"I would've been happy with anyone, but I think he has a really cool edge. He was [fourth season champ] Julianne Hough's partner for five years, so you know he's good." Ballas, having taken notes from Hough's experience, gave Bryan the low-down.

"He said, ‘Women have a lot harder time on Dancing With The Stars because the main focus of the couple is supposed to be the woman,'" says Bryan.

sabrina bryan and mark ballas still dating 2016-3

"For the producers and the talent to come up to us after the show was amazing, because they were so upset. And when I saw her at The View a few days later, she was still emotional about it." For her part, Bryan has been remarkably self-possessed and gracious about leaving the show.

But her true feelings came out two days later when she danced with Ballas again on The View.

We haven't had a chance to do any of that [dating] or even talk about it.

We didn't even realize that people would think that about us until they started asking us.

"That was the first time I actually showed a little more of a vulnerable side and cried because Mark and I did our Cha Cha again (their dance from the first week of competition) and we wanted to do it the same way that we did in the beginning," says Bryan. It was so disappointing." And now that she's home, there is a huge void.

"And when it ended, it was so heartbreaking because we knew we weren't going to get a chance to really show America what we wanted to do in the competition. All of these celebrities, who've been practicing so hard, run on fumes for the first days and weeks after the show. "It's so weird not to be rehearsing right now," she says.

It isn't even so much that they have to compete with the male celebrities. "I mean, I'm in a music group now with the Cheetah Girls.

According to Ballas, says Bryan, the bigger problem is that "the female stars have a hard time competing with the professional women." But Bryan and Ballas consistently wowed the crowd. And one of my biggest fears was stepping away from them and not having someone around me that I felt was my true family. And the fact that Mark and I were able to get so close so quickly was so awesome. It made me able to trust him in ways that would've stopped or held back my performances had I not trusted him." And although Byran acknowledges that people started talking about them as a couple weeks ago, she says they haven't gone down that road – until now.

Because you get so close to someone, you get so comfortable, that you don't even see it." But the dead giveaway may have been the moment when Bryan called Ballas "Baby" on the air when they said their thank-yous on the dance floor in front of millions.

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Her big break was the Disney movie The Cheetah Girls.