Author's Note: It's been a really long time. I've had a lot of stuff going on (family issues, applying to college, breaking up with my boyfriend if you really want to know). But now I'm back, hopefully for a while. Chapter Nine is already written so expect another update in a few days.

Chapter Eight: She's Just a Beautiful Disaster

Claire sat on the hood of Cherry's red Corvette the next day with her chin in the palm of her hand, looking at the setting sun in the distance. Marcia had just been dumped by her boyfriend Randy and decided that she needed a girl's night. So she had invited Cherry and Claire to her house to sleep over.

"Okay so I bought some magazines and face masks. I've got the Ouija board in the trunk of my car…am I forgetting anything?" Cherry asked coming out of the drugstore with a plastic shopping bag.

"Ice cream." Claire said. Cherry smacked her forehead, she handed Claire the bag and turned to go back into the drug store to buy a pint or two of ice cream.

"Hello Claire," a familiar voice said making her jump.

"Ponyboy you scared me!" Claire said putting her hand to her chest. Pony laughed and walked over to her, Two-Bit and Johnny in tow. "What are you guys up to?" she asked raising one of her eyebrows at Two-Bit, who winked at her.

"Just heading down to the Nightly Double," Pony said. Claire nodded.

"Want to join us doll face?" Two-Bit asked, cocking one of his eyebrows and grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"Soda would be awfully mad if she did and he wasn't there," Johnny commented softly. Claire sighed at the mention of Soda but smiled at Johnny. He hardly ever talked to her.

"I would but I have plans. I'm just waiting for Cherry…" Claire explained.

"Cherry?" Two-Bit asked.

"You know, that girl with the red hair Dally's always bothering." Ponyboy said, going crimson around the ears the way he did when he was embarrassed. Two-Bit grinned and punched him lightly on the shoulder.

"Looks like Soda's not the only Curtis to be bitten by the love bug," Two-Bit said jerking his head in Claire's direction. "Hey maybe you and Claire could work out some kind of deal, Ponyboy. Since Miss Belmont is friends with Cherry after all." Two-Bit said laughing. Johnny shook his head and Claire giggled under her breath as Ponyboy muttered something incoherent.

"Who are you talking to Claire? Oh hi Two-Bit, Johnny. Hey Ponyboy," Cherry said, clutching the bag containing the ice cream. "What are you doing here?"

"We're heading over to the movies," Two-Bit said. He kicked Pony in the shin.

"Ouch!" Pony muttered. Cherry raised her eyebrows. "Uh…I mean. We would ask you to come along but Claire already said you have plans."

"That's really sweet of you Ponyboy, thank you. I'm sorry we can't come with you. Maybe some other time." Cherry said nodding to him. "Well, we better be going Claire or the ice cream is going to melt before we get to Marcia's." Cherry said getting into the driver's seat. Claire nodded and hopped off the hood, her navy blue circle skirt swishing at her knees.

"Goodbye boys." Claire said, walking over to the passenger side of the car.

"Bye," Johnny muttered.

"Bye-Bye!" Two-Bit waved.

"Claire?" Ponyboy asked. Claire turned to look at him. "You do know that Soda isn't going to give up, don't you?" Pony asked. Claire laughed.

"I think I'm beginning to realize that. Will you tell him hello for me?" Claire asked, getting into the car. Pony nodded and waved as Cherry pulled out of the drugstore parking lot and out onto the road to go to Marcia's.

"Claire? May I ask why you don't want to go out with Soda?" Cherry ventured to inquire as they drove to Marcia's house. Claire sighed. She was getting sick of being asked this question. But Cherry was her good friend, the one who invited her into her group when she was new and didn't know anybody. The least Claire could do was answer a simple question.

"I don't know. It's kind of complicated." Claire said halfheartedly. "I know he's only asking me out just because of the way I look…" Claire said, glancing in the passenger side mirror of Cherry's car. The wind was playing with her curly brown hair; her green eyes stared back at her. Claire touched her pale skin that matched that of a porcelain doll. Claire had once read in a book that beauty is a gift. As far as presents were concerned Claire felt her beauty was up there with the Trojan horse.

"Claire…" Cherry said shaking her head. "That can't be all he's interested in. Trust me. Bob has told me about many guys who just like the way you look. But none of them are putting up such a fight to go out with you like Soda is. In all the time I've known him, he's never gone out with a Soc."

"It's just a contest for him. He just wants to prove to his friends that he can get a good looking girl…" Claire muttered. "Just like every other guy."

"You can't really believe that…can you Claire?" Cherry asked. "You don't have faith that people like you for who you are and not what you look like?" Cherry glanced over to her friend who was biting her lip.

"I don't know…" Claire said, twirling a lock of her hair.