Deft in the Dark

updated 01/15/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/15/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

As marriage-proposal scenarios go, it sounds romantic to a fault. On Dec. 22 Joshua Morrow, who shows off his handsome mug as coffeehouse owner Nick Newman on the CBS soap The Young and the Restless, planned to pop the question to girlfriend October Keeney, a former swimsuit model turned elementary-school teacher, at the sunny Santa Barbara Mission rose garden where they'd had their first date. But that was four years ago, and the L.A.-based actor had long since forgotten how to get there. With Keeney (known as Tobe to friends) blindfolded for the surprise "Christmas present," the couple, both 25, finally arrived at the garden in darkness. "I had to hold a flashlight under my face à la The Blair Witch Project," says Morrow. "Then I flashed it on the ring"—3.1 carats—"and then on her face to see her reaction." "Oh, my God!" Keeney cried. Naturally, he took that as a yes.

Back in '96, Keeney had a cooler response after their chance encounter at a Santa Barbara bar. Morrow, she says, "was relentless and annoying." He saw things differently. "I knew she was the one. She's normal and nice and doesn't take any of my crap." Ah, love. Planning September nuptials, the couple still live apart-though separated only by six L.A. blocks. "I was adamant about getting married first, then buying a house together," she says. "It means a lot to me, and he respects that."

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