Sitting on the sidelines of a youth soccer game at a Los Angeles park on Oct. 8, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes held hands. They kissed. She stroked his back; he stroked her hair. And yes, they kept an eye on the game, even as much of the rest of the crowd seemed more interested in sizing up the star couple—and, most especially, Holmes’s wow-she’s-definitely-pregnant tummy.
Ignoring a gathering throng of paparazzi, the pair instead cheered on Cruise’s 12-year-old daughter Isabella, high-fived when her team scored a goal and happily strode off the field when the game ended in a tie.
Word was just out: The step-mom-to-be is also a mom-to-be. On Oct. 5, the couple nicknamed TomKat announced that, yes, a kitten is on the way. “Tom and Katie are very excited, and the entire family is very excited,” Cruise’s sister and publicist Lee Anne DeVette told PEOPLE. That may be an understatement for a couple who have been anything but reserved about their head-over-heels, shout-it-from-the-sofa romance. “He called me up the night before the news broke,” says Cruise’s pal, director Cameron Crowe. “He’s already an enthusiastic guy, so you can imagine how happy he was.”
For her part, Holmes, 26, “has never felt better,” notes DeVette. The engaged pair remain as revved-up as ever, smooching up a storm between takes on Cruise’s Mission: Impossible 3 set and bike riding and hiking together on weekends. Impending motherhood has not even dampened Holmes’s enthusiasm for her fiancé’s other passion: motorcycling. Says DeVette: “She loves it.”
Although the couple have not disclosed a due date. Holmes is clearly far enough along to be significantly showing. But if her exact bump size remains the subject of much speculation (see box), the sudden leap into parenthood didn’t exactly come as a shock. This is, after all, the same couple who took their romance public within weeks of meeting last April, then got engaged barely two months later. And they have made no secret of their desire to start a family together: When asked by PEOPLE in June if they were planning to have children, Holmes smiled and replied simply, “Yes.”
Holmes is getting her wish, while Cruise is preparing to become a new father again at 43. If they seemed deliriously giddy before, it’s safe to say they’re more than a little jazzed now. Shooting all day on Oct. 2 on the L.A. set of Mission: Impossible 3, where Holmes has been joining Cruise daily, “they looked almost like high school kids, unbelievably lovey-dovey,” says a source. “She’d go up on the stage with him and they’d hug and kiss in front of everybody. It was pretty much before every single take. They just looked overjoyed.”
Friends of the Toledo, Ohio-bred Holmes say she is perfectly suited to her upcoming role. “She almost seems born for motherhood,” says Oliver Hudson, actress Kate Hudson‘s brother and an old pal who costarred with Holmes on the 2002-03 season of Dawson’s Creek. “She’s a nurturer. She’s got mother qualities a lot of girls her age don’t have. She wouldn’t be having a baby if she wasn’t ready.”
A friend from Holmes’s Before Cruise era also wishes her well while lamenting that the actress has fallen out of contact with many of their old circle since leaving her New York City apartment for Cruise’s L.A. home. “She found her happiness,” this friend says. “She’s going to be a mother at 27. She has everything she wants.” As for her now on-hold career, “when you’re a young mom, you’re closer in age to your kids and you can have a career at the same time,” says former Dawson’s Creek executive producer Paul Stupin. “Her career is still blossoming.”
Among Holmes’s hometown crowd, there was surprise that the girl with the traditional midwestern, Catholic upbringing opted for motherhood before marriage. “I didn’t expect to hear that at all,” says Jessica Drouillard, 26, Holmes’s old friend and high school classmate at Notre Dame Academy. “She always seemed to have her act together, and getting married first would be part of the plan.” A friend of the Holmes family, who remain in Toledo, says the family is “supportive…. They have to give way to the privacy of Tom and Katie and let them proceed at their own pace.” Still, “Katie is so far away. It’s challenging for them,” says the friend. “I know they’re staying in close contact with her, and they are positive and loving. That’s how they are.”
While mom-to-be Holmes can draw on her parents’ expertise, her fiancé “is a great dad already,” says Cruise’s pal, actress Leah Remini. Isabella and 10-year-old Connor—whom Cruise adopted as infants with ex-wife Nicole Kidman—”are so cool,” says Remini. “You can sit and talk to them about life.” Adds Cruise’s M:I3 costar Greg Grunberg: “They are really well-adjusted and engaging, really pleasant and wonderful to be around.” The kids have been fixtures on the M:I3 set, where, despite 12-hour workdays, Cruise “is having a ball,” says DeVette. And there’s hardly a need to worry about whether the actor will be able to keep up with a new tot. “He’s almost more of a stuntman than anything,” says M:I3 director JJ Abrams. “My stuntman is standing there saying, ‘Tom, can I please do one?’ I’m nervous every day.”
With filming set to wrap in November or December, Cruise will be giving the stunts a rest in plenty of time for the baby’s arrival. So will wedding bells ring before then? “They have not set a date,” says DeVette. Nor are the couple commenting on whether Holmes, who has said she is “really excited” about Scientology and has taken classes on her fiancé’s religion, will follow the guidelines unique to a Scientology-style birth.
In the meantime, friends of the couple’s are already picking out gifts and imagining the endless possibilities to come. Cruise’s former costar Dakota Fanning, 11, says she sent “little baby Uggs.” And given Cruise’s daredevil streak, “I think that this kid, if I had to guess, will be a stuntperson,” offers Abrams. Girl or boy, future action hero or not, “that baby is going to have a good life, because of the good, caring people that [Tom and Katie] are,” says Remini. “That baby is going to be very, very loved.”
By Michelle Tauber. Margi Blash, Alexis Chiu, Tom Cunneff, Lycia Naff, Brenda Rodriguez and Nicholas White in Los Angeles, Mark Dagostino and Jennifer Odell in New York City and Amy Mindell and Barbara Sandler in Toledo