August 02, 2004 08:00 AM

Photos of Paris Hilton taken at Los Angeles Airport before she boarded a flight to New York show her bruised on the lip and arm – prompting questions in tabloids on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Whatever happened to her was obviously very painful,” reported London’s Daily Mail alongside photos that also ran in New York’s Daily News, the New York Post and other papers.

Paris’s sister, Nicky Hilton, also is seen in the photos comforting her sibling. Close-ups of Paris revealed that “The Simple Life” star had a fat lip and black-and-blue marks on her arm, making it appear as if she had been manhandled.

The Post reports that last Monday in Los Angeles, Hilton, 23, and her ex-boyfriend Nick Carter, with whom she only recently split, were seen dancing sweetly together until things got rocky when Carter wanted to leave for another party and she wanted to stay where she was.

Carter’s lawyer, Marty Singer, denies that Carter had anything to do with Hilton’s injuries. He said she was due for a Tuesday photo session with celebrity lensman David LaChapelle. “It was going to be an S&M shoot,” Singer tells the Post.

As for any suggestion that Carter, 24, had anything to do with Hilton’s bruises, the lawyer said: “This is all because Paris was upset by what Nick told PEOPLE magazine.”

Among what Carter told PEOPLE about their seven-month relationship: “I want to be free to date other people, and I got tired of all the rumors (about infidelity).”

Speaking to the Daily News, Hilton’s spokeswoman, Tracy Schaeffer, would say only: “We’re getting all our ducks in a row now for her and we don’t want to say anything to the press now.”

On Sunday, Paris was showing a stiff upper lip at a family event in Southampton, N.Y., where her mother Kathy was shooting her reality show.

A woman answering the phone at the Hilton spread in the Hamptons told the Daily News that Paris is “absolutely fine.”

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