Quinn paused for a moment to watch the children’s game. It was getting a little rowdy, and he smiled as he watched them.
“Your daughter looks exactly like you, y’know. She’s beautiful.”
“Thank you.” Tyla wondered idly if she should change Louella out of her dress, so her little tomboy could roll around the floor without ripping it.
“What’s her name?”
“That’s a pretty name.”
“Thank you, again.”
Before she could think of a better reply, one of the little boys got so excited that he shifted. His clothes tore, and a lion cub took his place.
Oh hell, no. “Louella, don’t you even—“
In the blink of an eye, a second kid shifted. One of April and Mindy’s many nieces turned into a panther cub.
The two little cubs leaped on each other, tussling and tumbling. Their discarded clothes were quickly flicked under a chair.
Quinn roared with laughter. “They look so cute when they’re cubs, don’t they?”
Louella jumped up and down as though something brilliant had occurred to her.
“No, Louella, don’t—“
To Tyla’s horror, Louella didn’t hear her mom over the noise of the party. Or—most likely—she heard her, but chose to ignore her.
In two seconds, she joined her friends, shredding her chiffon bridesmaid dress into rags.
There, where the little girl had been, stood her animal form.
A cheetah cub.
Quinn’s eyes grew wide. He seemed to loom even taller over Tyla as he stared at Louella.
“Quinn, I can—“
“No. No way.” He spun around, frowning. ““She’s a cheetah?”
Tyla rubbed her eyes, not caring if she smudged her eye makeup.
“The only cheetah family in Rocky Falls is mine.”
“Did you move away after we broke up?”
Tyla held eye contact and stayed very still. “No.”
She knew what was coming.
Quinn locked his hands behind his head, clearly overcome.
“Fuck, Tyla. She’s mine?” He turned back to the frolicking cheetah cub, then back at Tyla. “Your girl. Your Louella. She’s my daughter?”