February 13, 1995 12:00 PM

CHRISTIAN SLATER, IT SEEMS, HAS been romantically linked to, intriguingly seen with—and rendered adorably incoherent by—a large number of Hollywood’s under-30 set. For those keeping score, past loves include Winona Ryder, Samantha Mathis and model Christy Turlington. But sliding through films (and L.A. parties) like a neo-Jack Nicholson—shades slipping from his nose, cigarette glued to his lip—Slater, 25, has never been ready to, uh, like, you know…commit. Or as he put it before his recent and shortlived liaison with Turlington: “The relationship thing is so tricky.”

Yet he is not easily discouraged. The costar of Interview with the Vampire and Murder in the First recently produced a pretty serious diamond solitaire. The pretty serious recipient: Nina Peterson Huang, 32, a fledgling screenwriter who is eclectically ethnic (Cherokee, Swedish, German, Chinese) and ever so patient.

Huang met Slater through friends five years ago and moved in with him three years later. But in their Hollywood Hills home, life has not always been blissful—and not just because of other women. The actor, convicted of drunk driving in 1990, has been on probation ever since. Then, last December, he was charged with criminal possession of a weapon when airport officials in New York City discovered a 9-mm Beretta handgun in his carry-on bag. (He’s due in court March 3 and, because of the probationary violation, could face up to a seven-year sentence.)

All that said, Slater and Huang “seem to have a real comfortable relationship,” says a crew member on the set of Murder. “It was kind of weird watching them walk around Alcatraz together, holding hands.”

But Huang didn’t mind the dismal setting. One especially grueling night, says actress Betsy Monroe, “she stayed waiting when we were shooting until 2 a.m. You’d think she’d be home! But she was there for him.”

Although few close to the couple will comment, the actor himself says he’s ready to get serious—even if he’s not yet prepared to set a date. “I feel like I’m kinda settled,” he told PEOPLE in 1993. “Even if it gets topsy-turvy. We love each other and…”—uh, you know, pause to inhale on that cigarette—”…we’ll see where it goes.”

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