Nick and Vanessa Lachey have a bargain, they explained early in Monday night's episode of Dancing with the Stars: Whichever spouse scores lower each week has to rub the other's dance-sore feet.
Despite Nick's best efforts, Vanessa scored her second consecutive footrub Monday by leading a three-way tie for first place.
It was an especially impressive feat of fleet feet considering Vanessa's introductory package included an injury -- a torn-off toenail -- that left her sobbing on the floor.
"I've gotta squeeze that bad boy into my ballroom shoe and dance," she said, grimacing.
Her foxtrot to "Hit Me With a Hot Note" by Tami Tappan Damiano scored big with the judges, however, and earned her the highest score of the season up to that point: 24 out of 30. Vanessa promptly burst into tears again.
"As a foxtrot, it could not be foxier," judge Bruno Tonioli said.
Nick didn't fare as well. Although he started the season in the middle of the pack, a stumble during his own foxtrot to "Mandy" by Barry Manilow prompted judges to accuse him of being constrained and timid on the floor. He netted one of the lowest scores of the night: 19 out of 30. Only Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran scored lower at 17; basketball coach Derek Fisher tied Nick's 19.
Still, there's a chance for Nick to save himself from elimination in Tuesday night's show. Before his ill-fated turn Monday, he said he hoped he'd spend the season like the tortoise from The Tortoise and the Hare.
Like a tortoise, he said, he's "old and slow, but cute, right?"
Sure, man. Always.
Vanessa's challengers for first place were Broadway alumnus Jordan Fisher, who claimed a top spot the first week as well, and ESPN personality Victoria Arlen. Another dark horse contender? "Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz, who wowed the judges despite a longterm back injury from his stint as a racecar driver. He scored a point lower than Vanessa, Fisher and Arlen, but -- hey. Anything's possible, and subsequent weeks might see Malcolm rise to the top.
Want to show your love for Vanessa or help edge Nick away from the brink? Voting is open online.