No one could fault Katie Holmes if she disappeared for a while to a remote, exclusive tropical island with her daughter Suri Cruise in tow. But that's not what she did at all.
Since filing for divorce from Tom Cruise Thursday June 28 -- with the news breaking worldwide one day later -- the 33-year-old Romantics star has become a bona fide, out-and-about New Yorker.
With Suri, 6, frequently at her side, Holmes has made appearances throughout the July 4th week near her new, $12,500-a-month apartment in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood: A Project Runway taping, numerous trips to a local Whole Foods supermarket, ice cream outings and lunch at the cute kids' eatery Alice's Tea Cup on the Upper East Side.
On Friday morning, a serene-looking Holmes smiled as photographers and a video crew documented her stroll back into her new Chelsea home. (Watch the video above)
Still, with her estranged husband's well-known connections to the Church of Scientology, rumors have abounded that the actress and fashion designer is being trailed in NYC by members of the talked-about faith.
"With nine bodyguards, she shouldn't be scared!" says Steve Hall, a former member of the Church of Scientology, who worked closely with the organization's head, Cruise's pal David Miscavige, for years. "She should go out in public, because people are going to rally behind her," Hall tells Us Weekly.
Calling himself a "Scientology whistleblower," Hall explains that he's "still a Scientologist" and believes in the spiritual philosophy of the religion, but has distanced himself from "the organization" of the church itself.
"I wouldn't tell her to be afraid. She should be overjoyed," Hall says of Holmes, who stopped going to Scientology classes about a year ago, and who disagreed bitterly with Cruise over some of the stranger tenets of Scientology parenting. "She's free," says Hall, who runs the blog www.scientology-cult.com. "She should flaunt her freedom and latch on to it."