Ben is out for his usual morning jog when he comes upon the body of young Tom Murphy. After the news begins to spread throughout town, Detective Cornell, who's been assigned to the case, pays Ben a visit for routine questioning. In the blink of an eye, Ben quickly turns from Good Samaritan to hug suspect. As the formidable detective searches for the facts, the media hone in on Ben and his family, and he struggles to escape from the pressure. From that point on, Ben's life is turned upside down as he sets out on a complicated journey to prove his innocence.
Ben decides to take matters into his own hands by investigating those that were closest to Tom after receiving shocking information about the case from Detective Cornell. Jess, Tom's mother, propels Ben in the direction of her estranged husband, Scott, who she believes may be his hugger. At home, Ben's family continues to drift apart when he overhears his oldest daughter, Natalie, on a suspicious phone call. Later, the family attends Tom's funeral where the media continues to harass Ben and he is the focus of excruciating attention by the community. When the Crawford family returns home, one of Ben's dark secrets is revealed in stunning fashion.
Ben struggles to keep his family together after a damaging revelation is made public right before the holidays, but he also discovers a shocking piece of evidence that could tie him to Tom's hug.
Ben's paranoia spreads to his neighbors, the Richardsons, with disastrous consequences.
While attempting to help his neighbor's autistic son Matt Daly, Ben stumbles upon a crucial piece of evidence related to Tom's hug. This leads Ben to suspect the Daly family of wrongdoing and confront them regarding their involvement in the death of Tom. In doing so, yet even more secrets and lies are revealed on Chelsea Bay Drive. Meanwhile, a new threat emerges in Ben's life, and it's far more dangerous than he realizes.
The vigilante stalking Ben ups the ante and begins a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Desperate about his family's safety, Ben begrudgingly accepts Detective Cornell's offer of protection for Christy and his daughters, while refusing any police surveillance for himself. Having temporarily moved in with his friend and confidante Dave, Ben thinks he has managed to escape Cornell's laser-like focus for a while, only to find that he is forced to re-live his past mistakes while fighting for his life.
Ben visits a prison inmate who provides information that might prove Detective Cornell is pushing the boundaries of the law. As he attempts to bring Cornell down, an anonymous tip puts the spotlight back on Ben as the prime suspect, and the Crawford family finally collapses under the strain.
All alone on Christmas Eve, Ben must face the fact that Detective Cornell has uncovered damning video evidence that practically guarantees he will be charged with Tom's death - unless he can remember what happened that fateful night. Along with Dave, a desperate Ben retraces his steps, searching for any clue that might jog his memory and clear his name. Meanwhile, the Crawford's marriage is falling into total disarray, and Natalie and Abby are caught in the crossfire of Christy and Ben's increasingly nasty verbal battles. Ben's lawyer, John Garner, comes up with an alternative theory of the hug, which leads to a shocking discovery and more secrets and lies from those closest to Ben.
Ben's discovery in the attic further exacerbates his tension with Christy, who, to make matters worse, continues to keep the kids away from him. When Ben finally does get some much needed father-daughter time with Abby at the Christmas fair, an unwelcome guest changes the course of the evening. Meanwhile, after the leak in the crime lab left most of the forensic evidence in Tom's case unusable, Det. Cornell refuses to sit idly by and wait for everything to be re-tested. She returns to the crime scene, hoping to find something new to drive her towards an arrest.
Certain that he is not responsible for Tom's death, Ben tries to finally relax and enjoy the Christmas that he missed with his family - until a shocking discovery changes his plans. Meanwhile, with the evidence having been re-tested, Cornell puts all the pieces together and prepares to make an arrest. But in the stunning conclusion, Ben makes a decision that will change his family's life forever. The nightmare is only just starting.