It is chaotic World War II England and William Peach brings his fifteen year old daughter to Endings Manor where he has taken the position of gardener. Miss Peach grows to be a woman and her father becomes old and ill, forcing her to stay as housekeeper to Lady Evelyn at Endings Manor. The years pass and Lady Evelyn dies, leaving Miss Peach finally alone, having known little else than housekeeping and tradition.
Left behind by Lady Evelyn is a letter addressed to George Robertson, one of Lady Evelyn's past romances. Miss Peach takes it upon herself to travel to New York and deliver this letter.
Once in New York, the provincial Miss Peach is overwhelmed. When she is dropped off at the wrong address she walks the streets confused, being knocked down and almost killed by Scarlet Fever, a New York drag queen. Fearing she might have seriously injured Miss Peach, Scarlet takes the unconscious woman to her apartment.
Scarlet believes Miss Peach to be a Lady and helps her track down Robertson, where together they break in to his apartment. It is here that Miss Peach discovers Scarlet is in fact a man and that Robertson has moved down south years ago.
Scarlet owes money to Troy, a sleazy pimp, and needs to get out of town. Together the two form an uneasy alliance and set out to deliver the letter to Robertson, who now lives in New Orleans.
Along the way they stop to visit Scarlet's family. Scarlet strips out of drag and asks Miss Peach to pretend to be his employer. Miss Peach reluctantly agrees, but seeing how badly Scarlet's family treats him, she leaves. Miss Peach declares she is not the "Lady" Scarlet thought she was, but in fact she is a housekeeper and that she can't stand to see Scarlet be less than what she is. Scarlet reveals the story of "her" self imposed family exile.
Miss Peach asks Scarlet to give her pointers on being a "lady" and by the time they reach New Orleans, Miss Peach has been transformed into an elegantly handsome woman.
Miss Peach finally discovers Mr. Robertson and reads him Lady Evelyn's letter. As she leaves, Scarlet challenges her to the truth, declaring it was Miss Peach, not Evelyn, with whom Robertson has been corresponding all these years. Miss Peach reluctantly agrees, but says Scarlet has shown her the life she wants to lead. Miss Peach's courage inspires Scarlet to return home and confront his family.
THE LADY IN WAITING is finally the story of two women who have given each other the strength to admit who they are and to force life to accept them on their own terms.
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