Disclaimer: The only part of Castle that I own is the TV on which I used to watch the show.

Today is Saturday and Abby and Otis went to a birthday party for their friends Chelsea and Brooklyn Gelb, who are also twins. (See what I mean? Nothing but twins.) Gram took them there because she's friends with Chelsea and Brooklyn's grandmother. "I'll chew the fat with her while all the six-year-olds are tearing around," she said. I thought that was kind of weird because Gram never eats anything with fat.

Anyway, that meant that I got to have Mom and Dad to myself. Twins Two went down for a nap when Twins One left, and Mom said Julia would look after them when they woke up. "We need some Eliot time," Mom and Dad told me and that made me really happy.

Even though it's not my birthday Mom let me choose lunch so I had my favorite sandwich which is chunky peanut butter and raspberry jam but before you put the top slice of bread on you add two layers of potato chips. Mom always rolls her eyes when I ask for that but Dad says, "Atta boy!" We were going to eat outside, but then it started to rain so we stayed in the kitchen.

"I'm glad you didn't name any of us after places in New York."

"You mean like Subway?" Dad said. "Or Planetarium?"

He cracks me up. "No, I mean like parts of the city. Chelsea is a neighborhood in Manhattan and Brooklyn is a borough of New York. And what if the Gelbs had named Brooklyn after a neighborhood, too? That would be worse."

"I have a feeling," Mom said, "that you're setting us up for something."

She can always tell when I'm going to do that. I think Dad can, too, he just pretends that he can't.

So I said, "Yeah, they could have named her DUMBO!" And you know what? They both laughed out loud, so that was like having an extra layer of potato chips on my sandwich.

"Do you remember the first time we took you to DUMBO?" Dad asked. "It was right before Christmas, and Mom was pregnant with Abby and Otis. You were in your stroller."

"Oh, yeah! Scrapple was wearing his coat that we just got him that looked like an elf suit."

"That's right. You said, 'Where we?' and Mom said, 'DUMBO.' And you looked all around, and finally pointed to the sky and said, 'Where effnt?' "

Mom put her arm around my shoulder and gave me a squeeze. "It was adorable. You looked so puzzled that Dumbo the elephant wasn't there. You already knew the alphabet, and could read, so Dad explained that DUMBO stood for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. You liked that, but I could see that you were a little disappointed about the lack of an elephant. Every day's an adventure with you, sweet pea, and always will be. I think Dad and I need to remind you of that more often."

That made me happy, too. And because I got to choose my whole lunch, not just my sandwich, for dessert I had two kinds of ice cream in a bowl plus whipped cream plus sprinkles plus peanuts. Dad said, "Perfect example of the apple not falling far from the tree." And then he grinned and said, "Sure you don't want hot fudge sauce, too?" I remember the first time I heard that expression about apples and I was so confused. A lot of stuff confused me when I was little.

We cleared the table together and loaded the dishwasher and Dad said, "Ready, Eliot? Ready, Scrapple?"

"Ready for what? I hope he doesn't mean a walk because it's pouring out there."

"Scrapple and I want to know ready for what?"

Mom pointed towards the living room. "Look at the coffee table. See what's there?"

"Um, two notebooks. And I think some Blackwing six oh two pencils that Dad uses for his books."

"Bingo," he said.

"I have to go nurse Hannah and Ivy, so you and Dad get started on your project and then I'll come join you."

"Our project?"

"You and I are going to start writing our book."

"We are?"

"You are," Mom said. "And I'm going to be your sounding board."

"Like you are with Dad's books?"

"Exactly. See you in a little bit."

Dad and I went and sat down on the sofa and he patted a cushion. "C'mon, Scrapple. We need you up here with us."

Scrapple ran over the way he does when he's chasing a squirrel, which is his fastest speed, and wiggled around until he was mushed in between us.

"Do I get to be a detective?"

"Scrap wants to know if he gets to be a detective. You said you'd think about it."

"I did and I decided that it's a sensational idea. All detectives need a partner, so you'll–"

Scrapple barked. "Don't I get to choose?"

"I bet he's expressing your opinion, and if it's about his partner–" Dad stopped and nodded at me. "It's Eliot. Okay?"

Scrapple put his nose in the crook of my elbow, which meant he loved that. Me, too. "Yeah, Dad. That's way better than okay."

He handed me a brand-new Blackwing 602 pencil with a sharp point. "This is for you."

"Me? Wow! I get to have this? You always say it's the world's best and should be reserved for the most important things, like when you edit your manuscripts."

"Don't you think that writing a book about boy and dog detectives is important?"



Then he passed me one of the notebooks, just like the kind he uses for ideas about his Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook books which PS he and Mom don't allow me to read. Once when I was five and a half I snuck one off the shelf and started it but they caught me and I got in capital B big, capital T trouble. They said I had to be "at the very least eleven" which seemed like forever back then but now it's only three years and less than two months away which isn't too bad.

"This is great, Dad. It makes me feel like a real writer."

"You are a real writer, Eliot. I love the stories that you make up. You have a wonderful imagination."

"But I never wrote a whole book before, Dad. I'm still only seven.""

That's why we're going to write it together."

"With Scrapple, too."

"Definitely with Scrapple. So, for starters, is there a special time you'd like to write about?"

Scrap told me and I laughed. "He says Christmas because it's his favorite time along with his Gotcha Day in August when we got him from the shelter."

"I love those, too, but I meant the time when the story takes place. Do you want it to happen in the future when police cars could be spaceships? Or maybe in medieval times, when you'd be wearing armor?"

"Do you think there was armor for dogs, Dad?"

"I don't know, but that's what's where imagination can come in. How do you think Scrapple would look in armor?"

Scrapple shook his head so hard that one of his ears stayed on top of his head. "Are you kidding? It weighs a ton and if I have to go out in the rain, it'll rust."

"I take it that's a no?"

"Right, Dad. Um, I have a couple of ideas."

"Well, grab your pencil and we'll both write them down in our notebooks."

"Why do we both have to write them down?"

"As a back-up. Every writer needs that. What if we lost the notebook? But if we have two, no problem."

"Okay. Here's my idea, which is no matter when our story happens, it should be in New York City. And even though the boy and the dachshund are too young to be in the NYPD, they could be sort of affiliated, right?"

Dad's mouth made a big O and then he high-fived me. "Affiliated! Is that one of your new words of the week?"

"Yeah. and I'm excited I got a way to use it before my new set starts tomorrow. Maybe the boy and the dachshund could have a relative on the NYPD."

"Imagine that," Dad said. "What a coincidence!"

"You and Scrapple and I love coincidences."

"We do. Okay, write that down. The NYPD part."

We both did, but Dad was faster because he writes cursive and I don't really know how to do that yet so it takes me longer. "Here's another idea, really an answer to your question about time. If Scrapple thinks it's all right."

"Fire away."

"You know how I like reading about the olden days? One part of the old days that would be very interesting would be during World War Two when there a lot of people away in the Army and Navy and Marines and Air Force and Coast Guard. Did I leave anything out?"

"I think you got them all."

"Anyway with so many of them away in the war the police might need extra help."

"Because they're short-handed. Excellent point."

"Or short-legged."

"Good one, Scrapple! You're so funny."

"Thank you."

I was really laughing, so I told Dad Scrapple's joke and he leaned over to him and said, "That deserves a biscuit. Remind me later."

Scrap wagged his tail.

"I like the way things looked then, I mean in the movies we've watched that were in the nineteen forties. And wait, here's something really, really important. There were no computers, well, I mean Ada Lovelace figured out programming and that was in the eighteen hundreds and Alan Turing made his computer in nineteen thirty-six but hardly anyone knew about them. And another thing is that there weren't cell phones so you couldn't text anything or Google."

"The dachshund and the boy would have to rely more on their own wits, is that what you're saying?"

"Yeah. That would be cool, right?"

"It would. You could have telephones and telegrams, though. Very useful."

"And phone booths! Like Superman used."

"You'd have to pick me up in one of those, Eliot. I'm too short to reach the phone."

"I would. It's lucky you weigh only ten pounds."

"Let's write down about phones and telegrams and no computers, Eliot. Are we set, then? To have the book take place in New York during World War Two?"

"Yup. We could find a lot of photos online of what it looked like. That could inspire us, right?"

"You've found inspiration already? You guys work fast." That was Mom, who was coming down the stairs.

"Ah, but there's no greater inspiration than you," Dad said, and grabbed her hand and kissed it.

"I hope it's not going to get too mushy around here." I made a face at Scrapple that meant shhhh.

"Thank you, Castle. At the moment I feel that the only thing I inspire is greed in your two youngest daughters, who are such little guzzlers."

"Was I a guzzler, Mom?"

"No," she said, and ruffled my hair, which she likes to do. "You were always so interested in whatever was going on that it would take you ages to eat."

Then there was a little bit of a racket because Julia came in with Twins Two in their stroller. I have to say they looked really cute. Mom won't let them be dressed identically. They did have on matching overalls, but Hannah's were yellow with a big red H on the front and Ivy's were red with a big yellow I. "Hi, HI," I said and waved at them. "Hi, HI!" They are really smily and don't have any teeth yet. When I lost one last week I was going to write to the tooth fairy and ask her to give it to one of them but that wouldn't be fair to the other baby, so I didn't. Julia decided to take them for a walk into town because even though it was cloudy it wasn't raining anymore and she wanted to meet one of her friends for a cup of coffee. I think she likes showing off the twins and her friend is a nanny for a boy who is about the same age.

Once they were out the door Mom asked how we were doing. Dad had explained to me about the Five Ws, Who, What, When, Where, and Why so I told Mom about our Who, When, and Where.

"Can't very well have the other two until we figure out the plot," Dad said.

"I hope the What isn't a murder, Castle. This is a book for children."

"No murders, Mom, I promise. But we're going to have a mystery. Maybe the bad guy will smell gross and that's how the boy and dog detectives track him down. Especially the dog."

"I should hope so." Scrapple made a snuffly noise.

"On the trail already, huh?" Mom said and scratched him under his chin. "Well, I love what you have so far, but I have a question about the Who. What are you going to call them?"

"You mean like in Dad's books there's Nikki Heat who is really you and Jameson Rook who is really Dad?"

"They're not really Dad and me, you know."

"Uh huh."

That was Dad pretending to agree with Mom. He sounded like he meant it but I could tell he was pretending because he gets this tiny expression in his eye when he looks at her and then she looks back exactly the same way. It lasts for about half a second and they always look like they might laugh, too, even though they don't. I think it's a secret code. Maybe I will figure it out when we're writing this book and the boy and dog detectives are solving mysteries.

"Have you chosen some names for you and Scrapple? Because I think in your book those two young detectives are going to be a whole lot like you two."

"Good question, Mom. Besides, we don't want to keep calling them boy and dog. Let me ask Scrapple."

"What do you think, Scrap? What would you like?"

"Besides a biscuit, which Dad mentioned a while ago but hasn't given me? Lemme think."

"I'm going to think, too."

So we sat there for a while and all of a sudden Scrapple put his paw on my arm.

"I've got it! Remember that old movie we watched with Dad when Mom was in the hospital after Hannah and Ivy were born? It was a Sherlock Holmes mystery called 'The Hound of the Baskervilles.' I'm a hound. How about Baskerville?"

"That's perfect! For short sometimes you could be Bask. You like to bask in the sun so that would be good, right?"

"I like that. But how about your name?"

"I was thinking of famous detectives, but I just had another idea. How about if I'm Sidney, in honor of Docky."

"That's perfect, too. Tell Mom and Dad."

So I did. "Also, Scrapple was wondering when he was going to get that biscuit, Dad. You said he deserved one 'cause of his joke."

"Very true. I'll get one now."

"Docky is going to be very touched, Eliot," Mom said while Dad was in the kitchen.

"There's another important reason why I chose his name."

"What's that?"

"I think in the book that Baskerville and Sidney will talk to each other, just like Scrapple and I do. But that's a secret, and if anybody ever asked we'll just say Dad and I made it up, okay?"


"And in real life Docky can talk Dog, just like I do. That's one of the best things, and magic, in our family, isn't it?"

"It is." She gave me a big hug.

"Mom, don't cry."

"Happy crying, Eliot."

That was when Dad came back with two biscuits for Scrapple and some Oreos for the rest of us. "Did I miss anything?"

"Just that our son is a genius."

"I know that."

"Mom, you're not supposed to say that I'm a genius."

"Well, I'm allowed to once in a while. When it's just us."

You know what? Sometimes I love when it's just us.


A/N The book will begin in the next chapter, and I hope will offer some light-hearted diversion for our hard times.