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'The Bachelor' star Ben Flajnik cuts Nicki Sterling, selects his final two


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/28/2012 

The Bachelor star Ben Flajnik eliminated Nicki Sterling and narrowed his love search to two women during last night's broadcast of the ABC reality dating series' sixteenth season.

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Nicki, a 26-year-old dental hygienist from Hurst, TX, was eliminated during the ninth episode's Rose Ceremony after Ben had one-on-one overnight fantasy dates with each of his three final bachelorettes.

"I was in love with him and I've never been in love with somebody who doesn't love me back, and that really hurts. I feel kind of like a fool for falling so hard and so fast for somebody who wasn't really sure. I thought I was ready to be a wife. After this, it's going to take awhile. Like I told him, I hope he's making the right decision. I really hope for his sake he does not get hurt. With me, I could promise him that wouldn't happen, but just -- oh God," Nicki lamented following her ouster.

The Bachelor's ninth sixteenth-season episode began with Ben and the remaining three bachelorettes traveling from Los Angeles, CA, where the last Rose Ceremony took place, to Interlaken, Switzerland for their fantasy overnight dates.

Before starting his week of fantasy dates in Switzerland, Ben reiterated how there was a part of him that feared he would get hurt again and end up alone. He said he was starting to fall in love with all three women. Nicki was the "dark horse." Ben said she was warm, loving and enticing.

Ben expressed how Lindzi Cox, a 27-year-old business development manager from Seattle, WA, was open, honest, funny, and comfortable with being herself. He said he could see raising kids with Lindzi and her family in the type of environment they thrived in.

Ben then went on to say he felt a "magical force" pulling him towards Courtney Robertson, a 28-year-old model from Santa Monica, CA, and her family. He said he liked that she was a little nerdy and very unique, while the chemistry he experienced with her was unlike anything he felt before in his life.

However, Ben was worried about how Courtney had treated the other women and thought maybe there were things to the model he wasn't seeing. He planned on asking the women questions he was afraid to bring up earlier in the season in the hopes of finding clarity and hopefully determining which girl should become his fiancee.

Ben's first one-on-one overnight date was with Nicki and they took a helicopter ride to observe the "majestic" view of the Swiss Alps. Nicki said she felt safe with Ben, while Ben thought their relationship was grounded but also happened to be accelerating to new heights. He thought she'd be a great person to have by his side in life.

The couple then enjoyed a picnic atop a mountain. Nicki told Ben that once she had discovered how well Ben fit in with her family, it clicked that she was in love with him and that he was the right one for her.

"I am in love with him and I would love to scream it from the mountain we were on. My feelings are at an all-time high for him. That's why I'm so hopeful and excited right now, because it's not, 'Yeah I love this guy.' It's that I can see life with him," Nicki said.

"Spending the day with Nicki, I always feel like I have a smile on my face. I always feel happy and things are good. The spark, 'the wow,' the little 'extra factor' I was looking for with Nicki, I found today," Ben said. "I'm hoping she'll say yes to an overnight tonight, because it feels like we're continuing our love story."

Nicki thought she started something with Ben that was going to last forever, while Ben felt totally comfortable with her and said that every moment he got to spend with her was better than the last.

Later that night, the couple enjoyed a dinner in a candle-lit log cabin. They talked about having kids in their futures and Ben said he wanted four kids because he wanted a big family, while Nicki was at least set on two. She told Ben she could definitely see herself living in his hometown, working there and spending her days, nights and weekends with him.

"She's incredible... She's putting herself out there 100% percent and not holding anything back in the hopes that this works, and I want to see if we can take it to the next level. And so, I'm a little nervous about giving her this card tonight. I hope she's ready for it," Ben said.

Nicki then opened a letter Ben gave her, which was a fantasy suite invitation with a key inside from The Bachelor host Chris Harrison. It offered her the opportunity to share a night alone with Ben in some type of suite, rather than go to her own room by herself. Nicki was quick to accept the invitation and wanted to go there as soon as possible. Ben was flattered and looking forward to spending more alone time with her.

"It's been about a year-and-a-half since my husband and I separated, but it's a fantasy suite. It's not something I take lightly. This is a big deal. I'm in love with this guy and at this point, we're very close to the future. We're less than weeks away from a possible proposal. We have the emotional connection, we have the physical connection. I feel it's very important to let him know how I'm feeling because he's making bigger and bigger decisions as time goes on and I don't want him to have anything unanswered," Nicki told Ben.

Ben had told Nicki earlier in their date that her father reminded him a lot of his own dad, and she told Ben she really took that to heart and it meant a lot to her to hear him say that. Nicki knew how close Ben was with his father before he passed away, and she said she believed they had the same morals and values, which was extremely important to her.

Nicki then told Ben she didn't want to sound cocky, but she knew she would make him very happy if he picked her in the end and would give him all the things he needed in a relationship. She thought he was a good man and deserved that much from his partner.

"Nicki exudes confidence. Confidence is something I've been looking for in a woman my entire life, since day one. I want someone who's confident and independent and passionate, and Nicki has all of those qualities," Ben said. "This night has been utterly amazing. She makes me feel at ease and I see a life with her."

The couple then kissed in a hottub and Nicki told Ben again that she loved him.

"I want to be that person he proposed to at the end of this because I feel like we would be very genuinely happy together. I would be very fortunate to spend my life with Ben. I want that. I feel that I deserve it. I found love and I want it, so it's crazy!" Nicki said.

Lindzi had the next one-on-one date with Ben and the couple went rappelling down a 300-foot rocky ledge. They both were very scared, but Ben felt comfort in looking at Lindzi the whole way down. He liked how she was willing to try anything and was open to taking risks. Ben and Lindzi both felt good about conquering their fears together.

"Today was a thrill-seeking day, but I think I'm more scared to tell Ben that I love him. Because a year ago, I had my heart broken. It was awful, but I just feel that I really am in love with him and I don't know if I'm ready to tell him that yet," Lindzi said.

After their adventure was over, the couple sat in a hottub together, relaxed and discussed how Lindzi had become more vulnerable throughout her journey on the show. Lindzi told Ben she felt like their relationship could not only work, but work really well. She knew she was in love with Ben and was anticipating telling him that.

"I'm loving being with Lindzi. I've had an incredible day with her and I'm noticing a more affectionate side of Lindzi today and more openness and willingness to want to be with me. I love Lindzi," Ben said. "But I wonder if we're going to be able to get to the vulnerable state that we both need to be in. We both have those feelings of lasting love. I think that tonight will be a telling sign of where I stand with Lindzi and I."

Later on, the couple enjoyed a dinner and Lindzi admitted it was hard to give Ben all of her because she had been hurt so badly in the past. She never wanted to settle in a relationship, and being with Ben made her realize how unhealthy and unhappy her prior relationship really was. Lindzi desired to be vulnerable with Ben and risk getting hurt, because in the end, she'd have no regrets.

Lindzi then told Ben she was falling in love with him and would like the journey to end with an engagement.

"Immediately when she told me that, I was thinking, 'God, I'm really starting to love this woman,'" Ben said.

Ben gave Lindzi the fantasy-suite invitation, and although she admitted it was a bit out of character for her to spend the night so early on in a relationship with a guy, she was thrilled to accept the offer and spend more alone time with Ben.

"I know it can be really difficult for Lindzi to express herself, and so I'm honored in the fact that she accepted the fantasy suite card and wants to spend the rest of the night together. I was a little worried that Lindzi wasn't in the place to fully open up to me, but I feel like tonight, I'm not really worried anymore. We're really moving forward now. I could be with this woman for the rest of my life," Ben explained.

Lindzi said it felt "really real" that she was in love with Ben and felt she opened up so much and let him in. She cared very much about him and put it all out on the line because she believed he was worth it. Lindzi could see spending the rest of her life with Ben, and she said it felt great to fall in love with him.

Ben also admitted to cameras he loved Lindzi and could see himself being with her for the rest of his life. She made him happy and she had everything he wanted to find in a woman in a relationship.

It was then Courtney's turn for her special day and Ben took her on a train which eventually stopped in a small town that they were going to walk through and explore. Ben admitted he had concerns to address with Courtney about how she had treated the other women.

However, the couple enjoyed their date and Ben liked how interested in the Swiss culture Courtney was and how she wanted to learn new things. Courtney loved Ben's company and felt there was never a dull moment when they were together. She was looking forward to traveling with him in their future together.

"I can't think of another place I'd rather be or someone else I'd rather be with," Courtney said.

"It's getting clear that every time I see Ben I can picture a life and see us starting a life and having a family and kids. I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world that this great man came into my life, and I'm so happy I hung in there because it's been a really long journey. It's been tough for me at times, and looking back, I feel bad for treating the girls the way that I have and I just hope that he knows that I'm a good person and I hope it doesn't get in the way of what could be the best thing to ever happen to me."

The couple bought snacks to eat on a picnic, and when they finally sat down together, Courtney told Ben she felt bad about things she had done during her time on the show and would've probably done some things differently. Ben said she basically "twisted the knife" a few times in his other bachelorettes and that her actions had made the journey a bit more difficult for him at times.

Courtney explained she said some words that were hurtful to the other girls and Ben, who was seemingly growing more upset and frustrated, bluntly admitted that Courtney's behavior was "pretty messed up." However, he wanted to finish the first portion of their date on a high note, so he stopped talking about the issue and attempted to rid the thoughts from his mind.

"He's everything. He's everything I ever dreamed of and wanted and I love him so much. I don't want to hurt him and I feel like all this stuff with the girls is hurting him and in the back of my mind, I just feel like there's this dark cloud over me. It's like a fear of losing him. I don't know if we can recover from all this stuff," Courtney said in tears.

Later on, Courtney told the cameras she was disappointed in how she had acted, but there was ultimately no excuse. She hoped the damage she caused the other girls wouldn't result in losing Ben. Courtney told Ben the experience and all the drama brought out the worst in her at times, and Ben said he worried he saw a different person in Courtney than everyone else did the entire time.

Courtney told Ben she was falling for him early on and had her guard up. She didn't want to seem fake, but Ben said "being fake" wasn't his concern. He was hesitant because Courtney was someone he was falling in love with, but he found it extremely hard to keep hearing such negative things from the other women.

Ben wasn't sure whether Courtney would give him the support he needed when he got back home, and he told her he really wanted things to work between them. Ben told Courtney he had many female friends and women in his family he cared about and spent a lot of time with and Courtney would have to be understanding of that.

Courtney then apologized for being immature and saying things she shouldn't have. She admitted she wasn't proud of her behavior, and Ben appreciated how she at least owned up to and acknowledged her mistakes and didn't deflect the problem. Courtney told Ben she cared about him and told him he was a great man. She wanted normalcy in her life and she wanted that with him.

"It's a weight off my shoulders hearing Courtney apologize for the way that she's handled herself towards these other women because I was having huge doubts and concerns in this relationship if I didn't hear it from her. So the fact she held some accountability for her actions, I feel like we're good and moving forward," Ben said.

Ben told Courtney he was ready to take their relationship to the next step and hoped to share uninterrupted moments with her after he gave the fantasy suite date card and she made him state his case of why she should accept the invitation.

"I feel like I'm in a fairytale... I'm with the guy I am in love with in a hottub under the stars. It's just the most romantic thing I could ever think of and I just feel so lucky because Ben is the best thing that has ever happened to me," Courtney said, adding the date was the most romantic experience she ever had.

After his overnight date with Courtney, Ben believed all of his concerns were laid to rest-- until, Kacie Boguskie, who was eliminated the week prior, arrived at his hotel room. She was hesitant to even knock on the door, but he answered and said "holy sh-t!" immediately upon seeing her. He was shocked and she could barely catch her breath because she was so nervous.

Kacie B. was looking for closure because she was devastated when Ben denied her a rose and sent her home. She told him he couldn't rationalize what went wrong once she got home and wanted answers.

Kacie B. said she was so confident in what they had and their relationship going into the last Rose Ceremony and it was very hard to get that thought out of her mind.

Ben told her they were "worlds apart," as they came from different families and backgrounds. He didn't think he could give her everything she needed. Ben told Kacie B. she did absolutely nothing wrong, but he just didn't see her in the end with him and the last thing he wanted to do was drag everything out longer for her.

Ben wanted to protect her by letting her go when he did as to not hurt her more in the end -- which was actually the request of Kacie's father when Ben had visited her family during last week's hometown dates. Kacie B. told Ben she wished she could've talked to him after their hometown date, especially about the issue of moving in together, which her parents expressed disapproval over.

Kacie B. said those decisions were her own to make, but she always wanted to make her parents happy. She told Ben that because she loved him, she didn't want to see his heart get broken again. Kacie B. told him if he was to choose Courtney in the end, he'd get his heart broken.

Ben asked her what she knew and she said she was always sitting back and observing things while she competing for him. She believed Courtney was in it to win it and told Ben she had made comments such as, "If it's not Ben, there are other fish in the sea."

Kacie B. said she cared about Ben a lot and just wanted him to be happy, and he had trouble processing everything. He then walked her out and they said goodbye to each other. Ben was speechless and Kacie sprawled out on the floor of the hotel crushed.

"It was really hard to say goodbye again. My heart's still broken. I mean, I just had to walk away from him again. I really thought Ben was that person that I was going to share my life with and I really thought this was it, that I had found him and I was done -- after everything I've been through, that this was it and it was finally going to work out," Kacie B. said.

"I don't know if I'll ever see him again and that's hard, but I got answers. I still love him. I do and I don't want to see him hurt. If he proposed to Courtney, he's going to get hurt and he doesn't need that again."

Kacie B.'s arrival clouded Ben's judgment all over again.

"I feel like I had made my decision and then all of a sudden, Kacie knocks on my door. Kacie's returning really kind of threw me for a loop. Ugh, it's a terrible feeling. I thought that I was getting to a good place with Courtney and when Kacie brought up the fact that Courtney is not a good person, it absolutely made me realize, 'Do I really like this woman or am I being played?' I don't know what to do right now. I am at a loss and I really hope that I make the right decision," Ben explained.

Ben then sat down with Chris Harrison and they talked about recent events. He explained Kacie's return and said he started second guessing and questioning himself after her visit. Ben admitted he wasn't questioning his feelings, but he was confused about whether he had been making the right decisions all along and will end up with regrets.

Ben didn't want to allow Kacie B. to be in the Rose Ceremony because he was overwhelmed, but he began speculating things about Courtney all over again that he believed he had happily put to rest by speaking with her during their date. He told Chris he had incredible dates with all three women, and although he was going through a tough time, he still felt very lucky to be on the show.

Before Ben had to hand out his roses, he pondered his journey thus far. He was confused and felt he was in a good place with Courtney, but then wondered what her motives were and whether she had the right intentions. He didn't want to "screw up" his chances with a potential life partner, and he could see a life with all three of his remaining women. He admitted he wasn't going to make any decisions until the very last minute.

The Bachelor's ninth sixteenth-season Rose Ceremony then commenced.

Ben gave roses to Lindzi and then Courtney. Afterward, he walked a saddened Nicki outside to the limo.

Ben complimented everything he liked about Nicki and admitted to her he had a "pit in his stomach" and even cried that day because he was torn when determining who was right for him. Nicki told him she didn't regret falling in love with him but feared he'd be hurt one day. She told him she wanted the best for him because he deserved that.

"I feel terrible in this moment. I had a connection with Nicki from the very, very beginning and I really enjoyed every moment I spent with her. It was just I feel stronger for two other women," Ben told the cameras after letting Nicki go. "I'm still not very good at saying goodbye. I don't like to hurt people's feelings, but saying goodbye to her, was the hardest thing I've had to do so far."

Also in the episode, viewers were introduced to former fifteenth-season The Bachelor bachelorette Emily Maynard -- who discussed her pre-The Bachelorette experience. She met up with former The Bachelorette stars Ali Fedotowsky and Ashley Hebert, and the three girls had makeovers and then saw Titanic in 3D together.

Ashley and Ali gave Emily advice about how to handle her upcoming journey to find love, and they both believed she could find exactly who she was looking for on the show.

(Photo credit ABC)


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