Brooks Ayers might be physically out of Vicki Gunvalson’s life, but he’s definitely still a part of it.
“We have unfinished business,” The Real Housewives of Orange County star tells ET. “I did not want him to leave me.”
The couple split up for good last August while the 10th season of the Bravo hit was airing.
“Anybody I've been with, I will always love,” Vicki admits. “I always will care for and love Brooks, regardless of what he did and why he did it, I will never know … I know I didn't lie for him, and I know there's a lot of questions I'll never get answered, but I love him.”
“I think my breakup with Brooks was much harder than both my marriages,” she adds. “Isn't that crazy? … I never was hurt as much as I was with Brooks. So, that was an indication that I was really in love with this man … I will always care for him until I die.”
Season 10 focused heavily on questions surrounding Brooks’ possible cancer diagnosis. It still remains unclear if he was actually sick or faked the illness.
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“I do know I witnessed a sick man,” the insurance entrepreneur says. “How sick? Whatever illness he had or has? I don't know. But I witnessed a sick man.”
Vicki says she returned to the show to set the record straight. Her co-stars will continue to have questions about whether Vicki was in on Brooks’ alleged cancer lie this season.
“I felt up against an army that were not willing to move past this relationship with Brooks,” the 54-year-old shares. “Why won't they let it go? Were they in love with him? Why won't you let it go? He was my guy!”
“We had the highest ratings [last season] 'cause of Brooks,” Vicki notes. “These women should be happy! They're back because of Brooks. They should be kissing the ground he walked on.”
The star calls her castmates’ questions about Brooks “a witch hunt to destroy him.”
“They did a pretty good job,” Vicki remarks. “Nobody deserves that on national TV. I mean, it's still affecting his career now. [Clients ask],‘Oh, aren't you the guy from reality Housewives who faked cancer?’”
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Vicki confesses she still thinks about her ex, and they catch up semi-regularly.
“We talk maybe once every other month,” the star shares. “I usually reach out to him. You know, ‘How you doing? How's your family? How's business?’ I care about him.”
“He wasn't right for me,” Vicki laments. “I don't know... I don't know why everything was so icky. It wasn't meant to be, I guess … I have no bad feelings about him. Other than what he did to me at the end. I just had a great, great ride with him. It was a lot of fun.”
Still, if Brooks came to Vicki today and asked to get back together, the Housewives star says she would have to turn him down.
“I'd have to say no, just because of the conflict with my daughter, [Briana],” Vicki admits. “I chose my daughter over Brooks.”
There is another man Vicki would immediately get back together with, though: her ex-husband, Don. The couple divorced in 2014 after 20 years of marriage.
“Don, I would actually consider it,” she confesses. “Don was a good, solid guy, and everyone loved Don … I wish Don and I were still together. My life would be a little calmer, a little more certain. Don was very solid.”
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Vicki says her all-time favorite moment out of all 11 seasons on The Real Housewives of Orange County was renewing her vows with Don in 2010.
“It was kind of a last-ditch effort to save my marriage,” she recalls. “I wanted it to work more than anything ... but it would take an act of God or a miracle to get it back. But, our history was good. We were good people together.”
For now, Vicki is happy in her new relationship with politician Steve Lodge. The two are taking things slow, and Vicki says she’s excited to see where things go. For her, marriage is definitely still the dream.
“I do want to be married again,” she shares. “I'm only 54. If I live to how old my mother was, which was 83, I could have 30 or 29 years with somebody. How great would that be?”
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo. Check out more from our chat with Vicki in the video below.