My hometown threw a HUGE party last night and Nick Lachey was the marquee player. He performed, he greeted the fans, he pimped his record, and he also showed up with a case of Vanessa Minnillo. Although they tried to avoid being photographed together over the weekend, sneaking in and out backdoors at clubs and restaurants, my spies tell me they were very much a couple, as in touchy feely gropey, and even a little more. I hear Vanessa attended the awards with Nick but stayed in the VIP and gift lounge area while his publicist made sure no photographs were taken. Vanessa seemed very comfortable with his entire crew, playfully picking out swag items for his band members, as if they’d all been friends for quite some time and two sources reported that “it seems like she’s already part of the entourage and it doesn’t look like they’ve only been together for a couple of weeks.” Vanessa herself is apparently a doll, super friendly, super chatty. At one point she stopped at the Luxxotica suite where celebrities were treated to complimentary designer shades and she was overheard saying how much she loves sunglasses – that sunglasses are like handbags for her and that she had already picked up 4 pairs in Toronto. As for Nick, everyone said he was in great spirits all weekend, and that while he and V took pains to keep their distance in front of the cameras, they had no trouble letting loose once they couldn’t be photographed. In fact, on Sunday night at an afterparty, I’m told he was holding her close and her hair was damp, clinging to her face, and he “tenderly” (their words, not mine) pushed a few strands off her cheek, and she looked up at him and smiled and he smiled back but not in a pervy way and altogether now…AWWWWWW! So anyway, here’s Nick on the carpet, a little too short beefcake for my taste but I can totally see why he might appeal to yours. And I really really like his smug little grin. Whoever said revenge wasn’t sweet or important was obviously out her f*cking mind. Eat that Jessie!!!