Countdown to Bliss

Keilani Best and Garrick Meikle Met: Feb. 10, 2000 Engaged: April 27, 2001 Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 24, 2002

Garrick Meikle of Brooklyn was trying to sell Internet content services at a boring publishing convention in New Orleans when suddenly, across the aisles of collapsible booths, laminated ID cards and promotional squeezy stress balls, there was this total babe . She looked like Iman, the model.

Keilani Best was reporting on the convention for a Florida newsletter. She couldn’t help but see the 6-foot-1, muscular Mr. Meikle out of the corner of her eye-he was pacing and staring at her.

“I immediately thought he was a sales guy,” said Ms. Best. She told him, “O.K., give me your two-minute spiel.” Mr. Meikle reserved the last 30 seconds to ask for her room number at her plush hotel in the French Quarter.

The phone jangled at 1 a.m. Mr. Meikle wanted to go gambling. “I was like, ‘What an idiot!'” she said. She went back to sleep.

The following evening, she bumped into the idiot on the convention hotel escalator just as he was calling her room on his cell phone; she found something cute about his boyish enthusiasm. Dinner followed in the restaurant downstairs. Sold.

They spent a year and a half calling each other several times a day and racking up frequent-flyer miles. Ms. Best, 26, has a 5-year-old daughter, Keilah, and enjoys seeing Mr. Meikle, 33, play father. “I can’t ever imagine him being cold or callous,” she said. “He’s just a teddy bear.”

One night, Ms. Best was primping for the Essence Awards in Mr. Meikle’s Clinton Hill apartment. He was late coming home and found his belle rather frazzled, miffed by his tardiness.

As she was fastening her earrings, Mr. Meikle suddenly said, “How would you feel about wearing more jewelry?” Then he whipped out a three-carat diamond ring with six baguettes and a platinum band.

Ms. Best was overwhelmed with shock and took a few days to say yes.

She’ll leave her current job as a copy editor and Web producer at Florida Today this summer and move north with Keilah and Mahalo, a parrot who will have to adjust to Mr. Meikle’s tanks of exotic fish. The nuptials will take place at a country club in Titusville, Fla., near the Kennedy Space Center, where a space shuttle is scheduled to launch right around the day of the wedding.

– Anna Jane Grossman

Aparna Mukherjee and Will Swarts

Met: Dec. 10, 1997 Engaged: Dec. 23, 2001 Projected Wedding Date: May 11-12, 2002

“Who’s the L.L. Bean man?” wondered Aparna Mukherjee.

It was one of her first nights in Hong Kong as a freelance journalist; she was at a party, and she’d just spotted Will Swarts, a light-haired, blue-eyed fellow in a plaid shirt.

It turned out that Mr. Swarts was also a journalist, and somewhat disenchanted with his “expatriate experience”; he believed the Asian financial crisis was drying up all the cushy assignments. Ms. Mukherjee asked his advice on landing a job in Hong Kong.

“Try Indonesia,” he said.

Undeterred, Ms. Mukherjee called Mr. Swarts a few days later to solicit his help on a story about American Christmas trees “on sale” in the city for outrageous prices. Again, he blew her off.

“In expat communities,” he said, “people tend to come and go from your life.”

One day, however, they found themselves alone in the local Foreign Correspondents’ Club, a smoky, wood- paneled relic of Hong Kong’s days as a British colony. Ver-r-ry romantic.

Then, when Ms. Mukherjee landed a fun assignment to fly to the southern Thailand island of Koh Samui and write about a colonics spa frequented by members of the Grateful Dead, she invited Mr. Swarts to join her.

“A beautiful woman had invited me to join her in a tropical paradise,” he thought. “I’d be a fool not to go.”

Their relationship continued in Calcutta, where Mr. Swarts won over Ms. Mukherjee’s parents by fixing their toilet. Later, in Mongolia, they discussed the prospect of a future together while riding horses near the Siberian border.

In the fall of 2000, the couple settled down in an East Village apartment. Mr. Swarts, 32, is now the managing editor of HedgeFund.net, a Web site for the hedge-fund industry, and Ms. Mukherjee, 28, is a producer for Bloomberg News.

The two will be married by a Hindu priest in Princeton, N.J., with a nondenominational ceremony to follow the next day in Bryn Mawr, Penn. In the fall, they plan a move to Berlin. Auf wiedersehen , L.L. Bean man!

-Blair Golson

Jake Rahiman and Victoria Thomas

Met: May 1999 Engaged: Feb. 24, 2001 Projected Wedding Date: July 27, 2002

Jake Rahiman and Victoria Thomas were co-workers in the human-resources department of Moody’s, the credit-rating agency, and Ms. Thomas was having a rough time with her boyfriend. Mr. Rahiman was talking her through it.

“I was rather impressed,” she said. “Most guys would try to get me to dump the other guy to get into my pants.”

Well, Mr. Rahiman was applying a little nuance.

“I didn’t want to be thought of as the one breaking the relationship,” he said. “I also didn’t want to be the ‘rebound guy.'”

The more time they spent together, the more they marveled at the similarities in their backgrounds. They both came from conservative, hard-working immigrant families: He was Indo-Filipino-American, she was Haitian-American. They were both Libras, and they both had graduate degrees in public affairs.

“I kind of viewed her as a female version of me ,” said Mr. Rahiman, who, at 35, is seven years older than Ms. Thomas.

After a few more months of acting as her relationship counselor, he got fed up.

“Look,” he said, “I’m attracted to you, and I think you’re attracted to me.”

This was news to Ms. Thomas, who had thought of Mr. Rahiman as a “friend.” But sometimes the nice guy does finish first.

“I went home and started to reconsider my future, my family, my career, my partner,” Ms. Thomas said. “And Jake seemed to fit into my picture.”

She had another blow-up with her boyfriend. She sought solace at Mr. Rahiman’s place and never left.

“I kind of seduced her,” he said. “It wasn’t even a dating situation. We were basically married.”

To hide their relationship from their co-workers, they would lie about vacation destinations and stagger their entrance and departure times at work.

“I was paranoid,” Mr. Rahiman said. “If there was a direct question, we’d do a Clinton: deny, deny, deny.”

The relationship improved when they both found new jobs-Mr. Rahiman at Citigroup’s human-resources division and Ms. Thomas at the insurance firm CNA. In the winter of 2000, they were putting a down payment on a $2,000 Yorkshire terrier called Mocha from Pets on Lex when, Mr. Rahiman said, “something hit me. I got my dog. We’re making a big commitment. Why not do the other stuff as well?”

The next day, Ms. Thomas found a diamond ring tethered to the dog’s beanie baby.

-B.G.

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Countdown to Bliss