Let Britney Spears shop for chandeliers. When it comes to diversion from a really, really ugly divorce, Sir Paul McCartney—18 months into his bitter breakup with Heather Mills—has found something better than retail therapy: romance. At Nichols restaurant in New York's East Hampton on Nov. 2, the 65-year-old singer dined well past midnight with one Nancy Shevell, 47, a vice president in her family's New Jersey-based trucking business. "He called the owner and asked that he keep the kitchen open late," says a source. "Paul wanted something intimate." According to Britain's The Sun, the two spent much of the next 48 hours chatting, walking on the beach—and stealing at least one kiss. While McCartney's rep had no comment on the relationship, a friend of the singer says he and Shevell—who is separated from her lawyer husband—are "just friends." Still, as the pal notes, "live and let live."

It's a motto that is hard to adhere to in the midst of his seemingly endless divorce drama. On Oct. 31 Mills, 39, broke down in tears during a TV interview on Britain's GMTV during which she chastised the nation's tabloid journalists for treating her worse than "murderers and pedophiles." The press fostered such hatred against her that, she says, she received death threats and was "close to suicide." Now, having "put the truth out there," says a close friend, "she feels vindicated." If still, as she has said, "in a prison." Mills would like to move to the States, but as she told Good Morning America on Nov. 1, McCartney objects, lest their daughter, Beatrice, 4, speak with an "American accent."

Not that he minds an East Coast lilt. While his lawyers wrestle with the details of divorce, McCartney seems to be focusing on Shevell, who also spent time with him in London in October. "They've known each other for a while," says his friend. "They move in the same social circles in the Hamptons." Whatever they make of their future, they won't be hindered by their past. Mills's friend says the activist is "thrilled" McCartney has moved on. As for Shevell's estranged husband, New York attorney Bruce A. Blakeman, he says, "I am legally separated from Nancy. The separation is amicable." In other words, live and let live.

  • Contributors:
  • With Pete Norman/London,
  • Molly Lopez/New York City,
  • Diane Herbst/New York City,
  • Alyssa Shelasky/New York City,
  • Natasha Stoynoff/New York City.