Deena Cortese (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
"I didn't have Nicole to drink and go out with, and that was always my go-to girl in the house, and I didn't have her anymore, and on top of that, I missed my boyfriend," she says of her beau, Chris Buckner, whom she's dated for almost a year since meeting him through mutual friends back home. "I was just going through, like, a lot. And the roommates — you'll see in the later episodes — now they're making fun of me. It was just like a really hard season. Honestly, I probably shouldn't have even went into the house [this season], but it is what it is, and it shows. I was having a really hard time."
For the first time, Cortese and the rest of the gang were beginning to think about more than partying. Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino had just finished rehab for prescription pills. Jenni "JWoww" Farley and her boyfriend (now fiance) Roger were spending time together. The on-again, off-again lovebirds Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola were back on, and have since moved in together.
Cortese and BF Chris Buckner (Thelonius/Splash News)
Meatballs Deena and Snooki (Brian Prahl/Splash News)
What led to her arrest
The end of the most recent episode showed what had to be Cortese's lowest moment of the season. Since Snooki wasn't available to party like they used to, she stepped out solo for a day of drinking on the boardwalk, and ended up getting so drunk that she could barely walk, and was arrested for public intoxication. Oops! "I was like, alright, let me go out, and let me drink, and let me get back into my old ways," she says. "But that wasn't me anymore." She says that after facing a $175 fine and some concern from her parents, everything is fine.
Now, the 25-year-old explains that she's much more about hanging out with Buckner than hitting the bars. The couple announced on Twitter Monday that they're looking for a puppy, and she says that they're even talking about moving in together. (When they do go out, no drinks with sugary mixers are allowed! Cortese sticks to vodka with club soda and extra limes, so she can maintain her recent 15-pound weight loss.)
Cortese insists that the romance is much more balanced than it seems on TV. "The people in the house and, I felt like, the producers were portraying my relationship like I was too clingy and Chris wasn't liking it, and they don't even know my relationship," she says. "We have a great relationship, and he loves the way way I am."
What she's planning next
Although filming that final season was difficult, Cortese notes that she still has a bond with the housemates. "We went through a great experience with each other," she says. " It'll probably be like a family. You keep in touch with some, but they're always there. I'll probably keep in touch with a couple. I know I'll keep in touch with Jennie and Nicole. And the boys, we throw texts here and there." The reality star visited her pal Snooki and her newborn baby Lorenzo just last month. "He's so cute!" she says about her friend's new addition. "He's like a little peanut, and he makes me excited for later on in life, when I decide to pop out a little peanut."
For now, Cortese is focused on her career, which includes her new hair care line called Wisper. "[It's] an awesome product, and we're trying to move that into a bigger store. I'm also working a clothing line called Shore Couture, and it's going to be completely different," she gushes. "Girls that are thin can wear it, girls that are heavy can wear it, it's just going to be a very flattering fit of clothing for all sizes to make people feel sexy. I would also like to get into voiceovers for cartoons. But if none of that pans out, I've said to myself, 'You know what? I'm going to go back to school for hair and makeup.' So people will take me seriously with that, and I'll open my own salon."
But first, her difficult days at the "Jersey Shore" have to air. "They really just showed some of my hard times, especially up until Episode 8," Cortese says. "But after that, I was having a good time; They just didn't really show my good times."
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