Cheryl Cole, Derek Hough ‘really are a hot item’

Updated: Jan 03, 2011, 12:24 PM IST

London: Cheryl Cole and dancer Derek Hough are actually in love, according to pals.

The hunky 25-year-old American has brought some spark back into Cole’s life after her nightmare year in 2010, says his close mates, reports the Daily Star.

The pair sealed their love with champagne and a passionate kiss on New Year’s Eve at a private party in South Africa.

And the smitten pair made a New Year’s resolution to act like a proper couple.

Pals could not wait to spread the word that after months of teasing fans, Cheryl and Derek really are a hot item.

“I don’t think it’s a secret they’re dating,” dance trainer Corky Ballas, one of Utah-born Derek’s closest friends, tweeted.

“Cheryl and Derek are together and don’t care who knows it. She sees her future with him,” a source close to the X Factor beauty said.

“2010 was the worst year of Cheryl’s life. Now she is looking forward to happier times with Derek.

“Cheryl’s been very careful about jumping in too soon after her divorce but she’s convinced the time is right.

“They’ve decided it is time to stop playing games with fans and to finally admit what we all suspected,” the source added.

Sources say Cheryl is planning to take Derek on a second holiday – a ski trip in the Alps to celebrate confirming the secret.