The Split Gets Ugly
But behind the staunch public denial, friends say the embattled Mills McCartney, 38, is privately falling to pieces. "She is sobbing constantly," says one friend. "She is in a terrible state. She is barely able to speak. She feels betrayed and let down."
Her estranged husband is feeling the sting as well. "Paul is deeply shocked by the claims that have been appearing," says a close pal. "It would be right to describe him as being devastated." Another source says that although rumors about Mills McCartney had churned within British media circles for years, the former Beatle had been in the dark regarding the extent of many of them. "I think they were going into a romance and not a business deal, so [the veracity of the rumors] wasn't looked into by his people," says the source. "There was simply no idea it was going to unravel like this." As the tabloids continue to spin, "it is like some sort of bad drug trip for both of them."
The former couple have been dealing with the fallout separately: Sir Paul, who turned 64 on June 18, retreated to his Sussex estate, while Heather was spotted visiting the couple's London home on June 12. A source close to Heather says the parents "talk a lot" and are in contact regarding their 2½-year-old daughter Beatrice, for whom they are sharing child-care duties.
For the most part Mills McCartney has been leaning heavily on her friends, many of whom have expressed public outrage about the latest round of tabloid claims. "I just don't believe the stories about her," says her longtime pal Philip Goodhand-Tait. Of the News of the World claim, he says, "She is just not the kind of person who would be a prostitute. Goodness me, no." Says another friend: "There is absolutely no truth to her being a prostitute." In the June 13 statement from her lawyer, Mills McCartney says she will delay legal action until after the divorce proceedings are complete "but intends to sue at that stage." (The News of the World told PEOPLE that the paper stands by the revelations "200 percent.")
At the eye of the tabloid firestorm, Mills McCartney—who is still recovering from an April "revision amputation" to refit her prosthetic left leg—"is just drained," says a friend. "She has lost about 14 lbs. Every time these articles are written it's like putting a dagger in her heart." But a friend of McCartney's fears the storm has yet to pass. "I have an overwhelming feeling," says the pal, "it is going to get worse."