little harder than playfully. Dante gets up, laughing and follows my elder brother into the house.

I turn around and wrap my arms around my knees, finally surrendering to my tears, tears for me, tears for Dante. When will he ever learn?

Snippet from Ties That Bind

 

“I have never seen so many people together in one place,” I whisper.

“Don’t worry, I’ll look after you,” he says, ducking his head under the peak of my cap and stealing a kiss.

“I’m sure you will,” I answer, raising my eyebrows at him and resting my hand on his chest as I snuggle into him.

"Just one thing though …" Gabriel says as he notices me closing my eyes and breathing in his scent. "When the game starts, keep your eyes on the ball."

I lift my head to look at him and frown,

"Why?"

"Because if anyone hits a foul ball, it could come straight this way and I don't want you getting hurt."

"If that happens, I'm sure you will catch it for me …"

"Of course I will, or I'll just shove you out of the way." He laughs and as I laugh with him, I poke him in the ribs.

There’s a gentle hum of chatter and excitement all around us as more people enter the stadium and find their seats. The sun is shining and there’s an intoxicating smell of hot dogs and peanuts in the air.

“Welcome, sports fans, to another beautiful day here at Yankee Stadium …” a voice suddenly booms out around us and the people in the stands start to cheer.

The air is filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation; it’s as if the whole atmosphere is charged with enough electricity to keep a small town alight for the year. I turn my head to find Gabriel gazing down at me and when he sees the huge grin on my face, he smiles too.

He pulls his cell out of his pocket, holds it at arm’s length, brushes his cheek against mine and takes a photo. Turning his cell over, he brings it close to our faces, out of the glare of the sun and opens the picture full screen.

“That’s a keeper,” he murmurs and puts the phone back into his pocket.