How we met: ‘Two girls had broken in. I threw on a towel and ran out to meet them’

The Christian Brothers – “kind of like monks,” says Dreux – would not have been happy to know that two teenage girls had broken into the dormitory of their all-boys’ boarding school in Louisiana. “These men had taken vows of poverty and celibacy, and they didn’t deal with women very well at all.”

Dreux was 18, and was working at his old school during the holidays, helping to run its summer camp. He had been having a shower when one of the boys ran in to tell him two girls were in the dormitory. “I threw on a towel, ran out and met these two young ladies and said: ‘You can’t be here,’” he recalls.

One of them was Dianne, who was accompanying her friend Penny, who was trying to find her boyfriend, also working on the camp. They didn’t know which room was his, so they went round knocking on doors until they found one that was open. Dreux smiles. “This is a secure residence – there are minors here. The doors are supposed to be locked. Someone must have left a door unlocked intentionally. All the young men were very excited to find young ladies in the dormitory.”

He told the pair he would find Penny’s boyfriend and meet them in a nearby bar. Then he got other camp staff to cover his night duty. “There was no debate, I was going out,” he says, determined to get to know Dianne.

“I was intrigued by the audaciousness of a young lady who was willing to be adventurous in this way,” he says. “That was the first impression. The lasting impression was from the conversations we had that night. She was wicked smart and intrigued me to a level that I had never felt before.”

Dreux and Dianne in 1991.
 Dreux and Dianne in 1991. Photograph: Dianne Bourque

What did Dianne, who had met Dreux when he was wearing only a towel, like about him? “I thought he was really handsome,” she says. That night they talked about what they hoped for in life. “Where we want to be, our dreams and aspirations,” says Dreux.

They kissed and made plans to see each other the following weekend. Then, for the next three years, they lived about 90 minutes from each other – Dianne was training to be a nurse, and Dreux was at college – seeing each other at weekends and speaking on the phone a couple of times a week. “We would spend hours talking, and to this day we just spend a large part of our relationship in great conversation,” she says. “He is my best friend, my husband, my lover, father of my kids, but at the end of the day I really just tremendously enjoy his company.”

Dianne says she knew she wanted to be with Dreux long-term fairly quickly. “He was different,” she says. “He was smart and engaging, and I knew really early on he was pretty special. At 18, most boys are all about the chemistry. That was important, but he wanted to know who I was. There was a book called 1,001 Questions and we would sit and ask questions from this book for hours: ‘What does your brain think about this? What does your heart think about this?’”

Dreux was less keen to settle down: “I wasn’t ready to be in a committed relationship. That really wasn’t what I was hoping for.”

“You were 18, it’s fine,” says Dianne.

Dreux continues: “She was very patient with me, and I don’t know why she waited. Eventually, she rattled my cage and said: ‘Enough – you’re going to have to make a decision.’”

They married six years after they met, and moved to Dallas in Texas where they raised their two sons. Why has their relationship lasted? “I think because we put each other first,” says Dreux. “And he’s funny,” says Dianne. “We love each other, but we really like each other. It’s like having your best friend be your roommate – it’s just fun.”

It took years, she says with a laugh, before she would tell people how they met. “We’re straitlaced individuals. It’s so embarrassing and it’s not really who I am today.” Dreux smiles: “As she reminds me, I married a criminal.”