DAVID Petraeus's former mistress has emerged from hiding and is said to be "devastated" over the affair that ended the former CIA director's career.
Paula Broadwell (40) returned to her home in North Carolina for the first time since the scandal rocking the US military broke and signalled that she is possibly preparing to break her silence.
She told waiting reporters that she would issue a statement "soon".
The mother of two refused to say more but behind the scenes she appeared to be preparing to mount a fresh public relations campaign.
As well as hiring Robert Muse, a high-profile Washington lawyer who helped investigate the Watergate scandal, Mrs Broadwell has reportedly begun taking media advice from Dee Dee Myers, Bill Clinton's former White House press secretary.
An unnamed friend of Mrs Broadwell's said she was "devastated" by the hurt she had caused her family.
Mr Petraeus (60) also appeared to be bracing for further fallout from the scandal and has hired Robert Barnett, a lawyer who has represented Mr Clinton and Tony Blair, to help him deal with the ongoing investigations.
Mrs Broadwell, who was the former general's biographer before becoming his lover, had sought refuge in her brother's $2m (€1.56m) Washington home since news of the affair broke on November 9.
She has returned to her house with her husband, Dr Scott Broadwell, and tried to regain an element of normality by dropping their children off at school.
"At some stage I'll have a statement for you guys, just not right now," Dr Broadwell said outside the family home.
Neighbours were seen carrying plates of food into the house.
She has confided in friends that she "deeply regrets the damage that's been done to her family and everyone else's".
She also explained to a small group of friends and neighbours that she is "trying to move forward", adding that she had been "overwhelmed" by their support.
She remains under investigation for apparently sending threatening emails to Jill Kelley, a woman perceived to be a rival for the general's affections, and for the possession of classified documents that were found on her laptop by the FBI.
Mrs Broadwell has yet to go on the record about the scandal, although Mr Petraeus appears to have no such qualms. He spoke to CNN last week and has hired Mr Barnett to help him exit public life.
Mr Barnett – who represents such celebrities as Barbra Streisand – is particularly renowned for helping members of the political elite negotiate book deals.
His previous clients in that area include Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.
But the website Politico, which revealed his appointment by Mr Petraeus, said the general has no book planned. (© Daily Telegraph, London)