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By Kat Giantis
Life has changed a lot for Bradley Cooper in the wake of his dinner date last week with Jennifer Aniston. Suddenly, he's a bona fide paparazzi target, even when he's just carrying a bag of groceries into his Los Angeles home.
That was the scene on Wednesday morning as shutterbugs approached the actor and asked about his evening out with the "adult, stable male"-seeking A-lister. His response is about what you'd expect.
"We're just friends, man," he downplayed with a smile.
The tabloids, however, aren't convinced.
"Jen & Bradley -- It's On!" screams the cover of the latest Star magazine, which has a riveting account of someone who touched digits with Cooper, 34, and Aniston, 40, during their late-night rendezvous on June 18 at a New York City eatery.
"I went over to say hi to them," recalls the eyewitness, "and I noticed they were holding hands under the table because they let go to shake my hand."
RELATED: See photos of Jennifer Aniston
The actress, whose fickle romance with John Mayer breathed its last in March, "is really excited" about her "He's Just Not That Into You" co-star, says a snitch, claiming, "She feels a connection to Bradley."
Another spy believes the feeling is mutual: "Bradley knows that Jen comes with a lot of baggage. But he's not denying he has feelings for her."
According to Us Weekly, it was Aniston who made the first move.
"Yes, they are starting to date," says a source. "But it is very, very new. Jen asked him out. She's definitely after him."
OK! magazine, meanwhile, declares the pair a good fit but says they're proceeding with caution.
"They're both sticking their toes in the water," relays an Aniston confidant. "That's all it is at this point -- though he's so right for her, in my opinion, that I hope it turns into more. They certainly have a chemistry."
The former Mrs. Pitt apparently isn't looking to rush into anything with Brad 2.0, whose marriage to Jennifer Esposito crashed and burned only four months after they tied the knot.
"She's moving at a snail's pace about all this," continues the source. "It's not a romance yet, but they are interested in each other."
Or are they? At least one insider is suspicious about the coif-tastic actress's motivation for stepping out with the newly in-demand "Hangover" star.
"Instead of going out with a normal guy, she'll go after the hottest thing of the moment because it will get her the most time in the spotlight," the mole snipes to Us. "She knew paparazzi would be on them [during their date] and that it would be a huge story. She did the same thing with Vince [Vaughn] and John. This was so set up."
Not so, says Aniston's rep. And even though she hasn't been spotted with Cooper since their NYC noshing, that could just be a scheduling issue.
On Wednesday afternoon, Brad was snapped jetting out of Los Angeles for Europe, while Jen is busy shooting "Bounty Hunter" in New York and New Jersey with Gerard Butler, who will likely soon find himself the unwitting third wheel in the inevitable tabloid tales about how he's battling Coop for her affections.
From Crowd Ignite