He Loves Her Spirit, Energy, Laugh, and Her Daughter

“I noticed her immediately and kept an eye on her all night,” Mr. DeLuca said.

Just before she went home, they talked briefly and shook hands, and he told her they should “get together some time for coffee or lunch.”

The next day, Mr. DeLuca had a much longer conversation — with a mutual friend. “I just asked him: ‘What’s the story with Sophia?’ ”

Mr. DeLuca said he was told that Ms. Tang was “a super-amazing woman with an adorable 7-year-old daughter.”

Was there any more to the story, he wondered? “Oh yeah,” the mutual friend said, “she’s not dating anyone seriously.”

With Ms. Tang’s permission, Mr. DeLuca received her contact information and sent her an email to see if she was interested in going out for drinks. Not only had she remembered him from the business dinner — “I thought he was just lovely,” she said — but Ms. Tang said she also had received glowing reports from their mutual friend, as well as three co-workers “who Googled him and found nothing but great things.”

Feeling comfortable, she called him with a better suggestion: “How about dinner and martinis?”

After coordinating their busy schedules, they went on a first date, and by the start of the holiday season, they were dating exclusively. “Her beauty is obvious, but we just had a special rapport,” Mr. DeLuca said. “She has great spirit and I love her energy, but what I love most is her laugh, that’s what really sold me.’ ”

Ms. Tang made it clear to Mr. DeLuca early on that whatever he was sold on was part of a package deal that went hand-in-hand with her daughter, Wilhelmina.

“While she was always excited to have Steve visit, she was also wary that this new friend seemed to occupy more and more of my time,” Ms. Tang said. “So increasingly, dates became a threesome, spent at home, over Scrabble or Osmo or storytelling.”

Months later, during a whirlwind tour of Italy with Wilhelmina in tow, Ms. Tang was knocked off her feet by a bad case of the flu. Mr. DeLuca suddenly had two women in his life to care for, an ordeal that drew all three of them closer together. Later on the trip came what Ms. Tang called “a defining moment.” On an early morning in Venice, Wilhelmina unexpectedly scurried onto Mr. DeLuca’s lap.

“It was one of the true moments of joy in my whole life,” Mr. DeLuca said. “I could feel my heart swelling.”

Mr. DeLuca, then a 50-year-old bachelor living on…

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