The show may be over — but the drama is far from finished. While stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey will reunite Tuesday (Bravo, 9 p.m. ET), PEOPLE sat down with Caroline Manzo and Danielle Staub — separately! — on the same day to discuss their feud. Here, in their own words, the reality stars explain why they made the decisions they did in the show’s confrontational finale — and attempt to get at the truth behind the sensational claims in the book Cop Without a Badge. — Mark Dagostino & Brian Orloff
Where They Stand Now Caroline: She’s invisible to me. I never had a relationship with her, I never wanted to have a relationship with her and due to her behavior, I will never have a relationship with her. She’s a pathological liar. She is manipulative. She is an opportunist. She has no conscience; she has no morals. Danielle: Why would I lie? If you’re going to call me a pathological liar, challenge me. I’m a human being, and on the inside my heart aches just like theirs does. Just because there’s so many of them that doesn’t mean that their pain is any more important than mine.
Who Is Lying? Danielle: I have a big problem with Caroline. I think she’s a big bully. She’s lying. And I don’t understand her motives. Protecting your sister is one thing, but what exactly are you protecting her from? Caroline: A lot of are upset with me for “lying for my sister.” I didn’t lie for my sister. That’s not who I am. And there’s no truth to that at all. If Dina showed that book, I would have let her fight her own battle. So, Danielle, sorry to disappoint you again.
Bringing Up the Book Caroline: At my son Albie’s graduation party we found out this book exists and immediately we went to the computer in the office and we Googled it. We read an excerpt from the contents and we were blown away. The next day, I went to the library and I got the book. Dina and Jacqueline knew I was going, and we got back to my house and read it together and had tremendous concerns. Danielle: They would not give me the chance to talk about it, and I thought bringing the book to dinner was the only way to get them to pay attention. They were running around even with that book laying there. If I hadn’t put it there, it never would have been addressed. It was the strongest way to say, “I have you all in one room and like it or not, the cameras are going to see that.”
Is Danielle Dangerous? Danielle: Really? Was it my father-in-law that was killed and shoved into a trunk? I’m dangerous? I knew about this through the whole show. I didn’t bring it up once. I’m classy. But let’s talk about what’s really dangerous here. I’d like to hear about the two siblings that they haven’t talked to in a decade — why they made their wives so uncomfortable that their own brothers won’t even speak to them. But I’m the one who caused trouble in that family? Don’t point the finger at me, ’cause I’m not sitting back anymore. Caroline: People say, “Well, why didn’t you go to her?” Because that reputation preceded her. The woman we knew was incapable of telling the truth. After screaming and arguing for days and days, we made a decision not to tell Danielle that we know the book exists. If we play dumb, it can’t come back to haunt us. And that’s the decision we made as a family.
What About the Kids? Caroline: The true Danielle is in those very last moments of that footage from the final episode. That is the true unfiltered Danielle, with that cigarette. And who is her audience? Her children. Making pizza and climbing a rock wall don’t make you a great parent. Her children are well-behaved, well-mannered and they excel in school. But if you look at her children, they have a haunted look in their eyes. These children are paying the price for her irresponsibility. Danielle: My children were present for the confrontation for a very good reason. I not once used an obscenity. I not once started screaming at anybody. I not once tossed a table, or flipped out and banged my hands, or started pacing around. I was just sitting firm, waiting for my right of passage, so to speak. Did I put a burden on my children? Did I bring the book out? Were the Manzo sisters thinking of my kids? Was it me that put my kids in this position?
For more of the interviews with Danielle and Caroline, pick up the new issue of PEOPLENBC Universal