It's a few days before prom and while the students should be focusing on the teenage rite of passage, they're more concerned for their safety.
As Samantha King walks home from school on the Monday before prom, her mind is on the upcoming prom (and losing her virginity), graduation, grumbling at the extra homework she has and the upcoming future. While preoccupied, she doesn't notice Jimmy Hawthorn lurking in the bushes of the old Hood house.
Before she knows it, Jimmy's come up behind her and shuttles her off to an underground shelter behind the abandoned house.
Once inside the shelter, Jimmy bounds and gags her where he begins to set his fantasy of abduction and bondage into motion.
With Samantha safely shackled, he heads home as if nothing has happened and enjoys some time with his family.
The next morning before school, he goes to check on Samantha and taunts her, heads home and then off to school.
At school, there's some talk about the disappearance of Samantha, but its chalked up that she's runaway, however, her best friend, Megan Reed thinks that there's something much more sinister in her disappearance.
The night before, she heard her father (the deputy) on the phone with Samantha's hysterical mother and tells her that they can't do anything for forty eight hours and since Samantha is eighteen, they can't get involved.
As rumors begin to run rampant, Jimmy's friend, Tina, has plans of her own.
Having come to Ashland Creek High as a new student in January, she really doesn't know anyone and after mulling it over, she asks Jimmy to the prom. Surprisingly, he agrees to go and she has fantasies of a lifetime together with him.
Jimmy's brother, Alan, has noticed that Jimmy's been acting a little strange over the last two days and can't get to the root of what's nagging at him. He can't quite wrap his head around the strange hours that he goes for bike rides and while Jimmy tells him that it's to clear his head, Alan falls for the story.
After Jimmy checks up on Samantha again, his fantasies begin to grow darker as he begins to torture her severely, yet at the same time wishes that it were he who was the one bound. He wants to know what it feels like and as he brings those fantasies to life by using Samantha.
On Wednesday, Jimmy overhears Megan and Samantha's boyfriend talking by his locker. Megan is convinced that there's foul play at hand and since a search party hasn't been started, she tells him that she's going to start her own investigation if her father won't.
While Jimmy knows that no one else knows of the secret shelter, he manages to "run into" Megan outside the Hood house and tells her that he's found something and she should come and take a look. Before she knows it, he's taken her into the shelter and she sees Samantha bound.
Megan tries to rescue her, but isn't successful and she's now a prisoner of Jimmy's.
Once he's confident that she can't escape, he goes about his daily life and at one point when Samantha has regained consciousness, Megan tells her about a plan she has, but she resists telling Megan that he'll beat them both.
Megan isn't sure what she means and later when Jimmy comes back to check on them, Megan tests him and he beats Samantha, while threatening her.
With prom a few days away, Alan announces that he's going to go to the prom as well (even though he's a sophomore) since a girl in one of his classes tells him that her date flaked out.
Even though Jimmy has sexually abused Samantha, he gives himself up to Tina as the two spend Friday afternoon at her house.
On the day of the prom, Tina's mother, Rebecca, tells her why she abandoned her as a baby and Tina doesn't believe her and still tells her that when she's eighteen she's moving out on her own. It wasn't her plan to move in with her after her father was killed in an accident, and while Rebecca has been trying to make amends, Tina isn't having any of it.
As the prom gets underway (with heavy police presence) things get out of hand and Jimmy's secret is about to be revealed.
The question is can he keep it a secret, or will he become a serial killer in the future?
For the most part, this is a really twisted and dark thriller, however, it does have some really good parts to it.
There really are no secrets, but the abuse of Megan and Samantha are extreme, even though we don't know why Jimmy targeted Samantha in the first place. His intention at first was to do this as an experiment and if he liked it, he planned on continuing this in the future.
However, when Megan began her "investigating" his plans were changed and now his fantasy was to turn the two into sex slaves and lead a normal life. His plans may or may not have included Tina, but he questions himself as to if she would be willing to be a part of his experiment and he's torn with himself after the two tenderly make love.
There are a lot of graphic torture scenes, but Malmborg does a good job with showing the emotional toll Jimmy's having and how split his personality is.
As far as the ending goes, I didn't see it coming, although there is a line that Megan says to herself which should have been a tip off.
I'm almost certain that this is the darkest book I've ever read and consider it a warning!