December 07, 2009 12:00 PM

Tom Cruise likes his romantic gestures grand. And so, celebrating his third wedding anniversary with wife Katie Holmes, he pulled out all the stops not once, not twice, but three times. At Boston’s Bricco Italian restaurant on Nov. 14, Cruise rented out the entire second floor. “Katie said, ‘Where is everybody?’ Tom said, ‘Surprise! This is all for us!'” says Ron Leduc, director of operations for Bricco. The next night the pair feasted on steak and a seven-layer chocolate cake at Abe & Louie’s restaurant, another favorite spot during their stay in Boston, where Cruise has spent most of the fall filming the action-romance Knight & Day. And then on their actual anniversary date, Nov. 18, Cruise made sure to stop by the Long Island, N.Y., set of Holmes’s indie movie The Romantics before he had to jet to Austria to continue filming. Joined by their 3-year-old daughter Suri and Holmes’s mom, Kathy, “they had a great day,” says a source close to Cruise. “They are a team and very supportive of each other.”

Three years after tying the knot in an Italian castle, Cruise, 47, and Holmes, 30, are defying doubters who have scrutinized their romance since their whirlwind courtship in 2005. But the latest round of rumors—particularly the oft-repeated notion that the two are bound by a so-called “marriage contract” (see box)—has spurred the couple to speak out. “It’s a pack of lies,” Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields tells PEOPLE. “There is no such contract. The entire report [about a marriage contract] is garbage.” Nor, says Fields, is there any agreement giving Cruise control over everything from Holmes’s religion to the number of children they have, as several tabloids have alleged. “There is no dating agreement, there’s no agreement she has to be a Scientologist or that she has to have two children,” he says. “This is totally false.” Adds the source close to Cruise: “When the lies involve their children and family, it crosses the line. And that they won’t stand for.”

Rumors are a fact of life for the high-wattage pair, but the intensity with which they’ve swirled in recent weeks has baffled friends, who say that the Tom and Katie they know are nothing like the verge-of-splitting couple portrayed in the media. “Tom is still so in love with Kate, and she is so in love with him,” says a source close to them. “They talk on the phone several times a day, surprise each other with flowers and beautiful notes to each other.”

Career demands do make family togetherness a challenge. On the Romantics set, “she is in a great mood, but I think you can tell she misses [Tom],” says a crew member. Contrary to reports that Holmes has been a loner on the set, the actress has in fact been socializing with many of her costars, including Anna Paquin, Elijah Wood and Josh Duhamel, all of whom joined Holmes and Cruise for a Nov. 17 dinner at the Frisky Oyster Bar on Long Island. “They were chit-chatting with the rest of the cast,” notes owner Dennis McDermott. “It was very lively.” During a Nov. 10 dinner at the eatery, the pair engaged in some serious PDA. After arriving with Suri and a nanny, “they made out like kids in the back seat,” says McDermott. “It was kinda cute.”

Friends scoff at stories that Cruise dictates everything from what Holmes wears—lately she has traded her ultra-glam styles for a more relaxed wardrobe—to what she orders at restaurants. (For the record: At Bricco, it was Holmes who chose the first course—house-made polenta—for the couple to share.) In her marriage, “she takes a leading role in organizing her family’s social lives,” says the source close to Cruise. “She is the nurturer.”

Like her husband, Holmes remains committed to the Church of Scientology. “There is no question about what dedicated Scientologists they are,” says another source close to the pair, who chose a hotel a few blocks away from the local Scientology center while Cruise filmed in Boston. Although Holmes has shown no signs of wanting to leave the church, the source close to the couple says she is used to the swirl of rumors about her beliefs. “If she’s in L.A. and going to the [Scientology] center, that means she’s burying herself in her studies because that’s the only way she’s going to keep Tom,” the pal says of stories that Holmes is leaving the church. “And if she’s not showing up at the center every day, then everything is going horrible.”

Mostly, though, Holmes and Cruise are focused on the real star of the family: Suri. On the Australian set of Holmes’s upcoming thriller Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark this summer, “Suri would sit in a big director’s chair,” says executive producer William Horberg. While Holmes was filming, he adds, “Katie would have to set some limits: ‘It’s Mom’s work time now. You can watch me or go play in the art room.'” On days when Cruise would stop by, “he loved to pick Suri up and take her around to various sets—kind of give her the Tom Cruise tour,” says Horberg.

A bubbly girl who shares her mom’s sweet tooth and her dad’s people-pleasing gregariousness, Suri is “an old pro” on sets, says Dark associate producer Nick Nunziata. “But she’s still in touch with being a kid.” In Boston, Suri charmed onlookers at Sprinkles ice cream stand one afternoon. “She wanted all the sprinkles—a spoonful of every color,” says owner Carol Troxell. And at Charley’s restaurant, Cruise apologized when Suri spilled salt and showed her how to leave an extra tip. Still, when it comes to discipline, “Tom is more of a softie,” says the source. “He loves spoiling his girls.”

At home in Beverly Hills, the trio screen first-run movies at their $35 million mansion with pals David and Victoria Beckham, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tom’s kids Bella, 16, and Connor, 14. Despite spending Thanksgiving on separate continents while both continue work on their respective films, Cruise and Holmes “are looking forward to the family being together for Christmas,” says a source. Adds Fields: “They’re a loving couple, they adore their child, and they’re getting along great.”

RUMOR #1

Tom and Katie Have a “Marriage Contract”

Tabloids have claimed Tom required Katie to sign a three- or seven-year contract when he married her that spells out everything from her clothing allowance to her support for Scientology to cash bonuses for having babies. “It’s a pack of lies,” says Cruise’s lawyer Bert Fields, who has served one magazine with a legal notice demanding a retraction. Reps won’t comment on whether the couple had a standard prenup, but Fields calls any claims that Katie made a pact to remain a Scientologist or have two children an “absolute fabrication.” Where do those who know the Cruises think the rumors are coming from? Says one source close to them: “Warped imaginations.”

RUMOR #2

Katie Wants Suri to Attend Catholic School

After Katie and Suri were spotted near a sign for Boston’s Yawkey Center for Children and Learning—whose name is similar to a Catholic-run institution—rumors churned that Katie (who was raised Catholic and became a Scientologist) wanted Suri to attend Catholic preschool. In fact, Suri has a private teacher.

RUMOR #3

Tom’s Kids Bella and Connor Feel Left Out

“Tom loves being a dad to Bella, Connor and Suri,” says a source, refuting rumors that his kids with ex-wife Nicole Kidman are on the family’s periphery. Both are homeschooled in L.A., but Connor, a budding actor, has been filming Red Dawn in Detroit. Both he and Bella spent time visiting their dad in Boston this fall.

RUMOR #4

Suri’s Wardrobe Costs $3 Million

Yes, she has strong opinions about what she will wear (heels! skirts!)—and what she won’t (pants are a definite no)—but Suri’s outfits don’t cost millions, says a source. Still, she’s a true mini-fashionista, mixing babyGap with the occasional pricey shoe. “She loves clothes and she picks out her own,” says Holmes.

RUMOR #5

Tom Tells Katie What to Wear

Holmes told Elle that her husband often critiques her fashion choices: “He’ll say, ‘I think that dress might be wearing you.'” But after a radical makeover following her courtship with Cruise, during which she adopted a high-fashion look, Holmes has been returning to her comfy-chic roots.

FOR MORE, VISIT PEOPLE.COM/KATIE_HOLMES

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