11-year-old Josie arrives in upstate New York to live with her great-aunt after her mother abandons her father for no apparent reason. There, she meets her 25-year-old cousin, Jared, who is studying to be a minister. Her stay is very unpleasant; she is physically and psychologically abused by both her mother and great-aunt. She is also bullied without mercy at her new school. Her mother turns her away for love and comfort. Feeling abandoned and unloved, she turns to Jared for the affection she longs for. However, Jared's intents are anything but to love and care for her. He uses false affection to get her to self-mutilate herself, drink her own blood, look at pornographic material, and endure verbal abuse from him. He soon begins sexually abusing her, which Josie mistakes to be him expressing true love to her, although she knows that what they are doing is wrong. Josie eventually discovers that her mother is incapable of love because she was always felt unimpressed by Josie's father and several other men. After staying there for an extended period of time, Josie starts to have a psychological breakdown within herself, probably from her taboo relationship with Jared. At one point in the novellette, she and Jared, after initiating sexual intercourse by a creek, sit together. Then, Jared cuts his chest with a stone, and Josie licks the blood off before he dies from blood loss. This is the climax of the novella. After, she leaves the mansion, breaking free of Jared's prison.