09/07/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT
In a broken engagement, is the woman obliged to return the twist-tie ring? That, you may recall, was the charmingly silly object TV superhero Dean Cain placed on country songstress Mindy McCready's finger when he proposed last September. Now comes a new twist: Marriage between Cain, 32, for four seasons the strapping star of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and McCready, 22, one of the few singers in Nashville with a belly-button ring, is a no-go, reportedly following a blowup last month that resulted in her taking off on a trip to Scotland alone. "I think they're both bummed," says a friend of the singer's. "I've never seen two people more compatible." But, she adds, "they rushed into things."
Cain, who met McCready at a concert in spring '97, "was completely enthralled," says his pal Lois & Clark regular Justin Whalin. Faster than you can say "Look! Up in the sky," the romance took off. She dedicated her recent album, If I Don't Stay the Night, to him. He directed two of her videos. And, says her friend, "they had these two great little dogs together that had puppies."
But apparently they never set a definite wedding date—"I thought that was kind of weird," says Cain's friend, stockbroker Dave Wilson—and professional stress may have tugged them apart. An aspiring actress, McCready "had let her career slide a bit," says her friend. "I think she realized, 'I can't just be here for him all the time.' " As for the ex-Superman, "He'll be okay," says Victor McGauley, associate producer of Cain's upcoming ABC-TV film Futuresport. "He's a strong guy."