However, with hometown dates -- and the hardest elimination decision yet for Mesnick to make -- the 34-year-old medical marketing representative and single mom from Huntsville, AL found herself as the odd woman out as she was eliminated by the ABC dating reality series during Monday's broadcast.
"You know what, if it is meant to be, it will be. I truly believe that," Stephanie said following her elimination. "I've come through such a difficult time, and now my husband, it is the fourth year anniversary [of his death], so I'm through that and I've developed that happiness with my little girl, and I just need somebody to join me."
"I thought this could be it, this could be that wonderful, wonderful man in [my daughter] Sophia's life, but it just, at this time, it just didn't happen. One day it's going to happen," she added.
The Bachelor's fifth thirteenth-season episode began with host Chris Harrison meeting with the five remaining bachelorettes in the competition and informing the girls that, since they were the ones that Jason had "[seen] a future with" they would be traveling to Seattle to get to know Jason in his hometown setting.
He added that the girls would be going on two one-on-one dates and one group date, but that no roses would be handed out until that week's Rose Ceremony.
As the girls prepared to leave for Seattle, they talked excitedly about the possibilities of what lay ahead of them.
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"I would love to see Jason in his own element, because one of us is going to be moving there and starting our life there, I'm so excited about that," said Melissa, a 25-year-old sales representative from Dallas, TX.
"I think going to Seattle will bring a certain reality to this," added Jillian, a 29-year-old interior designer from Peace River, Alberta, Canada. "Oh my God, if we meet [Jason's son] Ty, I will be floored, I will be so excited to meet that little guy."
Jason arrived in Seattle before the girls and was excited to see his son. He later explained the reasoning behind his decision to break protocol and eliminate an extra girl at the last Rose Ceremony.
"I decided to only bring five girls to Seattle because, first and foremost, I didn't see a 'forever' [situation] with the other three girls," Jason said. "What's important this week is the girls see me in my hometown, and also for them to come here and see if they fit here to see if they like it [here and see] if they think they can live here."
Upon arriving at their hotel, the girls learned that Melissa would be going on the first one-on-one date with Jason later that evening. Naomi -- a 24-year-old flight attendant from Carlsbad, CA who had not yet received a one-on-one date with Jason -- expressed some shock at his choice.
"Did I miss something here? We get to Seattle and I'm thinking I'm gonna have that first one-on-one date with him because naturally I'm the only one who hasn't, so it would make sense, but the first one-on-one date was given to Melissa, who already has had a one-on-one date," she said. "I was kind of like a little bit shocked."
However, Melissa was thrown a curve ball of her own after she got prepared for the date and waited patiently for Jason to arrive. Back at his house, Jason was forced to abandon plans for a "night on the town" that included a date at the Space Needle and a helicopter ride after Ty didn't want him to leave him alone.
"Me going on a date is just me taking time away from Ty, and especially because I haven't seen him in a week, he just wants his daddy back," Jason said.
After waiting for nearly half-an-hour, Melissa received a call from Jason asking to amend the plans for the evening and instead have her come over to his place for a relaxed evening after he put Ty to bed.
"That's real world, it is!" Stephanie told the shocked girls after hearing of the change in plans. "[It] happens all the time with children. You just have to be adjustable."
However, the girls' shock was quickly replaced by jealousy as Melissa left and they realized that she may meet Ty before the night was done.
"Instantly what all of us thought is there's the potential for Melissa to meet Ty, and Ty is the biggest part of Jason's life, it's part of Jason's heart," a jealous Jillian said.
Once Melissa arrived at Jason's house and waited for him to put Ty to bed, the two enjoyed a low-key "real world" evening. While Jason didn't want to have Ty actually meet her, he allowed Melissa to take a peek into his room with him.
"We were sitting there, kind of hugging and just looking over at Ty and I went 'Whoa, this... that's what it could be like,'" Melissa said. "I feel very privileged that Jason let me come upstairs and see him. I know that means a lot to him, and because of that it means a lot to me."
After talking about whom she would introduce Jason to if she was able to bring him home for a hometown date, she added that she had not often brought boys home, but wanted to bring Jason home because she saw "something special about [him] that I want them to see."
The following day, the bachelorettes received a note saying that Stephanie, Jillian and Molly, a 24-year-old department store buyer from Grand Rapids, MI, would be going on the group date with Jason, which meant that Naomi would finally receive her one-on-one date with Jason.
"I am so excited to have my one-on-one date with Jason, it's been a long time coming," Naomi said excitedly. "Tomorrow the most important thing I have with Jason is time. Time to ourselves and nobody else in the picture, which makes me happy."
For the group date, the girls met Jason on a boat and were given a "Best of Seattle" tour. After stealing Stephanie away to go to steer the boat, Jason told her how much fun he had on their one-on-one date in which they had celebrated her daughter Sophia's birthday.
"[It] blew me away how fun she was," Jason told Stephanie.
Following their time together, Stephanie reiterated that she had begun to develop strong feelings for Jason.
"Right now I could see [Jason and I] having a family together," she said. "He has given me reassurance because I am here in the Final 5. The people he could see being his wife."
Jason and the girls then traveled to a radio station where they met with radio hosts Jackie and Bender to be interviewed as Naomi and Melissa listened back at the hotel. Highlights included Jason being interviewed as the bachelorettes on the group date looked on through sound-proof glass, Jason revealing that his favorite one-on-one date had been with Stephanie and that Molly was the best kisser, and Jason passing a kissing contest in which he correctly identified Molly, Stephanie and Jillian after they kissed him while he was blindfolded.
After returning to the hotel after their radio station visit for drinks, Jason took Jillian aside for some private time to address his concerns that her relationship expectations were too high and that she was just on the show for an adventure.
Jillian admitted to having high relationship expectations and said that she had been looking for that "special feeling" and was prepared to make a commitment to the right person when she might have been too afraid to in the past.
For her one-on-one date with Naomi, Jason told her that he had been "saving the best for last." The date began with an aerial tour of Seattle in a seaplane.
"Naomi is amazing. She is gorgeous and beautiful and fun," Jason said. "I mean this is her first one-on-one date, and I'm happy with the way things are going now."
While Naomi was away on the date, Stephanie told the other girls that she felt Jason would choose a wife with a certain amount of maturity and didn't feel Naomi would fit the bill.
"I think Naomi is a doll, but I think she's definitely not on the same maturity level as the other girls are, and Naomi is probably not the perfect match for him," she said.
After the seaplane, Naomi and Jason traveled to a rock-climbing wall, exciting Naomi further.
"I got the best date," she told Jason excitedly. "I love Seattle!"
The couple scaled the rock wall together before settling on its summit, where they talked more.
"I think its safe to say that I've begun to fall, and I know that it's taking a risk, its taking a gamble with my heart, but I feel like after today I'm ready to do that and I have to do that if I want to end up with him," Naomi said later.
After the rock wall, the two ended the night with drinks by a fire. When Jason asked to find out more about Naomi's family, she admitted that she had some fears that she would replicate the actions of her mother, who married at age 19 and later divorced after "falling out of love."
"That scares me, because I've been divorced an I don't want to have that happen again," Jason said later of the revelation.
"Today I climbed a wall and walls came down," Naomi said later. I'm definitely letting him in now and I know it takes the right person that makes you wanna open up and let your guard down and share everything with. Jason is that person."
The following day, prior to making his final decision on who to eliminate, Jason surprised the girls at their apartment and took time to speak privately with Jillian, whom he admitted would be the girl who "broke his heart" if any of the remaining bachelorettes had the potential to.
"I had my heart broken the last time I was here, and I can't go all the way to the end to the final day and have somebody [on the show] who is not in love with me," Jason said. I needed to make sure that Jillian's still here for me."
Jillian admitted to him that she often would put her guard up and act strong while the other bachelorettes were struggling in the house. She reiterated that she was committed to him, and promised to try and let her guard down more.
"I realize that this is the way this could all happen for me," Jillian told Jason. "I love the girls, and I love supporting them, but, but I felt like a lot of my energy has been supporting them and not being able to focus on just me."
At the Rose Ceremony, Jason took a moment to speak to Naomi to make sure that she was indeed prepared to commit to him and be ready to take part in his life, which Naomi confirmed she was.
The ceremony then commenced, with Jason revealing that Jillian, Melissa, Molly and Naomi had received roses while Stephanie had been eliminated. However, to demonstrate how conflicted he was about letting Stephanie go, Jason made a point to show his gratitude to Stephanie in front of the other girls as he held back tears.
"I wanna say this in front of everybody," he said. "You are the most amazing person I've ever met, and I think we are all better people for meeting you here. You are a beautiful person, outside and in. I'm so glad to have met you."
"I'm just glad I could be a part of this and just to be here," Stephanie responded. "If my story can reach anybody, I'm so glad it did. You are an incredible man, I wish you the best."
The Bachelor's next episode will air Monday, February 9 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC.
(Photo credit ABC)
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