Chapter 143 Encountering a Fraudster
Steadying myself, I turned and saw a young couple standing several feet away.
The man’s expression was fierce, while the woman appeared calmer and had a hand resting on her bulging stomach. Realizing belatedly that I might have collided with a pregnant lady, I quickly apologized. “I’m so sorry about that.”
This being a market, it was naturally jam-packed with people, and accidental collisions were not at all a rare occurrence. I had assumed that my apology would be sufficient to smooth things over with the couple, but I was sorely mistaken when the man continued to glare at me.
“What use do I have of your apology?” he spat. “My wife is pregnant! You need to take full responsibility if anything happens to her or the baby because of your carelessness!”
I frowned. That’s unnecessarily harsh…
“Excuse me, but I think you were the ones who knocked into me and not the other way round,” I point out as politely as I could. “And in any case, I’ve already apologized. What else do you want me to do?”
The man scoffed. “You’ve hurt my wife and my unborn child. I’m going to need more than just a pathetic ‘sorry’.”
I was about to rebuff him when Dominic intervened. Pulling me behind him, he stared the man down and asked in a cool voice, “What do you want then? Recompense?”
The man’s eyes lit up instantly. “Yeah, now we’re talking.”
It was then that realization dawned on me. We must’ve encountered a fraudster. He’s trying to scam us!
There were many onlookers, but none stepped out to speak against the man. It seemed that this was not the man’s first scam, nor would it be his last. Judging by the fearful looks of some of the locals, he was probably quite the scoundrel in town.
Knowing Dominic, I expected him to teach the man a harsh lesson. However, I was once again mistaken.
“How much do you want?” he asked.
I gaped slightly. Are you kidding me? Is he actually going to pay that guy? That’s just outrageous!
Stepping from behind, I tugged at Dominic, trying to pull him away. “Let’s just go to the police,” I said. “He’s just going to think you’re a total pushover and bully you even more if you fall for his scam.”
Enraged, the man came up to me and shoved, hard.
Dominic did not manage to catch my fall this time. Losing my balance, I stumbled backward and sprained my ankle on a small rock.
The pain shot up my leg faster than I could think. I grunted, shifting my weight onto the other leg while bending down to inspect my injury.
Dominic supported me by the arm. “Does it hurt a lot? Can you stand?”
I hissed in pain. “I think it’s not serious. Don’t offer that guy any recompense, okay? He’s a fraudster.”
Said fraudster was spitting mad. “F*cking b*tch,” he cursed. “Your man here has already agreed to pay up, so just shut your f*cking trap, you hear me?”
“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Dominic raised a brow. Without preamble, he delivered a kick straight on the man’s stomach.
The latter doubled over, groaning loudly. If not for his wife’s help to steady him, he would have collapsed on the ground.
I blinked in surprise at the quick escalation of events, my throbbing ankle momentarily forgotten.
“Son of a b*tch!” the man snarled, face contorted in pain and rage. “How the f*ck dare you!”
“If I hear another word from you, you’re going to get more than just a kick,” Dominic said coldly. “Just try me.”
Perhaps cowed by his intimidating aura, the fraudster did in fact keep his mouth shut, though he was still glaring daggers at the both of us.
Seizing the opportunity, I hobbled over to Dominic and dragged him away from the scene. “Come on, let’s go back home.” His arm is still injured. It’s best that we just steer clear of that jerk.
“Why are we running away?” Dominic frowned unhappily. “I can take him on.”
I continued to hobble while pulling him along. “Oh please,” I retorted without looking back at him. “If you weren’t still injured, I wouldn’t stop you. But with your arm like this? Forget it. You can’t fight in such a condition.”
The pain was getting worse. A few more steps later, I had to stop to catch my breath and ease the pain in my ankle.
“I’m calling Lou,” I announced breathlessly. “The pain’s too much. I’m going to rest a bit. When they come, we can leave together.”
Dominic held me with his good arm as we stood on the roadside. “You wouldn’t land yourself with a sprained foot if you’d just let me take care of that hoodlum,” he remarked, casual-as-you-please.
“Hey!” I protested sharply, jabbing a finger into his chest. “I was looking out for you, okay? I didn’t want you to get scammed. If you have nothing comforting to say to me, then just keep quiet.”
Silence. Utter silence from the other party.
I rolled my eyes in exasperation. Seriously? No comforting words at all? Geez… This guy…
A while later, Lou and the rest came looking for me. As my ankle hurt too much for me to walk, the rest of the journey home had me bouncing on Lou’s back as he carried me back.
The rest of the family were in the living room, chatting, when they saw us coming in.
Mom hurried over to help me get down from Lou’s back. “What happened? Are you hurt?”
“I’m fine,” I said, gingerly placing my foot on the floor and limping toward the couch. “It’s just a sprain. I was careless.”
It was what I told Lou and the others too. I had omitted the incident with the fraudster because it would only cause unnecessary concern.
Even so, Mom was still in her mother hen mode. She clucked her tongue. “I’ll go get some ice and ointment for you. You need to take better care of yourself and watch the road like the rest of us, you know.”
I listened to her chiding, feeling like a teenager again. I guess moms just have that special power…
Grandfather, on the other hand, was mad at Dominic. “Why didn’t you keep an eye out for her, boy? What kind of boyfriend are you to take a girl out and have her home injured?”
I snickered quietly. Ha! Serves him right!
Compared to how he kicked and threatened a man earlier, the Dominic in front of my grandfather now was as docile as a lamb. “My apologies… It’s my fault for not taking good care of Lian. It won’t happen again.”
Grandfather did not appear appeased. Mom nudged me surreptitiously, motioning with her eyes for me to help Dominic out.
Hmph. Shouldn’t Mom be on my side? I huffed but eventually complied reluctantly. “It’s okay, Grandpa. I’m the one who didn’t watch where I was going. And anyway, his arm is still injured, so cut him some slack, okay?”
“That’s no reason to let you get hurt!” Grandfather sounded almost petulant. “As your boyfriend, he should’ve done a better job, broken arm or no.”
Although I knew he was being unreasonably demanding, the way my grandfather was so protective of me filled my heart with warmth.
“Come on, Grandpa,” I wheedled, smiling. “It’s really not his fault. He had offered to carry me back, too. If he wasn’t injured in the arm, he would’ve prevented my fall for sure.”
Grandfather scoffed, though he did stop his berating. Taking this as my cue to change the topic, I managed to get everyone to move on to a different conversation.
We chatted for a while more before the c**k we had hired came in to announce that dinner was ready.
The family sat around the dinner table. As the meal was being served, Uncle Frank took out a bottle of whiskey and proceeded to pour a glass for all the men at the table. When he came to Dominic, I reached a hand to cover the mouth of his glass.
“What’s the matter, Lili?” Uncle Frank asked.