Almost twenty years have passed since Cain, the formidable T-Rex shifter, and his Ultimate Predators attacked the Shifting Sands Ranch. Jax, Dakota, and the rest of the Pack have matured and prospered. A new generation of shifters have come into their own at the Ranch, not least of which are twins Tai and Mal, who give their uncles no end of sass, just like teenagers should. Life is good, but the peace they’ve enjoyed is about to be splintered.
Cain left behind more than just his mark on the lives of the folks at the Shifting Sands Ranch, and his twin legacies are vengeful, lethal, hungry, and headed for the Ranch, intent on finishing what Cain began.
What happens when the next generation of shifters collide just like their parents' did? Who will survive? Who will come out on top?
Find out in this exciting sequel to In Their Own Skins: Shifting Sands.
Five Years Ago
Darkness fell, deep purple shadows darkening almost imperceptibly to black. Insects, protected by the inky curtain of night, struck up their chorus of chirps and buzzes from their hiding places in the tall grass and thick underbrush of the forest. Birds settled into their nests, small animals in their burrows. Most of the fauna of the forest slept, unaware that death moved on silent feet through the dark. A few others, the nocturnal creatures, felt the shift in the natural order and headed away unnerved to find safer areas to feed.
Two elongated, reptilian heads bobbed in tandem, a sprinkling of feathers along the tops of their skulls swaying gently with the motion, powerful legs moving stealthily through the brush. They walked side by side, stopping often to scent the air for prey. Nostrils flaring, they caught the scent of something large and warm-blooded nearby.
As if by unspoken agreement they veered from one another, quietly moving one to each side of a small copse near the edge of a broad meadow.
The buck fed well that day, grazing on the fresh spring grass in the meadow, and had returned to the thicket he'd claimed as his own. He stood in the small area, surrounded on all sides by a natural screen of bushes and brambles, sniffing the air, unable to rest. Something didn't smell right. There was a tang in the air that didn't belong, something odd and threatening, outside his realm of experience. His large, spoon-shaped ears twitched, swiveling first in one direction and then the other, straining to hear anything that might signal danger. He was skittish, his instincts keeping him on edge. He stood with his muscles tensed, ready to spring away at the slightest movement or sound.
He never got the chance.
The attack came without warning in a frenzy of snapping jaws and slashing claws. Two creatures, attacking from opposite sides of the thicket in a perfectly coordinated assault, made short work of the hundred sixty pound deer. Twin roars rolled throughout the forest, startling birds into flight and instantly silencing the insect population.
Although they were young, no more than thirteen years old, they were nearing their full physical potential. Like their sire, they were precocious shifters, coming into their power before they'd turned two years old; Gar started their training shortly afterward. Back home in the Everglades, the pair of velociraptors were already the deadliest beasts in the swamp, trained nearly since birth to hunt as a single, cohesive unit, and every other living creature in the area knew it. When the raptors hunted, everything else hid -- or got eaten. Not even the predators who usually ruled the wetlands -- gators, bobcats, bear, snakes, and owls -- dared remain in the open.
Here in the forest of north central Florida, miles from their usual haunts, their scent was unfamiliar to the other denizens of the woods. It was enough to make their prey wary, but not enough to cause a panic.
That would change relatively quickly. The more the pair hunted in this area, the scarcer and more difficult to track their prey would become. Animals were not stupid. They quickly added the scent of raptor to their list of creatures best avoided, and would vacate the area in a panic as soon as they scented the deadly reptiles. All too soon, the raptors would need to move on, to find new hunting grounds elsewhere.
For now, they feasted.