Prologue: Hailey will never forget the night that she was at Burgers Etc. and saw Robert Q meet Darlene. I'll never forget either because literally one page later, the book starts out with the same exact line.
Hailey and her roommate Nell, who is some amazing gymnast, are in the restaurant with some friends when they see Robert Q. Fresh off a breakup with his yuppie girlfriend Gerrie, he's a Big Man On Campus looking for some action. When he sees the hot to trot waitress Darlene, he asks her out. Hailey thinks it's disgusting because he's a pig and Darlene can do better.
A few nights later, she runs into Darlene in the bathroom of her dorm while she's there with Robert visiting a friend. Darlene is super excited about dating a rich guy and how he's so different from her old boyfriend Bo. She remembers that Hailey was nice to her at the restaurant and asks for some hair and makeup tips. Hailey invites her to her dorm room, and she and Nell give her a short makeover. Robert shows up, gets super nasty, rips things out of her hair, and drags her out of the room as he snaps about how she made him late.
The next time Hailey sees Darlene, she doesn't even recognize her. She nows looks less like a townie and more like every other rich and snotty girl on campus. While in the bathroom, she overhears some girls talking about how she'll never fit in with them and how Robert will eventually dump her and go back to Gerrie.
During a big dance on campus, Hailey overhears the same girls gossiping about how Robert drops off Darlene at home and then goes to see Gerrie to try and get back together with her. When Hailey goes back to the dance, she sees Robert dancing with his ex-girlfriend and Darlene crying. Before they can talk much, Bo shows up. Proving that she clearly has a type, Bo demands that she leave the party with him and gets a little physical. He shouts at Robert and tells Darlene that she better get in his truck and leave and that he'll be waiting for her. He then warns people not to laugh at him because he means business.
Darlene rushes off in tears and Hailey runs after her. She keeps blabbing about how much she loves Robert and how he loves her too. Darlene completely disregards what happened with Bo and claims that it doesn't matter because she has Robert. The only problem is that they then hear Robert trying to bribe his friend Richard into taking her home because he wants to ditch her and be with Gerrie. Darlene flips out and storms off.
She may not have gone far though. When they attempt to leave later that night, someone hits Gerrie in the back of the head with a rock and knocks her out. Robert briefly thinks she's dead and demands someone call the paramedics. When they arrive, all he cares about is that someone keep an eye on his Miata. Dear god.
Hailey tries to talk about things with Nell, but all she cares about is taking her nightly run. She's usually only gone for 30 minutes and when she doesn't come back in an hour, Hailey freaks out and follows her. Nell pops up and they talk some more. Let's just say that she really, really, really doesn't care for Gerrie or what happened to her and that she may even think the snotty rich girl had it coming.
Darlene then calls to invite her to a pizza party at her house. She basically rewrote the entire history of what happened at the party. She now thinks that Robert's friends looked down on her and that they forced him to dance with his ex. If she can get them all at her house for a party, things will be fine. Hailey shows up at her house and notes that it looks like someone decorated for a fourth grade birthday party and that Darlene is wearing a hot pink off the shoulder party dress. She looks half sad and half crazy that no one else showed up. Darlene goes a little crazy and attacks a letter jacket he left her with a knife.
Despite all this, she still thinks he likes her. Hailey eventually gives up on trying to talk to her and heads to the library, but then hears a weird noise outside. On her way home, she sees what looks like a fire in Robert's frat house. When she gets closer, she realizes that someone set his car on fire. No worries though, he gets a new one like two days later. Too bad Gerrie won't get to see it. Apparently the accident damaged her brain and she has to have some surgery.
There's some random thing with this guy Finn who works at a local restaurant. They kind of like each other, but he only turns up at random moments. He shows up to tell her that Gerrie was leaving school, and he pops up later to talk to her about Darlene. Though she keeps talking about her older brother Michael who goes to school at Salem University, no one seems to know him and how he would beat up Robert for her.
Hailey hears word from Darlene that her grandmother got sick and that she has to leave town. Some other classmates tell her that the police went to talk to Darlene about the fire and the car. When she comes back to her room that night, she finds that someone attacked the room. They ripped up all their clothes, tore the posters off the wall, and even trashed her graduation photo. The school moves them to another room because apparently it will take like five days for the cops to document the scene. Finn comes to help her move, and Nell tells her that the only thing missing were their hair and makeup bags. The last time they used them were with Darlene. Hey! They wear makeup as often as I did in college, which was like never.
For some reason, a bunch of kids decide to take the bus into the city for dinner. Robert's friend Richard needs to pick up his new car, which he can't stop bragging about. He left it in town earlier in the day for reasons no one explains. When he goes to get it, he sees someone in the car. Though he thinks someone is trying to steal it, the person actually comes after him. The driver manages to hit him head on. By the time they get to him, he's dead, which immediately makes everyone gossip about how it was clearly Darlene.
Darlene calls from her grandmother's house after seeing the report about his death on the news. She lets it slip that Richard and Gerrie were very, very close. Not only did they date when Robert dumped her, but Richard came to see her in the hospital every day. Robert got so jealous that the two even had a fight right outside Gerrie's hospital room.
The next odd thing that happens is that someone turns in two of Robert's closest female friends for cheating on a math test. That someone put a copy of the test in one girl's locker and changed their test answers to match the sheet exactly. Hailey thinks someone set them up, but Nell believes that they really did it.
Hailey later realizes that she hasn't seen her purse since they went out to eat the night Richard died. It turns out that Nell is super paranoid, so she knows that Hailey didn't just leave it in the restaurant. Finn conveniently shows up with her purse, which he claims he found downstairs at the front desk of her dormitory. And yet she still doesn't find him the slightest bit suspicious.
Nor does she find it suspicious when she nearly dies and he shows up. She comes home one day and sees the window open. When she goes to close it, someone grabs her from behind and throws her out the window. She wakes up in her bed with Finn standing over her. He says that her purse got snagged on the sill and saved her life. I guess her dorm doesn't require any type of key to gain access to the building or the rooms like mine did.
Darlene then calls to talk about Robert. No one at his fraternity will let her talk to him, and she pretends like they just don't like her and that he didn't tell them to not let her through under any circumstances. She mainly just wants to talk about how he's probably super lonely since his friends keep going away. Since Hailey is still suspicious of everyone but Finn, she tries to find some information about Darlene's brother. According to school records, there is no record of a Michael Riggs anywhere in the school.
This causes her to go to Darlene's house. She wants to ask her some questions, but guess who she finds right on her doorstep? It's Finn. He claims that he wanted to ask Darlene some questions too and then changes the subject. Since he's oh so cute and dreamy, she doesn't think he's suspicious at all. She completely forgets about everything that was on her mind and starts talking about going out to eat. I don't think I like where this is going.
Hailey really wants to see him and stops by his dorm, but a guy there says no one by his name lives there. She runs into a mutual friend who says he does, but then she sees someone else who says she never saw him there and never thought he lived there. Finn suggests they go out on a double date with his friend Pete and Nell. She completely forgets that he's acting shady and agrees, but Nell refuses to go because she has to work on a paper.
They never really go on a date because they just sit around and talk about all the weird stuff going down. Finn conveniently points out that if someone had her purse, they could have made a copy of her dorm room key. I guess they do use keys. She freaks out and runs home, but doesn't have her room keys. She keeps banging on the door and getting no answer when the door suddenly comes open. Hailey thinks someone kidnapped Nell, but she's just asleep with her headphones on. Well that was anticlimactic.
Hailey and Finn then share a few moments with her once again forgetting that he's probably a liar. He says he'll call her later, and when she asks him for his number, he claims he can't give it to her because he has to go to the library. When he leaves, she sees through her window that he gets on a bus bound for downtown. That causes her to hop in her car and follow him.
She follows him all the way to Darlene's house and sees Darlene's mom open the door. When she gets back, another girl says that Finn called for her. He seemed worried when she wasn't there and then got really cold, which made the other girl think he assumed she was out with a guy.
Since Hailey still doesn't know what to think, she calls Darlene's house the next morning and talks to her mom. She learns that Mike looks a lot like his father, who his mom calls handsome. Hailey met him once before and thinks he's far from handsome. The mom tells her what he wore that day and where his class is. She heads over but doesn't see anyone wearing a handmade blue sweater like Mike was supposed to be wearing. She does run into someone else and learn that Mike is Darlene's half-brother and has a different last name.
Now she's almost as irritated as I am with this story and calls Darlene. Darlene lets her know that she and Bo got back together and that he's her one true love. She then reveals that her brother goes by his middle name: Finn. Hailey hangs up when she hears someone walking toward her room. It's her friend Pete who is the same guy that told her Finn lived on campus.
Hailey freaks out because she realizes that she hasn't seen Nell in awhile and runs away with Pete on her tail. Pete confesses that he knew all along Finn was Darlene's brother and that he kept his secret. Finn wanted to remain on the down low until he found out who hurt Gerrie that night. They find Finn and then Hailey wanders off by herself. Pete tells her right before she leaves that he thinks Finn hit Richard that night.
Ugh, this book is way too long. So Pete catches up with her and says that he called the cops. They are issuing a warrant for Finn's arrest for murder, but he knows that he's at home in his darkroom. Even though it was never mentioned before, Finn is now a photographer. He drives her to the house, takes her into the basement, and then attacks. Pete, who was barely in the book, was always in love with Darlene, but since they all grew up together, which also was never mentioned, she viewed him as another brother. He hit Gerrie and did all the other stuff but didn't think anyone would blame Darlene.
They fight, she gets away, and locks herself in the darkroom. He starts attacking the door with a dumbbell to try and break it down and get to her. Pete manages to break a hole in the door, unlock it, and come after her. She grabs a bottle of chemicals and throws the liquid in his eyes. While he rushes around screaming, she runs upstairs and calls 911. Then she basically hangs outside the house, sees Finn coming down the street, and thinks about how much she loves the way he moves and how they'll now have time to figure things out.
Oh. My. God. This book was so long and didn't make sense. Pete is seriously only in maybe three scenes before the end. Plus, Finn is Darlene's older brother. They explain that his dad left him money when he died, which is how he went to college. He's a freshman. Darlene is his little sister but old enough to go to college too. How does that make sense? They have the same mom and are pretty much defined as the same age but aren't twins. I'm so confused.