Blurb: Life has finally gotten back to normal for the folks on the Shifting Sands Ranch – or as normal as it can be for a group of shapeshifters on the down low, but old habits die hard. When Dakota convinces Jax to bring home an eccentric gorilla-shifter who calls himself “Kong,” they wonder whether they’ve finally bitten off more than they can chew.
Meanwhile, Reporter Derek MacCaffrie needs a story, and the videotape he received of a supposed shapeshifter running wild in the mountains of Wyoming reeks of something sensational. Unfortunately, writing an exposé on the shifters may come at a higher price than he ever intended -- he might gain a Pulitzer, but lose his heart in the process.
It’s a war of shifter versus human as Dakota and Jax take on the world in a battle to keep their family in this third In Their Own Skins installment, Uncaged. Previous books include Shifting Sands and Mark of Cain.
Don't miss the three bonus short stories about other shapeshifters included with the book, Glitter Palms, Divinity Park, and Killer Love!
In this excerpt, Dakota tries (once again) to convince Jax to help rescue yet another shifter, and bring the shifter back to the Shifting Sands Ranch.
True to his mate's stubborn nature, Dakota swore at him, grabbed the remote from the coffee table, and changed the channel. The screen instantly filled with a close-up of a gorilla's face, grunting and baring its teeth at the camera.
"Hey! What part of 'I'm watching the game,' didn't you get?" Jax barked. He jumped up, snatched the remote out of Dakota's hand, and changed the channel back to the game. He was not going to be dragged into playing another round of Dakota's patented "Where's Shapeshifting-Waldo" game. The last time he had, they'd added two more bear-shifters and an armadillo-shifter to their extended family. He was beginning to think he should have named the ranch Noah's Ark instead of Shifting Sands.
"Jax, I mean it! Come on, it's important." Dakota towered over Jax, his brows knit in a scowl.
Jax noticed that Dakota hadn't shaved in a few days and his beard was coming in, lending his handsome face a bearish quality that never failed to send a bolt of desire stabbing deep into Jax's belly. Jax's body hardened in response as he remembered what it felt like to have that scruff rubbing against the tender skin of his inner thighs.
Regardless of the fledgling hard-on molding the front of his sweats, Jax danced the remote out of range of Dakota's long arms. "He who has the remote, has the power," he taunted. "Besides, we don't need to go hunting for shifters anymore. They find us very nicely all on their own... unfortunately." He held the remote behind his back with one hand, and stubbornly stuck the nearly denuded rib into his mouth with the other, sucking noisily.
"Jax, please... I really want you to see this segment they're doing," Dakota said, before doing the unthinkable -- he walked to the television, reached down, and changed the channel manually. The screen again showed the gorilla, this time sitting on the floor of a cage with its back turned toward the camera.
"Hey, no fair! What are you, a Neanderthal? Nobody changes the channel by hand anymore," Jax whined. He clicked the remote furiously, but Dakota had changed the input, rendering his remote useless.
"Will you just shut up for a minute and watch?" Dakota snapped. The look on his face told Jax he was through playing and meant business. Jax would have found it incredibly sexy, if he wasn't so pissed off at having his Sunday interrupted.
Growling low in his chest, feeling both turned on and frustrated at the same time, Jax sat down on the edge of the sofa and alternated between watching the screen and shooting Dakota black looks.
The narrator's voice, generically smooth and male, spoke. "Harry was captured by forest rangers in the Olympic National Forest near Port Angeles, Washington, three months ago. Rangers were investigating a complaint from a family camping in the area who claimed their food supplies were stolen by a creature the campers identified as 'Big Foot.'
"When the rangers arrived on the scene, they found what appeared to be large, humanoid footprints at the campsite. Tracking them, they found the gorilla hiding in the dense underbrush. Nicknamed “Harry” after a Big Foot movie character, the gorilla was successfully tranquilized and transported to the Northwest Zoological Research Facility near Spokane.
"Primatologists have studied Harry for the last three months, and claim he is an Eastern Lowland gorilla, found mostly in the mountainous regions of Uganda. His species is not native to the American Northwest."
"See? He's not really Big Foot," Jax said, rolling his eyes. "He's a gorilla, Dakota. A real one. Not a shifter."
"Will you shut up and listen, Jax?" Dakota asked. His forehead creased in a deep frown as his thumb jerked toward the screen.
Jax grabbed another rib, tore off a bite, a chewed in a desultory manner as he returned his attention, albeit reluctantly, to the television.
"Scientists speculate that Harry may have been brought into the country via the black market as a pet and then abandoned in the wild when he grew too large for his owners to manage. It is not believed that Harry has been living on his own for long, since he would be ill-equipped to survive the hostile Northern Pacific winters."
The screen switched to show a man in a white lab coat, looking uneasily at the microphone held in front of his face. "We believe Harry has had contact with humans before and was treated well by his former owners. He is in excellent health, and well, he seems to be toilet trained. He shows signs of possessing an extremely high level of intelligence. Most incredibly, he seems to understand the English language, at least at some basic level." The scientist gave a short laugh. "He enjoys watching television, particularly game shows."
The camera returned to the reporter. "Harry is currently being housed in a private facility, but he will be soon transferred to the gorilla enclosure at a major theme park zoo in Florida for public viewing. Officials state Harry will be better suited to the near-tropical climate in Florida. Animal rights activists have protested the move, claiming that Harry should be flown to Africa and released back into the wild. They may file a lawsuit and seek an injunction against the move."
"A gorilla," Jax said again, polishing off his second rib. "He's nothing but an overgrown monkey. And for this, you interrupt my Sunday afternoon off?"
"Gorillas are apes, not monkeys, and what gorilla does that?" Dakota said, pointing at the screen showing Harry in his cage, watching television. Harry's shoulders shook as if he were laughing.
"Monkey see, monkey do," Jax said stubbornly, as a hollow feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. He knew what Dakota wanted, and exactly what Dakota was going to say next. He didn't want to hear it, but also knew there was no way around it, not unless he keeled over and dropped stone-cold dead, face-first into his platter of barbeque ribs. Resignedly, he mouthed the words as Dakota spoke them.
"What if he's a shifter, Jax?"
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