Sorry for the wait - thanks everyone! Here's the next chapter;
The silence stretched on for an uncomfortable length of time. The Cahills stared at the two Scholastic employees relentlessly, their gazes hard and unyielding. Gavin and Len glanced at each other again.
"Why don't we all sit down?" Gavin said finally, gesturing at the table behind him. "It's kind of...complicated."
Len shot him a look, but nodded in agreement. Amy glanced at Dan, then at Ian, then Sinead, before nodding slowly as well.
"Fine. But keep your hands on the table where we can see them at all times," she said firmly. Len nodded again, gesturing for each of them to pick a spot. The eight of them took seats around the long conference table (the two men taking care not to make any sudden movements). Len and Gavin moved some chairs so that they shared the head of the table, taking the seats closest to the door.
Ian frowned, displeased with their choice of seating, but said nothing. The two unknown men were in a good position to block the apparently only exit in the room, and/or get through said exit and call for back-up before any of them could stop them. Ian glanced at Hamilton discreetly, tilting his head slightly. The Tomas teen nodded, taking the spot immediately to Len's right as Ian took the one on Gavin's left. The two boys were the fastest and (arguably, in Ian's case) the strongest of the six teens, so it made sense for them to be the closest as it would be easier for them to react if the men tried anything. Amy sat beside Ian, with Dan beside her, and Sinead and Jonah took their places next to Hamilton.
After they were all settled, Len cleared his throat. "Well...I have to warn you now; this is going to sound pretty unbelievable..." he began, hands clasped on the table as requested. Dan snorted.
"Dude, if we had a nickel for every time we heard that, I could buy out the Kabras," he said, ignoring the glare Ian sent his way. Gavin stifled a laugh and Len kicked him under the table.
"That's...good? I hope," Len said after a moment. "That might make this a little easier for all of you to swallow..."
The looks of the Cahills' faces became slightly impatient as he paused again. Seeing this, and wanting to avoid any potential confrontation, Len decided to just come out and say it.
"The reason we know who you are is that we're part of the team that helps publish The 39 Clues book series, which follows the adventures of Amy and Dan Cahill as they discover that they're members of the most powerful family in history and get swept up into a world full of lies, betrayal, and mystery as they travel around the globe hunting for clues," Len said in one breath.
Dead silence met his declaration. Amy, Dan, Sinead, Ian, Hamilton, and Jonah blinked several times as they processed his words, eyes narrowing or widening in shock and mouths falling open all around the table. Gavin looked at Len, giving him an incredulous look, to which Len just gave a nearly imperceptible, helpless shrug. The pair of them eyed the Cahills warily, unsure of how they were going to react. Len and Gavin braced themselves for screaming, anger, denial, and vicious accusations, but all they received was more silence.
Amy and Dan were staring at each other, presumably communicating in their unique non-verbal way while Ian and Sinead examined Len and Gavin, trying to assess whether or not they were lying. Hamilton and Jonah just looked at each other, exchanging incredulous looks.
"Let's just...say, for the sake of the argument," Amy said slowly, staring at Len with disbelief and suspicion, "that you're telling the truth... You're telling us that we're fictional characters in a book?!"
"Well...books, but yes," Gavin replied hesitantly. Sensing the rising emotion in the room as the six teens tensed, he hastily pointed at the shelf on the wall. "Grab that blue book at the end, if you don't believe us!" he said. Len looked at him in alarm, but it was too late. Still eyeing them warily, Amy was already up and holding the copy of Rick Riordan's work.
"'The Maze of Bones'?" she asked, sitting back down. "I-hey!" Amy exclaimed as Dan snatched the book out of her hands and began to flip through it. His eyes widened as he paused on a certain page, brow furrowing as he read and re-read the words written there. Without warning, the boy stood up and stepped towards the shelf, tossing the blue book to Amy as he began to pull more of them off the wall. The green one went to Jonah, the red one flew at Ian, the yellow one landed in Sinead's hands, and the black and orange one was caught by Hamilton. Dan seized the next one, a teal colored book, and flung himself back in his chair. Len and Gavin could only sit and stare as the Cahills scanned the summaries on the back of the books and began to flip through the pages, casting watchful glances in their direction every once in a while.
The two moderators looked at each other as they waited, each wondering what on earth they were supposed to do. But neither of them could help but cringe as they watched Ian page through The Sword Thief.
"The Message Board Amians would have a field day with this," Gavin said in a hushed undertone, eyeing the British boy warily. Now there was a disaster waiting to happen.
Len couldn't help but agree. But while giving them the books might be the fastest way to prove their story, he couldn't help but feel like everything was only going to get even more complicated from here.