People Staff
January 19, 2006 12:00 PM

Ever wonder when Brad Pitt will get around to giving Angelina Jolie a ring? Well, quit wondering. Visiting Angel Gemas, a shop in the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo on Jan. 10, the couple perused cigars (him) and jewelry (her) with a playful Maddox, 4, and baby Zahara, 12 months, in tow.

When a pregnant Jolie – “she looked radiant,” says clerk Victoria Salcé – spied a gold ring made with larimar, a local blue volcanic stone, “[Pitt] said, ‘It’s very pretty – do you want it?’ ” recalls Salcé. Jolie said yes, and Pitt plunked down $48 for the bauble, which she quickly slipped on. If it wasn’t exactly a wedding band, in every other way, says an onlooker, “they seemed like a happy family.”

On Jan. 13 the pair joined Jean in making a hand sign symbolizing Yamp#233;le Haiti's goals of peace, love and an end to violence.

Thrilled is more like it. Not to mention growing, globe-trotting and deeply in love. Since Jolie revealed Jan. 10 that she and Pitt are expecting a child this summer, the couple – who never previously even acknowledged a relationship – have demonstrated just how close they are. First order of business: a goodwill trip to Haiti to visit programs supported by friend Wyclef Jean’s aid group Yéle Haiti – where Pitt, 42, and Jolie, 30, couldn’t help beaming when they caught each other’s eye.

Jolie “wants to do good for those who don’t have anything, and she’s brought someone into her life who feels the same,” says a friend. Adds a source close to Pitt: “He found someone who is committed. This is a perfect situation.”

This time last winter, Pitt’s split from Jennifer Aniston appeared to put him further than ever from a dream of starting a family. Now, with a baby on the way and a petition pending to adopt Maddox and Zahara (a hearing is set for Jan. 19 in L.A.), he’s an overnight family guy – and sources have said that the role of husband is likely to follow the adoptions.

In Haiti, Jean surprised Pitt and Jolie with an Adam and Eve-inspired painting by artist Fritzner Chery depicting the couple with Maddox and Zahara. (The serpent symbolizes fertility; the owl good luck.)

“You know that twinkle in his eye that everyone talks about? That twinkle is real, and it’s because of Angelina,” says a source on the set of his recently wrapped movie, The Assassination of Jesse James. “He is thoroughly enjoying his new role as a father.” Adds his Jesse James costar Mary-Louise Parker: “He’s already a dad, so I think he’ll be wonderful [with the new baby]. He’s a great guy, conscientious and kind. I’m happy for both of them.”

How are the Jolie-Pitts making it work? By being surprisingly down-to-earth – if glamorous – parents. At home in California, Jolie drives Maddox to school herself; Pitt sometimes commutes to his production-company offices on his motorcycle. Apart from family outings to the beach and the local toy store, they tend to savor a homebody lifestyle.

That is, when they’re actually home. In the Dominican Republic, where the couple spent three days before going to Haiti on Jan. 13, Pitt played Mr. Mom while Jolie filmed scenes for the upcoming drama The Good Shepherd.

At their Santo Domingo hotel, Pitt took Maddox and Zahara for joyrides in the glass elevators and let Maddox stroll a treadmill in the hotel gym, where their mutual affection was obvious. “Maddox is very talkative around [Pitt],” says an observer. “When he came into the health club, they were holding hands, and they were holding hands when they left.”

The family (with an unidentified companion) touched down in Florida on Jan. 14.

Comfortable as a dad, Pitt seems equally at ease as a supportive partner to Jolie, who struggled with nausea and discomfort in the 80º weather on the Shepherd set. “She was willing to do her job, and she was a complete professional,” says an on-set source, “but you could tell that she was pushing through.” Still, pregnancy has done little to dampen Jolie’s activism – something Pitt has also embraced. Pre-Brangelina he directed much of his extracurricular energy into architecture and motorcycling; now he’s also sharing his girlfriend’s save-the-world ethos. (He’s followed her into flying lessons as well.) “She is very into all these causes,” says the source close to Pitt, “and he realizes he has the power [to help too].”

In Haiti the pair reveled in a visit to a Port-au-Prince school. “They both seemed to fully engage with the kids,” says Hugh Locke, executive director of Yéle Haiti. “They were totally transported by the experience.”

Later, back at the hotel, the couple’s joy about their new baby was especially clear. “She looked so happy to be pregnant,” says an observer. And the dad-to-be? “Like the cat who swallowed the canary, all proud of himself.” So don’t be surprised if Pitt buys another ring for Jolie soon. “He’s the kind of guy who wants marriage,” says the source close to Pitt. “And it’s a great match.”

Did Brad Tell Jen?

Did Pitt give his ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston, a heads-up about Jolie’s pregnancy before the world found out? Pitt didn’t break the news to Aniston himself, says a source close to the actress. But he did make sure that she was told prior to the announcement. “Jennifer is fine, she’s not upset at all,” says an insider. “She has moved on from this a long time ago.”

So it would seem. On Jan. 11 – the day PEOPLE reported Jolie’s pregnancy – Aniston dined with beau Vince Vaughn until 2 a.m. at L.A.’s Velvet Margarita Cantina. The pair have been spending time at Aniston’s house and at dance clubs, hitting the hot spot Dragonfly Jan. 15.

Then Aniston got set to head for the Jan. 19 premiere of her film Friends with Money at Utah’s Sundance Film Festival. “She’s looking more beautiful than I’ve ever seen her,” says actress Melissa George, who worked with Aniston on Friends and the movie Derailed. “She looks like she’s happier than ever.”

• By Michelle Tauber and Greg Adkins. Steve Helling in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Sharon Cotliar and K.C. Baker in New York City, Michael Fleeman in Los Angeles and Christine Kilpatrick in Calgary

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