Richards says her romance with Richie Sambora was unexpected

By Emily Fromm
Updated June 12, 2006 04:40 PM

Denise Richards has spoken out for the first time about her relationship with Richie Sambora – and the reports that she betrayed her “best friend,” Sambora’s estranged wife, Heather Locklear.

“The thing with Heather, that’s been hard,” she tells Entertainment Tonight in an interview airing Monday night. “You can’t help who you fall for and that friendship, unfortunately, was done and wasn’t salvageable.”

Richards, 35, was in Las Vegas Friday night to emcee a performance by the Pussycat Dolls when she spoke with ET.

In the interview, she insists that her relationship with Sambora, 46, which began shortly after Locklear filed for divorce from the Bon Jovi guitarist, was “the last thing I was looking for,” adding, “it’s true when they say things happen when you least expect it.”

In terms of her relationship with Locklear, Richards says they were never “best friends” as has been reported. “People have gone on – ‘Would you date your best friend(‘s husband)?’ ” she says. “You know, she wasn’t my best friend. She was a close friend in the last couple of years. I hadn’t known her my whole life (like) people (are) portraying this.”

Still, Richards admits, “(It’s) been tough having people think that I’m such a crappy friend.”

She also insists that Sambora and Locklear’s marriage was over – as was her own union with Charlie Sheen – before she and Sambora got together. “We didn’t meddle in marriages and anything like that.”

As for her divorce from Sheen, Richards says of her allegations in court documents that he threatened to kill her, “Unfortunately the thing with Charlie and I – that was a court document that became public. I didn’t hand it to a tabloid and say, ‘Here, print this.’ And it’s sad, and it’s horrible that it’s gotten to the point that it’s gotten to.”

Sheen’s camp, meanwhile, has noted that the document was filed by her own lawyer and not under seal as other papers had been.

A judge recently extended a restraining order requiring Sheen to stay at least 300 yards away from Richards and their daughters Sam, 2, and Lola, 1.

The recent events have changed Richards profoundly, she tells ET: “I was always a people pleaser and I just finally got to the point in my life after having my daughters and going through a really ugly divorce … I’ve just gotten to the point where life is so short and I just want to be happy.”