She has a broken second toe on her right foot. And her left ankle is swollen to twice its size. But General Hospital star Kelly Monaco wasn't going to let anything stand in the way of performing a contemporary routine on Dancing With The Stars: All-Stars with her pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy.
Monaco broke her toe earlier in the day during camera blocking. "We had three takes in rehearsals and she broke it on the first take," says Chmerkovskiy. "But she didn't tell me. And the second take, I said, 'Come on, we need more.' And she's quiet. And just did her thing. Then we had a break and she said, 'Oh, by the way, I broke my toe.'"
"I couldn't walk, so I knew something was wrong," says Monaco, 36. "And then it went black and blue all over and puffed up. I had someone look at it. But there's nothing you can do with a broken toe. You just tape it up and call it a day."
Or you would, if you didn't have to compete in a couple of hours in front of 12 million people. Monaco toughed it out, and even though she ended her routine in tears, it seemed to have little to do with her broken toe, and everything to do with the relationship developing between Monaco and Chmerkovskiy, 26 and 10 years her junior.
While the two refuse to define what's going on between them ("no labels," says Val), Monaco talks about Val "breaking down my walls." After their dance Monday night, Chmerkovskiy carried her down four stairs to stand next to host Tom Bergeron and get their judges' comments. Then, when that was over, he picked her up again and carried her to the skybox to debrief with co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet. (The pair scored 37.5 points, third best of the night.) After the show, taking questions on the press line, she snuggled in Chmerkovskiy's arms, standing only on her left foot.
Ask Monaco what she was feeling during the routine and she says, "It was really raw and emotional and accurate and truthful. Val is helping me learn how to trust again."
When asked if she feels all of those emotions every day at her soap job, she shakes her head with a firm no: "There's a certain place it comes from when I'm telling someone else's story [on the soap]. But this is my story, our story. It's coming from a much different place."